Thursday, April 8, 2010

Marauders First Game Was AWESOME!!


I just returned a bit ago from the inaugural game and the inaugural victory of the Class A (Advanced) Bradenton Marauders, the Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate in the Sunshine State.

The game was fantastic and the final score even more so. When 9 innings had elapsed the scoreboard read Bradenton 18, Fort Myers Miracle 3. It wasn't even close. In fact the game was more like watching batting practice.

The Marauders set some sort of record (it must be) having two 7-run innings. The first 7-run inning was highlighted by Jeremy Ferrell who hit two of the Marauders four home runs including a fourth inning grand slam. The ball may still be in the air headed north. Wow. What a hit.

Two other stand out players tonight were 6'7" first baseman Calvin Anderson, and center fielder Starling Marte who went 4 for 4 on the night. Baseball America.com recently listed Marte as one of the top 10 prospects in the Pirates farm team. If his aggressive base running is any indication he may very well make it there some time soon.

Poor, defenseless, Fort Myers didn't have a chance almost from the opening bell. It was one of those nights that you quickly want to forget. I'm sure they will.

The attendance for tonight's inaugural game was 2,396 paid. The total capacity of McKechnie Field is 6,602, thus 37 percent of the seats were filled. It certainly seemed like more.

The outpouring of support for the Marauders was quite apparent. This was especially true when tonight's game was compared to any that the hapless Sarasota Reds played in Ed Smith Stadium last year. The General Manager of the Marauders and his staff have done a fantastic job of promoting and "selling" the team in the local community. That is something the Reds never thought of.

The stadium is also about 88 steps up from Ed Smith. For one thing almost every concession area in McKechnie Field was open for visitors. There was a display by the World of Beers. Several imported beer kiosks were open. And the quality of the food was great. It made Ed Smith Stadium beg out for relevancy.

My seat directly behind home plate provided many opportunities for heckling and I used them as needed. My main focus tonight was the home plate umpire who, as the chant goes, has "a strike zone with the consistency of diarrhea." He really did. It was laughable.

The Marauders next home game is this coming Monday night and I will certainly be there. One home game down and 69 to go this season.

Of course it's wishful thinking but if the Marauders play the rest of the season like they played tonight we have the potential for a league contender. Wouldn't it be sweet to see the damned Tampa Yankees go home defeated this year? The Marauders may just be the team to send them packing.

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