My Top Ten Pictures of the First Five Years of the Junkie

A couple of days ago I posted about this site being five years old. I am sort of proud of the fact that I made it this long. I don’t consider myself a sportswriter, and I am far away from being a sports photographer. For some reason (a fact that boggles me) people come to this site to read what I have to say and to look at my pictures. If you take enough pictures over a five year span you are bound to accidentally take a few good ones. Here are the ten pictures that came to mind when I thought of the ten best in that span. I may have left a few out so if you have a favorite that I missed let me know.

Drey Mingo leaves the court with the WNIT trophy just before her illness

10. This may not be the best picture that I have ever taken, but it is one of my favorites nonetheless. The Purdue Women’s Basketball team was on a high note last season when they beat Depaul at home to win the WNIT preseason tournament. The team was on cloud nine thinking about how good things could be, and also the great trip ahead of them over the holiday weekend. That all came crashing down when Drey Mingo was diagnosed with meningitis. I had a seat right by the tunnel in Mackey so I got to see the players as they left the court. Drey was hugging the trophy as she left, and I thought it would be a great picture. When her condition was unknown a couple of days later I kept looking at this picture pondering how quickly things can change. For that reason it makes it onto this list. Continue reading

Charlotte at Indy Recap (Part 2)

Let me just start this off by saying that nobody was seriously hurt during the game on Saturday night. That is not saying that the players did not try though. In the opening at bat on the night Alejandro De Aza hit two balls over the first base dugout striking fans that must not have expected a ball to come at them. De Aza is a lefty, and to pull a ball by that much takes a perfect scenario.

This game was scoreless until the third inning when newly re-aquired first baseman Jeremy Reed led off the inning with a double. Jeremy was once tabbed as the centerfielder of the future, but was traded due to the depth on the team. We all know how that turned out. After being moved over by a sacrifice bunt he scored on a single by De Aza. De Aza is shown above watching his single go into the outfield grass. Things stayed calm until the fifth when De Aza had his second RBI single of the night. This one scored second baseman Rob Hudson. Continue reading

Charlotte at Indy Recap (Part One)

Last night I was in Indy to see the Charlotte Knights play. I have had fun the last couple of years getting an early look at some of the future White Sox players. A lot happened in a short period of time so I will break the game down into two parts. The first of those parts here will cover the events that happened before the game even started. Continue reading

Knights Slay the Bats

Yesterday I spent the day in Louisville, Kentucky with the express purpose of soaking up some baseball. The first part of the day was spent at the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum. I may go into that a little more in depth later in the week. It was a great time though. The second part of my trip was to see the Charlotte Knights visit the Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Field. First off let me say that the field really is great. I have been to some great stadiums this year, and this one ranks right up there. I have gone to three Triple A stadiums this year, and the Bats have been a part of every one. At this pace I will be a closet Reds fan in no time. Before the game started I was able to meet a few of the Knights. Most of them were really nice. Josh Fields was also on the field signing so I went up to him. He was very cool talking with everyone, but as the fans walked away they were greeted with a surprise. He really was not trying in the autograph department. I gave him a perfectly good ball to sign, and he signed it on the stitching so small you could not see anything. Sometimes a player can do more harm by signing than by not signing. Jack Egbert on the other hand gave me a great auto right on the sweet spot. I wish much success to Jack, and I also hope that Josh gets his wish to be traded. After Fields ruining the ball I was done trying to get autographs. I watched former Sox player Rich Dotson sign card after card for three grown men, and then snub a kid. These guys had the setup, and obviously were just getting them to get rid of. The kid just wanted Dot’s signature. Well the card shop men won. Way to go Rich. It was a beautiful night for a ball game so I sat down with my Parmesan Garlic Fries (a local specialty), and settled in for some baseball. This would be my second matchup between the Reds and the White Sox this season. The first was at the Great American Ballpark for the Civil Rights Game in June, and this one involved their top farm clubs.

Carlos Torres was on the mound for the Knights against Matt Maloney for the Bats. Both of these guys have had a cup of coffee in the bigs this season. Right away I knew that I was in for a great matchup. Torres went six innings giving up two runs on five hits, and striking out six. At times he looked overwhelming. Then he would miss badly, and the ball would get crushed. In the first innings he gave up a hard double to Louis Bolivar, but pitched out of the trouble. In the fourth he made Kevin Barker look terrible on one pitch, then left the next one over the plate. Barker sent the ball the other way 446 feet. It was a monster shot. Maloney was not too shabby himself. He went 6 2/3 giving up three runs on seven hits. He also struck out five while only walking one. He gave up a couple of home runs, but for the most part was very solid. This was not the pitching exhibition that you normally get at a minor league game. I have only been to two Charlotte games in my life, but Carlos Torres has pitched them both. On the flipside I have been to three Louisville games, and Maloney has pitched in two of those. If I remember right he was pitching with the big club in Cincinatti the other time I saw the bats. They both appear to have good stuff. I guess you don’t make it this far without it. The small improvements from here will determine where they go from here. Derek Rodriguez and Ehren Wasserman also pitched well for the Knights. Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings, and Wasserman pitched a scoreless ninth to get the save.

Last week the Sox picked up Mark Kotsay for Brian Anderson. The team needed to make a roster move to make room for Kotsay. The odd man out in the situation was Josh Fields. With Beckham playing well at third, and Kotsay being able to play first the club really didn’t need Fields at the time. He was sent down to Triple A Charlotte for the time being. In all reality this may be the best thing for him. He can play everyday and work on his swing. He does not see it this way, and requested a trade much like Brian Anderson did when he was sent down the week before. Before the game Fields was talking to some of the fans on the railing about how his wife is very pregnant. Maybe the child on the way is part of the reason Fields wants some kind of job security. He was an exciting player to watch a couple of years ago, and has the tools to be a good player in the league. Last night he went 1-3 at the plate, and also got plunked once. His only hit was a solo home run in the second that put the Knights up 1-0. In the fourth he hit a blast to center that was caught on the wall by Drew Stubbs. Off the bat I thought that he had hit two dingers. Especially since Michael Restovich had just taken Maloney deep. He also made some nice picks in the field. And thanks to my Louisville Slugger factory tour earlier in the day I can tell you that he is using the Slugger maple bat.

On a club that has a few players who may have seen their best days already it was refreshing to see a young face. When I went to see the Knights in Toledo I was able to see Gordan Beckham. This time I was looking forward to seeing Tyler Flowers. Flowers was aquired along with Brent Lillibridge in the Javier Vasquez deal. Last winter he apparently really opened Kenny Williams eyes. I have only seen him hit four times after yesterday. What I can say about hiim is that he does not get cheated. He struck out swinging hard in his first at bat, but after the first base coach prodded him on he took first on a wild pitch. He hit a solo home run in his second at bat leading off the fifth, but a great play by center fielder Drew Stubbs brought the ball back into play. He ended up settling for a double, and scoring the deciding run when Norris Hopper hit into a double play. In his other two at bats he hit into a double play and singled. This kid takes a cut. Did I already mention that? He has the classic sluggers swing. Behind the plate is where the concern is on Tyler. Everything that I have read says that he will not be a big league catcher. He did not look too bad. He had one opportunity to gun down a runner, and the throw was on line, but late. The runner got a great jump though so I don’t think that you can pin that on Flowers. He did look a little awkward setting up behind the plate during the game. At least twice he almost went over backwards. He has nothing but time to improve though. I look forward to seeing that bat at the Cell.

Another interesting part of the game was watching the exchanges between former White Sox player Corky Miller and some of Knights as they came to bat. He was on the bench with Josh Fields so you know that they would have something to say to each other. In the second just before Fields hit the home run they had quite an exchange. Fields gave him a bad look right off the bat. Miller must have commented on him being in the minors or something. From then on it was all smiles though. It was also cool to see Miller and Norris Hopper talking to each other. They were both traded for each other a month or so ago. The Reds got a backup catcher, and we got a center fielder. I don’t know who won this trade yet. So far neither team has really gotten much out of it.

Many Reds fans were at the game last night. It is not too far of a drive from Cincy to get to the park, and it is a great chance to see the young talent coming up. The Reds have positioned their minor league clubs close to them here in the Midwest. The Dayton Dragons are just a stones throw from the big league park. I wish the White Sox would grab on to this mentallity. We had the South Bend Sox for a few years, but they moved away to become the Winston Salem Warthogs. I think the attendance would be up when you know that some of the guys on the field will someday be playing for your club. It seems like the Reds have everything figured out. Maybe the Sox do too. We trade away so many of our prospects that we would need to go to other clubs farm teams to watch the players that will be on our club someday. This was my first sporting event in Kentucky. As you can see at the bottom of the page the state is now shaded in. I don’t care if it was barely over the Indiana border, it still counts. In some of my pictures the Indiana shoreline can be seen.
As a side note Myron Noodleman was at the game tonight. When I planned this trip I looked to see the promotion for it. I was dissapointed in no giveaway, but intrigued by this Myron Noodleman. When I do my weekly promotions posts (coming tomorrow by the way) I always come across his name. I was very curious to see what exactly he did. Well to me he seemed like a Jerry Lewis impersonator at a ball game. He was very good though, and made the nights of many of the fans. If he is coming to your local park go out to the game. His schtick is a little hokey, but so is the game after all. He is the kind of humor that we need a little more of.

Jose Contreras is the AL Player of the Week

I have been putting off this post about the players that I met at Toledo a couple of weeks ago. I was going to post a little bit about how easy it really is to get autographs. One of those players that made it easy was Jose Contreras. Before the game I went through the long lines, and got a ball signed by the entire Toledo Mud Hens team. It took a little while to do it, but the ball looks great. When those guys make it to the Tigers roster it will start looking better and better.
After going through the lines I went over near the Sox dugout to get a couple autographs. One of the first players to come down the line was Daryle Ward. He was great, and signed for everyone. Later that day I got his father to sign the same ball making a nice addition to my collection. I got some of the other players on the team to sign including former Twin Michael Restovich. I was snubbed by Gordon Beckham and Brett Lillibridge. In a way I can see Beckham. Everyone wanted a piece of him at that time. Lillibridge though better just enjoy the thought that someone wants his autograph. The way that he is playing in Triple A, he may have some Double A fans wanting it in a few days. I was really looking forward to getting Rich Dotsons autograph. I met him at my first Sox game, and really wanted a ball from him to go on my wall. I did get to meet him, and even though he asked where I wanted him to sign he still signed the side of the ball. That would not have been so bad, but I am not even sure that he signed his name. It is almost unreadable. That ball is now hidden in the back of the collection. Only the good ones can be up front with the limited space. The highlight of the pre game though was Jose Contreras. I was not even looking his way, and he tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I wanted something signed. I never even saw him coming. I dug into my bag to get a ball, and he put his name right on it. He was very gracious, and really upped his stock in my book that day.
That made it much easier to root for him when he came back up to pitch last week against the Tigers. He went 8 innings allowing no runs and one hit. He only gave up two hits this weekend against the Brewers once again allowing nobody to score. In all he pitched 16 scoreless innings in his two outings. That apparently was good enough for the powers that be to name him the AL Player of the Week. He has looked great since he came back up. Let’s hope that he can keep it up. Go Jose. You have a new fan rooting for you.

Beckham is On His Way

Gordon Beckham has been promoted to the White Sox. They have been having trouble at third all year long, and people have been clamouring for him to get a shot. Now he is going to get that shot. We will see what comes of it. In the counter move the Sox designated Wilson Betemit for assignment. He never really panned out. Maybe Beckham will be the savior. It will be interesting to see where he bats in the lineup.

Obligitory Gordon Beckham Post

It seems that if you are a Sox fan you have to have an opinion on Gordon Beckham. I was withholding mine until I was able to see him play. In fact I waited an extra day so that I could see him play against Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman is a pretty good MLB pitcher for the Detroit Tigers making a rehab start in Toledo. What I saw made me optimistic about the young man’s talent. He went 3-4, with his one out being a line drive that was caught while crashing into the outfield fence. The runner at the time tagged up and went to third, but did not score. His three hits were against a pitcher that held the Knights to six hits as a team. He was the teams offense. One game does not make a player, but Beckham has been playing well since he came to Charlotte. In fact right now he has gotten hits in over half of his at bats. He has pretty much had sucess at every level since I first heard about him after he was drafted last year. This kid could be the real deal.

In the field he looked pretty solid. He was charged with one error on the day, but his throw to first made one hop into Daryle Ward’s mitt before it fell out. Ward has a slap style of catching the ball similar to Ivan Calderon of the eighties. It was this sweeping motion of the catch and lack of squeeze at the proper time that led to the error. A decent first baseman catches that ball. This one did not. The ball was on the ground though so he does get an error. He was playing shortstop on the day, but had been playing third most of the series versus Toledo. Josh Field’s bat has come alive for the big club, or we might see Beckham sooner rather than later.

I have included some other pics taken on the day of Beckham because I could not decide on which ones to include in the article. The top picture shows him at second base after just stealing it. He got in pretty easily so maybe he can actually be threat on the bases for the Sox. The second and third pictures show him getting two of his hits on the day. He has a pretty nice swing that seems to be working for him. He hardest hit ball of the day was the one that was caught. You can’t get a hit everytime though. The next picture was hard to figure at first. I could not figure out what he was doing in the on deck circle. Then I figured it out. He had gone 3-3 at that point. He was playing well enough that maybe he was getting a whiff of the big leagues. Yes kid, the big time is close. The final pic is of Gordon holding Marcus Thames on second. Notice the tissue stuffed in his left nostril. Some people apparently are not ready when they get their first big whiff of the big time. I never saw anything that could have caused that nose bleed. He was just standing at second after a double that he did not even cover second on. Cole Armstrong had a malfunction with his glove that stopped play. After Armstrong got a new glove play was just about to begin when Beckham called time. When he trotted back out everyone thought it had something to do with the sun. Getting glasses or anything else. With the naked eye we could not see the tissue. It was only after I was home that I realized that he had a bloody nose. I had what I thought were the best pictures that I have ever taken after the game. I had some great action shots of Gordon Beckham actually walking on water. He is the savior. When I got home to check them out though they were all overexposed to the point that you could not tell what was going on. I guess I will have to wait for another miracle from him. Fishes and loaves night coming to a ball park near you.

Bonderman Fends Off The Knights Easily

Last night I was in Toledo to see the Charlotte Knights play the Toledo Mud Hens. A lot went on yesterday so I will save it for a few posts since this is a rain day. No sense making one huge monstrosity. The two teams were worlds apart it seemed like. The Mud Hens had Jeremy Bonderman and Marcus Thames on their squad, but they were rehabbing injuries. The Sox had Contreras and Lillibridge going, but they were just trying to work things out. Lillibridge looked like the guy that we remember from the parent club. He was hitting everything into the air. He went 0-4 on the day leading off for the Knights. Not that 0-4 was uncommon. Only five players got hits yesterday. Of the seven hits the Knights managed, one certain player got three of those. He will be talked about at length in another post. If this team is the future of the Sox I am scared. Except for a few players it is filled with washed up players. I would say has beens, but that would mean that they have done something. I guess most of our young kids are in Birmingham right now. Maybe in August when the Knights come to Indy some of these young kids will be on the big club.

As far as the game goes at first it looked as if it would be a duel between Carlos Torres and Bonderman. That is until the bottom of the fourth. Torres ran out of gas it looked like and gave up four runs in the fourth, and one in the fifth. He only pitched 4 1/3 innings. For three of those he looked fairly decent. He did seem to have control problems. I wonder if Jose has been helping him out on the side. Bonderman on the other hand was great. He pitched eight innings only giving up six hits, no walks, and striking out five. He looks as if he will be with the big club soon. He had most of the Knights flailing for the majority of the game. Thames had a good day as well. He went 2-3 with a home run, a walk, and two runs scored. Mike Hessman hit a two run dinger (his only real good at bat of the game), and Ryan Roberson drove in two as well. The Mud Hens improved to 20-30 on the season. This is not a great team, but they made it looked easy against the Knights.

As far as the Knights go, only one player really had a good day at the plate. The swing by Restovich to the right was typical on the day. The ball is in the dirt with the player flailing at it wildly. Cole Armstrong was so fooled on one pitch that he lost his bat into the Knights dugout. The next inning he had some issues with his mitt, and had to go into the dugout to get a new one. As soon as he came back onto the field Beckham ran into the dugout. He came back out with something stuffed up into his left nostril. When things are going bad for your team, they are really going bad. As I said before, except for Beckham not one player really stood out here. This was just one game though. It was nice to see Josh Kroeger play again. Josh played for the Silverhawks a few years back. He had a decent spring, but the Sox really are deep in corner outfielders right now. He would need some miracles to make it to the big club. The same could be said for a few players on this team. Even with that being said I will try and see these guys again in a couple of weeks when they are playing in Louisville.

One interesting fact about the game is the fact that once again I was able to see Daryle Ward play. I have only seen him play four times, but he has been on a different team each time. He is the first player that I have seen play for four different teams. If he gets up to the Sox it could easily be five. I was able to meet both Daryle and his father prior to the game. I had a great day getting autographs. I will tackle that in another post though. I may also have another post about the phenom Gordon Beckham.

Back to the Land of Klinger

Today I am off once more to Toledo to see a game at Fifth Third Field. I had a great time earlier this season, and I knew that I would be back soon. I never thought that it would be within a month though. The Charlotte Knights are in town though so I thought I would go see my favorite teams Triple A club. I knew some of the players from prior teams, but there was nobody in particular to watch. Then they promoted the savior to Triple A. Gordon Beckham is now a Knight. That sealed the deal, and the car leaves here in about five hours for the game. Jeremy Bonderman is pitching for the Mud Hens so we will see real quick what Beckham can do against Major League pitching. As of this morning he is hitting .364 since being called up. Not too shabby. One game though can make or break that average. Since I first went to Toledo in April the view from the The Roost has been my banner for this site. This is a beautiful park that I am happy to see again. See you in Toledo!