Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: That’s all she wrote for this season of Little League baseball. Not much changed from my last entry, as it continued to be a frustrating season for Brian and his team. The Diamondbacks ended the season 5-14, good for eight in the 10 team league. The D-backs also bowed out in the first game of the playoffs, so a very different end to the season as Brian was hoisting a championship trophy at the end of June last year.
The old saying is, that you can always learn more by losing, and if that’s the case then that is definitely the silver lining for this season. Life parallels baseball so much, and there are so many lessons to be learned. Sometimes you work hard and get a hit or make a solid play. Sometimes you miss one, and you have to put it behind you and work a little harder on the next one. Life, as in baseball isn’t always fair. You don’t always get what you earn, and sometimes you even get called out on a strike below the knees.
That being said, he still had a very good season, and I’m very proud of the way he played. He still hit over .500, which is impressive even off of a hitting machine. He improved on his catching and fielding, but we still need to work on throwing mechanics. Brian showed a better overall understanding of the game, where the play was heading and where to throw the ball if it came to him. At times during the season, Brian also showed signs of being a good leader on the team, cheering on his teammates and keeping a positive attitude, and I’m very proud of him for that. I really think he enjoys the game, too, as every day he asks if we can play catch or play one of our ‘Brianball’ games out in the yard. Fall ball starts up here the end of August and he’s looking forward to that, but I think he’s happy this small chapter of his baseball career has come to an end.
Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: Well, we’re almost a month into the season, and the North Oldham Little League season for the Diamondbacks isn’t going as planned. After starting out 2-0, the D-backs rattled off seven straight losses before breaking the slump on Saturday afternoon. Then they lost on a walk off in extra innings the next night. Brian went through a little slump of his own, although not very long. Being buried at the bottom of the lineup, he had a couple of game where he was 0-1 (yes, three out of four games during the stretch he only had one at bat). But we tweaked some things, and he’s back to being one of the best hitters on the team. From my calculation, he’s now hitting .647 this season. With all honesty, though, I think I missed a game in there somewhere, with all of the cancellations and re-scheduled games. Speaking of which…
If you’re wondering why we haven’t been to any more college or minor league games, the simple answer is that little league has become all-consuming. It’s not really the game schedule, but the re-scheduling that’s been hindering our plans to see other games. Even when we get a nice day on the weekend, more than likely the boys will be playing a make-up game due to all the rain we’ve had the last four weeks. Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s no place I’d rather be than watching Brian play, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to chill and watch a Bats game, or something. We do have tickets for this Sunday, but…. 90% chance of rain…
Back to Brian’s season. He’s been stuck in the outfield most of the time, which he doesn’t like, but has made the best of it when he gets his chances in the infield. He’s played some pitcher, second base, and his favorite: first base. He did well, and caught everything that was thrown to him, but only got to play there one inning so far this season. He’s keeping his chin up, though, and I’m teaching him to only worry about the things he can control, and do his best wherever the coach puts him. He had the chance to catch a couple of innings, though, but didn’t end up liking it. The mask didn’t fit well, and he took a couple of pitches in the foot. Maybe I can talk him into being catcher again later on in fall ball. He still has half a season left, and as long as he keeps doing his best and having fun, we’ll call it a win!
Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: How nice is this, that Brian is playing outside in nice weather? In April! Brian’s back in Rookie ball this season, this time suiting up for the Diamondbacks, and ready to pursue another championship. The North Oldham Little League does a great job promoting itself, and has a pancake breakfast and parade to kick off the season. Unfortunately, do to work, we were unable to make this early morning festivities, but he’s made the two out of the three games so far (Tuesday night we had tickets to WWE Smackdown Live that we bought well in advance).
The first game of the season the D-backs won 13-4. Brian went 2-3 with an RBI at the dish. In the field, he made some nice plays and had some good catches to pitch in defensively. In the second game, the D-backs held on to win 6-5. Brian scored the game-winning RBI in the fifth inning on his second hit of the night. He was 2-2 with two ribeye steaks. He didn’t get anything hit to him in the field, so he was actually mad after the game. A little ice cream cheered him up, though. I’ll probably kick out a mid-season report in a few weeks!
Louisville Cardinals vs. Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (NCAA)
Jim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY: It officially begins, the 2017 baseball season. As it was, Saturday was the coldest day here in Louisville, so obviously, that’s the only game we were able to make. A little cold weather isn’t enough to ruin our baseball fun, however, (even though Brian looks miserable in the photo). With Papa down visiting from Michigan, we were all happy to be at Jim Patterson Stadium for our first ballgame of the year.
On the hill for the Cards, Kade McClure earned the win, pitching six innings while striking out nine. He only gave up one hit and walked only three. In relief, Sam Bordner and Shay Smiddy preserved the shutout for Louisville.
On the offensive side, Louisville was led by Colby Fitch, who went 2-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Also, Brendan McKay was being Brendan McKay, going 2-2 with a run and an RBI, while Drew Ellis went 2-3 with a run and RBI, also. Nebraska-Omaha didn’t do themselves any favors, either, committing four errors. In the end, it was a blowout and a shutout for the Cardinals. Final: Cardinals 10, Mavericks 0.
Despite the cool temperatures, it was a fun day of baseball, and it wasn’t over with the Cards. We had to rush back to the OC, so Brian could take part in his Little League evaluation, as the draft was on Sunday. Here’s a photo below from his eval. Not sure when we’ll see Louisville at home next, but have plans to visit Lexington in a couple of weeks. As for me, I’m just glad the baseball season has begun.
It’s that time of year, again, to look back at all the fun things in terms of baseball that we accomplished. For the second year in a row, we missed out on a baseball trip, so the list won’t be all that diverse when it comes to location. That’s not a terrible thing, however, as we moved to Kentucky this year and reaped the benefits of living in an area with plenty of college, independent, minor league, and major league baseball nearby. If the list was to 10, it would have included my birthday, where I was able to spend a fun day with my boys at the Louisville Slugger Museum and a Bats game, but we did other fun stuff that made the cut. So, without further ‘ado’ let’s get to it…
9) Star Wars Night: Star Wars will always be a hit, and this year we went to the event at our new home field in Louisville. The Bats host a decent night of space adventure fun, and the game itself was a walk-off win. Even Boba Fett was there, who we missed last year, so it capped off a great night.
8) Our first Reds game: Our first Cincinnati Reds game was a great experience. We took a boat from Newport across the river to avoid traffic and parking, and that avoided a lot of my stress of visiting a Major League game. We got great seats off of Seat Geek, so we were able to get a great view of the game, and Brian got a game ball from Eugenio Suarez. It was a hot day, but worth it to take in the Great American Ballpark in all it’s glory. It’s an amazing place to watch a game, and although the Reds had a rough season, the games are always fun!
7) Whitecaps Opening Day: Opening Days are always fun, even if there is snow on the ground, and the temps are more suited for hockey. We wanted to get a Whitecaps game in before the move, and give my dad a fun birthday present at the same time. Despite the cold, we had a great time together, and every trip we make back to Michigan during the season, we will always try to work in a Whitecaps game. In a strange way, the weather was a fitting ‘goodbye’ for us.
6) Our first Cards game: Sometimes you go someplace that just feels like ‘home’. That’s exactly what happened to us when we entered Jim Patterson Stadium for the first time in early March. Before Minor League opening day, and while down doing some house hunting, we couldn’t resist taking in a ball game. This is a great venue, and the Louisville Cardinals have a good baseball program, so this was a fun game for sure. It’s hard to believe the games are free with the ACC being such a competitive conference, so no surprise they pull in some good crowds. With my love for college baseball growing with every game, Cardinal baseball will be a staple in our lives for years to come.
5) Y’All Star Game: We lucked out, as the Frontier League All Star, or Y’All Star, Game was held in Florence, KY this season. We’re pretty familiar with the independent Frontier League, spending some time at some of the Beach Bums games in Traverse City. We were able to cheer on some of our Bums, as well as players from the home town Florence Freedom. The game hosted mascots from the Reds and other Frontier League teams, as well as Jake the Diamond Dog, and Myron Noodelman who was absolutely hilarious. In all, just an enjoyable night of baseball, and we’ll definitely make it back to Florence for a Freedom game next summer.
4) Loons Uniform and Logo Unveiling: It’s not too often you are able to enjoy a baseball event in February, but that’s just what we did when the Great Lakes Loons hosted an event to showcase the teams new logo and uniforms. Along with seeing the new logos, the mascots Lou E. Loon and Ral E. Camel entertained us. Brian was able to get his face painted and took the mic to try his hand at announcing. We ended the day by taking some cuts in the batting cages under Dow Diamond. Not a bad way to spend a winter day. I also wanted to add, that the Loons took their new look all the way to the 2016 Midwest League Championship!
3) Rose Number Retirement: Everyone has an opinion on Pete Rose, and whether you love him, or hate him, he is without a doubt one of the best hitters in the history of this great game! I met my best friend in Newport, and we had a great time at the ballgame, and seeing Reds legends like Rose and Johnny Bench in the pre-game ceremony. Like him or not, I did get to witness some history. 14 forever!
2) The San Diego Chicken!: Just like the afore mentioned Bench, I grew up watching the San Diego Chicken on the TV show The Baseball Bunch. He is far and above other mascots, and the skits he puts on are flawless and amazing. The Chicken has a magical presence that keep both children and adults tuned in to his every move. He was nice enough to meet with all his fans, also, and definitely made another one in Brian. This was an amazing night at the Bats game with the Chicken.
1) Mariners win the Championship!: Brian has really prospered from the move, but nothing more than what he’s been able to accomplish on the ballfield. He was lucky enough to join the Mariners a handful of games into the season when we moved down. The league down here is very different, and a lot more competitive. Brian fit right in, however, and had a great season at the plate. He was blessed with good coaches who pushed him hard but also let the kids have some fun. Being part of this team was a great experience and I’m glad he was able to be a part of it. The championship game was probably harder on me, but the kids were able to hang on for the win.
Looking ahead to 2017: I’m really looking forward to next season, and the adventures that baseball will take us on. We’ll have a full season with the Cardinals and Bats to look forward to, and the ACC Baseball championship here at Slugger Field, also. Brian will be playing ball again so we’ll keep tracking his success as he moves up a level next season. I’m looking forward to visiting new ballparks, especially some others here in Kentucky such as Lexington and Bowling Green. I wouldn’t mind hitting the road, either, for trips to Evanston, IN or Nashville, TN that aren’t all that far away, either. Until then, I wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas!
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: It seems as it just started, but Brian’s fall ball league has come to an end. I’m really happy that he chose to keep playing, and I think he had a good time. Honestly, I really didn’t pay too much attention to his team’s record, although I’m pretty sure they won more than they lost, and there are no playoffs. He got a chance to play some other positions, also, finding he likes to play some infield. He still needs to work on his throwing mechanics a little, but he’s fielding pretty good. Brian had a solid fall season at the dish, also. He hit well over .500, going 3-3 in two consecutive games. After that second one, he was given the game ball by his coach as player of the game. He had some good coaching this fall, as well, as they stayed very positive and stressed fun and learning above all else. He’s excited to play next year, and spring can’t come soon enough.
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: Wow, I really love it down here! It’s amazing that my son can play a fall sport without it being soccer or football! The North Oldham Little League fall ball program is a good one, and Brian is having fun so far. Not quite as many kids play though, so instead of team names, they just have colors, but the coaches have dubbed their team the Blue Sharks. The fall league is more of an instructional league, with the kids being able to experience different positions every inning. We’re blessed again with good coaching, and they try to go above and beyond to help the kids out with the fundamentals of the game.
The team is 1-1 so far this season, and Brian is playing well, hitting .500 and doing well in the field. He’s been able to play a few different positions in Fall Ball, also, so it’s a little more fun and the kids won’t get bored playing in the same place all of the time. The season is just getting started, and they play through the first of October. Hopefully it might cool off just a little bit down here by then. The first couple of games the temps were still in the 90 range!
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: I honestly don’t know where to start! First off, I guess we can congratulate the Mariners on winning the North Oldham Little League Rookie Division championship! It was not an easy road, and there were many good teams in this league. The Mariners finished third in their division and received a first round bye. They faced the Indians in the quarter-finals, and won by the score of 4-2, with Brian getting the game-winning RBI. In the semi-finals, they went against the Royals, a team they haven’t beat all year. The Mariners won a tough battle, however, winning 6-4 on a hot 90 degree day at noon, to head to the championship. The Mariners were down 5-0 in the first, then battled back for the win. Their opponent in the final game was the Padres, the team that won the division in the regular season. This time it was the Mariners who jumped out to a lead, 3-0 in the first, then added a pair in the middle innings. The Padres stormed back in the fifth, scoring four runs, but the M’s held them off in the sixth for a 5-4 championship victory! Here are a couple of shots of Brian in the final:
The championship aside, though, I still believe this team was the best fit for Brian. The coaches never preached winning, but focused on having the kids be positive, work hard, and have fun playing the game of baseball. From there, the winning just sort of took care of itself. I really think Brian learned more about being part of a team and earning something you’ve worked hard for, as much as he did about the game of baseball. Their coach told the boys to enjoy this, as it may be the only championship they ever win, and he could be right about that. My last year in Little League was the one and only time I’ve seen glory in all my years of playing. I’m glad he’s tasted victory, but if he keeps on playing and loving this game, it’s sure to break his heart at some point. But that’s something I’ll start preparing for next year. This big win sparked him to want to play Fall Ball and to keep working hard at the sport, so that gives us something to look forward to in a couple of months.
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: Brian has had no problem fitting into our new environment here in Kentucky. In fact, he suited up for the Mariners and played his first game within the first few days. I was honestly hesitant on whether to sign him up or not, knowing he wouldn’t have any practices, and playing in a more competitive league than he’s used to. Brian put all my concerns to rest after his first game, however. He went 1-2 at the plate, and played well. More than anything, his smile after the game, and the simple statement “I had fun” was all I needed to hear. Yeah, he may be a step behind some of the other players, but at the same time he is contributing to his team, and is a step ahead of others.
I also have to say that I’m very impressed with the North Oldham Little League organization, and the coaches involved. The kids play in a beautiful facility at Walsh Park as well. The coaches don’t baby the kids, but treat them like young men, and at the same time stressing for them to relax and have fun. I honestly think that he’s made more friends on the field than he has at his new school, also. Overall, this has been a great move for us, especially from a baseball perspective. They’ve had a couple of rainouts, but look to be making some games up this weekend and early in the week. I’ll post more updates as his season progresses.
Lake Superior State University-Sault Ste. Marie, MI: Last week Brian participated in his last clinic hosted by the Lake Superior State Lakers softball team. Pictured above, is him acting silly with two of his favorite players. They are always really nice to him, and were sad to hear that he’s moving away. Brian had a good time running through the basic drills and hitting off of the tee. He tired out a bit in the second hour of the clinic, though. I’ve always appreciated the clinics and camps that the Lady Lakers have made available to both the girls and boys throughout the years. Lily started attending when she was young, with her brother following suit. I’m sure we’ll take advantage of all the camps down in Kentucky with all of the colleges and pro teams in the area. This has also been an fairly easy winter up here, so we’re really hoping the Lakers are able to play their first home game in four years, so we can see them one last time.