Five Straight, Int’l News, The Stacks

Last night the TinCaps rattled off their fifth straight victory, defeating Lansing, 7-4, completing a three-game sweep of the Lugnuts.

Fort Wayne is now 1/2 game ahead of Bowling Green for the first-half wild-card spot in the Eastern Division. Today is the first time since April 12th that the TinCaps have been in second place. Now as Fort Wayne welcomes West Michigan to town for four games, things are looking up. Not only are the TinCaps on a five-game winning streak, one shy of their season-best, but the combined record of their opponents is also below .500. In the next 17 games, the TinCaps play West Michigan, Lansing, Dayton and Lake County, which are a combined 81-117 (.425). You’ve got to like those odds.

Tonight’s game is a 7:05 first pitch, with Walker Weickel making his second home start and in search of his first win of the year. Also Star Wars night it is, and post-game fireworks there are.

We’ll be on the air at 7:00 tonight on XFINITY 81 and the radio broadcast can be heard on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.

OF NOTE

Per a release from Major League Baseball, there will be no international draft in 2014:

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From a report on SI.com, here’s why this matters, especially in Minor League Baseball:

Both organizations (MLB and MLBPA) are expected to continue pursuing a future international draft to help curb corruption throughout the Latin American baseball pipeline. Major League Baseball has uncovered an increasing occurrence of identity fraud, scouts demanding kickbacks from multimillion bonuses and the use of performance enhancing drugs among Latin American prospects.

Opponents of a centralized international draft fear their talent pool will dry up, using Puerto Rico as an example after its prospects were included in MLB’s annual Rule 4 draft.

Critics also fear the establishment of an international draft will provide MLB another tool for curtailing multimillion-dollar bonuses for signees. MLB has proposed establishing a slotting system for international players and domestic draft picks.

I had written about this last year around the release of the movie Ballplayer: Pelotero:

It’s not just the exorbitant money that urges players and trainers to resort to any and all means. Even meager bonuses of $10,000 represent a windfall to the 42.2 percent of Dominicans who, according to U.S. government statistics, live below the poverty line.

“I do believe there are some issues that are inherent to the country and to its culture – the poverty – that are going to make it difficult for baseball ever to be completely confident the signing of players is totally above board and consistent with what we would expect to be good standards of conducting business,” said Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, who previously spent a year working for MLB trying to overhaul its Dominican operations. “At the same time, MLB cannot just sit idly and allow these things to happen. If nothing else, it can hold these clubs accountable for the things that happen there and do as much as it can to police the market.”

The current collective bargaining agreement in Major League Baseball limits what teams can spend in Latin America to $2.9 million between July 2, 2012 and July 1, 2013.

As of right now, Puerto Rico is included in the June draft (otherwise known as the Rule 4 draft), but foreign countries like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Colombia, which is where most of the foreign talent in Major League Baseball comes from, is not included in the draft. Because of that, teams and other middlemen have been known to do anything they can to try and bring players to their franchise. That’s what Ballplayer is all about. I’m interested to see where this situation goes.

FROM “THE STACKS”

Deadspin has put together what it calls a “living archive of great journalism” in a section of its website called The Stacks, and the latest entry there comes from an interview done with famous sportswriter Red Smith. A few excerpts:

Over the years people have said to me, “Isn’t it dull covering baseball every day?” My answer used to be “It becomes dull only to dull minds.” Today’s game is always different from yesterday’s game. If you have the perception and the interest to see it, and the wit to express it, your story is always different from yesterday’s story. I thoroughly enjoyed covering baseball daily.

I still think every game is different, not that some of them aren’t dull, but it’s a rare person who lives his life without encountering dull spots. It’s up to the writer to take a lively interest and see the difference. Of course most of my years I was with a club to which a pennant race was only a rumor—the Philadelphia Athletics. I did ten years with them. They were always last.

I couldn’t agree more with what Smith says there. Anyone who tells me the game of baseball is boring fails to understand the intricacies of the game. Each batter has a different story that he brings to the plate. Brian Adams has struck out in 22 of his last 23 games, Chris Burke has played at every level of the San Diego farm system this season, Walker Weickel is only making his second home start tonight…you get the picture.

This selection, on the glorification of athletes, rings true still today:

I won’t deny that the heavy majority of sportswriters, myself included, have been and still are guilty of puffing up the people they write about. I remember one time when Stanley Woodward, my beloved leader, was on the point of sending me a wire during spring training, saying, “Will you stop Godding up those ball players?” I didn’t realize what I had been doing. I thought I had been writing pleasant little spring training columns about ball players.

If we’ve made heroes out of them, and we have, then we must also lay a whole set of false values at the doorsteps of historians and biographers. Not only has the athlete been blown up larger than life, but so have the politicians and celebrities in all fields, including rock singers and movie stars.

When you go through Westminster Abbey you’ll find that excepting for that little Poets’ Corner almost all of the statues and memorials are to killers. To generals and admirals who won battles, whose specialty was human slaughter. I don’t think they’re such glorious heroes.

I’ve tried not to exaggerate the glory of athletes. I’d rather, if I could, preserve a sense of proportion, to write about them as excellent ball players, first-rate players. But I’m sure I have contributed to false values—as Stanley Woodward said, “Godding up those ball players.”

I try very hard to avoid using the word ‘hero’ when it comes to sports, feeling that it is best reserved for those who save lives or fight in the military, not for someone in athletics.

MARCH OF THE LUGNUTS

Check out this video from Sean Morrison, the TinCaps beat reporter from The Journal Gazette: http://jg.net/article/20130530/BLOGS07/130539929/1008/SPORTS

It shows the odd walking formation the Lansing bullpen uses before the game to travel from the clubhouse to the bullpen. I suppose bullpens are the quirkiest place in baseball, but it’s probably better to save the antics for when your team ERA isn’t third to last in the league…

Screenshot from Sean Morrison's video

Screenshot from Sean Morrison’s video

MUSICAL GUEST

Ariana Grande…take it away!

Thanks for reading. 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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