Saturday, July 21, 2012

Interesting to me

I wasn't going to do a breakdown of the game I went to last night. Everyone reading this has been to a baseball game before -- multiple times -- including myself.

But, no matter how many times I go, I always find something interesting -- usually something I've never seen before -- and that was the case again Friday night.

So here is a top 10 on what was Interesting To Me at last night's Norfolk Tides-Syracuse Chiefs baseball game:

10. Jamie Hoffmann: Hoffmann was one of two former Dodgers to play in last night's game. You'll read about the other one later. Hoffmann had some enjoyable moments for the Dodgers in 2009, but now he's kicking around on the Orioles' Triple A team. He started in right field and went 2-for-4 with a triple. My daughter only knows him as "The Former Dodger."

9. Pink batters boxes: It was Breast Cancer Awareness Night at Alliance Bank Stadium. The Chiefs wore uniforms with pink accents on the jersey. Some of them wore pink wrist bands. But I noticed only one Chief use a pink bat. Left fielder Jesus Valdez brought a bright pink bat up to the plate the first time. After that he switched to a bat with reddish-pink on the barrel.

8. Snazzy graphics: The Chiefs have a new scoreboard, which I didn't know until I walked to my seat and this giant colorful rectangle in left field caught my eye. Obviously, you can see it there on the left. It's apparently the fifth largest scoreboard in the minor leagues. And, if you're the right type, you could easily be transfixed by it all game and never even look at the field.

7. "Premier" Pitching matchup: I am a sucker for former major leaguers appearing in minor league games. Before I go to a minor league game, I have to count up how many former major leaguers are on each roster. I didn't know heading into the game that Zach Duke -- Syracuse's ace this year -- would be starting. But when I found out, I immediately got my brain ready for a duel between Brian Matusz and Zach Duke.

Duke was shaky early on but ended up getting the victory (Syracuse won 6-5). Matusz really has smoke, but his location was off all night and he got battered around pretty good. He pitched seven innings, though.

6. I got my daughter to high-five "Pops": The Chiefs have TWO mascots, which as far as my daughter is concerned is two too many. She hates mascots and goes way out of her way to avoid them, which is quite a feat with the way they patrol the park. Both of them are there to greet you as you walk into the stadium and you should have seen the circuitous route she took to avoid both of them. I thought she was running back to the car at one point.

However, our seats were directly in front of a main aisle of traffic and apparently in the middle of "Pops" territory. Pops came by and felt out the crowd. I immediately jumped up and gave him a high-five. Which automatically meant that my daughter, seated next to me, had to do the same or else she would look like she was snubbing Pops for all to see -- therefore bringing even MORE attention to herself. I told her she can never wash that hand again.

5. Celebrity sighting: Actor Billy Baldwin threw out the first pitch, along with his mother, Carol, whose name is affiliated with the Central New York breast cancer awareness organization. This immediately intrigued my wife who is somewhat of a celebrity follower. It looks like Joe Hurley ... er, Baldwin is trying to avoid the cameras, but actually he was very social and posed for photos several times.

4. Missed home run: I missed the only home run of the game, hit by Orioles catcher Luis Exposito in the top of the sixth inning. I was trying to explain to my daughter who Billy Baldwin was by going through a convoluted explanation of Alec Baldwin and the Capital One commercials and didn't even notice the commotion during the home run. This figures, because my daughter says she's never paying attention when something exciting happens at the game.

3. I got some cards: Just like three years ago when Stephen Strasburg was all the rage, the Chiefs were selling team sets for an inflated price with Bryce Harper showing on the top this time. All the other cards in the package were flipped over, backside up, but Harper was featured front-and-center and all mine for 10 bucks. I waz robbed. What can I say? Gotta have my cards. Plus I got a card of former Dodger Xavier Paul, who isn't even in the Nationals organization anymore. He's with the Reds. That guy sure jumps around.

2. The brawl: I had never seen a brawl in any of the professional baseball games I had attended until last night. (The only brawls I've seen have come in high school events -- basketball and hockey).

It happened in the bottom of the sixth inning, and I suspect it had something to do with Exposito's home run in the top of the inning. Syracuse catcher Koyie Hill was batting and he said something because, out of the blue, Exposito leaped up, pointed his glove at Hill and said something really bad quite loudly. Hill then grabbed Exposito, tackled him to the ground and both benches cleared. "I didn't miss that!" my daughter said.

There's the aftermath -- and on Breast Cancer Awareness Night, too. Tsk, tsk. They wiped away all the pink from the batters' boxes!

My guess is Hill was complaining that Exposito was trying to steal signs when he hit the home run. I can't think of anything else it would be, unless there's some sort of prior history. There were no incidents either before or afterward. Both guys got tossed.

1. Hanging out at the ballpark with the family: This is always No. 1. My daughter will never claim to be a sports fan. But she likes going to the ballpark, and thanks to me, she's been several times now. I even catch her sitting and staring at a baseball game on TV once in awhile. It never lasts long. Five minutes at the most before she heads to her room or puts on the iphone -- or whatever the heck she's got.

By the way, that's me, 25 pound lighter than 6 months ago, and in need of clothes that fit. (I grabbed a piece of pizza at the game, that was it). The Phillies shirt I'm wearing I picked up in Philadelphia like eight years ago. It commemorates the 1980 championship. I still wear it because it's retro.

So, those were the highlights. It was a fairly interesting game, although it dragged around the eighth inning.

But it certainly emphasized what I always knew -- you never know what you'll see at a ballgame.


  1. Sounds like you had a great time!

    As I mentioned on your post yesterday, I've always wanted to see a brawl at a baseball game. I don't know why. I've certainly been an onlooker of a few fights in my high school cafeteria, but I've never seen one on a baseball field.

    You said it best, though, spending time with the family is always the greatest part of a baseball game. Every game I've attended (save one) has been with some of my relatives.

  2. I like any level of baseball. Andy just covers HS but I've gone to several games with him when we visit. You never know what may happen !

  3. Looks like you got a little of everything. It is a decent minor league stadium. Too bad the Salty Dogs weren't playing.

  4. Sounds like you had a great time.

    BTW, $10 is the standard price for minor league team sets these days. At least Syracuse was able to sell you one with a major league star. :-)

  5. Yeah, I went back and looked at an old post and that's how much I paid for the team set with Strasburg in it three years ago. So I guess it's not so bad.

  6. totally concur about minor league baseball set inflation.

    Isotopes sets were $5 for the longest time and all of a sudden this season I picked one up and was told $8! a little bit of sticker shock but that's okay, I only buy a set a year for my collection.

    $10 seems reasonable for the high end of a minor league set price. I think last year's bryce harper set was $22 (at least online, no idea how much it was if you were to buy one from the park itself - hagerstown IIRC).