Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A bad day at the ballpark beats a good day at work

Basil, Catfish fanI like my job. I really do.

But I like baseball better.

So, when the Columbus Catfish announced their schedule, and I saw two weekday games, I immediately put in for those two days off.

One of those was today.

And it wasn't a good day at the ballpark. The Asheville Tourists doubled up the Catfish today, 4-2, before 1,429 fans, most of whom were schoolkids.

It was "Baseball in Education Day" ... most of which was hippie talk about Earth Day or some crap. They had exhibits and such, and the police were promoting safety, but most of it looked like something Al Gore would have written up.

The baseball game wasn't much better.

Although the kids seemed to enjoy the game.

Asheville jumped out to a 4-0 lead after 5 innings, chasing starter Brian Flores after 4. Actually, that's unfair. Flores began the season in the bullpen, and hadn't gone more than 3 innings in any appearance. He was tagged for 3 runs on 3 hits, and struck out 9, so that's not a bad outing. But the lack of run support meant he got hit with his first loss ... and first decision in 9 outings ... of the year.

Jesse Darcy went 4, allowing a run on 3 hits, picking up 5 strikeouts.

The Catfish ended the 1st and 3rd innings with a runner on third. But in the 6th, they punched two across. With 2 outs, RF Maiko Loyola singled, then back to back doubles by 3B Greg Sexton and LF Reid Fronk cut the lead to 4-2.

Asheville starter Jhoulys Chacin worked a quick game, keeping the Catfish off balance most of the day.

The loss drops the Catfish to 11-15, and puts them in the position of needing both remaining games in the series to gain a split.

Me? I'm already ahead. I got to take off work and go to a baseball game.

Life is good.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Well THAT was ugly...

Basil, Catfish fanIf it wasn't for the 7 runs that Asheville scored in the 9th inning, the Columbus Catfish would have only lost by 8 runs.

That's the good news.

And that's about the only good news of the night.

What should have been a fun pitching matchup turned into batting practice for the visiting Asheville Tourists, who clobbered 22 hits in their 16-1 win over the Catfish tonight. It's the worst loss by a Columbus team since ... well, I'm still searching for that.

Catfish starter Jason Ragan pitched into the 4th inning, allowing 6 runs on 10 hits ... including 3 home runs ... in 3-plus innings work, getting tagged with his first loss of the season.

The Catfish only managed 5 hits, but coaxed 5 walks out of the Asheville staff.

Oh, that pitching matchup? We got half of it. The Asheville half. Tourists starter Sheng-An Kuo had his best outing of the year, pitching 7-2/3 innings, finally running out of gas and hitting his pitch count at the same time. It's only his second game where he made it through the 5th inning. He's won both of those games.

The Catfish kept it from being a shut-out when they scored in the 5th. C Mike McCormick doubled, then moved to third and then scored on back-to-back ground outs by DH Stephen Vogt and 1B Henry Wrigley.

The Catfish threatened at times during the game, but couldn't put anything together against Kuo. The 1st inning ended when RF Maiko Loyola was caught stealing third. The 2nd ended with LF Reid Fronk stranded at third. The 8th ended with the bases loaded. And the game ended with a runner in scoring position for the Catfish.

The Catfish look to put this night behind them. They take on Asheville in game two of this four-game series tomorrow morning at 11:00.

Monday, April 28, 2008

No fan o' Hannah Montana

Miley CyrusYou seen those pictures?

The ones of Miley Cyrus? The Hannah Montana kid? Billy Ray Cyrus' little girl?

She's showing up in Vanity Fair almost wearing clothes.

To be fair, there is no nudity. Unless you count her back.

She's topless. But holding what looks like a sheet.

In reality, the pictures are no big deal.


Vanity Fair says Miley's parents were at the photo shoot. Which, you would think, means that it's all okay.

Except it isn't. It just shows that Miley's folks don't have good sense.

You think I'd let my 15-year-old daughter be in pictures like that?

Heck, I wouldn't let my 24-year-old daughter be in pictures like that!

You think for one minute I'd put up with a photo session that included the instructions, "Okay, now take off your shirt and bra?"

So, what have we learned?

We've learned that 15-year-olds sometimes make bad decisions. No, wait. Scratch that. We knew that already.

Okay then, we've learned that some celebrity parents -- whether the parents are celebrities or just the parents of celebrities -- make bad decisions.

No, scratch that, too. We knew that already. Remember, Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears have parents.

So, what did we learn?

I'm thinking same thing celebrities learn.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Catfish drop finale to Charleston

Photo: Melissa Haneline / The Post and Courier
Columbus Catfish Maiko Loyla (24) attempts to take second base in this weekend's series in Charleston
The short 4-game series in Charleston ended like it began: with a Catfish loss. The 2 wins in between, though, were nice. The Catfish fell to the RiverDogs (Yankees), 8-3 today.

Charleston took a 4-0 lead before the Catfish closed the gap in the 5th. With 1 out, DH Shawn Williams doubled, then SS Omar Luna reached, with both runners winding up in scoring position. CF Emeel Salem singled home Williams, while Luna scored on an error. RF Maiko Loyola grounded out to short, scoring Salem, making it 4-3.

That's as close as the Catfish got. 3 in the 5th and another in the 6th put Charleston up 8-3.

Catfish starter Josh Johnson went 3-1/3 innings, allowing 4 runs on 3 hits, walking 5 and hitting 1. He struck out one Charleston batter. He was tagged with his 3rd loss of the year.

John Baird went an inning and 2/3, allowing 3 runs, 1 earned, on 3 hits. Brian Flores went an inning, allowing a run on 1 hit, getting 1 K. Kevin Boggan finished the game for the Catfish, allowing 1 hit and striking out 2.

Only 4 Catfish managed to get a hit off the Charleston staff, and none of the 3 Catfish runs were earned. Loyola stole 2 bases, his 10th and 11th of the year, 4th best in the league. He's 2 steals out of 2nd place, behind league leader and teammate Salem, who has 21.

The loss means the Catfish split with Charleston. They are off Monday, and open a 4-game home stand against Asheville, starting Tuesday.

Paradise by the cell phone light

Normally, I'd pretty much ignore any TV commercial for a cell phone. At least until it's time to renew or change.

It's time. Or coming up soon, anyway.

I suspect many people are that way. You know, in the middle of a contract with Alltel, so when the "Can you hear me now" guy comes on, they tune out.

And cell phone companies know that. So they try to make their commercials more interesting.

Which explains the new AT&T commercial for their "GoPhone" product.

Have you seen it? I'm sure you have. It stars Meat Loaf, Tiffany, and Adam Cagley (who lip-syncs the Isaac Young vocals) as Dad, Mom, and Junior, with the commercial being based upon Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."

If you don't remember the original song -- surely you do, right? -- or if you haven't seen the video, it stars Meat Loaf, of course, with Karla DeVito lip-syncing Ellen Foley's vocals.

Again, the commercial is for the AT&T GoPhone. Their prepaid phone.

Which might be a good thing.

Might keep the customer from singing, "Now I'm praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Catfish take out Charleston again

Photo: Melissa Haneline / The Post and Courier
Columbus Catfish Glenn Gibson (49) pitches against the RiverDogs.
The Columbus Catfish beat the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) 7-4 Saturday, winning their second game in a row.

With the bases loaded and no one out, 3B Greg Sexton drove in CF Emeel Salem on a ground out to short. With 1 out, Charleston P Noel Castillo walked three straight, scoring RF Maiko Loyola and 2B Cody Cipriano, giving the Catfish a 3-0 lead.

Charleston tied the game with a 2-run homer in the 2nd and a sacrifice fly in the 3rd.

In the 4th, the Catfish put another run on the board when SS Omar Luna, who doubled and moved to third on a balk, scored on an error.

In the 7th, LF Reid Fronk drove in Cipriano, then scored himself on a single by C Mike McCormick, putting the Catfish up 6-3.

With 2 outs in the 8th, Salem singled, stole second -- his league-leading 21st stolen base of the year -- and scored on a single by Loyola.

Charleston added a run in the 7th, making it 7-4, the final score.

Glenn Gibson went 5 innings, allowing 3 runs, walking a pair, and striking 1 out. It was his first win of the year. Chris Fessler went 2 innings, allowing just 1 hit, and recording 1 K. Justin Garcia pitched the final 2 innings, allowing a run on 1 hit.

Loyola and McCormick had 2 hits for the Catfish. Every other Catfish either reached base or had an RBI.

The win is the 2nd in a row for the Catfish over Charleston, and Charleston's 2nd home loss of the season. Tomorrow's series finale gives the Catfish a chance to take the series against the division leader.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Catfish take out Charleston

Alex Cobb allowed one hit in 5-1/3 innings work as the Columbus Catfish took a 4-0 lead, holding on for a 6-3 win over the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) tonight.

DH Greg Sexton was the 4th straight Catfish to reach in the top of the 1st, driving in CF Emeel Salem, who had reached on an error, and 2B Joey Callender, who singled, putting the Catfish up 2-0.

In the 6th, Callender's 2-out single scored SS Omar Luna, who had singled and stolen second, making it 3-0.

The 7th inning saw Sexton and LF Stephen Vogt hit back-to-back doubles, putting the Catfish up 4-0.

Charleston scored a pair in the 8th, closing the gap, but the Catfish got the runs back in the 9th.

Vogt walked, C Mike McCormick reached on a fielder's choice, and, with 2 outs, they scored when Luna reached on an error, putting the Catfish up 6-2.

Charleston scored a run in the 9th, but the rally was cut short, and the Catfish had their 2nd win against the RiverDogs this season.

Cobb struck out 6 in his 5-1/3 innings work, and picked up his 3rd win. Travis Barnett pitched 2-1/3, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, recording 5 Ks. Travis Risser went the last inning and a third to notch his 5th save, striking out the final batter of the game.

Every Catfish batter reached base at least once tonight. Sexton led all batters, going 3-for-4, including 2 doubles, 2 RBIs and a run scored. Callender, McCormick, Luna, and RF Maiko Loyola all had 2 hits.

The win snaps a 4-game losing streak against Charleston, and snapped Charleston's 8-game win streak overall.

The 3rd game of the series is Saturday night, with the Catfish looking for a win to earn at least a split in the series. Charleston will be trying to avoid their 2nd home lost of the season.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Catfish drop another to Charleston

The Columbus Catfish led early, but couldn't hold on, as they fell again to the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees), 5-3 tonight.

The Catfish opened the scoring in the 2nd, when SS Omar Luna singled, driving in DH Reid Fronk and LF Stephen Vogt, who both reached on walks.

Charleston took the lead with a run in the 3rd, and two in the 6th, but the Catfish tied it up on a solo shot by 1B Henry Wrigley in the top of the 7th.

A 2-run shot in the 8th, put Charleston up 5-3, and the Catfish couldn't get anything going in the 9th, going down in order on three strikeouts.

The Catfish only managed 4 hits on the night, but did have some opportunities against Charleston. Thy wasted those opportunities. RF Maiko Loyola singled, stole second, and took third on an error, but was unable to score in the 1st inning. In the 2nd, Luna was left on third base after the Catfish had already scored a pair. Fronk reached in the 4th, but was caught stealing, and CF Emeel Salem reached in the 8th, but was caught in a rundown for the third out.

The loss was the 5th in 6 games, 4 of those losses coming to Charleston.

Scheduled starter Jeremy Hall was placed on the 7-day designated list this week, and his spot was filled by reliever Brian Flores. Flores went 3 innings, allowing a run on 4 hits, and striking out a pair. Jesse Darcy went the next 3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, with a couple of strikeouts. Kevin Boggan pitched the last 2 innings, giving up the game-winning home run in the 8th, and getting charged with his 1st loss of the year.

The series continues tomorrow night, as the Catfish hope to halt Charleston's 7-game winning streak.

This whole video camera thing...

I've been trying my hand at video at the Catfish games lately.

My cell phone takes really, really small, really, really low quality videos.

But, when I take one, I can upload it to YouTube really, really easily.

But the quality, like I said, is low. Sometimes, it's okay, but sometimes, it's not.

Last couple of nights, I've been playing with The Wife's video camera. She has a JVC GR-D270U. That's a decent video camera for a beginner. Only, I need to get a lot better before I'm a beginner.

Where I sit at the baseball games in Columbus -- season tickets right behind home plate -- is nearly the same view the local TV stations offer when they show clips from the games.

WTVM/WXTX and WRBL will often send someone -- sometimes a pair of folks -- to the games. They'll set up behind me, and catch the action. Or some of it.

Often, they can only stay for a few innings, and never for the whole game. That's because they're covering local high school games, college games, and other sporting events. Oh, and then putting it all together to go on the air.

Most of the time, it's the on-air personality that is taping highlights. And he's the same guy that has to go back to the office, dub it from tape to the mixing equipment, find the clips he wants to use, write up enough script to describe the action and summarize the game.

And he's got to do that for the Catfish, the Cougars (Columbus State), and all the local high school games they can get to.

And that's between air shifts and meetings.

Having worked radio news and sports, I understand some of what they have to go through. But doing it with video is harder.

Take a look at this recent YouTube video I shot, my first from The Wife's camera:

See what happened?

I have a shaky camera, first of all. That's never good.

When the batter hits the ball to right field, I tried to follow the ball with the camera. I failed.

I did catch each base runner crossing the plate. But notice when the second runner is approaching the plate, you can see the batter rounding second base in the background. I missed getting the batter runner (yes, that's the correct term: "batter runner") arriving at third base to completer the triple.

See? Sloppy camera work.

If I worked for one of the local TV stations ... well, I wouldn't work there long. They'd send my happy butt to the curb in short order.

Now, just a clarification. I'm not trying to do camera work because I think it's easy. I know it's not. I knew it wouldn't be.

I'll never on par with Dave or Andrew or Jack or Chris or any of the local TV crews. I'm not trying to be.

I'm just trying to have a good time. My MacBook is supposed be useful for doing video. And since I have access to The Wife's video camera, I thought I'd give it a shot.

It's not easy. And the video doesn't look that good. But, hey, if you want good video, turn on the TV. If you want sports fan quality stuff ... well, that's what I'm aiming for. And, one day, I'll hit the mark.

Catfish stop slide, end home stand with win

Basil, Catfish fanGreg Sexton drove in a pair of runs in the 1st inning to stake the Columbus Catfish to an early lead, and the Catfish took advantage of some Rome miscues as they beat the Braves 5-2 Wednesday night, closing out a home stand with a win.

In the Catfish half of the 1st, CF Emeel Salem singled, stole second, and move to third on a ground out. RF Reid Fronk was hit by a pitch. Then Sexton, the Catfish 3B, tripled to right, putting the Catfish up 2-0.

The lead increased to 3-0 in the 2nd. 1B Henry Wrigley singled. 2B Joey Callender laid down a bunt that succeeded in moving Fronk to second. But as Fronk reached second, third was unguarded, and he beat the throw and the third baseman to the bag. When the throw went to the screen by the third base picnic area, Fronk scored, and the Catfish were up by three.

Rome closed the gap in the 5th, 3-2, on a 2-run triple by SS Michael Fisher.

DH Cody Cipriano scored in the bottom of the 5th on an error, after having doubled, and moving to third on a ground out.

The Catfish capped the scoring in the 7th, when SS Omar Luna scored on a sacrifice fly by Cipriano.

The Catfish only managed 7 hits on the night, and Luna was the only Catfish player with two hits. But made the most of their opportunities, leaving just 4 runners on base.

Starter Jason Ragan allowed 6 hits over 5 innings, allowing at least 1 Rome base runner in every inning after the 1st, but the Catfish managed to keep Rome off the board, save the 2-run triple in the 5th. Ragan struck out 4, and picked up his 4th win of the season, tied for the league lead.

John Baird pitched 3 innings of relief, allowing a pair of hits and striking out 3. Travis Risser allowed a 2-out single in the 9th, but struck out local player Adam Coe to secure the win and pick up his 4th save.

The win gives the Catfish a split on the home stand, and 3 wins in 4 games against Rome during the home stand.

Thursday, the Catfish play the first of four games at division leader Charleston, before returning home on the 29th for four against Asheville.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Catfish slide continues

Basil, Catfish fanThat 5-game winning streak is starting to fade from memory now. The Rome Braves handed the Columbus Catfish their 4th straight loss tonight, 6-1, as the home stand winds down.

Rome built a 6-0 lead over the Catfish tonight, scoring a run in the 3rd on a single and a double; 3 in the 4th on 3 singles and a double; and a pair in the 6th on a double and 2 singles.

Catfish starter Josh Johnson was plagued by ground and fly balls that seemed to avoid the Catfish defense, as Rome tallied 10 hits in 5-2/3 innings, en route to the 6-0 lead.

Reliever Justin Garcia fared better, allowing a single in the 7th, but no other Rome base runners, striking out 5 along the way. Jesse Darcy pitched a perfect 9th for the Catfish.

Offensively, the Catfish had a hard time getting going.

2B Cody Cipriano doubled in the 1st inning, but was thrown out at home trying to score on a Greg Sexton (3B) single to end the inning.

The Catfish loaded the bases in the 3rd. SS Omar Luna singled then stole second and third. LF Reid Fronk was hit by a pitch, and Sexton walked, but the Catfish were unable to push anyone across.

The Catfish got on the board in the 7th, when DH Shawn Williams scored on an error, after reaching on a fielder's choice, then advancing to third on a Luna single and a ground out by CF Emeel Salem.

The Catfish managed a base runner in the 8th, and two in the 9th, but were again unable to score.

The loss drops Johnson to 1-2, and ups his ERA to 4.35.

Luna was the only batter to gather more than 1 hit, as Rome held the offense to 6 hits. Still, the Catfish had their chances, leaving 11 runners on base, 5 in scoring position.

With the loss, the best the Catfish can hope for on the home stand is an overall split. They beat Rome in 2 games to start the stand, then lost 3 of 4 to Charleston, before tonight's loss. A win tomorrow night earns a home stand split, and would give the Catfish a 3-1 home stand record against Rome. Jason Ragan (3-0, 0.47 ERA) takes the mound for the Catfish Wednesday night.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two former Catfish pick up Florida State League honors

Last week, the Columbus Catfish has the South Atlantic League pitcher of the week (Josh Ragan). This week, others in the SAL were honored for outstanding performances. But two former Catfish picked up honors in the Florida State League.

Jeremy Hellickson, who played for the Catfish last year, and who now plays for Rays High-A affiliate Vero Beach, was named the FSL pitcher of the week.

With all the attention on guys like David Price, Wade Davis and Jacob McGee, Hellickson has been a bit under the radar among Rays pitching prospects, but he's making a bid to emerge. Hellickson was fantastic in his lone start of the week, a 3-1 victory over Jupiter. With the winds blowing in, Hellickson held Jupiter to just three hits, and the game was completed in two hours and 11 minutes as a result. His 13 strikeouts were a career high for the Iowan, who fanned 10 batters twice last season for Class A Columbus. With 23 strikeouts already this year, Hellickson is three off the league lead, owned by teammate Heath Rollins, who has started one more game than Hellickson.

Not to be outdone, Hellickson's teammate, Matt Fields, who played for the Catfish last season, too, picked up FSL player of the week honors.

Fields has turned around a slow start with a five-game hitting streak that has seen his average jump 150 points. His double on Monday was his first extra-base hit since Opening Day, but it began a stretch in which Fields would collect eight two-baggers in seven games. His dynamic week culminated in the Devil Rays' trio of victories over the weekend as Fields went 8-for-11 with three walks and four extra-base hits. He scored three times after reaching base on five occasions Sunday, and he ripped his fourth home run of the season. After striking out 12 times in nine games to start the year, Fields whiffed just three times on the week.

I'm always excited when a player I had the opportunity to cheer for in the past continues to do well as his baseball career progresses.

Hellickson, Fields, and other members of last year's Catfish team will continue to play well, and may very well be in the majors in a few short years. Several Catfish players from years past have made it to the show. More will. And some from this year's team will, too.

And that's one of the great things about minor league baseball. You get to see superstars when they're just starting out. It's great watching a ball player grow and develop.

Catfish drop third straight, series to Charleston

Basil, Catfish fanAfter taking the first game of the series with the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees), the Columbus Catfish have now dropped three straight games, and dropped the series with Charleston, concluding with tonight's 7-2 loss.

Down 2-0 in the 2nd inning, C Mike McCormick blasted a 2-run homer off the billboard in left-center, driving in 2B Cody Cipriano, who had doubled to start the inning.

That tied the game at two, and Catfish fans thought the tide had turned.

It hadn't.

Charleston scratched out a run in the 5th, when CF Abraham Almonte, who had singled and stolen two bases in the inning, scored on a swinging strikeout wild pitch that would have been the third out.

Charleston added another run on a wild pitch in the 6th, 2 in the 7th on a 2-run triple by RF Dave Williams, and another in the 9th on back-to-back doubles.

A double play ended a Catfish threat in the 5th, a Cipriano double went for naught in the 6th, and an Emeel Salem triple in the 8th developed into nothing.

Cipriano and McCormick each had 2 hits for the Catfish. Salem and SS Omar Luna were the only other Catfish to get a hit off the Charleston pitching staff tonight.

Glenn Gibson pitched well, going 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 5 in the losing effort. He's 0-3 on the season. Kevin Boggan also allowed 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 1, in 2 innings work. Chris Fessler allowed 2 hits in the 8th, getting 1 K. Travis Risser allowed a run on 3 hits in the 9th.

The loss drops the Catfish to 8-10, 7 games off the pace.

They look to turn it around tomorrow night when the Rome Braves return for a pair of games.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

6th and 7th innings do in Catfish

Basil, Catfish fanTake away the 6th and 7th innings, and the Columbus Catfish would have won today. But that's now how baseball is. All at-bats, all innings, all runs count. And that meant the Catfish lost to the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) 11-7 today.

Things started well enough. Catfish CF Emeel Salem reached on an error, then 2B Cody Cipriano hit a massive shot off the scoreboard netting over the Sonic sign in left-center, giving the Catfish an early 2-0 lead.

Then, with 2 outs in the 2nd, 1B Henry Wrigley hit a solo shot over the St. Francis sign in left.

Catfish starter Alex Cobb would keep Charleston off-balance through 5 innings, save an Abraham Almonte home run to right in the top of the 5th.

With the Catfish leading 3-1 in the 6th inning, things fell apart. Cobb appeared to suffer a twinge in his arm or shoulder, but shook it off after the trainer checked on him. However, an error, a single, and two doubles gave Charleston a 4-3 lead.

John Baird came on in relief, walked a batter, got the second out, but allowed an Almonte homer off the clubhouse roof in right, putting Charleston up 7-3.

In the bottom of the 6th, RF Maiko Loyola walked, advanced to third on a single by C Mike McCormick and an error by LF Austin Krum. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Wrigley.

Charleston added four more in the 7th. Wady Rufino blasted a 3-run shot over the door in the outfield wall in left-center, giving Charleston an 11-4 lead.

The Catfish didn't quit, though. 1B Shawn Williams and SS Joey Callender singled. Williams made it to third on a double play ball that erased Callender. He scored on a Cipriano single. DH Reid Fronk doubles, driving in Cipriano. 3B Greg Sexton reached on an error, scoring Fronk, and closing the gap to 11-7. After Loyola walked, Jason Stephens came in for Charleston and got McCormick to pop up, ending the game.

Cobb allowed 3 earned runs, 5 overall, on 9 hits in 5-1/3 innings work. He struck out a pair, and was tagged with the loss. He's now 2-2 on the year, with his ERA up to 2.45. Baird worked 1-2/3 innings, allowing 6 runs, all earned. Brian Flores worked the last 2 for the Catfish, allowing 2 hits and striking out three.

At the plate, Wrigley was 2-for-2, with a homer and 2 RBIs. Callender was 3-for-4. Cipriano was 2-for-5, with a homer, 2 runs scored, and 3 RBIs. Every Catfish batter reached base at least once in the game. They left 8 on base, 6 in scoring position.

The Catfish fall to 8-9 with the loss, and need a win tomorrow to earn a split with Charleston. The home stand concludes with Rome coming to town for games Tuesday and Wednesday.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Catfish win streak ends at four

Basil, Catfish fanLast night, the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees) starter pitched well -- good enough to win -- but ended up taking the loss. Tonight, Columbus Catfish starter Jeremy Hall had the same fate befall him.

Hall allowed a run on 3 hits in 4 innings and struck out 3, but lack of run support from the Catfish offense left him with a loss.

Charleston scored a run on back-to-back 1-out doubles in the 2nd inning. It was enough, but the RiverDogs added to that lead. A solo home run in the 4th inning off Catfish reliever Justin Garcia gave Charleston a 2-0 lead. And 4 runs off Chris Fessler in the 9th extended the Charleston lead to 6-0, the final score.

Charleston's Dellin Betances only allowed 2 hit in 5 innings work en route to his 3rd win of the season. Despite only 2 hits, the Catfish threatened a few times.

In the 1st, the Catfish had CF Emeel Salem on third base with 1 out, but were unable to score.

C Ian Paxton made it to second with 1 out in the 2nd, but was stranded.

The 3rd saw 2B Cody Cipriano walk and steal second, with 1 out, but could advance no further.

RF Maiko Loyola walked, stole second and then third, but a double play kept the Catfish off the board.

Cipriano walked and advanced to third on an error in the 5th, but was left stranded.

Paxton and Salem made it to scoring position in the 7th, but saw the inning end before they were able to score.

All these missed chances were a turnaround from the night before, when the Catfish managed to manufacture runs almost at will. Nine runners stranded, 7 in scoring position, made all the difference.

Only Salem, Sexton, and Paxton had hits. The Catfish coaxed seven walks out of the Charleston pitching staff.

The loss was the first decision by Hall this year. Though he pitched well enough to win, he's now 0-1. Justin Garcia pitched 2 innings, allowing a home run. Jesse Darcy allowed 2 hits, and struck out a pair. Fessler allowed 4 runs on 3 hits, a walk, and a bases-loaded hit batsman in the 9th.

The loss snapped a 4-game winning streak for the Catfish, as well as stopping Charleston's 2-game slide.

Game three of the four game series is Sunday afternoon. Alex Cobb is scheduled to be on the mound for the Catfish, looking for this 3rd win.

Catfish down Charleston

Basil, Catfish fanThe top team in the South Atlantic League came to Columbus Friday night. They're still the top team. But only if you look at the record. The Columbus Catfish showed why they could claim to be the top team in the league, after their 6-3 win over the Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees).

Starter Jason Ragan went 7 innings, allowing 1 run, out-dueling Charleston's Zach McAllister en route to his 3rd win of the season.

Ragan set down the first 12 batters he faced before allowing a lead-off double and a 2-out single in the 5th.

McAllister kept the Catfish off-balance for most of the 6 innings he faced them. However, the Catfish made the most of the scant opportunities presented.

In the bottom of the 1st, with 1 out, 2B Cody Cipriano was hit on the arm by a pitch. He moved to third on a grounder through the gap to right field by RF Maiko Loyola. Loyola stole second easily. 3B Greg Sexton advanced the runners, driving in Cipriano on a grounds out to short. McAllister struck out LF Stephen Vogt, but Charleston C Austin Romine let the ball get past him, allowing Vogt to make it to first and Loyola to score, putting the Catfish up 2-0 on just 1 hit.

The Catfish got 2 base runners on in the 2nd, but were unable to score. DH Seth Dhaenens, who had singled earlier, tried to score from second on a single by CF Emeel Salem, but Charleston LF Austin Krum threw him out on a perfect throw from left, ending the inning.

The Catfish were kept off the bases until the 5th. SS Omar Luna reached on a fielder's choice, stole second, and moved to third on the same play, when McAllister's pitch to the plate was wild. Salem reached on an error that allowed him to take second and Luna to score, giving the Catfish a 3-1 lead.

In the 7th, against the Charleston bullpen, Dhaenens doubled, then went to third on a 1-out bunt single by Salem. Cipriano laid down a sacrifice bunt to first, scoring Dhaenens, putting the 'Fish up 4-1.

Reliever Kevin Boggan took over for Ragan in the 8th, and the wheels nearly fell off. But not because of a bad outing by Boggan. He struck out the first batter, but allowed a single to C Austin Romine. A double play ball by SS Carmen Angelini to Cipriano turned into a near disaster. He threw wild to Luna, allowing Charleston to have two runners in scoring position. Romaine scored on a single by RF David Williams, who got hung up between first and second when Luna cut the throw off from Loyola. When Angelini tried to score on the run-down, Cipriano threw wild to the plate, allowing the run to score and Williams to take second. With the gap closed to 4-3, Boggan set down the next two batters to end the Charleston rally.

With 1 out in the bottom of the 8th, Vogt singled, then scored when C Mike McCormick singled, and the ball got away from Krum. McCormick made it to third before the ball got back to the infield. 1B Henry Wrigley singled to center, scoring McCormick, and the Catfish lead was back up to 3 runs, 6-3.

Boggan got a ground out, a fly ball out, and 2 stike outs in the 9th to seal the win for Ragan and pick up his first save.

Dahnens had a 3-for-3 night, with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Salem was 2-for-3. Luna was 0-for-4, dropping his team-leading average to .370, but he did score a run. Cipriano was also hitless in 2 at-bats, but scored and dove in a run. The rest of the Catfish each had a hit.

Ragan struck out 3, allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 7 innings. Boggan also struck out 3 in 2 innings work, allowing 2 unearned runs on 2 hits.

The win was the 4th in a row, and the 6th in 7 games, for the Catfish, who improved to 8-7, and moved in to 4th place, 4 games behind Charleston.

The two teams face off again Saturday night.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

So where do all the Chinese restaurant owners go on Monday?

We've had some major projects going on at work recently, and that's meant some long hours. And time away from The Wife.

Oh, and baseball season has started. And The Wife doesn't go to all the games. She likes to get her beauty sleep, you see. And likes to be in bed before 9:30. She also likes to watch her "stories" -- Guiding Light and As The World Turns -- on the TiVo. So, like I said, she doesn't go to all the games.

But I go to all the games. All I can, anyway.

That means we don't always get a chance to get together for supper easily. Sure, we can make plans for supper, but we are used to not making plans. We're used to just both being available.

With work recently ... and now with baseball season ... it's different. We have to make plans.

So, when we decide to get together for supper, it's the usual.

"Hey, where do you want to go?"

"I don't know. Where do you want to go?"

"It doesn't really matter. What are you in the mood for?"

"I don't know? What do you have a taste for?"

"Whatever you want."

And so on.

Often, it ends with me driving to some place, hoping it's something she's in the mood for.

Our tastes are different. We both eat Southern, American, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Italian ... you get the idea. We just like the different types of food to different degrees.

For instance, she'd eat Mexican every day. I wouldn't.

She'd eat Chinese every day. I wouldn't.

I'd eat hamburgers or pizza every day. She wouldn't.

Sure, we both eat traditional Southern cooking, but there aren't a lot of places open for that for supper. For dinner (that's lunch, if you ain't from 'round here) the area is practically crawling with Southern eating. But not for supper. Or, at least, not a lots of places.

So, that means for supper, we'll do burgers, sandwiches (Subway, or other similar), Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Italian ... or something.

Like I said, she could eat Chinese every day. I couldn't. But some days, I'm in the mood for Chinese.

So, on Monday, neither of us had to work late, no ball game in town, and we decided to go out for supper.

"Hey, where do you want to go?"

"I don't know. Where do you want to go?"

"It doesn't really matter. What are you in the mood for?"

"I don't know? What do you have a taste for?"

"Whatever you want."

And, since I was driving, I got to choose.

So, we headed for a Chinese restaurant. One in Phenix City.

There are lots of good Chinese restaurants in the area. Best is probably Chef Lee's, which is regularly one of the top 100 Chinese restaurants in the U.S.

But there are other good ones, too. And one of The Wife's favorites is China Garden in Phenix City. She's been going there ever since it opened, and really likes it. And, yes, the food and service is always very good.

So, Monday, we headed that way.

Only, the thing is, it's closed on Monday. And I forgot that.

And, thinking about it, several Oriental restaurants -- not all, but lots in the area -- are closed on Mondays.

And I don't know why.

I want to know. Or at least, I think I want to know. I might not.

But, no ball game tonight. No need to work late ... unless something breaks or suddenly catches fire. So, tonight, we might be going out for Chinese.

Maybe I'll ask them why they close on Monday. And why others in the area do, too.

On the other hand, maybe I'll just enjoy the meal and be thankful it's not Monday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Catfish win in 10, reach .500

Basil, Catfish fanIt took extra innings, but the Columbus Catfish reached the .500 mark for the first time this season by beating the Rome Braves 2-1 tonight.

Rome jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, scoring in the top of the first on two doubles ... with a walk sandwiched in between.

Rome managed 7 hits in the first 4 innings, but couldn't score beyond that sole run in the first inning. Starter Josh Johnson got out of a bases loaded jam in the 3rd inning, and C Mike McCormick threw out three Rome base runners trying to steal, including 1 in the top of the 10th inning. Rome left 9 runners on base, 5 in scoring position.

Rome's pitching staff kept the Catfish off balance most of the night. Through 5 innings, the Catfish had 1 hit, an infield single by Emeel Salem in the 4th. The first Catfish batted ball to leave the infield, left the outfield, too. DH Cody Cipriano hit a solo home run that tied the game in the 6th inning.

The Catfish only managed one other hit before the 10th inning. But in the 10th, they managed to finally string some hits together.

With 2 outs, 1B Henry Wrigley singled up the middle. 2B Joey Callender reached on an infield single, setting up the win, when SS Omar Luna singled down the right field line, scoring Wrigley and giving the Catfish a 2-1 win.

Luna was the only Catfish batter to have more than 1 hit. He went 2-for-4, raising his average to .405, 3rd highest in the league.

Johnson allowed 1 run on 6 hits in 5 innings work, walking a couple and striking out four. Travis Barnett made his first appearance for the Catfish tonight. The right-handed side-arm pitcher went 2 innings, allowing 1 hit, walking 2, and striking out 3. John Baird pitched the 8th, 9th, and 10th innings, allowing 1 hit, walking 1, and striking out 3, and got the win, his first.

Local native Adam Coe was DH for Rome tonight. He had a single and a double, and was caught stealing.

The win was the Catfish' 3rd in a row and 5th of their last 6 games. They've evened their season record to 7-7, the first time this year they've been at .500. And, it's their first sweep, although a short 2-game series.

The Catfish are off Thursday, opening a 4-game series with division leader Charleston on Friday night, before hosting Rome again for another pair of games.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Catfish surge continues

Basil, Catfish fanAfter opening the season with three straight losses, and 6 losses in their first 8 games, the Columbus Catfish rebound continues. The Catfish beat the Rome Braves 6-3 tonight, to improve their record to 6-7, their 4th win in 5 games.

Rome jumped out to an early lead, scoring single runs in each of the first three innings.

The Catfish tied it up in the bottom of the third. With 1 out, LF Shawn Williams singled and moved to second when SS Omar Luna walked. CF Emeel Salem picked up two RBIs on a double down the left field line. 2B Cody Cipriano follwed with a walk. A double steal put both runners in scoring position, and Salem scored on a ground out by RF Maiko Loyola, tying the game at 3.

Things stayed knotted up until the 6th inning, when Loyola hit his 2nd home run of the season, a high fly ball that dropped over the wall in right-center, putting the Catfish up 4-3.

The 8th inning saw the Catfish extend the lead. With 1 out, 3B Greg Sexton walked, then scored on C Stephen Vogt's double to center that got away from Rome CF Carlos Lee. Vogt didn't get the RBI, but the run was earned, because, with 2 outs, 1B Henry Wrigley singled, scoring Vogt from second, and making it 6-3, Catfish.

The Catfish bullpen did a great job of shutting down Rome. Starter Glenn Gibson went 4 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out a pair. Reliever Christopher Fessler pitched 2 innings, allowing a double by Columbus/Phenix City native Adam Coe in the 6th inning, hitting one batter, walking another, striking out a pair, and picking up the win, his first of the year.

Brian Flores pitched 2 perfect innings, striking out 5 of the 6 batters he faced. Travis Risser set down the 3 Rome batters in the 9th inning to pick up his 3rd save.

Salem was the only Catfish batter to have more than 1 hit, a single and a double. He had 2 RBIs. Loyola had a pair of RBIs.

The short, 2-game series with Rome ends tomorrow night. SAL Pitcher of the Week Jason Ragan is scheduled to be on the mound for the Catfish, squaring off against Rome left-hander Eric Barrett.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ragan named Pitcher of the Week

Photo: Hudson Valley Renegades
The first honor of the new season came today for the Columbus Catfish. Pitcher Jason Ragan was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week.

Ragan was named a New York-Penn League Mid-Season All-Star last season for the Hudson Valley Renegades.
South Atlantic League
Jason Ragan, Columbus

2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
Signed as an non-drafted free agent in 2006 after a good career at the University of Mobile, Ragan is looking like a steal after a fantastic start in full-season ball. Ragan has earned victories in both his starts, including a seven-inning masterpiece against Savannah on Saturday. Ragan garnered 13 groundouts in the victory, making life easy on the Catfish outfielders.
Last year, Catfish pitchers took SAL Pitcher of the Week honors five times.

Wade Townsend (April 22)
Heath Rollins (May 2)(July 15)(August 19)(September 3)
Jeremy Hall, Princeton (August 12)Players of the Week:
Matt Fields (June 24)
Emeel Salem, Hudson Valley (July 22)
Ryan Royster (August 12)

Catfish beat Savannah, take series, even road trip.

The Columbus Catfish won their first series of the year, and picked up a split on the road trip, beating the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) 7-4 tonight.

Things started well for the visitors.

With 2 outs in the 2nd inning, LF Stephen Vogt doubled on a fly ball to left, 1B Henry Wrigley walked, and SS Omar Luna singled to center, scoring Vogt and putting the Catfish up 1-0.

Savannah tied it up in the bottom of the 3rd, when Matthew Bouchard scored on a Jose Jimenez single.

The game stayed tied until the 6th inning. 3B Gregory Sexton doubled to start, moved to third on a ground out by Loyola, and scored on a sacrifice fly by C Mike McCormick. Vogt walked, then scored on a double by Wrigley. Luna singled to right field, scoring Wrigley, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it out.

With the Catfish up 4-1, Savannah's Richard Lucas closed the gap somewhat with a solo home run over the left field wall.

A single and a triple in the Savannah 7th made it 4-3.

In the 8th, the Catfish extended their lead. Sexton and Loyola singled to start the inning. With 1 out, Vogt loaded the based with a single. Wrigley reached on a fielder's choice, scoring Sexton, and putting runners on the corner. Following a pitching change, Luna singled, scoring Loyola and putting the Catfish up 6-3.

A hit batsman and two singles allowed Savannah to close the gap to 6-4 in the bottom of the 8th.

The Catfish added another run in the 9th. PH Seth Dhaenens reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second on a fly ball single by Sexton, and scored on a fielder's choice, with Loyola getting the RBI. That run put the Catfish up 7-4.

Luna was 4-for-4, with 3 RBIs to lead all batters. Sexton was 3-for-5, with a double and 2 runs scored. Vogt was 2-for-4 with a double and also scored twice, while Wrigley was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored.

Alex Cobb allowed a run on 4 hits over 5 innings, picking up his 2nd win of the year. He stuck out three. Justin Garcia allowed a pair of runs on 3 hits in 2 innings work. Jesse Darcy allowed a run on 2 hits in an inning's work. Travis Risser picked up his second save. He allowed 2 hits in the 9th, but struck out Lucas ... who hit that home run in the 6th ... to end the game.

The win was the 3rd in the 4-game series in Savannah, and gave the Catfish a 4-4 record on the road trip.

The Catfish return home tomorrow night, facing the Rome Braves in a pair of games, before hosting division leader Charleston beginning Friday night.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bullpen falls apart, Catfish lose to Savannah

Up 7-2 after 6 innings, the Columbus Catfish suffered a case of extreme bullpen collapse this afternoon in Savannah, losing to the Sand Gnats (Mets), 11-7.

The Catfish jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the 2nd inning. 3B Gregory Sexton doubled to center, RF Maiko Loyola reached on a bunt single, then LF Stephen Vogt doubled to center, scoring both Sexton and Loyola. Wit 2 outs, C Ian Paxton doubled, driving home Vogt, and putting the Catfish up by three runs.

A 2-out single by Savannah C Jordan Abruzzo scored DH Greg Veloz, who had singled and stolen second.

The Catfish extended the lead in the 4th. Loyola singled, stole second, then scored on a triple by Vogt. 1B Henry Wrigley followed with another triple, scoring Vogt and giving the Catfish a 5-1 lead.

The Catfish went up 6-1 in the 5th, when CF Emeel Salem reached on an error, made it to third on an errant pickoff attempt, and scored on a single by SS Joey Callender.

Savannah CF Daniel Stegall and SS Matthew Bouchard hit back to back doubles to make it 6-2 in the bottom of the 5th.

Vogt walked to lead the Catfish 6th, then stole second. He went to third on a single by Wrigley, and scored on a ground out by Paxton.

Up 7-2, and with reliever Brian Flores on the mound for starter Jeremy Hall, the Catfish fell apart in the 7th.

Bouchard singled for Savannah, then scored on a triple by Savannah 3B Richard Lucas. 1B Jose Jimenez homered, to make it 7-5.

John Baird came on in the 8th to try to shut the door on Savannah. He didn't. Despite having allowed only 1 earned run in 2 previous relief appearances, including 2 scoreless innings against Savannah on April 4, he couldn't hold Savannah today.

After getting the first batter out, Baird walked the next two, then allowed a single by Stegall, which loaded the bases. Baird walked in a run, then allowed a 2-run single to Lucas and a 3-run homer to Jimenez, and suddenly Savannah was up 11-7.

The Catfish were unable to get anything going in the 9th. Salem singled, but was erased on a double play. It was the only Catfish hit after Wrigley's single in the 6th.

Offensively, Loyola, Vogt, Wrigley, and Paxton had 2 hits each. Vogt led the Catfish with 3 RBI, while Paxton had a pair. Wrigley, Loyola, Salem, and Vogt each stole a base.

Jeremy Hall pitched 5 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits. He walked 1 and struck out 5. Flores allowed 3 runs on 4 hits, with a strikeout. Baird was charged with a blown save and the loss, for his 6-run, 4-hit performance, his first bad outing of the year.

The loss snaps the Catfish' first winning streak of the year ... at two. It also snaps a 7-game losing streak by Savannah. All 4 of Savannah's wins have come against the Catfish.

The two teams finish the series tomorrow night, with the Catfish assured of at least a split, but hoping to take the series with a win. The Catfish return home Tuesday night, opening an 8-game home stand with a pair against the Rome Braves.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Catfish win 2nd in a row over Savannah

For the first time this season, the Columbus Catfish have won back-to-back games. Tonight, they beat the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets), 9-2, keeping Savannah winless at home.

As in the Catfish first win of the season, they solved Savannah starter Nathan Vineyard early on.

Catfish 3B Gregory Sexton singled to start the 3rd inning. CF Maiko Loyola doubled, putting two runners in scoring position. With 1 out, Sexton scored on a ground out by LF Stephen Vogt. 1B Henry Wrigley tripled, scoring Loyola, putting the Catfish up 2-0.

In the 3rd, DH Emeel Salem reached on an error, making it to third. With 1 out, Salem scored on a sacrifice fly by RF Reid Fronk, and the Catfish were up 3-0.

In the 5th, Wrigley led off with a walk. SS Omar Luna singled, then Salem bunted his way on, loading the bases. 2B Joey Callender doubled, scoring Wrigley and Luna scores. Fronk walked, loading the bases again. Salem scored when Vineyard issued another walk. Following a pitching change, Loyola doubled, sending Callender and Fronk accross the plate. With 1 out, Sexton scored on a ground out to first by Vogt, and the Catfish lead was up to 9-0.

Savannah got on the board in the 8th, when 3B Jacob Eigsti hit a 2-run shot off Catfish reliever Kevin Boggan.

Salem and Loyola each had 3 hits for the Catfish. Loyola had a pair of doubles, drove in 2 runs, and scored once. Salem scored twice. Callender and Sexton each had a pair of hits. Callender had a double, 2 RBIs and scored a run. Sexton had an RBI and scored twice. Wrigley had a hit, and RBI, and scored a run. Luna had a hit and scored once. Vogt, though hitless, had 2 RBIs. Fronk was also hitless, but walked 3 times, scored once, and had an RBI.

Catfish starter Jason Ragan had his second good start against Savannah. He went 7 innings, scattering three hits and striking out a pair. Boggan, after allowing 2 runs on 2 hits in the 8th, set down the last 5 batters he faced.

The win improves the Catfish' record to 4-6, and have moved up to 5th place, still 5 games behind 1st place Charleston, who also won tonight.

The series continues Sunday afternoon, with the Catfish guaranteed at least a split in a series for the first time this year.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Catfish pick up 3rd win

The Columbus Catfish picked up their third win of the young season tonight, beating the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) 8-3 on the road.

The Catfish jumped out to an early lead, and were never seriously threatened.

In the 2nd, RF Maiko Loyola walked, stole second, and scored on a single by C Mike McCormick. 1B Henry Wrigley singled. McCormick was picked off second, then LF Shawn Williams singled to center. Two passed balls allowed Wrigley to score and Williams to move to third. SS Omar Luna doubled, sending Williams home. Luna stole third, then scored on a wild pitch, giving the Catfish a 4-0 lead.

The Catfish extended the lead in the 3rd, on a single by DH Reid Fronk and a double by 3B Gregory Sexton.

In the 4th, with 1 out, Luna singled and stole second. CF Emeel Salem walked, then 2B Cody Cipriano singled Luna home, giving the Catfish a 6-0 lead.

The 6th inning saw Luna reach on a 1-out walk, then score on a double by Salem. Salem stole third, then Cipriano was hit by a pitch. Salem scored on a sacrifice fly by Fronk, giving the Catfish an 8-0 lead.

Savannah closed the gap in the 7th. Reliever Christopher Fessler gave up a 3-run homer to Savannah 2B Greg Veloz, making it 8-3.

The Catfish threatened to expand their lead, loading the bases in the 8th, but were unable to push anyone across.

Salem, Fronk, and Luna each had a pair of hits ... a single and a double ... and every Catfish starter reached base, all but Loyola on hits, while Loyola walked twice and scored a run.

Defensively, in the 1st inning, Loyola threw out Savannah's Richard Pena at home when Pena tried to score from second on a single to center.

Starter Josh Johnson pitched 6 innings, now allowing a run, just two 1st inning hits, and striking out 7, picking up his first win of the year. Fessler allowed 3 runs on 3 hits, including the HR by Veloz, and notched 1 strikeout. Travis Risser pitched the last 2 innings, allowing a pair of hits, and striking out three.

The win improves the Catfish to 3-6, 4 games behind first place Charleston.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Catfish drop another to Rome

The 2008 season has started rough for the Columbus Catfish. They suffered their 6th loss in 8 games tonight, dropping a 5-4 decision to the Rome Braves.

The Catfish jumped out to an early lead. CF Emeel Salem tripled to center to lead off the game. With 2 outs, DH Gregory Sexton singled, allowing Salem to score, putting the Catfish up 1-0.

Rome scored 3 in the bottom of the inning, to make it 3-1.

It stayed that way until the top of the 7th, when things turned the Catfish way. LF Reid Fronk doubled to start the inning. Sexton followed with a single to right. RF Maiko Loyola tripled, tying the game. C Mike McCormick singled, scoring Loyola, and putting the Catfish up 4-3.

Two walks, two stolen bases, and a single in the Rome half of the 8th, put the Braves up, 5-4.

The Catfish managed a base runner in the 9th, but were unable to score, and had their 6th loss of the year.

Salem and Sexton each had a pair of hits for the Catfish, who outhit Rome 8-7.

Starter Jesse Darcy only lasted 3 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 2, but didn't figure in the decision. Reliever Brian Flores pitched 2 innings, walking a pair, but didn't allow a hit and struck out one. Justin Garcia pitched the final 3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out one. He took the loss.

The Catfish now head to Savannah for four games with the Sand Gnats, before returning home Tuesday to host Rome.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

4th inning does in Catfish

Tuesday night, it was a big 4th inning for the Columbus Catfish. Wednesday afternoon, it was a big 4th inning for the Rome Braves.

Rome scored 5 in the 4th to take a 7-run lead, holding on to beat the Catfish, 10-5 in an afternoon game.

Two singles, a wild pitch, and two sacrifice flies put Rome up 2-0 in the 1st. Three singles, two walks, and a sac fly drove starter Glenn Gibson from the mound in the 4th, down 6-0. One of the runners he left scored, and Gibson and the Catfish were down 7-0.

The Catfish closed the gap ... a little ... in the 5th. 1B Henry Wrigley reached on an error by Columbus native and former Russell County High School star Adam Coe who played 3B for Rome. Wright moved to second on a single by 3B Seth Dhaenens, and scored when C Ian Paxton hit into a double play.

In the 6th inning, 2B Cody Cipriano hit his first homer of the year, a shot over left center, narrowing the gap to 7-2.

Rome make it 8-2 in the bottom of the 6th on a single, two wild pitches, and a sacrifice fly.

RF Maiko Loyola hit his first home run of the season in the 7th, this one over the wall in right field, and it was 8-3.

Rome's Cody Johnson hit a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 7th, extending Rome's lead, 10-3.

In the 8th, CF Emeel Salem singled and stole second. He scored when Cipriano doubled to right. Following a ground out, DH Mike McCormick singled him Cipriano in from third, making it 10-5.

Salem, Cipriano, and McCormick all had two hits for the Catfish. The Catfish did leave 6 runners on base, but only 1 of those were in scoring position. Four double plays helped keep Rome out of serious trouble.

Gibson had another tough outing, taking his 2nd loss. He allowed 7 runs (6 earned) on 7 hits in 3-2/3 innings. His ERA has jumped to over 11, but it's only his 2nd game of the year. He did strike out 3 Rome batters.

Reliever John Baird went 2-1/3, allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 3. Christopher Fessler went 2 innings, allowing a pair of runs on 2 hits.

The loss drops the Catfish to 2-5 on the young season, 4 games behind first place Asheville and Charleston. The series with Rome concludes tomorrow night, with the Catfish needing a win to gain a split, before heading to Savannah for what we hope won't be a head-hunting contest.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Catfish bounce back big

When things go right, they go very right.

Things went right for the Columbus Catfish tonight in Rome. The Catfish beat the Braves 14-1.

In the 2nd, with 1 out, RF Maiko Loyola and C Mike McCormick both singled, then moved up on steals. Loyola scored on a grounder to short by 1B Henry Wrigley. McCormick scored on a single by 2B Joey Callender, giving the Catfish a 2-0 lead.

CF Emeel Salem led off the 3rd with a single to center, then scored on a double by DH Cody Cipriano. Cipriano moved to third on a ground out, then, with 2 outs, scored on a wild pitch.

In the 4th inning, the Catfish broke it open. McCormick walked. Wrigley singled, but was erased trying to take second. Callender reached on an error, scoring McCormick. Luna and Salem singled to load the bases. Callender was forced home when Cipriano walked. LF Reid Fronk doubled, scoring Luna, Salem and Cipriano. Following a pitching change and a fly ball out, Loyola walked. McCormick doubled scoring Fronk and Loyola, giving the Catfish an 11-0 lead.

In the 5th, with 1 out, Salem walked, then scored on a double by Cipriano. Fronk then tripled, plating Cipriano, and putting the Catfish up 13-0.

Rome closed the gap 13-1 in the bottom of the 5th, and it stayed that way until the 9th.

Luna led off the Catfish half of the 9th with a single, then moved to 3rd on a double to center by Salem. With 2 outs, Sexton singled in Luna, putting the Catfish up 14-1. And that's how it ended.

Every Catfish starter had at least one hit tonight, as they pounded out 16 hits. Salem was 3-for-5 with a double, a walk, and 3 runs scored. Cipriano, Fronk, Loyola, McCormick, and Luna each had a pair of hits. Fronk's 4 RBIs led the team.

On the mound, starter Alex Cobb showed why he's one of the Rays top prospects, going 6 innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 run, and striking out 4. Reliever Travis Risser pitched 3 innings relief, allowing 2 base runners, one on a walk, and striking out a pair to pick up the save.

The win evens the series with Rome at a game apiece. Game 3 of the 4-game series is tomorrow night.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Catfish purchase finalized, move application filed

I'm telling more than I know here. Or, at least, more than I can confirm on the record. So keep that in mind.

But here's the deal.

I got word last week from a source -- not connected with the Columbus Catfish -- that the South Atlantic League had approved the purchase of the Catfish by Art Solomon, owner of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League. Solomon has an agreement to put a SAL team in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2009.

My source also said that, not only had the purchase been approved, but Solomon had also filed the application to move the team.

Solomon's moving this team would be a two-step process. First, he'd have to buy the team, getting league approval. He applied a few weeks ago.

Then, he'd have to get league approval to move the team, but that couldn't happen until he actually owned the team.

He now owns the team. The Columbus Catfish announced the completion of the purchase today.
"As a passionate baseball fan, I have been in the market to purchase another minor league team," said Solomon. "Along with team president Rick Brenner and the Fisher Cats' front office staff, I have worked extremely hard building strong relationships with the business community, non-profit groups and fans throughout New Hampshire. And our staff will be just as active in creating lasting partnerships with this franchise."

The previous owner, David Heller, never wanted to be in Columbus in the first place. He put a team in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 2001. The Wilmington Waves played one season at a college stadium, moving to Albany, Georgia the next year, under the name "South Georgia Waves."

That lasted a year. The Albany part, I mean.

Following what was essentially a pissing contest between Albany and the Waves, the Waves left Albany in 2003, eight days before the season started, moving north to Columbus. They kept the name "South Georgia Waves," even though Columbus isn't in South Georgia. Some folks from Atlanta might think it is, but they're smoking crack. Nothing in the old 404 area code is south Georgia. But you can't tell some folks in Atlanta nothing.

Anyhow, they moved to Columbus because it was available. The RedStixx had left for Eastlake, Ohio, during the off-season, and became the Lake County Captains.

So, Columbus suddenly had a team again. Only no one knew. Well, that's not true. An average of 452 people per game showed up that season. The Wife and I were part of that average, making about 50 of the home games.

The Waves became the Columbus Catfish in 2004, getting all new uniforms, a new logo, and a new name for the same old mascot. Crash, the Wave, became Hook, the ... whatever Hook is.

And the Catfish showed that they could not only fight with Albany, they could also fight with Columbus.

The city and the team never saw eye to eye on the ball park, which suffered from poor planning and/or execution in the remodeling and resurfacing that happened in 1996 for the Olympics. Somebody did a piss-poor job, took the money, and the trouble didn't show up until later.

The field didn't drain very well. Still doesn't, but it's a heckuva lot better than it was. The city put a lot of work into it a year ago, and it helped. Still not like it ought to be, but it's on par with other ball parks in the league.

And, it does look really nice.

But the fans never did embrace the Catfish. Oh, sure, attendance has increased every year, but the Catfish have been at the bottom of the league in attendance every year they've been in Columbus.

Now, Heller, who had unsuccessfully tried to put the team in Evansville, Indiana, has his out. He sold the team to Art Solomon.

Solomon, according to my source (who was right about the purchase approval), has applied to move the team.

The South Atlantic League has wanted to keep a team in Columbus. Columbus baseball history goes back to 1885, when the Columbus Stars were charter members of the original Southern Association. Of course, historians may notice that the Stars didn't complete the season, being one of two teams in the league to fold.

Still, Columbus is something the South Atlantic League wants. But even wants have to draw the line somewhere.

Though I haven't obtained confirmation from an official source that will go on the record with me, my source -- who does not work for the Catfish, but is in a position to know -- says the application to move the team has been filed with the league.

Don't know when the approval will come. But it will.

When it does happen, and at the end of the season, when the team leaves, Columbus will be the largest city in Georgia without a baseball team. And that's a shame.

Catfish winning streak ends at ... one

That didn't last long.

After finally notching their first win of the season Sunday afternoon, the Columbus Catfish lost for the 4th time in 5 games, dropping an 8-6 decision to the Rome Braves on the road tonight.

It started out right, with the Catfish getting on the board first. With 2 out in the 2nd, C Mike McCormick walked and stole second. RF Maiko Loyola doubled him home, then scored on a single by 1B Henry Wrigley, to put the Catfish up 2-0.

In the 3rd, with 2 out, DH Reid Fronk doubled, then scored when 3B Gregory Sexton reached on an error, making it 3-0.

Rome closed the gap to 3-1 in the bottom of the inning, then took the lead in the 4th on a single, a homer, a walk, and a pair of doubles.

Down 5-3, the Catfish tied it up in the 5th. Wrigley led off with a double to left, then scored when SS Omar Luna tripled. Following a pitching change, Luna came home on a sacrifice fly by CF Emeel Salem, knotting the game at 5.

Rome retook the lead in their half of the 5th on a 2-run homer by Rome RF Jason Heyward.

In the 7th, the Catfish narrowed the lead. 2B Cody Cipriano walked to start the inning. With one out, Sexton walked. Following a change on the mound, LF Shawn Williams singled to left, scoring Cipriano.

It's as close as the Catfish would get. Rome added one more in the 8th, putting the score 8-6.

At the plate, Wrigley was 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Fronk was 2-for-5 with a double and a triple. He scored once.

Overall, the Catfish had 9 hits, including 4 doubles and 2 triples. Additionally, 7 batters walked, and another 2 reached on errors. However, 3 runners were picked off first, and the Catfish left 9 runners on base, 6 in scoring position.

Defensively, the Catfish didn't commit an error, and they caught one Rome runner trying to steal.

P Jeremy Hall went 4 innings, allowing 5 runs, all earned, on 6 hits (including a 2-run homer) and a walk. He struck out 3.

Reliever Justin Garcia pitched 2 innings, allowing a pair of runs on a pair of hits, including a 2-run homer, and struck out 1. He was charged with the loss.

Brian Flores pitched an inning and 2/3, allowing 1 run and 1 hit, striking out 2. Christopher Fessler faced 1 batter, getting the Catfish out of a bases loaded jam in the 8th.

Same two teams Tuesday night in Rome, as the Catfish look to even up the series.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Catfish drop series, finally win a game

Basil, Catfish fanSaturday night's rainout caused the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) and the Columbus Catfish to schedule a double-header today. And, after dropping the first two games of the series, the Catfish needed a double-header sweep to split the series.

They didn't.

They did make it interesting in the first game, and just plain beat Savannah in the second game, giving Savannah the series, but the Catfish their first win.

Game one was much like the first two games of the series. Savannah jumped to an early 2-0 lead, thanks to another towering home run, this one by Savannah C Francisco Pena.

By the middle of the 4th, Savannah had a 4-0 lead. The Catfish made another error, their 7th in three games, accounting for one of those runs. They'd commit another later in game one, but no one scored on that one. And, in all honesty, they should have been charged with another error in the 4th, on a play where the official scorer ruled a sacrifice fly on a deep shot to center that allowed a runner to score ... from second base. The Savannah coach held the runner up at third, then sent him home when the throw missed the cutoff man. Doesn't really matter, I supposed, since the run counts, whether earned or unearned. Unless you're the pitcher, who got charged an earned run on a run that shouldn't have happened.

Bottom of the 4th, and the Catfish started their comeback.

With 2 outs, DH Stephen Vogt walked, stole second, then scored when 1B Henry Wrigley doubled to right, cutting the lead to 4-1.

The Catfish stranded runners in scoring position in both the 5th and 6th innings.

In the 7th, the Catfish came, oh, so close to winning.

With one out, SS Omar Luna reached on an error. CF Emeel Salem and RF Maiko Loyola walked to load the bases. Following a pitching change, LF Reid Fronk walked, plating Luna. 2B Cody Cipriano grounded out, scoring Salem. Vogt then hit a hot shot over the third baseman, that should have been a double, scoring two runs and giving the Catfish the win. However, Savannah, 3B Jacob Eigsti made a great jump to snag the ball, cut the rally short, and give the visitors the win.

Both pitching staffs did another good job. Savannah only managed 4 hits, while the Catfish mustered only 3. Each team has two errors, though the Catfish should have been charged with a third.

Game two was not close.

The Catfish got their first lead of the season in the 3rd inning. With one out, Luna and Salem both reached on singles. Salem stole second, his third steal of the young season. 2B Joey Callender drove in Luna on a sacrifice fly to right. Then some serious excitement. Just how serious, we wouldn't find out until later.

Fronk (RF) hit a shot just out of reach of Savannah CF Richard Pena. Salem scored from third, and the ball bounced away from Pena. By the time the ball got back to the infield, Fronk was bearing down on home plate. With C Jordan Abruzzo blocking the plate, Fronk ran him over, scoring the Catfish' third run, and turning a triple into an inside-the-park home run.

In the 4th, Vogt (LF) and C Mike McCormick hit back-to-back doubles to make it 4-0.

In the 5th, the 3rd inning collision at home plate came back to into play. Savannah reliever Julio Polanco hit Fronk with his first pitch, bringing a warning from home plate umpire Koyu Inoue. Savannah manager Donovan Mitchell complained about the warning, but it stood.

In the 6th, the Catfish stretched their lead to 4-0. McCormick and Wrigley singled to lead off the inning. DH Shawn Williams hit into a 4-6-3 double play moving McCormick to third. Luna singled to second, scoring McCormick, and putting the Catfish up 4-0.

The 7th inning saw more fireworks, but no scoring.

With 2 outs and the bases empty, Catfish P Kevin Boggan hit Abruzzo in the head. Inoue immediately threw out Boggan while Abruzzo yelled, "I am not believing this!" as he grabbed his head and dropped to the ground. Abruzzo let the F-bomb ... actually the M-F-bomb ... fly as he rolled around. The Savannah skipper let an F-bomb fly as he complained to Inoue, despite Inoue's tossing of Boggan.

After things settled, Abruzzo was replaced on the base paths, and Catfish reliever Travis Risser coaxed a ground ball out of Savannah 3B Jacob Eigsti to end the game.

Jason Ragan picked up the first Catfish win of the year, striking out 4 and retiring 9 straight at one point.

Despite dropping the series, the Catfish were actually in every game. Errors killed them.

If they can cut down the errors, they'll be on the winning side of a lot more games than on the losing side.

The Catfish head on the road for eight games, playing at Rome tomorrow night in the first of four, then heading to Savannah Friday for another four.

I'm curious to see if there'll be any follow-up to the head-hunting that may ... or may not ... have gone on today.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Catfish lose error-filled contest

For the second night in a row, the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) ruined the night for the Columbus Catfish at Golden Park. After being one-hit by Savannah last night, tonight, the Catfish outhit the Sand Gnats 10-8, but were outscored 7-4.

Defensively, it was not a night to remember. The Catfish committed 5 errors. And a fan committed one. More about that in a minute.

First, the good news is, the swelling is going down nicely.

Not mine. My grandson's.

Bruised legHe went to the game with us tonight. And, you know the part where they say "Be aware of balls being hit into the stands?"

Well, they also mean that you should be aware of balls being hit into the picnic area by the visitor's bullpen, too. Because that's where my grandson was playing with several other children when a Savannah batter hit a hot shot into the picnic area.

The ball came in so fast, he didn't have a chance to get out of the way. Hit him squarely in the leg.

Hurt like heck, but he still managed to get the ball.

And I have nothing but good things to say about the Catfish, including General Manager Ken Clary, who was quickly on the scene, kept my grandson calm, and got the nurse to look at him.

The nurse was great, too. And, in a few minutes, my grandson was running around, having a good time.

Back at the game, it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did. Except for injuries. My grandson checked that off the list.

The Catfish, though, suffered 5 errors. Six if you count the fan who interfered with a pop fly near the visitor's dugout. So we could check that off the list.

I've never seen a runner score from first on a strike-out. Until tonight. With two out and Savannah DH Darren Clark on first, having reached on an error, Catfish starter Glenn Gibson struck out Savannah LF Daniel Stegall. Catfish C Mike McCormick dropped the strike, then threw high to 1B Seth Dhaenens. The ball reached the right field corner, allowing Clark to score. So we could check scoring from first on a strike out off the list.

In the 4th, Savannah 2B Greg Veloz stole home as McCormick threw high while trying to throw out SS Matthew Bouchard who was stealing second. So we could check stealing home off the list.

Savannah 1B Jose Jimenez (yes, his name Jose Jimenez) hit a towering 2-run shot over the left field wall. Actually, over the advertising signs above the wall. Actually, into the trees behind the wall. So we could check scoring runs while knocking limbs off trees from the list.

And, in the 9th, the rains came, holding the game up for an hour. So we could check that from the list.

Yes, it was one of those nights.

On the positive side, the Catfish managed to keep it from being worse. On the five errors, Savannah only managed two runs. Nine Savannah runners were stranded, and one was caught stealing. Like I said, it could have been worse.

Catfish DH Stephen Vogt hit a 2-run shot over the left-center wall. McCormick went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. LF Reid Fronk was also 3-for-4, scoring two runs, and stealing three bases.

A bad night overall, but some good performances. The Catfish pitchers struck out nine. The bullpen recorded 5 of those, and allowed just one run.

The Catfish are now 0-2, and need to win both Saturday and Sunday in order to salvage a split of the series.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Catfish drop opener, are 1-hit by Savannah

There's not much you can do when the opposing team's pitcher is putting his pitches right where he wants them. You can hope the pitch count catches up with him, and you can get some hits off the bullpen.

That's sort of what happened to the Columbus Catfish tonight.

Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) pitcher Michael Antonini had his stuff tonight, holding the Catfish hitless through six innings, allowing just three base runners -- two on errors plus one walk -- to pick up a 2-0 win over the Catfish.

Savannah reliever Jacobo Neguilis allowed a hit to the first Catfish batter he faced in the 7th, but a fly ball and two ground balls kept the Catfish off the board. Savannah's Nicholas Waechter pitched two perfect innings to seal the win.

While the Catfish were held to that single by 3B Gregory Sexton, they did hit the ball hard a few times, but each time at someone. Or 400 feet to center field, only to find it's 415 to the wall.

Defensively, the Catfish played well. For instance, 1B Henry Wrigley made a great diving stop of a ball that, had it gotten by, could have been a double easily, and possibly a triple. Several sharply hit balls to Sexton at third and to SS Omar Luna were handled well. Sexton turned an unusual 5-3 double play, swiping a Savannah baserunner as he tried to advance on a 1-out grounder to third, before retiring the batter at first to end the inning and stop a Savannah inning from getting out of control.

In the first two innings, each with the leadoff batter making it to third base, the Catfish settled down and shut Savannah down.

However, Savannah scored in the 4th on a hit batsman and a double. And an unearned run in the 6th on an error by Luna, followed by a double.

The difference, though, was the pitching. Catfish starter Alex Cobb struck out 5 in 5-2/3 innings work, allowing one earned run on 4 hits, which would normally be good enough for a win. Catfish reliever Justin Garcia struck out 3 in 2-1/2 innings work, allowing a hit. Brian Flores pitched a perfect 9th for Columbus.

As good as that was, Savannah pitching was better tonight.

The loss drops the Catfish to 0-1. They get the chance to even their record and the series with Savannah tomorrow night at 7:00. Lefty Glenn Gibson is scheduled to start for the Catfish. He was 4-3 in 12 starts for Hudson Valley of the New York-Penn League last year, striking out 58 in 58 inning pitched.

I'm hoping for a better outcome tomorrow night.

I was pleasantly surprised by one thing: I expected a few hundred fans at the ballpark, because that's normal for Columbus. However, 1,895 fans showed up for the game. That's nearly 600 more than came to watch the Catfish clinch the South Atlantic League championship last September.

Oh, and the Catfish magic number to clinch the South Atlantic League Southern Division title remains at 71.

Take me out to the ballgame

Batting practiceBaseball season opens tonight. The minor league season, that is.

Opening Day in Columbus usually means a couple of hundred fans show up for a ballgame where a few players from the previous year's team -- that usually finished near the bottom of the standings -- take the field.

This year, there are only four players back from last year's team: IF Seth Dhaenens, IF Joey Callendar, OF Maiko Loyola, and P Jeremy Hall. But that's the team that won the South Atlantic League championship, the first baseball championship in Columbus in over 20 years.

However, two unfortunate things are likely to happen.

One is that only a few hundred fans will show up. I'd wager good money that'll be the case.

The other is that this is probably the last year of the Columbus Catfish. Some guy from Up North (Art Solomon, a successful businessman who already owns a Double-A team, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats) is trying to buy the team and move it to Bowling Green, Kentucky. I'd wager good money on that, too.

So, as the 2008 Columbus Catfish Farewell Tour kicks off, I'll be in my usual seat behind home plate, cheering on the team.

At least I'll have been rewarded by a championship. And who knows? Maybe this year's team will take the trophy come September.

Regardless, it's been a fun ride. And I'm looking forward to this season. I'm just sad that it will likely be the last.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

McCain on Letterman

Didn't get to see it live, what with work and all. But I got a chance to catch it on YouTube...

Heh. Funny stuff.

Tomorrow night!

Baseball season opens tomorrow night.

Okay, the Major League season is underway. But the local minor league team, the Columbus Catfish, open their season tomorrow night.

And I'm ready.

The Catfish (Rays) host the Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) tomorrow night at 7:00, to begin what is, in all likelihood, the final season of the Catfish. A guy from Up North, Art Solomon, has put in a bid to buy the Catfish. And he's trying to put a team in Bowling Green, KY, for 2009. So, after this year, no more Columbus Catfish.

Anyhow, I'm ready for baseball ... local baseball ... to start.

Hardly anyone around here goes to the games. The Catfish draw, on average, around 1,000 a game. But that includes some games where soldiers at Ft. Benning pack the stands. Crowds of a couple of hundred are common during the week.

Folks just don't care about baseball at the minor league level. At least, around here, they don't.

But they're missing out.

For example, check the Los Angeles Dodgers. They began their regular season with five rookies on their roster. One. Hiroki Kuroda, played in Japan for 10 years. The other four? They played for the Catfish.

Blake DeWitt, Chin-lung Hu, Ramon Troncoso and Delwyn Young all wore the uniform of the Catfish. (Actually, Young wore a South Georgia Waves uniform the year before the team changed its name to the Columbus Catfish.)

But that's not all.

Also on the Dodgers roster are pitchers Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton, plus outfielder Matt Kemp. All played for the Catfish. As well as Andy LaRoche and Tony Abreu, both on the DL.

That's over a third of the Dodgers roster. Former Catfish.

And that's just the home team.

The visitors bring plenty of talent, too.

You follow the Braves? Well, you should. Anyway, remember their first game? The one they lost to Washington on a 9th-inning homer by Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals? I got to see Zimmerman play when he was a member of the Sand Gnats.

Another Sand Gnat I got to see play? Ever heard of Eric Gagne? Saw him pitch for Savannah back in 1996.

But back to the Braves. Just look at their roster. Not all, but many of their players came up through the Braves farm system. And that means we got to see them when Rome (or, formerly, Macon) came to town.

And Rome comes to town 12 times this season.

So, for the opportunity to see some future Major League stars, there's no better place than Minor League Baseball.

And for just good, fun baseball? A place you can take the kids to have a good time in a safe, family atmosphere?

Take them out to the ball game.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No good deed...

Been a busy couple of weeks at work. Logged nearly 80 hours last week. And 42 so far this week. And, yes, it's only Tuesday. Tuesday night, sure. But still, it's only Tuesday.

Anyway, I'm tired. I'm grumpy. And my head hurts.

When I left work tonight, the car told me it needed gas. Okay, it didn't say anything. But the words "FUEL LEVEL IS LOW" came on. And, if the car thinks it needs gas, it needs gas.

So, I ran up to one of the gas stations downtown, got out, and put $49.46 worth in the car. Put it on the card, since I don't carry cash.

That gas station, which has a Subway on one side and a Taco Bell on the other is a haven for the homeless, the downtrodden, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse ...

You get the idea.

So, I don't carry cash. Just plastic.

Got gas, then crossed the street to McDonald's. Got in the drive-thru line and waited for the line to slowly move along.

Right as I got to the speaker to place my order, a bum walked up.

Now, why do I say he was a bum?

First impression. They're not always right. Sometimes they are. Let's see how right my first impression was.

"Excuse me, sir?"

I rolled the window down. "Yes?"

"Do you have a set of jumper cables?"

I thought for a second. I used to carry a set of cables in the old car. And I didn't think I had them in the new car.

"No, I don't -- hang on. I might. Let me check"

I pulled up, ordered my Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal, moved forward, jumped out, popped the trunk, and checked.

There they were.

"Yes, sir, I do have a set."

He stuttered, "Oh, uh, oh oh, uh uh uh. I'm I'm I'm about four blocks down. Can you give me a jump?


He walked around to the passenger door, opened the door, sat down, and buckled up.

I pulled forward, and was next in line to pay for my order.

"Sir, sir, sir, I do appreciate this. I do."

He offered my his hand. We shook hands.

"Not at all."

I pulled up to the window, gave the young lady my card, and he told me about his surgery.

"I had cancer surgery here," he said, as he raised his shirt to show me the scar running from chest to navel.


The lady at the window asked me about my name. She'd seen it before. I wasn't sure what to say, other than, "Yes, ma'am, there's a couple of folks with a similar name."

She was telling me about her being from Florida and a fellow from down there with a name like mine ran for county commission or something. Meanwhile my rider was showing me his leg surgery. I'm not saying much. Although the conversation about the county commissioner sounded more promising. Especially since, on a visit to Florida, I remember seeing signs the guy had up when he was running.

I thanked the lady, my rider thanked me again, and shook my hand.

Pulled up to the window to actually get the food. Put it on the floor behind the seat and pulled forward, towards the exit.

"Which way is your car?"

"Uh, um, uh, it's about four blocks that way," he said, pointing down Veteran's Parkway toward the Civic Center.

I pulled around and went out the back entrance in order to face my car towards his.

"About how far?" I asked when we got back to Veterans.

"About three or four blocks," he said. "I do thank you for this, mister."

He proceeded to tell me about his cancer surgery meaning he couldn't get work, since he's now a risk. I guess he has the cancer that's catching.

As we approached the three block mark, he asked me if I was a mechanic.

"No, sir, I'm not. Don't know much about cars."

"I left the lights on yesterday and the battery died. I jumped it off, but it keeps dying. I don't think it'll work and I need to see if you can take me over to where I'm staying."

"Where's that?" I asked.

"You know where the Wal-mart is in Phenix City?"

I did. Actually, The Wife knows exactly where every Wal-mart in a 500 mile radius is. But I didn't tell him that. I just said I thought I knew where it was.

So, I kept heading south on Veterans, turning right at the Civic Center, pointing the car in the direction of Phenix City.

In four more blocks, we were crossing the river into Alabama, heading to the Wal-mart in Phenix City, which was, he said, near where he lived.

He appreciated this. And he shook my hand.

"You don't seem like a prejudiced man," he said.

"No, sir."

"Did you ever used to be?"


He clarified. "Oh, I know you're not a prejudiced man now. I can tell that. Did you ever used to be?"

"No, sir, I wasn't brought up that way. I've know folks that are that way, including some family members. But not my immediate family," I said.

"I can't afford to be prejudiced," he said.

"None of us can," I began.

"Two white folks saved my life when I was a kid," he continued.


He explained about being out in a boat, fishing for bream with a cane pole. Then something about his mama all upset because he was in the boat so far from shore, and she asked these two white men to help out.

"They could have thought, 'Let the nigger die, there'll be one less of them,' but they didn't. The helped get me back to shore," he told me. "So I can't afford to be prejudiced."

"Yeah, well, we all got to..." I began.

"I do appreciate the ride. I been staying back over in Columbus, just out of the hospital, having cancer surgery, and cain't work."

"Yeah, cancer's rough. And cancer surgery is rough. At best, it's still surgery. And that's not good," I said.

"You're right. And I appreciate your helping me out," he said. And shook my hand.

I got to hear more about the boss man who he was working for laying him off after the surgery. Last hired, first hired.

I understood. And I did, having worked construction in the past. And he appreciated that. And shook my hand.

We got near the Wal-mart in Phenix City, and I asked, "Just at the door?"

"Yeah, that's fine," he said. Then told me about a church he went to for help and they made him fill out paperwork to make sure he was telling the truth. And he filled out paperwork for food stamps, he said, but that took several weeks.

"This okay?" I asked, as we got to the door.

"Yeah, this fellow I know said I could stay with him if I got $150 to help out with the groceries," he said. "I can tell you're an honest man, and you'll help out someone. God puts us here to help each other out, dontcha think?"

"Oh, yeah, the Lord knows what He's doing, even if we don't."

"Can you help me out? I need some money so I can help with the groceries," he asked.

I told him, "I always use cards, don't carry cash. I might have ... let me see ..." And I reached into my pocket, pulling out every bit of cash money I had. One dollar and 51 cents.

"That's all I got," I said.

"Can't you pull some money out on your credit card?"

"No, I can't get a cash advance on my Visa credit card," I said. And that's true. It's not set to draw cash. That's what my Mastercard is for. But I didn't tell him that.

"I just need enough for a hotel room for the night."

"That's all the money I got. I can't get cash on that Visa credit card. That's all I can do."

He sat quietly for a second or two.

"I thank you." He opened the door, slamming it as he walked away. And he didn't shake my hand.