OK, so I attended both Northwest Arkansas Naturals-Springfield Cardinals games this afternoon at Hammond Field in Springfield. As usual in posts like these, I'll try to avoid making this long-winded. Here are some general thoughts from both games. As for the title ("nightmare"), the second game epitomized the Game From Hell. Other than an early offensive explosion, virtually everything went wrong for the Nats today.
I sat in proximity - actually, four seats away from - an obvious die-hard Cardinal fan who was cheering on his team to a ridiculous, obnoxious degree each time they scored or something positive happened on his side. He was obviously baiting me, as I was the only Naturals (Royals) fan in the packed house. I, for one, hate these fan exchanges during the game, because a) what happens on the field is entirely out of control, b) it encourages blind homerism, c) it's flat-out obnoxious, and d) it epitomizes what it means to be a poor baseball fan. Needless to say, this clown was a poor baseball fan. Cheering on the ejections of Suomi & Poldberg (which I will highlight later), screaming each time his team scored, and more. He pulled so much bushleague crap....crap that I've actually never witnessed before at a baseball game, even an away game. I overheard him making notes like "This guy is throwing 89...he sucks" and openly questioning whether you can steal a base on a foul ball.
It was strange, because this man looked like a kid. However, he talked and carried himself like he was middle-aged. He was with a much older woman, who could have been his girlfriend. I overheard him asking her if she was married, at the time. In conclusion, I really wonder if this fan was mentally stable.
Anyway, this man is a clown...and he gives Turdburds fans (you read that correctly) an even further bad name....as if their reputation as pompous could have ever even been overcome. I ignored him intentionally the entire time, but when I did speak, I was polite. I'm paraphrasing in the quotes, here, but he told me "fans at Kauffman Stadium would be treating me this way, so don't take it personnally." He epitomizes pitiful blind homerism in fans. Enough said.
My seats were wonderful. Front row seats, directly behind the net, and approximately 20 feet from the dugout. I snapped about 20 photos with my camera, and another 50 or so with my cell phone. I'll share them later.
As for the game itself (which was largely overshadowed by this clown), catcher John Suomi was ejected in the first game. Of course, I couldn't hear the words exchanged between him and the umpire (and I arrived at the beginning of the second inning), but I'm guessing the exchanges were mostly silent, lacking outward emotional expression. Suomi was nonchalantly tossed, much to his shock and dismay. The manager, Brian Poldberg, then rushed out the dugout and threw a tirade before the umpire, and he was tossed. From my perspective, Suomi getting ejected looked completely like bushleague crap. There might have been more to the story, but if anyone has questions, ask.
It took the attendants at the ice-cream shop about 5 minutes per person to make their ice-cream. Their service was appalling. I snapped a couple photos, so I can post them here and possibly on Cardinals message boards to remind them never to conduct business with these slugs. This sounds like a jerk's move on my part, but I cut through the line to pay for my ice cream (I had to pay separately) before it melted, sitting there in the sunlight. At least I think I cut...I'm not sure. Regardless, their business was piss-poor. Talk about horrifically disorganized and a cluster-what. I recommended everyone in line leave before conducting business with them.
Anyway, back to the game....John Bale entered his rehab assignment and was pulled after recording two outs and surrendering one line drive single in roughly 7 or so pitches. He was hitting 85-87 with his fastball on the radar gun, so I knew something was either wrong, initially, or he was extremely rusty. Looks like it was the former. The trainers and a couple other members of the dugout emerged and instantly yanked him in the 6th. He wasn't signaling toward anything, so I'm not sure what the aggravation might have been.
First game starter Blake Wood was dominant, using four pitches and locating them effectively. His fastball topped out around 93, and was 91-92 most of the game. He surrendered two solo home runs - both no-doubters - in the final inning, but it was good work on his part, overall. He was visibly frustrated after that final inning, though.
Second game starter Matt Kniginyzky, as the box score displays, endured a Hellish outing, and could not make it to four outs in the contest. He was not locating at all effectively, and they were tattooing the pitches that he did throw in the strike zone. I thought the game was safe after the first 1 1/2 inning, but he proved otherwise.
Gilbert De La Vara, who usually has to rely on spotting his pitches, endured a microscopic strike zone this afternoon. He didn't walk anyone, but they were connecting quite well with his pitches, as they were with Dan Cevette and Kyle Crist, when they weren't walking batters.
I thought bringing in reliever Chris Hayes was a possibility, given that he hadn't pitched in several days. Then again, ok...he pitched 6 (dominant) innings not too long ago. (No Chris Nicoll either, though).Springfield/Cardinals fans cheering on the ejections and the meaningless sacrifice bunts early in the ballgame, as expected. Best fans in baseball!!!!!!!!11111!!11one
Despite hitting a home run, Lisson looks lost at the plate. Athletic build and good defense today, but too many swings and misses. His home run was a no-doubter, though, so hopefully it's a sign of things to come.The Cardinals' first game starter, Brandon Dickson, was absolutely untouchable today. He reminded me of Scot Shields of the Angels, except Dickson dominated in multiple innings. He was only hitting 87-89 on the radar gun, but the deception appeared to be there, and his explosive delivery made it appear yet faster.
The AA Cardinals are a loaded ballclub, offensively. Brett Wallace, last year's #1 amateur draft selection, agreed to a humungous signing bonus, as noted several times by several fans I was sitting with. Their #7 prospect, Daryl Jones, was also in the lineups, as well as the first round draft selection of '07, Pete Kozma. The middle of their lineup was huge, physically. Just huge.Several of the Cards' relief pitches showed odd deliveries. Williams' stretch resembled that of a windup. During the stretch, he only had one foot on the rubber, and his body was facing home plate instead of first base. Very deceptive for runners on first. Another reliever, Degerman, came directly overhand on his pitches after dipping. It looked like Tim Lincecum, except it was a directly (180-degrees) overhand pitch. Very bizarre and deceptive.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask, as I observed quite a bit from the games, despite my distractions to my right.