Montgomery Biscuits 2016

By on 14 April, 2016 in Fun, Kate and Stephen with 0 Comments

Anyone with experience baking knows that you have to pay attention, or else your biscuits could burn.

In the world of minor league baseball, it could be tempting to take your eye off the Montgomery Biscuits — because there are so many interesting things happening with folks that are no longer directly part of the team.

Last year’s national minor league baseball Player of the Year, Blake Snell, is in Durham and will be in the majors before the season is over. Snell spent impressive time with Montgomery last year and is on the cover of the 2016 Biscuits program.  In fact, his 2015 was described as one of the best seasons in the history of minor league baseball. Not all of the people who won Minor League Player of the Year end up becoming major league stars, but a lot of them do. Check out this article on Snell, and tell me you aren’t interested in following the remainder of his career.

Also no longer in Montgomery is fan favorite former Biscuits manager Billy Gardner, who is now the coach of the Syracuse Chiefs, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Coach Gardner has been doing a great job in Syracuse, and would be an excellent big league skipper.

Former Biscuit Matt Bush is also in the news recently. After a series of terrible events, he’s back in baseball over in the Rangers system, and this ESPN piece did a really great job of exploring the story of someone that we really hoped would excel during his time in Montgomery.

And then there are the scores of former Biscuits that are doing a great job at the highest level, whether you’re talking about beloved catcher Stephen Vogt (this profile is excellent) or Chris Archer, who was making history down in Cuba, while also being hilarious with tweets towards President Obama and the First Lady. As a brief aside on this subject, if you love baseball and didn’t get a little bit misty when the Rays played the Cuban national team in Havana recently, you should check yourself for a pulse. That was a beautiful moment.

But let’s not get distracted and talk about Biscuits of bygone years. What about this year’s team? What seeds are being planted for tomorrow’s really cool stories? Are there any prospects with great potential? Why should we head out to the ballpark?

First of all, let’s be clear. When we write about baseball, we aren’t going to the ballpark to watch the fireworks that torment the River Region’s pets and sufferers of PTSD. Nor are we going for the promotional giveaways (although we do love the occasional bobblehead and Bark in the Park days because we love taking our dog to see baseball). We are mostly there to watch the game, the on-the-field product. To get a sense of our writings about Biscuits baseball, click here and here and here. And if you really, really love Biscuits baseball, you probably already know that there’s very little that we can add to the analysis already provided by Dr. Miraculous, who runs one of my favorite baseball blogs anywhere, period.

How was the 2016 home opener? It was great! The weather was beautiful. The Biscuits won. The veggie burgers are not only still tasty (add yellow mustard, onions and jalapenos for maximum effect), but they have evidently eliminated the long wait time between ordering a veggie burger and receiving one. Our overall concession stand experience was outstanding. My dad ordered some of the barbecue and one of the free hot dogs that came along with admission to the Opening Night game. He was happy with his food options, and we left the ballpark feeling happy and full. Solid B-plus to the concession folks, with a minor deduction for not offering vegetarian hot dogs.

Two other minor quibbles with the in-game presentation: First, they keep bringing back that “Bring on the Biscuits” song before the game. It must have some vocal fans, because it is a terrible jangly anthem, perhaps the worst song ever made about biscuits, and maybe the worst ever about baseball. I almost described it as a “country-western” sound, but that somehow seems insulting to the recently-deceased Merle Haggard. The less said about the “team songs,” the better. If you want to hear for yourself, click here.

Second, and more significantly, we really want to see some tweaks to the video board and stats on display. It makes no sense why they have two screens right next to each other showing identical information. Both video boards don’t need to show batting average, RBI and home runs. If you’ve got to show stats for the hitter on both boards, it’d be fine to use some advanced metrics, or even just show the slugging percentage. But what we’d really like to see would be some info about the pitcher. We looked all night for two basic pieces of information: the speed of the pitch and the pitch count. The crowd enjoys looking up after hearing the pop of a fastball and seeing that it was over 90 miles per hour. It’s interesting to measure how many pitches to takes to get a batter out. Most pitching coaches have been tracking these stats for decades, and they are increasingly used in making determinations about when it’s time to make a call to the bullpen. If you’ve got room on the video board, folks would enjoy seeing these stats.

We were reasonably satisfied with the crowd size, but local sports reporter Tim Gayle was a bit concerned by the turnout. He does make an important point that we need to continue to support the team if we want to ensure that there’s high quality minor league baseball happening in our city.

How was the game? Awesome! We had our eyes on shortstop Willy Adames, the Rays’ third best prospect, and outfielder Jake Bauers, said to be the franchise’s number five prospect. But the early game highlight was an incredible triple off the bat of Jake Hager, who seems to have rebounded well from an injury last season. We were glad to see him back in action and hitting well.

Also, Johnny Field has returned to the Biscuits outfield. You may remember his name from last year, when he was being awesome in the AA All-Star Game that we hosted here in Montgomery.

The 2016 Biscuits ought to know how to win. Many of them were in single-A baseball last year, when the 2015 Charlotte Stone Crabs won the Florida State League Championship for the first time in team history. Hopefully they brought some of their winning ways up with them from Port Charlotte and the Biscuits will make a return trip to the playoffs.

All in all, it was a great night. The season is long, and there will likely be some days during the summer when we aren’t sure we want to go brave the heat at the ballpark. But we’re newly committed to more games this season, and we’re fired up about spending some time with the 2016 Biscuits. If you want a great deal for your entertainment dollar, check the schedule and go check out a few games. It’s a lot of fun.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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