Monday, July 14, 2014

Day 9. Lancaster Jethawks: Our heroes get lost in a castle and get blown away in a hanger.

After one of our first relaxing mornings of the trip, the team grabbed Pat’s contractually obligated 3rd burrito in two days.  Confident that the air quality would be just fine, we all climbed back into the car for a three hour jaunt back up to Lancaster.

Before baseballing, we stopped at Mulligan’s Family Fun Center for a round of mini-golf.  The name proved to be accurate as a cumbersome loop-the-loop caused consternation amongst our heroes.  More frustrating were a pair of castles and windmills that ate our balls completely, forcing us to skip them and think creatively on how to actually reach 18 holes.  Anyway, Ben lost and had to buy Zach’s ticket to the Jethawks.

1.       The park is called The Hanger.  The inside is completely identical, right down to locations of concession and team store, to San Manuel field in San Bernadino, which used to be called The Ranch.  Seems the league is a regular customer of some stadium designer.

Not quite the scenic view of San Berdino that we've come to love from this style of park

2.       Though the park was identical, we aren’t sure the field was.  410’ to dead center and 350’ at the corners seems larger than anything else we’ve seen.
3.       A picnic area was designed as a large airplane hangar. 
Would you believe it took us until the 4th inning to notice this?
4.       We got the club seats right behind home plate.  Club seats come with seat-side service and a menu.
5.       The menu itself had a wide variety of food.  The Hawk’s Nest included chicken fries, onion petals, chili, and cheese.  You could also tour the globe with Mexi, Cajun, German, Greek, and Chicago dogs.
6.       Plus you could build your own hotdog.  Zach got the Iron Chef worthy concoction of hummus, kimchee, and tzatziki on his.
If only they had offered chocolate sauce and beets...
7.       It was local heroes week, with LA County Fire Department being the honorees of the night.  There was a presentation of colors and a trumpet performance the national anthem.
8.       The park BLOWS!  That is, it is particularly windy.  Ben also blames this for his mini-golf defeat.
9.       The tron seemed to be lacking color and was a little fuzzy besides.  We’re not sure if this was part of Throwback Thursday or just a lousy tron.  There was a good looking manual scoreboard, though.
10.   Speaking of Thursday, it was both 2 dollar beer night and Dapper Day.  Much of the staff had bow ties or suspenders or full suits.  The tron put Rollie Fingers mustaches on all the players’ photos.  Keep it classy.
11.   A lot of wrestling references, such as the Rick Flair “Woo!”,  the Daniel Bryan “Yes!” and Hulk Hogan in a LoanMart ad.  Turns out the general manager is a wrestling aficionado.
12.   As our seat service attendant was taking our order, another girl came up behind her, wrapped her arms around her neck, smiled at us and said “Sorry, she’s taken.”  They then enthusiastically embrace.  We’ve learned that things may not be what they seem, but we’re going to count this one on California Bingo regardless.
13.   The visiting team received walk-up music from the stylings of Brittney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and other generally disliked artists.  Not quite as clever as Camptown Races for Lucas Duda, but a respectable attempt to get into their heads.
14.   When a visiting player hit a solo homerun, there was almost no reaction from the crowd and the loudspeaker played crickets.  “Make them feel awkward” seems to be their policy on the opposing players.
15.   Our proximity to home plate put us near several scouts.  The batboy occasionally sauntered over to get a written report from one of them to take to the dugout.  Commence heckling about passing notes in class.  He should have to read that note out loud in front of everyone, dammit!
16.   A 66er player noticed Zach’s River City Rascals hat and asked him about it.  Turns out he played there a few years back, though we did not see him. 
17.   “Ladies and gentlemen, Jack in the Box will provide free tacos to everyone if the Jethawks (CHUNCHUNCHUNCHUNhelicopterflyoverCHUNCHUNCHUNCHUN) runs.  Who Wants Tacos?”  We think it’s free tacos if the home team scores 10 runs in a game, but the sudden appearance of an LAFD helicopter flyover scared the bejeezus out of us and distracted us from the taco policy.
18.   We also got an F-15 flyover.  They like their aviation theme here.
19.   Zach was accidentally supporting the home team by wearing his Quad Cities Riverbandits t-shirt.  They, like the Jethawks are an Astros affiliate.
20.   And the Jethawks had some pretty spiffy Astros-style throwback jerseys.  Not as gaudy, but still reminiscent of Mike Scott humiliating the Mets in the 1986 NLCS.  And who doesn’t like to be reminded of the Mets losing.[1]
21.   Not that any of the Jethawks players would have made that reference.  They were asking each other what Roseanne’s last name was during warmups.  No one knew the answer.  Kids these days.
22.   On the subject of kids, there was toddler in front of us.  He had finished his ice cream when his parents started chanting “chug, chug, chug” until he downed all the melt.  Gotta start college prep while their young.
23.   Mark Appel, former number 1 draft pick, pitched for Lancaster.  It’s always fun to see the young stars of tomorrow show their stuff.  And get lit up!  7 runs, 14 hits in 4.1 IP. 
24.   The game was probably the best we’ve seen yet.  Lancaster overcame a 7-0 deficit to win 9-8, with homeruns, wild pitches, and all sorts of excitement.
25.   One of the homeruns was hit by a fellow who earlier fouled a pitch off his testicles.  We are impressed.
26.   One of the wild pitches bounced on the ground and over the freaking net.  Did they use a tennis ball for that pitch?  Zach wasn’t watching and thought it was a foul ball and wondered why the runner got to advance to third base.
27.   The Lancaster closer is named Daniel Minor.  Compare with Mike Minor.  We can find no evidence that they are related.
28.   His status as closer might be in jeopardy, though.  With a 9-7 lead going into the 9th, he soon found himself with a run in, a runner on third with only 1 out.  Cue walking the next hitter and accidentally spearing a screaming line drive off the bat of the next hitter and doubling up the runner on first.  The hitter almost had time to run to the other batter’s box before the game was over.  This was a nailbiter, folks.
29.   Finals of the game – 17 runs, 30 his, 4 errors.  3:42.  8 ½ innings.
30.   Home Team home runs are celebrated with Hawk Harrelson’s iconic cry “You can putitonthe BOOOOOAAAAAARRDDD Yes! Yes! Yes!”  We can’t find any relation between the White Sox announcer and the Jethawks, aside from his nickname.  In a 2-1 decision, the Scrappy Journeymen have determined that this feature is worth negative points.  Because, just listen to it.
31.   Fred Willard was here.  At least, we’re 97% sure that’s him.  He apparently has done radio spots with the Jethawks and is a baseball fan.  Other folks were stopping to take pictures of him, but we didn’t want to bother him any more than we had to.
We don't often get excited to see octagenarians.  But when we do, we hope it's Fred Willard.

CRAPPY Metrics
1.        Beer.  $2/16oz.  Love Thirsty Thursdays.  8 points.
2.       Most Caloric Concession Item:  While the Hawks Nest was attractive, the tri tip nachos were probably the most caloric.  Unless you used the build-a-dog to put literally everything on it.  5 points
3.       Funniest Name:  Chan Moon, who walked up to Gangnam Style.  We’d call that racist, but we’re the ones giving him funniest name.  Honorable Mention to Anthony Bemboom.  4 points
4.       Most Famous Celebrity:  WHA HAPPENED???  Also note that WE were approached by a player due to our travels.  8 points
5.       Promotion:  Throwback/Thirsty Thursday paired with Dapper Day and Local Hero Appreciation Week may seem like a bit much, but it worked out pretty well.  It would have been nice to see some more dapper on field stuff, but the mustaches were cute.  6 points.
6.       Men’s Room:  See 66ers, Inland Empire.  0 points
7.       Crowd:  Pretty solid group considering the lousy start to the game.  Those who stayed to watch the comeback were very energetic.  Even a couple of people showed up in dapper outfits.  6 points
8.       California Bingo:  The ostensibly lesbian waitress.  2 points.
Bonus Points:  +1 for anything hotdog, +2 for aviation stuff (though they really should have an airplane mascot or cap or something); +1 for wrassling; +2 for seat-side service; +1 for throwback jerseys; +1 for winning despite 7-0 deficit; +1 for nutshot; +1 for taco promo (whatever it was); +2 for getting mistaken for scouts; +1 for batboy/scout/messenger; +1 for local heroes, +1 for scorecard in program, -1 for Hawk Harrelson

Total:  54 points on our arbitrary scale.  Really fun experience, especially with the exciting game.  The wide range of the hotdogs and such was a great touch and the park seems to put some effort into its promotions.  8/10

[1] Yes, we know the Mets won the World Series that year, but nobody wants to be depressed by that thought.

1 comment:

  1. Annamaria JohnsonJuly 31, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    It was a lot of fun meeting you guys and talking to you about your travels! We were the couple sitting in front of Fred Willard and helped you with food choices ;)