April 2012

Early Game, Difference Makers, Podcast

Monday morning ‘s 11:05 first pitch against Peoria gives the TinCaps a chance to erase a Sunday game that got away from them early. A Taylor Davis grand slam off of Matt Wisler in the third inning made a 1-0 Chiefs lead a 5-0 advantage, and they didn’t look back from there, winning 5-2.

Fort Wayne got two runs on a Travis Whitmore single in the eighth, but that was the full extent of the scoring for the home nine on Sunday afternoon. Although Wisler went just 2 2/3, the bullpen came in and finished the game without allowing a run over the final 6 1/3 innings.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, take a listen back to the highlights from Sunday’s game, in addition to what Manager Jose Valentin says his team needs to do to stay competitive in ballgames:

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Double the Fun, Old Time NYC, Podcast

A 6-5 win by the TinCaps on Saturday gave the team a couple milestones on the season. First, it was the largest deficit they’ve overcome to win a ballgame this season. They trailed 3-0 after the top of the first, and later trailed 5-2. That was a promising sign for an offense that is starting to come to life.

The second marker of success in the game was the seven doubles that the team collected off of Peoria pitching. That number is just one shy of the franchise record for two-baggers in a game. Eight doubles in one game has occurred twice: May 31st of 2008 against Dayton, and last year 366 days prior on April 27 against Lake County.

Interesting side note–In that game against Dayton, the winning pitcher for Fort Wayne was Jeremy Hefner. He recently became the 108th former Fort Wayne player to reach the bigs. Hefner did it as a member of the New York Mets, as he pitched three scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, we’ll re-live the highlights of Saturday’s win, and hear from Corey Adamson, who scored two runs, and despite being Australian, explains why he doesn’t like cricket:

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Gaedele Feature, Something Heavy, Something Light

BYE BYE BURLINGTON

The departing Bees clobbered the TinCaps 10-1 on Friday night at Parkview Field. The nine runs were the largest margin of defeat for Fort Wayne and the four errors tied a season high.

Now the Peoria Chiefs, Midwest League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, roll into town for three. Remember– game times for this series are all different. Saturday is 5:05, Sunday is 3:05 and Monday is 11:05.

Today we present a special TinCaps Report Podcast. This is a feature story on Fort Wayne outfielder (and former Valparaiso Crusader) Kyle Gaedele. It’s a nice piece of storytelling from TinCaps Broadcasting and Media Relations Intern Tom Felice, who you hear on all home radio broadcasts with Mike Maahs. Please have a listen:

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Lip Sweaters, Life Begins at 40, WinCaps

The first two games between the Bees and the TinCaps have been extremely enjoyable to watch. The games have featured strong pitching, timely offense and well-played defense. In Thursday night’s game, it was the offense that broke out early with both teams scoring two runs in their respective halves of the first inning. For Fort Wayne, it was Travis Whitmore hitting a two-run shot over the wall in right, which as he said after the game, carried up into the “jetstream”. The wind was blowing out to right, but he got enough on it that it would’ve been gone either way.

Fort Wayne’s Frank Garces pitched five innings and struck out seven, vaulting himself into the lead for strikeouts within the Padres player development system. The bullpen was as good as it’s been all year as Johnny Barbato, newcomer Daniel Cropper and Matt Stites worked four innings without giving up a hit or a walk. Cropper pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for his first win.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear the highlights from last night’s game, including post-game reaction from Whitmore, Donavan Tate and Manager Jose Valentin:

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K’s All Around, From DC to GU, Text-Only Instagram

STRIKEOUT CENTRAL

Wednesday’s series opener against Burlington was nothing shy of a pitcher’s duel. Bees starter Sean Murphy struck out 13 batters, a new career high, and TinCaps starter Cody Hebner fanned seven in a losing effort. A three-run homer surrendered by Hebner with two out in the fifth proved to be the difference as Fort Wayne lost 3-1.

From today’s game notes:

  •  Shortstop Jace Peterson has now reached base in seven of the last eight games, after going 2-4 on Wednesday night. The 18 runs that Peterson has scored in 20 games leads the Midwest League. Burlington’s Dusty Robinson is second with 15.
  •  Front End Ferocity: Starter Frank Garces ranks second in the league among starting pitchers with a .128 batting average against him. Rotation-mate Adys Portillo ranks third, with opposing batters hitting .132 during his time on the hill. After last night’s seven-strikeout performance, Cody Hebner ranks fourth in the MWL with 23 strikeouts.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear the highlights from Wednesday’s game, and post-game reaction from Hebner and Fort Wayne catcher Matt Colantonio:

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Road Trip Split, Even Harvard’s Complaining, Don’t Judge

BACK HOME

The TinCaps first six-game road trip of the year came to an end with a 7-3 win on Tuesday afternoon in Clinton, Iowa . The game started slowly, but finished with a bang for Fort Wayne, as the team scored four runs in the top of the ninth—all with two outs—and salvaged the three-game set with the Clinton LumberKings. While the bullpen had surrendered leads on Sunday and Monday, Tuesday it was the bullpen hanging on after starter Matt Wisler left the game, and then the offense putting it away.

Wisler went six innings but did not earn the win. Johnny Barbato pitched the seventh and the eighth, facing just seven batters, and Matt Stites pitched the ninth, allowing just a single, to silence the LumberKings over the final three frames.

Jace Peterson drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out hit for the win. It was Matt Colantonio who scored on that single, and he happened to be my guest on our pregame show Tuesday afternoon. Of the many things we talked about, one of them was his exceptional educational record. Colantonio has dual degrees from Brown in both economics and history.  In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, he’ll explain how his educational background helps him when he’s behind the plate:

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Baseball Economics, 50 Years From Now, Zzzzzzzip!

Today is a 12:30 central time first pitch here in Clinton, and it’s a school day. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of school children will file into Ashford University Field for this afternoon’s game. Some of them are peering into my booth as I write this. Good morning, children.

Fort Wayne lost yesterday 5-3 in game two of this three-game series. Both games the TinCaps have played here in Clinton have taken the same path. They’ve jumped out to a 3-0 lead, only to see it evaporate over the course of the evening. Yesterday, it was a 3-2 lead heading into the eighth inning, but Colin Rea surrendered a solo home run and a two-run home run in the inning, and the LumberKings picked up the win. Now the TinCaps will look to salvage the set before returning home for six games.

Of note in yesterday’s game was pitcher Joe Ross’ performance. He walked the first two batters of the game, but went on to strike out seven, a new career-high, and didn’t allow an earned run.

In today’s TinCaps report podcast, I chat with catcher Matt Colantonio. Not only has he filled in superbly for Austin Hedges, but he’s also got not one, but two degrees from an Ivy League institution. He’ll tell us about how he got Joe Ross to pitch “backwards” to success in last night’s game, and why he’s more of an analytical guy than a theoretical one:

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Shipers’ Long Road, True Connections, Chronicling Life

Game one in Clinton was not as friendly to the TinCaps as they would have hoped. Despite taking a 3-0 lead in the third inning, Fort Wayne didn’t score again for the rest of the afternoon. The LumberKings scored once in the fourth, and then two more runs each in the fifth, sixth and seventh for a 7-3 victory. The loss fell on the TinCaps bullpen, which is the sixth time in their 11 losses that that has happened.

Of note in this series for Fort Wayne, is that two players return back to their home state. Travis Whitmore (Burlington) and Colin Rea (Cascade) are both from Iowa. I ran into Travis’ mother yesterday while I was fetching my pregame meal, and she was very happy to be seeing her son playing back in Iowa. Travis told me that he had about nine or 10 family members at the game on Sunday.

Additionally, TinCaps infielder Zach Kometani’s older brother, Paul, was once a LumberKing. Paul, a pitcher, played in Clinton during the 2005 season.

Paul Kometani in 2005

He made 13 appearances, 9 starts, and went 3-2, with a 2.40 ERA.

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Today Fort Wayne’s Joe Ross takes the hill, and he’ll be opposed by Jordan Shipers. The lefty from Bethany, MO, population 3,087, didn’t play high school baseball because his school didn’t have a team. Here are some details from a story written last summer about Shipers:

“The local high school, South Harrison, had just 400 students and did not have a baseball program. There weren’t any summer team opportunities beyond Little League.

So when Shipers was 12 his mother, Debbie, decided to take the dramatic step of driving her son to Kansas City to play baseball, about 100 miles away.

This became Shipers’ routine through high school. The two would drive to Kansas City three times a week for practices, then again on the weekends for games. The round trip lasted three hours. Because Shipers is a pitchers, sometimes those three hours of travel ended up being for as little as 45 minutes worth of practice. When Shipers had multiple games on a Saturday with time in between, he’d head to a nearby skate park to pass the time — much to his coach’s chagrin.”

The only other player who I can think of in Minor League Baseball like Shipers is Brandon Nimmo, the Mets’ first round pick last year. Nimmo grew up in Wyoming, one of three states without high school baseball (Montana and South Dakota are the other two), and had to play American Legion baseball to get noticed. If you know of any other players like this, please let me know. The email is Couzens@TinCaps.com

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my Sunday Conversation with TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin, where we’ll talk about what helped the team to a back-to-back wins over the weekend, the return of Casey McElroy, and the squad’s starting pitching:

SPOT-ON COMMENTARY

Do you ever have one of those moments where you read something and find your self nodding your head in a moment of complete agreement? That’s what happened to me after yesterday’s game when I got back to the team hotel. I read this piece from The New York Times entitled “The Flight From Conversation”. It laments the loss of real, everyday, meaningful conversation with one another, which has been replaced with online blips of interaction:

“We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.”

I think I’m one of the first people to be guilty of this kind of thing. I was on the phone with a friend last night, and he relayed a funny bit of conversation he’d had with someone saying, “If you want to get in touch with me, you can do office intranet chat, GMail chat, work email, personal email, Facebook message, Facebook chat, phone call, text message, Twitter @ reply, Twitter direct message. Ok, I think I’ve named them all.” Look at that list! Didn’t it just used to be either face-t0-face or a phone call?

“I am a partisan for conversation. To make room for it, I see some first, deliberate steps. At home, we can create sacred spaces: the kitchen, the dining room. We can make our cars “device-free zones.”

This is what I do when I go to the gym. I lock my phone away in the locker room and take some time to enjoy solitude (relatively speaking, considering I’m surrounded by people, music and televisions) and freedom from being around my phone. I use my cellphone for email ,Twitter, Facebook, etc., so to not think or worry about that for an hour or so a day is a nice feeling. I have no interest in texting while I’m on the elliptical, anyway.

“Most of all, we need to remember — in between texts and e-mails and Facebook posts — to listen to one another, even to the boring bits, because it is often in unedited moments, moments in which we hesitate and stutter and go silent, that we reveal ourselves to one another.”

It’s just so true. So last night, I called a couple of my friends–one from college and another from home. I learned that one friend has a new girlfriend, and is enjoying life in New York City. I learned that another is going to be starting a new job in  Connecticut this summer. I laughed. I learned. I was human.

Even though I’m in Iowa and was talking to people thousands of miles away, I had an experience that no Twitter or Facebook conversation could replicate.

SMART THINKING

I’ve very few memories before I was, say, in kindergarten. Some people can think back to when they were really young and remember what life was like, but I don’t think that strong memory gene runs in the Couzens bloodline. A certain father out there, knowing that his own child might want to know what she looked and acted like when she was young, decided to take a video of his daughter from when she was born until she turned 12. It’s fun to watch, and reminds me of this video, where a guy took a picture of himself every day for six years.

Since I can’t embed the 0-12 years old video, here’s a link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/thefalafel/amazing-12-year-time-lapse-video-of-a-girl-named-l-4x8q.

MUSICAL GUEST

Brantley Gilbert…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

Iowa, The Black Keys, A Taxonomy of Office Chairs

Hello from Clinton, Iowa home of the LumberKings, and Flava Flav’s fried chicken restaurant, Flav’s Fried Chicken. Apparently much has been written about this establishment, I must go visit during my three days here.

Here’s my view for the next few games:

Clinton's Ashford University Field

As I’m typing this, a very loud train is rumbling by in the background. That makes it two straight parks with trains that run nearby.

Before the TinCaps arrived here in Clinton, though, they took two of three from the Kane County Cougars. Although the Cougars have the league’s most prolific offense, they’ve also committed the league’s most errors. Those two don’t always mix well. Fort Wayne dropped game one of the series, but outscored Kane County 19-3 over the last two games. The TinCaps have now won back-to-back games for the first time all year and that was also their first series victory in five tries.

Frank Garces came out throwing strikes on Saturday and turned in easily the best starting pitching performance we’ve seen all year. In eight innings, he allowed just two runs and four hits. Two of the hits and both of the runs happened to score in the eighth, by the way. The lefty also retired stretches of six, and eight, consecutive batters during his outing.

Take a listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast to hear the highlights of yesterday’s action:

IF YOU’VE NEVER LISTENED TO THE BLACK KEYS, YOU’RE MISSING OUT

That basically sums up my entire thought process on what I needed to say here. However, if you’d like more information, please, I implore you to watch this profile that CBS Sunday Morning did on the two-man group from Akron, Ohio. The Black Keys are a stellar rock group, and as the story says, if you haven’t heard of them, you’ve surely heard their music, as it’s been used in over 300 commercials and movies.

Here’s one of my favorite songs from their latest album, El Camino:

Click here to watch the story from CBS.

If you’ve ever got any musical suggestions for the blog, or for long bus rides (we may or may not have a few this season), please do share!

A TAXONOMY OF OFFICE CHAIRS

Everyone’s had an office chair that they’ve strongly disliked. Whether you’ve had one you love is a different story. But we’ve all got an office chair story, that’s for sure. Here’s my broadcast throne for this three-game set:

I dub thee Blue Thunder.

I remember when, the summer after high school, I interned for the city court in my hometown. I, being the intern, got the lowliest of office chairs. Not only did it have several mysterious and inexplicable stains on it, but the armrest part (you know, that’s supposed to be soft and cushy?) looked like it had been gnawed away by a hungry rabbit. I do not miss that chair.

Author Jonathan Olivares has written “A Taxonomy of Office Chairs” which serves as a thorough documentation of office chairs throughout the years. The Los Angeles Review of Books did what they do…and reviewed the book.

“The chair also came to confer and confirm hierarchy. After all, the workplace conditions us to covet minor status symbols: an additional window, a few more cubic feet of space, a personal stapler; why not an ornate, hand-carved headrest (or, if you worked at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a dodecagon base)? In the 1950s and ’60s, the distinctions between rank found blunt expression in chair design, naming and price point; Knoll, for example, produced “Executive,” “Advanced Management,” and “Basic Operational” chairs in the late 1970s. Recall the archetypal scenes where the boss, back to the door, protected by an exaggerated, double-spine headrest, slowly swivels around to meet the eyes of his waiting subordinate, impotent in a stationary four-legger.”

 I find this to be a fascinatingly exhaustive review of an object that can appear so mundane, but when you think about it–we spend nearly33% of our time in our office chair.

MUSICAL GUEST

It had to be The Black Keys:

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

LOL (But Seriously), ¡Jambalaya!, Podcast

Fort Wayne’s offense exploded for a season-high 12 runs and 16 hits as the TinCaps obliterated the Kane County Cougars on Friday night.

Travis Whitmore went 4-5 and Justin Miller finished with a three-hit performance. Whitmore and Kyle Gaedele plated three runs, and  Duanel Jones, along with Matt Colantonio, had two runs batted in.  A 7-for-11 mark with runners in scoring position was also a season best. Cody Hebner pitched five innings, allowing just one run, for the win. The bullpen was brilliant, too, working four innings and giving up just a hit.

A win would give the TinCaps their first back-to-back wins of the year and it would be the team’s first series victory in five tries.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear the highlights from Friday’s win, and we stop in with the roster’s newest addition, catcher Jeremy Rodriguez:

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