Archive for April 2nd, 2008

Spotlight on AA Ball – 4/2/2008

rascal-and-grounder.jpgAs a way to keep up with 300+ Minor League teams, we’ll be spreading things out a bit. We look at Rookie and A Ball on Monday, AA on Wednesday, and AAA on Friday. In-between: whatever strikes our fancy.

Here’s today’s AA roundup:

The Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) have a bit of a problem: Legislators do not make for good mascots. They have a large dog named Grrrrounder, but he isn’t the only costumed team rep, nor was he the first. Since 1998, Sens fans have rooted for Rascal (now that’s a name for a Senator!), who is an 8-foot-tall blue-and-yellow creature of indeterminate genesis. He claims his favorite shows are Sponge Bob Square Pants and Baywatch. Hey, everybody loves the Hoff!

Did you know there are Turf Awards for groundskeepers? Me either. But I say good for these guys, and good for the Sports Turf Managers Association, who took it upon themselves to honor the guys and gals who keep our fields of dreams green and beautiful.

You may remember the Birmingham Barons (White Sox) as the team that let Michael Jordan take his cuts during his first retirement. But they’re also the double-A team least likely to send you home hungry. A quick glance at the daily promotions for 2008 looks like this:

  • Monday: All-you-can-eat menus turn this into “Belly Buster Monday”.
  • Tuesday: Quarter hotdogs (and it’s also Zoo Day, so you can see where your mystery meat came from).
  • Wednesday: Nothing listed. If I were Alka-seltzer, I’d be giving these guys a call.
  • Thursday: “Thirsty Thursday” means dollar drinks and 20-cent wings.
  • Friday: Um. Just Fireworks.
  • Saturday: This is more like it. Super Saturday Fireworks and $5 Little Ceasers Pizza.
  • Sunday: Dreamland Ribs. I’ve never eaten ballpark ribs, but I’m pretty open to the concept.

There’s also something scheduled for August 9th called “Pyro-palooza!”, which might attract the wrong crowd.

The Tulsa Drillers (Rockies) have an exciting season ahead. Not only are they feeding talent to the World Series runner-up, but the club has reached an agreement to build a new stadium in downtown Tulsa. They also host parts of the Bedlam Series between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which is one of the best rivalries in college athletics, no matter which sport you prefer.

And, finally, the San Antonio Missions (Padres) will bring an accomplished coaching staff to the diamond this season. New manager Bill Masse comes to the defending Texas League champs from OMDQ’s neck of the woods, where he managed the Fisher Cats (Blue Jays) to a third-place finish. He has also won an Olympic Gold Medal, as a player in 1988, and acted alongside Kevin Costner in “For the Love of the Game”. Masse’s hitting coach is four-time MLB all-star catcher Terry Kennedy, and his pitching coach is Steve Webber, who coached the Georgia Bulldogs to the 1990 National Championship.

That’s it for today. Look for the AAA news on Friday.

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Miners vs. Wingnuts: Who You Got?

miners_vs_wingnuts.jpg

We haven’t touched on Darren Rovell’s Minor League Baseball Logo Contest yet, mainly because Eric has been sharing his love of college basketball with the world and I’ve been too lazy to worry about silly little things like minor league baseball logos. Whaddya think this is, a minor league baseball blog?

Oh. Right.

Anyway, as you already know if you clicked on the link above, Rovell’s contest has reached the boiling point, with just two logos remaining: the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League and the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association.

You can read exclusive interviews with the two logos and vote for your favorite at the link in the first paragraph. Tell ’em Bus Leagues sent you. (For the record, I voted for the Wingnuts – the Miner is good, but the Wingnut just looks like he’s up to no good. I like a little badassery in my logos.)

Wanted: The Next Jamie Moyer, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez…

Planning on heading out to the ballpark to watch Florida Marlins minor leaguers in action this season?  Get ready to see a lot of changeups, if Larry Beinfest has his way:

As an organization, the Marlins are preaching the need for their own pitchers to learn how to throw a changeup.

Larry Beinfest, the team’s president of baseball operations, instructed the Minor League pitching staffs to teach the changeup.

“I believe he told everybody in our Minor Leagues that they’ve got to throw changeups. Teach the changeup,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just that hard of a pitch to pick up as a hitter.”

The organizational philosophy earned mention on the heels of Johan Santana’s Opening Day performance against Florida, when he allowed two runs on three hits while striking out eight batters in seven innings.  Last August, a survey of American League managers by Baseball America listed Santana’s changeup as the best in the league.

It’s hard not to like this philosophy.  Just off the top of my head, I can think of a few young Marlins who experienced arm troubles last year, a curse that could be helped by the low stress level involved in throwing the pitch.

Of course, they are far from the first organizaton to try this – I wonder how it’s worked out in the past?