Sitting here in the press box at Coca Cola Field in Buffalo, New York, about to watch the Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby festivities (a few people have mentioned on Twitter that there is apparently some other All-Star Game going on somewhere this week but I am all about the Triple-A event so that’s what you can look forward to reading here over the next few days!)
A little more this week on my history with the Triple-A game itself and my beloved Buffalo in particular, but for now, let’s get to the event at hand.
After nearly two decades of covering minor league All-Star Games and the associated Home Run Derbies, you might think that you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Most of the time, you’d be right (it’s sad that for me the most memorable HRD came in 2005 in Frederick, Md., at the Class A Carolina-California League event when a foul line drive by Miguel Montero nailed me in the right shin … the resulting case of cellulitis almost cost me my leg. But hey, I got the ball.)
But there is a reason that the Buffalo Bisons have been considered among the crème de la crème of Minor League Baseball’s organizations over the years, a reason the club got the 25th annual Triple-A All-Star Game (well, partly because they also hosted the very first one!). Great ownership and management and some creative out-of-the-box thinkers have resulted in an unusual tweak to the proceedings tonight that have me kinda wishing I was just a regular old fan so I could be in the mix for the prizes!
Anyway, one of the highlights of a Home Run Derby tends to be the hordes of kids (and yeah, more than a few “kids at heart”) who stake out territory on the outfield berms to chase down the home run balls.
At Buffalo, however, that territory is taken up by the entrance/exit ramps to I-190 in left field and a parking garage in right field (though there are a few rows of the Bully Hill Vineyards party deck in right field – which is where I’d want to sit if I were just at a Bisons game for fun. Another glass of Love My Goat, please.).
So instead, the Bisons posted a series of “targets” in different locations, attached to the fences towering over left field (ostensibly to keep passing cars from getting hit, but according to Bisons beat writer Mike Harrington, who is the font of all things Buffalo and one of the best in the biz, former Buffalo slugger Jeff Manto used to aim for – and hit – passing cars during BP back in the day), center field awnings and right field locations.
If a contestant – celebrity or Triple-A slugger – hits one of the targets, a seat number will be pulled at random with the holder of that seat winning a prize package from the sponsor.
The prizes range from gift certificates from local and national restaurants or businesses to a two-year lease for a 2012 Lincoln MKZ from local dealership Towne Auto (that can only be won if the target, at the top of the fence in left-center field, is hit in the final round of competition).
Among the six Triple-A sluggers, four – Texas Rangers outfield prospect Joey Butler, Houston Astros veteran DH Mike Hessman (who has 369 career homers), Cleveland Indians former Olympian Matt LaPorta and Buffalo’s own hometown hero, Valentino Pascucci – are right-handed so seem the only candidates to win someone that sweet ride.
(NOTE 7:41 p.m. Butler has just hit a home run over that left field fence that landed just shy of the interstate. And yeah, there are a few fans stationed out there racing for the ball.)
But some of the other more memorable prizes include a suite for the Bisons 25th anniversary celebration game in August; $1,000 cash; a two-night stay with a $250 spa certificate and dinner for two at Western Door Steakhouse courtesy of Home Run Derby sponsor Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel; a $100 grilling basket from Wegman’s (hope my husband is reading this); and a Bully Hill Party Deck event for 25 people (if someone wins that, I can be their new best friend!)
Way overdue, but what better time to relaunch the baseball part of my blog than sitting here, eyes still bleary, first cup of coffee in hand (a second one coming before I even think about reaching for the car keys) before getting in the car and heading eight hours north (okay, northwest if you want to be picky about it) to Buffalo for the 25th annual Triple-A All-Star Game!
One of my favorite events in one of my favorite cities with GORGEOUS weather forecast on tap (remember, please, I’m coming from D.C. where we’ve had triple digits and power outages since I came home from Cary, N.C., almost three weeks ago!).
And armed with a new camera, look for plenty of photo-blogging, Tweeting (@LisaWinston if you are interested), Facebook updates (facebook/LisaWinstonBaseballDigest) etc. Or just stay tuned here. I’ll have internet in the hotel AND the pressbox. Just like a real reporter (j/k).
And yeah, from here on in, I’ll try to make the content ratio 70:20:10 in terms of baseball:pop culture:Dana’s dog Rilo. Okay, maybe 50:40:10. Or something.
Math class is hard said teen Barbie as she pissed away a potential $50,000 payday because she couldn’t do math in her head on live TV in front of millions of people.
In the meantime, my last time in Buffalo? Voici. See if you can identify the only person in this picture from 1997 who is currently playing in the major leagues.
This is my puppy Rilo. He may be the cutest thing in the world.
No, of course there is not, which is why I will wave a fond pageant-queen type of wave farewell to the first day of June by posting this awesome instragram borrowed from none other than my daughter, Dana Wells.
While we were skyping today, her puppela Rilo was pretty much getting into EVERYTHING. And luckily Dana is only in a cute little studio and I think it’s pretty clean so there wasn’t THAT much He could get into.
But this picture of his latest “find” when it comes to a place to chillax, be comfy and look up at his mommy and her camera and say “what? you got a problem with this?” is the best yet.
I present to you Rilo in his mom’s guitar case.
And with that, since Twitter is being a pill and not let me add more people to follow on my NEW AND SHINY account, I will bid you farewell and will dream that I am riding a bike down the beach in North Carolina with both of my fluff-bunnies in the basket of my bicycle.
I just realized that not only have I been remiss in writing and catching everyone up on everything — something I do plan to do very soon … but in doing so, anyone who happens to surf by my page sees a photo/gif (I think that’s the right techie term) of someone pouring sparkles on a very buff butt that is not my butt.
Maybe I need to add something new here … oh, and the reason for that particular “reblog” of the sparkly butt was that it was something deep and complicated reblogged from the awesome Fernando Perez, and at the end of his post he mentions that he had read and loved the great memoir “Candy Girl” by Diablo Cody on my recommendation. And he thought the sparkle-butt would be a good logo for the book. Okay?
So. Things I will be blogging about really soon:
My cool new job
The amazing and inspirational experience of doing the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (as soon as I finish making my Flickr album that I can link)
Dana stuff, of course (new EP coming soon, etc.)
Pictures of my grand-dog Rilo
How amazing it’s been sorting through old family pictures, expanding my family tree and learning about relatives I didn’t know existed.
In the meantime, here is my Poppy’s passport photo from when he came to the United States from Russia:
Can’t wait to get one!
CORGIS WON SQUISHABLES!!! Here is the prototype / mock up.
Shiba Inu owners are crying foul play on facebook. Maybe they should cry into their new CORGI squishable!
My grand-dog. :) I think he’s also part Tibetan Spaniel.
This sleepy pup is my buddy Rilo. The rescue from which I adopted him thinks he is a Corgi-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix. Rilo is whip smart, very obedient, and is as happy playing hours upon hours of fetch as he is lounging around the house. All in all, he got the best of the breeds!
I am “old school” when it comes to certain things. Among those things? Having to read the newspaper — you remember those, right? — every morning with my coffee.
First I skim the sports and national/international news sections (sports: my eyes can’t read the agate as well as they used to so I tend to only stop on really great stories — see link below for one that ran today about newest Washington Wizard Cartier Martin — and save the boxscores for the internet; news: usually really depressing.)
I give a lot more attention to the Metro section — a combination of local news, some depressing, some uplifting, some just darn fascinating (one such story today, not available online, about the long tradition of the Washington, D.C.-area’s African-American “church ladies’” wearing of the wonderful hats on Sundays and especially on Easter — worth signing up for the Washington Post just to read this).
And en route to the back page for the 5-day weather forecast, I always look at the obituaries.
And I often see the face at the top of this entry looking back at me. Stoic, sensitive, ready to do his duty. A duty during which he was gunned down just over 15 years ago.
Brian T. Gibson, a Washington, D.C. police officer, died in the line of duty on Feb. 5, 1997, picked off for no reason while sitting in his police car at a red light.
His family has faithfully placed “In Memoriam” notices throughout the years ever since on special days — the anniversary of his passing, his birthday, special holidays. One ran again today from his sister.
I am no one to them, but I want them to know that as they faithfully remember him by placing these notices, they ARE sharing his loving memory. I remember him — I remember the day he died — and I thank them for continuing to make sure we all remember and respect his memory and thank him for the thankless job he did to try to make the rest of us safe.
Another great read from today was Rick Maese’s story about newest Wizard, Cartier Martin, who joined the team in late March on an elusive 10-day contract, scooped up from his D-League team in Iowa to fill in some empty spots caused by injuries. I won’t tell you how the story ends — you need to read it yourself — but it shines light into the itinerant world of the 10-day contract guys. If you don’t root for Martin, well, you’re just cold.
For realz?????????? And because I am the kind of person who actually CARES about this sort of stuff, I’ll just throw out there that “MINOR LEAGUE GUY” is Eugenio Velez, aka “VC.” Did a feature on him a few years ago. ETA: I am demoting myself from Queen to a Court Jester. I ID’d Geno (since there was no roster) by actually reading the play-by-play from that game. However apparently when the once-fleet Velez made it to third, the Cards inserted mega-prospect Oscar Taveras as a pinch-runner. So “MINOR LEAGUE GUY” is actually Taveras.
via the chinaman