It could be suggested that the Negress was following in Tom Glavine’s footsteps but slightly out of chronological order. She and a few other SABR members journeyed to Greenville, SC for a minor league game between the Greenville Drive and the Rome Braves. This is the South Atlantic League, low A ball where none of the players look old enough to be playing anything other than T-ball. Fluor Field is a replica of Fenway Park (the Drive are a Red Sox affiliated team). It’s nestled in downtown Greenville and is right across the street from the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum. Jackson’s story is so American regardless of how you feel about his being banned from entering the Hall of Fame. The small house where he spent the last 10 years of his life is the museum. The Negress met Jackson’s great grand-nephew who was wearing his uncle’s World Series ring. Jackson had the ring made from the watch charms that were the standard of the day. Outside of the small house was a local youth baseball team handing out goodie bags and cold water to the visitors. The kids were lively and cute. All were wearing those braided neckbands that are all the rage in the pros.
Boys at play in Greenville
Across the street, the Drive and the Braves played a game that was something of a typical single A mess with pretty good pitching on the Drive side. I had some butter pecan ice cream which was so rich it ought to be illegal. I also had a Jim Rice Bowl, which was tasty and almost healthful compared to other ballpark fare. I also had a Yuengling draft, which wasn’t exactly local but it wasn’t Bud.
Travels in beer and baseball concluded at Nationals Park when Steven Strasburg got torched by the free swinging Marlins on a sauna-like night. The Negress enjoyed two Leinenkugel Summer Shandys and a bottle of water, but not the game. For the first time in her recent memory, she bailed on a game early. Bigger adventures await.
Note the missus over his shoulder
Although you may have read that the Negress took quite a bit of wine out of Northern California, it’s been beer and baseball of late. She attended the Society of American Baseball Research convention in Atlanta in early August. While there, she fell in love with the local brew SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. The convention presented one minor downer (the Negress was not deemed fit for the executive director job but may have found her calling as a full-on seamhead elsewhere) but loads of fun, especially a lovely but slightly obsessive presentation of Peanuts baseball statistics as gleaned from the strips. A lot of things about SABR are lovely and obsessive simultaneously, but it allows the chronic seamheads a place to babble senselessly at length about their love of the game. We are something of a dying breed and I am often only one of two or three flies in the buttermilk (one of the other flies pointed out there were more minorities at Tea Party events, a grim but accurate observation).
However, the Negress was happy to get soaked to her drawers to see Tom Glavine’s number retired by the Braves. Glavine is one of her favorites since she saw him pitch at Richmond when she lived there and was one of the worst sportswriters ever to draw breath. Besides his being a lefty, she loved him as a union spokesman. Oops, is the red diaper showing? Anyway, Glavine and his drop-dead hot missus brought the five kids to the ceremony. The four Glavine men threw out the first pitch. Only the youngest is a righty. Dad will take care of that we bet. Another reason for swoonage was seeing Billy Wagner pitch even though he blew a save (full disclosure: the Negress hates the Braves and considers Glavine and Wagner an example of when bad teams happen to good people. She’s rooting for the Phillies in the East since the Nats are out of it) and the Giants won. Wagner is a lefty, who was born a righty. We like it when they come over to our side.
I did drink some indifferent wine at the hotel bar and met with members of SABR’s Dead Presidents Club for some lamenting and catching up. Sometimes trips to the bar were maneuvers of avoidance of members whose inability to grasp reality makes them impossible to stomach. Speaking of indifference, Turner Field is one of the more forgettable major league ballparks around. The stench of corporate ownership wafts over the place. The Negress wonders why baseball hasn’t grokked to the locavore thing. Other than the Sweetwater and some ice cream, everything edible and potable was the usual crap (Woodbridge wines in little bottles, Bud everywhere). Hey, baseball marketing people, you might get some different paying customers in the place if you offer something people can identify with.
Also, in case you need more evidence that Atlanta is a bipolar baseball burg, during the hour plus rain delay the team advertised their final series of the season with the Phillies, offering a free REO Speedwagon concert for the last game of the season, which if the present standings hold up, could have postseason implications. Don’t they trust the product on the field to make people show up? Geez.
Best overheard line: As Braves hotshot outfielder Jason Heyward made a one-handed catch and an older black man shouted from the 200 seats: “Don’t you nonchalant that son. You ain’t been around long enough. Catch it with two hands.” Advice to live by.