Entries Tagged as 'Minor Leagues'

Cubs affiliate pokes fun at LeBron

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

This Thursday, the Peoria Chiefs who are a Cubs’ single-A affiliate, will be holding a LeBron James NBA Championship Replica Giveaway night.  “Replica Rings” (in other words, air), will be given out to fans.

The Chiefs said they are "looking into" whether they can skip the fourth inning to poke fun at James, who scored just 18 points during the fourth quarter in six NBA Finals games.

"We aren’t sure if the league will allow it," Peoria president Rocky Vonachen said in a statement. "But if LeBron doesn’t need to show up for the fourth, maybe we won’t either."

All in good fun, I guess. Anything to take their mind off their parent organization.

Ryne Sandberg is a pig

No, really, he is.  An IronPig.  Us Cub fans probably have lost track of Ryno but he’s quite busy trying to get used to his new setting and job as manager of the Phillies Triple-A Lehigh Valley (PA) IronPigs. 

The local Lehigh Valley Live media outlet did a quick 5 question interview with Sandberg during late preseason. Ryno talks about his playing days, his aspirations and plans for the IronPigs

Good info on the Three-I League

Charles Braxton points out in a TBZ comment that there is a nice summary  on the Three-I League in Baseball Reference’s Bullpen section. 

tileagueYou usually don’t find a lot of documentation on the now defunct Midwest-based league anymore so I’m happy to see this.  Indeed, you’ll find standings and league leaders for each year of its sixty-year history at the BR Bullpen. 

If you browse the page, baseball historians will most likely find names they recognize.  Hank Majeski, Joe Vosmik, Tony Kubek, Mudcat Grant,.. and some pitcher named Warren Spahn.

And only in the early-to-mid 1900s Midwest would have team names like the Peoria Tractors, Moline Ploughboys and Bloomington Bloomers.

thanks for passing this on, Charles!  A real gem!

Friday night at Victory Field

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I went to the Triple-A Indianapolis-Toledo game Friday night.  Admittedly, the main reason was to see my friend and former Illini Shawn Roof play.  It’s the first time he’s played close to this area so I couldn’t pass up the chance. 

But the idea of going to Indianapolis’ Victory Field thrilled me too.  It’s been a while.  The last time I went the Indians were the Brewers’ farm team.  Victory Field is one of nicest Triple-A minor league parks I’ve been to.  I’m not the only one to think so… Baseball America named it Best Minor League BallPark in America.

The banners along the runway of former Indian player like you see above (I know a couple readers who might appreciate my choice of Minnie Minoso) were a nice touch and very well designed. 

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Look out!  Indian mascot Rowdie looks angry.

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I thought the scoreboard designed like a Facebook page was kinda hokey but I bet it goes over pretty well. 

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Not a particularly great photo but it does show how many people show up at games.  Over 12,000 were at Friday’s event. 

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No one left after the last out.  It was Fireworks night. 

The Mud Hens won 8-2.  Shawn Roof helped the cause by going 1 for 3, scoring a run. 

The Corn Crib hosts Illini night Aug. 26

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As we were passing by going north of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, I got took this photo of the home of the Normal Cornbelters. 

The Cornbelters who are in the independent Frontier League, have one of the more original names for a ballpark, in my opinion.  It’s called “The Corn Crib”. 

My city-dwelling friends are snickering already.  I know it.  But as a farm kid who had a “corn crib” not too far away from the house, I think it’s pretty cool. 

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The Corn Crib is officially sponsored by the Illinois Corn Farmers.  In this day and age of sports sponsors that consist of wireless phone companies, soda drinks manufacturers, and insurance companies, that’s a little refreshing in my opinion.  Note the tractors out front of the stadium. 

For those University of Illinois sports fans, the Cornbelters have declared August 26th, “Illini Night” and have even convinced men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber to come down and throw out the first pitch.  There’s added significance since the Cornbelters will be playing a team in the vicinity of Weber’s former team, the Southern Illinois Miners.  More info at the Normal Cornbelters website.

Touch home plate before getting into a fight, dude

Here’s a hint… talk smack AFTER you round the bases. 

The word is, he actually did get around to home plate.  Here’s the write-up from Huff Po

Fun with Minor League names

Bus Leagues Baseball compiles a list of the best names in minor league baseball

I just noticed Seth Schwindenhammer was on the list.  Red Sox farmhand Schwindenhammer was drafted by the Illini.  I remember his name because when I wrote about him, it was just plain easier to copy and paste his name than to type it out. 

Tale of Two (Baseball) Twitterers

 

Lately, I’ve switched to Twitter as one of my main feed of baseball news.  Most sports news sources have a Twitter feed and Twitter while chaotic, is more convenient than Google Reader.

Anyway, here are two people of interest I’ve found on Twitter that readers here might also find useful, relevant or fun.  I wouldn’t put these two under the category of hard news but they do make the day more interesting.

@michael_schlact

479373 How many of you have heard of minor leaguer Michael Schlact?  Yeah, me either till today.

But apparently, 1,089 other people have heard of him.  That’s how many people are following Schlact on Twitter.  Schlact has utilized the medium of Twitter to connect with his fans and quite frankly, to make new ones. 

Schlact is a pitcher in the Texas organization (he ended up at the AA level last year).  He’s a devout Christian and obviously familiar with new technology.  Some athletes create online personas on Twitter or Facebook only to see them die on the vine or have others ghost-write for them.  Schlact, however, is a pro at not just using social networking tools like Twitter but knowing how to interact with fans. 

Schlact has been answering all kinds of questions from fans (he prefers creamy peanut butter and his baseball pitch-back was his favorite childhood toy).  But he also asks questions of his Twitter fans too. 

No doubt, it takes more than popularity and fan recognition to make it to the bigs.  He’ll have to learn to pitch a mean curve ball too (if you’re interested here a decent scouting report from a year and half ago).  But I have to like the way this kid is getting to know his fans because if and when he makes it to the majors, he’ll have a hell of a following. 

 

@si_vault

I’m a sucker for old sports photos, especially baseball photos.  And Andy Gray seems to be the go-to guy for some really good ones.  According to Gray, he runs the Sports Illustrated Vault.  Andy’s mission on Twitter is to provide us with links to “old photos of athletes”. 

I’m enjoying them as he posts them.  There are some wonderful ones like this one of Mike Schmidt wearing some weird kind of wig.

So follow Andy if you want more of that. 

And yeah, if you want, you can follow me @BaseballZealot.

Grant Desme becoming a man of the cloth

desmeOakland A’s prospect Grant Desme is going from Arizona Fall League MVP  to the next Billy Sunday. He’s giving up the church of baseball for the priesthood.

Desme had a breakout year in 2009.  Playing for the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars and California League’s Stockton Ports, he hit 31 homeruns, stole 40 bases to go along with his .288 batting average.

Last fall, the A’s had good words to say about Desme potential:

“If he keeps putting up these kinds of numbers, it’d be hard not to bring him in [to Spring Training],” Keith Lieppman, A’s director of player development, told MLB.com in October. “There’s a lot of good things happening with him right now. At this stage, he looks like the complete package.”

Now A’s GM Billy Beane has nothing to do but to accept the inevitable.  “We respect Grant’s decision and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors,” he grumbled.

According to the Huffington Post, Desme is quoted in 2007 as saying, “above all, my faith comes first and I dedicate myself to church.”  Now, we’re seeing just how dedicated he really is.  Desme will plan to enter a Catholic seminary and and says it will be a 10-year process and likens it to  “re-entering the minor leagues.”

Oakland can tell themselves that they probably get along without Grant Desme (the California League is a hitters league, right?).  Most likely, Desme would have been trade bait anyway.

Regardless, he would have been a player to watch.  It wasn’t an easy decision for Desme to make, I’m sure.

Second coming of Mr Cub?

The Southern (IL) reports on a trade in the Frontier League whose name seems to ernie_banks_washington_wild_330hearken back to older Cub days (emphasis mine):

When Southern Illinois Miners’ manager Mike Pinto traded for the Gateway Grizzlies’ Stephen Holdren last July, he called it one of the biggest trades in Frontier League history.

Pinto said the deal he finalized Monday, sending Holdren to the River City Rascals in exchange for power-hitting first baseman Ernie Banks, is even bigger.

Apparently, Banks, a former Marlins draft pick, is more than just a namesake to the former Cub.  This minor league firstbaseman really can hit, too.  Last year he hit .353 for the River City Rascals, good for 3rd in the Frontier League.  He also placed 5th with 24 homeruns (in just 77 games no less). 

Banks will be looking at a new team this coming year in the independent league based in the Midwest.  The Southern Illinois Miners are based in Carbondale, Illinois