Results tagged ‘ Buffalo Bisons ’
Thirteen International League teams come to play series in Norfolk every season. Ten – the six teams in the IL North Division and the four teams in the IL West Division – currently visit for one four-game series. The other three – the Tides’ fellow residents in the IL South Division – make three or four visits, playing a total of ten or eleven games in Norfolk.
There are some visiting teams I look forward to seeing more than others. I like to see Durham, the AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Rochester, the AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, because they usually have several exciting prospects. I like to see Louisville, the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, because I lived in Cincinnati for three years and I still follow them. I’m neutral about most of the rest of the teams, but there are two teams I really hate now – the Buffalo Bisons and the Gwinnett Braves. I’ll post why I hate Gwinnett when the G-Braves come back, but today is devoted to the Buffalo Bisons.
From 1969 through 2006, the Tides were the AAA affiliate of the New York Mets. During most of the fourteen seasons that I lived here and the Tides were the AAA Mets’ affiliate, the Mets were an absolutely horrible partner. They would routinely shuffle players in and out of Norfolk with little regard for how they would affect the Tides; they would trade AAA veterans away from Norfolk even if they were key players; and they would almost always trade their interesting minor-league players away before they got to Norfolk. Essentially, the Mets were an arrogant organization, assuming that the Tides should consider themselves lucky to be affiliated with the Mets. This tendency hit rock bottom in 2006, when the struggling Tides asked the Mets to provide them with better AAA veterans, and the Mets presented them with the 40-year-old Jose Offerman. After that season, the Tides explored an affiliation with another team, and the Mets didn’t care until they realized that a PCL team was their only other option. Then the Mets pulled out all the stops to stay with Norfolk. After the Tides affiliated with the Orioles, the Mets lied and said they preferred New Orleans all along. After two years in New Orleans, the Mets affiliated with Buffalo. And, lo and behold, the Mets suddenly signed top AAA free agents for the Buffalo team. As a result of all this (and 1969), I hate the Mets, and therefore I hate Buffalo – at least as long as the Mets are their parent club.
Buffalo is making their annual visit to Harbor Park this weekend. Although I can’t overtly cheer for the Tides or against their opponents, I’ll be gladder when the Tides beat Buffalo than when they beat almost anyone else.
Baseball games are not children’s stories. Good does not always emerge victorious; the plucky underdog, coming back from long odds, does not always triumph.
Friday and Saturday, the Buffalo Bisons played the Norfolk Tides. In any work of fiction, the Bisons would be the bad guys. Their lineup is populated with the best players outside of the major leagues; standing at the plate, players like Mike Hessman, Valentino Pascucci, and Mike Jacobs resemble defensive tackles. In contrast, Tides Matt Angle, Paco Figueroa, and Blake Davis resemble middle-schoolers. The Bisons are the Gashouse Gorillas to the Tides’ Tea Totallers.
The Bisons jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the top half of the fourth. It would have been easy for the Tides to fold, but they battled against crafty control-pitcher Tobi Stoner. When overpowering right-handed relief pitcher Bobby Parnell — he of the 96-mile-an-hour fastball — came in the seventh, it didn’t look good. But the scrappy Tides pecked away at the physically dominating Parnell, and tied the game at 6.
In any work of baseball fiction, the Tides would complete the comeback, winning the game against overpowering odds and being an inspiration to us all. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a work of fiction. Relief pitcher Mike Hinckley loaded the bases and then walked Russ Adams on a 3-2 count. Cla Meredith came in; after a strikeout, Pascucci roped a bases-clearing double off the left-center-field wall. The final score ended up 11-6.
More proof of the unfairness of baseball was presented Saturday night. The Tides’ major-league partner, the Baltimore Orioles, ordered that the Tides not start Jake Arrieta, on the off-chance that they would want him as their thirteenth pitcher. So, naturally, Andy Mitchell, on about five minutes warmup, started and gave up seven runs in two innings. Once again, the Tides refused to give up. They fought back and closed to within one run at 8-7. And once again, their valiant effort went for naught, as the Bisons-Gorillas scored four runs in the ninth inning. Had they not done so, the Tides two runs in the ninth would have been enough for a win; as it is, the Bisons won 12-9.
Somewhere, there must be an underdog who climbed back from insurmountable odds to triumph. Somewhere, a Little Engine That Could is proving that he could not merely think he can, but proves that he really can. Somewhere, a Butler beats Duke. But there is no joy in Norfolk.