October 2011

Machado Up for MiLBy Award

West Michigan Whitecap Dixon Machado is up a MiLBy Award this year, in the Best Minor League Photo catagory. If you like this pic of Mach ‘turning two’ against the Great Lakes Loons on August 7 at Fifth Third Ballpark, hit this link to vote for it:

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20111013&content_id=25637026&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb

The photo is in third place now, with 11% of the votes, so maybe we can push it up a couple of notches for the win.

Photo courtesy Emily Jones/MilB.com

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Good Grief…

Sometimes I feel like the human version of Charlie Brown. My ex sure did pull the proverbial football out from under me many times during the last decade. The kid has some really good qualities, though, even if he is a bit nieve. I agree with him that fall is depressing, and the thought of no baseball for the whole winter basically sucks. But, at least I have my baseball movies to keep me entertained, and the hockey games almost every weekend up here. We also have countless Charlie Brown and Snoopy DVD’s to keep us entertained, too. They remind me of when I was a kid, and the kids love them.

Peanuts comic courtesy of the great Charles Schultz

Fifth Third Ballpark to get Facelift for 2012

The West Michigan Whitecaps have extended their relationship with Fifth Third Bank which include the naming rights to the ballpark.

The original deal made with Old Kent Bank (which made Old Kent Park) in 1994, was continued after Fifth Third Bank merged with Old Kent, and the stadium was re-named in 2001. New to 2012, will be a new state-of-the-art video board, and new manually operated score board, a new electronic sign along US 131, and a new sign to greet fans at the main entrance of the stadium. The new video board will measure 28 feet tall and 55 feet wide. The high-resolution screen is 25% larger than the size of the existing scoreboard and advertising panels combined. The new manual scoreboard will be 24 feet tall by 39 feet wide, and will replace the video board currently in left field. The manual scoreboard will have Whitecaps staff stationed behind it to update the score, and will offer and old-time traditional baseball feel that will offset the high-tech new video board.

“I think that it just makes sense, as we continue to add new high-tech fan amenities like the new video board, that we also stay connected to the traditions of baseball,” stated Lew Chamberlain, who runs the ‘Caps organization. “I’ve always loved the old manual boards like the one at Fenway Park and this old-style scoreboard will play homage to baseball history. It will be great fun for the fans.”

The Fifth Third Ballpark logo will be updated to reflect Fifth Third Bank’s new logo and color scheme, and will replace the existing one along the highway, US 131. Other upgrades to the ballpark include installation of flat screen TV’s throughout the concourse that display the Midwest League standing, league leaders, and player of the week information. This will replace the A-Frame signs around the concourse, and create more room for the fans. There will also be state-of-the-art equipment upgrades in the production room to go with the new video board. These include a wireless camera system for fan shots and close-up baseball action. Posted are some artist renditions of what the changes will look like.

Lots of new stuff to look forward to in 2012. The new schedule is already out, and I’m starting to plan what games to attend. We should be able to get there in April, weather permitting.

Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps

Castellanos Named Tigers Top Farmhand

The Detroit Tigers recently handed out some Minor League hardware, with the Whitecaps’ Nick Castellanos being awarded Minor League Player of the Year, and Lakeland’s Drew Smyly awarded Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Both players are from last seasons draft and just completed their first pro seasons.

Castellanos was the top draft pick last season, and is the Tigers top position prospect. He had a slow start adjusting to the Midwest League, but his bat started to heat up with the weather in May. The nine-teen year old ended the 2011 campaign batting .312 with 36 doubles, seven home runs, and 76 RBI’s in West Michigan.

Smyly was Detroit’s second round selection from last years draft out of the University of Arkansas. His award is very impressive, considering the Tigers have prospects like Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver in the mix. He started the season with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, going 7-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 77 strikeouts before being promoted to Double A Erie in July. With the Seawolves, he was 4-3, but pitched himself to a miniscule 1.18 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance.

Good luck to these players as they move up the latter in the Tigers organization.

Top photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps

Bottom photo property of M.I.B.

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