Saturday seemed like a great day to escape the brutally oppressive heat of central Illinois by traveling to....central Indiana. Okay, so I knew escaping the heat was not going to happen and it turned out it was even slightly more ruthlessly savage in Indianapolis than it was at home, but I couldn't pass up a chance to see my favorite team's AAA team in action.
I've been to at least 5 or 6 games at Victory Field and cannot recommend it highly enough. The only other minor league stadium I've been to is Louisville Slugger Field, which is also awesome. Ticket prices for the best available seats are $14 at Indy and only $11 at Louisville but it seems that most (if not all) of the lower level seats from dugout to dugout at Louisville are reserved for season ticket holders whereas at Indy I have usually gotten seats in the first 5 rows anywhere in the stadium I want. (I like the first base side next to the visitor's dugout, though those seats were sold out already this time. That was fine because: a) no matter where your seats are you can end up moving at some point anywhere you desire, and b) on such soul searingly hot days as Saturday the sun remains scorching down the right field line until close to sunset.)
Apparently ChicagoPete was at the game as well and he had a recap including some information about the food and beverages. I don't eat so I can't comment on the food but I did frequent the Guinness Pub Stand. (Menu pictured by Pete in the comments of his recap). Yes, the prices may have been a little high but the problem (for me) is that the only domestic draft, a reasonable $6.25 for 24 oz, is Coors Light. I don't know about you but even if it is free I'm not drinking Coors anything, so I paid the premium and stuck with Smithwick's all night.
Join me after the jump for some thoughts, pictures, and to hear about my fateful meeting with Rowdie.
Have I Mentioned That It Was Really Freaking Hot?
I mean, at 5 PM it was 93 degrees, which is hot enough, but when you combine it with the dew point (and as you should know by now, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE DEW POINT), which was 76 degrees, the heat index was 107. Somehow, when the sun went down it almost seemed to get hotter. Yes, the temperature had fallen to 85 by 10 PM but the dew point remained at 76 and there was virtually no air movement. Mercy.
Where was I? Oh, so the main players I was hoping to see were Tyler Flowers and Brent Morel (I knew Chris Sale had pitched on Friday so I didn't expect to see him pitch) and I was in luck as they both were in the lineup. Flowers made two nice plays in the first, once picking up a good bunt and getting the force out at third and to end the inning he had a nice block of a pitch in the dirt on a swinging strike three.
Neither Flowers nor Morel looked too good at the plate. I remember Flowers swinging at the first pitch in at least 2 of his plate appearances. Alejandro De Aza looked quite hitterish. Carlos Torres was in difficulties all evening but managed to work out of jams several times. He could have escaped with even less damage than was credited to him, but when he left the game with one out in the sixth inning Randy Williams came in. (If you care enough, you can see Williams' line.)
(Scouting note for Larry: As I'm sure you know, Donny Lucy did not play in this particular game but from my various vantage points throughout the game I believe I could discern that it is possible he may possess the finest clubhouse presence of his generation.)
Do You Want To Hear About My Fantasy Team?
My interactions with the hometown fans were somewhat limited (even though I changed seats several times). For example, I was under the impression that Dana Eveland was scheduled to start for Indy. When I noticed someone named Jeremy Powell was the actual starting pitcher I attempted, on two separate occasions, to find out why but I was greeted each time by a blank, mute stare.
I did speak with one fellow for a couple of minutes, but when it became obvious that he didn't have any interest in real baseball but only had interest in fantasy baseball, I said,"I drafted Alex Rios in the 17th round" then I turned away from him and went back to talking to my wife and two friends that I went to the game with.
My Name Is BuehrleMan and I Have Hawk-a-mania
I am not ashamed of my affliction and I suspect a lot of people have it. (Hell, I even know people who are not White Sox fans that have it) I define this syndrome simply as an urge to utter Hawkisms. I believe it to be an easily manageable condition as the urge is generally effortless to suppress. The time when it can become problematic however is when you are among a large crowd of people (like, for instance, in an opposing team's stadium) and, depending on your size and tolerance, have had anywhere from 3 to12 beers.
In the 8th and 9th innings I found myself seated in the 3rd row behind the Knights' dugout and one row behind 3 young boys, maybe 6-10 years old. Before I had said anything to them I heard them saying "He gone!". (It turned out they were Sox fans) They weren't yelling it though. It was almost as if they were embarrassed to let people hear what they were saying. I told them I too was a Sox fan and needless to say proceeded to show them what acute Hawk-a-mania was all about.
And If I Was Hot, How Do You Think Rowdie Felt?
After the game I was determined to meet Rowdie. This meant standing in line with many children while their parents (and stadium staff) stood all around and took pictures. Here is a transcript of our conversation:
ME: (Yelling and pointing to my Charlotte Knights hat)"I'M A KNIGHTS FAN BUT I LOVE ROWDIE!!!!"
ME: (Shouting. Grabbing/hugging Rowdie ) "YOU POOR BASTARD, I HOPE YOU'RE GETTING PAID DOUBLE TIME FOR WEARING THAT SUIT IN THIS HEAT!!!!"
ME: (Turning to a crowd of people looking mystified/horrified. Posing for photo, then bellowing) "MERCY!!!!"
ROWDIE: (Hugging, then both of us attempting conflicting handshake styles) ".................................."