Monday, June 06, 2005

The Weekend in Review

Baseball, Baseball, Baseball Edition

Dream Sequence

I don't remember dreams often. This one was definitely worth sharing, though. Actually,this was more like three smaller dreams rolled into one, as I drifted in and out of sleep last night.
It started with me at some kind of summer camp with some people from my high school. It wasn't just my friends, though - it was also some random people I hadn't even talked to since I graduated 6 years ago. Apparently, every single Notre Dame sport was holding walkon tryouts at this camp at the same time. So, of course I decided I was going to try out for baseball. While I was at it, I figured I might as well follow some of my camp roommates and try out for football as well. Then, I remembered that I couldn't play because I don't go to school any more. So, that was the end of that.
The next thing I know, I'm playing left field for the Giants in Chavez Ravine against the Dodgers. For some reason, I was the only guy available to play outfield, and they even had to move Barry Bonds (who was apparently healthy again) from left to right field to put me in. The inning ended, and the team headed back to the first base dugout. I'm thinking, "Man, Barry probably doesn't want to sit next to some nobody rookie like me." Since I'm coming from left field, I'm the last person back to the dugout - and of course the only seat left on the bench is right next to Barry. I sat down, kept my mouth shut, and looked straight ahead. He seemed to be OK with that, and one of the vets was even nice enough to move in between us so Barry didn't have to sit with the riff-raff.
The next thing I know, I'm apparently on the largest cruise ship in the world. This ship is even big enough to have its own small indoor softball field. Of course, the bones - who are on this ship along with some of the same random high school people - decide to start a game. Apparently, since this is such a nice ship, everyone has to play in a suit and tie. I get changed, but I'm running late and everyone's done and at the field before me. I take the elevator up to the softball floor, but accidentally go one floor too high and end up on the Presidential floor. Now, the Presidential floor is even nicer than the rest of the ship. Once I get off the elevator, the crew immediately has to change me into a tuxedo. Now, the Presidential floor is so named because it houses two special suites. I see two doors with a sign on each. The first reads: "Presidential Suite (Bill Clinton used to stay here)." The second, "Vice Presidential Suite (Al Gore used to stay here)." I thought it was nice, and kind of amusing that they mentioned Bill Clinton and Al Gore, just in case you didn't remember what the words "Presidential" and "Vice Presidential" meant. I couldn't figure out why the signs hadn't been changed recently, though. At this point, my infamous cousin shows up. In his true style, he convinces one of the crew to open the door to the Presidential Suite so we could look inside. Just as we get a quick glance, the guy who's staying in the suite - some random heavyset balding guy in his 60s with graying hair - shows up, and our mini-tour is over. After a minute or two in the room, the guy comes back out to use the bathtub. The bathtub, shared by the two suites, is in an open room with no door between the suites. Deciding that I don't really want to see this guy's hairy back, I move on. Remembering the softball game, I stop some random old lady in a ball gown and we start playing catch in the hallway. It was then I noticed that the ceiling on the Presidential floor was really low for it to be a place to play softball. At that moment, someone rushes in to tell me that the softball game was going on one floor below. In a rush, I decide to hurry down the spiral staircase. This takes a couple minutes, of course, because the softball floor is very tall - it has to be big enough to play softball, remember. In my haste, though I forget my glove. I get there to see Dave pitching and Steve Cronk in center field. Brian Cronk had been called to fill in my place in left field. (Again with left field, I don't know why.) The softball floor is very nice - wooden floors, a not-quite-regulation sized infield, overall a great place to play. Seeing me rush in, Steve looks relieved. He tells me he doesn't want to play any more (I get the impression that he never wanted to in the first place) and hands me his glove. (Note to Cronk, if you're reading this: this was a dream, I had no control over whether or not you were wearing the Eli Manning face while playing softball.) Still in my tux, I jam on the glove, take Steve's spot, and... my alarm goes off. Dah.

Baseball Recap

It was a big baseball weekend for me: the Ohio Valley Redcoats were in Lorain trying out a potential new hometown, I was invited to a Lake County Captains (Indians mid-level A) game, and ND baseball was playing in the Regional Tournament.

Ohio Valley Redcoats 4, Richmond Roosters 3: Sadly, I was only able to make it to one game of this three game set, but it was a good one. Highlights of the game: Ohio Valley's second baseman made a great backhand catch and went into a slide right as he hit the bullpen mound behind first base, causing him to flip a little, but he held on. The Richmond center fielder, who I described to Ellen as Julius on 'roids or Darrell Campbell still weighing 300 pounds but only being 5'9" (basically, this guy was short but very built) absolutely blasted the catcher on a play at the plate. The same center fielder also let two runs score when a line drive went right over his glove - that was the "oh yeah, this is still basically low-level ball" moment for me. The Richmond shortstop made a play where he was running to his left when the ball made a high bad hop. As a reaction, he stuck out his bare hand while still moving to his left, snagged the ball, and made the play at first. Later that same inning, the second baseman for Richmond almost made a similar play. He too got a bad hop, but was only able to knock it down with his bare hand. He tried to dive and throw to first all in one motion - an impressive move - but couldn't get the batter in time. The bottom of the 9th featured some great drama. Tied 3-3, Ohio Valley lead off with a double. Everyone knew the bunt was on, and Richmond had the "wheel play" on. In the wheel play, the third baseman charges, the shortstop covers third, and the second baseman covers second. Theoretically, if the player who fields the bunt has time, he should throw to first. This is what happened, but the runner at third was called safe by the lone base umpire - who was in great position for the call. Well, the Richmond manager came flying out of the first base dugout, and I could here him say some words that definitely weren't intended for an audience full of little leaguers. The second baseman, who wasn't in on the play, came over to "help," but the manager shoved him aside with one hand without even looking away from the umpire. The next thing I hear is " wheel play! " Classic. I think "wheel play!" is my new favorite curse word. Well, apparently it was the second baseman - who, remember, was 90 feet away from the play - who uttered the "wheel play" tirade, because he got the hook. That didn't make him any happier, and the center fielder (remember, a very built guy) had to come rushing in and spend the next 5 minutes wrestling the second baseman away from the action while the manager continued to argue. Well, when the dust settled, it was first and third. Two outs and a walk later, the bases were loaded. The Richmond pitcher started with 2 strikes to the Ohio Valley batter, and everyone was bracing for extra innings. Then came three straight balls. Oh, the drama! Two outs, bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, full count. What comes next? Ball four, game over! How's that for excitement on a Thursday evening?

Lake County Captains 6, Delmarva Shorebirds 2: On Saturday, I was invited by Cristin to take in a game in Lake County. Our seats were very nice - right behind 3rd base, about 15 rows up. Of course, at a stadium that small and that well built, there really aren't many bad seats. Our section was made up almost entirely of people from Cristin's church - we were bussed to the stadium after mass. Apparently, due to my baseball experience, my bare hands were the only thing keeping the entire section from massive injury from a foul ball. Fortunetly, nothing came our way, though. Now, Classic Stadium knows how to entertain its audience. One lucky Delmarva batter was named "White Castle Strike Out Batter of the Game." If he struck out at any point during the game, everyone got a free White Castle hamburger. I was excited for free food, but not so excited when I found out it was White Castle. Oh well, he didn't strike out, so it was a moot point. Miller Lite sponsored a contest. All this guy had to do was hit a tennis ball off a tee over the fence from 100 feet away. He did on the second try, and for it he took home a 6-pack of Miller Lite. Nice. The following inning was the Arby's Home Run Inning. If the Captains hit a home run, everyone gets free fries from Arby's. A Captain did, and everyone was ecstatic. I was slightly less ecstatic, though. You see, Lake County is east of Cleveland, an hour plus away from Lorain. So I'm thinking, "great, I won these free fries, but I'm not going to drive to an Arby's an hour away from home just to cash in my coupon." Fortunately, the coupon says "any Cleveland area Arby's," so I could be OK. Lord knows I love my curly fries. Now, I mentioned the Miller Lite contest. But not all the entertainment was geared for adults. Oh know, Classic Stadium knows its entire audience. During a Delmarva pitching change, the new pitcher got to warm up to a sing-a-long of the Spongebob Squarepants theme song playing on the video board. Of course, the kids weren't loud enough the first time around, so they were asked to sing it again. Good times. Oh yeah, there also was a baseball game going on, but apparently I was the only one paying attention to that.

Notre Dame plays in the Gainsville Regional: This was a double-elimination tournament with Florida, North Carolina, and Stetson. As the #3 seed in the regional, Notre Dame lost the first game to #2 North Carolina 5-1. They bounced back the next day in the losers' game, beating Stetson 7-4. North Carolina lost to Florida in the winners' game, which meant the Irish would again have to face the Tar Heels. Notre Dame pitcher Dan Kapala pitched a gem for 8 innings, and this time the Irish won 3-0. Now, they would have to knock off Florida twice to get to the Super-Regionals. Of course, to do this, the first game against Florida would have to take place mere minutes after the Irish win over UNC. Notre Dame plain ran out of gas, and Florida rolled to a 23-3 victory, end of story. It was an up and down year for the Irish, and their two final games truly showed that. Better luck next year, guys.

It looks like I'm going to be playing softball again this summer, and that'll severely reduce my writing time. So, until further notice, I'll accept any and all guest columns from you loyal KankaManiacs. I'll try to sneak in a Transaction Wire later this week, but I did want to pass on an interesting piece of news that most ND sources apparently haven't picked up yet: There is a good chance that the Gator Bowl will drop its alliance with the Big East, replacing them with the Big 10 or Big 12. However, it is expected that the Big East (and Notre Dame) will be able to replace the Gator Bowl with another of a similar payout.

Until next time, Go Irish.