Mets in Viera: Mad Dog the Ambulance Chaser!

Great day today to take in a spring game. As I mentioned in a previous post, when you are at a spring game always be aware. Today I got to the game about an hour early (in Viera) and noticed John Franco behind home plate talking to a fan. I went down to say hello, as you can do in spring. The “fan” russowas in fact Bret Saberhagen, who was taking in a game and chatting with Franco. Even though John used to give me an ulcer watching him pitch, I was inclined to say hello and thank him for the memories. He was cool.


As this was taking place, Mad Dog Russo comes running up to Franco like a school girl. He started hugging him and messing with his hat. Then he noticed Saberhagen talking to Franco through the fence and was obsessed with getting him on his show. I now get the “dog” part of his name, since he reminded me of the cartoon where the small dog is trying to pal around with the bigger bulldog – “we’re pals aint we Chester”.  Saberhagen agreed to meet him later on his show and Franco continued to give Russo hell, as Russo then asked Saberhagen to walk up to the booth after he first told him that he would have someone come get him.


I then chimed in telling Franco to make Russo a Mets’ fan and have him stop ragging his team. Russo, in a dorkish manner, heralded Lincecum – like no one had ever heard of him. Franco and Saberhagen immediately asked if he saw the video game commercial with Lincecum (where his character shadows him). Russo hasn’t seen it – what a “tool”. The line of the day came from Franco. Russo was still giddy about Lincecum, saying he was the “real deal”. Franco said “yeah, know you’ll win one game a week”. All of us laughed but Russo. As he walked away Franco told Saberhagen (and me, by default) that he got Russo in a clubhouse prank 15 years ago. Russo clearly looked like an ambulance chaser. He also later walked around the stadium almost hoping that someone would recognize him.


Couple of points from the game, besides the pre-game. Murphy is working his ass off. He takes extra batting practice and is driving the ball to all fields. At one point I wondered if his opposite field hitting would make him vulnerable to the inside pitch. The next round he hit three bombs to right. He has the same obsession with practice that Wright does. Church doesn’t seem to enjoy spring, or just not today. He was jawing with his old teammates while playing the field, noting that he is not picking up the outside pitch this spring. He also hoped he wouldn’t be in the game much longer. He later dove for a sinking line drive, playing it into a triple. It was good to see him get a hit off of a lefty as well.


The “gangsta” was on the field hitting fungos before the game. He was also working with infielders by having them take fungos on their knees at fairly close range. Here he is hitting to his infielders:




Posted by Gene Anthony


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