Last week I hinted at big news for dorks like us who enjoy baseball and radio. And baseball on the radio. Well, now you’re looking at it. It’s called a Tieline, and it rules. It’s the cat’s pajamas. The bee’s knees. If you think good audio quality is cool, just consider the Tieline Miles Davis.
I tested it yesterday and it sounds as clear as a conversation you’d have with someone in person. Which is a sharp upgrade, if you’ve listened to our games on the radio. I’m also working on improving the streaming internet feed… in the past, the commercials have been a lot louder than the game audio and we’re moving toward a better balance between the two. So now you know I’m not just sitting around here being a lame blogger… I (we) are saving the world, one slightly-less-mediocre broadcast at a time.
Now if we could just hire a decent radio guy…
- Former TinCaps INF Andy Parrino played in both the big-league game and the “B” game yesterday… and had hits in both. Also, Fort Wayne alum INF/OF Kyle Blanks got his first game action of the spring and went 0-for-2 and RHP prospect Casey Kelly looked good.
- It was a battle of injury bounceback-ees yesterday at Camelback with Padres RHP Aaron Harang going against Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy. Maybe it was intentional, maybe not, but there are no radar readings on the Gametracker to tell how their velocity looked. Certainly was a good sign that Peavy got through four innings. Former Fort Wayne alums OF Cedric Hunter (double) and INF Mike Baxter (LONG home run) hit Peavy hard, but he was fine for most of the day. Peavy says he is making good progress in his rehab. Bud Black says he doesn’t think Peavy has lost anything from the injury.
- Peavy went fishing with his old pitching coach on Monday.
- Also, LHP Cory Luebke gave up four runs in four innings and still got credited with a hold. The hold is a bad stat. It’s right up there with the win and it’s almost as bad as the save.
- Chase Headley had two hits, including one off LHP Chris Sale. He’s been hitting everything this spring, which doesn’t mean he’s going to keep it up in the regular season but it’s better than, you know, not hitting everything.
- Fort Wayne alum OF Will Venable is profiled on Padres.com.
- Jerry Crasnick says the Padres are the no-name defense. And offense. And pitching staff.
- Nationals ubermegaprospect Bryce Harper says he wakes up every morning feeling “hitterish… You know, you’ve got to wake and rake.” Which is the second-best quote of spring so far, behind Orlando Hudson‘s “A sleepy-headed man won’t keep no woman.”
- Uh oh… Oakland closer Andrew Bailey is seeing Dr. Andrews, and I don’t mean Erin. Suddenly, the A’s loading up on bullpen arms doesn’t seem so weird.
- Ask BA discusses prospect grades, potential top draft picks and Yankees LHP prospect Manny Banuelos, who pitched last night against the Red Sox and showed a REALLY good changeup.
- Somebody thinks Barry Bonds leaving the Giants has been good for the team. They did come pretty close to winning a World Series with Bonds, but the point is the clubhouse chemistry is better now. Not to mention that it’s a completely different type of team now, built around pitching.
- A helmet to wear while pitching? It’s not that far away. Slap a facemask on that thing and I think we’ve got something.
- Mariners prospect RHP Michael Pineda could make the Opening Day roster, but it would make more sense for the team to keep him in Triple-A for a couple of weeks. This kind of thing happens with a lot of players, Pineda is just the current example.
- Forget about the Ides of March… Beware the Snydes of March. I’m not sure what I mean by that, but it rhymes, so let’s just go with it.
- I’ve filled out my bracket and I’m all in on Wofford. To go to the Sweet 16, that is. Their mascot is a dog, how could I not?
- My weekly meeting with Michael Limmer has turned into a call-in talk show… former TinCaps video guy Allan Wertheimer called today during the meeting. He wants everyone to know that he’s still getting free donuts and bagels for breakfast and cold sandwiches for lunch. Not as good as the players’ buffet, but free is free. And Allan loves free. Also, he had to decline two wedding invitations because the travel was too far.
Musical guest… Boyz II Men!
OK, technically Colt Hynes isn’t in Indiana anymore, but he used to be. And he’s the subject of today’s “you just never know” story.
The year was 2009. TinCaps president Mike Nutter handed me a piece of paper with the handwritten last names of the team’s Opening Day roster, just received from the braintrust in Arizona. He said it looked good and the biggest question was the bullpen. “They like the closer and the setup guy, but they’re not sure about the rest… Colt Hynes is going to be the situational lefty.”
You know, the Colt Hynes who would turn 24 years old that June and was still kicking around A-ball. The one who put up a 4.60 ERA the previous year (with decent peripherals). The 31st-round pick in the 2007 draft. I don’t know if Mike rolled his eyes, but chances are I did.
Hynes came in and made 13 appearances for the TinCaps in 2009. He only allowed runs in two games. Great for Fort Wayne, but let’s see him do it at a higher level, right? How do 49 appearances with a 2.90 ERA and no homers allowed at Lake Elsinore strike you? That’s pretty good, right? Well, there wasn’t a job for Colt at Double-A last year so he went back to Lake Elsinore to start the season. He did pretty much the same thing for half a season, except he cut his walks by more than half. Then he went to Double-A in mid-July and continued being a professional butt kicker. You know, if you’re into 1.19 ERAs.
Now, he’s been listed as a guy who “has impressed in camp” for the Padres. Maybe he’ll get to the big leagues this year and keep getting people out, maybe he won’t. But either way, for haters like me who doubt Colt Hynes and players like him, let’s all say it together: You just never know.
- Lots of former TinCaps mentioned as the San Diego U-T discusses an improved Padres’ minor-league system. More importantly for speculators like us, it has a rundown of which players could go where to open the year. That’s a big-money outfield he’s listed for the TinCaps. And Portillo/Sampson in the starting rotation (plus Cates, if he’s as good as advertised) would be fun to watch.
- Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos got stronger as he went on Friday against the Giants. I don’t know what happened, but for some reason it was blacked out on my TV. Apparently Fort Wayne was mysteriously transported to either San Diego or San Francisco’s TV territory for a three-hour period. Also, lots of guys got sent to minor-league camp. Which is expected, since minor-league camp just got underway.
- The Padres will face Jake Peavy today in a Spring Training game.
- Former Fort Wayne hitting coach Riccardo Ingram, who is still working in the Twins’ system, is fighting a brain tumor.
- LHP Clayton Richard says his shoulder thing is none of your business. He didn’t really say that, but that’s what he meant. Which is fine. Also, solid quote about his pace: “I like to err on the side of quick.”
- David Newhan is in Padres camp after a scary off-season surfing accident.
- Padres owner Jeff Moorad has completely sold his share of the D-Backs.
- Former Fort Wayne INF David Freese is getting a shot to be the Cardinals’ starter at third this spring.
- Lots of MLB parks are getting upgrades this season.
- Several prospects could make an impact in the big leagues this year, says Jerry Crasnick. Brandon Belt is not on that list, but I assume they just ran out of room.
- Yankees RHP A.J. Burnett hasn’t walked anybody in nine innings this spring. They really need him to be good this year.
- Grady Sizemore is running, but says his knee is still a little stiff. Meanwhile, an injury could open the door for 3B Lonnie Chisenhall.
- Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann is good and Bryce Harper got sent to minor-league camp. Supposedly he could make his big-league debut this year. Prediction: He gets to Double-A, but the only way he gets to Washington in 2011 is if it’s written into his contract, which is entirely possible.
- Listen to Peter Gammons. I remember last year when he was raving about Marlins OF Mike Stanton. And he was right.
- There’s a new MLB historian and he says baseball’s origins are way more complicated than Abner Doubleday and Alexander Cartwright. Which isn’t a huge surprise; history generally isn’t as cut-and-dried as we’d hope.
- The CEO of the Rangers stepping down was the definition of awkwardness.
- NBA forward Kevin Love was a good baseball player as a kid.
- Stay hot, Ohio State… Kirk Herbstreit is moving out of Columbus because idiot fans won’t leave him alone. I can only imagine it’s partially because of what he said about Terrelle Pryor, which I thought was completely on the money.
- I played baseball and started broadcasting at an NCAA school, so I know there are TONS of good things happening in college sports. But apparently Sunday was “here’s how ridiculous the NCAA is” day. I caught an ESPN report which said the guy who ran the NCAA for 30+ years wrote a book railing against it. Then I watched “The Fab Fi
ve” about Michigan basketball, which talked about how much money the school made off the players, but then the school got hit with NCAA sanctions including vacating wins because the players received money from a booster. Then I watched “The Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV,” which mentioned that (on two occasions) UNLV basketball had NCAA sanctions delayed by a year, basically because the team was good. Also, Jerry Tarkanian got a $2+ million settlement from the NCAA after he sued them for harassment. Uh, what?
- I know you’re wondering about my first try at curling. It was
fantastic. And a tough game to play – the sheet of ice is way longer
than you think. It’s kind of a mixture of bowling, shuffleboard and
cornhole with a twist of Canadian tuxedos. And you’d better be used to doing lunges before you start playing, or you’ll be sore the next day. Also, Abby Naas did fall over on the ice (as expected), but it was from a lunging position.
Musical guest… The Jackson 5!
Remember the stockholders meeting in “Mr. Deeds” when Deeds tells everyone they should try to be what they wanted to be when they were six years old instead of doing what made them the most money? Well, when I was six years old I wanted to be a famous athlete. By the time I was 15, I realized not everyone stopped growing when they were 15, and now here I am. Like Kenny Powers before he started taking steroids: washed up, damaged goods with a fastball in the 70s and no hitting abilities. Too short for basketball, too non-roided-up for football or pro wrestling. I need something that isn’t dependent on being a physical freak with moderate athletic ability. I need something anyone can succeed at if they work at it long enough. I’ve decided my final hope at athletic greatness may just be curling.
So tomorrow, I’m starting my journey toward Olympic glory with a Learn To Curl session with the Fort Wayne Curling Club. I figure if the U.S. Olympic curling team had a bartender, construction worker, substitute teacher and parole officer (which wouldn’t be bad identities for the 2010 version of The Village People) last Olympics, a radio guy has as good a chance as anyone. So I’ll see you suckers in Georgia in 2014. The country of Georgia, not the state. I’ll be the one with the gold medal.
Also, “Mr. Deeds” got a 24 on Metacritic? And “Taken” got a 50? Really? Sure it’s cheesy, but “Mr. Deeds” is funny and incredibly rewatchable. I suppose “Taken” is too, but for entirely different reasons.
- Fort Wayne alum OF Cedric Hunter hit a three-run homer on his birthday as the Padres beat the Dodgers. Watching the tape-delayed broadcast on MLB Network, I am happy to report that Hunter’s home run ball was caught on one bounce by a shirtless guy wearing jorts, who promptly fell down on the grass berm. In former TinCaps box score trolling, Simon Castro and Rob Musgrave pitched a scoreless inning each and Jeudy Valdez went 1-for-2 with a stolen base.
- Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos faces the Giants tonight.
- Former Fort Wayne LHP Cory Luebke looks like he’s going to Triple-A to open the season according to this.
- Highlights from yesterday’s Union-Tribune Padres chat: Latos’ reaction after tough spring performances is troubling, San Diego may be interested in Rangers C Taylor Teagarden as a backup now that Gregg Zaun retired, RHP Heath Bell had a motorized cooler that once broke down between the dugout and the bullpen at Petco Park, players on the 40-man roster must stay in big-league camp through Sunday (March 13), at least four MLB players have to be available to play in each Spring Training game and someone wanted to know the best place to “spot” Padres off the field. Whoever asked that question is what we call a cleat chaser. And there are male and female cleat chasers. And they’re more common in the minors than I ever imagined before I got into baseball.
- This is a story about Padres OF Chris Denorfia, but he talks about how long it took him to fully recover from Tommy John surgery, which is of interest to former Fort Wayne INF/OF Kyle Blanks.
- Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy feels better a day after his first start of Spring Training.
- Not a whole lot interesting from the minor-league transactions report, but here it is anyway.
- Mets LHP Johan Santana doesn’t sound like he’s going to be ready to pitch anytime soon.
- The Rangers’ new owner might become the Rangers’ former owner soon. Which is a bummer, because he had a lot of success as the owner of the Double-A Altoona Curve.
- In this notebook, the Phillies could be a fit for Rangers INF Michael Young and Kendry Morales now spells his first name Kendrys, which is his given name. Uh, what?
- Twins OF Ben Revere, a former MWLer, is proving the haters wrong.
- Question: Why would Tommy Hilfiger decide to show off what sports uniforms would look like if they designed them? Answer: Because ESPN asked them to. And they look horrible.
- As much as I want to defend Ohio State football, they’re in trouble. You can’t sign something saying you knew nothing, then come out months later saying you knew something, which is what I’ve heard happened. But there’s pressure on these guys to make big money for the school, and coming out with information like this mid-season might mean losing, which means less money. What have we learned here? Tell the truth. Money ruins everything. Setting high moral standards for yourself makes everyone fall all over themselves to hammer you when you when you make a mistake. Because it’s better to just not even try doing something difficult because then you can’t fail, right?
- This looks like one of the most fun vacation ideas of all time.
Musical guest… Pearl Jam!
Have a great weeken
Maybe I shouldn’t be impressed by this, but I am: the Padres played two split-squad games yesterday and, by my count, 20 Fort Wayne alums played in the games (including C Luke Carlin who’s now with the Indians). Eleven of them have been here during the Parkview Field era (2009-10). The rundown:
In one game, an all-Fort Wayne-alum pitching staff held the Indians to three hits – Cleveland had under-the-radar MLB studs Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo in the starting lineup.
In the other game, former TinCaps RHP Matt Lollis had a rough inning against the Reds in a loss. To cut him some slack, the Padres made errors against two of the first three batters Lollis faced. INF Jeudy Valdez and C Jason Hagerty each had hits, and rumor has it Valdez made a nice play in the field.
Go ahead and say, “But Dan, didn’t you just say recently that Spring Training stats are meaningless?” First of all, stop whining. Second of all, the answer is yes, but I feel like bragging our guys up today and I don’t care if it’s rational or not. This is America. Land of the free.
- If you see a TinCaps full-time staffer violating the new staff dress code between now and Opening Day, you win free tickets to Opening Day. This may or may not be the modern-day equivalent of wearing flair, except we have to wear it whether we’re working or not. But hey… it’s all for fun, right? RIGHT?!?
- Also yesterday, Padres RHP Aaron Harang got a rude welcome from his old team, the Reds. He had trouble out of the stretch, but at least he knows what went wrong mechanically. The Padres really need a bounce-back year out of him.
- Fort Wayne alum 3B Chase Headley had two hits against the Indians, including a two-run single from the right side of the plate.
- The big pieces the Padres got back in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, 1B Anthony Rizzo and RHP Casey Kelly, are both looking good this spring. Rizzo homered yesterday. Also, they call each other slobs and are both big Justin Bieber fans and tried to get into his movie. Something tells me they would have starred in the movie “Return of the Idiots” had they stayed in Boston.
- Everybody except former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy was happy with his performance yesterday.
- Rangers RHP Brandon Webb is going through a slow rehab from shoulder surgery.
- Phillies 2B Chase Utley’s injured knee is a mystery. They’re not looking quite as untouchable as they did when they signed Cliff Lee.
- Braves INF Brooks Conrad is looking forward after last year’s nightmarish postseason. Did you know he’s the first player to make a game-ending error in a post-season game since Bill Buckner? It’s really too bad – second base isn’t his natural position but he went out there anyway, then took all the heat after the game.
- A minor-league manager in the Braves system got smoked by a foul ball yesterday. One of my buddies from college broadcasts the games in Lynchburg, where he’ll manage this year. Small world.
- As a media relations-type guy, I’m always interested in a good debate about media ethics/behavior. Hints: when you’re anywhere on a working media credential, be working; no cheering in the press box; have fun, but don’t get too buddy-buddy with the players.
- Could it be an ESPN version of The Watson Files? Maybe, but I doubt it features crowd-pleasers like this, and it definitely won’t have a sense of humor about itself.
- I should have news about a massive upgrade to our radio broadcasts as early as tomorrow. This might only be interesting to the top echelon of Fort Wayne sports dorks, but as the radio guy, this is big news for me.
- I dropped two spots from January in the MLBlogs rankings. Looks like I’ll be hitting “refresh” for an extra hour per day this month to raise my numbers again.
- Brent Harring and I are speaking at the Berne Rotary Club meeting today. We went in 2009 and it still stands as the best time I’ve ever had at a meeting of any kind.
Musical guest… The Killers!
One of the toughest things to understand about baseball is how roster maneuvering works, mostly because there’s no good place to find explanations of everything. The 40-man roster, the active 25-man roster, service time/arbitration concerns… the casual fan doesn’t have time to care about this stuff. Which is one of the benefits of reading this, I suppose.
So yesterday, the Padres “reassigned” five players from big-league camp, four of them former TinCaps. Some outlets call it being “cut” from camp. In reality, these guys were never really ON the big-league roster, so it’s impossible to be cut.
Here’s the explanation that doesn’t come out nearly enough to help newcomers learn the game: Big-league camp starts a few weeks before the minor-leaguers show up. If you’re an upper-level prospect who isn’t on the major-league team, you might get an invitation to big-league camp. When that happens, you get to get into camp early, get some work in and show the big-league coaches what you’re working with. It’s basically the equivalent of the better JV players getting to practice with the varsity team. After minor-league camp starts, you eventually get sent back to practice with the JV peons, pretty much regardless of how well you’re playing. And even after a player gets sent back to minor-league camp, he can still play in the big-league Spring Training games – in fact, former TinCaps RHPs Brad Brach and Alexi Lara are both pitching in the big-league game today despite getting reassigned to minor-league camp yesterday.
Why invite the minor-leaguers to big-league camp? Well, there’s the tryout-type reasons I listed above, but also because SOMEBODY has to play in the latter innings of those early-spring games. The big-league position players start out playing 4-5 innings per day at the beginning of camp (pitchers going 1-2 innings) and often don’t travel to road games. They’re working their way into shape for the season. So somebody has to fill the spots in the lineup after the big-leaguers are finished getting their work in for the day. That’s when it turns into a showcase game for younger players trying to make an impression.
Questions? Leave ’em in the comments or drop an e-mail… firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Brad Hawpe homered and Mike Adams had a rough inning for the Padres yesterday. Fort Wayne alums of note in box score: OF Will Venable caught stealing twice; OF Cedric Hunter went 1-for-2; LHP Rob Musgrave allowed an unearned run in one inning; C Jason Hagerty, INFs Chase Headley, Andy Parrino, Jeudy Valdez and OF Luis Durango all went hitless.
- Veteran C Gregg Zaun retiring means former Fort Wayne C Nick Hundley has one less mentor.
- Padres LHP Clayton Richard threw live batting practice yesterday as he recovers from shoulder soreness.
- A potentially great moment for Greeks in baseball was thwarted last night when Padres RHP George Kontos didn’t face Royals 3B prospect Mike Moustakas. Mostly because it wasn’t Kontos’ day to throw. In reality, neither of them have ever lived in Greece, but they have Greek grandparents or something. So this is something of a non-story. But it could have really been something.
- Apparently there are people who take satisfaction in heckling teenage multi-millionaires at afternoon exhibition baseball games. In other news, this guy is evidently based on a real person.
- Get used to hearing this: Michael Pineda is good.
- Ask BA ranks the last 12 prospects who were taken No. 1 overall in the MLB draft. Which isn’t completely the same as “Rank the hype around the top overall pick.” Also, they figured out that more 20 HR-20 SB seasons have come from high-school draftees than college products. Which, if you think teams should draft for high upside, means teams should probably draft high school guys more often. But rigidly sticking to any one draft philosophy (i.e. drafting all high-school guys, go for position scarcity) gets you in trouble.
- Interesting stuff in Fangraphs’ report from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which is the Mecca of stat geeks the world over: They’re getting close to being able to track how much a catcher moves his mitt, which theoretically should tell us how well a pitcher is hitting his spots (but what about when a pitcher is trying to bury a breaking ball in the dirt?); defensive metrics are advancing; balancing statistical analysis with traditional scouting; and projecting minor-league stats to big-league performance is still tricky.
- MLB is (naturally) involved with the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
- Some people call today Mardi Gras, which is
FrenchFreedom for Fat Tuesday. Others just call it Tuesday.
- Dave Hutte Status Update: “Gotta figure out what to give up for Lent.” Let’s hope it’s not status updates. Also, I’ve decided I want to dress up like Dave Hutte for his costume party/wedding reception. After the obligatory creepy dyed-black goatee, I could go with any of several outfits: the 1997 crew-neck Packers sweatshirt/pajama pants/slippers combo, the generic basketball uniform (for pickup basketball games)/calf-length socks/white sneakers ensemble… and that’s just off the top of my head.
Musical guest… Weezer!
It’s OK if you’re skeptical of this story, because I would be too. But I promise it’s entirely true.
night while eating dinner at a downtown restaurant, I overheard a
conversation from the next table… Nondescript local guy said, “Bang
for your buck, you won’t get a better deal in town than the TinCaps.” He
went on to tell his whole table about watching a game from a concourse suite and how much fun it was.
apparently our CIA-style plan of placing undercover marketing staffers
in local restaurants to pass along not-so-subliminal word-of-mouth
publicity is working. Next time you go out with “a group of friends” and the new guy is singing praises about Parkview Field, you’ll know what’s up.
I’m kidding, of course… Or am I?
- Former TinCaps happenings from yesterday’s Padre game: RHP Mat Latos was wild again (but feels OK), LHP Colt Hynes pitched 1.1 scoreless frames in relief, RHP Matt Lollis gave up a couple of runs in his only inning. Also, RHP Heath Bell made his Spring Training debut and felt good.
- Backup catcher candidate Gregg Zaun is hanging ’em up.
- Former Fort Wayne 3B Chase Headley is working to get better. Best quote in the article comes when he’s asked about his critics: “I’m not concerned with outside opinions.” This is a rampant thing in sports coverage and it’s completely overblown: the “expectations” card. Any
competitor worth a darn has higher expectations for himself than anyone, so anyone else’s expectations are more or less irrelevant. If I ever write that story or ask an expectations-related question
during an interview, you have my permission to furiously send an e-mail
that says, “Dude, you’re not living up to my expectations!”
- Another story about Cameron Maybin (who is coming back from concussion symptoms after running into a pole during batting practice) and how the Padres’ leadoff hitters struggled last year. I can’t get over the .306 OBP… that’s bad.
- The Padres’ bullpen coach is fighting hard against pancreatic cancer.
- With the Padres’ potential new Triple-A ballpark in suburban San Diego in limbo, the ownership group is looking at its options, including selling.
- Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy’s recovery from his freak injury is profiled.
- Former Fort Wayne RHP Dirk Hayhurst is now with the Rays and had to assure them his writing career is harmless.
- Rockies OF (and Midwest League alum) Carlos Gonzalez hit the bejeesus out of a ball on Sunday. The article doesn’t say it directly, but it was a double.
- Another MWL alum, Dodgers INF Dee Gordon, won Baseball America‘s Winter Player of the Year award.
- The players’ union met with the World Umpires’ Union to hash some things out.
- Fighting amongst teammates isn’t as rare as we might think, and a lot of times the team ends up winning.
- Some prospects might be ready to contribute in the big leagues this year, including Indians 3B Lonnie Chisenhall and LHP Drew Pomeranz. Nationals OF Bryce Harper probably isn’t ready yet, but he made a nice play in the field.
- The Phillies have some injury issues with 2B Chase Utley and OF prospect Domonic Brown, who was struggling mechanically at the plate.
- Royals SS Alcides Escobar, a big piece of the Zack Greinke trade, can’t catch a break.
- I grew up listening to Cavaliers radio guy Joe Tait… he’s a character. I’m biased, but I think Ohio teams have some of the best radio people in the business with Tait, Tom Hamilton of the Indians, Marty Brennaman with the Reds (this episode notwithstanding) and Paul Keels with Ohio State.
- Another great one, Cubs radio guy Pat Hughes is going to be part of writing a book about Ron Santo.
- I don’t know if it makes the shows any better, but three pretty good bands touring via old-school railroad cars sounds like fun.
- This is what happens when baseball dorks get ahold of Photoshop.
- This is what happens when one of the best sports writers around wants to make a point.
- This is what happens when you invite the TinCaps to a throwback charity event and encourage costumes: old-school rappers. Like Kris Kross.
Musical guest… Old Crow Medicine Show!
Last year to spice things up at Padres camp, the big-league team pressured former TinCaps 3B James Darnell into playing “Tequila” on the trumpet and had a basketball shooting contest. There were air horns, megaphones, cans of silly string, balloons… every conceivable distraction short of Speedo guy (side note: Speedo guy married a woman who had dated his brother? That’s like the roommate switch multiplied by infinity!).
Anyway, apparently this year the team decided to have a pigskin-throwing challenge like Uncle Rico meets NFL Quarterback Club. One would think the guy who actually played quarterback in college (LHP Clayton Richard) would want to put his talents on display. But then I remembered he played at Michigan and probably wanted everyone (including himself) to forget that his college football career ever happened. So Richard was designated as the “commissioner” of the competition. Whatever that means.
So who manned up and competed? RHP Casey Kelly (who had an offer to play at Tennessee), C Nick Hundley, 2B Orlando Hudson (who, according to Harold Reynolds, claims he was recruited by all kinds of SEC schools) and LHP (and Ohio State product) Cory Luebke.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, the Buckeye triumphed, with the highlight coming when Luebke nailed a trash can on the back of a moving golf cart from 30 yards away. Somewhere, Brent Musburger was smiling. And counting the money he had just won by gambling on the competition.
- The Padres won a game against Arizona yesterday. Box score highlights from former TinCaps: James Darnell went 2-for-2, Luis Martinez went 1-for-2, Rob Musgrave pitched a scoreless inning, Cedric Hunter scored a run. Also, local native RHP Jarrod Parker pitched a pair of shutout innings for Arizona, sitting at 91-92 with his fastball and topping out at 95. If he’s all the way back from Tommy John surgery, he could get to the big leagues soon.
- Padres bench coach Rick Renteria needs reconstructive surgery after getting hit in the face by a line drive during batting practice. With so many baseballs flying around, I’m continually amazed that more people don’t get hit.
- RHP Mike Adams is ready for a chance to show he can be a closer. Not happening while Heath Bell is healthy and on the team.
- Spring Training in Arizona is tough on pitchers, but what better way to train than to do it in a tougher atmosphere than the one you’ll actually be competing in? To me, it seems like a cross-country runner training at high altitudes; once you’re used to the thin air, everything else seems easier. But what do I know?
- Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy will make his Spring Training debut today.
- The Triple-A ballpark project in the suburbs of San Diego has hit a speed bump. Looks like it’ll be the Tucson Padres for at least two years.
- Former TinCaps groundskeeper Mitchell Gary McClary is getting ready to open a new ballpark in Omaha and legendary author Ben Hill tells us their clock is interesting. I hope it has better luck than the one in Hill Valley.
- They might need two tape measures to figure out how far a Reds catching prospect hit one yesterday. The Reds already have a lot of homegrown talent on their roster and he could be on his way.
- New Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is trying to run a tight ship.
- “A lot of people say you can tell a lot about how a season’s gonna go by the first hitter of the year.” – Harry Doyle. What does it mean when your Spring Training park catches fire?
- “A lot of people say you can tell how a season’s gonna go by the first batter of the year.” – Harry Doyle. What does it mean when your Spring Training park catches fire?
- Former MWLer RHP Neftali Feliz was not pleased with his first start. The nice thing about him is, if he struggles to transition back to the rotation, they can just send him to the back of the bullpen where he’s been outstanding.
- Fantasy baseball tip: Draft RHP Jordan Zimmermann late. He’s good and coming off an injury.
- Fantasy baseball hope: The Yankees catchers continue to leave Jesus Montero as the best major-league option (through injuries or stinking) and owners like me can laugh all the way to the bank.
- Ever wonder why teams don’t just cut those overpriced, underperforming players? Wonder no more.
- Fangraphs investigates the most valuable players, dollar-for-dolla
r, in baseball.
- A good writer authored a book about the Tampa Bay Rays and how they went from laughingstock to contender. It’s a safe bet this will end up in my bag this summer.
- Interesting article about prospect flops… Rick Manning (now an Indians broadcaster), alleged clubhouse thief Ruben Rivera and… Matt Wieters?
- Other once-big-time prospects might be getting their last chance this spring.
- This idea has been floating around from several sources, including Bill Simmons: If you had a rock band fantasy draft where you had to draft a singer, lead guitarist, bassist and drummer, who would you pick? I’ve seen others disqualify solo acts (rendering Jimi Hendrix ineligible) and fictional artists (Animal from the Muppets is not allowed). My draft preferences are as follows… Singers: Chris Cornell, 70s Freddie Mercury, 70s Roger Daltrey; Guitar: Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Prince, Eddie Van Halen; Bass: Jeff Jones from Rush, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce from Cream, Tal Wilkenfield from Jeff Beck’s band (because she’s pleasing to the ears AND the eyes); Drums: John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Phil Collins (value pick of the draft – nobody thinks of him as a drummer).
- The NFL might lock out. Big deal. Minicamps don’t usually start until late April anyway and the draft will happen regardless. The owners, who already have the best labor deal in major sports, are trying to hose the players. Contracts usually aren’t guaranteed, the average player’s career is something like three concussion-filled years long (and the owners want two more games on the schedule, which should shorten the career span), player pension is terrible (although good financial planning would offset that) AND the owners want more money off the top, AND they just got caught trying to lockout-proof themselves with billions from TV networks. Also, most of them are billionaires with other businesses they can fall back on. Sorry for not feeling bad for any of them. Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement comes up after this season – if they’re smart, they’ll figure it out way before that.
- If you don’t like this, we’re no longer friends.
- Dave Hutte status update: “Set the date for the wedding. October 29.” Did I mention the reception is going to be a costume party?
Musical guest…Led Zeppelin!
Have a great weekend!
Some folks might wonder what it’s like to work in the luxurious front office compound of Parkview Field, sharing the same space as celebrities like the Bad Apple Dancers. Well, I’ll tell you two anecdotes from yesterday and let you come up with your own description.
1. At our weekly staff meeting, I brought a pack of 1991 WCW trading cards to show off the kind of bonus swag you get when you buy t-shirts from a good Columbus-based business called Homage. At least three people saw Chris Watson checking the cards out from across the room before the meeting started. Once the meeting ended, I thought I was going to be stampeded in the hallway by people demanding to see the cards. Pro wrestling trading cards. From 1991. It was like I was the first person on my block to buy a Game Boy and everyone was coming over “just to look at it,” inevitably playing Tetris for three hours.
2. Yesterday afternoon I went down to the main office and Brent Harring said he had a present for me. Already owning WCW trading cards, I thought I had it all, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Brent reached into a bag and handed me… a loaf of bread. But not just any loaf of bread. It was Aunt Millie’s thick-sliced brown sugar/cinnamon swirl. Brent, a bread connoisseur, knows I am an aspiring culinary expert and thought I should try it next time I make
French Freedom toast. In fact, the bread label says “Great for French Freedom toast” right on it. I’ll have a full report next week to confirm or deny that claim, but for now, the moral of the story is this: A TinCaps co-worker bought me bread as a gift. And I’m pretty excited about it.
- Fort Wayne alum OF Will Venable homered and the Padres beat the Rockies yesterday in a Spring Training game. Former TinCaps pitchers Matt Lollis, Colt Hynes and Brad Brach pitched an inning each. Lollis was the only one of the three to allow a run and it was unearned. And former TinCaps C Jason Hagerty singled in his only at-bat against a guy who had been at Triple-A the last two years.
- It was a San Diego love-fest when Padres RHP (and San Diego native) Aaron Harang started that game and his catcher was also from San Diego.
- Former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes now works for the Padres as a senior VP of baseball operations.
- Fort Wayne alum C A.J. Pierzynski got a speeding ticket… while in uniform, driving to a Spring Training game. Funniest part: his teammates wanted to take up a collection to pay to see him get tazed.
- Baseball America has the list of how much money each team spent on international signings in 2010. The Padres are 10th at $2.75 million.
- That $2.75 million could buy you 343,750 of these hot dogs: A one-pound dog with your choice of 40 toppings. Or you could just buy one and spend the rest on a good heart surgeon.
- That hot dog is being called “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” That’s utterly ridiculous; everybody knows Andre the Giant will forever hold that title.
- At least one writer won’t be writing ignorant things about umpires anymore. If there were two baseball-related things I could tell every fan, it would be (1) how the minor league-major league affiliation works and (2) how difficult umpiring is, especially in the minors.
- A hard-throwing Mariners prospect (and former MWLer) looked good.
- Former MWLer Neftali Feliz is going to start a game today. He was the Rangers’ closer last year but was a starter in the minors.
- The Cubs are fighting each other in the dugout during a Spring Training game and Carlos Zambrano isn’t involved? Ladies and gentlemen, your Chicago Cubs!
- Yesterday I linked to a Peter Gammons story about one of the secretly most important people in baseball who passed away recently. Jayson Stark wrote something about him, too.
- Gammons rounds up the AL East. Interesting points: Manny Ramirez is in good shape, Yankees LHP prospect Manny Banuelos is good and Red Sox LHP Andrew Miller is looking like he might be figuring things out.
- Philles OF prospect Domonic Brown is all kinds of messed up at the plate.
- Alex Rodriguez and now Mark Teixeira have fired Scott Boras lately. Robinson Cano hired him. Somehow I think Boras will still be able to afford mac and cheese for dinner tonight.
- At this point, I think it would be best to only alert the media when Joel Zumaya is healthy. Because it seems like he’s hurt a lot more than he’s healthy.
- One of the Braves’ young pitchers threw gas.
- Some Tigers prospects could get to Detroit this year.
- The Rockies want to run the bases more aggressively, even if it doesn’t mean stealing more bases.
- Now here are some March Madness seeding travesties we can really get into… In a video-game bracket, NBA Street is an eight-seed while Tecmo Super NBA Basketball is a seven-seed in the same region? Ridiculous.
Musical guest… Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears!
Last night I watched some of the MLB Network “30 Clubs in 30 Days” on the Rockies. The one thing that stood out to me was from a “wired for sound” clip of RHP Huston Street.
While doing whatever pitchers do when stretching at Spring Training, Street said something to the effect of, “All of last year, there were probably only one or two times when an umpire missed a [ball/strike] call. I’d think for sure they’d missed one, but I’d watch tape after the game and I was wrong; they were right.”
This is important for a couple of reasons: Most people who wear a professional baseball uniform sincerely believe they are always right, even when there’s substantial evidence to the contrary. Street, in particular, is from Texas, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Texan admit he or she is wrong. So this is truly groundbreaking stuff.
Secondly, Huston Street threw 714 pitches last year. SEVEN HUNDRED FOURTEEN. And of those 714 pitches, he says the umpires missed one or two calls. Obviously this is an obscenely small sample size, but the point is that umpires are pretty darn good at their jobs. Would replay help them get even more calls right? Sure, but it’s tough to implement until it can be collectively bargained.
Until then, I think we can preemptively cut umpires some slack and let them do their jobs. Deal?
- Lots of Fort Wayne alums saw the field yesterday in the Padres-Royals game. Mat Latos struggled with his command and Simon Castro gave up a couple of doubles, but Anthony Bass pitched a scoreless inning. The middle of the Padres’ order did well.
- Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy threw a 40-pitch bullpen session with some intensity and felt fine afterward.
- Fort Wayne alum OF Michael Cuddyer will miss 1-2 more weeks after having a wart removed from his foot.
- Not a whole lot notable about this week’s minor-league transactions, but here they are anyway.
- The Cardinals’ pitchers are dropping like flies.
- The Indians are planning to open the regular season without Grady Sizemore, but that could change.
- Former Midwest Leaguer RHP Jacob Turner pitched in an MLB spring training game and looked good.
- Brewers RHP Zack Greinke says he “doesn’t know why” he was a fan favorite in Kansas City and he hurt his ribs away from the field and it was “stupid.” This guy has unwittingly become one of the best interviews in baseball by simply being honest.
- One of the secretly-most-important (and nice) people in baseball passed away, says Peter Gammons.
- Every athlete claims he just ignores everything and tries to keep focused on playing the game, but with Josh Hamilton you get the feeling it’s actually true thanks to some of the things that have happened with him.
- Rich Eisen running the 40-yard dash is my favorite thing a sports TV host does all year. Because anyone who calls himself “an icon” immediately after running a 6.18-second 40-yard dash is OK with me. I’d like to think I run the fastest 40 of any radio guy in the Midwest League (if not all of baseball) and I’ll prove it anytime, anywhere.
- HUGE rec-league volleyball tournament tonight. Our team (soon to be known as the Malibu Sands Beach Club) may just be peaking at the right time.
Musical guest… Van Halen!