25 June 2010

Mustangs v Great Falls Games 1-4: Need To Work on Fundamentals

The first home stand of the young Mustang season is now history. They looked fairly good in the first game but then found a number of different ways to lose the next three games.

Much of Dehler Park remains the same as last year: the sun is still brutal on the fans in most places, and especially for the 1st baseman and right fielder in the early innings, the food is pretty good, especially the Johnsonville brats and the Stang burger, though they may be cutting some corners on the Philly cheesesteak: it was fairly dry and the cheese was not even softened. I saw one poor guy lean over and the cheese dropped off the sandwich!

Only one of the four games was interrupted by clowns trying to get our attention. That's pretty good for a minor league game. With a full house why mess with pathetic extra attractions?

A good selection of beers is available including some very nice local brews. Thank Heaven someone finally turned the volume down on the announcer, at least in the infield, and he seems to have more or less gotten over his cheerleader phase. The wide concrete plaza all around the park is perfect for looking over the opposite sex while strolling around, and for having a conversation with your friends over a beer. Or to meet up with characters from Custer's Last Stand in the 19th Century, see right.

It would be nice to have a place on the scoreboard for the speed of the pitch. They do that in Missoula and Great Falls and other places too I hear.

The Mustangs seem to have some strong infield players though they all seem to have a problem with the wooden bat, that is, instead of standing close to the plate as most metal bat players do, in order to reach the outside corner, now they must stand further back in order not to be sawed off by an inside pitch and do a sort of lunge in order to hit the outside pitch. This is not an easy thing to do. It takes practice.

And the pitchers need to get up enough courage to pitch inside, seldom done in metal bat circles, because even the weak hitters can bloop the ball over the infield when jammed. So this takes time too and is not always easy.

Infielders fielding seemed pretty reasonable, and only their batting could be criticized (see the first paragraph above). It would have been nice to see a safety squeeze on the first pitch of the suspended game—one out, men on first and third—when it restarted the next afternoon. It would have been over with the Mustangs winning. Especially when the batter is having trouble with the strike zone. Instead they slowly bleed to death with feeble tentative swings and pitching that couldn't quite close the door until the 14th when it mercifully ended. So maybe that was a manager error.

Some of the outfielders seemed unaccustomed to those positions, or maybe the big sky made it difficult to pick up balls off the bat. A few accurate throws would have saved a few runs, you know, to cut off men etc. As you can see above there is a lot of room to cover in the outfield so perhaps those of us in the grandstand should be more forgiving.

I was pleased to see some aggressive running on the base paths, i.e. from 1st to 3rd, running and hitting, even an occasional steal, but I was puzzled by the lack of finesse in decision making in some of those same situations. I guess there are a lot of things to learn when you first turn pro, but I thought basic base running was taught in high school and college and even in the Caribbean.

The season and the team does not look hopeless. I like the catchers and I think some of the pitchers will come around because they seem capable of getting it up there at 90+ mph. Pitcher Daniel Tuttle looked good in the opener, and Billy Hamilton, the shortstop, looked like a surprisingly strong arm. He could be a closer if the real pitchers fail. Donald Lutz of Regensburg Germany, the first baseman, looks like he has some pop in his bat. The Caribbean contingent needs to work on their skills; they seem willing to run.

There is more to say about the Mustangs but this entry is getting too long. By the way, I have seen a sports blog here in Billings. It looks worthwhile. Go here.

6 comments:

The Retail Girl said...

wow! I grew up in Billings and went to Mustangs games every summer, how much things have changed! I remember when they only had hot dogs and really gross grease burgers. Forget the variety of beers! I also remember that people still smoked in the stands, those old wooden stands. Incredible! Keep up on the pictorial updates!
Caroline

Ken & Carol said...

Caroline:

So you're from the days of old Cobb Field. I had a great seat next to the home dugout for over 20 years. Now, my location isn't so good, mainly because there are no good locations anywhere in the park. Wind, sun and rain are free to wreak their havoc. Thanks for commenting

The Retail Girl said...

I like to frequent you blog to see pictures of the old days. Initially it was when I found a picture of St. Patricks remodled, what a shock! If I remember correctly Ramada Drive was close to where I lived, Nye lane. Does that ring any bells? You know surprisingly the thing I miss the most was that my mom would take me to Gainan's Florist in downtown and we would go to the greenhouse and get coffee or hot chocolate from a coffee cart in the winter. I miss that a lot, haven't ever see a greenhouse do that.
Fun memories! Thank you for your insight!

Ken & Carol said...

Hi Caroline: Thanks for your note. You encouraged me to do more of the same. So be careful what you ask for. Ramada is about three blocks west of 17th. By the way, we now have at least 3 stoplights on Rimrock: Zimmerman, 17th and 13th. Might be some further out I don't get too far west. Nye Lane sounds like it is fairly close to MSUB, which as you remember used to be EMC.
Feel free to put in your own memories in the comments section of places I take pictures of. Not a very good sentence I'm afraid. Sorry.

Gainan's is still downtown, though they also have a place in the Heights. I think they have given up the idea of a coffee shop. Jim Gainan sings in the choir at St Pat's and cantors fairly often. Ciao.

The Retail Girl said...

Haha! I remember Jim Gainan cantoring! Blonde guy right? I was five years old when we moved to montana and completely in love with that man! haha. Can't help but laugh.

Ken & Carol said...

Yes, he is still blonde and now married with three children. He writes a good gardening column for the Gazette too.

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