Bound for Mobile

The 2005 AA-Southern League All-Star Game is set for Wednesday night in Mobile, Ala., but the festivities kick into high gear on Tuesday afternoon. That's when the traditional all-star gala takes place, where members of the media get a golden opportunity to meet the stars of the league and present whatever questions they wish. And of course, I have plenty to ask.

For starters, there's always the usual cream pops ("How honored are you to be here?"). Then come the slightly more straight to the point questions ("Do you feel a .228 average is really worthy of all-star status?").

And my favorite yet: "Just where will the Diamond Jaxx be playing next year, Jeff Parker?"

Other Tuesday night events include the league's home run derby, and a high school home run derby. Fans can actually pay $5 to watch the major league all-star game at the ballpark.

This year's all-star festivities will be held once again in southern Alabama at Hank Aaron Stadium. It's actually the third time in nine years that Mobile has hosted the event. Those we know for certain that will be on hand representing the Cubs' Double-A affiliate, in uniform, will be P's Ricky Nolasco and Andrew Shipman, SS Buck Coats and 3B Casey McGehee. Also on hand will be top-rated prospects like Tampa Bay's Delmon Young, Having met all of the current West Tenn all-stars in the past via telephone interviews, I think I have a good idea of what to expect. The players won't exactly be too hard to identify, either. In addition to their many photos found at Inside The Ivy, each player will be wearing the jersey of his respective major league club.

There's also going to be an appearance by Hammerin' Hank himself, who will throw out the game's first pitch. A country music band called "Trick Pony" will perform live after the game and of course sing the national anthem and seventh inning stretch.

These events were extremely fortunate to go on as planned, however. For days, weather forecasters predicted Hurricane Dennis, at one point a Category 4 storm, could hit Mobile head on. Instead, it missed and went toward neighboring Florida's Pensacola Beach.

Living in New Orleans, a city always alert to everything storm-related, I've had more than my fair share of hurricane preparations over the past year. After all, it's only a three-hour drive from the city to Mobile. As such, in preparation for the trip, I've made sure to load up on all of my old Willie Nelson albums for the ride over.

It should be a fun couple of days, not only for the all-star players, but for those assigned to cover the events as well.

"It's that time of year when it's going to be nice to have that little break," McGehee said.

"I'm pretty hyped up about it, man. It's a great honor to be able to play amongst the best. I was surprised that I got picked, because there are a lot of good ballplayers in this league. I'm just thankful that I'm one of them.," Coats added.

Northsiders Report Top Stories