Saturday, August 31, 2013

Altoona

On Being an Idiot

People's Natural Gas Field
People's Natural Gas Field, 2013

Friday, August 31, 2013
Akron Aeros (Cleveland Indians) vs.
Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Eastern League (AA)
Peoples Natural Gas Field
Altoona, PA
6:00 PM


Outside the Game:
After being thrown a free breakfast voucher the evening before by the clerk who checked me in, I went down to the restaurant to redeem it. They didn't have a buffet as is usual in such situations, and the nice waitress explained that it was a coupon for a free specific breakfast item on the menu, but she would really get me whatever I wanted, within reason. The coupon breakfast was actually looking pretty good, so I ordered that, along with an oatmeal. After eating, I asked to settle up for he oatmeal, and she told me it was all good, so I tossed her something extra in the tip.

I went back to the room to get my stuff together and head out into the day. With a night game this evening and less than a two-hour drive to get there, I decided to avail myself of the local opportunities. I had originally thought about going to Altoona and seeing some of the sights there, but the day before I had found out about the Little League Museum, right by the Little League World Series complex, so that quickly became a gimmie.

After packing up the car, I headed out to the short drive to the south of town for the Little League Museum. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the museum was at the top of the field complex that just the last week had been used for this year's World Series. I poked around a bit and then went into the museum proper. It was an excellent affair in six "innings" (just as a Little League game) that went through the formation and history of the league, its equipment, and the World Series, and with even a Hall of Excellence thrown in.

Hall of Excellence
Hall of Excellence

Of special note was a rather sizeable exhibit on Maria Pepe of Hoboken, who was the first girl to play Little League baseball. It was nice to see that the museum didn't shy away from the controversies of its past, because Little League Baseball went to state Supreme Courts in many cases to prevent girls from playing at the time. I got to talking with one of the staff in another part of the museum and mentioned I was from Hoboken. Apparently, Ms Pepe is a regular visitor to the museum and gives talks and the like. I couldn't help think what hell she must have gone through at the time and still ended up that positive about the experience to keep coming back.

Another inning of the museum had interactive exhibits where you can play fielding, catching, running, and jumping games. Of course, it would be undignified to do such things. As it would be bragging to point out that I ran the third fastest time from home to first that day.

The museum empties out into the store, and I went crazy buying a bunch of neat stuff there. I was waited on by the staff member I had talked to earlier. But this was only half of the experience. The actual fields were around back.

So I stopped by the car, put my purchases in the trunk, got out my sunscreen, and lathered up before walking into the afternoon to visit the fields. Because I was only taking my camera with me and not my game bag (as per usual), I put the sunscreen in my front pocket. Remember this, as it will be important later.

Player dorms

The Little League World Series had expanded from the single-field affair in the center of Williamsport to this multi-field complex in the south of town. For the duration of the tournament, the teams live in a no-parents-allowed village of dorms and recreation buildings that are just up the hill from the fields. The two main parks are Lamade Stadium and the newer Volunteers Field (paid for by the volunteers for the series). There are even more practice fields in the back that are used for their stated purpose, as well as early-level elimination matches. It was all very nice and clearly recovering from the last week or so.

Center to Home. Lamade Stadium
Center field to home plate, Lamade Stadium

After I had my fill, I got back into the car for the drive out to Altoona. The path, which went through State College, was not a heavily trafficked corridor this Saturday, as Penn State wasn't at home. It was in a panic that morning that I realized that I was going to drive straight through the heart of the beast on a Saturday, and it was with even greater relief that I realized the Nittany Lions would not be home that day. So the drive was largely without incident.

As I still had plenty of time before the game, I decided to stop off at the Railroaders Museum in Altoona to see the sights before heading out to the ballpark. I eventually pulled into the parking lot for the Railroad Museum, did the standard, half-assed hiding job for all my stuff, and then left the car. Remember the sunscreen I had put in my pocket earlier? Here's the payoff.

I usually have a preternatural knowledge of if I have everything I need in my pockets, transmitted by a complex system of feeling, weight, and echolocation. With the sunscreen in the pocket usually occupied by my key wallet, it threw everything off, and I left my car without my keys, which stayed happily in the ignition.

And here we are.

After the immediate rage subsided, and the subsidiary rage at having a legitimate senior moment went its course, there was a sullen recognition that this could be worse. Except that my cell phone was running out of juice. I went into the museum and explained to the nice, college-aged lady behind the counter my predicament, and she even offered to have her own roadside people come or ask the handyman at the museum to take a look at it. I took a paper and pen from her and decided to try my luck with AAA first.

A certain amount of transferring later, I was on the phone with a person who said a truck from a local towing company would be out within the hour. I told them my cell phone and to check in the museum if I wasn't with the car, because I might as well take in the museum while I was waiting. Perhaps its intellectual effects would stimulate my flagging memory.

So off to the museum I went, which was also an extremely well-done affair. To be honest, I didn't know Altoona from Abercrombie before this weekend, but it turns out to have been incredibly important to rail travel and the Pennsylvania Railroad, so go figure. The museum was not only a great descriptor of the railroad history and all the different jobs that went into it, but it did an excellent job of capturing the everyday lives of the workers, from recreating a typical house, to even having a walk-in display of a local ethnic watering hole of the time. Projected videos into the environment gave color to the various environments that were being represented.

Altoona Museum
Altroona in smokier days

Once done with my visit, I checked the time, and it was well-past the hour I was told for the arrival of the truck. Fearing that I perhaps missed them and they neglected to call, I started to dial AAA again only to have them call me while I was waiting for them to pick up. They asked if the tow truck had shown up yet, and I explained that I was just in the process of calling them about that, and as we were having that discussion, the tow truck pulled into the parking lot, and we all hung up.

I am not an uninformed person. One of the reasons that I still drive this beater car around is because I know that anyone who really wanted to could break into my car and steal it at any point. But knowing that thing and actually seeing that the tow truck guy was out of his truck for less than ten seconds before he put some hydraulic pump thing into my car door, pumped it twice, and fished open my lock. I thanked him and then vowed to myself never keep anything valuable in my car ever again.

Upon leaving, a combination of the late hour and my lack of gas prevented me from driving up to the actual railroad "Curve" that gave the local team its namesake. I drove around a little trying to find a gas station that was open on the holiday weekend. After I gassed up, it was a short trip to the stadium, where I parked and did my business.

After the game, I was headed about a half hour down the road to Bedford, right at the juncture with the main road to get me to York the next day. The game ended at a decent hour, and a short and uneventful ride later deposited me at my hotel for the evening.


The Stadium & Fans:

Home to center, People's Natural Gas Field
Home plate to center field, People's Natural Gas Field

"People's Natural Gas Field" probably made financial sense at the time, but it just doesn't roll off the tongue. Even the facade of the stadium gives up on the cumbersome moniker and just has a stylized natural gas flame as the main signage. The ballpark is also located right next door to Lakemont Park Amusement Park, which has its Skyliner roller coaster just beyond the right field wall. The conjoined parking lot for both facilities sits in left-center, and since the ballpark is at a much lower grade than the lot, you can get really cheap seats by standing on the top of the lot to watch the game. Or the amusement park, if you're into that sort of thing.

The VIP entrance is located close to the smaller parking lot for the ballpark only, while the main general entrance in left field is next to the larger lot shared with the amusement park. The entrance has stairs lowering you into the two levels of the park. The lowest is a promenade which extends most of the way around the park, from left-center, around home, to right. The upper deck runs from third to first.

In most parks such as these, the upper deck is just there to hold the press box and the luxury boxes, but this is a legitimate second level, with  general seating, the main team store, concessions, kids play area, and even a small video arcade. The lower promenade has most of its concessions and facilities under the cover of the second level, but there are special areas out in left and right field. In left is the Rocky Gap Entertainment Deck, with the Kunzler Grill and patio and wall seating. In right field is a special events pavilion and the Galliker's Fun Zone for the kids. There is also a section of "cheap seat" bleachers in right that was sponsored by the same discount emporium as was in Harrisburg.

The park had some oddities. Near the VIP entrance are two out-of-place monuments. Seemingly chucked in there is the one retired number for the team, as well as a picture display of the stadiums of the Eastern League. And while some of the outfield hills are open to visitors, others have dire warnings against climbing on them in a way that is sure to confuse some fans about what to do or not do.

Mascots
Diesel Dog and Steamer

The team has got a troop of mascots, including Diesel Dawg, Steamer, and Al Tuna (get it?). Al is only supposed to show up during the game when the Curve score a run, so the cry of "Bring out Al" gets bandied about a lot. Most of the between-inning entertainment is minor-league standards, with the exception of the knight battle. For that, two guys in padded knight suits come out and fight with pugil sticks, trying to knock off the stuffed head of their opponent's suit that is held on by strong Velcro. It was certainly the closest to a blood sport I've seen at a minor-league game, to be sure.

The crowd was copious and into the contest, and there was even a sizeable contingent of visiting fans from Akron who came out to see the game. To be honest, I'm not sure how far Akron is to Altoona, but it seems as though it should be a while.


At the Game with Oogie:

Scoring
Scoring along

In line to get in, I was just in front of this older gentleman, and as often happens, we started talking. He was from the Trenton area, and a Thunder fan, and he was just out here for a game because he was visiting his father, who lived in the area. We talked about baseball inconsequentials on the line, and he said how he had gotten a seat in the right field bleachers, as they are quite close to the field and half the price of the infield box seats. We talked a little about what I was doing, and as soon as we were in the doors, we parted ways, as I set out to do my normal business, and with a park this large, I was going to need every minute of the hour before the game to take in the park. I eventually saw him in the area next to me in the bleachers. I waved, but I'm not sure if he was looking.

I was just able to get a seat in the box seats behind the home dugout on the first-base side. I was in the last section of seats that was a little down the line from the dugout. It was a small section, and this was because it ended in the fence that separated the service entrance to the field. My seat was right up against the fence, which gave me a semi-comfortable place to lean, but sometimes impeded my view of right field. Most of the between-inning entertainment sat in the pen next to my seat before they went out to the field, as did the grounds crew, so it was an interesting vantage point to watch the fan crew distractedly texting between innings or the grounds crew futz with their equipment before heading out to repair the playing surface.

On the other side of me were mostly families. The place was packed that day. Around me was a large extended family who had a four year-old (or thereabouts) boy with them. He was regularly confused during the game because he was used to cheering for the team in black (the parent club, the Pirates), whereas the home colors of their farm team was red. But their opponents were wearing black uniforms. His parents kept trying to correct him, but he kept correcting them, explaining that black was the good guys. And so it goes.

Grub
The Curve Burger

I grabbed a Angus "Curve Burger" for grub.


The Game:

First pitch, Aeroes vs. Curve
First pitch, Aeros vs. Curve

This was one of the last games of the season for a just-over-.500 team and a team a few games below .500. It didn't mean much to either team, per se, and I was unsure of what to expect. But whatever it was, it was definitive.

The Pirates' Jason Grilli was starting a rehab assignment in the game, but the Aeros started off with a single. But Grilli got several quick outs to end the inning. The Curve went meekly in order in their half. Grilli pitched one inning and was done, and both sides went in order in the second. It was shaping up to be a quick game, especially when the Aeros repeated the feat in the third. The Curve showed some life, however. A leadoff single was followed by an attempted bunt to move the runner over that ended up as a bunt single. A walk loaded the bases, but a ground-out to third cut down the runner at home. However, it was the next grounder to third that defies explanation.

There was a clean grounder right to third. The runner at third did not break for home, but stayed on third. The runner from second ended up on the base as well, and the third baseman tagged them both for an unassisted double play. The original runner at third couldn't be there because he was forced to go home, and the runner from second couldn't be there because the runner from third was still there. I can only imagine the yelling both of them endured when their manager got a hold of them in the dugout.

The Aeros again went in order in the fourth, and the Curve again wasted an opportunity. Back-to-back singles started the half-inning, but they were then followed with a ground-out and an around-the-horn double play to end the inning. The fifth started as more of the same for the Aeros, with a pop out to second, but three straight walks came after it. A fielder's choice brought in a run before the end of the inning to give the Aeros a 1-0 lead. The bottom of the inning were more blown opportunities by the Curve. A batter got a two-out single and then stole second. The man after him walked, and then they both double-stole third and second. But then a ground-out to third ended the inning.

Given how lifeless the game had been so far, the top of the sixth defies explanation. A single was followed by a homer to right. And then a single was followed by another homer to center. And then another home to center. And then the next three batters made outs, with the score 4-0, Aeros. The Curve managed a hit batsman and a single in their half. The Aeros cooled off to only a walk in the top of the seventh, as did the Curve in their half of the inning.

In the eighth, the first batter got on by an errant throw by the third baseman, and the next batter walked. Three batters later, a two-out home run came before a strikeout ended the half, leaving it a laugher at 9-0, Aeros. The Curve went in order in the eighth, and the Aeros only managed a single in the top of the ninth. The Curve closed out their feckless game with three straight outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the game ended 7-0, Aeros.


The Scorecard:

Aeros vs. Curve, 08-31-13. Aeros win, 7-0.Aeros vs. Curve, 08-31-13. Aeros win, 7-0.
Aeros vs. Curve, 08/31/13. Aeros win, 7-0.

The pamphlet-sizes scorecard was a free giveaway at the park entrance, which was a nice change of pace from all the extra-charge cards I'd been seeing lately. While on newsprint, it wasn't cheap newsprint, and it stood up well to writing with sharp pencils, instead of shredding itself like delicate tissue paper. The program itself was completely customized to the opponent, with full lineups as part of the program, another welcome change from the last few parks to which I'd visited.

The scorecard was the centerfold of the program, and it had no adds to impede it. For its form factor, it had ample space, as well as acknowledging the reality of double-labeling the summary categories as extra innings should things come to pass. The only knock on it was the lack of any pitching stats, but since there were extra replacement lines, I took the opportunity to at least note all of the pitchers, if not their full stats.

Scoring-wise, the game had a few things of note. First was the four strikeouts that required a put-out play to get the runner. Raw catchers in this league are no doubt the cause of that. The unassisted double-play by the third baseman in the third was, I think, the first unassisted double-play I've ever seen. There was the double-steal in the fifth, and the home run explosion by the Aeros in the sixth and eighth, but besides those events, everything else was not out of the ordinary.


The Accommodations:

Econolodge
Econolodge

After perhaps over-spending on the Holiday Inn the night before for a room I barely used, I decided to grab a room at the Econolodge for Saturday night, as I'd be spending a similar amount of time in the room and there was one a short distance down the road from Altoona in Bedford.

When I got in after the game, I was again a little weary from the traveling, and the counter person was extremely nice to me. Her name, if her name tag was to be believed, was Barb. Close your eyes and think of "Barb." Yep, that was her.

I've got to say, there is just something about motels that I found reassuring. I think it probably goes back to my childhood and vacations, but I have an affinity to them that I don't have with fancy hotels for whatever reason. And say what you will about Econolodges, I don't think I've ever had a truly disappointing experience in one, and that's more than I can say about most hotel chains.

After checking in, I dragged my stuff to my room and got settled in. There was little different from this room than the room I stayed in the night before, except the price tag. The king-sized bed had a raft of pillows with which to make a big pile to rest my back, and outside of being less fancy, all the same amenities were here: bathroom, desk, lounge chair, end tables and bed.

As with the previous night, I took a shower to wash the day off of me, watched some TV, did some writing, and then hit the hay.



2013 Labor Day

Friday, August 30, 2013

Williamsport

On Running Away to Unexpected Things

Historic Bowman Field, 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013
Batavia Muckdogs (Miami Marlins) vs.
Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies)
NY-Penn League (Short-Season A)
Historic Bowman Field
Williamsport, PA
7:05 PM


Outside the Game:
Work was conspiring to kill me; this much was obvious to me now. I lost track of the number of times I nearly just quit and walked out of the building that week, but I kept holding on to the hope of this long weekend of baseball and managed to carry on.

I was planning on leaving relatively early for the first leg of this trip. Williamsport was about three hours away, and there would no doubt be holiday traffic on the Friday of Labor Day, and I had already booked a hotel that morning, so I headed out a little before two. On the way out, I ran into at least one of the new tenants who were moving into the apartment vacated by my Florida-bound landlords. I was a bit nervous about this, as I am all things related to my living arrangements, but at least the one woman I met seemed nice enough.

And so I headed out on the road, and I was nearly immediately stymied by the Pulaski Skyway, which they saw fit to repair on one of the biggest travel days of the year. Okay, great. Groovy.

I found an alternate route on my TomTom, got some gas on the way, and took another way out to 280. Once I got on that road, things proceeded swimmingly, until traffic stopped about another half hour in. After slogging through barely moving traffic, the accident at the end revealed itself (three cars, no fatalities), and the road opened up.

I made up some of the time by ignoring the speed limit, but a full half hour is the kind of thing you can't make up altogether. And then there was the next backup. This was just a merge congestion, but it took another ten minutes out of my life. Oh, and did I mention it was incredibly hot, and my car's only "air conditioning" comes from driving really fast? Standing still for nearly an hour, I was drenched in a Taiwan-level of sweat, and the car was nearly unbearable.

After that last delay, however, it was all relatively smooth sailing, and I made up as much time as I could as I hurtled in the opposite direction from civilization as fast as I could go. But instead of checking in at the hotel, unpacking, and then going to the game, I instead went straight to the game due to the late hour.

They weren't going out of their way to tell you where to enter, but I accidentally found the correct parking lot and went out to do my normal business at the park. In addition, the first Little League field in America was across the street, as this is apparently one of Williamsport's claims to fame. So I canvassed out both before heading to the game itself.

Post-Game
Exunt Bowen Field

After the game, it was pretty simple to get to my hotel, which is good, because I had been driving most of the day and was not in the best of shape.


The Stadium & Fans:

Home to center, Historic Bowman Field
Home plate to center field, Historic Bowman Field

When you go and name your park "Historic Bowman Field," you are pretty much laying your cards on the table from the get-go. The ballpark was originally opened in 1926, and it is the second-oldest operating park in the minor leagues, and there are historic markers that attest to these facts. But much like the field in Reading, while historic, it has expanded outwards with some modern additions, but not nearly as many as its neighbor to the East.

The facility itself is located in a depression next to the main road that runs next to it. A statue just beyond center field commemorates the location of the first Little League game, and it is across the street from Carl E. Stotz Field, the original home of the Little League World Series (until it moved to the south side of town). It is still used by the first and oldest Little League in the world. On the outside of the outfield, you can see most of the historic-ness of the park, as its aged wooden wall still separates a home run from an extra-base hit. More modern walls extend out from behind home plate, where a plaza area, concessions, and a kids area have grown from the original footprint.

Center to home, Carl E. Stotz Field
Center field to home plate, Carl E. Stotz Field

A VIP entrance is located halfway down the first-base side, but the main entrance is behind home plate, right next to the ticket office. It empties out into a plaza area extended out from the park. On one side of the plaza are the main concession areas, and fan services and the team store on the opposite side of the main entrance. The kids zone is on the opposite side of the plaza from the main entrance. Two covered tunnels on either side of the field lead up to the seating areas, and the first-base tunnel also houses the Bowman Field Hall of Fame.

There is a walkway that runs from about the edge of left field to the edge of right field. As with most older parks, most of the seating extends up from the walkway, into bleachers. There is a limited area of box seats that go down from the promenade to the infield wall. Out at the edge of left field is a patio bar open to all comers, while in deep left is "Cutter's Cove," a special ticketed area that has its own entrance, concessions, and facilities. There is an additional area of bleacher seats out towards right field that is only opened as necessitated by the size of the crowd. It wasn't open for my game.

The first thing you'll notice about Historic Bowman Field is the location of the dugouts. The visiting dugout on the third-base side is about where's you expect it (if a little further back), while the home dugout on the first-base side is its own stand-alone shed out in right field. The players have quite a hike to get to the on-deck circle, but the lack of dugout on that side puts the box seats right up against the field.

Mascot
Boomer and Company

Boomer and the fan crew run the between-innings entertainment. It was mostly your standard mix of races and contests, but at the start of each inning, a card girl comes out with the inning number, much as between rounds at a prize-fight. I hadn't seen that before. And because of the proximity of the box seats to the field, the batters will often high-five or fist-bump any kids in the front rows on the long way to an at-bat. Presumably, this brings them good luck. The day I was there, troubled former baseball star (and the last 30-game winner) Denny McLain was signing free autographs in the plaza, as well as being the guest of honor in the on-field, pre-game interview segment.

The game had a pretty good crowd, although there was a predictable lack of Batavia fans who didn't make the trip down from upstate NY to central PA. The crowd was particularly into the game and cheered at all the right parts, which was a little unusual in the largely family-centric low minors.


At the Game with Oogie:

Scoring
Historic Scoring

For the first game of the trip, I decided to get some seats behind the home dugout, as per my regular MO. Given the unusual layout of the park, this wasn't possible, so I settled on some box seats behind where the dugouts should be. And, given the name of the park, I don't know why I was so surprised that these were honest-to-god, old-timey box seats, complete with the railing to rest your head on. This was strictly season ticket holder area, as confirmed by the number of people around me who were discussing who wasn't able to come to the game that night, or who was coming later. No one seemed to pay me too much mind. There was one guy who was trying to do a seat upgrade to the boxes from the bleachers, and eventually a kindly season ticket holder allowed him to claim a seat near him that he wasn't using that evening, but after some questioning from the ushers, he indignantly went back to the grandstand even after being given permission. I'm not sure what was going on, but the regulars seemed to just get a chuckle out of it, so who am I to argue?

Grub
Today's offence to decency: The Lumberjack

I only got on line to get an autograph from Denny McLain just before he left for the pre-game interview. He didn't come back until right before the game started, and I wasn't willing to miss any of the game for an autograph. Instead, I grabbed a "Lumberjack"  sandwich from the concession stand, which was some manner of beef brisket and onions. It was delightful.


The Game:

First pitch, Muckdogs vs. Crosscutters
First pitch, Muckdogs vs. Crosscutters

This one was a legitimate laugher with some truly odd moments, but the .500 Home Crosscutters managed to put away the visiting, bottom-dwelling Muckdogs quite handily.

The Muckdogs started it out by going in order in the first, and the Crosscutters didn't do much better, only getting a leadoff single that was erased on a pickoff by the pitcher (which would prove to be a theme for the game). The Muckdogs went 1-2-3 in the second as well, but the Crosscutters were not as quiet. Their leadoff man went yard to left, earning the dubious honor of tying the team record for home runs in a season. (It is dubious because a hitter with any real power and correctible mistakes would have been promoted long before he could attain such a record.) They kept the party going with back-to-back, one-out singles, which were followed by a double that brought both of them home. Two outs then ended the inning with the Crosscutters up, 3-0.

In the top of the third, the Muckdogs got a leadoff single, followed by a double, making it second and third with no outs. Three straight outs followed, but a grounder to second got the runner from third home on a fielder's choice, cutting the lead to 3-1, Crosscutters. The Crosscutters went relatively quietly in their half. A two-out strikeout would have seemed to end the inning, but the catcher lost the ball and the runner made it to first, and then he stole second. But another strikeout ended the inning with nothing across.

The Muckdogs went in order in the fourth, and the Crosscutters only got a one-out single (that was another pick-off victim at first). The Muckdogs got a two-out walk in the fifth, but he was caught attempting to steal, as opposed to being picked off. A two-out triple in the bottom of the inning by the Crosscutters was brought home by a subsequent single, but (stop me if you've heard this one), the baserunner was picked off to end the inning.

The sixth was a weird one. The new Crosscutters pitcher started the inning off with a walk, and then mangled a throw to first on the next batter, leaving it first and third with no outs. A ground-out brought the run in, but a muffed throw by the shortstop got the runner to second. Two outs followed, leaving the score 4-2, Crosscutters. The Crosscutters got a one-out double in their half, but it was erased on a hard-luck, double-play liner to the first baseman who got the runner flatfooted between second and third.

The Muckdogs went in order in the seventh, but the Crosscutters sure didn't. A leadoff double was followed by a shallow single, and then another double that brought both of them in, and then advanced to third on the throw home. A one-out walk kept the inning going, and a ground-out brought in the run from third. A hit batsman kept up the specter of batting around, but a grounder to second ended the inning with the Crosscutters extending their lead to 6-2.

The Muckdogs only managed a single in the top of the eighth, but the Crosscutters weren't done. A new pitcher walked the first two batters, and a single brought in one run, and an error by the shortstop on the throw moved the runners up. A sacrifice fly brought in the run from third, and the pitcher botched an easy grounder to move up the runners. A ground-out brought the runner in from third before another ground-out ended the inning, with the Crosscutters up, 9-2.

In the top of the ninth, the Muckdogs did not go quietly. A leadoff walk by the Crosscutter closer was followed by a one-out single and another walk to load the bases. Yet another ground-out brought in the runner from third, but a fly out to right finally ended the game, with the Crosscutters winning by a final score of 9-3.


The Scorecard:

Muckdogs vs. Crosscutters, 08-30-13. Crosscutters win, 9-3.Muckdogs vs. Crosscutters, 08-30-13. Crosscutters win, 9-3.
Muckdogs vs. Crosscutters, 08/30/13. Crosscutters win, 9-3.

The scorecard was a separate $2.50 purchase and not a free giveaway as they often are at this level of ball. It was worth the price for the most part, as a magazine-sized program with notes and rosters was included, along with your average minor-league content. The scorecard itself was a little on the small size due to ads, but it was useable and on good paper to write on in pencil, if a little cramped.

There were a lot of unusual amounts of things in this game. Firstly, there were a great number of pickoffs (3). There were also a lot of runs driven in on fielder's choices (4), including all of the Muckdog runs (3 of 4).

Besides that, there were also some odd events of note. In the top of the third, a liner went off the pitcher to the shortstop for a 1-6-3 put-out. Also in the third was a strike-out victim reaching first, which almost never happens in the majors. The oddest moment, however, was in the bottom of the seventh, when the umpire rang a Crosscutter player up when he only had two strikes. It was an awkward moment when the batter refused to go, and the umpire had to sheepishly correct himself. The batter would eventually strike out for real.

And this was just me, but they switched around a guy in the Muckdogs lineup from the announced lineup and the lineup on the white erase board, so I was struggling in the later innings to figure out what went wrong. I  eventually corrected the situation.


The Accommodations:

Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn

I booked my room in kind of a rush at home, and frankly, a Holiday Inn sounded just fine, if a little pricy. Thanks to the traffic, I didn't get to the hotel until after the game, but it was just a short ride away. I blearily followed the mellifluous tones of my TomTom to the hotel, and found a parking space, unloaded my crap, and headed off to the front desk.

There was a drunk guy with a beer talking to the smiling clerk, and I didn't know if he knew her or not, or if that was a hostage smile. Either way, I checked in somewhat coherently and went off to my room.

And then I went back to ask if I needed a pass or anything for my car, and when breakfast was, and where the vending machines were. And drunk guy was still there, and it seemed more weird, but she didn't stop smiling, so I assumed it was okay. I went up to my room (which was quite nice with the king-sized bed, and the desk, and the TV), and took a shower to wash the day off me. And then I piled all the pillows into a giant cocoon and packed myself into bed.

The WIFI password was "Baseball." Make of that what you will.



2013 Labor Day
 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Troy

On Capital Ideas

Joseph L. Bruno Stadium
Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013
Staten Island Yankees (NY Yankees) vs.
Tri-City ValleyCats (Houston Astros)
Joseph L. Bruno Stadium
NY-Penn League (Short Season A)
Troy, NY
7:00 PM


Outside the Game:
It only dawned on me on Friday that I was going to two state capitals in as many weekends: Harrisburg the week before, and now Albany. I could make a month of it and go to the Trenton Thunder again, but I had new parks to hit. Technically, the team this week was in Troy, NY, but I had to pass through Albany to get there, so as far as I'm concerned, it counted.

I was, at least, finally off of I-78 for a week. The agenda this time would take me up 2/87. Starting off, my TomTom took me on state roads instead of 95 for the first part of the trip, which was annoying, but once I got on 287, it was all one road for most of the rest of the trip. There was some moderate construction congestion where 287 turned to 87, but beside that, it was mostly an exercise in trying to keep up with the speed of traffic. 75 was for the slow lane, it seemed. For a bit of road, the slow lane was going about 85, and we were getting passed as if we were standing still by people on the left. Needless to say, even with the delay, I made great time. The drive through downtown Albany was more pleasant than I expected. There is a lot of nice architecture there, at least. I didn't walk around, so who knows what it is like with boots on ground.

I eventually got to the park in Troy and was directed to a disused dorm lot to park my car. The lots right by the stadium were for season ticket holders only, but the outer lots were right on the streets out of the college, so it actually was better, from my perspective.

Exiting
The Joe empties

After the game, I actually had to turn on the heater in my car. I will never understand weather in upstate. Once I got out to the main roads, it was again just a matter of trying to keep up with traffic, and there was no construction to delay me at all. While paying the toll for the NY Throughway, I had an odd moment of alignment. I was apparently driving up as the woman manning my booth was talking with the next booth over about the new Batman casting. She asked me what I thought about it, and I told her I only cared who was playing the villain. I told her about Bryan Cranston being cast as Luthor in the Batman/Superman film, and she hadn't heard this news yet, so now they had something else to talk about. That is being in the right place at the right time.

I got home in record time, parked, went back to the apartment, and passed out so that I would be up for Talking Baseball the next morning.


The Stadium & Fans:

Home to center, Joseph L. Bruno Stadium
Home plate to center field, Joseph L. Bruno Stadium

Joseph L. Bruno Stadium (also known as "The Joe") was a nice enough little place. However, it was named for a Republican NY State Senator who was convicted on a massive corruption probe. Though he won a dismissal of the original conviction, he will be tried again. None of this information is readily available at the stadium.

After the relatively complex AA-parks of the last few weeks, I was looking forward to the comparative simplicity of a short-season A park. The stadium is located on the campus of a Troy community college and is part of a larger sports complex. There is a huge obstacle course/gym thing behind left field, and there are tennis courts beyond right field. There is only a small passage around behind the outfield, but if you are determined enough, you can, for example, pop your camera over the outfield wall to get some pictures. Not that I did.

Outside the main entrance is a M*A*S*H-like sign, pointing to all the closest MLB parks, Cooperstown, and the franchise's home office in Houston. The main entrance empties you out onto the concourse behind home plate. All the seating areas are below the concourse, which extends from the edge of left field to the edge of right field. Luxury and press boxes are above home plate, running from about first base to third base. Down the first base line are concessions, a covered Picnic Pavilion, and a picnic hill in right field itself. Down the third base line are concessions, a Tiki bar, the "Field of Dreams" picnic area, the Kids Zone (with a tribute to "Troy Baseball Legends"), and the "Top of the Hill Bar & Grill" in left field, behind the home bullpen.

There are a number of curiosities in the stands. There is a "hit the target, win a car" sign in right field, a giant inflatable Uncle Sam in left (the character of "Uncle Sam" is one of Troy's claims to fame), and a three-sided exhibit right by the entrance about bat manufacture (as upstate NY is where much of the lumber for baseball bats comes from). A number of special interest booths are also by the entrance. The big one this night was an Underground Railroad historical committee.

The big story of the evening was the fake mustache event. They were trying to get the crowd to break the Guinness World Record for the most people wearing fake mustaches, which was set in France earlier this year. They gave out fake mustaches to everyone in the crowd, and most of the staff, players, and even the mascot were wearing fake mustaches for the occasion. They took the count at the end of the second inning, and an unofficial count later in the game said they had achieved the goal. So this was now the second world record I've participated in at a ballgame. Whoo.

Guinness
Even the players

The crowd was good and near sell-out, as far as I could tell. There were a large contingent of Staten Island Yankees fans on the first-base side. The crowd was loud and into the game, and especially so for some Hispanic fans, who loudly did the "Vamos Gatos" ("Let's Go Cats") chant that was sometimes put on the scoreboard. I don't think I've ever seen that anywhere before.

Mascot
South Paw

The ValleyCat mascot SouthPaw was in charge of the between-inning entertainment. He also was the frequent tormentor of a couple in the season-ticket seats several rows back from me, whom he attacked with silly string on several occasions and then went on the dugout to act all innocent and cat-cute. Most of the events were your standard variety of minor-league fluff, but there were a few originals. There was catching Frisbees in pizza boxes and getting a blindfolded person to put a hat on their head that was attached to a fishing pole-- that was good for a laugh or two. The races were a little more elaborate than normal, as the condiment race had the participants in tiny cars running around the outfield, which was sort of novel, and the "character race" was between the "Tri-City Mayors," representing the actual three mayors of the tri-city area (Troy, Albany, and Schenectady).


At the Game with Oogie:

Grub
Double-play burger and brine potatoes

There were a lot of scorekeeping events for this one. When I went to copy the lineup into my scorebook, there were one or two old guys there, which you expect, but there was actually a kid there filling out his scorecard as well. I can't remember the last time that I saw a kid working a scorecard. It was nice to see. An older gentleman came up as I was finishing, and even though it looked like walking was an effort for him, he stood there and wrote in the lineups. We talked a little bit about the previous day's game and the Little League World Series, and this guy was obviously a baseball lifer, and perhaps a look into my future in 30 or so years. I wish him all the best in the world.

As a single ticket, I can often sneak into getting a seat in the area behind the home dugout. There is usually one seat in what is almost always the season ticket-holder area, because few people come alone to games. I let my anti-social nature work for me. In front of me was a lady who had the seat behind the dugout right by the entrance stairs for the players. She knew all them by name and was on a first-name basis with all the staff. She was working on her own scorecard, as well. It was all a little Bull Durham, though I in no way wish to cast aspersions onto her character.

Next to me was a couple about my age, maybe a little older. When I first got to my seat, the husband was there by himself, and he was filling out a scorecard. He told me no one ever usually sits in my seat, and we had that conversation. But then his wife showed up and was sitting right next to me. It was her scorecard that he was holding, and things got a little weird. We were clearly copies of the other in different genders. She was sitting there, with a camera around her neck, with her scorecard, as was I. We were both lefties, for Pete's sake. It got to be a little disconcerting, because we would both raise our cameras to take pictures of the same thing, and almost synchronized, we'd hunch over the scorecards after a play to write it down. I'm not sure there is any moral to this or not, but man, it was weird.

I got dinner at the "Godfather" stand in right field, which served some selections from Lupo's in Binghamton, including a chicken spiede. I bought some spiede marinade in the merch store, but I had a "double play" burger (a 1/2 lb. burger topped with pulled pork) with a side order of brined potatoes, because how could you not?

Guinness
For the event

Everyone around me had coats, which made me question their sanity for most of the game. It was in the 80s for the first half of the game. But when the sun went down, it was I who was the crazy one. The temperature dropped thirty degrees easily. The woman next to me got hot chocolate at one point. I just buttoned up my shirt and toughed it out. But this was almost as bad as the temperature swing in San Francisco when I was there.


The Game:

First pitch, Yankees vs. ValleyCats
First pitch, Yankees vs. ValleyCats

This was the first close game I'd seen in a while, and it was also the first to pretty much go how you'd expect based on the two teams playing (the first-place ValleyCats, and the last-place SI Yankees).

To form, the SI Yankees went in order in the first. Picking off where last night ended (where in the previous game, the ValleyCats got nine singles in a row), the ValleyCats started with four straight singles that got two runs in and lead to a first-inning visit to the mound. The batter of the third single got nailed trying for second after the relay throw went wide, and the fifth batter grounded the runner in front of him into a fielder's choice. There was another single after that, but a stinging line-out to short ended the inning with the ValleyCats up, 2-0.

The Yankees again went in order in the second, and the ValleyCats cooled off and only had a single to show for their half. The Yankees broke up the no-hitter in with a single in the top of the third, but that was about it for the inning. The ValleyCats got the first batter on base with an error, but had nothing else in the bottom of the inning. The Yankees showed some life in the top of the fourth with back-to-back singles to start the inning, before a pop-out to short ended the streak. A short single loaded the bases, but a hard grounder to third led to a double-play to end the half. The ValleyCats started the bottom of the fourth with a triple, and he came in on a fielder's choice, but that was it, leaving it 3-0 ValleyCats at the end of four.

The first Yankees batter in the fifth got plunked, and it was the start of a sad rally, of sorts. The next Yankee singled, and the grounder to third by the next batter got booted to load the bases. A one-out walk brought the run home, but the pitcher rallied for two strike outs to end it 3-1, ValleyCats. The ValleyCats started their half with a walk (gone to second on a passed ball) and then a one-out walk, followed by a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third. However, the last two batters struck out with no one across.

The sixth started with back-to-back singles for the SI Yankees, but then three straight outs. The ValleyCats, meanwhile, began with a double that was sacrificed to third and brought in on a one-out single to right. Two more outs left nothing else across, with the ValleyCat lead now at 4-1. In the seventh, a two-out double was followed by a triple to bring the first Yankees runner home. The triple was stranded at third with a ground out, but the ValleyCat lead was now 4-2. The ValleyCats only mustered a walk in the bottom of the frame.

The Yankees went in order in the eighth, and the ValleyCats got a one-out base-runner thanks to a shortstop error. He was replaced with a pinch runner, who nearly immediately got picked off first before a strikeout ended the inning. Facing the ValleyCats closer, the SI Yankees went in order in the ninth, leaving it a 4-2 ValleyCats victory.


The Scorecard:

Yankees vs. ValleyCats, 08-24-13. ValleyCats win, 4-2.
Yankees vs. ValleyCats, 08/24/13. ValleyCats win, 4-2.

It is pretty hard to fail with a free give-away, but the ValleyCats managed to do just that. The pamphlet-sized program with the scorecard in the center was a free giveaway at the entrance to the stadium. For the most part, it was average-enough affair, with the stand minor-league program contents, and the scorecard as the centerfold.

But the scorecard was printed on glossy magazine paper that made it nearly impossible to write on with pencils. And it was magazine printing on cheap paper, so that the scorecard itself smudged easily and was able to be erased while making corrections. They conveniently put in a "Notes" area instead of ads, but they then put the notes section with a smudge-able, erasable grey background that made it impossible to use. To top this all off, the lineups were not included with the scorecard, but had to be purchased separately for $1, or included in the $3 program. If you're going to charge for the scorecard, charge for the scorecard. Don't nickel and dime it.

That said, there were a couple of odd plays, and that was it. In the bottom of the first, there was the attempt to stretch a single to a double where the throw went past the cut-off man. This led to the run-of-the-mill "CS 9-5-4" put out. With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, there was also the all-so-common "DP 5-5-3" you see every day. The run walked in the top of the fifth wasn't earned, thanks to the E5 that preceded it.

Everything else was largely cut and dry.


The Accommodations:
Just Hoboken


2013 Stand-Alone Trip

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Harrisburg

On Perspective

Metro Bank Park
Metro Bank Park, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013
Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox) vs.
Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals)
Metro Bank Park
Eastern League (AA)
Harrisburg, PA
7:00 PM


Outside of the Game:
I-78.

Again.

This was seriously in danger of becoming a "thing."

This weekend, I was out to points further west, but for most of the trip, I was following the previous week's journey. It was all seeming very familiar, if with an extra hour tacked on.

Possessing only a half tank of gas, I knew I was going to have to stop during the drive, and I somehow forgot to have lunch before I left, so I was also going to need to grab some food. Knowing this, in addition to some weird premonition I had, I gave myself an extra half hour for drive time and set out without a nap. We are deeply, deeply into First World problems at this point.

Everything was going swimmingly, and speed limits were being casually referenced. I planned on getting to around Allentown and dumping off for food and gas. Except that traffic all of a sudden stopped dead about four miles from the first Allentown exits. I'm talking from 75 to zero in a quarter mile. As I nervously looked at my gas gauge and my stomach let me know its opinion, there was just nothing that could be done about it. The way the traffic was proceeding in small fits and then inactivity, there was clearly something serious up ahead and people were just squeaking past it, and the small gains were rippling back in minor advances.

By the time I got to the end of it after twenty minutes or so, I was getting nervous about gas, but I immediately stopped being concerned about that when I saw the first fireman ahead who was diverting traffic into the leftmost lane. I know enough firefighters to know the look that he had. There was something not good ahead.

A little further down the road was a pick-up truck upside down on the side of the road, completely burned out. There was an ambulance on the scene that was not moving. None of it pointed to anything positive.

The road immediately opened up after, though the east-bound side of 78 was backed up for miles with rubber-neckers on the other side. I eventually got off at the next exit, and with the lost time, I was only able to get gas and jump back on the road. The gas pump kept kicking out and wouldn't stay depressed until my entire tank was full, and the only thing semi-edible in the gas station mart was a bag of trail mix, but my troubles ultimately seemed a little less dire, given the circumstances.

The rest of the trip went without incident, and I found my way with little effort onto City Island Park, where the ballpark was located. Slightly punch-drunk from the driving, I think the parking attendant might have thought I was challenged or drunk, depending on how charitable she was being. I eventually was able to park without killing anyone and go on my way.

City Island Park was this nifty little island in the middle of the Susquehanna River, located right across from downtown Harrisburg. There was one car bridge and a few pedestrian bridges that took you straight back into downtown or across to the other side. The whole island was a big family park, and in addition to the ballfield, there was a soccer field, an arcade and batting cage complex, a riverboat ride, a horse and carriage ride, a big mini-golf course, and a canoe and paddleboat rental place. There were also several little education spots on the island. Seemed like a good place to take the family for a day.

After the game, I cut out before the fireworks, of which I was getting a little sick at this point in the year. I got out to my car and was on my way as the show started, and since it was just before 10 PM, I had a good shot of getting home significantly before 1 AM.

The ride back was seamless, and I was flying all the way, mostly just to keep up with the traffic on the road. Hugging the "E" on my gas meter again since I only got a half-tank near Allentown, I pulled into Hoboken at about 12:40, gassed up, put my car in the garage, and passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow back home.


The Stadium & Fans:

Home to center, Metro Bank Park
Home plate to center field, Metro Bank Park

Frankly, anything was going to pale in comparison after Baseballtown the week before, but Metro Bank Park wasn't a slouch. The unique location on the park on the island was interesting to begin with, and the way the park itself was oriented was also out of the ordinary. This was another (relatively) old park that had undergone a ton of renovations, but here, as opposed to Reading, you really couldn't even see any of the old park anymore. The main entrance was out in right field, as home plate was butting up against the soccer field next door. There was only one other regular entrance to the park, which was by first base in the handicapped parking lot. I went in that way, because the main line was out to the batting cages when the gates opened.

The main grandstand, which was once the old ballpark, was still behind home plate. It was separated into two seating areas by a main promenade halfway up. The Stadium Club was located on the promenade behind home plate, and two stairways on either end of the grandstand led up to the luxury suite level at the very top of the grandstand on either side of the broadcast booth.

Along first base and right field was a row of bleachers extending up from a walkway, and a smaller set of seats  extended down from there. The Giant Picnic Pavilion was off in right field. Also behind right field was a large plaza, reminiscent again of a similar area in Reading. There were a row of specialty concessions, a grill stall, a small stage, and a speed pitch.

In the corners of each outfield were the entrances to the "boardwalk" in the outfield. Both outfields had a line of barstool seating, and there was the Bud Light Bulls Eye bar underneath the scoreboard in center and a better-than-average buffalo wings place in left. Also in left were a set of "Cheap Seats" bleachers sponsored by Ollie's Bargain Outlet, complete with a big inflatable version of Ollie. The team store and food concessions were also on the left field patio.

Ollie
"Why?" screams Decency.

By the main entrance in left, they had a lifeguard for the "boardwalk," along with a bunch of food concessions, a program stand, and the guest services booth. The boardwalk extended down the third-base side, with a bunch of tables for charities and the like. Picnic tables lines the third-base boardwalk, and a small section of seats over-hangs the field. Dugout-level seating is on the field down the third-base side, as well.

There is a lower level to the third-base side, where the Kids Area lives. It extends around under the grandstand, where the smoking area and a couple of concession stands are located, and opens out to the right field plaza.

The Senators mascot is Rascal the river monster, seemingly an excuse to have a Sesame Street-looking thing run around the park all night. The between-innings activities were mostly minor-league standards, with the exception of a rather suggestive balloon popping race (where couples have to race to get balloons and then pop them on their partner in increasingly provocative ways) and an animal-acting event where kids gets animal masks and then have to act like their animal, which always seems to bring the adorable. There was also an air guitar competition that showed, beyond any shadow of doubt, that the fan squad members have no idea what a guitar is.

Mascot
Rascal, the river monster

The place was packed beyond capacity the night I went, and while there were a lot of families, there was a respectable level of hard-core baseball fans in the bunch, as well. There was a very small contingent of far-off Maine fans representing the opposition.

Another note on atmosphere, there is a crap-ton of bugs in it. Seemingly out of nowhere, a pestilent swarm of calendar-challenged mayflies descended on the field. They were thick for an inning or so and then thinned out, but I heard that one time a game had to be cancelled because of them. I wonder if Joba Chamberlain ever had to pitch here coming up with the Trenton Thunder?


At the Game with Oogie:

Grub
Boneless wings and Gatorade

I once again secured a ticket via phone before heading out. I got a seat right behind the home dugout, as that seems the thing to do these days. The seat was right on top of the field and right behind the dugout, so I got a front-row view of most of the dugout activities between-innings. One of the camera men plopped himself in the seat right in front of me for most of the game. He was mostly taking crowd shots and helped out showing all the games that happened on the dugout for the main scoreboard feed. By getting a pretty good look at his camera for most of the game, I'm pretty sure I could pick up and use it if I had to. So there's that.

I was surrounded not by families, but by older couples in what I imagined was the season ticket section. All of them were quite into the game, which was nice. The wife of the couple to my left was particularly fervent and even after being staked to a big lead was having kittens in the bottom of the ninth when runners got on base. Her husband was particularly not fond of the number nine man in the Senators' order, and he gave him a hard time whenever he came back to the dugout without a hit.

Mayflies
A few bugs

When the mayfly infestation came down in the sixth, she helpfully explained to me that my light-colored clothing attracted the flies, which would explain why I became quite covered with them for the innings of the heavy swarm. Good to know for the future, I guess. I was just happy that I had finished my boneless chicken wings before the game. I can't imagine the horror show that would have resulted if anyone had an open beverage cup or sticky food when the mayflies showed up. shiver


The Game:

First pitch, Sea Dogs vs. Senators
First pitch, Sea Dogs vs. Senators

The Senators have already clinched their division and were playing the middle-of-the-road Sea Dogs. It would seem that the Senators would walk away with it, and they did, but only after the game looked to be going dramatically in the other direction.

The Sea Dogs started it off with back-to-back, two-out singles in the top of the first, but the threat ended with a ground-out to second. The Senators were simply obliterated in the bottom of the first. I have never seen any team so dominated in my life. The Sea Dog starter blew away the order, pitching in the mid-nineties. The batters weren't even close during their strikeouts. I was thinking this game would be over in an hour, and I was wondering how good the Red Sox's rotation was that this guy wasn't in the bigs already.

In the top of the second, the Sea Dogs continued the two-out hits with a two-out triple, but this one was stranded by a strikeout. The Sea Dogs pitcher got two quick ground-outs to start the second, but the third batter in the inning got some wood on a fastball, and sent it to left for a single. A wild-pitch moved him to second. The next batter doubled to center to bring in the run, and the batter after him walked. So the Sea Dogs starter was bad with guys on base. That was flaw one that was likely keeping him down here. He did whiff the next batter to end the inning with the Senators up, 1-0.

The Sea Dogs went in order in the third, and the Senators had a leadoff single erased on a stolen base attempt, and that was it for the inning. The fourth was a repeat of the third for the Sea Dogs, and all the Senators managed was a batter reaching first on a two-out error by the third baseman. Both teams went in order in the fifth, as it seemingly settled down to a pitcher's duel.

In the sixth, a bunch of things happened. The Sea Dogs managed a single in their half of the inning, but it also marked the beginning of a swarm of mayflies that just carpeted the field and stands. I'm not sure if it affected the Sea Dogs pitcher or not, but he fell apart in the bottom of the inning. He started off allowing a walk, then a single, then another walk to load the bases. (As this was the "Grand Slam" inning, the crowd was getting interested now.) Another single brought in two runs and left it first and second with no outs and chased the starter. Another single loaded the bases again, but a scorcher to second was caught, making it one out. A walk kept the bases loaded and brought in a run. Another single to left brought in two more runs, and then a throwing error from left let another run come in on the play and put the batter on second. Another single brought him in. Batting around now, another scorcher was caught by the shortstop for two outs, but the next batter singled, to make it first and second again. But the next batter struck out to end the half, but not before the Senators blew the game open, 8-0.

The defeated Sea Dogs went in order in the seventh and eighth. The Senators had a leadoff double in the seventh that got stranded and a hit batsman in the eighth that was also stranded. The Sea Dogs showed some life in the ninth, with a one-out single that went to second on a passed ball. The next batter walked to make it first and second, but a strikeout and groundout closed up the Senators' win.


The Scorecard:

Sea Dogs vs. Senators, 08-17-13. Senators win. 8-0.Sea Dogs vs. Senators, 08-17-13. Senators win. 8-0.
Sea Dogs vs. Senators, 08/17/13. Senators win. 8-0.

The scorecard was part of $2 program that didn't quite justify the costs. It was a magazine-sized program on good paper, but the content didn't back up the price tag. The scorecard itself was quite nice, however. It was on the two-page center spread with big boxes and only minor ads at the bottom and fully customized to the opponent. The layout was a little strange, though. Firstly, the home team was on the left side instead of the right. Secondly, they didn't have any totals columns at all, which was odd. And finally, they had separate entry lines for the date on both the home and away sides of the card. Are they imagining that the two sides would play on different days in some scenario? I can't imagine what that would be.

As far as the game went, it was pretty straightforward. I had to make a note of the mayfly infestation in the sixth, but beside that, the only thing of interest was the Sea Dog starting pitcher's line:

5 IP, 5 Hits, 5 Runs, 3 Earned Runs, 3 Walks, and 6 Ks

Gotta love AA.


The Accommodations:
Late, but Hoboken.



2013 Stand-Alone Trip