Saturday, May 26, 2007

Baseball in Connecticut

Trenton Thunder 1, Connecticut Defenders 0 (11 innings)

First of all, what moron thought Connecticut Defenders would be a better name than Norwich Navigators, which is what the franchise used to be called? I suppose it could be worse, that they could've called them the Foxwoods Firebirds or Mohegan Lasts or something. Their logo is a frelling submarine. I was very much surprised that they sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" instead of "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch.

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I've been meaning to take in a game at Dodd Stadium for years, going back to the days when the Navigators were a Yankees farm club. God only knows how the current club wound up in the Giants system. Anyway, I finally remembered this notion whist at work yesterday, so I went up on their website to see about buying a ticket. They have a very good system, one I like better than either the PawSox or the Mets. It not only lets you select a general location in the ballpark, but also shows you all the available seats at that price level, so you can decide between being in the fifth row of Section 3 versus the first row of Section 2. Much better than letting some machine decide what it thinks is the "best available seat." Anyway, I took an aisle seat, second row, section 2, just behind first base. Good seats, eh buddy?

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Theoretically, Dodd is a little under an hour's drive from my house, so when I left my house at 5:40, I figured I'd be okay. What I didn't expect was getting stuck in a traffic backup at the park that compared favorably with a Shea Stadium playoff game. The problem is that Dodd is located in the most remote part of an enormous, wooded industrial park. There's only one way in, a winding single-lane road that effectively dead ends at the stadium, and the traffic just backs up for a couple of miles. There were only a few thousand people there (the box states 4815, but I don't believe that many actually showed), but the way in is just torturous. If I go again, I'm going to go way early.

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The stadium is still fairly new, and is a pleasant place to watch a game. The front row is at ground level, unlike McCoy Stadium, so fans are very close to the action. It's also designed to encourage wandering about the park to view the game from different angles, none of which are far from the action. It really is a nice place to watch a game. The jam made me miss the first inning, so I didn't bother keeping up a score sheet. I grabbed a beer and a couple of hot dogs, and headed for my seat. It was then I discovered the one problem with selecting a seat. No system will take into account who you'll be sitting next to. In my case, I discovered I'd picked a seat smack in the middle of a Pawcatuck Middle Schools' student outing. Oy!

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It turned out to be a pretty boring game. I suppose it was actually a pretty good pitchers duel, although I wonder if the pitchers were that good or the hitters that bad. But I had absolutely no rooting interest, the free scorecard only listed Defenders players, and even then not very accurately, so I had very little information about who was playing, and little investment in the game. CT only pitched relievers, so the "starter" was pulled in the fourth despite the fact that he was throwing a no-hitter at the time. Trenton's starter was almost equally effective, but only went five. I left after seven, mostly because I was worried about the potential traffic jam after the game. The game eventually ended with Trenton winning 1-0 in the eleventh.

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There were a few items of interest. Trenton's CF got picked off at first, resulting in a rhubarb and his ejection. Trenton's second pitcher, Paul Thorp, has the biggest beer belly I've ever seen on a minor leaguer. Connecticut's Justin Hedrick, the eventual losing pitcher, looks scarily like Matthew Fox, even down to the five o'clock shadow. Red Sox legend Bob Stanley is Connecticut's pitching coach. CT's hitting coach is Gary Daveport, who according to the program resides in Nettuno, Italy. Trenton's logo has Marvel's version of the mighty Thor wielding thunderbolts.

1 comment:

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