Friday, September 11

Aeros fever!

I had the pleasure last evening of attending game two of the Eastern League Divisional Series, where the Indians' AA affiliate, the Akron Aeros, defeated the Reading Phillies 6-2 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-5 series. A couple of notes on the game:

- Reading is an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and are exceptionally creatively named: the Reading Phillies. Their uniforms list them as the "R-Phils," which has no ring to it whatsoever. Furthermore, when you consider that "Phillies" is one of the lamest team names in all of pro sports, couldn't Reading have spent five minutes thinking of a better name. How about "Reading Railroaders"? There, I spent 30 seconds and thought of something way better than "R-Phils." I'm going to call them the Railroaders for the rest of this article.

- Canal Park is a beautiful stadium, even nicer than my low-res picture at right indicates. Really a lot nicer than Huntington Park, the new home of the AAA Columbus Clippers. Plus, all seats are just $10! We were only 4 rows behind the Railroader dugout, which meant easy heckling of improbably-named Reading catcher Tuffy Gosewisch.

It turned out to be Thirsty Thursday, as the club was offering 12-oz beers for $1 through the third inning. It was good beer too - the Ohio Brewing Company was there with their wares, including the Ohio Fest beer that won the People's Choice Award at last weekend's Cleveland Oktoberfest, as well as the coveted Best Beer Andy Francis Tried All Night Award at the same event.

I attended the game with my buddy Fanuc, and needless to say, we discovered this promotion immediately after the 3rd inning. Oh well.

- It was nice to get an opportunity to see some of the Tribesmen of the future get some action. Jeanmar Gomez, the Eastern League pitcher of the year, pitched 6+ strong innings, losing a shutout bid only at the end. I also got a look at Lonnie Chisenhall (3-3 on the game), Beau Mills, and, of course, Eastern League MVP Carlos Santana.

- Neither team did anything offensively through 3 1/2 innings, until Santana absolutely unloaded on a pitch from Railroader starter Yohan Flande. Crushed. It was still rising when it cleared the wall. I lost sight of it. The writeup I read on claims it landed in the canal beyond left field, but I'm not convinced it ever landed. Goodness. Apparently, concerns over Santana's communication skills are keeping him from the Majors for now. I don't care if the guy speaks only Klingon - let's have him up to Progressive Field for a few games. We already have like six catchers on our roster - what's one more? DH him for all I care. Tell me you wouldn't rather see him take a few whacks over Hafner for a couple of games.

- The Aeros have a guy in uniform (no number) whose name is listed as "BATMAN" and who sports a Batman belt buckle and retrieves the visitors' bats, often twirling them through his legs (the bats, not the visitors). He's a bit of an entertainer, both intentionally and unintentionally. Everytime I saw him, I thought of the Batdad from the Little League episode of South Park.

- Excellent work was done by Aeros in-game host Calvin Funkhouser, a fellow New Philadelphia High graduate. Thought I'd put that out there. At right is a photo of Calvin and his crew leading the fans in a rendition of "YMCA."

- Poor work was done by whomever is in charge of the Aeros' stats and publications. The two-page game program was apparently typeset using Gutenberg's original printing press, and bizarrely used 2008 stats for all of the players instead of 2009 stats, so you had no idea how well the players performed this year, which seems like the kind of thing someone reading stats might want to know. I could have made a far superior version using Excel and in a couple of hours. Aeros staff, you have my contact info. I'm willing to do this pro bono.

- Making things worse was the scoreboard display, which inexplicably presented the players' 2009 playoff statistics rather than their regular-season stats. This is the second game of the playoffs! Did they do the same thing for Game 1? Telling me that a guy is batting .250 for the postseason is in no way interesting. I get it, he went 1-4 yesterday. How about his 400 regular-season at-bats? Any news on that? Every reliever who came in got their face on the scoreboard next to a bunch of zeroes in literally every category, simply because they didn't pitch last night. This is in no way useful information. Please, Aero management, use the regular-season numbers so we can learn something!

- This is especially puzzling considering that Akron is a habitual playoff-qualifying team, so they should know better. This a winning club! Assuming they can knock off the Railroaders in one of the next three contests, they will reach their 6th Eastern League Championship series in the past 7 years. That's an impressive run. The team claimed titles in 2003 and 2005; hopefully they can add another Eastern League trophy to their mantle to sit next to their 2009 EL Southern Division regular-season crown.

Go Aeros!

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