Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Outlander at Gwinnett Stadium

When it was announced in the middle of last week that Tim Wakefield would be making a rehab start for the Pawtucket Red Sox Saturday night at the Gwinnett Braves, I somehow knew I would find myself making the drive down. And, sure enough, there I was Saturday afternoon on my way to the Atlanta area. It was actually a lot farther than I thought - nearly 140 miles each way, because you have to go almost to Atlanta, and then east on 285 and another 20 miles north on 85. Phew.

Gwinnett Stadium was just opened in April, and it's the home of the Atlanta Braves' AAA team. It's a nice park - very open, which allows you to catch a rare August breeze. There are some similarities to the Ted: plenty of the Tomahawk chop, "everybody clap their hands" (aargh), and a nice selection of local drafts (including my favorite from the Ted, Tomahawk Ale). In addition, there was one concession that had all fried things: funnel cakes, fried pickles, fried twinkies, and fried Oreos! Yes, I had to try the oreos. They were covered in funnel cake batter and then deep fried. It made the cookie kind of soft - but, really, you mostly tasted the funnel cake.

I got there in time for batting practice, which was fun. I recognized most of the PawSox guys either from their time with the big club, or from Kelly's photos. There was a great moment, when a young fan who had been soliciting autographs from everyone got manager Ron Johnson's attention. RJ came over, and the boy handed him a baseball card. RJ looked at it, chuckled, and I heard him say, "No that's not me. That's that guy over there" - and he pointed at another coach. Then he stuck out his hand to the boy and said, "Hi, I'm Ron Johnson and I'm the manager." Very cute.

Wake pitched three and 2/3 innings, with 2 runs, 3 hits and 3 Ks. Today's reports say that he was still limping as he left the mound - but I didn't notice it. He had one fielding opportunity, in the 3rd when Timmons hit a comebacker at him. Wake grabbed it and got the runner at 1st - part of a 1-2-3, 10 pitch inning. He finished his day with a strikeout.

From my vantage point, it didn't seem like he threw a lot of knuckleballs - or it wasn't "dancing." Instead he seemed to be tossing fastballs - which would make sense. If they are concerned about his leg/calf, they would certainly want him to test it as much as possible.

I stayed until the bottom of the 6th, when the PawSox defense imploded. In the blink of an eye, the Braves had scored 6 runs! I had already decided to leave by 9pm, so I didn't have to witness that in person. And I was glad I left when I did for other reasons: it was raining heavily and thundering as I hit 285 and 75. Luckily, I drove through it quickly, and made it home in good time. (I can't believe those Atlanta drivers: going 75-80mph in the freakin' rain??)

So, it was a fun little lark. A lot of fellow Red Sox fans in attendance! There were two guys behind me who had some pretty imaginative chants. Like, every time Chris Duncan came up, they cheered for "Donuts." (as in Dunkin...). And of course, for Aaron Bates, "Go Master"!

And here are a few photos:

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Blogger HorshamScouse said...

140 miles each way? A mere sprint! I used to drive 275 each way to see Everton play, although not in one day.

Were there defib machines next to those concession stands? Sounds like the fabled Scottish deep-fried Mars Bars.

It'll be great to see Wake back on the mound.

3:14 AM  

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