Did they send you down, too?
Des Moines–I arrived at Principal Park startled to see a huge board in the concourse with the current standings of the North Division of the Pacific Coast League. Even at Triple A, the Cubs were chasing the Cardinals.
The Iowa Cubs entered tonight trailing the Memphis Redbirds by a game and a half. I’m here doing a story for Vine Line following our Triple-A club. I wanted to see what life was like for Triple-A players leading up to the Sept. 1 call up day.
Not only that, I wanted to see what that proverbial minor-league bus ride was like. Thanks to Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita and Iowa Cubs media relations manager Andrea Breen, I was able to somehow weasel my way on to the bus for their Aug. 30 road trip to Omaha.
But before that, I am taking in two games at Principal Park, watching the I-Cubs take on the Oklahoma City Redhawks, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
Before the game, I wandered around batting practice saying hi to a bunch of players and coaches. There were a lot of familiar faces, as many of them, like Andres Blanco, Micah Hoffpauir, Bobby Scales, Justin Berg, Jeff Samardzija, Mitch Atkins and Jeff Stevens, have seen big-league action this year. It was almost as if I were watching the Chicago club.
Blanco came over to me and laughed, “Hey, did they send you down, too?”
Hitting coach Desi Wilson was watching behind the cage while catcher Chris Robinson lined a shot to third where Andres Blanco, who has been battling a calf injury, snagged the ball that would have certainly speared teammate Nate Spears.
“There’s baseball going on right now, you know!” yelled Hoffpauir.
Hoffpauir, who had made the big-league club out of spring training seemed to be in OK spirits, but there was a tinge of melancholy.
“How you doin’ Hoffy?”
“I’m doing fine. Things in Chicago good for you?”
“It’s been a little rough, as you might have heard.”
“Yeah, well, it’s still where you want to be, right?”
And that was when it hit me that even though the big-league team was struggling, as a player, the big-leagues was where he would rather be.
Don’t get me wrong; he loves Des Moines, saying “it’s a great city. Quiet. Clean. A lot like where I live now.” But he’d trade it for a ticket back to Chicago in an instant.
The I-Cubs ended up winning 7-4. Robinson’s last game is tomorrow, as he will be going to play with Team Canada. He was voted the team’s MVP.