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Punch Drunk

Jack's Hot Seat

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My first thought: The Richmond Flying Squirrels' Hot Stove charity dinner features Red Sox great Bill Buckner and former Flying Squirrel Daryl Maday?!

My second and third thoughts are: Who is Daryl Maday? And if he's a "former Flying Squirrel," does that mean he's moved up to the San Francisco Giants, or has he been relegated to the Broad Street Home Depots?

(Buckner deserves mention: 2,715 hits, .289 lifetime — near Hall of Fame numbers. Plus, even asshole Red Sox fans forgave him after the team finally won something.)

Fourth thought: Free open bar for media?

None of the above (excluding thought No. 4) would be among my reasons for attending the Hot Stove banquet. As this publication and a very visible outpouring of support from the community have shown, the Squirrels are a Richmond treasure and one of, if not the best, things that we have going for our city.

So it's agreed that we need our boys of summer to stick around the city awhile, or at least until I mistakenly have kids and serious responsibilities and can't piss away my summer afternoons drinking at minor league baseball games anymore.

Now let's focus on the spectacle that is the Hot Stove banquet. Some observations:

• Upon arrival, I notice an entire 20-foot poster devoted to Daryl Maday. Suddenly I feel bad for pre-writing the Daryl Maday joke above, but not bad enough to erase it.

• Bill Buckner signing autographs looks about as happy to be there as Bill Buckner having to explain his mishandling of a weak Mookie Wilson dribbler for the four-millionth time. Which is to say, not really all that happy. Sidenote: Bill Buckner has the best moustache in baseball. Magnum P.I.-esqe, one could say. Rollie Fingers and Keith Hernandez have nothing on Bill Buckner.

• Chuck Domino, the No. 2 man in the Squirrels organization, starts the evening off by reading a note from the managing partner of the Squirrels, Lou DiBella. Lou, who you may know from his critically declaimed cameo in "Rocky Balboa" aka "Rocky VI," makes it clear that the Squirrels will get a new stadium — just maybe not in Richmond. This begins an entire evening of baseball people delivering thinly veiled slaps to Richmond leaders and in particular, Mayor Dwight Jones (in attendance), for not (yet) delivering said stadium.

• Richmond political bungling and tomfoolery aside, the Squirrels, as always, put on a hell of a show. Play-by-play man Jon Laaser is superb in his role as host, and what can you say about vice president of operations and Squirrel frontman Todd "Parney" Parnell that hasn't already been said by every stripper and dive bartender in town?

The Hot Stove Banquet shows what we've seen from game one: These guys get it.

With 475 people in attendance and most, other than media freeloaders like Style Weekly's Jason Roop and CBS-6's Greg McQuade paying a pretty penny to be there, no expenses are spared and no one seems disappointed (except for Bill Buckner).

Let's hope the city and surrounding counties can move around some money from their offshore Cayman accounts and make this proposed $50 million stadium happen. Unfortunately, the logistics of such matters aren't for simpletons like you and me and elected City Council members to figure out. So we'll cross our fingers and leave that to other, more talented members of the community — or at least, the Ballpark Nutz advocacy group, which launches this week.

Snarkiness aside, the Hot Stove proves again that there are real baseball fans here in the capital city. People who genuinely care about the well-being of the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

I suppose we'll see if any of that matters in the near future.

Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback contributes to Mixology magazine in Germany and co-hosts with Melissa Chase weekdays from 6-9 on 103.7 The River's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack." On Twitter @Jackgoesforth and by email at bartender@styleweekly.com.

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