I almost can’t believe it, but a year has passed since I sadly said goodbye to my West Michigan Whitecaps when they exited the Midwest League playoffs. HERE I AM – making my return!
To see this first year pass on the river has been truly unreal. We moved in late last season, so I attended seven games in the last 7 weeks to really get it in while I could.
My dad and I survived bouts in winter without electricity and heat; we rode out a nearly month long flood; and watched, for our first time, a full baseball season on the river.
We went 91-45, not letting up from a 45-22 first half that sent several key players to higher levels. Our manager won the league’s top honor for a reason, which was on display in game one of the 2017 playoffs tonight.
The playoffs (and season) move at a much more rapid pace in the minors vs. the majors. You play way less games for a variety of reasons: age, experience, and for the prospects to be called up if the top team wants them. And the playoffs begin with a best-of-three format, making game one SO critical.
Last year, no team in a series against West Michigan won consecutive games. I think I’m going to witness it tomorrow, but by beating Dayton tonight, we took tremendous pressure off ourselves.
Down 2-1 in the top of the 9th, I listened to one of the most incredible comebacks in Grands Rapids history. With two outs in a game neither team could score in, we got our fourth hit of the game. The #3 hitter ensued with a walk, allowing the cleanup hitter to mash a 2-1 double over the center fielder for the game-tying & game-winning runs!
Our closer nailed it 1-2-3 as I wiped away tears and hugged my dad, also listening on the radio, in a surreal moment. WELCOME BACK, WEST MICHIGAN!