Archive for September, 2008

This Week in Bobbleheads Part 16

Major Leagues are the only representatives for pretty much the rest of the season, so the remaining posts here will be few but we’ll take what we can get here.  For a total reprise of the 2008 season in bobbleheads, just visit http://thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com .  Come in, register, and trade with us.

San Francisco Giants 9/8/08 – Lefty O’Doul – This is part of a Pacific Coast League Tribute Night ticket offering.

Atlanta Braves 9/9/08 Bobby Cox – This date is a makeup from a rainout earlier in the season. It is the second bobblehead for Cox.

Pittsburgh Pirates 9/12/08 Rennie Stennett – Final part of the Lumber Company series.

Arizona Diamondbacks 9/13/08 Dan Haren – First NL bobble for Haren after being portrayed in an A’s uniform.

Cleveland Indians 9/13/08 Grady Sizemore (in a car) – Wonder if it comes with Grady’s Ladies riding shotgun?

Cleveland Indians 9/14/08 Fausto Carmona Bullpen Car Bobblehead – Will the old Bullpen Buggies come back?

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Staten Island Yankees vs. Aberdeen IronBirds, 9/4/08

The Bus Leagues clock is running out. This past Thursday, I decided to catch the second-to-last regular-season Staten Island Yankees game: If they win this one, they clinch the McNamara Division of the Single-A New York-Penn League. Richmond County Bank Ballpark, where the Baby Bombers play, is right on New York Harbor, just steps away from the Staten Island Ferry terminal.

Boarding the Staten Island Ferry, official cruise line of the Boat Leagues, in downtown Manhattan.

On the Staten Island side: the view from the promenade that leads to the ballpark. All game long, enormous freighters like this one pass through the waters just beyond the right-field fence.

Like so.

Richmond County Bank Ballpark holds more than 7,000 fans, but I guess people were having a hard time getting off work for this lazy early-September afternoon game. Attendance was officially tallied at 1,568, but that sounded like a stretch to me. Apparently the next night, the final regular-season game (in which the Yanks pounded Hudson Valley 17-5) was a 7,171-strong sell-out. (Pictured here: Yankee RHP Daniel Kapela, who would—SPOILER ALERT—earn the win today.)

But it was a good game, with the usual merriments to keep fans entertained between innings. Here, Scooter the Holy Cow is defeated by a little kid in the tug of war.

And here, better still, a man battled his son (not pictured) head-to-head to determine who could pull off a better dance to “The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies.” This guy won. Click on the image. It’s worth it, I promise you.

But for me, the best part of this game was sitting with these guys behind home plate. Diehard SI fans, they were heckling for nine straight innings—loudly talking junk to each other, the players, and the umpires, whom they knew by name. (Apparently the home-plate ump is an NBA ref in the off-season.) To me, their closeness and love of the game was not only what Bus Leagues fandom is all about: It was what New York City baseball fandom should be, and once was, about. With the new $1.3 gazillion Yankee Stadium and its hundred-dollar tickets, there just aren’t as many real fans on the major-league level anymore. They’re here, in Staten Island.

And, perhaps tellingly, their team is doing better than the major-league Bombers. With this afternoon’s 4-2 victory, the Staten Island Yankees clinched a playoff berth. Switch-throwing bullpen phenom Pat Venditte pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save of the year, quite a feat in a two-month-long season.

My scorebook.

Thanks, Scooter. See you next year.

Bus Leagues Haul Selves to Hall

I’m going to tell you an amazing story.

When OMDQ and I started writing this season, we also talked about meeting up sometime at the end of the minor league run. Brian suggested the Baseball Hall of Fame, which was swell with me, because I’ve never been.

The crazy part is… it’s actually happening. Two guys with families including young kids (and, in my case, a 77-year-old mother-in-law) are actually carving out a day to meet for the first time and tour the shrine of our chosen sport. Those kinds of plans almost never work, am I right?

I am currently sitting in the Best Western just south of town, but I did make a run in earlier and ran around the outside of the Hall taking photos. One is above. I doubt I’ll be able to photograph much inside, except for the tour of the Bart Giamatti Research Library that Brian arranged for us. That’s going to be sweet.

We’ll let you know more about how the trip goes tomorrow (or, more likely, several days from now when we’re back home). For now, if you have any memories of the HOF or things you want to make sure I see, leave them in the comments below.

–Extra P.

Salem-Keizer Volcanoes vs. Eugene Emeralds, 8/27/08

In the wake of the ever so slight disappointment of Portland Beavers baseball, I knew I couldn’t wrap up my Oregon visit without checking out at least one other team. The opportunity arose midweek when the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (A-ball affiliate of the San Francisco Giants) hosted the Eugene Emeralds (junior San Diegers), an hour south of Portland on I-5. We found some excellent Ecuadorian food before the game, paid three bucks to park the minivan car, and stepped up to get some seats.

The ticket booth of Volcanoes Stadium, aka “The Crater.” The park is right alongside I-5, its lights a Bus Leagues beacon for miles around. Throughout the game, trucks pulled their air horns in ballgame solidarity.

The concessions stand, a little more old-school than some of the other places I’ve visited this season. Don’t try to get a sandwich at the Healthy Hut. They don’t sell them there anymore.

And here we are: field of dreams. Eat your heart out, PGE Park.

It’s a beautiful place.

Crater, the mascot, is a lavender dinosaur with a baseball for a head. Kind of like if Mr. Met got left in a radiation chamber for a long, long time. While several children were reportedly running away from Crater, screaming, I have to confess great affection for the guy. Otherwise he might eat me.

On to the picnic area. People chilling on the hill, playing catch, watched over by a line of older folks with lawn chairs and blankets.

The Sno-Cone girl and the soda guy. I told them I was a reporter from the Bus Leagues Blog. The soda guy was skeptical. Eric and Brian, I need some business cards.

The volcano mounted on the left-field scoreboard erupts whenever a Volcano hits a home run. After getting kicked around pretty good—the Emeralds were up 13-3—we finally got to see some seismic action in the bottom of the sixth, courtesy of DH Michael Ambort (1.059 OPS this year).

Also, further mitigating the slaughter, it was Volcanoes Idol Night. After every other inning, local rising stars would sing their hearts out behind home plate. I don’t think this girl won, but in my book, everyone’s a winner.

At the end of the seventh, Eugene was up 17-4. These ladies deemed it time to bust out the knitting, and we hit the road.

Sacramento believes in Obama in Bobbleelection

Another area of the country has spoken and Barack Obama has made a clean sweep of this year’s bobbleelections. The Rivercats are the 8th team to have such a promotion and although results were not published, I was told that the Obama bobbles ran out about 10 minutes prior to the McCains. 750 of each were distributed.

Imagine if they had Biden and Palin bobbles? I would think Palin would win since she’s better looking than Biden, haha.

This Week in Bobbleheads Part 15

The days get shorter and so do the list of promos in September. Nontheless, I will be around to give information on every bobble promo till the end of 2008 and beyond. Here’s this week’s action.

Delmarva Shorebirds 9/1/08 Irv Brumbley – Friendly usher at Purdue Stadium will even sign them for fans.

Iowa Cubs 9/1/08 Tony LaRussa – I think he played in Iowa during his playing days.

Lowell Spinners 9/1/08 Jonathan Papelbon Bronze Statuette – Spinners also have a plan if you buy 4 tix to this game or the 9/2 game that you get a Pap bobble as well.

Orem Owlz 9/3/08 Chris Pettit – Named Angels organizational player of the month for June 08.

West Michigan Whitecaps 9/4/08 Curtis Granderson – Playoff giveaway as the Whitecaps play for another championship.

Bridgeport Bluefish 9/5/08 TBA – This is totally hush hush probably until the day of the giveaway.

Minnesota Twins 9/6/08 Rick Aguilera – Former Twin from the 1987 World Series Champion Team.

San Francisco Giants 9/6/08 Bengie Molina – This leaves Yankees catcher Jose as the only Molina not to have a bobble.

Milwaukee Brewers 9/7/08 Corey Hart – great end of the year honor for this 2008 all-star.

New York Mets 9/7/08 Johan Santana – Being given to kids 12 and under only.

St.Louis Cardinals 9/7/08 Albert Pujols – Could be in a batting champ pose.

Toronto Blue Jays 9/7/08 Joe Carter Figurine – World Series hero gets a statue.

Jack Of All Trades

Adam Ricks will probably not play in the major leagues.  There are three reasons: one, he will be 26 years old this month; two, he has played 23 games above the Class A Advanced level in five minor league seasons; and three, he OPSed .406 for Charlotte (AAA, International) in 22 of those games last season.

But even if Ricks doesn’t get to The Show eventually, he will be able to look back on his minor league career and note that he once accomplished something unusual: on August 31, 2008, as a member of the Winston-Salem Warthogs, he played all nine defensive positions.

Ricks began the game behind the plate, his natural position, and moved right-to-left around the diamond, starting at first base in the second inning.

“Our manager does it every year and I was the lucky one to do it this year,” he said. “I’m not sure why he picked me, probably because he thought I could do it. He asked me yesterday before the game if I wanted to do it and when. I had a lot of fun with it.”

You could argue that the manager, Tim Blackwell, is making a mockery of the game by making this an annual event, but I disagree.  The Warthogs had already wrapped up a spot in the playoffs, so the pressure to Win-Win-Win was taking the day off, and I’m sure this is Blackwell’s way of reminding the players – most of whom are kids in their early twenties – how lucky they are to be playing baseball for a living. It’s the sort of thing a good boss does from time to time.

As for why he chose Ricks, I think that was already answered above.  He’s a veteran player who has spent parts of the past three seasons with the team and unless he does something special next year, this might have been one of his last opportunities to make some positive memories as a professional baseball player.  No matter what, from reading the article, it sounds like he succeeded.