Archive for May, 2008

NCAA Baseball Regionals Set

If you yearn for a playoff atmosphere in June, there’s not much for you in MLB or the Bus Leagues. Fortunately, we have college baseball, which starts the season in the frigid months so it can coincide with kids actually being in school instead of on beaches somewhere.

Friend of the site Brian Foley has been running the highly successful College Baseball Blog for a couple of years now, and he and his staff have done their usual bang-up job of previewing the early rounds that lead up to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Check up on your local teams by reading the capsules below:

Athens Regional

Ann Arbor Regional

Baton Rouge Regional

Cary Regional

College Station Regional

Conway Regional

Coral Gables Regional

Fullerton Regional

Houston Regional

Lincoln Regional

Long Beach Regional

Raleigh Regional

Stanford Regional

Stillwater Regional

Tallahassee Regional

Tempe Regional

I’m more than a little bummed that my hometown U. of Virginia squad won’t be hosting a regional this year. They flopped at home the past couple of years and failed to advance, so maybe it’s just as well that they’re being shipped out to Fullerton, where the Titans will be facing the pressure of moving on in front of a home crowd.

Thanks for keeping us up to date, Brian! There’s nothing quite like the *PING!* of the bat in early summer.

Nashua Pride Opening Weekend Pictures

It only took a week, but I finally managed to get some pictures from last week’s Nashua Pride games that my wife and I attended.  Big props to Mrs. OMDQ, who downloads these from the camera because I’m too technologically illiterate to do it myself.

Looking at the field for the first time, Joey appeared a little unsure of what he was actually seeing.  One of my favorite parts of being a dad is watching him look at things for the first time and trying to imagine what is going on inside that little brain.

The first game we went to, Opening Night, featured a pregame ceremony in which members of the Pride team and staff received 2007 Can-Am League championship rings.  The first person introduced was former PA announcer Ken Cail, who served in that capacity for the team’s first ten seasons before moving down the highway to do radio broadcasts for the Lowell Spinners (A-Red Sox).

On hand to receive his ring was Olmo Rosario, the 2007 Can-Am League’s Most Valuable Player.  While he was standing in line, a fan in the next section raced around trying to set up an “Ol-mo” chant that seemed like it was left over from last season.  Didn’t really work out well.  Olmo is currently playing for the Connecticut Defenders in the Eastern League, hitting .319 with three homeruns, 17 RBI and 10 steals. 

After the ring ceremony was complete, they raised the championship banner on the flagpole in right field.  My wife managed to snap a picture just as the wind kicked up and made the banner wave, just like banners are supposed to do.

Game 2 of the season.  Joey hadn’t quite recovered from Opening Night.

Prior to the game, longtime manager had his number 17 retired by the team.  He was given a framed jersey and his number was hung on the wall below the press box.  As you can see, I got a picture of one of those things.

Problem was, I meant to get a picture on Opening Night and never did, so these were taken pregame, before Butch’s number was added.  Next time I go, I’ll get a shot of his number, which actually hangs directly over one of the tunnels. The numbers on this side, on the left of the press box if you’re standing with your back to home plate, belong to Joe Grahe, Milt Cuyler, Felix Jose, and Glenn Murray.  The first three used Nashua as a springboard back to the major leagues.  Murray was a longtime fan favorite who broke the Atlantic League record for homeruns with the Pride.

On this side: Mike Easler, the first manager in 1998; Curtis Pride, who used to spend about a month with the team every spring before some team realized they should have signed him already; and some guy named D’Avilia.  I wanna say his first name is Vic, but I’m not entirely sure, or why he’s up there.

And finally, we need to include a photo of the Pride mascot, Stitches…or, as I like to call him, Mr. Met North.

Baseball and Pancakes – What More Could a Fan Want?

Any time I read about some intrepid soul venturing out to see as many baseball games as possible, I get a little bit jealous. But when I read about an RV that will be hitting 60+ minor-league ballparks across the United States, and also chowing on pancakes, I just have to write about it.

It seems that the International House of Pancakes will be celebrating a 50th anniversary soon. To share the wealth, they’ve loaded up that beautiful machine you see above, and they’ll be driving cross-country bringing breakfast joy to the bus leagues. They’ll be driving over 8,000 miles before it’s all said and done, and in this time of spiraling gas prices, that’s true dedication.

The Pancake Express (my choice of name) will hand out T-shirts, sponsor games, and enter fans in a sweepstakes as part of the celebration of their half-century of “breakfast any time”. As a guy who has a five-year-old with a pancake jones, I’m most excited about the 2-for-1 coupons they’ll be offering, as well as the nine new pancake flavors. In addition, the “Most Valuable Pancake” mascot will be along for the ride, so I’m really, really hoping they make it to Montgomery, AL so the Pancake can meet the Biscuit.

We do know the first few stops of the tour. Jacksonville Suns (Dodgers) fans will get the first taste:

May 31/June 1 – Mobile BayBears @ Jacksonville Suns (7:05/3:05pm). The Suns are giving away emergency lamps on Saturday and having wooden bat day for the first 1,500 kids through the gates on Sunday.

June 2 – Rome Braves @ Charleston RiverDogs 7:05pm.

June 5/6 – Pawtucket Red Sox @ Charlotte Knights (both 7:15 starts). Might Justin Masterson pitch? Sweeter than syrup!

June 7/8 – Charlotte Knights @ Durham Bulls (7:05/5:05). The Knights are going to be eating a LOT of pancakes, if I’m any judge.

June 12-14 – Charlotte Knights @ Norfolk Tides (Thursday and Friday 7:15 starts) and Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Saturday 7:15). See what I mean about the Knights? It’s like they’re following the Pancake Express on purpose.

June 16/17 – Charlotte Knights @ Richmond Braves (7pm on Monday, double-header starting at 1pm on Tuesday). Getting mighty greedy, Knights. That’s all I can say.

Starting Monday, IHOP will be running a sweepstakes on their website, and putting up photos and tracking the progress of the Pancake Express. Check back to see when they’ll be in your neighborhood.

Oh, and please pass the syrup?

The Z-Meter: 5/29/2008 – Chasing Headley

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.

Promoted:

Evan Longoria, 3B, Durham (AAA) to Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
Luke Hochevar, RHP, Omaha (AAA) to Kansas City Royals (MLB)

Max Scherzer, RHP, Tucson (AAA) to Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)

Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Jacksonville (AA) to Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
Jay Bruce, OF, Louisville (AAA) to Cincinnati Reds (MLB)

Justin Masterson, RHP, Portland (AA) to Pawtucket (AAA)

Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Clearwater (A) to Reading (AA)

Travis Snider, OF, Dunedin (A-Advanced) to New Hampshire (AA)

Josh Vitters, 3B, Boise (Short A) to Peoria (A)

Oh glorious day, caloo, callay! (Sorry, I have a five-year-old, must be too much Dr. Seuss) Both Jay Bruce and Clayton Kershaw cashed in their golden tickets this week, so we’re sending up the Z-meter a couple days early in celebration. Time to find someone new to fixate on – I plan to obsess over Ian Stewart now, personally.

I’m adding a couple of statistical marvels from the minor-league ranks to take the place of our two stalwarts who have gone on to their reward. Nelson Cruz has a ridiculous .705 slugging average for Oklahoma Redhawks (Rangers), and Jhoulys Chacin is mowing down batters for the Asheville Tourists (Rockies), with eight wins and just one loss (check out his ridiculous strikeout numbers below). Welcome, fellas.

UPDATE: Reader Will, a minor-league road tripper extraordinaire, has been lobbying for the inclusion of Chase Headley, and he’s right, the Beav needs to be here. Added.

Let’s see who else is hot this week:


The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, and ready for the call that will change their lives.

Chase Headley, LF – Portland Beavers (San Diego): .301 – 38R – 9HR – 27RBI – 0SB – 19BB – .524 SLG – .888 OPS

Homer Bailey, RHP – Louisville Bats (Reds): 11GS – 4W – 4L – 4.05 ERA – 29BB – 54K

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): .304 – 35R – 7HR – 24RBI – 17SB – .480 SLG – .869 OPS

Carlos Gonzalez, RF – Sacramento River Cats (Athletics): .292 – 20R – 4HR – 24RBI – 1SB – .435 SLG – .778 OPS

Ian Stewart, 3B (Reserve List) – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies): .281 – 43R – 12HR – 43RBI – 6SB – .614 SLG – .988 OPS

Joe Koshansky, 1B – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies): .298 – 33R – 10HR – 44RBI – 0SB – .569 SLG – .948 OPS

Colby Rasmus, LF – Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals): .197 – 31R – 7HR – 19RBI – 6SB – .332 SLG – .629 OPS

Nelson Cruz, RF – Oklahoma Redhawks (Rangers): .338 – 42R – 14HR – 40RBI – 14SB – .688 SLG – 1.142 OPS


These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but are more likely to get promoted to the top of this meter first.

Justin Masterson, RHP – Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox): 8GS – 1W – 3L – 4.23 ERA – 16BB – 37K

Fernando Martinez, CF (injured) – Binghamton Mets (Mets): .280 – 19R – 3HR – 16RBI – 3SB – .408 SLG – .721 OPS

Jacob McGee, LHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 10GS – 5W – 2L – 3.59 ERA – 23BB – 51K

Cameron Maybin, CF – Carolina Mudcats (Marlins): .247 – 34R – 7HR – 17RBI – 13SB – .416 SLG – .775 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 11GS – 5W – 3L – 3.17 ERA – 25BB – 48K

Elvis Andrus, SS – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .268 – 31R – 0HR – 19RBI – 12BB – 19SB – .316 SLG – .638 OPS

Jeff Samardzija, P – Tennessee Smokies (Cubs): 11GS – 3W – 5L – 5.76 ERA – 33BB – 32K

Luke Montz, C – Harrisburg Senators (Nationals): .347 – 19R – 9HR – 37RBI – 16BB – 0SB – .636 SLG – 1.055 OPS

Travis Snider, RF – New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays): .248 – 21R – 8HR – 29RBI – 0SB – .473 SLG – .830 OPS

Antonio Bastardo, LHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 6GS – 2W – 2L – 4.09 ERA – 19BB – 26K

Matt LaPorta, CF – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .285 – 39R – 13HR – 46RBI – 1SB – .575 SLG – .967 OPS

Mat Gamel, 3B – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .383 – 49R – 11HR – 44RBI – 3SB – .659 SLG – 1.102 OPS


These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Ian Gac, 1B – Clinton LumberKings (Rangers): .329 – 36R – 14HR – 40RBI – 29BB – 1SB – .677 SLG – 1.131 OPS

Lars Anderson, 1B (injured) – Lancaster JetHawks (Red Sox): .277 – 28R – 7HR – 23RBI – 0SB – .484 SLG – .867 OPS

Rick Porcello, RHP – Lakeland Flying Tigers (Detroit): 11GS – 3W – 5L – 2.48 ERA – 14BB – 35K

Matt Wieters, C – Frederick Keys (Orioles): .346 – 35R – 12HR – 32RBI – 25BB – 1SB – .615 SLG – 1.051 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Burlington Bees (Royals): .254 – 21R – 7HR – 24RBI – 3SB – .429 SLG – .732 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Asheville Tourists (Rockies): 11 GS – 8W – 1L – 1.64 ERA – 21BB – 73K


Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and my own irrational sense of whimsy.

Wacky Doings in the Rasmus Family

If you read the Z-meter, you’ve probably noticed that St. Louis prospect Colby Rasmus is one of the few triple-A denizens of the meter not to have a red-hot stat line yet this season. Despite being a guest of the parent club during spring training, Rasmus has struggled since being sent back to the Memphis Redbirds for a few more reps.

Why? Hard to say. But reader Bruce, a Redbirds fan, sent us an article that attempts to get at the truth. Colby himself is hinting that it may be partly psychological. Like any of us, he didn’t react well when something he wanted was within his grasp, only to be taken away.

“In spring training I felt good. When I got sent down, I was a little upset about it. It put me in a weird place, I guess,” Rasmus said. “When the season started I was trying some different things and worked myself into a funk. I’m trying to get back where I was going into spring training. I felt like I was plenty good enough in Florida. I felt like I was good enough to be with the big-league team.”

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Colby’s father, Tony (a high school baseball coach), blames Tony LaRussa’s micro-managing of the phenom’s swing. He even hints that his son should have defied the eccentric manager, saying “I don’t care if God tells me to change what I’m doing. If I’ve been having success, I’m not going to do it.”

That fairly mild public criticism was upstaged by a message-board posting under the elder Rasmus’ screen name that suggested Colby shouldn’t trust the Cards’ manager at all, stating “Heck, I wouldn’t”.

Tony Rasmus said Friday that one of Colby’s younger brothers posted the criticism under a borrowed screen name. The elder Rasmus said he is “humiliated” by the resulting firestorm and is too embarrassed to speak to Mozeliak or Jeff Luhnow, vice president of scouting and player development.

Hard to say what really happened. One thing’s for sure, family meddling can’t help in a case like this. At best, it gives the prospect an excuse, an outside force that is limiting his development. Hopefully, Colby won’t use that excuse to quit working to solve his own problems.

We here at Bus Leagues love to see success stories, so here’s hoping Colby Rasmus earns that red stat line soon, and gets his callup to St. Louis.

[colby-rasmus.com]

He Was There: Friend of the Blog Sees Jay Bruce’s Debut in Cincy

Jay Bruce courtesy of Diamond Hoggers

Wow, quite a week for our friend NaturalMevs over at Diamond Hoggers. First he wins the Jay Bruce nickname contest, then he gets to see The Deal’s first official at-bat as a major leaguer. Since we’re in full-on worship mode, we’d be remiss if we didn’t direct you to this excellent recounting of the big event:

The last thing in the world I ever expected to see was Bruce, before the biggest game of his life; signing one autograph after the other. But it just goes to show that is what this guy is. There’s no Hollywood involved with ‘The Deal’. He is a down to earth country boy who can simply hit a baseball much better than you or I. That is all.

[Diamond Hoggers]

That’s just an excerpt. I highly recommend reading the entire post, as it includes candid photos and video of The Deal. Sounds like he had a pretty darn good debut, walking twice in addition to two singles and a double, ending up with 2 runs, 2 RBIs, and a stolen base.

That’s right, the kid is literally batting 1.000 right now. Good times.

(photo courtesy of diamondhoggers.com)

Now Batting For The Cincinnati Reds…

Jay Bruce!

True, I already wrote about Bruce’s long expected call-up last night.  The problem was, I chose to go with a witty title in lieu of the standard “Now Batting For…”, leading Extra P to email me this morning to say, “Looks like it’s time for the “Now batting…” that we’ve all been waiting for.”  And he’s absolutely correct.  Because, as I replied, if Jay Bruce doesn’t get a “Now Batting For…”, then what’s the point of doing it for anyone?

So here it is, folks: the official Jay Bruce “Now Batting For…”.  Enjoy it.  Cherish it.  Love it.

This Week In Bobbleheads

A couple of months ago, we got a comment from a guy who had made amazing happen and compiled a list of every bobblehead giveaway scheduled for the 2008 season (full disclosure: I attempted to make a list like this for all minor league promotions. It hurt my brain and I stopped before it was even close to done). My admiration for this man knows no bounds.

I sent an email some time later to see if he might like to join the ranks here at Bus Leagues as the official promotions contributor; the resulting, deafening silence indicated that a) he was not interested or b) he no longer uses that email address. Either way, I’m not about to let this golden resource get away for another day. From now on, every Sunday I will post a list of the bobbleheads that will be available during the next seven days. This will allow you, our awesome readers, to strategize: “Can I get OMDQ the Robinson Cano AND the Shelley Duncan? How will we pull off the Braun-Gallardo double when they’re being given on THE SAME DAY?! That jerk is on his own for Petrocelli – time to actually go to a Fisher Cats game, OMDQ.” Okay, that last thought might’ve been a little harsh.

If you want to see the whole list, visit the above link. It will not be a disappointment.

Tuesday, May 27
Chicago Cubs – Kosuke Fukudome
Trenton Thunder – Robinson Cano

Wednesday, May 28
Trenton Thunder – Shelley Duncan

Thursday, May 29
Toledo Mudhens – Mike Hessman

Friday, May 30
Fort Worth Cats – Mayor Mike Moncrief
Hagerstown Suns – Blue Devil (Mascot)

Saturday, May 31
Fresno Grizzlies – Drag Kings
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – Frankie Rodriguez Figurine
Salem Avalanche – Matt Holliday

Sunday, June 1
Arizona Diamondbacks – Baxter (Mascot)
Beloit Snappers – Yovani Gallardo
Greensboro Grasshoppers – Miss Babe Ruth
Milwaukee Brewers – Ryan Braun
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Rico Petrocelli
Rochester Redwings – Stan/Stu Cliburn Double

I’m Happy…No, I’m Sad…No, I’m Happy…No, I’m –

In two weeks, I was planning to make the two hour trip down to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to see the Red Sox take on the Louisville Bats.  Though I’m a Red Sox fan and would welcome the chance to see youngsters like Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson for a far more reasonable price than a trip to Fenway, this trip wasn’t about them.  This trip was to be my best chance to see The Deal, Jay Bruce, the number one baseball playing prospect in the world, in action.

Alas, the Reds were not on my side.  The team announced today that Bruce will be recalled from Louisville in time for Tuesday’s game against the Pirates.  He had been crushing International League pitching, posting a .364 batting average, 10 homeruns and 37 runs batted in this season. 

Where Bruce will play when he arrives in Cincinnati is still up in the air.  I always thought he projected as a centerfielder in the majors, but apparently the good folks in the Reds front office do not share that assessment and see him as a long term solution at one of the corner outfield slots.  Problem is, those positions are currently occupied by Ken Griffey, Jr., who won’t be going anywhere at least until he hits his 600th career homerun (and probably not even then – he would need to approve any trade), and Adam Dunn, who is working on a fifth consecutive 40-homer season.  So, if The Deal is gonna see any playing time, any at all, it will probably be in center…provided he can unseat the Hall of Fame-bound duo of Corey Patterson and Ryan Freel.

I hadn’t realized this previously, but the Reds have some serious potential in the next couple of years.  A lineup featuring Bruce, Dunn, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips?  A rotation featuring Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Homer Bailey?  Careful, Reds fans – brighter days might be on the horizon.

And you know what?  All is not lost – Clay Buchholz is still on a rehab assignment in Pawtucket…

A Bus League Roster in a Major League Park

Marco with Peroni

I spent part of my Memorial Day weekend at the ballpark, thanks to fellow blogger Marco (seen with beer above), who wanted to see the Washington Nationals’ new home, and invited me to meet him there.

Marco, OMDQ and I all are part of the Channel Four News Team that once upon a time filled the pages of Awful Announcing with live-blogs to shake the very foundations of the earth. We’ve scattered a bit since then, but we all still maintain a bond, and work together whenever possible – OMDQ and I here, and Marco and I at Storming the Floor during basketball season.

Even though this was an MLB trip, I can say with some certainty that some or all of these Nats will be seen in Columbus or Harrisburg soon, because I have never seen such a concentration of low batting averages and high ERAs in one place. We watched Elijah Dukes get his average down to .102 and double-clutch at least one fielder’s choice, and wondered what the heck he was still doing in the majors. His mates aren’t much better.

The game was as sloppy as one might expect, with the Nats jumping out by six runs and then promptly giving them all back. Going into the ninth, Marco and I were trying to decide if we could stand extra innings, since we both had three-hour drives to get to our respective homes. Fortunately, the Nats did the only thing one can do in such a situation – they called in Dmitri Young to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth. Dukes had stopped swinging and walked himself to first base, and Da Meat Hook slapped a single that advanced the former Ray to third. Guillermo Mota uncorked a wild pitch that bounced high onto the backstop, and Dukes plated the winning run (Young was pulled for a pinch runner, which robbed us of the divine comedy of watching him try to get to second on the play).

One thing to know if you plan on going to Nationals Park any time soon: parking is scarce, and everything around the ballpark is under construction. The boarded up warehouses that made this area an eyesore in the past are being converted to million-dollar lofts now that the Nats have brought up the property values. We’ll keep an eye on Washington’s minor-league roster, since there will no doubt be room for some of the young guys later in the season.