Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose, Sometimes It Rains
Friday was a weird day, baseball-wise and weather-wise.
The TinCaps opened a four-game series against the West Michigan Whitecaps, and the game was suspended heading into the bottom of the 11th inning, with the Whitecaps leading, 7-4. Play will resume Saturday night at 6:35, with the full second game of the series to follow. This was the scene around 10:30 PM Friday:
And here’s the view from the press box around 12:30 AM on Saturday, June 1st, as I write this blog post:
The only reason I’m still at the park is that it’s raining too hard for me to go outside. I think I might get soaked in approximately .0045 seconds, so I’m waiting until the rain subsides. That may not happen for a while, but, hey, I’ve got nowhere to be except back here for Saturday’s action.
Strangely enough, in a city that has three rivers running through it, beautiful parks and plenty of great places to relax, it’s the above view from the press box that is my favorite in all of Fort Wayne. Any time of day, so long as rain is falling and there’s a quiet over the ballpark, that moment right then and there is my favorite place in all of the city. It’s got the best view (plus the fact I’m not getting wet is pretty nice) in all of downtown, and, oh yeah, it’s a baseball stadium. The entire day at a ballpark can be hectic once the gates open: fans stream in, concessions stands open, kids run free–but when the fans are gone and the players have gone home for the day, it’s just me and the open window, looking out onto the baseball diamond of infinite possibilities. That might all be sappy, but it’s the truth.
Back to the game, though…
Oh, the missed opportunities that there were in this game for the TinCaps. I could see the grey hairs showing up on Jose Valentin’s head as the night wore on.
Let’s go back to the bottom of the fourth inning, when Fort Wayne took a 3-2 lead, which could have been much more. Following RBI by Corey Adamson and Chris Burke, Rodney Daal hit a ground-rule double down the left field line, thwarting Burke from scoring from first base. Following that, with just one man down, Stephen Carmon popped out to first, and Mallex Smith grounded out to first.
Left On Base (LOB) Count: 4.
In the fifth, the TinCaps went 1-2-3-. The sixth inning brought more opportunity, as Fort Wayne had relinquished its lead, and now trailed, 4-3. Luis Tejada walked to start the inning, and Corey Adamson bunted his way on base. Burke bunted them over to second and third, respectively, setting up his team for a good inning. Daal then fanned and Carmon flied out to center, ending the inning.
LOB Count: 6.
But, hark, the seventh inning would be better, right?! Right? Hello? Anyone?
Smith was hit by a pitch and then Alberth Martinez walked. Another sacrifice bunt, this time by Maxx Tiseenbaum, moved the runners up. Diego Goris was then intentionally walked, and the West Michigan plan worked to perfection. Tejada fanned, as did Adamson, and the inning was over.
LOB Count: 9.
Fort Wayne did push across the tying run in the eighth, but only with the help of a throwing error by Whitecaps third baseman Jason King. The error, which came with two outs, brought Chris Burke, who had started the half-inning with a double, across to score. In that same inning, Mallex Smith was thrown out at the plate. That play is captured perfectly in the photo below:
At the end of eight, LOB Count: 10.
West Michigan nearly took the lead in the ninth inning, but a blown call by home plate umpire Jimmy Lott cost the Whitecaps a run. Leadoff batter Jake Stewart walked, and two batters later Danry Vasquez singled to right. Stewart tried to score, reaching home just ahead of a throw from Adamson and a tag from Daal. Stewart was called out by Lott, although the instant replay on our TV broadcast clearly showed Stewart’s foot touching home plate before the tag. Whoops. Fort Wayne went in order in the ninth, and it was on to extras we went.
Neither team did anything in the 10th, but in the 11th Fort Wayne collapsed. Roman Madrid came on to try and keep things in order, but that didn’t quite work out. Stewart was back for more, and led off with a fly ball to left, which Smith dropped. Steward ended up at second on the play. Madrid struck out Austin Schotts, and intentionally walked Danry Vasquez. Jared Reaves, who had already homered twice in the game (he had one longball coming in), drew a catcher’s interference call, and headed to first. In a 4-4 tie with the bases loaded, Madrid plunked Devon Travis, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Jeff Holm and Lance Durham followed with RBI singles, and the Whitecaps scored three before the inning was over. It wasn’t particularly pretty.
By the end of 10 1/2 innings, the TinCaps had stranded 10 runners and gone 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position. They’d had plenty of chances to win the game on their own, and even got some help from the home plate umpire. Fort Wayne will get another shot Saturday night when Carmon, Smith and Martinez are due up in the bottom of the 11th.
As I was building my ark Friday night, I got another great question from reader @drkensf:
“..Was curious what parks you’d recommend for fans.”
Well, outside of my obvious number one choice of Parkview Field, if you’re looking to go on the road, here are a few I would suggest from ones I’ve visited:
1) Fifth Third Ballpark – West Michigan Whitecaps – Comstock Park, Michigan
I recommend this park because I think during the summertime, few other stadiums around the Midwest League have quite the buzz that this one does. The Whitecaps are one of the few fortunate teams in Minor League Baseball to be located within a few hours of their parent club (the Tigers, in this case). When I go to call games at Fifth Third Ballpark, which opened in 1994 but has undergone renovations, the Friday and Saturday night crowds there are electric. There are more pieces of Tigers gear than I can count, and when they have fireworks, the on-field entertainment crew leads the crowd in a sing/dance-along to this song:
Why did they choose “Walk the Dinosaur”? I have no idea, but the fans LOVE it. And as I’m doing my postgame show, I’m tempted to dance with them. (Ok, I have definitely done that before. That explains why those post-game recaps are so lively.) There are lots of great food choices behind home plate with the specialty carts that the Whitecaps have to offer, and I find the park a nice place to watch a game.
2) Dow Diamond – Great Lakes Loons – Midland, Michigan
Despite being a four-hour drive away from Fort Wayne, I think the home of the Loons is worth the trip.
Even though this stadium opened in 2007, it still feels brand new. The concourse is wide and spacious, and the views are all great. Down the right-field line there is an entire playground (if you’ve got playground-aged children) and there are lots of grassy seating areas beyond the outfield wall, similar to what’s offered at Parkview Field. While I’m not as well-versed in food options at the park, I do recommend The Creek in Midland, which is a little lunch place that has sweet potato fries that register as a 15 out of 10. The salads are great, too.
I find that the entertainment at Dow Diamond is tasteful, and the PA and music are not so over the top as with some ballparks that make you wish you’d brought earplugs before the first pitch is thrown. If beer selection is something you’re interested in, I know the Loons carry several Michigan-brewed beers in the park, too.
3) Fifth Third Field – Dayton Dragons – Dayton, Ohio
While it doesn’t have quite the backdrop or open concourses that Parkview Field does, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more enthusiastic in-between innings entertainers than you will in Dayton.
The “Green Team” as they’re called, has in-between innings skits that are meticulously planned out by a director of entertainment for each and every game. That’s a full-time person whose job it is just to plan out the things that happen before the game and in the 90 seconds between innings. In Dayton, it’s really a bunch of inning breaks with baseball going on in between. I worked for the Dragons during the 2011 season, and didn’t travel with the team so all I saw were home games. You see anything 7o times, and you’ll get tired of it. But then I went on the road with the TinCaps in 2012 and saw the entertainment in other parks and realized why the Dragons have sold out more than 930 games in a row. Their commitment to making an enjoyable experience is top-notch, and it’s a good place to watch a game. After the game (but not too late after the game) I recommend the Oregon District, which has some nice bars and restaurants.
I also have a few non-Midwest League parks:
4) Huntington Park – Columbus Clippers – Columbus, Ohio
I have only been to Huntington Park once, and it rained that day, but I still really enjoyed my visit.
I suppose I’m not really giving away any secrets here, since the Clippers do so well attendance-wise (averaging 7,799 fans per night as of this writing), but their ballpark is great. Although it doesn’t have a 360-degree concourse, it’s very spacious and tucked nicely into the downtown area, right near Nationwide Arena, the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. There are restaurants around if you’re looking to eat before or after the game. I can’t say much more than that about the park, but my memories are fond.
5) McCoy Stadium – Pawtucket, Rhode Island – Pawtucket Red Sox
One of the first-ever Minor League games I went to was at McCoy Stadium, and it was in the summer of 2009, when I was a broadcasting intern with the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod Baseball League. I went with a friend of mine from college and didn’t have a clue who was on either team, but I found a certain mystique about this stadium. It’s old–opened in 1942–but it just screams baseball.
Perhaps my favorite part is the dugouts, have seats right on top of them.
Fans dangle down binders and cut-open milk jugs to try and get autographs. When I worked with the Syracuse Chiefs in 2010, Stephen Strasburg was on the roster at the time. My favorite autograph request that hung over the dugout read,
“Please, Mr. Strasburg. NO ONE ELSE.”
At least they said please, right?
I think there’s some nostalgia for me being in New England, as I spent my childhood summers on Cape Cod. There’s also the feeling of knowing you’re in an atmosphere of pure baseball. There’s not a ton of loud music or cheesy on-field yukkers trying to see who can eat a wheel of cheese the fastest. It’s also the Red Sox Triple-A team just 45 minutes away from Boston, which doesn’t hurt either. I highly recommend a trip to McCoy if you’ve got the chance. TinCaps hitting coach Morgan Burkhart played there before making his MLB debut with Boston in 2001, and said the crowd there prepared him well for making it at Fenway.
Check out John Nolan’s chat with the newest member of the TinCaps infield, Chris Burke.
Here’s the real Chris Burke:
KNITTING WARS: IT’S SEW ON
A website I only found a few weeks ago, Awful Advertisements, brings to my attention a fantastic set of subway ads that are currently running in New York City. From their post:
PBS is mocking the current state of television with a series of fake reality show ads which have popped up in New York subways. Thirteen, one of New York’s PBS stations, is urging viewers to support quality programming by mocking the ridiculous reality shows which currently fill the dial.
Married to a Mime. Bad Bad Bag Boys. Knitting Wars. Bayou Eskimos. The Dillionaire. All of these sound like plausible new reality shows, don’t they? That’s exactly PBS’ point. The fact that all of these fake concepts sound legitimate demonstrates the rather shocking state of television where nearly every concept under the sun is now a reality program.
PBS makes a strong case with these parody ads. Considering there’s not one, but multiple shows currently on TV about people buying stuff from storage lockers (obviously staged lockers at that), the argument for quality programming has never been more relevant.
Here are some of the advertisements:
Now someone tell me how those “shows” are much different than Jerseylicious, which somehow is a real show:
My head hurts.
Emeli Sande…take it away!