Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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I have written much about the trials and tribulations of my life on the road. Most of this is due to the fact that being on the road usually lends itself to providing better stories than at home because at home everything is familiar and comfortable, and on the road guys usually find a way to do something out of the ordinary. This latest trip has provided us with just that, physically the bus riding has been very uncomfortable, and also in recent days we have won three straight. However, also on this past trip I have been able to be a little more comfortable than on any other trip. My girlfriend, Amanda, has been accompanying me in Midland for our series against the Loons. Being able to spend quality time with the people you are closest to means more to a ballplayer than most people think. Not that I don’t enjoy spending the majority of my days with the same guys, (trust me I do we find ways to have our share of fun) but to have someone around who doesn’t really care all that much how the game goes and just gets excited to see me out there has a different feeling. Well recently she likes to read me the box scores and stats of the other teams in the organization now, and she knows what the WHIP stat means, so I guess you can say she is getting a little more interested (ladies, this is what happens if you date a ballplayer long enough. Consider yourself warned). I think if everyone on our team was able to have their significant other as a roommate on the road, I bet things would be a little more cheerful once we got to the field, and we might smell better too.
Whenever I am shagging balls in the outfield during batting practice or sitting in the bullpen trying to find something and anything to occupy my attention during down time I try to work on my foreign relations. In professional baseball, most of the time you will have several players from other countries and they are mostly Spanish speaking. So, I like to do what I can to find out what I can about my fellow teammates by attempting to get information across without knowing anything the other guy is saying. So far I have came to learn enough Spanish to not totally sound like an idiot while trying to converse with them, and to their credit many know enough English to let me know how things are. I have come to find out that my teammates from abroad are not just good ballplayers, but pretty good guys as well. So far I have managed to make up a handshake with my bullpen brother Kelvin Cedano, and have garnished many nicknames from some of the others (Flaco, meaning skinny, and “my friend” are the two most popular). We have also reached the point to where practical jokes are fair game to anyone. It used to be the American guys only messed with each other and vice versa, but now, if there is an easy target, no one is spared. I am very fortunate to be friends with these guys because as I said they as much to teach me as me to them. Plus somewhere down the line in life, whether it be in another job or travels, I think that being able to communicate with people who don’t even speak my same language may come in handy.
Dealing with success and failure in the game of baseball really boils down to a few main things. Either way a player must be able to shed his emotions after 12 hours because any more than that this could carryover into the next game and you want to have as clear a mind as possible to focus on the task at hand. For a pitcher, the rules change a little in that starters can take a little more time to think about their outing due to the long time between starts, but relievers need the same mindset as I mentioned earlier. Personally I have found it beneficial after a game, whether good or bad, to look back at what I did well that night to build on for the next time I throw. There is plenty of analysis after a game which comes from coaches and also myself which focuses on what I need to do better, and this is something which cannot be ignored either. However my thought is that if I continue to build on what I am doing well, eventually the mistakes won’t happen as often. It has been said that baseball is a game of failure and the numbers we use to determine how good a player is speak to that testament. Three for Ten at the plate is a hall of fame career, which means he is failing seven out of ten times. An ERA is based on how many runs the other team can expect you to give up. This is what makes baseball so great, it’s hard. The challenge of trying to beat the game is what motivate players to keep going. The other team can beat you every now and then, but the game will get you every time if you overlook what is happening at that given moment. Baseball is too hard to always be good, there will be downs and it is how a player is able to deal with them and bounce back for the next pitch or at bat. As Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) said in A League of Their Own, “Baseball is what gets inside you. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
Today’s travel situation was too good not to talk about. I have spoken before about the bus chronicles and what we do getting to the destination, but this is the first time something has happened once we arrived at our destination. So, following a six hour ride to Davenport, Iowa from Grand Rapids, I was looking forward to relaxing in the hotel room before heading to the field for the game. To my surprise my roommate, Paul Nardozzi, and I walked into our room and did an immediate 180. The smell of about ten years of a constant burning cigarette filled the place and right away knew that this wasn’t going to work. So we went to the front desk to see if it was possible to rearrange our situation. Now let me lay this out, we are staying at the AmericInn in Davenport, Iowa, and are told there are not any more rooms for the time being. I am still trying to wrap my head around that one. Then the conversation with the front desk attendant was quite interesting as well. First they asked US if we wanted to go over to the Cracker Barrel restaurant and borrow their cleaning solution to try and get the smell out. Thanks, but no thanks. Then the next logical question to ask (apparently) was, “Well do any of your teammates smoke? Maybe they can switch with you.” I don’t think I really have to do much more explaining of the situation to help you, the reader, understand what we are dealing with here. So for now we made it into a room, but tomorrow morning we have to check out and go to another open room. I can shed humor on the situation because it’s nothing we minor league ballplayers can’t handle. I just wanted to make sure for all you aspiring professionals out there, what you are in for.
The White Sox didn’t push a single base runner across the plate in their 5-0 loss to Cedar Rapids. Justin Henry was the only hitter to reach base twice with a pair of singles.
Emmanuel Miguelez took the loss and he fell to 2-5. He gave up three runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
This season has been one of several ups and downs but still overall very positive. We have also rearranged our team quite a few times, I read in an article recently that we have something like forty plus roster moves. This includes moving people up and down along with putting guys on and taking them off the disabled list. I get a kick out of it when a little kid comes up to a new player and asks him to sign their picture in the program and he has to try and explain “Sorry kid, I’m not in there yet.” Does this get old or is it hard to settle in as a team? Not really actually, you kind of get used to it and at the end of the day you still have to go out and do your job. There really isn’t time for worrying if the new guys like the same movies you do. Plus, when you spend the majority of every day with the same people, you get to know your teammates pretty well, and sometimes too well. I’ll admit it’s sad to see you’re friends leave but that’s the nature of the business. As long as when playoffs roll around everyone gets along, and more importantly is playing well, that is all that matters. So for the fans, even if you can’t recognize the same faces on the field, the team is still the same and no matter what, tomorrow baseball will be played with or without people you know.
Justin Henry was one of the hitting stars in the White Caps 8-5 win over Wisconsin. He went two for five with a double, two runs and three RBIs. Chris Carlson also had a nice game and he went three for four with a double and two RBIs.
Alfredo Figaro had a rough start and he gave up four runs in five innings in a no decision. Paul Nardozzi improved to 4-5 with a perfect inning of relief.
Mauricio Robles improved to 4-1 on the season with a very nice start in the White Caps 6-1 win over Wisconsin. He gave up just two hits and two walks with four strikeouts in six innings.
Kyle Peter went two for three with two RBIs and a run. Kody Kaiser didn’t get a hit, but he walked twice and scored a pair of runs.
It all starts with the forecast, what the percent chance of rain is and then what the radar looks like. Then the buzz starts to float around the team, “Hey there’s a chance we get rained out tonight.” Soon after all eyes know exactly where any possible weather will be coming from. Once you see the bullpen pitchers walk in before a drop of rain has fallen, this is usually the main indicator bad weather is on the way. What you don’t see is the elaborate drawings we bullpeners create in the dirt in honor of some form of a rain god. Then it happens, the field crew comes out to put the tarp on and the rain begins to fall.
The players who stay in the dugout usually are too tired to walk up to the clubhouse or the storm doesn’t look that bad. But for the guys you see dashing into safety, well, that is just a cover. The hurry is to go in and immediately check the radar to try their best at amateur forecasting. Prayers are said and the debate between coaches, umpires and team officials begins. Now to clarify, once the game has started it is up to the umpires to continue or cancel the game. However the coaches usually act as the lobbyists for player demands and can say some pretty persuasive things to get done what is “best for the team.” I have never been in one of these discussions so I am merely speculating at this point but based on body language, and hand movements I can pretty much tell what is being said.
If there was a heavy rain and it happens to be a night game there is a good chance that lobbying will win out for a rainout. For, you as a fan, if you manage to spot any of these tendencies at any point during a delay, the better you odds of either salvaging the night you took off, or taking the person’s seat who judged wrong.
The White Caps lost to Burlington 6-0 in a game where the offense completely sputtered. Kyle Peter walked three times and that matched the number of hits the White Caps offense had. Cory Middleton had the lone extra base hit with a double.
A nice start by Jonathan Kibler went to waste. He gave up one run on four hits and two walks with one strikeout in six innings. For his efforts, he dropped to 9-4. Wilton Garcia was shelled for five runs in his 1 2/3 innings of relief.
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