Friday, July 23, 2010

Northern League Doubleheader - Schaumburg Flyers at Kansas City T-Bones - July 21, 2010

After the Royals-Jays rubber match, we returned to the hotel to find out that the power had gone out yet again. So we immediately headed over the border to Kansas to watch Kansas City's other ball team, the Northern League's T-Bones. The game was scheduled for 7:05 but we arrived two hours early, planning to grab dinner at a nearby restaurant. When we bought our tickets though, the lady said "Enjoy both games". Sure enough, Tuesday's storm caused a rainout here and so we would be treated to two 7-inning games this evening.

CommunityAmerica Ballpark

This ballpark is located in suburban Kansas City, surrounded by a mall and various eateries. It is huge for an independent league park, at least from my experience. This is partially because the stadium is also hosting the Wizards from Major League Soccer while their new stadium is being built. The free parking lot is located off Village West Parkway, you can drive up to the top of the hill to get close to the gates.

The park is typical of minor league stadiums in that it has an open concourse with one level of seating below and suites above. Box seats stretch well down the lines and there are bleachers in left field. Center and right field offer berm seating. Capacity is over 7,500 and attendance averages over 5,000 this year, which is quite impressive considering the Royals are just 30 miles away. Tickets here are not cheap though, with the front two rows going for $16.50. But ushers are not checking tickets, so just get the $6 GA and sit where you want.

The ballpark is not symmetrical with the left field foul pole just 300 feet away, while right field is 328. Left center is 411 and right center is 409, while dead center is 396. There are a lot of fly balls that might be doubles or homers elsewhere that are easily caught here.

Buck O'Neill's name and number 22 are posted on the left field fence, which is higher than the rest of the fencing. Above the bleachers is a cow with a hole for an eye - I guess that hitting a homer through here nets the player some cash, much like Durham's Bull.

Food was typical, but there was one special concession cart serving 1/2lb burgers and Boulevard Beer. This craft brewery's Pale Ale makes a refreshing change from the typical swill that you have to endure at ballparks around the country.

The scoreboard is also pretty typical. A small video board provide highlights above a linescore.

If there is a cookie-cutter version of new minor league parks, this would be the model. That's not to criticize, it's a perfectly fine place to relax and watch the game, but there isn't anything particularly memorable about the place.

The Games

The T-Bones were in first place in the 8-team circuit with a 34-18 record, while Schaumburg was last at 20-33. The biggest name on the rosters was KC's Dewon Brazelton, the 3rd overall pick in 2001, who is now inactive due to a shoulder issue. Most of the players have had some minor league experience, and a few had a cup of coffee in the majors. The T-Bones' program says that the quality of the league is between A and AA, and looking at where most of the players fell out of the system, I would tend to agree.

In the first game, Ray Sadler (above), who had all of 8 AB with the Pirates back in 2005, hit a 3-run triple in the third to stake the home team to a 4-0 lead. Schaumburg halved the deficit in the 4th, but Dwayne White belted a 2-run shot in the 6th to clinch the 6-2 win. White was 3-3 and just a double shy of the cycle, but in a 7-inning game, you are unlikely to get enough plate appearance to achieve the feat.

Richard Mercado singles

The second game was scoreless through four as starters Alain Quijano of the Flyers and Steven Stewart of the T-Bones pitched well. In the 5th, Joey Gomes hit a 2-run homer for Schaumburg to open the scoring but KC tied it up in the bottom half.

The Flyers rallied in the 6th when Ruddy Yan doubled and scored on Brandon Newton's single off reliever Drew Graham. They added another run in the 7th when Josh Burrus singled with the bases loaded. The T-Bones made it exciting, getting men on 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out in their last bat, but Rico Washington struck out and Sadler lined to first to end it. The final was 4-2 as Schaumburg salvaged a split. The game took 2:39 which is rather long for a 7-inning affair, but it was entertaining baseball.

The most annoying aspect of the game was a promotion where one of the batters was dubbed the Burger King K Man. If he struck out, everybody in a selected section would get a Whopper. The PA guy would chant "Whop-per, Whop-per, Whop-per" whenever the K man was at the plate. Near the end of the second game the K man had yet to strike out so they decided that if any batter struck out, the Whopper coupon would be distributed. This meant that whenever a batter got a strike, the Whopper chant would start. Highly bothersome.

The coolest thing here was that the teams changed uniforms between games. In the pictures above, KC is wearing a maroon top, but in the shot below, they have switched to all white. Schaumburg's sandy jersey was replaced by a black one that you can see on the catcher below.



No comments:

Post a Comment