February 2011

This is what it was about…

Sorry for the delay in announcing this.  There was…a delay.  Click the link for the details…or just watch the video below to learn about the Super Second Chance Deal!

Stay tuned

The ticket office is working on something.  Full details (and maybe a video) will be available after the office staff meeting today. UPDATE: First thing tomorrow morning. There was a hitch that caused a delay that has postponed the announcement until Wednesday.  It’s not my fault.

Let’s just say that this picture..:


…has a little something to do with it.

A prospect perspective

One of the things that Seattle Times writer Larry Stone does at this time of the year is head to Florida to catch up with former Mariners.

In this blog post, he found former Timber Rattlers pitcher Ryan Feierabend, who was a Midwest League All-Star in 2004.  Feierabend was the winning pitcher for the West in that game.  He is now with the Philadelphia Phillies.

I had a nice chat in the morning with Feierabend, who is trying to resurrect his once-promising career, derailed in Seattle by Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago. On the surface, the Phillies’ organization seems an odd place to land — it’s not like there are many openings in the rotation — but he had an advocate in the Phillies’ system in Benny Looper, the former Mariner farm director, and thought it was a great place to learn from the best.

“Seattle let me go in early November, and I ended up signing with Philly a week or two later,” Feierabend said. “Things fell into place where it’s the right organization, not necessarily getting to the big leagues, but working with the pitching staff here. There were other opportunities available where I might have had a better chance to pitch in the big leagues, which you want to, but you want it to be the right circumstances. This year, I feel I need to get more innings under my belt. If I do happen to get to the big leagues, great; if not, I’ll throw my innings, as many as I can, if I’m a starter. And if I’m a reliever, show them what I’ve got.”

Feierabend, 25, pitched in parts of three seasons with the Mariners (2006, ’07 and ’08), and though he had far more downs than ups (he was 2-11 with a 7.22 ERA in 19 starts), the Mariners always liked his potential. But after last year’s 5-8, 5.14 mark during stops at A, AA and AAA, they took him off their 40-man roster, making him a free agent.

Stone asked Feierabend his thoughts on some current Mariners prospects.  But, the main focus – for my purpose – is on former Rattler Michael Pineda.

Pineda’s a specimen. I can’t say enough good things about him. I think this year it’s going to be one of those years, a confidence builder. He goes into spring training, and as long as he does well in spring, I think the sky’s the limit for him. I think if he goes down and gets knocked around and gets his head down, they might send him back to Triple-A, but as long as he goes in with his head held high, like, ‘This is my job as a starter this year,’ he’ll do fine for them.”

I asked him if there was any comparison to a young Felix Hernandez, whom Feierabend watched as he shot through the system.

“I think there is. Pineda is obviously a lot bigger than Felix was. They both have unbelievable, unbelievable stuff. I think maturity wise, Felix is a little more mature. Not to take anything away from Pineda at all. I just think Felix was a little more mature for his age. Once Pineda gets his confidence, he’s going to be right there with Felix.

That is a heady comparison.

Prospect Madness

Bernie’s Crew has a neat little interactive way to learn about and vote for the prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League system.  I will let Jim tell you what it is all about:

I was watching the Wisconsin Badger basketball team pull out a gritty victory against the suddenly difficult Iowa Hawkeyes on Wednesday evening, when the thought struck me. Why not do a March Madness type of competition between the prospects and see which prospect is the Bernie’s Crew favorite?

The goal is to have a new head-to-head battle every day, and the winner will be decided by which prospect received the most votes from you folks, the readers. The favorite prospect will move on to the next round and will obviously keep progressing until they do not receive the most votes.

And along the way, I will provide a scouting report and background information on each of the Top 65 Prospects as the tournament progresses.

You may see the brackets for the tournament at the link up top.

Today’s matchups are:

#1 Kyle Heckathorn v. #16 Hitaniel Arias

EDIT: The Heckathorn v. Arias matchup was yesterday.  Heckathtorn has moved on to the next round.

#8 Eric Arnett v. #9 Cody Hawn

Click those votes to see the scouting reports and to vote for the player you want to see move on to the next round.

Strat-O-Matic turns 50!

Did you know that Strat-O-Matic Baseball turns 50 this year?  The New York Times has the story of a Strat-O-Matic convention.

On July 15, 1990, Brett Carow, then 10 years old, and his father were killing time at a mall, looking at board games, when Brett’s father suggested he might enjoy Strat-O-Matic Baseball, the popular dice-and-cards game. That proved a serious understatement.

That day, Brett, using the Milwaukee Brewers (his favorite team), lost by 4-1 to his father, who had chosen the World Series champion Oakland Athletics. In an uncanny demonstration of Strat-O-Matic’s realism, the actual Brewers lost to the actual A’s by the same score that day. The youngster was hooked.

Carow, now a 31-year-old account representative with Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Wisconsin, has played nearly 11,000 games since, averaging 1.44 games a day, solo or with a friend.

Oh, and the domination of the state of Wisconsin continues!

The passion and dedication of players like Carow were the heart of a celebration of Strat-O-Matic’s 50th anniversary in Midtown Manhattan on Saturday. The company’s 75-year-old founder, Hal Richman, declared Carow the game’s Ultimate Fanatic.

Carow, who won a new set of Strat-O-Matic cards every year for life, beat out devotees like Jeff Fleischman of Colorado, who has played in the same league for 40 years, and the runner-up, Larry Fryer of Maryland, whose collection of Strat-O-Matic games is so extensive that the company had to borrow from it for the historical archives on its Web site.

On, Wisconsin!

“Definitely, after my second wedding, this is the most exciting day in my life,” Carow said. “This justifies, in my head, all those hours I spent playing over summer vacation, when my family would wonder what I was doing.”

I’d make fun of that, but there is something that is so earnest about it that I just can’t bring myself to type anything snarky. Especially when your read something like this later in the article:

The game’s hold on its followers was apparent after a panel called “How Strat-O Has Influenced Your Career,” which included Richman. When the floor was opened for questions, one man after another lined up, but few had anything to ask. Instead, they simply wanted to thank Richman for creating the game. One man said it “saved my life” when he was looking for escape from an abusive, alcoholic father.

Richman, who usually shuns publicity and who had a tempestuous relationship with his own father, was clearly moved.

“I was tearing up at some points,” he said. “Strat-O-Matic isn’t a religious experience for these people, but it does have tremendous meaning in their lives.”

Meet the new Kernels Manager; See the upgrades at the CR Gazette

First, WOW…the Cedar Rapids Gazette really spruced things up in their sports section. Kernels beat writer sat down in the studio and talked with the Brett Del Chiaro new manager of the Angels Midwest League affiliate.  You have to click this link because there does not appear to be a code to embed the video.

Learning the hard way

The Toronto Sun catches up with former Rattler Brett Lawrie.

Lawrie arrived from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Shaun Marcum trade, bringing with him some huge potential along with some baggage that he wants to put behind him.

There is, for example, the matter of some ill-advised Facebook pictures that surfaced after the trade, a faux pas he’s ready to own.

“That was a while ago and I take full responsibility for it,” the B.C. native said on Friday. “It’s just part of growing up and it was time for me to grow up a little bit.”

There was also some suggestion that Lawrie balked when the Brewers wanted to send him to the Arizona Fall League, a no-no for a kid less than two years into his career.

“When things aren’t going right, you can get frustrated and I learned that last year,” said Lawrie, not referring to that particular incident but to professional life in general.

“I had some frustrations. I had my good times and my bad times. It’s about trying to keep on that even plane, so that’s what I’m working on going forward — just keeping my head on straight.”

Lawrie is sounding like a kid trying to make the leap into adulthood. He’s already impressed by his new surroundings.

“I feel like I’ve already been welcomed here,” he said. “It seems like a good group of guys. I’m really excited to be here.

“The trade was a very good thing for me. I want the best opportunity for me to play major league baseball. Thankfully, I get to be back home. It’s good for me to get into a new organization and it’s kind of like a fresh start for me. I don’t think Milwaukee was the best fit for me. I wish them luck going forward but I’m happy to be here.”

Finals from Australia

Perth forced a decisive third game in the Championship Series in Australia against Adelaide – former Rattler Jamie McOwen is with Adelaide – with a win on February 12.

Perth 9
Adelaide 2

Jamie McOwen (’07): 0-for-4, RBI

Then, Perth won the game on February 13 to win the Championship series.

Adelaide 1
Perth 7

McOwen: 1-for-4

McOwen ended the season with a .340/.412/.613 line.  He also collected 11 homers and 30 RBI in 37 games.

Now he will have a few weeks to relax and then, it’s time to see where he goes in the Seattle organization.

A few notes

Wow.  It’s really quiet as far as baseball news goes…

In Australia the ABL Championship Series began and Adelaide beat Perth 4-3.

Former Rattlers outfielder Jamie McOwen (’07) has been playing for Adelaide all season and he went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the win over Perth.

Have you seen Collector’s Corner this week? Jay does a nice job on the best and worst autographs in recent Timber Rattlers history.  It is a feature that Ben Hill calls a “Unique topic and well done”.

And great news for the Radio part of this Rattler Radio blog.  The Timber Rattlers and WNAM have signed an extension that continues their partnership through the 2016 season.

Why don’t you head over to the facebook pages for the Rattlers and WNAM and become fans…if you aren’t already?

Lastly, here is your Flashback Friday supplement.  Head over to digitalballparks.com and see Goodland Field as it was and as it is.  Just click through to see all of the pictures of the home of the Foxes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday Program post (1992)

This would be the final original Paul Birling cover.  (The 1991 cover would be reused for the 1994 season).  It was also the final cover to feature the Royals patch since this was the final season of the affiliation between the Foxes and Kansas City.

1992cover.jpgThis is a group photo of the Board of Directors for Appleton Baseball, Inc. in 1992:

1992board.jpgGoodland Field diagram:

1992goodlandfield.jpgBonus for the Paging ad!

Here is the mileage chart/footprint for the Midwest League in 1992:

I still haven’t decided if I like the Kenosha Twins logo or if I want to laugh at it derisively.

And here is a stat sheet insert for the Foxes from the ’92 season:

1992insert.jpgPick out the major leaguers! It’s fun!

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