Friday, August 19, 2016

Southern Wisconsin Absent From Northwoods League Championship


 All photos of South Division Wild Card Game available on Flickr.

For the first time since 2012, a representative of southern Wisconsin will not be in the Summer Collegiate World Series.  Kenosha struggled through a pretty rough season this year with not a lot of players returning from their 2015 title year, and Lakeshore and Madison were both ousted from the playoffs on the first day.  With the new playoff format, now in its second year, the number of playoffs in the ever-expanding league has doubled to eight.  To accommodate these additional teams without dragging the playoffs on an extra week, there are now back-to-back winner-take-all games to start the playoffs followed by a best of 3 championship series.  Much like the MLB format, it's certainly exciting to see more teams have a chance to make it, but it makes it hard on any fan who might want to see their team.  There's no guarantee that any playoff participant will have a home game, let alone make it past the first day of the playoffs.  And very often fans will not even know if or where their team is playing until late the night before, which means that even at a place like Madison that tops the Summer Collegiate attendance charts year after year, the stadium is half empty.  It even took an impromptu bobblehead giveaway to get fans to come out to the Duck Pond this year for their Wild Card matchup against the Battle Creek Bombers, and of course I made the drive out for it.

This was my first trip back to Warner Park since the playoffs last year, and for the first time in several years, nothing much has seemed to change.  The picnic area in the left field corner seems to have been spruced up a little bit, but I tried to go up there and the only way to access it was by going up a steep mound covered in used football field astroturf, which seemed incredibly weird and dangerous.  Some of the vendors have spruced up their branding, and as usual there were some new exciting things on the menu.  I ate a salmon burger from the BBQ stand and it was delicious.  I got my customary Great Dane Crop Circle Wheat that I always miss when away from Madison, and I was still disappointed to see that the souvenir beer cups had not returned.  I walked to my seat in the first row of the 200 level for a couple of innings, but as I mentioned, the stadium was uncharacteristically empty, so I made my way down to the 5th row for most of the game.

The game pitted Madison's Heath Renz against Battle Creek's Cody Puckett.  Renz had an outstanding season for Mallards, holding his ERA under 2.00 in 9 starts.  However he did not perform well on the big stage, giving up 6 runs over just 3 innings.  He got through the first two innings with relative eased, but then was schlacked for 6 runs in an inning plus, including a 3-run homerun by the Bombers' centerfielder.  The Bombers continued to pull away with runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th, but Mallards LF Josh Stowers was on a mission to take the team on his shoulders and almost singlehandedly win the game.  He was 4-4 on the night with 2 towering homeruns and 6 RBI.  You would never know by the power display that he only had 3 homeruns on the entire season before tonight.  A couple of more runs late were not enough to catch Battle Creek, however, as they lost by a final score of 9-8.

Note to Madison area Culvers: if you are going to give out promotional coupons for free custard every time the Mallards score 5 runs, you need to have your restaurant a block from the stadium remain open after the game.

STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 08.19:
Brewers 52-68, -25.0, -12.0 WC (3 @ Mariners, 3 v. Rockies)
Reds 51-69, -26.0, -13.5 WC (4 v. Dodgers, 2 v. Rangers
)
Twins 49-72, -21.0, -13.0 WC (3 @ Royals, 3 v. Tigers)

2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 12 (+23 worked)

Peter - 28

Monday, August 8, 2016

Rivets Stadium


All photos of Rivets Stadium available on Flickr.

With only two weeks left in the season already, I finally got my butt in gear and made it down to Rockford to see the newest Northwoods League team, the Rivets.  Their stadium is actually just north of Rockford in the suburb of Loves Park and is very visible from I-90.  However, with easy freeway access generally comes large team-operated parking lots; I arrived just before first pitch driving down from work, and immediately lamented the fact that parking cost almost as much as my front row ticket. 

My first impression of the stadium was that, other than the name and new branding, it had not changed at all in the 10 years since I had last been there.  This was way back in the Year 1 B.B. (Before Blog) when it was known as Riverhawks Stadium, which I am just learning now was the park's inaugural season.  Through all of the name changes and tenants - most recently the indie-league Aviators and now the Rivets - many of the familiar architectural elements and finishes remain the same.  The primary material is still the imposing gray block, and the front gate still has the memorable steel truss towers, only this time with the new Rivets logo banner slapped on the side. 

The inside of the park was exactly the same as well.  It is sort of reminiscent of the what the Kane County park looked like before the renovations - the concourse is completely open to the field of play, aside from a small press box building.  There is no canopy or any structure between the service areas (concessions, restrooms, offices, etc) along exterior of the stadium, and the seating bowl, only a wide open walkway.  While I love that you are able to see the field from almost everywhere, having some public covered areas would be nice.  I do recall in my last visit here that a huge thunderstorm rolled just past us, and if it were only a few feet more in our direction, everybody would have gotten drenched.  There is an enclosed bar area near the main entry along with a team store, but both are about the size of a closet and even with the sparse crowd in the hundreds, would not have been able to fit everyone during a sudden rain event.  The stadium is bookended with a couple of large private party areas in left field, and a beer deck in right field.  The beer deck was basically just some picnic tables with a little shack that sold Miller and "craft beer," and it operated just about as well as it looked - it took about 10 minutes for my debit card to process and then when it finally did, it charged me twice.  The concourse unfortunately stops at the beer deck and does not extend behind the outfield wall, although you wouldn't be missing out on anything in an outfield concourse other than corn and staring at a bunch of empty seats.  The stadium still looks very new and is comfortable for a ballgame, but once you get into the details of it, you can tell that a lot of corners were cut and decisions were made strictly on cost.  Judging by the number of teams that have already left this city, that might have not been the best approach.

This game was the 2nd half of a pretty awesome feature of the Northwoods League the last couple years: the home-and-home rivalry doubleheader.  Rockford played in Madison at 11:35 AM and won 10-9, then both teams hopped on the bus for the hour drive down to Rockford for the 6:35 nightcap.  The league used to schedules these doubleheader games very close to each other and the 2nd game would always start late, so I see that has been corrected.  I still can't imagine what it's like for Thunder Bay and Duluth to have to drive 4+ hours and play two baseball games in one day.  Anyways, the game moved along at quite a brisk pace compared to a lot of games in the circuit.  The Mallards scratched across single tallies in the 2nd and 4th, but other than that Rivets starter Jake Perkins more than held his own by scattering 7 hits over 6 innings.  It was only when Nick Kamrada entered the game that things got out of hand.  He was all over the place, walking 4 in the 7th inning and giving up an unearned run.  It was clear even from watching him warm up in front of me and throwing the ball past the catcher several times that it was going to be a rough outing for the young man.  The Mallards would then load the bases in the 9th off of Quinton Forrestor and plate 2 on a Zach Jarrett double to put the game out of reach.  Rockford mustered only 3 hits.  Perhaps most the most disappointing part of the evening is that I was literally the only person sitting in the stands between the 1st base dugout and the foul pole and I did not get one foul ball.

The Northwoods League is supposed to expand yet again next year, and it should be interesting to see where the Rivets fit into that plan.  This was by far the emptiest stadium I've been to in the league, and they are dead last in total attendance by a substantial margin - both are pretty sad for a first year team.  And as I previously mentioned, it's not like this stadium has a great track record of retaining tenants either.  Hopefully my trip down to Illinois will not have been in vain.

park rankings and statistics:
aesthetics - 3
views from park – 2
view to field - 10 (not much netting, open concourse)
surrounding area – 1 (freeway)
food variety - 4
nachos - 5
beer - 6 (fair variety, cheap, but only one stand)

vendor price - 9
ticket price - 9
atmosphere - 2
walk to park – 1
parking price/proximity - 2 (the only Northwoods park I can think of that charges for parking)
concourses - 6 (not active but open)
team shop - 2


best food – burger
most unique stadium feature – entry
best jumbotron feature – cheering for the beer batter to strike out
best between-inning feature – very unique and random pop culture music selection

field dimensions – 312/380/312
starters – Westin Wuethrich (MAD) v. Jake Perkins (RCK)
opponent – Madison Mallards v. Rockford Rivets
time of game – 2:47
attendance – 329
score – 7-1 L

Brewers score that day – 7-3 L


STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 08.08:
Brewers 49-60, -19.5, -9.0 WC (4 v. Braves, 3 v. Reds, 3 @ Cubs)
Reds 45-65, -24.0, -13.5 WC (3 @ Cardinals, 3 @ Brewers, 4 v. Marlins
)
Twins 45-66, -18.0, -16.0 WC (4 v. Astros, 3 v. Royals, 2 @ Braves)

2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+19 worked)

Peter - 25

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Griffey Jr, Piazza Enshrined in Hall


This past Sunday, the 2016 Hall of Fame Class was inducted in Cooperstown.  Two big names made up the list this year - Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza.  One could argue that both were the best at their position over a 10 year period in the 90s and early 00s.  Griffey was one of only 3 players to hit 500 HRs and earn 10 gold gloves and had seven(!) seasons of 40 homeruns, including 5 consecutive in his heyday from 1996-2000.  He was also the first to go into the Hall donning a Mariners cap, although in my opinion if Greg Maddux was allowed to have the cap on his plaque be sans-team, Griffey should have been allowed to go in with his signature backwards cap.  Piazza was a 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner who hit 427 homeruns, including the most ever as a catcher.  He was also the highest round draft pick to ever go into the Hall - so high in fact that his record will never be broken, because the 62nd round doesn't even exist anymore.

The last few induction classes, including this one, have really started to stand out to me because they are mostly filled with players I grew up watching.  Sure, I wanted to see Jack Morris get into the Hall as much as the next guy, but the players I remember seeing at County Stadium, Miller Park, and The GAB as an adolescent have a special place in my heart because I associate them with the time in my life when I really grew to love the game.  The 2016 class in particular holds personal meaning to me because Griffey and Piazza were two of the most popular players of their generation by far, and helped baseball grow in popularity once again.  Every kid in the 1990s had a #24 Griffey Mariners jersey and wore their hat backwards on the ball field to emulate Griffey.  He even stayed incredibly popular when he was traded to Cincinnati and was largely a shadow of his former self.  This is the time period, while attending college at UC, when I got to watch Griffey the most.  A 2005 Reds Griffey bobblehead was even the first of what is now an extensive collection I own.  Even as an aging star who saw the field less and less between injuries, that sweet swing and childlike enthusiasm remained and kept fans coming back to watch a perennially awful Reds team.  And speaking of sweet swings, that powerful stroke from Mike Piazza is what I will always remember about him the most.  I can still vividly picture that upright stance, those wide shoulders, that mustachey growl, batting with his Dodgers catching helmet turned forward instead of the standard ear-flap helmet, and most of all, the 2000 Subway Series vs the Yankees.

There's no doubt that these were two of my favorite players in high school and college, and as the years pass it is going to be harder for me to pass on the opportunity to attend one.  I can't even imagine how insane the crowd will be when Derek Jeter goes in on the first ballot in 2020.

STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 07.26:
Brewers 42-55, -16.5, -10.0 WC (3 v. Pirates, 3 @ Padres, 3 @ Diamondbacks)
Reds 39-60, -20.5, -14.0 WC (3 @ Padres, 3 v. Cardinals, 3 @ Pirates
)
Twins 37-61, -19.5, -18.0 WC (3 v. White Sox, 4 @ Indians, 3 @ Rays)


2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+17 worked)

Peter - 23

Friday, July 22, 2016

Homerun Derby at Kenosha Harbor


All photos of 2016 Northwoods League HR Derby available on Flickr.

I went to one of the more unique baseball events I've ever been to earlier this week - the Northwoods League Homerun Derby.  That in and of itself may not sound too crazy, but when you add the fact that the derby was not in a stadium but rather at the Kenosha Harbor, well that's pretty crazy.  The Kingfish are following a recent trend, or perhaps a shift, in baseball minor and independent leagues to add a more unique twist to their all-star festivities.  The Camden Riversharks and Lake Elsinore Storm have both hosted homerun derbies that took place on a USS battleship, and a few years ago the Eastern League had a "hitting challenge" in lieu of the traditional homerun derby.  The KBO even held a "bunt derby" on the same night.  The Big Top Baseball-owned Kingfish were certainly a worthy contender to carry the torch of wacky all-star events and put on an excellent show on Monday night.  The event was so well promoted that it actually ended up in many national sports publications and came in at #8 on Sportscenter's Top 10 the next morning.

The format of the event, which seems to change every year now, was set up as a regular 9-inning game, with one player from each division batting per half inning with 6 "outs" each.  At the end of the 9 innings, both a division and an individual player were crowned.  This format did two things - it gave a lot of players a chance to participate, but it also kept the event moving, as there were no lights at the harbor like you would have at a stadium and the derby had to be wrapped up before sundown.  The South Division rose again and beat the North rather handily, and hometown slugger Marty Bechina took home the individual title with 6 taters.

The logistics of this derby were actually very well executed given the zaniness of it.  Pitchers stood at the far end of a pier closest to the water, and the hitters stood 60'-6" closer to shore, with a catcher and screen behind him.  It was hard to tell what the width of the pier was from where we were standing, but I can assure you that had Carlos Gomez been participating, he surely would have swung out of his shoes and fallen right into Lake Michigan.  Batted balls that jettisoned towards the harbor then had to cross a line of floating yellow buoys to count as a homerun.  I presume that the homerun line was set up to match the dimensions of Simmons Field because it looked like a pretty short porch.  Staff members in kayaks patrolled the "infield" to retrieve balls, and there were many boats in the "outfield" that chose to forgo the $10 admission price and watch the derby for free.  Anybody staying at the Best Western next door would have gotten a free show as well, so I'll have to remember both of those as options if this event ever returns.  There was also a giant schooner that sailed back and forth keeping score, and also had fans aboard who purchased special VIP tickets.  Other than the winning slugger Bechina, there really wasn't another hitter that ever got on a roll, so the event did grow a little stale after awhile.  But it was still so cool to watch balls kerplunking into the water and people in boats scurrying after the ball like you would see in San Francisco.  Everybody longs to see a "splash hit" when watching a Giants game, and tonight every single ball hit was a splash hit.  The biggest splash of all came not from a participant, but from a young Kingfish staff member.  He bet some of the players earlier in the day that he could hit a homerun on his first swing, and he did!  The bet was that if he didn't hit a homerun, he had to jump in the lake, but on a night where the temperature approached 90ยบ, he gladly jumped in anyways.

With over 3,000 people in attendance for 2 hours of derby, live music, and fireworks, the event was an overwhelming success.  The best part about it is you can be all but guaranteed that the Northwoods League will make it a goal to make next year's homerun derby even more insane.  Perhaps the new Rockford team will get the game next year and try to hit balls onto I-90.

STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 07.21:
Brewers 40-52, -16.0, -10.0 WC (3 v. Cubs, 4 v. Diamondbacks)
Reds 36-59, -21.5, -15.5 WC (3 v. Diamondbacks, 3 @ Giants
)
Twins 35-59, -21.0, -18.0 WC (4 @ Red Sox, 2 v. Braves, 1 v. Orioles)


2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+17 worked)

Peter - 22

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Brewers Likely to Active Sellers Again at Trade Deadline


With the All-Star Break upon us and the Brewers already 14 1/2 games out of 1st place, Slingin' David Stearns has been fielding phone calls left and right about any and all players in what should be another active trade deadline for him.  When I was away on my honeymoon, the Crew flipped Aaron Hill for two prospects to Boston, which was probably the most expected move of any they could have made.  Hill came along in the package we got in the Segura-Wagner trade to Arizona, and I thought at the time how brilliant it was to get another trade chip in that deal.  It was a very Billy Beane-esque move.  There is no space on a rebuilding roster for a 34-year old with an expiring contract.

There have also been a lot of rumors floating around about where Jonathan Lucroy is heading.  The Rangers, Astros, and Red Sox are all in need of an upgrade at catcher and have all been linked to the all-star, among others.  A common thread with all of the teams interest is the bevy of blue-chip prospects they have in their farm system and/or Major League roster right now.  I would think that Lucroy will demand no less than 3 major-league caliber high-ceiling type prospects, not just guys who can fill a roster.  I personally don't see him getting traded until the offseason unless some team suffers a catastrophic injury at catcher in the next 2 weeks, but because he is arguably the Brewers best player and has a very team-friendly contract, he will continue to garner the most attention.  More likely than Lucroy, I expect to see some of our bullpen pieces get traded.  Jeremy Jeffress has been extremely serviceable as the closer in a year where he was not even expected to be in the role.  He has an ERA a shade above 2.00, a great groundball rate, and only 1 blown save.  Will Smith has also been one of the most reliable lefty late-inning relievers in all of baseball the last 2+ seasons, with mid-90s heat and a diving slider.  They are both also under team control for at least 3 more seasons, making them very attractive to any suitor.  Blaine Boyer is pitching decently and is a veteran on a one-year deal.  I expect one or all of them to be dealt soon, and really any reliever we have right now has to be considered fair game.  Chris Carter, Junior Guerra, and some of our bench outfielders might get some interest as well.  In fact I would say pretty much anybody except Jimmy Nelson and Zach Davies is tradeable at this point on the major league roster. 

It should be an interesting couple of weeks to say the least.  Come August 1st, we could have a completely different roster.

STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 07.12:
Brewers 38-49, -14.5, -8.5 WC (3 @ Reds, 3 @ Pirates)
Reds 32-57, -21.5, -15.5 WC (3 v. Brewers, 3 v. Braves
)
Twins 32-56, -20.0, -17.5 WC (3 v. Indians, 3 @ Tigers)


2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+15 worked)

Peter - 21

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

College World Series: TD Ameritrade Park


All photos of TD Ameritrade Park available on Flickr.

I have to travel a fair amount for my job, which generally sucks.  But sometimes it does have its perks.  At the moment I have several projects in the Omaha area, and given that most of our work is in the rural Midwest, I choose to look at this as a blessing and not a curse.  This means that for at least the next year, I get to plan site visits around various ball schedules and basically have the company pay for it.  I was out there this past week and the job superintendent was able to score us some free seats to the College World Series!  This event is a huge deal in Omaha that has been held there for over 60 years.  I was fortunate enough to attend the final CWS at the old stadium 6 years ago and was eager to see what was different at the new park that opened downtown in 2011.

I was staying at hotel nearby and there was a shuttle that took us about a mile and a half to the park.  Not to the front door, or a drop off point, but on a super sketchy deserted street about 2 blocks north.  I just could not believe how stark of a contrast it was between the stadium area two blocks away and where we were dropped off, moreso than any other urban stadium I can recall going to.  Omaha definitely has that Memphis or Milwaukee-like quality where you can go from ghetto to vibrant area in the blink of an eye, but it also is like Phoenix in that it is sprawling out of control.  It is well over 30 miles from the Iowa border to the far western edge of town.  Anyways, we navigated the desolate area north of the park to a party tent where our free tickets were awaiting us, and were pleasantly surprised to find out we got free food and beer as well!  It was getting close to game time at this point, but far be it from me to turn down anything free, so we crushed some Omaha Steak burgers and an America Light before heading inside for first pitch.

TD Ameritrade Park is the type of park where you need to ascend a flight of stairs outside to the main gate, and it really worked well for this park since the main entry was on a busy intersection.  It created this sort of "Spanish steps" gathering place that worked well with the bars and shops across the street.  The second level of the exterior was also ringed with this green tinted glass all the way around the seating bowl.  I found this to look kind of dated, but I did like that the glass panels had varying opacity, which was a cool look at various angles from the sun.  The street level is grounded with brick to give it scale.  Between the brick and the mostly opaque glass on the top, and the stadium being elevated, there weren't really any parts of the where you could see inside, which was probably my biggest peeve with the park.  If it was the city's intent to locate this park downtown as part of a revitalization project, I think it was a missed opportunity to not have it interact with the street more.  Once inside, the concourse was very spacious and featured a very good variety of concessions.  Most notably, almost every single stand had a different menu featuring a different type of nachos.  Beer was about average for price and variety, but honestly I was not expecting that to be a huge priority at a collegiate park.  One of the more unique parts of the stadium is its size.  Because this stadium is primarily used to host the College World Series, it doesn't really follow the capacity guidelines of any particular level of baseball.  It's smaller than a typical MLB park, but larger than a typical minor league park - incidentally, this is part of the reason that the AAA Storm Chasers got their own separate new park, because they would never be able to fill this place on a nightly basis.  It looks like it could be a Major League park from the outside, but on the inside, it looks more like a larger spring training facility.  Our seats were in the first row so it might be hard for me to judge, but from where we were sitting, it seemed like a fairly intimate park even though it was a crowd of over 25,000 people.

The evening's matchup was Game #10 of the CWS, pitting #5 ranked Texas Tech against the underdog Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.  When I say underdog, I am not exaggerating - they came into the tournament unranked and as a first time participant, not even from a D1 conference.  And don't ask me what a Chanticleer is.  It was a long game that I tried my best to make it through, but alas my consecutive 4:30 AM wakeup calls prevented me from seeing CCU finish off the 7-5 upset.  They actually would go on to beat TCU this past weekend and are playing in the finals tonight.  Starter Jason Bilous was wild in and out of the strike zone and got knocked around in the beginning for the Chants, but ultimately was able to keep his team in the game just enough.  Stephen Smith got the scoring started with a 3-run double in the 2nd, but CCU answered right back and plated a couple on a ball under the glove of the Texas Tech first baseman in the following inning.  It is a lead they would not relinquish and tacked on a few runs for good measure.  Backup catcher David Parrett, batting .151 on the season, was the unlikely hero for the game as he went 2-4 with 3 RBI for CCU.  Mike Morrison and Bobby Holmes were also filthy in relief.  I was quick to notice what so many pundits have said - that the park is a dead zone for hitters, as opposed to the old bandbox at Rosenblatt.  Even though there were 12 runs scored in the game (which has been the highest scoring game in this year's tournament thus far), many balls died in the air to the outfield and only a couple of safe hits made it even as far as the gaps.  I think a lot of that has to do with the new composite bats as well.

After the game, we waited on the shady dark street corner for our shuttle to arrive and it was an early flight for me back to Milwaukee the next day.  I wish Erik could have been there with me since this trip happened to fall on the 9th anniversary of our Tour, but maybe when I make it back for a Storm Chasers game in a couple of months, he can call in sick.

A side note: I am going to be off of the grid for awhile as I am going on my honeymoon in Iceland and Amsterdam!  Don't worry, I'll be back in time for the annual Homerun Derby Drinking Game.

park rankings and statistics:
aesthetics - 6
views from park – 7 (decent view of downtown Omaha in right field)
view to field - 10
surrounding area – 5 (depends on which way you go...)
food variety - 9
nachos - 10 (many different varieties)
beer - 7

vendor price - 5
ticket price - 7 (ours were free, upper deck $35)
atmosphere - 10
walk to park – 2 (again, depends on where you come from)
parking price/proximity - 7 ($10 across the street)
concourses - 8
team shop - 4 (several small carts)


best food – Reuben sausage
most unique stadium feature – size, green glass
best jumbotron feature – ads for schools
best between-inning feature – when every single fan in LF bleachers threw a beach ball onto the field at one time

field dimensions – 335/408/335
starters – Jason Bilous (CCU) v. Erikson Lanning (TTU)
opponent – Coastal Carolina Chanticleers v. Texas Tech Red Raiders
time of game – 3:48
attendance – not given
score – 7-5 CCU

Brewers score that day – off


STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 06.28:
Brewers 31-39, -15.0 (3 v. Dodgers, 3 @ Cardinals, 3 @ Nationals, 3 v. Cardinals)
Reds 29-48, -21.0 (3 v. Cubs, 4 @ Nationals, 3 @ Cubs, 3 @ Marlins
)
Twins 24-51, -21.0 (3 @ White Sox, 3 v. Rangers, 3 v. Athletics, 4 @ Rangers)


2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+12 worked)

Peter - 20

Monday, June 20, 2016

Return of Big Time Timmy Jim


Tim Lincecum finished the long road to recovery from hip surgery this past weekend in the Bay Area, but not in his familiar orange and black Giants uniform as we have all been accustomed to seeing.  Rather, he was pitching in Angel Red against the A's in Oakland.  The Angels signed him to an incentive-laden minor league deal a few weeks ago, and after a few starts with mixed results in AAA Salt Lake to build up arm strength, LA called up the former star to a rotation in desperate need of help.  CJ Wilson is now 35 and has been on the DL all year with a shoulder injury (which means his career is probably over), Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney are both getting stem cell injections to try to avoid elbow surgery, and Jered Weaver's fastball is now being clocked with a sundial.  "The Freak" showed up in a big way on Saturday, giving up only 1 run in 6 innings and striking out 2.

The Angels record aside, he really could not be walking into a better situation.  It's a team with no better options that is struggling for an identity, and even though they are close in age, Jered Weaver has reinvented himself in the last few years as a soft-throwing finesse pitcher and is somebody that Timmy can really lean on to learn a lot from.  Here's hoping that this is the beginning of a new chapter for Lincecum, who is still exciting to watch and easy to root for, not to mention still extremely marketable.

STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 06.20:
Brewers 31-39, -17.5 (2 @ Athletics, 3 v. Nationals)
Reds 27-43, -21.5 (2 @ Rangers, 4 v. Padres
)
Twins 21-48, -17.5 (3 v. Phillies, 3 @ Yankees)


2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 11 (+10 worked)

Peter - 17