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Land of Lincoln

I’m sitting in the press box of beautiful Haymarket Park in Lincoln, Neb., where the Wingnuts are playing Game 2 of the American Association North Division Championship Series tonight. I really dislike having to type that many capital letters in a row. From now on I’m just calling in the AANDCS. It doesn’t cut down on my capital letter usage, but at least it’s easier and quicker to type.

I don’t know if I got across in my right-on-deadline written story last night how thoroughly dominating Wichita’s performance was in their 6-2 win last night. On paper, it doesn’t look like the beatdown it actually was. And I guess you kind of have to blame the Wingnuts for that, since they left the bases loaded twice and could have really broken it open with another big hit or two.

But there was no doubt as to who was the better team. Since the Wingnuts finished nine games better than Lincoln during the regular season, I suppose you can change that “was” to an “is”. It’s been nearly 100 games, but during batting practice today I think I finally discovered the secret to the Wingnuts’ success. We’ll just use this series as an example — I don’t even think the Wingnuts know they’re playing Lincoln in this series. I think they’re competing against each other — who can get the most hits, who can hit the ball farthest in batting practice, etc.

Like today. Guys were crushing the ball in batting practice. Josh Horn is in a group with sluggers Dustan Mohr and Greg Porter, along with not-so-sluggerish Nick Blasi (sorry, Nick). After one round of BP, Horn looks at me and says, “I’m trying to hit the (L) screen, and these guys are trying to hit the ball out of the stadium. First pitch of the next round, Horn blasts one over the left-field wall, drops his bat and calls it a day. Nobody wants to be outdone by anyone else. It works that way on the pitching staff, too.

To that end, I’m calling Michael Thompson for a big game today. He was the only Wingnut without a hit last night, and I’m sure he’ll want to catch up with his teammates. I think Mohr also has a big game tonight. Dude is locked in.

More about last night’s domination, though. The Wingnuts outhit Lincoln 15-4 and got a tone-setting performance from starting pitcher Will Savage. Conversely, no tone (at least no good one) was set by Lincoln starter Jarrett Gardner, who tried to nick the corners with his slow stuff and left too many pitches over the plate. Wichita did hit some good pitches, though — usually for singles. Not trying to do too much.

Honestly, and I could be wrong since I’m not really factoring in the gumption of Lincoln’s players, which I haven’t experienced — I really think this will be a sweep. Like I said, I could be wrong. At worst, the series is over because I don’t think Lincoln can win 2 of 3 (or more) in Wichita. Oh, and about last night — I’ve just been informed that Kelly Hunt will be awarded a fourth RBI — he had three officially after last night, but he was given an extra one on a single to left that Gavin Dickey booted, allowing runners to advance. It seemed clear that Porter would have scored from second, so I think the right call has been made.

Had a nice couple days in Lincoln, even though the sun hasn’t been out since I’ve been here. That’s unfortunate, but I can’t really complain. The park is REALLY nice — I can see why I caught some flak for voting for Sioux Falls as the league’s best playing surface. It’s the only other one I’d seen! Besides St. Paul, of course, and I wasn’t too impressed with that one. I’ll say Lincoln wins that race, but Sioux Falls is still close. Lincoln has my favorite P.A. guy and organ player, that’s for sure.

As the season winds down, I wanted to mention that you know this blog has been used for some ribbing of people whom I’ve come in contact with throughout the course of the season. I appreciate all of you taking that how it is meant — good-naturedly. No harm meant. If you’re one of these people, you’re awesome for putting up with me, and I would be honored to one day be on the other end of such behavior.

Also, I really like the Lincoln game notes. The batter-vs.-pitcher facet of said notes is particularly valuable. That is all. Good luck to both teams tonight.