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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bonus babies, past and future

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 7:25 PM

NATIONAL TRAINING COMPLEX/CARY Today I'm at USA Baseball's "Tournament of Stars," an 18U event that matches all-star teams from most of the major national youth baseball organizations. It's certainly a showcase, but another key reason for it is to identify players for the 18U National Team, which will play in something called the COPABE Pan Am "AAA" (18U) Championships in late September in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. The most certain pick of all is Bryce Harper, who was MVP of the 16U National Team last year. Harper, who won't turn 17 until the day before I turn 54 in October (think...

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Durham Bulls Bounce Back, Beat Mud Hens

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 3:33 PM

I guess Durham outfielder Matt Joyce reads Triangle Offense. I ended my previous post by urging Joyce to break out of the horrific (3-38) streak in which he'd been mired since his return to the Bulls from Tampa; so he hit a two-run homer in the first inning to open the scoring in the Bulls' eventual 4-2 win at Toledo on Wednesday afternoon. This was an important, tone-changing win for Durham, coming barely more than 12 hours after a tough, 4 1/2-hour 11-10 loss in 13 innings the night before. Joyce's tag-team partner in the middle of the lineup, Justin...

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Duke/UNC: Elliot Williams, Will Graves and more

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 3:30 PM

It's eight months away until these two basketball giants square off but they just can't seem to stay out of the headlines. Roy Williams held his summer press conference Tuesday to discuss next year's team and the NBA draft.  Meanwhile, Duke loses another guard, which should make the ACC much more interesting league next season. A few quick thoughts follow below:...

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The night I watched the NBA playoffs with Elliot Williams—and discussed Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 1:10 PM

According to a Wednesday press release, breakout guard Elliot Williams will be leaving Duke's basketball team after one season to be closer to his family in Memphis, Tenn., due to family medical reasons. The release notes that Williams plans to appeal the NCAA rule that transfers must sit out one season, and play for a school "closer to his hometown of Memphis." We extend our best to Williams and his family, and offer the following two observations: 1. This will be a huge loss for Duke. (See Jacob Swiger's post for more.) 2. Duke's loss will most likely be the...

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Durham Bulls Fall to Toledo in 13

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 1:29 AM

I arrived home last night around 11:00 expecting to check the box score and game summary and post a few thoughts about whatever outcome I found there---but what I found was that the Bulls were still playing baseball in Toledo. They were in the 12th inning and fifth hour of action at Fifth Third Field, yet another new-old retro park that is named for a bank but reminds me a little of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, as if the Toledo stadium's awkward moniker had something to do with a compromised and fussy legal ruling. In any case, I tuned into the...

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Colon, Grandal lift Blues on big day in Cary

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Cal State-Fullerton's Christian Colon (pictured)  had another big night, going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI as the Blues beat the Reds 6-1 in a USA Baseball National Team intrasquad Tuesday night at Cary's National Training Complex. The NTC was a busy place on Tuesday, as the 18U Tournament of Stars began with three games. There will be three more games today. Miami's Yasmani Grandal added an RBI double and Arizona State's Matt Newman an RBI single for the Blues in the National Team's intrasquad. Reds starter T.J. Walz of Kansas struck out seven and allowed two hits in...

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Of new homers and old; Mudcats bounce back in convincing fashion

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 10:55 PM

FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON It's my first night back covering the Carolina Mudcats live after a seven-day hiatus, and this series against the Jacksonville Suns - most of whom were playing for the home team last season before Carolina switched affiliations from Florida to Cincinnati - should be pretty interesting. The Mudcats took a very tough blow on Sunday, when their road loss to the Tennessee Smokies left them one game behind the Huntsville Stars for the first-half title in the Southern League's North Division. Then they opened this six-game series by getting rocked 10-2 on Monday. How long they'll be...

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Kazmir, Durham Bulls Stop Skid: We're Not Gonna Take It

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 12:57 AM

DBAP/ DURHAM---Athletes will try almost anything to stop a losing streak. Now and then, though, they need help from above. On Monday night, the Durham Bulls got it, in the form of music. Go to the DBAP a few times and you will hear the same songs over and over. When Justin Ruggiano steps up to hit, it's the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage." Jon Weber usually likes "Blinded By the Light." Ray Sadler's favorite is "Ay Bay Bay" by Hurricane Chris, and Dale Thayer enters from the bullpen to Bad Company's "Rock and Roll Fantasy" (and now has groovy '70s sideburns...

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Monday, June 22, 2009

The winning Choice is Blue

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 7:46 PM

Michael Choice (pictured) of Texas-Arlington blasted a three-run homer in the sixth inning, pacing the Blues to an 8-5 win over the Reds in a USA National Team intrasquad this afternoon at the National Training Complex in Cary. Arizona State's Matt Newman hit a three-run homer to lead the Reds. In other news about the team, Utah's Bill Kinneberg has been named head coach for 2010 while Cal State-Fullerton's Dave Serrano will be the pitching coach. Kolten Wong of Hawaii and Wright State's Casey McGrew had RBI singles for the Blues in today's contest. Tyler Holt of Florida State added...

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The very best are coming to Cary

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 12:06 PM

USA Baseball will be showcasing the best youth talent in the country this week, when the annual "Tournament of Stars" comes to the National Training Complex in Cary. The action begins on Tuesday. Among the standouts is 16-year-old Bryce Harper (pictured, photo courtesy USA Baseball) of Las Vegas, who will play for the American Legion team. There are also a couple of local boys involved. Drew Woodall, a rising senior catcher from Cary who attends Athens Drive High, will be on the same team with Harper. N.C. State-bound infielder and Apex High alum Chris Diaz will play for the PONY...

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Durham Bulls Lose Eighth Straight: The Longest Day

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 12:25 AM

DBAP/ DURHAM—So much attention is paid to Father's Day that it was easy to miss the other red letter stamped on Sunday: June 21 is the summer solstice. The ballgame ended right around 8:00 p.m., and there was still plenty of daylight left. It wasn't fully dark until after 9. But solstice or no, it's getting late early, as Yogi Berra once said, for the Durham Bulls these days. Sunday was another dispiriting game, shadows creeping ominously across the infield as the day waned. Even though the Bulls mounted a late uprising, which failed due to catastrophically bad luck (more...

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Crushing defeat for Mudcats as Huntsville wins first half

Posted By on Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 10:58 PM

Once again I’m blogging about the Carolina Mudcats from Durham Bulls Athletic Park, where I’m primarily covering the Pawtucket Red Sox for the Providence Journal. Adam Sobsey is of course covering the Bulls for Triangle Offense, and is apparently the only keyboard journalist in the house who’s writing about this game for a local publication. Today they’re serving pizza in the press box, imported from a national chain. Good thing my ladies took me to one of the restaurants across the street for Father’s Day. Anyway, it’s hot and the Mudcats’ game is already under — no, check that, it’s...

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Colon, Blues whitewash Reds

Posted By on Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 10:32 PM

Christian Colon of Cal State-Fullerton had the only RBI hit as the Blues beat the Reds 2-0 in the USA Baseball National Team's seven-inning intrasquad game Sunday at the National Training Complex in Cary. A two-out single to right from Colon (pictured) in the fifth inning easily plated Wright State's Casey McGrew from third. The Blues got their other run in the sixth on an error to Florida's Preston Tucker. Nick Pepitone of Tulane picked up the win, while Baylor's Logan Verrett recorded the save. The teams will play another intrasquad Monday at 3 p.m. at the NTC. The first...

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Swiger: UNC won't improve this fall

Posted By on Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:23 PM

At least not in the most important statistic:  wins. Don't get me wrong.  UNC football coach Butch Davis has the gears in motion for churning out competitive ACC teams for years to come, but with the current pieces in place, the Tar Heels' season will be eerily familiar to last season....

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Floridians give Reds the Blues

Posted By on Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 10:34 AM

Florida State’s Tyler Holt (pictured) had a pair of doubles and scored twice, helping the Blues to a 4-2 win over the Reds in a USA Baseball National Team intrasquad on Saturday at the National Training Complex in Cary. Florida’s Preston Tucker added a solo homer for the Blues, who also got a two-run single from Rice's Rick Hague in the seven-inning contest. Christian Colon of Cal State-Fullerton paced the Reds with two hits and an RBI. The team will have another intrasquad today at 4 at the NTC, with its first game against outside opposition at the NTC on...

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It's a rough night for Triangle baseball, but the Mudcats get some outside help

Posted By on Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:01 AM

DBAP/DURHAM It's Night 2 of my odd journey of covering the Carolina Mudcats from Durham Bulls Athletic Park, where I know I've covered more baseball games than any three other print media types combined. To review, I'm already in the house because I'm covering the Bulls' series against the Pawtucket Red Sox for the Providence Journal, a good daily newspaper that's at least hiring "stringers" for its home team's road games for heaven's sake. And then whoa! Suddenly I'm also covering the Bulls' game for Triangle Offense, as something has gone awry elsewhere. Football coaches talk about "sudden change," and...

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Grandal, McGrew double their fun

Posted By on Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 9:17 AM

Gerrit Cole of UCLA struck out eight while Miami's Yasmani Grandal (pictured) swung a big bat Friday night as the Blues defeated the Reds 5-2 in a USA Baseball National Team intrasquad. A two-run homer from Kansas' Tony Thompson provided the only scoring for the Reds, in a game played at the National Training Complex in Cary. The Blues responded with four runs in the sixth, with the key hits being RBI doubles from Grandal and Wright State's Casey McGrew and an RBI single from Rice's Rick Hague. The team has another intrasquad tonight at 7 at the NTC,...

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Bulls Lose Sixth Straight: At Sea

Posted By on Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 1:30 AM

DBAP/ DURHAM---Let me get the good news out of the way first, since that's what the Durham Bulls did tonight. First, the franchise set a remarkable record: most fans ever to see a ballgame at the DBAP, 11,300 (!). And it was a very comfortable oversell: with the SRO behind the Blue Monster and the party decks out by the foul poles, the nominal capacity of the park (10,000) is a numerical relic. Twelve thousand could easily have fit tonight. It was great to see so many people at the DBAP. Second, Justin Ruggiano did something that isn't exactly a...

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Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm in Durham as Mudcats back into first-place tie

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Now this is weird. I'm blogging about the Carolina Mudcats and where do I sit? Durham Bulls Athletic Park, where I used to come about 72 times a year for 14 ½ seasons when I used to cover the home team for The Incredible Shrinking Herald-Sun. Don't worry, I'm not lost. I'm also covering the visiting Pawtucket Red Sox for the Providence Journal in the opener of a four-game series. Tonight in the box we have barbecue with all the trimmings - baked beans, slaw, banana puddin' and what have you. Blogging from DBAP. That's something Bulls publicist Matt DeMargel...

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Mag picks two Eagles to fly high

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 4:59 PM

Lindy's College Football Preview has chosen two N.C. Central players as preseason players of the year among Football Championship Subdivision independents. The annual magazine named senior wide receiver Will Scott the preseason offensive player of the year, while junior defensive Teryl White (pictured at left) is preseason defensive player of the year. Scott, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder from Charlotte, topped NCCU last season with 45 receptions for 787 yards and five touchdowns. "Will could be one of the most explosive receivers in the country," NCCU coach Mose Rison said in a press release. "He has great speed and can run past...

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Brentz' blasts bolster Blues

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 8:32 AM

USA Baseball's National Team played its second intrasquad game of the season Thursday night at the National Training Complex in Cary. Middle Tennessee's Bryce Brentz (pictured) was the hero for the Blues, with three hits including a solo homer, a double and a steal in a 3-1 win over the Reds. The two teams will square off again tonight at 6, and tickets are for sale. Here's the lowdown from the press release:...

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Bulls Swept: Wayward Sons

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 2:03 AM

DBAP/ DURHAM---After the Lehigh Valley IronPigs completed a four-game sweep of the Bulls last night---Durham's fifth straight loss---the postgame musical selection was Kansas' "Carry on Wayward Son." The Bulls' Director of Media Relations, Matt DeMargel, assured me that the song was played at random, offering as evidence a computer touch screen of choices available to the sound guy following a loss (e.g. "That's Life"). No "Wayward Son" was on it. Still, it was an appropriate song to play after a glum 6-2 loss (perhaps our machines are smarter than we are, after all). The Bulls looked lost, incapable, tired:...

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

First rain, then pain, and then gain

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Going into a pivotal day in their chances to win the first-half title in the Southern League's North Division, the Carolina Mudcats got off to a rough start but had a very nice finish. Juan Francisco (pictured) had three hits and four RBI, including a two-run blast in the seventh inning that was his 13th homer of the season, as the Mudcats topped the host Tennessee Smokies 6-3 in the nightcap of a doubleheader. Travis Wood was the winning pitcher while Sean Watson collected the save. Here's the happy box score. Clemson alum Tyler Colvin led off the 12th inning...

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New NCCU LB Baker gets national attention

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Are you ready for some football? N.C. Central's transfer linebacker Michael Baker (pictured) has been named Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Preseason Newcomer of the Year according to Lindy's Football 2009 College Football Preview. The former all-Missouri linebacker from Cardinal Ritter High in St. Louis was rated as the No. 18 outside linebacker prospect in the nation by ESPN.com out of high school in 2007. When he decided to transfer from Miami University of Ohio, he started a recruiting war which the Eagles eventually won....

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USA Baseball starts intrasquads; tickets available for Friday

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 12:00 PM

USA Baseball's National Team has started a series of intrasquad games at the National Training Complex in Cary, as the team played last night and will play again tonight at 6:30. Here's a report on the opener, compiled from the press release: Florida's Preston Tucker launched a sacrifice fly to right to score Rick Hague of Rice in the sixth as the Reds defeated the Blues 2-1. Blake Forsythe of Tennessee launched a two-out, full-count solo homer to left in the top of the first for the Blues.  But the Reds' Tyler Holt (pictured) of Florida State scored on a...

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