Results tagged ‘ willie blair ’

Wednesday in Review, A Loving Relationship, Breakfast Club

Arrival at West Michigan’s Fifth Third Ballpark on Wednesday was optimistic, as the TinCaps had lost two in a row and were looking for a turnaround in the opener of a three game series against the Whitecaps. Even the first inning started well, with a single from the returning Jace Peterson, a stolen base and then an RBI single from Tyler Stubblefield.

The second inning was good, too, as Frank Garces retired the side in order for the second straight frame, and the TinCaps held a 1-0 lead into the third. However, it was that pesky bottom of the third that would unravel the Fort Wayne ballclub. Garces surrendered three runs, which would be all the Whitecaps would need as they rolled to a 6-1 victory.

The first four hits for Fort Wayne came within their first six batters, and there were then only four hits to be had for the remainder of the game: A Yeiscon Asencio leadoff single in the fourth, a Peterson leadoff double in the sixth, an Austin Hedges one-out double in the seventh, and an Asencio leadoff single in the ninth. The TinCaps finished the night 1-11 with runners in scoring position.

Fort Wayne has dropped three in a row, and part of that that production from two players who had been chipping in offensively, has temporarily waned. Lee Orr has one hit in his last 21 at bats and Donavan Tate has one hit in his last 24 at bats. Within those respective time frames, Orr has struck out 13 times and Tate has fanned 15 times.

Yeison Asencio has managed to continue hitting, though, whether he’s batting third, fifth, or sixth in the lineup. In the last four games he’s hit in all three of those spots, sometimes flip-flopping between third and fifth with Casey McElroy. Asencio has gone 15 for his last 34 (.441) with nine RBI over a 10-game span. In 17 games with the TinCaps, he’s collected five multi-hit performances. He may not walk much (4 BB in 60 AB), but he’s only struck out five times, too.

Today Adys Portillo looks to snap the Fort Wayne losing streak as he takes the mound against West Michigan. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10, and I hope you can tune into the broadcast on 1380 ESPN and ESPNFortWayne.com.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my chat with TinCaps Pitching Coach Willie Blair. We’ll talk about Frank Garces and Adys Portillo, the two TinCaps All-Star pitchers, the decision to pitch to MLB rehabber Carlos Santana on Monday night and the addition of Dennis O’Grady to the bullpen:

A LOVING RELATIONSHIP

In an absolutely fantastic read by Dave Sheinin, the national baseball writer for The Washington Post, we learn about Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey’s relationship with his knuckleball:

“It is Tuesday afternoon, and Dickey, 37, is headed to a therapy session — relationship therapy. Dickey and his knuckleball, they are making great progress these days, their understanding of each other growing deeper and richer. But the work must never stop, lest they drift apart again. Later that afternoon, in the bullpen at Nationals Park, they will take their places and pick up where they left off last time.

“It’s definitely a relationship,” Dickey, who carries the best record in the National League (8-1) into Thursday’s start against the Nationals, says before throwing his standard, between-starts bullpen session. “Sometimes we fight. There will be times where I’m yelling at the baseball — like, ‘Do I really know you?’

“That’s what keeps me invested. [The knuckleball] can grow. It’s not just an inanimate thing. It’s very much a living thing. It’s very organic.”

“He’s got the rising one, the sinking one, the sideways one — it’s tough to hit,” says Nationals slugger Michael Morse. “You see it, and by the time you swing it’s in another spot. Squaring up his knuckleball is tough. You basically have to go up there and take all your mechanics and everything you’ve learned, and throw it out the window, and just kind of go Little League — just swing as hard as you can and hope you make contact.”’

Let’s remember that this is a professional baseball player saying that. He’s paid millions of dollars to hit a baseball, and yet the knucleball reduces him to a “little league” swing. That’s incredible. It just goes to show you that hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports. That, and learning the rules to cricket.

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BREAKFAST CLUB

If you’ve never stayed at a Holiday Inn Express (the preferred lodging for visiting teams here in Walker, Michigan), you’re missing out on one of the great continental breakfasts that the Midwest League has to offer. Bagels, Yogurt, Eggs, Milk–delicious. There are also free copies of USA Today, in which you can read about food while you eat food.

Today I came across: “Food as fashion: We eat what we are”. Bruce Horovitz, take it away:

“What Americans eat and drink has become such an emotional roller coaster for so many of us that it’s utterly changing the way the nation’s biggest restaurant chains, foodmakers and grocery chains do business. Food used to feed our bodies. Now it also needs to feed our brains. Our egos. Our nostalgic memories. And maybe even our social-media appetites.”

“I’ll have an order of Instagram, with some MySpace on the sid…” Oh, that’s not what he meant by social-media appetite. Got it.

“Talking about food has become so fashionable that we may be doing more of it than ever. Social-media chatter about food — which is where we do much of it — is up more than 13% over the past year, says Nielsen Media Incite, which tracks buzz across social networks, blogs, forums and consumer review sites. That’s millions of additional social morsels just on food. “

Here’s the best part of the story:

“Then, there’s British Airways. It recently realized that its first-class passengers don’t want fancy-dancy desserts. Last fall, it started serving what passengers told them they wanted most: comfort food. Its Crumb Crumble cobbler was such a smash, when caterers tried to replace it on the menu with a different dessert, passengers went ballistic, says Lynn McClelland, head of catering. It’s all about emotions — even the most primitive, childhood emotions, she says. When stuck high above the ground for hours in a plane, she says, “Passengers tell us what they want most is what their moms used to feed them when they were 12.”‘

Soon, though, eating what you had when you were 12 won’t be cool enough any more. I can see this devolving into someone trying to make it cool to eat Gerber baby food. It’s the botox injection of “fancy-dancy” food.

MUSICAL GUEST

Pearl Jam…take it away!

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

New Series, TinCaps TV Show, Viva VHS

It was just one of those days for the TinCaps on Tuesday, as they lost 8-2 to Bowling Green. Four TinCaps were ejected from the game, and that included Pitching Coach Willie Blair, pitcher Matt Stites, infielder Travis Whitmore and Manager Jose Valentin.

“I’m not going to go out there and get thrown out of the game because I want to,” Valentin told The Journal Gazette. “I went out there because I thought I had a case to the argument. I could see clear, from where I was in the dugout, as soon as that ball made contact with the bat, that ball never was fair. It wasn’t even close. The bottom line is we got beat again. We didn’t hit at all, we didn’t pitch at all today and they beat us.”

Lee Orr did hit another home run, giving him seven for the season. He’s hit longballs at an incredible pace, having registered 50 at bats in 15 games in a TinCaps uniform.

Now Great Lakes comes into town, and the Dodgers affiliate has played up and down baseball having split the last ten games. Over the last seven games, the Loons have gone win, loss, win loss, win, loss, win. That stretch followed a two-game losing streak, which was preceded by a two-game winning streak. Confused yet? Yeah, me too. The last time these two clubs met was back in April, from the 12th-15th, and both teams look much different than they did more than a month ago.

In today’s TinCaps report, Matt Stites talks about his ejection in from the game after surrendering a home run to Bowling Green’s Matt Rice:

TINCAPS TV SHOW

If you haven’t heard, the TinCaps are now one of just a few teams in Minor League Baseball to have an entire weekly television show dedicated to them. It’s called “Sound Off with the TinCaps” and it airs every Monday here in Fort Wayne on 21 Alive from 12:20-12:50 and it re-airs at 7:30.

There have been two episodes, and this past week’s show featured a live interview with Jose Valentin from the ballpark, and a behind the scenes segment with the Bad Apple Dancers.

For all of the segments, check out the link below:

http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/sports/sound-off-tincaps

VIVA VHS

Just when you thought you’d never hear about a videocassette ever again…they’re back! Well…kind of. The New York Times has the details:

“In this age of online streaming and Blu-ray Discs, there is still a place where the bulky VHS cassette endures: the immigrant communities of New York City.

The survival of the format may speak to a frugal strain among some immigrants, particularly those who are older, who seem more reluctant to embrace the throwaway, ever-modernizing consumer culture of America. Why upgrade to today’s technology? Those old cassettes do just fine.

“The immigrant very much values what they did not have,” said Orlando Tobón, a leader in the Colombian community of Jackson Heights, Queens, who runs a travel agency and tax-preparation office. “And if it still works, they still use it.”

In Harlem, a Senegalese-owned store stocks cassettes with movies from the expanding African film industry, and at least two shops in Queens, one owned by a Pakistani and the other by a Bangladeshi, supply Bollywood films on videocassette to the borough’s large South Asian population. Latinos with a lingering preference for the format shop at a Peruvian-owned store in Jackson Heights.

In interviews, the stores’ owners said videocassette sales and rentals, though now only a small and shrinking slice of their business, were sustained in part by older immigrants who seemed less inclined than the young to adopt new gadgetry.”

I remember watching This Week in Baseball on VHS as I was growing up, and then putting it in the VHS rewinder and watching it again. Remember these?

If these seem outdated now, what will we think of DVD players in five years?

MUSICAL GUEST

Neil Young…take it away!

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

Song of Summer, Unique View, Mucho Gusto Mike

The TinCaps lost 2-1 on an 11th inning walk-off home run from off the bat of Aaron Westlake on Thursday night. Fort Wayne is now down 0-2 in the series, and will try and avoid the series sweep here tonight at West Michigan. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35.

MiLB.com had a good write up on the game, and it has quotes from TinCaps pitching coach Willie Blair, as he talks about the fantastic performance from starter Adys Portillo:

“He had great rhythm and tempo, which is one of the things he’s really been working on,” Fort Wayne pitching coach Willie Blair said. “His command tonight was excellent. He was able to throw his fastball, breaking ball and changeup for strikes. He mixed his pitches well and he just really had a great all-around game.”

“Even though he gave up a couple hits early, it wasn’t like they were on him,” Blair said. “You’re going to give up hits if you’re around the plate, and he was around the plate all night. He did get stronger and more confident as the game went on. His stuff was really dominant.”

Portillo tossed a career high seven innings and surrendered just two hits, one walk, and struck out six.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, I chat with TinCaps OF Mike Gallic:

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TinCaps on Topps, Wi-Fi For All, Podcast

Thursday was the series opener for Fort Wayne against the Kane County Cougars, and the home nine scampered away with an 8-5 victory. The TinCaps trailed 3-1 after three innings, but clawed back to take a 5-4 lead at the end of six.

The eight inning was the turning point, as the Cougars erupted for four runs against the Fort Wayne bullpen.

Hear all of the highlights (and a little George Costanza) in today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:

IT’S CERTAINLY POSSIBLE

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Congrats to Jacque, Hello to Cody, Happy Birthday to Jay

Tonight is the second of a three-game series for the TinCaps and the Silver Hawks in South Bend. Monday’s game saw Fort Wayne jump out to a 1-0 lead after one inning, but the Silver Hawks had a big fourth, scoring four runs,and never looked back. Right now the TinCaps are hitting just .190, but it’s four games in–nothing to worry about. The pitching has been good, especially the bullpen, which has allowed just three earned runs in almost 20 innings of work.

Tonight is the debut of the last member of the five-man rotation: Cody Hebner. The righty was originally scheduled to start on opening day, but he tweaked his ankle and got bumped to the back of the rotation. He put up good numbers last year for Eugene (2-2, 3.35 ERA in 11 games) after being taken in the fourth round by the Padres. Here’s how he describes his arsenal:

“My fastball usually sits around 93 mph, but I got it up to 97 a couple of times this year,” he said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but they told me in the dugout, ‘you got it up to 97 that inning.’ And I said, ‘holy cow, that’s hard.’ At that level I could probably get away with using my fastball. But I like to approach like a major leaguer and work the batter and throw off-speed as well. I throw a fastball, a seam splitter, a curve ball, a change up and a slider.”

Listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast to hear some of last night’s action and comments from pitching coach Willie Blair on what he expects out of his hurlers in the early part of the season:

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The TinCaps Report: 7/16

Pitching coach Willie Blair updates us on the progress of the TinCaps’ arms, then Fort Wayne wins a wild one in Burlington.

Subscribe to The TinCaps Report Podcast

Emptying the brain: 5/10

The TinCaps aren’t hitting. Again. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Random thoughts:

  • Somebody asked me the question over the off-season and last week I got the answer: How many pitches do minor-league coaches/managers throw during batting practice? About 31 pitches per hitter per day. Manager Shawn Wooten threw 124 pitches to a four-man group and pitching coach Willie Blair threw 101 to a three-man group. If you think that’s easy, try throwing at a target 40 feet away, 124 times in a row without much of a break. If your arm is still attached, you’ll be missing the target by a foot and gasping for air by the time you’re done. I may turn this into an article for the gameday playbill.
  • Former Fort Wayne RHP Brandon Gomes made his MLB debut for Tampa Bay. He’s the 97th alum to make it to The Show.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy will make his White Sox debut tomorrow.
  • On the Baseball America Hot Sheet, Jedd Gyorko is hot, Simon Castro is not and you can’t stop Sean Burroughs, you can only hope to contain him. Most of that sounds made up.
  • Legendary author Ben Hill tells us the San Antonio Missions, chock full o’former TinCaps, put up some crazy numbers in April. Crazy good, that is.
  • Padres RHP Aaron Harang actually got to spend Mother’s Day with his mom. That makes one of us.
  • If it were after 2 a.m. and it meant doing my part to end the game, I’d put on a wrestling mask too. Well, truth be told, I’d probably put on a wrestling mask regardless of the situation.
  • I know I’m not always on top of my game, but sometimes I just have to shake my head.
  • No Gus Johnson with CBS Sports anymore? Underdog teams everywhere are frowning. Except teams that will play on the Big Ten Network.
  • Former TinCaps video guy Allan Wertheimer is coming back to Fort Wayne for the weekend. Mothers, hide your free food!

Musical guest… Huey Lewis and The News!

Take care!

DW

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