Let's start out with a three cool things I saw around the stadium......
Around The Stadium
1. Craft Beer- There is a double staircase that leads from the front gate of the stadium up to the seating areas of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. For years the space in between the two staircases was a club area for season ticket holders. It was also briefly a second team store. This year the space is home to the Bull Durham Beer Company which is the Durham Bulls entry into the craft beer world. You can walk through the space and check out the different beers that they are brewing. When it gets a little bit warmer outside I will have a glass and let you know how it tastes. North Carolina has a great craft beer scene, so I am guessing that this is going to be something good. I know a few people that are really excited about this addition to the park.
2. New Food- The Bulls are doing their own catering this year and also have a few new food vendors in the stadium. It was a cold rainy night so I tried a bratwurst which was different from the normal ballpark brat. It had some southwest flavoring and a little bit of kick. Nothing obnoxious, but again not the norm. I am also excited about the addition of Rise Donuts in the ballpark. Rise is a local restaurant in Durham that makes a good donut, great biscuit, and loads of other good food. If you are a local and are ever near Southpoint Mall in Durham it's worth your time.
3. Baseball cards. The older team sets are only $4.50 in the team store. I bought a set of the International League Prospects from last year. That's another post, but if you are missing any of the old sets now would be a good time to fill in some of the holes.
We are two weeks into the baseball season and the Bulls have had several different players called up to the Rays already. Allan Dykstra, Mikie Mahtook, C.J. Riefenhauser among others have already made a trip or two in between Tampa and Durham. I still like the players that are on the team and think things will settle down as players like James Loney, Alex Colome, and Alex Cobb return from injury. I think my favorite player at the moment might be Joey Butler......
The right handed hitting veteran has spent time with the Rangers and Cardinals and I had heard good things about his bat before the season. He seems to have some pop and I think he is going to be fun to watch this summer. Although Mahtook got sent back down yesterday, but he did manage to hit his first Major League home run Thursday night while I was at the game.....
If you are planning on attending a Bulls game I would also recommend checking out Hak Ju Lee on defense and also Taylor Motter. I am not sure what kind of player Motter is going to be quite yet, but he showed some good pop last year in Double A Montgomery and definitely has that grit factor.
Like I mentioned earlier it was a rainy night in Durham. When I arrived at the Durham Athletic Park the field was covered and it was pretty clear that the game was not going to start at the announced start time of 6:10. The delay gave me two hours to check out the new additions to the stadium, the food, and also gave me a chance to catch up with a couple of friends who were also at the game.
The grounds crew did a great job with the field, and after some consulting with new manager Jared Sandberg, the tarp was pulled and the preparation for the game got started......
The game ended up not being too close as Everett Teaford was not really fooling many of the batters on Norfolk who made solid contact against the left handed pitcher with some frequency at the beginning of the game. The big hit in the first frame was a Chris Parmelee home run to right field that was just crushed.
Teaford ended up giving up 6 earned runs in his 4 innings of work, but the Bulls difficulties were compounded by the fact that their bats were silent against Norfolk hurler Mike Wright. In all the Bulls managed just four hits.
In spite of the loss of the Bulls loss, and the two hour rain delay, it was great to get back to the ballpark to see the Bulls. I always feel like Opening Night is like a holiday and in my book is right up there with opening Christmas presents and having a piece of turkey on Thanksgiving. I am glad to have my summer friend back. Let's hope it is a good year for the Bulls.