Hartford Yard Goats vs Altoona Curve – June 3, 2018

I made it to my 120th stadium with my visit to Dunkin’ Donuts Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats.  I was able to attend a Sunday afternoon game as a day trip from here in the Philadelphia area.  It’s nice to see a brand new ballpark and they did a good job with this one.  One interesting feature that I noticed is that they have two levels of seating in right field, and the yellow line to signify where a home run needs to be is at the beginning of the second level.  The first level is behind netting, but any ball that hits the netting is in play.  They also have a pen where live goats are kept which is used as a mini petting zoo, which I thought was a nice touch.

I bought a ticket ahead of time because I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity to get to a Yard Goats game.  And even though there were only about 10 non-standing room tickets available when I got mine, I was able to get a pretty good seat between the two dugouts.  They were also kind enough to let me go up to the suite level to take some pictures of the stadium from behind home plate.

The game itself was pretty good as well.  I’m not sure why I’m seeing so much offense this year as the winning team scored at least 8 runs in the three games I’ve attended so far.  The Yard Goats beat the Altoona Curve by a score of 8-5 without any home runs being hit.  So there was a good amount of offense at the game.  The Curve were down 8-1 before starting their comeback, but they couldn’t complete it despite having their cleanup hitter, 1B Will Craig, at the plate as the tying run in the top of the 8th.

I was excited to see the Rockies top prospect, 2B Brendan Rodgers, play, but he ended up getting hit by a pitch in both the 1st and 2nd innings and finished 0-3.  I was also impressed to see the Yard Goats cleanup hitter, 6-5 225 lb RF Sam Hilliard steal both 2nd and 3rd base in the same inning, and was surprised by his overall speed given his career stolen base totals.  3B Ryan Metzler had the best hitting performance of the team going 3-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.

The Curve had two of their top prospects at the top of their lineup for the game, and they each had mutliple hits.  SS Cole Tucker matched Metzler’s stat line and added a walk to it.  3B Ke’Bryan Hayes went 2-4 with an RBI double.

I’ve always been a bit of a traditionalist with baseball and been in favor of having pitchers hit since it creates some extra strategy within the game beyond what the designated hitter provides.  But after seeing Altoona pitcher Pedro Vasquez in the batter’s box, I might change my mind.  He was struggling quite a bit and seemed to be taking the approach of taking pitches until he absolutely had to do something.  Professionally, he’s only had to bat this season and he is 0 for 5 with a walk and two strikeouts.

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Reno Aces extend PDC with Diamondbacks to 2020

The Reno Aces have extended their player development contract with the Diamondbacks to 2020.  They have been a Diamondbacks affiliate since they relocated from Tucson in 2009.  There will definitely be some movement at the AAA level at the end of the season as the Mets will be going to Syracuse, so it will be interesting to see what chain reaction that puts into effect.


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Autographs from Reading – Portland Game – May 15, 2018

I always talk about Reading games as a great place for autographs and this was no exception.  I got to the game about 30 minutes before game time since they indicated that gates were opening 15 minutes before game time, but since the gates were open when I arrived, that put me in much better shape for autographs.

I started a little later than I normally would have since some of the players had already come out, but I was able to get cards signed by Portland 3B Jantzen Witte, coach Luke Montz, and pitchers Trey Ball and Jake Cosart as they walked from the locker room to the field before the game.  I started with the Portland side since I had more cards of their players with me.

Since it was a doubleheader, I thought that it would be a good idea to try to get some Fightin Phils autographs as they returned to the locker room following the first game.  My strategy worked as outfielder Cord Sandberg signed for me on his way out.

I hung around that general area, although in the stands next to where the players walk through, since it seems to work better than standing near the fence that they have set up for autograph seekers.  If you saw it, this would all make sense.  Returning from the locker room, the starting pitcher Franklyn Kilome stopped to sign an autograph for me.  I had met him last year also, but it’s nice to have some autographs from one of the Phillies top prospects.  Also on the way back to the field, I got signatures from outfielder Jan Hernandez and coach Rico Brogna.

I was also hoping to see if I could get the few cards I had remaining at the end of the game, but since it was heading to a rain delay and everyone was focused on getting out of the elements, I abandoned that plan.

Overall, it was another great experience and lots of fun to meet players and get some baseball cards signed.  I greatly appreciate their willingness to interact with the fans.

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Reading Fightin Phils vs Portland Sea Dogs – May 15, 2018

I was able to make it to my first game of the season finally.  I took some time off from work and despite the rainy forecast this week, I wanted to see if I could fit in a game.  I saw that Reading was home on Tuesday, May 15 with a 10:45 game and since that coincided with a break in the rain, I thought it was a good option.  Then I looked a little closer and saw that it was actually a doubleheader being played.  I initially missed it because the second game was listed as a Portland home game as it was the result of a game with the Fightin Phils that was postponed in April and rescheduled from Portland to Reading.  So I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get to a doubleheader and attend my first game where it was originally scheduled for another location and the game in Reading would feature the Fightin Phils as the away team.  I had also seen 45 Eastern League games before this one and none involved the Portland Sea Dogs.  That’s mainly a coincidence since I really don’t choose games based on opponents, but I also haven’t made it up to Portland yet.  I also haven’t see the Bowie Baysox as a road team, but I saw them as the home team 4 times, as another coincidence.  Although now I will have seen Portland as the road team and home team without going to Portland.

Normally, I try to get to games about an hour before first pitch, but I saw that they weren’t opening gates until 10:30 for the 10:45 pitch.  I arrived at 10:15 with intent of getting in as soon as gates opened, but to my surprise, they were already open when I got there.  This did benefit my autograph seeking, but I will talk to that in another post.  I was also surprised to find out that Phillies pitcher Jerad Eickhoff was making a rehab appearance as the day’s starting pitcher.  It was a special school kids game that was moved an hour earlier to accommodate the doubleheader and with my general admission ticket that I bought, I was told that I only had two sections to choose from.  I chose a seat directly behind home plate in the second row of the green general admission section, which happened to be right behind three of the Sea Dogs pitchers who were charting the game.  I never did figure out which ones though, and I have to think that it would have been impolite to ask who they were, right?

In the first game, Portland put up two runs in the top of the first and Reading took a 3-2 lead in the 2nd via a 3-run home run by catcher Deivi Grullon.  Portland bat around and put up 5 in the top of the 4th with 3 doubles and a home run by their catcher Austin Rei giving them a 7-3 lead.  Reading 2B Brandon Bednar hit his first home run of the season in the bottom of the 5th and Portland 3B Jantzen Witte finished his 3-3 day with a home run following his earlier two doubles to go 7 for 12 with the team after joining them from Pawtucket.  I know it’s only 12 at bats in 3 games, but it’s still cool to have a slugging percentage of over 1.000 (actually 1.083) at any point.

So going into the bottom of the 7th (the final inning since it is a minor league doubleheader despite having two different home teams in the same venue), the Fightin Phils were down 8-4.  They managed to load the bases on Sea Dogs starting pitcher Matthew Kent with no outs, so they brought in their closer, Trevor Kelley.  He shut them down with two strikeouts and a flyout to earn the save.

The second game was pretty much going the Sea Dogs’ way as they went up 7-0 after five innings.  Reading sent their #7 prospect Franklyn Kilome to the mound as the starter, but he was not sharp giving up those 7 runs (only 3 earned) in 4 innings allowing 8 hits and 5 walks along the way.  But in the top of the 6th, the Fightins decided it was their turn for the rally.  It started with a home run by catcher Austin Bossart.  As a quick aside, so that’s home runs for three of the catchers now, but unfortunately Portland’s other catcher Jhon Nunez didn’t hit a home run but took a very painful shot to the groin that a caused a small delay.  Anyway, the rally ended with the second home run of the day for Brandon Bednar, who didn’t start the second game, which made the score 7-7.  At this point, I was noticing that the game was dragging on quite a bit and I’m getting nervous as the storm clouds seemed to get closer and the wind was picking up, but the game kept going.  After 7 innings, it was still 7-7, so my hope of leaving at a decent time had pretty much ended, but I had to stick around for the finish.

I got to experience the new extra innings rule in the minors this year where a player starts the inning on second base for the first time also.  The 8th inning didn’t lead to any runs, but in top of the 9th inning (and remember Reading is the away team in this game), Fightin Phils CF Cord Sandberg hit a two-run home run with two outs to give them a 9-7 lead.  And right after the third out was made, they announced that because of the impending storm they were delaying the game and asked everyone to leave the seating bowl to take cover.  I knew the storms were going to be bad and later found out they were under a tornado warning, so I decided that it was best if I started on my over an hour trek home rather than try to wait it out.  Luckily, I stayed on the front edge of the storm the entire way and made it safe inside before the worst part hit.

I looked up the game’s status after I got home and saw that they had suspended the game with the intention of finishing it up before the next day’s game with an 11:45 AM start.  So it’s definitely good that I didn’t wait it out because the drive would have been very rough.  I also looked at the box score (because that’s what everyone does after watching a game, I’m sure) and saw that for Sandberg’s home run that Sea Dogs pitcher Jake Cosart was charged with two earned runs.  I was thinking that couldn’t be right because the extra man starting at second isn’t supposed to count as an earned run.  I checked the rules and saw that it was in error, although I couldn’t figure out how I could point out this mistake.  I know it’s really not a big deal, but it should be correct.  However, I did see that it was fixed the following day, so all is good.

And in case you were wondering, after a rain delay to complete the game the following day, the Sea Dogs scored a single run in the bottom of the 9th and the Fightin Phils won, 9-8 in 9 innings of that second game of the 7 inning doubleheader.

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Asheville Tourists extend PDC with Rockies to 2020

The Asheville Tourists have extended their player development contract with the Rockies to 2020.  The Tourists have been a Rockies affiliate since 1994.  There are still many player development contracts within the Midwest and South Atlantic Leagues that are set to expire at the end of the season, so there is some potential for movement, although after the 2016 season, none of the teams at the Low A level changed affiliations.


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Andrew Knapp Philadelphia Phillies Signing – May 7, 2018

On May 7, I was able to attend the Bull Session Radio Show at Chickie and Pete’s in South Philadelphia.  The show is hosted by Dan Baker and former Phillies player Greg Luzinski and they typically have a current or former player as a guest on the show.  They advertise that the guest will sign autographs and this show’s guest was Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp.  There was a pretty good turnout, but plenty of opportunity to get an autograph. The show is broadcast live on Mondays and is a great opportunity to meet Greg Luzinski and another player.

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Buffalo Bisons extend PDC with Blue Jays to 2020


The Buffalo Bisons have extended their player development contract with the Blue Jays to 2020.  The Bisons have been a Blue Jays affiliate since 2013.


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Scott Kingery Philadelphia Phillies Signing – April 9, 2018

On April 9, I was able to attend the Bull Session Radio Show at Chickie and Pete’s in South Philadelphia.  The show is hosted by Dan Baker and former Phillies player Greg Luzinski and they typically have a current or former player as a guest on the show.  They advertise that the guest will sign autographs and this show’s guest was Phillies infielder Scott Kingery.  This event had the largest turnout of those that I’ve attended, but everyone there was still able to get an autograph.  The show is broadcast live on Mondays and is a great opportunity to meet Greg Luzinski and another player.

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Frisco RoughRiders extend PDC with Rangers to 2020

The Frisco RoughRiders have extended their player development contract with the Rangers to 2020.  The RoughRiders have been a Rangers affiliate since their inaugural season in 2003.


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B.J. Surhoff Former Baltimore Orioles Signing – March 31, 2018

Last Saturday, I went to the Walmart in Cockeysville, MD where former Oriole B.J. Surhoff was signing autographs.  Walmart appears to be doing a number of events to celebrate major league baseball’s opening day and this was the Orioles event.  There was a pretty decent turnout for the event and Surhoff signed everything that fans had and took photos as well, so I’m sure everyone there left happy.

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