Bisons 2011: Home Runs, Hits and Errors
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 3:49 pm, September 7, 2011
The Buffalo Bisons 2011 season is in the books… on the field, another dreary and miserable season, their third worst record in the modern era, and the sixth straight year where the team has not made it to the postseason.
Despite the lack of success for the team, the 2011 was a fun one in many other ways. New ballpark enhancements, including the spectacular HD board, and some innovative new entertainment distractions proved to be a big hit with the fans. So as we say goodbye to summer, here is a recap of some of the highlights and lowlights of the season that was. See you at Coca Cola Field… April 11, 2012!
Home Run… the HD board. It was highly touted and eagerly anticipated, but the newest and most notable enhancement to our ballpark gives entertainment an entirely new dimension. The images and graphics are spectacular, and best of all, the game day operations staff mastered the presentation on the board right from the get go.
Home Run… Make that 21 of them, courtesy of Valentino Pascucci, one of the few bright lights on a pretty bad roster. Pascucci rightfully earned a call up to the big club on the final day of the regular season, his first return to MLB since 2004.
Hit… Owner Bob Rich has been pretty much absent from the ballpark these past few seasons, but this summer was a regular, in part to promote his new book and on several occasions dropped by the press box just to hang out and talk. A stand up guy Bob is, and great to see a hands on owner.
Home run… Actually, “Goallllllll!” courtesy the Bedlington Terriers. Rich’s sponsored English soccer team made quite a splash when they came for a visit and a “Friendly” exhibition against the FC Buffalo squad in late June. Our British visitors were feted by the Bisons and given the warm Buffalo welcome on July 3rd at the ballpark.
Hit… And oh what a hit by the Wing, Celery, Cheese mascot race. Poor Celery ended the year winless, and Wing became more arrogant and full of himself as the season wore on. What will 2012 bring in terms of drama and intrigue? All we can say is stay in your seats after the bottom of every 5th inning.
Error… That being said, putting Celery and the Nationals’ Teddy Roosevelt up against each other in a runoff of lovable losers on the final night was just plain dumb. Everyone knew that Teddy would not notch his first “W” at a minor league ballpark, and the script fell flat. Too much World Wrestling and Vince McMahon stuff here… Stick to the basics guys.
Hit… The new field drainage system worked like a charm. Gone are the bad old days when team personnel and grounds crews walked the field with pained looks on their faces after a morning deluge. And that leads us too…
Error… the new lighting system is just off. Granted, the field is lit up fine, but at night the first six rows of the stands are awash in light while the rest of the stadium looks pitch dark. Work remains to be done.
Hit… And props to John Boutet, collector and curator of a voluminous collection of Buffalo sports memorabilia. On “Aud Replica Night”, Boutet brought a sampling of his stuff for viewing in the concourse. His vision of a permanent house for a “Buffalo Sports Museum” deserves some serious consideration. Perhaps at Canalside. Oops, sorry for making that suggestion! We’re not allowed to have cool things at Canalside. Tielman will sue, Goldman will kick up a fuss. Sorry.
Home run… To the Bisons PR, Marketing and game day crews. Their innovative use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are cutting edge. The fresh faced and friendly interns are all over the ballpark and go out of their way to make fans feel welcome. A good job all around!
Home run… To Pat Malacaro, who became a regular on the Bisons broadcast crew this year. Pat cut his teeth as a bat boy as a youngster, then in his college years got on the postgame show to read out of town scores (ref: “Homerdome”), and the past two seasons did radio play by play for the NYPL Batavia Muckdogs. Pat is good at what he does and will only get better in the years to come. Best of all, a true Buffalo guy!
Hit… The “Teufel Scuffle”, as it was, took place on August 18. Pitcher Shawn Teufel was called up from the “A” level to start for Toledo against the Bisons, and proud papa, Bisons Manager Tim Teufel, could watch with pride as his son notched his first AAA win against the team he coaches.
Error… Too many ads! Granted more and more advertising billboards have crept up on thge outfield walls, but are those canvas billboards, all misshapen and in different sizes, really needed on the outside chain link fence along Oak Street? Coca Cola Field is an architectural gem… that entire mess makes the stadium look like crap.
Error… A bicycle rack on the plaza would be a good thing.
Hit… For the “Ballpark Brew Bash” taking place this weekend at the ballpark. $25 admission, benefiting Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, gets you to sample some of this region’s finest beers and ales.
Home Run… To the Bisons 25th anniversary logo, unveiled at the last game and promising a season of tribute to 25 years downtown all next season. The AAA All Star Game comes to town next July, and it promises to be an exciting event for our city. The first ever AAA All Star Game took place right here back in 1988. Benny DiStefano. Morgana, the Kissing Bandit. The Earl of Bud. A community primed and prepped for the eventuality that a MLB expansion team was on the precipice of coming. Wow… has it really been 25 years!?
Photo credit: Jeffrey P. Baker