Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Raley Report

I love having weekdays off. There is no line at the stores, I have a ready-made excuse for avoiding any weekend event I really don't want to go to, and I can enjoy weekday games at Raley Field. Why do I love these games? Because they are in the bright sunshine (as baseball was made to be played) and I can walk up to the ticket window 30 minutes before game time, plop down $17, and get a seat three rows off the field, one section over from the dugout. Try that at Wrigley Field (or Phone Company of the Month Park, or any other major league venue).

There seem to be a few changes around the yard this year, some good, some not so much. There is more food, with some new menu items and additional stands set up around the concourse. This is good. More ballpark food is always good. Arriving just at lunchtime and deciding that it's ok to eat like a pig at the park, I decided on the Dinger Dog. Because any time you can get a half-pound hot dog, you've gotta do it. Especially when it comes with grilled onions and sauerkraut. Mmmm, thems good eats. It's just so darned big though. If Harvey Fierstein went to the ballpark, this is what he'd eat.

There is some new construction going on behind left field, where the Rivercats are apparently adding a small seating section behind the berm. Probably a good idea; I don't think that the left field berm ever got used all that much, quite a contrast from the right field berm which is usually pretty full (there are no bleachers at Raley Field, just grassy berm areas When it almost never rains during the season, sitting on the grass is a nice idea). Otherwise the park looks about the same.

Maybe this is a change, and maybe it was just something that happened this day only, but my scorecard insert listed only the Rivercats roster and not that of their opponent. If that's something new, it's a bad idea. I'd very much like to know which prospect, major league castoff, or AAA-journeyman I'm looking at, thank you very much.

The game was a good one. A kid named Luis Ramirez was called up from A-ball to make the start for the Rivercats, and he was all over the place, especially in the first inning. He wound up walking only one batter, but was often behind in the count. Las Vegas didn't take advantage, leaving two on in the first, the bases loaded in the second, and two on in the fourth.

Joe Mays started for Las Vegas. He wasn't really very impressive (what a surprise) but fooled the Rivercats until the fifth, when the rehabbing Dan Johnson hit one off of the back wall of the bullpen with two on to give the Rivercats a 3-2 lead. After that the game became a parade of relievers, three for the 51's, four for the Rivercats. Las Vegas grabbed the lead back with three in the eighth, but the 51's threw away a double play ball in the bottom of the inning to help Sacramento tie the game, and one batter after that J.J. (he's a) Furmaniak dropped a perfect squeeze bunt to bring home the run that held up as the game winner.

There were a few good prospects in the game, and I don't mean Joe Mays. Andy Laroche didn't play, so I missed the best prospect on either team, but James Loney and Tony Abreu both played. Abreu was very impressive, collecting four hits, but Loney's offensive highlight was being intentionally walked. Last year he homered the time I saw him. The Dodgers...err, I mean the 51's, I'm sure this is completely their decision, had him playing right field, trying to increase the number of spots he can fit into in LA.

Deric Barton is still the best prospect on the Rivercats; he has been moved at least temporarily to third base. He made a couple of routine plays just fine but dropped a foul pop and went 0-4 at the plate. Catcher Kurt Suzuki didn't hit much either, pulling three balls to the left side of the infield. He did draw a walk to start the winning rally, and made a terrific throw to catch a basestealer. Marcus McBeth closed out the win very impressively; for a converted outfielder he's got a very good idea what he's doing out there on the mound.

Great weather, great food, and a great game. And I didn't even get sunburned (this stuff is awesome). Every day should be this good.

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