Monday, July 17, 2006

The Cape Cod League

So I got a chance to take in my first Cape Cod League game on Saturday, taking in a Hyannis Mets vs. Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox game. The fact that it was Mets-Red Sox was purely coincidental - Hyannis was the only team with a game late Saturday afternoon, and they happened to be hosting Y-D.

First off - it's free. They ask you to make donations and buy raffle tickets and stuff, which we did, but there's no obligation (and the sight of a player in full uniform making the rounds through the stands carrying a bucket of raffle tickets was priceless). Food is cheap, and at the start of the ninth inning, they even made an announcement that the remaining hot dogs were half-price "while they last." Seventy-five cent hot dogs! You can't beat that.

The league also sends a pretty large number of players to the majors, which I didn't know. I always heard the occasional story of a David Eckstein or a Lou Merloni who played there, but there are at least 100 active MLB players, from Jason Varitek to Jason Bay, who played in the Cape League in college. The league is also a lot older than I thought, getting started in 1885. Knowing now what kind of institution the league really is, I'm kind of embarrassed that I didn't get down there for a game sooner.

The game itself was a lot of fun. Despite shoddy field conditions (there were multiple bad hops) and several golden scoring chances, good pitching and questionable managing (you've never seen so many bunt attempts with guys on second and good hitters up) kept the score tied at one. Hyannis pitcher Charlie Furbush was strong through seven innings, but Y-D lefty Donnie Hume was better through eight, striking out nine. Hume, by the way, has a great heater and an even better baseball name - Cory and I are convinced he's ticketed for the majors.

The Hyannis bullpen (and Bad News Bears-esque defense) blew it in the ninth, though, and Y-D held on for the 4-1 win. Their closer, Joshua Fields, looked a lot like Kyle Farnsworth, and it was funny seeing him throw strike three right by the last batter, only to have the umpire call it a ball after the entire Y-D dugout was pouring onto the field. The batter promptly ripped a double to left-center, but Fields blew away the next guy. Good times, and the fans were really into it, which made it more fun.

Other random highlights: seeing and hearing college kids play the game. It was great. They would yell out to baserunners on pick-off moves, talk up the pitcher... it was like watching a little league game with better pitching. When Y-D attempted a squeeze in the fifth inning, the entire Hyannis dugout started screaming. It was incredible how into it they all were. Manny wouldn't have known what to do in either of these dugouts. Also, there was a smoking hot groupie sitting in front of us, and Cory and I spent two innings trying to figure out which Met she was with. I thought it was the catcher, but he's convinced it was a relief pitcher. I guess we'll never know.

Anyway, I give the entire experience two thumbs up. If either of you ever vacation in the Cape, which may be unlikely, you should check it out.


Warren said...

Didn't you miss the beautiful sound of the ping when bat meets ball?

Sully said...

Not exactly... that's one of the reasons I don't watch college baseball in the first place.