Yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve made a Hoppers Fan blog update. I apologize. I’ve been to a lot of games. I’ve got a bunch of pictures. I’ve had a lot of fun. I just haven’t had much time for blogging. I’m going to try to fix that starting with tonight’s game and working backwards until I catch back up to where I left off.
Before I can talk about tonight’s game, though, I need to mention yesterday’s games. Yesterday, we played a double-header against the Kannapolis Intimidators. We lost both games, it was pretty sad. As I left the ballpark, I swung by the fan information booth to have a little chat with Lindsay, who was working the booth. It went something like this:
Lindsay: Hi, Greg! Thanks for coming, have a great night.
Hoppers Fan: Thanks, Lindsay. I have a question. Is there where I can register a complaint?
L: [Expression turns concerned and serious] Sure, what’s up?
HF: Well, I came to the ballpark today, and got to see two games. I was really expecting to see the Hoppers win at least one of them, but they didn’t deliver. Can you do something about that for me?
L: [Laughing, relived I was joking about a complaint] No problem. I’ll have a talk with them and see what I can do.
Tonight, the Hoppers won. It was a fun game. As I was leaving, Lindsay was handing out Biscuitville coupons to fans as they left the park. (When the Hoppers win, everyone gets a free drink from Biscuitville. I love it.) Lindsay saw me leaving and came over for a quick chat. She told me that she worked on my complaint from last night and wanted to know if I was happy with the results. Of course I was! We had a great laugh — a great way to cap off a fun night at the ballpark. So, Lindsay, thanks for working on that complaint. And if you can remind the team to win tomorrow’s day game, too, I’d really appreciate it.
Seriously, though, this is part of the reason it’s so much fun to go to Grasshoppers ballgames. I’ve found it really hard to find something serious to complain about. The staff, especially, is top-notch. Everyone that I’ve ever encountered is friendly and helpful. Over the season, I’ve been able to get to know a lot of the people who work at the park, and they always seem happy to help the fans however they can. Everyone at the park works hard to make the whole gameday experience a pleasurable one for the fans.
Today was one of the more fun days at the ballpark. My wife joined me for the game, and about halfway through the game, we were joined by a couple from church. Going to a baseball game is fun. Going to a baseball game with three friends is even more fun!
When we got to the park, my wife and I filled out the entry forms for the Meat of the Order and Home Run Derby contests (we didn’t win). Then we headed over to the first base side to chat with Pat, our favorite vendor at the park, and pick up a bag of his delicious Taylor Made Kettle Corn (far and away the best deal at the ballpark). On our way to our seats, we were stopped by Spaz, the Hoppers’ On-Field Host. Spaz emcees the between-inning contests and works during the innings to keep the crowd energized and cheering for the Hoppers. He who offered to upgrade our seats to the La-Z-Boy best seats in the house, which we were thrilled to accept. These seats are positioned on the concourse directly behind home plate, and are extremely comfortable La-Z-Boy recliners. So instead of heading over to section 104, we settled in on the La-Z-Boys to enjoy the game. The picture on the right is me sitting in the seat from the video promo they ran on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. When our friends from church joined us, they were also thrilled to have the great seats.
The game itself was loads of fun, too. The Hoppers got on the board early when Kyle Jensen hit a 2-run homer as the fourth batter in the first inning, knocking in Jose Duarte. Kannapolis was never able to catch up — they only scored two runs, both in the 8th inning, and the Hoppers already had four runs by that point. The other two Hoppers runs came in the fifth inning, where Jose Duarte and Rand Smith scored. Erick Carrillo pitched seven scoreless innings. Ramon Benjamin took the mound in the eighth, allowed two runs and put baserunners on first and third, before he was replaced by Arquimedes Caminero with two outs in the inning. Caminero went on to retire the next batter and pitch a scoreless ninth inning. Carrillo got the win, taking his record to 6-6, and Caminero picked up his third save.
Sausage Race (between 1st and 2nd): won by Country Sausage
Sumo (middle of 2nd): won by Blue Sumo
I added another autograph to my collection. I noticed who I thought was Edgar Olmos filming the Hoppers’ pitchers. I confirmed with the usher that it was Olmos. During the Benjamin – Caminero pitching change, I asked him for his autograph, which he was happy to give me.
After the game, I went over to the tunnel by the dugout to try and get one of the broken bats, but they all went to kids who were lining the tunnel entrance, too. No real complaint there — the kids looked thrilled to get such a cool souvenir, and that’s the kind of experience that will help turn a kid into a lifelong baseball fan.
I’m back to scoring the games with pencil and paper. I love all the stats I can get from iScore, but it’s a lot easier to see what’s going on when I’m looking at a scorepad instead of looking at the display on my phone. Here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to embiggen):
All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook.
Put another game in the WIN column!
The Hoppers treated everyone to another great evening of baseball, and delivered another win. That keeps them undefeated in the 2nd half of the season, and secures their spot as the only undefeated team in the division right now. Let’s hope they can keep the momentum going. It’s not too early to ask for a sweep of this series against the West Virginia Power, is it? They’ve already secured the series win, and if they can win the next two games, they’ll sweep.
The Hoppers won the game 2-3, but didn’t get their first run until the fourth inning. The Power got on the board in the second, and I was beginning to wonder if I needed to get my rally cap out. I didn’t. Going into the fifth, the score was tied 1-1. The Power scored a run in the top half of the inning. The Hoppers responded by scoring two in the bottom half. The rest of the game was scoreless, but continued to be exciting, with great batting and fielding from both teams. Left-handed pitcher Chad James gets the win, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits with 4 strike-outs. It’s his second win of the year, bringing his record to 2-4. After five innings, James was replaced by Erick Carrillo, who allowed one hit in two innings with no strike-outs. Arquimedes Caminero pitched the seventh and eighth innings, also allowing one hit, but coming through with five strike-outs and getting the save. I love watching Caminero on the mound. As he’s preparing for his pitch and taking the signs from the catcher, he strikes an intimidating figure, stiff and leaning slightly forward. Just before his wind-up, he relaxes and quickly goes through a smooth delivery of the pitch.
In addition to securing the win, Chad James encountered a wardrobe malfunction. At one point (maybe the fourth inning?), his belt apparently failed and he had to get a replacement (click each picture to embiggen):
Sausage Race (between 2nd and 3rd): won by Country Sausage. Sage came out first, but left the field at the visitor’s dugout before even getting to first base.
In addition to entertaining the fans with a great ballgame, the Hoppers brought in Myron Noodleman, the hippest nerd in da’ biz. Myron provided great entertainment between several of the innings. He did some solo dancing. He led the crowd in the chicken dance and the YMCA dance. He did a very clever “dueling signals” dance with Hoppers manager Andy Haines while “Dueling Banjos” played over the PA. My favorite dance was when did a little dance with Hoppers players Terrence Dayleg and Alejanero (A J) Ramos. They started by approaching Myron as though the were going to fight with him, but Myron countered by hypnotizing them and getting them to dance with him. The players looked like they were having a great time with him, and the fans loved it. During the game, Myron wandered throughout the ballpark, signing autographs and posing for pictures with the fans, and just generally being funny. He posed for a picture with me, and while my shirt says that I’m proud to be awesome, I was thrilled to be hanging with Myron. If he’s going to be performing at a ballpark near you, that alone is reason to go to the game. Check out his schedule to find out when you can see him in your town.
I used iScore to score the game. Here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to embiggen):
There are two more games in the series before the Hoppers hit the road again. I’m planning on being at both of them. Tomorrow’s game is an afternoon game and they’re giving away a set of baseball cards to the first 1,500 fans in the gate. I’m definitely planning on getting a set. Monday’s game is a day game. I’ve been putting in overtime at my day job so I’ll be able to take a really long lunch and attend the game. I love day games, ’cause we get to play BINGO. The only downside I see so far about the next two games is that since they’re in the middle of the day instead of the evening, I expect it to be tremendously hot. It’s OK, I’m the Hoppers Fan. I can deal with the heat in order to watch the boys play baseball.
All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook. Most of them are of Myron Noodleman having a blast and entertaining the fans.
Yesterday’s game win
was really enjoyable.
Today’s loss? Not fun.
So, yeah, after yesterday’s win, I was pumped to go to the ballpark today. I was even more pumped when, after the first inning, the Hoppers were ahead 4-1. Curtis Peterson was on the mound, looking good. He ended up pitching 5 innings, allowing 2 runs off 5 hits. Helping the Hoppers was the opposing pitcher, Tony Butler, who allowed 4 runs off 2 hits in 4 innings. All four of those runs were in the first inning, and I was surprised that the Shorebirds let Butler pitch 3 more innings after such a terrible first inning, which included 3 walks.
Peterson was relieved by Ramon Benjamin who was taken out after facing 4 batters. He struck out the first batter, the second got on base with a base hit, and he walked both the 3rd and 4th batters. Benjamin was replaced by Sandy Rosario, who was unable clean up the mess Benjamin left him — all three batters on base when Rosario took the mound ended up scoring. At the end of the sixth, the Hoppers were losing, 5-4.
The seventh was a good inning for the Hoppers, and they pulled ahead 6-5, which they maintained through the eighth.
Then, the ninth inning came. The Shorebirds batted around for eleven batters. Five of those eleven walked. Six of them scored. Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Hoppers went from leading by one to trailing by five. It was embarrassing. Alejanero Ramos’ 27.00 ERA really tells the story of the ninth inning, as he pitched for only 0.2 innings. Arquimedes Caminero relived Ramos and secured the final out after facing 3 batters. When the Hoppers stepped behind the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the first three batters fell quickly by hitting to third base, where Levi Carolus was easily able to throw to first before they could reach the base.
The fans that were left at this point left the ballpark pretty dejected. Check out the box score if you want to see the full details of the sad tale.
All was not sadness at Newbridge Bank Park, though. The highlight of my evening was meeting first baseman Chad Cregar and getting his autograph on my team ball before the game. No one was at the autograph table when I walked up, and Chad was happy to chat with me for a bit. I told him that I thought he had the coolest walk-on music and he chuckled about it.
Cregar’s the eighth autograph on my team ball. Here’s a picture of his signature:
In promotion news: Country Sausage won the Sausage Race between the first and second innings. Red Sumo won the Sumo Match in the middle of the 2nd inning.
I’m going to miss tomorrow’s game, ’cause I’m heading off to Winston-Salem to watch the Dash play their fist game in their new stadium. Maybe the Hoppers will do better without me in the stands.