Day 1 of the Beloit Trip was a long one, and yet a lot of fun. Travis and I left my sister’s place by about 6:50, even ten minutes ahead of schedule. In doing so, we were able to drive Highway 494 and get to 94 and out of the Twin Cities Metro area with little traffic. As we did a year ago, we at some breakfast at Perkins in Menomonie. We continued at a nice, leisurely pace until arriving at our hotel in Beloit around 1:30. We checked in to our hotel room and were able to rest up a little before going to the ball field.
I say this all the time, but those of you in the Twin Cities, Beloit is really just a five-and-a-half hour drive. I lived in Bloomington for three years and it wasn’t until the last year there that I realized what a nice trip it was. Hey, if you don’t have any plans for the weekend yet, come to Beloit for games on Saturday night at 7 and then on Sunday at 2. If you’d rather not work on Friday afternoon anyway, take a half-day off and get to Friday night’s game too!
Upon arriving at Pohlmann Field, we were met by Snappers Director of Media and Public Relations Chrissy Scaffidi, who let us in and then chatted with us. She was immensely helpful.
We actually got there even a little bit before batting practice started. Tommy Watkins was getting things ready for BP. When he saw me, he immediately asked how the trip was. When he was set up, he came over and chatted with us for a good ten minutes about all kinds of things. The man is hilarious. Talked about the immergence of Kennys Vargas and how much he has done in his first nine games. I joked, “Yeah, and he finally hit a single last night to go with his six home runs, a triple and two doubles.”
“We got the ball for him after that!”
The pitchers came out next and they were working through a pretty strenuous stretching, running and throwing program. Some of the hitters came out to work on bunting for ten minutes before BP. Stephen Wickens and AJ Pettersen seemingly rolled the ball down the base lines, bunting the ball with perfection. I noted at that time that I might be the only person who could enjoy just sitting and watching bunting practice. So, when it was time to watch actual batting practice, it was great.
The first group contained JD Williams, Wang-Wei Lin, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano, the first four hitters in the lineup. Tommy Watkins really asked them to focus on hitting line drives the first several rounds. All four hit lots of liners. Some say that when certain batters hit, the ball makes a different sound. Many laugh at that notion. But when Miguel Sano connects, it appears that he gets the good part of the bat on the ball and really hits it solidly. He hit line drive after line drive, using the whole field. Rosario also had a tremendous round, but he seems most comfortable letting the ball get a little bit deeper and ripping line drives to the opposite field.
In later rounds, Watkins encouraged the batters to let it fly. Sano hit a couple over the scoreboard in left center. Rosario hit a couple of opposite field homers and one to dead center and pulled a couple. For a guy who is not terribly big, he has just tremendous bat speed. I pointed out on Twitter that it was a joy to watch Sano and Rosario take BP.
We had the opportunity to talk with AJ Pettersen when he came out for BP, just for a minute. He was carrying a big catcher’s bag. As he had written recently, when he is not in the lineup, he enjoys catching bullpens. In the regular game, he was down in the bullpen, wearing the gear and warming up the pitchers until he was used as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning.
If you get to Pohlman Field, and you need more than just a snack to tide you over, I encourage you to go down the right field line. There, you can get all the normal hot dogs and hamburgers and that kind of stuff. However, last night, I was encouraged to get a True Wisconsin Cheeseburger, so I did, and it was quite good. It is a regular cheeseburger, but above the burger and cheese, there are cheese curds and it is dripped in nacho cheese. It’s a lot, but it is good. Friday night, I may go for the Snappy Burger, which as I understand it is a hamburger with a sliced-in-half brat on top of it. I don’t know. I like hamburgers and I like brats, so it would seem to make sense that I would like the Snappy Burger!
And then it was time for the game to start. We sat in the box seats which are literally right at field level. In fact, where I sat was right behind home plate, even with the inside corner of the plate.
Alright, here are just some random observations from the evening. Some were posted on Twitter and I’ll elaborate. Others never made it to Twitters, so I guess they should be considered Twins Daily exclusives!
The Times... Are they, huh, changin'?
It was kind of an awkward thing, but one overriding theme from the evening was the state of the relationship between the Twins and Beloit. It was strange because so many people wanted to talk about it. Clearly it is a huge topics. I would venture to guess that no fewer than eight people there asked me about it. The Snappers are run by a Board of Directors who are most likely in frequent communication with the people in the Twins front office that would be involved in that decision.
Nobody that I talked to wants to see the Twins leave Beloit. One person talked about the player accessibility at the stadium and said that it is what it should be like throughout the minor leagues. One fan said that it was disappointing five or six years ago when the Brewers decided to move from Beloit to Appleton and difficult for fans to get used to the Twins. (However, fans didn’t even show up to watch the local Brewers squad.) They also said that the Twins draft and sign such high quality people who do a lot in the community and do a great job interacting with fans, that those who frequent games just love the Twins organization. However, the other theme from this discussion was the due to lack of attendance and the need for a new stadium, they would completely understand if the Twins decided to move elsewhere.
One person commented that if the Twins move to Cedar Rapids, it will be the worst-kept secret in minor league baseball. That was certainly something I heard from a couple of people. One wise person later told me that according to MLB rules, if an MLB team or a MILB team intends to move, they can not comment until September 1. The Twins re-upped with New Britain. Meanwhile, Rochester and Beloit's contract with the Twins are up at the end of the season. Seemingly, the longer this plays out, the more likely it is that those teams could move.
Obviously for me, if the Twins move out of Beloit, it would be somewhat disappointing. This is my fourth trip over the past three seasons to see Snappers play. I have really enjoyed the atmosphere, but also been able to meet several Snappers fans and the people in their front office are great. Like stated above though, I would understand if the Twins decided to leave Beloit.
Alright, on to some quick hitters:
- Kennys Vargas and Miguel Sano walked onto the field for batting practice together. It was incredible. Vargas made Sano look short and skinny! Late in the game, Travis asked me, “Do you know who else has Vargas’s body type?” Immediately, I responded, “David Ortiz.” We laughed at thinking the same thing, but it is true.
- Since returning to the Snappers, Rosario has had two three hit games and last night he had two hits including a double. He is not wearing any special face protection following his surgery. What could it be? Maybe it’s just being back and seeing pitches well? Or, maybe it’s the cool Mohawk that he is sporting!Speaking of facial hair, there are a couple of really bad mustaches on the Snappers roster. So bad, in fact, that it kind of looks cool. Nate Roberts has the best one. I’ll have to see if I can get a picture!
- The Kane County manager is former Twins outfielder/DH Brian Buchanan. Their pitching coach is another former big leaguer, and a former Gophers pitcher, Jim Brower.
- Of course, while watching the Snappers game, I have to keep tabs on the Twins game. It was fun to read on Twitter how Sam Deduno was pitching (wild but effective… or effectively wild). Late in the game, Brian Dozier hit a two-run homer to give the Twins the 5-0 lead that would be the final score. I talk about how two years ago when I went to Beloit, Mike Trout was playing for Cedar Rapids. I almost forgot the Brian Dozier was playing for Beloit. Yes, I realize that Trout was 18 years old and that Dozier was 22 or 23, but the fact remains that both players flew through the minor leagues and less than two years later were playing in the big leagues. Trout debuted at 19. Dozier debuted at 24.
- This is a very small sample thing, but Miguel Sano has only had two or three errors in the last month. I saw him commit two of three errors in the two games I saw him play at the beginning of June. This is just an observation, but watching him at third base as the pitch is being delivered, he looks so much more focused and prepared to make plays. I think he only had two or three opportunities last night to make plays, and he made them, but the pre-pitch preparation was encouraging.
Alright, that’s it for Day 1 in Beloit. Day 2 has started with waking up, which is a good thing. It sounds as though Twins Daily contributor Jeremy Nygaard will be here for tonight’s game. Also Jim Crikket is saying he’ll be here on Saturday. If anyone else is interest, there will be tickets available, so come on down to Beloit.
I’ll be back tomorrow morning with thoughts from Day 2! If you’d like to follow my four days in Beloit, there are a few ways to do that. I do hope to blog a little bit each day. I also have set up a forum page where I may occasionally update on the goings on, and you can ask questions and such. Obviously you can do the same in the comments below. But you’ll also want to either follow me on Twitter, or just bookmark my Twitter feed for more updates.