Five in Four, Football?, A Reflection

Yesterday’s 7-5 TinCaps win at Lake County wasn’t always pretty, but that’s not what counts. Fort Wayne got out to a 3-0 lead, and saw that disappear with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. Matthew Shepherd, winless in his first four starts, was one out away from completing five innings in line for a win, and then Richard Stock hit a three-run homer to tie the game. Shepherd, as fate goes, then got the next batter out on a weak dribbler back to the mound.

Perhaps the star of the game was TinCaps reliever Matt Chabot, who gave up just one run over three innings, keeping things close for his team to eventually score four runs over the final three innings of the game. Yesterday also marked the return of Roman Madrid, who was reinstated from the disabled list and pitched for the first time since July 20th. He notched his league-leading 16th save, but allowed a run and had the tying runs on base in the bottom of the ninth before putting the Captains to bed.

Tonight marks the opener of a five-game, four-day series against the Lugnuts. Something really cool tonight, by the way: the TinCaps are offering individual tickets to The 400 Club for tonight’s game only. It’s the first, and perhaps the only time, that’s going to happen this season, so jump on that offer ASAP.

First pitch tonight is at 7:05 and tomorrow is a doubleheader with a 2:05 start time, so make sure to mark your calendars for that one.

Additionally, I’ll be out of town for the next two days. I’ll be in Long Beach, California, working at the Adidas Nations basketball tournament. Along with Dave Telep and Paul Biancardi, I’ll have the call of two games there Monday night at 7ET and 9ET on ESPNU, and I’ll be back on Tuesday for the TinCaps game. John Nolan will have you covered here on the blog and on XFINITY 81, joining Kent Hormann on TV.

PODCAST

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I chat with Fort Wayne starting pitcher Max Fried, who took the hill two nights ago. He debunks the myth that just because a player was in high school last year, that his arm is tired at this point in the season. We also discuss his curveball control, and what he does when he doesn’t have it. Lastly, I ask him what’s the best piece of advice he’s gotten this year. His answer might surprise you:

WALES? IS THAT A COUNTRY?

NBC Sports Network will be carrying English Premier League Soccer very soon, and just released a laugh-out-loud funny video promoting their coverage. It stars former Saturday Night Live cast member Jason Sudeikis as a “football” coach, who’s pretty clueless. Enjoy:

A REFLECTION

Last week Dallas Radio personality Kidd Kraddick passed away at the age of 53. Kraddick was at a charity event, raising money in New Orleans and his death was sudden. He was one of the most popular radio hosts in the country, having been on the air in that market since 1984. There were a lot of pieces written about him, but the one that stood out the most to me was this one, written by Dallas radio host Gordon Keith. He writes a column for The Dallas Morning News, and always brings a thoughtful take to the table.

When I heard Kidd had died, it felt unbelievable and understandable. If anyone burned the candle at both ends, it was Kidd. That man went all the time. He could seemingly live on diet sodas, energy drinks and the euphoria of sleep deprivation. Many of us are like that. We go all the time, and our world feels like it demands it. But no one wants to leave the party with unused time, and 53 is young. I don’t care what my 24-year-old self says. Despite good work, sometimes big hearts give out. 

We often make the mistake of thinking we aren’t going to die for the silliest of reasons: We’ve never died before. It’s one of the strange byproducts of learned experience. So we push our bodies and luck. In the end, we kill the greatest gift we have — our life — to give to others. To many, it seems natural to care for the ones you love, but selfish to care for yourself. Maybe it’s a more digestible act of love for a weary working woman to take care of her child’s mother, even if she can’t stomach taking care of herself. 

One exercise that therapists and advice columnists suggest people do is to write their own obituaries. It’s actually a meaningful exercise, to see how your current life looks in the final assessment. It will bring your shortcomings into relief, and you’ll always realize it’s later than you think.

Kidd Kraddick’s life became so much bigger than an old black-and-white parking lot glossy. He entertained millions and burned brightly. His obituary will be forever filled with superlatives and the sentiments of strangers. Most of us will never get an obit so grand, but we will have one, whether it’s published or not. And I know that I’m not satisfied with my current draft.

I didnt know Kraddick or his work, but I was still taken by this column by Keith. Then, I got a phone call Wednesday around 11:50 a.m.. It was from Evan Lepler, who has worked as the analyst on the two ESPN Ultimate Frisbee broadcasts I’ve done play-by-play for this year. I answered the phone and said, “Hey, I’m about to go on the air, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy our conversation.” I didn’t. He let me know that Tom Domer, who was the producer for our broadcasts, had died at the age of 63.

I went back to my email, and saw that, yes, I had just emailed Tom a week prior. I had just worked with him in North Carolina two weeks earlier. Now, I would never see him again. Perhaps it’s because of my age that I haven’t had many people in my adult life pass away, so this was a strange experience.

Tom wasn’t someone I was close to–we had worked together twice for a total of six days–but I still felt like I knew him, and that our relationship would continue to grow over time. So many times when people close to us die, they are loved ones who go because of old age or disease, and we know that their death is imminent. This was the complete opposite.

During the baseball season, the players and staff around the clubhouse become more than family to you. Whatever the next level is, it’s more than that. No one in their right mind would spend 12 hours a day with the same group of 30 people for six months straight, but that’s essentially what baseball season is. And you make it work. You make room for the other people on the bus, you learn about their families, where they’re from, what makes them tick and what their goals are. That’s the only way to make it work. But then, one day, a player gets promoted, and he’s not on the team anymore and you don’t have contact with him. Someone who might have been a vital part of the clubhouse atmosphere, or someone to say hi to every day because he’d offer good conversation, like Jeremy Baltz was this season, is all of a sudden in Lake Elsinore and likely not coming back once the All-Star break rolls around.

To be clear, I am not saying that a player promotion is in any way equivalent to the death of someone. I’m just trying to draw the closest parallel I know in this situation. This is the first time that someone I’ve known in my adult life has died. The last time someone I knew died was when I was in fifth grade and my grandmother died. I cried, but I think it was more because everyone else was than that I could say I knew her very well.

So when someone you know all of a sudden isn’t there anymore, you start to ask yourself questions…What didn’t I say that I wish I would have? What did I always want to know about that person? Was I the best I could have been to that person?

As Keith suggests with writing one’s own living obituary, I think it’s a good reflection to take stock of our relationships with everyone in our lives, and see if they’re where we’d like them do be. Whether it’s in a professional setting in a clubhouse with a baseball player, working with a television producer, or in a personal element. This past week and that unexpected phone call provided plenty of time for thought. It was good, but difficult.

MUSICAL GUEST

Wale…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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