Farewell, Steve Susdorf

We’ve been here before.  But, this one’s a bit different.

Steve Susdorf is a professional hitter. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Steve Susdorf is a professional hitter.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

“It can happen to you
It can happen to me
It can happen to everyone eventually

As you happen to say
It can happen today
As it happens
It happens in every way”

     –Yes
————

Part of our “mission” around here is to help folks get to know the players better.  “It’s more fun when you know who you’re cheering for” is part of my mantra.  But, in the world of Minor League sports, it means a lot of saying “hello” and a lot of saying “good-bye.”  And this one is a bit different.

In the short history of the IronPigs, since 2008, we’ve said good-byes to our favorite players before.  We said good-bye to Andy Tracy and Josh Fields at the end of seasons–when we knew change was coming and that rosters would inevitably turn over.  We said good-bye to Richie Thompson in the middle of the season, but with the consolation that he was getting the call to the Majors and realizing a goal that he’d been working toward for years.  We said good-bye to Jermaine Mitchell in the middle of the season, but we hadn’t known him for very long.

Now, we say good-bye to Steve Susdorf.  He’s been a member of the IronPigs family for the past three years, and one of the most consistent performers on the field.  He got the opportunity to play for the Phillies for a few games last season.  He has a .299 batting average, lifetime, in the Minor Leagues.  He had the best average of any IronPig this season, with over 150 at-bats.  And, ….

Well, there are baseball reasons.  And we’ll miss his production on the field and his contribution to the team. And we understand that sometimes this is about the Phillies and not about the IronPigs.  But this one is different because of the guy, too.  I think:  Steve has an appreciation for people that goes far beyond baseball.  Whether you’re a billion-dollar first baseman on rehab, or a schmuck who goes to too many IronPigs games, or a regular fan, or a Pastor or a parishioner, or a refugee–it doesn’t matter…. Steve has time for you.

A recent story:  Cheryl and I were recording some video pieces recently, before a home game.  I had wandered across the dugout to say hello to IronPigs radio producer Mark Perlman-Price.  As we concluded, and I stepped away, Steve appeared and said hello before I had an opportunity to say anything.  He easily could have waited for me to say something or for me to approach him.  He could have darted by and gone about his work.  After all, I was in his workplace, and it wasn’t an appropriate time for an interview or socializing.  But, he had time….

He had time, too, at a recent Saturday night Tiki/Trough party, to stop and say hello to DiPro, and Junior and myself.  He was with his wife Kelsey, and there were other players and wives and girlfriends around, but he seemed just as comfortable saying hello to us and spending a moment.

If you like, go back through our archives and re-watch the interviews and the “Day of DiPro” and all of that.  Or, better yet, click on this link to read more about Steve’s work in Haiti in the offseason:

http://bydavidwhite.com/2014/03/26/steve-susdorfs-true-mission-accomplished/

Here are some pictures from our archives.  We wish Steve well, of course, and we know he can hit.  He could land with an MLB team or an Independent team–but we know he’ll hit.  We also know he’ll touch lives wherever he lands on life’s journey.  His faith will guide him and everything will be OK.  I think Steve’s mission on this planet goes far beyond baseball, and the Horn and Bell Blog wishes him well and supports him in his life’s work, wherever that road may lead, baseball and beyond.  And if I’m not mistaken, there’s another auction scheduled for August 2, to benefit the Church in Haiti.  I hope that the IronPigs will continue with the auction as planned. I know we’ll be happy to support it.

susdorf

photo: Cheryl Pursell

Steve Susdorf:  "All he does is hit..." (c) Cheryl Pursell

Steve Susdorf: “All he does is hit…”
(c) Cheryl Pursell

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Susdorf Photo: DiPro

Susdorf
Photo: DiPro

@Kram209

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STEELHAWKS HEADED TO PIFL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!

Lehigh Valley Will Travel to Nashville for a Shot at the Title

Bethlehem, PA: The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (7-6) are headed to the PFIL championship for the first time in franchise history! They defeated the Trenton Freedom (8-5) 49-38 to claim the National Conference title on Saturday night. They will travel to Nashville who defeated the Columbus Lions 43-39 in the American Conference Final.

Tonight’s game was a defensive battle the entire time. The first half was back and forth; the score was tied three different times. Trenton was the first to put points on the board on the opening possession. The Steelhawks would waste no time in answering with a touchdown of their own when QB Shane McSweeny (16-24, 278 yards, 4tds, 30 yds rushing, 1 TD) found WR Troy Pascley (7 catches, 157 yards, 4 TDs) for a 40 yard touchdown completion; tying the game at seven. After having possession of the ball for almost four minutes, Trenton QB Warren Smith (24-41, 289 yds, 5tds) would find WR Maurice McDonald (4 catches, 68 yds, 2 td) for a touchdown to take the lead and an uno would extend that lead to eight. Lehigh Valley would be called on a holding penalty in their own endzone, resulting in a safety; and Trenton seemed to be building momentum. But it was short-lived. DB Leavander Jones (5 tackles, 2pbus) would catch Smith as he tried to escape the pocket forcing a turnover on downs and giving the Steelhawks the ball back as the first quarter came to a close.

The Steelhawks would begin their comeback in the second quarter. McSweeny would hit Pascley for another long touchdown catch early in the quarter to cut the Freedom’s lead to three. On Trenton’s next possession, LB Cory Darby (4.5 tackles, 1 int, 1 pbu) would level Smith when he tried a quarter back sneak into the endzone on fourth and one giving the Steelhawks the ball back. K Michael Barnard would hit a 23 yard field goal on the following possession to tie the game at 17. Lehigh Valley then took the lead when DB Dwayne Hollis (6.5 tackles, 1 int, 1 td) grabbed his 10th interception on the year (breaking the franchise’s all-time interception record) and returned it for a touchdown. Trenton would drive the length of the field and tie the game up at 24; and at halftime that’s where the game stood.

Both teams went scoreless in the third quarter as the defenses’ battled it out. Teams would trade long field goal attempts, but neither could connect. The action would pick back up in fourth however. The McSweeny and Pascley due struck again to give the Steelhawks the lead that they wouldn’t look back from. A Barnard uno put Lehigh Valley up by eight. The Steelhawks’ defense would make another big play when DL Michael Woodhouse (3 tackles, 1tfl) tipped the ball at the line and Darby came up with his first interception of the year. Lehigh Valley would capitalize on the turnover and put three points on the board off the leg of Barnard. With 9:26 left on the clock the Steelhawks led, 35-24. Trenton would keep fighting, Smith and McDonald would combine for another Freedom touchdown, but their two point conversion attempt was unsuccessful. As the clock ran down, McSweeny would use his athletic ability on the ground and scrap his way into the endzone from two yards out giving the Steelhawks a more comfortable lead, 42-30. With 1:23 left in the game, Trenton would find the endzone again when Smith lofted a pass to Landis Williams. Williams would be on the receiving end of the two point conversion, cutting the Steelhawks lead back to four. With 42 seconds left, McSweeny would find Pascley for his fourth touchdown of the game, this one a 45 yard bomb that would seal the deal for the Steelhawks. The game would end with the final score of: Steelhawks 49, Freedom 38.

The PIFL championship will be next weekend inside the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, July 12th at 8pm EST. The Steelhawks will be posting updates on Facebook and Twitter for all fans back in the Valley. Live streaming of the game will be announced later this week.

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Confidence Meter: IronPigs Bull Pen

I’ve been mostly Bull-ish on the Pigs pitchers this season, but lately I’m wavering. Let’s see where the relievers stand on Independence Day:

Luis Garcia: 92
It could be even higher, but he has put some guys on base lately and he’s had some spectacular failures with the big team. I’m a little uneasy. But only a little.

Tyler Knigge: 90
He’s performed more than admirably lately including some leverage situations. The last poor outing I recall was after he pitched 4+ innings in two days.

Cesar Jimenez: 88
He’s had a couple hiccups. I still believe in him.

Phillipe Aumont: 68
He’s had a couple really nice outings until tonight. But when it goes wrong it does so spectacularly. Wild pitches and walks to go with plenty of hits.

Jeremy Horst: 65
It feels kinda shaky even with some of the better innings. I hope he can get it back.

Hector Neris: 63
He’s had a couple really bad outings lately, following some strong work. I hope he’s OK.

Ethan Martin: 40
I believe in him and I believe in his talent. He’s got to get his mojo back.


The confidence meter reflects my current feeling about their performance. Of course it is fluid and subject to change with each outing, and subjective in nature.

@Kram209

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YCPB – I Had It All Figured Out

YCPB

I saw the acronym written the other day, and I had to look it up.  But more on that later…

I thought I had things figured out.  As Grady Sizemore came to the plate Wednesday night to lead off the game, sporting a near-.300 average but having hit only singles, I explained it to Junior:  “See, son, he’s getting himself ready for the Majors.  He wants to see lots of pitches, and it’s getting him behind in counts, so he has to shorten his swing.”

Grady goes to 0-2, having looked at the first two pitches.

“See, son, now he’ll have to…”

YCPB = You Can’t Predict Baseball

Or, maybe I’m just wrong. But Grady put the 0-2 pitch in the trough and so it went. I tried to explain how lefties were going to hit Jason Marquis hard, but Junior was hearing none of it. Neither was Jason, as the 1-0 lead held up until another adventurous Ethan Martin outing later in the game.  “Mr. Clutch” Leandro Castro hit an infield single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth for the walk-off.  It’s just about my favorite thing about going to the park every night–the chance to see the walk-off.

Here are some Cheryl Pursell photos from Wednesday–Thursday was rained out–and stay tuned afterwards for some quick updates:

Sizemore turns on an inside pitch for an 0-2 lead-off HR Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Sizemore turns on an inside pitch for an 0-2 lead-off HR
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

More Sizemore.  Could be the last time we'll see him at The Coke. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

More Sizemore. Could be the last time we’ll see him at The Coke.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Lars Davis with his first AAA base knock.   Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Lars Davis with his first AAA base knock.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Could be the last time for Marquis, as well.  A nice job, but one has to wonder how it will translate to the next level. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Could be the last time for Marquis, as well. A nice job, but one has to wonder how it will translate to the next level.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Marquis benefited from some really nice defense:  A perfect 5-4-3 started by a Franco dive.  A Murphy dive which could have been a double.  And, this 6-4-3 featuring the bare-handed exchange by Tyler Henson. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Marquis benefited from some really nice defense: A perfect 5-4-3 started by a Franco dive. A Murphy dive which could have been a double. And, this 6-4-3 featuring the bare-handed exchange by Tyler Henson.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Knigge continues to impress. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Knigge continues to impress.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Ethan continues to struggle. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Ethan continues to struggle.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Big Tyler Henson Knock in the 10th Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Big Tyler Henson Knock in the 10th
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Sizemore not "big-leagueing" us--putting it all out there in the field. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Sizemore not “big-leagueing” us–putting it all out there in the field.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Franco with a 4-4 day:  It was all singles, but he's seeing the good pitches and getting good contact. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Franco with a 4-4 day: It was all singles, but he’s seeing the good pitches and getting good contact.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

"3-2-1 Castr-OFF!" (c) PigsRadio Photo: Cheryl Pursell

“3-2-1 Castr-OFF!”
(c) PigsRadio
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

The mob searches out Castro for walk-off celebraish Photo: Cheryl Pursell

The mob searches out Castro for walk-off celebraish
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

And they got him... Photo: Cheryl Pursell

And they got him…
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

The ‘Pigs are beginning a 10-day road trip to Rochester, Indianapolis and Louisville–and then head right into the All Star Break.  Only Luis Garcia is going from the ‘Pigs.  It will be two weeks until we see them again, for a quick two-game set versus Syracuse on July 17 and 18.

A full report on our game in Moosic is forthcoming.  I loaded all of Cheryl’s photos and now only need to tell the story.  It was a great time, had by all. Well, except a guy named Rob.  We’ll get to that.

Following the Moosic game report will be an epilogue–a report on the money we raised for Choroideremia research.

Now, back to the IronPigs game on my phone:  The ‘Pigs are in the process of gacking up a 6-2 lead via questionable pitching by Hector Neris.  It appears he was left in too long, and Phillippe Aumont has been brought in to put out the fire.  So I’m trying to say we’re losing 8 to 6 right now.

Have a great 4th everyone, see you at the park eventually,

@Kram209

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Today’s The Day: Join Us to #InvadeMoosic –Support #IronPigs and @AngelsForMark and @ChoroideremiaRF

shirtfront_draft

Tickets and alternate T-Shirts remain for our trip to Moosic today.  Please consider joining us even if you haven’t already.  Just drive up there and find us.  T-Shirts and Tickets to benefit Choroideremia.org (100% of what we collect!)

 

Directions:  Set your GPS for:  235 Montage Mountain Road, Moosic PA.  Or, type that in to Google Maps before you go.  Figure on 1hr, 20mins travel time.

 

Tailgate:  Lots open at 5PM, although we may begin a bit early.  Tailgating is at the direction of the parking staff, but my experience is this:  There is one main access road to the stadium and parking.  I believe we’ll be to the left, and again to the left.  In any case, look for the flags.  Email: KramOf209@gmail.com or Twitter @Kram209 if needed.  Tailgate will break up around 6:30 or so to make our way to the stadium.

 

Soccer:  Word is, there’s a soccer game.  We’ll have it on the radio during the tailgate if possible.

 

Menu: Hamburgers and Hot Dogs.  Sodas and Water.

 

What to Bring:  Bring your shirt if you already have it. Bring your ticket if you have it.  Bring your bells and horns.  Bring your preferred soda or water if needed for the tailgate.  Bring a folding chair for the tailgate, if you need one.

 

See you in Moosic,

@Kram209

PS:  Pigs won 9-7 last night.  IronRail stands at 7-4 Pigs.

 

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Roster Stuff: Ray-Willie Edition

Earlier today, I mentioned the Ronny Cedeno move:  Ronny was outrighted to the IronPigs between games on Saturday from the Phillies.  During his election/report time he was subsequently traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Catcher Raywillie Gomez.  RayWilly was then assigned to Reading–he had been with AA and AAA with Arizona, but had not had any at-bats with AAA.  Thus, C Lars Davis remains with the IronPigs.  He’s yet to make an appearance–even with the day game yesterday–Sebastian Valle is our everyday catcher.

Sean O’Sullivan is assigned back to the ‘Pigs via DFA following his stint over the weekend in South Philly. Luis Garcia the same via option.  Andres Blanco gets the call–a return to the Bigs for the first time since 2011 with Texas.  He had played parts of six seasons in the Majors from 2004 to 2011 with the Royals, Cubs and Rangers.  Congrats to “Let’s Go” Blanco. Blanco becomes the primary back-up for Jimmy Rollins.

Matt Tolbert was activated from the IronPigs DL and assigned to Reading.  Edgar Duran returns to the ‘Pigs from Reading.

The IronPigs roster now stands at the IL maximum of 25–prior to O’Sullivan reporting.  If Sean accepts the assignment, a corresponding move will need to be made.  Reading is at 23, so it probably means a trip South on 222 for somebody.

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Lost in Translation: Pigs Dump Third Straight 1-Run Game

The IronPigs pounded out 11 hits and received 7 free passes, yet it didn’t translate into a win yesterday afternoon at Coca Cola Park as the Pigs went down 6-5.

Spears, from Saturday.  He's been hitting very well of late.

Spears, from Saturday. He’s been hitting very well of late. Photo: Cheryl Pursell

The league-best record in 1-run games is taking a hit now.  While the good guys won one on this past four-game, two-team set, they’ve now gone down by that count three times in a row.  Perhaps regression to the mean.  Perhaps just lack of attention to detail for the pitching, fielding and base-running.  Add in 12 left on base yesterday and it’s not a formula for winning.  However, guys are playing hard, new faces are settling into roles, and I predict a hot streak to come.

Player Notes:

Grady Sizemore has been leading off, and had a DH-day yesterday as a break from CF.  I’d expect to see him back in CF every day until perhaps another break during the Rochester-then-West massive road trip which starts July 4.  I totally get the July 14 opt-out (unofficial) but I wonder if he noticed the amount of minor league travel he was in for.  He’s been playing hard, and went 2-4 yesterday but left four on base.  He’s hitting .308 with the small sample.  I predict that his timing will continue to improve and we’ll see more power numbers shortly.

Tyler Henson has been less sharp of late.  While he’s been our most reliable hitter through the 2014 season he left seven on base during a 1-for-5 day hitting second.  His average is down to .261.  I’m hoping to see a resurgence on the road trip and would consider perhaps another spot in the order temporarily.

Maikel Franco had an 0-for-5 day leaving 5 on base. He didn’t strike out at all; however, some at-bats have looked better than others.  Like Leandro Castro, it sometimes feels like he’s trying to hit home runs too much.  Franco seems like a happy-go-lucky player, and pretty laid back, but–and remember, no one ever asked me to give psychological advice to baseball players, or anyone else for that matter–I’d tell him to relax and hit the ball hard.  Some of them will go out.  No need to take crazy swings.  Just ask Sebastian Valle, who seems to be really squaring the ball up well, lately.  Two strikeouts yesterday notwithstanding.  One was on an 0-2 pitch which he chased, but otherwise he seems to be having good at-bats and finding good pitches to hit.  It’s good to see, and worlds better than his stint with the ‘Pigs in 2012.

Valle Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Valle
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

And Leandro Castro had another good day in the stat book.  He’s beginning to use his good approach hitting lower in the order, but will occasionally forget everything and swing for the fences.  And, he’ll lose concentration on the base-paths and in the field.  He’ll need to dial up that part of his game if he wants to make it on the next level.  And he should keep in mind that there may be some openings in that Phillies outfield if things keep up.

Nate Spears is playing really well.  He held down Shortstop yesterday after having not played there in a game for a couple years.  He went 2-for-2 with 2 BB, 2 runs, and 2 RBI.  He runs well and should probably be leading off, or at least hitting in the top 3.

Jim Murphy, who was not supposed to play yesterday until Cam Perkins’ paperwork didn’t come through, has been having better at-bats lately.  I’d like to see him get a couple dingers up in Scranton these next two days.  He’s having better at-bats and striking out less of late.  It could be the days off helping him, or a drop in the order taking the pressure off.  Despite an 0-for-3 day yesterday, he hit the ball hard and drew 2 BB.

Barry Enright and Chris Bootcheck are two of my favorite players on the team.  However, both are starting to give up more hard contact than I’d like.  Some of the hits have been weak-contact, lucky grounders.  Still, the HR’s are troubling.  Both guys are veterans, though, who don’t need me telling them what to do.  I’m confident they’ll make some adjustments and put forth their best to keep the ball in the park as much as possible.

Ethan Martin is rounding back into form.  He had a nice inning, but when he came out for another found himself in a bit of trouble.  Young players need to play–that’s what the minors are for–and I look forward to his continued improvement.  Still, it was good to see him look better than the two recent disaster outings.

Phillippe Aumont had been battling some finger tendonitis, but pitched really well over 2.1 Saturday night, in a game the RailRiders were threatening to run away with.  The Pigs were able to pull within one late thanks to the shutdown stuff from the Big Canadian.  His heater is around 91 right now, but he had reasonable command of it the other night.  It must have been moving around a bit, too, as the RailRider hitter had a lot of difficulty getting a bat even near it.  His 84MPH breaking pitch is still somewhat of an adventure for the catcher and the fans sitting nearby.  However, it was keeping the hitters honest and no one was getting any kind of contact on it, either.

The “Kram” Lineup:

1. Spears SS

2.  Sizemore CF

3. Susdorf DH

4. Perkins LF

5. Murphy 1B

6. Valle C

7. Castro RF

8. Franco 3B

9. Canzler 2B

….giving Henson a day off.

Russ Canzler Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Russ Canzler
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

Tonight in Moosic, Brad Lincoln takes the mound.  Hopefully a good performance if his legs are feeling OK and he’s out to prove that he should have had the opportunity to pitch in Philly Saturday night.  More on our trip to Moosic coming up later today.

@Kram209

PS:  Farewell to Ronny Cedeno who was traded to Arizona for a catcher not named Tuffy Gosewisch.  Hopefully they have someone there to help him with his bags.   Photo: Cheryl Pursell

PS: Farewell to Ronny Cedeno who was traded to Arizona for a catcher not named Tuffy Gosewisch. Hopefully they have someone there to help him with his bags.
Photo: Cheryl Pursell

 

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