They Win When I’m Away
Hello again, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be back with you here in baseball blog land. Thanks to John Nolan for holding down the scene while I was away from the team this weekend. It looks like the TinCaps played better while I was gone, as they won two of three against Bowling Green to pull themselves within 1.5 games of a wild-card playoff spot. It seems like the wild-card spot will be the hotly contested one in the Eastern Division, with South Bend on a tear, winners of their last eight games and four ahead of second-place Bowling Green.
Tonight the TinCaps open a seven-game homestand with the first of three games against the Lansing Lugnuts, Toronto’s Midwest League affiliate. The Lugnuts are still relatively hot, despite having lost their last three games in a sweep by the Silver Hawks. Prior to that set, Lansing ripped off eight wins in a row from May 16th to the 23rd. No one is safe in the Midwest League, I tell you. No one!
Fort Wayne made few roster moves recently, too, placing stating pitcher Ruben Mejia on the disabled list, and adding hurler Joe Church from extended spring training. The 23-year-old Church is from Princeton, West Virginia, and played his college baseball at Marshall. This TinCaps team will be very familiar with Church, who pitched in 25 games last year at Eugene, going 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA, working only in relief. Mejia’s injury leaves on open spot in the rotation for Thursday’s game, so we’ll have to wait and see who takes his place in the six-man rotation.
We hope to either welcome you to Parkview Field tonight or have you along for our broadcasts. You can see the game on XFINITY 81 or listen on The Fan 1380 or TheFanFortWayne.com.
I suppose I should explain exactly where I was this weekend, right? Well, I was off to Madison, Wisconsin, for the USA Ultimate College Championships, which I was broadcasting for ESPN. If you’re not familiar, I’m talking about frisbee (although technically that’s a copyrighted word, so the sport is just called Ultimate).
Well, it was a whirlwind of fun this weekend, and an entirely new challenge for me as a broadcaster. I was learning a new sport, while also trying to follow game after game of action throughout the tournament weekend. There were 40 teams (20 women’s, 20 open) that arrived for the weekend, and keeping an eye on all of them was fun. I was able, along with my broadcast partner Evan Lepler, the voice of Minor League Baseball’s Salem Red Sox, to bounce around from one game to another, seeing score after score and plenty of incredible athleticism.
There was a history of the game to absorb, new terms, plenty of people to meet, rules to learn, and phrases to master. I found that the Ultimate community is a very tightly-knit group with an incredible passion for the game. It’s always fun to be around people who love what they do, and that’s the type of vibe that I got all weekend. Perhaps what impressed me most about the Ultimate athletes is how skilled they all are. Many of them play from a young age in hotbed areas like Seattle or British Columbia, but others don’t start playing until college, having been lured over from other sports like track and field, cross country, soccer or even basketball. There is an incredible amount of endurance and dedication that it takes to compete at such a high level.
The coaches aren’t full-time in their positions, either. Pittsburgh, the champion of the open division, is led by a 2009 graduate of the school, Nick Kaczmarek, who is a 7th grade teacher during the day, and also coaches a youth Ultimate team during the week. We were on the same flight through Chicago on our way back home, and he was in touch with his boss back at school, letting her know that he might not make it back to teach today. (Fortunately our flight was not delayed. Huzzah!)
If you’re interested in seeing how the game is played, you can watch the re-air of the women’s and open championships on ESPNU tomorrow night, with the open championship starting at 8 PM and the women’s at 9 PM.
In the mean time, here’s me saying one of my favorite team nicknames, Saucy Nancy:
Listen to John Nolan’s Monday chat with infielder Maxx Tissenbaum as they talk baseball, blogging and…Instragram filters? Yes, Instagram filters.
Timeflies…take it away!