Results tagged ‘ fort wayne tincaps ’

Some Like it Hot, Questions, Baseball to Biology and Back

SOME LIKE IT HOT

No, the TinCaps haven’t been watching Marilyn Monroe films on their bus rides, but they have played exceptionally well in temperatures north of 100 degrees the last two nights. July 4th yielded an 8-1 victory, and last night Fort Wayne exploded for eight more runs in an 8-3 defeat of the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

The start of the game was delayed about an hour as pop-up storms (no relation to pop-up video) swept through the area and brought some wind and rain to the ballpark. That didn’t seem to bother the TinCaps very much.

“After a long rain delay, they never hesitated. They went up there and threw the first punch,” said Manager Jose Valentin.

Starter Adys Portillo earned his sixth win of the year, throwing five innings of one-hit baseball. His Midwest League-leading ERA dropped to 1.65 from 1.76. It was also a monumental game in respect to his win total. Entering this season, he had picked up six victories in 46 starts. This year he has matched that win total in just 16 starts.

“It’s scary, but he didn’t have his best stuff, which is incredible,” said catcher Matt Colantonio. His fastball was a little up, and towards the end of his outing he started to look a little out of sync, but it was a great outing.”

The TinCaps provided four first-inning runs for Portillo, after they had given Frank Garces seven runs of support in the fourth inning on Wednesday.

“When you know that your offense is in the game and it doesn’t matter how many runs you give up, you can keep your confidence and make the pitches when you need them,” Valentin added.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear postgame comments from first baseman Zach Kometani, who drove in two runs in his first start for Fort Wayne since April 28th:

SAYS IT ALL

It may be hot here in Fort Wayne, but it’s not the only place experiencing brutally uncomfortable heat:

Caliente, to say the least.

YOUR QUESTIONS

Hmmm…Well, I don’t really think there’s a prank player in this locker room–at least not that I’ve seen or heard about. I will say that whenever I head down to the clubhouse, it’s probable that I may run into someone–particularly Cody Hebner, in an impromptu dance.

If you ever hear “Teach Me How to Dougie” playing on the Parkview Field sound system, turn your eyes to the video board in a hurry. You just might see a video clip of him showing off his dance skills…

If you’ve got any questions you’d like answered on the blog, please send them in–Couzens@TinCaps.com or @MikeCouzens on Twitter.

FROM BASEBALL TO BIOLOGY AND BACK

If you’re able to make it out to the ballpark, you might’ve noticed that I write a feature piece for each edition of our Game Day magazine. I’d like to share with you the latest, which features former Fort Wayne Wizard and current TinCaps Strength and Conditioning Coach Cliff Bartosh. Here’s the full text:

How a former Fort Wayne Wizard made his way back to the Summit City

It took two weeks for the phone to ring. Nearly 14 days had gone by before Cliff Bartosh found out he had been selected in the 29th round of the 1998 Major League Baseball draft by the San Diego Padres. Bartosh had aspirations of playing professional baseball, but wasn’t sure he’d be headed down that road. A phone call from late Padres scout Jim Dreyer changed Bartosh’s plans. He was scheduled to head to Texas Tech on a baseball scholarship, but instead chose to follow his dream and report to the Padres training complex in Peoria, Arizona.

“I started out as a first baseman and pitched a little bit (in high school). My junior year I might’ve thrown 12 or 13 innings for our varsity team. My senior year, maybe about 20 innings,” Bartosh said one afternoon while sitting in the home dugout at Parkview Field. “(Dreyer) said he never saw me pitch in high school, he only saw me take infield. So he only saw me throw the ball from first base, and he drafted me off of that. I didn’t know when the draft was.”

Cliff Bartosh’s life in baseball has revolved around other people dictating his path.

He made his way through the minor leagues with the Padres, and played at Memorial Stadium with the Fort Wayne Wizards in both 1999 and 2000. Although he was in the organization from 1998 until 2003, he didn’t make the big leagues with the Padres.

“After the ’03 season, (the Padres) sent me to the Arizona Fall League. I probably had the worst Arizona Fall League that anybody’s ever had in the history of that league. I just did absolutely terrible. (The Padres) end up with maybe a week left in the Arizona Fall League, and they take me off the 40-man roster and I’m picked up by Detroit. I go into the off season a Detroit Tiger. About December, I get a call from the Cleveland Indians saying, ‘We just claimed you off of waivers.’ I didn’t even know I had been placed on waivers,” Bartosh vividly recalls.

Cleveland, under then-General Manager Mark Shapiro, called Bartosh up from Triple-A Buffalo to make his major league debut on May 15, 2004, against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In March of 2005, Bartosh was traded to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ronald “Bear” Bay, who currently pitches for the Padres Triple-A affiliate in Tucson, Arizona. Once again, Bartosh’s destiny fluttered in the wind.

Bartosh pitched in the big leagues for the Cubs in 2005, but eventually underwent surgery for a torn labrum and rotator cuff, and by August of 2006 he hadn’t thrown a baseball in a year.

“I went home to Texas and my wife got a job teaching. I had no college at that point, and started going to school,” Bartosh says. “It’s weird because to that point, I had done (the baseball routine) for eight to nine seasons. It was the only quote-unquote job I had to that point. I had a wife and a son at that time, and I felt like I can’t just sit and wait for my arm to get better.”

While staying at home to be with his son, Bartosh took online classes at Dallas (Texas) County Community College. He studied government and history, and later transferred in 2008 to the University of Texas at Arlington, enrolling in the exercise science program.

“I got that degree when I was 30, and most guys (in school) were 18 to 22,” Bartosh says. “I got that degree and then decided, ‘Maybe I don’t want to be a strength coach.’ I got an alternative teaching certification. I took some tests to get a science endorsement, an ESL endorsement and a health endorsement.”

He became Mr. Bartosh, teaching at a middle school in his hometown of Duncanville, Texas.

“I taught a class called ‘Skills for Success’. I really don’t know what it was about. I had a set curriculum that I was supposed to teach and I did. My wife made fun of it because there was a chapter in the book that was on how to use a microwave. I didn’t have to teach that one; I didn’t feel it was necessary,” he remarks with a grin.

It was after that stint, and some time spent as an 8th grade science instructor, Bartosh decided to pack up his house, his belongings and his life, and head in a different direction.

“I’m sitting there teaching, and I’m feeling like I’m not really making an impact on these kids. I have a house and I’m living very comfortably. The more I read the gospels, the more I realized we’re maybe not supposed to be that comfortable. In the book of Mark, there’s the parable of the rich, young ruler. Christ says, ‘Sell everything, give to the poor and follow me.’”

“I’ve got a good house, a great job that pays the bills and all that, and we decided that we’re gonna sell our house and I started reaching out to people in baseball and I was fortunate that the big league strength coach here in San Diego, Jim Malone, was a minor league coordinator in Cleveland. I sent them my resume and they were crazy enough to hire me,” he says, mesmerized.

In his first year as the strength and conditioning coach with the TinCaps, Bartosh has a connection with the players that not many do—he’s one of their kind. He knows what it’s like to give up the game-tying home run, or to feel like your pitches just don’t work. He’s been there time and time again, but on someone else’s calendar. He’s now deciding his own fate, and making a difference on his time. No longer Mr. Bartosh, he’s just Cliff.

“It was very refreshing to get rid of everything that ties you down to an area. So now that I have no ties anywhere, really. Someone asked me where I was going to live in the off-season. I have no idea. I really don’t know where I’ll end up. I’m enjoying this. This is great. You get to develop relationships with players, with coaches, with other staff and hopefully that leads to lifelong friendships.”

MUSICAL GUEST

James Taylor…take it away!

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

The Hit Wagon, Festivity Photos, Voyage

“EVERYBODY HOPPED ON THE HIT WAGON”

That stupendous quote comes from TinCaps second baseman Tyler Stubblefield, as he described a seven-run fourth inning that Fort Wayne unloaded on Bowling Green at Parkview Field on Wednesday night.

He had one of the biggest at bats of the game, and it came in that fourth inning. With runners at second and third, the Hot Rods, with lefty Travis Whitmore at the plate, decided to issue an intentional walk to try and face Stubblefield, a right-handed hitter. While some batters might take that as a slight to their abilities, Stubblefield shrugged it off as part of the game and decided he was going to win the at-bat.

(more…)

The Avenger, Hambone, News Quiz

Monday night’s game didn’t have the same irregularities of extreme weather like Sunday’s game did, but it still featured a good amount of excitement. Duanel Jones connected on his second home run of the second half, and the TinCaps bullpen stole the show, as Fort Wayne rolled to its third consecutive win, and fourth straight series victory.

Cody Hebner went just three innings, his shortest outing of the year, but Dennis O’Grady had no trouble picking up the slack and he earned the win with three scoreless innings of relief.

A story that I found to be of particular intrigue was the appearance of Matt Stites out of the bullpen. It marked his fourth outing of the second half, and his first save opportunity since a June 4th game at Lake County. On that night, Stites faced MLB rehabber Carlos Santana, who hit a game-tying home run to right field, and the Captains went on to win 4-3 in 13 innings.

Monday night was a chance for Stites to avenge that June evening–and he did just that, earning his first save since June 1st. It was a 1-2-3 ninth for the righty, who’s  one of the best relief pitchers in the Midwest League. He has a 0.73 ERA in 21 games, with 24 2/3 innings of work under his belt. He’s given up only two earned runs, walked two and has struck out 29 batters.

Fort Wayne is now 8-3, alone atop the standings in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division. The TinCaps have either been the only team in first or tied for first for seven straight days. They’ve now secured four straight series victories in a row to open the second half. The last time Fort Wayne won four consecutive series was last August. If the TinCaps can keep this up, they’ll find themselves contenders down the stretch of the second half.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Matt Wisler as he tells us what book he’s reading, and how it’s helped him forge his approach on the mound:

HAMBONE

You’ve got to read this story on Josh Hamilton. No, really–you must. It includes anecdotes from his childhood, like this one:

“Eventually Josh had to be moved from shortstop to the outfield because his first baseman so feared catching Josh’s bullet throws that he began ducking out of harm’s way. Whenever Josh pitched, batters backed out of the box before he even began his windup and whenever Josh came to bat, all of the infielders retreated into the outfield, until finally complaints from opposing players’ parents prompted Josh’s promotion to a league of older kids. Josh and Landon played on a team sponsored by Mitchell’s Hair Styling and wore purple jerseys. They won three state championships in a row.

In one of those state tournaments, Josh pitched a total of 24 innings and never allowed a hit. The next season Josh won a Home Run Derby against a bunch of boys nearly twice his size. At that time, Josh was still scrawny, but he was so athletic and coordinated that he could run backward faster than the other kids could run forward.

Powell has never forgotten a conversation he had with Bob Sanderford, the father of one of Josh’s teammates. “Bob was a former college basketball player who knew youth sports really well and knew sports at a high level,” Powell says. “One day after a game when Josh had done something only Josh could do, Bob leaned over to me and he said, ‘That kid’s going to be the first player picked in the major league draft when he’s a senior in high school.'”

Josh was 10.”

ARE YOU UP TO DATE?

If you’ve been keeping up with current events, you’ll do well on this 12-question current events quiz from The New Yorker. If you haven’t been paying attention, well, you’ll score poorly.

Hint: The Supreme Court had a big week.

I got eight questions right.

Good luck.

MUSICAL GUEST

Led Zeppelin…take it away!

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

A Close Contest, A Padre Makes History, YouTube Famous

It wasn’t an easy game Saturday night for the TinCaps, but the end result was exactly what they were looking for, as they edged out a 4-3 win over the Loons and earned a series victory.

Colin Rea had perhaps the most interesting night of all, as the righthander, who turns 22 today–so happy birthday, Colin–left the ballgame after six innings as the pitcher of record on the losing end. He didn’t have a poor outing, it’s just that things didn’t necessarily go his way.

He allowed a second-inning solo home run to Pratt Maynard, the catcher’s first homer of the year, putting the TinCaps in a 1-0 hole. Fort Wayne tied it up in the top of the third, but Great Lakes came back with another run in the third. Jeff Hunt hit a comebacker to the mound and was credited with a single, but Rea’s throw to first sailed down the right field line and Hunt got to third and later scored. In the sixth, Rea gave up another solo home run and left with Great Lakes on top 3-1.

So he leaves looking like he’ll be the losing pitcher until…

the top of the seventh inning rolls around. Travis Jankowski clubbed a two-run triple and was later singled home by Travis Whitmore, making it a three-run inning for the TinCaps.

Daniel Cropper’s ninth-inning was a little gut-wrenching as the first two runners reached base, but he reared back to retire three in a row and secure his seventh save of the year.

The TinCaps have now won three series in a row and sit in first place in the Eastern Division. Albeit very early in the half–just nine games in–this team has played a markedly different brand of baseball from the first 70 games.

Part of the reason the team has been so successful in the first half has been the pitching of Adys Portillo. His struggles in 2011 are well chronicled, a 3-11 record and a 7.11 ERA. This year, his 1.76 ERA is the best in the entire league. I chatted with him before Saturday’s game to talk about his great season. Among the highlights:

On playing winter ball in Venezuela:

“There are a lot of big league players there. I remember I faced Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, a lot of big leaguers. When I came this year to spring training and I saw the hitters, I felt really good about (my situation). Last year I tried to strike out everybody. This year I try to get a spot and hit that spot. This year I am a pitcher. Last year I just tried to throw the ball. Now I’m a pitcher.”

On confidence:

“When you’re a pitcher and you go to the mound and you have a confidence in your fastball and your breaking pitch, you just go out there and hit the spots. I say, ‘Ok, I’m gonna throw my fastball now and he doesn’t have a chance. He’s not gonna hit me. I’m gonna throw my breaking pitch and he’s gonna hit a ground ball.’ (Pitching Coach) Willie (Blair) told me to just think about when you’re going to throw the fastball, what’s going to happen after you throw the fastball.”

On pitching in the All-Star game and potential advancement:

“I remember I called my mom and said “Wow, Mom, I can’t believe it after I had a bad year last year and now I’m in the All-Star game, I got the ball for the first pitch, I started and I won.’ My goal is to finish at another level (this year) if that cannot happen, then I’m going to keep working hard here and see what happens next year. When I look at the numbers this year, I say ‘wow’, finally I’ve got some results because I’ve worked hard. Now I feel really good, I feel happy and I enjoy every time when I go to the mound.”

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, you can hear my full conversation with Adys Portillo:

(more…)

A Seawolf Arrives, A Unique Circumstance, Baseball’s Fastest Man

A SEAWOLF ARRIVES

Outfielder Donavan Tate was promoted to Lake Elsinore on Thursday, leaving the TinCaps with an empty roster spot.  I pondered yesterday on the blog as to who might fill the spot, and then an answer came: Travis Jankowski.

The 44th overall pick in this June’s draft, the outfielder from Stony Brook University became the 22nd first or supplemental first-round pick to be sent to Fort Wayne since the Padres began their affiliation with the franchise in 1999.

After getting a 6AM flight from Arizona, Jankowski arrived at Dow Diamond shortly after 5:00 PM, and then promptly hit the field for batting practice wearing his #17 jersey. He hit leadoff for the TinCaps, meaning that for the first time all year, Jace Peterson hit somewhere other than in the number one spot. Fittingly, Peterson was as close as he could be and ended up hitting second.

An eager Jankowski, 21, swung at the first pitch he saw in a Fort Wayne uniform and blooped it into left field for a base hit. Unfortunately for the TinCaps, they’d only record three more hits for the rest of the game, with two of them coming in the ninth inning.

Jankowski is not the likeliest of candidates to have been drafted as a supplemental first round pick. He thought he’d end up playing college football, after only one school, Stony Brook University in New York, offered him a scholarship.

“I didn’t know where Stony Brook was or what a Seawolf was,” Jankowski told the New York Daily News.

But as baseball goes, if you can play, they will find you. This past summer, Jankowski won the MVP award in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, the nation’s top wood bat circuit for college players. He hit an astounding .329 there, where if players hit .229, it’s not a bad season. Most folks say that with the transition to a wood bat, losing 100 points off of your average is expected. This season on a run to the College World Series, he hit .412 and Stony Brook led the country with 52 wins.

Now he’s hitting leadoff for the TinCaps and he got the start in center field on Friday night, going 1-4 at the plate.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, you can hear my conversation with Travis Jankowski:

A UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCE

Friday presented a situation which I’d never encountered: the power at the radio station that carries our games, 1380 ESPN, was out. A big storm swept through Fort Wayne on Friday afternoon, and according to some estimates left 80,000 people without power.

Because of this extreme circumstance, I was invited to join the radio broadcast of Brad Golder and Jared Sandler, the two radio guys for the Great Lakes Loons. Brad and Jared are two of my favorite guys in the league, and we had a great time getting to discuss one another’s teams. I give great thanks to them, and to ESPN 100.9 General Manager Jerry O’Donnell for having me on the air.

As it turns out, I was doing play-by-play for the fourth inning when the second Loons run scored. The Loons put up a ‘big play’ of the game on their video board at the end of the game, and it happened to be my call. I’m not sure if that makes me good luck or back luck. It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose.

With that, I hope to be back on 1380 ESPN tonight for our normal broadcast. Keep an eye on the TinCaps’ Twitter and Facebook pages, as if there is any update to the broadcast, I’ll post the information there. Thanks for your patience.

RECORD PACE

If you haven’t heard of Billy Hamilton, it’s not too late to learn about baseball’s fastest man. We’ve talked about him some on the blog this year, but I wanted to bring to your attention just how crazy a season this Reds’ farmhand is having. He played in Dayton last year and stole 103 bases in 135 games. This year, one level higher with Bakersfield of the California League, he’s already stolen 96 bases in 75 games. At the All-Star break he had stolen 80, putting him on pace for a record-shattering 160, which would demolish the record set in 1984. Vince Coleman, playing in 1984 for the Macon Redbirds of the South Atlantic League, stole 145 bases.

Watching Billy last year, you’d think “There’s no way anyone could break Coleman’s record.” Now you think, “How could he not break the record?”

The most stolen bases any TinCaps player has had in a game this year is two. Two weeks ago, Hamilton stole five bases in a single game.

Here’s part of a feature piece on Hamilton from The Greenville News:

“If I can pull the pitcher’s attention or even the infielders’ attention away from the hitter, I think it helps making it easier on my guy at the plate. I know what I am capable of. People come to see me steal bases, and that’s what I do. My goal every game is to steal bases and score runs.”

Hamilton doesn’t know what the Reds have planned for his future. The major league team already has a rookie shortstop in former Ole Miss standout Zach Cozart and veteran Brandon Phillips at second base.

A switch to the outfield or second base for Hamilton, who is rated as the Reds’ top minor league prospect, could hasten his move up the ladder.

For now, Hamilton is sticking with shortstop and his next step could be to Class AA Pensacola, Fla.

MUSICAL GUEST

The Rolling Stones…take it away!

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

Triple Shot, Reader Questions, Team in Perspective

It would have been difficult to ask for a better finish to the TinCaps’ game against Lansing on Wednesday afternoon. Trailing 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Fort Wayne rallied for two runs–an Austin Hedges homer to tie and a Kyle Gaedele RBI single to win–to defeat the Lugnuts 3-2. With the victory, the TinCaps won the series two games to one and secured a 4-2 record on the half-opening home stand. It was the first time Fort Wayne had won a series from Lansing dating back to August of last year.

The bats have come to life in the second half, the pitching has kept the team in games and now they’ll have to do it on the road. Today the TinCaps open a three-game series with the Great Lakes Loons (3-3) at Dow Diamond. The Loons have struggled pitching-wise, and Fort Wayne will certainly look to capitalize on that aspect of the game. The 2012 draft is already starting its trickle-down into the Midwest League, as Duke von Schamann, a 15th round pick by the Dodgers earlier this month, will make his Loons debut against the TinCaps on Friday.

Today it’s a triple-shot of the TinCaps Report Podcast:

Hear from Austin Hedges, who hit the game-tying home run in the ninth:

Hear from Kyle Gaedele who hit the walk-off hit for the TinCaps:

and hear from Tom Felice, who put together a feature presentation on how the TinCaps players relax by hitting the links:

(more…)

Sweep Opportunity, Catching Clinic, Dialing Zero

Make it two in a row for the TinCaps, who steamrolled the Captains 4-0 on Saturday night at Parkview Field. All four runs scored in the first inning, and Lake County was down for the count after that. Adys Portillo worked six innings, giving up three hits, and striking out four. His fastball was nearly untouchable, and he said he didn’t use his curveball until about the third inning. If he hadn’t used it once, his success rate in getting hitters out might’ve been nearly the same. All four of his strikeouts caught batters looking.

Skipper Jose Valentin was a bit concerned, as he was in the first half, the all of his team’s run production came in the first inning, and that the team only picked up one hit, a second-inning single by Jace Peterson, for the remainder of the game. The TinCaps sent no more than five batters to the plate in an inning in frames two through eight. However, a 2-0 start is something to be happy about, and Fort Wayne will look for its first three-game sweep at Parkview Field for the first time in over a year. The last time the TinCaps took three in a row from an opponent at home was May 27-29 last year against Great Lakes.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, an elated Adys Portillo details his outing in which he allowed three hits over six innings en route to his fifth win of the year:

YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW…

Whenever roving instructors come into town, that usually means that the TinCaps will be out on the field for some early instruction. Whether it’s PFP (pitchers fielding practice) or infield work, the coordinators want to see how each member of the team is progressing.

Yesterday it was a chance for the catchers to get some extra work in, with some great insight from a member of the Padres front office–A.J. Hinch, who is a Vice President and Assistant General Manager. According to the Padres media guide, “Hinch oversees all aspects of the professional scouting department, while assisting Executive Vice President/General Manager Josh Byrnes with determining the Major League club’s roster composition, player acquisitions, talent evaluations and contract negotiations.”

Saturday afternoon he was simply a teacher for Fort Wayne catchers Matt Colantonio and Austin Hedges. For maybe 30-45 minutes, he worked with the two right in front of the TinCaps dugout. They worked on what looked like receiving techniques, and then talked about situational catching.

“The most important count in the big leagues is 0-1″, Hinch told the two catchers. “After that, it’s 1-1.” He pointed out that getting ahead of every batter was paramount to determining how an at bat would go. Hinch, a former major league catcher and then manager, demonstrated in a crouch where he would position himself when trying to help a pitcher get a strike called in certain counts. There are some days where you think baseball can be a simple game, and then you get a glance of ten minutes of A.J. Hinch breaking down arguably the game’s most difficult position, and it’s amazing how much more you can learn.

Hinch, by the way, was a one-time teammate of TinCaps hitting coach Jacque Jones. Go back and take a look at the United States 1996 Olympic baseball roster, and you’ll find those two, born a year apart, were together on that bronze medal-winning team. Also on the roster was R.A. Dickey, who’s starting tonight for the New York Mets against the Yankees on Sunday Night baseball. I think I know what my plans are around 8 PM this evening…

DIAL “0” FOR…

When was the last time, other than your most frequent stay at a Midwest League hotel where the wireless internet wasn’t working, that you dialed “0” for an operator? You can’t think of one, right?

The Journal Gazette hops in the WABAC Machine and takes us to a time before there was a definitive (Ok, not at all definitive) Yahoo! Answers response to every question ever.

Today, we learn about the mysterious telephone operator! 

“For decades, you could not make a telephone call without an operator physically putting the call through. Then it was only long distance calls that needed that familiar “Operator … ” to connect you. Then such service was only needed to make a collect call or to make sure a line was working.

And then … it has come to this: Most of us don’t even know whether telephone operators still exist.

We put the question to Patricia Amendola, communications manager for Frontier Communications.

“Well, we have call center representatives,” Amendola said.

But if you pick up the phone and dial zero does someone answer?

“To be honest, I don’t know because I’ve not done that,” she admitted.

And we’re not picking on Frontier. We called Verizon Wireless, too, and asked spokesman Tom Pica what would happen if you dialed zero on your cellphone.

“I don’t know, I’ve never done it,” Pica said. “I can’t remember the last time I ever did try that.”

He put us on hold, then tried it, and said he got a recording saying whom to call for different needs. We tried it and got no answer at all.

The answer is yes, telephone operators still exist, but their numbers are a tiny fraction of what they were just a couple of decades ago.”

This piece is of particular interest to me because my grandfather, whose first and middle name I share, used to work in New York City installing telephone lines. He would wake up before the crack of dawn and commute from Long Island into Manhattan each morning. I remember the story he told me about getting to go install phone lines in the world headquarters of CBS News, and meeting Walter Cronkite, who he says was a pretty good guy.

And now, you can make a VoIP call sitting at your computer– no phone lines required. I’m still waiting for teleportation…

MUSICAL GUEST

Bruce Springsteen…take it away!

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

Opening With a Win, Remembering a Cardinal

The second half opened in a way the first half did not–with a win. Fort Wayne toppled Lake County 4-3 on Friday night at Parkview Field. Although the TinCaps’ overall record is still just 32-39, a 1-0 mark in the second half means that they’re over .500, something the club did not achieve in the first half.

Now it’s a matter of winning series, and stringing together more than four wins in a row. The longest winning streak of the year has been just four games, while the longest losing streak has been five. The second half represents a fresh start and has fewer playoff competitors (six, opposed to eight in the first half), making the road to the playoffs an easier one.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, Manager Jose Valentin showers praise upon leadoff hitter Jace Peterson, who he says did a great job stretching a first-inning single into a double. Valentin says he’d like to see his shortstop be even more aggressive:

REMEMBERING DARRYL KILE

It was ten years ago yesterday that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile passed away. The Cardinals were at Wrigley Field for a series against the Cubs, and the two teams were scheduled to play a game the day of Kile’s death.

The two clubs were notified of the news, but couldn’t tell anyone in the stadium exactly what had happened because Kile’s family had not yet been notified. Joe Girardi, now the manager of the Yankees and then a member of the Cubs, stepped to the microphone in front of the Wrigley Field crowd.

“I thank you for your patience. We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinal family, the commissioner has canceled the game today. Please be respectful. You will find out eventually what has happened, and I ask that you say a prayer for the St. Louis Cardinals’ family,” Girardi said.

I watched the video of those words (link below) this morning while I was eating my breakfast. Girardi addressing the crowd is a small piece as part of a feature that MLB Network has put together on that day, having spoken to those who were involved. It’s hard not to shed a few tears while watching it–especially when Girardi speaks.

Baseball is sometimes looked at as “just a game”, but it can be so much more.

Here’s the video: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=22486941&topic_id=7417714&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_22486941&v=3

MUSICAL GUEST

Rodney Atkins…take it away!

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

All-Star Game, Padres Tryout, Bob Dylan

Feeling like a bear coming out of winter hibernation, I’m ready, refreshed and excited to jump into the second half of the 2012 Midwest League season. While the team was on the All-Star break I caught up on some reading, got some sun by the pool and had a good time relaxing.

Here are a few notes to catch you up on what’s been going on:

-Infielder Casey McElroy was promoted to Advanced-A Lake Elsinore of the California League. That amounts to the first real promotion the TinCaps have had this season. McElroy was a first-half rock for the team, playing in all but 11 games, hitting .237 and knocking home a team-high 30 runs. Congrats, Casey.

In other transaction-related business, pitcher Chris Haney was transferred to Short-Season Eugene. He worked three games for the TinCaps and had an ERA of 15.75. Also, infielder Felix Cabrera was added to the roster to replace McElroy. Cabrera was signed as a free agent in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic, and before this year had never played above the Arizona League. He’s played in six games this season between Double-A and Triple-A.

-All of the TinCaps All-Stars performed well at the All-Star game on Tuesday night. Craig Wieczorkiewicz (aka @MWLTraveler) has a write up on the game here. Here’s his picture of Austin Hedges:

Austin Hedges went 2-3 with a double and 3 RBI. Jace Peterson went 1-2 with a double. Adys Portillo pitched a scoreless first and was named the winning pitcher. Frank Garces worked for 2/3 of an inning and picked up a strikeout.

-Speaking of Austin Hedges, Reggie Hayes of The News-Sentinel put together a feature piece on the 19-year-old catcher.

“I try to stay away from goals and numbers and just try to get better every day,” Hedges said. “I’m always trying to make adjustments and do something to get better every day. When you’re doing that, then obviously you are achieving some of those goals you have.”

Hedges expects the game to be much like showcases he has been involved with as a player. He’ll talk with and warm up pitchers prior to their appearance to try to get a feel for what they throw. In an all-star setting, the pitchers won’t be on the mound long.

Hedges is one of the younger players on the TinCaps and in the Midwest League. But he says he tries not to be too anxious about how fast he can move up the farm system ladder.

“It’s a long process and I want to do everything the right way,” he said. “I’m happy to be where I am right now. …It was hard for a little bit to be so far away (from his California home), but there’s nowhere I’d rather be right now. This is a good town, a good baseball town.”

You can read the full story by clicking here.

A UNIQUELY TALENTED TRYOUT PARTICIPANT

Before coming to Fort Wayne, my only familiarity with Ron Howard was from his involvement with Arrested Development. However, there’s also a Ron Howard who is a member of the Mad Ants, the NBDL franchise located in town. The TinCaps and Padres held an open tryout at Parkview Field over the break and Howard gave it a shot. Once again, Reggie Hayes has the details:

Unlike a few, Howard showed up in perfect shape, toned by his always working basketball career. In fact, he made the Mad Ants at a similar open tryout. Yet while most, if not all, of the 50 other players Wednesday spent their youth concentrating on baseball, Howard is a novice. He’s also 29.

Jeff Stewart, Midwest area scout for the Padres, talked with Howard after the tryout and gave him an honest assessment. He saw a great athlete. And he told him to keep working on his basketball career.

“If he was in a baseball uniform on a daily basis, his throwing would improve quickly, his fielding would improve quickly, just through repetition,” Stewart said. “But I’m not sure he would ever hit. He’s (29) years old. He’s well, well, well below average at this point, and that’s in batting practice, seeing a ball intended for you to hit exercising a swing.

“You get in a game situation where pitchers are using varying velocity, breaking planes with curveballs, changeups, sliders – I’m not sure the learning curve would be quick enough.”

It was definitely worth a shot, right?

JUST BECAUSE

This article in The Atlantic explains how Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is just like the European debt crisis. Seriously.

AND OH, BY THE WAY…

Bob Dylan will be performing at Parkview Field on August 24th. MLB.com’s Corey Brock has a great take on the concert:

MUSICAL GUEST

Carly Rae Jepsen (miraculously avoiding one-hit wonder status) partners with Owl City (it’s near Albatross Township) for this latest earworm:

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

First Half Finale, Travel Numbers, Programming Notes

It’s the final game of the first half, and the TinCaps and Hot Rods square off at 3:05 CDT here in Bowling Green, Kentucky this afternoon. I’ve been told there may be some rain in the forecast. Upon further examination, that may be accurate. Here’s what the radar looks like at first pitch:

This is the opposite of good.

On an unrelated note, I did a little bit of math last night and found out just how many miles the TinCaps have traveled by bus in the first half (according to Google Maps):

4,587

That, I have determined, is the equivalent of driving from New York to Los Angeles, turning around in an attempt to drive home, and then running out of gas in St. Louis. Well, you don’t have to run out of gas in St. Louis. You might have relatives there, or you might want to catch a Cardinals game. I shouldn’t speak for you in that instance. Either way, that’s a lot of bus miles. I probably should’ve signed up for the frequent rider progra–

What? There is no frequent rider program?

This seems somewhat to moderately off. I could’ve sworn I’d at least get a sweatshirt or travel tote bag for all of the miles. I’ll need to speak with a customer services representative.

In all seriousness, though, today’s game should be a good one as Cody Hebner (6-2, 3.43) takes the hill against Bowling Green’s Roberto Gomez (6-2, 2.79). The TinCaps will try to give Hebner the run support he’s used to, a team best 6.6 runs per start, after having been shut out three of the last four nights. Prior to this week, Fort Wayne hadn’t been shut out at all in the first half. The TinCaps are also in danger of being swept for the first time in the half, and so a win would go a long way in preserving that streak.

With an 0-3 game last night, Travis Whitmore’s 11-game hitting streak came to an end. It stands as the longest hitting streak of the year for Fort Wayne. Donavan Tate and Matt Colantonio each carried streaks of eight straight games with a hit earlier this season. (more…)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 118 other followers