Archive for August 29th, 2008

Now Batting For The Toronto Blue Jays

Been awhile since I’ve done one of these…

About six weeks ago, I watched Travis Snider crush pitch after pitch after pitch – something like ten in all – over the right field wall at Manchester’s Merchantsauto.com Stadium.  It was obvious the kid, who I rechristened “Wayne” after realizing that he wore number 99, could hit the ball a long, long way.

Shortly thereafter, Snider was summoned to Syracuse, where he played eighteen games, and on Thursday he made the final leap, receiving the call from the Blue Jays.  His arrival in Toronto caps a meteoric rise that began this season at Class A Dunedin and ends on the turf at Rogers Centre.  Not bad for a 20-year-old kid.

To make room for Snider, the ageless Matt Stairs was designated for assignment (and, from the tone of that article, handled it very professionally) and is likely  be traded.

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You Can Run, D’Avilia, But You Can’t Hide

You remember the old show “Unsolved Mysteries”, right?  The one hosted to perfection by Robert Stack?  Every so often, they would go through a case, present all the weird details, Stack would wrap it up…then, out of nowhere, the word “UPDATE” or “SOLVED” or something like that would flash on the screen and we would learn that what we had just seen was, in fact, no longer an unsolved mystery.

Tonight’s Nashua Pride game featured the long awaited UPDATE on the D’Avilia situation.

To recap: prior to the season, the Nashua Pride hung numbers on the front of the press box to commemmorate important players in team history.  Glenn Murray and Butch Hobson are honored for their contributions to Nashua baseball; several others, including Curtis Pride, performed admirably in the city before returning to the major leagues.

During my two years in media relations with the Pride, I became reasonably well-versed in the team’s history, so it was surprising when I didn’t recognize the name on Number 11: the one-named “D’Avilia”, who was involved with the team in some capacity back in 1999.  I knew he wasn’t a player – a coach, maybe?  The mystery was enticing, the team staff utterly useless.  They’ve changed over almost entirely since I left in 2004, but I still made a point to ask at the last couple games I went to.  My query was always met with a blank stare and, “You know, that’s a good question, I’m not really sure.”  I realize they’re busy trying to sell the team to local businesses and fans so it can stay in business, but if you’re going to put a piece of information out there like that, wouldn’t it make sense to have a story behind it in case anyone asks?  Even the general manager didn’t know who D’Avilia was, which to me is just stupid.  Sure, it’s a small point, but it’s a small point that left me shaking my head as I walked away from at least four front office employees this season.

Anyway, the general manager (I think it was the general manager, anyway) was the least useless because he directed me to the people who could answer the question: the Boosters Club and a gentleman named Spike, who attends a good many games and used to be known for bringing a cowbell (this was before someone decided they should sell cowbells in the ballpark.  Not a good idea).  Though I had never actually spoken to Spike before, this was a no-brainer; to let the chance of learning D’Avilia’s story slip away after coming so close would have been a tragedy.

I made my move at the end of the eighth.  The Pride had just broken a 2-2 tie with a six-run rally (the eventual game-winner was hit by Edgard Clemente, nephew of Roberto) and Spike was sitting in a lower row in my section, so I figured what the hell.  I walked down, made my approach, and told the small group that I had a question and thought they were the guys to answer it.

Turns out, the name on the circle, D’Avilia, was incorrect; the actual name was Davila, with a little accent above the first “a”, and the player in question wasn’t a player, but a coach: Angel “Papo” Davila, the pitching coach early on in the Pride’s tenure.  Spike thought he had gone on to the major leagues as a coach for the Reds, hence the special circular honor.  I don’t know where he is now – he did a one-year stint as the manager at Laredo in 2007 and Google doesn’t want to tell me where he is this season.

So ends the mystery of D’Avilia.  Like many things associated with the Pride, the resolution was, in my opinion, a bit underwhelming.

The rest of the ballpark experience was typical.  Chris was invited, but unable to join us, and our friend Colleen’s invite got lost in the mail (i.e. I started sending a text but fell asleep before it was finished, then didn’t realize until later that the message never sent), so it ended up as family night: me, Vicki, and Joey.  As usual, Joey was a hit – he’s big enough to sit in the seats now, so he did that for awhile, then he turned around and hammed it up for the older couple sitting behind us, then the teenage girls sitting behind them.  And, not to get too crazy personal or anything, for the first time in awhile, my wife and I actually talked, just shot the shit about her mother and some work and other little stuff.  I called her Vicki Leigh at one point (long story) and got an actual real laugh and threat to my life, which is always nice.  So that was good.

On the down side, the concession stands were predictably light on food items.  It was the last game of the season and they had obviously ordered a bit on the low side.  When I went in the second inning, they were out of all chicken-related items and fast approaching the end of the french fries.  The reason for it was understandable – you don’t want to leave money in the freezer, especially with the team’s status up in the air for next season – but it’s still too bad that fans had to be left with a negative memory (although I DID get my italian sausage sub.  Not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t downed one more before the offseason).

Another thing about the concessions, and this doesn’t have anything to do with the team: when you’re in line, spread out.  Please.  The guy behind me tonight was so close I thought he was either gonna try to steal my wallet or wanted to spoon.  When he turned around every so often to check out the action on the field, he would actually bump into me.  That’s how close we were.  I felt like we were slow dancing at a junior high dance, only there was no principal nearby to stop over and slide us apart.

Anything else…Joey almost won a tricycle, but it went to an older kid a couple rows back…Monkey Boy was on hand to provide entertainment, but no other on-field promotions were held; it’d be easy to say that they were mailing it in on the last night with a subpar crowd, but I think the truth is that they never really figured out how to handle that aspect of their game presentation…once again, the Pride may not be back next season – the owner, John Stabile, claims to have lost $500,000 on the team this year and is looking to sell.

The Minor Links

You WILL send me your tips (onemoredyingquail@gmail.com)…

Yankees minor leaguer Austin Jackson, who I believe is the number one positional prospect in their organization, has a bad back (BaseballAmerica.com)

New Hampshire’s finest Bus Leaguers could be invading the majors in just a few days (The Union Leader)

Roger Clemens’ very presence brings peace and harmony to all those around him (FanHouse)

Getting hit by a foul ball at a baseball game is among my greatest fears (FanHouse)

Sickels poses a question: Maybin vs. McCutchen (Minor League Ball)