Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Calm Before the Storm

Soon we will know the rosters, meet the team and listen to the first road games of the year on the radio - nobody makes the trip to Jackson Tennessee.

Till then we have just a few items for perusal...

Kevin Kiermaier is the subject of this years beer cup!
photo by Casey Ivy, good scouting!

Biscuits fans may be surprised to learn that the team will not play on Memorial Day - its an off day. This is the first time in the Biscuit era that Montgomery has not played either at home or on the road for the holiday.

You now have to be a full-season season ticketholder to get a free ticket to Biscuits road games. 35 game season ticketholders are left out of the deal this year.

The Southern League is not the only league with teams shuffling - the double-A San Antonio Missions are expected to announce they will be stepping up to triple-A soon.

That is going to leave a gap in the Texas League, as it isn't a good idea to have odd numbered teams. Perhaps we will see a big reorganization in MiLB now that multiple cities have had growth spurts.

Just a few notable events around this week for Montgomery baseball fans. Okay, more than a few!

MARCH 31 1904
Boston NL plays an exhibition game at MGM

MARCH 31 1910
Montgomery has first of two exhibition games vs Cleveland Indians

MARCH 31 1942

Montgomery vs Yankees in exhibition game, Yankees win 14-4

APRIL 1st 1904
The Boston Red Sox play an exhibition game vs Montgomery, defeating Montgomery 2-1

APRIL 1st 1910
Montgomery plays the second of two exhibition games vs Cleveland Indians

April 1st 1942
Ben Goltsman confirms Paul Armstrong refused assignment to Dallas, will return to play in MGM. Armstrong led the team in batting last year.

April 1st 1955 Braves vs Dodgers at Montgomery

APRIL 1st 1977
The Rebels are sold by Paul Fyffe to a Paintsville Ky radio station owner. The Rebels have won four of the last five SL pennants.

April 2nd 1939
Cardinals beat Montgomery 11-5 in exhibition game at MGM, HOF'er Johnny Mize homers

APRIL 2nd 1941
Cinci shuts out Boston Red Sox in MGM exhibition game

APRIL 2nd 1948
Dodgers defeat hometown Rebels 10-2. Al Gianfroddo homers as Ralph Branca allows 8 hits to the Rebels.
 Montgomery Pitchers Wendell Davis and Joe Demoran allow 14 hits. Both teams commit a pair of errors, the Dodgers starting nine go the distance with no substitutions in the exhibition game.

APRIL 2nd 1954
RedSox beat Phillies 8-0 in MGM exhibition game, Parnell over Simmons

APRIL 2 1955
Pirates vs Orioles at Montgomery - exhibition baseball in the spring was a common occurrence through most of the 20th century.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Biscuit Notes, Nets, Cuba, History

There have been a few preseason moves, most of the players that will suit up for Montgomery have been sent to minor league camp, but its not like the Rays to announce rosters early.

I stick by my predictions in January for the most part, also I expect more wins from the Skitz in '16 than last year. Not that last year wasn't pretty good, but this season could be just a little better!

Willy Adamas has been used sparingly in major league camp, 12 innings through March 20th. After a good year at Charlotte, Adamas is expected to be the starting shortstop for the Biscuits.

Brent Honeywell retweeted the link to an article on the Screwball pitch that discussed how nobody throws it anymore. He followed with a vine of him throwing his best fadeaway. Honeywell and his elite screwball should spend time in the 'Skits starting rotation this summer.

Taylor Guerrieri was assigned to the Biscuits roster, but that doesn't lock him in here. However I predicted that he was likely to start the year in Montgomery's rotation, free from the pitch counts that limited him after TJ surgery.

Two former Biscuits are spring training in Japan with the Hiroshima Carp - Bradin Hagens and Jason Pridie are in camp with the NPB Central league team. They seem pretty happy about it.
Hagens, left, and Jason Pridie are excited to play in Japan

The report from spring camp is that Montgomery will have "...a good crew coming your way this year."

That's from Durham Bulls hitting coach Ozzie Timmons, who described the Biscuits new 1B coach Dan Dement as down to earth, a "regular guy, with a lot of energy".

A nice scouting report on the players and the new coach. If Timmons likes 'em thats good enough for me.

Back on the schedule again this year is the Meet Your Biscuits event. An opportunity to get a first look at the players and coaches will happen on Tuesday April 5th.

Usually a chance to fans to catch up with each other as much as anything, the team will shake hands with the crowd after two days of workouts at Riverwalk. On Wednesday they will travel to Jackson Tn where they will open the season against the Generals.


I spoke with a well placed member of the Biscuits front office who assured me that there won't be any different netting unless the wording from the league changes.

"Its a recommendation, not a mandate" was the bottom line and Biscuit fans can breathe a sigh of buttery relief.

Fans in Montgomery, like everywhere, want safety but are less interested in having their views obscured. Teams could see a drop in demand for those seats, which are usually sold at premium prices compared to other areas.

The Jacksonville Suns new owners are looking into adding nets but have yet to decide.

Almost more interesting, in the article about Suns netting debate, its revealed that the nets are supplied by Fernandina Beach-based company Burbank Sports Nets. The Net company says it was inundated with work after the "recommendation" by baseball to increase net size.

A bummer bit of news in that the concept of wearing false-throwback uniforms for the Biscuits history night was shot down.

Themed jerseys are quite the item recently, last summers Back To The Future jersey brought fans from all over to the game to bid on the odd tops. It would have been a nice addition to the history-themed weekend!

Several former Biscuits are on the roster for the Rays exhibition against the Cuban National team, including Cuban ex-pat Dayron Varona. Its a great story, Varona is on the roster because Rays teammates basically demanded he be included.

Due to thawing international relations, Varona should be among the last of the Cuban defectors.

Varona is not the first Cuban Biscuit to meet a president. Former Skit 1B Leslie Anderson, also Cuban, got some hitting advice from Fidel Castro...

The Biscuit Bunch will have a new leader this year, an energetic and outgoing character who has been with the team in another capacity for the past season or two. I admit I failed to write his name down, but I am sure Skitz fans will have it memorized before long. My bad!

This day week in baseball history is a busy one for Montgomery, hosting exhibitions and facing major league clubs in spring contests that take place in the capitol city.

MARCH 23 1934 
Chattanooga vs Minn Millers in exhibition game at MGM

MARCH 23 1936 
Chicago Cubs vs Giants in Selma

 MARCH 24 1910 
Chicago Cubs vs Montgomery in Montgomery
 No box score/game notes found yet, I am on the hunt for this one!
1910 Montgomery Climbers

MARCH 24 1936 
Cubs vs Giants in Dothan
NY Slugger Mel Ott at the March 26th game in Dothan
Cubs vs Giants in Dothan, game photo

MARCH 24 1911 
Mgm defeats Philly NL in exhibition game, walkoff style.

Manning Smith hit walkoff double vs Phillies

MARCH 25th 1941 
Cincinnati Reds play in Montgomery
No box score/game notes yet!
1941 Cincinnati Reds

Monday, March 7, 2016

Marching In Against the Nets

Spring training has begun, so we get to start enjoying baseball again. And the things that go with it...

There isn't alot of Biscuits-related news, but we do have some things happening around the league worth noting. Most of them kinda stupid.

Teams are scrambling to protect fans who refuse to put down their cell phones and pay attention to the game they paid to see. In our league, Pensacola, Chattanooga, Birmingham already announced they plan to install excessive nettings behind the dugouts.
Pcola Net plan

When I quizzed the Biscuits office about Riverwalk getting more netting I was told there was "no information on that right now". It wont be long before we see all teams kowtow to the demands of the attention-deficient attendees.

Another mystery about the nets - why are they being installed BEHIND the dugouts? I have seen people hit and even injured by foul balls and stray bats flying into the dugouts as much or maybe more than what goes into the stands.

Luis Salazar
Wouldn't it stand to reason that if safety was the prime motivator, players would also gain from being sheltered behind the massive nets?

Put them in front of the dugouts if teams want to protect those who sit nearest the danger. If you doubt that, check out Luis Salazar when he gets to town. He lost an eye to a foul shot while standing in a dugout.

And should we just arbitrarily install nets without first doing a study to determine the places nets are actually needed the most? When the debate about bats breaking dangerously was an issue, every broken bat in MLB was taken and studied over the course of multiple seasons before any action could be taken.

In Japan they leave gloves on seats exposed to dangerous views for fans to use. Because fans there actually WATCH the games they attend.

Obviously, I am not a fan of more nets.
I am a fan of watching the game. If you don't want to watch the game you are at, simply sit where you have less chance of being hit and stop punishing those of us who do watch. 

With most MLB and MiLB games shown either on tv or online, there are plenty of ways to watch the game in the safety of your own home. If you do attend a game, bring a glove or at least pay attention, stop blaming baseball for not protecting your kids. You are ruining it for the rest of us.

The Wahoos have installed pink fair/foul poles, replacing the yellow ones.

Yeah, they didn't just re-paint the yellow ones, they bought new ones in pink.

MARCH 7 1905 NY Highlanders, later known as the Yankees, start spring training in Montgomery, Clarke Griffith and Hal Chase stir controversy when Chase jumps contract to join NY.