Category Archives: American Association

Sioux Falls Stadium, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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Sioux Falls Stadium, Sioux Falls, SOUTH DAKOTA

State number:  37
States to go:  13

Number of games:  1
First game:  July 8, 2016 (Sioux Falls Canaries 18, Winnipeg Goldeyes 9)

(Click on any photo to see a full-size version.)

There are many, many ways to get a low score on this website.

I’ve been places where there is no local feel. I’ve been places where the crowd was disinterested. I’ve been places that were out of control with their promotions.

But Sioux Falls was strange in the way it seemed to get so many things wrong. I was not impressed, I’m afraid.

I will admit that I am not predisposed to enjoy independent-league ball. I have trouble keeping track of the narrative and can’t quite get behind the bigger stories involved. I’m sure that if I knew the ballplayers, I would have a better sense of this, but since the majority of the players are out of affiliated ball and (save for a few) won’t be getting back in, the narrative isn’t exciting to me. I respect the ballplayers for making money doing what they love, yes. And they’re better at baseball than I am at most things. But I can’t follow the story, and I like stories.

The canaries weren’t doing any favors here, either. Their program had literally nothing on their opponent!

No names, no backstory, no standings to be found…I couldn’t figure out who was on the other team without doing some on-line searches on the smart phone. I found this really problematic. It sends a message to me, and not a good one: that the baseball isn’t the most important thing going on.

And on this night, the Sioux Falls Canaries and the Winnipeg Goldeyes were not

playing very good baseball. Nobody could seem to pitch, field, or stop anyone from scoring. The game got tedious in a pretty big hurry, and if a baseball-head like me is saying that, it’s a pretty severe problem.

Then, things were awfully expensive. I have never been to a ballpark that charged for a bouncy-house run before. My children are still of the age where they might want to ricochet off of pneumatic plastic for a while before first pitch, and I have had them do so in multiple ballparks. Never paid a cent. Now, my kids were 1200 miles away, but if they had been there, the idea that I’d have to shell out ten bucks for them to burn off pre-game energy…I found that especially problematic.

And then came a hilarious blooper.

My buddies went out to get a beer. They’re beer snobs—they have been known to call American commercial beer

as “making love in a canoe” (a synonym for “fucking close to water”). So when I saw one of them come back with a very light-yellow beer in a clear plastic cup, I knew something was amiss. They like their beer darker. I wondered aloud what was up.

Turns out that they each went to a spot and were looking up at the list of beers, when the person behind the bar said “You know, Miller Lite and Coors Light are free.”

“Free?”

“Because of your wristbands.”

My friends were not wearing wristbands. But they gave them free beer.

I cannot even believe that this happened. Apparently, they wandered into a group setting without being stopped, and then managed to get a free beer. But when the whole ballpark feels a bit disinterested,

hey, why not? I learned that free making-love-in-a-canoe beer is more valuable to my friends than paying for the good stuff. I’m not sure when or how that knowledge will aid me in the future, but I’ve got that knowledge now and will keep it.

The game became so draggy and so crooked-number-y that I didn’t fight very hard when the suggestion was made that we abandon it in the 8th inning and head back for some Quickword competition. And, again, if I’m the one bolting a baseball game, it’s a pretty serious problem.

So I hope that Sioux Falls has turned it around. Seem like some nice people there in South Dakota, and athey deserve a better experience—a less apathetic experience—than I got on that night. 

BALLPARK SCORE:

REGIONAL FEEL:  3/10.  I do not remember anything here.  The view is of a suburb that could be in any of the 50 states. 

CHARM:  2.5/5.  There is nothing charming about cash grabs.

SPECTACLE:  2.5/5.  Don’t remember much here.

TEAM MASCOT/NAME:  2/5.  Canaries?  Really?  Maybe there’s a local reason I don’t know. Here is Cagey, the chief canary.

AESTHETICS 2.5/5.  Not much of a view, and the concourses were really unattractive.

PAVILION AREA: 1/5.  One of the most unattractive I have ever seen, and they wanted money.

SCOREABILITY:  0/5.  No visiting team rosters, no interest in what happened on the field. Scoreboard regularly wrong. The baseball was tertiary to the experience, and the experience wasn’t even much.

FANS 3.5/5:  Fine.

INTANGIBLES 0/5.  The baseball was horrible (errors, walks, nobody getting anybody out) and the experience was both expensive and disinterested.  Not a very good night, I’m afraid (although I still like baseball).

TOTAL 17/50

BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:

Pretty much everything one doesn’t want to see. Nobody could get anyone out. Twelve walks, a catchers’ interference, several errors, a hit batsman, passed balls…ick.

JC Linares hit two home runs for the Canaries, a grand slam and a two-run homer.

Newman Outdoor Field, Fargo, North Dakota

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Newman Outdoor Field, Fargo, NORTH DAKOTA
Number of states: 35
Number to go: 15
First game: July 7, 2016 (St. Paul Saints 3, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 1)

Newman Outdoor Field tucked back into the campus of North Dakota State University, and was a fine place to watch a ballgame. It did really well in the do-you-know-where-you-are test. Some of this was simply a matter of being surrounded by

the university, one of the bigger facets of living in Fargo.  My pre-game circumnavigation of the ballpark brought me quite a few NDSU buildings, labeled as such, which was nice. It was a neighborhood ballpark, and the campus was the neighborhood.

Some North Dakota touches were found embedded in the design. For starters, can you do better than an “ND Corn” foul pole? That’s a pretty nice ad, appropriately maize-colored, and naturally integrated into the ballpark. Then there’s the way they named the press box after a local sportscaster, Steve Miller, who had passed away not long before.  I just like stuff that says “Hey, we’re about [local site],” and I got that from North Dakota on the whole.

We had even visited the Roger Maris museum earlier in the day. It was as understated as the guy was. Tucked into a mall (so many Carson Wentz jerseys for sale, even though the NDSU alumnus hadn’t yet started his rookie year),

there are a few items of Maris memorabilia and an opportunity to watch a short movie on him while sitting in old Yankee Stadium seats. I felt like it was appropriate that a guy who didn’t much care for the spotlight was memorialized in such a tiny, out-of-the-way, unobtrusive way. Worth taking the trip.Our North Dakota day was accentuated by a massive thunderstorm that delayed the start of the ballgame by a couple of hours. We didn’t get going until after 9PM, and didn’t get finished until after midnight. But hey—that only accentuates the vacation!  Plus, photos of double rainbows past the foul pole are rare: good to take advantage of those opportunities.

We sat behind the Redhawks’ dugout, and I was impressed with the team’s maturity. The rain delay meant that the fans were a couple hours’ drunker than they might have been otherwise, and there was one who was continually

annoying people in the dugout. At first, players engaged him (he was a relatively friendly drunk, thankfully, unlike whoever threw the tennis ball at South Bend or the icky people who chanted “Ichiro” at a Korean-born player in the Tri-Cities). But it would not stop. It was relentless.  I just wanted the dude to go home, but he just kept talking, and he got a little more agitated as the night went on. In the end, I was bothered enough by it that I headed down to the dugout after the game to say I was impressed by the players’ restraint. They thanked me: said the guy wasn’t that big a deal. But I’ve been to a ton of baseball games, and I felt like it was.

The following morning, as we left town on our way south to the other Dakota, news of police shootings in Dallas dampened our mood. As I called my Congresswoman and we discussed how awful this, as well as recent shootings of unarmed Black men by police, was so tragic,  we noticed the unmistakable massive tent of a

batting cage a couple of blocks off the freeway. There was something very wholesome about seeing that site at that moment. We turned the car around, of course, and took some cuts. There is something satisfying about giving a baseball or softball a big thwack when the world seems to be going sideways. I can’t play a lick, but it sure seems like baseball is a good way for me to feel good in a rough world. I’ll stay to it.

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So nicely done, Fargo. Way to stay local, way to put on a nice, reserved show.

BALLPARK SCORE

REGIONAL FEEL:  8/10. 
Some nice North Dakota touches.

CHARM 3.5/5: 
Not bad here overall.  Liked the corn on the foul poles.

SPECTACLE: 
2.5/5.  Don’t remember too much.

TEAM MASCOT/NAME: 
2.5/5. Don’t remember a mascot. Name is fine.

AESTHETICS 4.5/5. 
Can’t beat a double rainbow.

PAVILION AREA 3/5: 
Couldn’t walk around the ballpark, but could watch the game while getting food.

SCOREABILITY 4/5

FANS 2/5. 
Had to deduct for the drunk dudes being jerks to the Redhawks.  REALLY overdoing it.

INTANGIBLES 4/5. 
The rain delay actually added to the experience. I loved being able just to say “ah, the hell with it. I’m on vacation: let’s stay up past midnight.”

TOTAL 34/50

BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:

Pitchers’ duel is won by Eric Veglahn (3 hits over 7 1/3 IP) over Taylor Stanton (8 hits over 7 IP).
Nate Hanson’s 2-run double is the big knock of the game for St. Paul.