Silverhawks Drop the Ball on Opening Night

The home team bullpen home plate on the 'dirt'

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. Continue reading

My First Time

Twenty five years ago today my father took me to my first baseball game. By the time I first set foot inside Old Comiskey Park I was already a baseball junkie. The great finish by the 1983 White Sox helped get me started. Seeing the team at the winter caravan which came to my town that off season really started me loving this team. I even won one of the door prizes which was an autographed ball by Minnie Minoso, Mike Squires, Ron Kittle, The Hawk, and Ribbie and Rubarb. 1984 was the first year that I started collecting baseball cards as well. Of course all of the cards that I really wanted had White Sox players on them. My summer was spent watching the White Sox on a small black and white TV that got WFLD in good enough to watch. This was in the days of rabbit ears and dials helping you fine tune a station. If you would have asked my nine year old self what the term HD I would have told you heavy duty. Just a couple of days before I turned nine though my father took me to see Comiskey Park which was in its 75th year. I normally will not post pictures that are not my own, but since I did not have a camera that day I had to make due with other peoples. Things will be back to normal tomorrow though. Continue reading

Late Fireworks at the Cove

Today I was in South Bend to see the Lansing Lugnuts and the South Bend Silverhawks play a Midwest League game. Except for A.J. Jiminez hitting a solo home run in the 4th inning it was a quiet game. A.J. is shown above fouling off the pitch before the home run. The score was 2-0 Lansing, and it looked like both pitchers were in control. That is until the bottom of the eighth. The Silverhawks scored once to cut the score to 2-1. Randy Rodriguez came in the game to pitch the top of the ninth for the Silverhawks, and started getting hit hard right away. Jimenez smoked the first ball to centerfield, and would have had extra bases if not for Keon Broxton. That kid can cover some ground out in center. The next batter Brad Glenn took a ball out of the stadium in left for a home run. Another long out was recorded before the ninth hitter in the lineup, Oliver Dominguez, hit another shot. Rodriguez finally got out of the inning, but the Hawks were down 4-1 by the time he was done. David Nick closed out the scoring by hitting a two run shot for the Hawks in the bottom of the ninth. His two out home run that hit the church in left brought the Hawks to within one, but they could not pull the game out. They fall to 23-27 on the season. Continue reading

Another Great Day at the Cell

Last night at the Cell I was worried. As I waited to get in the rain started. This is not a terrible thing in July, but in May when the temperature is in the low 40′s it really can make things worse. As I walked down towards the field they were putting the tarp on the field. They pulled it on and off the field multiple times. The Sodfather was even having trouble trying to figure out if it was going to rain or not. Knowing how quickly things can change next to the lake I was prepared. I had on enough clothes to keep me warm in December (which it was close to temp wise). The only good thing to come of the weather was the fact that it got me a great seat for the game. I had an upper deck ticket, but used my trick to get into the lower deck. Once there I sat in straight up from first base. I talked to the usher who asked me if that was my seat. I just explained that it was raining, and I was just staying dry there. The usher said that I could stay there until I was kicked out. I lasted all nine innings in that seat. What a great view to see Peavy pitch. Continue reading

My 25 Goals For the 2010 Baseball Season

This year marks the 25th year that I have been attending Major League Baseball games. At first my attendance was sparse. I went when my father got free tickets from his company. We all know now that I will go whenever I can get a chance. I love lists. Lists are how you can look at things. So as this season progresses I will have a few lists on here. The first of those will be my goal sheet for this 25th anniversary season. Here are the things that I would like to accomplish during the 2010 season. Some of them have already been checked off. Some of them might take some work to get done. I will have to look at this at the end of the year to see how I fared. Here is the list:

  1. See the Arizona Diamondbacks play (5/1/2010) – Arizona is one of the two Major League teams that I have not seen play coming into 2010.
  2. See the Colorado Rockies play (5/17) – The other team that I have yet to see in person.
  3. Attend the White Sox game against the Orioles on 8/25/2010 – This is the day 25 years later that I attended my first baseball game. The stadium may have changed, but I still get chills when I walk inside.
  4. See the Toronto Blue Jays play – (5/7) The Blue Jays were the first opponent that I saw the Sox play.
  5. See Brian Bannister pitch (5/5/2010) – Brian is the son of former Sox hurler Floyd Bannister who pitched in the first game that I saw.
  6. See a game at U.S. Cellular Field (4/5/2010) – I checked off a few goals on Opening Day. This was one of them.
  7. See a game at Wrigley Field (5/1/2010) – This may be the territory of the enemy, but it is a landmark park in my own backyard. I also have some great memories inside this stadium.
  8. Attend Opening Day (4/5/2010) – This should be a goal every season.
  9. Attend a game on my birthday – I also try to do this every season. This year the Sox are in town, and they are playing the Yankees.
  10. Attend Frank Thomas day at the Cell – The day after my birthday (8/29/2010) they will be honoring the Big Hurt. I guess I will have to make it two in a row at the Cell.
  11. Attend a Red Sox game – I always enjoy games between the two Sox clubs. I would love to make this the first time for Fenway, but I will probably have to settle for the September matchup at the Cell.
  12. Attend a game at Miller Park – This stadium just north of us on 94 is a great one to watch baseball in.
  13. Attend a game at Comerica Park – I was here in 2003, but did not take my camera. Last season I visited all the parks that I did not take pictures at besides this one. We cross it off in 2010.
  14. Visit a new Minor League stadium – While MLB baseball is fun, MiLB baseball can be just as much fun. I need to find a new stadium to enjoy the action in this year.
  15. See Lyle Overbay play (5/7) – While I was in college I attended many South Bend Silverhawk games. Lyle was a star on those teams. He now plays for the Blue Jays.
  16. Attend the Midwest League All Star game – This year it is just down the road in Fort Wayne. What better way to see some of the young talent in the game?
  17. See an Angels game (5/20) – With the World Series year being five years ago I would love to see them play their ALCS opponent.
  18. See an Astros game – After visiting their stadium this season I wanted to see the team play in person. They were also the team we beat in 2005 to win it all.
  19. Attend at least nine games at the Cell this season – If I can accomplish this I will have attended 50 games at the Cell. It took a while for the first 50, but I bet the next 50 comes much easier.
  20. Road trip to a new MLB stadium – I have knocked out most of the stadiums near me. Although my brother does get married this season in Colorado when the Rockies are in town.
  21. See a game on 5/22/2010 – For some reason I seem to see a game every two years on this date. So this being an even numbered year it is time to see a game. I really have a problem huh?
  22. See a game against the Tigers, Royals (5/5/2010), Twins (4/11/2010), and the Indians (4/5/2010) – This one involves seeing all the AL Central teams.
  23. Snag a ball during a game (5/4/2010) – I have plenty of balls that I acquired during batting practice. This year I want to get one during a game. Update: I snagged a foul ball in the 4th inning of a game between Northwestern and Valpo. With less than 100 fans at the game it increased my odds a bit.
  24. Ballhawk at Wrigley Field – I have always wanted to just take the train up to Wrigley with no ticket and ballhawk. I guess this will have to be the year. No ticket required.
  25. Get a ball autographed by both Rich Dotson and Carlton Fisk – I met both of these guys at my first game in 1985. The both autographed my program. I would love to get a ball autographed by both players for my collection.

If I can do all of this I would have to say that I will have had a great year. We will see what happens over the course of the season

Silverhawks Play Chicken With Lugnuts

For nine innings tonight the South Bend Silverhawks played chicken with the Lansing Lugnuts. Neither team wanted to win the game. I decided to go to the game to see the Famous (San Diego) Chicken in action. It was also a chance to see two Toronto farm teams (Lansing and Las Vegas) in the same week. I need to get my priorities in line. The beginning of the game was all Lansing. When Tyler Pastonicky hit his first home run of the season in the fourth they had a 4-1 lead. Tyler is shown to the left with an onlooker on top of the dugout. They jumped up 2-0 in the first inning off of Silverhawk starter Randy Rodriguez. He only lasted four innings allowing all four of Lansings runs. He was really getting hit hard. It is amazing he only gave up the four runs. In the fourth the Silverhawks had Jordan Meaker warming up. He was also up earlier in the game. He came out to pitch the fifth, but left the mound after warming up. There was a small delay while the team was given time to warm up Yonata Ortega. The closest that they came to scoring another run was in the 7th when A.J. Pollock made yet another great grab with two outs that saved a run. The chicken even showed him a sign that said ‘Employee of the Month’ as he came into the dugout.

The Silverhawks on the other hand wasted a lot of chances during the game. Clayton Conner who was only playing his second game for the Hawks stranded a few men on the basepaths. It was only fitting then that he would win the game in the 10th on a single to left field. Maybe it was the break he was given during the game that made all the difference. The Chicken gave him a magazine, a bottle of water, and a chair before the top of the seventh. He then took a rest instead of warming up the infield. Maybe that extra energy was the difference. The game would not have gotten to that point though if Alfredo Marte had not hit a three run home run in the sixth. He seems to be a hit or miss player, and he got all of this pitch. He sent the ball out of the park in left field. I have not seen too many balls leave the stadium at the Cove. Somehow this team is starting to win some games. It may be too little too late though as the season is winding down. They have been exciting to watch lately though.

I will have a little more on the Chicken’s visit to the Cove tomorrow.

The Rail to Wrigley

Yesterday I attended the ‘Road to Wrigley’ at Wrigley Field. It seemed weird to me that the game was called the ‘Road to Wrigley.’ What road? You are playing at Wrigley. It should have been named something along those lines. It was also weird to me because I took a couple of trains to get to the game. So for me it was the Rail to Wrigley. For me that is the only way to get to Wrigley Field. I really cannot stand that drive for some reason. It also allowed me to catch up on some reading. I have been reading “When Chicago Ruled Baseball” about the 1906 World Series between the Sox and the Cubs. It was really cool to finish the book while at the stadium.
I walked into the stadium right after the gates opened wondering if I could snag a ball. I could not go to the bleachers so for some reason I just stayed right where I came in by the right field foul pole. I stood along the wall looking right down the foul line with an aisle behind me. Within minutes a ball came just to my left in the stands. I took off after it, but did not get it before it bounced. Of course it bounced straight down to where I was standing, and a kid picked it up. About ten minutes later the same thing happened. Both times if I had just stayed where I was I would have had a ball. Two kids got them instead so I guess that is okay. No balls once again though. After the first two strokes of luck nothing else was hit our way. I had no chance for a throw up with all the kids around. When I got to my seat a bird named Birdzerk threw some soft balls into the crowd. I leaned back in my seat over the railing and snagged one. I caught a ball, but it was a kids ball! I did the right thing, and gave it to the kid in front of me right away.
Speaking of my seats, they were awesome. I was ten rows behind the Cubs dugout in line with third base. Of course I took way too many pictures, but when you have that great of seats you have to. The majority of the fans were Cubs fans of course, but you would expect that with the game being played at Wrigley. The Las Vegas 51′s looked to send them home sad most of the game. Travis Snider hit a home run to lead off the second to give them the lead, and they extended it in the 5th with a triple and a groundout. The 51′s scored two more runs on the day (both on the home run), but they would not score enough to win. Travis Snider ended up with two dingers on the day. The wind was blowing straight out, but he got all of both of them.
The Iowa Cubs left the fans in suspense until the last half of the game. They got a run in the 5th on an error, and then grabbed three in the sixth. The big blast came off the bat of John-Ford Griffith. Griffith was batting fourth, and I looked at him his first two times up wondering why he was in that spot. When he hit his bomb I knew why. Other than that bomb the I-Cubs scored their five runs with help from everyone on the roster. They really seemed balanced. With the 51′s you could sense they were just trying to get back to the meat in the order. The Cubs could just do it with anyone. They ran, and did the little things. That is fun baseball to watch. Once again I took way too many pictures, and actually came up with a few good ones. Here are some of them. Maybe I will post some more in a couple of days.

Micah Hoffpauir making contact. I had a great picture of him breaking his bat, but a typical Cub fan roaming around while play is going on got in the way.

51′s Starting pitcher Marty McLeary

McLeary again. Look at that psycho look on his face!

John – Ford Griffin watching his shot

Zach Stewart dealing

Luis Rivas with a big swing

Bobby Scales watching a ball go foul

Alex Rios is Coming to the White Sox?

Rumors have been swirling for a couple of days now over the possibility that the White Sox are the team that has claimed Alex Rios. This move may signal several things on the horizon for the White Sox if it is true. The first thing that it would signal is the end of either Jermaine Dye or Jim Thome in a Sox uniform. Rios would be playing right field. That would mean that we would not sign Dye, or re-sign him with the intent of putting him at DH. No matter what the outcome it means the end of an era in Chicago. Thome has only played a few years, but he has given the team some excitement in that time. He has put up good numbers every year. He cannot play the field anymore, and that may be his weak spot. Dye on the other hand was our World Series MVP. Since we are bringing back that 2005 team for a reunion it seems weird that we would let him go. In the short term it would appear that the hero of the Buehrle game would be the odd man out. We have already sent down Josh Fields, and Dewayne Wise might be the odd man out here. We already have Kotsay, Podsednik, Quentin, and Dye on the roster along with Wise. It would seem that Dewayne is the odd man out. Ramon Castro had better watch his back. At least Dewayne now has a place on the wall with the former Sox greats.

Rios carries with him a huge contract, and some baggage. He has had a tough season so far, but maybe he just needs a change of scenery to change things. In the next few days we will find out if that change of scenery is to the Windy City. He may not be the star when he comes here, but he would be a piece of the puzzle.

Silverhawks Cannot Find Offense

Tonight I went up to Grand Rapids to see the Silverhawks play the West Michigan Whitecaps. Part of the reason that I wanted to go was to see Fifth Third Ballpark again. Don’t be confused. The park in Toledo that I have visited twice this season is Fifth Third Field. This one in Grand Rapids is Fifth Third Ballpark. Don’t even ask about Dayton. The other reason that I went was to meet Rick Leach. Rick was a dominant quarterback at Michigan as well as a Major League Baseball player. Rick played for the Tigers and Blue Jays for most of his career before spending one year stints with the Giants and the Rangers. I of course got a ball autographed for my collection, and I also got a couple of cards autographed. The Whitecaps are having a different Tiger at every Friday home game this season. This is a great promotion that gave me an idea for a new weekly post for this blog. More on that later.

As for the game it was the first time that I have seen the Silverhawks away from Coveleski Stadium. They looked just as bad here as they did at home. In the bottom of the first a single followed by a triple and another single plated two runs for the Whitecaps. West Michigan scored again in the second inning, and that is all that they would need. The Silverhawks scratched a run across in the 8th, but it was too late. Gustavo Nunez and Brent Wyatt had a hand in all the runs for West Michigan. The real stars of the game were the defensive players. They turned four double plays, and made some great plays on defense. The great defense kept the Hawks off of the board until the 8th. In a 3-1 game, they made all the difference. They deserved to win this game, and they did. After the game the fans were treated to the end of the Pittsburgh/Detroit hockey game. I am glad that I left before the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.
This was the 19th baseball game that I have seen this year. This makes the eighth professional park that I have been to as well (I have been to two college stadiums as well). With a couple of months left in the baseball season, this could be a great year for the junkie. I already know that I am going to see at least 3 other pro stadiums in July. Maybe another one next weekend when the Sox go to Cincinnati. The sky is the limit.

On Dollar Monday played on Wednesday we get two for Tuesday

Sound confusing? Monday’s South Bend Silverhawks game was cancelled so they moved the dollar Monday game to Wednesday and played a doubleheader. The Silverhawks split the twin bill, but it was a great day for baseball. The Silverhawks are having trouble drawing, so I don’t know how many more Opening Week games I will be able to go to at Coveleski. It is a great way to spend the day though. Fourteen innings of baseball for $1 is alright by me.
I am still amazed at the lack of attention people pay at these games. A line drive comes flying in on the first base side nearly beheading some kids, and nobody pays any attention. They go right back to talking with their backs to the plate. It will take a tragedy for people to pay attention I think. That is one reason why I don’t go to dollar night anymore.