July 2010

Star Wars Night-Episode I: No Phantom, just fun!!!

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Beloit Snappers: As we were rained out last night, the weather was on our side tonight. A beautifull night in Grand Rapids, to enjoy some baseaball. Of course, Star Wars night brought out over 10,000 fans to Fifth Third Ballpark for the game and to see their favorite characters. Yes, the two loves of my childhood colided in one special night with my kids. Baseball fans and Star Wars nerds fans alike were cheering in unison. The Whitecaps even wore special Star Wars jerseys with the likeness of Darth Vader on them. I think that Lily and Trevor were more excited over meeting the characters than the game, but at least they got to see everyone they wanted. Trevor’s favoites are the Stormtroopers and Lily liked meeting Chewbacca. The kids also got autographs from some of the Whitecaps players like third baseman Wade Gaynor and hitting coach Louis Quinnones who played with the Giants, Reds, and Cubs. The game was capped off with a fireworks display. Of course the kids had to watch the Star Wars movies on the way home (no prequals), and are now hounding me to play with my 30 year old toys. Oh well, they can’t last forever, but the memories of this ballgame can. Final: Whitecaps 4, Snappers 6.

SWN14.jpgPhotos property of M.I.B.

Rain Batters Battle Creek

Battle Creek Bombers vs. Waterloo Bucks: Rained out. I guess I can’t complain too much, as I’ve been pretty lucky over the years, but when you only see a handfull of games a season, one rain out is disasterous. I can’t say enough about the Bombers oganization, though, as they gave us a full refund on our birthday package, yet still gave me my birthday cake and signed baseball by the team. I thought they might play it when we saw some of the players warming up, but the field ended up being too flooded. We wanted to re-schedule, but we just don’t know when we’ll be down there again. The kids were bummed, but we got to spend time together and visit some family. The Baseball Gods would make it up to us the next night, though…

BC5.jpgPhotos property of M.I.B.

Whitecap Brothers Have Same Name

ESPN just did a nice write up on the Sanz brothers who play for thsanzbros.jpge West Michigan Whitecaps. What makes the story interesting, is that the article’s about Lius A. Sanz. And Luis A. Sanz. Yeah, two brothers…same name. Wow, if this doesn’t remind me of the classic film (ok, maybe not so much, but one of my favorites) Major League 3: Back To The Minors. They had a brother duo named Juan Lopez, who manager Gus Cantrall (played by Scott Bakula) dubbed Jaun 1 and Juan 2. Not sure if Whitecaps manager Joe DePastino has made a similar naming of the brothers, but he told ESPN, “I’ve been in this game for 18 years now and I’ve never seen it or heard of it.” Aparently no one els has either, so there is no record of brothers with the same name in Major Legue Baseball. In the movie, the Lopez’s played shortstop and second base, and were played by Tombuzz1.jpg and Tim DiFilippo, respectively. The real life
Sanz brothers play pitcher and catcher, and are separated by their middle names. Luis Angel (no. 44) is the pitcher of the two, while little brother Luis Alberto (no. 13) wears the tools of ignorance. They were both named after their father who was named, yeah, well, Luis Sanz. Luis Angel explains, “In the house, my mother called us by our middle names. i’d be Luis Angel or Luis Alberto, so it was no problem growing up because she new our name.” The two became teammates after Luis Alberto was demoted from High-A Lakeland Flying Tigers to help out the fledging Whitecaps. They’ve only been in one game toghether, though, on July 5 when the ‘Caps lost to Dayton 6-5. At the game this weekend, maybe I can get both to sign a program or something-same name, different signatures.

Sanz photo courtesy of ESPN

Buzz photo courtesy of Yahoo! Movies

Baseball Unnoticed

E.U.P. Travelers vs. Gaylord: In between our weekly Little League games and our monthly Minor League adventures, the kids and I have been enjoying a brand of baseball that seems to have gone unnoticed in our country lately. That brand is American Legion Baseball. Following our team, the E.U.P. Travelers (stands for Eastern Upper Pennincula), gives us a chance to relax and enjoy quality baseball that features the best players from around the area. This weekend we were able to catch a couple of games, including the Travelers (representing Eagle Post 3) beating the Gaylord, Mi team by ten runs before the rain hit. The team and league, however, doesn’t even have a website to publish their scores or stats. I noticed a game while taking the kids to the park a couple of weeks ago, and had to hunt down the coaches to get a schedule. Again, no website, and very little coverage in the local press.

American Legion ball came into existence in 1925 when local posts wanted to further support their communities through athletic games, and was the first program to provide a national tournament for teenagers. The leagues have gotten financial help from Major League Baseball as well, especially during the early days, to keep the programs running. Today the program registers over 5400 teams in all of the 50 states, including Canada and Puerto Rico. Almost 100,000 teenager between the ages of 15-19 participate each year. Since it’s beginnings, the league has had over 10 million players with nearly 75% of the current college players being program graduates. American Legion Baseball also helps their players financially giving away $51,000-$1,000 for a player scholarship from each department based on leadership, character, scholarship and financial need. Also, since 1949, the American Legion Player of the Year and recieve a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This makes the recipients the only amatuer players invited to the exhibit. As of today, more than half of the Major League players played Legion Baseball. The list of alumni include Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Mark Texiera, Ryne Sandberg, Roy Campanella, Dusty Baker, Albert Pujols, Greg Maddux, and Chipper Jones. The program had arguably the biggest impact on HOFer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians. Growing up in a small farming community, Leagion Baseball gave him the oportunity to be discovered.

travelers4.jpgPhotos property of M.I.B.

Gratuitous Kid Pics

Yeah, just showing them off here a bit. The Little League Season is coming to an end here at the end of the month, but we’ll still keep busy. Got our tickets for the Battle Creek Bombers on the 23rd, and the Whitecaps(Star Wars Night) on the 24th. Until then…

Destiny.jpgPhotos property of MIB

Gamecocks Close Rosenblatt by Winning First CWS

Omaha, NE:
For those of you who missed it, the South Carolina Gamecocks won the 2010 College World Series the hard way, winning six straight games after losing the opener to Oklahoma. The Gamecocks beat the UCLA Bruins 2-1 in 11 innings Tuesday night for their first NCAA Baseball Championship in the last game to be played at historic Rosenblatt Stadium. I was lucky enough to have the night off of work to watch South Carolina tie the game in the 9th before winning the game in exta innings. I like to see teams win their first championship, especially in games as exciting as this. I regret not getting to Rosenblatt to witness the CWS firsthand, but plan on attending in the future for one of my baseball trips. I’ve grown to be a big fan of college baseball over the last few years. We try to catch at least one game on our trip, and they usually end up being the most competetive. You can read up on 2010 CWS
Personally, though, I was pulling for TCU. 

 Photo courtesy of South Carolina Gamecocks

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