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A Bostonian at the University of Michigan.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006  

What just happened in the Red Sox game? I don't even know. I fell asleep, I think. Basically I remember seeing David Wells pitching and the sign behind the batter, you know, the blank one that they digitally put ads on, said WELLS FARGO in big letters, and I started laughing inside my brain because it's like Yoda offering encouragment to Boomer. Yes, you Wells, you far go in game. Deep in game go you, bullpen sucks does. That is the only thing I know about the game.

The game I did pay attention to was the Lowell Spinners/Oneonta Tigers game at 2. That's what the photo up there is all about. Check it, yo. The batter is Ronnie Bourquin, third baseman, formerly of Ohio State, and the catcher is Jeff Kunkel, formerly of the University of Michigan. Now they are currently of the Oneonta Tigers, playing together in harmony or, you know, something. Maybe deep, barely suppressed hatred that fuels their competitive natures and makes them play better.

Maybe all teams should have Michigan players with big rivals on them, to keep them sharp. Mark Mulder/Mike Matheny battery, here we come!

I took notes to make myself focus, because I had just gotten back from work (on a Saturday! My last Saturday home before heading back to ye olde University! Oh, the humanity) and was kind of simultaneously exhausted and jazzed on caffeine. Here they are, unadulterated except for a few typos I made with coffee-jittered fingers. (If you're reading RotT you will note that my latest entry over there are just the O-Tigs-related bits of this transcript. I try to not be lazy like that, usually, but since I saw neither the Red Sox nor Tigers big league games, tough kibble.)

DAVE MCCARTY IS GOING TO BE DOING SOME OF THE ANNOUNCING! Yessssss awkward Dapper Dan hair! He’s got his WS ring on.

Kristofer Johnson for the Spinners, Tom Thornton out of Marlboro, MA starting for the O-Tigs. Oh gross, he’s a Notre Dame kid. I will now take a moment to resent Brad Lidge for little reason.

Crudnuggets, Ronnie Bourquin (out of tOSU) is playing third but Jeff Kunkel (out of U of M) isn’t starting. Ronnie Bourquin has ham hands. I’m guessing he gets moved somewhere else if he advances beyond this level; probably first base if they’ve got room to stash him there.

Best name so far: Deik Scram, the leadoff hitter for the O-Tigs. It’s pronounced Deek Skram. I love it.

Fascinating. Wood for major league and minor league bats is of different quality, and wood for the bats of someone like Barry Bonds is even better. I guess I didn’t think about that. What the hell are Bonds' bats made out of, mahogany? They also get far fewer bats in the minors and therefore having a ‘favorite bat’ and not breaking it or whatever is much more important. In the Cape League they made you throw the balls back in when they went out of the park; I suppose low-A isn’t much farther off the Cape League and all that makes sense.

Ha ha, Ronnie Bourquin got pump-faked into running for home, got stuck in a rundown and was the last out of an inning-ending double play. Yeah, good Buckeye fundamentals. I realize that a lot of guys would have gotten stuck in that play and I have absolutely no basis for trashing on Buckeye fundamentals, but it looks pretty in type, so I’m gonna go with it.

Thornton has a real high kick. His arm… he’s not coming way over the top with it? Almost a 3/4 slot. McCarty points out that when he throws his changeup he fans his glove a little. In fact, McCarty managed to pick this up after seeing him throw the changeup, uh, twice. Ruh roh.

According to the oracle with the Dapper Dan hair, Mirabelli and McCarty would sit on the bench with Bill Haselman and pick up things like that. Apparently Haselman is great at that sort of thing. As a bench/first base/that sort of thing coach, I think this is possibly the most important thing he does.

Johnson also has a high kick, but not nearly as high as Thornton’s. Much slower and more deliberate delivery. Leg up, pause, down. Thornton is all one motion, almost. More over the top than Thornton. Control issues early but, then again, who wouldn't get nerves playing in Fenway?

YES THE FRISBEE DOG IS AT FENWAY. BIG LEAGUE. I’ve seen him at Lowell before, he’s good.

I take it back, Thornton’s delivery is a little jerky too, but at a different point. For Johnson the pause comes right when he lifts his front leg up and his glove and ball hand are still together. Thornton’s pause is inconsistent, sometimes he doesn’t do it, and it comes when his pitching arm is extended backwards and his front leg is in the air. Because of this it looks a little awkward when he comes down on that front leg; the stress on his knee looks slightly above average. He comes down on it hard and there’s a slight twist to it. The twist probably offsets some of the shock of coming down that hard but it can’t be good for the tendons in there; the knee is not a joint that’s meant to move in any direction other than straight up and down.

[I may have failed to properly explain that. What I mean is that the catch in Thorton's delivery happens when he's at almost the same position as this shows, but with his front leg higher in the air.]

Kid gets a walk, number 11 for the Spinners I think, whoever that is, and he RUNS down to first. The kid goes down to first on a walk faster than Manny does on a groundout, even uninjured Manny. This is what is great about kids so young playing up here. I mean c'mon, it's Fenway Park, it at least deserves some hustle.

Johnson went to Wichita State. So did Nate Robertson, I think. Actually I think a bunch of guys went there. Lemme look.

Yeah, I thought so. Other Wichita State grads include Casey Blake, Braden Looper, Mike Pelfrey, and Doug Mirabelli. There are some other guys too. And I was right, Nate went. Good baseball school apparently. Guess there's not much else to do in Wichita.

Justin Masterson in for Lowell. Big guy. 6’5, outta some small podunk college, had a great summer in the Cape League in ’05, on the strength of that was able to transfer to San Diego State, which is a HUGE baseball college. This kid is thick, that's the first adjective that came to my mind when I saw him.

The Spinners hats have the Spinners logo on the front and a little Boston B embroidered on the right side, just above and in front of the ear. Weird.

I so badly want that Remy/Orsillo bobbledesk.

Almost everyone on the field is wearing high socks. Minor league baseball is hotness.

Esposito, #23, of the Spinners, hits a ball hiiiiigh off the Monster. Good for him, in another ballpark, even a ML ballpark, that’s gone. McCarty notes once again that Thornton had thrown the changeup and fanned his glove. Although it’s not too likely that Esposito picked up on that, it’s possible he did, since the information was there for the taking. Maybe one of his coaches tipped him to it. Either way, not good, kid’s gonna hafta clean that up right quick, even in a short-season league.

Josh Papelbon: “I’m playing baseball for a living now, this is unbelieveable y’know.”
Eric Frede: “We gonna see you in here today?”
Josh Papelbon: “I hope so, man!”
Josh Papelbon calls everyone ‘man’. Oh my god he is fucking adorable.

The Papelbon Papel-Bet! These kids are amazing. I would like to thank the Papelbon parents for doing such a freakin' good job.

some Spinners kid: *painfully excited* “I turned that double play earlier—“
*waits until he gets first base coach’s attention*
some Spinners kid: “I turned that double play earlier, it was like, raaaaawwwrr!” *hands out, gesturing, indicating the crowd*
Seriously, someone needs to just go out there and hug everyone on this field for being so adorable.

Josh Papelbon: “A lotta the fans come up and are like, “Oh, we love your brother,” and I just give it right back to ‘em like, “What, I’m not awesome?”

Wow, Papelbon pitching... he gets low with it. Different motion from ChadBrad, definitely, 'tho I'll have to think about how so. Little guy too, not stocky like Jonathan... maybe he’ll grow into it. But his overall frame looks smaller; I’ll have to look it up but he’s probably shorter. Actually I am too lazy. He looks shorter. There.

Oh, 9th inning, pinch hitter, it’s Kunkel! Sweet! I haven’t seen him play since the Wolverines season ended, of course. This is wicked cool. Won’t be able to tell much about his swing from one at-bat, of course, but it’s encouraging to see him get in here. Nothing quite like playing at Fenway, I reckon. Although this is gonna be rough. He’s facing BabyPapelbon, and there’s nothing Boston likes so much as a Papelbon right now.

Papelbon actually goes into a low crouch first, then whips his arm through. His torso is down close to the ground long before his arm even starts moving, which is different from most sidearmers I've seen, I think.

Kunkel ROBBED of a hit by a great LEAPING catch from, um, the shortstop, number 7 I think. Amazing balletic leaping catch. Jeter would be lucky to get so far off the ground.

Papelbon falls way off to the right after his motion. He has to leap upright to keep from falling the hell over. He's a little fireball though, bouncing around like he's got springs on the bottoms of his shoes.

Crowd coming to its feet. My god. Bet these Spinners aren’t too used to that.

Swinging K, Fenway screams. OMG. Josh Papelbon. The adorableness is killin’ me

The Spinners ended up winning, 3-1 I think, but that pretty much didn't matter. It was fun to watch and about 80,000 times less stressful, I'm sure, than whatever the Sox did tonight. Nobody tell me. I don't want to know.

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6:04 AM

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