Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 3, Greensboro Grasshoppers (Greensboro, NC): Insect Fights, Apathy, and Professional Heckling have Consequences.

After a Waffle House breakfast and a figurative and literal Sunday drive 5 hours up through rural North Carolina, we arrived in Greensboro.  An odd start time of 4 PM allowed us to catch the first 3 innings of Ben Sheets's Atlanta Braves debut, as well as check in to a real life, four-walled, one-ceilinged hotel room.  Working wi-fi and soft beds!

We parked for free on the street in downtown Greensboro and walked a couple of blocks to the ballpark.  Before we even realized we were at the stadium, we knew the outcome of our next mascot showdown.  To be fair, we do not yet know what mascot we will see in Danville, but can you imagine it beating this thing?

Not by much, but I'd still take Ben in this fight.

Its name is Guilford the Grasshopper, after the county in which Greensboro is situated.  As long as the Danville mascot has a shoe, it will squish this green, fuzzy, Martian-shaped insect thing.  It doesn’t even have a number on the back of its jersey; two wings are drawn on the back, flatter than a sheet of paper.

The game happened, too.  The unusual start time must have had everyone out of sync.  The game ended 14-5, with 2 official errors on each side and a few calls that could have gone either way.  The entertainment staff had the energy and enthusiasm of a sloth reading stock prices. 


1.       The park sells hushpuppies. That's not something we'd seen before.

2.       We got there early enough to see the team warm-ups.  We had flashbacks to middle school gym.

But where's the colored parachute?

3.       Warming up seemed to help their gloves, but not their arms.  Everything was hit hard today and we saw some really nice picks in both the infield and outfield.  All the errors, however, were throwing errors, and they were egregious, usually leading to runs.

4.       Kids were on the field when we arrived.  An usher eventually started herding them toward the stands.  He then noticed on kid wearing a Clemson cap and tried to herd that kid out the center field gate into the street.

5.       Speaking of colleges, the Grasshoppers were damn near indistinguishable from University of Miami. Ye Gods, those colors. Ze goggles, zey do nothing!

6.       A really wide range of music, but it all seemed to be stolen from the Braves typical playlist.  Plenty of Johnny Cash, Led Zepplin, Lil Jon, etc.  Good variety of sound and video clips, too, but they’re kinda random without any lasting charm.

7.       Spaz, the microphone guy.  Looked sort of like a mix of Patton Oswalt and Adam Richmond.  Had a voice like a mix of Charlie from Always Sunny and Alvin the Chipmunk.  Maybe he’s a Greensboro icon and a delicious acquired taste, but we just found him annoying.

8.       Clips on the not-so-jumbotron included a clip from the Simpsons “Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off” and a trailer for Burt Reynolds’s 1983 film Stroker Ace.

9.       Caught stealings were sponsored by a local security firm. 

10.   The most violent on field promotion this side of Gateway Grizzlies’ “Hit the Hippie”.  A 5 year old kid was instructed to kill a cockroach.  Or a man in a cockroach costume.  With a flyswatter.  Which the roach wound up stealing.  So the kid took to pummeling the roach with his fists.  Did we mention the kid was instructed to “kill” the roach? Enthusiastically?

11.   Fun with Pictures of Visiting Players on the Scoreboard.  Keenyn Walker had a picture of Kenan Thompson (of Kenan and Kel and Snakes on a Plane fame).  Kevan Smith had a picture of Kevin Smith from Clerks.  And our personal favorite: Joe de Pinto had… a can of pinto beans. I dare you to do better.

That's strange, he wasn't even supposed to be in the lineup today...

12.   The worst torture was reserved for Bill Rice, however.  He got a picture of Jerry Rice next to his name as well as being heckled by the loudspeaker repeating “hey Billy, Billy, Billy”.  It was clearly some movie clip that neither of us recognized.  He responded by hitting for the cycle.  The Grasshoppers need to reconsider whom they make angry during the game.

13.   Dogs named Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra went on the field for our entertainment.  Babe brought balls and bats back and forth between the plate and the dugout.  Yogi got lost in the outfield while he was supposed to be chasing a tennis ball. The dog, on the other hand, eventually found the ball.  They had to throw another out there to get his attention and then he ran straight for two kids barely taller than he was.  Whomever he brought the ball to got a prize.

14.   A slow start led us to wonder if we would see our first 3 hour plus game.  In fact, at the start of the 5th inning, Zach said to me “If this inning takes 6 minutes or less, we’ll be back on pace for a 3 hour game.”  The Intimidators proceeded to score 8 runs that inning.

15.   Game still ended just under 3 hours.  If Minor League clubs can get a 19 run game in under 3 hours, then the bigs should be able to get a 7 run game in at the same time.  Make it happen.

16.   Worst.  Rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame.  Ever.  Watch Ozzie Osbourne’s rendition and imagine a few more correct words, no pitch, and a couple of beats late on every word.

17. The longest-set automatic paper towel dispenser we've ever seen. How do they have any wood left for the bats?

I'll be the sense that you will rue your reckless use of natural resources.

CRAP Metrics

Most Caloric Item:  BBQ Platter.  We weren’t hungry enough to get it, but it looked like a 4 points

Beer Price:  $6.50/ 24 oz. 5.7  points

Most Amusing Name:  Honorable Mention to Kevan Smith, Austin Nola (from Baton Rouge), Wilfredo Gimenez, and Jason van Skike.  Our winner today is Leighton Pangalinan, because I didn’t know either of those were names.  3 points

Crowd:  Not as apathetic as the entertainment interns, but blowouts like this tend to suck the life out of the crowd.  Not very full for a Sunday afternoon summer game, either.  A brief attempt to rekindle the magic of St Paul had a small section chanting “Biscuit Biscuit” when a strikeout would get us free biscuits.  4 points

Men’s Restroom:  BOOOOOOOO 0 points

Mascot:  Um, no.  2 points

Promotions:  We won biscuits because a certain Kannapolis Intimidator struck out at one point in the game.  Otherwise not much.  3 points

 Random Bonus Points
Funny Pictures 2 points, Heckling of Bill Rice 2 points, Ironic Bill Rice Cycle 5 points, Anti-Clemson Usher 4 points, Random video clips 2 points, Competent Dog Babe Ruth 6 points, Incompetent Dog Yogi Berra 3 points, Hushpuppies 3 point, Worst TMOTHBG Ever 2 points.

Total:  50.7

It was fine, and a solid promotion or competitive game might have bumped this up some, but it felt uncoordinated and not particularly special.  6/10

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