The Last Angry Sea Dogs Column – For This Year
The Portland Sea Dogs left town this week, narrowly avoiding sheriff’s deputies seeking to enforce a court order to cease and desist impersonating a baseball team.
The Dogs, the Boston Red Sox Double-A minor league team, finished their 2011 season by being shutout in two of their final three games. In the other one, they lost a lopsided contest in which they fell behind in the first inning and were never seen again. The three-game collapse left the Sea Dogs with the worst record in franchise history, surpassing the low-water mark set by the inaugural team in 1994, a year in which the roster included two players who were technically dead and another who refused to take the field wearing pants.
This year’s squad posted an official record of fifty-nine wins and eighty-three losses, of which I somehow managed to see none of the former and all of the latter. Even so, this team wasn’t the worst in Portland professional baseball history. The 1926 Eskimos, the 1928 Mariners, the 1946 Gulls and the 1947 Pilots all compiled worse winning percentages, and you also have to question the validity of any statistics from the 1930 Portland squad, since it was nicknamed the Hustlers.
I confess I missed this season’s final Sea Dogs game. Having endured a weekend of eighteen consecutive innings in which no Portland player crossed home plate except to chase a wild pitch or passed ball, I felt I had earned a break from the unintentionally inept. If I was going to be subjected to poor performances, I wanted them to be lousy on purpose.
So, my wife and I went to see “Cowboys and Aliens.”
It stunk. But in a good way.
On the bright side, much of this year’s team was young and inexperienced.
The Sea Dogs, I mean, not the cast of “Cowboys and Aliens,” most of which was well past its prime. It’s also possible the special effects crew decided to have Daniel Craig prematurely embalmed.
But back to baseball. Portland had a bunch of players who should have been in Single A, learning such fundamentals of the game as how to avoid dozing off in the field and why you should maybe dive for balls hit up the middle once in a while. According to the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Kevin Thomas, many of these unformed youths will be back next season for more conditioning (“The second baseman is snoring again. Try shocking him with that wrist gizmo we got off the space aliens”).
Other positives I took away from this lost season in the sun: The beer selection at Hadlock Field remains excellent. The hamburgers were somewhat improved, often resembling actual food fit for human consumption. The fans were more enthusiastic than the players deserved, although some of this, no doubt, can be attributed to cluelessness (one guy in my section insisted on shouting, “We want a pitcher, not a drink of water”). And one time, we got to see Bryce Harper, the top pick in last year’s draft by the Washington Nationals. At least, we think we saw Harper. He was said to be injured, so he wasn’t playing when the Harrisburg Senators came to town, but a guy who looked a lot like him was walking around the field before the game, and he walked just like a Number One Draft Pick is supposed to walk. I almost wet myself.
All that is enough to have me looking forward to next year. Of course, it doesn’t take much to get me looking forward. I can’t wait for “Cowboys and Aliens 2: Harrison Ford Looks Even Crustier.”
This past week was not without its encouraging news. The two bridges on Route 27 in Carrabassett Valley that were destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene were replaced in record time by temporary spans that will allow those of us who live on the south end of town to reach the dump. Good thing, too, because those old Sea Dogs programs were starting to get rancid.
NewPage Corp., which owns a big paper mill in Rumford, filed in federal bankruptcy court for protection from its creditors while it reorganizes. What’s so good about that? Simple. I’m not one of those creditors.
Everyone at the State House is in agreement that Maine has to cut its income tax rate. Unfortunately, there’s no agreement on how to pay for that, although the two most popular options appear to be: a) Ignore the problem and b) Pretend it will take care of itself.
Philanthropist (a word that means a rich person who’s run out of things to buy for herself) Roxanne Quimby purchased another large chunk of the state, bringing her total land holdings to everything in Maine except Hadlock Field, the NewPage mill in Rumford, and the more unseemly sections of Lewiston. Quimby plans to donate her land to the federal government for use as an estate for Bryce Harper.
And there’s word out of Portland that the city may soon pass an ordinance allowing food trucks. These so-called kitchens on wheels that serve gourmet meals are illegal in the state’s most populous municipality because … well … uh … as far as I can tell, it’s because there’s no law that says they’re legal. That’s the novel nature of Portland: If there’s nothing on the books explicitly stating that something is permitted, than it isn’t.
This explains why that city doesn’t have such amenities as geysers, glaciers, and a “Cowboys and Aliens” theme park (I want to ride on Olivia Wilde).
That lack of a proper ordinance could also be the reason the Sea Dogs sucked so bad. Before next spring, the Portland City Council should correct the situation by passing a law requiring all local sports teams to have winning records.
Al Diamon is through venting his frustration with the Sea Dogs and promises not to further disparage them until next April at the earliest. Instead, he’ll agonize over the Red Sox and, possibly, the Patriots. Condolences can be emailed to email@example.com.