Best of the Northwest League (Part 1)
PRE-GAME MEAL: The pregame meal is one of the more important things for a broadcaster – since we have to eat earlier than most folks in the press box (especially me, since we have a one hour pregame show). Food around the league is good, but the food at County Stadium in Yakima stands out. Maybe it is the staff at their BBQ pit and the fact that they take chances with me (a 1/4 hot dog with a philly-beef sandwich crammed in it, or a chicken bacon ranch sandwich with a drink mixture of lemonade and root beer). Whatever it is, it definitely is at the top of the bunch. Just behind Yakima is Spokane, who has my healthy kick – the Teriyaki Chicken bowl, although their BBQ chicken sandwich is also very good. I would also have to put the food in Boise in the Top-3 – although after 32 home dates, Pizza and Chicken Wraps do get old.
My Rankings – 1. Yakima (absolutely love the Philly-Beef, the Chicken Strips, the 14-inch hot dogs, and the best fries in the league); 2. Spokane (teriyaki chicken at the ballpark is a must); 3. Boise (upgraded pizza this year is fabulous, cheeseburgers and fries are nice, as are the sno-cones); 4. Eugene (nothing like potato salad, peanuts, and Hometown Heroes…only place we got corn dogs in the booth); 5. Vancouver (chicken strips and fries are good, loved the popcorn in the booth); 6. Everett (although we weren’t there, I like the hot dogs and Tall Tom’s popcorn in the big bowl); 7. Tri-City (they tried to wow me with a pulled pork sandwich, but had trouble with the flat diet coke in the jug); 8. Salem-Keizer (once again, flat soda and either a small hamburger or hot dog – wish they would have had something from their Healthy Hut, which looked goot).
BEST MASCOT: I guess I really liked my time in Yakima – as once again, the No. 1 spot goes to the Bears mascot, Boomer. Maybe it is because Boomer is involved in everything that goes on at the park…greeting fans coming in, involved in all promotions, involved in all of their marketing, or just the fact that my son connected so well with “Boo-Boo” that Boomer had to at the top. The silver medal goes to the tandem of Dusty the Dust Devil and Erik the Peanut Guy in Tri-City – especially after the club got a new Dusty outfit which looks good. Erik steals the show, handling all of the on-field promotions while handling his peanut duties. Humphrey has to be in the Top-3 as well – with Rex on the field doing a great job this year. Humphrey loses points, however, for walking in front of the radio booths on numerous occasions, making it tough for me to call play-by-play (luckily, I have the Fiberpipe stream, which the visitor booth doesn’t have).
My Rankings – 1. Yakima (Boomer is phenomenal and is the face of the franchise); 2. Tri-City (Dusty is easy to spot anywhere at the stadium, with Erik doing the promotions from the stands); 3. Boise (Humphrey is the best-looking mascot, with special points for the Great Potato Race); 4. Spokane (Otto the Spokaneasaurus looks good, but didn’t do much during the game – Jamie the On Field MC is one of the best around); 5. Vancouver (Bob Brown Bear didn’t do much, but the C’s get kudos for the Great Sushi Race); 6. Everett (tandem of Webbly the Frog and Frank the Hot Dog – again, have never really connected with them); 7. Salem-Keizer (Crater is just scary to me – also didn’t really seem to do much around the stadium); 8. Eugene (No mascot and not many on-field promotions)
STREAKS CONTINUE: Tonight was a tough game for the Hawks, managing just four hits in a 7-1 loss to Spokane. However, the four players with the longest hitting streaks on the team each recorded one hit – with Logan Watkins’ eighth inning single extending his streak to 17. Bobby Wagner pushed his hit streak to 12 with a double and scored Boise’s lone run, Hak-Ju Lee slapped a single to extend his streak to a season-high nine games, with Greg Rohan’s single in the second pushing his streak to eight games.
POSSIBLE BULLPEN TROUBLE LOOMING: With only 13 active pitchers on the roster (since two pitchers have left during the trip), David Rosario will be hoping for quick innings the next couple nights. Jon Nagel is able to only throw three innings tomorrow, with the Hawks needing Yohan Gonzalez to toss three innings of relief – if it doesn’t happen, trouble could loom ahead, as Andres Quezada, Danny Keefe, and Trey McNutt unavailable, with Corey Martin and Josh Lansford most likely not slated to pitch until Friday at the earliest (due to work earlier in the series). That would leave Ryan Sontag and Dionis Nunez to finish things up – with Friday still seeing Quezada, Keefe, and McNutt not available, leaving Martin and Lansford to try and finish Chris Rusin’s start.
ANOTHER SLUMP BUSTER?: We tried everything tonight to break the slump – I shaved my head and my goatee, leaving only a mustache (which Jon Nagel was envious of), with Gary Van Tol hitting infield/outfield prior to the game. We need some ideas for breaking the slump, with Tri-City’s magic number just 2 to eliminate the Hawks (I though having pitchers take BP)?