Saturday, May 27, 2006

Now Young Faces Grow Old, and Sad

Went to a Durham Bulls game last night. One of our favorite family things to do. Cheap, great seats (if you get season tickets, or even one of the modified ticket packages).

You get cheesy little things, giveaways, if you do buy one of the ticket packages. We have the "Hit Bull, Win Steak" ticket package (See seventh bullet point here). So, for May 26, you got a coupon for a free autographed baseball.

We get there, and the poor people at the "Fan Assistance Center" are looking harried. We walk up to present our coupon to get our baseball, and they say, "We'll stamp it, and you can use it later."

Turns out that the "autograph" on the baseball they were GOING to give away was from (wait for it, I bet you can guess!) Delmon Young.

Now, Mr. Delmon Young is the younger brother of that oversized Treasure Troll*, Detroit's Dmitri Young and that would be some claim to fame already.
(a real Treasure Troll, for comparison)

But my man Delmon is also serving the baseball equivalent of house arrest for two months for throwing a bat at an umpire. And the bat hit the umpire, as you can see in an already famous video. I've never seen anything like that. Spitting on the ump is kind of gross, and bumping him is bad...but to throw a bat? And HIT the ump?

Discretion, better part of valor, and all that, for the Bulls. So, no baseballs, even though they had all the baseballs ready. They just didn't want to give them out.

My questions:
1. Why give out baseballs, anyway? You can THROW them. Having hundreds of kids in the stands with baseballs is not such a great idea. It's not "disco demolition night," but it's close. (oh, HELL no, you did NOT skip over that link. Go back and also look at DDN 25th anniversary. Outstanding baseball history. Don't be a putz; click it).

2. Why not give out THESE baseballs, anyway? Instead of making the ticket-holders mad, give out the Delmon Young-signed balls, with maybe a little toy ankle-bracelet GPS transmitter. Clearly a collectors' item, soon, when Delmon Young goes on to complete the trifecta of (a) hit ump with bat, (b) get caught with cocaine, and (c) use Mark McGuire-style steroids. People would be trying to buy these balls on Ebay, within just a few years.

Of course, there was also a game. A couple of monsoon delays, so we left early. But there was this kid, Edwin Jackson, a top prospect, who started for the Bulls. He was throwing 92-94, with a nice curve. Several Braves got the jelly leg and then had to go sit down for a while.

My son asked me a plausible question: "Given how weak the Devil Rays [Bulls are DR AAA farm club) are at pitching, how can this guy be down here?"

The answer quickly became apparent. Strikeout, groundout.....5 pitch walk, 6 pitch walk. Then a single, which scores a run. Infielders are kicking at the dirt, bored. Back on their heels. They get out of the inning, but the kid throw 24 pitches in the first inning. A lot of them were fast. Not that many of them were strikes.

My son (14): "How can a professional pitcher be that wild?" It's hard to say. There is some mental difference between the guys that have control, and those who don't. But EVERYBODY loses it sometime. That pitching thing: It's tough.

(*FOOTNOTE: I got the Treasure Troll bit from Boondocks. McGruder made the crack about the mug shot of James Brown. And....that's right. Of course, Nick Nolte has some pretty good Treasure Troll action going, his own self.)