Monthly Archives: August 2010

Photoblog: By The Bridge

Photoblog: Bicycle Vs. Train, I

My friend took the D train, I took my bike, and we raced to a bakery in Lower Manhattan on a Sunday morning. I won the race, and then biked over the Williamsburg Bridge. Along the way I came across Summer Streets!

Minor League Spotlight: Frisco RoughRiders

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

The Frisco RoughRiders mirror their major league affiliate in a lot of ways. They’re named after a United States volunteer cavalry, along the same lines of the Texas Rangers being named in honor of the first state run law enforcement division of the country. They’re also relatively ‘young’ compared to the teams throughout their league, and they’ve reached the playoffs just three times, the same number of times as the Rangers. One major difference with that final point, is that the RoughRiders will reach the postseason in 2010 for the 4th time in their 8 year history. Interestingly enough, the big league club looks poised to join their Class AA affiliate in the postseason hunt as well. The RoughRiders have a lot to do with that, both through history as stepping stones of current players and recent trades that have changed the big leagues hopes for the better.

In 2003, the Texas Rangers moved their Double A affiliate to Frisco, Texas; just about an hour north of where the big league squad plays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Though the team is not even a decade old, there have been several future All Stars key players on the current 40 man major league roster that have put in time in Frisco before reaching the big leagues. Perhaps most notably today is C.J. Wilson, the current ace of the Rangers, who logged parts of three seasons with the RoughRiders before sticking with the big league club in 2006. In addition to Wilson, current Rangers include Ian Kinsler, Elvis Adrus, Julio Bordon and closer Naftali Feliz among the players that have spent quite a few games with the Double A Affiliate. The team has produced such talent, that during the off-season, Chris Moore of Examiner.com argued that the team should be bumped up to the Triple A!

There are a number of future MLB players that gained fame after leaving the organization as well. Former RoughRider Edinson Volquez won 17 games in his first season with the Cincinnati Reds following a trade, and John Danks provided a solid back end in the White Sox rotation during their 2008 postseason run. However, the most famous former Frisco RoughRider to date is arguably Armando Galarraga, the Oakland Athletics pitcher who lost a perfect game on June 5th of this year due to an umpire’s error.

It’s impossible for teams to judge exactly which prospects will end up being the next Armando Galarraga , but the Texas Rangers have shown they’re not afraid to take a gamble with pulling the trigger on trades that can help them right now. Earlier this season, the team traded Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matthew Lawson along with prized future star Justin Smoak to the Seattle Mariners in return for an ace in Cliff Lee. The trade benefited the Rangers immediately, as Lee takes joins C.J. Wilson in a powerful 1-2 punch that looks to solidify the lead for the A.L. West title. This trade coupled with another that sent pitcher Evan Reed to the Florida Marlins for Jorge Cantu and a third trade of Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatsuko to the Washington Nationals for Christian Guzman has left the team dizzy.

The RoughRiders felt an immediate impact to their own playoff hopes, as their best pitcher, a quality reliever, and solid piece of their offense were shipped out to the Seattle Mariners. A team that dominated the Texas League with a 38-31 first half to clinch a playoff spot have since gone 23-28 during the second half of their season. Fortunately for Frisco fans, it seems as though the team might be pulling itself together despite the barrage of roster changes. Chris Moore highlighted a recent thrashing the RoughRiders gave the Tulsa Drillers.

Jason Cole of the Lone Star Dugout for Scout.com is another writer who follows the RoughRiders and highlights the entire organization. He has featured a number of interviews with prospects that have been part of big and small trades this season. Active on twitter, he is a must follow for anyone who wants to learn about exactly what makes up an intricate deal such as the one that sent three RoughRiders and Justin Smoak to the Seattle Mariners. In addition to his great articles, Cole tweets updates on all of the happenings throughout the Texas Rangers organization.

As the postseason nears, the Minor League Spotlight will keep tabs on how the RoughRiders’ shuffled roster shapes up. Follow along with the RoughRiders on Facebook and on Twitter @RidersBaseball!

Previous Spotlights:

Stay Tuned: Keep an eye on Baseball Digest.com for an all-new Minor League Spotlight next week!

Photoblog: Ride To The Movies

Minor League Spotlight: Brooklyn Cyclones

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

Before 2001, the borough of Brooklyn in New York City went without its own baseball team for more than forty years. As part of a revitalization plan, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani brought two teams to the city; the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees. Like their big league counterparts, the Cyclones and “Baby Bombers” have developed a rivalry over the last decade that matches only the one between the major league affiliates in the same city. With only 13 miles between the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees, they play closer to each other than any two baseball organizations.

Though the Cyclones are officially the New York Mets Single A affiliate, there is a great deal of connections made between the Coney Island squad and the major league Brooklyn Dodgers who left decades earlier. Their mascots, Pee Wee and Sandy The Seagull, are named in honor of famous Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers Sandy Koufax and Pee Wee Reese. Along the rows of seats, the ends are emblazoned with the interlocking “NY” symbol and the original Brooklyn Dodgers “B”.

Outside of MCU Park, there is a bronze statue of Pee Wee Reese putting his arm around Jackie Robinson. The statue commemorates the time during the 1947 season when Reese showed his support for the future Hall of Fame second baseman who was the first player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

With the recent opening Luna Park,an amusement park located right next to the famous Cyclone roller coaster and down the street from the home of the Cyclones, the team is located in the middle of a major revitalization of Coney Island. With the original Cyclone and the Parachute Jump as a backdrop to MCU Park, the great past of Coney Island seems to quite literally touch the great future of the area.

On the field, the Brooklyn Cyclones are playing more closely to the level of talent of the old Brooklyn Dodgers than the current New York Mets. The Brooklyn Cyclones lead the New York-Penn League with a 35-16 record, 4 wins more than the closest team. They have lost just 5 times at home this season, and hold a 9 game lead over the second place Hudson Valley Renegades in the McNamara division.

Like most minor league teams, the Cyclones have long had great promotions to bring fans to the ballpark, and it seems as though this season they’re leading the league in promotions as well as wins. Several weeks ago the Cyclones hosted a “Jersey? Sure!” night, complete with a jersey giveaway featuring Sandy the Seagull fist-pumping on the back. Over the years, they have held bobblehead giveaways, had medieval knights sword fighting between innings, and at one time changed their name to the Baracklyn Cyclones in honor of President Obama.

The Cyclones have always had a way with paying tribute to their Mets and Brooklyn connections, and not just off the field with promotions and stadium designs. The current manager of the Cyclones, Wally Backman, was a long time member of the New York Mets during the 1980s, playing second base. The .283 career hitter with the Mets rose to the occasion during the 1986 World Series, hitting .333 against the Boston Red Sox. Backman follows in a trend by the Mets to hire former players to manage in the minors, specifically the Cyclones. The first skipper of the team, Edgar Alfonzo, is the older brother of Edgardo Alfonzo, who logged 7 seasons at second base for the New York Mets. Howard Johnson, Tim Teufel, and Mookie Wilson round out the list of former players who have donned the Mets uniform and the Cyclones uniform later as managers. In addition to having a major league influence at the helm, there have been 25 players who have played for the Cyclones that have reached the Major Leagues, including current New York Mets Ike Davis, Angel Pagan and Jenrry Mejia.

Between BaseballDigest.com’s and GothamBaseball.com’s coverage of the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees, there is no shortage of outlets for finding out what’s happening with the rising stars of both New York City minor league teams. Most recently, GothamBaseball.com highlighted the “New York Feel” that the upcoming NY-Penn All Star Game that will feature 8 Brooklyn Cyclones and 5 Staten Island Yankees on the roster as the Baby Bombers host the sixth annual all star game.

The Brooklyn Cyclones are among the teams that have latched onto the social networks of Twitter and Facebook to reach their fans. They have utilized Facebook to offer fan-only prizes and giveaways. As the dog days of summer are here, catching the Brooklyn Cyclones after a trip to Nathan’s for a hot dog seems like a no brainer, considering they may be the hottest team in Single A baseball.

Previous Spotlights:

Stay Tuned: Keep an eye on Baseball Digest.com for an all-new Minor League Spotlight next week featuring the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double A Affiliate of the Texas Rangers!

Photoblog: Shore Ride

Photoblog: Long Day, Long Ride