May 18, 2002

I was driving up 287, the lights were on, so I ended up attending my first-ever minor league game, a not-all-that-exciting 3-2 loss by the hometown Somerset Patriots to the Newark Bears. The teams are part of the Atlantic League, an independent league whose teams contain several ex-major leaguers hoping to make their way back to the show (Jose Canseco was the foremost example of this a couple years back, and tonight's exes included Wes Chamberlain and Curtis Goodwin), as well as promising prospects hoping to catch on with a major league organization, such as the Cubs' Bobby Hill (no, not that Bobby Hill).

I arrived at the ballpark about a half-hour after the game started, scoring a $9 ticket for a seat on the aisle, two rows behind the plate. The game itself was almost completely uneventful, but the ballpark was pretty darn nice, I sat next to some Somerset regulars who I had a nice conversation with, and they had Dippin' Dots. From where I sat I had a great view of the matchups, and the players were noticeably less talented than the major leaguers I'm used to seeing; the pitchers were a gear slower, with less bite and movement, and the hitters occasionally seemed to be a bit unsure of themselves at the plate. Definitely worth nine bucks, though, and I think I'll be going back.

Of course, while I was whiling away an evening in Somerset, the Yanks were beginning an all-time classic in the Bronx, with Jason Giambi hitting a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the 14th to beat the Twins 13-12. That's why I go to games: in the one-in-a-million (ten-thousand?) chance I'll see something like that.
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