You Just Don’t See This Everyday, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Baseball Ross likes to say that he loves baseball because every game you watch, you see something you’ve  never seen before. Today, that was seeing the sons of 3 major league stars bat, 1-2-3 in Dunedin’s line up.

Today was the final regular season game for the Threshers and Blue Jays. The Jays eliminated the Threshers on Thursday night so the last three games have been less than thrilling, shall we say. There was a reason, however, that I chose to go out in the 90* heat this afternoon to watch a game that was essentially meaningless. It was the fact that the sons of three major league players batting 1-2-3 in the order.

Bo Bichette

First up was Bo Bichette,  son of Dante Bichette who played for the Angels, Brewers, Rockies, Reds and Red Sox. He was a 4 time all-star who finished 2nd in MVP voting in 1995. Dante Bichette, Jr., Bo’s older brother plays for the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees AA farm team. Bo split the season between the Lansing Lugnuts and Dunedin Jays. He had 14 home runs, 74 RBIs, 42 walks and a batting average of .362.

Cavan Biggio

Second up was Cavan Biggio, son of  Craig Biggio who played his entire career with the Houston Astros. He was a 7-time National League All Star and is often regarded as the best player in Astros history. Cavan, played the entire season in Dunedin and had 11 home runs, 60 RBIs and 74 walks with a .233 batting average.

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Third in the order today was Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. He is the son of Vladimir Guerrero who played for the Expos, Angels, Rangers and Orioles. He was voted the American League MVP in 2004. Jr, had a rather impressive season starting with the Lansing Lugnuts before moving up to Dunedin. In total, he had 13 home runs, 76 RBIs and 76 walks with a batting average of  .323. The thing that struck me the most about him is that he doesn’t “act” like a star. I’ve seen him retrieve balls and hand them to the batboy (most guys just ignore them) and I’ve seen him spent a lot of time signing autographs after a game, with a smile on his face.

It’s made for an interesting second half of the season. I’ve enjoyed watching them and plan on going down to the stadium on Tuesday to see the first game of the first round of the playoffs. It may just be the first time that three sons of three major leagues play together on a team that wins a playoff game. I’m sure Stats.inc. has someone one who knows for sure, but even if it has, it’s nothing we’ve ever seen before and that’s why we love baseball.

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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.

photo photo

 

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.