Saturday, November 19, 2011

Granite State Baseball Dinner

Chris Carpenter won the live auction for a Steven Tyler signed guitar, bidding $3,000, and Oscar Gamble no longer has the afro. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is one shy dude with nice boots, and Chanty Sok from "The Fighter" was at the head table. The pics:

Chris Carpenter (Cardinals) and Brad Zapenas (Cubs)
Chris Carpenter and Tareah Gray
"The Fighter" movie stars Mickey O'Keefe, Chanty Sok
and Tareah Gray. Note Mickey's firm grip. 
Anthony Gose, Chris Carpenter
Pirates LHP Jeff Locke and Yankees RHP Jordan Cote
Tom Raffio of Northeast Delta Dental gave that $1,000 check to Anthony Gose for Fisher Cats excellence and charitable work.
Nine Heidi Watneys and a DH Heidi Watney

Brad Zapenas, Stud Baseball Player, Jordan Cote.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hockey Night in New Hampshire

Andrew Campbell's OT goal gave the Manchester Monarchs a 3-2 win over Worcester before a crowd of 6,192 fans tonight. Tough guys Justin Johnson and Jimmy Bonneau set the tone with a heavyweight battle on their first shift. Sights and sounds from the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH:

Chris Ryan interviews Andrew Campbell before the game. 

Mustached Monarchs coach Mark Morris
Monarchs broadcasters Chris Ryan and Ken Cail
Chuck-A-Puck Bob 

New Blue Jays logo unveiled today

New Blue Jays primary logo is a hybrid of old-school bird and font, perhaps channeling some World Series mojo. I'm not in love but it looks better every time I see it.

Hello, Ottawa. Really?

Oh, Ottawa. With all due respect, you're bringing some weak sauce from the capital city. I spent the afternoon debunking an Ottawa Citizen report that has the New Hampshire Fisher Cats being traded to Ottawa in exchange for the Binghamton Mets. Say what?

According to the published report, "All signs indicate Ottawa would become the new home of the Eastern League franchise in Binghamton, New York. That would involve a swap of working agreements between the New York Mets, the major league parent team of the existing Binghamton club, and the Toronto Blue Jays, whose Double-A team now plays in Manchester, New Hampshire. That trade of affiliations would occur after the 2012 season.”

It spawned other reports, and people actually believed this on Twitter. On a mission to set the record straight, I talked with all parties involved and learned a few things along the way. For one, the Fisher Cats may not pursue a player development contract with a New York team -- a special provision that's part of the territorial waiver signed by Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino in 2003. That contract clause is based on major-league TV markets and precludes the Fisher Cats from entering a PDC with the Mets or Yankees.

Fisher Cats president Rick Brenner, put in tough spot to comment on the Ottawa rumor, handled it very well. “Unlike media speculation that has no foundation in fact, we are going to abide by the rules governing the affiliation process between major league and minor league teams and only say that both the Blue Jays and Fisher Cats are very happy with our eight-year relationship."

More from McEachern: “The speculation is getting way out in front of itself ... It could be one city councilor who thinks it would be cool to have Minor League Baseball again in Ottawa and doesn’t have anything behind it. These rumors pop up all time.”

Some have asked about New Hampshire adopting a Triple-A team. That can't happen, either, based on contract language tied to the team's inception and involving the aforementioned territorial waiver involving the Red Sox.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Richard Clune is no "pocket goon"

     Ten minutes after a team doctor stitched his face, Toronto native Richard Clune assisted the winning goal in the Manchester Monarchs' 2-1 victory against Worcester last weekend. Clune, as I learned while working on this feature story, is much more than a 5-foot-10 fist-swinging enforcer. We talked about fighting in hockey and the sad stories of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak -- who all died within four months over the summer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Travis Snider is "Lunch Box Hero"

Play to the tunes of Foreigner's Juke Box Hero:

Standing in the rain
With a mustache glow
Earned himself a ticket
Battin' sixth in The Show
Heard the roar of the crowd
Droppin' tweets on cuisine
Squared up a curveball
Hit one to the Jet Stream

At one sports bar
They loved the Blue Jays
Saw stars in his eyes
At the meat buffet
Bought a beat up chicken wing at the shore
Didn't wanna Bobby Flay it
But he knew for sure
That a little pine tar
Felt good in his hands

Didn't take long to understand
Just one fastball, hit way down low
was a one-way ticket

Like hittin' a free throw
So he started rakin' aint never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rakin'
Someday he's gonna make it to the top
And be a Lunch Box Hero
Got stars in his eyes
He's a Lunch Box Hero
World Series is the prize
Lunch Box Hero ... He'll come alive tonight

At a park without a name
Saltin' steaks to the core
Thought he passed his own shadow
At the batting cage door
Like a trip through the past
A doubleheader in the rain
That one sirloin made his whole life change

Now he needs to keep rakin, he just can't stop
Gotta keep on rakin, that boy has got to stay on top
And be a Lunch Box Hero
He's a Lunch Box Hero, got stars in his eyes
Yeah, World Series is the prize
With a little pine tar, he'll come alive

Lyrics and photo by the K2 Swag District.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Blue Jays Notebook

     I have a hunch the Red Sox will hire Dale Sveum as their next manager, and the highly respected Torey Lovullo will stay with the Blue Jays in a coaching capacity. I would expect Sal Fasano to return as manager of the Double-A Fisher Cats, though the Blue Jays and Sal himself tell me nothing has been finalized. The New Hampshire club does need a new pitching coach since Pete Walker will be the Jays' bullpen coach in 2012. Perhaps Tom Signore returns to Double-A to guide the Jays' top prospects. "Siggy" did excellent work with Kyle Drabek, Luis Perez, Marc Rzepczynski and others in 2010.

     Elite prospect Drew Hutchison is working out four days per week at Toronto's minor-league complex in Dunedin, Fla. Asked about one area of improvement for Hutch in 2012, he said, "Just try to get my slider more consistent every time out."

Drew Hutchison made a big impression at Double-A, going 3-0 (1.20 ERA) with 21 strikeouts and two walks. MiLB photo

      Southpaw reliever Frank Gailey, who held lefty batters to a .131 average at Single-A, continues to work on his bread-and-butter: swooping breaking balls and sneaky fastballs from a lower arm slot. "To me, that's the one thing I'm working on, a lower-arm slot. I have to learn it able be able to throw all my pitches from there, anytime, for strikes and prove I'm the guy to put in there in all key situations," Gailey said.

     RHP Nestor Molina looks to crack the Toronto rotation. He will. Full disclosure: love this kid. His stuff is electric. Great personality. Positive influence on everyone around him. And you know what else? He always says "Thank you for the interview" after talking with him. 

     "I'm going to try and do my best. Not going to change anything and work hard and try to get my best pitches. I don't think I need to change anything because I had a good season last year doing my things," said Molina, whose numbers were ridiculous at AA: 1 ER through 22 IP, 33K, 2W.