Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tough game for Klink

In the fifth inning, Simon Klink led off with a double, but failed to tag up on a fly ball to the left-center wall. The next batter, Nestor Rojas, flew out to shallow center, but Klink took off around the bases and was doubled up to end the inning.

Then in the seventh, starter Joey Martinez allowed three unearned runs. Back-to-back errors by Dave Maroul at third and Klink at first, followed by a Josh Petersen RBI single put the Mets on the board.

Making Klink's game worse, he was called out on strikes to end the game.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Just a couple of quick answers to recent questions:

Derin McMains is not with the Dodgers, but is a coach within the Giants organization. His injuries became too much to overcome, but he is doing something that I think he always felt he would do.

Dave Machemer agreement when he was fired as Defenders manager was to be reassigned as a scout and have another year, this year, added on to his contract.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stache and Hawk

Jake Wald and Derin McMains will be XM Satellite Radio's baseball channel tonight discussing their latest album.

I've heard half of the new CD and it's better than the first.

New role

After Sunday's game, Defenders skipper Bien Figueroa said that Dave McKae, who had normall served as a starter for the team over the past year, will primarily see action as a long reliever. Figueroa went on to say that McKae will still start on occassion, which includes one of the two games of a scheduled double header with Binghamton next Saturday.

Also check out Tuesday's Norwich Bulletin for my column on the state of the Defenders-Giants in Norwich.

Cutter's Birthday

Between Cutter, Tater, and the mascots from Bridgeport and New Britain being here at Dodd Stadium, Mascots outnumber fans.

I kid, but it's a sad state of affairs here when it's 72 and sunny.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lineup changes

After tonight's game, a smiling Bien Figueroa said he will rest Travis Ishikawa after TI's four strikeout performance. He said Ishikawa was pressing and as a result, swinging at bad pitches.

Figueroa also wants to get more at bats for Kyle Haines and Olmo Rosario. He said it's tough to play both and hot-hitting Jake Wald because they are all middle infielders.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bad reaction

I'm quickly becoming disillusioned with what's been happening at Dodd Stadium. Usually, my biggest beef isn't so much with the Defenders, but its parent club, the San Francisco Giants. Today, however, my gripe comes with something that doesn't originate outside of Dodd Stadium.

In the top of the seventh inning, a foul ball lined into the stands just beyond the visitors dugout and hit one of the visiting school kids. The crowd of 4,495 -- the largest of the season -- was almost all kids visiting as part of DARE Day.

So what happens? It takes minutes, not seconds for an usher or a medic to get down to the child. Thankfully, the child only needed some ice packs, but what if this was a more serious injury? How can the Defenders justify such a delayed reaction? And to make matters worse, when you are struggling to get people into the stands and something like this happens, it has to leave a bad taste in the mouths of some people.

It has with mine.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Movin' on up

I don't mean to sound critical, and this is meant more as a statement about the Giants organization than anything, but how does Travis Denker, who hit .184 with the Defenders, and .314 with Fresno in eight fewer games, get called up to the majors?

You know why? Because the Giants -- and the players in the organization discard what happens in Norwich. It's the biggest cop out ever. If it's so hard to hit at Dodd Stadium, how were the Navigators able to win an Eastern league championship?

It's this sort of reckless mentality that leads the Giants to skipping over Norwich with the few prospects they have.

I wish the best for Denker; he's a good guy. I just wish the Giants would leave town with their shallow logic.

This is nonsense

How can the Connecticut Defenders expect fans to want to come out to the ball game when they don't play "Take me out to the ball game" during the seventh inning stretch?

In all of my years of watching, listening and attending baseball games, this is the first time I have ever been at a game where the staple sing of ballparks across this country wasn't played. Why? To advertise future promotions. Guess what? You have 30 people here for Wednesday's game. Instead of trying the hard sell, how about trying to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.

I'll tell you what? The next time you go to the dentist, make sure your local DDS promotes his great root canal services during a cleaning.

Not playing "Take me out to the Ball game" is not avant garde. It's not even funny or someting no one will miss. It's as baseball as Cracker Jack, the pop of the ball hitting a glove and the crack of a bat.

Now, I fully expect that tomorrow's 10:30 a.m. game will be filled with kids and thus the song will be played. Let's just hope tonight is the last time we don't hear the song during the seventh inning stretch at Dodd Stadium.

Baseball memories

For the better part of the past two days, I have been cleaning out my closet in an effort to create more space around the house. Needless to say, my wife is excited about this. First, I cleared out a decade's worth of media guides -- mostly NBA. But I also took the time to edit my baseball card collection. I had done this once before, back in 2001. That was no fun. I was moving back to New York from Charlotte, N.C., and there simply was not enough room for everything.

I started collecting when I was 10. My father told me all the stories of how his mother threw away his cards, which he claimed would have been a small fortune back in 1985. I'm pretty certain that had something to do with why I never wanted to give up any card. Maybe I saw value in everything, but that's too much like watching where you walk so you don't accidentally step on an ant.

Anyhow, I would say I am well on my way to cutting my collection to half. And yes, there were times I had to stop and remind myself certain cards needed to be let go.

Before you ask, no, I'm not trashing the cards. Anything of actual (not my perceived) value either is or will be on eBay in the coming days. Whatever doesn't sell I will likely donate to someone.

At any rate, sifting through the thousands of cards made me think of so many baseball memories from my life. You know what I'm talking about. Did you ever have a card that brought back a game you watched or heard? Maybe a chance meeting with a player?

Since this is a Defenders blog, I need to tie things together...

I grabbed a handful of cards, which all turned out to be 50 or so rookie/prospect cards. Not one of them played a full season in the majors. I thought about all of the hype, yet coming up short of the Big League dream. I'm sure as baseball fans there are more than a few names and faces that come to mind when you think of what could have been, what might have been and where are they now.

Sure, for the Defenders playing baseball is a job. It is also childhood. That's what makes the game so great. It's not like computers in that five years later they are outdated. Baseball is baseball.

Enjoy watching these guys play. You don't know where they will be in five years or even tomorrow. One day you'll sit around and ask yourself, "What ever happened to ...?"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another Defender in the Bigs

That would be pitcher Alex Hinshaw., who got the call today. I'm very happy for Alex. He's one of fhe guys I got to know well last season. He's funny and honest, which makes it tough to dislike the fella. This is probably going to be just a quick tatse unless he sparkles in the opportunities given to him. Either way, he's a deserving and I am sure everyone who saw him play here last season -- he was an All-Star -- before arm woes sidelined him for most of the second half, will agree.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's been too long

Sorry I've been away for much of the past two weeks. What's worse is I haven't been given the opportunity to see the Defenders when they are at home. The one game I was assigned to last weekend was rained out. Even when they return don't be surprised if I'm not there for half that home stand. It's not my choice, just the way the cookie crumbles in these parts.

That being said, I am looking forward to the team returning home next week. An 8-3 mark in the month of May is certainly cause for optimism. The team brought its batting average up to .233, which is encouraging. I don't have the April-May split, but I promise you May must be in the .260 ball park. If you hit .260 all year and pitch the way the Defenders do, you have a chance to see postseason play. No, I'm not calling them contenders yet. Ask me at the All-Star break.

Kyle Haines is over .300, albeit in half the at-bats as Eddy Martinez-Esteve, who is also over .300. Honestly, I never thought I would say that, but I have to give the guy props. He's worked hard this season.

Despite not having the best judgment of the strikezone and the desire to hit a homer every time up, Carlos Sosa has had a few big games to really pick up his teammates. As has Travis Ishikawa, who is more interested in playing his way to triple-A than being unhappy that he's here again. The thing with Ishikawa is that if he continues to play the way he is, he'll get to the majors because his hitting has been OK, but his glove has been spectacular.

Dave Maroul is coming around, too. He's still hot and cold, but when he's been hot, he's as tough an out as there is in the Eastern League.

The pitching staff is still hands-down the best in the league. But because the Defenders are only two games over .500, no one will give them as much credit.

I challenge anyone to find a better bullpen than the Defenders. Even with Sergio Romo hurt right now (he's been the best closer in the league) the relievers haven't missed a beat. Osiris Matos, Jason Waddell and Steve Palazzollo have shined.

The rotation lost Brooks McNiven to Triple-A, but Joey Martinez has looked downright unhittable at times. Adam Cowart has been equally impressive. He's a crafty and resilient pitcher who does exactly that, pitch.

If these guys can keep it together on both sides (maybe with a bit of a boost to the offense), maybe this will turn out to be the best season Dodd Stadium has hosted in a quite some time.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Can the rain stop the Defenders?

Your Connecticut Defenders are back home after a successful road trip. While they were away, the team's bats came to life (GASP!) and everyone seemed to be getting in on the act. Whenever this team has gotten hot at the plate I've wanted to urge caution -- even last season with John Bowker, Tyler Von Schell, Randy Ruiz and Eugenio Velez -- the bottom finds a way to drop out in these parts.

This time, I look at two points: the team the Defenders most recently beat up on and how they were scoring runs.

Skipping over Binghamton, who will be in town this weekend because they are not that good, Connecticut took 3-of-4 from Harrisburg, which entered the series with the best record in the Eastern League. They now have the second-best record.

The Defenders have been scoring runs in every fashion, on every type of hit, or with sac flies, bases-loaded walks, etc. They are also not scoring just two runs a game. After plating 33 runs in the last two games against the B-Mets, I am sure the last team Binghamton wants to see right now is the Defenders.

All of that said, I wouldn't be shocked if tonight's game gets the ppd. slapped on it. That also means because if the forecast of showers today, don't expect more than 100 people max with an announced attendance of 2,138 for Fireworks Night.

Monday, May 05, 2008

First Defender honored in '08

Ben Copeland brought home the Eastern league's Player of the Week award, it was announced today.

Copeland hit .480 for the week, with three doubles, two homers and a triple. He drove in six, scored 11 runs, stole a base and walked twice. His slugging percentage was .920.

Over the six games played last week, Copeland raised his average 77 points to .253.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Welcome back, Wald

Jake Wald is back with the Defenders. He wasn't having the best of luck with Fresno, but it was a much-deserved opportunity at Triple-A. I don't expect Jake to be the happiest guy in the world to be back here, but he will get regular at-bats and provide a sure-handed defender in the middle of the infield.

Just as important is that Jake is a good guy and will be able to help the much younger guys learn a thing or two about how to carry yourself.

Also, if you haven't heard of Hawk and Stache, the musical duo comprised of Wald and Derrin McMains, do so ASAP.

What was that?

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Defenders won, 19-5, over the B-Mets. I joked it was the sum total of runs scored in the last month, but truth is they scored 19 runs in a game!

Where has this been? Was it because of bad pitching or great hitting? Either way, if the Defenders can score a third of those runs on a nightly basis, they will win their division. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Baby steps, my friends.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Inside the numbers

How bad has the Defenders' hitting been this season?

Here is a list of the worst batting averages in minor league baseball and the teams' records:

Burlington (Midwest League, Low A) .211, 11-14.
Great Lakes (Miderst League, Low A) .214, 11-15.
Connecticut (Eastern League, Double A) .215, 12-14.
Lehigh Valley (International League, Triple A) .216, 4-24.
Mississippi (Southern League, Double A) .218, 7-20.

Fundraising update

The Defenders and their fans stepped up in a big way last night raising a total of $2,909.78 to benefit the residents of the Peachtree Apartments, which were burned down in a fire last weekend.
“We are grateful to Lou DiBella and the entire Defenders ownership group for allowing us to do this event. Their focus on the community enables our staff to reach out when our community is in need,” Defenders General Manager Charlie Dowd said in a a statement. “Even more so, we are grateful to our fans as they showed up in force to help. We are overwhelmed with the amount of support that they have shown.”

Looking back

Last night's defensive display made look to see what was the team record for errors in a game. It happened nearly three years to the day, as the Norwich Navigators committed six errors in a 12-11 win in 10 innings at Trenton on April 28, 2005.

The Navigators needed six runs in the eighth inning to pull even. Jeremy Accardo picked up the win and Billy Sadler notched his first save of the season.

Trenton's Melky Cabrera was 5-for-6 with three runs scored. Fred Lewis and Tyler Von Schell both went 3-for-5 with three runs for Norwich. Anthony Labarbera had two hits and five RBIs, including a bases-load walk in the final frame to force in the winning run.

As a side note, the Defenders have more wins (2) against Trenton this season than all of last season (1).