Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rattler Riddle

How can the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers claw their way back when they don't even have hands, or paws, or whatever?  Yet that is what the team did against the Beloit Snappers, hosting on Independence Day the 31st game of their 30th Season.

Not that the home team didn't put up a fight.  The mascot may be named Snappy but the team could be called "scrappy."

Early on, the Snappers looked dominant.  Jairo Perez (below) homered in the first to make it 4-0 early.  "Boom, boom, boom!  Now let me hear you say Jairo!  JAI-RO!"  I was inspired by a YouTube clip we saw at some other stadium on the trip, but confess I chanted alone.  It was a small crowd for a holiday day-game.  Perhaps the humid, near 90° weather put everyone to sleep.

Later that day, Perez was named Midwest League player of the week, having gone 14-for-26 (.538) with three doubles and a couple home runs over the previous seven days.  A native of Venezuela, he probably won't find it too hot in Fort Myers, where I predict he will be playing with the High-A Miracle before the summer is over.

After three innings it was 6-1, Snappers.  But the Rattlers scored one in the fourth, another in the sixth, three in the seventh and a pair in the ninth in a 20-hit assault.  Chelydra serpentina is a fighter, however, and the home team added a run in the sixth and ninth innings, the latter to tie the game.  Wisconsin won the game in the 11th inning, 11-8, but I missed that rally because I was too busy talking with a guy who was on baseball road-trip of his own.
Box Score

Chris described himself as a Navy pilot, posted to Naval Air Station Jacksonville after a stint in "the war."  (Aren't there several?)  He recalled driving from Seattle to Jacksonville, watching a game every night, when he first returned stateside, not unlike Melvin's and my 2009 trip.

Chris was on day four of what seemed an inefficiently laid-out trip.  He started with a Chicagoland double-header, like Melvin and I enjoyed the day before.  Coincidentally, he was in Davenport the night we were, and had great pictures of mayfly madness.  Sunday, Peoria; today, Beloit; a South Bend/Fort Wayne doubleheader was planned for Tuesday.  White Sox on Wednesday.  Then up to Appleton, Wisconsin for a Timber Rattlers day game to be followed immediately by a trip down to Clinton, Iowa, to see the Lumberkings.  Insane.  Lugnuts, Whitecaps, Brewers and Loons rounded-out the last four days.  Chris confessed he had already driven 1,200 miles.

When we were in Clinton and Burlington, Iowa, Melvin compared those stadiums to Pohlman Field, in Beloit.  I'm sorry to say that Pohlman is the least of the three.  Alliant Energy Field in Clinton, formerly Riverview Stadium, was built in 1937 and has a charming old-timey feeling.  Burlington's Community Field is ten years younger, only 64 years old, but was substantially renovated in 2004.

What makes the considerably newer (1982) Pohlman Field less attractive is the features that separate the fans from the action.  The screen not only wraps around home plate but is claustro- phobically attached to the grandstand roof.  Worse, there is a (dry) moat between the seats from the field.

The Snappers should follow the example of other small stadiums and do more with the outside concourse.  The stadium is set in a public park and already has a nice feel.  The Firehouse Grill looks like a cabin.  If ownership was to build more structures in that style—many of the concessions are currently in the open or under tarps—and plant more trees and shrubs, the ballpark could have a unique back-woods atmosphere that would feel real homey.

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