Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 9, Durham Bulls (Durham, NC): Rain Ruins Everything 2: This Time, its Personal!

We awoke, still aglow in the effervescent radiance of the Braves’s startling comeback against the Nationals and we celebrated with the Final, Ultimate Mini-Golf Challenge of the Trip.  This would determine the real champion of the trip!  This would bring those promised prizes of money, kidneys, and first born sons to the winner!  This would also end in a tie!  Not a necktie, or a bowtie, or a tie-dye, but a complete, 2 course, I-won-one-he-won-the-other draw, stalemate, deadlock, and split. 

Then we drove, had Arby’s, and made it to Durham.  Big thanks to Becca and Jake for putting us up for the night so we could take in the Durham Bulls game.  Unfortunately for us, we just happened into Durham during its worst thunderstorm in a decade.  The evening started off nice enough with pizza and a maze of 1-way streets to get to the ballpark.  The game was about 15 minutes from starting when they announced there would be a slight delay for some rain in the area.  We had great seats to watch the clouds swirl and slowly encroach our entire skyline.  

The stadium, sans death clouds.

Rain eventually happened around 7:40 and the masses huddled on the concourse.  We enjoyed some snacks and waited patiently.  Eventually the rain lightened up and they removed the tarp to thunderous applause.  The lightening and the thundering of the previous sentence must have reminded the storm that it was not over yet, however, and we soon got to see the tarp put back out.  They finally called the game at 9:30. But let it never be said that the Scrappy Journeymen left a ballpark before the game was officially called.  We did our good deed by giving away our rain checks.


1.) We got an actual scalper outside the entrance.  We had to book our tickets in advance, and the place was packed, so this is a pretty hot ticket. 

2.) The Bulls were a Braves affiliate until 1998, when it got scooped up by Tampa Bay.  Apparently, they haven’t updated their logo since the 2008 removal of “Devil” from their name.

If only it had the rainbow color scheme, it could have the best of the  Charleston Rainbows history, too.

3.) It was easy to get on top of the left field wall, and there was even a restaurant on the top where folks could see the game.  These weren’t even ticket holders, just restaurant patrons who get a good view with their meal.

4.) The wall had a figure of a bull standing in a field, with formerly moving tail (it apparently got hit by lightning at some point).  It had two signs on it.  “Hit Bull, Win Steak”  and “Hit Grass, Win Salad”.

5.) Also on the high wall was the center field cameraman.  He had a really swanky setup, with lots of fancy wires and headsets and buttons.  But no sunshield, so he had to tape a cardboard box over the viewing screen.

View from under large cow's butt.

6.) The tron was relatively jumbo, and placed smack in the middle of the monster-like left field wall.  They even had to put a net on it to keep it safe.

7.) Like our last rainout in Omaha, they put a real (major league) game on the tron.  This time it was Cardinals-Cubs, which is neither of regional interest nor of importance to either the Bulls or Redwings affiliations.  But the Cubs show up nationally on WGN, so I guess it was the only game they could legally show.

View of previously mentioned butt.  And rest of cow.  And embedded  tron.  And manual scoreboard.

8.) The area was called the Tobacco District.  While we didn't see any smoky speakeasies or the Camel mascot, we did see a giant Lucky Strike cigarette smoke tower.

We promise that's clouds swirling around it.

9.) There was an elevator.

10.) The program included a “Beverage Map” pointing out all the places in the park to get your drink on.  Also a complete concession menu.  As the park seems to routinely be full of people, having a clear idea of your objective when you leave your seat could be an advantage.

11.) The mascot’s name was Wool E. Bull.  Didn’t see much of him, given the circumstances.  George Jetson was there to take pictures with kids.  How many kids that young even know the Jetsons anymore?

The second you show him a red cape, he chucks that.. thing at you.  And then eats your family. 

12.) The park was called Goodmon Field.  We may be wrong, but this seems to be the first unsponsored field we’ve seen. 

13.) The pretzel and funnel cake stands were transparent, showing both delicacies going from batter to curvy treat in all its gory detail.

14.) At many parks, one group of people makes up a sound 5-7% of the entire crowd.  This is usually a church group or business promotion (or in the case of Augusta, a group of Internationally Recognized Minor League Bloggers. Thanks again, Finland.)  This stadium was, as we’ve established, quite full, so no one group was a significant portion of the crowd.  There was, however, a preponderance of kids from the Talent Identification Program, the alma mater of at least one of our readers.

Pictured:  Previously mentioned cow butt.  And the teasing grounds crew that  kept flashing bits of the field  from under the tarp.  Take it all off, already!  We're running out of dollar bills!

Carefully Recalibrated And Peer-Reviewed In Event of Rain (CRAPIER) Metrics

Beer:  5 points

Most Caloric Concession Item:  We ate before we got there, so we didn't pay too much attention.  They had a Moe's and a few chains we weren't familiar with, so let's assume there's something good in there.  6 points.

Crowd:  Most of them waited out the rain, so mad props to them.  The sheer number, even counting for the fact that it was Saturday night, was pretty astounding.  Not sure how they would have behaved during a game, but that's why these are CRAPPIER metrics.  7 points.

Funniest Name:  Romulo Sanchez.  Didn't see him in person, but his picture looked like he ate his brother.  5 points.

Men's Room:  3 points?  We were distracted by other waterworks.

Mascots:   Look at that bull.  He don't take nothin from no one.  If only we'd gotten to watch him race preschoolers around the bases. He'll face the Asheville Tourist (?) tomorrow... 7 points.

Promotion:  George Jetson appearance.  Isn't his house able to rise above the clouds if it rains?  Selfish bastard.  3 points.

Random Bonus Points:
Scalper 2 points.  "Devil" Rays 2 points.  Freeloading restaurant patrons 1 point.  Giant Bull 2 points.  Tron with net 1 point.  Cubs game on screen -1 point.  Cardinals game on screen 1 point.  Beverage Map 4 points.  Live pretzels and funnel cakes 1 point.

Total:  49 points.

Overall:  We saw what the stadium had to offer, though you never really get a feel for a place without seeing it in full swing.  They did well keeping the fans there for the duration with a myriad of food and entertainment, but we still feel a little empty.  With that in mind we'll readjust the scale. 3.5/5.

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