Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Opening Week in Kenosha 2016

All photos of 2016 Kingfish opening week available on Flickr.

My wife Megan and I did not renew our Kenosha ticket package this year because of all of our summer commitments this year, but we did still manage to make it down for the 2nd game of the season this past Wednesday.  Skies were threatening throughout the day, but it managed to clear up just before first pitch and the weather was beautiful throughout the game.  We even got there early enough that we were able to procure a Championship Elvis bobblehead, which was the main reason we went to Game 2 instead of the home opener.

I was hoping that along with this Championship bobblehead that the Kingfish would be raising their championship banner from last season, but alas it was just a normal night at the ballpark.  The Kingfish actually seemed to have trouble raising much of anything, as Elvis was unable to be hoisted onto his perch to zipline down with the game ball.  There was actually nothing new at the ballpark that Megan and I noticed, not even a new food, which is certainly atypical of a Big Top Baseball-operated facility.  I went with the Spicy Bacon Philly and Megan had the Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad sandwich, both of which were delicious.  Most people would probably never notice or care about this, but I've always liked that this park sells aluminum pints of Coors Banquet.  In this age of craft beer connoisseurs and large beer sponsorships, I like to enjoy a cold shitty beer at the park once in a while.  I have to say that I was disappointed with the team store's lack of All-Star Game and Championship apparel.  There was one t-shirt of each from what I saw and neither were anything spectacular.  Hopefully by next month when K-Hole hosts the All-star game they will have stepped up their game a little bit.  The logo features the Simmons Field grandstand as a backdrop and will look pretty sweet on hats and shirts.

We sat in the 1st row, one section down from where our 7-pack seats were last year.  The first thing we noticed after we sat down was that one of the guys in the all-you-can-eat pen in front of us had the nerve to bring his laptop to the game.  Smart phones is one thing, but how out of touch with your surroundings do you have to be to physically bring a computer to a ballgame?  However, after I noticed he was using his laptop to check Northwoods League scores and cycle through various NWL live game feeds, and that the others with him were doing the same on their phones, I did some investigative Googling and figured out they were the president and co-founders of the league!  I didn't get a chance to talk to them but many other people stopped down to pester them.  Dick Radatz Jr. in particular seemed very excited about the updated website and where the league was heading.  I was hoping to eavesdrop on some conversations about league expansion, but we were pretty close to the field so I had to pay attention to every pitch, lest I get clocked in the face by a foul ball.  The fact that these guys were in Kenosha instead of the new Rockford franchise for opening week really speaks volumes to what they must think of the viability of that franchise (and Illinois in general).

The Kingfish ended up winning 7-6 in 10 innings.  We stayed through the 9th inning and saw Kenosha blow leads of 3-0 and 6-2 to force extra racks.  Kenosha built their leads largely in part to the 5 errors committed by Lacrosse.  Two of the Kingfish runs scored on passed balls and two were on errors and only two of their seven runs were charged as earned.  The player I was most impressed with was 1B Gunnar McNeil.  With a name like Gunnar you expect a beefcake of a man, and he was - he actually looked kind of like the mean Mets slugger from Rookie of the Year.  He only went 1-5 on the day but every ball he put in play was absolutely crushed, even the foul balls.  His one hit was a laser double out to the opposite alley.  Derek Heffel tossed the final out of the game and picked up a win for his effort.

Megan and I will be returning to Kenosha next month for the Home Run Derby, and I cannot wait.  The team got permission from the league and the city to put this event at the harbor, so contestants will be launching balls out onto the water from shore!  There has been a trend in the minor leagues in recent years to use non-ballpark site and non-traditional formats for these types of events and this will certainly be a one-of-a-kind experience.

Brewers 26-31, -14.5 (4 v. Mets, 3 @ Giants, 4 @ Dodgers)
Reds 21-36, -19.5 (3 v. Athletics, 4 @ Braves, 3 @ Astros
Twins 16-40, -16.0 (3 v. Red Sox, 3 @ Angels, 4 v. Yankees)

Erik - 10 (+8 worked)

Peter - 15

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