Wow! What a night at the ballpark! I don’t know where to begin… So I’ll start from the beginning of my night out there. As I walked up to the K zone tonight, where I was mostly hanging out, I saw a familiar face of my friend and Greensborosports.com radio host, Andy Durham. Andy wanted to take some time and interview Don Moore and myself. Don about the Hoppers and the Papa John’s K Zone and myself about the blog. So if you caught any of the pregame on the radio, you heard yours truly! That was a great start to the night to say the least. I love going out to the ballpark and seeing friends, and now, i guess family. After three years at the ballpark, I call it my second home. Which would make all of you, the fans, family.
As I was sitting up at the K Zone I witnessed only my second ever GRAND SLAM out of the park. Too bad it was for the opposing team. I decided then, it was a good time to move to the brighter pastures. So to speak. I’m rather superstitious about that. Thats why it doesn’t matter what my seat is, I generally am not going to sit in it. I walk around and mingle with people, talk to fans, players, coaches, families, friends, and most importantly, the vendors. And I love the Dog Pound this year at the park! If you haven’t had a Chicago Dog or a Milwaukee Brat you are missing out! Tonights special dog was the grasshopper dog. It consisted of a hot dog, slaw, baked beans, stadium sauce, and spicy mustard. I definitely miss Pat with the Taylor Made Kettle Corn. With offerings like the steak and Cheese from Pita Delite and the scrumptious pizza from Hungry Howie’s, I think we will be okay!
Onto the game… Ramon Del Orbe would start the night on the mound for the Hoppers. He pitched 4 innings, allowed 7 hits, and slung 4 strikeouts. Sadly though, one of the 7 hits allowed was the Grand Slam home run. He was quickly replaced by Jheyson Manzueta. He pitched 3 innings, allowed 2 hits, and no strikeouts.
The excitement for this game came in the bottom of the 8th inning. Here’s the scenario, Hoppers down by 1. The score is 5-4 Sand Gnats lead the game. Jesus Solorzano steps up and smashes a solo home run tying the game at 5 apiece. Cody Keefer would then triple on a fly ball to center fielder Brandon Nimmo causing Matt Juengel to score. This would make the Hoppers up by one. And you know the saying, it’s not over till it’s over… well the Hoppers were not ready for it to be over tonight! In the top of the 9th, the Sand Gnats were just like the bugs they are, and just would not go away. They would score 3 more times in the 9th inning. Putting them ahead 8-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. We have called them this several times on this blog, but the HEART ATTACK HOPPERS have struck again. With one out, down by 2, Viosergy Rosa would belt a three run walk off home run to win the game! That made the final score 9-8. HOPPERS WIN! HOPPERS WIN! HOPPERS WIN!
This was definitely an amazing night at the ballpark. Please don’t forget in order to listen by way of radio you must go through our friends at greensborosports.com.
Walk off Home runs, grand slams, hot dogs, and friends… thats what makes tonight… A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
It’s Friday. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are playing a home game against the Hagerstown Suns. There’s fireworks after the game. It’s a good deal all around. The game itself? Not so great. The Hoppers lost, 7-4. Check out the box score and the game recap for the details. The Suns started beating up on the Hoppers pretty early on, starting with back-to-back homers in the 2nd inning, followed by four runs in the 3rd inning. The Hoppers started a bit of a rally in the 9th, but a five-run deficit was simply too much to overcome. For a while, I thought we were going to play dodgeball instead of baseball. Our starting pitcher, Jheyson Manzueta (who is charged with the loss), hit 2 of their batters (Bryce Harper and Jason Martinson). The Suns’ starting pitcher, Taylor Jordan (who gets the win), hit 1 of our batters (Mark Canha). There were four home runs in the game (only one from the Hoppers, hit by Aaron Dudley), but I think the most exciting play of the game goes to Suns’ left fielder, Michael Taylor, who made an amazing catch, stealing at least a double and perhaps a home home run. I think his cleat marks may still be on the left field wall.
I headed out to the ballpark a little early to watch batting practice through the fence. The other guys who are usually there for BP weren’t there today, so I had the sidewalk pretty much to myself most of the time. Every now and then, someone came and stood by the fence for a little bit. A couple of other fans joined and stayed longer. We all got at least one BP Ball. (I got four.) And I had had fun chatting with the folks I met. I gave them cards with the blog address on it, so if any of them are reading this now, “hi!”
Once again, the excitement of the day was Bryce Harper. Since I snagged a few BP balls, I decided that I’d try to get him to autograph one of them before the game. I’m generally only interested in the Hoppers, but I’m starting to expand my knowledge and appreciation of other ball players on other teams. Give me a few years, and I’ll have a much better understanding of the whole league.
After getting into the park and chatting with a few friends, I headed over to the visitors dugout with my baseball and my pen to join the dozen or so other autograph-seeking fans. We ended up waiting about 15 or 20 minutes, but when he made it to the dugout, he was gracious enough to sign autographs for everyone who was there. Here’s the ball I got him to sign:
For the game, instead of sitting in my normal seat, I joined a friend who had seats available next to the visitor’s dugout, on the front row. It’s a great view of the game! I love my third-base side seats, but being right on the field was loads of fun, and gave me a chance to take some good pictures. Sadly, my only camera right now is my cell phone, so the pictures aren’t anywhere near as good as they could be.
Sitting by the visitor’s dugout also afforded me the opportunity to enjoy all the heckling that the Greensboro fans were able to scoop on the Suns, on Harper in particular. A couple of ladies even brought a sign for Harper, inviting him to “kiss this.”
For the most part, the Suns did their best to ignore the heckling. At one point, Harper did respond with a comment. The hecklers got more responses from first baseman Brett Newsome (who reached base only once in his five at-bats), who told them that they “better watch out” and wondered why they “paid money to see this.” By the end of the game, I had a much better understanding of how heckling can be an effective tool for the fans to use to get under the skin of the opposing players. Baseball’s a mental game as much as it is a physical game, and it was clear that the heckling was affecting the Suns’ players. Obviously, it didn’t affect them enough to cause them to lose the game, but I could clearly see the effect it had.
The effect was most notable after Harper’s last at-bat in the ninth, when he returned to the dugout, threw his bat on the ground and let loose a small stream of obscenities. When the Suns took the field in the bottom of the ninth, Harper was replaced by Mills Rogers (who went to left field, with Michael Taylor moving to center). Between being hit by a pitch in his first at bat and all the heckling he endured throughout the game, Harper had a rough night. His only hit of the evening was a double, though, so it wasn’t too bad for him.
And to his credit, Harper hung around the dugout a few minutes after the game and signed a few more autographs before heading to the clubhouse. My friend and I opted to get Michael Taylor’s autograph instead.
Before you think that this Hoppers Fan blog is turning into Harper-watch blog, let me get back to talking about the Hoppers a little. Besides securing a loss, nothing was truly memorable about their game. It was nice to watch Michael Brady close the game with a perfect ninth (a pop-up and two strike-outs).
I thought the view of the downtown buildings from the third base side was nice, but one of the awesome things from sitting on the first base side is the view of the sunset. My cell phone doesn’t come close to doing it justice, but check out this picture of Isaac Galloway swinging at a ball just as the sun goes down.
And a little later, after it got a little darker, James Wooster at bat:
This loss puts the Hoppers by themselves all the way at the bottom of the Northern Division standings, two games out of first. If they want a chance at the second-half playoff spot, it’s never to early to start winning.
Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. Check out the photo album on Facebook for all the pictures. Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what do you think?
After suffering back-to-back losses against the Kannapolis Intimidators, it was nice to come out of this one with a huge 11-5 win. The word of the day was “errors,” as that’s what Kannapolis kept making — by the end of the night, they had 5 errors (we had 0) and as a result, only 6 of our 11 runs were earned.
The day started slow. It was another of the special Season Ticket Holder Saturdays, where we were allowed to come into the park an hour before they opened the gates to the public. We could watch batting practice and get to hear a talk from someone interesting. Last time, it was GM Andy Haines who spoke for a bit, and took some Q&A. This time, it was supposed to be a scout, but there was apparently some mix-up and he wasn’t available. And BP was cancelled because of the rain.
Did I say rain? I mean rain and hail. At one point, and it doesn’t show up great in this picture, the entire outfield was covered in white because of the hail.
So the rain came in shortly after we got in the park. Instead of watching BP, we got to watch the tarp pull. And stand around eating free popcorn and peanuts with water and lemonade to drink. At this point, there were only two season ticket holders who showed up: Don and me. A little latter, Robert showed up. Since the weather and scheduling did so much to dampen the event, we got a bonus of 10 free lottery tickets. It was Las Vegas Night, and the promotion was the first 500 people would get 1 lottery ticket. So, we got 10 times as many. Of my 10, only one was a winner, and it was for $1.
Don and I also got a chance to have a brief chat with Andy Haines during the rain. Don asked why Christian Yelich is seeing so much action in center field instead of left. We’ve been speculating that it’s to teach him to run more — he seems sluggish in left, like maybe he’s not getting a good read on the ball when it’s hit. Andy said it was to get more exposure to different positions and help figure out where a good fit is. It was a fair, but diplomatic, answer.
Once the rain stopped, the field dried out fairly quickly. They have an amazing drainage system under that field.
The game got going sometime between 8:00 and 8:15ish and it moved along at a decent clip. One of the joys I have as a season ticket holder who has a seat next to non-season ticket seats is meeting all sorts of fans who come to the games and get the seats next to mine. For this game, I met a gentleman named Dan who was at the game with his kids. Everyone was having a great time, and Dan and I enjoyed chatting throughout the game. I go to most of the games by myself. Sometimes, I’ll travel throughout the stadium, visiting other regular attenders that I’ve gotten to know at the park. Sometimes, I’ll just enjoy the game from my regular seat and meet new friends. Everybody’s your friend at the ballpark.
As I mentioned earlier, the game was lots of fun — largely due to the significant lead we enjoyed for almost the entire game. Going into the 2nd, I was worried, as we were down 3 runs to 0. I was especially worried since we lost the two previous games and Jheyson Manzueta (who had yet to win a game) was our starting pitcher. But we got good in the 2nd and stayed that way. We ended up batting around, sending 10 batters to the plate, and scoring 5 runs. We scored another 2 in the 3rd, and 4 in the 5th. The Intimidators didn’t score any more until the 7th, and 2 more runs just weren’t enough to come close to our 11 run total. Manzueta got credited with the win, giving him a 1-5 record and bringing his ERA to 6.75 in 12 game starts, 50.2 innings pitched.
Check out the official box score, which is pretty close to how I had the game scored:
Check out the photo album on Facebook for all the pictures.