Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Back From Bowling Green

The TinCaps arrived back in Fort Wayne this morning from Bowling Green around 5:30 a.m. That’s not a typo. That’s what happens when a game is scheduled at 7:05 CST (8:05 EST) in South Central Kentucky on a getaway day. The drive from Bowling Green to Fort Wayne is about 6.5 hours long. Making it even harder to fall asleep on the midnight bus from a state two north of Georgia is that the TinCaps coughed up a 6-1 lead through 4.5 innings and lost 9-6 to the Hot Rods. A win would’ve been their sixth in a row and a second straight series sweep. Here’s the game story.

Now, just about 13.5 hours after getting off the bus, Fort Wayne welcomes West Michigan to Parkview Field for the start of a three-game series. Today is what’s known in baseball as a “show-and-go.” TinCaps players won’t be arriving to the yard until 4:30 at the earliest. A typical day would see the clubhouse open at 1:30. As my favorite college professor John Nicholson says, “Sleep is not overrated.”

Success for the TinCaps tonight will be about making adjustments from the routine. One guy on the roster who’s well-versed in following an unorthodox path is submarine-throwing reliever Eric Yardley. Take a listen below to Mike Couzens’ conversation with Eric from yesterday. You’ll learn how Eric has gone from planning not to play baseball in college to becoming a two-way player to having to radically change his throwing motion to going undrafted to pursuing a career as a teacher to playing in Las Vegas (but not the fun one) to how he wound up in Fort Wayne. It’s an interesting conversation to say the least.

Eric and the TinCaps look to keep rolling at Parkview Field now. Fort Wayne is 8-1 in its home ballpark in May, coming off a 5-1 homestand from the 22nd-27th that concluded with a sweep of Dayton. Click here for details on all kinds of BIG FUN at the ballpark these next three days.

Design Credit: TinCaps Creative Director Tony DesPlaines

And to catch up on some recent BIG FUN here, check out this video from Star Wars Night in which TinCaps players show off their knowledge (or lack thereof) of Star Wars characters.

MUSICAL GUEST

Also from the last homestand, TinCaps Ticket Account Manager Austin Allen, or as you may know him better, Bad Apple Dancer Flava-A, wore a GoPro camera during a BAD performance. So Bad Apple Dancers featuring Demi Lovato, take it away…

What song would you like to hear the Bad Apple Dancers perform to next? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan. Coverage of the TinCaps and Whitecaps tonight can be found on The Fan 1380 starting at 6:45 and on XFINITY Channel 81 beginning at 6:30 with The Leadoff Spot. Hope you can join us, and thanks for reading.

Sweep Potential, Smith’s Year, Stop the Madness

Another night and another win for the TinCaps. Last night Fort Wayne defeated Bowling Green, 3-2, with Josh VanMeter’s seventh-inning solo home run making the difference. Click here to read the game story.

Here are today’s headlines:

A TinCaps Win WouldExtend the team’s season-long winning streak to six games… Be their eighth in their last nine games…Be their first road sweep.

Twelve Months of Change: Leadoff hitter Mallex Smith raised his average to .302 with a 2-for-5 night Thursday, bringing it above .300 for the first time this season. Smith leads MLB and MiLB with 39 stolen bases, too. Compared to his numbers from 2013 through 50 games, he has drastically improved in almost every category.

2013 (June 20th): .251 AVG, .351 OBP, 24 BB, 22 K, 25 SB

2014: (May 30th): .302 ABG, .401 OBP, 32 BB, 41 K, 39 SB

Smith also currently leads the league in runs (44) and is T-4th with 61 hits.

He’d Lead the League, But…: First baseman Jake Bauers, the youngest player in the league, is 23 plate appearances shy of qualifying for the league batting lead, but would have a hefty advantage if he did qualify. The 18-year-old is hitting .352 (.370 in May), which places him .010 points ahead of current MWL batting leader Paul Hendrix of Lake County (.342). Bauers’ on-base-percentage of .430 would rank fourth, as would his slugging percentage of .533.

No Mutz, Tail End Still OK: In last night’s game, someone other than Nick Mutz recorded a TinCaps save for the first time in 2014, as Tayron Guerrero picked up his first of the year, and just the second of his career, with the first coming in 2010 with the DSL Padres in his first pro season. Guerrero reached 100 MPH on the radar gun. In his last 13 1/3 innings (9G), he has allowed 7 hits, 1 ER, 3BB, and struck out 17.

Five Games, Now Six, Will Ya Give Me Six?: A win tonight for the TinCaps would be their sixth straight, matching the six in a row they won at the tail end of a nine-game winning streak last year, that stretched from June 2 to June 11.

Tonight’s broadcast gets going at 7:45 ET with first pitch scheduled for 8:05 ET in Bowling Green, Kentucky. You can hear the game on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne and on TheFanFortWayne.com everywhere else, including in Burma, where the TinCaps are a massive hit.

WHO’S THE NEW GUY?

I gave a primer on tonight’s starter, Ronald Herrera, yesterday, but here’s a little bit more on him via The Afroed Elephant:

“Ronald Herrera has made waves through the short season competition and gained noteriety for his success as he additionally has made a bid to be the successor to the Alcantara crown for most elite international arm below Stockton. The 18 year old who signed for a meager five figure sum out of Venezuela instantly dug out a soft spot amongst the Oakland coaching staff for his monotonously consistent delivery upon the mound and elite control of his offerings, between a low 90’s FB, curveball and changeup. Nothing amongst Herrera’s repertoire is mindboggling or excessively plus such as Paulino’s changeup, but his composure and accurate placement allowed him to bully his AZL competition this past summer to the tune of a 19.6% K% (58 K), 3.7% BB% (11 BB), and a 0.38 HR/9 (3 HR) in his 70 2/3 AZL innings which culminated in a 2.70 FIP in his first US opportunity. The performance was enough to convince management to provide Herrera with an additional two starts in Vermont, where he went 7 2/3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 8 K to conclude his season. The diminutive 5’10” righty often succumbed to his high groundball rate which ought to even out as he is surrounded by more advanced infielders behind him, and should play as a plus attribute upon arriving in dinger susceptible areas such as Beloit and Stockton. With a command often unseen in youngsters his age, Herrera has the ability to rush through the system and could possibly project more so in a long relief role for the Athletics.”

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

I spoke with catcher Ryan Miller prior to Thursday’s game about his go-ahead home run, what it’s like playing in humid weather, and his latest iPad fascination:

FROM WHERE I SIT

Below you’ll find my view during games at Bowling Green Ballpark. Discerning balls and strikes becomes America’s favorite play-by-play guessing game called, “Inside or Outside?”:

The view from the visiting radio booth at Bowling Green Ballpark.

The view from the visiting radio booth at Bowling Green Ballpark.

Also, I am so close to the third-base bag that when Ryan Miller was rounding third after his home run on Thursday night, he told me he could hear me talking about back-to-back home runs. Ya hear that, Arbitron, add another listener to the ratings!

AN APPEAL TO REASON

While I was at breakfast this morning, I was scanning my Twitter feed on my phone, and came across the phrase #ShockTheWorld. I might be wrong with my capitalization, though, as it was likely not capitalized, being on Twitter and all. The phrase has become popular with fans of sports teams that are not favored to win games or tournaments in which they play. For some reason, I distinctly remember it being used by the Norfolk State men’s basketball team in 2012 when it knocked second-ranked Missouri from the NCAA tournament. I write today to ask one thing:

Stop.

The use of #ShockTheWorld is incredibly ignorant and ridiculously misplaced in the context of sports. The United States, a population of approximately 300 million, makes up just 4% of the world’s population. The world’s most popular sport is soccer, not basketball, not baseball, not football– arguably the three most popular sports in the United States. Although, yes, the phrase may be used as hyperbole, sports fans can do better.

In a world where countries have debt crises, severe income disparity, food shortages, lack of access to healthcare and education, and political instability, among many other things, let’s vow to never use such an inane phrase again as it pertains to sports.

Sports are important to me. Working in sports is how I make a living, and it’s also the livelihood for thousands of other people around the country, too, but at the end of the day–it’s just a game. The outcome of any game has no effect on the world around us. Let’s not forget to keep that in mind as college sports postseason tournaments roll around, in addition to the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals.The world won’t be shocked no matter who wins, because most of the world isn’t even aware there are people playing.

MUSICAL GUEST

Phillip Phillips…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

MCsig

 

 

 

 

 

Big Win, New Guy, PTNBL Explained

With an exciting, come-from-behind 12-7 win Wednesday night, the TinCaps have extended their winning streak to a season-best four games. Once down, 7-2, Fort Wayne scored ten unanswered runs, getting six in the sixth and four in the seventh to bury the Hot Rods at Bowling Green Ballpark. It was a powerful display of offense which counted three home runs–one from Fernando Perez, Jake Bauers and Ryan Miller–in a 14-hit attack. The home runs from Bauer and Miller were the game-changers, as Bauers’ homer tied the game and Miller’s which came in the next at-bat, gave Fort Wayne the lead for good. Here’s how they sounded:

Bauers:

Miller:

As I mentioned in the tail end of the call of the Miller home run, it was the first time the team had hit back-to-back home runs in nearly two years. The last time it happened was May 26, 2012, when Lee Orr and Yeison Asencio hit consecutive longballs. Strangely enough, that game was also against the Hot Rods, but the TinCaps lost, 11-2.

Tonight the TinCaps send Erik Cabrera to the hill as they try and extend their winning streak to five games. It would be the first time Fort Wayne has won five straight games since the tail end of a nine-game winning streak last season, which ran from June 2 to June 11. First pitch is at 8:05 ET on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.

ROSTER MOVE

Yesterday the TinCaps placed infielder Chase Jensen on the disabled list, and brought aboard all-name team infielder River Stevens. Find out about him here:

Today, they placed pitcher Coby Cowgill on the disabled list, and pitcher Ronnie Herrera was assigned to Fort Wayne. Herrera, if you’re not familiar with the name, was just named as the Player to Be Named Later in the May 15 trade between San Diego and Oakland that sent outfielder Kyle Blanks to the A’s in exchange for a minor leaguer.

Here’s the preseason scoop on Herrera, from the interestingly named A’s blog, The Afroed Elephant:

“The 18 year old Herrera, following his $20,000 signing in 2012, has burst forth to relevance and become a consensus top 25 Athletics prospect with a sound delivery and precise pitch placement that made him one of the most feared AZL arms throughout the league prior to his promotion to Vermont for a brief two outing tenure. Now competing for a Snappers post, Herrera’s remarkable breakthrough makes him one of Oakland’s most sought after farmhands, not turning 19 until May 3rd. 

Featuring as one the breakout performers throughout the entirety of the organization in 2013, Herrera shot out of obscurity and onto the A’s radar with his phenomenal stateside debut in the AZL that produced a two start stint with Vermont to conclude his campaign and now places him squarely in consideration for a coveted Beloit rotation position entering 2014. Only but a diminutive 5’10”, 170 pounds, Herrera initially inked for a modest sum in 2012 and was flown from his Venezuelan home to the Santo Domingo academy to contribute to the DSL squad as a 17 year old and fared well between 58 1/3 IP, constructing a 44:20 K/BB and permitting a lone dinger in a season that caught the attention of the A’s and convinced them to ship Herrera out to the instructional league. The 18 year old wound up remaining domestically in what would be a AZL berth that saw him mixed into the Papago rookie league rotation, and inbetween his 14 appearances (9 starts), Herrera would bomb past collegiate draftees and advanced international batters en route to one of the most dominant stretches of any AZL/GCL pitching prospect in 2013. This was enough to convince the A’s to push Ronnie even further to Vermont to make a two appearance debut with the Lake Monsters. Overall, he would battle through 78 1/3 IP with 66 strikeouts recorded, 13 walks allowed, and three dingers surrendered during his year that now has the organization considering stitching his name onto a Snappers uniform this May.

 Born on 5/3/1995, Herrera is the second youngest player within the organization currently housed within the states (Chris Kohler born 5/4/1995) and would be 18 for the first month of the MWL schedule, a full five months younger than when Alcantara began in Burlington as a 19 year old in 2012. Similarly to Alcantara, Herrera has received acclaim for his precision and possesses a pinpoint changeup, mature curveball and a fastball that can graze 95 MPH despite pitching consistently at 88-92, accompanied by a tendency to keep the ball towards the lower portions of the strike zone that has resulted in plus groundball rates. The Maracay native wowed during this previous September in the instructional league and has the A’s minor league coordinators raving about his potential, so no matter how skeptical you are, Herrera is an absolute must know prospect for Oakland fans. And he, alongside Gregory Paulino, is in all likelihood the next Alcantara/Ynoa down on the farm. Should he not be granted with a shuttle to Wisconsin, he’ll commence in Vermont and undoubtedly receive some sporadic Beloit attempts after his 19th birthday in August.”

According to Corey Brock of MLB.com, Herrera will start for the TinCaps tomorrow in the series finale against Bowling Green.

If you were wondering what goes on behind the scenes with a Player to Be Named Later situation, fear not…so was I. So I emailed Padres Director of Player Development (colloquially, the farm director) Randy Smith, who is a former MLB General Manager, to find out more about that.

As he explained it, a Player to Be Named Later is very similar to acquiring a player in a normal trade. The decision is made based off of evaluations from the pro scouts the Padres employ, and analysis from the front office. It’s not uncommon for the two teams in this type of a deal to have a list of a few players that could be that PTBNL, and then have a period of time for further evaluation before a final decision is reached.

Thank you, Randy, for the good explanation.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Before yesterday’s game I talked with TinCaps starter Walker Weickel, who had pitched his best start of the year Tuesday morning at Parkview Field:

LEADERSHIP

One of my favorite corners of the internet is the On Leadership blog done by The Washington Post. I’m always curious about different styles of leadership and why people in those positions do what they do. The blog recently talked with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. He says:

“One of the keys to being a CEO is communication. In the early days of Twitter, we just assumed that since we were all sitting in the same room we were all on the same page, so we didn’t really need to communicate that much. It turns out we were totally wrong. That was one of the reasons why Twitter’s service was constantly breaking in the early days.

With this new company I’ve founded, Jelly, it’s the first time I’m CEO. I now realize that half the job of being a good leader is making sure everyone knows everything at all times that they need to know, because it’s human nature to fear the unknown. And in the business world, fear translates to the assumption that something’s going wrong. If you don’t hear anything, you assume the worst.

So in my new role, I try to over-communicate as much as possible. Every Sunday I spend three hours writing the ups and downs of the week, and I send it to the board and all the employees and anyone who’s an adviser or stakeholder. I have Monday morning meetings, Friday afternoon meetings, as much communication as I can possibly have. Probably too much. But I’ve found that it’s a critical component to being a leader — that and some humor.”

It gets a little more tech-centric as it goes on, but still some interesting insights.

MUSICAL GUEST

Led Zeppelin…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

MCsig

 

 

TinCaps in Kentucky

A very pleasant good afternoon, and greetings from Bowling Green Kentucky, home to Western Kentucky University and the Midwest League’s own Bowling Green Hot Rods. Tonight at 8:05 ET, the TinCaps open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays’ affiliate, as the two square off for the first time in 2014.

The Hot Rods, who joined the Midwest League in 2010, along with the Lake County Captains, are currently 24-27, which puts them two games ahead of the TinCaps at 22-29. Bowling Green has a new manager this season, Michael Johns, who, like the previous manager, Jared Sandberg, managed at Short-Season Hudson Valley (NY) before coming to South-Central Kentucky.

Meanwhile, the TinCaps have won five of their last six, including a three-game sweep over Dayton in their most recent series, which culminated in a walk-off win yesterday afternoon at Parkview Field:

Here are today’s headlines:

A TinCaps Win Would:Set a new season-long winning streak of four games… Be their sixth in their last seven games… End an eight-game road losing skid.

Last Time They Met: The TinCaps eliminated the Hot Rods from the postseason in 2013. Fort Wayne swept Bowling Green, 2-0, in the East Division’s Semifinals. The result was something of a surprise after the Hot Rods, who won the second half with a 44-26 record, took 10 of 15 regular season meetings against the TinCaps, who sputtered to the tune of a last-place, 29-41 finish. On Fort Wayne’s current roster, only Mallex Smith (4-for-8, 3 R, RBI, BB) and Luis Tejada (1-for-7, 2B, R, 2 RBI) played in the series.

Walk-Off This Way: Thursday’s walk-off win was Fort Wayne’s third of the season. Previously, Dustin Peterson had a walk-off single to beat the Peoria Chiefs in the bottom of the ninth inning, 6-5, on April 19. José Carlos Ureña had a game-winning fielder’s choice groundout on April 29 in a 10-inning, 7-6 win over the Great Lakes Loons.

Eeking It Out: Prior to Thursday, the TinCaps had dropped their previous five games decided by one run, including three walk-off losses. On the season now, Fort Wayne is 5-7 in one-run games. It hadn’t won such a contest since eeking out a 1-0 win at Lansing on May 6.

Makin’ Bucks, Gettin’ Exercise, Workin’ Outside: The TinCaps completed their six-game homestand with a 5-1 record and have won eight of their last nine games at home. Their 16-10 home mark is the second-best in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division, only behind South Bend, which is 17-9 at Four Winds Field. Fort Wayne also drew crowd in excess of 6,000 five of the last six days, for an average attendance of 6,491. Thursday’s crowd of 7,158 was the largest in Class-A and third-largest in all of Minor League Baseball.

One for the Road 

While on the bus down to Kentucky today, I enjoyed an article in The New York Times on the Division-III coaching roots of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, especially this note about the conference in which he once coached, the Sciac:

“Popovich was one of the few coaches to leave the Sciac. The conference’s coaches earn a salary in the range of $80,000 to $120,000, comparable to that of many Division I assistants, and are free of the headaches of recruiting and the grind of travel that are present at other levels. Administrations, concerned more with academic success than winning, rarely push out coaches.

Eslinger, who completed his sixth season at Caltech, is the new kid on the block; six of the nine coaches have been at their posts at least 16 seasons. Mike Bokosky, who has been at Chapman for 22 years, does not have a cellphone. Occidental Coach Brian Newhall has been around for 27 seasons, long enough to have coached against Popovich.

“It’s the no-turnover league,” said Rich Rider, in his 19th season at California Lutheran after working as an assistant at Boise State. He is one of two coaches in the league with a doctoral degree.

Coaches in the Sciac wear many hats. Redlands Coach Jim Ducey also coaches tennis. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Coach Ken Scalmanini teaches two classes and serves on committees for academic standards and work-study programs. And Charlie Katsiaficas, who succeeded Popovich at Pomona-Pitzer, is the chairman of the athletic and physical education departments.”

Sports for fun, it seems. What a concept.

MUSICAL GUEST

Calvin Harris…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

MCsig

 

 

Tuesdays with the TinCaps

Break up the TinCaps. Or at least the Parkview Field version. Fort Wayne won at home for the sixth time in seven games on Monday, 14-9, over the Dayton Dragons. That improves the team’s record at home on the season to 15-10 (3-1 on the homestand), which is the third best mark in the Midwest League (second in the East Division).

Mike Couzens and Kent Hormann recap the offensive eruption below.

Some numbers of note from the TinCaps’ win…

* 7th time this season the team scored 10+ runs in a win (6th time at Parkview Field); Fort Wayne has scored 10+ runs in three of its last nine games.

* Fort Wayne now leads the Midwest League in runs scored (272 in 50 games for an average of 5.4/game). So how is this team still eight games below .500? Well, unfortunately for the TinCaps, they also lead the MWL in runs allowed (300, or 6.0/game). On top of that, Fort Wayne has also committed the most errors in the league and all of the Minors for that matter (99; 1.9/game).

* They’ve won consecutive series for the first time all season.

* The 3, hour 26 minute-game was the longest nine-inning contest of the season, eclipsing April 19’s 15-10 win against Peoria by three minutes. Twenty-three of the game’s 26 runs were scored in the first five innings, which took about 2.5 hours.

* Five guys hit a double. That’s the second time in four days that the team has hit a season-high five two-baggers.

* On an individual front, it was the second time in four days that Mallex Smith scored four runs in a game.

Jake Bauers had an RBI-single on Monday, as the 18-year-old hit cleanup for the first time as a TinCap. We talked with Jake before the game about why he thinks he’s thrived in Fort Wayne and how he approaches being the youngest player in the Midwest League.

FAKING CULTURAL LITERACY

Not that we’d know anything about this, but Karl Taro Greenfeld hits a proverbial home run with his take on “Faking Cultural Literacy.”

What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate. So that we can survive an elevator pitch, a business meeting, a visit to the office kitchenette, a cocktail party, so that we can post, tweet, chat, comment, text as if we have seen, read, watched, listened. What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content firsthand but simply knowing that it exists — and having a position on it, being able to engage in the chatter about it. We come perilously close to performing a pastiche of knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness…

The information is everywhere, a constant feed in our hands, in our pockets, on our desktops, our cars, even in the cloud. The data stream can’t be shut off. It pours into our lives a rising tide of words, facts, jokes, GIFs, gossip and commentary that threatens to drown us. Perhaps it is this fear of submersion that is behind this insistence that we’ve seen, we’ve read, we know. It’s a none-too-convincing assertion that we are still afloat. So here we are, desperately paddling, making observations about pop culture memes, because to admit that we’ve fallen behind, that we don’t know what anyone is talking about, that we have nothing to say about each passing blip on the screen, is to be dead.

MUSICAL GUEST

Straying from faking cultural literacy… or not, Andre 3000 turns 39 today. So OutKast, shake it like a Polaroid picture…

The TinCaps wrap up their six-game homestand today with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch against Dayton. The first five days have seen more than 30,000 fans flock to Parkview Field and more than 7,000 are expected today — most kids as part of the TinCaps Reading Program presented by Longe Optical. You know where to find us. (Ok, in case you don’t, shame on you, but it’s The Fan 1380, TheFanFortWayne.com, and XFINITY Channel 81.)

You can find John Nolan faking cultural literacy on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Memorial Day Matinee

On this Memorial Day, firstly, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. For more on the history of Memorial Day, which dates back to May 5, 1866 in Waterloo, N.Y., the History Channel provides a short video.

Secondly, today, the TinCaps play the penultimate game of their six-game homestand with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch against the Dayton Dragons. Last night, Fort Wayne received six solid innings from starter Kyle Lloyd, while Ryan Miller and Jake Bauers both homered in an 8-4 win. Mike Couzens and Kent Hormann have a complete game recap below:

Also, take a listen to our conversation before last night’s game with TinCaps manager Michael Collins. Tubby tries to make sense of why the club has played so much better at home than on the road in 2014 and shares how he hopes the team grows in the final three weeks of the season’s first half.

Here’s a look at the jerseys the TinCaps will be wearing today for Memorial Day.

Jerseys designed by TinCaps Creative Director Tony DesPlaines.

Fort Wayne will wear these patriotic jerseys again on June 11 for Military Appreciation Night as well as on July 4. The jerseys will be auctioned off on the Fourth with proceeds going to Honor Flight Northeast Indiana.

Up in the Majors, teams won’t be donning red, white, and blue, but instead, camo. Or “digi camo” as it’s become known now.

Source: NewEra.com

Source: NewEra.com

MUSICAL GUEST

Again, thank you to those who have died serving the United States, and to those who continue to sacrifice in our nation’s military.

You can follow John Nolan on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Sunday #BIGFUNday

Boy, ya just couldn’t have asked for better weather so far this Memorial Day Weekend. The last three nights have all been around 70 degrees and sunny, as about 20,000 fans have flocked to Parkview Field. It’s another ideal day for a ballgame in Downtown Fort Wayne tonight as the TinCaps continue their six-game homestand with the first of three against the Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds).

Elsewhere in the Hoosier State, the Indy 500 was today. We don’t follow racing, but caught the last few laps on TV. Ryan Hunter-Reay won for the first time in a close finish. Well, less than 24 hours ago here in Fort Wayne, Lansing beat the TinCaps in a tight one, too. Fort Wayne held leads of 1-0 and 3-2, but faltered down the stretch in a 4-3, 10-inning setback.

Kent Hormann and Javi DeJesus recap the loss below:

One of the positives for the TinCaps on Saturday was how Dustin Peterson continues to tear it up. The third baseman had his second consecutive three-hit game with a pair of doubles, a single, and two runs batted in. In his last six games, Peterson is 10-for-24 (.417 average) with three doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. He’s hit safely in five of those six games — the only exception being Tuesday at Lake County when he only had two at-bats before leaving the game when a contact lens fell out. The 19-year-old from Arizona leads the TinCaps in RBI on the season with 33, which is second most in the Midwest League (three behind Wisconsin’s Clint Coulter). Meanwhile, his 15 doubles are also a team high and rank tied for fourth in the MWL. Again, his 20 extra-base hits this year are most on the TinCaps and tied for fourth in the league.

Mike Maahs caught up with Petey before last night’s game to discuss his prowess at the plate, as well as Friday’s game when he was hit in the head by a pitch leading to a benches-clearing brawl situation.

Peterson isn’t the only TinCap thriving at the plate right now, though. Here are a couple other headlines from our Game Notes

Tejada’s Turnaround:In his first 16 games of the season with the TinCaps, Luis Tejada struggled mightily. The 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic was 10-for-61 (.164) with only 1 extra-base hit, and 5 runs batted in. After he was transferred off Fort Wayne’s roster on April 25, Tejada returned to the TinCaps on May 14. In his first 2 games back, the outfielder turned first baseman turned back to outfielder now, went 0-for-9 last weekend at South Bend. He didn’t even get an at-bat during Fort Wayne’s three-game series at Lake County during the week. But all Tejada’s did in 3 games against Lansing was go 8-for-12 (.667) with 2 doubles, and 3 RBI. With 3 hits each on Thursday and Friday, and 2 Saturday, Tejada has 3 consecutive multi-hit games for the 1st time since August 2-4, 2012, when playing for the Arizona League Padres.

Swift Smith: Mallex Smith leads not only the Midwest League with 35 stolen bases, but all of baseball. The 21-year-old hasn’t had more than 3 consecutive games without swiping a bag in 2014. Smith has stolen a base in 4 of his last 5 games in which he’s gotten on base. Great Lakes’ Malcolm Holland is a distant 2nd in MiLB with 24 stolen bases, while Dee Gordon leads MLB with 28. But better yet, Smith has season his batting average jump from .221 in April to .364 in the month of May. His OBP has risen from .315 last month to .452 in May.

MUSICAL GUEST

Florence and the Machine, take it away…

We’ve got our only edition of Sunday Night Baseball this season set to get rolling at 7:05. Hope you can join us.

You can follow @John_G_Nolan on Twitter for the latest on the TinCaps and Orange-colored ensembles. Good luck to the Syracuse University Women’s Lacrosse team tonight in the NCAA Championship game!

Star Wars: The TinCaps Strike Back

Whew. Still trying to exhale after a wild game at Parkview Field on Friday night. Where do we start? The TinCaps beat Lansing, 17-6, but that doesn’t tell half of it.

Who would’ve thought that on Star Wars Night, when Darth Vader threw out the first pitch, Stormtroopers roamed around the park, and Chewbacca led the crowd in “singing” Take Me Out to the Ballgame,  that stuff would seem mundane in comparison to what happened on the field.

Walker Weickel and Justin Livengood joined by Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion of Star Wars Characters. (Photo Credit: Abby Naas)

Walker Weickel and Justin Livengood joined by Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion of Star Wars Characters. (Photo Credit: Abby Naas)

We loathe the current “Buzzfeed culture” of lists in place of prose and whatnot, but alas, allow us to be hypocrites here as we jot down some of the oddities from Friday’s game:

* 23 Runs (FW: 17 / LAN: 6)

* 23 Hits (FW: 16 / LAN: 7)

* 8 Errors (FW: 1 / LAN: 7)

* 3 wild pitches, including one on strike three by Lansing’s Matt Dermody that allowed Adolfo Reina to reach base

* 2 batters hit in the head by pitches (Fort Wayne’s Erik Cabrera hit Justin Atkinson; Lansing’s Dermody hit Dustin Peterson)

* 2 ejections (Lansing manager John Tamargo Jr. and Dermody)

* Benches clearing after Tamargo, on his way back to the clubhouse, engaged in a verbal altercation with the Fort Wayne dugout)

* Chase Jensen called out for batter’s interference when he got in the way of Santiago Nessy, who was trying to throw out Luis Tejada stealing second base

* Tejada and Jensen, in back-to-back at-bats, hitting balls off the top of the wall, coming within inches of home runs

* The Taco Bell Sauce Packet Race starting prematurely during the bottom of the seventh inning when field umpire Chris Lloyd ruled that Lansing center fielder D.J. Davis dropped a Jake Bauer fly ball to center field. Both teams thought the catch was made for the third out of the inning and went into their respective dugouts, only to be called back onto the field, while the racing Taco Bell Sauce Packets, who came storming out from left field, were sent off the field. (The press box also thought the inning was over and went to commercial break.)

Are we forgetting anything? It’s probable. In a season that’s already seen the longest game in franchise history, as well as games shortened by rain and snow, plus the eruption of a geyser on the field, Friday ranks up there with those others in its absurdity.

Of all those happenings last night, the most lasting image is the benches clearing.

Upon further review, my tweet was inaccurate.

Credit that work to the Photoshop Menace David Hentz, who when he’s not turning bats into lightsabers, is the TinCaps Assistant Video Production Manager.

Jokes aside, though, this was disheartening to see unfold from both sides.

Fortunately, Dustin was okay after Dermody’s head-hunting. In fact, the third baseman finished the game just a triple shy of the cycle. He now has 3 homers in his last 5 games. But, back to the near-brawl. Peterson had the quote, as reported by The Journal Gazette’s Chris Goff.

“Thank goodness I had a helmet on,” said Peterson, who hit a three-run shot to left in the second inning. “Pretty messed up. It’s complete bush league. If you’re going to hit somebody, don’t go after his head.

“I have an older brother that’s had his jaw broken on a hit by pitch.”

That’s why this isn’t a laughing matter. To state the obvious, a baseball being thrown upwards of 90 miles per hour is a weapon. For what it’s worth, Cabrera told Goff he didn’t intend to Atkinson. For Dermody, a guy who hadn’t hit a batter in 25.0 IP this season and hit only 1 batter in 43.1 IP in 2013, the intention seemed clear. At that point he had allowed 9 runs on 8 hits, had thrown a wild pitch, and just committed an error. He knew he was about to be removed from the game with Roberto Espinosa ready in the bullpen. You can do the math.

We find it silly to think a pitcher ever needs to hit a batter. But for the purposes of this conversation, we won’t argue about that right now. There can be no circumstance, though, repeat: no circumstance, in which it is acceptable for a pitcher to throw at a batter’s head. We hope there are consequences from the Midwest League Office for Dermody’s actions.

And so the shame of an ugly event like that is it overshadows what was a tremendous night for the TinCaps. Especially in a sport like baseball, momentum is difficult to measure. But no doubt, it was encouraging to see how after the brewhaha, Fort Wayne responded with gusto, while Lansing collapsed.

Here’s our postgame interview with Peterson (as video-bombed by Josh VanMeter and Jake Bauers) and a recap from Mike Couzens and Dave Doster.

With Peterson, Mallex Smith, Fernando Perez, Reina, and Tejada each providing 3-hit games, the TinCaps set the following season-highs…

* Most Runs (17)

* Largest Margin of Victory (11)

* Most Individual Runs Scored (Smith, Peterson – 4)

* Most Errors by Opponent (7)

* Tie – Most Extra-Base Hits (7)

* Tie – Most Doubles (5)

In particular, it was a welcomed sight to see Tejada’s success. From today’s Game Notes:

In his first 16 games of the season with the TinCaps, Tejada struggled mightily. The 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic was 10-for-61 (.164) with only 1 extra-base hit, and 5 runs batted in. After he was transferred off Fort Wayne’s roster on April 25, Tejada returned to the TinCaps last Wednesday. In his first two games back, the outfielder turned first baseman turned back to outfielder now, went 0-for-9 last weekend at South Bend. He didn’t even get an at-bat during Fort Wayne’s three-game series at Lake County during the week. But all Tejada’s done so far in two games against Lansing is go 6-for-9 with 2 doubles, and 3 runs batted in.

Can ya believe that after a 3 hour, 1 minute game, we couldn’t get some fans to leave?

Who knew so many little kids wanted to reserve a seat to see Payton Baskette tonight? Photo Credit: Tara Cahill

Yep, it was the first of 3 Scout Nights at Parkview Field. The #BIGFUN keeps rolling tonight with a performance on tap from the Russian Bar Trio.

MUSICAL GUEST

With the way this season has gone so far, Randy Newman, take it away…

Thanks for reading (or at least skipping to the bottom). Hope you join us for tonight’s 7:05 p.m. game.

Follow @John_G_Nolan for the latest in who knows what bizarre event will happen at Parkview Field next.

 

#BIGFUN For Real

To put it lightly, the weather so far during this 2014 season has been (*clears throat, puts on Mike Francesa voice*) atrocious. We’ve had cold. We’ve had rain. We’ve even had SNOW.

So when you get a night like we got last night, you appreciate it even more. It was absolutely idyllic — 70 and sunny. To make it even better, 6,387 fans were on hand at Parkview Field. (And with the noise they made, it seemed like 7,000-plus.) And oh by the way, the TinCaps beat the Lansing Lugnuts, 3-1.

Afterward we talked to Dane Phillips about what got the team over the top in a close game for the first time in a while and how the great crowd helped extend Fort Wayne’s home winning streak to four. Mike Couzens and Dave Doster provide a recap as well. Check it out below.

We can’t understate how fun last night was. Sure, the win helped. But the fans made it fun, or #BIGFUN, if you will. Now as school winds down and the good weather is here to stay (*knocks on wood* *knocks on wood again*), it’s exciting to think about what’s in store for the summer. For us, summer officially started between the fifth and sixth innings when TinCaps On-Field Emcee Brad Shank led the crowd in a game of “Finish the Lyrics” (one baseline had to finish “Wrecking Ball” while the other side had “Let It Go”). It was just fun.

WANE TV’s Joe Whelan had the tweet of the night to echo our thoughts.

CLASH OF THE CAPS

On the subject of last night’s great crowd, big ups to all the TinCaps fans who helped Fort Wayne finish No. 8 out of 160 in Minor League Baseball’s “Clash of the Caps” competition to determine the best hat in MiLB.

Clash-of-the-Caps-Top-10

Two million fans voted, and the TinCaps received 16,218 of them. (Fellow Padres affiliate, Triple-A El Paso, a first-year club, won with 19,010 votes.) On behalf of TinCaps President Mike Nutter and the entire organization, thanks to all those who voted. We realize it wasn’t the most efficient process to vote, so it’s even more appreciated.

We weren’t here six years ago when the team announced its name and logo, but from what we’ve heard, it’s funny to think so many people initially opposed the TinCaps. Seems like folks in Fort Wayne, and elsewhere, have bought it at this point. The Clash of the Caps Top 10 appearance comes on the heels of finishing in the Top 25 of MiLB Merchandise Sales each of the past five seasons.

STAR WARS NIGHT

Was just down on the concourse, and apparently security is a little lax tonight…

Who let these guys in?

Yes, tonight is the annual TinCaps Star Wars Night. We won’t lie. We’ve seen the movies, used to play with the toys, but don’t consider ourselves big fans by any means — which puts us in the minority. About 30 members of the 501st Legion are here in character. Fans are dressed up, too. It’s quite the scene. And with players doing Chewbacca impersonations on the video board, who knows what else going on, and the immaculate weather still here, it’s sure to be yet another night of #BIGFUN.

Mike Maahs and I will get it going on The Fan 1380 (and you the know other ways to listen by now) at 6:45. Couzens and Doster are back on the TV side at 7:00.

MUSICAL GUEST

Let’s stick with the theme…

Thanks for checking in. And enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend!

For more pictures of Star Wars characters at baseball games, and for other things, too, you can follow John Nolan on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Turn the Park PINK

What a great day to be alive. We should say this every day, but it feels especially true today. The sun is out. The sky is blue. The grass is green. It’s 70 degrees with a light breeze — just absolutely idyllic conditions for a ballgame here in Downtown Fort Wayne at 7:05 when the TinCaps host the Toronto Blue Jays’ Class-A affiliate, the Lansing Lugnuts.

And tonight at Parkview Field, we’ll be celebrating all those who are alive after defeating breast cancer, in addition to remembering those we’ve lost, and working to prevent anyone else from experiencing the horrific disease. Tonight is Turn the Park Pink.

Pic Stitch Credit: Abby Naas

As you can see above, TinCaps Creative Director Tony DesPlaines has once again designed a unique and beautiful specialty jersey, featuring words of inspiration. The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game and then afterward TinCaps players will hand them off to the winning bidders on the field. Proceeds go toward the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.

In addition, the t-shirts showcased above are available in The Orchard Team Store at Parkview Field for $22.00, with $5.00 going toward the VBFfBC. Pink tennis balls can also be purchased for $5.00 for the postgame “Launch-A-Ball” contest and will be donated to VBfBC, too. And as part of the effort to raise awareness for breast cancer tonight, Francine’s Friends will be on hand from 6:00-9:00 p.m. with their Mobile Mammography  coach bus to offer free mammography screenings. 

Per usual for a special night at Parkview Field, the TinCaps Video Production Team of Melissa Darby, David Hentz, and Jared Law will have pink prominent on the video board. As cool as that will look, we predict the best moment of the night will come when breast cancer survivor Karen Peters throws out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.

DON’T JUST THINK PINK

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That’s why in recent years you’ve seen the NFL put pink all over the place during October. But May, fittingly with Mother’s Day falling during the month, includes National Women’s Health Week, which was last week. And while there are all sorts of different fundraisers throughout the year to raise money to research and treat breast cancer, many fall in May, including a Race for the Cure 5K last Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y.

Donna Ditota writes for the The Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse. She covers the Syracuse University basketball beat. As a recent alumnus of SU who’s closely followed Orange hoops for the last five years, I’ve probably read hundreds of articles by Donna — who is a fantastic beat reporter — about the ‘Cuse. So I didn’t know what to think when last week I saw a tweet saying Donna wrote a story about her boyfriend.

Unfortunately, the cause for Donna writing about her boyfriend was that he was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall. Yes, a man, and not only a man, but one in strong physical shape, who’s run a marathon and works out, had breast cancer.

Breast cancer, viewed through a prism of pink, is considered a woman’s disease. But when it strikes men, it frequently afflicts other male family members. It stalks them as relentlessly as it pursues its primary victims.

As we navigated Bill’s post-surgery options, we learned how little research exists to inform men diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors and nurses kept apologizing for the pink packets of information they provided. Post-surgery treatments for women are aimed at inhibiting the production of estrogen, which feeds breast cancer. But how does it work with men, who possess comparatively infinitesimal amounts of the hormone? Nobody really knows.

Fortunately now, Donna’s boyfriend Bill is on the road to recovery. Still, this is a sobering story that will likely lead you to change the way you think about breast cancer, or at least about how it’s “branded,” for lack of a better word. Here are a few facts about male breast cancer via Donna’s story:

Rates of breast cancer in men are 1.3 per 100,000. Rates of breast cancer in women are 120.9 per 100,000.

Survival rates for men are about the same as for women with the same stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis. However, men are usually diagnosed at a later stage because they are less likely to report symptoms.

The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or chest area. However, any change in the breast or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer in men.

So tonight, amidst Parkview Field turning pink, I’ll also be keeping in mind the 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men which will be diagnosed in 2014 and the 430 men who will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Don’t just think pink. 

MUSICAL GUEST

In the spirit of this day, let’s let Martina McBride, whose song “I’m Gonna Leave You Through It” is dedicated to victims of breast cancer, take it away…

Thanks for reading. Remember, if you’d like to donate to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, you can do so here.

Follow John Nolan on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

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