Summer of Baseball: A game in Binghamton is a nice night

Jun 23

It’s almost crazy to think of a minor league baseball stadium built in 1992 as being old, but as the years go by – it becomes older.

To think that 1992 was more than 20 years ago will age a park, especially at the Double-A level. When NYSEG Stadium, in Binghamton, was built in 1992, it was quite the stadium. And over the years, it’s been used for other things, including high school football.

Home of the B-Mets.

Home of the B-Mets.

But, in the landscape of baseball, it’s an older stadium. Though one thing is certain – it’s still a pretty nice stadium.

I usually make a few trips to Binghamton per season as it’s an easy trip, never a problem to park and there are no issues getting tickets. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and, unless you go on a few uber-popular days, you can usually lounge a little more when there. I’ve sat on both sides of this field, as well as in the “upper deck,” which came on this trip. The third-base line is better if you want to avoid the sun.

You really are pretty close to the action, which is always a bonus. There’s a train yard out over the left-field wall, so sometimes you may get a train going through. That’s kind of a cool thing, though. The fences are average or so in length, which gives you the opportunity to see some homers.

The day's lineup.

The day’s lineup.

There aren’t a ton of bells and whistles with this stadium. They do quite a few games and such and there’s a kids area down the first-base line. The food selection is decent and the prices are OK, but not stellar. Case in point – I purchase two hot dogs and a soda. The soda cost about as much as the two dogs and if I had wanted French fries, they would have cost more than $4. A little steep when consider the hot dogs were $1.75 each, if I remember right.

As a hot dog nut, I wouldn’t classify those served in Binghamton as the best I’ve ever had a game and it’s not even close. But, I did enjoy them as they were cooked right and tasted just fine. I’d go above average on the hot dogs, say a 3.5 out of 5 or a 7 out of 10.

Keeping book, as always, on my Eephus League Halfliner.

Keeping book, as always, on my Eephus League Halfliner.

If you are looking to watch a baseball game, this is a good spot. The seats are pretty decent and you have a good amount of room. But if you are looking for a lot of extras, this might not be a place for you.

In recent years, there have been rumors about the Double-A team leaving Binghamton, which possibly could open the stadium up to be a Single-A team. This stadium, actually, would be really top-notch for that level (especially in the short-season Single-A New York-Penn League), though drawing fans might take a hit in that regard. Still, even with the rumors, Double-A ball remains in Binghamton and, hopefully, it will stay that way.

Park Notes:

NYSEG Stadium
Binghamton, New York
Home of the Binghamton Mets (AA affiliate of the New York Mets)
Visited on: Monday, May 26
Opponent: New Britain Rock Cats (AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins)

Ratings (out of 10):

  • Stadium: 7
  • Concessions: 6
  • Parking: 8
  • Ambiance: 7
  • Friendliness: 9

I am embarking on a summer of baseball with the plan to hit a minimum of 10 stadiums this summer. Hopefully, there will be more than that. I will report on each park that I hit on the blog.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Summer of Baseball: Syracuse a solid spot to watch a game

Jun 16

I’ve always been a fan of the Syracuse ballpark. It’s quaint, easy to get to and, usually, easy to get out of. But, despite a city of about 145,000 people, it doesn’t seem like the Chiefs draw on a nightly basis.

NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse.

The day I was there was a cool spring afternoon with a 2:05 start and had an announced attendance of 2,559. With the seating capacity at NBT Bank Stadium at about 11,000, I am quite sure the stadium wasn’t a quarter filled, so it was easy to put the feet up, watch the game and enjoy. Parking had a fee of $5, but I can’t imagine that would necessarily scare people away.

The layout of Syracuse is quite nice. I’m not sure there’s a bad seat in the house. However, one thing I learned from the year before – it’s better to sit on the third-base side because of the sun. If you are on the first-base side and it’s hot and sunny, you’re in trouble. Therefore, it’s the third-base side for me.

I know there aren’t many people who do this anymore, but I am a baseball nerd in that I still keep a scorebook. Last year, I backed a Kickstarter campaign for a Halfliner (bia the Eephus League) and it goes with me to any professional game. So, when doing this, you need the lineups.

Everything needed for a game!

Most professional stadiums (and many smaller college summer leagues) have a lineup posted. You’ll often see people with scorebooks scribbling the lineup so they can keep track of what’s going on. I noticed it last year – and again this year – that Syracuse doesn’t have one. That makes it a little difficult for those of us who keep score to do it.

That means getting the names off as announced or when they come to bat. It takes away from the experience.

At one point, the new general manager was walking around and chatting with people. He sat with us for a few minutes and I noted this one important piece missing from the baseball experience. He assured me it was in the works and hoped, by the next time we visited for a game, one would be in place. I do, too, as even for those who don’t keep score, it’s nice to be able to look at a lineup.

Warming up in the pen.

Turns out, though, this is a whole new regime in Syracuse. The Chiefs lost upward of a million dollars last year, and this new GM is part of a new group hoping to turn things around. From our brief talk, he seems to have some good ideas and a vision, so hopefully he can make the franchise viable again and put some people in the stands.

Overall, the stadium is a good place to watch a game. There are plenty of options in regard to concessions. The hot dogs were pretty solid, albeit a bit pricey for a Triple-A team that doesn’t seem to overflow the stands. I only had that and a small order of fries, so I can’t comment on the quality of everything else. But if it’s anything like the dog and fries, it should be good. There are a lot of choices, and that is always a good thing.

Though I didn’t dabble, the beer selection was the normal items, though I did see a few local brews as well.

In the end, Syracuse is a good stadium to visit. I’ll likely do it at least one more time this summer, hopefully with a lineup card available.

Park Notes:  

NBT  Bank Stadium
Syracuse, New York
Home of the Syracuse Chiefs (AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals)
Visited on: Sunday, May 18.
Opponent: Columbus Clippers (AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians)

Ratings (out of 10)

  • Stadium: 7.5/10
  • Concessions: 7/10
  • Parking: 9/10
  • Ambiance: 8/10
  • Friendliness: 8/10

I am embarking on a summer of baseball with the plan to hit a minimum of 10 stadiums this summer. Hopefully, there will be more than that. I will report on each park that I hit on the blog.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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A long road pays off with a soccer state championship

Nov 28

Long before becoming a state champion, youth soccer was King.

This is a story that started long ago.

Maybe 2006? Earlier? Somewhere around there, anyway.

My niece, at that point, was a soccer nut. She played travel soccer for tots. She was all of about 8 or 9. So she probably started playing well before that, but this was my time in documenting many games with my camera.

State champ!

I haven’t been to every game my niece has played in. But I’ve been to my fair share. And, despite knowing quite a bit about the game, I’m not always the biggest fan. Whether it’s fans or whatever else, I don’t always enjoy myself. When I go, however, I try and get away from people. I watch, I’ll cheer and I support.

Two Sundays ago, my nice — a junior in high school — and her teammates won a state championship. It was the second straight year they played in the title game, losing in overtime last year.

Many of these girls have played together through all these years. From “pee-wee” style, to travel, to indoor, to junior high, to JV to varsity …

Yeah, it’s been quite a trip.

It’s quite amazing, actually, to look at some of these older photos. To see how these young ladies have grown and developed as players. They’ve always been quite talented, too.

One of the best parts about these girls is many of them went through the ranks together. To be sure, there are key people who joined up at different times, but a good handful of these girls started at a young age together.

That has to help.

Controlling the ball in 2006.

Not just for the sake of knowing one another, but have been friends for a long time and know what the others can do.

Last year, this one set of girls were sophomores. Though there were upperclassmen on the team, these girls made an impact.

How good were they?

Two of them shared player of the year honors from the local newspaper.

That good.

This year, they were strong as normal. They rallied in spots they needed to. They reached the state final and the opposing team scored early. Things didn’t seem so good.

But, despite how the game went, they battled. A goal early in the second half tied it and then the winner — an extremely odd and crazy goal — came with about a minute left.

When the final horn sounded, they exploded in celebration.

I went digging for the photos of my niece in this post. But while I was at it, I found some others of the girls she is still teammates with. It’s quite amazing to see what they were like back then — still battling, still playing and still competing. They learned young and the payoff was obviously worth the time.

Hopefully, they cherish this moment and relish in the accomplish they had. It’s something to truly be proud and thankful for. A hearty congrats and maybe they’ll be able to do it again next year.

Check out some of the photos below.

This girl has become one of the top players in the area. And the other girl in the yellow jersey is one of the fastest on the team.

This gal is now one of the top defenders.

Even at a younger, this one was connecting on corner kicks. Now they are quite an offensive threat any time she takes one.

Now… the goalie.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Soundless Sunday: Sept. 15

Sep 15

“Curling is sweeping the nation.”

– Author unknown

Sweep!

Soundless Sunday is a weekly feature where I’ll try and feature a favorite quote and a photo that I’ve taken. Enjoy life — it’s the only way to go!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Foto Friday: Seeing all aspects in sports photography

May 10

Though photography as a whole is a passion of mine, I really enjoy sports photography.

I have several favorite topics when shooting photos, but there’s something special about stopping action in a shot. Capturing a ball in midair or an athlete doing something really wild makes it even better. Though I love video, I’ll take a great action shot over the video any day.

Recently, I’ve shot a few softball and lacrosse games of a local college.

This isn’t a how-to post when it comes to action photography. I have to keep learning just as much as anybody else. I know I can continue to get better and that’s why I try and shoot sports photos whenever I have a chance.

The thing is trying to think a little differently. Not just the pitching or swinging photos in softball or baseball, but something different.

Baseball and softball can be tough to shoot at times. There’s the issue of timing when the ball is going to be in play somewhere, or being thrown, or being hit. There are times when you focus on somebody and nothing happens. But there’s so much more going on. It’s a true game of reaction when it comes to photos.

With all that in mind, below are some of my favorites I’ve taken of the local college and their spring sports I saw, as well as some thoughts on my process of getting them.

I actually haven’t processed all my photos from the games, so I’m going with ones I have done and have already uploaded to Flickr.

1. Quick to react

Even if you focus on a certain player or spot during a game, you still have to be quick to react. Sometimes you can fire off several shots and still not get the ball or good action. Shots like this one really work out well because it goes beyond the norm. This is one of my favorite shots because of her focus, as well as the bouncing ball — where you even see the shadow.

Stay focused.

2. Other things make good images

The photo of a sporting event doesn’t have to always be on the action. Look around. Are there celebrations? People being upset? With those two, you can capture emotion. This shot is something I liked. I knew this umpire, so I was going to get a few shots of him. This one, in between innings, really worked out for me as he flipped the ball up and down.

In between innings.

3. Close in on the action

No matter what anybody says, I’m a firm believer that one’s whole body doesn’t have to be in the image. Take, for example, this one. What more would it add if their legs and feet were in the shot? The action would be more of a wider shot. In this one, you can see the action, the expressions and the ball (in the netting of the one stick).

Battling

4. Shoot from the front or, at worst, side

Nobody wants to see an image behind the action. It’s one of the biggest issues I find with disc golf images. Try and keep it so you capture the action and, hopefully, the faces of those involved. In this one, the Delhi (gold) player is coming in on the action, but the shooter from the other team is coming almost right at me. This shot would have been worthless if taken from behind. Instead, it’s one of my favorites from the season because of the action and where the ball is.

Shooting

5. Anticipate

Sports photography is all about knowing what could happen and where. If you think something might happen, focus on that spot. Especially in baseball and softball. You can only take so many images of pitching and hitting, so look around. Is there a chance somebody could steal? Focus on that base. Is a certain player hitting one way? Stay looking at that spot. It’s all anticipation. This shot was one where I had a feeling there would be a steal coming. As it was, I snapped a whole series of shots, but this one really shows the thought of anticipation with the dirt flying up on the slide.

 

Safe

Sports is a great theme when it comes to photography. And the best part of it is it really challenges your skills and your ability. One thing I would recommend, no matter what, is to familiarize yourself with the sport you might shoot. You don’t have to be an expert, but knowing a bit about the sport will help you react, anticipate and find the good spots when it comes to shooting. Most of all, have fun with it. I have a ton of interests when it comes to photography, but sports images are still the ones that make me get excited more than most because there’s a better chance to really get that “one” shot.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Feeling what it’s like to cash at a disc golf tournament

Mar 20

(Note: For those who don’t know, I also run a disc golf blog – Rattling Chains. I have written some first-person posts over there that I think some readers here will enjoy, so I’m going to sprinkle them in every once in a while on a day when I’m coming up blank!)

Cha-ching!

I’m sure many of you tournament players out there have experienced the feeling of having your name called out after an event and being handed either a gift certificate or cold, hard cash when you place or, better yet, win.

What a feeling.

To be fair, I kind of already experienced it. But both times were pretty cheap — and I’ll be the first to admit it.

I won’t be making a living off playing disc golf, but it still felt cool to get this.

When I first started playing, I somehow won the first tournament I was involved in. It was non-sanctioned, and the other person in the division was just as new as I was. Basically, we were battling to see who wouldn’t finish last.

I also somehow won a PDGA-sanctioned event. But I was the only person in the division and the tournament director was kind enough to leave the division intact and not force me to move up and get whipped.

Needless to say, I never really experienced the feeling of cashing.

My normal goal when I play in a tournament is to not embarrass myself. That basically means I try not to melt down and I hope to avoid big-number holes. But if the course is long and for big arms, I usually start dragging by the end of the second round. I get pretty beat up and it makes the game no fun.

And I hate that.

So I really dig doubles tournaments. I normally team up with Darren Dolezel, who is another member of the Rattling Chains staff. Our goal is to usually try and compete, have some fun and see what happens.

In the past, we haven’t done so well. For whatever reason, we just don’t score. Whether it’s because we don’t play well off one another, are tired or just get into trouble, we don’t seem to place well.

A few weeks ago, I thought we had a solid chance to cash. Alas, it didn’t work so well. It was a Mr. DiscGolf doubles tournament at Tyler State Park in Pennsylvania. The course is remarkable, but it can play long — even with the pins in the short position.

Add in a 36-hole singles tournament the day before, colder weather and having to play 50 holes on this day, and it didn’t work out so well. Looking back, I can count at least six or seven stupid mistakes we made. If we erase those, we might have had a good chance at cashing.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

A few weeks later — the Saturday following Thanksgiving — we were at it again. This time at the Turkey Throwdown III at Schenectady Central Park in upstate New York. The setup for this tournament is playing best score from the short tees and the second round was best shot from the long tees.

This setup wasn’t particularly good for us as Darren is a much better player than me, so my goal was to help on a couple of holes in the first round and hope Darren could carry us.

From there, he’d have to again carry us in the second round as he’s the longer thrower. That meant from the long tees, he needed to really give us a shot to score.

The prize for my certificate… now to break it in!

Add those things together and it likely spelled doom, even in the rec division.

Our first round went decent. Our 57 put us in a tie for seventh in the 13-team division. With another team shooting a 49 in the opening round (the only four teams to score better in the 36-team tournament were the three pro teams and the team to eventually win the Am division), we weren’t counting on a win. But with some steady play, maybe we could get into the top part of the grid.

Eventually, though, something has to click.

Right?

We started out strong in the second round and were consistent throughout. We ended with a 61, which put us in good position. Still, I didn’t think we had a chance to cash as I was sure the teams in front of us would have been pretty steady as well.

I was wrong.

Our 61 did enough to put us into fourth place. It’s not the biggest of paydays — a $15 certificate each to the club store. But it’s still cashing. I also can’t lie — knowing you’ll get called up to get this certificate, even cooler.

So, yes, I was a little giddy.

I ended up with one disc for my “bucks” and in the end, I was just happy to have that feeling of truly cashing. It may never happen again. Who knows?

If you’ve never had a chance to cash at a tournament, it’s my hope you get that chance. It truly is a feeling all disc golfers should get at least once in their lifetime.

This first appeared on Rattling Chains on Dec. 11, 2012. 

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog@gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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