— Please check out my notebook and game story in The Trentonian…the notebook discusses Austin Romine’s potential call-up and the game story…uhhh, well…confirms said call-up and breaks down another bad second half loss at home for the Thunder.
— Something you won’t see in the paper is the lead to my running game story (only the “quoter” ran online or in print, which means that the version I send in after talking to players and the manager after the initial version which I have to send in immediately after the game). I liked said lead. As the season went on and continued to spiral downwards, I got snarkier and snarkier…and this is what would have run in the paper:
TRENTON — While the Trenton Thunder organization was busy giving away prizes to select lucky fans in attendance, their baseball team managed to give away an entire game.
On “Fan Appreciation Night,” the Thunder (65-71) gave the crowd more of the same sad second half song, losing 2-0 in their home finale to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in front of a packed house of 7,568.
Instead, with Romine heading up, I had to re-write things a little bit. But, go read. Enjoy. Now it’s time for some notes.
— I’m not sure it’s fair to say that the Thunder found a new way to lose, but they certainly didn’t do much to put themselves in a position to win. The first three innings pretty much dictated how the rest of the game was going to go.
— Shaeffer Hall had two outs in the top of the first, and gave up a single to Moises Sierra. He then induced what seemed to be a routine inning-ending ground ball to shortstop Jose Pirela. But no ground ball is routine for Pirela, it seems. He made his 38th error…and that’s fine, it’s not like he isn’t trying. It’s not like the guy wants to make errors. But what made things different tonight was a lack of effort in getting to the ball after he booted it, which allowed Sierra to get to third base.
I’ll get to what happened after that in a minute, but Tony Franklin took notice of Pirela’s lackadaisical play and promptly removed him from the game after the first inning had ended. Much of what he said can be found in the paper, but…
“It’s not something I enjoy doing, and it’s not something they want to have happen to them,” Franklin said.
“But it does happen, and I think it was a pretty good time to do it. The fact is, I don’t think he went about his business the way he’s capable of doing. I know he’s a much better player than that.”
— The Pirela play wouldn’t have been that bad if not for what transpired next. Travis d’Arnaud and Sierra combined for a double steal of second base and home, respectively, that put the Fisher Cats up, 1-0. While it was very difficult to see whether Sierra was safe at the plate, it did seem as though home plate umpire Andy Dudones made the call before Sierra ever touched the plate.
“Of course, I felt that we had him. I felt that he slid around the plate, but Andy told me he got his foot in,” Franklin said.
“I said, ‘Well, it’s kind of difficult to get your foot in if you’re sliding around the plate.’ We never see eye to eye on those calls. It’s a difficult play to make for the catcher and the infielder, those are two tough throws. I thought we made decent throws, we just didn’t get the call.”
— OK, so Trenton’s down a run early. No big deal. They had a chance in the second. Damon Sublett and Yadil Mujica were walked by rehabber Dustin McGowan with two outs, which set up Jose Gil to drive in a run. And Gil did his part, singling to left field…but Danny Perales fielded the ball cleanly and fired a seed to home plate that nailed Sublett at the plate after a nice tag by d’Arnaud. There was some question as to whether third base coach Justin Pope should have sent Sublett or allowed Addison Maruszak an opportunity to hit with the bases loaded instead…Franklin, of course, did not have a problem with Pope sending his man.
“Absolutely not, I thought that was the proper thing to do,” he said.
“We’ve got two outs there. The runners are off on the crack of the bat, and we’re in a really tight ballgame. You make the guy throw him out. I’ve gotten plenty of guys thrown out at home plate, as you guys well know. Sometimes, it works out in our favor. But I thought it was a decent play. Perales made a heck of a throw, he came and got the ball well and I thought that made the whole play. Popey came in and asked me what I thought about the play and I came in and told him it was perfect, because I would have sent him.”
— No big deal. The Thunder had seven more innings to get on the scoreboard. Why not the third? Again, with two outs, they seemed to be poised to turn things around. Corban Joseph, Romine and Rob Lyerly all reached base to set the stage for Melky Mesa. He struck out. That more or less did it for Trenton. Shaeffer Hall did all you can really ask…kept his team in the game and went seven innings. But he was the hard luck loser…
— In the midst of the media chat time with Romine after the game, he was asked by John Nalbone and subsequently myself about the way things turned out for his now-former squad this season.
“I really couldn’t explain it,” he said. “Even when we were good, we were hitting balls right at people. I’m not trying to make excuses, we were bad a lot of the time. Sometimes, that’s just baseball. That’s all I can say about it. It’s just baseball.”
I followed up John’s question by asking if he was surprised by the way things did ultimately play out for this team.
“I kind of was a little bit surprised, because there is a lot of talent on this team,” Romine said.
“It’s a young team, but I think it turned out a little bit different than I thought. It’s still not over yet, you still don’t know what they can do. This team can be up here one time and down there another time. I don’t know, it’s a roller coaster team.”
— Shaeffer Hall won the Thunder’s Pitcher of the Year Award, and Cory Arbiso won the Samuel J. Plumeri, Sr. Community Service Award. I said this last year, I’ll say it again…not giving out the “Fan Favorite Award,” which had been a staple of the team since its inception in 1994, just because of a lack of sponsorship is weak. I’m not as critical of the front office as some people perceive me to be…it actually sucked leaving there tonight knowing I won’t see many of my friends there until next season, if I return…but that was something that had run for 16 straight seasons. It’s important to the fans. Bring it back.
— I’ll have my “thank you” post up in a few days and will discuss 2012 plans then. Spoiler alert: It’ll be overdramatic and reveal that I have no clue what the hell I’ll be up to in six months. Seriously though, I will continue to update you on the team for the next few days, and will provide content from the big leagues starting on Saturday as well…
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com