The last two or three weeks of the season, the team has given fans the impression that they weren't trying to win, as if they wanted to be headed home today. It's understandable but it's still disappointing for the fans.
The only real highlight of the week was a sweep of the Kane County Cougars. Even though the Bandits won all three of those games, two of them went to extra innings and they really had to struggle to win them. All three victories were come-from-behind. The real frustration for me is that the Burlington Bees lost the last seven games of the season and finished ahead of Quad Cities by two games. If the Bandits had won the last two games in Beloit, they would be headed for the post-season.
I'll be writing season recaps and selecting pitchers and players of the year soon so I won't steal my own thunder in this report. I just want to briefly touch on a few highlights of the season from a fan's point of view.
The River Bandits have been under our current ownership group for five full seasons now. This year was the best for attendance in those five years as just over 240,000 fans came to watch the team play. With a change in the General Manager's office there has been a much better attitude among the staff this year, too. Kudos to Stefanie Brown for her leadership in that role.
There were some new additions to the fan experience at Modern Woodmen Park, too, including great new between-the-innings games for kids and adults. My personal favorite was a "trash clean up" game where two fans were connected at the back by a long bungee cord between two recycling bins. They had to get the most trash into their own bin while preventing their opponent from getting trash into the other bin. The best addition to the concessions line up was a stand called the "Intentional Wok" serving Chinese food. I tried it this summer and it was very good!
After eating in the press box all summer, I feel that I should mention the businesses that provided food for us, too. Each year the Bandits get seven businesses to each take one night of the week to provide food for the press. We ate Chick-fil-A, Applebee's, Barrel House 211, Caddy's Sports Bar, Van's Pizza, Noodles and Company, and Incredible Pizza. Thanks to those businesses for taking good care of us all summer.
There were some fun promotions this year, too. Of course the World Series Replica Rings were the most popular, but there were others that received positive reviews, too. Fans were given door mats with home plate printed on them with block letters that read, "WELCOME HOME." Several nights featured bobblehead giveaways and there was a "Jason Motte Garden Gnome" night. Minor league baseball is always fun for the creative mind!
So, for now, we take a deep breath, remember the season that was and hope for more baseball next year. I'll be a little grumpy for a few weeks while I adjust to finding things that aren't baseball to fill my time. Good luck to the teams who are in their playoffs and to the fans who get to watch them.
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