West Michigan Whitecaps-2015 Midwest League Champions
Monday night the Whitecaps held on to beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 3-2 in a decisive game five to win the Midwest League crown. This is the teams first championship since 2007, but manager Andrew Graham won the title as a catcher for West Michigan back in 2004. The ‘Caps split the first two games at home, getting shut out 5-0 in game one, and coming back with a 4-1 win in game two (the one that we were at). They dropped a heart-breaker in game three, when the Kernels earned a 3-2 walk-off win in the ninth inning. Never giving up, the Whitecaps held on to win game four 2-1 and game five 3-2, on the back of relief pitcher Joe Jimenez.
In the final game, Ross Seaton earned the win on the mound, holding the Kernels to only two runs. The Whitecaps scored their runs on RBI’s by Francisco Contreras and David Gonzalez, while the third run was scored by Contreras on a wild pitch. Jimenez struck out the side on the ninth inning to secure the victory, and championship! As memorable as this season has been, we were lucky to get down to a handful of games to see the Whitecaps play. With Larry Parrish retiring in Toledo, I fully expect Andrew Graham to be promoted, unless the Tigers’ organization brings in someone to take over just at the Triple-A level. I think he’s done a great job with this team the last two seasons, and wouldn’t mind him sticking around. Congrats again, to the Whitecaps! You can read more on their championship win on the Midwest League website HERE.
Traverse City Beach Bums-2015 Frontier League Champions
The Beach Bums defeated the River City Rascals by the score of 4-1 last Friday night to win the Frontier Cup. The Bums swept the Rascals 3-0 in the best of five series, and were 6-0 in the postseason. In the ten year history of the ball club in Traverse City, this was the second time making to the finals, being defeated by River City back in 2012. The Bums literally went from worst to first this season, winning a club record 56 games as they advanced to the palyoffs for the fourth time since 2010. Injuries plaqued last seasons team, including Frontier Cup MVP Jose Vargas. Vargas was also the hero of game two, with a walk-off base hit to give his team a 6-5 win, and complete the comeback when they were down 5-1. Manager Dan Rohn, a Central Michigan alumni, did a great job with the team this season, and I think the Beach Bums are lucky to have a veteran coach at this level. Congrats to the Beach Bums, and were at least able to make it to a couple of games this season, including the last weekend of the regular season that started their nine-game winning streak. You can read more on the Bums title win on the Frontier League website HERE and at the Record Eagle website HERE.
Photos courtesy of the Whitecaps and Record Eagle
Traverse City Beach Bums vs Frontier Greys (Frontier League)
Wuerfel Park- Traverse City, MI: On our way back north, we decided to pass through Traverse City to catch a Beach Bums game. It had been raining most of the day, so we got to the ballpark about 15 before the game when we made our decision to go. I guess all the other Bums fans had the same idea, as there was a huge line for tickets. In fact, they finally decided to open a second ticket window about 20 minutes after the game started. In all, we waited almost an hour and missed three innings of the game before we finally set down on the outfield lawn.
I strayed a little to get a few photos, but was called back when some a-hole kid threw sand in Brian’s eyes. I don’t know why the Bums insist on having sand in the playground. Something like shredded tire would be so much safer and cleaner. I understand the beach theme, but don’t think it’s as important as safety. Brian was fine, though, as Trevor took care of him. Life is a little easier with a big brother watching your back.
With missing a few innings and the playground drama, it hard to get invested in the game. This was a pretty good game, as TC took an early lead (that we missed), and the Greys stormed back to take a 3-2 lead.
The Bums would complete the comeback win with a walk-off in the tenth innin with Reggie Dawson’s bunt scored Jay Austin. Lawson had two hits on the night, Austin two RBI’s. On the mound Rob Blanc earned his first win as a Bum, while Bret Dahlson earned the save. Not the best night, but at least it ended on a good note. Still blessed to be at a ballgame with my kids. With the Bums, Whitecaps, and Lugnuts all in the playoffs, we hope to make it to one more game. Here’s a video, too:
College Football-CMU vs OSU
Also over Labor Day weekend we caught some football, as the Central Michigan Chippewas hosted the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Mt. Pleasant. The Chips fell 22-13, but we had a fun night and at least it didn’t rain during the game like it did all day.
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Joliet Slammers (Frontier League)
Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: The summer of rain continues, but we didn’t let it ruin our baseball fun over the weekend. Although it rained most of the weekend, the weather cleared up enough to take in our first Beach Bums game of the season. Our experience started off on a good note, as Brian got a game ball from the Joliet Slammers before the game even started. I guess it’s good to make the right friends, as he was chatting with the guys in the bullpen.
The game was a good one for the home team. The Bums scored three runs in the second inning, and never looked back on their way to victory. Offensively they were led by Jay Austin, who had four hits and was just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. Jeff DeBlieux pitching in with a triple and 2 RBI’s, while Jake Rhodes and Greg Harisis each had hits. In the fifth inning, Graham Ramos hit and RBI single, and then scored on a double by Yazy Arbelo. On the bump, pitcher Kramer Champlin threw seven strong innings for the win, allowing four hits and no runs. Final score: Beach Bums 5, Slammers 1.
After he ran the bases, he met up with a couple of the Slammers players to thank them again for the baseball. He was going to stand in line for the Beach Bum autographs, but he was tired and we still had a long drive ahead of us. This was a fun game, and the impending rain kept it a very small crowd. We were lucky that the rain held off for us, and I’m hoping to get back to TC soon. It’s a good ballpark to visit since one our way down state one way or another.
Photos and videos property of Minoring In Baseball
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Normal CornBelters (Frontier League)
Weurfel Park-Traverse City, MI: It was time for the kids and I to make a trip to Traverse City for some fun and baseball. We hit the Beach Bums game early, so the boys were able to search the outfield and found four baseballs from batting practice!
We still have some time before the game, so we were able to watch some warm-ups and the boys got to visit with their Nana. She doesn’t make it to too many games anymore, so it was a special day to have her there.
The game itself was a good one for the home team Beach Bums. They got off to a good start, as Sean Gusrang hit a two-run homer to put the Bums up 2-0 in the first. The rally was continued by Yazy Arbelo, who doubled, and was hit home by a Jovan Rosa two-bagger. On the mound for TC, Alex Phillips earned the win, striking out three and only giving up six scattered hits. Final: Beach Bums 4, CornBelters 0.
After the game, Brian didn’t feel like running the bases, but the boys lined up for autographs from the team. The Beach Bums give the kids a free team poster to get signed.
While in Traverse City, we also had time to visit one of our favorite summer hang outs, Pirates Cove. The kids and I took part in some go-cart races, bumper boats, and the water coaster. Sometimes I think we just have too much fun together, but feel lucky and blessed to have this time with my kids and family!
Washington Wild Things vs. Normal CornBelters (Frontier League)
Consol Energy Park-Washington, PA: After our trip to see some Cy Young stuff, we made our way to southern Pennsylvania to see the Washington Wild Things host the Normal CornBelters in Frontier League action. This is the first Frontier League ballpark we’ve been to outside of Traverse City. Consol Energy Park is a very nice ballpark to watch a game, also. The parking and entrance is in the right field area, so really no one was at the front of the stadium when the gates opened. I’m also glad that Wild Thing was at the front of the stadium, also, to let fans know that there was a game.
While exploring the ballpark, we had a nice surprise, in meeting actor Dwier Brown, who played John Kinsella (Kevin Costner’s father) in the movie Field Of Dreams. Brown was at the ballpark selling his own book, If You Build It…, and signing copies for fans. We did buy a copy, and he was nice enough to sign it and get a photo with us. He also threw out the first pitch to start the game. In the time it’s taken me to finally get this post up, I have read the book and it’s very good. You don’t even have to be a fan of the movie or baseball to enjoy it. He also thought it was pretty cool that we were at the Field of Dreams movie site a few years ago, too.
We still had plenty of time to watch the teams warm up, and take some photos of the ballpark. I did notice that Consol Energy Park has the same artificial surface as the Beach Bums’ Wuerfel Park. The Wild Things also had a pre-game ceremony with members of the Make-A-Wish Foundation that was very nice. We got our shopping done, too, and I have to say Washington’s merchandise is priced well. I got a pennant and a Wild Thing plush for Brian. The mascot, simply named Wild Thing, made his presence known, but we really didn’t see him too much around the concourse during the game.
The game itself was another ugly one for the home team. Left fielder C.J. Beatty did have a nice night at the plate for the Wild Things, though, going 3-3 with three RBI’s on two home runs. On the mound, Alex Kaminsky took the loss for the Wild Things, throwing five innings, and giving up five earned runs on eight hits. In all, though, Consol Energy Park is a nice place to watch a game, without a bad seat in the house. Final: Wild Things 4, CornBelters 9.
All photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
Langbehn to Cleveland: Manager Gregg Langbehn has left the Beach Bums organization to take a job with the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball. He will be in charge of the new instant replay system in Cleveland, and report to the Indians’ bench on what calls should be challenged. He’s worked in organized baseball with the Houston Astros, but not at the major league level.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and challenge to be in the big leagues and one that I couldn’t pass up,” Langbehn stated on the Beach Bums website. “I’m really excited about it.”
Langbehn is the most successful manager in Beach Bums history, compiling a record of 267-212 in his five-year run with the club. He led the Bums to three playoff appearances including the Frontier League championship series in 2010. His 2012 season was one for the record books, as the Bums’ 64 wins was the third most in league history, and the best record for the organization. He was named the 2012 Frontier League Manager of the Year, and managed the 2012 and 2013 East All-Star teams.
Team president and CEO Jason Wuerfel also stated on the Bums website: “I’m excited. Any time a player or one of our coaches moves on it’s a real compliment to our organization and the area. We sincerely thank Gregg for the job he’s done over the last five years and we part ways as friends.”
Rohn promoted: With Langbehn leaving for Cleveland, this opened the door for bench coach Dan Rohn to take the helm of the Beach Bums. He started with TC in 2011 as a special assistant, then was promoted to bench coach in 2013. He is a native of Alpena, Michigan, and played ball down at Central Michigan University for the Chippewas. Rohn played in the pros for 13 seasons, including three in the majors. He began his minor league coaching career back in 1990 as hitting coach for the Triple-A Portland Beavers. Rohn went on to become a four-time MiLB Manager of the Year winner, in the Double-A Eastern League (2000), and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (2001, 2004, and 2005). He worked in the bigs with the Seattle Mariners as an administrative coach, and last managed the Triple-A Las Vegas 51’s of the PCL in 2010. This seems to be a great situation for both Rohn, and Traverse City.
“I’d really like to thank the Wuerfel family for the opportunity. I love the chance to work in the city that I live in,” Rohn stated on their website. “We have a strong ball club coming in this year; I’m really looking forward to putting a winning team on the field.”
It’s by great coincidence that Rohn was residing in TC, and that his wife teaches at a nearby arts academy. Matt Pulley will return as the Bums hitting coach, but the rest of Rohn’s staff has yet to be named. Jason Wuerfel seems very thankful that Rohn was available, also, as stated on the website.
“We are very fortunate to have a manager with his qualifications. There are a lot of good managers in this league but none with the experience Dan has. Dan will manage the team professionally on and off the field; the timing is perfect, we are just very fortunate.”
Again, this seems like a win-win situation for all involved. We’d like to wish all the best to Langbehn in his new journey, and we’ll be at Wuerfel Park cheering on Rohn and his Beach Bums whenever we get a chance this summer.
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball
The Arizona Diamond Backs have purchased the contract of hurler Johnny Omahen from the Traverse City Beach Bums. In his first and only season of indepandant league baseball, Omahen went 8-9, with a 3.37 ERA in 21 starts. He also led the Traverse City squad in strike-outs with 78, only gave up two home runs, and his 115 innings pitched were a personal best. The right-hander was the second man in the Bums rotation, just behind Frontier League All-Star Scott Dunn. This will be Omahen’s second stint in affiliated baseball, being drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2011 out of California State University San Marcos. His pro career started with the Gulf Coast League Marlins, then the Jupiter Hammerheads, going 4-1 with an impressive 1.94 ERA in 41.2 innings, while only surrendering one home run. He was released after a rough season with the Greensboro Grasshopper in 2012, where he went 1-5 with a 5.24 ERA. Miami’s loss was the Beach Bums gain, however, and now the Diamond Backs. The Beach Bums COO Jason Wuerfel will miss Omahen in their rotation, but seems to wish him the best.
“While it’s tough to lose a pitcher of Johnny’s caliber,” Wuerfel stated on the Beach Bums website, “we are pleased to see his ability recognized. He’s a first class young man.”
There’s a chance we might see him in the Midwest League this season, with Arizona’s affiliate the South Bend Silver Hawks. If we do, we’ll certainly wish him our best.
Photo courtesy of the Frontier League
Next seasons’ Baseball Trip will be a little later this time, in June instead of May. One of the reasons for the change, is that we wanted to hit the Midwest League All-Star game on June 17th in West Michigan. This should be a great experience as I’ve never been to an all-star game before. This will be the hardest game to get tickets for, so I really need to be on the ball when they go on sale. The next day takes us south to Columbus, OH to check out our first Clippers game. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the stadium and franchise, so it should be a game to remember. The day after is a double-header for us. We start out with the Toledo Mud Hens for a day game. We saw the Hens back in 2007, and look forward to another great time at Fifth-Third Field. After we see the Hens, we head east to see the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and our first New York-Penn League game. Travelling in the early spring usually prevents us from making these games, since they start their season in mid-June. We stay busy the next morning, hitting the big city of Cleveland to check out the Baseball Heritage Museum. I don’t know much about this, so if anyone has been there any info would be appreciated. Next we enjoy more Midwest League action visiting the Lake County Captains in Eastlake, just east of Cleveland. Lake County and Bowling Green are the only two MWL teams I haven’t visited yet, as they transferred from the South Atlantic League a few years ago.
The next stop on our journey should be interesting, visiting Canton, OH, and just south of that the Temperance Tavern and Cy Young Museum. Again, I don’t have much info on this, so if anyone has visited there I’d appreciate your input. That’s just one stop on our way to Washington, PA to see the Wild Things in Frontier League action. Washington is an independent team, but it look like they have a nice stadium. The town was just awarded a pro softball franchise called the Revolution, too, so that’s something else to look into. The next morning, we travel north to see the Detroit Tigers’ Double-A affiliate, the Erie Seawolves. This is another team I’ve wanted to see for some time, and look forward to checking out some of the Tigers’ prospects. Another double-header for us, we go a little farther east to check out our second New York-Penn League team in the Jamestown Jammers. And..our trip concludes with the newly dubbed Akron RubberDucks. This should be a fun adventure if the weather holds, and it should be better in June. If anyone has been to this region and can recommend any other points of interest or eating establishments, I’d love to hear about them.
In a surprise move, the Traverse City Beach Bums have traded their mainstay first baseman, Chase Burch. The Bums sent Burch to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association for a player to be named later and considerations. Although he’s been a member of the Bums for the last four seasons, Burch’s career began in the AA in 2009. As a member of the Pensacola Pelicans, he hit .341 with nine home runs, and 66 RBI’s. He joined the TC team in 2010, hitting 19 home runs and 88 RBI’s. This season, Burch led the team in home runs with 15, and banged in 66 RBI’s. In the Frontier League playoffs, he hit an astounding .438 with four home runs, and six RBI’s. He is Traverse City’s all-time leader in games played with 370, at-bats with 1, 319, runs scored at 243, home runs with 66, and RBI’s with 285. Best of luck to him with his new team. Burch definitely gave the fans in Traverse City much to cheer about in his time there.
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball