Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wild Thing, You Make My Butt Sting

Well, suffice it to say I am thrilled that I went to the Midwest Sliders game today instead of watching our Tigers get pounded 11-1 by the depleted Indians. The Sliders are members of the independent Frontier League. Today, the Sliders took on the Washington, PA Wild Things.

I arrived a little late to the party today, during the bottom of the first inning. Actually, I was just in time to see the Sliders score six runs and knock the opposing pitcher out after only 1/3 of an inning!

I had a voucher that reduced the regular $8 ticket price to $7. Parking is free, of course, and the Sliders play at Eastern Michigan University's Oestrike Stadium. The seating is covered and intimate at Oestrike, wrapping from first to third base. There is no outfield seating, but there is a grassy knoll behind the center field wall, from which you could catch the game for free, and I saw a few folks doing just that today.

The weather was gorgeous, sunny, breezy, temperate. I almost wished there was some uncovered seating to soak up some rays.

Seating is all general admission bleacher style at Oestrike, so I sauntered behind home plate to get a good view of the pitches. This put me in hearing distance of a radio broadcaster for the Wild Things, so I gleaned a lot of good information about the teams from him. I was also sitting right behind someone with a radar gun, so I got an idea of how hard each pitcher was throwing.

The level of play is, well, probably below A ball, but lots of good fun nonetheless. The pitchers' fastballs were around 85-87 MPH, and the final score was 16-11, so there was a lot of hitting (and walks). The Wild Things made four errors, while the Sliders had none. I got to see several home runs, one of which went out to dead center, which measures 390 feet, so...impressive!

The Sliders' pitcher stayed out there for 7.1 innings, but appeared to tire quite a bit at the end, giving up four runs in the 8th before coming out. The radio announcer opined that he wouldn't have still been out there had not the Sliders had a large lead at the time.

By the seventh inning, I counted about 100 fans left in the stands, although there were certainly more than that at the beginning of the game. A bachelor party comprised one of the groups, and the groom-to-be sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch.

The radio announce also mentioned that one of the former Wild Thing players was now playing AA ball for the Tigers. I didn't catch the name, though, so I couldn't look him up.

There were two umpires for the game, one behind home plate, with the second platooning between first base (no runners on) and behind the mound between first and second (runners on). Very interesting.

The ticket window representative informed me that the Sliders are 10 games out of first right now, making their chances at a playoff berth rather remote. I highly recommend that if you are in the Ypsi area, you take in a game. I had a great time, and if you like live baseball, you will enjoy it. You can view the Sliders' schedule here.

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