Hamels to the Rangers….I Kinda Knew That Would Happen–AND–Here’s How

Sometimes, the surreal happens. Sometimes, when it happens, you have to keep it quiet to respect someone’s privacy until the event is over.

This is one of those times.

Earlier this week, I received an email from a scout from the Texas Rangers. He had viewed my Youtube Channel and liked what he saw. He wanted to know if I had additional video on three other minor league players as well.

I was lucky enough to get to meet him this week and was blown away when he introduced me to another scout (this one from the Braves) with the introduction, “If you ever need video on these guys, you have to look at her Youtube channel.” I was so flattered. Baseball Ross and I have worked really hard to build up our library of video of the young guys and to know it was appreciated on a “professional” level was rather cool.

So when I heard that the Rangers were going to get Hamels, I was floored. For once, I was on the “inside” looking out, not the other way around…and the view was amazing.

Dream Comes True-Publication of One of My Photos

For many years, my passion was writing and I was lucky to actually be paid to do so, only one catch, I was a ghost writer. In the ten years I wrote, only ONE official document bore my name.  Seven years ago, I started my blog and wrote what I wanted and put my name on it. That felt good, the fact that people read it made it seem real.

Then I started to supplement my blog with pictures. I slowly purchased better cameras, eventually learning how to manual focus and other advanced techniques-while I’m not a master, I like what I do. Photography is my new passion.  However, the only place to see it was on my blog and Baseball Ross’…until today…

Today I was contacted by the hometown paper of the Threshers’ Andrew Pullin. They were doing a story on him and wanted to know if they could use one of my photos. For the first time, one of my photos will be published, both in the online and PRINT editions! 

From the time we talked until it was up on their site was less than an hour. It’s been a whirlwind and one of my life dreams realized. 

I’m sure the The Chronicle-Serving the Greater Lewis County, Wash. Area Since 1889 would like some traffic…

You can click HERE to go to the front page of their Sports section.  The article is: Pullin Swinging Away In Phillies System.

The article is subscription only, but I can assure you, the article is well done and you might want to help the print media…

I’m including a snap of the first bit that includes my photo so that you can see it:

 
It’s a dream come true and they were kind enough to be mailing a paper copy-which I will be framing and hanging in my office. 

I’m too excited to sleep. It’s 2:15 a.m. and I decided to blog, so I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors, I promise to correct them when I return from Cloud 9.

How do you sum up such an amazing weekend?

I’ve been negligent in writing about last weekend’s trip to Hickory, NC to see the Lakewood BlueClaws take on the Hickory Crawdads. It was such an amazing weekend that it’s taken me nearly a week to decide what to say about it.

Baseball Ross really did a great job recapping the games (HERE, HERE and HERE) using my photos and his videos that I just didn’t know what to write. After some reflection, I thought I would take a bit of a different track toward what I wanted to say.

If you have been reading our blogs for any length of time, you’ll be familiar with the fact that we have “adopted” three Dominican players as our own “baseball sons”. We call them “son” and they call us “padre and madre”. Two of our boys, Ranfi Casimiro and Elniery Garcia are playing with the BlueClaws so we made the twelve hour drive to see the two of them pitch.  It just so happened to work out that both of them would pitch during their trip to Hickory.

The ball park is beautiful.

Hickory

The weather was hideous that first night. Going north from Florida, we thought it would be cooler and we brought sweatshirts just in case. Well Friday, we didn’t need them, it was 98* as indicated by the field thermometer.

It really was 98*

It really was 98*

Down in the seating bowl, the breeze never reached where we were in the first row. How Casimiro was able to pitch and pitch successfully in that heat, I’ll never know.

Ranfi Casimiro in Hickory

Ranfi Casimiro in Hickory

The next night, both of the boys were charting pitches in the stands. I was able to sit with them before the game. I took this on the way to our seats. It’s obvious that I should have drunk more milk as a kid standing next to these two.

Garcia, me and Casimiro

Garcia, me and Casimiro

The next night, it was Garcia’s turn to pitch. We went out to the bull pen and were able to watch him warm up. The smile on his face was so wide when he saw us there, when done, he flipped the warm-up ball to Ross. Ross was so tickled that he had Garcia sign it after the game.

Ross with his prized ball

Ross with his prized ball

Elniery Garcia

Elniery Garcia

Garcia pitched an amazing 7 scoreless innings and we waited for him, Casimiro and our other friends after the game to say goodbye before we headed back to Florida.

Me and my friend Herlis Rodriguez

Me and my friend Herlis Rodriguez

Here is our “Family Picture”.

The Baseball Family Picture

The Baseball Family Picture

It was the most rewarding of all our baseball trips. We got to see three really great baseball games and spend quality time with our friends and “family”. Isn’t that what baseball is all about?

Ryne Sandberg resigns and my encounter with Ruben Amaro earlier this week…..

Monday was the first game of the Gulf Coast League. Baseball Ross and I made the trek to Tampa to see the GCL Phillies take on the Yankees1 team.

It was oppressively hot. As Ross and I sat on the bleachers, Phillies great, former World Series winning manager Dallas Green came and sat on the bottom row of bleachers.

As the temperatures rose, I went looking for shade under the press box. As I stood there, Ruben and his daughter walked up the ramp to the platform so that his daughter could use the ladies room.  Amaro smiled and said hello. When his daughter was done the they went down the ramp to go back to the bleachers and Amaro, walking with his head down as always nearly smacked into Ross, who was coming up to stand in the shade with me.

Ross looked at him and they each stepped aside and went on their ways. Amaro went to sit on the bleachers…not with Dallas Green but with Ed Wade.

Amaro and Wade sat at the top of the bleachers until the game ended. Neither looked stressed or concerned in any way. Amaro had his daughter with him so one would assume he wasn’t too worried about needing to talk over serious matters with Wade…

May be Ryne Sandberg did manage to surprise them all…

The Times They Are A Changin’-CLEARWATER THRESHERS WIN FSL NORTH AND BERTH IN PLAYOFFS!

Last year it was tough to be a Clearwater Threshers fan. At this point last year, they had only won 17 games of the first 70 games! One of the absolute worst teams in all of Minor League baseball. This year, they are 37 and 33 and most importantly, they made the last five wins really count.

It is important to note that the Florida State League divides its season into two halves and the winner of each half gets a playoff spot (per division).  Going into the last five games of the first half, the Threshers were second in the northern division trailing the Daytona Tortugas by five games. 

Clearwater took the first step by winning two games against St Lucie before the three final games against Daytona. Daytona, by contrast, lost their last five games before starting the series with Clearwater.

Monday night, newly promoted Ricardo Pinto made his Threshers debut.

  
Pinto was outstanding in his debut leading the team to a 4-3 win.

After that, the biggest factor was the weather. Tuesday night, the rain and lightning started in the second inning.

  
The remaining 7 innings were to start today at noon with the second game to be only 7 innings. 

So just before noon today Ross and I entered Brighthouse as lightning crashed nearby. The rain was heavy and the lightning frequent and close.

 

The on deck circle was under water.

But 10 time best groundskeeper in FSL, Opie Cheek had the field in tip top shape after the hour and 40 minute delay.

The Threshers won the game 6-4 and it looked like we might be able to breathe. 

I wasn’t able to stay for game two as Baseball Ross and I will be traveling to Hickory tomorrow to see the Lakewood BlueClaws take on the Crawdads, so I listened from homers I packed. (Ross stayed so check his BLOG for videos)

FSL All Star and Member of Team Canada, Colin Kleven took the mound for game two. Kleven shelled the Tortugas, striking out a total of eight, six of which he struck out in a row during his 5.2 innings. Kleven’s ERA is now down to 2.89. Kleven’s final line was 5.2 IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 8SO and 1 HR. Threshers were up 3-1.

Ulises Jaoquin gave up a home run to the first batter he faced making the score 3-2 Threshers. I held my breath. It was close. So many times last year, we would get our hopes up only to have them dashed. Would it happen again? 

NO!

Jaoquin settled in and they won! 3-2! For the first time since 2007, the Threshers are going to the playoffs! 

Photo courtesy of Frank Berlingis

I screamed so loud that I was afraid that my neighbors would call the police thinking I had been murdered. My dogs were frightened, but I was elated!

THE THRESHERS ARE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS!

Oh! What a night!

This was one of those amazing nights that I won’t soon forget. Not just for the game but a lot of things.

Baseball Ross and I went to the Threshers game tonight and it was Ladies’ Night where they give away a gift basket. On a whim, I signed in and we got something to drink and took our seats.  It was hot, really hot. We were not getting any air and the game was moving very slowly. 

By the top of the 4th, the Threshers were down 7-0 to St. Lucie and Ross and I were drenched with sweat. We thought we’d wait to see if I won the gift basket before we left.

I won!

I went to pick up the basket and suddenly the Threshers picked up 3 runs! I got back to where Ross was standing and we took some pictures:

   
  
And then my friend Phinley came over:

 

Then Ross suggested we take one with the field in the background…and with the distraction of taking pictures we failed to notice that the Threshers has loaded the bases so as Ross took the picture…they were scoring on Andrew Pullin’s GRAND SLAM! The game was tied at 7!

  

The basket was awesome!   There were two bottles of wine, two huge coffee mugs, a hat (sparkly too), a headband, tickets to a concert and two coozies!  

We took the basket to the car we realized we needed to walk our dogs…so we ran home and took care of the pups.

My mother was one of those “always send a thank-you card” kind of people. So I sent the Threshers a modern day version, a tweet of the picture of me with Phinley with my note of thanks—AND IT WON PHOTO OF THE NIGHT!

To claim the prize I needed to pick it up tonight before the game ended…they were tied 8-8 so I prayed for extra innings and dashed back to Clearwater…

I must be good luck, because just as I claimed my second prize of the night, Aaron Brown hit a walk off single to score Dylan Cozens in the bottom of the ninth! They literally won at the same time! 

I win the basket- they get a grand slam, I win photo of the night and they walk off winners too…coincidence?

The photo of the game prize was a pizza at the Galley, which is just a mile or so from my house and another hat:

 
My total “haul”

  

I gave the 2nd hat to Ross and we will get pizza for Fathers’ Day on Sunday-what a great night we had! I don’t think I’ve ever been so lucky! What an amazing time!