Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hickory

On Not Double-Checking

Mint Museum
At least I saw art.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Charlotte, NC


Outside the Game:
After being stuck in Charlotte for two days, I made the decision to stay another day. Kannapolis didn't have that many hotels, it was only a twenty-minute drive, and I'd be closer to where I was heading out the next day if I stayed there. The hotel was fine, I already was locked into a low rate, so I went with it.

After days of dancing around the closed Mint Museum, I decided to spend my morning there. Getting a double-pass, I was able to go to the museum downtown, as well as the actual nominal museum in the old mint north of town. Considering my only other option was the Dale Earnhardt museum and memorial near the stadium, I figured I'd go for some culture.

Mint Museum
Wood warping

The larger annex downtown had a lot of artisanal work that, as someone just starting out in woodworking, I had the faint flickering of how insane the organic forms being executed truly were. A prefer "real" craftmanship art such as this over the modern executions. It was just enough to wallow in the craftmanship. There was also an exhibit of Ansel Adams photography to make me feel really, really badly about being such a crappy photographer. It is enough to make you want to throw up your hands and quit. The annex in the actual old mint building north of downtown had more of the same in a smaller space. I went hog wild in the store.

I decided to head up to the park to pick up my tickets, and, of course, there was traffic, turning a twenty-minute drive at worst into a forty-five minute excursion. I got there just after 3 PM, and my Spidey senses were tingling. There were too many cars in the lot. The stadium gates were open and unmanned.

I still went up oblivious to try and pick up my ticket, to be informed that the game just ended. The one game that I hadn't confirmed the time on was moved to 1:05 PM “Camp Day” start on a getaway day, and the team was not going to be home for two weeks.

Well, friggin’ fabulous.

So, of course, I had to sit in traffic on the way back to the hotel, I dumped my game bag in my room, and decided to just go out to dinner and make the most of it. I immediately passed a Cracker Barrel and gave up; had my chicken, biscuits, and gravy; and went back to the hotel to sulk for the rest of the night.

And an early, failure-filled night was had. Always double-check your start times, kids.
 

The Accommodations:
I was at the Clarion Hotel Airport again. Same room, same situation. Nothing much new to report, except that the dead cockroaches in the stairwell were finally cleaned up.



On Getting Back on the Horse

L.P. Frans Stadium
L.P. Frans Stadium, 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016
Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox) vs.
Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers)
L.P. Frans Stadium
South Atlantic League (A)
Hickory, NC
7:05 PM


Outside the Game:
When I woke up, I double-check all the game data very carefully so as not avoid a repeat of the previous day. The game for today was, in fact, that night at 7 PM, and all I had to do was drive over to Hickory. I did my morning routing and got out on the road by 11 AM and drove the hour over.

I started at the stadium, and picked up my ticket and took my pictures, and then looked for something else to do for the rest of the day. As per usual, "local historical stops" won out. There is always, always, always a local museum or whatnot no matter how small the burg that I travel to, and it turned out there were two historic houses in the area, The Maple House and the Harper House. As can often happen, there appeared to be two local historical concerns that ran the places separately and didn't seem to get along too well, because whenever the stakes are the lowest, people seem to be dug in the deepest.

Harper House
Baby respirators. Anti-vaxxers want this.

The Maple House was a free, self-run tour by the "indie" historical society. It was a nice little excursion, and I remain more interested in architecture than I find seemly. After that, I went over to Harper House, maintained by the "official" historical society, with a proper tour and everything. There was a second building of an old pre-fab home next door to the Harper House, and in the basement of that was also a large exhibit on when the area was used as a polio quarantine during the last big outbreak. I spent a good deal of time there just wallowing in what the anti-vaccination crowd would like us to go back to. It is important to remember what the consequences are for such stupidity.

Speaking of stupidity, afterwards, I drove to my hotel and checked in, ready for a quick shower and nap before the game, but then my cell phone rang. This can never be a good thing. It was either my landlord, my parents, or work, and none of them would have good news. Hoping for a wrong number, I saw it was my boss, and answered, and I was informed about the latest round of layoffs at my company. The small “victory” was that it did not affect me, but it did hit my department in the stupidest way possible. I thanked my boss for the update, turned off all the lights, and sat in the dark staring at the ceiling. I may have fallen asleep or not. I'm not sure, but at some point, it was time to go to the game.

Slightly sullen, I drove to the game, parked, and then went in for the duration. I drove straight back after the game and went directly to sleep, because I was just about done with Thursday.


The Stadium & Fans:

Home to center, L.P. Frans Stadium
Home plate to center field, L.P. Frans Stadium

After a run of somewhat cookie-cutter minor league parks, L.P. Frans Stadium was a nice cracker of a refurbished old park to mix things up a bit. From the outside, it certainly had all the hallmarks of turn-of-this century construction, with a main entrance decorated with some precursory baseball statuary and a team store and ticket booth flanking a main entrance that emptied out onto a promenade. But those appearances would be deceiving. A quick walk around the park reveals the original wooden outfield walls still standing, and wooden bleachers and practice areas at the end of the outfield.

The main promenade does extend from outfield to outfield behind home plate and lead down into the single seating bowl, but it is not the same old, same old. The "luxury boxes" and press boxes are bunkers sitting on the top of the seats, not elevated above, with angled sun shades extending up from them. A second walkway extends in the seating bowl, separating the cheap from the more expensive seats below.

The wooden party deck ends the walkway in right, while the left field end of the park ends with play area, complete with a merry-go-round. Memorials, the Hall of Fame, and the "Crawdads in the Majors" are all on the promenade behind home plate, and the main scoreboard is perched nearly in dead center.

The main concessions are pleasingly retro brick bunkers serving up cafeteria food at cafeteria prices, but the Crawdads Cafe in right offers baseball-stool seating or indoors table service that ranges from overflowing diner items at decent prices to eating "challenges."

Mascot
Careful, there.

Conrad the Crawdad was the day's mascot. Extra points for difficulty, as it is hard to do anything with claws. It was a cereal-themed night, for some reason, so cereal give-aways and a "guess the cereal" contest spiced up the regular races and such. There was a pretty thin crowd for the Thursday night game. You're tempted to give points off, but there were one or two die-hards riding the opposition, as well as a family doing a K-counter, so there is a little hope on that front.


At the Game with Oogie:

Scoring
Rebound scoring

I got seats behind the third base line and behind the dreaded "extended netting." Most of the fans were families, but they were few and far between. Utterly enchanted by the little bunker concessions, I started out with a burger and soda for under $2, and then went to the Crawdad Cafe. I resisted the urge to try one of the eating dares, and just got a gaping basket of chicken wings for $5.

Grub
Honking basket of chicken fingers

I was writing up the stadium for the magazine, so I was taking copious notes. I got a lot of curious stares from the Cafe staff, but I don't think any of them could quite get up the courage to ask the weird Northerner what was going on.


The Game: 

First pitch, Intimidators vs. Crawdads
First pitch, Intimidators vs. Crawdads

This match-up between the farm teams of the Rangers and the White Sox was fixed to be about as exciting at the top teams meeting, but it ended with the home team going home happy, so I suppose that is something.

The Intimidators threatened with two singles in the first, but stranded them with strikeouts. On their side, the Crawdads started the game with a triple, brought home by a double, brought home by a one-out single, to jump to an early 2-0 lead.

Until the sixth, the Intimidators did nothing but strike out five times between the second inning and then. In the bottom of the second, some sloppy play got the Crawdads more runs. A one-out double was followed by an E6 to make it first and third. A blown pick-off throw brought in a run and got the runner on first to third, where a sacrifice fly brought him in, making it 4-0 Crawdads after two. But then the Crawdads also went fallow until the fifth.

In the bottom of that fifth inning, a one-out walk came home on a three-base error on a dropped fly in left. A homer followed, bringing in two more runs. The bases eventually were loaded again before everyone got stranded. In the top of the sixth, a two-run homer finally got the Intimidators on the board to make the score 7-2, but both offenses slowed down until the eighth. In top of that frame, a two-out Intimidator walk was driven home by a deep double to make it 7-3, but that is as close as it would get.


The Scorecard: 

Intimidators vs. Crawdads, 06-30-16. Crawdads win, 7-3.
Intimidators vs. Crawdads, 06/30/16. Crawdads win, 7-3.

The scorecard was part of the free newsprint program, but unlike most newsprint programs, this one didn't fall apart at the first hint of use and stood up to pencil writing fairly well. The card itself wasn't taken up by odd proportions or advertisements, so it was large and comfortable to use.

Outside of a bigger than average homerun count, the game was fairly conventional from a scoring standpoint. There was a 7-1-4-3-6t caught stealing in the bottom of the first, and in the bottom of the second, a blown pickoff throw to first led directly to a run and the trail runner going to third when the throw went in the dugout. A dropped fly in left field in the fifth led to two more runs. The Crawdads starter struck out eight over six strong innings, and there was a nice 5-5-3 double play in the bottom of the seventh.


The Accommodations: 

Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn

I was at the Holiday Inn in Hickory for this evening. Outside of the unpleasantness with the news in the afternoon, I can't quite complain about the rest of the stay.

The room was the standard arrangement of roomy (and slightly fancier than average) bathroom off the entrance and double queen beds in the bedroom, along with an easy chair, desk, and dresser with TV. All of the pillows were pooled to one bed for maximum pillow fort effect.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Charlotte

On Try, Trying Again

BB&T Ballpark
BB&T Ballpark, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays) vs.
Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox)
BB&T Ballpark
International League (AAA)
Charlotte, NC
6:05 PM [Doubleheader]


Outside the Game:
Having made the decision to stick it out in Charlotte another day, I spent most of the morning re-arranging my schedule and seeing what I could move to accommodate the extra day stopover. It was a thankfully productive morning, and using the free day I had baked into the schedule, I was able to sort out seeing everything I needed to for the rest of the trip.

I also decided to stay at the same hotel. A quick conversation with the front desk got me to stay over another night at the rate of the first night, so I just decided to run with that and head out into the world.

Wells Fargo Museum
A record of larseny

There was a small Wells Fargo Museum downtown that I decided to start at (and this was well before all the news of later that year broke). It was an amusing little excursion inside their corporate offices (later to be raided by the feds) that talked about their folksy start up, stagecoaches, pony express, and nothing at all about fraudulent accounts opened up to unsuspecting people. I walked around downtown and got lunch at a taco truck standing on a corner. The guy running it was a California transplant still wearing an Angels' cap. He told me where not to go downtown, and I went on my way to the Charlotte Aviation Museum, because I had time to kill.

It turned out that the main feature of the Charlotte Aviation Museum was the actual airplane from the "Miracle on the Hudson," later made into that Tom Hanks movie. This was certainly a form of kismet that I hadn't run across in a while, except that I was supposed to be in this place.

Miracle on the Hudson
Miracle Plane: Slightly Used

The exhibit was very nice, and it was just weird to come all this way to see a plane that ditched in the water a couple miles from home and work. There were two older gentlemen volunteering there who I talked with. One of them was a big baseball fan, and assured me that it wasn't going to rain tonight, and we talked shop for a bit before I headed out.

I went back to the hotel for a nap, and then drove out to same parking lot from the night before, hoping for better results. Waiting for me at the front gate was the hat guy from last night. He thought seeing me again was the funniest thing in the world, and he laughed and laughed for a good five minutes. We talked for a while until the park opened up, and we went our separate ways.

After the game, it was with a certain amount of relief that I headed back to the hotel, parked up, and got some shut eye with a game finally under my belt again.


The Stadium & Fans:

Home to center, BB&T Ballpark
Home plate to center field, BB&T Ballpark

BB&T Ballpark was in the AAA, which meant it was going to be nicer than most of the parks I'd see on this trip. It took up a downtown city block, across the street from another grass park, and you could walk the sidewalk all around the facility.

The main entrance plaza was flanked by the team store and ticket booth on top of brick fan walk, but there were additional entrances and ticket offices all around the perimeter. A display on the outfield side of the park had all the past names and logos of the teams, in addition to brick paintings of the old team logos and affiliations.

All the entrances opened up onto a main promenade that extended the total circuit of the field, emptying down into the main seating area. A second level ran from first to third base behind home plate with your requisite luxury boxes and party decks, as well as the "Budweiser Home Plate Club." The seats extended all around the park, tapering in the deepest outfield to a row of seats at a rail. Special seating areas and party decks were in the outfield corners, and the center field entrance was right by the giant digital scoreboard with smoke-spewing “Homer the Dragon” statue and a digital games area.

All the concessions ran along the main promenade--although one or two stores had entrances off the promenade in right field--and the main team store was right by the home plate entrance, and a special bar area at the top of first base.

The park was packed again for the double-header, which speaks well of the fan base, as well as perhaps a little extra juice from the rivalry between Charlotte and Durham, just down the road across the state.

Mascot
I just work here, buddy.

Homer the Dragon finally got to do his full thang, instead of trying to placate fans hiding from the downpour the previous night. As befitting their AAA status, the between-innings activities were elevated above the minor-league standards, although there plenty of races, quizzes, and skill tests to be had. The t-shirt toss was done with a gold cart dragging a trailer with a pneumatic t-shirt Gatling gun, the Knights had a "royalty" mascot race through the outfield, and there was a giant dragon on the scoreboard that blew smoke every time there was a home run by the Knights.

Of special note was the first pitch, which, swear to god, was done by a blind guy, who nailed a perfect strike. I'm not even sure where to begin the appreciation on that. A prefect strike. It was amazing. I wonder if or how long he practiced for that, and if he’d like a shot with the Metropolitans.


At the Game with Oogie: 

Scoring
Make-up scoring

The game was a packed house as the night before, but it was doubly so, as the rain-out had smooshed two days' worth of fans into one days' worth of games. My seat had moved up to the last row behind third base instead of a row or two down. There were two mothers with their kids strewn about the two rows, getting as together as possible, no doubt, after trading in tickets. Two of them and myself moved around so they could all sit together, so they were around with me for most of the game. They lasted for the first game, but went home soon after the second started.

Grub
More meatloaf

I grabbed a hot dog and drink before the first game, but between games, I headed back to the meatloaf stand again to get my fix. They remembered me from the night before, and said I'd get something "special." I'm not sure what that turned out to be, but I got a meatloaf sandwich, which is all I really wanted.

I also ran into the concession guy from the night before who recognized me. Between all that, and hat guy at the gate, it was a big old reunion at the park.


The Game (#1):

First pitch, Bulls vs. Knights
First pitch, Bulls vs. Knights

This was a stand-off of cross-state rivals who were both just on the unhappy side of .500. The first game looked to be all Bulls, but the Knights pulled it out in the end with a big inning.

Durham started the first with two four straight one-out singles to jump out to a 1-0 lead, while the Knights went in order. The Bulls started the second with a lead-off homer to extend it to 2-0, while the Knights went in order again. Both teams had one hit to show for the third, but then the Bulls went to work again. In the top of the fourth, a single, one through the wickets on the shortstop, and two more singles got home another run, making it 3-0, Durham. Charlotte threatened in the bottom of the inning, with back-to-back, one-out singles, and a two-out walk to load them up, but they stranded everyone with a grounder to second.

The Bulls started the fifth with another lead-off homer to make it 4-0, and it looked to be over, but the Knights finally got in gear in the bottom half of the inning. A leadoff homer got them on the board, then three straight one-out singles loaded the bases. A strikeout rose the Bulls’ hopes of getting out of the inning, but a two-out shot to dead center rocketed out of the park for a grand slam, making it 5-4, Charlotte.

And that was pretty much it, as both teams combined for a single and a walk the rest of the way, ending at 5-4 after seven and a half.


The Game (#2):

First pitch, Bulls vs. Knights
First pitch, Bulls vs. Knights

Whether the Bulls were roused by their late-inning collapse with the previous game, or Charlotte just got tired as the night went on, the second contest was over pretty quickly.

The Bulls started the game with a leadoff homer to right-center, while the Knights only also had one hit in their half of the inning--but it was a single and not a dinger. Durham led off the second with another homer, and then had a one-out single, walk, and two singles to bring in two more runs, making it 4-0, Bulls. The Knights went in order in the bottom of the second and third, and while the Bulls only threatened in the third with a second and third and two outs, but they couldn't bring anyone across.

The fourth inning flipped the script for a time, as the Bulls finally went in order, while the Knights led off with a double a walk and another double to bring in two runs to close the lead to 4-2, before going in order. The comeback lasted a half inning, as the Bulls clocked a one-out, two-on homer to dead center to bring in three more runs and run it out to 7-2, Bulls.

With the exception of a two-out double in the top of the seventh, both teams went in order for the remainder of the game, splitting the double-bill with a 7-2 Bulls victory in the second game.


The Scorecard(s):

Bulls vs. Knights, Game 1, 06-28-16. Knights win, 5-4.
Bulls vs. Knights, Game 1, 06/28/16. Knights win, 5-4.

The scorecards were full-page photocopies with the lineups already added in. There was no wasted logo or advertising space, so they were incredibly spacious and easy-to-use. In looking at them after the fact, it is amazing how neat these were.

Bulls vs. Knights, Game 2, 06-28-16. Bulls win, 7-2.
Bulls vs. Knights, Game 2, 06/28/16. Bulls win, 7-2.

Both games were seven innings, thanks to the minor-league double-header rules. The first game was pretty straightforward, with two exceptions. In the top of the first, there was a caught stealing 6-4 after the runner over-ran second base on a single and couldn't get back in time, and the third single in the bottom of the fifth was out of the right fielder's glove and into the wall, yet scored a hit. There was the grand salami that same inning, with all of the runs earned, thanks to that. Nothing much to it beyond that. The Bulls pitcher went the distance (seven, in this case) and got the loss.

The second game was similarly uneventful from a scoring standpoint. There were twice as many pitchers used as in the first game (8 vs 4), and despite the score, not a ton of offense. Seven half-innings went in order, and I think the teams really just wanted to get some sleep at that point.

The Accommodations:
I stayed over at the Clarion Hotel Airport to help organize my efforts. Same, room, same everything.



2016 The Carolinas

Monday, June 27, 2016

Charlotte [Rain Out]

On Dampness

Rain
Some inclement weather

Monday, June 27, 2016
Charlotte, NC

Outside the Game:
I headed out early on Monday to get the two-hour drive to Charlotte out of the way. I assumed that there would be something to do for the afternoon in Charlotte, but it turns out that most of the museums were closed on Mondays. Undaunted, I parked on the street in downtown and decided to suss out what I could.

Bechlet Museum
The museum is the art

The Bechtlet Museum of Modern Art was open, so despite my predilections against the subject, I decided to take a gander to kill some time. For the most part, it was modern art, which was disappointing, but there was an exhibit on modern functionist furniture as well as sculptor Alberto Giacometti that made the excursion worthwhile.
I found myself out in late lunchtime, so I took a walk around downtown and grabbed a sandwich at a local sub joint. On the way back to my car, I found a St. Peter's church, which was just amusing enough for me to spend a little time in their garden. I then went out to my hotel by the airport to settle in and grab a shower and nap, as per custom in this humid world I was traveling in.

BB&T Ballpark
BB&T Ballpark

There was no on-street parking available at the park, so I had to go into a lot down the street. I killed some time in the large park across the street from the stadium and then went to stand in line. There was an older black man already in line, wearing the kind of floppy hat that my uncle used to wear to annoy my mother, so I immediately liked him. We got to talking, and he was out enjoying a ballgame while his wife's sister was in town. He was of the opinion that they didn't need him there to talk to each other all night and ignore him. The logic was quite sound. The gates opened, and we went on our separate ways.

Grub
A meatloaf sandwich fixes most things

In the process of my walking around and pictures, I found that there was a meatloaf sandwich concession, so I obviously got a meatloaf sandwich.

But before the game could get started, I was rousted from my seat on the first-base side by rain that hit just as the tarp went out on the field.

Rain
Sad panda

And it rained and rained on the good-sized crowd, who were now huddled below most of the overhangs the park had to offer. I got hot dog after a while, and struck up a conversation with a home-plat concession guy for lack of anything better to do.

But the rain eventually kept coming, and the game was called before a pitch was thrown.

Such is the South in late June.

The drive back to the hotel was rainy and depressing, as can be imagined. I went to bed pretty early and decided to figure out what to do the next morning.


The Accommodations:

Clarion Hotel Airport
Clarion Hotel Airport

A moment needs to be spent on the Southern head nod. You find the head nod in the North as well, but it is ever-present in the South. It is not just a no-contact greeting, it is a contract that everything is going to be okay. No two people head nod to each other and then get into a fight. It is a promise of civility.

I had been tracking my exposure to it with interest for the duration of this trip, but it came into focus this afternoon when I was checking into the Clarion Hotel Airport. As I was going to my room, the room across the hall from me was populated by several college-aged kids who were being loud and rowdy on the way to the room. I was getting a little concerned, but as I went into the room, the ringleader gave me a nod, and I gave him a nod, and I knew it was going to be okay. And it was. And there's something beautiful in that.

The Clarion was part of two hotel complex that was next to the airport convention center, and it was interesting in being something trapped in the 70s, but desperately trying to be renovated into something more modern. If you passed through the hallway connecting the hotels, you entered into the big area that used to be a pool and a restaurant, but was now re-made as neither thing. There were still cabanas and tables, and you could still see the outlines of the pool area, but it was all covered in AstroTurf in a way that was both horrific and beautiful at the same time. Horrifically beautiful, if you will.

I took the stairway up to my room on the second floor, and the door to the stairs was not quite full height. And there were dead cockroaches in the hallway. There were a lot of weird little anachronisms like that in the place. I can't say whether I was attracted or repulsed by them. The restaurant in the adjoining hotel, for example, was long folding tables covered in cheap table cloths and served from... somewhere... in a way that I was fascinated by, but not enough to actually eat there.

My room was nice enough. There was the standard bathroom off the side, and the king-sized bed across from a desk, dresser, and TV. It would serve for a lot longer than I intended, but I can't really complain. I remain curiously ambivalent about the entire experience.


 
2016 The Carolinas

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Asheville


On Southern Fried People

McCormick Field
McCormick Field, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016
West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates) vs.
Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies)
McCormick Field
South Atlantic League (A)
Asheville, NC
2:00 PM


Outside the Game: 
I had an afternoon game this day, but thankfully at 2 PM and not noon. So, I was able to have a relatively reasonable morning of breakfast and packing before setting out on the two-and-a-half hour drive to Asheville. As I had the entire evening at the hotel, I made a snap decision to splurge on a Homewood Suites hotel with a full kitchen and make some dinner, because, why not?

I drove out to the park to get my ticket and take my pictures, and then had just enough time to go to my hotel and drop off all my bags and head back out to the game. The old stadium had a semi-residential locale at the top of the hill, but I got there early enough to utilize a street spot by the entrance. I don't know if it gained me anything; I just enjoyed that experience.

At a little before five, I was heading back to the hotel. As I had all night ahead of me, nothing was really open on a Sunday afternoon, and I had this nice kitchen in my room, so I walked to a nearby supermarket, hopping from patches of shade to shade, to buy some pasta and such and went back to the hotel in the sunset.

I'm not sure why the idea occurred to me, but it was far more enjoyable than I had even anticipated to cook for real for a night on the road. I made up some tolerably good pasta (with canned sauce, but what can you do) with a tiny bottle of wine from the hotel shop, and settled in to watch Game of Thrones and prove out my scorecard.

I've had worse nights.


The Stadium & Fans: 

Home to center, McCormick Field
Home plate to center field, McCormick Field

Once again, when you put "historic" right in the name of the stadium, you know what you're getting into. "Historic McCormick Field" has been around since the 20s. (Babe Ruth sang its praises during his off-season barnstorming.) It is built into the side of a hill, facing out into the tree-covered rise that is a suitably bucolic an experience for baseball. The team name "Tourists" refers to the number of actual tourists that came to Asheville to enjoy the scenic beauty, and presumably the ballclub.

The main and only entrance (excepting for the staff entrance near the parking lot not open to the public) is at the top of a steep road from the main thoroughfare. An archway leads into a small plaza where the ticket booth and the team store reside. Many older renovated parks expand out instead of up, but the particular geography at work hasn't allowed that to happen.

There is an outer walkway that extends from outfield to outfield behind home plate. All of the concessions, stores, and party areas are all on this circuit, with regular breaks in the masonry of the seating area with stairs up to the seating bowl. Once out into the seating area, a smaller walk runs through the seating bowl, separating out the box seats from the regular seats. The small press box sits at the top of the seats behind home plate, underneath the awning extending out to save people from the fiery sun.

Old style clapboard advertisements are all along the outfield wall, with a small digital scoreboard sitting in right field. In another nod to Durham, there is a "hit sign, free subs for everyone" sign, as well as a more unconventional "hit white duck, win taco" sign nearby. Sadly, the close confines of the old seats to the field require the entire seating area be covered in netting. Both ends of the seating end in special party clubs where you can sit next to the bullpens from either team.
The Tourists have two mascots, Ted (the bear) and Mr. Moon, who (as promised) is a giant anthropomorphic moon head wearing sunglasses. It makes its own sense. The regular array of races and contests were on offer between innings, though the mascots were probably taking it at half speed to avoid sunstroke.

There was a decent crowd for a hot Sunday afternoon game, and it was a lot of families, but it was pretty obvious that this was a baseball town and they were watching the game for more than general entertainment purposes.


At the Game with Oogie:

Scoring
Hot scoring

 I was desperate for lunch when I got inside, so I ended up get a hot dog meal, including a big-old hot dog, fries, and souvenir soda, for whatever ridiculous amount of money it was.

Given the really old stadiums don't generally have a wide variety of seating options, I ended up about two rows back from first base in what passed for the super-fancy area. It had in-seat service from a local buzz-cut college girl that I mostly used to ferry me a never-ending stream of beverages to keep me from melting in the afternoon heat.
Just in front of me was a local fan who was really into the team. She knew all the players by name and cheered them on loudly, and she razzed all the opposing players loudly. Needless to say, you see where I'm going with all this. She was a hoot, and she made the afternoon go a little more cool. She made fun of my elaborate sun protection wear, telling me that I was never going to hide from this heat, as she sat in her shorts and tank top without a care in the world. Frankly, she was more qualified than myself to judge.


The Game: 

First pitch, Power vs. Torusits
First pitch, Power vs. Tourists

This was a Sunday afternoon scorcher in the middle of summer, and it was hot as all get-out for this game. No, really. Check my scorecard. Under "Weather:", I wrote "HOT." The game was over in two hours and fifty minutes, and I can only imagine a little bit of that is both teams wanted to hit the showers as soon as possible.

The Power went in order in the top of the first, but the Tourists decided to go a different route, starting the game with a bunt single and a double that didn't get the runner from first in. A grounder to second scored him and moved the runners up, but a strikeout threatened to end the scoring until the next batter singled clean to center to bring in another run, leaving it 2-0, Asheville at the end of one. West Virginia tried a little harder in the second, with a leadoff single bunted to second, but there he was stranded.

Asheville didn't score in the bottom of the second, and it is still hard to work out how. The half began with a double to left-center. A fly out to deep right got the lead runner to third with one out. A walk made it first and third. A grounder to first got pegged home to stop the run but concede the runner to load the bases with one out. But then a weak pop to short made it two outs, and the next batter struck out swinging--but the catcher dropped it. He had the wherewithal to tag the plate, but that was some Metropolitan-level of not scoring right there. Both teams went in order in the third, but the Power finally showed some pep in the fourth. A one-out walk was followed by a towering homer to dead center to tie up the game 2-2. The Tourists went in order.

The fifth was a scoring frame for the Power, as a one-out double and single made it first and third. A sacrifice fly to left scored the runner from third, but the runner from first went to third on throw without touching second and lost the race back to the bag. The Toursits manufactured a run in the bottom of the inning on a leadoff double, a fielder's choice to second, and a single to right, leaving us knotted at 3-3 after 5.

Both teams had a player hit a double and steal third and get stranded in the sixth, which is nice for symmetry, but not scoring. The Power broke the tie in the seventh with a two-out single followed by a homer run, to take the lead 5-3, while the Tourists went in order. Both teams had symmetry again in the eighth with runner on first and second who made it no further.

In the ninth, the Power tacked on one more run with a leadoff single, a fielder's choice to second, and another single, while the Tourists went in order, leaving the final tally 6-3, Power.


The Scorecard: 

Power vs. Tourists, 06-26-16. Power win, 6-3.Power vs. Tourists, 06-26-16. Power win, 6-3.
Power vs. Tourists, 06/26/16. Power win, 6-3.

The scorecard was a double-sided photocopy separate from the free newsprint, full-tabloid program. It was about average all-around, to be honest, although the Tourists didn't pre-print the lineups.

Scoring-wise, there were a couple of items worth mention. In the bottom of the first, the Tourists first baseman got a double that was his 100th hit of the year, and important enough to warrant an announcement on the PA. In the wild bottom of the second, there was a fielder's choice to the first baseman who threw home instead of tagging first to cut off the run, and that same inning ended on a dropped strikeout with the bases loaded that wasn't over until the catcher saw fit to tag the plate. And there was a good-olde CS 7-1-6 in the top of the fifth, as a runner advanced to second on a sacrifice fly, made it to third on the throw home, and then the alert shortstop called for the ball because he noticed the runner didn't touch second. The throw made it back before the runner, who was called out. I can still hear the manager yelling at him now...

Other than the wild bottom of the seventh described above, it was mostly straightforward.


The Accommodations: 

Homewood Suites by Hilton
Homewood Suites by Hitlton

I was the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Asheville. Asheville is apparently quite a frou-frou town, with arts and renovated downtowns and the like. It was all closed on Sunday evening, though, so I just decided to stay someplace nice.

I had managed, again, to somehow get a handicapped-accessible room. Everything was a little lower than expected, but it didn't really affect me any. The full kitchen with the dinette table was just off the entrance to the room, and connected with the living room, with couches and chairs and TV and entertainment center.

The separate bedroom was through the doorway, with a king-plus bed, and end tables, and desks, and dressers, and another TV, just in case. The huge bathroom was perhaps even more spacious due to the handicapped access.

Needless to say, it was an acceptable time to spend an extended evening in a very civilized manner.



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