Last post of the year

It's less than three hours to the 32 hour Law & Order marathon on TNT. The only bad thing is that TNT has banished the early season episodes to the late night/early morning hours. Specifically the excellent first season two-parter Torrents of Greed.

This post isn't going to have a big year-end wrap-up. There won't be a best of or worst of 2007. No top ten lists.

Just a few things:

First: Thank you for stopping by this year.

Second: Have a safe and Happy New Year.

Last: I have a lot of resolutions for 2008. But, there is only one I'm going to share here. I'm gonna try. Even if it kills me, I'm gonna try.

95 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 95 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s excerpt is from A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. Dialogue, thy name is Hemingway.

“Miss Gage,” I called. She came in. “Please ask the house doctor to come back a minute.”

He came in holding his cap and stood by the bed. “Did you wish to see me?”

“Yes. I can’t wait six months to be operated on. My God, doctor, did you ever stay in bed six months?”

“You won’t be in bed all the time. You must first have the wounds exposed to the sun. Then afterward you can be on crutches.”

“For six months and then have an operation?”

That is the safe way. The foreign bodies must be allowed to encyst and the synovial fluid will re-form. Then it will be safe to open up the knee.”

“Do you really think yourself I will have to wait that long?”

“That is the safe way.”

“Who is that first captain?”

“He is a very excellent surgeon of Milan.”

“He’s a first captain, isn’t he?”

“Yes, but he is an excellent surgeon.”

“I don’t want my leg fooled with by a first captain. If he was any good he would be a major. I know what a first captain is, doctor.”

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Latest Alumni Report

Jay has put together a Timber Rattler alumni report over at the main Rattler page.

The main thing that caught my eye was this bit about how the Rattlers now have another ex-player as a manager.
Philadelphia named Dusty Wathan ('95) manager for Williamsport (NYP)

Wathan hangs up the cleats after playing 1,019 games in the minor leagues and three in the majors.

Wathan played five of those 1,019 games as a Timber Rattler. He had one hit in 11 at bats and that one hit was a home run. He made it to the Majors as a Kansas City Royal in 2002. His stat page is HERE.

96 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 96 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s excerpt is from The Power that Preserves by Stephen R. Donaldson. This is book three in the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Covenant has just been summoned to the Land by someone he thinks would like him dead.

He was on Kevin’s Watch again, standing atop a stone shaft which joined that cliff-face somewhere out of sight below him.

For a moment, he was too surprised to be dizzy. He had not expected this; he had expected to be recalled to Revelstone. Who in the Land beside the Lords had the power to summon him? When he known Triock, the man had been a Cattleherd, not a wielder of lore. Who but the despiser could make such a summons possible?

Then the sight of the long fall caught up with him, and vertigo took the last strength from his legs. Without the hands which held him, he would have toppled over the parapet.

“Steady, my fried,” Triock’s companion said reassuringly. “I will not release you. I have not forgotten your dislike of heights.” He turned Covenant away from the wall, supporting him easily.

Covenant’s head rolled loosely on his neck, but when the Watch stopped reeling around him, he forced himself to look toward Triock. “How?” he mumbled thickly. “Who – where did you get the power?”

Triock’s lips bent in a hard smile. To his companion he said, “Did I not say that he would understand retribution? He believes that even now I would break my Oath to him.” Then he directed the bitterness of his mouth at Covenant. “Unbeliever, you have earned retribution. The loss of High Lord Elena has caused –“

“Peace, my friend,” the other man said. “He has pain enough for the present. Tell him no sad stories now.”

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Light posting advisory

There are a few things being worked on for future postings, but it's going to be light posting today, Sunday, and probably Monday morning.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I'll be around.

97 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 97 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today's book is Headslap: The Life and Times of Deacon Jones by John Klawitter and Deacon Jones.

This excerpt is Deacon (then known as Davey) and his father sharing a moment before Deacon heads off to training camp with the Los Angeles Rams.
Davey stood with his dad in the tiny Orlando airport, waiting for the DC-3 that would shuttle him to Tampa. Ishmeal stood awkwardly at his side, twisting his hat in his hands, 'Son, you mama an' your sisters wish you well. Don' misunderstand, they didn't give you no party or come along. They don' want to give you no embarrassment...if you be comin' back."

Davey shook his head, looking out at the palm trees across the short runway. This was in the days before Disney World, and the brand-new jet 707 passenger planes couldn't land there. "You think I'm comin' back?"

Ishmeal smiled and shook his head, "Only 'cept to visit."

"You the only one in Eatonville who believes," Davey said. He looked directly into his father's eyes, "Many's the night I seen you sittin' in the stands, watchin' me practice. I bet you didn't even know I seen you up there, but I want to thank you for that."

His dad shrugged his shoulders and fished in his pockets for his crumpled pack of Camels.

"I want you to know it mean the world to me. You're my number one fan." Davey was remembering back to all the practices and all the games, in the mud and the chill and the rain when Ishmeal had showed up. He wasn't only going to miss his girlfriend when he was all the way across the country. There was this quiet man who never let him down.

A smile spread across Ishmeal's face, "Always was, son. Always was."
Put today's excerpt in a baseball context.


That's probably it for now

Not much else out there. There may be a Friday Flashback post later since it's, you know, Friday and I forgot to do it last week.

Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara beat Magallanes 7-4 on 12/26.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Rich Dorman ('03): 5IP, 2H, R, 2BB, 3K (Winning Pitcher)
Asdrubal Cabrera ('05): 0-for-4
Bryan LaHair ('04): 1-for-3 HR, 2 runs
Ivan Blanco ('05): 2/3 IP, H, 0R, BB, K
Cesar Jimenez ('03): IP, H, K

Lara's game against Caribes on 12/27 hadn't been reported as of this posting.

The Cardinales host Caracas today.

98 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 98 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s excerpt is from Sharpe’s Eagle by Bernard Cornwell. This is book number two in Cornwell’s series about Richard Sharpe, a member of the 95th Rifles in the British Army during the Napoleanic Wars. This book is about a promise that Sharpe makes to a fellow soldier. Just remember, the British spell color as colour and ‘mad’ means crazy.

The time for regrets would come later, the time to be saddened by the carnage, to reflect on being alive and unwounded, most of all to regret that he could not have spent more time with the dying Lennox. Sharpe drew the great sword, hefted his rifle in his left hand, turned to the one hundred and seventy men who paraded in three ranks across the road.


As they marched Sharpe let his thoughts dwell briefly on the conversation with Lennox. Had he convinced the dying man? He thought so. Lennox was a soldier, he understood that Sharpe had so little time, and the Rifleman was convinced that he had seen relief in the Scotsman’s face. Keeping the promise was another matter: first there was this day’s business to complete. Forrest marched beside him, the two of them a few paces in front of the solitary colour that once again waved over the small formation; the Major was distinctly nervous.

‘Will it work, Sharpe?’

The tall Rifleman grinned. ‘So far it has, Major. They think we’re mad.’

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


December 26 Field Photo

Taken from the left field grass seats at 2:00pm on 12/26/07.

I missed posting this yesterday. There is some grass showing through the snow. Of course, it was snowing this morning.

Thursday Motivation (12/27)

A quick year end motivational quote from the guy on the $100 bill.
Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

It's #2

Downtown Fort Wayne Baseball has the link to the Top Ten news stories in, um, Fort Wayne. The new Harrison Square project is second on the list.
Late last year, Mayor Graham Richard announced plans to build a new baseball stadium downtown. And the stadium — scheduled to open for the Wizards' 2009 season — would be only part of the mayor's mark on downtown. The deal for a public-private partnership to build the stadium also came linked to a new hotel, condominiums, retail space and a parking garage downtown. The cost of the Harrison Square project likely will be between $125 million and $160 million.
Only a rather interesting race for mayor to replace Richard topped the stadium/condo/downtown redevelopment project.

99 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 100 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today's book is Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. The book cover has the details of the story: A disinherited knight fights to restore his name...and the crown of England...and run on sentences.

The passage is Scott's description of the aftermath of a melee for a tournament.
The consequences of the encounter were not instantly seen, for the dust raised by the trampling of so many steeds darkened the air, and it was a minute ere the anxious spectators could see the fate of the encounter. When the fight became visible, half the knights on each side were dismounted -- some by the dexterity of their adversary's lance, some by the superior weight and strength of opponents, which had borne down both horse and man; some lay stretched on earth as if never more to rise; some had already gained their feet, and were closing hand to hand with those of their antagonists who were in the same predicament; and several on both sides , who had received wounds by which they were disabled were stopping their blood by scarfs and endeavouring to extricate themselves from the tumult.
Put today's excerpt into a baseball context.


Best Debut

I hadn't seen this at Baseball America.com about a potential future Rattler, but the good folks at the United States Military Academy did.

Nick Hill Cited By Baseball America

Nick Hill will forever be viewed as one of the finest pitchers to pass through the United States Military Academy at West Point.

After being chosen in the seventh round by the Mariners during June’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and later assigned to the Everett (Wash.) AquaSox of the Northwest League (Class-A, Short Season), Hill wasted little time making a favorable impression on those within minor league baseball circles.

Hill, a two-time All-America selection who established or tied 46 school and conference records on game, season and career levels across a brilliant four-year collegiate career, was recently selected by Baseball America as having authored the “Best Debut” season of any player in the Seattle Mariners organization this past year.

In 18 appearances for the AquaSox this summer, Hill posted a deceiving 1-3 record with one save and a gaudy 0.51 earned run average. He struck out 45 and walked only nine, while permitting just 24 base hits in 35.0 innings of work. Hill, who was used exclusively out of the bullpen by Everett in an effort to limit his workload, yielded just two earned runs all season. He held Northwest League opponents to a .197 batting average and did not allow a single home run.

Looper update

From the Everett Herald comes this article on Benny Looper, a long time friend of the Rattlers

More meaningful day thanks to 'gift'
M's executive Benny Looper battles multiple myeloma.

Benny Looper had no idea he was sick.

He had no clue that a disease -- multiple myeloma -- was crawling through his bone marrow toward an outcome of pain, injury and possibly death if it wasn't discovered and treated.

All Looper knew is that he felt great and even though he was moving toward his upper 50s, he saw no need to take a physical exam.

"We're men. We're macho," said Looper, 59, the Seattle Mariners' vice president for player personnel "I never took a physical."

Then there was a shocking wakeup call in June, 2005.


The following February, Looper got one himself at the Mariners' spring training camp. It may have saved his life.

When blood test results came back, team doctor Mitch Storey noticed something that didn't look right. Looper's protein level was high.

They re-checked his blood again in August, and again in September, and the protein level remained high. Looper, who lives in Ada, Okla., in the offseason, saw an oncologist in nearby Norman, Okla., for more tests. Then he got another opinion at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Every test and every opinion confirmed that he was afflicted with the early stages of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the blood. He needed a stem cell transplant.
He got one. Head over to the link for the whole story.


Ever wonder what the top sports story of 2007 is in Midland, Michigan?

Wonder no more.

Great Lakes Loons inaugural season (40 points, unanimous first place)

It didn’t seem to matter where the Great Lakes Loons were in the Midwest League standings, or who they were playing on any given day — the fans came out in droves night after night.

And it all started on a cold, blustery evening in mid-April as the Loons debuted at Dow Diamond in front of 5,454 fans.

Great Lakes lost its first home game, 4-3, to the Lansing Lugnuts but neither that nor the chill in the air could put a damper on the spirits of the thousands of fans who flocked to downtown Midland.

“This is a blast — all the energy, seeing all the smiling faces here,” said Rod Martin, who, like many other fans, enjoyed the pre-game festivities downtown. “Everybody out on the street looks like they’re having a lot of fun.”


The positive vibe that manifested itself that April evening didn’t diminish much throughout spring, summer, and early fall. By season’s end, the Loons had drawn 324,564 fans to Dow Diamond for an average of 4,773 per game.

That total was fifth out of 14 Midwest League teams, as Great Lakes finished behind only four teams with stadiums considerably larger than Dow Diamond.

“As the momentum started building, we thought maybe we could do 270 or 280 (thousand). ... Then, we started thinking maybe we could hit 300 (thousand), but we kind of crashed right through that,” said Loons’ General Manager Paul Barbeau. “ ... We’re thrilled. That’s a big number.

100 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 100 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s excerpt is from Hogan by Curt Sampson, a very good biography of golfing legend Ben Hogan. This part of the book is just after Hogan has missed a short putt on the final hole that would have put him in a playoff for the 1946 U.S. Open. The latest in a long line of disappointments at major golf tournaments.

Hogan’s reaction to bitter defeat was his most admirable quality. Some players who later would miss from short range on the final greens of major championships – Doug Sanders at the 1970 British Open, Ed Sneed in 1979 at Augusta, and Scott Hock in 1989 at the Masters, for example – were devastated by the experience. Hogan was not, just as he had not been defeated by the staggering loss of his father or his repeated failures as a golf pro. In fact, he would endure three more eleventh-hour disasters in the U.S. Open – although the last one, in 1960, would just about do him in.

His resilience was awe inspiring. Or was it really a lack of resilience, a refusal to adapt to defeat? He won three of the next four tournaments after his screwup at Augusta; and the week following that mortifying finish at Cantebury, he and [Jimmy] Demaret won the Inverness Four-Ball. For so many years success had eluded him, the way a key or a coin under a couch gets pushed away by a grasping hand. Now winning was part of his ritual and the logical conclusion to all that practice. The downside, of course, was that no one could win all the time. Happy endings on Sundays refused to remain happy; another tournament started on Thursday. But if winning golf tournament allayed his anxiety for only an hour or a day, surely 1946 was the best of times for Ben Hogan. He entered thirty-two tournaments, won thirteen of them, was second six times, and finished third three times. In five other events, he was seventh or better. In other words, he won or almost won nearly every week. He won the most prize money ($42,556). His 1946 was, arguably, the equal to [Byron] Nelson’s spectacular 1945, simply because the competition was better with the war over.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


Merry Christmas

There may be a few baseball posts later tonight. But, I'll leave this scene at the top of the blog for now.

And I'll add this story from the Telegraph in the UK.

He is synonymous with the traditional image of the Victorian English Christmas but Ebenezer Scrooge may have his roots much further afield.

According to Sjef de Jong, a Dutch academic, the Charles Dickens character may have been inspired by the real life of Gabriel de Graaf, a 19th century gravedigger who lived in Holland.

De Graaf, a drunken curmudgeon obsessed with money, was said to have disappeared one Christmas Eve, only to emerge years later as a reformed character.

While Dickens never travelled to Holland, he may have heard of de Graaf, who attributed his transformation to visions from dwarves, through his friend Hans Christian Andersen.

It has been widely accepted that Scrooge was an expansion of an earlier Dickens character, Gabriel Grub, from The Pickwick Papers.

Grub almost mirrored the life of his namesake in Bronkhurst, 20 miles from Arnhem, Holland.

"According to local people, the real Gabriel was a terrible man, unpleasant, addicted to alcohol and violent to children. Because he was so keen on money, he even dug graves on Christmas Eve. Then he disappeared. All he left was an empty bottle of gin in the grave," Dr de Jong said.

"Years later, Gabriel showed up saying he had changed after dwarves showed him a vision of a poor young child that died because nobody cared."

There is hope.

A Merry Christmas to you all.

101 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 101 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s excerpt is from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Tom is waiting for someone to get to school.

Tom reached school ahead of time. It was noticed that this strange thing had been occurring every day latterly. And now, as usual of late, he hung about the gate of the school-yard instead of playing with his comrades. He was sick, he said, and he looked it. He tried to seem to be looking everywhere, bit whither he was really looking – down the road.

Presently Jeff Thatcher hove in sight, and Tom’s face lighted; he gazed a moment, and then turned sorrowfully away. When Jeff arrived, Tom accosted him, and “led up” warily to opportunities for remark about Becky, but the giddy lad never could see the bait. Tom watched and watched, hoping whenever a frisking frock came in sight, and hating the owner of it as soon as he saw she was not the right one. At last frocks ceased to appear, and he dropped hopelessly into the dumps; he entered the empty school house and sat down to suffer.

Then one more frock passed in at the gate, and Tom’s heart gave a great bound. The next instant he was out, and “going on” like an Indian; yelling, laughing, chasing boys, jumping over the fence at risk of life and limb, throwing hand-springs, standing on his head – doing all the heroic things he could conceive of, and keeping a furtive eye out, all the while, to see if Becky Thatcher was noticing. But she seemed unconscious of it all; she never looked. Could it be possible that she was not aware that he was there?

He carried his exploits to her immediate vicinity; came war-whooping around, snatched a boy’s cap, hurled it to the roof of the school house, broke through a group of boys, tumbling them in every direction, and fell sprawling, himself, under Becky’s nose, almost upsetting her – and she turned, with her nose in the air, and he heard her say: “Mi! Some people think they’re mighty smart – always showing off!”

Tom’s cheeks burned. He gathered himself up and sneaked off, crushed and crestfallen.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


A Rattler Radio Christmas

Not much out there today on the baseball front...Not that I am looking too much.

So, here are a few youtube videos to get you in the Christmas mood.

Something traditional:

Something else traditional:

Something decidedly non-traditional:

How did that last one get in there?

Merry Christmas, everyone.

102 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 102 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s excerpt is from A Certain Justice by P.D. James. This is an Adam Dalgliesh novel. Dalgliesh is a commander of a Special Investigation Squad for Scotland Yard in London. Dalgliesh is not in this excerpt, but the future murder victim is.

“Isn’t that a little unjust? Why should she want to hurt you? She could be genuinely fond of him.”

“For God’s sake, Drysdale, be realistic. Besotted maybe. Intrigued perhaps. Liking the spice of danger – I can understand that, he is dangerous. But what about him? You’re not telling me that Ashe is in love, and after three weeks. This is deliberate, and one or both of them engineered it. It’s directed against me.”

“By Ashe? Why should it be? I’d have expected him to be grateful.”

“He isn’t grateful and I don’t expect or want his gratitude. I want him out of my life.”

Drysdale said quietly: “Isn’t he rather more in Octavia’s life than yours?”

“I’ve told you, this is nothing to do with Octavia. He’s using her to get at me. They’re even thinking of going to the press. Can you imagine that? A sentimental picture of them in the Sunday tabloids with his are around her. ‘Mummy Saved My Boyfriend from Prison. Top QC’s Daughter Tells the Story of Their Love.’”

“She wouldn’t do that, surely?”

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.


We had a guest...

...I'm glad the place wasn't a mess.

For some reason, Rattler Radio doesn't get a lot of comments. However, there was an interesting one yesterday on the Not These J.N.s post. It went a little something like this:
Imagine my disappointment when I found out that I was NOT going to be the pitching coach for the Timber Rattlers!

I thought I'd be perfect . . . I've been responsible for a few "hits": "Queen of Hearts," "the Sweetest Thing," and I can "pitch" CD's with the best of 'em (check out juicenewton.com or CDBaby.com) and I love "playing" in the beautiful state of Wisconsin!

In all seriousness, I wish the Timber Rattlers a successful season, no matter who the "JN" pitching coach turns out to be!!!

Keep it in the strike zone,

JN Juice Newton
Looking at the sitemeter information on the visit and from what I know of "Angel of the Morning", I believe this to be the real deal.

Her myspace page is HERE. Her home page is HERE.

If you're touring through America's Dairyland next summer, try to stop by the stadium and we can try to set something up at the stadium. If not, thank you for stopping by and for the comment.

Just for the heck of it, here is the video for Queen of Hearts. Enjoy.

Thanks, Ben

Benjamin Hill of Ben's Biz Blog has an article up that mentions his belief that the Timber Rattler home jersey is his favorite Class A uniform. His thinking:
The "S" in "Rattlers" resembles a snake with a baseball curled within its tail. It is a thing of beauty.
Our farm cousins in Everett get a little mention as the best home cap in Short Season ball:
This particular toad appears to be feeling the hallucinogenic effects of licking himself.
Very 60's, man.

Also, from Ben is this post about something that the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League did before their season got into full swing.
Over the course of the summer, two members of the club's front office staff (along with a rotating cast of special guests) visited a grand total of 20 of the city's cheesesteak establishments. After each visit, they updated their website with the results of their latest mission.

This not only resulted in a comprehensive (and mouth-watering) compendium of Philly cheesesteak shops, but also provided the club's website with a virtual boatload of fresh content. Of course, this got me thinking that Minor League Baseball clubs should appropriate the Phantoms' idea.
The Summer of the Steak website for the Phantoms is HERE.

Since Ben titled his post Steal This Idea!, I was thinking about a way to tie that in with the Timber Rattlers.

My first thought was beer and different brew pubs in the area. My second thought was breakfast at some of the area restaurants. My third thought was how can I expense this? My fourth thought was "What the heck are they doing?" (I was watching the Packers get beat by the Bears as I was doing this).

After that, I stopped and decided to see what would pop into my head when I wasn't thinking about it.

Stay tuned, folks. I'll either come up with something half way entertaining, someone else on the staff will come up with something even better, or I will forget all about this until sometime in July.

Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara had a doubleheader against Zulia on Saturday. The Cardenales got out of town with a sweep.

Game One: Lara 3, Zulia 2.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Asdrubal Cabrera ('05): 1-for-3
Adam Jones ('04): 0-for-3
Oswaldo Navarro ('04, '05): 0-for-1
Cesar Jimenez ('03): 1/3IP, 0H, 0R

Of note from the Mariner system:
Brandon Morrow 5-2/3 IP, 3H, R, BB, 2K, Winning pitcher

Game Two: Lara 1, Zulia 0.
Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Adam Jones ('04): 0-for-1
Bryan LaHair ('04): 1-for-3
Oswaldo Navarro ('04, '05): 1-for-2, run
Ivan Blanco ('05): 1/3IP, 0H, 0R, K
Cesar Jimenez ('03): IP, H, 0R, save

Sunday's game:
Lara at Zulia (Underway)

103 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 103 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today's book is The Junction Boys by Jim Dent. It is about Paul 'Bear' Bryants first training camp as the head coach of Texas A&M. The passage is an eyewitness account of some of the escapees.
Watching the boys leave Junction had become as commonplace as wiping dust from his pickup's dashboard or watching government hay unloaded from freight cars. Now, as the Chevy eased down Main Street, Rob Roy focused on a scene that struck him as both surprising and odd -- several boys milling around the front door of the bus station. Most were wearing blue jeans and T-Shirts and had buzz haircuts. Texas A&M football players? Rob Roy thought. Nah. Couldn't be.

As he pulled into the station, though, Rob Roy realized it was the Aggies. They must have sneaked off from the Adjunct in the middle of the night, he thought. Guess they didn't want to wait around to say good-bye to the old man. Many of the boys appeared to be anxious, and some were pacing. A couple of the boys had rolled-up blankets, but for the most part, they carried nothing but hangdog looks. He noticed that a couple of the boys were were chewing on beef jerky.

"Morning, fellas," Rob Roy said, sliding the key into the lock. In silence, they filed into the station as the ticket clerk took his position behind the counter. It was an amazing sight, these boys who had run away from Bryant and then sneaked two miles down the dark highway to make their getaway -- like wartime prisoners who had scaled the wall and were on the run from the camp commandant.

Rob Roy noticed a handful of other boys huddling in the shadows of the other side of the bus station, and it was apparent they were hiding from someone.

One of the boys spoke up, "We gotta get out of here before Coach Bryant finds us."
Put today's excerpt in a baseball context.


Not these J.N.s

An earlier post mentioned the initials of the new Timber Rattler pitching coach as J.N.

As a way of eliminating some of the people with those initials, the following J.N.s will not be the pitching coach of the Timber Rattlers in 2008.

John Newcombe

Jana Novotna

Jack Nicholson

Julie Newmar

Jim Nabors

Juice Newton

Joe Namath

Joan Nathan

All the Pulaski news that fits

Instead putting up several posts about the new Mariner affiliate consider this a one-stop clearing house. (Is that repeating myself?)

First the announcement at MiLB.com

Minor League Baseball returns to Pulaski
After a one-year hiatus and a 15-month search, professional baseball has returned to Pulaski, Va. In a press conference on December 21, the Appalachian League announced that the Seattle Mariners will become the seventh Major League team to affiliate itself with the city.

Pulaski Baseball Inc. President and General Manager Tom Compton was elated after the announcement.

"We're excited to have a team back in Pulaski, which has a long and storied history in Minor League Baseball," said Compton. "It happened so quickly that we haven't had time to put much in motion, but we're going to proceed like we always have and meet after the New Year to put a plan together."

Frequent Fox Cities visitor Greg Hunter has a comment or two in this and many of the stories to follow:

"We've been working [on a partnership] since August, so while it may come as a surprise to some, a lot of work has gone into it," said Greg Hunter, director of player development for the Mariners. "The addition of Pulaski gives us a seventh club in the States and allows us to get more innings and at-bats for our prospects at the lower levels. We've been pretty active internationally with academies in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic and this allows us to be more aggressive bringing foreign players to the United States and speeding up the acclimation process. Domestically, it enables us to give players selected in the draft a chance to get their feet wet in professional baseball without exposing them to the more advanced Northwest League if they're not ready."

This next story is important to the folks out in Everett. The Everett Herald has this story about the impact.

AquaSox may benefit from Mariners' new farm team

The Pulaski team will allow the Mariners to better place young players with teams that match their skill levels. It also will allow them to give young Latin players another year to become comfortable in a new country.

For the AquaSox, it means fewer players may be overmatched in the Class A Northwest League.

"It depends on the given situation, but I think you're going to see a more experienced, professional young player once they reach Everett," said Greg Hunter, the Mariners' director of player development. "With the young Latin players or the more crude young high school players, it's going to be less of a jump from Pulaski to the Northwest League. It will mean more at-bats and more innings for guys at the entry level."
Geoff Baker has a story on the new team in the system at the Seattle Times. He also has a different angle.

New M's affiliate will be fast track

The answer to why the Mariners have added a seventh minor-league affiliate won't be found within this country's borders.

Instead, it was mainly the hefty number of international players being signed and developed by the Mariners that prompted them to go beyond the standard six minor-league clubs. Only a handful of major-league teams have seven affiliates and the addition by Seattle on Friday of a rookie-level team in Pulaski, Va., is one they hope will get those international prospects to the United States more quickly.

"This allows us to get them over here a year earlier to the U.S.," said Greg Hunter, recently promoted by the Mariners to the role of director of player development. "It gets them used to playing a longer season up here and helps them with things like learning the language, the culture."

This is the different angle that Baker takes:

Latin American players' adjustment to life in the U.S. is no trivial matter.

Becky Schnakenberg, CEO of Big League Communication, an Arizona-based company used by the Mariners to help their players with language and culture issues, says it's crucial to minor-leaguers progressing on the field.

"I think that, in general, we find the players that adjust to the American culture end up playing at the higher levels," said Schnakenberg, whose company also works with the Angels, Royals, Cubs, White Sox and Brewers. "From my own history, I don't really know that I've really had players who made it to the big leagues without assimilating well.

"They can't take the [on-field] instruction. They don't bond as well with their teammates, they don't bond as well with their coaches."

And here are some other considerations to look at when adding the new team.

The Mariners have tended to fast-track the more-skilled minor-leaguers through their ranks under the current regime of general manager Bill Bavasi. Hunter said he thinks the added affiliate falls in line with that philosophy, allowing hitters more at-bats and pitchers more innings of work than they'd normally get as new professionals before Class A action.

Another consideration is the uncertain political situation in Venezuela. The Mariners have an academy in that country, and — though there haven't been any problems so far — they say it wouldn't hurt to have this rookie-level fallback option in the U.S. if they had to pull out of South America.

How about the local reaction?

Baseball fans dreaming of summer in Pulaski

While historic Calfee Park is closed and locked up for the winter, many people in Pulaski are dreaming about warm summer nights and baseball. Professional baseball has been missing from the field for more than a year. However, some major news about is sure to draw the crowds in again, like they've had here on and off for more than 70 years.

"It's a great place for the young athletes to come," says Lee Landers. "They treat them well here. It fits the demographics of the league. They can commute to Princeton and commute to Bluefield. It's good for our whole league."

Mariners put Pulaski back on the diamond

The Texas Rangers looked liked they were going to be a lock to return a rookie Appalachian League team in baseball-famished Pulaski for the 2008 season.

The Washington Nationals were a natural, just a few hours up the interstate to the home offices.

The Red Sox seemed like they could be a fit, after purchasing the Class A Carolina League club in Salem. An old buddy inside the organization was even available as a potential ally.

A team from the Mexican League was exploring the unheard of possibility of putting its rookies together at an Appy League outpost. League president Lee Landers thought that one was going to have some legs.

Yet near the end, it looked as thought there would be nothing, that there would be another blue Christmas in lonely Calfee Park.

It was enough to make Tom Compton, Pulaski Baseball, Inc., managing partner, want to take down the Christmas tree and go feed his cattle.

"It's been frustrating," said Compton, who has had no baseball product to sell since the Toronto Blue Jays hauled their rookies out of town for the last time following the 2006 season.

That's why he was reluctant to say anything at all this week about a new tenant for the old ballpark until he had something on paper.

Hold the ink for now, but hello Seattle Mariners.

Here is a link with some pictures of Calfee Park. The website is Mike Castro's Fields of Dreams.

In case you are wondering where Pulaski, Virginia is, just follow this link.

No website yet for Pulaski, but the first home game for the Pulaski Mariners will be June 20.

Welcome to the system, Pulaski.

A loss in Beloit

Rick Bastian's best memories of Ken Hendricks were from the final hours of the man's life.
Hendricks and his wife, Diane, attended the Blackhawk Bank director and senior management holiday party Thursday night, before the fatal fall that would end Hendricks' life when the couple returned to their home shortly after 10 p.m.


Hendricks, 66, founder of ABC Supply Co., died early Friday after suffering a massive head injury as a result of a fall at a construction site at his home Thursday evening. He died in surgery Friday morning, according to a statement from ABC Supply.

The Hendricks couple had just returned from the party, and Ken Hendricks went to check the progress of a second-floor construction project in the garage when he fell from the second floor to the concrete garage floor, according to the accident report filed by the Rock County Sheriff's Department.


Bastian also made reference to Hendricks being ranked No. 91 on this year's Forbes 400 list of the nation's wealthiest people. His net worth was listed as $3.5 billion.

“There were people higher than him on the Forbes list who have bodyguards and limousines,” he explained. “But Ken went right ahead and drove his own Jeep Cherokee.”

It's a loss, Bastian said, for the entire the community and a devastating loss to the family that adored him.

Those who were touched by Hendricks continued to pour out condolences Friday afternoon upon learning of the untimely death of Beloit's No. 1 supporter.
That support included helping in the attempt to build the new stadium for the Beloit Snappers.
Today, our generation's version of J.A. Craig is Jim Fitzgerald, Ken Hendricks, and Bill Watson. Their shared passion for their hometown has inspired a vision of an unbeatable, convenient I-90 entertainment destination. And like Craig's Depression-era donation, these gentlemen intend to bring this from concept to reality without public tax money.

And the caravan has all my friends

It will stay with me until the end
Gypsy robin, sweet emma rose
Tell me everything I need to know
This Van Morrison song is a decent lead in to the story of the Detroit Tiger caravan stop in Grand Rapids for their Midwest League affiliate on January 13.

The architect behind the biggest trade in the major leagues this offseason will be the keynote speaker at the 2008 West Michigan Whitecaps winter banquet.

Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers president and CEO, leads the Tigers' caravan that will stop at DeVos Place on Jan. 13.

Dombrowski will have plenty to talk about, coming to Grand Rapids less than three weeks after making the deal that brought All-Stars Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera to Detroit.

AL batting champion Magglio Ordonez and 2007 All-Star shortstop Carlos Guillen are among the Tigers scheduled to be on the tour.
The five time, five time, five time, five time, five time Midwest League champions are pretty happy about the lineup. Did I say happy? I meant...

"We're ecstatic about the lineup we have landed for our winter banquet," Whitecaps vice president Jim Jarecki said. "The firepower we have will only add to the enthusiasm leading up to what we expect will be a perfect event.

"Last year's winter banquet drew just over 1,000. This year, we plan to cap the event at 1,000 again."

More Mitchell fallout

This story from the Rocky Mountain News popped into the inbox due to a tie-in with the Midwest League. Dan Naulty was a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins when I was living up in Superior. I followed him and the Twins at times during my four years up there.

He started his pro career for the Kenosha Twins of the Midwest League in 1992, but found that he could not gain weight. He took a shortcut. But, eventually his conscience got to him.

Past catches up to 'anabolic prospect'
The former relief pitcher named on pages 232 and 233 of the Mitchell Report lives in Littleton these days and is working on a master's degree in biblical studies at the Iliff School of Theology.

That will be the second master's degree for Dan Naulty, who received one from Trinity College & Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Ind.

He's following an academic path he hopes will culminate with a doctorate in biblical studies and the New Testament. Naulty is an ordained pastor and has done pastoral work in California.

Naulty's baseball career ended in 1999. He lasted nearly four injury-plagued seasons in the big leagues - three years, 147 days of major league service time, to be exact - mostly with the Minnesota Twins before a final year with the New York Yankees.

Had Naulty not started using steroids almost at the outset of his professional career, he's well aware how many days he would have spent in the majors.

"Zero," Naulty said. "I would've never made it out of (Single-) A ball. There's no way. I never would have gotten out of that level of baseball because I didn't have enough stuff to do that."

Unlike most current and former players cited in former Sen. George Mitchell's 409-page report, Naulty, who turns 38 next month, cooperated fully with the investigators during a two-hour telephone conversation in January. He assumes they called him not suspecting him of any steroids use but simply because he was in the majors during the period being investigated.

Naulty had nothing to hide. His baseball career was long over, and as the report says, he "repeatedly expressed remorse" for using steroids.

The honesty of his comments is refreshing.
"I stole people's jobs," Naulty said. "That, for me, has been a very convicting position to be in because I started sharing the story in 2000. The Mitchell Report was just an extension of my confession, but I've shared this story probably 80 to 100 times since 2000 in a variety of Christian communities, from small all the way to thousands of people."

Naulty recalled making the Twins to start the season in 1996. They finished the exhibition season at Coors Field and Naulty got there at the expense of reliever Mike Trombley, the last player cut before the Twins broke camp in Florida.

"He's that metaphor of all those people that I steamrolled, from LaTroy Hawkins and Dan Serafini to Mike Trombley and David Riggs, so many guys that I played with throughout the process that were trying to do this legitimately whereas . . . I was using amphetamines and in the offseason I was using steroids and by night I was an alcoholic," Naulty said.

Naulty started using performance enhancing drugs after the season in Kenosha. He got them from bodybuilders in California. In 2-1/2 years he went from 185 pounds and an 86 mph fastball to 235 pounds with a fastball that topped out at 96.

This is the temptation of PEDs...They work. They may destroy your body and ruin you if you get caught, but the reason they get used is they work.

After the 1998 season Naulty was traded to the Yankees. That off-season he stopped using PEDs. The results were striking.

"My velocity dropped," Naulty said. "I was down to 88 (mph). . . . I had dropped 5 to 8 miles an hour. But I was pitching really well. I was getting people out."

He was also getting in touch with Christian members of the Yankees.

Naulty said the group included Joe Girardi, now the Yankees manager, Mariano Rivera, Scott Brosius, Chad Curtis, Jason Grimsley and Andy Pettitte.

The latter two were cited in the Mitchell Report. Pettitte subsequently admitted he twice used HGH but not steroids. Grimsley, who admitted using steroids and HGH, had his Arizona home raided in June 2006 by federal agents.

"It was a crew that clearly was not claiming perfection but was claiming that, 'We need God and we're inviting you to be a part of that if you like.' So during the season it was almost a Jekyll and Hyde type of thing. During the day, I'd get to hang out with these guys and get to ask the tough questions about religion and life and baseball. And then during the night, I'd be the single major league baseball player playing for the New York Yankees.

"After the World Series, when I came home, I made the decision to really live out my faith. And that ended my baseball career because I realized I was forcing this issue. I was making myself be a major league baseball player when I realized that God really didn't want me to be a baseball player."

While Naulty was playing, he said, he had no pangs of conscience, no mental tussles about the road he was traveling to stay in the majors.

"What I had in the big leagues was, 'I'm here, and I'm making a lot of money, so do whatever you got to do to stay here,' " Naulty said.

"And that was basically what my mind-set was. I didn't have any conviction about what was taking place until I became a Christian and until I really started evaluating what I was doing in my life. And that didn't start until 2000."

The last part of the story is about Naulty's knowledge that one day he will have to tell his two boys about his career and his use. He knows it won't be easy as the final paragraph shows.

"I didn't do this right. I cheated. I screwed people. I lied. I did everything you possibly could do all for the sake of money and potential fame. That's not a good thing."
Go read the whole thing.

Good luck to a colleague

I've known about this move within the Midwest League Broadcasting community for a while now. But, was sworn to secrecy. So, since the website of the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees has posted the story, I guess the cat is out of the bag.

Vander Wood named broadcaster
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees announced today that Mike Vander Wood has been hired as the Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations.

Vander Wood will handle all play-by-play duties on the Yankees radio network as well as coordinating media relations activities and the speaker's bureau.

He becomes just the second regular play-by-play broadcaster in franchise history, replacing Kent Westling who held the post for 19 seasons before resigning at the end of the 2007 season.

Mike has been with Dayton since 2000, the same amount of time that I have been with the Timber Rattlers. He is a hard working, talented broadcaster. Most importantly he is a good friend. Heading to Fifth Third Field will be different in 2008 without him there, but this is a big step up for him.

Good luck to Mike and his family.

104 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 104 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today's book is Frost at Christmas by R.D. Wingfield. William "Jack" Frost is a Detective Inspector in Denton, United Kingdom. The best way to describe him is as a British Columbo, but a little grumpier and with a bit less luck.

This passage has Frost and his partner searching for a missing girl in nasty weather.
Strong winds drove the snow almost horizontally, and when they left the car on the outskirts of the Old Wood it was teeth-gritting hard work to push themselves along the obscured path. By the time they reached the lake they were plastered thickly with snow from head to foot.

A small canvas marquee had been erected at lakeside for the dragging party and the wind was pounding its fists on the roof and trying to pluck out the tent-pegs. They plunged inside, thankful for its scant shelter, and sat on the small up-turned rowboat which someone must have manhandled through the woods in the dark. Outside, two uniformed snowmen stoically smashed the surface ice with long poles.

"Trust me to get weather like this, yelled Frost over the thunder of flapping canvas. "Inspector Allen would have had sunshine, bluebirds singing, and little deer chasing butterflies. Who the hell's this?"
Put today's excerpt in a baseball context.


Impact of the Ryno...

Steve Batterson at the Quad-City Times takes a look at what the return of Ryne Sandberg as the manager of the Peoria Chiefs means to the Quad City River Bandits and the Clinton LumberKings.

First a bit about last season and the spike in attendance for both clubs:
Not only did Sandberg’s presence help Peoria establish attendance records, it also attracted a crowd throughout the league.

Quad-Cities, which averaged 2,254 fans last season, drew an average of 3,288 in the five games Peoria played in Davenport.

The Chiefs played four games in Clinton, but the LumberKings established a franchise attendance record for a four-game series.
How Peoria many visits to the respective river towns in '08?
He’ll appear in both cities more than twice as often in 2008. The River Bandits have 11 home games against the Chiefs and the LumberKings will host Peoria eight times.

Clinton general manager Ted Tornow said the crowds will continue to follow.

“I think he’ll be the same type of draw that he was last season,” Tornow said. “People who didn’t get a chance to come out and see him before will now have that chance. We’ve already had sponsors call to see if they could set up their night for one of the games Peoria is in town.”
One more time, the Chiefs will play the Rattlers on Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium on June 1, 2, 3 & 4 and July 1, 2, 3, & 4. Make your plans.

Getting closer...

The saga continues in Pulaski with two of the more interesting opening paragraphs that I have read lately.

At best, officials will announce today that minor-league baseball is returning to Pulaski.

At worst? Well, at least they'll be able to let everybody down in person. And there might be beer.

What's happening down there?

Pulaski Baseball Inc. president Tom Compton stressed Thursday afternoon that nothing is official, but he felt confident enough to schedule a news conference for 10:30 a.m. today, hoping to announce an agreement with the Seattle Mariners to field an Appalachian League team in Pulaski next summer.

"We're anticipating this, but I don't have a signed agreement," Compton said. "Haven't even seen one. That's the purpose of tomorrow's meeting -- hopefully between now and then we'll get something confirmed."

Yeah, yeah. But, as a Wisconsin native the one thing I want to know is where does the beer enter into the picture?

Compton joked that there's a good reason he scheduled today's press conference at Edens Distributing -- a local beer and wine dealer -- and not some other Pulaski location.

"If it does fall through, we're going to have some aggravated people," he said. "But we're having it at the Budweiser place, so we can make the best of it.

"I doubt they run out."

Time to head over to Jay at Mariner Minors for his take on a seventh stateside team in Seattle's minor league system.
Running seven stateside affiliates is taxing and not something many teams are wanting to do. Obviously, there are some concerns about the system being stretched thin and other affiliates eventually wanting to back out, but there are always affiliates out there to be had, so it becomes a matter of whether or not the team is willing to abide by the occasional Mavericks Stadium tenure in the name of developmental philosophy.


It’s conjecture on my part, but I believe many of these roster spots will be filled by players from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, as the established DSL and VSL teams rely less and less on third or fourth year players to drive their roster. The pieces are in place with a former VSL manager now taking the helm in Everett, but any change in philosophy has yet to be implemented.

The Mariners have the resources available to them to comfortably run these affiliates without suffering too much from it. Their image as a parent club of minor league affiliates may take a hit or two, but with the ultimate goal being the production of major-league caliber players, it’s a sacrifice they should be willing to make.

Rattlers in Venezuela

Lara's game from Wednesday went 15 innings and lost 4-1 to Aragua.

Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Asdrubal Cabrera ('05): 0-for-7
Adam Jones ('04): 1-for-6, run
Bryan LaHair ('04): 0-for-3
Oswaldo Navarro ('04, '05): 1-for-2

Rich Dorman ('03): 5IP, H, 0R, 2BB, 7Ks
Cesar Jimenez ('03): IP, 0H, 0R, 2Ks
Ivan Blanco ('05): 3IP, H, 0R, 2BB, 3Ks

Lara was off on Thursday.

Today's game:
La Guaira at Lara

105 Days to Opening Day 2008

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 105 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today's passage is from Distant Replay by Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap. Kramer is remembering a trip to the Louisiana swamps with Urban Henry.
The next gator we spotted had eyes the size of quarters, about six inches apart. We turned off the motor again, and as we drifted beside it, Urban did a dead fall into the water, grabbed the gator--about a six footer--and began thrashing around till he had it pinned, under control. Then he just let it go.

He caught two or more three more that way before we saw a pair of eyes the size of silver dollars, maybe ten or twelve inches apart. "Let's head toward him," Urban said, and I said, "No, you silly son of a bitch," but he got himself all set to jump. Then, about fifty feet away from this gator, a real grandaddy, Urban fell into the water, pretending he was trying to catch it. As he climbed back into the boat, he snapped his fingers and said, "Doggone, I missed him."
Put today's entry into a baseball context.


December 20 Field Photo

From the left field grass seats a little before 11am on 12/20/07

It was a bit warmer today, but that blanket of snow is pulled up tight for a White Christmas.

Christmas Plans

I'll be off from the ballpark between now and January 1 -- the exception being a shift there on the day after Christmas.

The plan is to continue with postings during the break. There may be days where the number of posts are few. There may be others where I get on a roll and don't feel like leaving the trailer.

Also, once 2008 begins the sales part of the job will really start.

I'll do my best to keep updating daily.

Heck, I'll just try to do my best.

This isn't official yet...

I usually don't post about anything Timber Rattler related until it is on either the Timber Rattler or Mariner website. But, I did hear news about a new pitching coach for the Rattlers today. I'm just going to post his initials for now. If something pops over the holidays, I'll have something more substantial.

The initials are: J.N.

You can guess, but I won't tell until it is officially official.

A new feature at MiLB.com

Fact or Fiction sounds suspiciously like a segment of the old Kiana's Flex Appeal show on ESPN2, but MiLB.com has gone and borrowed it for a new series.

Today's inaugural post is breaking down the best and worst ballparks for hitters in the minors.

Breaking down some ballpark figures

Here's how it works. Each part in the series will begin with a simple query about ballparks around the Minors and how they play for hitters. Using information from the past three seasons, Factor Fiction will delve deeply into the world of ballpark factors. Where are the best places to hit among full-season stadiums? Which parks are friendlier to pitchers? Why? This is the place to check it out.

We'll look at home-road splits and other indices to determine trends across the board, focusing on the 10 full-season leagues. For this first go-round, we'll take a look at the best and worst single seasons at Minor League parks from 2005-07 with the following question:

Fact or fiction? Lancaster's Clear Channel Stadium has been the best place to hit in recent years.

The table they have says yes.

Well, it is when looking at OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) at each ballpark each year. Looking at the top 10 seasons overall from 2005-07, Lancaster has three of the top four:

High Desert
Las Vegas
High Desert
Colorado Springs
Clear Channel Stadium
Mavericks Stadium
Clear Channel Stadium
Clear Channel Stadium
Isotopes Park
Cashman Field
McCormick Field
Mavericks Stadium
Ray Winder Field
Security Service Field

The table they have also looks much nicer. A caution for those inclined to be SABRists.

Now before all the statheads out there go nuts and exclaim that this is no way to determine which park is the best for hitters, relax. We're not trying to invent some new philosophy or break new ground here. Simply, we want to look at the numbers already out there and try to make some sense of them. And while a lot more number-crunching could be done to reach a final conclusion, there's little doubt that Lancaster is really cozy.

I won't copy the bottom 10 table here, but there are two Midwest League Stadiums on that list.

Community Field in Burlington is tied for second with a .631 OPS
CO Brown Stadium, the old home of the several teams in Battle Creek Michigan is ninth at .648

Using their criteria, MiLB discovered that the worst place in minor league baseball is Roger Dean Stadium in the Florida State League. And there are more games played there than any other.
Roger Dean Stadium is really locked into that top (or is it bottom) spot when you consider that .625 OPS comes courtesy of two teams, the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals. There were 160 games played there during the 2006 season. With .668 and .669 OPS seasons the other two years, it's pretty apparent Roger Dean is not a fun place to hit.
Interesting stuff. It would be even better if there was a nod to Kiana over there, but I doubt if that will be happening anytime soon.
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