Monday, July 25, 2005

Walk Like A ... Blind Man

It's not often that I'm amused at a baseball game. Because I've been to so many different parks and seen so many different promotions and mascot antics, there isn't much that surprises me any longer. But something happened in the Somerset-Newark game on Saturday night at Riverfront Stadium that genuinely made me laugh. And it actually was something that happened on the field with the game participants. In the 14th inning (the game would go 16), a Newark batter clearly swung and missed at a pitch in the dirt. But the umpire rules that the batter foul tipped it. This brought an argument from Somerset manager Sparky Lyle who proceeded to get ejected from the game. But Lyle, who apparently never leaves quietly, put on a great blind man routine as he was exiting the field. He grabbed a bat and walked the entire length of the dugout tapping it on the ground as a blind man does with his walking stick. This brought a roar of laughter from the remaining fans (of which there many since fireworks were to be shot off after the game). I found out later that this is something that Sparky does whenever he's ejected. Still, it was a treat for me as I had never seen anything like it. Was it inappropriate and a bit tasteless ? Probably. Is it showing up the umps ? Probably. But was it funny ? Yes, it absolutely was and I don't mind admitting that I got quite a chuckle out of it. And this is just another reason why you should never leave a game early.

As for the game, both teams were anemic offensively on this night, which led to 16 innings being played before it was settled. What's strange is that the teams bookended this game with an 11-10 battle on Friday and a 13-10 doozy on Sunday. Apparently Newark was out of pitchers on Sunday which led to Brent Bilingsley pitching a complete game with this line : 9IP, 12H, 10ER, 147 pitches thrown. Fortunately he got a win for his effort. It's not often you see a line like that.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Kiss Kam

It seems that the big trend sweeping the nation at minor league (and some major league) ballparks is the Kiss Cam. If you have a video board, it is a requirement that you do this at some point around the 5th inning. To me, I never understood the fascination with wanting to be on the video board - it's not like 99% of the people in the park will know who you are. And I guess now it's not just good enough to be shown, you have to be shown doing something (in this case canoodling with your spouse or SO). And if this weren't annoying enough, now teams are trying to be funny by pointing the camera at two players on the opposing team, who either end up ignoring the camera or giving each other a small peck to the delight of the crowd. And for those teams without a video board, I'm sure they will be getting one soon, just so they can do Kiss Cam !

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Big Trip

I have just returned yesterday from my big trip of the summer which took me through the upper midwest. Saw games in 12 new parks (and 15 overall) and had the best weather I've ever had on a trip. I'm sure glad I wasn't touring down south this year ...

Full reviews and photos will be coming soon to my website, but until then here are some quick comments on the new parks I saw games in :

Appalachian Power Park (Charleston, WV) - the downtown location is great and the structure a bit different, though it does need some covering (a canopy is supposedly in the works). I love the old building they have incorporated into the park.

Champion Window Field (Florence, KY) - a very typical FL park, similar to both Gateway and River City. The multi-colored seats are ugly, but they didn't bother me as much as the annoying Rascal fans. Obviously the team has some public perception issues to overcome as the fans are not coming out in droves.

Silver Cross Field (Joliet, IL) - the actual structure doesn't break any new ground, but I love the setting. It is nestled nicely into the downtown where it seems there is quite a bit or nightlife.

Hawkinson Ford Field (Crestwood, IL) - a funky little stadium, as many of the FL parks are. Being so close to Chicago I would expect them to be a better a draw. But now I know why - anyone that needs to drive south on Cicero Avenue to get there wouldn't bother fighting the traffic.

Pohlman Field (Beloit, WI)- a rather crappy stadium, but a great community feel. And how can you not love a park where the fans get more excited about "Roll Out The Barrel" than "YMCA" ?

Veterans Memorial Stadium (Cedar Rapids, IA) - while the park itself is fine (except the lack of a wraparound concourse), the numerous commercials and shout-outs from the PA announcer make for an annoying experience. It's almost as if they wanted to make the experience the exact opposite of the old Vet.

Lewis and Clark Park (Sioux City, IA) - a generic ballpark with a lousy setting. Probably the most unmemorable stop on my trip.

Sioux Falls Stadium (Sioux Falls, SD) - if you didn't know there was an old park, you'd think it was built brand new within the past decade. I love the elevated berms down the 3rd base line. Great eats and a lively atmosphere make this park a treat.

Newman Outdoor Field (Fargo, SD) - not the greatest of settings (college campuses usually aren't), but still an intimate park with a good atmosphere.

Fox Cities Stadium (Appleton, WI) - another uninspired setting for ballpark. While the park itself is fine (very similar to South Bend), the atmosphere was a bit over the top and fans seems more excited about getting free stuff rather than the game. Also, the brats were losuy which should NEVER be the case at a Wisconsin ballpark.

Community Field (Burlington, IA) - renovations over this past offseason have added a new building (for concessions, gift store,ticket office) and a large roof over the concourse and part of the grandstand. Like Beloit, it has a great community feel as everyone seems to know one another.

Oldsmobile Park (Lansing, MI) - unlike most downtown ballparks, this one doesn't feel intimate at all. Too much bench seating and the sightlines aren't the greatest. At least the concessions are top-notch.