Okay, so I didn't do a post called "Opening Day." Well, if Bill Cosby can do "Leonard Part 6," I can do an "Opening Day II" without an "Opening Day I" can't I? At least it's not "Ghost Dad II" right?
Anyway, lots and lots of blogs covered the topic of Opening Day. I ranted and rambled about drug-using and cheating baseball players offending my love of the game. You see, I like baseball. And, while the fun and excitement of attending a Major League game is, well, fun and exciting, I actually prefer Minor League Baseball.
In the minors, you can get closer to the game. Or so it seems to me. The whole experience is new to the players, and they aren't used to having people asking for autographs, at least not like the big leaguers are. You meet the occasional prima donna. But those are few and far between. Most of the young men playing in the minors, at least the few I've met, are pretty good folk. And our two this year seem to be some really special young men.
Oh, I didn't tell you about "our two" ballplayers, did I? Well, there is a group of fans, married couples all, that "adopt" players. By that, we look out for things they need, and help them in an unfamiliar city. You see, most of the players are off from home for the first time, and some are many many miles from home. They don't know anybody and probably don't speak the language.
You see, the local team (Columbus Catfish) is part of the Dodgers organization (yeah, that really hurts a Braves fan like me, but I've also always thought of the Dodgers as a class organization, so that makes it all okay). The Dodgers seem to have a large number of OCONUS players. Many from Latin American countries, or from the Islands, or from Asia. Or from Pennsylvania, Missouri, or California. Yeah, they talk English different in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and California. At least, different that what you hear around here.
Anyway, about our two players. One's from Pennsylvania. His name is Daniel Batz, and he is the first baseman. Yes, they have more than one first baseman, but Dan is scheduled to start at first in the game tonight. He played his college ball at Rhode Island and set the school records for base hits.
He played with the Dodgers' Pioneer League (rookie) team in Ogden, Utah last season, batting .335 (third best on the end-of-season roster) and second in triples on the team.
So, he's a pretty good ball player. And we met him Tuesday night at a supper for the players. He seems like a pretty good fellow. Don't know if it's the fact that southern food isn't like Pennsylvania, or if the way we fix food down here isn't quite as healthy as he's used to, or if he's a picky eater. Whatever it was, he didn't eat a lot. He might be one that eats lots of small meals. I'm thinking he's a little bit of a health nut. He drinks mostly water or Gatorade. But he likes his Snickers bars, so there's hope for him yet.
At the supper, we also met our other player, Lucas May. Lucas is from Missouri. He signed with the Dodgers out of high school, after committing to play for the University of Missouri. I'm sure the Tigers fans are disappointed to not get him, because his high school stats were impressive, helping his team to the state quarterfinals, and being named second team all-state.
He also played for the Ogden Raptors last year, appearing in 34 games. While not a power hitter, he makes the most of his appearances. He had the highest number of RBIs per number of games played for the Raptors.
He's scheduled to start at shortstop tonight when the Catfish open their season. And at supper Tuesday night, he seemed to really enjoy the meal. Either he hadn't eaten since breakfast, or he was glad to eat something other than fast food.
One other note from the supper. Late in the season, a player from Ogden was called up to Columbus, and we were his host family. He was injured in practice shortly after arriving, and only played four games here. He's back this year, and all healed up. And since he's also a shortstop, he's vying for Lucas' job. Brandon Carter had the highest batting average for Ogden last season before being called up to Columbus. We're not Brandon's host family this year. The lady heading up the program snagged him. When we heard Brandon was playing here this year, we hoped to be his host family. But he's got a good one, as it turned out. And we got two really great young men.
We're looking forward to being able to help these fine young men who are still in the beginnings of their baseball career. Perhaps we'll get to watch them play in the majors one day. That would be great. But I know I'm going to get to watch them play at the minor league level very soon. And I'm certainly looking forward to that. They are great young men. They deserve much success. And much support.
If there's a minor league team near you, check it out. It doesn't cost much to attend, and you're watching the stars of tomorrow play. One day, I'll tell you about seeing some of the stars of today playing minor league ball. If you're near Savannah, head to Grayson Stadium and watch the Sand Gnats take on the Catfish. The wife and I won't get to see the game, since Savannah's a 5-hour drive. But the home opener is next Thursday. We'll be there for that one.
Head to the minor league game nearest you. And one day, you'll be able to tell about seeing some stars when they were in the minors.
UPDATE: Find a nearby minor league team here. [via Down4Repairs]