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We have a confession to make: Baseball is not our only sport. We here at No Rhubarb! are borderline maniacal fans of several teams, from the Seahawks in football to the Sonics of the NBA – we would at least miss them anyway – to the Canucks of hockey, our fandom choices are fairly typical for our are and age range. When we lived away from the Pacific Northwest, we still proudly supported our teams, but nobody really commented when we would wear team paraphernalia.

There is one team though, that is always noticed, and almost as often mentioned. We are fans of Arsenal of the English Premier League. Football to 99.9% of the world, soccer to those around here. Probably because European football is a cult sport here in America, whenever we venture out sporting Arsenal's ultra-cool crest, somebody has to mention it. Japanese tourist guy at Pike Place Market? Thumbs up! Guy on the train, he's a Liverpool fan. Don't know his name, he's “Liverpool Guy”. Just today at the restaurant, guy sporting a Chelsea shirt. Is Lampard leaving the Blues?

So, just where are we going with all this? We were working on an Arsenal post, to complain about Thierry Henry leaving for Barcelona. We stumbled upon this brilliant YouTube collection (which should explain just why we Americans are so wrong about the beautiful game) and while marveling at M. Henry's goals we kept noticing something.

Just what the hell is that green thing? Oh Lord... Arsenal has a mascot? That can't be. This is a team with 120-plus years of history, a member of the G-14, a group of the most powerful professional franchises in the world, a team with fans across the world. This is the only team to finish undefeated in the history of the Premiership. This team has a freakin' mascot? A Goddamn dinosaur?

Presented without further comment: The Gunnersaurus Rex.

Photo Courtesy of Yahoo UK

Okay, one little comment further: We die inside just a little bit every time we see this.

The modern-day Pacific Coast League is a massive enterprise consisting of 16 teams stretching from Tacoma and Portland in the Pacific Northwest to New Orleans of the Deep South. These are the teams our hometown nine will face throughout the long season. You must know the enemy!

The Team: Oklahoma RedHawks

The City: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Affiliation: Texas Rangers

The Website:

The Ballpark: AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. Awkward name, gorgeous park. Built in 1999, the Bricktown is considered one of the best Triple-A ballparks. Home to the Big 12 baseball championship and the yearly “Bricktown Showdown” match-up between the PCL and International League champs, this park is part of the revitalization of it's namesake district.

The History: Oklahoma City was home to the Indians, an on-again, off-again member of the Texas League until the Oklahoma City 89ers were born in 1962 to coincide with major league expansion. In 1999, the team moved to the Bricktown, changed names and became affiliated with nearby Texas Rangers.

The Name: Yeah, 89ers is much better than RedHawks (yes, that is the correct capitalization), one of those nouveau 90's names that colleges made up to replace “Indians” and “Redmen.”

The Prospects: Not much. The Rangers are an awful team and the RedHawks have become a haven for nearly-were prospects like Ramon Vasquez and Desi Relaford, both former Rainiers and Mariners.

The Scheduling Quirk: Due to the PCL's scheduling plans – some teams don't play home and homes – the Rainiers will be playing in OKC, but the RedHawks will not be seen in Tacoma until 2008

Be Wary Tacoma

The Zooperstars are in town on Sunday. Be afraid...

The Rainiers took won their third in a row against the struggling Tucson Sidewinders and – wonder of wonders – won a series for the first time since April. What was a tight ballgame tied at one through the fourth turned into a laugher as Tacoma scored at least one run each of the final five innings. Rob Johnson was the hitting star for Tacoma, pounding three doubles and scoring three times. Our Favorite Rainier returned to the line-up after missing the previous three after running into the outfield wall in Sacramento.

The Rainiers return home tonight to face Portland. The Beavers are coming off an ugly sweep in Colorado Springs (sound familiar?) and sit just two games ahead of Tacoma in the PCL Pacific North. Now would be the perfect time to pull out of the cellar.


Meet the New Guy

C.R. Roberts from the TNT has a quick Q and A with Aaron Artman, new president of the Rainiers. It's nothing earth-shattering, but it shouldn't be missed.

The modern-day Pacific Coast League is a massive enterprise consisting of 16 teams stretching from Tacoma and Portland in the Pacific Northwest to New Orleans of the Deep South. These are the teams our hometown nine will face throughout the long season. You must know the enemy!

The Team: New Orleans Zephyrs

The City: Metairie, Louisiana

The Affiliation: New York Mets

The Website:

The Ballpark: Zephyr Field. Built in 1997, the “Shrine on Airline” (yes, the dumbest nickname for a stadium we can recall), appears to be the minor league equivalent of New Comiskey in Chicago: new, shiny and pretty close to soulless. As with most newer minor league stadiums, Zephyr Field features outfield berm seating, the unfortunately named “Da Levee”. In 2005, Zephyr Field was used as FEMA staging area following Hurricane Katrina. Thankfully for New Orleans baseball fans, FEMA managed not to burn the stadium down.

The History: The New Orleans Pelicans were a longtime member of the old Southern Association; one of the crown jewels of Deep South baseball along with such franchises as the Atlanta Crackers, Little Rock Travelers and Nashville Volunteers. The SA collapsed in 1961, either unwilling or simply unable to integrate. In 1977 a new version of the Pelicans played one season in the Superdome, but a lousy stadium lease forced the team to relocate to Springfield, Missouri. In 1993, baseball returned to the Crescent City after the Denver Zephyrs were forced out by the expansion Colorado Rockies.

The Name: After decades as the Bears, the Denver franchise switched to Zephyrs in 1985. The name went with them to New Orleans, missing an opportunity to reclaim a great baseball name and look.

The Prospects: The Zephyrs feature two of the parent Mets' best pitching prospects in Phillip Humber and Mike Pelfrey. In addition, the talented-but-somewhat flakey Lastings Milledge and former Rainier and Mariner Clint Nagoette are on the New Orleans disabled list.

Did You Know? The Zephyrs are the only team in organized baseball with a "Z" on the cap?

Did You Care? Us neither.

For the second game in a row, the Rainiers got a last-inning (this time the 10th) homer to win. After Tuscon evened up the game at four with two in the eight, Wladimir Balentien hit his 17th in the 10th to put the Rainiers ahead. Julio Mateo redeemed his earlier mistake and picked up the win in relief.

The Rainiers go for a much-needed series win Tuesday night at 7:00.



The Week That Was: Another down week for the Rainiers. Tacoma went an ugly 2-4, and lost Our Favorite Rainier for the weekend after he injured his hand running into an outfield wall. After winning the final game over Tucson to finish a short homestand on an up note, the Rainiers ran into the buzzsaw that is the Sacramento River Cats. The Cats took three out of four as the Rainiers remained deep in the cellar, stuck at 10 games behind Pacific North co-leaders Salt Lake and Colorado Springs.

On Deck: Two more in Tucson to end the road trip and the Rainiers head back home to entertain the Portland Beavers and the aforementioned Bees. The Rainiers added a very interesting name to the bullpen over the weekend, 2007 Mariner draftee Brodie Downs. At 27, Downs is the oldest player Seattle drafted this year. He quit baseball after high school to work as a surveyor until returning to pitch one season with Modesto CC. Live the dream Brodie.

We have been shamefully ignoring the hometown nine this weekend, lost in the return of Junior to Seattle. Sunday's game though, that looks like something we would have enjoyed. Tucson jumped out to an early lead, Tacoma came back, Tucson stretched it out again until the seventh. The Rainiers eventually won on Rob Johnson's ninth inning solo homer.

It might not have been the prettiest game, but it sure was fun. Same two teams tomorrow night in Tucson, 7:00 first pitch.


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