Take Me Out To The Ballgame

With the baseball season all ready to go, time to tell you a story from a couple of years ago. Being in Vegas when the local baseball team is having their season opening stand meant that I was contractually obliged to visit.

Some quick thoughts.

It was girl scouts fireworks night at the old ball park. I first thought it meant that the fireworks were going to be made up of exploding girl scouts, which this being Vegas was always a possibility. Then someone was going to fire fireworks at girl scouts, slightly more believable but I always thought you paid extra for that. In fact, it was two separate things.

Having an Irish accent, even one as mangled as mine, makes you stand out from your normal baseball crowd. I got asked all sorts of questions by the people sitting around me, and they mostly seemed surprised that I knew something about “America’s Pastime”.

My favourite question was when I was asked if you could bet on baseball in the UK. I replied that like in Vegas, the UK’s bookmakers are happy to take any idiot’s money.

A big thank you to Rich and his wife who spent big chunks of the evening talking baseball with me. I don’t often get to talk about baseball with other fans, and I hope that I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself.

Big kudos to the man who decides on the music. Nothing from after about 1990. Seventh inning stretch to YMCA. Home team line up to the Rebel Alliance theme from Star Wars, the opposition to the Imperial March. There was even a Blondie hearing, and the fireworks to the Beatles. Kept me giggling all night.

Even bigger kudos to the old guy about five rows in front of me who was YMCA tastic. Rather than waiting until the chorus to doing the signs just did them the whole way through. It meant that when the rest of us did Y M C A, he did C A Y M. Pure genius.

I think I was in the made people’s section as there was another old man sitting in front of me who brought his own sound effects. The guy had about half a dozen musical instruments which he would randomly play. At a big at bat he would bring out his cowbell and as the tension grew it would sound quicker. My favourite moment was when an opposition pitcher was pulled during an inning he would serenade them with a rendition of the last rites on a bugle.

Our section even had it’s own happy drunk who provided his own unique entertainment. Even though it was cloudy and you couldn’t see any stars there were regular sightings of a half moon. By the seventh inning he wandered away to continue his losing fight with his jeans.

There were plenty of between innings entertainment, mainly involving the girl scouts. The strangest was an eating contest between three girl scouts and the club’s General Manager. The GM was about three times the size of the scouts, and unsurprisingly he won. Huh?

And now about the important things, like the game itself.

You know that you are in trouble when the starting pitcher gives up four runs for only one out, and then gets pulled. That is what happened to the pitcher for the Grizzlies. The only thing he could throw for a strike was a fastball that didn’t do anything, and he got rightly punished.

The 51s starter went six innings, and looked quite impressive. He probably threw his fastball a bit too much, but at 97mph it was too good for most of the opposition hitters. Considering what Noah Syndergaard has done in the majors, he hasn’t had too bad a career for the Mets.

The pitcher who closed for the 51s seemed to recock his wrist as he pitched, which is quite a weird delivery. It disappeared when he pitched with a runner on base, which is good considering it would have been a pretty big give away if anyone wanted to steal a base on him. Seemed to be a foible as opposed to something he had to have mechanic wise.

I didn’t know that Bobby Abreu was still playing. El Comedulce, or the sweet eater as he is otherwise known, came in as a pinch hitter and belted a base clearing double which ended up as the winning runs. Why can’t I have a nickname like El Comedulce?

Give the Grizzlies credit, but when given the opportunity they can certainly hit power. After going nine runs behind, they hit two homeruns, the second of which went flying over the scoreboard and probably ended up in the Grand Canyon.

I appreciate that it was only the second game of the season, but it seemed obvious even to my untrained eye, which players were ready for the major leagues and which ones weren’t. A couple of the pitchers looked too raw and you could see from their approach which batters felt comfortable with their surroundings. At the AAA level it is as much about having the right approach as well getting your hits.

My main concern was that I was told that the Stadium was not in the best part of town, and that it wasn’t a good idea to walk back to the city centre afterwards even if would only take about twenty minutes. Gladly, there were plenty of taxis outside when the game ended and I was back at my hotel fairly quickly.

For $15 it was well worth it for a good fun evening out, and more importantly, no girl scouts were harmed during the fireworks display.

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