Although Thursday’s game started with a bang, it ended with nothing more than a fizzle for the TinCaps, who did not put a runner on base over the last four innings of the game. The final 13 men came up to the plate, and went right back to the dugout, without more than a step toward first base. Fort Wayne lost, 4-1, to South Bend, leaving August 2, 2012, the last time they won at Coveleski Stadium, hanging over their heads.
The highlight of the night was this–and inside-the-park home run from third baseman Diego Goris:
How does a third baseman hit an inside-the-park home run, you ask? Let’s take a look at this picture first:
Notice that grassy, terraced area in right field? That’s where South Bend right fielder Socrates Brito ended up after chasing Goris’ hit. Diego hit just a small pop-fly to the right field line that Brito charged in on, but missed. Brito kept running, leaping over the fence and into the grassy area, while the ball rolled all the way to the corner, 336 feet away from home plate. Both South Bend’s second baseman and center fielder chased after it, but Goris was rumbling around third by the time they got to the ball, and finished off the play with a round-tripper.
Fort Wayne will look to avoid a three-game sweep after having come into the series on a three-game winning streak. Joe Ross takes the mound tonight for a 7:35 first pitch in South Bend. I’ll be joined by Mike Maahs for the radio call, which starts at 7:15 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com. Hope you’ll join us.
A CHAT WITH THE MANAGER
For yesterday’s pre-game conversation, I sat down with Silver Hawks Manager Mark Haley, who’s in his ninth year with the club, having been in South Bend since 2005. He lives in nearby Granger, Indiana, which is one of the reasons he enjoys being in South Bend so much. I figured he might be able to share some wisdom on how he’s getting his club to play so well, despite the fact that they, like the TinCaps have qualified for the playoffs. In the first half, South Bend went 44-25, while Fort Wayne was 43-26. In the second half, however, South Bend is 28-19 while Fort Wayne is 17-29, sitting in last place in the second-half standings.
The first thing I wanted to know from him was how he’s kept his team playing so well after the All-Star break:
“From day one, even when we clinched it in the first half, the motto in the locker room is “we haven’t done anything yet.” We won the first half, but we’ve gotta go out there and play hard. We’ve gotta get better. Our goal is to get in the big leagues and the only way you’re going to do that is playing this game the right way….You’ve gotta go out and play every day and be prepared every day because it’s your career…The bottom line is they’ve gotta win in Arizona (the parent club of South Bend). Every game we play, it’s one game closer to where we want to be and don’t take it for granted. We don’t have time to have any lapses or look back at what we accomplished. We haven’t accomplished anything. We’ve got a ticket to the dance, but we don’t know who we’re gonna take and if we’re gonna have fun at it or not…If you’ve got a locker room full of guys who are pulling for each other, it makes it a little easier and they know that we’re here to win ballgames.”
We got to talking about South Bend’s most prolific hitter, 20-year-old Brandon Drury, who’s hitting .313 and hasn’t had his average dip below .300 since May 18th. Drury was sent to Arizona from the Atlanta organization in the off-season trade for outfielder Justin Upton. We also talked about 2012 TinCaps closer Matt Stites, who was recently involved in a trade to the Arizona organization. Haley mentioned that Stites gave him “a lot of sleepless nights” last year, but also made a larger point about why it’s important to keep playing well individually, even if a team is in the playoffs–there’s always someone watching:
“That’s what I tell our players. When you go out there even if you’re 20 games down in the race, August comes and you perform well against other organizations, you want to get on their computer list of having good grades, good skill grades so when a trade comes up you’re going to have the opportunity to play somewhere else. You don’t play just for your organization. You develop that way and you create their identity, but you’ve got to realize that there are a lot of other opportunities out there. Every time you take infield (practice), every time you take the field, somebody’s watching. They want to give you that opportunity and you’ve got to show that you deserve it.”
Haley reiterated that his players understand that there are always other pro scouts watching, which is why his team goes out to take infield practice every day. Not only do MLB organizations have amateur scouts, the ones who find players to be drafted, but they also have pro scouts, who are looking and evaluating for players that one day might be involved in a trade. So, when a “player to be named later” is included in a deal or a minor leaguer is involved, there’s a lot of scouting that goes into that, too.
To hear our full conversation, including Haley’s thoughts on ripped jeans (you’ll have to listen to understand), check out the podcast below:
A CHAT WITH THE OWNER
During the game yesterday, South Bend’s second-year owner Andrew Berlin. He bought the team on November 11, 2011, and has made massive efforts to turn the franchise around from where it was under the previous ownership, headed by former Indiana governor Joe Kernan.
Kernan took on a great deal of debt to operate the Silver Hawks and has not had the resources to fully promote and market the team. The club never turned a profit in his six years with the team.
“We are selling the team for less that what we bought it for,” said Kernan.
Many offers have been made to purchase the Silver Hawks in recent years, but Kernan rejected them because the prospective buyers planned to move the team.
“Joe is a great guy,” said Berlin. “He has dedicated himself to his country, his city and his state. Joe kept the team in town. I plan to do my darnedest to make sure it thrives.”
In 2011, South Bend drew a franchise-record low 112,895 fans for 64 openings at Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium, an average crowd of 1,762. The Silver Hawks ranked 13th in the 16-team Class-A Midwest League in attendance.
After buying the team, Berlin signed a 20-year lease with the city of South Bend for the ballpark. Last year, he told me yesterday, the attendance rose 68% from 2011, and this year the attendance is 25% ahead of 2012. He’s also put in $12 million in private money for renovations, which include a new team store, 30-foot-tall inflatables, a 36-jet splash pad in right field, among other things.
Berlin said the stadium was “a tired ballpark”, before his arrival. ”We’ve turned the team around, and financially it’s secure now, virtually no debt on the team.” One of his plans is to, at some point, bring natural grass back to Coveleski Stadium. It’s the only turf surface in the league, and he calls himself a “purist” who would like to see grass at The Cove. From talking to players, they seem to prefer that it be grass.
Perhaps one of the more interesting touches that Berlin, a minority owner of the White Sox, has added to the stadium is where the hot dogs come from. While trying to draw fans from Indiana and Michigan, the hot dogs come from Massachusetts.
“Baseball writers of America are surveyed every year,” he said, “who’s got the best hotdog in a major league ballpark? Fenway (Park in Boston) ended up getting the nod two years in a row…We ship the hot dogs in from Massachusetts and we’ve got the best hot dog in baseball.”
Though he likes the Silver Hawks, Berlin, the owner of the eponymous Berlin Packaging, says one day he’d like to own the White Sox, who are currently owned by Jerry Reinsdorf.
“Yes, I’m happy in South Bend, and that doesn’t have to end,” Berlin told me. “Yes, I’d like to own the White Sox and I’ve made my desire clear, but at the same time in order to buy the White Sox, (they) have to be for sale…I’m ready financially, I’m ready emotionally, and I’m ready, I believe, with the kind of business acumen to at least learn what I need to learn to make it a great team.”
South Bend is currently the only team in the league with no media presence. Although formerly on WSBT radio and then, in recent years, internet only broadcasts, they currently are not on the air at all. Berlin hopes to change that.
“We’d like to have the team on TV and on the radio. I think that, even for the folks who can’t make it to the ballpark, to start exposing them to the team…Being on TV and radio, it gives the folks the opportunity to get to know the team better…We’re going to start televising games here locally, and we’ll look to expand it. The TinCaps have done a nice job with that with Comcast.”
Lastly, we talked about where the Silver Hawks looked for ideas and inspiration when trying to re-vamp the experience at Coveleski Stadium. He told me that since the Oakland A’s were voted as having the best music in baseball because they play the best of the 60′s and 70′s, so now that’s what the Silver Hawks play between innings.
“Almost everybody likes the Beatles, almost everybody likes Journey, Led Zeppelin. You’ll find that in a lot of our music we play the best of the 60′s and 70′s.”
My favorite nugget from the whole interview was when he shared the detail about how they spruced up their mascot.
“The Diamondbacks taught us to spray our mascot with cotton candy cologne. It’s like catnip for kids. And I’ve got to tell you, we’ve got the best-smelling mascot in all of Minor League Baseball.
To hear our full conversation, listen to the podcast below:
Green Day…take it away!
With a little bit of extra time prior to yesterday’s game because of a 30-minute rain delay, perhaps the TinCaps reflected on how they’ve struggled against the Silver Hawks this year, perhaps they didn’t. It was game 114 after all, just another day in what can be a long, arduous baseball season. Whatever they did during that thirty minutes didn’t change much, though, as they lost, 5-2, to South Bend in the opener of a three-game series.
South Bend, which has won 12 of the 14 meetings between the two teams this season, didn’t allow Fort Wayne to score a run until the ninth inning. And even then, they truly allowed the TinCaps to score a run, as two bases-loaded walks were issued and the TinCaps scored without the benefit of a run-scoring hit.
I talked with Manager Jose Valentin earlier today and he said, as he has many times here in the second half, that his team has not made adjustments and lacked the will to win yesterday’s game. The larger point that he made was that therein lies the difference between his team and players at the big-league level. In the majors, he said, players will realize who they’re facing on the mound, and whether they’ve gone against that pitcher before.
That called to mind an article that appeared in The New York Times in 2006, written about then -Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado, who used to keep a notebook detailing his every at-bat:
While other players mope after strikeouts and celebrate after home runs, Delgado goes right to his notebook, often bypassing the Gatorade cooler. He writes the name of the pitcher he faced, how many runners were on base, how many men were out and what pitch sequence he saw. The words are translated into baseball shorthand — fastball outside is “fb away,” curveball inside is “cb in.” Finally, Delgado adds how he did.
Although scouting reports can show the different ways that pitchers attack left- and right-handed hitters, they rarely show how pitchers attack specific batters. Delgado’s notes give him some idea of the game plan against him. If a pitcher traditionally tries to get ahead of him with a fastball away, he can compensate accordingly. If a pitcher usually tries to strike him out with a slider, he can prepare for it.
“I like this better than the scouting reports because it makes you recognize how they are pitching to you,” Delgado said. “I can go back and see patterns.”
I’ve not heard of any hitters on the TinCaps doing anything like this, but I’m interested to find out how hitters do go about trying to recall previous at bats. Tonight’s starter for South Bend, Kyle Winkler, faced the TinCaps on June 20th and threw three scoreless innings of relief. A small sample size, but a body of work nonetheless.
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
Mike Maahs caught up with Max Fried yesterday. To hear their conversation, listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:
RE-THINKING BATTING PRACTICE
Former MLB player Gabe Kapler, who spent 12 years in the big leagues and one year as an MiLB manager, is now offering his baseball insights on WEEI.com, the website of a Boston sports radio station. In his latest piece, “Our Turn to Learn: A Baseball Tradition Reconsidered“, Kapler takes a look at the ritual of batting practice and how it’s done in the US vs. how it takes place in Japan:
“I’ll expose myself a bit by saying I loved every minute of batting practice. I loved the controllable element of it. I knew I was getting a juicy, fat pitch and I was strong enough to put the ball in the seats at will on most days. Yeah, I’d get as much out of it as possible by envisioning scenarios like moving a runner from second to third base or scoring a guy from third base with less than two outs.
But was I actually getting better? I think the answer is yes, but only marginally so, and I know there is a better way.
I remember my first Japanese batting practice session as overwhelming and simultaneously exhilarating. Rather than our style, where a single turtle (a portable batting cage rolled in in an effort to save balls) is placed behind home plate, the Japanese have two of these devices side by side on the left and right of home plate. Each turtle has a catcher and two pitchers stand around 50 feet from the hitter, side by side, one left-handed and one right-handed.
The session was like a dance, similar to the rhythmic drums that became familiar in the stands during games. As one pitcher released the ball, the hitter on the other side made contact. “CRACK, pause, CRACK,” echoed throughout the park.
The fielders were blessed with consistent opportunities to take live balls off the bat, arguably the most valuable element of American B.P. Defenders need ground and fly balls at game speed as well, which are nearly impossible to simulate with a coach-hit ball smacked by a fungo bat. As you can imagine, swings are more plentiful and time is saved with the Japanese system.”
Here’s a picture of the dual-turtle setup:
“Casey McGehee, currently playing for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, reminded me, “The B.P. throwers are animals. They throw from about 50 feet and are letting it eat (throwing hard)! Also, hitters will have the throwers mix in sliders, changeups, curveballs — whatever you want. I really enjoy the way that they do B.P. because I feel it is much more game-like than what you get in the States.”
Batting practice pitchers in Japan are often former professional pitchers. I was shocked to find out, as Casey mentioned, that not only could I request middle-middle sinkers (like I did the day of my rare, stuffed-animal-yielding homer) and hanging breaking balls in BP, but I could request a located off-speed pitch, and the guy throwing had the ability to deliver on the request.
It all made more sense when I found out that these men are sometimes paid in excess of the equivalent of $100,000 a year to take good care of the hitters’ needs as they prepare themselves for battle. They don’t have additional responsibilities, like our coaches do, and they can focus on being great at presenting as close to game situation practice as possible. They are highly incentivized to excel. If they’re unable to satisfy the needs of the hitter, they might find themselves in another line of work.”
Would this ever catch hold in the United States? Probably not. But it is an interesting perspective on what is a long and perhaps ineffective ritual in the U.S.
THE LIFE OF A NON-MILLIONAIRE PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE
Clint Irwin, a pro soccer player with the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, recently took to his keyboard to let people know about the not-so-glamorous life of being a professional athlete when you’re not playing at the highest tiers of your sport.
Journaling his travels, he wrote the following in 2011:
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a road trip this much. For one, it’s probably not good when you stay at a hotel and it’s an improvement on your current living situations. Instead of six people with one shower, its one shower between two. The mattresses and pillows on the bed were heavenly compared to the IKEA bunk beds we sleep on at the house. Free meals don’t hurt either. On a sidenote: The preparation for the first game could not have been more unprofessional. The night before the game, we were served Chinese takeaway food. Not ideal. As we looked forward to a nice continental breakfast Saturday morning, we were greeted with assorted yet meager pastries, apples and oranges and juice. No sign of eggs, sausage, bacon or any sort of protein. No cereal or oats either. For lunch (keep in mind kickoff is at 6pm) at 3pm we were served the left over Chinese takeaway in the staff breakroom in the basement of the hotel. Welcome to professional soccer in Canada.
Later, he discusses the challenges of what it means for your life holistically when deciding to pursue a sport full time:
Actual life in the minor leagues means moving back in with your parents or living in a house with more than a few teammates, working another job, taking on some coaching responsibilities, and not spending your money. Most pro athletes engage in a high-intensity, two- to three-hour workout and have the rest of the day to recover. Then they wake up and do it again. I did the three-hour workout—and then went to my desk job at noon, attempted to switch gears to normal work, then headed out at 6 p.m. to coach youth soccer. It’s asking a lot to reach optimal performance when you do this every day. For many players at that level, this is life. And if you get married and have to support a family, it’s basically time to retire.
All of this sounds very familiar to the life of a Minor League Baseball player, except that soccer players probably make more than baseball players do, at least with the $35,125 he lists as the salary he takes in from his current contract. A list of all MLS salaries is posted here. Players in the Midwest League make about $1,100 per month and don’t get paid in the off-season, so their haul is considerably less than the rookie contract for an MLS player. Then again, the structure of soccer is different in that teams aren’t having to pay hundreds of minor leaguers in an effort to fill 25 spots on the roster of their top team.
As is my stance with the whole “Should college athletes be compensated?” debate, I think we should be cognizant of all the things that go into a professional athlete’s decision to play their sport, no matter how much they make. For instance, a college athlete receives a free education, valued somewhere around $200,000 to $250,000 along with tons of free food, travel, clothing and educational assistance. Most students in America cannot afford that. I don’t think college athletes should be paid. They’re choosing to play that sport and are generously compensated in ways other than with money.
When it comes to professional athletes at the bottom of their sport, and Low-A baseball is a perfect example, no one is forcing them to play. They know going into it that a) the odds are against them and b) that the pay they’ll receive isn’t great. It’s their choice. Sure, it’s jarring to hear that a salary can be $1,100 a month, but they’re also getting the opportunity to do something that so many people would love to do if given the chance. Why do we watch sports and attend sporting events? Some go for the drama of the event, but others go to live vicariously through the athletes. So, yes, does it make life hard to not make a lot of money? Sure. But don’t tell that to someone who works an hourly gig at a retail store or a fast-food restaurant. There won’t be any sympathy there.
John Mayer…take it away!
TRYING TO WIN ON THE ROAD
Tonight at 7:05 the TinCaps take on the Silver Hawks for the 14th time this season, and Fort Wayne is looking for its first victory of the season in South Bend.
It was a little bit rainy as we rumbled into South Bend this afternoon, with the skies opening up and turning grey, but the forecast looks good for tonight’s action.
The TinCaps, believe it or not, haven’t picked up a win in South Bend since August 1st of last year. The Silver Hawks have taken 11 of the 13 matchups between the two teams this year. The pressure will be on Matthew Shepherd to try and continue a streak of red-hot pitching that has shown up over the last four days from TinCaps starters. Between Joe Ross, Walker Weickel, Zach Eflin and Max Fried, there have only been three runs allowed by starters in the last four games, spanning 23 innings.
Max Fried will be tonight’s pre-game guest when our radio coverage gets underway tonight at 6:45 on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com. I’ll be joined by Mike Maahs for the next three games, and I hope you can join us.
To hear post-game thoughts from Jose Valentin after yesterday’s 3-1 win over Lansing, listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:
FROM THE TRANSACTION WIRE
A few roster moves throughout the Padres farm system today:
-Outfielder Donavan Tate, who played with the TinCaps in 2011 and 2012, played his last game September 7, 2012. Today he’s been assigned to short-season Eugene, and will try and re-vamp his baseball career after some off the field issues.
-Pitcher Keyvius Sampson, who tore up the Midwest League in 2011, has been promoted to Triple-A Tucson.
Oh, and you might be interested in this one, too (via a tweet from the Eugene Emeralds):
Well, then. Hmmm. This means the TinCaps will be getting a new outfielder soon. Renfroe, as you might know from reading this blog, was the first pick by San Diego in this year’s draft.
I awoke yesterday in Los Angeles around 3AM PT to make my way back to Parkview Field. Throughout the course of my day, I flew from Los Angeles, to Dallas, to Chicago and then, finally, to Fort Wayne. I was a little surprised to find that security at LAX was pretty easy, included very little hassle and had a small line, which was nice. Granted, with as many people fly through that airport, they’ve got lots of checkpoints.
But for airports that funnel everyone through one security checkpoint, the security process can be slow:
“Ladies and gentlemen, remove your belts, shoes, and overgarments. But if you’re over 75 or under 12, these rules don’t apply to you. Do you have any gels, liquids or aerosols? Are all of your papers and loose change out of your pockets? EVERYTHING must come out of your pockets. Please hold your hands over your head. Wait here, sir. Please come with me sir. Please take that tissue out of your pocket and go through the scanner again. Is this your bag, sir? We’re going to need to run that through again.”
The New York Times editorial board has weighed in on this topic rather sensibly:
The former head of the T.S.A., Kip Hawley, has argued that the agency should allow passengers to carry on all liquids, in any quantity. As a safeguard against explosives, passengers would simply have to put their liters of Evian in gray bins and pass them through scanners. Mr. Hawley sees reasons for keeping footwear checks, but those, too, are of questionable value. Passengers do not remove their shoes in the European Union, or even in Israel, one of the world’s most security-conscious countries, with a famously stringent screening process.
It is time to stop pretending that annoying protocols like these are all that stand between us and devastation. The most effective security innovation post-9/11 was also the simplest: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, which has made it virtually impossible to hijack an aircraft.
My best defense at this point is just wearing slip-on shoes and basketball warm-up pants that don’t require a belt (for both comfort and convenience) while traveling by plane.
Becky G…take it away!
The Padres’ first-round selection in June’s draft, Hunter Renfroe, could be coming to Fort Wayne soon. The 13th overall pick out of Mississippi State plays tonight in the Northwest League’s All-Star Game in Everett, Washington. Renfroe hit .302 in 23 first-half games in the Northwest League for Eugene. The outfielder drove in 16 runs on four home runs. But it should’ve been five.
We go back to Sunday night with Eugene playing at Tri-City in Pasco, Washington. Renfroe’s batting in the top of the fourth inning with Anthony Torres at first base and no one out. The right-handed batter launched a line-drive over the wall in left field. Only instead of a home run it was a single.
“When I hit the ball, I thought it was a no-doubter, but when [Torres] saw the trajectory, he started sprinting back to first base,” Renfroe said. “I was just trying to get a double out of it and I was running hard and I had too much speed built up.
“Suddenly, I thought, ‘Holy [cow], where’s Torres?’ I saw that I’d gone by him and I said, ‘Hurry up, get in front of me real fast,’ but it was too late. It kind of [stinks], but it happened.”
“It’s irritating, yeah, but I hit the ball hard all night,” the Mississippi State product said. “I’ve swung the bat well all week, I just didn’t have anything falling for me. But I did my job. I was hitting the ball hard and the team won. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Official Rules: 7.00 The Runner
Any runner is out when –
(h) He passes a preceding runner before such runner is out
I’ve never witnessed such a play when the ball was hit over(!) the fence. The only thing it reminds me of is when Robin Ventura hit a grand slam for the Mets to win Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS that only counted for a single because his teammates mobbed him between first and second base.
Ventura didn’t matter as a base-runner so it was inconsequential. I was always felt bad for him, though, that he never got to make that euphoric trot around the bases.
TINCAPS IN THE NEWS
Check out some recent articles about 2013 TinCaps:
* Earlier this year, Mike wrote in this space about hitting coach Morgan Burkhart’s background in construction and independent league ball before cracking into the majors with the Red Sox and Royals. Josh Chapin of the Palladium-Item caught up with Morgan recently for an even more extensive look back at Morgan’s heyday in Richmond. Some really great anecdotes in there about the “Babe Ruth of the Frontier League.”
* Trevor Gott was featured in his hometown Lexington Herald-Leader by Tom Hurley.
* After Zach Eflin’s dominating outing last night against Lansing, MiLB.com talked to Zach about his recent success. Interesting quote in there by Zach, who said, “Early in the season, I felt like I didn’t really deserve to be in low A. I felt like an older guy deserved my spot, but now I feel like I fit in. I’m a lot more confident with my pitches, throwing a lot more strikes, pitching low and pitching to contact. It’s all starting to come together.”
You can also catch my post-game conversation with Zach and a full video recap below:
MUMFORD & COMEDIANS
Totally unrelated to anything we’ve been talking about here, have you seen the new Mumford & Sons music video? Actually, there is a TinCaps tie-in. Our broadcast partner Mike Maahs is a big fan of the band of the English folk band. Anyway, Mumford & Sons’ new music video for “Hopeless Wanderer” is hilarious in that they have comedians Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Will Forte spoof them. Enjoy!
More music. Tonight’s game features the “Intern Olympics” for between-inning fun. So John Williams…. Take. It. Away…
There are gray clouds hanging over Parkview Field at the moment as we get set for tonight’s game against the Lansing Lugnuts. And the clouds just seem fitting given the news of the day — baseball finally announcing its suspension of those connected to Biogenesis-gate.
In journalism class they teach you to “localize” national stories, so here we go…
Did You Know?: Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended by Major League
Baseball today through the 2014 season for his role in the Biogenesis case, hit
the first home run of his professional career in Fort Wayne on April 24, 1994 as
a member of the Appleton Foxes (now the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers).
Rodriguez, who ranks fifth in MLB history with 647 home runs, hit his first pro
homer at Memorial Stadium when the TinCaps were called the Wizards.
TinCaps Rehabber Suspended: San Diego Padres shortstop Everth
Cabrera, who played for the TinCaps on a Major League Rehab assignment on
July 2 and 3 at South Bend, was suspended by Major League Baseball today
for 50 games for his role in the Biogenesis case. Cabrera went 0-for-7 with one
walk and a run. On July 3, Cabrera became one of only two TinCaps players
this season to strike out four times in a game.
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
MiLB Stolen Base Leaders Since July 5
1. Terrance Gore (Class-A Lexington) – 22
2. Mallex Smith (Class-A Fort Wayne) – 21
3. Jose Peraza (Class-A Rome) – 19
T7. Billy Hamilton (Triple-A Louisville) – 16
Opening Day Starters (Days on DL)
DH Mallex Smith (May 1-14)
2B Maxx Tissenbaum (Placed on DL today)
LF Jeremy Baltz (June 7-20)
C Dane Phillips
3B Gabriel Quintana (May 29-July 17)
1B Luis Tejada (July 12-27)
RF Corey Adamson
CF Brian Adams
SS Stephen Carmon (June 10-Present)
Alberth Martinez Marvels
7 Games Since Coming Off DL: 9-for26 (.346), 3 Doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBI
9 Games Since Coming Off DL: 2-for-30 (.067), 1 RBI, 0 BB, 8 K
Ace of the Staff
Zach Eflin’s Numbers By Month
April: 0-2, 6.06 ERA (4 Starts)
May: 2-2, 2.25 ERA (5 Starts)
June: 2-0, 2.57 ERA (4 Starts)
July: 1-1, 2.40 ERA (5 Starts)
Top MWL ERAs Since May
1. Dylan Floro (BG) – 1.72
2. Kyle Helisek (PEO) – 2.17
3. Tyler Pike (CLI) – 2.30
4. Zach Eflin (FW) – 2.39
5. Colton Cain (QC) – 2.43
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU
The TinCaps are hosting “It’s All About You” Night at Parkview Field on Friday, August 23, when the TinCaps entertain the South Bend Silver Hawks at 7:05 p.m. As part of “It’s All About You Night,” TinCaps fans have the opportunity to decide 14 different elements of the game through an online vote.
Beginning Monday, August 5, at 12:00 p.m., fans can visit the TinCaps’ Facebook page to vote for various details of the Friday night game on the 23rd. Each weekday between August 5 and 22, a different variable will be on the ballot for 24 hours.
For example, fans will determine which color jerseys both the TinCaps and the Silver Hawks wear, as well as how the field will be mowed and which sale will be offered in The Orchard Team Store. Check here for the full listing.
This one goes out to Keirsh Cochran. O.A.R., take it away…
The last 24 hours at Parkview Field saw 6 hours and 43 minutes-worth of baseball and Lord knows how many bags of popcorn. In that time, the TinCaps lost twice (woof) and won once. It was also Parkview Field’s first ever Bark in the Park. Hence, that “woof.”
Let’s start with the bad news, first. In a battle to stay out of the East Division’s second half basement on Saturday night, the last-place TinCaps lost to the second-to-last-place Lugnuts, 5-3. Afterward, Fort Wayne manager José Valentín continued to “keep it 100,” as some would say (or for those who aren’t “some,” he was honest).
“I don’t know how much they want it,” Valentín said. “I don’t know how much they want to get out of here. I don’t know how much they want to win or get better.”
Even after the skipper’s calling out, Fort Wayne was flat in the front-end of its doubleheader Sunday, a 3-2 loss. It was yet another quality outing by Joe Ross wasted by paltry production from the bats.
The TinCaps salvaged the weekend, though, by returning the favor to the Lugnuts with a 3-2 win of their own in part deux of the double-dip.
Hear more of Valentín’s take on the TinCaps in Mike Maahs’ Sunday chat with the skipper below:
MIDWEST BASEBALL ODYSSEY
Being a native of New Jersey, I don’t get to see too many familiar faces from home at Parkview Field. The visit from my family two weeks ago and a couple friends who went to Notre Dame back in April were the only exceptions until Saturday night. Dan Sohler, a friend from my high school alma mater, St. Joe’s in Metuchen, happened to be passing through the Summit City as part of a week-long sojourn to see Midwestern baseball stadiums.
Here’s Dan’s itinerary:
* Friday: Classic Park – TinCaps at Lake County
* Saturday: Parkview Field – TinCaps vs. Lansing (By the way, we made a TinCaps fan out of Dan — he got a hat and shirt!)
* Sunday: Miller Park – Brewers vs. Nationals
* Monday: Field of Dreams in Iowa (Day); Ashford University Field – Clinton vs. Kane County (Night)
U.S. Cellular Field Comiskey Park – White Sox vs. Yankees
* Wednesday: Great American Ball Park – Reds vs. A’s (Day); Huntington Park – Columbus vs. Toledo (Night)
That’s a heckuva schedule if you’re a baseball – and travel – lover. We’ll have to check back with Dan for a recap of his trip later on, but his initial line on PVF was: “How a baseball stadium should be.”
HALL OF A SPEECH
Hard to fathom, but as we’ve been writing this, the NFL has kicked off its 2013 season with the Hall of Fame Game. (*Insert Jim Mora’s voice asking, “WHAT?!?”) I was preoccupied with the TinCaps’ game Saturday night to catch the induction ceremony in Canton, but saw enough people I admire on social media compliment Bill Parcells’ speech that I made sure to watch it this morning. I’m somewhat partial to Parcells since he’s from New Jersey and helped bring the Jets (who I rooted for growing up) from 1-16 to the Super Bowl in two seasons. (Correction: The Jets were beating the Broncos 10-0 in the 3rd quarter of the 1998 AFC Championship Game but then my grandmother called to tell my dad how excited she was, and the Jets went on to lose 23-10. Ugh. Still love ya, Gram, but that was a jinx!)
Anyway, hat tip to my Uncle Jim for bringing my attention to a great line from Parcells in this speech:
“Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the coaches and players in other little groups. Winners assemble as a team.”
All in all, I think Parcells delivered a nice mix of sincerity, humor, and inspiration:
After Bark in the Park, I gotta do it to ya… Baha Men, take it away!
Don’t act like you don’t love you a one-hit wonder! Thanks for reading!
Yesterday’s 7-5 TinCaps win at Lake County wasn’t always pretty, but that’s not what counts. Fort Wayne got out to a 3-0 lead, and saw that disappear with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. Matthew Shepherd, winless in his first four starts, was one out away from completing five innings in line for a win, and then Richard Stock hit a three-run homer to tie the game. Shepherd, as fate goes, then got the next batter out on a weak dribbler back to the mound.
Perhaps the star of the game was TinCaps reliever Matt Chabot, who gave up just one run over three innings, keeping things close for his team to eventually score four runs over the final three innings of the game. Yesterday also marked the return of Roman Madrid, who was reinstated from the disabled list and pitched for the first time since July 20th. He notched his league-leading 16th save, but allowed a run and had the tying runs on base in the bottom of the ninth before putting the Captains to bed.
Tonight marks the opener of a five-game, four-day series against the Lugnuts. Something really cool tonight, by the way: the TinCaps are offering individual tickets to The 400 Club for tonight’s game only. It’s the first, and perhaps the only time, that’s going to happen this season, so jump on that offer ASAP.
First pitch tonight is at 7:05 and tomorrow is a doubleheader with a 2:05 start time, so make sure to mark your calendars for that one.
Additionally, I’ll be out of town for the next two days. I’ll be in Long Beach, California, working at the Adidas Nations basketball tournament. Along with Dave Telep and Paul Biancardi, I’ll have the call of two games there Monday night at 7ET and 9ET on ESPNU, and I’ll be back on Tuesday for the TinCaps game. John Nolan will have you covered here on the blog and on XFINITY 81, joining Kent Hormann on TV.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I chat with Fort Wayne starting pitcher Max Fried, who took the hill two nights ago. He debunks the myth that just because a player was in high school last year, that his arm is tired at this point in the season. We also discuss his curveball control, and what he does when he doesn’t have it. Lastly, I ask him what’s the best piece of advice he’s gotten this year. His answer might surprise you:
WALES? IS THAT A COUNTRY?
NBC Sports Network will be carrying English Premier League Soccer very soon, and just released a laugh-out-loud funny video promoting their coverage. It stars former Saturday Night Live cast member Jason Sudeikis as a “football” coach, who’s pretty clueless. Enjoy:
Last week Dallas Radio personality Kidd Kraddick passed away at the age of 53. Kraddick was at a charity event, raising money in New Orleans and his death was sudden. He was one of the most popular radio hosts in the country, having been on the air in that market since 1984. There were a lot of pieces written about him, but the one that stood out the most to me was this one, written by Dallas radio host Gordon Keith. He writes a column for The Dallas Morning News, and always brings a thoughtful take to the table.
When I heard Kidd had died, it felt unbelievable and understandable. If anyone burned the candle at both ends, it was Kidd. That man went all the time. He could seemingly live on diet sodas, energy drinks and the euphoria of sleep deprivation. Many of us are like that. We go all the time, and our world feels like it demands it. But no one wants to leave the party with unused time, and 53 is young. I don’t care what my 24-year-old self says. Despite good work, sometimes big hearts give out.
We often make the mistake of thinking we aren’t going to die for the silliest of reasons: We’ve never died before. It’s one of the strange byproducts of learned experience. So we push our bodies and luck. In the end, we kill the greatest gift we have — our life — to give to others. To many, it seems natural to care for the ones you love, but selfish to care for yourself. Maybe it’s a more digestible act of love for a weary working woman to take care of her child’s mother, even if she can’t stomach taking care of herself.
One exercise that therapists and advice columnists suggest people do is to write their own obituaries. It’s actually a meaningful exercise, to see how your current life looks in the final assessment. It will bring your shortcomings into relief, and you’ll always realize it’s later than you think.
Kidd Kraddick’s life became so much bigger than an old black-and-white parking lot glossy. He entertained millions and burned brightly. His obituary will be forever filled with superlatives and the sentiments of strangers. Most of us will never get an obit so grand, but we will have one, whether it’s published or not. And I know that I’m not satisfied with my current draft.
I didnt know Kraddick or his work, but I was still taken by this column by Keith. Then, I got a phone call Wednesday around 11:50 a.m.. It was from Evan Lepler, who has worked as the analyst on the two ESPN Ultimate Frisbee broadcasts I’ve done play-by-play for this year. I answered the phone and said, “Hey, I’m about to go on the air, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy our conversation.” I didn’t. He let me know that Tom Domer, who was the producer for our broadcasts, had died at the age of 63.
I went back to my email, and saw that, yes, I had just emailed Tom a week prior. I had just worked with him in North Carolina two weeks earlier. Now, I would never see him again. Perhaps it’s because of my age that I haven’t had many people in my adult life pass away, so this was a strange experience.
Tom wasn’t someone I was close to–we had worked together twice for a total of six days–but I still felt like I knew him, and that our relationship would continue to grow over time. So many times when people close to us die, they are loved ones who go because of old age or disease, and we know that their death is imminent. This was the complete opposite.
During the baseball season, the players and staff around the clubhouse become more than family to you. Whatever the next level is, it’s more than that. No one in their right mind would spend 12 hours a day with the same group of 30 people for six months straight, but that’s essentially what baseball season is. And you make it work. You make room for the other people on the bus, you learn about their families, where they’re from, what makes them tick and what their goals are. That’s the only way to make it work. But then, one day, a player gets promoted, and he’s not on the team anymore and you don’t have contact with him. Someone who might have been a vital part of the clubhouse atmosphere, or someone to say hi to every day because he’d offer good conversation, like Jeremy Baltz was this season, is all of a sudden in Lake Elsinore and likely not coming back once the All-Star break rolls around.
To be clear, I am not saying that a player promotion is in any way equivalent to the death of someone. I’m just trying to draw the closest parallel I know in this situation. This is the first time that someone I’ve known in my adult life has died. The last time someone I knew died was when I was in fifth grade and my grandmother died. I cried, but I think it was more because everyone else was than that I could say I knew her very well.
So when someone you know all of a sudden isn’t there anymore, you start to ask yourself questions…What didn’t I say that I wish I would have? What did I always want to know about that person? Was I the best I could have been to that person?
As Keith suggests with writing one’s own living obituary, I think it’s a good reflection to take stock of our relationships with everyone in our lives, and see if they’re where we’d like them do be. Whether it’s in a professional setting in a clubhouse with a baseball player, working with a television producer, or in a personal element. This past week and that unexpected phone call provided plenty of time for thought. It was good, but difficult.
Wale…take it away!
Back-to-back wins proved elusive for the TinCaps Thursday at Lake County, as they lost, 3-2, on a walk-off fielder’s choice by Dorssys Paulino. Tough way for that one to break, especially the considering Fort Wayne held a 2-0 lead through the first six innings of the game.
Max Fried pitched good, but not his best, over six innings. His curveball control eluded him for the most part, and he relied on his fastball for his four strikeouts. Joe Church entered in relief in the seventh and gave up two runs. Jorge Guzman pitched a perfect eighth, but was doomed by a leadoff double in the ninth, which ultimately led to Todd Hankins scoring the game-winning run.
The loss was the first time that an opponent has had a walk-off win against the TinCaps this season. Unfortunately, it was the second come-from-behind win for the Captains in three days. They won, 10-9, Tuesday after trailing, 8-1, and then did it again yesterday. The season series between these two teams was an even 8-8 last year, and right now it’s at 9-8 in favor of Fort Wayne, with today’s game the last time these two are scheduled to meet during the regular season. Last year that 8-8 number was more significant, though, as these two teams were neck-and-neck-and-neck with West Michigan for the second-half wild-card spot.
Tonight’s game is a 7:00 start time, and I’ll be on the air at 6:40 with pre-game coverage on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com. Hope to have you along.
To hear my Thursday pre-game chat with the long-time play-by-play voice of the Lake County Captains, listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:
Fort Wayne will face Captains pitcher Robbie Aviles in tonight’s series finale, and Aviles, like many other pitchers in Minor League Baseball, has undergone Tommy John Surgery, which repairs the ulnar collateral ligament in the pitcher’s throwing arm. Unfortunately for Aviles, it happened to him in high school prior to the MLB draft, likely costing him a lot of money when it came time to sign with a team.
Robbie Aviles has learned a lot since joining the Indians’ organization. Time off is necessary, even for the pros: The Indians’ throwing program does not start until Jan. 1, which gives pitchers two to three months off.
But just because pitchers aren’t throwing in game situations, it doesn’t mean they can’t continue to strengthen their arms.
“You really have to train your arm to be able to throw that much. It’s like any other muscle in your body; you have to build it up,” Robbie Aviles said. “I would say the shoulder program is the No. 1 thing that not many high school kids do that I think would be the most beneficial to them.”
Aviles said long tossing is a big part of building arm strength, as are lightweight shoulder exercises that build up the rotator cuff and scapular.
This game will be just the ninth start of the season for Aviles. He faced the TinCaps in his first outing of the year, pitching four scoreless innings and earning a win.
HEAR ABOUT THIS?
Last night’s Texas League (Double-A) game between Midland and Corpus Christi featured a strikeout during which the pitcher only threw one strike. How’s that possible, you ask?
Well, it all starts with Midland’s Vinnie Catricala:
Vinnie, disagreeing with a called strike one, stepped out of the batter’s box. Home plate umpire Ron Teague ordered Catricala to get back in the box and, when Vinnie didn’t get back in, Teague called an “automatic strike” (which is the umpire’s discretionary right). A third automatic strike followed, after which Vinnie (who had now struck out on “one pitch”) was ejected.
We’ve seen plenty of opportunities for a four-strikeout inning (when a batter reaches base on a strikeout/wild pitch), but I can’t say I’ve ever seen that one happen. Teague was a Midwest League umpire last year, and was injured by the backswing of Lansing’s Kevin Patterson in a game against Fort Wayne. That put him on the shelf for about a week, but he was eventually promoted to Advanced-A. Good rulebook knowledge, Mr. Teague.
$180 FOR WHAT???
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by anything these days, but this story from New York City really took the cake on my Twitter timeline this morning:
NEW YORK (AP) — Bird poop for beauty?
That’s what goes into facials at a luxury spa where the traditional Japanese treatment using imported Asian nightingale excrement mixed with rice bran goes for $180 a pop.
About 100 women and men go into the Shizuka New York skin care salon, just off Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, each month to get the treatment, which is promoted as a way to keep the face soft and smooth using an enzyme in the poop to gently exfoliate the skin.
And there’s more!
On a recent afternoon in Manhattan, Mari Miyoshi arrived at the sixth-floor Shizuka New York spa to try the treatment for the first time.
“I’m a stressed-out New Yorker,” the 35-year-old occupational therapist announced as she reclined on a table, relaxing amid aromas of camellia, lavender and rose.
The story should really just end there, or at least that’s where you should stop reading. By Miyoshi’s logic, stressed out New Yorker = poop facial. What do people in Chicago, Los Angeles or Dallas do when they’re stressed? Actually, I take that question back….
The treatment begins with steam to open the pores and soften the skin. Cream is applied. And then comes what Bernstein calls “the nightingale part.”
She pours the cream-colored poop, dried and finely ground, into a bowl, mixing it with the rice bran using a small spatula. She applies the potion to Miyoshi’s face with a brush, rubbing it in with her hands.
Does it smell?
“Yes, but like toasted rice,” Miyoshi said.
Oh, so that makes it OK.
Foo Fighters…take it away!
Hey, didn’t the TinCaps just play the Captains? Yesterday? In Fort Wayne? Why, yes, yes they did. Due to a quirk in Midwest League scheduling this year, the two teams meet for two days here in Eastlake, Ohio, at Classic Park.
Fort Wayne snapped a five-game slide yesterday with a 4-3 win over the Captains at Parkview Field. Even then, TinCaps manager Jose Valentin wasn’t particularly pleased with his team’s play. After falling behind, 3-0, through six and one-half innings, Fort Wayne scored four times in the bottom of the seventh, securing all they’d need to pick up the win.
“I don’t think they responded,” Manager Jose Valentin told The Journal Gazette.. “It’s just a situation where, yeah we won, but it was just one good inning. All game, we just kept swinging and swinging until something happened.”
While swinging and swinging until something happens doesn’t sound bad, it also doesn’t entail having a plan at the plate, which is what bothers Valentin. His main issue with his team’s hitters is that players will face the same pitcher two or three times in a game, but not make adjustments against that pitcher as the game goes on.
“Why they keep (making the same mistakes), I don’t know. It’s not about me. It’s not about the hitting coach,” Valentin said. “They’ve been told about it. It doesn’t matter what type of hitting coach they have. When it’s time to do it, they have to do it.”
Tonight the TinCaps see Dylan Baker, who was born in Juneau, Alaska, (fun note: only 11 players born in Alaska have made the majors). We’ll try and find out if, indeed, one can see Russia from Alaska.
Also, the last time Fort Wayne saw Baker, he worked a season-best eight innings and limited the TinCaps to just two hits. However, his last outing saw him go just 1 2/3 innings and give up six runs. So, we’ll just have to wait and see which Baker shows up tonight.
LIFE ON THE ROAD
Due to a busy travel schedule, this is my first road trip with the TinCaps where I’ve ridden the bus in nearly a month. The team visited the Western Division, and I was out of town, and then they went up to Great Lakes and Dayton, two trips where I drove my own car. Today, I got on the bus with a sandwich from Kroger, and upon me taking it out of the grocery bag, TinCaps strength and conditioning coach Pat Trainor said it looked like I was eating a “Scooby Doo” sandwich. In other words, it looked like I was eating a feast. Thanks to his picture stitching skills, here’s what he meant:
That said, it was a delicious sandwich, and I enjoyed every bite of it.
I just finished “reading” George Carlin’s Last Words, his autobiography, published in 2009. (I actually listened to it on CD as I was driving last week and then finished the rest digitally) I’ve always enjoyed Carlin’s work, as he makes you think, really think, and also laugh quite a good bit, too. As he got to the final chapters of the book and started to talk about his really introspective path in his later years, which helped him develop some of his best material. What he revealed there is that, among other things, he not only enjoyed getting laughs, which was part of his job, but he also enjoyed the parts of his shows where no one laughed, because they were too busy thinking. “Pleasure in sheer ideas,” he said.
The book is narrated by Carlin’s brother, Patrick, who sounds just like George, which adds a lot to the book.
“No one is ever more him or herself then when they’re laughing,” George wrote. “They are completely open, completely themselves.” That’s why he liked making them laugh so much, because he could help put an idea into their head which they might have never considered before.
He enjoyed the ability, “to be able to say, stop in your tracks and consider this,” and actually get people to do it.
Carlin was a really smart guy. Troubled with drugs and alcohol, but smart.
Also, the next time you want to get a point across to someone, make them laugh first.
To hear Jose Valentin’s full post-game comments, listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:
Wale…take it away!
Tuesday night marked a return to Parkview Field for the TinCaps, their first home game since July 24th. It also looked like it might have broken a four-game Fort Wayne slide, following a three-game sweep against the Dayton Dragons over the weekend. That, however, was not the case, as the TinCaps coughed up leads of 5-0 and 8-1, eventually losing, 10-9, and blowing their largest lead of the year.
There’s understandable frustration around the clubhouse for this team, which has not won at Parkview Field in 11 days and has not won more than two games in a row since June 9-11. The search for answers to the team’s play has been futile so far in this second half, as the team has dipped into the basement of the Eastern Division standings. The TinCaps 12 wins are second-fewest to the 10 that Kane County has this half.
In his office after the game, Manager Jose Valentin was fed up with his team’s play:
“It’s hard to lose a game like that, when you’re up 8-1, and your starter can’t go five innings. It’s hard to explain….Defensively, we made a big (mistake) with one out and the bases loaded. (Maxx) Tissenbaum, instead of just getting an out (at first base) tried to turn a double play on a ball where there’s no way he could have turned a double play. He threw the ball away, they scored two, We always find a way to just turn the game around. We never find a way to keep the lead…I’ve got players in here with no instincts. Managers, coaches cannot teach in that situation. I’ve thrown all my bullets. I’ve run out of bullets. I don’t know what else I can do.”
“The same players that I had in the first half are the same players that I have here. Why they play that type of baseball? I don’t know. I don’t want to make any excuses. I don’t think they’re tired, they’re just not smart enough. I think they don’t know how to get out of the struggles. It sounds like they get down in a hole, (and) they quit. We’re working on it, we help them out, but the results are getting worse and worse and worse.”
Fort Wayne starter Walker Weickel went 4 1/3 innings and allowed a career-worst eight runs (five earned) and a season-high-tying nine hits.
The TinCaps Research Department was hard at work to find the last time that a seven-run lead evaporated in a loss, and you’ve got to go back to 2006 to find it.
It was May 6, 2006 and the Fort Wayne Wizards were taking on the Kane County Cougars in Geneva, Illinois. Future major leaguers Ernesto Frieri, Mike Baxter, Nick Hundley, and Jon Link all played that day, but they were just Midwest League players at the time. The Wizards went up, 7-0, after 3 1/2 innings, only to lose, 12-8. Of the 12 runs the team allowed that day, seven of them were unearned, due to four errors.
TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST
Here’s the full audio from Jose Valentin after last night’s game:
DO YOU LIKE VIN SCULLY?
The answer is yes.
Because you do, I recommend that you watch this interview: http://web.yesnetwork.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=29278535&topic_id=&tcid=vpp_copy_29278535&v=3
Since everyone’s been talking about ESPN’s feature on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (wonderfully written by Wright Thompson, I share that with you today. I haven’t finished reading it yet (I fell asleep reading it last night. Noon game, ya know..), but it’s got some terrific nuggets.
Citizen Cope…take it away!