We’re here at the All-Star Break again. The official mid-point of the season. As always, it’s a time to take stock and contemplate the ruin your team has made of the season thus far.
And a ruin it has been for the teams I follow. The Mariners are four games under .500–and the really depressing thing is that’s the best record among my teams. The Mets are eight under and the poor Giants are sitting at twenty-two games below respectability. (At least I’m not a fan of the Phillies: twenty-nine games under .500)
It says something about the quality of play this year that nobody–not even the Phillies–has been eliminated from the playoffs yet. Heck, the Mariners are only four games out of the Wild Card. Of course, so are about six hundred other teams, but we’ll take what cheer we can find.
I watched the Home Run Derby last night, of course. No visible injuries among the youngsters chasing balls in the outfield. No spectacular catches either, but a few good ones. And I saw one lucky young boy overrun a pop-up by about twenty-five feet. (I say “lucky” because he clearly had no idea where it was going to come down. Having it land on his head on national TV would have scarred him for life–probably physically as well as psychologically.)
As for the event itself, all I’m going to say is “Aaron Judge is amazing.” Check out his four longest home runs.
Just before the break, I celebrated my birthday with a trip Sacramento for a minor league game. The Tacoma Rainiers (the Mariners’ AAA team) visiting the Sacramento River Cats (the Giants’ affiliate).
It was hot. And I’m not talking about the game. Games. (I’ll get back to that.) According to my phone, it was 101 at game time.
Fans in the outfield were packed tightly under the trees. Even squeezing shoulder-to-shoulder into the shade was cooler than sitting in the sun.
For those of us with actual seats, let’s just say that dark green plastic above concrete floors raised the temperature to “How did I get into this effin’ frying pan‽” We took an usher’s advice and moved to seats further away from the field, but in the shade.
We got free baseball. No, not extra innings. That ain’t free baseball. Our single game got upgraded to a double-header. Almost. The second game of the season, back in April, was suspended on account of rain and scheduled to be completed on my birthday. Very nice of the teams, we thought.
The game picked up where it left off: bottom of the first, two on, two out. Since Sacramento won, we didn’t get a bottom of the ninth, so we got seven full innings, plus the top of the ninth, plus one batter in the first.
On the other hand, in order to fit in both games and still leave time for post-game fireworks, the game scheduled for that day was shortened to seven innings. That happens in the minors. So the upshot was that we had an extra approximately 2/3 of a game.
Which would have been great, except that the Rainiers played like they thought they were the Mariners. Mind you, they’ve been playing that way all year–they’re currently three games over .500–but since the River Cats have been playing like their own MLB club (33-53 at the beginning of the day), we had hoped for better than we got.
When the most excitement your team generates is Tuffy Gosewisch taking a pitch to the hip, you know it’s not a good day.
Tuffy, by the way, is a catcher. He’s used to getting hit, though it’s usually balls thrown by his own team’s pitchers. It’s a great baseball name, though. Tuffy. Tuuuuffy. Tuuuuuuuuuuuffy. Can’t you just hear forty-thousand fans chanting it?
“Tuf-fy” [clap, clap] “Tuf-fy” [stomp, stomp]
He needs to up his stats if he wants that to happen, though. Right now he’s looking distinctly average-ish, both behind the plate and at it.
But the post-game fireworks show as good. And it was Star Wars Night at the park; I couldn’t resist buying myself a birthday present.
The actual All-Star Game is tonight, followed by two days of no MLB action. If you need a baseball fix, there are low-minors games going on all week, the AAA All-Star Game is Wednesday, and high-minor league games resume Thursday. Plenty to get you through to Friday.