Hope all of you out there had a brilliant holiday week. The question is, which week is truly the “holiday week.” Is it the one during which Chanukah starts? And how do we decide whether or not Chanukah has a C? And when does it get an extra k? I’ve asked around and simply can’t figure it.
Jason’s #9–Adventures in RadioLand
When you tune in to a Chiefs game on your radio, smart phone, iPad or computer, you hear anything ranging from one single pitch to a full game. And Kevin and I appreciate whatever you’re dropping in for. We, however, see it all (or a good chunk of it, as the case may be (due to travel, weddings, conflicts or safaris to South Sudan). Last season, from the Chiefs broadcast booth, we witnessed:
*224 home runs
*223 double plays
*74 sacrifice flies
This is the part of the blog where I’d normally include a clip of Chuck Barris on The Gong Show saying, “We’ll be back with more stuff.” But, there’s no Gong Show clip which is appropriate for even most audiences (in the one I’m watching right now, Chuck says, “But what do I know, I thought Idi Amin was a zany guy” and “…so far they’re a big hit with winos and some forms of plankton.”).
Along with the loads of baseball things and other oddities we see, sometimes things go, let’s say, haywire in the radio booth. Frankly, any time one’s major habitat is labeled a “booth”, any number of cooky things may happen. So, as we wait for 2013, here are a few of my favorite moments of the 2012 season in Chiefs audio.
*There are typically no calls to action in these blog entries. This time, we ask that you vote, either in the comments section or on Twitter @SyracuseChiefs for the one you like most.
A) Unpleasant Valle Friday
On August the 10th, the Chiefs were playing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in game one of two. One of the novelties of the series was Phillies’ young-gun catcher Sebastian Valle’s ascent from Double-A. We were excited to see what he could do close-up…
B) A Weekend in the Hampsons
Sometimes, when players just seem like they fit in a certain situation, we say they pass the “eye test.” But, what happens when the eye test fails?
C) Puppet Masters
In our postgame show, we enjoy providing you memorable highlights from the game that just concluded. We trust that this one will roll around your mind for a while…
Vote away. Happy New Year.
9. No One Man Should Lose All That Power
The 2012 Syracuse Chiefs had a few games postponed because of rain this season. No surprise. The Chiefs also lost a game to snow in Rochester – not a shock for an April day in Western New York. And Syracuse even had a game postponed due to cold weather, which sounds outrageous but, again, shouldn’t come as a stunning result. But on July 13, the Chiefs set a new bizarre standard for postponements.
It’s not all that uncommon to hear the words “power outage” in baseball. They’re just a pair of words that typically correspond with a lack of team offense, or an individual’s lack of home runs. Much like a pitcher’s “cheese” isn’t literally a dairy product or a “moon shot” doesn’t actually leave the planet, a baseball “power outage” doesn’t literally refer to the loss of electricity. Except, you know, when it actually does. Like on July 13.
At around 5:40, before a 7:00 game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (now RailRiders), former Chief Matt Antonelli was taking batting practice on a day where the high temperature reached 93 degrees. I was sitting in the radio press box, watching from overhead as Antonelli drilled one ball into left-center field – and suddenly, the music stopped. The video board beyond the outfield shut off as well. The Yankees turned around and started jeering at the press box, asking for someone to turn the music back on, and there was nothing anyone could do. A rolling series of power outages on the North Side of Syracuse had hit Alliance Bank Stadium, and the entire park had gone black.
The day proved to be a tricky scenario for us in the front office, since a large crowd was expected for Donate Life Night. And that crowd showed up, with nothing to do but mill about outside the stadium…
The game was also a television broadcast, with Time Warner Cable’s crew on hand. In fact, one of the crew members ended up getting stuck in an elevator when the power went down, and the fire department needed to come and rescue her. There have been better days to be claustrophobic than July 13.
The players and coaches sat in dark clubhouses and hallways, playing cards by whatever light they could find. Tanner Roark, the day’s scheduled starter, set up a table outside the clubhouse and wondered aloud why every one of his starts seemed to get pushed back for some reason or another. Had Tanner been scheduled to start today, perhaps we would have actually encountered the apocalypse.
Ultimately, the decision to postpone the game was made around 7:00, with no end to the power outage in sight. It was the right decision after a thoughtful process…and, of course, 15 minutes later, the power returned.
It feels odd to include a countdown moment that wasn’t actually a game, but July 13 was just too memorable to leave off this list, JB. Do all of your 12 memorable moments contain the proper amount of electricity?
That Pawtucket comeback was fun. We should have Garrett create an app for it.
Jason’s #10–T.M. is On My Side
And on that comeback app–patent pending–we could include a young man whose “see ball, hit ball” approach worked out better for his fans than it did for the idleness of the baseball. 25-year-old Triple-A rookie Tyler Moore came to Syracuse from Brandon, Mississippi, which bills itself as a “city of growth and stability.” If that is true, Brandon will assuredly grow from 21.3 square miles and stabilize its population around 16 thousand.
On April 29th–after hitting seven home runs in 23 games with the Chiefs–the kid from Mississippi made his Major-League debut in Los Angeles, a city of 503 square miles and 3.8 million people. He made his Hollywood premiere significantly better than that of Waterworld by going 1-for-3.
The Nationals, though, were cruising along in the first two months of the season like they were the opposite of the Achille Lauro. So, Tyler Moore played in just 12 games before May was out. On the first of June, Moore was shipped back to the Chiefs by way of Indianapolis, where the team was concluding an eight-game road trip. It took a very short time to learn that the country boy hadn’t been corrupted by the big city.
Moore’s 2-for-5 night helped catapult the Chiefs to a 7-5 win. That ended up as the only victory for the Chiefs in that series.
The following night, Moore tormented Indy pitching again, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles against the Indians. It was clear that Tyler Moore was not going to be around the minor-leagues for any significant length of time. And he wasn’t. After that 5-for-9 return, Moore suited up in just four more games for the Chiefs.
That didn’t mean that he was forgotten in Syracuse, though. He and his two roommates–Corey Brown and Seth Bynum–made a pact at the beginning of the season that the person of the three who got called up first would pay the remainder of the rent for the season. Smart businessmen, Seth and Corey.
10. In A Central New York Minute…
In the middle of June, it didn’t seem like 2012 was going to be the year of the Chiefs. At 32-37 and losers of five out of six, Syracuse was floundering with the league-leading Pawtucket Red Sox coming to town. The Chiefs were probably anticipating that visit about as much as the Griswolds anticipated seeing Uncle Eddie in the Vacation series.
You see, the first time the PawSox came to town didn’t go so well for the Chiefs. The Rhode Islanders visited Alliance Bank Stadium from April 16-19, claiming a four-game sweep in excruciating fashion with a trio of late-game wins and one 11-7 slugfest mixed in. But as the ever-calm Tony Beasley and the Chiefs’ staff knew well, everything can change at a moment’s notice in baseball. And June 18 was the start of everything.
On that Monday evening, the Chiefs used a five-run seventh inning to launch an 11-7 series-opening victory. The next night, Zach Duke squeezed out six innings of three-run ball despite 12 baserunners and no strikeouts, leading Syracuse to a 4-3 win. But Wednesday would prove to be the crowning achievement of the series – and one of the team’s finest wins of the season.
There are some people looking ahead to the End of Days at the end of this week. (By the way, I’ll bet anyone $1 million that the world doesn’t end before Christmas. Just shoot me an email and we’ll work out the details.) But on June 20, the End of Days stood on the pitcher’s mound at Alliance Bank Stadium, ready to mow down the Chiefs once more – right-hander Justin Germano. You remember him, right? You know – the guy who did THIS last year?
Germano had already faced the Chiefs once early in the season, tossing seven shutout innings while allowing a mere three singles. And he’d thrown more than 20 consecutive scoreless innings against Syracuse heading into the night’s third inning – when newly signed catcher Koyie Hill took him deep for a solo home run. That wasn’t a sign of things to come, though, as Pawtucket took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning.
But Germano had to leave at some point, and the end of the seventh inning was his exit. Not coincidentally, the Chiefs’ bats soon sprung to life. With two runners on in the eighth inning, Corey Brown stepped up against Junichi Tazawa…
Syracuse would score no more in the frame, however, with Daniel Bard closing out the inning on a Mark Teahen fly out.
The Sox got another run in the top of the ninth, giving them a seemingly impenetrable 5-3 advantage with three outs to get. But a word on Bard, in case you’re not familiar with him: he’s the flame-throwing uber-prospect who shot through the Boston system a few years ago, only to lose any semblance of control this year when the Red Sox attempted to turn him back into a starter. His season fully came apart at the seams on June 3rd, when Bard gave up five runs in 1.2 innings against the Blue Jays…on a grand total of one hit. (He walked six batters and hit two others in the game.)
So Bard was shipped down to Pawtucket and returned to the bullpen, where he attempted to close out the Chiefs on this Wednesday night. But he allowed a pair of hits to start the inning – a Chris Marrero double and Xavier Paul single – before tossing a wild pitch to score Marrero. 5-4. The right-hander, however, would flip the switch right after that. He retired Carlos Rivero on a fly out and Koyie Hill on a groundout before going to two strikes on Jim Negrych, move along, nothing more to see here…and then, one pitch away from a win…this happened.
Down three runs with four outs to go, two runs with three outs to go and one run with one strike to go, the Chiefs had clawed their way back. The final obstacle? Former Syracuse hurler and aspiring app-creator Garrett Mock, he of the Bard-esque ultra-live arm and Bard-esque ultra-spotty control. Mock loaded the bases with one out in the 10th inning – but, in Mock-esque fashion, he struck out Seth Bynum and flied out Xavier Paul for a head-scratching exit.
One inning later, the Chiefs had finally had enough. With runners on first and third and one out, third baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir had a chance to be the hero.
The Chiefs had stolen a game they had no business winning, 6-5, and truly ignited a winning streak that wouldn’t end until six games later. Just like that.
(Postscript: Mitch Atkins was Syracuse’s starter in this game, just as he’s been in the other two games of my countdown so far. What the what?)
Wait, I mentioned “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”?
#11: Suspension of Belief
Today’s pick may be a bit of an oddball choice, since it involves a game where nothing of substance really happened. The game was a 3-0 Chiefs loss to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, that 2012 traveling road show of a team without a home park for the year. The game featured only 11 combined hits, 10 walks, 12 strikeouts and no home runs. On first glance, there’s nothing to see here. But on second glance, there’s everything to see. (Just like in the following video.)
Our story begins on an overcast, rainy April day in Syracuse – and yes, you should try exceedingly hard to visualize this, seeing as it never happens. How rainy was April 10? Rainy enough that after four innings, the game was called with the Yankees up 2-0. Not to worry – the homeless Scrantonians would return to Alliance Bank Stadium in three days, and the teams would surely pick it up then. Simple enough, right?
There was just one chink in that solution’s armor: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was the “home” team in the team’s next series since, again, the Yankees had no 2012 home. PNC Field underwent renovations during the course of the season, and the Baby Bombers were forced to play “home” games in Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Fargo, Allentown, Pawtucket, Batavia and Prague. (Two of those are made up. Batavia is not one of them.) The International League didn’t want to finish the suspended game – a Chiefs home game – on the same day as a Yankees home game, for logistical purposes. However, the next time the Chiefs would play Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a Syracuse home game was on July 12, the day after the All-Star Break.
So, almost three months to the start of this Syracuse/Scranton duel, the teams took the field for the top of the fifth inning with a pair of wildly different lineups. Consider the play-by-play below:
How different, exactly, was the Chiefs’ April lineup for their July one? Let’s go through April’s…
- Batting third: Xavier Paul. On July 12: A valuable bench member of the eventual NL Central-winning Cincinnati Reds.
- Batting fourth: Tyler Moore. On July 12: 31 games into his rookie season with Washington, never to return to Syracuse.
- Batting fifth: Bryce Harper. On July 12: Heh.
- Batting eighth: Jason Michaels. On July 12: A Syracuse coach. Just call him Bill Russell.
- Batting ninth: Chris McConnell. On July 12: Out of baseball, after being released from the Nationals’ Double-A team. We love you, Mac.
Three other starters (Corey Brown, Seth Bynum and Mark Teahen) switched positions, leaving only one starting position player in his original spot – catcher Carlos Maldonado. I might as well have thrown blotches of paint at my scorebook.
But the game’s MVP truly belonged to starting pitcher Mitch Atkins, who’s now appeared in the first two moments of my countdown. Coincidence? (Yes.) Atkins tossed the first four innings of the April game before Tony Beasley decided to send him back out to the hill. On 92 days’ rest, Atkins gamely accepted the assignment, and tossed a gem that Roy Halladay would have been proud of. He worked the full nine innings, scattering five hits and six walks to allow just three runs (one earned), while throwing a superhuman 151 pitches, 94 for strikes. That’s right – 151 pitches! After the game, Atkins was seen soaking his right arm in a bathtub filled with a mixture of herbal tea, whipped cream and unicorns. And that is moment #11 on this magical countdown.
Postscript: There may have been a chance that Atkins actually threw the 151 pitches over TWO separate days, leading to a mere statistical quirk. I can neither confirm nor deny this, however. I can also neither confirm nor deny the existence of unicorns.
“Beat that, Benetti.” Really? A challenge? Well there’s no better way to one-up a person than to do approximately what he did….and do it a little better.
And so, a comeback victory against Rochester it is. En garde, Brown.
#12: Tea for Four, and Four for J-Mike
One of the most entertaining aspects of a Triple-A baseball season is the release of the Opening Day roster. What prospects will be in Syracuse? What will the starting rotation be like? The question I always like to ask is, “What players who have had Major League careers?” It’s generally fun and informative to be around guys who have put on Major League uniforms. They’ve got happy memories, have learned from the best and are somewhat looser than players who have never tasted the bigs (and, thus, are a little more nervous about their legacies and where they currently stand).
This past season, two of the “previously writ large” names in Syracuse in April were Mark Teahen and Jason Michaels. Teahen was, if you ask him (and his tongue is remotely close to his cheek), was the inspiration behind Michael Lewis’ mega-hit, Moneyball. Michaels won a World Series with the Phillies. The one thing the Chiefs seemed to have was game-tested knowledge and leadership.
Congress has knowledge and leadership and is walking toward something comfortingly known as a “fiscall cliff.” This, I think, is happening because John Ratzenberger won the lottery.
With all of that veteran impetus, though, the Chiefs opened the season 4-13. In game 18, on a rather temperate Wednesday evening in Rochester, the Chiefs went down 4-0 in the fourth inning. After two walks and a single, Mark Teahen came to the plate and did what he had done a career-high 18 times with the Royals in 2006:
It was a big one. Teahen’s grand slam tied the game. Rochester came back to score in the home half of the seventh, though. So, the game entered the eighth with the Chiefs down a run. Against new reliever Tyler Robertson, Teahen walked. Tyler Moore singled through the left side of the infield. Bryce Harper, then, attempted to give an out with a sacrifice bunt, but Rochester wouldn’t let him. Third baseman Michael Hollimon didn’t handle the bunt cleanly and everyone reached safely. Michaels was next:
Two slams. Five innings. And a 10-5 win over the Red Wings. Michaels only played 20 more games after that one in his career. He retired to become a coach in June.
The Chiefs won 11 of the 16 games last season with Rochester…..and there may be one more of those games on my list. Along with your kiss.
P.S. Kevin: That you mentioned “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” without including Comedy Tonight might be the most depressing thing that’s happened to me since Hi-C stopped making Ecto Cooler.
Before you know it, it’ll be baseball season again in Syracuse…in fact, we’re just four months and a few weeks away from Opening Day 2013. Yes, that sounds like a long period of time, but once this whole Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus thing gets finished, it’ll zip right by.
But we’re not past looking back to last season, and that’s why Jason and I are getting ready for our second annual list of last year’s Top 12 memorable Chiefs moments. Last year’s list starts right here – and you can access all entries under the “Inside The Chiefs Blog Archive” drop-down menu on the right side of your screen.
This season’s list might be a little trickier to compile than last season’s, since nobody threw a perfect game or hit four home runs in one game in 2011. But 2012 still featured dramatic moments all around in its 144-game span, and we’d like you to help us pick them out. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with your thoughts.
We’ll be starting the segment up within the next week. Until then, we look forward to hearing from you.