First of all, I love this site and I read it constantly, but I very rarely comment. On Saturday, my family and I got to go to the Mudcats – Smokies game, so I thought that this could be my chance to contribute something to the common good. Mostly, I feel that I’ve been in the "take a penny" camp too long, so perhaps I can finally leave one, especially since that probably means you are overpaying.
Overall, we had a good time at the game. I love being at a game with my family, and especially seeing how much my twin boys enjoy it. Tennessee has a nice enough stadium, although possibly a bit overpriced for the minor leagues. The seats were great and we got a close-up look at many of the up and comers for the Reds. (They’re my favorite team.)
The beginning of the game was marked by a blast from my past. Since he is probably still smarting from the beating I gave him when we were both fourteen years old, Mudcats Manager David Bell would not meet my eyes. My team beat his Cincinnati Aces team in a tournament game with Gus watching in the stands. I don’t know this for sure, but I can only imagine a lot of crying, and maybe David Bell cried too.
For the part no one here cares about, I was 4 – 5 on the afternoon, and the only thing that kept me from a perfect day at the plate was that same guy now patrolling the coach’s box, who made a tremendous diving play at third to rob me of a sure double. Although the best player on that team by far, I am only assuming that he took years to get over that loss and only now is able to step back onto a field, but I’m glad to see that someone has thrown him a bone and allowed him back into baseball.
Actual game information after the jump.
Only minutes into the game, the Mudcats showed how it is following organizational mantra by allowing a first-inning run. Right away I felt at home from having watched half a season’s worth of this from the big club. If there’s anything that I like filtering down through the minors, it’s that kind of consistency. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
In the top of the third, Henry Rodriguez was hit by pitch. It obviously hurt and it was about the fourth time that Smokies pitcher Trey McNutt (I did not make that up) came quite a bit inside on a lefty. Rodriquez eventually recovered, stayed in the game and then proceeded to steal second and third, only to be left there. Again, the Mudcats seemed to get the memo.
Between innings, with Smokies Manager Brian Harper in the third-base coaching box, David Bell, still not able to make eye contact with me, decided to take out his frustrations on Harper. Bell came out of the dugout and a heated exchange took place between the two managers, having to be broken up by the umpires. The crew then convened and both benches and pitchers were warned. Even though McNutt led off that inning, no further head-hunting ensued. The lingering hurt was evident as Bell still failed to look me in the eyes.
In the fifth, Carolina loaded the bases with one out. If you want to leave the bases loaded on the big club, you have to start teaching it down on the farm. Lesson learned.
However, they the Mudcats threatened to upset the brass when, after loading the bases with no one out in the seventh, they accidentally scored one run. Quickly realizing their error, the Mudcats proceeded to get picked off and then grounded out before any real "damage" could be done. Perhaps none of the scouts noticed this faux pas.
In the final ode to the big club, DoJo was brought in to pitch the eighth and performed his audition for Cordero’s job by promptly allowing a homer to Rebel Ridling (again, not making this up, and, believe it or not, that guy’s walk-up music is a country song.) Start practicing the chant of "Let’s DoJo-proof this one", although I suppose pictures of Karate gyms will have to replace the quaint ones of hot cocoa.
For eyewitness scouting purposes, Jose Castro looked good to me, as did Quentin Berry. Castro had a pair of hits and seemed more than adequate in the field. Berry smoothly covered a lot of ground in center and also had a pair of hits. Grandal had a couple of passed balls and his arm did not look rocket-like, but he did have two singles in the game. James Avery pitched five solid innings before the wheels fell off the wagon in the sixth. As is too often the case with the big boys, the Mudcats managed a paltry 2 runs on 11 hits, while the Smokies pushed across 6 runs utilizing only 7 hits. Leaving small villages on the base paths seems to be a lesson pushed down through the organizational ranks.
Also, I waited until the end of the game and Bell still could not manage to look me in the eyes. How that game must still haunt him.