Wednesday, September 07, 2005

that jacket

In The Upside of Anger Kevin Costner plays a former baseball player turned radio personality. Throughout the movie he wears a green jacket, the same green jacket, I swear, that he wore in Bull Durham, the one he pulls a ball of out and tells not-yet-Nuke to throw at him, hit him in the chest.

Whoever was responsible for that detail, thumbs up.

Monday, September 05, 2005

End of the Season Blues

The end of the minor league season always gets to me, even in those years when I'm ready for baseball to end, to cease being a place I "have to" be. Inevitably I shed a melancholy tear or two on my journey home from the last game, though this year it got to me on my way there.

This final weekend was a fun one. A former B-Met was back in town, with the visiting New Britain Rock Cats, his first return since leaving the team at the end of last year. And in tribute to him, they played his theme music when he came up to bat, "Sponge Bob Squarepants" and the crowd sang along. Last year when Gil was in a slump, his girlfriend's son suggested Gil have them play Sponge Bob when he came to the plate to break the slump, and it worked. As long as he kept hitting, they kept playing it.

Out on the field, the B-Mets lost the first two games of the four game series, but they came back on Sunday to win, knocking New Britain out of play-off contention. On Monday, Labor Day, the wind was definitely knocked out of the Rock Cats, but all the B-Mets regular starters played, with the exception of catcher Zac Clements, but sitting for a day game following a night game is typical. Reliever Tim McNab started the game, perhaps auditioning for a starting role next season. The guys played a good game enough though it was the last game of a losing season, 63-79, 13 games back in the division, tied for last place in the league.

People kept saying "see you at hockey," since many of the box seat people also are regulars at the B-Sens' games, but P voiced what I feel, it's not the same. It's not just the game, the baseball, but the fun of being at the game with the gang that sits in our box.

When she arrived, M had tissues to hand out in case anyone get weepy about it being the last game. It got a little silly as we would say "this is the last whatever of the season" through a couple innings. M had also brought bubble gum for us. Not to chew but to retaliate. First base coach Dave Hollins has flung his chewed gum toward the ground right in front of our box all season, flinging it four or five times a game, most of the time hitting the dirt, but a couple times hitting people in the front row, even landing it in one guy's beer. And unlike other first base coaches we've had, like Ho Jo and Roger LaFrancois, he never acknowledged the fans, never showed any reaction to anything during the game, and did a poor job of coaching first. We were all pretty disgusted by his gum flinging habit and the idea of fling gum at him grew until we agreed to do it at the last game. It took a bit of stratagizing to decide exactly when we'd do it, because we didn't want to get thrown out the park. Since the B-Mets were leading and the Rock Cats didn't seem likely to tie things up, we decided it would have to be in the bottom of the eighth. The GM happened to swing by our box during the latter part of the game and we though the jig was up, especially since he came back during the top of the eighth. AS if that weren't enough, the promo guy Bill, wouldn't leave the field when the B-Mets came up to bat, and he had to pass through the gate at the bottom of our box, standing between us and Hollins. Finally, after the first batter, Bill out of the way, some hollered Hollins' name and bubble gum, still in its wrappers, rained down from our box in Hollins' direction. He glanced over in our direction and smile, the first reaction out of the guy in the entire season. The only problem, I told P, was that he might think that the gesture meant we liked him.

After the end of the last game of the season, the team discards all the BP balls, batting gloves, a few hats and shirts, a bat or two, or even a catcher's mask, by tossing them into the stands. I got one that David Bacani, the team's most inspirational player (voted by the team) and most popular player (voted by the fans) threw. At the start of the game as David walked by, G called out to him thanks for the great season and what fun it was to see him play, and David thanked G saying he enjoyed playing for these fans.

The park saw its highest attendance during its first year, a championship year, and not surprisingly, the second highest was the next year. This season, a losing season, comes in third in attendance. Although the team might not have been winning, B-Mets players success was highly celebrated in the media, David Wright last year and Mike Jacobs initial big splash in the majors, which has to be bringing people to the park. The endurance of the team/park has to be park of the equation as well. People are now used to the idea that there's a ball game to go to.

Now that the season's ended I can finally turn my attention to the Red Sox and the stretch run.