Results tagged ‘ Syracuse Chiefs ’
Welcome to the first edition of Road Trip Report, my new regular feature with dispatches from the Chiefs’ road trips. I’ll be posting photos and thoughts from the league’s other cities to give folks a feel for life away from Syracuse. First up: last week’s seven-game road trip to Gwinnett and Charlotte.
Life on the road isn’t always glamorous. Case in point: last Monday morning’s travel itinerary.
7 a.m. flight = 5 a.m. bus = 4 a.m. wake-up. And all I had to do on Monday night was talk. There’s no hope of simply rolling out of bed in sweatpants and hopping on a flight, either – the Nationals have mandated sport coats and slacks for the team as a travel dress code.
Our hotel at Gwinnett (quick side note: it’s at Gwinnett, not in Gwinnett – we’re technically in Lawrenceville, GA, in Gwinnett County) is a Courtyard by Marriott, with a tremendous walking and wildlife trail (complete with random bridge) down a staircase right next to the hotel – perfect for an hour-long walk on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
I’m not normally a big chain-restaurant aficionado, but I make a pair of exceptions in Lawrenceville. The first: Chick-Fil-A…not even so much for the food, but for the heavenly Polynesian, Chick-Fil-A and Honey Roasted Barbecue sauces. (I tried to smuggle Polynesian sauce back from Georgia last year in my suitcase. The result was a bit stickier than I had intended.) I asked our hotel shuttle driver to take me to Chick-Fil-A in the mall, which is around a mile away. On the way there, we passed a new Chick-Fil-A. I went to the new one each of the following two days.
The second is Mimi’s Cafe, a mostly western and southern restaurant chain. I have no idea how the lunch or dinner is, but the cinnamon roll French toast is quite delectable:
Gwinnett’s Coolray Field is in its seventh year of existence this year, but it has a brand-new view behind the center and right-field walls: an apartment complex known as The Views at Coolray Field. As far as stadium backdrops go, it’s no Charlotte (more on that in a second), but it sure beats “nothing”.
After four games at Gwinnett, we hopped on a bus around 2 p.m. Thursday and headed to Charlotte – one of the jewels of the league. This was my first time making the trip to Charlotte since the Knights moved from Fort Mill, South Carolina to the actual city in which their name states they exist. Weird, right? That’s like if the New York Giants played in, oh, New Jersey. Wouldn’t make a lick of sense!
I did something Thursday that I otherwise never want to do – I went to a non-Chiefs baseball game. Some people around the game and in this profession can’t get enough of baseball. I have more than my fair share. A night off generally means watching a movie, reading a book or doing anything that has nothing to do with sports – but just hours beforehand, Baseball America‘s list of the top minor-league stadiums in the country came out, and BB&T BallPark in Charlotte was named #1. I had to see it with my own eyes, especially since I’d be solo on the air and couldn’t experience walking around the stadium in-game. So I grabbed my I.L. broadcaster pass and headed Uptown, for the spectacular sight of the park under the lights…
Charlotte’s the league’s most hitter-friendly park – here’s a view from the short “Home Run Porch” in right field.
Built in the middle of the “Uptown” area, BB&T BallPark provides a street-level view for fans walking by – including these two diehards who tell me they’re at just about every game…
With all the pictures from Charlotte, we’re splitting this into two posts – the second dispatch will come later this week, while I sit and dream about the 80-degree weather south of us here in, um, a more temperate climate.
A few more news and notes from Spring Training 2011 in Florida….
* The last Chiefs pitcher to toss a nine inning no-hitter – Mike Pazik now a scout with the White Sox was seen at Space Coast Stadium taking in Nationals games this week.
* Former Chiefs outfielder Justin Maxwell now with the Yankees has a new batting stance – this time very similar to Alex Rodriguez. Maxwell still in camp with the Yankess has made an impression on manager Joe Girardi and could make the team as an extra outfielder.
* Righthander Ryan Tatusko who came to Syracuse in January for the Chiefs 50th Hot Stove Dinner is turning some heads in Nationals Minor League Camp and could be with the Chiefs in April.
* Infielders a plenty – Nationals have first baseman Chris Marrero, Mike Aubrey and Kevin Barker in minor league camp as well as infielders Seth Bynum, Chris McConnell, Alex Cintron and Matt Antonelli are in the mix for 2B, SS and 3B while Brian Bixler is still batting for a spot at the major league camp.
* Outfielders too – With Corey Brown, Jeff Frazier, Buck Coats, Jonathan Van Every and Boomer Whiting all playing for the AAA club it will be interesting to see if the Nationals send either Nyger Morgan or Roger Bernadina to the Chiefs or possibly both.
* Nats believe Syracuse pitching staff could be really good. Already in minor league camp are JD Martin, Shairon Martis, Garrett Mock, Luis Atilano, Adam Carr, Cole Kimball, Atie Severino.
More on this later, but here’s a list of players sent to AAA camp this morning (with last year’s team in parentheses):
-Danny Espinosa is really, really not coming back to Syracuse. The Nats sprinted to a 3-0 lead. All three of ’em came off Espinosa’s bat. In the third, he roped a double to left off of Javier Vazquez to score Alberto Gonzalez. In the fifth, he switched to the right side against lefty Mike Dunn and blasted a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw. In his three-year career, Espinosa’s power has shone through from both sides of the plate. He has hit a homer every 25.21 at-bats against righties and one every 24.03 at-bats against lefties. Oh, and his third at-bat got him an RBI single, too.
After leading since the second inning, he Nats saw the Mets come back to tie Tuesday’s game at three in the eighth on a home run off the bat of Cory Vaughn, the son of former Brewer (among other allegiances) Greg Vaughn. But, the Nats grabbed the win on an RBI double in the tenth from Laynce Nix against former Durham Bull Dale Thayer (not to be confused with former Colorado State head coach Dale Layer). Some thoughts about the game:
I come to you today from Digital Domain Park, the spring training domicile of the New York Metropolitans. It bears the name of James Cameron’s animation company. Everyone involved with the Nats is hoping this game goes in fast motion as compared to yesterday’s Homeric 3 hour, 30 minute bullpen-exploder. For in-game updates, follow us on Twitter @ChiefsRadio. Some pregame notes for you:
High of 76 today. Snow unlikely.
The closest airport to my offseason home in North Carolina is Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International. It is one of those airports which offers a flight to Toronto once every six months and, thus, labels itself “international.” It has slightly less true overseas verve than Outback Steakhouse.
I normally have better luck flying direct out of Raleigh or Charlotte, each about an hour and a half door-to-door from Winston-Salem. To fly to spring training today, I chose Charlotte and a 10:21 direct flight to Orlando. So, I got in my car this morning and began my Sunday drive to CLT. It rapidly became apparent that today was, indeed, Sunday. The first four stations I clicked to on the radio (including an NPR station) provided me religious music. The fifth station offered “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” There’s something faintly symmetrical there.
The final destination is Viera, Florida, the spring training home of the Nationals. As of this writing, the Chiefs’ parent club is 4-2 this Grapefruit League season, which gives the Nats exactly four more wins than they had in their first 11 games last March.
Keep an eye on the blog and our Inside Pitch podcast for news and notes from Viera along with interviews with former and soon-to-be-Chiefs all week. Also, once Kevin joins me on Thursday, we’ll be filling our YouTube page with video updates from Florida. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know who you’d like to hear from. If you’re nice, I think I can probably take your suggestion and run with it.
Here’s hoping my flight this morning is significantly less turbulent than DePaul’s basketball season.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday to everyone. For a long time, this day meant that friends and family would get together, gorge themselves on snacks and root for the final numbers in each score at the end of each quarter to 1) stay the same or 2) change at the last moment, the goal being to win gobs of money. The Super Bowl was a party day. Until last year.