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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Hockey Night in Carolina

That was a heck of a hockey game. The 4 hour drive to get to Charlotte was worth it. Next up: The Charlotte Knights AAA baseball.

The Checker's mascot Chubby (no, I'm not making that up)
If you can't play the puck, play the man.
The Marlie's goalie was a little bored in the first period.

The Checker's goalie was busy for the first 33 minutes or so.

Goal 2 for the Checkers
Goal 3 for the Checkers.

Lots of people (the other side was just as full)

So, it took me a four hour drive to get to the game and somebody stole the Mr. Redlegs magnet off the back of my car, but it was totally worth it. The crowd at the arena was a lot bigger than I expected (at least 6,000) and there were even people tailgaiting outside pregame. It was a little jarring walking in from the 80+ degrees outside into a hockey arena, but I had my jersey on so I was okay.

The first half of the game was all Marlies. Their goalie actually looked bored at times and the boys from Toronto got out to a 3 goal lead. Then, with about 5 minutes left in the second period Tomas Jurco scored for the Checkers and they roared back to life.

Pretty quickly in the third, Charlotte got two goals within about a minute. Then it evened out for a while and the place was rocking. BTW, if you're subject to epileptic seizures don't go to this arena; the strobing was a little much. Lights were strobing and everyone was screaming their heads off. It looked like we were going to get overtime for a bit there until, with about two minutes left, Poturalski put a 4th goal in the net for the Checkers and the place went crazy.

A 5th followed into an empty net, but the game was over with the 4th.

Great game. Great place. Now they go to Toronto. The next time they're scheduled to be in Charlotte is next Sunday (if needed).

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Cyclones Wind Down

I drove up to Cincinnati to watch the Cincinnati  Cyclones play the Toledo Walleyes in the Kelly Cup playoffs (the ECHL's version of the Stanley Cup).

After about a four hour drive I got to the riverfront area where the football stadium, baseball field, and hockey arena are all lined up side by side. Then, I sat in a line of cars for forty minutes trying to get into the parking garage near the hockey arena only to have it close (full) when I was two cars short of turning in. I can hear you thinking "Wow, that must have been a heck of a large crowd for the hockey game!" Nope. The Reds had a game scheduled to start 30 minutes before the hockey game. It was raining, cold, and miserable and thousands of baseball fans were everywhere (tell me again how nobody goes to baseball games). On the other hand, there were about 6,000 of us who had enough sense to come in out of the rain and watch hockey.

Unfortunately, things didn't go so well for the home team. The Cyclones were already down 3-1 in the series and came in fired up. The first period was pretty much all the Cyclones swarming the Toledo goalie and by the end of the period the Cyclones were up 1-0. The second flipped the script and the Walleyes were all over and they got the puck into the goal twice. Then they dug in and as much as the Cyclones tried they couldn't get another puck past the goalie. (Boooo!)

Anyway, the crowd was awesome. They were going nuts through the entire third period and they were pretty dang loud through the first two as well. The drunk guy in the next section over from me was upset with me because (a) he had imbibed quite a bit, and (b) I was watching the game instead of spending my time beating on the glass in front of me. He and his buddies were having a blast despite the fact that it was pretty obvious they didn't understand anything about hockey.

Cincinnati's a great sports town. It's a shame they don't have an NHL team and they definitely should have an AHL team, but until that day the Cyclones are a lot of fun and you can buy waffle goetta dogs while you're at the game.

The rare Toledo Walleyed Eagle spots its prey.

You shall not pass!
If you shoot the puck through the ref's legs off the faceoff it's hard for the other team's guy to follow it.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Salem Red Sox: The Comedy of Errors Continues

I left something out about yesterday's post about the zombie apocalypse at the Salem Red Sox's stadium: the reason I got there 10 minutes before the gates opened. You see, I thought I was going to have a hard time getting in. I'd bought two tickets, but I didn't have them. I'd ordered them to mailed to me on THE NINTH OF MARCH:

And, yes, I did take out the part with my credit card info on it. Y'all seem to be perfectly nice folks, but you ain't getting my credit card numbers. Anyway, note at the top that I was so polite in ordering these tickets that I made the order at 4 a.m. so the good folks in Salem would have even that entire day added on to those it needed to send me my tickets.

However, by THE FOURTH OF APRIL, when I left for my trip I had no tickets. None. Nada. Nary a one. That was fine. I would just use the electronic version and let the nice folks at the park scan my phone like they do everywhere else.

Only, when I tried to do that or anything else which would give me access to my tickets the Salem website stopped me cold. So I showed up early to try to fix this before the game started. And, of course, ran into the zombie apocalypse.

I didn't include it in yesterday's post because it would have propped tipped the whining scales a little too far and I wasn't sure they hadn't arrived with me misplacing them and mail can simply go off track some times. So, I bore this terrible burden in silence.

Then, I got to my office today and found two pieces of mail on my desk. One was an advertisement from the Salem Red Sox exhorting me to come to opening night. The other was - you guessed it - my tickets (which came in a will call envelope inside a postal envelope along with random advertisements).

If I'm reading the postmark on that envelope correctly (click on the picture to enlarge), the tickets were mailed from Greensboro(?) on THE THIRD OF APRIL at 4 p.m. and I think the fact there is no zip code in the stamp and it has an "L" means it was designated as local mail. Don't hold me to most of that; the only thing I'm absolutely sure of is that it was mailed on THE THIRD OF APRIL.

By the time that wound its way through the postal service and arrived, I'd already been to watch the Chattanooga Lookouts, maybe the Knoxville Ice Bears, and possibly even the Carolina Thunderbirds.

Ordered on the NINTH OF MARCH and mailed on the THIRD OF APRIL. That's a delay of TWENTY-SIX days.

It's a shame. I had great memories of going to a game in Salem a couple years back. Now, I'm dubious. TWENTY-SIX days to mail the tickets; not that it mattered, the stadium was abandoned when I got there without my tickets. All around fail.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Zombie Apocalypse Hits Salem

The Zombie Apocalypse has hit Salem, Virginia. It's the only explanation. When I pulled up from my FOUR HOUR DRIVE to the Salem Red Sox's stadium the entire place was empty. It has to be the zombie apocalypse because the only other explanation for a stadium this empty is that they called the game off very, very early - probably the day before. The place didn't even have that couple of employees who didn't get their call not to come in (it always happens).

How do I know it was a zombie apocalypse rather than a rain cancelled game? Well, you see, I know they have my cell number. A nice kid calls every year and tries to sell me season tickets, so I know they could have texted. I also know they have my email:

One of three email addresses that send me Red Sox stuff.
A message via text or email would have come if they cancelled the game. It's not like I was an unexpected visitor; I ordered my ticket sometime at the beginning of last month.

So, you see, it has to be the zombie apocalypse. It's the only reasonable explanation.

Spirit Conquers Sky

Nice stadium - It filled up by game time.

The Washington Spirit play in a small stadium in a soccer complex in Germantown, Maryland. It is a decent little place with plenty of parking and enough room for the rather decent size crowd that showed up. Besides the side I have pictured above, it had about half again as many seats on the other side and a lot of people set up camp on a hill behind one of the goals. They also had a row of on the pitch seats although they only sold about half of those. The field being in a depression, it cut off the wind which was a pretty good thing now as it's still cool, but I imagine must be a bear in July.

The Sky Blue (out of New Jersey) were in town for opening night and they were fighting hard the entire way. In fact, for a good portion of the first half they looked dominant. However, when Washington broke through its shots on goal all looked dangerous. One of them (of course while I was changing batteries in my camera) broke through and the Spirit took a 1-0 lead. That held throughout regulation play. Then in extra time Washington broke through again and finished it off 2-0.

It was a fun game to watch and a nice place to watch it at. If you're in the DC area you should go. The NWSL has the best soccer players in the world. Why aren't you there already?

Friday, April 12, 2019

Delmarva Shorebirds - Baseball in a Freezer

Sherman (the mascot) goofing around with the little leaguers.

The first pitch.

I don't know if this guy'll make it to the Major Leagues, but he's got one heckuva fallback career potential as a muppet.

He's out! Caught in a rundown, the Delmarva runner dodged, went past the base, and tried to dive back.

Delmarva's first run.

Out at home. Fly ball. Tag up. Outfielder with a cannon for an arm. Not good news for the Shorebird.

I think the Blue Claws shortstop might be Zoro.

The Delmarva Shorebirds play in Salisbury, Maryland. Delmarva, by the way, is somebody's clever idea for a name for the peninsula which Salisbury's located on. Both Virginia and Maryland call this "the Eastern Shore." Deleware, for reasons that should be blindingly obvious, does not. Hence, DELeware, MARyland, VirginiA = DELMARVA.

I drove here from Norfolk, Virginia and that meant paying Virginia (to whom I already pay taxes) $14 dollars to drive on one of its roads. And yes, I would like some cheese with that whine. Anyway, after crossing the neverending bridge-tunnel system I drove through the two Virginia counties to get to Maryland and finally Salisbury. There's lots of pretty scenery, lots of farmland, and lots of places selling fish. And then you get to Salisbury which is a city of about 30,000 and seems a decent enough place.

The field wasn't hard to find and there was plenty of parking, although they charge $4. The park itself is a fairly generic single A park with a couple interesting things to note. First, as I went up to the second level (where the vast majority of concessions and the souvenir shop are located), I noticed a closed of set of stairs. Apparently, the way into the park used to be this set of stairs but they closed it off and made a walkway through what I'm pretty sure must have been the business offices at one time. On the lower level you can walk all the way around the outfield. Again, this was obviously not there originally. The walkway is a raised wooden one and a couple feet back from the chain link fence so you aren't actually on the wall.

The weather was not cooperative. With an average low of 55 degrees in Salisbury this time of year, the temperature decided to drop to 48 with a stiff breeze. I was wearing a zip up light sweat shirt; I went to the souvenir shop and bought another light sweat shirt to wear over it. Sitting there with two sweat shirts and both of their hoodies pulled up, I looked dumb, but the they stopped most of the wind and by the end of the game the wind had tailed off and I almost felt comfortable.

As for the game itself, mostly it was fun to watch because it was a lot of small ball. Most of the scoring took place on sacrifice flies after runners had been advanced through interesting play. It was also obvious that the players were feeling the cold too - at least in their hands. There were a fair number of fumbles and bad throws that wouldn't have happened in 70 degree weather. Oh, and there was one home run. Doran Turchin tagged one to start the 4th and sent it over left-center as a line drive. Delmarva just kept pushing forward with 2 in the 3rd, 2 in the 4th, and (after the Blue Claws had made a game of it by scoring three in the top of the 6th) 2 in the bottom of the 6th. It was definitely a fun game to watch.

Getting there may be a bit of a bear, but if you're somewhere in the area, I think running by this park to watch a game would be a great idea (especially when it's a little warmer).

Next stop: Bowie Baysox.