Friday, August 5, 2011

Trip to Beloit Day 2

Day two of the trip to Beloit had an early start to it compared to the day previous as we had another edition of Twins Minor League Weekly scheduled for 9:00am Saturday morning. That was all well and good, but the problem was my charger for my phone was not working and without my phone there would be Twins Minor League Weekly. So there I am going to Wal-Mart at 7:00am on a Saturday morning after a long day Friday. I got into Wal-Mart and found the right charger and went to pay and realized that I had forgotten my wallet back at the hotel. I may have good looks, but the girl at Wal-Mart was not about to give me a free charger so I headed back to the Hotel and grabbed my wallet. I then headed back to Wal-Mart and picked up the charger this time with money. I headed back to the hotel and decided to rest before the show, but about a half an hour before the show I realized I had a problem in that I couldn’t find my phone. I pulled all the blankets off the bed, looked in the trash, looked in Seth’s car and could not find it anywhere. At this point I was kind of freaking out as I paid some money for this phone and the idiot I am I didn’t put insurance on the phone so I would have been out some money. Finally, I went back to the room for one last look around before I head back to Wal-Mart to see if I brought it there. Luckily for me I found the phone underneath the bed so I was ready for the show. We got going on the show and wasn’t more than two minutes later that I realized that there was an echo in each of our phones from being too close together so that would have made a bad show. So I did the honorable thing and stepped outside. The only problem with that is I have left my notes in the room with my room key so I had no stats to talk about on the show. I tried to lightly knock on the door hoping it would get Seth’s attention, but when Seth is in the middle of a show he has a one track mind so there was no getting his attention to let me back in the room. All in all though I felt it was a solid show and a very entertaining morning.

We left the room about 11am because we wanted to get to the park about two in order to do some interviews with players after batting practice. So for lunch we went to my favorite restaurant and really everyone’s and that is Applebee’s. My thing is if you don’t like Applebee’s you’re really not American as it is as American as it gets. Anyway we had a great meal as I had some pasta which was delicious. We met this waiter named Josh who was hilarious who kept coming back to our table several times. One time he asked us if we were scouts and I so wanted to say yes, but my conscious got in the way. He then told us a story about how he and his fiancĂ© went to a Milwaukee Brewer game and how they had the best seats in the upper deck. It was just classic and made our lunch really fun.

We got to the field about 2:00pm and walked around a little bit before we saw Justin who got us an information packet. He gave us that because it was a new opponent in West Michigan after playing South Bend the night before. We went and sat down in another sweltering afternoon and saw Terry Ryan taking notes once again. The Snappers took a good round of BP once again and Lance Ray, Michael Gonzalez, and Jairo Perez just kept hitting shot after shot out of the park. I thought to myself what happens to those balls since this is not a Major League game do they have someone go find the balls or do they let the fans have the balls like they do in the game. After BP we got a chance and spend a few minutes to talk to Ben Tootle and Lance Ray. They were such level headed guys who seemed like they were geniounly happy to talk to us. Tootle talked about his recovery from Arm surgery and Lance Ray talked about what it has been like coming back from struggling in April to being one of the hottest hitters on the team. I will have more from these interviews when I do their player profiles, but just know these guys were great guys and the stereotype of professional athletes being jerks couldn’t be further from the truth with these guys as they are awesome guys.

The most interesting part of the pregame was once the fans were let into the stadium at 6pm how the autograph seekers go right for the locker rooms of the players and camp out there. Especially with Molitor being in attendance they were ready. When the players came out and went for their dugouts they were all over them. The players had a hard time getting to their dugouts, but what impressed me was Reggie Williams who had just arrived from Fort Myers after being sent back down to Beloit was very nice to us and took time to talk to us as he was hitting off the tee in cage. What a geniounly nice guy who had to be so disappointed to be back in Beloit, but you would never know it by talking to him as he was taking it as a challenge to get back to Fort Myers and the opportunity to get more playing time. I don’t know what is going to eventually happen to Reggie Williams, but for the rest of my life Reggie Williams will be an A+ person in my book. The funniest part of the pregame is when West Michigan came out from the lockeroom Tiger prospect Nick Castellanos, who most Tiger fans had come to see, ducked behind another player who was signing autographs and got to the West Michigan dugout. I am not saying he is a bad guy I don’t know the guy, but I found that hilarious how he avoided the throng of autograph seekers.

It was almost game time so we headed out to the picnic shelter in the right field line. I have to give the Snappers credit as that is quite a deal as it is all you can eat or drink for only 22.00 to me that is best deal in sports. Seth and I had a couple brats and a hamburger before we realized that it is really hard to see back there so we headed back to the grandstand and watched the game from there. Don’t get me wrong they are great tickets for big groups or fans that are there to visit or if they have families. However, Seth and I were there to watch the games so it was not a good fit for us so we found a seat back in the grandstand. The funniest part of sitting in the grandstand was about the 7th inning Seth went up to a guy thinking it was AJ Achter the scheduled Sunday afternoon pitcher who was doing a pitch count. He said something like “Hey AJ” and the guy was like “I’m not AJ” and later it turned out that the guy that he had talked to was the West Michigan pitcher for Sunday.

It was game time as Manuel Soliman was on the mound for the Snappers. He went 6 innings and gave up five runs on eight hits although only one of them were earned along with five strikeouts. The four unearned runs really were his undoing though as it was first and second with no one out and he fielded a bunt and threw to third. The only problem with that idea was there was no one covering third base at the time so two runs scored and he had trouble focusing again after that. Sam Spangler then came on and went two perfect innings along with three strikeouts and was very impressive. Michael Tonkin pitched the ninth allowing no runs on a hit along with three strikeouts. Soliman showed that he has a plus fastball in the low 90’s that can touch the mid 90’s with a good slider. The thing that he needs to work on in my opinion is keeping his composure when things are not going well for him other than that I came away very impressed with him.

Offensively for the Snappers it was not a great as they were only able to manage five hits off of West Michigan pitchers. Danny Ortiz led the way by going 2-3 with a double. Lance Ray went 1-3 with a double that was a rope down the right field line. Wang Wei Lin went 1-4 with a double of his own. Danny Santana went 1-3 at the plate while scoring one of the Snappers two runs on the night.

After the game the Snappers put on quite the impressive fireworks display and it puts to shame anything I had seen before in Perham for the 4th of July. It was quite impressive and lasted quite a bit. After talking to Jeff for a few minutes we went back to the Hotel and called it a night as we knew that Sunday was going to be a burner. Overall, it was a very fun day as we got to talk to some players and watched a very competitive baseball game. I will be back tomorrow with part 3 of my weekend in Beloit series.