ESPN2 is carrying the Triple A championship game tonight (yes, I know its a replay) from my old haunts, Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. What a pleasant surprise! The Brick is a relatively new, modern ballpark in the heart of a revitalized downtown area. If you haven’t been to Oklahoma City in the last five years, you haven’t been. They spent a lot of money putting in canals and renovating the old warehouse area known a Bricktown, where the ballpark is located. The Brick is a marvelous place to catch a game–there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Wish I had gotten photos when they were constructing it. Sheesh.
Thanks to all the well wishers who left comments on the Mets clinching.
— Michael Norton
It is unseasonably cool here in Hampton Roads, and the Norfolk Tides bats are even colder. Not that it would matter much if they were hot; the pitching is giving up a ton of runs. They’re already behind 4-0 tonight to Rochester in the second. It was 5-0. Mayday! Mayday!
Check out the pictures of the RedWing’s manager and pitching coach. No, there is no mistake. They are identical twins, which is even more humorous considering the RedWings are the AAA affiliate of the, you guessed it, Twins!
The RedWings also have a player with perhaps the best name in all of baseball: Boof Bonser. Yep, Boof. It is his legal name—he had it officially changed. From what I hate to imagine: what could be worse than Boof? I remember Boof from the Pacific Coast League when he was part of the Giants organization. Don’t laugh too hard, he led the IL in strikeouts last year.
Another PCL player now with the RedWings is Jason Hart, a favorite of Redhawk fans when I was in Oklahoma. Jason came back from surgery to remove a brain tumor. Glad to see him back playing ball again.
I was hoping to go to the game tomorrow evening, but just heard they’re playing a businessman’s special tomorrow afternoon. I gotta work. Go figure.
Well the minor leagues have done it. I’ve been telling my son if minor league baseball was smart, they would televise their games over the Internet like the bigs. Now they’ve done it, and it is wonderful.
Oh, you’re not going to be able to watch it, anymore than you can watch a major league game over the Internet. I’ve been trying for three years, and even with business level bandwidth, it just doesn’t work. The picture quality is barely acceptable (although the new viewer is an improvement), and the frame freezes all too frequently. It is pretty obvious to me they simply don’t have the servers to handle the load. You can watch archived games in the morning on MLB.TV. Just don’t bother at night when most fans are trying to tune in.
It doesn’t cause me too many problems, however. Most of the time I’m working while I listen to the game. I’ve learned to listen to the game on either the radio or MLB audio and watch the images, when available.
But what pictures! I can see the players, the uniforms and, often enough, the play. For the first time, I get images of the ballparks. Tonight it’s AutoZone Park in Memphis, where the Oklahoma Redhawks are taking on the Redbirds, AAA affiliate of the Cardinals. AutoZone has the largest video scoreboard in the minors.
Memphis is 1-11 on the young season and was swept by the Redhawks in OKC. Tonight they face Edinso Volquez, a 22 year old with a 90+ mph fastball. Brian Daubach, a favorite with the Tides last year, is playing first base with the Redbirds. 2B Junior Spivey was projected to be the starter for the big Birds, but a spring slump surrendered the job to Aaron Miles, who is hitting .300 right now to Spivey’s .250. Larry Bigbie, the first round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles who who was traded to the Rockies for Eric Byrnes of Down the Left Field Line fame, is expected to return to the Cardinals after rehab for a foot injury.
Not that the Cards need the help. They’re 8-5 and play 9 out of their next 12 against the Pirates and Nats who combined have 8 wins.
Speaking of Jeff Loria, owner of the Marlins, I noticed a news item a while back that he was speaking to officials in Oklahoma City and Norfolk about relocating the team. He once owned the OKC 89er’s, and he probably knows what I know: Oklahoma City is hungry for major league sports. From what I’ve read, the displaced New Orleans basketball team fared well there. The downtown area has been revitalized, with construction of a canal and conversion of the old warehouse area into restaurants and shops called Bricktown. The ballpark, dubbed The Brick, is new and thoroughly modern, though I must confess I prefer Harbor Park with its tugboats, planes and choo-choos. Nevertheless, if you haven’t been to Oklahoma lately your impressions are completely out dated.
When I moved to Oklahoma from California in the late seventies, communications were much more limited, and Oklahoma tended to operate several years behind the rest of the world—not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Cable and the Internet changed all that. I’ve been somewhat amused by the arrogance of some over the years who consider all Okies dumb. That parochial attitude itself is as anachronistic as the stereotypical Okies in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, which makes it all the more comical coming from someone who considers themselves somehow ahead. We all get our information from the same place these days. Besides, they loved Mickey Mantle in New York.
The Mick graces the front of The Brick, which I would swear I saw on the Redhawks site is scheduled to host the first championship of Minor League Baseball between the International and Pacific Coast Leagues. Can’t find the article now to verify it. Maybe somebody jumped the gun with the announcement. Wouldn’t be the first time. It is, after all, the Sooner State.
The Redhawks completed a sweep of the Memphis Redbirds this weekend. Would be happy, except the Tides got swept by Durham. Meanwhile the last two unbeatens in the bigs, Detroit and Milwaulkee, are no longer unbeaten. Oh well, guess no one is going 162-0 this season. My Mets are off to a good start, but they’re 5-1. Beats last year’s 0-5 start.
I watched last night’s action from a local sports pub with my son, washing down spicy chicken wings with pitchers of draft beer in front of a big screen. It was a Friday night and the crowd was a little rowdier than usual, but that, along with the smell of stale beer and lost souls, only added to the illusion of being at the game. A lady Yankee fan spilled beer on my son cheering for her boys in pinstripes. By the end of the game a couple of old drunks pulled up stools, sloshing their words and beer but not their perceptions of the game. There was even a Karaoke version of “We Will Rock You” in the eighth inning.
Notice how many times I used the word beer in the above paragraph? Can you tell I’m writing this the morning after? For better or worse, beer and baseball are wed. A few years ago the hottest topic all season on the Oklahoma Redhawks forum was the firing of Stan the Beer Man. I haven’t researched this, but I would lay wager that attendance dropped more with the loss of Stan the Beer Man than any player that year. He was a beloved figure to the fans, even to those of us who weren’t imbibing. The chant “get your cold beer here” is a part of the liturgy of baseball.
Unfortunately I’m too old for two days folly in a row, so I’ll have to watch this weekend’s slate from the sofa, rehydrating. Ah, well. The game is intoxicating enough, I suppose. The next few weeks looks like its going to be a real bender. Wonder if there is a twelve step program for baseball addicts?