Cleat Geeks

Tribe Take: Strong Week

Looking to stay ahead in the AL Central coming off a solid week beforehand, the Tribe took to the field to take on two hot teams in the Dodgers and the Twins.

Monday started off with the day off for the Tribe, as they had a nice practice day to prep for the Dodgers the next day.

Clayton Kershaw took to the mound to take on the powerful Tribe offense in game 1 of the 3 game stint on Tuesday, and he was nothing short of dominant. He only gave up 2 runs and although the Tribe attempted a late comeback, it was too late as the Dodgers offense helped steal the first game at Progressive Field with a final of 7-5.

Wednesday was more of the same from the Dodgers all around team, as the offense was clicking once again and the pitching was solid as they stole another game, this one with a final of 6-4.

In the final game of the series on Thursday, it was the Tribe’s turn to take over. Their offense exploded for 12 runs in a complete game all around to head out to Minnesota on a high note.

After the strong finish against the Dodgers, the Tribe took off to Minnesota to play a 4 game series with the second place Twins.

All 4 games, including the double header on Saturday, were all domination by the Tribe. The Indians didn’t give up more than 3 runs in any game, and their offense came to life finally, as Edwin Encarnacion led the way and hit 2 homers to get his power back on Sunday.

STORY OF THE WEEK: After the Tribe were able to complete the 4 game sweep of the Twins, they propelled themselves into 1st place and sole control of the AL Central Division. With this division struggling, the future looks bright for the World Series runner up’s.

The Greatest Memories, Are Made at the Ballpark

Spring Training is in full swing (no pun intended). With that it symbolizes the beginning of the end of my diet of health foods for soon my diet will consist of hotdogs, ice cream and other awesome eats at the stadium. Spring Training also symbolizes the beginning of a new (clean) slate for all teams. It doesn’t matter the Indians blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series (I had to go there), or the fact the Rangers steamed rolled through the season only to get smoked by the Blue Jays with an ironic ending. It does not matter anymore because it’s a new season. All teams start at 1st place, at 0-0.

Baseball is unique in that it starts very close to the beginning of the new year. January ushered in the new year, and in February, a few weeks after we take weather advice from a Groundhog, pitchers and catchers report. This is really neat because most of us are tired of the winter weather and want to get back to being outside.

 

With the teams coming together we see a lot old faces and some new, it allows us to continue to follow that one player who is “your guy.” It allows us fans to scout the players to see who we are really hoping has a breakout season. It brings us fans back together, seeing our baseball family members. Its when we get back together we share stories of the moment we met that player, or we got an autograph from him, or the time we got a simple high-five from a player or even the ridiculous play we saw. And with those stories the true spirit of baseball emerges, because we can feel that excitement that person had when they had that memory made or witness what they saw.

 

These stories, remind us why we love the sport and why we put up with the traffic sometimes to get to the stadium. Such is a story I wanted to share.

 

It was the summertime months of 1992, I was playing for my little league team the A’s. As per the normal tradition of little league teams, we went to an Astros game. My dad had off from work, so he volunteered to chaperone the trip because a lot of us were going so, it only made sense to have more adults to watch us. So, one afternoon we (us kids) got into our little league uniforms and headed to Astrodome.

Photo by; Smiley N. Pool / Houston Chronicle

That trip was fun, because the Astrodome is huge and very intimating by the standards of that time. Anyone in Houston knows that if you’re on the 610 loop, as you cross 288 the top part of dome suddenly appears dominating everything by it. We are all excited, because we know who plays inside the dome, it’s the Astros and we are going to watch a MLB game.

 

I had been to the dome many times before with my dad to watch the Astros play, but we always sat in the “Nosebleeds,” this time we were sitting in left field. We pull into a spot, and fall out of the van, super excited, gloves and baseballs in hand. Mind you, we are dressed in our uniforms with our cleats on too. We look as if we’re going to play an actual game. The opponents that night, were the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

We begin walk towards the dome entrance and again, as a kid, this place is massive. Now say we walked in like disciplined solders would be a lie, we were excited so we were running laps around the slow moving adults. We got inside the concrete structure and from the concourse, you can’t see the field. Its solid concrete, its only when you pass a walk way to the seats, can you see a little glimmer of the field. Soon, we find our section and walk down the concrete tunnel, our cleats echoing on the floor and after a few feet, your inside the dome. It quickly opens up to this huge field of green AstroTurf with players scattered about on it, warming up.

 

We are in awe of this and our seats are right on the edge of the left field wall, so we quickly all run to edge and look over, pointing all over the stadium. We are scanning and see Craig Biggio and Bagwell signing over in the distance, for fans over by the dugout. A few Astros players go running underneath us, and we screamed at them to sign our baseballs we had. They kept on running, warming up. Other players would come around and we would keep repeating the screaming, to get one of them over, because we wanted to get an autograph.

 

Batting practice was wrapping up and the Cardinals had long since vanished back to the locker room. A few Astros remained warming up, a few hung out by the dugout signing some things. Were seeing that and rather disappointed that we weren’t able to get any autographs. I look up and see a Cardinals player standing outside of the Visitors dugout, and looking in our direction. We all sit down, and that same unknown player standing there, starts walking in our direction. Its long walk (so it seems when you’re a kid) from the dugout to the outfield. So a lot things can happen that would detour a player from coming out there.

 

But this player kept on walking to us. As he got to the wall, we all stood up and looked over at him. He had this huge smile on his face as he looked at us and he said “I know I am not on the Astros, but I will sign your baseballs, if you want?” We complied with joy, we didn’t care who it was, it was an Major Leaguer. This guy plays baseball professionally. After we told him, “YES!”, still with a smile he said “ok well throw your ball down one at a time so I can get all of you guys.” He walked to the first kid and the kid dropped his baseball. He signed it and tossed it back up. The next kid followed and so on. Now it’s about to be my turn. I am nervous. I am about to in-a-sense play toss with MLB player. In my mind, this is like a job interview. He could see the form you have and want you on the team, plus it’s a MLB player.

 

So, he shifts over underneath me and again with a smile says “alright young man, your turn”. I drop my Official Little League baseball down to him and with a smile he signed and said “here you go, catch!” and tossed it up. The world stops at that moment because you’re about to catch a baseball from a MLB player. Never mind you dropped a baseball to him and got his autograph. I remember catching it, looking at it and saying thank you and he smiled and said you’re welcome.

 

We didn’t know who he was. We saw Smith on the back of his jersey, and we all got more excited that it was Ozzie Smith! The Oz! One of the kids asked him “are you Ozzie Smith and with smile, laughed and said “no, I am Lee Smith.” We were like who the heck is Lee Smith? Lee had finished signing and we thanked him and that smile of his face said you’re welcome. Before he left he said he had one last gift for us, and by then the ballboy had joined Lee and handed him some baseballs. Lee tossed up a lot of the Official Major League Baseballs and they had clearly seen some action because they were all battle scared with impact marks from bats.

I couldn’t forget that smile he had. We thought, that was really nice of that player, Lee Smith, to come out and sign the baseballs for us. We didn’t know who he was, it was still really nice of him. The next day, my dad came home from work and came to me and my brother and he told us that while he was at work he was talking to one of his coworkers who was a huge baseball fan. He said, that he mentioned to the coworker, that he was at the game with my team and that me and brother got an autograph. The coworker asked who it was, and my dad responded some guy named Lee Smith. My dad told us, the coworker had stopped working and told my dad Lee Smith wasn’t just some guy, he was an extremely great pitcher.

 

So, suddenly after hearing that, the autograph and moment became more awesome for me. But because my brother and I both had identical baseballs signed by Lee Smith my mom put our initials on the other side each of the baseballs, so that we wouldn’t get our baseballs mixed up. A moment that would make a collector really upset to hear but it has been humorous to this day to bring up in family stories.

 

That year in 1992, I was watching the All-Star Game and they were introducing the pitchers and my dad said I think that is your guy out there. Sure enough, Lee Smith was announced and with his trademark smile and he stepped forward and raised his cap. I remember running to my room and grabbing that baseball and holding onto it during the game.

 

Years would pass and the baseball, in its cube would find its way around my room, eventually under my bed, and finally in a small box under my bed were it would sit for years. I would loose interest in baseball and gradually the baseball would be kind of nuisance item, always on my mind to get rid of.

 

I would slip into a dark depression after my dad passed, only to find that baseball in 2014, and having it bring light back into my life. While digging around, I found the Lee Smith baseball. The autograph faded badly but when I looked at it, the memory of such wonderful event came back. My first autograph was Lee Smith.

 

In February of this year, I heard Lee Smith was coming into town to do a signing at a TriStar show. I remembered how when I was a kid, Lee was my hero. So I jumped at the opportunity to meet him. In the months leading up to the event, every chance I got I told people I was going to meet my child hood hero, Lee Smith. Clearly the little kid inside of me never left and it was 1992 all over again for me.

 

Lee comes to town, and I show up 2 hours before his scheduled appearance time. I ate a hotdog while I waited and had coke. Then I had a lot of winter green flavored gum to freshen my breath. I straighten my collared shirt and worked my way to the ticket booth. There I bought one ticket for a photo op and two autographs. I wanted to get a baseball signed and my photo with him signed too. After all this is my hero. This guy was so gracious to walk the distance to sign a baseball for me when I was kid.

 

I waited by the photo section and it was finally time, he walked out with his wife and my childhood returned. He still had that smile, as life is good, always. It turned out I was the only person who was getting a photo with him. So, I nervously walked up shook his hand, said hello. He still smiling said “how you doing!?” We turned for the photo and they snapped it. Afterwards, I turned to him and told him straight up, “I wanted to thank you, many years ago when I was a kid, you became my hero.” He still smiling said “thank you for saying that, it’s great hearing that.”

 

He was quickly escorted to the autograph table. I waited for my photo to develop. And waited. And Waited. They are calling people with autograph vouchers for Lee Smith to head over to the table to get their autographs. I am still waiting for my photo and I am getting upset because I wanted to have that memory signed by my hero. Finally I told the staff member doing the photos to see if my photo was coming, because I was going to miss Lee Smith signing. He said he would check on it, and to head to the table, he would bring it to me there.

 

I arrived at the table and there really isn’t anyone waiting for him. I walk right up and he smiled when he saw me and was talking about how to me he was my hero. He signed my baseball and I told him, I wanted to get the photo of us signed. He and his wife said “we will wait.” After about 4 minutes that felt like hours, no photo had shown up. By their suggestion, I ran back to the photo area to find out there had been an issue with the printer and the ribbon had to be changed out, but photos were printing. After 10 minutes, and two batches, my photo came out. As soon as I got it, I ran back. I was half way there when a TriStar stopped me and said “Lee sent me to find you to make sure everything was ok.” I told him I had my photo and he said “Great, lets get back over there, they’re still waiting for you!”

 

I arrived back and Lee and his wife were both sitting at the table smiling at me. She said “alright! You got it!” Lee said “Let’s do this thing!” He signed it and I shook his hand again and thanked him again.

 

This guy went all out again for his fan. He never got voted into the Hall of Fame. He had killer stats, but its hard for a relief pitcher or closer to get in.

 

To me, in order to be a great player, you do not need great stats. You just need to have a great heart. Heart is everything, it provides power for the players hustle but it also makes the player take a moment for their fans. When a player takes that time, it can mean the world a difference for many. 10 seconds can create a lifetime memory.

 

My friends joke with me a lot when I get an autograph. They point out how nervous I am and its true. I am still a kid at heart when it comes to that. I think that makes it way more enjoyable to be at baseball games, because others who get an autograph would just go “whatever.” But by getting excited about it, your stoking that fire inside, that fuels the passion.

 

That gratitude should not be forgotten and is what makes baseball so great. The high fives or fist bumps players give fans as they run by, tossing a baseball to a kid or that moment when your hero runs up to you and signs something for you. It draws us fans, more into the game. Its stories that come out of the experiences, that are shared over and over for a lifetime, and they are told as if they happened last night. I was never a Cardinals fan, but I am always a Lee Smith fan.

 

Since that time, when I first met Lee Smith, I have fallen out of baseball, only to come back in 2014. When I  returned, I have made so many wonderful memories at the ballpark. Catching my first BP baseball (go ahead and laugh but to me, I was playing the right field position and it was the World Series). I have gone to countless Hot Stove shows, met various players, ate lunch with some players at minor league lunch-ins. Now when I say ate lunch with, Astros farmhands sat right next to me!

 

This Spring and regular season, have fun, bring your family and friends and make some new memories to share. Who knows, one day you or someone you brought could be sitting around and telling a story about the time they met so-and-so.

 

I want to leave you with a thought or question as the season gets started; Can you remember your first autograph and how it made you feel?

 

Lee Smith’s Stats :478 Saves, Strikeouts 1,251, W-L 71-92, Hero to one fan and maybe more.

Saber-Metrics Sunday: Eaton it Up

The free agent market may have been thin this year, but the hot stove was kept at a boil when White Sox GM Rick Hahn went to work at the winter meetings. As mentioned in the Chris Sale article, the White Sox are in a rebuilding process by selling of valuable veterans for young assets. After getting baseball’s number one prospect, Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, Hahn made a surprising blockbuster smash just a day later.

The White Sox traded OF Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals and in return got top-pitching prospect Lucas Giolito as well as Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning. This move shocked the baseball world seeing the White Sox taking away these prospects for just Adam Eaton. People suspected this kind of deal would happen, but the Sox would have included closer David Robertson in the deal. The Nationals seem desperate to get a title within the next year or so before Bryce Harper becomes Trump-like rich when he gets a new deal wherever it is.

So who did each side get in this deal? Lets break down the statistics:

Nationals

Adam Eaton

adameaton

2016 – .362 OBP/.790 OPS/8.9% BB/16.3% K/20 DRS (22 DRS in RF and -2 in CF)/ 18.0 DEF / 6.0 WAR

Eaton (28) had some eye-popping stats defensively this year. After spending most of his White Sox career in center field, he moved to mostly right field and was an advanced metrics defensive dream. His overall OF DRS of 22 improves from his 2015 -14 DRS…that’s a drastic change like no other. His defensive rating went from -8.8 in 2015 to his 2016 18.0. So it seems the Nats will play him in right field because his numbers in each position are so far off. Batting wise. Not going to slug much or hit bombs, but he is good at getting on base and can come up with a big hit.

White Sox

lucasgiolito

Lucas Giolito (#3 prospect in baseball)

Throws: Right – Age: 22

2016

AA – 3.30 FIP / 0.25 HR-9 / 9.13 K-9 / 23.0%K / 10.9%BB / 1.42 WHIP in 71.0 IP

AAA – 2.96 FIP / 0.72 HR-9 / 9.64 K-9 / 26.9%K / 6.7%BB / 1.10 WHIP in 37.1 IP

Nationals – 8.21 FIP / 2.95 HR-9 / 4.64 K-9 / 10.9%K / 11.9%BB / 1.78 WHIP in 21.1 IP

Giolito spent a little time in the bigs last year and struggled…but it’s no reason to panic. He’s 22 years old and has more developing to do. His minor league numbers show more why he is a top prospect. His AAA numbers are a smaller sample size but he did not walk a lot of guys and had a good FIP overall. Scouting reports have mentioned Giolito is still working on his pitches and getting more movement on his fastball which has been called “too straight”. If he can work things out and grow, he has a lot of promise. I think most Sox fans know by now that it’s key to let players develop and not to rush them. Let him get consistent starts to begin 2017 and work from there.

reynaldolopez

Reynaldo Lopez 

Throws: Right – Age: 22

2016

AA – 3.03 FIP / 0.83 HR-9 / 11.79 K-9 / 30.4%K / 7.6%BB / 1.23 WHIP in 76.1 IP

AAA – 4.96 FIP / 1.64 HR-9 / 7.09 K-9 / 20.2%K / 7.8%BB / 0.94 WHIP in 33.0 IP

Nationals – 3.92 FIP / 0.82 HR-9 / 8.59 K-9 / 20.9%K / 11.09%BB / 1.57 WHIP in 44.0 IP

Most innings in 2016 was in AA but spent some time in AAA and the majors. He is #4 prospect now in the Sox farm system and his time in the majors last year wasn’t too bad for a 22-year old. His FIP in AAA is inflated because his home run rate was higher than his AA and MLB time. This is a guy I can see pitching in 2017 for the Sox. Could be a June callup or see what happens in spring.

danedunning

Dane Dunning 

Throws: Right – Age: 21 (29th overall pick)

2016

Low A – 2.57 FIP / 0.27 HR-9 / 7.75 K-9 / 22.0%K / 5.3%BB / 0.98 WHIP in 33.2 IP

This kid has a lot of upside. Now #10 in the Sox farm, Dunning was a first round pick by the Nats last year and this may be a small low A ball sample size, but the numbers are good. The FIP is good and has a very low BB% with a sub-one WHIP. Scouts talk about his fastball that is not super-fast but has great movement. Will he play at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2017? 99.9% chance is no. Still has a long way to go before he gets to the majors. Probably going to be a few years before he reaches the majors.

Friday Feelgood; My Favorite Yankee

Tyler Austin
A little backstory before the article. In 2011 when I first heard of Tyler Austin the first thing I heard about was his battle with cancer. At the time we had a close friend that was battling cancer. Tyler Austin’s story inspired me. It is exactly what America is all about. His story is heart warming, and defines courage and the fighting spirit. Tyler Austin is the definition of a warrior. Being a long time fan of Austin, you can imagine my excitement when in his first big league at bat he went yard at Yankee Stadium. After years of waiting to see him play at the big league level I was overjoyed. Tyler Austin is by far my favorite Yankee. He is everything that embodies a true Yankee, and strength to keep going on. Below is the story of my favorite Yankee.
Tyler Austin attended Heritage High School in Georgia. His childhood idol was Derek Jeter and he grew up in wanting to play one day for the same team as Derek Jeter, The New York Yankees. Austin was tearing a part his high school league. His sophomore season he batted .626 with 19 home runs. The Rockdale citizen newspaper named him the top hitter in the area after his record season.
Soon things would change for the worse. At the age of 17 Tyler Austin was told the word no one ever wants to hear. He had testicular cancer and it may or may not require chemotherapy. His mother, Kim Austin said that he was calm the entire time and maintained faith and promised her that he would be fine. After a surgery to remove a tumor and stitches only a week and a half later he played in a high school show case game at Petco Park the home of the San Diego Padres. After the game he would go back to the hospital to find out the cancer did not spread and he would not need chemotherapy.
He ended up being drafted in the thirteenth round by The New York Yankees. His dream of playing for the same organization as his childhood hero, Derek Jeter was becoming a reality. His first professional season was 2011, and he came out of the gate hot. He batted .354 over 47 games while slugging 6 homers and knocking in thirty six runs. He followed up that great performance with an encore in 2012. Austin added a stellar 2012 season to his resume batting .322 and hitting 17 home runs and batting in 80 runs.tyler_austin_thunder
After just 159 professional games Austin got his promotion to AA ball with the Trenton Thunder and cracked the top 50 in Baseball America’s top prospect list. 2013 was a bit of a different story for Austin he struggled all season with a nagging wrist that kept him sidelined and brought his average down to .275 on the year. His next two seasons would go woefully and in 2015 he batted just .240 with 6 home runs and 35 runs batted in over the course of 94 games. On September 1, 2015 Tyler Austin was designated for assignment by the Yankees. Though many thought it was likely that one team would claim him all thirty teams passed on him. Tyler Austin had now lost his spot on the 40 man roster and his hopes of being a major league ball player were getting dimmer each day.
Coming into the 2016 season, Tyler Austin found himself in a very similar setting. Double A playing for the Trenton Thunder. He had called this place home for parts of five professional seasons now after getting to that level so early in his career. This year though he brought with himself a different mindset. He told himself that he was going to go out and play the game that he loved and have fun while doing it. His wrists were feeling better and he got back to enjoying the game he loved. After making minor changes to his approach Austin earned his call up to triple A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.autinjudgepostgameinterview
Tyler Austin responded to his new promotion by coming out on fire. He batted a staggering .323 in AAA along with 13 homers and 49 runs batted in. While Austin continued to smash the baseball Yankee fans became more and more restless to see him play at the major league level. When the Yankees announced the release of Alex Rodriguez there was a lot of speculation of who would get the call. For a week there were debates and questions of who would get the call. Finally Saturday August the thirteenth Austin got his chance to wear the same pinstripes that his childhood idol Derek Jeter wore. Even better, his first game would be during the 1996 20 year anniversary ceremony where he was able to meet all of the players from that team including his childhood hero, Derek Jeter. To go along with that the Yankees shocked the baseball world by quietly calling up a friend of Tyler Austin’s by the name of Aaron Judge.
In the bottom of the second Tyler Austin came up to bat for the first time as a New York Yankee. After fouling off a few pitches and working the count to 2-2. Austin took a 92mph outside fastball and deposited it into the seats in right field for a home run in his first big league at bat. Not to be outdone that would lead to history when Aaron Judge followed up with a home run of his own. That made them the only duo to homer on the same day in their debut’s. Austin would finish his first big league game by going 2 for 4 with a home run and a stolen base.

Tyler Austin looks like he could have a bright future ahead of him in pinstripes. With a newfound approach at the plate Austin is hoping to capitalize on his historic first day in the bigs. He has always maintained a very strong mindset, and to overcome the things that he has been through in his life. You have to have a special type of mindset to stay positive after everything he has been through in his life. You know that you will get one hundred percent from him everyday, and he will come to the ball park ready to play. It should be fun watching him and continuing to see him develop. He has come a long way from cancer survivor to Major League Baseball player. Regardless of what Austin’s future awaits him in baseball. He can be assured that his future is bright and that he can be successful at whatever he wants to do.

If you think this article would be of interest to someone you know, then share it to your Twitter, Facebook, of one of the other social medias below! #GeeksRuleTheSportsWorld!

Gleyber Torres Pushing Jorge Mateo To Reach Maximum Potential For Yankees

On July 25 the baseball world was shocked to hear the Yankees had traded their closer, the elite reliever Aroldis Chapman, to the Chicago Cubs. The person who may have been most shocked was Jorge Mateo.jorgemateo

At 21 years old, shortstop Mateo is highly regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball and prior to that trade he was the number one prospect in the Yankees organization. He had a great spring training and really impressed the team with his bat and speed. Then he started out the season in Class A Tampa and tore the league to shreds. He batted .337 in the first month of the season. In May he regressed slightly, but not enough to raise concern. He still posted a solid .270 average that month.

His efforts got Mateo invited to the Futures Game and it looked like everything was going his way, but somewhere along the line he got lost in the glamour of being the number one prospect of the New York Yankees. Frustrated that he didn’t get a promotion from Class A ball to Double-A with his friend Miguel Andujar, he suggested to the Yankees front office that he be promoted and someone from the Double-A roster be demoted or released. The Yankees responded by hitting Mateo with a two-week suspension, causing him to miss the Futures Game. I believe that over late May and June Mateo was not taking Class A seriously and instead was holding a grudge that he hadn’t yet been promoted.gleygertorres

In June, Mateo batted just .194 and didn’t fare much better in July with a .206 average. It appeared that Mateo had lost his fire to work hard and develop as a player. He thought that he was above Class A and deserved better. Then, on July 25, the Yankees acquired Gleyber Torres along with others in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Torres was immediately ranked as the new number one prospect of the Yankees, and upon arrival to Class A Tampa Torres met his new teammate, Jorge Mateo. Not only was Mateo stripped of his title of being the number one prospect of the Yankees, he was moved to second base from shortstop to make room for Torres.

clintfrazierIt appeared that the Torres trade lit a spark under Jorge Mateo and the fire came back to him. The competition with Torres brought out the best of his abilities, and if the Torres trade wasn’t enough, the trade of Andrew Miller for Clint Frazier and company moved Mateo down in the rankings to the third best prospect in the organization. There is a certain humility players have to maintain while playing the game of baseball and in an organization like the Yankees, everyone is expendable and you can and will be replaced if you don’t get the job done. Maybe Mateo started to learn this lesson as the Yankees system filled with more young stars.
I believe that Gleyber Torres is the best thing that has happened to Jorge Mateo. The results suggest that the move brought back his fight and will to succeed. He is batting .328 since the trade and is once again competing and taking Class A seriously. He is tearing the league apart in an attempt to win back his place as the number one prospect. The result for the Yankees is that many say that this is the best middle infield combination in all of minor league baseball. These two definitely have a lot more to learn and many steps to take before they hit the majors, but Torres has undoubtedly helped Mateo become the player that everyone thinks he can be. It should be fun watching these guys progress and hopefully raise a world championship trophy together one day in New York.
Edited by: Joey Santanello @joeysantanello

Enough Already, Tim Tebow

After all the hype Tim Tebow goes to the New York Mets. I really thought the Braves had him. If anyone needs 15 minutes of fame right now it is the 5th place, National League East Atlanta Braves.

Tim Tebow

Photo By; Chris Carlson

So why does a franchise that has such a dedicated fan base need a washed up, former quarterback? They do not need the one day of media attention, nor the flurry of tweets in the hours after the signing took place. And they do not need Tebow to help this team achieve a playoff spot in future seasons. They are doing just fine in second place, at 9 games behind the Nationals. Tebow will not add or subtract anything.

timtebowbroncosAdmittedly, I am assuming a lot. I am assuming that Tebow will make the team next season. Spoiler Alert: he won’t. He will be great for getting football fans out to Spring Training, because God knows, he will be on that field in Port St. Lucie to put butts in those seats. He may even convert some die-hard Christians to the Gods of baseball, too. Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth have nothing on Jesus Christ. (Well, that’s my opinion.)

Still, Mets’ brass insist that this was not a publicity stunt. Adam Rubin of ESPN quotes a Mets’ spokesperson, “This was not something that was driven by marketing considerations or anything of the sort. We are extremely intrigued with the potential that Tim has.” Ok, sure. No baseball scouts or operations guys for the Mets, working under Terry Collins, one of the greatest coaches of the current baseball era, would ever give the ‘Ok’ to select Tim Tebow, who last played baseball in 2005 as a junior in high school.

Fans are not the only ones perplexed and disgusted. The $100,000 signing bonus really rubbed a lot of minor league baseball prospects the wrong way. He gets to jump the line and get a signing bonus? Heck no! Many of those prospects felt disenfranchised, and did what every self-righteous millennial does when feeling hurt: take to twitter to complain about their micro aggressions. Well, I suppose a minor league contract is not a micro aggression, but rather a macro one, especially when you have sacrificed time and money to make it to the ‘big show’ tim-tebow-heismansomeday, every day since you were in junior high.

You won the Heisman and played in an NFL playoff game. Tim, isn’t that enough?

It is justified rage…and we are all feeling it. We are just going to have to accept that God truly has touched Tim Tebow.

Jesus Christ. ::sigh::

 

Minor League Gun Control

Weird promo nights are fairly common outside of Major League Baseball. Minor-league and independent-league clubs don’t have the star power needed to draw in fans, so they have to come up with ways to bring fans out to the ballpark.Battle-Creek-Bombers

With that said, some promotions are better than others. We’ll let you be the judge of the latest idea from the Battle Creek Bombers. The Bombers are part of the Northwoods League, which is best described as a collegiate summer league. They are not affiliated with any major-league club.

On June 24, the Bombers hosted “Second Amendment Education Night.” The event was sponsored by local gun dealer Freedom Firearms.

Freedom Firearms co-owner Joel Fulton said the business will have several different displays throughout C.O. Brown Stadium, including one for the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe program. The program, Fulton said, aims for gun accident prevention by educating children what to do if they encounter a gun.

Fulton said many people are averse to guns because of “a lack of education and a lack of knowledge” on the subject.

“We hope our local businesses will support our local ball clubs,” Fulton said. “Why it becomes so controversial when I do it, I don’t know. It’s not like I run a whorehouse or am selling drugs. I’m selling a product protected by the Constitution. I want my products used safely and I don’t want tragedies or accidents or accidental discharges (to occur).”

“It’s a celebration of responsible gun ownership and learning, if you do have a firearm, how to do it safely,” said Bombers General Manager Tony Lovieno.

Bombers General Manager Tony Iovieno said plans for the event have been in the works since at least October as a way to promote gun safety and to showcase “a strong business in the community who wants to support the team in a unique way.” With gun violence at the forefront of political consciousness in the United States, Iovieno said he hopes fans will take away knowledge of Constitutional and Michigan law on guns as well information about firearms safety education.

“Who am I to take an odd political stance and say we can’t do that?” Iovieno said. “I don’t think that’s the role I have or what I should be doing. But I like that this is sparking a conversation because it’s a conversation that should be had.”

BattleCreekBombers2Freedom Firearms co-owner Jim Fulton explained more about the event.

“There’s going to be some booths underneath the bleachers set up showcasing the education portion,” said Freedom Firearms co-owner Joel Fulton.  “We’re going to have some gun safe stuff for the kids there, basic safety stuff for kids so they know how to be safe around firearms.”

The Bombers do not plan to take a political stance on the issue, though Iovieno said mass shootings in the country have been “horrific.”

It’s important to note a few things here. First off, this event has been in the works for months. It is not something that was thrown together to try and capitalize on current events. Second, while it will be an open carry event, anyone caught drinking while carrying will be asked to leave the game. Not only will guns will not be sold at the game, but as a free promotion, the Bombers gave away free triger locks to those entering the gates.

 

Hungry For Minor League Baseball?

The Triple-A baseball team in New Orleans, currently called the Zephyrs and affiliated with the Miami Marlins, is looking for a new name for next season that represents the city’s great culture. The Zephyrs name was inherited when the team moved from Denver in 1993.

So like any respectable minor-league franchise, they asked fans to submit ideas, and there is a definite theme among the seven finalists released earlier this week:

In alphabetical order, the seven finalists are:zephyrsCenter

New Orleans Baby Cakes: A tribute to the Mardi Gras king cakes where small plastic babies are sought after, the Baby Cakes celebrates a unique Louisiana tradition.

New Orleans Crawfish: Pays tribute to those lovable and tasty critters we hold festivals for, and who call New Orleans home.

New Orleans King Cakes: The King Cake tradition bring families and community members together to celebrate the joyous season of Mardi Gras, just like Minor League Baseball draws families together.

New Orleans Night Owls: Both a play on words and an alliteration, Night Owls celebrates the New Orleans nightlife and a night out at the ballpark.

New Orleans Po’boys: A tribute to the culinary capital of the Gulf Cost, this fun name falls in line with other wacky names Minor League Baseball is known for.

New Orleans Red Eyes: New Orleans Red Eyes honors Louisiana’s crawfish festivals, and the bright red crawfish New Orleans love.

New Orleans Tailgators: Alligators are synonymous with Louisiana, and tailgating is synonymous with baseball.

“We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and creativity of our fans,” said Zephyrs Senior Vice President and General Manager Cookie Rojas. “This process has proven how passionate New Orleanians are about the city, and the diversity of this community has been reflected in the nicknames we received.”ZephyrsTeam

To recap: that’s two potential names with a nod to Mardi Gras cakes, two to a local seafood fare, one for a native Louisiana sandwich, and another that merges the time-honored cooking and eating tradition of tailgating with gators, leaving Night Owls as the only option without a direct connection to food.

The people responsible for trimming the fan suggestions down to seven must have skipped lunch on the day they wittled down the list to seven from the over 2,000 they received. Or maybe it’s a brilliant plan to increase business at the stadium concessions because the team name is making customers hungry. The only thing left to do would be name the team the hot dogs or apple pies!

Fans have until July 8 to give some food for thought and vote on which name they like best. For more information, vote here or contact the Zephyrs at (504) 734-5155 or visit zephyrsbaseball.com but don’t do it while you are hungry.

Minor League Super Hero

This weekend has been declared by Cleat Geeks as Minor League weekend. We will feature several stories about Minor League sports and ask that all our fans participate and send in your favorite pictures of minor league ballparks, your favorite memories and stories from minor league ballparks, or all the above. Send your pictures, memories and stories to mballentine@cleatgeeks.com. Some lucky fans will have their memories and stories turned into articles and you could also have your photos shared on our Twitter and Facebook pages!

When the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers took the field for Super Hero Night this past Friday, their jerseys will looked a lot different than usual. That’s because the team was honoring a super hero within its own family in four-year-old Miles Mortensen.MattMortenson

Mortensen, who’s the son of current Omaha reliever and former major leaguer Clayton Mortensen, is currently undergoing treatment following a cancer relapse last month. As a show of support during his courageous fight, the team decided to create a special custom jersey that would be worn in Miles’ honor.

The team even included its fans in the process by holding a contest earlier in the month. The winning jersey was designed by Nicole Pappas of Boston, and according to Omaha.com will feature players and coaches wearing capes on the back of their jerseys as part of the design.

The white jerseys featured a large blue “M” for Miles on the front, with the Storm Chasers’ “O-Bolt” logo in yellow directly behind it. Surrounding the “M” and logo on the front are the words “Super Miles” in support of Miles.

The arm sleeves are yellow with the hashtag “#LetsGoMiles” on the left arm. The yellow sleeves symbolize pediatric cancer awareness. The back also features a yellow wind-blown superhero cape behind the Storm Chasers’ jersey numbers.SuperHeroJerseysCenter

Miles Mortensen is the four-year-old son of Storm Chasers Pitcher (2014-Present) Clayton Mortensen and his wife Janna. Miles has been valiantly battling Neuroblastoma, a rare form of Pediatric Cancer, since 2014. Miles underwent chemotherapy and eventually stem cell therapy, which left Miles cancer-free for over a year. Recently, after a three-month check-up it was discovered that the neuroblastoma has returned in a different area. Miles, the Mortensen’s and their extended family and friends must now prepare for another battle.

Last Friday’s Super Hero Night featured a #LetsGoMiles jersey auction to support the son of P Clay Mortensen. Yeah, those jerseys were pretty awesome! And that’s due in large part to the fact that Miles himself was able to select the winning uniform.

“From the submissions, there were six that he got to pick from, and he picked the one that he thought was the most awesome,” Miles’ mother, Janna Mortensen, told FOX Sports this past Friday. “I think he really liked seeing his name on there. He’s really into his name and knowing the letters right now, so he really liked the design of it.” BrianDuensing

It doesn’t get any better than that. Well, until you hear this.

The jerseys were auctioned off during the Storm Chasers’ game on Friday night, with one-hundred percent of the proceeds benefiting “Let’s Go Miles.” The fundraising total will also be matched one-hundred percent by the Brian Duensing Foundation, which was created by Storm Chaser’s pitcher Brian Duensing.

This night was a resounding win for everybody involved. We hope those in and around Omaha supported this worthy cause.

The Brian Duensing Foundation is dedicated to providing hope and support to families battling cancer or serious illness. This is accomplished by increasing awareness and by raising funds to support two main areas: (1) research and improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment; and (2) outreach projects specifically designed to ease the emotional, financial and spiritual burdens enduring by families facing these diseases.To learn more about the Brian Duensing Foundation visit the website at this link.

FeelGood Friday; You Pick The Team Name

Have you ever dreamnt of naming a baseball team? Now you don’t have to pinch yourself, and you are awake, your opportunity is finally here!

The Binghamton Mets are looking for a new name and have received more than 1,500 suggestions in a contest among fans. The team has whittled that list down to six finalists, and it’s safe to say the new name will be a bit more colorful than the Mets.

The team, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets, announced the six finalists redently and will allow fans to vote through June 1. The team plans to wait to announce the winner until October. The Double-A Binghamton Mets are going to be going through a rebrand. As part of the new branding of the club, Binghamton will be dropping the nickname ‘Mets’ from its team name. That may sound outrageous to some Met’s fans, but just wait until you then read the 6 suggestions.Binghamton-Mets-Logo-500x248

With suggestions like Stud Muffins, Rumble Ponies and Timber Jockeys among the finalists, one might think fans were trying to be funny with their submissions more than finding a meaningful suggestion, but it turns out all six finalists have legitimate local significance to the Binghamton, N.Y. area.

Here are all six finalists and the explanation of local significance provided on the Binghamton Mets website.

Bullheads: A local inhabitant of the Susquehanna River, a Bullhead is a bullhead catfish. The bullhead displays a tough and resilient character such as the Binghamton community.

Gobblers: A symbol of the rich hunting culture of the area, the Gobblers honors the outdoorsman lifestyle and turkeys who call Binghamton home.

Rocking Horses: The Rocking Horses celebrates the Triple Cities’ rich history as the “Carousel Capital of the World.”

Rumble Ponies: A tribute to the Triple Cities’ rich carousel heritage, the Rumble Ponies is a herd of fierce horses that no carousel center pole can contain.

Stud Muffins: While tipping a cap to the players on the field, the Stud Muffins celebrates the collection of carousel horses belonging to Binghamtonians.

Timber Jockeys: Combining the fun of Minor League Baseball with the rich carousel history of the Triple Cities, the Timber Jockeys pays homage to everyone that rides the carousels.

BinghamtonMets25The club asked fans to think of a name that “embodies what Binghamton, N.Y. is known for.” It encouraged fans to take that into consideration when voting as well. Some of those nicknames are clearly unlike the others. Whenever mentioning a top prospect at Binghamton, it would certainly be unique to hear a broadcaster say, “Player-X of the Stud Muffins” or “Player-Y has been optioned to the Rumble Ponies.” Honestly, the possibilities for joy, entertainment, and tomfoolery happens to be endless.

Now you can help make history by clicking here to cast your vote. Will you choose Stud Muffins, helping bring a muscular, blueberry muffin mascot into the world? Or will you go for Rumble Ponies, envisioning the team coming out to a “Grease” song? Or perhaps you’re a Rocking Horses fan because of that weird dream you had growing up where your rocking horse came to life and became your best friend?

The choice is yours. Choose responsibly.

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