Some, such as Indians outfielder Lyle Mouton, had bona fide gripes. Were there no Triple A World Series, the 31-year-old Mouton, with five years of major league experience, would have already been in Milwaukee as a late-season call-up, collecting a higher salary and adding days to his pension potential.
"Our guys play hard all year in front of 12,000 fans a game, and the reward is to fly out here and play in front of empty seats?" said Redbirds manager Gaylen Pitts. "It makes no sense. I think having this series in Vegas gives the team owners a chance to get together and have a vacation. Why else would it possibly be here?"
The idea, says Don Logan, the Las Vegas Stars' general manager and the event's organizer, is eventually to award the World Series to a different city each year. With a best-of-three, Friday-through-Sunday format, Logan thinks fans would give the series a shot. "But I'll be honest," he says. "Three years ago, I was confident this could work I'm still confident, but not at the same level. It's a tougher sell than I thought."
That was obvious during the fourth and final game, when most of the best seats in the house were occupied by tiny particles of dust. At one point Jonathan Andrews, Jose Castro and Darion Hayes, three 14-year-old friends with Richard Simmons enthusiasm and booming vocal chords, tried moving closer to the action. In a truly ludicrous moment, an usher told the youths there was no room.
"But there's nobody here," said Jose.
"Sorry, kid," said the usher. "These seats are reserved."
Some, happy or not, made the best of things. Although Indians shortstop Santiago Perez won the series MVP award after hitting .462 with two home runs, Gubanich admitted that his game-winning homer would go down as one of his finest memories. "There are no definites in baseball," he said, "so you take what you can get."
A Triple A game-winning home run? The 84-day big leaguer grinned ever so slightly. "I'll always take it," he said. "Always."