So I’ll get the bad news out of the way first… Remember when we thought Everett Williams and Donavan Tate had no major structural damage to their knees after their collision? Well, maybe not. According to the Union-Tribune, Williams tore his ACL and is done for the year, Tate has a deep knee bruise and they’re hoping for a June 1 return. And former TinCaps SS Drew Cumberland has been diagnosed with vertigo, which is pretty serious.
But step down from the ledge long enough to read this… Former TinCaps OF Daniel Robertson hit for the cycle. The day before, he’d been ejected for arguing with an umpire. The day of the cycle, he was a late addition to the lineup. Crazy game. And another tale from the 2009 TinCaps No-Mercy Reunion Tour 2011.
- Also in San Antonio, James Darnell is killing it. The Padres have a lot of good third basemen in their system. And Blake Tekotte had a single off Rangers RHP Neftali Feliz, who was rehabbing with Frisco.
- Also in the “good news” category, hey… we got bin Laden, right? And millions of Hulkamaniacs around the world celebrated.
- Former Braves LHP John Rocker is going to write a book? And check out the picture in that article… is that not the scene from “Eastbound and Down” where Kenny Powers has his showdown with Daryl from “The Office” at Ashley Shaffer BMW?
- “Succeeding is tough.” – Matt Stairs, Washington Nationals pinch hitter/philosopher.
- “Power hitters are born.” – Mark McGwire. Ironic, eh?
- A’s OF Josh Willingham is doing a good thing for the Southeast.
- I mentioned a couple of weeks back that “Limitless” was a pretty good movie. Well, “The Lincoln Lawyer” was EXCELLENT. Good story, good acting. And country music star Trace Adkins plays the leader of a motorcycle gang, so bonus points for that. Not that I’ve seen a lot of movies this year, but Lincoln Lawyer is the best I’ve seen.
Musical guest… Jack Johnson!
The TinCaps aren’t hitting right now. RHP Adys Portillo was touching 95 mph in the first inning on Dayton’s stadium radar gun (which is usually pretty reliable) last night, finished the night closer to 91-93 with the off-speed stuff in the high 70s, low 80s. And that, as Forrest Gump once said, is all I have to say about that.
I’ve been seeing a lot of good stuff on the internets, though, so here it is…
- Some of the TinCaps are having to hear the tornado-related news from back at home via phone and radio. Phillies RHP Roy Oswalt went home to check on everything personally. Doug Glanville wrote a SPECTACULAR piece about it. Main points: Glanville’s favorite band is Hall and Oates, plus a life in baseball is oftentimes brutal for a person’s personal life. If you read nothing else from this post, read Glanville.
- Mariners RHP Michael Pineda: He’s good.
- MLB attendance is down, but baseball (still) isn’t dying.
- Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez wouldn’t sign a teammate’s cast which was sold for charity.
- Peter Gammons says trading draft picks would make the MLB Draft that much more interesting.
- We’re in Dayton right now, where later this season they’ll have the Purina Incredible Dog Team. I’m already thinking of excuses to get out of the TinCaps’ game to be there to see it.
Musical guest… the only British royalty I care to hear about this weekend, Sir Elton John!
Call me a jerk, but once the season gets going, I tend to get into a baseball cocoon and not really notice what’s really going on in the world. You know, other than the earth-shattering story of figurehead monarchs getting married in a country we rebelled against specifically to get AWAY from said monarchy (the only acceptable discussion of that wedding is going in-depth on schemes to crash the reception. That’s it.).
Anyway, yesterday a reporter called and wanted to talk to some of our players (Chris Franklin, Chase Marona, Zach Cates) about the storms down south. I didn’t really know what he was talking about, so I turned to the internets for help, and holy cow. Monster tornadoes, towns leveled, people killed… Terrible stuff. Turns out the players’ families are OK despite some damage to their houses, but you can imagine it would be tough to focus on a dumb game when things are devastated back home.
- This year’s San Antonio Missions, also known as the 2009 TinCaps No-Mercy Reunion Tour, have already had quite the season. They’ve scored 20+ runs in a game twice, and now their home ballpark was the scene of an ugly exchange between fans and the Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A Rangers). As Baseball America points out, Rangers prospect Engel Beltre was in the middle of it and was suspended 15 games, and he’s no stranger to stirring up trouble. The Missions really weren’t involved, but it’s ugly anyhow.
- Our old homeboy RHP Erik Davis is (still) getting it done in the Nationals’ organization. He was traded this spring for INF Alberto Gonzalez and is now at Double-A Harrisburg with another old homeboy, former Wizards radio guy (and my former boss in Harrisburg) Terry Byrom.
- In other Harrisburg/baseball news, there’s bad umpiring at every level of this game. I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about a handful of bad umps in the big leagues, especially because MLB umps have a Supreme Court Justice-esque ability to keep their jobs despite their job performance. Get used to it.
- Fact: The Padres are bad offensively right now. A .289 team OBP is horrendous.
- Fact: If you think Jed Hoyer’s job should be in jeopardy, you’re nuts. Everything he touched turned to gold last year, the big-league team played over its head, and now they’re coming back to earth. But in the high minors there’s a crop of hitters (led by Anthony Rizzo, who came back in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, and former TinCaps Jaff Decker and James Darnell) who are getting closer to MLB-ready. Plus they have six picks in the first two rounds of the draft this June. Give it time.
- The FIRST-PLACE(!) Indians are calling up their first-round pick from 2009 for a spot start. Prediction: They won’t end this season as the first-place Indians.
- How do we bring sabermetric stats to the masses? By focusing on what the stats MEAN, not how they’re calculated. In an age where we can get the internet on our phones, if people want to know, they’ll find out.
- Browns GM Tom Heckert proved last night he’s a stylin’ and profilin’, jet-flyin’, limosine-ridin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’-and-dealin’ son of a gun. Whoo!
- Good story about the Lynchburg Hillcats’ manager. He’s the guy who got hit in the face by a foul ball at Braves spring training and lost his eye. He never lost his optimism, though.
- You may remember our discussion of a phenomenon known as The Wertheimer Effect, named for former TinCaps video guy Allan Wertheimer. In the first month he worked for the Minnesota Vikings, Brett Favre’s consecutive starts streak ended, the head coach got canned and the Metrodome roof caved in. Well, it’s rearing its ugly head again… The Vikings took Christian Ponder in the first round of the draft last night. The one and only explanation for such a mistake is The Wertheimer Effect.
- Between a Skyline Chili location within walking distance of the hotel, Montgomery Inn BBQ pork sandwiches at the ballpark and LaRosa’s/Donato’s Pizza being available in Dayton, I may not fit on the bus to come back to Fort Wayne at the end of this trip.
Musical guest… The Strokes!
Apparently there’s no humanly way to display this link on the TinCaps.com mobile site (which is kind of important if you’re trying to listen on a mobile device)… Anyway, you can now listen to the TinCaps on your iPhone/iPad. And the link is here. Hopefully you rabid fans end up finding the link.
The stream will only be available during games. Enjoy!
Last night was the first time since Parkview Field opened (April 2009) that a TinCaps game was postponed without a pitch being thrown. The silver lining to that is that I got to catch up on sleep, which was nice. Another good thing is that I assume it’ll push all the starting pitchers back a day and get LHP Mark Hardy another start. Any opportunity to lighten the innings load on the starting rotation is a good thing, because when it’s July and August and the starters are limited to 3-4 innings per start because of their season innings cap, it affects some guys mentally. So rainouts at home are bad from a business perspective, but from a baseball standpoint maybe it’s not the end of the world.
- TinCaps RHP Keyvius Sampson and former TinCaps OF Jaff Decker made the first Prospect Hot Sheet of the year.
- There’s a 2009 Fort Wayne TinCaps No-Mercy Reunion Tour going on right now at Double-A San Antonio. The Missions have now piled up 23 and 26 runs in single games this year, are batting .366 AS A TEAM (!) and have conked 20 homers in eight games. And they don’t even have SS Drew Cumberland yet – he’s on the DL. And they scored the 26 runs at home last night – I thought the wind always blew in at San Antonio’s ballpark.
- Padres RHP Dustin Moseley has made three starts and received exactly ZERO runs in support.
- Aaron Harang, on the other hand, has been more celebrated because he’s pitching well AND getting runs behind him.
- A former Midwest Leaguer has gone from prospect to bartending to major leaguer.
- A current South Bend Silver Hawk is repeating the league, but the Diamondbacks still believe in him.
- Nationals prodigy Bryce Harper is looking slightly un-prodigylike in his first week in the minors. Total bust, right?
- Asdrubal Cabrera is leading the American League in RBIs, my Indians are playing well and 3B prospect Lonnie Chisenhall is on his way. Oh baby.
- Oakland OF Covelli Crisp has some crazy hair going. Crazy awesome, that is.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman sort of threw Joe Torre under the bus.
- On the TinCaps’ bus the other day in Bowling Green, clubhouse manager A.J. Bridges was blamed for a miscue but tried throwing the bus driver under the proverbial bus, as ironic as that would be. Which led to longform quoting from this “Seinfeld” scene. Most of the staff laughed at the reference (maybe out of courtesy, but I’ll take laughs however I can get them), which means it’s going to be a fun year.
Musical guest… Jack Johnson!
So Tuesday during the doubleheader against Bowling Green, we had the train wreck of the millennium (six games into the season, no less) when the following occurred (or you can just watch the video yourself):
Fly ball to left-center. CF Donavan Tate and LF Everett Williams converge. It looks like nobody makes the call. Tate makes the catch, Williams tries to duck out of the way at the last moment, they collide, limbs go flying. After a few seconds, the ball comes trickling out of Tate’s glove. Umpire says it’s a dropped catch, the batter is not out, the hitter races all the way around to score. Manager Shawn Wooten comes out, argues the call, gets ejected. Walks the rest of the way out to left-center where he finds Williams and Tate crumpled on the ground being attended to by both teams’ trainers. I’m sticking with my original description as “the worst-case scenario in all aspects.”
Well, not quite. From what is listed here and from what I can share, tests showed no structural damage for either guy. Tate went on the DL Wednesday with a hyperextended left knee. Williams is day-to-day with some tightness/soreness in his right knee. All things considered, as bad as it looked, neither guy was horribly injured. My cell phone, however, is irreparably damaged by all the text messages I received that afternoon.
Random thoughts (all based on the small sample size of 7 games):
- RHP Keyvius Sampson has now thrown 11 scoreless innings (19 strikeouts, 1 walk) this season. He retired 20 straight hitters to open the season. Fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, arm speed consistent on fastball-curveball-changeup. I talked to a scout before the game tonight who said “the secret’s out” that Sampson is really good.
- I’m pretty fired up to see Zach Cates throw again on Thursday. Liked him the first time I saw him. Good fastball, better secondary stuff than I expected.
- RHP Yefri Carvajal has looked fine so far in his transition to the mound. Fastball looks legit, command is good enough. And he still likes swinging the bat, hitting fungoes to infielders during batting practice.
- The TinCaps’ pitchers’ batting practice should be something to watch. Zach Cates was recruited as a catcher, Mark Hardy has a 1.000 career batting average (2-for-2 with San Antonio although he says he just got lucky), Carvajal is a converted outfielder, Chase Marona is a converted shortstop… These guys should drop some bombs.
- Before he was injured, Tate impressed me with a couple of things: First, just about all of his hits were either to the middle or back side of the field. Solid approach. Second, on Tuesday there was a ball smoked to the gap in right-center. He moved over, picked it off the wall and threw a one-hop strike to second to nail the runner. He got there quickly but I still thought there was no shot at getting the runner. Good arm, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about it, him being a D-I quarterback recruit and all.
- On the infield defensively (especially on the left side), this team is so far ahead of last year’s club it’s not even close. B.J. Guinn can cover ground and pick it at short (haven’t seen many throws from deep in the hole yet) and Jake Blackwood has made every play at third. The catchers have blocked well and have thrown out all three runners who have tried to steal against them (Bowling Green isn’t even TRYING to steal against them, and Bowling Green steals against everyone). You get the feeling this is what the Padres have in mind when they talk about building a team for Petco Park: Pitching and defense, aggressive baserunning.
- I think this team will hit a little more when they’re not facing left-handed pitching every night. For whatever reason they’re on track for a string of facing lefty starters in 5 of their first 8 games.Which is a lot, especially for a team with so many left-handed hitters.
- Bowling Green is Reds country, so we’ve been able to watch the Padres-Reds the last couple of nights. Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos looked really good through four innings on Monday and Fort Wayne alum 3B Chase Headley looks lost at the plate. The Padres won in comeback, walk-off fashion today while the TinCaps were in progress.
- What the heck is going on when a guy gets beaten to within an inch of his life because he’s wearing the wrong team’s jersey? Unbelievable.
- Bill Simmons wrote a pretty good story about watching The Masters on TV with his young son.
- Cavaliers radio guy Joe Tait called his last game on Wednesday. Between his curmudgeony self and his Bill Cosby sweater collection, it won’t be the same without him.
Musical guest… Howie Day!
It hasn’t stopped raining since we crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky. Seriously. Game was rained out tonight, doubleheader Tuesday at 11:05 a.m. local time (12:05 p.m. Eastern).
- Jose Dore’s first pro homer on Sunday was a bomb. Just to the right of center, and even with the jet stream going out, not many balls get out to that part of Parkview Field.
- Hey… We made ESPN Page 2. Good for us.
- Some former TinCaps helped Double-A San Antonio score 23 runs today. TWENTY-THREE!
- Who are the youngest players in each minor league?Baseball America has it.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon was ejected from a game. I imagine he’s frustrated by the way they’ve started the year.
- Included in that poor Rays’ start is Manny retiring. Doug Glanville has a player’s perspective, and it’s excellent.
- “You know, these guys aren’t so [expletive] bad.” – Major League
Musical guest… Elvis Presley!
Just wanted to point you to an excellent human-interest/baseball story about TinCaps RHP Keyvius Sampson. Some of his adoptive family came up from Florida to watch him pitch the other night. It certainly wasn’t the only well-done TinCaps story we’ve seen so far, but it’s the one I have open in my browser right now.
Also, Zach Cates: He’s good. Hard fastball, nasty curve and a good change. When he was locating, he was pretty unhittable against South Bend last night. The TinCaps got some help from South Bend errors last night, but they forced the tempo a bit and that may have led to the mistakes.
- Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos is expected to return to the rotation on Monday.
- A Padres coach is recovering after getting smoked in the mouth by a ball and RHP Casey Kelly made his organizational debut.
- There’s going to be a movie about Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey – Robert Redford will play Rickey.
- From Buster Olney about Manny Ramirez: “Legacy? Hall of Fame? Teammates? Does anyone really think, after all we’ve seen in the past decade, that Ramirez cares about any of that? He won. He’s like the guy who robbed a bank of millions and was sentenced to 10 hours of community service.” Yep, but he was some kind of hitter.
- The Phillies’ rotation has an ERA above 6. Everybody freak out!
Musical guest… Elvis Costello!
I don’t get very serious on here very often, mostly because sports are supposed to be an escape from all the serious stuff we run up against every day. But, fresh off a delicious breakfast with my parents, I feel like I’m in the proper mindset and felt compelled to write because this is important.
We value people who are great athletes or musicians or accountants or whatever. But way more important than any of those things (and sometimes the toughest thing to be) is being a great human being. Larry Larson is that, times about a million. He’s maybe the best person I’ve ever met.
Here’s a story for you: It was November 2005. I worked part-time at WTVN radio in Columbus, Ohio. I worked the midnight-5 a.m. shift anchoring newscasts on weekends.
So here I was at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning, running on fumes because, well, I was a 21-year-old college student, it was 5 a.m. and I hadn’t napped properly the night before. It happened to be the day of the Ohio State-Michigan game. Ohio State was good, Michigan was (believe it or not) still good, relatively speaking. It was “The Game.” But, hey… I was still tired. And ready to go home. As I was sleepwalking around the station getting ready for my last newscast of the shift, this goofy old guy named Larry Larson came rolling into the newsroom like a tornado wearing Chuck Taylors, no socks, cargo shorts and a T-shirt from 1975. He was wired and ready to go for his morning sportscasts. We were already homeboys by that point, but I still got a kick out of him like everyone else did. The girl who was coming in to relieve me saw Larry and asked him, “Hey, Larry! Are you excited for today or what?” Then something happened that I’ll never forget:
Larry Larson raised his arms as if he was an Olympic champion, did some sort of leg shimmy (which drives the women in Columbus crazy) and said, “Shannon, when you’re 61 years old like I am, you’re excited about every damn day there is.”
That’s Larry: He’s enthusiastic, he loves sports, but more important than that, he loves people. He’s a retired a high-school teacher and football coach, a former marathoner and now he’s a retired radio broadcaster. He’s leaving Columbus and moving to California where a lot of his family now lives. He misses his wife/best friend, who passed away a few years back, and from the conversations we had within the last year, he just wanted to go somewhere new. He’s earned every bit of it. In addition to his teaching, coaching and radio careers, he toured Central Ohio with some of the best athletes in the area, speaking to kids about the value of character and hard work. If you were ever lucky enough to come into contact with him, you probably came away energized by how positive he is.
The moral of this story is this: We all love sports (sometimes to a fault) and we all get too caught up in career/politics/whatever else bogs us down, but the most important thing is the people around us, our family and friends. Larry gets that and makes everybody feel valuable. If everyone (myself included) could become half the human being Larry Larson is, we’ll be doing pretty well.
Columbus will be a poorer place for losing him. California, you’ve been warned: Get ready for bow ties, Chuck Taylors and the most energetic senior citizen you’ve ever seen.
And that’s my ode to Larry Larson, one of the best people I’ve ever met.
- Aside from the cold, wind and rain, it was a pretty good night on the field for the TinCaps. RHP Keyvius Sampson looked good. Rarely needed anything other than his fastball as he struck out ten over six perfect innings. I had him down for 87 pitches, which is over his limit, but they were not high-stress pitches. OF Donavan Tate’s base hit was a liner over the second baseman’s head, which is a good sign.
- Troy Tulowitzki has Beiber fever. He’s on fire since switching his walk-up music from Katy Perry to “Baby.”
- Tony LaRussa heard enough from St. Louis reporters with the Cardinals struggling out of the gate. So he walked out on a news conference.
- An Orioles prospect may not be in the minors for long.
- Giants closer Brian Wilson now has a Noah-esque staff to go with his flowing beard. You know, just in case he needs to part the Red Sea.
- One notable non-Buzzcut on the Wisconsin basketball team is now a buzzcut. And there’s video to prove it.
I’m a little short today because, well… It’s the season.
Musical guest… A Larry Larson favorite, Warren Zevon!
I don’t really have anything significant for now… Tickets are still available for the 3Dpalooza tonight. If my parents are driving five hours (and bringing a radio), you don’t have any excuse for not being here. If you can’t be here, you can catch up with the podcast, which I’ll post whenever I can after the game.
Also, LHP Dan Taylor is on the South Bend roster. Get ready for maximum Forrest Gump references for the next four nights.
- Tim Lincecum shut down the Padres. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. They just can’t be giving up eight runs on a regular basis.
- LHP Joe Thatcher had a setback during a bullpen session. He could be out through May. Thatcher is a big part of that bullpen as a lefty specialist.
- Geoff at Ducksnorts was at the Padres’ home opener and says the final Trevor Time was pretty emotional.
- Legendary author Ben Hill tells us Altoona is making a splash with a reversible hat: the outside is the team’s normal on-field home hat, but when you flip it inside out it becomes a rally cap, complete with a design.
- In a Baseball America chat, Jim Callis hazards a guess of a midseason call-up for Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie. Just keep him in Las Vegas through mid-July, am I right?
- Peter Gammons says pitchers don’t always have to be 6-foot-15 to be good. He’s right, as usual. Short guys succeeding on the mound are few and far between, but they’re fun to root for.
- The Indians continued their utter domination of the Red Sox last night. Boston hasn’t won a game yet and it’s officially freak-out time for Sox fans. Actual text message from former TinCaps strength gorilla and Boston native Rick SantaBarbara: “Red Sox are terrible. Back up the truck! Back it up! Turn this place into a parking lot!”
- Mustache Watch catches up with former Midwest Leaguer and newly-appointed Angels closer Jordan Walden, who is going with the Justin Shurley/Al Borland look.
- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban discusses the role of the media when it comes to sports teams. He makes a lot of good points (as usual), but if you’re interested in the First Amendment, you’ll probably be a little put off.
Musical guest… Grace Potter and the Nocturnals!