A forfeit? And I thought I’ve seen everything
I have been a baseball fan for nearly all of my 34 years – watching the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome when they were horrible, watching the Tacoma Tigers at Cheney Stadium during the glory days of the Bash Brothers (even when they were in Tacoma in 1986 and 1987), seeing a triple play at Memorial Stadium in 2005, and all of the Memorial Stadium magic over the last few years.
But truly, tonight was something in another realm – a forfeit of a minor league game that wasn’t because of unruly fans (aka – Disco Demolition Night). And worse – it was the Boise Hawks who forfeited the contest.
On a rainy day in the Puget Sound area (picture of the tarp on the field at 6 p.m. tonight) – it was unclear whether or not the game would, or wouldn’t, be played. Around 6:50 p.m., the grounds crew began removing the tarp and spent the next 90 minutes getting the field into playing shape – which included at least a half our of work in left field where the excess water from the tarp had formed into puddles.
Finally, at 8:25 p.m. – play began (to the delight of the fans, as it was the annual Frogstock event for the Aquasox – with a fireworks show to follow, and the team wearing tie-dyed uniforms), and the Hawks didn’t wait long – as Everett starter Eric Thomas needed just six pitches to get out of the first, with the Hawks swinging at each first pitch.
In the bottom of the first, Eduardo Figueroa gave up a double to left to lead-off man, Terry Serrano. After two outs, Kevin Rivers followed with a base-hit up the middle, making it 1-0. The next batter, Hawkins Gebbers, lined a ball into left, but as Ryan Cuneo went to play the ball – he slipped on the wet warning track and fell – allowing Rivers to score from first, making it 2-0. Skipper Jody Davis, who felt all along the field was unplayable, came out and protested to plate umpire, Matt Mullins, that the field is in bad shape. After a five minute conversation, Davis pulled the nine Hawks in the field off and into the dugout. Field umpire, Matt Heersema then left for the clubhouse and returned about ten minutes later – after lengthy discussions with both managers, Mullins and Heersema told the Aquasox to take the field – with or without the Hawks. (As pictured at the top of the blog) So Gebbers returned to second, the coaches went to their boxes, and Evan Sharpley, the next batter, got in the box. After waiting the mandated five minutes as required in the MLB Rule Book, Mullins went to the Hawks dugout, giving Davis one last opportunity – when he declined, the game was deemed a forfeit, a 9-0 win for Everett.
What ensued was difficult for me to watch and describe – it was probably my toughest 30 minutes of radio in my career (and I have had some tough days on the microphone in my 16-plus years). The team was being berated from the fans and needed an escort (as an entire group) to get off the field – all while I was trying to describe what was going on and keep a level head (while knowing that we had to play eight innings of commercials to pay the bills).
In one case, I know exactly what the skipper was doing – protecting his players and the Chicago Cubs from injuries, earning the respect of the 27 men in the clubhouse – as I know that if one of the players would have been injured, the Cubs would not have been pleased with the decision to keep the game going. There was standing water on the warning track around the field and left field had drainage issues after the tarp was emptied.
On the flipside, I feel for all of the kids in attendance who were looking forward to watching a game – maybe their only game they’d get to see all year. Everett is a community that has struggled financially with the recession and a lot of men and women are out of work – and this might have been their lone game they got to go to. The Aquasox front office lost out on eight innings of concessions, eight innings of merchandise sales with a crowd of 3,000 – then will have to give out vouchers for another game to each of them. It also hurt a charity event for Everett, as the tie-dyed uniforms were supposed to be auctioned to the fans following the game – part of the Frogstock promotion. They did, however, get a nice fireworks show.
And for the Boise Hawks and I, it is a PR nightmare. As soon as the game was over and reports of the forfeit surfaced – my phone (and Facebook) lit up. People won’t look at it as the Chicago Cubs farm-hands forfeiting the game, it is the Boise Hawks – just before the team hosts its longest homestand of the year and during a tense time with the on-going process of a new stadium talks.
When it is all said and done – I am looking forward to Sunday afternoon, baseball as it was intended (hopefully).
QUICK HITS: Following the game, Major League Baseball Advanced Media stats service informed me that the statistics from the game will not count – so the runs allowed by Figueroa will not go against his ERA…it will also protect the 11-game hit streak for Alvaro Ramirez, who led off the game with a groundout to first…during the rain delay, the team had some fun with Webbly the Frog (Everett’s mascot), hula-hooping in front of the dugout (video is grainy)…it marked the first rain delay of the season for the Hawks…it is unclear who the starting pitchers will be tomorrow, as neither pitcher logged more than 20 pitches (Dustin Fitzgerald was the scheduled Sunday starter, with Eric Jokisch the back end of the piggy-back)…the loss for the Hawks was their eighth road defeat in their last nine games.