I know a few days ago, the game after the one I'm posting about was posted, but since it was requested of me to post mine anyway, here we go. Last week, I went on another one of my random baseball trips, which consisted of two days - North Carolina to see our Gwinnett Braves taking on the division leading Durham Bulls, and then early the next morning, I flew from Raleigh to Tampa (with a layover in Atlanta, ironically), and I went to catch a day-game at Tropicana Field as the Tampa Bay Rays hosted the Toronto Blue Jays.
If you're interested in the Tampa leg of my trip, feel free to read about it over at DRaysBay - being completely non-Braves related, I see no point in posting anything about it here.
The exterior of the main entrance of Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP). I haven't been to DBAP before, but I had been in DBP way back when. Why they felt the need to incorporate "Athletic" into the name is completely beyond me; much like the Dook presence in Durham, I have no idea why Dook felt the need to incorporate "Indoor" to Cameron Indoor Stadium - it's not like they're playing organized basketball on the blacktop with chain nets, like in NBA THE STREETS for PS2. lol at the thought of Dook basketball being played on a blacktop.
Also amusing to me is the preferential treatment that Saturn car owners get at DBAP. Easy-access street parking, and complimentery, according to one Saturn driver. Likely it's because I'm used to seeing Lexus vehicles getting the royal treatment at Turner Field, but seeing Saturns getting similar treatment in Durham had me chuckling.
I took my dear sweet time like I do at every park, major or minor league, walking around the entire place, and seeing the field from several different angles. Since Zeus12888 already posted a lot of the obligatory shots of the Blue Monster and the Bull, I don't see any point of making re-runs. As a whole, I dig DBAP. It's a little busy, even for AAA, but seeing as how there's no other semblance of quality professional baseball in the Carolinas, I guess it has to be.
Reid Gorecki playing CF on this day. I was hoping to see Jordan Schafer again, but alas. Stupid wrist injury, but I'd rather see him not play, knowing that he's getting better perhaps. I was out in the left-center grass at this point, the Bulls had already jumped all over Tony Armas, Jr., and it looked like it was going to get worse. Hey, at least I could jockey for a homer or something, there was only one guy in the grass with me at this time.
Eh screw it, here's a picture of the Blue Monster and the Bull. I've got something to say about it, anyway. Why the Durham Bulls feel the need to glorify the Red Sox with a play on the Green Monster is completely beyond me. The Bulls have never been affiliated with the Boston Red Sox at any time, yet they see fit to put this kind of garbage out there. Worse is the manually operated green scoreboard, that is reminiscent of the Green Monster's. I guess I shouldn't be surprised in the fact that we live in Red Sock Nation, but still; I imagine those who follow Pawtucket must really love coming down to Durham for AAA ball.
Ahh, gotta love Minor League baseball and their litany of odd ball sponsored promotions. I believe this one was for some exterminator, and the promotion was "Ants in your Pants" or something like that, where a little boy ran around with extra baggy MC Hammer pants, and tried to catch sling-shotted bugs in them. I guess this is something that can only really be targeted to young boys or women, because I sure as hell don't want things flying downward headed towards the jewels.
Our oft-discussed exiled second baseman, Kelly Johnson, looking bored as the Bulls jump to 3-0 and 5-2 leads respectively. Also possibly quite winded as Armas was letting hit after hit after hit go straight up the middle.
Bulls 2B, Henry Mateo, doing his best impression of Craig Counsell. This picture does not do justice how ridiculously absurd he looks, much like Counsell did with this exaggerated batting stance. Maybe he needs to change it up, because he went 0-4 on the night when most everyone else was getting easy hits on Armas.
A familiar sight - Tony Armas facing a bases loaded jam. When this picture was taken, the G-Braves had fought back to claw within one, from a 3-0 defecit. After this debacle, the Bulls had extended their lead back up to 5-2. And because of his ineptitude, the game was going really, really long. It felt like the series of Nationals games I had gone to back in 05 or 06, where I got saddled with Armas and then Astacio. Two pitchers who took an unPujolsly amount of time to work.
Thankfully, Armas was pulled after three ineffective innings. Mariano Gomez came in, and then suddenly, the pace of the game started to pick up, and this unfamiliar sight of seeing Bull after Bull coming up and then sitting down started happening. But still down 5-2, I assured this cute Bulls fan couple I was sitting near at the time of taking these photos that the MiLB Braves were like 0-5 in my presence, and not to worry, to which they assured me they weren't.
Kelly Johnson waiting to take his cuts. I tried saying nice things to him, reminding him that this was temporary, and that he'd be back in Atlanta soon enough, but no acknowledgment, whatsoever. Maybe he's bitter, but in all likelihood, he's just being professional and not worrying about the crowd, whether they're supportive or not.
Barbaro Canizares, ready to take his own cuts at the plate. I do not know how much English he comprehends, but I was trying to joke with him about the revolving signs on the outfield walls. I told him that they were trying to keep him down, because the sign for this restaurant called CUBAN REVOLUTION kept cycling out whenever Barbaro came up to bat, and that it was no coincidence. Maybe it's because I said "Cuba," but he turned and gave me this grin, and really didn't say anything else.
It's a crappy photo, but you can still see the 4-spot that the G-Braves hung on the Bulls in the 7th Inning. It was a relief to finally see a G-Braves team rally to fight back against the opposition instead of the opposite occurring, because Pujols knows I've seen it more often than not. The best part about this was the fact that it was capped off by Kelly Johnson's three-run blast, which took the lead for the G-Braves.
Juan Perez blowing away the Bulls in the 8th. Something about Perez, I do like. Not just because his name is Perez, but he reminds me of Rafael Perez out in Cleveland. Kinda lanky, lefty, and throws gas. I hope to see him pitching for the big club one of these days, he's just one of those guys I get a good feeling from, which I can't say about some of our relievers right now.
An insurance run in the top of the 9th leads to the mass exodus. A little pre-emptive, because the Bulls did make it a little interesting in the bottom of the 9th, off of Luis Valdez. Despite the fact that in the center of this image one might be able to make out the #24 Mark Teixiera Braves t-shirt, I encountered very few other Braves fans here. And none that I actually spoke with, because they were mostly walking around while I was in my seat. But regardless, seeing the people up and throwing in the towel made me feel good, because I was on the brink of seeing my first ever MiLB Braves win.
As I mentioned, it wasn't without some drama, but the G-Braves held on to win by a score of 7-6. Marino Gomez gets the well deserved win, after throwing up 4.0 IP of shutout ball to give the G-Braves the necessary time to close the gap and take the lead while he was still on record. And I'm the guy clapping as loudly as I can in an otherwise quiet ATHLETIC park, while few individuals give me dirty looks. I don't really care, it's history for me, seeing an MiLB Braves win for the first time.
So yeah, my first trip to DBAP was most certainly a good one. Seeing as how I go to North Carolina no less than five times a year, I can easily forsee future trips to this park as a possibility, even more so when talent such as Jason Heyward, Frederick Freeman, and even later guys like Ezekiel Spruill make their way into AAA.
If you're interested in the Florida leg of my travels, or Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay Rays in general, have at it cowboy. Otherwise, I leave you with this little gem, sent to me while I was typing this up:
Thanks for reading.