Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer is officially here in upstate NY: Valleycats season has begun

After going 3-3 on the road to start the 2015 season, the defending Stedler division champion Tri-City Valleycats began the home portion of their NY-Penn League season tonight in grand style. In front of a sold out crowd, David Paulino and 3 relievers combined for a 1-hit shutout, as Tri-City defeated the Staten Island Yankees, 6-0.

Paulino went 4 1/3 innings, which would not be enough to qualify for a win, but didn't give up a hit, striking out six while walking two. What had been ruled an infield hit in the top of the fifth inning was later changed to a fielder's choice and an error on the shortstop. Staten Island got their only hit two innings later, so it didn't matter.

Yankee starter Luis Cedeno was almost as brilliant. He got through five innings, but ended up the loser, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) while striking out 7. Major League Baseball's pace-of-play initiatives apparently haven't reached the short-season NY-Penn League yet, as this game clocked in at just under 3 hours. Having seen my share of major league games over the first half of the season, I'd gotten accustomed to the quicker pace, and I'd wondered why the message hadn't gotten down to what amounts to a beginner league, coming out of the entry draft 2 weeks ago.

Part of it might be because pace-of-play isn't an issue in the college game yet, either. In the just concluded College World Series, Monday's opener clocked in at close to 3 1/2 hours to play 9 innings. If you think that's bad, consider that a lot of college football games swell close to 4 hours per game now, and it's not just for strategic timeouts or high scoring offenses. I digress.

The Valleycats' promotions have changed somewhat. The "mayor's race" is queued to the theme from Wacky Races, of all things. A promotion tied to the NY State Lottery version of Wheel of Fortune uses the theme music to a rival game show, Family Feud. Now, that's wack. Wacky Races, to tell you the truth, should actually apply to the 8th inning Hot Dog race, in which a trio of volunteers dressed in hot dog costumes race in various vehicles, including bicycles. In wrestling parlance, it's a worked contest, meaning that "Relish" never wins, and that ream's been going on for years.

If tonight was any indication, Tri-City is looking at another dominating season at home. They just have to get the kinks out on the road.

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