Archive for the ‘ Stories From Above ’ Category

Stories From Above–Kissimmee edition

Remember those commercials from the early ’90s that tried to coerce you to stay outside of Disney World if you went?  The ones with the targets that illustrated how close Kissimmee/St. Cloud is to Orlando.  I didn’t see a Magic Kingdom nearby.  Lots of pawn shops, roadside motels and IHOPs, though.

The Nationals were the visitors of the Astros today at Osceola County Stadium.  And, well, they led.  Big.  5-1 in the sixth.  And lost 8-7.

Good news:

1) Matt Chico allowed five earned runs in one inning.  The rest of the staff (Olsen, Storen, Capps, Atilano and Burnett) surrendered two runs in seven innings and a third.

2) Justin Maxwell made a heck of a diving catch in right field with the bases loaded in the fifth against Geoff Blum.

3) Drew Storen threw six strikes in his first six pitches.  Looks smooth, folks.  Plus, he’s a really engaging guy.

Bad news:

1) Scott Olsen got one groundout in seven batters faced.  The first two hitters of the game–Jason Burgeois and ex-Tide/Bat Jeff Keppinger–tripled and doubled, respectively.  Burgeois could have made his an in-the-park home run.

2) On the sixth pitch from Storen, Pedro Feliz floated a ball down the first base line.  Chris Duncan was mystified by the 30 mph wind and ended the play on his backside.  It was one of three trips to the deck for Duncan at first today.

3) The bullpen isn’t exactly a SuperMax prison.  Each reliever walked a batter.

So, the Nats have won as many games as you and me.  What that likely means for Syracuse:  A lot of guys on the roster who have legitimate Major-League experience.

Other news:

-Ran into Ian Desmond postgame.  He got married this offseason.  It’s a pandemic.  Everyone’s doing it.  Congrats to Ian.

-Roger Clemens’ son Koby played first base for the Astros today starting in the 8th.  Koby was in Salem with me in 2008.  He’s a brave young man who was willing to talk to all comers that season, a really rough one for his family.

-A little girl sitting four rows behind me took quite a fall mid-game.  A man a few seats down offered to get her some ice.  Very kind.  When he returned, the man told the girl’s father a story about another child he saw fall at a game once.  Very odd.

-Dear Denny’s waitress, A blueberry pancake puppy does not sound appetizing.  It sounds rabid.  Signed, Jason.

Oh, by the way, President George H.W. Bush was here.  Talk about burying the lead, huh?  Secret service agents were all over the third base seats.

26 days until the opener.


Stories From Above–empty the notebook edition

Hardest working guy in show business:


 Again, a rainout.  Nats and Yankees won’t be made up. 

I just finished lunch at a nice little Italian place here in Viera as a prelude to whatever adventure this afternoon had in store.  I asked the waitress, “If you had a day off in Viera, what would you do?”  She replied, “Go shopping.”  I then asked if there was anything historic to be seen.  She said “Downtown Melbourne.  It’s not really historic, but it’s better than Viera.” 

So, this post has no charm.  No pre-Modern American flair.  It does, however, give me the opportunity to discuss a number of things that have been stewing within me for days (if not hours).  Off we go:

*Ran into Mike Daniel, one of the late, late callups to Syracuse last season, this morning.  He’s still excited about the Saints Super Bowl win.  He also finished his degree at UNC this offseason.  Really good kid….and someone to keep your eye on to be outfitted for a Chiefs jersey soon.

*Driving to Orlando Wednesday was treacherous.  I was moving along at 75-77 in a 70 zone (please don’t call the fuzz on me) and people were zooming by me like they were jet-propelled.  I have seen 0 state troopers on the highways. 

*Total Eclipse of the Heart came on the radio Wednesday night, reminding me of this Big 12 YouTube debacle.

*Restaurants should be required to play music that goes along with their menus.  I ate chicken parm this afternoon while Kelly Clarkson made sure I knew she was already gone.  You serve Italian, you play Italian.  This rule will ensure that nobody will ever open an Owl City Cafe.

*I met a criminal Monday morning.  I was in line for security at the Charlotte airport.  The man in front of me was yapping loudly on his little Bluetooth headset.  Then, his conversation ended and the guy behind me picks up.  Here’s the one-sided conversation:

“Yeah, I’m in line at airport security.”
“I was in bed, already three hours asleep.”
“That’s ridiculous.”
“Why would I do that?”
“I’m happy with the way things have turned out.”
“I was already asleep, that’s ridiculous.”
“Well, I bet the office isn’t in a good mood this morning.”
“What?  If I wanted to get into Betsy’s house, I would have knocked on the door.”
“That’s crazy.  Why would I want to do that?”
“This is one of the strangest phone calls I’ve ever gotten.”
“Yeah, I’ll talk to you later.”

Far as I can tell, this guy was being accused of breaking into Betsy’s house. 

Here’s my problem with his alibi.  When the phone call ended, he did nothing except complain to me about how long security was taking.  If I were erroneously accused of unlawfully entry at my ex’s house, I’d have called a friend immediately to talk about how ridiculous the accusation actually was.  Nope.  This guy just stood there…..and got agitated with the security line.   Sadly, only I–and you, dear reader–know that this guy’s airtight alibi might have some gaps.  Tough day for Betsy.

Off to Kissimmee tomorrow to see the ‘stros and Nats.  If we don’t get another few feet of rain, that is.


Stories From Above–Early Warning Doppler edition

Tom Terry, WFTV-9’s chief meteorologist, has spent the last 20 minutes flaunting his new tools.  Evidently, Channel 9–the ABC affiliate in Central Florida, just spent wheelbarrows of money on new weather radar.  And today, it’s all paid off.  Tom and his buddy Brian have been on television since I got back to the hotel room talking about this massive storm to our north.  As I was just writing this last sentence, Tom clicked a button and dragged a cone-shaped thing across the radar to the southeast to signify the path of the storm.  Tom is very worried about the children in Longwood, Florida.  He just advised parents there to pick their children up from the bus stop.  I call Tom by his first name because I think we know quite a bit about each other, now.

Tom, by the way, just told me than Channel 9 has teamed up with the National Severe Storm Laboratory.  They’ve developed a special computer program to look inside the storm.  Maybe we can use it to figure out what’s motivating this thing to ruin the lives of so many.

Now we just left that graphic to check out the Daytona Beach TowerCam.  Surprisingly, the lens is covered with water.   

Oh boy!  Red dots that look like clown noses have appeared on the radar!  Tom clicks on a red dot and we are given a probability that the storm will spawn rotation at the location marked by the red dots.  There’s a 44% chance that you folks in Apopka will see storm rotation.  What does that mean?  Heck if I know.  But it doesn’t sound good.

You’ve gathered that the game between the Astros and the Nats has been rained out.  I spent most of the morning in the rain at the minor-league complex watching the young hitters take some swings in the cage.

Ran into a few familiar faces.  John Poppert, last year’s do-everything coach, told me he got married in Pittsburgh in the offseason.  Also got a chance to chat with former Chief turned  Double-A Harrisburg manager Randy Knorr.  He’s excited to be managing again. 

Check out Inside Pitch for a conversation with Andrew Kown.  He made his Triple-A debut last year in Syracuse.  He’s got some interesting things to say about his offseason and the schedule he keeps during Spring Training.

For now, I’m going to go outside to monitor the barometric pressure.  Tom would be proud.


Stories From Above–when food attacks edition

Before I forget, please note that certain words (like “Cheerios” in paragraph three) in this blog post (and my last one for that matter) are gray.  If you click on those (or open them in a new tab with CTRL + T), you will see pictures which correspond with words.  It’s sorta like a children’s book.  Word + picture = recall.  The cow says…..moo.

My day started with breakfast at the team hotel.  It was a free breakfast, so I expected something decent.  I couldn’t complain.  I had two muffins and a few cups or orange juice.  I was just about comfortable with the amount I ate, but cereal was going to be the coup de grace (This is not to be confused with the coup de tat.  That’s where the Frosted Flakes seize the waffle machine and all of its batter in a rush of strategic genius.)

So, I walked over to the Cheerios, grabbed a bowl and looked for the milk.  One white jug of 2% and…..another white jug of 2%.  Come on.  Drinking 2% milk is like cleaning out your refrigerator.  It’s disgusting and there’s always someone else who enjoys what’s found while doing it.

With zero cereal in me, I hit I-528 west and zipped over to Orlando to meet the Simones.  With the Nationals all the way in Jupiter to play the Cardinals, we decided to take in the Braves and the Mets at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.  In the first two innings, we saw six runs, former Toledo Mud Hen Mike Hessman, former Pawtucket Red Sock, Minnesota Viking and X-Files Creator Chris Carter (who hit a torpedo of a homer against Derek Lowe) and former Charlotte Knights Manager Razor Shines.  Some of the stars were resting.

In the third inning, I was lured by a concession stand selling slushies.  The flavors available were cherry, lemonade and mixed.  I–like anyone else with the sensory systems of a teething four-year-old–chose “mixed” in a heartbeat.  Problem, though.  I was second in line.  The father, daughter and granddaughter trio in front of me couldn’t decide what they wanted.  They chose an order of churros and a cheesesteak for a main course without much hesitation.  The drink was the sticking point.  The granddaughter asked for a sweet tea.  Vendor said no.  I was a little frustrated, but I thought it was ultra-cute that the tiny red-headed kid ordered a sweet tea at the equivalent of a hot dog cart.

Then, the girl picked “water.”  Woman at the cart:  “We don’t have any, sorry.”  You don’t have water?  Is this baseball competition happening in Khartoum?  Thankfully, the daughter spied a bottled beverage stand adjacent and took Picky Orphan Annie with her.

It wasn’t over, though.  No no.  The patriarch of the family got his Churros and almost instantaneously erupted a fit of rage.  Seriously, he went emotionally from 0 to 60 in about 1.5 seconds. 

Man (fiercely):  There are only two Churros here.
Woman at cart:  That’s what an order is.
Man (angrily):  The menu says three.  I know I read somewhere that you get three!
Woman:  No sir, two.
Man (screaming, now):  The sign, here, it shows three!!!!

The guy didn’t get his Churros.  Was he in the right?  Does he have a valid claim of false advertisement?  Is the representation more prominent than the writing?  You be the judge.

Tomorrow, Nats and Astros.  Keep an eye out here, on and on our homepage.

J. Benetti     

Stories from above–precocious edition

Ever wonder what it was like to watch Mozart play the piano at age six?

Stephen Strasburg tossed some pretty memorable pitches today (just ask the radar gun ).  He threw two scoreless innings and struck a couple of batters out–Miguel Cabrera on a fastball at 98 and Brent Dlugach on a lethal curveball.

Strasburg did allow two hits, the first of which came from an ’09 Toledo Mud Hen, Don Kelly.  The young man from Tony Gwynn’s San Diego State program, though, was generally confounding to both Tigers and electronics.

Clubhouse highlight of the day:  A reporter from the Far East asked Strasburg after his start, “What do you think of your new teammate, Chien-Ming Wang?”  Collectively lacking a nose for symmetry, the horde of reporters neglected to rush to Wang to ask his opinion of his young comrade from America.

On a personal note, I have eaten dinner at two separate locations so far–with many still yet unexplored.  I’m heartened that this city stands by its motto.

Persona non grata of the day:  This guy.  Remember who came after The Beatles on Ed Sullivan?  Me neither.

Check out Inside Pitch for a conversation with Tim Foli and postgame comments from Stephen Strasburg and our YouTube page for video coverage .

Sat with Justin Maxwell’s better half during the ninth inning.  They’re expecting another child (a girl) in April.  Congrats to them.

Will Dogen come back to life tonight?  Is Kate dead?  Do any of you embrace Lost like I do?

J. Benetti

Stories from above–Spring Training edition

I was at a college baseball game the other day, and I thought to myself, “Jason, that ‘ping’ sound is strange.”  So, I decided to go to Spring Training.

Well, that’s not exactly how it happened, but it’s a pretty solid fake impulse-buy story.  I’ve actually had my flight booked for a while now.  I’ll be down in Viera watching the Nationals and soon-to-be-Nationals from Monday until next Sunday.
Why am I telling you this?  Because I like making you, dear reader, insanely jealous.  That’s why I’ll be posting pictures of me sipping from glasses with tiny umbrellas every day next week.  
That’s not entirely true, either.  I’m telling you I’ll be at Spring Training because it’s partially up to you who you hear from when I’m down there.  I have my plans of who I’d like to talk to.  But, I’m interested in who you’re intrigued by.  What questions do you have going into this season?   John Simone and I will be in Florida filing both audio and video reports from camp.
So, drop me a note at  Tell me who you want to see or hear.  If at all possible, you’ll get your interview….and a JPEG of me reading Baseball America next to the hot tub.
In other news, I’ll be calling the SU lacrosse game on Sunday @ UVA.  #1 v. #2.  Should be an absolute blast.  I still remember sitting in the M&T Bank Stadium press box after the ’04 title win over Navy, wondering when I’d get to do SU lacrosse again.  A remarkable program in a truly entertaining sport.
In fake news, one of my favorite groups of people, the fine folks at The Onion, have pretty well captured life as a National League batting instructor:
Stay tuned to the blog for info on the Nats, the Chiefs and what type of emasculating/tractionless rental car I’ll be tooling around in (last one was an “ice blue” Hyundai Accent–pictured here:  
See you at Epcot,
J. Benetti
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