The Latest Video

Friday, September 6, 2019

Lancaster Barnstormers - 1st Visit to the Atlantic League

Click on Picture to Enlarge

Nice Stadium

Out stealing second.

I've been interested in the Atlantic League for a while. After all, they were theoretically bringing a minor league baseball team to Virginia Beach at one time. It didn't happen, but that didn't mean my interest flagged. The Atlantic League is supposed to be the highest level of independent ball out there. I've seen some articles calling them AAA and the American Association AA while other leagues probably hover somewhere between A and Rookie level (the Frontier League seems to be atop that pile, although the Pecos League may be shaping up nicely with the California additions). Additionally, this year the Atlantic League is, at the behest of MLB, experimenting with robo-umps (puff piece here) and changing the distance between the pitcher and the plate. I've previously commented on all this at the beginning of the season:

So, I get to the Lancaster Barnstormers' stadium which has plenty of parking (although some of it was in Outer-Mongolia) and ended up parked quite a way from the stadium. Nice young people in golf carts were shuttling people to the stadium and I caught a ride with them; unfortunately, when I really needed the ride on the way out after the game they were nowhere to be seen. It was also nice that pregame they had people guiding traffic and stopping traffic so people could safely cross roads; it would have been even nicer if they were there after the game as we all walked back to our cars in the pretty dang dark roads and parking areas. Yeesh.

Inside, the stadium was somewhere between what I would expect at a AA and AAA stadium. There were plenty of nice people filling the seats, although they all had funny accents. I think they were all Yankee-Americans. I can't find exact stats on the number of people there, but the Stormers average over 4,000 per game and I think there were quite possibly 2,000+ attending last night (not bad for a Thursday). The people running the stadium were doing plenty of stuff to keep the crowd involved and even had people sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. The Crowd was involved and enthused.

The level of play was clearly better than you see in most minor leagues. The batters had  the ability to direct their hits. The defensemen had the ability to make some really good plays. There were several impressive plays; the best play of the night might have been a short hit to right field which the right fielder scooped up and fired to first for a force out. I think the play was better than I'd expect to see at a AA game. However, there were also a few unforced errors that I wouldn't have expected in a AAA level game. So, it was somewhere in between - probably closer to AAA.

I know the umps are required to say that robo-ump is just awesome, but that home plate ump was the most disengaged ump I think I've ever seen. Robo-ump didn't seem to be slowing the game down terribly, but it was clearly taking the ump out. Instead of getting instant calls you get a pause after the ball crosses the plate while the ump is told what to call and then the ump rather unenthusiatically signals. Basically, it took three beats instead of two. I'm still not a fan of it and it definitely takes some of the skill and fun out of the game, but on a purely functional level, it seems to work; I didn't see any clearly wrong calls.

Moving the pitcher back seems to have been accomplished by moving the rubber back on the mound. I was curious how the league would do this because rebuilding the mound in the middle of the season seemed impractical - especially considering it will have to go back next season. Pitching didn't seem to be affected much by it.

Interestingly, the batters' swings seemed to be much flatter than I've seen lately in affiliated baseball. There was more controlled hitting and placement of hits. I'm not sure if this has something to do with the new pitching position, the relatively higher skill level than I've watched lately, or other factors. In any event, it made the game much funner to watch because there were people on base and something was always going on.

As for the game itself, the Long Island Ducks took the lead in the 1st inning and never relinquished it. Nevertheless, it never felt like the Stormers were out of the game. They kept putting people on base and the Ducks kept getting out of innings by the skin of their teeth. In the bottom of the 9th, the Stormers got two on with no outs before they were finally shut down by the Ducks. In the end the home team fell 2-4.

If you're near Lancaster, go watch a game. The Atlantic League runs longer than any of the other minors, so you've still got a month. And try the veggie burger at the concession stand. It wasn't half bad.

Tonight: the York Revolution.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.