July 2009

Stormy Weather

Ok, I’m going to break baseball rule #1 and admit that I love summer storms.  Let me ammend that statement by including that I sincerely prefer them when we’re on the road, and all of the headaches for a front office staff involved with a storm are not felt by me/the Crawdads.

What brought this about is my current situation.  I’m sitting in a very comfortable radio booth in beautiful FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, NJ, watching the BlueClaws staff sprint out and pull the tarp over the field.  When you’re not one of the staff members racing down to pull the tarp, it gives you a moment to reflect on the quiet beauty of a coming storm.

There are few moments I enjoy more than watching a storm blow in.  Seeing the dark clouds roll in from the horizon and increase in size and hue with every passing minute.  Feeling the wind shift and the temperature drop considerably.  Catching the first couple of drops and experiencing that sense of impending inclement weather.  I love it all.  I love to inhale deeply in this moment and for whatever reason feel a wave of relaxation pass over me… as long as we’re on the road.

Now, I don’t necessarily love what comes with storms in the life of baseball.  Lower attendances, rain delays, doubleheaders… storms are baseball’s number one enemy.  So, I’m conflicted.  Do I love them or hate them?  I guess it’s just not that black and white with me (away from L.P. Frans).

There’s just something about watching a storm slowly roll in that I find very peaceful and reflective.  The sights, the sounds, the smells and the feelings all have a very unique effect on me, one that is tough to articulate clearly… almost a cleansing affect.

One thing I can articulate quite clearly is that I sincerely hope we get all our stormy weather in when we’re on the road, when I can enjoy it, when L.P. Frans Stadium stays dry.

The rain’s starting to pick up here and there was just a tornado watch voiced on the radio station they had on for BP.  As is the case with so many enjoyments in life, I’ve had a good time watching this storm come in, now it’s time to deal with the ramifications.  Delay?  Postponement and Doubleheader tomorrow?  Miraculous on-time start?  We’ll have to wait, watch the rain and see.

Andrew Buchbinder is in his first season as director of broadcasting/media relations with the Crawdads.  Previously, he served in similar capacities with the Crawdads affiliate in high-A, the Bakersfield Blaze, as well as the Bakersfield Condors in the ECHL.  

Reflections from The Joe in The Chuck

As I sit here in the radio booth about to start getting ready for the series finale between the ‘Dads and the RiverDogs, I thought I’d take a moment for some reflection on the past three and a half days.

First off, is everything down here abbreviated?  Joseph P. Riley Jr., Park (granted, a mouthfull) is cut down to The Joe, while Charleston is modified to The Chuck.  Not sure it would work quite as well for Hickory… the Hick?  Doesn’t quite have the same trendy ring to it, does it?

Anyway, I’m here at The Joe in The Chuck and it occurred to me how narrow a margin it is between winning and losing.  Baseball is a process.  Long games make up a long season, but still the Crawdads have won themselves into first place with some very good baseball of late.  One could very justifiably make the case that the Crawdads have controlled a good 25 of the 26.5 innings through the first three games of this series against the RiverDogs.  And the results are there, to an extent, with Hickory in a 2-games-to-1 lead in the set and going for the win tonight.

Not to get too greedy, but think about how close the Crawdads were to taking the first three games of this series and already gauranteeing their third series win in the last four sets.  Take away one historically bad bottom of the eighth inning on Monday night, and this series win would be wrapped up for Hickory.  That’s it, one half inning.  One could make the case that it’s just one game… that there are 51 left… that the Crawdads did a great job bouncing back with commanding victories against the two best Charleston starters… and all three statements would be true.

However, think about it this way — what if Charleston wins tonight?  Then Hickory comes away from The Joe in The Chuck with a series split against a team that they are far better than.  Because of one inning, the Crawdads are going for a series win tonight instead of a series sweep.  It might not sound like a huge difference, but, as the ‘Dads Athletic Trainer Jeff Bodenhamer said the other day, I hope it doesnt come down to one game when everything is said and done in September, or more accurately, come down to one inning.

That’s why the statement, ‘every game counts,’ rings just as true, if not more true, than all the others.  That’s why this team bounced back with the determination that it has to lift themselves into first place with two great games.  They know what they let slip away on Monday night, and they know what they have to do the rest of the way. 

Mike Hollander said last week that they have to win every inning to win games and make the playoffs — how correct he was.  Hickory lost one, maybe two innings, in the first three games of this series, and that’s the difference between great and very good.  The ‘Dads expect greatness of themselves and have delivered, in general, to start the second half, and it’s been a whole lot of fun to watch. 

Be sure to tune in and catch the rest of this southern trip on The Big Dawg 92.1 FM and Hickorycrawdads.com, and also be sure to come on down to The Frans in The Hick on Wednesday, July 22 when the ‘Dads are back home, kicking off an eight-game homestand, just trying to win one inning at a time in their pursuit of the playoffs.