The neatly-trimmed green checkerboard outfield is irrigated, the kegs of Oaken Barrel beer are flowing and that terrible saxophone player outside of Pacers games has taken his three-song repertoire to Capitol Avenue. Cue up that uninspired five-note rendition of “Tequila”: it’s baseball season again in Indianapolis.
The Indians start this season where they left off last year, with speed by the bucketful, young and ambitious offensive prospects, and an unproven (if talented) roster with the turnover rate of your local McDonald’s.
In addition to the convenience of smaller crowds, April and May home games feature the best weather and talent of the season, with top prospects lingering in the minors for a final month before their inevitable departure to the Show.
This spring, Indianapolis signed a four-year Player Development Contract extension with their parent organization, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The well of talent in the Buccaneer’s minor league system runs deep, and Indianapolis will see a surplus of future big leaguers. Namely, outfielder Steve Pearce, who was named the 2007 Minor League Baseball Player of the Year by MiLB.com (the official website of Minor League Baseball), and can be seen gallivanting about the right field picnic area — well within earshot of a dozen meatheads demanding souvenir baseballs — every Indians home stand.
To his right, posed against the patch of evergreen shrubbery in center field, stands Andrew McCutcheon, who hit over .700 his senior year of high school, and is widely considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Manager Trent Jewett loves to steal bases, and McCutcheon has helped Jewett replace the speedy shoes of Brian Bixler, Nyjer Morgan, and especially Nate McLouth, who is hitting .375 for the Pirates.
Victory Field itself has transformed over the winter. To cope with wait times and long lines, additional ticket booths have been added to the outfield will call. Fans will no longer have to dance around the dregs of rush hour traffic on West Street as they wait to pay their $9 for a ticket. The concessions menu has once again expanded to provide everything from burritos and quesadillas to meatball subs.
As has become tradition, Oaken Barrel Brewery provides two of their locally-brewed drafts fresh on tap: Victory Amber, the Tribe’s very own afternoon delight, and Razz-Wheat. And of course, 24-ounce domestic brews flow freely through the park — a beautiful compliment to any of the nine “Monday Dollar Menu Night” games available this summer.
The current home stand against the Louisville Bats features games on Wednesday at 2 p.m., Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday (Fireworks Night) at 7:15 p.m. Louisville currently leads Indy in the division by a single game. The Bats are led by juggernaut prospect Jay Bruce, an outfielder who has been declared as the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr., and is expected to join the Reds mid-season.
For a game schedule, family ticket packages and a complete list of promotional events and specials, visit www.IndyIndians.com.