Almost three years ago, I drove to Las Vegas from Reno for the first time.
I made my way south for a Reed-Bishop Gorman state football title game. It was about halfway through that trip I promised myself, ‘I’m never doing this again.’ I flew home.
I made another trip a year later for a friend’s bachelor party. I flew.
This weekend, I made a mistake. I drove to Las Vegas.
I can list several reasons why the trip is so painful – the eerie little towns you have to drive through, the lack of scenery, the length (seven hours if you’re moving), etc.
But worst of all, when I drove down Thursday night, there was a pretty big basketball game going on. Fortunately, my girlfriend had service most of the way (yay AT&T) and was able to get updates. The radio was useless.
When it was clear Cleveland would win and force a game 7, I was pleased. That’s probably not a popular opinion in a market filled with Bay Area sports fans, but I don’t even have a basketball team anymore (RIP SuperSonics, gone but not forgotten), so I root for the story. And there’s no better story in sports than game 7.
‘Yes, I get to watch now,’ I thought to myself.
Then I found out when game 7 tipped: Sunday at 5 p.m.
We packed up and headed to Reno at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. I once again followed the game via AT&T.
“I’m never doing this again,” I said. Again.
Shipley likes throwing the baseball in Reno
Former Nevada stud Braden Shipley, 24, has spent the late spring/early summer pitching for the Aces, his first season at the Triple-A level.
The Pacific Coast League is not a pitcher-friendly league – at all. Numerous high elevation parks and big bats are to blame for bloated ERAs and lopsided final scores (in Reno’s trip to Las Vegas last week, it won two games by a combined score of 30-17).
Shipley has not been phased – at all.
One of the Diamondbacks best prospects has posted a 6-3 record with a 3.09 ERA over 90.2 innings. He leads the team in wins, innings, strikeouts (59) and starts (14).
He would have an even better record (somewhere in the range of 9-3) if not for a few brutal no decisions.
His best stat, however, is his walk total – 12. He has not been afraid by the talented hitters or the high elevation and has consistently attacked the zone. It is why the Diamondbacks suddenly have a tough situation.
Arizona presumably wanted to let the 24-year-old spend the season in Reno and continue to grow into a professional pitcher. But if Shipley continues to dominate the circuit, Arizona won’t really have a decision to make – at all.
It’ll be onto the show.
O’Brien boom or bust with big club thus far
Tony La Russa and the Diamondbacks had no choice but to give Peter O’Brien a shot.
O’Brien led the Pacific Coast League with 17 home runs, had 52 RBIs and was hitting for average (.330). Last week, the Diamondbacks finally made their move. O’Brien was granted his first real shot at becoming an every day player in the major leagues.
In his first start, he went 0-for-4 with a trio of strikeouts. He got a batting average last Sunday, blasting a three-run shot in the bottom of the first in a 6-0 win over the Marlins.
The bomb remained his only knock of the season and he fell to 1-for-15 in his first chance to truly prove himself. Then on Friday, the O’Brien that Aces fans are familiar with made an appearance. The 25-year-old Florida native and New York Yankee draftee went 2-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs in a 10-2 rout of the Phillies.
O’Brien will obviously have to improve upon his .138 batting average, but it appears the Diamondbacks are going to let him work through the early struggles, minus the three long balls.
His ability to drive the ball out of the park (he went 4-for-10 with a home run in a stint last year) shows he as the capability of being an impact player at the next level. Now it’s just about piecing it together.
Nathan can also be reached via email at nshoup@dailysparkstribune. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning.