Posted by: Ryan | May 11, 2011

The Game Within the Game

About 15 years ago, when I was re-examining my inherited faith following my mother’s death, a friend pressed me to define my new set of beliefs. I was pretty sure I was no longer a Christian, I told him, but I couldn’t put a name to who I was. There was no “ism” or “ite” that explained the new me to my satisfaction, so I was left instead with a list of things that I loved.

This was back in the days of physical letters, so my friend still has that list. But I can remember some of the things on it: John Coltrane solos, writing in a spiral-bound notebook, playing guitar on a sunny morning. Cats. Bicycles. Building wood fires in a cast-iron stove. And the green of the left-field wall at Fenway Park.

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Posted by: Ryan | May 1, 2011

This Week in Baseball

Today marks the one-year anniversary of seeing my first minor league game as part of this blog. It also marks the first time this year that the weather has approached “summery.”

Which is good, because I’ll be seeing three games this week, ranging from Double-A to the majors. Here’s the rundown:

  • Monday: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. the Boston Red Sox
  • Thursday: New Hampshire Fisher Cats vs. the Reading Phillies
  • Sunday: Pawtucket Red Sox vs. the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees

Thursday and Sunday’s games are sandwiched around a trip to Lancaster, PA for my father’s wedding (an event that I’m sure will influence at least one of my upcoming essays).

Thursday’s game starts at 11:05 am. I’m hoping to get some face time with the Paw Sox at Sunday’s game. And I’m already anticipating Zenning out at Fenway tomorrow night.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Posted by: Ryan | April 30, 2011

Game called on account of Maine

Another reason to like the Portland Sea Dogs: one of their games this week was called in the seventh inning because of fog.

Photo of Hadlock Field in fog delayPhoto by the Portland Sea Dogs.

Posted by: Ryan | April 23, 2011

Game Two: Fun Town

Date: April 22, 2011
Score: New Britain Rock Cats 9, Portland Sea Dogs 7 (box score)
photos from the game

The week off from school and work hadn’t gone as we had hoped. We wanted temperatures in the mid-60s, blue skies, the garden soil dry enough for planting. The hammock, the bikes, the dinners outdoors. The erasure of a brutal winter, and the sense that life was about to get much better.

What we got instead was temperatures in the mid-40s, rain, some sleet, some snow, the garden sodden and dispirited. Another week spent indoors after a winter full of such weeks.

So we headed to the coast, to Portland, Maine, where we hoped it might be warmer. And if hope failed this time, there were some things we could count on: hipster craft shops, good restaurants, and – the biggest draw for our nine-year-old – a swimming pool at the hotel. Already she’s a better swimmer than I was at that age, and well on her way to being a better swimmer than I am now.

I also hoped to get to see the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Red Sox. I wanted to revisit Hadlock Field, where I had experienced a Perfect Moment last summer, and which stands in a dead heat with Reading, PA as my favorite place to see a ballgame. If the weather gods smiled upon us, I thought, I could possibly take in two games, one on Thursday night, and the other on Friday. We could leave right after the game on Friday night. The Sox were on the West Coast and I could listen to the 10:05 radio broadcast as I pulled the late shift on the three-hour drive home.

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Posted by: Ryan | April 11, 2011

Game One: Opening Day

Date: April 7, 2011
Score: Trenton Thunder 5, NH Fisher Cats 1 (box score)
photos from the game

Garrison Keillor once told a tale of a hockey playoff game in rural Saskatchewan, a close-fought contest that the home team lost on a last-minute goal. He told of how the crowd stood in the stands, disbelieving, as the visiting team celebrated on the ice. The metal-sided arena slowly filled with the unspoken realization that the hockey season was now over, and all that was left was winter, stretching unbroken and unmitigated ahead.

What is the opposite of that emptiness, that wintry despair?

Perhaps it’s the feeling of walking into a ballfield in a northern town, on the first warmish day of the new year, to see a hastily-assembled group of 21- and 22-year-olds play baseball on barely green grass, under a tepid sky.

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Posted by: Ryan | March 23, 2011

Alumni

We’re a week away from the start of the regular major league season, two weeks away from the start of Double-A. (And for you Vermont Lake Monsters fans out there, we’re, oh, three months away from your Opening Day. Enjoy the snow.)

I usually don’t pay much attention to Spring Training, but this year I’ve been keeping tabs on some of the players I watched during my minor league trips last year. I saw a *lot* of players, far too many to remember them all. I took a photo of the lineup board each night, just in case I one day wanted to prove that I had seen a certain star back when he was only a prospect. Because otherwise it might be hard to remember.

Every stadium had a lineup board, and there would always be a crowd of balding, pudgy guys – ahem – scribing down the names in their scorebooks before the first pitch.

So, a couple of names from last year, getting play in the press:

  1. Tim Collins, the former Fisher Cats’ closer, who hit 97 on the radar gun during a June game I saw last summer, has moved up the ladder to Triple-A, and is the odds-on favorite to become the new setup man for the Kansas City Royals. From the Boston Globe: Collins making his case for Royals’ setup role.
  2. Brad Emaus, the former Fisher Cats’ second baseman, who I saw hit a towering home run at a game in Binghamton, seems poised to take over the position for the Mets. The New York Mets, not the Binghamton B-Mets. Emaus Takes Lead in Mets’ Second-Base Competition.
  3. Jesus Montero, who I watched warm up the pitchers at close distance in Scranton, barking out commands in barely intelligible Spanish, will probably start the season up at the parent Yankee club, because of an injury to another catcher. Cervelli Fractures Foot, Altering Yankees’ Plan for Younger Catchers.
  4. Domonic Brown, my muse last summer, broke his hand on a swing early Spring Training. He will be out for 4 to 6 weeks.

As many have said, this game is designed to break your heart. Or at least your hand.

On to Opening Day.

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