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Trenton Thunder

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Most of you know STRIKE

Who Needs a Nickname?… Tourists Comic Strip Blows up.. and a Home Opener..

 

 Asheville’s
home opener on Tuesday ended up in a 7-5 loss to the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
The Tourists smacked another ten hits and five runs but came up just short in
the ninth. UNCA’s Kevin Mattison snatched a game-tying double away from

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Bo
Bowman to end the game and send the Tourists to a 1-4 start. What may have been
lost in the shuffle was an outstanding performance by most of Asheville’s bullpen, including hometown
favorite Allan DeRatt, Adam Jorgenson and Tyler Trice who is our topic of
conversation today.

            Trice, from UNC Chapel Hill, has a great baseball name
and it might just be ripe for a nickname. The scouting book on Trice is not
full of praise for a great pitch, power or pizzazz, but he does show poise.
Trice (although saddled with the opening day loss in an inning that feel apart
with some poor defense) picked up a scoreless 
1-2-3 innings on Tuesday, reflecting his 2008 UNC numbers.. check it
out:

20 Games, 17 2/3 IP, 21K
and a 2.04 ERA… so perhaps he did not put up any dominant strikeout numbers or a
blistering 95 MPH fastball, but Trice was good enough to be selected in the 21st
round by the Rockies last year. So For a guy with not a lot of sizzle, but
hopefully with great production a nickname is truly in order.. suggestions are
required.. Her is what we came up with:

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Asheville already has two of these…


   T-rice-
Every great player has some sort of play on his first and last name. T-Rice
works both with first (Tyler)
and last (Trice) names in the mix.. The best way to judge if a name can work is
based on how it sounds in-game. Imagine PA announcer Rick Rice giving the
introduction at McCormick Field…”Now pitching for your Asheville Tourists from Cherryville, NC..
number 33 … Tyler, TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT-RICE…” and the crowd roars.. Put that
sizzle in your steak…. This can also develop over time into T-dog, T-Mn, Mr. T,
T-fired rice and many more…

 

 

Some of the great
nicknames are based off not the name but the person and type of player.. think
the late-“Bird” Fydrich or Ernie Lombardi and “The Schnozze” For these purposes
we will stick to the name itself.. our second options could be..

 

Thrice –  This one is fairly self
explanatory. Could be used as “Once, Twice, Thrice you’re out”… or it’s “Thrice
up, Thrice down, Greensboro
retired in order”… something to that effect.

Perhaps we should just
stick with Tyler Trice, a right hander in the Tourists bullpen that is shaping
up to be solid this season.

 

On a side not the comic
strip has blown up and made ballpark digest http://www.ballparkdigest.com/

Enjoy.. Team plays two
today. Today’s Jeff’s Auto Sales Comic...IF IT IS TO BLURY, CLICK HERE AND MAGIC THINGS HAPPEN

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Raining From McCormick.. DeRatt Interview and Home Opener…

Forgive us for the brevity… slight drizzle coming down as everyone gets into position for the home opener. AS promised we have inserted the pre-game interview with UNCA”s Allan DeRatt.
Deratt.4.12.09.mp3 ..(click on the link for the interview) The Tourists put up five hits on Sunday and held Kannapolis to just one hit. The team welcomes Greensboro to town tonight (Monday) for a 4 game set.. see you at the park.!! !

How (hopefully) Asheville Got It’s Groove Back.. … On Easter Sunday.

So the Tourists dropped
both ends of a double header, with little offense and some poor defense. The
team has nine hits and nine errors through the first three games and ar eon the
verge of getting swept on Easter Sunday to begin  the season .We, here are road to the Rockies, wll continue to keep the positive attitude.
Seriously, it is only three games in and this league is accustomed to seeing
teams turn around and just get it. Christian Friedrich a first round draft pick
in 2008 will get the ball to avoid what happened only once all last season, the
unforgettable four game sweep.     

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Stella found here groove.. where is ours?


There is no doubt that the pitching (2.08 team ERA) is
the strong suite for this club and the adage goes (and was proven last year
with pitching dominance in the playoffs) pitching wins. So the Tourists can
focus on a great start from 8th round pick Parker Frazier and a
solid bullpen appearance from UNCA’s own Allan DeRatt.

            Game time up today at 5:05 for the final from Kannapolis with the team opening up Historic McCormick
Field at 7:05 on Monday against the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Again, the comics is
up, thanks to Jeff’s Auto Sales for the sponsorship and support.

CLICK HERE IF THE COMIC IS TOO SMALL TO READ

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Opening Day.. The Return of the Comic… and Optimism

    So, Asheville dropped the season opener 1-0 to Kannapolis in the bottom
of the 10th inning.. so what? We shall extract some positives, and turn
a blind eye to five errors and 14 strikeouts. Instead let us talk about
what could be the emergence of Robinson Fabian as a staff ace and
leader on the 2009 team. Fabian spun 6 shutout innings and racked up
four K’s to one walk and put the team in a position to win. Greg
Infante for Kannapolis may have caught the team off-guard with a steady
95 MPH fastball. Timing is off for some of these hitters, so try not to
cast them aside just yet.
    Pitching appeared to be the strong suite
for this club on paper when the roster where annouced last weekend and Fabian, backed by two shutout innings from
Aaron Weatherford out of the bullpen justified that belief. Tonight,
with rain coming down from Kannapolis, the Tourists will toss Parker
frazier, and 8th round pick out of high school from Tulsa, Ok. Frazier
has been praised as a dominant ground ball pitcher with great poise and
pedigree. Perhaps the wet conditions will aid him tonight.
As we
promised, and thanks to the great folks at Jeff’s Auto Sales, the comic
strip “Tales of a Tourist Hipster” is back and it begins tonight. Click on the link for the full version.. ENJOY  Hipster 4.9.png

BASEBALL GOT BACK BABY! AND SO IS THE BLOG….

We are back, we are
blogging and the Tourists open up the season tonight in the thriving metropolis
of Kannapolis (polis means city in ancient Greek, but I am sure we all knew
that) This season the weblog will be updated more frequently with more Tourists
cartoons, insightful insight, storied stories and fewer spelling errors, . errors.

    Does the Burger King Sponge Bob Baby Got Back Commercial make anyone else wonder about the limits of marketing as well?

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        The Tourists will be attempting to top their
better-than-everyone-else run to the postseason that started essentially here
in Kannapolis last season.  The great Chacin tossed eight innings and
allowed one hit as the Tourists took three of four from the Intimidators en
route to a great outstanding season. We
will try not to wax too poetic about last season’s “playoff caliber-four
all-star-MVP- Minor League Pitcher of the Year-No Hitter-RBI and SB king”
filled team, but you could
understand how that might be tough.

            That, my friends is all in the past and tonight 20 new
faces and five familiar ones will take the field to grab that spring hope and
watch it blossom into a well oiled machine that will take on any challengers
and crush all hope of opposition. Like a team full of RoboCops and Terminators…
or.. yeah…something to that effect.

       

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    As we will bring you the players, faces, names
backgrounds and games during the season, it seems appropriate to begin with one
face that has remained a constant in Asheville
baseball.. yes of course, the reigning back-to-back manager of the year Joe
Mikulik….

 

33% ? Not A Great Free
Throw Percentage….

Unless of course you are Memphis basketball or
perhaps 33% is how often you win Manager of the Year in the South Atlantic
League.  Joe Mikulik in nine seasons
(entering tenth, a record in itself but that’s for another time) as the skipper
for the Asheville
nine has won the award three times. So yes “technically” that’s 33.333333% or
so, but who’s really counting (unless you are a bank, than you KNOW no one is
counting how much tax payer money you have spent in regards to … oh never
mind).

 “Mik” may or may not think such a feat is a great
outstanding. In fact he may point to the development of so many players form Asheville to Colorado, or
in fact for our weblog purposes, from the Blue Ridge to the Rockies.
Take in consideration six of the starting nine players in the Rockies opening
day lineup played in Asheville
at one time. Or perhaps the 14 players on the 2007 wild world-series Rockies roster also had that distinction.

            To really marvel in Mik’s accomplishments is to look at
the league itself. The South Atlantic League has 16 members and ties the
largest minor league circuit. Only the Triple-A Pacific Coast League has as
many teams. Some leagues at higher levels (looking at you California,
Carolina and Texas leagues) have as few as eight members.
You don’t have to be an online poker player who sits at home all day drinking
Mountain Dew and eating girl scout cookies that you said you would pay for but
didn’t to know that the odds of winning an award or championship is
significantly diminished with more teams ad more hands trying to grab the pot.

            So as three-time manager of the year, those accolades may
be something small for Mikulik, but they are a constant reminder of the amount
of respect had for him by every player, coach and fan that he has touched in
some way. ENJOY THE SEASON.. comic strip debut tomorrow!

 

Baseball 101, All Stars and MVP’s

 

Ok, such as Western North Carolina went without rain for most of the month of August, the Blog has gone just as long without an entry. That drought ends today with Asheville wrapping up their three-game series with the Greenville Drive and begining their final series of the regular season against Augusta on Saturday before the playoffs begin on August 3rd.

 

Hey Now You’re An All-Star…

         Even Smashmouth thinks thats a lot of star power  
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This week the post season all star roster was announced and to nobody’s surprise the Tourist had a fair share of representation. Joe Mikulik earned manager of the year for the second straight season and Michael Mitchell, Helder Velazquez and Darin Holcomb all earned All-Star honors. On top of that domination, Jhoulys Chacin was tapped as the best right hander in the league despite leaving to High-A Modesto shortly after the All-Star break. The Tourists have more star power than the Democratic National Convention, all we need now is some Sheryl Crow.. oh wait here she is….  You can click here to hear the Tourists congratulations to there stars…

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 Did you say Dalmations..or Domination?

101.. that’s the amount of runs Darin Holcomb has batted in this season.  While the term
dalmations 2.jpg“101” might indicate either an introductory course for Biology or English class, Holcomb is the one doing the teaching in the SAL this season. Voted as the league MVP on Tuesday Holcomb’s numbers are atop the leader board in nearly every offensive category. His 46 doubles is one shy of the Asheville franchise record set by Hal Magert in 1937 and a six RBI night on Thursday pushed Holcomb up 101 driven in on the season. It ha been sheer dominations for the 12th round selection by Colorado. Holcomb has gone quietly about his business leading the Tourists into the playoffs and hopefully into the championship series. So while 101 might mean a Disney dalmation to some, for Holcomb it is another day at the ballpark and a season that has been anything but spotty.       

             

Lapin, Lindsay and Losses Oh My!

Asheville has endured two big losses -some would call spankings or whitewashings -  at the hands of the Columbus Catfish. Clearly Columbus is not the same team the Tourists beat seven of eight times in May as the Catfish are now tied with Asheville for second place in the second-half standings and are fighting for their post-season lives. However Asheville has received giant production from unexpected sources such as Brian Lapin (three homeruns in the past three games) and Brent Bowman.

    
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“Brian Lapin delivers the Championship Bulldog Power”

 

For Lapin it is a relief to see the Fresno State product pick up the pace and recover from injuries that he endured at the beginning of the season. Perhaps the emergence of Lapin can be better summed up by the famous cartoon character He-Man: “By the Power of Greyskull, I have POWER!.” The Rockies and Lapin knew that all along.


heman.jpgAs for Bowman, the Tourists are able to float along without Jeffrey Cunningham who is still recovering from a strained muscle. Bowman was called up from Tri City during the last homestand and has been making solid contact ever since. With Bowman in the lineup, Joe Mikulik has been able to use Darin Holcomb as the number three hitter and gives the skipper what looks to be a solid RBI style bat.

The pitching is a whole different concern and we will reserve judgment on Australian Shane Lindsay until his next couple of outings. Lindsay in a limited debut for Asheville had an impressive 2 2/3 innings pitched on Saturday and delivered explosive mid- 90’s fastballs before leaving in the third inning.

            To sum up some sentiments around the Park, here for everyone’s pleasure once again is the Comic strip. Enjoy. For the full readable version click here


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“WHAT IF THE TOURISTS HAD NOT WON THE FIRST HALF TITLE?’

Disclaimer: – There is no wining or crying tone in this article. Read it with a grin or in the words of Jack Black from the Movie High Fidelity it is “intended for a conversation stimulator man!” 

 

Jack Black.jpgYou might not remember, or maybe you do. It was not all that long ago. June 15th the Tourists entered the latter innings against Hickory needing some magic to pull out a first half championship. David Christensen delivered a prolific three-run blast and Joey Williamson held down the fort coming out of the bullpen as the Tourists won 8-6 to lock up a 2008 playoff birth over the Charleston RiverDogs.

 

It almost didn’t happen. Almost. A slippery slope to go down but lets assume for an instant that the team with the best record in baseball (68-39) had to go into a one game playoff against the RiverDogs. Toss aside the fact that the Tourists had handily beaten Charleston in six of eight games. The rules state that the tiebreaker to determine the first half champion is not a reflection of head-to head matchups, but instead it is a one-game playoff the next time the two teams meet.

 

Forget for a moment how ridiculous that rule is. Rules are there for a reason right? Or better put from John Goodman’s character in the movie The Big Lebowski “This is not Nam, there are rules”

 

lebowski.jpgSo, what if the Tourists did not win on June 15th? Imagine for a moment if the Tourists and the RiverDogs had tied to end the first half of the season. Marvel Comics used to have a titled called “What If?” where the writers would creat all sorts of crazy scenarios and the heroes all ended up dead or turned evil or the X Men would lose their powers and finish the book as barista’s at a local coffee shop. So in the same theme as those comics here is your What If?

 

 


what if.jpgThe Team goes into a funk, losing 7 of the next eight and 14 of 15 prompting everyone to start pointing fingers at one another.

 

The Entire team shaves their heads in protest of the archaic tie-breaker rule.

 

The Bus breaks down in the middle of July heading from Savannah to Charleston for the one-game playoff, causing several players to question the meaning of life and the plausibility of a higher power.

 

While waiting for AAA (the automotive service not the level of baseball) the team’s bald skulls get sun burnt so badly, three players are forced on the DL and Trainer Chris Dovey quits with the words “Rubbing bald heads with aloe vera is not in this job description”

 

The scheduled one-game playoff is rained out forcing the teams to play a doubleheader the following day. The “playoff” game is now a seven inning contest in front of 450 fans.

 

The New York Yankees send both Phillip Hughes and Carl Pavano for rehab appearances forcing Asheville to face two Major League arms in the playoff game. Both big leaguers hurl three innings and Jonathan Ortiz closes the game with a scoreless seventh.

 

Bruce Billings goes the full seven innings for the Tourists allows one run, a solo homer to Jesus Montero and the Tourists lose 1-0.

 

Okay, so some of that is out of the question, but truth be told the Tourists will face Phillip Hughes and Carl Pavano in the game tonight, in what could have been, may have been a playoff game. What if….What if…

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