Friday, August 29, 2008

My final post

Well, I went to the game last night to say goodbye to the hometown team. Yeah, I know...Ben Deach said check the website for 2009 ticket info; yeah, I know...GBL owners say they haven't made a decision but we all know the reality. And the other 200 people who were there last night know it too.

I want to start by saying thanks to guys like Curt Jacey, John Rice, and Ben Deach who busted their asses to make this thing work and to the great folks from the league office like Kevin Outcalt who actually listened to the fans. It was a fun three years that included a league title.

One thing I have never really discussed on this blog is that Kevin and Curt let me work with the team last year and John was the actual guy I worked with the most. I got to ask every question I wanted and got real answers. I got to hang in the booth for the better part of the second half and I got to try the different jobs that occur in there. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I really appreciated it.

It was a great three years and I had a blast going to the park and follwing the team. I told you my goal was to treat it like an MLB team so, through this blog, I think you saw how into this team I tried to be. I hope it added something to your enjoyment of the team as well.

Unfortunately, and this is no knock on the folks I just mentioned, the announcement of AAA baseball in concert with the tight budgets of GBL teams killed the Silver Sox. And no one is really to blame. You can't expect the GBL to continue to pour money into a team that draws in only 50-200 fans per game this year (with the exception of firework nights). And because of that, the people who did show up probably got a lessened experience from prevous seasons. Here are some examples:

-- All games in 2007 (home and away) were on the local ESPN affilate. This year, only home games were braodcast and it was only on the internet. This meant that you couldn't listen to the game at the stadium or on the way home if you had to leave. And, for the past month, no games have been broadcast at all.

-- I believe what was meant to be a monthly printed program became a one and done program. I never saw another one and, last night, there weren't any at all handed out. And, at no time this year did I get printed rosters like we got the last two years. This is key with a team with high turnover.

-- Speaking of turnover, the Sox sold zero players to MLB this year. Zero. Remember in 2006 we set the record for an independent team for the number of players we sent back to affiliated ball. Instead, we sent Crespi, Dixon, Brown and Senreiso--some of our best players--to other independent teams. If that is not a slap in the face to our team, I don't know what is. Brown was to complete a previous deal...the others? We got nothing in exchange.

-- And that is probably because the on-field product this year was SO bad. The pitching was the absolute worst I have seen in three years and it really detracted from games. I didn't count but I would wager that half the games we lost were the result of the other team scoring double digit runs. Because the entire pitching squad was so bad, guys would just stay out there and get bombed for 6,8, or 10 runs because there was no one else to come in. Last night was a perfect example when we got yet another "rent a pitcher" who got bombed and, with the expection of one mound visit by Leslie, stayed in the game depsite being totally ineffective. And even defense like the awesome plays from Hattig, Alvarado, and Madrid couldn't change that.

-- Giveaways were WAY down! There was the league wide giveaway of sun flower seeds and there was a (delayed) giveaway of a logo ball...but the other advertised giveaways like baseball cards and mini-bats went by the wayside. Just comparing this to Chico shows that other league owned teams are light years ahead of the Sox. This is part of minor league and major league baseball. This has to happen.

-- Website updates were atrocious. Last year we got game reports, player profiles, and an e-mail every time a player was sold to affiliated ball or to talk about roster changes. This year? No away games for the first month and then some reports from away games later; nothing on player movement (Crespi, Senreiso, and Dixon, our three best players. leave and no one tells us anything). Then our PA announcer of 2.5 years leaves. Again, no info to the fans. It made following the team very difficult unless you were hardcore enough (like me) to scour the internet for information. This hurt brand loyalty since we never knew who would be on the field from game to game (epsecially at the pitcher spot). I mean in the final games our DH was who??? A guy not on the roster and not on the GBL transactions page.

-- Speaking of transactions, the GBL quit trying to update this as well. Many transactions went unposted which is unacceptable since the league owns the team. They sign all the contracts so it is not like they didn't know when guys joined the team, even if it took a couple of days to be reported to them by local management.

-- On field entertainment fell to just a pizza box race, a dizzy bat race, and mascot race. This is less than last year (tricycle race, sign race, etc) and is way less than the other stadiums...just review the video I sent from Long Beach's sumo wrestling. The bottom line is, in yet another chicken and the egg scenario, I am not sure if the lack of fans killed the atmosphere or if the lack of promotions did. Either way, the stadium was dead silent a lot of the time this year. I mean I can hear coaches talking to players and players talking to each other...kind of cool but energy in a stadium really improves the environment.

-- My daughter caught a foul ball in Chico once and it was great for her. A real GBL ball with Kevin Outcalt's signature on it. We caught a foul ball tonight and it said "Minor League Baseball" and was signed by Pat O' Connor. Not only are the Sox not part of MiLB but O'Connor is not the commissioner. Not to sound snide but did the Sox get a cut-rate deal on balls that was cheaper than official GBL balls? This seemed pretty unprofessional.

-- Finally, advertising was way down. No radio ads on ESPN and no ads in the paper. I saw a TV commercial but it was so in frequent that in watching an A's game I saw it once. And to be honest, how many people are really watching an A's-Orioles game beside hard core fans who probably already have a decision in their mind about the Silver Sox.

In any event, I feel both the GBL and the fans gave up on the Sox this year and now they will be looking for a new home. If they tried to come back, I can't see it being economically feasible without stripping out even more of the stuff we have come to expect. Fan support is just not there. Remember that when the league debuted in Reno, their goal was 1500 a night to break even. So unless there are 1300+ paid no-shows a night, this team has been underwater all year.

I will always be a Silver Sox fan and a fan of the GBL. It was a good three years and I may have to take in a Chico game next year just to support the league. The GBL is a great concept and my appreciation for indy baseball has grown tremendously. I wasn't pleased with how it ended in terms of the experience fans got but, at the end of the day, it was what we allowed them to give us by not attending in larger numbers like we did in season one. In the end, the final homestand was the perfect ending...swept at home in front of 200 fans. Kind of the story of this season...swept out of town with only a few people even noticing they are gone. Sad, really, with as hard as the players and staff worked...and for the true blue fans who came all the Richard with his lollipops and the girl who sat behind me and knew everything about every player. But it is what it is.

Thanks for reading for these two years...I enjoyed the interaction with everyone and the ability to follow our hometown team so closely.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What a difference a week makes...

So if we hadn't hit rock bottom before, we are definitely there now. The hemmorage of good players continues as Senreiso and Brown have now moved on and the team is mired in a 6-game losing streak. And, it would appear, as close to an official word that the Sox are gone from Reno was found in the Tucson Citizen in an article about bringing the GBL to Tucson. In interviewing league owners and the commish, the author made this comment:

Former Tucson Sidewinders owner Jay Zucker is talking to the Golden Baseball League and the American Association to keep a pro team in Tucson after selling the Triple-A franchise to Reno, Nev.

The Sidewinders are set next year to move to Reno, which will lose its Golden League team, the Silver Sox.

So there it is...the swan song of the Sox begins in a couple of days when they play at Peccole for the last time. So hopefully you can make it out for one last time and support the team.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Personal Update

Sorry for the lack of updates. We had a death in the family so I won't be blogging until 24 AUG.

For what it is worth, the Sox are 14 games under .500 with 15 games to play so a loss tonight will assure the Sox of finishing that way on the season. But, we'll see where we are in a week. Maybe there will be something to cheer about.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Series Report: Chico @ Reno (8-9 August)

Game One: Despite some very poor pitching, the Sox had a very exciting come from behind victory on the backs of huge homeruns by Senreiso, McCoy, Brown, and Hattig. In fact, Senreiso belted two and Brown knocked a grandslam out of Peccole to lead the Sox to a 13-9 win. Jeffrey Leonard, to his credit, did his best to keep the team in the game. Chaffardet had another bad outing and was yanked after just three innings. I has to make you cringe when Chico's announcer reminds the fans that the early runs the Outlaws scored were "gift wrapped" as this just what they were. One in particular was the result of 2 wild pitches and a passed ball. And even with a huge lead provided by all this offense, the ninth was still a nailbiter as Billy Simon surrendered a 3 runs on two hits and two walks in the ninth inning. Chaffardet avoided the loss but his ERA climed to 9.17 and Simon's poor outing in the ninth increased his to 10.50. Kevin Picirillio also pitched. He is still not on the Sox roster and still has no first name on Howe Sports Data, but in case you were wondering, Rory Miller said his name is Kevin Picirillo, he is from Vacaville, CA, and pitched last in the defunct New York State League. No information on "B Wharton" who was an outfielder added to the Sox roster recently. But, the bottom line is that
a win is a win and so long as we have Senreiso (4-5, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs), Brown (2-5, 1 HR, 5RBIs), and Hattig (3-5, 1 HR, 2 RBIs), the Sox will still give fans something to cheer about even if the pitching still makes us pull our hair out!

Game Two:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Series Report: Reno @ Chico (August 4-7, 2008)

UPDATE: D.J. Dixon is officially gone and is a member of the Winnipeg Golden Eyes of the Independent Northern League. Still no update on the GBL transactions page, the Sox webpage, or via e-mail. It would be nice to know why we sold our best player to another independent league, guys. Did he want it? Is it to improve relations with the Northern League? Did we get anything besides money back? And is this officially the sign that the Sox have given up on the season? Please let us know!
"We plan on winning the second half. We have seen everybody now. The teams that beat us at the beginning are going to see an entirely different team. I expect to be playing (first half winner) Calgary for the title and whoever wins the other division, to be playing them in the championship."

-- Jeffrey Leonard in the July 15, 2008 edition of the Reno Gazette Journal

Game One: Now I am not sure if Jeffrey Leonard still believes this but one thing is for sure: The Sox have assured they won't be swept in this series as they have in the past two of three series. In fact, Landavazo had a great outing going 6.1 innings and giving up just one run in his second start of the year. In 18 games in the GBL this year, he is 2-1 with a 4.87 ERA but if you count his time with the Sox only, his ERA is 2.20. With no update on Kevin Frederick's condition, it looks like we have Hall, Russell, Landavazo, and maybe Chaffardet if he can find his groove. Other than that, it still looks like we have at least one position for starter by committee. And so far, that has not worked well for us. On the offensive side, John Hattig smacked homerun number 10 as the Sox won to bring their record to 6-12 with 26 games remaining in the second half. It is not looking good but "it ain't over 'til it's over".

Game Two: Steve Russell had a shaky outing and then the game became a blow out once Reggie Leslie entered the contest. Ever since Leslie went on the inactive list a while back he has been one our most inconsistent pitchers. Not sure if there is still a lingering injury but in any event, he is not pitching as well as he did before going on the inactive list. The Sox were held to just three hits as the Chico Outlaws stymied them once again. Two of those came from Senreiso, who is also rumored to be moving on soon--this has all the earmarks of a Florida Marlins fire sale...except that we are not getting anything back or building for next year. Of course, the recent loss of Dixon frees up playing time for Ryan Brown who is also a slugger, but just not in the category of Dixon. But maybe he'll be able to handle the increased playing time and really step up. Time will tell.

Game Three: An ugly win is better than a pretty loss and the Sox definitely proved that axiom to be true. After spotting the Outlaws 3 runs without a hit, the Sox looked on their way to losing another game. A combination of errors, wild pitches, and a balk made the Sox look like a little league team. But they clawed their way back in and with the lead changing hands several times and Todd Galetka blowing his second save in four days, the Sox were able to survive by the skin of their teeth. Closer Mitch Arnold was anything but dominant as he gave up a run on a hit and a walk in is one inning of work en route to his third save on the season. Not to beat a dead horse but Rookie Adam Geery (he was playing JUCO ball before coming to the Sox) looked very shaky defensively and it would be nice to still have Dixon behind the plate to take charge of the game. But it was not to be. Best offensive moment of the night? SS Doug Sanders, clearly the weakest hitter in the line-up knocked in the two runs that ended up being the deciding factor in this game. Great props to him as I am sure his lack of success this year has to be really frustrating. The worst the Sox can do tomorrow is split the series so that is some good news for a team desperate for some wins.

Game Four: Jesse Hall got lit-up for seven runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning and the outlaws never looked back as they cruised to a 5-hit shutout of the Silver Sox, 11-0. I didn't listen to the whole game (checked out around 8:30PM) but there was a debut by some guy named "B Wharton" and another appearance by "Picirillo"; at least that is what they are called on Howe Sports Data. As for the Sox website and the GBL website, not sure if those are updated since they have been infected with a trojan since last week. My anti-virus caught it the two times I logged on anyway but I figured I shouldn't push my luck. It seems the GBL main page and the Sox Roster. You can go to the Sox mainpage without a problem if you use the address. If you go from the GBL page or do the address it will try to infect your computer.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Series Report: St. George @ Reno (August 1-3, 2008)

Game One: This game ended up with a lot more drama than us Sox fans would like. I worked late so I just headed home and turned on the game. However, it wasn't there. Mike Murray, PA announcer for the team resigned which put Ben Deach on PA duty and no one on announcing duty. There was no announcement on Mike so I can only assume it may not have been a completely amicable parting. In any event, I tuned to John Potter's broadcast for the game.

The next bit of drama came as Kevin Frederick had to leave with an unspecified injury during the second inning. I speculated that he may be hurt because it had been a while since he pitched and tonight didn't help that. There is no additional information on him on the website and without a home broadcast, there wasn't any provided last night.

The final drama came with the Sox blowing another lead to lose the game. Schnieder has blown at least three saves that I can remember. It is not a stat tracked by the GBL or Howe Sports so it is hard to tell exactly how many he has. I think, at this point, other than mentioning the bad pitching, there is no need to really dig into it. These guys are just not that good on the whole. There are some good pitchers and some flashes of solid work but for the most part, we lose a lot of games even though our hitters are racking up an average of 6.7 runs a game. Good pitching beats good hitting, and bad pitching erases good hitting as well. But I think my bigger issue with this is even though it was obvious Schneider was off his game, no one got up in the pen. I realize the guys are burned out but to watch your closer struggle badly and watching him give the game away was not enough to at least get a guy up? The feeling I got last night that our team really didn't care about winning the close game. It was all on Schneider, win or lose. And he lost it allowing 4 runs (3 of them his) on three hits and hitting two batters in that fateful 8th inning.

One bright spot was another big night from Ryan Brown who went 3-4 raising his average to .358 (2nd on the team) and he is now third in OPS behind D.J. Dixon and John Hattig. I am glad to see those three guys do well. They are really nice guys, have great chemistry with their teammates, and are solid ball players. With the losses continuing to rack up, these guys still give the fans a reason to come out to Peccole. Let's hope the Sox can turn it around in game two.

GAME TWO: Jesse Hall started for us and had a rough outing despite his current string of good starts for the team. He went 6 innings but gave up 6 runs along the way before yielding to Billy Simon who gave up two runs over his two innings of work. Mitch Arnold was able pitch a scoreless ninth but the damage was done. The Sox started the game up 3-0 but eventually lost 9-4. The potent Sox offense only managed 8 hits which included just two extra-base hits (doubles by Madrid and Alvarado).

On the rumor front, check out the comment on this blog entry indicating that Dixon and maybe Senreiso will be gone in a couple of days as their contracts were purchased. I am really happy for those two as they both have the skills to at least get a look (again) at the affiliated level. The bottom line is that at 23-37, the Sox are probably not going to catch red-hot Edmonton (34-29) or win the second half outright to make it into the playoffs. So since the pitching has never allowed the Sox to string together more than 3 wins at a time this season, even the loss of two power bats won't make a difference. So good luck, guys...I'll be keeping tabs on your progress just as we do for other guys like Kane Simmons (recently promoted to Class A Modesto for the Rockies).

GAME THREE: Another game, another loss, another sweep. I cringe writing that but it is what it is. Daniel Chaffardet started (it was supposed to be Derrick Landavazo) and got the loss, dropping to 0-3. He definitely pitched better this time but his supporting cast let him down as he allowed five runs, all unearned. The Sox decided to go with yet another new pitcher. He is not on the roster yet or the GBL transaction page but his name is Piccarillo. Unfortunately, despite a decent start, he allowed a grand slam and home run late in the game, pitching just 2.1 innings to establish his ERA in the GBL at 19.29. And St. George pitching was on tonight racking up 15 strike outs.

There is still no Sox broadcast which is getting frustrating because John Potter, although very good, really has nothing to add about our team or any insights into the players. I love what he does for the Roadrunners and just wish we could get that level of information as well for our guys. And the website continues to have a derth of information...rosters that still have Crespi but not some newer guys, no annoucement on Mike Murray who has been with the team since day one, and no information at all on the players. Last year, I really liked that when an acquisition was made, we got a quick e-mail to say where he came from with a quote on his potential from the manager or GM. We have no radio this year, no road broadcasts, and now no home broadcasts. I hate to bash the team since I am their biggest cheerleader with this blog but it is really starting to get disappointing. Game day activites are less than last year and that has turned off a few as you can see by the poll results on this blog. Many giveaways were delayed or never scheduled (for 3 months it has said check back for baseball card and mini-bat nights). It really feels like the Sox have mailed it in and that is sad for all those who have supported them through the years. And if the rumors are true about our two best players going to other INDEPENDENT teams (just like Crespi did), it really says a lot for what the players think of the team. With zero players sold to affiliated teams this year, I think it also says a lot about what the players think of Reno as a springboard back to affiliated ball. And, unless something changes in the next month, this will be the first season ever that the Sox never sold anyone back to affiliated ball.

We get the same e-mails every day telling us about the same promotions each week. I'd like it if we got one or two with some other information. Why did Crespi leave? What was Frederick's injury? What is Jeffrey Leonard's strategy for the way he uses his pitching staff? Again, I hate to bash the team on the "official" blog but there may very well be just four more weeks of Silver Sox ball EVER. Let's go out with a bang, guys!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Series Report: Chico @ Reno (28-31 AUG)

There have been some interesting comments on the blog as of late. S.Sox, a Sox fan from the start and an anonymous poster who obviously has an inside track on Sox operations. To both, thanks for your comments. I always enjoy hearing from other Sox enthusiasts. I really am not sure how many people are reading anymore to be honest. Last year, the number was about 75-100. I got a lot of personal e-mails in addition to posts on the blog. This year, it has dropped off quite a bit. This kind of mirrors the drop in attendance at the ballpark. Not sure why so I put up a survey for you to post your thoughts. The last poll only got 27 responses so I know there are (were) at least that many readers.

GAME ONE: Say what you will about Sox pitching as a whole, but Jesse Hall and Steve Russell have found their grove and are putting up quality starts when their turn comes up. Kevin Frederick has show flashes of brilliance and may also finally be coming around after a very slow start to the season. Game one saw Hall have another 7 inning outing and he was in line for his team leading sixth win. Unfortunately, a 9th inning implosion and blown save by Mitch Arnold sent the game to extra innings. The Sox, however, were still able to recover and utimately win the game. The offense was solid again and all of the position players did their part to win the game. The Sox also introduced a new catcher to the home crowd, Adam Gerry, as well. He is not listed on the roster yet so when he is you can check out his background. He first played against Chico on Sunday. Maybe it is to give Dixon a break since they can still keep his bat in the line-up as the DH. Of course, that will probably eat into Ryan Brown's time since he and Steven Alexander platoon between DH and 1B. We'll see how that one works out.

GAME TWO: Despite the lopsided final score of 9-5, Derrick Landavazo actually pitched a good game before he ran out of gas and surrended 7 of the 8 runs in a huge Chico 8th inning. Up until that point, he held the Outlaws scoreless. I showed up to the park about 4:30PM for the scheduled double header but it was postponed to tomorrow. Because of other commitments, I had to leave but it was good to see that Ladavazo had a good outing. I am a little surprised that he was charged with zero earned runs despite the fact that there was just one error and it scored two of the seven runs. Again, I didn't listen but that accounts for three runs. Anyone know why the other four were unearned? Passed balls or something? Either way, it was a tough loss.

GAME THREE: Daniel Chafferdet started this game and continued his poor performance from his earlier start allowing 5 runs in the first inning before finally leaving after five having surrendered 7 runs and taking the loss, his second of the year. Doug Sanders, a middle infield, tried his hand at pitching again and was smoked for 4 runs in two innings as the first game of this double header went to Chico, 11-5. D.J. Dixon remained hot climbing to third on the team in homeruns (10) and continuing his team lead in average (.385), slugging (.650), and OPS (1.080). He is playing DH now so that may help the offensive numbers go up even more.

GAME FOUR: Errol Simonitsch, another reliever getting a start, was servicable giving up 3 runs in 4 innings of work. Unfortunately, Scott Navarro of Chico was better holding the Sox to just one run on the night. Lost in the mix was a good relief performance by Andrew Alvarado who went three inning surrendering just one run. I read in the RGJ that Scott Schneider was talking about how good the bull pen was. There is definite improvment there. If we can get some other guys besides Hall and Russell to keep us in games, we'll be dangerous.

GAME FIVE: Kevin Frederick must be injured or something because we haven't seen him pitch since the 24th. But another actual starter did pitch tonight and had an outstanding outing. Steve Russell pitched an amazing complete game improving his record to 5-7. The Silver Sox game report doesn't make this clear, but there were some VERY tense moments in the ninth inning. I was at home with the kids so I listened to guest announcer Chris Ciarlo call the game. He and Ben Deach have a great morning show and listening to them fawn over Kristen Remington was classic. They are right about one thing...she is the hottest newscaster we have in this town. But, I digress. In the ninth, after a man reached, Russell gave up a two-out homer to bring the game to 5-3. The very next batter took him deep too bringing it to 5-4. Finally, Steve closed it out with a big "K" and the Sox salvage the last game of this series. Tense moments but a lot of fun to listen to and I am sure probably a lot more fun to watch. One note to Chris...not sure if it was the guys in the pressbox or the fans but it was funny to listen to all the people in the background talk about how the game was unraveling.

So the Sox played Chico for nine straight games and were only able to win two games, both at home. That drops them to 5-9 for the second half and 23-35 on the season. They are in last place in their division and the league with 1 month to play. Calgary and Edmonton remain strong having the best records in the league so it will be a huge uphill battle for the Sox to make the post season. But it ain't over til it's over as they say so stick with it Sox Fans.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Series Report: Reno @ Chico (July 25-27, 2008)

I guess I spoke too soon. With a sweep of Long Beach and a trip to play league worst Chico, I though they were primed to shoot up the standings. Unfortunately, Chico had other ideas and swept the Sox in a four game series.

Game One: The Sox decided to go with the new pitcher signed on July 23rd (Daniel Charffardet) who promptly got tagged for 9 hits and 8 runs in just 4 innings. His compadre for the July 23d signing day, Errol Simonitsch, was also unable to close the flood gates giving up 2 runs in his two innings of work. I didn't listen to the game and there no information in the game report from the Sox to indicate why position players Doug Sanders and Ryan Brown came in to pitch for the team but the good news is that they only allowed one run between the two of them across two innings.

Game Two: The Sox decided to give Nick Ginsberg his second start of the year and he responded with yet another poor outing. Gisnberg pitched just 2.1 innings allowing 5 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks. His season ERA has risen to 11.88 and in his 8.1 innings of work, he has allowed 12 runs, 12 hits, and 13 walks. Obviously, he is not the solution to the Sox pitching woes, at least not as a starter. The game settled down from there and actually was a very close game before Chico won in the bottom of the ninth off our closer Scott Schneider in a non-save situation.

Game Three: Steve Russell, one of our "legitimate" starters, pitched a gem before losing a heartbreaking pitchers duel 2-0. He pitched all six innings of the double header shortened game and allowed just two runs in the bottom of the second before settling down for the rest of the contest. Unfortunately, Trevor Caughley and his league leading 1.98 ERA held the Sox to just two hits in six innings before Todd Galetka, last year's save master, shut the door for good.

Game Four: The Sox went back to another newcomer and got similar results. Billy Simon made his first start for the Sox since being acquired on July 23rd. He played with St. George before being released where he went 4-4 in 17 games (4 as a starter) with a 11.67 ERA. Simon pitched just 1.2 innings and gave up 6 runs. Simonitsch, who pitched in game one, pitched the next 2.1 innings and gave up another 6 runs. He has pitched three times in the past 4 days and has been getting progressively worse. 1 run allowed on the 23rd, 2 runs allowed on the 25th, and 6 runs allowed yesterday. Seeing that the game was lost, Ryan Brown, our first baseman, was put in to pitch for the second time in this series and was lit up for another 4 runs as the Sox dropped the final game 16-5. At least Ryan got homerun #7 during the contest so it wasn't a totally bad day for him.

If anyone knows what the pitching rotation for the Sox is, can you let me know? I am thoroughly confused as to who is supposed to start, if we are still trying guys out, or if the strategy is to simply have a bunch of relivers each pitch 2-3 innings rather than have a true starter who can go 6-7.

In any event, the Sox now come home to Peccole for another 4 games with Chico. Hopefully they can reverse their fortunes at home. Reno now has the second half's worst record in the GBL. We need some wins so there is no time like the present to get that done. Let's go Sox!

And one final looks like Ryan Crespi is headed back to play closer to home. No announcement on the Sox website but maybe Ben Deach will touch on it in the radio broadcast. He was a really good player and will be missed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Series Report: Long Beach at Reno (July 22-24)

For the first time this year, we got consistent pitching across the entire series and it resulted in a sweep of the Long Beach Armada who fell to 3-4 (second in the southern division) while Reno improved to 3-2 (third in the Northern division).

The pitching was not perfect but it is quite a bit better than earlier in the season. I realize field availability and money are a big part of the equation but I want to say again that I think there needs to be a longer spring training period with actual games played. Each of the past two seasons, I have seen it take too long for guys to get up to "game speed". Some guys come straight from college or from not playing for a while and then jump right into the season. And we all have heard that pitchers always take a little longer (at least that was MLBs argument on why the USA team got crushed in the World Baseball Classic but that is story for another day). The bottom line is that I don't like games where there are 15+ combined runs like we saw for the majority of games in the first half. Pitching was bad, errors were up, and the play was inconsistent to say the least. The quality of baseball in the GBL is key to making new fans so I want to see it be as good as it can. To me, the first half seemed like a warm up for this half, at least watching the initial games. Some guys did well (OC feasted on the poor pitching) and Edmonton and Calgary put good products on the field, but overall the level of play was not where it should have been.

But, anyway, it was good to see our starters finally start getting in a groove. Steve Russell gave us seven scoreless innings in game one and Jesse Hall and Kevin Frederick, doing the starter by committee thing, gave us a couple of wins thanks to a great effort by the bullpen. To Hall's credit, he got stung early and then settled down. I am concerned that both he and Frederick could only go about four innings each but the fact is they didn't let us get blown out in that period of time so they at least gave us the chance to win. Derrick Landavazo is becoming quite the workhorse out of the pen which is something we have needed all year. He is far from perfect (6 runs allowed in 2.2 innings during this series) but for the most part he can eat innings and keep us in the game.

Looking at the 'pen, I really like Mitch Arnold who has a 1.69 ERA in five appearances and is holding opponents to a .111 batting average. He is an imposing figure at 6'8', 235. He seems to have an interesting story too. Take a look at his profile on baseball cube: So he spent 4 years in Rookie Ball with 12 games in Low A. But then comes 2004 when they decide to promote him all the way to AAA for 4 games and then send him back to Rookie Ball. That is pretty weird to say the least. I am sure there is a great story there. But, being our best option out of the pen, I am not complaining.

I am still pleased with the offense and the coaches must be too since, unlike the pitching situation which has been likened to a revolving door, the offense is pretty much the same as it was in early June. I really think if the pitching can come around, the Sox can win the second half. It is going to be tough since the Canadian teams continue their dominance over the division but the Sox play league worst Chico 15 times over the final five weeks of the season and 24-29 St. George 10 times during that stretch. They also play Yuma 7 times (who is a .500 team) and Edmonton and Calgary three times each.

So what does that mean? Well, if they can dominate their games with St. George and Yuma (win 18 of 25 for example) and then at least pick up a game on Edmonton, they should be in great shape to win the division. The bottom line is, with Calgary winning the first half, Reno only has to beat Edmonton to make the playoffs--if Calgary wins again then the second place team goes to the playoffs.

One of the things I have never liked about indy baseball is that, to cut down on travel costs, you play a very unbalanced schedule. In our division we play Chico 22 times this year while we only play the Canadian teams 9 times each. Out of the division, we play St. George 18 times, Long Beach 11 times, OC 7 times, and Yuma 9 times. Of course, this year that helps since St. George is doing so poorly but you can see the obvious disadvantage it would put us in if St. George was doing as well as, say, Calgary. We would play way too many games against a non-division opponent. And the same exists in our division--what if Chico was as good as last year? And it makes it easier for some teams to make up ground...i.e. Calgary and Edmonton control their own destiny by playing each other. Reno and Chico have to win and hope that the Caandian teams lose to get into the playoffs. I don't have a solution since budgets are tight...just being more of a baseball purist that you can reasonably expect to be in the indy leagues.

Of course, Indy leagues do get some things right that even the affiliated guys don't in terms of putting the best product on the field. I have been to three CAL league games this summer (Modesto, Stockton, and San Jose). They all only use two umpires. The GBL (at least in Sox games) have put three on the field for those games. I have not seen nearly the amount of complaints with umpiring as we had last year so Kudos to the GBL for fixing that...and for fixing the the Tyler Ramsey thing. He was the worst umpire I have ever seen at the professional level and I haven't seen him at Peccole this year. Way to personal and Tyler is probably a great guy so I didn't mean it that way...but he caused way to much frustration with his rediculous calls last year for the Sox.

OK, the blog is probably too long at this point but let me do one more thing...Patrick Shabram e-mailed me with link to his blog discussing his thoughts for the future of the Sox. It is great and I posted some comments. You should too if you get a chance. Check it out at

Monday, July 21, 2008

Series Report: Reno @ St. George (July 17-19, 2008)

The Sox dropped the series 1-2. Pitching still looks to be the issues. None of the starters made it past the third inning and the game #3 starter, Kevin Frederick, who had been pitching great before the All-Star break only made it through two while surrendering six earned runs.

Another odd thing is that it is hard to tell who are the starters anymore. I have heard of teams having a closer by committee but it looks like the Sox are going with a starter by committee. Nathan Ginsberg got a start and (former?) starter Steve Russell came in in relief. Then Ginsberg relieved two nights later. Fields also has been coming on in relief. So other than Jesse Hall and Kevin Frederick, you really have to just show up to know who is going to take the mound to start the game.

Offensively, the Sox are in the bottom 50% of the league in most categories. Team totals are .307 AVG (6 of 8 teams), 62 HRs (#5), 301 RBIs (#6), 76 SB (#2) , and .379 OBP (#6). Hopefully the guys can step that up.

The Sox head home and will be here for 3 days before hitting the road again. So far the second half is shaping up like the first with the canadian teams in front and Reno and Chico in the cellar. Hopefully this changes or we will see an all-canada playoff (not that that is a bad thing) and, more important to Sox fans, the second straight season with the Sox out of the playoffs after winning the GBL championship in their first one.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

All Star Break Report

Sorry for the lack of posts. My laptop is really messed up. Basically when I push the "N" key it disables my WLAN and pops up a help window. So, needless to say, typing became really frustrating. I tried updating drivers and BIOS, running a virus scan, cleaning the registry, cleaning the keyboard, and ended up formating the hard drive. Still not fixed. So after a few days of pulling my hair out, it looks like I'll just have to take it in...unless someone out there has something else I can look at.

So here are just some random thoughts to take us through the all star game:

STRONG FINISH: The Sox turned it on as the first half ended with some really good pitching performance. In fact, their one loss in the last week was on a day when they let a group of pitchers who hadn't played for the Sox have what amounted to a real game try-out. I think that is fine since we need to right the ship for the second half. Kevin Frederick has had two great outings and may establish himself as the the team ace with a few more performances like that.

ALL-STAR CONTROVERSY: On the last Sox home broadcast, there was a controversy over whether or not Ryan Crespi should have made it. Without getting into the merits of each outfielder who actually made it, I think the GBL should publish who made the selections (team owners, the commissioner, outside sources?). There will always be snubs but right now the process is anything but transparent. D.J. Dixon is one of the hottest hitters in the league so he deserved to make it. But Kevin Frederick only had one good start before the All-Star rosters were announced and he made the team without even being the best player on his team let alone the league.

NEXT YEAR?: The Reno AAA team is moving forward on the stadium downtown. Here are some pictures: So what is up with the Silver Sox? Are they headed to Carson City, Tucson, or ceasing operations? Or, will they try to compete with the AAA team as Amit Patel suggested in a newspaper article a few months back? Granted, a lame duck team kills attendance but a perceived lame duck team can do the same. I know the GBL is adding four new teams in 2009. Not sure if that includes a Sox relocation. But hopefully we find out something soon so we can stop the guessing.

JOHN HATTIG: S. Sox asked if I knew anything about his injury. No, I don't. But that will be a question to ask next time I get a chance. He seems like a great guy--the players and staff like him so I wish him a speedy recovery.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Series Report: Reno @ Chico

There were some very good things to come out of the Sox trip to Chico. They won the series 2-1 and they did it with good pitching in addition to their solid offense. Granted, the third game was not as good as the first two but even the loss saw the pitching not give up the insane amount of runs we've seen in the past.

As for the first two, I want to first focus on the second game. Kevin Fredrick, who has been pretty inconsistent this year saw his best outing of the year pitching 8 solid innings where he didn't allow any earned runs. He went on to secure the win.

The first game also had the Sox come out on top behind a good start from Jesse Hall and a good relief appearance from Derrick Landavazo where the two combined to surrender just one earned run in the game. The night also saw a record attendance number from the fans at the Net as 4699 was the reported attendance. Without getting into the whole debate of actual vs. paid attendance, I still think whatever number was at the park was still a record setter. It is always good to see some great things coming out of Chico. The town really supports the club and the team is one of the best run from a fans perspective since the promotions are great, the giveaways are also good, and the game day experience and concessions are also some of the best in the GBL.

The Sox keep acquiring pitchers faster than the Sox website can keep up with. A new guy, Mitch Arnold picked up the save for Frederick with a scoreless inning of relief. Neither he nor the other new guy the GBL site says they signed (Andrew Alvarado) are listed so hopefully that gets updated soon so we can see some more info about them. Speaking of the website, Fuda has been released and Guilen is now inactive. And I don't think Reggie Leslie is 108 but, again, I am sure those things will be corrected soon.

The Sox get a day off before taking on the 23-16 Yuma Scorpions. Hopefully the Sox pitching continues to improve. Otherwise it will be a slugfest with the potent Yuma bats coming to town. They have the best batting average in the league (.340) and are 4th in homeruns (54). By contrast, the Sox are 5th in average (.308) and 5th in homeruns (50). Yuma and Reno are 6th and 7th repsectively in pitching with team ERAs over 8 and a half.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Series Report: Chico at Reno (July 1-3, 2008)

Ok, I just got back from San Antonio so I missed blogging about the first two games of the series. But, as a short recap, the Sox split the first two games and pitching continues to be an issue.

The day started off listening to Sox catcher D.J. Dixon give an interview on the No Name Sports show on Fox Sports Radio. It was a good interview and, to summarize, here were a few interesting points:

-- Jeffrey Leonard is the best manager he has ever played for. For independent ball where if you don't produce you are cut, Leonard has shown a lot of patience and given folks every opportunity to succeed

-- Peccole is a hitter's park but if you try to hit a homerun, you won't. You have to just let it come.

-- Dixon was coached by current Sox coach Reggie Leslie when he was 12

-- Dixon understands the psychology of the game and understands how to calm a pitcher down

Pretty good interview.

The third game of the season was a really good game. Unfortunately, there were only about 70 fans or so in the stands when the first pitch was delivered. The area was very smokey from fires in California and people with allergies or small children were advised to stay in. I was hacking a little and my clothes did smell like I was around a campfire when I was done but it was worth it. Hopefully the players won't have many ill effects from the smoke.

As for the game, pitching for both sides was pretty weak for the first part of the game but calmed down later. Reggie Leslie started and got tagged for 7 hits and 6 runs (3 earned) in just three innings. Leslie has been getting hit hard in his last few appearances so he may be getting tired. He was in trouble for all three innings so hopefully he can get back on track.

Doug Sanders pitched two good innings and Scott Schneider pitched well initially but after a multi-base error in center and a wild pitch, Chico went out in front 9-7 in the 7th.

Ross McCoy (who threw out a runner in the first on a laser shot to home) got on board and then D.J. Dixon launched his team leading 8th homerun to tie the game. D.J. is on fire and has a .492 batting average and 1.288 OPS (On base + Slugging). Speaking of homeruns, this looks like the year that the homerun record (20) falls. St. George and Orange County both have 2 players each on the leader board with between 12 and 14 homeruns. Since we are still about 10 games from the end of the first half, it is well within striking distance.

The Sox would score one more in the bottom of the 8th and would go on to win behind Derrick Landavazo. Unfortuantely, he is not listed on the GBL transaction page and there were no rosters distributed at the game so I don't have a lot of info on him. That plus still using the program that opened the season makes it hard to follow the players. It is even harder when I have my son who only wants to watch baseball after playing in the bounce house so I do miss a couple of innings throughout the game. But even standing out there is good. As you know, after the Army I want to work in baseball operations so I like talking to game day staffers too since it gives me a different perspective on the how the team operates.

I have an Army function tonight so I won't be at the game. Since fireworks always bring out a big crowd, it makes for a much better game day atmosphere. Hopefully that translates into a win!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Series Report: Reno @ Edmonton (June 27-29, 2008)

Well, let start by saying that I could not find the internet broadcast for the game so I didn't listen to any of them. And, game summaries posted on the GLB mainpage are pretty non-descriptive for this series. As a result, my commentary will be pretty generic since I don't know any of the finer details of the games.

There is one great thing I did notice from the box scores--The first two games of the series had the Cracker Cats held to single digit runs. That may not seem like a big deal but for a team that has the highest ERA in the league (9.15) and is only percentage points out of last place, it is a big deal. The lines scores show the Sox pitching staff is settling down even if it may not hold. Good outings by Chris Fields, Kevin Frederick, and Mario Guilen were nice to see. Fields had major control issues in his first outing so I was happy to see him rebound well. And Frederick has pitched poorly this season and we need him to step up and lead the bullpen. Though one good outing doesn't cure his issues (8.74 ERA in 22.2 innings where he has allowed batters to log 38 hits and a .373 average), it is a start in the right direction for the former Toronto Blue Jay.

Unfortunately, the Sox went back to their old ways losing 12-4 in the Sunday Matinee. But there is still a god news story on the pitching--Jesse Hall gave up just three earned runs across 6.1 innings in a quality start before Giorgio Fuda gave up the rest. And, D.J. Dixon hit a home run to join John Hattig and Juan Senreiso as a team leader with 6 dingers.

The Sox now head home for a 4-game set with the Chico Outlaws.

The reality is, that with 14 games to go in the first half and the Sox 9.5 games out of first place, the team needs to focus on the second half to have a shot at post season play. That will be hard because the two new Canadian teams seem to be in the driver's seat to secure those if the season ended today. However, Edmonton has looked more vulnerable than Calgary so perhaps if those two beat up on each other during the second half and the Sox can win some games, it is not out of the question for the Sox to be back in the post season.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Series Report: Reno @ Calgary (June 24-26)

Well, if you read my last post, you know my opinion of the Silver Sox pitching efforts. Well, I guess it could be worse. I looked at the box scores from the last few days and Yuma has surrendered 70 runs in 3 games. You read that right--70! I thought I was reading football scores:

06/22/08 ST. GEORGE 30 @ YUMA 16
06/23/08 YUMA 19 @ ST. GEORGE 17
06/24/08 YUMA 12 @ ST. GEORGE 21

Well, it appears to be a league wide epidemic. A poster on the Our Sports Central website posted this:

Out of the 101 games played so far, as of June 23rd... 54 of those games had at least one team score 10 or more runs. Of those 101 games as well, there were at least 17 games where at least one team scored at least 15 runs or more. That's a lot of scoring.

So I guess everyone who has voted on the poll on this site for bad pitching are spot on. I am not sure why it is so bad this year. Definitely the worst year yet for pitching in the league. The Sox, unfortunately, lead that pack with a league worst 9.52 ERA. But whatever the reason, I believe it is hurting the GBL's image as a professional league. Granted, I know their metric is how many players they've sent to affiliated ball but I would argue that the average fan won't take the league seriously when you have the winning team score more than 10 runs in over half the contests. I scanned the Northern and American leagues and they are nothing like ours in terms of runs scored. The United, however, is pretty close. So I think we still have a ways to go attendance wise and quality wise (at least statistically speaking) before the GBL becomes a premier indy league. Not saying I'll stop being a fan, just putting it out there.

June 24, 2008 -- Well, the Sox pitching woes continue. Their pitching sent them to a 10-1 defeat to drop to 7-18 and lose their 5th straight game. Jesse Hall left in the 3rd (injury maybe?) giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and surrendering 4 walks with one strike out. Next in the shooting gallery was Chris Fields. First the good news--Fields pitched 3 scoreless innings in relief. Unfortunately, it came after a 6-run fourth inning marked by Fields throwing the ball away multiple times on an intentional walk, a hits batsman, and a run walked in. Scott Schneider was activated and pitched an inning of scoreless relief so that was good. However, it was too little too late as the Sox offense was held to just one run on a solo shot by Ryan Brown.

June 25, 2008 -- Well pitching put the team in a huge hole again but this time they were able to slug their way out of it against a very capable Vipers bullpen so my hat is off to the offense. Our pitching woes came from Kevin Frederick who is yet to get on track this season. Last night he gave up seven earned runs in just 4.1 innings of work. Frustration showed all night as he argued the strikezone with the umpire. By the team he was pulled, Jeff Leonard was ejected as he argued balls and strikes on his behalf. Then Frederick headed to the umpire with nothing to lose to continue the complaining. I feel his frustration since our pitching has been just plain bad. Kevin, as the sole pitcher with Major League experience probably feels the pressure moreso since he is not having a great year either--0-1 with a 9.61 ERA in 6 games. He left on two batters and Mario Guilen came in and allowed the bases to run full before surrendering a grand slam to Travis Drader. Guilen would settle down before yeilding to Reggie Leslie who gave up a run as well. The Sox would rally to take the lead and it actually held up as Eduardo Perez came in and closed the door for the win and his second save of the year.

On the offensive side, the Sox delivered a multi-faceted attack which included a home run from Juan Senreiso (6 on the year), a triple, 3 doubles, 9 singles and 4 stolen bases in front of 1007 fans in Calgary. D.J. Dixon continues to lead the team with a .398 and a .687 slugging percentage. Of course, Ryan Crespi also deserves a shout out since he has a .390 average with 22 more at bats than Dixon. He also is second on the team with 12 stolen bases (Gary Harris has 14).

June 26, 2008 -- More of the same as last night; pitching put the Sox in a hole and they slugged their way out of a loss. Russell gave up 6 runs in six innings; Schneider gave up 1 in 1; Fuda gave up 4 (1 earned) in 1.2; and DelaCruz struck out the only batter he faced to secure his third save on the season. Russell got the win.

Offensively, the Sox knocked out 23 hits and scored at least one run in every inning to batter the Cats in a 13-11 victory. Crespi and Madrid each had a homer while Steven Alexander chipped in with two.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Series Report: Calgary at Reno (June 20-21)

Before I talk about this series I should tell you about my philosophy when it comes to writing this blog. I am a fan. I am not a "fan-boy" who never sees anything wrong with our team. I am also not a "hater" who likes to point out faults whenever I get a chance. And, ultimately, I am not going to tear down the team too much because I want people to come to the park, I want the Silver Sox and GBL to thrive, and I am not going to use this medium to affect that in a negative way.

That being said, I need to vent just a bit. Actually a lot.

What the hell just happened during this series? Not only did the Sox get swept but they were made to look like they were not even in the same league as the Vipers. The Sox gave up 36 runs in those games which is bad. But they also committed 13 errors in three games including 8 in one game alone. 8 errors? I have been watching baseball for the better part of 30 years and I can say that I have never seen 8 errors in any professional game, and I haven't seen it at any level that didn't include a tee at homeplate. I googled it and found this for the MLB:


24, on June 14, 1876 Boston made 24 errors against St. Louis. Since 1893, the record is 12, by the Detroit Tigers against the Chicago White Sox on May 1, 1901 and also the Chicago White Sox against the Detroit Tigers on May 6, 1903.

Yes, I know these guys aren't major leaguers. But my greater point is there hasn't been more than 12 errors in an MLB game for over a century. And I bet if I could do a similar search at the minor league level, it would be pretty much the same. Errors are supposed to be rare and if you scan box scores at any professional level, I think we expect somewhere between zero and three. If we saw four or five we'd be concerned. How should we feel with 8?

There is no other way to say this...but other than about four guys (including Kaiser and Schnieder who are both on the shelf), the pitching staff is a train wreck. Most starters are only going a few innings per game and usually leaving after giving up 4-6 runs as well. I can count on one hand the number of times a relief pitcher has come in, pitched at least an inning and not given up a run. The team ERA is 9.45 and opponents are hitting .340 against us. .340!!! Last year we had some pitching problems but nothing close to this year.

I have nothing negative to say about the offense. They are scoring runs but we aren't winning because the pitching kills us before the offense even gets a chance. In the games we won, the offense had to score just an insane amount of runs to cover for the pitching. In those wins, the team scored 15, 11, 10, 16, 14, 13 and 13 runs. It is unrealistic to think they have to score than many to win. This Series they scored 5, 3, and 8 runs and lost them all. I think it is not a stretch to say if a baseball team scores 5 or 8 runs they should win the game more often than not. But with the Sox, we have lost every single game when the offense hasn't delivered double digit runs, en route to a 7-17 record and sole possession of not only last place in our division but last place in the entire league.

OK, end of rant.

I just had to get that out there. Mainly due to frustration but also to vocalize the frustration I think many people are feeling with this situation. I won't fault Jeffrey Leonard and staff for not trying to fix the problem. They have brought in 7 pitchers since the season began a few weeks ago and the roster now includes just four active pitchers who were on the opening day roster. But so far, none of them have been the key to solving this pitching dilemma.

I am not giving up on the team and hope you don't either. This is our team win or lose and we need to support them. Hopefully some of these new pitchers can make a difference and bring the winning ways back to the Silver Sox franchise.

I'd give a by game synopsis but I think the point has been made. The team now goes on the road to Canada. I'll be listening to the games and hoping the Sox can right this ship. Let's go Sox!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Series Report: Edmonton @ Reno (June 17-19, 2008)

June 18: The Sox evened this series at a game a piece with a 13-9 inning; and if you take out Shawn Ravenscraft's two innings of work, the score would have been 13-3.

Tonight was another vision of how good the Silver Sox can be if they get good pitching. Jesse Hall and Jeremy Flanagan gave then just that as Hall scattered three runs given up across 6 innings and Flanagan came in for a scoreless inning of relief. The former is now 2-1 with a 5.70 ERA which is not bad at all and a welcome sight with the loss of Marc Kaiser earlier this week. Fulcher still has a little way to go to drop his ERA below 10 (it is currently 10.80) but a couple more outings like this and he can erase his slow start with the team. As for Ravenscraft...well, I like to talk about the play on the field and not get personal but sometimes those things mix every now and then. Shawn Ravenscraft has just not been effective this year and I think he is about to go the way of Mike Reeves if he doesn't step up his game, unfortunately. Reeves, as you'll recall, was a former starter who ended up going 0-2 with a 19.29 ERA in five games. Ravenscraft, also a former starter, is currently 0-0 with a 12.60 ERA in 5 games. He has 9 walks to 8 strike outs and has allowed 30 hits in 15 innings of work. The Sox entered the 9th with a 13-3 lead. After Ravenscraft's outing, they won 13-9. A little too close if you ask me.

The offense continues to amaze with home runs from Steven Alexander, Gary Harris, and D.J. Dixon. Dixon had the most amazing line of the night going 4 for 4 with 2 runs and 7 RBIs. Not sure the last time I saw someone with 7 RBIs at any level of baseball above little league so it is quite an accomplishment. Carlos Madrid and Ryan Crespi also had two hits a piece. Madrid chipped in with his third swipe on the a season as well.

So overall, a good game and a timely win for the Sox. Jeffrey Leonard seems to be losing confidence in his bullpen as he pulls guys quicker and made a lot of pitching transactions over the weekend. Here is one Sox fan hoping it all pays off!

June 17: This will be the week when the two newest GBL teams come to town. Unfortunately for the Sox, the story would remain the same, however, as the bullpen sunk any chances they had of winning the first of a three game set with the Edmonton Cracker cats.

First, some injury news. Carlos Madrid made his return to the actve roster for the first time since being sidelined with a hamstring injury at the end of May. And he didn't miss a beat going 1 for 3 with two batted in.

Marc Kaiser, however, will replace him on the inactive list as he is out indefinitely with some elbow trouble. Not a good sign for one of the few bright spots on our pitching roster. The other, Steve Russell, may also have been injured as he left the game after going just three innings in his fifth start of the year. Hopefully he is OK.

As for the game, well, you have heard this before...Sox are down 4-3 through four, bullpen implodes, and Sox lose 16-5. Edmonton is now 8-9 on the season while Reno falls to 6-13.

Mario Guilen looked to be off to a good start as he had a scoreless 4th inning of work but then gave up three in the 5th before settling down for a scoreless 6th.

At that point, the team brought in a pitcher named "Alvarez". I'd give you his first name but it isn't listed on the box score or on the team roster. And it is probably good for his self esteem to have it that way because this young man's first Sox outing netted 7 runs on 9 hits (3 of those homeruns) in just one inning of work.

Brian Fulcher came in and gave up his requisite two runs in one inning of work and then, seeing nothing to lose, Jeffrey Leonard brought in Steven Alexander to pitch the ninth. He actually pitched a scoreless inning. At the risk of badmouthing my favorite team, it is more than a little discouraging when the best pitchers in your bullpen are a bench coach (Reggie Leslie) and your first baseman (Steven Alexander).

The offense, for its part, still continues to improve. John Hattig pushed his average over the .300 mark with a 2-4 performance last night and Ryan Crespi continued his hot streak with a 3-4 outing that increased his average to .405. In fact, of the nine starters, seven are batting over .300 with an eighth (Juan Senrieso) right behind them hitting .280. Team slugging is at .485 which is pretty good and on-base percentage is also good at .389.

Defense is also doing better as the team averages under two a game which is tied for 5th in the GBL. Though that may not sound like a good place to be in a league of 8 teams, those errors have only resulted in 12 unearned runs in 19 games so we could live with that if our pitching was better.

So really, the Sox are doing very well in two categories...however, as the old saying go, pitching wins championships. And the Sox, far from contending for a first half title, are finding that pitching wins individual games. The Sox will be mid-way through the first half when they wake up on Saturday and when they do so, they will be under .500--the question is, how far under .500?

The Sox will send Jesse Hall to the mound for game two. I hope you can make it out to support your home team, Reno.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Exclusive Interview with Silver Sox Announcer Ben Deach

Big thanks to Ben for taking the time to do this interview:

1. Please tell me about your educational background and how it led you to the sports broadcast industry.
I graduated from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada in spring of 2007. While I will always value my education, it was working my way up in the radio business that got me to where I am. I began working at Lotus Radio in Reno in 2006 doing behind the scenes work, and 2 months later I started filling in on ESPN Radio 630's local show. From there I was named play-by-play broadcaster for the Nevada Wolf Pack Women's basketball team which helped me to get the Silver Sox Broadcasting Job last year.

2. What has been your favorite experience related to sports broadcasting?

Last July in Chico the Silver Sox were down by a run in the ninth inning against Todd Gelatka, Chico's closer who at that point was the league's best. The Sox hadn't come close to scoring on him all year, but this time, things felt - and were -very different. Reno mounted an improbable rally when Kane Simmons came up with a clutch hit to tie the game, and Carlos Madrid knocked in the go ahead run. Chico then tried to come back in the bottom half, but the Sox hung on to win the most memorable game of the 2007 season.

A close second would be with the Nevada basketball team when Dellena Criner hit a 60 foot shot at the buzzer at a game in Boise in early 2007. Unfortunately, the shot was ruled to have been released a split second late. It's still my favorite single call of my short broadcasting career.

3. How do you prepare for a game and how long does it take?

I put in a lot of time preparing for any broadcast. Preparation is always the key in broadcasting, and I am a big subscriber to that theory. As the season goes on, it takes less time to prepare for each game. You learn things about the players every day and that helps to conduct a quality broadcast.

4. What are your initial impressions of the 2008 Silver Sox?

Offense is their strong point. After the three game sweep of Long Beach, it was made clear that Reno is one of the most prolific offensive teams in the GBL. Bringing Juan Senreiso back was huge. He is a great team leader along with a power threat. Then there is former Blue Jays infielder John Hattig, who is a great hitter and a solid third baseman. And with guys like Ryan Crespi, DJ Dixon, and Andre Alvarado stepping up big as well, the Sox will put up a great deal of runs this season.

5. What is your favorite part about working for the Silver Sox?

While broadcasting is no longer my main responsibility with the Sox, there is still nothing better than being behind the mic late in a close game.

6. For the local readers, tell us a little about your sports program, the no-name sports program. How did you get that job and what is your favorite part about the show?

Well I certainly hope we can lose that title soon, but it is Reno's only morning sports talk show live on Fox Sports Radio 1450, Monday - Friday at 8 AM. My favorite part of the show is when we get quality guests on with us. Silver Sox manager Jeffrey Leonard was on, along with Giants broadcaster Dave Flemming, and a number of well known local athletes. My co-host Chris Ciarlo and I focus on being up beat and entertaining on topics in and out of sports, as people always remember when we bring up things other sports shows would not.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Game Reports (12-14JUN 2008)

I will be out of the area so there will only be capsule updates until I return on June 30th. I'll also post some team "notes"; basically observations beyond a simple game recap.

JUL 12, 2008, vs. Long Beach: Another good game for Sox fans as the Sox take a three game winning streak into their match-up with the Southern Division leading, 11-4 Orange County Flyers. The Sox swept the Armada and did it by scoring 40 runs in three nights, an average of over 13 runs per game. The Sox had good pitching for two games and decent pitching for the last game. Jesse Hall (1-1) gave up three earned runs across 6 frames and Mike Reeves, did very well with two scoreless innings. Shawn Ravenscraft gave up 1 run in 1 inning of work so he is still struggling. But the latter two have really struggled as starters so maybe some bullpen time will help. In any event, I know have no idea who starters #4 and #5. Kaiser, our ace this year, can't jump the rotation again with a double header looming on Saturday so we'll just have to wait and see who Jeffrey Leonard sends to the mound. I saw they signed a new pitcher yesterday so maybe he will be the guy.

JUL 13, 2008 @ Orange County: Well, it was good while it lasted. The Sox 3-game winning streak came to an end in Fullerton last night with an 8-6 loss to the Flyers. What made it hard to swallow was yet another bullpen meltdown for our Sox as Jeremy Flanagan got lit up for five runs in the bottom of the eight to squander a 6-3 lead. Our starting pitcher was player coach Reggie Leslie who came in last night with a pinch hit single. Well, tonight, he delivered a five inning performance that allowed just 1 run on three hits. Unfortunately, the bullpen let him down as Brian Fulcher gave up 2 runs in his one inning of work before Flanagan let the game slip away for good. Juan Senreiso got another homerun and he now leads the team with 4. Speaking of homeruns, Orange County is tearing up the league in that department with three guys leading the league all will 8 homeruns each. All are on pace to set a new league homerun record if they can keep up that pace. That mark is currently held by Peanut Williams who knocked 20 out of the park in 2006 for these same Flyers.

July 14th, 2008 @ Orange County. Tonight brought a double header. Though the Sox split the series, it comes as team pitching continues to be a bad news story. The team gave up 19 runs over the two game set which is even worse than normal considering that it was two 7-inning games. The starters this time were pretty bad including Marc Kaiser. Both he and Kevin Frederick, who made his first start of the year in game one, combined to give up 11 runs in just 6.2 innings. And, the bullpen didn't provide any stability either as all got bombed...Mario Guilen gave up 4 runs in two innings; Mike Reeves got an out before putting the next three guys on base and getting pulled; Shawn Ravenscraft gave up 6 hits and two runs in 3.2 innings. The lone bright spot was Brian Fulcher who got out of a bases loaded jam by retiring one batter. Mike Reeves and Kevin Frederick have not had a good outing all year; everyone else is hit or miss (usually miss); and, Marc Kaiser who has been doing well is starting a game every time there is a chance to do so which will wear him out before the season ends.

Some other observations: Everyone who wondered who the emergency catcher is now knows it is Ryan Brown who caught for game one...frustrations are getting high as both Steven Alexander and Kevin Frederick were tossed from game one for mouthing off to the umpire...John Hattig has quietly moved into second place on the team with three homeruns on the season...Andre Alvarado has show flashes of brilliance at SS but still leads the team with 8 of the 30 errors committed by the Sox; he is committing an error about once every two games. So far it hasn't killed the Sox since it there have only been 11 unearned runs on the year but on more than one inning they have kept innings going which lead to more runs being scored. As bad as the pitching has been, the Sox need every advantage they can far the Sox have allowed 21 more runs than they have scored.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Game Report: Long Beach at Reno (6/11/08)

It was another great night for the Sox as they not only have their first winning streak of the year but did it in convincing fashion winning 16-2. It was never even close as the Sox destroy Ryan Claypool with a 7-run inning plagued by some serious control problems by Claypool.
Andre Alvarado had a career night. The veteran of a single pro campaign with the independent Brockton Rox had three homeruns tonight. Not only did he start the night with zero, not only did he jump into a tie with Juan Senreiso as team leader in home runs with three, but he did it after never hitting a homerun in his professional career. I have been impressed with Alvarado all year. His defense has been pretty good and he also hits for average (.318 in 44 at bats) and has a good slugging average (.523) due mainly to the fact that he leads the team in triples with three. Ben Deach remarked that he is a genuinely nice guy which makes you happy when a guy like that has a big night.

With the early season pitching woes of the Sox, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the strong outing by Steve Russell. He only gave up 2 runs in 7 innings which is great. Newly Acquired pitcher Brian Fulcher came in and shut the door. So even the bullpen seems to be settling down which is a great sign.
Reggie Leslie, one of the team coaches was activated as a player today and came in to pinch hit for Juan Senreiso. He promptly delivered a single to right field and then took over in right field. Not sure if this is a stop gap measure or not but more power to the current Vacaville, CA-area High School baseball coach.
So the Sox will look for the series sweep as they send newly christened starter Jesse Hall to the hill. Hall started the season as a reliever until he started his first game last Saturday taking a loss in 6 inning pitched giving up 5 runs on 9 hits. However, the good news is that he had 9 Ks on the night to just one walk so if he can duplicate that performance, the Sox have a good chance of going into their series with Orange County on a three game streak. Of course, I probably just jinxed the team but I’ll take my chances.

My schedule won't allow me to make it to the stadium as I need to get some more stuff done before leaving for my Army training but I plan on listening to most of the game tonight.