The Little League baseball season is upon us once again up north. The kids have been working the indoor clinics (which most of the kids hate), but on Friday they finally were able to make it outside. In most parts of the country baseball has probably been played for a month or two, but up here we usually get onto the field in mid-May. It was another long and brutal winter (we had more snow than any other city on the country this year…), so Brian was thrilled to be outside and playing baseball. He’s moved up from Tee Ball to Rookies (coach pitch) this season, but he’s been hitting live pitching for a few years now, so this shouldn’t be anything new to him. They had a pitching machine at the practice, but I’m not sure if it will be used though out the season at the games, or just at these practices. I’m a coach in this league, on the board of directors, and they still don’t tell me anything. Brian has been wearing his Angels jersey from last season, but we’re not sure what team we’ll be this season. I requested the Angels again, but who knows what we’ll end up with. At any rate, I can’t wait to get my team set and do my own thing with the practices. I have so many fun things planned for the kids this season, so let’s get this going…
Another Little League baseball season has come and gone, and every year it just seems to go by quicker and quicker. As you can see by the photo of Brian and I up top, we’re not all that happy that the season has come to an end. Brian can be a handful, but he did great this season and learned a lot. All the Angels had fun this season, too, and I really hope I get a chance to coach them again at the next level if we’re still in this area. Here’s some pics of Brian from our last game of the season against the Yankees:
After the season ended, the Sault Area Little League held its annual ‘fun night’. The kids were treated with hot dogs, chips, pop, and cake. They also had a chance to play on the playground and take part in some activities. Brian really liked the slip and slide into the bases, and batting practice with the water balloons. Good stuff, and a fun way to end the season. I coached some really good kids this year, and will miss them all.
Here’s a water balloon video:
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
Even though we haven’t been to as many games this season as we’ve liked, it doesn’t mean that baseball is not a big part of our lives. Between the both boys in Little League, I’m up at the ball fields five nights a week. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being able to coach my kids in baseball is one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done. I’m very happy to be spending this time with them, and helping them learn the great sport of baseball. Lily isn’t playing softball anymore, but she does help me coach Brian’s tee-ball team. She’s been there, and knows how I do things by now, and I enjoy being able to spend that time with her, also. This is also the 75th anniversary of Little League Baseball, and it’s already turning out to be a special year. The biggest change the kids are enjoying this year are the team names instead of sponsor names. Trevor, especially, is getting a kick out of this!
Trevor is playing for the CUBS:
I put this post off, waiting until the outcome of the MVP race, but I did want to congratulate Mike Trout on winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award. He was basically a sure thing after his performance in the 2012 season. Trout was the unanimous pick for the award, as he’s not just the best rookie this season, but some say he’s the best rookie ever. He finished second in the league in batting average with .326, first in steals with 49 and runs with 129, third in on-base-percentage at .399, and third in slugging % at .564. His was pretty good defensively, too, robbing batters of four home runs, and 23 runs altogether. Trout also became the first player to win the MLB Rookie of the Month Award four months in a row. Then you hear him compared to guys like Mickey Mantle and things really start clicking. But with all his stats and steals and defense it still wasn’t enough to edge Triple Crown winning Miguel Cabrera for the MVP Award. It wasn’t all that surprising that Miggy won, I guess what surprised me is that the voting wasn’t a lot closer. So the Angels fans are probably feeling a little jilted, and they have a right to feel so, while the Tigers fans get a little reason to smile after the disastrous World Series. The voting really could have gone either way, though, and fans of both players have a reason to feel their guy is the best. All awards and voting and BS aside, though, nothing can take away the year that Trout had. The guy is 21 yrs-old. I’m sure within the next 20 years he’ll get his due. He’ll give Angels fans and all baseball fans alike some great moments in this sport.
When I saw him play back in 2010, he was a stand-out at the Single-A level at only 18. We sat in the front row right behind the on-deck circle, and he was nice enough to chat with us before the game started. He seemed pretty humble and had a great attitude about being a top draft pick. Then he hit the first pitch out of the ballpark. He had his own little cheering section, and he made sure his fans got a game ball. The whole game experience in Cedar Rapids was amazing, and watching a talent like Trout made it even better, especially the way he conducted himself. There’s nothing but good things for this guy in the future, and he’ll have a lot of fans rooting for him.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Jacob Turner MLB debut vs. the California Angels
Jacob Turner made his Major League debut this afternoon, just one season away from pitching in Single-A with the Whitecaps, and two seasons out of high school. Turner is the 15th ranked prospect in all of baseball right now, so this shouldn’t be too much of a suprise to those who’ve been following his career. He didn’t disappoint, either, only giving up two runs against the talented Angels over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up three hits, walked three, and struck out six. Unfortunately, he took the loss, thanks to the efforts of Tigers relief pitcher Phil
Joke Coke. Turner recieved a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Comerica Park for his efforts.
“Once they started cheering, I don’t even know how to describe it,” Turner stated. “My body felt like it went numb. That was probably the highlight of my day, to be honest.”
The 20-year-old right-hander also impressed his manager as well as the Tiger fans in attendance and watching him on TV on Fox’s Game of the Week.
“I thought he’d do well,” manager Jim Leyland stated. “I wasn’t sure he’d do quite as well as he did, to be honest with you. But I thought he’d do well.
Turner gave the Tigers a chance to win the game, but the thanks to the anemic offense and the struggling bullpen, he took the loss. He didn’t stay with the Whitecaps too long last season, so we didn’t get a chance to see him pitch down there. He was 2-3 with a 3.67 ERA, and 50 strikeouts with West Michigan in 2010. I look forward to seeing him on the mound in Detroit in the future.
Formers Whitecaps Wells and Furbush traded to Mariners
The Detroit Tigers traded Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells, Francisco Martinez, and a player to be named later to the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Doug Fister and relief pitcher David Pauley. Martinez is the Tigers 4th ranked prospect, but thought to be expendable due to Nick Castellanos’ progress in West Michigan. The move gives the Tigers a solid number five starter and beefs up the bullpen at bit. It also give Furbush and Wells a chance to be Major League players in Seattle. So far this season with the Tigers, Furbush is 1-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 17 appearances. With the Whitecaps in 2007, he was 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA and 46 strikeouts. Wells started the season with the Tigers, batting .257 with four home runs in 64 games before being optioned to the Toledo MudHens (Triple-A). In 2008, Casper batted .240 with ten home runs in 50 games with West Michigan. I wish them both the best with their new club. They can join former Whitecap pitcher Luke French who was traded to the Mariners in 2009 in a brilliant move that brought pitcher Jarod Washburn (who?) to Detroit.
Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps
West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels: Fifth Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI
It was a beautiful day for baseball, so I packed the kids up and took the long trip back down to Grand Rapids to give Brian his first taste of Whitecaps baseball. This was a little new to him, with a bigger crowd, so I decided to get a harness so the little guy couldn’t just run off on us. He did pretty well, but wasn’t real happy that he couldn’t run free when he wanted to. A couple of the pics will show him pouting a bit, but he has happy to watch baseball, as were Lily and Trevor. I was Sunday, so we were able to get onto the field, but opted to play catch rather than stand in line for autographs. The kids liked playing catch with me and their Papa (three kids at a ballgame is tough, so I’m glad my dad was there to help out, too). It was fun to be on the field, but they wanted to play on the playground there, too, until the game started. It was pretty hot by our standards, so we ended up pouring cold water on each other and the kids had some ice cream to cool them off, too. We got seats at the very top row on the isle because I knew we’d be getting up and around a lot with the little guy. I hate it when people are constantly getting up and interrupting the game, so I wanted to show some courtesy. Even though we were higher up, there’s no bad seat in the house, and kept us out of the sun under the over hang. It was Autism Awareness day also, so the ‘Caps wore special jerseys that were auctioned off after the game. The Whitecaps’ bats were as hot as the weather, as they pounded out sixteen hits in the game. The kids were a little too tired to run the bases after the game, but we had a great time and look forward to more game together. Next month is Star Wars night, so that should give us a memorable night. Final score: Whitecaps 10, Kernels 3.
One of the fun things about gearing up for our 2011 travels, is wondering what players we’ll be able to watch who might make it to the big leagues. It takes some players longer to make than others, but some guys just seem to stand out. Last season while in Cedar Rapids, we were lucky enough to watch Mike Trout play, who has been named the top prospect in baseball. His lead-off homer was impressive, but what impressed me more was his attitude. He was nice enough to sign a program for my son who was an Angels fan at the time (he bounces back between the Angels and Cubs..don’t ask). We sat right behind the on deck circle, and our conversation with Mike started when my dad asked him why he had his name and number on his shoes, while his teammates didn’t. He kindly explained that he was their top draft pick and this was part of his deal. He had his own little cheering section which he rewarded with a game ball. It’s nice to see players at this level without the big egos and attitudes. Trout genually seemed gratefull for his fans and to be playing. The next day in DeMoines we saw Hall of Famers Ryne Sandburg again. You really can’t go wrong meeting these guys. We also met some of the Whitecaps players later in the summer, and being a Tigers fan it’s fun to watch these guys progress though the system. So next time you’re travelling by a Minor League ballpark, stop in for a game. Ya just never know who you might see play.
Photos property of M.I.B.
Cedar Rapids Kernels vs. Kane County Cougars: Day three had us up early, and backtracking east through Iowa to Cedar Rapids for a noon start. Day games are usually a lot of fun, and this one didn’t disappiont. Vetrans Memorial Stadium is located basically in a residential area, but still had plenty of parking and decent site lines. Of all the ballparks on our trip, this one simply had the best atmoshpere. The workers were all very friendly and everyone just seemed to be happy it was game day. We had great seats behind home plate just off of the Kernels dugout. My oldest son is an Angels fan, so it was easy for me to get some autogaphs from some prospects like Mike Trout and Michael Wing. Trout is a first round draft pick, but seemed very down to earth and was great with the fans. He also homered in his first at-bat. After getting shut out our first few games, it felt good to get a couple of foul balls here. I got two, but gave one away to a little girl. Yeah, I know, aaawwww. The cool thing if you catch a fly ball here, you recieve an honorary lifetime contract with the Kernels. Now I can finally put Minor League Baseball player on my resume. It’s pictured at the very bottom along with the fouls balls I caught in Cedar Rapids and Peoria. If I could choose any ballpark from our trip to visit again, it would be this one. Final: Kernels 8, Cougars 1. Best: The baseball atmoshpere. You fans know what I’m talking about. Worst: No souvenier cups. It’s a small thing, but I like to take the plastic cups home, wash them out, and drink a beer. It reminds me of the games I’ve been to.
Photos property of MIB