Monday, July 4, 2011

7/4/11 Columbus Clippers 4, Louisville Bats 5

Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, KY
Game 1 of 3

Mesage to Todd: “Put the Ball in Play. Thanks for your help.”

On a lark, we thought we’d redeem some vouchers won in a contest to see the first game of this 3-game series as a family. Not just my wife and I plus the kids, but also my in-laws.

This would have normally been a GREAT idea but there were a few minor issues (no pun intended):
• I thought it would be great to sit in “foul ball alley” in Section 126 (3rd base side). I made this call due to the greater probability of foul balls and also as the sun would be behind us, the sun in front being something that drives my wife and my in-laws crazy. ISSUE: there were NO FOUL BALLS here tonight, and even if there were I couldn’t catch them as I had a sore neck from looking 90 degrees to my right for the entire game, and furthermore, most of the other folks in this section spent most of the game getting up and walking around during innings; further obstructing my view and enjoyment of the game. I will NEVER sit in 126 again.
• Tonight’s promotion was “post-game fireworks”…well, this is the 4th of July and that’s just as good of a time as any for Fireworks…when they do them at LSF, they do a great job. ISSUE: to further add to my frustration from sitting in 126, the fireworks were NOT the LSF fireworks, but the City of Louisville fireworks downtown, directly behind us, which not only meant we had to turn all the way around to see them, but also that they had a “set in stone” start time of 10:15pm, which happened to be DURING THE GAME, with only a 3 minute delay…therefore, after the delay, play continued with the fireworks continuing, which means instead of people in our section getting up and walking around, they were getting up and standing up DURING THE GAME, again completely obstructing my view and enjoyment of the game. I had to track pitch-by-pitch on my Android Phone. The worst part came when David Johnson faced Clippers DH Tim Fedroff with the count full, right smack in the middle of the infamous 4th of July Fireworks “Finale,” with several players, Johnson, Fedroff, and HP Umpire Gerard Ascani utilizing several ‘time outs’ to hold off the 3-2 pitch for as long as they technically could whilst the sky erupted. But why, do you ask, did the fireworks occur during the game…?
• I love extra innings. Bonus baseball, you pay for 9 innings and are pretty much guaranteed that…extras are just that, extras. There were spots of scoring early, but the game was tied at 4-4 with no scoring at all since the top of the 5th. With both teams literally handcuffed by their respective bullpens, I was more than ready to watch the pressure build. ISSUE: nobody else in my family enjoys extra innings the way I do, especially my wife and my in-laws, so this was kind of comfortable. As a result of the extended play, yes…there was a conflict with the scheduled 4th of July fireworks (see previous issue).

I would have taken pictures, but half of the population of Southwestern Jefferson County was getting up and walking around most of the time, so…what’s the point?

As for the game, Bats LHP Tom Cochran and Clippers LHP David Huff were pretty much evenly matched. It was great to see Joe Martinez back in action for the Clippers; I remember him getting plunked brutally by a Mike Cameron line drive a few years ago when he was a starter for the San Francisco Giants. First big surprise of the night was Bats RHP David Johnson, who pitched 3 perfect innings (and was thankfully unfazed by the fireworks show) to prevent an early and more tragic end of the evening for the Bats.

The second big surprise of the night: Todd Frazier, who’s line until the 10th was less than particularly chump-worthy with 3Ks and a flyout to CF. In the 10th he grounded into DP to end one of those ‘so-tight-you-can-make-diamonds’ mini-rallies in the 11th with 1 on and 1 out. In the bottom of the 13th, Martinez was hanging onto it for the Clippers; Yonder Alonso strikes out, Devin Mesoraco nails a scorching 3B to RF, and Jeremy Hermida is intentionally walked for the 0-for-5 DH Todd Frazier. Matt Andrews, calling the game on 680 WKRD, spoke the (for me) immortal words “Todd needs to put the ball into play” and I prepared to tab the results of this inning and move on to the 14th.

I’ll be darned…Todd puts the ball into play after all! A seeing-eye 4-2 Fielder’s Choice grounder allows Mesoraco (with some serious wheels, mind you) to score and end the game. On a walk-off Fielder’s Choice. Outstanding, Todd!

SCOREKEEPER’S NOTE: Jared Head’s PIDP in the 10th inning was the second of such in 3 weeks of my baseball activity, after never having seen one until 3 weeks ago. How bizarre is that?

UPDATE: See this post for the story of how I got this scoresheet signed by David Johnson. Still waiting for Todd Frazier to sign this one.

UPDATE #2 (1/30/12) Kei, Chihiro and I braved the peculiar throes of Reds fans at the Reds Caravan yesterday morning; we stood in line for nearly 40 minutes for a meet and greet at Louisville Slugger Field with Jim Kelch, Jeff Brantley, Billy Hamilton, Nick Masset...and none other than Todd Frazier. Todd signed baseballs for both of the girls (and me as well) and he signed this scoresheet. I asked "Todd, do you remember this one?" He reviewed it for a moment, mumbling the events of play to himself, and when he got to his game-winning plate appearance, nodded his head and said "Oh yeah, I remember this one now..."

And YES, I shook hands with Billy Hamilton, the Fastest Man Alive.

Todd signed the baseball I had intended to mail to Dirk Hayhurst:

Official Scorecard and Bat Chat:

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