This isn't going to be a popular statement with the people I met in Lancaster, but I wasn't overly fond of the Hangar. It was clean with good facilities, etc. but it simply lacked the character of Lexington or the amenities and bonuses of location of Whataburger Field in Corpus. And it was unrelentingly hot with not one smidgen of shade during the day. But the people more than made up for anything that the ballpark lacked. From the grounds crew to the stadium workers to the waitstaff and vendors to the wonderful Jason Schwartz, everyone helped make my visit a memorable one. I was particularly impressed with the fans. They were both knowledgeable and passionate which makes for an enjoyable game experience. And the Boosters Club made sure I had everything I needed.
I am in absolute awe of Jason. Not only does he broadcast the play-by-play and write the game story, he is all over the ballpark for hours before the game doing everything from getting notes to the coaching staff to posting the line-up. But it was watching him broadcast that I found most impressive as he seamlessly called the action, kept his scorecard, held numerous 90 second conversations between innings, checked in with his followers on twitter, interviewed individuals with barely a minute of preparation, grabbed a bite to eat and never missed a beat. His phenomenal sense of humor and ability to connect to people were the icing on the cake.
I wasn't really sure what to expect from a team that recently lost a few of their bretheren to roster cuts, but the team was upbeat and loose during pre-game workouts. They work hard, but they haven't lost sight of the fact that they are playing a game so they have fun too. I saw a lot of comaraderie on this team. The position player/pitcher divide off the field wasn't as pronounced as I've seen elsewhere.
- Domingo Santana doesn't always take the most direct routes to the ball, but his talent shouldn't be questioned. He is advanced beyond his 20 years (he just turned 20 on Sunday) and is going to be an exciting player to watch.
- George Springer was struggling at the plate while I was there and had a tendency to swing for the fences on most pitches, but I literally gasped after seeing a couple of his plays in center field.
- Aside from one early batter which Colton Cain walked after temporarily losing the strike zone, he looked dominant on Sunday. He mixed his pitches well and worked quickly. His two-run home run in the 7th inning was my fault because he served it up the second I left to go to the bathroom. My bad.
- Carlos Perez has a legitimate arm. His throws to second were deadly and accurate.
I spent a lot of time talking with Pitching Coach Don Alexander and Manager Rodney Linares. They were extremely generous with their time and their knowledge and I gained a great deal of insight into individual players as I talked with them. A coach's perspective on a player is helpful beyond measure to a novice like me. I am incredibly grateful for their help.
Overall, it was a tremendous experience and I thank the great people of Lancaster and the Jethawks players and coaches for welcoming me with open arms.