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The Trip: Post-Game

After the [game] it's the after party then
After the party it's the hotel lobby and
After the Belve' then it's probably Cris'

No, there was no Cristal. But we did stay at the Belvedere, so it was just like Jay-Z said it would be. Well, sort of - kind of like how some things are exactly the same but totally different.

After Saturday's game ended we boarded the 7-train and headed to the post-game festivities. Most of us headed to the Jackson Diner, which isn't your typical diner, but an Indian restaurant. A good time was had by all, except for Cori, who may have had too much curry (thus the inspiration for the nickname that would soon follow her around for the weekend).

After our post-game meal, we boarded the subway again. Carolina and crew went one way, RFerry went another, and my South Florida contingent regrouped in search of the Marlins hotel.

First of all, let me set the scene: Beer God, Curry, and I return to the hotel. After everyone got cleaned up and fed (Big Daddy and Tom didn't join us at the Jackson Diner) we head out in search of the Marlins hotel. Mind you, by this time it is at least 9:30 and we are a tired lot. We'd originally left for the stadium around 11 am or so and most of us were working on three or four hours of sleep.

Prior to leaving Miami, I had confirmed the hotel the Fish were staying at (although I don't think anyone really believed that they would actually be there). Nevertheless, Beer God, Curry, Big Daddy (aka Peter - the nickname will be explained shortly), Tom (aka Nina), and I (without a nickname, fortunately) set out for the Hilton. Fortunately it was a few short blocks away. We were also fortunate to slip in through the back door, where they weren't checking for room keys, as they were in the front of the hotel.

From there, we nearly immediately stumbled onto (quite literally in my case) Miguel Cabrera, who was wandering (somewhat aimlessly) around the lobby while talking on his cellphone. Most of our group was too stunned to talk to Miguel, so Curry and I (the only two non-Spanish speakers in the group) approached him. He was friendly enough and gladly took a picture with Curry and shook my hand.

From there, we quickly moved on to the lobby bar. Cabrera sooned followed, and by the time that he did, we located A.J. Burnett, Josh Beckett, Matt Treanor, and a number of other players, clubhouse people, and front office types scattered around the bar. Soon after that A.J. stood up and ordered a round of drinks for everyone. It was beginning to look like a very good night.

After a few more minutes, more players began to descend upon the bar. A sharply dressed Luis Castillo joined everyone. As did Guillermo Mota. Juan Encarnacion was not far behind.

What struck me most - and pleasantly surprised me - was how the players interacted with each other. While we mostly left the players alone and hung out amongst ourselves while the players did the same, it was clear that the players were mixing with each other. The whole team wasn't there, but a majority of the club - including nearly all of the regulars - were in the bar. We didn't see any division along racial or language lines. I've heard many stories about how the English speaking and Spanish speaking players normally divide into factions in the clubhouse (particularly losing ones), as it's just easier to communicate (in other cases the division can be on racial fronts). What we saw on Saturday night was what you'd expect from a team from Miami: a mix of guys from different countries who speak different languages hanging out together. I found this to be very encouraging in terms of the team's chemistry prospects.

The highlight of the night came soon after that. No, it wasn't when A.J. Burnett, who was stepping away from the bar for a minute, walked directly behind Peter and said, "Hey, Big Daddy." Sure, he was probably talking to Josh Beckett (who was directly across the bar at the moment), but in my book, Peter had just been renamed Big Daddy.

The highlight of the night came when Peter Big Daddy intercepted Juan Encarnacion as he walked around the bar. As best as we can remember, here is the transcript of the encounter:

Big Daddy: Hola Juan... Oye...tremendo juego hoy... Nosotros somos de Miami y fuimos al juego hoy... Est?bamos en el suite n?mero 36... cerca de right field... y te est?bamos gritando... 4,3,2,...Juan

Juan: Si, pero hab?an muchas personas ahi hoy.

Loosely translated (so now you're getting a translation of a translation from a few days back): Big Daddy says, "Hey Juan - great game today. We came from Miami and were at the game today. We were in Suite 36 and we were right along the right field side. And we were yelling 4,3,2, Juan." Juan replied, "Yes, but there were a lot of people there today." The conversation immediately ended and Juan moved on.

Maybe you had to be there to appreciate it, but it was very funny. It was as if we expected to have Juan pull a seating chart out of his pocket, look at it, and say, "Oh yeah - I heard you guys. I wanted to find you to thank you." But instead he was blunt and direct about it (and right too - there were more than 40,000 people at the game).

So the moral of the story is, I'm not doing the "4,3,2, Juan" cheer anymore (despite how much I love it). If Juan doesn't really hear it, why bother?

Nevertheless, Big Daddy's encounter with Juan was one of the highlights of the trip for me. For the remainder of the trip, whenever we needed anything (anything!), a mention of suite 36 was in order. When we bargained for Prada purses on the street ("tell him we were in suite 36!") or when we were told that there were no more passes to visit the Statue of Liberty ("do they know that we were in suite 36 on Saturday?"), the good name of suite 36 was invoked.

We're going to try to recreate the magic this weekend. If you're heading out to the ballpark on Saturday, stop by our "Suite 36" tailgate. We'll also have some signs inside to remind Mr. Encarnacion that we were in Suite 36 at Shea over the weekend.

The rest of the time we spent in the hotel bar with the Marlins was all well and good, but everything else paled in comparison to the Encarnacion encounter.