We took a tour around the area where I used to live in Richmond and decided to do a quick random restaurant. We do not eat at chains on the road choosing to look for something local and unique instead. We went to The Mill on MacArthur. Excellent.
The outside of The Diamond is a giant concrete bowl with a shoddy wooden fence out in the outfield. In discussing the stadium with different people someone suggested that the outfield fence actually was originally attached to Parker Field. There is a gap in between the billboards on the fence which is reportedly one of the "character" points of the stadium. Really, the outside of this park reminds me of the 70s cookie cutter concrete bowls. The inside is old and antiquated too.
Narrow and crowded concourses run throughout the stadium. The Squirrels had a good crowd for the game (6,200) and the areas around the concession stands tended to bottleneck. While the stadium is just 30 years old it was one of the major reasons that the Braves pulled their Triple A affiliate out of Richmond and moved them to Gwinnett. Even now, the stadium debate in Richmond is still a hot issue and many feel like the Squirrels will leave too without a better facility.
The seating area is better than the inside areas of the stadium. The lower deck has nice seats with good views of the field. There is little foul territory on the field, so fans are really close to the players. The back of the lower bowl has party boxes with seating areas inside and outside. The upper deck has a pretty sharp downward angle (sort of like Kaufmann in KC) with the awesomeness of tarps around the top. What is the stadium in Oakland called now? Yeah.
Oh, and while you are getting off my lawn there is also this.....
Why am I being served ice cream in an Angels helmet at a game involving a Giants affiliate? All I could think of was Scott Spiezo and Troy Glaus going off against the Giants bullpen in the 2002 World Series.
The game. The Squirrels put up a four spot in the second inning which was more offense than the Senators could muster. One of the big hits in the inning came from starting pitcher Matt Lujan. Watching an American League minor league team (Durham Bulls- Rays) means I do not see the pitcher bat ever unless I am watching the Cardinals game on television.
Lujan was also pretty sharp on the mound. The left handed starter had taken a no hitter into the seventh the last time he pitched against the Senators and was dominating again this time. Lujan is not the hardest thrower (high 80s/low 90s), but has good control and stays on the edges of the plate. Here's a great battle against Matt Skole. I am not sure where this last pitch was on this at-bat, but I was ready to punch out Skole.....
I also spent a little bit of time watching Squirrels outfielder Devin Harris. I do not write up many college baseball games, but I saw him play several times while he was playing at East Carolina. He's had two really good years for the Pirates before being drafted by the Giants. Here is one of his at bats......
Outside of the four runs scored by the Squirrels in the second, they tacked on a late run, and cruised to a 5-1 victory. I was impressed with Lujan's control and command during the game, and while he is not the best pitching prospect on the team, I would imagine he'd have a role on the Giants at some point in the future.
Overall, The Diamond leaves a lot to be desired, but the on the field product is pretty good here. The Double A players are a little more advanced than the players I saw in Greensboro and Burlington, but also not far from the level of players I saw all the time watching the International League (AAA). The team seems well supported, so hopefully the city can build a new stadium, maybe get rid of those Angels ice cream batting helmets, and maybe let's lose some of the on field promotions. Flamingos, pigs. Aye Caramba.