Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Take Us Out to the [Minor League] Ball Game

Reno has an AAA baseball club, the Reno Aces. Last night, the SF Giants' AAA affiliate Fresno Grizzlies came to Reno to start a four-game series with the Aces, and (thanks in part to seeing a promotional offer) Lisa and I headed in to Reno around 5 PM to see our first ever AAA game. (We've both been to Giants MLB games, and I've been to San Jose Giants A league games. We never did get around to seeing a Keizer-Salem Volcanos short-season rookie-league game, unfortunately.)

I'd bought tickets on the Grizzlies' side of the field, given that Lisa and I were kitted up in Giants orange-and-black gear (travelswithkuma wore his Mariners shirt as usual, although he did sport orange-and-black beads). However, there was so much sun on that section of the field as the 7:05 game time approached that we opted to watch the first part of the game from the left field seats. There was plenty of room. (Later, the attendance was announced as 4,301, and the park seats about 9,000.)

Here's what it looked like as Brett Pill (late of the SF Giants) headed to the plate in the first inning. The Grizzlies got off to a great start, scoring two runs in the top of the first, but tonight would prove to be one of those back-and-forth affairs where the result was in doubt to the very end.

As the sun went low enough so that the right field seats were in the shade, we moved over to that side. We also upgraded ourselves to better seats and proceeded to get progressively closer to the field as the game went on, eventually ending up in row 4 of section 115 (about where the tall man with the gray hair and orange-and-black jacket is sitting in this photo). The view was great.

As the game started, I was worrying about sunscreen. By the end, frostbite was a concern. It has been hot in Fernley the past two days, although sometimes windy. I did not bother to bring a jacket with me. Lisa only brought a windbreaker. This was a mistake. The weather turned cold and windy. I mean Candlestick-Park-night-game cold and windy. (I used to have a partial season-ticket night-games-only plan, and earned three Croix de Candlestick — Lisa has one herself — so I know of which I speak.) I cursed myself for leaving behind my Giants jacket and t-shirt (layers, always layers), and possibly even the hair-on-fire wig might have helped stave off the cold. Lisa was shivering. I was quite literally chattering for much of the last four innings of the game. If we go back there (and we probably will, particularly when the Griz are playing), we will bring more warm clothing with us, and maybe a blanket as well.

The Grizzlies took a 10-9 lead into the bottom of the ninth innning. Dan Runzler (who also has seen time at San Francisco) came in to try to save the game. Alas for Giants/Grizzlies supporters, the Aces first tied the game, then, with the bases loaded, Aces pinch hitter Ed Easley launched a ball high off the top of the left-center field wall for a walk-off grand slam (the first I've ever seen in person).

The Aces fans were ecstatic — what was left of them. This game reminded me of night games at The 'Stick more than just in the weather. The ballpark was nearly deserted. In the inning break after the top of the ninth, Lisa, Kuma, and I caught the attention of one of the camera operators and we found ourselves on the Big Screen a couple of times. One of the few remaining fans called out to me, "Hey, you're on the TV!"

I said, "Yeah, for all 300 people left watching the game!"

On the way out of the park, we received a reward for making it all the way though this marathon slugfest: coupons for free gelato from the Atlantis hotel. (Renovation members may remember the gelato bar.) That would wait for another day, however, as our first priority was getting out of the cold.

We walked over to the Eldorado Casino, where it was much warmer inside. Our initial plan was to have a late dinner at their coffee shop, but when we got there, there was a big queue and it looked like we might have had difficulty getting served even once we did get seated. So we continued on through the interconnected Eldorado-Silver Legacy-Circus Circus complex to where we'd parked the van in the Circus Circus garage. (I wondered about doing that initially, but the Aces' website lists it as one of the suggested parking locations.) Consequently, roughly half of the walk from the ballpark to the van was under cover, and that was a very good thing.

I started the van and got the heater going. (The AC had been on when we came to town that afternoon.) Then we drove to the Nugget in Sparks, where Rosie's Diner was open, and because it was now after midnight, we could get their $4.99 steak-and-eggs special, which we did. I drank several cups of coffee (decaf, despite being tired, because I knew I needed to be able to sleep once I got home). Feeling less frozen, we returned to the van and I made my way rather gingerly back to Fernley, Lisa working to keep me talking for the drive through the Truckee River Canyon. Falling asleep at the wheel here would have been a very bad thing.

We finally got to bed around 2 AM. I slept in an extra hour this morning and worked later in the afternoon to make it up.

We had a good time, but we learned a valuable lesson about how variable the weather can be at 4000 feet in late spring. We won't make that mistake again. But we probably will go to more games. You get much better views of the game for a lot less money, and the standard of play isn't too far below the Big Show. I think we'll be back.
Tags: baseball, kuma bear, lisa, reno, weather

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