Why the Rochester Red Wings Should Stay a Twins Affiliate

The Rochester Red Wings’ affiliation agreement with the Minnesota Twins ends this year. And while it’s entirely possible that it will be renewed, it’s also entirely possible it will not, as there is some discussion that, with the future of the Twins’ front office uncertain after the firing of Terry Ryan, now may be the time to again switch. This speculation is especially occurring because the New York Mets, one of the most popular MLB teams in the area, will also likely be available in the affiliation shuffle after this year, and the Mets are desperate to get a new affiliate closer to home, as opposed to distant Vegas.

However, I’m here to argue that the Red Wings should stick with the Twins, at least for another two years. Here’s why:

1. Don’t mess with success.

While it is true that the Red Wings have not had much postseason success during the Twins’ years, with only two appearances and no titles. However, this forgets that the Wings have been competitive for most of the Twins era and probably would have reached more postseasons if not for the tough IL North division and some bad luck. In 2014, for example, they were not eliminated until the final weekend of the year. 2015 saw something similar, and had the Red Wings finish with the same record as the previous two seasons, including the 2013 year where they made the playoffs. This season may see the Red Wings miss the playoffs despite currently having the third best record in the league.

It’s not the Twins fault that Rochester geographically lies in the International League’s toughest division, nor is it their fault that the IL doesn’t have a rule that kicks any team under .500 out of the playoffs, to be replaced by the Wild Card runner-up:

#ContractTheILSouth

#ContractTheILSouth

2. The Twins are a Better Farm System, from a winning perspective.

Here’s a look at the winning percentages of farm systems, as of August 3:

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.12.40 PMAs you can see, the Twins are a respectable 10th place. This is the entire organization, from AAA all the way down to the lowest of Rookie leagues. The Mets, meanwhile, are sub-.500 and are at 19th. And if you go level by level, the Twins have a better team in most of them: The AAA Twins (the Red Wings) have a better record than the AAA Mets (Las Vegas). The AA Twins (Chattanooga) have a better record than the AA Mets (Binghamton). The low-A Twins (Cedar Rapids) have a better record than the low-A Mets (Columbia). The rookie-ball Twins (Elizabethton) have a better record than the rookie-ball Mets (Kingsport). The Twins even have a better record in the Gulf Coast League! The only minor-league level where both organizations have teams and the Mets have a better record than the Twins affiliate is the High-A Florida league.

It’s been said that the two biggest determinants of minor league team attendance are also the two things the local GM (in the minors, the GM is more of a business position, not like the position in MLB) has the least control over: how the team is doing, and how the weather is. Except that isn’t really true, as the Minor League team CAN decide who it affiliates with. And when you look at the success on the field up and down the minors, the Twins clearly are the better choice when it comes to wins than the the Mets.

3. The Twins have better prospects overall than the Mets.

One of the neatest things about Minor League Baseball is that you can see the stars of tomorrow. And in this case, the Twins have a better case than the Mets. At the beginning of the year, MLB.com listed the Twins as the fifth best farm system in baseball. While obviously this has likely changed as players like Max Kepler and Byron Buxton have headed to the big leagues, it should be noted that the Mets were nowhere to be found in the top ten this year, and another site (which ranked the Twins 8th) put the Mets all the way down at number 20.

4. The Mets probably wouldn’t cause the big attendance boost some people think.

My fellow Rochester seamheads will remember the Empire State Yankees. In 2012, as their stadium was being renovated, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (now the Scranton RailRiders) played their home games on the road, mostly in Rochester. Before the season, some Yankee fans were declaring that the people of Rochester would love them and support them even more than they did the Wings, that it was a dream come true, etc. etc.

Well, here’s the secret: The Empire State Yankees were a bust. Look at this news report from back then:

Yes, the Baby Bronx Bombers were in town and, with the exception of a Andy Pettitte rehab assignment, they drew flies, despite the fact they had a very good team. And the Yankees are definitely far more popular in Rochester than the Mets.

Now, admittedly, the fact that they were the “Empire State Yankees” and not the “Rochester Red Wings, AAA Affiliate of the New York Yankees” probably had a lot to do with it. But when you consider that attendance wasn’t particularly skyrockety for the Buffalo Bisons when they had the Mets affiliation (although to be fair, the Mets system was even worse back then), I think it’s safe to say that in general the affiliation doesn’t drive attendance all that much- winning and weather does. And as I showed with number two and number three, the Twins are a better choice for that.

5. The Mets have horrible owners.

Red Wings fans still speak in hushed tones about Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Why, the only people who hate Peter Angelos more than Red Wings fans are Orioles’ fans! GET IN LINE, NATS FANS, THIS SPOT IS TAKEN! Peter Angelos’ interference with minor league operations, general incompetence, breaking of traditions, and favoritism (intentional or not) to other teams in the Orioles’ system (especially the AA Bowie Baysox) led to the end of one of the longest affiliations in baseball. Well, say what you will about Angelos, but to the best of my knowledge he never ended up drowning in debt after being caught up in a massive Ponzi scheme and as a result been unspeakably cheap for his team that was in the World Series last season and plays in New York City. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has Peter Angelos been sued for firing somebody because she had a baby out of wedlock and then resolved it before it reached trial. And while I’m sure he (like, sadly, seemingly every single MLB owner) would sign somebody who was suspended for domestic abuse, he hasn’t as far as I know. Yet.

But you know who has done all of this? The owners of the New York Mets! Now, full disclosure, I own a very small (essentially symbolic) portion of the Rochester Red Wings (I covered this before). Not enough to make a difference, but I do own some. But let’s say I did own enough. Would I want to do business with the Wilpons?

No. No I would not.

6. The Red Wings shouldn’t be like other Minor League teams

Many minor league teams change affiliation with relative regularity. The Red Wings don’t- they were Cardinals affiliates from the late 20s to 1960, and then spent the rest of the 20th century and the first two years of the 21st with the Orioles. That means that it should still be another decade or two left with the Twins. Perhaps I’m just being a romantic, ignoring the business nature of modern baseball. And, to be sure, if everything was bad and the Red Wings were doing horrible with no good hope in the lower minors, I’d agree that perhaps it’s time to move on. But the Wings have been one of the most successful minor league franchises in history by not changing course at the first sign of trouble, and I see no reason to start swapping every decade or so now.

So… I say: stick with the Twins and nix the Mets. The reasons to stay with Minnesota lay in the evidence, and the reasons to go to the Mets are nowhere near as high as they seem.

And, besides, if the Mets want to be in Rochester so damn bad, maybe they can call back in two-to-four years. By that point, maybe whoever has replaced Terry Ryan will have shown how he will treat the minor leagues. And maybe they won’t be owned by the Wilpons either.

 

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(Blogathon ’16) CONTINUUM CLASSIC: 2007 AAA BASEBALL HEROES

This piece from the blog’s archives is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Originally published June 19, 2013.

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

I warned you. I told you it was coming. You could have gone away, but, no, you had to go and actually come here and read this installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture. This is a very special Bizarre Baseball Culture, as, for the first time, it’s something that I actually have in my very small personal collection of comic books. You see, in 2007, each Triple-A baseball team had a day celebrating superheroes, and as a giveaway, there was this comic:

2007GiveawayComic copyAnd, as you can probably guess, I was at that game and got the giveaway. And so, it sat in a drawer for almost seven years, ignored. Until today. Yes, true believers, tremble and prepare yourself for the 2007 edition of Triple-A Baseball Heroes, featuring the superheroes of Marvel Comics.

Now, a few notes before we get going here:

  • All of the images in this post were scanned by yours truly, and any problems with the quality of the images are my fault.
  • All characters and logos in the comic are property of their respective owners (such as Marvel Comics or Minor League Baseball). The excerpts from this comic used in this post are being used under fair use doctrine and are meant merely to support and enhance the opinions and facts stated in said post.
  • Click on any of the images to make them bigger.
  • To the best of my knowledge, the only way to get this comic nowadays is to find it on eBay or have gone to the games that had them released.

Now, go below the jump for the rest of the post:

Continue reading

(Blogathon ’16) Musings on AAA Baseball

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

And now, random musings about AAA Baseball:

AAA baseball is the best baseball in North America outside of the Major Leagues and perhaps certain fall/winter leagues (it varies). This is not in doubt. The athletes who play in cities like Sacramento, Buffalo, Charlotte, New Orleans, and Rochester are some of the best ballplayers on the planet.

However, they are not necessarily the best prospects. This is something often forgotten. Oh, to be sure, many of the best players in the majors have stopped in AAA for at least some time, but the idea that the minors is a ladder where players go up rung by rung is for the most part out of date. The truth is that, with certain exceptions, the vast majority of players in AAA are not prospects anymore, but rather players who have reached or are close to reaching their ceiling, but aren’t good enough to play for their MLB club. AAA has the most accumulated talent outside of MLB, but it doesn’t have the players with potential talent. No, it’s increasingly common that those players with the potential talent skip over AAA, only going back if they get injured or are clearly out of their league in the Majors.

Most people, however, don’t realize that. They still expect that every major prospect will come through, regardless. When Miguel Sano and (for a time) Byron Buxton skipped over Rochester last season, some fans took it as a betrayal. Never mind that, at the time, the Red Wings were pretty set in outfield and third base, or that the two of them were so clearly better than AA that only a fool wouldn’t call them up to the big leagues to help in an unexpected playoff hunt, as the Twins were in.

The solution to this, if there even needs to be a solution (aside from the fact that it might be in baseball’s best interest to have the more-populated cities of AAA see more future stars than the less-populated AA cities, there really isn’t a true problem to be solved), is unknown. Perhaps eliminating the very lowest of the minor leagues- the Arizona and Gulf Coast Leagues, could recombobulate the systems a bit and lead to it becoming more of a rung-by-rung set-up again. Who knows?

Perhaps because of the fact that you are watching the-best-who-aren’t-the-best in front of crowds filled with people just there for beer and/or fireworks, AAA can be a surreal place, especially if you sit behind the visitor’s dugout.

I have heard the late Jose Lima tell a group of half-drunken bros to be polite to the ladies and to remember that kids are around. I have seen Dmitri Young talk down a heckler and then proceed to hit for the cycle on a rehab assignment. I once spent something like 18 innings watching a game with the immortal Corky Miller standing in front of me, his mullet protecting him from a chilly Rochester night.

All of this for the price of a ticket that probably wouldn’t even get you in the door at many MLB stadiums, much less close enough to hear a reliever swear and throw his glove after a bad performance, inevitably leading to Mary, the first lady of the third-base side, telling him that it wasn’t the glove’s fault.

That there is not a Mike Trout Zooperstar is obscene. I mean, c’mon, it’s so obvious.

At one point, Jenny Finch’s husband, Casey Daigle, was a member of the Red Wings. Hopefully their kids get their mother’s arm, because it felt like every time he came on the mound, something bad happened. I don’t know if this is statistically true, but it sure felt like it.

Finally, a story. The Rochester Red Wings are owned by shareholders in the community, the result of lawyer Morrie Silver’s stock drive to buy the team from the Cardinals, who wanted to move the team.

However, I never had been able to get stock. While in practice the shares have no true value, in reality they can be really expensive and it’s really hard to get active shares. This is mainly because many of them have lapsed in the half-century-plus since the stock drive and many that do go up are reportedly bought by the Silver family. In addition, there is the fact that, unlike other community-owned teams like the Packers, there have never been additional sales of stock, which is kind of ridiculous from both a PR standpoint as well as the fact you’d have to imagine that the sales of shares could help fund stadium improvements (this, by the way, is why the Packers did their most recent shares-drive).

At one point, I thought I’d gotten one, but it turned out that it had expired and been given to the state (in theory I could have gone through New York State to get it back, but that would have required me finding the heir of the guy who had bought it originally and a bunch of other complicated things). But, this past year, I finally got one. I became a owner of Rochester Community Baseball:

RCBstockWhat does it mean? Officially, nothing. One share isn’t enough to get me a personal luxury box, or give me the power to demand that they bring back those Abbott’s Milk Shakes, or even get me a ring if they were to win a Governor’s Cup next season. But it does provide something that is unique about small-city baseball in America: a sense of ownership.

You see, when I go to the ballpark this summer, I’ll be going knowing that, in a very small way, this is my team, my field, and my souvenir cup with Kyle Gibson and Logan Darnell on it (well, that’s what it was last year, probably will be different this year). Fans in St. Louis or Boston can claim they own their favorite team, but they are only speaking in metaphor. For me, it’ll be reality, no matter how small or insignificant that reality is.

And that’s something that AAA will hopefully always have over the majors, no matter how many uber-Prospects jump directly from AA.

(Seriously though, if any Twins front office members are reading this, can we at least have Max Kepler for a month before he gets called up? Please?)

At 5 PM: The Sliding Scale of Fictional Baseball Realism

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Mark Hamburger and Spikes: America’s Newest Comedy Duo

The setting, Frontier Field in Rochester, NY. July 4th. For some reason, the fireworks aren’t working yet. Desperate to keep the fans from getting annoyed, two heroes emerge: reliever Mark Hamburger and team mascot Spikes.

They do Yoga. Hilarity ensues.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

DOWNWARD DOG

 

Semi-Handstand.... Spikes was having trouble...

Semi-Handstand…. Spikes was having trouble…

Deeeeepppp breathing....

Deeeeepppp breathing….

Leg Lift.....

Leg Lift…..

Oh... oh dear, Spikes...

Oh… oh dear, Spikes…

This is called the Warrior pose, right? I can't remember much from the Wii Fit Trainer...

This is called the Warrior pose, right? I can’t remember much from the Wii Fit Trainer…

Up....

Up….

Down....

Down….

Okay, I'd fall over on my face....

Okay, I’d fall over on my face….

 

Holy cow.

Holy cow.

Okay, that's really impressive, he held himself up there for several seconds, long enough for me to take two pictures.

Okay, that’s really impressive, he held himself up there for several seconds, long enough for me to take two pictures.

And then, after I had finished taking pictures… HE STRAIGHT UP BREAK-DANCED.

Seriously, here’s the aftermath:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo… yeah… that’s something you don’t see every game.

2014 Rochester Red Wings in Review, Part 2: Five Things We Learned

Apologies for being late, but here are five things we learned from the 2014 Rochester Red Wings season:

1. It is possible to throw a No-Hitter in two different states and two different months

2. Geography is Destiny

3. As always, the fate of a Minor League Team is in large part outside of it’s control

Make no mistake, the purpose of AAA baseball teams is, and always will be, to provide a place for future MLB players to get ready for The Show. Winning is of only secondary importance, and, with rare exception, no AAA team will go the season with all of their key pieces untouched. What’s more, there are still the other hazards that haunt every baseball club: injuries, slumps, players that just don’t work out or underperform.

This year’s Red Wings were a perfect example of that. The Red Wings played 144 games this season. Only six position players were in at least 100 of them, only four were in at least 120 of them, and only two (Eric Farris, who’s “get to know your Wings” scoreboard segment was by far the best, and Aussie infielder James Beresford) were in at least 130 of them. Danny Santana, who many thought would be in Rochester for a good chunk of the season, ended up only playing 24 games, while Darin Mastroianni was lost to first the Majors and then to the Blue Jays through waivers after just four games. Chris Parmelee, the leading power threat through the first month of the season, was also gone early. The vaunted opening-day rotation of Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Yohan Pino, Logan Darnell and Kris Johnson saw all but Meyer spend at least some time in Minnesota, and the loss of May and Pino down the stretch especially hurt. If Rochester had all five of them all season, I see almost no way that they miss the playoffs, but, again, those are the breaks that come with being a AAA franchise.

And, of course, there were injuries, both in the majors (which led to certain players getting called up to replace the injured Twins) and down in the minors. The loss of Meyer to injury early in the third-to-last game of the season may well have doomed the Red Wings, as it forced them to burn Mark Hamburger, who was expected to pitch a must-win game against Pawtuckett the next day. Instead, the Red Wings had to have Jose Berrios, a 20-year-old (albeit one of the top prospects in the system) pitch that game, where he was beaten up on in a loss that ended the Wings’ playoff chances.

Health problems below AAA also put a wrench in the Wings’ season. At the start of the year, it was considered possible that top prospects Miguel Sano and (although more of a longshot) Byron Buxton could join by the end of the year. Sano got hurt and missed the whole season, and Buxton got a concussion in his first game in AA (although by that point it was clear he was probably not going to end up in Rochester by the end of the year).

Speaking of prospects, I think it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that Rochester will ever see Kennys Vargas, who has gone .314 in 140 AB for the Twins since getting the call-up from AA. Prospects jumping from AA to MLB is less frequent in Minnesota’s system than it is in some others, but it does happen: Joe Mauer would never have played in Rochester if not for a injury so early in his rookie season in MLB, for example.

4. Of course, the above thing also can go the other way.

After the first month of the season, I don’t think anybody expected that Chris Colabello would be back in Rochester. He’d done great early in the year, after all, even winning AL Player of the Week at one point. Then he crashed back to earth and ended up spending more games in Rochester this season (61) than he would in Minneapolis (59). He did not receive a call-up at the end of the year and it’s almost certain that his time with Minnesota- and maybe even affiliated baseball in general- is at an end. But what must have been a horrible disappointment for Colabello was good news for the Red Wings, as he ended up leading the team in HRs. In his two seasons with the Red Wings, Colabello ended up batting .319 in 551 ABs, with 34 HRs and 114 RBIs. His OPS of .966 was spectacular. He will be missed, but hopefully he gets another shot at a permanent place in the Majors.

Similarly, Chris Herrmann was originally with the Twins to start the year, but ended up playing sizable time in Rochester, where he became one of the Wings’ best hitters. He’s now in Minnesota again as a September call-up.

The same sort of thing will no doubt happen next year, just as it happens every year.

5. The Mario-Coin Sound Is An Excellent Sound Effect For Scoring A Run

This season, when the Red Wings scored a run, the sound from Super Mario Brothers when you got a coin would play. They aren’t the only team that does it- I believe the Cleveland Indians do the same, and the Twins use the 1-Up Sound from SMB. It’s great, funny, and is also a good reminder that ultimately baseball is a game.

In fact, it even inspired me to try my hand at some artwork:

marioredwingsThat’s Mario in a Rochester Red Wings jersey. I’m not entirely sure why I made it, but I find it funny and I’m glad I made it. Let’s just hope they don’t change the sound effect next year, otherwise this will just be ridiculous.

 

So, the 2014 season is over in Rochester. It’s far too early to guess what the 2015 season may bring: Will Gene Glynn return as manager? Will some players be lost to free agency or by making the jump to the big leagues? Will next year by the year that Sano and/or Buxton make the jump to AAA?

Only time will tell.

 

The Red Wings had one of the weirdest no-hitters ever

It’s late so I can’t write too much, but, anyway, I was at the ballpark tonight. However, this story starts on July 24, when I was sitting on my couch watching the Rochester Red Wings play in Durham. Trevor May, who I discussed a few days ago, was pitching, and he was on that day, having given up no hits in the first three frames…. until the skies opened up and washed it away after three innings.

Cut to today (August 11), because Rochester wouldn’t be back to Durham, they were playing it here. Durham would still technically be the home team, and it would still be a nine-inning game, but it would be played in Rochester. Of course, Trevor May is now with Minnesota, so taking the mound instead was Logan Darnell…

It was still early, but here's how the scoreboard looked, complete with makeshift "Bulls" sign.

It was still early, but here’s how the scoreboard looked, complete with makeshift “Bulls” sign.

And a funny thing happened: Darnell was unhittable. Literally. He struck out five and got the final hitter, Justin Christian, to ground into a double play to seal the 3-0 no-hitter.

And then, of course, everybody went crazy:

Group hug!This was the third no-hitter I’ve ever seen in person (or, as somebody else pointed out to me, the second and two-thirds no-hitter, since I technically only saw just six of the nine innings). It also, however, is the weirdest. Consider how this technically was a road win for Rochester, despite being at home, where they have excelled all year. Consider how the person who started the no-hitter (May) is now in Minnesota, and the person who threw the final six innings (Darnell) had been called up AND sent down by Minnesota since the game began. Chris Colabello, who had an RBI single during the game, was also in Minnesota. The losing pitcher for Durham, Alex Colome, had been the winning pitcher in Durham’s win yesterday against Buffalo. Jayson Nix, who was the starting 2B for Durham when the game started, isn’t even in the Tampa Bay organization anymore.

(They'd removed the "Bulls" from the bottom, but hadn't wiped the board yet.)

(They’d removed the “Bulls” from the bottom, but hadn’t wiped the board yet.)

And, then, of course, there is the final strangeness that there was a whole other game to play. That was a interesting game, too, with the Wings squeaking out a 5-4 victory despite the rehabbing Wil Myers hitting a Grand Slam for Durham (leading to a hilarious Twitter exchange between Durham and their parent club), but… well… it was coming after a no-hitter that spanned weeks and states… so… well… better luck next time, game two of a double-header.

GREAT MOMENTS OF 2013: AAA Baseball and a Miracle Comeback

From August 4 of this year:
After Bobby Thomson‘s famous “Shot Heard Round the World”, Red Smith perhaps wrote the greatest lede (or lead, for those of you who didn’t major in journalism) in history:

Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.

A game in the International League in early August is a long way from the events that surrounded Thomson’s shot, of course, but last night there was another example of the can-you-believe-this nature of baseball that Smith paid tribute to in that lede, and another reminder that, as the great Yogi Berra once said, it ain’t over until it’s over.

For most of the game between the Rochester Red Wings (AAA Twins) and Syracuse Chiefs (AAA Nationals), it was a pitcher’s duel, as P.J. Walters of the Wings went 5.2 giving up only one earned run and Syracuse’s Caleb Clay doing the same for seven innings. The bullpens then brought it to extra innings. And it is there that the story truly begins. Although at the time, the crowd at Rochester’s Frontier Field must have thought it was an ending, as Luis Perdomo took the mound and then, after a quick first out, allowed Eury Perez to double, walked Jeff Kobernus and then hit Danny Espinosa with a pitch. Cody Eppley came in to replace him, but with runners already on base and no room for error, the Chiefs knocked in five runs off of him, although only two of them were earned.

And so, it headed to the bottom of the tenth, with the Wings down by five. Many of the 9,000+ in attendance were likely only still there due to the fireworks scheduled for post-game, but the fireworks would come early. The Chiefs brought in Cole Kimball, a high-ERA’d mop-up guy who they probably figured they could give some work to as they recorded the final outs of the game. Early on, it looked like maybe he’d do just that, getting two outs while allowing only two small hits, hits that everyone knew were meaningless unless something big happened.

And then, the wheels came off for Cole Kimball. A wild pitch got Eric Farris and James Beresford into scoring position, and then a single from Chris Parmelee got Farris home and left runners at the corners. However, again, that run was meaningless unless something else was going to happen.

Meanwhile, in the outfield, a group of Chinese fire-balloons from a local festival appeared on the horizon:

100_6012 copyAnd then, Kimball walked Deibinson Romero. Up to bat came Jeff Clement, a low-average but high-power hitter who has had stints with the Mariners and Pirates in the past, but who hadn’t been doing well lately, being without a homer since June. Now, though, the bases were loaded, but the tying run stood at the plate.

He worked a 3-1 count, and then, on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, he sent it deep into the night, a no-doubter. As soon as it was clear that it would be fair, the stadium erupted into a bonanza of high-fives, hugs and joyous screaming. Five runs down with one out left to survive, and the home team had still found a way to tie it up. Meanwhile, the Chinese Fire-Balloons faded over the Rochester Skyline.

But the inning was not over, although Kimball’s night was. Michael Crotta came in, only to walk Aaron Hicks and then give up a single to Josmil Pinto (Hicks wasn’t sent for home on the single, as he probably would have been dead meat at the plate). Crotta then was able to get Eric Farris- in his second AB of the inning- to ground out, ending the inning and sending it to 11.

The Chiefs threatened in the top of the 11th, only to have their would-be rally shushed by Shairon Martis, who came in to get the final out of the inning after the Chiefs got two men on. The Wings went down one-two-three in the bottom half. The Chiefs did the same in the top of the 12th.

And then, in the bottom of the 12th, after Chris Parmelee struck out against the Chiefs’ Jeff Mandel, Deibinson Romero walked. The speedy Eduardo Escobar was sent in as a pinch-runner. And to the plate came the hero of earlier in the night: Jeff Clement.

And again, he worked a 3-1 count.

And then, again, he sent a ball into right. It wasn’t a home run, it was just a good shot into the corner. It was close at the plate, but the throw was off, and Escobar came in to score the walk-off run of the miracle victory.

Down by five with one out left in the tenth to a walk-off in the 12th. Only in baseball do you see things like this. And when you see such a magical game, you think that Red Smith was right: only the utterly impossible can ever be plausible again.

100_6014 copy