Friday, September 3, 2010

topes times three.

For what it's worth, the Albuquerque Isotopes are up right now 13-3, in the top of the ninth in their last home game of the season. We haven't had a great season, but I did get a chance to catch the game last night, covering it for the Alibi. I thought it'd be interesting to look at the ways in which the article changed as I morphed the story from a more op-ed-ish blog piece to a straight-forward recap. Usually I just post the first draft here, and link to the Alibi's, but I thought I'd try this out for now.


First Draft

Isotopes Fall in Penultimate Home Game

The Albuquerque Isotopes had their chance to convert me into a baseball believer. I went to the second to last home game of the season with my two-year old nephew, and he loved almost every minute. He took in the sights of the game with the most attentive eye I've seen him display. He ate an entire ballpark hot dog in about a minute flat. And, believe me, you've never realized how many claps the sound system at Isotopes Stadium plays until you've been to a game with a kid who's in love with clapping. He told the players good luck, he cheered for both teams, and he enjoyed our walk around the park. All the while, the 'Topes were playing a heck of a game, leading for the entire time – until the ninth inning.

After the Iowa Cubs had a scoreless first inning, the 'Topes took them to task, scoring in each of the first four innings. The second inning had its own drama, when it appeared as though the Cubs had put a double play on the 'Topes, but the ruling was recalled and we scored three more runs. In the fifth inning, things started to get back on track for the I-Cubs, but the good guys were firmly in command: we scored three runs in the sixth inning, and had one in the eighth. We were up 13-6 heading into what should have been the last half-inning. I had my baby nephew with me. The crowd was rocking out to Neil Diamond. Things should have been perfect.

Then the 'Topes proceeded to self destruct. They gave up nine runs in the ninth inning, and the crowd, in addition to loudly groaning, had its energy sapped. The cries of “Bom! Bom! Bom!” turned into curses and moans. The crowd had been with the team, sticking it out in spite of the blowout, but as the lead was slowly trimmed, and then grossly chopped, things took a turn for the worse.

The final score was 15-13, the Iowa Cubs. The rain that I'd smelled all game long hadn't come at any point, much less quick enough to stave our execution. The crowd was angrily disappointed, after leading the whole game, after such a fun performance from so many different members of the team. But, in good news, my nephew was still watching the action, still looking for a ball to call his own. So I wasn't converted to baseball fandom. I'm convinced no sport whips its devotees into misery more easily. But the kid? He might have been hooked. We'll be back next season, and maybe even tomorrow, when the Isotopes finish their home schedule with a 6:35 game.


Second Draft

The Albuquerque Isotopes won all parts of their second-to-last home game last night, until the inning that mattered the most. When the game began, the day was hot, and the crowd was feeling great, cheering the team on. As night wore on, it began to smell of rain, but the 'Topes were still up. It wouldn't last.

Things got off to a great start after the Isotopes held the Iowa Cubs to a scoreless first half of the first inning. Rafael Furcal, on loan from the Dodgers, got the scoring started with a great hit that should have been only a double, but thanks to a misread by the I-Cubs outfield, turned into a triple, putting him in scoring position.

The Cubs answered back in the second inning, but that was the only time it was close: Albuquerque led (or was tied) at every point in the game, until the ninth. The 'Topes blasted four runs in the second inning, three of them after a controversial double play was recalled.

In the third inning, the Cubs still played victim and didn't score a single run, but John Lindsey hit a monster double that looked like it was going to sail over the back wall, but dropped just short.

The massacre slowed a bit in the fourth inning, when the 'Topes scored only one run, but by that point it was 9-1, good guys on top. The Cubs started their comeback in the fifth inning, scoring two runs, but the teams traded runs after that point, the 'Topes scoring three in the sixth, and the I-Cubs doing the same in the seventh.

While the crowd was enjoying the baseball tradition of Neil Diamond's singing, and cheering on the various chiles in their race (green won after an early in the course collusion took down the rest of the field), things were starting to turn sour for the former Dukes.

In the ninth inning, the Isotopes gave the game away. Allowing nine runs, the crowd turned from its playful, celebratory mood to curses and repeated calls to remove the pitcher, or improve the defense; anything to stem the bloodletting. As more and more fans got up and abandoned the hope of a rally, fans started to talk about the season's home closer, taking place tonight at 6:35 PM. With playoff hopes seemingly firmly out of grasp, the focus at the game will, hopefully, be more relaxed, and the 'Topes will be able to say goodbye to Albuquerque for the year on a positive note.


You can find the final draft here on the Alibi's website.

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