The Akron Rubber Ducks
words by Dave Daly
I fell in love with baseball in the summer. Specifically, it was the summer of 2002 and I was leaving a Poison concert. As we made our way to the parking lot the crowd began to chant. It wasn’t “C.C. rocks,” or “Brett Michaels for president!” Folks were gleefully shouting, “Yankees Suck, Yankees Suck, Yankees Suck!”
Two simple words would alter the course of my life. For if the Yankees suck, and they definitely do, then the Red Sox do not. And just like that, I began my descent into devoted fandom of my hometown team and the sport of baseball.
One thing I’ve grown to understand about baseball over the years is that the season really kicks into gear after the all-star break, during the dog days of summer in August and early September.
As fans settle into sort of a sweat-stained, lethargic stupor, players, especially on good teams, are readying themselves for a playoff run and potential trip to the World Series. Teams are finding their groove, setting off on winning streaks and buying into superstitions that make for great facial hair and over worn undergarments.
Of particular importance to minor league clubs, including our Rubber Ducks, is the expansion of the roster for major league clubs from 25 to 40 players on September 1.. Attend any home game from here on out and you’ll see a gaggle of scouts sitting behind home plate analyzing top prospects who are vying for a chance to make it to the big show.
Cleveland is looking for a chance to get back to the World Series this year, and it is quite possible one or more players currently playing for Akron could be called on to join the boys of summer up at Progressive Field. There’s also a chance they’ll be traded to another organization for players the Tribe can use to fill voids in their lineup and defense. So who should you be on the lookout for at Canal Park?
First and foremost, Francisco Mejia. Mejia, a catcher, has steadily improved his defense this season and is respected for his play behind home plate. However, what is really attractive about Mejia is his offensive play. The man can hit. In fact, he can hit either right or left-handed. He’s a switch hitter, not bound to the normal dominance of one hand we mere baseball plebeians face. As of this writing, Mejia has a batting average of .325, with 37 runs and 10 home runs. If these numbers mean nothing to you, then trust me when I say they are good. So good in fact that there is buzz going around about Mejia possibly skipping a trip to Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, and going straight on up to the majors.
Of course, the trade deadline was July 31 at 4 pm, so as of this article’s printing there is a slight possibility Mejia could have been dealt to another organization. If that’s the case you’re shit out of luck.
Just kidding! Shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang, right-handed pitcher Cameron Hill, and left-handed pitcher Thomas Pannone all joined Mejia at the Eastern-League All Star game and have played well this year. First baseman Bobby Bradley has had a somewhat subdued season but has the power to hit the ball all the way to Canada and has recorded 17 home runs this season. He’s also successfully hunted an 8-point buck, so there’s that too.
Life is fleeting and so is the baseball season. Get out to some games while you still can! Don’t forget to check out the Akron Racers over at Firestone Stadium too!
Dave Daly loathes the New York Yankees. They can eat rocks.