Posts Tagged ‘New Hampshire Fisher Cats’

Meet The New Hampshire Road Warriors

tractor at holman

It’s a banner day: Nashua, New Hampshire made Deadspin.  Wheee.

For those who don’t like clicking links, the city of Nashua locked the American Defenders of New Hampshire out of Holman Stadium yesterday afternoon due to a number of unpaid bills.  The team and city could not reach an agreement on an acceptable payment plan, so the few remaining home dates have been rescheduled as road games.

As the title suggests, the situation calls to mind the old Pennsylvania Road Warriors from the Atlantic League, who played entire seasons on the road in the early 2000s.  I don’t recall the exact problem with the Road Warriors – lack of funding to build a stadium, maybe – but that’s not the point.  The point is that I remember what those teams were like: full of young guys who were willing to play for next to nothing, managed by one of the nicest guys in the game, and they almost never won.

You’d think I would be sad about what appears to be the death of professional baseball in Nashua, but I’m really not. Dan Duquette can blame it on the people of the city all he wants – the fact of the matter is that the ownership did an extremely poor job of a) selling the team to potential fans and b) understanding the situation they were getting themselves into.  They wanted a quick, easy buck, and when it didn’t work that way (because people in the city have been burned often in recent years and needed to be won over), they threw in the towel and refused to pay, hoping to make the mayor and the people of the city the bad guys who just wouldn’t support their team.

It was inevitable that we would get to this point.  For at least two, maybe three years now, Nashua baseball has been an exercise in futility, with owners who seemed to think that insulting potential fans was the best way to draw them to the ballpark.  Surprisingly, it didn’t work.  The newest group, Duquette and Company, wanted us to believe that they weren’t like the rest, that they meant what they said and said what they meant.  But in the end, as WGAM’s Rich Keefe pointed out yesterday, “It was just lipstick on a pig.”

The only thing that really bothers me is that this will renew the chorus of the idiotic minority who claim that professional baseball “stole Holman Stadium from the kids,” because they used to play high school football and baseball there before the Pride arrived.  Never mind the fact that the presence of the Pride resulted directly in renovations being made to refurbish and somewhat modernize the ballpark, or that a beautiful new football stadium, Stellos Stadium, was built down the street from Nashua High School South, or that in the years I worked there (2003 and 2004) there were over 130 non-Pride events at Holman.  Why worry about facts?

Oh well.  Professional baseball in Nashua is finally gone, probably never to return (unless they can further improve the stadium, pay off the Red Sox to waive territory rights, and lure a low-level affiliated team to the city; oh yeah, it’s that easy).  Sure, the NECBL might drop a franchise in there, and there will be plenty of high school baseball to be seen, but if you want to see the pros play (and say what you will about the quality of the Defenders, they WERE professionals; probably in the A range, but professionals nonetheless), I don’t know what to tell you.

Oh,wait, yes I do…

There’s a game in Manchester tonight.

One More Note On Tonight’s Night At The Ballpark

One of the things Dan and I talked about was next weekend’s series against the Portland Sea Dogs.  Those games always draw big, but none may be bigger than the Saturday contest, when Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch for the Sea Dogs in the first game of a doubleheader at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.  Rumor has it that over 9,000 tickets have already been sold (which would break the team’s previous attendance mark of 8,903, set this year when John Smoltz came to town).

I’m amazed at our good fortune with this.  Not only did I buy tickets to that same doubleheader last week, before the Matsuzaka news broke, but I managed to get decent seats as well.

Those tickets and the expected crowd were on my mind as I left the ballpark tonight.  Literally, as I passed the ticket window, I thought to myself, “I should see if I can get the tickets now…no, just get them the day of the game…there are going to be almost 10,000 people here that day…I don’t want to deal with Will Call when 10,000 other people are dealing with Will Call…I’m gonna see if I can get the tickets now.”

Not only could I get the tickets now, but the guy working the window was the same one who handled my frantic call after I bought just two and managed to get me two more.  I reminded him of the basics of my story and told him how impressed I had been with the service, at which point he impressed me again by saying, “I’m just glad it all worked out so the ladies were able to come to the game as well.”

This amazed me because I hadn’t mentioned that specific detail of my story when I walked up to the window, which meant that he had remembered from our previous conversation.  So either I’m the only one who calls the Fisher Cats ticket office to order tickets or the dude has a great memory.  Either way, I appreciated the personalization to the transaction.

Madison Bumgarner Is Done And So Am I

The title says it all. We’re in the top of the eighth and there are post-game fireworks, but I’m hitting the road. (Early day tomorrow and all that jazz.)

Pleasant surprise on the way out, though, when I ran into my Lozoball compatriot Dan Suitor, who works at the ballpark. He recognized me, introduced himself, and we chatted for a few. Pretty cool, even if he did make me miss my chance to take a picture of the mascot.

Why Can’t The Mascot Win The Base Race, Just Once?

There should be a rule stating that no base race contestant can be older than four-years-old. There’s nothing cute or funny about seeing some nine-year-old tearing around the bases and winning big. A real little kid, on the other hand, is hilarious because it takes like an hour and a half for them to really get moving (provided they don’t get stage fright).

Bumgarner might be finished for the night – the Defenders have someone warming in the pen. He’d be in position to get the win thanks to some bad Fisher Cats defense in the top of the sixth.

First, the pitcher fielded a comebacker and fired to second to start an inning ending double play, only he made a bad throw to the wrong middle infielder. Then, with two out they caught a runner off third but executed the rundown poorly (too much throwing, not enough running), with the ball being thrown away and the run scoring. 4-2 Defenders, mid-sixth.

And it’s official: as the Build-A-Burger promo starts, a new pitcher warms for Connecticut.  I don’t know his name, though, because they never saw fit to announce it.

MMM…Food

I’m currently standing on the concourse on the third base side of the ballpark, having left the cozy confines of Section 110 to go in search of food. As I was leaving my seat, two things happened: a guy proposed marriage to his special lady friend on the scoreboard (she said yes) and I knocked over an apple that the lady next to me had perched on the railing. She looked annoyed that I did this, even accidentally; to this, I have to say: why did you perch an apple on the railing? You were just asking to have it knocked off, even accidentally.

As for the food: I could live on Italian sausage from the ballpark if need be, and the line for this one was nonexistent. One of the things I like about this place is the good service.

Bumgarner struck out two more last inning, which gives him at last four in as many innings. The only threat was a runner who reached and stole second – I could see from my vantage point that he overslid the bag and was tagged out, but the umpire couldn’t change positions fast enough (although he did show some hustle in the attempt).

Nice Defense By The Defenders

With Madison Bumgarner in trouble yet again – first and second, nobody out, leading to the first mound visit of the night – Brad Emaus lifted a long fly to right. Todd Donovan tagged up at second and advanced to third, with Manny Mayorson attempting to move up behind him. Connecticut’s shortstop alertly cut the ball off and easily tagged Mayorson out for a rally killing double play.

A ground ball to second finished the rally off. The game is still tied, 1-1. The Defenders are in the same position in their half…

…and no sooner have I typed out those words than they attempt a sacrifice bunt, with the lead runner getting gunned down at third. Nobody wants to score runs tonight.

In A Jam

Bumgarner found himself in another jam in the second – second and third, nobody out – but worked out of it with a sacrifice fly and two called strike threes (neither of which were appreciated by the Fisher Cats or the crowd).

Between innings entertainment: sumo wrestling.

You wouldn’t think you’d have a chance at a foul ball sitting behind home plate. You’d be wrong. One batter in the second hit one off the press box behind and above us and it caromed down to a little kid two rows behind me. No chance for me – I was busy protecting the camera, my phone, and my head (in that order).

Also seen in the second: The Wave. I just said no.