Tonight I was able to attend Opening Night at Coveleski Stadium. I was excited to see some of the additions to the new park. They have started a dramatic overhaul of ‘the Cove’ to make it a little more fan friendly. Just a couple of weeks ago the Hawks tweeted a picture of the field that was completely covered in dirt. Tonight it was covered by field turf. The first thing that I noticed though was that the warning track was a dirt color, but was also field turf. I was wondering what kind of warning it would be if it does not feel any different? Maybe they have done something so that you can feel it. It is still weird to watch a baseball bounce on the ‘grass’ and see the black splashes as it hits.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I like a good scoreboard. The Silverhawks have really upgraded in this regard. The old centerfield scoreboard had been in place since the stadium opened. It had undergone some upgrades over the years, but was still out of date. Walking into the stadium I noticed a nice new scoreboard in right-center field that looked very much up to date. A nice new video screen is on the board with most of the information you need. I was excited just before the game when I noticed the right hand portion of the video board appeared to be separate from the main board. I thought that maybe they would post the lineup on this portion. I was wrong. It was used for yet another ad on the board. Of course a new board needs to get paid for so I guess I can’t blame them. One of my pet peeves over the years at the Cove as someone who keeps score is how poorly they announce and show the batters and pitchers. Sometimes a pitcher for the other team would enter the game with no announcement over the PA or on the board. Maybe they can use this new board to rectify the problem. For the most part they did a good job of putting the players up on the board. They did not put a few of the away players on it, but being this early in the season maybe they didn’t have the data yet.With everything going on I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here.
Speaking of the PA system it is way too loud. Trying to talk while anything was coming across the speakers was next to impossible. Part of the fun of going to a game like this with friends is to catch up. I felt like an old man leaning forward and saying what while people were talking. Once again everything has been rushed to be ready for Opening Day so I am very willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here. They have some time to tweak things. One thing that I really liked was the addition of the rosters to the souvenir program that they hand out at every game. I quit picking it up because it did not have anything useful in it after the first game of the year. I grabbed it today, and was very surprised to find out that the rosters for both teams were in the middle. This is a great addition that I hope they keep the rest of the year.
Oh yeah they played a game tonight. Opening Day is a special day for any club. For some reason though it really seemed like just a normal game tonight. The teams were introduced before the game, and positioned down the lines just like any other Opening Day. I just did not feel the excitement that I normally do at the game. Maybe it was the fact that many of the announced 1,627 were not yet in their seats. It was a very sparse crowd for Opening Day. With all of the money going into the stadium it would be nice if the fans would start coming out. It was a Monday though, and not as warm as the past couple of days had been. I hope the fans will show up to reward the club for this renovation.
Maybe I have not talked about the game yet because it was so ugly. When I saw that the starter was J.R. Bradley I was happy because he was the 56th pick in the draft last season by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had committed to N.C. State, but chose the Diamondbacks instead. He pitched in 14 games last year in rookie ball going 1-7 with a high ERA. This was his first start of the season, and he did not fare well. He gave up five runs in 3 1/3 innings tonight to get the loss. From what I have read he has plenty of upside so it will be interesting to see how he pitches this season. It would be great to see him start to put it all together.
Speaking of putting it together Keon Broxton is leading off for the Silverhawks again this season. Keon spent most of last season leading all of baseball in the triples category. He ended up breaking the club record, and tying the Midwest League record with 19. The bad part of it was that it seemed as if he did not hit a triple he was out. He has plenty of speed so you would love to see him get on base more. Tonight he went 0-5 and left some men on base. As the leadoff man you would like to see him getting on base and setting the table.
Seriously I will get to the game…maybe. The Hawks committed three errors tonight, but it seemed like more as they lost the game 9-8 to the Lansing Lugnuts. Mistakes just seemed to be the order of the day. Take relief pitcher Kable Hogben for instance. He came into the game in the top of the 7th and hit two of the first four batters he faced. Couple that with an error by the left fielder and you have the winning runs crossing the plate. Hogben hit three batters in two innings of work. You can’t single him out, but that 7th inning really did sum up the game very well.
I did get a new favorite SilverHawk player out of the game though. I always lean towards liking the catcher on the team, but with a name like Raywilly Gomez how can you not like the current Silverhawks catcher? First baseman Yazy Arbelo has a name that Hawk Harrelson would love, and runs the bases like Paul Konerko. I can see some good players on this club, and I hope that I get to see some of them several times this season.
Here are some pictures from Opening Day that did not make the cut
As I have been doing so far this season here is my scorecards from the game. I thought that I had finally tweaked my sheet to right where I wanted it, and had some copies made of it to save on printer ink here at home. Of course after I did I found a couple of things that will be changed on the next run. I added boxes to keep track of pitch count, but I am just way too easily distracted to get this done. I did make it almost a full inning quitting the pitch count. I will try again when I attend a game by myself. I left the game a little early tonight, but filled in the rest of the card based on MiLB.com’s account. Tonight I was asked if I am ‘keeping stats’ for a publication. I guess technically I am doing it for this blog, but keeping stats for three people is hardly the answer I want to give. It is really funny how people view keeping score. Here are the cards from tonight’s game.