Welcome to the first incarnation of IronPigs Today, a new, shorter, daily column to get you ready for IronPigs home games.
Most days throughout the year, I find myself in some type of conversation about the IronPigs. There are questions which come up, time and time again. I’ve also noticed that some of the longer form blog pieces are harder to digest if you’re reading them on your phone or on the go–plus they take longer to produce. The daily update–on home game days–will serve to answer the questions you might have about the day’s game, and update you on what’s going on about the park on a game-to-game basis. There will be links in cases where you might want more information. Other longer pieces will be interspersed. Here we go:
1. An Excellent Cheryl Pursell Photo
Expect to see one (oh, I have plenty to choose from..) excellent Cheryl Pursell photo in each column. Want to see more? Follow her on Twitter @CherylPursell . We’ll have more, and photo essays, and whatnot as well, but for the daily column I’ll likely try to limit myself to using just one per. I might not always be successful!
Jake Thompson, above, is today’s starter for the ‘Pigs, and a top-3 prospect in the Phillies system. He came over from the Rangers as the top pitching prospect in the haul for Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman–not to take anything away from Jerad Eickhoff after last night’s performance!
2. “How are they doing this season?”
I hear this question a lot. Even if you’re a fan who goes to all the games, you still need to be caught up on what happened on the road trip, what kind of streak the team might be on, and where they are in the standings. We’re expecting to make a run at the playoffs this season, so we’ll need to pay attention (I hope.)
The Pigs return from Rochester having taken two out of the three games. They could have had all three if they hadn’t choked one away yesterday. They are now 2-3 on the season. It’s too early to look at standings and such, and it’s a long season. However, it is important at this juncture that they not dig a hole too deep to climb out of over the summer (see also: Phantoms, Lehigh Valley).
What can you expect this season? The one thing I feel perfectly comfortable saying, is that they should be in almost every game: The five starters in the rotation are all “top-notch” and while a clunker of a game could always happen, expect less of those than in years gone by.
3. “Who’s on the team this season?”
I’m expecting to hear a version of this in my section tonight. “Who are these guys?” “Why don’t they bring in guys I know?” “Where the heck is Andy Tracy this season?”
As the season goes on, expect me to update you in this section, on the individual players, how they’re doing, and any roster moves you need to know about.
In his pre-season press conference, Manager Dave Brundage was greeted by a member of the media with, “Skip, you’ve got a lot of new players on the team this season.”
His reply was classic, “I’d better. We were, what, 20-some games under .500 last season. I’d better have some new players.”
To familiarize yourself with the roster, here’s the pre-season roster post, along with player capsules and photos on every single player. There’s already been a roster move, as Frieri was jettisoned for Reinier Roibal.
Here’s a printable roster to take to the game: 2016 LHV Roster-4-5
Also in this section, “Who’s Hot and Who’s Not.”
Lough: 4/6 yesterday, .385 on the season
Knapp: .444 on the season, .615 OBP, 1.393 OPS
Featherston: 3/3 yesterday, .444 on the season
Joseph: .700 SLG
Thompson: 1.80 ERA
LaFramboise: 0.00 ERA
Araujo: 0.00 ERA
Bailey: 0.00 ERA
Venable: .000 average
Mujica: 32.40 ERA, blew the save yesterday
Garcia: ∞ ERA
I’ll let you know who’s starting each game: Jake Thompson will face our old friend Sean (“SOS”) O’Sullivan tonight as the Pawtucket Red Sox are in town.
4. “What’s Going On At The Park?”
As we all know, and IronPigs game day is about a lot more than just the baseball game. Less important, yes, so listed fourth in our order of things.
Today is the Home Opener for season 9 of IronPigs baseball at Coca Cola Park. Gates open at 5:00PM for a Happy Hour which will run until 7:00PM–$1 hot dogs and $2 domestics. A fleece blanket giveaway sponsored by our friends at Service Electric (so you know the quality will be good) for the first 3,000 adults (expect lines; expect to get there early if you want a fleece).
I would also expect the normal pomp and circumstance of an opening day, with player intos, and the like. Plus, take notice of some of the new stuff around the park: new signage, new sponsors, new food items (our preview HERE), and some new merch in the store. Will they have the new jerseys out yet? We’ll have to check. Also, expect concession lines to be long–folks have gone all winter with no ballpark food and I expect we’ll all need some tonight. Plus, the new POS (point of service) system they’ve installed will take a bit to get used to for the employees. Please be patient, once things get ironed out, it should be much more efficient and consistent than in years past.
Remember, if you’re a season ticket holder, you have loaded credit on your tickets, and you might have a free night in the PicNic Patio tonight–or coming up soon.
Expect to see the Flyers on TV tonight–at least on the club bar TV’s. At field level, I’d try to see if they’ll put it on a screen or two out at the Tiki.
5. Quote of the Day
We’ll lead off with this as is my usual nature, but today it appears here:
Throw your love around, love me, love me
Take it into town, happy, happy
Put it in the ground where the flowers grow
Gold and silver shine”
Where I think you might want more info, I’ll post links instead of regurgitating. Sometimes the links will be to our previous work, other times to some of our favorite beat writers who cover the team on a daily basis as well.
Today, I’m posting links to our “interview series.” Cheryl and I interviewed a few key players on Media Day. I could just embed the videos, but each post contains a little intro, as I tried to make the interviews interesting, and I thought there was a story to tell in each case. Some of them worked out better than others, but that’s how it goes sometimes. The videos themselves are short–just a chance to hear something interesting from each, and get to know them a little better. Plus Kurt Landes and most of the Brundage presser.
7. Emotional Unloading
Finally, I’ll give you a mostly-unfiltered take on how I feel going into each night’s (day’s) game.
I feel good today. I got to see a nice win in Reading last night, as JP Crawford and Christian Marrero went yard. Ben Lively looked really good on the mound–better than last season. It looks like he’s lost some weight, and gained some control of his breaking pitch, compared to when we saw him last year.
The win last night took the sting out of the way the ‘Pigs crapped away the game in Rochester yesterday afternoon: It was good to see them hitting the ball, and with a chance to sweep, but having the ‘pen blow it like that was difficult. I expect it will happen again, in Reading, here, and in Philly this season. Hopefully not too much. We’ve heard that we have an experienced bullpen this season, but that ignores the fact that these guys are here for a reason: They couldn’t win an MLB job in spring training. Let’s hope a few of them step up, and help both teams!
For the ‘Pigs, I’m excited to see Jake pitch again–I saw him Friday–in front of fans this time, in non-freezing temps. Go Pigs. Oink on. Go Hog Wild. Laugh, Cheer, Oink. Pig Out. Pigs Fly in Bacon USA!
So that’s over 1400 words, but normally it will be about a third of this. Enjoy the game tonight, folks.