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.
The last several months have been the hardest off-season for the kids and I yet. I wish it was simply because there was no baseball, but unfortunately, it has nothing to do with our favorite sport. Without going into to much detail, I believe a family is like a team, and when one team member is selfish the rest suffer. If there’s one thing this experience has shown me, it’s how strong and special my kids are. I know I’m the dad and it’s my job to take care of them and be there for them, but the fact is they’ve been there and taken care of me more than I ever imagined. I truelly believe that if it wasn’t for them, I’d be in some padded cell right now being spoon fed pudding three times a day. I can honestly say that my kids are my best friends, and I really believe that we’ll be ok…as long as we stick together. We didn’t just hang our heads, though, we kept busy and shared a lot of laughs together this winter. Here’s a few pics from how we survived our toughest off-season…Opening day is on the horizon, and I’m determined to make this summer one of the best they’ve ever had. They deserve it.
Lots of Hockey
Photos property of M.I.B
It seems as fall is in the air, and summer is just about done. It’s an exciting time at the Major League level, but in the Minors, the seasons are winding down. For the kids, school starts on Tuesday, so we decided to head downstate and get in a couple of days of fun before it all comes to an end….
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Windy City Thunderbolts: For the second year in a row, we end our baseball season with the Bums. My parents have season tix, so we just met them at the game, and there’s no place the they’d rather be with the grandkids than a baseball game. With their birthdays about ten days apart, we had them annouced over the PA system, which made the kids feel like celebrities. The Beach Bums are making a surge for their fist ever playoff appearance, so lots of good atmosphere for the game. The kids got to meet some of the players after the game, too, which is always a thrill. Final: TC 8, WC 4.
Adventure Island: Summer wouldn’t be summer without hitting the water park. The kids enjoyed the bumper boats, but they told us it was too cold to open the water slide. Hey, were from the U.P….nothing is too cold for us. You’ll also enjoy a pic of ol’ #94 here putting on a hitting display in the batting cages. I’m contimplating making a training video…we’ll see. The park here also has go-carts and adventure golf, both a summer must.
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Hampton Pirates: I know this is a baseball blog, but I’ll throw just a little college football in here, too. Going down to watch football still didn’t stop us from visiting the baseball field there just to say hi. Hard to believe it will be seven months before baseball is played there again. The football game was fun (not as much as baseball, but at least they have cheerleaders), and we were able to dodge the rain thankfully. All in all, a good end to our summer fun. Now it’s time to track the MiLB playoffs and plan next season’s baseball trip. Final: CMU 33, Hampton 0.
Photos property of M.I.B.
Playoff Push: It’s hard to believe, but after finishing the first half of the season in last place the Whitecaps are in contention for the final wild card playoff spot in the Midwest League. At his point their majic number is down to three over the Lansing Lugnuts. The ‘Caps helped themselves by racking off 12 straight wins in August, tying a franchise record set July 14-25, 1999. If they can hold on make the playoffs, it would make it six straight years for the ‘Caps and 14 in the 17 yr. history of the team. There current record is 34-29 and are five games up on Lansing.
Quade Takes Over Cubs: Former West Michigan Whitecap’s manager Mike Quade was named interim manager of the Chicago Cubs this month after Lou Piniella stepped down for personal reasons. Qaude managed the Whitecaps to a 77-61 record in 1996, and led the club to it’s first Midwest League Championship back when they were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics. Quade has 17 years and 2, 378 games of experience as a manager at the minor league level and seven years experience at the major league level. He’s in his eighth season with the Cubs, having served as third base and outfield coach.
Guests At Fifth-Third Ballpark: The second half of the season saw some pretty impressive guests visit the Whitecaps. For Tiger Fridays, former players Jack Morris, Mike Henneman, Dick McAuliffe, and Frank Howard were in attendance signing autographs. Also visiting the ‘Caps for soccer night was former Portage Central All-American and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsay Tarplay. She told the Grand Rapids Press: “My older brother played baseball in high school and at Western Michigan, so I grew up watching him. And I played softball for several years, so I’m a big fan of baseball.” Baseball fans are a big fan of you, too, Lindsay. I decided to post the pic of her over the ballplayers simply because she’s kinda cute..
Feeney Sets Record: ‘Caps pitcher Trevor Feeney set a new Whitecaps record Monday night, throwing 179 2/3 innings this season. The mark was formly held by Nate Cornejo who pitched 174 2/3 innings in 1999. If the ‘Caps do sneak into the playoffs, there’s a chance he might being starting game one as well. “I could either pitch five days from now or pitch the playoff opener”, he told the Grand Rapids Press. “It would definately be a big game and a new experience for me. I’ve never pitched in a three-game series before.” West Michigan manager Joe DePastino wouldn’t mind him starting either, and was impessed with him breaking the record. “If we can, he’ll start game one, but it would depend if and when we clinch. There’s a lot of stuff to be determined and what Detroit tells us to do.” The record shows improvement in Feeney, who threw on 151 innings during his first two minor league seasons. So far in 2010 he’s pitched into the seventh inning in 18 of 28 starts.
Quade photo courtesy of the Associated Press
Tarplay photo courtesy of the Kalamazoo Gazette
Feeney photo property of M.I.B.