Results tagged ‘ Syracuse Chiefs ’

Take the Long Way Home

Good day from Chicagoland, my home for the first 18 years of my life.  There are a few inches of snow on the ground as I type this, giving the Windy City .00000006% of the snowfall of Syracuse for the year.   Ba zing.  I’ll be here all week. 

You all may or may not know–or care, for that matter–that I currently live in North Carolina for part of the year.  I do play-by-play for High Point University men’s basketball, a small Division 1 program in the Big South Conference.  If you’re not familiar with the Big South, please drop a cable to your favorite turtlenecked Big East coach who makes his home in Indiana.  His team lost to Big South-champion Winthrop a few years ago.

High Point’s final game before a break for the holiday was Tuesday, December 21st against the University of Georgia in Athens.  The Panthers played a solid first half and trailed 34-24 after 20 minutes.  The 2nd half was rather….look over there!  Is that Chad Mottola?  Final score 85-38.

After the game, three of us hopped in a car and began to drive back to Winston-Salem from Georgia.  I wouldn’t describe the route as “as the crow flies.” That is, unless the crow, in a fit of despair after once again being duped by the giant straw thing in that field over there, was six appletinis deep.  Yes, crows love appletinis. 

As we motored down State Route 29, the GPS became very perplexed by the proceedings.  She put us on Highway 106 for a moment, then recalculated, then some other godforsaken road, then recalculated.  I understand that GPS stands for Global Positioning System.  I just always thought the user had a hand in selecting the position.

After a course which could be generously labeled circuitous, we hit Interstate 85.  Because haute cuisine is not typically an option after weeknight basketball games, we rolled the dice with a hybrid gas station/Wendy’s for dinner.  By the way, gas station/Wendy’s combinations are approved by gastroenterologists everywhere.  Approved in the way that dentists approve chewing on seashells or tire salesmen approve of lining your driveway with porcupine quills.   Side note: One serving of Wendy’s sweet and spicy Asian boneless wings contains 2490 milligrams of sodium.  The USDA’s Recommended Daily Allowance is 2400 milligrams.  Might be easier to punch yourself in the heart 15 times.

We made it safely to Winston-Salem just shy of 3 A.M.  I entered my house to find…..a thermostat with no reading.  And my own breath.  It was below freezing.  Though I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, a nocturnal trip to Helsinki wasn’t exactly ideal at that point.  Needing sleep, I bundled up and slid under the covers, hoping to somehow not become a stalactite overnight.

At 6 A.M. I woke up shivering.  I couldn’t stop.  So, I packed up my things and drove to Wake Forest where I holed myself up in a study room.  I alternated between head-on-desk sleep and lie-down-on-hardwood sleep.  Both serene options. 

My flights later that day, though, were rather smooth.  I made it safely to Chicago.  Three quick things about O’Hare/Delta Airlines:

1) All flights into O’Hare airport land at a gate which is at least 14 miles away from baggage claim.  I understand that a flight from Greensboro wouldn’t be a priority, but Wednesday night I flew in from Atlanta and still got off the jetway to find gate E12, the end of the terminal.  I think I saw a flight from El Dorado arrive at E2.

2) Delta Airlines on-flight wi-fi.  Big fan.  How come other companies haven’t done it, I wonder?  While Delta’s is free, it seems like a better money-making enterprise than charging for bags.  Have you seen what charging for bags has done to airplanes?  People do everything they can to avoid paying by gate-checking their luggage.  Golf clubs, yachts, split-levels.  Gate check ‘em!

3) I gate-checked my backpack Wednesday night to try to save room on a totally full flight (still awaiting my Passenger of the Year Award).  I got off the plane and found no gate-checked bags.  I came to find out the gate-checked luggage was zapped down to baggage claim.  One passenger who had done the same thing I had grumbled “bait and switch.”   Glad Delta decided to save its employees some time by wasting the time of its passengers.

4) The handrails on an escalator at O’Hare were sponsored by Hampton Inn.  I have been inspired.  I will now have a Jergens ad on my right palm at all times.

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Have you been keeping up with the offseason Nats news?  IL All-Star Jeff Frazier and Michael Aubrey are two power bats in the fold who may be Chiefs next season.  Also, the Nats signed pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel to a 1.5 million dollar deal.

Keep up with all the news on the Nats and the Chiefs at syracusechiefs.com.  Or, follow us broadcasters @ChiefsRadio on Twitter.

Us broadcasters, by the way, has a different meaning as of recently.  Mike Couzens, my broadcast partner of last season will be moving on to other opportunities.  It was a pleasure sharing a booth, a bunch of laughs and some ballpark food with him last season. There is no doubt in my mind that he will have a tremendous career. 

His chair will now be occupied by Kevin Brown, another native New Yorker.  You can typically find Kevin rooting for the Yankees, calling SU basketball for WAER or playing Freecell at an unoccupied computer.  Heck, he might be using your home computer right now.

From me and Mike and Kevin and everyone in the Chiefs front office, Happy Holidays.  We look forward to talking with you, blogging with you and seeing you in 2011.

Jason

GAUDIN NEWEST NAT, WANG RETURNS

The Washington Nationals signed righthanded pitcher Chad Gaudin yesterday to a minor league contract and invited the former Chiefs pitcher to spring training as a non-roster player.

Gaudin, still only 27 pitched for the Chiefs in 2005 and came within one out of tossing a no-hitter vs Columbus at Alliance Bank Stadium that season.

He spent the 2006 and 07 season with Oakland – pitching in relief 4-2 3.09 ERA in 55 appearances in ’06 and was 11-13 with a 4.42 ERA in 34 starts in ’07.

Chad began the 08′ season with the A’s but was traded to the White Sox in July and finished the season 9-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 50 games.

In 09′ he moved back to the starting rotation with San Diego before being traded to the Yankees again in July and posted a 6-10 record with a 4.65 ERA in 31 starts.

Last season he moved back to the bullpen and for the third straight season split time with Oakland to start the season and finishing with the Yankees.  In 42 games he was 1-4 with a 5.65 ERA.

Wang, now 30, missed all of the 2010 season.  He pitched in games in September/October at the Nationals Instructional League and was impressive.

Senators of Today..Chiefs of Tomorrow?


HBG to SYR.jpg

As the end of July looms near and the Chiefs are in the
midst of the International League playoff hunt, it seems like a good time to
take a look at some of the players who may join the Chiefs as the playoffs come
ever closer.

 

September 1st–far away today but really will be
here tomorrow (the older you get, the clearer that becomes), is the day that
Major League rosters expand to 40 players. While this doesn’t mean much today
for the Syracuse roster, it could be significant down the road. Current Chiefs
players on the 40-man roster include: Justin Maxwell (four trips to the bigs
this season), Carlos Maldonado (played in 4 games with the Nats between May and
June), Collin Balester (with Washington as of today), Jesse English, Atahualpa
Severino, and Shairon Martis.

 

If those players go up come September, that means players
from within the Washington farm system could find themselves moving up to
Syracuse. Josh Wilkie, now a staple of the Chiefs bullpen, didn’t arrive at
Alliance Bank Stadium until July 25th of last season.

 

To find out about some of the players who might rise, I
spoke with Terry Byrom, the radio broadcaster of the Harrisburg Senators, the
Nationals Double-A affiliate. He’s in his sixth season with the Senators and
has an extensive knowledge of the Nationals of the future.

 

The first player to talk about was shortstop Danny Espinosa.
He was a third round pick out of Long Beach State University, which has quite a
history of producing major league ready infielders
including Evan Longoria and
Troy Tulowitzki. 

Danny Espinosa.jpg

 Photo via

Last year with Advanced-A Potomac (suddenly that’s the hot
place to be if you want to end up in Syracuse–see Leatherman, D. Whiting, B.)
he hit .264 with 18 HR, 72 RBI, and 29 SB.

 

“There’s no one area of his game we look at and say,
‘Boy, we need to make huge strides quickly here,’ because he’s polished in all
areas. And you just don’t see middle infielders with his type of arm
strength,” said then Potomac manager Trent Jewett to the Washington Post
last May. 

 

This season he’s batting .258 with 14 HR, 41 RBI and 18 SB
for Harrisburg.

 

“I think right now he’s a very good defensive infielder and
I would say his glove is better than his bat. Having said that, his bat is
awfully good. I think he’s starting to figure out the pitching and for guys
that come up from “A” ball it’s just a series of adjustments that need to be
made,” said Byrom.

 

Espinosa earned himself a spot on the roster for the Futures
Game earlier this month. As Espinosa does advance through the system though,
his position could change, Byrom says.

The Nationals already have 2009 Chief Ian Desmond as their
starting shortstop, but that doesn’t worry Espinosa who played some second base
during spring training.

 

“Whether I play second or short, I’d just rather be up
there. I don’t really care. I’d like to play short, but if the team thinks I’m
going to play second base better and I can help with second base more than
short, that’s the decision and I’ll roll with that and I’m fine. I’m totally
happy with that. I just want to make it up there,” Espinosa told Adam Kilgore
of the Washington Post last month. 

 

The Chiefs have used four different shortstops this year
with Pedro Lopez (41 games) playing the most of anyone in that spot.

 

Another player who may be a Chief not before long is first
baseman Chris Marrero. A first round pick out of high school in Miami in 2006,
he could be a big part of the Washington future. Marrero’s advancement may
depend on whether or not Adam Dunn is still a National after the July 31st
trading deadline. 

Chris Marrero.jpg

Photo via  

Marrero spent parts of 2007, 2008 and 2009 with Advanced-A
Potomac before making the jump to Double-A last season and playing in 23 games
with the Senators for whom he hit .267.

 

Now with almost a full season of Double-A baseball under his
belt, Marrero is hitting .297 with 13 HR and 58 RBI along with 19 doubles.
Plus, he’s hot now–in June he hit .359, and in July he’s hitting .333.

 

Byrom says it was about Marrero adjusting to a higher level
after nearly three seasons in Woodbridge, VA.

 

“I think the Nationals felt that he needed to show some
consistency at the plate and ever since May 1st he’s been
incredible. He’s second in the Eastern League in hits, he’s much better at
first base and he just looks more comfortable there than he did last year. He
has worked really hard on his defense. He has gone from a power hitter who is
serviceable at first base, to one who can end up being a pretty good defensive
first baseman. Most of his errors have actually come on throws, but he’s gotten
a lot better at picking balls out of the dirt. I’d say the biggest thing he’s
improved on is receiving poor throws from the infield. He’s young and will only get better.”

 

Ever since Josh Whitesell (40 starts at first and at the
time a team leading 34 RBI) left for Japan, the Chiefs have rotated between
Chris Duncan (on the DL), Jason Botts, Chase Lambin, and even Bill Rhinehart at
first base. A combination of two power bats in Botts and Marrero could be
lethal for a late season run at the playoffs.

 

The last player we looked at was pitcher Tom Milone, who
leads Harrisburg in wins this season with a 7-5 record and a 3.08 ERA. A Rule 5 draft pick out of USC in 2008, he pitched
opposite former Nationals draftee Aaron Crow in the summer of 2007 in the Cape
Cod Baseball League and was named the Pitcher of the Year. (Crow is now with
the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Double-A affiliate of the Royals.) 

Tom Milone.jpg

Photo via 

 

Milone draws some comparisons to John Lannan but has made his mark in the minors due to his control of his pitches. Through
the 2009 season, he had struck out 155 batters and walked just 45. In addition,
he’s moved quickly through the system spending just six games with Vermont in
2008 and the rest of that season in Hagerstown. Last year he was 12-5 with a
2.91 ERA at Potomac.

 

“Tom is a lefthander that will throw into the low 90′s and
so he’s not a guy that just kicks around and uses off-speed stuff. He’s also
not afraid to go inside on right-handed hitters. For a lefty that’s pretty
important. This year he has pitched himself onto (the Nationals) radar. He was
on their radar before, but now he is being thought of as a guy that could crack
the rotation in the Majors,” Byrom said.

 

Syracuse has put together a reliable rotation with Shairon
Martis, Matt Chico, Jeff Mandel, Erik Arnesen and Jason Jones, but two of those
players (Martis and Chico) both have Major League experience. Nobody, including
Collin Balester
, knows when the call is going to come.

 

But when the phone rings at Triple-A, it starts a game of
telephone with stops in Harrisburg, Woodbridge, Hagerstown and Burlington,
Vermont.

telephone.png

Photo via

 

 

Thanks for reading and listening each night. If you would
like to get in touch you can reach me at mikecouzens@syracusechiefs.com
and you can follow the broadcast on Twitter @ChiefsRadio

 

–Mike

Justin Maxwell’s All-Star Summer of 2003

Hey! Mike Couzens checking in with you here in the midst of the International League All-Star break. While we’re technically away from baseball for three days, I’ve gone on vacation only to run into…more baseball. I’m spending my time off on beautiful Cape Cod and while I’ve been here, I ran across a story that I couldn’t pass up. I was talking to an old friend of mine and when I told him about the Chiefs, the name Justin Maxwell immediately came into his mind. My friend remembered that he played in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2003, and was a pretty good player back then too. Here’s the story of how Justin Maxwell made a anme for himself before he was a Chief:

Anybody worth their weight in sea salt can tell you that the
state of Maryland has some of the best soft-shell crabs the east coast has to offer. One
thing that became very clear in the summer of 2003 was that Marylanders don’t
do lobsters, quahogs, or clams. Why’s that? Justin Maxwell made it obvious.

 

Maxwell, then a 19 year-old outfielder from the University
of Maryland, was another name among hundreds in the prestigious Cape Cod
Baseball League. It’s the nation’s top summer wooden bat league in Cape Cod,
Massachusetts. Maxwell was a member of the Bourne Braves and was trying to make
a name for himself in front of professional scouts alongside the best
collegiate players in the nation.

 

Bourne is a small town nestled into the northwest corner of
Cape Cod and has a strong fan base for baseball. Current New Jersey Devils
President Lou Lamoriello played on a championship team in Bourne back in 1965.
The baseball might be different now then it was back then, but one constant in
the CCBL is families hosting players. The ballplayers are coming from all over
the country to play for the summer, and families give them a place to stay and
food to eat.

 

Maxwell lived with then Braves General Manager Sean Walsh,
and one day Maxwell was invited over another family’s house for food, lots of
food.

 

“I invited him, his parents were over and we had a Cape Cod
clambake–lobsters, clams, quahogs, sausage, onions and stuffing. He didn’t know
what he was getting into when he sat down to the table at that one. His parents
knew less. But they really enjoyed it and they’re great people,” said Stanley
“Froggy” Eldridge, the father-in-law of current General Manager Mike Carrier.

 

Carrier remembers that Maxwell wasn’t quite sure how to dig
in to a lobster or how to eat a clam.

 

“You would think with the crabs and everything (from
Maryland). But you know, we have some unique seafood up here that you don’t get
down there. But how many of us know what soft shell crabs are up here?” Carrier
said.

 

That was Justin Maxwell off the field. On the field, he
almost didn’t even garner a roster spot.

 

Each year the league holds the Frank Finn tryout at
Wareham’s Spillane Field. It’s a diamond that doubles as a football field and
uses stonedust on the infield rather than dirt. It’s a striking image at first
to see gray covering the basepaths rather than the normal parched brown of the
summer.

 

Players usually from smaller schools are invited to the
tryout and will come from places like the University of Maine or Delaware to
compete with players from the big name schools like Texas, Southern Miss, and
Auburn who already have guaranteed contracts for the season. Out of the nearly
eighty players that try out, maybe ten will be lucky to make a roster. In 2003,
Maxwell was one of those ten.

Maxwell Bourne.jpg

Photo courtesy of SportsPix

 

“At the Wareham tryout that he was the top athlete of that
whole group of about 80 players. You could see that he was an excellent
ballplayer and it was pretty amazing that he hadn’t been signed by one of the
Cape League ball clubs by then,” said Carrier.

 

Carrier wasn’t the only one watching. Representatives from
every team, whether it be a general manager or field manager, will be on hand
to look at potential players. Cooper Farris, who has managed the Wareham
Gatemen since 2001, was at the tryout at his home field and has vivid memories
of a 19 year-old with a hulking frame and a lethal weapon for an arm.

 

“I probably messed up because I had some Maryland guys (who
had played for me). I didn’t know the name coming out (of the tryout) and the
big thing is, a lot of the guys go on the scene–we’ve got two guys on our team
hitting .300 that we got from the tryout. There’s a lot of guys out there and
he’s one of them but he’s a special one,” said Farris.

 

Maxwell was scooped up by Bourne and in a 44 game season, he
played in 43 of them. Maxwell hit .307 with two home runs and 47 hits in just
153 at bats.

 

Photo courtesy of SportsPix

He helped his Braves team to a 23-19 record and a first
place finish in the Western Division. A record of four games over .500 may not
sound like much, but in a league where even some of the best teams hover around
.500, it’s a feat to remember.

 

The record isn’t the only thing people remember.

 

“I remember Justin was a big kid and he was a strong kid and
he could hit the ball a long way. I remember watching him at Coady Field, which
was our field before Doran Park, and he was a great player. I’m not surprised
at all that he’s at the level he’s at. He was a great hitter and was great in
the outfield,” said Bob Kruse, the Vice President of Operation for the Braves.

 

Farris says Maxwell had one of the best arms of a
centerfielder he has ever seen in a decade of coaching the best the country has
to offer.

 

Maxwell was the starting leftfielder in the All-Star game
for the Western Division that year and also picked up an award once bestowed
upon Nomar Garciaparra in 1993.

 

He was given the Manny Robello 10th player award
for his stellar season.

 Maxwell Portrait.jpg

Photo courtesy of SportsPix

“He was pretty well stunned over that. He was shocked that he
won it because there were other players that were as good as he. He was
outstanding. He shined,” said Eldridge.

 

Looking back, it shouldn’t have been all too surprising to
anyone. Maxwell was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 Major League
Baseball draft and began to play professionally in 2006.

 

By 2007, he was already in a Washington Nationals uniform.

 

“You could definitely see that he had the potential to get a
lot better and obviously he has. He’s been very successful between Triple-A and
the Major Leagues. It’s a nice feeling to see our former players succeed (in
the Majors) like that,” said Carrier.

 

At Triple-A Syracuse this year, Maxwell was hitting .296,
with 6 HR and 18 RBI before his most recent call up–the third this season.

 

With the Nationals in 2010, Maxwell is just 4-38 (.105) with
1 HR and 3 RBI.

 

The quest still lives within Maxwell to be an everyday
outfielder for the Washington Nationals. That remains constant and so does the
desire of fans, whether they be in Bourne, Massachusetts, Syracuse, New York or
his hometown of Olney, Maryland, to see him succeed at every level.

 

Whether it was Cooper Farris, vividly recalling images of
Maxwell, after his team had just won a 12 inning marathon ending at 11 p.n.
last Monday, or Mike Carrier jogging his brain for the Terps star who couldn’t
crack a lobster claw, or Stanley “Froggy” Eldridge just showing up to an early
July game with a folding chair to see the next Justin Maxwell play–the
sentiment is the same.

 

“He’s a great kid. He was a good defensive centerfielder,
could hit good and I just wish him the best,” said Eldridge.

==============================

EXTRA: Watch video of Farris and Carrier talk about Maxwell

I hope you’re enjoying the All-Star Break. If you get the MLB Network, you can watch Chase Lambin on July 14th as he represents the Chiefs as the International League takes on the Pacific Coast League in Allentown, PA.

Please do get in touch to share any thoughts, questions, concerns or comments. I would love to hear from you. The email address is mikecouzens@syracusechiefs.com and on Twitter we are @ChiefsRadio.

Mike

Five Game Swing through WNY and PA

Buffalo, N.Y. – Today the Chiefs begin a five game road trip
against three different teams. First, they’ll play two against the Bisons at
Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo. Then, it’s off to All-Star, er Lehigh Valley for
two games against the Iron Pigs and a one-day stop in the Electric City:
Scranton.

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Today as we arrived in Buffalo, we stopped quickly at the
team hotel to drop off our stuff and then headed over to the ballpark. It’s
kind of like a sleepover. We come in for the day, have some fun while watching
a baseball game, spend the night, and then after the second game it’s back on
the road again. We’re hoping to avoid weather similar to our last stop. (Hint:
It included a one hour, fifty-eight minute rain delay.) Although last time we were
in town, I got to do a great International League Man vs. Food eating fried
bologna sandwiches…that was great fun.

 

Buffalo’s in a bit of a rough stretch at the moment. The
Herd has lost seven of its last ten and has dropped in the standings, as well.
When Syracuse left Buffalo on June 3rd, the Bisons were 2 ½ games
out of first place. Today, they’re seven back of first place
Scranton-Wilkes/Barre. The Bisons lost a tough game in their series finale at
Charlotte by a 13-12 final.

 

Their starter for the series opener, Dillon Gee, lost his
last outing going just three innings and giving up seven runs. In the start
before that, the bullpen lost the game for him giving up six tenth inning runs.
 On top of that, the last time Gee started against the Chiefs, it was against
Stephen Strasburg in a game Syracuse won 7-1. 

 

The Bisons have also been thinned a bit since the last time
these two teams met. They’re without second baseman Daniel Murphy (injury),
outfielder Jesus Feliciano (with the Mets), Josh Thole (with the Mets), and
infielder Mike Hessman (DL). Buffalo was also leading the league in average
when the Chiefs last came through–now they’re third at .275.

 

So things have certainly changed in the few weeks since the
Chiefs and Bisons have met. On Tuesday we’ll see Erik Arnesen start for Syracuse
against Dillon Gee.

 

After two in Buffalo, it’s off to Allentown, PA to take on
the IronPigs for the first time since April 17th-20th. It
was very frigid weather then, and I’m looking forward to wearing short sleeves
rather than my winter coat.

Fifth place Lehigh Valley has struggled lately, as well. The
‘Pigs have won four of their last ten, but in all fairness only
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has a winning record in that same time span looking at IL
North teams.

Lehigh Valley took a tough loss on Monday night to Durham on
a walk-off two run double. It was the eighth walk-off of the season against
Lehigh Valley. 

 

Their roster has changed quite a bit recently. On Tuesday,
Greg Dobbs had his contract purchased by Philadelphia, Brian Bocock was
recalled by the Phillies, Willy Taveras was released from the organization,
J.A. Happ was assigned to Lehigh Valley on a Major League rehab assignment, and
Neil Sellers and Ty Taubenheim were promoted from Double-A Reading to Lehigh
Valley. W-O-A-H. Do not attempt to read that sentence aloud in one breath…you
will not survive. In other words, they lost some talent, got some talent, and
also got a former Chief. Taubenheim pitched with Syracuse in 2006 and 2007.

Another former Chief, Rich Thompson (Syracuse ’01, ’03) was
with Lehigh Valley earlier in the year but is currently with Double-A Reading.

 

It’s now the start of a long, “momentous, promotion-crammed,
eight-game homestand at Coca-Cola Park”
for the
IronPigs including three games against Rochester (losers of nine of ten), two
against Syracuse, and four against Pawtucket.

Lastly, the Chiefs will play a one-game series at
Scranton/Wilkes Barre on July 3rd. The Yankees have re-taken the IL
North division lead
and as of Tuesday lead Syracuse by ½ game.

 

The Yankees just finished a four game sweep against the Red
Wings and have won five straight after taking the series finale against
Pawtucket on June 23rd.

 

Former Chief Eric Bruntlett–released earlier this month by
Washington–has caught on with the Yankees and despite being off to a 7-43
(.163) start in 12 games, had drawn praise as of late from Yankees manager Dave
Miley

 

“Bruntlett had a good
day. Before we got him, he had quite a bit of time off. He was a little rusty
and his timing was off a little bit.”

No word yet on what the
pitching matchup will be in that series.

One last pitching note
today as well–the Nationals have recalled pitcher Craig Stammen to start on
Tuesday night
against the Atlanta Braves. They placed reliever Tyler Walker on the DL. Stammen pitched very well filling
the spot left by Stephen Strasburg in the Syracuse rotation going 2-0 with a
2.25 ERA in three starts.

To fill Stammen’s spot on
the roster, the Chiefs have activated relief pitcher Jesse English off the
disabled list. His last outing was on May 23rd against Toledo and he
was officially placed on the DL May 25th. It’s good to see him back to
help bolster an already very strong Syracuse bullpen.

That’s all for now as we
get ready to start the series here in Buffalo. Be sure to check out our YouTube
page
as we’ll be starting a new series called, “What’s in Your Scorebook?”,
where we detail the intricacies of how broadcasters score the game. We’ll also
be doing a brand new edition of IL Man vs. Food from Lehigh Valley where I’ll
be trying out their pork nachos. Be afraid, be very afraid (for me, not for
yourself of course).

We owe a big thank you to everyone from the Chiefs front office who helped us with our first outdoor broadcast of the season on Sunday. Mike Voutsinas and Josh Jones for helping us to set up, Wendy and Ariel Shoen for providing us with great interviews and umbrellas, and all of the fans who stopped by. We also got to meet Russ Haynes, the dad of Chiefs bullpen catcher Chris Haynes, who is an avid fan and listener. We plan on broadcasting outside for the remaining Sunday home games this season.

A special thanks to Jim McGregor who took this photo of me and Jason in the stands:

DSC00389.JPG

And as always, you can
follow us on Twitter where we’ll give updates as we travel along with the game
calls from each night.



Thanks for reading,
listening, and being a fan.

Please get in touch if
you have any thoughts, comments, questions or concerns. My email address is mikecouzens@syracusechiefs.com.

–Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chiefs go to Charlotte–a sorta live travel blog

This blog is sorta live because I wrote it when I could have my portable electronic device open.  


3:13 A.M.–Alarm clock goes off.  I feel like I’m at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.


3:16–Hop into shower.  Think about the people on the West Coast who still have a full night of sleep ahead of them


3:28–Text Louisville radio announcer Matt Andrews, en route to Pawtucket, “Hope you had a nice little trip.”  No reply.  Sad.


3:30–Game time is officially 15 hours, 45 minutes and three naps away.  


3:38–Insufficient double-check to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything in the suitcase.  Guarantee I’ll remember something I left behind later.


3:42–Matt Andrews responds.  Tells me to travel safe.  He is 20 miles from Providence.  Nap time for him is imminent.


3:43–Write a few emails which will reveal themselves to be incoherent at a more respectable hour.


3:44–Realize, by looking at the clock in the upper-right of my computer, that it is Saturday.


3:46–Get in the car to drive to the ballpark.  Blast Foreigner.


4:00–Arrive at ballpark.  Saw seven cars on my 15-minute drive.


4:05–Stop in Trent Jewett’s office.  Ask if anything is new.  “There hasn’t been time for anything new,” the Chiefs’ manager says.


4:16–I’m assured by Greg Booker that it’s going to “get better before it gets worse.”  In addition, I “have nowhere to go but up.”  I cannot begrudge his use of sarcasm in the morning.  It’s significantly more real than the pretense of enjoying the morning four hours after the night ended.


4:31–Bus to airport leaves.  I’m handed 25 dollars for my checked bag.  As a group, we will send United stock through the roof.


4:50–Wait in line to check bag.  


5:00–Wait some more.  


5:02–Ask Jeff Mandel where Baylor is going in the conference carousel.  He seems to think the Mountain West is an option.


5:05–Go through security.  First time I’ve ever seen two security lanes open at Hancock International Airport.  In addition, I doubt that an international flight which does not arrive in a location east of the Mississippi which considers the maple leaf to be its national symbol departs from Syracuse.


5:26–Crossword puzzle time.


5:38–I realize my puzzle skill set is much weaker on little sleep.


5:42–As we board the first place to Washington-Dulles, the man behind me in line is pat-down searched pursuant to 49 USC 44903.  Tough day for that guy.


5:50–While on the plane, we are reminded that “when a lit sign indicates ‘exit’, you have reached an exit.”  Great.


5:52–We are reminded to “breathe normally” in case of a depressurized cabin.  Thanks.


6:15–Sleep.


7:20 or so–Land in Washington.  I nearly suffer cranial bleeding thanks to the last step of the deplaning process.


7:35–Take weird bus-looking shuttle thing to terminal A at Dulles.  Collin Balester muses that he’d like to own one of these and drive it around.


7:56–Board flight number two.


7:57–Jason Bergmann tries to explain to the clerk at the door that he cannot sit in row 15 while his daughter, age 2, sits in row 4.  The woman seems perplexed.  We resolve the issue among ourselves.


8:03–The flight attendant spiel on this flight is the most piercing one I have ever heard.  I tell Trent Jewett, across the aisle from me, that it feels as though someone has planted a speaker in my head.


8:10–Once again, breathe normally in case of depressurization.


8:15–As we taxi, Bergmann–a row behind me with his daughter–is told by a Mussolini-like flight attendant that we cannot take off until his daughter is buckled into her seat.  The woman across the aisle attempts to do the “you’re a big girl” routine to get the younger Bergmann to sit down.  This is a tired act.    


8:18–We take off.  Jason’s daughter is safe.


8:22–Jewett and I are bumped for the 100th time by a flight attendant. Confetti falls from sky.


8:23–The man next to me begins to snore.  


8:33–The man next to me continues to snore.


8:55–We begin our descent.  Bergmann is told that his daughter–now sleeping–cannot remain in Jason’s lap.  The flight attendant says “they are very strict about this.”  Who is “they”?  Are “they” watching?  Is this an Orwell novel?  I like to assume that a child sleeping in a father’s arms is relatively safe.  The woman lectures Bergmann for a short while.  This is getting ridiculous.  She moves on, finally, and tells about six consecutive passengers to put their seats up.  One of them, hilariously, is my gurgling row-mate whose seat is actually not at all inclined.


9:10–As wheels hit ground, the flight attendant is still not buckled into her seat.  I fear that “they” will soon come after her.


9:40–Baggage in hand, I jet over to the hotel in our rental van.


10:29–This blog ends.  I nap.


  I will regain consciousness in time for the 7:15 Chiefs-Knights game in Fort Mill, SC this evening.  Join us on the broadcast at 6:45 with the On Deck Show at http://www.sportsradio620.com.


Shoot me an email at jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs,com


Jason


International League Man vs. Food: Buffalo Edition

Fried Bologna Sandwich.

Sounds intriguing, right?

Try eating four of these sandwiches:

 

Full Sandwich.JPG

 

That was the task that I was given during our must recent
stop at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo. I had eaten a light lunch of a turkey
sandwich on a croissant at the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery (highly recommended if you’re in town), as a
nice warm up course for what was to come.

When I envisioned fried bologna in my head, I thought of
something that would go on a regular sandwich of the cold cut variety:

 

bologna.jpg

 

Oh how wrong I was. The bologna on this sandwich was thick
and it was about twice the size of a regular piece of Oscar Mayer bologna. Not
only that, there was a roll and sautéed peppers and onions to go along with it.
Oh, and a slice of cheese. At least my arteries were smiling.

Robert Free, the Director of Food Service operations at
Coca-Cola Field, put four sandwiches down in front of me complete with chips. Jason
was standing by with the camera–a big smile on his face as he knew my failure
to consecutively eat four sandwiches was imminent.

I made it through the first with no problem and then started
to devour the second. My bites got smaller and smaller until I had one bite
remaining in the second sandwich that I just could not finish.

I was Thanksgiving Day stuffed-full-of-turkey-and-mashed
potatoes
full. The troll in my stomach would not allow another piece of food to
pass over the bridge into my mouth. And so, I was left with just this on the
plate:

 

Half Eaten.JPG

 

It was a finish as disappointing as Michigan losing to
Appalachian State, or a Buckner error at first. One of my friends on Facebook
told me it was a “sad, sad performance.”

I’ll let you be the judge. But let he or she who lives in a
bologna house cast the first…roll?

“A Certain Ornithological Piece”

 

For those of you that joined us for game one of the series in
Buffalo– if you thought we talked about birds a lot, well it was because bird was the word.

 

(Watch this Family Guy clip if you missed the reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNrx2jq184)

There were seagulls everywhere around Coca-Cola Field
on Monday. Regulars in the pressbox said the birds were usually around, but not
quite as plentiful.

During the rain delay on Wednesday night, they made
themselves at home on the field:

 Bird.JPG

Birds.JPG

Jason even quipped, “I think Coca-Cola Field is made out of
breadcrumbs.”
It certainly seemed possible on Monday.

The birds hung around for the rest of the series, but there
were never as many as the first game of the series.

 

 

Tonight the Chiefs and Bulls play the last of this four game sereis here at
Alliance Bank Stadium. Join us for the On Deck show at 6:30 and first pitch at 7:00 on 620 WHEN or at sportsradio620.com

 

As always, you can get in touch with me via email at mikecouzens@syracusechiefs.com
or with both of us on Twitter @ChiefsRadio.

 

Mike

Stories From Above — The Couzens Card of Doom

As Jason has previously chronicled here on the blog, if
you’ve played baseball long enough, you’re sure to have a baseball card of
doom–the one picture that you wish had never been taken.

Now while I haven’t been playing baseball, I have had my
fair share of embarrassing pictures taken of me.

There’s the kind that I talked about on the air on Thursday
night in Scranton with my turtle shell framed glasses, or with my bifocals that
I got in second grade, but there’s also another picture that I certainly regret
posing for.

The discussion about my Card of Doom arose when Jason
and I were talking about making a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles and
how you only get to renew your license once every eight years. That also means
just one picture that you’re stuck with for 8 years whether you like it or not.

Since I just had to go in and get my license renewed, it was
time for a new picture. That meant I had to get rid of this old one:

DSC00363.JPG

Yes I know…the hair, the lack of a smile, the HAIR. It’s all
a disaster. Trust me, that hairstyle will never be coming back. I did make sure to smile
in my new picture. (Side Note: Much thanks to the kind folks at the Syracuse
DMV. I certainly recommend going in the early morning.)

Looking back at fashion trends from eras past is always a
fun thing. Bellbottoms are long gone, tie-dye should never make a return, and
leg warmers and crazy hair are so 1980′s.

Unfortunately, my hairstyle was never a popular trend
despite what any 2000′s vintage movement to bring back any of the above might say.

So I live with the poor decision to not cut my hair back in
the day. 

————————————————————————————

In other news, when Jason and I were at PNC Field in Moosic,
we made a stop for lunch at Bo Brothers restaurant. It’s located on the right
field concourse and serves some excellent smoked wings.

If you’re at all familiar with the Travel Channel show Man vs. Food, you’ll
get the concept of what we did.

Jason got the grand tour of Bo Brothers from owner Jim Ruby
and I got to eat twelve smoked wings dipped in their signature Bo Burner sauce.

Watch the video and see how it went: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSnQKwNIhhI

Thanks for checking in. As always, feel free to get in touch
at mikecouzens@syracusechiefs.com

Mike

Rate The IL Hotel!–Pawtucket Edition

It’s time again for the world’s fastest growing sensation…..now shown in 42 separate languages in 13 countries….

Rate the IL Hotel!

And here’s your host…..the man who is always not to be disturbed……Jason Benetti!

Well, thank you Johnny Gilbert.  Glad to be along again for Rate the IL Hotel!–the game which should not be placed next to a cell phone because it may be demagnetized.

During game play, we will list the pros and cons of a Triple-A hotel.  Ultimately, that hotel will be assigned a score of 0 to 50.

This week:

The Comfort Inn and Suites on George Street in Pawtucket, Rhode Island!

They Said It:

“In the Words of Elaine Benes:  I am speechless.  I am without speech.”

           –Unnamed International League traveler, when asked about the Comfort Inn in Pawtucket.

Pros:

1) It’s close to the ballpark.  It takes about five minutes to drive to McCoy.

2) I have never been mugged at this hotel.

Cons:

1) The internet is brutal.  Couzens realized as we entered the hotel that he had previously stayed here when moving his sister in to college about a decade ago.  I believe the hotel still uses the same wireless provider now as then.  The room I’m writing this from–112–is located across from the lobby.  The wireless signal is as strong as Waterworld was at the box office.  I have inquired at the front desk multiple times and received these responses:

“There is a major problem that is being fixed.”
“The signal is great sometimes and sucks other times.”
“Have you called Fusion (the service provider)?”
“The signal is just slow.  Have you tried coming into the lobby?”

AKA:  We still utilize Prodigy.

2) The business center.  I went to the business center on day two here and found a black computer with a clean desktop attached to a LaserJet printer.  Perfect to print a few pages of notes on.  I clicked on Internet Explorer.  This action opened a Microsoft Word Install Wizard.  That’s like going to Burger King and leaving with a dining room set and a seesaw.  Not exactly the proper result.

3) The attached restaurant.  The Ground Round–with streetside entrance to both food and slumber–is an IL legend.  Its free popcorn (which has as accurate of a birthdate as Rolando Arrojo) tantalizes guests with its salty, alluring nature.  The Ground Round’s mind-enveloping game of skill–keno–befuddles locals and world travelers alike.  And, its vast menu satiates those with cravings for Tex-Mex, chicken, clam chowder and chicken.  Alright, let’s be honest.  The Ground Round filed for bankruptcy six years ago, yet somehow there’s still a franchise in Pawtucket.  It’s Cheers without Norm, Carla, Sam, Coach, a dartboard, a pool table, Frasier, Lilith, Cliff Clavin and the atmosphere.

4) The hallways.  Evidently that there smoking ban doesn’t cover corridors, does it Massachusetts?

5) The shower.  Good water pressure.  No spatial concerns.  The issue is the margin of error with the temperature.  Move the dial a tick to the right…..scalded.  Shift it slightly back to the left…..popsicle.  What’s baffling is this:  The full range of the unit is about three revolutions.  So, why, dear shower doohickey-maker, does one amoeba-sized movement take me from 0 to 100?

Rating: 3.

It has beds and a bathroom.  And pillows (shaped like cubes).

Game time is 12:05 tomorrow.  Talk to you then.

Jason

.

Stories From Above–Say Cheese Edition

Good morning from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, home of Hasbro….

I left the broadcast booth around 6:45 last night while our chat with Seth Bynum was playing in order to grab something to drink from the pantry at McCoy Stadium.  A gentleman in a navy coat was standing over the chocolate pie that had been placed on the counter.  I said hello to the man and he asked me how my night was.  We talked briefly about the weather and then got to the Nationals and their success this season.  The man seemed generally knowledgeable about the game (he knew the Nationals became good recently–how much more do you need?).  I said to the man, “Yeah, and they don’t even have Strasburg yet.”  His response baffled me, especially considering the 37-shaped bubble I’ve been in recently.  He said “Who?”  I repeated the name again.  With all the qualities of a man re-varnishing a deck while answering his wife, the gentleman said “Oh yeah, he’s good.”
I wanted to say, “Good!  Good?  He gave up one hit in 12 innings during our last homestand!  He made minor league hitters look like they didn’t even have bats!”
Instead, I realized–yet again–that our corner of the universe is just that, a corner.
————————–
The Chiefs staff this season has never coached together previously.  Trent Jewett, Syracuse’s skipper, spent the entirety of his career prior to last season in the Pirates organization.  Greg Booker, the pitching coach, made his mark in the Majors as a player and coach with the Padres.  Jerry Browne was predominantly an American League player, suiting up for Texas, Oakland and Cleveland before finishing his career with the nascent Marlins.
They all have had success and longevity in the game.  With longevity comes……
The Baseball Card of Doom.
Each season, as you traders well know, players pose for the camera so their likenesses can be placed on the front of baseball cards.  A player’s career statistics can be traced through the line of cards.  Sadly, the player’s tastes in hair, facial expression and personality also are exhibited by these cards.
For each player, it seems, there is one year’s card which exemplifies sheer regret in those categories.  There is one card which says to the person on the front, “Yeah, you thought this was cool.  There’s no turning back.  Deal with it.”   It is the passing of generations in glossy 2.5 X 3.5 form.
This card is the Baseball Card of Doom.
McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket is the perfect location to find such remembrances.  Because the stands are raised above the field, autograph seekers lower their memorabilia on strings to field level. Batting practice at McCoy is like watching 50 simultaneous mine rescue missions.  Some people lower bats to the ground, others choose gloves.  More daring folks drop binders full of well-organized baseball cards near the dugout.  
Inside one of the binders at yesterday’s game was this:
IMG_0113.jpg
For Greg Booker, this is the Baseball Card of Doom.
Note the stylish break in the moustache.  It says “I don’t go all the way across–because I’m too sleek for that.”  A telltale sign of a BCoD–prominent facial hair which has long since departed.  
The issue here for Book, to be fair, is not his own doing.  The Padres uniform at the time was rather unfashionable.  If there is ever a market for taxi drivers who also serve hot dogs to their customers, the 1980s Padres duds would be a superb model for dress for the cabbie-doggers.  Considering Ray Kroc’s seminal achievement in American history (see also golden arches), this is not surprising. 
There are endless baseball card pictures on the web right now.  I encourage each and every one of you to search for the Baseball Card of Doom for current and former Chiefs.  Send them our way at jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com.  We’ll post them either here on the blog or on twitter @ChiefsRadio.
Game two tonight at McCoy starting at 6:05.  We’ll be on the air at 5:30 with the On Deck show at 620 AM locally or sportsradio620.com on the web.
Yours in timeless photography,
JB
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