Saturday Night Fever, Nine Years in the Making, Sports on TV

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

On the first pitch he saw as a member of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, Travis Jankowski singled to left and recorded a base hit. In his 15th game in a TinCaps uniform, he celebrated another first–a walk-off hit as a professional baseball player.

The magic number was one on Saturday night for Fort Wayne. The Timber Rattlers scored once in the first, once in the second and the TinCaps answered with one in the bottom of the second. 2-1 was the score until the fifth inning. Wisconsin again scored once in the top half of the inning, and Fort Wayne plated a run in the bottom half. It was still a one-run game  at 3-2.

The TinCaps only faced on pitcher for the majority of the game. Timber Rattlers starter Chad Pierce muscled his way through nearly the entire game, surrendering just five base hits against Fort Wayne. He kept the ball down in the zone, inducing 12 ground ball outs to six fly outs, and he struck out four.

Finally, for the TinCaps, Pierce was pulled after a career-high eight innings.

Lee Orr tied the game with a single back up the middle, securing his first hit and first RBI since June 28th. He’d been on the disabled list for ten days, and was 0-11 since his return.

Kyle Gaedele laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Austin Hedges, who had singled, to third base and Orr to second. The Timber Rattlers elected to intentionally walk Tyler Stubblefield, giving them the option of a force at any base. That’s where Travis Jankowski came in.

He told The Journal Gazette:

“I was talking with (Padres Minor League Hitting Coordinator Sean) Berry the other day and he said, ‘Don’t try to do too much. Any ball that’s hit hard is going to get through. If you hit it right at someone, there’s nothing you can do about that,’ ” Jankowski said. “He just said, ‘Make solid contact like you can.’ ”

The contact was solid enough, as Jankowski singled past Wisconsin first baseman Mike Garza and sending his team to a win. Prior to Saturday night, the TinCaps had only won three games when they didn’t carry a lead into the ninth inning. While it marks their second walk-off win in less than one month, it’ll be one game Jankowski will remember for a long time to come.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, Travis Jankowski explains how a few tweaks to his swing helped him deliver a win on Saturday night:

NINE YEARS IN THE MAKING

I introduced you yesterday to Matt and Carolyn LaWell, the writers of A Minor League Season, a website dedicated to visiting all 120 full-season ballparks in minor league baseball and telling stories from each stop. Matt had been thinking about embarking on this journey for the last nine years, and now he and his wife are putting the plan into action. The duo was here in Fort Wayne yesterday and talked to TinCaps President Mike Nutter, groundskeeper Keith Winter and catcher Austin Hedges.

Matt and Carolyn have:

Spent 36 nights sleeping in their Honda Element

Visited every team in the California League, Florida State League, Texas League and Pacific Coast League

A cool license plate:

Mike Maahs sat down with Matt and Carolyn to talk about their travels, and you can hear that interview here:

SPORTS ON TV

Roone Arledge, the longtime president of ABC Sports who passed away in 2002, once wrote this:

‘A side effect of the struggle between the rival networks is that the public is beginning to judge the stature of sports events by how much money they command, or what their ratings are. Why this should have any bearing I can’t imagine.”

Take a guess at which year you think that passage was written…

Not 1996 or even 2006….that was written all the way back in 1966 in a commentary piece in Sports Illustrated: 

“But there’s more to it than dollars and cents, obviously. Today there is twice as much sport on national television as there was five years ago, and the relationship has become more subtle and profound. Is television having a salutary effect on sport? Or is it taking it over, changing it and running it?”

It was a piece that was pertinent then, and now with the ever-changing landscape of sports on both television and the internet, it still appears to have some current tones to it.

MUSICAL GUEST

Eddie Money…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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