Sunday, July 17, 2011

Field Trip: The Vermont Lake Monsters

Image via Brent Powers LHP

The Vermont Lake Monsters are our local minor league baseball team, based in Burlington. They play in the Short Season Class A New York-Penn League. The Lake Monsters have a new Major League affiliation this year. After many years with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals organization, Vermont is now hitched to the Oakland A's.

All three of us went to this afternoon's game against the Aberdeen IronBirds, an Orioles affiliate. We met Mock, his cousin and both of their families for an afternoon at the ballpark. We used to live right down the road from Centennial Field but hadn't been to a game since we moved out to the country. The stadium opened in 1906 and is probably going to have to make some improvements in order to continue hosting minor league ball. But it is still small, charming and accessible for a family day out.

Photo via Lake Champlain International

I adore minor league baseball. As I've written before, I first went with my grandfather to an Omaha Royals game back in the early '80s. Frederick Keys games were a frequent entertainment option in high school. Tickets are cheap. The seats are close to the action. The players are relatively human.

We offered to buy Our Girl a baseball cap but she wasn't interested in any of the options. She took full advantage of the snack opportunities, though: a snow cone, cotton candy and ice cream in the form of Dippin' Dots. The beer selection for the grownups was impressive for a baseball game. We both had UFO Hefeweizens, a product of Harpoon Brewery, our preferred brand.

Mock got his head shaved as part of a cancer benefit. I chickened out. As My Wife said, "I know you're comfortable with the fact that he's a better person than you are."

Oh right, the game! The Lake Monsters are off to a great start this season, leading their division by four games. The IronBirds, on the other hand, have been terrible, now 14 games behind the pace in theirs. I realized with the first at-bat that I had no problem rooting for the home team, despite the visitors' association with my big league team. While I would certainly pull for the O's over the A's, I have a much stronger allegiance to Burlington, where we lived for three years, than I have to Aberdeen, which I've only driven past on the highway.

The IronBirds began the affair with a four-run first inning and never looked back, taking the victory 9-4. The Lake Monsters' best player on the day was also the "Featured Player" in the program. Xavier Macklin (RF) had a great game: 3-for-4 plus a walk, driving in two of the team's four runs. According to the program, he likes spaghetti but hates corn (?). He fears roller coasters but likes the Yankees (??!!). As this is Vermont, we obviously have to know his favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream: Cinnamon Buns.

Now, to don my Orioles fan hat. The Birds' top prospect in Aberdeen is middle infielder Mychal Givens. A 2009, second round draftee, Givens filled the DH slot today. He had an average game: 1-for-4. Mock's cousin made a few Robin Givens jokes but as far as I can tell, they're not related. I was more impressed by the Dutch-born Dudley Leonora (2B): 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and one RBI.

We only made it through the eighth inning. By then, pretty much all children involved had lost their patience. I'm eager to go again sometime, perhaps a boys night outing.

Here's one for the road. Mock told us the story of this Evan Longoria video and was kind enough to share the link with me. Enjoy:

1 comment:

  1. I won't say I am "better" than you...just more impulsive?