Wednesday, April 25, 2007

About Those Biscuits

Montgomery BiscuitsSomone asked me the other day about my cheering on the Montgomery Biscuits. They asked how I "got hooked into going to Biscuits games." Which is sort of how the Wife feels, since she's not really a sports fan.

Anyway, about those Biscuits. It sort of happened by accident. And by fate. And it's sort of a long story. You might want to go get a Coca-Cola. I'll wait.

A couple of years ago, a family event took us near where the Jacksonville Suns would be playing. Now, at the time, the Suns are in the Southern League. And they were (and are) the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And, at the time, the Columbus Catfish, our local team, were a Dodgers affiliate.

Now, the Wife and I began going to baseball games when the South Georgia Waves came to town after the Columbus RedStixx moved away. The Waves made an emergency move from Albany to Columbus just 8 days before the 2003 season started, and as a result, there were few fans at the games. They averaged 452 per game, but played hard and were in the playoff hunt until the last week of the season.

The next year, the Waves stayed in town when their plans to move to Evansville, Indiana fell apart. They changed their name to the Columbus Catfish, and stuck around for a bit.

Now, you must remember, the owner of the Catfish never wanted to have a team here to start with. So, it's always been iffy about their continued stay here. They've been through many staff changes, but finally seem to have some consistency at General Manager; Ken Clary has been on the job for a couple of years now.

Anyway, the point is, there's always been the idea in the back of everyone's mind that they might move away. And, with poor attendence -- currently averaging 856 a game -- they just might.

Now, let's switch gears for a minute.

Minor league baseball is a bunch of players wanting to play in the major leagues. And they usually move up through a major league team's farm system. For example, my major league team, the Atlanta Braves, brings in rookie players at either the Gulf Coast League team at Kissimmee, or the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League.

When the players make the jump to Class A ball, they usually go to Rome. Advancement from there is usually to Class A (Advanced) Myrtle Beach Pelicans of the Carolina League.

Up at Double-A, there are the Mississippi Braves of the Southern League.

Advancement to Triple-A means the International League team, the Richmond Braves.

So, what do these Braves teams have to do with the Columbus Catfish? Well, I just used the Braves teams as examples. It's pretty much like that with all the teams.

The Catfish were with the Dodgers. As a Braves fan, I'm not a Dodgers fan. But, as a Catfish fan, I'm a fan of some of the players in that organization. And we've followed them as they've moved up the Dodgers farm system ... or to other organizations.

About three years ago, the Wife and I went to Las Vegas on vacation. And we found out that, while we were there, the Las Vegas 51s had a home game. And Las Vegas is the Triple-A affiliate of the Dodgers, same as the Catfish were back then. So, we went to see them play.

Then, a couple of years ago, a mid-week trip took us to Tennessee for a family event. And, in Tennessee, is Knoxville. Where the Tennessee Smokies play. And, I noticed on the schedule, that they would be playing the Jacksonville Suns. And, I noticed that the Suns roster included some former South Georgia Waves, and a local player from Columbus. So, we decided to catch that Smokies-Suns game.

Last year, we had another trip to Tennessee. This time, we came back by way of Huntsville and caught a game between the Suns and the Huntsville Stars. And the next day, between the Suns and the Montgomery Biscuits.

We enjoyed both games, but the Montgomery game was lots closer to home (about 80 miles). And, we went back to watch a game with the Biscuits and the Mississippi Braves. And we caught a playoff game against Jacksonville. And a playoff game against Huntsville.

We found we enjoyed the games in Montgomery. The stadium is a lot nicer than the one in Columbus. And there is more variety of everything there: food, merchandise, in-game promotions ... everything.

So, you see all the pieces, except for one.
  • We follow the Catfish.

  • We follow Catfish players after they are promoted.

  • We enjoyed the games in Montgomery.

  • The Catfish may leave Columbus because of no fan support.

The missing piece?

The Catfish are no longer affiliated with the Dodgers. They are now part of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization.

And so are the Montgomery Biscuits.

So, now, going to see the Biscuits is like it would have been going to see the Jacksonville Suns play ... except the drive is less than 90 minutes as opposed to 6 hours. We can make that trip.

I'm still a Catfish fan, of course. Got season tickets.

But, now that the Biscuits are the Double-A destination of the Catfish players -- not to mention current team of other former Catfish who were traded from L.A. to Tampa Bay -- I'm following the Biscuits. In fact, when the season began, we were more familiar with returning Biscuits than the all-new Catfish.

The games in Montgomery are fun. We go to the Catfish games when the Catfish are in town. But, now we have another team to follow, that's not too far away.

As a southern boy, I've enjoyed biscuits all my life. Now, I can enjoy the Biscuits, too.

1 comment:

  1. Charleston spent $23 million on a new ballpark and is averaging 3,000+ fans a game. As you know, your Redd Stixx are in Cleveland (Lake County is next door to Cuyahoga, which is Cleveland) because of its $25 million stadium and an ability to draw 4,000+ fans a game.

    The SAL ain't what it was. Charleston WV's entry into the SAL the mid 1980s stretched the geography a tad and soon people discovered you can get the local yokels to build you a ballpark and you can make a good living off a minor league team

    Lakewood, NJ is in the league.

    NASCAR lost its dirt tracks. The SAL lost its charm as well.


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