March 2009

Winter is winding down

Okay so the other day I told you all I’d update you on the baseball side of things.

Have you been following the Nationals and how they’ve been doing in spring training? The Nats are 12-13 entering play today. If they could play around .500 this season they would be tickled pink. After losing 100+ games last year, getting themselves to around break even would represent a huge improvement.

Their front office has spoken openly about developing from within and they have shown a commitment to their farm system over the past couple of years and especially this spring training.  There have been 25 former Senators play this spring training with the Nats. As a group, the hitters have struggled in their 201 at bats hitting just .219. Although former Senator Ian Desmond is having himself quite a spring hitting .357 in twelve games to lead all the former Sens. He is making the most of his opportunity with the Nats this spring.

On the mound, the former Sens have combined to go 6-4 with a solid 3.55 ERA in 124.1 innings pitched. Jordan Zimmermann and Shairon Martis have been fantastic this spring and they both have apparently earned spots in the Nationals rotation to start the season. Along with former Senator John Lannan, former Sens now make up 3/5 of the Nationals rotation to start the season. Garrett Mock and Mike Hinckley are still in the mix of things as they try to earn bullpen spots with the Nats.

It’s pretty exciting that if you make the trip down to DC to watch the Nats that you’ll stand a pretty good chance at seeing a former Senator starting the game on the mound! That is what makes following minor league baseball so much fun!

This is, unbelievably enough, the last Sunday in March. This is an exciting time of the year if you’re a sports fan. Let’s see, the NCAA tournament is heading towards the final four and finals next weekend; golf, yes golf, is heating up with the Masters starting in a week and a half; the NBA and NHL winding their seasons down and heading towards their two-month long playoffs; and of course a week from tonight the 2009 Major League Baseball season gets underway! That’s a lot going on!

Work continues at the ballpark and every day there is much done. The only area left to be fenced in is in center field, and that’ll get done this week. The final pieces of the video board installation start this week and will be finalized early next week. I can’t wait to get back from our season opening road trip to see the home opener and see all the new video components.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and we’ll talk to you on Monday!

Time

Hello again everyone! Yes, I know it has been a while since I’ve had time to get one of these done! Time has just completely slipped away from me. Well actually it hasn’t slipped away but more like it has rushed away. I can’t believe that two weeks from today we’ll make our way over to Reading for the season opener.

For nearly all of us working in minor league (or major league) baseball this time of the clock doesn’t mean anything. There are pretty much only two reasons to look at the clock right now. The first reason is to make sure you’re not late for an appointment and the second is to see how late you’re going to be that night. I try to be home by 6:30pm so that I can have dinner with my wife since I won’t for much of the next five months.

We all have about three pages of “to do’s” before April 16 (for me April 9) and I think we’re all feeling the pressure. The good news is that it’s this way every year. And the even better news is that when we step outside, we see a brand new video board and a whole lot of steel work, which is VERY exciting.

The ballpark. We are getting a lot of questions about the ballpark and whether it’ll be done by our home opener. So here is my definitive answer on this, I have no idea. I’m not sure anyone knows since there are variables like weather etc. that will affect the construction timeline for the next three weeks. What I know for sure is that there will be a field, a new fence and new home run dimensions, a new video board which is amazingly big, 200 feet of new LED ribbon boards, and a whole lot of really impressive steel!

If you want to see for yourself what is happening with the construction, then come on next Saturday, April 4th, for our annual FanFest! We’re holding it from noon until 3pm. And we’re having ballpark tours, which I’m hosting, and I’ll tell you all about the progress, show you the home clubhouse, the new video board control room in the press box and then we’ll take a walk around the warning track and you’ll get an up close look at all the work going on.

Yes I know this is a baseball blog and I haven’t touched on baseball at all! I will tomorrow, I promise! As for now, time is already rushing by this morning and it’s time to get to some work!

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking Towards Opening Day

Hello everyone. I’ve missed all of you the past couple of days but it was a busy weekend with baseball, hiking, and a little BBQing.

This was the first weekend of what felt like spring here in central PA. The weather was so nice that Liz and I were able to get out for a long jog on Saturday and then yesterday we went on a nine-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. I have several books on the trail and am thrilled to live so close to it.

How many of you have been watching the World Baseball Classic? There have already been some fantastic games, but I’m I the only person that thinks this should be played sometime other in March? How can we really see who the best teams are when the pitchers are on such strict pitch counts? Isn’t pitching supposed to be 90% of the game? One of the amazing things about the Classic is how the fans really get involved in the games, it’s great!

Over the weekend the final pieces of the old scoreboard were removed so now all that’s left is the structure. The new one should be in place in about three weeks. A lot of work took place late last week and on Saturday. This week things should start going “up.” Up until now a lot of the work has been prep work, digging ditches, getting the foundation done etc.

It’s good that things are moving along since the players will show up four weeks from today. Yeah, you read that right, the 2009 Harrisburg Senators arrive in town four weeks from today. The season begins four weeks from Thursday in Reading.

A couple of housekeeping notes…

FanFest is scheduled for Saturday, April 4th. Keep checking our website for information about the FanFest.  The 2009 Welcome Back Dinner is Wednesday, April 8th.

I’ll have an update on the former Sens with the Nats tomorrow and on Wednesday I’ll give you all an update about the former Sens in the World Baseball Classic.

Until tomorrow, have a great night! 

 

 

 

 

 

Going… going… gone…

No, it wasn’t a home run hit by a Sens player, it was the scoreboard and adverting panels being demolished. Today was the first step to a brand new state-of-the-art scoreboard that has all of us with the team very excited!

That’s not all that was happening today as there was more going on today with construction than in any single day yet this off-season. For the first time today it really felt like we were in a construction zone and it was pretty cool.

The nice weather also made me feel like baseball is getting closer. Five weeks from right now I’ll be in Reading broadcasting the season opener. I’m very interested in finding out who will be wearing a Senators uniform to start the season.

Someone I don’t think will be wearing a Senators uniform is Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann started yesterday against the Mets and went three innings, striking out three and not allowing a base runner. He has now appeared in two games, going five innings without allowing a hit or a walk. He’s struck out six and has retired all 15 batters he has faced. In the immortal words of Mel Allen, how about that!  Zimmermann is not your typical high profile big-time prospect. He is not from some well known division one school but from division three University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, not exactly a baseball factory.

If he keeps throwing the way he’s been throwing and opening up eyes, he’s going to find himself in the Nationals starting rotation. There are other former Sens that are doing pretty well thus far in spring training. Luke Montz and Roger Bernadina both had hits in the game yesterday and are both showing that they want a spot on the Nats 25 man roster.

The World Baseball Classic is underway with the American team starting play in a couple of days. On Friday I’ll highlight the former Sens players in the WBC. Until then, happy reading!

It’s a beautiful day…

This morning my wife and I were talking about the group U2 and their ages. We were both shocked to find out they are all in their 40s and not older. They formed in 1976, apparently as teenagers. So today’s title of “It’s a beautiful day…” is not just about what happened yesterday in Nats land but as a little tribute to U2.

 

It may have been just a spring training game, but a walk-off home run is a walk-off home run. Roger Bernadina ended the game on Monday between the Nationals and Team Italy by hitting a three-run home run. Bernadina is taking big steps towards making the Nationals. John Lannan and Shairon Martis combined to shut Italy down for six innings. Lannan was a starter last year for the Nationals but Martis is trying to make the big club out of spring training for the first time. He was up with the Nats last year.

Along with the former Sens trying to make the Nats roster, there are also former Sens trying to make various major league rosters. I’m hoping I haven’t missed anyone, but here are the Sens that have been here sometime the past four seasons that are vying for a spot on a big league roster:

         Jhonny Nunez, Chicago White Sox, 2g 2ip

         Rich Rundles, Cleveland Indians, 2g 2ip

         Armando Galarraga, Detroit, 1g 2ip

         Jonathon Albaladejo, NY Yankees, 1g 2.2ip

         Chris Schroder, Oakland, 2g 2ip

         Jerome Williams, Oakland, 1g 1ip

         Prentice Redman, Seattle, 3 x 13

         Brandon Watson, Arizona, 4 x 9

         Josh Whitesell, Arizona, 2 x 9

         Edgar Gonzalez, San Diego, 3 x 7

As I said, I may have missed someone.

Unlike Monday, today actually makes you think spring is around the corner. From my understanding, the next few days are going to be even nicer. We have some big doings here at the ballpark that I’ll share with you tomorrow!

By the way, this is your first peak as the official release hasn’t gone out yet but our FanFest is April 4 this year and it will be held here at the ballpark. Be sure to mark that date on your calendar. There will be a lot of cool things going on that day here and you’ll have a chance to see for yourself how the construction is coming along.

Speaking of construction, I’m told that next week we should start to see things really happening. Up until this point a lot of the work that has gone on has been getting the foundation done, digging trenches etc., so things should really get moving now!

That’s it for today. Short but sweet. I’ll have more tomorrow on the game today and give you the news about our big doings.  As always, thanks for reading and talk to you soon!

Winter is back…

The calendar says March 3 but the temperature says it’s the middle of January. I think some of us wish the calendar was still in the middle of January.

I know a lot of people just think we show up on about April 5th and get everything ready for the season, but that’s not the case. This is probably the busiest month of the year for us including the season.

We are in the process of building lists of items that have to be done before the season starts and the list is nearly four pages long. It’ll all get done because it’s this way every season, but every season presents its own challenges and this season is no different.

But even with all the challenges we are all very excited. I just can’t tell you all how excited we are about the new video system. It is simply going to be amazing. And you are going to notice it right away. We are going to have the ability to entertain you in ways we never have before.

Entertainment is a huge part of what we do and what I try to do on the radio. And this year we’re certain that we’ll be able to entertain you like never before.

As for the radio, well…

On the field so far this spring the Nationals are 2-3 with plenty of former Senators seeing significant playing time. It’s fun following the spring training games with so many former Sens playing.

Here’s a rundown:

         Roger Bernadina 1 x 6

         Kory Casto 1 x 4

         Leonard Davis 1 x 4

         Ian Desmond 0 x 3

         Justin Maxwell 3 x 10

         Luke Montz 1 x 3

         Jorge Padilla 1 x 4

         Ryan Zimmerman 1 x 7

On the mound:

         Luis Atilano 1g 2ip

         Collin Balester 1g 2ip

         Jason Bergmann 1g 2ip

         Marco Estrada 1g 2ip

         Shawn Hill 1g 1ip

         Mike Hinckley 2g 2ip

         John Lannan 1g 2ip

         Shairon Martis 1g 2ip

         Garrett Mock 2g 2ip

         Michael O’Connor 2g 2ip

         Saul Rivera 2g 2ip

         Jordan Zimmermann 1g 2ip

That’s a pretty impressive list. We’ll see how that list grows as spring training moves along. Spring training is longer this year than normal with teams playing 40+ games primarily due to the World Baseball Classic.

Well that’s about if for today. I’ll have more tomorrow. Stay warm…

Baseball is coming…

Good Sunday afternoon everyone! We woke up this morning to a couple of inches of snow in central Pennsylvania, but most of it has already melted. The TV weather people are saying more snow on Monday but we’ll see.

We have had a busy couple of days in the Senators front office. Yesterday was the start of the Harrisburg Home Show at the Farm Show Complex and we set up a booth for a few hours. Randy Whitaker, Andy Brooks and myself manned the booth from around noon until a little after 2pm. The rendering of the completed ballpark drew a lot of attention and many questions. It was nice to see so many people interested in Senators baseball on the last day of February.

If you attend Hershey Bears games then you probably know we have a couple of people at every Bears game talking about the new ballpark, handing out schedules, and generally getting everyone ready for baseball season.

Speaking of baseball, the Nationals fell to the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday 9-2 to fall to 2-2 in Grapefruit League action. The bright side on Saturday afternoon was a run scoring single by Luke Montz in the ninth inning. Another former Senator, Leonard Davis, had the only other RBI. Justin Maxwell had a hit in two trips to raise his spring batting average to .333 as he tries to rebound from missing most of last season with a wrist injury.

It is a lot of fun to follow the Nats games, especially this early in the spring, because of the number of former Sens players that see action on a daily basis. In the game yesterday was nine former Senators and that has become the norm this first week of action.

Going to Florida and watching the Nats and all those former Senators sounds pretty good about now, doesn’t it? Unfortunately all of us with the front office are stuck here getting ready for the season. Well I shouldn’t really say we are all stuck here, it’s actually becoming a fun time of the year with getting ready for the season.

A couple of weeks ago we had a lot of fun at the Harrisburg Mall with our Klubhouse Kids auditions. And in case you haven’t heard, after a few days of pouring over notes, we have selected Maya and Darihus. You’ll learn a lot more about them in the coming weeks.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that yesterday was my little sister’s birthday, though she isn’t so young anymore at 37. I can still remember the day that she came home from the hospital. As you can imagine it was a bittersweet day as I no longer ruled the roost and received all the attention but then again, we’ve had a lot of great memories over the years. So Happy Birthday Karen, I love you.

Speaking of great memories, you’ll have a chance to start making memories one inning at a time next month! Doesn’t that sound good, next month!?? No longer is the start of baseball season way off in the distance. Yeah!

Okay, that’s it for today as it’s time for lunch in the Byrom household. Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday! I’ll see you all tomorrow.