Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Are you celebrating in TinCaps style? Limited edition shamrock hats are on sale for $17 in The Orchard Team Store at Parkview Field.


The 17th fan to purchase one was lucky enough to win $25 TinCash.


In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, here is a TinCaps All-Irish Name Team. Dozens of players have passed through Fort Wayne during the last six years and donned the TinCaps green, but the following lads have had names more Irish than the rest.

(Note: To complete the roster, players qualified for position assignments as long as they have played the position previously, even if it isn’t or wasn’t their primary one.)


RHP Ryan Butler (2014)

LHP Allen Harrington (2009)

RHP Michael Kelly (2012-13)

RHP Jeremy McBryde (2010)

RHP Dennis O’Grady (2011-12)

RHP Jerry Sullivan (2010)

Position Players

C – Chris O’Dowd (2012)

1B – Jason Hagerty (2010)

2B – Casey McElroy (2012)

3B – Sawyer Carroll (2009)

SS – Pat McKenna (2011)

OF – Clark Murphy (2012)

OF – Wes Cunningham (2011)

OF – Daniel Killian (2011)

DH – Chris Burke (2013)

If we added a spot for broadcaster, both John Nolan and Kevin Fitzgerald would obviously qualify.


Via Catholic.org

Since the day is named for him, read about St. Patrick.


Via @SaraWagnerWANE

WANE-TV reporter Sara Wagner and photojournalist Dalton Rinehart share the story of Fort Wayne’s Deer Park Irish Pub.


Irishmen, take it away…

Thanks for reading. We’ll get back to more of a baseball focus tomorrow. Anything good to share? Be in touch on Twitter @John_G_Nolan, by email (nolan@tincaps.com), or in the comments.

One Month To Go

A mere 30 days from now, baseball will be back at Parkview Field. The TinCaps host the Lansing Lugnuts on Sunday, April 12 at 4:05 p.m.

This was the scene in Downtown Fort Wayne a month out yesterday evening.

I think I’d sign for that kind of weather on Opening Day. It was about 50°.

Thanks to a few sunny days this week, the snow is all but gone. TinCaps Assistant Video Production Manager Jared Law put together a cool time-lapse video to show the transformation.

Meanwhile, down in Arizona (where there’s no shortage of sun and warmth), past and future TinCaps are in Spring Training with the Padres. They’re working hard, and having BIG FUN…

In case you can’t recognize those men in costume, that would be TinCaps hitting coach Lance Burkhart on the left, manager Francisco Morales in the middle, and pitching coach Burt Hooton on the right.

While the Padres have been playing Spring Training games for more than a week now, the minor leaguers don’t start game action until next Friday, the 20th.



Zach Eflin pitching for the TinCaps on June 11, 2013. Photo Credit: Jeff Nycz (Mid-South Images)

Philly Inquirer writer Matt Breen has a tremendous story on 2012 TinCap Zach Eflin, who’s now in the Phillies’ organization. (Zach was part of the three-team trade that sent Matt Kemp to San Diego and Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.)

Before he plays his first game this spring, Phillies pitching prospect Zach Eflin will grab a black Sharpie and his red Phillies cap. The righthander will then flip the cap and write a message he has scribbled inside for the last two seasons.

I play to motivate, to inspire and to show that you can fulfill a dream with faith and dedication.

The 20-year-old’s faith and dedication helped him navigate through a life filled with hurt and loss. His older sister Ashley died in 1995 of leukemia. Candace, another older sister, is intellectually disabled from being deprived of oxygen at birth. Ashley’s death drove Eflin’s mother to alcoholism. Eflin said he and his mother rarely speak.

“I want to inspire anybody. Anyone that has family issues,” Eflin said. “The message is, you can do whatever you want. You can still fulfill a dream even when things are not going your way.”


Last night, the Pads played the Dodgers. Let’s see if you recognize any names in the lineup.

You may be familiar with former TinCaps Rico Noel (2010-11), Rocky Gale (2011), Hunter Renfroe (2013), Cory Spangenberg (2011), Jedd Gyorko (2010), Matt Wisler (2012), Kevin Quackenbush (2012), and… Will Ferrell.

Yes, the comedian suited up for the Padres. He also suited up for the Dodgers. And eight other teams, playing all 10 positions over the course of the day.

You can read and watch more here. It’s important to note that while this was certainly fun for all involved, Will was raising money for Stand Up To Cancer and Cancer for College.


My memory is not to be confused with fellow TinCaps broadcaster Mike Maahs. Mike can tell you when and where he was for obscure events in his life, like when he last ate a taco for dinner. That kind of recall also is handy when delving into Wizards and TinCaps history.

Anyway, I’m more likely to remember a sporting event, and then be able to connect it to a moment in my life. Case in point:

I remember staying up to watch this until it ended at 1:22 a.m., and then even later as I still had to finish an AP English essay. Regrettably, I had told myself I’d watch the game, and then finish my homework. Oops.

Later that afternoon I was ready for a nap but when I got home from school I checked my e-mail and discovered I had been accepted to attend Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. I think I was still too tired to be excited, but I put on this shirt

and went to Tony’s Pizza with a friend for a couple celebratory slices. Little did I know at the time I would indeed go to SU, and then meet Mike Couzens. Without those dominoes falling, I wouldn’t be here in Fort Wayne right now. Goes to show you, ya never know when a memorable and important moment in your life may occur.


Last Friday it was announced that award-winning country music star Dierks Bentley is bringing his Songs of Summer tour to Parkview Field on Saturday, July 25. So Mr. Bentley, take it away…

Thanks for reading. Any good weekend plans? Anything else to share? Be in touch on Twitter @John_G_Nolan, by email (nolan@tincaps.com), or in the comments below.

Dierks Bentley Coming to Parkview Field

Big news from the land of #BIGFUN early this morning.

K105 has announced that award-winning country music star Dierks Bentley is bringing his Songs of Summer tour to Parkview Field on Saturday, July 25.

As someone who’s more of a basketball fan than a country music fan, I initially thought this meant Dirk Nowitzki would be driving a Mulsanne here, but this is an even bigger get for the Fort.

Concert details, such as when tickets go on sale, have yet to be released. Stay tuned.


Justin Upton homering in his Padres Spring Training debut. (Photo Credit: Jeff Nycz, Mid-South Images.)

Justin Upton homering in his Padres Spring Training debut. (Photo Credit: Jeff Nycz, Mid-South Images.)

How excellent is this photo of Justin Upton? As you can imagine from the looks of it, he crushed that pitch over the center-field fence Wednesday in his Padres Spring Training debut. You can watch it here.

That photo comes to us from Jeff Nycz, who photographs TinCaps games and a whole lot more for Mid-South Images. Jeff is in Arizona at the moment (lucky dog). Next week we’ll share more of his Spring Training photos, including shots of former TinCaps.

As for Thursday’s action in Peoria, the Padres played the Mariners again. (Remember, San Diego and Seattle share a complex there.) Here’s the box score.

Diego Goris batting for the TinCaps on May 30, 2013. (Photo Credit: Jeff Nycz, Mid-South Images)

Diego Goris batting for the TinCaps on May 30, 2013. (Photo Credit: Jeff Nycz, Mid-South Images)

Diego Goris, Hunter Renfroe, Will Venable, Rymer Liriano, Rico Noel, Tommy Medica, Cody Decker, Austin Hedges, and Cory Spangenberg were the former Fort Wayne players in the lineup. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 15 TinCaps and Wizards alums seeing the field through two Spring Training games.

It’s great to see Diego Goris get a hit in his lone at-bat yesterday against a veteran big league pitcher, Joe Saunders. In 2013, Goris was a utility infielder for the TinCaps. There were two different stretches during the year when he went a full week without getting a single AB. In Low-A, that’s pretty unheard of. Even the last guy on the bench is usually afforded a start here and there. In fact, Diego was so far away from being considered a prospect that he pitched not once, but twice(!) in mop-up roles. And this was after the Pirates and Royals organizations had already given him up.

With somewhat of a stocky build, the 24-year-old from the Dominican doesn’t necessarily look the part, but the results are there. He got more and more opportunities with the TinCaps in 2013 as the year went on and made the most of them. Diego had multiple walk-off hits. Last year, he was a California League All-Star for High-A Lake Elsinore in the first-half before earning a promotion to Double-A San Antonio. Good story to keep an eye on.


From NPR.com: Larry David plays Norman Drexel in the new Broadway play Fish in the Dark. (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus/Courtesy of Philip Rinaldi Publicity)

Larry David is continuing his media tour to promote his new Broadway show, Fish in the Dark. Here’s an interview he did with NPR’s Fresh Air that aired Thursday. It’s interesting that he didn’t consider himself funny growing up and even when he was in school at the University of Maryland, he had no specific career plans. His mom wanted him to be a mailman. Guess it worked out for him anyway.


In a matter of moments, the NCAA is about to announce the findings of its eight-year long investigation of Syracuse University. Hearkening back to more jovial times for the Orange, and tying in that today is Shaquille O’Neal’s 43rd birthday, here’s a photo that has no context.

Shaq lifting up then-Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor at a Syracuse basketball game against Fordham on November 12, 2011. Guess you’d say it’s Shaq being Shaq. (Photo Credit: Nate Shron/Getty Images)


Shaq and Biggie, take it away…

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Keep in touch in the comments, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

1 Small Schedule for Man, 1 Giant Leap for an MiLB Team

Neil Armstrong, on July 20, 1969, said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He was on the moon. (A conversation for another day is whether or not he said, “man.”)

On July 20, 2015, the TinCaps will be in Dayton, Ohio. An easy way to know that? Checking a TinCaps pocket schedule. And soon you will be able to do just that.

The pocket schedules have arrived. All 252,000 of them for now. Yes, that’s a six-digit figure. By the summer, the TinCaps will have distributed about a half-million(!) pocket schedules throughout an hour radius of Parkview Field.

Don’t let their size deceive you. While the TinCaps market through traditional media, social media, etc., pocket schedules are a significant tool in getting word out to the community about the team. And the pocket schedules don’t magically wind up in area stores, banks, and restaurants, it requires an old-fashioned pound the pavement effort by staff members to deliver them. So pick one up, why don’t ya. It’s free, after all.


The Padres opened up their Spring Training slate Wednesday against the Mariners. Ten former TinCaps played in the game for San Diego: Medica, Liriano, Noel, Gyorko, Turner, Spangenberg, Hancock, Campos, Garcés, and Guerrero. Here’s the box score.

Most notable to me is seeing Trea Turner in there. You may recall the December deal that brought Wil Myers to the Padres from the Rays involved a “player to be named” to the Nationals, among other moving parts. Only the “PTBN” — Trea Turner — was named by everyone besides the Pads and Nats. Last week, Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego and James Wagner of The Washington Post reported on the situation.

“There’s a lot of things out of my control. I try not to pay attention to it. I’m just ready to put it behind me and start playing.” — Turner

“Trea has put this matter behind him and is focusing on his development and being a productive member of the Padres organization,”  — Turner’s agent, Jeff Berry

Now how ironic is this… Yesterday, Turner comes in as a pinch-runner and steals second. We saw plenty of that in Fort Wayne. Then with 2 outs in the ninth, he was thrown out at the plate attempting to score from second on a grounder to short. Oh, the humanity. This play (see below or here) was shades of how the 2014 TinCaps season ended in Lake County. Recall, it was Game 2 of the MWL Eastern Division Championship Series — bottom of the 8th inning in a must-win, tie-game against the Captains. With two outs, LC’s Grant Fink grounded to short. Turner threw to first. Jake Bauers didn’t quite get his foot on the bag, while Nellie Rodriguez rumbled from second base to score what proved to be the game-winning run. Sports.

(Obligatory mention by me that the first baseman who made the throw home there is Patrick Kivlehan, who’s from New York, went to high school in New Jersey, and then played safety on the Rutgers football team for four years before walking on to the RU baseball team as a senior and becoming the Big East Player of the Year. He played against the TinCaps at Parkview Field with Clinton in 2013. Kivlehan also delivered the game-winning hit yesterday in the 10th.)

A final postscript here is that D.J. Peterson homered for the M’s. That’s the brother of 2014 TinCap Dustin Peterson, who was traded to the Braves during the offseason as part of the Justin Upton deal.


Padres General Manager A.J. Preller. (Photo Credit: Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press)

Speaking of Justin Upton, who also hit a home run Wednesday, Tyler Kepner of The New York Times wrote about how Upton’s acquisition and other moves made by A.J. Preller during the winter have given the Padres a different feel headed into this season.



Sticking with great comedians, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards all attended the Baby Buggy Fatherhood Lunch in Beverly Hills yesterday.

Photo Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP Photo


Without explanation, Michael Jackson, take it away…

Thanks for reading. What’s up with you? Keep in touch in the comments, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Look Out, Baseball News

Some good news, some bad news, and some actual news today.

On the good front, there are 10 Spring Training games on the schedule, including the Padres’ ST opener against the Mariners. As I write this now, I’m tuned in to the Mets and Braves from Disney. Wayne Randazzo is on the call for the Mets (along with Josh Lewin). Randazzo spent the last last three seasons in the Midwest League behind the mic for the Kane County Cougars. He’ll be the Mets pre/post host and fill in on play-by-play.

Wayne, by the way, isn’t the only broadcaster to go from the MWL last year to the bigs this year. Jared Sandler, who called games for the Great Lakes Loons in 2012, 2013, and part of 2014, is now with the Rangers in a similar host/fill-in play-by-play capacity.

The only down side to baseball’s return is that SportsCenter feels the need to broadcast all of Alex Rodriguez’s at-bats live. In my best Mike Francesa voice, “Who cayahs?”

As for “real” news — in terms of what we cover here, at least — Hardball Capital has officially purchased the Chattanooga Lookouts (Twins, Double-A). If you’re scoring at home, the Hardball lineup now includes the TinCaps, the Lookouts, and the Savannah Sand Gnats, with a new team coming to Columbia, S.C., in 2016.

A move like this is further affirmation of Fort Wayne’s success with Minor League Baseball. The TinCaps and Parkview Field have become a model for other cities around the country.


The Red Sox played an exhibition game against Boston College Tuesday. All players on both sides wore No. 3 with Frates on the back. In case you’re not familiar with the story of Pete Frates, you should read Dan Shaughnessy’s column from today in The Boston Globe. Frates, who played baseball at BC from 2004-07, has ALS.

(Unrelated to Pete’s story, but related to the Red Sox playing BC, Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal reports on the tradition of MLB teams taking on college squads during Spring Training… In the MWL, the Lansing Lugnuts play an annual exhibition against Michigan State.)


Padres manager Bud Black was a guest yesterday on Olbermann.


It’s National Grammar Day. “Weird Al” Yankovic, take it away…

Appreciate your readership. Please be in touch in the comment section, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Catching Up

Schools in Fort Wayne are closed today as a result of freezing rain leading to icy roads. So we’ve got that going for us, which is… Did you know Bill Murray’s son Luke is an assistant basketball coach at the University of Rhode Island? The 20-7 Rams are currently tied atop the Atlantic 10 standings.

This is to say, it’s still not baseball season around here. Hoops has the center stage. Locally, IPFW’s men and women play in the Summit League Tournament this coming weekend. On the high school level, the boys state tournament starts tonight. For the girls, congrats to the Canterbury and Homestead High School teams who both won semi-state titles over the weekend and play Saturday at Bankers Life Field House for state championships. And speaking of Bankers Life, while it’s been a tough year for the Pacers, the Cers are 8-2 since the start of February — the best mark in the NBA during that span — and are suddenly only a 1/2 game out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

I suppose it makes sense that Bill Murray — who BTW is a part owner of multiple MiLB teams — would raise a son to become a DI basketball coach. After all, he was once teammates with Michael Jordan, and Bugs Bunny, in Space Jam.

Sorry, basketball tangent over.

Baseball is about to rev up, though. If you were to plot the points of the MiLB season in terms of a driving car, it’s flying 65+ MPH most of April-September. Right now, the car’s warming up. (That can be taken figuratively and literally here.)

Still, that isn’t to say without posting here during February, I didn’t fail to pass along some news. In the unlikely event you rely exclusively on this blog for your TinCaps news (which would be flattering, but also not the best way to stay informed), here are 3 Things You Should Know:

1) The TinCaps coaching has been announced.

2) The team released its promotional schedule.

3) Tickets are on sale.

I sat down with TinCaps President Mike Nutter to discuss all three items.


From MLB.com.

Remembering Mr. White Sox, Minnie Miñoso.


On this day in 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed into law a bill making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem.

The TinCaps are currently holding auditions for singers/musicians to lead the Anthem at Parkview Field in 2015. From my first two seasons here, my favorite rendition was performed by Dodger great Carl Erskine, who played the Anthem (and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”) on his harmonica.

Photo Credit: Brad Hand

Photo Credit: Brad Hand


A popular contender for best-ever performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” came 60 years after it became our National Anthem. Take it away, Whitney Houston…

Thanks for reading. Have a favorite rendition of the Anthem or anything else to share? Let us know in the comments, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Spring Is (Sort of) Here

Spring is here. Ok, not here in Fort Wayne, where several inches of snow fell Sunday. Hello, March, nice to see you, too.

As shown below, our WANE weather friends reported this February was the third coldest on record — 12.6° colder than average.

So what do I mean when I say, “Spring is here”? Well, spring is here, as in there, in Arizona, and Florida. (Officially, it will be spring everywhere in 18 days on March 20.) For TinCaps past and future, it’s in Peoria, Arizona — about 30 minutes northwest of Phoenix.

That’s where the Padres share the Peoria Sports Complex with the Mariners. Today in Peoria it’s only 64°. By the weekend, it’ll be up to 80°.

Besides tracking the weather in Arizona and longing to be there, we’ll also look to give updates on what’s happening on the fields. And that is fields plural. It’s fairly easy to track the main field. Padres pitchers and catchers reported on February 19, while the team had its first full workout last Wednesday. They play their first spring game against the Mariners this Wednesday. (Full Padres Spring Training game schedule here.)

From PeoriaSportsComplex.com.

It’s on the back fields, though, where the minor leaguers toil. Some (39, to be exact) are already there for minicamp, but the official report date for minor league pitchers and catchers isn’t until this coming Friday. All players will report by the 14th.


Sam Geaney, Padres director of player development. — K.C. Alfred (From UTSanDiego.com.)

Attempting to predict what the TinCaps 25-man roster will be come Opening Day on April 9 is probably more difficult than attempting to predict electoral votes. And I’m not expecting Nate Silver or anyone else at Five Thirty Eight to get into the business of forecasting Class A rosters to help us out. Not to mention, that by the end of the year, the roster will inevitably look much different.

This year, especially, it seems like a Herculean task to guess who will break camp as a TinCap. That’s because of all the turnover in the Padres front office, which is a post for another day. But for now, here’s U-T San Diego‘s Dennis Lin’s Q&A with new Player Development Director Sam Geaney. Nothing groundbreaking here, but at least you get some insight into the philosophy that will be determining who ends up in Fort Wayne going forward.


From CBSnews.com.

Charlie Rose interviewed Larry David for 60 Minutes.


They say March comes in like a lion, so take it away, Katy Perry…

Thanks for reading. Have a request for what to cover before the season starts? Let us know in the comments, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

VOTE TinCaps

The TinCaps need your help — more precisely, your online vote. We’re one of 32 teams selected by Sporting News to be in their bracket to determine the Best Minor League Name.

In the opening round, we trumped the very gracious Altoona Curve (Pirates’ Double-A, Eastern League).

But now there’s no time to celebrate, as we’re on to Quad Cities. (That was said in a Bill Belichick voice in case you couldn’t hear.)


It’s a painless process. No signing up for anything necessary. You may have to toggle through a few other “matchups” first, but that’s the worst of it.

You’re limited to one vote per IP address. For the uninitiated, that means you can only vote once on your computer, but you can also vote on your phone, tablet, beeper, etc.



Should we get by, voting for the “Elite Eight” will take place from Thursday into Friday. The “Final Four” round will go Friday into Monday. And then the “Championship” voting is tabbed for Monday into Tuesday. Let’s hope we get there.

At this point, everyone in Fort Wayne knows about the legend of Johnny Appleseed and the TinCaps. Let’s let all of the Internet know, too.


Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. John…

Thanks for reading — well, only if you voted! Have a second favorite Minor League team name (after TinCaps, obviously)? Let us know in the comments, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

The Time I Saw Morgan Burkhart Homer at Fenway

Opening Day in the Midwest League is exactly three months away. At this time on April 9, the TinCaps will be in Midland, Mich., to start the season against the Great Lakes Loons. The TinCaps will then open things up at Parkview Field on Sunday, April 12, at 4:05 p.m. against the Lansing Lugnuts.

As of now, we don’t know who’ll be taking the field yet. In fact, we won’t have an idea of what players will  be until less than a week from Opening Day. Soon, though, we should know what the team’s field staff will look like.

Earlier this week, the Padres announced the coaching staffs for their Triple-A and Double-A affiliates in El Paso and San Antonio, respectively. Of note here for TinCaps fans is that San Antonio’s hitting coach will be Morgan Burkhart, who was in Fort Wayne each of the past two campaigns.

We were hopeful Morgan would be back at Parkview Field, but, as TinCaps President Mike Nutter says, it’s not surprising to learn of his promotion.

It’s funny how things work out. This news regarding Morgan came just two days after the Hall of Fame announced its elected class for 2015. So Tuesday night, I decided to jostle my memory back to think about if I ever got to see Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, or Craig Biggio play in person. Thankfully this is fairly recent history and with the amazing powers of the Internet, especially our friends at Baseball-Reference, I was able to connect some dots. And yes, there’s a Morgan Burkhart connection here. Pardon my stream of consciousness…


I had the pleasure of seeing Pedro Martinez pitch twice in Boston, including once when he was a Met.

The first time I saw Pedro, I don’t remember the game as much for him as I do for how it ended. It was the first game after the All-Star break in 2000 — a year in which he’d go on to win his second Cy Young in a row. This was the first time I was old enough to recall taking in a game at Fenway after I had been once before but was too young to be aware of Mo Vaughn hitting a grand slam against the A’s, or so I’ve been told.

Embedded image permalink

With my Mom and Granpa Schulz, lookin fly.

Anyway, on this night in 2000, good ol’ Bobby Jones (had to look that up) went toe-to-toe with Pedro for six innings. Each pitcher held the opponent to two runs (Pedro did that in seven, while K-ing 10).

And now my mind is blown. How did the Sox score their two runs? MORGAN BURKHART HIT A TWO-RUN HOMER TO RIGHT FIELD. I had no idea. Morgan only played in 42 career MLB games, hitting five home runs (just one at Fenway — this one!). I never thought to make the connection that I was there for one of them, and that I’d have seen him hit a bomb. Even better, my family was sitting in right field. Holy cow.

Morgan was a switch-hitter at the plate. (via BluJay.com)

Well, what I was getting to, was that in the bottom of the ninth, with the Mets up 3-2, Melvin Mora committed an error at short. With Armando Benitez on the mound, that opened the floodgates to a blown save. Brian Daubach doubled to the wall in right field to score two and the Sox walked off. It was a terrible feeling for 9-year-old me. The P.S. here is that two weeks later, the Mets’d trade Mora to Baltimore for Mike Bordick. This was all on the heels of Gold Glover Rey Ordonez being out for the year with an injury. They’d make the World Series that year for the only time in the last 28 years, so you can’t complain too much, but Bordick was out of the picture after that season while Mora made two AL All-Star teams with the Orioles.

Wow, still can’t believe the Burkhart connection. Anyone a stats wizard to figure it out? Extreeemely minuscule.

Pedro was smiling before the game as he was applauded by fans, but left the mound with a frown. (Credit Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

The other time I saw Pedro was in 2006 — my favorite year as a baseball fan. (It’s also the only year of my life in which the Mets won a division title.) And this was the best baseball trip I’ve gone on with my Dad. We took an Amtrak up to Boston from New Jersey and spent three full days up there, taking in all three games of the Mets’ series there.

The Mets entered that late-June series with a 47-28 record. They were very consistent and hadn’t lost more than two consecutive games. Until then.

In the middle game, Pedro went up against Josh Beckett and got rocked. He allowed eight runs in three innings. I just remember the crowd chanting, “Pedrooo.”


Randy Johnson pitching at Shea Stadium, though not the day I saw him. (Credit Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

I believe I saw Randy Johnson pitch with the Diamondbacks against the Mets at Shea Stadium on Sunday, May 30, 1999. My memory of the game: The Mets got severely overmatched and blown out, 10-1. It’s one of the only times in all my years of going to games with my Dad where he had us leave early. My Dad’s the stay-until-the-end type, but with the Mets down 10-1 after 6 1/2, and with my then 5-year-old sister Katie with us, I’m pretty sure we bolted. Checking the box, Randy struck out 10 in eight innings, while also recording two hits at the plate!

The Mets ended up with the last laugh later in the year in the NLDS, beating Johnson in Game 1 of a series they’d go on to win in four games. It was past my bedtime, but Edgar Alfonzo hit two home runs off the Big Unit in Game 1. Despite fanning 11 times, the Mets scored seven runs on eight hits against Johnson in 8 1/3. Backup catcher Todd Pratt famously won that series with a 10th-inning walk-off homer to center field. Another post script: ’99 was the first of four consecutive years RJ won the Cy Young. Wow.


John Smoltz pitching in Game 4 of the 1999 World Series (Credit: John O’Boyle, The Newark Star-Ledger)

I know I saw John Smoltz pitch Game 4 of the 1999 World Series at Yankee Stadium. I had to double-check the box score on that one. I did remember for sure that Roger Clemens pitched that series-clinching game for the Yanks. I also remember that I was wearing a Yankees hat and shirt that night, even though I was a Mets fan, which felt weird.

But the most lasting memory of the only World Series game I’ve ever been to is that as soon as the last out was recorded and We Are the Champions started playing, my Dad’s friend (who was awesome enough to bring us along) wanted to leave right away. Even though I wasn’t a Yankees fan, I was bummed not to be able to see the celebration. It was too cold to remember much about the game, but per the box, Smoltz only allowed three runs — all in the third — over seven innings in a 4-1 loss. I probably saw Smoltz pitch once for the Braves against the Mets in the regular season, but it doesn’t stand out.


I certainly don’t remember this, but Craig Biggio played collegiately at Seton Hall in New Jersey. (Via The Setonian)

Craig Biggio falls into that category of forgettable Hall of Famer. I mean, look, especially when you’re young, I think it’s normal to remember the guys who hit homers and rack up strikeouts. Thus, the first time I saw McGwire and Sosa, Johnson and Martinez, stand out. Biggio? Not so much. But, yeah, pretty sure I saw the Astros play at Shea once or twice.


Thanks for taking the walk down memory lane with me. Now, here’s Penny Lane…

Appreciate you reading. Hopefully in the next week or so, we can tell you who’ll replace Morgan as the TinCaps’ hitting coach in 2015 and fill out the rest of the staff as well. Until then, would love to hear if you have any memories of seeing Hall of Famers, Morgan Burkhart, or anything else that feels relevant (or not). Comment below, email, or tweet @John_G_Nolan.

Hall of Fame, and Blame

(Preface: The Baseball Hall of Fame is a great institution. I like it a lot. My Dad brought my family to Cooperstown three times when I was a kid before we ever visited Washington, D.C. or Disney. With that said, I’m not as passionate about it as some others who make it an annual tradition to get riled up over. I wish I had that kind of energy. However, the season’s only so long, and the Winter Meetings are only so long, so what else are you going to talk about in early January?)

Four players were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio. This makes the Hall’s Class of 2015 the largest class of players to be inducted under the modern voting system, which began in 1958.

That tidbit is courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark (#SyracuseAlum), who has a good column explaining not only how he voted but how the current voting system is flawed. Rob Neyer of Fox Sports chronicles the issues, too.

The problem is this: Voters are currently limited to selecting 10 players per year. (Next year the number will be raised to 12.) Now, Stark is more willing to vote for “PED guys” — like Bonds, Clemens, and even Sheffield — than most, but he raises a valid issue.

Shouldn’t there be a simple yes/no vote? As in, Does Player X deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Yes? Or no? 

Leading up to Tuesday’s announcement from the Hall, FOTB (again, that’s Friend of the Blog) Jesse Goldberg-Strassler — voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and author of The Baseball Thesaurus, among other superlatives — conducted a mock Hall of Fame vote.

For what it’s worth, I was among the eight who voted in Jesse’s experiment. The whole “10 vs. 12 vs. unlimited” thing actually doesn’t pertain to me, because in the accented words of Mike Francesa, I’m a “hahd markah” (read: hard marker). Congrats to the following on making the Nonexistent Nolan Hall of Fame: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, and John Smoltz!

If I only had two votes (that’s another proposed voting system), I’d go Pedro and Randy. The only player I have any sentimental connection to from my youth is Mike Piazza, since I grew up a Mets fan. Yet, I made it through the day without a tissue. People who know what they’re talking about predict he’ll get in next year. Piazza was on 384/549 ballots (69.9 percent). You need to be on 75 percent to get in, so he was 28 shy.
By the way, Jeff Passan (#SyracuseAlum) is correct about this:

That reminds us of this wacky moment at Parkview Field in 2014:

That video has been viewed 474,000-plus times — the most seen TinCaps YouTube video ever. #TheMoreYouKnow

In case you were wondering, none of the four announced Hall of Famers ever played in the Midwest League.


This seems apropos…

Do you think the Hall of Fame voting process should be changed? Who would you have voted for this year? Would like to hear, so please comment below, email nolan@tincaps.com, or tweet @John_G_Nolan. Thanks for reading, and have a nice day!


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