Minor Leagues

Pickles vs. Rogues

The Great West League is a new one of the so-called “summer collegiate wood bat” leagues around the country.  They advertise a “minor league atmosphere” but apparently don’t pay the players.  It appears these are leagues designed to give college players more competitive experience before they sign the contract.

The Portland Pickles are  the newest member of the league, playing their home games at Walker Stadium in Lents Park in a working class section of southeast Portland.  Their game against the Medford Rogues last night didn’t end well for them, but they did provide entertainment for a part of the city that hasn’t seen that level of baseball for some time.

Unfortunately, the organization behind the team is anything but.  Just before game time, there was a line of about 50 people waiting for tickets and it took them 30 minutes to complete all those sales, so the last person in line got in to see the beginning of the third inning.  Improvement needed there.

While the game itself was unremarkable, the stadium is pleasant with nary a bad seat.  I had the quintessential baseball experience of sitting next to a young boy about eight years old who had come to the game with his granddad (on a motorcycle) wearing his little league uniform.  He was a quiet, observant kid who was obviously pleased and proud to be at a ballgame with his Grandpa.  He watched closely, asked questions, jumped at the chance to have his picture taken with mascot “Dillon” the Pickle.  It was a great reminder to me of the broad appeal of the game.

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Minor Leagues

Hops vs. Ems

June 20, the summer solstice and the Hillsboro Hops home opener against the Eugene Emeralds at Ron Tonkin Field.  A beautiful evening for a baseball game, but, unfortunately, I waited too long to get a ticket and was relegated to the grassy knoll in distant left field.  That position, being so far from home plate and having the sun shining directly in my eyes, was far from ideal for viewing the game.  Perhaps fortunately, it wasn’t much of a game.  The Ems won 6-0, partly as a result of 4 errors by the Hops.

One (maybe the only one) benefit of sitting on the ground just past left fielder Matt McPhearson was that I got a close up view of him chasing Monasterio’s home run shot that just cleared the left field fence.  He was positioned maybe 25 yards in from the fence and started back immediately after the ball was hit.  Because I couldn’t see the ball off the bat, I watched him run back in an attempt to catch it.  It seemed to me he didn’t run full speed, and he didn’t catch it, but I thought he could have.

All that aside, watching that one play caused me to reflect on the phenomenon of the human eye and brain being able to judge the speed and trajectory of a batted ball in order to get in position to catch it.  That really is a remarkable feat, when you think about it, given the very brief time the fielder has to react and the enormous amount of data the brain must process to put the body in motion toward the point where the ball can be caught (or not!).  That experience last night reminded me of stuff written on the subject.  Here’s one such item: Outfielder. And another: Run

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Schedule

Okay, folks, here is the schedule of my trip.  The first listed team is home and I’ll be in their stadium (duh!).  The keystone for the schedule is the Hall of Fame induction of Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza on July 24 and the games are slotted around that with the three criteria of 1) have I been to that stadium; 2) how far is it from the last stop; and  3) does the date (and game time) work.

           July 18 – Royals vs. Indians

           July 19 – Cards vs. Padres

           July 21 – White Sox vs. Tigers

           July 22 – Reds vs. D’ Backs

           July 24 – Cooperstown

           July 26 – Pirates vs. Mariners

           July 27 – Indians vs. Nationals

           July 29 – Tigers vs. Astros

           July 30 – Brewers vs. Pirates

           August 2 – Rockies vs. Dodgers 

All are night games (7 p.m.) except the Indians which is at noon.

If you want to join me at any point along the line, send me an email (bobnewell@dwt.com) and we’ll make the arrangements.

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Opening Week

After going to Nick’s Coney Island for hot dogs on opening day with some of my colleagues, I got on a plane to Phoenix where I joined my son, Eli, for a D’Backs vs. Rockies game at Chase Field.  It was about 95 degrees in Phoenix that day, but they opened the roof just before gametime, so we enjoyed a desert evening and a good game, with Trevor Story showing off his home run skills and the D’Backs winning 11-6.

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Next day, we drove through the desert and over the mountains to the coastal air of San Diego and took in the Padres game against the Dodgers at Petco Park (shouldn’t the dirt there be made of Kibble?).  Dodgers rookie Kenta Maeda made an impressive major league debut by shutting out the Padres (as the Dodgers did for the whole series) but also by hitting his first big league home run.

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Next night, we saw a terrific game at the Big A in Anaheim with the Angels beating the Rangers when Albert Pujols hit a walk-off single to win it with two out in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded.

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Hard to imagine a better start to the 2016 season!

 

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Seattle

Made my annual trek to Seattle for a Mariners game on Sunday, June 12.  They played the Rangers, with whom they’d been tied for first in the AL West just a week before, but after being swept in Texas, they were looking for a comeback.  It didn’t happen.  They frankly looked lackadaisical, and ended up losing 6-4.

The highlight of the game was watching Roughned Odor (I’ve heard this pronounced about six different ways), the Rangers resident pugilist (I call him Roughneck), strike out his first four times at bat.  When he came up for the fifth time, I couldn’t help myself and yelled out “Go for five!”  The guy across the aisle from me – a Rangers fan who was wearing a Fielder jersey – nearly fell off his seat laughing.  Odor managed a weak pop up to short for the third out and on his way back to the dugout, he looked my way and raised both fists to the heavens in triumph at not striking out for the fifth time!

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