Sunday, September 02, 2007


It was hard to feel too upset at seeing the Lynx blow a four-run ninth-inning lead in losing 8-6 in 12 innings (boxscore, play-by-play) to the Syracuse Chiefs in my final visit to the Stadium as a home for Triple-A baseball.

Deep down, there was hope for extra innings when the Chiefs' bats started to stir vs. Anderson Garcia in the ninth inning since it meant seeing quote, unquote "free baseball" alongside baseball-blogging friends Carl Kiiffner of Ottawa Lynx Blog and Pete Toms of A Baseball Geek before the Lynx become the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs next season. It was a game full of bits of baseball arcania that would sail over the head of the holders of the public pursestrings like the ball Joe Thurston lined off the first-base bag in the ninth inning, which shot 20 feet into the air for a freak double, enabling him to get his batting average up to .300 with one day left in the season.

Hopefully City Hall types took notice of the turnout of 4,425 and realized (see yesterday's Lynx post) there's a constituency that needs baseball in Bytown. Sorry, but I'm not rooting for another big-box store, condominiums, or weekend tennis hackers.

Minor-league ball, as argued previously, is needed here as a sobering yin to the raging yang of the Ottawa region's obsessiveness with all things Senators. That's one of the best reasons it should stay around, plus real, living, breathing families can actually attend a game together. It's a chance to see semi-skilled pros do something relatively well for a mere $9 ticket and $2 scorecard. There's no elitism at those prices and no one has to be talked off a ledge by the local radio station hosts if the team drops two in a row. (Thank god for that, considering the Lynx are 55-87.)

The game is a reminder not too get too high, not to get too low. It's like life. It's real. The Ottawa Lynx embody What Is. Not to knock the Senators as individuals... but between the unspoken mindset that they have to win to validate the city's worth and being part of the NHL's money-grubbing culture are What Should Be.

Well, there is no such thing as What Should Be no matter how many people try to live up to that unreality (hat tip to Lenny Bruce) by sheepesquely showing up in the middle of the summer to pay 300 bucks for a hockey jersey (remember when they were called sweaters?) that's pretty much the same as the old one. That's lost on too many decision-makers and opinion-moulders in this city and in Canada with respect to baseball, the game that (aside from the CFL) is always first to be called an athletic atavism, a relic of the past.

They overlook that the grand old game survives since it jibes with a certain kind of person. You know who: The man or woman who doesn't follow the trends, goes off on an individual path, might live in the past, maybe is quiet in a room of 15 people but will blow your mind chatting one-on-one. He or she knows sports are experienced best when it comes in a package that's scuffed and nicked-up worse than the balls Mike Scott threw past New York Mets hitters in the 1986 National League playoffs. It's a chance to feel a connection to something that doesn't come through a digital cable box.

It's never come more scuffed or nicked-up than in the Lynx's final seasons. Please try to remember that 90 per cent of that is on the heads of people other than the players and owners. The culprits, among others, are major-league baseball for killing off the Montreal Expos and the city bureaucracy for, as Lynx owner Ray Pecor hopes to prove in civil court, hurting the team's chance to survive by reducing parking around the ballpark.

To the end, some kept showing up for however long Triple-A ball would last. They knew it was a can't-win, but can't-win is part of What Is. Those who live with that come closest to being a true sports fan. There's a sad, sad irony that those who on a per-capita basis have shown the most devotion could end up getting the back of the hand if the stadium site is re-purposed and baseball, the Can-Am League, whatever, does not get a chance.


Carl said...


Thanks for summing up in one post what I never accomplished in the last twelve months.

Pete Toms said...

FYI there is an editorial in the Citizen's City section today critical of Councillor Legendre's idea to turn the stadium into a domed soccer / tennis facility. I don't think this idea has any potential and I think most people in the region will agree.

Contact your Councillor and the Mayor's office, preserve the stadium as a baseball only facility!

sager said...


You're welcome, but the gratitude is all on this end... not to be all cornball, but hopefully that was you, Pete, Carl, anyone who likes going to a game speaking through those fingertips.