Wooden's World of Baseball

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Midsummer Lethargy

There's a thunderstorm outside as I write this, but with a laptop and a wireless network I'm safe. Ordinarily, I'd be anguishing the loss of another P-Nats game, but I'm glad to escape the crowds and traffic that come with the 4th of July and the Fireworks.

A confession: I love fireworks, but I hate crowds. The 9th inning at a Saturday game in Potomac is often a matter of dashing from the stadium to my car to get onto the Prince William County parkway and away from the crowd of 4,000 to 6,000 people. Tonight, had it been sunny, it was probably closer to 7,000 folks, which may have required an 8th-inning exit instead.

I write this after leaving after the 6th inning last night. It was 10:05, or about 2½ hours into the game. The P-Nats were down 8-0 and had amassed all of 1 hit, secured by the 26-year-old DH who I'm starting to think wants a career as a coach and is willing to put up with being a bench player even when he's clearly more talented than the two guys who've been playing his positions (3B and 1B).

The P-Nats rallied but ultimately lost 9-6 and the final time of the game was 3:22. I'm wondering: am I just losing my patience, or my patience with bad baseball? At the time that I left, the two teams had combined for 12 walks and 13 strikeouts. That's why the game was dragging like Cher and Streisand film festival.

Having just finished up a scorebook, I can look back and see that I left about 7 or 8 games early that weren't related to where the game was being played (e.g. Baltimore on a Monday night, Hagerstown on a Sunday night). Not counting the aforementioned crowd escapes, I don't think I left any game early last year and in 2005, it was probably one or two. Some of the early exits, I can attribute to the later start times during the week, but most of them were like last night, which I could have stayed until the end; I didn't have to get up early for work.

What gives? Bad baseball.

Maybe I've been spoiled by having had the pleasure of watching one of the best independent baseball teams from 2003 to 2005, but I don't think it's that simple. Last year the P-Nats were a sub-.500 team that flirted with contention on occasion, and delivered a handful of walkoff wins. This year, the closest I've seen is a 9th inning rally to force it in to extra innings (which they naturally went on to lose). This, kids, is in 31 games. I couldn't even find a win in the 8th inning, and if you do the math it looks like I'm averaging an early exit every 4th to 5th game.

Folks who know a lot more about affiliated ball than I do are expressing optimism for the 2007 Washington Nationals draft. In the meantime, it looks like I'm going to have to suffer through the last batch of signed-on-the-cheap players and focus on the players that appear to be rising stars.

But it ain't easy...