Tagged: Florida

Coast to Coast: Crawling Along

Ever since the Apollo days, any manned spacecraft being launched by NASA is assembled in the Vehicle Assembly Building and moved to its launch pad aboard the Crawler-Transporter.

Due to thunderstorms, the STS-128 rollout Tuesday was delayed two hours. The crawlerway was a morass of mud, so they had to go very slowly and clean its treads as they went along.

My NASA friend sent me the below photos of this unique event, which created photo opportunities that don’t normally happen.





Coast to Coast: Fear the Sea Cow

On the left, Martin Maldonado catching for the Orem Owlz in August 2005 at age 19. On the right, Martin catching today for the Brevard County Manatees in the Florida State League.


I worked my first photo shoot today for the Brevard County Manatees (Brewers affiliate). They were playing the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins affiliate). Both teams are in the Advanced-A Florida State League, the same level as the California League where Rancho Cucamonga plays.

“Fear the Sea Cow” is the Manatees’ slogan for 2009. Manatees are sometimes known as a sea cow. They are the most docile creatures you’ll meet, so I’m not sure what there is to fear, but I digress …

One aspect of minor league baseball I love is running across old friends.

The stats sheet for Jupiter showed Alfredo Amezaga, who was in the Angels system from 1999 through 2004. He’s now with the Marlins; he did a rehab stint in April with the Hammerheads, so he wasn’t here, but that would have been neat to see him again after all these years.

The Manatees catcher looked familiar. When his name was announced, “Martin Maldonado,” I realized he’d been in the Angels system from 2004 through 2006, then released. I didn’t have a chance to talk to him today but I’m sure we’ll sit down before the season is over and renew our acquaintance.

The starting pitcher for the Manatees was staff ace Evan Anundsen, who entered the game with a 1.85 ERA and a team-leading 87 1/3 innings. Selected in the fourth round of the June 2006 draft by the Brewers, his career ERA entering the season was an unremarkable 4.46. But this year, the 21-year old leads the league in ERA and is among its strikeout leaders.

Jupiter third baseman Matt Dominguez got ejected at the plate for arguing balls and strikes after striking out to end the first inning. For a 19-year old, that was a veteran move to get a day off when the weather is hot and it’s a day game after a night game. 🙂

The Hammerheads took the field and began to warm up for the bottom of the first but, before Logan Schafer led off, Manatees manager Mike Guerrero and Jupiter manager Tim Leiper began jawing at each other. The two umpires finally had to separate them after Guerrero left the third base coach’s box and confronted Leiper at the visitor dugout railing.

Now there’s something you don’t see every day.

The Manatees eventually won, 7-4, helped by five Jupiter errors. Anundsen gave up two runs in six innings, striking out nine and watching one. I need to bring my camcorder next time he pitches to tape him.

In addition to Maldonado’s photo above, here are some more photos from today’s game.

Manatees starting pitcher Evan Anundsen is one of the top starting pitchers in the Florida State League.


Manatees manager Mike Guerrero jaws with Hammerheads skipper Tim Leiper in the middle of the first inning. Apparently Leiper said something about one of the Manatees players and Guerrero took exception.


Manatees center fielder Logan Schafer doubles to lead off the bottom of the first.


Manatees left fielder Lee Haydel entangles with Jupiter shortstop Osvaldo Martinez after he doubled. An errant throw allowed Haydel to advance to third.


Coast to Coast: Space, the Final Frontier

There’s only a temporary home page, but my new site SpaceCoastBaseball.com is operational. Please feel free to take a look.

I’ve had meetings this week with several people regarding the site, including the Brevard County Manatees, the Brewers’ affiliate in the Florida State League. The Manatees are already in the playoffs, having won their division’s first half. I hope to use August to gear up for covering their post-season with photos and video, similar to what I do with FutureAngels.com.

I also met with the folks at the Cocoa Expo Sports Center, which was at one time the spring training complex for the Houston Astros and later the Florida Marlins. The stadium still has the Marlins’ teal color. The new Florida Winter Baseball League will play at Cocoa Expo later this year.

I’ve also talked briefly with the Gulf Coast League Nationals, D.C.’s version of our Tempe Angels, but need to follow up.

Coast to Coast: STS-127 Launch

Click Here to watch a video clip of today’s STS-127 Space Shuttle launch. Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection required.

After five aborts due to fuel leaks and bad weather, STS-127 finally launched this evening at 6:03 PM EDT.

(STS is NASA-speak for “Space Transportation System,” what the public knows as the Space Shuttle. The craft itself, e.g. Endeavour, is known as the orbiter although public often refers to it as the Shuttle.)

My wife and I found a nice spot to watch, recommended by a friend who works at NASA. It’s one of the few sites with a direct view of the launch pad, although this location is about ten miles away. In the video, you’ll notice that you don’t hear the roar of the launch until some time later, because sound travels about 1,100 feet per second. So that’s about five seconds per mile, and if we’re ten miles away … fifty seconds for the sound to reach us.

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled baseball blog …

Coast to Coast: Tea Time

Most minor league operations are wise enough not to mix baseball with politics, but the Brevard County Manatees made a big exception on the Fourth of July.

You might have heard in the news about the Tea Party movement, which began as anti-tax protests on April 15. I’ll bite my tongue and not comment on their cause, other than to say as someone who’s been active in local politics for decades that I don’t begrudge anyone who gets off their duff and becomes sincerely active in politics. Government is supposed to be a reflection of the majority’s will, and government tends to go awry when the people aren’t vigilant in assuring their elected officials are exacting their will.

Anyway, in the eleven years I’ve been doing FutureAngels.com, I can’t remember ever hearing of a minor league operation turning over its stadium on game day to a political movement.

Yet that’s what the Manatees did on Independence Day.

Click Here to read the Florida Today article about the Tea Party rally.

The paper published on July 12 a profile of the individual who organized the Tea Party. Click Here to read the July 12 article.

Comments posted on the paper’s web site and letters printed in the paper expressed a variety of opinions about the propriety of a baseball team turning over its operation to a political movement, with one person writing he’ll never attend another Manatees game.

Maybe the Manatees figured it was free publicity and it got people in the gate who might not otherwise come to a game.

All I gotta say is it left me scratching my head wondering why the Manatees would risk offending so many people. I don’t go to baseball for politics. I’d be offended even if it was my candidate or cause being promoted. Baseball is escapist entertainment. It just doesn’t seem like the proper venue to inject politics.

Coast to Coast: History in the Making

The 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is this month.

(For the uninformed, Apollo 11 was the first mission where humans walked on the Moon.)

Because Apollo 11 launched from here in Space Coast, a number of ceremonies and celebrations are planned. You may see some specials on television, but there’s on airing on the local PBS station WBCC that you probably won’t see elsewhere in the county.

Click Here to go to the Florida Today blog entry with an embedded copy of this 30-minute documentary. What makes it unique is that it’s about what was happening here in Space Coast at the time of the Apollo missions. There’s a lot of home footage, local TV footage, interviews with local workers, and other information you won’t get anywhere else.

The next Space Shuttle mission, STS-127, is scheduled for launch this Saturday at 7:39 PM EDT. If they go, I’ll be out there with my camcorder to videotape it and place it online. STS-127 will launch from the same pad as Apollo 11.

Coast to Coast: GOES for Launch

Click Here to watch the video of today’s launch. You need Windows Media Player and broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet access.

NASA launched a GOES satellite this evening from
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

GOES (Geostationary Operational Environment Satellite)
takes the pictures of clouds used by the National Weather Service to watch out for severe storms, hurricanes in particular, which is why Floridians have enlightened self-interest in seeing this rocket launch.

Launch was scheduled for 6:14 PM EDT but, as you’ll see in the video, a nasty storm passed nearby, delaying launch until 6:51 PM EDT. The storm created first one and then two rainbows, which you’ll see in the video. You’ll also see the beach outside our condo, which is usually fairly empty despite its location — beaches are so common out here there’s nothing particular unusual about this one.

Also look in the video for the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse. It was built in 1868, 100 years before Apollo headed for the Moon.

The next Space Shuttle launch is scheduled for July 11, when they’ll try once again to launch STS-127.

On a personal note, I had a job interview yesterday with a Kennedy Space Center contractor for a budget analyst job. With the economy the way it is, I’m sure demand for jobs vastly exceeds supply, so I’m not optimistic, but it was neat to go on base for the first time without being part of a tour.

This ‘N That

Mark Trumbo
Mark Trumbo may be emerging from a season-long funk. He’s batting .385 in his last thirteen games.


I went over to Space Coast Stadium last night to watch the Brevard County Manatees host the Dunedin Blue Jays. The Manatees won the Florida State League’s North Division first half title with a 40-24 record, but got blown out last night 12-1.

I couldn’t help but think of Orem Owlz manager Tom Kotchman after a play in the top of the first. Dunedin leadoff batter Sean Shoffit tripled. The next batter, Raul Barron, grounded to third. No way Shoffit should have scored, but Manatees third baseman Zelous Wheeler fielded the ball and threw to first without first checking Shoffit. This is the time of year that Kotch is teaching his new recruits in Orem the proper way to play pro ball, and a mental mistake like that would have Kotch coming out of his cleats.

Brevard is a much more modest operation than their Angels counterpart in Rancho Cucamonga. I walked up with my ticket to the gate, and handed it to the ticket taker. I’d called last week to establish diplomatic relations with the GM, and said I’d find him when I got to the game. So I asked the young man, “Where can I find Kyle?”

“I’m Kyle,” he replied

“GM Kyle?”


Meanwhile, in the Angels world …

Trevor Reckling was named today to the U.S. roster for the Futures Game July 12 in St. Louis, but as I wrote on June 19 he’s been suffering lately from wildness. In his last four starts, he’s walked 21 batters in 23 1/3 innings (19 strikeouts). Hopefully it’s just a mechanical issue, but it bears watching.

In my June 22 article looking at the 2008 FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects, I mentioned signs of Mark Trumbo coming out of his slump. That trend has continued. In his last 13 games, he’s 20 for 52 with seven doubles and a triple. His AVG/OBP/SLG are .385/.396/.558. Keep going, Mark.

Coast to Coast: Launches

I’ve posted a video I filmed of Thursday’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launch. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection to watch. Click Here to watch the video. It’s filmed from the pier at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral.

Until we buy a home (now targeted for the end of July), we’re living in a condo rental on the Cape Canaveral beach just south of Port Canaveral, where the cruise lines sail in and out. In the video, you’ll see one of the Disney cruise ships depart. You’ll also see the long beach south of Jetty Park where I go running. The view north of the pier is obscured by a berm, so you can’t see the launch pad, but you do see the rocket right after it launches.

The launch was delayed by an attempt to launch the Space Shuttle earlier in the week, and then by a nearby lightning storm. The rocket was cleared to launch at 5:32 PM EDT. The clouds, unfortunately, swallowed the rocket about ten seconds after launch, although you do eventually hear the roar of the engines on the video.

A Delta IV rocket launch is scheduled for Friday this week just before sundown. I’m going to try another location to see if I can get a better angle. If the launch were mid-day, I could take the Kennedy Space Center tour bus to an observation tower that overlooks both the Shuttle pads and the Delta pads at the Air Force station. With an annual pass, I can take the bus any time I want during operating hours.

I’d say “Too cool,” except it’s in the mid-90s here and the humidity makes it feel like mid-100s. We need thunderstorms to burn off the humidity and lower the heat, but none are forecast for today.

Coast to Coast: Houston, We Have a Problem

I’d planned to videotape for you this morning’s launch of STS-127, but a hydrogen leak scrubbed the launch.

The earliest they could launch is Wednesday, but that would conflict with the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter launch scheduled for 3:51 PM EDT that afternoon.

Whatever launches that day, if anything, I’ll try to get video from nearby and post it online.