The TinCaps lost both games of a doubleheader Wednesday night at West Michigan, dropping the opener, 5-2, and picking up just four hits in a 2-0 loss in game two. Bryan Rodriguez takes the hill tonight after being reinstated from the disabled list earlier in the day. In a corresponding move, reliever Josh RIchardson was placed on the disabled list.
With just five regular-season games remaining, the TinCaps take the field tonight at 7:10 take square off against West Michigan. The Whitecaps are vying for a playoff spot, so they’ve got to keep winning to try and catch Great Lakes for a wild-card spot.
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
Before game one of the doubleheader I chatted with Mallex Smith and found out he’s a big fan of cartoons. However, he thinks that “Spongebob” is an “old” cartoon. That show first aired in 1999. When I think of old cartoons, I think of shows like “Rocky and Bullwinkle” or “George of the Jungle”, the latter airing in 1967.
Here’s my chat with Mallex, in which we also discuss his physical and mental state at this point in the season, among other things:
Between games one and two yesterday, I caught up with hitting coach Morgan Burkhart. He weighed in on the progress of Gabriel Quintana, Reynaldo Bruguera, Alberth Martinez, and Hunter Renfroe. I also asked him how he keeps his teaching approach fresh after 135 games:
AN ANGRY BALLPLAYER
Very interesting situation yesterday in Cincinnati.
Brandon Phillips, the All-Star second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds took issue with Cincinnati Enquirer beat reporter C. Trent Rosecrans’ question to him about his slip in on-base percentage this season. Phillips yelled several expletives directed toward Rosecrans, as outlined in this recap from hardballtalk.nbcsports.com (non-family friendly language included).
One commenter (dangerous territory, I know) made a good point regarding Rosecrans’ question:
Of course there is a little fluctuation year to year in the average, but the league average on base percentage is usually around .330 to .335 percent.
Brandon Phillips career on base percentage is only .321% and so far this season he’s only getting on base at a .311% clip.
He is well below the league average in this respect. This isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact based on numbers and it’s a fact whether one is a fan of Brandon Phillips or not.
The Reds as a team have a .325% on base percentage which isn’t good for a team average and it’s even worse when they have the top two on base percentage leaders in the National league right now in Votto and Choo.
Some players don’t particularly appreciate what they perceive to be a jab at their numbers, in this case Phillips is a prime example. This certainly isn’t the first time this has happened, as it played itself out between now-ESPN broadcaster Jon Sciambi (then with the Atlanta Braves) and Chipper Jones:
“[Sciambi] said the second-highest percent of first-pitch balls thrown to a hitter was me and that I was right behind Albert Pujols,” Jones said. “And you know I’m a notorious first-pitch fastball hitter and I really couldn’t believe that was true. So I took the first pitch I saw that night and it happened to be a fastball down the middle.
“So I looked back up [at Sciambi in the press box] and I just started cussing him so hard. Meanwhile, he’s just laughing his tail off.”
Not that Jones was entirely unappreciative of Sciambi engaging him in a hitting discussion.
“He was just talking about me being overly aggressive, but yet I still drew 100 walks last year. They get mad at me because I don’t take enough pitches. But if I’m drawing 100 walks and hitting .300 … “
That discussion was a bit more lighthearted.
This brings me back to last night’s broadcast, in which I started to talk a little about advanced stats, and why the win assigned to the pitcher probably has a little too much value, an idea that has been pushed heavily by MLB Network broadcaster Brian Kenny. I still am in the nascent stages of starting to grasp advanced baseball stats and how they can be applied to a broadcast in a way that people understand. Sciambi went on Jonah Keri’s podcast recently to talk about how he introduces on-base percentage in a broadcast. Essentially, he gives what OBP means, and then gives the player’s number vs. the league average. If it’s higher, you know the player is good at getting on base. If it’s lower, well, you know what the deal is, too. Why is OBP better than batting average? FanGraphs explains:
OBP is considered more accurate than Batting Average in measuring a player’s offensive value, since it takes into account hits and walks. A player could bat over .300, but if they don’t walk at all, they’re not helping their team as much as a .270 hitter with a .380 OBP.
I’d like to introduce more advanced numbers on the air, but Sciambi, in his Baseball Prosepctus piece, explains why that’s a challenge:
Let’s not forget “it’s the search for objective knowledge about baseball.” The goal is not unveiling newfangled stats; it’s about getting people to understand basic ideas and concepts. To achieve that, we can’t just slap stats up on the screen and explain them. Understanding has to come in the form of analysis. We have to use the stat and explain it. Sometimes it needs to be the PBP guy playing analyst and getting the color guy to react:
If Ryan Howard is up, I can talk about RBI and why dependent stats don’t evaluate individual performance well; RBI aren’t what reflects Howard’s greatness, his SLG does. I can mention that Howard’s massive RBI totals may be due to the fact that no player has hit with more total men on base than Howard since 1492 (I believe this is a fact but didn’t feel like looking it up). Point is, there are dead people who could knock in 80 runs hitting fourth in that Phillies lineup. (OK, I probably wouldn’t say that on-air.)
The metrics are getting so advanced that we’re in danger of getting further away from the masses instead of closer. We, as broadcasters, have to find better and entertaining ways of explaining the math in bite-sized terms. Simplified, we need to explain that one of the problems with batting average, as opposed to slugging percentage, is that batting average values a single and a home run equally. We can’t assume that’s understood just because we understand it. And the only way it gets embedded is to keep beating the audience with it so that it becomes ingrained the way ERA eventually did, even though that once passed for advanced math. That, and we should all wear blue blazers with an emblem that reads, “OBPis life.”
I also believe, as it relates to the masses, the PBP guys can’t move the analysis needle much. The masses will always find former players more credible, period, and the BP base needs to be more open to that-if the goal is indeed to inform the masses and not be “right.”
And just look at the battle Kenny went through against Billy Ripken with the infamous 2012 AL MVP debate between MIke Trout and Miguel Cabrera (via Grantland):
Since Kenny joined MLB Network, in 2011, his anger has flashed in the service of advanced stats. Since the publication of Moneyball, sabermetrics has colonized large tracts of the print media. Even an idiot can write OPS into his copy instead of batting average. But TV guys — particularly color analysts — have held out. There are a few reasons for this. Former athletes aren’t interested in advanced stats; they don’t want their careers reevaluated with new metrics; they don’t like the idea of the strongbox of baseball wisdom passing from their hands into Dave Cameron’s.
Kenny is a post-Moneyball announcer. He thinks Rock Raines should be a Hall of Famer and that Mike Trout was the rightful 2012 American League MVP. “Bill James,” he has said, “was the first person I saw who opened my eyes to logical thinking.” Kenny welcomed statheads like Rob Neyer and Joe Sheehan onto his show, Clubhouse Confidential, and gave the opening address at the 2013 SABR Analytics Conference.
MLB Network deputized Kenny to pin down ex-jocks on stats the way he’d once pinned down Mayweather on Pacquiao. Last November, the network put Kenny and Keith Olbermann against Billy Ripken. Kenny and Olbermann supported Trout for AL MVP. Ripken admitted Trout was the best player in the league but thought the MVP should go to Miguel Cabrera because of, among other factors, his clubhouse “presence.” “His presence in the locker room allows somebody …” Ripken must have seen Kenny raise his eyebrows, because he stopped short. “Oh, yeah,” Ripken said. “Presence.”
“Presence!” Kenny moaned. It’s telling that Olbermann was the calm one.
So, it’s an on-going effort to try and make those numbers and ideas mainstream. Where it’s more difficult for Minor League Baseball is that sites like FanGraphs don’t provide those numbers for MiLB and the rate of turnover in addition to the lack of experience in playing time can be a hindering factor in trying to mathematically or statistically analyze a player. How can I tell you much about anyone in Fort Wayne’s starting rotation when a majority of those pitchers haven’t played one full professional season? It wouldn’t be a fair analysis. But in the meantime, trying to understand the numbers that are applicable at this level is a worthy cause.
And now, to play us out, here’s John Mayer with a cut off his new album.
It’s hard to believe that there are on six days remaining in the regular season, but here we are in Comstock Park, Michigan. Or Walker, Michigan, if you want to be technical about where the team hotel is. Or Grand Rapids, Michigan, if you want to be one of those people who, when asked where they’re from, just says the name of the biggest city nearest to where they are actually from.
Anyway, it was at West Michigan where the TinCaps played their second series of the season, and it’s here where tonight they’ll start their second-to-last series of 2013. The TinCaps, as you know (I hope by now) are headed to the playoffs. The Whitecaps are 4.5 games back of a wild-card spot in the second half. With seven games to play (a doubleheader today) their hopes of making the postseason are slim. Last year West Michigan was elimintated by Fort Wayne right at the very end of August. This year could spell the same fate for Detroit’s Midwest League farmhands.
Tonight’s twinbill makes up for the rainout these two teams endured on July 26th at Fifth Third Ballpark. That night the TinCaps and Whitecaps waited for nearly three hours before a decision was finally made to call off the game. After that, the rest of the season trickles down to two more games here, and three at home against Great Lakes before the regular season is over. The Loons, meanwhile, are 1.5 games back of Bowling Green for the second-half championship crown, and currently hold the wild card spot. That last series of the year will prove particularly interesting for Great Lakes, as they may have a chance to beat the TinCaps, and if the Hot Rods lose, snag first place in the process.
Fort Wayne made a roster move today, as it swapped one catcher for another with the Eugene Emeralds, the Padres’ short-season affiliate in Oregon. Joining the club and replacing Miguel Del Castillo is backstop Ryan Miller, selected by the Padres in the 14th round of this year’s draft. He attended San Bernadino (CA) Valley College, and was slated to go play at Nebraska this coming year had he not been drafted. With Eugene, he hit .245 in 43 games.
I’ll have the call of both games tonight on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com, with coverage starting an hour earlier than normal due to tonight’s doubleheader. I hope you’ll join me.
With the recent injury to the Mets’ Matt Harvey, who’s got a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament (that’s the one that forces Tommy John surgery, The Wall Street Journal, took a look at the most durable pitchers in Major League Baseball.
Here’s what they found:
“The names Mark Buehrle and Bronson Arroyo may not evoke Cy Young, but they epitomize the “take the ball every fifth day” cliché. Buehrle has gone 396 starts without a DL stint, easily the most among active pitchers; Arroyo is second at 323. Cain, Justin Verlander and James Shields also have been top-notch starters and workhorses.
Conversely, who are the least durable starters? Josh Beckett, who is out for the season following surgery for a nerve impingement—the 15th DL stint of his career—tops the list. Not far behind, with 12 appearances, are Chris Carpenter and A.J. Burnett, who is now healthy after spending a month on the DL with a calf injury earlier in the season.
A common criticism of pitchers these days is that they’re babied to the point that they can’t match the workloads carried by starters of old. That is true in terms of 300-inning seasons with double-digit complete games, which simply don’t happen anymore. But there are still starters who reliably show up every fifth day.”
The interesting thing about pitchers having Tommy John surgery, from conversations that I’ve had with athletic trainers, is that the UCL can go at any time, regardless of pitch counts or innings limits. The act of throwing a baseball and doing it with as much force as pitchers do is so unnatural that it could tear the ligament every single pitch.
Here’s a story I put together in 2011 on Tommy John surgery, talking to Tommy John himself, former Major League pitcher Tony Fossas, and Dayton Dragons medical liaison Aaron Faucett:
BASEBALL OR NASCAR?
Elliot Johnson of the Atlanta Braves decided to have some fun with the team’s in-game reporter, Tom Hart, in a recent postgame interview, turning a question about baseball into an answer about NASCAR. How? By blatantly ignoring the question and going for the comedy points. By virtue of complete absurdity, he’s achieved his goal:
Ellie Goulding…take it away!
After the TinCaps totaled one run in the first two games of their series at Bowling Green, Fort Wayne had something of a coming out party Monday morning/afternoon. At least three TinCaps did.
Second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum equaled his RBI production from the first 25 days of August with a three-hit, four-RBI game. (Note: He did spend 11 days on the disabled list this month.) Gabriel Quintana and Hunter Renfroe each had two hits, with ‘Q’ blasting a two-run homer and ‘Fro’ ripping an RBI double.
So Jose Valentin’s team left the Commonwealth of Kentucky with a win to salvage the sevenish-hour ride there and making the sevenish-hour ride back more pleasant.
Monday’s game started at 10:35 a.m. locally in Bowling Green, making it the TinCaps’ earliest game of the season. (The early start was a favor for Fort Wayne’s travel and also a day for school field trips, which made it bigger than a Monday night crowd at Bowling Green Ballpark.)
Matthew Shepherd shares with us how such an early game affects the team’s preparation. He also opens up about his transitions this season from the bullpen to the starting rotation and most recently, back to the bullpen.
And no matter when you wake up, Jacquelyn Smith of Forbes suggests you do these 16 things at the start of every work day.
Personally, I’ve never considered myself a “morning person.” I’d say I’m more wired to be up late, and it’s often a struggle for me to get up at the buzz of the first alarm. Last week was an exception, though. On the road at Great Lakes, Loons broadcasters Brad Golder and Jared Sandler are early risers who a few days a week start their day playing basketball and working out at the Midland Community Center. They invited Mike and me to join their pickup games Monday and Tuesday. The chance to play ball is one of the few things that can motivate me to get up before 6:00. Not only was it nice to start those days with exercise, but it was refreshing to then have a “head start” on the day.
Two sidenotes to that:
(1) If you’ve ever played pickup basketball, I dare you to watch the video below and not laugh.
(2) Saturday night I left my phone on the bus after the game, which meant I needed to use the hotel room’s alarm clock to make sure I was up on time for Sunday morning’s bus. Maybe this is a millennial thing, but it’s been years since I actually used an alarm clock. Pretty much ever since I got a cell phone, I’ve used that as my alarm. It sounds silly, but it felt quite unnatural to go to bed without my phone by my side.
HITTING THE LINKS
* Good to read in the New York Times that the Negro League Museum is thriving again after it nearly was shut down.
* Fort Wayne’s own, Eric Wedge — manager of the Seattle Mariners — is back in the dugout after a health scare. The 45-year-old Wedge suffered a stroke in July and tells ESPN how he’s had to make sure to take better care of himself and be less consumed by managing. Wedge’s story is one that applies to all — whether you’re job is being an MLB manager or a manager at Small Business X. If those articles above about getting up early have you inspired, just make sure you’re going to bed earlier, too, because our bodies can only handle so much.
* Yesterday we talked about how Mallex Smith had the misfortune of breaking his brand new Louisville Slugger bat. Turns out, broken bats had become something of an epidemic in Major League Baseball recently. NPR’s All Things Considered reported earlier this month on how baseball has alleviated its broken bat problem.
* With college football season starting in just a few days, Louisville is ranked in the Top 10. The Cardinals are coming off an athletic season that saw the men’s basketball team win the national championship, the women’s hoops squad finish national runners up, the baseball team reach the College World Series, and the football team go 11-2 and beat Florida for the Sugar Bowl. (Necessary Note: 1 of those 2 losses came in the Carrier Dome to Syracuse, which thumped the ‘ville 45-26). Those accolades are just off the top of my head. I know Louisville’s soccer team recently made the Final Four as well, and softball has had a winning program. You get the picture. Their athletics program is at an all-time high. The New York Times examines how the university’s willingness to play weekday games on ESPN and subsequent relationship with the WWL is largely to credit for its rise.
John Legend, covering Bruce Springsteen, take it away!
You wouldn’t know it from going to just one Minor League Baseball game, or even a handful of games, but there are more than just nine men on the baseball field trying to make it. Perhaps you’ve missed this pair, the two on the diamond not wearing uniforms with names on the front or the back. One is masked and the other usually has a hat slung low over his eyes and sunglasses on. While the players show up to the park around 1:30 or 2:00 p.m., these two show up hours later, but are vitally important . Their focus is on one thing: the game. Their goal is to get the call right every time. They are the umpires of the Midwest League.
If there’s one image to sum up the first two games of the TinCaps’ series in Bowling Green, this would be it: a broken bat.
After the TinCaps had the unique experience of touring the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory on Saturday, they proceeded to score one run combined Saturday night (7-0 loss) and Sunday afternoon (2-1 loss). Apropos to Fort Wayne’s struggles at the plate, Mallex Smith broke his brand new Louisville Slugger bat when weakly grounding out to second base for the final out in Saturday night’s loss. In what would prove to be tragically ironic, on the bus before the game, Mallex joked that it better not break in his first game with it. Eventually it might, but he couldn’t have thought it would actually happen that night. But that’s the series in a nutshell so far for Fort Wayne, which has gone 0-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 runners on base.
TINCAPS TALK SLUGGER EXPERIENCE
During the TinCaps’ aforementioned visit of Louisville Slugger on Saturday, a videographer followed the team to shoot footage that will air during a Padres TV broadcast on FOX Sports San Diego. At the end of the tour, I asked Mallex Smith, Hunter Renfroe, Walker Weickel, and José Valentín what they thought about the experience.
A couple of good lines in there from Mallex, who likened a baseball player at the Louisville Slugger factory to a kid in a candy factory, and Walker, who joked that it’s tough to say if it’s more fun touring Louisville Slugger or as a pitcher getting to break those bats. Also, found it interesting how hitters like Mallex, Hunter, and even José are so precise in talking about the characteristics they seek in their bats. Perhaps a fan may think a ballplayer goes to the factory and just says, “I want the black one.” Na’ah. It’s much more of a science than that.
FAILING ON THE JOB
Here’s an interview that begins with the question, “How do you motivate your team?” But no, it has nothing to do with the TinCaps, or sports at all for that matter. It’s a Q & A from Harvard Business Review Magazine with Lorne Michaels, creator and producer of Saturday Night Live. Michaels sheds light on what he looks for in talent and the relationships he has with those he hires. He also talks creativity and performing.
“I think Malcolm Gladwell’s point about the 10,000 hours of practice is valid. For almost everybody, SNL is their first job. They pretty much live in the office, because it’s usually nicer than their apartments. It’s in no way natural to be performing at 11:30 on a Saturday night in a skyscraper in Rockefeller Center, so to get comfortable, to get loose, to feel that it makes perfect sense, takes just doing it. Sometimes you blow a line, or that thing you’re completely confident about falls apart. There’s no blaming the marketing campaign. You just weren’t good. They didn’t laugh. It was a big moment and you weren’t there for it. And it’s really hard to deal with, but you go through it, and you learn, and you do it again next week. That’s the resilience of the show and these people. You love it and you endure it and you slowly but surely get better.”
Last night I also re-stumbled upon (but not by using StumbleUpon.com) a short video narrated by Ira Glass, story-teller extraordinaire from This American Life on public radio.
Similar to Michaels, Glass makes the point that those in creative fields take some time to reach their potential. And until they do, there’s a feeling of frustration for not being better. Glass says this is normal. For him, the key is to continue putting in the work and fighting through the failure until eventually, you have a breakthrough. On a personal level, I can relate to this as I attempt to develop as a play-by-play broadcaster.
And even though Michaels and Glass come from creative fields, while baseball in its essence is more physical than it is creative (not that it doesn’t have a mental component, too), their words are good to keep in mind when we see players struggle at the minor league level. The current crop of TinCaps may not have their breakthrough moment come in Fort Wayne, or it may unfortunately never come at all, but right now, it’s just too soon to pass judgment. (That goes for broadcasters, too.)
It’s the 38th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run album. It’s Boss Time…
Christmas is four months away from tomorrow. (Sorry, not that I’m looking fastforward to cold weather.) But right now for the TinCaps, it’s beginning to look a lot like the first half.
With a hard-nosed win over South Bend in front of 7,777 fans at Parkview Field Friday night, Fort Wayne swept its in-state rival at home for the first time since 2009. The Silver Hawks may have still won the season series 14-5, but it’s the TInCaps who made the final impression heading into the playoffs. Jose Valentin’s team has now won six of its last seven with only 10 to go in the regular season.
After the game, Mallex Smith told me the team has regained its confidence.
RACE FOR THE RECORD
Speaking of Mallex, if you watched the interview then you also heard his take on the fact that he is only four stolen bases away from tying Fort Wayne’s franchise record of 65 (and, thus, six off setting the record).
Should be fun to see Smith on the bases against Bowling Green. Last time the TinCaps played the Hot Rods, Smith was 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts. Not to mention, the Midwest League’s second-most prolific base stealer, Andrew Toles, will be on the other side. Both are leading off and batting first tonight.
LOUISVILLE SLUGGER MUSEUM & FACTORY VISIT A HIT
We’ll have more on this in tonight’s pregame and an upcoming post here, but the TinCaps broke up their seven-hour bus road to Bowling Green today with a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Apropos to the venue, it was a hit. Some guys picked up some new lumber on the visit. Let’s see if they have some hits in them tonight.
In line with today’s headline, T.I., M.I.A., Jay, Yeezy, and Weezy, take it away…
In half the time as it took to beat South Bend on Wednesday night in 16 innings, Fort Wayne proved victorious against South Bend, 5-2, in 2 hours, 30 minutes Thursday. Starter Joe Ross was great, and he finally got some offensive support, too.
So tonight, the TinCaps go for this:
Believe it or not, the TinCaps haven’t swept the Silver Hawks at Parkview Field since 2009. And here’s a fun fact for ya: 3 of the 4 winning pitchers in that four-game sweep for Fort Wayne have gone on to pitch in the Majors. They are: Simon Castro, Erik Davis, and Anthony Bass.
One could make the case now that with wins in five of their last six games, the TinCaps have as much momentum now as they’ve had since winning 15 of 16 during May and June. But Grantland’s Bill Barnwell is not one who would. Barnwell uses statistical evidence to support his theory that there is no such thing as momentum in sports. He cites examples to disprove the notion that a team can gain momentum during a game, or over a stretch of time (i.e. end of the regular season, heading into the playoffs).
Just a week ago, the TinCaps would’ve been right on with the idea that there’s no such thing as Uncle Mo. But, after winning a few ballgames now, don’t tell that to the Fort Wayne clubhouse.
HITTING THE LINKS
* Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe gives some perspective on Ichiro’s 4,000 career hits. There’s a line in here from Ichiro (on whether he’ll keep playing until he reaches 3,000 MLB hits) that I think is useful for all to consider in life: “What happens today determines what happens tomorrow, meaning I’ve got to perform today in order to be in the lineup the next day. I don’t make goals that are so far away. What I do is do what I can every single day and build off that and see where that takes me.”
* Hip-hip-hooray! Vin Scully says he’s returning in 2014 for his 65th year behind the mic for the Dodgers.
* According to the Wall Street Journal, former Fort Wayne Wizard & TinCap, Mat Latos, throws the most difficult pitch in the majors to hit a home run off.
* Phil Roth provides an extensive and interactive look at payroll numbers for each major league team from 1998 on. Very cool.
* And from the Just-For-The-Heck-Of-It-Department: Here’s a Grantland story about a town in Nebraska that has one singular resident.
As we’ve talked about here before, tonight’s theme at Parkview Field is “It’s All About You!” So 2pac, take it away…
It’s August 2013 — not December, 1963 — but just like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons once sang, “Oh What A Night.” In the longest game of the season from both an innings and time elapsed perspective, the TinCaps beat South Bend, 7-6, in 16 innings
Wednesday night Thursday morning. Some 5 hours, 2 minutes after first pitch, the game ended at 12:08 a.m. on a walk-off single by Reynaldo Bruguera.
Even after all that managing, Jose Valentin was still his talkative self afterward. Listen below:
Here’s Mike Couzens’ and Kent Horman’s recap of all the fun, as well:
Even though there are obviously lots of baseball games to draw comparison with, this harken backed memories of my alma mater’s classic basketball game in the 2009 Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden against UConn.
Of course the stakes were a little different with less night just being a regular season game — and it didn’t quite beat the club record for longest game in franchise history (18 innings / 5 hours, 13 minutes – Arpil 7, 1995 vs. Michigan) – but if The Orchard Team Store were to make up a shirt, her are some numbers it could include on the back…
Position Players Who Pitched: 1
Lead Changes: 4
Fort Wayne Players Used: 16
South Bend Players Used: 19
Fort Wayne Strikeouts: 20
Runners Left on Base: 26
With starter Bryan Rodriguez striking out a season-high seven in five innings, Ruben Mejia fanning five in three frames, Roman Madrid K-ing two in the ninth inning, Jorge Guzman getting three to go down swinging in three innings, Trevor Gott retiring two on strikes in two innings, and Matt Chabot striking out one, TinCaps pitching had 20 K’s on Wednesday to set a
franchise record. The previous Fort Wayne single-game strikeout record of 19 was set August 11, 2000 against West Michigan. The 2013 high prior to Wednesday also came against South Bend, back on June 20. Adys Portillo (5) and Walker Weickel (9) combined for 14 strikeouts.
It’s Tribute to Island Parties tonight at Parkview Field, so Jimmy Buffett, take it away!
The four-day road trip to Midland, Michigan, was a successful one for the TinCaps, who took three out of four games from the Great Lakes Loons, earning just their fourth series victory here in the second half, one where the TinCaps have resided in the basement of the Midwest League for a significant period of time. Tonight Fort Wayne returns home to Parkview Field for a three-game series against the South Bend Silver Hawks, who have been their arch nemesis this season. The TinCaps are a dismal 2-14 against the Silver Hawks this year…but both of the Fort Wayne wins have come at Parkview Field.
Some notes before we get things rolling today:
-Mallex Smith stole three bases last night, giving him the Midwest League lead in that category. Andrew Toles of Bowling Green has 56. Smith, with 13 games to play, is only eight stolen bases away from tying the franchise record for a single season. It was most recently accomplished by Rymer Liriano in 2011, when he stole 65 bags.
-Both Diego Goris and Alberth Martinez homered last night. Martinez now leads the team with 10 home runs, and is only one shy of matching the team high for last season, when Lee Orr had 11.
-The hottest bats of all right now are Reynaldo Bruguera and Gabriel Quintana. Bruguera, the infielder, is hitting .387 (12-31) over his last nine games, while Quintana is at .341 (15-44) with seven RBI in his last 10 games. Bruguera’s hot play means Jose Valentin has to keep him in the lineup, forcing a shuffle between Tyler Stubblefield and Maxx Tissenbaum for the middle infield spots.
Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:05, and I’ll have the TV call on XFINITY 81 with Kent Hormann. You can hear the radio broadcast with Mike Maahs and John Nolan on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.
For all Friday games the rest of the season, you can hear those games on News/Talk 1190 WOWO and 92.3 FM. If you’re listening out of town, head to WOWO.com and click the “Listen Live” link in the upper left-hand corner. The reason for the switch is that our flagship station, The Fan 1380, airs high school football games on Friday nights.
Also, I will be out of town for the next several days, so John Nolan will have the reins to the blog. He’ll also be traveling with the team and calling the games on radio when they head on down to Bowling Green for that upcoming three-game weekend series.
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, John Nolan chats with Hunter Renfroe about the status of his injured right hand, and also gets to know the outfielder from Crystal Springs, Mississippi:
If you’re even a fringe baseball fan, you’ve had no choice but to hear about Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees this season. Heck, even if you’re not a baseball fan you’re bound to hear about the Yankees at one point or another because they’ve permeated the cultural landscape so strongly.
Jeff MacGregor of ESPN.com writes a terrific piece analyzing the team’s clubhouse and what’s happening to the team’s brand and its superstars, most notably Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Not only is the writing pretty darn good, but so is the narrative.
“It rains hard and then it clears and the skies above the Bronx are blue and high and perfect and Derek Jeter, 39 years old in June, takes BP for the first time in days while Joe Girardi watches. The ball doesn’t sound quite right coming off the bat. Another week to dial things in maybe. Alex Rodriguez, now 38, steps in and the bat cracks and the ball sizzles and rises and flies, and everyone smiles and the fans clamor for autographs and snapshots. The “A-Rat” headlines won’t hit New York doorsteps for another few days.
On the big screen out in center they’re running that video from Mickey Mantle Day in 1969. It feels antique now, grainy as a transmission from deep space and drained of color. Mickey’s all dressed up for his retirement. He waves and smiles that Mickey smile and snaps his chewing gum. There’s Phil Rizzuto. Mel Allen. The ovation goes on and on and on. The roar echoes down out of the old stadium and into the new one, down out of the past, down out of time like a message from centuries ago. Mickey Mantle raises his hand to wave goodbye. Mickey Mantle is 37 years old.”
Oh, how times have changed, huh?
Jake Owen…take it away!
Monday night at Dow Diamond the Fort Wayne TinCaps made history, but not in a good way. In a 12-5 loss to the Great Lakes Loons, Fort Wayne committed a franchise-high-tying seven errors. It’s the first time that mark has been reached in TinCaps history, as the last time it took place was in 2008, when the team was the Fort Wayne Wizards. The errors came in a number of ways mundane and matchless. Infielder Reynaldo Bruguera was charged an error for obstruction on the basepaths during a rundown, and pitcher Chris Nunn was given an error for missing a throw back to the mound from catcher Rodney Daal, allowing a baserunner to advance. Daal was charged with one of his own for trying to field a bunt and falling down during the process. The only other occurrences of a seven-error game in Fort Wayne’s history came July 11, 2008, and July 30, 2000. Reliever Joe Church had perhaps the strangest line of the night, as he allowed seven runs, but only one of them was earned.
Tonight the TinCaps look for a series victory against the Loons at 7:05, in an effort to take three out of four. Colin Rea takes the hill for Fort Wayne, replacing the injured Matthew Shepherd. For Rea, who began the year at Lake Elsinore, it will be his first regular-seaosn start in a TinCaps uniform since September 3, 2012, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
I hope you’ll join me and John Nolan tonight for the radio broadcast, which starts at 6:45. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05. You can hear the game on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.
Prior to Monday night’s game I chatted with the first-year manager of the Great Lakes Loons, Razor Shines.
Our chat was good, as Razor is managing a team that right now is right in the thick of a playoff hunt, which means he’s a happy guy. Here are some selections from our conversation…
On balancing winning vs. player development in a playoff race:
“I look at it as though winning is developing. There are days when you’re handcuffed–what I mean by that is there are certain people who have to play and there are certain pitchers who have to throw, regardless of performance. I understand that. This is Low-A ball and I have no problem with that. Winning, I think, is developing. And if you teach these guys to win, obviously they’re going to understand the game of baseball, they’re going to throw the ball to the right base and they’ll get better.”
On how his starters’ limited innings have taxed his relief corps:
“Well it has really taxed our bullpen. It’s given us extended innings that we have to make up out of our bullpen, and on certain nights we’re going to be short. We’re not going to have the best available person to fit in that spot and that’s just part of what we’re doing here in Midland on the A-ball level. It has to happen.”
On managing his son, Devin, who is a Loons outfielder:
“It’s hard. It’s really difficult. I have to treat him just like I treat everybody else and that’s hard to do because at the end of the day he’s my son and I’m his father. Family comes before my work. That’s the way it’s always going to be for as long as I ever do this. It’s a difficult spot to be in. If I had a choice I would rather not manage him, but I don’t have a choice. It’s really good for me to see him play.”
On Jose Valentin’s son, Jesmuel, a Dodgers farmhand who played with the Loons earlier this season:
“He is playing well. He is swinging the bat extremely well. He’s hitting around .290 right now in Ogden (Utah) which is our advanced rookie level, which is our next level to here. There is a chance that he’ll be called up for the playoff run. He actually did pretty good when he was here. He was put in a situation where he had to play shortstop. He’s not a shortstop by trade. HAving to go to a new position on a daily basis, it affected him out there, it affected him at the plate. Now that he’s playing second base every day, he’s swinging the bat well, the reports are good that he’s feeling the ball well, so I’m hoping that we’ll get an opportunity to see him before this playoff run is over.”
Listen to the podcast below to hear our full conversation:
I’m always up for a good story, and when I was getting on the bus last night after the game around 11:00, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read one about the state of Wyoming (approximate population 576,000) having just two elevators. This story from The Atlantic is about a month old, but still eyebrow-raisingly good:
“So, yes: In 2008, Wyoming had two-and-depending-on-how-you-count-four escalators, in the entire state. Which works out, using 2012 state population statistics, to 0.000003467 escalators per capita. Not a high number, but hey, per the Governor’s office itself, ”it is widely assumed that there are no escalators in Wyoming.” So, take that.
A lot can change in five years, though. And since the two-escalators stat is getting some attention now that Wyoming is back in the national news, I decided to embark on a very important fact-finding mission when it comes to the technological infrastructure of the great state of Wyoming. How many escalators, I wanted to know, are in the state right now — in 2013?
Best I can tell … two. Yep, still two.”
This all, of course, gets me thinking…how many escalators are there in Fort Wayne? The only ones I can think of are at the Coliseum and in Glenbrook Square Mall. Anywhere else?
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON WHO WE ARE
Read this article from The New York Times about a foreign correspondent’s thoughts on America after having lived in England for 18 years, and tell me you didn’t laugh at least once.
“I’ve come back often, so it’s not like it was a total shock. But while I wasn’t paying attention, Arizona for some reason got its own Major League Baseball team. New York City’s center of gravity shifted to Brooklyn, at least according to the people who live in Brooklyn.
In other developments, available phone numbers ran out, forcing the introduction of unpleasant new area codes. “Awesome” went from being a risible word used only by stoners and surfers to an acceptably ubiquitous modifier, the Starbucks of adjectives.
New York City Transit began kindly informing passengers how long they would have to wait until the next train. A few Americans started going only to restaurants with lovingly reared, locally sourced unpronounceable ingredients; the rest started going only to restaurants with All-U-Can-Eat Fat Plate specials.
The Kardashians arrived and would not leave.”
The story has a few more small differences between the two cultures, which gives you as the reader an interesting way of looking at our culture.
A happy 65th birthday to Led Zeppelin’s Robert plant.
And on that note…Led Zeppelin, take it away!