Posts Tagged ‘Connecticut Defenders’

There’s A New Team In Richmond

After a one-year absence, minor league baseball has returned to Richmond, Virginia.

Officials announced earlier today that the Eastern League’s Connecticut Defenders franchise, which just lost in the championship round to the Akron Aeros, will move to Richmond in time for next season.  The team will play at The Diamond (the ballpark that contributed to Atlanta’s departure after the 2008 season) and its affiliation with the San Francisco Giants will continue at least through 2010.

Greg’s Connecticut Defenders Blog referred to the move last week as “the worst kept secret in minor league ball”; apparently the Eastern League has been looking to get this done for quite some time.  He’s holding out hope that the Defenders will be replaced by a short-season team as early as 2010 while accepting that the era of Double-A in Connecticut has come to an end.

If forced to find a silver lining to the situation, I guess this is it: the folks in Richmond are holding a contest to name their new team.  Entries must be submitted by September 30; one grand prize winner will receive a package that includes two season tickets for life, while four runners-up will two 2010 season passes.  I think I might suggest “Richmond Ashes,” for Richmond native Arthur Ashe, but there are a ton of potential names out there.

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Now Pitching For The San Francisco Giants…

Bumgarner - Connecticut Defenders BlogThe San Francisco Giants have bad news and good news.

The bad news is that Tim Lincecum, the team’s ace, was scratched from his start on Tuesday with back spasms.  It sounds like they’re being optimistic about the issue, which isn’t all that surprising, considering they’re pinning their hopes and dreams on his golden right arm for the next ten years or so.

The good news, though, is that Lincecum’s injury clears the way for the organization’s top prospect, Madison Bumgarner, to make his major league debut.

Only five weeks removed from his 20th birthday, Bumgarner is 27-5 with 256 strikeouts and a 1.65 ERA in 49 minor league games over the last two seasonsHe made his debut tonight against the San Diego Padres, allowing two runs on five hits (including two homeruns) in 5 1/3 innings.  He walked one and struck out four, threw 76 pitches, and was in line for the win until Brandon Medders gave up the tying run in the top of the seventh.

I saw Bumgarner pitch recently with the Connecticut Defenders, and while he found himself in several jams, his composure was impressive, especially for a kid who can’t even drink legally.  The Giants have to be looking forward to this next month, when they can see what they have up close and personal.

The nice thing is that he doesn’t have the pressure of being number one on his shoulders; Lincecum is clearly the team’s best pitcher and Matt Cain is a solid number two, meaning Bumgarner can settle in as a mid-rotation starter while he adjusts to the majors (whenever he finds himself permanently in the rotation, that is).

(Picture: Greg’s Connecticut Defenders Blog)

One More Note On Tonight’s Night At The Ballpark

One of the things Dan and I talked about was next weekend’s series against the Portland Sea Dogs.  Those games always draw big, but none may be bigger than the Saturday contest, when Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to pitch for the Sea Dogs in the first game of a doubleheader at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.  Rumor has it that over 9,000 tickets have already been sold (which would break the team’s previous attendance mark of 8,903, set this year when John Smoltz came to town).

I’m amazed at our good fortune with this.  Not only did I buy tickets to that same doubleheader last week, before the Matsuzaka news broke, but I managed to get decent seats as well.

Those tickets and the expected crowd were on my mind as I left the ballpark tonight.  Literally, as I passed the ticket window, I thought to myself, “I should see if I can get the tickets now…no, just get them the day of the game…there are going to be almost 10,000 people here that day…I don’t want to deal with Will Call when 10,000 other people are dealing with Will Call…I’m gonna see if I can get the tickets now.”

Not only could I get the tickets now, but the guy working the window was the same one who handled my frantic call after I bought just two and managed to get me two more.  I reminded him of the basics of my story and told him how impressed I had been with the service, at which point he impressed me again by saying, “I’m just glad it all worked out so the ladies were able to come to the game as well.”

This amazed me because I hadn’t mentioned that specific detail of my story when I walked up to the window, which meant that he had remembered from our previous conversation.  So either I’m the only one who calls the Fisher Cats ticket office to order tickets or the dude has a great memory.  Either way, I appreciated the personalization to the transaction.

Madison Bumgarner Is Done And So Am I

The title says it all. We’re in the top of the eighth and there are post-game fireworks, but I’m hitting the road. (Early day tomorrow and all that jazz.)

Pleasant surprise on the way out, though, when I ran into my Lozoball compatriot Dan Suitor, who works at the ballpark. He recognized me, introduced himself, and we chatted for a few. Pretty cool, even if he did make me miss my chance to take a picture of the mascot.

Why Can’t The Mascot Win The Base Race, Just Once?

There should be a rule stating that no base race contestant can be older than four-years-old. There’s nothing cute or funny about seeing some nine-year-old tearing around the bases and winning big. A real little kid, on the other hand, is hilarious because it takes like an hour and a half for them to really get moving (provided they don’t get stage fright).

Bumgarner might be finished for the night – the Defenders have someone warming in the pen. He’d be in position to get the win thanks to some bad Fisher Cats defense in the top of the sixth.

First, the pitcher fielded a comebacker and fired to second to start an inning ending double play, only he made a bad throw to the wrong middle infielder. Then, with two out they caught a runner off third but executed the rundown poorly (too much throwing, not enough running), with the ball being thrown away and the run scoring. 4-2 Defenders, mid-sixth.

And it’s official: as the Build-A-Burger promo starts, a new pitcher warms for Connecticut.  I don’t know his name, though, because they never saw fit to announce it.

MMM…Food

I’m currently standing on the concourse on the third base side of the ballpark, having left the cozy confines of Section 110 to go in search of food. As I was leaving my seat, two things happened: a guy proposed marriage to his special lady friend on the scoreboard (she said yes) and I knocked over an apple that the lady next to me had perched on the railing. She looked annoyed that I did this, even accidentally; to this, I have to say: why did you perch an apple on the railing? You were just asking to have it knocked off, even accidentally.

As for the food: I could live on Italian sausage from the ballpark if need be, and the line for this one was nonexistent. One of the things I like about this place is the good service.

Bumgarner struck out two more last inning, which gives him at last four in as many innings. The only threat was a runner who reached and stole second – I could see from my vantage point that he overslid the bag and was tagged out, but the umpire couldn’t change positions fast enough (although he did show some hustle in the attempt).

Nice Defense By The Defenders

With Madison Bumgarner in trouble yet again – first and second, nobody out, leading to the first mound visit of the night – Brad Emaus lifted a long fly to right. Todd Donovan tagged up at second and advanced to third, with Manny Mayorson attempting to move up behind him. Connecticut’s shortstop alertly cut the ball off and easily tagged Mayorson out for a rally killing double play.

A ground ball to second finished the rally off. The game is still tied, 1-1. The Defenders are in the same position in their half…

…and no sooner have I typed out those words than they attempt a sacrifice bunt, with the lead runner getting gunned down at third. Nobody wants to score runs tonight.