Fort Wayne’s got an early one today on Sunday, with a first pitch scheduled for 1:30 against Lake County. Yesterday was a phenomenal win for the TinCaps, as they defeated the Captains, 5-0, in the opening contest of a three-game series. The TinCaps had eight hits by the time the fourth inning was through, and finished with 13 total. Mallex Smith, who has struggled in the month of June, went 4-for-5 in the leadoff, spot, and he’ll be hitting there again today.
Max Fried and the pitching staff stole the show, though. Fried, on a limited pitch count, went five innings and only surrendered two hits. The rest of the way, Colin Rea, Chris Nunn and Roman Madrid only allowed one hit between the thre of them. That was the type of outing that Manager Jose Valentin has been looking for.
Coming up on today’s pre-game show (1:10 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com), I’ll ask him about his overall thoughts on this month, which has seen the TinCaps:
-Clinch a playoff berth
-Lose Jeremy Baltz and Justin Hancock due to promotion
-Have Adys Portillo for three starts
-Lose Alberth Martinez to injury
-Gain 2012 TinCaps 2B Tyler Stubblefield back from independent baseball
-And much more
We’ll also talk about his lineup shake-up on Thursday and the reasoning behind it, and about Matt Shepherd’s coming move into the Fort Wayne starting rotation.
Talk to you on the radio!
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I ask Mallex Smith about his role as a leadoff hitter, the development of his bunting skills, and ask him to rank from favorite to least favorite: Christmas Eve, batting practice, Cool Ranch Doritos and a warm shower. His answer might surprise you.
Mumford and Sons…take it away! (That sounds like a moving company when you say it that way)
A pleasant good afternoon to you from Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio, the home of the Lake County Captains for more than 10 seasons.
Tonight the TinCaps face the Captains at 7:00, with a battle of lefthanders–Max Fried for Fort Wayne and Ryan Merritt for Lake County–to get the series underway. Fort Wayne was rained out last night in Lansing before the first pitch was scheduled to be thrown. But let’s be fair, if the team couldn’t reach its dugout, could they really play baseball?
While the team bus rumbled through the night from Lansing to Eastlake, we stopped at a rest stop. I picked up some trail mix, but couldn’t help wondering if there were some bad food titlers (is that a job?) out there:
While the Captains got off to a hot start to this second half at 5-1, they were just swept by the Great Lakes Loons and scored just three runs in their three-game series. Let’s hope things stay that way, huh? They’ve been plagued by a similar problem the TinCaps have had to deal with, which has been stranding runners in scoring position. In that three-game set, Lake County went 2-23 with runners in scoring position. Not. Good. At 28-48, the Captains are still in last place in the Eastern Division, and they also lead the Midwest League with 117 errors. What’s a few more, right?
Tonight’s game begins at 7:00, and I’ll have pre-game coverage at 6:40 on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne, and TheFanFortWayne.com across the world. (Seriously, TinCaps broadcasts are big in Moldova.)
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
On today’s podcast, I chat with reliever Matt Shepherd about his transition from starter in college, to reliever in pro ball, and now potentially a return to a starting role. We also discuss how a pitcher has to evolve after seeing a team more often during the season, and Matt gets his fortune from a fortune cookie:
GOODBYE, CANADA. HELLO, L.A.
If you’re a sports TV viewer, which I imagine many of you might be, considering you’re a blog that advertises itself as a baseball blog (though it’s often more than that), I think you’ll enjoy this story about Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. The pair is currently the anchor team for TSN’s top sports highlight show, which is the equivalent of ESPN’s SportsCenter. But, they’ll be leaving TSN in short order.
“On July 8, they will be in Los Angeles, beginning rehearsals for FOX Sports Live, which will become the “flagship news, opinion and highlights program” on the fledgling channel FOX Sports 1.”
This article, which you can read by clicking here, details how they got to their current positions, and what’s led to them jumping ship to go work for FS1. It’s evident that Canadian sports viewers appreciate their commentary and their humor. There’s a great quote in the story about why people find them relatable and humorous:
“To really be truly funny, you have to not care at all; you have to not be afraid to fail … there’s not ego or anything involved. You have to be willing to look ridiculous.”
If you watch some of the video clips in the story, you’ll see their humor and natural chemistry come across. It’s good stuff.
Florida Georgia Line…take it away!
The TinCaps snapped their five-game losing streak Thursday night with an 8-1 victory over the Lansing Lugnuts. A five-run seventh inning, Fort Wayne’s best inning of the year in terms of run production, helped them run away with the victory. That’s now five straight games started by Zach Eflin that the TinCaps have won. Luis Domoromo snapped a 1-22 start to his second tour of duty with Fort Wayne by going 3-for-4 and hitting not one but two triples in that fifth inning.
Unfortunately, the win also came with a price tag, as Alberth Martinez was hit in the face by a pitch in the third inning, and fractured several bones on the left side of his face. He’ll be out several weeks with that injury. The pitch that injured him was an up-and-in fastball that nicked the flap of his helmet and then grazed off his face, but was enough to do some damage. He left the field with a towel covering his face, due to a nosebleed caused by the impact of the ball. He was in the clubhouse today, sporting a black eye, but otherwise in good spirits. Certainly good to see him laughing after what was a scary incident yesterday.
By the way, it’s raining right now in Lansing, and the visitor’s dugout hasn’t handled that so well:
Hopefully things clear up by gametime. It’s a 7:05 first pitch tonight on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com. TinCaps pitcher Matt Shepherd will be my guest.
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
Prior to Thursday’s game, I talked with Padres Director of Scouting Billy Gasparino, who was named to that position this past September. He gave me great insight into his career (he’s a former stockbroker), what it’s like trying to whittle down the entire field of draftable players to the ones he wants to choose, and how the spread of information has changed scouting:
WORTH LISTENING TO
This interview of Jerry Seinfeld by Howard Stern captivated me last night (and this morning, since I fell asleep listening to it).
The most interesting part from Seinfeld was when he said, “I’m never not working on material. Ever. Every second of my existence I’m thinking, “Could I do something with that?”
Stern recalls a joke Seinfeld made long ago about chopsticks, and asked him if he could ever go to a Chinese restaurant and not try to be thinking about material. Seinfeld said, “What fun is life if I’m not making jokes all the time?”
I’ve said before that if I weren’t a broadcaster, I think it would be a lot of fun to try and be a stand-up comic (minus the part that it’s really hard and I’m definitely not as funny as I think I am). But I think there is a parallel between what Seinfeld says and broadcasting, in that everything you see and do during the day can be turned into material, whether for a joke or for a broadcast to make something into an anecdote someone can relate to.
If you like Jerry Seinfeld, this interview is a good window into his process.
U2…take it away!
On Wedensday the TinCaps lost, 7-5, against Lansing, having tied the game in the top of the eighth on an Alberth Martinez two-run homer, only to see that lead wilt in the bottom of the eighth as the Lugnuts scored two more against Colin Rea. Fort Wayne has now lost five straight, and is in danger of losing six straight games for the first time since 2011.
Tonight Zach Eflin takes the hill for the TinCaps, with first pitch set for 7:05. I’ll have the call on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
I catch up with Colin Rea, who just re-joined the TinCaps after a demotion from Advanced-A Lake Elsinore. Rea talks about his continuing fastball command, the difference between Advanced-A and Low-A, and which league has better travel:
THEIR OWN THEME SONG
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share this song this year. Ladies and gentlemen, the Lansing Lugnuts’ theme song:
Here are the lyrics, for your karaoke pleasure:
You got inhibitions
You got vocal cords
You got the rhythm
You got the beat
You gotta clap your hands
You gotta stomp your feet
Go Nuts, Go Nuts, Go Nuts, Go Nuts
Lugnuts, Lugnuts, Lugnuts, Lugnuts
There is a second verse, but I think my brain might leak out through my ears if I keep typing these lyrics. The sad part is, though, I have found myself singing along to this song as the season has gone on. It not only plays before the game, but it also plays when the Lugnuts win, which they last night against Fort Wayne.
They’re not the only team with a theme song, however. The Great Lakes Loons have one, too (skip ahead to the 34-second mark:
“Full count, bases loaded, cheering crowd
The ball takes off the Loons will make us proud
Very fun, big smiles, Michigan pride
Hold on tight, we’ll take it for a ride
Keep your eye on the ball
Get ready you’ll hear our call
To the game when the pitcher takes the mound
To the plays to the sight and sound
We’re gonna make Dow Diamond shine
It’s Loons baseball time!”
The Loons song is definitely my favorite of the two, because it’s much catchier and modern sounding.
Anyone up for writing a TinCaps theme song? I think we should put John Nolan on the case…
A GREAT VISIT
A lot of the time when you go on the road in Minor League Baseball, you can feel a bit isolated. Alone in the hotel room, alone in the broadcast booth, “table for one, please”, you get the picture. That’s why it was so nice yesterday to get a visit from Matt Friedman, who like me, is a graduate of Syracuse University, and works in public relations just outside of Detroit.
Let this demonstrate the power of social media. Matt and I had met on fleeting occasions during my time in college at the alumni events for our campus radio station, WJPZ. Since then, though, we’ve talked a lot more on Twitter than we have in person. But, I saw Matt this past winter at our station’s alumni banquet, and we made initial plans to hang out at a game this summer. (By the way, Matt is a great news/PR/sports follow on Twitter: @MattFrieds.)
Thanks to Matt, and his business partner, Don Tanner, who took this great picture, for coming out to Lansing. Great to see you!
La Roux…take it away!
Checking in late today…a delayed departure from Parkview Field, plus a quick turnaround to the ballpark made for a late-night blog.
Here’s what’s happening–The TinCaps are now 1-6 to start the second half, which means they’re in last place. This is what Jose Valentin had to say following Tuesday’s loss (he wasn’t happy):
In Wednesday’s game, a 7-5 loss to Lansing, Fort Wayne went just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. That’s been the problem ailing the TinCaps the most here in the second half.
More to come tomorrow, including a chat with Colin Rea, who makes his return to Fort Wayne. I’ll also look to chat with Billy Gasparino, the director of scouting for the Padres, who is in town watching the team.
Off to sleep!
The Killers…take it away!
In the longest game of the year, both innings-wise and time-wise, the TinCaps lost, 9-6, facing the West Michigan Whitecaps Monday night.
Fort Wayne never held a lead for very long, as they were up, 3-2, after four innings, but West Michigan stormed back with four runs in the fifth and sixth, and the TinCaps scored three runs combined in the sixth and the seventh, with the Whitecaps scoring three times in the top of the 13th against Roman Madrid to seal the win.
Gameplay itself was four hours, thirteen minutes, and a brief rain delay after the eighth inning was 38 minutes. In the first five games of the second half, Fort Wayne is now 1-4. Missed opportunities were the name of the game yesterday, as Fort Wayne went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position, left 16 runners on base, and struck out 17 times, which is one shy of the franchise record for strikeouts in one game.
Today is the finale of the series and of this six-game homestand. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 at Parkview Field. It’s Splash Day, too, which means if you’re at the game, you should prepare to get a little wet, so bring your bathing suit! This will also likely be the last start for Adys Portillo, who has been working his way through a triceps injury, as he presumably tries to make his way back to Double-A San Antonio, where he finished last season after a promotion from Fort Wayne.
If you can’t make it to the game, check us out on XFINITY 81. If you don’t want your boss to know you’re watching baseball, listen on the radio on The Fan 1380 (at a reasonable volume) or online at TheFanFortWayne.com.
TALKING WITH A LEGEND
Yankees great Bobby Richardson, who played in New York from 1955-1966, and made it to the Yankees at age 19, was our guest on the TV broadcast yesterday. He was an eight-time all-star, three time World Series Champion, and the MVP of the 1960 World Series, even though the Yankees were on the losing end. Our conversation spanned his time in the minors (back when there was Class D baseball and a minor-league team in Denver), what it was like to travel when he played, and on some of the big-name players he was a teammate of in New York:
On what it was like playing in the Minor Leagues:
“When I started out, meal money was $2.50 and I probably made closer to $350 a month, when I got up to Triple-A, it got up to $350 or $400 a month. When I got to Denver, we started to fly because of the tremendous distance.”
On playing for Casey Stengel:
“I’m not sure he learned my name in those five years.”
“My first two years we traveled by train. We had two Pullmans with a dining car in between. When the west coast came into the league we had to fly. We were the last team to fly. We had a traveling secretary who didn’t like to fly and he used the excuse that the ballplayers were too valuable to fly because we don’t want to lose them all in the air at one time.”
On Bobby Martin getting traded to Kansas City
“It had all the impact in the world. He went out to a nightclub one night with three of the fellas and they had a big bill they didn’t have the money for, and he signed the owner’s name. (The Yankees) used that to trade him to Kansas City. We were in Kansas City, and we went out to the bus (after a game) and Casey Stengel and Billy Martin stayed in the clubhouse for over an hour, and they came out, Billy sat next to me and said, “OK, kid, I’ve been traded to Kansas City and (the job) is all yours now. We were vying for the same position, and I got his uniform number. It was sad because it’s always tough when somebody leaves a ballclub. I’d seen it happen so many times with my friends and teammates, that I was sad for him.”
What was it like traveling with Roger Maris, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle?
“We had guys like Elston Howard that would’ve been a most valuable player on any other ballclub, and he couldn’t make the starting lineup because of Yogi Berra. Then finally (the Yankees) got wise, and put the one who wasn’t catching out in left field, and we had all the bats in the lineup.”
On Yogi Berra as Manager:
“I remember he came down to spring training and said, ‘Hey, I want to try something out on your for tomorrow. It’s the first time I’m going to be speaking to the ballclub–I’m going to set some rules: no tennis, no golf,’ and then he was going to say, ‘No, I’m just kidding we’ll work hard.’ He didn’t have a chance, (because) after the third rule, (Mickey) Mantle threw his bat down and said, ‘I quit’, threatened to walk out, and it backfired.”
Relationship with the Yankees:
“It’s wonderful. The Yankees have been so good to me. When I retired, I was the 10th Yankee to have a day at Yankee Stadium. From age 31, to being 77 now, I’ve been invited back to the old-timers game every year.”
Our thanks to Bobby, who signed plenty of autographs during his stop at Parkview Field, and we wish him the best.
Eric Clapton…take it away!
The TinCaps lost, 12-6, on Sunday evening against the West Michigan Whitecaps in the opener of their three-game series. When Fort Wayne closed out the first half, it did so with an 18-4 record. Now, in the first four games of the second half, the TinCaps are 1-3 and have been outscored 25-9. Here is yesterday’s game recap:
Tonight’s game is a 7:05 first pitch and will feature former Yankees infielder and 1960 World Series MVP Bobby Richardson signing autographs on the concourse. More info on that can be found here: http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130621&content_id=51325338&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_t584&sid=t584
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
John Nolan chats with Manager Jose Valentin about what the skipper did over the All-Star break, the changing roster, and his philosophy for guiding the team in the second half:
During the fourth inning of yesterday’s broadcast, Kent and I had the pleasure of being joined by United States Senator Dan Coats (R) of Indiana.
I opened my line of questioning with what Americans wanted to know. Yes, the Supreme Court is making rulings this week on the Defense of Marriage Act, Proposition 8, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, et al., but the people need to know:
When we we be able to use our cellphones/iPods/iPads on airplanes?
Unfortunately, Senator Coats does not work for the FCC or FAA, but he does sit on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which includes, “Regulation of interstate common carriers, including railroads, buses, trucks, vessels, pipelines, and civil aviation,” but he didn’t know when the government would allow us those few extra precious minutes to keep playing Candy Crush, Farmville 2 (yes, they made another one), Temple Run or Angry Birds.
In all seriousness, it was great to have the senator on, and we hope he makes a return to Parkview Field soon.
The Band Perry…take it away!
Other than that the TinCaps had five hits, one of which was a Chris Burke home run (his first with the team), there’s not much to re-visit from last night’s 9-1 loss to South Bend. The Silver Hawks continued their dominance over Fort Wayne, and have won eight of the nine games the two teams have played this season.
Much credit is due to TinCaps fans, however, who have absolutely packed Parkview Field over the last three nights:
Thursday: 8, 643 (stadium record)
Three-day total: 24, 259 fans
Three-day average: 8,086 fans
Well-done, everyone. It’s made the broadcasts, even in a 9-1 loss, much more enjoyable, because with the large crowd and the buzz going around the park (last night there were several “Let’s Go TinCaps” chants) it felt like a big-league atmosphere.
Tonight is a rare 5:05 start for a Sunday game, and the TinCaps will open a three-game series against the West Michigan Whitecaps. Last these two teams met, Fort Wayne earned a split of a four-game series with the Whitecaps.
You can see the game on XFINITY 81 and hear the action on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.
JOE: ROSS VERSION 2.0
In case you missed it, I published a story yesterday on the strong 2013 campaign Joe Ross is having, after being injured for a good portion of 2012. I talked to Joe, his brother, Tyson, who pitches for the Padres, and San Diego’s Minor League Pitching Coordinator, Mike Cather. All gave good insight into what’s been so different for Joe this season. There are some good nuggets from Tyson as to how he gets to keep track of Joe’s progress, and you’ll get a great analogy from Cather as to how learning in baseball can be similar to preparing food for a BBQ.
Here’s the story: http://tincaps.mlblogs.com/2013/06/22/joe-ross-version-2-0/
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
Mike Maahs chats with the Padres Vice President of Player Development/International Scouting, Randy Smith:
THE EL PASO (YOUR VOTE COUNTS)
Next year El Paso, Texas, will be the new home to the Padres Triple-A ballclub, and that team has to be named. As was the case when the Wizards became the TinCaps for the 2009 season, the franchise down in Texas has decided to using a naming contest to let the fans decide what the new name will be:
This is now the second time in as many years that a Triple-A team has had its name up for a vote, as the now Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders could have also been:
Black Diamond Bears
There’s no question that Trolley Frogs is the best name from among that quintet, so I have little faith in the people to pick the most absurd name and force the team to use that for years to come. I’m going to make two votes here, one for absurdity’s sake and the other being the one I’d actually like to the team to go with. My absurd vote is the Aardvarks. Perhaps solely because of the children’s television show Arthur, which features an anthropomorphic aardvark with an affinity for reading:
The Sun Dogs doesn’t really climb all too high on the absurdity scale, and the Arizona Fall League already has a team named the Desert Dogs. Desert Gators doesn’t do it for me either, as there was once a Texas League team named the Golden Gators, which were located in Beaumont, Texas. (Side note: Randy Smith once worked for the Beaumont Golden Gators.) Their logo doesn’t appear to exist anywhere on the internet, except for on this beer cup:
Chihuahuas would be somewhat novel, if only Taco Bell hadn’t made the diminutive dog jump the shark years ago through its marketing :
Having eliminated all other options, I choose the Buckaroos. It’s got a cowboy theme, it rolls off the tongue easily, and for the purposes of Minor League Baseball, the word “buck” can be easily tied into any type of dollar-night promotion you could ask for.
Mariah Carey…take it away!
Pitching has always come pretty easily for TinCaps starter Joe Ross. That is, until the day that it didn’t.
On May 10th, 2012, Joe Ross was scheduled to start at Parkview Field against the South Bend Silver Hawks. It would have been his eighth professional appearance after having been selected in the first round, 25th overall, by San Diego in the 2011 draft. But his shoulder never felt quite right that day.
“I thought I’d get treatment, stretch and once I’d start throwing it’d feel better,” he said. “I got treatment and it still felt kind of tight. I got on the mound to warm up, threw about two pitches, and (then-TinCaps pitching coach) Willie Blair was like, “Hey, you feeling OK?” and I said, “No. Not at all.”’
For a second straight night to open the second half, the TinCaps didn’t provide much pop on the offensive side of things. In a 2-1 win over South Bend Friday night in 11 innings, Fort Wayne had only three opportunities with runners in scoring position through the first 11 frames, and then in the 12th Diego Goris delivered the winner–an RBI double down the right-field line–with Alberth Martinez standing on second base.
It was somewhat of a cathartic win for the TinCaps, who were winless in seven prior tries against South Bend. The TinCaps had lost four one-run games against the Silver Hawks, and lost one game in the series by just two runs. Thursday night saw the TinCaps lose, 2-1, and only pick up two base hits. Friday’s contest provided a little more offense (7 hits) and fantastic pitching.
Zach Eflin threw 91 pitches and had good command of the strike zone, and Matthew Shepherd, Leonel Campos, Roman Madrid and Chris Nunn combined for six more scoreless innings, holding South Bend to just two hits in the final six frames.
“As a bullpen, we got a good atmosphere down there. We know that’s our job – to come in and keep the game where it’s at,” Shepherd told The Journal Gazette. “I think we did a great job.”
I said in maybe the 10th or 11th inning, to my broadcast parner, Kent Hormann, that something had to give. The TinCaps were a perfect 5-0 in extra innings and 0-7 against South Bend. Fortunately, it was the former that ended up staying perfect.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, John Nolan chats with the recently re-acquired Tyler Stubblefield. The infielder was released by the Padres at the end of spring training, and just re-signed to a minor league contract this week. Listen in as Stubblefield talks about the process of being released, playing in independent baseball and then returning to his favorite Minor League Baseball city, Fort Wayne:
BIG BROTHER NEEDED
This next item was passed along to me by Kristen Kirchhaine, who is the chief meteorologist at WFFT-TV here in Fort Wayne. Kristen tells the story of Devon, a local 14-year-old, who loves baseball and is looking for a big brother. He says he’s never been to a baseball game before, and would really enjoy having a big brother to play catch with.
If you can help Devon, or are interested in being his big brother, call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 260-456-1600.
To see the full story, click here: http://fortwaynehomepage.net/ssb?nxd_id=92922
YOU ASK, I (ATTEMPT TO) ANSWER
As I got home last night, I saw that I had a new question in the (tw)inbox, and it was from @drkensf:
@MikeCouzens Future IAR readers want to know: how fast can you get from the press box to field level for the post-game interview?
My short (and tongue-in-cheek) answer I gave last night was that it depends on how much I’ve had to eat for dinner. Some days, it’s a lot. Yesterday I had two pieces of grilled chicken, baked beans, and 10 boneless wings. Hey, I was hungry, alright?
My extended, and much more relevant answer, is that I am, at times, sprinting down to the dugout to make sure the player I’m looking for (last night it was Diego Goris) doesn’t disappear. Of course, this is all made a little more complicated by the fact that I have to first finish up calling the half-inning that I’m doing on the television broadcast first. When the TinCaps are winning heading into the top of the ninth, this is made a bit easier as I’m already down in the dugout and don’t have to try and wiggle around a walk-off situation.
When I make my way from the press box, I go through the suite level hallway, thorough J. Chapman’s Suite Level Loft, and then down the stairs to the clubhouse level. On a few occasions last year I tried to go down to the concourse and go through the stands, but I found that I was going against the traffic of folks leaving the park, and that was inconvenient for everyone.
Now as the weather gets hotter, I’ll have to make sure that I not only get to the field quickly, but that I’m not sweating when I get to the field!
Emblem 3…take it away!