April 2010

Seriously, now…

I’m not a scout and I don’t pretend to be one. But when I notice something during a game, I’ll ask people around the team about it, since they know more about this game than I do. Here’s my first run at a scouting-esque look at a few things…

  • Dexter Carter got his first win with the TinCaps in the day game on Wednesday. He ran into trouble in the 3rd inning when he was forced to work from the stretch. When he works from the windup, his windup is in rhythm and the mechanics are fine. When runners are on base, he doesn’t have the same rhythm, his stride foot hits the ground too early and his arm isn’t in the proper throwing position (fingers on top of the ball). He gets on the side of the ball and the command suffers.
  • On the positive end, Carter made the mechanical adjustment later in the game and looked much better from the stretch.
  • Rymer Liriano has a TON of potential. He’s 18, he’s built like a tank, shows all five tools and is still learning the game. Sometimes he’ll “step in the bucket” at the plate, striding toward third base and pull off the ball.
  • Edinson Rincon has made some nice strides with his swing already. Starting the year, he was pulling his front shoulder out a bit too early and hooking everything, but he’s already doing a better job of using the whole field.
  • The knock on Rincon coming into the year was his fielding at third base. In the three-game series at Lake County, he made every play. He doesn’t always look very confident in the field, but he’s 19 and needs more reps out there.
  • Nick Schumacher came back to Fort Wayne from Lake Elsinore. I’m sure it’s not something he wanted to have happen, but the TinCaps really needed help at the back of the bullpen. Schumacher worked a 1-2-3 9th inning last night against Great Lakes to pick up a save and the bullpen worked three perfect innings.
  • Great Lakes is good again. Last year their lineup was loaded and the pitching was hit-and-miss. This year their staff has the best ERA in the league (2.70 going into last night) and the lineup is pretty good, too. Jerry Sands is having a monster start, Brian Cavazos-Galvez looks like a nice hitter (I’ve seen him play all of one game) and I don’t remember many lineups with a No. 8 batter who is 6-foot-5, 257-pounds like Chris Jacobs.
  • The TinCaps have had what’s referred to in the business as a “staff infection” with Padres roving instructors coming in early and often. Personally, I don’t know why it’s referred to as that, since staph infection is unpleasant (and generally happens to Cleveland Browns players) and these guys are nice guys, but I digress. Hitting coordinator Tony Muser, infield/baserunning coordinator (and former Fort Wayne manager) Gary Jones, pitching coordinator Mike Couchee, farm director Randy Smith and minor-league field coordinator Randy Johnson (not that Randy Johnson) have been with the team already.
  • Apparently I can’t upload them from the road, but I’ll post my
    interviews with Smith and
    Muser onto TinCaps.com soon. They give pretty good insights into what’s going on with the team and the Padres’ organization as a whole. I didn’t have time to ask every question I wanted to, but they’ll be back.

Now for some ramblings:

  • A four-base error? I guess.
  • The baseball season isn’t officially underway until a prospect gets called up to the big leagues after a hot start. Hello, Justin Smoak.
  • Friday, an article showed up on MLB.com about how there hadn’t been a game rained out yet this year. Of course, that night there was a rainout. Way to go, MLB.com. FYI, the latest they’ve ever gone in MLB history before the first rainout was in 1985, when the first rainout came on May 20. Of course, it happened in Cleveland.
  • Sure, Rick Reilly… Go ahead and remind us how bad the Browns have been at drafting players. Because everyone had forgotten. Jerk. What’s next, a story about how LeBron is leaving after the season?
  • I’ve been watching the NFL draft a little bit… Why does everyone have to refer to everything as a “football” something? “He’s a tough, hard-nosed FOOTBALL PLAYER.” “He’s going to make the Jaguars a better FOOTBALL TEAM.” “He’s good at going up and catching the FOOTBALL.” Fact: Saying “football” in front of everything doesn’t make it tougher. It’s just a crutch word to buy you an extra second while you think of something more to say.
  • Can we officially ban Matt Millen from being on the premises for the NFL Draft? He torpedoed the Lions as their GM, then today I was watching as he was on ESPN as an analyst. He had to make an awkward apology for something he said to Ron Jaworski that might have offended Polish people. When are people going to learn their lesson?
  • Why in the world is the draft now three days long? Probably for the same reason the NCAA basketball tournament is going to 68 teams. Follow the money, stupid. And watch it detract from what has been a good thing. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.
  • South Bend is pitching someone named Dan Taylor against the TinCaps on Wednesday morning. Turn on your radio at your own risk. The Lieutenant Dan references will come early and often.

And now, in honor of being in Michigan, the only good thing ever to come out of this snake pit… musical guest, Ted Nugent!

Take care!


TinCaps, the Band

First I thought about adding this to the entry from earlier, but it deserves its own post.

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but the TinCaps are a bass player and drummer away from starting a band.

Today in the lobby, Jerry Sullivan decided to start playing the piano. As in, he knows how to play the piano and started playing songs, and playing them well. Mike Watt brings his guitar on road trips. Rymer Liriano sat in the lobby singing along to some of his favorite songs on his iPod.

I know for a fact that Tony DesPlaines does a mean air bass and I can pull off a decent air drums.

Let’s make this happen.

Sweet Home Ohio

I was booted from my hotel room at 11 a.m. (apparently some people can’t handle this blasting through the hallways before noon). Bus doesn’t leave until 2:30 p.m. Hello, lobby.

Quick recap of the important happenings on this trip:

  • The TinCaps beat Lake County on Saturday, snapping the Captains’ win streak at 9 games.
  • They should’ve won yesterday, but blew two leads and lost, 7-6.
  • When we got into Eastlake on Saturday, there was something we refer to in Ohio as a “slushy mix” falling from the sky. Everyone from south of Virginia was looking around like they’d seen a flying saucer.
  • I’m totally not the guy who goes out of his way to complain about things in a public setting, but a funny story comes out of this: When we got here, the hotel rooms weren’t ready. So we all put our bags into the hotel office and got lunch and then went to the ballpark. When we got back after the game, nobody had the key to get into the office, so our bags were stuck. Two different people were called, supposedly having keys. Neither of them had the right key. Meanwhile, a wedding reception was taking place in one of the hotel’s meeting areas/ballrooms. It took the guys about 30 seconds to start coming up with “Wedding Crashers“-esque backstories to try to get into the reception. My favorite: Guy 1: “OK… We’re sailors and we just got back in from California.” Guy 2: “Right, because you can sail from California to Ohio.” By the time a third person showed up with the right key (and tried about 57 keys before they came up with the right one, which of course was the last one they tried on the entire janitor-esque giant key ring), most people had left to get dinner.
  • While we were waiting in the lobby before leaving for the ballpark, I was telling Bronswell Patrick about the greatest wing restaurant in the universe right down the street from the hotel. Some random guy told me I was wrong, that a different place in front of the hotel had better wings. I flatly told him I didn’t believe him. He seemed offended, but I was offended by him telling me there was a better wing place than Quaker Steak. Sorry, stranger.
  • I went to Quaker Steak with my mom after the game yesterday. It tasted good, but today I don’t feel like moving. I can’t believe I went there so often in high school for all-you-can-eat night, sometimes eating 50 wings at a time, and lived to tell about it.
  • Every time former strength coach Mark Brennan goes to Chipotle, he sends me a picture message showing four gigantic, overloaded tacos. I joked last year that he was the mayor of Chipotle because he gets the largest portions I’ve ever seen, regardless of which location he goes to. One time they made his tacos so big, I thought he was going to get someone fired… The manager asked the worker if it was a double-meat order and she told him it wasn’t. Mark Brennan: profit-killer.
  • I can’t divulge sources, but word on the street is, Mark had that photo airbrushed to erase his double-chin. Possibly a Chipotle-induced double-chin.

That’s it for now.


Video Killed the Non-Descript Radio Guy

I don’t really have a lot of time right now, but a few random thoughts followed by two cash-money videos.

  • Nate Freiman has hit two home runs that have probably traveled a combined 900 feet. I’m not exaggerating.
  • Rymer Liriano is really good and he’s only 18.
  • Yesterday was Jackie Robinson Day. I was listening to Charlie Steiner on the Dodgers’ broadcast last night and he talked about how Brooklyn was the perfect setting and Robinson was the perfect guy to break the color barrier. Incredible story.
  • That was a more serious note, but on a lighter note, Charlie Steiner is hilarious.
  • Tomorrow we head to Eastlake, Ohio, to play Lake County. That’s about 45 minutes from where I grew up. I can’t wait.
  • I don’t usually like it when rappers (or any other musicians) take a classic song and decide to use it in one of their songs (are you listening, Kid Rock?) but Jay-Z using “Forever Young” by Alphaville is phenomenal.
  • The MiLBlogs rankings came out for March… How am I not in the top 50? Come on, people!

Now for the videos:

It’s Stock Car Racing Night at the ballpark… My grandpa, my dad, my uncles and my cousins all raced on dirt tracks back home at one point or another. Allegedly I was so used to going to the races when I was younger that I could fall asleep in the bleachers while the races were going on. My cousin works on Robby Gordon’s NASCAR team. That being the case, I want you to watch this:

And I stumbled upon this the other day… Custom Made has company:

That’s all for now… Take care!


Catching Up

Four games are in the books. The TinCaps are 2-2. I haven’t had time to do anything extra, let alone write, until now, and that’s only because our game today at West Michigan was at 2:00 in the afternoon. So now that I’ve been able to relax for a while, get a good soak in the in-room hot tub and recharge, I’m ready to discuss the complete and utter anarchy that was Opening Day at Parkview Field.

And just so you know, I’m not writing this to say, “Hey, look at me.” I’m writing this to let you know that, if you come to a game and think we have everything together, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, this is my fourth year working in professional baseball and I’ve learned to assume that nothing at a ballpark works the way it’s supposed to the first time you use it. Maybe that’s me being negative, but it makes you appreciate when things DO work.

8:15 a.m.: Arrive at the ballpark. From the parking lot, the first thing I see is the video board. It’s not exactly in its full glory. Uh oh.

8:45 a.m.: Allan Wertheimer is wearing a plain white t-shirt and talking on his phone via speakerphone, trying to get the board fixed. Thankfully, that means we don’t have to hear his array of ringtones, which is so bad, my best description is this: Imagine the leader singers from Nickelback and Sugarland (and her fake country accent) singing a duet, with the lyrics written by Kid Rock. Good luck sleeping tonight.

9:45 a.m.: With the video board repairs underway, Allan turns his attention to the official scorer’s microphone, which is an intercom mic we use in the press box. We haven’t touched it since last September. It should work, right? Wrong.

10:00 a.m.: This is getting serious. We’ve checked the wiring connections, the dial positions, everything. Allan breaks out a set of blueprints. I keep waiting for a briefing to start and Shelden Williams to tell us how we’re going to destroy the Death Star by shooting into the exhaust port.

10:10 a.m.: Suddenly the microphone works. I go ballistic. Usually when the official scorer uses the mic, he starts by saying, “Attention media…” I simply scream, “Attention media… YYYYYYESSSSSSSS!” Allan has to explain the racket to the guy on the other end of the phone. I enjoy putting others into awkward situations.

11:00 a.m.: Next up: the stats computer. We’ve been trying unsuccessfully for two months to get our game stats to transmit live from one computer to other computers in the press box. We’ve called two different companies several times each to try and fix the problem. Nothing has worked. We come to find out that there’s one computer in the entire ballpark running Windows Vista. Of course, it’s the one sending the stats, and that’s what’s causing our problem. Out of thin air, a pink laptop sized for a toddler materializes, running Windows XP. We load everything from the Vista computer onto Baby’s First Laptop.

1:00 p.m.: After two months of fighting with the issue, the stats work. Boom, baby.

Now for sometimes-baseball-related rambling:

  • Without question, the best part about MLB Opening Day was Neil Diamond singing “Sweet Caroline” in person at Fenway Park wearing a jacket that said “Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn” on the back. I love Neil, but isn’t there an expiration date on vintage stuff? It’s not like you can wear a powdered wig and call it vintage.
  • Talking to one of the umpires, I asked what they do for Spring Training. Apparently every umpire who was in a full-season league the previous year is invited to Spring Training to umpire Minor League games. About 95% of them accept the invitation and five or six are assigned to each training camp. With two games per day at each camp, that means 2-3 umps per crew, with the crew chief being the one with the most and highest level of experience. Apparently it’s a good way for young umps to learn from more experienced guys.
  • When you think about it, MiLB umps are expected to do more than their MLB counterparts. There are two of them per crew in the low minors (four per crew in the big leagues), they have a fraction of the experience and they’re expected to do the same quality of job the big-leaguers do. Would we expect players to be perfect if they were put in a similar spot? Fat chance.
  • Without a doubt, the best thing I did this off-season was learning the little bit of Spanish I learned. Stiven Osuna was pretty impressed when I walked up and told him I hablo un poco de Espanol, pero no mucho. It’s amazing how much those guys appreciate people making an effort to speak their language.
  • The TinCaps’ Latin players speak a pretty decent amount of English, especially considering how young they are. It looks like the Padres’ Dominican academy is teaching these guys more than baseball.
  • “24” has done it again. First it was Pedro Cerrano as President of the United States, then Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue as the Director of the “24” version of the CIA, now it’s Milton from “Office Space” as a backwoods parole officer. What is going to happen to all these supporting actors from 90s movies when “24” goes off the air after this season?
  • Since the team got into town a week ago, I’ve only been able to work out twice. I don’t feel right when I don’t get some kind of workout in. Does that make me an addict?
  • Saturday I came in to work at 10:30 to work out (we didn’t have to be in until 11:30). When I went to the weight room, Nate Freiman was already there. On a day when the team didn’t play until 4:05. After a night game. And he’s constantly in the cage working on his swing. When one of your best players is also one of your hardest workers, you have the makings of a good team.
  • The offensive numbers haven’t been good lately (2 runs in 2 games), but it’s not as bad as it looks. The TinCaps have hit a lot of balls hard, just right at people.
  • They did catch a break today. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the 4th inning, Dexter Carter struck out a batter. Then, West Michigan’s Mike Gosse hammered a ball out of the park but foul by about a foot and a half. On the next pitch, Gosse grounded into an inning-ending double play and the TinCaps got out of the jam.
  • My parents were in town for the opening homestand. They brought me a makeshift Easter basket, including Girl Scout Thin Mints and a Cleveland Cavaliers Snuggie. Maybe I’ll put the Snuggie on backwards, tie a belt around it and use it as a robe. Seriously, best gifts ever.

That’s all I can think of for now.

Here’s musical guest Barry White!

Have a good one!


The Short Version

The last three days have been a flurry, so here are the highlights:

  • Jose Flores may have been interviewed more times Monday before he left the Fort Wayne airport than he did the last two years managing, combined.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, drive on Jefferson Boulevard when Nate Freiman is at the plate. You’ve been warned. He hit three balls over the chain-link fence at the back of the left-field concourse last night. After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I asked around and couldn’t find anybody who remembered anybody hitting balls that far last year.
  • I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone more excited to get an interview request than Dean Anna was tonight.
  • Juan Oramas had some filthy stuff in the bullpen tonight.
  • Ian Stewart is the man.
  • Cubs radio guy Pat Hughes has permanently raised the bar for all radio broadcasts from now until the end of time… In the midst of a blowout on Opening Day, he dropped a Buford T. Justice reference.

That’s it for now… See you tomorrow!


Perspective, Please

So the TinCaps’ 2010 roster is up.


1. Nobody from the 2009 playoff starting lineup is back. Repeat after me: This is a good thing. Good players move up. New players come in. It’s affiliated Minor League Baseball. Last year was fun, but last year is over. Let’s enjoy a new crop of players.

2. There are seven guys age 20 or under on the roster. Only one of them (Jeudy Valdez) has played full-season baseball before. Be patient with them. It’s a higher level of play, most of them don’t speak a lot of English, they’re not used to the colder weather, and they’ve never played this many games in a season before. They might make some unbelievable plays, good and bad. Bear with them. Consistency comes with time.

3. Donovan Tate, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft, hasn’t been assigned anywhere yet. He hurt his shoulder diving for a fly ball in Spring Training. I haven’t heard when he’ll be ready to go or where he’ll be assigned. You’ll know when we know.

4. In general, just relax. Do you know how many guys from last year’s Opening Day roster were still here at the end of the season? Fifteen. So 40% of the guys you see on the roster today won’t be here by the end of the season. Also, I can just about guarantee nobody in Minor League Baseball will win 101 games this season, so don’t expect it.

…and that’s all I have to say about that.

Friday ramblings:

  • Alexi Lara is so hot right now. He closed it out last night for the Padres at Angels Stadium and got the save. In a Major League Baseball spring training game. The outing before that, he went 1.2 innings, 5 strikeouts. Really? Let this four-minute audio highlight remind you of where Lara was in early June of last season. Also while listening to that, remember that even the mighty 2009 TinCaps had some pretty pathetic moments… They just didn’t have many. And finally, I’m not usually that big of a jerk on the air, but when a guy makes the same mistake over and over, I get frustrated just like anybody else. I’ll be honest; I thought Lara was pitching for his career. He turned it around after that appearance and was untouchable the rest of the way. So, in less than a year, it’s gone from “this guy can’t get anybody out in A-ball” to “nobody in A-ball can hit this guy” to “ALEXI LARA IS AWESOME.” Baseball is a funny game, isn’t it?
  • It’s 80+ degrees outside today, so we did a lot of work around the ballpark to get ready for the Open House (which is Saturday, noon-4pm… I’ll be giving tours for part of the time). It’s days like these when I thank the good Lord that I worked as a ticket/concession/cleaning/everything else guy at Conneaut Plaza Theater for two years during high school. I’m a dude. Therefore, I don’t usually notice tiny details when it pertains to cleanliness. But when I go into theater worker mode, I remember my old boss (Jungle Jim, as we called him) getting all curmudgeon-y when the smallest thing wasn’t clean or in order. Today I was in theater worker mode for most of the afternoon cleaning things. Maybe I should invite Jungle Jim to the Open House and see what he thinks of the ballpark. He’ll probably notice some fingerprints on the handrails or something. But that’s the kind of thing I look for now. Maybe Jungle Jim was right all along.
  • I don’t know how I’ll ever succinctly work some of these sabermetric stats into a broadcast (or if I’ll even try), but Bill Simmons is drinking the Kool-Aid. I agree that they’re useful stats, I just don’t know if there’s a way to present them quickly and in a way that’s easy to understand. I also understand that there’s rarely a stat that’s more interesting than a story. It’s a balancing act, for sure.
  • Our old pal Terry Byrom is getting absolutely mobbed by media. Not because they’re in a frenzy for his BBQ sauce recipe, but because he’s the media relations guy for the Harrisburg Senators. Also known as the Strasburg Stephens. When the biggest prospect in baseball history is assigned to your team, you just hope you’re not the media relations guy. You will either make somebody in the media mad or want to slam your head into a wall, or both.
  • The imaginary World Cornhole Tag Team Championship belts are on the line in mere moments. Getcha popcorn ready.

And now, musical guest… Rare Earth!

Have a great weekend!