B.J. Weed with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2005.
His was a name not easily forgotten.
Someone on the Angels fan message board recently asked me the whereabouts of B.J. Weed, a utility infielder in the Angels’ minor leagues in the mid-2000s.
Weed was released during his 2005 season with Rancho Cucamonga. He went on to play in independent ball through 2008, never playing above Advanced Class-A.
A quick Google search revealed that B.J. has capitalized on his unusual name.
Click here to check out BJWeed.com, a web site where he’s selling T-shirts that bear his unusual name.
On the home page, it states:
Who is BJ Weed?
You may be thinking to yourself, “Where did this name come from and is this a real name?” This name is actually real. After being abused and recognized for having such a standout name, I decided to start a clothing company based upon my name. I was born and raised in New York and have traveled ever since due to a minor league career in baseball. Since my career has ended, I have decided to travel down a different road and into the business world. So check out the various items and styles throughout the site and grab yourself a quality product with a unique design.
The site has T-shirts for both men and women.
It’s a living.
I spent five days earlier this month at the Angels’ fall instructional league, October 11-15. You’ll find photos from the first four days earlier in this blog.
Due to time and travel constraints, I was unable to post photos from the October 15 game, so some of those are below.
As mentioned on October 25, my computer crashed on October 23, and then my hosting service lost all the FutureAngels.com Video Gallery files. That’s been restored, so we can secure from Red Alert and start posting more photos and video from fall ball.
Fabio Martinez was the starting pitcher.
Pitching coach Trevor Wilson visits the mound in the first inning after a rough start by Martinez. Catcher Carlos Ramirez is to the right.
A throw to the plate is too late for Ramirez to block the Cubs’ base runner from scoring.
Abe Flores, the Director of Player Development, watches quietly from the far end of the Angels dugout.
Second baseman Wes Hatton snags a pop-up.
Ramirez directs the infield defense.
Andrew Heid leads off in the bottom of the first.
Matt Oye wasn’t scheduled to pitch until the fifth inning, but Martinez’s struggles forced him into the game in the second inning.
First baseman Kole Calhoun takes a pickoff throw from Oye.
Aaron Meade was the fourth Angels pitcher.
Tim Wallach managed the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2001.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on October 25 that Dodgers’ Triple-A manager Tim Wallach had been eliminated as a candidate to manage the Milwaukee Brewers.
Wallach began his managing career with the Angels. In 2001, he ran the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in their first season as an Angels affiliate. The Quakes finished 63-77 with a roster largely devoid of talent. Wallach was very frustrated with the players’ inability to grasp what he was teaching, although I think it was more that he couldn’t accept they didn’t have the talent to execute what he wanted.
I remember Wallach being tossed from a game, then sitting up the runway in a folding chair. The camera well is at the bottom of the runway where it connects to the dugout. I was in the well shooting photography; Wallach would call down to me when he wanted to relay a message to the bench.
On another occasion, Wallach made a pitching change and while the pitcher warmed up the umpire approached Tim and gestured in my direction. Whatever it was, it was quite the animated discussion. What had I done?! Tim approached me and said:
“The umpire wants to know if you’ll take pictures of him.”
Only in the minors …
Doug Sisson, another former Angels minor league manager, recently landed the first base coaching job with the Kansas City Royals. He managed the Arkansas Travelers in 2002, finishing with a 51-89 record. That would have been largely the talent pool Wallach had in 2001.
Former Yankee Bobby Meacham managed the Quakes in 2002-2004. He began a major league coaching career in 2006, when he was the third base coach for the Florida Marlins. He was the Padres’ first base coach in 2007, then the Yankees’ third base coach in 2008. This year, he was the first base coach for the Astros.
And although he never coached in our system, the Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo played in the Angels’ minors from 1982 through 1984. (The 1984 Redwood Pioneers were Tom Kotchman’s first Angels team.) Rizzo just added the title Vice-President of Baseball Operations to his business card, giving him the authority to report directly to ownership.
Happy Birthday, John Lackey.
It’s easy to remember because we share the same date, October 23. (Different years, of course.)
Lackey made a World Series start against the Giants on his birthday back in 2002.
I dread the approach of my birthday. Not because of age. It’s because of the Curse.
Things inevitably go bad — disastrously bad — around my birthday.
As a child, I broke a collarbone playing schoolyard football.
In my young adulthood, I was dumped by a girlfriend on my birthday.
Four years ago, I was given a layoff notice on my 50th birthday.
Two years ago, I lost my next job on my 52nd birthday.
What was it this year?
For openers, my two-year old piece-of-$#@! HP computer died. It had been crashing a lot in recent weeks. I tried every trick I know to nurse it back to health. But it finally gave up on October 23. Figures.
So off we went to Best Buy to purchase a new PC — an Asus CG1330-07, for those who are curious.
In Southern California, Best Buys were almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks or In ‘N Outs. Here in the Space Coast region of Florida, though, the only Best Buy is in Melbourne, 40 miles from home here in north Merritt Island.
So my birthday weekend was spent restoring my cyber world.
But the Curse wasn’t done.
My hosting service’s media server wouldn’t allow me to upload video files. I called yesterday and was told by the agent just to disable my account and then enable it again.
“Will that delete all my files?” I asked.
“No, they’ll be fine,” he said.
Well, you can guess the result.
Not only did his suggestion fail to solve the problem, but eight years of media files went poof.
I called back and spoke to a supervisor, who assured me the files would be restored in less than an hour. Sixteen hours later, they’re still missing in action. I called this morning and was told, “They’re working on a problem with our media server.” But they assured me they can see the backups of my media files, so they’ll be restored when they fix their little problem.
Those of you who are long-time readers of this blog know my wife and I moved here in June 2009, near Kennedy Space Center. I started another blog called SpaceKSC.com that covers history and current events at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), the neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), and other space geek stuff.
I’ve filmed a number of launches in the sixteen months we’ve been here, and consolidated those links into one post on that blog. Click here to see the list of space launch video links. These are on a different media server, so they actually work.
I recently volunteered for docent training at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Museum at CCAFS. This museum is to the space program what Kitty Hawk is to air flight. It was at this location that the United States launched its earliest satellite and manned missions.
You do this sort of thing when you’re separated from Angels baseball by 2,500 miles.
Angels with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. Left to right: trainer Brian Reinker, outfielder Jeremy Moore, pitcher Eddie McKiernan, shortstop Andrew Romine, pitcher Ryan Brasier, pitcher Robert Fish, pitcher Steven Geltz, and infielder Brandon Wood. Photo courtesy Cheryl Perdew.
While I was covering the Angels’ fall instructional league, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes booster club member Cheryl Perdew was at the Arizona Fall League covering the Angels assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox.
Below are more photos courtesy of Cheryl.
Pitcher Ryan Brasier.
Pitcher Robert Fish.
Pitcher Steven Geltz.
Shortstop Andrew Romine.
Infielder Brandon Wood.
This will have to be a quick entry as I have an early flight.
Al Michaels famously posed the question, “Do you believe in miracles?”
It doesn’t quite rank with the U.S. Olympic hockey team beating the Soviet Union in 1980, but as things go today’s six-run rally by the Angels in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Cubs 9-8 was a rather significant achievement.
The Angels’ starting lineup:
1. Andrew Heid RF
2. P.J. Phillips DH
3. Travis Witherspoon CF
4. Gabe Jacobo LF
5. Jean Segura SS
6. Kole Calhoun 1B
7. Jeremy Cruz 3B
8. Carlos Ramirez C
9. Wes Hatton 2B
P. Fabio Martinez
Martinez was followed by Matt Oye, Loek Van Mil, Aaron Meade and Kevin Johnson.
There was little reason to believe the Angels would win. Martinez gave up three runs in the first, and going into the bottom of the 7th the Angels were down 8-2. They scratched out a run to cut the deficit to five runs, but going into the bottom of the 9th it seemed that this meaningless instructional league game would quickly end.
And then … a miracle happened.
Click here to watch the 9th inning rally. Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection required.
As you watch, here are the players and what happened in sequence:
1. Travis Witherspoon leads off with a triple.
2. Gabe Jacobo (who homered earlier in the game) reaches on an infield single. Witherspoon holds at 3rd.
3. Wendell Soto singles. Witherspoon scores. Jacobo advances to 3rd. Soto advances to 2nd on the throw.
4. Eric Oliver singles. Jacobo scores. Soto advances to 3rd. Oliver advances to 2nd and Soto scores on a wild throw.
5. Kaleb Cowart singles. Oliver advances to 2nd.
6. Roberto Lopez doubles. Oliver and Cowart score.
7. Wes Hatton singles. Lopez advances to 3rd.
8. Andrew Heid lines out to right. Lopez scores.
Let’s not overlook the second-inning homer by Gabe Jacobo. Click here to watch.
I head home in the morning with lots of photos and video to process. I got some photos of everyone who played in the last five games, and video of every pitcher. It will take a while to get it all online, so monitor the FutureAngels.com home page for updates.
Kaleb Cowart, the Angels’ first pick in the June 2010 draft, legs out a double in today’s game against the Chicago Cubs.
It may have been the most pressure-packed at-bat of Taylor Lindsey’s young career, but you’ll never find it in a box score.
Taylor was part of a group taking batting practice this morning at Tempe Diablo. Tom Gregorio, the roving catching instructor, was throwing BP. Tom told Taylor that if he hit a home run, he could have an extra round of hitting.
Taylor pulled a pitch down the right-field line, where it cleared the fence at 367 feet just fair of the foul pole.
And he got his extra at-bat.
With a road game at the Chicago Cubs’ complex in Mesa, and only three games left on the instructional league schedule, there’s a sense the end is near. Some players will remain in Phoenix during the winter, while the rest will scatter about the globe. Latin players will return to the Dominican Republic or Venezuela, where they may play winter ball and make some more money.
The Cubs’ parent club plays at Hohokam Stadium up the road, but the minor league complex is at Fitch Park. The Cubs have threatened to leave town if they don’t get a new stadium and complex, so the City of Mesa has Proposition 420 on the ballot. The supporters have the KeepTheCubs.com web site, while opponents have the VoteNo420.com web site.
The Fitch Park field is “intimate.” I doubt it’s more than 20 feet from home plate to the backstop. There’s very little foul territory. It’s 350 feet down the foul lines, and 400 feet to center. That might seem rather ample, but in Phoenix the ball travels far due to the heat and low humidity. At Tempe Diablo’s minor league field, it’s 367 feet down the lines and 420 feet to center.
The Angels’ starting lineup:
1. Andrew Heid CF
2. P.J. Phillips DH
3. Travis Witherspoon RF
4. Eric Oliver 1B
5. Kaleb Cowart 3B
6. Jose Jimenez C
7. Roberto Lopez LF
8. Wes Hatton 2B
9. Wendell Soto SS
P. Justin La Tempa
La Tempa was followed by Orangel Arenas, Tyler Kehrer and Johnny Hellweg.
Rules in the instructional league are informal, so many teams employ ten-man lineups with two designated hitters. All four teams we’ve faced while I’ve been here have used 10-man lineups, but the Angels have gone with the conventional nine-man lineup.
The Angels did take a little dramatic license in today’s game. P.J. Phillips, who missed 2010 due to shoulder surgery, was in the lineup as designated hitter. When P.J. reached base, he was replaced by a designated runner, but remained the DH throughout the game.
The lead went back and forth, and in the end the Cubs won 8-7.
Tomorrow the Cubs visit Tempe Diablo.
Below are photos from today’s game.
Justin La Tempa was the Angels’ starting pitcher.
Travis Witherspoon makes a throw from right field.
Wendell Soto turns a double play …
… and steals second base.
Eric Oliver, who lives in Irvine, records an out at first.
Orangel Arenas was the Angels’ second pitcher.
Tyler Kehrer was the Angels’ third pitcher.
Johnny Hellweg was the Angels’ fourth pitcher.