Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Rockin' out with the Ducks


Watch my video intro


Bottom of the third inning. Time to trot out toward the Ducks bullpen in right field and see what's happening.

By now, the alcohol should start taking its effect on those consuming such beverages at Citibank Park. I can only imagine what a bunch of rowdy Long Islanders will yell at a defenseless John Rocker sitting in the bullpen watching his team play. I'm thinking it's somewhere between typical Yankee Stadium chants from the bleachers and what John Rocker said six years ago to make John Rocker become, well, John Rocker.

I've been looking forward to this study on human psyche/stupidity for a few days and could barely sleep Tuesday night after hearing of his spat with a fan in Atlantic City earlier that day.

Damn! He's not even out here.

This is disappointing.

Shut down for four days with what the Ducks officially called a "dead arm," Rocker was nowhere to be found. I'm quite upset. Rocker is the one we (CIRCLE BEST ANSWER) curious/crazy/degenerate people pay to see. Rocker is the one that brought the reporters. The New York Post, New York Daily News and Westchester Journal News traveled to little ol' Central Islip for an independent Atlantic League baseball game. To a town in Suffolk County that may as well be home to Donald Duck or Kevin Duckworth, let alone the Long Island Ducks, for all these news outlets care.

And I'm probably the only one of the card-carrying sports media horde willing to go rogue and string together these four words in this powerful order: John Rocker is awesome.

Yeah, I said it.

You're probably ready to dye my hair purple and throw me on the No. 7 train for a few hours right about now. Please don't. Here's why.

Rocker spoke his mind. Though I don't agree with his assessment of the people who ride the No. 7 subway, I admire him for saying what he thought. He may have insulted every New Yorker, but in a world where athletes speak for hours without ever saying anything, his honest emotion was refreshing. Immature and primitive, but refreshing.

Then again, that was six years ago, and everyone deserves a second chance. Think about how many of us wouldn't be where we are if not for second chances. If Hockey friend Zamboni hadn't stepped in for Jersey friend Tiny to give me the Heimlich maneuver hours before Game 2 of the 1998 World Series, I'd have choked on my barbecue chicken sandwich and missed Tino Martinez's grand slam off San Diego's Mark Langston. I'd also be dead.

But enough of Johnny Rock, at least for now. You can read about him at http://www.newsday.com/sports. With Rocker nowhere in sight, it's time to appreciate some of the other treats offered at a Long Island Ducks game at Citibank Park. Let's take a walk and see what's available to the 6,000-plus fans who spend their 7, 9 or 10 bucks per ticket:

* Dominick's, the official sausage of the Long Island Ducks.
Any sports team that has an official sausage company deserves respect.

* A chance to see former Yankee greats.
Who could forget the immortal Donovan Osborne? Or the once indispensable Todd Erdos? And what if the Yankees had held on to almost-an-All-Star Chris Latham?

* Pete Rose Jr.
Haven't seen a guy getting by on name recognition like this since Eddie Murphy in "A Distinguished Gentleman."

* $2.75 sodas.
Or, if you want to splurge for the souvenir Ducks cup -- and, frankly, who wouldn't? -- it'll cost you a whopping $3. For those counting at home, that's cheaper than it costs to use an ATM at a bank that's not yours.

* Speaking of franks, how about the $3.25 hot dog, and $3.75 jumbo dog.
Sure, it's not the 3 for $3 deal on the service road of the L.I.E., but they taste extremely good and you don't have to stop on the service road of the L.I.E.

* $4.75 beers, $5.50 if you're a serious drinker.
About the best deal imbibers will ever come across at a sporting event, at least until one team develops the guts to offer "Rollback Prices" night.

* The concession stands workers who appreciate a great movie quote dropped in the course of everyday life.
"We're not making any more jumbo hot dogs. They didn't even tell us," one young fella said.
"Maybe they didn't come up there and tell you," I responded in proper Goodfellas format. "No more shines."

* The Rafael Palmiero lookalike sitting in Section 212.
Not sure if he's a season-ticket holder, but I bet he can put it over the 325-foot sign in right field quite a few times.

* The fans.
Half of them don't even know a baseball game is going on.

* The stats.
They appear meaningless to most in attendance, which is rather refreshing in an obscure way.

* The games.
No, not the game. Out by the Ducks' bullpen, they have a game where fans can throw a strike, or a ball, and get clocked on the radar gun. The true beauty of this game is that the clock is not visible. Would-be hurlers are told their speed. C'mon Ducks. You're defending champions and sell out the park nearly every game. Splurge for the display. Is Joe Torre in charge of this game? (For the record, in 10 minutes of viewing, I thought Tom Glavine was pitching. That's how many strikes weren't thrown.)

* The games, part deux.
Plenty of kids lined up to take part in radar. Plenty of parents walking around drinking drinks their children will have to wait until the next decade begins to purchase legally. Yes, I hear you begging, so here's my question: Who's driving home?

* The ninth inning.
In the Atlantic League, no game is over until the final out. Some of the strangest things have occurred while watching Ducks games.

* Free junk.
72 home games, 54 promotional giveaways. And six fireworks nights. Not too shabby.

* John Rocker.
Johnny Rock will rise again!

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