Friday, August 31, 2007

Other interesting quotes from the Gulf Coast League story

The Dugout has been a bit lax in updating this blog. Please accept all apologies. The start of football season spreads most reporters thinly, especially in Florida where there is high school, college and NFL.

On the minor league baseball front, this weekend marks the end of the regular season in most leagues. The Gulf Coast League is well into its playoffs – the champion may be crowned tonight.

We’ll have a complete look at the playoffs in the coming days. For now, wanted to share some of the quotes about the Gulf Coast League that didn’t make the story. Enjoy.

GCL Marlins third baseman Matt Dominguez:
There is a nice breeze today. They say it is going to get worse. It will get a lot worse if there is no breeze. It’s pretty humid.

GCL Cardinals pitcher Zach Russell:
You come out here thinking its going to be what you see on TV – and its not.

GCL Cardinals pitcher Deryk Hooker:
The next level, it should be more fun. Here, you just have to pay your dues.

GCL Mets pitcher Nathan Hedrick on having family visit for the game:
It’s a blast. It’s something comfortable. Being out here the whole time, you kind of get homesick. They bring a little piece of home to you. It’s something that kind of revives you to get you through the rest of the season.

GCL Cardinals manager Enrique Brito, on being a Latin-born manager:
If you have a manger that comes from those places, it makes it easier for the players to understand American baseball.

Florida Marlins pitcher Scott Olsen on his GCL memories
You are up at six or seven every morning at the field. You eat the same breakfast everyday. You have a workout for like two hours in the morning in the sun, go inside and eat the same lunch, go back out high noon play a game in the heat with no shade - sitting there doing nothing if you are not pitching. You are bored out of your mind.

You go from being 17-18 playing with fans, playing with people you know back home, playing night games and all that good stuff with people around you. And you get to the Gulf Coast and it’s 95 degrees at 12 noon and there ain’t nobody around but you and the other players. It sucks.

Cleveland Indians first baseman Travis Hafner:
I actually loved it. I remember coming out of college and we played baseball every day. After two weeks of games they gave us a pay check. I was almost like, Wow, they pay us to do this. I thought it was the greatest thing ever.

St. Louis vice president of amateur scouting and player procurement Jeff Luhnow, on why the Cardinals return to the GCL is good for Latin players:
Our experience has been that sending them straight to the Appalachian League is a really tough jump and this was a perfect intermediate step between where they are and Johnson City.

GCL Marlins catcher Brett Lawler on teammates who have cars:
“Those are the golden boys. Make sure you get friends with them because they can take you to Wal*Mart if you need them. If you want to go out, those are the people you want to call.

Lawler on communicating with teammates:
There are many different cultures and many different people coming together trying to figure out how to play this same game. Having to communicate on the field, you figure out how to speak Spanish in different ways or speak whatever you need to so that they understand you.

GCL Marlins manager Tim Cossins:
Managing is a term that you have to put at the front of it, but in my opinion you have to take it beyond just playing the game. You can’t focus solely on that because there is so much more going on at this point of development that you have to focus on. You want to mature them on the field but you also want to mature them off, and in the clubhouse because that is a big part of this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pedro is Pedro in third rehab start

The Dugout got a little treat tonight, taking in Pedro Martinez's third rehab start in St. Lucie. He fared much better than the last time out, finally looked like a pitcher that can help the New York Mets during a playoff drive.

Making his third, and by far his best, rehab start since undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason, Martinez allowed two unearned runs on two hits in five innings and struck out four in an important victory that allowed the Mets to take a two-game lead over Brevard County.

“Today I looked more like I should look than I did in the previous two outings,” said Martinez, who threw 52 of his 72 pitches for strikes. “Now I’m just hoping I can continue to do that so I can get myself back to the big club.”

The outing impressed the entourage in town to see Martinez, which included New York pitching coach Rick Peterson, bullpen coach Guy Conti and brother, former major league pitcher Ramon.

“It’s the difference between watching a NASCAR race on television and sitting next to the driver going around the track,” said Peterson, who had only seen video of Martinez’s first two rehab starts. “It was great to be able to ride with Pedro around the track a few times.”

Martinez was in a fantastic mood following the outing. The following are some of the better quotes to come from the press conference.

On his ability to work his sinker:
I wanted a ground ball to get a double play and I got it. I went back to it on the next batter and still got another ground ball. That’s what I meant to do. I’m getting ready for the big leagues. If, when I need to do that, I’m able to do that, believe me the double plays will be turned.

On his second to last pitch of the game, a high and tight fastball to Lorenzo Cain:
That was a fastball in. That was the one I really wanted to make a statement with.

On throwing 52 of his 72 pitches for strikes:
If I’m on and I’m healthy, I throw strikes. I get it over with quickly. They either hit me quickly or I get them quickly.

How close is he to returning to the majors?
If I was a reliever I’m pretty sure I’d be up there already because you don’t need to make that many adjustments to throw one inning or two.

What he would say to fans who are waiting for him to return to the majors:
I wish I was there with them but they know they want me there healthy. They want a Pedro Martinez that is going to help them. They don’t want to just see my face up there. I’m not that good looking.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Creating the "Ultimate Bobblehead Doll"

Some of the greatest promotional ideas never make it to the ballpark.

The Dugout was bouncing some weird ideas with some promotions people, media relations guys and radio broadcasters in the Florida State League. The best idea, and one which will surely never make it to a ballpark, was the 2007 Ultimate Bobblehead.

The way the group figured it, the ultimate bobblehead would have three figures on it. The first would be Long Island’s Jose Offerman menacingly wielding a bat at the second figure – a man wearing a Mike Vick jersey and restraining a dog. Watching the scene from the side is a man wearing an NBA referee’s uniform, taking bets as to the winner of the throwdown.

The arm and bat in the Offerman portion of the bobblehead would bobble, as would the head of the dog being restrained by the Vick figure. Either the head or the arm of the referee that is writing down the bets would also bobble.

Hey, it never hurts to dream.

The real Bob L. Head: Speaking of bobbleheads, congrats again to Portland for one of the best conceived and executed promotions of the year. At the beginning of the season Portland scanned the country to find the ultimate person named Bob L. Head. The promotion ended Saturday with the handing out of the dolls. Portland flew Bob L. Head from his Iowa home to Oregon to take part in the event. Nice job, guys.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Klein must ban bat-wielding Offerman immediately

You see some strange things in the independent leagues of minor league baseball. Last night something frightening happened. Former major league all-star and current Long Island shortstop Jose Offerman charged the mound wielding his bat after getting hit by a Matt Beech pitch in the second inning of Tuesday's game in Bridgeport.

Offerman reportedly swung the bat wildly at Beech, striking Bridgeport catcher John Nathans in the back of the head. Nathans left the park on a stretcher after suffering a possible concussion. Offerman eventually hit Beech in the hand with the bat, breaking a finger.

The game was delayed 20 minutes because of the melee. Offerman was ejected, then arrested by Bridgeport police. He posted a $10,000 bond and was released.

Bridgeport officials immediately called Atlantic League commissioner Joe Klein, asking that Offerman be suspended for life. Klein didn’t go that far, issuing the following statement on the League’s web site today:

The Atlantic League announced that LI infielder Jose Offerman has been indefinitely suspended based on his actions during the 8/14/2007 Long Island @ Bridgeport game.

His violation of the Atlantic League on field behavioral policy is under review and a decision on his status and that of other participants will be announced by weeks end.

It's a start, but come on Klein. The Dugout believes you have to ban Offerman permanently from the league, and quickly. This isn’t affiliated baseball where union agreements force league officials to follow a series of protocols. You have the power. Use it.

Offerman charged the mound because he thought Beech threw at him intentionally. He might be right. It doesn’t matter. As soon as Offerman took the bat to the mound and started swinging, he committed a crime. Moreover, he broke baseball’s code of conduct.

No one seems to be denying that fact. Let justice be swift. End his career. Already 38 years old, no team will pick him up after this incident. Then you can sit back and enjoy what the Bridgeport justice system does to him.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The power of Cleo, Hail to Joba and a pillw fight with a happy ending

The Dugout has been a bit lax with the blogs the past few days. Sorry for that, but sometimes life intervenes where baseball really should rule. Currently sitting in a hotel room in Lumberton, N.C., which you I-95 fans probably know is just a few miles north of South of the Boarder.

Figured you at least deserved a couple of housekeeping items.

To begin with, Cleopatra won Jupiter/Palm Beach's "Who's Then" promotion. As far as anyone can tell, it was a pretty huge upset. The former Egyptian Pharaoh defeated Marilyn Monroe in the opening round, then shocked George Washington in the semies before downing Pete Rose to take the crown.

Cleopatra won the title thanks to a huge internet push. Actually it was too big. More people voted for Cleo than attended the game, suggesting that someone may have hacked into the site. The folks at Roger Dean Stadium don't really care too much - and rightly so. The fact that an idea so dumb moved someone to try to affect an outcome is more than could have been asked for.

On a different front,'s timing on the Trenton pitching staff story couldn't have been better. Two of the players featured in that story - Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy - were called up to the big squad in the past week. Congrats guys.

Finally, Kane County fell about 500 participants shy of breaking the record for the World's Largest Pillow Fight (August 11 Promo of the Day). The day was still pretty successful for the Cougars, who broke the Midwest League's attendance record with 14,492 fans. Here's their press release:



GENEVA, IL – In the opening night of a two-game series against the Peoria Chiefs, the Kane County Cougars hosted a record-setting crowd of 14,492 fans for the Saturday evening contest. The flock of fans at Elfstrom Stadium surpassed the Midwest League single-game record of 14,452 that was set by the Cougars on August 16, 2003.

Before, during and after Saturday’s game, fans were treated to one of the most exciting nights of the season, culminating in a spirited attempt for the World’s Largest Pillow Fight sponsored by Back to Bed. Fans earnestly signed up to be a part of the fun, many bringing pillows from home, while the first 3,000 fans received mini-pillows courtesy of Back to Bed. During the attempt, feathers were flying on the outfield grass as fans laughed their way through the 90-second try. While the Cougars’ attempt came up just short (3,085 fans took part – the current Guinness World Record stands at 3,648 pillow fighters), it will be remembered as one of the most unique events in the Cougars’ 17-year history.

A pre-game autograph session, along with a fireworks show, a performance by the Jesse White Tumblers, and an opportunity for fans to run the bases after the game only added to the excitement.

“Although we fell short of breaking the record for the world’s largest pillow fight, we realize that every fan in attendance was part of a special night at Elfstrom Stadium,” Cougars General Manager Jeff Sedivy said. “Last night’s record-setting crowd was one of the most entertaining nights in the history of our organization. It was truly a great experience for our fans.”

The Cougars series continues today against the Chiefs, as both teams take the field at 2 p.m. for an intra-division battle. Kane County travels to Peoria Monday for a two-game series before continuing the road trip in Davenport, Iowa against the Swing of the Quad Cities.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pedro rehabs with a mound full of kids

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The funny thing about playing in minor league games is that everyone eventually gets treated equally.

Pedro Martinez has been rehabbing here after undergoing rotator cuff surgery last October. He's pretty much holed up in the minor league complex, keeping separate from the Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets.

He was slated to pitch last Wednesday with St. Lucie, but got rained out. The Mets were on the road the next day – a whopping 30 minutes away in Jupiter – but Martinez opted not to make the trip, choosing instead to pitch a simulated game at the Mets minor league complex.

He finally made a start for St. Lucie tonight, but never moved into clubhouse, choosing to dress in the minor league complex well away from the ballpark. Once he entered the gates, though, he could no longer duck the minor league hubbub.

The Dugout laughed as St. Lucie took the field accompanied by about 50 children who were part of a baseball camp. Dozens followed Martinez to the mound, asking him questions and shaking his hand before the National Anthem.

St. Lucie third baseman Daniel Murphy could only look over at the gathering. None of the campers joined him at the hot corner.

“That’s one of the things you are not used to,” Martinez said of the pow-wow. “It’s fun. It’s beautiful. It’s nice to see those kids out there. I think about mine and it gives me the same joy.”

Martinez said the kids told him it was nice to meet him and that they were his biggest fan.

“You recognize your spring training hat,” Martinez laughed. “It’s beautiful.”

Martinez gave the fans a little something back when he struck out designated “Taco Bell K-man of the Game” Max Leon in the second inning, earning every fan in the stadium a coupon for a free taco.

For those interested in the numbers, they we’re pretty. He allowed five earned runs on six hits in three innings of work. He blamed most of the trouble on his inability to get a feel for his sinker.

He was jovial following the performance, stating more than once just how pleased he was to pitch in a real game again.

“I can’t wait for the next five days to come by so I can get back in there and make the adjustments I have to make to actually get back to New York,” said Martinez, 35. “I’m bored. I don’t want to be in Florida anymore.”

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Really, ESPN? Really? wnba over Bonds?

Barry Bonds has endured more than his share of insults and ridicule (most of which The Dugout believes are deserved), but even the biggest Bonds bemoaners had to be shocked by the events of Tuesday night.

The hundreds of thousands (millions?) of baseball fans across the globe tuned into ESPN2 at 10 p.m. to see if Barry could break the record only to find the game had been moved to ESPNNews. The “Worldwide Leader in Sports” was televising a wnba game that went into double overtime.

Contractual obligations forced ESPN2 to stay with the sub-minor league out-of-season basketball game. Seriously.

Bonds was on deck. He was about to attempt to break the most hallowed record in all of sports, and ESPN could only put it on a channel that doesn’t reach millions of viewers. What did they think they were covering, the NHL?

While many may feel that Bonds' breaking the record without the national spotlight is poetic justice, ESPN execs must have been beating their heads with their shoes for every minute the anti-Heidi dragged on.

Come on Bristol. Someone up there must have the brains to throw the switch. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You lose the wnba contract? Oh rapturous bliss!

Luckily for the baseball world, Randy Wynn made the final out of the first inning, allowing ESPN2 to join the Giants game in the second inning, in time for Bonds first at-bat.

Waiting all year: How long do you think this headline has been in the works? On Saturday Charleston defeated Greensboro 4-3 to give pitcher Jonathon Hovis his first victory of the season. The headline of the RiverDogs press release read:

Smith's 11th Inning Walkoff Single Lifts Charleston as J. Hovis Witnesses First Win


Monday, August 06, 2007

A little late, but this is still funny

The Dugout loves crazy promotions, especially those that mock really stupid ideas. Here's a press release from two Florida State League clubs that share the same ballpark. Enjoy. More later.

Palm Beach Cardinals and Jupiter Hammerheads to attempt to determine “Who is Then?”

Over the past weeks, ESPN has done a phenomenally awesome job of answering the incredibly unimportant question, “Who is Now?” The Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals plan to take the question to its logical follow-up. Beginning on Friday, August 3, the two Florida State League clubs will finally put to rest the question that’s been on everyone’s mind, “Who is Then?”

The person who is the most “Then” was more than just a top performer in their field. They had all the peripherals, too. In their day they all had entourages, endorsement deals and a little thing called respect. Choosing not to limit ourselves the way ESPN did, the Cardinals and Hammerheads threw the field wide open to some of the greatest names in the history of history. They were leaders of empires, opinion makers and household names. Now they are largely irrelevant to everyday life.

The most “Then” person will be decided via tournament bracket. The field has been limited to the elitest of the Elite Eight. Each night two of those monsters lacking modernity will face off. Our panel of experts – usually ballplayers from the night’s game – will give their opinions about the contestants. The voting will then be turned over to the fans. Each fan that enters the ballpark will be given one vote per day. There will also be an internet vote on The ultimate winner – the Zen of Then – will be determined on August 9th, when the Hammerheads host Dunedin.

An Now the Matchups

Opening Night (Friday, Aug. 3): Plato vs. Bill Clinton

Plato: Plato used his brain to climb to the top of Mt. Philosopher. In his famous work, The Republic, the influential Greek philosopher attempted to establish guidelines that would allow humans to lead a good life. During the height of his thinking, Plato was followed around by the top thinkers of his generation who may or may not have been wearing togas. Plus, his name is easier to spell than Socrates and Aristotle.

Bill Clinton: The former U. S. president became famous for thinking with another part of his body. Bubba served two terms in the country’s highest office, balancing the budget while walking a tightrope with congress. His entourage seemed to include most of the women in Arkansas, though he appealed to a younger audience in Washington D.C.

much to “Pseudo-Now” wife Hillary’s chagrin. While Abraham Lincoln will be remembered for his Gettysburg Address, no one will ever forget Clinton and the Blue Dress.

Night Two (Saturday, Aug. 4): Pete Rose vs. Stuart Scott

Pete Rose: The Hit King was pretty now when he broke Ty Cobb’s record for most career hits. He was even “Now-er” when he was banned from baseball for gambling. Rose had many endorsements during his hey day and even owned two restaurants, one in Boca Raton, the other in Boynton Beach. His entourage included various wise guys in joggling suits, allowing Charlie Hustle to reinvent himself with a new nickname – Charlie the Hustler.

Stuart Scott: In theory, Scott must have been “now” at some point. How else can you explain why this guy constantly shows up in America’s living rooms via ESPN? The man famous for using the maximum amount of words to provide the least amount of useful information seems like he’s been an anchor on ESPN since the days of Plato, but really it’s his act that’s constructed out of Play-Doh. This viable contender for The Most Then is truly cooler than the other side of the cucumber.

Night Three (Sunday, Aug. 5) Marilyn Monroe vs. Cleopatra

Marilyn Monroe: The buxom blonde is still the standard-bearer for Hollywood starlets. Few, if any, actresses have ever reached the popularity of Miss Monroe. Her aura extended past celluloid, seeping into the very fabric of the United States. She had arguably the most impressive entourage of anyone in the competition, marrying former Yankees slugger Joe DiMaggio and reportedly owning an all-access pass to John F. Kennedy’s White House. Paris and Lindsay, drink your heart out. Monroe was so “It”, you could argue she is both “Now” and “Then.”

Cleopatra: The Egyptian pharaoh is perhaps the most famous female ruler of all time. During her reign of Egypt, Cleopatra maintained such a tight grip over the empire that coins contained her face and name. Her entourage included her brother Ptolemy XIII, who was also her husband, Julius Cesar and Mark Anthony. Cleopatra has served as inspiration for great works of art and literature, although most of the current creations have gone straight to video.

Night Four (Monday, Aug. 6): Napoleon vs. George Washington

Napoleon Bonaparte: The French general is considered to have possessed one of the greatest military minds in history, helping spread the French Revolution throughout Europe. The man who was twice the emperor of France uttered many famous quotes, including, “An army marches on its stomach.” He was married twice, the first time to Josephine and the second time to Marie-Louise. Famously short in stature, will he prove to be more “Then” or will this be his Waterloo? Again.

George Washington: Often referred to as the Father of our Country, Washington led the rebel forces in the Revolutionary War. He spent many a winter freezing in the fields of the northeast, yet thousands of starving and unwashed men followed him anyway. He was America’s first president, serving two terms. As a youth he became famous for chopping down a cherry tree, then taunting those around him by saying, “Yeah, I cut the thing down.” Or something like that. He was pretty brave and awfully “Now” back “Then.”


Night Five (Tuesday, Aug 7): Semi 1 - Plato/Clinton winner vs. Rose/Scott winner.

Night Six (Wednesday, Aug. 8): Semi 2 – Cleopatra/Monroe winner vs. Napoleon/Washington winner.

Night Seven (Thursday, August 9): Finals

Those considered contest but ultimately judged “Not Then-worthy” included: Gary Coleman, Vlad Dracula, Attila the Hun, Ghengis Kahn, Julius Cesar, Fred Flintstone, John Wayne, Barry Bonds, Chris Berman, John Madden, Joan of Arc, Noah of ark fame, Alexander the Great, Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, William Howard Taft, the Hawley Smoot Tariff, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Mr. Ed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rain stops Pedro and Two Cents, and outtakes from the Trenton pitching story

The Dugout is experiencing one of those weird baseball days. The original plan was see Pedro Martinez' rehab start in St. Lucie, but that game was rained out. So The Dugout headed south to catch Palm Beach’s game against Daytona.

It was raining there, too. In fact shortly before the 5 p.m. start of the doubleheader, the park was struck by lightning, knocking out the speakers around the ballpark. The lack of audio forced the Cardinals to postpone their My Two Cents Night, which incidentally, is today’s Promo of the Day.

Though the doubleheader started late, it appears as though both games will be played. The Cardinals won the first game and have just taken the field for the second game. Jeff Samardzija is pitching for the Cubs. Fervent readers may remember the feature on Samardzija from earlier in the year.

Speaking of pitching, the much anticipated story about the Trenton Thunder pitching staff is now up on the site. For those Yankees fanatics, and there are plenty of you, here are some of the quotes that didn't make the story. There won't be many, if any from Joba Chamberlain. Those are being saved for a Rounding The Bases segment which will appear on the site later this year.

Manager Tony Franklin breaks down Trenton’s success:
No. 1, we’ve got some very good arms that can make some quality pitches and have a pretty good understanding of how to pitch.

No. 2, we have a tremendous pitching coach in Scott Aldred. He’s done quite a bit to nurture the talent hat we have here.

No. 3, things have just been clicking overall for us this year.

Franklin on the starters:
It's pretty much a phenomenon when you can pitch five guys out there for five straight nights and you can get to the sixth or seventh inning – and we’ve done that quite a lot this year.

Franklin on the future of the staff:
I wouldn’t say it's out of the realm of thinking that some more guys could go to the major leagues this year. I think we've got some major league pitchers. How soon they’re ready to pitch there is yet to be determined.

Trenton catcher P.J. Pilittere:
Those guys definitely make my job a lot easier and it’s definitely exciting for me to come to the park every day. These guys are on a pretty good roll right now.

OK, one quote from Joba:
Down there [Tampa] they had a great pitching coach in Greg Pavlik and he broke down mechanical things. Here we’re working on the mental game and being prepared for the hitters. It makes it a little easier when you can get your mechanics down in High-A so that when you get here you have a little less to worry about.

Pitcher Alan Horne on the starters:
They are guys running out with quality start after quality start each time out. Each time one of us takes the hill, we feel like we have a great chance to win.

OK, that's it. Gotta run. Going to be a guest on Palm Beach's radio broadcast. Enjoy.