Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Yomiuri Giants 7 at Yakult Swallows 4 (11) - July 15, 2019

Every year, NPB schedules several neutral-site games around the country. Teams play a regular season game that counts in the standings at a stadium in a region that doesn't see much baseball. During the entire time I lived in Japan, I never once attended one of these games, since many of them were on weeknights and not close to Tokyo, making travel a bit expensive. So when this trip came about, I looked at the schedule hoping to see a neutral-site battle, and was delighted to find that my team Yakult would be taking on the hated Yomiuri Giants in Nagano on Monday, a holiday. What made this perfect is that I had bought a JR Pass for the trip to Niigata the previous weekend, and could use that pass to get to and from Nagano for free on the Shinkansen. So on Monday morning, I headed to Tokyo Station, and 93 minutes later, I was in Nagano, 236 kilometres away. Below is the view of the station from my hotel.

The game was being played at Nagano's Olympic Stadium, which held the opening and closing ceremonies back in 1998. I attended several hockey games during those Olympics, including Canada's shootout loss to the Czech Republic, but had no interest in the ceremonies, so was glad to have a chance to add this venue to my list.

The stadium is located south of the city, close to Shinonoi Station, which is four stops and about 12 minutes away from Nagano. Although there was a shuttle bus from Nagano Station for 1,000 yen round trip, it was cheaper to use my JR Pass to get to Shinonoi and take a shuttle bus from there for 400 yen. I was not the only one doing so; the train was packed with fans. The shuttle bus took about 20 minutes, and dropped us off behind the stadium, forcing us to walk around almost the entire venue to reach the gates.

It is quite the concrete monstrosity, looking more like a Soviet-era venue than one built in futuristic Japan. Large rounded concrete fingers combine to form hands that cup the seating bowl, as you can see above. The surrounding area is now a sports park, and contains the Olympic Cauldron among other attractions, but I did not have time to do a tour.

As I've mentioned before, Japanese ticketing systems do not allow you to pick specific seats when you buy tickets at convenience stores, so I ended up well down the line. The good thing is that my seat was under cover, on the aisle, so I was able to move around quite easily. Seats here are just like most other stadiums in Japan: benches only with molded plastic for each seat. Not comfortable, but you do get used to it.

That was a good thing because unlike most Japanese stadiums, this one allowed standing, and generally free access to everywhere but the good seats behind the plate. So I spent a few innings wandering the various sections.

The upper level was mostly general admission, and these are the tickets that I should have bought, as I could have sat in the open air directly behind the plate. Rain had been forecast, but it stayed away until after the game.

Nagano is surrounded by mountains and the views can be nice before the sun sets.

There are breaks in the action throughout the game, including a couple of long ones when the groundskeepers fix up the bases, during which time some cheerleaders come out and entertain the fans.

When I bought my ticket, I chose an option for Swallows fans, which resulted in me receiving a coupon that I could exchange for a replica jersey created just for this game. Had I known what the jersey would look like, I probably would have chosen otherwise.

The game itself was terrible. The Swallows, playing as the home team, had a 4-3 lead in the 8th when David Huff came in and promptly gave up the tying run. Of course, Yakult could not score in their last couple of innings, and we went to extras. In the 11th, the Giants had a man on first and nobody out, a perfect situation for a sacrifice bunt. Pitcher Ryota Igarashi picked up the bunt and threw wildly to first, allowing a runner to score. The following batter, Yoshiyuki Kamei, who has spent his entire 15-year career with the Giants, smoked a homer that made it 7-4 and pretty much ended my night. The game took 4:43, about an hour longer than a typical 11-inning game should take.

In Japan, they erase the scores from the first 10 innings once the 11th inning starts, so all you see above are those 3 horrible runs. I saw Yakult twice on this trip and they lost both times, not surprising as they are in last place in the Central League.


The teams split the two remaining games in the series back at Jingu. Turns out that they travel by Shinkansen as well, as the next morning when I went to the station to catch my train, there were dozens of photographers waiting to snap shots of the players.

The rail pass I was using was good for five days, so after the overnight trips to Niigata and Nagano, I had one day on which to use it. I chose to go to Takasaki, just 50 minutes from Tokyo, and watch a high school baseball game as the prefectural Koshien tournaments were underway. I ended up choosing a rainy day, and rather than waste the Shinkansen ride, I took the train to Takasaki, walked over to Takasaki Jonan Ballpark to snap a picture (above), and then headed back. The games were eventually played after a 4-hour delay and I actually watched a couple of innings online back in Tokyo.

Next Up

After a couple of nights in NYC, I'm taking a weekend trip to Detroit to see the Jays three-game series in Comerica Park.  The Tigers are one of two AL teams worse than Toronto, so I actually am hoping for a couple of wins. Check back next week to see what happened.



Thursday, July 11, 2019

Yokohama DeNA Baystars 9 at Yakult Swallows 4 - July 9, 2019

This trip to Japan was my first time back in the country in the summer since 2013 and so I had to attend a game at Jingu Stadium, my favourite venue ever since I saw the 1997 Japan Series clinched here. The Yakult Swallows were home against Yokohama for a three-game set from Monday through Wednesday, and I originally planned to attend the opener, until a friend mentioned that Tuesday's game would be half-price beer night. So Tuesday it was.

With such a good deal, I got to the stadium early to get started on the festivities. The crowd was surprisingly small, but then I remembered that most people work and half-priced beer night was not an excuse to leave early. I personally can't think of a better excuse, but that is probably why I don't run my own company.

Anyway, I grabbed some greasy food to coat the stomach, choosing some kettle corn and questionable chicken to do the job. Concessions are located on the first floor, so you will need to stop there first if you have a seat on the second level, as we did.

When you buy tickets in Japan, you generally choose an area and take what is given to you. In this case, I was happy with the location behind the plate, but not with my group being the middle 5 seats in a 9-seat row. These were 3,500 yen per seat, quite a bit given how little legroom there is, which makes getting out to get more beer somewhat difficult.

Fortunately, the beer girls come straight to your seat to deliver foamy suds for 350 yen, about $3.20. There seems to be no limit, and last call isn't until the 9th inning. Normally I hope for quick, well-played games, but on this night, a longer affair would not be criticized. And wouldn't you know it! The baseball gods smiled on me as the two teams played a terribly slow-paced game that lasted 4:14, with Yokohama winning 9-4. That allowed us to have several extra cheap beers, and by the end of it, I really didn't care who won. This was a very fun evening, and actually made me enjoy Japanese baseball again, until the next game I saw the following week. That will be the subject of the next post.


My friend Ted is the one who told me about the half-price night. A Baystars fan, he lamented that he had never seen a grand slam live after his team left the bases loaded in the early innings. In the 6th, with the Baystars having scored once to take a 5-4 lead, former MLBer Jose Lopez came to the plate with the bases loaded and sure enough, drove a no-doubter to left to clinch the game and give Ted his first live grand slam, by the team he supports no less. I saw it as a reward for passing on that bit of information to me.

Yakult won the other two games in the series.



Sunday, July 7, 2019

Omiya Ardija 1 at Albirex Niigata 2 (J League, Division 2) - July 6, 2019

I was back in Japan for a couple of weeks and for the first time, picked up a Japan Rail Pass. There are different varieties of the pass, which is only available to foreigners on a temporary visitor visa and Japanese nationals who have been out of the country for at least 10 years. The pass allows unlimited rail travel on a certain number of days to certain regions or the entire country. I picked up a Nagano/Niigata pass for 18,000 yen ($165) because we wanted a family trip to Niigata, and the Shinkansen alone was over 20,000 yen. This pass allowed for five days of travel, so I had three more days after this overnight trip, but more on that in a future post.

Niigata was the largest city in Japan that I had yet to visit, though I had been to nearby towns for skiing and hot springs many years back. For me, the attraction here was Denka Big Swan Stadium, home of Niigata Albirex of the J. League. The stadium was built for the 2001 World Cup and is clearly visible from the right side of the Shinkansen as you enter the city (above). Albirex enjoyed some of the highest attendances in the league while they were in the top division, including an astonishing 40,114 average in 2005. Attendance dropped continuously since then, with just over 22,000 making it out to a game in 2014. When the team was relegated for the 2018 campaign, it became that much easier of a ticket.

The stadium is located south of the city, and is about a 30-minute walk from the central station, but it is more advisable to take the shuttle bus for 500 yen round-trip. You are dropped off across the street, and can walk through an underpass (above) to get to the venue.

The ticket booth is located in the large plaza that is highlighted by the welcoming orange arch. I picked up a general admission seat in the second level for 2,600 yen, though I could have saved 500 yen if I had purchased in advance.

The stadium took the Big Swan nickname in 2007, so dubbed because its roof resembles the wings of a swan, and swans inhabit a nearby lake. Denka is a chemicals concern that purchased the naming rights in 2013.

To enter the stadium, go up a large staircase and past banners of current players.

As my seat was on the second level, I had to walk up another staircase to get to that concourse.

There I found an excellent concession stand with a good selection of food and drinks. Niigata is famous for Japanese sake, and this was available for a bargain price of 410 yen. Takoyaki (breaded octopus fried in a ball shape) are only 350 yen.

Niigata is also the birthplace of national snack Kaki no Tane (known as Kaki P when peanuts are included). At the stadium, you can pick up a large Albirex-branded pack of Kachi no Tane with peanuts for 100 yen. That's less than a dollar. Note that Kachi means Win and this is a pun on the original name of the snack.

Next door to the stadium (through the underpass) is Hard Off Eco Stadium Niigata, which is a large ballpark that is still waiting for an NPB team, though it has hosted an all-star game in the past. Hard Off is a second-hand store selling musical equipment and games, and once again proves that Japan needs a national advisor on avoiding funny English product names. This is one stadium that I want to get to, but there was no game here on the weekend. I don't know if I will ever be back.

Inside, I took a seat near facing the top of the box on the east side of the stadium. This is a huge venue and with attendance at about half of capacity, there is no problem finding a seat with space, as long as you are not with the supporters at either end. Like many facilities in Japan, this is multi-purpose with a track around the pitch, so there are no seats right next to the action.

Both teams wore orange, which led to a confusing situation at the far end, where the left section of home supporters wore orange and were separated by the visiting supporters wearing orange by an open block of orange seats.

The roof is the most interesting aspect of the stadium, and it allows for some cool shots of the sun poking through the hotels facing the west side.

Even with the sun out of view, the open roof allows for more colourful shots of the sky.

Overall, this was one of my favourite experiences in Japanese soccer. The wide-open spaces and excellent food items combined with fairly easy access and the scenic surroundings make this a stadium worth visiting for those in the country.

The Game

Omiya was near the top of the table, while Niigata were down in 12th, reasonably safe from relegation. The players appeared from the tunnel and lined up, with Niigata wearing orange, while Omiya Ardija were forced into their road whites. Before kickoff, there was a tribute to Thalles, who had played the 2018 season here and was killed in a motorcycle crash two weeks prior in Brazil. The moment of silence was actually respected, unlike in North America where it seems there is always at least one idiot who has to yell something.

The game itself was typical of soccer at this level: lots of possession given up cheaply, few sustained attacks, and sudden goals. Omiya's Robin Simovic opened the scoring with a sublime header in the 17th minute, but Niigata got that back with a less impressive header from Leonardo in the 32nd. Leonardo is one of six Brazilians on the squad.

As we approached the hour mark, Albirex's Francis, another Brazilian, was sprung with a perfectly timed pass that I thought was offside at first glance. But the flag stayed down and Francis broke in alone on the keeper, chipping the ball over him for the lead. I checked the highlights and the call was correct, and that goal turned out to be the winner as Niigata prevailed 2-1.


This was my 13th J. League venue. I'd love to get to more of them, but with games mostly once a week, extended road trips are difficult.



Monday, June 24, 2019

Lancaster Barnstormers 3 at Long Island Ducks 4 (Atlantic League) - June 22, 2019

Having seen a game every minor league ballpark, I am branching out into other leagues to see new venues. There are three primary types of baseball below the minors: independent, college, and collegiate wood bat. Of these, independent ball is the most similar to the minors, with full seasons that start in April and run through September, and ballparks that usually meet AA standards at a minimum. There are five true leagues operating in various locations around the country, and several smaller circuits that play within a limited geographical footprint or have a travelling team. Extended roadtrips are not something I am willing to invest in for this level of ball, at least right now, but I do look for games when possible. Both the Atlantic League (2) and Can-Am League (3) have teams in the Greater NYC area; I visited the Atlantic League's Somerset Patriots last season during the playoffs and enjoyed the experience quite a bit. The visitors that night were the Long Island Ducks, the other local team in the league. The Ducks play out of Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. With several other attractions in the area, the family spent a weekend touring and I added the 300th unique ballpark to my tally.

Bethpage Ballpark is located just north of Heckscher State Parkway, and is next to two hotels. As parking is free, there is no need to stay at either of these, though it is quite convenient if you do. There is nothing else within walking distance however, with a shopping mall a mile away. The closest train station is Central Islip, which is about 2 miles north.

Out front, you will see sun-beaten photos of the team's four championships, the most recent coming in 2013.

Tickets start at $13, which gets you a seat down the lines. Better seats are only a buck or two more. They draw very well here, with attendance for this game announced at 6,527, more than the 6,002 capacity, so if you want a good seat, pay for it at the box office.

Inside, I found the ballpark to be quite similar to AA ballparks built at the turn of the century (this one first saw action in 2000). There is a large open concourse above the seating bowl, behind which you will find concessions. Prices here are not cheap, rivalling major league fare in other cities. Montauk draft, which is highly recommended, was $9, more than I pay at my local bar.

Kelly green seats are in every section, with suites on a second floor above the concourse, while a walkway separates the two levels of box seats.

Our seats were just in front of the kids' zone down the right field line. It was quite loud and busy, and the sun was shining into our faces, so we moved over to left field and spread out at a picnic table.

Below is the view from the picnic area as the sun was setting.

The scoreboard is above left field and features a linescore beneath a basic video board.

Overall, Bethpage Ballpark is a simple venue that might escape the attention of most baseball fans in NYC. It is not easily accessible, with weekend traffic from the city averaging about 30 MPH along the Grand Central Parkway or Long Island Expressway. If you can tolerate that, it is worth a visit to see the Quackers.

The Game 

Several big names were in both lineups, with former Jay Ezequiel Carrera leading off for Long Island, while Michael Martinez (leaving first below), the last out of the 2016 World Series, suited up for Lancaster.

The Barnstormers scored a pair in the first and added another in the second off Ducks starter Jake Fisher, but the Ducks quickly got those back with two in the second and another in the third on a Hector Sanchez double. Carrera then gave them the lead with an RBI single in the fourth, chasing Kelvin Vazquez. After that, there were only zeroes on the scoreboard as Fisher settled down and the Barnstormer bullpen kept the Ducks off the pond. Josh Lueke, who played a couple of seasons with the Yakult Swallows, struck out the side in the 9th for the save as the Ducks won 4-3.


The league is being by MLB used as a testbed for new rules that should speed up the game, although I did not notice a particularly fast pace, with the PPM coming in at 1.55.

On the Sunday, we drove back into the city, stopping at the Cradle of Aviation near Nassau Coliseum, and the Nassau County Museum of Art. Both places are highly recommended: the first for its detailed history of aviation, with particular emphasis on Long Island's place therein; the second for its expansive lawn that was empty except for us and gave the little one plenty of room to roam around. Long Island is a great place to tour, if only the traffic getting out there wasn't so painful.

Next Up 

Off to Japan where I hope to see a few games, including a half-price beer night at Jingu Stadium, home of those Yakult Swallows. I won't be posting updates until I am back, but follow along on Twitter to see what I am up to.



Monday, June 17, 2019

State College Spikes 6 at Auburn Doubledays 5 (susp. 2, New York-Penn League) - June 16, 2019

When the Toronto Raptors defeated Milwaukee to advance to the NBA Finals, I thought about trying to get tickets to one of the games in Toronto. When the schedule was released, Game 7 on Sunday night was the only one I could attend. Tickets were released in phases on the first day of sale, with different presale codes being emailed to season ticket holders or newsletter subscribers for each phase. Some fans were selling these codes, which by no means guaranteed a ticket, for ridiculous amounts of money (I saw one guy asking for $300!), but one kind soul actually posted his code on Twitter. Armed with that code, I constantly refreshed Ticketmaster for about 30 minutes, and amazingly, my persistence was rewarded with a pair in the standing room area at the top of the seating bowl for the totally unreasonable price of $900 CAD each. To compare, I saw all 3 games of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver for $50 each, and paid $150 for standing room for Miami's title game in 2012 (to be fair, it was only Game 5).

I realized that Game 7 was unlikely, and with no other games in Toronto that day, I did not make any travel arrangements. When the Raptors went up 3-1, it looked like I had nothing to worry about. Three days later, the Warriors Game 5 win forced me to consider flights. With options limited on Monday morning, I found a mileage flight returning from Buffalo that would get me to work on time and decided to book that. I did not book anything else, thinking that the Raptors had a good chance to close out the series back in Oakland, which they did (I'm still in shock quite frankly). So I had a decision to make: let the mileage flight go, or find something else to do in the area. Flights to Buffalo had become prohibitively expensive at the last minute, but a bit of poking around revealed that flights to Rochester were actually quite cheap. Imagine that.

Looking at sports in that area, the Rochester Red Wings were home at 1:05, but the earliest available flight would arrive at 2:30, well after first pitch. Fortunately, the nearby Auburn Doubledays would have their home opener at 4:00 and as I hadn't been to Falcon Park since 2004,1 decided that was reason enough to go. Before committing, I checked the weather forecast, and it looked reasonable for Sunday, so I booked the outbound ticket, rental car, and hotel.

Rochester's game on Saturday night was suspended due to rain in the 3rd inning, with the remainder to be played Sunday before the regularly scheduled game, which became 7 innings. That got me thinking that I could make it for the second game and save on a bit of driving, but they moved the start time an hour earlier. I had to hope for a very long first game in order to make the second, but that didn't happen, as the second game was getting underway as my flight arrived at the gate.

I should have checked the weather at this point, but instead rushed to my rental car and headed out to the thruway to make the short drive to Auburn. As I drove, it began to drizzle, though it was still light enough to not be a concern. But as Auburn got closer, the rain got stronger, and I began to worry. As I entered town, I stopped briefly to check the team's social media, and they said that the game would start on time, so I continued to the ballpark. When I arrived, the rain was steady, but there was still a lineup for tickets. I picked up one under cover, and headed inside just as things were getting underway.

I learned from another fan that the surface had been switched to artificial turf for this season. He was most definitely not happy with that change, and watching some of the balls being played in the wet weather, neither were the players. Interestingly, the turf is coloured like it has been mown, as you can see below. Otherwise, the park is typical for this level, with a few rows of box seats below the walkway and several rows of benches above, with GA areas down both lines. There were several food concessions, with one offering a freshly-made grilled cheese sandwich for $2. That turned out to be the highlight of the day.

The first inning took well over 30 minutes, as the State College (St. Louis) starter Nathaniel Heredia could not get settled, balking home a runner from second, giving up a homer to Phil Caulfield (32nd round, 2017), and walking the bases loaded before being mercifully relieved with two out. His replacement, Junior Gonzalez, gave up what should have been an inning-ending ground ball, but the throw to first went astray and all 3 runners scored to make it 5-0 for Auburn (Washington). I couldn't believe they continued to play as the rain was definitely impacting the action. In the top of the second, Auburn committed three consecutive errors, leading to 6 Spikes runs. Then the skies really opened up and the umpires, finally realizing how stupid they were to be playing in this mess (no comment on the stupidity of this writer for traveling to the game), called for the tarp. The linescore at the time: State College: 6-3-1, Auburn 5-2-4. That's 11 runs on 5 hits with 5 errors, all for 8 total outs.

Rather than see if the rain would stop, I made a beeline for my car and began the drive back to Buffalo, about 2 hours away, eventually escaping the weather. Auburn did not escape it though, as the game was suspended, finishing the next day with State College winning 11-9. Gonzalez, who faced just two batters, got the win, while the last 6 innings were scoreless.

In the end, I should have gone to Rochester and caught the last 5 innings of that game, with Rochester walking off after scoring 3 runs in the 7th off Justin Nicolino, the Jays second-round pick back in 2010. Oh well, 20/20 hindsight. I was still in Buffalo by 7:00 and enjoyed a nice dinner at a pizza pub while watching the final holes of the U.S. Open, so it wasn't a completely wasted experience; in fact, quite a memorable day.

Next Up

A quick trip to Long Island this weekend for the Ducks, and then I'm off to Japan again for a couple of weeks next month, during which time I will see at least two games. As always, check back for recaps.



Monday, June 3, 2019

UCSD Tritons 5 vs Catawba Indians 0 (NCAA Baseball, Division II College World Series) - June 2, 2019

When I first planned this weekend trip to Fayetteville for the Woodpeckers, I had hoped to see two of their games, with the second to take place on Sunday afternoon at 2:00. This would give me plenty of time to drive back to Raleigh, where I had an early Monday flight. However, the visiting Winston-Salem Dash, who played a doubleheader at home on Saturday, were unable to make the earlier start time despite being just two hours away and the game was pushed back to 6 p.m. sometime in the past couple of weeks. As an aside, you should always check game times for any upcoming sports trip as the schedule can change, even at the last minute.

Anyway, with Game 2 of the NBA Finals that night, I decided to skip the Woodpeckers and head back to Raleigh in the morning. I just had to find a game that afternoon, and there were several choices. UNC was hosting a College World Series regional but I had already seen a game there, so I looked elsewhere. The Durham Bulls were home at 5, but again, I wanted a new venue and a game that finished before the basketball started. Further research revealed just such an affair: the Division II College World Series, which was taking place at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, just a few miles from my airport hotel. I had never seen a game here, and the 3 p.m. start time for the first game was perfect, allowing me a relaxing morning in Fayetteville, a leisurely drive north, and a free evening so I could watch the Raptors.

Cary has been the home of USA Baseball since 2003 and the complex was opened in 2007. There are three training fields and one stadium diamond, known as Coleman Field after a former town manager.

The complex is located in a residential area and has a large parking lot. One of the schools competing in the early game was Catawba, based in Salisbury, NC, about two hours away, so the lot was much fuller than I expected, but there was still plenty of room.

Walking to the stadium, I was first greeted by a large Welcome sign. Even for smaller events like this, the NCAA really does things up right.

On the ground just inside is a map of the country with the 8 competing schools shown. There seems to be more diversity in regions in Division II than Division I, where teams from the south and west dominate the proceedings in Omaha every year.

Most of the features here are only in place for the tournament, and feature the same 8 schools in different ways, such as the distances pole that shows how far away each school is. Pennants line the walkway above the seating bowl, and many fans set up their own seats along here, or on the berm just below.

The field itself is fairly basic, with no advertising, as is usual in NCAA ballparks. Only the names of the 8 schools appear on the fence. All of the fields maintain MLB standards and have identical dimensions at 330 feet down the line and 400 to center. Capacity is 1,784, though they rarely draw that many from what I could tell.

There is a concession stand with very reasonable prices (hot dogs are $2), and no alcohol of course. Many of the items are made-to-order, such as the grilled steak wrap, which was a bargain at $5.

The section directly behind home plate is the only once with box seats; the rest of the seating area is benches. There is a small roof that shaded the top rows of the middle section as the game got underway, so they were quite full, while the lower rows, still in the sun, were mostly empty. As the game progressed, those rows slowly became shaded and fans moved down inning by inning. I spent the last few innings in the second row and was impressed by the pitching I saw.

There is not much else to talk about here. USA Baseball has games here on occasion and if you are in the Raleigh area, you should check their schedule. Otherwise the D-ll CWS, which has been held here since 2009, is your best opportunity to see a game at Coleman Field.

The Game

Catawba, seeded 3rd, wore white, batted last, and had the support of the crowd, was essentially the home team, making 6th-seeded UC San Diego the visitors. Both starting pitchers had excellent records, with USCD's Preston Mott coming it at 8-1, while Catawba's Bryan Ketchie was 9-1. The first couple of innings saw no hits, but three errors were committed, including a dropped fly ball by Catawba's right fielder Lee Poteat that allowed Ryan McNally all way to third. But UCSD could not get him home, and the defense improved after that, taking us to the 5th scoreless.

That's when the Tritons finally got to Ketchie. With one out, McNally launched one down the left field line that just stayed fair. Chris Schasteen followed with a monster shot that made it 2-0 in a hurry. A single and two doubles ended Ketchie's day, and he was replaced by DJ Laxton, who allowed another run to score on a ground ball that hit second base and bounced into the outfield to give the Tritons the 5-0 lead. That was more than enough for Mott, who threw 6 2/3 innings before giving way to Cameron Leonard, who yielded but a walk in his 2 1/3 frames.

This game was a lot better than I expected with excellent pitching and a good pace of 1.77 PPM, much faster than what I am used to in Division I ball. Taking only 2:31, it was a refreshing change from the slogs I have been seeing in the majors lately. There is no doubt that some of these guys can play in the minors, and a couple of UCSD players were drafted this week.


One of the other entrants was NYIT, coached by former Blue Jay Frank Catalanotto. NYIT was in Division I until 2017, when they dropped down. To qualify for the College World Series in just their second season is quite impressive, though they lost both their games as the eighth seed.

On the way to Montreal last week, I was in the same security line as the Quinnipiac baseball team, who had won their conference tournament and were on their way to Greenville, NC, to participate in the regional hosted by East Carolina. Greenville is just a couple of hours from Fayetteville, and I thought about trying to see them there, but weather played havoc with the schedule and I wasn't able to do it. Quinnipiac stunned ECU in their opener but lost their next two games, including a rematch with the Pirates, who ended up winning the regional despite the early loss.

Catawba lost their next game and UCSD lost their next two, so both were out by Wednesday.

There were 87 Division II ballplayers drafted during the week, including a couple of Triton pitchers.

Next Up 

Nothing planned right now. The Jays are horrible, so I'm thinking of waiting until next year to see them in Detroit, but then again, the Tigers are horrible too. So I'll probably end up going, as Detroit is one of my favourite destinations these days. Until then, the blog will be pretty quiet, but check back for some occasional opinion pieces that will be sure to go viral. Or not.