Inside Sports for Wednesday — April 05, 2006

Sunday signaled the opening of what every baseball fan on the island wanted to see — the start of the Major League Baseball season.

Although there were no Kauaians on the opening day lineups on any of the 30 teams, Koloa’s Tyler Yates waits in the wings in the minor leagues of the Baltimore Orioles.

Yates, who recently got married on the island, has seen the ups and downs of what an MLB career has to offer. After suffering an injury at the start of the season for the New York Mets, Yates recovered and was ready to suit up for the 1986 World Series champs, but instead, the 1995 Kaua‘i High School graduate was picked up by the Orioles and se nt to their minor league camp on April 2.

According to MLB officials, Yates has had a strong beginning to the season at Triple-A, which could have him in contention for a big league bullpen job.

So the future looks good for Kaua‘i’s only major league prospect this season. Baseball has always been a favorite of mine and I can remember the first game I attended, which was the Atlanta Braves against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.

All I remember though was that I was freezing like a day-old popsicle. Tom Glavine was on the mound and at that time, Barry Bonds was still at “normal” size, but he still managed to plunk a homerun in that contest. However, the Braves pulled out the win, thanks to Ron Gant’s late game heroics.

After that, the next MLB encounter came via my college excursions. While in Iowa, I went to a Kansas City Royals game at Kauffman Stadium.

And what a nice venue it turned out to be. After the Royals came back thanks to Johnny Damon’s two-out RBI single in the ninth, which handed Kansas City the victory, the stadium erupted with huge aerial fireworks, which lit up the sky.

But the fountains past the outfield fence were by far, my favorite spectacle.

Then it was off to Seattle for a slew of Mariners games, which at the time, were amazing times for the northwest squad, who tied the record for most regular season wins (116 games) with the ‘06 Chicago Cubs while in the area (Thanks, Todd, for the stats).

But as most Mariners fans know, that year was a special treat, because ever since then, Seattle has been spectacular, winning nearly 116 games in three seasons.

So although you may think that Seattle is the team that I root for, well, it’s not true.

However, I do watch them closely and I do keep track on their progress, even though it may be anything but steady.

My favorite MLB team is the New York Mets. Why? Well, for one it’s because of Hawai‘i’s Sid Fernandez, whom I enjoyed watching, back when I was a just a youngster.

And my love for the Mets was even stronger when another Hawai‘i-born player by the name of Benny Agbayani became a Met as well.

Favorite teams matriculate from many reasons and whether it’s because you like their colors, their uniforms, or even a certain player, it’s just a matter of sticking with your team and that’s really what makes the sport a special one, so can you say, “Take me out to the ballgame,” once again!

Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or kauaisports@kauaipubco.com.

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