MOOSIC, Pa. — Baseball can be cruel. The higher up you go in the minor-league baseball system, the closer you get to the brass ring: a chance to play in the majors. But any stay in the minors increases the odds you'll be subject to the gentle humiliation of having leprechaun facial hair photo-shopped onto your portrait.
Thursday was one of those nights for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. The RailRiders, composed of a team just one level below one of the most successful sports franchises on the planet, had to face off against not only the Charlotte Knights, but PNC Field's celebration of a twisted sort of Irish night, the marking of only one-half a year until St. Patrick's Day. This involved digitally dressing up the RailRiders' individual portraits on the Jumbotron with leprechaun costumes: red beards, green bowler hats, shamrocks.
Against a tough Charlotte team, and a manic Pinstripe Patrol spirit squad leading sing-alongs to the Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" (a favorite of the Yankees' arch rival Boston Red Sox), the RailRiders prevailed, 4-0.