In this week’s edition of My Thoughts Exactly, I talk about the MLB All-Star game, the University of South Dakota’s attempt to keep Bison fans at bay and the recent 12-game winning streak of the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
On Tuesday of this past week, Major League Baseball played the 83rd All-Star game at Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City. The National League won the game 8-0 and earned home field advantage in the World Series for whatever team represents the Senior Circuit.
While this All-Star game lacked drama, much like any exhibition game might, I still believe that the MLB has the best to offer when it comes to showing off the top talent in the game.
You watch the Pro Bowl, well if you watch the Pro Bowl, you notice no effort. It’s at the end of a long season, no one wants to go hard enough to hurt anybody and the game means nothing except for an added talking point when contract talks come up.
The NBA All-Star game is a big pick-up game. In the beginning, guys may start playing hard, but then everybody starts jacking up 3’s, seeing who can have the prettiest dunk on the break away and pass up a normal chest pass for the no look, behind-the-back pass.
The NHL All-Star game goes largely unnoticed because it is hockey and no one really cares outside of those in Minnesota and Canada. Actually, it just might be Canada.
To me, baseball is still a game that will be played hard, even in a glorified exhibition game. I like the fact that it decides home-field advantage for the World Series. I like the fact that every team gets at least one representative and that the coaches try to play everyone one of those players.
I will agree it doesn’t carry the kind of clout it did in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. You can argue that television has killed the All-Star game because in those decades, if you were a Twins fan, you only saw Mickey Mantle when the Yankees visited the Twin Cities and you never saw a Willie Mays or a Hank Aaron.
What the All-Star game did was take all the great players and give the entire country one day to watch them perform. With ESPN, MLB television packages and even the Internet, you’ve already seen Bryce Harper a handful of times and Mike Trout’s game is well known by Bob in Boston.
Even with that, I still love seeing all these players get together on one great night during the summer. Watching Derek Jeter in his 13th All-Star game and Chipper Jones in his 8th sharing the same field with phenoms Bryce Harper and Mike Trout is something you don’t get to see on a regular basis.
I know that people have a problem with All-Star games, but I still think it is something in baseball that still carries a sense of awe with it, even if there are some flaws in it. To me, it will forever be the Mid-Summer Classic.
The North Dakota State University Bison football team has a highly anticipated scheduled game with the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls, S.D. on Saturday, October 20. The game, which is being played on a neutral field, is the first time USD and NDSU have played a conference game against each other since November 1, 2003, when the Bison won 35-3 in Fargo.
On that date, the attendance was 9,001 at the Fargodome. USD is expecting a much larger crowd for this one down in Sioux Falls and are a little worried it is going to be mostly NDSU fans coming to the game. USD Athletic Director David Sayler was quoted in the Argus Leader as saying, “Generally speaking, our fans in the past haven’t been great planners. It’s part of the culture we want to change with this game.”
Reason for the move of this game from Vermillion, S.D., which is where USD is located, to Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls is to try and capture an untapped fan base in Sioux Falls. Now, the fear for the university is NDSU taking over.
To try and calm this fear, they’ve offered a $35 two-game package that runs until August 1, which allows people to buy the tickets before single-game tickets go on sale. You receive tickets to the home game against Colgate and the game in Sioux Falls against NDSU. Assuming Bison fans won’t want to waste money on the game against Colgate on September 8, NDSU will be in Fort Collins, Colorado that weekend taking on Colorado State, USD figures this is a no lose promotion.
Wrong. Bison fans will gladly spend the $35 dollars on two tickets knowing they will go to only one. You have to figure, NDSU fans are going to be driving the three hours there, which is at least $50 dollars in a full tank of gas. Also, fans might want to make a weekend out of it, go down Friday and stay until Sunday. What is an extra $35 if you’re going to do that?
USD has now set itself up for an empty house come the Colgate game. With those tickets snatched up by NDSU, they may see 500 to 1,000 extra empty seats at that game. Am I drawing that number out of left field? Possibly, but Howard Sundall, the President of the USD booster club the Howling Pack, believes NDSU fans will snatch up to 5,000 tickets when they go on sale on August 1.
You give Bison fans a head start at sending a large number of people to Sioux Falls, they are going to jump at it.
Howard Wood Field holds 10,000 but you can expect more to show up for the game. USD has challenged the fans to buy the tickets, giving the promotion the slogan “Tell the Bison to Roam Somewhere Else.” I think it was a bad idea on USD’s part to even try this and will just end up failing.
It will only challenge NDSU fans to buy not only these tickets, but make sure they get most of the tickets that go on sale on August 1. Expect it to be 75 percent NDSU fans come Oct. 20 in Sioux Falls, and expect an equally lopsided score.
As Scott Miller called the final out in the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 6-3 win over the Grand Prairie AirHogs on Sunday, I turned off my radio and sat down to write this column. As I went over the box scores from the RedHawks last 12 games, all wins, I noticed my phone had light up with a message.
It read, “Final – OAK 9 MIN4” There were at least six other notices below that, giving me updates on the Minnesota Twins as they continued their downward plunge into obscurity. I had complete forgotten about them and was not at all upset about that fact.
The RedHawks have been a pleasant distraction from the Twins attempt at playing baseball. What I thought was going to be true for me at the beginning of the season, has now turned into reality halfway through the year for the RedHawks.
Their current 12-game winning streak includes some impressive team stats.
- The team is averaging 7.3 runs per game.
- In 7 of the 12 wins, the RedHawks did not score the go ahead run until the 7th inning or later.
- All 12 wins have come in three separate 4-game series sweeps.
- All 12 wins came against teams with better records at the time. Winnipeg (26-16), Kansas City (27-21) and Grand Prairie (37-14).
- The RedHawks went from being 5 games back at the beginning of this streak, to now holding a 1 game lead over Winnipeg.
It seemed towards the beginning of the season that the RedHawks were struggling to figure it out. They had a 5 and 6-game losing streaks fairly close together in the schedule and were playing under .500 ball for a month.
At the end of June, however, the offense exploded onto the scene. They combined for 28 runs in three wins during a four-game set with Winnipeg, followed up by pushing across a combined 34 runs in a three-game sweep of Lincoln. Even in their one win during a three-game set against St. Paul, they scored 11 runs.
Everybody knows that winning streaks like this take a little luck as well. Two games, the 10-9 and 6-5 win, both over Kansas City, stick out.
On Monday, July 9, the RedHawks were down 9-5 in the bottom of the ninth. They had just pushed across two runs in the inning but were down to their final out and still trailing. Jon Gaston struck out, but Kansas City’s catcher Bubby Williams drops the third strike. The RedHawks would score twice in this mess, allowing them to tie the game.
The RedHawks later win it in the 10th on a walk-off single by Buddy Sosnoskie.
In the 6-5 win, the RedHawks were down 5-0 entering the 8th inning, but managed to tie the game to send into extra innings. In the 10th, Ryan Delgado gets to third after drawing a lead-off walk. With two outs, Carlos Cota strikes out, but Buddy Williams again drops the third strike. He makes a throwing error to first to allow Delgado to score from the third and the RedHawks win.
Sometimes the breaks, and the drops, just keep going you’re way. Let’s hope the RedHawks keep getting the big hits as they continue to try and extend the American Association’s longest winning streak of the season.