Day at the Ballpark

Last year we got a new minor league team to replace the AA Greenville Braves, who left to Missisippi after a dispute with the city over a new ballpark. The old ballpark was a dump in the strongest sense of the word. They didn’t get their park and left town, so last season the city got the Columbia Bombers up here and they played at the old dump. There were several teams wanting to come here, but the Bombers, a single A Red Sox team were here to stay.

They got a new stadium built downtown. Parking is a bit of an issue. The name was changed…to the Greenville Drive, a salute to the auto industry. We have BMW and Michelin down here. It’s a lame name, I could have dealt with the Green Sox or the Spinners (which was what the team was called back in the textile days) but the Drive, I’ll end up dealing with it. They originally wanted to call them the Greenville Joes, after Greenville’s own Shoeless Joe Jackson. Baseball did not allow it. The mascot is lame too, the Reedy Rip-it. The Reedy River runs through downtown. But a group of second graders designed it….and it’s just minor league baseball.

We had double A teams from the Cubs and I believe the Mets wanting to come to town. I would have preferred Double A baseball. The Met group wanted to built a park way out. I didn’t like the idea of cramming a park downtown at first. But after today, I’m fine with it. Parking can be an issue, but that’s the way it is. You can catch some Major Leaguers doing rehab assignments and the regular players have a good chance to play in the bigs. Like with the Greenville Braves, Chipper Jones played here awhile. You aren’t going to see as much of that with single A ball. But I’ll take it over nothing.

Wednesday’s noon game, so I went with my friend Chris. Parking wasn’t an issue since it was a day game. The Drive was playing the Kannapolis Intimidators. It was my first time at the new park. I have to say I was impressed. They built the park to mimic Fenway. For 6 bucks and 50 cents I had a front row seat on the first base line. Perfect view. They have a mini-Green Monster with buildings behind it. It’s go a real retro-feel for a minor league park. Here’s what the stadium looks like Jackson’s actually house is outside of the ballpark where it’s being made into a muesuem. It’s just a little rickety brick millhouse.

Greenville won, Here’s the actual game recap. It was a nice day to be at the park, minus the rain delay. For a single A team, the Drive’s pitching was good.
I think there was problem with the radar gun. There were pitches that went from 73 mph to 53 mph….I think the fastest pitch was at 83.

I’ll go to some games this summer. I’m always off Wednesdays, so I’ll make it down to some day games. Though I thought about it and if the guys on this team pan out, one day I’ll be booing them if they ever make it to Boston.

It’s nice to have a minor league team back in town.

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2 Responses

  1. Well, they couldn’t use the name “Spinners” — that’s what they call the Red Sox Single A team in Lowell, MA (also a historical textile city). And as for the caliber of players in Single A, I’ve seen David Eckstein, Kevin Youkilis and Hanley Ramirez at games in LeLacheur park — another beautiful downtown park.

  2. You beat me to the point about the “Spinners.” And about the people you see at Single A. I laugh at people who get all snooty about the distinction between Single A and Double A ball, as if they’re holding out for something better and it will make the games more enjoyable. Most people wouldn’t be the wiser if a Double A team were to suit up as the Greenville Drive for a day and play a game. The difference is noticeable mostly in terms of consistency over a period of time. On any given day you’re going to see errors and bad at-bats and pitchers struggling with control at any level. If you go to one or two games a month, there’s no way you can tell the difference. Not that it truly reinforces my point (though it kinda does), but the team competing to play in Greenville did not include two Double A teams. The Bombers (now the Drive) had been a Mets affiliate prior to moving to Greenville. The Cubs Double A affiliate was vying for a suburban site. As was the Hagerstown Suns, the Single A team that took over the Mets affiliation that the Bombers shed. Lastly — and this is anecdotal — one of the best things about Single A is that, in my experience, players seem to stick around longer at Single A. When they’re at Double A they seem to get fast-tracked (or find their talent’s upper limit) and aren’t around as long. A future big leaguer seems more likely to spend a full season with a Single A team than a Double A team — it’s just that you’ll have to wait a wee bit longer to see that player on TV or a Major League ballpark — which is where you should watch your games if you’re so snooty that you make fine distinctions between Single A and Double A. If you’re going to be that snobby about the kind of baseball you watch, it’s pretty slack to settle for Double A or Triple A.

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