June 2007

Rome is burning

OK, it’s not. Even if it was, the rain that came yesterday would have put it out. But there are too many fun things you could do with Rome to pass up. Things like:

When in Rome (Georgia)…

You know, Rome wasn’t built in a day

Do you have a signal? I’m stuck in Rome-ing…

OK, that last one was a bit of a stretch. Believe it or not, even though it rained, and rained hard, in the afternoon (for the first time in nearly 3 months here, so it was needed), they got the game in. The HR Derby was washed out, but they played all nine innings. Mitch Hilligoss, he of the record South Atlantic League hit streak, won the MVP in a losing effort with three hits, an RBI and a stolen base.

I have to say that the town, and the team, in Rome, did a fantastic job running this event. They had a parade for the All-Stars through the downtown area (it was small, but it was downtown, with stores and restaurants and stuff — quaint is the best way to put it). They rode down the street in convertibles. It may seem like small potatoes, but for these young players, it was pretty cool to be given the royal treatment like that. From there, they got VIP treatment at a concert, where you didn’t have to be a Marshall Tucker Band fan to have a good time.

The ballpark itself is beautiful and the groundscrew should be given much kudos for keeping it in such good condition with all the rain. Good drainage helped, I’m sure, but that wasn’t easy. The outfield was a little splashy, but it certainly was playable. Overall, a great event, the last All-Star Game John Henry Moss will see as president of the league. He hands the reins to Eric Krupa. Moss is 87 years old and has looked over the shop for the past 48 All-Star Games, so I guess he deserves a break.

Lisa and I will be back on here soon with our picks for the Triple-A All-Star Team. Remember, you can vote for your favorite AAA All-Stars up until Friday, June 22. So click here  to cast your vote.

And don’t forget to head to MLB.com at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday. That’s when I’ll join Lisa and Vinny Micucci for a live video show announcing the 2007 Futures Game rosters. Good times.

Daytona, Part II

OK, so I’m between All-Star Games. Both on the calendar and geographically. The South Atlantic League ASG is on Tuesday night in Rome, Georgia, so we drove about halfway from Daytona to a town called Tifton. It’s known as the Reading Capital of the World (click here to find out why).

In Daytona on Saturday night, there was quite a bit of talent on the field. Jay Bruce may not have done well in the home run derby, but man, can he hit. He had a double, single and RBI and some serious bat speed. Cameron Maybin also had a pair of hits. The East hit three homers, including a two-run shot by game MVP Allen Craig. He’s now 2-0 in games I attended (he was on the State College Spikes team when I got to manage them for a game last summer).

The pitching wasn’t overwhelming, what with 20 hits combined allowed and all, but that didn’t mean there weren’t some impressive arms, from Carlos Carrasco to Johnny Cueto, from Jake McGee and Wade Davis to Adam Ottavino. Davis’ days in the FSL are over … he’ll offically get moved up to Double-A Montgomery on Monday.

I’ll report to you from Rome on Tuesday…

Daytona, Part I

Nothing like an All-Star game to snap you out of your draft reverie.

It’s been a while since I’ve visited the ol’ He Said, She Said blog, spending most of the past several weeks concentrating on the draft. Coming here to Jackie Robinson Stadium in Daytona for the Florida State League All-Star Game is a great way to get back into the Minors swing of things. I’m going to do this in a two-part series — one as we’re about to start the game, and then one after with some thoughts on who stood out.

Here are some early observations from last night (the home run derby and skills competition) and today:

  • It’s hot here. But at least it’s a wet heat.
  • Cameron Maybin is extremely fast. He ran from first to home in the base-running competition on Friday in under 10 seconds. I don’t think I can do anything in under 10 seconds.
  • Jay Bruce has tremendous power, but shouldn’t be in more home run derbies. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy and has a terrific personality — keep an eye out for our video feature on the game as we had him miked up during the derby — but he’s now been in two all-star home run hitting competitions (He did it at the Midwest League game in 2006) and has a total of two homers. He may end up being one of those guys who hits 40 homers every year in the big leagues but can’t do it in a derby (see Piazza, Mike).
  • Bruce and Maybin won’t be in this league long. Well, they shouldn’t. In my opinion. If they don’t finish the year in Chattanooga and Erie, respectively, I’d be very surprised.
  • Jeremy Slayden in the Phillies system has some serious pop and is an extremely thoughtful and honest interview. Those two things don’t have anything to do with each other, but he won the HR derby and was refreshingly non-cliche in talking about the injuries that derailed his college career at Georgia Tech. If he continues to stay healthy (quick, knock wood), the Phillies might have a nice sleeper on their hands. Before he got hurt at Tech, the kid could flat-out rake.
  • There is great history at this ballpark. Sure, they’ve made modifications, like adding a Riverwalk and other cosmetic changes, but they smartly didn’t get too far from what makes this an interesting place to come. Jackie Robinson, who’s name now rightfully adorns the ballpark, played in the first integrated game in organized baseball here, in Spring Training, in March of 1946. Needless to say, this wasn’t necessarily the most tolerant places in the country back then and it’s hard to fathom, watching the multi-national All-Stars being introduced, the difficulties Robinson faced here, particularly in living once his work at the park was done. Another interesting historical note, of less significance, is that Daytona last hosted the FSL ASG in 1983. One of the starting pitchers back then? Long-time big league pitcher Jose Rijo…cool stuff.

I’ll be back more after the game with more…

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