Friday, June 29, 2007

Rochester Review - updated

Usually have nothing but good to say about attending a ball game in Rochester, but this most recent trip left me with two complaints.

First, Fireworks Night creates a parking nightmare and many of the drivers either have never gone to a game any other night and are clueless about how to park for a game or people panic. Friday night I headed to the park relatively early to arrive just after the gates open, expected the turnout to be larger than normal, but I was unprepared to join the line into the parking lot while still on the Interstate nearly a mile away. People must think there is only this way to get to the game; not only was the line I was in taking forever to move forward, but cars and trucks and buses were cramming into the line from the perpendicular streets. I sat at one stop light through six changes without moving an inch. The only time the line moved was on cross-street lights and then those people would crush into place leaving no space for through traffic. I jumped out of line and into the first parking lot I encountered. I had to hike four or five blocks, but I saved $5.

Maybe every Fireworks Night isn't that bad, the following night was much more reasonable. I didn't join the line for parking until I was only a block from the field. The Friday night crowd, filling the three sets of movable bleachers and the grass berm beside left field as well as spilling onto the berms behind the bullpens, was announced as the sixth largest in Frontier Field history. Together with Saturday night's attendance, Frontier Field had its largest two-day total. Glad I could help.

Liviana had remarked about the patchy condition of the field and I discovered at least part of the reason when I stayed for fireworks Saturday night. They detonate the fireworks right on the field! It took the crew 20-25 minutes to get the show set up and then they scorched the grass. All I could imagine was the apoplexy the current as well as the previous head groundskeeper in Binghamton would have if fireworks were playing havoc with their lovingly tended field.

The other complaint is about my seat. I usually buy tickets over the internet ahead of time--I have arrived at a ballpark assuming at least one ticket would be available to find the place sold out-- and Rochester doesn't give you a choice of seats. You pick which level you want and the website tells you which seat you get. I pick premium and it tells me box 110. Good location, just a wee bit off home plate toward first. The problem with the seat I end up with is that the seat immediately in front of it is occupied by an extremely tall season ticket holder. The guy is 6'8" or more and proportionate shoulders. I'm only 5'3" and when he sits down I see nothing. I've had less obstructed views sitting behind a post in Fenway Park. The ticket office should hold that seat for SRO games and/or sell it at a discount and clearly mark it "Obstructed View".

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

Where's Earl?

At the beginning of this season I checked the Louisville Bats' schedule to see when they would be playing locally so I could see Earl Snyder play; they play in the northern division cities (the ones that I could get to) only once a season. They were in Syracuse April 27-30 (Fri-Mon), Rochester June 14-17 (Thur-Sun), Buffalo June 18-21 (Mon-Thur) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre August 24-27 (Tues-Fri).

When I was looking at the schedule, Liviana said she would be in Rochester for a conference on the 14th, so we ordered tickets. I'd drive up, pick her up at the hotel, drop her off after the game, and drive home. A week before I decided, seeing the beautiful weather forecast for that weekend, that I would do a mini-road trip, order tickets for the whole series and book a hotel room.

Earl wasn't in the starting lineup Thursday evening. And I couldn't spot him on the bench. Friday morning I checked the Bats' website; Earl wasnt' on the roster. I checked the transactions page, nothing. I kept poking around until I located him: Charlotte. He played the night before for the Knights.

I went to Rochester for the weekend anyway, though it wasn't as much fun since the main reason I went no longer existed.

The good news is that Charlotte will be playing in Syracuse June 26-29, so I get another chance to see him play. I'm just glad I hadn't finalize arrangements to take a road trip to Louisville in August. Oh, I still would like to go to Louisville, there are plenty of things to see and do there and on the way, but the main reason for going this summer is gone. I'm tempted to make arrangements to go to Charlotte, but knowing the way things go, Earl would be sent to Tacoma while I was on the road.


Another great gathering in Cooperstown for the annual symposium. Not only did we have great speakers and great papers, we had great weather! It didn't rain (our last few town ball games have been rained out) and it wasn't too hot (my motel room was 86F overnight the year between rain outs).

Curt Smith was the keynote speaker, talking about baseball broadcasters, a lively, dramatic, feel good session.

Remembering Branch Rickey was the main plenary session, and it was wonderful. The panel consisted of people (let's say it, MEN) from colleges he was associated with including Ohio Wesleyan, Michigan Law, and Allegheny, institutions where he studied, institutions where he worked, as well as Earl Warren, Jr, Thurgood Marshall, Jr, and Ira Glasser, former director of the ACLU, and Branch Rickey, president of the Pacific Coast League, the grandson. We all know Mr. Rickey's story, creating the farm system, re-integrating major league baseball, and these panelists added depth and texture to the story. Glasser's theory of Rickey and Robinson's influence on a generation that grew up determined to contest discrimination was most interesting and thought-provoking.

Sessions I particularly enjoyed were on Baseball in the Classroom, suffragettes using baseball to advance their cause, MLB marketing to women (we like the players better if they're smiling rather than glowering in their photos on the jumbotron, how much did they pay to learn that?), arbitrators in baseball (Roger Abrams), and baseball players as popular musicians. I knew Tony C had recorded in his early too-quickly-ended career, but this presenter gave me the chance to hear him sing. (I need to dig up my Rick Cerone 45 to add to his collection.)

Barry Lyons was on hand, brought by one of the senior presenters, to talk about his major league career, surviving Hurricane Katrina, and his efforts to bring minor league baseball to Biloxi. Barry was happy to answer questions, but I noted a different sense of communication, of connection, when Dan Ardell, a Symposium regular, member of the expansion Angels, asked Barry about pitchers.

The town ball game was moved to Cooper Park, adjacent to the Hall, and while it was a fine setting, except for the trees blocking the view, it was a little disappointing as the tradition keg of beer was banned. Dinner, instead of a picnic, was in the Hall. Not just in the museum, but in the Hall itself. The Hall of Famers congregate in that very place for their induction weekend reception. Kind of cool.

Mark your calendars: next year's Symposium is June 11, 12, and 13. Friday the 13th.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Full Weekend

Liviana, Grace, and Mellow attended their first game of the season Friday night, a good game, B-Mets 8, SeaWolves 7. Grace has to take a picture of someone doing something they love and she planned to take my picture watching the game, but I think she got too involved in the game to remember.

G&P were going to be away at a family event Saturday so G offered their tickets to us, so Liviana and the girls attended their second game this weekend as well. That was a wild one, not the game but the weather. A tremendous thunderstorm hit just as we got to the park. We had to walk from the parking lot to the Will Call window to pick up the tickets with our heads bent against the wind and all the dirt it was flinging in our faces. The rain started just as we got to the window and really let loose once we were under cover in the concourse.

One of the improvments made at NYSEG Stadium this season is the Giant Video Board, which I have mixed feelings about. So far it hasn't proved to be as annoying and as intrusive as I have experienced in other parks. The upside of it is that instead of a hard-to-view tv mounted high above, where the spider that has spun her web appears twice the size of the players, the video board contents are displayed high on the white walls of the concourse, above the concessions. During the hour rain delay, they showed the live broadcast of the Yankees-Red Sox game. There are a lot of Yankee fans in Binghamton, but quite a few Red Sox fans as well, made clear by the cheering and jeering in response to the broadcast. Once the rain let up and people were straggling in to the stands, the game was shown on the video board with full audio. We all got to see Doug Mientkiewicz take a knee to the head.

Saturday's game was a good one, SeaWolves lead 1-0 for a long time, B-Mets finally tied it up, but a two-run homer by Erie was all she wrote. Liviana was picked to be the person "caught red-handed" drinking a Coke, shown on the video board. She got a 12-pack to take home.

Sunday it was raining again; I drove through another gully-washer on my way to the park. I flipped on the radio and heard the announcement that the start of the game was delayed--stay tuned, so I went bead shopping for a while. It was hot and muggy when I left the store, warmer than before the rain. I got to the park at the top of the third and decided instead of my usual chicken spiedie to have an angus burger. They grill 'em to order and I spent an inning waiting for my burger.

The game was less than stellar, B-Mets losing 6-0, only the fourth time they've been shut out this season. The one exciting thing was when Jeff Larish 1B took exception to the way Wilson Batista turned the doubleplay on him. Not quite sure what happened out there, but both benches started to empty before everyone was hustled back to their respective dugouts, both managers were talked to by the home plate umpire and the B-Mets' pitcher was given a warning.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Stuff Happens

It's been a while.

I work in academia, in records, and May is the non-stop busy-busy month for me, so I barely have time even to glance at my fantasy roster once a week and get rid of players who have imploded or retired.

Speaking of fantasy baseball, I started in the bottom of the league, then blasted to the top, settled in between fifth and ninth, out of thirteen teams. My goal isn't to win the league, but to finish somewhere in the middle. Right now the strategy is to stay out of the double-digit range.

I got a start on my baseball tan Memorial Day. My left foot is two-toned because I was wearing sandals. As for the game, Monday was a cloudless day, unusual for Binghamton, and several players lost the fly ball in the "high" sky.

Saturday night before the game I was told the new left fielder Corey Coles was pretty good. He was the lead-off hitter for the B-Mets, hit a home run to start the bottom of the first. Yup, he's pretty good.

During Monday's game, he made a terrific throw from left field toward home. He didn't quite reach the plate, but the catcher had come forward to receive it and the Fisher Cat on third scored. Then something I've never seen happened: the catcher kept walking, not toward the mound but toward the runner who had rounded first and was well off the bag, almost strolling toward second. It finally dawned on the runner when the catcher, ball in hand, got within fifteen feet of him. It was a 2-4-3 put out, but I've never seen a catcher actively involved in a rundown between first and second.

Something I didn't see, but wish I had, happened earlier last week. The B-Mets turned a triple play in the top of the inning and hit a grand slam in the bottom of the same inning.

Another thing I haven't seen before I saw on last night's televised Syracuse Chiefs' game. The batter hit down the right field line and the first baseman Mike Cervenak (the same Mike Cervenak) went for it, his feet went out from under him but he managed to grab the ball and bounce it off the hard turf to the pitcher who was covering. My dad, watching with me, called it a billiards shot.

That turf has got to go. Syracuse Post Standard columnist last week wrote about ten things that the Chiefs should do to get more people to come to the ballpark. Reasons One and Ten were rip out that horrible, decrepit turf.