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TVs and Slogans

Once again, we get to my favorite part of the day here along the Space Coast, when the sun sets low over the sod farms and cul de sacs, when the wind that has only the occasional strip mall to get in its way stiffens the flags out in center field and the shadows of the foul poles grow long.

In such a setting I just witnessed a beautiful sight: Grown men playing catch, cavorting in Space Coast Stadium's outfield, even pretending to climb up a wall and make an Endy Chavez-like catch. (Let's not bring that name, or that catch, up around here, come to think of it.) Who was doing this? None other than Brett Haber, he of Channel 9 back in our very own District of Columbia.

Yes, it's a week into Nationals spring training, and the television crews are starting to roll in. When Manager Manny Acta sat down at his morning press briefing at 8:30 a.m., he noticed the expanding throng. "More people!" he said. It makes sense that the TVs would arrive -- ahem -- late, because pitchers-and-catchers becomes old really fast (did anyone say five minutes in?) and if they spend time down here now, they can get all the position players, too.

Anyway, you all should have plenty of opportunities to see more Nationals coverage on the local TV news. In fact, you probably just missed some. Acta walked across the outfield out to the berm beyond left field to do a couple of live segments, and GM Jim Bowden followed. Big-time, baby. Comcast SportsNet is here (and, judging by today's announcement of our new show with them, perhaps we should have exchanged high-fives on the way in). Dave Feldman from Fox5 is here as well. (Discuss: Is Fox5 one word? Or is it Fox 5? Or Fox Five?)

Also: Much work still being done at Space Coast Stadium, part of the $2.6 million Brevard County is sinking into this landmark facility. (Question: What will cost more, the renovations at the stadium or the Nationals' starting rotation? My money's on the renovations.) With such an overhaul comes lots of work and lots of workers. Which, of course, can lead to moments such as ... well, I won't really say, but about 15 minutes ago, anyone who has ever seen John Belushi impersonating a refrigerator repairman would know what I mean. Yikes. Apparently, they don't sell belts at these strip malls down here.

Which brings me back to Viera, Viera, how do I love thee? I realize that I said, at some point in the last week, that I had been too hard on Viera, that I would give it a rest. I lied. As I sit here in the press box at Space Coast Stadium, the signs on the left-field wall (just below where the bank of TV lights burn like beacons in the gloaming) say everything.

"Live Viera--it's all here."

"it's all here--www.viera.com"

"Live Viera--it's all here."

Something of a theme. Marketing geniuses, they are. I must, however, quibble. Before I quibble, however, a story. Bear with me (or, who's kidding, just bail, because there's little if any baseball after this).

I started my sports writing career in a place called Corning, N.Y. at a paper called The Leader. (Don't ask.) A suburb (subrural?) of Corning was Big Flats, just east on Hwy 17. It's slogan: "Big Flats: Planned and Growing." I am here to tell you that, in my experience, there was no evidence that Big Flats was either a) planned or b) growing. Yet the slogan endured. (Well, at least for a while. A visit to the town's Web site indicates the town might have been planned and, indeed, grown. New slogan: "Play, Work, Live - the Town of Big Flats.")

Anyway, Viera. It's all here. It's all here? How about "Viera---Not much of it is here"? "Viera---Something you can't quite place a finger on is lacking"? Okay, yes, an Outback opened this year. Woo-hoo. I actually ate at a Chili's last night, though I am not proud of such a transaction, nor do I intend to repeat it. There is the Avenue at Viera, which is a mall, not an avenue, but that doesn't stop them, and of course there is the Cracker Barrel and Super Target and Super Wal-Mart and I'm sure many more Super, Super things.

But it simply isn't "all" here. Let's check the "What's New" section of www.viera.com.

"The Church at Viera has Relocated to Central Viera."

"Viera Builders: Integrity has a new home."

And an ad for a new golf course, which I might try to play (shhh--don't tell boss(es)) at some point (but I won't get into it until I can review it on some sub-blog that my boss(es) won't be able to read).

You know I enjoy a good Bonefish Willy's meal. We've discussed Panera ad nauseum, to the point I'm thinking about not discussing it any more (plus I went to the Asian place again for lunch today - "Asian Too" - and despite its ridiculous name and the "Learn Chinese" message on the back of the fortune cookie even though I got Thai food, it's very good food).

But I would like any of you readers who come down here over the course of the spring to email me - or insert into the comments section - the favorite spots you find while you're down here. They can't be chains. No place that you could go to in Gaithersburg or Ashburn or some such place. Send 'em on in, and we'll knock 'em around.

Good luck. And I'll talk to you on Tuesday morning - when we finally get a big ol' 72-man workout going on down at the Carl Barger Complex. (He was the president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, in case you didn't know.)

By Barry Svrluga  |  February 19, 2007; 5:56 PM ET
 
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