I thought I’d take a little random walk through the archives and highlight a few old posts. Not that I’m one for nostalgia, but sometimes it’s fun to remember where you’ve been…
Raley Field opened May 15, 2000, and seats, well, I’m not sure, but there were over 12,000 last night. We sat in the lower deck, off the first-base side, just beneath an overhang and behind the Krispy Kreme donut stand. I took some pictures but unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, I won’t be able to post those till I return home.
The matchup featured an up-and-comer versus a former top prospect trying to make it back to the bigs. The River Cats of Sacramento sent LHP Mario Ramos to the mound; RHP Jason Grilli toed the rubber for Calgary. Ramos, whom I’d seen pitch in college, was in command early and got into a good rhythm, keeping hitters off balance by changing speeds and moving the ball around the plate.
Grilli was less sharp but pitched well, allowing only a monster two-run homer to left by Jason Hart, who later hit another, even more majestic blast to left. The guy has some serious power. Sacramento’s other runs came via a Mark Bellhorn grand slam to right-center. Third baseman Eric Hinske, swindled from the Chicago Cubs, also looked solid at the plate, if a bit rough in the field.
Ramos flirted with a no-hitter. Former Padres right-hander Jon Adkins and current Oakland A’s second baseman Mark Ellis also played in this game.
Lancaster is known as one of the best hitting parks in the Cal League, partly because it is about 2500 feet above sea level and partly because of the winds, especially at night. In the game we were at, the wind swirled and shifted constantly but only gusted once or twice. One local we talked to suggested that the ball carries a lot better at night. (This same person also defended the opposition’s stealing second in the eighth inning of an 8-2 game; it is worth noting that nobody on the JetHawks so much as batted an eye when that happened.)
The game itself wasn’t particularly well played. Arizona prospect Conor Jackson took some nice cuts at the plate. He didn’t have a great line, but he did a nice job going after a couple of good breaking balls. Jackson reminded me a little, physically, of the Angels’ Tim Salmon. Big, strapping kid. Obvious power. A bit raw in left field. Good idea at the plate, probably a shade too good for the league.
This is the game where Wally Backman let loose with F-bombs on Easter Sunday. There were maybe a hundred people at the ballpark, and half of them were kids waiting for the after-game egg hunt. Inappropriate? Yeah. Funny? Yeah. I mean, if you didn’t bring a kid.
Man, I love the minor leagues…