Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 3, Lexington Legends: Mammoth Cave, Mammoth Beer, Mammoth Tebow BS

Our day began with a slow start in Bowling Green since we couldn’t pass up a chance to see one of the nation’s most popular National Parks, Mammoth Cave, nor could we get a tour earlier than 12:45. So we bummed around eating the largest spread for a free hotel breakfast I’ve ever seen before taking a quick 45-minute spin to the Cave.

If you’ve never been, it’s definitely worth it. It’s a cave. A big cave. 405+ miles of which are mapped but many more of which are unknown. With pretty formations. And it’s an awesome break from summer (seriously, approaching the entrance the air temperature must drop 20 degrees). Definitely in the running with Carlsbad Caverns for best caves in the country. 10/10, would shelter during the upcoming nuclear apocalypse again.

On the way out. I don't know why we ever left.

We went on the Historical Tour, which imparted knowledge in the domain its name suggests. We all felt the fact that the original (modern) cave guides were all slaves was a little, uh, whitewashed with just a souciant of “isn’t it wonderful how well respected these slaves were!” Well, uh, Mr. Ranger, sir, it would’ve been a lot more wonderful if they weren’t, y’know, enslaved.

Anyway, the game. Loyal readers of our blog will recognizethe Lexington Legends from season 1, when Zach prevented him and Ben from going to the game by forgetting day games are a thing. Zach did still manage to get his Legends T-shirt, which due to a logo change now legally qualifies as a throwback.

They're practically twins! You know, in the Danny DeVito-Arnold Schwarzenegger sense.

So without further ado…


1.       We’ll start off with a lowlight: Tebow. One way or the other, this would’ve been a lowlight, but we’re especially angry about how this turned out. So, the New York Mets, in their infinite wisdom insanity, signed former mediocre (he won a playoff game!) NFL QB Timothy Q. Tebow to a Minor League contract. Timothy was placed in Low A, which means he was on the Columbia Fireflies. The Legends on 6/26 were scheduled to play…you guessed it, the Fireflies. WE WERE GONNA GET TO BOO SEE TIM TEBOW. Then, one day before we were supposed to arrive, the Mets promoted his complete lack of ability to swing a bat to High A, the St. Lucie Mets in Florida (in the ultimate turn of irony, we were originally going to go to Florida this year and would’ve seen him). So we had Tebow pulled out from under us and are now in a blood feud with Sandy Alderson.
2.       Timothy’s signing has always been a publicity stunt to enrich Tebow’s brand and the Mets, their MiLB affiliates, and all the teams those affiliates play. To that end, the Legends were prepared with boxes of $30 Tebow Fireflies t-shirts they were ready to sell. They were selling opposing team shirts in their stadium to make a buck. They didn’t even discount them for the lack of Tebow.
3.       We kept our Tebow heckling to a minimum, but it was still there. After a rough play in the 9th, Zach screamed “TEBOW WOULDA MADE THAT” and, in addition to a smattering of laughter from the fans, the Legends mascot gave him a fist bump. It represented the finest accolades he’d ever received.
4.       Also at the end of the game, Ben approached several scouts at the game and asked if they were to scout Tebow. They were not amused and immediately turned their backs on him. A little common courtesy for the media, fellas?
5.       Now to the highlights. First of all, beer. They’ll sell you 32oz of a local IPA for $10.25, which is only 50 cents more than 32oz of Bud. You can buy regular pints, too, but why?
6.       Oh, and in the 6th inning the IPA (and other beers) from West Sixth brewing are $1 for 12 oz. We took advantage.
7.       The park design was nice. You could get down essentially into the bullpens for either team. The beer deck in right field was basically in the Legends’ bullpen. We could hear their chatter, which included one of the relief pitchers threatening to take a bat to his sister’s boyfriend. God Bless Baseball, and God Bless the United States of America.
Not pictured: the bullpen players just off to the bottom right bitching about some guy's sister's boyfriend.

8.       Also on the design front, this was the most minimalist (and therefore awesome) net we’ve seen. No protection behind the dugouts, which means more foul balls and broken eye sockets for everyone!
Boy, look at that net end. That's a fine net.

9.       Finally, the concession lines were designed cleverly to give you a great view of the game for 90% of your wait.
10.   The park actually had two Trons, one Jumbo and one slightly-less-than-Jumbo-but-still-impressive. The second Tron was in center-left and featured a rotation of ads and amusing messages throughout the game. One staple was a picture of the 3 Legends outfielders with the moniker “No Fly Zone.” Another was a “Ru-Dy, Ru-Dy” chant animation for a Legend named, appropriately enough, Rudy.
11.   The ballboys were actually both ball girls, which we favor for non-creepy, gender equality reasons. We think this is the first time we’ve seen this…at least the first confirmed sighting we’ve had in the Minors. Anyway, may we present Lexington, KY, bastion of social progressivism and coastal elitism.
12.   But don’t worry, we really were in Kentucky. The “Friends of Coal” ad that insisted 97% of Kentucky electricity comes from coal made that very clear. Fun fact: the Kentucky Coal Museum has solar panels.
13.   The kids’ play area was all Astroturf instead of natural grass. Good, children’s knees and ankles need to get toughened up early (yes, yes, current generation artificial turf is miles better than the old concrete-with-a-green-film from the 70s, but still).
14.   If there were recent call-ups or demotions to the Fireflies to replace departed players (like, oh, I don’t know, TIM TEBOW), the new players without League pictures were represented on the pretty-Jumbo Tron by…actual fireflies. Makes sense.
15.   There were some pretty good promotions in Lexington, though the upcoming spate really seems geared to corner the Shut-In Crowd Market. This week features both Minecraft Night and Meow on the Mound, the latter of which sounds like nothing short of a CAT-astrophe. No, Pat did not write this post.
16.   It was a good crowd for a Monday, maybe because they had all been expecting Timothy Freakin’ Tebow!!11!1! But seriously, good size and enthusiasm (including joining in with the PA cues) for a weeknight.
17.   Along similar lines, the crowd around us were good sports when Ben belligerently vigorously insisted they don their rally caps in the bottom of the 9th. It did not help.
18.   In “Oh Yeah, This Is the Minors” news, we saw maybe the TOOTBLANiest TOOT to ever BLAN. A Legend was caught stealing at 2nd, which, okay, it happens, but it made the 2nd out when the Legends had a runner on 3rd. And then the batter flew out. So, good job, guys.
19.   FINALLY, I don’t have to choose between a chicken sandwich and a burger. I present to you: THE CHURGER.

Hold the chicken, hold the burger, special orders don't...WAIT, NO, DON'T HOLD EITHER.

20.   It is possible to be hungover on Kettle Corn. Don’t get the large here even if you’re 4 hungry adult men.

Ray for scale.

21.   Re: funny names, this was a pretty strong crop, to be sure. Honorable mentions to a relief pitcher named Bender and Jamison (Jay) Jabs. But the winner of this night running away was Dash Winningham, which is by far the best baseball name we’ve seen in years 2 days since Deck McGuire in Chattanooga.
22.   Special non-game shout out to our Uber driver on the way back, who – long story short – also apparently once stayed at the same awful Red Roof Inn in Charlotte where Ben and Zach once stayed on the way down from Virgina Beach. Seriously, the smoke detector low battery was beeping when we arrived and the front desk made us replace it ourselves.

LAZY Metrics:

8.5/10. It took us 6 years to get around to seeing the Legends, but it was well worth it despite the noticeable lack of Tebow (and noticeable presence of them trying to make a buck off of it). The crowd’s spirit and nice, comfortable park design, along with a good amount of unique culture, combine to make this a Minor League experience worth going a bit out of your way for.

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