April 2013

So I’ve Got That Going For Me, Which Is Nice…

"Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort?"

“Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort?”

Despite a 9-6 loss on Saturday night at the hands of the Lake County Captains–one in which the TinCaps held leads of 2-0, 4-2, and 6-4–there are plenty of numbers that the TinCaps will enjoy seeing as they head into their 10th game of the season this afternoon at 3:05 at Parkview Field:

57 – The number of runs scored by Fort Wayne, the most in the Midwest League

11 – The number of stolen bases for the TinCaps in as many tries. They are the only team that has not had a baserunner caught stealing.

10- The league-leading number of walks drawn by infielder Maxx Tissenbaum. His .488 on-base percentage leads the team.

And one they will not enjoy quite as much:

56 – The highest game-time temperature in their first nine games of the season.

But, hey, warmer weather has to be around the corner, right?

PODCAST

After the game last night, Jose Valentin explains, momma said there’d be days like this:

and Brian Adams, who hit a two-run homer, talks about his performance:

JACKIE ROBINSON DAY

Tomorrow Major League Baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day, celebrating the day in 1947 when Robinson made his MLB debut with the Brookyln Dodgers. Here’s a short anecdote about Robinson, and how he handled the adversity he faced:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sportingscene/2013/04/jackie-robinson-again.html

ROUGH NIGHT

One ball boy in Kansas City would probably like a re-do of this grab he made at a foul ball last night. 

RoyalsBallBoyInterferesWithRajaiDavis

Fortunately for the ball boy, his “play” did not have any impact on the outcome of the game, as the Blue Jays won, 8-4. Maybe the ball boy can help console Steve Bartman.

MUSICAL GUEST

Boston…take it away!

dancin’ in the streets of Hyannis…

Thanks for reading. Remember, tomorrow is an off day for the team, so the my voice on the blog will rest tomorrow, too. However, John Nolan will bring you some Fort Wayne baseball history tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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

MCsig

Anything You Can Do…

For the second straight night at Parkview Field, it was cold, wet, and rainy. Yet despite the less-than-favorable conditions, a 19-year-old TinCaps starting pitcher proved the show was his. Thursday night it was Joe Ross, who earned a win, throwing five innings and striking out eight. Friday, it was another Californian–Max Fried.

The lefthander, making his first start in Fort Wayne, threw five innings, and despite walking the first batter he faced for the second straight start, also struck out eight, earning his first career victory.

“Finally getting out here and extending the leash, my adrenaline was pumping with the crowd and it was an unbelievable experience,” Fried said after the game.

Fried showed a willingness to throw his breaking ball in any count, something most pitchers in this league, regardless of age, sometimes lack the confidence to do. Of course that confidence comes from practice, but it also came from a careful study of Ross’ dissection of the Lake County nine from the night before.

“I’m keeping a close eye on what he’s doing and how he’s attacking hitters. Being here before and also having the experience he has, it’s really valuable information for me to go and pick his brain after a start, especially if it’s the same team. So, having him be able to be there and watch what he does and follow from his example is extremely beneficial,” said Fried of his rotation-mate.

Fried also had his dad in attendance for the game, and although it might be the coldest game he’s ever sat through to watch his son play, that it was well worth it for his first professional win.

PODCAST

Max Fried talks to the media in the clubhouse following his first professional victory:

FEATURED

MiLB.com talked to Fried and TinCaps pitching coach Burt Hooton about the outing:

http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130412&content_id=44625478&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 12.35.20 AM

MUSICAL GUEST

Weezer…take it away!

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

MCsig

Ross Delivers in Rainy Home Opener

Last year on April 7th, Joe Ross made his Parkview Field debut as an 18-year-old, facing the Lake County Captains. It didn’t go according to plan. He gave up seven runs in 1 1/3 innings, which was the second-shortest starting outing of the year for Fort Wayne.

Now, in his second go-round with the TinCaps, he’s matured in ways that 365 days on a calendar can’t measure. His performance on Thursday night in front of a crowd of 5,524 was dominant. Ross allowed one hit in five innings, while striking out a career-best eight batters. In two starts Ross is 2-0, and has surrendered two hits, walked two batters and struck out 12. Not only is he a better pitcher from a year ago, but he’s a more mature individual, which no doubt has carryover into his play.

“In the back of my mind, I had a couple thoughts thinking about last year’s start. A few of the guys where here from last year, so I stuck in my head what they did last year to me, compared to this year,” Ross said after the game in the clubhouse.

“He was unhittable today,” TinCaps manager Jose Valentin told The News-Sentinel. “Even when guys were on base and he needed to get an out, he didn’t change at all. His tempo stayed the same. He maintained composure. He worked ahead in the count and made the pitches when he needed them.”

“His confidence (is strong),” Valentin said. “He’s throwing strikes, he’s working ahead in counts and he’s not afraid to get hit. When he’s got his stuff, he’s a power pitcher, but he has a good breaking ball and changeup. Attack the hitters and let the guys behind you help you out.”

After his first start, Ross told me that he threw about 80% fastballs, which obviously worked well as he shut out the Great Lakes Loons over five innings. Yesterday, though, he said it was his offspeed stuff that he relied on a bit more.

“The past two outings, my fastball command has gone pretty well, and the velocity is there despite the weather. Slider and changeup, especially tonight, I thought I threw very well. … It’s just staying aggressive. Being confident in my pitches, and stuff like that is really what gets me off to a good start,” Ross told The Journal Gazette.

I caught up with Padres minor league pitching coordinator Mike Cather, who is in town for the week,  after the game, and we talked about Ross’ spring training. Cather said that Ross distinguished himself from many other minor league pitchers because of his demeanor and improved quality of pitches during the spring. I suspect we’ll get to chat with Cather a few times this season, considering the wealth of arms Fort Wayne has in the starting rotation.

Speaking of which, last year’s seventh-overall draft pick Max Fried starts tonight for Fort Wayne. In his first TinCaps start, the California native allowed one run in four innings, while walking four and fanning five.

PODCASTS

Hear from batterymates Joe Ross and Dane Phillips as they discuss yesterday’s 4-0 win over the Captains:

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Justin Cohn of The Journal Gazette took some nice video of last night’s action, which you can see here:

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20130411/BLOGS07/130419887?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

GOOD BASEBALL READ

I highly recommend this piece on how James Shields, a former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher now with the Royals, is trying to change the Kansas City clubhouse culture for the better: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mlb–james-shields–the-royals–key-offseason-acquisition–is-leading-the-way-to-create-rays-like-chemistry-175011715.html

MUSICAL GUEST

Cher Lloyd…take it away!

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

MCsig

Opening Day at Parkview Field: A Celebration

Welcome to Opening Day 2013! It’s the first game at Parkview Field in 2013, and the TinCaps will take on the Lake County Captains tonight at 7:05.

Parkview Field

Although the forecast isn’t the best (and you can see some of the buildings in downtown Fort Wayne shrouded in dense fog), we’re all excited about the fifth season of baseball at Parkview Field.

After winning their first three games in impressive fashion, the TinCaps have dropped the last three (one against Great Lakes and two more in a rain-shortened two-game series at West Michigan.) The last few days have brought extremely cold weather, which isn’t atypical for this time of the year, although, hey, we’d all like some sunshine, right? Vitamin D is good for the soul. Vitamin C is good for graduation parties.

Outside of the actual game tonight, there’s lot’s more to be excited about. On our TV broadcast, we’re going to be debuting a new, 30-minute pregame show called “The Leadoff Spot” on Xfinity Channel 81. I’ll have interviews with Manager Jose Valentin, TinCaps President and General Manager Mike Nutter, and a look at what to expect from this year’s team. We’ll be bringing you that 30-minute special once a month during the season, and hope that you’ll enjoy it.

Mike Maahs and John Nolan will make their 2013 debuts on the radio broadcast, which you can hear on 1380 AM in Fort Wayne and TheFanFortWayne.com around the world. For those of you who have listened in past years, you are familiar with Mike, whose knowledge of the franchise is as good as anyone in Fort Wayne. John, who is a recent graduate of Syracuse University, is a very talented broadcaster, whose work you will enjoy.

Also, one fan tonight is guaranteed to walk away with $5,000 as part of our fifth anniversary celebration at Parkview Field. Come on out to the game…it could be you!

PODCAST

Today’s guest is catcher Dane Phillips, who tells us about the responsibility of shepherding what may be the best pitching staff in Minor League Baseball, ad

LIFE ON THE ROAD

If you’re not up to speed with the Padres blogosphere (and it’s OK if you’re not), PadresPublic.com is a great place to get all of your news in one place. One of their contributing writers, Geoff Young (also known as @ducksnorts) asked me to pen a piece about life on the road as a Minor League Baseball broadcaster…and here it is:

http://padrespublic.com/mike-couzens-life-on-the-road-part-1/

This is just part one of a two-part series. Hope you enjoy it.

MUSICAL GUEST

Lord Huron…take it away!

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

MCsig

Rainouts and Walkups

Fort Wayne and West Michigan were rained out yesterday. The game that was scheduled for today will be made up at a date to be determined later this season. For now, we’re just looking ahead to tonight’s 6:35 scheduled first pitch. The forecast? More rain! But we can’t do anything about that…

Rainy West Michigan

Walker Weickel, who was Tuesday’s scheduled starter, will instead start tonight. Here were his thoughts on the rainout:

According to Urban Dictionary...Muddin = when someone takes their truck offroad and tries to get their car as dirty as possible. The idea is to get your car so dirty that the air-conditioning spits up dirt molecules when you turn it on.

According to Urban Dictionary…Muddin =
when someone takes their truck offroad and tries to get their car as dirty as possible. The idea is to get your car so dirty that the air-conditioning spits up dirt molecules when you turn it on.

You know, I was cool with a nap. Car washes ain’t cheap, man.

Because of the rainout, Joe Ross is scheduled to start Fort Wayne’s home opener on Thursday against Lake County, and Max Fried, the #1 pick last year by San Diego, is scheduled to start Friday. That means you’ll have back-to-back first-round draft picks pitching in Fort Wayne Thursday and Friday. Get your tickets, folks.

PODCAST

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I talk with center fielder Brian Adams, a former two-sport athlete at the University of Kentucky. Adams, a native of Georgia, played both football and baseball for the Wildcats. We talk about his decision to choose baseball, and which two former TinCaps, and Kentucky Wildcats, are friends of his:

WALK-UP MUSIC

Now that we’re just a day away from the home opener at Parkview Field, it’s that time of year where players have to request their walk-up music that will play either on their way from the dugout to home plate,  or when they enter the game from the bullpen. Here is the list of songs from players who made a request:

Zach Eflin – TNT (intro) AC/DC
Walker Weickel – “Old River Road” The Lacs
Maxx Tissenbaum – “Musta Had a Good Time” Parmalee
Matt Shepherd – “Hell and Back” Kid Ink (start at 24 secs)
Gabriel Quintana – “Siente La Para” El Alfa ft. La Nueva Escuela
Corey Adamson – “Milkshake” Kelis
Brian Adams – “Return of the Mac” Mark Morrison
Jeremy Baltz – “Lights” Ellie Goulding (from chorus)
Stephen Carmon – “I Knew You Were Trouble” Taylor Swift (Start at 52 seconds)
Luis Tejada – “Hablame De Romo” Shellow Shaq
Leonel Campos – “El Dilema” Silvestre Dangond
Diego Goris – “Llegale” Shellow Shaq
Roman Madrid – “My Moment” DJ Drama
Erik Cabrera – “Con To Los Cacabele” El Alfa
Tayron Guerrero – “Que No Se Enteren” Silvestre Dangond
Alberth Martinez – “Machucando” Daddy Yankee
Justin Hancock – “Simple Man” Lynyrd Skynyrd
Max Fried – “Can’t Hold Us” Macklemore
Ruben Mejia – “Matamos” Doble T Y El Crok
Dane Phillips – “Boondocks” Little Big Town
Rodney Daal – “Warriors” – Kymani Marley
Genison Reyes – “Tu Quiere Problema” Chimbala feat. Black Point
I’m really digging Corey Adamson’s choice of “Milkshake” by Kelis. It really breaks the mold of the country anthem/heavy bass hip-hop/reggaeton/hard rock/manly-lyric jam that encomapsses 99% of walk-up songs. I’m not sure if he likes the song or is just being ironic, but either way, I’m on board.

LIFE ON THE ROAD

Traveling throughout the world of Minor League Baseball means you’ll meet new people every single day. During the rain delay today, I had to walk down to the TinCaps clubhouse a few times, and you have to walk on the concourse to get there from the press box. During one of my trips, I walked past a fan wearing a throwback Whitecaps jacket, and had to snap a picture:

West Michigan Whitecaps super-fan Tom Grey proudly wears his original-issue Whitecaps jacket.

West Michigan Whitecaps super-fan Tom Grey proudly wears his original-issue Whitecaps jacket.

He claims the jacket is from the original season of Whitecaps baseball, which was back in 1994. That’d be impressive if he kept intact for 20 years. There are several nods to the baseball history of the Grand Rapids area (the ballpark is technically in Comstock Park) and the history of the team up on the suite level.

I wonder if anyone out there still has any Wizards gear…

MUSICAL GUEST

The Lumineers…take it away!

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

MCsig

I Ate A Baco and Lived to Talk About It

The TinCaps dropped their series opener against West Michigan yesterday by an 11-4 score. Not much to see yesterday in terms of Fort Wayne offense. After the fourth inning, the TinCaps had only two hits. Starter Erik Cabrera went 3 2/3 innings and allowed eight earned runs.

Today, with fog looming all around the city of Comstock Park, Michigan, the TinCaps and Whitecaps will try and play a noon game, although heavy thunderstorms are in the forecast. Will we be delayed by rain for a second straight day? You’ll have to tune in at 11:40 for our pregame show to find out!

Walker Weickel, the highly-touted 55th overall pick from last year’s draft, will take the ball for Fort Wayne. He was added to the roster today, and infielder Felix Cabrera was sent to extended spring training, giving Fort Wayne a full 25-man roster. Here’s to a TinCaps win.

Hope to have you along today as you work off your basketball national championship hangover. Pre-game coverage starts at 11:40 on TheFanFortWayne.com.

PODCAST

On today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, outfielder Corey Adamson joins me to talk about his busy offseason and why he had to get a new passport:

PROSPECTING

Corey Brock of MLB.com has a good look at some of the top prospects throughout the Padres farm system, and where each player is beginning the season. He mentions Zach Eflin, Max Fried, and Walker Weickel all opening the year in Fort Wayne.

Read his full story here: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130408&content_id=44212574&vkey=news_sd&c_id=sd

Speaking of Weickel, the Orlando Sentinel has a piece on the righty from before the 2012 draft. It tells us about how his dad, a golf pro, almost had a son who turned into a phenomenal golf player, rather than a first-round pick in baseball: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-05-31/sports/os-hs-walker-weickel-baseball-draft-0601-20120531_1_golf-team-baseball-draft-olympia-coach-randy-o-neal

BALLPARK EATING

If you didn’t tune into the broadcast yesterday (no excuses, it was an afternoon game), you missed a) the two-hour forty-two minute rain delay and b) my on-air review of the “baco”, the taco with a shell made entirely of bacon that’s served at West Michigan’s Fifth-Third Ballpark.

The item was selected by an online fan vote, as the Whitecaps decided which new food item they would add to their menu this year. The baco won with 30% of the vote, and has gone on to receive some serious national attention from places like Yahoo! Sports and CNBC. That said, I’m here to tell you the baco is more about the style than it is about the substance.

It’s exactly what it sounds and looks like, shredded lettuce and diced tomato inside of five strips of bacon. It’s a BLT without the bread, and perhaps a little more bacon. I must tell you that it was delicious, though. The bacon was well-cooked, so that it was crispy but not too crunchy, and was still flexible enough for the “I like my bacon droopy” type of people. For those of you who are bacon lovers, go for it. For anyone else, I’d recommend trying one of the many other unique and certainly delectable food options at Fifth Third Ballpark.

While I’m generally not a fan of rain delays, yesterday I didn’t quite mind so much.

Baco 2

Baco 3

BALLPARK LIVING

In Indianapolis an old ballpark has been turned into apartments.  While the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians now play at beautiful downtown Victory Field, they used to play at Bush Stadium. In their absence, it had been many things, including a storage lot for Cash for Clunkers cars. Not a good look. It’s quite different today:

stadium9

Here’s the link to the full article: http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/gov-indianapolis-building-first-ballpark-apartments.html#next

MUSICAL GUEST

Local Natives…take it away!

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

MCsig

The Midwest League Mitten Migration Continues

Goodbye, Midland, Michigan, and hello, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Midwest League Mitten road trip continues with three games against the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Class-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Fort Wayne has won three of its first four games, falling for the first time on Sunday against the Loons by an 8-3 final. With six combined errors (three for both sides) it was your typical April Midwest League baseball game.

Zach Eflin made his TinCaps debut just one day shy of his 19th birthday. While a win would have been a nice, early birthday present, perhaps the experience he got was even better. Eflin, picked 33rd overall in the 2012 draft, hails from Florida and was in high school at this time last year. During his high school days, he didn’t face much difficulty on the mound from his opponents because of how good he was compared to the competition. He’s also probably not worked in much cold weather, and game time temperature was about 45 degrees on Sunday, so that was probably a bit of a change.

They've even got a fireplace in the ballpark. That just about says it all.

They’ve even got a fireplace in the ballpark. That just about says it all.

After a 1-2-3 first inning, which included two strikeouts, he had to deal with a much more difficult second frame. Not only did he encounter a passed ball, but also a fielding error and a wild pitch. Coming into Sunday’s action, he’d only thrown seven innings as a professional pitcher. Because of his pitch count, Eflin was lifted after just three innings and took the loss.

The TinCaps didn’t have the same offensive firepower they’d brought to the table in the first three days–but after scoring 13 runs the night before,  it would be tough to expect them to match that on back-to-back nights. It’s always in games like Sunday’s where you wish they could’ve saved some runs from Saturday’s 13-0 blowout win to credit toward he next day. C’est la baseball…

Today is a 12:00 first pitch against West Michigan, which has started the season 2-2 after a four-game series against the Dayton Dragons. I’ll be on the air at 11:45 from high atop Fifth Third Ballpark, where I plan to try the baco–the taco with a bacon shell. I will be your concessions lab rat. Fear not.

As always, you can catch the games on TheFanFortWayne.com if you’re out of the area or 1380 AM in Fort Wayne.

PODCAST

Prior to Sunday’s series-ending game with Great Lakes, I chatted with Jeremy Baltz about his six-RBI night, and why he was disappointed after the game (nothing to do with baseball):

TRACKING PROSPECTS

If following the prospects within the Padres farm system is your thing, or you’re just trying to keep up with former TinCaps on their way to the majors, MiLB.com has a new feature you might like. This year they’ve rolled out a scoreboard that includes all of the Padres minor league affiliates, and it’s an easy way to keep track of what’s going on around the system. I use it each night on the broadcast. Enjoy:

http://www.milb.com/scoreboard/index.jsp?sid=milb&org=135&ymd=20130408

LIFE ON THE ROAD

Since we’ve started the season on the road, I figure no better time than now to begin my official Subway count: 1. Somewhere between Midland, Michigan and Walker, Michigan, where the TinCaps team hotel is, I ate at a Subway. I also took these pictures on my way to Subway:

This was, at one point in time, a pool

This was, at one point in time, a pool

Presumably, people swam in this area.

Presumably, people swam in this area.

Those “pool” pictures are from the front “yard” of a motor inn that I had to walk past to get to Subway. At least they kept the lifeguard chair…

Also, at Great Lakes, as the visiting radio broadcaster, you have the great fortune of having your daily meal delivered to your radio booth. Pretty simple process–you fill out your meal ticket and they bring you the food.  On mine I write, “Mike – Visiting Radio”, to avoid confusion. Here’s what my awful handwriting was translated into:

Visay Radio? Seriously? Is my handwriting that bad?

Visay Radio? Seriously? Is my handwriting that bad?

So I’ve got a face for radio, a voice for newspaper and handwriting for…styrofoam boxes?

MUSICAL GUEST

Lady Antebellum…take it away!

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

MCsig

Three in a Row, Ready to Go

Another impressive win for the TinCaps last night, as they demolished the Great Lakes Loons by a 13-0 final score. The highlights:

-Jeremy Baltz hit two home runs and collected six RBI. Baltz had the first six-RBI game by a TinCaps hitter since Jeudy Valdez did it three seasons ago on May 26…also against Great Lakes. Here’s the box score from that game:

untitled

-Gabriel Quintana and Dane Phillips each hit home runs

-It was the first four-homer game for Fort Wayne since June 11, 2012 when Yeison Asencio (2), Lee Orr and Tyler Stubblefield all went yard at Parkview Field against South Bend.

-Justin Hancock earned his first Midwest League win, turning in five scoreless innings and striking out seven.

-In the last nine years, this is just the third time a Fort Wayne team has started the season 3-0. The 2009 squad, which won a MWL title, began the year on a 10-0 tear. In 2011, Fort Wayne won three straight against South Bend to open the season, before dropping the last of a four-game set to the Silver Hawks. The 24 runs scored in the first three games by the 2013 TinCaps edges the 18 scored by the 2009 team in its first three games.

The finale of the four-game season-opening series with Great Lakes is this afternoon at 3:05. Padres supplemental first-round pick Zach Eflin is the scheduled starter for Fort Wayne. San Diego drafted Eflin 33rd overall in the 2012 draft. You can hear the game on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne and everywhere else on TheFanFortWayne.com. I’ll be joined pregame by Jeremy Baltz, when our coverage starts at 2:45.

PODCAST

The guest on today’s TinCaps Report Podcast is outfielder Mallex Smith. The gregarious Floridian tells us about the origin of his unique name, his start to the season, and his natural speed (although he says he’s not even the fastest in his family):

EYE ON OPENING DAY

TinCaps President Mike Nutter joined WANE-TV in Fort Wayne on Saturday morning to talk about Opening Day at Parkview Field on Thursday, April 11th. It’ll be the start of the fifth season at Parkview Field, and one fan will be guaranteed to walk away with $5,000. It could be you…who knows.

Here is the link to Mike’s interview:

http://www.wane.com/dpp/entertainment/first_news/tincaps-president-discusses-season-opener

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I saw this tweet from former U-T San Diego columnist Tim Sullivan the other day, and wanted to share it because it makes the mind race, perhaps to places it hasn’t been in a long while:

untitled

How would you re-do things if you could? I think I’d play the guitar–it’s something I’ve always wished I could do. I was a “percussionist” from the fifth grade through 12th grade, and I put that in quotes to say that they allowed me to play the triangle and cymbals…and very little else. I wasn’t very good.

I’m sure a lot of people would like to be friends with Bill Gates, but that doesn’t mean even when he got rich that he’d share any of his money with you…

MUSICAL GUEST

Rihanna…take it away!

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

MCsig

I’m Just a Teenage Phenom, Baby

Greetings from Midland, Michigan, where the TinCaps embark on Day 3 of the Midwest League season. Here’s how the day began for outfielder Corey Adamson:

untitled
Keep in mind it’s particularly cold for Adamson, who returned to his native Australia for the winter to play in the Australian Baseball League, where it’s their summer during our winter.
Here’s my current view from the team hotel:
Yes, there is snow in the forecast today.

Yes, there is snow in the forecast today.

The TinCaps haven’t let gloomy skies or cold temperatures get them down, because they’re off to a 2-0 start on the year. Last night was a Jekyll and Hyde performance by the offense, which had just three hits and one runner in scoring position through the first eight innings. (The RISP, by the way, came in the eighth.) But, that’s why on the seventh day, the baseball gods created the ninth inning.

Mallex Smith, Maxx Tissenbaum and Jeremy Baltz had back-to-back-to-back hits to start the inning, with Baltz’s single scoring Smith, making a 2-0 Great Lakes edge into a 2-1 advantage. Fort Wayne scored five more times in the ninth and Matthew Shepherd tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to help secure the win.

The much-anticipated debut of the Padres’ top draft pick in 2012, Max Fried, came yesterday and other than shaky first inning, the lefty looked good. Fried walked three men in the first and allowed a run to score, but came back to strike out the final two batters of the inning, limiting the damage. It was smooth sailing after that for the remainder of his night, as he went four innings, gave up one hit, walked four (total) and struck out five.

It was a pretty joyous team bus ride back to the hotel after the game, with Stephen Carmon playing DJ to a wide variety of tunes including Usher’s “Confessions, Part II” and Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag”, which is funny considering the number of teenagers on the team…oh, and the song came out in July of 2000, when Fried was six years old.

Tonight it’s another 6:05 game, with Justin Hancock making his first start of the year, and his first appearance in a TinCaps uniform since May 28th of last year. He was 0-4 with a 6.95 ERA in 13 games last year with Fort Wayne. All reports out of spring training were positive about Hancock, so we’ll see what he does tonight. Projected temperature? 45 degrees. Pack those slankets (blankets with sleeves), folks.

PODCAST

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I chat with starter Joe Ross about his development from last year to this year, on working with a new pitching coach, and what advice he gave to Fried:

QUESTIONS FOR KEVIN MENCH

Author Jeff Pearlman does what he calls “The Quaz Q&A” on his website, described as:

“A question-and-answer session with a person from sports/entertainment/politics/whatever”

and his most recent guest was former big-leaguer Kevin Mench. I worked with Mench in 2010, when I was broadcasting with the Syracuse Chiefs, the Nationals’ Triple-A club in Upstate New York. Mench was a great guy, and very funny around the clubhouse. He and Ron Villone seemed a match made in heaven to lead Kangaroo Court. (Villone, by the way, is currently the pitching coach for the Cubs’ MWL affiliate, the Kane County Cougars.)

Lots of good stuff from Mench here about getting out of baseball, being a proud native of Delaware (shout out to Elena Delle Donne) and steroids (which he did not use). My favorite selection comes from the topic of his nickname, Shrek:

J.P.: Many ballplayers come, many ballplayers go. Yet you’ll always be remembered for wearing a size 8 cap, thereby earning the memorable nickname, Shrek. I’m wondering when you first realized you had a pretty large noggin, and if you took the Shrek thing as a compliment or an insult? Or neither?

K.M.: I’ve always had a big head. They used to call me ‘Cabeza’ back when I was in Little League. And it’s one of those things—Bruce Bochy actually has a bigger head. He’s like an 8 ½. But I’ve always had a big head. It runs in the family. I’ve accepted it. Rusty Greer actually gave me the Shrek nickname. He gave it to me in spring training one day. It was right when Shrek came out. And he’s like, ‘I’m gonna give it to you.’ I was like, ‘Fuck you, it’ll never stick.’ He went right to the media, and ever since the fans … always talked to me about it. That’s how people can relate to me. The kids. I sign it on autographs, sign it on stuff when they ask. It just helps people relate.

Here’s the link to the full Q&A: http://www.jeffpearlman.com/the-quaz-qa-kevin-mench/

WORKOUT PLAYLISTS

With baseball season getting back into season, and me being in a routine every day (albeit an odd one with interesting hours), I’m getting back on the workout train. It’s not easy to do, but I was inspired by Dallas Mavericks broadcaster Mark Followill, who talks about the difficulty he faced in staying in-shape during a sporting season, but how he makes it work.

It was only fitting then, that I came across this hilarious piece in The Wall Street Journal about workout music and putting together your own personal playlist. Author Jason Gay had some lines that literally made me laugh out loud:

“It needs to be fun and a little shameless. It should not be moody, edgy or try too hard. Nobody runs a 5K to Cat Power. You are not going to jump rope to the Smiths. Katy Perry works just as well as Daft Punk. Disposability is a virtue. People in New York take obnoxious pride in their iPod playlists, curating them with precise attention to hipness and currency, as if they’re fearful Lou Reed will peep over their shoulder on the subway, see the Black Eyed Peas on the screen and buy them a ticket on the first bus back to Connecticut.”

“Don’t be embarrassed! Sweat jams are good! Exercise is important! (Especially if you spent last night sitting on the couch with box wine and bag of Pirate’s Booty, Netflixing “House of Cards.”)”

“There are other tricks. Lately I have been listening to a song called “October” by Deadmau5. All I know about Deadmau5 is that it’s actually spelled Deadmau5. I listen to “October” partly because it’s a great, pulsating song. But I also listen to it because it’s 7 minutes and 23 seconds long, and the gym I go to is a mile from my house, and if I can run to the gym before “October” ends, I am very happy with that pace.”

Read the whole article here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323646604578402954268007448.html

MUSICAL GUEST

The Wanted…take it away!

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

MCsig

One Down, 139 To Go

As I signed off of the broadcast last night, I jokingly said, “One down, 139 to go for the Fort Wayne TinCaps”, but there was a little bit of a serious note to what I said. Yesterday’s win was great, but it’s a long season and today the energy of Opening Day won’t be there, and it’s an entirely new challenge for the team.

I overheard a conversation on the bus while riding to the park yesterday, as two players chatted about Opening Day.

Player 1: I’m really excited for Opening Day, it’s gonna be great, but cold. (Ed note: Gametime temperature was 55 degrees)

Player 2: Yeah, but it’s tomorrow (meaning Friday–today) when it’s going to be hard when the crowd is smaller and you don’t have the adrenaline to rely on.

Player 1: Oh, yeah. You’re right.

A short, but to-the-point conversation there.

Whether it was a strong wind blowing out to left field last night, raw power or a jolt of adrenaline, the TinCaps got what they needed last night in a 5-2 win over Great Lakes. Joe Ross was stellar, dealing five shutout innings and allowing just one hit. In his seventh Midwest League outing, it was a far cry from his first–a seven run, 1 1/3 inning performance–back on April 7, 2012.

The TinCaps got two home runs–one from CF Brian Adams and another from DH Mallex Smith. Oddly enough, in Fort Wayne’s first game at Great Lakes last year, they also hit two dingers. SS Jace Peterson hit one and the other came off the bat of 2B Travis Whitmore.

As the excitement of day one trickles into day two, the number of eyes and ears on Fort Wayne’s game tonight may increase because of one name: Max Fried.

The lefthander, who celebrated his 19th birthday on January 18th, is scheduled to start today for Fort Wayne. The Padres selected him seventh overall in the draft last year. Here’s the Padres.com story from the draft:

“It’s loose, athletic, 6-foot-4, a downhill delivery and good arm action,” (Padres assistant General Manager of Player Personnel Chad) MacDonald said. “It’s the way it’s supposed to look. We were tickled to death to get our lefty at seven.”

Fried has a fastball that sits in the 90-91 mph range, though he can reach higher at times. He also has a very good curveball, which is regarded by many as a plus pitch.

Fried previously pitched for Montclair Prep, which is also in California, but when the school ended its athletics program, Fried then joined forces with pitcher Lucas Giolito, whom he had befriended at Area Code tryouts the summer prior and was picked by the Washington Nationals nine spots after Fried.

“Being a Southern California boy and being drafted by a Southern California organization, there’s no better place I’d rather be, especially with it being a pitchers’ park,” Fried said on a conference call Monday. “I felt at home there, I felt it was somewhere I was able to be myself than other places I wasn’t.”

So now it’s time to see how that excitement translates into performance. Will it be a 2012 Ross-esque outing, or more of the 2013 Ross we saw yesterday? Who knows? Maybe it’ll be somewhere in between.

PODCAST

To those of you who tuned into the broadcast yesterday (Thanks, Mom!) you may have caught my pregame conversation with second-year Manager Jose Valentin. For the other four of you who didn’t listen, here’s that chat in full:

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Also, if you’d like to listen you can go to TheFanFortWayne.com and click “Listen Live”. First pitch tonight is 6:05 ET.

OOPS

Ever wonder what broadcasters do in between innings? If I’m not sprinting to the bathroom (great genes), researching a fact online or checking a box score from other games, I’ll glance at my phone every now and again to make sure no one’s called to tell me I’ve won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. Hey, you never know..oh, wait, that’s the New York Lottery’s slogan. Anyway…here’s what happened to Reds TV broadcaster Thom Brennaman yesterday when he dropped his cellphone out the window of the press box:

MUSICAL GUEST

Krewella…take it away!

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

MCsig

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