Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Baseball for 1,500 Fans (Indians 10, Bisons 9)

Astute SoSG readers may have noticed an absence of posts from Steve Sax of late. (Really astute readers are celebrating the lack of Sax, but that's another story.) Sax has been traveling, but logs in from the road with a report from Buffalo, NY, home of the Buffalo Bisons, AAA-Indians.

Last night's game at Dunn Tire Park saw a spunky Buffalo Bisons squad almost rally from a 10-4 deficit, before coming up just short 10-9 and losing to the Indianapolis Indians (AAA-Pirates). Yes, it's a little confusing to see the triple-A team from the Indians lose to another triple-A team called the Indians. With both sides related to offensive team names, it was only fitting that the offense led the day with 19 total runs scored.

But was even more curious was the low, low turnout at the stadium: 6,855 tickets sold, but only 1,500 fans in attendance. In a way, it was a perfect reflection of the sad state of Buffalo, a proud city that used to be a center of industry (apparently, there was a time when Buffalo was the second-most populous city in the US), but is now filled with beautiful but empty downtown buildings.

So too was Dunn Tire Park a shell of a facility. The park itself is in great shape, well painted and maintained, and built with wide concourses, a nice big outfield television screen, and good sightlines. But with no one in the stadium, it almost seemed cavernous in its abandoned state. Goofy conehead-wearing beer vendors traipsed up and down the aisles desperate for business. No ushers appeared in the stands. And there were no lines at the concession stands, which was convenient but sad.

Buster the Bison comes out intermittently to throw t-shirts to the crowd, but aside from his hdeously oversized head, there was little else to distract one from the game. Down 10-6 in the bottom of the seventh, three runs were scored by Ryan Mulher, (bases-loaded single scores one), a bases-loaded walk, and then a run-scoring GIDP by journeyman Trent Durrington.

The rally ended in the next at-bat, when Franklin Gutierrez, who I seem to recall may have been a Dodger at some point, struck out on a foul tip to end his 19-game hitting streak (he went 0-for-5). Holding up the runner at third earlier in the inning on the base hit seemed costly at the time, but in the end it wouldn't have made a difference. Rich Donnelly, take note.

$7 got a ticket right behind home plate, four rows up on the field level, under a beautiful cloudless evening, with a post-game fireworks show complementing plenty of fireworks during the game. I even got on the big screen (they must have recognized Steve Sax--or maybe it was the fact that I was probably the only non-regular in the crowd, and almost the only one with a collared shirt).

A large banner in left proudly displays cumulative Bisons attendance, since 1877, at just over 3 million--what the Dodgers take in a year's time. Sure, it was a sad comparison. But there weren't any parking jams exiting the stadium, either. Anyway, for one night, I was proud to add one more digit to the Bisons' attendance ranks.


Orel said...

Franklin Gutierrez was involved in the Milton Bradley trade.

Orel said...

Oh, and welcome back!

Steve Sax said...

Nice to see major league ball again...going on Friday night vs. the Cubbies.

Steve Sax said...

Gutierrez looks like he was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent, but only got major league playing time with the Cleveland Indians (acc. to baseball reference).