Sunday, April 15, 2018

Battle of the Birds: Wood Ducks v. Pelicans

Baseball came back to Kinston NC last year. Because you can't name your team after any group unless they are Eurocentric (Vikings, Knights, Irish, etc.), they didn't start back up as the Kinston Indians; they started up as the Down East Wood Ducks. It's a shame because the Indians'  "K" logo is better than the Wood Ducks' logo.

However, the Wood Ducks are clearly all in on the new logo.

The Duck Signal
In any event, The Wood Ducks were facing the the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on this fine day and both sides had some of their top prospects playing, although it was a bit dissappointing that the #2 prospect for the Texas Rangers was only DHing.
For the Wood Ducks, Taveras (#2 Texas prospect) had a not-so-good day at the plate going 1/4 with 2 strike outs and no walks. On the other hand, Tejeda (#27 Texas prospect) had a really solid night at the plate going 2/3, getting a double, scoring once, and getting a walk. The Wood Ducks' pitcher, Matuella (#30 Texas prospect) got shelled. He left the game after 3+ innings and 7 hits, 3 strike outs, 3 walks, and 7 runs.

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans' pitcher, Hudson, didn't do too much better despite being a higher prospect in his organization (#13 Cubs). He left after 5 innings and 5 hits, 4 strike outs, 1 walk, and 3 runs. To be honest, at least on this night a good portion of the difference was the fielding - not the pitching.
Aremis Ademan, the Cubs #1 prospect was at short and his play there was sharp. The Pelicans' fielding was sharper than the Wood Ducks overall and Ademan seemed a step faster than his teammates. At the plate he went 2/5 with one of the hits being a home run (however, do not give too much credit for that - in the 9th inning the Wood Ducks' manager put his 1st baseman in to pitch and Ademan tagged a slop-ball). He scored twice, struck out twice, and batted 1 run in. I make it a pretty good probability that Ademan will be at the Smokies before the end of this year.

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The Wood Ducks' stadium is an old style stadium that has been updated somewhat. If you've gone to a game in the Appalachian league at Burlington, Princeton, or Bluefield you've seen this type of field before. It's a solid field without all the unused bells and whistles that you find at so many modern minor league parks. It also has some of the flaws of the older fields. Don't buy tickets in the reserve section. To be honest, you can see the game better from the cheap seats. They've done the truly bad thing of selling all the seats close to field in the reserved sections to corporate season ticket holders. This is bad in that it makes it look like the game is poorly attended (these type of ticket holders quite often leave their sections empty and most did this day) and it makes people like me who buy what they think are front row tickets (section 6 row A seat 12) not so thrilled. I left my seat before the game even started and went to sit on the grass embankment on the first base side. For those of you with more sense than me who show up early there are tables and standup bars out there which would be even better.


The crowd was 2,500+ and they were into it. Kids were running everywhere. Every foul ball had a pack of feral kids in hot pursuit. The fans were chanting, clapping, and cheering the Wood Ducks on even after the Wood Duck manager had given up on the game and put his 1st baseman in to pitch the 9th inning. Which, BTW, was a pretty crummy thing to do in an early season game that wasn't going anywhere near extra innings in the season's first homestand in front of 2,500+ fans. Even if the manager just wanted to end a runaway game it would seem to make more sense to put in a regular reliever who wouldn't be throwing slop-balls, giving up hits, runs, and extending the game.

In any case, if you are in the Kinston area you should go out and watch a game or two. These old stadiums are vanishing and being replaced with modern mediocrities. And, this is obviously baseball country. The fans love the game and put more passion into rooting for their team than I've seen in the vast majority of minor league teams I've visited.
There may be no crying in baseball, but apparently there's prayer.

And theft.
A catch (click to enlarge)
Can't win'em all.

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