May 27 thru 31
- Battle Cats 3 games, Lugnuts 2 games
- Lugnuts are 25-29 (.463)
- Third place, five games behind the Whitecaps, three behind the Battle Cats, in a virtual tie with the Wizards.
I think we can write off the half-season title; frankly, they look like they’ve lost interest. These games weren’t really horrible, but the team’s not playing anywhere near its potential. They’re stale. They come to the park and play the games, but there’s no fire there.
There are some bright spots: [Gary] Coffee’s getting some hits, and his defense has been terrific (ignore the stats; the errors were nearly all in April). [Mark] Quinn was hitting well all month, though his defense has weakened a bit. [Carlos] Febles has played excellent defense (he looks a little wacky, though) and has been getting on base a couple times per game. [Mark] Melito’s not exciting, but he’s steady.
There’s so much potential on this team. But it’s not being delivered well.
I watched Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games in Battle Creek. Tuesday’s had one lousy inning, but [Larry] Wimberly was throwing really effective junk at the guys. ([Doug] Blosser, [Scott] Key, and [Mike] Robbins sat two rows in front of me, with the radar gun; it was interesting.) On Wednesday, [Mike] Spinelli wasn’t throwing junk at them and was really quite excellent.
C.O. Brown [Stadium]’s a short trip from Lansing, and good seats are nearly always available. I highly recommend the excursion.
The garden survived the freeze. We managed to get a lot weeded and planted over the weekend despite excursions to Saint Johns and South Bend. One blossom on the azalea….
It often seemed to me that no one properly appreciated Gary Coffee, and I occasionally devoted some of my digital ink to defending him.
Coffee hit 11 homers for the Gulf Coast Royals in 1995 and was billed as the ’96 Lugnuts’ star in preseason publicity. I’m not even sure that was a deliberate effort; I think it was just something Luggie manager Brian Poldberg said in a press conference that got blown out of proportion by the local media. Nonetheless, the man arrived in Lansing with a label, and when he turned out to be just another ballplayer some of the fans turned on him.
With Lansing in 1996 Gary turned in sub-standard but by no means awful numbers–.238 BA, 11 HR, 59 RBIs in an injury-shortened 105 game season. To all appearances he played and worked hard, and he defended first base decently. There’s nothing in that record that deserved derision, or even disappointment.
Coffee’d be back in Lansing in ’98, where he’d post similar numbers. At this point he was no longer considered a major prospect, and the fans were more sane about him. Before the next season he’d retired, returned to Georgia, and got on with his life.
Hey! I actually mentioned opposition players! Two of ’em, in fact!
Confession time, I guess: For most of the twelve seasons Battle Creek had a Midwest League team I was a season ticket holder at C.O. Brown Stadium. I just see the Battle Cats differently than I saw other MWL teams. It certainly shows up in my LugNotes.
CO Brown’s a great place to watch baseball. It’s not really an old place, but it’s an old-style stadium with a high roof; the first row’s seats are really close to the action. I still highly recommend a visit. The ballyard was originally built to host city league games, but those have moved to adjacent diamonds in Battle Creek’s Bailey Park. The Michigan High School Athletic Association holds tournament games in this yard every June. And it now hosts the Battle Creek Bombers of the Northwoods League, a wooden bat summer league for college and university players. MSU outfielder Cam Gibson and pitcher Zak Wilkerson are playing for the Bombers this summer. (Cam’s also Kirk Gibson’s son. Speaking of raising expectations.)
As I said, I still recommend the place, though it’s not nearly as fancy as
Olds ParkCooley Stadium. In fact, I was there just last night.
In the event you’ve just stumbled onto this entry, here’s an explanation of what I’m up to.