Reserve Team Sub
Sep 11, 2011, 9:27 PM
It's time for baseball.
Re: [benjiman] Where are you going - where did you go? OTHER SPORTS!!
Ogden Raptors 13-11 Billings Mustangs (11 innings)
Wednesday 27 July 2011
Pioneer League (Rookie)
Prog: 36 pages (static for the season) A4 size, with 2 photocopied sheets providing rosters & stats, $2
This game may have been played at the lowest of the minor leagues' 6 levels, but the combination of an exciting game & fantastic ballpark made this probably the best evening I've encountered in the minors. I thought the park dimensions looked quite small so it was no surprise to see home runs flying towards the outfield from the start as the lead changed hands several times before Ogden went into the 9th inning 3 runs behind. Hardly anyone left early, which is most unusual for baseball at any level, so there was a great atmosphere within the park as the home team added 3 runs in the 9th before scoring the winning runs 2 innings later.
Lindquist Field was built in the mid-90s and is only one block north of 25th Street, which looked like a traditional small town main street. I'm sure there would be plenty of opportunities to park here and grab some food or drink before making the short walk to the park, and there also seemed to be a few parking lots in the area, but we arrived before the gates had opened and there was ample steet parking available at the time. I must admit I had some reservations about parking in the street beyond left field, but my wife advocated the convenience factor, so I made sure to park with my windscreen facing away from the field. My fears proved correct later that evening as a car a few spaces down from ours had it's windscreen smashed by a foul ball. On the positive side, I suppose the owner at least got a free baseball.
Most tickets were priced at $12 which seemed very expensive for this level of baseball, especially as I had paid only a few dollars more for a major league game at Phoenix over Easter, but when we went to the ticket office we were only charged $6 and I still have no idea why. Not only that but we were also each given $3 in vouchers to use at the food & drink stands, which suddently made it a very cheap night out. You never know what you're going to get in the minor leagues!
For a modern ballpark, Lindquist Field was pleasantly quirky and looked to have been squeezed into a tight parcel of land. There's a covered grandstand behind home plate, with open seating extending all the way down left field. Right field has a small bleacher section with then gives way to warehouses & office buildings. There's a viewing platform in the outfield, but arguably the ballpark's best feature is the stunning view of the Wasatch mountains which appear to wrap around the outfield. Without question, this is one of the best places you could hope to watch baseball.
The beers available featured a couple from the local Roosters Brewery (I tried the honey wheat) but I made sure my kids didn't try any as the programme warned of a $25,000 fine for anyone buying beer for minors. The concession stands featured a place offering some very appetising burritos, as well as one notable budget outlet that was selling items for only $1 a time. By US standards the portions were a touch on the small side, but they were about average by UK sizes & only one-quarter of the price, so we helped ourselves to hot dogs & nachos.
A fine evening was capped by the chance to see baseball legend Tommy Lasorda who, as a roving coach, was paying a visit to Ogden and addressed the crowd before the game. Now 83 years-old, Lasorda was once manager of the Ogden team before later managing the LA Dodgers for many years, and he actually played for the old Brooklyn Dodgers in the days before the team moved to California.
Salt Lake Bees 3-2 Tucson Padres (10 innings)
Sunday 31 July 2011
Pacific Coast League (Triple A)
Prog: 40 pages, covering 12 games against 3 opponents, free
Att: 3,646 (ahem!)
A tight game - my third consecutive contest that went into extra innings - but one which never really got going from a spectator point of view due to the sheer lack of them, plus the rather miserable conditions that saw it raining for two-thirds of the game.
Salt Lake City is a beautiful and very welcoming place, and the ballpark is located in an area that's not far from downtown but which I can safely say is not one of the city's highlights. Parking was available in private lots outside the stadium, though the number of spaces seemed a long way short of handling the park's 15,500 capacity. There's also a light rail station nearby.
The park was built in 1994 on the site of the former ballpark and follows the retro design that combines an old-time look & feel with modern comforts and which has proven very popular across the US in the past 2 decades. It must be one of the largest in the minor leagues and is certainly one of only a handful to have 2-tiered seating, which extends almost the full length of left & right fields. It's certainly an impressive place, well-maintained with neatly-trimmed grass banks around the outfield, trees behind these and the Wasatch mountains in the distance.
As is common practice around the minors, the Bees run a host of promotions on game days. Perhaps not surprisingly, many involve food & drink - a ticket & hot dog for only $5 on Family Night Monday, kids eat free (and 2-for-1) tickets on Tuesday, $1 hot dog Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday (cheap beer) - plus various other events such as Ugly Sweater Night, Human Slinky, Salted Nut Roll Challenge and Prevention Kids Day (free condoms?).
I think we drew the short straw though as it was full whack at the ticket office ($15 for a good seat behind home plate and, crucially, under cover with rain imminent) and the only promotion was 'dog day' which seemed to basically comprise the opportunity to buy one of a few dozen caged dogs from a rescue shelter. Perhaps the combination of lack of promotions, the fact that the game was on a Sunday (Salt Lake is a strong Mormom community) and the threat of storms (some areas were on flood alert) affected the attendance, as this was very low by Triple A standards. As per usual, the 'official' attendance was not even in the same ballpark as the number of people who were actually, er, in the ballpark, and I thought the numbers fell well short of the 1,000 mark.
If I recall there was a decent selection of beers within the ballpark, with 3 local micro breweries represented, including Wasatch & Squatters. Less impressive was the unavailability of a photocopied team-sheet, which is very unusual in customer-friendly America, and no 2011 baseball team cards despite it being 4 months into the season.
Orem Owlz 9-5 Idaho Falls Chukars
Wednesday 3 August 2011
Pioneer League (Rookie)
Prog: 32 pages (static for the season) with a photocopied team roster insert for the day's game, $1
Another enjoyable evening. Orem looked to have the stronger squad on paper, with 3 first round draft picks in their line-up, but it was only in the last few innings that they put a bit of light between the respective scores.
The Pioneer League is meant to be one of the better leagues in which to experience a traditional minor league game, and I would guess it's difficult to argue with that assertion even though the set-up at Orem is not exactly typical of this level. They originally moved to nearby Provo, where they were based at Brigham Young University. After a few seasons they moved up the road to Orem, where they are based at a ballpark on the Utah Valley University campus, opened in 2005 to accommodate both the Owlz and the university team.
Provo has an even stronger Mormom community than Salt Lake City which prevented the team from staging home games on a Sunday and selling alcohol, hence the move to Orem. They can now play on a Sunday but, oddly, it seems they have chosen not to sell alcohol in an effort to make the games more family-friendly. An interesting article in the Ogden programme about a road trip around the Pioneer League suggested that state law prevents the Owlz from selling alcohol on a university campus, making them the only 'dry' minor league team, but when I enquired at the ballpark I was told this not was not the case and that it was purely down to the preference of the owners. Whatever the reason, the move seems to be paying off as the Pioneer League's 3 month season largely coincides with the school holidays and a very high proportion of the crowd seemed to be family groups.
Admission was $7, with plenty of parking available on the campus at $4 of which half can be redeemed against purchases from the concessions stands. The evening's promotion was a free pack of pencils.
It's another attractive ballpark seating 2,500 spectators, with the grandstand roof covering the rear-most half a dozen rows. There's a large grass bank down left field where the cheaper tickets were proving very popular with kids, and this is another park that has been designed so that the outfield is nicely framed by the Wasatch mountains. Like Ogden, the crowd was friendly and enthusiastic, and the official attendance figure at least bore a semblance of reality.
(This post was edited by Mark on Sep 11, 2011, 9:28 PM)