The Dodgers' high A affiliate Inland Empire 66ers are in Bakersfield for a four game series, and we decided to attend the game last night. In lieu ( it took me six tries to spell that word correctly, which means I tried every combination of e-i-u before I hit the correct one ) of talking about yesterday's horrible Dodger loss, I'll rather tell some bizarre stories of being at a minor league game.
So in the fourth inning Mauro Joe Gomez of the Blaze hit a solo home run to make the score 4-2 in favor of the 66ers. We're sitting on the first base side of the field, between the dugout and the home plate, just four rows from the edge of the field. The only thing separating us from the field is a chain link fence, and the mental line between ballplayer and fan. When Gomez hits his home run there is a great cheer from the crowd, of course. The woman sitting in front of us was no exception to the cheering. She's cheering, "Yay Gomey!" and similar. Okay, this seems pretty standard. Gomez trots around the bases, crosses home plate, then begins to walk back to the dugout. His path takes him right in front of where we are sitting, right past us, and right past the woman in row two who is still cheering for him. "Way to go, Gomey!" Now look, I have no problem with cheering, but still --- he's six feet away, and it's not like she's lost in the crowd, or anything --- it's just her, and us, in a box of about 24 seats. He's right there! And so he turns and looks at her, and how can he not, I guess, since she's pretty well shouting at him from six feet away. Poor Gomey has this expression of embarrassment, awkwardness. He kind of gives her a half smile and a little nod as he walks by, as if to acknowledge, yes, I hear you cheering your head off for me for that ball I just hit over the very short left field fence. How can I not? You're practically right on top of me. After that little nod the woman in front of us stopped cheering.
The Home Run Bucket
After Gomey hit his home run an old woman came around with a grimey blue bucket with a squeeze horn on the side. Home run money, she says. To us. She's asking us. For home run money. Wait, what? They collect money for the player who hit the home run. Oh. What about the pitchers? I don't say this, mind you. I don't say anything, I'm too flabbergasted. Why collect money for the feats of some players but not others? Is there a perfect game bucket? What about the minor league Juan Pierres of the world? Couldn't they use a little extra money too? What if the player was a high draft pick who got a huge signing bonus? Does he really need 50 extra dollars from the fans?
The old woman, who I think of as the team matron, holds out the bucket. It's kind of awkward ( again, Gomey, you keep producing these awkward moments ) and she's pretty insistent, in a matronly way. My wife gives her a dollar. The team matron squeezes the horn. Toot! Money in the bucket! Is it tax deductible? I guess not. The bucket is really grotty. Grody. Probably a clown's fish bucket in a past life. Maybe it was used by team mascot Salty the Sailor back in the early 80's when Bakersfield was a Mariners affiliate. I wouldn't touch that money if I was Gomey. Have it laundered first.
Every time we've gone to a Blaze game recently there's been the same guy selling programs just beyond the entrance. He has a really rumbly, gravelly, froggy voice. It's something else. He's the ambassador to the newt people when he's not selling programs. "Programs! Get your programs here!" He's pretty good, in a theoretical way. It's not like anyone is buying programs, but he does get your attention. I think he'd do well at Dodger Stadium. He's in his 50's, with a pot belly, very tanned, and white sideburns. He's truly a character. He looks like he was probably palling around with Salty the Sailor back in the Mariner days. They probably used that home run bucket as a spittoon.
Around the sixth inning Froggy decides to sit in the third row right in front of us. No more programs to sell, I guess. But wait, he doesn't sit down first. First he comes up behind the woman in row two and puts his fingers behind her sons head. You know, bunny ears. Ha ha. From a 55 year old man with white sideburns. Well, okay, fair enough, I guess. But wait, there's more. The son is sitting right in the woman's lap now. ( He wasn't there during the Gomey incident. ) So Froggy has his fingers almost in the woman's face, only she hasn't realized yet. When she does, awkward moment number three. The first that can't be traced back to Gomey. Why is that man putting his fingers right in my face? I guess he's a regular there, and they kind of know each other. So it's not as awkward as it might have been. But still. So after that, he sits down in row three.
One of the Blaze batters is up, and he takes a pitch. It's a ball. Ball three, actually. And Froggy yells, in his very Froggy voice, "That's okay! Don't worry about it!" What? Don't worry about it? It's a ball. He took a ball. That's a good thing. Are you rooting for the other team? Why would he worry about taking a pitch? Then ball four comes, and Froggy says the same thing. "That's okay! Don't worry about it!" Well, he's not worried about it, he's going to first base with his walk. And the dime drops for Froggy, and he says, "Don't worry about it --- uh, you're on base, you got on base, good job." Maybe Froggy thinks walks aren't for real men. Real men hack, and hack again, as if they have frogs in their throats.
Oh yeah. Why do I keep calling him Froggy? Can I call him that just because of his voice? Well, there is that, but that's not why I'm calling him that. When Froggy sat down, he was drinking some red liquid from a styrofoam cup. Maybe it was Kool-aid, or anti-freeze to keep his voice in fine condition. I don't know. Anyway, written in pen, on the side of cup, was a single word. That word? Froggy.
Unfair Loss Shares ( Dodgers )
Martin -- 1
Billingsley -- 1
Wade -- 1
Unfair Win Shares ( Angels )
Rivera -- 1
Hunter -- 2