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A late-July report on mediocre minor league baseball in Tacoma

Photo credit: Steve Dunkelberger

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Here we are, people. Late July. Squarely in the middle of the baseball season. The hot dogs are cooking, the peanuts are flying and the beers are being guzzled by the gallon. Only two more months of glorious baseball left. Guzzle, people. Guzzle.

So, how have our boys of summer, the Tacoma Rainiers, fared 100-plus games into the 2011 Triple-A season?

Judging strictly by the team's record, the Rainiers have handled themselves poorly. Not horribly, but poorly. At 100 games into the season, the team hovers right around the .500 mark. The Rainiers sit a daunting 10 or so games behind their Pacific Coast League North Division rivals, the Reno Aces, making a division championship unlikely. Sure, the team has shown moments of brilliance, comeback victories and big run totals, but for the most part the Rainiers have played as the team's record suggests. Mediocre. A ho-hum mediocre. 

But fear not! Enjoying the Tacoma Rainiers is about more than following the win-loss record. It's about watching prospects turn strong. It's about witnessing dinger after dinger in the Pacific Coast League as the Rainiers (or their opponent) run up the score. It's about how many dollar hotdogs your buddy Charles can cram down his gullet before the Friday night fireworks. Enjoying baseball in Tacoma is about so much more than watching wins and losses. It's about having summer-lovin' fun.

Of course, not everything about this season has been a stroll in Wright Park. There was that time early on when Rainiers starting pitcher Luke French couldn't buy a strikeout. Then there was the inevitable dread as favorite Rainiers like outfielder Mike Carp and infielder Dustin Ackley got called up to the Mariners. And a couple July rain delays at Cheney Stadium have certainly put a damper on some summer nights, that's for sure.

But these are just blips, people. Ignore them. Pay attention instead to outfielder Michael Saunders as he strolls up to the plate to the sound of Too $hort's "Blow the Whistle." Focus on multi-hit games by infielders Alex Liddi and Kyle Seager (and The Silver Bullet Band). Most importantly, enjoy the newness of renovated Cheney Stadium. The greatness of more food carts, increased bathroom capacity and the perfect date-night picnic berm out in right field.

Record? Don't let the record bring you down when the ballpark is sporting fresh urinals.

There's still plenty of fun to be had.

LINK: Follow the Weekly Volcano's Rainiers Minute blog posts

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