Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Exactly What Is A Zephyr? (Alternate Title: What I Did On My Summer Vacation)

Back to the old grind.

It can now be told that Metstradamus spent the past week in the fine city of New Orleans. Not to go on you, but I highly recommend the place. It's just plain cool (think Las Vegas without the silicone). Stay in the French Quarter, have a beignet (or six) and some jumbalaya, and have a hurricane at Pat O' Brien's (Be careful fellow lightweights, one drink comes in a big freakin paper cup.) You will not be sorry.

There was some baseball on my trip; a June 12th AAA tilt between the New Orleans Zephyrs (Washington Nationals) and the Oklahoma Redhawks (Texas Rangers). A mere $9.50 bought me a seat two rows behind the plate...and this ticket was bought during the national anthem! I got every penny's worth as the Redhawks pulled off a 7-6 ten inning victory over New Orleans in front of what couldn't have been more than 400 spectators, most of whom spent the game heckling the home plate umpire (who really was terrible...had a low, erratic strike zone that probably cost New Orleans the game). And where else but in the minors can you visit the front office and have them call a taxi service to get you back to the hotel? (Good luck getting Jay Horowitz to hail you a cab!)

There were Mets connections present. Tim Foli (a former Met from way way back), manages the Zephyrs. The starting shortstop for Oklahoma? Manny Alexander (remember him?) And believe it or not, making an appearance in a between innings football toss was Miracle Met Ron Swoboda.

For you Nats and Rangers fans, here's who made an impression, for better or worse:

Brandon Watson/Zephyrs CF: A Juan Pierre type who tried to make things happen from the leadoff position with his speed, bunting, and hitting. Hard nosed as well. He can play.

Donnie Bridges/Zephyrs SP: Only lasted 4 innings, and walked the park at times, but part of it was due to erratic umpiring. Love the movement on his two seam fastball. Problem is he would go 0-2 on hitters then stopped being aggressive and would walk the same hitters.

Juan Melo/Zephyrs 1B: It's hard to judge PCL power hitters, since you have some downright humid weather in New Orleans, but Melo did go deep twice, then immediately followed with a sharp single to drive home the tying run in the 8th.

Jose Veras/Redhawks RP: Pitched a gutsy 2 and 2/3 innings for the win. High velocity on his heat.

Josh Rupe/Redhawks SP: Lasted 6 and 2/3 innings in some high humidity, so he deserves points just for that. Located his pitches well and confined his mistakes to when the bases were empty.

Jason Botts/Redhawks DH: Same principle as Melo. But did have a home run to dead center, and the kid is a tree!

Josh Labandiera/Zephyrs SS: The opposite end of the spectrum as Botts, Labandiera stands 4 foot nothing, and his third inning error with two outs probably cost them the game. It doesn't say much for shortstop prospects for the Nats; I hope for their sake they have one lower in the system.

P.S. A Zephyr is some sort of beaver/sea otter type creater.

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