Editor’s Note: These were some of Chris Kline’s musings from the first day of the tournament, but now that he has photos of the Aguilas mascot, we’ve bumped it back to the top to give visual evidence of the mascot, and to let you all decide whether this is supposed to be an eagle, a chicken or parrot.
There are so many things to say about the atmosphere here at Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium on the first day, but here are just a few observations and breakdowns . . .
â€¢ The Aguilas mascot is unlike any other in baseball. Itâ€™s supposed to be an eagle, but looks more like a poor manâ€™s version of The Chicken . . . kind of. The eagle changes outfits throughout the night–and obviously in an 18-inning game there are plenty of opportunities to run through the entire schitck–but I think the one where he wore a sheriff costume and rolled around on the turf, then paused to act like he was shooting at the Venezuelan dugout (complete with sound effects followed by maniacal laughter from the PA system at least five times) was the one that had my jaw dropping the farthest.
Or there was the one where he came out dressed as a ninja and was doing karate moves about five feet from the right field line–during the game and not between innings. That one was a personal favorite of an American League scout. Oh, or the one where he came out with his clothes all ripped up and had huge green hands doing some pseudo Incredible Hulk impersonation. But he looked more like a chicken with plastic green hands that wanted to go a few rounds with Yorman Bazardo. I keep trying to picture the Phillie Phanatic trying to pull any of those off and itâ€™s just not happening.
â€¢ DirecTV is all over the news in our baseball world, and the alternate to cable TV is here, too. Just ask the umpires, who wear the companyâ€™s logo on both their chest and back.
â€¢When Dominican righthander Santiago Ramirez complained about the state of the mound before the top of the seventh inning, groundskeepers brought out a hose to wet down the area. The only problem was, the hose wouldnâ€™t work. Solution: two bottles of Aquafina from the Dominican dugout.
â€¢ Two staples of Aguilas lineup during the regular season were Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera. But neither made the trip to San Juan, as Victor Mendez replaced Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz took Cabreraâ€™s roster spot. But Dominican third base coach Tim Leiper–who manages at Double-A Altoona in the Piratesâ€™ system–saw Encarnacion all winter and raved about him. â€œHis bat just stays through the zone for such a long time,â€ Leiper said. â€œThis guy is going to be a lot better than your average major league third baseman. Heâ€™s got some work to do with his footwork defensively, but theyâ€™re minor things. Heâ€™s going to figure it out. He was a monster for us.â€
â€¢ Even though Venezuelan righthander Francisco Butto took the loss in the marathon, his stuff was impressive. His fastball had good late life and topped out at 94 mph. He also showed an above-average 84 mph slider . . . On the flipside, Dominican righthander Leo Nunez averaged anywhere from 92-95 mph with his fastball, and showed a devastating 85-87 mph slider.
â€¢ And finally–at least for night No. 1–was what could be the quote of the night from a National League scout on Dominican shortstop Miguel Tejada, who played every inning, and ran out every ground ball in the victory. â€œHereâ€™s a guy who makes what? 15 million a year? Heâ€™s still out here playing in a game like this. Ruben Sierra would have been gone after three.â€
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