Minor Leagues Rule the Glorious 4th; Where were Loudon Wainwright III and his Banjo When Vermont Bull Pen Needed Them?

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, July 5.

While major league stadiums are insulated and protected against almost any worst-case scenario, you can’t say that of minor league ball parks. In the New York Penn League of class A ball, the TriCity Valleycats (or Cats) play at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on a community college campus in Troy, New York. During last night’s game against the Vermont Lake Monsters (Athletics) A stowaway appeared in the opposing bull pen.  Everybody figured the invader would cause a stink.  It was a skunk that had somehow found its way past security and into the bull pen.  This was a live skunk, as opposed to Loudon Wainwright’s skunk in his famous song “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.” (love that song.)  Had Wainwright or Shel Silverstein  been on hand there would have been a folk song in the frantic struggle by the Lake Monsters to avoid getting the business from the interloper. With young fans watching the relief pitchers climbed on top of the bull pen wall while the striped polecat (another word for skunk) ran under their bench. Eventually he wandered off, allowing the visiting pitchers to reclaim their territory in the bull pen.  They ended up beating the home standing ValleyCats (Astros) 6–1.  Since nobody got sprayed there was no run on tomato juice for bathing people, and no need for lighter fluid to burn ruined uniforms.

While there weren’t any particularly eye-catching MLB games yesterday, there was some 4th of July fun in sweltering Jackson, Tennessee.  The AA Jackson Generals (Diamondbacks) won in the longest minor league game this year that I know of.  Under the new format with a runner put on second to start every inning, the old days of 20-plus inning minor league games are at an end.  Last night’s game was a 12-inning, 9-8 winner for the Generals over the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs.)  The Generals outhit their foes 16 to 9 though it took a major rally in the last of the 12th for them to pull out a win. It was in doubt early on whether the game would get off the ground.  a 29-minute rain delay held up play before Bo Takahashi threw a pitch. The only runs he gave up in his 5 innings were on a 2-run home run by Jeffrey Baez. He tied the score at 2-2 at that point.  By the 8th it was 4-2 Generals before the visitors rallied for 3 runs. They scored one to tie the game in the 8th and one to tie it again at 6 in the 10th.  With the score 8-6 in the last of the 12th the Generals were facing outfielder Jeffrey Baez as his team had run out of pitchers. With a man put on second as he came up, Ben DeLuzio tied the game at 8 with a 2-run home run. Baez couldn’t get a man out after the long bomb.  With the bases full, Josh Prince lifted a single over the shortstop’s head and the traditional 4th of July fireworks finally began.

Another memorable 4th of July game took place in front of 14,500 in Salt Lake City.  I can think of some major league teams who wish they had 14,000 on hand.  In this game the El Paso Chihuahuas (yes, that’s their name and they’re the Padres AAA team) defeated the Salt Lake Bees (Angels) 11-10 over 11 innings. As it happened, the two teams were in a first-place tie as the game began. The visitors scored just one run in the first 4 innings, spotting the home team a 3-0 lead before El Paso put up 4 in the visiting 5th to make it 5-3. The Bees countered by scoring 5 in the home 6th. They didn’t score again until extra innings.  El Paso forced extra innings by notching 2 in the 7th and one in the 8th, drawing the game level at 8. Each team scored once in the 10th, but El Paso put up 2 in the 11th and held on to win. Luis Urias tripled home a run in the 11th which broke the back of the Bees for the evening. From the department of “Where are they now,” Allen Craig, once a Cardinal and a decent player was in the lineup for El Paso.  The fleet-footed Ben Revere was on his horse for the Bees. He hit a home run during the Bees’ 5-run 6th-inning rally.

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