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Monday, April 30, 2012

Lannan Rocked

TV Stevie and I were late to the game tonight, and we missed an awesome first inning. The Chiefs scored 5 runs. Carlos Maldonado hit a single (yes, he caught the game). Charlotte scored one run in the second inning.

Sandee and I arrived in time for the bottom of the third inning. Yes! The Chiefs scored 6 more runs in honor of our presence.

Carlos Rivero singled
Carlos Maldonado singled
Corey Brown bunted a single (forcing an out at 3rd)
JJ Johnson singled
Mark Teahen singled
Jason Michaels struck out
Brett Carroll singled
Jim Negrych singled and there was an error in there somewhere
Jarrett Hoffpauir singled
Carlos Rivero popped out to RF.

Carlos Maldonado at 2nd

Carlos Maldonado at 2nd

Carlos Maldonado (and others) going into dugout
after scoring in the third inning.

It was an awesome inning. An awesome game. Charlotte was really off their game, with 7 errors. At one point we joked about them tying the Chase Lambin single-season record in just one game.

Jhonatan Solano coached 1B and waved to us.

Carlos Maldonado hit a double in the 4th, was stranded, then hit into a double play in the 5th to end that inning. He acknowledged us several times. Since the stadium was practically empty, he had no problem hearing us.

The two young men in front of us in the last row of Section 107 told us they'd be rooting for Carlos Maldonado. They did a fine job. They must have been impressed by the way Carlos acknowledged us

New Maldonado Fans
The Chiefs won, 12 - 4. John Lannan posts his second win.

Stories of the night:

  • K-Daddy received a call from Suspect, who asked him to relay a message to Maven, Sandee, and the rest of 207. He will be back at the stadium in a while. (We heard another story from an usher, saying that management told the players to stop giving him tickets because people were complaining.)
  • Broken bats -- we've noticed a lot of broken bats this year, and Sandee's friend Josh (who came to the game tonight) explained that it's because bats are now being made from maple instead of ash. The emerald ash borer is killing off ash trees in this country, so bat manufacturers have switched to maple, but they haven't yet perfected a way to make the maple as strong as ash.
  • The guys down in the front row of Section 109 kept trying to start a wave. How do I put this delicately? The moon came out. Several times. I tried to take a photo, but my camera wasn't quick enough to capture it.
  • Frank, one of the security guys, was acting bat boy for the Charlotte Knights. 
  • One of the new Carlos Maldonado fans came up to us at between the 8th and 9th innings and told us how they'd been to dinner at Ichiban, and sat next to Kuhn, Gallagher, and Golson (they ate chicken and steak). They ended up giving the Charlotte Knights a ride back to their hotel and left tickets for tonight's game at will-call for them. 

And I will leave you with a shot of the new scoreboard at night. The next home game is the debut of the scoreboard, and it promises to be awesome.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

No More T Moore

I shouldn't have been surprised when I turned on my computer this morning and learned that Tyler Moore had been called up to the Nationals. Surprised by the sunburn I sustained on my face at yesterday's double-header, yes. The news about T-Mo? I was devastated. Not that he hasn't earned it, because he has. Too bad it comes at the expense of the Chiefs, but that's the nature of minor league baseball.

At the last game I attended in Rochester, the home crowd yelled encouragement to "New Guy." That's just the way it is. There's always a new guy.

Talking to Paul (from the Chiefs) during the game -- he's right in that the next couple of weeks and months are going to be interesting. Washington is going to have to send someone back down once players leave the DL. Will we see Harper and Moore back in Syracuse, or will Danny Espinoza and  Steve Lombardozzi be back? Makes me glad I broke down and bought official scoring books yesterday.

It was a beautiful day for baseball in Syracuse today.
Not a cloud in the sky at Alliance Bank Stadium this afternoon
No T-Mo at 1B, no Harper in the outfield. The players were in their weekend red. Colin Balester's Throwback Thursday jersey from last season was being raffled. While en route to the stadium, we heard a radio interview with Tony Beasley in which he talked about Carlos Maldonado (among other things).

Second shock of the day came when I read that Corey Brown was yesterday's Player of the Game. Kevin and I decided they gave Corey PoG honors to make up for T-Mo's call-up, even though T-Mo earned both. Yeah. Right.

The Corey Brown Report:
1st - 4-3
4th - 9
6th - 4-3
8th - 5

Carlos Rivero hit a home run, which was really nice. Several times the tying run was at the plate, but the Chiefs just couldn't pull it out. We voted for Rivero as Player of the Game.

Carlos Maldonado caught today's game. We never did get him to wave at us, but Jhonatan Solano waved when he was 1B coach in the 9th. (We couldn't figure out who was 1B coach during the rest of the game. Possibly Xavier Paul or T-Mo's replacement, Jim Negrych. 

Miscellaneous stuff:
  • the grounds crew playing basketball out behind the old home team bullpen in left field. Every so often you could see someone taking a shot.
  • Dave Anthony claimed the contestant for the dice roll was Ron Howard's sister. I corrected him after the fact: she's Curly Howard's grand-niece. Dave admitted that with the current popularity of the Three Stooges Movie, my joke was more timely. 
  • Loved the optimism of warming up a new pitcher in the top of the 9th with the team down 5-2.
Oh, and I bought my fan hands -- in red. They are very odd to wear, but are nice and loud.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Harper Is Gone: The Game Must Go On

Double-header today with Charlotte. A cool but sunny afternoon to be at the ball park.

The first thing I saw as I headed toward my seat was the progress on the scoreboard.

Pretty cool, eh? They were working on it during the game, too. We were all pleased to have a clock again.

The first game jersey raffle was Atahualpa Severino's; the second game jersey belonged to Lee Hyde. TV Stevie bought tickets for that one, because it was number 24. Unfortunately, no one we know won either shirt.

Lee Hyde praying before taking the mound

Lots more broken bats today. Maybe it's the weather. Kevin said he noticed a lot of broken bats, too.

The team wore weekend red for both games.

Tyler Moore was last Sunday's Player of the Game. We voted for him as Player of the Game for both games today, too.

Carlos Maldonado was catcher in the first game. He waved to us. He knows he has a fan club.

The Bryce Harper Report:
He's in LA with the Nats, getting ready to start his first major league game against the Dodgers. Strasburg is pitching. Should be interesting coverage of that game.

Funniest thing in the afternoon:
The announce booth forgot to turn off the mic in the first inning of the first game. The umps had to stop the game. We heard an f-bomb (not loud) from the booth. The umps and players were shouting and pointing, "Turn off the microphone!"

The Corey Brown Report:
Game 1
1st - K
3rd - single
5th - K

Game 2
1st - 3-1
3rd - 4-3
6th - single

Corey played CF both games and was more than adequate out there. Third inning of Game Two he made incredible back-to-back catches.

Coolest new thing in the stadium:
Fan hands. Sandee bought a pair.
Sandee's Fan Hands
The make a clacking noise when you clap. I'm going to get me a pair of red ones. Then Sandee and I can high five each other.

Crazy Fan Man was at the game early. He spoke to Anthony again. But he was quiet throughout both games. We heard him only once, early in the first game.

The Tyler Moore Report:
Game 1 
2nd - K
4th - 3
5th - HR (3 RBI)

Game 2
1st - BB
4th - 4
6th - RBI double

Tyler played 1B in Game 1 and was DH in Game 2
Maven says T-Mo made a mental error in the 6th inning of Game 1. He made the easy out at first then threw to second for the forced out. Because the first out wasn't a forced out, it allowed the base runner to score. If he'd thrown to 2nd for the forced out, then made the out at first (and there was plenty of time), the base runner would not have scored.

Jhonatan Solano was 1B coach for both games, and he waved to us.

The Chiefs won the first game 5-2 and lost the second 11-1

Miscellaneous Stuff:
It appears Xavier Paul is back with the team. Before the 2nd game started, and when the song, "Cheer Cheer Cheer for the Chiefs" was playing, someone wearing #15 was boogieing in the dugout, just having a grand old time.

TV Stevie was in the Whistlestop Souvenir Shop and two women started admiring his SkyChiefs jacket. "We didn't know they used to be the SkyChiefs."

Superman's Closet in my living room 
TV Stevie's response: "Oh. You must not be from around here." Of course not. They were from Washington, and wanted to check out the Triple A Afflilaite. They probably wanted to see Bryce Harper so they could tell all their friends at home that they'd seen him. 

Maven Observations: "This has to be the first team since Adam & Eve with a Tyler and a Tanner on it." (Tanner Roark was starting pitcher for the 2nd game.)
"We have the worst bullpen since Adam & Eve."
So I asked Maven what today's fixation with Adam & Eve was about. 
You must know what he answered. "Baseball is biblical. In the Big Inning . . ."

There was a very scary pigeon at the game today. Game Two. After Crazy Fan Man disappeared. Sandee's theory is that it was Crazy Fan Man. He doesn't turn into a bat like a vampire, but rather, into a pigeon, like a crazy person. This bird swooped into seats, wandered around looking for food, and in general distracted us. Me. Whatever.

 And finally: I've found Jason Botts (along with Jason Bergmann and Jesse English): he's in the Atlantic League, playing for the Sugar Land Skeeters. (Bergmann's with the Camden Riversharks and English is with the Bridgeport Bluefish.) 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Postponed Plus

Tonight's game against Charlotte has been postponed. Too cold, I guess. The baseball might get lost in the snowflakes. (Just kidding about the snowflakes.)

In bigger news, Bryce Harper has been recalled to the Mothership, replacing Ryan Zimmerman, who is on the 15-day DL.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Double-Header/Double Homers

Saturday's game was postponed due to rain, so they rescheduled it as Game 1 of a double header starting at noon on Sunday. Fortunately it was dry. If there had been precipitation, it might have been snow. Yes, sitting there was a challenge met only by a few birthday parties and die-hard season ticket holders. I put on my windpants and a second jacket before the first game started.

Miscellaneous pre-game notes:
Corey Brown was voted Friday's Player of the Game
Yuneski Maya's Throwback Thursday jersey from last season was the raffle
No visible progress on the new scoreboard
Zach Duke was signing autographs in the souvenir shop, so I had him sign the brim of my hat.
(Why can't I work up enough nerve to ask a pitcher the questions I need answered for my book?)
Players wore the Weekend Red uniforms.
Because Yuneski Maya was the starting pitcher for the first game, Carlos Maldonado played.

Carlos on 1st after hitting a
single in the 4th inning of Game 1
 Bisons wore a nice sapphire blue.
Valentino Pascucci doing sprints
before the start of Game 1

Maven arrived at the bottom of the first inning, with the observation, "There are barely enough fans here to show the ushers to their positions."

In the middle of the second inning, he said: "This could be the worst record in Syracuse history." He's been coming to games for over 50 years. He know a little bit of what he's talking about.

There were a lot of broken bats in both games today. I don't think I've ever seen quite so many in one afternoon.

Question of the Day: The word "Bison" is plural as well as singular. So why is the Buffalo team called "The Bisons?"

The Corey Brown Report:
Game 1:
1st inning - 3-3
3rd inning - K (looking)
5th inning - Single
7th inning - 8
Game 2:
1st inning - 8
4th inning - HR (which is why I voted him Player of the Game for the 2nd game. Or rather, I would have if anyone had been around to take my ballot)
6th inning - 8

The Bryce Harper Report:
Game 1:
1st inning - 8
4th inning  HR (his first ever Triple A home run, and I did vote for him as Player of the Game for the 1st game)
6th inning - single
Game 2:
2nd inning - K
4th inning - 7

Pleasant surprise of Game 1: Mark Teahen in RF. He made a couple of really impressive catches. His fielding usually does not impress any of us.

Oddity of the Game (Game 1):
6th Inning:  The Bisons put in a pinch hitter for their pitcher -- and no one was warming up in the bullpen.
Maven observed that was how much respect Buffalo has for Syracuse: why bother warming anyone up? Well, they should have warmed up the pitcher because Harper singled and Hoffpauir walked. That was all for that pitcher.

Other Maven-isms:
Game 1, 3rd inning
"Team record is becoming clinically fascinating. Soon people from around the league will come just to see us because we're such an oddity."
"The new Throwback Thursday jersey -- the Chiefs head on it is awful It looks like Pee-Wee Herman with lipstick."
"We have the highest payroll ever (with 4 multi-million-dollar-a-year players) and the worst record."
Game 1, 4th inning
"This music sounds like a reggae salsa polka."
Game 1, 5th inning
When Seth Bynum came in to pinch hit for Maya). "It's a circus. The Bynum & Bailey Circus."
Game 1, 6th inning
"They should have a give-away night with magnifying glasses so we can find our wins."

Game One was ugly. We lost 6-1.
Congrats to Bryce Harper on his 1st AAA homer.

Game 2 -- the Chiefs changed into a black jersey with teal numbers. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died even before Harper hit is homer in the previous game. They did not change their pants.

The Bisons changed into boring gray.

Jhonatan Solano was 1B Coach in for most of both games. He waved to us a couple of times. We saw him skipping out to coach 1B in the 3rd inning of the Game 2. That was our first clue that our catchers were feeling frisky.

Carlos Maldonado was swaying side to side the dugout. A foul ball went into the dugout, and he pretended he was bowling with it.  He actually coached 1B in the 5th inning, and danced his way out there. It was pretty funny to watch. Sandee was trying to get a good photo of him, but could get quite what she wanted.

In the 6th inning of Game 2, Carlos went out to the bullpen to warm up Ryan Perry. Sandee went down to the first row of section 105, and instructed Anthony and me to call out to Carlos as he came back to the dugout. We did. He stopped and waved to us. And Sandee's camera malfunctioned.

At least the Chiefs won 1-0. Yay Corey Brown!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stampeded by Bison

It was yet another beautiful night for a ballgame. Neither too hot nor too cold and no precipitation.

I arrived at the stadium in time to make some notes. I missed the Thursday afternoon game, but I listened to most of it on the radio. AM radio doesn't come in well at DayJob, so it was a challenge.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx was signing autographs in the souvenir shop, so I had him sign my hat, right next to Brad Peacock's John Hancock. Bibens-Dirkx was really good with the little kids who had him autograph their Stuff-A-Scooch.

The new scoreboard is coming along. Sandee told me they worked on it all through yesterday's game.

Scoreboard progress
J-Botts isn't with the Bison this year -- don't know where he's landed -- but Valentino Pascucci is, and we've decided he's our "pet" Bison in J-Botts absence. He has a great name and he's a big guy -- like J-Botts and Carlos Maldonado.

Pascucci warming up
before the game
That doesn't, however, mean we were pleased with his HR in the first inning. We were not.

The Corey Brown Report:
1st: K
2nd: K
5th: 7
7th: 7
9th: 8
Not a good night. 

He played RF and saw a bit of action. He handled it with grace.

The Bryce Harper Report:
1st: BB
4th: K
6th: K
8th: 6

He played CF and did not have a good night. He's learning. There were lots of lessons tonight. Lots.

In yesterday's game, from what I heard on the radio, Harper seemed more patient at the plate. I have the impression that he walked a lot. That felt like maturity to me. It didn't happen tonight.

Miscellaneous Stuff:
Jersey raffle: Tommy Milone's Throwback Thursday. Didn't win it. Rats.
Carlos Maldonado waved to us, as did Jhonatan Solano, who coached 1st base tonight. According to yesterday's radio broadcast, Solano has been under the weather, which is why Carlos caught three games in a row. Tonight, a third catcher made his debut in Triple A and Syracuse: Jeff Howell.
We voted for Tyler Moore as Player of the Game for his 2-run homer in the 1st.
Carlos Maldonado gave a warm-up ball to a young fan in the stands. He's such a great guy. 

Oddity of the Night. 
Okay, maybe not odd, but definitely annoying. 
First inning: I noticed the temporary scoreboard was dark.
Corey Brown under a dark
temporary scoreboad
Maven went to tell stadium management in the middle of the first. It did not come on until the bottom of the fourth.

Of course, in the end it didn't matter. The Chiefs lost again.6-4. Didn't need lights to tell us that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Extra Innings

What a beautiful night for a ballgame. Not nearly as cold as last night. I arrived at the stadium in plenty of time to get the starting line-ups, which always makes me happy.

I was even happier when I heard Carlos Maldonado was catching. Unfortunately, I was never able to wave to him when he could see me, or call out "hi" when he could hear me.

And the faux Carlos (Rivero) was first base coach tonight. He doesn't yet know that when fans say, "Hi Carlos Rivero," he's supposed to wave or acknowledge us in some other way.
Carlos Rivero coaching 1B
Lots of progress on the new scoreboard:
Scoreboard in the 1st inning
Work on it continued during the game.
In the 6th inning. Work done for the day.
John Lannan started today's game and he pitched well enough that I voted for him as player of the game. He pitched 6 innings with only a HR against him (and that came in the 6th). Arneson pitched two innings, followed by Perry for two. Yes, that's right, we're at 10 innings now.  The score was tied 1-1. 

The game got ugly in the top of the 11th. Hassan Pena came in to pitch (making two Hassans in the game: Chief's pitcher and PawSox outfielder Alex Hassan). First batter singled. Second batter singled. Alex Hassan drew a base on balls. Okay, now the bases were loaded.Tony Thomas hit a single and was safe at first, but the first batter (Middlebrooks) was out at the plate. 

Wait. It gets worse. The next batter also drew a walk, which scored the go-ahead run. 

Enter Josh Wilkie, who struck out the Taco Bell K-Man ("We want a cha-loooooooooooooopa," the fans on the third base side chanted). The next hitter doubled, scoring three more runs.

Ugly enough? The next batter hit a single, scoring yet another run. 

At least the game ended at a reasonable hour.

The Bryce Harper Report:
2nd - 5
4th - 2-3
7th - 5*
9th - 4
11th - 6-4
He played right field tonight and did fine.
* For the second time tonight, the PawSox 3rd baseman snagged a really hard hit line drive from Harper. Harper let lose with an F-bomb that was heard even on the radio (according to someone who wandered over to 207 to chat with Maven).  

Harper is hitting hard. The past two nights, he's been the final out of the game. Casual fans and the media have unrealistic expectations of him. He's in Triple A to learn and grow as a player. He's here because he's not quite ready for the Nats. Give him a chance to do what he's supposed to do. 

The Corey Brown Report:
1st - 7
3rd - BB (he apparently missed a Hit & Run sign from the 3rd base coach during this at bat, so the man on base was tagged out at 2nd.)
6th - 4-3 (he swung on a 3-1 pitch. Someone told him "way to work a walk!"
8th - BB (the 4th ball was intentional)
11th - single
Corey played center tonight and did fine.

Harper, Brown and a third Chief conversing as
Wilkie warms up in the 11th
Carlos Maldonado Watch:
For some reason, I looked away from the flag at the end of the national anthem and saw Carlos crossing himself, plus the taps on the chest (Not being Catholic, I don't know what it means).
3rd inning - singled, but was forced out at 2nd when the next batter also singled.
5th - 5-3
8th - sac bunt, advancing the runner (he did this last night, too. He really knows how to bunt!)
10th - K - The Sox put the "no doubles" defense on against him. One of the strikes was protecting the plate so Hoffpauir could steal second.

It was fun to watch him in the top of the 10th checking signals with the manager in the dugout, then with the 3B coach and the pitcher. The phrase I heard this weekend was "Signals ricocheting all over the ballpark." A perfect description of what I witnessed.

Yuneski Maya was last night's player of the game (Sandee & I voted for him)
The jersey raffle was for Jeff "The Fraze" Frazier's throw back Thursday.
Management telling the cotton candy vendor "get loud."
An overheard observation that "It must be nice to be paid by the team that doesn't you." The Chicago White Sox are paying Mark Teahen's salary.
There are four players making a million dollars or more per season on the Chiefs right now: Harper, Teahen, Maya, and Lannan.
Middlebrook's home run in the 6th bounced off the batter's screen and back onto the field.
I saw a minivan driving on the railroad tracks behind the stadium. At least that's what it looked like. Maybe there's a service road back there running parallel to the tracks.
Cate & Jeff from Skaneateles were at the stadium tonight (Alex Hassan didn't play last night)
Cate received a text from her daughter, who was following the game on MiLB video broadcast, saying that the broadcasters were talking about her. She asked Cate, "How do they know about me?" Cate came down and asked me if I'd blogged about it. (Cate & Jeff knew I was going to blog. I don't ambush blog.)

It's kind of cool knowing people might actually be reading this.

I learned about the "no doubles" defense, courtesy Maven. The Sox used it twice tonight. The infield protects the baselines and the outfielders are practically against the fence. Very interesting to see.

I did some counting today. There are more home games in April and June than there are in May, July, August, and September combined. It begs the question: what drugs were the schedulers using when they top loaded the season in the snow capitol of the US? 

I heard an interesting explanation. Don't know if it's true, but here's what I was told tonight: There are more International League teams in the south, so when it comes to voting on the tentative schedule, the south always wins, and they want the early part of the season in the north. I wasn't able to get an in-depth explanation of what that means or how the process goes because I think the person telling me might have been talking through his hat.

Crazy Fan Man showed up in the 8th, and announced (while Corey Brown was at bat): "Three ball! Rubber! You were there!"

Maven declared Tyler Moore (T-Mo) a "pleasant surprise." Until yesterday, he led the league in HRs.

As Crazy Fan Man shouted in the 11th: "What else you gonna call? You weren't looking!"

Tomorrow's game is at noon. I won't be there.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pawsox Come to Town

The games this week start at 6pm, which make it a bit difficult to get to the stadium in a timely manner. I listened to the first inning and a half on the radio at home, which was a true challenge trying to get the starting line ups.

We arrived at the stadium during the top of the third inning, and went off in search of dinner. I decided to try the grilled chicken sandwich (which TV Stevie said was the best thing he'd eaten at the food preview). It was fabulous. If it didn't come with fries, it would be perfect! TV Stevie and I shared the fries that came with my sandwich. He ate another of those quarter pound hot dogs, well done. We're going to start calling it a Steve-dog.

The entire 207 gang was in attendance tonight. That always makes for a fun time. Trivia, laughter, baseball. Does it get much better than this? TV Stevie came up with a great trivia question: Which players who were #39 have had their number retired? The Throwback Thursday Game Worn Jersey Raffle tonight was for number 39, which is what prompted the trivia question. I actually got it (after many hints): Roy Campanella, The Dodgers.

Yesterday's player of the game was not Mitch Atkins, but rather, Mark Teahen.

Chris McConnell has been sent down to Harrisburg; Xavier Paul has been put on the restricted list.
Josh Johnson played his first ever Triple A game tonight (SS). Sandee and I realized after the fact we should have voted for him as player of the game because he really hustled.

Work has begun on the new scoreboard. You can see something new right above the fence. Paul from the Chiefs seemed happy that I noticed. They've hired someone to run the board and he's going to school to learn how to do it. Paul also mentioned installation of the controls for the board has started, and it's a sight to behold.  It's going to be a Whiz-Bang of an experience. ETA: May 7.
Work has begun on installation of the new scoreboard.
The Bryce Harper Report
2nd inning: 1-3
4th inning: single
7th inning: double
The kid is 19. He's never played CF before. He dropped 2 balls in the 8th that should have been outs. He's 19. He's never played CF. Patience.

The Corey Brown Report
1st inning: 1-3
3rd inning: 7
5th inning: 3-1
7th inning: single
9th inning: K

Most exciting inning: The 7th.
It began with the score 4-0 Pawtucket. The Sox starting pitcher was tiring. Single by single, error by error, the Chiefs managed to fill the bases and score three runs. Then Garret Mock, former Chief, came in to pitch. Rally killer! The next three batters struck out. As Maven said, we couldn't even force a tie with a double play.

Tonight's jersey give-away was -- you guessed it -- Garret Mock's Throwback Thursday from last year. Sandee really wanted it, because it was Chad Mottola's number, Chad being her all-time favorite Chief. Guess who won it?

Molly modeling Garret Mock's game-worn jersey from last season.

Carlos Maldonado waved to us in the ninth.

Crazy Fan Man tried to strike up a conversation with Anthony when Anthony went to place our votes for Mark Teahen as player of the game. Scary!

As TV Stevie and I were leaving the stadium -- actually, he was taking photos of me in my new game-worn jersey -- we ran into one of his clients: Cate from Cate & Sally in Skaneateles, along with Cate's husband. Their daughter met Pawtucket CF Alex Hassan when they were attending Duke. They started dating. Alex played A ball, then Double A Ball (Cate and her husband went to Binghamton to see him play when Boston's double A team played there), and now he's in Triple A, playing center field for the PawSox.
Cate Davis and husband, waiting to take PawSox CF Alex Hussan for Dinosaur
Tonight there is going to be a post-game family dinner at the Dinosaur. (Proud dad wanted me to mention that his daughter played lacrosse for Skaneateles.) They never followed baseball much, but are learning the subtleties and nuances of the game and are finding it enjoyable. Wait until they figure out that they will never see all the nuances baseball has to offer because it is an ever-changing pageant.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Visitors At Home

PNC Field, home of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, is undergoing major renovations this year, so the team will be playing "home games" at various other parks around the International League North, ten of which will be played in Syracuse.

The first one was Saturday, April 14. I missed the game. Does it count, though, if it was considered a road game for the Chiefs?

The second one was today, Sunday, April 15. TV Stevie and I had been out of town for the weekend, so didn't get to Alliance Bank Stadium until the bottom of the fifth inning. Even then, we didn't go directly to our seats. You see, today is Jackie Robinson Day throughout baseball, and part of Syracuse's observance included Jackie Robinson's original plaque from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Jackie Robinson's original Hall of Fame Plaque
A representative from the Hall of Fame explained to us that when Jackie went into the Hall of Fame, he wanted no mention of how he broke the "color" barrier and integrated professional baseball. He wanted to be known as simply a Hall of Fame player. (Which in my opinion is as it should be. The color of his skin had nothing to do with his skill and success in the game.) Several years ago, the plaque was recast to include the information about how he was the first African American to play in the major leagues. The original plaque (see above photo) is now used for educational purposes, such as today's celebration in Syracuse.

As I mentioned, I never got to my seat until the sixth inning. The score was 5-1 Syracuse. The Chiefs scored two more runs as I was settling in for the game. Sandee explained that there were 4 doubles hit in the sixth inning. She also mentioned that I missed another Tyler Moore HR. She also told me he'd hit a couple during the road trip, so he's probably going to be our HR guy for the year. I love it when the 1B is also a good hitter. 

It drizzled on and off for the rest of the game. 

After one pretty spectacular play by starting pitcher Mitch Atkins, the Superman Theme blared through the stadium. That was so cool.

I only saw Corey Brown and Bryce Harper one time each at bat. Pat Venditte, the Yankees' ambidextrous pitcher, struck out Harper. Brown popped out.

Once again, I had my camera on the wrong setting while snapping photos of Venditte.


Venditte pitching

Venditte pitching to Bryce Harper
Austin Bibens-Dirkx came into pitch for the Chiefs in the 8th. That was okay. But when he gave up enough hits in the ninth for the Yankees to score, we were not happy.

Mitch Atkins, the starting pitcher, is my choice for player of the game. Maven heard me say that, and he said I was absolutely right. Sandee also voted for him. He pitched 7 innings and the other team scored only one run? I think that's pretty darned noteworthy.

Crazy Fan Man (CFM) showed up, too. My latest crackpot theory about him is that he comes late so he doesn't have to pay for parking and there's no one taking tickets, so he comes for free. He was shouting stuff today that we couldn't understand. 

It was a challenge to watch the Chiefs be the visiting team in their own stadium, especially without a scoreboard. I mean, there's a temporary scoreboard that notes balls, strikes, hits, and the score, but we get no stats, no history of the game, no players names. And we're used to our team being the bottom of the inning, not the top. 

We're back to being the home team tomorrow night. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012



It started out overcast. TV Stevie was supposed to meet me at the stadium around seven (the game started at 6). I arrived early enough to check last night's player of the game (Tyler Moore, the player for whom Sandee voted) and to get some food.

Tonight I opted for the Sidewinder. It is NOT for those who are watching their weight.
The Sidewinder Burger Platter
It is a burger, topped with cheese and a sausage patty. It all rests on lettuce, tomato and red onion. I pulled off the tomato. It comes nestle in a "basket" of fries. It was too much for me to eat, but it was delicious.

The jersey raffle was Ryan Tatusko's Throwback Thursday. I bought 10 tix and missed by 3. Rats. 

The best part of tonight was learning Carlos Maldonado would be catching the game. 

The Bryce Harper Report:
2nd - popped out to left field
4th - hit to the pitcher who threw to first.

The Corey Brown Report
1st - struck out
3rd - walked

Maven and I were talking before the game. He said that most of the players are from South America or the southern US and aren't used to Syracuse weather. They're probably out there thinking, "Why are those people here? We have to be; they don't." I replied, "Maybe you don't." Maven smiled. "You're right," he admitted. Then he said something very profound: "If you understand, no explanation is necessary; if you don't understand, then no explanation is possible."  

Carlos waved to me at the top of the 2nd, then to Sandee while waiting for the 5th to begin.

Carlos Maldonado watching the ground crew
spread Diamond Dry in an attempt to get in a fifth inning.
The K-man (Brandon Laird) struck out in the 2nd. 

A fan sitting right behind the dugout was hit in the head with a foul ball. He was completely oblivious that the ball was coming toward him. People don't realize how dangerous the stands can be in baseball.

Maven and I actually spoke of many things as the rain increased, but the players kept playing. He asked me if I followed hockey and I told him that we'd gone to the home opener this year, but I felt like I was trapped in a pinball machine. He asked why, so I explained about the puck zinging behind the goal, all the lights and whizzing sound effects. He thought it was an interesting analogy and said I should be a writer or a commentator or something. I told him I am a writer. 

We also talked about catchers. I've had a fondness for catchers ever since Thurman Munson. Maven claims that many major league teams keep their 2nd best catcher in Triple A because they want them to play. An interesting idea that makes a lot of sense. I told him how we explained to X-Chromo's friend that catchers are the most important player on the team.

I also explained to him that Sandee, Anthony, and I are the Carlos Maldonado Fan Club. He said, "It must be exclusive." I replied, "Very."

There really wasn't much action on the field except for outfielders losing their grips on wet balls. Mark Teahen singled then stole second in the 3rd, , but the Chiefs didn't score.

At least one, maybe two errors in the fourth put two runs on the board for the Yankees. It was just too wet to play, and I started worrying that someone would get hurt.

Before the fifth inning could start (and lots and lots of Diamond Dry later), the game went into rain delay.
They drew the jersey raffle. Did I mention I missed by three tickets?
The tarp is down
I decided to call it a night, as did Sandee and Anthony. I ran into the famous Eric Cohen on the way out. He'd been high & dry in the broadcast booth. 

I didn't vote for player of the game, but for the innings played, my vote would go to Mark Teahen for his single and stolen base.

According to the Chiefs website, the game was eventually suspended. Since the Empire State Yankees will be playing home games against the Chiefs at Alliance Bank Stadium this weekend, it'll be easy enough to make up the innings.

But as Sandee & I discussed as we were packing up our wet things, most of the April games last season were like tonight. Yes, the previous games have been cold, but they've also been dry. We lucked out.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Oh What a Night!

Cold cold cold.

But worth it. Definitely worth it.

TV Stevie and I arrived in the bottom of the first. I was scoring the game in the car from the radio. Quite a challenge, let me tell you.

The jersey was #41, Matt Chico's Throwback Thursday from last year.
Eric Arneson was yesterday's player of the game.

The Bryce Harper Report:
1st - singled
2nd - out at first
4th - walked
7th - grounded to SS to 1st

The Corey Brown Report:
1st - walked
2nd - triple (and scored on a passed ball)
3rd - walked
5th - struck out
8th - grounded to first

It was a heck of a night.

Carlos Rivero suffers mightily from Lambinitis.
Carlos Rivero at the plate

Tyler Moore hit his first home run ever  in the second inning. I'd just finished telling someone to keep an eye on him because he's supposed to be an up-and-comer, and bam, right over the left field fence. Sandee was en route when it happened and texted me that the radio announcers said it was one of the deepest home runs to left field the announcer has ever seen.

The scariest moment of the game came in the third inning when Dickerson broke his bat and it went flying into the stands and hit a little girl. Three or four years old. WHAT WAS HER FATHER THINKING SITTING ONLY A COUPLE OF ROWS BEHIND THE DUGOUT WITH CHILDREN THAT YOUNG? Of course, everyone converged to make sure she was all right. "Medical" didn't show up right away, and I heard someone ask, "Where's medical? Buffalo?"  The girl and her dad eventually left for a bit. She came back wearing a batting helmet. TV Stevie looks a me and says: "Oh my God! They've killed Kenny!"

I nearly lost it. I couldn't stop laughing.

During the T-Shirt Toss, the interns kept trying to get t-shirts up to our section, but fell just short. One guy made off with two of them, just swooping in. Anthony eventually ended up with one. This year's shirt is very different.

Sandee shows off Anthony's T-Shirt
Then, at the bottom of the fourth, something truly cool happened. The Yankees changed pitchers, bringing in a guy named Pat Venditte. What's so cool about that? Well Venditte happens to be an ambidextrous pitcher. It was the first time an ambidextrous pitcher pitched in Chiefs history. Venditte is the only active professional pitcher who can pitch proficiently with either arm. It was . . . amazing. He has a custom made glove with two thumbs that he flips when he changes side. 

Unfortunately, either my camera is going bad or I was shivering so hard the photos blurred, but here's what I have:
Venditte Right

Venditte Left
Apparently he must declare which way he is going to pitch to the first batter. After that, I guess he can pitch however, but he cannot change arms on a batter, just like a switch hitter not changing sides during an at-bat.

Carlos Maldonado waved to us between the 4th and 5th innings. He's such a great guy. 

TV Stevie and I went to find something to eat at the top of the fifth inning, but TV kept wandering off to watch Venditte pitch. We eventually found hotdogs that had allegedly been grilled, but just like the allegedly steamed hotdogs, they weren't cooked. The concessions people insist the dogs are cooked, but really? No. They are only warmed. 

Crazy Fan Man showed up around the sixth inning. He was on fire. He had all of our row laughing, including Maven and our friend Kevin who was sitting right behind me.
"Put your foot on the rubber, baby!"
"Why don't you call me Cecile?"
"Rice-A-Roni call 'em back."
Atahualpa Severino came in in the seventh. He did not have a good outing tonight. Maven came over to me and Sandee to confide: "I would rather be at the dentist without Novocaine than watch this guy pitch." Tell us how you really feel, Maven!

It was an ugly inning, including one play that Kevin told me would be scored 7-2-6-3-4-3-4. (LF to catcher to shortstop to first to second to first to second). Plus there were two fielding errors in the top of the seventh. Bryce Harper, who played CF tonight, drifted too far right to catch a fly ball, so he and Xavier Paul sort of ran into each other and neither one of them made the catch.

Maven explained Harper's actions like this: last year, in double A, Harper spent most of his time in RF. He was taught that CF is to catch anything he can and that as a RF he must yield to CF. I guess it was a tough lesson for him, based on the way Maven explained it to me. So now, Harper in CF goes for whatever he can, because LF and RF are to yield to him. He just didn't realize that the fly ball had drifted so far right that it was clearly the RFer's catch.

There's a new Pops this year, and can that person dance. It is a joy to watch. As Maven said, "Keep Michael Jackson's doctor away from the guy and we'll be all right."

The last two innings of the game were tense. Josh Wilkie loaded the bases with the score 6-4 Syracuse, but managed to get out of it. Ryan Perry came in to pitch the 9th. 

Someone down front wanted to know why Maldonado wasn't catching the game. Don't we all wonder that all the time? 

Scranton scored a fifth run.  Pearce fell running to first, yet made it to second safely anyway, because of a fielding error by Corey Brown.  I was ready to pull on my wind-pants and find my blanket, expecting extra innings, but Perry managed to pull it out.

My vote for player of the game: Zach Duke (starting pitcher)
Sandee's vote: Tyler Moore (of the 2-run homer)

Maven tells us there is snow in the forecast for tomorrow night's game.