From a baseball nerd perspective, it was welcome news to me when I heard the Cincinnati Reds were swapping their advanced A-ball affiliate from the California League to the Florida State League. Bakersfield, as you’ll remember, housed the Blaze in Sam Lynn Ballpark, which featured an outfield fence so close to home plate that pop-ups would fly out as homers.
Jesse Winker clubbed 13 homers in just 63 Cal League games. Jeff Gelalich, who’s hit just 18 homers in his entire MiLB career, swatted 9 in just 61 career Cal League games - with the majority of those dingers coming in home games. In other words, breaking down numbers from their games made it increasingly difficult to judge exactly how players were really playing, and made pitching stats look as comical as physically possible.
So, when the Daytona opening became a viable option after the Chicago Cubs left town, getting out of the Cal League altogether looked appealing. Then they went and named themselves the Tortugas (awesome) with some of the coolest damn logo designs across any league. And while it’s almost the reverse in terms of how pitcher-friendly the league is compared to the Cal League, the Florida State League at least features much more normal playing environments - assuming they don’t get rained out. Add-in that their games don’t last until 1 AM ET, and it’s been quite the welcome relocation.
Daytona, however, might well have found their calling on a promotional level, something minor league franchises have made themselves famous for perfecting. And on this upcoming Saturday night - July 15th - the Tortugas will rightfully have the eyes of the MiLB world on them for “Bob Ross Night,” a celebration of the Daytona Beach native famous for The Joy of Painting, the coolest damn afro ever, and for giving us endless ways to nickname Mitch Trees every morning in the latest edition of our Farmers Only.
I don’t even collect bobbleheads, but that one looks amazing. The morning prior to the game will feature the Bob Ross Happy Little Fun Run, because of course it will. And if that wasn’t good enough, the official rundown of events from milb.com features this incredible nugget:
The celebration continues with a pregame painting class, conducted by seven Bob Ross certified painters in Bob Ross themed-wigs at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in the early afternoon.
(/immediately checks flights to Daytona)
Aside from being the site where Gavin LaValley and Aristides Aquino found their power strokes and where Nick Senzel carved up pitchers for the first half of 2017, Daytona has proved to be quite the perfect partner for the Cincinnati Reds. Well played, Tortugas. Well frickin’ played.