Futures Game, New York style
It’s taken me a little longer than I anticipated, but I wanted to share some thoughts about my time in New York covering the 10th Futures Game. Joe Cronin’s already written about it on his blog and I’m sure Lisa Winston will describe here experience in detail over on got milb.
It all started on Friday for us. For the past couple of years, we’ve brought in a prospect — usually one from the area — for a whirlwind tour of the city. In 2006, Neil Walker was the perfect subject, a Pittsburgh kid coming home for the Futures Game at PNC Park while a member of the Pirates organization. Last year, Indians prospect Chuck Lofgren came home to the Bay Area for the game. But this year, there was no New Yorker on the roster, so we had to think a little outside the box. Scott Campbell and Luke Hughes, hailing from New Zealand and Australia, made for the perfect candidates, and not just because they’re 1-2 in the Eastern League in hitting.
Having never been to New York before, we decided to take them on a tour of the city via double-decker bus. I grew up in Northern New Jersey and then lived in New York for eight years and had never done this — I think it’s the kind of thing that residents of a city rarely do, but it was a perfect day and we had a great time seeing the sights. It’s basically a quick sweep of stuff, but the Empire State Building, Macy’s, Ground Zero, plus driving through many of the city’s neighborhoods was all interesting and Hughes and Campbell had a great time doing it.
See, that’s them having a great time…a picture is really worth 1,000 words. At any rate, we got off the bus in Battery Park and decided, why not, let’s hop on the Staten Island Ferry in a Futures Game version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
The big highlight of that, of course, was floating by the Statue of Liberty, but we also got to see the Staten Island Yankees’ ballpark, which I’ve never been to. Campbell played in the New York-Penn League, but never got the chance to play there, or in Brooklyn, for that matter. We also saw some of the Eliasson New York City Waterfalls. Got to be honest there, I didn’t really appreciate them. Maybe going to see all of them, and getting a closer look, would make me enjoy them more, but they didn’t do it for me from our vantage point. Here’s hoping, though, that it brings people to NY to see ‘em.
Just so you don’t think it was all fun and games, we had plenty of work to do. Lisa and I did a pair of shows from FanFest. Futures Gamer Kevin Pucetas joined us on Saturday and I’m pretty sure he’d make my MiLB All-Interview team (look for a something on that at the end of the year). And there were some injuries along the way. Lisa battled through some blisters the entire weekend without complaining (well, not complaining much). I think Kerry Wood could learn something from her example. As for me, any time I try to keep the ol’ noggin clean-shaven every day, there’s a risk. And wouldn’t you just know…
Anyway, then came the game on Sunday. The live pre-game show went off without a hitch, I thought, and much kudos needs to be given to our incredibly hard-working multimedia staff. In my mind, it was the best live broadcast, in terms of how smoothly it went, that I’ve been involved with. During the game, Vinny Micucci and I did analysis in the booth between some innings, while Lisa did a terrific job with interviews from the U.S. and World dugouts.
The game itself was a little, well, less than thrilling, though it was still fun to see some of these players in person for the first time, especially on a stage like that. And Che Hsuan Lin put himself on the map with that tater, while Henry Rodriguez created quite a buzz by hitting triple-digits on the radar gun. Hard to believe it was my ninth Futures Game (I missed the game in Houston in 2004 because of the birth of my daughter), but I’m already looking forward to St. Louis in 2009.
From there it was on to Louisville (where I am right now) for the Triple-A All-Star Game. I’ll have more from here in the next day or so, but be sure to tune into the game on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET. Yours truly will be handling the sideline reporting duties…