Ten to Go, Rule Book, Tie Your Shoes, Your Questions

Greetings from the lobby of the Lexington Lansing hotel, one of the finer places to rest one’s head in the Midwest League. It’s a bustling Saturday here–a few engaged couples touring the building and trying to see if it’d be the right fit for their wedding reception, the Eastern Kentucky women’s volleyball team trekking by en route to a match with Michigan State, and, of course, the TinCaps.

When you’re walking through a hotel lobby, unless you’re Lady Gaga, you’re not much of anything to anyone. A lobby is a place to pass through on your way in from a night of travel, or to quickly grab a seat before heading out for a long day. And so as the TinCaps walk through the lobby of the hotel today and get on their bus to head to the ballpark, they might catch a few stares–“Who are those tall guys?”, “Do you know what language they’re speaking?”. It’s Spanish, for the record. For the most part, though, they’ll go unnoticed, like a single leaf falling from a tree.

Once they make the 15-minute trip over to Cooley Law School Stadium, they’ll become noticed–the green and grey uniform tends to have that effect. They’ll go from regular guys in jeans and dri-fit shirts to a team fighting for a playoff spot, and perhaps a team with some extra moxie today, after what happened last night.

Matt Wisler pitched maybe the outing of his career–a one-hit, six-inning shutout performance. He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, and retired the side in order in four of his six innings of work. And then there was the seventh inning.

Fort Wayne was leading,4-0, when the inning began, but when it ended they were losing, 5-4. That was also the game’s final score. Dennis O’Grady faced six batters, walking four of them and providing West Michigan a run. The Whitecaps only had two hits in the inning. With James Jones on the mound there was a stolen base of home, a two-run single and another RBI single that quickly took the wind out of the sails last night.

The TinCaps still control their own destiny, entering today’s play as the wild card in the Eastern Division. There is cause for concern, though:

In the last six games (1-5 record), the TinCaps bullpen has given up 19 runs over the course of 22 1/3 innings (7.66 ERA).  In this six-game window, starting pitching has compiled a 2.43 ERA (8 ER in 29 2/3 IP). Over the last three games,  Fort Wayne has received 17 scoreless innings between Ruben Mejia, James Needy and Matt Wisler.

West Michigan is two games back of Fort Wayne, and with 10 games to play–it’s anyone’s race.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I talk with San Diego native James Needy, who’s enjoyed the transition from bullpen fixture to starting pitcher:

FINAL 20 DAYS

Here’s an interesting note from the rules of Minor League Baseball. Yesterday the Tincaps made a move to add pitcher Jeremy Gigliotti to their roster, filling the spot vacated by Daniel Cropper’s trip to the disabled list. Gigliotti, who was drafted by the Padres last year, had been on the disabled list at Advanced-A Lake Elsinore since June 30th.

The rules state that over the final 20 days of the season any downward moves (player coming from a higher level to a lower level) must be approved:

“Major League Rule 2, titled “Player Limits”, describes the active player limits (see 2 (c) (2)) for Minor
League clubs.

During the last 20 days of a Minor League season each organization must receive prior approval from the Minor League Baseball office before making a downward assignment. Minor League Baseball administers this policy for the Baseball Office of the Commissioner under the good faith understanding that Major League clubs would not make downward assignments for the purpose of affecting the standings of lower level leagues.”

For the Midwest League, those final 20 days from from August 15 until September 3. So for the move the TinCaps had to their roster yesterday, the Padres had to send a note to the office of Pat O’Conner, the President of Minor League Baseball, to ensure that it was OK. Gigliotti pitched one scoreless inning last night.

APROPOS OF NOTHING

It appears there is a shoe-untying epidemic at West Michigan’s Fifth Third Ballpark. I snapped this right outside their concessions employee gathering area, which also just happens to be next to the TinCaps clubhouse.

Questions for workers include:

1. Are my shoes tied?

2.Are they tied tightly?

3. Are they tied fashionably?

4. Do I have big bunny ears?

5. Or do I just have little knots?

6. Can I throw them over my shoulder? Do your bows, (sic) hang low?

Courtesy of the TinCaps Amateur Photography Department

The lesson remains as pertinent now as it did in pre-school…don’t forget to tie your shoes.

YOUR QUESTIONS

This is a yes and no answer for me. Yes, it is difficult because you do get to know the players over the course of the nearly six months that you spend with them. You meet their families, learn about their backgrounds and get to know them on a very personal level just because of how much time you spend in close quarters like the bus or a hotel lobby. On top of that, you know that their friends and families will be listening each night and whatever you say–positive or negative–will likely be relayed back to them. The emotional part of you doesn’t want to be critical of people whom you know well.

However, there’s also the broadcasting side of things which requires you to be objective and describe things as clearly as you can. I think a good broadcaster will say if a team is playing poorly and have that come across not necessarily in what words he or she chooses, but in the way that he or she says them. Take last night’s seventh inning, for example. The TinCaps were up, 4-0, and looked to be on their way to a second straight win. Instead, there was a bases loaded walk, a steal of home and they trailed, 5-4, when the inning was over. My tone in that inning, as the TinCaps broadcaster, couldn’t be elated. I was a bit down, as I think those listening would be, too. It’s disappointing to see a team that you work with for an entire season, and that has a chance to make the postseason, have a game slip away that quickly. As the broadcaster for a certain team, rather than for a national audience, you’ve got to understand what your audience is feeling, and have that come across in your call of the game. While I won’t be lighting off a sparkler in the booth on a home run, I will get excited. Conversely, when the team struggles, I won’t be cursing mad, but I believe the audience wants you to share in what they’re feeling as the team tries to keep things together.

I realize that’s a very complicated answer to a very complicated question, but it’s something I think about often and talk about with other broadcasters, because it’s a fine line that has to be handled with care.

MUSICAL GUEST

Cake…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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