Walks, Skyping It In, Attention Grabber

Walks, walks and more walks were the story of Thursday night’s 6-2 TinCaps loss at Parkview Field. Fort Wayne coughed up a season-high nine free passes, as the Beloit Snappers evened the three-game series at one game each.

For just the third time all season, TinCaps pitcher Adys Portillo had more walks in a game than he did strikeouts, allowing three runners aboard on walks and fanning two.

“You never thought Portillo was going to have an outing like the one he had,” Manager Jose Valentin said after the game. “He looked like he wasn’t comfortable for four innings. His pitch count was high, close to 80 pitches in four innings. his fastball wasn’t that sharp and he didn’t have command of his breaking ball.”

Portillo threw 79 pitches, 43 of which were strikes.

“We ran into a pretty good left handed pitcher,” Valentin observed. That his team did, facing Jason Wheeler. The lefty went eight innings, allowed just two runs, walked one and struck out five. It was the second time all year Wheeler had gone eight full innings. The Torrance, California, native earned his 10th win of the year, joining Drew Granier of Burlington as the only other pitcher with 10 wins.

As good as Wheeler was, the TinCaps were on the opposite end of the spectrum. Of the five pitchers who took the mound Thursday, only one–Johnny Barbato–didn’t issue a walk. Luis De La Cruz faced four batters in the seventh inning and walked three of them.

“It’s not how many hits you get, it’s how many runs you’ve got,” Valentin said. On Thursday the Snappers had both more runs (6) and hits (7) than the TinCaps did.

Tonight provides a chance for yet another series victory. Fort Wayne has won five of the first six series of the second half, and puts its hopes on the shoulders of Colin Rea to try and deliver a win in the series finale against Beloit.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Manager Jose Valentin as he explains where things went wrong for his team on Thursday night:

SKYPING IT IN

In the 20th century there was phoning it in and getting posterized. Now instead of ending up on a poster if you get dunked on in a basketball game, you get YouTubed–someone is posting that online within the next 30 minutes, if not sooner.

But phoning it in is so old school. Who really talks on the phone? Aren’t they just for texting and playing Words With Friends?

What? They’re not? Oh…

Well as the 21st century phrase to replace “phoning it in”, I present “Skyping it in”, as the public address announcer from the Hudson Valley Renegades recently did. From Baseball Digest:

“Rick Zolzer of the Hudson Valley Renegades (short season A; NY-Penn League) became the first P.A. announcer to perform his duties from home via Skype.

Zolzer delivered every player introduction, announcement and between-inning contest while sitting poolside at the comfort of his own home.

“We are always looking to use technology in new ways,” said Hudson Valley Renegades General Manager Eben Yager, “and tonight it gave us the opportunity to do something fun that no other team in sports has accomplished.”  Fans were able to follow Zolzer by watching the ballpark videoboard throughout the game.”

And now for my next trick…

ATTENTION GRABBER

Today marks the release of a movie, “Ballplayer: Pelotero” that features Beloit third baseman Miguel Sano. It’s a controversial film among baseball circles because of its subject nature. From The New York Times:

“Latin American names are common on major league rosters these days, but how those players end up in a Dodgers or Mets or Red Sox uniform may not be something the casual baseball fan has given much thought. “Ballplayer: Pelotero” is a stark documentary that examines that process in the Dominican Republic, a significant source of players.

Forget feel-good boys-of-summer tales. This film shows a shady business in which scouts and the teams they represent try to manipulate teenage players, and to some extent the players do some manipulating of their own.

The film follows two well-regarded young players, Miguel Sano and Jean Batista, as they approach the date when 16-year-olds are eligible to sign. The trainers who have helped them develop their skills are hoping for fat contracts, of which they would receive a percentage, but the major league teams want to keep the signing bonuses down.”

More from Yahoo! Sports:

“Sano dropped out of school at 12 to enroll in the Dominican baseball machine full-time. The trainers, known as buscones, seek the most talented kids on the island and house them, feed them and clothe them in exchange for 25 to 35 percent of their signing bonus when they turn 16, MLB’s minimum age for foreign players. Teams signed almost 400 Dominican players last year. They spent upward of $90 million on international players, the majority of that going to Dominicans.

It’s not just the exorbitant money that urges players and trainers to resort to any and all means. Even meager bonuses of $10,000 represent a windfall to the 42.2 percent of Dominicans who, according to U.S. government statistics, live below the poverty line.

“I do believe there are some issues that are inherent to the country and to its culture – the poverty – that are going to make it difficult for baseball ever to be completely confident the signing of players is totally above board and consistent with what we would expect to be good standards of conducting business,” said Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, who previously spent a year working for MLB trying to overhaul its Dominican operations. “At the same time, MLB cannot just sit idly and allow these things to happen. If nothing else, it can hold these clubs accountable for the things that happen there and do as much as it can to police the market.”

The current collective bargaining agreement in Major League Baseball limits what teams can spend in Latin America to $2.9 million between July 2, 2012 and July 1, 2013.

Here is the trailer for the movie:

MUSICAL GUEST

Frank Ocean…take it away!

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

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