Well friends, countrymen and baseball fans Padre Steve was able to take in one last ball game in Mudville aka Stockton California before flying back tomorrow to the home of the Navy and site of the first landing by English Colonists in the New World, Norfolk and Virginia Beach Virginia. While I look forward to coming home and being with my wife Judy, the Abbess of the Abbey Normal, I shall miss the lack of humidity here in the “Big Valley” aka the Central Valley of California.
The weather has heated up to the kind of weather that I remember growing up with, 100 degrees plus but low humidity which if you ask me makes all the difference in the world. Even though I have adapted to the mugginess of the East Coast and Mid Atlantic region I am always amazed when I can sit comfortably through a day game with temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s without much effort other than adding copious amounts of 50 weight Banana Boat sun screen to my fragile Northern European genetically engineered skin.
Today I attended the second game of the Stockton Ports series against the Bakersfield Blaze with my old high school classmate and US Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, retired Tony Melendez. It was great to see the game with Tony sharing what was happening in our lives and talking baseball while enjoying Tecate beer and an Alpine Hot Dog. The game was interesting because it was an 1105 AM start, early by my books but with the heat of the Central Valley not a bad idea as the temperatures only get hotter until about 5 PM when they begin to cool down. The game was the first Ports game ever televised on the Major League Baseball Network and Comcast Sports Hometown.
In preparation for the game I wore my Norfolk Tides road jersey and the orange and black hat which has been worn interchangeably at home and on the road this season. Additionally I made pilgrimage to Wally World to get some poster board and black and orange Sharpies to make a double sided sign with one side saying “Padre Steve’s Road Trip….Go Tides!” and the other “Steve Loves Judy” only with a heart in it. I think that I got on TV at the 7th inning stretch so if anyone saw it let me know. Since I was the only person in the park with a sign I figured that I should get on at least once.
The game was much more of a hitters show today than the pitcher’s duel of the preceding night and was error free. The Ports had 8 runs on 9 hits with no errors leaving 3 men on base. The Blaze, the affiliate of the Texas Rangers in the California League had 6 runs on 10 hits and no errors leaving 8 runners stranded. Lance Sewell (2-0 3.12 ERA) pitching 2.1 innings of perfect relief got the win for the Ports and Paul Smyth, (3-2 1.80 ERA) got his 11th save of the campaign. Kennil Gomez (2-6 6.24 ERA) got the loss for the Blaze.
The Blaze led early scoring 2 in the 2nd inning and 1 in the 3rd inning but the Ports scored 4 in the 4th to take the lead. The Blaze would take the lead again in the 6th inning but surrendered it in the 7th when Ports shortstop Grant Green pounded a two run shot while Jeremy Barfield added a solo blast in the 8th inning.
The hitting was driven by the long ball with each team having three apiece the difference that the Blaze homers were single shots with no runners on base and two of the Ports homers came with men on base, one a three run homer by David Thomas with 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the 4th inning.
After the game I met Pat Filiponne the President and General Manager of the Ports through Tony. Pat knows the Tides Owner Ken Young and General Manager Dave Rosenfield and is also the owner and President of the Del Marva Shorebirds in the Orioles organization. I was able to take in a light dinner at Arroyo’s Café, a Stockton fixture and tradition for many years and enjoyed some really excellent California Mexican Food. It was interesting to listen to the men at the bar talking about the state of the city, state and country. If they are any barometer there is a lot of discontent in the country and anger at politicians of all stripes as well as the corporations they feel they are in cahoots with.
Tomorrow I head home the road trip to help my mother and brother following the death of my father and to honor his memory. When I get back I still have some leave and the Tides who won in Charlotte this evening defeating the Knights by a score of 12 to 3 will return home to Harbor Park on Thursday to play three at home against their southern division rival Knights and I expect to be there. So see you there.