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.
Game 3 of the Greensboro Grasshoppers – Lakewood BlueClaws series came Tuesday evening, July 6. The Hoppers fell to the BlueClaws again, on a close 6-7 game. My Rally Cap was out and in force, but must have been just too little, too late. This brings my Rally Cap record to an even 2-2 since I started keeping track. It was an exciting game, though, especially towards the end when the Hoppers were starting to rally.
The Hoppers highlight of the night goes to Chase Austin, who hit two homers. One came in the 3rd inning and the 2nd came in the 9th inning, putting the Hoppers just one run short of tying. Pitching for the Hoopers was Chad James (2.1 innings, 4 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 4 strikeouts), Natividad Dilone (2.2 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 strikeout), and Ramon Benjamin (4 innings, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts). I love watching Benjamin pitch — he’s so efficient.
The highlight of the game for me was off the field, collecting autographs. Before the game started, I was thrilled to find Carlos Paulino (catcher) signing autographs at the table by the playground area. I had a couple of baseballs I’ve been carrying around to get Paulino to sign — the only Hoppers game ball I have is a foul ball Paulino hit that I scrambled to pick up about a month ago when it went into the stands, and the ball I threw when I threw the first pitch last month. Paulino caught my pitch, and I thought it would be cool to have his autograph on the ball I threw. So I took them to the table and he was happy to sign them for me. When I told him where each ball came from, he seemed to get a kick out of it. After getting Carlos’ autograph, I headed over to the Hoppers bullpen area to watch the team warm up in the outfield. There, I got both Michael Pasek (2B) and Erick Carrillo (P) to sign their cards. Later in the game, I spotted Curtis Peterson (P) in the stands and got him to sign his card, too. I’m hoping to get all the cards in the team set autographed before the season’s out.
Sumo (between 2nd and 3rd): won by Red Sumo.
Sausage Race (between 8th and 9th): won by Hot Sausage. Hot entered from center field instead of by the Hoppers dugout with the other two sausages. It was kinda weird.
The “Fry Guy” Strikeout promotion was in full effect today. Here’s Spaz encouraging the third base side to coax BlueClaws batter Buschini into a strike:
Remember earlier when I said I saw Curtis Peterson in the stands? Guess what he was doing. He was filming Ramon Benjamin pitching. I guess they analyze the tapes to see how they can improve.
I used iScore to score the game. Here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to embiggen):
All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook.
It was a hot Sunday afternoon at the ballpark today. I wish I could say that Hoppers fans were rewarded with a win, but alas, we fell 6-5. This is our first loss for the 2nd half of the season, and the Hoppers are still leading the league, once again sharing the top spot with the Lakewood Blueclaws. Even with the loss, it was a great game. I put my rally cap on after two and a half innings, when the Hoppers were down 5-1, but it just wasn’t enough. It was beginning to look hopeful as the Hoppers picked up three runs in the fifth and sixth innings, putting the score 5-4 in favor of the Power going into the ninth. The Power scored another run in the top and when the Hoppers took the field in the bottom, they needed a measly two runs to tie. And it was looking good: the first three batters got on base with walks. When Justin Bass stepped up to the plate, the bases were loaded and there were no outs. Unfortunately, he grounded into a double play. Kyle Skipworth scored and Kyle Jensen made it to third. With two outs and the tying run on third, Chris Wade grounded out and the game was over. It was a tough loss since it got so close at the end, but sometimes even the power of my rally cap (and the two other rally caps I saw in my section) just isn’t enough to pull the team through.
What hurt the Hoppers the most? The grand slam that Rogelios Noris hit in the third. That sucked the wind out of our sails and proved to be a tough psychological break to get past. For the Hoppers, Mat Montgomery gets the loss, pitching seven innings and allowing five of the six runs. Sandy Rosario pitched the final two innings and allowed one run. Highlights of the game included watching Michael Pasek steal a couple of hits from the Power in the seventh inning. The first two batters hit line drives toward the gap between first and second, but Pasek was exactly where he needed to be to snag that ball out of the air. I think he got significant applause and appreciation from the fans after each of those catches.
The promotion for today was a team baseball card set. I’ve been looking forward to this giveaway all season. I love getting baseball cards, and then trying to find all the players to get the cards signed. I got three autographs today: Rand Smith, Chad Cregar, and Ramon Benjamin.
Before the game started, I headed over to the autograph table where Rand Smith was signing autographs. There was no one in line and he seemed happy to sign my card. I told him that I enjoyed watching him play last night (he made a couple of good plays) and he thanked me. After getting his autograph, I headed over to the seats in the end of left field, by the Hoppers bullpen. This is where the players usually warm up before the game. I thought I might be able to get a few more autographs over there, especially since it was so hot that not many other people were over there. For a while, it was just me and a little kid who had a baseball that he was collecting autographs on.
Shortly after I sat down and pulled my notebook out, first baseman Chad Cregar noticed me and came over to say hi. I got his autograph on my card and asked him how his hand was doing (he’s been on the DL since June 11 for “callous on hand”). He said it was fine and that they took him off the DL today. I asked when he thought they’d put him back on the field and he said he was hoping to be playing tomorrow. I told him it would be a hot day for a comeback and we both had a chuckle. (Tomorrow’s game is a day game, and it’s been unseasonably hot in Greensboro for the past week or so.) It’ll be nice to see him back on the field. Once he starts playing again, I wonder what the team will do with Ryan Keedy, who was called down from the Jupiter Hammerheads and has been playing first base while Chad’s been on the DL. After the quick chat, Chad signed the baseball for the kid who was also hanging out by the bullpen and then headed back to the field to play catch. A few minutes later, I got Ramon Benjamin’s autograph as he was reporting to the bullpen.
Another exciting event for me was the snagging of another baseball before the game started. Just prior to the first inning, one of the outfielders was playing catch with one of the bullpen pitchers (I think it was LF Kyle Jensen and P Ramon Benjamin, but I’m not sure) and the outfielder threw a ball just out of reach of the pitcher and it sailed into the section right next to where I was sitting. There was no one else around, so I jumped over to where the ball landed and scooped it up to add to my collection. Snagging that warm-up ball made it worth sitting in the blazing hot sun for the beginning of the game.
Sumo (between 2nd and 3rd): won by Blue Sumo
Sausage Race (between 8th and 9th): won by Country Sausage. Sage was leading until she took a break at third base to get a drink of water. It was a really hot day, I don’t blame her for trying to stay hydrated.
I used iScore to score the game. I missed a pitching change for the Power, and the reasons behind a couple of outs, but here’s how I had it (click each picture of the scoresheet to embiggen):
Tomorrow’s the last home game from this home stand. It’s a day game, which means I’m going to have to work extra in the mornings and evenings this week to make up for the time away from work. It also means it’s going to be incredibly hot at the ballpark tomorrow. I’m guessing it will be a pretty low attendance game, but I’d love to be surprised and find lots of other Hoppers fans in the stands with me.
All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook.
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.