The Lugnuts unofficially opened their season last night in front of a Cooley Law School Stadium record 12,997 fans. If you talk to anyone about the business of baseball one of the first things they tell you is that they are not selling the product on the field, but the experience at the ballpark. The Crosstown Showdown on Thursday night was quite the experience.
Last night was my first ballgame in Lansing. I was very impressed with how much the community bought into the game. A number of fans that wanted to buy tickets a half hour after the game started were turned away because there was simply no more room in the stadium. The community was interested after the game as well. Local bartenders, waitresses and other members of the community that were not in attendance asked fans that were about the game and who won.
That being said… the product on the field will be pretty good this year.
Defense is supposed to win championships, right?
This Lansing squad is excellent defensively, especially the infield. Kellen Sweeney at 3B, Andy Burns at SS and Jon Berti at 2B made some difficult plays look easy Thursday night.
Sweeney made a great play early in the game to his left. He flashed some great range and fielded the waist high hop with an outstretched left arm. Sweeney then spun 360 degrees to his left and fired a frozen rope to first.
Andy Burns and Jon Berti each flashed an excellent backhand. Burns ranged deep into the hole at shortstop to backhand a groundball. After showing off his range Burns stopped his momentum, set his feet and got rid of the ball in the blink of an eye. The throw was right on the money.
Jon Berti made a similar play from the 2B position. It was a groundball up the middle just to the right of the second base bag. I thought it was ticketed for centerfield. Instead, Berti snagged the grounder thanks to his long range. He stopped on a dime and dropped a few jaws in the press box with his powerful arm coming from small man (listed at 5-10 185 lbs).
Lansing officially opens their season tonight against the Great Lakes Loons with a top prospect on the mound; Texas-fireballer Noah Syndergaard. The pitching on this 2012 squad is worthy of a separate blog post so check back later and tune in tonight.
All the games are on Big Country 92.1 FM and online by clicking right HERE