August 2012

Friday Notes, It’s Back, Funny Feeling, Theme Night

After last night’s rain-shortened loss, here are a few notes to get you ready for tonight’s rubber match against West Michigan:

-Over the last two nights, the TinCaps have put together four and three base hits, respectively. The last time Fort Wayne was limited to fewer than five hits was in a 2-1 loss at Great Lakes on June 29, when the TinCaps had four hits. The TinCaps were held to one hit on June 12 at Lansing,  but had not until this two-game span, been limited to fewer than five hits in back-to-back ballgames this year.

- James Needy makes his first start of the season tonight. In 33 combined appearances between Fort Wayne (28), Double-A San Antonio (2) and Triple-A Tucson (3), Needy has pitched exclusively in relief. The last start for the righthander came on September 2, 2011, when he was a member of the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. Last year with Eugene, Needy went 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 starts.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, we re-visit Jace Peterson’s comments from two nights ago, as he talks about generating offense from the top of the lineup:

IT’S BAAACCCKKKKK

If you’re a fan of the ESPN “30 for 30″ series–good news. It returns in October. Here’s the new trailer:

A UNIQUE FEELING

The host of one of my favorite podcasts, Radiolab, recently wrote a great post, as he puts it, on “the gut-twisting discomfort of creativity.” Jad Abumrad, who started the program back in 2002, says he had no idea where he was headed when the show started…and that was a good thing in the long run.

“Jad reflects on the birth of Radiolab, the ways we discover things without realizing it, the difficulty of changing, and the burdens of geniushood. You can hear early mock-ups, seminal conversations, inspirational moments, and thoughts about what to do next.”

Here’s the story: http://transom.org/?p=28787

While this is a piece about starting a radio show, it’s really about more than that:

“Get comfortable with the idea that you won’t know what’s good until it’s already happened.

Not to say you shouldn’t make plans. You should. But if your real aim is to be surprised, plans only get you so far.

And so now, at Radiolab, our process contains an irritating but vital amount of “recognition time.”

We decide on an experiment, try not to overthink it, then do it. Quickly. Then we tear it apart. What worked? What didn’t?

(Actually, in the end, who cares what didn’t work. Most things don’t work. Better to ask, what can I carry forward?)

So there’s a question of what to do with a moment like that, what to do with the gut churn and the existential dread that is inevitable when you find yourself way outside your comfort zone.

Milton Erickson, the great psychologist, had this idea that you can reframe anything. You can take the worst feeling in the world and “reframe” it so that that terrible feeling becomes its own solution.

And I think about moments like that now, and I think, I can either run from that feeling, we as a community can either run from that feeling, or we can run TO that feeling. We can treat that feeling as an arrow that we need to follow.

Like, OK, I’m about to vomit, my stomach is about to leap out of my mouth…but maybe that just means I’m on the right track. Maybe that just means I’m doing my job.”

Also, they created this really cool video called “Moments” back in 2009. You’ll definitely enjoy it and relate to it:

TONIGHT

Is Jimmy Buffett night at the ballpark. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.

If you place Office Space in your Top-5 greatest movies of all-time, we can be friends. If you’ve never seen the movie, you’ve now got some great Friday night plans. Enjoy.

MUSICAL GUEST

John Mayer, off of his new acoustic EP…take it away!

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

Number One, A Lost Art, The Boss

It’s not often the TinCaps score three runs and win a game, but they managed to do it on Wednesday night’s series opener against West Michigan. It was just the 10th time all season that Fort Wayne has picked up a win when scoring three runs or fewer. The TinCaps got only three hits, but didn’t need much more than that because of the pitching of Colin Rea.

In his first win at Parkview Field (he’s been in the rotation since May 10th), Rea threw six innings and gave up just two hits. He didn’t allow a base hit through the first four innings. He credited his ability to get ahead in the count and the aggressiveness of the Whitecaps hitters as integral parts to his success.

The further we go into this season, sometimes the less you can feel like you’ve got a read on a team. West Michigan came into Parkview Field last night on a three-game winning streak after taking three of four from Lansing. The Lugnuts, by the way, have the best record in all of minor league baseball. But by the time Luis De La Cruz threw two innings and Matt Stites one for his 11th save, West Michigan had just two hits for the entire ballgame, after scoring 15 runs over the past three games.

Ruben Mejia starts today, looking not just for his first win at Parkview Field, but for his first win in the TinCaps starting rotation. Here’s to a second straight day of firsts.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Colin Rea, who tells us about what led him to a successful start and his first win at Parkview Field:

A LOST ART

When was the last time you sent a postcard? Not only can I not think of the last time I sent one, I can’t think of any time I’ve ever sent one. I suppose this link will be more appreciated by the older generation of blog readers, then. Here’s a blog entry from The New York Review of Books entitled “The Lost Art of Postcard Writing.”

“Until a few years ago, hardly a day would go by in the summer without the mailman bringing a postcard from a vacationing friend or acquaintance. Nowadays, you’re bound to get an email enclosing a photograph, or, if your grandchildren are the ones doing the traveling, a brief message telling you that their flight has been delayed or that they have arrived. The terrific thing about postcards was their immense variety. It wasn’t just the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal, or some other famous tourist attraction you were likely to receive in the mail, but also a card with a picture of a roadside diner in Iowa, the biggest hog at some state fair in the South, and even a funeral parlor touting the professional excellence that their customers have come to expect over a hundred years.”

Who doesn’t like getting a piece of handwritten mail? My grandfather still regularly sends me letters, and it’s easily the best part of my day to open those and realize that someone took the time to sit down and write something to you, rather than typing it in an email or sending it in a text. Plus, all the other mail I get is bills and junk. I know I can’t be the only one.

THE BOSS

The first thing I usually do each day when putting together a blog post is figure out who the musical guest will be. The song can be a reflection of the weather outside, the way the team is playing, or it can have no connection to what’s going on and it might just be a song I heard on the radio. Maybe three or four times this year I’ve used a Bruce Springsteen song. I like Springsteen, but maybe not to the extent that some other folks do. Some of my friend have seen him more than five times in concert. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has seen him perform live 129 times. Wow.

While the music is good, I’m more interested in what make’s a successful person successful. How did he get to be so good, and how has he stayed that good for so long? Malcolm Gladwell has theorized on what it takes to be successful with his hypothesis of 10,000 hours–the time it takes to really master something. 

Springsteen is now 62 and is still rocking faces (he has seen a million, and rocked all of them) across the land. I don’t know what it takes to perform a rock concert, but I’d imagine it makes you rather tired. I get tired after eating a Subway sandwich, so I can’t imagine what a two-hour concert must feel like.

Fortunately, The New Yorker has a very in-depth profile of The Boss, which I highly recommend taking the time to read:

“He is five-nine and walks with a rolling rodeo gait. When he takes in something new—a visitor, a thought, a passing car in the distance—his eyes narrow, as if in hard light, and his lower jaw protrudes a bit. His hairline is receding, and, if one had to guess, he has, over the years, in the face of high-def scrutiny and the fight against time, enjoined the expensive attentions of cosmetic and dental practitioners. He remains dispiritingly handsome, preposterously fit. (“He has practically the same waist size as when I met him, when we were fifteen,” says Steve Van Zandt, who does not.) Some of this has to do with his abstemious inclinations; Van Zandt says Springsteen is “the only guy I know—I think the only guy I know at all—who never did drugs.” He’s followed more or less the same exercise regimen for thirty years: he runs on a treadmill and, with a trainer, works out with weights. It has paid off. His muscle tone approximates a fresh tennis ball. And yet, with the tour a month away, he laughed at the idea that he was ready. “I’m not remotely close,” he said, slumping into a chair twenty rows back from the stage.”

MUSICAL GUEST

OAR…take it away!

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

Pitching Numbers, Cost of Spam, Cookie Poll

Goodbye, Bowling Green and hellloooooooo, West Michigan. After splitting four games with the Hot Rods, the TinCaps take on the Whitecaps for the first time in two months. While July and August were jam packed with games against South Bend, the home stretch involves a lot of West Michigan, Lansing, Dayton and Bowling Green.

The Whitecaps are 22-22 in the second half, five games out of first place. As the standings fall today with 26 regular season games remaining, the TinCaps are in a good spot:

Bowling Green 27- 17 0 GB

Fort Wayne 26-18 1.0 GB

Lansing 25-19 2.0 GB

Lake County 24-20 3.0 GB

South Bend 22-22 5.0 GB

West Michigan 22-22 5.0 GB

Since Bowling Green and Lansing qualified for the playoffs in the first half, it’s the next two teams with the best records that make it in, which right now puts Fort Wayne and Lake County as your qualifiers.

Something to keep an eye on as this series begins:

In the first seven days of August, the Fort Wayne relief corps has carried the innings load. With Frank Garces throwing five innings on Tuesday, that leaves starting pitchers having gone 22 innings this month, and relievers having thrown 38. In those seven games, the TinCaps have gone 3-4.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Travis Jankowski, who says a change from the leadoff spot was good for him:

“I was struggling at the top of the lineup. Jose made the right call to move me down and help me get my confidence back and see some better pitches. I feel a lot more comfortable at the top of the lineup now and hopefully I can continue to get on base and score some runs,” Jankowski said.

THE COST OF SPAM

We all get it and we all hate it–spam email. But if you use a service with a good-enough spam filter, you hardly even notice that it’s there anymore. While most of us just ignore spam, there are some folks who have decided to study it, and to determine spam’s cost to society. Here’s what they found:

“Justin Rao of Microsoft and David Reiley of Google (who met working at Yahoo) have teamed up to estimate the cost of spam to society relative to its worldwide revenues. The societal price tag comes to $20 billion. The revenue? A mere $200 million. As they note, that means that the “‘externality ratio’ of external costs to internal benefits for spam is around 100:1. Spammers are dumping a lot on society and reaping fairly little in return.” In case it’s not clear, this is a suboptimal situation. “

The two researchers found that only 1 in 25,000 people need to buy something through spam to make it worthwhile for the spammers.

One day, though, I really will win a foreign lottery…

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES

I had some Thin Mints last night, and I must say–they were quite delicious. When I say I had some, I really mean about seven. Is it possible to eat just one or two? No. That answer is indisputable. However, I still contend that the Tagalongs remain as the clear winner in the Girl Scout cookie world. The perfect combination of peanut butter, chocolate and crunchy cookie places it at a Usain Bolt-like distance ahead of all other choices.  The same goes for the head-to-head matchup of chocolate chip vs. oatmeal raisin cookies. It’s chocolate chip by a landslide.

I open this vote today to you, the people, to declare your choice for Girl Scout cookie champion. Comments are welcome at the bottom of the post.

MUSICAL GUEST

Mumford and Sons (with a new song!)…take it away!

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

Not Your Average Emerald, Long-Awaited Return

The TinCaps lost, 7-4, against Bowling Green on Monday night. The Hot Rods lead the four-game series 2-1 with the finale set for tonight at 7:05.

Erik Cabrera, injured TinCaps infielder Felix Cabrera’s younger brother, made his first start outside of the Dominican Republic, and the first inning was a little rocky. Five runs came across to score, putting Fort Wayne into a hole from which it could not recover.

On the bright side, Chris Fetter pitched in relief for the first time since August 31, 2009, also with Fort Wayne, and did not allow a run.

On the dark side, the TinCaps committed a season-high six errors, which is one shy of the franchise record.

Today it’s Frank Garces on the hill, and he’s won seven of his last eight outings. If there was ever a stopper you could turn to when trying to end a two-game slide, he’d be your guy. Garces is working on a stretch of more than two months in which he hasn’t given up more than two runs in a single start.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Chris Fetter on his outing:

NOT YOUR AVERAGE EMERALD

Clark Murphy wasn’t with the TinCaps for very long this season, just 17 games from late April to Mid-May, but he did stand out as someone who played the game with a certain joy. That’s because of an event last summer that changed his life. Murphy’s younger brother was driving home from baseball practice one day when a tractor-trailer swerved across the road and hit his car head on. That led Clark, then a Rangers farmhand, to return home to be with his family.

Now that he’s back on the diamond, he’s enjoying it all with a different perspective. A friend of mine, Erik Elken, who works for a TV station in Eugene, Oregon, tell Clark’s story in the piece below. Clark is now with the Eugene Emeralds, one level below Fort Wayne.

A LONG-AWAITED RETURN

If you’ve ever watched Arrested Development, you know that this intro means a great 30 minutes lies in your immediate future:

The show was cancelled by FOX in 2006 after just three seasons. It’s one of those shows that if you’ve ever seen it, you wonder how it got cancelled. Apparently, now the cast is getting back together to shoot a new season that will air just on Netflix. Production on the show is supposed to start today.

If you’ve never seen the show–you must. It had Michael Cera before Superbad, hilariously funny stand-up comedian David Cross, Jason Bateman and Jeffrey Tambor among others. Oh, and it was produced and narrated by Ron Howard.

YouTube it.

MUSICAL GUEST

Rush…take it away!

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

Sunday Split, New Pitcher, OMG Origin?

The TinCaps split two games on Sunday (and technically Saturday, too) with Bowling Green, as they opened a four-game series. Saturday’s action was suspended due to rain, and so Fort Wayne and Bowling Green resumed that game Sunday (with the TinCaps winning, 7-2) and then played a seven-inning game, won by the Hot Rods, 7-4.

There’s a roster move today with Tyler Stubblefield going on the disabled list. He was hit in the left ear flap on his helmet in the sixth inning of  Sunday’s loss. It appears to be a precautionary move, and Fort Wayne will hopefully have Stubblefield back not before long.

As a corresponding move, the TinCaps added pitcher Erik Cabrera, who has never pitched in a professional ballgame in the United States before. The 21-year-old righty has only played in the Dominican Summer League to this point. Here’s some info on him: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=cabrer000eri

Cabrera will start tonight for the TinCaps, giving Frank Garces, today’s originally scheduled starter, another day of rest. Garces threw more than 100 pitches in his last start, and hey, another day of rest never hurt anyone, right? Also, Garces has won seven of his last eight starts–if the man needs a day off, he gets a day off.

For the near future the rotation will now look like this:

Erik Cabrera, Frank Garces, Colin Rea, Ruben Mejia, Matt Wisler & Cody Hebner

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from James Needy, who threw 4 1/3 innings in Saturday/Sunday’s Fort Wayne win:

OMG ALMOST 100 YEARS OLD?

A favorite follow of mine on Twitter is “Letters of Note” which publishes old, sometimes very old, correspondence. Here’s how they describe themselves:

“Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. “

One letter that I came across today would be pretty funny to the current generation, especially those college-aged and younger, because of it’s use of the phrase “OMG”, or “Oh My God.” It’s only really funny, though, because it appeared in a letter written to Winston Churchill back in 1917:

There’s also one where Andy Warhol is turned down by the Museum of Modern Art. Intriguing stuff.

MUSICAL GUEST

Marshall Tucker Band…take it away!

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

Stormy Saturday Night

Well, it got a little rainy at Parkview Field on Saturday night. Here’s the view as the storm rolled into town:

And here’s what it looked like as it started to roll away:

It’s odd to think that the sun was hiding behind those clouds the entire time, but it was. This all happened between 7:45 and around 9:00 when I took the second picture, meaning the sun hadn’t even set at that point.

In non-weather news, the TinCaps were winning when it started to pour. Yeison Asencio grounded into a double play to get Jace Peterson across in the first, and Lee Orr followed with an RBI single to score Mike Gallic. The Hot Rods were facing Matt Wisler in the top of the second, and had runners on first and second with two out when the rains came. Today, James Needy will be on the hill as the TinCaps complete the suspended game.

After all nine innings are played from that game, a seven-inning ballgame will follow. Cody Hebner is set to take the mound for Fort Wayne.

Note: If you had tickets to Saturday’s game, you may exchange your ticket stub from last night for any remaining home game during the 2012 season. Just bring your ticket stub to the Parkview Field Ticket Office, and exchange it for the best comparable seats to a future game, based on availability.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, Mike Maahs chats with Jose Valentin about last week’s four-game series at South Bend, the importance of winning series and the rigors of playing a 140-game season.

MUSICAL GUEST

The Strokes…take it away!

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

Taking on the Best, Restaurant Moneyball

The TinCaps return home tonight to face Bowling Green, with a scheduled start time of 7:05. Over the last two days, Fort Wayne came up on the losing end of things, and split their series with the South Bend Silver Hawks, 2-2.

Bowling Green has played exceptionally well not just here in the second half, but for the entire season. In fact, if the standings hold as they look right now, this would be the first-round playoff matchup, with the TinCaps hosting Bowling Green in game one of the Eastern Division semifinals. Of course, there is still a month to go and plenty of baseball to be played, but that’s how it stands right now. The Hot Rods are 25-15 in the second half, which is the best mark in the Midwest League, East or West.

It’s going to be a fantastic pitching matchup tonight with Matt Wisler taking the hill for Fort Wayne and lefty Ryan Carpenter throwing for Bowling Green. Wisler strikes out the fourth-most batters per nine innings of work in the league. Carpenter hasn’t lost since June, and threw eight innings in his last ballgame.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, a chat with infielder/pitcher Tyler Stubblefield. He earned the latter title when he pitched three innings in Friday’s 16-0 loss at South Bend.

The line of this interview comes when he recounts his conversation with catcher Austin Hedges, who asked him what type of pitches he’d be throwing. Hedges asks, “Fastball, curveball, change?”.

“Nope,” Stubblefield says. “Fastballs down the middle.”

RESTAURANT MONEYBALL

By now, most baseball fans are familiar with the Oakland A’s original concept of Moneyball: find the player that fits the system, gets on base and produces runs and wins. If you’re not a big sabermetrics person, you’ve maybe at least seen the movie. Now, that model of thinking is being taken to your dining experience in Washington, D.C.:

“Six-fifteen PM, Chef Geoff’s in Upper Northwest DC: You slip into a corner booth. Elizabeth, the server, is agreeable in her smart tie and pressed apron, the Pinot Gris is crisp and cool, the salmon with lentils is perfectly cooked, the water glasses are kept filled, the check comes without asking. Were you dining at one of Tracy’s spinoffs—Chef Geoff’s in downtown DC or Tysons Corner, or even at the Italian-themed Lia’s in Chevy Chase—your night wouldn’t be appreciably different. Missteps in a Tracy restaurant are few. Things unspool smoothly.

Here comes Tracy from the kitchen now, making the rounds, ball cap cocked back on his head, his blue eyes gleaming. This is the public face of his restaurants, the fun-loving guy down the block who opens his home to the neighborhood for a nightly party.

It’s not at all a front, but as in his restaurants, what matters most is what you can’t see. Compared with the level of detail with which Tracy and his team watch your night unfold, you’re looking at a black-and-white Philco and they’re staring at a high-def flat-screen.

Did Elizabeth bring your Pinot Gris within three minutes of the time you ordered it? Were your appetizers delivered within seven minutes, entrées within ten, desserts within seven? Were these plates described at the table before they were set in front of you? Were napkins refolded when you went to the restroom? Was non-bottled water referred to as “ice water” (correct) or “water” (incorrect)?”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is, of course, the analytic side, too:

“On this night, a member of Tracy’s team is finishing up her exhaustive, bimonthly sweep of the original Chef Geoff’s on New Mexico Avenue, Northwest, assessing the staff’s performance on 800 “standards” that break down the daily business of a restaurant into discrete measurements. Are all items chilled to 70 degrees before being placed in the walk-in refrigerator? Are wines by the glass dated to ensure freshness, and are they less than two days old? Is the dishwasher’s final rinse set at the proper temperature?

Tracy’s team converts this information to numbers, which are then crunched to compile weekly reports and later monthly and a quarterly report cards.”

Interesting take on the restaurant business. Anyone interested in a post-season trip to D.C.? Dinner’s on me…

MUSICAL GUEST

Led Zeppelin…take it away!

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

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.

Looking for Six, Pitching Bible, Unhappy Umpire

The TinCaps have now won five straight games, after taking down South Bend Wednesday night.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I talk with BJ Guinn, who was with the team last year. He has just rejoined the club, and is getting healthy after tearing his left quadriceps muscle during the last week of spring training.

PITCHING BIBLE

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was in the Florida State League (Advanced-A) last year, and this season he’s pitching in the big leagues. How does a young pitcher become so successful at such a quick pace? Part of it lies in his preparation:

“He records every mechanical adjustment he makes, even if only temporary, as a reference for the future. When he pitches well, he notes what he did right. When he pitches poorly, he types in a summary of his mistakes, be they mechanical or mental.

Harvey drew on his Pitching Bible a few days before his major-league debut Thursday in Arizona, where he struck out 11 batters over 5-1/3 exhilarating innings. And it will help guide him again here Tuesday night when he faces the San Francisco Giants.

“It’s something I like to keep and something where if I do forget something, I can always go back and look at it,” Harvey said. “It’s just kind of a reminder.”‘

“Here’s a guy at 23 years old that knows his delivery,” Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said. “We have guys at 35 years old that don’t know their deliveries that we still have to talk to all the time. By him doing that, it shows that he has the aptitude to be better and to want to be better.”

The Book of Harvey also shows the influence of Bill Caudill, a former major-league pitcher employed by Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras. Caudill serves as a personal pitching coach to Harvey, who has leaned on him more heavily than on anyone employed by the Mets.

Caudill was the one who suggested to Harvey in 2009, when he was a sophomore at the University of North Carolina, that he keep a pitching diary. It was a measure borne of failure.

After a dominant freshman season, Harvey regressed as a sophomore. He finished with a 5.40 ERA, the highest among Tar Heel starters. North Carolina pitching coach Scott Forbes said Harvey’s biggest problem was an inability to repeat his delivery.

His mechanics were robotic, but he was a robot gone haywire, lacking the rhythm and timing necessary to throw with ease. “He was just fighting himself,” Forbes said.

The process of writing down adjustments—noting what worked and what didn’t mechanically on a given day—created something of a self-help manual.”

UNHAPPY UMPIRE

Last night in Florida State League action, the Daytona Cubs defeated the Fort Myers Miracle. That’s not intriguing.

What is intriguing is that during that game, the Daytona PA announcer and the in-stadium DJ were both ejected by home plate umpire Mario Seneca. This is where MiLB.com’s Danny Wild picks up the story:

“For Daytona Cubs intern deejay Derek Dye, it was nothing more than a nursery rhyme. For home plate umpire Mario Seneca, it crossed the line.

A bizarre scene unfolded Wednesday night when Seneca ejected Dye for playing “Three Blind Mice” on the sound system at Daytona’s Jackie Robinson Ballpark.

 “I thought at first when he yelled, ‘You’re gone,’ he was talking to me,” Daytona manager Brian Harper said. “That was pretty fun.”

Nothing was funny for Seneca. After a questionable play at first base, Harper argued the call with infield umpire Ramon Hernandez. Daytona first baseman Taylor Davis appeared to pick a ball in the dirt thrown by shortstop Tim Saunders, but it came out of his glove when he turned to toss it around the infield. Hernandez ruled Davis had bobbled the ball rather than dropping it on the transfer and declared Fort Myers’ Andy Leer safe.

Dye, a Cubs intern from the University of Illinois, fired up one of his new music clips — an organ version of “Three Blind Mice,” the well-known English nursery rhyme about visually impaired rodents getting into a scuffle with a farmer’s wife.

Seneca wheeled, pointed to Dye in the press box and shouted, “You’re done!” Ditto for the Cubs’ public-address announcer.

“Turn the sound off for the rest of the night,” Seneca could be heard yelling during the Cubs’ broadcast.”

Seneca was an umpire here in the Midwest League last year.

And the kicker:

“I think it’s a pretty popular children’s fable,” Dye said. “He’s umpiring the game tomorrow, so I don’t think I’ll be playing it anytime soon.”

MUSICAL GUEST

OutKast…take it away!

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

Mystery Solved, Loud Noises, Clarification Needed

The TinCaps opened a four-game series against South Bend with a 3-2 win yesterday. Today, they look for their fifth win in a row. Chris Fetter takes the hill against the Silver Hawks’ Keith Hessler, who is making just his second career start.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, a chat with Fort Wayne pitching coach Willie Blair:

MYSTERY SOLVED

Checking in with yet another great question, here’s @drkensf:

The backpack in question is this one, and it belongs to Johnny Barbato:

Courtesy of the TinCaps Amateur Photography Department

And here is the answer, right from the source:

If you have any questions you’d like answered, you can find my contact info at the bottom of the post. Remember, folks, it’s all relative.

LOUD NOISES

On the bus over to South Bend today, I was listening to my new favorite podcast, Q from CBC Radio, and the host interviewed Cara Buckley, a writer for The New York Times.  Buckley recently wrote an article about the high volumes that we encounter in restaurants, gyms and other places–and how the decibel levels at these places can be dangerous to our health:

“At the Brooklyn Star in Williamsburg, the volume averaged 94 decibels over an hour and a half — as loud as an electric drill. At the Standard Hotel’s Biergarten in the meatpacking district, where workers can log 10-hour shifts, the noise level averaged 96 decibels. No music was playing: the noise was generated by hundreds of voices bouncing off the metal skeleton of the High Line.

At Beaumarchais, a nightclub-like brasserie on West 13th Street, the music averaged 99 decibels over 20 minutes and reached 102 in its loudest 5 minutes. “It definitely takes a toll,” a waiter said.

Workers at these places said the sound levels, which were recorded over periods as long as an hour and a half, were typical when they were working.

One spin class at a Crunch gym on the Upper West Side averaged 100 decibels over 40 minutes and hit 105 in its loudest 5. At a Crunch gym in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the noise level averaged 91 decibels. At the Fifth Avenue flagship store of Abercrombie & Fitch, which has designed many of its stores to resemble nightclubs, pulsating music hit 88 decibels, just shy of the limit at which workers are required to wear protection if exposed to that volume for eight hours.

By way of comparison, a C train hurtling downtown in Manhattan registered at 84 decibels; normal conversation is from 60 to 65 decibels.”

The piece goes on to mention that certain venues like bars and clubs will play faster music to get people to subconsciously eat and drink faster, especially at peak hours.

I have a feeling next time I go to a restaurant, I’m going to be acutely aware of this, but then purposely eat slower just to thwart their attempts at turning over my table faster.

APROPOS OF NOTHING

This sign hangs on the concourse here in South Bend. I believe it’s in need of some additional information:

Clarification needed

Do I have to lay down a $50 deposit just for the season seat information? That seems a bit unfair. What if I’m not pleased with that information? The It’s All Relative investigative team is on top of this…

MUSICAL GUEST

Pearl Jam…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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