There’s an end in sight

As I’ve mentioned earlier in the summer I’ve been dealing with a bad case of “Tennis Elbow” that’s made my blogging and photography difficult and painful. I’ve done the best I could, but last week, it was too much.

With a trip to urgent care, there was more, the discovery of a “bone growth” in the elbow where the nerves pass. A simple explanation for a painful condition.

I talked to some friends and was recommended to a local practice. It was large and when I called, the appointment setter lined me up with their best “sports injury” guy.

Turns out this sports blogger is going to be seeing the doctor for the Toronto Blue Jays and Dunedin Blue Jays. It’s like the lines have blurred.

Better yet, he must be good if he can be trusted with million-dollar arms, he should do a wonderful job on my $1.98 arm, right?

I feel like I won the lottery, first I go to R.A. Dickey’s hair stylist, now the team doctor! What’s next? A seat on the team bus? (Please?)

So cross your fingers and hopefully we will have a plan of action soon.

There’s a New Love in my Life–The Dunedin Blue Jays

There’s a new love in my life, but let me start a different way…

I was born in Central Pennsylvania, I’m a Phillies fan at heart and always will be, but since we moved to Florida there’s been someone else. Well, may be I should say, someones else.

You see, I live three blocks from the Dunedin Blue Jays’ stadium. At first, I went there just when the Phillies or Threshers were there, like you’d expect, but the more I went, the more I was hooked. You see, there is something different about Dunedin, you feel like you belong. Go to a few games and they get to know you. There’s a smile as you walk through the gates, a wave from the ladies at the concession stand (even if you don’t need anything) and a real sense of community. It doesn’t feel like a big corporation, it feels like a team that belongs to the town, you feel like you’re part of something.

Every game a local charity holds their 50/50 drawing, there’s a toy drive for the local children’s Christmas charity, there’s the annual charity bowling tournament, sponsorship of little league teams, you name it, the Blue Jays are there for the community.

That’s why when I saw this article in the paper today, I smiled because OF COURSE they’d support TJ…

Boy with Famous Lemonade Stand Takes Pitch to Dunedin Blue Jays Playoff Game

In case you missed the original story: Dunedin neighbor is sour on boy’s lemonade stand

Then there was this: Dunedin boy with lemonade stand reaps windfall; neighbor under city review

So, now you know why, I’m seeing someone else…at least some of the time. So if you’re looking for me tomorrow night, you’ll know where I’ll be…

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Prospect top 20 list

For the second year, Baseball Ross and I were asked to participate in Mike Drago’s poll of the top 20 prospects in the Phillies minor league system.

This year was especially interesting since we had journeyed 3,200 miles this summer to se all the teams. This is our list:

1. JP Crawford
2. Jesse Biddle (He was beyond amazing in his return)
3. Miguel Franco
4. Roman Quinn
5. Aaron Nola
6. Deivi Grullon
7. Matt Imhof
8. Andrew Knapp
9. Dylan Cozens
10. Brandon Leibrant
11. Cord Sandberg
12. Yoel Mecias
13. Kelly Dugan
14. Aaron Brown
15. Cameron Perkins
16. Aaron Altherr
17. Zach Green
18. Colin Klevin
19. Miguel Nunez
20. Jordan Guth

To compare our list to the final poll you can visit Mitch Rupert’s article where he quotes Drago’s article and also has prior years’ lists for comparison. You can read it HERE

The Long, Hot Summer and My Favorites From It

I’ll admit it, I’ve slacked off a bit this summer. It’s hard not to. This has been one of the hottest summers in recent history and definitely the hottest since Baseball Ross and I moved to Florida full-time.  Almost every day for over a week has had “feels like” temperatures over 100, with one day being 110!

With the heat like that, going to Gulf Coast League games at noon is brutal. At the Carpenter Complex, there is a trade off: if you want shade-you get no breeze, if you want a breeze-you get no shade. Regardless of where you sit, every available space for spectators is covered in heat-absorbing concrete.

Couple all the heat with a severe case of elbow tendinitis in my right elbow that kept me from being able to take pictures with anything heavier than an iPhone and you have a recipe for a long summer.

That being said, I have gotten to see a fair bit of baseball and a few things that helped me to love baseball again.

So I will list them here (in no particular order):

1. Winning a jersey in an auction that was worn by my favorite Williamsport Crosscutter. Ross and I have been good friends with Feliberto Sanchez since last year when he spent the year here in GCL and the Fall Instructional League. He’s a great kid and I just had to have the jersey. OK, the auction was for their “Ugly Christmas Sweater” promotion, but still, it was Sanchez’s jersey. There was only one problem. The Cutters never responded to my inquiry about proxy phone bidding. Luckily, Tim Luzier (@20schmidtfan) saw my plea and helped me out. I’m so grateful for his help.

Sanchez Jersey

2. Our crazy marathon trip to see every team in the Phillies minor league system–IN ONE WEEK. (You can read it and see the pictures in this post.) 3,200 miles (1,200 by car) and it was a blast. That being said, I’m not sure I’d do it again! It was very draining.

3. Seeing pitchers overcome difficulties and succeed. Colin Kleven had a back injury that prematurely ended his season in Clearwater last year. Seeing him come back and steadily progress has been great. As difficult of a season that Clearwater had, I always looked forward and went out of my way to see him pitch and was often rewarded by a strong performance.

Colin Kleven

Colin Kleven at the preseason “Meet the Players” picnic

I was also glad to see Jesse Biddle roar back in a rehab appearance here in Clearwater. Jesse’s difficulties this year, starting with a concussion caused by a hail stone, have been well documented. To see him tear it up in his first rehab appearance was just great. (You can read my blog about Jesse here.)

Jesse Biddle

Jesse Biddle

3. Seeing Aaron Nola’s first and second professional starts. That could be one of those things that in 10 years I’ll be bragging about it. You can read about his first start HERE and the second start HERE.

Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola

4. Getting to know Frank Viola III and learning about the knuckle ball. I had written a story about Frank’s return to baseball and one night, while Ross and I were at dinner the waiter came up to me and asked, “Would you happen to be Baseball Betsy?” I replied that I was and he smiled and said, “The gentleman at that table over there would like to buy you dessert.” (Now there’s a guy who knows the way to my heart!) I looked over and it was Frank and his mother. He had read the story and liked it. Ross and I ended up joining them and had a great time. I learned so much about the “mindset of the knuckleball”.  If you’ve read my blog this summer, about a third of the posts were about knuckleballs.

Frank Viola III

After that, I followed his progress through the Blue Jays minor league system including a stop in Dunedin, where I got to see him pitch.

Sadly, my heart was broken at the end of July when he was released. On the plus side, I made a new friend and that is amazing by itself.

5. Helping the Threshers mascot, Phinley win the Mascot Mania Challenge to be the best mascot in ALL of minor league baseball. It was a hard push, but after hundreds of tweets, retweets, online votes and my followers retweeting my tweets helped to make Phinley a winner. It was a matter of time since he was second last year.

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I know looking at the picture above you can hear “You’re the Best Around” playing in your head.

6. Bark in the Park/Yappy Hour. To me, this is the best trend in all of baseball. Pay a few dollars to an animal charity for a “ticket” for your dog and they can join you at the game. We have two small shih tzus and over the years we have taken them to several BitPs. Sadly, Maggie our 14 year old, cannot endure the Florida heat so she was not able to attend this year, but Veronica our youngest, LOVES to go. I wrote a story about her game.

Veronica LOVES baseball

Veronica LOVES baseball

Just look at that face, you can tell she’s having a blast.

So there are the things I loved most about the summer of 2014, I couldn’t really even rank them because they were all pretty stellar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yappy Hour Makes Veronica Happy

Tonight was “Yappy Hour” or as it’s better known as Bark in the Park.

I took my youngest dog, Veronica. Baseball Ross and I have come to realize she is not a “normal” dog. She’s extremely intelligent and actually seems to enjoy a baseball game.

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It was really hot (the main reason we could not bring our other dog, Maggie. She is 14 years old, and the heat really bothers her.) At one point, the sun was on our seats and the heat became very uncomfortable. So we made a little bed under the seat for Veronica.

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She really seemed to have a good time and even gave me a big smile when I asked her she was having fun.

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And at the end of the night she even was a little silly, trying on my hat.

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Don’t think we forgot our other dog, Maggie. We took homehalf a hot dog for her so she wasn’t left out. And if you knew a new Maggie, all she would’ve wanted tonight anyway was the hot dog.

Veronica so loves going to baseball games. She’s quiet, attentive and honestly she’s more well-behaved than most children. I wish she could go to every game, and I think she does too.

Biddle is Back in the Saddle

I’ve been a fan of Jesse Biddle since 2010. If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have read my story from Jesse’s first appearance in Clearwater… SEE HERE where I recounted first seeing him make his first professional start in Williamsport.

I consider myself lucky that I’ve gotten to know him. After seeing someone pitch over the years you start to recognize their rhythm, their little habits, all the things they do before-and-after each pitch.

When I saw Jesse back in June, it was his second to last start before being deactivated. He seemed tense, all the “little things” seemed off, nothing you’d notice if you’d hadn’t been watching him for years.

Tonight, Jesse was different, he was like that Jesse I’ve known all these years. His confidence was back and all the little habits are just as they were when he was here in Clearwater back in 2012. Jesse was great! At he end of the fifth inning when they pulled him, he had a no-no going: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K.

He pitched well and made a play at first, SEE HERE

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And this may be the best baseball picture I’ve ever taken:

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It was good to see my friend doing what he is capable of doing. I really enjoy watching him succeed.

Welcome back, Jesse!