JD’s Ballpark Tour, Bottom of the Fourteenth Inning (San Bernardino, CA)

(AKA: Cal League Playoffs with Daisy)

The week after that minor league game in Rancho Cucamonga, it was a tumultuous week as I sustained a bad injury. As they say in hockey, I suffered a “lower body injury.” With my mobility dramatically reduced, I spent time writing, doing a baseball podcast, reading some math and/or baseball books, and looking up possible Angels games to attend. In addition, I was trying to find a good time to make a trip to the Bay Area to see two more ballparks, which would make fifteen stadiums in one season. Finally, I was also keeping track of my local minor league teams in the Cal League playoffs. While the previously featured Quakes did not make the playoffs, the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels) not only made the playoffs, but they won their first-round series. This would set up a South Division championship series against the Lancaster JetHawks (Astros). Game three of that series fell on a Monday, which is their usual “Man’s Best Friend Monday” promotion. I thought about going to that game anyway since it was a big Cal League playoff game, and a friend of mine was working at that game. With the added bonus of being able to bring my dog, I thought, “why not?”

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The ballpark: San Manuel Stadium, elevation about 1020 feet.

The game: JetHawks @ 66ers on September 8, 2014

This is one of my favorite minor league ballparks, and this is easily Daisy’s favorite park. The 66ers are known for their dog-friendly promotions, and they usually get a good amount of dogs to come out for games, but I’ll get to that shortly. The Inland Empire 66ers are named because Route 66 runs through San Bernardino, which is where the team is located. Their home stadium is less than a mile from the famous road, and features an awesome view of the San Bernardino mountains. The 66ers are currently affiliated with the Angels and frequently see MLB players making a rehab assignment start through the season. The last player I saw make such a start was Dan Haren two years ago… he got roughed up that night.

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Post Season Baseball, Pod Casts, and Predictions (Fourteenth Inning Stretch)

The funny thing about writing a traveling baseball blog during the summer is the drama that can unfold over the course of a season. When I first began this journey, I didn’t expect to see the large amount of traveling Royals fans as I did in Arlington, Texas. I also didn’t expect to see some of the crazy baseball I saw in the month of September (and October), but more on that later!

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JD’s Ballpark Tour, Top of the Fourteenth Inning (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

(AKA: Dog Days in the Minors)

After that sad game at Houston, I said goodbye to my good friend near Houston and finally flew back to my home home in SoCal. Right when I arrived back home, I was not only looking ahead to Angels and Dodgers games, but also checking out the Cal League (High-A minors) standings. On the calendar, I saw it was “Bark in the Ballpark” day at Rancho Cucamonga. I decided to take my puppy to her first game of the season and include her on this “BallBARK Tour” Hehe, you see what I did there? Heh, yeah…

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The ballpark: LoanMart Field, elevation 1190 feet.

The game: 66ers @ Quakes on August 27, 2014.

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are a high-A minor league team for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Earlier this season, Clayton Kershaw pitched a rehab game there, and all six thousand seats were filled. On this game, they were on the brink of being eliminated from the Cal League playoffs, and there was a decent crowd there. When this park was built in the early 1990s, the Quakes became the new team name. Because of that, the ballpark had one of the coolest names in the minor leagues: The Epicenter. Many folks around the ballpark still call it The Epicenter.

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The Case for Clayton Kershaw Winning the NL MVP

Yes, this is a departure from my posts about my ballpark tour, but with the regular season ending yesterday, I thought I would put up this post regarding a hot topic in baseball right now.

There have only been three pitchers to win the National League Most Valuable Player award since 1955. Why did I choose that year? That’s the year the Brooklyn Dodgers won their first championship, and their only title while still playing in Brooklyn. The last player to do it was Bob Gibson (St. Louis) in 1968. Before that, two dominant Dodger pitchers won the MVP: Sandy Koufax (1963) and Don Newcombe (1956).

Many former players didn’t like facing those three previously mentioned pitchers. In fact, even HoF’ers like Maury Wills even said that they hated facing Bob Gibson because of the intimidation factor he presents. Fast forward to 2014, and we are hearing about several players saying the same thing about Clayton Kershaw. His twelve-to-six curveball – or “public enemy number one” according to Vin Scully – is a plus pitch in his arsenal that fools countless batters every game.

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