A couple of weeks ago my friend Scott and I decided to take in the Syracuse Chiefs baseball game. His daughter is doing some promotional activities as part of an internship there so we got a couple of free tickets. It was a beautiful day for a baseball game, and at the time a rare warm and sunny day, and we were ready to see some professional baseball.

Because the Chiefs, affiliated with the Washington Nationals, don’t win a lot of championships, locally it seems a lot of people don’t see them as a professional team. I say that because I’ve been to a lot of games in this town where the attendance is noticeably lacking. The exceptions over the past 30+ years was back in 1978 when the San Diego Chicken made an appearance, a game where Syracuse was actually ahead by five runs and ended up losing by four, and last year when the young phenom Stephen Strasburg was in town; that game they won.

The Alliance Bank Stadium is actually pretty impressive. It hasn’t been there all that many years, undergoing a total renovation from when it was P&C Stadium. The skyboxes are nice and clean, the seats are nice and actually have cup holders, and there are other places where, if you want to have a group event or something for the kids to do if they get bored during the game, they have those things as well. As you can see from the picture the grass is beautifully green and real, and the infield is immaculate; this is the type of baseball field I would’ve loved having an opportunity to play on.

Of course not everything is perfect. The team has two mascots, one of which kind of has that hayseed grandfather look that they call Pops, and the other thing is undefinable by me and I have actually no idea what they call it. Also, since you’re not allowed to bring in any food or drink, if you decide you want anything it’s going to cost you. The two hot dogs, a medium drink and a large drink cost me $17.75. Luckily, with a large drink you get free refills, and I went back three times to get my money’s worth. And the program… well, it’s only 2 bucks, but a far cry from being as informational as it used to be in the past as it didn’t even mention the affiliations with the major league clubs.

The team also has new hats, one of which I purchased. I wish they had a hat that only had Chiefs on it, but instead they only had hats with SC on them. I bought one because it was red, but truthfully my mind keeps thinking “South Carolina” instead of Syracuse Chiefs. One of the members of the team was sitting on a stool signing autographs, and I went ahead and got my hat signed. One of the things I learned is that there are some true fans of the team that know every single stat for every single player going back years, as we were treated to a dissertation by one of those fans comparing this year’s team to previous teams.

Being a military kid, one of the things I actually enjoy is hearing the performance of the Star-Spangled Banner and hoping that whoever is performing it does a good job. In this case a small choir took on the task, and I’d have to say they did a credible job. At that point the team runs out to the field, goes to its preparations, the umpire yells “play ball” and were off and running.

As I said earlier it was a very small crowd, which pretty much meant that anybody saying anything in the stands became an instant star. Scott and I seemed to have control of our little area, which was fine with us. There were no outstanding players on the team, with only one guy averaging over .300, and our starting pitcher having an ERA over 7.0, but on this day he only gave up one run in seven innings and the relief pitchers held Rochester, who’s supposed to be our mortal enemy, to only that one run. Syracuse ended up scoring four runs, mainly due to the errors of the other team that the official scorer didn’t count, but a win is a win.

In my mind, unfortunately we only had one foul ball that came our way, hitting this one guy in the chest but he brushed it off. Scott got lucky in being picked for one of the promotional games that took place on the field, and he ended up winning although from what he said later both he and the guy he competed against ended up with the same reward.

I hope to get out to a couple more games this year, and I hope as the season goes on that Syracuse starts playing better and that the games are better attended. Probably the next time a big leaguer has to come down for rehab a lot of fans will come out to the park. Maybe even Strasburg by year-end; wouldn’t that be fun?

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