GEORGIA ON MY MIND
First-ever trip into Gwinnett and they have made a good first impression. Staying at a beautiful, brand new Courtyard Marriott. Just opened a couple of months ago. Very modern and very clean looking. There are several eating options within walking distance from the hotel. Being a creature of habit, I indulged in the tuna sub from Subway for about the millionth time this season. (Jared and Michael Phelps know what they’re talking about) A short van ride courtesy of the hotel and we got our first glimpse of Gwinnett Stadium. Despite the fact it was built in about 9 months, it looks to be a very nice park. Our radio booth is comfortable with nice adjustable height stools. (Greatly under-rated for broadcasters) There does seem to be such a thing as Southern hospitality. The folks down here have been very accomodating. This place and the new yard in Columbus are clearly upgrades from old Cooper Stadium and the Diamond. We rolled into the parking lot at about 3:30 a.m. after driving down from Charlotte. Lots of tired looking personnel. We stopped once at a convenience store, about halfway. It never ceases to amaze me. The same type of store that you’d drive by a hundred times a day without blinking an eye, has this magic hold over the travelling entourage. Guys walk thoughtfully, up and down the aisles, deciding on their late-night snack. Some guys go healthy, some obviously don’t care. The guy that makes me laugh the most is our beloved manager. Ron Johnson shops a mini-mart as though it were Christmas Eve and he had forgotten to do his holiday shopping. I can imagine what a caveman might do if he were plopped right into the middle of Macys’. RJ likes to stock up his room with goodies. Incidentally, I went with some Teriyaki Beef Jerky and a bag of Planters Cajun Snack Mix. Not 100% healthy, but sometimes ya gotta eat.
Transactions today included the release of righthander Rocky Cherry. Rocky had been a mainstay in the PawSox bullpen, going 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA. Sometimes it’s just a numbers game. The gentlemanly Texan is certain to catch on with another organization. Also the Red Sox optioned Jeff Bailey to Pawtucket. To make room for the I.L. 2008 MVP, Jeff Natale was placed on the disabled list.
Charlie Zink is pitching for the PawSox on Friday. Zink is no stranger to the state of Georgia. He played his college ball at the Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD). At SCAD, he pitched for head coach Luis Tiant. According to Zink, the team would take a half hour flight rather than a three hour bus ride to the Atlanta area for games. He said “El Tiante” liked the shorter trip. Tiant also saw to it that the team stayed at the areas’ best hotels. Zink recalled a night at the Marriott Marquis when the Phillies were in town to play the Braves. Philly was then managed by Terry Francona. Tiant introduced the young pitcher to Tito. Small world! Several years later, the Red Sox brought Zink to Georgia to pitch in an exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves.