Friday, July 1, 2016

Day 4: Roswell Invaders. Roswell, NM. There's a NEW Mexico now?

We have to apologize.  We know that all of our readers were waiting with bated breath just for this post so they could hear about the Midland RockHounds and finish off the entire Southern Division of the Texas League.  Well, Mother Nature didn’t exactly thwart the plan, but she gave us a stern glare and, based on the weather radar, we decided to burn all the way to Roswell, NM to check out the Roswell Invaders.

There’s not much to tell about the trip.  It was long, there was a lot of sky and clouds, a lot of flat.  It was remarkably nice to look at, but 7 hours of it borders on excessive.
The good clouds are fighting the bad clouds

Roswell loves aliens.  Their entire economy seems to be based on either selling aliens paraphernalia or being closed.  No alcohol purchases on Sunday (we had to drive 15 minutes to a gas station in the county jurisdiction as opposed to the city for booze), two mini-golf places that have Yelp reviews, but no physical location, and most non-chain restaurants seemed to be closed, either for Sunday or just to piss us off.

But the Aliens stuff we saw was neat.  Here’s a souvenir shop that has a playground inside.

Alf E. Alien's?  Vern E. Visitor's?  Needs more animatronics.

Here’s some of the darklight exhibit called Space Walk.  It is a series of rooms in a shop designed by theme park artists.  The pictures don’t really do it justice, but for 2 dollars, it’s worth your time if you’re in Roswell.

If you think this looks like a good idea for mini-golf, wait for Day 7

"I was one with the universe."  "Pics or it didn't happen"

The UFO Museum closed early on the day we arrived, but we made plans to visit the next morning before departing.

So we watched the storm tracker and noticed several huge cells now bearing down on Roswell.  We also checked the weather in Midland and were assured that it had been nice and clear in Midland and we would have certainly seen a game.  We huddled up in a surprisingly not-closed establishment to wait and watch, nervously trading possibilities about whether they might delay the game, when they might start, and just how wet it would be.

Unsurprisingly, the game went off without a hitch and we barely had a drop of rain.  Here’s the highlights.

1. The park was the most community/municipal park type place we’ve seen since Vallejo.  Nothing but metal bleacher seating, and everything is covered by netting.  Not just screened, but actually covered, leading to several balls sitting above our heads for the majority of the game.  Furthermore, all the kids in the park were encouraged to return all the foul balls they ran down, in return for getting their name in a drawing at the end of the game.

2. For the first time this trip, we had legitimate concerns as to whether our scrappymobile would be in the line for foul balls.  And fouls weren’t even sponsored by a local auto body shop, so we would have had no idea where to get it fixed, had it been hit.  Probably would have been closed, anyway.

3. The concessions reflected the park, as well.  There was your basic hot dogs and sodas, with a burrito being the most exotic item.  The most egregious offense, though, was NO BEER.  We were really glad that we’d stopped by the only open place for dinner and drinks before the game.
So many things forbidden here.

4. Speaking of minimal, there were only two urinals in the men’s room.  Which meant there were only two urinals in the entire park.

5. The scoreboard was nothing more than a line score and lights for Balls Strikes and Outs.  Here was no tron, so some of the player names are just our best guesses.  Apparently the scoreboard operator got confused a few times and the umpire had to call time, turn around and get his attention for the change.

6. The bullpens were just an extra set of bleachers way down the outfield lines.  The dugouts were also very exposed and required the players to be aware of the ball’s trajectory at all time.  The home dugout had a large inflatable alien holding a broom, sitting quietly for the duration of the game.  At the end, after the Invaders won, the team brought it out for the team handshakes and the loudspeaker confirmed that the broom signified a 4-game sweep of the visiting team.

7. The crowd was very small, rivaling Healdsburg.  Everyone seemed to know everyone else, though.   We can’t imagine there is much else to do in Roswell on a Sunday night, but maybe people here just don’t do much on Sunday nights.
And no sitting on the fence?  It's like they don't want us to have any fun.

8. The official… statisticians for the team were sitting in the bleachers right behind the plate.  One fellow had a radar gun and was recording the speed and break of every pitch.  The Invaders manager even came to him a couple of times to get an update on his pitcher’s pitch count.  A few other folks had official looking notebooks and were keeping score, occasionally confirming a play with one another.  They were all dressed casually and did not seem to be scouts.

9. They had a friend, though, of the corpulent and belligerent variety, who sat with them for several innings, “encouraging” the umpire after every call.  His heckles were mostly run of the mill material, but were ubiquitous and always punctuated with “You’re a good umpire!”  This last line made the stats guys crack every time while trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism while they kept score.

10. Some heckling gems: “That pitch hasn’t been a strike all night.  If you call one, you gotta call them all.  But you’re a good umpire, though!”  “Have you been to Trinidad?  You’re a good umpire!”  When the umpire went to break up a meeting on the mound, “Are you going up to ask for a reach-around?  You’re a good umpire!”  The hitter even laughed out loud at that one.

11. The umpire wasn’t the only one to catch this guy’s grief, though.  After a high warmup pitch caused the catcher to get out of his crouch and miss it anyway, our friend yelled “It’s ok, we knew white boys can’t jump.”  The catcher chuckled as he walked back to get the ball.

12. We saw our first true minor league groupie since Redding.  There was a young, single female sitting on the visitors side, wearing flattering clothing, cheering on everything the Cowboys did.

13. The park had a lot more foul ground than we’re used to.  Not so much from the stands to the players; we’ve established by this point that everyone, especially the good umpire, could hear everything we said.  But down the lines, the fence didn’t close in to create a corner near the foul pole.  This came into play when a line drive to right field rolled a few yards into foul territory, giving the hitter an easy triple.

14. Furthermore, there was no dirt between home and first or home and third.  We’re not sure if that’s an artistic decision or if there’s some logistical purpose to it, but it’s a puzzling sight.

15. Kids ran the bases.  Not unusual, except that it happened mid-game as a between innings promotion.  The Invader’s take on entertaining kids seems to be let them run around in the open areas, have them chase down your balls for you, and the let them on the field during the game.  One kid even ran around twice before the obligatory toddler was lifted up and placed on home plate.

16. There was also dizzy bats.  This is a consistent favorite promotion for your journeymen, and this race did not disappoint.  The finish line even moved.

17. We saw a relief pitcher with a nearly underhand delivery.  His stretch position saw him doubled over with his face near his hips.

Bullpen in the best location for abduction

18. While most of the production values were low, there was decent walkup music for every hitter.  The home team got mostly ‘80s pop, but there was some amusing music heckles for the Cowboys.  There were several songs from children’s shows, like Dora the Explorer and Caillou.  “Under da Sea” was played for a hitter named Ariel.  “Happy Together” was played during mound visits.

19. The Roswell pitcher had a pretty good start, carrying a no hitter into the third.  He lost it on the worst possible way, on a bunt.  This is bush league, but the baseball gods got their vengeance when the runner was eliminated on a line-drive double play.

20. There was a play at the plate called an out.  The runner was rather upset and his manager came to get between him and the umpire.  We were expecting to see a big, heated argument, especially in light of the heckles from the peanut gallery.  But the manager seemed to just explain to the umpire where he should position himself for a play like that.  The umpire was pretty young and maybe it was actually instructive to him.  He’s a good umpire, though.

21. Some more baseball-type highlights:  pitchers hit again and the Roswell pitcher got a double and a single.  A funny error at second on a double-play ball.  Several caught stealings.  Just about every at bat lasted over 5 pitches and led to a really long game, despite a final score of 3-2.

22. This team does a “Tip the Pitcher” just like the Airhogs did, but only for three strikeouts.  We’re a little more comfortable donating to the cause for an accomplishment like that.


Price of Beer:  BOOOOOOOOO!  0/10 points

Most Caloric Food Item:  Zach got a burrito.  He said it was pretty good.  It’s the only bit of food they sell here whose caloric value we can’t just look up at the grocery story.  3/10 points

Minor League Personalities: Families, our first groupie, minor league diehards.  None of the kids even seemed to play little league.  3/10 points

Willingness to Give Random Bloggers Free Seats:  BOOOOOOOOOO!  0/10 points

Tailgating:  Well, we tried to go back to the car for a swig of whiskey after we discovered no beer in the park.  But there was a security-type person when we went, so…. 1/10 points

Funniest Name:  We never got a full list of the names and nothing was projected onto a tron, so we’re not sure if these really are the best.  But the visiting pitcher was named Lemmo, and the visiting catcher was named, we think, Phildrick Llewelyn.  7/10 points

Promotion Quality:  Some on field things for the youngsters, but nothing else notable.  They really should market that heckler, though.  2/10 points

Crowd:  It was small, but they were into the game.  We saw young and old and the trash talking game was better than most places we’ve been.  6/10 points

Men’s Room:  2 urinals.  8/10 points

Bonus Points:  +1 for not letting kids keep the balls, +1 for hearing the radio broadcast on not-a-radio, +1 for dirtless infield, +3 for music heckles, +4 for “You’re a good umpire!”, +1 for tipping, +1 for double play karma, +2 for pitchers hitting and doing well, +1 for coach teaching umpire, +1 for submarine pitcher, +1 for alien blowup, +1 for seeing the end of a sweep

48 points on our totally arbitrary scale.  It feels cruel to say bad things about this place, sort of like kicking a three-legged dog.  And to be perfectly honest, it was the best thing we saw in Roswell.  For such a depressed town, the enthusiasm for the team was strong and the quality of play was entertaining.  They seem to have a really neat family feel, where everyone knows the players, coaches, and other fans.  Goo

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