Rooting for one more win
Let’s be honest – Durham Bulls fans are more than a little spoiled.
It’s not enough that we watch perhaps the most famous team in minor league baseball, thanks to the film “Bull Durham.” Or that we watch them play in one of the best-designed minor league parks. Or that their marketing-savvy organization provides a non-stop menu of varied food and drink options, sometimes zany between-inning activities and special nights at the park.
No, the really captivating part of this team is their record of success.
Back on April 5, when the 2013 season cranked up in Norfolk, we suspect most fans could harbor without any sense of self-delusion that Durham could win it all. After a soaring start – winning seven of their first games – the Bulls proceeded to spend most of the season with the best league in all of baseball – minor league or major league.
And if past is prologue, those high hopes at season’s opening would have seemed perfectly normal.
Those hopes were realized Saturday night, when the Bulls demolished the Pawtucket Red Sox 7-0 to win their fourth International League Championship since 2002. IL titles came again in 2003 and 2009.
Tonight, the Bulls have a chance to repeat their other accomplishment of2009 – landing the top-spot in Minor League Baseball by beating Pacific League champions, the Omaha Storm Chasers. (That one-game capstone didn’t exist for the Bull’s first to IL championships.) The International and Pacific leagues are the two minor leagues at the Triple A level, one step away from the majors.
Unlike the Bulls, who finished the regular season 87-57, the Storm Chasers struggled to win their division with a record short of .500 – 70 wins against 74 losses. But Omaha surged through the playoffs, closing out their championship, too, Saturday night.
Fans can see the game tonight at 7 on NBC Sports (TWC channel 65), and we suspect many will be watching to see if the Bulls and their masterful manager, Charlie Montoya, can close out this season with one more victory.
But whether they win or not, it has been, once again, a rewarding season for those of us who root, root, root for the home team.
Bull’s designated hitter Shelley Duncan probably spoke for many a minor-leaguer after Saturday night’s victory.
“Whenever you have the chance to be in the postseason in Minor League Baseball, it gives you a couple of extra weeks to play,” he said. “It allows you to have fun with the guys and celebrate the year you had with your teammates.”
That’s true for the players, but it’s true, too, for the fans – the Bulls’ frequent trips to the postseason give their followers here a few extra chances to have fun and celebrate.
So here’s hoping there’s one more chance to celebrate when tonight’s one-game championship match is over.