Archive for August, 2008

Sacramento holds a bobble election

In yet another non Goldklang promotion, the Sacramento Rivercats will hold a bobbleelection on August 30th, 2008 to determine that city’s “choice” for 2008.  The Rivercats will distribute 1,500 total bobbles and like the others, the first to run out wins.  In the past 7 elections, Barack Obama has had a decisive margin of victory, sweeping all 7 municipalities.

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New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 8/14/08

A summit of sorts occurred last week at…wait, what’s the beautiful riverfront park in Manchester, NH, called? When it was built in 1998, it was Singer Family Park, but recently they changed it. Riverside Yards? Elysian Field? No? Oh, right: It’s Merchantsauto.com Stadium now. Okay, as a tangent to this story, can anybody cite a crappier name for a stadium anywhere, ever?

But as I was saying, a summit of sorts occurred last week at the former Singer Family Park, with or without the help of the host New Hampshire Fisher Cats, who are currently in the cellar of the Eastern League’s Northern Division, 25 games behind first-place Trenton. No, the summit involved hanging out in the right-field bleachers with Bus Leagues bigwig OMDQ and his buddy Chris, cracking wise at the 13-7 drubbing the Cats received at the hands of the Harrisburg Senators. Well, 13-7 by the time the seventh rolled around. I don’t know about OMDQ and Chris, but my party called it a night at that point.

However, before the bloodbath, I was lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes tour from one of the Fisher Cats’ unflappable media-relations people. As OMDQ is well aware but I hardly knew, these guys work brutal hours: During the regular season, it’s pretty much 9 a.m. until the game ends, which this evening must have been very, very late.

Okay, first of all, this is a fisher cat. Fortunately for us, it’s stuffed, because apparently fisher cats are really mean. They’re the porcupine’s only predator.

A statue of the Splendid Splinter in the stadium’s Ted Williams Room. Not pictured: A New Hamphire license plate, with only the number 9 on it, autographed by the man himself.

Yours truly gripping the PA mic in the press box.

They make latex.

The back of the scoreboard, underneath the grandstand.

It was Aviation Night. That’s my girlfriend, Jen, in the background with the foam Fisher Cat claw. She was a menace with that thing.

That’s Slider, one of the two mascots. The other one is named Fungo, but supposedly he smells, so people call him Fungus.

It really is a beautiful field. The left-field wall is all brick, with a green manual scoreboard; in left center, following proud Toronto tradition (the Fisher Cats are the Blue Jays’ AA affiliate), there’s a hotel with suites looking out onto the game.

The aforementioned summit, top of the fifth. OMDQ on the left, me in the center, Chris at right. Harrisburg batted around that inning—the third time it happened during this gnarly game—scoring four runs on three hits and four walks.

OMDQ and Chris were sitting near the Fisher Cats’ bullpen in right field; we had a little competition to see who could get the most baseball-card-like photo of lefty mop-up guy Jo Matumoto. I liked this one with the leg kick. Matumoto, born in Brazil and listed as 37 years old, entered the game with the Cats trailing 13-7; according to the next day’s box score, he spun 4.1 scoreless innings. The home team almost mounted a comeback, but wound up losing by a final tally of 13-11. Nonetheless, although we were long gone, a big fireworks show followed the game. Just more evidence that the Bus Leagues are the greatest.

The Minor Links

Send  your tips to me at onemoredyingquail@gmail.com … or else! 

The deadline for teams to sign draft picks passed last week; three first round selections went unsigned (MiLB.com)

Peter Abraham is a HUGE Carl Pavano fan (The LoHud Yankees Blog)

Clay Buchholz: not enjoying his finest season (Baseball Musings)

Major league club not playing well?  Checking out the minor league affiliates can be a nice pick-me-up (Brothers at Arms)

David Price: on his way, but not quite there (BBTF’s Notes in a Minor Key)

Help USA Today Pick their Minor League Player of the Year

USA Today has named fife finalists for their Minor League Player of the Year, and they’re asking fans to help them decide.

The finalists are:

RHP Trevor Cahill – Midland RockHounds (As)

3B Mat Gamel – Huntsville Stars (Brewers)

LHP David Price – Durham Bulls (Rays)

C Carlos Santana – Kinston Indians (Indians)

C Matt Weiters – Bowie Baysox (Orioles)

Read the stat breakdowns at USA Today’s webpage and then vote in the poll on the left-hand side.

[USA Today]

Olympic Baseball Schedule: Four Games Left

The United States defeated Japan on Wednesday, 4-2 in 11 innings*, to lock up the number three seed in this weekend’s elimination round.  The schedule for the next three days is as follows:

Thursday, August 21
10:30 PM EST: Semifinal – South Korea (1) vs. Japan (4)

Friday, August 22
6:00 AM EST: Semifinal – Cuba (2) vs. United States (3)
10:30 PM EST: Bronze-Medal Game

Saturday, August 23
6:00 AM EST: Gold-Medal Game

San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg will start for the United States against Cuba, the defending Olympic champions, and manager Davey Johnson suggested that injured players Jayson Nix and Matt LaPorta could benefit from Thursday’s off-day and return in time for Friday’s semifinal.  Also, Trevor Cahill, who started against Japan, was pulled after three innings in case he is needed out of the bullpen.

*I didn’t mention this when it was first introduced, but is there a stupider rule in any sport than the new extra innings rule that was put in place for these Olympics?  If you’re unfamiliar with the particulars, here they are:

Beginning in the 11th inning, runners go to first and second and teams can start at any point in their batting order.

I always thought that a homerun-hitting contest would be the worst idea I ever heard for resolving tie games that dragged deep into extra innings.  I was wrong.  Call me a traditionalist, but I hate this rule.  Two runners on and the opportunity to lead off the inning with your best hitter?  Why not start off every batter with a 2-0 count as well?  Let’s just get totally wild and crazy.

Your Olympic Baseball Update

Man, now that Michael Phelps is out of the water and into the record books, these Olympics just seem to be flying by, don’t they?  It feels like baseball just started a couple of days ago…now we’re nearing the end of preliminary play and getting ready to move on to the medal rounds.  By Saturday, it’ll be all over.

The good news is that with a 4-2 record entering Wednesday’s 7:00 AM (EST) game against Japan, the United States will be one of the four teams that advances to the next round.  The bad news?  Their draw is still uncertain, and will be for another twelve hours or so.  Cuba, currently in second place with a 5-1 record, is finishing its preliminary schedule right now against China (1-5); they are scoreless in the first inning.  South Korea (6-0) plays The Netherlands (1-5) at 11:30 EST.  Win or lose, the South Koreans should be guaranteed the top spot (they beat Cuba head-to-head), but the articles I’ve perused seem to indicate that Cuba has a chance at being the top seed.  Maybe if the team they lost to comes into play – Cuba’s lone defeat would have been to a team with a better record than South Korea’s.  Anyway, we’ll know the answer to that question in just a few short hours.

The three and four seeds are actually easier to figure out.  The United States and Japan are both 4-2.  As noted above, they play each other tomorrow morning.  The winner gets the third seed, the loser gets the fourth.  Thursday is an off day, with the medal round starting on Friday

The 1-4 game will be played at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, and 2-3 will be at 6 p.m. that night. The losers of those two games will play for the bronze medal starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, and the two winners of those semifinals will meet at 6 p.m. to decide who gets the gold and who gets the silver. It’s all getting much clearer now.

Win or lose, the United States has three games left: tomorrow against Japan, the first elimination game against Cuba or South Korea, and the medal round game.  On the bright side, they will have San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg, who allowed one hit in seven innings in his only appearance thus far, on the hill for at least one of those contests – it’s just a question of throwing him on Friday or holding him back for the medal game on Saturday.  Trevor Cahill – 5 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 3 K in his only start – is scheduled to go against Japan, leaving Brandon Knight, Brett Anderson or Jake Arrieta as the likely candidates to get the call in the remaining game.  Knight started on Tuesday against Chinese Taipei and is probably out.  

On the gloomy side, the American offense is nicked up: second baseman Jayson Nix fouled a bunt attempt off his eye in a loss to Cuba and is expected to miss the rest of the tournament, Matt LaPorta has a mild concussion and is 1-for-15 overall (he also ran over China’s catcher, a minor leaguer in the Mariners’ system, and tore the guy’s ACL – just an overall awesome week), and Mike Hessman doesn’t seem to have recovered from a heel injury.  Still, our guys have to win just one of their remaining games to take home a medal, and they’ve played every opponent tough so far.  If they can get past that Cuba/South Korea road block on Friday, the gold is certainly not out of the question.

(Random question here: Jayson Nix is Laynce Nix’s brother.  Why did their parents feel the need to drop random Ys into their names?  This has me very confused.)

UPDATE: Cuba is beating the crap out of China, 10-0, in the third inning.  South Korea and The Netherlands are just underway, with the South Koreans taking an early 2-0 lead.

MORE UPDATE: Make that 14-0 and 2-0.  I’m gonna go all Brokaw on this and call it South Korea #1, Cuba #2.

FINAL UPDATE: 17-1 and 10-0, respectively.  South Korea gets the top seed and will play the loser of the USA-Japan game that starts in about 3 1/2 hours.  Cuba is the second seed and will, of course, play the winner.

Bowling Green Nickname Contest Down to Seven Finalists

I relayed the news a while back that the Columbus Catfish (Rays) would soon be moving to Bowling Green, Kentucky. An open call for a new nickname was issued by the franchise, and fans responded. Our Buddy Will G. suggested Bowling Green Corvettes, because the automobile is made in BG. I actually think that’s better than any of the auto-themed choices below, but there may have been a copyright issue we are not aware of.

Here are the finalists:

Bowling Green Speedsters: Speedsters combines Bowling Green’s automotive heritage with the speed of Minor League Baseball pitching. Imagine fast cars, fast players and fast pitches!

Bowling Green Cave Shrimp: Bowling Green’s Mammoth Cave is home to the endangered Kentucky Cave Shrimp, a sightless albino shrimp. The blind cave shrimp has been registered as an endangered species since 1983.

Bowling Green Hot Rods: For years, Hot Rods have raced on the drag strip at Bowling Green’s Beech Bend Park. The area hosts the annual Hot Rod Reunion and Buick Grand Nationals. Hot Rods celebrates the Corvette heritage and the city’s love of motorsports.

Bowling Green Bluegills: Many Bowling Green citizens fish in the nearby Barren River for Bluegill, a freshwater fish notorious for nibbling and stealing bait off a fisherman’s hook.

Bowling Green Turbos: Turbo is the key ingredient to giving an automobile more power! And a turbo-charged team will be taking the field at a high rate of speed!

Bowling Green Sparkplugs: Sparkplugs celebrates the Corvette heritage and the city’s love of motorsports while embracing the fun kind of team name Minor League Baseball is known for.

Bowling Green Mammoths: Mammoth Cave is the longest underground cave system known in the world. Mammoths celebrates Bowling Green’s connection with the cave region while providing great mascot opportunities.

[Our Sports Central]

Words cannot express how much I want this nickname to be Cave Shrimp. God I love that name. What terrorizes an opponent more than a blind, translucent crustacean? And, if you can’t terrorize your opponents, at least you can scare the pee-waddins out of the young children with a visit from the mascot.

Vote here for your favorite.