Pictures: CornBelters Games 7/20/13

A gorgeous night for some gorgeous girls at the ol’ ballpark.

Girls night
The gorgeous girls in question.
First pitch.
First pitch.
Glad to have you back, Mike Mobbs.
Glad to have you back, Mike Mobbs.
Gorgeous night for a ballgame.
Gorgeous night for a ballgame.
We believe this to be the loudest, longest conversation about where to have dinner in the history of baseball.
We believe this to be the loudest, longest conversation about where to have dinner in the history of baseball.
The final out.
The final out.
CornBelters Win!
CornBelters Win!

 

CornBelters vs. Otters 7/20/13

Normal CornBelters

I don’t know how you work your girls nights, but ours have a tendency to involve baseball. This time we went to see the CornBelters play the Evansville Otters.

Despite Mike Mobbs losing the battle with the sun early in the game (he dropped two catches), some hits, and a few walks, the only run the Otters scored was on a home run that tipped off the glove of Keoni Manago. The CornBelters managed to come from behind, manufacturing a couple of runs to win the game.

The Otters manager got ejected at one point. I’m pretty sure it was for commenting loudly on balls and strikes since the ump’s zone was rather inconsistent. After he got the boot, he came out to let the ump know exactly how he felt. His feelings were long-winded and he took his sweet time walking back to the clubhouse. We were all disappointed when he didn’t stop at the corn they have planted on the berm to grab an ear and chuck it out on the field in protest.

The pitching was pretty stellar on both sides despite the ump. Aside from that home run and a few walks and hits, Ryan Demmin was on it. Jose Trinidad and Alan Oaks were fabulous in relief. It was a really great game.

I’m happy to see Mike Mobbs  back with the Belters. He was a favorite during the 2011 season and I missed his face last year. He also has the best walk-up music, Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane”. You can’t beat that, though I wish some of the guys would try.

It was a gorgeous night for baseball and our seats were superb. The win was just the icing on the cake. We couldn’t ask for a better girls night, really.

Let’s go Corn!

Pictures: CornBelters Game 6/7/13

What follows is photographic evidence that I had a good time at the CornBelters game last week, even if they did lose.

A corn dog at the Corn Crib for the CornBelters game. I'm sensing a theme.
A corn dog at the Corn Crib for the CornBelters game. I’m sensing a theme.
The starting line-ups.
The starting line-ups.
It was a nice night for baseball.
It was a nice night for baseball.
First pitch of the game. It was a ball.
First pitch of the game. It was a ball.
Hit it hard somewhere, McKenna!
Hit it hard somewhere, McKenna!
First place feels pretty spiffy.
First place feels pretty spiffy.

My First CornBelters Game of 2013

Normal CornBelters

Things are a little different this season. Yeah, there was again a significant roster turnover in the off-season (I recognize a couple of names, though!) and we’ve got a new manager again, but this team came out of the gate winning. Winning so much that they’ve got one of the best records in the Frontier League and were in first place in the division by the time I went to this game. That’s pretty spiffy for a team that couldn’t buy a win last year.

Of course, they didn’t win at the game I went to. In fact, the first two innings, they looked a lot like the team I watched last season. Three errors and nine runs in the first two innings; six of those runs scored on two outs. I thought I was looking at another blowout (I watched them challenge the need for a mercy rule last year in one of their games). But, they managed to shore it up and didn’t allow another run for the next seven innings. In fact, they played pretty good ball after that.

Except for the scoring part. Three runs was all they could manage despite some pretty nice offensive numbers from several of their players.

Ah, well. It was a good time anyway. I took my three nieces to the game. For three girls that aren’t really that much into baseball, they love the Corn Crib. And it’s not even the distractions like the video board, face painting, kid zone, Corny, and/or food that get them going (especially since the only running around they’re allowed to do once the game starts is to go to the bathroom). It’s just the whole ballpark experience. They really enjoy themselves. Particularly when they’re able to make up dances to the walk-up music. Romulo Ruiz and David Medina are now their two favorite players because of this.

The after-game fireworks set to classic rock is a big winner, too.

The one drawback was a guy sitting near us who felt that it was his duty to yell encouragement to every ‘Belter that came up the plate. For every pitch.

Folks, I cannot stress enough that you should not be this guy. This is not little league and you are not their parent (even if it was little league and you were their parent it would still be annoying, but at least understandable and you’d only be doing it for your kid, not every player). It’s cool to applaud and whoop when the guy comes up to bat, but he doesn’t need your extra loud words for every pitch. And if at any time your unnecessarily loud voice is used to say, “Kill the umpire!” or call the umpire a ref when you’re heckling him, then you need to find a well to throw yourself down. Because you’re not cool. You’re an asshole.

Rule of thumb: When an eight year old wants to fight you, you’re being obnoxious.

But never mind the jerks.

Let’s go Corn!

So, About 2012…

Pat Hughes

I was going to do some kind of reflective, year-end post about 2012, but I’ll be honest…I don’t really feel like it.

Most of it was pretty boring. I did boring, routine things. I struggled to pay my bills, used up a big part of my savings, felt like a complete failure, failed to meet many of the writing goals, and totally lacked any kind of success on the professional front (and most of the personal front, too). Really nothing to get into or write the Internet about.

But I did rarely have the occasion to do some cool things. I went to Cubs Con and Casino Night. I saw the Cubs lose their 100th game of the season, but Pat Hughes waved at me and that totally kills any of that pain. Let me repeat that. Pat Hughes waved at me.

I was able to hang out with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time (Hi, Becca!) and I met some really cool people, too (Hi, Harry!). I reconnected via social media with some people I haven’t seen in ages (Hi, Josh!) and I met some really cool people that way, too (Hi, everybody!).

I found out just what I’d do to try to make a life and a career my way and just how frustrating and hard that can be (and just how frustrating and hard I can be, too).

I changed a little, grew a little. It wasn’t all fantastic and glamorous. Most of it wasn’t. But it wasn’t an absolute waste either.

2012 was okay. And it’s a good thing I went through it because I have a feeling that 2013 won’t be much different.

I’m ready.

Pictures: Cubs vs. Astros 10/1/12

Pictures from my last Cubs game of the 2012 season and the Cubs 100th loss. Don’t let the downer qualities of that sentence fool you. I had a good time.

This is where Pat and Keith live.
This is where Len and Bob live.
Jason Berken’s first pitch of the game.
Dave Sappelt at the plate.
James Russell on the mound.
Len and Bob singing the stretch. This is when Pat Hughes waved at me.

 

Carlos Marmol closing it out.
Until next year…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Saw 100

I got up at 6:30 yesterday morning knowing full well that after working two of my three current day jobs that I was going to drive three hours to Chicago, take the park ‘n’ ride bus to Wrigley, see my last Cubs game of the year, drive three hours home, and be up at 6:30 this morning and it might all possibly be for loss number 100.

Well, it was.

I’m running on four hours of sleep and pretty much just trying to get this written so I can go take a nap so I have no idea how coherent it might be. But I’m going to give it a shot.

I’ve never experienced the Cubs losing 100 games in a season. I find it to be a bummer. I’d much rather my team win. And they didn’t. I was really kind of hoping they’d pull off the sweep and avoid the 100. It’d mean nothing. Many people have pointed out that losing 99 is no different than losing 100, but it would have been something of salvage. A tiny morale boost in the midst of a tough season. It would have been nice.

But it didn’t happen. That’s a stone drag.

But it could be worse.

How?

Well, look at it like this. The Cubs will continue they’re rebuilding in 2013 in the NL Central. The Astros will continue their rebuilding in 2013 in AL West. Who would you rather suffer with? I thought so.

The thing about 100 losses is that it puts a team and its fans in an interesting position. How does management respond to this? How does the coaching staff? How do the players? How do the fans?

Now, I can hardly manage a fantasy team so I’m hardly qualified to speculate on what management should or shouldn’t do, will or won’t do, but I’m going to guess that Jed Hoyer’s not bullshitting when he says they’ll be looking at affordable, serviceable starting pitching. That seems like a pretty good place to start.

The coaches probably like being employed, even by a losing team, so I bet they’ve come up with all sorts of good things they want the players to work on. And the players probably have their own ideas about how they should improve, unless Darwin Barney is the only one that doesn’t like complacency (I’m willing to bet money that at least one other guy on the team doesn’t like complacency either).

And the fans? Well, the fans will continue to bitch and moan and whine and go out on ledges and nail themselves to crosses and rail against certain players, the coaches, the management, the owners, etc., and remind the world about how much better the team would be if they were in charge because, well, that’s what fans do.

A few of them, however, will be left standing at the end of another long season of possibly sub-.500 ball (but not another 100 losses; I don’t know that this team has it in them to do it again), sad to see another fall encroach upon their summer fun even if their team was dreadful because they tend to focus on the short term–this game, this inning, this pitch–rather than the long term. Because that’s what fans do, too.

Here’s the thing, kids. I’m all about the journey. Sure, I want to win. I like winning. I can’t wait for a Cubs World Series win. It’s going to be sweet. But I’m just as interested in the trip as I am the destination. 100 losses is part of the trip. The sucky part of the trip to be sure, but in order to fully appreciate the end win, the whole journey should be experienced.  Zen, no?

At least that’s how I look at it.

But, of course, I’m sleepy.

Observations on a Tiff

It’s like an aggressive Where’s Waldo picture.

When the Cubs and Nationals “brawled” last week many fans immediately got on their high horses to give their opinions on the whole thing. And that’s fine. I, on the other hand, tried to get down as close as I could to the action so I could see what was going on.

Baseball fights fascinate me. Most of the time it looks like a typical “guy fight” (some pushing, some shoving, a few crappy punches maybe, and a whole lot of yow-yowin’). The cause doesn’t interest me as much as who does what during the confrontation. Who’s first out of the dugout? Who leads the charge from the bullpen? Who’s playing peacekeeper? Who’s looking for a piece of the action.

I must have watched this tiff forty times (and paused 140 times) to get an idea of what was going on. And since this bruhaha had two bench clearings and three separate altercations, there was a lot to see.

Round One:

-The Cubs in the dugout really weren’t paying much attention to Jamie Quirk yelling at Bo Porter.

-When Bo Porter stopped at the top of the dugout stairs, the first guys to Dale Sveum’s side were Tony Campana, Luis Valbuena, Wellington Castillo, and Jeff Samardzija.

-James Russell led the charge from the bullpen.

-Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro strolled over to the confrontation. Alfonso Soriano and Brett Jackson hustled.

-Jeff Beliveau peeking over the bullpen fence at the fuss cracks me up every time I see it.

Round Two:

-Joe Mather, Campana, Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt, Samardzija, and Anthony Recker were first out of the dugout after Lendy Castillo went inside on Bryce Harper.

-Russell again led the charge from the bullpen. Carlos Marmol and Manny Corpas were laughing and nudging each other as they ran in. Franklin Font runs pretty damn fast while wearing shin guards.

-Even Lester Strode ran in! (PS. I love Lester.)

Round Three:

-Corpas was part of the reason round three started. Anthony Rizzo tried to play peacemaker.

-Russell, Samardzija, Recker, and Blake Parker were right on the front line.

-Barney kind of got sucked into the crowd at one point, but they spit him out unharmed. Same thing happened to Rizzo.

-Some guys moved to the back of the crowd, some guys couldn’t get close enough. Chris Volstad, Campana, and Wood were three looking to get in on it. Travis Wood looked like this wasn’t his first rodeo. (I’m sure he and his mullet have seen many bar brawls.) (That was a joke.)

-Bryan LaHair was one of the peacekeepers.

-A Nats player had a hold of the front of Samardzija’s jersey and was swinging from it like a monkey when everyone was doing their share of shoving and I’m not sure Shark noticed.

-Some how Kurt Suzuki managed to keep a towel around his neck the whole time despite being in the thick of things at one point. (I wasn’t going to keep this strictly Cubs, but that really impressed me.)

-Dale Sveum and Dave McKay looked pretty calm throughout the whole thing. Pat Listach must have rowdy kids. He looked like a dad breaking things up. James Rowson was right in the thick of things, pulling guys apart and separating them.

-Many of the guys had a look of “WTF?” on their faces. Those guys were more to the back of the most pit. Several players (David DeJesus was one) didn’t seem to get too excited.

I was kind of impressed with the way the Cubs came together. Everyone answered the fight bell (okay, the second time Soriano jogged in, but he really needs to preserve his wheels) and while tempers flared, there were enough cooler heads to keep things from getting too out of hand. Everybody seemed to feel the need to protect his teammates. Nobody was left to hang. I appreciate that.

Yes, I realize this is unpopular opinion. But then, isn’t every opinion I have about baseball/the Cubs unpopular?

Yeah. Put away your surprise face.

Pictures: My Last CornBelters Game of 2012

My last game was actually July 21st, but I didn’t realize it was going to be my last game of the season. I also didn’t realize until this week that I never posted the pictures I took from that game. How could I deprive you of that?

First pitch: Normal CornBelters vs. London Rippers
The Rippers uniforms look a lot like track suits.
Swing as they might…
…the Belters just couldn’t score.
Game worn jersey auction for the Special Olympics. The jerseys came straight off the guys’ backs.

The season wasn’t the greatest and I would have rather my last game of the season not be a blowout loss, but it I’m still going to miss sad to the see the season end.

And I can’t wait for next year.

2012 CornBelters Season Ends

I’m afraid I didn’t go to many CornBelters games this year. Aside from the Home Run Derby and the All-Star game, I only went to two. One was a suspended due to rain in the 3rd inning. The other was a blowout loss, but at least I got all nine innings in.

There were two reasons I didn’t go much this season. One was, of course, money. Not that the tickets cost much; those prices are quite nice. But the cost of gas and the cost of concessions add up and all told, it was money I couldn’t afford to spend even if I wanted to.

And the second reason is I didn’t really want to. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Corn Crib and I love the Belters, but this team was in such flux it was hard to get into a groove. It seemed like every other week a player was traded. I realize that the manager was trying to put together a winning team (that didn’t work out since they went 29-67), but as a fan, it was rough.

Part of the fun of last season was rooting for the players individually as well as the team. We knew the names and the numbers. The 2011 team was blown up pretty early and I was up to the challenge of learning the new guys and finding new favorites. But then the new guys didn’t hang around very long either. There was no time to get to know many of them because if you blinked, they were gone. Once Alvaro Ramirez got traded after the All-Star game, I gave up. There was no point. I didn’t know the team and wasn’t going to be given time to get to know the team.

I like going to ballgames, but for me, I like it when I can relate to the team I’m rooting beyond the numbers on the jersey. It was a lot of fun cheering for Mike Mobbs and Ramirez and Bobby Pritchett last year. I knew their names, knew their numbers, knew their walk-up music. It was like rooting for friends.

This season I was rooting for a bunch of strangers that I wasn’t allowed to get to know. It wasn’t as much fun. As such, I wasn’t as het up and driven to go to games. I feel bad about that.

I hope next year the players are able to hang around longer so the fans have someone to root for. Winning draws fans, but so does a little consistency.