Cardinals @ Pirates August 20 Free Pick


The guys playing in Williamsport tonight won’t need birth certificates.

In a partnership between Little League International, Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association, the Pirates will host the Cardinals in a special 7 pm edition of Sunday Night Baseball deemed the Little League Classic.

Big leaguers will be at the Little League complex during the day, taking in some action, which includes Japan vs. South Korea, and the Little Leaguers and their families are invited to attend the Major League-first at Bowman Field later this evening. We’ll be betting on it.

Free Pick

No tickets will be available to the public for tonight’s game because BB&T Ballpark at Bowman Field only holds 2,366 spectators. Tickets will be issued out to the kids, their guests and a select list of others.

The ballpark opened over 90 years ago, in April of 1926, which makes it the second-oldest operating minor league stadium in the country behind Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. It has served to Class-A affiliates of the Tigers, Pirates and most recently the Philadelphia Phillies, as well as some colleges.

The small crowd atmosphere will make tonight’s matchup unique; the dimensions are also different than PNC Park’s. Bowman Field was built much bigger than any of today’s big league parks, with a wall in center field 450 feet away, 367 down the right field line and 400 down the left. They brought the fences in just eight years after creation after just 10 balls left the yard for home runs. It is still more spacious than PNC and most Major League Stadiums, 405 to center and 345 and 350 to left and right, respectively.

That plays into the hands of both starting pitchers tonight, who pitch to a lot of contact. Both Mike Leake and Ivan Nova throw a lot of strikes but neither record many strikeouts. Leake has 97 in 144 innings while Nova has 98 in 155; they both rely on weak contact and turning fly balls into outs. The slightly more spacious outfield at Bowman will aid that mission.

Then there’s the funny lead up many of the position players will have before the game. Expect guys like Andrew McCutchen and Matt Carpenter to be at the complex, hanging out before the game tonight. That will be fun for the kids but it will take a lot of the regulars out of their pre-game routines. Neither manager will allow the starting pitcher out to jazz with the 12-year-olds before their start so they might be the only ones who feel like it’s a normal regular season game that counts like all the others. That’s why I’m leaning toward the under.

Free Pick: Under 9.5 (-115)

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