Friday, August 31, 2007

Catfish rained out

We were looking forward to the Columbus Catfish clinching the 2nd half crown for the South Atlantic League (SAL) Southern Division tonight.

But the rains in Savannah meant no baseball for the Catfish.

With Asheville being eliminated earlier today, either the Catfish or Charleston will be the 2nd half champions. And, going into today's games, the Catfish hold a 3-1/2 game lead with 4 games left. So, one win by the Catfish ... or one loss by Charleston ... and the Catfish are the division champs.

The rainout today means that the Catfish won't clinch today ... assuming Charleston beats Rome. Charleston has beaten Rome in 11 of 20 contests this year. They play 4 games against each other to end the regular season.

The Wife and I will be in attendance at Grayson Stadium in Savannah as the Catfish take on the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) Saturday evening.

We're finalizing plans with my grandmother for a little excursion for her 94th birthday. On her birthday, they're planning a big party. No, not at the place she wants to go. But a big party anyway. Seems Florida State has an off-day, so the party can actually be on her birthday this year. That was awful nice of Bobby Bowden to do that, don'tcha think?

Anyway, since she's going to have her big party on her actual birthday, the Wife and I will be taking her on a little trip the following weekend. And we're nailing down those plans.

And, since we're in the area ... we plan to be in the stands for the game.

Baseball III

Talking about baseball... for my sisters, you see. Even though they don't really care.

Basically, you got a couple of teams facing each other. Nine players to each side. And things begin with a pitcher facing a batter.

The rules of baseball say that the pitcher must stand at a certain point (the pitcher's plate on a mound, 60'6'' away) and must do certain things and not do certain things when he pitches the ball. The idea of those restrictions is to give the batters and base runners a chance against the pitcher.

But the batter has to stand in a certain place (the batter's box on either side of home base). If he doesn't do that, he's out. And three outs, and the team loses it's time at bat (an inning).

Getting on base

Generally, the batter must hit a pitch safely (between the foul lines) and reach base before the defensive team puts him out. Once the batter hits the ball fairly, he becomes the batter-runner.
BATTER RUNNER is a term that identifies the offensive player who has just finished his time at bat until he is put out or until the play on which he became a runner ends.

Catching a batted ball on the fly will put the batter out. So will getting the ball to first base before the batter-runner gets there. So will tagging him with the ball (or the glove in which the ball is held) while he's not on a base.

But hitting the ball and beating the ball to the bag isn't the only way a runner can be on first base. The other ways include:
  • Four balls (pitches outside the strike zone not swung at)

  • Batter hit by a pitch.

  • Catcher's interference. That's when there is contact between the batter or his equipment and the catcher during the pitch.

  • Dropped third strike. The batter doesn't automatically get first base, but if first base is open, or if there are two out, the becomes a batter-runner and must be retired just like if he had hit a fair ball.

Oh, there's one additional way that a player can become a base runner: He can be named a pinch runner.


In football, players can enter and leave the game any time they wish. That doesn't happen in baseball.

Once a player, for any reason, is removed from the game, he stays out of the game. And any player can be replaced any time time is called or the ball is dead.

If a player gets on base, the offensive team can elect to replace his with someone running in his place. That's a pinch runner.

Likewise, a batter can be replaced by someone else batting in his place. That's a pinch hitter.

And any time one player off the bench (that is, not already in the game) hits or runs for another player, the new player is in the game, taking the place of the old player. And the old player can't come back into the game.

Well, there is one exception to that.

The Designated Hitter

Most pitchers are good at pitching and bad at hitting. Not always, but most of the time. If you watch a National League game, for example, you'll often see the pitcher replaced, not on the mound, but at the bat.

If the team is behind, and they really, really need a base runner (because the game is in a late inning), and if the pitcher is coming to bat, they'll often bat someone in his place. Then, the next time they take the mound, a new pitcher will appear.

But in the American League, that doesn't happen.

Because the pitcher doesn't have to bat.

In his place, almost all of the time, will be the designated hitter. A batter who doesn't play defense, but instead, only bats for the pitcher.

The American League uses the DH. The National League doesn't. Most of the minor leagues use the DH. Only at AAA and AA (the two highest levels) do games happen where the DH doesn't apply. That essentially when both teams are affiliated with National League parent clubs. The rest of the time, the DH rule is in effect. Some independent leagues don't use the DH.

Now, just because you can use the DH doesn't mean you have to. But just about every time, the team elects to use it.

Oh, and if the DH comes into the game to play defense, he's no longer the DH. And no one else on that team will be the DH for the remainder of that game. The pitcher will bat for the rest of the game.

Some fans like the DH. Some don't. I don't.

I think the strategy involved in a situation where a pitcher is having a good game, but having to weigh that against the need for a better batter in his position, is part of baseball. And the DH does away with that.

And that's really my main objection to it.

What next?

Well, next time, we'll talk more about base runners. Because I think we've told my sisters more about the batter and pitcher than they really want to know.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Clinch delayed, Charleston edges Catfish

With their "magic number" at 1, the Columbus Catfish will have to wait at least a day before claiming the 2nd half Southern Division title. The Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) edged the Catfish 4-3 tonight.

Charleston pitcher Paul Patterson pitched 6 no-hit innings, leaving the game up 3-0, before the Catfish fought back.

With 1 out in the 7th, 2B Seth Dhaenens walked, then scored when 1B Matt Fields doubled, for both the Catfish first hit and first run.

Down 3-1, the Catfish allowed another run in the top of the 9th, and that run made the difference.

In the bottom of the 9th, with 1 out, Royster doubled then moved to third on a ground out by Dhaenens. Fields then homered, cutting the lead to 4-3, but that's as close as the Catfish could get.

The loss cut the Catfish division lead to 3-1/2 games with 4 games left.

Charleston hosts Rome in a 4-game series to close the regular season, while the Catfish travel to Savannah for 4 games. Any Catfish win ... or Charleston loss ... in the next 4 games gives the Catfish the 2nd half title and a spot in the playoffs.

Catfish take two from Charleston, now 1 win away from playoffs

After being rained out the night before ... and a 22-minute rain day in game one ... the Columbus Catfish swept both games of a doubleheader to all but assure themselves a playoff spot, as they beat the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) 2-1 ... and 2-1 ... both in walk-off fashion.

In game one, starter Will Kline, Tampa Bay's number two pick in this year's draft, went 5 innings, allowing 3 hits and striking out 4, but took a no-decision. Reliever Brian Baker, who helped lead Columbus High School and Columbus State University to titles, picked up the win by pitching the last 2 innings, allowing an unearned run on 2 hits, striking out 3.

The pitchers' duel went the distance, as Charleston didn't allow a run through 6 innings. Both teams put runners on third in the 5th inning, but neither could score. Then, the 7th inning made all the difference.

Charleston scored an unearned run a 2-out throwing error. But with 1 out in the bottom of the 7th, DH Nevin Ashley and LF Ryan Royster hit back-to-back homers to tie the game and win the game, respectively. Royster's home run was his 29th of the season, tops in the South Atlantic League.

In game two, Charleston scored an unearned run off of Heath Rollins, but the Catfish tied the game in the 2nd on Royster's 30th home run. Other than hits in the 4th inning that netted nothing, no one else made it on base the rest of the way. Until the bottom of the 7th.

In the home half of the 7th, Ashley walked and moved to third on Royster's single. RF Quinn Stewart was walked to load the bases, then 1B Matt Fields delivered a game-winning RBI single to secure the sweep.

The win eliminated every team except Charleston and Asheville from challenging the Catfish for the 2nd half division title. A Catfish win against Charleston on Thursday, or winning one of four in Savannah this weekend, would give the Catfish the playoff spot. Likewise, 1 loss by Charleston in their last 5 games, and a loss by Asheville in their final 6 games, would put the Catfish in the playoffs.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Baseball II

We were talking about baseball. I like baseball, you see. And I was telling a little bit about the game. For my sisters. Who don't really like baseball all that much.

So, we were talking a little bit about baseball. Explaining little things about it. For my three sisters, you understand. Even though they really don't care.

We talked about Alexander Cartwright being more of the "inventor" of baseball, instead of Abner Doubleday.

We talked about the pitcher's mound ... a little.

And we talked about the batter's box ... a little.

And what constitutes a strike.

But we left off balls. We'll fix that now.

What do you do with an elephant with three balls?

When the pitcher takes his position, he tries to throw (or "pitch") the ball in such a way that he gets the batter out.

Now, one key thing is that the pitcher must stand with one foot on the pitcher's plate when he delivers the pitch. And there are a bunch of rules talking about what a pitcher can and can't do.

All those rules are complicated and hard to follow.

Here's what they're trying to do. The rules are set up so that pitchers can't trick the batter ... or the base runner.

Baseball is a gentleman's game, you see. Despite having low-lifes like Barry Bonds playing the game. It's supposed to be a gentleman's game. It goes back over 100 years ... probably over 200 years ... or even 300 years. And it's a game that gentlemen could play.

So, a pitcher is supposed to not "quick pitch" to the batter. The batter has to be ready.
Rule 8.01(b) Comment: With no runners on base, the pitcher is not required to come to a complete stop when using the Set Position. If, however, in the umpire's judgment, a pitcher delivers the ball in a deliberate effort to catch the batter off guard, this delivery shall be deemed a quick pitch, for which the penalty is a ball.

Neither is he supposed to fake a pitch in order to fool the base runner.
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when --
(a) The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery;
Rule 8.05(a) Comment: If a lefthanded or righthanded pitcher swings his free foot past the back edge of the pitcher's rubber, he is required to pitch to the batter except to throw to second base on a pick-off-play. (b) The pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first base and fails to complete the throw;
(c) The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base;

An illegal pitch is a "balk," and the penalty is that base runners advance one base each for free. Even if the runner is on third (yes, he scores).

If there are no runners on, an illegal pitch is ruled a "ball."

And a ball is a pitch that isn't a strike. Or fouled off. Remember, a foul is a strike, but never strike three. But a foul ball is never a "ball."

With three strikes, the batter is out. With four balls, the batter walks. That is, he gets a free pass to first base. And if someone is on first, the runner gets to second base.

It is not true that all base runners advance. But if someone is "forced" by way of a walk to take their base, they move to the next base. And, if the bases are loaded ... that is, there are runners on every base ... then a walk to the batter forces a run in. The batter takes first, the man on first takes second, the man on second takes third, and the man on third takes home and scores.

If any base is empty, a walk doesn't score a run. For example, if men are on first and third ... but no one on second ... a walk simply loads the bases. The batter takes first, the man on first takes second, and the man on third stays put, since no one was on second to force him off third.

So, three strikes and the batter is out. Four balls and the batter takes first base.

Oh, sometimes, the pitcher wants to throw a ball, not a strike. For example, supposed the batter is one that he's really worried about. One that always gets a hit off of him. And the next batter is a safer batter to face. What then?

Well, sometimes, he'll "intentionally walk" the batter. Just a part of baseball strategy. And we'll talk more about that later.

Oh, the answer to the question: "What do you do with an elephant with three balls?" Walk him and pitch to the rhino.

Yeah, lame joke.

And one other thing.

Suppose the pitcher hits the batter? The batter gets a free pass to first base. And, if in the umpire's opinion, the pitcher hits the batter on purpose, instead of by accident, the umpire will remove the pitcher from the game.

Because you're not supposes to throw the ball at someone. It's a gentleman's game, remember?

Box to mound

And remember when we said that pitchers used to stand in a box and now stand on a mound?

Well, the box used to be 45 feet from home base. And the pitcher had to pitch underhanded. And with his elbow locked.

The rules were eventually changed so that pitchers could throw the ball overhand, underhand, side-armed, or just about any way he wanted.

And the box was moved back, a little at a time, over time.

Eventually, the box went away and the pitcher had to stand on the pitcher's plate. And the plate was put on a mound.

Today, on a 10-inch mound, the plate is 60 feet, 6 inches away from home.

The funny thing about third strikes

Remember that the batter is out after three strikes, right? Well, not always.

The catcher must catch strike three. Okay, that's not exactly true. A bunted third strike isn't caught, but it's a strikeout, and the batter is out.

But, if the batter swings and misses, or the batter doesn't swing but the ball is in the strike zone, then the catcher must catch strike three for the batter to be out

What if he doesn't catch strike three? If first base is open, or if there are two outs, the batter can run, just like if he hit the ball fairly.

And if he makes it to first base, he's safe.

Even though he struck out.

And, yes, that means that a pitcher can record more than three strikeouts in one inning.

In fact, the record is five. That has happened four times, all in the minor leagues. The first time in 1964 by Tom Dukes of the Columbus Confederate Yankees of the Southern League.


We'll talk about more baseball stuff later. I can tell you can hardly wait.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two Catfish players named to SAL post-season All-star team

Two Columbus Catfish players have earned post-season honors ... with a week left in the regular season.

Outfielders Ryan Royster and Desmond Jennings were named today to the South Atlantic League post-season All-star roster.

Royster is batting .323, 5th in the league, prior to tonight's game. He leads the league in home runs with 38, is tops in RBIs with 96, has the best slugging percentage (.587), and leads in total bases (273). He's scored 87 runs, 7th best in the SAL.

Jennings is currently on the disabled list, but has had an impressive season as well. His .315 average is 7th best in the league. His 45 stolen bases is 4th in the league, despite not playing the last 14 games due to injury. His on-base percentage (.401) is 7th in the league.

Both were named to the mid-season All-star game, as members of the Southern Division team. The post-season roster is for the entire league. The roster has 15 spots: 8 position players, 3 pitchers, a designated hitter, 2 utility infielders, and a utility outfielder.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I like baseball.

If you've been following this little blog ... or if you look at the posts here almost any time from April to September ... you'll pick right up on that.

My three sisters don't like baseball nearly as much as I do. And, because they aren't quite that big a fan as am I, they know the basics of baseball, but not all the little quirks that make it so much fun the the fanatic.

So, for my sisters, who really don't care, I'm going to talk a little bit about baseball.

Everyone knows baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday. And everyone who knows that is wrong.

Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball. But he did command the cannon that fired the first Union response to the Confederate fire on Ft. Sumter, SC, at the start of the War between the States. But he didn't invent baseball.

Baseball may go back to the mid-1700s. There were several games similar to each other that had different aspects of baseball. One was even called "base-ball."

But the father of the current game of baseball wasn't Abner Doubleday. Instead, it was Alexander Cartwright headed up a group that put together the first rules of baseball. And it was quite different that it is today.

At first, it wasn't a 9-inning game. It was, instead, a "first team to score 21" game. And it wasn't 21 runs. It was 21 aces, as runs were called. And, it could be 1 inning, or 100, or however many it took. But each team took its inning, or turn at bat.

Baseball was a strictly amateur sport. Officially. There were ringers, paid professionals, that played on teams. It was frowned upon, but done anyway.

More about paid players later.

The diamond

Baseball is played on a field with four bases. The "home" base, commonly called a plate, is where the batter will stand. The other three bases make up a square. Actually, a diamond.

90 feet away from home base, down a line to the right, is first base. 90 feet away, on the opposite side of the diamond from home base, is second base. And 90 feet away from there, on the final point of the diamond, is third base. And, if you're doing your math, you realize that it's another 90 feet back to home base.

If the batter puts the ball in play, he will run to first base, and try to move to second base, then third base, then home base. If he makes it back home safely, he scores a run.

And, beyond the bases, there is the outfield, bounded on the outside by a fence or wall. The wall must be 250 feet away. But the rules encourage 320 feet at the closest, and at least 400 feet at the deepest point.

Pitchers vs batters

At first, batters stood on a line, awaiting a pitch from the pitcher. The pitcher stood within a box. There was no pitcher's mound.

Nowadays, a batter stands in a box next to home plate. He must have both feet in or partly on the line of the batter's box, as the official rules state.
A batter is out for illegal action when --
(a) He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter's box.

In 1965, the Braves' last year in Milwaukee, they had a series at the St. Louis Cardinals. Aaron, facing Curt Simmons, hit the ball out over right field ... and was called out. Umpire Chris Pelekoudas said Aaron had a foot out of the batter's box.

And the pitcher? Like we said, he used to have to stand in a box. Now, he must have one foot on a piece of rubber that's officially called the "pitcher's plate," although it's commonly called "the rubber." And, since 1893, it's been on a raised area, called the pitcher's mound.

The pitcher's mound varied in height until 1903, when it was set at 15 inches. After 1968, the mound was pared to 10 inches high.

Balls and strikes

The pitcher puts the ball in play by throwing it to the catcher, who stands behind home plate. The batter tries to hit the ball and advance around the bases, scoring a run when he safely rounds the bases and returns home.

The batter doesn't have to hit the ball if he doesn't want to. But, if he tries to hit the ball, and misses, it's called a "strike." And, after 3 strikes, the batter is "out."

But, that's not the only way for a strike to be called.

Suppose the batter hits the ball, and it's a foul ball?

"What's a foul ball?" you might ask.

Well, if you look at a baseball field, you'll see lines from home plate that run all the way to the outfield wall. Those are the foul lines. Though they should probably be called "fair lines," since a ball on the line is fair.

So, if a batter hits a ball, and it lands outside the foul lines, it's a foul ball. And it's a strike. But it's never strike three. Well, with one exception. We'll talk about that exception later. It's a good rule that a ball hit foul is strike one or strike two.

Some pick-up games, particularly at school playgrounds, play that "four foul balls is an out." Well, that's all well and good. But it's not the rules of baseball.

So, let's recap. If a batter swings and misses, it's a strike. If a batter hits a foul ball, it's a strike, except it's never strike three.

But there's one more ... okay, two more ... okay, three more ... ways to get a strike.

If the batter doesn't swing at the ball ... and the ball is in the "strike zone," it's a strike.

Okay, what's a "strike zone?"
The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the knee cap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.

Most players have numbers on the front of their uniform. And those numbers usually, but don't always, coincide with the top of the strike zone. So, you can say the strike zone is from the knees to the numbers. And if the ball is in any part of the strike zone, it's a strike.

The other two strikes?

There's a foul tip. That's when the batter hits the ball, but just tips it, not really changing its trajectory. If the catcher catches it, it's a strike. And, if it's strike three, it's a strikeout.

And the other strike? Well, the batter doesn't have to swing the bat. He can hold the bat out, still, and let the ball hit the bat. That's called a "bunt." And, if the batter bunts a ball foul, it's a strike. And, if it's strike three, it's a strikeout.

That's it?

Those are the basics of baseball. Actually, there's a lot more to it. A lot.

But you start out on a field with 4 bases making up the points of a 4-sided square, with an outfield on the opposite side of home base.

And you have a pitcher trying to throw the ball past a batter.

Yes, there's a lot more to baseball. But you must know that before you go any further.

And we'll go further in a little bit. And I can tell by the look of joy on your face that you can hardly wait.

Catfish sweep Savannah

The Columbus Catfish moved closer to a division title, beating the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) 5-3 tonight, completing a 4-game sweep, as 2nd place Charleston split a double-header with Rome.

The Catfish scored in the 2nd inning, when, with 1 out, RF Ryan Royster singled, then moved to second on a ground out by 2B Seth Dhaenens, and scored on a line drive single to center by 1B Matt Fields.

In the 3rd, CF Maiko Loyola singled and stole second. RF John Matulia sacrificed Loyola to third, but a throwing error by Savannah pitcher Greg Mullens allowed Loyola to score and Matulia to move to second. With 1 out, DH Quinn Stewart singled, scoring Matulia. Stewart wound up on second on a fielding error. Stewart moved to third when Royster singled. Dhaenens sacrificed Stewart home, putting the Catfish up 4-0.

Savannah scored in the 5th, when, with 2 outs, Brandon Richey got the first clean hit of the night for Savannah, a double to left, scoring Jonathan Santos, who had walked. Prior to that hit, the only other hit Catfish starter Jeremy Hall had allowed was a 2nd inning by-rule single, where a runner was hit by a batted ball. Had the ball missed the runner, the Catfish would likely have turned an inning-ending double play.

The Catfish padded the lead in the 6th. SS Jairo De La Rosa singled and stole second, then moved to third on a ground out. With 2 outs, 3B Cesar Suarez singled him in, giving the Catfish a 5-1 lead.

Savannah added runs in the 8th and 9th innings, but could get no closer, and the Catfish had their sweep.

Hall went 6 innings in his first appearance for the Catfish, after being called up from Princeton of the Appalachian League. He allowed 1 run on 4 hits, walking 4 and striking out 4 to pick up his first South Atlantic League win.

Columbus native Brian Baker pitched a perfect 7th. Wilton Noel allowed a run on 2 hits in the 8th, and closer Neal Frontz allowed an unearned run on 2 9th inning hits to notch his 18th save.

Every Catfish batter reached base at least once, with all but one getting at least one hit. Matulia, Royster, and Fields all had 2 hits. The Catfish left 8 runners on base, 4 in scoring position, but strong pitching and some great defensive plays meant that 5 runs was plenty.

Defensively, Dhaenens had an outstanding grab of a line drive over his head, doubling up a Savannah runner to end a Savannah come-back in the 8th. And, on the last play of the game, with Savannah down by 2 and the bases loaded and two out, De La Rosa stopped a ball hit behind the bag at second, and threw it back-handed, while still moving away from the bag, to Dhaenens covering second, to end the game.

The win, coupled with Charleston's split with Rome, gives the Catfish a 2-1/2 game lead with 7 games remaining. Charleston invades Columbus Tuesday night to open a 3-game series, with the outcome likely to determine the 2nd half champion of the SAL Southern Division.

Notes: Tonight's win by the Catfish officially eliminates Kannapolis from playoff contention, despite the Intimidators' win over Greensboro.

The Catfish "magic number" for clinching a playoff spot is 5. That means any combination of Catfish wins or opponent losses totaling 5 puts the Catfish in the playoffs. Against 2nd place Charleston, the "magic number" is 5. The number is 4 with Asheville, 3 with Augusta, and 2 with Rome. Kannapolis, Greensboro, and Savannah have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Augusta already has a playoff spot. The Greenjackets won the 1st half with a 50-20 record. If Augusta wins the 2nd half, a wild-card team will be awarded a spot. The Catfish currently lead the wild card race by 2 games over Asheville, and by 6-1/2 games over Charleston.

In the Northern Division, West Virginia won the first half (48-20). Hickory (37-26) leads the 2nd half by 3-1/2 games over Lake County (nee Columbus RedStixx) (32-28).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Catfish beat Savannah again, move closer to title

Jeremy Hellickson allowed 5 hits in the first 2 innings, but settled down and retired the last 11 batters he faced as the Columbus Catfish beat the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) 8-4 tonight.

Down 1-0 in the bottom of the 1st inning, CF Maiko Loyola walked to start the Catfish off. With 1 out, 3B Cesar Suarez singled to right, moving Loyola to third. Loyola came home on a wild pitch, as Suarez moved to second. With 2 out, back-to-back doubles by LF Ryan Royster and 2B Seth Dhaenens put the Catfish up 3-1.

After Savannah closed the gap to 3-2, Loyola hit a 2-out single to left, and moved to second on a throwing error on the play. RF John Matulia singled him in, putting the Catfish up 4-2.

DH Nevin Ashley homered to start the 3rd inning, making it 5-2.

In the 4th, with 2 outs, Matulia was hit by a pitch. Suarez doubled, moving Matulia to third. Ashley tripled, putting the Catfish up 7-2.

Up 7-4 in the 8th, the Catfish added one more run when Matulia singled, and came home on Suarez's 2nd double of the game.

Hellickson struck out 6 en route to his 13th win, 5th best win total in the league. Ryan Owen pitched 2-2/3 innings, allowing 2 runs of 4 hits. Ryan Reid pitched the last 1-1/3 innings, allowing 1 hit and striking out 3, and picked up his 10th save.

The Catfish pitching staff has the league's 2nd best ERA (3.67), and the most saves (43). Suarez's 2 doubles puts him at the 2nd most in the league (42).

A win Monday night would give the Catfish a sweep, and secure a winning record against Savannah for the season.

2nd place Charleston was rained out tonight, and has a double-header scheduled tomorrow. With the win, the Catfish now have a full 2-game lead with 8 games remaining. Charleston has 9 games left. The two teams square off for 3 games starting Tuesday in a series that could decide the 2nd half division title, and a spot against Augusta in the playoffs.

Catfish win rain-shortened game with Savannah

The rains came in the 6th inning, but it didn't dampen the spirits of the Columbus Catfish, who won a rain-shortened game with the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) 4-1 Saturday night.

A 4-run 3rd inning was all the Catfish needed. CF Maiko Loyola started things with a single to center, and moved to second when CF Richard Pena had trouble with the ball. RF John Matulia reached on an infield single to short. 3B Cesar Suarez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. DH Quinn Stewart drove in Loyola on a sacrifice fly to right that moved everyone up a base. LF Ryan Royster followed with his league-leading 28th homer, a 3-run shot that put the Catfish up 4-0.

In the 5th, Savannah got one run back. Sand Gnats LF Darren Clark doubled to center, driving in SS Brandon Richey, to close the gap to 4-1.

It stayed that way until the 6th inning. Catfish reliever Wilton Noel faced one batter, getting him out. That's when the rain drove us from our seats ... and the players from the field. 32 minutes later, the umpires came out, spoke to the teams, checked the weather, and sent everyone home.

Ryan Morse picked up his 5th win of the year, his 2nd straight win following 3 consecutive no-decisions. He allowed 1 run on 6 his, striking out 2.

Offensively, the Catfish only had 4 hits, but made the most of them. Royster's 3 RBIs allowed to to tie Asheville's Mike Paulk for the league lead (92). Royster has the highest slugging percentage in the league (.582), and is 5th in the league in both batting average (.323) and total hits (147). Teammate Cesar Suarez, who scored on Royster's HR, leads the league in total hits (154) and at-bats (502), despite not having an official at-bat last night.

The Catfish announced that tickets for the game would be honored at an upcoming game, which they didn't have to do. According to the baseball rule 4.12(d):.
(d) Rain checks will not be honored for any regulation or suspended game that has progressed to or beyond a point of play described in Rule 4.10(c).

4.10(c) says:
(c) If a game is called, it is a regulation game:
(1) If five innings have been completed;
(2) If the home team has scored more runs in four or four and a fraction half-innings than the visiting team has scored in five completed half-innings;
(3) If the home team scores one or more runs in its half of the fifth inning to tie the score.

So, no, they didn't have to offer the tickets as vouchers to a future game. But it was sure nice that they did.

Oh, the Catfish made a couple of roster moves. Desmond Jennings (2nd on the team batting .315) was placed on the DL, retroactive to August 23. No official word on if he'll make it back to the team this year, but his number (15) was reassigned.

And that's the other roster move. RHP Jeremy Hall was promoted from the Princeton Devil Rays:
For Princeton this season, Hall was spectacular on the mound compiling a 4-1 record in 69 1/3 innings. He led the team and the Appalachian League with his 1.56 ERA and allowed three earned runs in only one of his starts. In total, he only allowed 12 earned runs in 12 games started. Over the last month, Hall had a 1.13 ERA in six starts but only managed a 1-0 record due to poor run support and a couple of blown leads by the bullpen. The likely candidate for Princeton's Pitcher of the Year award also led the team in strikeouts and innings pitched this season.

Hall, the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week for August 6-12, is set to start in Monday's series finale with Savannah.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Surprised car thief

There was a story in the local news this week about a child in the back seat of a pickup that was stolen.

According to the story on WTVM, Dr. Jimmy Johnson was leaving his parents house, had put his 18-month old child in the car seat in the back of his truck, then ran back inside to get something.

Someone stole the truck.

Johnson got a glimpse of the thief when he jumped on the hood to try to stop the vehicle. He fell off, and the thief got away.

About 15 minutes later, the truck was found with the toddler safe inside.

What brings this story to my attention?

The fact that it happened here locally? No.

It's because it reminded me of an event that happened way back in the 1960s in my home town.

This man was riding uptown with his young son in the car. Back then, children rode in the front seat. And often didn't use seat belts.

Anyway, this young father pulled into an alley parallel to and 1/2 block from the main street through the center of town.

He told his son, "I'll be right back," and left the car, heading into a near-by business.

The car was running, the driver's door was open, and the young boy was sitting in the front seat.

Maybe a minute later ... maybe not even that long ... a young man -- perhaps an older teen or a twenty-something -- put his hand on the open driver's door, and started to get inside the vehicle.

When he saw the young boy sitting there, he stopped ... frozen for one, maybe two, seconds.

The young man stepped back and closed the door, and continued his trek down the alley.

In just a little bit, the young father came back, opened the door, got inside, and drove on.

The young boy never said anything.

But I still remember the face of the would-be car thief.

Dell service

Last week, the Little Princess called. She needed two things.

She needed help moving her stuff from storage to her new apartment.

And she had a problem with her computer.

A little less than four years ago, we gave her a Dell computer for college. She had taken her Gateway laptop that her mother gave her in high school, but, she needed a new computer, so we got her a Dell notebook.

Last year, she had a problem with it overheating. Since we had the full warranty and coverage on it, they sent a technician by to make the repairs. And it's worked fine since then.

Until last week.

That's when the Little Princess called to tell me about her computer issues.

And, it involved sparks and burned clothing. So, when she called me that night, I got on the computer, chatting with "Muthulakshman_82118" while she was on the phone.
Agent (Muthulakshman_82118): "Thank you . As I see in the records that you have an Inspiron 1100 with windows Xp home installed,correct ?"
Basil: "yes"
Agent (Muthulakshman_82118): "Basil, could you tell me the sparks comes out from the ac adapter or from the port on the laptop?"
Basil: "from where the plug goes into the jack. uncertain if it's the jack, or the plug, since it happens when plug is in jack, and cord connected to outlet"
Agent (Muthulakshman_82118): "Are you referring to the ac adapter ?"
Basil: "yes. sparks emit from back of notebook when ac adapter plug is in the jack on the back of the notebook while other end of adapter is in outlet"
Agent (Muthulakshman_82118): "Basil,do you have a spare ac adapter ?"
Basil: "No"
Basil: "Just the one that came with the notebook"
Basil: "shh has computer in Athens. I have another Dell notebook, but I'm in Phenix City, 3-1/2 hours away from her"
Basil: "so she can't use mine on my ohter Dell"
Agent (Muthulakshman_82118): "Okay."
Agent (Muthulakshman_82118): "May I place you on hold for 2-3 minutes."
Agent (Muthulakshman_82118): "Thank you for your patience."
Basil: "sure"
Agent (Muthulakshman_82118): "Basil, due to the nature of the problem, the damage sustained to the system may have affected more than one component. In order to ensure a complete resolution, Dell will send a like or better system replacement. In the meantime, I recommend that you no longer use the system. Once the replacement arrives, return the defective system in the box the replacement arrived. Be sure to include all cable and electrical cords."

And, yesterday, the replacement arrived.

It's an Inspiron 1520, with Windows Vista Home Premium, 2 GB RAM, 140 GB HD, and a DVD burner.

Yes, that's a huge upgrade from what she had. But, an equivalent, in one aspect.

When we got her the notebook, it was a middle-range notebook, upgraded somewhat. And, they're sending the 2007 version: a middle-range notebook, upgraded somewhat.

So, no complaints about the service. The fact that we needed the service is, of course, a problem. But, like I said, no complaints about the service.

Of course, her computer isn't the only computer with sparks out the back and burns in the last week. There was a story on a local Columbus TV newscast yesterday about a local family having an issue with their Dell notebook.
"Wife smelled something she picked it up and there was a flame out the bottom of it," says Brown.

And the computer wasn't even turned on.

Brown compares watching his laptop go up in flames to a roman candle lighting the sky.

It's the same story that was reported elsewhere as happening in Columbus, OH, but it was Columbus, GA.

Maybe we should consider ourselves lucky that the problem didn't burn anything down. Plus I'm wondering what to do, if anything, about the two Dells we have at the house.

Me? I'm going to continue to use my new Macbook.

Catfish beat Savannah, extend division lead, Rollins wins 16th

Heath Rollins scattered 5 hits over 5, struck out 5, and allowed 3 runs en route to his 16th win of the season, as the Columbus Catfish pounded out 22 hits and beat the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) 15-6 on Friday night.
The 22-year-old right-hander leads the South Atlantic League with 145 strikeouts. Josh Geer also won his 16th game for Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League on Friday.

Hunter Davis notched his first save, despite yielding a run on three hits and two walks with three strikeouts over two frames.

Spring fell a single shy of the cycle, smacking a two-run shot, his third, in the second, then doubling in the fifth. He roped a two-run triple, his first since 2005, and scored again in the eighth. The 22-year-old catcher is 7-for-21 with two homers and 10 RBIs in eight games since being re-assigned from Double-A Montgomery. He batted .205 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 78 games with the Biscuits.

Brett Grandstrand and Cesar Suarez contributed four hits apiece, Seth Dhaenens chipped in three and three RBIs and Maiko Loyola went 3-for-6 with his fourth homer and three runs scored. Ryan Royster belted his league-leading 27th homer for the Catfish (36-23), who set a season high with 22 hits and lead Charleston by 1 1/2 games in the Southern Division.

The Catfish have 3 more home games with Savannah, then face 2nd place Charleston in 3 games, before ending the season with 4 games at Savannah.

Update: The win eliminated Greenville from the 2nd half. Six of the 8 teams in the division are mathematically alive, with only Greenville (27-34) and Savannah (20-39) officially eliminated. Kannapolis is on the cusp, with 3 Catfish wins or Intimidators losses needed to eliminate.

Overall, the Catfish need wins or opponent losses totaling 9 to win the division.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Catfish blow 7-run lead, swept by Charleston

Up 7-0 going into the bottom of the 5th inning, the Columbus Catfish couldn't stop the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) from fighting back, tying the game in the 9th, and beating the Catfish in 11, 8-7.

Catfish starter Will Kline had his best outing of his young career (he was the 2nd round pick of Tampa Bay in this year's draft}. Kline pitched 5 innings, facing 20 batters, allowing 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 3, and walking none. He left with a 7-1 lead, in position for his first win, but wound up with a no decision.

The Catfish put up 5 runs in the 3rd. With 1 out, Maiko Loyola doubled home Brett Grandstrand, who singled to lead off the inning, then moved to 2nd when Craig Albernaz walked. Cesar Suarez singled home Albernaz and Loyola, then moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. With 2 outs, Ryan Royster doubled, scoring Suarez. With Royster on third (advancing on a wild pitch), Joey Callender singled to right, plating Royster, and putting the Catfish up 5-0,

In the 5th, Loyola hit a solo homer to start the inning. Suarez doubled, and moved to third on a wild pitch. Nevin Ashley sacrificed him home on a fly ball to left.

Brian Baker allowed 3 runs total in the 6th and 7th innings, allowing Charleston to close the gap to 7-4.

In the bottom of the 9th, Neal Frontz allowed a 1-out, 3-run homer to tie the game.

Ryan Reid came on in the 11th, faced 2 batters, and took the loss when Charleston's James Cooper doubled to left, scoring Mitch Hilligoss, who walked to start the inning.

Despite the loss ... and the sweep ... the Catfish still hold a lead, albeit slim, in the South Atlantic League Southern Division. The Catfish are 35-23, 1/2 game ahead of Charleston's 35-24 mark. Both teams have 11 games left, including 3 against each other in Columbus next week.

Grave Robbers

I never met the Wife's father. He died a few years before I met her. So, I never met the man. But the whole family thought the world of him.

After all these years, they still place flowers on his grave on special occasions: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and any other time in between that the mood strikes.

When they bring out new flowers, they'll remove the old flowers, so that fresh ... or at least good-looking ... flowers are on his grave.

The other day, a family member went out to the cemetery for another matter. And, of course, stopped by the grave.

And that's when we found out that the flowers were missing.

Now, of course, if weather is really bad ... with high winds and such ... that can cause problems. But it usually causes several problems, not just one. And, there's been no bad weather recently.

So, looking at things, it seems that there was no natural reason for the flowers to be missing.

Which leaves somebody moving them.

And that means somebody took the flowers.

What kind of person would take flowers off a grave? I don't know. But you can find flowers at the flea market that look like they might have come off a grave. And that sickens me.

And, the thing is, this happens. A lot.

It just happened to us this time.

Catfish held to 3 hits again, beaten by Charleston. Again.

The Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) seem to have the Columbus Catfish' number. After the Catfish won 8 of their first 10 games against Charleston, the RiverDogs have won 11 of 13 from the Catfish, including a 6-1 drubbing Wednesday night.
Kyle Anson and Josue Calzado ripped RBI singles in the fourth for the RiverDogs (34-24), who pulled within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Catfish (35-22) in the South Atlantic League Southern Division. Anson, Luis Nunez, James Cooper and Kevin Smith drove in runs in the seventh.

Columbus starter Woods Fines (7-7) gave up two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out three in four innings. Three of his seven losses have come against Charleston.

Matt Spring plated a run with a groundout in the fifth and Maiko Loyola collected two hits for the Catfish.

The series concludes in Charleston tonight, with the Catfish needing a win to avoid a sweep. The Catfish have not been swept by Charleston this season, and in fact, swept Charleston in a 3-game series on May 4, 5, & 6.

Despite the loss, the Catfish maintain a 1-1/2 game lead in the Southern Division over Asheville and, now, Charleston. And, with the Asheville loss, the Catfish "magic number" ... Catfish wins plus highest opponent losses ... drops to 11 with 12 games left in the 2nd half.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Catfish held to 3 hits, blanked by Charleston

It took 4 pitchers, but those 4 pitchers did it. The Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) used 4 pitchers to hold the Columbus Catfish to three hits tonight, as they shut out the Catfish 3-0.
Charleston opened the crucial three-game series against the Southern Division leaders with a win to improve to 33-24 in the season's second half and move within 2 ½ games of the Catfish in the standings. Columbus dipped to 35-21 and 76-50 overall.

RiverDogs starter Grant Duff (13-8) out-dueled Columbus' Jeremy Hellickson, one of the top arms in the SAL this season who entered the night 12-2 with a 2.69 ERA. Duff went five full innings and scattered two hits while walking only one and striking out two.

The Catfish still lead the Southern Division by 1-1/2 games over Asheville, who won tonight.

Game 2 of the 3-game series will be Wednesday night, with the series concluding Thursday night. The Catfish open their final home stand of the regular season Friday, hosting last-place Savannah for 4 games, then Charleston for 3 games, before ending the season with 4 more at at Savannah.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Daniel the Dumbass

I hate spam.

I really, really hate spam.

Not SPAM®, mind you. I like SPAM®. It's one of Hormel's fine products.

But spam, I don't like.

Okay, spam is technically unsolicited email. And I'm talking about comments (or TrackBacks) that are unrelated to the post of a blog. Like this little blog. We often, though incorrectly, call that spam.

So, it's spam.

And here's why.

There's this "Daniel" ( that sends little comments out. They are essentially the same comment, with slight variation. And, by looking at the pattern, it's obvious that it's not a real comment.

For example, recently "Daniel" left this comment on my post, "Thinking Different":
I have to say, that I could not agree with you in 100% regarding Thinking Different, but it's just my opinion, which could be wrong :)

Now, there may be times that such a comment would be real. But that post isn't one of those times.

And "Daniel" sends these to lots of posts. Lots and lots of posts. And not just on this little blog, but at other blogs as well.

So, what's up?

Well, one of two things.

Either "Daniel" doesn't know much about anything ... in which case he's the biggest dumbass that every sat at a keyboard ... or he's sending fake comments.

I'm willing to agree that "Daniel" is a dumbass. No argument from me about that.

But I think he's sending fake comments, whether or not he's a dumbass.

So, why is "Daniel" sending fake comments?

He's trying to find a way past spam filters.


Well, "Daniel" knows that if a popular spam filter will let him through, he will be able to send all kinds of comments ... and TrackBacks ... to posts.

And those comments will be spam.

Yes, "Daniel" is sending pre-spam. He's testing the waters.

But Akismet, the spam filter we use here at this little blog, and that many other blogs use, catches the stuff that "Daniel" is sending.

Because "Daniel" wants to send spam.

"Daniel" is a bad person. He should be beat with a stick. Until the stick breaks. And then a new stick obtained and the procedure repeated.

But I am reassessing my opinion of "Daniel."

I'm not so sure he's a dumbass.

I think he's just an ass.

Rollins SAL Pitcher of the Week. Again.

Photo: Columbus Catfish
For the third time this season, Columbus Catfish pitcher Heath Rollins has been named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week.

Minor League Baseball noticed his performances on the mound last week:
Heath Rollins, Columbus
2-0, 2.46 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 11.0 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 13 SO
Catfish hurler Heath Rollins became the first 15-win pitcher in the Minor Leagues with a pair of wins last week. Rollins also ran his personal winning streak to five and hasn't lost since July 20. The 22-year old struck out seven in six innings while giving up five hits, a walk and three earned runs on Saturday as Columbus overpowered Asheville, 16-7. Earlier in the week, the native of Florence, S.C., propelled the Catfish to a 5-2 victory over Hickory. Rollins gave up two unearned runs and three walks while striking out six in five innings of work. He is 15-4 with a 2.57 ERA and 140 strikeouts this season.
Rollins was also named Pitcher of the Week on July 15 and May 27.

Just last week, teammate Ryan Royster was the SAL Player of the week. Matt Fields was named Player of the Week on June 24, while Wade Townsend took Pitcher of the Week honors on April 22.

The Catfish have an off day today, and head to Charleston tomorrow to open a 3-game series against the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees). The Catfish are in first place in the SAL Southern Division, leading Asheville by 2-1/2 games, and Charleston by 3 games.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Catfish take series, extend lead

The first place Columbus Catfish scored a big win Sunday evening, blasting the 2nd place Asheville Tourists (Rockies) 7-3. The win extends their lead in the South Atlantic League Southern Division to 2-1/2 games, and drops their "magic number" to 12.

Matt Fields homered for the third time in two nights, driving in 3 runs and scoring twice to pace the Catfish.

Asheville drew first blood, when Bret Berglund hit a shot over the billboards in left field to put the visitors up 1-0. It was the first of just three hits allowed by Catfish starter Ryan Morse.

In the bottom of the inning, the Catfish tied it up. Ryan Royster led the inning with a walk, and moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt. Quinn Stewart grounded out to short, moving Royster to third. Fields drove in his first run of the game on a single to center, scoring Royster.

In the 4th inning, the Catfish took the lead. Nevin Ashley began things with a double, and moved to third on a ground out by Royster, then scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Stewart, making it 2-1.

The Catfish put up 3 more in the 7th. Fields and Matt Spring both singled to open the inning. Maiko Loyola, who rejoined the Catfish this week after a stint at Hudson Valley, ran for Spring. A botched pickoff attempt moved both runners up a base. Fields then outfoxed Asheville third baseman Geoff Strickland when Jairo De La Rosa bounced a ball to third. Strickland had Fields caught off base, but was unable to tag him out as Strickland and Fields danced back and forth before Fields narrowly avoided a tag at home, putting the Catfish up 3-1. De La Rosa reached first, and Loyola moved to third on the play. With 2 out, Cesar Suarez singled, scoring Loyola. Ashley singled, driving in De La Rosa.

Asheville scored an unearned run in the 8th, off reliever Ryan Reid, cutting it to 5-2.

In the 8th, Stewart reached when hit by a pitch. That's when Fields hit his 18th homer of the season, a 2-run shot over right field, giving the atfish a 7-2 lead.

Asheville's Michael McKenry hit a monster shot over the scoreboard, making ti 7-3. It was the only hit that closer Neal Frontz would allow, and the Catfish had the win, the series, and a bigger lead in the division.

Morse finished with 7 strikeouts in his 6 innings work, allowing 1 run on 3 hits. He picked up his 4th win of the year, and his 1st since May 2, breaking a string of 4 losing decisions. Reid pitched 2 innings, allowing an unearned run on 2 hits, striking out 4.

With a 2-1/2 game lead and 14 games left, the Catfish "magic number" to clinch the 2nd half division title is now 12 games. That means that any combination of Catfish wins or opponent losses totaling 12 gives the Catfish the title.

A canceled game with Kannapolis gives the Catfish a slight advantage, since they will only play 69 games in the 2nd half. Kannapolis and Savannah also will play just 69 games. The rest of the teams in the division will play all 70. Savannah was eliminated today. Greenville and Kannapolis are close to elimination.

The Catfish have 6 games left with 3rd place Charleston (32-23, 3 GB), and 8 games with last place (and eliminated Savannah (19-35, 15-1/2 GB).

Asheville (33-23, 2-1/2 GB) has 3 games left with Kannapolis (26-29, 9 GB), 3 with 1st half winner Augusta (31-25, 4-1/2 GB), 4 with North Division 2nd half leader Hickory (34-21, 6 GL), and 3 with Greenville (25-32, 11 GB). Asheville is already selling playoff tickets.

Charleston (32-23, 3 GB), against whom the Catfish also have a "magic number" of 12, have, in addition to the 6 games with the Catfish, 1 with Augusta (31-25, 4-1/2 GB), and 8 games with Rome (30-26, 5-1/2 GB).

Augusta (31-25, 4-1/2 GB), who won the 1st half and already has a playoff stop assured, has, besides 3 games with Asheville and 1 with Charleston, 7 with Greenville (25-32, 11 GB) and 3 with Kannapolis (26-29, 9 GB).

Rome (30-26, 5-1/2 GB) has, besides 8 games with Charleston, 6 games left with Savannah (19-35, 15-1/2 GB, eliminated).

If the Catfish maintain their lead, they'll be the first Columbus team to qualify for the playoffs since 2002, the last year the Columbus RedStixx (Indians) were in existence. They left for Eastlake, Ohio, in 2003 to become the Lake County Captains.


I'm beat.

Yesterday was a busy day. And exhausting day.

Back in June, we helped the Little Princess put her stuff in storage. Because her lease was up, and the new lease wouldn't allow her to move in until mid-August.

Well, if you've checked your calendar, it's mid-August.

So, the Wife and I drove to Athens to help move stuff.

And it took us a while.

Last time, the Lieutenant was around to help us move. Well, he's at Ft. Hood, and that's just too far to drive over and help move for a day. So, it was just the three of us.

We got it done, but it took us a bit.

We finished moving ... and doing some work on her computer ... until around 12:30 AM.

We got it done, but we were exhausted.

And driving back, I was tired. I looked over at the clock in the car. 1:03.

"That's not too bad," I thought. "I can make it."

A few minutes later, I looked at the clock.


"Say, that's odd," I thought. Turns out it was still 1:03. It just seemed like later.

Thinking about the route to take. 316 back to I-85. Then I-185 to Columbus. Then ... well, I'd worry about that later. I had plenty of time.

I looked at the clock.


"Hmmm," I thought, "time is sure passing slowly. Let's see. If it's just after one o'clock now, we'll be in Atlanta by ... what ... around 2:30?"

So, I looked at the clock to confirm my calculations.


Now that was really odd. Time was distorting for me. Which meant that I was actually very tired.

Okay, time to stop for something to drink.

A quick stop for an iced honey bun and a Mello Yello only took a couple of minutes.

Back on the road, I was good for a bit, now, what with the sugar rush and the caffeine.

After a bit, though, it gave out. And I needed to do something.

Ah, one of the Wife's CDs. Merle Haggard's 16 Greatest Hits.

Okay, how many of those do I know.

Quite a few, actually, as it turned out.

So, I sang along with Merle for a bit.

The Wife wasn't too pleased with that. Perhaps I can't sing "When you're running down my country, man, you're walking on the fighting' side of me" quite as well as old Merle. But, for whatever the reason, she said we needed to stop for the night.

I decided we'd do that, but I wanted to get just a bit further.

Well, before you know it, we were in Atlanta.

And every hotel we ran across was full.

No, we didn't stop at every hotel. But we stopped at a lot.

All full.

But, south of Atlanta, we found a place.

So, at 2:53 AM, we checked in and got some sleep.

The drive back today (notice, I didn't say "this morning") was well enough.

The Wife decided to lay down. I decided to blog. And now I'm going to the Catfish game

I'll probably sleep though it. But not because it'll be boring, that's for sure.

But, because I'm still tired.

And sore.

And ... well, I'm beat.

Top draft pick heads to Catfish

Photo by Neil Brake

You might have read that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays signed their top draft pick, David Price of Vanderbilt, to an $11.25 million deal.

Earlier, speculation had been that he would report to the Short Season Class A Hudson Valley Renegades. But recent published reports and other reports from the Columbus Catfish now say that Price will join the Catfish this week.

He likely will join the team in time for the bus ride to Charleston on Tuesday. He's not expected to see any action this season ... which has 15 games left, counting tonight's game with Asheville. But he'll get to see what it's like as part of a professional team. Including the 6-1/2 bus ride to Charleston.

Welcome to the Minor Leagues, David.

Update: With the assignment of Price, the Catfish will have Tampa Bay's top two picks on the roster. 2nd round pick Will Kline signed earlier, and is pitching as part of the Catfish starting rotation.

Price will be the first Major League first pick to be on a Columbus Roster since Floyd Bannister played for the 1976 Columbus Astros of the Southern League. Bannister played 3 games for Columbus, posting a 1-0 record and a 1.50 ERA.

Update: Actually, David Clyde, who was drafted in 1973 by Texas and went straight to the Majors from high school, signed with Houston as a free agent in 1981, and was assigned to AA Columbus. He pitched 7 games, had a 6-0 record, and an ERA of 0.76. He was promoted to AAA Tuscon (Pacific Coast League), but never made it back to the Majors.

In 1987, Al Chambers played with the AA Columbus Astros (Southern League). Chambers was drafted by Seattle as the top pick in 1979. For Columbus, Chambers appeared in 92 games, batting .282. He played for the AA Pittsfield Cubs (Eastern League) the next season.

In 2000, Brien Taylor pitched 5 games in relief for the Columbus RedStixx. Taylor was the top overall pick in 1991 for the Yankees, but never made it to the Show. He played 6 years, mostly at Class A level, before leaving the Yankees. For Columbus, Taylor recorded 6 outs in 5 games, allowing 11 runs (8 earned), for an ERA of 36.0. He walked 9, struck out 2, and had 7 wild pitches in those 5 appearances for Columbus.

Catfish blast Asheville

After getting shut down Friday night by the Asheville Tourists (Rockies), the Columbus Catfish bounced back ... and bounced Asheville, 16-7 Saturday night. The Catfish attack was led by Matt Fields, who homered twice.
Fields blasted a three-run shot in the second inning, then launched a two-run homer, his 17th, in the seventh. It was his second career multi-homer game and first since Aug. 16, 2006 at Tri-City, when he was with short season Hudson Valley.

Ryan Royster, who went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, cranked a two-run homer, his South Atlantic League-leading 26th, in the seventh for the Catfish (34-20), who moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Tourists (33-22) in the Southern Division. The 21-year-old left fielder has 11 homers in his last 17 games, including a six-game streak from Aug. 5-11

Cesar Suarez went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBIs for Columbus, which set season highs with six homers and 16 runs. He slugged a two-run homer, his 11th, in the eighth. Matthew Spring added a three-run blast and Nevin Ashley belted a two-run shot.

Catfish starter Heath Rollins (15-4) became the Minor Leagues' first 15-game winner. He allowed three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings to win his fifth straight start.

The Catfish hold a 1-1/2 game lead over Asheville, and conclude the series with Asheville Sunday night, before heading on the road for three games against 3rd place Charleston.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Catfish blanked by Asheville

Rain put a damper on the night for the Columbus Catfish. Then the Asheville Tourists (Rockies) dampened the Catfish spirits even more, blanking the Catifsh 3-0 on a soggy, rainy Friday night.

A total of 2:10 of delays made for a difficult night. Aneury Rodriguez made it worse, pitching a complete game and allowing only 3 hits, striking out 10 Catfish batters.
Columbus starter Will Kline (0-4) went four innings, allowing one run on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

Ryan Royster hit his 28th double with one out in the second, but Rodriguez retired Quinn Stewart on a flyout before fanning Matthew Fields.

Despite the loss, the Catfish still hold a 1/2 game lead over Asheville.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Catfish extend lead, Baker extends scoreless streak

The first place Columbus Catfish -- I like typing that -- extended their 2nd half lead in the Northern Division by beating the 2nd place Asheville Tourists (Rockies) 5-3 Thursday night.

The Catfish put up 4 runs in the 3rd. Matthew Fields led with a single. Craig Albernaz, Jairo De La Rosa and John Matulia all doubled, putting the Catfish up 3-0. After a pitching change, Brett Grandstrand sacrificed Matulia to third, then Cesar Suarez sacrificed Matulia home, giving the Catfish a 4-0 lead.

De La Rosa hit a solo home run in the 5th, making it 5-0.

The Catfish only had 5 hits, but made the most of their time on base. One runner was caught stealing, but the other 5 base runners scored. The only Catfish batter with more than 1 hit was De La Rosa, who had 2 RBIs and scored twice.

Woods fines picked up his 7th win, allowing 2 hits and striking out a pair over 5 innings. Matt Falk only lasted 1/3 inning relief, allowing 3 runs, his 2nd straight rough outing. Hunter Davis pitched 2-2/3 innings, allowed just 1 hit, and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the 7th. Columbus native Brian Baker pitched a perfect 9th, picking up his 7th save, and extending his scoreless streak to 21-2/3 innings.

The win over 2nd place Asheville -- who has already begun selling playoff tickets for the playoff spot they are battling the Catfish for -- gives the Catfish a 1-1/2 game lead over the Tourists. Idle Charleston is 3 games back.

The battle for first place continues Friday night, with the top two teams battling at 7 PM. Fireworks follow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Catfish in first place

After a successful road trip -- splitting with Greensboro and taking 3 of 4 from Hickory -- the Columbus Catfish return home Thursday night in first place in the Southern Division of the South Atlantic League. They moved into first place thanks to a loss by Asheville ... and the Catfish 4-1 win over the Hickory Crawdads (Pirates).

The Catfish scored in the top of the first. Nevin Ashley drove in Cesar Suarez, who had reached on a double, to put the Catfish up 1-0 early.

In the 6th, Ashley walked with 2 outs, stole second, and moved to third on a wild pitch. Ryan Royster walked, then stole second and, on the same play, Ashley scored, getting credited with a steal. Royster then scored when Quinn Stewart doubled to left, putting the Catfish up 3-0.

In the 7th, Jairo De La Rosa singles with 1 out, stole second, and scored on John Matulia's single, and the Catfish had a 4-0 lead.

Hickory closed the gap in the 8th, scoring a run then loading the bases. Neal Frontz relieved Catfish reliever Ryan Owen to get out of the inning. He allowed a base runner in the 9th, but set down the next three batters to pick up his 17th save.

Starter Jeremy Hellickson pitched 6 innings, allowing 2 hits, and struck out 7. Owen allowed a run on 3 hits and struck out 2 in 1-2/3 innings.

Suarez and De La Rosa each had 2 hits for the Catfish. Ashley stole 2 bases, while De La Rosa, Royster, and Stewart each stole one.

The Catfish took 3 of 4 from the Northern Division leaders, and now have the best record in the 2nd half, not only in the Southern Division, but in the league, at 32-19. The Catfish hold a 1/2 game lead over Asheville, who visit Columbus for 4 games beginning Thursday night. The Catfish also sport the 2nd best home record in the league.

This series ... along with 6 games upcoming against Charleston ... could determine the 2nd half champions and a spot in the playoffs.

Catfish blast Hickory

Nevin Ashley blasted two home runs and drove in 4 runs, and Quinn Stewart his his 21st home run, as the Columbus Catfish beat the Hickory Crawdads (Pirates) 11-5.
Ashley stroked an RBI single in the fifth inning before leading off a five-run seventh with a game-tying homer. The catcher, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, also slugged a two-run blast, his ninth, in the ninth. His last four-RBI game came on Aug. 8, 2006 for Princeton of the Appalachian League.

Quinn Stewart went 3-for-3 with his 21st homer and three RBIs for the Catfish (31-19). Matt Spring belted a two-run double, Jairo De La Rosa drew a bases-loaded walk and Ryan Royster, who had homered in eight of his previous 10 games, added a run-scoring base hit.

Reliever Wilton Noel (5-1) surrendered three hits and a walk while fanning two in 4 1/3 scoreless innings for the win. Starter Ryan Morse gave up three runs on three hits, six walks and two wild pitches with three strikeouts in 2 2/3 frames.

The win means the Catfish earn at least a split with the Northern Division leaders. And it keeps the Catfish on pace with Southern Division leaders Asheville. The Catfish trail Asheville by 1/2 game.

The final game of the series is tonight. The Catfish host Asheville in a 4-game series, starting Thursday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Surreal Life: WuzzaDem

Previously ... on "The Surreal Life"...

Even though I'm not making pornos like Screech, I'm still in demand. My fans love me.

Ohhhh!!! I never did porn. But I do screech a lot!

Well, having that regular gig at WuzzaDem means I'll never have to do porn again.

I got my name back when I did porn.

You mean that "Wolf Blitzer" isn't your real name?

Are you kidding? If I had that name as a child, I'd have been beaten up and had my lunch money taken every day at school. And I'd have grown up being a self-absorbed ass who was trying to compensate for having an inferiority complex.

If I'd have been beaten up at school every day, I could have ended up working for Jimmy Carter.

Ha! That's nothing. I might have ended up with multiple personalities.

Yeah, you are lucky about that.

Very lucky.

I know how lucky I am to have my job at WuzzaDem. If it wasn't for John, I'd still be working for the Hangman.

I used to be a hangman. Great job. Place the hood, adjust the rope, pull the lever. Bye bye!

I'm really fortunate. The job at WuzzaDem is a great job. But at least I have a skill to fall back on if, God forbid, it ever end.

Well, personally, I don't like that WuzaDem guy. He makes fun of me.

Well, you can't fault him for that. I mean, have you ever looked in the mirror?

You're someone to talk.

Look, fellas, I can't stand all this drama. John gave me a job after Microsoft kicked me to the curb. I went to Apple to find work. I asked PC Guy for a recommendation, but he acted like he didn't even know me. John was nice enough to help me out when I was down and out.

Yeah, you're right. Helluva guy. Here's to John!

To John.

To John.

To John.

And to Mrs. R...

And now, tonight ... on "The Surreal Life" ...

The paper's here!

WTF??!! John's closing up shop?

Shop? I like to shop!

No, you ditzy broad! He's closing down WuzzaDem.

Does this mean he'll quit picking on me?

Oh, I'm sure others will pick up the slack.

Yeah, that's a given.

So, what are you guys gonna do now?

I've got my other job.

Speaking of which, I'm looking forward to filming some more scenes with you, "Wolf."