Boys of Summer

With nothing better to do after work today, I decided, on a whim, to walk over to the bus station and catch a bus to the ballpark. Why not? Today was opening day in the Northwest League, which the Spokane Indians are a member of. The Northwest League, along with the New York-Penn League, are short-season Class A league, where many fresh-out-of-college draftees end up.

Avista Stadium at game time was perfect. It was 74 degrees, breezy, and clear. Over the horizon, you could see the rolling emerald hills of Spokane County. Families were all over the place. Hot dogs were affordable. The joys of minor league ball: players having fun and working hard to get to The Show, gimmicks and side attractions every inning, and the quaint surroundings of the stadium itself -- the County Fairgrounds. A barn and grain silo sat directly over left field. More than anything, that defined the hometown feel.

Two families set up shop on either side of me -- 10 year olds, constantly asking questions and taking the game in. I stood over the right field fence, literally standing above the players in the bullpen. I listened to a couple of the players chat among themselves, in Spanish. I, of course, understood none of it.

At the start of the game, the Indians starter threw six straight balls, a couple of those by the catcher. The second batter struck out, though the baserunner stole his way to second, advanced to third on another wild pitch, and eventually scored. I watched one of the pitchers warm up through the second inning, standing and throwing literally five feet from my face. He came in to pitch after the starter threw another wild pitch to score an AquaSox run.

The Indians scored two in the bottom of the first. The PA announcer mentioned at some point that if the Indians score six runs or more during the game, everybody in attendance gets a free chalupa from Taco Bell. The folks around me were debating whether this meant six in one inning or six for the whole game. The Indians put this to rest by scoring six in the bottom of the fourth inning, capped off by a big home run by their DH. (The promotion was six for the whole game, heh.)

I left after the fourth inning (Indians leading 10-3), when the sun started sneaking past the horizon and the temperature started veering below 65. I forgot to wear a coat -- granted, I came here straight after work anyway, it's not like I'd planned for the event. Either way, it was getting chilly, it was still windy, and I wanted to get home before it got too dark.

Indians won, 15-3. Yay for my new home team, eh? Seriously, I needed a fix of some good ol' baseball, in-person. Fun game, good crowd, great weather, and hell -- I get a free chalupa out of it. Can't ask for too much more than that.

Photos are up. I'm particularly in love with this one and this one.