photo by Samara Pearlstein
Now I ask you: is there anything better than being without baseball for months and months and months and months, and then all at once going to FOUR GAMES IN THREE DAYS?
(the answer is yes, there is something better, and that something is “never being without baseball at all”, but we must make do with what we are given)
Michigan baseball finally started their home season this past Friday, and I went, and then I went to the double header on Saturday, and then I went to the game today, Sunday. And I took many a photo, and had glorious times a-plenty.
For those who care, Michigan swept the series (against Oakland University), winning Friday’s game 9-2, Saturday’s games 4-1 and 4-3 respectively, and winning Sunday’s game 17-0. I guess Oakland got tired by the time Sunday rolled around…
“Coverage” of Friday’s game and the Saturday double header is right here; Sunday’s thrill of a blowout will be over at BCRS (I’ll take a break from my little art experiment over there), and I’ll link that here when it’s up and running. Might be a bit before I get the photos from that online, though.
All the photos that follow in this post were taken by me. So there.
After an exciting day spent racing around the art school like an echidna with its head cut off, I hauled rear down to Ray Fisher stadium to watch me some REAL LIVE BASEBALLS. The Fish is a hot mess right now, since its outer bits are under construction, funded by Mr. Fred Wilpon of the Mets. If you are casting about for an NL to root for this season, I highly recommend the Mets. Good people over there. Smart folks. Funding Michigan baseball. Go buy their merchandise.
There is something wonderful about being able to wander into a stadium, flash your student ID in lieu of payment, and just walk straight up to the back of the visitor’s dugout, where it is totally OK to dump your camera bag and scorecard on the roof while you spack out about BEING AT A BASEBALL FIELD where there is shortly going to be LIVE BASEBALL ACTION and it will be RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR HAPPY LITTLE FACE. I mean, I love the pro game, we all know this, but college ball…. it’s got something going for it, you know?
Part of that something is an ability to get pretty close shots even if you have a cruddy wee tiny camera, but there’s also that whole atmosphere, and the innocence-of-unpaid-labor business too.
There were a couple scouts at the Friday game near where I was standing, keeping scorecards and with little clickers to keep an eye on the pitch counts. I didn’t catch what teams they were with, but one of them used to work for the Tigers, because he started one of his interminable scouting stories with “Now, back when I was with the Tigers….” I found it encouraging that a) they’re out and about this early in the season and, more to the point b) people are bothering to scout the midwest at all.
I definitely get jealous of a team like the Braves, where it seems like half their minor league system is comprised of Georgia locals. Why can’t we have that! I want us to become the next GEORGIA, only even MORE AWESOME because our guys will be SO GOOD that they will manage to impress in the few months of playable conditions that Michigan offers us. TAKE THAT, SOUTHERN COLLEGES!
It was pretty cool on Friday… not cold at all when you were walking around, but the more you stayed in one place, the colder it seemed. The pitchers appeared to be feeling it, because every pitch count seemed to go full, with balls sliding out of their grips and floating all over the bloody place. Not that you could tell from the number of walks in the game (3), because if there’s one things college hitters hate to do, it’s take a walk when they don’t absolutely have to.
Zach Putnam pitched and DHed, because he’s such a good hitter that Michigan doesn’t like to lose him in the lineup even on days when he’s starting. His outing was alright, not spectacular, 7 hits and 2 runs over 5 innings, but he hit the snot outta the ball, going 2-for-4 with 4 RBIs. He DHed in the other 3 games, and went 4-for-9. He was really impressive in that first game, though, and it was particularly gratifying to see him not let a rough inning ruffle his hitting feathers. I think his future lies more with a bat than on the mound, but if he can do both, he kind of superficially reminds me of a right-handed Mike Hampton-esque figure.
I just pulled that comparison out of my spleen, by the way.
Some more stuff happened, Brad Roblin’s dad came and said hi because I had all my Red Sox gear on (I know. I KNOW. SORRY) and the Roblins are Massachusettian folk. Many photos. All of which can be found in the album here.
Double header days mean two 7 inning games with a half hour break in between (during which the players stuff themselves with that ubiquitously baseballian meal of champions, the noble hot dog). Andrew Hess, the Michigan starter, pitched a complete game, but it loses its luster somewhat when it’s only a 7 inning complete game. Oh well. Another Michigan win, no one’s complaining.
I spent most of the first game over on the back of the visitor’s dugout again, surrounded by OU fans (probably parents, or alumni). They were friendly, unintrusive sorts, only occasionally asking me if they could have a look at my scorecard, which, hey, I never mind that. The loudest people down there were a couple of little kids (I’m guessing still in elementary school? I am terrible at aging grubs) in Michigan gear who were shamelessly begging for baseballs, despite the fact that college ball is so strapped for cash that they even ask you to return foul balls that go out of the park and into your windshield.
Not too much to note, except that Adam Abraham had some uuuuugly errors at third, which were kind of worrying to see.
I met up with Brian of Big Ten Hardball in between games and we talked briefly before I moved over to the Michigan side (Brian, having no camera needs, does not mind sitting behind the net so long as it means he gets a good look at the pitcher). Eventually he moved over and we shared scout encounter stories (they make fun of each other!) and speculated nervously about Verlander’s arm (bad!).
Because it was just that kind of day, I ended up sitting with a flickr contact of mine too. It was the most internetful section of the Fish, I am almost dead positive of that. Our combined geekery might have destroyed the world if we had wished to wield it so purposefully.
Hilarious moment after the game when some of the team jumped onto this little cart thing, drove it out to the equipment shed by the home bullpen, drove back with some rakes and started raking up the infield. Brian and I were amazed. Now, I know that at the college level, there are far fewest amenities than at the pro level (er, duh), but I had never seen the kids DO THEIR OWN GROUNDSKEEPING before. At first I thought they must’ve lost a bet, but then a couple of them were out there raking after the Sunday game too (no cart shenanigans though).
All the photos from Saturday can be found over here.
So that’s what I was up to all weekend when I wasn’t updating over here: I was very, very busy wallowing in the joy of LIVE BASEBALL, and that live baseball happened to be Wolverine baseball. Tigers content coming soon.
(Spartans can bite my maize and blue gluteal region, by the by. But then we shall re-bond over our common Tigers love, and it will be OK.)