Catching Up

Four games are in the books. The TinCaps are 2-2. I haven’t had time to do anything extra, let alone write, until now, and that’s only because our game today at West Michigan was at 2:00 in the afternoon. So now that I’ve been able to relax for a while, get a good soak in the in-room hot tub and recharge, I’m ready to discuss the complete and utter anarchy that was Opening Day at Parkview Field.

And just so you know, I’m not writing this to say, “Hey, look at me.” I’m writing this to let you know that, if you come to a game and think we have everything together, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, this is my fourth year working in professional baseball and I’ve learned to assume that nothing at a ballpark works the way it’s supposed to the first time you use it. Maybe that’s me being negative, but it makes you appreciate when things DO work.

8:15 a.m.: Arrive at the ballpark. From the parking lot, the first thing I see is the video board. It’s not exactly in its full glory. Uh oh.

8:45 a.m.: Allan Wertheimer is wearing a plain white t-shirt and talking on his phone via speakerphone, trying to get the board fixed. Thankfully, that means we don’t have to hear his array of ringtones, which is so bad, my best description is this: Imagine the leader singers from Nickelback and Sugarland (and her fake country accent) singing a duet, with the lyrics written by Kid Rock. Good luck sleeping tonight.

9:45 a.m.: With the video board repairs underway, Allan turns his attention to the official scorer’s microphone, which is an intercom mic we use in the press box. We haven’t touched it since last September. It should work, right? Wrong.

10:00 a.m.: This is getting serious. We’ve checked the wiring connections, the dial positions, everything. Allan breaks out a set of blueprints. I keep waiting for a briefing to start and Shelden Williams to tell us how we’re going to destroy the Death Star by shooting into the exhaust port.

10:10 a.m.: Suddenly the microphone works. I go ballistic. Usually when the official scorer uses the mic, he starts by saying, “Attention media…” I simply scream, “Attention media… YYYYYYESSSSSSSS!” Allan has to explain the racket to the guy on the other end of the phone. I enjoy putting others into awkward situations.

11:00 a.m.: Next up: the stats computer. We’ve been trying unsuccessfully for two months to get our game stats to transmit live from one computer to other computers in the press box. We’ve called two different companies several times each to try and fix the problem. Nothing has worked. We come to find out that there’s one computer in the entire ballpark running Windows Vista. Of course, it’s the one sending the stats, and that’s what’s causing our problem. Out of thin air, a pink laptop sized for a toddler materializes, running Windows XP. We load everything from the Vista computer onto Baby’s First Laptop.

1:00 p.m.: After two months of fighting with the issue, the stats work. Boom, baby.

Now for sometimes-baseball-related rambling:

  • Without question, the best part about MLB Opening Day was Neil Diamond singing “Sweet Caroline” in person at Fenway Park wearing a jacket that said “Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn” on the back. I love Neil, but isn’t there an expiration date on vintage stuff? It’s not like you can wear a powdered wig and call it vintage.
  • Talking to one of the umpires, I asked what they do for Spring Training. Apparently every umpire who was in a full-season league the previous year is invited to Spring Training to umpire Minor League games. About 95% of them accept the invitation and five or six are assigned to each training camp. With two games per day at each camp, that means 2-3 umps per crew, with the crew chief being the one with the most and highest level of experience. Apparently it’s a good way for young umps to learn from more experienced guys.
  • When you think about it, MiLB umps are expected to do more than their MLB counterparts. There are two of them per crew in the low minors (four per crew in the big leagues), they have a fraction of the experience and they’re expected to do the same quality of job the big-leaguers do. Would we expect players to be perfect if they were put in a similar spot? Fat chance.
  • Without a doubt, the best thing I did this off-season was learning the little bit of Spanish I learned. Stiven Osuna was pretty impressed when I walked up and told him I hablo un poco de Espanol, pero no mucho. It’s amazing how much those guys appreciate people making an effort to speak their language.
  • The TinCaps’ Latin players speak a pretty decent amount of English, especially considering how young they are. It looks like the Padres’ Dominican academy is teaching these guys more than baseball.
  • “24” has done it again. First it was Pedro Cerrano as President of the United States, then Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue as the Director of the “24” version of the CIA, now it’s Milton from “Office Space” as a backwoods parole officer. What is going to happen to all these supporting actors from 90s movies when “24” goes off the air after this season?
  • Since the team got into town a week ago, I’ve only been able to work out twice. I don’t feel right when I don’t get some kind of workout in. Does that make me an addict?
  • Saturday I came in to work at 10:30 to work out (we didn’t have to be in until 11:30). When I went to the weight room, Nate Freiman was already there. On a day when the team didn’t play until 4:05. After a night game. And he’s constantly in the cage working on his swing. When one of your best players is also one of your hardest workers, you have the makings of a good team.
  • The offensive numbers haven’t been good lately (2 runs in 2 games), but it’s not as bad as it looks. The TinCaps have hit a lot of balls hard, just right at people.
  • They did catch a break today. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the 4th inning, Dexter Carter struck out a batter. Then, West Michigan’s Mike Gosse hammered a ball out of the park but foul by about a foot and a half. On the next pitch, Gosse grounded into an inning-ending double play and the TinCaps got out of the jam.
  • My parents were in town for the opening homestand. They brought me a makeshift Easter basket, including Girl Scout Thin Mints and a Cleveland Cavaliers Snuggie. Maybe I’ll put the Snuggie on backwards, tie a belt around it and use it as a robe. Seriously, best gifts ever.

That’s all I can think of for now.

Here’s musical guest Barry White!

Have a good one!

DW

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