Sunday, March 28, 2010

SPS 3/20/10: Ben Revere – OF

Being a short, charismatic outfielder with an ear-to-ear smile in the Twins system will immediately conjure up images of Kirby Puckett for the Minnesota faithful. Enter Ben Revere, the highly touted prospect who not only brings about Puckett references for his looks, but also for his all-out attitude on the field.

The 21 year-old was drafted by the Twins with the 28th overall pick in 2008. He is about to enter his 4th season with the organization and is quickly rising up the ranks of a crowded outfield that is packed with talent on all levels. Revere is currently the 5th best prospect in the system according to Baseball America and he sits somewhere between current Major Leaguer Denard Span and #1 prospect Aaron Hill on the Twins center field depth chart.

Revere possesses breakneck speed on the base paths, racking up 110 stolen bases in only 254 Minor League games. Baseball America praises him as “the best pure hitter in the organization and one of the best in the minors.” He has below average power and arm strength and makes up for his rough outfield routes and reads with his speed.

There is no doubt that Revere is a tailor-made, Major League leadoff hitter and center fielder. His raw talent will be rounded out with another year in the minors, which will start in 2010 with the New Britain Rock Cats. Now the only thing Revere needs to do is find a place with the big club in a crowded race for the center field spot.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Did you know that…

…before becoming the Vermont Lake Monsters, the team was the last professional club to use Expos as their name?

At the end of 2004 baseball season the Montreal Expos announced that they would be moving to Washington D.C. and would change their team name to the Nationals. Minor League Baseball allows teams 60 days from the end of a season to submit a change of name and logo for the following season. This rule left the Expos’ Minor League affiliate in Vermont with no time to make the change, so in 2005 they maintained the Expo moniker while the big club started their new life as the Nationals.

During the 2005 season the Vermont Expos received over 30,000 team name suggestions from fans and in the end Lake Monsters won out. The name refers to the mythical creature located in nearby Lake Champlain. It’s the American version of the Loch Ness Monster who is affectionately known as “Champy.” A mascot version of the creature, named “Champ”, has been around since the team started playing in Burlington in 1994. This new team name allowed the organization to hold on to a bit of their local identity (and the mascot suit).

They did update the logo, opting for a fiercer version of “Champy” or “Champ” (the choice is yours), trading his goofy wagging tongue for a bat in his mouth. The team holds an annual “Tribute to the Expos” game, bringing in former Expos greats while the team dons the old powder blue unis.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Promo Days

Starting on April 8th, four of the seven Minor League teams in New England will begin regular season play. As a public service from us here at Beyond Fenway to you the fans, we are giving you a heads up prior to each month of the coolest promos that each team has in store. Minor League teams always go above and beyond in giving that “little bit extra” to their supporters. If you have never been to a Minor League game, find the promo that best suits you and go!

The entertainment between innings is just as fun as the game sometimes. Last year I attended “Tribute to the Lunch Lady” at a Minor League game in Charleston, South Carolina where they handed out hair nets and had a Sloppy Joe making contest, among numerous other hilarious games and events throughout the night. But enough about me, let’s see if there is something to tickle your fancy more locally in April (I see you Star Wars Day!!):

Pawtucket Red Sox
April 8th – Opening Night/Photo Ball Day (As if the excitement of the home opener isn’t enough, the PawSox will be handing out a “Photo Ball” to the first 4,000 fans age 14 and under.)
April 25th – Star Wars Day (The 2nd Annual Star Wars Day mind you! Although there isn’t much more info about this event…but seriously, you either like Star Wars or you don’t, and if you like it, then you’ll like this because I’m sure someone dressed as Chewbacca will be there.)
April 30th – Post-Game Fireworks (If you can’t wait until the 4th of July…like really, really can’t wait…then all you have to do is wait through nine innings of baseball and BAM, you got pyrotechnics to scratch your itch.)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats
April 16th & April 30th
– Atlas Fireworks Show (If you realllllllly can’t wait until the 4th of July, or the 30th of April…then check out the post-game fireworks after the Fisher Cats game on the 16th….or wait until the 30th, what do I care?)
April 17th – Ted Williams Bobblehead Giveaway (Insert Ted Williams frozen head joke here. First 2,000 fans get a free Bobblehead doll of the greatest Red Sox player of all time.)
April 18th – Fisher Cats Kid Jersey Giveaway (First 1,000 kids through the gate get a Fisher Cats jersey.)
April 21st – EnergyNorth Propane Education Day (This is what the website says, “Join the Fisher Cats as Stadium turns into an educational playgroud with the Fisher Cats Entertainment Experience along with interactive learning exhibits throughout the ballpark during EnergyNorth Propane Educational Day”…I am still at a loss for what’s going to happen this night, but should something blow up, you heard it here first. Hank Hill’s appearance has not been confirmed btw.)

Portland Sea Dogs
April 17th
– Magnet Schedule Giveaway (I’m a sucker for these things. There is something to be said about checking for upcoming games while you drink straight from a carton of juice. First 1,500 fans take advantage of this one.)
April 18th – Futures Game (Since the Sox Dogs are playing the Yankees AA affiliate Trenton, both teams will actually wear the uni of their respective big league club…thus giving you a Sox vs. Yanks game for you to watch.)
April 30th – Fireworks Night (I see an ongoing trend here for April 30th.)

New Britain Rock Cats
April 8th – Opening Day (Unfortunately the Rock Cats website doesn’t have any promo details for the upcoming season yet. Once that info is available, we will pass it along to you.)

So get out there and enjoy ALL that a Minor League experience has to offer…it’s more than just great baseball, I assure you. In the meantime, we’ll keep our eye on the promo schedule and keep you updated on the best events throughout the season.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Two weeks left…

…of Spring ball, so catch it while you can. First, my apologies for being a day late with this week’s television schedule. Second, ESPN has entered the mix, starting their annual, award-winning baseball coverage with Spring Training games at 1:00pm every weekday.

Without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, this week’s televised games:

Tuesday, March 23:
• Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets @ 1:00pm ESPN
• Chicago Cubs vs. Kansas City Royals @ 4:00pm MLB Network
• Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins@ 7:00pm MLB Network

Wednesday, March 24:
• Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braces @ 1:00pm ESPN
• Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago White Sox @ 4:00pm MLB Network
• Seattle Mariners vs. San Diego Padres @ 10:00pm MLB Network

Thursday, March 25:
• New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals @ 1:00pm ESPN
• Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ 4:00pm MLB Network
• Oakland Athletics vs. San Francisco Giants @ 10:00pm MLB Network

Friday, March 26:
• Atlanta Braves vs. Detroit Tigers @ 1:00pm ESPN
• Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers @ 4:00pm MLB Network
• Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago Cubs @ 9:00pm MLB Network

Saturday, March 27:
• Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers @ 5:00pm MLB Network
• Texas Rangers vs. Milwaukee Brewers @ 11:00pm MLB Network

Sunday, March 28:
• Minnesota Twins vs. Boston Red Sox @ 1:00pm NESN
• Cleveland Indians vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ 5:00pm
• Chicago Cubs vs. Seattle Mariners @ 9:00pm MLB Network

NOTE: Next week we will begin to highlight how you can catch the local Minor League action throughout the upcoming season, so please be sure to check in for that useful information.

ONLY 16 Days until MiLB Opening Day!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SPS 3/21/10: Casey Kelly – RHP

In today’s Sunday Prospect Series we take a look at a youngster who was once described as an “elite defensive shortstop.” After splitting his first two seasons in the minors between SS and pitching, Casey Kelly has decided that the mound is best route to the majors. Although he hit the ball well in his first season with Lowell, his bat began to slump as he rose through Single-A, making his decision a bit easier. That and the fact that this kid can flat-out pitch!

With his 6’2”, 200lbs frame, Kelly was a highly recruited baseball and football player out of high school. He turned down a full scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Tennessee after the Red Sox snatched him with the 30th overall pick in the 2008 draft. His athletic build provides him with a consistent, fluid pitching motion that has his fastball hovering around 92 mph. He also has a hard breaking 12-6 curveball and a changeup that comes through with the same arm speed as his heater, making it very deceiving for hitters.

His control and his mechanics are what make him so highly touted. He is rated in the Top 5 on every Red Sox Prospects list. He is currently the 2nd best prospect in the Sox system according to Baseball America, who indicates that he is a “future frontline starter.” Since the big club is loaded with some great talent on the mound, Kelly will be given the opportunity to polish his skills in the minors and he will be starting the 2010 campaign with the Portland Sea Dogs.

All of the reports that we read indicate that Kelly is already more advanced in his progress than anyone else at his age (20). It may be due to the baseball pedigree that he has flowing through his blood. His dad Pat played nine seasons in the majors as a second baseman.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Did you know that...

…when the Minor League Baseball team in New Britain changed its affiliate from the Red Sox to the Minnesota Twins in 1995 they were originally the Hardware City Rock Cats?

New Britain, Connecticut is affectionately known as "Hardware City" because it is the home to the tool and hardware giant Stanley Black & Decker. The team wanted to reference this congenial moniker and they spent their first two seasons with that title until they decided to switch over to the current New Britain option. In both seasons the team finished in 5th place with a record under .500.

Based on the only logo I could find, it was a wise decision to change the name. That cat shredding on a guitar is pretty brutal. They even gave him a leather jacket, a pompadour , sunglasses (although someone probably pitched them as "shades") and he's giving the metal horns with his right paw...YIKES! It's as if they commissioned the rights to the creation of the logo a huge Stray Cats fan.

Interview with Chris Cameron, Assistant GM of the Sea Dogs

Recently Beyond Fenway was lucky enough to get in touch with Portland Sea Dogs’ Assistant General Manager and Director of Media Relations Chris Cameron. He was gracious enough to take some time out of his busy schedule, planning for the upcoming season, to answer a few questions for us.

Beyond Fenway: What is the role of a minor league Assistant General Manager/Director of Media Relations?

Chris Cameron: Unlike a Major League General Manager or Assistant General Manager, at the Minor League level we do not get involved with any player movement. All of the baseball operations are handled by our Major League affiliate. We concentrate on running the business operations of the team; selling tickets, advertising, setting promotions, and we are responsible for the overall fan experience. With the Media Relations aspect, I am responsible for coordinating all player interviews with the media, stats, player appearances, press releases, website, community relations, and much more.

BF: What other roles have you held within the organization?

CC: I spent several years as the team’s Director of Ticketing.

BF: How do you manage to juggle all of the day-to-day tasks?

CC: We have a very small staff of 10 full-time employees. We all wear many hats and are forced to lend a hand in various departments to get everything done. We also hire ten interns each year to assist.

BF: You have been with the Sea Dogs for 11 seasons and have received numerous awards for your efforts, including being named the 2005 Public Relations Director of the Year for all Minor League Sports by What do you credit your success to and how do you continue to get better at what you do?

CC: I contribute much of my success to my educational background [Chris graduated from Southern New Hampshire University] and the high caliber staff in which I work with on a daily basis. I always try to continue building relationships and to not be complacent with our success. I attend several meetings each year to learn what other teams are doing to continue improving the organization.

BF: With regards to the game itself, there seems to be a growing trend in Minor League Baseball. The AAA affiliate used to be the last stop for a player before the majors. Now it seems that more and more teams are bringing up their best prospects from AA. Is this an organizational trend or is this more the norm nowadays and how do you adjust for such measures being the AA team for the Boston Red Sox?

CC: This is pretty much the norm around the baseball industry now. It is great for the Sea Dogs, as we can market these guys as being just a phone call away from the Red Sox.

BF: How do you deal with the high turnover rate within minor league ball?

CC: Minor League Baseball isn’t about winning. It is about developing players for the Major Leagues. Winning is a bonus. So a high turnover rate is often good, it means you are developing players and moving them up on the ladder. As a result of the high turnover rate, and the fact that the baseball operations are beyond our control, we try to market the fan experience rather than the current players. We also market off of all the former players who have come through Portland who are now having big league success.

BF: How soon into Spring Training does a minor league team begin to shape its roster?

CC: We have a pretty good feel going into Spring Training what our roster will look like. However, there are so many variables, such as injuries, performance, trades, etc., that happen during spring training that the roster is constantly changing. We will not know for sure what our roster is until the guys actually board the plane and head to Portland. Even then it could change!

BF: Give us some good reasons to check out the Portland Sea Dogs in 2010?

CC: You are seeing the future stars of the Boston Red Sox! You don’t even have to like baseball to have a good time. It is fun, family oriented, inexpensive entertainment and prices range between $4 and $9. You won’t find a better deal! [We couldn’t agree more…these are the perfect reasons to catch some Minor League action of ANY kind.]

Cameron lives his job, putting in 100 hour weeks without hesitation. He credits it to treating the industry as a lifestyle, one that he is overly passionate about. Despite the long hours he does find time to enjoy some snowshoeing, kayaking, bowling and NASCAR. [It’s time to put the snowshoes away and get the kayak ready!]

Cameron is also involved with STRIVE, an organization dedicated “to addressing the many issues faced by young adults (ages 15-24) with disabilities”. He volunteers his time as part of the STRIVE Steering Committee, explaining how “it is very rewarding to give back to the community.” You can learn more about STRIVE and the great things they do by clicking HERE.

The Sea Dogs will be stacked with some amazing talent this season, so be sure to get out and support the organization. It’s a great time for the whole family which won’t break the bank.

Monday, March 15, 2010

TV Schedule: Week of 3/15 – 3/21

As Spring Training rolls on, so does the TV coverage. Here is the upcoming schedule of televised games for this week.

Monday, March 15:
• Toronto Blue Jays vs. Detroit Tigers @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Cleveland Indians vs. Milwaukee Brewers @ 5:00pm MLB Network
• Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins @ 8:00pm NESN
• Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox @ 10:00pm MLB Network

Tuesday, March 16:
• Florida Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• San Francisco Giants vs. Cleveland Indians @ 5:00pm MLB Network
• Detroit Tigers vs. Philadelphia Phillies @ 10:00pm MLB Network

Wednesday, March 17:
• New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox @ 12:00pm NESN
• Atlanta Braves vs. Florida Marlins @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers @ 4:00pm MLB Network
• Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners @ 10:00pm MLB Network

Thursday, March 18:
• Houston Astros vs. Detroit Tigers @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees @ 7:00pm MLB Network
• Milwaukee Brewers vs. Texas Rangers @ 11:00pm MLB Network

Friday, March 19:
• St. Louis Cardinals vs. Florida Marlins @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays @ 7:00pm MLB Network
• Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox @ 11:00pm MLB Network

Saturday, March 20:
• Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox @ 1:00pm NESN
• Philadelphia Phillies vs. Detroit Tigers @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants @ 5:00pm MLB Network
• Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Seattle Mariners @ 10:00pm MLB Network

Sunday, March 21:
• Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox @ 1:00pm NESN
• Baltimore Orioles vs. Philadelphia Phillies @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Texas Rangers vs. San Diego Padres @ 5:00pm MLB Network
• Colorado Rockies vs. Kansas City Royals @ 11:00pm MLB Network

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SPS 3/14/10: Moises Sierra - OF

With a cannon for an arm and the momentum of a breakout season in 2009, Moises Sierra is poised to make great strides in 2010. After a few years toiling around the Single-A circuit for the Blue Jays, Sierra finally broke through with Hi-A Dunedin last year. After averaging .241 at the plate in his prior 3 seasons, he batted .285 in 110 games, with 6 homers and 62 RBI. He got bumped up to AA New Hampshire for the final 8 games of the season, where he remained hot, pulling a .353 batting average in that span.

The 21 year-old Dominican now enters his 5th season in the Blue Jays organization with a chance to prove his worth. He is currently listed as the 11th best prospect in the Jays’ system according to Baseball America. He has one of the best outfield arms in all of minor league baseball (rating 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale) and has been compared to the likes of Raul Mondesi and George Bell in that regard. He is highly capable of hitting for average as his 2009 numbers show and his power numbers should continue to increase as he develops up through the system and becomes more patient at the plate. He is set to pick up where he left off with AA New Hampshire and is expected to be an everyday player with the Fisher Cats.

SPS UPDATE – Last week’s SPS, Jose Iglesias has been optioned to AA Portland. No update on Loek yet, but I assure you that I am scouring the world to find some sort of update for you.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Did you know that...

…the New Britain Rock Cats are briefly featured in the movie Major League 3?

Well, yeah…of course you didn’t know that. That would require you to actually watch Major League 3…or even Major League 2 if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything in the intricate plot that doesn’t bridge the movies in any way shape or form.

Anyways, I flipped on Major League 3 the other day so that I could take a nice nap without missing anything important in the world. I noticed early in the movie, when the golden triumvirate of Scott Bakula, Corbin Bersen and Ted McGinley go to check out minor league stud prospect Billy “Downtown” Johnson, that he was wearing the familiar NB hat and Rock Cats pin-striped jersey. This was a nice little shout-out to one of our local nine. Unfortunately, due to the inclusion of McGinley on this project, all teams involved immediately tanked!

Seriously though, this movie is pretty brutal and I did fall asleep shortly after the Rock Cats scene. Yet I can’t help but take a moment to pump the original Major League, which I had the pleasure of catching on either USA or TNT last weekend. Granted you do need to see an unedited version to hear President Palmer from 24 say, “Fuck you Jobu”, but my main point is that this movie still holds up as one of the best baseball flicks of all time. I will never NOT watch this when it is on. As for Major League 2…yeah, let’s just quit while we’re ahead.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Got Some Hair to Spare?

The Portland Sea Dogs and local radio station 99.9 The Wolf are teaming up to put together a cool event where fans can donate their hair and receive two free tickets to that night's game. The "All the Hair You Can Spare" event will take place on Wednesday, May 12th, from 4:30 pm to 6:00pm. All hair donations will benefit the American Cancer Society and go towards making wigs to help out cancer patients. That's a pretty cool reason to get some hair lopped off. The only provision is that you must have 10 inches of non-chemically treated hair available for the taking. I know it sounds like a lot (and yes I'm looking at you ladies), but I assure you it will grow back and you'll be helping out those who might not have that luxury.

So let's run down the checklist here. Helping out a great cause, CHECK. Having your hair cut by a talented, professional stylist, thus ensuring a new, trendy head of hair, CHECK. Getting two free tickets to see the Portland Sea Dogs play the Binghamton Mets (all while showing of your sick new haircut), CHECK. If this is not enough motivation, if you want in but just can't find transportation, then I will personally volunteer to drive you there and back! Do you really need more incentive? OK, if you actually go through with this, then I will shave my head in solidarity...there, it's all on the table now!

If you seriously want to get in on this, you must make a reservation for a donation spot. To do so, contact Liz Riley in the Group Sales office at 207-874-9300 or I'm sure she would gladly answer any additional questions you may have as well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Upcoming TV Schedule

Here are some televised Spring Training games for you to check out this week. Again, as we mentioned last week, this is a great chance to catch the prospects in action alongside some of the best in the biz. Also, be sure to check out next Sunday’s Sox/Twins matchup in case our first two Sunday Prospects get a chance to face off against each other!

Monday, March 8:
• Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Seattle Mariners vs. Milwaukee Brewers @ 7:00pm MLB Network

Tuesday, March 9:
• Detroit Tigers vs. Washington Nationals @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves @ 7:00pm MLB Network
• Houston Astros vs. New York Mets @ 11:00pm MLB Network

Wednesday, March 10:
• Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers @ 3:00pm MLB Network
• Baltimore Orioles vs. Pittsburgh Pirates @ 7:00pm MLB Network

Thursday, March 11:
• Boston Red Sox vs. New York Mets @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees @ 7:00pm MLB Network

Friday, March 12:
• New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Cleveland Indians @ 7:00pm MLB Network

Saturday, March 13:
• Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox @ 1:00pm NESN
• Minnesota Twins vs. Philadelphia Phillies @ 1:00pm MLB Network

Sunday, March 14:
• Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Yankees @ 1:00pm MLB Network
• Minnesota Twins vs. Boston Red Sox @ 1:30pm NESN
• Cleveland Indians vs. San Diego Padres @ 5:00pm MLB Network

SPS 3/7/10: Jose Iglesias

This week’s Sunday Prospect Series takes a look at Jose Iglesias. He is the most highly anticipated infielder to come into the Red Sox farm system since the Nomar Era. The hype machine began for Iglesias the day he decided to defect from his native Cuba back in 2008. A year later the Red Sox signed the then 19 year-old to a 4 year deal worth $8.2 million, which included a club-record $6 million signing bonus. That’s a boatload of loot for a teenager, but those numbers show how much confidence the Sox have that Iglesias is the future of the shortstop position for the big club.

His on-field numbers tell us the story of a slick fielding infielder who has been described as having “lightening-fast hands, quick feet and (a) strong arm.” He has been compared to Ozzie Smith and Orlando Cabrera for his fielding prowess (Beyond Fenway bows at the altar of Ozzie Smith, so I assure you that this is a VERY good thing!). His range, hands and arm have all been rated as high as can be and he is already being called a Gold Glove shortstop in the making.

His question marks come at the plate where his 175 pound frame seems to lack major power. He is a contact hitter with a quick bat, but at times his patience at the plate is questionable. This should improve as he gets more playing time with comparable talent. I think anything he can add offensively will be a bonus as he was signed with the sole intent of being the defensive backbone of the organization. His speed has been listed as “above average”, so expect him to also improve on the base paths before he reaches Fenway.

Baseball America has him down as the 9th best prospect in the Red Sox system and that ranking is sure to rise throughout the season. Experts are predicting that he will start the season with AA Portland, so this will give you an excellent chance to check out the shortstop of the future for the Sox. Sometimes a player like this can be too hyped, but based on what he has showed so far in Spring Training, all of the above is holding true to form for Iglesias.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Did you know that… 1946 the Nashua Dodgers of the class-B New England League became the first professional baseball team based in the United States to use black baseball players?

Catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe joined the minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Spring of ’46. The Dodger’s affiliate in Danville, Illinois refused to accept the black players. That season the 19 year-old Campanella went on to win the league’s Most Valuable Player Award and Newcombe went on to win 14 games.

The Dodgers other minor league team in Montreal was where Jackie Robinson first played professional ball in the same season. Of course by now we all know that Robinson became the first African-American baseball player in the major leagues and “Campy” and "Newk" were right behind him. Campanella would go on to win three more MVP awards, but all of them with the big club. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. Newcombe went on to play 11 seasons in the majors and to this day is the only player in history to win a Rookie of the Year Award, Most Valuable Player Award and Cy Young Award award in his career.

The Nashua Dodgers did not share the same success as their two greatest players. The team existed from 1946 to 1949 when the New England League folded.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A trip to the mound...

Just a heads up that MLB Network kicks off their Spring Training coverage with a live game today at 1:00pm featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates and the World Series Champion New York Yankees. This is an awesome chance to see some prospects get some playing time on television, while wearing the "big-boy" uniforms! Just look for the late-inning subs wearing numbers in the 70s and 80s. Here is MLB Network's schedule of games through the end of this week:

Today - Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Yankees @ 1:00pm

Tomorrow - St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Mets @ 1:00pm
New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Philles @ 7:00pm
Chicago White Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ 11:00pm

Friday - Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees @ 1:00pm
Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds @ 7:00pm

Saturday - Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees @ 1:00pm
Chicago White Sox vs. Los Angeles Dodgers @ 7:00pm

Sunday - Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles @ 1:00pm
Oakland A's vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ 7:00pm

Live, regional coverage of the Boston Red Sox at Spring Training begins tomorrow on NESN when they face off against Boston College at 1:00pm.

Check your local listings(I've ALWAYS wanted to say that).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Success Is Not a One Man Game

The Pawtucket Red Sox have cemented themselves as the premiere minor league baseball team in the New England area. This was not always the case as the team almost departed the region after only three seasons in Rhode Island. In 1977, on the verge of extinction, the team was purchased by retired businessman Ben Mondor who urged a then 25-year-old Mike Tamburro to work alongside him as President of the club.

Thirty three years later Tamburro is still helping to provide the best baseball experience for the PawSox and their fans. He stands as an example of how hard work, dedication and determination can bring success. During a recent phone call with, I mentioned his tenure to him, to which he chuckled with amazement and asked, “Has it been that long? I stopped counting years ago.”

Without missing a beat he went on to add, “When we started this we wanted to bring something new and innovative to the game. Our goal since Day 1 has been to provide quality, family entertainment at the lowest possible price. It hasn’t been easy. We have worked hard to get to this point.” The results are proof of the efforts made.

Since his arrival in Pawtucket, Tamburro and company have helped transform a team that was pulling in 70,000 fans per season to one that continuously breaks attendance records, including 7 straight seasons of over 600,000. He is quick to laud the strength and stability of the senior staff in the front office, explaining how, “most of us have been together for over 20 years and this is our success.”
He excitedly adds, “It truly is an all-out team effort. There is no individual success in this organization.” It is this attitude that helped turn a franchise on the brink of collapse into one of the most respected organizations in all of minor league baseball.

His day-to-day duties as President of the team consist of working closely with the departmental managers to ensure that things are running smoothly within each facet of the organization. He conducts weekly meetings with all department heads, providing direction and cohesion so that all of the pieces fit nicely within the whole of the team. Be it the manager of concessions or the manager of the ballclub, Tamburro’s main goal is to “ensure that all employees have the tools to make their department a success.”

His work has earned him numerous awards during his career. In 2008 he became the only person to win the International League’s Executive of the Year award on five separate occasions. “I just so happen to be the person in the position that they give the awards to,” Tamburro humbly states. He paused a moment and seemed hesitant to accept any direct praise thrown his way. “These awards are not an individual recognition. They symbolize the efforts of everyone within the organization.”

Since he has a proven track record as an executive, Tamburro has also been called upon for many other high level positions in the game. He is a member and the former Chairman of the Board for Minor League Baseball. He also balances his time as part of the Professional Baseball Executive Council and he serves as a Director for the International League.

The results that he and his staff have provided for the Paw Sox prove that hard work, determination and a dedication to improve each season are not just things that he talks about, but are things that he and his staff actually accomplish. One point he is quick to make is that “there are no shortcuts. You must take the long, hard way to succeed over time in this business.”

His overall tone tells the story of an extremely modest man who attributes all of his success to an overall, organizational effort. The sincerity that Tamburro exudes was noticeable throughout our conversation. It was a bit like talking with my dad about baseball. There was delight in just talking about the game itself and his being able to work around it every day has provided endless joy for him.

Whether he is hyping the brand new 22’x38’ video board at McCoy Stadium or talking fondly about his wife and two daughters, his friendly nature and exuberance shine through in all that he does and his excitement about the team is infectious. You can hear the pride in his voice when he speaks of the job that they have accomplished in Pawtucket. “But the work is never done,” Tamburro said, “You must continue to try and getter better every single year.”