Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Night At The Durham Bulls Atheltic Park

I had a chance to attend my first Durham Bulls game of the season yesterday afternoon.  The Durham Bulls Athletic Park has actually undergone a $20 million dollar update this off season and I was really excited to see the changes to the park.  I wish I could have gone on Opening Day, but I missed out.  So, let me give you a run down on the stadium and the team. 

The first thing that caught my attention was the new entrance to the stadium.  It's obviously not complete yet, due to the crazy winter here, but I love the new open look with the fountains.  Previously the DBAP had a closed off entrance with a narrow gate which really blocked off the frint of the park.  The facade of the stadium was only two stories high with a porch surrounding the third floor.  The new facade with the enclosed third floor does a lot for the front of the stadium.  There are also two fountains in the front which I am guessing will be inside the stadium once the team puts a gate back up in front.  I am going back again soon, so I am sure this part of the stadium will change.  You can actually tell they are still working on the the front part also by looking at the roof line which is awaiting some sort of edging.  The old facade is pictured below. 

The inside of the stadium is still very similar in appearance, but there are some slight changes.  One of the biggest changes is the area behind home plate.  I waited until the end of the game to snap a few pictures, but the club seating in the center was previously not a part of the stadium.  There were always a few boxes on the side, but the center of that level was a pressbox.  The club area is apparently really really nice.  I also like the scoreboard above the club level seating.  There were no scoreboards in the infield seating area prior to this renovation. 

The other big visible change to the seating area is the new video board in the outfield, and the advirtising boards which stretched from center field to the right field line, have also been replaced with electronic boards.  The whole outfield is pictured below.  The video boards in right center and right field are hard to see in this picture. 

Here is a good picture of the left field video board located on the Blue Monster.  The manual score board has been moved from below the video board to its new location out in left center field.  Here's the new look and the old look below.



Here's a picture of Jerry Sands.  You can see the wrap around video board out in right field well in this picture.  We will come back to the uniform changes in a few, but I really like the updated outfield.  Looks really sharp.  

There were other changes inside the ballpark too.  The concession stands were upgraded.  All of the seats were replaced.  I could put that in this post, but I also want to talk about the ring ceremony and the players on the team.  That would be one long blog post.  Later this summer I will go to the DBAP on an empty stomach and do a Food Network Style post on all the fixings around the ballpark.  The food and beverage selection is excellent. 

On to the next item.  The Bulls won the Governors Cup last season for winning the International League.  Before the game the players on last year's team received rings.  The team also put a banner out in left field and brought in the Governor's Cup.  Think of the Stanley Cup, but in baseball form.  I wanted to start a "Skate the Cup" chant, but decided against it.  Wool E. Bull wore a tux. 

Group photo while the Braves are stretching in the background. 

You probably noticed the gold numbering on the Jerry Sands picture above.  Following the Major League teams which also wear gold numbering or piping on their ring days, the Durham Bulls likewise with their uniforms for today's game.  Here is a picture of SEMO alumni (me too) wearing his Bulls uniform for the gold numbers. 

So, let's get to the game.  The Bulls lost 4-1.  The Gwinnett Braves got a three run home run from Mark Hamilton and a long home run from Ernesto Mejia.  Hamilton is a former Cardinal.  Meija has hit at least one home run in every game this weekend against the Bulls.  Maybe tomorrow.  In the meantime here's a few short videos of some the players from the game today. 

First up is Gwinnett left-hander Hector Daniel Rodriguez battling Bulls second baseman Robby Price.  This is the first go around for Price in Triple A.  He played at Kansas in college and was an All Big 12 selection.  Hector Daniel Rodriguez is a veteran of the Mexican League.  He threw in the low nineties, high eighties with his fastball and ha good movement on his pitches.  The Bulls had trouble with him the first time through the line up, but he got yanked in the fifth.  Price flies out. 

Next up is Matt Andriese facing Ernesto Mejia.  Mejia is a great power hitter in the International League.  Last season the Braves power hitter launched 28 home runs in Triple A.  As mentioned before, he's kind of killing the Bulls this weekend.  Andriese is a newcomer to the Rays system this year arriving in the Alex Torres trade.  Last year he split time between AA and AAA for the Padres.  Has a fastball in the low 90s.  Not sure there is a lot of movement on his pitches.  Mejia strikes out. 

Next up, local product and former Dodger Jerry Sands.  Worked a walk in this video.  I know that Sands had is struggles last year with the Pirates Triple A team, but he has looked sharp so far this season.  I am expecting a good year out of Jerry playing in front of a home town crowd.  

Last, but not least, is a video of former Yankee and Giant Justin Christian.  There are not many Major League players who graduated from Southeast Missouri State, but Christian is one of the few.  I received my undergraduate degree from there in Education.  Anyway, he is facing a hard throwing Braves reliever here Wilfrin Obispo.  Christian flies out.  

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