Since Salt Lake has rolled up the welcome mat, I’ll be able to cover the Quakes’ game Sunday against Visalia. Sean O’Sullivan, the Angels’ 2007 minor league pitcher of the year, should be the starting pitcher if the rotation holds. Visalia’s pitcher projects to be Barry Enright, listed by Baseball America as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ #10 prospect.
Which means this game will turn out to be a slugfest.
I received several e-mails yesterday from acquaintances in the Salt Lake area expressing support and sympathy, after the Bees yanked my credential at the last moment. One was a fan who said she felt embarrassed. It’s not her fault, of course. She’s just a paying customer. But it’s more evidence that Bees management really doesn’t grasp the bad image they projected by doing this.
If you read the comments posted in the earlier blog, a photographer misconstrued the issue. The issue is not whether the Bees have the right to control who has access to shoot at the park. The issue is that they didn’t even bother to tell me the credential had been revoked. I made my flight reservations based on the repeated promise that a credential would be waiting for me. If I hadn’t taken the initiative to e-mail staff on Tuesday to confirm it was done, I would have flown to Salt Lake City, rented a car, checked into the hotel, driven to the park, hauled all my camera gear up to the gate, walked into the office — and been told I would be denied access.
That’s the issue.
There is an upside, though … I slightly sprained an ankle shooting last Sunday’s Quakes game at Lake Elsinore. Access to the field is by a long flight of stairs down to the dugouts. I had to carry my gear up about three stories after the game, which is when I probably sprained the ankle. So I’m taking off the next couple days to rest the ankle, and will hobble out to Rancho Sunday and cover Sean O’Sullivan’s start.
Kudos to the Bees’ Matt Brown, who hit for the cycle last night at Tucson. Brownie has never been on the top prospect radar, but made it to the big leagues last year anyway and is off to a red-hot start in 2008. After seven games, his AVG/OBP/SLG are .500/.529/.938. The Bees have won seven straight — four against the Dodgers’ affiliate in Las Vegas, and three in Tucson against the D’backs affiliate.
The Kernels swept a twinbill yesterday against Quad Cities, but even better both games were shutouts. Minor league doubleheader games are seven innings. In Game #1, Mason Tobin went the distance, allowing only three hits and a walk while striking out four. In Game #2, Robert Fish struck out eight in five innings.
The Arkansas Travelers have lost their first five games, which has the locals enraged over on Travelerocity. People need to calm down a bit. The 2001 Texas League championship team opened the season 0-5.
It seems that nearly every affiliate has a segment of their fandom who think the Angels have it out for them. In Salt Lake, the complaint is the Angels always raid their roster for the parent club’s needs. In Arkansas and Cedar Rapids, it’s the Angels take advantage of us because we’re not an Angels market. In Rancho Cucamonga, it’s the Angels take advantage of us because we are an Angels market and they think we’ll tolerate a loser.
The fact of the matter is that every affiliate has its ups and downs over the years. The players underachieving in Arkansas were in Rancho last year, and Cedar Rapids before that. All the talented prospects who went to the Midwest League playoffs in 2007 are in Rancho this year (if we can get Hank Conger, Matt Sweeney and Ryan Mount healthy). That group will be in Arkansas next year, if not sooner.
Minor league baseball doesn’t work like it did fifty years ago. In exchange for franchise stability, minor league baseball long ago agreed to become a training ground for future big leaguers. It’s not about wins and losses, it’s about development. Many times, the teams who do win league pennants are filled with older players who really don’t project as big-league prospects. Everyone wants a winner, but if you want your minor league team to control its own fate then they need to give up their franchise and go into independent ball. Like it or not, that’s the way of the baseball world now.
Anyway … Since I’m grounded for a few days, I’ll be able to catch up on backlogged photos and videos, so watch the FutureAngels.com home page for updates.
And a final reminder … This is the time of year I run up substantial debt due to all the travel to the affiliates to shoot photos and video for you. No one pays me to do this, so if you want to see more you need to do your part by making a one-time donation or signing up for a voluntary $5.00/month subscription. Two new subscribers signed up this week and one made a $50 donation. These are incredibly generous people who understand that FutureAngels.com can survive only if everyone chips in. Won’t you give it some thought?