And now the conclusion of my lengthy sit-down interview with Trenton’s new radio broadcasting team, Justin Shackil and Jay Burnham…
Mike Ashmore: I know you guys are excited about what’s going to be going on between the white lines this year in Trenton as well…what are you looking forward to from an on-field standpoint in 2010?
Jay Burnham: “We’ve been talking a lot about the pitching. In particular, D.J. Mitchell…he’s a guy who comes with pretty big fanfare, and he should do very well with a good defense behind him. I’m jealous of you guys, you got to see two championship teams here. I know the team was decent last year, they weren’t horrible…there can be seasons in minor league baseball, trust me, where you’re out of it by July. We’re excited about the pitching, and I’m sure the Yankees are too. Justin mentioned Austin Romine, and he’s another guy who comes with a pretty big set of expectations on his back. But it’s fun to see the people that you might not expect filter in and do the little things, guys I like to call the Luis Sojo ballplayers. The guys you don’t think of having won championships, but when you look back, they have…you’ll find a lot of guys in minor league baseball where they know they’re probably not going to make it to the major leagues, but certainly will scrap and claw to get there. Those are the dudes you see out at most of the community appearances, fans get to know them, fans love them. So I’d say pitching and the unexpected, to answer that question.”
Justin Shackil: “I would definitely go with the pitching. I mean, covering the Yankees organization like you have, you’ve been hearing for several years now how all the Yankees minor league talent is really stuck in the lower levels of the organization…well, I think this is the first year where you’re going to see some of that talent start to ascend to the upper levels of the organization, and they obviously have to stop here in Trenton to do that. Just thinking about names like D.J. Mitchell, Jeremy Bleich, Hector Noesi or whoever comes here, they’re going to be exciting guys to watch. Also, and I didn’t really think of this until you said it, but guys who sort of regain a little bit of their prospect status and maybe there will be one person on a team who’s like that per year. I think that’s cool…you’ll be able to watch that during the season and experience the joy that he’s going through.”
Mike Ashmore: Are there guys on some of the other teams around the Eastern League that you guys are looking forward to seeing?
Jay Burnham: “You take Portland, with a guy like Tim Federovich possibly coming. He finished his season in Salem last year. You do get excited about seeing those other top prospects. I was actually thinking about it today, but they were saying Strasburg isn’t going to start the year in the big leagues…but with the catchers, the Pirates have Tony Sanchez, a guy they took out of Boston College last year…when is the last time you saw all these strong catching prospects.”
Justin Shackil: “Geez. Casey Kelly, Travis D’Arnaud, Phillippe Aumont…there are so many guys that could come through here…”
Mike Ashmore: Hmmm…all right, what’s the coolest thing that either one of you guys has called?
Jay Burnham: “July 28th, 2008. Bruce Billings, 30th round draft pick out of San Diego State, threw a no-hitter against the Lakewood BlueClaws. That’s the only no-hitter I’ve been able to broadcast. And it came from what everybody calls “the nicest guy.” Just one of those improbable guys…it might have been a getaway day, I think it was. Lakewood was heading back home, and yeah…he threw a no-hitter, and I think Asheville won, 10-0. That’s probably the exciting ending I’ve seen…that and a walk-off home run to end a season in the playoffs, which hurt. That one was like a kick in the stomach for two or three months.”
Justin Shackil: “Honestly, I’ve probably called just north of 100 baseball games between 50 games at Gateway and 50 other games at Fordham…so the coolest thing I’ve called baseball wise was probably just broadcasting a Frontier League game from a hot tub down the right field line. That was pretty cool. Very dangerous, but we still did it anyway. Overall, it definitely had to be the U.S. Open with Melanie Oudin, who’s probably going to be the next big thing in American tennis, her with her three upsets…and then Del Potro upsetting Federer for his first major title was really cool. It was strange because, you had 20,000 people rooting behind Federer last year, and through the course of the match, it just totally swayed for Del Potro. Everyone wanted to see the upset.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com