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Rocket's red hoax, and Carl Barger unveiled

Here at spring training, we live for the little things (smokehouse turkey paninis, a cool 45-mph breeze, a pleasant interview with a willing ballplayer). So when something major happens (the arrival of Nook Logan, for instance), we get ecstatic.

For the uninitiated, Viera is located just down I-95 from Cape Canaveral (close enough that John Patterson stays there during spring training, maybe a 25-minute drive to Space Coast Stadium). So when it was discovered that a Delta II rocket carrying a THEMIS exploration device (caveat: I have no idea about what I'm writing) would be jettisoned into space at 6:05 p.m. tonight, it was must-see TV.

A description of the mission from the NASA web site:

"THEMIS is a mission to investigate what causes auroras in the Earth's atmosphere to dramatically change from slowly shimmering waves of light to wildly shifting streaks of color. Discovering what causes auroras to change will provide scientists with important details on how the planet's magnetosphere works and the important Sun-Earth connection."

(More notes: If I was an experienced and cool and hip blogger like the incomporable Dan Steinberg or Basil from Federal Baseball, I'd be able to install those cool links things right into the text so that you could click on a story about the mission or go right to the NASA site or whatever. But I'm 36 years old and can barely type. So no such bells and whistles here.)

Anyway, not to complain about the weather again, but it's supposed to get into the 20s tonight. Still, at two minutes to 6, a bunch of us left the press box at the stadium (yes, still working) and trudged out to the top of the stands down the third base line, pivoted and faced northeast. (Why we were there early, I have no idea. NASA: "Ah, well, we're ready. Let's just launch the darn thing.")

So we waited. The wind picked up. We waited. (Didn't exactly bring long underwear to Florida). More wind. 6:05. No rocket. More wind.

(Point: The only reporter not to come out for the viewing was Bill "Rocket" Ladson of Irony?)

6:07. No rocket. 6:08, some dude calls out from the parking lot that the thing was delayed until tomorrow night because -- you guessed it -- high winds.

Also: Yesterday I said I would investigate who Carl Barger -- the man who the Nationals' minor league complex is named after -- was. Basil (of Federal Baseball, an excellent Nats blog) emailed me, as did a few other folks, proving my knowledge of the upper echelon of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the origins of the Florida Marlins is not what it should be. Mr. Barger was a high-powered Pittsburgh attorney who became president of the Pirates in 1987 and then took over the Marlins in 1991 -- before they played a game -- but also died before they played a game, passing in 1992. (Again, if I knew how to do those cool links, I'd have pointed you directly to his Wikipedia entry, from which this info is lifted.)

Thanks to Basil and a couple other readers for pointing out my complete ignorance. I have enjoyed many days at the Barger Complex, sure it was named after the president of the Brevard County Chamber of Commerce (which is to say, fast food restaurants).

Bonefish Willy's: Last night, quite good. Had mahi-mahi. Still the money shot of the Space Coast. Tonight: Sushi at the new sushi place on Wickham Rd. Had it the other night. Definitely branching out here in Brevard County.

A baseball note: Manny Acta threw batting practice today. He's itching to get out there and hit fungoes next week, but is struggling to adjust to his manager's role, in which he should do more overseeing.

(Hell of a baseball note, huh?)

I'll get to the story about my apartment soon. It's really not that good.

Boz arrives Monday. Hilarity will ensue. As will eloquence.

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 16, 2007; 6:23 PM ET
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