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MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL FEVER
Celebrate with the Snakes at Hertz Field
From Birthdays to Bar Mitzvahs!
JERSEY CITY, NJ - The 2006 Jersey City Snakes' motto is "We're making hissssstory!" And on Opening Day Thursday they did just that, losing to the Aberdeen Ironbirds, 35-2.
The season started on a positive note as perennial crowd favorite 99-year-old "Number One Fan" Gibby Smoot threw an impressive strike across the plate for the ceremonial first pitch.
The fired-up Snakes stormed onto the field and quickly opened up a 2-0 lead over the Ironbirds. Leadoff man Rickey Westbrook doubled to left and Ladell Pitts followed with a bloop single. This set the stage for Billy Ray Mix who scorched a triple down the first base line scoring Westbrook and Pitts.
"I think its important to stay positive," said manager Kenny Quasebarth. "We did some good things in that first inning."
But then began the grim death march. When it was all over, the Snakes had lost by the staggering score of 35-2.
35 unanswered Ironbird runs - 25 of which came in what can only be described as a traumatic sixth inning - left the dejected Snake fans shaking their heads.
"I thought it was a football score at first," said longtime Snakes fan Mike Wentley. "Kind of wipes out last years victory over these guys, doesn't it?"
Indeed, the Snakes 10-1 victory over these same Ironbirds late last season seemed a dim memory by the halfway mark.
"I didn't think we were going to get out of that sixth inning, man," said outfielder Benny Tugg.
Fans agreed. Midway through the sixth, a deafening chant of "We want Gibby!" erupted from the disheartened fans. In response, Gibby Smoot stepped onto the field and began to walk toward the pitcher's mound.
Smoot was quickly restrained by Quasebarth as fans booed.
"It felt weird pulling a 99-year-old man to the ground, but what was I supposed to do? Let him pitch?"
Many of the remaining fans might have said yes.
Amazingly, the lackluster showing by these new look Snakes was only the second worst smelling thing at Hertz Field Thursday. The mystery smell that has plagued the stadium continued to emanate from center field.
Just prior to the game, Dash Crofts, on deck to sing the National Anthem, provided one of the afternoon's most ironic moments. The former member of the '70's supergroup Seals and Crofts performed the hit song "Summer Breeze" as a stiff wind blew the festering stench across the bleachers of gagging fans.
August ought to be a lot of fun around here' said outfielder Dave Long with his nose tucked under his mitt. "Seriously man, what in the h-ll is that?"
The Snakes take on the Brooklyn Cyclones this Saturday for Fireworks Night. Fans should note that the game, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. has been rescheduled for 1 p.m.
- Dave Stern
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