baseball Edit

STULTZ: Ramblings from my old Kentucky home

I have a difficult relationship with the city of Lexington. Sure, I have many good memories of growing up and spending time there with my family, but in this century, something always seems to go wrong when I visit. For example, on two of the last three previous trips to this city, I found out that the company I was working for was laying me and a bunch of people off or shutting down completely. So if I am anxious whenever I get a text from Jay Tate right now, it’s because of that history. Oh, and I once got held up at gunpoint here, so that was fun.

So far, this trip has gone smoothly despite Auburn losing both games I covered. I’ve spent time with my parents and some longtime friends and have had some great food. Yet, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop before departing in 26 hours.

Auburn players pass time during rain delay.
Auburn players pass time during rain delay. (Auburn Athletics)

- For a ballpark that just opened in 2019, a lot is lacking from Kentucky Proud Park. First, there are gaps in the centerfield wall where a ball could easily slide through. The outfield wall looks like it has survived five floods (see picture below), and the food at the concession stand is not exactly top quality. Kentucky spent $49 million on this facility, and it has all the aesthetics of a hospital.

- You should be thankful if you don’t know what Fazoli’s is. It is an Italian fast-food spot started in Lexington, and let me say this: it is awful. I’m not sure why someone thinks Italian food you can pick up through a drive-thru window would be good, but here we are.

- There’s no easy way to say this, but the Tigers looked slightly lethargic in Game 1 on Friday afternoon. It might have been due to an absurdly small crowd or the aftereffect of the postponement of Thursday’s game, but the energy wasn’t there from the start.

- Speaking of delays, we will never know what would have happened had lightning not come through the area on Saturday, but Joseph Gonzalez had his good stuff going and likely would have been in the game at least two more innings. The weather messed with a possible Gonzalez victory for the second straight week.

- Kentucky’s park plays big, so much so that there were at least five or six balls hit during the series that I seriously thought were home runs only to be caught on or in front of the warning track.

- Maybe it comes from struggling at the plate or possibly due to Kentucky pitching around him, but for the first time this season, I saw Sonny DiChiara get a little upset after getting hit by a pitch on Friday. He definitely took that frustration out in the top of the 9th on Saturday, launching a missile that might have landed in another county.

Blake Rambusch warms up prior to Saturday's game.
Blake Rambusch warms up prior to Saturday's game. (Auburn Athletics)

- To waste time before the eventual postponement of Thursday's game, Auburn players played a game called Two Hands (or something like that) in the dugout that looked like a lot of fun. There's no way I wouldn't be the first one out, though.

- During Saturday’s delay, the PA system played nothing but songs relating to rain or thunderstorms and, wow, I didn’t know they could keep that up for an hour and a half, but they did. Who knew there were that many songs about the subject? The best one is "The Thunder Rolls" by world treasure Garth Brooks. This is not up for debate.

- One Kentucky fan in the lower deck was their version of Helmet Guy, but not as enthusiastic. Weirdly, I want them both to be in Hoover on Tuesday and go after each other. That would be fantastic.

- My father, a Kentucky alum, feels the same way about their new secondary logo that I do Auburn’s tiger eyes logo. Both are unnecessary and look ridiculous.

- Sometimes too much is too much. That was the case with sound effects and music playing between pitches. Don’t be afraid of silence or, you know, crowd noise.

- Thanks to all that sent or texted pictures of me sitting behind home plate in the sweltering heat on Friday afternoon. The things I do to please members of The Bunker are endless.

- I was supposed to play golf with a friend today, but his club didn’t have any left-handed clubs I could rent, which only makes me conclude that his club is anti-lefties. I would start a protest in front of the clubhouse, but I’m too lazy.

- It’s shocking that a call by the SEC offices in Birmingham would both hurt Auburn and benefit Alabama. (This is where I hold up my sarcasm sign.)

- Speaking of the Tide, imagine if Nick Saban brought in all those top recruiting classes but only won one national title? That is John Calipari right now, and it seems a lot of the Kentucky fan base is tiring of him, which, in all honesty, is both hilarious and amazing.

- Finally, Blake Rambusch belongs in the leadoff spot and should not be anywhere else in the lineup. That is just my opinion, but I’m confident I’m right.