With the Travelers – Day Two

Nick Adenhart started last night’s game for Arkansas. He is the Angels’ top pitching prospect.

The Travs won 6-3 last night. Second baseman Adam Morrissey led off the bottom of the first with a homer to give Arkansas the lead.

It was Morrissey’s birthday, so his teammates played a prank on the Aussie by having the P.A. play "I Touch Myself" by the Australian group The Divinyls. The P.A. also said he shares a birthday with Ernie Dingo, an Australian television personality. Since Dingo’s actual birthday is July 31, I’m guessing this was some sort of in-joke.

Click Here to watch Morrissey’s homer along with his reaction to the prank. I also filmed his post-game interview by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sportswriter Todd Traub, which you’ll also see.

Click Here to watch Michael Collins’ triple later in the game. The relay throw went into the Wichita dugout, so Collins scored.

Both video clips require Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection (cable modem, DSL) to watch.

Last night was a larger crowd than Thursday. Behind the outfield is a street and then a berm that protects the north bank of the Arkansas River from flooding. Along that berm last night was a concert called Edgefest, which began at 2 PM and was scheduled to end at 11 PM. At times the concert music overwhelmed casual conversation in the ballpark, but once the game started it seemed like maybe they toned it down a bit.

Every town’s fans are unique. I’ve always enjoyed the Travs fans because, for the most part, they’re into the game. They’re passionate, they pay attention, and they have good fun heckling the other team. Because they’re a Cardinals market, I suspect these fans were raised on the style of baseball played by the 1980s St. Louis Cardinals, which were very similar to today’s Angels — no "big bats" throughout the lineup, more of a run ‘n gun style with strong pitching and a solid bullpen. These fans enjoy the running game, little ball, and in particular hustle.

One aspect of the move from Ray Winder Field is that Dickey-Stephens Park seems to attract more casual fans. I’ve heard a few hardcore baseball fans lament the dilution of Travs fandom, but it helps to pay the bills. The stadium was built with an Italian restaurant, several patios for private parties, and a wide concourse that allows customers to mill about watching the game. At Ray Winder, the concourse was below the stands. Those who designed this park were visionary, because they foresaw it not just as a minor league stadium but also a social destination. (One person last night compared it to a "singles bar," because of all the socializing on the concourse.) That will draw more people, and keep the operation financially healthy.

Speaking of singles bars … I’m staying at the visiting team hotel. Next door, just a short walk across the parking lot, is a *******. It’s a kick looking out my window at the Wichita players attracted to ******* like moths to a flame. Yesterday morning, it was only 10 AM but several of them were already sitting outside ******* waiting for it to open. One local told me it’s not unusual to see visiting ballplayers leave tickets at the ballpark for ******* Girls. Ain’t biology grand.

Yesterday morning I toured the Clinton Presidential Center, which includes the presidential library (museum) and a school for public service. It’s an incredibly impressive museum. As billed, it’s the first presidential library of the 21st Century with plenty of multimedia and interactive exhibits.

Living in Orange County, I’ve been to the Nixon Library many times, so it was interesting to compare styles. One theme common to all presidential libraries is that they tend to put a favorable twist on the president’s administration. Both Nixon and Clinton had their scandals. The Nixon Library dealt with Watergate by building a long narrow hall with a timeline that implied the Kennedy family was somehow responsible for Nixon’s disgrace. The Clinton affair has one small exhibit that places blame on rancorous Republican partisan politics.

In any case, both facilities are impressive and dignified, but clearly the Clinton museum (built years later) is much larger and detailed. The message of open and participative politics is emphasized throughout. For example, in one room you can open a row of binders and see the daily presidential itinerary for each day of Clinton’s administration. The Nixon museum really doesn’t have anything like that.

The School of Public Service is an old railroad station. Just to the north of the museum is a rusting abandoned railroad bridge. The old right-of-way is now a sidewalk in front of the museum. Follow that sidewalk to the south and it runs right behind the School. Pretty neat someone thought to preserve the right-of-way and the train station in such a clever way.

Finally … I’m tentatively scheduled to work a few innings on the radio tonight during Game #2 of tonight’s doubleheader. I figure I’ll be on the air somewhere around 8 PM PDT. You can listen to the Travs webcast through the MiLB.com Multimedia Gameday Audio page.


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