Sunday, June 26, 2005
I attended the Quakes game on Saturday night. We'd selected that game because it was Mr. Potatohead give-away night, but, fortuitously, it was also Jered Weaver's first home start.
I'd dearly love to be able to tell you that Weaver looked awesome, brought his best stuff, and was a force on the mound. But I can't. Not because it isn't true, it might be, but pitching is like my last, great baseball ignorance, and I just have no basis on which to evaluate it. He looked like every other pitcher in the world. I'm sorry!
This is what I can tell you, he pitched close to three innings. He was no better or worse than the other pitchers we saw. He had a stellar first inning that I suspect had as much to do with the twilight sun making the ball truly impossible to pick-up as it did with his pitching prowess. I was also told, both by my husband and by random people in the crowd, that Weaver wasn't doing a very good job of "hiding" his pitches, especially his curve. Why only 3 innings? Well, he loaded up the bases, but we're going on the theory that they have him on a low pitch count right now.
I can tell you that, according to the stadium scoreboard, he was pitching 109 mph curveballs and 69 mph fastballs. But I am highly skeptical that those numbers have anything to do with reality. I'm thinking that the speedgun in an A ballpark is truly suspect. I can accurately report that he kept his mouth shut in the dugout. And that concludes my Weaver assesment. You don't have to thank me.
I have never attended a minor-league game before, and it was quite the experience. You want to know the difference between A and the bigs? Let me sum it up for you: holes in the pants and the classy trash dancers.
I guess when the guys get holes in their pants from sliding, they don't get new pants, they mend the holes (or leave then be). Check out exhibit A.
The game is not about the game. We were sitting behind home plate, the place to be in any ballpark, only not. Because the packed sections in Rancho were not the ones behind the plate, they were the ones behind the dugouts. Why? That is where the mascots (two of them, one isn't enough) and the classy trash dancers perform between innings, and half-innings, and plays, and pitches, and basically whenever they feel like it. You can search for a more interesting entertainment experience in the LA area, but I'm not sure you'd find it. Hardly a moment goes by without some sort of sound effect, musical interlude, or dance break.
Who are the classy trash dancers you might ask? Well, they are a cadre of highly-trained performers who astound the captive audience with their dance moves. They do this while sporting tails, cumberbunds, and white gloves. Oh, and when they aren't dancing, they make the rounds to pick up trash. Actually, they are a set of six folks, most of whom are probably in high school, and they give it their all, but I'm thinking that if they are operating under the assumption that hoofing in Rancho is ever going to lead anywhere, they are very much mistaken. But I appreciated their enthusiasm (and the trash pick-up) and it seems to be an astute sponsorship choice for 1-800-got-junk.
I have taken into account all that I witnessed on Saturday. I made careful notes, looked up averages, and squinted to determine who was playing in the outfield. I have done all this, and I give you my list of the most talented people on the field that night, the ones to watch.
1) Tremor and After Shock. The mascots are seriously top-notch. They have costume changes. They have pre-arranged bits with the umpires. They dance (and better than the classy trashers) in these crazy contraptions. And 3 out of 4 of the under-10 set that were sitting near me were at the stadium soley to see the mascots, and they made sure we all knew it in their under-10 screeching voices. I'd say that these guys have a big future ahead of them, but I think there is like a reverse system in place for mascots, where the lower the team is, the better the mascot needs to be, and the more highly-regarded. The skills required to be that freaking elephant in Oakland cannot begin to compare to the skills required to entertain people who are attending a single-A game.
2) Danny Putnam. Outfielder for Stockton. He rocketed this one ball home from Left, and it was a strike, it was beautiful. He's a 2005 California League All-Star. It was the most impressive thing I saw all game.
I've been to a lot of baseball games, this is the only one I've ever been to that ended with 4 outs. (the final batter hit into what would normally be a double-play, if there weren't already 2 outs, but the guys went ahead and completed it.)
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