Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: Well, my ex was actually nice enough to drive my kids down state so they could join us for our last game of the trip. I was so happy to be reunited with my babies again, you have no idea!!!! My mom was able to join us, too, for this game, and due to medical reasons this is her first game in some time. It was Sunday, so that meant family day, and the kids could get in free with their Crash’s Kids Club passes. We were also able to get on the field to get some autographs and pics with some of the players and mascots. Brian loves to see Crash and Frankie, and the players are great with all of the fans, especially the kids. It was still extremely hot, but I had the foresight to get us seats under the over-hang and out of the sun. The kids still spent some time on the playground, though. The Whitecaps fell behind 4-0, but battled back on home runs by Dean Green and Steven Moya. Kyle Ryan pitched for the ‘Caps, and did a solid job. This game was so much fun, and it’s just one of those days that you’re so thankful for. This was the perfect finale for our 2012 baseball trip. We have more games on tap for this season, but will start looking into potential trips for next year. Final: Whitecaps 5, Silver Hawks 4.
Battling the constant unpredictable weather, the 2012 Little League season is finally under way. We’ve started with some indoor clinics before we get the teams set and play outside in a week or two. Brian is just four, and will be tackling t-ball for the first time. The first year kids only play once a week and we’re just getting them to have fun with the sport and learn some of the basics. Trevor is trying to get back in the swing of things after taking a year off to play soccer. He’s excited to be playing baseball again, though, and we’ve invested in some of the catcher’s tools for him to be behind the dish. The last time he played he was seven, and in a coach-pitch league. This year as a nine-year-old he’ll have to adjust to having his peers throwing at him. He’s developed a pretty good swing, though, so I’m not too worried about him at the plate. This should be a really fun season, as I plan on managing Brian’s team and being an assistant for Trevor’s. Lily starts her girls softball league at the first of next month, too, so it looks like we’ll be spending plenty of time at the ball fields!
Not too many fans can have more fun at the ballpark than we did on Wednesday. The sun was shining, and we were more than ready to soak up some baseball. The kids got to spend the day with their Papa, too, as us taking him to the game was park of his birthday present. Not a huge crowd for a noon game on a weekday, so we had plenty of space for us to walk around, watch the warm-ups, and the kids had to play on the park before the game, too.
The highlight of the afternoon, especially for Brian, was the Crash Dash. Each game one lucky kid gets to race the Whitecaps’ mascot Crash around the bases. Lucky for Brian, his number came up and he didn’t fail. We got to hang out down by the West Michigan dugout, then got on the field for the race. Brian darted around the bases like a pro, and left Crash in the dust! He looked great on the big screen, too. Thanks to Lily, because she took some great pics while I was on the field with Brian. I was able to snap a few with my phone, also. I think Brian was pretty happy with himself after his performance, and we were all pretty happy for him, too!
Trevor was busy during the game also, as he caught a stuffed egg (yes, like a stuffed animal, but it was an egg) to give to his sister. He was also given a game ball by Jason Krizan that he is very proud of. Lily, Brian, and I snuck over to the seats that were taken from Tiger Stadium, and sat there for a little bit. Those seats are usual always empty, because they cost twice as much as the others.
In the game itself, the Bowling Green Hot Rods hit the ‘Caps pitchers pretty hard, nailing 18 hits for the 9-4 victory. Krizan had a good day at the plate for West Michigan, though, he hit a sac fly in the fourth innings for the Whitecaps first run, then walked in a run for an RBI seventh. He had a solo home run in the ninth inning to, but the team was unable to score any more runs. Dean Green extended his six game hitting streak with a bunt single in the fourth inning. He’s now batting .423 with two home runs. On the mound, Josue Carreno took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits.
In all, it was a great day at Fifth Third Ballpark to kick off the 2012 season. We would’ve liked a Whitecaps victory, but had a great time regardless. With the sun shining, a cold beer, the little guy running the bases, Lily’s stuffed toy, and Trevor’s game ball, we all went home happy. We ended the day at Chuck E. Cheese’s, too, just to make it even more fun for the kids!!!
Photos property of M.I.B.
It’s always hard to watch baseball come to an end in the fall, but at the same time it makes you appreciate it when it comes back the next spring. As much as we miss baseball during the winter, we don’t just sit around and sulk. Winters up here can get dull and depressing, so we really have to keep busy to beat the winter blues and make it through until the baseball fun begins. As usual, we take in a lot of hockey games up here. We live in the original ‘Hockeytown U.S.A.’, so between our Lake Superior State Lakers, junior and high school hockey, we spend a lot of time at the rink. We also do a fair share of ice skating ourselves, too. The kids are involved in their own activities throughout the school year as well. Lily participated in the youth bowling league, while Trevor played flag-football and wrestling. A special treat this winter, too, was that we were able to catch a Harlem Globetrotters game. I took Trevor and Lily a few years ago, but this was Brian’s first time seeing them and he had a great time. We were also able to see the Stanley Cup at a Detroit Red Wings Alumni game which was a thrill for the kids. It wasn’t just sports that held our interest, as we saw some rock concerts, too. I took the two older kids up into Canada to see Avril Lavigne (my hearts pants…), and saw legendary rock bands like Slaughter and Stryper come to town. We also spent some time playing outside, and over at the tubing hill blazing down the icy slopes. Do you think that scared Brian at all…No. Anyway, I might not win father of the year..I’ve been known to give the kids NyQuil out of a shot glass, and help them with their math by teaching them Blackjack, but we do have a lot of fun together. Plus, only a single dad can get away with a full size hockey net in the living room, and foosball table instead of a dinner table!
This season I thought I’d set the kids up with a little treat, and enter them in Crash’s Kids Club. Crash, the mascot for the West Michigan Whitecaps, is always very popular at the ballpark. Brian, especially, really gets a thrill out of a simple ‘high-five’ from the gigantic river rascal. The kids club isn’t a bad deal, though, even for a family who makes only a handful of game during the season. For only $25 per kid, they get a t-shirt, a Kids Club certificate, express lane to run the bases at every Sunday game, and free tickets to every Sunday game. They also have a chance to be randomly selected to do things like throw out the first pitch or watch an inning from the dugout. The younger ones will also have a chance to hang out this the PBS kids characters before some of the games (like Clifford and Curious George…two of Brian’s favorites!). It almost pays for itself, though, if we make it to even a couple of Sunday games and with the t-shirts. Of course the kids had to try them on after the packages came in the mail yesterday. But…does it look like ANY of them could act normal for a photo? Of course not, just as goofy as they can be. Oh, well, that’s the way kids are supposed to act, isn’t it? Other than Lily and Trevor giggling like Beavis and Butthead at the name of the sporting goods store….
Photos property of M.I.B.
The Lake Superior State Lakers softball team is ready to this the road this spring, as the first leg of their season takes them to California. Trips like this are expensive for small programs, especially since LSSU is the smallest state funded college in Michigan. One of the ways the girls earn money for the trip is the annual Take Me Out To The Ballgame dinner. This has also been a tradition for the kids and I, who’ve been going since Lily and Trevor were probably Brian’s age. We had fun again this year, and the kids Papa was able to join us, too. One of Lily’s favorite things to do is to put a pie in the face of her favorite player. They started doing this last season, and it’s been a big hit. A lot of the players already know Lily from the local softball camps and clinics, so it’s fun for them, too. The girls were also raffling off a flat screen TV and went out on the ice during the hockey game that night to announce the winner and promote the team. Pictured above is the team sporting their very cool new uniforms. The photos below are from the banquet, and feature Lily sporting her new softball hoodie and us enjoying our spaghetti dinner. Good luck to the Lady Lakers this season, and we hope the weather is decent this April for their home games here in the Sault. Here’s the link to the girls 2012 schedule:
Bottom photos property of M.I.B.
I have to say, I’m really glad it’s time for the Super Bowl. Really, I am. To me, it means the end of the football season, and we can finally concentrate on baseball. The fact that this years ‘sporting’ event of funny commercials and laughable half-time shows takes place in Indianapolis, does hold a special place in my heart. The city’s football stadium (I’m sure it has a name, I just don’t care) is right next to one of my favorite Minor League venues in Victory Field. This house of baseball mastery has been around since 1996, and has been voted the best Minor League stadium in the past. While there on our baseball trip in 2009, there was a lot going on already to get the city Super Bowl sound. Out over the left field wall, we witnessed constant construction on a brand new hotel big enough to house all the players and celebrities. That didn’t distract us from seeing some great baseball, though, or taking in all of the ambiance of one the best stadiums to feature the best sport.
Victory Field has been, and will be a part of the festivities this weekend, however. So far Dan Patrick has been broadcasting his syndicated sports show from there this week. Today it will also host the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl, and will be transformed into a nightclub tonight and Katy Perry will put on a show. I’d prefer Avril, but, hey, that’s just me. Making a beach atmosphere on a baseball field in February is no easy task for the Victory Field grounds keepers, either. Along with a million pounds of sand, there will constructed a concert stage, LED robbonboards and specially constructed bleacher sections. It’s basically a giant airplane hangar, that can house a beach, stage, and fit in 5,000 rapids fans. Below is a promo pic and a good photo of the preparation being done on the field.
Here are some artists rendition of the completed beach and night club. Looks like a lot of fun to me, but he grounds crew will have their work cut out for them getting the field back to being baseball ready in a couple of months. Last year, Victory Field was voted Triple-A ‘Field of the Year’ and head groundskeeper Joey Stevenson was named Triple-A ‘Sports Turf Manager of the Year’, so there is a reputation at stake, here. In all, though, it’s good to see this field get a little publicity, even if it’s not just for baseball.
Wow…It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since we were blessed with Brian in our lives, and team M.I.B. became complete. Time seems to fly when you have kids, and this last whole decade has basically been a blur. This should be a fun year with Brian, as he’s finally old enough to start tee-ball. He’s excited about playing and going to all the baseball games over the summer. He talks about the Whitecaps and Beach Bums quite a bit. Happy birthday Bri!!!!!!
Brian the day we brought him home sporting his first Whitecaps jersey:
Not one to miss out on an adventure, I packed the kids up and headed for Traverse City to a baseball card show. I really like the shows and seeing all of the cool memorabilia for sale. This kids picked up a stack of baseball and hockey cards, and the little guy got some cars and comics. The only thing I really collect now is the team sets from the places we’ve visited. It’s fun to keep track of the Minor League players this way. We were also lucky enough that signing at this show were two former pitchers from the 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers, Dan Petry and Dave Rozema. Both players were very nice to the kids and loved talking baseball. Rozema arm-wrestled Brian for his World Series ring (he lost, darn it), but they shook hands afterward anyway. Rozema loved to tell stories of when he was in the minors and how the little ballparks compared to the ones today. Petry was also nice enough to get a photo taken with the kids and we talked some college hockey, as his son played for Michigan State. We really had a fun time and a good trip. The kids Papa also met us there from downstate, so it was good for the kids to visit with him, too. It was fun for me to meet these players, too, as the ’84 team was a fun memory from my childhood. Lily and Trevor are to the age where they’re starting to appreciate experiences like this now. I hope we can make it to the show in Grand Rapids this February to meet Denny McLain!
Photos property of M.I.B.