Just want to get caught up on my first road trip of the season before I’ve forgotten too many of the details to share (don’t laugh, this will happen to you someday as well).
I won the “Opening Day First Game” lottery this year and got to see the first pitch of the 2008 season thrown in Syracuse … and no, even though it may sound that way, I’m actually not being sarcastic about that.
For one thing, it was a great game, a true pitching duel between a pair of 2004 first-rounders whose names were called just nine picks apart: Louisville Bats ace Homer Bailey, taken with the seventh pick by the Reds, and Syracuse Chiefs southpaw David Purcey, taken with the 16th pick.
Both pitched brilliantly with Purcey getting the win as Syracuse prevailed, 2-0. Coming back from elbow trouble which cut short his 2007 season, Purcey started his comeback in Arizona Fall League last year and was one of the top pitchers in that league, so he was really picking up where he left off in November with his six innings of shutout ball. And though Bailey took the loss, he looked great. He has the most effortless motion and seemed like he could have easily pitched another 10 innings beyond the seven he threw (I kid, they’d call the ASPCP if he did that).
I didn’t get to see as much of Syracuse and that “CNY” area as I would have liked, however. We were slated to drive down to Binghamton the next night and catch a game between the B-Mets and Trenton Thunder (the Yankees farm team) but the cold rain washed out both that game and what would have been the second game of the Syracuse-Louisville series as well, leaving us to look out our hotel windows at what I presume was downtown Syracuse.
I was actually rather sentimental about being in Syracuse because my very first Minor League game was a Chiefs game, way back in … oh, okay, I’ll admit it. 1987. I was up there with a few co-workers to cover the annual Empire State Games (think New York State’s version of a mini-Olympics) and we decided to sneak out and skip the big opening ceremonies to see the Chiefs play the Maine Guides. (I guess I can admit that now as well, more than 20 years later, right?) The fact that we could walk into a ballpark 15 minutes before a game and get front row seats right behind first base just gobsmacked me.
So I didn’t see much of Syracuse (or make my first trip to Binghamton for that matter) this trip but as far as giving my faithful readers a brief travelogue, I DID see a lot of my hotel and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who might be making a trip up to the city … the Renaissance Syracuse is awesome. For one thing, it’s round and I’m still easily impressed by that sort of thing. The rooms all have huge plasma screens (the better to watch America’s! Next! Top! Model! while working) and great showers (though, sadly, no bathtubs). And the hotel bar (The Library) is cozy and friendly and has a wonderful bartender and free wireless internet (hey, I had a late flight out and had several hours to kill and a rotisserie draft the next day to prep for).
I actually have two more swings through upstate New York on the docket in the next month (Rochester and Buffalo at the end of April and then the Cooperstown Classic between Syracuse and Rochester in mid-May) but first I’ll be heading down to North Carolina for a few days next week, to see the Carolina Mudcats host the Tennessee Smokies before heading over to Durham for a few days. So if you see the GOTMILB-mobile, be sure to come say hi!
I’ll be the one stuffing my face with Carolina barbecue!