Tag Archives: Modesto Nuts

A season without a seat in the stands

I’m looking back on the 2012 season and realizing that this is one of those rare years in which I didn’t see a major league baseball game in person.

Having switched jobs and coasts in May, I left California before having a chance to see the Giants or Athletics play at home. My two cross-country drives to get our cars out east were too hurried to route by way of a big-league stadium. And once I got east for good, I never found the time to run down to Philadelphia or head up to New York to catch the Phillies, Yankees or Mets.

I managed to catch plenty of games on TV, radio and especially on the MLB app on my iPhone. I did get to see one minor league game on each coast, the Nuts in Modesto and the Thunder in Trenton. Thank goodness for that.

Also on the plus side, we finally got ourselves high-definition TV this summer, and it’s been great to see those major league parks come alive on the screen in our family room.

But as for seeing a game live and in person, I’ll have to invoke the eternal cry of Cubs fans: Wait ’til next year!

[Note: This post was composed during the baseball playoffs but I never posted it until now.]

A great night with the Modesto Nuts

I caught my first ball game of the year at John Thurman Field in Modesto, watching the hometown Nuts defeat the Stockton Ports 4-0. It was a special night, hanging out with a couple of buddies from work and getting an unexpected tribute from the ball club.

Before the game along the concourse I came across Mike Gorassi, the Nuts’ vice president and general manager and a very nice guy. I mentioned that it would likely be my last Nuts game for a while, as I’m taking a new job back east next month.

We had great seats behind home plate, and in the sixth inning the Nuts’ crowd-stirring guy “Mike on the Mic” sauntered over and took a seat next to me. Next thing I knew, I was on camera on the big screen as Mike told the crowd about me and presented me a special Nuts baseball.

That was pretty cool, a delightful reminder of how special baseball is. The ball will be displayed prominently in my new office, to which I’ll bring fond memories of many wonderful days and nights at the old ball game in Modesto.

Caps, logos and the aesthetics of baseball

While baseball teams have plenty of crass commercialism in the names of their arenas and stadiums, at least the uniforms aren’t sullied by corporate logos as they are in other countries.

Over at ESPN.com, Jim Caple laments that major league baseball team logos are becoming more corporate, blander and not nearly as much fun as some of the old cartoon logos of yore. Until reading Caple’s piece, I hadn’t looked at logos from that perspective. And I think he’s dead on.

Caple ranks the logos of all 30 Major League teams, with the Mets at the top with their classic blue and orange skyline view of New York encircled by a baseball. Last on Caple’s list is Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo logo for the Indians, which I summoned up the nerve to slam in my first post on this blog nearly three years ago.

He also mentions his ambivalence toward the old Milwaukee Brewers blue and yellow M&B “mitt” logo, which he says was either very clever or too clever. My feeling, exactly. (And I’m not crazy about the shock of wheat on the Brewers’ current cap. In principle I’m fine with a reference to beer for the Brew City’s team, but the shock of wheat is just a bit too specific to Miller Brewing Co. for my tastes.)

Caple also tosses in a delightful of surprise for this central California baseball fan, citing the Modesto Nuts’ logo as something superior to the Houston Astros’ logo.

Baseball is a business, and the teams have the right and the obligation to position their brands in the marketplace. A stylish logo or uniform won’t get a team any extra runs late in the game, but it can help bring a few extra fans through the turnstiles to root for the home team.

 

 

 

 

A crazy day for baseball!

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Here it is, nearing the end of Week 2 of the Major League Baseball season and I’ve yet to post on anything. This is a good day on which to break my silence. Ubaldo Jimenez (shown in a photo from earlier this season) no-hit the Atlanta Braves, and as I write this the Mets and Cardinals are still battling in the 19th inning in St. Louis. And in Pittsburgh, my daughter took my infant granddaughter to her first baseball game as the Pirates came from behind to defeat the Reds 5-4 in the ninth inning.

Whew!

A side note: In 2005, Jimenez spent the first half of 2005 playing for the Class A Modesto Nuts. I saw him pitch at least once, and he’s the first minor-leaguer I can recall seeing who has gone on to do something outstanding in the majors. So did Jimenez make The Modesto Bee all-decade team? No.

An inspiring story from the minor leagues

The 2009 baseball season had barely begun on April 9 when Mike Cameron of the Milwaukee Brewers cracked a line drive through the box. The ball struck San Francisco Giants pitcher Joe Martinez in the forehead, causing fractures and a nasty concussion — and jeopardizing the young pitcher’s career.

Martinez is playing baseball again, pitching for the San Jose Giants in the Class A California League. He is scheduled to pitch tonight in Modesto against the Nuts.

In an interview with The Modesto Bee, Martinez says the continual replays of his scary injury don’t bother him. And he doesn’t hold anything against Cameron, who sent him a gift of Milwaukee sausages after the incident. That’s one thoughtful, gracious young man under the Giants cap.

In praise of minor league baseball

If there’s anything more American than baseball, it’s minor league baseball. I grew up knowing only the big-league variety, although one could argue that the Cleveland Indians of the 1960s and 70s were anything but major league.

Over the past decade I’ve become a fan of minor league ball, which has enjoyed a resurgence across the nation. That’s not hard to understand. Games in the minors are more accessible. Tickets are cheap, and concession food is reasonably priced. There’s not a bad seat in most stadiums, and many franchises go all out to entertain you before the game and between innngs.

I went to John Thurman Field in Modesto last night and unexpectedly found myself among the largest crowd ever to attend a minor league ballgame there. The Modesto Nuts, the cheekily named Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, hosted the Stockton Ports. The stadium was swarming with families as scores of kids took part in pre-game karate and cheerleading demonstrations. Even better, as the second half of the California League season nears a close, the Nuts put much of their merchandise on sale outside the team store.

I couldn’t resist buying a Nuts cap. I had intended to buy the black home cap featuring team mascot Al the Almond, but these were fitted caps (only $15!) and my size was puzzlingly missing. So instead I chose the snazzy Wally the Walnut road cap shown above on the roof of the Nuts’ dugout. The cap goes nicely with the black Nuts T-shirt I received as a birthday present last summer from my in-laws.

While the crowd was alternately watching the game and being distracted by the steady stream of nachos, churros and hot dogs being brought up into the stands, the Nuts managed to defeat the Ports 4-3. Fireworks followed the game.

It doesn’t get any more American than that.