Friday, July 4, 2008

Heather and Mark Do Buffalo: 3rd of July With the Bisons

With special guest star, Mom B!

(I really want to say that I ended up writing much more about the actual game than I intended but I'm going to assume that if you keep coming here you've pretty much realized that long-winded and meandering is the name of the game. Right?)

Mark and I were reminiscing today and one of our first official dates way back in... uh... let's see... 1997, I believe, was a Bisons game. When we moved back to Buffalo we went to the July 3rd game every year for quite a while but somewhere along the way we got out of the habit. We decided it's been a couple of years since we went to a Bisons game which is pretty sad on our part. We love baseball! Well, I love baseball. Mark deals with it once in a while.

We just bought our tickets a few days ago so we were quite a bit down the right field line but it wasn't a bad view of the field at all. Mark complained here and there that he couldn't see the batter very well but honestly, I think it was usually me leaning forward and blocking him.

We missed the top half of the first because we were running late from dinner but we got there just in time to see Todd Linden - who we called Trevor, originally by accident and then on purpose, all night - tie up the game with a solo HR.

Touch 'em all.

The Bisons have probably been wearing the current uniform for five years without me noticing but I'm in love with the primary logo, the standing buffalo over the baseball. It's very simple but I like that about it. For some reason I also had a lot of affection for the buffalo on the fence where the distance markings are. He's pretty cute.

Morgan Ensberg! Holy smokes, what happened to that guy? After I gave up on the Pirates I had an intense two or three year affair with the Houston Astros. They had a nice mix of veterans I already loved - especially Jeff Bagwell (don't even tell me Baggy isn't a first ballot Hall of Famer because I have a prepared speech and I will not hesitate to give it to you) - and younger guys who I also really loved. Lance Berkman (favorite current Major Leaguer) and Roy Oswalt were at the top of the list but Morgan Ensberg was in there too. It really seemed like the team was going to become his and Berkman's after Baggy and Craig Biggio retired. Man. I couldn't get a good picture because my camera didn't like the score board but in his roster photo Morgan even has a "How did I get here?" look about him.

Between innings we got all kinds of little games and races. I didn't get a picture of it but my favorite was probably the dance contest that paired up various mascots with fans just because the Key Bank mascot's costume is designed so that all he can really do is flap his lower arms around. In this game the fan got one lottery ticket for every ball he got in the target in 60 seconds. First of all, lottery tickets? Lamest prize ever. I'm demanding a free hot dog at the very least. Second of all, they stopped him at ten. Come on, that's even more lame. You can't give away twelve tickets instead?

At the top of the fifth we all decided we really needed some ice-cream and then spent TWO INNINGS in line. Geez louise. I don't know if the lines are always like that at Dunn Tire or if it was just because of the crowd - the poor guy in front of us must've spent a fortune just trying to keep his small children from getting too restless before the fireworks started - but it was painfully slow moving.

While we were waiting, Jennie Finch cut through the line right in front of me. Jennie Finch! (For those of you not in the know, Jennie is one of the best women's fastpitch pitchers of all-time. I'd take Lisa Fernandez in her prime first, maybe Cat Osterman second, but Jennie would probably be third.) Her husband plays for Rochester which I didn't even realize. (I knew he pitched but didn't know where.) I might have gone after her and asked her for a picture but she seemed to be by herself and she had her son with her. I hated to ask, "Could you please put down your small child and take a picture with me, a perfect stranger?" (Her kid's name is Ace. And it's not a nickname. I get that mom and dad are both pitchers but come on. Cheesy.) We missed a great diving catch in left field but I did manage to catch it on the TVs over the ice-cream stand.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Katebits sighting! I just happened to look over where the BPO was setting up and there she was! Look at her just surveying her people! I'm pretty sure that Kate went and got the HR ball that Matt Macri hit to put Rochester up, 5-2. Careful, Kate! Someone is always watching :P

We got a big kick out of these people who we noticed late in the game. Hey, why buy a ticket when you can sit on the side of the highway for free? By the time the fireworks actually started there was quite a little group of people over there.

In the 8th inning, things were not looking good for our Buffalo Bisons. One runner got held at third when I think he probably could've scored. Another batter fouls out to the left fielder who then throws out the runner on third who tagged on the play. The rally, it is killed. In the top of the ninth, catcher Chris Gimenez makes a bad throw and Rochester takes a 6-2 lead.

(Side note: Earlier in the game when Mark noted that Gimenez had a horrible batting average but hadn't had too many at-bats yet I gave him a brief lecture on Gimenez and how he'd just been called up from the Eastern League because he was hitting so well whereas the Bisons catcher, who was sent down to AA, wasn't and how since the switch was made the former Bisons catcher has been hitting really well and Gimenez has been a train wreck. He looked at me, slightly stunned and said, "... I had no idea you actually followed these guys." I don't, I just read and retain well. Thanks, Mike Harrington for making me look super smart!)

Anyway, things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth when the Bisons managed to load the bases with no outs. Their offense had not been inspiring tonight - or most of the season judging by some of the stats on the big board - but maybe it's a night of miracles. (Mark said, "I see this game ending in true Buffalo fashion - a triple play." Cynic!) At this point there were suddenly beach balls all over the stands and therefore all over the field. I can only assume they came from the Bisons since there were so many of them but dude, what the heck? It's the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded. I'm trying to watch a game here!

Bases loaded, no outs. Dare we hope?

Lots of stuff happens - look, I didn't take notes, okay? - and the Bisons tie up the game. Mark and I both think they should have won but the third base coach holds up a runner we thought probably would've scored. I guess I can see why he did that. I think there was still only one out at the time so it wasn't necessary to take the chance. (I still clearly remember Bobby Bonilla making the first out of a big inning in the playoffs at third base and I was pretty grumpy about that because instead of a runner on second with no outs, we had no runners on and one out. From second, he would've scored on the next hit and instead we got no runs that inning. I really think the Pirates tried to kill me on more than one occasion. They were good practice for the Sabres.)

The crowd that was just pumped up and into the game began to get restless as we realized this might take a while. Innings ten, eleven, and twelve pass and everyone kept looking at the clock. One of the girls in the very loud obnoxious group behind us threatened to leave at 11 no matter what and I said a small prayer that she would. These girls were mildly amusing at first - when one of the pitchers was called on a balk, one of them said, "Like a chicken?" and they had a half inning discussion on whether we were sitting in right field or left field. When I learned that one of them has a pink and white Sabres jersey and one of them has a Derek Roy jersey I became more concerned. These are not my people. (I love Derek Roy but he does not seem to attract the brightest fans in the world.) By the time the fireworks started I was pretty close to punching them all in the nose and I'm not a confrontational person. Trying to rush the BPO through a Jungle Book medley and loudly complaining about how long everything is taking and how late it is is one thing but trying to rush them through the Armed Forces tribute is sad. Shut your yap and let the rest of us enjoy the show or you know, leave. I don't think the Bisons locked the doors behind us. Ugh. Hated those girls so much. The small children in front of us were better behaved.

Mark and I were really into the game for the most part but even we were getting a little winded.

Getting... very... sleepy...

Some Rochester guy hit a homerun in the top of the 13th and I admit it, there were quite a few cheers around me. Bring on the BPO and the fireworks!

Before the show started we got a little video recap of some of the past year's events and a tribute to Jimmy Griffith and Tim Russert. The BPO also played O Danny Boy for them. My favorite part of the video was the crowd booing the image of the New England Patriots with 18-0 and then immediately cheering at the next image: the New England Patriots with 18-1. The Stanley Cup hoisting Red Wings got some hearty boos as well while the Ice Bowl and Ryan Miller got a big cheer.

We got a couple of medleys from the BPO including a Star Wars medley. That's what I'm talking about. There were characters on the field and it's kind of cheesy and not very easy to see with the dimmed lights but dude... Star Wars! Even when it's cheesy it's awesome.

After a couple of medleys, we got to my favorite part of the show. I love the Armed Forces tribute where they play all the branches' theme songs and have people in the crowd who served in those branches stand. I always get choked up seeing the older gentlemen stand as straight and proud as they can when their songs start. As each song played, a few soldiers from that branch marched across the field toward a large American flag near the pitcher's mound.

The guy next to me got his hand in my way but since he was standing up as an Air Force vet, I think we can let it slide.

And then Stars and Stripes and the fireworks. The fireworks were lovely as always, far lovelier than the picture below suggests. My batteries were dying by this point so I only got a couple of shots. This, sadly, is the best one.

Just before midnight, the show finally ends. Fittingly, Lady Liberty guides us back to our car (sadly, those pictures were terrible too), another night in Buffalo (finally) over.

Happy Fourth of July!

Mark and his mom wish you a happy 4th!


karen said...

Does Katebits know about the sighting, or will it be a surprise?

LeeAndrew said...

Stuff happened? I want details! Did Jordan Brown tie the game? Did Adam Miller or Jensen Lewis pitch?

FYI: Morgans Ensberg got demoted back in 2006 when the Astros acquired Aubrey Huff. Huff left in 2007 but the Astros got Ty Wigginton to play third. Wiggy had a pretty good season last year but not so much this year. Meanwhile, Ensberg was traded to San Diego, they didn't re-sign him, he signed with the Yankees, was released in June and just signed with the Indians about two weeks ago. The Indians aren't playing well so maybe he'll get called up. Although the Indians have 2 great third basemen prospects they might want to call up instead.

Wait a minute! Derek Roy fans aren't very bright? You said you thought I would be a Derek Roy fan!

LeeAndrew said...

Oh yeah and since you mentioned Berkman, ESPN surveyed 32 experts who SHOULD start the All-Star game and 27 voted for Berkman. Really it should be unanimous because he's been that good, but apparently everybody is still in love with that Pujols guy so he got some votes.

And Jennie third all-time? I don't know. I guess maybe at one time but I'd take Lisa, Cat, Abbott, Jennie Ritter and Alicia Hollowell now. I'd probably add Megan Gibson and Angela Tincher soon too.

This is fun, you should talk about baseball more. Go D-Rays! And Mets I guess...

LeeAndrew said...

Ooops, one more FYI. Lance Berkman actually IS leading in the All-star voting by 8,000 votes over Pujols. The fans are actually voting for people that should be starting. Who knew?

Kate said...

Hee! A me sighting! (I totally caught that homerun ball by the way. Well, I didn't catch it. I picked it up off the ground as it rolled gently to my feet.)

Heather B. said...

Karen, the Katebits sighting was a surprise to her. When the sides were changing I stood up and waved and yelled but she was totally ignoring me :P

Lee, if you're really desperate to know who did what last night, I'll point you to the live blog at Inside Pitch. They pretty much covered it.

I knew Ensberg had left the Astros and moved on to San Diego and then New York but that was the last I'd heard. I really had no idea he was in Buffalo until last night. Also, I've voted for Berkman 4,000 times so that accounts for part of his lead over Pujols. (Kidding. I did vote for him a few times though.)

And I will bow to your knowledge on pitchers. I thought about throwing Abbot in there but I'm not as familiar with Hollowell and some of the younger girls you mentioned.

Derek Roy is a puckbunny favorite and in my experience, he tends to draw the worst of the lot. Jason Pominville's puckbunnies seem to be mostly sweet. Derek's are not. (And yes, that's a total generalization. If you're a sweet Roy-Z puckbunny, I apologize.) Anyway, I was assuming you wouldn't be cheering for Derek because he's cute so you're probably safe.

Kate, I'm pretty sure I saw you dive right off that stage and snag the HR ball in mid-air. It was amazing! :-D

S.A.M. said...

awww I was there too! We were way out in left field (starting all those let's go buffalo chants and the wave) The game was actually more fun than baseball usually is for me. I want to go to another game!

Oh and it's my fault the Bisons lost. See, in the 9th, I was remembering just how darn cool it was when the Sabres had that comeback against TB and scored 6 goals in the 3rd when I was there. (you were too, as I recall, what is it with us and late-game rallies?) and so in baseball fashion, I busted meself a rally cap- my Sabres hat of course, inside out and backwards. They started scoring. So I kept it that way. Then I turned it sideways when they were defending just to be cool. BUT, in the 13th inning, I ran to the restroom. I turned my hat back cuz the embroidery was itchy- and Rochester scored! Oooops. I thought maybe I should write the fellas a letter of apology for ruining it. ;)

Sadly, since I went to the game with my sister, brother-in-law and their kids- we were there with a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old, (as well as the two older kids, who were fine) we did not stay for the fireworks. We caught a few of the songs, then hit the road during the jungle book medly because my 4 yr old nephew was too tired to exist. I really wanted to hear the Star Wars medly too!

I'm a bit sad about missing the fireworks, and the military salute. We went 2 years ago and it was just really great. With a sister in the Army (on her 2nd tour of Iraq right now) and one just commissioned in the Air Force, it hits pretty hard and is very moving.

Anyway, Cool recap of all the goings-on!

S.A.M. said...


Is a Derek Roy fan (even has a jersey) but is NOT a puckbunny.

I knew you weren't talking about me but I had to stand up for the decent Royzie fans out there. I must say he brings out my squee-ing side a little though. ;)

Heather B. said...

Oh, so that was you trying to start the wave. I hate the wave! :P But I did appreciate the "Let's go Buff-a-lo!" chants so thanks for that!

There was a little guy in front of us, probably 6 or so who tried mightily to make it through the whole show but he eventually conked out in his dad's lap. He did wake up for part of the fireworks though. It definitely made for a long night. I was exhausted when we got home and I don't have an early bed-time.

And Sam, I would NEVER accuse you of being a puckbunny. I know there are people out there who appreciate Roy-Z for his game - I do - but ugh, there are plenty who don't. (I will say for the record, he is the one puckbunny favorite who I do think is really very cute.)

S.A.M. said...

I dont you don't think I'm a puckbunny, but like I said, I had to stand up for the decent Royzie fans, I know we're out there! (just outnumbered by the skanks. heh)

ANd it was more my nephew and the kids behind us trying to do the wave. I think of the wave as a perfectly acceptable baseball tradition, but not so much for hockey. I remember at a Cincinnati Reds game back in like 92 or something, we had the wave go all around the stadium 7 times.

S.A.M. said...

er that should say "I know you don't think"

the window reset in the middle of my typing that and it got all weird.