Just a quick one here. The Bulls beat Indianapolis last night, 2-1 at Indianapolis, to sweep the Indians and advance to the Governors’ Cup championship series. They’ll play the winner of the Pawtucket-Rochester series on the other side of the bracket. The Pawsox lead that series, two games to one. Game four is tonight in Pawtucket at 6:05 p.m. Game five would also be played at Pawtucket, if necessary.
Last night’s Bulls win was another “nailbiter,” as Charlie Montoyo would say.
How about three of them in a row? The All-Star break begins today, and the Bulls head into it having won eight games in a row and twelve of their last fourteen. They are now 63-35, building on the best record in affiliated professional baseball with last night’s 2-1 win over Gwinnett. Paired with Norfolk’s loss to Charlotte, the win extended Durham’s International League South Division lead to eleven and a half games.
I sit in a sea of hats, mostly blue and orange, all displaying capital Ds with Bulls leaping from their center. So many hats, old, brand-new, mesh, wool, bent brims, straight brims, some worn in the traditional manner, some turned to the back or even sideways. These conservative, ostentatious, loud, quiet, unassuming, over-the-top and out-of-the box hats do more than represent the Durham Bulls baseball team.
I heard that Kool & the Gang song twice yesterday, once in a store and once at the ballpark after the Bulls blanked Gwinnett, 3-0. As the band’s website puts it, “‘Celebration,’ which played as the American hostages returned from Iran, remains de rigueur at joyous occasions worldwide.” So of course it’s quite obvious that you would play the song, de rigueur — dap for spelling “rigueur” correctly, with two “u’s” — after the home team triumphs (again, for the sixth straight night); or while you enjoy that other, deeply American victory experience: shopping.
On December 20, 1980, the last Sunday of the regular season, NBC broadcast a historic football game between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Actually, the game itself wasn’t important; both teams had already been eliminated from playoff contention. It was memorable for reasons quite apart from the action and the outcome: the game was broadcast without broadcasters.
The Orange Bowl PA Announcer was instructed to embellish his summary of plays in order to ensure clarity for the television watchers at home.
Wil Myers, pre-call-up. Photo by Elizabeth Matheson.
This afternoon, Kate Joyce and Adam Sobsey spoke with host Frank Stasio on WUNC 91.5’s The State of Things about Wil Myers’ departure and the progress of the Bull City Summer project. If you missed the interview, you can listen to it here.
Not all ballgames should go nine innings, even tie ballgames. Is it necessary to have a winner, I sometimes think? Can we not appreciate seven innings of rich, rip-snorting baseball and then, satisfied, go home?
Later, my editor reminded me that plenty of people leave before the end of every single game. In the seventh inning, the fifth, whenever—at some point in the game’s latter half, you’ll see people start to trickle out of the ballpark, then stream out as the game wears on.
Preludes do not have to chirp out the tone of exactly what is to follow. A boys choir gave a slow, elegiac, almost mournful rendition of the National Anthem last night, some of the crowd singing along as if in sympathy, and the mood of the ballpark was a touch graver afterwards, in that liminal moment before the game’s first pitch. It was thrown, minutes later, by Durham Bulls newcomer Merrill Kelly, a fastball that rode way up and in on Indianapolis’ Josh Harrison, who spun out of the way—and the game announced its character with a tower-buzz of excitement.
Triple-A is right below the majors, of course. There are some games here that seem no different from big-league games, in terms of quality of play. I’m thinking of games like this one, a memorable pitchers’ duel between major-league bound talents Mike and Minor and Matt Moore, from 2011. Back in 2010, when Dan Johnson was having his way with the entire International League on the way to winning its MVP Award, every time he stepped to the plate he brought the game to a major-league level.