One of the things that annoy me the most are Top 10 lists for a year that are published in early December. I mean there might be three weeks to go in the year. Why publish a top ten list when something still might happen to get on that list.
So, with those facts in mind and it being the last day of the year, here are my Top 10 Midwest League stories from 2009
10. Curtis Granderson rehabs with West Michigan. The Tiger outfielder made three rehab starts for the West Michigan Whitecaps. April 18, April 21, and April 22. He went 4-for-11 with an RBI in those three games. But, that wasn't the biggest impact he had for the Caps.
Those numbers may not seem like much, but for a Friday, Monday, and Tuesday in April those numbers give a pretty nice boost.
9. Sandberg returns for second stint as manager in Peoria. Speaking of giving a boost, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg was back for year number two as the skipper of the Midwest League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. The Chiefs set an attendance record of 275,673 for the season. Also, I should really do some research on this -- and maybe one day soon I will -- but the attendance of other teams in the Midwest League took a nice bump when the Chiefs came to town.
8. The long-awaited Elfstrom Stadium expansion begins. For the last several seasons, there has been talk about the home of the Kane County Cougars receiving major renovations. The year 2008 was the year in which those renovations finally began.
7. Wrigley Field hosts Chiefs and Cougars. Over 32,000 fans were on hand to watch Peoria and Kane County play at the 'Friendly Confines'. A severe rainstorm in the ninth inning forced a suspension in play, but it was a great night for the Midwest League and minor league baseball.
6. Fort Wayne. I'm copping out and combining a bunch of stories down to just one. From the construction of the new stadium and the closing of Memorial Stadium to the new name and logo, it was an eventful year in Northeast Indiana.
5. Bees "Win". The Midwest League Champion Burlington Bees got red hot in the playoffs. They swept Kane County and Cedar Rapids in the Western Division. Then, they won the first two games of the Championship Series against South Bend. The series switched from Burlington to South Bend and never got restarted. Game Three was scheduled for Friday, September 12 and was rained out. The rain never stopped and after the game on Saturday, September 13 was called, league President George Spelius declared the series over and the Burlington Bees as the Midwest Leauge Champions.
4. Midwest League expansion. After what seems like years of discussion, there was approval for adding two teams to the Midwest League for the 2010 season. The Bowling Green Hot Rods and the Lake County Captains will play 2009 in the South Atlantic League. In 2010, they will be the members 15 and 16 in the Midwest League.
3. Welcome back, Brewers. The Brewers left the Midwest League for West Virginia after the 2004 season. In late September, the Brewers announced they were coming back to Wisconsin as the parent club of the Timber Rattlers.
2. Iowa Floods. The Mississippi River flooded this year and forced the Quad Cities River Bandits to move an early season series with the Lansing Lugnuts to Cedar Rapids, Clinton, and Iowa City. Later in the season, the Cedar River flooded Cedar Rapids. This flood did not affect any Kernel games, but the city of Cedar Rapids used the parking lot of Dale and Thomas Popcorn Field as a staging area for cleanup and rescue efforts. In that same time period, the home of the River Bandits was surrounded by water and fans used bridges to get into Modern Woodmen Park. But, safety concerns force postponement of games.
1. Dayton brawl. It made national news and not the kind that anyone wants to make. But, the brawl between the Dayton Dragons and Peoria Chiefs at Fifth Third Field in Dayton -- with Chief pitcher Julio Castillo firing a baseball at a Dragon player, but missing and hitting a fan in the stands instead leading to Castillo's arrest -- is the top story in the Midwest League this year.
Argue amongst yourselves in the comments on anything that you think should be on the list.
99 dies insquequo Oris Dies.
I'll start with #23 from Ryan at BTG.
Pitcher Alex Periard
The first of several Canadians on the list (he gets extra points for being French Canadian), Periard made strides this year but apparently wasn’t quite ready to swim with the big boys just yet. Pitching within the friendly confines of the Florida State League, he held hitters pretty well in check in his 112 2/3 innings there. He induced nearly twice as many ground balls as fly balls while posting a better than 2:1 K to BB ratio. Then he moved to AA Huntsville and things got ugly. His ground ball rate tumbled, he barely struck out one batter for every one he walked and, correspondingly, his ERA jumped over two full points in his 38 innings of work. Things didn’t get any better in the Arizona Fall League for Periard, where he added the ugly tendency to give up homeruns to his repertoire.Jim at Bernie's Crew has an outfielder at #24
Lee is a speedster who is still learning to play the game at the professional level. The young center fielder has all the tools to be a successful big league leadoff hitter, but he is extremely, extremely raw. He has the speed to steal bases (34 SB), but his instincts are still a work in progress (17 CS). Haydel shows that he can hit with his .294 AVG, but his plate discipline is not good with 107 strikeouts and only 32 walks in 522 at-bats (only a 6% walk rate). Is it clear yet?Neither player is projected by the authors to be on the Timber Rattlers in 2009.
The bright side is that the 21-year old is improving. Haydel improved in practically every offensive and defensive category from the 2007 season. His batting average and on-base percentage improved from .276/.311 to .295/.335. The walk rate improved from 4.7% in 2007 to 6% in 2008. Even his defense improved, according to his fielding percentage. In center field, Lee earned a .968 percentage in 2007, while improving to a .974 fielding percentage last season. It seems that Haydel is beginning to figure it out. The young man is beginning to be more patient at the plate, and he understands that he only needs to get the ball on the ground and let his speed do the work. Over 56% of the balls he put in play were on the ground, which puts a lot of pressure on the opposing defensive infield. He projects as a prototypical leadoff hitter, and Milwaukee is grooming him to do become that type of player.
Teen baseball phenom 'Brews' up top story
The first of many we hope.
Brett Lawrie tops Langley's list of 2008's sports personalities.
The Brookswood teenager made international headlines in early June when he became the highest ever Canadian positional player selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
A six-foot-tall 200-pound catcher/infielder, Lawrie was selected 16th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers.
"There's obviously a lot of pride," the 18-year-old Lawrie told the media horde assembled on the back porch of his home on draft day. "It's great; it's the best feeling I've had ever. It's one of these moments in your life that you only get one time so you have to take everything in. It's been a real fun day."
That series reached #5 yesterday (They started at #1 and are moving down the list).
The choices are Lorenzo Cain, Brett Lawrie, Jonathon Lucroy, and Jake Odorizzi.
Head over there and vote in the poll.
MLB Network can be found on channel 107 in the Appleton area on Time Warner Cable. Right now there is just a promotional film on the channel. Regular programming starts tomorrow at 5:00pm CDT.
Now, to today's story on the evolution baseball coverage.
Starting with print:
In his book, "But Didn't We Have Fun? An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870," author Peter Morris writes on page 40:
"The game's association with the printed word spurred its growth. For starters, print was ideally suited to communicating the changes made by the Knickerbockers. As anyone who has struggled with an instruction manual can appreciate, print is not a medium that is well suited for explaining something to someone who is entirely unfamiliar with it. But ... that was not much of a problem in the 1850s because the country knew the rudiments of the game. More important, print was effective for the task at hand: listing changes, updates, and revisions to an already familiar activity and thereby creating the uniformity that American bat-and-ball games had lacked.
In the book "Breaking News: How The Associated Press Has Covered War, Peace, And Everything Else," Thomas Edison is quoted on the remarkable manner in which AP set up a single, national circuit for the 1916 World Series that featured a knotted strand 26,000 miles long. That allowed AP to deliver the play-by-play direct from the ballpark to all 700 of its media members with no intervening relay or delay.
To a certain media that is pretty important to me:
That game on Aug. 5, 1921, was broadcast by KDKA of Pittsburgh, and the hometown Pirates beat the cross-state Phillies, 8-5. Harold Arlin was the first announcer. That fall, KDKA and WJZ of Newark, N.J., broadcast the first World Series game on the radio, with Rice and Tommy Cowan calling the games. They were not actually at the game, but rather, were reading the telegraph reports over the radio. The next year, they did it from what would become known as a broadcasting booth.
To another certain media that I've spent a lot of time with:
The first televised baseball game was on May 17, 1939, a 2-1 victory by Princeton over Columbia at the latter's Baker Field. The game was aired on W2XBS, an experimental New York station that later became WNBC-TV.
The first televised MLB game was on Aug. 26 of the same year, once again on W2XBS. Just as Rice had overlapped the transition from print to radio in calling that first game, now Barber was overlapping the transition from radio to TV by calling this Dodgers-Reds doubleheader at Ebbets Field. The Reds won the first game, 5-2, and the Dodgers won the second, 6-1. Barber made the call without benefit of a monitor and with only two cameras capturing the action. One camera was on Barber and the other was behind the plate.
with this little note
The 1948 Boston Braves won the National League flag and drew 1.46 million fans, and then they decided to sell the TV rights to all of their home games for the next two years. Before long, they were raking in TV revenue but fans were staying home in droves to watch on TV instead. In 1953, the Braves moved to Milwaukee and refused all offers to televise home games.
The internet in August 2002
It was an experimental stream of a Rangers-Yankees game, viewed by 30,000 fans, many of whom were at work and going back and forth between work and play windows on their computers. The following season, Major League Baseball became the first sports league to stream its full schedule over the Internet via what would become known to fans worldwide as MLB.TV. It also presented the first opportunity for full-scale on-demand viewing, letting fans choose any half-inning of any game that season as well as classics. In 2008, iTunes downloading of key MLB games became another staple for many of us.
Mobile and MLB Network finish the story.
Freedom won 70-24. But, that wasn't the main story. Cory Jennerjohn of the Post-Crescent picks up the story.
With basketball being the common denominator, I wouldn't be surprised if a wedding buzzer replaced the customary wedding bells next summer.
Freedom girls' basketball coach Mike Vander Loop and Wrightstown girls' basketball coach Jen Drobnick met a couple of years ago at the WIAA girls' state basketball tournament, to change their annual nonconference meeting from an early-season tilt to a game around Christmas.
"I thought Freedom would be hard-butts about it," Drobnick said.
After accepting Wrightstown's offer, Vander Loop took Drobnick to one of the most unlikely places for a first date. But watching the NCAA men's basketball tournament at Buffalo Wild Wings was just fine with her.
"That was totally my style," Drobnick said. "I was really nervous and I had been out of (dating) for so long. He wasn't the kind of person that wanted to go someplace fancy and you can't go wrong with wings and beer, right?"
"I guess we kind of clicked from the beginning," said Vander Loop, who explained that the big day will be next summer, but the date hasn't been set yet. "
Click on the link for the rest of the story and a photo gallery from Dan Powers.
Todd Benzinger — best known for recording the final out of the 1990 World Series for the victorious Cincinnati Reds — today, Dec. 31, will be named the fifth different manager of the Dayton Dragons.But, did you know what Benzinger does during the baseball off-season? Click that link to find out. Click this link to read about a good day in that job.
Benzinger, a first baseman during his nine-year major-league career with Boston, the Reds, Kansas City, L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco from 1987-95, was originally hired by the Reds to be the hitting coach for the Class A Midwest League Dragons. However, early last week, Jamie Dismuke, who was supposed to manage the Dragons next season, accepted a job as hitting coach for the Class AAA team of the Atlanta Braves.
"We had a pool of 3-4 names," said Reds director of development Terry Reynolds, "and Todd was on top of that list.
"I've had dealings with him in the past and had him to spring training as a guest instructor. He has a great personality to teach and instruct."
Reynolds also promoted hitting instructor Tony Jaramillo from rookie Billings to be the hitting coach at Dayton. Rigo Beltran remains the Dayton pitching coach.
Infielder Trevor Lawhorn today signed a contract to return to the Sioux Falls Canaries in 2009. While playing for the Canaries in 2007, Lawhorn was twice signed by Major League Organizations.Lawhorn hit three homers in 29 games for the Timber Rattlers in 2007.
Lawhorn had hit .286 with four home runs and 10 RBI in the first 13 games of the 2007 season, when the Seattle Mariners grabbed him to fill a hole created by injury. After the Mariners injury problems subsided, Lawhorn was released and returned to the Canaries. Trevor’s second stint in a Canaries’ uniform lasted just 17 games, and saw him hit .319 with four homers and 14 RBI before getting signed by the Washington Nationals.
Ex-Rattler for Lara:
Ivan Blanco ('05): IP, H, 0R, 2K
Lara has made the LVBP playoffs. They start with a game at Aragua on Friday, host Zulia on Saturday, and at La Guaria on Sunday.
What's in a number?
One hundred is the basis of percentages (literally "per hundred"), with 100% being a full amount.
It is the sum of the first nine prime numbers, as well as the sum of two prime numbers (47 + 53, 17 +83, 3 + 97, 41 + 59), and the sum of the cubes of the first four integers (100 = 13 + 23 + 33 + 43). Also, 26 + 62 = 100, thus 100 is a Leyland number.
One hundred is also an 18-gonal number. It is divisible by the number of primes below it, 25 in this case. But it can not be expressed as the difference between any integer and the total of coprimes below it, making it a noncototient. However, it can be expressed as a sum of some of its divisors, making it a semiperfect number.
Oh, there's a bit more at that wikipedia link.
But, the main thing today is 100 days until Timber Rattler Opening Day 2009.
Bernie's Crew's #25
Anundsen put together a pretty good season with the West Virginia Power, going 12-8 with a 4.28 ERA. He has a very heavy fastball that works in the lower-90s or higher-80s, which allows Evan to induce tons of ground balls -- his GO/AO ratio was a very impressive 2.71. To go with that fastball, Evan throws a pretty good curveball and a changeup. He mostly relies on his fastball, however. His strike out rate is a modest 6.3 K/9 and will likely stagnate as he progresses up the system, so his upside is rather limited as a starter.Between the Green Pillars has #25 and #24
#25 Evan Frederickson
Going into the draft last year there was a lot of talk amongst Brewer fans, who had just watched Eric Gagne and his 10 million dollar deal go up in smoke, that the team should target a college closer with a chance to make a big league impact soon. Well, leave it to Jack Zduriencik to take a college closer with big upside and a lot of work needed early, because that’s what Evan Frederickson is.Jim projects Frederickson as a Timber Rattler to start 2009.
The big lefty has the classic closer stuff, a big fastball that can reach the mid 90’s and a sharp slider. His lack of a third pitch pretty much ensures he’ll be in the bullpen, though the Brewers have been giving him some starts so far to get him innings. How far he goes in the pen will depend on how well he can gain control of his prodigious stuff. He did that pretty well in his 11 2/3 innings at rookie Helena, striking out 16 and walking 5. Then he went to Low A and all hell broke loose, he walked 26 and struck out only 18 in 20 1/3 innings. If he can cut down on the walks and let his stuff take over, he could shoot right through the system and have an impact in the big league bullpen within the next couple of years.
#24 Cody Adams
The former Saluki was the final pick of the six the Brewers had in the first two rounds of the 2008 draft. Adams isn’t a dominator at this point in his career, though he throws a low to mid 90’s fastball that he complements with two solid, if underdeveloped, secondary offerings. What stood out most about his college numbers was his ability to avoid the BB, as he barely walked 2 batters per 9 innings.Jim projects Adams to start 2009 with the Timber Rattlers, too.
Click on the player names for the complete posts.
Lara at Caracas 7:30pm Venezuela Time (6:00pm CDT?)
I think the playoffs start pretty soon. Lara may be in with a current record of 33-29.
The MLB Network debuts at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday in about 50 million homes, by far the largest launch in cable history. It will be free on your local TV provider, easy to find and many people will stumble across it and ask the question:The reasons follow. Winks at The Bucky Channel will really get a kick out of #4.
Why should I watch?
The easiest answer is:
"Because 'House' and 'Rachael Ray' and 'Dancing With The Stars' and 'American Idol' and 'Oprah' and 'Family Guy' are going to talk about other things, like medicine and food and dancing and singing and books and gross stuff. The MLB Network is going to be all about Major League Baseball. Life is good, TiVo the rest."
For those adjusting to the concept of a different lifestyle in 2009, there is a more detailed response. Here are 10 reasons to watch:
It was the summer of 1998, and new MLB Network on-air reporter Trenni Kusnierek told onmilwaukee.com this story of what happened one day back then:There is something about #6 that is in turns neat, disappointing, and insulting. The neat part is in bold. The disappointing part is in italics. The insulting part is in bold italics.
"When I was a part-time TV producer at Channel 12, I liked to practice reporting. Well, one day during a Brewers-Phillies game at County Stadium, I had a few minutes to practice, so a photographer and I headed to one of the entrances to the lower level seating deck. I was positioned with the game behind me. The photographer insisted on using his light, which is pretty bright. So while Jose Valentin is up to bat and I'm improvising a report, I noticed people around me starting to boo. I turned around and realized that the photographer's light was shining right in the eyes of the Phillies' pitcher and the ump stopped the game because of it. The TV cameras showing the game were trained on me as the reason for the game delay, and Matt Vasgersian was poking fun at me in the TV booth. I had no idea it would distract anyone, but there I was, accidentally stopping the game with the whole stadium booing me."
Fast forward a decade. Now there are 1,200 combined total light fixtures throughout Studio 3 and Studio 42 at the MLB Network's home in Secaucus, N.J. Now Vasgersian is a studio host. Now Kusnierek is an on-air reporter. There is a good chance someone is going to unearth that little story. (Oops, we just did, thanks to Google.)
Tradition. The MLB Network will open with Don Larsen's 1956 World Series no-hitter for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first time a mass audience has seen that in more than 52 years. Guess what you are probably going to be charmed by the most? Those original commercials between innings and those announcer plugs, all signs of a halcyon time gone by. You will have Larsen and his catcher, Yogi Berra, talking about it in the studio after the game is shown. How perfect is that?So, we'll be able to watch the entire 1957 Braves-Yankees World Series in about...2015?
It won't be the Baseball Classic Channel, so don't expect to find a place that lives in the past. What you can expect to find is an all-hour network that embraces its past along with its present and its future, so that a 17-year-old fan with a microscopic attention span who tunes in will find a familiar high-volume, video-game world where you also learn about what got us to where we are today. MLB Network CEO Tony Petitti said it will take "six to seven years" to digitize the entire history of broadcast Major League Baseball, an indication of how serious the network is about remembering.
Click the link for the full list.
101 dies insquequo Oris Dies.
Tom Wopat is a guy with a lot going on these days--almost all of it good. In fact, the actor admits it's as good as it's been for a lot of years.That's from the Calgary Herald. Wopat is playing Billy Flynn in Chicago at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary December 30 through January 4.
And that's saying something.
Wopat has been a network television star, for six years in the late '70s and early '80s as a co-star on The Dukes of Hazzard. He has been a Tony nominated-Broadway actor for close to two decades in a number of shows including Chicago, which he will be performing in Calgary beginning Tuesday. And on the side, he's booking more and more work as a cabaret singer.
In fact, if Wopat could have one New Year's wish come true this year, it wouldn't be for himself or his career. It would probably be for his beloved Milwaukee Brewers (he grew up in Wisconsin) to somehow have been able to re-sign their star pitcher CC Sabathia, instead of losing him to the Yankees, who signed Sabathia to an eight-year, $161 million contract last month.
Then again, presumably Wopat understands why the ace hurler left for greener pastures-- actors, like ballplayers, have to go where the work and money is.
That's why the state of Wisconsin lost one of its most talented actors and singers four decades years ago. And that's why Wopat, who grew up worshipping Broadway and always dreamt of performing there, had to make a detour to Hollywood to get there.
Wisconsin lost Heather Graham, too. Personally, I take that as a bigger loss.
Is there something we can do? Tax breaks? Incentives? Anything?
The Chicago Cubs and Peoria Chiefs have announced the players and coaches who will make up the Peoria stop of the Cubs Caravan which is scheduled for the RiverPlex on Thursday, January 15 at 5:00 PM. Possible closer-in-waiting Carlos Marmol along with rookie sensation Jeff Samrardzija highlight the panel which also consists of pitchers Sean Marshall and Kevin Hart and 2008 Chiefs outfielder Brandon Guyer.Sounds like a fun time...if you're in Peoria.
In addition to the five players, Cubs Assistant General Manager Randy Bush, Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita, Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild, Bench Coach Alan Trammell, Hitting Coach Gerald Perry and Third Base Coach Mike Quade will be on the Caravan as well. Radio broadcaster Cory Provus will emcee the event.
5. River Bandits see upswing in attendance under new ownershipClick that link for the rest of the top ten.
It's time for Bryan LaHair to move on after the most memorable year of his professional baseball life, although it's not easy.But, he has a backer.
How can a guy not think about his first day in the big leagues, when the Seattle Mariners called him up July 18? Or his first career hit, a single July 22 when he drove a pitch from Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka into right field?
There was the first home run, July 28 at Texas off the Rangers' Scott Feldman. And the best game he played, July 29 when he went 3-for-4, homered and scored three times at Texas.
"It was an unbelievable experience," LaHair said last week before a workout at the Mariners' spring training complex. "I got my first hit and I got my first home run. But it's all in the past now. It's good for me to move on."
The question concerning the 26-year-old LaHair is whether the Mariners will move on with or without him in 2009. He hit just three home runs in 136 at-bats and the Mariners, not convinced that LaHair is the answer at first base, signed Russell Branyan early this offseason.
Renowned for his powerful left-handed stroke in the minor leagues, where he hit 73 home runs in 640 at-bats after the Mariners drafted him in 2002, LaHair had a chance to show it when the M's called him up in July.
It wasn't exactly a soft landing for LaHair.
One keenly interested observer this offseason is Terry Pollreisz, who was LaHair's hitting coach during the 2006 and 2007 seasons at Class AAA Tacoma.
Pollreisz, manager this year at Class A Wisconsin, says nobody saw LaHair's true hitting potential after he was called up.
"There's a lot more in the tank," he said.
Ex-Rattler for Lara:
Luis Valbuena ('06): 0-for-3, run
Aragua at Lara 7:30pm Venezuela Time (6:00pm CDT?)
The Journal-Sentinel headline captures the feeling pretty well.
Another crushing defeat ends forgettable season
Pffft!On a positive note, my Tonbridge Angels defeated Hastings 1-0 on the road yesterday and are settling into a playoff spot in the Ryman Premier League.
So this is how the University of Wisconsin's third season under Bret Bielema ended Saturday in the Champs Sports Bowl.
With a whimper.
With an offense incapable of scoring touchdowns when it mattered and culpable for two touchdowns on fumble returns.
With a defense that sagged and allowed a 16-play, 85-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter with the outcome still in doubt.
With an ugly 42-13 loss to a solid but unspectacular Florida State team, a defeat that will do nothing to silence the growing number of UW fans murmuring that Bielema is in over his head and dragging the UW program into the ground.
On a bitterly cold day at the south coast Tonbridge beat Hastings by a solitary Lewis Hamilton goal 3 minutes before the break.
The Packers play the Lions today at Lambeau...Lions 0-15...Packers have lost five straight...Moving on...
I'm a bit hesitant to put up this item, because the last time I mentioned a basketball team at #1 they lost their next game. But, what the heck...
For the first time in more than nine years, the Team of the '90s is back on top.Hey! According to this schedule, the Pioneers are playing in a tournament hosted by St. Norbert tomorrow and Tuesday. My alma mater plays Carthage tomorrow at 5:00pm.
UW-Platteville, which won the Division III national championship in 1991, 1995, 1998 and 1999, received 13 No. 1 votes and stands atop the latest D3hoops.com Top 25. Former No. 1 and defending national champion Wash U. lost at No. 10 Elmhurst on Saturday and slipped three spots to No. 4.
The Pioneers were last in the top spot in the poll taken through games of Dec. 12, 1999.
Other WIAC schools in the Top 25 are UW-Stevens Point at #5 and UW-Whitewater at #6.
102 dies insquequo Oris Dies.
But first, a bit about what to expect during the season.
"MLB Tonight" will air every weeknight of the regular season, beginning at 6 p.m. ET and ending at 2 a.m. ET or at the conclusion of the last game played on the West Coast, with a shorter version on weekends.Eight hours of a studio show when there are games being played? Okay.
Before getting into the bios of the people on the air for MLB TV, just a note that in the mlb.com wind up to the kick off of the network, there are some stories coming up that may be interesting. Tomorrow: Ten reasons to watch and Wednesday: Evolution of games' delivery.
Now, the Brewer alums on the network
Trenni Kusnierek brings her experience as a sports anchor on pregame Pirates broadcasts from 2003-07 and Brewers broadcasts this past season, working for Fox Sports Net in both areas. She's a graduate of Milwaukee's Marquette University with a degree in broadcast and electronic journalism. She spent two years at WDJT TV 58 in Milwaukee after breaking into the business at WQOW TV in Eau Claire, Wis.
"It goes without saying that we're thrilled to be on the ground level of the MLB Network," Kusnierek said. "We have the cream of the crop from top to bottom. That's the way I feel. Everybody is the best. Everybody is hardworking. No one thinks there are a limited number of hours or dedication they could put into the new Network, which says a lot about how successful it will be."
Dan Plesac was a left-handed reliever who saved 158 games in his 18-year career that began with the Brewers in 1986 and ended with the Phillies in 2003. As such, he was the last Philadelphia pitcher to hurl off the mound at Veterans Stadium when it closed at the end of that season. He was a three-time AL All-Star with the Brewers from 1987-89. His broadcasting career, thus far, has been short and sweet. He acted as a studio analyst, making live pregame and postgame appearances for Cubs games on Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. He also made weekly appearances on "Chicago Tribune Live," covering the Cubs and White Sox.
Matt Vasgersian leaves the balmy west coast for New Jersey and takes over as one of the main studio hosts for the Network's signature show. Before his San Diego experience, Vasgersian worked in the Brewers' broadcast booth for five seasons and had six years gaining experience in the Minor Leagues. He has a national profile, working for NBC on its Olympic broadcast team, among other major network programs.
"I'm really looking forward to this," he said. "I mean, obviously, we're all excited. But what we're not used to and what we don't know in terms of presentation is probably the most exciting part of this."
First baseman Bryan LaHair knows he didn't show the power that the Seattle Mariners had hoped in his first major league experience last year. And he saw the Mariners sign another left-hander with power, Russell Branyan, to play first base in 2009.Let the debate begin.
But LaHair, who hit three home runs in 136 at-bats this year after the M's called him up, also knows the door of opportunity hasnt completely shut.
There's no guarantee that Branyan, never a full-time player in his career, will hit with the consistency that the Mariners need. There's still an opening at DH for 2009 and the Mariners would like to add more offensive pop in left field beyond Endy Chavez.
If there's still a need in left field when spring training begins, LaHair knows just who can fill it: himself.
Makes you wonder what that whole new team name did for merchandise sales in Fort Wayne.
Adam Bohren didn’t know a Tin Cap from the Tin Man – until last week.A word from the team, please?
That’s when the Fort Wayne native was greeted at home by his parents with a dark green T-shirt emblazoned with the bright red apple logo of Fort Wayne’s minor league baseball team. It was their Christmas gift to him, and Bohren liked the logo so much he bought a team hat to go with the shirt.
“I’m kind of into ridiculous team names,” said Bohren, who now lives in Milwaukee and visits his parents about twice a year. “Because of where I’m from, people (in Milwaukee) can ask about it, and it’s a good little story. It’s something a little quirky.”
“It’s going over very well,” said Brian Schackow, vice president of sales and finance for the Tin Caps, who has been with the organization for six seasons.Not just exciting...Tremendously exciting!
Team officials revealed the new logo only a few months ago, but they’ve received three times the Internet orders for merchandise this holiday season than in the four previous holiday seasons combined, Schackow said.
And offseason sales, measured from mid-September to the first of April, have already eclipsed the best Wizards mark from the past four years by 400 percent, according to Schackow.
“Those numbers are tremendously exciting,” Schackow said.
Schackow said the struggling economy was a concern for the team, but the initial bashing from fans who took time to express their displeasure with the name was not. In fact, national logo consultants prepped team officials for the ridiculing.Well, I don't know about that....Kidding.
“They spelled out how this was going to go,” Schackow said. “They told us the first week, second week, we’d be the dumbest guys in baseball. When we started selling and selling, it put any doubts to rest.”
More at the link about how the Fort Wayne Komets merchandise is doing this year.
Mark Lowe suffered through 101 losses with the Seattle Mariners, then began his offseason by watching the Tampa Bay Rays reach the World Series.Here are some of the others who may be up for the job...
"All I could think was, 'That could be us,'" Lowe said.
Then he saw Phillies closer Brad Lidge get the final out of the Series and said to himself, "I hope to God that one day, that's going to be me."
It just might be in 2009.
The Seattle Mariners don't have a closer, having traded J.J. Putz* to the New York Mets early this month, and Lowe badly wants to win that job.
Brandon Morrow saved 10 games this year when Putz was hurt, but that's before he was converted into a starter who went into the offseason considered to be an important part of the 2009 rotation. Moving him back to the bullpen may solve one problem, but it could create another by weakening the rotation. Morrow has told the Mariners he prefers to start, but will pitch wherever the team needs him.Trust me. He's got that crazy side. Lowe got to pick the movies to watch on the bus during a road trip in 2005.
Miguel Batista, who has lost his place in the Mariners' rotation, has plenty of closing experience with 38 career saves. But he's coming off an injury-filled season when he went 4-14 with a 6.26 ERA and, at age 38 when next season begins, some wonder if the years have caught up with him.
Aaron Heilman, acquired from the Mets in the Putz trade, saved three games last year but went 3-8 and 5.21, his worst numbers since he became a big-league regular.
Then there's Lowe.
"I feel I am ready, physically and mentally," he said. "A closer has to be a little bit crazy and I've got that crazy side of me. I like to have a good time, but when it comes time to get the job done at the end of the game, I'm ready to flip that switch on and get going."
He selected Joy Ride and You Got Served. He never picked movies again.
*-For those who are just joining us, JJ Putz was in the Timber Rattler starting rotation during the 2000 season.
Maybe this got a little distracting in extra innings.
Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Luis Valbuena ('06): 1-for-4
Caesar Jimenez ('03): 2-2/3IP, 5H, 3R, 3BB, 2K
Jose Escalona ('06, '08): 2/3IP, 0H, 0R
Ivan Blanco ('05): 3IP, H, 0R, BB, K
Magallanes at Lara 4:00pm Venezuela Time (2:30pm CDT?)
Now we have to learn how to drive it," Tony Petitti said on a December tour of the MLB Network's renovated startup facility.Yeah, no one's going to be watching the Rose Bowl around that time. Anyway, head over to that link for a time line and everything.
That is what it feels like with less than a week to go before the largest network launch in cable television history. It has been a dizzying blur of design and demolition, creativity and construction, recruiting and rehearsing.
Now, nearly two years after the initial talks about what it all might look and feel like, the moment of truth is almost here. The MLB Network will greet you with its Hot Stove Show at 6 p.m. ET on Jan. 1, starting with an introductory message from the people who are about to change your world (free) in a way no other 24-hour sports network can.
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes announced Tom Trebelhorn will return for a second season as the team's field manager.
In 2008, "Treb" led the Volcanoes to their third consecutive Northwest League Western Division title with a record of 40-36.
Trebelhorn, a Portland native and graduate of Cleveland High School and Portland State University, is entering his 40th year of professional baseball as a player, coach and manager. He managed in the major leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, and was named American League Manager of the Year in 1987 by Baseball America and Sports Illustrated.
To boost post-yuletide morale on Dec 26, Potter has the officers and enlisted men change places for the dayBoxing Day wikipedia-style:
Boxing Day is a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations with a mainly Christian population. In South Africa, this public holiday is now known as the Day of Goodwill. It is based on the tradition of giving gifts to the less fortunate members of society. Contemporary Boxing Day in many countries is now a "shopping holiday" associated with after-Christmas sales.The English Premier League usually has a full-slate of games on Boxing Day. But, my Tonbridge Angels of the Ryman Premier League are off until a road fixture against Hastings United on Saturday.
This day is historically England's name for St. Stephen's Day. Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr, being stoned to death in Jerusalem around A.D. 34-35. St. Stephen's Day is usually celebrated on December 26, which is a public holiday in some countries or areas in Europe (UK, Germany, Alsace, northern part of Lorraine, Catalonia) and around the world with predominantly Christian populations.
The Angels are currently tied for third in the league table and are three points clear of Canvey Island for a playoff spot.
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The end of Bradley’s Robertson Memorial Field House was voted the biggest local sports story of 2008 by Journal Star sports editors and reporters, but it had company in the headlines with these other notable occurrences that covered highs (Matt Elliott’s swimming success), lows (the end of Jamar Smith’s Illini career) and the frightening (the Chiefs’ Midwest League brawl). Here are the rest of the local top 10 sports stories of the year:That seems a good place to stop the excerpt.
2. The Chiefs brawl
Back in July, the Peoria Chiefs made national news five days before they wanted.
With a game at Wrigley Field days away, the Chiefs found themselves on national highlights for a July 24 brawl at Dayton that ranks among the ugliest in Midwest League history.
After Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo beaned Dayton shortstop Zach Cozart and Dragons’ second baseman Angel Cabrera slid hard into second base, both teams were on edge in the bottom of the first inning.
This seems like a good place to mention that the incident in Dayton has a place on my own Top 10 list for Midwest League stories of 2008. That post will be up before the end of the year. That gives me a couple of days to figure out the other nine, I guess.
No matter the occasion, Preston Mattingly continually lives in his father's famous shadow.On growing up Mattingly and last season.
Whether he's standing next to "Donnie Baseball" at a Habitat for Humanity dedication ceremony or playing for the Great Lakes Loons, the Los Angeles' Dodgers' Class A affiliate in the Midwest League, he will always be referred to as Don's son. But it's something he's comfortable with and he doesn't feel any pressure to live up to his father's accomplishments.
He said his father, a former New York Yankees' all-star first baseman and currently the Dodgers' hitting coach, deserves credit for helping promote events such as the Habitat for Humanity dedication ceremony last month. The Tri-State Hot Stove League sponsored a house in the New Haven subdivision for victims of the 2005 tornado.
"It's all my dad," Preston said. "My dad does a really good job of taking care of everybody in the community, giving back to the community. It's pretty amazing. Everybody goes when my dad shows up."
While Preston has struggled at the plate his last two seasons in the minors, his father wrote the book on hitting — literally. He penned "Don Mattingly's Hitting Is Simple: The ABC's of Batting .300" in 2007.There is a position switch from second to the outfield coming up for Mattingly. I wonder if that means another season in Midland for the Loooooooooons.
Because Preston played AAU basketball in the summer as well as football in the fall and basketball in the winter at Central High School, he freely admits he was behind many other baseball players at his age level. Don said his son will probably be a late-bloomer.
"Preston has a pretty good chance (to move up) because he's so athletic," said Don, the 1985 American League Most Valuable Player and a six-time All-Star. "Baseball is a tough sport because it's really skilled. It takes a lot of work day in and day out."
It has everything that I look for: A future hall of famer, a mention of the Appleton Foxes, and an interesting story with a twist at the end.
Waterloo, IA -- Catcher Carl[ton] Fisk of the Waterloo (Midwest) Hawks missed the team bus for a trip to Appleton, Wis., so he decided to hitch-hike. He beat the bus there by half an hour.You know, Carl Fisk just wouldn't look right on this plaque.
The brief is from August 10, 1968...Thirteen months later, Fisk was making his major league debut.
Jamie Dismuke, who was to manage the Dayton Dragons this summer, has instead taken a job as hitting coach for the Class AAA Gwinnett (Ga.) Braves in the Atlanta Braves organization.
"It's a better situation for me," said Dismuke, who lives with his family in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he has spent the last few years as hitting coach (and the final month of last season as manager of the Class AA Lookouts). "Gwinnett is an hour and 45 minutes from my home. It's perfect for my family, plus it's a Triple-A job."
The Reds have not announced who will take over the Dragons after letting go of Donnie Scott, who managed the team the last two seasons.
Leon Roberts, a former minor-league hitting coordinator with the Reds, was announced as the Dragons manager for 2007. However, before the season, he took the same job with the Braves that Dismuke is taking, when the franchise's AAA team was in Richmond, Va.
Now Roberts is the Braves' minor-league coordinator, and he helped pry Dismuke away from the Reds.
That story is from Tuesday. Here is a follow up from Wednesday.
Cincinnati Reds director of development Terry Reynolds said he hopes to hire a new manager for the Dayton Dragons by the first of the year, but, "It won't happen this weekend, so you can relax," he said with a laugh Wednesday, Dec. 24.
On Tuesday, the Braves organization announced the hiring of Jamie Dismuke as their hitting coach at Class AAA Gwinnett (Ga.). Dismuke, who had been with the Reds organization for nine years, had been scheduled to manage the Class A Dragons.
"I was surprised by the timing," said Reynolds, mindful that most minor-league jobs are secured by now. "But I'm happy for Jamie. He has a passion for hitting, and he'll be close to (his Chattanooga) home."
..."At some point, we're going to have to add a person to our staff, but I don't know if we'll move someone we have now into the Dayton job or bring someone in from outside," Reynolds said. "We are going to look at some people from outside."
Posting is a little late today and I may be a bit distracted during the next couple of minutes. You see, there is a Highlander marathon on TV right now. It's from the first season, but it is good to see Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod back on TV again.
Season one theme:
But here at the links to an episode of I Love Lucy involving baseball and -- since it's Christmas -- Bob Hope.
Part One: with Fred taking Lucy, Ethel, and Little Ricky to Yankee Stadium
Part Two: with Lucy in a Cleveland Indians uniform trying to meet Bob Hope
Part Three: is the big wrap up and Thanks for the Memories.
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Twas Christmas Day, and all through the ballpark,Plenty more at the link. Nothing that tops conveyed-hoorayed, but there is reviewers-Brewers and pastime-climb.
Nary a prospect is lurking; Fox Cities Stadium was dark.
"We're excited to get to the new year," Rob Zerjav said —
The Rattlers president had visions of crowds in his head —
When he's out on the town or strolls through the mall,
"Everybody's starting to think about baseball."
* * *
You see, back in September, there occurred such a swap;
Longtime associate Seattle and Milwaukee made a flip-flop.
With ticket sales up 46 percent and fans full of cheer,
The team is on its second reorder of Rattlers/ Brewers co-branded gear.
* * *
"Group sales are up, and interest in corporate sponsorship is up," Zerjav added, his thoughts poetically focused on spring;
"After hearing other minor league teams talk about the struggles they're having with the economy, it's nice to know interest for us is on the upswing.
"It's been good to see our general fan base is growing because of the new affiliation" (another thought he conveyed).
"It's been busy to the point where it never really slows down. There's a little more life out here," he hoorayed.
Bing and Bowie: An Odd Story of Holiday Harmony
One of the most successful duets in Christmas music history -- and surely the weirdest -- might never have happened if it weren't for some last-minute musical surgery. David Bowie thought "The Little Drummer Boy" was all wrong for him. So when the producers of Bing Crosby's Christmas TV special asked Bowie to sing it in 1977, he refused.Here is that performance:
Just hours before he was supposed to go before the cameras, though, a team of composers and writers frantically retooled the song. They added another melody and new lyrics as a counterpoint to all those pah-rumpa-pum-pums and called it "Peace on Earth." Bowie liked it. More important, Bowie sang it.
The result was an epic, and epically bizarre, recording in which David Bowie, the androgynous Ziggy Stardust, joined in song with none other than Mr. "White Christmas" himself, Bing Crosby.
How did this almost surreal mash-up of the mainstream and the avant-garde, of cardigan-clad '40s-era crooner and glam rocker, happen?
It almost didn't. Bowie, who was 30 at the time, and Crosby, then 73, recorded the duet Sept. 11, 1977, for Crosby's "Merrie Olde Christmas" TV special. A month later, Crosby was dead of a heart attack. The special was broadcast on CBS about a month after his death.
The notion of pairing the resolutely white-bread Crosby with the exquisitely offbeat Bowie apparently was the brainchild of the TV special's producers, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion, according to Ian Fraser, who co-wrote (with Larry Grossman) the song's music and arranged it.
Crosby was in Great Britain on a concert tour, and the theme of the TV special was Christmas in England. Bowie was one of several British guest stars (the model Twiggy and "Oliver!" star Ron Moody also appeared). Booking Bowie made logistical sense, since the special was taped near his home in London, at the Elstree Studios. As perhaps an added inducement, the producers agreed to air the arty video of Bowie's then-current single, "Heroes" (Crosby introduced it).
The original plan had been for Bowie and Crosby to sing just "Little Drummer Boy." But "David came in and said: 'I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?' " Fraser said. "We didn't know quite what to do."
Fraser, Kohan and Grossman left the set and found a piano in the studios' basement. In about 75 minutes, they wrote "Peace on Earth," an original tune, and worked out an arrangement that weaved together the two songs. Bowie and Crosby nailed the performance with less than an hour of rehearsal.
There was a video of "Heroes" from the special on youtube.com. But, it wasn't of very good quality.
If you are going to watch the game when it is on, watch for the end for some classic Mehring. I was on the floor for the interview with East coach John Mielke and Ted Stefaniak was at the broadcast position up in the balcony. We were trying to figure out the wrap-up just before taping the interview by yelling to each other.
Twice the Patriots (6-1) had the ball in their hands with the clock ticking away — once at the end of regulation and again in overtime — and each time they delivered. Thanks to clutch shots from sophomores Johnny Coenen and Caleb Zeegers, East came up with a 70-69 overtime nonconference victory over Wauwatosa West (3-2).
The biggest similarity between the shots didn't come in the pressure each player felt in taking them, but in the fact neither player thought the shot was good when the ball left their hands.
"I actually thought it was going to be long," said Coenen, who hit a jump shot from just beyond the free throw line with 0.9 seconds left in regulation to tie the game 65-65. "But it hit short and rolled in so I was pretty happy."
I thought he said, "Do the interview, then come up here to do the stats and we'll wrap it up."
So after the interview, I throw it to him and rush up the bleachers to help on the wrap. By the time I get up there, Ted is saying good night.
Turns out I was supposed to give the leading scorers of the game from the floor, then Ted would wrap up the game.
Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon and for the rest of my life, I'm going to get this broadcasting thing figured out.
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Change the team and a few details...
Chiefs to put Senate Seats up for auction
The Peoria Chiefs are following the lead of other minor-league baseball teams in the aftermath of the latest political scandal in Illinois.Well, at least it's for charity.
The Chiefs announced they will auction off not one, but two special 'Senate Seats' to each home game for the 2009 season.
'Just as the United States Senate Seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama is viewed as the best opening in the Senate, the ‘Senate Seats' will be the two best seats in the house for Chiefs games,' the team said in a release.
The seats are located in the second row of section 108, directly behind home plate. They usually sell for $10 per game.
They 'Senate Seats' will be available via auction on the Chiefs Web site at www.peoriachiefs.com beginning February 1. The auctions will end 24 hours prior to each home game and begin at $20. All proceeds from the 'Senate Seat Auctions' will be distributed at the end the season among local charities.
No ex-Rattlers played for Lara on Monday
Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Luis Valbuena ('06): 4-for-4, 2B, 2 runs
Cardenales de Lara is off until 12/27
It's that time of year again. Christmas is just a couple of days away, and over the next week, the two things you'll see are a bunch of bad Bowl games and a look back at the year that was 2008 in sports. We figured we'd get a head start on everyone else.
So, here we go, with the Top Ten Local Stories of 2008. It was a year that had a little bit of everything. Celebration, controversy, and sadness. It was certainly not a dull year in Wisconsin sports. So, here we go going from Number Ten to Number One. Let the debate begin!
Honorable Mention: UW-Whitewater.That's the only Honorable Mention? Maybe the debate should be about how this is a Top 11 list? Yeah, but it goes to 11! Can anyone think of a story that might possibly belong on this list? You'll have to click on that link up top to get Cliff's reasoning.
#10 - Ryan Braun Commits to Milwaukee#9 - Wisconsin Football Falls on Hard Times#8 - Senator Kohl Cleans House#7 - Tom Crean Leaves Marquette#6 - Yost Was Toast#5 - The Rise and Fall of the Packers#4 - CC Comes to Town#3 - Brett Retires#2 - Brett Comes Back, Wearing a Different Color Green#1 Brewers Make The Playoffs
Now, if local means the three largest population centers in the state of Wisconsin, fine. But, if local means statewide, without too much thought I could add De Pere (Hockey), Eleva-Strum (Basketball), um, Grand Chute (Baseball), and Madison (Basketball) (again). Okay, maybe it is tough to get Ashland, Superior, La Crosse, Luxemborg-Casco, and Fennimore involved in this list. There has to be some room for Wausau or Tomah or Necedah though. Thoughts?
Anyway, the Favre saga is one story...one very long and everlasting story. So combine #2 and #3; drop the Braun and Wisconsin football stories to honorable mention; add three of the four stories or events linked above; drop the other one into honorable mention; and there you go.
I'd do a bit more, but I actually have things to do today...Like come up with my own Top 10 list for Midwest League stories in 2009.
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They unveiled a 100-80 on their top 100 songs of the 90's in their latest post.
Good list with lots of flashbacks. But, the main one I wanted to point out was #100.
100. Del Amitri - Roll to me - The group wasn't exactly pleased that this was their most famous song. If you were stopped at a red light when hearing it, chances are the red light lasted longer than this tune.I chimed in with a comment over there because, last week between scrounging for a caffeine fix and walking on the concourse staring at the bleakness of a baseball field covered in snow, I happened to mention Del Amitri to a co-worker. He looked at me like I had just started speaking like one of the Dead End Kids.
That's was just swell, Mac.
Anyway, here are a few Del Amitri videos.
From 1989's Waking Hours, Stone Cold Sober...which is not in the '90's and not eligible for the list as I mistakenly made a case in the comments:
From 1992's Change Everything, Always the Last to Know...which is in the '90's and not eligible for the list as I correctly made a case in the comments.
Link to the non-fan made video.
Also from Change Everything, Be My Downfall...technically a live version by Justin Currie
Be my downfall
be my great regret
be the one girl
That I'll never forget
Be my undoing
be my slow road to ruin tonight