Welcome back to “2013: A Chiefs Odyssey” – a countdown of our 12 most memorable moments of Syracuse’s 2013 season. Today’s selection, strangely enough, has nothing to do with what happened on the field…unless you count the falling of rain drops onto the thick white tarp.
#11: Prayers Answered
The 1948 Boston Braves featured a terrific one-two punch at the top of their rotation – Hall of Famer Warren Spahn (15-12, 3.71 ERA) and league wins leader Johnny Sain (24-15, 2.60). They’re not much known for those particular numbers, though – they’re known in baseball lore by a famous poem, written by Boston Post sports editor Gerald V. Hern:
First we’ll use Spahn
then we’ll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
by two days of rain.
The poem (which, by the way, completely neglected the contributions of Bill Voiselle [13-13, 3.63] and Vern Bickford [11-5, 3.27]) has been condensed throughout the ages to “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain”, which is the format in which most of us have heard it. And if you’re a believer in delayed gratification, those prayers from 1948 Boston Braves fans were answered in the 2013 International League. And the 2013 Syracuse Chiefs may not consider themselves fans of delayed gratification.
As detailed on Thursday, the Chiefs’ bats raced out to a scorching start with an 11-2 win at Lehigh Valley. And the high scores kept piling in. 11-0. 8-6. 8-1. 8-2 (in five innings). Syracuse was pacing the International League – and just about all of baseball – with a whopping 50 runs in its first six games of the season – an average of more than eight runs per contest. The Chiefs’ offense was white-hot, a fire seemingly too voluminous to contain for any I.L. pitcher.
And then the rains came.
Tuesday, April 9th – rain-shortened after five innings. Wednesday, April 10th – rained out at Buffalo. Thursday, April 11th – a scheduled off day (it rained anyway). Friday, April 12th – rained out vs. Lehigh Valley.
By the time the Chiefs got back on the field – Saturday, April 13th, vs. Lehigh Valley – they hadn’t stood in against live pitching in just over 90 hours. They were promptly shut out by the IronPigs, scored three runs or fewer in five consecutive games and went just 4-18 over the 22 games immediately following the three-and-a-half days off.
Is it too much of a drastic leap to associate the Chiefs’ failure to score runs with the rain? Perhaps – after all, other I.L. North teams missed equal time thanks to the drab and gloomy weather. But it’s one of the great “what if” moments in a season with “what ifs” aplenty. In our final interview with Tony Beasley, Syracuse’s manager didn’t dismiss the possibility, noting the difficulty of staying fresh without live pitching. Would we be talking about the I.L.-champion Chiefs with a sunnier season? Probably not – but I can’t help but wonder how April would have ended up with a little more Spahn and Sain.
Weather permitting, we’ll have #10 on the countdown tomorrow. Until then, tell us your favorite moments in the comments below, or drop an email to email@example.com, and maybe they’ll pop up…
Greetings, Chiefs fans, and welcome to the Third Annual “(Insert Year Here): A Chiefs Odyssey” Offseason Series! (Please hold your applause until the end.) In this series, we’ll count down the 12 most memorable moments from last year’s Chiefs campaign, as selected by our committee of one, with a new post every other weekday.
2013 was a little bit tricky compared to previous years, with only two moments jumping out off the top of my head…both of which you’ll find in the top two. A good chunk of the season has already blurred together in my mind, thanks to rainouts and extra-inning games and shutouts and whozits and whatzits galore. Our first game on the countdown, however, features precisely none of those things. Let’s begin…well, at the beginning…
#12: Eleventh Heaven
There were reasons to believe the Syracuse Chiefs could be a good offensive team in 2013. The Opening Day lineup featured five former major leaguers out of eight position players, a player claimed in the offseason’s Rule V Draft, the Chiefs’ offensive M.V.P. from 2012, two former first-round picks, an offseason World Baseball Classic champion and a pair of International League All-Stars from the previous season – with three former big-league hitters on the bench.
There were reasons to believe the Syracuse Chiefs would not be a good offensive team in 2013. The roster featured a plethora of free swingers, a cleanup hitter who missed the vast majority of 2012, a number-five hitter in his first season as a full-time position player, a number-two hitter in his Triple-A rookie campaign and a number-six hitter who struggled mightily in his only month with the team last year.
The offensive pendulum would swing in both directions throughout the course of the season, with the Chiefs ultimately finishing eighth in the 14-team International League in runs scored. After one week, though, the glass-half-full folks were sitting mighty pretty – not to mention after just one day.
The Chiefs’ 2013 season began at 7:08 PM on April 4th, with a first-pitch ball from reigning I.L. Pitcher of the Year Tyler Cloyd to Syracuse center fielder Eury Perez. The second pitch was lined into center field for a single, and the Chiefs didn’t stop hitting after that. Micah Owings drove in Perez with a first-inning single, Corey Brown doubled in Jeff Kobernus in the third, and two batters later, Owings displayed the rawest of raw power…
5-0 after 14 batters is a fun way to start the season. You know what else is fun? 6-0 after 15 batters.
In 2012, the Chiefs’ second home run didn’t come until the fifth game. In 2013, it came before game one’s fifth inning. The Chiefs would grab another five runs for an 11-2 Opening Day win, backed by six shutout innings from Ross Ohlendorf. That second-hitting rookie and struggling sixth-hitter, by the way? Those were Kobernus and Walters, arguably the Chiefs’ two best players last year – both of whom made their MLB debuts by season’s end. It’s good to see the glass half-full.
Monday, we’ll have #11 on the countdown. Until then, tell us your favorite moments in the comments below, or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe they’ll pop up…
It’s overcast with a chance of rain here in Syracuse – marking a significant jump up from yesterday’s weather, which was rain with a chance of only rain. The Chiefs and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees are set to duel today, and we’ve got you covered with more stuff…
– A look at the Nationals’ first pick in last night’s draft.
– A fascinating profile of the Mets’ move to Las Vegas.
– Has Julio Teheran’s near no-hitter finally heralded his arrival?
– Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz on what’s next for the series.
– The New York Times examines …Like Clockwork, the brilliant new record from Queens of the Stone Age.
– Today’s Song of The Day comes from California surf singer/songwriter Mikal Cronin. It’s called “Am I Wrong” – and it comes attached with some serious Beach Boys-esque harmonies. Take a listen…
We’re on the air tonight at 6:45 on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network as Ryan Tatusko takes on Vidal Nuno. See you there.
The Chiefs are looking to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of Pawtucket today at McCoy Stadium. They’ll do so with this starting lineup…
1. Eury Perez CF
2. Anthony Rendon 2B
3. Will Rhymes 3B
4. Corey Brown LF
5. Chris Marrero 1B
6. Mike Costanzo DH
7. Zach Walters SS
8. Kris Watts C
9. Chris Rahl RF
Danny Rosenbaum SP
Some news and notes…
1. Today’s Rendon’s third Syracuse game – and he’s started all three at second base, where he started just five times with Harrisburg.
2. Chris Marrero’s hitting fifth for just the second time this season. The other? April 9th at Buffalo.
3. Eury Perez is back in the leadoff spot after a leadoff home run – the first such homer of his career – in yesterday’s game.
4. Mike Costanzo gets the start at DH. He’s 8 for 45 (.178) as the DH this year, but does have two home runs.
5. Danny Rosenbaum’s won both of his starts after a loss this season, allowing one earned run in 14 innings combined over those games.
Chiefs and PawSox at 7:05 tonight. Hope you can join us on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network.
Happy Thursday from NBT Bank Stadium. The Chiefs are hoping to avoid a four-game sweep today against the Gwinnett Braves. They’ll do so with Ross Ohlendorf on the mound for the first time after tying a career high with 11 strikeouts.
– Here’s the game story from Ohlendorf’s last 11-K game…complete with some Albert Pujols heroics.
– Partially thanks to Jason Grilli, there are sharks in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ clubhouse. Seriously- And.
– Speaking of…are those Pirates finally for real? Really for real?
– A look at how Gus Johnson’s learning on the job for the 2018 World Cup.
– Today’s Song of the Day comes from one of my favorite albums of 2013 – the self-titled album from Jake Bugg, a 19-year-old British singer-songwriter. Here’s “Lightning Bolt”, which you may have heard in a Gatorade commercial…
– And today’s Chief of the Day gets awarded to Alex Rios! Some fun facts…
- Rios is off to a red-hot start with the White Sox, posting a .284/.344/.505 line in 51 games. He’s swatted 10 homers and stolen eight bases. He’s 16th in the American league in slugging percentage and 17th in WAR (according to ESPN).
- In 46 games with the 2004 Chiefs, he sported a .259/.292/.373 line – not great, but good enough to get him up to Toronto that season.
- He inspired this from Hawk Harrelson.
Chiefs and G-Braves at 7:00 tonight. See you there.
Live from the Hyatt in Columbus, it’s today’s edition of Stuff You’ll Like…the first of which, for my allergies’ sake, is hopefully Claritin.
– In case you missed it yesterday: our first episode of Where Have You Been?, starring guest contestant Brent Axe.
– A look at the night Ted Turner managed the Braves.
– Why the Astros and Marlins are chasing history.
– For SNL fans: a comprehensive list of guests at Stefon’s wedding.
– The story behind some classic Arrested Development gags.
– Song of the Day: British singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore’s acoustic take on “Bad Moon Rising”.
– And finally, today’s Chief of the Day is Kevin Brown!
No, not me.
And not that one either…
That’s the one! Kevin’s a former Chiefs catcher who played 141 games for Syracuse from 1998 to 2000. Some other fun facts…
- He played parts of seven seasons in the major leagues, from 1996 to 2002, with Texas, Toronto, Milwaukee and Boston.
- He ranked fifth on the 1999 SkyChiefs with 13 home runs. (Kevin Witt’s 24 led the team.)
- He’s the highest draft pick ever from the University of Southern Indiana, as a second-rounder from 1994. (Darin Mastroianni, currently on the Twins, was a 2007 16th-rounder.)
- He never actually faced pitcher Kevin Brown. That’s really sad.
Chiefs and Clippers at 7:15 tonight. See you there.
Good morning from the hot box known as the Toledo press box, where we are baking in anticipation of the Chiefs’ 10:30 game vs. the Mud Hens. Here’s a look at the lineup in today’s edition of Card Notes…
Chris Rahl RF
Jeff Kobernus LF
Will Rhymes 2B
Chris Marrero 1B
Corey Brown CF
Micah Owings DH
Mike Costanzo 3B
Brian Bocock SS
Brian Jeroloman C
1. Zach Walters gets a rare day off, having played in 41 of the Chiefs’ first 43 games. He’s replaced at shortstop by Brian Bocock.
2. Today’s the 575th professional game for Bocock at shortstop – and his first as a Chief. That’s 502 more games than at his second-most-frequent position, second base (73).
3. Corey Brown’s now played center field in all five games since his return from the Disabled List.
4. After Chris Rahl in the leadoff spot, the Chiefs alternate left-handed batters and right-handers for every other batter, from Jeff Kobernus on.
5. Mud Hens starter Shawn Hill’s been a teammate of three Chiefs in today’s lineup: Bocock (2012 Las Vegas, Toronto’s AAA team), Jeroloman (2010 Las Vegas), and, for a grand total of three starts, Chris Marrero (2007-08 Potomac Nationals).
We come to you today from Toledo’s Fifth Third Field, where the Chiefs begin an eight-game road trip against the Mud Hens and Clippers. Time for some late-afternoon Stuff You’ll Like, after a post-bus ride nap which I loved…
– The Crunch continues its record-setting run through the postseason.
– Pawtucket stayed in a North Division tie for first place with a walkoff last night.
– So did the Pirates, over the Astros…in, shall we say, slightly bizarre fashion?
– A new teaser trailer for Anchorman: The Legend Continues.
– Get your musical fix with 20 of Billy Joel’s greatest underrated songs.
– In honor of Billy, today’s Song of the Day…”Summer, Highland Falls” off of 1976’s Turnstiles. Maybe his best song, definitely his best album.
– And finally, today’s Chief of the Day goes to Jason Phillips! Some fun Phillips facts:
- He’s been the Mariners’ bullpen catcher since 2009.
- He met his future wife during a game while in the bullpen. Seriously, read this story immediately if you haven’t already.
- He played on the 2008 Camden Riversharks with the great Jose Lima.
Catch the Chiefs and Mud Hens tonight at 7:00 on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network. We’re on the air with our Clubhouse Show at 6:45.
Chiefs/Clippers, series finale, 7:00 tonight. The Syracuse starting 10:
Some notes of, well, note:
1. Brian Bocock’s the #9 hitter today in his Syracuse debut. He’s a former San Francisco Giant (2008) and Philadelphia Phillie (2010).
2. Two Chiefs are working on hitting streaks of a week or more: leadoff hitter Chris Rahl (nine games) and cleanup hitter Chris Marrero (seven).
3. Jeff Kobernus bats second for the 36th time this season. That’s the most of any Chiefs player in one position. (Marrero’s second with 35 games in the cleanup spot.)
4. Carlos Rivero’s starting at first base for the first time this season.
5. Kris Watts has been a Chief for eight games. He’s started seven of them.
Hope you can join us tonight at 6:45 on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network or out at NBT Bank Stadium before the Chiefs hit the road for eight games.
Good afternoon from gorgeously sunny NBT Bank Stadium, where the Chiefs and Clippers are ready to play the fourth of a four-game set. Syracuse and Columbus are going to play five more times in the next 10 days, so it might be a good idea to get to know the Clippers a little bit with our latest edition of Triple-A Trickledown…
Catcher: Omir Santos, Chris Wallace
There’s good catching depth here with Santos, a 32-year-old veteran of 122 major league games, who’s on the Indians’ 40 man-roster, and Wallace, a 25-year-old acquired from Houston, who’s a .275 career hitter in four minor league seasons. Cleveland, however, is in terrific shape up in the major leagues. Behind Carlos Santana, who might be the best hitter in the American League so far this season, there’s 25-year-old catcher Yan Gomes, an intriguing prospect with six extra-base hits in 15 games. Veteran backstop Lou Marson’s also on the Disabled List with a sore right shoulder.
First Base: Matt LaPorta
LaPorta, the seventh overall pick back in 2007, is with Columbus for at last part of the season for the fifth straight year. He’s got a career .900 OPS in 225 Triple-A games, but he’s scuffled a bit with Cleveland. LaPorta’s posted just a .238 average and .694 OPS in his 291-game Indians career, and he was removed from the 40-man roster this offseason. Since no team claimed LaPorta, he’s back to terrorize the drawn-in fences at Columbus’ Huntington Park.
Second Base: Matt Lawson, Cord Phelps
Phelps, who went 0 for 8 with Cleveland this year, has gotten off to a rough start with Columbus this season. He’s hit just .229 in 25 games with 11 walks to 26 strikeouts. Phelps is a 40-man roster member, but he’s only 18 for 112 in his major league career. Lawson’s a 27-year-old career minor leaguer in his first-ever Triple-A season. Meanwhile, former Clippers standout Jason Kipnis has sported a .775 OPS in 31 games with Cleveland while batting largely out of the #2 spot.
Shortstop: Juan Diaz
Diaz, a 24-year-old switch-hitter, made his major league debut with five Cleveland games last season. He’s started slow in 2013, though, batting .209 in 36 Clippers games with 40 strikeouts to seven walks. The Indians, meanwhile, are in solid shape with Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Aviles at shortstop. Diaz is a bit stuck – he’s not currently a good enough offensive player to work his way onto the major-league roster, and he’s never played a game outside of shortstop in his professional career.
Third Base: Adam Abraham, Lonnie Chisenhall, Ryan Rohlinger
Chisenhall is the big name here, a 24-year-old former first-round pick who sported just a .213/.253/.351 line in 26 games with Cleveland. He was sent down just in time for the start of this four-game series, and he’ll likely be back up at some point this season if he works out some swing issues. The Indians, though, are in fine shape right now with Mark Reynolds and his 11 home runs manning the hot corner. Abraham, a 26-year-old, and Rohlinger, a 30-year-old former major leaguer, provide infield depth.
Outfield: Ezequiel Carrera, Matt Carson, Tim Fedroff, Jeremy Hermida, Cedric Hunter
Carrera’s had a roller coaster ride to begin the season. He was claimed by the Phillies from Cleveland off of waivers and went for 1 in 13 in 13 games up in the big leagues. Philadelphia then designated Carrera for assignment, and the Indians scooped him back up – before later designating him for assignment again. So Carrera’s here in Columbus, but he’s no longer on the Tribe’s 40 man-roster. The only 40-man member in this group, strangely enough, is Fedroff – though he’s the only one of the five outfielders here not to appear in a single major-league game. Fedroff’s a 26-year-old who sported a .325/.393/.517 line in 69 games with Columbus last year. He’s on his way back there thanks to a .365 average to date in May. Fedroff could find his way in the majors with an injury to one of the Indians’ four outfielders – Ryan Raburn, Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs, all of whom are off to solid starts.
Hermida, who’s been a major leaguer for at least some portion of the last eight years, leads the Clippers in most offensive categories at the moment. He’s joined by Hunter, a 24-year-old former top prospect in the Padres’ organization, and Carson, a 31-year-old who got some time last year up in Minnesota.
Starting Pitchers: Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, T.J. House, Joe Martinez, Toru Murata, Danny Salazar
Top prospect Bauer isn’t on the Clippers’ roster that’s in front of me right now, but he’s not on the Indians’ active roster right now, either, and he was only called up for a spot start. So, you figure it out. Bauer could certainly find his way to a regular rotation spot soon enough, considering three-fifths of the Indians’ rotation sports an ERA north of 5.00 (Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber).
The rest of the rotation spells good fortune for the Indians’ future, with a pair of 23-year-olds in House and Salazar and a 26-year-old in Carrasco, all of whom are on the Indians’ 40-man roster. Martinez, a 30-year-old journeyman in his second tour of duty with the tribe, and Murata, a 27-year-old in his third season with the Indians’ minor leagues, round out the group.
Relief Pitchers: Scott Barnes, Jerry Gil, Preston Guilmet, Matt Langwell, Fernando Nieve, Giovanni Soto
Barnes, the lone 40-man member of the group, is a left-handed former starter with a 7.50 ERA in 10 games this season – far and away the worst ERA in a top-to-bottom strong bullpen. Closer Guilmet’s been a stalwart, with a 2.95 ERA and 13-for-14 save success rate in his first Triple-A year. Former big leaguer Nieve has a 0.99 ERA in 10 games, with a crazy 31-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Those two might be the first right-handers up if needed. In the majors, though, Cleveland’s well-stocked with right-handers, with Matt Albers’ 4.38 ERA the worst right-handed mark. Left-hander Nick Hagadone sports a 7.20 mark to bring up the rear for southpaws, so a good season from the 22-year-old Soto could find him knocking on Cleveland’s door.
The Chiefs and Clippers take the field tonight at 7:00. Our clubhouse show starts at 6:45 on the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Network. See you there.