Mariners Analysis: Our Own Field of Dreams


I recently got back into town from a trip to Indiana to visit family.  While I was there I had the good fortune to catch a couple of baseball games.  One game of Midwest League Class-A and one game of Prospect League.  Both games were great fun to attend, but I’ll focus on the Single-A experience because one of the teams that I saw was the Mariners’ affiliate Clinton Lumberkings.

I caught a double-header at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Parkview is home to the Fort Wayne TinCaps an affiliate of the San Diego Padres.  As I mentioned above, their opponent on the day was the Mariners’ affiliate Clinton Lumberkings playing out of Clinton, Iowa.  From the outside, Parkview Field looks like a sort of shrunken down Camden Yards.  One immediate difference to the look was the inclusion of a 30 foot high inflatable version of the TinCaps mascot, Johnny, that they had set out front to welcome visitors.  Johnny, by the way, is a cartoony Johnny Appleseed looking fellow, with a big ol’ grin and a tin pot on his head.  Tincaps don’tcha know.

It really is a lovely park, the outfield seating area has a few sections of simple terraced lawn that look great for picnicking.  There were also tables with umbrellas, railings to stand at, and all manner of other places and ways to sit or stand and watch the game.

We made our way to our seats along the third base line, and found that they were right next to the far end of the Lumberkings dugout, which because it was recessed into the seating area, gave a us a great look into the dugout to see the players.

I have to admit that I wasn’t up to date on my Lumberkings player knowledge prior to the trip, so before the game I made a quick sojourn over to Baseball America to familiarize myself with any touted prospects I might be seeing.  There were two names that kept coming up in my search; outfielder Estarlyn Morales, and third baseman Joseph DeCarlo.  Donning my Mariners fan hat for a moment, I wish I could tell you that the Lumberkings played like gangbusters, and that Morales and DeCarlo hit the snot out of the ball.  As you can tell by the qualifier in the previous sentence, though I cannot tell you those things.  Well, I could but then I’d be a big ol’ liar.  The Lumberkings did not play well in the two games losing Game one 2-1, and Game two 16-1.  Ouch.

Someone who did impress me in the limited time I saw him was the catcher in game 1, Wayne Taylor.  True, he didn’t do much with the bat going 0 for 3 with 2 K’s.  But it was his defense behind the plate that stood out to me.  He made consistently good plays on balls in the dirt and/or way out of the zone.  It was a nice bright spot.

That’s about all I have to say about the games themselves.  But that’s not all I’m going to write about my experience there.  You don’t get off so easy.

It had been a long time since I’d been to a minor league game; over 20 years in fact.  Back then it was the Bellingham Mariners, who played in my hometown.  I got to see a bunch of those games as a young kid and all the way through high school.  But the experience was different this time around.  Maybe it was because I’m into my 40’s now, and things look different to me in general.  But for whatever reason.  Watching those minor league games in Indiana, a phrase kept popping into my head.

“Let’s run away and join the circus!”

That was the atmosphere at those games.  That there was still a chance.  No matter what age you happened to be.  There was still a chance that you could hop on the bus with the team after the game, and follow them from town to town, stadium to stadium, and just be around baseball forever.  And in so doing stay young forever.  It was a weird Field of Dreams kind of moment.  That the simple act of playing baseball, or even watching baseball makes you timeless.  Connects you with all the other people in the history of the world that have played baseball.  Or watched baseball.

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But I didn’t run away and join the circus.  When stormy clouds forced us from the ballpark, and back into real life.  I remember walking out of the ballpark gate, and feeling like I was leaving a whole other world behind.

But that’s one of the wonderful things about baseball.  That you can leave.  You can get into your car, and drive home.  But you can always go back.  Back through those gates, back to the field, and the sunshine.  To a place where young men pursue their dreams and help keep your own alive.

It’s marvelous.

Next: Mariners Game Recap: M's Bats go Silent in Oakland

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