Release the Hounds! Friday Night Foxhunt...
Ahh, opening night at the ballpark. The aromas of the stadium grills. The energy of the gathering crowd. The intense greenness of the diamond. The excitement in the PA announcer's voice. The flowers in the restrooms!?
Even the national anthem singer last night at Principal Park in Des Moines couldn't wait to get the Iowa Cubs' home season started. She zipped through a snappy rendition in a minute or so and away we went.
Alas, once the game was put in the hands of professional ballplayers it ground nearly to a halt right out of the blocks.
A nearly 40-minute first inning saw both starting pitchers walk in a run and get paid a visit from their respective dugouts on the mound.
When the I-Cubs finally got to hit, leadoff man Sam Fuld popped one foul down the third baseline and headed for first. A hustling batboy sprinted from the home team's dugout and grabbed at Fuld's bat, by then in the grip of Round Rock's catcher. Only the catcher wouldn't let go. The confused batboy looked up at him pleadingly and the catcher pointed his attention to the stands where the ball had landed. Fuld was on his way back to the batter's box and wasn't yet done with his bat.
The first inning might never have ended had the sizzling Jake Fox not swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded into a fielder's choice that broke up an otherwise monotonous, if profitable, stretch of four straight walks by Round Rock's impostorous southpaw hurler.
Later on Fox would fire a run scoring single and launch a towering solo homer to maintain his per game RBI average at precisely two and the I-Cubs eased to an 8-3 win in front of an unusually large and comfortable opening night crowd of nearly ten grand.
By the second inning the renewed joy of baseball had already worn off for many and the scoreboard was inviting children to the playground under the first base grandstands. Such are the times we live in.
First game kinks were fairly minimal. There were a few pitches clocking in on the scoreboard radar screen at 50 mph, but the whole operation was otherwise in mid-season form.
I'll be back there tonight to have a look at the Notre Dame receiver turned thrower. If, that is, I can keep myself out of the playground. Tonight's promo is an earmuff giveaway; they shouldn't be necessary if the weather holds. Tomorrow afternoon is Samardzija jersey-shirt day. I'll check to see if they spell it right...MW