Monday, September 10, 2012

Midwest League Playoffs

All photos of MWL West Quarterfinals Game 3 available on Flickr.

I visited Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wisconsin for the first time since 2009 on Friday to take in some playoff ball.  Both Wisconsin teams - the Snappers and the Timber Rattlers - were in the Midwest League playoffs this year, so I knew there was a good chance I would get to go to some game this weekend.  I chose Appleton even though it was further way, because I wanted to see the Brewers' minor league affiliate.  Beloit has since been eliminated, and Wisconsin has advanced to the Midwest League Championship!

I was surprised to find that parking has been jacked up to $5 since I was last there, how ridiculous for A-ball!  What was also ridiculous was the small crowd for this 1st Round elimination game.  Yes, there was a substantial rain delay and it was kind of cold, but still.  I got a seat right in the front row along 3rd base and, aside from my row, it was not very crowded, even despite it being dollar beer & dog night.  Not much has changed at Fox Cities Stadium in the last 3 years.  I suppose it doesn't matter though, because the ballpark is slated to begin construction on a $6 million renovation starting the day after the playoffs end, to be ready for the start of the 2013 season.  So, I'm not going to bother updating the rankings of the ballpark until Erik and I make a return visit next year.  There were renderings of the renovation in the display case in the atrium, and it looks like there will be some nice additions.  Three things that this ballpark lacks - exterior aesthetics, a continuous concourse, and a suite level - will all be addressed with this renovation.  I am hoping that the team store remains in tact for the most part, because I was amazed by the selection of Appleton Foxes retro gear and I am totally wasting a bunch of money on that stuff if they still have it next year.  They just don't design ball team logos and fonts like they used to.

Rain delayed the game by about an hour, but it was well worth the wait.  The T-Rats tossed their 2nd consecutive CG shutout in the 3-0 victory over the Bees.  This win gave Wisconsin a 2-1 series victory over Burlington, and advanced them to the 2nd round against Clinton (whom they recently swept 2-0).  David Goforth was masterful, scattering only 4 hits over his complete game, and striking out 9.  For the most part it looked he was only throwing an average slider and about 93-mph heat, but something in his delivery must have been fooling Bees hitters.  Back-to-back solo jobs by Ben McMahon and Nick Ramirez in the 4th were all the T-Rats would need to secure victory, although they did add an unearned run in the 5th.  There was a really interesting moment in the 5th when DH Cameron Garfield was clearly hit by a pitch on the hand, but the umpires got together and determined it hit the bat.  After 10 minutes of arguing by the manager/3rd base coach, Garfield was not even able to finish the at-bat because he couldn't grip the bat.  So either the T-Rats staged an elaborate injury hoax, or the umps blew a call.  After that calmed down, not too much excitement til the end, when Goforth fanned 5 of the final 6 batters he faced en route to victory.  The team now awaits the winner of the Fort Wayne-Lake County eastern finals.  Go Timber Rattlers!

Brewers 69-71, -14.5, -6.0 WC (3 v. Braves, 3 v. Mets)
Reds 84-57, +8.5 (3 v. Pirates, 3 @ Marlins)
Twins 58-82, -17.5 (3 v. Royals, 3 v. White Sox)

Erik - 29
Peter - 39

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