All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

30,000 Pounds of Bananas

PNC Field

April 8, 2008: Before Scrantonicity, before Scrantonicity II, Scranton, Pennsylvania's musical claim to fame was Harry Chapin's 30,000 Pounds of Bananas. That song, which was a favorite of a grade school teacher of mine, is probably the only reason I've ever heard of Scranton, PA.

The Yankees moved their Triple-A club to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre only last year. It's more than two hours away, so I'd never gotten down there before. I was still pretty frazzled from my spring training trip, and hadn't expected the Bats to come to Scranton so early - the first road trip of the year. But I wanted to see the Louisville Bats play, and Scranton is the closest, so off I went.

The lower level was sold out, but hardly anybody showed up. I got a seat in the upper deck. I was the only one in my section. It was nice that it wasn't crowded...but also kind of creepy.

Andy Phillips in the pre-game warmups:

I think this is the first time Andy returned to PNC Field since he left the Yankees. Must be strange to come to your home park as a visitor. (Bubba was never with the SWB Yankees, though he probably played at PNC Field as a Clipper.)

Andy signed a lot of autographs for the fans, who clearly remembered him from his Yankees days.

Even after he went into the dugout, little kids were leaning over the railing, peering into the dugout, and yelling, "Andy! Andy!"

I have to say, that made me feel old. When I was that age, I would never have called a grownup by his first name. It would have been "Mr. Phillips." Heck, even now, it probably be "Mr. Phillips," "Mr. Crosby," "Mr. Jeter," etc., unless they told me otherwise. Blogging about them on the Internet, sure, I use first names, but in person, I probably wouldn't.

(FWIW, I once heard that Roger Maris would never give an autograph to a kid who called him "Roger." It had to be "Mr. Maris." Of course, he's from a different era.)

Anyways...Homer Bailey was starting for the Bats. He's the Reds' Phil Hughes. He didn't make the starting rotation this year, but that's more because Volquez and Cueto have been so good than because he's been bad. I expect he'll end up in Cincinnati before too long.

Taking the mound for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees was Kei Igawa.

The problem with Kei Igawa is consistency. Always has been, and I suspect it always will be. When he's good, he's very good, so the temptation to try and fix him is irresistible. Rumor is several teams have expressed interest in trading for him. The Yankees refused, probably at least partly because Igawa is a lefty. The Yanks love lefties, and don't have any, except for Pettitte. All their good pitching prospects are right-handed.

The SWB catcher, Chad Moeller. Moeller was the Reds' third catcher last season. He would be called up a few days after this game, when Molina pulled his hamstring.

Louisville did all their scoring in the first inning. With one out, none on, Jerry Hairston singled to left. Bruce followed with a double to center that scored Hairston.

Andy Phillips, batting cleanup, singled, moving Bruce to 3B. (The stadium sound guys played Rod Stewart's "Some Guys Have All the Luck.")

But Jolbert Cabrera grounded out and Adam Rosales struck out. Bruce would end up stranded 90 feet from home.

Jay Bruce was chosen the best prospect in baseball by Baseball America last year. My guess is he'll be called up in June. I think the only reason he's not starting now is the Reds are playing the arb clock game.

I thought we might be getting the bad Igawa, but he buckled down after that and had a pretty good game.

He got tagged with the loss, though; that one run in the first would prove to be the game.

Paul Janish had a pretty good night. He was 2 for 3 with a double.

Paul Janish and Andy Phillips:

Andy was playing first base, almost directly beneath me. Here he is with Jason Lane.

Andy hit another single in the third inning, a line drive through the gap into left field. (The sound guys played Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much.")

His line for the night: 2 for 4, no strikeouts.

"The Attorney General," Alberto Gonzalez:

He came to the Yankees as part of the trade that sent Randy Johnson back to Arizona. The day after this game, he was called up to the big club, to play SS while Jeter's quad heals.

Eric Duncan was 0 for 3.

Popping out to Janish in the bottom of the 4th.

Eric Duncan, now 24, is the guy Bubba robbed in the Reds' first game at Legends Field last spring. Trent mocked him for being a no-name, but at one time, Duncan was considered one of the Yankees' best prospects. He was their 2003 first round pick, mentioned in the same breath as Phil Hughes. His star has dimmed considerably, however. The Yankees even left him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft last December...and no one took him.

(However, Trent would no doubt approve of Duncan's genuine baseball stirrups.)

Moonrise over the stadium:

Homer Bailey was pulled after two outs in the 6th. He got a nice ovation from the crowd as he left. Bill Bray took over for him.

Jim Brower took over for Bray in the bottom of the 8th. He played a little for the Yankees last year, but the crowd didn't seem to remember him.

Igawa was pulled after four innings. Chris Britton came in and pitched the fifth and sixth.

Jonathan Albaladejo came in for the Yankees in the 7th. Albaladejo came to the Yankees from the Nats, in the Tyler Clippard trade. He had just been sent down to Scranton three days earlier, when Pettitte came off the DL, and would be called up a few days later, when Joba Chamberlain was put on bereavement leave.

Also in the 7th, Nick Green took over for Gonzalez at SS. (I suspect the call came from the Bronx, telling them that Gonzalez was getting called up.) Green played with the big club in 2006, and some of the fans remembered that.

Nick has an identical twin brother, Kevin, who used to be a minor leaguer in the Braves system. Kevin is now working as a model. Hopefully he wear clothes better than Nick. Nick always looks like he's wearing his daddy's uniform.

Edwar Ramirez pitched the 9th for the Yankees.

It was three up, three down for Edwar. Brower had a bit more trouble, giving up a walk and a single in the bottom of the ninth. But he held on, getting the save.

The final score: Louisville 1, ScrantonWB 0.

Andy celebrates the victory:

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posted by BubbaFan, 7:39 PM


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