Friday, September 25, 2009

All-time Defenders/Navigators team

Will be released in Sunday's Bulletin.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Statement from Lou DiBella

“On behalf of the Defenders organization we want to thank our friends and fans in the region for their loyal support over the years, especially this past season,” said Team President and Managing Partner Lou DiBella. “It was a fantastic year on and off the field.  I’m going to do everything in my power to facilitate and encourage the return of baseball to Dodd Stadium. I look forward to seeing all my friends in Norwich and the Southeastern Connecticut region at an affiliated game at Dodd Stadium in the near future.”

Go to to read the letter of intent to vacate Dodd Stadium and teh audio file of the press conferemce.

Hanging by a small red thread, or seam

Walking throughout Dodd Stadium, there was plenty of gallows humor. Some people couldn't wait to be done and others wished today would somehow stay a day away.

If there's away for someone to speak at their funeral, this is much of what it felt like. The sense of inevitable, the lack of control in the process. It was all too much.

I sat in my press box seat, maybe for the last time, opened the shades that allow me to look upon the field and imagined the numerous Defenders I saw take their swings or go into the windup on the mound. For once, they all blended together into an amalgamation.

Nervousness, and maybe a dash of hope for a last-minute surprise, were hiding under the surface. Yet the last day of school with a final exam or two to go theme lingered.

There is no crying in baseball, but there is most certainly sadness.

Some details

“It is a bittersweet day leaving Norwich,” McEacharn said. “I generated relationships there. We moved there. We feel an obligation to the community. We don't like to move teams. But the team simply could not withstand the financial pressure. They were losing money, a lot of it, on an annual basis, just to stay open.”

Lou DiBella will remain as team owner after months of attempts by the league to remove both the franchise from Norwich and DiBella from ownership. It was only after a long series of missteps that the league settled on keeping DiBella on board if it meant it being the only way to get the team into Richmond. DiBella will have  co-general partners, Gary Green of Alliance Baseball, LLC and Harvey Ross of Ross Holdings, LLC.

Triple-A Lehigh Valley (Penn.) is a joint venture between the ownerships of Trenton and Reading with team President Chuck Domino becoming the Chief Executive Manager of the Richmond franchise. Also joining Joining Domino are Todd Parnell as the Vice President and COO and Bill Papierniak as the general manager. Also on hand was the parent club San Francisco Giants Director of Player Personnel Bobby Evans.

Connecticut’s lease at Dodd Stadium ran through 2012 with buy-out fees after each remaining season. To terminate the lease, the franchise has to pay the city a $140,000 termination fee. That, combined with other itemized fees, leaves ownership with a total bill of $247,171.19.
That bill is made up of:
n $47,777.56 for 2009 base rent
n $1,502.50 for 2009 attendance surcharge
n $41,510.59 for 2009 utilities reimbursement
n $140,000 for lease termination
n $8,952.97 for 2009 fireworks coverage
n $7427.77 for MV and PP takes and interest

The Richmond team name will be selected with a Name-the-Team contest.

It's over

The 15-year Double-A baseball run at Dodd Stadium has come to an end this morning. It was announced in Richmond, Va., that the Defenders, once the Navigators, are on their way out of town for next season.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Check tommorow for updates on the happenings in Richmond. I will have some audio and video there as well as commentary here on the blog.

I spent 90 minutes at Dodd today with the staffers and it's a weird place to be right now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The final moment

10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009 at the Diamond in Richmond, Va.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nothing has really sunk in but here are some pictures

From top to bottom: 90 minutes before game time -- the view from the seat I sat in at my first game at Dodd;The press box gang, from front to back: Rick, Chris, Kat and Ed; Brock Bond fouling off a pitch; Greg and Hondo; The Mascot pedal car race: "Tater's in the green, Cutter's in the feathers."; A picture worth 1,000 words; A ballpark gone silent.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It's 2:10 a.m., and I just returned from Dodd a little while ago.

I'm confident there will be baseball next season, but who knows who will be there. I just want to thank everyone who made this season and those past fun.

I have some pics but I am too tired to post them now. Maybe in the morning.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Last year....Every batter's first intro was to "Your Love" by the Outfield. By the third batter, the crowd was annoyed. The pressbox was laughing. One of the better jokes.

I'm not going to lie

the emotions are flowing heavy throughout Dodd Stadium. No matter how certain anyone is of a NYP league team moving in, the feeling that this is it for Dodd Stadium and minor league baseball is strong.

It's a nice, lively crowd, too.

What I'd do for one more game.

The announcement will be made...

Next Wednesday, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Woes adding up

How well has Josh Tomlin pitched for Akron? One hit through four and only two balls have left the infield -- a Mike McBryde single and a Brandon Crawford fly out.

Add that to the struggled of Ben Snyder -- 3 2/3 IP, five runs on nine hits, and this game feels a lot further apart than the 5-0 score.

A tight jam

Ben Snyder gave up a double and two hit batters in the first inning, but came away without a run on the board thanks in large part to two strikeouts. He's got his big curveball working tonight.

Bye-bye camo

The Defenders are wearing the traditional home whites.

I know it's late (at least here it is)

Never did I imagine how difficult it would be to cover a winning team. Four years ago when I began on the Defenders beat, this was a franchise that made losing look natural. It found ways -- sometimes in the most uncommon and difficult manner -- to lose.

There was the bases load and no out situation two years ago, only to have the batter ground into a 1-2-3 double play before the next guy struck out.

That's what Connecticut Defenders baseball was, in a nutshell.

In a few hours the team will play in the first game of the Eastern League Championship -- amazing. For the baseball fan in Eastern Connecticut, these are the last two days of at least Double-A ball that will ever be played at Dodd Stadium. For those around when the team arrived, do you remember that excitement? This is no time for bitterness. No, this is the time to cherish everything that's left.

I for one, will take a walk around the stadium; have a few more conversations with players, staff and fans. I'll go into the little nooks that few know about and sit in the seat I sat in the first time at the park. After one more BP from on the field, I'll take a deep breathe and go to work.

What's important is that we -- the baseball fan, Defenders or otherwise, make sure we get our last respects in just in case.

Dodd Stadium may not be a mega-million dollar facility, but it is a place that many of us silently called home. Be it the familiar faces or the comfort baseball provides or the escape from everything else, we know there's an end in sight.

For once, the baseball gods didn't cancel September. We might as well enjoy these last two nights.

Roster move

Shane Kaufman gone, Craig Whitaker here.

Looks like Bumgarner is moving to...the Giants bullpen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pitching match ups for Eastern League Finals

Game 1: RHP- Josh Tomlin vs. LHP- Ben Snyder
Game 2: RHP- Jeanmar Gomez  vs. RHP- Daryl Maday
Game 3: LHP- Eric Berger  vs. LHP- Craig Clark
Game 4: RHP- Scott Barnes vs. LHP-Ari Ronick
Game 5: RHP Josh Tomlin vs. TBA

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Don't get too excited

Provided that 1) the Defenders advance to the Eastern League championship by winning the state championship, and B) Tim Lincecum is OK to pitch Monday, don't be too surprised if the Giants send Madison Bumgarner down to pitch, oddly in time for Game 1 on Tuesday.

That's just an idea thrown out by Baseball America. I've heard crazier things.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Ramon castro was hit on the hand -- left, I think -- in the ninth inning. The ball deflected off his hand and hit his face. He is getting an X-ray done to see if he broke his hand or not. Expect Brad Boyer to play third tomorrow.

Also, Akron advanced to finals.

Odd call?

Whit Robbins crushed a first-pitch offering from Wilim Rodriguez that hit off a billboard in right field. The ruling by first base umpire Jason Arends was a three-run home run despite the field rules dictating any ball hit off that sign or the identical one in left is in play.

Brett Pill hit a ball off of the sign in left field earlier this season and that was ruled in play. Decker said he will look into the ruling.

There's a game 4

Defenders fall, 6-1. Game 4 Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at New Britain. Brian Dinkelman hits two homers, drives in three and scores three for the Rock Cats.

Defenders third baseman Ramon Castro was hit in the face in the ninth inning. His condition is unknown at the moment.

Makes you say, "Hmmmm."

The Eastern League isn’t admitting the Connecticut Defenders are relocating to Richmond, Va., after this season, but the New Britain Rock Cats are.

In a 2010 schedule included as part of a press packet for the playoff series with the Defenders, New Britain has itself traveling to play the Defenders in April following a series at Bowie (Md.) and again in June before heading to Altoona (Penn.). The logistics of going between Norwich and either Bowie or Altoona are prohibitive.

Brought to the attention of Rock Cats management, all remaining packets were removed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Before I forget...

Joe McEacharn strongly suggested the Eastern League would realign following this season, likely to three four-team divisions.

Here's my guess at how it will look in 2010:

East or North Division
New Hampshire
New Britain

North or West Division

South Division

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boyer goes deep

Brad Boyer goes yard for a 7-5 Defenders lead.

EME power

For the second straight night, Eddy Martinez-Esteve's bat came to life. Tonight, after New Britain hit a two-out, three-run homer to take the lead in the top of the third, EME hit one of his own for a 5-4 lead after three innings.

Star-studded event

We have some big names in the house tonight. Senator Christopher Dodd anfm cough-cough, EL President Joe McEachern.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My take

I am disappointed the Giants chose to promote Madison Bumgarner. All the talk of he's not ready or he's not mature enough was clearly garbage. They ahev to be thinking of him being in the rotation next year. They could have called up anyone from AAA if they weren't.

Neither Lou DiBella, Charlie Dowd nor anyone else in the front office/ownership knew about this. Why do I know this? Because they have zero say in baseball operations.

To blame people not involved makes no sense.

Bumgarner got the call Monday -- not a bad Labor Day surprise. He won't be back this series against New Britain, and he won't be back for the league championship.

Let's separate emotion from reason here: You here Steve Decker say this all the time, the minors are about player development first. Winning comes second. If you are able to kill two birds with one stone, great. But the needs, both short- and long-term of the San Francisco Giants matters most.

Does losing Bumgarner cost the Defenders the first round? No. It means the series goes four, maybe the full five games. They still win. The lineup is intact and if you hadn't noticed, the Rock Cats were decimated by players taken for the World Cup.

Does losing Bumgarner cost the Defenders the league title? It could. There is no room for error on the part of the starters against either Akron or Reading. If it makes you feel better, Kyle Drabek has been shut down for the rest of the year by the Phillies, so both teams are down an ace.

This is where I am disappointed most -- for the Defenders fans.

Since the Yankees left in 2002, the fans here have been craving a winner. Last year, the team had the makings of something special. Several of the guys from that team said this year that when the Giants promoted Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Rohlinger at the start of a four-game series at Portland (which was up 2 games on Connecticut), it took the wind out of the team's sails.

Everyone knew Pablo was ready. Rollie sat on the bench -- so why promote him? He would have made a difference.

This year, the fans got a taste -- making the playoffs, winning the division title by a wide margin. Now, the feeling si with Bumgarner gone, it's been taken away.

Folks, he's just one guy. And one guy who played every six days. There is a lot of talent on this team and they can win the league championship. If this is the end, don't abandon ship now.

Don't turn your backs on Brandon Crawford or Ben Snyder or Joe Paterson or Craig Whitaker or Tyler LaTorre or Mitch Lively or Bobby Felmy or Mike Mooney or Jackson Williams or Geivy Garcia or Brock Bond or Garrett Broshius or Daryl Maday or Shane Kaufman or Brad Boyer or Mike McBryde or Eddy Martinez-Esteve or Matt Yourkin or Josh Phelps (who is on the roster) or Ramon Castro or Steve Calicutt or Alex Hinshaw (who is back) or Bryan Millikan or Brett Pill or Wilmin Rodriguez or Craig Clark or Dan Griffin.

The point of my listing these names is that you cheered for them for five months and now, because one guy is gone, it's doom and gloom. As much as I appreciate what Bumgarner can do, he's not babe Ruth. Don't forget there are other guys on the field.

There are no less than two games left at Dodd Stadium. At the most, five. Make them the most memorable games ever.

Pitching matchups

Game 1: RHP- Deolis Guerra vs. LHP- Ben Snyder
Game 2: RHP- Matt Fox vs. RHP- Daryl Maday
Game 3: LHP- Ryan Mullins vs. LHP- Craig Clark
Game 4: RHP- Mike McCardell vs. TBA
My guess is Garrett Broshuis starts Game 4


Madison Bumgarner has been called up to San Francisco. No word on who starts tomorrow.

More awards

The Eastern League Baseball Writers Association released its award winners Monday, and I won't waster any more of your time:

ALL-STAR TEAM IS IN CAPS/BOLD. Others receiving votes follow.

Catcher: CARLOS SANTANA, Akron (13 votes) ... Josh Thole, Binghamton (2); Alex Avila, Erie (1).

First baseman: BRETT PILL, Connecticut (11) ... Brian Dopirak, New Hampshire (3); Brandon Snyder, Bowie (1); Ike Davis, Binghamton (1).

Second baseman: BROCK BOND, Connecticut (14) ... Brian Dinkelman, New Britain (2).

Third baseman: NEIL SELLERS, Reading (12) ... Pedro Alvarez, Altoona (4).

Shortstop: EDUARDO NUNEZ, Trenton (16) ... only unanimous selection.

Outfielders: BRENNAN BOESCH, Erie (15); MICHAEL TAYLOR, Reading (14); QUINTIN BERRY, Reading (4) ... Rene Tosoni, New Britain (3); Jose Constanza, Akron (2); Eddy Martinez-Esteve, Connecticut (2); Ryan Strieby, Erie (2); Josh Reddick, Portland (1); Miguel Abreu, Bowie (1); Brandon Roberts, New Britain (1); Kevin Mahar, Reading (1); Brian Dinkelman, New Britain (1); Brian Dopirak, New Hampshire (1).

Designated hitter: BRIAN DOPIRAK, New Hampshire (4 total votes at two positions, plus one nod for Player of the Year).

Utility player: BRIAN DINKELMAN, New Britain (3 total votes at various positions).

Starting pitchers: ZACH McALLISTER, Trenton (11); MADISON BUMGARNER, Connecticut (11); JEANMAR GOMEZ, Akron (10) ... Joe Savery, Reading (3); Brian Matusz, Bowie (3); Yoslan Herrera, Altoona (3); Josh Tomlin, Akron (2); Thad Weber, Erie (1); Felix Doubront, Portland (1); Hector Rondon, Akron (1); Brad Lincoln, Altoona (1); Henry Sosa, Connecticut (1).

Relief pitcher: ANTHONY SLAMA, New Britain (12) ... Dan Otero, Connecticut (2); Vinnie Pestano, Akron (1); Josh Schmidt, Trenton (1).

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: CARLOS SANTANA, Akron (8) ... Brett Pill, Connecticut (3); Michael Taylor, Reading (2); Brian Dopirak, New Hampshire (1); Brock Bond, Connecticut (1).

CO-MANAGERS OF THE YEAR: MIKE SARBAUGH, Akron (6); STEVE DECKER, Connecticut (6) ... John Stearns, Harrisburg (2); Steve Roadcap, Reading (1); Brad Komminsk, Bowie (1).

Sunday, September 06, 2009

No-hitter gone

Madison Bumagrner, Mitch Lively and Joe Paterson combined for six innings of no-hit ball, but Shane Kaufman went jut 1/3 of an inning before it vanished. He allowed five straight hits and eventually six runs.

Listen, if you can

I'll be on WICH 1410 AM in the third inning today discussing the Defenders, playoffs and awards.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Jeanmar Gonzalez of...Akron...was named the EL's pitcher of the year. Compared to Madison Bumgarner, it's not even close who should have won.

Gonzalez: 10-4
Bumgarner: 9-1
Advantage: Bumgarner

Gonzalez: 3.38 ERA in 117.1 IP
Bumgarner: 1.91 ERA 106 IP
Advantage: Bumgarner

Gonzalez: 105 Ks
Bumgarner: 69 Ks
Advantage: Gonzalez

Gonzalez: .247 Avg against
Bumgarner: .201 avg. against.
Advantage: Bumgarner.

Gonzalez 110 hits allowed
Bumgarner: 80 hits allowed
Advantage: Bumgarner

Gonzalez: 36 walks
Bumgarner: 30 walks
Advantage: Even, considering innings pitched

I dare anyone to justify Gonzalez being named the best pitcher in the league when he's clearly not. The strikeouts aren't close, but neither is ERA, avg. or hits allowed. Understand that if Bumgarner were to pitch the number of innings (11.1) to draw even with Gonzalez, he would have to allow, on average, 2.6 hits per inning to even that stat. Think about that -- 2.6 hits per inning!!! That's not good. So, how, if Bumgarer basically has to be a bad pitcher for 11-plus innings just to be on par with Gonzalez in hits allowed, is the Akron pitcher better?

Bumgarner would also have to give up nearly two runs in each of those innings for their ERAs to match. Would you want a pitcher who allows essential 18 runs per nine innings? Didn't think so. But that's what Bumgarner would have to do to raise his ERA to that of Gonzalez. Gonzalez had two more games than Bumgarner, so in essence, those two games were ones that Gonzalez had the snot beat out of him which somehow makes him better.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Another snub or two

Read my column on