Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Marching Through March

Greetings. We are 23 days from Opening Day. Hard to believe. It’s exciting to think about, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Both the front office and maintenance crews have been working extremely hard to get everything in order.

So What’s New?

Probably the biggest noticeable difference at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark are the new exterior signs. We recently installed some beautiful, high-tech LED signs proudly affixing the stadium’s name.  Take a look:

Ticket Window

Mantle Gate

Bench GateI would say my favorite though is the stadium name placed atop the LED board in left field. Unfortunately the electrical circuits aren’t fully installed yet, so it can’t light up, but it will in the near future.

LED Board

There will also be a lot of new interior signage with cleaner looks and clearer direction of where things are. The sound system is also getting a big upgrade, and crews have been installing new speakers all around the seats and concourse.

Another big project–although not sexy, but necessary–has been replacing the stairs to the upper levels of the stadium. I think it’s things like that most people don’t realize goes into maintaining a facility like this.

Stairway to heaven...aka the press box

Stairway to heaven…aka the press box

Other new highlights include some new food options, but we’ll dig into that in the next post.

Anthem Auditions

On Saturday, March 2, around 200 local performers attended the 2013 The Oklahoman/Oklahoma City RedHawks National Anthem Tryouts at Penn Square Mall. The turnout was awesome, and the performances were great.

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Ruby Anthem

Ruby gives it her best shot

Clyde The Slide

Not to be confused with Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, it’s Clyde “The Slide”

With so many talented people, you can count on hearing a great rendition of the National Anthem every night throughout the season. The grand prize winner, who will perform on Opening Night, will be announced in the near future.

Baseball’s Back in Bricktown

The first baseball games of 2013 were held at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark this past weekend as part of the of the Majestic Roofing High School Baseball Series. This year’s schedule features a record-number 28 games throughout March and early April. Click here for a full schedule. The best part is all games are free to attend! Select games will also be broadcast through 1340thegame.com and on the IHeartRadio mobile app by yours truly, including Thursday’s contest between Yukon and Putnam City North at 7 p.m.

Calument and Destiny Christian duke it out during the Majestic Roofing High School Baseball Series

Calumet and Destiny Christian duke it out during the Majestic Roofing High School Baseball Series

I recently had a chance to appear on the “Mayor’s Magazine” with Mayor Mick Cornett to discuss the high school baseball games as well the upcoming RedHawks season. My segment begins at 10:15. Warning: I say “as well” a lot.

So Who’s Gonna Play Here?

This is a question I get asked fairly frequently. It’s hard to answer that in any given year, but it’s especially tough this year since so many spots are open for competition with the Astros. I also don’t like to speculate publicly because I am not a decision-maker and can’t say anything definitively. As is the case during the season, you can easily drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what those in charge will ultimately do. When more guys in big league camp are assigned to minor league camp, we’ll start to have a better idea.

I’ll say the same thing here I’ve said to those who have asked what I think the team will be like: I truly believe there will be a very talented team here in OKC, but I also believe it’s going to be a young team for a Triple-A squad. Without getting into specifics, I was thinking about the pitching staff that will probably be assigned here to start the season, and it has me downright giddy.

Strength In Numbers

I ended my last post by jokingly saying only three people read this blog. I had a few people contact me to say they must be the “fourth” reader. So now I can present this:

"Four! Four people read this blog! Ha ha ha!"

“Four! Four people read this blog! Ha ha ha!”

Thanks for reading.

 

A Multitude of Miscellany

It’s been awhile, so there’s a lot to cover. Hope you don’t give it the TL;DR treatment!

Rites of Spring

Astros Spring Training has been underway a little over a week in Kissimmee, Fla.  Both Brian McTaggart of mlb.com and Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle have been doing a marvelous job covering all the storylines and churning out tons of new content every day.  When it gets closer to the season, we can start playing the guessing game of who will be coming to Oklahoma City as well as previewing potential players.  For now, here are some links to all things Astros and some other interesting posts I’ve recently stumbled upon:

The person I’ve enjoyed reading about the most is new manager Bo Porter.  His enthusiasm and approach is refreshing, and he is doing everything he can to create a winning atmosphere.  My favorite is how he is having the team shake hands on the mound just like they would after a win, except they’re doing it after every workout.  The complex has also been plastered with signs that encompass the team’s core values, such as “The Process”, “27 Outs. No More.”, and “W.I.N.” (What’s Important Now). From what I’ve seen, it’s almost like Astros staff has created a college-like envirornment, which makes sense due to the youth and inexperience of the team.

I’m a big college basketball fan, and I had a bit of an ah-ha moment about a week ago. While watching an Indiana game, I realized the similarities between Bo Porter and Indiana coach Tom Crean are astonishing.  Both were charged with leading extreme rebuilding projects.  Both have unbridled enthusiasm. Both knew it was really going to be about a process and success would not take place quickly.  Hopefully, like Indiana, Bo and the Astros will have a ton of success a few years down the road.

Back in Oklahoma City…

I just counted, and as of this posting, we’re 43 days away from Opening Day. As you might imagine, things are pretty busy and will only continue at a breakneck pace as we move closer to April 4.  Lots of changes are happening in and around the ballpark, and we’ll take a closer look at all those in a future post.

A big part of the RedHawks success is a strong gameday staff. Last weekend, the RedHawks hosted a job fair in order to hire some eager folks looking to fill customer service or food and beverage positions.

Members of the food and beverage staff grill job applicants. (Haha...get it???)

Members of the food and beverage staff grill potential employees (Haha…get it???)

Even though the job fair was a success, it’s not too late to apply if you’re still interested in working for the RedHawks.  There will be one more job fair session this Saturday, February 24 from 2-4 p.m. Click here for all the details.

Speaking of new hires…

I am pleased to announce the addition of Lisa Johnson to the RedHawks media department. Lisa will be instrumental in helping me in all facets, save for the game broadcasts.

I was very fortunate to be able to find someone with Lisa’s experience and enthusiasm. She is a Des Moines native who grew up going to Iowa Cubs games and would even cover the team from time to time for the Des Moines Register. The last couple of years she served as a Sports Information Director at Wichita State University, working with the men’s basketball, track, and cross country teams all while earning her master’s degree.

Quite frankly, though, all you need to know is that she is an alumnus of the University of Iowa and is a Big Ten product like yours truly. It goes without saying we are proud to hail from a conference that produces the best and brightest like none other.

Lisa Johnson is a Hawkeye and a Shocker. Dare I say...a Shockeye?

Lisa Johnson is a Hawkeye and a Shocker. Dare I say…a Shockeye?

The Phil Nevin Story

Fie on your smooth segues. It’s story time.

Last week I read a press release about all the managers in the International League. Unbeknownst to me, Phil Nevin is the manager of the Toledo Mud Hens and has held that post the last couple of years. Nevin had a successful, 12-year Major League career. His name was bandied about quite a bit last summer when the Astros had the first overall pick in the draft.  The last time they had that distinction was in 1992, and they used the pick on a Golden Spikes Award winner from Cal State-Fullerton….Phil Nevin.

My only interaction with Nevin is a bit of an amusing one, and it happened way back in 2002. I was in high school and working as a bus boy at an upscale restaurant co-owned by Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith. As a result, Cardinals players from the past and present would occasionally come in.

Shortly after Darryl Kile tragically passed away that summer, players from all over the country descended upon St. Louis for his memorial service. Around that time, a group of players and their families came in for dinner, and Nevin and his wife were part of the group.

One of my duties as a busser was to go around with a basket of fancy artisan breads and offer them to guests.  I get to Nevin and tell him the options, and before I can serve him, he reaches in with his bare hands and grabs a few different kinds. His wife did a facepalm and apologized, but I thought the whole thing was hilarious. I mean, it’s not every day a big leaguer infiltrates your bread basket!

What A Difference A Year Makes

The purpose of this blog is to give an inside look at the RedHawks, with a bit of a personal touch. However, I try not to make it about me. After receiving a particular email last week, I can’t but help share a story that made me reflect on how things have changed over the past year.

For those of you who don’t know, I spent 2007-2010 with the High Desert Mavericks, the High-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. After the 2010 season was over, new ownership came in and decided that it wasn’t worthwhile to employ a broadcaster anymore. Honestly, I was fine with that. I had come close to landing some jobs at a higher level and was ready to move on.

It quickly became an example of “be careful what you wish for.” After barely finding any open jobs in line with my experience, I was out of baseball during the 2011 season. I moved back to St. Louis and worked a couple of different communications jobs. My search mostly focused on college sports, and although I had some good interviews, no offers materialized.

At that point I felt like my career might be on life support. Anyone in the broadcasting industry will tell you the longer you don’t have a regular on-air job, the harder it will be to get back in. It can be done, but it’s awfully tough.

Last February I heard about a contest the Cardinals’ flagship radio station was hosting. The winner would have a chance to go down to spring training for a week and act as a corespondent for the radio station.  I figured not only would I have a chance to get back on the air, but I could do some networking as well.

I breezed through the audition and was selected as one of 10 finalists. The only problem was the winner would not be selected on skill, but by popular vote. Although I knew I was the most skilled–not to brag, but it’s the truth–I had to troll for votes anyway I could for two weeks straight. A lot of people positively responded and did everything they could to help, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

Literally an hour or so after I found out I didn’t win, a funny thing happened: I got a call out of the blue from the RedHawks. Apparently my name had been passed along by someone who interviewed me for another position with a Double-A team. A few phone conversations later I had a job offer and was on my way to becoming a Triple-A broadcaster.

Someone recently told me KMOX is hosting the contest again this year, and that’s why it got me thinking. After over a year of not being able to catch a break, I caught a big one, and it came out of nowhere. I know it’s hard to have perspective when things aren’t going your way, but it goes to show you just never know when your life will change. A year ago I was living with my parents and pondering a complete career change. Now I get to share this story with you. (All three of you who read this.)

Sorry to get all personal there. Thanks for reading.

Capping the Caravan

Greetings on this (finally) rainy morning in Oklahoma City.

Last Friday the 2013 Astros CAREavan made a stop in OKC. The attendees were pitcher Jordan Lyles, outfielder Justin Maxwell, pitcher Bud Norris, Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, and Astros legend Larry Dierker.

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RedHawks President & General Manager Michael Byrnes makes some opening remarks at the CAREavan luncheon

The day started at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark with a VIP luncheon for sponsors, season ticket holders, and suite holders.  The program was primarily led by Milo, who’s been doing these things longer than most people have been alive.  He would do Q&A’s with each player and share some great anecdotes along the way. (Shout out to PSC for the awesome food!)

After that it was off to Will Rogers Elementary School in Edmond, a visit that was helped made possible by Mercy and the Cooper’s Healthy Hawks program. The theme was education and healthy habits. Among other things, we got to learn that Justin Maxwell turned down a chance to go to Harvard in order to play baseball at the University of Maryland.  After the kids asked some questions, the players gave them some baseball tips.

The CAREavan panel on stage at Will Rogers Elementary

The CAREavan panel on stage at Will Rogers Elementary

Unfortunately, I was not around much for this part of the stop.  Instead, I was trying to find a way we could set up a Skype interview for Bud Norris to appear on the MLB Network show “Intentional Talk.” There were some technology issues at Will Rogers preventing it from happening there.  However, Will Rogers is located across from Oklahoma Christian Academy, which was kind enough to open its doors and accommodate us.  We got everything squared away with about five minutes to spare.

Bud Norris chats with Chris Rose and Kevin Millar on "Intentional Talk"

Bud Norris chats with Chris Rose and Kevin Millar on “Intentional Talk”

As soon as the interview was over, we had to book it to the next stop.  My sources informed me it was at this point I made an unintentional appearance on “Intentional Talk.” As soon as Bud got out of the chair, I sat down to disconnect and shut everything down so we could get moving.  Apparently the camera was still live at this point, and when my ugly mug came onto the screen, it made for some TV hijinks. After a lot of hard work, I have obtained the video of the interview and the interesting ending:

Next up was the YMCA. Although the point of this visit was to conduct a baseball clinic, the players were eager to show off their basketball skills as well. The kids tried to convince Justin Maxwell to dunk, but he didn’t want to run the risk of injury.  (He also told them he couldn’t because he was wearing jeans.  He finally relented right before we left and threw one down.)

Justin Maxwell fadeaway

Justin Maxwell fadeaway

There were three stations set up, focusing on hitting, throwing, and running the bases.

Jordan Lyles shows kids how to bunt. Something he won't really have to do anymore with the Astros move to the AL.

Jordan Lyles shows kids how to bunt, something he won’t really have to do anymore with the Astros moving to the AL

Bud Norris thankfully dials it back a bit while playing catch

Bud Norris thankfully dials it back a bit while playing catch

It was during this clinic I really gained an appreciation for the enthusiasm and zeal the players showed throughout the day.  These guys were going through the same packed schedule less than 24 hours prior in Corpus Christi before arriving in OKC late at night.  Here they were, though, still going strong at 5 p.m. It’s no wonder they’re able to plug through a 162-game season. And to top it off, you could tell they truly wanted to be there.  Big thanks to the Astros for setting us up with such a great group.

After the kids got some autographs, it was time to head to Academy Sports + Oudoors.  We battled some brutal Friday rush hour traffic to get there, but we eventually made it, where a lot of eager fans were awaiting our arrival.

Members of the CAREavan do a meet and greet at Academy Sports + Outdoors

Members of the CAREavan do a meet and greet at Academy Sports + Outdoors

I was told by one of the staff members at Academy that a couple weeks before they had hosted a similar autograph session with a couple of players from the Rangers.  The turnout for the Astros was much, much larger.  Boom.

The day had finally come to an end. The Astros contingent headed to the airport and traveled back to Houston, where they would cap off a hectic week with Astros Fan Fest the next day.

This day would have not been possible were it not for several people.  First, a big thanks to the Astros community relations and media relations departments for their assistance and making Oklahoma City a regular stop on the CAREavan.  Even though OKC is their Triple-A home, by no means are they obligated to come here.

Again a huge thanks to the staffs at Will Rogers Elementary and Oklahoma Christian Academy for jumping through some hoops to help us get the aforementioned interview up and running.  In the media realm of minor league baseball, every day is an adventure and you end up having to do a lot of things on the fly, but they usually can’t happen without the help of others.

And finally, many, many thanks goes to our own Chelsi Fitzgerald who coordinated the whole shebang from start to finish.  Although this event required a lot of work on my part, it was nothing compared to what Chelsi did.  Great job, Chelsi. Now quit slacking and get me that website graphic I need!

On Deck

As a little teaser, the next post will discuss minding your manners as well as some reflection on how much can change in a year.

Thanks for reading.

The Spahn Awards, Caravan’s a Comin’…And Too Many Alex’s

Happy Friday, everyone. Lots to get to in this post, so let’s dive right in.

Spahn Awards

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the annual Warren Spahn Awards, organized by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and the Bricktown Rotary.  The main award honors the top left-handed pitcher in baseball, and this year’s winner was Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals.  The ceremony was held at the beautiful Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thorpe Museum, just a bit north of the state capitol building.

Members of the RedHawks front office at the Warren Spahn Awards

Members of the RedHawks front office at the Warren Spahn Awards

In addition to the main awards, there were a few others handed out.  Ten high school baseball and softball players from across the state received a Ferguson Jenkins Award for outstanding performance on the field and in the classroom.

The Bill Teegins Excellence in Sportscasting Award was presented to University of Oklahoma football radio analyst Merv Johnson.  “Coach Merv” has been a staple of the OU program since he came to Norman in 1979 as an assistant coach, and he has been part of an astonishing 400-plus consecutive Sooners games.  He’s been in the booth for several years, endearing himself to Sooner fans every Saturday in the fall.  I had a chance to listen to him a bit this past season, and trust me when I say there’s no question as to where Coach Merv’s allegiances lie.

Of course the main reason for the event is for the award named after one of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all time.  (For those of you who don’t know, Warren Spahn was from Oklahoma. And, oh yeah, there’s a statue of him outside of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.) Gio Gonzalez had an outstanding year and was a big reason why the Nationals had the best record in baseball.

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Gio Gonzalez accepts the 2012 Warren Spahn Award

We got to learn a lot about Gonzalez as well as his parents, who are apparently the life of the party wherever they go.  His acceptance speech was succinct, but very thoughtful.   He talked about the days when there was only one Cy Young Award (before one each for the AL and NL), and how he considered receiving the Spahn Award to be on a similar level.  Gonzalez also became understandably emotional when asked about his parents and the influence they have had on him.  He explained how his parents worked multiple jobs and made tons of sacrifices in order to support his dream.  That’s why he makes sure they are at each and every one of his starts, no matter if it’s at home or on the road. At the beginning of the program, a member of the Bricktown Rotary said we would really enjoy having Gio with us, and he sure was right.

The highlight for me, though, came after the ceremony when I got to meet the emcee of the evening, Bob Carpenter.  Bob has been a Major League broadcaster for over 20 years, including a long stint with the Cardinals when I was growing up.  Even though he’s been with the Nationals since 2006, lots of people in St. Louis are still sad he is no longer with the Birds.

Although I enjoy what I do, I don’t consider myself a broadcasting “fanboy.” I like learning about a my colleagues, but I don’t know every little thing about every broadcaster out there.  I frequently get asked who I enjoy listening to, or who are my influences.  I start by answering that I tend to not let others influence my style, because you run a risk of not being yourself.  But the people I enjoy most are the guys who clearly do their homework, do their thing, and know what they’re doing. And the two examples I always give are Dan Shulman of ESPN and Bob Carpenter.

(For the record, I wanted to use Bob’s call of Fernando Tatis hitting two grand slams in one inning against the Dodgers in 1999, but the only video I could find had Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Shannon accompanying it. Tatis–an 89er for two games in 1996–still is the only person in Major League history to accomplish that feat.)

Simply put, Bob Carpenter is a pro’s pro.  I mean, he even designed the scorebook that has become the industry standard among broadcasters. We had a chance to chat for a bit, and it was great.  It made me become an even bigger fan of his.

Bob Carpenter and some ignoramus

Bob Carpenter and some ignoramus

There is a story behind this picture I would like to share: It was taken by one of our great sponsor services coordinators, Caitiln Kinser.  She stood aside patiently and politely while Bob and I talked shop, which I’m sure she had absolutely no interest in.  After I was done with Bob, Caitlin wanted to get a picture with Gio Gonzalez.  So we find where he’s at, and just as Caitlin is about to step up, some lady behind us swoops in and asks to get her picture taken.  At that point, Gio’s handlers said it would be the absolute final picture he was going to take.  The worst part? The lady asked Caitlin to take the picture, to which Caitlin’s credit, she happily obliged.  Never change, CK. We’ll get ’em next time.

Astros Caravan Coming Up

For the third straight year, the Astros CAREavan will stop in Oklahoma City on January 25.  Joining us this year will be pitchers Jordan Lyles and Bud Norris, outfielder Justin Maxwell, Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, and Astros icon Larry Dierker. It’s a great group and sure to be a wonderful day.  The crew will make a couple of stops within the community before a public autograph session at Academy Sports + Outdoors. You can read about the whole agenda here. Hope to see you next Friday!

Non-Roster Invitees Announced

Yesterday the Astros announced this year’s non-roster invitees to spring training. These are players who are not on the 40-man roster that will be with the big league club during spring training. A lot of these guys at some point will get reassigned to minor league camp, but it’s still a great experience for young players or veterans trying to latch on with a new team.  Although this is a minor blip on the radar for most baseball fans, it’s pretty significant for Triple-A teams because a lot of those guys will be playing at Triple-A to start the season.

You People Need to Get a New Name…or Maybe I Do

My mother always likes to say that when I was born, nobody was named Alex. Well congrats, mom.  Looks like you were ahead of the curve, because it’s a very common name these days.

I bring this up in jest for a couple of reasons.  We recently added a sponsor services coordinator named Alex Couch to our team.  Alex (female, by the way)  has been a great addition, but since our desks are all of 12 feet away from each other, it tends to cause some confusion.  When anyone says “Alex”, I assume they mean her, because frankly, who wants to talk to me?  Usually when I make this assumption, I tend to be wrong, so when it turns out someone is trying to get my attention, it’s met with silence from my end.

In fact, while I was literally typing the first paragraph of this section, I got a call from downstairs that someone named Christy was here to see me about taking pictures.  I had no clue what this was about, before I figured out it was for the other Alex. (This seriously happened. You can ask her. The timing was unreal.)

However, the worst is yet to come.  The strength coach this year will be Alex Pounds.  I can already envision during BP or on the bus when someone says “Alex” and both of us turn around.  Good times.

Now I suppose I’m in no position to complain since there are three Kyle’s in our office.  Yet everyone finds a way to distinguish them through their initials or last names. The funny thing is, people throughout my life have naturally called me by my last name.  So of course, nobody here calls me by last name.

Prayers For Izzy

I’m going to end this post unfortunately on a somber note.  A few months ago, 2012 RedHawks catcher Landon Powell and his wife Allie welcomed twin girls into the world.  Sadly, one of the girls, Izzy, is stricken with an extremely rare disease called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) that affects the immune system and liver.  It is only found in 1 in 100,000 newborns.

Landon and his wife have set up a Facebook page called “Prayers For Izzy” in order to keep people posted on Izzy’s health and to ask for people to keep Izzy in their thoughts and prayers.  Please check it out when you have a chance.

Thanks for reading.

New Year, New Office, New Schedule…And Thoughts on Biggio

Greetings, everyone, and a belated happy new year.  My intention was to post right after the New Year, but things have been busy.  As in, busiest since last season ended.

New Offices

Things have been a bit chaotic around the offices at the ballpark lately.  There have been massive renovations and people moving into new spaces.  Our facility operations team has been working non-stop for weeks, and there’s still a ton of work left.  I tip my hat to our facilities manager Harlan Budde for all he has done so far.

(By the way, here’s some RedHawks trivia for you: Harlan is one of four current full-time employees that was on staff when the team moved to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in 1998.  The others are groundskeeper Monte McCoy, merchandise manager Nancy Simmons, and operations director Mike Prange.)

We also welcomed our new baseball operations manager, Mitch Stubenhofer.  Whereas most of our awesome staff is focus on sales and making RedHawks games a tremendous experience for fans, Mitch and I are the ones who are focused mostly on the baseball aspect.  Unfortunately for him, it means the two of us interact quite a lot. He has a thankless job, coordinating team travel, helping players and coaches with living arrangements, keeping umpires happy, and tons of other random things that will surely come up on a daily basis. He’ll be in for a treat when the Big XII Tournament rolls around Memorial Day weekend.

Team News

Since I last checked in, we’ve been able to announce a few exciting things. The 2013 coaching staff is set, led by returning manager Tony DeFrancesco.  Although I was hoping he would be able to stick with the Astros as part of their staff, I’m happy the Tony D Show is headed back to OKC.  Hitting coach Leon Roberts and Athletic Trainer Mike “Otis” Freer return as well.  Tom Lawless–who filled as manager for the final 16 games of 2012–returns as an infield coach.  He’ll also spend time visiting other Astros affiliates and working with infielders throughout the organization.

Former pitching coach Burt Hooton is no longer with the organization.  Steve Webber will take his place in 2013.  Steve spent  several years with the Padres, including the last three at the Triple-A level.  Like I imagine any other PCL pitching coach would be, I’m sure he’s happy he gets to switch over to the American Conference, away from the hitter-friendly Pacific Conference.

Strength and Conditioning Coach Alex Pounds is the other new addition to the staff.  It took me awhile to realize it, but yes, the strength coach’s last name is actually Pounds.  You can find all sorts of other details about the coaching staff here.

The other major piece of news is the official release of the 2013 schedule.  During the home slate we’ll 12 fireworks nights, four outside entertainment nights, and four special giveaway nights.  There will also be a couple of field trip days in May.  You can read all about it here.

Which leads me to one of my favorite topics…schedule quirks/highlights.  Here are some that stick out:

  • Not including the All-Star Break, there are five scheduled days off. None occur in the middle of a homestand. Thus, all of the “off” days will be affected by travel somehow.  That will make for some very tired players, coaches, and broadcasters.
  • The best road trip of the year is the first one: Memphis & Nashville. My two favorite cities in the league, hands down.
  • The RedHawks’ first home opponent is Memphis.  Naturally, the Redbirds don’t return to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark almost five months later during the final series of the regular season.
  • Both of the RedHawks’ trips to Iowa occur within a three week span in May. (Cinco de Mayo in Des Moines!)
  • For the second straight year, the RedHawks will spend the 4th of July in New Orleans.
  • The are no “super series” this year.  Occasionally teams will play two consecutive series against each other, switching locations halfway through. This happened twice with New Orleans last year, but will thankfully not happen at all this season.  Things get kind of stale once you reach games 7-8.
  • For those of you who like to listen to baseball at work, there are 10 weekday day games.
  • The day I am looking least forward to: May 24. Team will travel from Fresno to Des Moines.  You don’t have to be a travel expert to know there is no easy way to do that.  Plus, you lose two hours.

Hall of Fame Thoughts

I will end this post by briefly touching on the Hall of Fame vote earlier this week.  A co-worker recently asked me what I thought about no one getting elected this year, and the truth is, I don’t really have an opinion.  Like the BCS, HOF voting it’s a weird system, and I’ve accepted it for what it is.

Astros fans were obviously disappointed neither Craig Biggio nor Jeff Bagwell was voted in.  However, I think it’s a bit of a misnomer to say Biggio was “snubbed”. The reason I say that is because he’ll have other chances to get in.  This wasn’t a one-time shot.  In fact, he’ll most likely get in next year.

Growing up in St. Louis, I was witness to the great rivalry between the Astros and Cardinals from the late 1990’s through the mid 2000’s.  (In addition to the 2004 & 2005 NLCS, there was also the whole the 2001 NL Central “co-champion” kerfuffle.)  During Biggio’s playing days, my father, brother, and I all agreed Biggio was a no-brainer Hall of Famer.  To the average fan, he might not have been considered a superstar, but he was as consistent as a player could be, and he was great at three different positions.  Not to mention, he brought above-average offensive value to two of those positions (catcher and second base).  Whereas there are other looming issues surrounding some other notable candidates, there aren’t any with Biggio.

That’s all I got for now.  Thanks for reading.

So Here It Goes…

Hello, everyone.  I’ve been meaning to get this thing going for a while, but blogging is funny.  It’s not hard, but it does take time, thought, and dedication.  The purpose of this blog is to share observations and anecdotes regarding the Oklahoma City RedHawks, Houston Astros, Minor League baseball, and much more.  My goal is to post regularly and keep this relevant.  However, I’ll never post just for the sake of posting something.

There has been a flurry of Astros activity lately, but I’m not going to rehash it all.  For anything related to Astros moves, etc., just follow the work of Brian McTaggart of astros.com (@brianmctaggart) or Brian Smith of the Houston Chronicle (@chronastros).  Both of them do a much better job reporting and analyzing than I could.

Here at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, we’re as busy as ever.  Chesapeake Energy Snow Tubing is fully underway…

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Beginning Thursday, Snow Tubing will be a daily event through January 5, with a couple of exceptions.  Click here for a full schedule and to order to your tickets to be part of the annual ballpark holiday tradition.  Our operations crew has worked really hard keeping the slides in great condition while battling the unseasonably warm weather.

In addition to snow tubing, there are some changes happening at the ballpark that I’ll be able to discuss in the future.  Also, we’ve welcomed a handful of new staff members with a couple more on the way after the New Year.

As I mentioned above, I’ll be writing about things outside of baseball as well.  Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably aren’t surprised.  (And if you’re not following me on Twitter…why not? @azfreedman) One of my big interests outside of sports is music.  Since snow tubing began, there has been a bevy of Christmas music playing at the ballpark.

Some love it.  Some hate it.  For the most part I’m ambivalent. However, if someone asks me what my favorite Christmas song is, that’s a no-brainer:

Enjoy the holidays.  I’ll check back in after New Year’s, when baseball prep starts getting real.

-Alex

Welcome!

Welcome “Brick By Brick”, the blog of Oklahoma City RedHawks broadcaster Alex Freedman.  I’ll be sharing stories about the team and the goings on at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (hence the blog title), as well as covering other topics. 

Whether your a RedHawks fan, Astros fan, or just a baseball fan in general, I hope you enjoy this cozy corner of the web. 

A longer intro and legit first post will be coming soon.  Thanks for stopping by!