Wooden's World of Baseball

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Can't Believe I Had To Wait This Long!

Tonight is the opening night for my beloved North Shore Spirit. With more than 20 ticket stubs on my cabinet at work, I can't believe I used to wait this long to go to ballgames. Of course, in those 20-some-odd games, I've had to bring a jacket or wear multiple layers in all but three of them, leading me to wonder if the New England weather had followed me down to Virginia.

But it's not my imagination. Virginia's lone AAA team, the Richmond Braves is drawing less than 4,000 a game despite having the International League's best record. It's been amusing to me to see the Potomac Nationals claiming to have a crowd of 600 on a midweek might, when it's more like 60. We all know that attendance figures, like the listings on h.s. football players, are grossly exaggerated, but why bother mentioning it when there's the chance that someone like me will call them on it?

Back to the Spirit — it's 2-1 in the top of 7th as of this writing. With a AAA pitcher going for Nashua and a 5-year veteran of the Can-Am/Northeast League, this is not a surprise, even if both only went 5 innings. One common denominator for the North Shore Spirit throughout its existence has been the excellence of its pitching, which has consistently been 1st or 2nd every year. (Sadly, team stats are tough to come by online for indy-league teams) and it appears that this year will be no different.

I suspect that if this year is anything like last year, the pipeline from the High-A leagues to the indys will remain open. Can't help but notice that four of the Spirit players currently on the roster spent time in the Carolina League last season, including Brad Rea, who just hit a 2-run single to open up the game to a 5-1 Spirit lead in the top of the 8th. One of my thrills last year was correctly predicting a big game to my seatmates in Woodbridge from a late-season callup Alex Nunez, knowing what he was capable of from his 2005 campaign in Worcester.

Maybe this year, I'll get to see the opposite, as I also suspect (OK, hope) that the Draft next month will bump some of the P-Nats out of affiliated ball. Clint Everts comes to mind, as he's a pitcher that could use that kind of motivation — even if he may see it as worse than a demotion. And Brandon Powell is another, though I sure hope not because he's one of my favorite players for Potomac because most resembles your typical indy player: so-so glove, strong arm, lots of speed, very good power, and strikes out a lot.


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