Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: That’s all she wrote for this season of Little League baseball. Not much changed from my last entry, as it continued to be a frustrating season for Brian and his team. The Diamondbacks ended the season 5-14, good for eight in the 10 team league. The D-backs also bowed out in the first game of the playoffs, so a very different end to the season as Brian was hoisting a championship trophy at the end of June last year.
The old saying is, that you can always learn more by losing, and if that’s the case then that is definitely the silver lining for this season. Life parallels baseball so much, and there are so many lessons to be learned. Sometimes you work hard and get a hit or make a solid play. Sometimes you miss one, and you have to put it behind you and work a little harder on the next one. Life, as in baseball isn’t always fair. You don’t always get what you earn, and sometimes you even get called out on a strike below the knees.
That being said, he still had a very good season, and I’m very proud of the way he played. He still hit over .500, which is impressive even off of a hitting machine. He improved on his catching and fielding, but we still need to work on throwing mechanics. Brian showed a better overall understanding of the game, where the play was heading and where to throw the ball if it came to him. At times during the season, Brian also showed signs of being a good leader on the team, cheering on his teammates and keeping a positive attitude, and I’m very proud of him for that. I really think he enjoys the game, too, as every day he asks if we can play catch or play one of our ‘Brianball’ games out in the yard. Fall ball starts up here the end of August and he’s looking forward to that, but I think he’s happy this small chapter of his baseball career has come to an end.
Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: Well, we’re almost a month into the season, and the North Oldham Little League season for the Diamondbacks isn’t going as planned. After starting out 2-0, the D-backs rattled off seven straight losses before breaking the slump on Saturday afternoon. Then they lost on a walk off in extra innings the next night. Brian went through a little slump of his own, although not very long. Being buried at the bottom of the lineup, he had a couple of game where he was 0-1 (yes, three out of four games during the stretch he only had one at bat). But we tweaked some things, and he’s back to being one of the best hitters on the team. From my calculation, he’s now hitting .647 this season. With all honesty, though, I think I missed a game in there somewhere, with all of the cancellations and re-scheduled games. Speaking of which…
If you’re wondering why we haven’t been to any more college or minor league games, the simple answer is that little league has become all-consuming. It’s not really the game schedule, but the re-scheduling that’s been hindering our plans to see other games. Even when we get a nice day on the weekend, more than likely the boys will be playing a make-up game due to all the rain we’ve had the last four weeks. Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s no place I’d rather be than watching Brian play, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to chill and watch a Bats game, or something. We do have tickets for this Sunday, but…. 90% chance of rain…
Back to Brian’s season. He’s been stuck in the outfield most of the time, which he doesn’t like, but has made the best of it when he gets his chances in the infield. He’s played some pitcher, second base, and his favorite: first base. He did well, and caught everything that was thrown to him, but only got to play there one inning so far this season. He’s keeping his chin up, though, and I’m teaching him to only worry about the things he can control, and do his best wherever the coach puts him. He had the chance to catch a couple of innings, though, but didn’t end up liking it. The mask didn’t fit well, and he took a couple of pitches in the foot. Maybe I can talk him into being catcher again later on in fall ball. He still has half a season left, and as long as he keeps doing his best and having fun, we’ll call it a win!
Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: How nice is this, that Brian is playing outside in nice weather? In April! Brian’s back in Rookie ball this season, this time suiting up for the Diamondbacks, and ready to pursue another championship. The North Oldham Little League does a great job promoting itself, and has a pancake breakfast and parade to kick off the season. Unfortunately, do to work, we were unable to make this early morning festivities, but he’s made the two out of the three games so far (Tuesday night we had tickets to WWE Smackdown Live that we bought well in advance).
The first game of the season the D-backs won 13-4. Brian went 2-3 with an RBI at the dish. In the field, he made some nice plays and had some good catches to pitch in defensively. In the second game, the D-backs held on to win 6-5. Brian scored the game-winning RBI in the fifth inning on his second hit of the night. He was 2-2 with two ribeye steaks. He didn’t get anything hit to him in the field, so he was actually mad after the game. A little ice cream cheered him up, though. I’ll probably kick out a mid-season report in a few weeks!
Affiliate: Chicago Cubs
Home Field: Four Winds Field
League: Midwest League (Single-A)
Notable Alumni: Justin Upton, Brandon Webb
Fun Facts: One of the teams we hope to see next summer is the South Bend Cubs. South Bend came into the Midwest League in 1988, as the South Bend Silver Hawks, named after the Studebakers that were once produced in the city. They started out as affiliates of the Chicago White Sox, and became a long time affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks (17 years!). In September, the franchise announced they signed a four year affiliation with the Chicago Cubs, and changed the team name accordingly. The franchise has won the Midwest League Championship on three occasions: 1989, 1993, and 2005. We were able to watch the Silver Hawks back in 2009, before they chanced the stadium name from Coveleski Stadium to Four Wings Field. The franchise has made some great improvements to the ballpark in the last five years we’re looking forward to also. The new logo was just released this afternoon, and I’m sure the boys, as Cubs fans, will be begging for some merchandise.
Lake County Captains vs. South Bend Silver Hawks (Midwest League)
Classic Park-Eastlake, OH: All I can say about Classic Park, is that it is truly a classic! We still arrived at the ballpark plenty early, despite a busy day in Cleveland, so we decided to play a little catch in the parking lot until more cars started to arrive. I really like how the parking is set up, with the large parking area across the street, and the have a bridge so fans can walk across the busy highway. I took a photo from the top of the bridge above. There was a line up to get in because it was free hat night, so we waited patiently in line and finally made it into the park. The layout and concourse are very nice, but I was disappointed the gift shop didn’t sell any team pennants, as I collect those and decorate Brian’s room with them. Our seats were right behind the Captains dugout, so we had a great view of the action. The Captains mascot, Skipper, waddled by a few times. I’m really not sure what he is, but he seemed to be pretty entertaining.
The Captains were taking on the Silver Hawks, who the Whitecaps just edged out for Eastern Divisions’ top spot in the first half. The Hawks were still a pretty good team, so the home town boys had their work cut out for them. It was also raining lightly to begin the game, but both teams just played through it like it wasn’t there, and we were right there with them enjoying the action. This ballpark has such a great look and baseball atmosphere, that we really didn’t notice anything but the game going on anyway. Unfortunately for the Lake County fans, the Hawks were off to a 4-0 lead early, and the Captains couldn’t get anything going offensively.
The rain ended up letting up, and it became an extremely beautiful night. Since it was a free hat giveaway, I thoroughly supported the Captains, and took a quick selfie between innings, showing off the new lid.
With the score still a little lopsided, I decided to explore this amazing ballpark a little bit more. The concourse doesn’t go all the way around the outfield, but it’s pretty close, which allowed me to get some decent photos from out there.
In right field, there is a wall dedicated to all of the players who have suited up for the Captains that are now in the majors. I’m sure this includes the franchises time in the South Atlantic League!
Out in center field, the Captain himself was trying to rally his troops! Lake County did finally get one across the plate, when short stop Ivan Castillo scored on an Eric Haase RBI. Center fielder Clint Frazier went 2-4 on the night for the Captains, also. Too bad for Cap that South Bend answered their lone run with three of their own in the ninth.
In all, this was a great baseball experience. A great ballpark with some great fans. The Captains put on a spectacular show, and win or lose, it’s a very satisfying night. Along with all of our other adventures of the day, this was a perfect way to end it. This one’s highly recommended, also, baseball fans. Final: Captains 1, Silver Hawks 8.
All photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
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.