I’m back home after spending the past two days in the Quad Cities, where the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game, Home Run Derby and Fan Fest took place.
The Western Division beat the Eastern Division 8-3 in the All-Star Game, which included home runs by Chris Dennis of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Nino Leyja of the Burlington Bees. Leyja, who won the game’s Top Star Award, hit his home run off South Bend Silver Hawks lefty David Holmberg. It was Leyja’s first homer of the year, and it came off a pitcher who hadn’t given up a run since May 22. (Of course, Holmberg’s scoreless streak, which stands at 27 innings, remains current because the All-Star Game isn’t part of the regular season.)
Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder Travis Witherspoon, who won Monday night’s Home Run Derby, went 0-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Richard Jones of the Peoria Chiefs and Douglas Landaeta of the Burlington Bees each got two hits.
The 14 pitchers who threw for the Western Division combined for 14 strikeouts, including nine in the first five innings. The Eastern Division pitching staff recorded nine strikeouts. Burlington Bees righty Blake Hassebrock got the win.
I wasn’t impressed by the Fan Fest held inside the nearby River’s Edge Sports Center, but I’m also not part of its target audience. Most activities were geared toward children, with the exception of the autograph sessions, which could’ve been organized better.
I also wasn’t impressed by local radio personalities Dave and Darren, who emceed the Home Run Derby. They were more annoying than funny.
The entertainment wasn’t all bad, though. I was really impressed by the acrobatic gymnast group, the Russian Bar Trio, and David “No Way” Brulet, a former Cirque du Soliel juggler who juggled baseball equipment. Then, during a pitching change in the 6th inning, Bowling Green Hot Rods shortstop Derek Dietrich impressed everyone by juggling three baseball bats almost as well as Brulet had. I wonder if professional juggling is Dietrich’s backup plan if his desired career in professional baseball doesn’t work out for him.
Diamond by the river
The Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game took place at Modern Woodmen Park, home of the Quad Cities River Bandits. It’s a great place to watch minor-league baseball, with the only drawback being the countless mayflies that swarm the ballpark during this time of the year.
I’m not going to write much about the ballpark right now, but I promise to do so when I return to Modern Woodmen Park to watch a couple Quad Cities River Bandits games in late July. Now, however, I will mention just a couple new things I noticed at the ballpark.
The first thing I noticed was different than in years past was the improved parking lot beneath Centennial Bridge (the Mississippi River bridge seen beyond right field). Previously covered with gravel, the lot now is paved, reportedly to the tune of $1 million from the city of Davenport.
The other notable new thing I noticed was the new videoboard installed earlier this month. It supposedly is one of the largest videoboards in a Class A ballpark.