After two-year delay, Dogs ready to host All-Star Game in Rosemont
The beginning of Tuesday's American Association All-Star Game at Rosemont's Impact Field might be a little confusing.
The East Division stars include five position player starters from the Milwaukee Milkmen. So the Milkmen must be having a great season, right?
Well actually, it's the host team, the Chicago Dogs, who sit in first place in the East with a 33-17 record heading into Saturday's action. The Kane County Cougars are second at 27-24, followed by the Milkmen in third.
"Yeah, it's interesting," Dogs All-Star reserve Ryan Lidge said. "The starters got voted in by the head coaches and maybe a couple other people. I know everyone on our team will take first place and an East Division championship over just a little All-Star Game."
Including reserves, the Dogs will have seven All-Stars: Lidge at catcher, infielder K.C. Hobson, infielder Grant Kay, outfielder Danny Mars and pitchers Ryan Clark, James Reeves and Paul Schwendel.
The Cougars have two All-Star starters -- third baseman Dylan Busby and outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan, plus pitchers Ryan Tapani and Logan Nissen.
Rosemont was originally scheduled to host the All-Star Game in 2020, but it was canceled, along with everything else that summer. Festivities include a home run derby Monday, followed by the game itself at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"This is the first All-Star Game in a couple years, so there's some hype around it," Lidge said. "Overall, the crowds this year have been fantastic."
Lidge is a Barrington High School grad who played in college at Notre Dame, spent three years in the Yankees system and is now in his third season with the Dogs. He's hitting .359 with 6 home runs.
A year ago, Lidge said the Dogs experience was the most fun he'd ever had playing baseball, but now this season has topped it, in part because they were able to bring back most of the regulars.
"We were friends already. We know we can be really successful," he said. "Just going out there with your nine best friends, it really doesn't get much better than that."
According to the league, the Cougars and Dogs rank first and second in attendance in the American Association. The Geneva-based Cougars are averaging 4.826, with the Dogs at 3,840.
Lidge mentioned a home game against Milwaukee on July 2 that drew an announced crowd of 6,450 to Rosemont.
"It was the most electric crowd that I think Impact Field has had," he said. "They were in the game the whole time. We were down in the ninth inning, we ended up coming back and a ton of that has to do with how the crowd was into it. It fires us up, makes the other team a little bit nervous.
"I've never really won a championship before, like a big one. So that's been my goal from Day 1 here with the Dogs is try to win the whole thing. Especially with the group of guys we have. These are some of my best friends, I'm going to be talking to them for the rest of my life."