Congrats to Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays on winning the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year award. I was lucky enough to see him play back in May while he was still a member of the Durham Bulls of the International League and even back in 2010 when he was playing for the Burlington Bees of the Midwest League. Wil posted a .293 average, with 13 home runs, and 53 RBI’s this season with the Rays. Just another example to get out to the Minor League ballparks when you get a chance. You never know what future award winners you’ll be witnessing.
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball
So far in this second half of the Minor League season, the West Michigan Whitecaps are certainly treading water. The good news, is that the Whitecaps are currently in second place in the Midwest League‘s Eastern Division. The bad news, is that they are tied with Great Lakes, Lake County, and South Bend for that spot. Each with an identical 15-14 record. More good news, is that they are only three games out of first place. More bad news, is that there are three teams in first place, all with identical 18-11 records. So, I say that they’re treading water is fairly accurate. Helping the Whitecaps this second half is infielder Eugenio Suarez. On July 19th, Suarez turned his 21st birthday into one he’ll never forget. He went 4-4 with four RBI’s, including a two-run home run, and reached base in all of his six plate appearances. To top that all off, he came through with a walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, as the ‘Caps rallied from behind to beat the Peoria Chiefs 9-8. He lined a 2-2 pitch into left field for the win, and was mobbed by his teammates for his efforts.
“I’m so happy because I dedicated this game to my father,” Suarez told MLive.com. “I told my father I was going to have a good game for my family, and I did. I’m so happy and excited because we never gave up and kept working and fighting for this game.”
He’s also been getting the job done in the infield, too. On the 21st, in a close game with the Burlington Bees, Suarez made 11 assists in the field. One of his assists was a throw to the plate that caught a Burlington player trying to steal home in the seventh inning, and that kept his team in the lead. In the third inning, he assisted on all three outs. The Whitecaps won the game 5-0, but it was very close (1-0) until they opened up the offense in the eighth inning.
“That is the first time in my life that I’ve had 11 assists in a game,” he stated. “I like a game like that, I feel excited when I can help the team win with defense.”
We ‘Caps fans like it, too, Eugenio! The team will have to keep playing tough, and starting winning more of these close games (they lost 1-0 last night…grrrr…) if they plan on playing in the post season. And with the teams so evening matched, every game will certainly count.
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball
Burlington Bees vs. Kane County Cougars: Our trip concluded in Burlington, Iowa, with the Bees. Community Field is the smallest Class A stadium in the country, but it is very intimate and well maintained. They get pretty solid attendance here for such a small community. The team and field are both locally owned, so no plans on this team going anywhere. We had good seats next to the thrid base dugout, but there was the protective netting in front of all of the primary seats. Still very close to the action and players, though. No problem chatting with the guys taking their cuts in the on deck circle. My colon and liver were both glad this was the last beer and cheesey brat of the trip. Luck here, too, to have a foul ball hit right to me on my way to the rest room. The Baseball Gods were good to us on this trip again. Final: Cougars 6, Bees 1. Best: Season tickets for box seat are only $270. Wow, that’s cheap, folks. Worst: No mascot present. The attitude seemed to be that it was a night game during the week, so why go all out. I wanted to see a giant bee, dammit.
Photos property of MIB
Quad Cities River Bandits vs. Burlington Bees: Our second game of the day took us to beautiful Modern Woodmen Park, home of the River Bandits. This ballpark was listed #1 on the Minor League ‘must see’ list, and it didn’t disappoint. The bridge going over the mighty Mississippi River in right field was really breathtaking. It had already been a long day, so it was nice to sit back, relax with my $6 brat and beer, and enjoy the game. There were a lot of walks, so we were able to scout many pitching prospects during the game. The weather stayed nice for us, too. It was hard to concentrate on the game at times, as we’d get mesmerized by the bridge and river. A perfect night for baseball. Final: Bees 9, River Bandits 6. Best: The view. Great site lines with the bridge. Worst: Pricey concessions.
Photos property of MIB
MiLB is teaming up with Fritos for the ‘Be A Minor League Baseball GM For A Weekend Sweepstakes’. Five winners will recieve
: round trip transportation for two people; double occupancy hotel accommodations for two nights; two premium tickets to the game; autopraphed Minor League Baseball host club replica jersey; a chance to sit in on team meetings; and $1,525 in spending money. Sounds like a good deal to me. I’d even just take th money…The choices for host teams include the Portland Sea Dogs, Durham Bulls, Memphis Red Birds, New Orleans Zephyrs, Las Vegas 51’s, and the San Antonio Missions. My choices would either be Portland or Durham. I contimplated not posting this, because it would lower my chances of winning, but since I never win anything it would be cool if maybe someone from the blogosphere here won it. Just remember your ol’ buddy here at M.I.B. if you win. The trip is for two.
Even if you don’t win, you can still probably afford to take in a MiLB game. During recent survey, Minor League Baseball concluded that for the cost of four people to attend a game is around $57. This includes two adult tix, two child tix, four hot dogs, two sodas, two beers, a program and parking. They found an adult ticket is $8 or less at 80% of the ballparks. The highest I’ve paid for a Minor League game is $13 for the AAA Indianapolis Indians last season. My tickets for the Single-A Peoria Chiefs this seaons were $5, and that’s for a premium seat. The average cost of a night at the ballpark ranges from around $67 for AAA to $50 for Single-A Short Season or Rookie League.
If you still don’t want to get off your lazy, well, ya know, and catch a live game luckily the MLB Network will be broadcasting some Minor League games as well, including the Triple-A All Star game. The first game will be aired this Monday at 11:00 am and feature the Gwinnett Braves at the Durham Bulls. The next game will be the Burlington Bees at the Quad Cities River Bandits on May 3. Figures they’ll be televising a game just two days after I’m there. Other games slated include Scanton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at the Indianapolis Indians on May 19 at 11:00 am and the Norfolk Tides at the Columbus Clippers on June 15 at 12 noon. Victory Field in Indy was one of the best venues I’ve watched a game at, and should look great on TV. MLB Network will be airing weekday afternoon games thoughout the summer, too.