Results tagged ‘ Nathan Barnett ’

How I keep score: part three (Nathan)

IMG_4134

And now for the final part in our three-part series on scorekeeping. Save the best most esoteric for last. My scorekeeping is high-maintenance, requires coloring skills, and probably an instructional manual, but it works for me. You can read about the way Ryan keeps score and Steve makes his book on the blog as well.

Below are the scorebook pages for the Riders come-from-behind win over Corpus Christi this past Saturday. (Don’t mind those pages folded over. Re-scan it? Psh: I got stuff to do!).

(Click to view larger image)

Scorebook Page 2

Scorebook Page 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing that jumps out at most people, of course, are the colors (or maybe the messiness).

Let’s start with the history.

The History

I first learned to keep score from my grandfathers, particularly on my father’s side. I grew up going to tons of Rangers games, and my grandpa always kept score at the game. I just hope my system now makes more sense than my scribbles at age six.

That said, my system is simply my system TODAY. I am a tinkerer. I change things a lot. It’s also MY system. It probably wouldn’t work for you. I’d recommend coming up with your own and tinkering. All brains work differently.

I owe most of my current love for colors to one of my mentors, and the former voice of the RoughRiders, Alex Vispoli, whom I worked here in Frisco in 2013. Alex used color pens. I had been using highlighters since 2012 , but the pens took things to a new level.

The Basics

For the players, numbers and positions are written in black for opposing teams (generic, boring, boo other teams), while the Riders numbers and positions are in Red (hurrah! Color! Fun! Go Riders!).

Riders-defensive-chart

Riders defensive chart example

 

Opponents-Defensive-Chart

Opposing team defensive chart example

For the defensive chart alignments, these colors hold as well. As you can see to the left, the defensive chart for the opponents is all in black (that’s Corpus Christi), and the Riders defensive chart is all in red, with one notable exception, the pitchers.

Below, you’ll see the lineup for the Riders. All of the player names in the batting lineup and the pitcher on the defensive chart are either in red, green, or (in some cases, but not in this game, in blue). This corresponds to their handedness. So, red for right (R for R), green for left (green is weird, lefties are weird, plus it’s very different-looking from red). Blue is for switch hitters (had to finish out the RGB color scheme) as seen below.

Riders-scorecard

 

Defensive chart in more detail

A few other points on the defensive chart, which again, looks like so:

Riders-defensive-chart

  • The numbers in green above the player indicate the number of errors for each player.
  • For the outfielder, the first number is the number of assists and the second number is the total number of errors.
  • On a day I have more time, I will put games played/errors at that position and then in parenthesis above it, will show the total number of games played in the field / total errors at all positions. For outfielders I will write in games/assists/errors. Here is an example.
  • The numbers in dark purple are the stolen base efficiency for pitchers and catchers. So here, runners have been caught one in five times against Reed Garrett, and Kellin Deglan has thrown out 23-of-71 would-be basestealers.
  • I also list passed balls here for catchers, and like this example, will sometimes write in the record for the pitcher and the team when the current battery works together.

Riders Lineup in more detail

Riders-scorecard

 

  • I keep stats on the Riders in our Game Notes, so I don’t write them in on my book. Instead, I load the game notes on my iPad and display them right in front of me. It saves me time from writing them in my book this way; plus, I don’t have to look down.
  • The brown numbers after each player is the current hitting and on-base streak. For example, in this game, Isiah Kiner-Falefa entered the game with an eight-game hit streak and a 14-game on-base streak.
  • The writing in blue is shorthand reminders of something interesting about that player or something I want to mention that night. I use the big vertical lines to serve as a period of sorts, separating different notes.

Opposing Lineup in more detail

Opponents-Lineups

  • The only real difference here is at the stat line, which is how I used to do both sides of my book. The format is (games) AVG, 2B/3B/HR, RBI, K:BB      SB-SBA. So Derek Fisher is batting .253 with 13 doubles, three triples, 14 homers, 52 RBI, 104 strikeouts and 62 walks. He’s stolen 19 bases in 25 tries.

The scoring

Now to the meat and potatoes. How to actually keep score. Everything else is in preparation for the actual game.

Scorebook Page 1

  • The highlighting
    • Reasoning: My brain loves colors for some reason. I have a hard time pulling out how many strikeouts a pitcher has without highlighting them in a certain color, for example.
    • Hits in yellow
    • Strikeouts in red
    • Walks in orange
    • Errors in pink
    • Hit batters in purple
    • Stolen bases in green
    • Runs in blue
  • The pens
    • Reasoning: I ran out of highlighter colors! That, and some things need a more fine point.
    • The path of the ball is marked in green (for example…”L” is line drive and “SL” is soft liner)
    • Plus with a circle around it in purple is an RBI. “2+” for two RBI on the play, “3+” for three, etc.
    • Wild pitches are written in orange, which I write next to the path that they took the extra base on.
    • Passed balls are in purple, written like wild pitch, along the base path.
    • Balks are in blue, same as the last two.
    • Double plays are circled in red.
  • The pencil
    • Reasoning: baseball is old school. I have an irrational hatred for people who score in pen only. Also, I make too many mistakes to score in pen.
    • I use “real” pencils. None of this mechanical junk. This also means I travel with a pencil sharpener.
    • Because I had a horrible habit of starting the next inning in the same column as the last, I shade in the entire empty column in pencil, much to the consternation of a particular Winston-Salem broadcaster.
    • I keep all basic scoring, including balls and strikes in pencil. Stolen from Ryan, I now count called, swinging, and foul strikes specifically. For example, take this box below, a runners interference out. The sequence went: called strike (c), called strike (C), ball (3), ball (4), ball (5), and foul (6). Unlike Ryan, after two strikes, I write the number of the pitch for a foul to make it easier to count the total pitches in the at-bat.

At-bat

The rest

I keep various notes here and there. Things change. Times change. They are, in-fact, “a changing,” or maybe you haven’t heard. I am sure this will all look very different next year.

Props to Ryan for the idea for this series and great work by both Ryan and Steve for their previous entries and hard work on the blog this year. It’s been a pleasure writing for the first time in awhile.

– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: under the big top – In the Major Leagues

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

 

Saddle Up: Riders at San Antonio (5/6/16)

GAME #27
Frisco RoughRiders (20-6) at San Antonio Missions (9-18)
Friday, May 6 – 7:05 p.m.
Wolff Stadium (San Antonio, TX)
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (San Antonio feed)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 4 of 4 (Riders lead, 3-0)
This season: Game 8 of 32 (Riders lead, 7-0)

042716 Kiner-Falefa, Isiah (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders) 1

Isiah Kiner-Falefa produced his second four-hit game of the season Thursday night in San Antonio

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – SS
  2. Garrett Weber – 3B
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Ryan Cordell – RF
  5. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  6. Zach Cone – LF
  7. Joe Jackson – DH
  8. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  9. Kellin Deglan – C

RHP Connor Sadzeck (3-0, 2.93 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Thursday at San Antonio (W, 11-4)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:
Unloading on the Missions for a season-high 11 runs, the RoughRiders captured a series win with an 11-4 victory…Frisco led 9-0 before San Antonio put together a four-run sixth inning…The Riders scored in seven different innings, including a five-run sixth inning…RONALD GUZMAN and PRESTON BECK homered late, both solo shots…ISIAH KINER-FALEFA put together a four-hit game…The bullpen worked two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, as JOSE LECLERC (2.0 IP) and JOSE VALDESPINA (2.0 IP) combined to retire the final 12 batters of the contest.

ON A MISSION:
With the win last night, the RoughRiders are 7-0 against San Antonio this season and have won their last ten games against the Missions, dating back to last season. The RoughRiders have dominated the season-series thus far, outscoring the Missions by 2.6 runs per game, hitting .299 to San Antonio’s .226. The Riders are out-homering the Missions 8-4 and have 27 extra-base hits to San Antonio’s 15. The Missions have the edge in one category, however: stolen bases, where they lead 7 to 1.

RIDING INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS:
At 20-6, the RoughRiders have the best 26-game start in team history, besting the 2008 squad. The 2008 RoughRiders, 19-7 through 26 games, finished with an 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series.

CONDOR FLYING HIGH:
Ronald “Condor” Guzman is tearing it up of late. Riding a current eight-game hit streak in which he is slashing .467/.529/.867, Guzman has a pair of homers and nine RBI during the streak. His 1.396 OPS is fifth in Double-A baseball since the start of the hit streak on April 27.

GOING STREAKING:
Cordell has not only been off to a great start, but he’s been producing consistently for Frisco early in 2016. Although his 17-game hitting streak came to an end after going 0-for-3 Monday, he continued his season-long on-base streak to 25 games last night with a single in the fifth inning. Dating back to the final three games of 2015, he has reached base in 28 straight contests.

“ONE”-DERFUL IN CLOSE GAMES:
Despite leading the Texas League in run differential (+47), Frisco has played in seven one-run contests, winning five, over the last 12 games. The Riders have a 6-3 record in games decided by one run this year and are 3-0 in games decided by two runs, including the win Wednesday.

FIRST FRAME FUN:
After scoring just one first-inning run in the first 11 games, the Riders have outscored opponents, 22-8, in the last 15 first innings, scoring at least one run in 11 of those 15 games. Frisco has scored at least one first-inning run in five of seven games against San Antonio this year.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER:
Part of the key for the Riders historic start to the season has been the strong bullpen, protecting leads late in games. The bullpen holds an ERA of just 2.46 through the first 26 games and has wiggled out of numerous late-game jams. MATT BUSHhas five saves, ADAM PARKS has three, and the team is 9-for-10 in save situations.

CRANKING UP CROOKED NUMBERS:
Early in the season, the RoughRiders have shown an ability to not only score in bunches but keep opponents from doing the same. The RoughRiders have tallied 11 innings of four or more runs (five four-run innings, four five-run frames and a six-spot). Meanwhile, the Riders have only allowed seven innings of more than two runs.

SEPARATION IN THE SIXTH:
The RoughRiders have found immense success, both at the plate and on the mound, in the sixth inning this season. Frisco has outscored opponents, 32-13, in the sixth frame through 26 games. The Riders struck for their biggest inning of the year with a six-run sixth on April 14 vs. Northwest Arkansas and outscored the Missions 5-4 last night in the sixth.

RANGER DANGER:
The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate off to a hot start. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 72-35 (.673), which is the second-best winning percentage among all minor-league systems. Class A-Advanced High Desert enters the day at 19-9, while Class-A Hickory is 18-9, and Triple-A Round Rock is 15-11. Round Rock was recently ranked the fifth-best Minor League team (any level) by MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

OPPOSING STARTER:
Venezuelan-born Luis Diaz makes his sixth start of the year today for San Antonio, with a 2-2 record and a 5.72 ERA…The former Red Sox farmhand was granted his free agency this past offseason and signed with the Padres with an invite to MLB Spring Training…In his six years in the Red Sox system, Diaz made his way up to Double-A Portland, won Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Month in August/September of 2011 with Lowell, and South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week June 24-30, 2013 with Greenville…Throwing from a high 3/4 slot, Diaz throws a fastball in the low to mid 90s, a curveball (72-75), and changeup (78-80).

Saddle Up: Riders at San Antonio (5/5/16)

GAME #26
Frisco RoughRiders (19-6) at San Antonio Missions (9-17)
Thursday, May 5 – 7:05 p.m.
Wolff Stadium (San Antonio, TX)
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (San Antonio feed)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 3 of 4 (Riders lead, 2-0)
This season: Game 7 of 32 (Riders lead, 6-0)

041416 Lopez, Frank (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders)

Lefty Frank Lopez gets the start for the Riders tonight in San Antonio

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – SS
  2. Garrett Weber – 2B
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Ryan Cordell – DH
  5. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  6. Alex Burg – C
  7. Zach Cone – LF
  8. Preston Beck – RF
  9. Luis Mendez – 3B

LHP Frank Lopez (2-0, 3.25 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Tuesday at San Antonio (W, 8-6)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:
In come-from-behind fashion, the RoughRiders toppled the Missions 8-6 on Wednesday night…Down 6-3 after five innings, Frisco scored a pair of runs in the sixth and three runs in the eighth to move ahead for good…ZACH CONE drove in a pair of runs, and JUAN GRULLON earned the win, firing three innings of one-run ball in relief..RYNE SLACK and MATT BUSHclosed things out with perfect eighth and ninth innings respectively.

ON A MISSION:
With the win last night, the RoughRiders are 6-0 against San Antonio this season and have won their last nine games against the Missions, dating back to last season. The RoughRiders have dominated the season-series thus far, outscoring the Missions by 1.8 runs per game, hitting .286 to San Antonio’s .231. The Riders are outhomering the Missions 6-3 and have 19 extra-base hits to San Antonio’s 12. The Missions have the edge in one cateogory, however: stolen bases, where they lead 7 to 1.

COMEBACK KIDS:
Coming from behind again on Wednesday for a victory, the RoughRiders now have nine comeback wins of their 19 this season. Five of the last eight Riders wins have come when the team trailed at one point, including three straight April 28-30.

RIDING INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS:
At 19-6, the RoughRiders have the best 25-game start in team history, besting the 2008 squad. The 2008 RoughRiders, 18-7 through 25 games, finished with an 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series.

‘DELL-IGHTFUL START:
RYAN CORDELL has been on a roll early in the season, currently in the top five of eight major statistical categories in the Texas League, including batting avergae (5th, .341), slugging (3rd, .659), RBI (2nd,24), doubles (2nd, 9), runs (2nd, 22), and extra-base hits (2nd, 16). He’s already tied or surpassed many of his stats with Frisco from last year, when he hit .217 with five doubles, five home runs, and 18 RBI in 56 games. Cordell was rewarded with Texas League Player of the Month honors Monday, after winning Player of the Week last Monday. The 24-year-old hit .363 in April with five home runs (two grand slams) and 22 RBI.

GOING STREAKING:
Cordell has not only been off to a great start, but he’s been producing consistently for Frisco early in 2016. Although his 17-game hitting streak came to an end after going 0-for-3 Monday, he contimued his season-long on-base streak to 24 games last night with a single in the first. Dating back to the final three games of 2015, he has reached base in 27 straight contests.

“ONE”-DERFUL IN CLOSE GAMES:
Despite leading the Texas League in run differential (+40), Frisco has played in seven one-run contests, winning five, over the last 11 games. The Riders have a 6-3 record in games decided by one run this year and are 3-0 in games decided by two runs, including the win last night.

FIRST FRAME FUN:
After scoring just one first-inning run in the first 11 games, the Riders have outscored opponents, 21-8, in the last 14 first innings. Frisco has scored at least one first-inning run in four of six games against San Antonio this year.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER:
Part of the key for the Riders historic start to the season has been the strong bullpen, protecting leads late in games. The bullpen holds an ERA of just 2.57 through the first 25 games and has wiggled out of numerous late-game jams. MATT BUSHhas five saves, ADAM PARKS has three, and the team is 9-for-10 in save situations.

CRANKING UP CROOKED NUMBERS:
Early in the season, the RoughRiders have shown an ability to not only score in bunches but keep opponents from doing the same. The RoughRiders have tallied 10 innings of four or more runs (five four-run innings, four five-run frames and a six-spot). Meanwhile, the Riders have only allowed six innings of more than two runs.

SEPARATION IN THE SIXTH:
The RoughRiders have found immense success, both at the plate and on the mound, in the sixth inning this season. Frisco has outscored opponents, 27-9, in the sixth frame through 25 games. The Riders struck for their biggest inning of the year with a six-run sixth on April 14 vs. Northwest Arkansas and outscored the Missions 2-0 last night in the sixth.

RANGER DANGER:
The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate off to a hot start. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 70-32 (.686), which is the best winning percentage among all minor-league systems. Class A-Advanced High Desert enters the day at 19-8, while Class-A Hickory is 17-8, and Triple-A Round Rock is 15-10. Round Rock was recently ranked the fifth-best Minor League team (any level) by MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

OPPOSING STARTER:
Bryce Morrow makes his third Double-A start for the Missions this season, coming out of Extended Spring Training…The right-hander signed out of the Independent Frontier League in 2013 is in his third season in the Padres system…He split last season between Class A-Short Season, Double-A, and Triple-A…In San Antonio last year, the 28-year-old made 13 outings, including 5 starts, going 5-3 with a 4.01 ERA, striking out 34 and walking 16 in 49 1/3 innings of work… He throws with 3/4 arm slot, with a 4-seam fastball, a 2-seam fastball, a slider, and a changeup.

Saddle Up: Riders at San Antonio (5/4/16)

GAME #25
Frisco RoughRiders (18-6) at San Antonio Missions (9-16)
Wednesday, May 4 – 7:05 p.m.
Wolff Stadium (San Antonio, TX)
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (San Antonio feed)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 2 of 4 (Riders lead, 1-0)
This season: Game 6 of 32 (Riders lead, 5-0)

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Alex Burg drove in a pair of runs in Tuesday’s 3-0 win at San Antonio

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – SS
  2. Garrett Weber – 3B
  3. Ryan Cordell – CF
  4. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  5. Alex Burg – DH
  6. Preston Beck – DH
  7. Zach Cone – LF
  8. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  9. Kellin Deglan – C

RHP Reed Garrett (0-0, 3.09 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Tuesday at San Antonio (W, 3-0)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:
The RoughRiders shut out the San Antonio Missions 3-0 on Tuesday night, in a game that was closer than the final score indicated…Frisco plated a run on a bases loaded hit batter in the first inning and did not score again until the ninth…VICTOR PAYANO struck out a career-high 13 batters and walked none in 6 2/3 scoreless innings…ADAM PARKS (1.1 IP) and MATT BUSH (1.0 IP) completed the shutout…All three runs were driven in without a base hit (HBP, SF, and fielder’s choice)…The RoughRiders are now 5-0 against the Missions this season.

RIDING INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS:
At 18-6, the RoughRiders have the best 24-game start in team history, besting the 2008 squad. The 2008 RoughRiders finished with an 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series.

‘DELL-IGHTFUL START:
RYAN CORDELL has been on a roll early in the season, currently leading the Texas League in slugging percentage (.678) and ranking second in doubles (9), RBI (23), and runs (21). In addition, Cordell has more extra-base hits (16) than singles (14). He’s already tied or surpassed many of his stats with Frisco from last year, when he hit .217 with five doubles, five home runs, and 18 RBI in 56 games. Cordell was rewarded with Texas League Player of the Month honors Monday, after winning Player of the Week last Monday. The 24-year-old hit .363 in April with five home runs (two grand slams) and 22 RBI.

GOING STREAKING:
Cordell has not only been off to a great start, but he’s been producing consistently for Frisco early in 2016. Although his 17-game hitting streak came to an end after going 0-for-3 Monday, he drew a walk to increase his league-high on-base streak to 23 games. Dating back to the final three games of 2015, he has reached base in 26 straight contests.

TO THE VICTOR GO THE SPOILS:
VICTOR PAYANO was dominant in yesterday’s start against San Antonio. In 6 2/3 shutout innings, Payano fanned a career-high 13 batters. It was the most strikeouts by a Riders pitcher since Robbie Erlin fanned 14 batters against Corpus Christi on June 26, 2011 and the second-most in team history in a single-game.

YU BETTER BELIEVE IT:
Right-handed pitcher YU DARVISH threw two scoreless innings for the RoughRiders Sunday afternoon, allowing just one walk. It was the right-hander’s first rehabilitation start, as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery last year.

BURG BUSTING BACK ON TO THE SCENE:
Since returning from a short stay with Triple-A Round Rock, ALEX BURG has been on a tear for Frisco. In his first eight games back, Burg is hitting .407 (11-for-27), with three home runs and nine RBI. Burg has hits in seven of eight games since his return.

“ONE”-DERFUL IN CLOSE GAMES:
Despite leading the Texas League in run differential (+38), Frisco has played in seven one-run contests, winning five, over the last 10 games. The Riders have a 6-3 record in games decided by one run this year.

STARTING SERIES STRONG:
With yesterday’s win, the RoughRiders improved to 8-0 in series openers this season. The Riders have won five of their first seven series, including a four-game sweep against San Antonio at Dr Pepper Ballpark last week.

FIRST FRAME FUN:
After scoring just one first-inning run in the first 11 games, the Riders have outscored opponents, 19-6, in the last 13 first innings. Frisco has scored a first-inning run in three of five games against San Antonio this year.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER:
Part of the key for the Riders historic start to the season has been the strong bullpen, protecting leads late in games. The bullpen holds an ERA of just 2.61 through the first 24 games and has wiggled out of numerous late-game jams. MATT BUSHhas four saves, ADAM PARKS has three, and the team is 8-for-9 in save situations.

CRANKING UP CROOKED NUMBERS:
Early in the season, the RoughRiders have shown an ability to not only score in bunches but keep opponents from doing the same. The RoughRiders have tallied 10 innings of four or more runs (five four-run innings, four five-run frames and a six-spot). Meanwhile, the Riders have only allowed five innings of more than two runs.

SEPARATION IN THE SIXTH:
The RoughRiders have found immense success, both at the plate and on the mound, in the sixth inning this season. Frisco has outscored opponents, 25-9, in the sixth frame through 24 games. The Riders struck for their biggest inning of the year with a six-run sixth on April 14 vs. Northwest Arkansas.

RANGER DANGER:
The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate off to a hot start. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 68-31 (.687), which is the best winning percentage among all minor-league systems. Class A-Advanced High Desert enters the day at 19-7, while Class-A Hickory is 17-8, and Triple-A Round Rock is 14-10. 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).

OPPOSING STARTER:
Part of the Zach Greinke trade that sent the right-hander from the Brewers to the Angels (along with SS Jean Segura and P Ariel Pena), Johnny Hellweg is now in his first season with the Padres, signing as a free agent in November…Originally drafted by the Marlins in the 46th round in 2007, Hellweg passed up going pro, playing a year at Florida Community College before signing with the Angels for $150,000 as a 16th-round pick in 2008…The Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Hellweg as the 31st-best prospect in the Angel’s organization in the spring of 2010. He was moved up to #23 in the winter before 2011 spring training…They had Johnny at #6 in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened, and he moved up again in the spring of 2014, when he was rated 4th-best in the Brewers’ farm system…But Hellweg was dropped to #21 in the spring of 2015…Hellweg was named the Brewers’ 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year a day before rejoining the Major League rotation for a start against the Cubs…He also was named the Triple-A Pacific Coast League’s Player of the Year for 2013,only the fourth Nashville Sounds pitcher to win the league’s award and first since R.A. Dickey (2007)…Repertoire: Hellweg has a lively 91-98 mph FASTBALL with sink, an 81-83 mph slurvy-CURVEBALL, as well as a CHANGEUP.

 

Saddle Up: Riders at NW Arkansas (4/7/16)

GAME #1
Frisco RoughRiders (0-0) at Northwest Arkansas Naturals (0-0)
Thursday, April 7 – 6:25 pm
Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, AR)

AUDIO: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
WATCH: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)Photo Apr 05, 1 08 56 PM

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Ryan Cordell – RF
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Alex Burg – DH
  5. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  6. Zach Cone – LF
  7. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Luis Marte – SS

STARTING PITCHER: LHP Frank Lopez (0-0, 0.00)

GAME NOTES (full game notes here)

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 in August. 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).

FRESH START FOR FRISCO: After finishing 2015 with a 60-79 overall record, the RoughRiders are looking to improve this season. Frisco went 29-41 in the first half and 31-38 in the second half last year. The Riders ended the season in third place, 28.5 games behind Corpus Christi, in the final Texas League South division standings.

OPENING DAY HISTORY: The RoughRiders are looking to improve their Opening Day record of 7-6 as the team embarks on their 14th season. They have a 3-5 clip when beginning play on the road, compared to a 4-1 advantage when starting a season at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The Riders have lost their last three Opening Day games, being outscored by a total of 18-5. Five of Frisco’s six Texas League playoff appearances have come in seasons when the Riders won on Opening Day.

RIDING TO THE MAJORS: The RoughRiders have a rich history of sending players from Double-A to the big leagues in a timely manner. Nine of the Riders’ 13 Opening Day starting pitchers have appeared in Major League Baseball. Thirty of the 92 position players from Frisco’s Opening Day starting lineups have also played in MLB. Eleven former Riders made Major League debuts last year, and three were in the Rangers’ starting lineup on Opening Day this year (Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, and Rougned Odor).

FAMILIAR FACES IN FRISCO: The Riders’ initial roster features 17 players who appeared in Frisco last season. Dallas native PRESTON BECK is back home in the Metroplex once again after playing 93 games with the Riders last year. Despite the large number of returning players this year, only five were on the 2015 Opening Day roster. Nobody started last year’s opener on April 9 against Arkansas, but Cody Buckel and Luis Mendez both made appearances.

BRINGING BACK BUSHMATT BUSH is set to make his debut in the Rangers’ organization. Originally a shortstop, the San Diego native was selected No. 1 overall by his hometown Padres in the 2004 MLB Draft. Bush was converted to a pitcher prior to the 2007 season and later spent two years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system. He last played for Double-A Montgomery in 2011. The right-hander dominated in a limited sample size in Spring Training “A” games and hitting 100 mph once on the ballpark radar gun.

SKIPPING INTO THE RECORD BOOKSJOE MIKULIK returns for his second season with the RoughRiders. He is the eighth manager in RoughRiders history and the fourth to return for a second consecutive year. The veteran skipper enters his 18th season as a Minor League manager and has 1,121 all-time wins. 938 of his victories were recorded with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League (Class A), setting both a team and league record.

THE FLYIN’ HAWAIIANISIAH KINER-FALEFA, one of the eight players who did not appear in Frisco last season, is the youngest member of the Riders’ initial roster (21). The Honolulu native had a .296/.356/.341 slash line in 98 games with Hickory and High Desert in 2015.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: April 5, 2013 was the last time the Riders started a season on the road. It was also the only time Frisco has ever opened play in the state of Arkansas. The Riders were shut out 7-0 by the Arkansas Travelers in the first game of a doubleheader after Opening Night was rained out in North Little Rock.

-Ryan

Q&A: Life of a Beat Writer at Spring Training

 

Spring Training games may not count toward the standings, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t stories for reporters to cover. Many members of the media are at Spring Training for most, if not all, of camp. While it’s tough to be away from home for that long, there are also some benefits to covering Spring Training, compared to regular season action. To get more insight on the matter, I caught up with Stefan Stevenson last week in Surprise. He covers the Rangers for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Backfield Misc Photo Mar 22, 10 07 41 AM

Nathan: Can you tell me a little bit about what it’s like as a writer to be out here for spring training?

Stefan: The first time I covered a Spring Training, it was in February of 2014. Jeff Wilson, the lead beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, had a serious back issue, and I had to cover for him. That first couple weeks, it’s intimidating because you don’t know – I was covering TCU at the time, so I wasn’t paying that much attention the Rangers. So you do have to do a crash course in who everybody is. I mean, the simplest little things—because you don’t know anything. So that was tough for a couple weeks. But quickly, you start getting engrossed and know everybody’s name. I’m not just talking about players, but personnel and staff. So once I got my bearings, I really started to enjoy it. Baseball has always been my favorite sport, going back to being a kid. So to actually be able to come out and cover a Spring Training was awesome. And even though it was intimidating, I loved it. And the next year, when I was on the beat, it was so much easier because I knew everybody and had already been on the beat for half of ’14 and loved it. Now, coming out here, I can’t wait to get out here. Not only the weather, the sun, but it’s almost a relaxing atmosphere. And even though you’re doing a job – and it can be stressful sometimes – just the whole ambiance of spring training and the players are relaxed, I love it. By the time March is winding down, everybody’s ready to get home, and I am too, but for that first month, first three or four weeks, it’s my favorite part of the job, actually.

N: What are some of the dos and don’ts on the media side that fans wouldn’t know?

S: Well, I knew this, but it is a big don’t. When you’re in the clubhouse and you’re waiting to talk to a player, when they first get to their locker, it’s always good to give them a chance to get settled instead of bum rushing them. Especially if they’re not dressed yet or if they have their street clothes on, you want to give them a chance …to put their uniform on or if they’re going to take a shower, get out of their uniform and into their clothes…The other don’t that I needed to be reminded of – I knew it – but you’ve got to know who’s pitching that day. Not as much in spring training, but in the regular season, if a pitcher’s throwing that night, a starter, you don’t talk to him.

N: What is different about covering spring training vs. the regular season?

S: The daily beat is about finding out the updates on injuries, any kind of change in the lineup or rotation, asking guys about what happened. Here’s one difference: in spring training, we get reaction and find out stuff that happened in a game or earlier that day. A lot of times during the regular season, with deadlines and time crunches, we have to follow up the next day on something that happened, like an injury or what happened with a pitcher in a certain inning the night before. There’s not a lot of time a lot of times during the regular season with the night games to get all that information. Sometimes, the player’s not available …or you just don’t have enough time and you’ve gotta wait until the next day. So that’s a difference.

N: So that’s just a product of the games being earlier out here?

S: Yeah, yeah. Basically. And the access is a little different. Like when a pitcher is done out here, like a starter, he’ll go four innings and then eventually – this is probably something fans probably don’t realize – in spring training, when a starting pitcher is done with his game and he leaves the field, he’ll go in and take a shower and the PR people for the Rangers will let us know, ‘hey, Colby Lewis is now available in the clubhouse.’ Before the game’s even over – the game’s still in the fifth inning – whoever wants to talk to Colby Lewis can go in there and get his reaction to how he pitched and have that done before the game’s even over. And same with position players. If a starter, like Shin Soo Choo, comes out in the fifth inning and he’s in there, we can talk to him and ask him about his first several at-bats, and get it over with, which is nice. Because… you just want to get quick hit notes and get people’s reaction.

N: So it’s a lot like when you come out to Frisco and cover a rehabber?

S: Yeah, exactly. When a major leaguer is in Frisco, they usually let us talk to them as soon as they’ve gotten situated in the clubhouse and have had a shower… deadlines don’t go away. And even though the internet’s out there and you can always post something, we’re a newspaper, so we’re trying to get it in the next day’s newspaper.

N: How about the schedule? Players and coaches talk about it. It’s a lot different out here. I know it’s tough for the media as well. You guys are used to coming in at two o’clock in the afternoon and suddenly, you’re here at 6 or 7 in the morning.

S: Man, I’m the poster child for that not being a good thing, because I’m a night owl. I don’t go to bed typically til two o’clock in the morning. And out here, the clubhouse a bunch of times has been open at 7:00 am or 7:15 am for 45 minutes…I, thankfully, have a condo two minutes from the complex here which makes it a lot easier…But still, getting up at 6:00 am – even as a little kid, I never got up early. I always slept in…I like the regular season schedule. Although, I’ll say this. Having your nights free, having more of like a 9-5 type job – even though it’s more like 7-5 out here – is nice, but it still makes for long days.

N: What’s the earliest you’ve gone to bed out here?

S: Man, I’ve been in bed like at 8 o’clock with my iPad, watching Netflix and falling asleep by 8:30. That is ideal, man. If I could do that, that’d be awesome. The only time I would do that at home is if I was sick. I’ll fall asleep sometimes on the couch, but get in bed that early? No way.

N: What’s one or two of the biggest storylines you’re following as spring training wraps up?

S: The fifth starter position is still totally up in the air. I’m leaning towards AJ Griffin winning it, but he’s still coming off Tommy John [surgery], and is still a question mark. I mean, Jeremy Guthrie I know was a favorite of some, but he did not do well in his last outing. Personally, from the get-go, I thought Chi Chi Gonzalez had the upper hand, but he’s kind of been up and down. Same with Nick Martinez. I mean, it’s still wide open. That, and then the utility infielder/outfielder. There’s guys with different attributes that have had awesome camps. I think Ryan Rua is a lock for the roster. I think Pedro Ciriaco, he’s had an awesome camp. But those two guys have had the best camps of anybody. And then you’ve got guys like Justin Ruggiano, who’s got a proven track record. Drew Stubbs, who’s an awesome defensive player. Hanser Alberto is an A-plus fielder who can play anywhere in the infield and he’s been doing it this spring at third, short, second, first. There’s some tough decisions to be made, and I know that’s how Jeff Bannister would prefer it. But I really don’t know. There’s like three of four positions on the bench, the fourth outfielder, that it could go either way.

N: What are you most looking forward to about getting back home?

S: Sleeping in my own bed, seeing my two cats, my wife, obviously. And just getting back to my nighttime routine. Fans probably don’t know, but the beat writers typically get to the ballpark in Arlington around 2:30/3:00 every day for a 7:00 game. That’s when our day starts. It’s 2:30 til basically 11:30/midnight, and that’s more of my style… It’s fun when the games start counting, too. When everything’s more serious and there’s something specific to write about that means something, because a lot of what we’re doing out here is conjecture and projections and predictions so that’s cool when it all means something.

N: Thank you, sir.

S: No problem.

-Nathan

Baseball term of the day: gateway – Syn. of first base. It is so called because first base is the threshold to the other bases and the opportunity of scoring.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Spring Training Travels: Guilder Rodriguez

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 1Day 2, Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 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:

Nathan

Baseball term of the day: zob – a weak person; a fool.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Spring Training Travels Day 3: A Sitdown with the Great Tepid Participation

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.

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?

N: And the designated hitter on Opening Day? 

T: Me?

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!

T: Anytime!

You can follow TepidP on Twitter and in longer, equally eloquent form, over at Lone Star Ball.

– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: bite – the sharp downward break, late or fast, of a curveball or slider.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Spring Training Travels Day 1: And We’re Off!

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This marks the first day of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. All installments can be found here.

The offseason is a blur. It feels like just a few weeks ago that I had the amazing honor of calling a Carolina League Championship with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and now, here I am, four months into a job of my dreams, getting ready to head back to Spring Training.

It’s easy to get romantic about Spring Training–so I am going to indulge myself. The high skies, the dry mountain air, the popping of mitts, the cracking of bats, the buzzing of the diehard fans, and the crackling of cleats on the concrete walkways all coalesce to make for baseball heaven. Fans have the opportunity to experience the ballpark aromas, the pace of a baseball game, and the sounds of the public address announcer bouncing around the ballpark well before the season truly begins in April. It’s like getting a sneak peek of a blockbuster movie: it’s totally legal–you’re even invited. Yet it feels like somehow, despite being a John Smith or a Jane Doe, that you get to pull the curtain back in a way that can make you feel like you have special insider access.

With-a-doubt, this was and still is true for me (now, I am just fortunate enough to have a little more access). Even before I ever went, Spring Training was stuff of legends. My baseball-loving grandfather got in the habit of taking grandchildren out to Rangers Spring Training (then in Port Charlotte), and I looked forward to the chance for years. My older cousins came back with stories of meeting our heroes, of watching them up close, and of spending time in a baseball lover’s Mecca.

Then, grandpa got older, didn’t feel up for making the trip, and my excursion to the Sunshine State never happened.

Ten years later, I made it (this time to Arizona), and it was magical. A buddy of mine and I drove from LA to Goodyear to watch the Rangers and Padres…and drove back all in the same day. That’s how badly we wanted to go. That day, Josh Hamilton hit his first Rangers homer, a grand slam in a Rangers blowout.

Now that is one serious group of hitters

Now that is one serious group of hitters (March 2014)

I was hooked. I made it out to Spring Training each out of the next two years while in college.

Then I started working in baseball. Schedules made things tough, but I did make it back my first year in Myrtle Beach back in 2014. Lo and behold, one of the Rangers broadcasters was sick, and I was asked to fill in on the radio side with Matt Hicks. Cue terror and utmost excitement.

The point is not to show off that I had the chance to call a big league Spring Training game (don’t worry I did plenty of that back then). The point, rather, is that Spring Training is Magic Kingdom for me: The Most Magical Place on Earth.

The point, is that today it begins. In a week there will be tons of great stories to tell, and we cannot wait to tell them to you. Over the next six days we will be posting here on the Riders Insider Blog and on Riders social media channels, including our BRAND NEW, “Riders Media” twitter account, which will be more focused on providing in-depth content on Riders players, statistics, and insights from me, Steve Goldberg, and Ryan Rouillard on a daily basis.

So, until tomorrow…when we will be out in baseball’s favorite desert…so long!

– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: bleeder – a batted ball that, as the result of an erratic roll, pop, bad bounce, or overall slowness, becomes a base hit. 

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

 

Meet the Press: 2016 Edition

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.


Steve Goldberg

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.

SteveGoldbergPhoto

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.


Ryan Rouillard

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.

2015

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.


Nathan Barnett

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.

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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!

Until then…

Nathan

Baseball term of the day: hamfatter – a vociferous baseball fan

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

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