"He was a tremendous man."

I received an e-mail yesterday. The title made me stop for a second. Then, I opened it, read it, and said, "Oh my god!"

I lost a friend.
The Notre Dame hockey team's final regular-season home game Friday, although a victory, wasn't without a pang of sadness.

The program announced Friday afternoon that radio play-by-play announcer Mike Lockert, 43, died unexpectedly late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

No further details of Lockert's death were available late Friday.

"It's just devastating to me," Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said after his team's 5-0 win over Michigan State. "I got to know Mike real well. I was just dumbfounded (Friday) morning when I found out. There's nothing I can say except that he was a part of our team.

"It's not just so much about the voice but the man behind the voice. He was a tremendous man."

The hockey program honored Lockert with a tribute prior to its game against Michigan State, which included some of his recent radio calls and a moment of silence.

Lockert, who hailed from Los Angeles, had been the radio voice of Notre Dame hockey for seven seasons. He previously served as both the media relations director and radio announcer for the South Bend Silver Hawks baseball team, the job which brought him to South Bend.

"The journey for me has seen its ups and downs," Lockert wrote of his college hockey broadcasting career for ccha.com, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's Web site, on Feb. 13, 2008. "But it is a journey that I would not want to detour in any way, shape or form.''

Many of you may not know Mike Lockert. Your life would have been much better if you had.

I met Mike in 2002 when he started as the radio announcer in South Bend. We had a few things in common. There was hockey: I was still broadcasting it for the Green Bay Gamblers and he had just wrapped up working for the Huntington (WV) Blizzard of the ECHL before moving to South Bend. Then, there was broadcasting: We both loved it.

He has this way of making you laugh. And even though he is gone I will always say that Mike has this way of making you laugh. That's because between bouts of sadness and anger at his passing I have been remembering the times he made me laugh and that is making me laugh.

There was the way he tried out a German accent when teasing me about my heritage. It was a cross between Sgt. Schultz and Dr. Strangelove.

There was the way the chair in the visiting radio booth in South Bend had an poster of Ron Burgundy on it to welcome me to town one time. In Mike's mind, Ron Burgundy was based on my hairstyle. We had a good laugh and quoted some movie lines and I got back to work. Later, I shut the door to the radio booth and there was another Ron Burgundy poster on the door. I laughed even harder.

In 2004, Mike and I got to work a couple of innings together. It was on the radio broadcast of the All-Star Game in Cedar Rapids. Those few innings were a lot of fun and Mike and I got in the game action and made Kernel broadcaster John Rodgers and the rest of the crew in the radio booth crack up more than once.

There are a lot more and I've been remembering them.

Then, there was 2005. By that time, Mike hadn't been on the radio for a few years due to the Silver Hawks not having a radio contract. But, he stayed on as the media relations director. The Timber Rattlers and the Silver Hawks met the the MWL Championship Series that year. South Bend won the first two games in South Bend. The Rattlers won the next two in Appleton to set up Game Five.

South Bend would win the game and the Championship and I was little down since it was the end of the season and the Ratters had lost. But, right after I wrapped up the post-game show, Mike walks into the booth. Smelling of champagne and smiling ear to ear he congratulated me and the Rattlers on a geat season.

Most of you know that I hate losing. But, that day, it didn't seem so bad.

But, yesterday and today have been pretty bad. Here's why:

I talked to Mike about two weeks ago. He was excited, as usual. Notre Dame was playing very well. But, he wanted to talk about his new summer job. He was going to be broadcasting for the Green Bay Bullfrogs. He asked about the market. I told him that -- of course -- we could never speak or hang out with each other again and we had a good laugh about that.

He called right before our Tuesday staff meeting and I had to cut the call short to get into it. He wished us luck on the remainder of the pre-season preparations. I wished him luck on the rest of the hockey season and I promised that I'd be in touch before the baseball season started.

I guess that promise is a broken one.

Mike was only 43 years old and he did a lot in those 43 years. Here is a link to the story at WNDU-TV. Click on the link for their story on last night's game. Hear more from coach Jackson and Tim Connor, the hockey SID for the Irish. Read the comments. Get to know Mike.

And keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Friend of Mine by John Hiatt.

Friend of mine

Has gone away
Like a light from yesterday
Lost in space
Somewhere they say
This friend of mine

He could sing
Like a child
A mother's dream
So sweet and mild
Or big and mean
Loud and wild
This friend of mine

His voice is still
Like the night
Rustling winds
Of angel's flight
Take him home
To the light
This friend of mine

This friend of mine



As I was driving home from the Oshkosh Business Expo last night, I began to have a few thoughts. It began when it took me about ten minutes to scrape the snow/ice hybrid off the car.

I take that back, it actually began during the Expo when I received a call to let me know that the Appleton East at Oshkosh North basketball game I was scheduled to work had been postponed. This was to be the last broadcast on TWC Sports 32. But, now we won't be doing the game.

After the car had been mostly cleared, I started on the trek home. What normally would have taken 20 minutes, took over an hour and 15 minutes.

The snow had finally gotten to me and as I pulled into the carport of the trailer, I began channeling a speech from an 80's movie with a few alterations.

I'm not going to stand up here and give you a lecture about the values of snow and the change of seasons. I just have two simple words for you: No More.

As long as I'm here, I can promise you one thing: That I will do everything in my power to enforce my painfully simple rule of NO MORE!

I know what you're thinking. You gotta live with me and I gotta live with you. Well, it will be a whole lot simpler if you all join with me and say:


Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go to the corner bar and build a pyramid out of shot glasses. Or go in to the ballpark and sell, sell, sell.

41 dies insquequo Oris Dies!

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Want Timber Rattler Tickets? Want Donald Driver Tickets? Want both before they go on sale to the general public?

Here's how to get them!
To get tickets, call the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers box office at 1-800-WI-TIMBER (800-948-46237) and purchase the Sundays at the Park Package.

This package includes a ticket to the Donald Driver Charity Softball Game as well as three preselected games on Sundays (June 28 July 12 and August 2).

If any of these dates don’t work with summer schedules, fans can switch to other game dates.

Fans are urged call the ticket office soon to secure the best available seats.

Do it......Do it.

A bit more depth

Earlier in the week, I linked to a blog post by Jeff Johnson in which he previewed the new manager of the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The story is available on-line now.
He had an offer on the table from the Colorado Rockies. Then the Los Angeles Angels called Bill Mosiello the same day, and his summer destination became clear ... Cedar Rapids.

"God's a great man, and he has done some great things for me in my life," said the 2009 Cedar Rapids Kernels manager. "When that happened, it was a no-brainer."
Mosiello has managed in the Midwest League before this turn. He took over in Battle Creek nearly 40 games into the 2004 season.
"Ballparks are what you care about," Mosiello said. "I know Grand Rapids is a beautiful ballpark. Dayton is such a special place, I'd love to play there 30 games a season.

"I remember Cedar Rapids being a really neat place, too, when we were playing there. I played with Ever Magallanes and coached Bobby Magallanes (former Kernels managers), and they both had nothing but good things to say about being in Cedar Rapids. I'm looking forward to getting there."

Minor-league pitchers and catchers report for spring training March 8 and 9, Mosiello said, with position players reporting the next week. The Kernels' 2009 season opens April 9 at home against Beloit.

Ex-Rattler action (2/26)

Seattle and San Diego tied 4-4 in the Cactus League opener for both teams.

Ex-Rattlers for Seattle:

Jeff Clement ('05): 0-for-3, run
Rob Johnson ('05): 1-for-1
Matt Tuiasosopo ('05): 0-for-1
Greg Halman ('07): 1-for-1
Mike Wilson ('05): 1-for-3, run
Oswaldo Navarro ('04, '05): 0-for-2

Felix Hernandez ('03): 2IP, 4H, 2 runs
Mark Lowe ('05): IP, H, 0R
Shawn Kelley ('07, '08): IP, 0H, 0R, K

Missed him

I knew this would happen. But, I missed an ex-Rattler on a World Baseball Classic roster.

Chris Snelling ('00) is playing for Australia.


Projected Timber Rattler roster

Bernie's Crew edition.

Click the link for the potential roster. Here are some of Jim's thoughts:
Wow, this team is talented. The Fox Cities area should finally have a winning team in its midst.

How good is that starting rotation? Cody Scarpetta is my choice for the Breakout Pitcher of the Year in the organization. Even the "fifth starter" in my projections, Efrain Nieves, was thought to perhaps have the best arm in the Pioneer League last season.

Again, there is simply too many arms to go around. As much as I tried, I could not find space for Jake Odorizzi on the roster. I believe the young man will make his debut in Appleton in 2009, but where is he to go? Michael Bowman, Lucas Luetge, and Cody Adams all deserve to start the season in Appleton as well. Even Nick Tyson should be in that rotation.
Anything about....
The offense should be fun to watch. Brett Lawrie will absorb most of the media attention, but his supporting cast should be more than capable. Erik Komatsu and Cutter Dykstra will be entertaining to watch patrole the outfield, and Chris Dennis can hit absolute bombs.
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Final rosters

I mentioned earlier that Phillippe Aumont is going to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. It should follow that the rest of the WBC rosters were released. Instead of rolling them all out on one day...oh, here are the rest of the Rattler alums on final rosters.

Alex Liddi ('06, '07, '08) is on the Italian roster.

Shin-Soo Choo ('02) is on Korea's roster.

Greg Halman ('07) is on the roster for the Netherlands.

Felix Hernandez ('03) is on Venezuela's roster.

Craig Anderson ('00) is on Australia's roster.

David Ortiz ('96) and Alex Rodriguez (Foxes, '94) are on the Dominican Republic's roster.

Brian Fuentes ('97) and JJ Putz ('00) are on team USA!

'Might be over before it starts'

The title of this post is not good news for Ryan Feierabend ('04).
It was the day the Mariners took the field for their first baseball game of the year. But for 23-year-old left-handed pitcher Ryan Feierabend, his 2009 season might have ended before the game even began.

The Mariners revealed on Wednesday that Feierabend, expected to compete for a bullpen spot this spring, will likely undergo surgery on his left elbow next week in Los Angeles. Feierabend is to meet there next week with Dr. Lewis Yocum, who will determine the extent of the damage and decide whether surgery is the best course.

If that happens, Feierabend would undergo surgery March 4.

"It's a ligament injury," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said before his team took the field for a 4-3, 10-inning loss to the San Diego Padres in the annual charity game between the squads. "We don't know the extent of it, but it doesn't look good."
Here's hoping for the best for the former Midwest League All-Star.

Mariner exhibition opener

Some former Timber Rattlers were involved in Seattle's 4-3 loss in ten innings to the San Diego Padres yesterday. It was the exhibition opener for both teams.

Ryan Rowland-Smith ('02, '03) got the start for the M's.
In what more or less looked like a continuation of how he finished last season, pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith looked sharp in two shutout innings, allowing two hits with a walk.

Rob Johnson ('05) had the hit to send the game to extra innings. He hit a solo homer with one out in the top of the ninth and was 1-for-2 in the game.

Stephen Kahn ('05) took the loss as he allowed a run in the bottom of the tenth. Ex-Fort Wayne Wizard Kyle Blanks drove in the winning run with a two-out RBI double. Kahn walked a pair and did not strikeout a batter in 2/3 of an inning.

The rest of the ex-Rattlers in the game:
Mike Wilson ('05): 0-for-2
Jeff Clement ('05): 1-for-3
Greg Halman ('07): 0-for-1, BB
Bryan LaHair ('04): 1-for-2, BB, run, RBI
Matt Tuiasosopo ('05): 1-for-3, 3B, RBI
Oswaldo Navarro ('04, '05): 0-for-2


It begins

The first step in putting up a new video board is taking down the things that are in the way.

Click the picture for a larger image. Did you like the way I kept the snow out of that picture?

The regular Wednesday Baseball on TV posts are going on hiatus. They will return at some point during the season or maybe in September.

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Brewers on the radio today

I need to track down my walkman before heading out the door this morning. The first Brewer broadcast of the year is on WTMJ at 2:00pm today.

This is the debut of Cory Provus as a Brewer announcer and it will be good to hear hall of famer Bob Uecker again.

I'm not sure if the game is on the network, but hey! Would it be free on this new-fangled internet thingy, too?

Yesterday and Today in Mariner camp

The Mariners had an intrasquad game yesterday.

Geoff Baker reports that Jeff Clement ('05) went 0-for-2 with a walk.

Look who gets the start today for the Mariners in the exhibition opener.
Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith -- who passed up a chance to pitch for Australia in the World Baseball Classic so he could stay in camp and show Wakamatsu and his all-new coaching staff that he belongs in the five-man rotation -- makes his first "meaningful" pitches of the spring.
Good luck, RRS.

The switch

Baseball America has picked up on the Brett Lawrie to second story. They go the route of using a scout's comment -- BIG surprise -- from last spring that compared Lawrie to Dan Uggla. Then,

Now Lawrie will get to make that comparison look even smarter. The Brewers’ 2008 first-round pick, drafted as a catcher, will play second base this spring, according to BA correspondent Tom Haudricourt. According to Haudricourt, part of this move is calculated, as Lawrie believes he can move quicker at a position where he’s familiar, and part of it is an acknowledgement of the depth of catching talent ahead of him in the farm system, with Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy.

The real thing to remember is that Lawrie’s best position is in the batter’s box—a lot like Uggla.

Just pointing out that the first I heard of this story was at BrewerFan.net, through that post below on projected rosters. The news of him working out at second base was originally broken -- as far as I know -- in this post from February 10.

Bernie's Crew, The Bucky Channel, and Chuckie Hacks all check in with thoughts on the news. Click on those links for those individual posts.


Baseball America released their top 100 prospects for 2009. That link is to the top 20. You can click through to the rest of the list from there.

Let's see where ex-Rattlers wound up on this list.

This guy...he was with the Rattlers in '07...got traded to the Orioles...for Erik Bedard.

Chris Tillman at #22

Greg Halman ('07) is at #57

Michael Saunders ('06) is at #65

Carlos Triunfel ('07) at #89

Phillippe Aumont ('08) at #93

Potential future Rattler Brett Lawrie checks in at #81.

Check the rest of the list to see if I missed anyone. (Ex-Rattlers and potential future Rattlers only, please).


From the Right Field Bleachers

Right Field Bleachers has an interview with Blake Billings up at the site. Why bring this up? Well...
Right-handed starter Blake Billings joined Right Field Bleachers for a phone interview this evening. The 19-year-old prospect from Tuscaloosa, Ala. was drafted by the Brewers in the 19th round of the 2008 draft. The 6′5” pitcher went 10-3 with a 1.52 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings in his senior year of high school in 2008. He threw three shutouts and one no-hitter on the way to Hillcrest High School’s Class 6A baseball championship. And he didn’t slow down after joining the Rookie League Arizona Brewers in July, posting a 2.25 ERA and 15 strikeouts in just 12 innings. Currently working out in Arizona before minor-league Spring Training begins, Billings hopes to start the 2009 season in Appleton with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Then, there's this:
Have the Brewers given you any indication where you’ll start out playing this year?

No, they will let me know after Spring Training in April so I’ll know then.

Do you have any hopes for where you’ll end up?

Well, I would love to be on a full-season team such as Wisconsin, the Timber Rattlers or whatever, the Low-A club. But, you know, my goal is just to make it to the big leagues and however long it takes is however long it takes. I just want to keep playing ball for as long as I can. As long as God let’s me play, I want to keep playing.
'the Timber Rattlers or whatever'?....

Anyway, this projected roster from a few days ago did not have Billings starting the season with the Timber Rattlers....or whatever.


Leading off

In 2008, the Timber Rattlers switched the name of the Welcome Home Banquet to The Leadoff- Experience. They also switched formats from dinner and speakers to an experience. I'm told that it was a big success. The plan is to do it again this year. Here is the team release.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are proud to welcome Gord Ash, Vice-President - Assistant General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers as the featured guest at the 2009 Lead-Off Experience. The event, formerly known as the Welcome Home Banquet, will feature an interactive interview program hosted by [some guy who announces, blogs, and sells advertising for the Rattlers]. Fans attending the event will hear from the newest Timber Rattlers players along with the new coaching staff, including field manager Jeff Isom, pitching coach Chris Hook and hitting coach & Appleton resident Matt Erickson.

The Timber Rattlers’ ‘Lead-Off Experience’ will be held at the Wave Bar and Ballroom on Wednesday, April 8, 2009. It will feature an autograph session with players & coaches along with a cash bar beginning at 5:30pm. Autographs will continue until 6:15pm followed by a family-style dinner served at 6:30pm before the interactive program begins at 7pm.

Tickets are $30 each or $300 for a table (9 people plus a player). A kid’s meal (chicken fingers & French fries) will also be available to fans 12 and under for $15. Seating is limited and tickets must be purchased in advance. Please contact Mary Robinson at (920)733-4152 or mrobinson@timberrattlers.com to reserve your tickets.
I may have changed something in that release. It's in the brackets. Hey, I'm only doing what the Post-Crescent did on their website, kind of did.
An autograph session with Rattlers players and coaches will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a family style dinner at 6:30 p.m. An interactive interview program in which fans can hear from Rattlers manager Jeff Isom, hitting coach and Appleton native Matt Erickson and pitching coach Chris Hook will start at 7 p.m.

Tickets cost $30 per person or $300 for a table, which includes nine people and a player. A kids’ meal will be made available to fans 12 years of age and younger for $15.
By the way interactive means you get to ask questions of the coaching staff, players, and Gord Ash.

I'll bet you can come up with better ones than [some guy who announces, blogs, and sells advertising for the Rattlers]. See you there.

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Opening Weekend '09

Nothing to link to yet, but there is this.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are excited to announce Time Warner Cable as the presenting sponsor of the Timber Rattlers Opening Weekend 2009.

The festivities will kick off at Time Warner Cable Field on Thursday, April 9th with a Fang & Bernie Brewer double bobblehead giveaway sponsored by the cable provider. Every fan attending Opening Day is guaranteed to receive the commemorative figurine that symbolizes the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ new affiliation with the Milwaukee Brewers. Fans will also have the opportunity to get their picture taken with Fang, Bernie Brewer and the Time Warner Cable Road Runner beginning when stadium gates open at 5pm.
Just for a reminder of what that bobblehead looks like:
Can I mention the ticket deal for opening weekend? I can? Good. Here it is.
Time Warner Cable is also offering a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ ticket to all current Time Warner Cable subscribers. The offer is valid for Rattlers games at Time Warner Cable Field on Thursday, April 9th @ 6:35, Friday, April 10th @ 6:35 and Saturday, April 11th @ 1:05pm. Time Warner Cable subscribers can present their cable bill at any Timber Rattlers ticket window to receive one complimentary ticket with purchase of same seat type.
See you there.

A Chat

Not over this new-fangled internet thing either. Jeff Johnson, the Cedar Rapids Gazette beat writer for the Kernels, had a phone conversation with the new manager of the Midwest League team in CR.

That link is to the following story on Jeff's blog that will run in the paper at some point this week.
He had an offer on the table from the Colorado Rockies. Then the Los Angeles Angels called Bill Mosiello that same day, and his summer destination was clear … Cedar Rapids.

“God’s a great man, and he has done some great things for me in my life,” the 2009 Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager said. “When that happened, it was a no-brainer.”

Mosiello, 44, takes over a Kernels club that was originally supposed to be led by 2008 manager Keith Johnson. But longtime minor-league field coordinator Bruce Hines left the Angels in early January to take a major league job with Seattle, causing a ripple effect of moves, with Johnson being promoted to high-Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

Having pro experience as a manager and hitting coach in the New York Yankees system, Mosiello was hired by the Angels in late January. He had been an assistant coach at Auburn University, with assistant’s experience at other powerhouse programs such as Arizona State, Southern California, Cal State-Fullerton and Tennessee.

“When I decided to maybe get back into (pro ball), my wife was all for it,” Mosiello said. “But it just had to be the right place. The Angels are a special organization top to bottom.

He's gonna pitch

Phillippe Aumont ('08) will pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
Right-hander Phillippe Aumont, who decided several weeks ago that his arm would not be strong enough to pitch for Team Canada in a starting role, has changed his mind and will join the team as a reliever.

Thought not invited to big-league camp, he has been working out at the Peoria Sports Complex since early January.

"First of all, (Team Canada) asked me to go as a starting pitcher and I said 'I can't do that,'" he said Monday morning. "The Mariners didn't want me to go as a starter either because it could mean pitching four or five innings.

"I was kind of sad when I couldn't go [to the Classic]. But after I got here and started throwing some bullpens, my arm felt really good and I thought that I might be able to go there as a reliever."

Aumont, 20, called his agent, who contacted Mariners and Team Canada officials, and everyone decided that an inning or two of relief should not tax his arm all that much and permission was granted.
What is one of Aumont's dreams? I'll let him tell you.
"I don't know how they plan to use me," he said, "but one of my dreams is to pitch against (Team USA)."

Missed this in all the good feelings

When the Mariners signed Ken Griffey, Jr., they needed to add him to their 40-man roster. To make room for Junior, they had to release someone. I haven't been following the story closely enough to know who that was...Until now.

It turns out that Mike Wilson ('05) was the releasee. He was signed back very quickly.
Two days after being released to make room on the 40-man roster for Ken Griffey Jr., the Seattle Mariners have re-signed outfielder Mike Wilson.

Wilson, 25, was the team's second-round pick in the 2001 draft, and is a power hitter in a minor league system without many of those.

Two stories about hockey?

Yes. Hockey. In Wisconsin. Potential Hockey teams to be truthful.

#1. That Professional Hockey Hotbed of Madison.
Twin Lakes Hockey Partners, LLC, is proud to announce the return of professional hockey to Madison for the 2009-10 season.

We are currently in negotiations with Madison-area venues and several professional hockey leagues, but there is no doubt, PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY IS RETURNING TO MADISON.

While the details are being ironed out, we are asking the public to get involved and choose the name for the team. Using the poll on this page, please let us know what you want the name of the new hockey team in Madison to be.
That is from the official website of this new hockey "team". Why bring this up?

One of the choices is Ice Muskies, which is either a blatant rip-off of or an homage to one of the former Midwest League teams based in Madison.

Oh, and then there is this.

Madison has not fielded a pro hockey team since 2000, when the Kodiaks of the United Hockey League headed to Kalamazoo, Mich., after one season at the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum.

That concluded a five-year run in Madison by the UHL, with the Madison Monsters preceding the Kodiaks.

When the Monsters left town for Knoxville, Tenn., owner Andrew Wilhelm claimed to have lost $1.5 million during his four-year run.

After the Kodiaks departed, the man who was instrumental in bringing the team to the city said it was a mistake. "This is probably the worst minor league market I've seen in my life," Leo Hunstiger told The Capital Times in 2000.

Tjapkes said the new Madison team's prospective owner has done his research on the experiences of those franchises and will not repeat their mistakes.

Research! It solves everything and helps you to dream big in a market that hasn't supported professional hockey...ever.

Hockey story #2 comes from the backyard of the Beloit Snappers.

What’s in a name?

Janesville could learn the answer to that question in the next few weeks if the city council approves the $200,000 renovation plan for the Janesville Ice Skating Center. The upgrade, if approved at tonight’s meeting, would pave the way for the city to land an expansion franchise in the North American Hockey League.

An expansion franchise would need a nickname, of course.

“I think it’s important for the community to have ownership in the team,” said Bill McCoshen, head of the group seeking to bring junior hockey to the city. “I want it (selecting a nickname) to be a fun process.

“Janesville needs something to put its arms around.”

McCoshen hinted that he and his ownership group have a few ideas. He also said the team would most likely hold a communitywide contest to come up with a nickname.

The choices are at the story, but I had to share the Marvel Comics like logo for the generic sounding Janesville Jays.

I'm trying to decide if he is the newest member of The Mighty Avengers or if he is going to be fighting Daredevil for the next six issues.

Also, MWL President George Spelius gets a quote in this story:
Selecting a name and colors is an important first step for any franchise.

“You don’t want anything offensive to people or groups,” said George Spelius, president of the Midwest League. “Team owners have to go with what they think is right. You roll the dice on that sometimes.

“There are some real clever names out there. We’re fortunate in the Midwest League to have quite a few of the marks that are pretty good. They’ve all done quite well and have survived.”
The Snappers were mentioned earlier in the story as an example of a good nickname.


Because I've got nothing else today

I was looking for a opening to Monday Night Baseball on ABC, but there was a theme only version at youtube. But, here is a little tour into the past that will work for a last post of the day.

Travel back to the heady days of cheesy animation and cheesier music. The open to Game Two of the 1982 World Series on NBC.

A few things:

Really liked the busts of the hall of famers.

Tony Kobek? C'mon, Dick.

Coleco Vision AND Anco were the sponsors. Awesome.

45 dies insquequo Oris Dies


The TinCaps debuted their new video board on Friday. It must have worked.
The largest big-screen TV in Fort Wayne now resides at Parkview Field! On Friday, February 20th, the Fort Wayne TinCaps unveiled the Parkview Field video board for the first time, displaying a spinning TinCaps logo in near-HD quality. The video board is the second-largest in all of Minor League Baseball, measuring 26.25 feet high by 53.54 feet wide. It tips the scales at nearly 21 tons.
There is this as well:
Texas Star will also install two high-definition LED boards on the outfield wall that will each measure 5.25 feet high by 18.9 feet wide, located in the right- and left-field power alleys. More information on the final installation date will follow in the near future.
I'll be there in July...Hopefully.

The Dayton-Peoria rivalry continues

Many posts were written about the brawl between the Dayton Dragons and the Peoria Chiefs since it happened last summer.

I'm almost positive that the reporter who wrote the following did not have that brawl in mind:
Let's see. Build a downtown arena and move the Dayton Bombers there, or support the Austin Pike site and likely bring in an American Hockey League team?

There are pluses and minuses to both plans, but the ideal combination clearly would be a downtown arena AND an AHL franchise. That's really what should be explored.

With the AHL, hockey fans would know they are seeing future National Hockey League players, because that's where many of them come from. Seems logical that it would add to the experience.

Not to compare the Dragons and Bombers, but one of the reasons baseball flourishes here is that fans know they are watching the major-leaguers of tomorrow. More than 20 ex-Dragons are in camp with the Reds.

What's important is that this city should not settle for less than the likes of Peoria, Ill., for example, which has an AHL team and a downtown arena. Or Battle Creek, Mich., which already is one-up on Dayton, having managed to figure out how to attach an arena to a hotel.
The part that caught my eye is now in bold. I'm not sure -- and maybe it's just me, but, Peoria has this and Battle Creek has that is not a persuasive argumentative technique.


Guest blogger (2/22)

Hey. I'm Brick. Brick, the Bad Weather Hating Bactrian. Mehring had to duck out to get ready for Mass and he's also "geeked up" about dueling marathons of MacGyver and NCIS.

And if any of you have ever seen Mehring "geeked up" you know that nothing intelligent will be typed or spoken by him for another couple of days.

So, I'm just popping in here to point out that weather lately...to put not too fine a point on it...has sucked.

Snow and cold yesterday.

High of 21 with flurries today.

High of 22 tomorrow.

The 10-day forecast has one day with temperatures above 32 degrees.

This sucks.

And it had better turn around soon or -- by Roudha -- I'll do something drastic.

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Just putting it out there

From the official website of the Brewers

Rehab road slow for Capuano
One-time ace hopes to be back in Majors by mid-May
A bleary-eyed Chris Capuano slumps on a chair in the Brewers' Spring Training clubhouse after another long day of work. He deserves the rest.

Capuano, attempting a comeback from his second career Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, has been arriving at Maryvale Baseball Park each day at 6 a.m. MT for his rehab, which these days includes bullpen sessions and therapy at the team's Minor League complex. When the rest of team takes the field for stretching at 9:30, Capuano's workday is essentially already done.
A quick recap:
Capuano is aiming to be back to game shape by mid-May, a reasonable target considering he underwent left elbow surgery on May 15 at the Birmingham, Ala., offices of Dr. James Andrews. Capuano underwent his first such procedure on May 17, 2002, when he was property of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The future.
First things first. Capuano is up to about 35 pitches in his bullpen sessions and has been working in Minor League camp so he can continue to collaborate with Kenny Patterson, the team's well-respected physical therapist. He's hoping to throw live batting practice in about three weeks, then pitch an inning or two in a big league game near the end of the team's Cactus League schedule.

"That's the hope," he said. "I'm shooting to be built up, ready to start games by mid-May, so it's pretty much on schedule. It's tougher now, because everybody else is in here going full-speed, and I wish I was doing that, too. They're having to hold me back a little bit right now."
I'm just saying that the weather in Appleton may be warm by May......

And no. I don't know anything about a rehab with the Rattlers. Just putting it out there as a possibility.

Put up or....

Prospect Insider lays it on the line for a few former Timber Rattlers: Wladimir Balentien ('04), Jeff Clement ('05), Ryan Rowland-Smith ('02, '03), and Mark Lowe ('05).
Balentien has yet to arrive in Peoria due to visa issues, but when he does, he better have his hitting shoes on. In fact, he should sleep in them.

He's 25, out of options and his defense hasn't made much progress over the past year or so.

His pitch recognition is below average and he's yet to meet a breaking ball away that he didn't like. To earn his plate appearances, Wlad is going to have to show progress and a stronger, more dedicated work ethic, or he's not long for the organization.
But, he will get a chance. Then, there's Clement:
Clement's prowess with the tools of ignorance will likely be determined once and for all this season. Whether he catches four or five days a week or splits time equally with Kenji Johjima, the M's will have plenty of data to make a decision on Clement's abilities defensively.

The 25-year-old will have to show significant improvement in receiving - he must show softer, stronger hands and pitcher-friendly framing - as well as higher levels of consistencies when it comes to throwing and blocking.
RRS, you're next and you have a chance to be more than the #5 guy in the rotation.
The one must-have for RRS is a more effective pitch against left-handed batters, who hit .311/.390/.480 against him in 2008. A better, more consistent change would help, but creating a better angle would be of assistance as well. He does pitch from the first base side of the rubber, but there's 4-6 inches more to take there.
Hello, Lowe.
In 2007, Lowe had this to say about his transition to the bullpen, and why he went from being a mediocre starter to a good reliever.

"I just started attacking the lower half of the strike zone with everything. I wasn't nibbling, I was throwing my change less, so I was only worried about two pitches. My fastball has natural sink to it, so staying down in the zone works for me."

I'd say as long as Lowe follows that same mode of attack, he'll be fine. This is year three since the surgery, so if he's ever going to get it all back, this is the year.
There is more on each player at the link.

Very similar

This Baseball America post at their prospect blog notes the similarities between the careers of a couple of former Timber Rattlers: Asdrubal Cabrera ('05) and Luis Valbuena ('06). How similar?
Cabrera: Nov. 13, 1985 in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela
Valbuena: Nov. 30, 1985 in Caja Seca, Venezuela

Cabrera: Aug. 26, 2002 (Mariners, by Emilio Carrasquel)
Valbuena: Aug. 29, 2002 (Mariners, by Emilio Carrasquel)

Professional Debut
Cabrera: 2003, Venezuelan Summer League
Valbuena: 2003, Venezuelan Summer League

Cabrera: 2006, to Cleveland
Valbuena: 2008, to Cleveland
Then, there is this:
Valbuena and Cabrera formed the Mariners’ middle infield combination in the VSL in 2003, with Cabrera handling shortstop and Valbuena slotting in at second base. The Mariners, as they did with many of their prospects under its previous front management, pushed Cabrera and Valbuena through the system quickly, with Cabrera climbing through the system like a ring-tailed lemur*.

Half way through the 2006 season, with a 20-year-old Cabrera struggling to a .236/.323/.360 line in 60 games with Triple-A Tacoma, the Mariners traded Cabrera to Cleveland for Eduardo Perez. In 2008, Valbuena found success repeating Double-A as a 22-year-old, hitting .304/.381/.483 in 70 games for West Tenn before a promotion to Triple-A, where he hit .302/.383/.373 in 58 games, and then to the majors for a brief stint before shipping off to the Indians in an offseason trade.
Head over there for what the scouts think.

*-An apparent Seinfeld reference.


Sinatra Saturday (2/21)

Apparently, last week's Sinatra Saturday was too maudlin (adjective, 1: drunk enough to be emotionally silly; 2: weakly and effusively sentimental) for some.

Consider this the antidote, Mom.

Or you might like this version:

When Bob sings a song, that song belongs to Bob.

I'm not going to break the mood by posting any pictures of the field from yesterday.

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Who wants to be a Timber Rattler?

A poster at BrewerFan.net has, um, posted roster projections for the Brewers and for all of their full season minor league affiliates in the forums.

A.) I don't want to copy and paste the whole Timber Rattler roster. Click the link and scroll down.

B.) I can't copy and paste the whole Timber Rattler roster. The format does not allow that. Well played, And That, well played.

The big news in that projection is that he has Brett Lawrie as the starting second baseman instead of at catcher.

This isn't just a wild guess. There is this.

The starting pitching rotation in this projection?

Cody Scarpetta
Cody Adams
Efrain Nieves
Lucas Luetge
Michael Bowman

Jake Odorizzi is not on this projected Timber Rattler Opening Day roster.

Click that link up top for the rest.

Who wants to be a LumberKing?

Dave Lezotte takes a run at a possible Clinton LumberKing roster at his new LumberBlog.

First up:
During our Hot Stove banquet in January, Mariners' special assistant John Boles didn't bring up a lot of names when it came to possible players, but did toss out two in specific, former Wisconsin Timber Rattlers outfielder Daniel Carroll and 20-year-old third-base prospect Mario Martinez.

Could Carroll be one of two former second-round picks roaming the Clinton outfield? Dennis Raben (second round in '08) had some nice power numbers from the left side of the plate last year in short-season Everett. He slugged five homers and drove in 14 RBI while hitting .275 (.560 slugging, .411 on-base) in 27 games. Bound to be a LumberKing? Hopefully.
What about pitching?
Could we see a third stint out of righty Nathan Adcock (2-5, 3.72 ERA in 2008), whose curveball was ranked the best in the system by BA? How about second seasons out of Donnie Hume (6-2, 2.44), Edward Paredes (7-11, 4.63) and Keith Renaud (1-5, 5.14), all who made at least 11 starts with Wisconsin last year?
I'll answer those in order with educated guesses: Maybe, No, Yes, No.
Or, it could be newcomers. Pulaski boasted solid arms like Nick Czyz (6-5, 4.08), Brooks Mohr (6-4, 3.27) and Fabian Williamson (4-3, 4.10) last season. In Everett, there weren't too many starters with ERA's under four, but Nolan Gallagher (1-1, 2.94), Bobby LaFromboise (2-2, 3.46) and Brett Lorin (1-0, 2.82) fared well in limited action. Lorin ended up making six starts with the Rattlers by season's end. Then there's high-rounders Ben Pribanic (1-2, 15.43 in AZL) and Steven Hensley (2-1, 5.22) who both struggled after being selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.
I'll only point out that Williamson is unlikely to be a LumberKing this season...or any season in the near future.
The Red Sox acquired left-hander Fabian Williamson from the Mariners in exchange for right-hander David Aardsma on Tuesday[, January 20].
The rest of those are possible.

Remember that the first time the Rattlers face the LumberKings is at the start of a series in Clinton on April 16.

Follow through

Okay, it's Saturday. There's a few things to get to regarding potential rosters, but I wanted to actually follow through on something from earlier in the week.

If you click that link you will be taken to the post from earlier this week in which Rattler Radio provided links to a Ben's Biz Blog post about promotions that missed the cut in the Quad Cities River Bandits Name the Promotion Promotion.

One that caught my eye was a promotion involving a concession stand that would sell food items that are based on the opponent playing the River Bandits that night. Ben wrote this fateful sentence: I started to brainstorm some Midwest League possibilities, but they were embarrassingly unfunny. Please let me know if you come up with anything.

Then, I responded with: Check back on Saturday. I'm not doing anything. Besides, embarrassing and unfunny never stopped me before.

Before beginning the Embarrassment and Unfunny, a quick note. I've switched this around to a theoretical concession stand at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.

Beloit Snappers: Turtle Soup

Burlington Bees: Honey Nut Cheerios. Or, just hunny in trees. We'll just need to watch out for silly old bears.

Cedar Rapids Kernels: Corn on the Cob. Geez, this is easy.

Clinton LumberKings: Something with a lot of fiber.

Dayton Dragons: Komodo Dragon.....What? You've never seen The Freshman? Besides. We have to eat them before they eat us. Careful on that second link. Nature is not pretty.

Fort Wayne TinCaps: Apple Pie. Apple Juice. Apples. Apple Jacks. Apple Fritters. Apples.

Great.Lakes.Loons: Roast duck.

Kane County Cougars: Cougar. Again, eat them before they eat us. I know, Disney teaches us that the cougar and the elk become friends and go off to have adventures. Teachers can be wrong.

Lansing Lugnuts: Didn't Klinger try to eat a Jeep in an episode of M*A*S*H? I'm going to go with actual lugnuts. Or maybe walnuts, peanuts, cashews, and various other nuts. I haven't made up my mind yet.

Peoria Chiefs: I've got nothing...tasteful. What do you do with a team with a dalmatian for a mascot? Oh!? No. Nothing tasteful.

Quad Cities River Bandits: Fritos. Nothing but Fritos.

South Bend Silver Hawks: Only a few things are more majestic than a hawk in flight. A hawk on a spit slow-roasting over a mesquite fire is one of them.

West Michigan Whitecaps: Bottle caps made of white chocolate...Or, Frappucinos.

And just for the heck of it:

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: Rattlesnake Steak.
Rattlesnakes are also a popular food in some southeastern and southwestern American cuisines and are sometimes sold in speciality meat shops. It has a flavor that has been described as similar to chicken or frog legs and a chewy texture similar to alligator.
Frog legs? Why would we serve those?


Field Photos (2/19)

These were taken at around 3:40pm on 2/19/20.

Trying to be positive on a Friday...
The Sun was out.

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Part III

The chat about the minor league system of the Brewers continues with the writers of Bernie's Crew and Between the Green Pillars chiming in on the catchers....Wonder who they might talk about in here?

Let's see....Salome....Lucroy....Ah, here he is!

Jim: Perhaps no one has been talked about more than Brett Lawrie and his desire to play catcher in the major leagues. No one has really seen him handle a pitching staff or try to block balls in the dirt, however, so he is almost a complete mystery. Part of me believes his bat will be so advanced that Milwaukee may give up on him catching and stick him at either third base or second in an attempt to get his bat in the big leagues. Brett is a wild card, but we will know more after the season.

Aaron: The team needs to stop talking about Lawrie as a backstop and send him right to second base. There is almost no depth in the Brewers’ minor league system and Lawrie's bat, if it goes the way it has been for Canada, puts him in the upper echelon at that position. Furthermore, he'll make it to the majors much, much faster.

Ryan: The Brewers are probably best served by taking a look at him behind the dish this spring, and possibly into the season, and then making up their minds if they want to stick with him back there. I'm not going to rule it out as a possibility that he could stay at catcher, but my guess is that he's a third basemen when it's all said and done. Second base could also be a landing spot, but the scouting stuff I've seen seems to suggest that he'll outgrow the position. Whatever they decide, they need to make a decision quickly and then commit to it 100%

Lawrie has been projected by just about everyone to be with the Timber Rattlers at some point in 2009.

See the voice

Dan Walsh of Sports Bubbler.com has a three-part interview with Cory Provus, the new radio announcer of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Good stuff in there,including this: Provus has a cousin by the name of Brad Sham. You know. Brad Sham!?!? The play-by-play announcer for the Dallas Cowboys?!?! Brad Sham!

Okay, maybe I was the only one that found that interesting. But, isn't that what blogging is all about?

Visa problems

When you are fighting for a starting job in the Major Leagues, this is not good.
Outfielder Wladimir Balentien remains in Curaco with visa problems. Given the number of players who want his job in left field – Ken Griffey Jr., Endy Chavez, Mike Morse, Mike Wilson and Greg Halman – each day lost could be precious. The team is out of options with Balentien and Morse, so if they don’t make the team, they’ll be put on waivers.
Balentien ('04) is out of options? He is trying to get to Spring Training from Curacao.

"Mr. Junior."

Ken Griffey is back with the Mariners. A few former Timber Rattler players can't wait for Junior to get to camp.
When Mariners first-base hopeful Bryan LaHair was a teenager, his buddies pooled some cash together for a birthday gift.

They bought him a painting of Ken Griffey Jr. he'd seen while wandering around Cape Cod. Though he'd grown up in Massachusetts, surrounded by die-hard Red Sox fans, LaHair idolized the sweet-swinging Griffey.

"I tried to emulate his swing in high school," said LaHair, a left-handed power hitter. "It wasn't like his. But I had his posters up on my wall."

The painting went up there, too. It's now in the bedroom of LaHair's brother, Jeff, who phoned Wednesday night after the Griffey deal was announced to reminisce about a childhood dream.

"It's really strange because I used to sit there dreaming of being a teammate of his when I was younger," LaHair said. "I mean, a lot of kids probably did that. But for me, it's actually going to happen. My brother called me and reminded me of that."

Mariners young and old reminisced about their favorite Griffey moments and pondered what they'd ask the slugger once he arrives in camp Saturday. The Mariners have planned a 12:30 p.m. PST news conference, then will see Griffey take the field Sunday with his new teammates.

Catcher Jeff Clement had a similar conversation with his brother by phone Wednesday, remembering how he'd pretend to be Griffey during backyard Wiffleball games in Iowa. Clement had been wondering how he'd address his boyhood idol.

"What do you call a guy like that? What do you refer to him as?" Clement asked. "And my brother made the joke 'Just call him Mr. Junior.' "
And it isn't just the hitters.
"All the younger guys are very excited to have him in the clubhouse," Mariners pitcher Ryan Feierabend said. "A lot of the guys looked up to him. The guys I'm talking about are guys who watched him in the home-run derbies, stuff like that. As far as the veterans, I'm sure they're just as excited as we are."
Feierabend ('04), LaHair ('04), and LaHair ('05) won't have to wait much longer.

10% of the game is 90% Mental

Or something like that. Which make sense when talking about the current Seattle Mariner pitcher who will be trying to take over the closer spot in the bullpen.

In this corner!
One of the biggest games going in Mariners spring training is taking place inside relief pitchers' heads.

More specifically, the pitchers are vying for a closer's role left vacant in December by the trade of J.J. Putz. Competition for the job should be fierce, and the winner will likely be whoever gets his mental game as sharp as the "stuff" he throws.

Miguel Batista — published author, Spanish-language blogger and full-time closer — believes he has the mindset to unseat odds-on favorite Mark Lowe. Some critics feel that Batista, who turned 38 on Thursday, bottomed out as a starting pitcher last year and that the only thing keeping him around as a reliever is a $9 million guaranteed salary.

But Batista insists there are two things wrong with that thinking — two broken bones in his back that he says derailed his 2008 season before he even got out of spring training.
And in this corner! From the 2005 Timber Rattlers!
For Lowe — as well as closer candidates Tyler Walker, David Aardsma and Roy Corcoran — the mental side of pitching has presented different challenges. Late in 2006 Lowe underwent career-threatening microfracture surgery. A doctor poked small holes in the bone in his elbow, drawing blood to stimulate tissue growth that could replace missing cartilage.

Such surgery takes months, even years, to recover from. Lowe spent most of 2007 learning how to uncork pitches without fearing his arm would explode. Last year, his first full season back in the majors, he began getting his fastball back up to the mid- to high-90s.

But Lowe now does more than simply throw his fastball and slider as hard as he can, something he did when breaking into the majors in 2006 before the surgery. Instead, he worked on developing a change-up to keep hitters off balance on days his slider deserted him.

"I think in the past it's been a case of knowing what my body could handle coming off the surgery," said Lowe, who the Mariners appeared to be leaning toward heading into camp. "Knowing I could handle a lot of work. Going through last year and throwing a lot, it's not even a question any more.

Lowe is focused on the mental side, too.

"Baseball's one of those games where you play 162 games and one bad outing's not going to kill you," he said. "Even two, three in a row, you can still redeem yourself down the road. It's nothing to get caught up in."
Not get caught up in? That may be the best advice...ever. Now try and follow it.

Taking advantage of nostalgia

The West Michigan Whitecaps have something planned....
Six Friday baseball games at Fifth Third Ballpark this season are designed to take Detroit Tigers fans down memory lane.

Through a promotion by the West Michigan Whitecaps called "Tiger Fridays," the Tigers' Class A minor league affiliate will bring in former Tigers players who will throw out the first pitch and sign autographs on the concourse during the game at no cost.

"We think this is a tremendous idea that will only solidify our relationship with the Tigers," Whitecaps vice president Jim Jarecki said. "There are Tiger fans all around, and bringing these guys in will only bring back the memories of Tigers past.
Memories. Pressed between the pages of my mind.
On five of the Fridays featuring George Kell, Rick Leach, Dave Bergman, John Wockenfuss and Matt Nokes, the Whitecaps will give away bobbleheads of the individuals to the first 1,000 fans.

The Aug. 28 game will be a tribute to the 1984 World Series championship team and will feature pitchers Willie Hernandez, Dan Petry and Milt Wilcox. The Whitecaps will hand out 1984 World Series championship hats to the first 1,000 fans.
Not to be outdone....Or actually to be outdone, but not to be left out...
The Great Lakes Loons, in partnership with MidMichigan Health, have announced a series of six Loons’ home games during the 2009 season paying tribute to the 25th anniversary of the Detroit Tigers’ 1984 World Championship.

As a part of the Loons’ celebration of the 1984 Tigers, three members of the team are schedule to appear at Dow Diamond and meet with Loons fans. Those players are pitchers Dan Petry (June 18), Milt Wilcox (July 29) and 1984 American League Cy Young award and MVP winner Willie Hernandez (August 29).

In addition, the Loons are offering a three-game bobblehead series featuring 1984 Tigers players Kirk Gibson (May 27), Jack Morris (July 16) and Chet Lemon (August 10).
Advantage Whitecaps.


Field Photos (2/18)

Taken yesterday around 4:00pm. Compare them with the photos from 2/17.

In the immortal words of Q*Bert....


This will have to do for Thursday Motivation today.

Click on the pictures for a larger image.

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Part II

The conversation about the Milwaukee Brewer farm system the writers at Bernie's Crew and Between the Green Pillars are having continues with Part II.

I think we would all agree that while the upper levels of the system are painfully thin on potential "impact starters," there are many intriguing arms in the lower minors. Who are we going to be talking about at this time next year as 2009's breakout pitcher?
Let's see.......
Aaron: I think you have to jump on the Jake Odorizzi train. Jake wasn't all that impressive in the few innings he got last season, but he has solid mechanics and already has four pitches in his repertoire. Odorizzi will probably spend most of the year in Appleton and will undoubtedly gain some strength as he grows into his body. In the end, I think he finds himself in the top 10 of most Brewer Prospect boards.

Ryan: I feel like we buried the lead a little bit here, because Odorizzi is clearly one of the better pitching prospects in the Brewers’ organization. Both Jim and I ranked him as the second best pitcher in the system, behind Jeffress. As Aaron mentioned, Odorizzi has four legit pitches, which is outstanding for a guy fresh out of High School. If he stays healthy, Odorizzi is almost certainly a big league pitcher, and possibly as good as a #2. He is the guy whose every start next year will be noteworthy, and I hope one of my trips up to Appleton will coincide with a start of his.
Click the link for the whole thing.

What might have been

Remember the post about the whole choose the promotion, um, promotion the River Bandits are doing?

Ben Hill did a little research and asked Ben Chiswick of the Bandits if there were any non-finalists that were interesting. Oh, you bet.

My favorite:
One hungry fan suggested offering food specials at the concession stand based on that night's opponent. For example, some sort of honey drink when we play the Burlington Bees or Chinese food when the Dayton Dragons are in town.
Ben, the one from Ben's Biz Blog, copped out.
I started to brainstorm some Midwest League possibilities, but they were embarrassingly unfunny. Please let me know if you come up with anything.
Check back on Saturday. I'm not doing anything. Besides, embarrassing and unfunny never stopped me before.

And this is all well and good. But, the window in the visiting radio booth at Modern Woodmen Park still doesn't open.


Field Photos

No baseball on TV for today. I thought about posting the first few minutes from Eastbound & Down, but far too much salty language and too many BUTT-ocks. Click here if you really must see it. I can't remember where I read it, but someone wrote that they enjoyed it the first time they saw it. It was called John Rocker's career. Again content warning on that link. So, be careful when (and where) you click.

Now, I haven't looked outside yet today. I do not know the effects of the Level Five Killstorm that hit -- or was supposed to hit -- last night. But, here is what Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium looked like at approximately 3:15 in the afternoon on 2/17/09.

Click for a larger image. Another couple of images tomorrow...maybe.

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Farm Report

The writers of Bernie's Crew and Between the Green Pillars have this over at SportsBubbler.com.

Part 1: Brewers Offseason Farm Report
Jim Breen, the author of the list over at Bernie's Crew and BC contributor Aaron Kittell will join Pillars’ regulars Ryan Topp and Jay Montague in discussing who ended up where and why, general trends within the system and taking a look forward at where the system is headed.
Just head over for the conversation.

Hear the voice

Right Field Bleachers has an interview with Cory Provus, the new radio voice of the Brewers.

There is audio and a transcript. Here is the start:
Can you talk a little about the interview process? How did you decide you were interested in the job and how did the whole process play out?

Well, let me tell you I was interested from day one. There have been a couple of jobs that have been open the last couple of seasons, but this is the only one that I’ve applied for because of the situation for a variety of reasons. I think it’s an exciting time to be a part of this team coming off a playoff run. It’s a young, exciting team. It’s a great offense. That played a role. The fact that the Brewers call Miller Park home, which is a terrific ballpark, and the fans are tremendous both home and on the road, that was a factor. Working alongside a guy like Bob Uecker, you know, I’m a student of the game of baseball. I’ve always loved it and there’s so much about the game that I know that Bob can teach me. That was a big role as well. And then I would say to top it all of is that I’m a family guy. I’m a Midwestern guy. My family is all in the northern suburbs of Illinois and that’s where they’re at and the fact that they’re only going to be about 50 minutes away from Milwaukee really kind of made this a perfect situation for me.

The interview process was great. It started picking up steam probably in mid January and that led to some phone calls and some interviews both at the radio station and with the team. And last week, actually two weeks ago, I flew out to Arizona and I had dinner with Bob and we had a great time for three hours, just kind of talking shop for maybe five minutes and then it was just laughing and telling stories for the remaining two hours and 55 minutes. So, everything kind of just fit in perfectly for me and I’m just excited to get going.
First broadcast on WTMJ is next Wednesday.

Did you notice

the new sign outside the ballpark? The one you can see on Highway 41?

This is a bigger deal than you may think:
Last year, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, helped the franchise replace its outdoor incandescent message board with a state-of-the-art LED (light-emitting diode) alternative. The sign is located at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium, on U.S. Highway 41 in Appleton, Wis.

Focus provided a $7,094 custom lighting grant to help fund the new LED message board, which uses only one-tenth the power of the old sign, saving 93,381 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually and $9,338 in energy savings on utility bills.

"We had a very positive experience working with Focus on Energy," said Rob Zerjav, president of the Timber Rattlers. "Focus walked us through the entire process - from showing our current energy usage to potential cost savings - even giving us suggestions on how to save energy in other areas of the ballpark."
That is from a press release at WisBusiness.com. For more on Focus on Energy, here is their website.

Picture from ECOS-Fox Valley


Miller Lite Tuesday (2/17)

The Camping Trip with THE CREATURE!

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The wait...

...it is almost over.
It looks like the legion of Milwaukee fans which has been itching to see their newest prospect, power-hitting catcher Brett Lawrie, stride to the plate in a Brewers uniform may have to wait just a little bit longer.

And the legion of Team Canada fans which has enjoyed watching the teenage phenom sport the maple leaf in international competition may get at least one more chance to do so before he officially embarks on what projects to be a great pro career.

Lawrie, who celebrated his 19th birthday last month, is on the provisional roster for Team Canada for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. And if recent history is any indication, he looks like a good bet to make the final cut.

The highest-drafted position player ever to come out of Canada, Lawrie was selected 16th overall last spring by Milwaukee out of high school in Langley, B.C.

Scouts drooled over the right-handed hitter's prodigious power, prominently displayed during an extended spring training exhibition doubleheader against the Seattle Mariners' Dominican League team in which he hit five homers. A pure hitter with outstanding bat speed and a good feel for hitting, the third baseman/catcher has the potential to be the whole package.
There's a joke in there about scouts and drool....but, I'm not gonna make it.

Who wants pizza?!

If you are at a Timber Rattler game this season and want a pizza, you'll be getting the best.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are excited to announce a new partnership that makes Palermo's Pizza the official pizza of Time Warner Cable Field.
Palermo's is also the presenting sponsor of Fan Fest on April 7. Details on that will follow.


Cory Provus has been finally been announced as Jim Powell's replacement in the Milwaukee Brewer radio booth.

Bob Wolfley of the Journal-Sentinel SportsDay column charts some fan reaction.
If blog posts are representative, some Milwaukee Brewers fans are not willing to forgive new team broadcaster Cory Provus for at least two sins they think he has committed, which he really has not.

First, he grew up in Highland Park, Ill., and followed the Cubs. Horrors. Then he went on to work for the Cubs the last two seasons on WGN Radio broadcasts. Double horrors.

The fact is, had he not worked for the Cubs, Provus would not have been the broadcaster WTMJ Radio announced Monday as the replacement for Jim Powell, who left to join the Atlanta Braves.

Provus, 30, will work Brewers games on radio with Bob Uecker.

Fans being fans, they think Provus' heart and soul is owned by the rival Cubs. They ignore the notion that WTMJ and the Brewers hired a broadcast professional, not a fan.

The same complaint was heard when the voice of the Chicago Bears, Wayne Larrivee, was hired to become the voice of the Green Bay Packers. After a time, what really was a non-issue became a forgotten non-issue.
I haven't seen any blog posts, but Matt at Chuckie Hacks has been charting some of the comments at the JS Online blog.

Back to SportsDay and the process...
Steve Wexler, the Journal Broadcast Group executive vice president of television and radio operations, said in a release that the station "considered hundreds of candidates" for the job.

"Cory came out on top," Wexler said. "His enthusiasm for baseball, his strong work ethic and his play-by-play skills will make him an excellent addition to our staff."

Provus said he would have a presence on WTMJ Radio during the Brewers' offseason. He said he might be used on WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) on occasion as well. His exact role in both those areas has not been worked out.

Provus said on Feb. 2 that he had dinner with Uecker in Scottsdale, Ariz., and it went on for three hours.

"We maybe talked shop for 5 minutes, and the rest was me laughing at his stories," Provus said.

"It was as pleasant and as nice as I could have hoped for," Provus said. "I got to know Bob a little the last two years, but this was the first time I really had a chance to talk to him."

Provus said he did not view his dinner with Uecker as a kind of interview, at which he had to pass Uecker's inspection.

"I really didn't look at it that way," Provus said. "Maybe others did.
First game on WTMJ is on Wednesday, February 25.


Your French lesson for today...

Phillippe Aumont pense déjà au mois de septembre

Phillippe Aumont a recommencé à lancer il y a quelques jours au site d'entraînement des Mariners de Seattle en Arizona.

Le moins que l'on puisse dire, c'est que le grand lanceur droitier a connu une première année frustrante dans le baseball majeur.

Les Mariners en avaient fait leur premier choix du repêchage universel en 2007 - le 11e au total - et on avait tous hâte de voir comment il allait se débrouiller avec les Timber Rattlers du Wisconsin, la filiale A de l'équipe dans la Ligue midwest.

Malheureusement, un insistant malaise au coude est venu perturber sa campagne.

La douleur était sournoisement apparue entre deux de ses départs. Une blessure qui aura finalement totalement transformé sa saison.

Aumont a ainsi été privé de plusieurs départs avec les Timber Rattlers.

Il a aussi raté le match des étoiles de la ligue, les Jeux olympiques de Pékin et un camp de perfectionnement des meilleurs espoirs des Mariners.

Pourtant, quand il est parvenu à lancer, on peut dire qu'Aumont s'est bien tiré d'affaires.

Ses chiffres avec les Timber Rattlers ? Quatre victoires, quatre défaites et une moyenne de 2,75 points accordés en 55 manches et deux tiers.

Ajoutez à ça 50 retraits sur des prises et vous avez le portrait d'une excellente prestation pour le jeune homme de Gatineau.

«J'ai bien hâte de retourner dans le feu de l'action, a-t-il confié récemment. Je me sens bien. Je n'ai plus mal.

«C'était un petit malaise. Rien de majeur. Quelque chose de juste assez fatigant pour que je me pose des questions. Le problème, c'est que c'est parti et revenu tout le long de la saison.

«On m'a fait passer plusieurs tests qui se sont tous avérés négatifs.Je n'ai donc jamais pensé que c'était vraiment sérieux.

«Mais comme ça ne guérissait pas, avec le temps je suis devenu un peu inquiet.»

Aumont a décidé de mettre son bras au repos complet vers la fin de l'automne, ce qui semble avoir réglé le bobo.

On peut donc comprendre qu'il avait hâte de remettre son bras à l'essai.

Ce qu'il a fait depuis la fin janvier, en préparation pour le camp d'entraînement des Mariners, qui a débuté hier et auquel il a été invité.

«L'an passé, ma présence au camp du gros club m'avait permis de prendre de l'expérience», se souvient-il.

«J'avais bien aimé entre autres côtoyer Erik Bédard.

«Il m'avait donné quelques conseils, des petits trucs qui m'ont grandement aidé par la suite.»

On le croit sur parole. Des conseils venant d'un gars qui aspire au Cy Young, ça se prend toujours bien...


Mais même si le camp d'entraînement n'en est qu'à ses débuts et que nous ne sommes que le 15 février, l'imposant lanceur de six pieds sept pouces a déjà encerclé une toute autre date sur son calendrier: le premier septembre.

Ce jour-là, les formations du baseball majeur feront passer leurs effectifs de 25 à 40 joueurs en faisant graduer ceux qui se sont démarqués dans leurs filiales. Et Aumont en-tend bien être de ceux-là.

«C'est ça, le but que je me suis fixé cette année, dit-il. Je veux être rappelé par le grand club quand viendra le september call-up.»

L'artilleur ignore le parcours que les Mariners lui feront prendre d'ici là, mais il se dit prêt à travailler aussi fort qu'il le faudra pour parvenir à endosser le même uniforme que les Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre et compagnie.

Les Mariners ont souvent démontré du flair avec leurs choix de premier tour. Ken Griffey Jr (1987), Alex Rodriguez (1993) et Jason Varitek (1994) en sont de bons exemples.

Les Mariners disputeront leur premier match préparatoire à Peoria le 25 février en recevant les Padres de San Diego.

Some of the translation is below. Copy and paste the above article into FreeTranslation.com for the whole thing.

Phillippe Aumont already thinks about the month of September

Phillippe Aumont recommenced to launch some days ago to the site of training of the Marinate Seattle in Arizona.

The less than one can say, this is that the big righthanded promoter knew a first year frustrating in the major baseball.

The Marinate had done their first choice of the universal repêchage in 2007 - the 11st one altogether - and one had all haste to see how it was going to unravel himself with the Timber Rattlers of the Wisconsin, the affiliate HAS team in the League midwest.

Unfortunately, one insisting malaise to the elbow came to perturb his country.

The pain slyly had appeared between two of its departures. An injury that finally totally will have transformed his season.

Aumont was thus deprived of several departures with the Timber Rattlers.

It also spoiled the game of the stars of the league, the Olympic Games of Peking and a camp of improving of the better hopes of the Marinate.
Aumont decided to put his arm to the complete rest towards the fall end, which seems to have regulated booboo.

One can therefore to understand that it was anxious to put back his arm to the essay.

Which it did since the end of January one, in preparation for the camp of training of the Marinate, that began yesterday and to which one it was invited.

"The past year, my presence to the camp of the big club had allowed me to take experience", it remembers.

"I had well liked among others to mix with Erik Bédard.

"It had given me some counsels, small things that big helped me afterward."

One believes it on word. Counsels coming from a guy that inhales to the Cy Young, that takes itself always well...
inhales to the Cy Young....Can someone get me a human translation...for free?
But even if the training camp is only to its beginnings and that we are only February 15, the imposing promoter of six feet seven thumbs already encircled an all other dates on his calendar: the first September.

That day, the formations of the major baseball facts to pass their effective ones of 25 to 40 players while doing to advance those that distanced themselves in their affiliates. And Aumont in stretches well being of those.

"This is that, the goal that I set up myself this year, he says. I want to be recalled by the big club when will come the september call-up."
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