Saturday, August 17, 2019

Game time

This time, the weather forecast was for 10 percent chance of rain at game time.

And it found us.

Jim Buice, Neill Caldwell, Larry Lyon and Kevin Brafford.
Which was kind of interesting, because we were at BB&T Ballpark Friday night thanks to a rainout and subsequent power outage that postponed a game we had gathered to see back in May.

Jim, Neill, Larry and myself. Still smiling...
So somewhere around the third inning of the Dash's game with Potomac, a light, annoying rain began to fall. Not again. Apparently, we were being followed by a rain shadow.

But it didn't last long. So the five of us – Larry Lyon, Jim Buice, Kevin Brafford, Neill Caldwell and myself, all former sports writers for The Dispatch from back in the prehistoric days when you could actually hold a newspaper in your hands – reassembled ourselves to give this another try.

It worked. The rain lasted for about an inning (they never did bring out the tarp), and we did the stuff that you'd expect five former sports writers to do: talk about sports and journalism. One of us brought a copy of George Wills' baseball quiz and we spent some time guessing at the obscure answers.

At one point in the game, I took off on my own and walked the concourse around the stadium, taking in the different perspectives of the game. There's nothing like the view of a baseball field inside a stadium.

None of us did any heavy rooting, but we appreciated the talent on the field and wondered how long a 20-year-old minor leaguer stays in the game until he realizes that he has to get a real job some day, and probably sooner than later.

One of the Dash players, high draft choice Andrew Vaughn, signed a $7 million bonus, so I guess he'll be around for a while. Wonder how he gets along with potentially jealous teammates in the clubhouse?

But, to add perspective, everyone of those players was no doubt a star or standout on his high school or college team. The MLB winnowing process is an amazing thing.

There was one scary moment that none of us had ever seen in a baseball game before. While netting down both baselines protects the fans from sharply hit line drive foul balls, there is absolutely no protection for the players in the dugouts. And that's exactly what happened in this game.

A wild foul ball slammed into the Potomac dugout, and moments later, players were calling for the umpire to halt the game. Immediately, players gathered around the Nationals' bench, and play was halted for at least half a hour. An ambulance arrived and came on the field, and shortly, a gurney loaded a person into the van.

We stayed until the eighth inning was over and left, but not before Neill asked a police officer what he knew about the incident. Apparently, a bat boy was injured in the dugout and taken to the hospital. It was an unnerving moment and it begs the question why dugouts aren't more securely protected from foul balls. Players in a dugout are probably paying the least attention of anybody on the field.

Anyway, the rest of the night moved without incident. The Dash won 5-2 for their fourth straight victory.

But mostly, we all stole home after the game with the fires of longtime camaraderie still burning.

Maybe we can do this again next year,

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