Friday, August 24, 2007

Omaha loves Mike Sweeney

Michael John Sweeney may only have played one of the games of tonight's double-header in Omaha, but Sweeney Fever left the whole crowd feeling happy and energized through the last out of a fantastic second game. Other than a couple of hits, Omaha couldn't get a whole lot going in the first game. Maybe they were feeling rusty afer not playing a night game since last Saturday. Anyhoodle, the first game was mostly forgettable, as the Round Rock pitching and defense had their way with Omaha.

The second game was the opposite. From the first pitch, Tyler Lumsden and his teammates showed that they owned Round Rock. Lumsden's very first pitch was hit weakly right back to him, and that set the pace for an awesome game. Lummy did not allow a hit for the first three innings, and only walked one in that time. That led me to wonder: If a Minor League pitcher threw a no-hitter in a 7-inning game, would it still go down in the books as a no-no? In every other sense, these rain-shortened games count as regular games, but would a pitching accomplishment like that still get recognized despite not having the opportunity to play nine full? It didn't matter tonight, because shortly after I started thinking about that, Round Rock came through with a single. Bummer. However, Lumsden never did allow a runner to reach scoring position. Lumsden then gave way to another show of Musser Being Musser. Before the 2nd game, I educated a couple of kids on how awesome Neal Musser is, so I hope they hang on to his autograph. After his work tonight, he's pitched 50.1 innings and lowered his ERA from 0.38 to 0.35.

(Side note about Neal Musser: One night during an I-Cubs game, the Rosenblatt Stadium radar gun clocked one of Musser's fastballs at 100. I later asked him about it, because I hadn't heard that he could throw in triple digits. Sure enough, the gun was being a little kind to him. He did say that he asked whoever was charting pitches that night to use the 100 mph readout on his charts, but they went with a meager 98 or so instead. Hard life...a 98 mph fastball and a 0.35 ERA. Man I love Neal Musser.)

Anyhoodle, in the bottom of the third, Omaha started nickel-and-diming the RR defense to death. By the time Ryan Shealy came up to bat, the O-Royals had already scored a run on a walk and a couple of singles. Shealy took the first pitc h for a strike as the two runners waited on base. From my spot on top of the dugout, I heard a little kid say something about "It's OK, he'll get a hit next time." The next pitch met Shealy's bat and made the most perfect sound I've ever heard. I knew as soon as I heard that crack that the ball would be way out of the park, and yet I did not allow myself to breathe or move until it cleared the wall. I could listen to that bat sound all day...especially if it's Shealy's bat, as he's one of my favorites.

All told, each team was shut out once tonight in Part I of a double-double-header. It turns out that two consecutive rainouts means two consecutive double-headers. After tonight's games, I got to hand out free copies of Baseball America while my coworkers handed out free loaves of Sara Lee bread as part of their Great Whole Grain Giveaway. In honor of Sweeney's time with Omaha, I'm going to get biblical here:
"Man does not live by free Sara Lee bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the latest issue of Baseball America."

...isn't that how it goes?

After all the fans left, I went to clock out, only to discover a ton of Chinese food in the offices. Turns out that two people each thought they were in charge of getting food for the Express players, so one had gotten Chinese food and one had ordered Outback Steakhouse food. Of course the guys went with the Outback, so the O-Royals employees got to feast on free Chinese food. Hooray!

Quick notes:
- I'm writing this on my boyfriend's computer, as I made the mistake of moving my computer to Lincoln a few days early. Thanks J!
- I wish Baseball America was always free.
- I never thought I'd be excited to go to Des Moines -- it is one of my least favorite cities -- but I'm pretty pumped to go on a bus trip to see Omaha play the I-Cubs next Friday. For just $30, you can join this trip too!
- Joe Posnanski is not going to be blogging for a while, because he'll be working on a new book. The good news is that I will have several "extra" free hours a day while I'm not reading his blog, but the bad news is there are few activities worthy of filling that void. Sigh.

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