West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League)
Fifth 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.
The 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!
As 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.
And 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.
Here’s a video:
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
I have to admit that 2013 was pretty good to us, and I’m probably going to miss it. We had a rocky start to the baseballs season, with some rainouts in Lansing (along with freezing rain, ice, snow, and so on), but after that it was sunny days ahead for us. It was really difficult to narrow a list down to just nine, as far as the fun things that we participated in this year. In reality, the whole trip through North Carolina could be listed (especially Greensboro and Asheville), it was so much fun. We have some fun things planned for 2014, but you’ll see how hard it will be to top our 2013 list. I am very thankful that we had such a fun year, and that my kids, and my dad, and I could spent this time together.
9) Meeting the Fox Sports Detroit Girls: It’s no secret, we love the FSD Girls here! They do a great job of representing our local teams here in Michigan. The kids and I were lucky enough to meet them at a Grand Rapids Griffins game earlier this year. They were very nice to the kids, especially Brian, who they signed a baseball and his hat for. With luck, we might run into them again at a ballgame next season, maybe at the all-star game or something.
8) Double-Header in Midland: Like I stated, our baseball season got off to a rough start. Here in Michigan, we had a horrible spring that was cold, rainy, and snowy. On this day, though, we took advantage of a rain-out to catch at double-header on a Sunday afternoon at Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons. The first game, or games, of the season are always special, and this one was no different. It was still a cold day in early April, with the temperature about 30-40 degrees, but we stayed in the sun and it was pretty nice. The Loons mascots Lou E. Loon and Ral E. Camel entertained the kids between games. We brought the kids’ Papa along for his birthday, and it was a great way to kick-off our 2013 baseball year.
7) The ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson Museum: I really loved visiting Greenville, South Carolina. The city made such an impression on me that I’m trying to get a transfer down there. Can you imagine a state where you can play catch outside almost ten months out of the year? It’s a very beautiful and historic town, with plenty to do for any sports fan. First, we dropped by Flour Field to watch the Greenville Drive, which was a great time. The next day was a thrill visiting the ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson Museum. The family that runs it is very nice, and knowledgeable about Jackson for sure. It was a fun experience that I highly recommend for anyone in that area.
6) Back in Battle Creek: It’s hard to believe, but we this is the first game we’ve seen in Battle Creek since the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays packed their bags and moved up to Midland. We were down here in 2010, but got rained out, unfortunately. This is where it all began, though, here at C.O. Brown Stadium. The start of the baseball trip, and my love for minor league baseball. This was the kids first game here, too, as well as the opportunity to see the Battle Creek Bombers in the Northwoods League. The day itself was special, because we were able to spend some quality time with family down there. Plenty of family was in attendance to see me throw out the first pitch, too (a beautiful strike, by the way). Lily and Trevor really enjoyed trying out their Twinkie Dogs, as well. It was super hero night, and Brian was able to chase the costumed staff across the field between innings with the other kids. He also participated in an on-field game that he did great at. This was all-around one of the best baseball days anyone could ask for.
5) Star Wars Night: Well, this will probably make the list every year. This year we were back in West Michigan for the Whitecaps game. There were plenty of characters on hand from that galaxy far, far, away to entertain us this year, too. We were able to get pictures with Boba Fett and all the Imperial Stormtroopers, as well as Darth Vader himself. All the kids got lightsabers, and Brian didn’t have any trouble finding other kids to play with. After the game, the lights went out and we enjoyed the fireworks as this special night came to an end.
4) Running the Bases: Being on the field is always fun, and Brian was able to do a lot of that this summer. As mentioned in #6, he was able to run through the outfield and do a race in Battle Creek. Along with that, he ran the bases at the Loons game in Midland, and the Beach Bums game in Traverse City. The kid is a little speed demon, and he had to slow down so not to lap some of the other kids. As a parent, it’s so much fun to watch your kids having such a good time. At least having some baseball experience under his belt, he knows which way to go.
3) Training for Trevor: Despite a shoulder injury that kept him out half of his Little League season, Trevor was able to take part in a couple of baseball clinics. The first one was put on by Major League Baseball Alumni. Former players like Doug Mirabelli, Roger Mason, Dennis Rasmussen, and Rob Ellis were there and did a great job teaching the kids. They were all very patient and helped many of the kids one-on-one. The second clinic was the Beach Bums Baseball Academy in Traverse City. Trevor was able to learn first hand from the Bums’ players and coaches. He was a little limited to what he could do due to his shoulder, but still had a great time. I wish they had stuff like this when I was a kid.
2) The Durham Bulls Experience: Seeing the Durham Bulls was on my baseball bucket list for a long time, and now I can finally cross that off. The Bulls really don’t disappoint, either. It was a beautiful day, and a wonderful game to watch. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park is an amazing place to watch a baseball game, and seeing the Bulls during the 25th anniversary of the movie Bull Durham was an awesome experience. The Bulls have to be one of the most recognized baseball logos in minor league history due to the movie, and a game here should be on every fan’s bucket list. We even visited the old ballpark where they filmed the movie, and they still use it for local games.
1) Coaching the Boys: Yeah, this one is personal. Being able to coach my kids in baseball is one of the highlights of my life, not just this year. Lily decided to take a year off, and I really missed watching her play. The boys had a fun season, though, even with Trevor’s injury. Brian made some big improvements, and is hitting the ball better than any five-year-old should. The kid has a rocket arm, too. Being at the local ball fields three or four nights a week is something I’m truly grateful for.
It’s that time of year again, when sports fans relish the opportunity to watch multiple events all through the month of April. For Tigers fans, and fans of all the Detroit sports, it’s a special time also. With the Tigers season just beginning, the Red Wings vying for yet another play off run, and the Pistons, well, I’m not sure what they’ve been doing, but I’ll root for them anyway. Helping spread the joy of Detroit sports are the lovely Fox Sports Detroit Girls. This year Lauren is joined by newcomers Stephanie and Brittney, who are doing a great job representing our sports teams. This is April in the ‘D’, and it’s a great time for me to watch baseball and hockey. I’m hoping the Tigers get on track, and start playing like a premiere team, but I’m grateful just to be watching baseball at this point.
I always enjoy visiting Grand Rapids, but usually its to see the West Michigan Whitecaps play some baseball. Obviously, there’s no way baseball can be played in the crap weather Michigan is experiencing this time of year, so we watched the next best thing…minor league hockey. It was a perfect day to watch the Grand Rapids Griffins defend their home ice against the San Antonio Rampage. The kids absolutely loved Van Andel Arena, and Grand Rapids as a whole. As the second biggest city in the state, it’s a little more interesting than anything in the U.P. It was a great hockey game as the Griffins won 7-3 with five power-play goals. We even saw a penalty shot in the game. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get the kids down to see the Griffins. Maybe because there is so much hockey up here, it never crossed my mind to travel to see it. We had so much fun, this will be and annual trip for us now. The Griffins play in the American Hockey League, which is equivelent to Triple-A in baseball. Grand Rapids has so much else to offer, too, as we also went to the Van Andel Museum and saw the Titanic relics exhibit. The kids were in ‘awe’ of the whole museum, and the Titanic display was amazing.
A little extra bonus to our trip…ok, this was the highlight…meeting the newest Fox Sports Detroit Girls, Stephanie and Brittney! The girls were extremely nice to the kids, and signed autographs for them. Brian played shy during the photo, but they still signed a baseball and his Whitecaps hat. Trevor wasn’t feeling well at first, but caught up them later during the game for a pic. The FSD Girls were more than happy to get another picture and chat with us for a while. We may have talked them into going to the Crosstown Showdown in Lansing on April 11th, but I hope we get to meet them at a Whitecaps game this summer!
Here’s a video the Griffins released on their YouTube channel featuring the FSD Girls! See us at the :55 mark:
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Yesterday was Allison’s last official day as a Fox Sports Detroit Girl. She’s out in California now, and no doubt she will be successful in everything she does. We here a M.I.B. wanted to say ‘thank you’, and wish her all the best. She and Lauren have done a great job representing Detroit sports and the state of Michigan. Allison was also one of the few Fox Sport girls chosen to attend last year’s MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City. She’s already had an un-credited cameo in Iron Man 2, and rumor mill has it she’s dating Captain America himself, Chris Evans. As a Marvel fan when I was a kid, I think this is pretty awesome. I believe that she had a hand in choosing her successor, though her and Lauren set some pretty high standards. All the best, Allison!
Photo courtesy of Fox Sports Net/Fox Sports Detroit/FSD Girls
Fifth-Third Field–Toledo, OH: Last Saturday the Fox Sports Detroit Girls blessed Fifth-Third Field in Toledo with their presence (not to be confused with Fifth-Third Field in Dayton, Fifth-Third Ballpark by Grand Rapids, or Fifth-Third Bank Ballpark in Kane Country….my god…). The Girls were on hand to help root on the Detroit Tigers Triple-A affiliate and help support the military, who was being honored all week by the Mud Hens. It’s a pretty fair drive from the Canadian border straight down to Toledo, but if I would have known that the Girls were going to be there, we would have tried to make plans! My window of opportunity for the kids and I too meet them is running out quickly, with the Minor League regular season ending in less than a week. My only hope now is for the baseball Gods to smile upon me, with Lauren and Allison magically appearing at the West Michigan Whitecaps game this Sunday…our last outing of the 2012 campaign. My only other chance for removing the Fox Sports Detroit Girls from my baseball bucket list is if they make it to a Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL hockey) game this winter. The Girls were a lucky charm, too, as the Mud Hens beat the Louiville Bats 5-1.
Twice within the last few weeks, Fifth-Thrid Ballpark in Comstock Park, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps, has been graced with the presence of the Fox Sports Detroit Girls-Lauren and Allison. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to make the trek south to attend either of these games. The first visit was on May 25, just days after we were there ourselves. Just getting back from vacation, there was just no way to get the time off work again, or come up with the funds for another trip. With this first opportunity missed, I was confident that the girls might make another stop in Grand Rapids. Return they did, on June 7. This time, with just one day notice of their appearance, and the fact that I’m coaching two Little League teams, we were again unable to make to the Whitecaps game! Two opportunities missed, but I’m confident that maybe we can catch up with them sometime this summer, or even this winter at a hockey game. Lauren and Allison are scheduled to appear in Midland on my birthday weekend next month, when the Great Lakes Loons host the Lansing LugNuts, so if anyone is looking for a present for me, I have a great suggestion!
Lauren and Allison are great ambassadors for sports here in Michigan. They are active on Twitter and Facebook, and often reply and interact with the fans whenever they can. From all that I’ve read from other fans who’ve met them, it was a very positive experience. Trevor follows the girls on Facebook also (big surprise), and Lily looks up to them as role models. It’s nice that they’ve stepped into my little world of Minor League Baseball, and I’m hoping I won’t miss the next opportunity.
Photos courtesy of Fox Sports Net/Fox Sports Detoit/Fox Sports Detoit Girls
Well, it’s now April first, and that can mean different things to different people. If you’re a prankster, than April Fools Day is the day for you, to basically get away with just about any jesting and not get into too much trouble for it. If you’re my dad, then it’s your birthday, so the kids and I called him to wish him a happy one (between periods of the hockey game, of course). If you’re a wrestling fan, then today was WreslteMania, and one of my friends from work even took the night off to watch it with his dad. Nothing wrong with that. If you’re a fan of Detroit sports, though, the calender turn means something a bit more…April in the ‘D’. A term dubbed by Fox Sports Detroit, this is simply the time of year when Detroit sports fans can unite, as it means Stanley Cup playoffs for the Red Wings and the beginning of the MLB season for the Tigers. I’m honestly not sure how the Pistons are doing, but the NBA probably has playoffs coming up, too. This should be a great year for the Tigers, and I’m anticipating a lot of fun baseball for the kids and I. There are three reasons why being a Tigers fan puts us a step ahead of other baseball fans, and, no, those reasons are not Verlander, Cabrera, and Fielder. The reasons are Lauren, Allison, and now..Megan. Thank you Fox Sports for giving us the best of the best to represent Detroit, and all of Michigan!
You can follow these girls on Twitter @FSDetroit_Girls
Photos courtesy of Fox Sports Net