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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Proof that God Loves Baseball

Yesterday, I got in my car at 4:45a.m. and started driving. Almost immediately, the sky opened up and torrents of rain came down. And they kept coming down and kept coming down and kept coming down until about 2:20p.m., 45 minutes before game time, as I was frantically trying to get down Highway 460 in time for the 3:05 start of the Norfolk Tides / Baltimore Orioles game. Then the sun came out, I made it to the game with 20 minutes to spare, and the field conditions when the game kicked off were perfect. Nine innings of pretty solid baseball followed  and exactly five minutes after they ended the sky opened up again and the monster of all storms hit. I'm serious here. I sat in my car for 30 minutes not going anywhere because I couldn't see anything but blurs outside my car (and listening to my phone squawk tornado warnings ever-so-helpfully at me). But the game was perfect.

It was, of course, a warm-up game for both teams as the season doesn't actually start until next week. So, there really wasn't anything on the line, but when the mothership comes down to your AAA home stadium you want to make things as interesting as you can for them and the Tides did.

Amidst a sea of orange wearing fans cheering more for the Orioles than the home team, the Tides looked tight at times while the Orioles looked like an MLB team. The first event of interest was in the 2nd when the Tides pitcher pretty much handled the Orioles batters he faced. That ended when JJ Hardy tattooed a ball for a homer in the 3rd. At first, the pitcher seemed shaken, but the team got the rest of the side out.
Watching it go . . . and reacting. (Click on Picture)
And the Tides didn't just fold up. They put together some impressive base moving small ball (apparently the Orioles have a exploitable gap between center and right field) in the 6th and took a 2-1 lead, which the Orioles tied up in the top of the 7th with their own small ball. Norfolk got another run across in 8th - at least partially because of a balk and the Orioles got one across in the 9th (at which point the announcer told us all that the game would only go 9 innings no matter what).

Overall, the Orioles looked better, but the Tide looked like they belonged on the field with them. It was a good demonstration that while MLB players may be a little sharper than AAA they aren't that far above the guys waiting to take their  places.

Post game, I went to Victory Lanes in Portsmouth and played some duckpin bowling (both easier and harder than the kind of bowling you do). I go there every time I get anywhere near this area and, I'll admit it, it's part of the reason I was here watching the Tides/Orioles instead of taking the shorter drive to Louisville to watch the Bats/Reds.

Then there was about a forty minute nightmare drive to my hotel through flooded streets and six lane highways with worn out lane markers that were under an inch of water and impossible to see because they locals have helpfully put up street lights every 50 feet that reflected of the top of the water. More than once I went up a hill (where there was no water sitting on the road), was finally be able to see the lane lines, and realized I was straddling two lanes. It's also a minor miracle some local (who all seemed obsessed with driving 70mph in bad conditions) did not plow into me. And now I remember why I moved West into the mountains instead of East toward the sea.

Tonight: Going to watch D.C. United. Yeah, I'm gonna try the soccer thing agian. We'll see . . .

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