M.I.B. Prime 9: Our top moments of 2016

It’s that time of year, again, to look back at all the fun things in terms of baseball that we accomplished.  For the second year in a row, we missed out on a baseball trip, so the list won’t be all that diverse when it comes to location.  That’s not a terrible thing, however, as we moved to Kentucky this year and reaped the benefits of living in an area with plenty of college, independent, minor league, and major league baseball nearby. If the list was to 10, it would have included my birthday, where I was able to spend a fun day with my boys at the Louisville Slugger Museum and a Bats game, but we did other fun stuff that made the cut.  So, without further ‘ado’ let’s get to it…

27113264091_af7ed87b98_z9) Star Wars Night:  Star Wars will always be a hit, and this year we went to the event at our new home field in Louisville. The Bats host a decent night of space adventure fun, and the game itself was a walk-off win.  Even Boba Fett was there, who we missed last year, so it capped off a great night.

26878323724_3ce932d8ba_z8) Our first Reds game:  Our first Cincinnati Reds game was a great experience.  We took a boat from Newport across the river to avoid traffic and parking, and that avoided a lot of my stress of visiting a Major League game.  We got great seats off of Seat Geek, so we were able to get a great view of the game, and Brian got a game ball from Eugenio Suarez.  It was a hot day, but worth it to take in the Great American Ballpark in all it’s glory.  It’s an amazing place to watch a game, and although the Reds had a rough season, the games are always fun!

Brian with Crash on Opening Day
Brian with Crash on Opening Day

7) Whitecaps Opening Day:  Opening Days are always fun, even if there is snow on the ground, and the temps are more suited for hockey.  We wanted to get a Whitecaps game in before the move, and give my dad a fun birthday present at the same time.  Despite the cold, we had a great time together, and every trip we make back to Michigan during the season, we will always try to work in a Whitecaps game.  In a strange way, the weather was a fitting ‘goodbye’ for us.

25514363015_174ff8645f_z6) Our first Cards game:  Sometimes you go someplace that just feels like ‘home’.  That’s exactly what happened to us when we entered Jim Patterson Stadium for the first time in early March.  Before Minor League opening day, and while down doing some house hunting, we couldn’t resist taking in a ball game.  This is a great venue, and the Louisville Cardinals have a good baseball program, so this was a fun game for sure.  It’s hard to believe the games are free with the ACC being such a competitive conference, so no surprise they pull in some good crowds.  With my love for college baseball growing with every game, Cardinal baseball will be a staple in our lives for years to come.

28277767426_e810d1d057_z5) Y’All Star Game:  We lucked out, as the Frontier League All Star, or Y’All Star, Game was held in Florence, KY this season.  We’re pretty familiar with the independent Frontier League, spending some time at some of the Beach Bums games in Traverse City.  We were able to cheer on some of our Bums, as well as players from the home town Florence Freedom.  The game hosted mascots from the Reds and other Frontier League teams, as well as Jake the Diamond Dog, and Myron Noodelman who was absolutely hilarious.  In all, just an enjoyable night of baseball, and we’ll definitely make it back to Florence for a Freedom game next summer.

24397018583_b048aaffdf_z4) Loons Uniform and Logo Unveiling:  It’s not too often you are able to enjoy a baseball event in February, but that’s just what we did when the Great Lakes Loons hosted an event to showcase the teams new logo and uniforms.  Along with seeing the new logos, the mascots Lou E. Loon and Ral E. Camel entertained us.  Brian was able to get his face painted and took the mic to try his hand at announcing.  We ended the day by taking some cuts in the batting cages under Dow Diamond.  Not a bad way to spend a winter day.  I also wanted to add, that the Loons took their new look all the way to the 2016 Midwest League Championship!

27648864620_a34646e2d5_z3) Rose Number Retirement:  Everyone has an opinion on Pete Rose, and whether you love him, or hate him, he is without a doubt one of the best hitters in the history of this great game!  I met my best friend in Newport, and we had a great time at the ballgame, and seeing Reds legends like Rose and Johnny Bench in the pre-game ceremony.  Like him or not, I did get to witness some history. 14 forever!

28784300446_6fe06ef8b2_z2) The San Diego Chicken!:  Just like the afore mentioned Bench, I grew up watching the San Diego Chicken on the TV show The Baseball Bunch.  He is far and above other mascots, and the skits he puts on are flawless and amazing.  The Chicken has a magical presence that keep both children and adults tuned in to his every move.  He was nice enough to meet with all his fans, also, and definitely made another one in Brian.  This was an amazing night at the Bats game with the Chicken.

It's all about the hardware!
It’s all about the hardware!

1) Mariners win the Championship!:  Brian has really prospered from the move, but nothing more than what he’s been able to accomplish on the ballfield.  He was lucky enough to join the Mariners a handful of games into the season when we moved down.  The league down here is very different, and a lot more competitive.  Brian fit right in, however, and had a great season at the plate.  He was blessed with good coaches who pushed him hard but also let the kids have some fun.  Being part of this team was a great experience and I’m glad he was able to be a part of it.  The championship game was probably harder on me, but the kids were able to hang on for the win.

Looking ahead to 2017: I’m really looking forward to next season, and the adventures that baseball will take us on.  We’ll have a full season with the Cardinals and Bats to look forward to, and the ACC Baseball championship here at Slugger Field, also.  Brian will be playing ball again so we’ll keep tracking his success as he moves up a level next season.  I’m looking forward to visiting new ballparks, especially some others here in Kentucky such as Lexington and Bowling Green.  I wouldn’t mind hitting the road, either, for trips to Evanston, IN or Nashville, TN that aren’t all that far away, either.  Until then, I wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas!

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

 

 

2016 Pizza Bowl

Straders’s Raiders vs. Vrable’s Vikings

29745559314_de046287b6_zJim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY:  I’m still learning some of the traditions of Cardinal baseball, and a new one I’ve discovered is the Pizza Bowl. The Louisville baseball team splits into two squads for a five game series, with the losers serving pizza to the winners. This years series featured Strader’s Raiders against the Vrable’s Vikings.  The Vikings took the first two game of the series, and we were in attendance for game three.

30311183871_ee8495c0c7_z30397340275_17d56c1ea1_zGame three really looked like the Raiders were going to break into the win column, as they carried a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning. They were lead by catcher Zeke Pinkham, who hit a single, walked twice, and scored a run.  Outfielder Ryan Summers and infielder Justin Levy each had one hit and one RBI.  Freshman outfielder Ethan Stringer hit a solo home run, and Brian was able to snag that ball.

29765580493_a9c8dbaede_z30376205575_7f6895e28e_zThe Vikings made their comeback in the eighth inning on three unearned runs.  Outfielder Logan Taylor had an RBI single and scored a run to lead the Vikes offense.  Colin Lyman and Danny Oriente each added and an RBI, also, with Oriente hitting and RBI single in the seventh as well.

30100272180_e77afd2756_z29765591453_6218b86259_zStarting on the hill for the Raiders, Michael McAvene earned a no-decision although he struck out six, walked one, and pitched six no-hit innings.  For the Vikings, Nick Bennett giving up just two runs on two hits while striking out four. FINAL:  Raiders 5, Vikings 4.

Trevor snagged a foul ball, and found a UofL stress ball
Trevor snagged a foul ball, and found a UofL stress ball

This was a fun day for the boys and I. We also had a productive day, as Trevor got a foul ball and a stress ball.  Brian was able to snag Stinger’s home run ball! This was our last ballgame of the fall, as the team split the last two games of the series, with the Raiders winning four games to one. We look forward to the spring and more Cardinal baseball!  Also exciting news I learned from my buddy the Baseball Bloggess, is that Louisville will be hosting the ACC Baseball tourney next season, also, so I’m looking to get some vacation time for that!

30280806732_c0b9a041e3_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

 

 

Busy weekend in the ‘Ville

Black Cardinals vs. Red Cardinals

29150588283_4d9470422c_zJim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY:  This past weekend has to be one of the busiest in this town that I have seen since moving down this way, since the Derby weekend, anyway.  Since this is a baseball blog, I’ll be moving backwards and start with Sunday.  Brian and I decided to check out a little Louisville Cardinal fall ball scrimmage, and it was a lot of fun. Simply a beautiful day and there’s not too many places I’d rather be than a ballpark.  Granted, this was just an inter-squad scrimmage, and most may protest that these games don’t mean anything, but I disagree.  To the kids trying to either earn a walk-on position, or a spot in the starting lineup, there games can mean plenty.  I felt bad for the left fielder, who made a couple of errors, and we were within ear-shot to hear his frustrations loud and clear.  Take this for what it is, just something to do, watching something we love, spending time with my little buddy. Final: Black 10, Red 4.

29148286474_1580815908_z29150588043_c418590db9_z29663464912_7451f96c08_zNow, on Saturday, there was some kind of college football going on, and I guess this could be considered the busiest day of the weekend.  That’s probably why we stayed away from town.  I think the whole ESPN College Gameday crew was in town, also.  Although not a big football fan, I did watch some of the Louisville vs. Florida State game on TV, and was happy for a big Louisville win (63-20).  It’s always good for the town and the school, and I’ve never cared much for the Seminoles much in any sport, anyway.

29108810333_926131df20_zKFC Yum! Center-Louisville, KY:  Friday was a fun day for the boys and I, also.  This was both Trevor and Brian’s first WWE (I still call it WWF) show.  Brian was happy to see his two favorites Bayley and Roman Reigns fight.  It was a pretty good show, as the U.S. Championship, Tag-Team Championship, and Universal Championship belts were all defended.  I’d much rather attend a ‘house show’ than a TV event, as all they do is talk and you don’t see as much action.   We all had a great time, and will probably come again when the WWE is in town.  As well as baseball, Louisville is a decent place for a wrestling fan to live, also.  We have the local Ohio Valley Wrestling which is a lot of fun, and some other indy promotions in southern Indiana.

29108772143_96b51c53aa_z29108795333_920247c8fe_z29697842936_5a0f266474_zHere is a video of the introductions for the main event for the Universal Championship, Kevin Owens defending against Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn in a triple-threat match:

Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball

Kold in Kentucky

Louisville Cardinals vs North Carolina State Wolfpack (NCAA/ACC)

26949360061_f7db084c0a_zJim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY:  Well, I thought it would be a little bit warmer here in Kentucky, but last weekend was a little bit cool.  With cold, nasty, rainy weather blasting the Midwest lately, I guess I can’t complain too much, as I’m sure we have it better than others.  While the temp was a little on the cold side, the Louisville Cardinals baseball team stayed hot.  Hosting ACC rival North Carolina State, we were able to get downtown and see the middle game of the series.  I brought the boys with, and as usual Brian decided to head to the playground.

26923501582_497fb20fd1_zSo, we’re back in the outfield, and that’s where we watched most of the game from.  The first half of the game was definitely a pitchers’ duel.  On the bump for the Cards, Drew Harrington picked up the win to improve his record to 10-1.  He pitched seven innings allowing two runs, walking one, and striking out seven.   Zack Burdi can in to pitch the ninth and earn the save, striking out all three batters!

26412021364_d5d64025c9_z26497252404_ff178502db_z26828775970_c42e349e4a_zLouisville was led offensively by Brendan McKay, going 2-4 with an RBI.  Drew Ellis went 2-2 with a run scored and a RBI.  All the Cards runs were scored in the fifth inning.  Final:  Cardinals 4, Wolfpack 2.

27034461911_4e1484b31d_z27034463991_e2ac055654_z27034453401_bb4311b9a9_zU of L is currently on a 19 game home winning streak, counting there win over Indiana last night.  They ended up sweeping 10th ranked NC State, winning 2-0 on Friday, and 6-1 on Sunday.  They don’t have any more regular season home games scheduled, but I’m hoping they’ll host a NCAA Regional after the ACC tournament is over.  I didn’t make a video during the game, but Trevor and I did make it on TV!  I re-watched the game after we got home, and found us in the upper left hand corner:

26743746320_ef00a880b0_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

Cards tame Bearcats

Louisville Cardinals vs Cincinnati Bearcats (NCAA)

26779565196_91ca67bc00_zJim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY:  Brian had to make his first appearance at a Cardinals game sooner or later, so we just decided sooner.  Louisville hosted the Cincinnati Bearcats in a non-conference game, and this was a good chance to see our top-10 team in action.  Brian loved the façade of the ballpark, with the arc and the big bats (we haven’t made it to the Slugger museum yet).  We found seats for a little while, but migrated to the outfield so he could play on the playground.

26275622193_a2c336989d_zI could still watch the game, and got a solid panoramic which is always good!

26846029716_6c690a129a_kIt was a decent vantage point to watch the game, and the Cardinals were playing solid ball against the Bearcats.  The home team had their Louisville Slugger warmed up for the game, scoring seven run.  The Cards were led by Will Smith, who went 2-4 with a home run.  Colby Finch pitched in going 2-2 with two runs scored, while Blake Tiberi went 2-4 with 2 RBI.

26845988556_3a228b147d_z26880234915_0e2efd4e9b_zOn the mound, Kade McClure picked up the win, pitching seven innings, while striking out four. FINAL: Cardinals 7, Bearcats 1.

26880247215_54ec3027a4_z26607063630_7e9ebbfffc_zTo top the game off, Brian even got a foul ball, our first at a Louisville Cardinals game!

26737047711_7cb80d9373_zAnd here is a YouTube video I finally remembered to make:

 

Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball

 

The Grand Finale’

LSSU Lakers vs Tiffin Dragons (NCAA)

26587218406_02f6334ffc_zLocey Field-Sault Ste Marie, MI:  Going into the weekend, we knew this would probably be our last chance to see the Laker softball team play.  What I didn’t expect, is the school making the decision to cancel the softball program entirely after this season, and that is as of last weekend.  I do feel that we were fortunate, however, to witness the final games of the program.

26135931803_330df407fa_zGame one was a tough loss for the Lakers. Down four zip, the girls stormed back to tie the game in the sixth.  The rally started when Soo native Jenna Holt hit a double to the wall, scoring Lindsey Pajot and Carly Banchiu.  Alyssa Boucher then scored on a wild pitch, cutting the lead to one.  Kylie Durre then tied the game by surviving a tough pickle situation. Boucher took the circle at the top of seven, but game up the game-winning home run. FINAL Game 1: LSSU 4, TU 5.

26135898483_e5ddb882ff_zBetween games, the Laker mascot Seamore the Seaduck was on hand to entertain the crowd. Of course, Brian had to get one last photo with him.

Brian and Seamore the Seaduck
Brian and Seamore the Seaduck

On to game number two, the final game in the history of the LSSU softball program.  With the Dragons up 2-0, catcher Katie Martin hit an RBI single to cut the lead to one.  That would be all the Lakers got for a few innings, though, as Tiffin racked up a few more.  Kylie Durre hit a dinger in the sixth, and Banchiu added an RBI single in the seventh, but it was too little, too late, and that’s all she wrote for Laker softball. FINAL Game 2:  LSSU 3, TU 7.

26135888343_ec8d78a174_zIt was sad to watch that final out, and the girls were obviously very emotional.  The program has been very good to us over the years, with Lily, Trevor, and Brian all participating in their camps and clinics.  We in turn have supported the team the best we can.  Now, as we move on as a family, these girls must now do the same, especially the younger classes that will have to find a new team to play for.  So, as this door closes, new ones are now opening for all of us…

26135885513_2f1fd42376_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

 

The first in Four

LSSU Lakers vs Ohio Dominican (NCAA)

26739984905_3baa93d905_zLocey Field-Sault Ste Marie, MI: Last weekend the Lake Superior State Lakers played their first home game in four seasons.  With our impending move, it was good to see a game, and get distracted from life.  It was a little cool, as it usually is up here, but the sun was shining and the field was in good shape.

26495473982_d6aa613f92_zThe Lakers took on Ohio Dominican in a double header. In game one, Riley Durbano took the loss in the circle, pitching all seven innings and striking out two.  The Lakers were led offensively by Katey Hendershott who went 2-3. Lindsay Pajot added a double, Taylor Steinhelper had a single, stolen base, and run scored, while Teryn Williams and Carly Banchiu added an RBI each. Lake Superior scored three runs in the first inning, but couldn’t push anything else across after that.  FINAL Game 1: LSSU 3, ODU 6.

26673333271_4b78d51f63_zIn the second game, it was the Panthers who jumped out to a lead, but they never relinquished it.  Pajot had two of the three Laker RBI’s in the loss. Kylie Durre drove in Hendershott for the other Laker run. Freshman Alyssa Thayer pitched a complete three strikeout game in the loss. FINAL Game 2: LSSU 3, ODU 7.

26135945423_10a1685a74_zDespite the scores, it was a fun day of softball. Brian being buddies with most of the girls, served as their batboy for a game, also!

25982758954_7e253c4ee0_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball