March 2011

Pictures. We’ve got pictures

Here are three pictures taken around 10:10am today.  As always, click for the larger image.

First, here is a shot that shows the new benches in the home dugout:
March 18 001.JPG
Next, the shot from the usual spot.  Compare the picture below with this picture taken during the snowfall the Fox Cities received on March 9 to see how much snow has melted this week:
March 18 003.JPG

Last, a picture taken from above the batting eye in center:

March 18 002.JPG

20 Days, people!  Think warm thoughts!


The healthy option won at West Michigan.  The forces of darkness have made their first breakthrough.  Walking Spaghetti was kneecapped…Meat Salad was tossed…Bologna Lollipop was licked…Meat Man Parfait was, um, parfaited.

Online voting for the Fifth Third Ballpark food item contest has come to a close, and a winner has been chosen. “Chicks with Sticks,” a healthy option consisting of fresh sliced vegetables with a hummus (made from “Chick” peas) or optional ranch dipping sauce, is the winner and will be on the menu for fans to purchase at Whitecaps games this season.

Chicks with Sticks received 31% of the votes from the top 10 finalists’ contest. Second place in the voting was the Meat Salad, a seven-meat treat, with 27% of the vote. The third place vote-getter was the Walking Spaghetti, a 16-inch loaf of Cole’s garlic bread loaded with spaghetti, meatballs, marinara and cheese, weighing in with 15% of the vote. None of the remaining seven options received more than 5% of the votes (Mac ‘N Cheese Burger Burrito, Honey Bun Burger and Bologna Lollipop – 5%; Sonoran Dog and Big O Sandwich – 4%, Meat Man Parfait – 3% and Duck Hog Frog Dog – 1%).

Lisa Baird of Jenison submitted the Chicks with Sticks entry. Her idea was inspired from her own switch to healthy eating after recently joining Weight Watchers.

“I thought, ‘What on earth could possibly be served in this type of venue that wouldn’t be heavy, and would be portable?’ I had recently switched from eating pita chips and hummus to eating healthier veggies and hummus, and it made perfect sense,” said Baird. “It’s portable, it’s sharable, it’s a win-win for everyone. I was trying to be cute and clever with the name – it’s not the most outrageous food, but it can still be fun! I know I’ll be eating my share of Chicks with Sticks at the ballpark this season!”

Just for using the phrase ‘win-win’ the winning selection should be disqualified and BOTH Meat Salad and Walking Spaghetti should be added to the menu.

And that is my opinion…

Am I serious? Am I joking? I leave it to you…the readers at home to decide.

Alumni Newsletter

All from Seattle and Not just Timber Rattlers…There is a Brewers Alumni you may recognize in there:

Michael Pineda continues his bid to make the Mariners’ starting rotation

One day after his worst statistical outing of the spring, Michael Pineda saw his path to the big leagues grow a little more clear.

The Mariners on Thursday officially eliminated another would-be Pineda competitor from contention for the final rotation spot by reassigning knuckleballer Charlie Haeger to minor-league camp. Unofficially, Haeger was eliminated a while ago because injuries have limited his innings this spring, but still, the number of actual bodies standing between Pineda and his big-league dream is dwindling rapidly.

Mariners officials have privately suggested the job is Pineda’s to lose and that left-hander Luke French is the only pitcher with a shot at taking it away from him. The one way Pineda can blow this thing is by failing to establish secondary pitches beyond his fastball, something his manager insists the pitcher did even in taking somewhat of a pounding the other night.
Michael Saunders looked up at the approaching media, and smiled.
“I knew you guys would be coming,” he said sitting in front of his locker before a recent workout. “I knew it.”

It’s not every day during spring training that a player fighting to make the 25-man roster walks into a game and uses a different batting stance.

Over the weekend, that’s just what Saunders did. And it wasn’t a one-time thing. The Seattle Mariners outfielder and Victoria native used the modified stance in all three trips to the plate during a game against the Cleveland Indians, going 1-for-3 with a single. He followed that up with a 2-for-2 performance on Sunday.

But what brought about such a change? What is it supposed to remedy? And why do it halfway into spring training?

The first hints of Saunders, a graduate of the Vic-toria Mariners of the B.C. Premier League, doing something different at the plate came before he took batting practice Friday.

He stepped into the area where pitchers throw bullpen sessions and stood in the batter’s box timing pitches. Instead of his customary stance with his hands high, circling the bat before the pitch, Saunders stood in a wide stance, bat on his shoulder, completely still. As the pitcher delivered, he raised his hands and bat up slightly -cocking them.

With several members of the media standing around to watch pitcher James Paxton, what Saunders was doing piqued curiosity.
On June 8, 1993, while working in his office at Three Rivers Stadium, Ted Simmons suffered a heart attack. He would tell reporters he thought he was going to die.

Less than three weeks later, Simmons resigned his pressure-packed job as general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and reassessed his life. Simmons was 43 years old, barely five seasons removed from a 21-year playing career many still believe should land him in the Hall of Fame.

For starters, he quit his 2 -pack-a-day (“three or 3 packs on a bad day,” he admitted) cigarette habit.

“All the vices a person could have at age 40, still perceiving themselves as bulletproof, I had,” Simmons says now. “And I realized if I wanted to be around for grandchildren and that sort of stuff, I had to change my life, and I did. At my pace back then, with my lifestyle, I wouldn’t have made it.”

That abrupt lifestyle change propelled Simmons to a multifaceted career in the front office and dugout that will make him an invaluable counselor to Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik … the same Jack Zduriencik who was Simmons’ scouting director with the Pirates.

Simmons, hired in November as a senior adviser to Zduriencik, has done it all. As a player, he was in eight All-Star Games and played in Game 7 of a World Series. As GM, he had the Pirates within one inning of a World Series berth before the Braves rallied in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS.

Following his resignation as GM, Simmons had a stint as an adviser to Cleveland GM John Hart (and watched the Indians make it to — and lose — two World Series during his tenure). He was director of player development for the Cardinals, ran the minor leagues for the Padres as well as taking a turn advising San Diego GM Kevin Towers. And for the past three seasons, he put the uniform back on and was bench coach for the Brewers and Padres.

I used to think it was funny when the NBC cameras cut away from Simba dragging on a cigarette in the dugout during the World Series in 1982…But…DUDE 3-1/2 packs?

Brewers 4, White Sox 0

Final from the Cactus League on Thursday.

Brewers 4, White Sox 0

Ex-Rattlers in action:

Erik Komatsu (’09): 1-for-3

White Sox:
Matt Thornton (’00): IP, 0H, 0R, K

A St. Patricks day field photo(s)

Compare this morning’s field photo with the two from yesterday.  I think that it is appropriate the there is so much green showing in the outfield on St. Patrick’s Day!  Erin go brach!  Slainte!

St. Patrick Day 001.JPGWill try to update with an afternoon picture later today.

UPDATE: LOTS OF GREEN after a warm rainy day in Northeastern Wisconsin!  This photo taken around 4:50pm

St. Patrick Day 002.JPG

Keep melting!  Keep melting!

Thursday Program post (1980)

I just keep learning more and more as I do these posts on old Appleton Foxes Programs.  Here is the 1980 Cover:
1980foxescover.jpgJerry Zapp did many program covers – including the one above – for the Foxes. He also was the designer of the AF logo that the Foxes used.

1980zapp.jpgHere is the thing that I learned. The Goodland Field (and Appleton Baseball) attendance record was not set back in 1964…it was set in 1977 with over 9,000…9,000?…No, almost 10,000! Look at the bottom panel.
champsandattendance.jpgGuess I need to head back to the microfilm again.

The 1980 Foxes Schedule:
1980foxesschedule.jpgFrom the 1980 Appleton Foxes program here is the 1979 Appleton Foxes team photo.  If the Rattlers ever do another throwback jersey, these are the ones that they should do!  Look at how those collars FLARE!  BIG COLLARS! BRING THEM BACK!

In closing, the ‘Homer’ mascot (Front row on the left) may be the creepiest thing I have ever seen.

A note about Luis Salazar

Luis Salazar was involved in a horrible incident during an Atlanta Braves spring training game  The latest news:

Atlanta Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar has lost an eye after he was struck in the face by a line drive while watching a spring training game.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said Wednesday that doctors were unable to save Salazar’s left eye after the accident, which happened March 9. The former major league player is otherwise recovering from his injuries and expects to manage Lynchburg of the Class A Carolina League this season.

The 54-year-old Salazar was standing against the railing on the top step of the dugout during a game between the Braves and St. Louis Cardinals when Brian McCann fouled a ball in his direction. Salazar was unable to get out of the way and fell headfirst back into the dugout.

The game was stopped for almost 20 minutes so Salazar could be airlifted to an Orlando hospital. He regained consciousness on the way and was treated for multiple facial fractures, but doctors were unable to save his left eye.

“In the big picture, and that’s what we have to keep in mind, this is a good outcome,” Wren said. “He’s alive.”

Salazar has ties to Appleton baseball. Here is a look at the 1978-1987 All-Decade Team position players article.

Luis Salazar was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Royals in 1973. But he would only appear in two games for the Gulf Coast League Royals in 1974 before being released. The native of Venezuela would not resurface in the States until 1976 with the Pirates organization. He would put up solid numbers as he climbed through the minors, reaching Triple A in 1980.

Pittsburgh would deal him to the Padres during the season, and he would make his Major League debut for the Padres later that season. He was a pinch runner in a 20 inning, 6 hour 17 minute marathon game against the Astros on August 15, 1980.

Salazar would stay with the Padres until 1985, when he was traded to the White Sox in a deal for former Foxes pitcher LaMarr Hoyt. He appeared in 21 games for the Appleton Foxes in 1986 on a rehab stint. He hit .203 with 2 HR in 79 at bats in the Midwest League. He was released by teh Sox after the season and he returned to the Padres. He would also play for the Tigers and Cubs (not to mention a third stint with the Padres) before hanging up the cleats after the 1992 season. Salazar hit 144 doubles, 33 triples, and 94 home runs in his career while batting .261.

Appleton baseball wishes Luis Salazar well.

Brewers 5, Mariners 4

The Bucks went into overtime last night and I was out like a light before the Brewers-Mariners game showed up on TV.  (I suppose I need to start training to stay up a bit later before the start of the season. Don’t want to drop off on the air during an early April night game).

Milwaukee 5 @ Seattle 4 in Cactus League action last night.

Ex-Rattlers in the game:

Martin Maldonado (’09): 1-for-1

Michael Pineda (’08): 4IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 3K
Matt Tuiasosopo (’05): 0-for-1
Michael Saunders (’06): 0-for-1

Speaking of Pineda:

The Mariners are hoping to have Michael Pineda make their starting five coming out of spring training and a big part of that will be his ability to command his secondary pitches.

Pineda had a rough start tonight, but his slider was working throughout his four innings and his change-up really improved over his latter two frames.

“He was up a little bit, but more importantly he got back down,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “The way he was using his secondary stuff, it was as good as we’ve seen it all spring.”

Wedge said Pineda’s change-up versus lefties is a good pitch for him.

“It’s something where he continues to gain more and more confidence with it,” Wedge said.

So, what was most improved about it tonight?

“You just look at the swings,” he said. “You look at the reaction of hitters. Hitters can always tell you so much. You look at whether they’re taking a pitch, or whether they’re swinging, or maybe just a little reaction up there. I think we saw all that tonight with Michael.”

UPDATE: Field Photo(s): March 16, 2011

A few more patches of green compared to Tuesday. Click for a much larger image and you will be able to see the green in right-center is bigger.  Plus, there are streaks of green in left now, too: Patches of Green 001.JPG
The weather forecast is calling for 55 degrees today. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be 60 with rain. We may get the snow off the field in the next few days after all.

I will take another photo around 5pm today to show how much snow a 55 degree day can melt.

UPDATE:  Here is the picture taken around 4:45pm.  Mid-50s temperatures and bright sunshine for about seven hours makes a difference, no?  Left field is now almost completely snow-free.  Center has quite a few more patches of green. Still some work to do in right.

Patches of Green 002.JPG

Let’s see what tomorrow may bring.

OMG = One More Guy

Jonathan Mayo posted his Top 10 list of Brewers prospects here.  On his blog, Mayo has posted his OMG: Milwaukee Brewers.  No, not a Joey Styles OMG

I am guessing that it stands for One More Guy, who would be #11 on Mayo’s Top 10 list of Brewers Prospects.

Cutter Dykstra

Consider then, 2010, as his coming out party. Dykstra finished second in the organization with his .312 batting average. He also had a .416 on-base percentage while his 27 steals placed him fourth in the system. He got better as the season in the Midwest League wore on, too, hitting .329 with a .443 OBP and 19 steals in the second half of the season. He’s looking more and more like a sparkplug, top-of-the-order type.

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