19 Days on the Road…
The road is typically an interesting place – an opportunity to experience new things, see new sights and sounds, and live out of a suitcase for days on end. For the Boise Hawks, it has turned into home during the month of August, as the team has three days remaining on a stretch of 19 road contests in 24 day. But, as crazy as it sounds, the Hawks are 12-4 on this stretch, including last night’s 11-5 victory in Vancouver.
(Note the lack of pictures – all of the photos are on my cell phone, which is turned off as to not incur international roaming charges in Canada)
It looks like Playoff Fever will be in Boise (now, whether the fans or media buy into it, that is a different story) – as the Hawks need a combination of either two wins or two losses from Spokane and Yakima to clinch their first division crown since 2006. In talking with the staff, there will be no “celebration” – as the median age of the team is under 21 and the Cubs have a policy regarding a “typical” celebration when the majority of players are under the legal drinking age. As much as I’d love to have a champagne/beer shower as I did in 2004 (courtesy of Alfredo Francisco and Jerry Blevins), I also agree with the Cubs – you wouldn’t want something “dumb” to happen.
With the Magic Number trimmed to 2, it looks as if we will get to experience Yakima one more time – a final trip to County Stadium, a final trip to the Best Western Ahtanum Inn, a final trip to the Gearjammer Truck Stop for a Subway run, a final stop in the Palm Springs of Washington. It was bittersweet leaving the place on Wednesday morning – as I thought back to the 48 other games I had called in the steamy radio booth (that actually turned a bit chilly in the wind on Tuesday night) – remembering seeing a young Mark Reynolds and Carlos Gonzalez playing in the part, watching Wade Miley make his pro debut.
The food also is something in Yakima I am going to miss - year in and year out, I have gotten some outstanding and crazy food. Years ago, it was a philly cheesesteak, or a philly cheesesteak piled on a footlong hot dog; they’ve had huge teriyaki bowls, huge burritos, and huge plates of pulled pork nachos; but this year, they beat them all – the Seattle Dog. Radio man John Hadden alerted me to this one – their big beef hot dog piled high with onions, sweet and hot peppers (similar to an Italian Beef), but with one exception, cream cheese is on the bun. Sounds weird, tastes AMAZING.
Border Crossing pro – Bob Grimes is a professional at what he does, whether it be the traveling secretary, whether it be handling the bumps and bruises and the wear and tear of the Boise Hawks, whether it be crossing of an international border. From the time we stopped at the US-Canada border on Wednesday until we crossed, it was just 31 minutes (with three buses in front of us) – but it was just nine minutes from when Grimes left the bus until we crossed, what a great job.
Life in Vancouver is as it always is – expensive. We receive 95 cents in Canadian money for every U.S. dollar – whether you go to a bank, the Casino, or even the hotel, it’s 95 cents (I remember getting $1.35 for a dollar not to long ago – are things that bad in America?). Luckily, Subway has a $5.00 footlong special (Salami, Egg Salad, or Ham) – but if you want a beer, be ready to pay $6.00 for a pint (or $28.00 for a 12-pack, or $52 for a case).
Nat Bailey Stadium is still the old gem of the league – I love their Game Day staff. Rob Fai, their radio man is a riot, as is K.P. Wee, his assistant, and Jeremy Knight, his longtime confidant. They also have an outstanding blog – you should check it out on http://www.canadiansbaseball.com. Had an outstanding pulled pork sandwich and tackled a foot long hand dipped corn dog last night, plus, they have the BEST relish in the Northwest League (was worried it was gone, as I saw the Heinz containers in the concourse, but sure enough, the tart and tangy relish was next to the onions, right where it should be).
The ride has been fun – Willson Contreras has a 15-game hit streak, Stephen Bruno’s streak is 14. Albert Almora had a four-hit game last night, Dan Vogelbach continues to be Dan Vogelbach, and Trey Martin continues to kill Vancouver pitching. Hayden Simpson fanned seven in a win, and the Hawks doing this with Jeimer Candelario mired in an 0-for-22 slump.
Enjoy the ride – but let’s keep this bus rollin’.