Thoughts and pictures of my local minor league baseball team the New York Penn League Connecticut Tigers; a Detriot farm team. We'll still be looking at former Navigators/Defenders players along the way....

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Defs romp 11-3 tonight over the Thunder as...

Eliezer Alfonzo knocked in the first three runs on a first inning double and a two run homer in the third (#2). Adam Witter then followed Alfonzo's homer with his 20th dinger. CT pounded out 17 hits with Dave Maroul going 4 for 5 with 3 doubles and a RBI. EME goes 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and a RBI. Olmo has a 3 for 5 night. Every batter save one in the lineup gets at least one RBI.
Dave McKae improves to 8-9 with 4.57 ERA. Nate Bump throws three scoreless inning and Kelvin Pichardo throws the 9th.

Congrats Eugenio Velez! First MLBB homer ....

yersterday against the Reds in Cinn.

More pics of last Sunday's game....

Pics are : Adam Witter at bat, Tater, group picture of Kyle Haines, coach Victor Torres and AR and Justin Hedrick heading out to the bullpen

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Different day and game but basically the same...

as yesterday as the Defs jumped out to a 3-0 lead on homers by Simon Klink, a two run shot (#3) in the first inning and a solo homer (#11) by Olmo in the second inning only to lose it by last night's score 4-3 in Trenton.
Like last night, the Thunder chipped away and tied the game up and then won it in the bottom of the ninth. Ben Snyder started and went 6 IP allowing two runs and ten hits. JP (5-5) takes the loss as Brooks McNiven almost pitched his way out of the jam but gives up a game winning single. It was McNiven's first appearance with CT since the Olympics.

Misc fan notes: I overlooked that last night's loss meant the team was guaranteed of a sub .500 season. Since the Giants became the affiliate of the Navigators/Defenders in 2003 the team has never finished above .500.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thunder beat Defs 4-3 as CT batters

K'ed 16 times in the game with Kyle Haines, Olmo, and Eliezer Alfonzo leading the way with three each. Carlos Sosa had two RBIs, one coming on his 10th homer of the season. CT managed just 4 hits in the game with Sosa getting two of them.
GB started and went 6.2 Ip giving up two runs. Ronnie Ray (6-3) takes the loss, giving up the tying run in the 8th and winner in the 9th. CT wraps up the season with this 4 game set in Trenton.

Misc fan note: Ronnie Ray snapping a pic of(L-R) Jason Waddell, coach Victor Torres and Steve (JP) Palazzolo.

Pablo's first dinger!!!

click on "pablo's homer" but first watch some commericals!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CT blowing out R-Phillies 11-3 after 8 innings as...

Mike Mooney has four RBIs, three of them via his fourth homer, and reliever Paul Oseguera hit a bases loaded clearing double for his first three RBIs of the season.
Osegura will pick up the victory in relief of starter Adam Cowart who pitched just four innings.
Eliezer Alfonzo (playing at first tonight), Simon Klink, Carlos Sosa and Mooney all have three hits each in the contest thru the 8 innings played. Adam Witter has a pair of RBIs as well.

Congrats Pablo! First MLBB home run last night..

hit off Livan Hernandez in a 4-1 win over the Rockies in SF. Pablo hitting a hot .372 so far!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eliezer Alfonzo knocks in 5 runs as Defs win...

7-2 in Reading tonight snapping a 7 game losing streak. Alfonzo had a 2 run RBI double in the first and a three run homer in the the third, his first this season with Connecticut.
Joey Martinez evens his record to 10-10 (2.56 ERA) with 5 IP. Nate Bump and Justin Hedrick throw two scoreless innings each to wrap up the win.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Defs down 5-3 after 7 innings as I'm pulling....

the plug tonight. Dave McKae gave up four runs thru the first three innings against the R-Phillies in PA tonight. CT has rallied back a bit with single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning. The run in the fourth came on Olmo Rosairo's tenth homer of the season. Mike Mooney has a RBI single in the sixth. Ronnie Ray, Kelvin Pichardo and Josh Sharpless have pitched in relief.

Check out Joes Perez's blog re: Ballpark Digest and..

also Garrett Broshuis latest blog entry on perhaps his last day at Dodd. Both are well worth the time; links on the right.
More pics from Sunday's final home game.

Monday, August 25, 2008

From posted 8/25/08 on it's...


Game plan emerges for Richmond market NEW!
Posted Aug. 25, 2008

"A plan for the Richmond, Va. market -- set to be open after the Richmond Braves (Class AAA; International League) franchise moves to a new Gwinnett County ballpark in suburban Atlanta -- appears to be in place. No, it doesn't involve the move of a Carolina League team into the Richmond market, but it does involve a Carolina League team in an indirect way, according to multiple sources.
The tentative plan has the Bowie Baysox (Class AA; Eastern League) moving to Richmond, which would be a step up in markets for owner Ken Young and his partners. Bowie would not lose baseball: the Connecticut Defenders (Class AA; Eastern League) would then move to Bowie, giving the Defenders a better market and a better situation, giving the team a chance to start over with a clean slate. (There's been some tension between the team and the city, although it doesn't sound like the team has done anything to earn the attitude from the city.) Given Young's successes in other markets -- the Norfolk Tides (Class AAA; International League) and the Albuquerque Isotopes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) are the two most notable examples -- we'd guess he has a good chance of procuring a new ballpark in Richmond. The maneuvering also means the Erie SeaWolves (Class AA; Eastern League) will stay put, and Norwich loses Double-A baseball. (Too bad: yesterday the Defenders logged just over 200,000 in attendance for the season, the first time that's happened in seven years.)
So where does the Carolina League enter into this? The shift of two teams from the California League to the Carolina League apparently will happen, and one of the teams will move (temporarily) to War Memorial Stadium in Newport News until a better plan emerges. Newport News, of course, is within Norfolk's territory -- and the man who owns Norfolk would need to sign the waiver. Do the math. (There is one troubling factor: how this affects the Peninsula Pilots of the Coastal Plain League.) Several existing organizations are working to secure one of the transferred Cal League franchises; we've heard Ripken Baseball has been working it fairly hard, though there's no chance a Carolina League team would take up residence in Aberdeen. Of course, none of this is written in stone, and things could change -- but this is the current working plan, according to sources."

One of our posters on this blog mentioned this in the comments section. How real is this is anyone's guess as these sources are not revealed. There are also these dates to keep in mind:

*Important deadlines to note:

September 12-15: The beginning of the process, where MLB and MiLB teams are notified of the status of afiliations,

September 16-30: Teams can begin to negotiate affiliations.

October 1-7: Teams without deals will be assigned an affiliation by MiLB and MLB.

* Source:

Defs give up a 6 spot in the 7th and lose....

to the Reading Phillies 7-4 on the road tonight. Steve Palazzolo (5 runs, 5-4 3.51 ERA) and Jason Waddell (1 run) allow the runs as the R-Phillies rally from 4-1 to pull out the victory.
Adam Witter hit his 19th homer of the year for CT, a solo shot. Eliezer Alfonzo goes 2 for 5 with a pair of RBIs. Kyle Haines went 2 for 4 with a RBI. And pitcher Ben Snyder went 2 for 3 with a double.
CT has now lost 6 in a row, is 4 games under .500 and falling fast.

Thoughts from Lou and Charlie.....

from Marc Allard's Norwich Bulletin article today:

"Connecticut owner Lou DiBella said he is certainly pleased with the loyal fans who keep coming to Dodd on a regular basis and the increase is welcome, but it’s not putting money in his pocket nor is it necessarily keeping the wolves from the door.

“It’s not great,” DiBella said. “We’re still one of the doormats of the league, but went up in a year when almost everyone went down and that’s good. But in the long run, any business needs to make money to survive and that’s still not happening.”

DiBella felt the team was fun to watch and the entertainment value was terrific. which leaves little to improve.

“We’ve had this team awhile,” DiBella said “We changed the name, re-launched it, have made some major positive changes to the park and concessions. I don’t know. It’s largely going to be a matter of how badly the community wants to keep baseball and how much we’re valued.”

In a tough spot

DiBella said the biggest detractor to the park is something that will be difficult to change — its location.

“Almost every stadium in minor league baseball is built on a highway or something where traffic goes past it, and the stadium becomes the greatest advertising tool for the team,” DiBella said. We’re in the middle of an industrial park at the farthest possible point from civilization.

DiBella said he has a lease with Norwich that runs through 2010 or 2011, but there is an escape clause which he could invoke at the end of next season.

“There will be decisions that have to be made relatively soon, but it’s not simply a decision as to whether we want to be here,” DiBella said. “There are a lot of people in baseball that have a concern as to whether this market can sustain a Double-A (team) and I hope we can prove that it can.”

As much as the Defenders’ future as a whole is questioned, the affiliation with the Giants has been one that hasn’t produced a lot of good results.

“Baseball has a very prescribed methodology of how you go about either renewing or not and we’ll follow those guidelines,” Dowd said. “We’ll certainly talk to our partners, the Giants, and one way or another by the middle of October, we’ll have our situation squared away. Whoever it is, the Defenders will be here next April 16th at 6:35 p.m. throwing the first pitch.”

Pics are Jason Waddell and Adam Witter

***In a wierd twist the Reading pitcher opposing the Defs tonight is Adam Eaton who once upon a time when he was still a minor leaguer threw a 8 inning complete game no hitter that he lost on an unearned run 1-0 against the then Norwich Navigators at Dodd, a game I saw.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Defs drop final '08 home game 7-4 today.....

as GB (13-9 3.83 ERA) gave up three long balls in his 6 IP. Ryan Roberson (big guy) hit a three run jack (#23) in the top of the first as the Erie SeaWolves jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead. Connecticut battled right back as AR tripled and came in on a wild pitch. Carlos Sosa then walked and Adam Witter tied up the game with his 18th homer of the year.
GB then gave up solo homers to Delik Scram (13) in the third and Casper Wells (16), his second in as many days, in the fifth.
Nate Bump relieved GB and gave up a run in his two innings of work as Erie stretched it's lead to 6-3.
Connecticut got a run back in the bottom of the 8th on Witter's ground rule double to right and Simon Klink's RBI single. Erie pushed across an unearned run in the ninth inning off Ronnie Ray to wrap up the scoring at 7-4. CT has now lost 5 in a row.

Misc fan notes: Took a ton of pics today as the Defs were wearing special jerseys honoring Roberto Clemente. I'll start posting a few a day over the next week or so.
Team announced today's attendance as just under 5000 pushing the home attendance over 200K.
Club owner Lou DiBella was on hand today. All fans got a free gift, nice touch.

I saw the Defs play a total of 54 times (new high) this season (My W/L record ended up being 25-29) and I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the outstanding front office and game staff on hand that always made me feel welcome and always had kind words about this humble blog. Stay healthy and see you all next season!!

Pics: from top to bottom: It was Olmo Rosairo's birthday today, coach Vicor Torres was getting pics of himself with all the players--most of the poses were to the back of me but here's Olmo taking a group pic of AR, Torres and Carlos Sosa, Klink with the play at first, your final home score of '08

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Casper (the unfriendly ghost) Wells' two run homer..

sinks CT tonight at Dodd as Erie beats CT 4-1 in front of 4500+ fans. Adam Cowart (8-7) gave up the homer to left field in the top of the third that snapped a 1-1 tie. Eliezer Alfonzo had a RBI single in the first for the Defs for an early 1-0 lead. CT could only manage six singles in the game as they fell to their fourth dtraight loss.

Misc fan notes: Ar tosses, JP and Kelvin sign pregame. Also because the Defs lost tonight all fans got a voucher for Opening Day 2009.

Check out Garrett Broshuis' latest Sporting News...

blog entry re: host families in the minors. Another good one by GB and yet another interesting behind the scences glimpse type article we've been treated to this season. I'm referring to Joe Perez's Norwich Bulletin profile on Jered Allen and Brian Hallenbeck's New London Day article on Joe T. (see my 8/11 entry for that profile).
GB's Sporting New's link can be found here on the right hand side.

Friday, August 22, 2008

THANK YOU Bob. P. and the rest of the Defs staff

for the safe return of my digital camera (Canon Rebel, with a long 75-300 lens that as a package retailed for over a thousand when it first came out) today. Like an idiot I somehow found a way to leave it at my seat at last night's game. The two Aeros pitchers charting the game found it and turned it over to Bob. I thought it was gone for good last night as I thought it was likely stolen from my car when I stopped off to get gas on the way home and had gone into the building for a couple of minutes.
I called the Defs office this morning on the off chance it had dropped out of my duffel bag out in the parking lot. Dale took my info and called me back twice during the day, the last time to tell me it had been found.
When I got to the park tonight next to every employee I saw told me it had been found. Great service, I'm in your debt and now of course I'm rooting for the Aeros in the playoffs.
Thanks again Bob, Dale and everyone involved!!!

As for the game tonight I was there with my wife, (making a rare visit), and our neighbor's daughter (fireworks night) and I really wasn't watching that much. Also it was hondo's last game of the season and I wanted to time with him before that long stretch of time to next April.
Defs lost 3-2 as Joey Martinez didn't get much support and he didn't help himself with an error in the first that lead to an Erie run. Martinez drops to 8-9 with a 2.52 ERA. Julio Cordido finally gets a hit (he's now 1 for 20 in his 2008 Double A return) and Mike Mooney's slump continues as he's 1 for 34 in his last ten games. Announced crowd was just over 6000 as the drive to 200K continues.

Misc game notes: Defs will be wearing uniforms honoring Roberto Clemente Sunday, the last home game of the season. The uniforms are that of the Santurce Crabbers of the LBBPR, Clemente's first pro team.
Pics are Cordido and Martinez

First base or catcher????? Which should....

he be long term?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Akron wins 4-2 over Defs tonight at Dodd...

as the Aeros take 2 out of three over Connecticut. Dave McKae and Frank Herrmann were locked up in a scoreless pitcher's duel until the top of the sixth when McKae gave up a leadoff infield single and Wes Hodges followed with his 14th home run to make it 2-0 Aeros. Akron added a couple of runs off Ronnie Ray in the 8th on a two run single by Bronson Sardinha to increase their lead to 4-0.
Connecticut rallied for a couple of runs in the bottom half of the inning on RBI singles by EME and Kyle Haines to cut the Aeros lead to 4-2 but that's was all she wrote. McKae falls to 7-8 on the year with a 4.33 ERA and the Defs are now back to the .500 mark.

Misc fan notes: A strange turn of events as it seemed McKae was out of the ballgame after six innings and Jason Waddell came on to warm up for the top of the 7th. Then McKae came back out and Waddell ran off the mound and was getting high fives in the dugout. Turns out Waddell was not listed on the official game roster.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Defs rally falls short as Steve Head leads

Akron to a 9-6 victory over Connecticut tonight at Dodd. Head hit three homers in the game, the first off the right field foul pole to put the Aeros up 2-0. He hit solo homers in the fifth and seventh innings as the Aeros would build a 8-0 lead after 5 and half innings. Connecticut answered with doubles by Olmo, Witter and Klink to make it 8-2 in the bottom half of the sixth.
Connecticut rallied with four runs in the bottom of the 9th to make it close at 9-6.
Connecticut starter Ben Snyder takes the loss to fall to 1-6 with a 6.66 ERA. Josh Sharpless gives up four runs in two innings of work. JP throws two shutout innings and in a scary moment caught a liner right back at him turning it into a double play.

Misc fan notes: At last! A Connecticut player shows some motion on the field as Carlos Sosa tossed his bat and helmet in disgust after a K.
The drive toward 200K stays alive with 3200 on hand tonight. And speaking of attendance the 2009 home schedule has been released on the team's website. I asked Charlie Dowd about it a while back and he was very happy about it and you can see why you you view it. Only seven games in April! They open at home April 16th against Trenton the latest home opener ever. The schedule features three homestands in May, June, July and August and wraps up with a seven game homestand in Sept. There are 34 weekend home days out of a possible 71 gates.
Note to the front office: Please keep the 6:35 starts!! And how about making those seven dates in April all day games?

2008 Olympic stats so far: Brooks McNiven is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 8 IP. Chris Begg is 1-1 with a 0.75 ERA in 12 IP with 14 Ks. Nate Schierholtz is 6 for 30 (.200 BA) with a homer and 6 RBIs.
Pics: AR fields, Snyder winds up

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And in the better late than never category....

Congrats to Randy Ruiz on his call up earlier this month to the bigs with the Minn. Twins. Randy played in the last 39 games of the 2007 season with Defenders. He went to Triple A Rochester at the start of this season and was having a great season batting .313 with 30 doubles, 15 HRs and 63 RBIs.
With the Twins he's doing well: 9 for 25 with two doubles and 3 RBIs.
Thanks to hondo for the heads up on this former Defender!

Defs win a laughter 8-0 over the Aeros...

tonight at Dodd. Connecticut loaded the bases after two outs in the first inning as Olmo singled, Eliezer Alfonzo was HBP and Adam Witter walked. Simon Klink singled in a pair of runs and Carlos Sosa followed with a RBI single to make it 3-0. The Defenders scored three times again in the bottom of the second via an Akron error, an Alfonzo single and a Witter double. Witter would double in another run the fourth and Olmo wrapped up the scoring with a solo homer, #9 for him on the season.
Garret Broshuis goes 6 IP allowing three hits and notching 7 Ks to improve to 13-8 witha 3.68 ERA. Adam Cowart (Happy Birthday), Nate Bump and Kelvin Pichardo throw an inning each of scoreless ball to preserve the shutout.

Misc fan notes: Good to be back at Dodd! Good sized crowd on hand thanks in part to the NL Day sticker giveaway of a pair of free tickets. Long lines in front of the ticket windows for voucher exchange. Announced crowd was 3900+ (hondo with the right guess).
Good to see old friend Andy Pappas on the concourse tonight as I was leaving.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Roberto Clemente!!!

The only player ever in MLBB baseball to hit a walk off inside the park grand slam home run; which is just the very tip of the iceberg off all the things he accomplished on and off the baseball diamond. The only gift he didn't end up having was the gift of time. I'm glad I did see him play.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Congrats TI! First MLBB homer today...

with proved to be the game winner in the Giants 3-1 victory today. TI got his first career homer in the second with a man on.

Misc fan notes: Hey! Giants!! Play Pablo or send him back!!!!!

Defs avoid the sweep and beat SeaWolves 6-3 today...

in Eris. Joey Martinez gets the win to improve to 9-9 with a 2.52 ERA. AR hits home run #5 on the season in the first to get Connecticut going. Simon Klink goes 3 for 3 with a double and two runs scored. Carlos Sosa knocks in a pair of runs with a 2 for 4 day. And Olmo has a RBI triple in the 9th for an insurance run to cap off a 3 for 5 day.
Eliezer Alfonzo returns to the team from Fresno and catches the game. He rehabbed earlier this season with the Defs.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Congrats Pablo! First MLBB hits against the

Braves today in a 11-5 loss in GA. Pablo went 3 for 5 in the contest playing both first and catcher. Rohlinger goes 1 for 3 and TI went 0 for 1 with a walk.
Matt Palmer made his MLBB debut, a start, and didn't make it out of the third giving up 6 runs and taking the loss.
Also Sergio Romo is headed back up to the Giants as Jonthan Sanchez is on the DL.

SeaWolves top Defs 8-2 in Erie tonight...

Dave McKae takes the loss evening his record to 7-7 with a 4.5 ERA. Dave went 6 IP allowing 9 hits and six runs; five earned. Sharpless gives up a two run homer in his one innning of work.
Olmo hit his 8th dinger of the season, a solo blast in the ninth. Game clocked in at an even two hours. Third straight loss for CT after winning 5 in a row.

Bargain sticker! Here's a first.....

as the club attempts to drive the season attendance to the 200,000 mark by targeting the most likely weakest gate for next week's final homestand with two free tickets to Tuesday's game. This sticker was on the front page of today's New London Day newspaper. It's the first time they've ever done this. Wonder if the Norwich Bulletin will have a similar sticker?

Friday, August 15, 2008

SeaWolves score one in the 9th to win 5-4...

tonight in Erie. After Connecticut had tied the game in the 9th with a pair of runs, Steve (JP) Palazzolo (5-3) gave up the game winner in the bottom half of the frame.
Olmo drove in two runs with a triple and a single and Dave Maroul had a RBI ground out. Erie tried to give this one away with four errors and three walks but CT couldn't get that one big hit to break it open.
Paul Oseguera started and went 5 IP allowing four runs all on two 2 out homers. Adam Cowart pitched well in relief throwing three scorless innings. AR had three hits and Carlos Sosa had two hits including double #20 on the season.

Misc fan note: pic is of Erie's Jerry Uht park I found online via

Matt Palmer up... Geno down... in another episode

of "The Daily Roster Shuffle" brought to you by the good folks of the SF Giants. Matt was here for parts of five seasons with Norwich/Connecticut including a single start in New Britain on August 25, 2007 when the Giants sent him cross country from Fresno for his only appearance in Double A last season. He gave up five runs in the first inning, settled down, and left to a no-decision as the Defs rallied for a win.
Good Luck Matt!

Misc fan notes: Since my Fantasy baseball team is out of the running this year, for the first time in years BTW, I'm picking up Pablo, Ryan, and TI on my team for kicks.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Defs lose 2-1.....Rojas and Cordido return....

Ben Snyder pitches well going 6 IP allowing 5 hits and both runs. Nate Bump gets off the DL and throws an inning of relief.
Things got off well in the first when Kyle Haines lead off with a triple but AR hit a liner to the pitcher who doubled off Haines. Of course Olmo then doubled but was stranded when Witter struck out. So they get two of their six total hits in the game in the first inning, extra bases hits to boot, and no runs scored. They managed a run in the top of the ninth on a Mike Mooney sac fly and that was that.

Misc fan notes: Joe Perez reports Nestor Rojas is back from Augusta to replace Pablo behind the dish. Nestor was here earlier this year and was sent back to Augusta when Pablo came up. Julio Cordido comes back for the first time this season from Fresno to replace Rohlinger. This will be Julio's fourth tour of duty with Norwich/Connecticut.
In MLBB action Pablo got his first MLBB RBI in his first AB with a sac fly. TI went 1 for 3 in his 2008 return to the bigs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Congrats Ryan Rohlinger! First MLBB hit and RBI

as he doubles home Randy Winn with two outs in the 7th inning off Astros pitcher Randy Wolf; Astros up 6-2.

And they played today too..Defs win 3-2 as

a two run homer by Adam Witter in the fourth tied the game and Dave Maroul's solo homer wins it in the 8th. It was Witter's 17th of the season and Maroul's tenth. Ronnie Ray throw three innings of shutout relief for the win as he goes to 6-2 witha 2.94 ERA. Garrett Broshuis started and went 6 IP.

Misc fan notes: I think having Pablo here was a wake up call of sorts for Witter.

Pablo and Rohlinger get the call...too bad

that they had that bus trip out to Ohio first. I'll always remember Pablo's homer Sunday off the batter's eye. He was just too good here. Kind of suprised at the Rohlinger call up but he was real solid here. Kiss the playoffs goodbye. But I'm surprising calm about this. Pablo's callup has been in the back of my mind for a while now but I didn't want to say/type it out loud. Like I said he was just too good here. So congrats and good luck to all three! I see Ryan is starting tonight and batting second; he's 0 for 2 so far with a fielding error (well, he got that out of the way).
Wonder if we even get replacements, although we'll need another catcher...Buller?
TI also went up and Holm and Bowker got sent down...maybe here?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Defs beat Akron 4-1 behind Joey Martinez....

7 innings of 3 hit shutout ball in Ohio tonight. Juston Hedrick bails out Adam Cowart's jam in the 8th inning and earns his 9th save. Martinez improves to 8-9 on the season with a 2.51 ERA.
Connecticut took the lead on a solo homer by Ryan Rohlinger in the third inning, his sixth HR since joining the team from SJ. An inning later Adam Witter hit his team leading 16th homer, a two run shot to make it 3-0 Defenders. Olmo Rosairo closed out the scoring for CT with a RBI single in the fifth.
Connecticut is now tied for third place with the B-Mets and remain two games behind the SeaDogs for the final playoff spot in the EL Northern Division.

Misc fan notes: Went thru the rosters of the indy baseball Golden League and found some ex-Giants Navigators/Defenders: Playing for the Chico Outlaws is 1B Julian Benavidez. OF Dan Trumble is with the Long Beach Armada. James Garcia pitches for the Yuma Scorpions.

Monday, August 11, 2008

From today's New London Day....

Connecticut Defenders' Clubhouse Guy Swinging For The Fences
Joe Tarnowski would love to make it to the majors

By Brian Hallenbeck Published on 8/11/2008

Norwich - At Dodd Stadium, just about everybody's looking to move up. Or get back.

Joe Tarnowski, the Connecticut Defenders' clubhouse guy, is no exception.

Like some of the players, coaches and front-office types who toil for the minor league team, Tarnowski's had a taste of the “bigs,” and wouldn't mind a return engagement.

His ticket won't be a cut fastball, though, or a bat with pop in it. No, it'll be his reputation for catering to the players' every need, for keeping them well fed, their towels and uniforms clean, their supply of bats stocked.

”He's one of the hardest-working guys at the ballpark,” says Brian Irizarry, the Defenders' director of media relations.

”The best I've seen,” says Nate Bump, a pitcher who's witnessed more than a few “clubbies” in action during his nine professional seasons, including three in the major leagues with the Florida Marlins.

“I try to run it like a major league clubhouse,” the 47-year-old Tarnowski says of his Dodd domain. “I put as much effort into it as I did into the major league jobs I had.”

Tarnowski, who graduated from Colchester's Bacon Academy in 1979 - Ron Wotus, the San Francisco Giants' bench coach, was a classmate - started working for the New York Mets in 1983, and three years later became clubhouse and equipment manager at the organization's minor league complex in Florida.

In 2006, he took over as the Colorado Rockies' visiting clubhouse manager, one of 60 such jobs on the major league level (each of the 30 teams has home and visiting clubhouse managers).

In 2007, Tarnowski returned to Colchester to help care for his ill mother, who died last September. While attending the Eastern League All-Star Game at Dodd, he reconnected with Bob Stanley, the Defenders' pitching coach, whom he met when both were with the Mets.

”Steamer (Stanley) called me the next morning at the restaurant where I was working and asked if I could help out,” Tarnowski recalls. “I was supposed to fill in for three days. ... Well, I'm still here.”

And the Defenders are lucky to have him, most everyone around the team agrees.

”It's one of the toughest jobs to fill at the ballpark,” Charlie Dowd, the Defenders' general manager, says. “The quality he's given us in that position is so far beyond what we've ever experienced.

”I liken him to 'The Scrounger' in 'The Great Escape,' “ Dowd says, invoking the character James Garner played in the classic prisoner-of-war movie. “He makes relationships in town; he knows where to find things, he knows the right people.”

Tarnowski might never have been a clubhouse guy if he'd been a little taller. After high school, he umpired locally and then attended the Joe Brinkman Umpire School in Cocoa, Fla.

”There were 125 guys who graduated from the school, and 12 of them got (umpiring) jobs,” the 5-foot-6 Tarnowski says. “They told me my work was fine, but that I was too short.”

The day after umpire school ended, Tarnowski and four others took clubhouse jobs with the Mets. Within three weeks, he was the only one left. He's always liked being around the game and the ballpark, he says, and that has made the long hours tolerable.

On a typical weekday, when the Defenders are scheduled to play a night game at Dodd, Tarnowski leaves home at 9:30 a.m. He might not get home until 2:30 or 3 the next morning.

He runs errands on his way in, shopping for groceries and supplies and perhaps picking up a uniform that a seamstress has repaired. He arrives at the stadium around noon, prepares a pre-game meal for the players and readies equipment for batting practice.

Around mid-afternoon, Bien Figueroa, the Defenders' manager, drops off his lineup card for the game on Tarnowski's desk. Tarnowski takes it to the visitor's clubhouse. Before the game begins, he'll deliver six dozen balls to the umpires, who will scuff them up with mud. The previous night, Tarnowski had to rub up two dozen more when the umps ran out.

With the game under way, Tarnowski and his helpers - friends he's known since high school in some cases - start the laundry. The washers and dryers won't stop spinning until early the next morning, once the uniforms worn tonight are done.

Tarnowski's crew vacuums the clubhouse and puts out the post-game meal, which Tarnowski's arranged with local caterers, primarily Irene's Restaurant in Norwich and the Thames Valley Council for Community Action.

After the game, it takes four to five hours to finish cleaning up.

”The hardest part is the food,” Tarnowski says. “When I started, you got a cup of soup and some vegetables. Then, in the '90s, it was sandwiches. Now, it's got to be a hot meal. Last night, we had prime rib. We've got pork loin and a taco bar coming up.

”It tastes better when we win.”

***Like Joe Perez's Norwich Bulletin profile of our beloved batboy Jered Allen, this is a pretty interesting story about some of the inner workings of the team. This NL Day article was front page above the fold.

Can the team hit 200,000 in attendance?

After yesterday the Eastern League website has the team drawing 175,226 in 61 gates for an average of 2,872 (#11 of 12 teams).
Last year for the season they drew 170,634. To hit 200K they need to draw 24,774 for the remaining six gates left or an average of 4,129 per game. The last homestand runs from Tuesday to Sunday, August 19 - August 24 against Southern Division teams Akron and Erie.
Can they do it? IF they draw 3,000 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 6,000 on Friday and Saturday with 4,000 on Sunday, yes they do. Pray for no rain and turn in all those vouchers laying around collecting dust.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy B-Day Pablo! and welcome back JP!...

as the Defs win a wild one 10-9 at Dodd with the final out at home, tag applied by the B-boy.
I guess everyone was tired having played 5 games in three day plus rain delays sprinkled thru-out as the teams combined for 7 errors (4 for CT and three for the vistors). Portland jumped out with three unearned errors in the first to take a 3-0 lead in this see-saw contest. CT came back with a run in the second on Adam Witter's DP grounder. In the third the Defs scored four times thanks to a pair of SeaDog errors. Kyle Haines singled in one run and Carlos Sosa's ground out produced another. On another 3-2 pitch Pablo, the birthday boy, hit a long homer (#8) off the batter's eye with a runner aboard to make it 5-3 Defenders. Sandoval ended the day going 3 for 3 with four runs scored.
In the top of the fourth Defs starter Dave McKae gave up three runs thanks to a CT error and a BP fastball that Mickey Hall hit out as Portland regained the lead 6-5. In the fifth the SeaDogs would extend the lead to 7-5 as McKae's day was over.
The Defs got a run back in the sixth as Pablo singled and hustled to third on Simon Klink's single. Pablo then came in on Witter's RBI groundout and it was 7-6 Portland.
Paul Oseguera came on for McKae in the the sixth and gave up an unearned run in the seventh as Portland went up 8-6.
Old friend Steve (JP) Palazzolo came on and loaded the bases with two outs before getting the third out. Palazzolo had been promoted to Fresno, injured and is now back with CT.
Connecticut rallied to win with four runs in the 8th. Sosa and Sandoval lead off with singles and Klink walked to load the bases with no outs. Witter then tied the game at 8-8 with a two run RBI single. EME's weak infield groudout brought in Klink with the go ahead run. Kyle Haines then singled in Witter for a much needed insurance run to make it 10-8 Connecticut.
Jason Waddell came on the save the game in the top of the 9th. But waddell loaded the bases with one out before getting a shallow fly ball to right for the second out. Up came the dangerous Zach Daeges who hit a hard smash to shortshop Kyle Haines in the infield hole. One run came in and the SeaDog manager sent home his runner from second to try and score on the deep infield hit. Haines from a kneeling position threw a strike to the birthday boy to get the final out and CT wins 10-9 taking 5 games out of six from the SeaDogs. Wow!
JP gets the win and is now 5-2, Waddell gets a shakey second save of the season. Klink goes three for three. Witter knocks in three runs and Haines brings home a pair. The Defender are now 61-60 on the season in fourth place but just two games out of second place and the playoffs.

Misc fan notes: After 8 games in six days I need a day off. Pablo homer was a shot and a half.
Can't believe there is just one homestand left. Today marked a new season attendance record for your humble blogger as this was my 48th Defenders game breaking the previous high of 47 games in both '06 and '07.
Pics from top the bottom are: the birthday scoreboard salute to Pablo, Pablo's homer and McKae.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Moon(ey) shots at Dodd tonight in Game 1 as...

the Defs slug five homers (who says you can't homer at Dodd?) enroute to a 14-6 victory over Portland and a doubleheader sweep tonight of the SeaDogs. Connecticut was lead by Mike Mooney playing his third game with CT. Mooney hit a grand slam in the first inning, a two run homer in the fourth and had a RBI double in the sixth for a 7 RBI game. Mooney has three homers in the last two games.
Also joining the homer fest were AR (#4), and Simon Klink (#2, and 3 RBIs in the game) and Dave Maroul (#9) who went back to back in the third inning. Connecticut lead at one point 11-1.
Olmo went 3 for 3 with a double amd Pablo went 2 for 4.
Daryl Maday pick up his firts Double A win as his record stands at 1-1 but with an ERA over eight.
In game two the Defenders rallied from 4-0 to take a 5-4 lead with four runs in the the fifth. The first run of the inning came in on Olmo's third double of the night and Pablo Sandoval hit a three run homer (#7) on a 3-2 count to deep left center as CT took the 5-4 lead. Justin Hedrick (save #8) nails the the win for Kelvin Pichardo (2-4) who relieved starter Adam Cowart.

Misc fan notes: The Mike Lowell booblehead promo was a big hit as fans were in a long line prior to the gates opening at 4:05. First 1000 fans in got one. Mike was wearing a Navs uniform. Another good size crowd on hand.
Good Luck to on-field host Johnny Gill as he joins the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL. Big jump from Double A minor to the "bigs" of hockey.
Pics from top to bottom: AR, Maroul, and Maday

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Neil Diamond tribute....

my fav Neil song as hondo checked out Neil last night at HCC; found this gem from the "Johnny Cash show."

Defs win yesterday's game today 1-0 losing

today's game 6-5 in the fourth as the SeaDogs scored 4 times to take a 6-5 lead. In the completion of yesterday's suspended game Connecticut scored in the fourth as walks to Carlos Sosa and Simon Klink and a Dave Maroul single loaded the bases. AR lifted a sac fly to score Sosa.
Ronnie Ray (5-2) picked up the win in relief of last night's starter Joey Martinez throwing 3 IP of two hit ball.
In game two Connecticut scored four runs to take a 4-2. Mike Mooney got his first Defender hit, a double, to lead off the inning. EME then singled off the third base bag to put runners on first and third. Simon Klink doubled to score Mooney. Maroul RBI single scored EME and Ryan Rohlinger hit a long double to plate Klink and Maroul.
In the third Mooney hit his first CT homer down the left field line to make it 5-2 Defender.
But in the top of the fifth the SeaDogs pushed across four runs against GB to take a 6-5 and that's where we stand as I type this.

Misc fan notes: I'll blame myself if they lose Game 2 as they were winning when I left and losing by the time I pulled into the driveway. Speaking of driving, I turned on the game when I left home around 6:00 and the station was playing music and I thought game one was concluded since it was scheduledd to go off at 5:05. Wrong; a rain delay held up the game until 6:45 or so.
Good size crowd on hand for Friday fireworks.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I was kind of hoping the Defs would play the...

completion of the suspended game from Portland wearing their road uniforms tonight at Dodd for "Game 1" of tonight's DH but that didn't happen. The game was picked up in the bottom of the fourth with the SeaDogs having the bases loaded and two outs and leading 2-1. Paul Osegura came on to pitch in relief for the since departed Brooks McNiven. Paul got the final out of the inning as the SeaDogs were the "home" team for game 1.
The Defs broke the game open in the top of the 7th as Ryan Rohlinger lead off hitting a booming double off the fence in deep left center. Dave Maroul then singled Rohlinger in to tie the game. Maroul advanced to second on the pitcher's error trying to pick him off. AR singled to shallow right field to put runners on the corners. Kyle Haines broke the tie with a sac fly scoring Maroul. Olmo then came up and blasted a triple to right field bring in AR to make the score 4-2. Carlos Sosa then plated Olmo with a sac fly of his own for a 5-2 lead. Nice to see some productive outs!
CT plated a couple of insurance runs in the top of the ninth on a Pablo Sandoval RBI single and a wild pitch.
Osgura (2-2) picks up the win throwing 3.1 IP of ine hit ball. Jason Waddell gets his first save pitching the last two innings and getting 4 Ks.
The "beginning" of the game was delayed about by rain by about 90 minutes and Game 2 started at 9:00. I caught the first couple off innings and left with no score. The radio is telling me they're in another rain delay in the fourth with still no score.

Misc fan notes: Good seeing lc and hoping hondo is having a good time at the HCC.
Pics from top to bottom: Osegura, the cheeseburger toss, and our "away" victory.