Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Well for myself, the dream of going unbeaten in my professional ended today after a tough 10th inning loss. I have to admit, after last year going unbeaten, I thought that it was a fluke and I would come back to earth sometime soon thereafter. However, after seventy plus games into my first full season of professional baseball the streak was still in tact. It’s kind of like having a no hitter going, you don’t really think about it until it’s over. Some may say that all this is just wishful thinking and no one could ever go unbeaten in the game of baseball. Well that my friends, is all the motivation a player needs to accomplish the impossible. Baseball is a game based around failure and the best players and coaches who have ever played will agree when I say it is not about how you deal with winning; that’s easy, everyone is happy and according to Benny, “jokes are funny.” But, it is how you are able to deal with losing and coming back to the park to try and get right back to a positive state of mind. A small part of me died today, but the sun will come up tomorrow, and a baseball game will take place and I will get right back in there and try to start a new streak.
Side Note: 2007 Stats- 0-0 0.00 ERA in 3 innings following season long injury
2008 Until today- 1-0 in 18 appearances
Lets not kid ourselves, baseball is a very time consuming, and for the most part slow progressing game. Every now and then you get a real pitchers duel and the game may squeeze in just under two hours. But, every so often there are things like weather, and pitching changes, and injuries that can really slow a game down. Well we did something that horse race gamblers would kill for; we hit the trifecta the last two nights. Not only did we have a few rain delays, but both teams used a variety of pitching, and there was at least one or two stoppages for one reason or another. This all snowballed into I don’t know how long a delay, but all I do know is that I got home at 12:30…a.m. There are times, like today, when I am sitting in the bullpen thinking, “God I feel like I’ve been here at the field for two or three straight days.” Late games not only put a damper on possible post game plans but if there’s an early game the next day, let me just say as a player, you really need to love the game then more than ever. My guess is that as you progress through the organization, these drag-on games don’t seem as bad. I wonder if any of the Tigers say after a late running game, “Man I can’t wait to get out of this great clubhouse with absolutely everything in it so that I can beat traffic.” Who knows? Maybe a few years down the road when I break into the big leagues I will be writing about this exact topic again. Then, anyone who has read this particular piece can come and I will give everyone free tickets, you know, to keep me humble.
Here are a few trivia questions to think about for the weekend. What state produced Larry Legend, the toast of French Lick? Where does the “little five” take place? Gene Hackman portrayed Coach Norman Dale in a film about which state championship game? And lastly, what state is home to two, class A minor league baseball teams who have managed to put the Whitecaps in a state of misery? If you haven’t guessed Indiana yet then you honestly don’t read the homepage of this website too much. The state of Indiana has not been to kind to our team this past eight days, in particular the cities of South Bend and Ft. Wayne. So far we have yet to figure out what it is we need to change in our game plan to find a win somewhere in the Hoosier state. Could it be the hours of television watching in the hotels, or the road food I am ever so fond of? No, because we are all fairly accustomed to living like vagabonds (this is understood when you sign any minor league contract). Or maybe part of this is my fault after trying to explain how well we are going to play in the second half of the season. Baseball gods, if you are reading this, I am sorry. It all comes back to karma, and I will never do anything to derail that train again. Home has never looked so good as it does right now, and I don’t care if we play every team from Indiana for the rest of the season as long as it isn’t on the road.
Over the all-star break I got the chance to head home and play in a golf outing, which, if you are a frequent reader, know that this is a good thing for me. My dad assembled the foursome as he always does (he calls himself the GM) in a fashion so that we would be in a great position to win. This group included my high school golf coach, Vic Callahan, a person I have the most respect for and a man who has been the person I would like to most emulate. I still call him “coach” and he taught me so much more than fairways and greens. This is neither here nor there, however we did shoot fifteen under and LOST, go figure. What I did get a chance to think about while perusing the links was how much my past is a part of my present. I don’t think I have been totally remodeled by the pro game, nor am I a pitcher who has never had to change. I am still making changes, but a little piece of every coach I have had is still in me. Any player who has made it to this level has this in them because the game is too hard to just go out and play with what you have in the bag (to throw yet another golf metaphor in). My dad was my first coach and he instilled the groundwork for my game. Most of this included learning to love the game for what it is. Like myself, he is a pretty intense competitor and sometimes those twelve year old travel tournament games got a little heated and us kids needed to learn to have fun in order to not want to quit before high school (I’m kidding dad). My dad knew though when to turn me loose and let someone else takeover, so in high school, Spada as we called him, did just that. He gave me my drive and competitiveness. His favorite phrase was, “There are certain teams that don’t belong on the same field as you.” Now, I’m naturally a humble person but I still think of that when I take the mound. Spada was the person who got me to college and then my college pitching coach Bob Keller, gave me what I needed to get to the point I am at now. He taught me how to pitch, and our strength coach Jason Cole gave me a few extra miles per hour on my fastball as well as many days of sore legs. And now the learning is still happening and I am always looking for a way to better myself physically and mentally on the field. I have not forgotten where I’ve been because it’s important to know where you came from to get to where you are going.
Three hits by the offense and some subpar pitching did the White Caps in. The final was 9-1 and it was Jonathan Kibler who took the loss. He gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks with two strikeouts in five innings.
Justin Henry had the only extra base hit of the game. He doubled and scored the lone run for the White Caps.
As I have talked about before we have just completed the first half of our schedule. Now we begin the journey for the home half, and for us, fortunately the pressure to win is not as great and we can just go out and play (this doesn’t imply below par effort by any means). However after a wonderful and relaxing three days off, getting back into the swing feels like spring training all over again. Everyone is real upbeat and as our hitting coach, Benny Distifano, likes to say, “Jokes are funny.” I am going to assume this will last for only a few days, at which time the usual bickering and nothing arguments about something completely non-related to the game of baseball will resume. But, my fellow baseball fans, this is when we are at our best. Playing everyday lends itself to learning plenty from the game and we are still learning and trying to forward our careers. It’s when we can make baseball remain a game and have fun is when you will see W’s in the papers. There is a guy named Eric Shanks who I have come to be familiar with, who says it best. He was a minor leaguer himself and managed to write a few songs about his adventure. “This job I work, it ain’t work at all. Matter of fact it’s just a game…The reason I love this crazy life, it keeps me young.” If you get a chance check out the music here:
As I write this, I am relaxing due to the fact that I am not participating in this week’s All-Star festivities. Yes, I know it’s a shame and a travesty, but I’m not complaining about the non-selection. Anyway, this past weekend I got to experience my first professional post-game celebration after we clinched a post-season playoff spot. What made this so much more enjoyable was how we came to that point. After taking three of four from first place Lansing and then the first two from second place Fort Wayne, we were able to take some pressure off ourselves and not worry about having to win the last game of the first half. So what should we expect from the Whitecaps in the second half? A letdown or another top slot? I would suggest the latter because of the fact that we have a very solid group of players and a coaching staff who expects nothing less than what we are capable of, which is winning. Is this a guarantee? No, I’m no Rasheed Wallace. Plus, a guarantee in the Midwest League would sound as professional as a Ryan Leaf post-game press conference. But, we are still going to make another run at winning the division and getting that champagne shower in the clubhouse after the game.
Matt Hoffman fell to 0-2 on the sewason with a mediocre start but it was Brandon Hamilton who bore the brunt of Fort Wayne’s offensive onslaught. He gave up six runs (five earned) on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
Hayden Parrott went two for four with two RBIs in the 8-4 loss. Jordan Newton went two for three with a solo homer.
I have said before that getting away from the game for a little bit is never a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong we ballplayers can be criticized for loving the game too much because of the time it takes away from family and friends. Today myself and a few of the other guys had the opportunity to see another side of life by visiting the local children’s hospital. Getting a chance to go and hang out with those kids for a few hours really helps me keep things in perspective and realize just how lucky I am. I know that it sounds cliche to say that, but you really get desensitized to the whole professional baseball lifestyle when it consumes your life for over half the year. To see kids who would give anything not just to be in my shoes, but to just feel healthy and normal is quite humbling and at the same time extremely uplifting because the majority if these kids have personalities that I wish I had. There is one guy I have to mention however, and his name is Joe. He has a rare skin condition which would make anyone I know want to give up. But not Joe, all he wanted to do was dominate everyone he met at any game and then rub it in. To quote him during a checkers game with a nurse, “A predator stalks his prey before he eats it.” I hope he doesn’t get offended if I use his checkers mentality the next time I get the ball.
Playing baseball in a cold Michigan spring is about as fun as playing baseball in a scorching Florida summer. On the flip side, baseball is much more enjoyable in the winter and spring in the south along with the summer months in the north. However, this year has seemed to be slightly different in that we have seen some of the most strange weather patterns outside of the movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” We didn’t see a day in the sixties for the first month including a series played in a snowstorm, and then went straight to seventy for a week and then back down until the first part of June. Only one thought comes into my mind, “What the hell?” More recently we have had torrential rain no matter where we go. Our pitching staff has gone through a merry-go-round more than an ADD seven-year old. Sadly, baseball is the one sport which requires perfect weather to play. Football fans call us what you will (and I don’t even want to hear anything from soccer people), but rules are rules. So without the cooperation of mother nature we just have to sit back and gets runs and outs whenever possible. We were two outs away from a W last night and that when the electricity show decided to start and thus ended up getting postponed for the night. I guess this is the one thing people in Minnesota have done right; they have figured out that all outdoor sports in the north should be played in a dome.
The White Caps scored all three of their runs in seventh inning and they turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2. They then gave up runs in the seventh and ninth as the game turned again and the White Caps took the loss. Wilton Garcia took the loss and he fell to 3-2. He gave up one run on two hits and one walk with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. Jonathon Kibler gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
Jordan Newton had the big hit with a three run shot. Joseph Tucker went two for four.
The White Caps racked up the runs in a 10-6 win over Dayton. Christopher Carlson went two for five with a homerun and three RBIs while Audy Ciriaco went three for six with a pair of doubles, two runs and an RBI.
Wilton Garcia picked up the win and he improved to 3-1. He didn’t allow a baserunner in his 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Alfredo Figaro may be having the best season of any pitcher in the Tiger’s minor league system this year. He improved to 7-2 and he gave up just three hits with two strikeouts. He still hasn’t given up a homerun in 74 innings and he sports a 1.22 ERA. The shutout was his second of the season.
Kody Kaiser had a nice game at the plate. He gave up two runs on five hits with a double, three RBIs and a run. Justin Henry had a pair of hits including a three run homer.
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