Last game on Labor Day

Louisville Bats vs. Indianapolis Indians

28865844123_b09e7e9a39_zLouisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY:  Where did the summer go?  It’s definitely a sad sort of day, the last day of the Minor League regular season, which means the end of 2016 baseball for the Bats.  We were blessed with a beautiful day, however, so Trevor and I decided to take a walk down by the river before the game started.  To our surprise, WLKY was doing a live broadcast down that way covering some Labor Day events, and we ‘just happened’ to walk behind the reporter and got on the news!  Here’s the footage courtesy of Channel 32 WLKY’s YouTube (look for us at the 1:21 and 1:22 mark):

When Trevor and I were done being TV stars, we made our way into the ballpark for the last time in 2016.  We had great seats, as we settled in with our $1 hot dogs and drinks on another 90 degree day.

29525179765_db39d960d6_z29490608326_063f5fb01c_zOn the mound was Keury Mella who was making his Triple-A debut with the Bats.  He pitched a solid seven innings, only giving up three hits, one earned run, while giving up one walk, and striking out six to earn the win.  Relief pitcher Kevin Shackelford came in to get the save.

28865894773_5735d49bbd_z28865918013_927baaa987_zLouisville was lead offensively by Seth Mejias-Brean, who got the Bats on the board in the 4th with an RBI base hit.  He also added and RBI on the eighth inning with a triple.  The go-ahead run came in the seventh, off of a Tony Renda base hit. FINAL:  Bats 4, Indians 1.

28866114753_e167c7413c_z28899910304_09c3deec0e_zAgain, it’s sad that this was our last Bats game of the season, but we will still have some baseball in our future.  Brian is still playing Fall Ball, and the Louisville Cardinals will probably play some exhibition games in the coming month or so, also.  We might even make it back up to the Reds, but that’s still up in the air.  This was a fun day with my son, and feel blessed and lucky for it!

28866144303_268cded650_z28863813864_67745a4a6f_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

 

Bats & Birthdays Vol. 2

Louisville Bats vs. Indianapolis Indians (International League)

27801254214_5992093a01_zLouisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY:   The second part of our birthday adventure took us to the Bats game, as they hosted the rival Indians. Hey, if it’s my birthday, then why is Brian the one who gets to meet Buddy Bat and ride the merry-go-round??!

27765287083_901f35e03e_z28098563010_2e3e82c07a_zIt was another hot one, in the mid-nineties, as we settled in under the sun.  In all honesty, we only lasted there for a couple of innings before finding some seats in the shade.

28302203421_357a0caf25_z28135372170_9d648cba54_z27801230434_89214594ca_zThe Bats have been playing good ball lately, and this was another solid game for the home team. Louisville was lead offensively by Hernan Iribarren, who went 2-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.  Also having a good day at the dish was Donald Lutz, who contributed and  RBI going 2-4.  Jermaine Curtis and Jesse Winkler each went 1-3 with an RBI and run scored, respectively.

28385224396_d0b986b162_z27801248374_9d6f84a23f_k28385184626_4c34c41555_zOn the bump, Robert Stephenson each the victory for the Bats.  He pitched six innings, only giving up two hits, while striking out four and walking five. J.J. Hoover ended up earning the save.  FINAL: Bats 6, Indians 4.

28380964015_0cec6400db_z28385171586_8e5fd8924b_z28385175466_3f9ff0c4d0_zA fun game, despite the heat, and an all around good birthday.  I always feel very blessed and lucky to be able to have these experiences with my kids.  It was a long day for all of us, especially in the sun, but we all had a great time.  We hope to be back at Louisville Slugger Field next month when the famous Chicken will be here entertaining the crowd! Until then, here’s a little game video:

Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball

Our turn at Bats

Louisville Bats vs Durham Bulls (International League)

26133554164_36b995777e_zLouisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY:  Well, it only took us a few days in town to hit our first Bats game.  Trevor has been here before, back in 2009, but this was Brian’s first experience here.   Due to the weather, though, the pre-game kids clinic was postponed, so I’ll have to wait until June to see Brian take the field here.  He had fun playing on the playground, however, and the caro carous caris merry-go-round.  Trevor and I took a selfie with the MiLB app, and reminisced about our game here seven years ago.

26739730015_29dd465eb7_z26466820910_cb66e31f8b_z26135696073_28e55106f1_zWe sat over by the Durham Bulls bullpen, or Bull-pen, and had a great view of the game.  Brian was hoping to meet mascot Buddy Bat, but he was busy on field pretty much the whole game, and never made it into the crowd.  One of the ballpark staff members mentioned that he’s more active in the crowd during weekday games.

26739869225_18dd7cd90b_z26739859515_019bd9f970_zWe did get to see Jake the Diamond Dog, however, as his doghouse was right in front of us.  He brought flowers to a fan in the front row, brought some water to the umpires, and served as a batboy, er, batdog, for an inning.

26739842055_e682d92566_z26739835665_796bf0c721_zAs for the game, I don’t think we were much luck for the home team, as they had a six game winning streak snapped.  Right-handed pitcher A.J. Morris started the game for the Bats, throwing three scoreless innings, striking out one batter and allowing only two hits.  Relief pitcher Tim Melville took the loss, giving up two runs on two hits, including a home run.

26135796923_bf830edfb0_zAt the plate, DH Jesse Winkler lead Louisville’s limited offense going 1-4 with an RBI.  No Bats player had more than one hit in the game, but Hernan Iribbaren was 1-2 with two walks.  FINAL: Bats 1, Bulls 3.

26714056776_4d45222825_z26673237161_0e3472276c_zThe started a little about the fifth or sixth inning, but nothing that could ruin our evening at the ballpark.  It was a fun game with the boys, and I look forward to so many more here as they keeping growing.  We’ll try to drag Lily to a game or two if we can also! With the rain, I forgot to take a quick video, but I will for next game.

26714064666_1b7560e457_z26714048786_aaee9a0a06_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

Ballpark Review: Louisville Slugger Field

24623710006_defb0a449c_zPlanning our baseball trip for this coming summer, we decided to once again make a stop at Louisville Slugger Field in Kentucky. Our last trip there was way back in 2009, a tour that took to South Bend, Indianapolis, Louisville, Fort Wayne, then back to Michigan with Lansing in a nice clean loop. Unfortunately, shortly after that trip the chip that all the photos were saved on became ‘corrupted’ and I lost all but a very few I had already posted way back when I first started M.I.B.  I did, however, find a few photos that my dad took using ‘film’.  This ‘film’, as it’s called, somehow stores pictures in this little plastic thing, and then he has to take it to a store, and actually WAIT to see what they look like. Can you imagine having to wait over an hour to see the pictures you took?  Anyway, here are a few that I was able to find, and Louisville Slugger Field is a great place to watch a ballgame.  I wish I could have found one of the stadium’s façade, as it’s built into an old rain station and is absolutely amazing.  Instead we’ll have to settle for a couple of a very young Trevor before he became taller that his dad.  The ballpark is pretty big, with an area out in left field where concerts and parties can take place, rides for the kids, and a playground down the left field line. I really like that parents can see the game from the playground area, so we don’t miss anything while the kids are letting off a little steam.  I even caught a foul ball there while Trevor was busy playing.  I really liked that the concourse wraps all the way around the stadium, also.  There’s not a bad seat in the house, although the seats are structured at such an angle that the ones higher up do feel like your off the field a little too much, but with a larger Triple-A stadium it’s not unexpected.  The overhanging seats from the sky boxes don’t give off much shade, either, so if you see a day game in the summer time, you’re going to be getting plenty of sun.

24023119493_d1c1620dd5_zI really recommend seeing a game here for anyone in the area, and can’t wait to return this summer.  The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is located just down the street, also, so plenty to do in this area.  This summer, our plan is to see games in Louisville, Nashville, Lexington, Bowling Green, and Florence.  This should be a great trip if the weather is nice, and will include the South Atlantic League All-Star game in Lexington.  I actually would have hoped to be transferred to Kentucky by, but things move slowly (if it happens at all…) and if a miracle happens, I’ll already be settled there and ready to go!

A younger Trevor and I at Louisville Slugger Field in 2009
A younger Trevor and I at Louisville Slugger Field in 2009

24023117243_4115dc6626_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

UPDATE: This will be my new home field by this spring!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Return to Mudville

Toledo Mud Hens vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (International League)

mud1Fifth Third Field-Toledo, OH: Well, it’s been about seven years since our last trip to Toledo to see the Mud Hens, so it was about time we made it back to Mudville. We stayed in Findlay, so it was a fairly brief drive into Toledo. With any downtown stadium, parking can be tough, but we got there early enough to make it into the lot across the street. The weather was perfect, even though it had rained the night before. I was hoping for maybe a double-header, but the Hens finished five innings the night before to make it a complete game. We had plenty of time to get a beer and a dog for lunch, and get some shopping in. I was hoping to get Brian a Muddy mascot, but they didn’t have any for some reason. He was happy I picked him up a Ghostbusters night t-shirt, though, as he loves that movie. There was a pretty decent crowd, and, as many mid-week day games go, catered to kids and seniors. I really do love seeing kids at ball games, but when they’re brought in for groups, the counselors really need to set some rules for them. The kids next to us were in and out of their seats every inning, which can be distracting, and inconvenient for my elderly father. Before the game we also got to see Tigers’ prospect Robbie Ray getting some extra work in. He didn’t pitch on this day, but always cool to see a top prospect. The mascot Muddy also paraded some kids from a youth group around the field.

mud2mud3mud4mud5As the Mud Hens are a Tigers affiliate, I was pretty familiar with most of the players, and had seen many of them in West Michigan. The RailRiders even had former Whitecap Scott Sizemore on their roster, who was one of my favorite players from the ‘Caps 2007 Midwest League championship team. Others we’ve seen before included first baseman Jordon Lennerton, second baseman Brandon Douglas, third baseman Wade Gaynor, catcher James McCann, and Duane Below who was on the mound for Toledo. The game got off to a good start, with the Hens scoring twice in the first inning on Tyler Collins sacrifice fly, and a home run by Trevor Crowe. Gaynor hit an RBI double in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead.

mud6mud7mud8mud9mud10mud11With the Mud Hens doing well, I took the opportunity to explore the ballpark a little bit more. I love the full wrap-around concourses, and used it to get some nice shots, including a panoramic of the stadium.

mud.panmud12mud13mud14The ‘Roost’ is a set of seats connected to a neighboring building, with a great view of the game. We couldn’t buy these unfortunately, because they are always saved for a group outing. The usher, or ‘guard’, at the stairs to the Roost let me sneak up there and take a few pics, even though he made it clear he wasn’t supposed to.

mud15mud16

We were also able to see the RailRiders ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte for a few innings. He took the loss for Scranton/WB, though. I remember watching him throw back in 2009 when he was playing for the Charleston River Dogs.

mud.collageThe Hens gave up three runs in the sixth inning, but got those three right back. Both teams ended up trading runs in the eighth inning, also.  Ezequiel Carrera went 1-4 on the day with two runs scored and a stolen base, while Gaynor ended up 2-3. Below earned the win, pitching 6.2 innings, giving up the three runs, with one strike out and Kevin Whelan earned the save. Carrera also made a wicked catch in the outfield. In all, this was just a great day watching a great game, and I got a game ball to top it all off. I really love Fifth Third Field, and need to make it there much more often. Final: Mud Hens 7, RailRiders 4.

mud17mud18mud19mud20Here’s a video of the game from my YouTube channel:

All photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball

Clipped in Columbus

Columbus Clippers vs. Buffalo Bisons (International League)

clip1Huntington Park-Columbus, OH: For our official first game of our 2014 baseball trip, we travelled south into Ohio.  I’m dedicating this season’s trip to my favorite baseball movie Major League, due to its 25th anniversary, and the fact we’re visiting so many Cleveland Indians affiliates! Columbus is a great sports city, and we actually spent the day there checking out Ohio State, the Jack Nicklaus museum, and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ arena.  We arrived at Huntington Park early, so we were one of the first few fans through the gates to explore at little.  The home of the Clippers is really a nice Triple-A stadium that has many positive aspects.  There doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house, and even has a group of seats attached to a building next to it in left field. The main concession stand was an island, so you don’t always have to miss part of the game when getting a snack or a beer. The ballpark also had many bits of baseball history, and history of  the sport in Columbus, which I always find interesting. The Clippers have two mascots, Lou Seal and Krash (a parrot). Neither were active in the crowd, only on the field before the game. We were also joined by my best friend Darryl who lives near Dayton, so it was a pretty special game for us.

clip.panclip2clip3clip4clip5clip6clip7Unfortunately, we only got four innings in before the rain started. It really wasn’t all that bad at first, but then came down in buckets with thunder and lightning to boot. The storm really didn’t last that long, but the lightning stuck around long enough for them to postpone the game. The Clippers were up on the Buffalo Bisons 3-1 when the game was called, but ended up losing 5-3 when it was resumed the next day. Fans said the big prospect in the Clippers is Jesus Aguilar, and he went 1-3 in the game. Left fielder Tim Fedroff led the way for Columbus, going 2-4 with a double and RBI. On the mound, Travis Banwart started the game, but Nick Hagadone took over when it was resumed the next day, taking the loss.  Even though we only got four innings in, we had fun in Columbus and the Clippers are a must see for baseball fans. Postponed: Clippers 3, Bisons 1 (3-5 Final).

clip7clip8clip9clip10clip11clip12clip13clip.rainHere’s a video of the game from my YouTube channel:

All photos and video property of Minoring in Baseball

 

Knebel gets the call to Detroit

Corey Knebel was lights-out for the Whitecaps last season
Corey Knebel was lights-out for the Whitecaps last season

It doesn’t happen too often, when we watch a player in Single-A West Michigan one season gets the call up to the Detroit Tigers the next. In fact I believe Alex Avila is the last one who got that quick call up. This season it’s relief pitcher Corey Knebel, who just made the move to the bigs on Thursday. The Tigers drafted Knebel just last June 39th overall out of the University of Texas, where the right-hander was a highly successful closer for the Longhorns for three seasons. After the draft, he was sent to West Michigan, where he earned a 2-1 record, a 0.87 ERA, 15 saves, 41 strikeouts, and just three earned runs in 31 games. Knebel was assigned to the Erie Seawolves to begin the season, and he has been just as successful there, going 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA, one save, and 23 strikeouts. He was promoted to the Toledo Mud Hens just a week ago, giving up no runs and striking out four in just four innings of work. When asked if he thought he’d be moving up to the Tigers this soon:

“No idea,” Knebel stated to the Detroit News. “I just tried to do what I’ve been doing. My college coach taught me to fear no man, fear no hitter. That’s just what I kind of live by. I go out there and I think I’m better.”

The 6’3″ hurler certainly has the stuff to back that up. His fast ball hits up to 95 mph, and he has a nasty curve/slider combo that has made minor league batters look just silly. The Tigers look to be using Knebel to help out the depleted bullpen that has been overworked this past week. He was available to pitch in last nights’ game against the Rangers, but got no further that some warm-up pitches in the ninth inning. Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus looks to be giving him a chance to get adjusted, and looking for the right time to get him into a game.

“We’ve seen him pitch,” Ausmus said. “He has a really good curve, his makeup is supposed to be really good. He pitched in a big-time program in Texas. It’s not the major leagues, but generally those guys that come out of big programs are a little bit more stable, they get to the major leagues a little faster. But we’ll be learning about him on the go a little bit here, this staff, Jeff Jones, and myself.”

Knebel is not the first 2013 Tigers’ draft pick to get the call up (second in MLB), but he’s the first one from the last two drafts. Although he was a closer at Texas, the Tigers considered him for a starting job when assigned to the minors. It’s good for him that management realized how effective he is in the late innings. As a starter, who knows when he would have been able to earn a shot in Detroit’s rotation.

“I do love the ‘pen,” Knebel stated. “I love coming out of the bullpen. I love hearing my name called. My heart gets going. As a starter, you’re more relaxed. I don’t think I’m a relaxed person.”

To make room for Knebel, the Tigers optioned pitcher Robbie Ray back down to Toledo. We’ll definitely be watching the Tigers’ games closely for #49 to take the mound for his debut. We wont be as excited as his family that scattered to fly to Detroit from Austin, but we’re still looking forward to it.

Photo property of Minoring In Baseball