Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Magical Minor League Mystery Tour, 5/6/11 - 5/9/11

Three cities, four games, four days. Probably somewhere like 500-600 miles.

I scouted prospects at three different levels of the game. During the trip, one, Jose Iglesias, was called up and made his Major League debut. I saw a walk-off in Frederick, heard things I wished I hadn't yelled at players, and saw a bunch of kids playing the game that they loved, regardless of their skill level.

The one pictured here, Tyler Townsend, is rebounding after a benign tumor was removed from a blood vessel in his hand. Really scary, but the kid's swing looked great on Friday - he's recovering nicely. I was excited to see him play finally - I'm so proud when prospects come back from injuries, especially terrifying ones like that.

Brian Ward ended up walking off for the Keys that night.

Saturday and Sunday were a birthday present from my best friend - we went up to Moosic to see my PawSox play the SWB Yankees. I have quite a few notes from these games, in fact, so let's bullet-point these.
  • The SWB Yankees really struggle on the double play. There were several opportunities in both games for them to turn them, and they were too slow on nearly all of them. The runner moving to first repeatedly beat out the throw. Got me wondering how effective the middle infield's really been for them.
  • Jose Iglesias is the real deal. I also think he's not quite ready yet, though, because he was rushing on some plays and he made a couple of errors. Although he's definitely offensively ready to go, he's got a long ways to go defensively still. He just needs to stop rushing and relax - he doesn't need to prove anything, since we know he's good!
  • Josh Reddick (above, right) looks like Jayson Werth right now. In the above image of him on third base, he is clearly pretending to be in a shampoo commercial.
  • Lars Anderson (left) has the greatest mullet of all time right now. I have nicknamed him Thor in addition to already referring to him as Tycho Celchu.
  • The SWB Yankees are getting a stadium makeover soon. This is highly needed, since nobody seems to go to the stadium anymore, the screens have spots on them where the lights are out, there are no highlights whatsoever because the screens are still in black and white, and the fans just don't seem very engaged with the game or the filler contests in-between innings. I'm excited to see the stadium redux, because going to games in Moosic is really sad - it's depressing to see a franchise as storied and popular as the Yankees not being able to draw fans in.
Three of us scooted up to Binghamton the day after. Robert Carson definitely didn't bring his A-game for us - or rather, he brought his A-game, but not his AA-game. New Britain actually won 8-5 (although there may have been a scoring error, since my two friends with me say the score should have been 9-5). The best part of the game was the discounted prices - on Markdown Mondays, the B-Mets sell everything at the price it was at in their inaugural season, 1992. This meant we got lots of good food (I got a big tub of popcorn and a souvenir cup for $6). We also got some bad food, as you can see from my friends' reactions to the banana-flavored cotton candy (my best friend and roommate, Mary, is on the left and our other amazing friend, Nick, is on the right). I also bought a bat that had been used by Sean Ratliff. Oops, me.

One of my favorite minor leaguers, Chris Cates, is on the Rock Cats, so I'd love it if you could all show him some love. He's the same height as me, 5'2", so I jokingly refer to him as my Spirit Animal. I'm very much a fan. (Some of the fans in the crowd were yelling horrible things at him. It broke my heart.)

As much as I love seeing the AA Mets, though, the highlights at a B-Mets game are their mascots, particularly Bingo, who comes out of the home bullpen and dances every time a B-Mets run crosses the plate. Every. Single. Time. It's hysterical. Bingo is famous, of course, for falling over the wall after a homer by Lucas Duda, to the point where he'll come up on a Google search for the phrase 'Lucas Duda Bee.' Play him off, Keyboard Cat.

Basically, if you can get out there to Binghamton, you have to go. It's a real experience, trust me.

Over this trip, I definitely got quite a few scouting reports, and I've got a good idea of what the big clubs might be looking for in these kids. It was also fun to hit up three different cities in four days and get a little bit of the culture in each one - that's my favorite part of Minor League Baseball trips, seeing America. If anything, that might just be the best thing about Minor League Baseball in general - you see the country in a whole new light as you actually explore it, and that's an experience you'll absolutely never forget. My I-81 adventure? Totally worth it.

Besides, the Hot Dog Horse posed for me in Binghamton. Made my night.

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