April 2014

Walk Off, Wake Up

Good morning to you and how ya be? Just about 12 hours after a walk-off win over Great Lakes, the TinCaps are back at Parkview Field to host the Loons this morning for an 11:05 first pitch.

Fort Wayne somehow found a way to win on a warm but wet Monday night in the Summit City. The TinCaps commited 5 errors, leading to 3 unearned runs, yet won, 7-6. José Carlos Ureña was the hero guy who everyone mobbed following his fielder’s choice groundout in the bottom of the 10th to score Franmil Reyes. Reyes, by the way, was the true offensive star for Fort Wayne last night, and arguably all season, for that matter. The 18-year-old had 4 hits last night, coming up just a double shy of hitting for the cycle (which he already did once back in 2012 in the Dominican Summer League).

For more on last night’s win — which ended a 3-game losing skid — check out our postgame recap that aired on XFINITY Channel 81:

The 5 errors weren’t the only thing to make you say “whoof” last night, though. It was also the first Parkview Field appearance of the year by Jake the Diamond Dog.

And speaking of dogs… the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, the Chihauhuas, opened up their brand new ballpark in El Paso on Monday night. It was a long-time coming for both San Diego and El Paso. The Padres’ Triple-A affiliate has bounced around of late (and spent the first 3+ weeks of 2014 on the road).

Padres’ Triple-A Affiliates

But now it will hopefully have a home for many years to come. There’s an excellent article on Grantland about the Chihuahuas. If you followed the transition of the Wizards to the TinCaps, then you’re sure to be nodding your head as you read about the city investing in a downtown ballpark in hopes of a revitalization. Can you believe El Paso literally demolished its city hall building in order to construct Southwest University Park. That and a lot more interesting insight in Robert Andrew Powell’s story.

Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirr

By the looks of El Paso’s opening night, Fort Wayne has some new competition for best ballpark in Minor League Baseball. Here’s more coverage of the Chihuahuas’ Opening Night.

TIMEOUT

From the You-Don’t-See-This-Everyday Department, during the middle of last night’s Yankees-Mariners game, MLB Network broadcaster (and Syracuse University alum) Bob Costas took off his headset and left the play-by-play job to his color commentator John Smoltz. The reason? Well, he had to go to the bathroom

MUSICAL GUEST

Today’s the 10th anniversary of the release of Mean Girls. I presume you already knew that and were already wearing pink, considering it’s Wednesday. But on that note, Missy Elliott, take it away…

Thanks for reading, and hope you can enjoy today’s game while you’re at work or in your leisure if you’re off!

Sun’s Out, BIG FUN’s Out

Sun’s out, BIG FUN’s out at Parkview Field today.

BIG-FUN

Design credit: Tony DesPlaines

It’s much appreciated after a chilly and dreary Monday night when the TinCaps lost to the Great Lakes Loons, 7-3. Fort Wayne scored the game’s first 3 runs, before the bats went silent. The TinCaps were held to 2 hits from the 3rd inning on. Meanwhile, after a solid debut by starting pitcher Bryan Verbitsky (5.0 IP,  5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K), the bullpen couldn’t hold on to the lead. Mike Couzens and I recap the loss in the video below:

IT’S CANO, DONT’CHA KNOW

The Tonight Show had a good baseball-related bit last night. Jimmy Fallon sent a correspondent out to the streets in New York City, where Robinson Cano will be playing tonight for the first time as a member of the Seattle Mariners since he left the Yankees. Men on the street were encouraged to boo a cardboard cutout of Cano. But wouldn’t ya know, Robbie was standing behind it, and emerged. The fans’ reactions were LOL-inducing.

We’ll save a conversation on booing in sports for another time, but for now, we’ll just laugh at this.

TV ANNOUNCERS RANKINGS

The website AwfulAnnouncing.com solicited feedback from fans on their local MLB TV broadcasters and came up with a not-entirely-scientific 1-30 ranking of each team’s broadcasters. The Padres’ team of Dick Enberg, Mike Pomeranz, Jesse Agler, Mark Grant, and Tony Gwynn ranked in the top half of the league at No. 12.

Analysis: Only Oakland and Seattle (who were part of the AL West crunch) had fewer A grades in the top 15 than the Padres. Our voters showed a lot of respect for the venerable Dick Enberg and the humor of Mark Grant, which we’ve seen on display before.

Reader Comments:

“Enberg deserves an A, but I really think Gwynn brings down the broadcasts when he acts as an analyst.” -DanielOrmsby

Mets broadcasters Gary Gohen, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, and Kevin Burkhardt came in 4th. I’m biased having grown up as a Mets fan, but I don’t think there’s anyone better. With that said, the top 3 is a formidable list. The Orioles (Gary Thorne, Jim Palmer, Jim Hunter, Mike Bordick) come in 3rd. The Dodgers (Vin Scully, Charley Steiner, Orel Hershiser) are 2nd, though in all due respect to the latter two names there, we can all agree they get that ranking because Mr. Skully is the greatest play-by-play broadcaster ever. The Giants (Duane Kuiper, Jon Miller, Dave Flemming, and Mike Krukow) were ranked No. 1.

Let us know who your favorite broadcasters are in the comments below or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan. And if you have any feedback on our XFINITY Channel 81 broadcasts, we’d love to hear that, too.

MUSICAL GUEST

Mentioned up top that last night’s TinCaps starting pitcher was Bryan Verbitsky. He’s from Levittown, New York. That’s on Long Island — less than an hour away from New York City. So Billy Joel, take it away…

Remember you can catch the TinCaps & Loons tonight on XFINITY Channel 81 or on The Fan 1380 and tincaps.com. Thanks for stopping by.

Back Home

After a 7-day road trip, the TinCaps are back in the warm and sunny Summit City. Tonight Fort Wayne kicks off a 7-game homestand, beginning with 4 games against the Great Lakes Loons (who else?) followed by 3 with the South Bend Silver Hawks.

The TinCaps and Loons have already played 8 times in the month of April, with Great Lakes holding a 6-2 advantage in the season series. They won’t see each other again until July 8 once this series is over. But keep in mind that at this point, just about a month into the campaign, Fort Wayne has yet to play 5 of its 7 divisional opponents.

The only other East Division squad the TinCaps have seen is West Michigan, where Fort Wayne was over the weekend. On a windy and cloudy 48-degree Sunday afternoon at Fifth Third Ballpark, the Whitecaps froze the TinCaps’ bats, 2-1, in the rubber game of the three-game series. Fort Wayne managed just 4 hits in the game and was being shutout until there were 2 outs in the 9th. 

The lack of offense spoiled a solid start for Adrian De Horta, who gave up only 2 runs in a career-high 5 innings. It also didn’t help that 1 of the 2 runs he yielded was unearned. The TinCaps committed 2 errors Sunday and now have 43 on the year to claim the dubious distinction of leading all of Minor League Baseball in errors.

Before yesterday’s loss, Mike Couzens caught up with manager Michael Collins to discuss Fort Wayne’s defensive struggles, and more, in their Sunday conversation.

TITLE TOWN

While the TinCaps dropped 2 out of 3 over the weekend, congrats to the Mad Ants on winning their 1st NBA D-League championship with a 2-game sweep of Santa Cruz.

Credit: The Journal Gazette

And the Mad Ants aren’t the only team that calls Allen County War Memorial Coliseum home to pick up a big victory this weekend. They’ve still got a few more rounds to go before they earn hardware, but kudos to the Komets for knocking off the ECHL’s top-seeded Readington, which won the Kelly Cup last year.

If you’re a TinCaps supporter, hopefully this is a good omen for a postseason run at Parkview Field in September.

MUSICAL GUEST

In the exciting life of a minor league broadcaster in Comstock Park, Michigan, on Saturday night, I finally watched Frozen. Yes, I know I’m way late to the party. In fact, the party may be over. But now when I hear “Let It Go,” I’m glad to know what it’s actually about. So Demi Lovato on the remix, take it away…

Thanks for stopping by. Mike is on TV tonight with former Fort Wayne Wizard Javi De Jesus, while you can hear me on The Fan 1380 with ex-Phillie, and New Haven native, Dave Doster, plus Mike Maahs.

Sunday Getaway

There’s a little bit of rain falling right now at Fifth Third Ballpark, where the TinCaps will look to make it two out of three against the West Michigan Whitecaps this afternoon at 1:00. A win today would give the TinCaps their first series victory on the road this season.

Yesterday, a 5-4 setback for the Fort Wayne nine, as three errors gave way to a pair of unearned runs for the Whitecaps.

Also yesterday–John and I played mini golf at AJ’s Family Fun Center next to Fifth Third Ballpark. With a one-stroke lead heading into the 17th hole, I choked the lead away, hitting the ball into the water trap on three straight tries, and John came away the winner. Congrats, John.

How do they get the water that shade of blue?

How do they get the water that shade of blue?

Today, a 1:00 first pitch. Our pregame coverage gets underway at 12:45 as we chat with manager Michael Collins on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Prior to yesterday’s game, John chatted with TinCaps starter Coby Cowgill (pronounce CO-gill):

ANALYSIS FROM PEOPLE FAR SMARTER THAN ME

I know, I know…you’ve read the headline and are thinking, “Well, sure, that could be anyone!”, but I assure you. these folks are likely smarter, at least with numbers, than most people you know. Over at FiveThirtyEight.com, the site started by numbers genius Nate Silver, there are a few posts that I enjoyed, albeit didn’t totally understand, about predicting wins in baseball. In the article written by Neil Paine entitled, “How to Predict MLB Records From Early Results“, he writes:

“We often hear announcers and commentators say a baseball team is “on pace” to win and lose a certain number of games, by simply applying a team’s current winning percentage over 162 games. Those statements may technically be true, but in a randomness-filled reality, they’re meaningless.

Sabermetrics constantly struggles with randomness, an unavoidable fact of sporting life and the reason there’s almost always a difference between a team’s observed performance and its actual talent level. Moreover, the smaller the sample of games, the less confident we can be that what we’re seeing is skill and not luck. We’re fewer than 10 games into Major League Baseball’s season.

This is why it’s necessary to regress observed statistics to the mean. Things — including baseball stats — tend to average out. But how much do we need to regress? And which mean should we regress to?”

Regression to the mean, according to my brief internet research, simply means that in small sample sizes, an extreme measurement of any kind (1-0 record does not extrapolate to 162-0) will likely be closer to the average a second time.  This article, linked above, provides an interesting formula to try and predict MLB win/loss totals. I think it would have to be changed for MiLB, though, since the Midwest League season is only 140 games.

Another article worth taking a look at is called “What Arizona’s Rough Start Says About MLB (and the NFL and NBA” and compares winning totals in the three leagues.

MUSICAL GUEST

Sleeper Agent…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

TinCaps Win, Former TinCaps Play, Test Your Grammar

Good morning from Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan. Today’s game is a 1:00 first pitch between the TinCaps and Whitecaps, as Fort Wayne looks for its third straight road win, which would be a first for the TinCaps this season.

The view from the visiting radio booth at West Michigan.

The view from the visiting radio booth at West Michigan.

Walker Weickel takes the mound in search of his second win of the season. The second-year pitcher has received a decision in each of his first four starts (1-3), but has no commanded his fastball the way he’d like to so far. After his Monday start on this roadtrip, he told me that he’s shot himself in the foot with walks, and also pointed out that in his last two starts, four out of the five earned runs he’s surrendered have been because of walks. So we’ll be keeping an eye on that today. First pitch is at 1:00 with pre-game coverage on The Fan 1380 at 12:45. John Nolan will talk to yesterday’s winning pitcher, Coby Cowgill, on the Hupe Insurance Services Pregame show.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Prior to Friday’s game I talked with the fifth-year play-by-play voice of the Whitecaps, Ben Chiswick. We discussed the rebuilding of Fifth Third Ballpark, the lack of late-game success for West Michigan and their new manager, Andrew Graham:

YEAH, THE PADRES LOST, BUT…

So, Stephen Strasburg did Stephen Strasburg things last night and struck out 11 in seven innings against San Diego last night. He can strike out 11 against any lineup..no big deal. However, two former TinCaps got into the game last night: Jace Peterson at third base and Kevin Quackenbush out of the bullpen. Peterson got a hit in his first at-bat and went 1-for-2. For a guy who’s only going to be there for a few weeks (at least this time) that’s a great start for Peterson. Quackenbush, who’s there to relieve a tired bullpen, gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings after starter Robbie Erlin got shelled for eight earned in 5 1/3 frames.

TEST YOUR GRAMMAR

If you’re up for such a task on a Saturday morning, I invite you to try this fun grammar test based around song lyrics. For example, is this correct?

Somewhere in middle America...

Somewhere in middle America…

Although I didn’t think it was possible, this does take grammar and combines it with pop culture. Way to go, BuzzFeed.

Here’s the link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/nathanwpyle/grammar-quiz-with-beyonce-and-friends

MUSICAL GUEST

Cage The Elephant…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

 

Rebuilding a Ballpark, More TinCaps to the Bigs, Table for One

On back-to-back night the TinCaps didn’t have much to show offensively at Great Lakes, but fortunately they were able to pick up a 2-1 victory in the series finale Thursday night. Facing the possibility of a four-game sweep, Fort Wayne scored once in the first and once in the 11th to slide out of Midland, Michigan, with the win. Josh VanMeter scored the eventual game-winning run on a passed ball in the 11th, making the TinCaps 3-2 in extras this season. That”s five extra-innings games in 19 contests. That puts the TinCaps on pace to play 36 extra-inning games this year. I’m not good at math, but something tells me that won’t hold true.

The TinCaps oday make their first 2014 visit to Fifth Third Ballpark, which was decimated by a fire in early January. I remember watching the news unfold from a hotel room in Wheeling, W.V., and wondering if they would be able to host baseball this year. Just a few years ago, the Yankees Triple-A team in Scranton, PA, played an entire season on the road due to stadium re-construction, and I thought the same might happen this year for West Michigan.

However, the leadership of West Michigan was steadfast in saying that there would be baseball on Opening Day at Fifth Third Ballpark, and that the All-Star Game, the 50th for the Midwest League, would still be held there in June. So far, things are going as planned. We’ll learn more in the coming days as we visit the park, but it appears to be such a resilient and tireless effort from the full-time staff, which is working in temporary offices this season, and the construction crew to tear down and rebuild during a freezing winter. Here’s a video put together by the team to tell the story of the fire and the rebuild:

You can expect to find pictures here in the coming days of the park and the ongoing construction. I know I’m not alone in saying that I look forward to the ballpark being back to 100 percent.

Tonight’s game is a 6:35 ET first pitch at Fifth Third Ballpark. I invite you to join me and John Nolan for the call on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Prior to yesterday’s game, I chatted with TinCaps outfielder Ronnie Richardson about what the team needed to to get a win, the use of pine tar in baseball, and more:

THE CAROUSEL OF FACES

Fort Wayne will have two new players in the clubhouse later today when it arrives at West Michigan’s Fifth Third Ballpark. The Padres announced yesterday that starter Yimmi Brasoban has been sent to extended spring training and is being replaced with 2013 third-round pick Bryan Verbitsky. The righty Verbitsky is a 21-year-old who was selected by the Padres out of Hofstra University in New York. He was the first pitcher taken by the Padres in last year’s draft.

Brasoban is only 19, and still has plenty of potential and plenty of room to grow, but didn’t get the job done for the TinCaps while he was here. He went 0-2 with a 14.29 ERA in four games and allowed 18 earned runs with 11 walks in 11 1/3 innings. The Padres are likely hoping that Verbitsky, a former college pitcher, will bring more measured aggression to the mound.

Additionally, the Padres are sending first baseman Luis Tejada up to Double-A San Antonio in the wake of the news that Travis Jankowski is injured. Tejada, who is hitting just .189 in 14 games is having his roster spot filled by 2013 draft selection Jake Bauers, a first baseman from California. The Padres took Bauers in the seventh round out of Marina High School in Huntington Beach, CA. Last year with the AZL Padres he hit .282 with one home run and 25 RBI.

ROBERTSON, PETERSON, QUACKENBUSH

After Daniel Robertson was called up–by the Rangers, not the Padres–becoming the 123rd former Fort Wayne player to reach the majors, it looks like there are two more right behind him: Jace Peterson (2012) and Kevin Quackenbush (2011).

Peterson gets the call from Double-A San Antonio, following the news that Padres 3B Chase Headley is headed for the disabled list after straining his calf in last night’s game against the Nationals in Washington, D.C. From gaslampball.com:

“Peterson is familiar with his new teammates, as he was a non-roster invitee this spring and saw time at third base when, this might sound familiar, Headley was injured. A first round pick out of McNeese State University by the Padres in 2011, the 23-year-old Peterson had moved up a single rung of the minor league ladder each year until this jump. Primarily a shortstop, he has appeared in one professional game at second and third bases, both coming this season.

In 18 games with San Antonio this year, Peterson hit .311/ .386/ .392 with three doubles, a homer, and four steals in 83 plate appearances. Speed is a big part of young Jace’s game; in his three full seasons he stole 39, 51, and 42 bases, in that order. His 13 triples with high-A Lake Elsinore last year were good for third in the California League.”

Peterson was a tremendous asset for the TinCaps at shortstop, and also a great teammate and person to be around. Nothing but the best for Jace on a huge day in his life.

Quackenbush, once the TinCaps closer in 2011, also appears to be on his way to the majors, although it’s not yet clear whose spot he’ll be taking on the roster.

With Robertson’s arrival to MLB, here’s the full list of 2009 TinCaps who have made it:

2009 TinCaps Who Have Reached the Majors (MLB Debut / Current Team)

  1. RHP Mat Latos (July 19, 2009 – Padres / Cincinnati Reds)
  2. OF Blake Tekotte (May 5, 2011 – Padres / Triple-A Charlotte)
  3. RHP Anthony Bass (June 13, 2011 – Padres / Houston Astros)
  4. INF James Darnell (August 9, 2011 – Padres / Triple-A Durham)
  5. INF Andy Parrino (August 26, 2011 – Padres / Triple-A Round Rock)
  6. RHP Brad Brach (August 31, 2011 – Padres / Triple-A Charlotte)
  7. C Ali Solis (September 26, 2012 – Padres / Triple-A Durham)
  8. RHP Erik Davis (June 2, 2013 – Washington Nationals / Nationals)
  9. OF Jaff Decker (June 20, 2013 – Padres / Triple-A Indianapolis)
  10. RHP Simon Castro (July 5, 2013 – Chicago White Sox / Free Agent)
  11. LHP Colt Hynes (July 14, 2013 – Padres / Triple-A Albuquerque)
  12. INF Dean Anna (April 4, 2014 – New York Yankees / Yankees)
  13. INF Vince Belnome (2014 – Tampa Bay Rays* / Triple-A Durham)
  14. OF Daniel Robertson (2014 – Texas Rangers* / Rangers)

* Yet to have an official appearance

TABLE FOR ONE

Here’s something I mentioned on last night’s broadcast, but assuming you weren’t listening to the entire broadcast (unless you’re my mother), you might have missed it. Being a Minor League Baseball broadcaster comes with a lot of fun perks, namely calling baseball games for a living. One thing that comes along with the profession is a lot of alone time, which given your level of misanthropy, might be a great thing. So, when it comes time to eat breakfast or lunch (since dinner’s usually at the park), you’re often flying solo. The common response from a host or hostess at a restaurant when you ask for a table for one is a mix of bewilderment and surprise, or the old “How would you like to sit at the bar?” if, indeed, this fine Midwest League establishment does have a bar.

I take a whit of offense when getting a strange look for asking to be seated alone, although I do see where the reaction comes from. After all, the meal, as an event, has historically been something shared by many, whether family, friends, or colleagues. It’s  time to relax, share, and learn about one another. So, when done alone, it may “defeat the purpose” of having a “meal”, however don’t forget that one of the other main reasons we continually sit down at a table (or in 2014 scarf down egg sandwiches in our car on the way to work) is because our bodies need continued nourishment. That’s an aspect that’s hard to overlook. I still need to eat, people!

Forgive my soliloquy, but the reason I wrote all that was because of an article I came across yesterday entitled, “Eating Alone by Design: An Entire Restaurant with Tables for One“.

From Business Week:

‘“The taste of persons eating alone seems different, and even more intense, according to our guests,” says Marina van Goor, owner of the temporary eatery, which is called Eenmaal. As such, the chef takes care to serve four-course meals (at a moderate €35, or roughly $48, including drink) prepared from quality local and organic ingredients. Even the interior is left intentionally raw and no-frills, to emphasize the simple pleasure of unapologetically eating alone.

Don’t expect to fill the void with social media—Eenmaal doesn’t offer Wi-Fi. “I wanted to show that a moment of disconnection, by eating out alone, sitting alone, can be attractive, especially in our hyperconnected society,” van Goor says. Instead, diners are encouraged to read physical magazines and books.”

And Steve Martin couldn’t be happier:

MUSICAL GUEST

Mike Mains…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

Robertson Makes It 14

On our last day in Midland, which is always a sad day, given the great hospitality of the folks at Dow Diamond, the TinCaps will aim to avoid a four-game series sweep. The last time Fort Wayne was swept in a four-game set away from Parkview Field, it was at this very park in 2009. Since yesterday’s game, a 9-2 loss in which the TinCaps had four hits, wasn’t one to write home about, I will recap it with a baseball haiku:

Ball one, not your friend

Neither is batting around

Avoid the sweep, men

In other news, a former TinCap made it to the show last night…

ROBERTSON TO THE RANGERS

Daniel Robertson, a member of the championship-winning 2009 TinCaps squad, was hanging out in his hotel room as a member of the El Paso Chihuahuas when he got a text message from Padres farm director Randy Smith asking to talk. The talk involved two things:

-Pack your bags

-You’ve been traded

And the best news of all, was that Robertson was immediately placed on the 40-man roster for the Rangers.

“Their injury epidemic so significant that they have no more position players on the 40-man roster, the Texas Rangers sent cash to San Diego late Tuesday for minor league outfielder Daniel Robertson, who was then immediately promoted to the major leagues to replace injured reliever Pedro Figueroa.

Figueroa threw one pitch Tuesday, hit Josh Reddick and then grabbed his arm. Initially diagnosed with inflammation in his elbow, he returned to Dallas to be examined by team physician Dr. Keith Meister to check on the possibility of a ligament tear in his elbow.

Robertson, 28, is a small, speedy right-handed hitter who will fill the role of pinch runner/late-inning defensive specialist that Jim Adduci had for the club before he went to the DL with a fractured finger.

Robertson was a 33rd-round draft choice of the Padres in 2008 and moved to Triple-A in 2011. He has a .295 batting average at Triple-A with a .371 OBP in 1,141 at-bats at that level.”

Robertson now becomes the 14th player–the 14th one!!!–from the 2009 TinCaps to reach the major leagues. Incredible.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

In today’s edition of our audio get-together with someone around the game, I chat with the voice of the Loons, the esteemed Brad Golder to talk all things Great Lakes. We discuss the team’s proclivity for stealing bases, the second Midwest League stint for the son of former TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin, Jesse, and more. Have a listen:

DUELING COMMERCIALS

Ah, corporate America. So, Cadillac puts out a commercial that features a hard-working guy walking around his big house with a pool and talking about how America’s tireless work ethic led to many great things…and then, surprise!, he walks outside to reveal he drives a Cadillac. Take what you will from that, but Ford put out a parody of the ad that’s pretty clever:

Here’s the original Cadillac spot:

MUSICAL GUEST

Foster The People…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

Anthropomorphic Adventures

A quick recap of last night’s game:

-The TinCaps led, 8-3, going into the bottom of the seventh inning

-Fort Wayne’s bullpen surrendered seven runs in the bottom of the seventh

-The final score: Loons 11, TinCaps 8

Not a banner night for the bullpen, but hopefully the ‘pen won’t be too taxed tonight with Yimmi Brasoban scheduled to start and Payton Baskette set to piggyback his outing. First pitch is at 6:05, and I’ll have radio coverage starting at 5:45 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Yesterday I talked with TinCaps starting pitcher Walker Weickel about his Monday outing, working against the league’s top stolen-base team, and what advice he’d give to himself from a year ago:

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD

Somewhere around the second or third inning of yesterday’s TinCaps-Loons game, I was greeted by an anthropomorphic visitor in the radio booth at Dow Diamond. That visitor was Lou E. Loon, one of the two Great Lakes mascots:

Loon

 

Apparently he hadn’t been fed that day, because he tried to eat me while I was on the air. I’m not sure what Loons eat, but he wouldn’t have found much if he’d cracked my skull open…

A ONE-FINGER SALUTE ON TWITTER

Big news around the world of Twitter and the New York Mets lately has been that pitcher Matt Harvey, who is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, posted a picture of himself in his hospital bed prior to surgery flashing the middle finger, and then after being asked by the Mets to remove the picture, deleted his entire Twitter account. If you want to see the picture, you can click here.

Here’s an account of the tweet from the New York Daily News:

“I’m not going to apologize for being myself and having a good laugh (in) a funny little picture,” Harvey said. “When you can’t really have fun anymore on a social media account, I think it comes time to get rid of it. I’ll have my fun with my friends and teammates, who do know me for who I am.”

He then made another sharp point: “I honestly didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. You listen to the radio and you hear a lot of rap music and things that are a lot worse than what I was showing — genuine excitement and a little bit of laughter toward a picture.”

The only semi-rational argument against Harvey’s tweet had something to do with kids following his account. But when you think about it for another moment, you realize that “somebody, please think of the children” does not work here. If you are a parent, and your kid saw the tweet — please, get your kid the hell off Twitter. Don’t you want his/her brain to develop properly?’

Well, I definitely laughed at the third paragraph. Twitter is no place for kids–or keeping your sanity. It’s a lot of mindless drivel.

As for whether Harvey should have sent out the Tweet…probably not. Does he have the freedom to do that? Sure. However, there’s a certain responsibility that comes along with being a public figure, and even then there are different rules for different public figures. There are different rules if you’re Lady Gaga, if you’re a politician, and if you’re Matt Harvey. Should we be offended by Harvey? No, there are much worse things to waste our time on being angry on. Should he have tweeted it? Again, probably not.

A YOUTUBE ANNIVERSARY

Here’s one just for fun….nine years ago today the first video was uploaded to YouTube.

http://time.com/72892/the-first-youtube-video-was-uploaded-9-years-ago-today/

MUSICAL GUEST

Coldplay…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

A Week in Michigan

Greetings and salutation from the Wolverine State–Midland to be exact, where the TinCaps are in the midst of a four-game series with the Great Lakes Loons, the Midwest League’s Dodgers outfit. Game one didn’t go so hot, as the TinCaps dropped the opener, 6-4. It was a close ballgame throughout, but with the help of the TinCaps defense, the Loons added a few runs on this play in the bottom of the eighth inning:

The TinCaps entered the ninth down, 6-1, but Jose Carlos Urena helped carve into the deficit:

Strangely enough, and by a massive stroke of luck, I happened to be talking about Urena’s batting practice power earlier that day. For those who believe in the broadcaster jinx–when we say something hasn’t happened (a no-hitter) and then the opporiste happens, usually in a bad way, do you believe int he broadcaster un-ijix? (For the record, I don’t believe it that at all. If there’s a no-hitter happening, it’s my job to document the game and talk about it, so that’s what I’m going to do.) From now on when the TinCaps have the bases loaded, I’ll mention how they haven’t hit a grand slam yet this year, and will be happy to accept your praises for my un-jinx when it happens.

Onto more serious matters…

Yesterday before the game I chatted with TinCaps Manager Michael Collins (in lieu of our usual Sunday chat, since it was a day off) and we talked about the team’s then-three-game winning streak, Walker Weickel, and how his batting order works with Ronnie Richardson and Mallex Smith’s great speed…

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

#SOCIALMEDIAMONDAY

Yesterday was Social Media Monday at Dow Diamond, and with the help of Loons broadcaster Brad Golder, Jared Sandler, also a loons play-by-play man, and I showed the score at the seventh-inning stretch. Please note my dismay, as I’m holding the TinCaps’ run total:

Believe it or not, Jared is taller than that.

Believe it or not, Jared is taller than that.

WORKPLACE SERENITY BY THE HOUR

As a frequent traveler for work, whether with the TinCaps or otherwise, I often find myself searching for a strong WiFi signal, and a comfortable, quiet place to work. Rarely does that come in the form of a Minor League bus trip, as movies might be blaring, although I must say this year has been enjoyable so far, as the two bus rides I’ve been on with the team have featured nary a motion picture. SERENITY NOW! Makes it a lot easier to read for pleasure–it’s the small things, folks.

I found common ground on the easy-to-use workspace with Julien Smith, a 34-year-old who, as The Atlantic tells us, has created “Breather” which is a company that rents out small spaces in chunks of time for the traveling businessperson:

“Everyone has been here. “You’re sitting in an alleyway, next to a dumpster, trying to make a phone call, and a garbage truck rumbles by,” Smith told me, laughing. We met recently in New York, the epicenter of such unpleasant urban experiences, and where Smith has just launched the latest round of Breathers. At 34, he is trim and boyish, with tattoos up his arms and large circular ear piercings, and he greeted me with an easy familiarity (“Hey, man” is a frequently used phrase).

The concept of Breather, he explains, is at once simple and revolutionary. “If you’re walking around, and you need a break, you reserve and go,” he says. “Or you have to make a phone call — you literally press three buttons. It costs a reasonable sum of money, you arrive at the door, you enter a code. It’s so basic to talk about, but you close the door, and it’s your space. It’s such a paradigm shift. The whole experience of how you go about your day is changed.”

Breathers vary by size, but the amenities are pretty consistent: a great window, strong Wi-Fi, a couch, a table and chairs, an accessible bathroom. The aesthetic is simple and utilitarian: white walls, good lighting, wood floors, a muted color palette. There are stylish touches, too, like a wooden park bench, old-fashioned coat hooks, and carefully curated books.” 

A Breather in Montreal, located near McGill University.

A Breather in Montreal, located near McGill University.

While I don’t see these popping up in a Midwest League city near me any time soon, I do appreciate the concept. For now, when hotel WiFi isn’t working well–ah, the plight of the Minor League Baseball broadcaster–I will continue to make Panera and Starbucks my ‘breathers’. I’ll drink as much coffee as I need to not be labeled a loiterer. Hazenlut, please!

EARLY MORNING HONORS

Jared Sandler, he of the photo above, is a good friend of mine, and quite a workaholic. He’s extended the invitation to many a Midwest League broadcaster to join him for a 6:15 a.m. game of pickup basketball at the Midland Community Center (the official gym of the Great Lakes Loons!) and I know that in the last two years at least myself, John Nolan, and West Michigan’s Ben Chiswick have taken him up on the offer. (For those of you eagerly wondering, I am 6’4″, but play like Dirk Nowitzki–lots of fadeaway shots, not a lot of under-the-rim action…except most of my shots don’t go in.)

Today a new competitor entered the fold, as TinCaps athletic trainer Ricky Huerta joined the group for the first time. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Ricky’s caffeine intake as our 6:05 p.m. first pitch approaches.

/yawns

If you’re around tonight, hope you can listen on The Fan 1380 or TheFanFortWayne.com. I’ll talk to you on the radio.

MUSICAL GUEST

Katy Perry…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

 

Extra Innings? Not This Time. Not Thursday Night.

One night after playing the longest game in franchise history, the TinCaps were on the verge of a second straight extra-inning affair. But on a clear, 65-degree Thursday night at Parkview Field, nine innings ended up being just enough. Dustin Peterson plated Ronnie Richardson on a base-hit to left field in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead Fort Wayne to a walk-off, 6-5, victory over the Peoria Chiefs.

The TinCaps, who lost a 5 hour, 45-minute game to the Burlington Bees the day prior, entered Thursday’s ninth inning tied, 5-5. Richardson, who set the University of Central Florida’s hit-by-pitch record (65), led off and was promptly plunked by the first pitch thrown by reliever Joe Scanio (0-1). With Richardson at first base, the next batter, Mallex Smith, dropped a bunt down the first-base line that he beat out for a hit, while also advancing Richardson to second. Josh VanMeter then laid down a sacrifice bunt to put both in scoring position. Peoria (8-5) turned to right-handed reliever Zach Loraine to face Peterson.

Peterson swung at the first offering from Loraine and lined it to left field, allowing Richardson to score easily. The TinCaps had their first walk-off win of 2014 and Fort Wayne’s dugout raced out onto the field in jubilation. The smiling face of victory, Peterson — selected by the Padres in the 2nd round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft — received a shaving cream pie-to-the-face as a reward.

Click here to read more or watch our XFINITY recap below.

This is what the face of victory (Petey) looked like:

For a team that struggled out of the gates, it was the first moment of true euphoria at Parkview Field this season. (Not to mention, the first night that felt like it was worth a celebration weather-wise, too.) In 2013, the TinCaps had a remarkable 10 walk-off wins. Last night was reminiscent of that fun. Manager Michael “Tubby” Collins put it well afterward.

“That’s the first time guys have been that loud and excited after a game. That’s a big step in the right direction.”

Ronnie Richardson came off the field saying that this was going to be a turning point in the season. Let’s find out.

NEWS & NOTES

Don't let the scarf from Monday's game in winter conditions fool you, Ronnie usually plays with a smile. (Credit: Jeff Nycz)

Don’t let the scarf from Monday’s game in winter conditions fool you, Ronnie usually plays with a smile. (Credit: Jeff Nycz)

When the TinCaps opened the season, outfielder Ronnie Richardson was left behind in Peoria, Arizona, in Extended Spring Training. Only when Rey Bruguera was transferred up to Advanced-A Lake Elsinore was Richardson added to Fort Wayne’s roster. Well since he arrived on April 8, all he’s done is get on base. In 5 games (4 starts), Richardson has an absurd on-base percentage of .682. He’s walked in 10 of his 22 plate appearances, while also producing 4 hits and being hit by a pitch. When on base, Richardson has scored 6 runs and stolen 3 bases. And don’t forget he even pitched in Thursday’s 18-inning game. The Central Florida alum doesn’t have enough bats yet to qualify for the Midwest League’s official stats (blame all the walks!), but if he did, he’d have the best OBP and would be tied for 4th in walks.

Fernando Perez is also the only TinCap this season to play 3 different positions defensively -- first, second, and third. (Credit: Jeff Nycz)

Fernando Perez is also the only TinCap this season to play 3 different positions defensively — first, second, and third. (Credit: Jeff Nycz)

With 2 hits Thursday, Fernando Perez extended his hitting streak to 8 games. That’s the longest streak for any TinCap this season. The infielder started 2-for-16 at the plate (.125). But since, Perez is 13-for-39 (.419) with 4 doubles and a home run. The 20-year-old is Fort Wayne’s RBI leader so far with 11. No one else has more than 8.

Josh VanMeter has brought his hard-nosed style of play from Norwell High School to Parkview Field. (Credit: Jeff Nycz)

Josh VanMeter has brought his hard-nosed style of play from Norwell High School to Parkview Field. (Credit: Jeff Nycz)

Josh VanMeter has 10 hits this season. Remarkably, 5 of them are doubles. That’s tied with Fernando Perez for the team lead in two-baggers. VanMeter collected 2 of those doubles Thursday night in his first 2 at-bats of the game, as he drove in a pair and scored a run.

At 18, Franmil Reyes is the youngest player in the Midwest League and 8th youngest in all of Minor League Baseball. (Credit: Jeff Nycz)

At 18, Fort Wayne’s cleanup batter Franmil Reyes is the youngest player in the Midwest League and 8th youngest in all of Minor League Baseball. (Credit: Jeff Nycz)

Fort Wayne had 10 hits Thursday with 9 of them coming from batters 1 through 5 in the order. Mallex Smith, Josh VanMeter, Franmil Reyes, and Fernando Perez each had 2 base-hits, while Dustin Peterson only had 1 — the most critical of them all — a walk-off single in the 9th.

MUSICAL GUEST

Naval Academy baseball players Brad Borosak and Matt Kilby lip-synching Frozen, take it away…

I’m back on the radio side tonight on The Fan 1380 and will be joined by former Philadelphia Phillies infielder Dave Doster. Hope you can tune in for what’s sure to be better insights than we typically provide… Thanks for reading. Feel free to be in touch on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

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