Raining Wins, Love Fort Wayne, & Food for Thought

The TinCaps won their third in a row on Wednesday afternoon at Parkview Field to finish off a three-game sweep of Lake County. Even if the Captains are tied for the third fewest wins in all of Minor League Baseball with 11, the TinCaps looked about as good as they have all year in all three phases of the game. Fort Wayne was errorless on Monday, pitched a shutout on Tuesday, and the offense was stellar throughout. The TinCaps scored 25 runs on 33 hits in 24 innings at the plate. You can read our recap here. Below, manager Michael Collins talks after the game with WANE’s Glenn Marini.

Now the Summit City squad looks to continue surging against a better opponent in South Bend when a four-game series begins there tonight. The Silver Hawks took two of three from the TinCaps at Parkview Field two weeks ago, outscoring Fort Wayne 30-13.

As a fan, one of the drawbacks of South Bend’s Four Winds Field is that it has artificial turf as opposed to natural grass. On a day like today, though, that’s probably a good thing. According to weather.com, it’s been raining in Indiana for the last 1,200 hours. (Ok, that’s a lie. But some beef to pick with our friends at weather.com, don’t tell us there’s a 0% chance for rain in your hourly forecast when indeed it ends up raining. That’s happened multiple times this week, including right now. Just cover your bets by going with a measly 1% if you must.) Tonight’s low is 34 degrees. That’s Fahrenheit. To quote Jimmy Fallon: “Ew.”

LOVE, FORT WAYNE

This awful weather — which comes on the heels of finally hitting 80 degrees last week — is by no means exclusive to Indiana. However, it makes it a little challenging to love Fort Wayne at the moment. But fortunately, the fine folks at Visit Fort Wayne are here to remind you about all there is to love about Fort Wayne. In fact, last week Visit Fort Wayne launched a collection of short videos created by Fort Wayne locals to encourage and grow an adoration for the place the TinCaps call home. The series is called “Love, Fort Wayne” and TinCaps President Mike Nutter is one of those featured.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

So as we said, the TinCaps are on the road. Tonight’s the first of four in South Bend, followed by three at Lake County. In the case of traveling to South Bend, the team doesn’t stay overnight there. Instead, it’s a bus trip back-and-forth each day. Otherwise, though, when rating the accommodations of a hotel (or in some cases, motel) on the road, one of the things most Minor League Baseball players consider first is: “Is there a Chipotle nearby?” The closer the better.

The Colorado-based Mexican food chain has seen its popularity soar over the last five years. Fort Wayne is fortunate to have two of them, including one within walking distance of the apartment complex where most players live. Now in addition to craving their delectable food, there’s another reason to enjoy Chipotle. Starting today, their cups and bags will feature short essays by famous authors. It’s the brainchild of author Jonathan Safran Foer.

Jonathan Safran Foer was sitting at a Chipotle one day, when he realized that he had nothing to do while noshing on his burrito. He had neglected to bring a book or magazine, and he didn’t yet own a smartphone. “I really just wanted to die with frustration,” Foer told VF Daily.

Suddenly, the Eating Animals author (and vegetarian) had an idea: What if there were something truly good to read on his Chipotle cup? Or the bag? A few years earlier, he had met Steve Ells, Chipotle’s C.E.O., so he decided to write the executive an e-mail. “I said, ‘I bet a shitload of people go into your restaurants every day, and I bet some of them have very similar experiences, and even if they didn’t have that negative experience, they could have a positive experience if they had access to some kind of interesting text,’” Foer recalled. “And unlike McDonald’s, it’s not like they’re selling their surfaces to the highest bidder. They had nothing on their bags. So I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to just put some interesting stuff on it? Get really high-quality writers of different kinds, creating texts of different kinds that you just give to your customers as a service.’”

In addition to Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Michael Lewis are the other writers whose work you can read while you eat. You can read more about the project in this story by Vanity Fair‘s Kia Makarechi.

(Unrelated note: Has anyone else picked up on the inability of most people 40-and-up to correctly pronounce “Chipotle”? Or is it just my parents? This video leads me to think it’s an epidemic.)

MUSICAL GUEST

With all this talk about Mexican food, let’s pay tribute to the TinCaps’ slugger from Mexico, Fernando Perez. Here’s his walk-up music. Marc Anthony, take it away…

After you have Chipotle for dinner tonight, be sure to tune in to the TinCaps and Silver Hawks on The Fan 1380, TheFanFortWayne.com, or on the TuneIn radio app. Mike Couzens has the call. First pitch is at 7:05.

Thanks for stopping by.

For more musings on the TinCaps, Chipotle, and who knows what else, you can follow John on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Hoosiers Higlight Win & Putting A Cap on the Geyser Game

The TinCaps took their 2nd in a row over the Lake County Captains on Tuesday night at a wet Parkview Field. The weather was really the only thing slowing Fort Wayne down in a 7-0 win. But even with a 1 hour, 17 minute rain delay in the bottom of the fourth, the TinCaps rolled thanks in part to a part of Hoosiers. Starting pitcher Kyle Lloyd — who doesn’t necessarily self-describe as a Hoosier after he spent the early years of his life in California and Florida before moving to Carmel for high school and staying in Indiana for college at Evansville — threw four scoreless innings, while Josh VanMeter — the pride of Ossian — hit his first home run as a pro.

For more on the well-played shutout win, see XFINITY Channel 81’s recap with Mike Couzens and Javi De Jesus.

Last night’s rain delay was Fort Wayne’s first of the season. Previously, the TinCaps had a game in Clinton cancelled due to rain in advance of first pitch. There was also the snow-shortened game on April 14.  And then you can’t forget what happened two weeks ago today. Remember the last time Parkview Field hosted an 11:05 a.m. first pitch? Yes, it was the “Geyser Game.”

The bizarre incident put Fort Wayne in the national news. After popping up on everything from SportsCenter to The Today Show, last week it was voted Minor League Baseball’s “Play of the Week.” It’s a play that won’t soon be forgotten around these parts, or anywhere else for that matter, given how unique it was. However, if all you saw was the 1 minute, 22 second long clip, then you don’t have the full story. So on this two-week anniversary of the play, let’s go a bit more in depth…

First off, here is the play, and subsequent delay, in its entirety as Kent Hormann and Mike Couzens called it on XFINITY Channel 81.

Considering this was a play no one had ever seen before, you have to tip your cap to Kent, Mike, and the entire TinCaps Production Crew. Led by Melissa Darby, David Hentz, and Jared Law, the following folks who work behind-the-scenes are the ones who make it possible for the TinCaps to be one of only a handful of teams in all of Minor League Baseball to broadcast all 70 home games on TV: Tim Bajema, Mick Colacuori, Matt Craig, Chris Darby, Kale Devoe, Doug Ferguson, Brooks Hooley, Matt Jackson, Emily Jordan, Tim Keane, Carrier Martin, Zac Miklusak, Jose Morales, Alex Seitz, Brendan Shick, Mike Sutter, and Jamel Wynn.

Whether running a camera, operating a replay machine, or one of the other various roles that go into putting on a broadcast, these are thankless positions. During the course of a 70-game season, with games taking on average almost 3 hours, the vast majority of the time, quite frankly, there positions are boring. But, you never know when that “viral” moment could strike, and so it was great to see that even though no one was expecting something as wild as a geyser to erupt during a foul ball to the seats, everyone was on point. And more than on point,  they got some fantastic shots of the water spewing out from the ground, as well as the reactions of all the characters involved here — from the players to the grounds crew to the little kids enjoying the spontaneous splash dance party.

While the Production Crew was capturing the scene, how about the “first responders”? It’s rather ironic for a goofy play like this to happen at Parkview Field, where thee TinCaps Grounds Crew (who you can follow on Twitter, by the way) is widely regarded as one of the best in all of Minor League Baseball. Recall, they’ve won four straight Midwest League Grounds Crew of the Year awards and were tabbed best in all of Class A last year. Head Groundskeeper Keith Winter, Assistant Andrew Burnette, along with Scotty Rhodes and Jake Sperry spend more time at the field than the TinCaps’ players and staff. From sunrise to long after the final pitch, they have the surface at Parkview Field as immaculate as anywhere.

So again, what were the odds of Fernando Perez inadvertently kicking open this valve? Keith had the line of the year to put it in perspective:

The hose valve that was kicked yesterday occupies one square inch of field space. There are 90,000 square feet to the playing surface, or 12,960,000 square inches. Therefore, “It’s a one in almost 13 million shot, Doc.” (To quote Frank Costanza from the Fuscilli Jerry episode).

And while the Grounds Crew was quick to the scene, they weren’t the only ones who helped take care of the field. Kudos to quick-thinking relievers Kyle Lloyd and Justin Livengood, along with catcher Dane Phillips, who wasted no time in rolling the bullpen tarp out.

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All photos are credit to Jeff Nycz, who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Well, to capture the images at least. Maybe not for his equipment to get wet!

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But if you really want to talk about coming to the rescue, check out the effort of Buster Hughes, a member of the TinCaps Maintenance Team, who went ALL-OUT trying to cover the valve for the good of everyone else.

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 Assistant Director of Maintenance Donald Miller was right there as well. Those guys and their crew are the backbone of Parkview Field’s beauty. Buster is a boss.

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MUSICAL GUEST

Morning game at Parkview Field, so Diddy, take it away…

Runs, Runs, Runs

Monday night we saw the Good TinCaps at Parkview Field. Fort Wayne beat Lake County 10-5 in the opener of their three-game series. The TinCaps got a career-high 6 innings out of starter Patyon Baskette, who picked up his first Midwest League win, and at the plate, the bats were alive to the tune of 14 hits. Six different players had at least 2 hits, including Jake Bauers and Ryan Miller. The latter came up a triple shy of the cycle as he homered for the 2nd time in his last 3 games. For more on the win, see the XFINITY Channel  81 recap with Mike Couzens and former Fort Wayne pitcher Javi De Jesus.

Believe it or not, it was only the 3rd time in 12 tries that the TinCaps won a series opener. Now tonight Fort Wayne has a shot at winning a series for the 2nd time this season.

Last night was also the 4th time the TinCaps have scored 10 runs or more in a game. They’ve been something of a front-running club this year. Through 36 games, Fort Wayne has averaged 5.1 runs a contest. But if you break that down in wins versus losses, the difference is quite drastic. The TinCaps have averaged 7.4 runs in their 15 wins, while scoring only 3.4 in 21 losses. #themoreyouknow

To know even more about the TinCaps, take a listen to Mike Maahs’s conversation with TinCaps manager Michael Collins from before last night’s game.

Collins interview 

ELSEWHERE IN BASEBALL

* Camden, NJ — directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia — has the highest murder rate in the country. About 17 times higher, in fact, than the national average. With teenagers, and even pre-teens, easily getting caught up in the city’s drug-dealing and crime, Bryan Morton decided to start a Little League in Camden’s roughest neighborhood. This longform GQ story is sobering to read — there are ball fields named after kids who’ve been killed — but leaves you hopeful that baseball is helping to bring better days to Camden.

* Marlins starter Jose Fernandez — who some say is the best young pitcher in baseball — is sadly the latest young pitching star to blow out his elbow. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (and obligatory mention that he’s a Syracuse alum) writes on how MLB’s elbow epidemic is mowing through young pitchers and has no solution. According to Passan, Fernandez will become the 34th MLB pitcher to have Tommy John surgery since February 18. That’s one every 2.5 days.

For all we believe we know about how the arm works and how to best protect it from the vagaries of throwing a ball overhand, catastrophic injuries are at an all-time high across the sport, throwing into question the efficacy of the changes in baseball ostensibly meant to keep pitchers healthy.

Just think about the list of pitchers Fernandez could join who have undergone Tommy John since the end of last season: Matt Harvey, Patrick Corbin, Jarrod Parker, Matt Moore, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, A.J. Griffin, Ivan Nova and top prospect Jameson Taillon. Even amateurs aren’t immune. Jeff Hoffman, a projected top-five pick in the June draft, and Erick Fedde, expected to go in the top 10, both need UCL reconstructions.

Their average age is 24.2 years old.

* On a more fun note, how bout these bat flips out of Korea. The authors of baseball’s “Unwritten Rules” are probably rolling in their graves, but personally, we find this fun.

(H/T Deadspin)

MUSICAL GUEST

It’s Darius Rucker’s 48th birthday today, so why the heck not, Hootie And The Blowfish, take it away…

How about that video? Epic. Anyway, you can catch the TinCaps and Captains tonight on The Fan 1380, TheFanFortWayne.com, and the TuneIn Radio app beginning at 6:45. I’ll be with Mike Maahs. On the TV side, Couzens and De Jesus are on XFINITY 81 starting at 7:00. Thanks for stopping by. And remember you can be in touch on Twitter

Calm After The Storm

The TinCaps are back in action tonight at Parkview Field. Fort Wayne, and the rest of the Midwest League, had Sunday off. Mike Couzens summed it up nicely with this clip from Office Space.

But for anyone who did want to do something other than nothing, it was a lovely Mother’s Day weather-wise in Northeast Indiana — sunny and in the 70s — at least until the evening. That’s when major thunderstorms rolled through the area. Fortunately, though, as John Fogerty once said, “The sun came out today…”

And now the TinCaps are set to open up a three-game series against the Lake County Captains (Class-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians).

From our Game Notes, here are some storylines for the matchup…

A TinCaps Win Would… Avoid dropping to 8 games below .500 for the first time since 2012… Be Fort Wayne’s 3rd in a series-opening game this year (currently 2-9 in such games)… Be better than a loss.

Change Clothes and Go: Catcher Ryan Miller was transferred back to Fort Wayne’s roster today from Eugene. In turn, RHP Bryan Verbitsky has been transferred from Fort Wayne to extended spring training. Through 35 games this season, the TinCaps have had 32 roster moves. From the Opening Day roster, only 15 of 25 players are currently active.

frEE: The TinCaps are error-free in their last 20.2 innings stretching back to Thursday night at Dayton. With no errors Friday or Saturday, Fort Wayne has a chance tonight to play 3 consecutive errorless games for the first time in 2014. Previously, April 14-15 against Burlington was the only time the TinCaps had back-to-back games without a miscue.

Defying the Odds: Despite a population of just about 16,000, Defiance, Ohio, has produced more than its fair share of baseball talent, including tonight’s Lake County starter, Dace Kime. Other Defiance natives selected in the MLB Draft over the years: Doug Bair (PIT, 1971); Scott Taylor (BOS, 1988); Chad Billingsley (LAD, 2003); Jon Niese (NYM, 2005); Tyler Burgoon (SEA, 2010); Justin Hancock (SD, 2011). Hancock pitched for the TinCaps in 2012 and 2013.

Bats in May: Through 10 games this month, Jake Bauers (also known as 18-year-old Jake Bauers, the youngest player in the Midwest League) is hitting .400 (12-for-30). Meanwhile, Mallex Smith is batting .389 (14-for-36) in May with 7 stolen bases. Fernando Perez has a .368 (14-for-38) average this month with 10 RBI.

Keep your eye on the ball

HITTING THE LINKS

* Hope all Mothers out there had a Happy Mother’s Day. Although by saying that, I’m going against the original intentions of Anna Jarvis, the driving force behind making the day a holiday 100 years ago. Jarvis advocated for only celebrating your own mother. (And in that case, Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, Kathy!) The holiday quickly turned commercial and it drove her insane. National Geographic has the history here.

* From my home state, a tremendous story in the Newark Star-Ledger on a New Jersey high school student who isn’t letting cerebral palsy get in the way of his aspirations to be a sports broadcaster. “If you work hard, if you have a big hard, and if you have a whole lot of spirit, you can make anything happen. Dreams can come true.”

* And for any broadcaster, the dream is to one day be 1/10th as good as Vin Scully. The incomparable broadcaster discussed his career path, shared some classic Dodgers stories, and more in a conversation last week with WFAN’s Mike Francesa.

* Out at a baseball game, or elsewhere, have you ever had difficult in pouring ketchup out of the bottle? Or maybe it pours out too fast. Well this TED-Ed video helps explain the confusing properties of the solid-to-liquid-and-back-again substance.

* If you’re eating food with ketchup at a game and you’re of age, then why not have a beer, too, right? How ’bout a craft beer? Well what exactly constitutes a craft beer? This NPR article explains why the answer these days to what is a craft beer is confusing.

MUSICAL GUEST

Bringing things full circle, John Fogerty, take it away…

Thanks for reading. You can find tonight’s TinCaps coverage on XFINITY Channel 81 — if you’re a Comcast Indiana subscriber — beginning at 6:30. Otherwise, The Fan 1380, TheFanFortWayne.com, or the TuneIn Radio app has you covered. In the meantime, please be in touch in the comments or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Hoping Things Go Wright in Dayton

Last night the TinCaps lost, 7-4, in the opener of a three-game series. You can read about it here.

Tonight, they try to win the middle game of the set, sending righthander Adrian De Horta to the mound against left-hander and college basketball player Amir Garrett. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. Garrett, who is 22, spent two years playing basketball at St. John’s before transferring to Cal State-Northridge this past season and sitting out. The Reds drafted Garrett in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft out of high school basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep in Nevada.

Here are the headlines from today’s game notes:

Among the Best: Fort Wayne’s Fernando Perez and Dane Phillips have continued to swing their bats well into the month of May. Perez’s .328 average ranks seventh in the league, and Phillips, at .322, is good for 11th. Perez has 40 hits, which rank him third, and his 23 RBI are most on the team. Elsewhere, Mallex Smith has 22 stolen bases, which leads all of Minor and Major League Baseball.

Four Straight Southpaws: Dating back to Tuesday’s morning game at Lansing, the TinCaps tonight face their fourth straight left-handed starting pitcher. The lineup, which can feature as many as six left-handed bats, it hitting .269 against lefties and .250 against righties. In the last three games, Fort Wayne has hit .232 (23-99).

Where They Stand: The TinCaps have committed a Minor League Baseball-leading 71 errors through 33 games. The next two closest teams in that category are Lake County with 58 and the High Desert Mavericks of the California League, who have 54. The average number of errors per team (120 teams) in each league is as follows: Midwest – 40.8, South Atlantic – 37.9, California – 38.3, Carolina – 36.1, Florida State – 35.8, Texas – 39, Eastern – 29.7, Southern – 32.1, International – 28.1, Pacific Coast – 28.7. The Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, with 20 errors in 33 games, have the fewest errors in Minor League Baseball.

POM: The San Diego Padres today named Mallex Smith the organization’s baserunner of the month and Fernando Perez the fielder of the month.

Tonight’s broadcast, if you are so inclined to listen to me describing the sport of professional baseball on the radio concurrent to the time it is being played, begins at 6:45 on The Fan 1380, TheFanFortWayne.com, and on the TuneIn Radio app.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Prior to yesterday’s game, I spoke with TinCaps second baseman Josh VanMeter, who offered some good insight on his transition to the Midwest League, adjusting his diet as a professional athlete, living at home, and who he’s learned the most from in his short time with the TinCaps:

SELLOUT STREAK

From today’s Minor League Baseball newsletter:

“The Dayton Dragons are slated to extend their record consecutive sellout streak for a professional sports team to 1,000 games tomorrow night when they host Fort Wayne. Plans call for the unveiling of a banner commemorating the fans support of the team, complete with a drum roll provided by the Dayton Dragons drum line. When the game is considered an official game, fans will be recognized for their support, 1,000 balloons will be launched and fans will receive gifts from the team.”

On tonight’s pre-game show, I’ll chat with Dragons Executive Vice President Eric Deutsch, who has been here since 2000 and is an instrumental piece of the Dragons success. Hear that conversation at 6:50 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.

SHOUT OUT

To my great friend and Dragons Senior Marketing Manager, Samantha Weaver. Thank you for bringing me four AA batteries. Without that, I would not be able to record my broadcasts. I am eternally grateful to you. Go Bobcats.

samantha weaverbobcats



MUSICAL GUEST

OneRepublic…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

Buckeye State Bloviation or Sellout Streak Study

A pleasant good afternoon to you from Dayton, Ohio, the home of the Dayton Dragons, and the temporary home of the TinCaps for the next three days as they take on the Cincinnati Reds Midwest League affiliate.

Last night the TinCaps lost, 12-5, against the Lugnuts in the finale of their three-game series at Cooley Law School Stadium. The Fort Wayne bullpen gave up six runs over the their final three innings of work, putting a comeback attempt out of reach for the offense, which had 11 hits and went 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Tonight’s game, and all three in this series, will get going at 7:07, because the games are part of the Dragons’ TV package. The normally scheduled start time is 7:00 p.m. I’ll be on the air with pre-game coverage at 6:45 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com, or for those of you technologically savvy enough, we’re also on the TuneIn radio app. However, I might take that statement back, as my mother told me she was on the TuneIn App last night, so that’s proof you don’t have to be technologically savvy to use it. Please don’t write me out of your will, Mom.

If you’ve never been to Fifth Third Field, or heard about it, it holds a special place in sports history. The Dragons, formerly the Rockford Reds, came to town in 2000 and have sold out every game ever since. Full disclosure, I used to work for the Dragons in 2011, and when I was there, I did a story about the team coming to town and it’s reception. Anything sound familiar with a ballpark coming downtown??

Saturday is going to be the team’s 1000th consecutive sellout, which only adds to the record they already hold–the longest sellout streak in professional sports history. I was here for the record breaker–815–in 2011, and look forward to 1,000. That night in 2011, I interviewed many people (in fact I had a different guest on in each of the first 12 half-innings of the game!), and two of those were the team’s co-owners, Magic Johnson and Archie Griffin:

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I still have many friends in the team’s front office and broadcast booth, so it will be something special to be a part of. People always ask me what the secret is to the franchise having sold out so many games, and I think you’ve just got to see it to understand it. Put it on your baseball bucket list.

If you are so inclined, here’s the link to today’s game notes:

http://www.milb.com/documents/1/4/4/74749144/050814_at_DAY_2bww02ch.pdf

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Prior to Wednesday’s game, I chatted with Tuesday’s starter Kyle Lloyd, the California/Florida/Indiana resident who went to college at Evansville, but wasn’t so sure he’d get drafted. Hear about his first pro start and his busy childhood in this interview:

THAT’S SO MiLB

Soooooo, yesterday was Wednesday, also known to some as “Hump Day” (note: this commercial is no longer funny), and the Lansing Lugnuts took that to an extreme:

Yes, that is a real camel.

Yes, that is a real camel.

I know Lansing has a zoo, but I’m curious how much it costs to rent a camel. I don’t know…maybe the team bought it? It made one pre-game appearance, and unless it was on the concourse, I only saw it one other time, which was in the seventh, as it gave someone a ride from left field out to center and through the opening in the gate used by the grounds crew.

Your move, Great Lakes Loons.

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MUSICAL GUEST

John Mayer…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

Questions a Month In

We’ve got one more day here in Lansing, and then it’s off to Dayton. The TinCaps will play tonight for a series victory, which would be just their second of the season. Don’t forget, they swept Peoria April 17-19 at Parkview Field .Yesterday it was a 1-0 win over Lansing, with a great start from Kyle Lloyd and the lone RBI coming from Dane Phillips.

Fort Wayne sends Coby Cowgill to the mound in search of his third win. The right-hander from Virginia has led the TinCaps to a win in each of his first three starts, and is the only pitcher out of ten who have started a game for the team, to be able to say that.

Today is the second straight day that Fort Wayne faces a lefty, which would seem problematic given that the TinCaps can have, on a given night, five or six left-handed batters in their lineup. However, they’ve done better against left-handed pitching than they have against right-handed pitching. Go figure. Against righties, the team average is .250, and against lefties, it’s .275. In fact, two leftanders–Dane Phillips and Mallex Smith–are each hitting significantly better against lefties than righties. Phillips has a .357/.309 split and Smith a .320/.242 split. Bring on the lefties!

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I don’t know about you, but we’re 31 games in and I still can’t get quite figure out this year’s team. But then again, I don’t know that it has a true identity yet, either. There have been big wins (13-3, 15-10, 13-4) and big losses (9-0, 13-4, 10-5, 15-4, 10-3, 16-2) and shutout wins (4-0, 1-0), but rarely any consistency to this point. There have been four three-game losing streaks, a three-game winning streak, and a whole lot of roster moves in the first month. In the first 30 games, the TinCaps made a roster move on 12 different days, which is nearly one every two games. Walking into the clubhouse at times has been more like going to someone else’s family reunion that to a team that I’ve been working with for a month.

We are a little bit more than a month away from the All-Star break, and at that point, I think we’ll have a better feel for things. Does Jake Bauers continue to hit as well as he has? Do Dane Phillips and Mallex Smith stay in Fort Wayne or get promoted to join the rest of the 2013 TinCaps at Lake Elsinore? Does Walker Weickel live up to his supplemental first-round potential and shake off his 1-4, 7.81 ERA start?

Stay tuned…

And speaking of tuned…I hope you’ll join me for tonight’s radio broadcast on The Fan 1380. The game starts at 7:05, with pre-game coverage at 6:40, which can also be heard on TheFanFortWayne.com and the TuneIn Radio app.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Yesterday before the game, I spoke with Lugnuts broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler.

ON THE ROAD

There are a great variety of hotels that the team stays at when traversing the Midwest League, but Lansing’s Crowne Plaza, formerly the Lexington Hotel, is far and away my favorite, for the following reasons:

1) The internet not only works, but is extremely reliable. This cannot be underestimated.

2) The internet works.

3) The rooms are very nice, and last night I was offered free milk and cookies. I mean, come on.

4) There is a restaurant in the lobby and it is not Cracker Barrel, Arby’s or McDonald’s.

5) There is an independent coffee shop across the street.

6) An indoor basketball court:

Attention all other MWL hotels: You have been put on notice.

Attention all other MWL hotels: You have been put on notice.

I put some shots up this morning, although the number of them that fell through the hoop is negligible. It’s about exercise, folks.

MINI MASTERS

I’m not really a golf guy, but I do enjoy miniature golf, which is why Jim Nantz broadcasting the mini-golf “Masters” is absolutely hilarious to me, and I hope to you, too:

MUSICAL GUEST

The Black Crowes…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

Baseball in the Morning

Well, hello there, and welcome to this wonderful little corner of the internet which we’ve cultivated to talk about baseball. Here are the headlines for today’s game, which is scheduled to tip-off, er, kick, er, get going at 10:35.

What’s At Stake: Fort Wayne looks to win at Cooley Law School Stadium for the first time since June 26th, the team’s last visit to the ballpark…The TinCaps also try to snap a two-game slide and avoid moving to seven games under .500.

About Last Game: The TinCaps plated the game’s first run just two batters into the night after Mallex Smith led off with a triple, but couldn’t generate much more offense over the next few innings. Tom Robson, Lansing’s starter, retired the next 17 batters to come to the plate. The Lugnuts notched three runs off of starter Payton Baskette and one off of the bullpen for a series opening, 4-2 victory Monday night.

ID, Please: The TinCaps made two roster moves yesterday, adding Eric Yardley and Tony Wieber, making their roster a bit older. Both pitchers are 23, bumping the team’s average age to 21.8 years old. Compare that to Fort Wayne’s average opening day age, which was 20.7.

Lights, Please:Fort Wayne enters today’s ballgame with a 2-10 record in games played prior to 5:00 p.m. The team has seen a number of pre-twilight start times, including 10:35 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:05 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:05 p.m.

Abacus, Please: Yesterday’s two-run difference was the closest game the TinCaps played in nearly a week, since winning, 7-6, last Tuesday. The TinCaps have fared well when putting up big run totals—they’re 10-3 when they score at least five runs, but 2-15 if they score four or fewer runs in a game.

Especially in Michigan: This will be Fort Wayne’s ninth game in the state of Michigan this season. Fort Wayne is 2-6 in the Wolverine State in 2014.

Happy Birthday: Outfielder Mallex Smith turns 21 years old today.

About the Opponnent: The Lansing Lugnuts are a 10th-year partner of the Toronto Blue Jays. Since 1996, the Lansing franchise has sent 97 players to the Major Leagues, including names like Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Beltran, and Jeremy Giambi. The team, in its history dating back to 1955 (throughout various cities) has been affiliated with the Cubs, Royals, Padres, Indians and Red Sox.

Today’s game, heard on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne and TheFanFortWayne.com around the world is brought to you by…..

Mmmmmm

Mmmmmm

MUSICAL GUEST

DJ Vice…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

 

 

Weekly Readings

Hope you had a great weekend.

For the TinCaps, Saturday was one of the team’s most complete performances of the year. Not to mention the temperature was finally above 60. The sun was out. And a great crowd of 6,000+  was on hand at Parkview Field to make for a great atmosphere. On Derby day, Fort Wayne raced out to an 8-0 lead over South Bend through four innings, and coasted down the home stretch to an 8-4 win. Sunday didn’t go as well. Like 16-2 loss not as well. Now the TinCaps are on the road for six with three in Lansing (where Mike Couzens posted from earlier today) followed by three at Dayton.

#BIGFUN

In case you haven’t been one of the 67,809 fans who’ve been out to Parkview Field so far this season, wanted to share the team’s pregame video that plays on the giant video board up in right field before the team takes the field at home. The video — produced by PUNCH Films — features pitcher Walker Weickel, catcher Ryan Miller, and infielders Fernando Perez, Dustin Peterson, and Josh VanMeter. It’s pretty awesome if we do say so ourselves.

WEEKLY READINGS

During a seven-game homestand like Fort Wayne just had, it can be difficult to escape the “TinCaps bubble.” That’s to say there isn’t much time to keep up with the rest of the world. But here are a few links I came across that seemed worth sharing…

* We’ll start not with a tremendous story out of Idaho. No, this isn’t related to fresh fries at Five Guys. It’s less tasty, but way more inspiring. The Idaho Statesman tells the story of Eddie, a high school senior with Down syndrome who was given the chance to have an at-bat on Senior Night.

Back from getting tissues yet? This makes me think that maybe there’s hope for society after all. Hats off to everyone involved from both schools. And congrats to Eddie!

* Away from baseball for a moment, the one story that easily permeated the “TinCaps bubble” last week was Donald Sterling’s banishment from the NBA. Bomani Jones wrote about the danger of Sterling’s racism back in 2006. Unfortunately, his warning wasn’t heeded. But now with Sterling in the news, Jones — as a guest on Dan Le Batard’s radio program — explained why most people are up in arms for the wrong reasons here. If you want to learn a bit about the dangers of housing inequality, listen to Jones.

* Another well known voice who openly spoke out against Sterling before it became fashionable is ESPN’s Bill Simmons. Rolling Stone had an intriguing profile of the candid Sports Guy and how he’s gone from Boston bartender to celebrity.

* While that story shows how Simmons is no stranger to controversy, The New York Times published a piece on what behavioral scientists have discovered about the impact that interacting with strangers can have on us.

Simply acknowledging strangers on the street may alleviate their existential angst; and being acknowledged by others might do the same for us.

* And another good one from the Times, on the rise of #blessed.

MUSICAL GUEST

Word on the street is that warmer days are supposed to be comin’. Let’s hope by the time the TinCaps return from their road trip, we’ll have some “real” baseball weather at Parkview Field on May 12. Until then, Bruce, take it away…

Thanks for reading. If you have any good links to share, please send them this way on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

Especially in Michigan…

Greetings from Cooley Law School Stadium in Michigan’s state capital:

field

And the ballpark isn’t far from the state’s legislative home. Here’s the view from the middle of the street (as I went to go get coffee) outside the ballpark, facing west:

 

I don't recommend taking pictures in the middle of a busy street.

I don’t recommend taking pictures in the middle of a busy street.

And in case you’re unaware where Lansing is located within the state…don’t worry, there are stock photo actors ready to help you out:

I'd like to see people try and do this for Hawaii.

I’d like to see people try and do this for Hawaii.

In case you missed it, the TinCaps lost, 16-2, yesterday against South Bend. Moving right along…

NOTHING ANGELIC ABOUT IT, BUT IT WAS IN THE OUTFIELD

Yesterday’s game featured a Parkview Field first–a broadcast from the outfield.

outfield call

It was quite a good time, and reminded me of my time in the Cape Cod Baseball League, where a broadcast might originate from behind home plate in a press box, or down the first-base line strung together by a parade of extension cords. Yesterday’s broadcast sounded great and it’s something we hope to do again int the future.

ROSTER MOVES

The TinCaps roster carousel continues today:

RHP Erik Cabrera transferred to Short-Season Eugene. Cabrera Stats

C Ryan Miller transferred to Eugene. Miller Stats

RHP Tony Wieber transferred from extended spring training to Fort Wayne. Wieber Stats

RHP Eric Yardley transferred from extended spring training to Fort Wayne. Yardley Stats

Wieber is a former Michigan State Spartan, and he’s already got an interview request from a local outlet, which is nice for him. Wieber and Yardley are both first-time TinCaps, and are active for tonight’s game.

I’ll chat with shortstop Chase Jensen, whose first name isn’t really Chase, tonight on the pre-game show. Coverage starts at 6:45 and first pitch is at 7:05 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com. Talk to you on the radio.

MUSICAL GUEST

Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX (not sure how to pronounce that, so good luck)…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

 

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