Results tagged ‘ Midland RockHounds ’

On the Road: Oils Well That Ends Well in Midland

On this trip, my travel schedule was pretty grueling: ballpark, write, sleep, drive, repeat. Texas-sized travel itineraries didn’t leave any time for idle explorations.

Therefore, upon arriving at Midland’s Sleep Inn, I was relieved to see that the RockHounds’ home — Security Bank Ballpark —  was right across the street. No more driving for me that evening, from there on out I was gonna be a walking man!

So walk I did. Over the course of this arduous five-minute journey, I noticed that Security Bank Ballpark is located adjacent to another facility.

In true Texas fashion, this is a high school football stadium (the town of Odessa, where Friday Night Lights took place, is next to Midland). It hosts two local teams, and was built at the same time as the RockHounds stadium.

But on this overcast and windy evening,  the only game in town was Minor League Baseball.

Midland RockHounds Minor League Baseball.

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Built in 2002, Security Bank Ballpark is a pleasant and serviceable albeit rather generic facility. A bit later in the evening I posted the following tweet, and responses ranged from Arizona Spring Training facilities to Gwinnett County, Georgia to Colorado Springs. Given its lack of distinctive design elements and its location in a rather barren (but growing) part of town, this is one of the more anonymous facilities in Minor League Baseball.

But Security Bank Ballpark has accomplished everything it needed to and then some. It easily meets professional standards, provides the front office with plenty of room in which to create new entertainment features and group areas, and is on the verge of being paid off some 14 years ahead of schedule (more on that, and Midland’s currently booming oil-based economy in general, can be found in this MiLB.com piece).

And did you know that a “RockHound” is a slang word for a geologist (usually of the amateur variety)?  Since they’re the RockHounds and all, the team has its own lucky rock located outside of the stadium.

(Did you hear the one about the foul-smelling RockHound? He ran out of geoderant.)

I touched the rock on the way in, and, for the record, I have had nothing but fun and good times since then. I water-skied to work this morning.

Soon after arriving at the stadium I met with RockHounds assistant general manager Greg Berman, and we took a lap of the facility. This batting cage just opened this season, and, in addition to being used by the players for their batting cage needs, it is also used for ballpark events such as autograph sessions.

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Beyond that is the weight room, which I would deem fair to Midland.

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At one point during our wanderings I was able to snap this candid shot of Rocky RockHound in conversation with Juice the Moose. Is it just me, or does Rocky look like he has a face on the back of his head? I was told that they were simply spots.

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Here we are at the ProPetro Diamond Club, open to season ticket and suite holders. No hoi polloi allowed.

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If you don’t have a season ticket or a suite, you can walk up to these friendly folks and buy a ticket.

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And if it’s a Thursday, the first order of business is for of-age fans to prove that they are of age. You can’t quench your booze thirst without a wristband!

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At this point Bergman had left in order to perform his actual job duties, and I commenced to solo wandering.

The Coors Light Playground?

America, Texas, and the Midland RockHounds

1627 An action shot from the youth field, located in an area of the ballpark which may soon be converted to a water park.

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(In)Action Shots

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If you are walking on the concourse, you should, oh, I don’t know: WATCH FOR FOUL BALLS.

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A new addition to the stadium this season is this concourse train.

This ain’t no sedentary train, either.

If you want sedentary, then head on over to the Rocky Town Tavern.

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I don’t drink on the job (much), but I was definitely planning on eating a meal. I didn’t have a designated eater at this particular stop (as in, an individual who consumes the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits), so I just wandered around and pondered my options.

This stand had walking tacos and Frito pie, among other delicacies that I can no longer discern.

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And this place had a whole bunch of stuff. If only I had written down what!

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Eating gluten-free at a ballpark can be tough. I had a craving for some nachos, which are sometimes gluten-free and sometimes not. I therefore commenced to crack the case of “Are the Midland RockHounds nachos gluten free?”

A cardboard box on a cart next to the concession kiosk listed the ingredients of the chips, which did turn out to be gluten-free. Then I noticed the cheese was from Ortega, and internet research revealed that their nacho cheese is gluten-free.

So I took the plunge and ordered up some chicken macho na–

TRAIN COMING THROUGH

1638Whoa, close call. Anyhow, I got some chicken macho nachos. They were good.

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Here’s something you don’t see every day, a trio of Tabasco dispensers.

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I ate my nachos as the sun went down on Midland. That’s not just the name of an iconic country song; for a couple of minutes it was my reality.

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Still visible, to my immediate left, was the gargantuan high school football stadium mentinoed before. This facility is run by the RockHounds staff and also hosts the Midland/Odessa Sockers of the USL Premier Development League.

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I don’t have a video clip, but let it be known that RockHounds third baseman Miles Head uses Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” as his walk-up song. That’s a rather fatalistic outlook for a 23-year-old, but also an apt metaphor for life in the Minors (in which “God” = “Baseball”). That song applies to all of us, really. We’re all gonna get knocked down, hoi polloi and former presidents alike.

Speaking of which: While 21 of the RockHounds’ 22 suites are named after baseball players, this one is named after prez-turned-painter George W. Bush.

1644My wanderings, they bring me everywhere, and in this particular instance they brought me to the concourse area near the right field foul pole. One dude with a fake beard and a bazooka and one kid attempting to don a fake beard were on their way to shoot hot dogs at the crowd with said bazooka.

1645 Good luck out there, guys.

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Next, I visited RockHounds groundskeeper Eric Campbell in his groundskeeping lair. Our resulting conversation became the basis of an entertaining MiLB.com article that touched on dust, fire, tarantulas, and owl vomit.

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After bidding adieu to Campbell and crew, I came upon Rocky and Juice riding a bicycle together. Juice fell off.

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Throughout the evening, I had tried to capture the frightening sound effects that are played over the loudspeaker every time a visiting batter strikes out. Finally, in the ninth inning, I nailed it. The more you listen to this Vine, the better it gets.

And, hey, look, the home team won! (The visiting team was Corpus Christi, for the record.)

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I haven’t been doing #cupdates much on this trip, but I came across this collectible item among the post-game detritus.

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Post-game launch-a-ball! Every team does it a little bit differently; in Midland the primary target is a car on the pitcher’s mound.

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And that’ll do it from Midland. I hope that RockHounds were satisfied with my reportage, both here and on MiLB.com. If not, I’m sure I’ll hear about it via the issuance of a scathing press release.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Under Attack! (And It Feels So Good)

siege.jpgThe World Series ended last night, but that wasn’t the biggest piece of news to emanate from the baseball world.

Of far greater import was the discovery, during a routine Google search, of a press release attacking my skill and integrity as a journalist. That the release was written a month and a half ago is beside the point, what matters is that it exists and I now have something entertaining to write about this afternoon.

On September 19, the day after losing the Texas League Championship, the Midland RockHounds issued forth a missive entitled “Benjamin Hill Was Wrong.

Their beef seems to stem from a single paragraph in my TL Championship preview, in which I wrote: “… the RockHounds went 35-35 in both halves and made it to the playoffs by virtue of playing in the league’s thoroughly lackluster South Division.”

But hell hath no fury like a RockHound very mildly scorned. Let’s go to the invective:

Either Mr. Hill was absent during “research week” in school (sir, the word “thoroughly” in your so-called “preview” constitutes an editorial) or his research is, itself, “thoroughly lackluster.”

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First, Mr. Hill completely overlooked the fact that the North included Arkansas, the second worst team in all of Minor League Baseball (gee, Ben, think THAT might have inflated some win-loss records?). Second, he ignored the fact that the South was very well-balanced…Last, Ben Hill knows precious LITTLE about Darren Bush ‘s baseball club.

And, later: Note to Ben Hill. Both Midland College and the University Of Texas Permian Basin (in Odessa, if that’s more convenient) offer excellent journalism courses. Perhaps a refresher is overdue.

Let me make clear that I am not upset by any of this in the least. But as this is the only blog material I have today, I’ll make a few observations:

– Wouldn’t it have made a lot more sense to have written this release BEFORE the RockHounds lost in the Finals?

– Rivalries are fun, and it’s always great when teams can feed off of bulletin board material. I would love to see front offices deliberately cultivate rivalries throughout the playoffs, antagonizing the opposing team in order to create greater fan interest.

Or, conversely, you can wait until after the playoffs and then attack a so-called “journalist” who had no interest in the outcome whatsoever.

– Midland RockHounds? More like Middlin’ RockHounds! Am I right or am I right?

– Finally, I write about Minor League Baseball year-round and go out of my way to make sure my readers can get in touch. If your team wants to go after me, then please let me know! I’m totally on board, and will do my best to promote your endeavors.

It’s fun to be insulted! Feel free to give me the what-for at any time and for any reason:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

A Little Something For Everyone

applepie.jpgIt’s a relatively slow time of year, and therefore my supply of blog-worthy material is at preternaturally low levels. But even in these times of famine I can still piece together a post, in much the same way my forefathers were able to piece together artisanal barrels out of tree bark, dried lily pads, and sap.

First and foremost, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that today is Veteran’s Day. Many teams have made a note of this fact via Twitter, Facebook, and website acknowledgments, but in particular I would like to highlight THIS COLUMN written by Wisconsin Timber Rattlers broadcaster Chris Mehring. Using Gary Bedingfield’s ‘Baseball in Wartime‘ website as a guide, Chris provides a interesting primer on the those who have suited up within both professional baseball and the armed forces. The column also includes a mention of Moe Berg, whose story is fascinating and always worth re-visiting.

– Moving on to the world of logos, the Midland RockHounds unveiled their 2010 Texas League All-Star Game insignia. Behold this most quintessentially American piece of pop art:

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And, please, keep any “crude” comments you may have to yourself.

– Moving on, I would like to point out that the Buffalo Bisons are prominently featured in a new AT&T commercial. I am unable to embed this masterwork of persuasion into this blog, but check it out HERE on the team’s Facebook page.

– Finally, a news story I wrote on the third annual Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Golf Tournament can be found HERE. Check it out, and make plans to attend 2010.  

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

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