Wild Thursday, Good Cause, Dealing and Wheeling

Thursday started off intriguing, and then just got downright crazy. First for the non-baseball part of the day…

Along with Padres video coordinator Ty Bowman, who works with the TinCaps, I went over to Notre Dame’s campus yesterday morning to take a look around and try and see all of the usual sights like The Grotto, The Golden Dome and the rest of the very lush, green campus. We saw all of those things. What we did not expect to see, was the inside of Notre Dame Stadium…but we did.

We’re walking around the outside of the football stadium around 11AM when we run into a group of four guys, one of whom asks us if we’re trying to get into the stadium.

“No luck,” he told us. “They did tell me that you could see into the stadium from one of the gates over around the other way.”

So we followed this gentleman, wearing a Carolina blue polo and chatting with a smooth, southern twang, around to the opposite side of the stadium, where all we got was a glimpse of the bare endzone. Not much to see, really.

Our new friend, who was from Charlotte, N.C, was travelling with three other men who were his business clients visiting from Turkey. Apparently he had them over here on a trip to look at some Midwestern cattle, which they’d be sending back to Turkey, I suppose. That’s not really a story you ask too many questions about. Anyway, as Ty and I are chatting with our friend, his comrades from Turkey are trying to finagle their way into the stadium. One maintenance worker drives by on a little cart and tells them that he can’t let them in. They were not deterred.

Ty and I were prepared to just head off on the rest of our tour of the campus and agree that we had given it our best effort to get into the stadium. Little did we realize the persuasive power of some of our Turkish visitors. They were chatting up another worker inside the stadium, who didn’t immediately walk away, and was even unhooking the keys from his belt. Success!

He let us all in and we got to go down on the field,  in what turned out to be a pretty cool experience:

That is, indeed, a Parkview Field polo I’m wearing.

So, thank you to our Turkish cattle-buying friends. We’ll never forget your undying efforts.

I should also tell you that the gentleman from North Carolina travels a lot for work, and has been to a TinCaps game before. Never know who you’ll meet out there, huh?

That was the not so crazy part of the day. There was still a baseball game to be played.

If you happened to tune in during the fifth inning wondering why Tyler Stubblefield was pitching, it’s because the TinCaps were already down 10-0, and the bullpen had pitched 7 1/3 innings the day before. Stubblefield tossed three innings in his second career appearance on the hill, and Travis Whitmore pitched the eighth inning. Final score: South Bend 16, Fort Wayne 0.

The game tied a franchise record for the largest margin of defeat. Never has the Fort Wayne club lost 16-0, but twice, during the Wizards days, did the team lose by 16 runs. The first was a 20-4 loss against the Michigan Battle Cats on May 18, 1996, and the second was against the Beloit Brewers on July 20, 1997.

The Battle Cats, by the way, have morphed and shifted over the years to become the Great Lakes Loons.

Fortunately for the TinCaps, Thursday was just one game. Fort Wayne is still very much in the playoff race and holds a three-game edge on Lake County, its next closest competitor in the hunt for a second-half playoff spot.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my pre-game chat with Lee Orr:

FOR A GOOD CAUSE

Justin Cohn, who covers the Komets for The Journal Gazette, is currently auctioning off a number of items through his Ice Chips blog, with all of the proceeds going to the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance. Here, in his words, is the reason for the auction:

“Here at Ice Chips, I’d like to do something to help the victims affected by the shootings in Aurora, Colo.

There are so many stories that I found sad, like the one of Jessica Redfield, an aspiring hockey writer.

I have asked for assistance from Komets players and other athletes, and they’ve been more than willing to help, so we’re going to have an auction of items they have put up. I have offered up items of my own, too.

As other items come in — and some of them may be from other sports — I will add them to the list.

All of the money raised will go to the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance.

So here’s how this will work: I will list items below, noting at what time the auction for that item will close. I will put a minimum bid and periodically update with the highest bid. To make a bid, email it directly to me at jcohn@jg.net with auction in the subject line.”

As a TinCaps fan reading this blog, you might be interested in this item:

2012 TinCaps jersey, size medium (they run large), road gray, signed by team: Minimum bid $50. Close date Aug. 5.

Here is the link to Justin’s blog, where you can find that jersey, along with a number of other sports memorabilia, including many great Fort Wayne-related items: http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120722/BLOGS11/120729904/1210/sports06

It’s a great effort by Justin, who notes that even if you don’t want to bid on an item, you’re still welcome to make a donation.

HE DEALS AND HE WHEELS

TinCaps catcher Austin Hedges has had a heck of a year here in Fort Wayne: He’s hitting .257, is tied for the team lead with eight home runs and tied for second with 41 runs batted in. There’s also the fact that he’s hands-down the best defensive catcher in the league.

Curt Rallo, who writes s prospect notebook for the Midwest League’s website, featured Hedges this week:

Fort Wayne skipper Jose Valentin loves the passion that Padres’ 2011 second-round pick Austin Hedges has for the game, but the 19-year-old’s full-throttle approach also brings concerns.

“For a catcher, he likes to run,” Valentin said. “Sometimes he gets crazy stealing the bases. I know he’s young, but I tell him, ‘You feel good now, but when you’re 30, you’re going to start feeling it. It’s nice to play hard and aggressive, but remember, you’re playing in a tough position. There’s not too many guys who can squat down for nine innings and run crazy. You have to take care of your body, because you’re going to need it later on.'”

Hedges is 13-for-19 in stolen base attempts and is batting .261 on the season, which includes a .227 mark in July. But he has no plans to dial back the intensity.

“I feel great,” Hedges said. “I want to be out here every day. Obviously, the second half hasn’t been quite as good as the first half, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the longevity of the season. Once I started going through a bit of a slump, I started thinking too much and trying to do too much. But my body feels good, like the beginning of the year.”

Tonight is the last game for Fort Wayne at Coveleski Stadium in the regular season. They won’t be back unless they meet South Bend in the playoffs. Hedges may not want to leave the Cove, seeing as he’s hit two grand slams there this year.

MUSICAL GUEST

The Black Keys…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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