Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, April 20.
This will be a short column owing to time constraints but I simply had to write about yesterday’s minor league game at Geneva, Kane County, Illinois. The home team won 1-0 but then there’s what Paul harvey called “The Rest of the Story.”
We’re talking about Midwest League ball, low class A. Kane County are the D-Backs though their team name is the Cougars. The Beloit Snappers, yesterday’s visitors are the low A Athletics’ farm team. The start time was 11 AM local time. It was to be an “Education Day,” which some teams call “Camp Day.” Most teams have them once or twice a season. Whatever the teams call it, I won’t print what I called those games in a family column. At best, they’re difficult to broadcast. We routinely had a game the night before so we would be on short sleep rations. The stats would arrive around 6:30 AM. Sighted broadcasters could just look at them and go on the air with them. For me, they first had to be recorded on tape, then I would transcribe them into braille. I would go at a frantic pace to have everything ready by air time. And that’s a routine morning game. What broadcaster Joe Brand of Kane County handled yesterday was far from routine.
The game started with thousands of kids shrieking (hopefully for joy.) The attendance was announced at almost 6200. An inning into the game however, rain hit the area. It was an insistent steady rain, not the quick storm that’s here and gone. Nobody wanted to call the game off-imagine the refunds involved. So they waited, an endless 2 hours and 40 minutes. The young fans couldn’t wait. The bulk of them were on buses headed back to school before the interminable rain delay ended. When it finally did, the game resumed with no score in the top of the second. It remained scoreless through the regulation 9 innings. Inning by inning more people left for home. The cleanup crew, according to broadcaster Brand began to sweep up the debris even as the game moved along. By the 11th almost nobody was in the stadium to cheer the victor-and no victor had emerged through 12, 13, 14 innings and beyond. At long last, in the home half of the 17th inning Kane County scored the day’s only run. Beloit only registered 4 hits all day long while Kane County notched a dozen safeties. Their starter Tyler Mark could only go until the rain delay happened, so he was credited with 1.2 innings pitched. John Duplantier pitched 5.1 innings in what was very nearly a starting outing. He was followed by Austin Mason for two innings, then Jeferson Mejia went two. So did Sam Lewis and Paxton De La Garza. The last and winning pitcher was Kyle Smith who pitched the 16th and 17th innings. For the losers, their starter Mitchell Jordan could only go an inning thanks to Mother Nature. 6 more Snappers took the hill before the lone run which was unearned came across the plate. Kyle Nowlin, a position player was on the hill. He hit the first batter Ramon Hernandez with a pitch. After getting two outs, Jason Morozowski solidly struck one and sent it to the distant reaches of left field. Cole Gruber, who had earlier pitched for the Snappers made a desperate try to play the ball on a hop but all in vain. It sneaked through his legs allowing the run to score. For the winners, their last two pitchers were infielders by trade-De La Garza and Smith. Now for the truly funny part, following the marathon the home team had to prepare for a 200-mile trip to Cedar Rapids for a game tonight. Knowing my ways, I would have planned to pack for the trip following the game, assuming a morning game would go quickly and give me time to pack. Would I have ever been wrong.
On this dreary Thursday in the suburbs outside of New York, baseball has already begun in other locales. The Red Sox and Blue Jays started as I began writing this theme. Chris Sale and Marco Estrada make up a fine pitching matchup. The Indians and Twins have also started as I work. So have the Tigers and Rays begun their game in St. Pete. The Astros host the Angels this afternoon. The rest of the action is under the lights. Weather permitting, the Mets will host the Phillies. The Mets turn to their stud, Noah Syndergaard who has had finger issues in his early starts. First he suffered a blister on Opening Day, then two torn fingernails his last time out of the gate. The Nationals turn to Stephen Strasburg in Atlanta against the ageless knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. In the late game, the Mariners send out James Paxton, one of the league’s best against Cesar Valdez of Oakland who hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2010 and that was with the Diamondbacks. He’s bounced around the minors since then but held on to the dream and in his case, for one more night at least the dream is coming true.0