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Sam's latest

Friday, April 6, 2012

2012: What's in Store?

Posted by on Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 9:56 AM

The Bulls won their opener last night in 12 innings, as reported by Adam Sobsey, showing his inimitable, thorough form already.

I'll be taking the baton from Adam and covering home games soon, too. But we've decided, in concert with the Bulls, the Indy, and other partners, to postpone our ambitious, exhaustive season-long project until 2013. To reiterate what I've written here before, the idea is to use the documentary techniques of the Jazz Loft Project and focus on the DBAP today, rather than a building in 1959 New York City. After a while, even 1959 New York City gets old.

2013 will be the 25th anniversary of the movie Bull Durham, but we're not postponing our project in order to coincide with that anniversary, although that coincidence could be beneficial in some ways. What happened is the trial run we gave to Bull City Summer last year (surf around this blog) achieved what we wanted to achieve, i.e. we learned. One thing we learned is that we may raise the ambitions for this project, which means we need more funding than we figured. We'll see. More on that later.

Meanwhile, we're considering the whole 2012 season a trial run for 2013. Adam and I will do our things, to some degree, and photographers Frank Hunter, Kate Joyce, and Leah Sobsey will do theirs, to other degrees. And we'll seek sponsors for something major in 2013. Should be fun. Check back here for new material.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bull City Summer Pilot Project, a Recap

Posted by on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Nine games in eight days, the Bull City Summer pilot project, or test run, is complete, capped yesterday by “the most important win of the season,” everyone agreed including manager Charlie Montoyo, Bulls’ radio broadcaster Neil Solondz, and Bull City Summer’s Adam Sobsey. Yesterday also included announcements that Bulls’ outfielder Russ Canzler won MVP of the International League and that the DBAP would host the AAA National Championship game in September 2012. Good news all around.

If/when the Bulls have playoff games this year, there will be new work by Adam and perhaps by photographers Frank Hunter and Leah Sobsey. But I’ll be in New York and photographer Kate Joyce returned to Chicago today. The 5-person team that gathered at DBAP for these nine games won’t gather again until spring 2012, either at spring training in Florida or, more likely for all of us, here.

A project I began as part of this test run, but won’t finish until next year, is a profile of Charlie Montoyo.

Continue reading…

Monday, August 29, 2011

Q&A with Herman Reeder, Cotton Candy Vendor

Posted by on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 12:14 PM

If you've attended a Bulls game over the last four seasons, you've seen Herman Reeder. If you are a regular at Bulls games, you might find the lean, sinewy, bearded figure of Herman Reeder as recognizable as any of the players. He is a cotton candy vendor, working one end of the stadium to the other, walking up and down the stairs of each section, carrying a pole with bags of cotton candy attached. I've been chatting with Reeder at games for the past few weeks and last night I caught up with him in between games of the double-header.

  • Photograph by Frank Hunter
  • Herman Reeder

Stephenson: Where and when were you born?

Reeder: I was born in 1964 in Baltimore, Maryland, to Herman and Bertha Reeder. I'm Herman Jr.

How long have you lived down here?

Four years. I moved here with my son, his wife, and my grandchildren. My son got a job down here so we all moved. Soon after we moved I got this job. This is my fourth season doing this.

Have you worked in concessions before?

No, but in Baltimore I worked pressure washing Camden Yards after Orioles games and I also was an usher for the Baltimore Ravens, so I've been involved in sports for a long time.

Who were your favorite players for the Orioles?

Oh, man, there are so many…Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, you know, all those guys.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Groundskeeping in Rain, Pt. 2

Posted by on Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Yesterday, I posted this interview with Bulls head groundskeeper Scott Strickland. After last night's rain delay I interviewed Strickland again and he offered an interesting anecdote that may provide a subtle indication of the stress and uncertainty on the Bulls' pitching staff right now. Here's what he had to say:

Normally, toward the end of a rain delay, when we are pulling the tarp off, we go to the pitching coaches and we ask them how long they need to get relievers ready, or if they are keeping their starter in the game, how long the starter needs to get ready again.

Today, we were forty minutes into a rain delay. At 8:42 (pm), our pitching coach (Neil Allen) comes up to me, and usually it’s the other way around - I usually go to him, and he says, ‘What time can we get going?’ I knew that meant he had some reason behind it. So I said, ‘What time do you want to get going?’ He said he wanted to keep Sonny (starter Andy Sonnanstine) in the game to go at least two more innings, and he needed to start back up by 8:55 or else the delay would be too long for Sonny to be down and back up again. So, we had to crank it out in a hurry to get the tarp off completely. If the game is going to resume at 8:55 the field needs to be clear by 8:52 or :53 so they can have a few warm-up pitches and be ready to go by :55. We had to bust it there for a few minutes.

The hole punches by the Aerifyer that I told you about last night helped us drain the water quicker than it normally would have. It can make a big difference for the rest of the weekend if we can keep a starter in the game an inning or two longer and save bullpen arms. You could easily say that punching those holes with the Aerifyer last night saved our bullpen some pitches tonight. It’s connected, it’s absolutely connected, the groundscrew and the play on the field. Most people don’t understand that.

That’s the first time in my eight years with the Bulls that the pitching coach has initiated the conversation with a preferred time to start back the game.

Possibly more to come from Scott Strickland as the rainy weekend progresses and the Bulls need every fresh pitch they can muster to maintain their division lead.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Hurricane Not Too Hard on DBAP Field

Posted by on Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 3:25 PM

In the fourth inning of last night’s Bulls’ 12-7 loss to the Charlotte Knights, I sat down near the right field foul pole with the DBAP’s head groundskeeper, Scott Strickland, to ask him some questions about preparations for Hurricane Irene. Strickland is only twenty-eight years old but he’s already been with the Bulls for eight years. I’ve noticed that the Bulls’ bullpen pitchers often chant “Scot-tee” when they see him walking through the seating concourse near the bullpen at the beginning of a game. After questioning Strickland about the hurricane and preparing for heavy rain I asked him about his background and aspirations.

What will you do to prepare for the storm?

Scott Strickland: The only thing we can control right now is our irrigation plan. We’ve planned our irrigation cycle for the expected rain. We won’t water the field on Friday in expectation of rains on Saturday.

Obviously we’ll tarp the field after the game Friday night and another thing we’ll do post-game Friday night is fire up our Aerifyer and punch some holes in shallow right field. The water that accumulates on top of the tarp has got to go somewhere and that’s where we’ll dump rain that accumulates on the tarp. The Aerifyer punches holes in the soil about half an inch in diameter and three inches deep, so the water will drain faster than normal. It speeds up the drying process. The hole punching allows the water to get through the sand zone faster and get to the drain lines that are eleven or twelve inches below the surface.

No matter how much it rains, we can pretty much play a game within an hour after the rain stops. The field is designed to handle a huge amount of water.

Continue reading…

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