Thursday, September 17, 2009

It Was a Sad Night in Mudville

It was a sad, sad, night in Mudville this evening as not even Mighty Casey could pull off the needed miracle to bring a victory to the noble Port Charlotte Stone Crabs. The final, frustrating, score was Tampa Yankees 5 and the Stone Crabs 2.

The reference to Mudville in the paragraph above was more than metaphorical. As I headed south I could see that the sky was getting increasingly black. I looked at the clouds and saw them moving to the north and in typical male fashion assumed they would keep moving north. These did, but there were others to the south (that I didn't consider) that were also moving north! Arriving at the Charlotte Sports Park we saw even more clouds including a couple that looked like wall clouds, moving in off the ocean and over us.

Unfortunately the clouds decided that once they were over us they would just stay there....and stay there....and stay there! We walked through mud from the parking lot to the stadium. Calling it Mudville tonight was more than appropriate.

The game was scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. which is when we pulled into the parking lot. We were told the game was set back to 7:30 and promptly dashed over to the tiki bar in left-center field where we waited for the storm to pass. Thankfully they had plenty of beer because it was well after 9:00 p.m. when the rain finally let up long enough for the grounds crew to remove the tarps and prepare the field for play.

The first pitch was thrown about 9:45 p.m. and it was a strike against the Yankee lead off batter. If only it had stayed that positive all night.

Despite their best intentions and some damned long fly balls to the outfield that were invariably caught, the Stone Crabs just couldn't get their groove tonight.

The Yankees struck first blood in the fourth inning with a single run followed by 3 more in the 5th inning. The Crabs got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth and scored another run in the 8th but it was just not enough to overcome the Yankees early lead.

The umpiring tonight, just like Monday night, was despicable. Granted these are minor league teams and that means they get minor league umpires. However when a ball crosses the center of the plate at belt level and is called a ball, you know something is really rotten in Denmark and its not the cheese. More than once someone yelled at the umpire and asked how much Steinbrenner was paying him to throw the game. The calls were so egregious I would not be surprised if the umpire was bought off.

The game ended mercifully with the Stone Crabs grounding into a double play. Once it registered the Yankees were all over themselves hopping on backs and grabbing butts and demonstrating other latent homosexual behaviors. They were certainly elated to have won but for the Yankees and any team in their organization it was just a ho-hum - "we bought another trophy" night for them.

This is the end of the 2009 season for the Florida State League. It was a great summer. In all I watched more than 70 baseball games in all 11 stadiums used by the 12 Florida State League teams. I saw some great baseball this summer and also witnessed some potential future major league players. Chris Cates from the Fort Myers Miracle is one such player as are both Greg Sexton and Henry Wrigley from the Stone Crabs. I wish them well and hope that in the 2010 season I see them in a higher league or maybe even in the show.

Good luck to all the Stone Crabs and all the other teams (but the Tampa Yankees) in the Florida State League. You all made me feel like a 17 year old again this year....and thank you for that.

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