Our New Vlog Goes Live!

Well it’s finally happened. We made a vlog. It’s a first try so it may not be award winning, but hey, we all have to start somewhere!

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This spring, Baseball Ross and I hope to post videos from Spring Training along with our written blogs. We hope with the addition of all the new video options we can increase our coverage.

So here’s vlog number one, my thoughts, pictures and video about the Phillies’ new baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. If you watch closely, you may see a familiar Williamsport Crosscutter! Watch HERE.

 

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Phillies Open New Academy in the Dominican Republic

Today was an important day for the future of the Phillies Academy in the Dominican Republic. The Phillies’ new facility opened to much fanfare.

The new facility is a joint project with the Minnesota Twins. According to the press release the facility in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic is described as an “$18 million, 85,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is housed on 45 acres. Prospects for both teams will reside and train at the academy, participate in an education program and take part in a cultural development program…Each side of the academy includes three full-sized fields, bullpen mounds, agility field, covered batting cages, dormitory space for up to 78 prospects, dining hall, weight room, training room, video coaching room and three classrooms for English language and Spanish instruction in multiple high school level topics.Additionally, the Twins and Phillies will share a kitchen facility, an auditorium consisting of 98 theater-style seats and a maintenance building.”

“Today is an exciting day for the Phillies and the Twins and for the future of our respective franchises,” said Phillies President Andy MacPhail.“This new facility allows both teams to provide on-field training and development, off-the-field cultural development and educational advancement, all of which are vital to becoming a successful baseball player in the United States.”

Many of the Phillies brass were in attendance including the Phamous Philly Phanatic who posed with former Williamsport Crosscutter and Recipient of the Williamsport Crosscutters Booster Club Fan Favorite Award, Feliberto Sanchez who is newly minted as the Assistant Pitching Coach at the Dominican Academy.

New Phillies Assistant Pitching Coach at the Dominican Academy, Feliberto Sanchez and the Phanatic
New Phillies Assistant Pitching Coach at the Dominican Academy, Feliberto Sanchez and the Phanatic

Included was a picture of the facility…

Diagram of the Joint Complex of the Phillies and Twins in the Dominican Republic.
Diagram of the Joint Complex of the Phillies and Twins in the Dominican Republic.

Now, what you do not see in the standard coverage is actual photographs of the facility, however, due to the kindness of my Dominican friends, I can provide them here.

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Phillies Dominican Complex
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Phillies Dominican Complex
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A View of the Pitching Mounds and the Buildings in the Background
One of the fields at the new Dominican Academy
One of the fields at the new Dominican Academy
Auditorium Facility at the Dominican Academy
Auditorium Facility at the Dominican Academy

More Phillies Minor Leaguers Released-Including One of Our “Baseball Sons”

This is the part I hate about spring training, the cuts.  It’s especially tough when you know the guys like Baseball Ross and I do. Some of this week’s cuts, come close to home, as we have known some of these guys for years and one is one of our “baseball sons”.

The first was pitcher Lino Martinez.

Lino Martinez, photo courtesy of MiLB.com
Lino Martinez, photo courtesy of MiLB.com

Then my friend, catcher Jesus Posso

Jesus Posso, photo courtesy of MiLB.com
Jesus Posso, photo courtesy of MiLB.com

Then short stop Dylan Bosheers

Dylan Bosheers, photo courtesy of MiLB.com
Dylan Bosheers, photo courtesy of MiLB.com

Also Scott Tomasetti, catcher

Scott Tomasetti, photo courtesy of MiLB.com
Scott Tomasetti, photo courtesy of MiLB.com

Pitcher Andrew Godail

Andrew Godail
Andrew Godail

Former Stanford quarterback, pitcher Evan Crower

Evan Crower
Evan Crower

And finally, the one that tears me up and breaks my heart, my first baseball “son” and last years’ Williamsport Crosscutters Booster Club Fan Favorite:

Feliberto Sanchez

Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez

Feliberto wasn’t just any player, he was/is/will always be one of my favorites. We met him four years ago when he began his career with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and I am grateful to have had the last four years where he has called us his “American Parents”.

I always joked that he was meant to be my “son” as we have the same crazy sense of humor and the two of us could understand each other without even talking…much to Ross’ chagrin. Feliberto and I could play jokes on Ross and before he knew what was going on, Feliberto and I would be laughing hysterically.

While I didn’t mention him by name, he is the one that caused my “crazy trip to the Tampa Airport post” (you can read that fiasco HERE) When I got him back to go to hotel that night, he wouldn’t let me leave until he gave me the gift he had made for Ross and I and it is one of my most cherished possessions.

The plaque
The plaque

It says “Special for my parents, I love you Mom and Dad”.

That year, he had hurt his knee at Thanksgiving and was flown first to Philly for surgery then here to Clearwater for rehab-which is why I had picked him up at the airport.

While rehabbing, he was here for a month, returning to the Dominican just two days before Christmas. The day before he left, he was allowed to leave the hotel for the afternoon and we had an “American” Christmas.

Our Christmas
Our Christmas

Baseball Ross asked me to add: 

“In Sanchez’ last two games he pitched five innings and struck out NINE…yet he was never given a chance to move up to Lakewood.”

Even now, I get a little choked up seeing the plaque because it means that much to me. It hangs right by my chair in the livingroom and even though he’s back in the Dominican, he’s never far from my heart. The only thing that’s changed over the years is that I’ve dropped the term “baseball”, he is my son. Hopefully, one day soon we can get together again.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Teams, 8 Games, 3,200 Miles-A Trip of a Lifetime

It was during the long, cold winter that Baseball Ross and I were sitting and dreaming of warmer days. Somehow we got on the topic of “epic trips” and started brainstorming…what if…

At some point one of us said, “what if we saw every single team in the Phillies farm system in a week?” Sure, it sounded so easy when we were sitting there in the living room all wrapped in blankets (It was during the polar vortex and even here in Florida, we had wind chills in the teens) but putting it into action was a whole other story.

We scoured the schedules of all the teams looking for a time when all of them would either be at home or at an away game that would not only be an easy drive from Harrisburg (we have family there to see) but also coordinated with the pitching schedules of our favorite pitchers. What made it even more difficult is that the rotation for the Williamsport Crosscutters would be the last released, the day before their season began.

We found one week, actually 9 days, where we could see the last game of Extended Spring Training, get on a plane and fly to Harrisburg, the next night we drove to Williamsport saw the Crosscutters, then back to Harrisburg, then drove to Lakewood to see the BlueClaws, then back to Harrisburg, then to State College to see the Cutters again so we could see Feliberto Sanchez pitch, then back to Harrisburg, then we drove to Lehigh Valley to see the IronPigs, then back to Harrisburg, then we drove to Reading to see the Fightin’ Phils, then back to Harrisburg, then we hopped on a plane flew back to Clearwater and the next day see the first game of the Gulf Coast League Phillies and a Threshers game. We flew a total of 2,000 miles and drove an amazing 1,200 more. It really was a trip of a lifetime, because I really don’t want to do that all again in a week!

Williamsport

It was opening night. It had rained and was threatening to rain again (this would become an ongoing theme of the trip).  I did a blog on that night and you can read it HERE. The downside of all the driving (4 hours in the car for Williamsport) was that it did take a lot out of me so I only did this one blog while on the trip.

Lakewood

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We were here to see our friend, Ranfy Casimiro pitch. He’s a great kid and people never stop staring when they see us together. I’m barely 5 feet tall, he’s 6′ 8″! We are totally “the long and the short of it”.

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We were lucky enough to also catch Cody Asche make a rehab appearance here in Lakewood. (This would also be a reoccurring theme as we saw him in Clearwater before we left, then Lakewood…)

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The best was seeing Casimiro pitch one of the best games of his career.

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I also was lucky enough to meet Jay Floyd of Phoul Ballz. He had interviewed me last year on his podcast along with Mr. Tug. (You can listen to the podcast HERE)

While it didn’t rain, it was cold, 64 degrees!

State College to see Williamsport again

Our friend Feliberto Sanchez pitched in State College against the Spikes.

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For me this was sort of a homecoming. I went to Penn State, albeit the Harrisburg campus, but I have many fond memories of going to State College.

What trip to Happy Valley would be complete without a trip to the CREAMERY? If you ever go to Penn State a trip to the Creamery is a must.

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State College’s stadium is right next to Beaver Stadium. It also lies in the shadow of Mount Nittany. As this was the first game, it seemed that the grounds crew groomed the mound to be a miniature Mount Nittany. It was high and seemed to have steep drop offs instead of gradual sloping sides like a “normal” mound.

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We also got to see Ricky Bielski pitch

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The thing that sticks out in my mind is the lightning. It only rained for about five minutes that night but the lightning was all around the stadium. Long, bright bolts of lightning were striking all around the stadium. I was amazed that there wasn’t a delay. Ironically, the next night the new Lion LED sign that was added to Beaver Stadium just across the street was struck by lightning!

 

Lehigh Valley

There were many things on this leg of the trip that were memorable.

Three words: Aw Shucks Corn

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Seriously, it’s my favorite ballpark food of all time. I am ashamed to admit I ate two ears of it.

Four words: Bacon-scented Tee-shirts

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Seriously! I love bacon, but this is taking it just a little far don’t you think?

 

I finally got to meet @cherylpursell and @Kram209! Cheryl takes amazing pictures and Kram well he’s the biggest Pigs fan there is. He was also gracious enough to present me with a CODY ASCHE BOBBLEHEAD! (*FAINTS*)

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He was also kind enough to show me around Coca Cola Park.

 

The funny thing was, Cody Asche was making a rehab appearance there in Lehigh Valley so we got not only to see him play again, but got to see him next to his bobble head.

 

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I also was witness to long time Pharm-hand Tyson Gillies second to last appearance as a Pig before his release.

Reading

I got to see Jesse Biddle pitch.

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I also saw my friend Carlos Alonso

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I also met @Mr.Tug who was with PhoulBallz and is now the photographer of the Reading Fightin Phils! Meeting people is fun so before the night was done, @mikeyesh dropped by to say, “Hi” to Ross and I.

The next day, we flew back to Clearwater. By Friday we were up at ant Englebert field to see the GCL Phillies.

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Trey Williams

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All the draft picks were there including Aaron Nola, who could be called the 3.3 Million Dollar Arm.

All the Phillies Brass were there

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Nola didn’t pitch that day…

And finally to complete the trip, the Threshers game at night to catch a rehabbing Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

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The highlight was seeing JP Crawford in his first at bat with the Threshers.

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In all that traveling we managed to see my brother, his girlfriend and my niece as well as the two girls who grew up next door next to me as a girl who are like sisters to me. We even stopped at Hershey’s Chocolate World on the way to the airport.

20140705-222241-80561610.jpg It was a really good trip. We never really got rained on, saw next to no traffic and had no car mishaps. We didn’t even have any flight delays, in fact our planes arrived early!

I don’t think our crazy trip could have worked out any better! That being said, I sure am glad to be home.

Final Workout Group Posting

Here it is…

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Phillies Minor League Workgroup List-Updated as of 3/10/2014

This morning the updated workgroup listing for the Phillies minor league camp was released:

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