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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

When to go to an Appalachian League Game

The Appalachian League starts up this Friday and I've combed through the goodies list to see when you should go to have a unique experience and/or get swag. The list doesn't include all the days that each and every park seems to clone like military appreciation days or Christmases in July or cheapie food nights. The most likely to draw me have been highlighted in yellow. I've also included a grade for each team beside the team's name which is completely subjective and colored by which of these events which actually draw me to the park. However, you must understand that this is not a comment upon which teams I think are most worth going to see. If this year tracks like previous ones, I will go to see more games at Kingsport, Bristol, and Elizabethton - at least two of which got poor grades.

The Elizabethton Twins (B)

09 July - Free Admission and a cow milking competition between the teams
      Free admission and a cow milking competition. It doesn't get any better than this. Last year, this
     was the most unique and fun event I saw in the 50 games I went to.
20 July - Moonwalk to the ticket booth and get a ticket for $1
09 August - Elvis Night

Bristol Pirates  (D-)

29 July -  Scouts get to camp out overnight in the outfield
01 August - Free Admission for Police/Firemen/EMT's

Johnson City Cardinals  (A-)

09 July - Wagon Wheels night - They will wear shirts having a wagon wheel logo
06 August - Alex Reyes Bobblehead
21 August - Golf Night?
25 August - "Bro Tanks" night (more colloquially known as "wife beaters")
26 August - Scouts camp at the ballpark

Greeneville Astros  (A-)

25 June - Replica 2015 Championship Banner giveaway
16 July - Free Umbrella & baseball clinic for kids
23 July - Cesar Cedeno bobblehead
06 August - Replica 2015 Championship ring giveaway & beer festival (extra money to enter)

 Kingsport Mets (C-)  (D)

05 August - Darryl Strawberry bobblehead

Bluefield Blue Jays  (F-)

NOTHING - NADA - Not a single promotion listed

Princeton Rays  (B+)

30 June - 20th Anniversary Pennant
08 July - Travel mug giveaway
16 July - Throwback t-shirt giveaway
28 July - T-shirt giveaway
09 August - Baseball cap giveaway
19 August - Backpack giveaway

Pulaski Yankees  (D-)

17 July - Superhero Cape first 100 kids
04 August - Beer Mug first 100 guys
05 August - Margaretta glass first 100 women

Danville Braves  (C)

15 July - T-shirt giveaway
22 July - Foam tomahawk giveaway
19 August - Cooler Bag giveaway

Burlington Royals  (C)

23 June - T-shirt giveaway (opening day)
25 June - T-shirt giveaway
Every Home Game Tuesday - T-shirt giveaway
13 August - Rally Towel giveaway

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Columbia Fireflies

The Fireflies were the Savanah Sand Gnats prior to this year. When Savanah didn't give in to the "build us a new stadium or we'll move" blackmail, the owner moved them.They got a shiny, nice new stadium in Columbia South Carolina (where the insane asylum used to be with a weird mudpit in front of it).  Savanah got to keep its integrity. I got to make a trip to Columbia to watch the Fireflies' first rain shortened game.

The Fireflies were playing the Kannapolis Intimidators, which certainly made for a colorful on field presence. Kannapolis wore a bright red uniform while Columbia wore an almost neon yellow. I admit it, I bought a Columbia jersey. I bought it for two reasons. First, in an era of gawdawfulstupid team names choosing a decent mascot should be rewarded. Second, if I ever have to walk down a dark road at night I won't need an emergency vest. I'll just throw on the Fireflies jersey.

The stadium had a nice edifice on the outside and inside it was a basic single level stadium that was shiny and new, but didn't have much that distinguished it from any other stadium. Of course, it had an upper level with the ubiquitous luxury boxes which every team demands be built into their stadium anymore. There was a fairly decent size crowd, although the stadium was not anywhere near being in danger of a sellout. The crowd seemed pleasant enough, but they seemed kind of reserved and I think maybe they were still getting used to the concept of having a minor league team in their midst.

As for the game itself, it was certainly the most colorful game I think I've seen. And, it was actually a good game to watch. The Fireflies small balled a run across in the first. With the help of a passed ball the Intimidators got a man in scoring position in the
third and got him across the plate.  The Fireflies answered with two doubles in the bottom of the same inning to go back ahead by one. In the fourth inning, Kannapolis got a man on second via a stolen base and then got him home on a single to left, tying the game. In the sixth Kannapolis came out swinging and got three on a homer
before the Fireflies even got a single man out. In the bottom of the same inning, the Fireflies got a run with a single, error, and sacrifice. In the seventh the Fireflies shaved another run off on the strength of a double and two errors by the Intimidators.

So, with one of the most interesting games I've watched this year still in question, what happens?

Yep, sheets of rain. The video doesn't do it justice and misses the lightning as well. They waited a while, obviously hoping to get the game started again, but when the water started forming small lakes on the field they gave up and called it.

All-in-all, a decent stadium, a laudable choice in team name and logo, and an enjoyable experience. Go watch the Fireflies glow (in broad daylight) if you are in the Columbia area.