Rain Delays

Rain delays. No other sport has delays like baseball. It’s just another aspect of baseball that makes the game the national pastime.

As a fan, before Jumbo Trons and Video Boards, rain delays were spent reading and re-reading the program. Or wandering around the distant reaches of Candlestick Park. Sometimes it meant eating a lot. Oh wait a minute, I always ate a lot at the ballpark.

In my book, a true baseball fan has to do three things and only three things.

1. Root for a losing team.

2. Sit through a rain delay.

3. Listen to more games on the radio than you watch on TV

That’s it. Pretty simple, eh?

Rain delays somehow cause fans to come together. It’s hard to explain, but when I was going to games there was always something different about being at a game that was being delayed. It was almost as if we were all in it together, sitting there, braving the rain waiting patiently for the game to start. Sometimes hoping it would start. Those crowds would always seem to have more energy, more life. Maybe that’s because in a way it was a rebirth once the game started and the rain stopped.

Matt Williams, when he was with the Giants, used to do a great Babe Ruth impersonation during rain delays.

About now you’re probably just how many I sat through in San Francisco. Well, I don’t know. I’m guessing more than ten and less than 20. The truth is that it just doesn’t rain all that much out there during the baseball season.

Shawon Dunston of the Cubs used to put on a good show during rain delays. He’d have fun slipping and sliding, entertaining the fans.

Occasionally you’ll see a player in the big leagues messing around during a delay, but not very often. The game has changed. The business of the game has changed.

As the saying goes, it is what it is.

So the next time you are at Metro Bank Park, or any park for that matter, and the game is being delayed, take the opportunity to say hello to someone near you. Make a new friend. Remember you’re in it together, those of you hanging out waiting for the rain to stop.

So as the rain continues to fall at Prince Georges Stadium tonight in Bowie, I think I’ll get up and go make a new friend.

Until next time, go Sens.

 

 

 

 

Coming and Going…

The Sens have had a pretty good week winning a couple of road series and splitting the first two games at home. The exciting thing about being home in the opening of the new Capital BlueCross Boardwalk.  Watching the reactions of fans the past two nights has been a lot of fun. And seeing people surround the playing field makes it seem we are in a big league ballpark.

One of the wonderful things about working in AA, or at any level of the minor leagues, is getting an opportunity to watch future major leaguers while still in an intimate atmosphere. Off the top of my head, I’d have no idea how many players I’ve watched the first four plus seasons in the Eastern League that have made the big leagues. But it’s a bunch, that’s for sure.

As much as Metro Bank Park feels more big league it is definitely not the big leagues. For the players, the pay is obviously much better in the big leagues but so is everything else. No more late night delivery from Gino’s Pizzeria or the long bus rides. Being in the big leagues means chartered air travel… not handling your own bags… and being in lush surroundings in the clubhouse.

The players aren’t the only people trying to reach the big leagues though, all of us aspire to reach a higher level, maybe a better job within baseball. For me, it is a big league radio job. For others here, it’s getting to a place that maybe they’ve always dreampt about like running the New York Yankees. For one person with the Sens front office, she is moving onward and upward trying to reach more goals. 

Today is the final day Director of Picnic Operations and unofficial social director Melissa Altemose is working for the team. She’ll be back for a couple of games between now and early June, but today is her last full-time day. Though we are separated by a whole lot of years in age, Melissa and I both started with the Senators in 2005.  She is leaving to take a job with the Washington Wizards of the NBA, joining former front office staff member Tony Duffy who is also with the Wizards.

I have no doubt that Melissa will someday be running a minor league team if she so desires. Or working the front office on the sports side of a professional organization.  Here’s to wishing Melissa good luck in all of her future endeavors! 

Time

Last night in Erie the Senators and SeaWolves played 10 innings and the game took three hours and forty-eight minutes. You read that right… Three. Forty. Eight. If you don’t know the outcome you’re probably thinking that it was a 15-14 type of game with a lot of action.

Nope. 4-3. There were however 20 strikeouts and fifteen walks. Strikeouts and walks take a lot of pitches and a lot of pitches mean games move slowly.

Don’t get me wrong, there was some outstanding pitching in the game as both teams left numerous runners in scoring position because of great pitching. And there was some great defense too. Edgardo Baez threw a runner out at third, and Luke Montz was thrown out at home by Brennan Boesch of the SeaWolves.

But this blog isn’t really about last night’s game, it’s about time.

Last night’s game started at 6:35pm local time, which meant it was over by 10:30pm even with the game lasting 3:48, it was still over by 10:30pm.

The World Series has started later and later over the years to the point that at 10:30, without the games being played slowly, the games are in the fifth or sixth inning. At 10:30pm EDT, they are in just the fifth or sixth inning.

Keep in mind that with those games, the typical break between each half-inning is something like 2:30, which means with 17 half inning breaks, makes for over 30 minutes of commercials during a game.

It also means that games are ending, even the “quick” games, between 11:30 and Midnight.

In case you hadn’t heard, MLB and Fox announced yesterday that all of the weekday World Series and ALCS games would start before 8:00pm. They were gleeful in this announcement. Like they had accomplished something major. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you the actual start time, 7:57pm. Yep, a whole three minutes before 8:00pm.

I’m wondering if any of you know how many major league games will start this week at 7:57pm? Anyone know the answer? Ferris?

I do.

None. Zippo. Nada. As a matter of fact, the latest local starting time for any game this week is 7:15pm with most night games starting at 7:00 or 7:05pm.

I just wonder how all of those teams manage to get fans in the stands and home watching the games since prime-time hasn’t started yet. I realize no one in America watches any TV before prime-time, but somehow for six months starting at that time makes sense for baseball teams, but not for the playoffs.

The worst part of all of this is that Fox made the announcement, as if they control what baseball does.

Oh wait, my bad. They do.

The NLCS has not announced any changes because there games are on TBS. Heaven forbid baseball actually control when the games start.

I wonder if the world would end if World Series games started at say, 7:15pm and were over by say, 11:00pm!?!?

The single biggest televised sporting event in America, the Super Bowl, starts at 6:30pm EST on a Sunday night. Supposedly the worst night of the week for Nielsen ratings, and yet it seems to do just fine.

Somehow in the “old” days the World Series was pretty popular and was actually played, gasp, in the daytime. Imagine that, day baseball!?!?

Okay… that’s it. I’ll get off the old soap box for now! By the way, downtown Erie is gorgeous today. And it looks like a great day for a run. So, I need to get moving and get outside, the streets of Erie are beckoning me.

And besides, time is starting to slip away on this fine Tuesday!

 

Streaking…

Baseball is a game of streaks and statistics. What other sport has so many numbers so closely related to it?

For example, what does 714 or 755 mean to you? Well of course you know that is the number of home runs Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron hit in their careers.

Tell me, how holds the all-time rushing record in the NFL and how many yards?

Almost all baseball fans know that 300 wins by a pitcher is an incredible accomplishment and is nearly an automatic berth in the Hall of Fame.

There isn’t a comparable number in either the NBA or NFL. Whether baseball is the most popular sport now is certainly debateable. The fact that literally MILLIONS of fans attend games says that it’s still pretty popular.

Yesterday alone over 380,000 fans attended major league games for an average of over 29,000. And remember, there are games today, and tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday… well you get the picture. The games aren’t once a week or two or three times a week, but… Every. Single. Day.

It’s easy to understand injuries in football because of the violent collisions and in hockey with banging into the boards. But in football the players have a week between games and in hockey they are only on the ice for 90 seconds to 2 minutes at a time.

The next time you see a ground ball bang off the shin of the short stop, you just think back to when you were a kid and got a bruise there and how badly it hurt. And then remember that that particular short stop is going to keep playing, every day, with that bruise among others. Baseball may not be the physical game the others are but it is an everyday grind.

As I’ve mentioned before, this year the Senators will spend about 10,000 miles on a bus, play 142 games in 151 days, and spend over 1,200 hours at ballparks this summer. Is it hard work, no, is it work, yes.  

All of this makes some streaks easier than others. For instance, the start this season by the Senators has been bad, but playing everyday makes it difficult to step back and take a deep breath, maybe after a couple of days of not playing, and regroup. Instead they come to the ballpark everyday, with no break, and try to break out of their collective slumps.

Ryan Zimmerman just had a 30 game hitting streak snapped this past week in San Francisco. 30 games. That is a month’s worth of getting a hit in every game. How many of  you out there play slow pitch softball? Do you get a hit in every game for 30 games? Now thinking about playing against pitchers throwing 90+ miles per hour and getting hit. Every. Day.

Hats off to Ryan Zimmerman and his 30-game streak. And hats off to the Sens who snapped their 15-game road losing streak last night. Here’s hoping they start a winning streak tonight.  

 

  

 

 

 

Morning Baseball…

When I was a youth the Giants actually played doubleheaders on most Sundays, along with various other days throughout the week. My Dad and I would have to leave Sacramento, or I should say, I forced him to leave Sacramento by 8:30am to get to Candlestick no later than 10:30am. Back in those days teams actually opened the gates to the ballpark two hours early, but they didn’t play the game at 10:30am I just wanted to get there at 10:30am!

Well as most of you know the minor leagues love playing early games early in the season for their various school programs. So here I sit in the radio booth at Canal Park in Downtown Akron for this mornings 10:30am game. This after not getting to sleep until about 2am because of various work that had to get done before this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t mind these games after they are done. And neither do the players. But given they are always scheduled after a night game means there is always a quick turnaround. Last night was a three-hour game which meant that most of us arrived back at the hotel at around 11:30pm. The 6:45am alarm this morning came way too soon.

These games in the morning are always fun because of the different level of excitement in the crowd. When I was seven, eight, nine years old making those trips to the ‘Stick, I would yell and scream everytime Willie McCovey or Bobby Bonds hit a popup, just like the kids this morning will do.

There’s a shrill instead of a humm at these games, which is fun and different too. These games are certainly different though from when I was a youngster.

Back then, men were still wearing Fedora’s to the ballpark and smoking cigars and cigarettes and there wasn’t any sound except for the booming public address announcer and organ. Oh yes, I forgot, on those Sunday games there was a four-piece dixieland style band playing music at different times throughout the day.

Well the gates are open here and the kids are streaming in by the hundreds if not thousands. I need to get ready for the game and broadcast! The Sens need to use some of the energy here to snap their long losing streak!

I’ll write more tomorrow when we’re finally back home at Metro Bank Park!

 

Tough April

Okay, I know it has been a long time but it has been a very busy month.

The team is off to a tough start so luckily (at this point) there are still over 120 games left to turn things around. A couple of years ago Trenton started something like 0-11 and 4-20, something like that and they went on to win the Eastern League Championship. The moral of the story is that it’s not too late to get things turned around, but things need to start turning quickly.

On a positive note, the new video and sound system at Metro Bank Park have been very well received by the fans. The new boardwalk isn’t ready just quite yet, but should be ready sometime in early to mid May, which should create quite the buzz. There are updated pics here.

We finally get back to town this weekend after the longest road trip of the season, eight days and seven games. And there are some big doings this weekend but none bigger than the 23rd annual UCP/Senators Sports Memorabilia auction. This auction has raised over $1,000,000 during its first 22 years! Come on on out this Saturday, there’s bound to be something you’ll find interesting!

Back to baseball, not a whole lot has gone right which means once it finally does, things are going to go wild for a couple of weeks. This team is too talented to play like this for very long. 

How about Jordan Zimmermann? Two starts in the big leagues for the former Senator and two wins. He is going to be sensational in the Bigs.

Well I’m about 15 minutes from airtime tonight in Akron so I better get going. Lets hope for a “W” tonight, eh?

Terry 

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!