Saturday, July 30, 2005

Rumor Central

With the trade deadline looming Sunday afternoon, we were very much aware that this might be our last chance to watch Lastings Millegde play, that he might be pulled from the field mid-game--it's happened before. My Source would periodically stop by during the game Friday night with the latest permutations. The one in place when I headed home favors Tampa Bay: Manny to the Mets, Dany Baez and Mike Cameron to Boston, Lastings Milledge, Yusmiro Petit, Anibel Sanchez and Kelly Shoppach to the Devil Rays. The players may not pan out, but Tampa Bay has been in the process of accruing promising minor leaguers,

Thursday, July 28, 2005

YMMV: Chase & Pedro

A colleague-friend came by my office with some paperwork and got distracted by the two-page spread from the opening day newspaper with head shots, vitals and capsule descriptions of each of the players on the B-Mets' initial roster. He and another colleague-friend had recently been to their first B-mEts game of this season and there was this player that both of them thought was arrogant

I didn't have a clue who he might be referring to, since it was notable how diminished the arrogance had been this year.

He kept scanning the players. "A white guy," he said.

Mike Jacobs? I offered, thinking how Jacobs's arrogance quotient had drastically dropped from his earlier stint with the B-Mets.

"Not Jacobs," he said, "That guy, Lambin."

Chase? Arrogant? He's a sweetheart.

The two of them thought he thought too much of himself and thought he wasn't so great at the plate and not much of a fielder either.

Chase is a sweetheart, even if he does have to straighten his jersey after every pre-game wind sprint.

The major leaguer Chase most resembles is David Eckstein. Neither is blessed with an abundance of natural talent, but both play to the best of their abilities, pushing themselves to exceed expectations and have a good time doing it.


Another colleague-friend is a big Mets fan. She held a Subway Series party for the first game of the 200 World Series, Mets fans in the comfy chairs in the living room, Yankees fans in the kitchen with the refreshments.

She loves Pedro. A lot of people were disparaging of Pedro when he was with the Red Sox. For a long time I was a fan of his, loved his great pitching (luckily I got to see him pitch 3 times at Fenway), his goofy presence in the dugout. After he got bumped from the top spot, had to share the limelight, Pedro lost some luster to Red Sox fans; I was less happy with him as his pitching declined and he became a sulking prima donna. (I was the Baseball Diva years before sportswriters dubbed Pedro the same.)

In New York with the Mets, the old, lovable Pedro is back and this friend loves having him on the team. She loves his superior pitching, his competitiveness, his playfulness in the dugout on days he's not pitching, and I'm enjoying her delight in Pedro nearly as much as I enjoyed Pedro when he was with the Sox.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Earl's a Pearl; another rare gem

Took a chance on Earl Snyder being in the line up Saturday when Durham came to Rochester for their single series in the Flower City and the gamble paid off. Since the Duke of Earl plays the majority of his teams' games each season it may not appear to be much of a risk, but somehow it seems he sits at least one of every three games when they're playing locally. Some of those times he coaches first so I get to see him, but not see him.

I got to see him Saturday, playing third, batting clean up. Good day at the plate for him, a first inning solo home run, a pair of singles, a couple RBIs and, incredibly, an intentional walk. Why incredibly, you say, thinking he's already jacked on. But he is among the league leaders in K! His strikeout to home run ratio is something like 4:1.

Foolish confession time.

I adore Earl Snyder.

He is my guilty pleasure. It doesn't make a lot of sense because he's the type of player I usually grant little attention or affection. He is a slow-footed slugger with waaaay too many strike outs and a correspondingly low OBP; small ball is not Earl's game. He's a first baseman, at least he was the first season I saw him play, and first basemen are not athletes, they're doorstops. He has also been hugely popular with fans, I usually prefer the overlooked, the dogged (David Wright notwithstanding.) Duke is also a great looking guy and "a nice young man," a phrase critics have used to damn him. Okay, the last two items aren't counts against him. It may be been timing as much as anything else that he became my favorite player; he appeared on the local diamond and within my sphere of consciousness exactly when I needed someone or something to anchor and buoy me.

I've followed him since his season in Binghamton where he was selected player of the year, through his time with Buffalo and his ten games with Cleveland, his years with Pawtucket were he was named the Red Sox organization's minor league player of the year in 2004 during which Earl had a quick cup of coffee, more of an espresso, making him a member of the World Champion Red Sox. I travel literally hundreds of miles to watch him play and love every minute of it. Although I keep hoping he gets another chance at the Show, I'm happy watching him as a veteran minor leaguer.

The most foolish part? I carry his Topps card in my purse everywhere I go. Though maybe that's not so foolish. If Bob Costas still has Mickey Mantle's card in his wallet, why shouldn't I keep Duke close at hand?

Other Gems

As someone said, every day you could see something at the ball game you've never seen before.

The Bulls had runners on first and second with no outs. The batter hit a grounder to third. The third baseman fielded it just behind the bag, stepped on third and fired to second, the second baseman pivoted and fired to first: a 5-4-3 triple play! A first for me, and a lot of the fans seated nearby. Triple plays are race enough, but usually the first out is a line drive caught. The Red Wings got a deserved standing ovation for the play.

The sign on the center field wall proclaims Rochester as "Baseball City". No argument here. The park itself is lovely, the staff friendly and helpful, the fans knowledgeable and engaged. The smattering of between inning promotions are minor diversions, not major entertainments as they often are in other parks. I've been to only a half-dozen AAA ballparks, but this is my favorite place to catch a game at this level of the minors.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Day-Night Doubleheader

Ya gotta make your own day-night doubleheader nowaday.

Went to Binghamton for the afternoon game, good to be back home at the park. Only two new players to learn. (This time of year, with promotions and demotions and trades and injuries, sometimes there's only once guy in the lineup I've ever seen before.) Corey Ragsdale SS and Lastings Milledge OF

Milledge has been ballyhooed as a great prospect, and with the exception of David Wright last year, most prospects fall well short of their hype, some of them hopelessly so. But if Sunday's game is any indication of Milledge's abilities, he could be some ballplayer. At the plate, he went 3-for-4 and scored 2 runs, in centerfield he made a couple WebGem plays. The word from the folks in Box 14 was that in his first game, he went 0-fer, striking out three times, but has been 4-for-5 and 3-for-4 in the next two games.

As for the game itself, starter Orlando Roman pitched well, and made two amazing pick offs, one at first and the other at second, the throw so quick the runner was out before we realized Roman was making a move. The game was not nearly as close as the 4-3 score would seem to indicate when he was relieved after seven strong innings, but Luz Portobanco gave up two runs in each of his two innings, B-Mets lose 7-4.

Back to Syracuse for the night game, a bunch of the folks from Box 14, their friends and families, taking in their one Norfolk game of the season. It was great to see the guys one more time and it was great to cheer for them, the visitors, in the midst of a large group of people rooting for them instead of being a lone voice. There had been more vocal support of the Tides throughout the entire series than there normally is for the visiting team, a few other B-Mets fans scattered throughout the stands and NY Mets fans as well, but the whole section cheering at once was fun.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Highlights at 11

As tonight's Sky(gak)Chiefs-Tides game was spectacular:

Two triples, one by each team.

A Baltimore chop, successful one.

A grand slam.

Tides (and recent B-Mets) second baseman Anderson Hernandez was covering first on a bunt attempt and the knocked skyward by the runner, landing splat like a piece of roadkill. Thought for a moment that he had been knocked unconscious, but they got him rolled over and sitting up, and back out into position. He kept checking his teeth and lower lip for a while.

The Chiefs were comfortably in the lead 13-4, but the balance of the game shifted in the later innings and the Tides got as close as 13-11, threatened in the eighth and ninth. Final score 14-11.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Watch Chase: Hat Trick

The Norfolk Tides (NYM-AAA) come to Syracuse once a season and I try to get to at least one of those games so I can see how last year's B-Mets are doing up a level. This year, the Tides' visit coincides with a B-Mets homestand, and since I haven't been to a B-Mets' game in a few weeks it presented a dilema. The weather reporters said rain in Binghamton, and Thursday's game in Syracuse had been postponed because of a power outage at or near the ballpark, which meant a doubleheader Friday. Syracuse, it is.

When they flashed Chase Lambin's stats on the scoreboard, I thought it would be nice if he could hit his first AAA homerun tonight. The first pitch he saw he put over the right field fence. Yay! His first AAA homer, and I got to see it. Next at bat, first pitch was a ball, second pitch over the right field fence. Yay! a multi-homer game for Chase. Third at bat, he fouled off the first pitch into the third base stands, second pitch, yup, over the right field fence. Yay!!!!! Three at bats, three home runs.

He didn't fare quite so well in the second 7-inning game, only 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Home Run Derby

This year's home run derby was the first one I've looked forward to since 1999, with McGwire coming off his home run chase and the event being held in Fenway.

I was looking forward to it because one of the participants used to play in Binghamton. It was cool that Jason Bay was taking part. Too bad he didn't hit even one ball out.

BoBby Abreu was fantastic, but actually I was only half-listening to his first round while writing out bills, waiting for Jason Bay to get his chance.

Granted, Abreu hit more dingers in that competition than anyone else has, by a long shot, but the home run derby should not last longer than a typical game. Sheesh.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Thank Mays so many people were unavailable when we did our online draft in my fantasy league this year. That, and attention to who's actually pitching, has to be responsible for the Huskytown Dukes being smack dab in the middle of the standings at the All-Star break, 7th in a 13-team league.

After the first week or two of the season, the Dukes have hung right there in the middle, never higher than 5th, but not falling into double-digit territory either, their best showing in 6 years. That might not seem terribly impressive, but you've got to remember that most, if not all, of the rest of the league participants are stats freaks who pore over the numbers for hours. This season I'm actually looking at a player's numbers for the previous week or month before playing or benching him, unlike the memorable season I left Nomar at short for three weeks while he was on the DL, only to bench him for another three weeks, only the first of which he didn't play in real life.

Speaking of Nomar, I still have him taking up space on my precious DL, limited to 3 players, and I'm wrestling with whether he's worth it. I've been hanging on to him as a potential keeper, but I've been toying with the idea of trying to trade him based on his potential keeper value. Would I get anybody worthwhile in return?

Wade Miller is a bust as far as I'm concerned and I'm going tell My Barista my next mocha latte is on him since I drafter Miller on his recommendation.

The catching tandem of Tek and Mirabelli has worked out better than I expected.

Manny had a slow first third. I let him go in a trade to get a saver, any saver, since I'm dead last in Saves. Naturally, he starts hitting once I let him go, but at least I hung on to Big Papi; the original proposed trade asked for Manny and Papi in return for Isringhausen and Sexson; first baseman I've got out the wahzoo.

If I don't do anything too stupid, and none of the key Dukes goes down with a season-ending injury, I should finish in the middle of the pack. Anything above 7th would be a major victory.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

7 Pitches

The crowd was the biggest I've ever seen at P&C/Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, somewhere around 9,000. (The park holds approximately 11,100 and has only been sold out once that I'm aware of, when Darryl Strawberry was in town on his fourth or fifth attempted comeback with the Yankees/Columbus.)

Scads of people were lined up behind the visitors' dugout before the game, obviously newbies because you physically can't reach the players there, too far removed. Any autographing goes on along the right field stands as the players come and go for pre-game warmups, and as a reliever Schilling wouldn't come out of the clubhouse until mid-game or later.

The PawSox got an immediate 3-0 lead in the first, the Sky(gak)Chiefs caught up, but Pawtucket starter Tim Kester regained form and held them at 3 runs. First baseman Roberto Petagine put the game permanently in the Sox' favor by hitting a grand slam in the fourth.

Schilling emerged from the dugout and crossed to the left center field bullpen between the sixth and seventh innings and fans were cheering so loudly the promotion Syracuse was trying to run was completely drowned out. Anton French, CF, walked part of the way with Curt, chatting away. Wonder what words were exchanged.

When reliever Mark Malaska came on in the bottom of the eighth, the poor guy was booed. Just for not being Curt Schilling. Malaska threw a scoreless inning and with a handshake from the manager was done for the night.

When Schilling finally emerged from the bullpen, he got a standing ovation. A few Yankee fans sitting near me were booing; the Boston fan behind me noted, "Like that's gonna bother him."

Schilling threw more pitches warming from the mound than he did in regulation play. He struck out Kevin Barker on three straight pitches, then threw a ball to John-Ford Griffin who fouled the next one off, then grounded to Petagine at first, and Julius Matos flied out to right on the first pitch.

Seven pitches. Nearly three hours of game preceded them, and a twenty-five minute wait in the parking lot before joining the traffic jam followed. But they were worth it.

I was sitting only a couple rows up from where I usually sit in this park, in row 6 Saturday night. Right behind the visitors' dugout, directly in line with the pitcher's mound, I had the perfect view. And as the team exited the field, filing into the dugout, I stood within 20 feet of a pitching great.

Ya gotta love the minors.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Schilling here?

The buzz in the Syracuse media is that Curt Schilling may pitch in Saturday's game against the Sky(gak)Chiefs. It would be his turn in the rotation if he's starting, but from Francona's comments it seems more likely that Schilling will be working from the bullpen.

I had already planned weeks ago to go to this game as I have to be in Syracuse that day anyway, the B-Mets are on the road, and the PawSox are a team I usually take the time to see.

It would be too cool if Schilling is on the mound.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Chase Watch

Chase is gone again, called up to Norfolk once more, on the last day of June.

In 7 games at AAA, Chase is hitting .391, with an OPS of .879.

Not bad for a utility guy.