Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Baseball Road Trip 2018: Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Rail-Riders (or Yanks for the Memories)

Today was the last stop on my whirlwind baseball tour, which had taken us a week, and cost us countless dollars funneled into collective 50/50 raffles. But we made it out the other side. And we ended the trip with some friendly, familiar territory.

The Scranton-Wilkes Barre Railriders. Or...the Yankee-to-be's.

First of all, not only was this the more impressive of the AAA facilities we attended (narrowly edging out the well-attended-but-homey Toledo Mud Hens), but this was the game where we knew the most players. It didn't entirely have to do with the fact that my dad and I are diehard Yankee fans. No, it's because their adversaries, the Rochester Redwings, were the Twins' AAA affiliates, and that team...ALSO featured some people we'd heard of.

These were our seats...and I think they were the nicest ones of the trip.

Second row, not far along the first base side, with a tantalizing view of the batter's box and visiting dugout, and great view of the stadium, which is, again, a pretty great facility. Obviously they knew that Yankees fans would be in attendance.

The RailRiders had a nice core of Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, Brandon Drury, Ryan McBroom and Billy McKinney, all of whom had a pretty nice day today. Frazier and McKinney had home runs, as did many of the RailRiders, who had a nice time hitting off of the Rochester starter, making the eventual win even more inevitable.

#43 for Rochester...looked familiar, though. Just in the way he stood in the batter's box. It's like he'd done this sort of thing before. It's like I'd seen him before.

Sure enough, it was Joe Mauer, at the top of a rehab assignment post-concussion, and he was playing for Rochester. He didn't have the best day, striking out a few times, and it may take a bit to get him back to where he was,'s still Joe Mauer. He's a Twins legend. And here he is, playing in AAA. We yelled out 'hey, love the way you play', but he was in the zone.

Now, the guy that HEARD us...

was the Rochester catcher. If you're from Philadelphia, which I am (now that I'm done with college that is), you know exactly who this stocky catcher is. Cameron Rupp, who held the backstop for a few years. And he got to launch a home run off of the Riders' ace tonight, which he seemed pretty enthused about. My dad yelled out, cordially, 'we miss you in Philly, Cam'. Rupp turned to us, and nodded, kindly. I bet he misses Philly just as much right now.

The game, though truncated due to a doubleheader, went pretty well. McKinney and Frazier went long, making their return to New York seem inevitable. Their defenders did well, especially Kyle Higashioka behind the plate. The fans were into it, even if there were a ton of Pennsylvania Ps' around. It was, if anything, a quaint, if polished, way of ending the baseball trip. Plus, we ended with a home-team win, which is nice.

So, that's all I have to report. A lot of baseball happened over the last week, and not all of it was good, but it was definitely worth the trip.

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