The Syracuse Chiefs were thankful that the last Saturday in April went to the dogs.
Our Triple-A baseball team has been having one heck of a time with the spring weather so far this season, general manager Jason Smorol pointed out several times with the microphone in his hand during the pregame pooch parade at NBT Bank Stadium.
For the first of two Dog at the Park games this season, though, Mother Nature smiled: Sunny and 65.
Ellie B was happy to jump out of the car in the North Side parking lot, just a couple of miles down the road from the Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood. She seemed to know where she was from our last visit for baseball as my dear wife Karen kept her on a grassy spot and I scurried to the box office to purchase two adult and one doggie ticket in the special sections set off on the first-base side. (Total price, a reasonable $27.)
Inside the right-field game the Chiefs’ staff, including our good friends Kathleen and Julie, had set aside a dog-friendly park that included big, blue pools, for drinking or bathing. Ellie B drank.
On the walk up the ramp to the stands, our beloved rescue mutt had to take a moment to investigate in the manner in which she knows best. Nosy girl.
Section 209, seats 3, 4 and 5 seemed to please aka Dogamous Pyle just fine. She initially settled in below our feet. A few minutes later, she indeed jumped up to sit in her seat, to my right. It was a bit tight when I came back from the concession stands with two soft pretzels and one draft beer for the two of us. Note two, not three. We’d planned ahead with a reusable wonton soup container to fill from the fountain for Ellie B’s drinking needs. She spilled that, and, oh, a third of the beer, with her jumping and jostling as more dogs and owners arrived around us.
The Chiefs gave out a doggie bag at the gate, too.
Well, a clear plastic bag, anyway, stuffed with a pretty cool present for each canine. At least we decided the scarf was designed for our dog. Karen caught the fashion with her iPhone 6.
Oh, yes, we liked our seats, too.
Kathleen, the director of tickets sales, spotted us and came over. In minor-league baseball, front-office staff wears many hats. She was in charge of gathering guests for the pooch parade, and invited Ellie B by name. Over we walked with her on the in-stands concourse, toward the third-base side, to join the line.
Hover over any gallery photo for a description. Click on any photo for an enlarged slide show.
I talked to the guy in front of me as the line built up. The dogs, big and small, talked to each other, too, it seemed to me. Fortunately, Ellie B seemed to get along with the big black dog in front of her, even when he tried to investigate her under parts, which the vet closed for business the day before she rescued us. I gave a small tug on her leash and a “hey,” and he backed off. His owner was cool about it all, too.
They wound us down the third-base line so Smorol and the Time Warner Cable weather woman and her dog enlisted for the big day could comment on each participant in this “Chiefsminter Dog Show” — thanks for that one, Jason. When our turn came, Jason remembered me, and asked “our friend Mark” what type of dog we had here. “Polish chow hound,” I answered. The delay over the park PA system was kind of odd, but I enjoyed the GM’s riff after that, including his bit about chopping the “ski” off his family name. Who knew?!
Ellie B lasted a good hour back in our seats, and we enjoyed the pleasant afternoon.
We spent the first few innings in our assigned seats, just in the shade provided by the overhang of the upper deck.
After a brief growling moment with the little dog seated behind us, who briefly considered crawling under the seats and into the space of Dogamous Pyle, we moved one row down and into the sun. That was the beginning of our end.
The stadium looked great in all angles, I thought.
Much has been made of the closing of several sections above on each side of the stadium, reducing capacity to about 11,000. It made no difference on this day. The complainers I’ve heard so far this season on local sports talk radio, who don’t want to be told they can’t sit in far left or right field … Get a grip. I’m hoping a stretch of games will come where this new setup will be full of fans making noise and enjoying baseball. It would sure beat that same number with 4,000 or so empty seats between them. My opinion.
The Chiefs were leading 2-0 when we departed, and we got to see a pretty homer to right field by first baseman Matt Skole and tidy starting pitching by Austin Voth.
They went on to win 5-0 and move into sole possession of first place in their division. Winners are nice for the hometown, indeed.
Where have you taken your dog lately, and how did it turn out? What’s your favorite baseball team? Which is your favorite photo, and why?