Saturday, July 15, 2017

Road Trip:Kannapolis

The second day of the trip featured my first visit to Kannapolis NC,home of the low A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox and the team that was owned by and named after the late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt as the Intimidators.

The Intimidators (On this very field in full Vince McMahon voice) defeated the Hagerstown Suns four times in two days in June to complete a collapse that saw the Suns first half lead evaporate in the North Carolina heat and give Kannapolis-not Hagerstown the first half championship in the South Atlantic League.

The Parrish's accompanied Mike Oravec and myself to Kannapolis and my expectations weren't high.
I had read reviews of the imaginatively named Intimidators Stadium that weren't glowing,but Bob talked to us before the game and described it in even worse terms.
Bob would later tell us that he likely "undersold" the place without realizing it.

Pulling into Kannapolis,it's clear that this was a suburban stadium that was placed near the highway and hoped that time would fill things in around it.
That didn't happen and that is why Kannapolis is rumored to be considering a new ballpark in their downtown.
I'm not a huge fan of downtown parks,I'll take an easy to get into and easy to get out of suburban park every time.
You walk into the stadium under a small area that resembles a carport more than anything that oversees the field and that's the last shade that you will see in Kannapolis.

There are plenty of steps here as in you walk down (and up) two long levels of steps to get from the top level to the field in an attempt to autograph.
On this day,there was a doubleheader between the Intimidators and (surprise) the Hagerstown Suns because while we were getting a 30 min thunderstorm that cleared out in Augusta on Saturday,these two teams were getting rained out in Kannapolis.
As a result,a meet the team scheduled was first postponed to between games and then pushed to after the doubleheader.
We didn't find that out until after the initial game,so our mistake was graphing the Suns rather than Kannapolis before game one.
Both team enter the field via clubhouses that reside beyond left centerfield and walk across the outfield to their dugout.
Graphing access isn't that bad here,so you can get some things finished.

The stadium's playing surface itself reminded me some of my visit to Lexington,but what the seating portion reminded me of was Charleston,but the seats seem to be a little farther away from the field than in West Virginia.
You could see plenty though and I have no complaints about the sightlines at all.
The food was OK,I had a hot dog,fries and a soda for eight dollars,that's not oppressive for a ball park at all.
Not a lot of choices,but the price was right.
The crowd here rivaled the Muni and for now Kannapolis is the only team that Hagerstown is outdrawing,
although that comes down to one fact-Hagerstown had Tim Tebow hit their town for four games and Kannapolis didn't get them at all.

However,what was oppressive was the heat.
Remember the shade comment above? This is how bad it was.
We sat just a few rows from the field on plastic seats and when you sat down,it felt like your bottom was on top of a working oven.
I'm not exaggerating and it gets worse.
Most times in these situations,you get more comfortable,but that's not the case here!
The slightest move and you were warmed again!
I've never felt anything like this at a ballpark and I can only imagine that if the plastic seats were that hot-what on earth could the metal bleacher seats feel like?
If you go here,consider bringing a stadium seat or at least a blanket!

The best part of the game was sitting around and talking baseball with Mike,Bob,Will and Tucker.
Tucker tells me that his goal is to be a general manager for a major sports team.
He has the knowledge for sure and I loved talking baseball along with a lot of NFL draft talk as well.
It's been a long time since I've been around someone of his age that has this much on the ball.

After game one (another Kannapolis win),we decided to work on our Intimidators team set (I am working on two others for traders) on their side and add the 2017 White Sox first round pick Jake Burger on two baseballs for Fred and Michael Landucci.
I was very glad that I was able to get those finished for them as they do so much for me.
Mike then made a friend as he was accused of stealing a ball left lying around by some kid and verbal hi-jinks ensued!
By now,everyone was hot,tired and hungry,so we were picking up dinner before we went back to the house,but first the boys wanted Icee's from a local store named QT.
They raved about their Icee and they did have a good one in Cherry Limeade.
They didn't have a grape and it wasn't quite Thornton's from my Louisville trip,but it was in the ballpark!

We stopped at Penn Station,which is a sub chain that I've seen plenty of times,but never stopped to try.
Mike graciously paid for all of our dinners (what a guy!) and I ordered a Reuben,which has always been a favorite,as long as I don't have to have it on rye bread!
We watched the Futures game on "tape" and saw what we think proved to be the last game that Eloy Jimenez played as property of the Cubs,as Jimenez was traded to the White Sox as part of a package for veteran pitcher Jose Quintana.
If only I was able to discuss that trade with Tucker on that day!
The Reuben was top notch and I might be willing to try Penn Station on another day/trip.

I forgot to tell you one thing more about the Parrish's-they are a Strat O Matic family!
Yep,I took Tucker on with my 2010 Giants against his Nationals with the old dice.
I mostly play the PC game now due to the speed of the game and not having to keep stats,but there is so much to be said about the dice and card game for sure.
Lots of fun and when the evening wound down,I was exhausted and went to sleep far earlier than the previous night.

Good company,good times and a better than expected ballpark as well.
I found myself liking Kannapolis more than I thought I would and I'd come back-but I'd try to add a few provisions for a return-mainly let's try to go earlier in the year or if in summer season,gotta make it a night game.It's just too much sun....

I'll be back tonight with the boxing challenge with bouts from HBO,Fox and two key fights from the United Kingdom.....

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