August Recap

August was more quantity-than-quality for us lineup card-wise.

We ended up with 11 lineup cards, but six were of the “official batting order” variety.

That said, we got a few cool dugout lineup cards:

  • Our first-ever lineup card from a professional All Star game, the New York Penn League ASG. The short-season Class A NYPL is a long way from Major League Baseball, but some of the players in the NYPL ASG will inevitably end up in The Show at some point.  Getting the lineup card also lessened the disappointment of not getting a NYPL ASG ball…because for whatever reason, they decided not to have an ASG ball.

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  • We got our first dugout lineup card from the Aberdeen Ironbirds.

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  • And we got a unique lineup card from the Sugar Land Skeeters.  The Skeeters were forced to prolong their road trip due to Hurricane Harvey, and presumably did not bring enough of their own lineup cards.  So, they used a modified New Britain Bees’ lineup card.

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The 2017 season is slowly coming to a close, but we are not done yet…

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8/29/17 – Free For All (Part 2)

Sean and I made it to the last few innings of Tuesday’s Noon 7-inning game between Sugar Land and New Britain.  Like Monday, there was no charge for paring or admission, they were just looking for a donation to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

There were a few more people at Tuesday’s game than Monday’s game, and definitely a few more kids ballhawking.

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Still, Sean, sitting just left of the net in the top section, had much of the third base side of the stadium to himself.  Unfortunately, nothing came his way.  We did get a foul ball that left the stadium, and someone from the Sugar Land bullpen tossed Sean a ball without him asking, so we had no complaints.

Like the day before, the Bees were offering a hot dog for each ball returned to the concession stand.  We have plenty of Atlantic League balls, and brought three with us which we traded in for hot dogs.

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The game was a good one.  The Skeeters were again playing as the home team.  The score was tied 0-0 heading into the bottom of the 7th.  Sugar Land got its lead-off runner on, and one out later, he tried to steal 2nd base.  The throw clearly beat the runner, but according to the umpire, the runner snuck his hand in before the tag.

It was the turning point of the game as with two outs, Sugar Land got a base hit and the runner on second scored for the 1-0 Skeeter win.

Sean had decided to try for Sugar Land’s lineup card again, despite being told “no” the day before after a Sugar Land loss.  Apparently, the win made the difference as a Skeeter coach filling in for manager Gary Gaetti gave Sean the card.

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Sean waiting for the lineup card after the game

The major surprise was that it wasn’t a Skeeters’ card, but rather, a Bees’ card with tape over the New Britain logo.

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Our assumption is that the Skeeters didn’t bring enough of their own lineup cards with them given that this series was to have been played in Texas, and had to get one from the Bees.  While we would have liked a Skeeters’ card, we already have a couple from past seasons, and the modified Skeeters’ card is unique.

2017: 33 lineup cards (18 dugout/bullpen; 15 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 155 lineup cards (105 dugout/bullpen; 47 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League. MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).

8/28/17 – Free For All

The New Britain Bees ended up with a surprise home stand this week.  Due to Hurricane Harvey and the flooding in Texas, it was announced yesterday that the Bees @ Sugar Land Skeeters series was moved from Texas to New Britain.

I assume for a few reasons including the lack of time to market the series, it was decided not to charge admission to the four-game series being played over three days, with a twin bill Tuesday afternoon.

Kate, Sean and I headed over to today’s 4pm game a little late due to work.  We made a donation to the flood relief efforts and walked into a largely empty stadium.

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Kate counted about 75 people in the stands.

We figured it would be a ballhawker’s paradise, and it largely was.  There were a few other kids roaming around, end even a few adults chased balls, but there were plenty for all.

Sean pretty much had the upper section of the 3B line to himself.

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That’s Sean in the maroon shirt up top, with no one near him

Kate had a similar situation in a shaded area on the 1B side, but she was happy to read, and never had a ball hit near her anyway.

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We ended up with 8 balls: one home run, five foul balls and two toss-ups Sean got after the game.  He gave two balls away, including one to a little ball who was beaten out for a foul ball a couple minutes earlier.

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Sean (red shirt) making me proud giving a ball away!

In the picture above, Bees’ General Manager Gerry Berthiaume (black shirt) was being interviewed by a local newscaster, presumably about the fact that the series was moved from Texas to New Britain due to the flooding.

Sugar Land was playing as the home team, and led 2-0 on an Anthony Giansanti home run that Sean ended up with.

It was 2-1 in the top of the 9th when New Britain’s Jon Griffin crushed a one out, 2-run homer to give New Brtain the lead.  The Bees hung on for the one-run win.

Sean had decided to go for the Skeeters’ lineup card.  For whatever reason manager Gary Gaetti, who has given us his card a few times before, was not at the game.  The interim manager told Sean “no” with respect to the lineup card.  Maybe it was because Sugar Land lost a tough game?

Meanwhile, Kate got the usual dugout and two batting order cards from New Britain manager Stan Cliburn.

Not bad considering we didn’t expect to have a baseball game to go to today.

Most importantly, we send our thoughts and prayers to all those in Texas being impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

2017: 32 lineup cards (17 dugout/bullpen; 15 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 154 lineup cards (104 dugout/bullpen; 47 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League. MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).

8/25/17 – 150 & Counting

Sean and I checked into New Britain Stadium Friday night for the Long Island Ducks at the New Britain Bees.

It was a gorgeous night for baseball, just enough of a chill in the air to warrant a jacket for some.

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There were a few hundred people at the game, perhaps 500 if we are generous, despite the box score claiming 3,329.  Frankly, if the Bees can’t pull in more than a few hundred people on a great night weather-wise with no other baseball games within 50 miles and most people back from vacation, it makes me wonder if this marriage with New Britain is going to last.

On the field, the Bees jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the 6th inning.  But the Ducks had battled back to within one run, 4-3, through the top of the 8th.

New Britain, with the worst record in the Atlantic League, tacked on a key insurance run in the bottom of the 8th, then escaped with the tying run on first in the 9th for the 5-3 win.

I went to two Ducks @ Bees games earlier this season.  Ducks manager Kevin Baez gave me his lineup card when they won, but not when they lost.  So, we decided to just try for the Bees lineup card.  Manager Stan Cliburn has been great about giving his card away win or lose in his nearly two seasons as Bees manager.

Sean got in position by the home plate side of the dugout with a few other kids after the game ended.

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Sean to the left, and Bees manager Stan Cliburn in the black jacket to the left after the game

Sean was the only one asking for a lineup card, and Cliburn gave him his dugout lineup card as well as the two official batting order cards.

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The three cards in total Friday night raised our lifetime total to 151 in a little less than three years of chasing lineup cards.

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A Bees win, a couple more Atlantic League 20th season commemorative balls and three lineup cards.  It was a good night all around!

2017: 29 lineup cards (16 dugout/bullpen; 13 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 151 lineup cards (103 dugout/bullpen; 45 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League. MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).

 

8/20/17 – Hiking & Baseball

It has become a tradition of sorts for Kate and I to combine a hike and a baseball game at some point during the summer.

So, early yesterday afternoon, Kate and I headed across the border into NY and hiked what was for us a new section of the Appalachian Trail.

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We then headed another 20 minutes further west to Dutchess Stadium, home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.  The Renegades were hosting the Aberdeen Ironbirds in a 5pm New York Penn League tilt.

The first thing we did when we got to the stadium was to walk around the outside of the outfield wall.  We found a few balls, including a very wet 2017 Florida Spring Training ball.

The game itself was all Renegades.  Hudson Valley jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 3rd inning and coasted to a 7-0 win.

Aberdeen managed just three hits.  We ended up with one of them, a 9th inning ground rule double by Zach Jarrett.  The ball was still there when we walked back there after the game.

We also scored our first HR ball this season, an Oscar Rojas solo shot in the 8th inning.

Our game plan for after the game was for Kate to try for Aberdeen’s lineup card, and me to try for the umpire’s cards as well as Hudson Valley’s dugout lineup card.

We were successful on two-of-the-three.  Kate got the Aberdeen card, and I got the two official batting order cards from the umpire.  Hudson Valley manager Craig Albernaz said that he keeps his dugout lineup card.

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We’d gotten an Aberdeen official batting order card in the past, but not the dugout lineup card, so that was good.  A couple interesting things on that:

  • Ryan Ripken, son of Cal Ripken Jr, is a reserve first baseman for the Ironbirds.  On the dugout card, there is a typo in the spelling of Ripken’s name: “Ri[pken”.  I would think that’s a fireable offense in Bird land.
  • Hudson Valley starting pitcher Brendan McKay was Tampa’s 1st round draft pick this year, and 4th overall.  He both pitches and plays first base for the Renegades.
  • I’m not sure how to describe the back of the Aberdeen lineup card:

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I guess it was a printing mistake.  It appears that the Hudson Valley lineup card from the previous night’s game is superimposed over the Aberdeen lineup card for Sunday’s game, or maybe it was the other way around.  Whatever the case, it’s yet another lineup card odyssey, and why it is fun to collect them!

2017: 26 lineup cards (15 dugout/bullpen; 11 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 148 lineup cards (102 dugout/bullpen; 43 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League. MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).

8/15/17 – NYPL, Tri-City Drop the Ball on NYPL ASG Baseball

I’d been looking forward to the 2017 New York Penn League (NYPL) All Star Game (ASG) since it was announced a year earlier.  It was being played at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy, NY, just outside of Albany and home of the Tri-City Valley Cats, about 2:10 from where we live.  I even made sure to schedule our vacation so as not to interfere with it.

We’ve been to three-of-the-last four NYPL ASGs, and scored at least one ASG ball at each.  I was hoping to make it four-out-of-five.

I was all but certain that an ASG ball would be used because they were used the last four years.  Still, I decided to tweet the Tri-City Valley Cats over the weekend to make sure.  They never responded.  I didn’t bother to tweet the NYPL because their Twitter account is horribly out of date.

I didn’t think much of not getting a response, partly because we had just gotten back from vacation and I had many other things going on, and partly because I just assumed they would use an ASG ball, and Troy isn’t that far away, relatively speaking.

At this point, you know where this is going.  They didn’t use an ASG ball this year.  I got the first foul ball to fly out of the stadium in the bottom of the 5th inning, and sadly, it was a regular NYPL ball.

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If there was any doubt, I got another later on and it was the same.  I gave both balls away to kids.

So, why didn’t they have an ASG ball?  I ran into this a few years ago in New Britain, when the then Rock Cats (now, Yard Goats) hosted the Eastern League ASG, and didn’t have an ASG ball.  I was told that the decision of whether or not to have an ASG ball is made by the host team.  I assume it was the same story here, that it was Tri-City’s decision.  I imagine it costs a few bucks to get however many ASG balls are needed.  But 1) if college summer baseball leagues like the Cape Cod League and FCBL can afford such balls, why can’t a MiLB team do the same, and 2) you should be able to find a sponsor to defray or even cover the cost of the balls, especially when you can sell some of them in your souvenir shop (the Brooklyn Cyclones sold all theirs out two years ago).

But I am not letting the NYPL off the hook because having an ASG ball, when most if not all MiLB leagues that host ASGs that I am aware of have one, shouldn’t be a decision left up to the team.  If a team can’t — or won’t — afford a few dozen ASG balls, they shouldn’t host the ASG.  Heck, Triple A even had a Home Run Derby ball and a National Championship ball.  It makes the NYPL look incredibly cheap.

I did get a “towel-toss,” for what that’s worth.

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Given the ball situation, I watched most of the rest of the game from inside the stadium.

Despite the sketchy weather to start, it turned out to be a decent night for baseball, and the game drew just over 5,000, filling most of the stadium, although a fair number left before the end of the game.

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Managers don’t always bother with lineup cards at ASGs like this, so I didn’t have much expectation-wise in that regard.  I did not spot anything that looked like a lineup card in the North team’s dugout, but I was all but positive South manager Joe Kruzel had one posted in his dugout, directly behind where #17 is standing in the picture above.

I positioned myself close to the South dugout at the end of the game, and asked Kruzel for his lineup card, which he kindly game it to me.

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The card is both bland and yet unique all-in-one.  There’s no mention of “NYPL ASG”, a date, stadium, etc.  However, the watermark on the left side of the card is from the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League.  The connection is that Kruzel managed there the last three years.

Getting the lineup card took away some of the sting of there not being a NYPL ASG ball.

And I learned a valuable lesson that before I head out for a 2-plus-hour drive thinking that I have a chance to snag a special ball, I need to make sure that there is a special ball being used!

2017: 23 lineup cards (14 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)

Lifetime: 145 lineup cards (101 dugout/bullpen; 41 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League. MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).

July Recap

I’m not sure how July could have gone any better:

  • We went to seven games and got at least one lineup card at five (we didn’t stay until the end of the other two games), and seven lineup cards total.
  • We went to four new stadiums: Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds); UC Health Stadium (Florence Freedom); Dwyer Stadium (Batavia Muckdogs); and Security Service Field (Colorado Springs Sky Sox).
  • We got Frontier League 25th Anniversary, Future Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) 2017 ASG and Cape Cod League 2017 ASG balls.  As an added bonus, we also snagged a Cape Cod League 2016 ASG ball during BP.
  • We got lineup cards from two new leagues, PCL and Frontier, and from six new teams altogether: Nationals, Cornbelters, Freedom, Muckdogs Rainiers and Sky Sox.

 

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From Kate/my midwest road trip

The rest of the season will be a let down relative to July, but we’ll keep at it.