I haven’t been to many games in person this season but I made up for that a bit this past weekend. On Saturday I sat through 18 innings of minor league baseball at the Futures at Fenway games (which were a whole lot of fun even if both home teams lost and one Lowell pitcher got hit in the face with a line drive on the second pitch of the day) and on Sunday I took a trip to Lowell to see the Spinners play the Hudson Valley Renegades.
It’s been so long since I’ve been to a baseball game not being held at Fenway that I actually forget when the last time was that I went anywhere outside of Yawkey Way. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been to LeLacheur Park since at least 2009 and I truly forgot how much I love that park not only to see a ballgame but to get the entire TRUE minor league experience. The park was full of fans, and so many of them children, just ready to have a fun day out. All the things that would most likely annoy me at Fenway Park (including thunder sticks and cowbells) were at hand and I never once felt like grabbing anything away from someone. Including the game at Fenway on Saturday, I sat through two losses for the Spinners (that culminated in a sweep last night) and the fans were just amazing.
There is a criticism from some fans and most media that if fans of the Red Sox aren’t getting mad about the Sox playing poorly it’s a sign that the fans don’t care. Many complain about things like “Sweet Caroline” being played at the park as if the fans don’t have a right to have any fun outside just watching nine innings of baseball being played. There is none of that pretentiousness at a minor league game…certainly not at a Spinners game.
In one afternoon in Lowell I witnessed a Thomas the Tank Engine train giving children rides around the warning track, a frisbee catching dog, a family of alligator mascots, a toothbrush mascot, the chicken dance (complete with rubber chickens being tossed into the stands) the Mystery Machine driving around the warning track with people chucking soft toss balls into the stands, a marriage proposal from the field between innings, and a tribute to a Spinners player who was leaving baseball yesterday to go into active duty with the Army. They also let the kids run the bases after the game and anyone could go into the outfield for a game of catch.
It was a full day that also included a complete game of baseball. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.
I am hard-pressed to think of a situation where I would abandon my team (ARod wearing Red Sox?)…lousy as they are, I’m in until the end. But it’s fun to be able to get away from the stress of what is expected of the Red Sox and just watch players enjoying their time on the field with no worries about the media and the fans waiting to tear them down.
As a giddy aside, when I originally ordered the tickets for the Futures games I don’t think I was aware that Kyle Snyder’s team would be there. So this weekend, along with the fun of the minors, I got to see Kyle in action again twice. It was interesting to watch him as the coach to Hudson Valley youngsters because in my mind when I see him it’s sometimes still 2007, but it was also encouraging. Kyle’s career has most certainly not worked out the way a first-round draft pick would expect his career to go but he seems to have made the best of it. Thirteen years after he was drafted by Kansas City, five years after his stint on a World Championship team and five arm surgeries later Kyle is still in baseball. Pretty damn impressive if you ask me. (And the Renegades are in first place in their division and already selling playoff tickets on their site so Kyle might even be making another trip to the postseason this year.)
Getting to see one of my all-time favorite players and being reminded that baseball is still so much fun was a great way to spend the weekend.