Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Day 7, West Virginia Power: Please, Make the Animal Puns Stop!

We began our day awakening in Morgantown, just in time to see the sun rise across the ballpark a few hundred feet away. Then we spent several hours lounging around and debating where to get breakfast (Zach’s insistence of Buffalo Wild Wings was nixed 3-1) before finally settling on Bob Evans. Now if you’ve never been to a Bob Evans, it’s effectively a Cracker Barrel. If you’ve never been to Cracker Barrel…good job, actually.

Anyway, we all agreed that the Bob Evans seemed to have better food than Cracker Barrel, and we were marginally less certain of its right-wing lunacy. Ben and Pat got eggs shaped like a bowl filled with sausage and cheese and ‘taters, which were solid. Zach got a bacon cheeseburger with an egg and some sriracha mayo whatnottery, which was quite good. Ray got something with vegetables that’s not worth commenting upon.

After this your journeymen decided to undo some of the damage by swinging over to Cooper’s Rock State Park, where we walked out on a big rock and faced another huge hole (gorge) that Ray refused to jump in because whatever.

Why you don't you just go HOME? That's your HOME! Are you too good for your HOME, Ray?

We then did a mile and a half hike up and down cliffs and over some rocks that Zach did with sandals and everyone but Ray did without water because we are alpha males, and gray wolves don’t use sandals or water bottles, do they?

We then decided to combat our dehydration with some Coal Country Mini Golf in the blazing sun. Ray pulled out a late victory, but that’s not important. The holes were all built in and around coal mining machinery, with educational plaques explaining what each one was. The course definitely seemed to prioritize incorporation of the equipment over playability. Oh, and also most holes were on a steep grade because the thing was built into a mountain.

Why you don't you just go HOME? That's your HOME! Are you too good for your HOME, ball?
P.S. That fan was rotating, and if you hit the blades...you were pretty much chopped. 

Then we got into Charleston, checked into our hotel, and walked through the first finishers of a 5K to Appalachian Power Park, home of the West Virginia Power.


1.       Foods and drinks of note were several and varied. We’ll begin with the STERNWHEELER, which was basically a bunch of different kinds of pork (hot dog, pulled pork, bacon) on an open-faced hoagie with cheese, jalapenos, and BBQ sauce. Oh, and fries. Which they neglected to mention, leading Zach to order a side of fries with his fry sandwich.

Oh yes, Lisa. All these meats come from one wonderful, MAGICAL animal.

2.       There were also boozy (beer) floats, served by underage kids who had no idea what they were. They had to check the rotating menu, which resulted in having to wait a minute or two for them to figure out what the heck to do. Guys, there were like 4 things, c’mon.
3.       The lineups and standings, instead of being displayed electronically (fancy parks) or written in marker (most MiLB parks) were printed on paper and displayed. Neat.

This picture brought to you by Sunbelt Rentals. Sunbelt Rentals: we're sure they're fine at whatever they do. Can we have some money now?

4.       In design news, you could do a complete circuit around the stadium, including the outfield, which we hadn’t encountered yet on this trip and were sorely missing.
5.       The Little League team that came out with the power were fully sponsored. We know this because they were called the Calhoun Insurance Agents. D’awwwwww.
6.       The lady singing the National Anthem really milked it, for at least an extra 20 or 30 seconds. Show some professionalism. Get in, get out, play the game.
7.       There was a very large church group that seemed to be Transformers-themed. Their shirts had an Optimus Prime head with a giant cross on it. There was some Bible verse attached, too, but none of us heathens can remember what it was. Because we’re heathens. Anyway, that was a first for us.
8.       In Jumbotron news, there were pew-pew laser sounds for strikes and a YOU ARE TOAST graphic for strikeouts. Toast seemed to be a theme here, but we never figured out why. Maybe Charleston is actually filled with filthy millennials who eschew healthcare in favor of avocado toast.
9.       The park is truly nestled in an urban area. Several streets – and apartment windows – were in solid foul or homer territory. We didn’t see any windows get smashed during our game, but we’d be shocked if it didn’t happen a couple times a season. We support chaos.

Those apartments over there better have plexiglass windows.

10.   I promised you animal puns, and holy mackerel am I gonna deliver. Okay, so the root of all this is a group called the Zooperstars that were performing, which was basically a couple guys in various inflatable animal outfits. We did not have high hopes for this. We were wrong. The display began with a dance-off between shortstop Nomar Garciaparrot and soccer star Mia Hammster. And it got better from there.
11.   The third entry was…oh God, THAT’S TEBOW’S MUSIC! Dressed in a #15 Gators jersey, it’s TIM TE-BULL! He had a dance off with a couple of the visiting players (their involvement was a theme) and then, obviously, TE-BULLED on his way off the field.
12.   Squidney Crosby was our fourth entrant. It was a slow start, honestly, until he got ejected by the umpire for his antics and ate the ballboy. Like, literally swallowed him into the costume. Then vomited his helmet, jersey…and pants. Then vomited the be-boxered ballboy out, who ran off the field. It was glorious.
13.   The fifth entrant was Ken Giraffey, Jr., who raced a kid on the bases and actually beat her. AND TAUNTED HER. We were so excited. Then the visiting players took exception to this, pelting poor victorious Kenneth before knocking him to the ground and kicking him viciously. Then the little girl who got beat joined in kicking him violently. YESSSSS BLOOOOOOOD.
14.   Our sixth and final entrant was Harry Canary delivering TMOTTBG in the Stretch. It’s what you’re imagining. It was great.
15.   The Power got into the Zooperstars spirit, as their starting lineup was as follows: Adrian Veleopard, Ferrett Brown, Henter Owen, Albert Boa, Carlos Moosenez, Armandenllo Pabst, Stingray Arbet, Ryan Nagull, and Clam Eagan. They were all great, but we liked Veleopard and Ferret best.
16.   In “This is the Minors” news, our game featured a TOOTBLAN pickle of a runner between first and second; a balk; a runner nearly injuring himself on a ground rule double; a defunct pitch speed board; a HBP RBI in the 7th; an 8-run 8th for the Hickory Crawdads to turn a 5-run lead into a 3-run deficit for the Power; and a Power first baseman with a very sizeable hole in his pants.
17.   The crowd We were very into the idea of the Pancake Batter, which we’ve seen before: if a designated visiting batter strikes out, everyone gets a shortstack from IHOP. Nobody got pancakes because he is a bad, bad man, despite being given two opportunities to strike out in the same inning.
18.   The parking for the fancy suite holders was in prime foul territory. EAT SMASH THE WINDSHIELDS OF THE RICH.
19.   The official scorer ruled a hard play on a sharp grounder by the first baseman of the Power to be an error, but we were unanimously against that and called it a hit. Sure enough, the guy didn’t work as hard on the next sharp grounder, perhaps in an effort not to get his glove on it and be given a second error. Errors are dumb.
20.   We almost had an inside-the-park homer that got caught up under the OF wall then bobbled, but the guy was thrown out at home. Still awesome, though. Good spirit, kid.
21.   For those of you who remember the New Jersey Jackals, we encountered Li’l Jeetz Mk. II, a kid who thought he deserved another ball from the ballboy/1B coach even after he got three. To her immense credit, his mother made him give up all but his first to other kids on his Little League team. She’s a socialist and a good mother.
22.   We see kids run the bases all the time, but the Power did it with a couple twists: it was during the game in between innings, and pretty much all the kids – down to ones as young as 2 years old stumbling across the outfield – just all went at the same time.  On the one hand, we dislike giving kids things, but on the other hand we support chaos. We’ll call it a wash.
23.   The Power had some nice upcoming promotions. One of our favorites, which we sorta noticed in Lexington, was a series of Hatfield & McCoy nights for Lexington Legends games across the course of the season. This is the first time we’ve seen a sustained, season-long multi-team promotion, and we want more.
24.   The Power are johnnies-on-the-spot with getting up new names on their “they used to play here” list, with players called up as recently as two weeks ago featured. Impressive turnaround. But…
25.   …their Wall of Fame included Ryan Braun, since they used to be a Brewers affiliate. Still, yeesh. But…
26.   …it also included Tommy John from the time long ago when they were the Charleston Indians. But the Frogurt is also cursed.
27.   They had a famous vendor, which we’ve missed on this trip. They call him Wheeler Bob, and he’s basically a baseball used car salesman in looks and attitude. Our favorite was when he hawked MiLB baseball cards directly to the Little League team in front of us. Kids and parents never stood a chance. That man’s a shark. He also sold a hat to Ben.
28.   In snarky music news, most of it was non-personalized but for Hickory batter Anderson Tejeda (jersey #1) we got “One is the Loneliest Number,” which is solid.
29.   They did the full Animal House “GERMANS BOMBED PEARL HARBOR” speech as a pump-up video before the bottom of the 9th. We hadn’t seen it yet this year, and despite being a classic it’s great every time.
30. In what may be the best group name of the whole trip, the Sunshine Freewill Baptist Church was in attendance. They were introduced right after the St. Scholastica School (i.e. the School School).

LAZY Metrics:

7.5/10. The Power were a solid if not especially remarkable experience. They were bolstered by the Zooperstars, but they do have a nice regular array of foodstuffs and a clearly fun attitude. We were surprised to learn the Charleston area is only 224,000 people, so maybe we were expecting a larger or more raucous crowd. Certainly if you find yourself in Charleston there are many worse ways to spend a night than a Power game. Just, uh, don’t drive down the streets around the stadium during a game.

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