January 2011

The Neverending Story Continues again

Snappy.jpg

Snappers ponder downtown site


Beloit Snappers officials were among those listening intently
Thursday as author and University of Notre Dame Professor Philip Bess
spoke on the value of urban baseball stadiums during a City Center
seminar.

Bess, author of “City Baseball Magic” and a key advisor
in the “Save Fenway Park” movement a few years ago, said the merits of
an urban stadium — whether in a Major League setting in Boston or
Chicago or a minor-league one in Beloit — can’t be overlooked.


His message obviously struck a chord.


“He was invited here because he says if you are interested in a
city center or urban ballpark, there are issues or principles you need
to consider,” said Jeff Adams, Professor of Economics at Beloit College
and member of Beloit 2020. “He gave us a lot of things to think about
in the context of what makes for a great city. I loved his lecture.”


The
seminar by Bess was particularly relevant since Snappers Chairman of
the Board Dennis Conerton revealed the Snappers are now considering a
downtown site for the new stadium they hope to build to replace outdated
Pohlman Field.


Conerton said the site is available on a 20-acre tract of land on the Ironworks campus alongside the Rock River.

“We
went from having no site and no funding to a site in the Gateway
without funding to two sites without funding,” Conerton said. “At least
we have options to evaluate and people are talking.”

I really do want this to be done and in a positive manner for the Snappers.

Conerton said the possibility of a downtown ballpark fosters a number of new questions, not the least of which is funding.

“Funding
is an element of the process we’re going through,” he said. “Is it
better funding potential at this site, the Gateway site, or does it make
any difference? We also have to look at income potential, sponsorship,
naming rights, all kinds of things.


“We’re on a short time frame. We’ve brought in a consultant to analyze both sites and we’ll get an objective opinion.”


Eight Imperatives
of a Downtown Ballpark from Mr. Bess:

1. Think always of ballpark design in the context of urban design.



2. Think always in terms of mixed-use neighborhood rather than entertainment zone or cultural district.

3. Let site as much as program drive the ballpark design — not exclusively, but more.

4. Treat the ballpark as a civic building.

5. Make cars adapt to the culture and physical form of the neightborhood instead of the neighborhood adapting to the cars.

6. Maximize the use of pre-existing on- and off-street parking, and distrubute rather than concentrate any new required parking.

7. Create development opportunities for a variety of activities in the vicinity of the ballpark, including housing and shopping.

8.
Keep the ballpark footprint smaller and more neighborhood-friendly by
locating non-ballpark specific program functions in buildings located
adjacent to rather than within the ballpark. For example, team offices.

It is mentioned that Professor Bess has worked on Fenway Park preservation.  He also worked on designing a downtown site to replace Milwaukee County Stadium, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, and Old Comiskey Park in Chicago.

I will leave the final word to Jeff Vohs, the GM of the Snappers, who brings up a couple of good points regarding a downtown stadium:

“Our surveys have shown that a large percent of our attendance is
from outside Beloit,” he said. “So is our sponsorship. If the park is
downtown, how does that impact our long-term viability? Would people
drive into Beloit to see a game? How would traffic be handled on a
fireworks night downtown? How about parking? Those are all things we
need to consider.”

Rattlers Alumni Report: Games of January 21-23, 2011

Australia:

Saturday:

Brisbane 12 @Adelaide 8

Adelaide:
Jamie McOwen (’07): 4-for-4, 2B, HR, 4RBI

Sydney 4 @Canberra 2 (Game two)

Sydney:
Craig Anderson (’00): 5IP, 9H, 2R, 0BB, 4K

Venezuela:

Friday:

Caracas 8 @Margarita 2

Caracas:
Carlos Maldonado (’99): 3-for-4, 2B, 2RBI

Saturday:

Aragua 5 @Caracas 2

Caracas:
C. Maldonado: 0-for-4

Dominican Republic:

Friday:
@Toros 2, Estrellas 1

Toros:
Martin Maldonado (’09): 0-for-3

Saturday:

Toros 11 @Estrellas 2

Toros:
M. Maldonado (’09): 0-for-3, RUN

Sunday:

@Toros 4, Estrellas 2

Toros:
M. Maldonado (’09): 0-for-2, RUN, RBI

On Deck Details

Adam McCalvy has the details on the Brewers On Deck Event that is set for January 30 at the Frontier Airlines Arena in Milwaukee in this post at Brew Beat.

The most important parts of the program – from a former Timber Rattlers point of view – are these:

2:30 p.m. -€“ 3:00 p.m. — Rising Stars Q&A
Brewers prospects Kentrail Davis, Eric Farris, Scooter Gennett, Caleb Gindl, Kyle Heckathorn, Erik Komatsu, Hunter Morris, Cory Scarpetta and Logan Schafer will take questions from fans regarding the future of the organization on the field.

3:30 p.m. -€“ 4:00 p.m. –€“ Brewers Face Off
It’€™s the Brewers €ś”family”€ť of current stars €”Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum against the Brewers “€śfamily”ť of future stars €”Eric Farris, Kyle Heckathorn, Erik Komatsu and Logan Schafer in what will certainly turn out to be a “€śfeud.”ť  Brewers television voice Brian Anderson will host this classic game show.

So get down there and have fun!

Marketability

This post over at Don Walker’s Business of Sports Blog at the JSOnline makes a note about the marketability of a couple of Green Bay Packers.

In a recent post, I reported that Rodgers’ national profile is higher than ever before, though it still trails some of the big guns in the National Football League such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

That information comes courtesy of the Nielsen/E-Poll N-Score, which evaluates the appeal, awareness and endorsement potential of more than 1,000 sports figures. The N-Score is based on weekly surveys of people ages 13 and above.

Rodgers’ N-Score nationally is 14, which is two points higher than the median score for all players in the National Football League. Manning has an N-Score of 262. Manning leads all quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is second with an N-Score of 131.

Recently, Nielsen/E-Poll did a local market survey in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. And within that market, Rodgers’ N-Score was 569.

But, look who scored higher…

“That honor goes to Donald Driver with an N-Score of 647,” Parker said in an e-mail. And that number puts Driver in the top 1% of all local market sports personalities, he said.

Why Driver? Well, if you’re paying attention, Driver has endorsement and marketing deals with major clients in Wisconsin, including McDonald’s, Time Warner Cable and more.

Also, there’s this little charity softball game coming up on June 5 at Time Warner Cable Field. You may see Driver and the offense take on the defense in the annual game.  Tickets available right here.

Rattlers Alumni Report: Games of January 20, 2011

Australia:

@Adelaide 12, Brisbane 0

Adelaide:
Jamie McOwen (’07): 2-for-3, 2 RUNS< RBI, HR #8

Venezuela:

@Margarita 9, Caracas 5

Caracas:
Carlos Maldonado (’99): 1-for-3, RBI

Dominican Republic:

Toros 3 @Estrellas 1

Toros:
Martin Maldonado (’09): 2-for-3

Thursday Program post (1990)

As mentioned last week, here is a look at the 1990 Program.  Notice that this Paul Birling cover has made the Royals patch on the arm of the Foxes jersey a bit more noticeable:

90Cover.jpgI love the detail of the ball being loose so there is no doubt that the Foxes runner is safe.  Do you see the ball?  Down in the right corner of the cover near the left hand of the runner.  There is also just enough detail in the crowd to imply a good crowd at Goodland Field.

The schedule page of the 1990 program:
90Schedule.jpg
Mike’s Towne & Country Market is back again.

Click on that image to see some of the scheduling quirks of minor league baseball in 1990.  For example:

Opening Day for the Foxes was in Wausau on April 6.  The Home Opener was on April 7 against Wausau. 

The first scheduled off day of the 1990 season was on Sunday, May 13.  The next scheduled off day was June 25, which was the day after the first half ended.

Two game series used to drive me up the wall.  But, apparently they used to be the norm in the Midwest League.

And check out this stretch beginning Saturday, July 7:

SAT, 7/7: v. Waterloo
SUN, 7/8: @ Waterloo
MON, 7/9: @ Wausau
TUE, 7/10: OFF Day*
WED, 7/11: @ Waterloo
THU, 7/12: @ Waterloo

Google map that travel.  Keep in mind that the Foxes did not stay overnight when they played at Wausau.  So, the travel would be Appleton to Waterloo back to Appleton up to Wausau back to Appleton and back down to Waterloo.

*-This was the first scheduled off day of the second half.  The next (and last) scheduled off day of the second half would be Sunday, August 5

Rattlers Alumni Report: Games of January 19, 2011

Australia:

Adelaide 9 @Brisbane 6 (10) (Game one)

Adelaide:
Jamie McOwen (’07): 0-for-6

@Adelaide 6, Brisbane 5 (10) (Game two)

Adelaide:
McOwen: 1-for-4, 2 RBI

Venezuela:

@Caracas 9, Zulia 0

Caracas:
Carlos Maldonado (’99): 0-for-1

Dominican Republic:

@Toros 5, Estrellas 3

Toros:
Martin Maldonado (’09): 2-for-3

Its exciting for the city and for Matt

That is a quote from Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin about new Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson and it was taken from this Dean VanderPas story in today’s Appleton-Post Crescent.

Erickson gave a brief talk that hit all the high points at the Red Smith Banquet last night.  It was warmly received and gave a little bump to the excitement that the Fox Cities has for the upcoming Rattlers season.

After being introduced, he received an impressive ovation from the 1,400 in attendance.

“This is a great place to come to work and a great place to play the game,” he said from the podium.

Erickson, 35, was the Rattlers hitting coach for the past two seasons. As the first person with local ties to manage the Fox Cities’ Midwest League team since Marion native Bert Thiel headed the Appleton Foxes in the 1970s, he understands that he will have to show his skills when the honeymoon is over.

He’s confident that he can do the job just like he has in all of his sports endeavors. It started with a memorable three-sport career at Appleton West and continued in baseball at the University of Arkansas and at the professional level. He also impressed Brewers brass as a hitting coach since they opted to promote him.

Matt predicted that the honeymoon will end the first time he gets the tying run thrown out at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lose a game. He was joking…I think.

Go read it all.

In fact go check out all of the Red Smith Banquet coverage at the Post-Crescent today.

There was this story on Ron Dayne.  This one on Jeff Cirillo.  This one on Greg GumbelA notes column with Doug Melvin quotes.  And a photo gallery, too.

If you saved your program from last night’s banquet, look for the Timber Rattlers coupon.  That coupon will get you a ticket to Red Smith Night at Time Warner Cable Field when the Rattlers host the West Michigan Whitecaps on Wednesday, July 13.

Rising Stars

The Brewers are taking a concept from the Reds and putting their own stamp on it.

If you recall the beginning of the 2009 season, the Dayton Dragons hosted the Cincinnati Reds in an exhibition game on April 4.  The Reds played an all-star team of Reds prospects.  The Reds won 9-6.

In 2011, the Brewers will be holding a “Rising Stars” Game at Miller Park.  It will be held on Saturday, April 2 at 3:10pm.  Here is a link to the flyer on the Brewers website.  Tickets are $10 and will be on sale starting January 21 at 10am.

Adam McCalvy has a few details:

Time Warner Cable Sports32 will televise the Rising Stars Game, which is presented by West Bend, the Silver Lining. Triple-A Nashville manager Don Money and Class A Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson will each lead a team — Blue vs. Gold.

The Brewers are making it an interactive event. Prospects will take part in an autograph session during batting practice, and some winning fans will get to sit in the dugout with the teams during various innings of the game.  Kids 16 and under will be able to run the bases afterward.

Each team will wear custom designed jerseys. Following the game, the players will autograph their game jersey for a raffle, with all proceeds benefitting the Brewers Community Foundation.

The roster was not announced, but unofficially, the following are scheduled to appear:  Kyle Heckathorn, Kentrail Davis, Hunter Morris, Scooter Gennett, Cody Scarpetta, and Erik Komatsu.

I am hoping to be down there to serve in one capacity or another…or, who knows, maybe just kick back and watch the…no I can’t even finish that sentence.

Gil Meche retires

Gil Meche was a Timber Rattlers pitcher near the end of the 1997 season and for all of 1998.  He was 19 years old in 1998 and went 8-7 for the Rattlers.  He also struck out 168 batters in 149.2IP.  Here is his baseball card from the 1998 season.

gilmeche.jpg

Meche called it a career yesterday and retired with one year (and $12 million) remaining on his contract with the Kansas City Royals.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times had this blog post up shortly after the news was announced:

Meche said it was his health that led to his decision:

“After a lot of thinking and prioritizing of issues in my life I have decided to retire from baseball. As a competitor my entire life this is the hardest decision that I’ve ever faced, but it’s not fair to me, my family or the Kansas City Royals that I attempt to pitch anymore.”

“I came into this game as a starting pitcher and unfortunately my health, more accurately, my shoulder, has deteriorated to the point where surgery would be the only option and at this stage of my life I would prefer to call it a career rather than to attempt to pitch in relief for the final year of my contract. I can’t thank the Kansas City Royals and their fans enough for my four seasons there and if I have any regret, it’s that we weren’t able to accomplish on the field what the goal was when I signed there.”

The Royals took a lot of heat for the contract they gave Meche, but he was very solid for them his first two years. It wasn’t until his shoulder problems hit in 2009 that he regressed — and manager Trey Hillman didn’t help matters, as this piece chronicles. Meche appeared in just 20 games last year (nine starts) and was 0-5 with a 5.69 ERA. Realistically, they weren’t expecting much from Meche this year, and anything they got would have been a bonus. Many baseball analysts believe the Royals have among the best prospects in baseball and could be on the verge of a turnaround. This financial relief could enable them to augment their youth with some veteran talent.

Jim Oskola of the Post-Crescent had this blog post about the 1997 Timber Rattlers pitching staff:

In 1997, Brian Fuentes and Gil Meche both pitched for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers who along with Dennis Stark and Brian Fitzgerald were at the time thought to be a quartet of pitchers who would eventually play big roles for the Seattle Mariners.

In the low minors, those are the things dream of. Those are the things teammates talk about.

It doesn’t work out that way very often.

Fitzgerald had a cup of coffee with the Mariners in 2002 – his only year to play in the majors.

Stark made his major league debut with the Mariners in 1999, 2001 and 2009. In between he spent three seasons with the Colorado Rockies with his best year in 2002 when he went 11-4 with an ERA of 4.00.

Fuentes has turned into a valuable relief pitcher, debuting with the Mariners in 2001 before spending the next seven years with Colorado, 2009 with the Los Angeles Angels and splitting last season with the Angels and Minnesota Twins. In 2009, he had a career-high 48 saves.

I will note that the 1998 Timber Rattlers roster had the following pitchers make 15 or more starts: Meche, Uber-prospect Ryan Anderson, Joel Pineiro, and Allan Simpson.

That 1998 pitching staff struck out 1,274 opposing batters to set a Midwest League record that still stands today.

At the time, there was a poster of the starters standing on the field that was titled…if I recall correctly…Young Guns. I will see if I can dig that poster (and the Gil Meche mini-bobblehead) from a few seasons ago up for a future post.

Meche and his 168 strikeouts in the 1998 season set a franchise record for K’s in a single season.  He is second on the list now, behind Clint Nageotte’s 187 in 2001.

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