May 2012

2012 Baseball Trip-Game 4: No rain, but plenty of Thunder

Binghamton Mets vs. Trenton Thunder

 NYSEG Stadium-Binghamton, NY: Since it took us about half the time at the Hall of Fame than we expected, we decided to pick up an extra game in Binghamton. It rained all day in Cooperstown, and a little on our drive down, but turned into a beautiful night for baseball. Because heading down there was a last-minute decision, we didn’t get there real early and have as much time to poke around the park before game time. Someone was handing out vouchers outside of the stadium, too, for discounts, so we picked up our tickets for only $6.00 a piece, which is a great deal for baseball. NYSEG Stadium is a decent venue for Double-A (Eastern League), but we’ve been in better for Single-A. The crowd wasn’t as ‘baseball savvy’ as some of the other ones we’ve talked to on our trip, and they didn’t seem real into the game. Lots of people their drinking tons, which I have no problem with, but obvious they could care less about the game. You’d think they’re would be a better showing for the a matchup of the Mets and Yankees affiliates. Not real surprising to hear that this is the franchise rumored to be heading to Ottawa, Ontario in the future. I did like the fact here that there were plenty of vendors walking the stands, so you really could sit and not miss much of the game, and the concessions were reasonably priced. The mascots did a good job, too, of walking the stands and entertaining the kids. It was a chance for us to see more baseball, though, which is always a good thing. The Thunder really brought their bats this night and beat up the home team a bit. We’ll see if the Mets can bounce back the next night, as we’ll be back in Binghamton for the rematch. Final: Thunder 10, B-Mets 1.

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

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2012 Baseball Trip: The Road to Cooperstown

The National Baseball Hall of Fame

Cooperstown, NYThe road to Cooperstown, New York may not be what you’d expect. In fact, it is almost a like travelling back in time, to a place without super highways and sky scrapers. The road is carved into the landscape of up-state New York, passing farms and classic homes. It’s a journey to a simpler time when baseball was king of all sports…as it should be. The town itself is quaint, with the feel of the turn of the century, but I didn’t see too much of it on the way there, as I was so excited to reach my destination…the National Baseball Hall of Fame…

Inside your welcomed by Gehrig, Robinson, and Clemente. Pretty good trio of legends…

The actual Hall itself, which is pretty simple and elegant:

One of my favorite classic Tigers and fellow second baseman…Charlie Gehringer

I was surprised to see a display of movies that featured baseball:

The rest of the museum was sort of all over the place. It had no real flow to it, and you never really knew what you were going to see next. I’ve been to the Hockey HOF in Toronto, and I guess I was comparing that to the baseball one here in Cooperstown. I was disappointed to find that no other baseball was represented here other than MLB. Nothing on the Minor League, college baseball, international baseball (Olympics or WBC), Little League, Negro Leagues, or anything else. Even the display for the girls baseball was much smaller than I thought it would be. I did enjoy seeing some of the old memorabilia from the 1800′s and to see how the game evolved. There was plenty of room for more displays, though, and maybe recognizing some very good players and teams that will not make the Hall, but still meant a lot to the game of baseball. We had a fun time, and this was something that we just had to do to cross off our baseball bucket list, but I guess I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. And then seeing the prices in the gift shop simply just ticked me off a bit…

At least my home town got a little recognition in the girls display

No individual players from the Detroit Tigers 1984 World Champions are in the Hall, but the team was too good not ro be represented in the museum.

Home plate from Emmet’s Field

Doubleday Field

Cooperstown, NY: While in the Coop, checking out Doubleday Field is a must. It’s and old-time throwback stadium, but I really like it’s simplicity. They have a summer college team play there now, so it’s good to see it in use. It’s too bad I couldn’t have seen a game played here, though. We used the parking lot here, too, and just walked to the HOF.

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

2012 Baseball Trip-Game 3: Bull Durham, Damn Yankees

Empire State Yankees vs. Durham Bulls

Frontier Field-Rochester, NY: While the Red Wings are away, the Yankees will play…in Frontier Field, that is. Due to a new stadium being built, the Scratnon/Wilkes Barre Yankees will be taking on the moniker of ‘Empire State’ for the season, and playing ‘home games’ in places such as Rochester and Syracuse while the home teams are out-of-town. This gave us a great opportunity to catch a game, and see two more teams, that we probably would not have seen otherwise. I found Frontier Field a very nice venue, and our seats could not have been better, front row on the third base side. The kids had a lot of fun watching this game on MiLB.TV, as they could see their daddy and papa quite a bit. The game itself flew by, as the Durham Bulls shut out the Yankees 1-0. Alex Cobb got the win on the mound for Durham, and I was surprised to see him pitching for the Rays when I turned the game on last night versus the Red Sox. We had a lot of fun here, and were excited about the fact we would be coming back in a few days to watch the Red Wings. I went right to bed after the game, though, as the next morning we would get up bright and early to get on the road to Cooperstown…Final: Bulls 1, Yankees 0.

The old ballpark in Rochester was named ‘Silver Stadium‘ after the man who saved baseball in Rochester.

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

2012 Baseball Trip-Game 2: Red Wings Rematch

Syracuse Chiefs vs. Rochester Red Wings

Alliance Bank Stadium-Syracuse, NY: I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I love being at the ballpark early in the day. The grass still smells so fresh, and it just seems like the day was made for baseball, and nothing else. We were also blessed with another beautiful spring day to make us even more comfortable. Because of the noon start, eating lunch at the ballpark was essential. If you like hamburgers, this is the ballpark for you, as they have many different varieties, though they are pricey at $8 a piece. They offered good hot dogs, also, and a cold beer helped kick the day off. Since we sat in the front row for yesterday’s game, we decided to gain a little altitude and get a different perspective. One thing that I like about Bank Alliance Stadium, is that is does have a second deck to it, which is rare, even for Triple-A stadiums. The view of the game was fantastic, and in all honesty, if I had season tickets here, this is where they would be. I do like seeing at least a couple of games in the same ballpark, and getting a different feel for the crowds and seats. Syracuse cruised to another win, too. Final: Chiefs 6, Red Wings 4.

Former West Michigan Whitecap and Detroit Tiger Clete Thomas.

Syracuse University: While in the area, I always make time to visit the local colleges, especially when they have the prestige of the Orange of Syracuse. It is a very beautiful campus, and we also visited the gift shop/book store there as well. I didn’t realize how old the school was, but has some really stellar architecture.Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

2012 Baseball Trip-Game 1: Welcome to Chiefsville

Syracuse Chiefs vs. Rochester Red Wings

Alliance Bank Stadium-Syracuse, NYAfter almost nine straight hours on the road, we were finally ready to sit down and watch some baseball. Well, we weren’t thrilled with just sitting again, but being at a ballpark we’ve never been to before gave us a chance to walk around, explore, and mingle with the local fans. Alliance Bank Stadium is a decent venue, and the weather was perfect for a Mother’s Day at the ballgame. Don’t worry, I did call my mom and wish her a very happy Mother’s Day, and got her some souvenirs from our trip. Back to the game, it wasn’t a huge crowd, and the diehards can’t understand why people don’t come out and support the local team. I tend to agree, and think some people take it for granted. Living four hours from my ‘home team’ makes me appreciate the games that I am able to make it to. We had great seats in the front row down the third base line, just past the Chiefs dugout. The early game gave us a chance to get a good nights’ sleep, and be back at the ballpark the next morning…Final Score: Chiefs 4, Red Wings 2.

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

Giving Back

Baseball is a game for children of all ages, and on Friday the West Michigan Whitecaps took that statement to heart. Members of the team spent the day at the  DeVos Children’s Hospital, putting smiles on little faces that need it the most. One of those smiles belonged to eleven year-old Colin Bradley of Grand Rapids. This young man has recently been diagnosed with Leukemia, and has a rough schedule of treatments ahead of him. He had a fun day playing stick-hockey with ‘Caps outfielder Steven Moya and relief pitcher Nick Avila, though.

“I’m really glad they came, because I was supposed to have a field trip in a few days to go see a Whitecaps game,” Colin told MLive.com. “But I got hospitalized so I was going to miss it, but now I still get to meet them.”

The players really seemed to enjoy giving back to the community, also. The team gets a lot of support throughout the season, so many players volunteer during the summer, like first baseman Aaron Westlake.

“It’s a good opportunity to come and spend an afternoon with the kids and have some fun with them,” Westlake stated. “It’s a day to make them happy and have fun and get to know them. You can ask why they’re here and get to know them better, but they want to be treated just like everyone does. It’s fun for them, and fun for us and a great way to help out the community.”

I get sappy when I hear stuff like this, but I think it’s so important. I simply can’t imagine what it would be like for any of my kids to go through stuff like this, and my heart goes out to them and their families.

Photos courtesy of Cory Olsen/MLive.com

Whitecaps finally sink Loons

After two frustrating one-run losses to the Great Lakes Loons (2-1 and 4-3), the West Michigan Whitecaps finally upended their in-state rivals 5-2 on Thursday night. Already in a 2-0 hole in the first inning, they came back in the third. After a triple by Jeff Holm, Chad Wright drew a walk followed by and Eugenio Suarez double to score Holm. Wright scored on a sac-fly by Dean Green. Suarez on leads the Whitecaps in RBI’s with 19, with Green following with 17. West Michigan took the lead in the eight inning off a clutch hit by Jason King. His single drove in the winning run, and stopped his brutal slump.

“You never want to go 0-20, but everyone is here for a reason.” King told the Grand Rapids Press. “You make adjustments until something good happens. It’s just part of being a baseball player.”

Brandon Loy also contributed with a triple that drove in two runs, to help the ‘Caps win a rare close game. They have a 6-10 record in one-run games so far.

“We’ve been in a lot of one-run games,” Loy told the Press. “It’s big to get a win like this. Hopefully it’ll get us on a roll. When a team gets hot, it’s usually a game like this that starts it. It definitely gives us momentum.”

On the hill, West Michigan starter Brennan Smith had a solid night. He gave up only three hits and retired 19 of 20 batters from the last two outs in the first inning to the sixth inning.

“I had a rough start in the first inning, but I kind of settled down and threw my off-speed pitches for strikes,” stated Smith. “We’re used to playing a lot of close games, but no one is getting down. We keep battling.”

I hope this win get the ‘Caps on a solid winning streak, and they get above .500 and battle for the title. We’ll be down next weekend to see them play, so I’m hoping they can give us plenty to cheer about.

The whole Peanuts gang was surprised that Pig Pen was the only member of Charlie Browns’ team to make it to the pros…

Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press

Whitecaps split with Lansing

The West Michigan Whitecaps evened their record to 16-16 with the split of a four game series against the Lugnuts in Lansing. The Lugnuts, who are currently the best team in the Midwest League, won the first two games of the series by the scores of 2-0 and 4-3. The Whitecaps fought back to win the next two contests. On Monday, the two teams were tied 1-1 from the second inning on, until West Michigan rallied for four runs in the eight inning. Brandon Loy and Eugenio Suarez each singled, and Dean Green reached first on a bobbled bunt to load the bases. They scored one run on a fielder’s choice, and Suarez then scored on a wild pitch. Curt Casali hit a single that scored two runs, to give West Michigan the 5-1 victory. The winning pitcher was Wilsen Palacios, who improved his record to 2-2. He struck out five batters and did not issue a base on balls.

Tuesday’s morning game was an offensive battle, as the Whitecaps knocked a season high 15 hits, on their way to the 7-6 win. Patrick Leyland went 3-5, and hit a single in the ninth inning to put the Whitecaps in the lead. Casali also had three hits, while Suarez went 2-4 with three RBI’s. Green hit an RBI single in the seventh inning, tying the game at 5. On the mound, Michael Torrealba was the winner, retiring two batters in the ninth. Dan Bennett struggled, but was able to earn the save for West Michigan. The team returns home for a series with their other in-state rival, the Great Lakes Loons.

Photos courtesy of the Lansing State Journal

Ballpark Review: Pilot Field-Buffalo, NY

Next week I’ll be returning to the place where my Minor League pilgrimage began…Buffalo, New York. Almost 19 years ago back in 1993, I took in my first Minor League baseball game watching the Buffalo Bisons. It was during one of the best experiences of my life. I was just a student, but as part of the U.S. Customs Explorers, we were working security at the World University Games that took place in Buffalo. It was great being part of all of the events, and meeting so many people from all over the world. On our free time, we took in a couple of Bisons games, and even a few international games that were part of the WUG. With our badges, we were able to get into any of the events for free, so that gave us a chance to see quite a bit. I really liked Pilot Field (now Coca-Cola Field), and thought the site lines with the city were great.  I look forward to returning and seeing all that’s changed. Luckily, I came across these pictures by mistake while in my garage last week. When moving so much, you lose track of so much stuff, and it was pure chance that I found these. Enjoy this blast back to 1993, and in the coming weeks I’ll have pics of how the ballpark looks now!

The Blues Brothers were on hand to entertain the crowd!

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

Whitecaps go .500 in Iowa

The West Michigan Whitecaps ended their quick six game swing of eastern Iowa going 3-3, winning the series against the Quad Cities River Bandits and dropping two games to the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The road trip started out rough for the ‘Caps, losing 5-1 to the River Bandits and mustering very little offense. The bounced back to take game two, though, by the score of 2-1 thanks to a suicide squeeze pulled off by Brandon Loy. Loy layed a nice bunt between the pitcher and first, while Chad Wright, who singled to get on base, beat the throw to the plate. Warwick Saupold earned his very first professional victory coming out of the bullpen. The Whitecaps would also win the rubber match, in a wild game where they and Quad Cities combined for 17 walks, six wild pitches, and four errors. Jason Krizan led the offense going 3-3, while catcher Curt Casali had two RBI’s. Starter Tommy Coulier earned the win, despite his bullpen giving up four consecutive walks in the 9th to make it a close one, before retiring the Bandits for good.

The first game between the Whitecaps and the Kernels was rained out, but they made it up the next day, having a double-header on the last day of April. Another rough opener to a series, as the Kernels won the game with a walk-off home run in the 9th. Kyle Ryan pitched a complete game, but suffered the loss, while Casali homered for West Michigan. The ‘Caps would win game two, however, on the back of Patrick Leyland’s 3-run dinger, and Eugenio Suarezs’ 3-5 performance, including a double and RBI. Nick Avila earned the victory, despite giving up three hits and two home runs of his own. In the rubber match to welcome the month of May, the Whitecaps basically had their a$$#$ handed to them. Brandon Loy got the only hit of the day, a double, for WM. ‘One hit…that’s all we got? One G*% D@*^ hit? Don’t worry…no one’s reading….’

Photos courtesy of The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)

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