Published Thursday, July 3, 2008 | 10:56 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008 | 10:15 a.m.
Remember the old TV jingle "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet?"
That sounds like the makings of a promising Fourth of July weekend. But with gas going for $4.25 a gallon, the Chevy had better be an old Chevette. Or better yet, a camel.
I didn't see too many Chevettes parked at Cashman Field tonight. Or camels. There wasn't any apple pie, either. By the third inning it had morphed into molten apple sauce thanks to the 107-degree game-time temperature. The 12-mph wind blowing out toward center field made it seem a little cooler, though. I think the wind chill was 105.
But there was baseball and there were hot dogs and, more importantly, there were fireworks, which more than offset the paucity of fuel-efficient Chevys in the full parking lots. Plus, there was cold beer. For a buck.
I was checking in at the press gate when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was attached to the arm of 51s president Don Logan.
"This is ugly," Logan said of the huge crowd.
Yeah, as ugly as Salma Hayek. As ugly as the Cubs vs. Mariners on Big League Weekend.
By the top of the third, the line to get a beer and the line to use the restroom had sort of merged into one. It looked like the Conga line at Muriel's wedding.
By then, Jason Schmidt, the 51s' starting pitcher on loan from the Dodgers, had suffered a meltdown. It wasn't because the home plate umpire was squeezing the strike zone. Or because it was hot. It might have been because his shoulder still hurts. Or it might have been because every other pitch he threw wound up about 375 feet away from home plate.
On June 6, 2006, Schmidt struck out 16 Florida Marlins while pitching for the San Francisco Giants. On July 3, 2008, he didn't strike out a single Salt Lake Bee.
That's baseball. And shoulder injuries.
July 4 Special Section
Nick Adenhart, the Salt Lake pitcher, allowed just one hit through five innings. Then he, too, was a victimized by the heat. The 51s started turning his pitches into heat-seeking missiles that crashed to earth on the other side of the wall in center field.
The 51s scored six runs in the sixth inning. But the Bees scored three in the ninth to win 9-6. The sellout crowd of 11,599 didn't seem to mind. It didn't want extra innings. It wanted fireworks.
Players swung for the fences, missed the cutoff man, threw seeds, hit frozen ropes. (But not enough to where the mister system in the grandstand behind home plate was no longer needed.)
Fans drank beer.
Guys in the on-deck circles checked out chicks in halter tops. Guys in the bullpen pretended they were interested. Somebody yelled "Let's Turn Two!"
Fans drank more beer.
It was baseball.
There were hot dogs.
And did I mention the beer?
Afterward, there were fireworks. Red, white, BOOM!
No, it wasn't quite the Fourth of July in America. It was only the Third of July.
But it was close enough.