Saturday, August 26, 2017

Lansing Lugnuts 2 at Great Lakes Loons 5 (Midwest League) - August 24, 2017

After leaving the Tigers and Yankees basebrawl, Sharpy and I drove through early rush hour traffic north along I-75, heading for Midland, where the Great Lakes Loons play. There is a ton of roadwork taking place this summer, and the drive took a little longer than expected, but we reached the parking lot ($4) at Dow Diamond at 6 pm, one hour before first pitch. My buddy Duncan had driven down from Ottawa to join us for the final weekend and we met up outside the ballpark. While Duncan was waiting, he was handed a couple of extra tickets, and picked up another one for $10.50, so we went straight in. To get to the concourse you have to walk up a flight of stairs, above which is the 2016 Midwest League pennant.

At the top of the stairs is a local hall of fame, which includes some memorabilia. MLB umpire Paul Emmel is from Midland and his uniform was one of the objects on display.

Inside, the concourse is spacious and was enough for the surprisingly large crowd for this Thursday night. Concessions are mostly typical, but there is a good portable stand down the third base line offering wraps for $7. It was $1 night as well, so hot dogs, chips, ice cream sandwiches, and small sodas were a buck each, leading to long lines throughout the game. Sadly, it was not Thirsty Thursday, and beer was the normal price.

The ballpark opened in 2007 to welcome the Loons, who moved from Battle Creek. The naming rights are owned by Dow, who is a major employer in the area, and the stadium name is a pun on the Dow logo, which is a red diamond. The venue is still quite new and has been well maintained in the intervening decade.

As always, I took the lap around. The layout is similar to most parks, with a berm in one corner and a picnic area in another.

The Road to the Show exhibit is out in center field and worth the walk. Each player is listed with his number as an Interstate sign (representing the road), his position, his years with the Loons, and the date of his MLB debut. Kenley Janssen played here as a catcher back in 2007-08.

Turn around to get the full shot of the stadium structure. Note that the sun sets behind the stadium, so all seats are in the shade for night games. Midland is quite far north, so most fans bring sweaters and blankets as it does get chilly in the evening in late August.

Continuing the walk around, you will notice a display along the third base concourse that discusses the history of the team. On this day, it was mostly blocked by a promotional stand, but I did grab a picture of the 2016 championship trophy.

Starting lineups are displayed electronically near the main entrance. The Lugnuts were a good team for most of the season but then Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette were promoted to Dunedin, and the team is in last place in the East in the second half.

Duncan and Sharpy joined me for the now-legendary shadow selfie.

Overall, I really enjoyed Dow Diamond, which is another minor league venue that provides plenty of entertainment for the fans, good food, and affordable tickets. I didn't enjoy the game however.

The Game

Lansing (Toronto) was visiting on this night and sent Mike Ellenbest (24th, 2016) to take on the Loons (Los Angeles), who responded with Melvin Jimenez. After three straight 3-up, 3-down innings, Great Lakes opened the scoring with five singles, a walk, and a double to take a 5-0 lead. Every time a run scored, the fans did the Funky Feather where they pumped both fists into the air while "Sandstorm" by Darude plays. I was wearing my Blue Jays jersey and cheering for Lansing, thus I did not participate in the fun, despite incessant prodding from Duncan. Sharpy was not so dedicated to the cause, gleefully cheering runs by the opposition. Given the Toronto performance on this trip, hard to blame him.

Lansing did get an unearned run back in the 5th, and I finally had a chance to do the Funky Feather, only to earn the derision of the home fans. In the ninth, a couple of singles plated the final Lugnut tally as they lost 5-2. I was so disappointed that I did not bother taking a shot of the final score.


The ZOOperstars were in attendance, including Tim Tebull, who even includes the John 3:16 eye black that Tim Tebow wore. Tebull may have to become a basebull player now that Tebow is in the Mets minor league system.

Dow Diamond was my 750th lifetime venue.



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