November 2009

The No-Tiger Zone

Happy Monday!

I hope you enjoyed the long weekend. I know I did, although I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that I am old. Used to be I could hammer a Thanksgiving lunch, be completely stuffed, then rebound like Hulk Hogan during one of his epic comebacks where he kept walking around shaking his arms, then eat a huge dinner mere hours later. No more. It was one lunch and done for me. Embarrassing, especially since I consider one of my crowning moments to be the time I put down 50 wings at the greatest wing establishment of all-time.

For as much as I talked up the day before Thanksgiving (better known as Thanksburning Day), I suppose I should show photographic evidence that it actually exists. Well,

here it is… a couch being completely consumed by flames. Sorry to everyone in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-Indiana-Idaho area who may have been confused by the bright lights in the sky… It was just us.

Now for the baseball… Alan Zirkle, who has been reading this all the way back to the dark ages of pre-Parkview Field (and came on The Watson Files Tour-a-Palooza Experience), asked me the other day when we’ll find out who the players will be for the 2010 TinCaps. The answer to that is this: About 5 minutes before they get on the plane to come to Fort Wayne. You think I’m joking, but I’m not. There’s really no way of knowing right now who will be here. You might have educated guesses, but especially with the retooling of the Padres’ front office, a lot of things are up in the air.

If you’re not familiar with how minor-league spring training goes, it’s pretty much guys showing up, running through drills for a few days (maybe as long as a week), then splitting up into their classifications (Triple-A, Double-A, etc.) and playing games against other organizations’ teams from the same classification. So the Padres’ Class-A team might play against the White Sox Class-A team. As injuries and performance warrant, guys are moved up/down and eventually by the time spring training is over, players get their Opening Day assignment and hop on the plane to wherever they’re assigned. If you don’t make a full-season club out of spring training, you stay behind for extended spring training. Which nobody wants or likes, but it happens for one reason or another, whether it’s injury recovery, getting extra work, etc. So, to recap, we don’t know who’s coming to Fort Wayne in 2010 yet and we won’t know for a while. On the other hand, I’ve heard rumors on the internets that we’ll find out soon about who our field staff will be. How soon? You’ll know when we know. As usual. So relax.

Some other organizations have already announced their field staffs for 2010. Burlington and Cedar Rapids both have their staffs back, Lansing is getting a new staff including manager Sal Fasano, who had some of my favorite facial hair in baseball in the last decade. Dayton still has Todd Benzinger as its manager, but Ken Griffey, Sr. was named their hitting coach. Quad Cities has a new staff. I think that’s all that we know so far.

A lot of people might assume ballplayers just work out and relax during the off-season, but some finish their college degrees or get real jobs. I remember reading stories about some guys who delivered sub sandwiches by bicycle in the winter months. Darren Ford, who I saw in 2007 in the Florida State League, was closing up for the night at a car dealership and was robbed at gunpoint. He was OK, thank goodness.

In happier off-season-job news, Ross Ohlendorf of the Pirates is interning with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One can only assume he was the top dog in his FFA group growing up.

In sadder non-job news, Charlie Weis got fired. I kind of feel bad, because Notre Dame leads the galaxy in playing close games regardless of the opponent’s record, but Notre Dame also leads the galaxy in deluded followers who think their team is good because the 1924 team was good. I caught the fourth quarter of the game at Stanford on Saturday and was horrified to see Stanford rush the field after the game. I get that it was their first win against Notre Dame since Julius Jones and Carlyle Holliday were running around (2001), but come on. This isn’t you’re great-grandpa’s Notre Dame football team. They’re 6-6. You know who else is 6-6? Wyoming. Michigan State. Louisiana-Lafayette. Now they have to figure out if they want to go to a bowl or not, as ridiculous as that sounds.

What about the draft-eligible players? I really did feel bad for Jimmy Claussen after the game. Here he was, a legitimately good player on an average team, giving a post-game press conference sporting a black eye from getting punched by an idiot fan outside a restaurant, his coach is getting fired and he just lost to end the season at 6-6. No way would I come back if I was getting drafted in the first three rounds.

Alright… That’s enough for a Monday. I should post something Wednesday.

Take care!


Food, Football, Family and Flammables

First with the baseball… The Topps Class-A All-Stars were released today and there were no TinCaps on the list. At first I was surprised, but then you have to consider three things:

1. There is no distinction between Low-A and Advanced-A, so there are twice as many players to pick from.

2. The Midwest League is thought of as a “pitcher’s league” because of the weather, despite playing a little more fairly this year. It’s still not even close to being as hitter-friendly as the California League, which had four of the nine hitters on the list. In fact, three played for Lancaster, where they had the 33-18 game earlier this year against Lake Elsinore.

3. The guys on the list had some pretty phenomenal numbers, and while the TinCaps had some big-time players this year, they didn’t put up the monster stat lines like some of the guys on the list did. Matt Clark‘s 24 HR / 101 RBI line is close, but no cigar compared to Joe Dunigan’s .294-30-104.

Also, if recent history is any indication, the Red Sox will make a blockbuster trade on Thanksgiving. They’re “putting on the full-court press” to pick up Roy Halladay. Ugh. Hopefully the Jays know to get the ball to the big guy running down the middle of the floor who can then distribute it into the frontcourt for an easy basket.

So tomorrow is another edition of the greatest holiday ever invented, and it’s not even close. Last year I ranked the holidays as if they were up-and-coming prospects…

5. Independence Day

4. New Year’s Eve/Day (BCS era)

3. Christmas

2. Thanksgiving

1. Baseball’s Opening Day

New Year’s Eve/Day may jump Christmas this year just because Ohio State is playing in the Rose Bowl. There was a time when it would be perennially third on the list, but the BCS and its “National Championship game on January 8th” business has knocked it down a peg.

The point here is this: Thanksgiving is the best federally-recognized holiday of them all. There’s food, there’s football, there’s family and there’s fire. Yes, I said fire. As in a bonfire. And I’m not talking about the country song.

Every year, the night before Thanksgiving in Conneaut, Ohio has become known as “Thanksburning Day”. This is a night where my friends get together, catch up, start a bonfire, then throw virtually anything flammable into the fire to keep it going. Because it’s not held between June and August, there is usually snow, which means snowball fights. So the next morning, you wake up smelling like any combination of burning wood/upholstery, that smell you had in elementary school when you came in from recess with snow thawing in your boots, and the mud that was encased in the snowballs you got hit with. So if you’re out and about tonight in Fort Wayne (or anywhere else, for that matter) and you happen to see a bright sky way off in the distance, it’s not some supernatural phenomenon (although I can understand the confusion)… It’s just the monstrous fire at Thanksburning Day 2009.

Of course, Thanksburning Day is followed quickly by Thanksgiving Day, which is quickly followed by the worst day of the year, if you get into the whole “shopping at 5am to save a few bucks” thing. I don’t know how we go from “food, family, football and fire” to “pre-dawn shopping with large groups of pushy strangers” in a matter of hours, but I don’t like it and don’t participate. In fact, I don’t even go to the grocery store between the hours of 9am-10pm unless I absolutely have to. I would’ve never made it in the days before 24-hour grocery stores.

But if you must go shopping, go to the TinCaps store in the Glenbrook Square Mall. It’s near the food court. Or shop online and avoid the crowds. This is America; do what you want. Just make sure “what you want” means “buying TinCaps stuff in mass quantities.”

That’s about it from here… Before I go, I’ll tell you what I’m most thankful for at this particular instant: An e-mail I just received from anonymous TinCaps staff member with the subject line: GO HOME!

Oh yeah, and I’m thankful for family. And food. And flammables.

And now, musical guest… Adam Sandler!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Let me know what you think of the new TinCaps’ website in the comments!

Welcome to the Future

Well… This looks different, doesn’t it?

After weeks of promising change, I’m proud to welcome you to The Watson Files 2.0!

For the thousands dozens of you who were used to reading this on the old TinCaps website, you’ve found me again… Stalkers. For the rest of you, thanks for stopping in. If you’re looking for a place to discuss TinCaps baseball, the superiority of breakfast over the other meals of the day and good karaoke songs, you came to the right place.

First things first… The reason I shifted the blog over to MLBlogs is because the TinCaps have a new website and there was no place on the new site to put a blog. Personally, I think this whole “internet” thing is a fad, but I’m just the radio guy. Anyway, I recommend checking out the Bad Apple Dancers page along with the audio/video highlights from the 2009 season.

I like the new format. It looks better and it’s, you know, a real blog (as opposed to a page where I write things and nobody can comment, leading me to assume that nobody read it… which, let’s not kid ourselves, was and probably still is the truth). The major challenge is coming up with a title. I was torn between the Brad Paisley-inspired “Welcome to the Future” and “Hey, it’s the 90s!” to convey the hip newness of everything. As in, “Mom, they tried teaching us the metric system at school today!” And she replied with, “Hey, it’s the 90s!” This whole title thing could either be a huge boost to the blog or the start of me trying to think of a clever title all day.

OK, now to baseball. I know I mentioned this Friday on the old blog, but the old blog has now been jettisoned into the abyss of the internets, so I’ll mention again: TinCaps hitting coach Tom Tornincasa was the hitting coach for the Peoria Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League. They went 14-18 after a pretty slow start, hit .275 as a team and almost led the league in walks. That’s not bad considering they lost Jason Heyward, who a lot of people think is the best prospect in the Minor Leagues, after four games. Fort Wayne alums results: Lance Zawadzki (’08) hit .324 and made the Rising Stars Game, Cedric Hunter (’07) hit .247, RHP Brandon Gomes (’07-08) made 11 appearances and had no record, 3.00 ERA.

Also, Chad Huffman (’06) was added to the Padres’ 40-man roster. That protects him from the Rule 5 draft, which happens in a couple of weeks (Dec. 10) in Indianapolis at the Winter Meetings. has made it pretty easy to follow Padres minor-leaguers in Winter Leagues here.

I ate an obscene amount (or is it number?) of ribs during the Ohio State-Michigan game this past weekend. People came over to watch the game and ribs were obviously on the menu. The reason I bring this up is this: Justin Shurley became the de-facto chef during the first half of the game, partially because his Old Mississippi Rebels weren’t playing until later and partially because he happens to carry (in his car) some sort of grate which fit perfectly inside the grill and made sure the ribs cooked thoroughly but did not burn. Unbeknownst to me (but knownst to Justin, apparently) this is normal behavior when you’re from the South and you’re suspicious that a barbecue may break out at any moment. Not that I’m complaining, since I did sit down and eat virtually an entire rack of ribs.

I think that’s it from here… Leave a comment if you want, but I reserve the right to censor them… Hey, you get what you pay for.

And now, musical guest… Brad Paisley!

Take care!