August 2010

Best Press Box in the Northwest League

A survey among the eight broadcasters in the Northwest League has revealed their thoughts on the best Press Boxes in the league.

 


Thumbnail image for DSC02611.JPG1. Eugene – The press box at P.K. Park earned the only one of two unanimous votes by the broadcasters in the league (the other was for the worst of something), as the newest stadium in the loop earned rave reviews for the media headquarters.  The spacious visiting booth that has temperature controls, multiple Ethernet ports, phone lines, and a great sight line to the field.  One broadcaster felt, “It is night and day between P.K. Park and Civic Stadium, although I miss the charm of the old stadium.”  Another stated simply, “A big league experience,” while a third said, “Major League level press box – but other than the lack of a wireless internet set-up, it was as perfect as it gets.”

 


Thumbnail image for avista.JPG2. Spokane – I would think that Avista Stadium’s press box would have been the top choice in 2009, as the sight-line from high atop the part gives one a feeling of how broadcasters must have felt at old Tiger Stadium (but make sure not to fall out the window, it is a LONG way to the bottom) – as you are literally right on top of the action.  One broadcaster stated, “It is your best opportunity in the league to get a foul ball,” while a second said, “Great view, best in the league – with a pop machine and bathroom close by.”  A third broadcaster simply said, “AAA experience in a short-season A league.”

 


Thumbnail image for EverettMemorial3. Everett – I think the environment at Everett Memorial Stadium helps make their press box what it is.  Public Address announcer Tom Lafferty is a legend in the NWL, while the waitstaff that brings your dinner is outstanding – as is the sightlines to home plate.  “I love those clear days in which you can see the mountains in the distance,” said one broadcaster, while another mentioned, “Great view, although the internet access needs to be kicked up a notch.”

 


NatBailey2.JPG4. Vancouver – The box at Nat Bailey Stadium I think may be one of the next upgrades as the renovation of the park is ever-changing, as it is hard to think they used to house AAA ball.  The staff is outstanding, however, the radio booth is a bit cramped and although the sight-line to home plate is very good, it is hard to see things down the right-field line.  One broadcaster said, “Netting in front of the only untinted glass in the press box ruins the view, and the leg room is awful,” while another said, “Vancouver could be so, so, much better – should be #2, but loses points do to the inability to see part of right-field and the bullpen, and the lack of window tinting causes a legitimate hardship during day games.”

 


Thumbnail image for DSC02164.JPG5. Yakima – Although the press box at County Stadium hasn’t changed much since the stadium was built in 1995, a huge upgrade a couple years ago was the installation of an Ethernet line for internet access.  The visiting radio booth is right behind home plate, with the vantage point solid.  “Has improved considerably over the years, with the most reliable internet in the league,” said one broadcaster, while a second felt, “Needs a wireless internet option.”

 



Thumbnail image for RadioBooth.JPG6. Tri-City – Gesa Stadium has a basic press box that has plenty of room for the visiting broadcaster, but on nights with wind and dust – the large, open air windows make it difficult to choke out the weather.  When it gets hot in Pasco, especially in pregame, the booth does not give much comfort until the sun shade kicks in – but it does have a good view of the field.  “A lack of crowd noise is a challenge during some games, while the proximity of fans can be a distraction.  I don’t think the floor has been mopped since the Posse played there,” said one broadcaster, while a second mentioned, “Fans in the box are not nearly enough to quell the heat, although I tend to lose a couple pounds during the series there.”

 


Thumbnail image for Broadcast Booth7. Salem-Keizer – The press box at Volcanoes Stadium is a great working environment for everyone but the two broadcasters – as there is plenty of room for the gameday staff and press reporters.  The visiting radio booth is a small room right on the concourse level with a poor sight-line to home plate, making it difficult to judge pitches.  Fans will congregate in front of the window (which opens up and down, making it difficult to see) – further making the view difficult.  “I sound like I’m in a warehouse, and have fans talking constantly in my crowd mic.  That is, when they aren’t standing in the way of the game on the concourse,” said one broadcaster.  Another mentioned, “Stadium architect must have designed the press box on a Friday night between 4:50 and 4:59.  I’d like to see Katie Couric do the Evening News with a kiosk set up in front of her teleprompter.”

 


Thumbnail image for safford.JPG8. Boise – It’s sad to say, but my home press box is at the bottom of the list.  Too far away from the playing field to get any real natural sound from the game, while the heat during the summer can be brutal – especially on nights when the wind isn’t blowing.  Having a monitor in the booth when fans block my vision has been a life-saver.  One broadcaster put it – “Fans in your crowd mic, standing in front of you in the most inopportune times.  This outdated beauty adds to it with no ventilation in the middle of the summer, frankly, it needs to be blown up and redone.”  A second felt, “The Hawks “Tree House” is the absolute worst of the worst.  Impossible to do your job when you can’t see the field.  There shouldn’t be seats directly in front of the press box.”  A third mentioned, “It is a long climb to the restrooms.”

 

A couple other tidbits from the broadcasters – many of the guys mentioned that the Northwest League should send out a memo to the press boxes to mandate better communication between the broadcasters, the scorers, and the umpires when there are line-up changes.  Another said, “With the addition of P.K. Park, four of the eight press boxes now have restrooms.  Come on guys – four hours or more sometimes can be too long to wait.”  Another also was frank – “Salem-Keizer’s uniform numbers (a slanted script number) should be outlawed.”

Best Pre-Game Meals in the Northwest League

A survey among the eight broadcasters in the Northwest League has revealed their thoughts on the best Press Box Food in the league.

 


ivars_logo.jpg1.  Everett – The Aquasox have the most diverse menu in the league, as anything that is on their menu is available to eat – from chili or clam chowder in a bread bowl, Quiznos subs, to hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza.  What makes it even more impressive, is there are waitresses that handle your order.  “The fact that I can have Ivar’s clam chowder at the ball park sets Everett apart,” said one broadcaster.

 


Thumbnail image for DSC02177.JPG2. Yakima – The Bears are a close second, in fact, had more first-place votes than Everett.  Although the options at County Stadium are not as diverse as Everett – the quality is outstanding.  The philly cheesesteak is outstanding, their new sweet/sour or teriyaki chicken is the best in the league, and the Boomer Dog (pictured right) is a behemoth.  “The addition of the teriyaki bowl was the best addition in the league.  I love eating there,” stated one broadcaster.  You are on your own here to get food, but it is always free.

 


Thumbnail image for NatBaileyFood.JPG3. Vancouver – I enjoy the chicken strips (pictured left)  in Vancouver, while the sweet and spicy dipping sauce is outstanding.  The addition of Nathan’s hot dogs – including a foot long one, has improved the quality at Nat Bailey Stadium.  One thing I liked was the ability to get some popcorn or peanuts for the mid-late innings.  “There is always someone there to take my food order,” said one broadcaster, while another mentioned, “Their food selection has dwindled the last couple years, and the loss of beer in the press box was a downer.”

 

4. Eugene – For me, the diversity of the meal in Eugene was limited this year (with the move to PK Park) – as I used to love the burritos or the Hometown Heroes sandwiches.  However, there was always plenty of BBQ available (hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken) – and I always have been a fan of the potato salad.  One broadcaster commented, “Good variety, but it doesn’t last long,” while another said, “It is a good spread, but it may or may not be out there before I go on the air.”

 


Thumbnail image for teriyaki.JPG5. Spokane – PR director Joseph handles the pregame order for the radio staff, typically hamburgers or hot dogs, although I love their BBQ chicken sandwich or the teriyaki bowl at Avista Stadium.  Others do not share the same sentiments, as one stated “Burger, cold hot dog, burger – that’s a three-game feel; I feel sorry for the five-game guys,” while another stated, “Sometimes it shows up pregame, sometimes in the fifth inning.”

 

6.  Boise – I get the opportunity to have the pregame meal 38 times a year at Memorial Stadium and you get the rotation down.  Caesar chicken wrap, pizza, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, burgers – probably some of the more diverse food in the league (if only the Caesar didn’t have tomatoes on it).  One broadcaster stated, “Some healthy choices once in a while and the food is always there before I go on the air,” while another said, “Greasy pizza and a cold chicken wrap where you take your intestinal health in your hands.”

 


Thumbnail image for WWSMustard.JPG7. Tri-City – Hot Dogs, Hot Dogs, and more Hot Dogs – although the hot dog is good and the Sweet Onion mustard (pictured left) on the concourse is a must, while the final game of a series usually sees a hamburger or chicken sandwich – but they need more that ketchup and mustard.  “Hot dogs for five days is a stretch,” said one broadcaster, while another said, “Hot dogs, Again?”  A third stated, “Hot dogs, fountain pop, and finally, water.”

 

8. Salem-Keizer – In the past, I remember a pre-game spread at Volcanoes Stadium, say eight hot dogs or eight burgers, or a huge plate of nachos.  This year, it was a mishmash of food – and if you didn’t know it came, you may be out of luck, and there was soda provided just one of the five days.  I like their Asian cuisine at the park, but it hasn’t found its way into the booth.  One broadcaster stated “They do the minimum, sometimes less, but it is okay,” while another commented, “What pregame meal?”

 

Coming up, the broadcasters rank the Best Press Boxes in the Northwest League.

Broadcasters Rank the Northwest League (Preview)

foto-award-ceremony.jpgEach of the eight play-by-play broadcasters in the Northwest League have a great rapport with one another – as all of us have to deal with similar issues throughout the long grind of a 76-game season.  Bob Robertson of the Spokane Indians has called games for over five decades, Pat Dillon of Everett has called more Northwest League games than any other current NWL radioman.  Mike Boyle of Tri-City doubles as a hockey broadcaster, Chris Fisher of Eugene will call USC men’s basketball. Drew Bondetelli of Yakima calls Cal Poly athletics – while two other broadcasters work in their club’s front office – Rob Fai is one of Vancouver’s assistant GM’s, Matt Pedersen of Salem-Keizer is the head of their sales-staff.

We all eat the same food, we all stay at the same hotels, we all work from the same radio booth – some of us in the same booth 38 times, 5 or 6 times in the other seven cities.  We watch the same on-field promotions, we see the big crowds and the small, we all share a similar seat on the bus.

So I thought – let’s see how we all feel about five different aspects of the Northwest League – Best Team Hotel, Best Press Box, Best Stadium, Best Pre Game Meal, Best Overall Atmosphere.  Each broadcaster ranked the teams in the league 1-8 – the best team getting eight points and the worst one, plus giving some comments about the topics.

Some of the comments are outstanding, some are funny, some are directed at front office staff as a way to help improve the situation.  No names will be mentioned – but came from one of us eight.

Look for the results of the poll throughout the final two weeks of the season.

Alcantara.jpgNOTES: A sloppy game in the Tri-Cities last night, but it ended in a victory for the Hawks – their four win this season when trailing heading into the eighth inning.  Arismendy Alcantara made up for an error in the bottom of the seventh that led to two unearned runs that gave the Dust Devils the lead by blooping an RBI single to tie the score with two outs in the eighth.  Elliot Soto followed with an RBI single in the ninth to give Boise the win.  After a six-day layoff, Jordan Latham tossed a 1-2-3- eighth to get the win, with Steve Grife locking down the save.

BATTING RACE: It is a two-horse race for the NWL Batting Title – Alvaro Ramirez comes into Thursday hitting .355, while Pierre LePage, who is 14 for his last 26, has raised his average to .346.  LePage actually lost a hit last night – as his infield single in the ninth inning that started the Boise rally, was changed to an error (which led to an interesting exchange in the clubhouse following the game – with pitching coach Jeff Fassero finally exclaiming “When it happened, I thought it was an error.”)

STEALING FRENZY: The Hawks stole seven bases in seven tries last night against Tri-City catcher, Josh Powers.  Since 2003 (as far back as my stats databases go), Boise hasn’t swiped that many bags in a game – as the team stolen six bases in a game during the 2007 season.  LePage had three steals, with Soto, Alcantara, Ramirez, and Dustin Harrington each having one.

PROMOTIONS: A couple former Hawks earning promotions this week – a 2008 Hawks Chris Carpenter and Luke Sommer were called up to the Iowa Cubs, while 2009 Hawk Trey McNutt got the call to the Tennessee Smokies.

You Be the Judge?

We are back in the good ol’ USA – albeit sitting in limbo for a good 45 minutes at the U.S.-Canadian border.  I always wonder where you truly are when the bus is sitting outside of customs, you have gone through customs, but cannot leave the waiting area until they clear the bus – are you in the U.S. or Canada?


Texas_Champion-_Bryan_Danielson.jpgWhile in Vancouver, we noticed that TSN (the Canadians version of ESPN) carried WWE’s Monday Night Raw – which got the entire clubhouse rolling on Monday night when wrestler Daniel Bryan (or others have called him Brian Danielson) showed up to interfere with John Cena’s match (how I know the names – I don’t know, since I haven’t watched sports entertainment since college).

He seemed like an average wrestler that the fans seemed to like – but then, our health and fitness staff made the comments that set off the room.  Both A.J. Larson and Yi Chang Chiang made it clear that Daniel Bryan was indeed a look-alike to current Peoria Chiefs athletic trainer and 2009 Boise Hawks athletic trainer Dan Golden. 

Golden,_Dan_AT[1].JPGThey talked how Dan during the offseason sported a beard, just like Daniel Bryan has in the picture.  The entire clubhouse went nuts – this is even after a 7-0 drubbing to the Canadians.

So – put a little facial hair on the picture of Dan and do you see the wrestler?  You be the judge?

TRIP NOTES: After a long pit stop in the thriving metropolis of Zillah, Wash., last night at a local mini-mart (you should have seen the look on the lone clerk when a bus chock full of starved baseball players rolled out at 10:30 in the evening), the team arrived at our newest destination – the Tri-Cities.  We are on the backside of the trip.

PLAYOFF HOPES GOING, GOING, GON(E): At one point in the season, the Hawks were sitting at 19-14, alone in first-place in the Northwest League’s East Division.  A month has past, and so have the winning ways, as Boise has dropped 22 of their last 31 games – losing the first-half race to Spokane and now trailing Yakima by eight games, with just 12 games left on the slate.  As I mentioned to Richard Jones during our pit stop last night, although the postseason chances have faded – the Hawks can definitely factor in who meets Spokane in the NWL playoffs. 

One Final Take from North of the Border

NatBaileyoutside.JPGA second afternoon game awaits the Boise Hawks today in Vancouver, before the exodus from our favorite country to the North begins.  Which will be very interesting, since it will be the first time that we have crossed into the United States since our government began its border enforcement in January.  Hopefully – it will go as smooth as it did coming into Canada.  We also hope that our rooms are ready when we get to Kennewick this evening…the odds are 5:1 that they won’t be.

We are set to leave Vancouver and the good weather arrives – temperatures today in the province is set to be 25 – or as my colleague Bob Robertson would say “double the temperature and add 32 and you’ll get the temperature” – so it is supposed to be 82 (if my math is correct).

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a video to show fans the interesting trek to the pressbox at Scotiabank Field (at Nat Bailey Stadium), traversing the narrow stairwell to the roof – with the outstanding views:  

 

This morning, prior to making the hike to the press box, I had the opportunity to take a video from outside of the stadium – allowing you the opportunity to see the classic look of a ballpark that housed teams in the Western International League (the precursor to the NWL) and teams from the Pacific Coast League – when Vancouver was a AAA franchise.  Notice the concourse is alot like the old-time ballparks – Wrigley Field and Fenway Park…

 

NatBailey6.JPGANOTHER GREAT INTERN:  A few days ago, we talked about the great staff they have here with the C’s – from radio-man Rob Fai (who doubles as an assistant GM), to their Diamond-Vision staff.  But I forgot to mention probably the most unique one of the bunch – that being media relations intern Jeremy Knight.  Jeremy handles all of the basic things that an PR intern does – the same things that Bryan Moses, Onalee Carson, and Chad Bates have done for Kristen Nimmo and myself the last few years.  The one thing that sets Jeremy apart from the rest – he is 15-years-old.  That’s right, he is still in high school (or secondary school, as they call it up here).  For the previous five years, he was a contributor to the C’s “unofficial” blog, NatNotes – which was one of my favorite sites to visit (even though I was a topic of conversation for a few years thanks to an on-air incident about A’s catcher Landon Powell in 2004).  But the work he puts out, the interviews that he produces for CanadiansTV, is as good, if not better, than most in the minors.  As he told me yesterday, his goal is to be the next Bob Costas.  He also introduced me to their “kicked up” version of chicken strips last night – lathered in Franks Hot Sauce.

POWER SURGE IN THE LEAGUE: An interesting statistical nugget from the season is that the teams with the parks that typically yield the fewest number of home runs are not in their annual #7 and #8 slots in the league.  Tri-City has hammered 38 home runs this season, second only to the 58 by Everett and 39 by Spokane – both who play 43 games a year in hitters parks.  Vancouver, usually last in the loop in the category, has 29 homers – including four in this series.  The two teams at the bottom – the Hawks with 21 and Eugene with just 16.

Vancouverskyline.JPG

 

The Sushi Race – Year 2

And without further adieu – a look at the Vancouver Canadians “Sushi Race” – 2010 Edition.

 

 

Sunday Afternoon in the Shadows of the Olympics

Rootbeer.JPGThere is something about playing afternoon ball games that I enjoy – as does the coaching staff for the Hawks.  When I read “This Day in Baseball History” each night on the broadcast, the talk about the first night games in the late 1930s harkon back to the days when afternoon games were all there was.

I think about how Wrigley Field kept the lights away until 1988 and how when I was growing up, it was the last of the afternoon League Championship Series games in the afternoon (I still remember hearing the call of Ozzie Smith’s homer at Busch Stadium to win the pennant for the Cardinals).

It was the third day game of the year for the Hawks – and we’ll have one more on Tuesday.  Vancouver thrives on the afternoon games and the fans come out in droves for their “Nooners”.  In fact, the C’s decided to play up the “Green” card this year – as most of the NWL teams have this season, having an entire “Green” series against Everett, three straight weekday day games, which would have been sweet.

One of the things that make the Sunday games for Vancouver is that they serve A&W root beer floats (the owners of the C’s own A&W’s in the city) for a $1 – with the procedes going to charity.  It is the best $1 investment in the league…especially on a warm summer afternoon (if only we had that in Boise on the 100-degree nights).  I also love seeing the A&W Bear and Bob Brown Bear (the C’s cute mascot) hanging out on Sunday’s.

OlympicCentre1.JPGWHERE DID THE CURLING GO: Sitting adjacent to Nat Bailey Stadium is one of the venues that played a big part of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the Vancouver Olympic Centre – which played host to the curling championships.  A year ago, I was able to sneak into the building to watch as they were putting together the finishing touches to the facility – but in 2010, I could not get close to the rink – as major rennovations are on-going again, as it does not look anything like the building everyone saw on television.

OlympicCentre2.JPGFollowing the Winter Games (as Vancouver also hosted the Paralympic Winter Games as well), the City of Vancouver began to convert the facility into a Legacy Design, something that the entire community will be able to use.  The first thing that opened earlier in the year was a pair of huge swimming pools – one a 50-meter lap pool with a swim and dive tank (including a movable floor), an outdoor pool that seems to be packed all times of the day (even when the temperatures are in the 60s), and a huge fitness center.

OlympicCentre3.JPGUnder construction is converting the arena that held the curling event (which held upwards of 6,000 fans a night) into a multipurpose facility.  A full-sized ice rink (NHL regulation size) along with enough ice for eight sheets of curling will be constructed – but along with it, a true community center – including a full-size gymnasium, arts and crafts rooms, aerobics rooms, and the housing of the Vancouver Park Board’s main offices.

GAME NOTES: Both Alvaro Ramirez and Pierre LePage logged multi-hit games and the duo, who lead the Northwest League in hitting, added to their totals…Ramirez has 26 multi-hit games this season, with LePage right behind him with 23…speaking of LePage, he was credited with an RBI groundout in the eighth inning, which pulled the Hawks within 4-3.  On the play, Vancouver manager Rick Magnante questioned the umpire crew as to whether or not the ball might have hit LePage on the foot (but the call was upheld)…when I asked the UConn product as to whether it hit him on the foot, he said no – it hit me on the shin…

ROSTER CAROUSEL CONTINUES: After arriving in Vancouver on Friday night after spending a month in Peoria, right-hander Danny Keefe’s stay north of the border will last four days…Keefe has been promoted back to Peoria – and should be back in the Midwest League in time for the Chiefs game tomorrow night in Clinton, Iowa, one of 21 former Hawks on the Peoria roster.

They drink beer in the Northwest League? (but not in Vancouver)


coors_light.jpgThere are things that go on in every ball park in America during the summer – hot dogs, popcorn, and ice cold beer for the fans.  For the players – the daily grind of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Power Bars for a pregame meal and a trip to Denny’s after the game (maybe an Applebee’s if the group is lucky).

For the coaches and staff (and I get in on this one) – most teams provide some sort of postgame spread.  Typically it is hot dogs and hamburgers – Yakima busted out some of their outstanding Teriyaki Chicken, Spokane will have a chicken sandwich or two, and here in Vancouver, they have foot-long Nathan’s hot dogs.

But with all of us staff members well over 21 years of age, the best thing to wash down the meal is with a cold beer – especially on those nights on the road when it is 100 degrees, the press box is 120 degrees and after an hour pregame show and a three hour game.

Unfortunately – it is something that we had to figure out on our own here in Vancouver, as the Canadians do not supply the visiting team (and I am guessing they probably do not supply their own team) with suds.  Which saddens us, because Canadian beer is VERY good – especially the two breweries that are sponsors of the club – Whistler and Granville Island. 

There was a time in which they did – and I remember it vividly.  My first three years in the league, not only did the C’s provide beer to the clubhouse, they provided beer to the pressbox (of all places).  I was talking with longtime C’s scorer, Pat Karl, yesterday about the old days, when following the game, we’d crack open a Molson and talk about the game.  It was never abused by the pressbox or the media – a kind gesture for the hard work we all do for 76 days during a summer.

beer.jpgNot anymore – as our trusty bus driver Hal got to visit a local Liquor/Wine store (they do not sell beer at groceries in Canada) and purchase a 15-pack of Coors Light (have to stick with our sponsors), which cost $28.99.

The rest of the NWL takes a different approach.  In Yakima, Budwiesers and pale ales from their local brewery are consumed, in Tri-City, the kind clubhouse attendant brings a pitcher of beer for the staff.  Spokane, Everett, Eugene, and Salem-Keizer have a fridge with bottles or cans of their sponsors beer for the staff.  Nothing is abused, just a beer to celebrate a great win or to help take away the bad taste of a loss.  In Vancouver, though, we settle for the crystal canadian water (or the watered down Canadian version of Coors Light that we had to buy ourselves).

Thumbnail image for Kirk.jpgROSTER NOTES:  Prior to this afternoon’s game, the Cubs announced that left-hander Austin Kirk has been promoted to Class-A Peoria.  Kirk, the third-round pick from 2009, was 4-5 with the Hawks, including a victory on Wednesday night vs. Everett in his final start of the season.  He will join the Chiefs starting rotation.  Matt Loosen will take the place of Kirk in the rotation.  Juan Serrano made his scheduled appearance in Mesa last night, tossing three shutout innings, while Tarlandus Mitchell made his second rehab appearance, tossing two scoreless innings.  Larry Suarez rejoined the team in Vancouver prior to last night’s game after his visa issues were resolved. 

BATS ERUPT: The Hawks bats erupted last night, pounding out 16 hits in the 9-3 victory over the C’s.  Pierre LePage had his first four-hit game as a professional and is now 7-for-9 in the series with a double, two triples, and three RBI.  Micah Gibbs logged his third-straight multi-hit game, climbing his average to .155, while Alvaro Ramirez lined a single in the eighth, ending a season-long 0-for-11 slump.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Yesterday was also the 21st birthday for shortstop Elliot Soto, who was kept busy in the win, converting seven infield assists flawlessly.  He also had a good day at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

PAST FIVE INNINGS:  For the first time this season, a Boise pitcher broke past the five inning barrier – and kind of by necessity.  Cam Greathouse was nearly unhittable, allowing just two hard hit balls in six innings (one a double by Nino Leyja in the third, the other a fly ball out by Ryan Lipkin in the sixth), working to just two two-ball and one three-ball count.  After five innings, Greathouse had thrown just 52 pitches (well below the 75 pitch limit Boise pitchers are on), so instead of wearing out the bullpen, the lefty went out for the sixth and retired the side in order on 13 pitches.

LOOKING AHEAD: Look for pictures from what was the Olympic Centre – the 2010 Olympics Curling venue, which is no longer a home for curling.

Audio Highlight Reel (July 25-August 18)

note.jpgThe following link contains some of the best highlights from July 25 through August 18…including

Richard Jones two-run triple vs. Yakima (July 25), Ryan Cuneo two-run single vs. Vancouver (July 31), Elliot Soto’s walk-off winner vs. Vancouver (August 1), Ryan Cuneo solo homer at Everett (August 8), Aaron Kurcz final out vs. Tri-City (August 11), Ryan Cuneo two-run double vs. Tri-City (August 12), Jeff Vigurs two-run double vs. Everett (August 16), Ryan Cuneo homer vs. Everett (August 18), Jeff Vigurs homer vs. Everett (August 18)

Listen to the highlights at http://www.collegeofidaho.edu/athlete/boise/AugustHighlights.wmv

If Only We Could Have It In Boise…

VancouverVideo.JPGIt would make Memorial Stadium a destination place – a ball park that people would want to come to, just to come to the ball park.  Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver used to be Memorial Stadium, a worn out yard that used to host AAA baseball, but relagated to short-season ball after the Athletics moved to Sacramento in 2001.

However, the new ownership group that took over the club in 2006 has decided that the largest city in Western Canada and the only Canadian team in all of minor league baseball, is going to thrive in a community that is fixated on hockey and curling.

NatBailey2.JPGTwo years ago, the concourse at The Nat was completely gutted and remodeled – giving it a charm of going to a rustic ball park, with amendities that most parks don’t have (including a sushi bar).  The playing surface was replaced.  Seats were upgraded.  An this year, the best videoboard in the entire minor leagues was installed.

The video board is unbelievable (look at the clarity on the first picture, then the clarity on it from the pressbox in the second pic) – like watching TV from 450 feet away and feeling like you are at home.  It is 29 feet long by 19 feet high, yet the hi-definition quality is amazing – as Rob Fai, the C’s assistant GM and radio man said, it has the second-best quality picture in all of sports – behind that at Citi Field in New York.

NatBailey3.JPGAn the C’s do it right.  Lou Fillipano handles all of the video stuff, with the very photogenic Cindy Park handling all of the interviews on the field (as she told me tonight, she wants to work for NBC and become the next Connie Chung – and I think she can do it) – the staff works seemlessly, to bring high-quality action to the fans, with Vancouver boasting the second highest attended games in the league.

My hats off to them – it will make the next four days go by quick.  But it makes me think, gee whiz, outside of the diamond club in Boise, a small clubhouse addition, and some paint and pictures, what have we done to Memorial Stadium not just in the last five years, but say the last 15 years?  Nat Bailey is now a destination place – just as Avista Stadium is in Spokane.

NatBaileyFood.JPGGIMME SOME FOOD: The food options at Nat Bailey this year are bigger than ever – as the media has the option of having a burger, a regular hot dog, a footlong Nathan’s hot dog, some California rolls, or chicken strips and fries.  The coffee is also very good (the only downfall is that the the C’s are the only team that does not provide a beer to the coaching staff after a game).  But what set the food apart tonight (I went with the chicken strips) was the sweet chili dipping sauce that came with the meal – it was worth the price of admission just to have it.

A QUICK TRIP: Props go out to Hal our trusty bus driver from Interwest Transportation – who made an “all-timer” of a drive from the Treasure Valley to Canada – as we left Boise around 11:30 p.m. – made it just south of Mount Vernon, Wash., around 8 a.m., and to our hotel in Richmond, B.C., by 10:30 a.m.  Kudos also to the RCMP, who allowed the Hawks to get through customs at the U.S.-Canadian Border very quickly.

NatBailey.JPGTHE BIGGEST BOMB: I was excited to see the Athletics first-round pick, Michael Choice, out of Texas-Arlington for the first time.  After a 3-for-4, five RBI performance, I can see why he is now a millionaire.  In the third inning, he hit a bomb off Dustin Fitzgerald – the biggest home run I have ever seeing at Nat Bailey, this one went over the manual scoreboard(pictured right) in deep-deep left center (it is 390 feet to the scoreboard, which is 24 feet tall) – probably an estimated 430-450 feet in distance.

ROTATION UPDATE: With Juan Serrano in Mesa for a start, the Hawks will break up the Cam Greathouse-Brett Ebinger piggy-back for a time through, as Greathouse gets the ball on Saturday and Ebinger on Sunday, while the Eduardo Figueroa/Matt Loosen tandem will work Monday and Austin Kirk on Tuesday.  Serrano will next pitch for the Hawks on Thursday in Tri-City. 

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from a woman in BASEBALL . . .

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