Why the Majors Can Never Match the Minors
May 4, 2012 in Uncategorized
Yesterday I was touring my usual baseball sites when I saw an interesting tidbit pop up in regards to the San Francisco Giants, Conor Gillaspie will be starting a third base in a Thursday matinee for the Giants! Why the "!" for a guy that has seven career major league hits? Well, Gillaspie was one of the inaugural Richmond Flying Squirrels in 2010 where he excelled in the field and batted .287 with eight home runs and 67 RBI in 132 games with the Squirrels. If you haven't connected the dots by now, I live in Richmond and since 2010 have bought season mini-packs where a couple friends and myself will go to 20 to 25 games a year at the Diamond (one of the dumpiest minor league stadiums in the country).
Simply put, minor league baseball is awesome and it trumps the major league scene any day. No one cares if the team wins or losses rather everyone from ages 3 to 92 is there to have a good time. You have kids there for Nutzy the mascot or guys like me just looking to take a load off and grab a beer after work on a nice 75 degree evening. Yea the beers are still $8 a pop, but they're 32 beautiful ounces rather than 12. Minor league baseball is about fun and you don't leave the park down a couple hundred bucks.
When the Flying Squirrels came to Richmond it was, kind of, looked at as a downgrade because our previous team, the Braves, were AAA and the Squirrels are AA. Both have their ups and downs but I definitely prefer AA. You get to see guys just struggling to make it or get to see top of the line prospects like Bryce Harper, Jesus Montero, Brandon Belt, and others for right around $6. AAA was also pretty cool because you'd get to see a lot of rehab assignments. I had the pleasure of seeing Darryl Strawberry, Deion Sanders, Denny Neagle, Dontrelle Willis, and Bartolo Colon all in Richmond, on rehab, in their prime. But the thrill of seeing a prospect on TV a year or two after seeing them in person is absolutely awesome. You kind of lose your breath for a second before shouting "HEY! I know that guy". I remember sitting at Riley Park on Charles River in Charleston, SC watching the RiverDogs take on the Augusta GreenJackets (awesome name) and watching a young, promising outfielder named Jose Tabata, and look at where he is now.
The other awesome thing about the minors is you have a chance to establish a dialogue with the players. Sure it stems out of some friendly heckling, but a lot of the players enjoy it themselves. In college we used to head about 45 minutes up the roads to catch the class A Lynchburg Hillcats and we'd hold a conversation with the 1st baseman throughout the whole evening. The Hillcats also had "All You Can Eat" night for $10 and as college students we took this as a personal challenge.
I've made a lot of memories at various major and minor league ballparks across the country, but nothing embodies what baseball is all about what the game is all about more than a night at the minor league yard. There is still some sense of innocence in it. It's where my grandpa taught me the game. It's all about fun. Families having fun, the players having fun, and fans like me with my feet up in the air and my 32 ounce Miller Lite just talking baseball and having fun.