Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. And for the TinCaps on Friday night, the fear of losing their 13th consecutive game became a reality, as Fort Wayne fell to South Bend, 9-2. In spite of the result, the ballgame was enjoyed by a Parkview Field crowd of 6,957.
And for more on that, we turn it over to Mike Couzens and Javi DeJesus…
THREE RIVERS FESTIVAL PARADE
Props to outfielder Ronnie Richardson who joined members of the TinCaps’ front office staff this morning in the Three Rivers Festival Parade. No matter if the team is winning or losing, Ronnie has been one of the most active guys volunteering all season long. And fans love him.
This was my first Three Rivers Festival Parade experience, and it was a lot of fun — a much bigger turnout by the Fort Wayne community than I could have imagined.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
As the TinCaps attempt to snap the longest losing streak in franchise history, they have some new faces on the way…
We’ll have more on Trea and Ryan, the Padres’ first and seventh round selections in this year’s draft, respectively, once they arrive.
Jimmy Fallon Neil Young featuring Crosby, Stills & Nash, take it away…
The TinCaps continue their series with the Silver Hawks tonight at 7:05 (XFINITY Channel 81, ESPN Radio 1380, TinCaps.com, and TuneIn Radio). Thanks for checking in. Enjoy your Saturday. And keep in touch on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.
The undisputed major sports news of the day is LeBron James’ decision to return home to Northeast Ohio. We’ll assume you’ve heard that by now, but if you haven’t also read LeBron’s essay — as told to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins — we highly recommend that you do.
In an overly sentimental sports sense, it’s genuinely touching to see someone’s dedication to their home region. It’s also a lesson for all to see how the country’s biggest sports star is mature enough to forgive the Cavaliers’ billionaire, Comic Sans-writing owner. We could all use that reminder not to let our pride stop us from achieving happiness.
On a far-less talked about note, the TinCaps are coming home to Northeast Indiana tonight after a three-game series at Great Lakes. Fort Wayne will host South Bend for four, beginning tonight at 7:05. Check out the homestand highlights below.
The TinCaps have now lost 12 in a row, and as you can see in our Game Notes, it hasn’t been pretty. But with that said, Fort Wayne is only six games out of a playoff spot with 50 games to go. So far in the second half, the TinCaps have played road 14 games, while no one else in the East Division has played more than 11 away from home. Fort Wayne is three games better than .500 at Parkview Field on the year.
There’s no doubt the TinCaps have a loyal fanbase — even during a losing streak such as now. Chris Goff of the Journal Gazette showcases two such Fort Wayne fans in this story on Andrea Hetrick and Ethan Wilkins.
Hetrick is an amazing amateur artist who in her free time has drawn portraits of more than 10 TinCaps players. Here she is with Mallex Smith before his promotion.
Wilkins, aka EWay, has produced a song called “Johnny TinCaps.” Take a listen below.
Hopefully the TinCaps can give their loyal fans a win this weekend. Or four wouldn’t be bad either. You can catch us on both TV and radio tonight. For the local, visually-inclined audience, The Leadoff Spot starts at 6:30. Audio coverage commences at 6:45 on ESPN Radio 1380 and TinCaps.com.
You can follow John Nolan on Twitter for HOT SPORTS TAKES on LeBron James and just room temperature takes on the TinCaps.
There’s no denying, things have been tough for the TinCaps of late from the perspective of wins and losses. Fort Wayne hasn’t won since June 27 at South Bend.
While there hasn’t been much to smile about regarding results, we dare you not to laugh at relief pitcher Justin Livengood impersonating country music star Luke Bryan.
For the record, that video was shot during the Midwest League All-Star break last month — not during this losing streak. Also note, we searched the team’s clubhouse the other day and couldn’t find any beer or friend chicken. But wouldn’t you know, beer and fried chicken are two of Luke Bryan’s favorites (we assume).
Back on June 27, we sat down with Justin to talk about the success he’s had on the mound with the TinCaps this season and how’s he developed both physically and mentally. Justin also shares his unique story — stepping away from baseball after high school only to turn back to the game a few years later, walk on at UNC Wilmington, and eventually get drafted by the Padres.
As fascinating as our conversation with Justin was, though, we had to cut it short when — of all people — Luke Bryan made a surprise appearance at the park. If that wasn’t wild enough, Harry Caray was there, too, and introduced the TinCaps starting lineup.
Our thanks to Justin for his time and for being hilarious. That’s as much fun as we’ve ever had during a pregame interview. Thanks to Luke Bryan and Harry Caray for their time as well.
Justin and the rest of the TinCaps hope to get back in the win column with a laugh tonight in their series finale at Great Lakes. Mike Couzens has the call of the 7:05 contest on ESPN Radio 1380 and TinCaps.com. For a preview of the matchup, check out our Game Notes here. And then get set for a BIG FUN weekend at Parkview Field with the South Bend Silver Hawks coming to town for a four-game set. Hope to see you Downtown.
For insight on the TinCaps, interview with fake celebrities, and more, you can follow John Nolan on Twitter.
A parent’s favorite aphorism is that nothing good happens after midnight. But what about in those moments right before—the sun is long set, dogs have started to wail at the moon, and when the late-night talk shows are in full swing lampooning Justin Bieber? When most days are ending that’s when the night, or at least the appetite, for many players in Minor League Baseball begins to churn into full gear, and these guys are hungry.
The baseball fan might not feel like he or she has a lot in common with the player on the field, but there is an important trait they all share, and it’s that both fan and player need to eat. While the player, burning calories through exercise throughout the day might require more food, the commonality remains. Baseball players at all levels from the steaming heat of the fields at academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela all the way to the Majors spend countless hours learning how to better hit, throw, and field a baseball. They learn to command their pitches, angle their bats, and tailor their baserunning to minimize their time between bases. But without a healthy and well-fueled body, how can a player perform at his best?
Any radio broadcaster throughout Minor League Baseball can share stories of seeing a player, and many times multiple players, coming on to the team bus after a game with pizza/soda/cheeseburger/name your greasy food option in hand.
The 30 Major League Baseball clubs invest so much time in refining players on-field skills, but how much time is spent helping them shape their knowledge of how they feed and hydrate themselves?
I reached out to the farm directors of the 16 teams in the Midwest League to ask about what their organizations do along the lines of nutrition education and helping their players make informed decisions. Eight teams responded, and all indicated a good portion of their educational process takes place during spring training, when all of the players are together in one complex.
Doug Jarrow, the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Chicago Cubs wrote via email:
“Our players have 365 access to our organization’s Sports Dietician/Nutritionist. Our nutritionist is present during Spring Training and also during our off-season camps. The players are provided group educational segments during these times while also meeting individually (one-on-one) to discuss their personal Nutritional plans. Also, the nutritionist makes trips to our Academy in the Dominican Republic for the same reasons.
During the season the players have the ability to contact the nutritionist to speak about nutritional plans and how they can be adjusted around the in-season variables (e.g.-travel). Also, at our minor league affiliates we have the individual Strength & Conditioning coach working with the players day by day. Every member of the S&C staff has a degree or degrees in Exercise Science and the necessary Strength & Conditioning certifications which allow them to be and stay knowledgeable in the field of sports nutrition.”
Within Minor League Baseball, each team is a group of 25 players, at least three coaches, an athletic trainer, and a strength and conditioning coach. A decade ago, it would have not been quite as common to see a strength and conditioning coach listed on a team’s roster; now, no team is without one.
TinCaps Strength and Conditioning Coach Dan Byrne, in his second season with the Padres organization, earned his master’s degree in exercise physiology from Loughborough University in England, also has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He’s studied the correlation between nutrition and athletic performance, and helped to train Olympic athletes during the 2012 Summer Games. As with the Cubs system, Byrne says most players get their advice from the strength and conditioning coaches.
Acting as the players’ sustenance Sherpa, he finds he can help players out sometimes just by being there to give a disapproving look when they’re eating something they know they shouldn’t be, like a post-game pizza…for one.
“Usually I’ll give them a hard time and they’ll know. They’ll put their head down and keep walking if I’ve said something to them before. If I can get into their head, and they’re thinking ‘Maybe this isn’t the best thing to do,’ then I’ve started down the right road.”
That uphill battle is being fought in organizations across baseball. Chris Dunaway, the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Los Angeles Dodgers wrote via email that the franchise’s minor league players have started to pay more attention to what they’re eating.
“We are seeing a shift in the players requesting and expecting more healthy eating choices. Fifteen years ago, players wanted pizza, hot dogs, and burgers. Now, players are asking for lean meats, vegetables, and fruits. The culture and expectations are changing.
“One of the major ideas we have discussed is eating whole foods, incorporating fresh vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, and lean meats into our pre-game meals. The idea has been described as shopping from the perimeter of the grocery store and avoiding the overly processed foods which are often found in the center of the store,” he wrote. “We have also made an effort to reduce sugar and starch from our diet. Foods high in sugar and starch lead to water retention, weight retention, and can contribute to inflammation response in the body. By focusing on vegetables, fruits, and lean meats we are able to help increase energy levels, decrease inflammation responses, and help reduce excess body fat.”
The approach to diet and nutrition, though, remains mostly reactive rather than proactive, Byrne says.
“I think that’s the way it is in baseball. From an energy standpoint, baseball isn’t the most demanding compared to other sports, but nutrition plays a huge factor in how athletes perform mentally and physically.”
Unlike with America’s other most popular pro sports, basketball and football, there isn’t the same demand on the body for oxygen or calories. Nor is baseball like distance running, where many athletes will “carb load” the night before a race, packing their body with pasta and other carbohydrate-rich foods that the body will store and turn into energy.
Regardless of sport, a little bit of education can have a big impact on the choices players make.
“You’ll see a lot of players at this level, 18, 19, 20 years old. If you remember where you were at that age, you were in college, had a terrible diet, and sadly that’s where these guys are at,” Byrne says. “So it’s my job to educate them on making better choices, especially when we’re on the road and it’s 11 or 12 at night and all that’s open is Burger King next to the hotel. It’s all about trying to teach guys to make better decisions as to how they can prepare nutritionally before they get to the field, so they can hopefully not be sluggish before game time.”
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Director of Player Development Bobby Scales was a 14th-round pick of the Padres in 1999, and not only played with the Fort Wayne Wizards in 2000, but also spent time playing in Japan, where the food choices became even more difficult to make because of the language barrier.
“I had a BlackBerry when I played there, and my wife and I would take pictures of the stuff we thought was red meat and would send it to our translator, who would say ‘Buy this….Don’t buy that,’ because we couldn’t read the labels on the packaging.”
Now overseeing the Angels farm system, Scales understands the plight of foreign-born players who come to live in the United States and speak little to no English.
“Going to a grocery store can be hard (for players in the United States) when you’re 16, 17, and 18 with limited resources. Some players will order a hamburger, French fries, and a milkshake because it’s the only thing they know how to say,” he said.
Each team’s strength and conditioning coach can’t be a helicopter parent, lording over a player’s every meal. Think of them more as a guidance counselor in high school—there to let a player know when he’s in danger of failing, and to get him back on track.
“There have been some players who have not taken their nutrition seriously, and you can see that with either weight loss or weight gain,” Byrne said. “I sit them down and say ‘We need to be a little bit more serious, here are some things you can do,’ and try to make them a little more conscious of what they’re putting into their body.”
It’s nighttime after a game and TinCaps pitcher Payton Baskette is hungry. He’s riding the bus back to the team hotel, trying to figure out what his next meal will be. Players on the team are given $25 per day in meal money by the Padres. Each player makes approximately $1,100 per month before taxes.
The team is staying in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and there are more food options around this hotel than most; there’s a Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern, an American restaurant in the hotel, a Qdoba Mexican restaurant, a Burger King, and even a Meijer grocery store, which stays open until midnight.
Baskette chooses the hotel restaurant, certainly a convenient option, and orders an artichoke spinach dip, chicken fettuccine alfredo, and a Coke.
The 20-year-old pitcher did not stray far during his visit to Grand Rapids when it came to food choices, keeping close to the hotel and alternating between nearby restaurants like Burger King for breakfast and Bagger Dave’s for dinner.
Baskette exemplifies the norm among most players on the TinCaps, who choose convenience and proximity over anything else. But the Fort Wayne roster has a handful of players like roommates Justin Livengood and Kyle Lloyd who avoid the late-night grease-traps of Minor League Baseball and bring their own pre-made food on the road.
“We have a cooler full of food and a cooler full of drinks. Lloyd drinks water like a camel,” Livengood says with a laugh of his always well-hydrated teammate. “We feel like our bodies are in a pretty good spot because of how we prepare things and how we try and take care of ourselves. I know it’s a little bit more expensive to do what we do, but it’s better than putting crappy pizza in your body. Anything that’s going to be a positive alternative rather than fast food is what we try and go for. You spend a little more on the front end, but it’s worth it.”
Both Livengood and Lloyd are college graduates, and pitched together last year with the Short-Season Eugene Emeralds, where as first-year pros they both admit they were not as diligent with their nutrition or hydration. Now they’ll pack pre-made burger patties (although Livengood usually skips the bun), grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, granola bars, water and Vitamin Water. Livengood says an off-season program established for him by Byrne helped make a big difference.
“They are nutritionally the best ones on the team,” Byrne said. “They have great aerobic capacities. They take their nutrition, their intake, their hydration pretty seriously, and I think it shows on the field with their ability to recover.”
The dual-cooler duo is the exception to the rule among players at this level where many players don’t have the necessary education, or a slow enough metabolism, to want or need to make a change in how they eat.
“Everybody gets into their bad moments, and you just do what’s easier,” Lloyd said. “That’s how all of America is now, and what’s easier is the unhealthier option. You have to want to do eat healthier.”
As for the argument that eating healthy is too expensive, which is a common refrain, and not just among the ranks of Minor League Baseball players, that’s not stood in their way.
“A lot of the stuff we have is the store-brand stuff. A granola bar doesn’t have to be a Clif bar. I think you can do it. It’s pushing it, but you can get by with it. You have to stretch the dollar more and look for deals, but the question is how worth it is it to you to go the extra step?” Livengood said.
Kathy Wehrle knows all about what it takes to eat well, and do it on a limited budget. As the Community Outreach Dietician with the Parkview Health LiVe Wellness Campaign she works with all different members of the community, including low-income families and individuals, trying to educate and promote about the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle.
She says that the lifestyle of a professional athlete can be conducive to quick meals, which a lot of times end up being fast food, simply because of convenience.
“With athletes, they’re a captive audience. They’re hungry and they want it to taste good,” Wehrle says.
“Most fast food restaurants do have some healthy options, whether it be a main-dish salad, grilled chicken with all kinds of spinach on it, wraps with grilled chicken, soups or some kind of sandwich that doesn’t have five ounces of meat on it. Most people don’t pick those options, but they are there,” she adds.
The age and educational background of the average player in the Midwest League varies, with most players falling between 18-24 years old. Most usually having a high school degree, if from the United States, and some college education. Few players have a four-year college degree. Those educational factors, combined with what Wehrle says is a decline in culinary knowledge from the millennial generation, make Minor League Baseball players a demographic very susceptible to eating poorly.
“Being in sports, they want their body to perform and be at peak performance. I would think they would be really thirsty for that information. What you eat affects not only how you do in your sport, your immunity right now, your reasoning and thinking power right now, and your health now and in the future.”
Wehrle endorses the idea of packing food, saying that players, like Livengood and Lloyd of the TinCaps, can make healthy choices while on a budget, just like families have to do every week when grocery shopping. A sample meal she says players could pack and take on the road could be yogurt or fruit along with 100% whole grain bagel thins with peanut butter for breakfast, a stuffed whole grain pita with vegetables or beans for lunch, along with a piece of fruit and a couple pieces of dark chocolate, and for dinner a chilled container of pork or chicken with steam-in-a-bag vegetables that can be microwaved in the clubhouse.
But if players can’t pack, she says, then it’s ok, every once in a while, to eat at the favorite restaurant of ballplayers across the country—Chipotle.
“The best choice is chicken with brown rice instead of white rice. They’ll have to coach their server on adding more peppers to a wrap or a bowl, and the mild salsa is OK,” she advises. “Keep it light on the cheese, light on the sour cream, and modest guacamole is OK.”
Minor League Baseball players everywhere, famously fond of Chipotle, rejoice at that news. It’s a small piece of information that she believes fits into a larger base that remains untapped by not just athletes, but the public.
“Even though we feel like, ‘Gosh, there’s so much good health information out there,’ I feel like not everyone is getting that health information filtered down to them.
Eating healthy can taste great. A common copout is eating healthy is boring and bland, or that it’s too expensive or complicated. It’s not weird or fanatical to eat healthy.”
If Sam Cooke was right, and “A Change is Gonna Come” to the way baseball players eat, it seems it will be a combination of trickle-down knowledge from parent clubs, combined with a desire to do so from players. More and more teams are investing in the food they purchase and prepare for their players at their home ballparks and spring training facilities, and in the amount of education and resources the players receive.
“We can preach healthy choices all day, but until we provide the foods for these young men, chances are they won’t make the healthy choice. The time and money investment in the health of our players has the biggest impact,” says Vaughn Robinson, the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks, wrote via email.
“We are a whole foods organization. We have supplements available for the players, but we are about eating a well-rounded healthy diet, high in fruits, vegetables and lean meats. We also have Vitamix blenders at all of our affiliates to provide veggie shakes for the players.”
The Padres’ Byrne acknowledges that given the age and knowledge level of the players, it’s a difficult, but worthwhile, effort.
“It’s about can you teach these guys and are they willing to listen to what you have to say. It’s a lifestyle change that would require them to alter things in their daily routine. This young they’re pretty stubborn in their daily routine,” he says.
The Angels’ Scales, drafted at 21, and a big-leaguer by 31 four different organizations later, knows the responsibility is shared between player and club.
“Guys are playing so much longer now and part of that is putting proper fuel in your system. If you ingrain those habits early, you give yourself every opportunity to get to the big leagues.”
A horse, it’s said, can be led to water, but not forced to drink. In similar fashion, Major League Baseball teams can educate their minor league players and provide them not only with the right educational information, but also give them the food they want them to eat.
“What your nutrition status is like when you’re in sports can really get you to the top of your game or it can hold you back,” Wehrle says.
The stakes, too, are much higher for the player. After all, a horse can only hope to retire to a pasture; a baseball player aspires for greatness.
Hey, how ya doin?
We’ve been on a bit of hiatus over the last six days, traveling to the Midwest League All-Star Classic and working the big Florida Georgia Line (and Nelly!) Concert at Parkview Field. Stay tuned to upcoming posts recapping those experiences. But meanwhile…
The second half of the MWL season began Thursday night for the TinCaps and Fort Wayne was trounced at West Michigan, 15-4. That was the 12th time this year the TinCaps have allowed 10+ runs in a game. In two games, they both scored and allowed 10+. Entering play on Sunday, Fort Wayne has allowed 439 runs (6.1 per game) — 65 more than Beloit, which has allowed the next most. On the flip side, the TinCaps have scored 386 runs (5.4 per game) — 22 more than South Bend, which has scored the next most.
So through the first 70 games of the year, 29% of the time, either the TinCaps or their opponent was in double digits. That’s quite often. After a rare mid-series day off on Friday (Fifth Third Ballpark was hosting the Opening Ceremony of the Michigan State Games), on Saturday, Fort Wayne played 18 innings of baseball in a day for the second time this season. Previously, it happened when the TinCaps and Burlington played a 5 hour, 45 minute marathon on April 16. Saturday, though, in came in a now rare day-night doubleheader. Both games were scheduled to last seven innings. The first one did, and Fort Wayne won, 5-4. The second did not, and Fort Wayne lost, 6-5, in 11 frames. You can read about those dramatic games here.
Although we’re a few games into the second half now, it still seems worth reflecting back on the half that was. And for that, here’s our conversation with manager Michael Collins from last week.
Along the same line, Mike Maahs caught up with TinCaps President Mike Nutter at the All-Star Classic.
SUMMERTIME Yesterday was the longest day of the year for the TinCaps — and for everyone else for that matter. They played 6 hours and 2 minutes of baseball on the first official day of summer. With that in mind, we recommend checking out a recently released NPR stream of “The Songs of the Summer.” It’s a pretty cool mix of the top summer hits of the past 50 years.
The songs that win the summer season spread so fast and far because they work. They’re fun to sing. The hooks are catchy. They speak to something larger than our tastes, fulfilling a collective need for music that’s as danceable as it is escapist as it is a shared experience. This happens every year. We here at NPR Music wondered what we might discover when we put all the Songs of the Summers of the past 50 years or so in one place. What story would they tell us? Billboard has compiled lists of the Top 10 charting Songs of the Summer since 1985, so figuring those was easy. For the summers of 1962 through 1984, we looked through the June-August Billboard charts, taking note of which songs were on the charts the longest, in any position, and which had staying power at No. 1. It wasn’t a perfect science, but we made our best educated decisions about which songs once ruled the radio and the cash registers.
From 1991, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, take it away…
Time flies when you’re having #BIGFUN. Last we talked, the TinCaps were coming off four consecutive losses. Well, that changed Thursday with a big swing of the bat by Dustin Peterson. Fort Wayne’s third baseman hit a grand slam against Lansing’s Matt Dermody — the same pitcher who hit Petey in the head with a fastball at Parkview Field on May 23 — to lead the TinCaps to a 7-2 win.
You can watch Petey’s granny below, plus see our postgame interview with him and a recap from Mike Couzens and Dave Doster.
Here’s the call of Dustin’s grand slam coming to fruition.
Fort Wayne came back to Parkview Field on Friday night to start a three-game set with Bowling Green. Kyle Lloyd threw as well as any TinCaps starter has all season for six innings. The seventh, though, was a different story as his shutout bid ended when Hot Rods third baseman Pat Blair hit a three-run homer to give Bowling Green a 3-1 lead. Fort Wayne’s offense had just a measly unearned run through eight innings, but turned on the power switch in the ninth. Ryan Miller and Henry Charles both cranked solo home runs to improbably tie the game, 3-3. However to the Hot Rods’ credit, they responded with a run in the 10th to take the opener. Mike and Javi De Jesus recap how that unfolded below.
Last night, just like the two previous nights, Parkview Field was sold out. More than 8,000 fans were treated to seeing the national performing act QuickChange, fireworks, and best of all, an 8-4 TinCaps win in the penultimate game of the first half. Six days after Fort Wayne was stymied by Bowling Green starter Ryne Stanek (1 unearned run in six innings against him last Sunday), the TinCaps knocked the 2013 first round draft pick out of the game after 2 1/3 innings. Dustin Peterson and Fernando Perez each drove in three runs, while Mallex Smith was a home run shy of the cycle. Mike and Javi have more.
Now today, a happy Father’s Day to all whom it applies (including John Nolan Jr. back east).
Parkview Field is expecting its fourth sellout in a row. In fact, there’s such a demand that the TinCaps are opening up the Ortho Northeast Treetops for individual ticket sales — typically that is an exclusive group-seating area. The forecast calls for sun, a clear sky, and warm temperatures — a delight day for dads.
Our friend Kevin Barry is a reporter at KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who yesterday got to cover a rather cool story. As part of a celebration for the 25th anniversary of Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner and Dwier Brown returned to Dyersville, Iowa — where the movie was filmed — for a catch.
For more on the Father’s Day Field of Dreams reunion, and all of the dads and sons who were there to see it, check out Kevin’s story here.
CALL IT A WRAP
Today is the final game of the season’s first half. Here are the headlines from our Game Notes.
Shutdown Pitching: Beginning with th third inning of yesterday’s game, TinCaps pitchers allowed only four hits over the final six frames. Reliever Eric Yardley recorded six of the eight outs he notched via the ground ball, and Tyron Guerrero fanned two batters in his one inning of relief.
Looking Back: A comparison of Fort Wayne’s Opening Day roster compared with the 24-man group it has today shows 15 of the 25 players that began the year in a TinCaps uniform. Of the original starting rotation that consisted of Pete Kelich, Walker Lockett, Yimmi Brasoban, Payton Baskette, Adrian De Horta, and Walker Weickel, only Baskette and Weickel remain. Kelich has been sidelined with Tommy John surgery, while Brasoban, Lockett, and De Horta are with Short-Season Eugene.
From 30,000 Feet: A win today for the TinCaps would see them close the first half at 31-38, tying them for the third-lowest win total in a half by a Fort Wayne team. That, however, is no reason to panic, as the 2012, team the franchise’s second to reach the championship series, also had 31 wins in the first half under manager Jose Valentin.
On Record Pace: 19-year-old third baseman Dustin Peterson leads the Midwest League with 55 runs batted in. The franchise record is held by Jeremy Owens with 111, who accomplished that feat as a 22-year-old in 1999, when he also stole a franchise record 65 bases.
Happy Birthday: TinCaps closer Nick Mutz celebrates his 24th birthday today.
Starting Pitchers: Walker Weickel makes his team-leading 13th start of the season. The TinCaps are just 3-9 in his outings, and have provided him with 4.2 runs per game of support. Weickel has increased his durability on the mound as the season has gone on, especially in his last four starts, having gone a career-high-tying six innings each time. In his last start, a June 9th outing at Bowling Green, he worked two batters into the seventh, but surrendered a triple and a walk, prompting the end of his game.
Jaime Schultz, 22, makes his sixth start with the Hot Rods this season, and his third against the TinCaps. The Castelton, New York, native, last went 6 scoreless innings on June 9 against Fort Wayne, striking out eight, and walking three. Schultz was selected by Tampa Bay in the 14th round of the 2013 draft out of High Point (NC) University. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011. In his final year at HPU, he had a 3.05 ERA (14G/6GS) and struck out 59 batters in 60.2 innings.
We were looking forward to sharing this on Friday, when Parkview Field celebrated Spotlight on Broadway Musicals Night (presented by Shindigz), so cast of 42nd Street, take it away…
And now in the spirit of the day, The Notorious B.I.G., take it away…
We’ve got an earlier than usual Sunday start time today at 1:05 p.m. You can catch it on XFINITY Channel 81 and also listen on ESPN Radio 1380, TheFanIndiana.com, and on the TuneIn Radio app. Remember you can always stay in touch in the comments below or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan. Thanks for stopping by.
The TinCaps lost their third in a row on Wednesday night, 4-3, to Lansing. For the second night in a row against the Lugnuts, it was a tie game through eight innings, and then Lansing eeked it out thanks to the bottom of its order. More on that below from Mike Couzens and one-time Fort Wayne pitcher Javi De Jesus.
Not to be forgotten from last night, it was Military Appreciation Night at Parkview Field. The TinCaps wore special red, white, and blue jerseys (see below) and players recorded thank you messages that were played on the video board during the game. Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Director of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University, and Master Sergeant Eric Vickrey, Chairman of the Northeast Indiana Military Assistance Network, threw out ceremonial first pitches. Meanwhile, the 122nd Fighter Wing Base Honor Guard presented our nation’s colors.
Best of all — nearly 900 tickets were donated to members of the military, veterans, and their families on behalf of the TinCaps and the following community organizations: Shepherd’s House; 122nd FW Airman & Family Readiness Program; Union Home Mortgage; Hiking for Heroes; His Pack, His Boots, My Hero!; VA Seamless Transition; VA Suicide Prevention; MFRI; 122nd FW Key Volunteers Team; Turnstone; Money Management International; National College; Wells Fargo; IPFW Military Student Services; Vet Center- Fort Wayne; Senator Donnelly’s Office; Office of Congressman Stutzman; Fort Wayne Base Community Council; Volunteer Center; Team RWB.
So now tonight the TinCaps look to avoid being swept for the third time this year. Here are other storylines from our Game Notes…
Not Trippin’, But Tripplin’: Dustin Peterson led Fort Wayne’s 10-hit attack on Wednesday with his 5th 3-hit game of the season. “Petey” had 2 singles, plus a triple — his 3rd of the year and 2nd in as many nights. As a team, the TinCaps now have 26 3-baggers, which is tied for 2nd most in the Midwest League. Quad Cities leads the way with 27; Burlington also has 26.
1 And Done: With Wednesday’s loss, the TinCaps dropped to 7-10 (.412) in 1-run games. That’s the 6th lowest winning percentage in such games out of the MWL’s 16 clubs. Wild-card leading West Michigan has been best in 1-run games with a 15-8 record. Fort Wayne’s opponent, Lansing, is now 11-10.
Not So Great Late: Wednesday was the 2nd night in a row that the TinCaps and Lugnuts were tied entering the 8th inning only for Lansing to
prevail. Fort Wayne is 3-7 this season when the scored is tied entering the 8th. Of MWL teams this year, only Burlington (3-11) has more losses in such contests.
Diecisiete For Número Veinticinco: Jake Bauers enters tonight’s contest on a 17-game hitting streak — the longest by a TinCaps player this
season and longest active streak in the MWL. On this current tear, which dates to May 24, Bauers is hitting .419 (26-62) with 4 HR and 12 RBI. He has reached base in 26 straight games, dating back to May 14… The longest-ever regular-season hitting streak by a TinCaps player is 18 (Rymer Liriano in 2011 and Blake Tekotte in ‘09)… The longest in Fort Wayne franchise history is 23 by Sean Burroughs in 1999 with the Wizards…. The MWL record is 35 by Frank Toups of the now-defunct Waterloo Diamonds in 1977… The MiLB record? Joe Wilhoit — 69 (Wichita Jobbers, 1919).
Footnotes: On this first day of the World Cup, note that Ryan Miller played soccer in high school… Tyron Guerrero’s mom is from Brazil.
Starting Pitchers: Ronald Herrera is set to make his Parkview Field debut tonight. After coming over to the TinCaps from Beloit in the Kyle Blanks trade between the Padres and A’s, Herrera’s first 2 starts as a TinCap have come on the road. Most recently at Lake County last Friday, the 5-foot-11 Venezuelan right-hander received credit for a win with 5 1/3 innings pitched of 3-run ball. Of the 6 hits Herrera allowed, 2 were home runs. On the year, he has surrendered 8 home runs in 62 2/3 innings. That’s 1 out of every 8.25 hits he has allowed. Only 3 other MWL pitchers gave served up more longballs this season.
The last time Matt Dermody pitched at Parkview Field was May 23. He was ejected after hitting Dustin Peterson in the head with a pitch. Earlier in the game, Peterson had hit a 3-run homer against Dermody. As it is, that’s the only home run Dermody has allowed this season and it’s also the only time he has hit a batter. Before his ejection, the TinCaps tagged Dermody for 11 runs (9 earned) on 8 hits. Since that game, Dermody has not missed a start.
FORT WAYNE’S FINEST
Bishop Luers alum Kevin Kiermaier is taking Major League Baseball by storm. The Fort Wayne native is hitting .347 in 18 games for Tampa Bay, but don’t forget he’s multi-talented.
And the Jay Z impersonation to boot — phenomenal.
THE PHYSICS OF A RIDICULOUS THROW
Kiermaier wasn’t the only AL player to make an incredible defensive play last night. A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes did, too.
Hat tip to Michael Limmer for passing along this Baseball Prospectus column from Alan Nathan, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Nathan breaks down the physics of Cespedes’ throw. This will either lead you to say, (A) “Neat. I could figure that out” or (B) “My math skills are embarrassing.”
ONE FOR THE ROAD
As we write this, the World Cup has officially kicked off in Brazil. It’s a joyous occasion — except for how corrupt FIFA is. John Oliver had a brilliant, hysterical, and depressing takedown of FIFA on the latest episode of his new HBO show Last Week, Tonight.
K’naan, take it away…
Tonight’s game can be seen on XFINITY Channel 81 and also heard on ESPN Radio 1380, TheFanIndiana.com, and on the TuneIn Radio app. And remember you can always stay in touch in the comments below or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan. Thanks for stopping by.
The TinCaps were back home after a six-game road trip last night to host the Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays), but the result was the same as it had been for four of the six games away — a loss. Fort Wayne overcame two separate deficits only to see Lansing break a 4-4 tie in the eighth with a run and score twice in the ninth to make it a 7-4 final. As they say, when it rains, it pours, and it did indeed rain for the majority of the game.
Mike Couzens and former Phillie Dave Doster recap Tuesday’s game below.
Although it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback, Jake Bauers collected a hit to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. That made it the 16th game in a row in which Jake has hit safely, extending the longest active hitting streak in the Midwest League. Before the game last night, Jake was kind enough to chat with Mike Maahs about being named MWL Player of the Week and thriving in Fort Wayne.
For more on Jake’s hitting streak, here are the headlines from today’s Game Notes:
Dieciséis For Número Veinticinco: First baseman Jake Bauers enters tonight’s contest on a 16-game hitting streak, which is the longest by a TinCaps player this season, and the longest active streak in the MWL. On this current tear, which dates to May 24, Bauers is hitting .431 (25-58) with 4 HR and 12 RBI. He has reached base in 25 straight games, dating back to May 14… The longest-ever regular-season hitting streak by a TinCaps player is 18, accomplished by 2011 Midwest League MVP Rymer Liriano and 2009 MWL champion Blake Tekotte… The longest in Fort Wayne franchise history is 23 by Sean Burroughs in 1999 with the Wizards…. The MWL record is 35 by Frank Toups of the now-defunct Waterloo Diamonds in 1977… The MiLB record? Joe Wilhoit — 69 (Wichita Jobbers, 1919).
This Date in TinCaps History: Fort Wayne clinched the Eastern Division’s Wild Card with a 7-4 win over the Lake County Captains on this day a year ago. The TinCaps went 43-26 in 2013’s first half, making it the second winningest first half in franchise history.
World Cup: With the FIFA World Cup set to begin Thursday, it seems appropriate to point out the diversity of the TinCaps. Fort Wayne’s 25-man roster features 15 players from the United States, 6 from the Dominican Republic (Cabrera, Charles, F. Reyes, G. Reyes, Santos, Tejada), 1 from Colombia (Guerrero), 1 from Mexico (Perez), 1 from Panama (Reina), and 1 from Venezuela (Herrera). And don’t forget, TinCaps manager Michael Collins is from Australia. Coincidentally, Mark Loretta, Padres Special Assistant to the Baseball Operations Staff, is in town right now. In 2013, Loretta managed Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic… To expand further, Fort Wayne’s opponent, the Lansing Lugnuts, is the affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Lugs currently have players from Aruba (Kelly), the Dominican (Del Rosario, Lugo), Mexico (Espinosa), Puerto Rico (Thon), and Venezuela (Nessy). Their disabled list features more foreign flair with 2 Canadians (Atkinson, Robson).
Today’s Starting Pitchers: Adrian De Horta was not listed above as one of Fort Wayne’s international players, although, both of his parents are from Mexico. The bilingual right-hander from the Los Angeles area is coming off his shortest start of the season. Last Thursday at Lake County, De Horta was chased after 2 2/3 innings after he allowed 4 runs — all earned — on 6 hits and 3 walks. The 19-year-old enters tonight with 33 walks in 44 2/3 innings pitched. That’s the 5th highest total in the Midwest League. Meanwhile, he has struck out 34 — 5th most of any TinCaps pitcher this season.
Chase De Jong (pronounced “dee YUNG”) is the highest-rated pitching prospect on this Lansing team, per Baseball America, which tabs the 20-year-old as the No. 11 prospect in the Blue Jays’ farm system.
Unfortunately, this has become nothing new for the TinCaps, but the team was less-than well-rested for last night’s game. Fort Wayne played at 8:05 p.m. ET in Bowling Green on Monday and bused back to Indiana through the night. So the club didn’t arrive at Parkview Field until approximately 5:30 a.m.
Falling asleep on a bus can be challenging. And even if you do succeed in getting some ZZZs on the bus, it hardly compares to the quality of sleep in your own bed.
A recent New York Magazine story had five people “detail how they slept—or didn’t—during a single night. Then Alcibiades J. Rodriguez, M.D., medical director of the New York Sleep Institute, guides them toward better rest.”
We may need Dr. Rodriguez to visit Fort Wayne soon.
One of the more interesting things about this Lansing team is that they have multiple players with big league pedigrees. RHP Frank Viola III is the son of Frank Viola, Jr., a three-time All-Star and the 1988 AL Cy Yong Award winner and ’87 World Series MVP for the Twins. Meanwhile, Dickie Joe Thon is the son of Dickie Thon — an All-Star in ’83 with the Astros.
According to this New York Times article from last week, “Baseball Almanac has recorded 205 other instances of fathers and sons playing in the majors in a list that is probably incomplete… Having two sons play in the majors is an accomplishment only 15 former players can claim.”
Will be interesting to see if any of these Lugnuts will add to that list of 205.
Pitbull feat. Jennifer Lopez & Claudia Leitte, take it away…
Tonight’s game can be seen on XFINITY Channel 81 and also heard on ESPN Radio 1380, TheFanIndiana.com, and on the TuneIn Radio app. Audio coverage commences at 6:45. And remember you can always stay in touch in the comments below or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan. Thanks for stopping by.
For the first time in eight days, the TinCaps will play a baseball game at Parkview Field tonight. Fort Wayne finished a six-game road trip last night at Bowling Green. You can see a recap of that below courtesy of the Hot Rods (and simultaneously enjoy Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX).
The Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays) are in town now for the first of a three-game series. Perhaps you recall the last time the Lugs came to the Summit City?
That little brew-ha-ha happened on Star Wars Night (“Hentz” the Photoshop). Here’s the lineup of #BIGFUN this homestand.
By the way, there was quite a bit of #BIGFUN at Parkview Field while the TinCaps were away. For the first time, Fort Wayne hosted the Indiana GOP State Convention. Previously, it’s always taken place in the capital city, Indianapolis. While the nuts and bolts of the convention took place across the street at the Grand Wayne Convention Center, Parkview Field hosted a big party on Friday night.
WANE TV’s Alyssa Ivanson had a good story on how Parkview Field — which would never have been built in the first place if public opinion ruled — played a big role in drawing the event to Indiana’s second largest city.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Federated Media’s first Rock N’ Brew beer tasting took place. Those are just two of hundreds of non-baseball events at the home of the TinCaps this year.
But going back to baseball now…
From today’s Game Notes, here are the headlines:
Quince For Número Veinticinco: First baseman Jake Bauers enters tonight’s contest on a 15-game hitting streak, which is the longest by a TinCaps player this season, and the longest active streak in the MWL. On this current tear, which dates to May 24, Bauers is hitting .444 (24-54) with 4 home runs and 12 runs batted in. He has reached base in 24 straight games, dating back to May 14th… The longest-ever regular-season hitting streak by a TinCaps player is 18, accomplished by 2011 Midwest League MVP Rymer Liriano and
2009 MWL champion Blake Tekotte.
Speaking of Hitting Streaks: Ronnie Richardson enter this series on season-best 6-game hitting streak. The run began on May 13, although Richardson injured his quad in that game against Lake County and was promptly placed on the disabled list. Since returning from the DL on June 1, he’s hit safely in all 5 games in which he has played.
Player of the Week: On Monday, the MWL named Jake Bauers its Player of the Week for June 2-8. At 18, Bauers is the youngest player in the 16-team league, but his prowess at the plate tells a different story. In 6 games last week, the Huntington Beach, Calif., native hit .455 / .520 / .727 with 2 home runs and 5 runs batted in. During the torrid stretch, he even scored 6 runs and stole 3 bases.
More Accolades: The San Diego Padres announced Tuesday morning that Jake Bauers is the organization’s Minor League Hitter of the Month for May, while Mallex Smith earned the distinction of Base Runner of the Month. Former TinCap Adys Portillo ’10-13 (Double-A San Antonio) claimed Pitcher of the Month honors and Diego Goris ‘13 won Defensive Player of the Month.
On Tonight’s Starting Pitchers: Erik Cabrera makes his 6th start of the season for the TinCaps. The 23-year-old right-hander from the Dominican had something of a turning point to his campaign the last time he faced Lansing. On May 23, Cabrera, who began the year in Fort Wayne’s bullpen, allowed 5 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings (at that moment raising his season ERA as a starter in to 8.71). The wheels seemed to be coming off when Cabrera allowed a 3-run homer to L.B. Dantzler, then hit Justin Atkinson in the head (knocking him out of the game), and committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt of the pinch-runner Mitch Nay. But fortunately for Cabrera, TinCaps right fielder Luis Tejada threw Nay out trying to advance to third base on that play. After that, Cabrera retired the next 10 batters he faced. His 6-inning performance that night was a career long. He followed that with another 6-inning start on May 29 at Bowling Green where he didn’t give up an earned run. Last time out on Thursday at Lake County, Cabrera kept the Captains off the board in the first 2 frames, but yielded 3 runs in the 3rd, 1 in the 4th, and another in the 5th. Two of those were unearned as Fort Wayne committed 2 errors behind him. He left after 5 innings and took a loss as the TinCaps fell, 6-4.
As for Lansing starter Jeremy Gabryszwski (pronounced ga-bo-RISS-kee), all we have on him is that in Scrabble, his name would be worth 33 points. That’s brought to you by Ryan’s Scrabble Score Generator v1.1.
Mase, take it away…
Tonight’s game can be seen on XFINITY Channel 81, beginning at 6:30 with The Leadoff Spot, and also heard on ESPN Radio 1380, TheFanIndiana.com, and on the TuneIn Radio app. Audio coverage commences at 6:45. And remember you can always stay in touch in the comments below or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.
On a comfortable Sunday afternoon at Bowling Green Ballpark, the TinCaps lost, 7-1. You can read about it by clicking here.
Today is the final road game of the first half for the TinCaps. Hard to believe, isn’t it? After this, it’s six more games at Parkview Field and then the All-Star break.
What’s not hard to believe is that Jake Bauers was named the Midwest League Player of the Week. Congrats, Jake. He becomes the first TinCaps player to win the award this season.
Here are today’s headlines:
A TinCaps Win Would:Result in a series victory…Pull them even with Bowling Green in the standings…Make it four wins in six tries at Bowling Green Ballpark in the first half…Give the TinCaps a chance to finish the first half at .500…
Two Touchdowns For Number 25: First baseman Jake Bauers enters tonight’s contest on a 14-game hitting streak, which is the longest by a TinCaps player this season, and the longest active streak in the MWL. On this current tear, which dates to May 24, Bauers is hitting .442 (23-52) with four home runs and 12 runs batted in. A hit this afternoon would pull Bauers within two of last year’s longest TinCaps streak, a 15-game span by third baseman Gabriel Quintana. The longest-ever regular-season hitting streak by a TinCaps player is 18, done by 2011 Midwest League MVP Rymer Liriano and 2009 MWL champion Blake Tekotte.Bauers has also reached base in 23 straight games, dating back to May 14th.
Player of the Week: Bauers has been named the Midwest League’s Player of the Week for June 2-8, the league announced today. At 18, Bauers is the youngest player in the 16-team league, but his prowess at the plate tells a different story. In six games last week, the Huntington Beach, Calif., native hit .455 / .520 / .727 with two home runs and five runs batted in. During the torrid stretch, he even scored six runs and stole three bases.
Road Turnaround: A win today would give the TinCaps their 11th road win of the season, and their sixth in the last nine away from Parkview Field. Prior to May 28th, the TinCaps had won just five road contests in 55 calendar days since the season began.
The Final Stretch: Today begins the final week of the Midwest League’s first half. It’s a four-team race for a playoff spot, with South Bend and West Michigan currently in the top two spot, and Dayton and Great Lakes on the periphery. Fort Wayne, Bowling Green, Lansing and
Weickel, 20, makes his team-leading 12th start of the season, and his first against Bowling Green. Despite a slow start to the season, the Orlando, Florida, native has taken off in his last two outings, each of which have been six-innings. His last start, which came a week ago today, he limited West Michigan to one run on four hits in a game the TinCaps won in the bottom of the ninth inning. Through 11 starts last year with Fort Wayne, Weickel was 2-3 with a 5.04 ERA.
Schultz, 22, makes his fifth start with the Hot Rods this season, and his second against the TinCaps. The Castelton, New York, native, went 4 2/3 innings on May 28 against Fort Wayne, striking out eight, walking two, and allowing two earned runs. Schultz was selected by Tampa Bay in the 14th round of the 2013 draft out of High Point (NC) University. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011. In his final year at HPU, he had a 3.05 ERA (14G/6GS) and struck out 59 batters in 60.2 innings.
Tonight’s broadcast begins at 7:45 ET on ESPN Radio 1380 and TheFanIndiana.com.
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
Listen to my Sunday conversation with TinCaps Manager Michael Collins, as we discuss Bauers, the team’s resiliency as of late, his favorite park to visit (other than Parkview Field, of course), what it’s been like as a first-year manager in a full-season league, and what sporting event grips Australia the way the Triple Crown does here:
A LOOK INSIDE
I feel compelled to share a story I read today because of its author’s vulnerability in what he wrote. The word vulnerable likely has a negative perception when it pops into your head, but it shouldn’t necessarily be that way. From Dictionary.com, here’s the definition:
But it also means a lot more. Being vulnerable can open you to closer relationships with people, a better understanding of oneself, and a much fuller life.
What I’m getting at is that Cubs television play-by-play broadcaster Len Kasper wrote a wonderful story about his anxiety regarding his profession and his life. And it’s so honest that you can’t help but empathize with Len:
“It’s probably not uncommon for “performers” to deal with this stuff. The spotlight can be bright and the thought of messing up can be paralyzing.
I have always pushed myself to overachieve and while I have done OK in some areas, I have struggled in others. Family and friends have taken a back seat at different junctures as I have focused on being the best broadcaster I can be.
But a funny thing happened after my brain chemistry started getting corrected and I was able to prioritize things — I improved at a lot of things simply by not worrying all the time.”
I can certainly identify with those things. Having moved away from home right after college ended (a semester earlier than the rest of my class) and living in places I’d never been before: Dayton, Ohio, Burlington, Vermont, and now Fort Wayne, Indiana, which I certainly could not have pointed out on a map before moving here.
“But the irony is that my chosen field is subject to a million things completely out of my control. I talk to colleagues all the time about balance and trying not to let the job define us as human beings. We are incredibly fortunate to talk about baseball for a living, but what happens if it’s all snatched away for reasons beyond our grasp?
Eckhart Tolle wrote in The Power Of Now, “Realize deep that the present moment is all you have.” It’s great advice for a broadcaster calling a live event on television. But when you deal with anxiety like I used to experience, the seven or eight things in your head that cloud and distract you make it more difficult to achieve. Yes, you can do the job well, but the emotional and mental toll can be overwhelming.
The ending to this story hasn’t been written, and likely won’t be for a long time to come. I still have those days like everybody else. My self-awareness and anal-retentive tendencies still cause stress. But medication and an openness to talk about my insecurities have helped me tremendously.
I am a better person and I think a better broadcaster as a result.”
I think we can all relate. We’ve all had anxiety, but not all jobs come with such a public spotlight on them as sports broadcasting do. Those on the higher levels of the profession are subject to constant public critique, which is even easier now when anyone with a Twitter account can sent a message right to the broadcaster they’re watching in real time.
Where Len really hit me with this story was with his openness and honesty about it. He acknowledged those concerns he had and shared them, opening himself to perhaps worse feelings than he had before but instead found, at least from what I’ve read on Twitter and in the comments section of that article, people who also have felt the same way and were thanking him for writing about how he feels. It’s amazing what can happen when we overcome that barrier of fear that always seems much larger than it really is. It’s also a good sign that whenever we feel like the only one’s in a certain bad situation, we are surely not alone.
I got great advice a while back from someone who told me that the best thing I can be on the air–with my personality, my voice, the way I call a game–is myself. And I think that’s made me much more comfortable as a broadcaster. Whether it’s making bad puns, sharing cheesy jokes, or just telling fun stories, I’ve realized I can’t be afraid to be who I am…because there’s no changing it.
So to those of you who listen and watch, thanks for putting up with me!
Bruce Springsteen…take it away!