Opening Day, the 25th downtown, is in the books
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 8:56 am, April 12, 2012
The Buffalo Bisons have had some outstanding Opening Days since moving into their downtown ballpark back in 1988. Sun drenched summery openings, a wintry blast which wiped out an entire opening home stand, dramatic plays and finishes on the field, and ugly and forgettable outings. But as far as Opening Days go, this one might be looked back upon and stand out as one of the more memorable.
Yesterday at Coca Cola Field, the Bisons opened their 25th season of baseball downtown, with a 12-3 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. The ballpark that opened in 1988 as Pilot Field never looked so good. Out on the plaza, flags bearing the team’s 25th anniversary logo flapped in the breeze. Inside, new netting behind home plate give fans a much better view of the field, and that stifling canopy of netting gone forever. Thanks to a warm winter, the field never looked so lush and so green, and the infield dirt sculpted to perfection. A new team merchandise store is open on the first base side, and food choices with a Buffalo theme are the new standard. Once again, the Bisons management and staff have outdone themselves to bring baseball to the fans in all its glory.
On the field, it was all Bisons, as the team got four home runs to power their 12-3 win. The offensive run output set an Opening Day record for the Herd, and made a mess of the pitching outing of Yank’s prospect Dellin Betances. One of the home runs, a 4th inning blast courtesy of Zach Lutz, cleared the Oak Street fence and landed on the street. A lucky passerby was jumping up and down on the berm across the street, showing off the ball for all to see.
Bisons Manager Wally Backman was all smiles as he held court in the clubhouse following the game before a crush of media. “It’s exciting for them to play the way they played today, and they are capable of doing that on a consistent basis,” said Backman. He had special praise for his starting pitcher, Jeurys Familia, who surrendered a 3 run home run early but then pitched 5 solid innings to get the win. “He really settled down. For him to pitch that way says a lot.”
Backman is already displaying the air of confidence and swagger that has been somewhat lacking in the Mets era in Buffalo. When told that his team had just broken the Opening Day run record, he replied, “No didn’t know that. But there is going to be more of that to come.”
As to the weather? It was a somewhat blustery day, and that kept the crowd down to abut 6000 patrons (almost 11,000 tickets were sold). “Hey it was cold this morning, then the sun came out, it was nice, then it started snowing. Welcome to Buffalo!” said Backman.
The Bisons continue the home stand throughout the weekend, with games Thursday through Sunday all starting at 1PM. Best of all, the weather will be getting better each day.