March 2009

Full Speed Ahead

The last few weeks leading up to the season always seems to feel like the Star Wars movies whenever anybody makes the jump to hyperspace.  Everything starts coming at you very fast.  In just two weeks the Isotopes will begin their seventh season and first as Triple-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  As you’d imagine, the excitement for the new year has been ratcheted up quite a bit.  If you haven’t already, make plans to join us for Opening Day on April 9, for the beginning of a new era of Albuquerque baseball.   

With two weeks to go, the ‘Topes’ roster is also starting to take shape at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.   This week six players who could very well be Isotopes on April 9 were reassigned to Minor League camp, including ‘Topes’ fan-favorite Valentino Pascucci.  While the prospect of seeing the “Italian Bazooka” deposit baseballs over the scoreboard at Isotopes Park is great, Pascucci was having a terrific spring in big league camp and the fact he won’t be starting the season in L.A. is a little bit bittersweet.  In 12 games with the Dodgers this spring, Pascucci batted .429 (9×21) with three doubles, three homers (tied for second most on the team) and 10 RBI.   Hopefully after another stellar season with the Isotopes, Pascucci will get another chance at cracking the big league roster.  

Other players to be reassigned were INF Hector Luna, OF Mitch Jones, RHPs Nick DeBarr and Charlie Haeger and LHP Stephen Randolph.  Jones led the Dodgers with four home runs when he was in big league camp, so there’s a good chance the Isotopes’ lineup will have plenty of pop.

There is still much to be determined, so be sure to check back here as the 2009 ‘Topes roster takes shape!

125 Home of the Braves

On September 4, 1814 Baltimore attorney-turned prisoner exchange agent Francis Scott Key watched from a the British ship HMS Minden as English ships bombarded the city of Baltimore and Fort McHenry.  After a long, rainy, terrifying night, the fort held and triumphantly raised a large American flag (which at the time had 15 stars and 15 stripes), a sight that so moved Key that he penned a poem called “Defence of Fort McHenry.”  Key’s brother-in-law took the poem and set it to the music of “The Anacreontic Song,” composed by John Stafford Smith, which was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th-century club of amateur musicians in London. The poem and accompanying tune was then taken to a Baltimore printer, who produced broadsheets that were quickly picked up and reprinted by the city’s two newspapers.  The Star-Spangled Banner was born. 

In 1918, the tune was played at the World Series, inextricably linking it the national pastime forever. 

Key no doubt would have been delighted about the treatment his poem received last Saturday at Isotopes Park, as 125 singers came out to audition to perform the National Anthem at a ‘Topes game this season.  It was the largest turnout in the seven-year history of the event and testament to the excitement around Albuquerque for the upcoming baseball season, the Isotopes’ first as Triple-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

If you were one of the brave singers that auditioned, thanks for your patience and participation.  A huge thanks also to our great panel of local celebrity judges; Jaimey B. from 100.3 The Peak, Tony Lynn, Myles, and Nikki from Big-I 107.9, Antoinette Antonio from KOB-TV 4, and David Jubb from 610 The Sports Animal.   Lauren Farris from the Isotopes staff organized everything and did a great job, as usual.  

If you didn’t get a chance to audition and still want to sing at Isotopes Park, don’t fret.  Simply drop off a CD or video of you or your group performing the anthem at the Isotopes administrative offices located on the second floor of the ballpark.     

On the field, the Isotopes will play their first exhibition game this Friday, March 20 against the Columbus Clippers (Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) and Opening Day is right around the corner, April 9!   

 

 

It’s Perilous, not Perolous

When you hear the National Anthem 72 times during the course of a season, there are a few things that inevitably find their way under your skin.  The first is those singers who treat the National Anthem like an American Idol audition and carry out every note to show their “range,” thereby increasing the length of the song from its intended minute and a half to an excruciating five minutes.  It’s reminiscent of the classic Dancin’ Homer episode of the Simpsons where Bleeding Gums Murphy is singing the National Anthem at a Springfield Isotopes contest and a clock behind him reads 6:45.   As he continues through the song, the scene shifts to the Simpsons sitting slumped in their setas in left field bleachers before finally Bleeding Gums wraps up the song as the clock behind tolls 7:00.  Nothing can zap the energy from a crowd like a long National Anthem. 

The second, and granted this is pretty nit-picky, is people’s insistence on singing about the “per-OL-ous” fight instead of the “per-IL-ous” fight.  In the history of mankind, nothing has ever been in “perol.” 

With those two valuable nuggets of information, the Isotopes invite all of those interested in singing the National Anthem to come to Isotopes Park this Saturday, March 14 for open tryouts.  There is no need to reserve a spot, just show up to the park beginning at 10:00 AM and check-in.  Anthem auditions begin at 11:00 AM and will last until 1:00 PM.  

The auditions are part of a big day at Isotopes Park that includes an Open House complete with guided tours of the ballpark, a Select-A-Seat where prospective season ticket and mini-plan holders can literally pick their seat for the upcoming season, and the official on-sale of individual game tickets.  Everything starts at 10:00 AM and fans can buy tickets at the Isotopes Park Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone with Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, or on-line at www.ticketmaster.com, or www.albuquerquebaseball.com.   For the big dates (Opening Day, July 3, etc.) it’s a good idea to get tickets Saturday or else you’ll be in “peril” of missing out on all the great fun this year.

It's Perilous, not Perolous

When you hear the National Anthem 72 times during the course of a season, there are a few things that inevitably find their way under your skin.  The first is those singers who treat the National Anthem like an American Idol audition and carry out every note to show their “range,” thereby increasing the length of the song from its intended minute and a half to an excruciating five minutes.  It’s reminiscent of the classic Dancin’ Homer episode of the Simpsons where Bleeding Gums Murphy is singing the National Anthem at a Springfield Isotopes contest and a clock behind him reads 6:45.   As he continues through the song, the scene shifts to the Simpsons sitting slumped in their setas in left field bleachers before finally Bleeding Gums wraps up the song as the clock behind tolls 7:00.  Nothing can zap the energy from a crowd like a long National Anthem. 

The second, and granted this is pretty nit-picky, is people’s insistence on singing about the “per-OL-ous” fight instead of the “per-IL-ous” fight.  In the history of mankind, nothing has ever been in “perol.” 

With those two valuable nuggets of information, the Isotopes invite all of those interested in singing the National Anthem to come to Isotopes Park this Saturday, March 14 for open tryouts.  There is no need to reserve a spot, just show up to the park beginning at 10:00 AM and check-in.  Anthem auditions begin at 11:00 AM and will last until 1:00 PM.  

The auditions are part of a big day at Isotopes Park that includes an Open House complete with guided tours of the ballpark, a Select-A-Seat where prospective season ticket and mini-plan holders can literally pick their seat for the upcoming season, and the official on-sale of individual game tickets.  Everything starts at 10:00 AM and fans can buy tickets at the Isotopes Park Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone with Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, or on-line at www.ticketmaster.com, or www.albuquerquebaseball.com.   For the big dates (Opening Day, July 3, etc.) it’s a good idea to get tickets Saturday or else you’ll be in “peril” of missing out on all the great fun this year.

Its Perilous, not Perolous

When you hear the National Anthem 72 times during the course of a season, there are a few things that inevitably find their way under your skin.  The first is those singers who treat the National Anthem like an American Idol audition and carry out every note to show their “range,” thereby increasing the length of the song from its intended minute and a half to an excruciating five minutes.  It’s reminiscent of the classic Dancin’ Homer episode of the Simpsons where Bleeding Gums Murphy is singing the National Anthem at a Springfield Isotopes contest and a clock behind him reads 6:45.   As he continues through the song, the scene shifts to the Simpsons sitting slumped in their setas in left field bleachers before finally Bleeding Gums wraps up the song as the clock behind tolls 7:00.  Nothing can zap the energy from a crowd like a long National Anthem. 

The second, and granted this is pretty nit-picky, is people’s insistence on singing about the “per-OL-ous” fight instead of the “per-IL-ous” fight.  In the history of mankind, nothing has ever been in “perol.” 

With those two valuable nuggets of information, the Isotopes invite all of those interested in singing the National Anthem to come to Isotopes Park this Saturday, March 14 for open tryouts.  There is no need to reserve a spot, just show up to the park beginning at 10:00 AM and check-in.  Anthem auditions begin at 11:00 AM and will last until 1:00 PM.  

The auditions are part of a big day at Isotopes Park that includes an Open House complete with guided tours of the ballpark, a Select-A-Seat where prospective season ticket and mini-plan holders can literally pick their seat for the upcoming season, and the official on-sale of individual game tickets.  Everything starts at 10:00 AM and fans can buy tickets at the Isotopes Park Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone with Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, or on-line at www.ticketmaster.com, or www.albuquerquebaseball.com.   For the big dates (Opening Day, July 3, etc.) it’s a good idea to get tickets Saturday or else you’ll be in “peril” of missing out on all the great fun this year.

Signings, signings…

The Dodgers have added a pair of Minor League free agents that could be Isotopes this season in outfielder Timo Perez and left-handed starter John Koronka, both of whom inked Minor League deals with invites to Major League Spring Training.  Isotopes fans will remember Perez from the 2007 Triple-A All-Star Game at Isotopes Park, where he was named “Star of the Game” after going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens, Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.   That season was a big one for the veteran outfielder, who finished the year with a month in Detroit, where he batted .389 in 29 games.  After spending the entire 2008 campaign with the Mud Hens, Perez played last year in the Mexican Summer League, batting .323 in 77 games with Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz.   In addition to his stint with the Tigers, Perez has seen Major League time with the St. Louis Cardinals (2006) and Chicago White Sox (2004-05), but has logged most of his Big League service time with the New York Mets (2000-03). 

To those who have been to a lot of ‘Topes games in the past six years, Koronka’s name will no doubt ring a little familiar.  After coming up in the Cubs organization, playing for Iowa in 2004-05, the southpaw has played for three PCL teams; Oklahoma (2006-07), Colorado Springs (2007), and New Orleans (2009).  Last year, Koronka saw the Major Leagues for the first time since 2005, starting a pair of games for the Marlins.   

Until then, if anybody has an extra rookie Nolan Ryan they could part with, I have a mint condition 1984 Rick Camp and an ’89 Wayne Tolleson I can trade. 

The second, and granted this is pretty nit-picky, is people’s insistence on singing about the “per-OL-ous” fight instead of the “per-IL-ous” fight.  In the history of mankind, nothing has ever been in “perol.” 

The auditions are part of a big day at Isotopes Park that includes an Open House complete with guided tours of the ballpark, a Select-A-Seat where prospective season ticket and mini-plan holders can literally pick their seat for the upcoming season, and the official on-sale of individual game tickets.  Everything starts at 10:00 AM and fans can buy tickets at the Isotopes Park Box Office, at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone with Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, or on-line at www.ticketmaster.com, or www.albuquerquebaseball.com.   For the big dates (Opening Day, July 3, etc.) it’s a good idea to get tickets Saturday or else you’ll be in “peril” of missing out on all the great fun this year.

Moves Galore in Glendale

This past weekend saw a flurry of activity in Dodgers Spring Training camp that will impact the Opening Day roster of the Isotopes, as eight players have been reassigned to Minor League camp in the past 72 hours.  On Friday, left-handed reliever Greg Miller was optioned to Albuquerque, where he will start the season pitching out of the ‘Topes’ bullpen.  Last year, the southpaw appeared in 48 games for Triple-A Las Vegas, going 2-3 with a 7.71 ERA.  To make room on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster for a little guy named Manny Ramirez, right-hander Justin Orenduff was designated for assignment.  If he clears waivers, Isotopes fans can expect to see the versatile hurler (he started 21 games in Vegas last year and made 10 relief appearances as well) pitching in Albuquerque too. 

On Saturday, Los Angeles sent pitchers Ronald Belisario, Yhency Brazoban, and Jacobo Meque to Minor League camp with a very good possibility that all three will open the season in Albuquerque.  Shortstop Ivan De Jesus was also officially transferred to Minor League camp, although he is likely out for the season with a broken leg suffered last week (see below for details). 

Finally on Sunday, lefty Carmen Cali and right-hander Edgar Martinez were both reassigned to Minor League camp and ‘Topes fans can expect to see both open the year in the ‘Querq. 

Meanwhile, the team is gearing up for a big Saturday of activity at The Lab.  This Saturday, March 14, the ‘Topes will hold their annual Open House / National Anthem Auditions / Select-A-Seat that also coincides with individual tickets going on sale.  More details will follow tomorrow, but the fun starts at 10:00 AM at Isotopes Park and continues to 1:00 PM.   

 

    

Tough Break

While Monday was a scheduled off day for Spring Training games at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, there was plenty of action on the back fields as the Dodgers faced the Brewers in a 7-inning “B” game, a contest that proved extremely costly for the Dodgers and perhaps the Isotopes.  In the bottom of the fourth inning, sensational prospect Ivan De Jesus Jr. broke his lower left tibia in a collision at home plate, an injury that necessitated the surgical insertion of a metal rod into his leg on Tuesday and one that will probably spell the end of the infielder’s season.  Doctors in Arizona say De Jesus will be in a boot and on crutches for six weeks before embarking on a rehab that is scheduled to take four months.    

Heading into this season, De Jesus was the Dodgers’ sixth highest prospect according to Baseball America and was coming off a breakout season in 2008 that saw him earn the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year award. 

With Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson holding down the middle infield in Los Angeles, the 21 year-old most likely would have started the season in Albuquerque, where his father, Ivan De Jesus Sr., played from 1974-1976.

Now with De Jesus out, Blake DeWitt has been getting increasing playing time at short, which is intriguing for Isotopes fans in that the Dodgers may elect to start DeWitt in Albuquerque to get him some added reps at the position.  The bottom line, is the next month should prove fascinating as the ‘Topes roster begins to take shape.  

Things are gearing up at Isotopes Park as well, with the team’s Open House/Individual Game Ticket On-Sale/Anthem Auditions/Select-A-Seat right around the corner.  On Saturday, March 14, individual game tickets will go on sale at 10:00 AM both on-line and at Isotopes Park.  At the same time, the Isotopes will open Isotopes Park for tours, conduct their annual Select-A-Seat and hold National Anthem auditions.   Look for more information on that big day at The Lab here and at www.albuquerquebaseball.com in the next few days.

     

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