I want to start out this post by saying that every time I go to one of these American Association games, I feel refreshed about baseball. After the first game I went to, I doubled down on committing to attending more games. I absolutely cannot wait to attend more of these. You won’t see me going to them as much during this time of year, only because they still play after the college summer leagues are over. Something about this blog that I love is that everyone can see the progress in finding a new place In the game, as a fan. I was a die hard MILB fan before, and things have changed. Tonight was a night I hashed some of that out.
I started out the night a little disgusted with what I saw while walking in from the parking lot. I saw a ballpark that was absolutely beautiful, about to have a great night. So why would I be disgusted? This ballpark was one of the teams that was contracted by MLB last offseason, and it was more than qualified to still be part of it. The other stadiums I knew of were debatable, but this stadium is modern, and it’s a big community just outside of Chicago. They had every reason to stay in the Midwest League. When I walked into the stadium, I saw took a program. I usually don’t take them, but was interested in seeing what a former MWL team would have in it. I never attended a Kane County Cougars game away from home, so this was all new to me. My schedule just didn’t line up with it.
When I got to the back of this program, I read an article that made me go from disgusted, to refreshed about baseball again. The article specifically addressed the feeling I was having, and showed what this league has to offer to their community. To top it all off, they gave every comparison to MILB and MILB, and how the league is sticking to traditional baseball. One specific quote stated, “we like to do what we can to mimic MLB, but also stay away from some of the things MLB has done thinking they’re helping the game. We kind of like how it was.” All I can say is sign me up, I’m a fan! I saw a lot of this just from the way the game was played in Gary, but now it was put into words. Enough about feelings and opinions though, let’s get into the game itself.
The game at this beautiful ballpark started, and I was in the front row behind the plate. The only person with a better seat in the house, was the plate umpire. I went up to the grandstand during the top of the 1st for a minute, and the radio broadcast stated that the starting pitcher for the Cougars was from 20 minutes away from my hometown. That was exciting to me that someone was playing professional baseball that close to home. A while longer went by, and there was another familiar name, a player who was in Greenville when I worked there.
Sioux City had an early lead that got away from them at one point. They were down 5-4. One borderline pitch later that was called a ball, and the pitching coach went out to the mound. As someone who’s very familiar with umpiring and the game, I knew exactly what was about to happen. It was time to get the popcorn out, because someone was getting ejected on purpose to fire his team up. That’s exactly what happened. The pitching coach waited for the plate umpire to break up the conference, and he went after him. The pitch was definitely a ball, and he got the call right. This had nothing to do with that though. He got animated with him, and even kicked a little dirt. The amazing thing about it, was that it worked. Sioux City ended up coming back in the top of the 6th, and never looked back.
One small difference about this league, is that they build their roster to win. Some of these established teams will always be better than a team not as established. That’s just the way the game works. Kane County’s new manager is one of the best in the business, but still had to build a team with just a couple months of notice, after the announcement of contracted teams. I see the Cougars improving their roster after their first full offseason, and being able to be more evenly matched with these other teams. They already have a great foundation to build on. I’ll share all of my photos from the game below. Enjoy! This weekend coming up is Father’s Day, so I have one game on the schedule in Madison, WI.