August 9, 2010

Saturday Night in Rancho Cucamonga

I’ve become the Juan Rivera of bloggers. That’s right; I’ve been slacking lately and not keeping up with True Grich. My apologies.

A lot happened since I last blogged. Namely Torii Hunter happened. Unfortunately everything that happened regarding “Big Game” Hunter escaped me because I was either on my way to Denver, in Denver, coming home from Denver or elsewhere while Hunter was making headlines.

No, I wasn’t there to scout the Rockies; in fact, I didn’t even get to see them play because they were out of town while I was there and unfortunately, I can’t blog about Coors Field, etc.

So, what am I going to blog about you ask?

Saturday night, Cheryl and I took a road trip to Rancho Cucamonga to see the Quakes, the Angels Single “A” affiliate. We wanted to get a look at Mike Trout, the Angels top minor league prospect (apologies to Hank Conger fans).

We were hungry for some winning baseball and the Quakes are actually pretty good. Going into Saturday night, they were a game out of first place and tied for second (as of today they’re in a three way tie for first).

Saturday night ended up being perfect in a lot of ways. First of all, we were about to watch a mini Freeway Series as the Dodgers’ affiliate Inland Empire 66ers were the visiting team and it turned out to be Mike Trout’s birthday. Mike turned a whopping 19 years of age that night.

If you’ve never been to a minor league baseball game, you really need to visit the Quakes at the appropriately named Epicenter. The most expensive ticket you can purchase is $12 and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Cheryl and I had $8 seats that were in the second section above the visitor’s dug out. We had a great view of everything.

Check this out. Parking was $4. Our dinner cost a total of $15 for both of us; which included two pulled pork sandwiches, chips and a drink. At Angel Stadium the sandwich alone would cost you $9.50. For two dollars less you got chips and a drink. Can you beat that?

There isn’t a huge selection of food, but you can’t beat the price.

The Quakes games are incredibly fan friendly. As we came into the stadium – there was a player at each entrance standing to sign autographs. On this night we were greeted by Jon Townsend and Angel Castillo. As we walked around, we had our picture taken by one of the roving photographers who said to look for our photo on the big screen in right field during the game.

As we continued to roam around the
park, we caught Mike Trout heading out to take some batting practice and he stopped to pose for a picture with Cheryl. If I had been prepared with ball and pen, we could have had his autograph too.

It was a very relaxed atmosphere and we were having a blast even before the first pitch was even thrown.

We settled into the seats and the P.A. announcer gave the starting lineups. As the Dodgers were introduced, I heard the name Scott Van Slyke and I wondered if he was the son of former major league player Andy Van Slyke. Turns out that’s exactly who he was. I also noticed there was a Dustin Yount on the team and wondered if he was the son of Hall of Famer Robin Young. Turns out he was as well. Neither appears to be great prospects as they’re a little old by Single "A" baseball standards. Van Slyke is 24 and Yount is 27.

On the mound for the Dodgers was Ronald Belisario, who was doing a rehab assignment after being put on the “restricted list” for a substance abuse violation.

I was excited to know that Trout would be facing a major league pitcher and even more delighted when he singled off Belisario in the bottom of the first inning.

The 66ers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning as both Van Slyke and Yount went yard against Garrett Richards. Not the start we were hoping for; in fact, it reminded us of some Angel games we had been to lately. The 66ers would actually get out to a 5-1 lead before the Quakes rallied from behind.

We were clearly watching minor league baseball as some routine plays, didn’t look so routine every now and then. We also noticed a theme… run early and run often. The 66ers stole four bases while being thrown out five times. That’s right – they attempted nine stolen bases. The Quakes were also playing Mike Scioscia’s brand of baseball as they stole three bases (including one by Mike Trout) while being thrown out once.

The Quakes catcher Alberto Rosario showed off a great arm in gunning down the 66ers five times. Don’t get too excited, Rosario is 23 years old and was actually playing Double "A" baseball for the Angels at their Arkansas Travelers affiliate earlier this year (where he only hit .224).

The players weren’t the only ones providing action on the field Saturday night. The Quakes have two mascots named Tremor and After Shock. They also had an on the field correspondent/host in a guy named Crazy J, who wore an oversized cowboy hat as he interacted with fans, conducted contests and help lead the crowd in cheers.

Music also played a big role in the night as songs were incorporated into the game. When the 66ers walked – you could hear songs like “Dancing Queen” and “Pretty Woman, walking down the street.” When the Quakes received a walk, they played songs like “Walk this way.” Other sound bites, like “doh” would come out of no where from time to time.

If you’re getting the impression that a lot was going on all the time, you are starting to get the feel of minor league baseball. It was a blast.

The game ended up being pretty good too as the Quakes rallied for a 6-5 walk off win. Clay Fuller delivered the walk off single for the victory. Some things remain constant even at the minor league level (Angels over Dodgers).

Trout went 2 for 5 on the evening with a stolen base, RBI and a run scored.

The evening came to a perfect finish with a small fireworks show. It wasn’t nearly as grand as a Big Bang Friday, but it was fun never-the-less and included some good music.

The last time Cheryl and I went to a Quakes game, it was 2005 and Jered Weaver, Kendry Morales, and Brandon Wood were the headliners. We came away from this evening thinking about how much fun we’ve missed over the years and we knew we’d be back.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. Jenelyn RussoAugust 10, 2010

    I went to my first Quakes game earlier this season and loved it. Such a fun, family friendly atmosphere. And really affordable. Didn't get to see Trout play and the Quakes lost, but we had a wonderful time anyway. Great post.

  2. Nice post, James! I went to a Quakes game on the 12th of July and met Mike Trout. Everything you described is perfect: it was a great experience for me and my son. In the game I attended Clay Fuller also won the game via a walk-off after a huge 6-run deficit. Seems the Quakes starters aren't that great, but their bullpen is quite good.

  3. You're right. I took a trip to the United States from Japan last month and watched five games. Two ware at Oakland Coliseum and another two ware at Dodger Stadium. Watching MLB games at stadium was fantastic experience for me. But actually, I enjoyed Quakes game at Rancho Cucamonga the most!