Even though the Minor League Baseball season is over, you can still get a taste of it (hee hee) thanks to the Travel Channel series ‘Man vs. Food’. Their baseball special premieres on Wed. September 10 at 10 p.m. Host Adam Richman visits three baseball stadiums known to have some of the most unusual ballpark snacks in the country. He goes to GCS Stadium(Gateway Grizzlies), Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park(Charleston River Dogs), and Fifth-Third Ballpark(West Michigan Whitecaps). Should be an entertaining show, and I’m anxious to see it.
I visited the ‘Joe’ in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this year, but I unfortunately (or fortunately maybe) never tried the ‘Homewrecker Hotdog’. It looks good, but I’ll just stick to the normal ones for now. Fifth-Third Ballpark is my home field here in Michigan, but I still can’t see myself ordering a Fifth-Third Burger unless I had my family helping me eat it. It has five beef patties, chili, nachos, lettuce, and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you eat a whole one yourself, you win a free t-shirt, along with a free heart attack down the road I presume.
Here is Adam Richman eyeing up the Fifth Third Burger in Comstock Park, MI
Photo courtesy of the Travel Channel
Monday night the Detroit Tigers will honor the 1984 World Championship team in a pre-game ceromony. All the greats will be on hand including HOF manager Sparky Anderson, MVP Allan Trammell, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, Willie Hernandez and more. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the Tigers won it all. Detroit had the best record in baseball that season with 104 wins on their way to the World Series. This is one of my favorite memories about being a baseball fan as a kid.
Luckily, I’ve had a chance to meet some of my childhood heroes through my Minor League baseball trips. A lot of these guys like to give back to baseball and coach in the Minors. It’s great seeing them instruct a whole new generation of players. So far off the the 1984 team I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Tom Brookens (West Michigan Whitecaps), Lance Parrish (Great Lakes Loons), Doug Bair (Dayton Dragons), and Barbaro Garbey (Peoria Cheifs). We also had a chance to meet John Wockenfuss this season, who was traded in 1984 in a deal to the Phillies to bring Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman to Detroit. We got to meet pitcher Jack Morris, too, but he wasn’t coaching, just signing at a store opening in northern Michigan. Still, he has the most wins of any pitcher in the 80’s, so it was great meeting him. I can’t wait until next years trip to see who we can meet along the way.
Tom Brookens of the Whitecaps signs for the kids in 2007
Lance Parrish of the Loons signs some cards for the kids in 2007
Photos property of MIB
The Detroit Tigers named Casey Crosby their Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Crosy went 10-4 with a 2.41 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings pitched for the West Michigan Whitecaps this season. In the second half of the season, he went 5-2 with a 0.78 ERA and 49 strikeouts in only 46 innings of work. The 21 year old hurler, had his fastball clocked at 98 mph in this, his first full pro season. Crosby only pitched three games in 2008 before having reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.
“He’s a great kid with a great work ethic, working hard at everything he does,” Whitecaps manager Joe DePastino told the Grand Rapids Press. “He was willing to learn and get better, and he’s very deserving of this award.”
Crosby’s keeping up the Whitecaps tradition of this honor by the Tigers organization. The last four season’s has seen the award handed to a West Michigan pitcher. Jon Kibler won it last season, with Duane Below taking home the honor in 2007 and Burke Badenhop in 2006.
Taking home the award for the Tigers Minor League Player of the Year, is former Whitecap Scott Sizemore (2007). Splitting time between the Erie Seawolves (AA) and Toledo Mud Hens (AAA) he hit .308 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI’s.
Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press
Affiliation: San Diego Padres
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
League: Midwest League (Class A)
Home Field: Parkview Field
Fun Facts: The TinCaps won the 2009 Midwest League Championship. Formerly the Fort Wayne Wizards, the franchise changed it’s monikor and moved into the impressive Parkview Field for the 2009 season. The name comes from Johnny Appleseed who wore a tin pan on his head. The mascot is Johnny, who represents Appleseed.
Notable Alumni: Josh Barfield, Jake Peavy, Torii Hunter, Luis Rivas
The Minor League Baseball season has come to an end (sigh). Here are the list of champions from their respective leagues. Any I missed I’ll try to get updated when I can. Looked like some exciting playoffs all around. I hope some other fans got to witness any of these games.
Durham Bulls(TB) defeated Scranton/WB Yankees(NYY)
Pacific Coast League
Memphis Red Birds(STL) defeated Sacramento River Cats(OAK)
Triple A National Championship
Durham Bulls defeated Memphis Red Birds in 11 innings
Jacksonville Suns(FLA) defeated Tennessee Smokies(CHC)
Akron Aeros defeated Connecticut Defenders(SF)
Midland RockHounds(OAK) defeated NW Arkansas Naturals(KC)
Fort Wayne TinCaps(SD) defeated Burlington Bees(KC)
South Atlantic League
Lakewood Blue Claws(PHI) defeated Greenville Drive(BOS)
Florida State League
Tampa Yankees(NYY) defeated Charlotte Stone Crabs(TB)
New York/Penn League
Sctanton Island Yankees(NYY) defeated Mahoning Valley Scrappers(CLE)
Salem Keizer Volcanoes defeated Tri-City Dust Devils(COL)
Orem Owlz(LAA) defeated Missoula Osprey(PHO)
The Minor League playoffs have started, and it’s an exciting time. Bare with me as I’ll try to keep updated on all of the leagues and how the series are coming along. I’ll be adding new leagues and updating things as fast as I can.
If I missed your favorite league or team, let me know and I’ll get it posted.
Gwinnett Braves(ATL) vs. Scranton/WB Yankees(NYY) Yanks advance
Durham Bulls(TB) vs. Louisville Bats(CIN) Bulls advance
Pacific Coast League
Albuquerque Isotopes(LAD) vs. Memphis Red Birds(STL) Red Birds advance Sacramento River Cats(OAK) vs. Tacoma Rainiers(SEA) Cats advance
Birmingham Barons(CHW) vs. Jacksonville Suns(FLA) Suns advance
Huntsville Stars(MIL) vs. Tennessee Smokies(CHC) Smokies advance
Akron Aeros vs. Reading Phillies(PHI) Aeros advance
New Britain Rock Cats(MIN) vs. Connecticut Defenders(SF) Defenders advance
NW Arkansas Naturals(KC) vs. Springfield Cardinals(STL) Nats advance
Midland Rockhounds(OAK) vs. San Antonio Mission(SD) Rockhounds advance
West Michigan Whitecaps(DET) vs. Great Lakes Loons(LAD) Loons advance
Fort Wayne TinCaps(SD) vs. South Bend Silver Hawks(ARZ) TinCaps advance
Cedar Rapids Kernels(LAA) vs. Peoria Chiefs(CHC) Kernels advance
Kane County Cougars(OAK) vs. Burlington Bees(KC) Bees advance
South Atlantic League
Greenville Drive(BOS) vs. Asheville Tourists(COL) Drive advance
Lakewood Blue Claws(PHI) vs. Kannapolis Intimidators(CHW) Claws advance
Florida State League
Charlotte Stone Crabs(TB) vs. Fort Meyer Miracle(MIN) Crabs advance
Tampa Yankees(NYY) vs. Brevard Co. Manatees(MIL) Yanks advance
New York-Penn League
Lowell Spinners(BOS) vs. Stanten Island Yankees(NYY) Yankees advance Brooklyn Cyclones(NYM) vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers(CLE) Scraps advance
Salem Keizer Volcanoes vs. Tri-City Dust Devils(COL) Volcanoes win Championship 3-1
Down to Third: After posting a 43-27 record for the first half of the season, the ‘Caps barely stayed above .500, going 38-32 in the second half. They finished 11 games behind the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Clinching the Wild Card, they play the Great Lakes Loons in the first round of the MWL Playoffs.
Post Season All-Stars: LHP Casey Crosby and DH/OF Billy Nowlin were named to the MWL Post-Season All-Star team. Crosby was 10-4 in his first pro season, with a 2.41 ERA in 24 starts. He also fanned 117 batters and only waked 48. Nowlin (.311) and fellow Whitecap Gustavo Nunez (.315) finished second and third in the league for batting averages. Nowlin hit 29 doubles, 13 homers with 77 RBI’s.
Very Offensive: The Whitecaps 2009 team had one of the best offensive seasons in franchise history. They broke records for team batting average (.274), hits (1,316) and doubles (267).
Who Ya Gonna Call?: OF Wilkin Ramirez got his September call up to the Detroit Tigers. He got a small taste of the big leagues back in May, but expects to learn a lot this time around.
“Now that I’m going to be here longer, I can learn even more,” Ramirez stated. “You can learn a lot if you pay attention.”
So far he’s been contributing a a pinch runner and has seen some at bats. He’s got power adn speed, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him with the Tigers in seasons to come.
Finishing up our last fun weekend of the summer with go-carts and water slides, we ended it watching the Traverse City Beach Bums taking on the Kalamazoo Kings in Frontier League action. This is the second to last game on the Beach Bums 2009 schedule, but for us, it’s most likely the last game we’ll see live untill 2010. Bummer.
It was a beautifull night for baseball, and the home team Bums won 5-2. The kids spent more time on the playground than watching the game, but at least it kept them busy. We opted for the lawn seats at Wuerfel Park, which has nice areas in the outfield to sit and watch from a blanket or lawn chair.
The kids each recieved a free baseball at the gate and they were able to get some players autographs on them. The only bummer was that former Major League pitcher and Bums pitching coach Roger Mason refused to sign for the kids. We were told he was ‘too busy’ and he basically turned his back on us. What a loser. You can see from the pic just how busy he was. Oh, well, we still didn’t let it ruin our last game.
Photos property of MIB