Rancho Cucamonga CA: Sometimes we need to go to the places that are comforting and safe. With all that is going on in the world and our own country, it is important to know where those heart-warming places are. I know where my go-to place is, minor league baseball.
Tonight I took my 12 year old granddaughter Molly to see the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League and the Single-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, take on the Visalia Rawhide, the Single-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks at Loan Mart Field. Just south of the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and Angeles National Forest in San Bernardino County, California. About 37 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles.
I was interested in seeing the Quakes who have the ability to use 38 players as they shift them from their club to extended spring training in their player development center. 27 of the 38 are latino. I need to see them a few times to get a better understanding as to what kind of potential they have. I am impressed with the numbers of 20 year old catcher, Diego Cartaya from Maracay, Venezuela who is the Dodgers’ number-one overall prospect. As the Quakes DH tonight he was 1 for 4 with a run scored. Then there is 22 year old outfielder Damon Keith who went 2 for 5 with 3 RBI’s. One of his hits was a monster HR to dead centerfield. Anyone with two first names is a keeper for me.
With a 6-1 lead in the 6th inning a strange thing happened to the Quakes. The Rawhides plated 11 runs that stunned the 2815 in attendance on another beautiful night in California.
So here is where being in a heart-warming place becomes nice. I heard someone say to the man sitting behind me, “How do you score all of that on your scorecard when so many batters came up in one half inning?”
As he began to tell the other person how he manipulated his card I turned around and saw that he had a book of scored games. Now he had my attention and I had to tell him that it is so rare to see anyone keeping score at a baseball game today. His name is Chad Robertson and he explained to me that he has a love for the game and that he actually uses the same scorecard as TV broadcasters.
He went on to tell me of his passion for the game that has its roots for him in Chicago’s south side with the White Sox. He said he has a desire to see every major league ballpark and is going to set his sights on doing that in the near future. Chad also told me that he is a math teacher and that he wants to use his math knowledge to look at all the information he has and continues to accumulate with his box scores to study the situations and their results.
I told him that I remember keeping score at every game as a kid with a scorecard and one inch pencil that was free at every game years ago. Then using those skills to work alongside Tom, Tbone, Giordano as we scouted on the major league level for 10 years.
Chad asked me about scouts and what is happening with them. He said, “The seats in front of us used to be filled with scouts and now I only see a few at the games.” Tonight we only saw one scout. I told him that MLB teams are letting really good baseball lifers and quality scouts go in favor of mathematicians like himself.
He told me that he would like to be involved with baseball when he retires from teaching. I told him that he would be just what baseball is looking for today as it has invested so much into analytics and trying to predict the results of pitches, shifts, swings, launch angles, exit speeds, spin rotation, etc, etc.
Today was Chad’s 39th birthday. I believe if he wished for a career in baseball when he blew out the candles on his birthday cake that he will get his wish one day. He has just what baseball needs, a mathematical background and a passion for the game. It is the perfect combination for the future of baseball. There needs to be a blending of the analytical and love of the game for it to move forward.
It was a fun conversation for me and Chad tonight. One that would have been impossible in a big stadium with 52,000 people and the ear bleeding noise around us. This small minor league venue we were in made it possible for me to hear what was being said behind me. Allowing Chad and I to share our thoughts and passion for the game. I know from past experience that minor league fans are the most knowledgeable fans in the game. It is where I can get back to where I feel the passion I have for the game of baseball. It is my heart-warming place.
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