Results tagged ‘ Frisco RoughRiders ’
GAMES #38 and 39
Frisco RoughRiders (25-12) at Midland RockHounds (20-17)
Thursday, May 19 – Game one starts at 4:30 p.m.
Security Bank Ballpark – Midland, TX
Watch: MiLB.TV (Midland feed)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Live stats: Game one / Game two
This series: Games 3 and 4 of 4 (Riders lead, 2-0)
This season: Games 7 and 8 of 28 (Riders lead, 4-2)
FRISCO LINEUP (Game one)
- Lewis Brinson – RF
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa – SS
- Ryan Cordell – CF
- Ronald Guzman – 1B
- Preston Beck – DH
- Garrett Weber – SS
- Zach Cone – LF
- Luis Mendez – 3B
- Kellin Deglan – C
RHP Connor Sadzeck (4-0, 3.24 ERA)
RIDERS RECAP: Tuesday at Midland (W, 11-8 – 15 innings)
Highlight of the night: Ronald Guzman‘s two-run triple adds insurance in the 15th
PREGAME INTERVIEW: Catcher Kellin Deglan
SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)
LAST TIME OUT:
The RoughRiders game with Midland yesterday was postponed due to rain…On Tuesday, the two teams played a 15-inning affair, ending in an 11-8 RoughRiders victory…Frisco led 6-1 after five innings behind masterful work from YU DARVISH in his rehab appearance. He struck out six and allowed just three hits, all singles, surrendering an unearned run in the first…Midland rallied back, however, with four runs in the sixth off of JOSE MONEGRO and another marker off of RYNE SLACK in the ninth to send the games to extra innings…Frisco and Midland traded solo home runs in the 13th before the RoughRiders jumped on the Hounds with four unearned runs in the 15th and held on for the win…PRESTON BECK earned the win in his 2016 pitching debut, allowing one run in two innings.
YU SAW SOMETHING SPECIAL:
Right-handed pitcher YU DARVISH re-joined the Riders to continue his Major League rehabilitation assignment Tuesday. The three-time American League All-Star worked five innings and allowed just three hits and an unearned run, while walking one and striking out six. Of Darvish’s 68 pitches, 47 were strikes.
RIDING INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS:
Frisco’s 25-12 record is the best through 37 games in team history, one game ahead of the 2008 RoughRiders who were 24-13 at this point. The 2008 squad finished with an 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series.
RYAN CORDELL has been off to a great start in 2016, including a Texas League Player of the Week and Player of the Month honor. Although his 17-game hitting streak came to an end May 2, he continued his on-base streak to an MiLB-leading 36 games Tuesday and reached twice in the win. Dating back to the final three games of 2015, he has reached base in 39 straight contests.
VIEW FROM THE TOP:
In addition to Cordell’s impressive on-base streak, he also leads the Texas League in numerous categories. With a solo home run in the eighth inning Monday, the Riders outfielder passed Midland’s Matt Chapman for the league lead in home runs (10) and Ryon Healy for the lead in RBI (35). Cordell also tops the the league in batting average (.353) and runs scored (34), and he leads all of Minor League Baseball in slugging percentage (.699).
After striking out 180 hitters in the first 23 games (7.8 per game), Riders pitching has amassed 125 punchouts in the last 14 games (8.9 per game). In addition, three starters have set career-highs in single-game strikeouts during that stretch (VICTOR PAYANO, 13; SAM WOLFF, 10;CONNOR SADZECK, 9).
STARTING SERIES STRONG:
With a win Monday night, the Riders now have a 9-2 record in series openers this year. The only two blemishes were one-run defeats, in last Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Midland and last Thursday’s 6-5 loss to Corpus Christi. The Riders have won six of their first 10 series, including two sweeps of Northwest Arkansas and San Antonio.
“ONE”-DERFUL IN CLOSE GAMES:
Despite leading the Texas League in run differential (+43), Frisco has played in 11 one-run contests, winning seven, over the last 20 games. The Riders have an 8-5 record in games decided by one run this year and are 4-1 in games decided by two runs.
HOME IS WHERE THE ‘PEN IS:
Right-handed pitcher JOSE LECLERC has made a marked improvement since transitioning from the starting rotation to the bullpen. Leclerc had an ERA of 7.88 in two starts but has allowed just two earned runs in 12.0 innings of relief, good for a 1.50 ERA.
HOW SWEEP IT ISN’T:
After losing all four games to Corpus Christi in the last series, the RoughRiders were swept for the first time this season. It was the first time Frisco had been swept since losing three games to Midland in the final series of last year (September 5-7).
CUT THEM SOME SLACK:
Reliever RYNE SLACK saw an impressive stretch come to an end in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game. The southpaw began the season with 14 1/3 scoreless innings between April 8 and May 8 until the Hooks finally tagged him for two runs Saturday. However, his .098 opposing average is still the best in the Texas League.
KINER CAN CATCH:
RoughRiders utility man ISIAH KINER-FALEFA has found a new skillset, and it comes from behind the plate. The 21-year-old is catching for the first time in his career this season, having made seven starts behind the plate. The new position has worked incredibly well for Kiner-Falefa, who has caught the last four baserunners who have attempted to steal on his watch. He had not allowed a passed ball for the first five games until allowing one in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader.
The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate with a winning record. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 97-57 (.630), which is the second-best winning percentage among all Minor League systems behind Cleveland. Every full-season affiliate in the organization has a record above .500, as Class A Hickory enters the day at 26-13, Class A-Advanced High Desert is 26-14, and Triple-A Round Rock is 20-18. Round Rock was recently ranked the fifth-best Minor League team (any level) by MLB.com’s Jim Callis.
TOP OF THE CLASS:
The RoughRiders enter the season with six players ranked in either Baseball America or MLBPipeline.com’s Rangers Top 30 Prospects. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in Rangers’ farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock. Brinson is joined by five other players named in the lists—RYAN CORDELL (No. 15 in MLB, No. 11 in BA), RONALD GUZMAN (23, 29), JOSE LECLERC (25, 21), SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26).
GAME ONE: The RoughRiders face Corey Walter for the first time this year in Game One of the twin bill. Walter moved into the rotation when Daniel Megden was promoted to Triple-A, but he missed Frisco in the first series between the two teams…Drafted in the 28th Round of the 2014 Draft out of West Virginia University, Walter throws a two-seam sinker and a slider and is working on his changeup….GAME TWO: Righty Joel Seddon takes the ball for Midland tonight in the back-half of the doubleheader. Seddon has turn things around after a rough start, alllowed three or fewer earned runs in three of his last four outings, including one against Frisco. Seddon is in his third season as a professional and his first with the RockHounds. The University of South Carolina product was selected by the Athletics in the 11th round of the 2014 draft. He was previously selected in the 20th round by Toronto out of St. Clair High School in 2011. He was mostly a reliever in college and in his first season in the Oakland farm system, but made 14 starts in 34 appearances with Class A-Advanced Stockton last season. His arsenal includes a two-seam and four-seam fastball, changeup, slider, and curveball.
Erick “Shaq” Matta isn’t a member of the Riders active roster, but that doesn’t stop him from making contributions to the squad. In addition to helping out as a bullpen catcher with the RoughRiders, Matta has assumed the unofficial role of pre-game motivator by way of a short dance.
The routine takes place in the Riders dugout, shortly before each game. Matta gets in the middle of his teammates, who circle around him, and get energized by watching him dance. The ensuing claps, chants, and cheers from his teammates are noticeable around the ballpark.
Matta, the 22-year-old catcher, was a member of the active roster for a short while earlier this season and played in one game on April 18. The native of San Juan, Puerto Rico says the tradition started early in the season on a day when the energy wasn’t quite at normal levels before a game.
“I said, ‘let’s go do that’ and see the reaction after that,” said Matta. “Now, they do it for motivation.”
“I like it because – you know, Puerto Ricans, Latins, they like dance, you know?” said Matta. “Sometimes, the American guys don’t like that, but now, they like it.”
It’s a simple dance, but it’s brought Matta and his teammates closer together, while giving them a little extra energy boost before they take the field.
As Matta puts it, “I’m not on the roster, but I feel like I am.”
Baseball term of the day: Dancer – A knuckleball
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
We spoke with Guilder Rodriguez about transitioning from player to coach. We will have more on RidersTV soon; here is a teaser of our interview with him from our Spring Training Travels Series. All installments from the series can be found here, including Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, and our mid-trip update.
Although his time in the Major Leagues was short-lived, Guilder Rodriguez is one of the most well-known RoughRiders in team history. The middle infielder is the all-time leader in Riders in games played, hits, and stolen bases.
Coming soon to #RidersTV is an exclusive interview with Guilder about Spring Training as a coach and his upcoming role as a coach in the Dominican Summer League.
Here is a preview:
Baseball term of the day: zob – a weak person; a fool.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
This marks the fifth day of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. In this installment, we check in with some former RoughRiders who were invited to major league camp as non-roster invitees. All installments can be found here, including Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.
If you’ve been to a Spring Training game, you know the drill. The major leaguers play for the first five or six innings, before you find you find yourself asking “who?” every time an unfamiliar name is introduced as a pinch hitter or defensive replacement. These mystery players are often the non-roster invitees.
Non-roster invitees are players with minor-league contracts (i.e. not on the 40-man roster), but are participating on the major league side of camp instead of the minor league side. Often, they are younger players working their way to their first full-time MLB roster spot, while veteran big leaguers are occasionally brought in, too (a la Jeremy Guthrie this year). This spring, the Rangers had 18 non-roster invitees, including a handful of former RoughRiders. While many of the non-roster invitees won’t make the big league roster right away, the opportunity to train alongside some of the game’s best players provides a valuable experience.
“I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself,” said 2014-15 RoughRiders infielder Drew Robinson. “I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, absorb anything I can from these guys.
And that absorption of knowledge from established veterans can be just as important as refining on-field skills.
“Seeing how they go about their business day to day, I mean, it’s huge because it’s something you have to be able to learn how to do,” said 2015 RoughRiders outfielder Ryan Cordell. “At this point in my career, learning how to become better off the field, how to prepare myself when I come to the field, that’s the biggest part.
Though they’re not a regular face in the Rangers clubhouse during the summer, they’ve been welcomed in as part of the family.
“It’s a good vibe around here,” said 2013 RoughRiders catcher/first baseman Brett Nicholas. “They treat us like we’re part of the team. I’ve enjoyed talking to some of the veteran guys who have been around for a while and just them giving their two cents on what it’s like to play at this level.”
Monday, the Rangers sent nine players down to minor league camp – including Robinson, Cordell and Lewis Brinson. Though they won’t be in Arlington for opening day, they’re another step closer to becoming full-time major leaguers, whether later this season or later on down the road. And perhaps next year, they’ll crack the 40-man roster and can serve as gracious hosts to the newest wave of non-roster invitees.
Baseball term of the day: add a foot – To gain physical maturity and thus increase the velocity of one’s fastball
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
This marks the fourth day, third full day, of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. In our fourth installment, Steve Goldberg recaps the Rangers’ weekend trip to San Antonio and the adjustment to getting back in a rhythm at camp. All installments can be found here, including Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.
With two full days of Spring Training under our belt, we move on to our third day here at the Rangers’ training complex. When we arrived in Surprise on Saturday, a group of players were noticeably missing. They were playing two games against the Kansas City Royals in San Antonio.
It was a very enjoyable weekend for the group who made the 850-mile trek back to Texas. The Rangers won both games against the Royals, scored a total of 20 runs, and played in front of 27,536 fans on Friday and 33,592 on Saturday. This was indeed a major change of pace from playing in smaller Cactus League ballparks.
The team experienced many thrills over the weekend, highlighted by former RoughRider Lewis Brinson’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in Friday’s 7-5 victory.
Hanser Alberto, another former Rider, enjoyed the change of pace going from Surprise to San Antonio for the weekend. Alberto was a perfect 2-for-2 in the first game Friday.
“The San Antonio weekend was great,” Alberto said. “It’s a good city and it was great to be around the guys. We had a lot of fun there and played very well.”
Alberto and the squad who made the trip to San Antonio were back at the Rangers’ training complex Sunday. They had a quick turnaround, with a 1:05 p.m. big league game against the Angels looming. Despite the major contrast between playing at the Alamodome and Surprise Stadium, the team had a smooth transition back to the everyday routine of camp.
“It’s the same game, nothing new,” Alberto said. “You see the ball and hit the ball. You make the routine plays and play your hardest. We came back here and are continuing to work hard. We want to keep showing everyone that we’re ready.”
For Alberto, his first taste of Major League action last year has impacted his mindset at this year’s Spring Training. He continues to receive valuable advice from the experienced players in the clubhouse that have helped him with adjust to playing in the big leagues.
“I have learned a lot from the veteran guys,” Alberto said. “It’s been a great experience. Now I have a better idea how to work and concentrate. The results are going to be different every day, but now I feel comfortable at every point in the game. I am more ready than ever.”
There are many other former Riders in a similar position. Chi Chi Gonzalez, Keone Kela, and Ryan Strausborger all made their Major League debuts with the Rangers last season and bring that experience with them to this year’s Spring Training.
As mentioned in our Day 2 post, this is my first time at Spring Training. One of the most noticeable and pleasantly surprising things has been observing the interaction between Major League veterans and the up-and-coming prospects throughout all levels of the organization.
Everyone here is striving to improve and advance to the highest level of the sport. The veterans have a visible presence at the camp giving their tips and offering advice to the younger players, who are learning as much as possible in their quest for success.
Baseball term of the day: freight delivery – slow pitching
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
This marks the third day, second full day, of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. In our third installment, Nathan Barnett sits down with Tepid Participation, @TepidP on Twitter, to talk who he is looking for on the back fields, why he comes out to Spring Training, and the Choctaw Lazy River. This interview took place on Saturday, March 19. All installments can be found here, including Day 1 and Day 2.
Nathan: Welcome out to Surprize, Arizona and today we are joined by TepidP of Lone Star Ball. If you’re a fan of the Rangers minor leagues, you know who he is. Michael: first, thanks for joining us
TepidP: No problem.
N: Like us, you’re here on the first day of your Spring Training Trip. How long will you be out here this year?
T: I’ll be out here about five days this year (Editor’s note: same as us! Not planned)
N: Is this an every year trip for you?
T: Every year, man. It’s a blast.
N: I know you have fun out here, but what specifically brings you out here?
T: Just looking at the new kids mostly. It’s one of those opportunities–you see all of these kids who get drafted in June–this is one of my opportunities to see a lot of those kids. A lot of Dillon Tate, Mike Matuella–even if they are not pitching, like in Mike’s case. You still get your first set of looks at some of the new guys and then see some of the progress that some of the guys may have made away from Frisco.
N: So, first thing you did, you got off the plane and came straight here. Who was the first guy you were looking for, the first person you wanted to see out here?
T: After you guys!?! I would have to say it was G-Rod (Guilder Rodriguez). I love seeing Guilder, and I am so happy for him to make that transition into the second part of his baseball career, which may or may not end up being even more fruitful than the first part of his career. He’s going to start coaching; I had the chance to catch up with him the first few minutes that I was here, and he’s really excited about the opportunity. I am happy for him. He had an amazing career, and all RoughRiders fans will remember him, and he’s a legend.
N: Now we have to give you some credit here. As many who knew G-Rod as a player, you knew he would be a coach six or so years ago.
T: Everyone did! He’s always been a coach. You know, he was a coach who every once in a while would fill in at shortstop. He’s done that for the last, I don’t know, half-decade of his career, and even he’s known that. It’s nice that he finally made the transition, and he just told me “no more pressure. No more pressure of going 0-for-4.” I just laughed at him. He’s really excited about the opportunity, so I am happy for him.
N: First games are about to start today. Who are you excited to watch today specifically?
T: Well today we are going to get to peek at the starters. Actually, a couple of guys probably bound for Frisco. We’ve got Jose Leclerc on one field, and we have Connor Sadzeck on the other. Those guys will probably go a couple of innings, and obviously those are guys who can dial it up, but also need to work on refining their command, and refining their mechanics, and perfecting their delivery, and they will have a chance to do that today. Hopefully, we will see them for a little while in Frisco.
— RoughRiders Media (@FriscoRRMedia) March 19, 2016
N: Okay, I am going to put you on the spot: if you had to guess the starting nine position players in Frisco for Opening Day, who would you guess they will be.
T: Oh geez, that really is on the spot. I would say: “Condor” Guzman (Ronald Guzman) over at first. Isiah Kiner-Falefa at second. I’m going to say Luis Marte at short. Third base…uh…I’m not really sure honestly. Then I think Royce Bolinger will be in the outifeld, probably Preston Beck in right, and I’d probably go with Chris Garia (Christopher Garia) in center?
— Frisco RoughRiders (@RidersBaseball) March 19, 2016
N: And the designated hitter on Opening Day?
N: We will see what we can do! You tweeted last week about Matt Bush, who is a new guy with the organization who has, let’s called it a “checkered past.” You heard he was throwing upper 90s, with a good hard slider. How excited are you to delve into his story?
T: It’s fascinating, you know. It’s never not going to be fascinating to have a guy who was literally in prison the last three years who has been given an great opportunity by the Rangers. We will have to see if he can take full advantage of it. The skills seem to be there, so it will be up to him.
N: Now let’s talk a little off the field stuff. You are a guy who covers baseball but you’re also into the business of baseball. What was your first reaction when you heard about the Choctaw Lazy River going into Dr Pepper Ballpark this summer?
T: (laughs) My first reaction was “cannonballllll.” I think it’s great. I think its a great opportunity for you guys to get more people out to the park for some great family fun. It’s not a big surprise that at the minor league level, you are marketing the experience even more so than the players. This is another opportunity to put another thing in front of people that will be a draw and get people to be excited about coming out to the park. I think it’s absolutely the coolest thing going.
N: Now you are usually working when you are out at at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Do you have plans to bring the family out and enjoy the lazy river as a fan?
T: I am just going to do a cannonball in my clothes. I am just going to run out there on the first day and put my notepad to the side and just do a cannonball, and we will inaugurate it like that.
N: Well, we will warn the ushers about that. Last thing, what story lines are you watching coming out of spring.
T: Obviously Triple-A should be amazing. With all of the guys that have come through Frisco the last year or so, Triple-A should be great. You’re going to have Jurickson Profar, and probably Joey Gallo, and Nomar Mazara, and Lewis Brinson, if he’s not down with us in Frisco. You’re going to have an amazing opportunity there to watch some really great potential future superstars. Then down at the A-ball level, you have guys in the next wave coming along. Guys like Dillon Tate, guys like Luis Ortiz. Eventually later this summer you will see Mike Matuella and guys like Eric Jenkins and Josh Morgan, kind of the next generation of guys who will become household names and future Rangers.
N: Well thanks for your time! Enjoy your time out here on the back fields!
Baseball term of the day: bite – the sharp downward break, late or fast, of a curveball or slider.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
This marks the second day, first full day, of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. All installments can be found here, including Day 1.
We made it to Arizona! Each of us comes to Surprise with slightly different levels of Spring Training experience. Nathan is the most experienced of the three of us, already having been five times previously. For Steve, this is his first ever visit to Spring Training (and we hope it’s not his last).
I’m somewhere in the middle. This week marks my fourth visit to Arizona for Spring Training. But those first three visits were spent exclusively in the major league parks, casually taking in America’s pastime under the sun. Don’t get me wrong; each of those visits was quite enjoyable. However, this year, I’m exploring the minor league side of the complex too, and it’s taking my Spring Training experience to the next level.
On the back fields, you get a little bit of everything. Whether it’s Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre sharing a morning laugh in major league camp, all the minor league pitchers gathering for some morning insight and advice, or just the constant crack of the bat coming from some of the organization’s up-and-comers in one of the various batting practice setups, there’s an interminable feel of baseball in the warm, Arizona air.
After taking in the morning workouts, we stayed in Surprise for the afternoon to take in some of the minor league games against Kansas City. It’s a much different feel than a major league game out here. Not only are the crowds significantly smaller, but they’re mainly composed of other players, coaches and scouts in the organization, as opposed to fans. Nonetheless, it’s still fun to watch a hitter battle through a long at-bat or a pitcher find a way out of trouble. After all, baseball is baseball is baseball, whether it’s played in Surprise Stadium or on Field 6 of the complex.
One of the big takeaways from my first day on the back fields was the intrigue of seeing the Rangers organization together as one, with seven practice fields separated by just a few hundred yards. In one moment, you may be looking at the current major leaguers, while the next moment may lead you to the rising stars that will don a minor league uniform this summer in Frisco or elsewhere in the farm system. And sometimes, the major and minor league worlds collide, in the case of non-roster invitees. I’ll have more on them later in the week here on the blog.
Until then, I’m looking forward to spending more time on the back fields. If you’re like me and have only ever seen Spring Training from the major league parks, I’d recommend venturing around the complex a bit more next time you come to really soak up what Spring Training is all about.
The fun is only beginning here in Surprise. Steve will have another update for you tomorrow.
Baseball term of the day: Agate – The baseball. The term may have derived from “marble,” another name for the ball. Agates and aggies were popular forms of marbles.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
To our loyal blog readers,
It’s been awhile since our last post. Apologies on that.
You can expect to see consistent content here moving forward. Since last we wrote, much has changed. I, Nathan Barnett, have returned to the organization, filling the role as the leader of the Media Relations department here in Frisco, taking over after a well-lead four-year effort by my former mentor Alex Vispoli. Some fans may remember me from the 2013 season, when I served as a Media Relations Assistant under Alex.
But enough about me. I am thrilled that I will be joined by two excellent up-and-coming stars in the business that are sure to entertain our fans here on this space and on the air as well.
So, without further ado, Steve Goldberg and Ryan Rouillard, in their own words.
Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451, once said, “Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”
This holds true not just about writing, but also about everything in life. No matter how grueling your schedule may be on a given day, it is a thrill to have a job that you love. For many people, that may love may stem from things like art, history, and literature. Or architecture! (Seinfeld fans, anyone?)
But the love and inspiration for my career comes from baseball. It always has been, and it always will be. Every time I broadcast a game or write a feature story, I recall the experience of the first baseball game I attended and the emotions I felt that day.
I was born a few blocks from Fenway Park in Boston, so baseball naturally slipped into my blood. But my first game was not in Boston. My family moved to Houston in the summer of 1998, and my father took me to the Astrodome the following year.
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in May, but the rain outside was not an issue since the Astros played indoors. The Astroturf field was very bizarre, certainly not like the grass fields I played tee-ball on. I could not stop looking at the roof high over the diamond and the giant American and Texas flags hanging above the wall in deep center field.
The game began, and I was amazed with how much better it was to be there in person instead of just watching it on television. The roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat, and the smell of fresh hot dogs created the perfect atmosphere to enjoy America’s pastime.
I stared up at the press box and envied the broadcasters, who I heard (and imitated) nearly every day from home. They truly lived the dream, sitting in the catbird seat at a baseball stadium every single day.
Later in the game, I asked my father if we could leave our seats for a few minutes to get an ice cream.
“Let’s watch this next batter,” he replied. “Then we can go.”
The mighty, right-handed hitter for St. Louis stepped into the box moments later. Two red birds sat perched on a yellow baseball bat atop the word ‘Cardinals’ in script on the front of his grey jersey. On the back of the uniform, he donned the number 25 with the last name ‘McGwire’ printed in red letters above.
This Mark McGwire fella had just set a new single-season record by hitting 70 home runs the previous year. But I had no idea, at the time. I was just a five-year old, starry-eyed boy awaiting the upcoming events in the game but battling with an ever-present craving for ice cream.
My father was keen about watching this one particular player bat, so I made sure I paid close attention too. Sure enough, McGwire connected with the baseball, and it soared far beyond the outfield wall. As he rounded the bases triumphantly, Dad turned to me with a grin below the moustache on his face.
“Let’s go get some ice cream.”
I returned to my seat with a Chipwich, an ice cream sandwich nestled between two chocolate chip cookies. I still vividly recall how delicious it tasted. Every time I have seen a home run since, I think back to that Chipwich and remember my feelings after McGwire hit that monstrous home run. I knew from that day forward, I wanted to be a part of the ‘larger than life’ game of baseball forever.
Nobody can recall every single pitch, but there should always be key points that stand out to viewers. As a broadcaster and a writer, I keep this in mind when considering the defining moments of a game. You never know what five-year-old, starry-eyed kid in the crowd may be gazing up at the press box envying your job. While eating a Chipwich, of course.
It has been almost 17 years since I first realized my passion for this sport. My first year working in professional baseball took me from my alma mater, the University of Missouri, to Charleston, S.C., and then all the way to Melbourne, Australia.
Now, I am ready to begin the 2016 season as a Media Relations and Broadcasting Assistant for the RoughRiders. Just a four-hour drive from my childhood home in Houston. Back in the Lone Star State.
I hit my growth spurt in 6th grade, well before most of my friends. As a result, I grew up hearing people tell me I had the bulk to play football, or the height to play basketball. Despite all the outside noise, baseball has always been the clear number one in my life.
Growing up just a few miles east of Seattle, Safeco Field was my home away from home in the summers. I couldn’t get enough of venturing into the Emerald City with my dad and taking in the unique buzz running throughout a baseball stadium.
I grew up idolizing local stars, such as Edgar Martinez and Ichiro Suzuki (I missed Griffey’s first stint in Seattle by a few years). My desire to be like them someday led me to start playing baseball at a young age. But over time, I found a new member of the team to idolize: legendary Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus.
Niehaus, a Hall-of-Famer, was my companion through the airwaves whenever I wasn’t at the ballpark. His unbridled passion and love for baseball only furthered my love for America’s pastime. He would commonly say he never worked a day in his life because he was having so much fun behind the mic, and it was obvious to me listening at home. He became so special to me that I felt like I had lost a family member when he died in 2010.
With Dave as an inspiration, I was the kid who muted the “Backyard Baseball” broadcasters and did it myself. Even sometimes at Safeco Field, I would sit in section 330, just above Dave, and try and call my own game. My dream of broadcasting withered for a few years in high school, but in my senior year, I had a chance to resurrect it when I called Mercer Island High School basketball games on the school’s station. Even though it wasn’t baseball, I had so much fun behind the mic, further understanding why Dave sounded as giddy as he did every night.
When I got to the University of Oregon in 2012, there was no question in my mind that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I got actively involved with the campus radio station, KWVA, during the school year. That place has been – and still is – a great influence on my career. In the summers, I broadcast collegiate summer wood-bat baseball in the West Coast League. I was in Victoria, BC in 2013, before returning stateside to work in Yakima, WA the last two summers. My time in the WCL, where I was calling baseball almost every day for two months, only strengthened my love for baseball and being around such a special sport.
Now, here I am, just a few weeks from graduating and beginning what I know will be a fantastic journey with the RoughRiders. Maybe I could have made it work had I tried football or basketball, like everyone suggested, but I’m not sure either of those would have made me as happy as I am now. Baseball is, and will always be, where my heart lies. I can’t wait to spend another season behind the mic, where I hope my love of the game radiates through the airwaves, just like it did for me with Dave.
As for me, I introduced myself to our readers back in 2013, and, to borrow an old cliche, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Since my time in Frisco, I had the privledge of working with the mighty Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the first as a member of the Rangers farm system and last year as a Cubs affiliate.
We made the finals in 2014 with a handful of past and future RoughRiders: Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Chris Garia, Preston Beck, Royce Bolinger, Kellin Deglan, Jose Leclerc, Cody Ege, Cody Buckel, Chad Bell, Chad James, Luis Parra–the list goes on. That was a special team, a special group of guys that had put together an absurd 2013 season with the Hickory Crawdads (we had Joey Gallo, and Jorge Alfaro, and Nick Williams, and Chi Chi Gonzalez all earlier that year). The club came up just short of a title, skippered by Joe Mikulik by the way, falling three games to one in the Mills Cup Finals.
The team captured the crown in year one of the Cubs era in 2015. It was a joyous ride, and I was incredibly proud of those players too.
I cannot wait to get going in the 2016 season (okay–there is still a lot to do before then, so I CAN wait, but still excited!).
Fortunately for all three of us, we don’t have to wait until April 7 when the team plays the season opener in Springdale against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. We will be headed to Spring Training in Surprise, Arizona next weekend and will be sure to share our thoughts from the desert!
Baseball term of the day: hamfatter – a vociferous baseball fan
(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)
The Riders won the first of three against the Arkansas Travelers on Thursday night. Below are the audio highlights from the 2-0 victory.
INNING: TOP 2
SCORE: RIDERS 1-0
PLAY: Riders strike first thanks to an Eric Stamets throwing error
INNING: BOTTOM 3
SCORE: RIDERS 1-0
PLAY: Jake Skole slides to rob Drew Maggi of a hit
INNING: TOP 5
SCORE: RIDERS 1-0
PLAY: Andrew Faulkner throws out Chad Hinkle on a slow tapper
INNING: TOP 6
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0
PLAY: Suarez walks Robinson with the bases loaded
INNING: BOTTOM 8
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0
PLAY: Jesus Pirela works out of a bases loaded jam to retire Travs in 8th
INNING: BOTTOM 9
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0
PLAY: Closer Francisco Mendoza records his second save
Next Game: Frisco RoughRiders (3-4) @ Arkansas Travelers (6-1) on Friday, April 17th at 7:10 p.m.
Probables: Jake Thompson (0-1, 4.50) vs. Tyler DeLoach (1-0, 0.00)