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

 

 

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

A Ballpark Birthday

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League)

bpb1Fifth Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: I had the night off from work, rare for a Thursday, so I decided to take the boys downstate for a ballgame for my birthday. What can be better than a birthday at the ballpark with family, right? When we got to the ballpark, the team had a dunk tank out front, so this gave the boys a chance to show off their arms a bit and dunking a couple of the Whitecaps players.

bpb2bpb3The giveaway was an Oyo (like Lego?) figure of Whitecaps outfielder Ben Verlander (now with the Connecticut Tigers). Brian loved this, and had to get one put together right away with a little help from his Papa. The kid is starting to become a master builder, if there ever was one!

bpb4We still had time before the first pitch for Brian to play on the playground, also, while Trevor and I watched the Whitecaps warm up.

bpb5bpb6bpb7As a birthday bonus, the Fox Sports Detroit Girls were on hand to mingle with fans, also. They were nice enough to sign a baseball for my birthday and Trevor had his picture taken with them. The boys had their hats signed, but Brian was too shy for a picture. Stephanie and Angela each threw out a first pitch, too.

bpb11bpb9bpb10bpb8And finally on to some baseball! The game itself, though, only lasted just over six hours, with the pitching leading the way. For West Michigan, Jonathon Crawford threw five solid innings, giving up one earned run, one walk, one strikeout, and giving up only four hits. Will LaMarche came in to pitch three innings, striking out three, and only giving up one hit. Scott Sitz earned the save by pitching a scoreless ninth. Dominic Ficociello led the way offensively, going 3-4 with three runs scored and two doubles. Francisco Contreras was 1-3 with two RBIs, while shortstop Willy Adames knocked in a run, also. Catcher Grayson Greiner added two hits in the game as well.  It’s always good to have the Whitecaps win, especially on my birthday. I hope my schedule works out so we can make it back down this way and see them in the playoffs. This was a great birthday at the ballpark, and I’m very blessed and lucky to have spent the day with my boys and dad. We need to drag Lily down to another game this summer, though. Final: Whitecaps 3, Chiefs 1.

bpb12bpb13bpb14bpb15bpb16bpb17bpb18bpb19bpb20bpb21bpb22bpb23bpb24bpb25

Here’s a video:

Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball