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(Third) Rate the IL Hotel: The Finale!



It’s time once again for the game which always has perfect water pressure……


(Third) Rate the IL Hotel!!!


And now your host who never disturbs…..Jason Benetti!


Well hello everyone and welcome once again to (Third) Rate the IL Hotel.  If you’re thinking, “I thought (Third) Rate the IL Hotel was last season,” you’re right.  Our new season will debut in about two weeks.  But, because the Chiefs didn’t travel to Scranton last season, we bring you our cliffhanger finale right now.


In case you just joined us, here are the rules to (Third) Rate the IL Hotel.  We give you three positives and three negatives of the most recent hotel the Syracuse Chiefs have stayed in.  Then, we assign a score between 1 and 100.  That score can be redeemed for a travel-size deodorant at the front desk.


So, without further ado, we unveil the final edition of (Third) Rate the IL Hotel.  Today’s hotel:  The Radisson Lackawanna Station in Scranton, PA!




1) Chug-a-chug-a.  The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team in the International League has been called three nicknames in eight years.  Much to the delight of former P.A. announcer John Davies, they were the Red Barons in 2006.  With new ownership in 2007, they became the Yankees.  Now, residing in a new ballpark at the same site, the Scranton nine is called the RailRiders.  This name harkens back to a rich history of early transportation and coal mining in the area.  Though the new mascot doesn’t exactly shriek New Haven Railroad–it’s a purple porcupine–the team hotel does the trick.  The Chiefs stay at the Radisson Lackawanna Station which is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a former train station.  It stopped being one in 1970 and has since become a hotel.  This is fitting, what with the RailRiders and Chiefs both sporting loco-motifs.  Each team has used the slogan “All Aboard” in the last three years.  Maybe the Radisson has taken it too far….



2) Be married.

As I waited for the shuttle to the ballpark on Saturday, I chatted with Chiefs strength and conditioning coach Brett Henry.  As we talked, two separate people asked Brett to move aside so they could squeeze by with a stack of chairs.  The chairs were on their way to the central lobby within the station where, I imagine, people used to wait for the 6:15 to Elmira.  I like a place that’s a wedding hot spot.  The people that stay in the hotel for a wedding generally fall into three categories:

A) Nervous and neurotic

B) Happy-go-lucky

C) Overemotional and ready to burst

Two of those three sets of people are great fun to deal with as a stranger.  And, it’s easy to tell who falls into the first category.  The nervous and neurotic folks generally have as good of a poker face as Dr. Orin Scrivelo.

3) Eat & drink.

The restaurant in the hotel lobby has tremendous food.  Reasonably-priced breakfast–$7 for a sizable portion of french toast with a hint of orange in the batter–and a wide-ranging lunch buffet are great perks.  In addition, there’s a water jug near the main desk filled with icy, fruit-flavored water.  Always a welcome addition.




1) Lake Eerie.  An old train station, you say?  Sounds like it could be haunted, Jason.  You’re right, dear reader.  The Radisson seems to have strange things happen inside of it.  Here are a few examples:


“The player told us that one night around midnight three of his teammates were walking down the hallway on the 6th floor and encountered a ghost who last leaning over a railing.  The railing overlooked the dinning room that was located six floors below.  The three players stopped dead in their tracks and claim the ghost told them he was killed in a car accident.  As he was talking to them, his head spun around 360 degrees. ”

–Scott McCauley, former Indianapolis announcer.

“Recently, Lehigh Valley slugger Terry Tiffee felt the wrath of the haunted hotel.  Tiffee was staying in room 420 and heard a knock at the door.  Reportedly, he answered the door and an African American gentleman in a tuxedo, claiming to be a bellman asked if everything was OK.  Tiffee thought it was a strange visit, so he called the front desk to ask about his visitor.  The girl at the desk told Tiffee that the hotel employed no such person.  Tiffee was sufficiently spooked to pack his bags and move across the street to the Hilton, paying the $200 per night tab himself.”

–Steve Hyder, former Pawtucket and Syracuse announcer

Pretty soon, half of the team is joining in on stories about how a CF from another team (don’t know the name of course) swore he saw a ghost in his room or how a coach woke up in the middle of the night to his TV being turned off and pushed back into it’s standup dresser. For every guy on the team, there were 2-3 stories to be told per person and although the details seemed to be a little vague and no one knew names it was enough to get the blood going, and we still had 3 more nights in the hotel. For three straight days people came to the field, some a little more sleep-deprived than others, asking if anything happened to a teammate that night and anxious to hear another story.

–Ryan Tatusko, current Chiefs pitcher

This season, Chiefs manager Tony Beasley told me he went to sleep with the TV on and woke up with it off.  He didn’t activate a sleep timer.

I’ve never experienced the paranormal myself.  Then again, it’s tough to feel anything when you go to sleep blasting Metallica in your headphones while curled in a ball in the bathtub.

2) Losing in the Sky.


Nah.  Close, though.

3 Sized up.

I’d like to see the blueprints for the Radisson Lackawanna Station.  It’s got to look like Q*Bert’s tower.


Some of the rooms could house a rugby tournament.  Others couldn’t fit more than three people at a time.  Crapshoot.


Score: 62


Had I been abducted by ghosts over the past few years, that score would have skyrocketed.

Offensive thoughts

If that headline doesn’t make you read this blog post, I’m not sure what will.  Through five games this season, the Syracuse Chiefs are the most prolific run-scoring team in the Triple-A International League.  They’ve scored 42 runs, seven more than second-place Pawtucket.

In addition:


*The Chiefs are outscoring all but two teams in the Pacific Coast League, the other Triple-A circuit which is known for its thin air, mountaintop ballparks and flying baseballs.  The IL scored 8657 runs in 2012, while the PCL plated 11,765 runs.  That’s 3108 more runs.

*The Chiefs are one of two International League teams hitting over .300 as a group.  Syracuse’s .320 average is second only to tonight’s opponent, Buffalo.  The Bisons have a hit in every three at-bats, .333.

*With nine home runs, the Chiefs are second in all of minor-league baseball.  The Stockton Ports of the Advanced-A California League have 12.  No other team has eight.

*Jeff Kobernus, the Chiefs’ two-hole hitter, has a batting average of .579, fifth-best in all of the minors.

*Jimmy Van Ostrand, who hit from the nine position last night, is tied for ninth in the minors with a .538 average.

*Zach Walters, with four home runs in five games, is third in the minors with 20 total bases this season.


Yes, all of this is through just five games, but the Chiefs offense–in a 4-1 start–has been outstanding.


Catch tonight’s game at 6:05 on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network.





Spring Training 2013

Good afternoon from sunny Viera, Florida where the Nationals just finished one of their 16 big-league spring training home games.  Stephen Strasburg got the start and was fantastic for the first five innings.  He let up just one hit and struck out five before the Braves got to him in the sixth inning.  The Nats lost 7-2, but a few former Chiefs stood out.


*Tyler Moore blasted his first spring training home run of 2013 in the ninth inning off of compass-named reliever Aaron Northcraft.  When Moore–who hit nine homers in 29 games in Syracuse last year–made contact, the sizable crowd at Space Coast Stadium gasped.

*Corey Brown posted a single in his only at-bat.  That pushed his average to .237.  Got a chance to chat with Corey after the game.  You’ll be able to hear about Corey’s offseason (including his marriage) in our Inside Pitch podcast shortly.

*Bryce Harper went 1-for-3 to lower his spring average to .438.  In one of his at-bats, he showed bunt on the first pitch of the sequence.

Harper leads the Nats with 14 hits this spring in 32 at-bats.  Corey Brown, by the way, is getting a workout–he leads the Nats in ABs with 38.  Anthony Rendon (pronounced Ren-DOHNE) has the most homers on the team with three.  Rendon turns 23 in June and is a good bet to be in Syracuse sometime soon.

Kevin and I will be tweeting updates from @ChiefsRadio and @SyracuseChiefs throughout the week.  Tell us if there’s someone you want to hear about.



2012: A Chiefs Odyssey – Jason’s #2

If this were a countdown of the most pivotal or most important individual games in the 2012 year, I’d say you’ve got that Buffalo game one spot too low.  But, these are the most memorable games of 2012.  Which leads me to this cop out….

#2: June boon

When the Chiefs opened play on June 18th, they were five games south of .500 at 32-37.  The first-place Pawtucket Red Sox were in town to begin a four-game series.  A week-and-a-half later, the Chiefs had won on how many straight occasions, Principal Ed Rooney?

Nine times, indeed, sir.  Your Chiefs won nine straight games.  Pawtucket, Gwinnett and Durham were the victims.  And here are some of the curious things that happened over that time:

*In the first win, the Chiefs trailed 6-4 at the 7th-inning stretch.  Then, Pawtucket committed two errors and the Chiefs scored five runs in the 7th.  11-7 final.


*In the third win, the Chiefs scored two runs in both the 8th and 9th innings to send the game into extras, where they scored in the 11th against former buddy and Zynga rival Garrett Mock.  6-5 final.

*In the fifth win, the Chiefs scored twice in the 7th and 8th against Gwinnett.  6-2 final.

*In the eighth win, the Chiefs and Braves scored at least one run in each of the first five half-innings.  The score was 3-2 after one inning.  10-6 final.

*In the ninth win, the Chiefs and Bulls went to extras tied at 1.  They ended the 11th tied at 2.  Final score 3-2 in 12.

The odds of all of those things happening in one nine-game stretch are like the odds of a meteorite hitting Russia.


2012: A Chiefs Odyssey – Jason’s #3

Kev, I don’t know how you could even dream of leaving such pitching excellence off of the list….


#3 Lannimal Planet

….as Kevin said, the pitching for the Chiefs in August was just brilliant.  Duke was fantastic, yes.  The way the season careened and veered for John Lannan, though, is truly something to behold.  In Spring Training, Lannan–like so many Big 8 defenses against Nebraska–fell victim to the option.  Because he had not been sent down to the minors from the big league club in three separate years, Lannan was still a flexible player on the Nationals’ roster.  When the Nationals chose Ross Detwiler as their fifth starter at the beginning of the season and selected Craig Stammen for their bullpen, Lannan was the guy who was shipped to Syracuse.

A year before–in 2012–Lannan started 33 games for the Nationals and put together a mighty fine ERA of 3.30.  So, it seemed as though Lannan was a casualty of what economist-types call frictional unemployment.  That’s basically where an employee can’t find the job that’s right for his or her skill set.  Lannan was, as Major-League pitchers go, on the employment line.

Early in the season, being sent to Triple-A affected him.  He admitted as much.  His ERA through two months was 5.63.   With two weeks left in his season, Lannan’s ERA was 4.89.  Syracuse was en route to the South for quite a late road trip.  Lannan, it was speculated, was headed to the big leagues, to replace Stephen Strasburg.  If you haven’t heard, Strasburg didn’t pitch after September 7th.  Also, M*A*S*H is not still in production, all the triceratops are dead and the iron age has finished.

Lannan was, essentially, playing out the string.  He didn’t pitch like it.   Lannan, as Kevin mentioned in passing, threw 18 innings, gave up 11 hits, struck out 12 and walked just one.  He tossed two complete-game shutouts en route to Washington.

And now, he;s a Philadelphia Phillie.  Good luck to John in finding his way back to the majors for, he hopes, the full season.

2012: A Chiefs Odyssey – Jason’s #4

Bryce Harper not in the top three?  What is wrong with us?  What could possibly be more interesting than a near-teenager who electrified the Major Leagues?


4. My Oh Maya

Yunesky Maya originally signed with the Nationals in 2010 for eight million dollars over four seasons.  Because he was a Cuban defector, the amount of video on Maya wasn’t plentiful.  Maya was such an enigma that there was extensive debate abut whether or not his name was spelled with an i.  Some sources referred to him as Yuneski Maya.  We quickly learned to spell his name with a y, but we’ve recently uncovered this long-ago-buried list of other rejected spellings which turned out to be relatives of his:

UNESCO Maya (His philanthropic brother-in-law)

Yuneskey Maya (His locksmith stepfather)

Yunesky Mayan (His South American cousin)

Soon-Yinesky Maya (His half-sister who married Woody Allen)

As you can see, it was quite difficult to determine exactly which person we were dealing with.  And even when we figured out who he was, we didn’t exactly know what he was.  Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker told us that Maya had at least 12 pitches.  He threw a typical fastball, curveball, slider and changeup, but threw each from varying arm angles, leading to more variety than your typical Laugh-In episode.LI

That grab bag of pitches was a negative at times, though, for Maya.  Scouts felt that he didn’t rely enough on his fastball and threw too much “junk.”  So, Booker made an effort this year to change that tendency.  It clicked, it seemed, on a July night in Rochester.

The first 20 batters in the game for Rochester didn’t reach base.  That means Maya went six innings and two-thirds without allowing a baserunner.  He only threw to a third ball in the count twice in 20 batters.  With two out, Chris Parmelee came to the plate.

Even though Parmelee homered, Maya finished eight innings and got the Chiefs the win.    It was part of a five-game win streak for Maya.

2012: A Chiefs Odyssey–Jason’s #5

I’ve spent the last five days imagining auto-tuned Yunesky Maya.  I stopped laughing about an hour ago.


5. Guess it’s just the Bison in you that brings out the man in me

A list:

*Jackie Robinson


*Gertrude Ederle

*Jodie Dallas


In order, those are the first: African-American in the major-leagues, state, woman to swim the English Channel, openly gay character on television and element on the Periodic Table of the Elements.  Some are memorable to everyone, some are memorable to none and some sit somewhere in the middle.  It’s hard to know what’s going to resonate.  And, it’s tough to judge when the thing that’s going to resonate is going to happen.

On April 21st at Alliance Bank Stadium, nothing happened.  Except weather you wouldn’t leave your mother-in-law out in.  So, the Chiefs and Buffalo Bisons played a doubleheader on the 22nd.   In the 4th inning of game one, 20-year-old Bryce Harper came to the plate with a zero in his home run column in Triple-A.

It was the only homer Harper hit in his 21 games in Syracuse before a record-breaking rookie season in Washington.


2012: A Chiefs Odyssey–Jason’s #6

After that last post, KB, I’m wondering why we never photoshopped Jim Negrych’s head onto the grinch’s body.  Would have been a worthwhile endeavor.  Maybe if he’s in Buffalo this year–he signed with the Jays–we can get it done.

6: Long Night, Impossible Odds

Some stats folks have developed a device called “Win Expectancy” for baseball teams.  To use one of these calculators, a person simply has to input the game situation at any time and the algorithm spits out the percent chance that each team will win.

On July 5th, the Chiefs had been home for a full day since losing four games–all by one run–in Norfolk.  Syracuse beat Buffalo on Independence Day to stop the losing streak.  The following night, Buffalo surged out to a 7-0 lead after the top of the 3rd.  At that point, according to “Win Expectancy”, the chances of each team taking the game were as follows:

Buffalo: 98.14%

Syracuse: 1.86%

Only Lloyd Christmas would look at that split and think, “So you’re saying’ there’s a chance…”  But, strange things began to happen:

*Back-to-back 3rd-inning sacrifice flies from Corey Brown and Jarrett Hoffpauir (7-2)

*A 4th-inning grand slam from Jesus Valdez (7-6)

*A two-out, 5th-inning solo home run from Carlos Maldonado (7-7)

At that point, the Win Expectancy calculator says this:

Buffalo: 48.8%

Syracuse: 51.2%

In the 7th, each team scored a run, leaving us at 8-8 in the 8th.  In the bottom of the eighth, Erik Komatsu led off with a single, leaving the Win Expectancies here:

Buffalo: 34.87%

Syracuse: 65.13%

This Win Expectancy doohicky is neat, but it can’t take everything into account.  You have to believe that the Chiefs’ batter in this situation, Corey Brown and his then-19 home runs in 81 games, would have tilted the numbers more dramatically in Syracuse’s favor.  But, Brown popped out attempting to bunt.  Then, Erik Komatsu was caught stealing and the Chiefs didn’t score.  Off to extras.

In the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th, the Chiefs put the leadoff man on first.  In the 13th, that left the Win Expectancy for that game at:

Buffalo: 32.21%

Syracuse: 67.79%

Problem was, the four results after the leadoff men reached were:  flyout, double play, strikeout and popout.  In the 13th, Corey Brown was ejected arguing balls and strikes.  In the top of the 14th, a Matt Tuiasosopo single scored Brad Emaus and Buffalo took the lead for good 9-8.  Win Expectancy:

Buffalo:  100%

Syracuse:  0%

That left the Chiefs 44-44, the last time they were at .500 in 2012.

2012: A Chiefs Odyssey–Jason’s #7

That was a crazy night in Rochester, there.  What’s really interesting is that as the season progressed, what Jason Michaels and Mark Teahen did that night seemed more outlandish.  By the way, if you all are interested in Mark Teahen and his home run progress next year, you can follow him on Twitter @ESPY_TEAHEN.


Jason’s #7–Eury-ka!

They call the middle of baseball season the “Dog Days of Summer.”  First, have you ever wondered who “they” are?  Do “they” just sit in a room and turn phrases?  And are there books in the room “they” sit in?  Do “they” get paid?

Second, why “dog days”?  According to some cursory research, our ancestors felt hot weather when Srius, the “dog star”, was high in the sky.  Those folks labeled Sirius the “dog star” because it was the brightest star in the constellation “Canis Major.”

Now that we’ve cleared that up, on July 20th of this past year, the Chiefs opened play eight games under .500.  They were joined that day by a 22-year-old named Eury Perez.  The only YERR-ee I’d ever run into was Mr. Geller, of spoon-bending fame.

This Eury was the real genuine article, we found out.   In his first game, he did this:

All told, Eury Perez had at least one hit in his initial 19 games as a Syracuse Chief.  That 19-game string was just three off the longest of the season from any IL player.


2012: A Chiefs Odyssey–Jason’s #8

Jason’s #8–Expo on the Hill

Some events are best remembered from first-person accounts.  The fight between Koyie Hill and Luis Exposito when Norfolk was in town is one of those events.

Both players were ejected.  The “brawl” was truly entertaining.  Hill and Exposito fought.  Norfolk manager Ron Johnson held court.  He and Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker had a cordial, laughter-filled conversation right next to the “brawl.”

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