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MailTribune.com
  • Medford Rogues observations

    Along with beer and bad baby names
  • Once the unfortunately named Corvallis Knights center fielder crushed a grand slam over the center-field wall, I knew the end was nigh for the local team.
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  • Once the unfortunately named Corvallis Knights center fielder crushed a grand slam over the center-field wall, I knew the end was nigh for the local team.
    "Blake Drake with the big hit," I said to my friend T-bags, who pulled from his beer cup as the Knights danced around the bases.
    The Medford Rogues were down big and not coming back. And as a chill wind jogged in from left field, I began to grow surly. Why was I cold in June?
    "Blake Drake? Are you serious?" I grumbled, taking a hit from my beer. "I understand that white people base their baby names on the hot country star of the moment, but at least choose names that don't (expletive) rhyme."
    "Tell me about it," T-bags replied, another sip of beer.
    Long pause.
    "I hate white people," I said.
    "Tell me about it," T-bags, beer, repeat.
    Aside from the lopsided score, which saw the Medford Rogues fall to 5-9 on the season, I rather enjoyed my hours at Harry & David Field. Adding a competitive summer baseball league was a boon for Medford — and for people like me who would rather sit in the sun with a beer and watch ball than slump at a bar on their days off.
    The place has plenty of good things going for it, including a spot right off the bikepath. Hardcore cyclists can access the field from each direction without taking their lives in their hands on Highway 99 at rush hour.
    For those not in the know, the Rogues are a West Coast League team made up of college players from the region. Many of the players are local guys playing for University of Portland, Western Nevada and the like. It gives the games a Southern Oregon feel.
    And based on the healthy turnout Wednesday night, the area seems to be embracing the Rogues. I can see why. They play at a high level. Both the Rogues and the Knights did solid work in the field, with one beautifully executed sacrifice bunt from the Knights springing into mind.
    Also, they use wood bats, which is the perfect antidote to the sharp pings you hear echoing from the city-league softball games just across the way from Harry and David Field. I'm not an aluminum-bat hater. I actually like the pings, but it is satisfying to hear the crack of wood in competitive play around these parts.
    Even if you don't like baseball, showing up for the Rogues' PA announcer is worth the $5 ticket. They inject some fairly dry humor into the show. When a player in the field screws up, they blast a snippet of Homer Simpson's iconic "D'oh!"
    And when the play becomes monotonous, as baseball is wont to do at times, the announcer digs deep into Homer's catalogue with, "Mmmm "¦ beer."
    Amazingly, it works. Each time the "Mmmm ... beer" echoed through the park, T-bags and I looked at the last inch of brew in our cups and hustled to the concessions for a refill. Pavlovianism in action.
    I guess the Rogues are a welcome respite from being a Chicago Cubs fan. My beloved Cubs are mired in yet another season of ineptitude. It seems like only yesterday I rushed to the RedZone in Ashland to celebrate Opening Day. Two months later, my heart has hardened to a frigid chunk of moon rock as the Cubs' thoughtless play takes its inevitable, grueling toll on my soul.
    Honestly, I've all but tuned them out this season. Why purposely tune into a car wreck? Might as well turn away and glance back at the carnage after it happens. It's easier that way.
    Therefore, the Rogues have become my surrogate team. They even wear spiffy pinstripes for their home jerseys, just like the Cubs.
    Unlike the Cubs, however, I can see the Rogues building a winning team in the near future. I can see why some college dudes who want to refine their skills in the summer would want to live in Southern Oregon. It's far better than being stuck in Reno or (shudder) Fresno.
    An added bonus, of course, is the Southern Oregon Brewing beer tent, which hucks $4 cups of their Holy Water Maibock. A pretty good deal at a ballpark. Great beer, too.
    See you at the game.
    Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or cconrad@mailtribune.com.
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