Sunday, June 2, 2013

May 31- Albuquerque Isotopes

It’s kind of funny how often people ask me one specific question and it turns into the most complex scavenger hunt this side of “Super Sloppy Double Dare.” Not so much the 1987 version though. I think the “Super-ness” and the “Sloppy-ness” really came into its own on its second run in 1989. But we can debate all that nonsense later. The question I’m referring to, at least in my head, seems like an incredibly easy task; that being, “what would you like for a gift?” This has been a common question any of us have heard throughout our lives, but very seldom do any of us ever have an answer right on the spot. Yes, when you were around 10-years-old you probably asked for a Super Nintendo because the graphics were “so much radder” than that of the NES. Depending on how old most of you are, that entire reference probably launched right over your heads. My point is, now that we’re in our adult years the only thing that really constitutes as an appropriate gift in money… or Dave and Buster’s gift certificates if that’s your thing. Having never been to Dave and Buster’s I cannot attest for its awesomeness, but what I can tell you is that in most cases I just tell people I want New Era Caps when it comes to gifts.

Given my circumstance, let alone my boisterous appreciation for New Era’s product mixed with my extensive love for baseball, one might think that this is a more than reasonable (and obvious) request. However, as I’ve quickly learned the last two years from my parents, even after I’ve given them specific lists of which hats I’m looking for, I still end up with $50 in ITunes gift cards and some baseball books. I’m not going to deny how awesome those gifts are, but it would be kind of nice if I had a hat or two waiting to surprise me underneath the Christmas tree. As it stands now only four people have been successful in this mission.

Will MacNeil (@RFWill149) has hooked it up quite a few times, and I still feel like I’m in his debt for his generosity. Will has gotten me four hats thus far; two of which I’ve written about on March 9th and April 5th. The other two will be coming later. Then of course I have my wonder girlfriend Angie Kinderman (@sconnieangie) who got me this beauty on April 18th. Third, let’s just say I was treated very well by the New Era Flagship store in New York City while I was in the MLB Fan Cave. Actually, for the sake of not getting anyone in trouble, I was only gifted one hat which will be covered down the road. As for the fourth person, a fine tip of the cap goes out to my friend Tyler Runyan who got me this Albuquerque Isotopes.

Tyler and I have known each other for a solid six years. We first met at Max’s Tavern in Eugene, Oregon during the summer of 2007 as we were both trying to covet the wonderful prizes of sorts during Max’s Tuesday Knight Trivia. After a few months of being each other’s nemesis we decided to join forces for a bit. Then dude pal got a job at the bar, all the while I continued to clean up at trivia. As years pressed on I joined the staff and then we started taking English classes together at the University of Oregon. Anytime one of us didn’t want to show up at class we always made sure to text ahead so that the person actually going to class could mark the initial’s of whomever stayed home. Anytime we were together outside of work and school we generally just talked about Saturday Night Live sketches, specifically an Adam Sandler sketch where he plays a drunken Bostonian reminiscing about his days at the Boston Garden during Celtics games. The one moment in particular that literally had us pissing in our pants was when Sandler talks about beating the organ player because he didn’t know the intro to “Freeze Frame” by J. Geils Band. This became our song, and one of us would always turn it on the loudspeakers at the bar as the other walked in for a beer.

Not too long after I returned from my whirlwind trip across the country did I realize that Tyler had moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. Not too long after that he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where his longtime girlfriend Ali lived. They soon got engaged and I moved back to Eugene to finish up school. We didn’t talk to each other much after that, but we would text each other jokes every now-and-then to let the other person know they were still alive.

On May 4th I got a text from Tyler asking if I had even been to an Isotopes game. I told him I hadn’t even been in “The Land of Enchantment” (state motto of N.M.). He then went on about the game and how awesome the setup is, and that I of all people would really appreciate going out there. All of this is true; I’ve been wanting to get out to a game for quite some time. He then made his way to the gift shop and sent me a photo of the giant wall of hats which featured an array of custom Isotopes hats, game style and even old school Albuquerque Dukes hats. 

Now, during the time we were talking it was mostly taking place on Facebook as I was in the middle of doing research on another blog post and I completely missed the part about him asking me which hat I wanted. He had previously asked my size and offered to buy on for me, but I missed the part where I was supposed to give him relatively important information regarding the fact that I don’t particularly like custom caps; however, a gift hat is a gift hat, and I appreciate them all the same. After sliding him my address and giving him many, many thank yous I waited.

I went to California and back to catch the Oakland Athletics take on the Kansas City Royals during the Third Annual Bacon Fest over the weekend of May 17th-19th and when I got back I had this lovely box waiting on my bed.

Needles to say, I was a bit confused, mostly for the sake that I couldn’t figure out how the mascot for the Houston Astros got my address. Which reminds me of another thing; mascots CANNOT have the same name. The Isotopes mascot is also names Orbit, which technically is legit because the current Astros’ Orbit is a re-release after taking a hypersnooze for the last 14 years. Not knowing what awaited, I grabbed a knife, cut the tape off and dove into the completely full box of packing peanuts… and this hat. As soon as I saw the hat, all of the packing peanuts made way more sense.

Due to the fact that this Isotopes cap is a custom I will forgo talking about the team’s history until I get my hands on one or more of the official caps, but… keeping within the realm of my markings, I have two good ones for this cap. Both of the numbers I chose are for two players who made an impact in the game that Tyler and Ali attended on the 4th, one of which who got called up not too long after that game. Crazy!

#17- Nick Buss is a two-time draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the first of which came in the 35th round of the 2006 amateur draft out of De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, Michigan. The second time came in the 8th round of the 2008 amateur draft while he was attending USC (like a jerk) (Sorry, Trojan bias. Quack Quack!!!). As a leftfielder and centerfielder, Buss has made his way through the ranks of every Minor League affiliate in the Dodgers organization and has been with the Isotopes since the start of the 2013 season.

On the night of May 4th Buss went into “Billy Badass mode” and had himself a multi-hit game. His at-bats looked like this...

1st- single

2nd- F7

3rd- triple

4th- 2-run home run

5th- strikeout swinging

Yes, Mr. Buss almost hit for the natural cycle and then almost finished up a miscellaneous cycle just in case. Alas, he didn’t, but what he did was still impressive nonetheless.

#38- Originally slotted as a first baseman, current Dodgers outfielder and son of Andy Van Slyke, Scott was drafted by the Dodgers in 14th round of the 2005 June amateur draft out of John Burroughs High School in Laude, Missouri. Due o the overwhelming presence of outfielder on the Dodgers 25-man roster, Van Slyke had been stretching his legs with the Isotopes since 2009, with a few brief stints at AA Chattanooga with the Lookouts and advanced-A Inland Empire with the 66ers.

On this particular night Van Slyke went 2-4 with a single and a home run, his ninth on the year at the time. His batting average was a solid .408, his OPS 1.255 and he had knocked in 27 runs in just a little over a month. After that, the Dodgers brass came to their sense and called him up for his second stint in the Majors.

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