Tired of that 45 minute drive, $12.00 parking, $30.00 tickets for OF seats and another evening of disappointing baseball in Arlington?
What you need to remember is that baseball can still be enjoyed, that some stadiums are located in urban areas where you can have a little fun before and after the game. Believe it or not there there is a field of dreams like that a little more than a three hour drive from the Metroplex. I’m suggesting a trip up I-35 to Oklahoma City to see the Redhawks.
AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, the home of the Rangers AAA team is, in my never humble opinion, one of the best weekend baseball trips that every Ranger fan should think about taking.
Located in the Bricktown district of downtown Oklahoma City, the ballpark is a beautiful piece of architecture that celebrates the history of baseball in Oklahoma. The streets surrounding "The Brick" are named for Oklahoma natives: Mickey Mantle, Joe Carter and The Flaming Lips (I’m not making that up).
The revitalized Bricktown area includes dozens of restaurants – incuding the pricey Mickey Mantle’s Steak House right across from the ballpark. It’s worth walking into the steak house entrance to see the glass case containing The Mick’s memorabila. There are two hotels a block away from the ballpark – a Residence Inn and Mariott Courtyard. Also within walking distance of Bricktown Ballpark are a Harkins Movie Theatre, Bass Pro Shop and Toby Keith’s "I Love This Bar". Boatrides are available on the small canal that runs through Bricktown. Before the game you can sit on the patio at Coach’s located over left field and watch the Redhawks batting practice while enjoying a margarita with some chips and queso.
About 7 block walk south is the Oklahoma City National Memorial. I’ve been there during the day and when it’s lit at night – the chairs placed in rows on the footprint of the destroyed Federal Building are a stark and moving tribute to those who died on that awful April morning.
Throughtout the Bricktown Ballpark there are reminders of Oklahoma’s contribution to baseball lore. At each entrance: statues of HOF’s Mantle, Warren Spahn and Johnny Bench. Throughout the interior of the ballpark large posters of players and teams that tell the history of baseball in Oklahoma.
The park itself is cozy, not a bad seat or blocked sight line anywhere – the concessions are not minor league in any way. Look for the carts selling genuine Dodger Dogs, Fenway Franks and Milwaukee Brats. The Hideaway Pizza, a local chain, is also a treat. Most of all the price is right: tickets behind home plate are just $11.00 and parking across from Warren Spahn plaza is only $5.00
A well-known baseball cliche is "when you’re 21 you’re a prospect, when you’re 30 you’re a suspect" – you’ll see plenty of both on the RedHawks roster. However, if you need a change of baseball scenery, in a great setting, it doesn’t get much better than Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
I’ve uploaded pictures from the Bricktown area, the Ballpark and the Oklahoma City National Memorial in the photo gallery.
Walk on by – The Pacific Coast league pitchers are onto Jason Botts – they won’t pitch to him any more – in the last 10 games they’ve issued 12 walk to Botts – who is still hitting a very healthy .307
Flying under the radar – here are a few players who are quietly putting up some nice numbers in the shadow of more high profile of teammates:
High A Clinton Lumberkings: we’ve all read about John Whittleman, Omar Poveda, K.C. Herren and Kasey Kiker. We haven’t read much about 20 year old catcher Manuel Pina’s .333 batting average over the last 10 games (13 hits, 4 extra base hits) and his .349 June BA. LHP Zach Phillips 2.56 ERA over his last 10 outings is worth noting as are his 55 K’s in 56 IP – with only 15 BB’s.
Frankly, the High A Bakersfield Blaze have had a very rough season, like the major league team they have the worst record in their league. But there are a couple of bright spots – aside from Taylor Teagarden’s monster first half. 3B Chris Davis is hitting .317 over his last 10 games, with a .286 BA for the month of June while OF Truan Mehl has also put up some nice number with a .295 BA for June as well as .317 BA for his last 10 games.
Travis Metcalf and German Duran have been grabbing all the attention in Frisco – but OF Anthony Webster’s season continues to improve steadily – he leads the Texas League in stolen bases with fifteen – and is hitting .333 (with four SB) over his last ten games. Fellow OF Brandon Boggs has also pulled out of a May slump to and is hitting .316 in June.
Promotions – Normally, the minor league All-Star Break is the time when most teams start promoting players – there’s plenty of speculation among the minor league geeks (when will Eric Hurley go to AAA? When will Taylor Teagarden show up in Frisco? Are the Rangers ready to challenge John Whittleman and Omar Poveda by sending them to Bakersfield?)
Don’t forget that there are some players who’ve already been promoted this season – let’s take a look at how where they were and where they are now.
LHP Glenn Swanson – from Low A Clinton (2.93 ERA in 43 IP) to High A Bakersfield (3.96 ERA in 36 IP)
LHP Daniel Ray Herrera – from High A Bakersfield (3.27 ERA in 11 IP) to AA Frisco (2.57 ERA in 14 IP)
OF John Mayberry Jr. – from High A Bakersfield ( .230 BA in 244 AB’s – albiet with 16 HRs) to AA Frisco (.182 BA in 22 AB’s)
And, of course – the biggest and best promotion that all players want – to the majors:
3B Travis Metcalf .280 BA in 200 AB’s at AA Frisco – now hitting .235 in 17 AB’s with the big league team.
Finally – If you don’t want to drive to OKC or even to Frisco there is the Texas Collegiate League. This is a wooden bat league for college players, much like the heralded Cape Cod League. Now in it’s third season, the TCL has teams located throughout the metroplex including Weatherford, Colleyville, Coppell and McKinney. Drew Davison of MLB.com wrote a feature story on former Rangers participating in the league – focusing on Rusty Greer who is coaching the Colleyville team. You can’t go to a game without tripping over a scout or two or more – current Ranger minor leaguers 2B German Duran (Frisco) and 3B Chris Davis (Bakersfield) both played in the league during their college eligibility.
Here’s a link to the TCL website:http://www.texascollegiateleague.com and to Drew’s article: http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070618&content_id=2034026&vkey=news_tex&fext=.jsp&c_id=tex
If it sounds like I’m trying to drive you away from the Rangers at the Ballpark – I’m not – they are doing a pretty good job of that all by themselves.
Enjoying baseball – everywhere. — Marla Hooch