Here we are on another baseball adventure. This time in lovely Lake Elsinore!
I was inspired to make the hour long drive due to the regular comments from Darren Smith on my evening commutes. Darren seemed impressed by the July 4th program, and I decided to check it out, and I dragged my girlfriend (and child saving heroine from our last adventure) out with me to the park.
So after a day, already jam packed with Transformers in IMAX 3D, and breakfast with the Parents... we set out on our journey up the I-15.
This was my first Minor League Baseball experience since watching the San Bernadino Spirit as a kid. (The Spirit became the Stampede, then the 66ers. Which is the extent of my research for this FanPost). My grandfather used to take me to the games. All I remember is being amazed at how white the Spirit's uniforms were, and how white the ball looked in the lights. I swear that ballpark must have sucked an incredible amount of power into their lights. It was worse than grocery store florescent bulbs.
The Diamond in Lake Elsinore was a very accurate description. It felt like the small intimate ballpark experience people probably got to experience often in the early days of baseball. For tickets priced at $8, $9, & $10 bucks its a bargain. They had very reasonably priced food and beer, and shirts.
I was excited to see Raymond Fuentes (another guy acquired in the Adrian deal), John Hagarty (a decent catching prospect), and Aaron Harang in his rehab start.
Thunder, the green mascot dog of the storm, was really quite the performer. Totally made the Friar look like a tool in comparison. He was thoroughly entertaining without going "over the top". Though the pre-game star of the night was young 8 year old Sam Santiago who belted out the National Anthem better than I had heard it in some time. He will be on American Idol Season 18 no problem. Kid has talent. Overall it was a very fun pre-game lead up.
The game itself was very fun to watch... except that I think I am spoiled with the seats that all face home plate. If all the action happened in Left Field I would have been golden, but my neck started to ache almost immediately.
Player Notes: Despite what some have said, I felt like Aaron Harang did well. He stuck out the side in the second inning, and had 7 Ks through 4. When he was touched up for 3 runs in the third inning it was primarily due to defense and bad luck. I missed the first single while in the restroom, but the our High A SS (Juedy Valdez) seemed very slow, without good instincts to the ball. I was surprised to learn that he is actually on our 40 Man Roster.
More Player Notes: Our High A Catcher, Hagarty, plays with a lot of confidence. He obviously has some work to do defensively, but he seems to have a good sense of the strikezone (he walked twice), and never took ugly swings.
Even More Player Notes: Raymond Fuentes seemed, blah, to me. He got a couple hits, but just didn't seem to play with a lot of fire. Hagarty and Freimann seemed to play with much more fire and confidence. Fuentes seemed to just be going through the motions...
Even, EVEN more Player Notes: I like Nathan Freiman. He is 24 and in High A, so I am sure he is not considered a prospect, but he is part Ogre (6'7'' listed at 225), and crushed a ball off the back wall for a double. Plus he had some sort of Flogging Molly sounding theme song which I would never chose to listen to on my own, but really seemed to pump me up every time he came to bat. Pumped up theme song + Part Ogre coming to bat = good times at the ball park. When the Storm were mounting a comeback (that ultimately fell short) it was a good moment.
Last Player Note: Danny Payne and Wande Olabisi were both fun to watch as well. Danny because he is about the size of David Eckstein, let his player photo looks like he is some sort of knife fighter gypsy from the movie Snatch. He was also an obvious fan favorite. Wande seemed really fast, stole a base, and made some good defensive plays.
When the game was over, the fireworks show was very solid, but not amazing. It also lost points for being way over the Left Field wall. Sitting in Left Field meant that we had to move to see the fireworks.
The lowpoint of the night was spending 45 minutes in poorly controlled parking lot trying to escape. The Storm need to invest in some better signage and more traffic controllers.
Overall? FUN NIGHT! Good baseball! Very happy to see our farm system up close! You should check the Storm out sometime!