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!
Happy Monday to you and here’s to another great week of TinCaps Baseball. There are just 15 regular-season games remaining for the club, which has won back-to-back games to open this four-game series against Great Lakes. The TinCaps took both Thursday and Friday’s contests by a score of 4-3.
Tonight they face 2013 second-round pick Tom Windle, who was taken out of the University of Minnesota. The 21-year-old went 6-4 with a 2.14 ERA in 14 starts for Minnesota as a junior in 2013, including tossing the first nine-inning no-hitter in Minnesota history on March 8th against Western Illinois. Windle will be opposed by Fort Wayne’s Max Fried, a first-round draft selection by the Padres in 2012.
On the injury front–Fort Wayne RF Hunter Renfroe was hit by a pitch in his right hand in Saturday’s series opener against the Loons. The official word today is that it is a hand contusion–meaning no broken or fractured bones–and that he is day-to-day.
Tonight’s game is at 7:05, meaning John Nolan and I will join you at 6:45 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com. Hope to have you along.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, John Nolan catches up with Fort Wayne Manager Jose Valentin for our weekly Sunday chat. Valentin has the latest on Hunter Renfroe’s injured hand, he shares his memories of playing in the Little League World Series, and they even talk about the possibility of a snake in the clubhouse…seriously. Have a listen:
THIS ARTICLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY…
If you’ve listened to a TinCaps radio broadcast before, you’ll know we start with the Hupe Insurance Services Pre-game show, and that all pitching changes are brought to you by the law office of Harold Myers, a proud supporter of TinCaps baseball for 21 years and counting.
However, if you listen to a major league broadcast, you’ll notice a lot more sponsored elements, which are known as drop-ins. Richard Sandomir of The New York Times wrote yesterday about this growing intrusion into baseball broadcasts:
“Drop-ins have proliferated in recent years as radio stations have tried to offset the rising costs of broadcast rights. The baseball radio broadcast, for so long the soundtrack of summer with an almost sacrosanct rhythm of familiar voices, is now laden with paid advertisements for everything from the umpire lineup to the postgame wrap-up. Televised games have similarly been infiltrated, but not all of their drop-ins are read aloud.
With the narrative of the game turned into an adjunct for quickie ads, fans who once turned down the volume on their radios between innings to avoid commercials have no escape.
The phenomenon, playing out on airwaves around the country, is most pronounced in Yankees broadcasts. The first Yankees walk prompts, “Just walk into any of CityMD’s six convenient locations.” The announcement of the game’s umpires is brought to you by Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, a law firm specializing in asbestos exposure cases. The personal injury law firm Cellino & Barnes gets a plug when the announcers explain the broadcast’s copyright violation policy. A call to the bullpen comes with a nod to one of three sponsors: Aamco Car Care, Hyundai and the Tri-State Ford Dealers.
The postgame wrap-up show? That’s brought to you, naturally, by Reynolds Wrap.”
The bottom line is someone’s got to pay the bills for the rights fees associated with carrying MLB games on the radio, and the Yankees probably charge more for their broadcast right than anyone. What’s funny is that by the time the midway point of the season rolls around, we say these things so often that I can recite them by memory now. If you’ve ever got a question about the official natural energy booster of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, I’m your guy. (It’s honey, by the way.)
BEHIND THE MASK
Coming soon to this very space on the internet, I’ll be bringing you a feature on two former Midwest League umpires, Sam Vogt and Tim Hromada. The two are only former Midwest League umpires because, as of today, they’e been promoted to the California League. I chatted with them last week about life as an umpire. Here’s one segment of our chat in which I asked them despite the low odds of ever making it as a Major League Baseball umpire, why the continue trying to get there:
Tim: “Right now, just because I enjoy this at my young age. I have a girlfriend and everything, but I enjoy being around baseball. Just because someone’s telling you you can’t do something, that’s one of the hardest pills to swallow. But I still want to do it. I’ve always been that competitive person to where I’d like to at least try. It might not work out, but that’s fine. The experiences you gain and the people you get to know, your connections in life are so much greater and your relationships are so much better.”
Sam: I’ve grown so much in the past three years. I think it’s beneficial to me. I’m growing as a person. This job’s allowed me to have so many different perspectives on things, letting me travel the country, see different places, meet different people—that’s the biggest benefit for me right now even if I don’t end up as a major league umpire. If I didn’t think that this was beneficial to me, if I didn’t think that I would be able to go sit down in a room and get interviewed for a job, whatever the job may be if it’s teaching or a job at a company managing people, anything…if I didn’t think that this job provided me with a viable experience…where I could sit down in an interview and they say “Oh, you were an umpire. How did that benefit you?” I could tell them that I’m making thousands of decisions a year, split-second decisions that have an economic impact on players, the game. Rain situations that can cost the (general manager) a game, tens of thousands of dollars. Dealing with people, dealing with managers, diffusing situations. Every night you could have an array of unexpected problems. If I told a potential employer that I had to spend six months on the road with little to no supervision from the boss, be in a different city every three days, on time, never be late for work, never miss a day, never call off. For six months straight to go out there every night and make hundreds of decisions. I feel like it’s benefiting me right now, that’s why I’m sticking with it.”
Stay tuned for more on the life of a Minor League Baseball umpire.
SELLING GLASSES IS BIG BUSINESS
Ever heard of Warby Parker? Yeah, neither had I until today.
I came across this piece in The New Yorker on the relatively new online eyeglasses distributor that’s trying to take profits away from the big, established businesses in the industry. So far, they’re gaining ground:
“Two years ago, when someone asked if my glasses were Warby Parker, it was typically a stylish British woman or an actor/ironic bike messenger/model,” says a young entrepreneur who was tipped off to Warby Parker glasses by a friend at Harvard Business School. “Now it tends to be bros in Bears jerseys on the subway.”
I suppose that’s one demographic to have….
Another part of what the company, which has employees in either their 20′s or 30′s, does is to create an environment suitable to the people they’re hiring:
“Keeping employees happy isn’t just a nice thing to do; it’s good business. Which is part of what makes Warby Parker so attractive to investors like Amex, which got burned in the last dot-com boom….Earlier this year, the company conducted an internal survey asking employees why they were attracted to Warby Parker and why they’ve stayed. “And to both of those questions, compensation was dead last,” says Blumenthal. “It was culture and opportunity to learn and have an impact.” Every new employee gets a gift certificate to a Thai restaurant (the cuisine of choice during the company’s founding days); a copy of The Dharma Bums; a short history of the Puck Building; and a free pair of glasses, whether or not they need them. In the vein of start-ups, employees who stick around more than a year are offered equity.”
Shying away from the old-school model of business that requires a dress shirt and tie and strict office guidelines might be the wave of the future, at least as far as start-up businesses go. I wasn’t so interested in the glasses-selling aspect of this article as I was the cultural one. As more and more recent college graduates try and start their own businesses, it this how they’ll do it? Online businesses, I would think , require far less overhead than if a company were to have to replicate the entire manufacturing process with a factory of its own, when now it’s done cheaper and easier overseas, in this case it’s China. Food for thought…
Skrillex featuring Ellie Goulding…take it away!
Saturday saw the TinCaps go to extra innings against the Great Lakes Loons, and emerge the victors, 4-3, in the opener of a four-game series. Roman Madrid allowed a 10th-inning run but notched his 20th save of the season, helping Fort Wayne hang on an snap a three-game losing streak.
It was a treat yesterday to watch Great Lakes starter Julio Urias, a 17-year-old from Mexico, work for even just three innings. For a guy the Dodgers found while on a scouting trip to watch Yasiel Puig in Mexico, that’s a pretty good discovery. The Loons starter has a limited innings count, and understandably so at his age, but he looked like he could easily dominate a Midwest League lineup if allowed to pitch a start of six or seven innings. He showed off a fastball consistently in the low to mid 90′s, a good changeup and a stellar curveball that has a late, downward break and was baffling to TinCaps hitters. Urias struck out five batters in three innings, only allowing two singles.
He began the baseball season as a 16-year-old, and mwltraveler.com did a little digging, finding no 16-year-olds having played in the Midwest League since at least 1990. As far as 17-year-olds go, three of them have pitched in the league since 1998, with one of them being Felix Hernandez, who saw three games with Wisconsin in 2003. It’s entirely possible Urias could be here again next year, as he would be 17 for a majority of the season.
Today it’ll be a battle of first rounders, with the TinCaps sending Max Fried to the hill against Dodgers 2013 first-round pick Chris Anderson. Anderson, a native of Minnesota, was taken 18th overall this year, five spots behind Fort Wayne’s Hunter Renfroe. The Loons pitcher is only scheduled to go about three innings, or about 50 pitches, but no more. Coming off his college season at Jacksonville University (FL) where he threw more than 104 innings, he’s just here to see limited action.
Speaking of Renfroe, we’ll look to get an update on him today. He left yesterday’ game in the eighth inning after being hit in the hand by a pitch. Tune in for our pre-game show at 2:45 today, as we’ll talk with Jose Valentin to get the latest on Renfroe and what’s happening in the TinCaps clubhouse. You can join me and John Nolan on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne and TheFanFortWayne.com everywhere else.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, John Nolan chats with Padres Minor League Field Coordinator Randy Johnson:
Here are a few selections from the chat…
On Gabriel Quintana and his defensive struggles at third base this season:
“Gabriel, most of the time, he doesn’t use his feet as well as he should…He’s got a very accurate arm. He’s not the quickest guy out there and we’ve talked about maybe using him at first base or maybe second base in instructional league, but by no means does that mean we’ve given up on him at third base. He’s got the actions you’d like to see, just not as consistent as you’d hope.”
On how Johnson can help a player like Quintana improve during the season:
“The hardest thing you have to do with these kids is keep them confident and aggressive. Most kids when they’re scuffling, and I had happen to myself in the past, you lay back on balls and you don’t want the ball hit to you…Aggressive errors are OK, but when you’re lazy and you’re not getting yourself in position it’s unacceptable. He’s staying aggressive and he’s trying hard. It’s frustrating for the pitchers, I know, and it’s frustrating for him. We almost gave up on him at third base three years ago, but we like the strides he’s made as far as his technique. Hopefully next year he’ll come in and have better confidence and start off better and we’ll see a more consistent fielder in Gabe next year.”
On what he’s noticed different between the TinCaps in the first half vs. the second half:
“I never thought they’d play as well as they did in the first half. It was exciting to see and it was outstanding for them to get in the playoff like that. We expect them to be around .500. I think some of these kids are getting worn out. A lot of these guys it’s their first real full year and it’s taxing. It’s a long season. Our starting pitching staff , pretty much all of them it’s their first full year in baseball..You look around the field and a lot of the guys are in the same boat. It’s hard to keep them focused, to keep them from burning themselves out. They all want to work so hard and occasionally you have to tell them to step back and sometime less is more.”
SO LONG FOR NOW
On Friday the Phillies, who are 53-69 and 21.5 games out of first place, deicded to fire Manager Charlie Manuel. Matt Gelb, the Phillies beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a nice tribute to the skipper, including this note on Manuel’s linguistic adventures:
“Everyone laughed at the way Manuel said things. Brad Lidge had a hibiscus injury, not a meniscus problem. Domonic Brown did not fracture his hamate, he broke his ham bone. Martin Prado became Pardo, and we started calling him Don. That was Manuel’s greatest trick. Humor is required to survive 162 games of baseball and six weeks of spring training. “You hear his country accent and think he’s a little bit slow,” Jimmy Rollins said, “but he’s sharp as a tack.”
Manuel once said he keeps five copies of Ted Williams’ Science of Hitting in his house. Four are in bathrooms and another is in the den. Five more copies reside in a closet just in case a visitor has somehow never read the book.”
Manuel was a Midwest League player at one time, starring for the 1967 Wisconsin Rapids Twins. He later came back to manage that team in its last season in 1983.
A WILD WALK-OFF WIN
Double-A Baseball has already provided us with the one-pitch strikeout earlier this season, and now the Eastern League brings us the walk-off walk…sort of. As the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays) were attempting to issue an intentional walk to Reynaldo Rodriguez of the New Britain Rock Cats (Twins), pitcher Alan Farina winged an intentional ball over his catcher, allowing the winning run to score.
Click here to see the video (courtesy of Deadspin).
In case you weren’t aware, a new sports television network, Fox Sports 1, launched yesterday morning. Some of the big news over the summer regarding who the network would have on the air was about the two anchors they hired: Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. The two used to do the Canadian version of SportsCenter together, and come with a long history of being a talented and funny duo. Much has been written about whether Fox Sports 1 can be a challenger to ESPN, when it comes to both live sports and highlight/talk shows, but only time will tell. However, FS1 released a “best of” video from the first show with Onrait and O’Toole last night, and it’s pretty funny:
My favorite part comes at the 1:00 mark with the NFL promo. It’s just so off the wall that it cracked me up. Hopefully more funny things to come from those two.
Electric Light Orchestra…take it away!