Saturday, June 30, 2018

Myrtle Beach

On Getting It In Two Field Field, 2018
Saturday, June 30, 2018
Potomac Nationals (Washington Nationals) vs.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Chicago Cubs) Field
Carolina League (A+)
Myrtle Beach, SC
6:05 PM

Outside the Game:
I got woken up early in the morning by a terrific thunderstorm that was passing through the area, blasting lighting and thunder through the early morning. What a great start to the day.

I got back to sleep as best as possible and then had a quick breakfast and packed up. I checked out and drove down to catch the 10:30 AM tour boat for Fort Sumter. Thanks to some construction, I managed to pull up the parking lot at Patriot's Point just as the ferry was pulling away, so I gave up on that idea for some reason and decided to drive straight up to Myrtle Beach.

The drive up was fine, but slow in places thanks to the two-lane road, but I got up to Myrtle Beach at about 12:30 PM and went straight to the stadium. I picked up my will-call ticket, took my outside pictures, and figured out what to do with the afternoon. I had no hotel to stay at, as I was going to do at least part of the drive to Rome after the game and had picked a place about three hours out.

"Broadway by the Beach" was literally across the street from the park, so I decided to partake in the cheesy again. I started off at the Hollywood Wax Museum at the end of the road, because why not? The hook for this one was that it had "Hollywood props" with the models that you could use in your pictures with the statues, as well as a zombie game "interactive movie" at the end that I didn't spring for, for some reason.

A lot of the wax models were really bad to the point that I had to check the displays to see who they were supposed to be. A 50’s tableau was particularly awful, with a Marylin Monroe with visible arm joints, and a Humphry Bogart that looked on the verge of suicide. A Jason Voorhees statue looked less intimidating than filled with ennui. But it was all cheesy fun. They even had a game called "The Vault," where you had to navigate through a room of laser traps. Even the "easy" setting was very hard. I had no idea how the "impossible" setting was even, well, possible.

Hollywood Wax Musem
What if killing is what is making me sad?

A Frank Sinatra area had a fake scotch and piano for you to sit with him, and country music stars had guitars and the like. Indiana Jones had a holy grail. Etc. There was even an original-series Star Trek section, with Bones working the transporter (for some reason) on Kirk and Spock, with an open pad for you. There were some really worn out communicator and phaser props, but the story of this display was the fact that all the models had extremely visible nipples. The Captain's high beams were on. It was very uncomfortable.

After my fill of the wax museum, I went into the full Broadway by the Beach area and grabbed a map, and quickly went inside to grab some lunch, as it was ten-thousand degrees out. I don't remember much about lunch, except one of the ESPNs (one presumes, The Ocho) was showing professional corn hole. I'll never forget that. We spit in the face of god.

In the face of the heat, I went into a nearby Dave & Busters, where they had a coupon for $20 for $20, so I loaded up a card and went to town. Outside of the really disturbing vision of a teen in a MAGA hat, I had fun goofing around for a time, eventually earning enough tokens for a medium stuffed animal and some plastic vampire teeth.

I walked around at the boardwalk a little more before going to my car, which I had thankfully parked in the shade, turning on the AC, and taking a nap to get me through the rest of the evening. Suitably refreshed, I went across the street to the ballpark, parked up, and went in as the gates opened.

It was a mercifully short game thanks to the 6 PM start, and I was out around 9 PM and heading out before the fireworks got started. Driving hard once I got to the interstate, I eventually reached my hotel for the evening without incident around a quarter to one. I blearily bantered with the neckbeard at the front desk before asking for a late checkout and getting my key.

I marched to my room (thankfully already air conditioned) where I organized all my stuff, grabbed a shower, and then went directly to sleep.

The Stadium & Fans:
Home to center at Field
Home Plate to Center Field, Field

Outside of the crappy name, Field is a nice enough park, nestled in the beach entertainment district in Myrtle Beach. The outside is a little generic, with brick columns rising through the metal structural work. Around the base of the stadium, several entrances ring the park, along with the executive offices, the team store, and ticket booths. The kids’ area in right field is open to the public before the game and then accessible from the park during the game.

All the entrances dump out onto an exterior promenade that almost encircles the stadium from right field to left-center field and hooks up with the walkway through the seating bowl at the end of the grandstand at first and third base. Two sections of seating are in the grandstand, with box seats by the field and regular seats above, split by the seating walkway. There is an additional set of bleachers in left-center field, by the main digital scoreboard. A generic green batter's eye is slightly down the way from them, all above the single-deck of green outfield wall, mostly covered in local ads and backing the trees that lurk beyond the field. There is a "hit it here" sign for $100,000 in left-center near the main scoreboard.

The press box, retired numbers, Harry Carray tribute, and the row of luxury boxes runs along the second level of the grandstand above the seats. In left field, there was a "Tito's Beach" area with beach chairs and sand, while in right there was The Clarke and Addison Grille plaza, along with brick ballpark in Grissom Plaza. Left field also had the Tiretown Terrace party area, there was a party deck in right as well, and the "Bullpen Experience" seats at the very end of right field, surprisingly enough by the home bullpen. There were other specialty concessions by the right field entrance, and a Road to the Show in the promenade in right, while the Pelicans’ starting lineups for each year were on banners around the home plate part of the promenade.

I'd nap in the AC if I could, too

Deuce the dog brings out extra balls to the umpires at points during the game and can often be caught napping away from the heat in the team store before the game. Splash the Pelican and Rally the Shark also make the rounds before and during the game, leading the regulation minor-league games, contests, and activities between innings. The crowd, especially for a Saturday game and especially after the fight I had to get for a ticket last year, was pretty small, though they were into things, at least.

Rally and Splash

At the Game with Oogie: 
Bojangles coupon
Winner, winner, Chicken... fries

 It was a stupid hot South Carolina night, even at the beach, and the hot drained all the hungry out of me. I didn't get anything at all to eat, but I did buy Gatorade after Gatorade to keep me from passing out as I was going around.

I was already familiar with the park after the extended rain delay last year, so I knew where I was going, and I kept drinking fluids while I did it. My seats were in the first section by the field, just at the end of the home dugout on the first-base side. There were a couple of old guys in front of me, and an old couple next to me, and the husband was also a scorer. The real story was the guy behind me, who would not shut up. He kept talking the entire game to everyone, and when there was no one left to talk to, he called people on his phone and talked loudly to them. He was telling everyone how he knows a big baseball coach in the area and was bragging how one of the players used to play for his friend. And on, and on, and on. The best part was when he started to complain about Atlanta, where he had previously lived before he moved out here, but, you know, his girlfriend still lives out there. (Did he mention he had a girlfriend?) And then he went into all sort of coded racist talk about how he didn't like how Atlanta had "evolved," and all the "new residents," and the "quality of people." Fantastic.

There was a kid who showed up a little after the game started and sat down with his family for about literally a minute before a foul ball came over the netting and whacked him in the arm. The little soldier (who was at least 14) started bawling and promptly left. So how did you enjoy the game, sport?

The big irony of the night was that it was Rutgers Alumni night at the park. I can't escape Jersey even all the way down here.

The sun was still baking down on my area of seats for the first part of the game, so I resorted to the desert hat until around the third inning, when I was finally, gloriously enveloped in the shade.

The Game:
First pitch, Nationals vs. Pelicans
First pitch, Nationals vs. Pelicans

The visiting Potomac Nationals and the home Myrtle Beach Pelicans faced off in this Carolina League clash, and for once in a couple of games, there were some runs scored and a home team victory.

The Nationals came out swinging, loading the bases with two outs in the top of the first, but a strikeout ended the threat. Not to be outdone, Myrtle Beach turned in a run with a one-out single and two-out double, staking them to the early, 1-0 lead. Potomac had only a two-out walk to show for the second, while the Pelicans stranded a one-out single. Both sides went quietly in order in the third.

In the top of the fourth, the Nationals scattered two hits, while Myrtle Beach one-upped them when a two-out strikeout reached first on a passed ball, stole second, and then was driven in with a single to extend the home lead to 2-0. The fifth went quickly, with Potomac just having a walk and the Pelicans going in order. Both sided again went in order in the sixth.

The Nationals got on the board with a one-out homer to left in the top of the seventh, but Myrtle Beach got some more runs in their half, starting with a one-out bunt single. A triple brought him in, and then a ground-out to short got him home as well, and the lead was now at 4-1. Both sides went in order in the eighth, and out of fight, Potomac also went in order in the ninth, securing the Pelicans 4-1 victory.

The Scorecard:
Nationals vs. Pelicans, 06-30-18. Pelicans win, 4-1.
Nationals vs. Pelicans, 06/30/18. Pelicans win, 4-1.

The scorecard was part of the free, half-tabloid program given away at the entrance to the park. The covers were full-color magazine, but the interior pages were black and white on heavy cardstock, which included the centerfold scorecard. About 3/4th of the spread was taken up by the scorecard, and the rest was ads, and it was on a white background, which left some space for notes. There were plenty of batting lines and space for replacements, but there were no pitching lines. (I used some of the extra batting lines to fill in the pitchers.) Each batting line ended with summary stats, which also doubled as extra innings, and each innings column ended with cumulative runs and hits for the frame. The scoring boxes were a little small, but had no pre-printed diamonds, which made it okay for scoring, and the paper was quite good for pencil writing.

From a scoring standpoint, it started with a couple of minor league standards, as there was a "Circle K" batter, who did strike out, getting free Bojangles fries for everyone in the winning section. There was one golden sombrero on the Nationals, who got his little hat. There was only one play of note, in the bottom of the fourth. What would have been an inning-ending strikeout turned into reaching on a passed ball. When the next batter was up, there was a very close balk call that did not get made in an attempt to pick off the runner that lead to a lengthy discussion with the home manager that was worthy of my note. He did not get chased, however.

The Accommodations: 
Woodspring Suites, Lexington, SC
Wood Spring Suites, Lexington, SC

I was staying in the WoodSpring Suites in Lexington, for no other reason than it was conveniently located several hours into the drive to Rome. I obviously didn't need a suite, but it was the cheapest hotel just off the highway.

Thankfully, it was just for a night, because the place was a little depressing. It wasn't dirty, and it wasn't like the facilities weren't as advertised, it was just that the place had the empty vibe of a post-divorce bachelor pad. The kitchen at the entrance was functional, but bare-boned, in fake wood paneling and off-white. The dresser with the TV and the desk next to it were fine, but the bulletin board with the hotel ad in the center was stark, as was the wire railing that was the only place to hang up your clothes.

The bathroom next to the kitchen was functional, but in the same bland fake wood and off-white color scheme. The bed across from the dresser was similarly stark, with an end table next to it, a small piece of hotel art above it, and nothing else in the area.

For what little time I spent there, it did do the job, however. Sort of.

2018 East Coast Leftovers

Friday, June 29, 2018


On Inadvertently Seeing All the Yankees Franchises

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park
Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, 2018
Friday, June 29, 2018
Rome Braves (Atlanta Braves) vs.
Charleston RiverDogs (New York Yankees)
Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park
South Atlantic League (A)
Charleston, SC
7:05 PM

Outside the Game:
Despite my best efforts, I woke up at 6 AM the next day/later that day. I grabbed breakfast, did some planning for my hotel, grabbed a shower, packed up, and then went back to sleep until just before my late checkout at noon.

I packed up the car and headed back out onto the road. The gas station right by my hotel was also on the pull-off from 95 and had a line, so I gave up there, got on 95, and started driving south. About an hour into the drive, I pulled off again and filled up my tank with about an hour to go to my destination.

The road eventually petered out to two lanes, and the last part was marred by two truckers that took turns passing each other very, very slowly and backing up traffic for--no kidding around--at least a half mile. Some guy eventually cracked and got up behind the truck and just leaned on his horn for five minutes until he completed his pass more quickly, and then the backed-up traffic burst through the free lane hole in the damn and sprinted off to freedom.

I eventually got to Charleston around two o'clock and was able to check into my room a little early. I dropped off my bags, unpacked a little, and then headed out to "Patriot's Point," where there was the USS Yorktown and the ferry to Fort Sumter. The drive was okay, but there were some shaky bits on one of the bridges where the GPS lost coherence with reality again, but I managed to make it to the parking lot with no problems.

USS Yorktown
USS Yorktown at "Patriot's Point"

I was just in time for the last ferry out to Fort Sumter, but the last ferry back wouldn't dock until 5:30 PM, cutting it pretty close for the game. I decided to try again for the first ferry tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM and see the ships today. I paid my way in and headed out to the aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown. It was a hot and miserable day, and I nearly wilted walking across the large bridge to get to the ship, let alone going inside the metal monster itself. It really put into perspective what the crew had to go through when this thing was in the tropics. I can't even imagine.

The ship was broken into several "tours" that you could go on, such as "The Space Program," "WWII," "Engineering," "The Bridge," etc. I walked around to them all. The engine room was particularly eye-opening on how hot it was at dock in South Carolina, forget about with the generators on in the Pacific. Though, there were a couple of areas that had air conditioning added for events and in small museum spaces. I joked with one of the veteran volunteers on the ship that I thought it would be much hotter on the ship, but it couldn't have been that bad with the AC. Thankfully, he got the joke.

The whole thing was pretty impressive just form the standpoint of what was technologically possible to build in the 40s, with this literal city on the sea that stayed in service well into the 70s. It was also clear how much maintenance it required. Out on the open flight deck, there was a lot of obvious and visible rust that would not have been allowed in its working days. It is astounding to think of the effort necessary to keep this thing, uh, ship-shape.

After my fill of the ship, I forwent the sister destroyer berthed nearby and the submarine was undergoing repair work, so I went to "The Viet Nam Experience," or I as I called it, "The Flashback Machine."

The Viet Nam Experience
The Flashback Machine

Now, granted, there were a ton of warning signs at the entrance to the exhibition to that effect, but it was frankly as if this thing was designed to provoke such flashbacks. You go through an initial building with some displays, and then you walk to Viet Nam era equipment and buildings from US bases. Where it goes really wrong is that there is a part that recreates repelling a Viet Cong attack, with sounds of gun and ordinance fire and yelling and the like that can't help but provoke a flashback in those susceptible.

I went back to the gift shop and bought my usual nick-knacks. I was a bit disappointed because they had an assortment of disabled grenades available for sale that I had no way of getting home. If I shipped them, my package would get confiscated, and if I took them in my luggage, well, you know...

I made the drive back to the hotel, just hitting a little traffic and dealing with GPS problems on the bridge again. I dumped off all non-baseball stuff, grabbed my game bag, and headed back to the stadium.

Except that my GPS didn't just have problems in Charleston with the bridge. It had problems with the area by the stadium. I'm not sure what happened, but it turned me around and had me out towards Patriot's Point again, where I had to turn around and deal with it not knowing where the bridge was. Once I was back downtown, I picked a direction and drove on the surface roads to get me away from any onramps that the GPS could take me on, figured out what direction I had to go in, and then just kept going in that direction. As I got closer to where the stadium was supposed to be, I got more and more worried, because I could see no signs of a stadium.

But I just kept going to where I knew the stadium had to be, and eventually, a lighting rig appeared in the distance. A little more driving got me to the stadium just before the gates were set to open. I jumped in one of the $5 parking lots shared with the college across the road and scrambled to get my outside pictures and pick up my ticket at will call. I finished up just as the first surge of people cleared up and I was on my way.

After the relatively quick game, I was off and back to the hotel before the fireworks with no GPS problems. I grabbed a shower, packed up, and double-checked my itinerary for the next couple of days. I worked out where two hours out was going to be the next night and booked my hotel, and then went to bed early to make up for the night before.

The Stadium & Fans:
Home to center at "The Joe"
Home plate to center field, "The Joe"

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, pitched as "The Joe" by the RiverDogs, is named for the mayor that helped get it built in the 90s. And as part of that renaissance of minor league parks in that period, it is filled with the signatures of that period: brick construction, downtown location, and overstuffed interiors.

The outside of the park is all brick, with pictures of old-time baseball in Charleston in little reliefs along the surface. The main home-plate gate is at the base of a stairwell that leads up to the promenade, but other entrances have stairs or ramps up to the top level. The main ticket booth is by the front entrance, while the Will Call booth is next to the first base entrance at the top of a flight of stairs. The main stadium facade is flanked by giant blow-ups of the two mascots, Charles and Chelsea, and there is a giant blow-up of Charles' mouth you can walk through to get the entrance.

Either way you get in, you end up on the main promenade that goes around the outside of the park from center field to left field and holds most of the concessions, stores, and other entertainments. An interior walkway splits up the seating from the box seats by the field and is accessible via intermittent ramps from the promenade and at the end of the grandstand at the first- and third-base side.

The seating bowl runs from third base to first base around home plate, covered in the top rows by an overhang that goes most of its length. A lower level of seating goes out into left field, but in right field, it is replaced by "Shoeless Joe's Hill," a padded picnic hill. The press box and luxury boxes are at the top of the area behind home plate. Third base seats are topped with a party deck, and first base with the Ashley View Pub. Party decks are also at the end of each grandstand, and left field has a special concession stand area.

The “Mystery Box” is on the promenade behind third base, along with a giant bat. Height charts with famous former players are along the supports in the center field promenade, overlooking the strangely pretty swamp beyond the center field wall. There are two main digital boards in right-center and an auxiliary board in left center, both against the backdrop of trees that frames the outfield over the single-deck outfield wall covered in local ads.

There's a ton of memorials in the place, from the inevitable John Henry Moss plaque at a SALly League Park, the stadium dedication, a memorial for a local All-Star team, the SALly Hall of Fame, Charlestoners in the Hall of Fame, the Charleston Hall of Fame, RiverDogs who made it to the majors, giant decals of former players now with the Yankee in the stadium walkways, Local Baseball Players of the Year, Local Softball Players of the Year, the Scouts Hall of Fame, Citadel Baseball Championships, memorials for the silly string world record and correctly predicting the election, and cut-out photos of the mascots and the former mayor. Plus, two retired numbers are on the batter's eye in center. Whew.

Charles and Chelsea

Charles and Chelsea and the human fun team run the events between innings, which are the regular minor league contests, quizzes, and races. The place was generally packed for the Friday-night game, and people were paying attention the baseball as well as the between-innings goofiness.

At the Game with Oogie:
Bacon Dog
Bacon Dog

After my adventure getting to the stadium, I relaxed as soon as I was inside, helped along by the bubble machines they had at the entrance. There was much more to this stadium than most on this trip, so I took my time going around the park and taking my pictures. At the back of the park, I stopped at a specialty hot dog stand to get a bacon dog. The guy asked if I had been there before and suggested one of the hot dogs that I had to reject on the basis that it would kill me (as it had shredded lobster in it). I also grabbed a corn dogs and fires and a souvenir drink later on, as well as two Gatorades for the duration of the game.

I wandered out and found myself in the area behind home just down the first base line. A Hawaiian-shirted usher told me I was in the seat-service area, which did me precious good now. I went back up and out to hit the team store, and on the way back, I was waylaid by another Hawaiian-shirted usher who identified me as being from out of town and asked me to sign his guest book. It turned out he was originally from New Jersey as well.

I then settled into my seat, where there was a group of tie-died RiverDogs fans to my left and some leather-wearing biker to my right. There was no one in the rows ahead of me.

As the game went on, the usher talked to me about if I knew what happened if the game went to extra innings, as the minor leagues had just adopted the international extra-innings rules. We both bemoaned the change, but thankfully, it did not come to that, although it was close.

As I was out of practice, I managed to leave my souvenir soda glass in my seat, but I was quickly able to find one at the top of a garbage and wash it out before the trip back to the hotel.

The Game:
First pitch
First pitch, Braves vs. RiverDogs

To say this game between the visiting Rome Braves and the home Charleston RiverDogs moved along at a clip is an understatement, with a one-run margin determining the outcome of the brief contest.

Both sides started off by going in order in the first. The Braves scattered some two-out singles before stranding them in the second, but Charleston again went in order. Both sides also went in order in the third, although the RiverDogs had a one-out single that was erased trying to steal.

Rome had a solitary single in the top of the fourth, while Charleston made the least of their opportunities, with three singles and no runs to show for it thanks to a double-play. The Braves went in order in the fifth, and the RiverDogs only had a single for the bottom of the inning. Rome again just had a single in the top of the sixth, while Charleston left an error and a single on-base to no effect.

The Braves had a walk and single in the seventh, and Charleston went in order despite a single thanks to another double-play. Scoring finally happened in the eighth when Rome had a leadoff double brought in by a single, staking them, finally, to a 1-0 lead. The RiverDogs went in order. The Braves sacrificed a leadoff single in the ninth over to second but left him there. In their last licks, Charleston had a leadoff walk and one-out error by the third baseman to leave it first and second with one out, but two strikeouts closed out the Braves' 1-0 road win.

The Scorecard:
Braves vs. RiverDogs, 06-29-18. Braves win, 1-0.Braves vs. RiverDogs, 06-29-18. Braves win, 1-0.
Braves vs. RiverDogs, 06/29/18. Braves win, 1-0.

This $1 scorecard was the wonder of the trip. In having experienced perhaps the worst scorecard in professional baseball with the Black Bears, I had one of the best with the RiverDogs. The oversize tabloid cardstock bi-fold was big, and the entire inside of the centerfold was only scorecard. And this was good, because this was essentially a broadcast scorecard, with defensive alignments, cumulative stats, etc., that you just don't see. And it was printed on white, to leave plenty of space for notes, but there was a dedicated noted section as well.

The card starts with line scores at the very top left, and a scoreboard tally on the right, next to a placement map for the umpires. Underneath that on the left was a compressed line score, with areas for winning pitcher, losing pitcher, and save, above cumulative game stats. This was next to the defensive aligned map and the standings for the league. On the right, it was the league standings next to the defensive alignment, and then a large blank area for notes.

On both sides underneath that was the batting lines and inning totals. There was one line for each batting position, with amble space to write in any replacements. The scoring boxes were large, comfortable, and without pre-printed diamonds. Each batting line ended in stats column (that were also pre-printed for extra innings), and each inning column ended in an extended totals tally of runs/earned runs, hits, errors, and left on base. Underneath that for both teams was the bench listing, pitching lines, and bullpen. Thanks to limited data that I was provided, I was only able to fill out the bench for the RiverDogs, and the Bullpen for the Braves.

To say this card was intense is an understatement. There were abbreviations for things that I didn't know, and I still can't find, such as "WX," "C," and "IL." But it was a joy to use.

Sadly, there wasn't a ton of interesting scoring in this game. Three Braves got the Golden Sombrero, and there was a one infield hit awarded to the RiverDogs in the bottom of the fourth that was clearly home cooking, and I noted that it was really an E5. But besides that, there was nothing of note.

The Accommodations:
The Best Western Charleston
The Best Western, Charleston, SC

I had booked the Best Western in Charleston for a pretty hefty fee, but it was one of the cheapest of the decent hotel in the area, which made sense for a Friday, really. It was actually one of the nicest Best Westerns I've ever stayed in, so it was worth the price. I was a little worried when I checked in and I saw my next-door neighbor was outside his room in the flat bed of his truck, smoking, with a "Do Not Disturb" sign on his door, but he didn't turn out to be a problem.

I was in a room with a nice set of twin beds, with an end table and table on one side of the room, and a dresser, refrigerator, TV, and desk on the other side. The room ended in a sink and vanity, with the shower and toilet in the room next to it.

It had a lot of fancy frills to it, and it was comfortable, quiet, and the right place to recover after the previous night.

 2018 East Coast Leftovers

Thursday, June 28, 2018


On Friggin’ Camp Days

King's BBQ
The consolation prize
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Kinston, NC

Outside the Game:
After hitting the sack early the night before, I was up early and out and about after a quick breakfast and check out. I had a long drive across North Carolina ahead of me for the day.

I got an hour or so into North Carolina before needing to stop for gas. There is an extension project for I-70 that is going on that is not where I-70 used to be and is not on my GPS map, which led to an interesting end to my drive, as I was driving through what my GPS firmly considered to be fields and suburbs. The further on this unauthorized route I went, the more it had a nervous breakdown trying to get me back on track.

I remembered where the next road was and about how long it would take to get to the turnoff, but it ultimately proved unnecessary, as the actual I-70 and the GPS' idea of I-70 came back to the same wavelength shortly before the turn-off. Heisenberg wept.

Five hours after I started, I was pulling into the hotel at about 2 PM. It wasn't really that bad of a drive, in retrospect. Say what you will about the Impala, taking the drive in a giant recliner with modern cruise controls wasn't a bad way to go, although the satellite radio was not included in the rental, so I was at the mercy of local radio stations that bounced between country, gospel, right-wing talk, "classic country," and one or two classic rock stations that I held on to like a life raft. Since it was my first long drive this trip, I wasn't completely sick of the songs at this point, so all in all, it was a pleasantish drive.

I checked in at the hotel, and then had at the short drive to the stadium, where I found the game letting out because it was ANOTHER GODDAMN CAMP DAY.

The game was on a Wednesday. After the incident with Kannapolis two years ago, I specifically double-checked the start time for this game before I left for the trip, and it was still a 7 PM start. Well, sometime between then and now, they changed it to an 11:00 AM Camp Day start, and I was pissed, but mostly at myself. Even if I knew it was a Camp Day, there's nothing much I could have done about it. There's no way I could have made that five-hour drive to get there at 10 AM without leaving at 5 AM in the morning, and that was not happening. I had to write this stadium up to make the trip a business expense, so there was nothing to do about it.

The only thing I really wanted to do in town was go to King's BBQ, a famous local BBQ joint that started as a gas station restaurant in the ‘40s. I went to the original store, which was just down the road from my hotel, and had some late afternoon lunch/dinner. I was seated in a booth from the 70s and waited on by a nice old lady, possibly also from the 70s. She served me up a great BBQ platter, which I wolfed down because I was starving, and then I thought about what to do for the rest of the day.

I stopped at a Walgreen's by the hotel to grab shipping supplies and some toiletry needs, and then I went back to the hotel, got all mopey for a while, and then decided to take a nap. Thus refreshed, I did my laundry to replenish my clothes supply, and then double-checked every last aspect of the trip while I was waiting. I decided to cut down on the four-hour drive to Charleston by going to a hotel halfway down after the game tomorrow. I organized and repacked everything, and then I went to bed early, watching my recorded TV shows on my tablet app and getting some rest.

The Accommodations:
Quality Inn, Kinston
Quality Inn, Kinston

I was at the Quality Inn on one of the main drags of Kinston. It was a nice enough room with two double bed and night tables on one wall, and a desk, dresser, TV, and refrigerator on the other. At the end of the room was a sink and vanity, leading to the tub and toilet room on the left.

Having two beds work out for a number of reasons. I was able to pile all the pillows on one bed for the evening to sleep, plus I was able to spread out all my crap and laundry onto the other bed and organize everything. I got a good night's sleep, which was also important for my long next day.

On a Long, Hot Day in a Small, Hot Town

Grainger Stadium
Grainger Stadium, 2018
Thursday June 28, 2018
Potomac Nations (Washington Nationals) vs.
Down East Wood Ducks (Texas Rangers)
Grainger Field
Carolina League (A+)
Kinston, NC
7:00 PM

Outside the Game:
This was going to be a long, long day. I was going to have to kill all afternoon in small North Carolina town before the game, and then afterword travel about two hours to my hotel.

So I took it easy that morning. The first move was asking for a late checkout after breakfast and then going back to my room for a nap or two. My tablet hadn't fully charged during the night, so I was spending as much time as I could sucking juice, as it had to get me through the entire, long day.

I finished packing up after the nap and bought my tickets for the next couple games in South Carolina and then mapped out a halfway point for my hotel for that night. It turned out to be Dillon, SC, so I picked a hotel just off the interstate to stay, called them up, and preemptively asked them for a late checkout and told them that I would be arriving late that evening.

I lolled around until noon and then headed out into the day, dumping all my stuff in the car and checking out of the hotel. My first stop, for lack of anything better to do for six hours, was going to the park to buy a ticket. The booths were closed, but the gate and team store were opened, so I stopped in there. A nice woman greeted me in the welcome air conditioning, so I did my souvenir shopping before asking her about getting a ticket. She said that they could sell me one in the stadium offices down the way a bit, so I took her directions through the construction and bought a ticket from a half-interested woman at her desk. I did the photos around the park, and then headed out for the rest of the afternoon.

The first stop was one of Kinston's only claims the fame, the CSS Neuse. The Confederate ironclad was one of the few produced during the war, but this one saw little action, providing some shore support for Confederate infantry before being bottled up and sunk to prevent its capture. The remains were dug up by a variety of people over the decades before the state bought them and put them in a converted warehouse downtown in a museum.

As I parked and went in, the guy behind the counter swore that he met me before, and I pointed out the sheer impossibility of that circumstance. He was eventually convinced, and I went into the museum itself after a short movie, and myself and a small family were the only ones inside.

CSS Neuse
Pronounced "Noose"

It was quite a nice museum, all centered around the remains of the hull that was the obvious centerpiece of things. It gave a good history of the ship and the war and the locality at the time of the war, with reproductions of the turret that you could climb through and other goodies. I stopped in the shop on the way out and asked for suggestions for lunch. They pointed me down the street to the Queen Street Deli, so I walked down and had a sandwich and soda while staying out of the blistering sun. There was also a full-sized replica of the Neuse built right by the downtown parking lot, but entry was by appointment only, so I didn't get to go inside.

After lunch, the only other attractions were a small nature museum near a campground at the north end of town. It was literally a small shed with a couple of local, small animals inside. The highlight was a rattlesnake they had in some flimsy sliding door cage that warned to back away from the glass if the snake started rattling. Buddy, with that kind of warning, I'm not getting anywhere near that cage.

I spent some time in the park by the river after my short visit, and there were giant wooden rocking swings that I took advantage of in the shade, watching the river pass by with a nice breeze blowing. Worse ways to spend some time.

I realized that I needed to get a new recharge cable for my tablet, as my current was too flaky for its job, and why my tablet was only at 60% power at the moment. I used the GPS, which pointed me to a JC Penny’s and Sears at the outskirts of town. It turned out that data was a bit out of date, as both of the big-box stores had closed down since my GPS had an update, in a bleak commercial tableau. Even worse, as I was driving around the parking lot looking to get turned around, there was a horrific traffic accident on the main road. Emergency services were just showing up, and it was a mess. I managed to circumvent it by going out a back entrance to the closed stores and get back towards town that way. I stopped in a Rite Aid I passed and got a new cable, so that was at least checked off the list.

I drove back to downtown to kill some time at local antique stores. One of them had just closed, and the other didn't have anything too interesting, so I was at a loss at how to kill another two hours before the gates opened. I was also drowning in sweat. I drove to a local Walmart to soak up some AC for a while, and then went to the connected Subway to grab a late lunch, also in the AC.

With nothing left to do but kill just under an hour, I drove out the park again, parked in the shade, left my AC on, and took a nap. There was another car next to me with a family inside, but I think they were just waiting in the AC and not napping, but what do I know, I was asleep. Fortified for the rest of the day, I went out into the sweltering heat and entered the park as the gates opened.

As soon as the last out was registered, I was off like a shot into my car and starting the two hour or so drive at just after 10. There was minor construction that caused some slow ups, but I was moving right along until I got into South Carolina, and a huge rainstorm exploded onto the scene. It slowed down the last half hour of my trip tremendously, but I eventually made it to the hotel.

I semi-coherently checked in and confirmed my late check out for, at this point, later this day, and then went up to my room.

Where my key didn't work, so I had to drag all my stuff down and get a new key and then drag all my stuff back up to the room. The AC wasn't on in the room, so I had to wait for it to cool down before I could sleep, so I spent the time finishing the scorecard and unpacking what I needed for the next day, eventually falling to blissful slumber when the ambient temperature was under 80 or so.

The Stadium & Fans:
Home to center
Home plate to center field, Grainger Stadium

"Historic Grainger Field" was another park built in the 40s and updated since then. After being home to minor league baseball since the 40s, the stadium went dark in the early 10s when the Indians moved out, but after several years of campaigning, Kinston grabbed one of the teams that moved from out west to reinvent themselves as the "Wood Ducks."

Except for this game, it was a Throwback Thursday, so they weren't playing as the Ducks; they were playing as the K-Tribe, their previous incarnation. I have to wonder what the legality of that all was, but supposedly someone had that all figured out. Even new mascot duck Dewd wasn't around for the game, and old dog mascot Scout handled the duties between innings.

Scout, on throwback night

The stadium is a nice old gem that they've kept updating, even to this day, as they were doing construction on the offices in the left field side of the park. It was all real brick construction around the main, covered grandstand behind home plate, with the wooden Delmont Miller Press Box sitting on top.

The only entrance was behind home plate and emptied out into an entrance plaza where the concessions, customer service, and most of the other facilities were located, either near or inside the back of the grandstand. A promenade ran along the outside of the grandstand, hooking up with a walkway in the seating bowl at the end of the grandstand by the first and third-base areas. The promenade extended out to the ends of the outfield, but don't connect, with the left field walkway ending in a picnic area, and the right field walkway ending in the small play area and the Mother Earth Brewery Pavilion. There was a picnic hill on the right field side at the end of the grandstand and a stretch of metal bleachers on the left field side. A row of season ticket seats ringed the field right at the end of the seating walkway. A second concession stand had its own building on the first-base side.

The digital scoreboard sits in right-center field, above a double-rowed outfield wall covered in ads and under the backdrop of trees across the outfield. At various places along the stadium, there are "Wood Duck Fact" plaques, and there are dedication and renovation plaques for the stadium near ramps into the grandstand and on the new concession stand by first base. A unique pyramid-tiered batters eye towers in dead center, no doubt compensating for the thrifty 390 feet to home plate from there.

The game had a pretty good turnout for a Thursday Night. It might have been because it was dollar beer night, but there were enough fans in their K-Tribe gear to say it might be that as well. The broadcast team tape up hand-printed "K"s in the press box for the strikeout counter, and the whole thing had a very cozy feel to it. I'm glad they got a franchise back, as the place clearly likes baseball.

At the Game with Oogie:

Hot dog & Gatorades
Super-hot weather rations

I struggled through the hot and humid night the best I was able. I obviously bought a lot of drinks, but I was so hot, that the only thing I ate all night was a singular hot dog.

After taking all my pictures, I went to my seat, which was behind the home dugout on the third base side. No one was to my right or behind me, but there was a family in front of me, and I was on the last seat in the row. There was a group of older disabled people in the box seats on the walkway in front of me that seemed to be enjoying themselves.

As I sat through so many squandered scoring opportunities by the home team, I started to watch the clock, and I was out like a rabbit as soon as the last out was recorded to start on my two hour drive out and down to South Carolina.

The Game:
First pitch, Nationals vs. Wood Ducks
First pitch, Nationals vs. Wood Ducks

This was a tight pitcher's duel between the visiting Nationals and the home Wood Ducks (or K-Tribe, thanks to a Throwback Thursday) that the home team eventually lost because, frankly, they just didn't want it enough.

The Nationals started it off by all striking out in the top of the first, with a one-out single snuck in. Kinston also had a single (a leadoff one, at that) to show for the first. Both sides went quickly in order in the second, but Potomac had something in the top of the third with back-to-back singles to make it first and third with no outs. The sacrifice fly that brought in the run ended up as a double-play, catching the runner trying to go to second, which proved costly when there was another single just after that might have scored him. But the half ended with a 1-0 lead for the visitors. The Wood Ducks went in order despite a leadoff single thanks to a double play of their own.

The fourth started with the Nationals going in order, but Kinston came out swinging in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff single coming on a one-out double. A walk and single loaded up the bases, but two quick outs ended the threat, one of many squandered opportunities by the home side, but tying the game up at one. The Nationals went in order in the fifth, and Kinston stranded back-to-back singles to leave the score as it was. The sixth went quickly as Potomac only had a single to show for the inning and the Wood Ducks went in order.

The Nationals had only a single in the seventh, and Kinston only had a single. Potomac had a single again to show for the eighth, but the Wood Ducks blew their best chance, with a leadoff walk getting to second on a stolen base and third on an error on the throw. With a man on third and no outs, the Wood Ducks failed to score, with two strikeouts, a walk, and then a ground-out to second. The Nationals took the lead in the top of the ninth, breaking the tie with a two-out homer to right field, granting them a 2-1 lead. Kinston had a single to start the bottom of the ninth and a bunt to get him to second with only one out. But the home team couldn't score again, and the Nationals went away with the 2-1 victory.

The Scorecard: 
Nationals vs. Wood Ducks, 06-28-18. Nationals win, 2-1.
Nationals vs. Wood Ducks, 06/28/18. Nationals win, 2-1.

The scorecard was a free handout at the entrance to the park. Unlike most other stadiums, the bi-fold magazine-sized cardstock scorecard was the only program on offer at the park, and it came with a lucky number used in the contests between innings. The scorecard took up the entirety of the right side of the centerfold, printed on a white background with lots of room for notes.

There were exactly nine batting lines for each team, with enough space to write in replacements. Each batting row ended with cumulative statistics, and each inning column ended with inning totals. Pitching lines were located underneath the batting lines for both teams and were to the left of cumulative statistics for the team on errors, doubles, triples, home runs, stolen bases, and time of game. There was no pre-printed diamond, and it was overall a nice card with plenty of room for scoring.

There were a bunch of informational notes to start out. There was a K-Man for the game (who struck out in the his at bat K 2-3), and a Hwy 55 Hitman (who did not get a hit). Because it was "Throwback Thursday," the Wood Ducks were competing as their previous incarnation, the Kinston Indians (or K-Tribe), which was also noted. One player got a golden sombrero drawn in for his three strikeouts.

There were a ton of strikeouts in this game, 23 total, and a couple of weird or notable plays. In the top of the third, with no outs, there were batters on first and third. The next batter hit a sacrifice fly to right field that got the run in, but the runner from first tried to make it to second on the throw and got caught in a SF-9-3-6t double play. Perhaps a little more conventionally, there was a bF3 in the bottom of the seventh on a popped-up bunt to the first baseman defending against the bunt.

The second Potomac pitcher who came in during the seventh was not announced, and his uniform number did not correspond to anyone in the roster for the team, so he went in as "(Unannounced)."

The Accommodations:
Quality Inn, Dillon
Quality Inn, Dillon

I was camping for the night at the Quality Inn in Dillon, SC, just a bit over the border. I rolled in at 12:30 AM and had to wait for the AC to cool down the room for a half hour before I got any sleep.

The room, for the brief time I spent in it, was very nice. There was a king-sized bed and couch with end table on one wall and the desk, dresser, and wall-mounted TV on the other wall. At the end of the room was the sink and vanity, next to the bathroom with tub and toilet.

When the room eventually cooled down enough for me to sleep, it was a good enough place to rest my head for the evening.

2018 East Coast Leftovers

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


On It's Always Raining in Bluefield

Rain out
Literally every day in Bluefield
Monday, June 25, 2018
Bluefield, WV

Outside the Game: 
A lovely Monday morning not at work featured breakfast, and then video games until it was time to pack up in the early afternoon. With a wife and son in tow, it took a little bit to get the ship of state moving, but we were off heading east at the appointed time.

The drive out was mostly without incident besides some construction. We stopped off for a late lunch at Appleby's and then made the rest of the drive out to Bluefield. As we were approaching, I found "Car Bingo" cards in the seat pockets in the back seat and had quite the enjoyable time playing with them, even if they had been designed in the early 80s and not updated since then based on some of the squares (Corvette, etc.), but I got into it so much that the youngster in the back seat with me put down his phone long enough to play for a little bit.

The first stop in Bluefield was the Enterprise where I'd pick up my car for the remainder of the trip, as we were parting ways the next day. We drove past out hotel, but the address for the rental place took us to a spot just past a small mall. A quick look in the mall didn't locate the business, so I called up to get directions, as we were flirting with 4 PM, and the place closed at 5 PM.

It took a few efforts to get through, and the woman finally gave us some useful directions, but claimed that I was to have been there at noon. That was when I was originally scheduled to pick up the car, but I had called the previous night to tell them I would be coming in later, and I was assured there would be no problems. She said she would see what she could do. And I got nervous.

After backtracking a little bit, we got to the Enterprise office, which was heralded by a tiny sign in the back of a car dealership. I went in and waited behind a couple that was also picking up a car. Apparently, there had just been a run on the place, and the lady behind the counter was bemoaning that her associate had left for lunch.

Once the other couple was almost done, the other guy showed up and handled me. They did have a car ready for me, so I sent everyone else down the road to the hotel, and then I finished up the paperwork with the representative and went out to see my car.

Chevy Impala rental
It means "antelope"

Despite asking for a compact, they had given me pretty much the opposite, which was a Chevy Impala Medicare sled. The guy showed me a bunch of little dings on the car that he assured me wouldn't be a problem, but I took some photos nevertheless, and then headed down the road to the hotel.

As I came in, I found my friend just finishing up his check in. I got a King Single right next door to his double twin, though we didn't have the adjoining doors to suite up the place. After a quick check in, I dropped all my stuff off in the room, took pictures, and got set up. I was enjoying the nice view of the pool when the rain started.

I headed out to my car to try and figure everything out. I adjusted all the mirrors and whatnot and worked out all the dials and lights and the on-board WiFi hotspot that it came with. I went back inside and called the stadium, and they said the game was still on. But as it came time to go to the park, I went next door, where my friend told me they had just announced the cancellation on their Twitter page. That was two straight rainouts when trying to go to a Bluefield game. I honestly had no idea how they managed to get a season's worth of games in.

But that is also why I budgeted the extra days. With not a ton of options available for dinner, we all went to nearby Chili's and then retired to their room to watch Thor: Ragnoroc streamed on their TV from a laptop. I then went back to my room to hit the sack and wonder what the hell I was going to do tomorrow.

The Accommodations: 
Quality Inn
Quality Inn, Bluefield

I was at the Quality Inn and Conference Center, which was at the top of a windy road off the main state road through town. I had no idea what conferences they would have here, but it was a nice enough hotel, although sometime recently their restaurant had closed down.

The entrance to my room was right to right of the small but adequate bathroom. The king-sized bed was on one wall with end tables opposite a desk, dresser, and TV. I was on the ground floor right next to the pool that no one would be using because of the weather. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of guest besides ourselves in the place.

On Mercy, of a Sort, from the Weather

Bowen Field
Bowen Field, 2018
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Princeton Rays (Tampa Bay Rays) vs.
Bluefield Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays)
Bowen Field
Appalachian League (Rookie +)
Bluefield, WV
5:05 PM

Outside the Game:
I woke up early to grab breakfast and say goodbye to my friend and his family, and they headed off to South Carolina. After breakfast, I went back to the front desk to arrange to stay over another day, and then went back to my room for a shower.

I decided to take a drive into town to get used to the car and kill some time. I went out to the stadium, and then drove downtown to see what was there. In addition to a lot of closed stores and displays about how Bluefield was the financing center of the coal region in better days, I ended up browsing through an antiques store downtown, where I bought some old books and a baseball poem plaque. I had lunch at a Burger King, which was the only thing open in the area, and then went back to the hotel to organize and pack a bit before tomorrow and take a nap. They were going to play a double-header to make up for the rainout the night before, so the game time was moved up to 5 PM, so I was ready to head out as soon as I got up from the nap.

Right as I headed to my car to drive to the stadium, it started raining, but it stopped during my drive out to the park, just enough to dose everything. I walked around and did my photographing, bought a ticket, and went inside.

After they brought the tarp out for the second time before the second game, I saw the writing on the wall and headed out to my car in the drizzle. I just headed back to the hotel to finish packing and hit the sack early.

The Stadium & Fans: 
Home to center at Bowen Field
Home plate to center field, Bowen Field

Bowen Field was an old WPA ballpark built in the 40s. The outside of the park is surrounded by a parking lot and a low wall that goes around it, just shy of the stream that runs on the other side of the road beyond the center field wall. A Sherman tank and a tree grove beyond left field are part of the WWII memorial, and further out past right is a kid's train that seems to run at an irregular schedule.

There is one entrance to the park one the third-base side of home plate, with a single ticket booth out building. The gate empties into a plaza where most of the amenities are found. At the far end by the grandstand is the built-in concession stand, and to its right is the building housing the Birds Nest team store and facilities. There are also entrances to special seating areas on the third base side, the “RailYard” party area, the “Rail Bird” bleachers, and a wooden staircase up to the third-base box seats. At the entrance gate, there is a small set of desks that house the programs and contest areas, as well as another table for the 50/50.

A ramp at the end of the plaza leads up to the grandstand and is lined with nearly a dozen dedications and plaques through the years. The grandstand houses the main seating area of the park. Everything up from the small walkway that runs around the grandstand are general admissions seats, with most falling underneath the overhang. A number are broken and unrepaired, marked with blue duct tape so people don't try and sit in them. More reserved box seats line the front of the walkway right by the field. Another section of box seats is accessed at the first-base end of the grandstand. The press box is located on the top of the first base dugout in an unconventional configuration.

The electric scoreboard sits in right-center, just to the left of the triple-decker batter's eye and on the unending backdrop of trees beyond the outfield. A “hit it here” sign is in left-center and is above the single-row of ads that covers the entire outfield.

The crowd was pretty good for mid-week game with threatening weather, and a good portion of the fans were from nearby Princeton. And that is because of the Mercer Cup.

Mercer Cup
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair

The Mercer Cup is a high-school grade victory cup that goes to the winner of the season series between the Princeton Rays and Bluefield Blue Jays, both residents of Mercer County, right next to the Virginia border. I'm of two minds. On the one hand, it is a nice local tradition and bragging rights for two small towns that both have teams in the lowest of the minors, and it is a fun execution of civic pride. On the other, it is the definition of “never have the stakes been so low.” The fans were getting aggressively into it, all for a cheap trophy they could buy themselves if they were so interested.

That said, there wasn't much else between the innings outside of some PA announcements. But the fans in the seats were there for the game, which was nice, even if they took it a little far.

At the Game with Oogie:
Corn Dog
Corn dog, delayed

For the very first time, I was able to enter Bowen Field, which was momentous in itself. Even after taking the time to do outside pictures, I was the first patron in the park, and I quickly went over to grab a program next to the Mercer Cup and walk in. I was immediately stopped by a guy who was from NY and spotted the Mets hat. We had a talk about it and how he came down here after a stint with Uncle Sam. I did all my interior photos in the old park, and then went back to buy some stuff at the gift shop. The person who was running the gift shop that evening had just shown up, so I was able to buy my souvenirs and then head over to the concessions stand for some food.

My first food order didn't work out, as I was told that they didn't actually have chicken sandwiches that night. I settled on a burger and a corn dog, which they assured me they had. The burger I got, but the counter person hadn't been informed that the fryer hadn't even been started up yet, so my corn dog was a long way off. The guy in the back assured me he'd find me in the stands and deliver it. (He did, just before the start of the game.)

I finished my burger, bought some 50/50 tickets, then headed up into the grandstand to find a seat in the open seating plan they had. I settled into a seat right behind home plate just far enough up to be under the overhang. As people filed in, there was eventually a Rays fan on my right a couple rows up, an older Blue Jays on to my right, a grandpa with his granddaughter behind me, and then a couple of rows of Princeton Rays personnel to my left, sitting by the scouts and the players who were not playing in the first game and thus running stats.

A Little League team was going around for collections to get them to a tournament, and there was also the local news there covering the Mercer Cup game, because that passes for news down here.

Between the games, the rain started up, and everyone retreated to my row and further back under the cover. The players who were running stats for the Jays were right next to me, and some big shot local came up and was talking to them, eventually inviting him to a big barbecue he was having the next day. Not with this rain, Champ.

The rain stopped, and the tarp came off, but a short while later, the rain began again in earnest, and the tarp came out again, and that is when I booked it to my car. I had finally gotten my game in here in. My duty was complete.

The Game: 
First pitch, Rays vs. Blue Jays
First pitch, Rays vs. Blue Jays

This game was a first in many ways. It was the first game of a doubleheader to make up the previous day's rain out, while also being the first game between the Blue Jays and the Rays of the year, and therefore the first game of the Mercer Cup series. The tightly-fought, seven-inning contest would go to the home team.

The Rays started the scoring early with a two-out homer to right to stake them to a 1-0 lead. Bluefield immediately tied it up in the bottom of the first with a leadoff double brought in by a two-out single to leave the score at 1-1. Princeton went in order in the second despite a leadoff single thanks to a double play, but the Blue Jays got a two-out homer to left field to get a slim 2-1 lead. The Rays only had a single in the top of the third, but Bluefield kept scoring with a leadoff single that scored on the double that followed, giving them a slightly larger 3-1 lead.

Princeton got a one-out single to third thanks to a walk and a wild pitch, but he was stranded there, while the Blue Jays managed to load the bases with a double, short single, and a hit batsman, but a new pitcher got the last out to leave them all aboard. Both sides only had a single to show for the fifth. In the top of the sixth, the Rays got a run the long way, with a walk, wild pitch, fly out to right, and another wild pitch to bring him home and cut the lead to 3-2. In the bottom of the frame, Bluefield had a weird one. After two strikeouts, they loaded the bases on a single, walk, and dropped third strike on a strikeout, but a fourth strikeout ended the inning and the threat.

In their last licks at the top of the seventh, Princeton got a one-out walk and then a two-out single to right-center. The lead runner booked it to third and drew the throw, but he made it safely. The batsman tried to make it second, but the throw from third to the shortstop got there in time to gun him down, and the Blue Jays walked away with a 3-2 Mercer Cup game victory.

As mentioned, the second game was rained out shortly before beginning. In four total games I tried to watch in Bluefield, exactly one was played. That's just amazing.

The Scorecard: 
Rays vs. Blue Jays, 06-26-18. Blue Jays win, 3-2.
Rays vs. Blue Jays, 06/26/18. Blue Jays win, 3-2.

The scorecard was part of the $1 newsprint mini-tabloid program, which came with a raffle ticket. The scorecard took the entirety of the centerfold and was printed on a white background for ease of notes, although there was a copious notes are in the scorecard itself to the left of the pitching lines.

Each batting line held room for one player, although there was an extra line for a replacement at the end of the batting lines. Each batting line ended with the regular cumulative stats, and each inning column ended with inning totals. The pitching lines were in the bottom right of each scorecard, next to the aforementioned notes areas.

The scoring lines were small, but workable, but were on top of a color background on newsprint, which made for messy erasing.

There were a couple of plays of note. In the bottom of the first, there was a foul ball to left field that was caught seemingly for an out, but the umpire ruled it hit the netting before being caught. This led to an argument and ejection of the visiting manager, and ironically the at-bat was ended several pitches later with a fly out to left. In the bottom of the sixth, there was the rarest of the rare: a four-strikeout inning. After two quick strikeouts, the bases were loaded, and the last batter got on thanks to a dropped third strike that was not thrown to first in time. The next batter also struck out, and the four K inning was made.

For a seven-inning game, there were also 14 total strikeouts, which was a lot, and the Rays run in the top of the sixth was made possible by two wild pitches in the same at-bat.

The Accommodations: 
I was at the Quality Inn again, for a surprisingly early night. Not much of note, but I did find out who had conferences at a mid-range hotel in the middle of nowhere. As I was going back to my room, I saw the meeting for a local mining union taking place in one of the meeting rooms, so that answered that, I guess.

They didn't bother me any, and I got an early night's sleep to offset all the driving for the next day.

2018 East Coast Leftovers