The Omaha Royals are mired in kind of a rough patch these days. That’ll happen when two of your hot pitching prospects (Carlos Rosa and Dusty Hughes) are hurting and held to pitch counts, your outfield is depleted by injuries and callups, and Josh Labandeira plays every day. Yeah, losses will happen when the bullpen has to work that much and the lineup doesn’t have replacement bats for the likes of Mitch Maier, Shane Costa (who is likely done for the season), and even Mike Stodolka (whose hand is apparently still bothering him). I think we just have to grit our teeth and bear this rough patch until Rosa and Hughes are healthy enough to pitch more than an inning or two at a time. At least we have Kila Kaaihue to cheer us up.
Since there’s not much more I can say about the ORoyals’ current struggles, I’ll just share a story from the dugout yesterday, featuring that day’s birthday boy, Roman Colon:
One of our daily between-innings promotions is the water-balloon toss, where one child tosses water balloons and another tries, often with limited success, to catch them in a batting helmet with a pasta strainer on top. After yesterday’s contest, we had two unpopped balloons, which I mindlessly tossed to one of our mascots.
In the next half-inning, I heard a “Hey Minda!” from the dugout, so I turned to see a frightening sight: a grinning Roman Colon holding one of the balloons. Oh no, how did he get that? I made a mental note to slap whichever mascot had put a water balloon in such dangerous hands.
Luckily I had an errand to run in the other part of the stadium, so I quickly spirited myself out of Colon’s launching range, and the crisis was averted until the next inning. I was sitting on the stairs next to the dugout preparing for the next promotion. In front of me and a few feet to my left was Bob, the guy who films the Omaha players for Kansas City. He has a camera and a laptop set up in the camera well, and normally we’re able to stay out of each other’s way. So when a little yellow water balloon came sailing out of the dugout towards me, I had to weigh the possibility of ruining Bob’s equipment against the possibility of getting soaked. I didn’t have much time to decide, but I was able to swat the balloon away and it popped harmlessly in an empty corner of the camera well.
But then….Colon had another balloon. I made another mental note re: punishing the appropriate mascot, because Colon is a mischievous fellow, and for him to have anything to throw at me is always a terrifying prospect. He tossed the second balloon much higher than the first, and this time I was standing, and much closer to that laptop and camera. OK here comes the balloon ah crap I don’t want to get soaked oh but Bob would kill me if I wrecked his stuff and holy crap this is bad bad BAD.
Then I caught the balloon in my bare hand. It did not pop.
BAM! With hands that soft, I should play middle infield. Sign me up!