All-Star Delight in Dayton

Editor’s Note: While Mike enjoys his All-Star break back home in White Plains, New York, John is with the TinCaps’ All-Stars to chronicle their experience in Dayton and broadcast Tuesday night’s game with Mike Maahs on The Fan 1380.

Believe it or not, the first half of the 2013 schedule came to a close on Sunday with another TinCaps win, 10-5, over the Whitecaps in West Michigan. Fort Wayne finished off the first half with a 43-26 record — the second highest win total for a first half in the franchise’s 21 years of existence. (Only a 45-win first half in 2009 tops it.)

So after the game, the TinCaps boarded their bus home with a bit more exuberance than usual. Not only could they enjoy a victory, but alas, the All-Star break had arrived. In a 140-game season that offers 12 total off-days, the three that come together in the middle of the season are savored.

Some TinCaps jettisoned for home as quickly as possible after Sunday’s game. They may only get one or two full days with family and friends, but for a teenager or 20-something who’s been on the road since at least spring training, it’s worth it. And for those staying in Fort Wayne, there’s arguably nothing more glorious than getting a chance to just kick back and relax.

But for four TinCaps, this All-Star break means a trip to play in the Midwest League All-Star Game tonight in Dayton, Ohio, at Fifth Third Field. Starting pitcher Joe Ross, closer Roman Madrid, catcher Dane Phillips, and first baseman Luis Tejada piled into a van with Mike Maahs and myself Monday afternoon to make the two-and-a-half hour trip from Parkview Field to Dayton. (Designated hitter/outfielder Jeremy Baltz was also named an All-Star, but is on the disabled list and didn’t make the trip.)

Top: Roman Madrid and Joe Ross. Bottom: Luis Tejada and Dane Phillips, who apparently prefers Ruffles to leis.

Top: Roman Madrid and Joe Ross. Bottom: Luis Tejada and Dane Phillips, who apparently prefers Ruffles to leis.

Even though the game is tonight, the All-Star Game festivities really kicked off last night. The Dragons hosted a “Block Party” at Fraze Pavilion, an outdoor entertainment venue in Dayton.

The Midwest League All-Stars were treated to a dinner and signed autographs for fans. It was also a chance for many of the players to catch up with each other. Although they’re competitors during the season, a lot of them also have connections within the baseball community. Some know each other from home or college, and others through mutual friends. Not to mention, these guys are all going through similar experiences and share a common goal of making it to the majors. It’s a nice reminder for fans to see that rivals on the field can also be amicable off it.

But anyway, besides the dinner and autographs, the headline of the Block Party was a concert by Parrots of the Caribbean, a Jimmy Buffet cover band. So some great summer tunes were the backdrop for a tropical theme that also included the Dragons’ “Green Team” entertaining young fans with bounce houses, face-painting, temporary tattoo-inking, inflatable animal balloon-making, and more.

Mike and I were lucky enough to attend the Block Party, too. Take a look below at some of the fun.

vip

This was my pass to delicious barbecue, burgers, and beverages. Does anything boost the ego more than being told you’re very important?

Roman signs an autograph for Napoleon Dynamite's brother Kip. Coming in a future post: how old is too old for autograph-seeking?

Joe signs an autograph for a young fan, while Roman signs an autograph for Napoleon Dynamite’s brother Kip. Coming in a future post: how old is too old for autograph-seeking?

The Dragons had a very nice set-up for the Block Party at Fraze Pavilion, and the weather came through, too.

The Dragons had a very nice set-up for the Block Party at Fraze Pavilion, and the weather came through, too.

I asked for the Mike Tyson look, but was told my request couldn't be accommodated.

I asked for the Mike Tyson look, but was told my request couldn’t be accommodated.

Odd for the Dragons to be giving out swords, no? Don't they know what little heroes like this do with a sword when dragons are around?

Odd for the Dragons to be giving out swords, no? Don’t they know what little heroes like this do with a sword when dragons are around?

It's a proven fact that the presence of beach balls makes everything more fun.

It’s a proven fact that the presence of beach balls makes everything more fun.

Credit some of the Dragons' players for having some fun learning how to hula.

Credit some of the Dragons’ players for having some fun learning how to hula.

MUSICAL GUEST

Sticking with the theme from last night, Jimmy Buffet… take it away!

Thanks for stopping by, and make sure to come back tomorrow for more sights and sounds from the All-Star Game in Dayton. Don’t forget you can listen to tonight’s game on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne and worldwide on TheFanFortWayne.com. Coverage will start at 6:45 with the game to follow around 7:05. Get in touch with me on Twitter @John_G_Nolan or by email at nolan@tincaps.com.

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