Pitching to Victory, Behind the Flyover, Words to Live By

Tonight is the first time since July 16th that the TinCaps will play at Parkview Field. Last they were home, they finished off a series with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, and then had a day off following that series finale. Since the team has been out of town, they went on a 5-1 road trip through the Western Division, sweeping Cedar Rapids and taking two of three from Quad Cities.

Over the last seven games, the TinCaps have scored no fewer than six runs in any one game. Here’s a bit of a roller coaster statistic for you:

Going into the game on July 16, only one time in the past eight days had a TinCaps starter pitched more than 4 1/3 innings. In that time, the starters had a 9.22 ERA.

Entering today’s game, Fort Wayne pitchers have worked to a 1.21 ERA over the last six games. In four of the six games on the road trip, the starter went either five or six innings, and one of the starts was from Chris Fetter, who is limited to three or four innings in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Quite simply, good pitching will win ballgames. Now it doesn’t hurt to score six, seven or eight runs a game, either, but the pitching has been phenomenal lately. With the loss of Adys Portillo, things will be a little different for Fort Wayne, but the rotation is still very good with the likes of Frank Garces and Matt Wisler pitching as well as they are.

Speaking of Portillo, he made his first Double-A start last night:

Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Missions

It wasn’t the smoothest start for Port, who went 2 1/3 innings and gave up four earned runs while walking three and striking out two. Nobody, including Padres Director of Player Development Randy Smith or Fort Wayne pitching coach Willie Blair, said they thought Portillo would dominate Double-A. They think it’ll be his next challenge, and that he’s up to the task. Last week I asked Blair if he thought Portillo was past the level of competition the Midwest League has to offer:

“I’m kind of torn on that. After seeing him struggle the way he struggled last year, I would’ve liked to have seen him finish out the season here and enjoy the success that he’s had,” Blair said. ” On the other hand, I don’t want to hold the kid back either. He probably would’ve ended up having unbelievable numbers here, which is not a bad thing but at the same time he probably needs to be challenged a little bit and I think he will definitely be challenged at Double-A.”

———-

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my conversation with the reigning Midwest League Player of the Week, Tyler Stubblefield. He’ll tell us about the team’s winning road trip, and about the adjustment he made over the offseason to better his swing:

HOW DO THEY DO IT?

On June 12 this year, the TinCaps had a flyover from two A-10 Thunderbolts from the 122nd Fighter Wing Air National Guard. I wondered that day, “How do they time their flight path so that they cross over the stadium right at the end of the national anthem? Now I know:

“Well, the answer might lie partially in that one word: military. 

“We do similar things a lot in all of military aviation, where you have to be at a site at a particular time,” says Marine Capt. Emily Miller, a helicopter pilot who has flown missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and recently led a two-chopper flyover at Petco Park in San Diego. “It’s really not a lot different.” 

At 1,000 feet — the minimum altitude — planes can feel very close to spectators in stadiums.

For a pilot to get to his or her TOT — time on target, in military speak — is just another day in the airborne office. 

Because sports events involve detailed pregame scripting, a team or league can provide pilots with a specific time they want the flyover to occur (say, for instance, 12:58 p.m. for a 1:05 p.m. baseball game). 

Combine that specific time with (1) backed-out calculations for takeoff, distance and air speed; (2) a pre-specified holding area where aircraft can circle or hover to kill time if necessary; and (3) a forward air controller inside the stadium for last-minute guidance, and presto, you’ve got aircraft zooming overhead while fans are still standing with their hands over their hearts. 

“We like it to happen right at the last note. Right as it ends,” says Mike Berentson, a former Marine major and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who now serves as the director of military affairs for the San Diego Padres. 

The biggest challenge? 

“Paperwork and weather,” he says. “

Read the full article on ESPN.com.

WORDS TO LIVE BY

Saw this great tweet last night from Tyler Kepner, who is the national baseball writer for The New York Times, and I really wanted to share it:

Here’s the quote:

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

–John Lennon

While that would be a rather erudite thing for a schoolchild to say, it’s still a quote that makes you stop and think, “Yeah. He’s right.”

MUSICAL GUEST

Ray Charles…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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