Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Beavers @ 51s

I went to a minor-league game last night, the Portland Beavers versus the Las Vegas 51s. Here’s my bulleted list synopsis.

  • The 51s play at Cashman Field, a 9300-seat park built in 1983. It’s located in North Las Vegas, just a few minutes north of downtown.
  • I thought the park was way north, so I ended up getting there way too early, and was probably the first person there.
  • It’s a nice little park, very well-kept and modern looking, and resembles a college field in size and general feel.
  • I got my ticket and waited at the gate, as a group of hyperactive t-ball kids quickly drove me insane.
  • The 51s are a Dodgers farm team, the Beavers a Padres team. So wearing a Rockies jersey, and even more, a Torrealba jersey, was a big mistake on my part.
  • Inside the park – there’s no upper deck, other than the radio booths. There’s also no seats other than those on the first and third base line. Past the outfield wall is nothing but desert. There are no bullpens; teams warm up pitchers in a widened area where a warning track would normally be. The whole thing gives an illusion that it’s a very small park, but the field is as big as a regular MLB field.
  • My seat was about four rows up, directly behind the plate. They were $12. Also, they were real seats, and the ushers brought you to your seat.
  • Wandering around, I stopped at this table pimping the new Mike Myers movie, and the woman working there talked to me about the Rockies. It turned out she lived there before, and I should have been able to tell, because she had that leathery tan that made me unable to age her at 20 or 40.
  • The gift store was decent, although they had a lot of Dodgers stuff and not enough 51s stuff. I picked up a t-shirt after arguing whether it would be worth it or not to get a windbreaker or warm-up jacket. Also, the store was air conditioned.
  • The heat – it was a high of 108, which is a temp so hot, that even when the wind picks up, it’s more like standing in front of a blowdryer. The seats under the press box had those water-misting coolers set up, but I did not sit under there. After a while, it slowly cooled off, or maybe I just got used to it. It went from unbearable to pretty bad over the course of the evening.
  • There were only a couple of places for food, so I got two hotdogs.
  • The game began, and I realized I did not know or care about either team, which changes things considerably.
  • I was close enough to clearly hear the umpire’s calls, and hear the ball hit the glove on each pitch, which was cool.
  • Kerwin Danley, the umpire we saw get hit in the throat with a pitch in a Rockies-Dodgers game I was at, was first-base umpire, on a rehab assignment.
  • I can’t even remember the play-by-play much, since I didn’t know anyone. There were some spectacular errors – if you popped it back close to the wall, in a place that any MLB player would catch it, you’d most likely drop it for a base hit, because nobody could field well. Both pitchers were also pitching an incredible number of balls, although there was some speed there.
  • One player – Chip Ambres – managed to hit a home run over the left wall in his first two at-bats. Then someone in our section started yelling “COME ON CHIP! LAY A BUNT DOWN! BE A TEAM PLAYER!” What was weird to me is that this wasn’t a giant stadium, and we were like 30 feet from him, so you know he heard everything people were yelling.
  • Our row won tickets to the aforementioned Mike Myers tickets in a random drawing. Actually, the row in front of us won, but nobody was sitting there.
  • The guy sitting next to me was an umpire for high school and junior college baseball. He knew a lot of the other umpires, and it was also interesting to hear his commentary on “that’s a tough one to call” sorts of things.
  • The mascot came out, “Cosmo”, who looked like a large Jar-Jar Binks in a uniform. When he was in our section, he gave me shit about my Rockies shirt.
  • In the 6th inning, a rally started when a pitcher walked something like ten people in a row, and then they started driving in the people on base. That ultimately meant 13 runs in the inning for Las Vegas, which entitled everyone to a free shrimp cocktail at some shithole casino downtown.
  • The game went downhill from there. Things started so slow, and then got fast at the end. The big thing in AAA is that teams are so mismatched, and that means uneven games.
  • They put me on the “jumbotron” because of my Rockies shirt. I put that in quotes because you can buy a bigger screen than their scoreboard at your local Best Buy.
  • They sold about 2000 tickets, but I think 2/3 of those people left by the 6th. By the 9th, it was absolutely quiet between pitches. At the end of the game, maybe a couple hundred people remained.
  • Final score: 14-8. Playing time was a bit shy of four hours.

OK, I need to find a swimming pool.