Posts Tagged ‘Shelley Duncan’

4/10: Farm Fresh

April 10, 2008

I still want to do the “Farm Fresh” updates, but they clutter up the game threads too much.  So I’ve decided to do them separately.  If anyone would like to see this moved back to the game threads, speak now or forever hold your peace…

(AAA) Scranton – There appears to be a bit of Paramore syndrome going on with the Scranton starters.  First Jeff Marquez, and now Steven White have gotten Crushcrushcrushed.

Louisville stomped Scranton, 11-0, last night.  White was responsible for nine of the eleven tallies, although “only” six of them were earned.  His line: 4 IP, 11 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. 

Even Scott Patterson struggled, allowing two runs in two innings of relief.  He gave up three hits and walked two.  A very un-Scotty like outing.

Thunder alum Juan Miranda had the only multi-hit game for Scranton, going 2-for-4.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Shelley Duncan was sent down to Triple-A last night.  Chad Jennings points out that this presents a bit of a cluster-you-know-what (my words, not his) at the first base and outfield spots.  But if Jeter is really only unable to go for a few days, then Gonzalez will presumably come back down and Shelley can go back up.

Chad also has an update on Brett Gardner’s injury situation.

(A) Tampa – The T-Yanks lost, 8-4, to Dunedin last night.  Mike Dunn got the start, and struggled through his four innings, picking up the L after allowing three runs on six hits and three walks.  He did strike out five.

Damon Sublett DID play last night, going 1-for-5 with a double and 2 RBI.  Edwar Gonzalez had another nice game, going 2-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI.  He’s hitting .321 so far.

Tampa got the game to 5-3 after five innings, but the bullpen couldn’t keep them in it.  The large human, Grant Duff, gave up four earned in two and a third, and Stephen Artz allowed an unearned tally in the eighth.  Wilkins Arias came in for a scoreless ninth, but the damage had been done.

(A) Charleston – It was a camp day in Charleston today, with the ever-obnoxious 11:05 AM start.  But the RiverDogs battled through their eye-crusties and took their third straight game from Savannah by the score of 8-6.  Charleston is now 6-1 on the young season.

Jairo Heredia picked up his first win of the season, striking out six Sand Gnats through five innings of work. 

Charleston pounded out 16 hits, including a 4-for-5 night from Abe Almonte and a three-hit performance out of Justin Snyder.  However, Almonte was picked off once and caught stealing another time, although he did manage to swipe one bag on the night.

Jesus Montero, DH’ing with Austin Romine behind the plate, hit another home run and also doubled, raising his average to .345 on the year.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Shelley Sent Down

April 9, 2008

Peter Abraham is reporting that the Yankees have sent Shelley Duncan to Triple-A Scranton to make room for Alberto Gonzalez.  Unless Jason Brown is deactivated again (and considering Posada isn’t getting DL’d, and carrying three catchers on the active roster makes no sense, that seems likely) there could be a trickle-down effect here in Trenton.

I’ll be at Waterfront Park tomorrow afternoon, and will have the latest if there are any corresponding moves.

Odd situation for the big league club today, too.  Ian Kennedy gets scratched from his start because it was raining and they didn’t want to waste him — according to Pete, anyway — so Brian Bruney starts.  But Kennedy comes in the game to pitch the 7th, 8th and 9th.

So they waste him anyway.  Strange.

The gents over at River Ave. Blues have their take on this here.

Yankees lost, 4-0…TO THE ROYALS.  Alberto Gonzalez went 1-for-3 in his season debut.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Duncan Named Top Yankees Rookie

March 27, 2008

This release straight from the Yankees…

The Yankees today announced that infielder/outfielder Shelley Duncan is the recipient of the 2008 James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training. Duncan will receive the award in a pre-game ceremony today, prior to the Yankees’ 1:15 p.m. game vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates at the newly renamed George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Duncan, 28, batted .390 (16-for-41) this spring, with 5 doubles, 3 home runs and 14RBI in his first Major League spring training. He ranked third among AL Grapefruit Leaguers in RBI and tied for eighth in total bases (30). A second round pick by the Yankees in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Duncan hit .257 (19-for-74) with seven home runs and 17RBI in 34 games with the Yankees in 2007 in his Major League debut.

The James P. Dawson Award was established in honor of the late sportswriter of the New York Times who died in spring training while covering the Yankees. Two winners of the award, Tony Kudek in 1957 and Tom Tresh in 1962, went on to win American League “Rookie of the Year” Awards. Last season’s winner was left-handed pitcher Kei Igawa. The award first was presented to rookie Norm Siebern by Manager Casey Stengel in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the conclusion of spring training in 1956. The New York Yankees beat writers vote on the winner.

In conjunction with the award, Duncan will receive an engraved Burberry watch from William Barthman Jewelers.

All 15 Year Team: Shortstop

March 22, 2008

So far, we’ve taken a look at the Thunder’s All 15 Year Team nominees for catcher, first base and second base.

So of course, we’ll be breaking down Thunder batboys today.  Or shortstops, your call.

David McDonough is the featured writer in our position-by-position breakdown of the Thunder’s All 15 Year Team, and has covered the team since their inception in 1994.  He brings a smooth and unique writing style, not to mention a knowledge of the team’s history and players that few others have.  In short, few are as qualified as he is to be doing this.

The following is Dave’s breakdown, mine will follow after all of his are done…

Nomar Garciaparra: Arguably, Nomar has had the greatest major league success of any Thunder player, although he has not been too good in recent years. The question is, do we honor for what he accomplished in the big leagues, or what he did in Trenton? Because if we are just talking Double-A ball, he’s not getting my vote. You have to remember, we had Nomar before Nomar was No-Mah!.

Nomar showed up in Trenton in 1995 sporting maybe 165 pounds on his 6’0 frame. He was the Red Sox first round pick in 1994, and big things were expected of him. He was solid in a Thunder uniform, sporting the best glove the young team had seen at shortstop. He had good speed, stealing 35 bases. But as a hitter, he was average, showing the occasional flash of power. In 125 games, he hit .267 with 8 homers and knocked in 47 runs. Not that anyone expected him to bat in runs; he was hitting at the top of the line-up. After all, this was a skinny, speedy 22-year-old shortstop with great leather, in only his first full pro season. He was expected, when he filled out, to man his position at Fenway with élan, hit between 15 and 20 homers, and bat between .280 and .290.

Then, the next spring, Nomar showed up for work with the Triple-A PawSox about thirty pounds heavier, all muscle. Hits that had gone “crack” the year before now went “woomph.” He had 16 home runs in 43 games with Pawtucket before getting hurt, and everyone knows the rest of the story. The one-time lead-off man had become a masher. For half a dozen years he reigned supreme in Boston, where he became ‘No-Mah!”, a regional icon. He even had his number retired in Trenton, but that had a lot more to do with his great years in Boston than his year in Trenton.

There was even some trepidation that he might be less than gracious about the number-retiring ceremony, since his relationship with the fans and press in Trenton had been a little strained. He had become annoyed one day in ’95 when he made an admittedly great play in the field, and the crowd failed to recognize it. Nomar said as much to the reporters afterward, and then was dismayed when we ran his comments. His big mistake was attempting to deny that he had said it. Some put his distrust of the press as beginning at that moment, but I think he was just always uncomfortable talking to reporters, partly out of genuine shyness.

He was always going to be a good ballplayer, but no one who saw him in Trenton in 95 could have said how good. Remember when A-Rod, Jeter and No-Mah were the great, future Hall-Of-fame triumvirate shortstops in the American League? Well, two of them are going to Hall of Fame, but injuries have knocked Nomar out of contention. As the guy in my Italian deli said to me once, “You know, I said to him, ‘You never know, you know.’”

Adam Everett: How about this: when Adam Everett hit Trenton in 1999, the player he most resembled was the 1995 stripped-down version of Nomar. He was a 22-year-old first round draft choice who was playing his first full season in the pros. He was six feet and weighed about 170. He was a great shortstop – even better than Nomar, in my opinion – who the Red Sox hoped would fill out and become a decent hitter. He played 98 games in Trenton before getting hurt, and batted .263 – about the same as Nomar – with 10 homers. And he batted at the top of the line-up, just behind David Eckstein, with whom he formed the best keystone combination in the league.

The sequel is a little different than Nomar’s. The Red Sox shipped him off the next winter to the Astros for power-hitting Carl Everett (after all, the Sox did have a pretty decent shortstop named Nomah at the time). Adam never did get heavier or become a good hitter, but he has carved out a good living as one of the top defensive shortstops in the National League. He signed a one-year contract with the Twins this off-season.

Donnie Sadler: About a quarter of the way into the 1996 season, the Red Sox announced that their fleet, diminutive (5’6) Trenton Thunder shortstop, 21-year-old Donnie Sadler, was now the Red Sox center fielder of the future. They sent him off to Florida for a couple of weeks for tutelage, and then brought him back to Trenton and installed him in front of the center field scoreboard.

And he hated it. A very shy, immature kid, Sadler liked the excitement of the infield, and hated the boredom of waiting for four or five chances a game in the outfield. After 30 games, the experiment was halted, and Sadler went back to shortstop. But the experience seemed to leave a bad taste in his month. He began to pal around with a couple of team vets who were known as malcontents. Most veterans are helpful to a young player; these guys were not. Sadler ended up with a mediocre season and a mild reputation as an unreliable guy. He became a utility infielder, bouncing around baseball, getting 416 games of big-league ball in eight years. In 2007, while playing Triple-A for the DBacks, he was suspended for 50 games for drug violations.

Can all this be blamed on one failed experiment in 1996? Probably not. But if the Sox had been paying attention, they might have realized that a shy, small town kid just a couple of years out of high school needed to stay out of the spotlight while he matured.

Ramiro Pena: There’s nothing wrong with Ramiro that good health and the ability to master Double-A pitching won’t cure. He’s got the glove, but hasn’t gotten his average over .252 in parts of the last three years with Trenton. He looked like he might be starting to hit when he broke his wrist in 2006, and hurt his shoulder in June, 2007, missing the rest of the season. In 140 games with the Thunder, he has yet to homer, and he doesn’t steal much. He’s not in Baseball America’s Top 30 Yankee prospects. The good news is, he’s only 22. But health and hitting better come soon.

Not On the Ballot: Freddy Sanchez: Freddy played 113 games at shortstop for Trenton between 2001 and 2002, and 11 games at second base, so why he is on the ballot at second eludes me. The man was an on-base machine. He holds the club record for hitting safely in 27 consecutive games, hit .327 in 489 at bats over the two seasons and had a combined OBP around .400. He’s the only Thunder player to hit 4 doubles in a game. Stole a few bases, too. And defensively, he was better than average. He was a 2002 Eastern League All-Star.

Naturally, since he was only 5’10, the Red Sox had to get rid of him. He went to the Pirates for Jeff Suppan in a multi-player trade in 2003. Suppan went on to win three games for the Red Sox, while Freddy was the 2006 National League batting champ. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have had five shortstops in five years. Not one of Theo Epstein’s smarter moves.

Dave’s Vote Goes To: Freddy Sanchez

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: At first glance, some fans may look at the ballot, see “Nomar Garciaparra” and vote for him without even looking at any of the other candidates.  Not me…

Nomar Garciaparra: If you’re looking at this contest based solely on what the player did while he was in Trenton, then Garciaparra’s 1995 season doesn’t really stand out above the others.  He hit .267 with eight home runs and 47 RBI.  He also swiped 35 bags on the basepaths, and committed 23 errors in the field.

Baseball America named him a Double-A All-Star, and he was an Eastern League All-Star as well.

Get your hate mail ready Thunder fans…but as the Thunder’s shortstop, Garciaparra was kind of overrated.  It was in Pawtucket the following year where he became the complete player that you saw in the big leagues for years, before injuries eventually limited him in the field and took away a lot of his power.

While he’s gone on to great things after playing for Trenton, countless other players made more of an impact at Waterfront Park than Garciaparra did.

Adam Everett: You could make a case that Adam Everett did more in his one year in Trenton than Nomar Garciaparra did, he just didn’t have the accolades Nomar did.

He hit just four points less than Garciaparra did, hit two more home runs and drove in seven less runs, all in nearly 30 games less than Garciaparra had to compile his statistics.

Along with David Eckstein, he also formed one of the most dazzling double-play combinations seen anywhere, no less Trenton.

It would be interesting to look at how many of the guys on these ballots never got to accomplish anything in a Red Sox uniform, and Everett would be a part of that list.  He was traded for another Everett, the controversial Carl, who went on to lead the league in umpire headbutts, inappropriate body part grabbing and odd comments.  While Carl now enters his second season of independent ball, Adam goes to the American League with the Twins after seven seasons in Houston, including one World Series appearance.

Donnie Sadler: Does every Thunder shortstop on this list have eerily similar statistics?  Sadler’s 1996 stats: .267, 6 home runs and 46 RBI.

Sadler made it to the big leagues with the Red Sox just two seasons later, and has been every bit of a journeyman since then.  Parts of three seasons at Fenway.  Splitting another with Kansas City and Cincinnati.  Another split year between the Royals and Rangers.

After that?  77 forgetable games in Texas in 2003, and 19 games over the past four seasons for Arizona.

Sadler could never hit at the Major League level, with a career average of .202 in 768 at-bats.  Not even the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs changed that, as he was hit with a 50-game ban in July of last year.

Once traded with controversial Thunder alum Michael Coleman, Sadler now finds himself without a job for 2008.

Ramiro Pena: It’s hard to believe that Ramiro Pena would be considered one of the more memorable players in Thunder history.  However, at just 22 years of age, he still has time to blossom into an Alberto Gonzalez sort of player, i.e. someone with a legitimate chance for a Major League opportunity.

But so far, in parts of three seasons with the Thunder, Pena hasn’t shown that.  514 Double-A at-bats have yet to yield his first home run, and he has just 29 extra-base hits in his entire career.  He also doesn’t steal any bases, with just 20 bags swiped in 223 career games.

In the field, he’s solid but unspectacular, and it’s going to have to be his defense that moves him up the ladder.  Hindsight is always 20-20, but it would seem as though the Yankees thought they had more than they actually did in Pena, and attempted to rush him as a result.

Not On The Ballot: Freddy Sanchez.  “Fab Five” Freddy, as I nicknamed him after his move to third base in Pittsburgh, was certainly one of the better players to ever wear a Thunder uniform.  Just imagine him and Kevin Youkilis in the same lineup…well, they almost were in 2002.  When Sanchez finally got his well-deserved call-up to Triple-A in July, it was Youkilis who was summoned from Sarasota to take his spot.

The pattern repeated itself next year, but with more disastrous results.  Youkilis was called up to Pawtucket at the end of July.  However, two days later, it was Sanchez who was traded to the Pirates…forever eliminating the possibility that the two would play together in the big leagues.  And what did Theo Epstein — who I foolishly walked right past when he was picking up his tickets for Roger Clemens’ rehab assignment — get in return?  Former Thunder pitcher Jeff “Chicken” Suppan, Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez.

The Pirates got the eventual NL batting champ.

You tell me who got the better end of that deal.  But hey, that’s how most trades seemed to work out when the Thunder were affiliated with the Red Sox…

Mike’s Vote Goes To: Adam Everett.  Easily my most controversial pick to date, but he was a large part of why that 1999 team was one of the best minor league baseball has ever seen.

Our ballots so far:

C: Walt McKeel (McDonough), Virgil Chevalier (Ashmore)
1B: Tony Clark (McDonough), Shelley Duncan (Ashmore)
2B: David Eckstein (McDonough), David Eckstein (Ashmore)
SS: Freddy Sanchez (McDonough), Adam Everett (Ashmore)

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

All 15 Year Team: First Base

March 4, 2008

Thunder Thoughts look at the All 15 Year Team nominees continues with a look at the four finalists at first base.

David McDonough is the featured writer in our position-by-position breakdown of the Thunder’s All 15 Year Team, and has covered the team since their inception in 1994.  He brings a smooth writing style, and a knowledge of the team’s history and players that few others have.  In short, few are as qualified as he is to be doing this.

The following is Dave’s breakdown, mine will follow after all of his are done…
 
Tony Clark: The first franchise player in Thunder history, Tony was the face of the team in its first year, the one season of Tiger affiliation. You have to remember, that was a truly bad team, the worst ever at Waterfront. What a relief to get that designation over with in the first year! The team went 55-85 and finished 33 ½ games out of first. Even the 2002 team, which finished last and played at times with a less than full roster, won 63 games.
 
So all hail Tony Clark, who hit 21 homers and batted in 86 runs in 107 games, which was pretty good considering there was never anybody on base in front of him. He slugged at a .503 rate, and is also the first player to hit a ball into the Delaware, a grand-slam, I believe. And was a super guy with the fans, the media, and the community. No wonder his was the first number ever retired by the Thunder.
 
David Gibralter: Numbers can be deceiving. Yes, the Rock hit 24 homers and had 97 RBIs for the 1999 team. He hit .299 and had two grand slams that year.
 
But.
 
It was his third year in the Eastern League, and with the Thunder, and he had only been mildly successful in his first two years. He struck out a lot those years. And his 97 RBIs had a lot to do with having David Eckstein and Raul Gonzalez (who had a club record 103 RBIs) in front of him, and veteran Izzy (3 ½ minute home run trot) Alcantara behind him.
 
Gibralter had genuine power. I remember him hitting a ball up onto Rte 29 once. And he has the club record for grannies – five in three years. But basically I remember him as a guy who missed more than he hit, especially in the clutch. 1999 was a career year for him – he kicked around the minors for ten years without even getting out of Double-A.
 
Ryan McGuire: The best forgotten man of the Thunder, McGuire hit .333 in 414 at bats for the 95 team, the first year of the Red Sox affiliation. The 23-year-old had a good glove, too, but the 3rd round draft choice (out of UCLA) was overshadowed by other prospects, like Nomar Garciaparra and 20-year-old pitcher Jeff Suppan, who went straight from Trenton to the Red Sox, the first Thunder player to accomplish that.
 
Other factors have kept Ryan from looming large in Thunder fans’ memories. He had little power, only seven homers. Do I date myself if I compare him to Mark Grace? (I have to date myself, no one else will.) And 1995 was his last season in the Red Sox organization. The Red Sox had a pretty good hitting first baseman named Mo Vaughn, so McGuire was shipped off to the Montreal Expos in a deal that brought Wil Cordero to Boston. There was no place more obscure to play in the 1990s than Montreal. The other reason McGuire is forgotten is that he never hit in the big leagues. In parts of six seasons with the Expos, Mets, Marlins and Orioles, he hit a combined .211 in 368 games. He w as out of baseball by age 31, but he did have that good year in Trenton.
 
Shelley Duncan: There wasn’t one reporter out of Trenton who didn’t have a feel-good moment when Shelley Duncan hit a run-scoring single in his Yankees debut last July. It’s hard not to cheer when one of the good guys finally gets to the big leagues at age 27 – and proves he belongs there.

Shelley put up some good power numbers in his year and a half at Trenton – a league-leading 34 homers in 2005 and 19 homers in 92 games in 2006.
 
Now, let’s be honest – he was almost 26 when he got to Trenton and his average was never anything to brag about (.240 in 2005 and .256 in 2006). And he struck out 140 times in 2005. So he probably wasn’t the best first baseman ever to play here, and he’ll probably never play regularly in the big leagues. But he could be a really good role player for the Yankees and a really good clubhouse presence. You won’t meet anyone in baseball who doesn’t like Shelly.
 
Not on the ballot: Juan Diaz: Juan Carlos Diaz is one of those “What if?” players. He only played 50 games for the Thunder, but man, could he rake.

Diaz defected from Cuba in 1996, and was signed by the Dodgers. The big man (listed at 6’3, 230) clubbed a lot of homers in A ball before his contract was declared invalid for reasons that still remain obscure. The Red Sox signed him in 2000 and at 26, he found himself in Trenton, where for a month and a half he was unstoppable. In 198 at bats, he hit 17 homers, and had 53 RBI in those 50 games. He batted .313 and slugged at an alarming .652 rate. He hit one ball over the center field scoreboard that came down in Bordentown two days later. And Big Juan was surprisingly agile at first.
 
When the Red Sox promoted him to Triple A later that season, he continued to mash. He had 7 homers and 17 RBIs in 13 games before he smashed up his knee running the bases. He was out for the season, and, although no one knew it, it was a major downward turn. Over the off-season, Diaz, unable to exercise, discovered American fast food. He ballooned up over 260 pounds, and reported the next year vastly out of shape. He still had some power, but he wasn’t the same player, and he and his belly have been bouncing around baseball ever since. He’s been with a few organizations, has played Indy ball, and keeps being sighted in places like Mexico and, I think, Taiwan. He was 34 years old last Sunday. But for 50 games in the summer of 2000, he was as good a slugger as Trenton has ever seen.
 
Dave’s Vote Goes To: Tony Clark. You just can’t underestimate his impact in getting the franchise off to a successful start.

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: Some of these guys I’m pretty familiar with, and some of them I’m not.  I remember David Gibralter as one of the more popular players on the Thunder, saw Juan Diaz hit many a bomb in Trenton, and covered Shelley Duncan in Trenton in 2006 and occasionally in the big leagues in 2007.

Tony Clark: On the baseball side of things, Tony Clark was perhaps the only reason to come see the Trenton Thunder during their horrific 1994 season.  On a team that went a putrid 55-85, Clark was one of the few bright spots, hitting .279 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI.  Clark and Trever Miller are the only two players from that team still playing in the big leagues.

Clark recently signed a deal with the San Diego Padres, where he’ll likely come off the bench, as he’s done so successfully over the past few years.

David Gibralter: A disgusting, dirt covered game-used black Trenton Thunder hat sits on one of my shelves at home, a reminder of the guy who was greeted by loud cheers and came out to WWE wrestler The Rock’s entrance music.  “Gibralter” is written under the bill, and he then signed it for me when he returned for the 2000 season with the Bowie Baysox.  Seeing him in a uniform other than Trenton’s was odd, but perhaps harder to comprehend was that despite his big power numbers, (he hit 53 home runs in three seasons for Trenton) he never advanced to Pawtucket with the Red Sox, and only got one brief look at Triple-A in the Brewers organization.

After hitting 24 home runs for Trenton in 1999, “The Rock” was out of affiliated baseball by 2003.

Ryan McGuire: McGuire played just three seasons in the Red Sox farm system, and his 1995 season in Trenton was the last of those three.  He hit a career high .333 that year, and hit seven home runs and amassed 59 RBI.  Dealt to the Expos with other household names Shayne Bennett and Rheal Cormier, McGuire spent three seasons in Montreal before bouncing around with the Mets, Marlins and Orioles.  Perhaps somewhat ironically, he finished his career just a level away from returning to where it really began, as some of his last at-bats came with the Yankees organization as a member of Triple-A Columbus in 2003, the first year of Trenton’s affiliation with New York.

Shelley Duncan: Beloved by the front office, fans and media, Duncan hit 53 home runs over the course of two seasons for the Trenton Thunder.  His 34 longballs led the Eastern League in 2005, and Duncan was a catalyst on that year’s team, which ended the Thunder’s six-year playoff drought.

Duncan emerged as a team leader, and was one of the go-to guys for the media.  Soft-spoken, but always thoughtful, he was one of the more popular players on the team, and could frequently be seen mingling with fans or signing autographs down the first base line.

My fondest memory of Duncan is from the 2005 Eastern League Playoffs, when he was on base when Michael Coleman hit his walk-off home run to send the series to five games.  As Duncan was rounding the bases, he got so excited that he stopped and rolled around for a little bit, giddy that the series had been extended.  He has a genuine passion for the game and wants to win, and if the team were name the most popular player from their past 15 years, Duncan would have to be near or at the top of the list.

Not on the ballot: Shea Hillenbrand: OK, so Hillenbrand is on the ballot.  But just not at first base.  Listed as a third baseman, Hillenbrand actually played more games at first base (65) for the Thunder than he did at any other position (35 at third base and 55 at catcher).  Hildy and Damian Sapp were my favorite players on the 2000 team, and I was kind of disappointed to learn that most stories told about Hillenbrand’s time in Trenton were negative.  But I think that’s something I can expand on a bit when his name comes up on the third base ballot.

As I paid particularly close attention to Hillenbrand during the 2000 season, I can vividly remember watching him do extra work at first base with the coaching staff.  He’d never really played first base before, and I can remember them teaching him how to step into the throws from his fellow infielders so the ball would get there a split second quicker.

My Vote Goes To: Shelley Duncan.  This vote is as much for Duncan’s impact in the clubhouse as it is for what he did on the field. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

In the meantime…

January 3, 2008

As a reporter, but especially in my many years as a fan, you tend to notice that there are some things that some teams do better than others.  For example, the Thunder have consistently had the best giveaways in the area, and this season will be no different.  A steady supply of bobbleheads, player-themed giveaways, and of course the ever popular fireworks nights (a nightmare for the press for a variety of reasons, by the way) litter the Trenton schedule this season.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights…

April 10th: Fireworks and Desktop Championship Ring Replicas (First 2,000 fans)

April 14th: All 15 Year Team Card Pack, Volume One (First 1,500 fans)

April 25th: Thunder Championship Hats (First 1,500 fans)

April 26th: Joba Chamberlain Youth Jersey Night (First 1,000 fans, ages 5-15)

May 27th: Robinson Cano Bobbleheads (First 2,000 fans, ages 6 and up)

May 28th: Shelley Duncan Bobbleheads (First 2,000 fans, ages 6 and up)

June 10th: Yankee T-Shirt Night (First 1,000 fans)

June 11th: Bobblehead (to be determined) (First 2,000 fans, ages 6 and up)

June 12th: Camouflage Jersey Auction and Fireworks

June 20th: Thunder Card Set Giveaway (First 1,500 fans)

June 23rd: All 15 Year Team Card Pack, Volume Two (First 1,500 fans)

June 25th: Chien-Ming Wang Bobblehead (First 2,000 fans, ages 6 and up)

June 30th: All 15 Year Team Card Pack, Volume Three (First 1,500 fans)

July 3rd: American Flag Jersey Auction

July 8th: 15th Season Collectors Yearbook Night (First 1,500 fans, ages 18+)

July 9th: Phil Hughes Bobblehead (First 2,000 fans, ages 6 and up)

July 25th: Thunder Championship Banners (First 2,000 fans)

July 27th: Melky Cabrera Thunder Youth Jersey Night (First 1,500 fans, ages 5-15)

July 28th: All 15 Year Team Card Pack, Volume Four (First 1,500 fans)

July 30th: Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy Dual Bobblehead (First 2,000 fans, ages 6 and up)

August 8th: Tony Franklin Eastern League Champion Bronze Statue (First 2,000 fans)

August 13th: Ian Kennedy Bobblehead (First 2,000 fans, ages 6 and up)

August 20th: Bobblehead (to be determined) (First 2,000 fans, ages 6 and up)

August 31st: Fan Appreciation/Joba Chamberlain Player Statue (First 2,000 fans)

As you can see, there are quite a few neat items that the team is giving away this year, and there were a lot more that I didn’t mention.  Logo baseballs, other kids-themed giveaways and so on.  There are a bunch more fireworks nights as well, but again, fireworks are to my job are what someone like Lumberg from Office Space would be to yours.

Yeeeeeeeeeah, I’m gonna hafta go ahead and try to talk to you while loud explosions are going off in every direction, mmmmkay?  And then, if you could go ahead and make me listen to the audio of the conversation with the fireworks making loud popping noises in my ears so that it’s impossible to understand what you’re saying, that would be greeeeeeeeeat.

Anyway, my personal favorite of the bunch would have to be the Kennedy & Chamberlain dual bobblehead, that’s a pretty neat idea that’s been used by other teams in the minor leagues.

I do try to get as many items as I can — and to be clear, I get them by purchasing tickets like everybody else…the Thunder do not provide their giveaway items to the media as many teams do, the Yankees included — and if I get any extras, I might be able to give them away in some sort of contest depending on the popularity of this blog…so stay tuned for that.

For the complete schedule, check out the Thunder’s website.

Check back tomorrow for #20 in my countdown to the best moment for the Thunder in 2007.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com