Postcards from Surprise (The First)

Periodically throughout Spring Training we’ll check in with the Rangers over in Surprise, AZ.  It’s a segment we’ll call ‘Postcards from Surprise.’  In today’s edition we take a look at a links parade of happenings for some former and maybe future Pelicans over the last few days.

Lots of fodder about mega-prospect Jurickson Profar.  The 18-year-old shortstop enters the season as Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect in the organization.  One of the biggest questions about Profar is whether or not he remains at short with Elvis Andrus locked up for the foreseeable future.

FS Southwest: Profar Doesn’t Mind Switching Positions

Profar pops up on a USA Today top prospect list along with pitcher Cody Buckel, a fellow teen.

USA TODAY: Masterball’s Top Prospects

There’s also been a lot of talk about the $100 million man, Yu Darvish.  He threw in camp a few times over the last few days and faced several former and future Pelicans.  Profar and Ryan Strausborger faced Darvish and lived to tell the tale.  Scroll about halfway down through the article below for the details.

FW Star-Telegram: Yu Darvish Main Attraction as Rangers Work Out for First Time

Mike Olt was also one to face Darvish.  The former Pelicans third baseman was all compliments about the newest Ranger.  Future Pelican Jake Skole also hit off Darvish.

SportsdayDFW: Mike Olt on Yu Darvish

Mainichi Daily News: Darvish Throws 2nd BP

The Rangers have also set their pitchers for intersquad games coming up with several former and future Birds among the group.  Wilmer Font, Robbie Ross, Matt West, Miguel De Los Santos, and Roman Mendez are all expected to pitch.

FW Star Telegram: Foul Territory (scroll to bottom)

Pitcher Matt West hasn’t always been a pitcher.  The ’07 second round pick began his career at third base but could never hit his way out of Low-A.  Last season he ditched the bat for a ball and started throwing in the high 90’s.  Now he’s the 10th best prospect in the system by Baseball America and could be Myrtle Beach’s closer this year.

FW Star Telegram: Prospect Matt West on His Conversion to Pitching

ESPN Dallas: Matt West Impresses Scouts, Hitters

Till Next Time,

Joel

Beachbound & Down: Retiring from Acting

Casting call on the second day of shooting was a much more normal 12pm.  I can do noon.  What nobody quite knew at that point was that shooting would end up going until 4am Wednesday.  Luckily for me, I was done just past 6pm.

So day two…Well it started with work.  I got dressed and ate breakfast as normal and went into work until about 11:55.  I actually got a lot done, so it was a good day.

Some filming took place outside the stadium

 After leaving the pressbox I proceeded out to the tents in the parking lot and back to wardrobe.  I got my uniform back sans socks.  They were still in the process of washing our red leggings, so I kept my black dress socks on, dressed and headed to the dugout.  My team started trickling in and were all settled by about 12:45.  Then the waiting game began.  Well, waiting and sock hunting.

As my team began arriving in the dugout I noticed some of them began to have socks on.  Me, being the guy wearing high socks for maximum TV visibility, needed to find out where they got those socks from.  Turns out the laundry was done, so I trekked out to the back parking lot to pick up the final piece of my costume.  This, by the way, was about a 5-7 minute walk.  The wardrobe area was a long ways away from the visiting dugout.

Here’s where it gets fun.  If I walk all the way out to get my socks, conventional wisdom says what?  You guessed it…somebody else had walked the socks to the dugout.  So I went back to the dugout, only to find the socks had been walked back out to wardrobe.  So back to wardrobe I went, this time in receipt of socks…20 minutes later.

Shooting didn’t start until at least 1:30 and involved scenes at home plate.  It was mostly about getting different shots and angles on Kenny Powers pitching to various members of our team in a climactic moment of the show.  I was not a hitter or a baserunner in the scene, so I was in the dugout.  I’m also pretty sure they didn’t shoot the dugout, so I don’t think I made the cut for this part.

Having fun in the dugout during filming

What was outstanding about this part of filming was that the crew and cameras lined the infield from about shortstop to first base.  Keep in mind they were shooting a hitter…who would be hitting the ball right back at them.  The goal here was to hit the ball to an opening or at a guy with a glove placed around the infield.  But there were still holes.  Needless to say, the first hitter hit a absolute missile down the first base line and right over the top of what I presume is expensive equipment…but as NBC’s Len Berman says, “Nobody got hurt.”

Now, just because they didn’t explicitly shoot the dugout during all this didn’t mean some of us in the dugout didn’t do our best to get in front of the camera.  One of our team’s “coaches” and I stood all the way to the right of the dugout (by the stairs).  We began watching our “teammates” batting, and we did it very intently.  I even shook my cap back and forth in front of the dugout netting like I was hoping for a rally.  Our goal here was two-fold:  1) we were bored and this gave us something to do and 2) maybe our antics would get picked up in the corner of a wide shot.

Eventually we gave up our pursuits to capture the camera’s eye and the waiting game picked up again.  There was some friendly chatter in the dugout.  Some of us walked out to the concourse to ravage the food table (thank goodness for Otis Spunkmeyer).  Then we started posing for pictures in the dugout (we may as well have some memories of our TV stardom) and we also watched paint dry.  That is not a sarcastic comment.  We actually watched paint dry.

While the shoot was going on out on the field, some members of the crew began preparing the dugout for the night’s shoot when the ballpark would be converted into another stadium.  In order to create a change of scenery without actually changing venue, paint became involved.  The crew rolled out a type of contact paper along the back wall of the dugout and painted it green.  So yeah, we actually did watch paint dry.

So day two was not as exciting as day one, kind of anticlimactic actually, but it was still a fun experience altogether.  When push comes to shove I was still an extra in a major television show and I still got a free ticket to have access to the set, see the stars of the show up close, and watch the magic of Hollywood take place before my eyes.  If you told me to do it again would mean 16 hours of standing around and two hours of actual activity, I’d still probably jump at the chance.  How many opportunities could I possibly have to be a part of something like that?  Now comes the fun part — watching TV and looking for myself!

Beachbound & Down: Joel Becomes an Extra

I’m not a professional baseball player.  But I do play one on TV.

After Sunday’s debut of Eastbound & Down’s third season, the world now knows Myrtle Beach is a large focal point of the show.  The illustrious Kenny Powers does, after all, play for the fictitious Myrtle Beach Mermen, the Double-A affiliate of the ambiguously dubbed ‘Texas’ big league team.

Kenny Powers plays at Pelicans Ballpark in season three

What most people don’t know, however, is that even though the show premiered Sunday, it wasn’t done filming.  Danny McBride and cast were back at Pelicans Ballpark Monday morning to sure up some scenes.  In order to do that they needed extras.  They needed fans.  They needed baseball players.  They needed…check that.  They ended up with, me.

The buzz was swirling around our office at the end of last week that Eastbound & Down needed some extras.  I figured, why not throw in my name?  My acting experience is fairly illustrious (note the hint of written sarcasm).  I appeared in a musical with Anne Hathaway when I was in fifth grade and starred as Nathan Detroit in 8th grade’s Guys and Dolls.  My baseball experience comes in at an slightly lower level.  I finished playing as a high school freshman after batting just .100.  I made contact twice all season, both base hits sure, but I struck out or walked in every other plate appearance.  It was time to hang them up.

This was a perfect match…or so I told myself.

In order to apply as an extra you have to start by sending an email to a casting agency.  I sent in all my the essentials: name, age, phone number, baseball experience, measurements and pictures.  Again, I’m not an actor.  I don’t have professional photos.  So I took my headshot, a picture of me on TV and a picture of me playing wiffle ball and hit send.  I thought the wiffle ball shot may give an overblown idea of my athletic ability.

To my surprise they called back on Friday, I confirmed on Saturday and on Sunday I got my crew call for Monday: 5:30am.  I was geeked.  So geeked I set seven different alarms to make sure I’d get up on time.  Once 4:30 rolled around I was up and showered, dressed, fed and out the door by 5:15.  Surprisingly I was one of the first extras to arrive around 5:20.  I met another extra on the way in who had done this thing before.  He operated the planetarium in the Hallmark Hall-of-Fame movie ‘A Smile as Bright as the Moon.’  My mother saw that movie so I knew what it was and was either impressed or mildly intimidated…maybe a little both.

Around six o’clock we began filling out paperwork and were split away into a corner if we were there to be a baseball playing extra.  One very cool word followed that separation: wardrobe.  I mean, what’s more Hollywood than being told that you have to go to wardrobe?  It was less glamorous than it sounds.  Wardrobe, in this case, meant a U-Haul and a check-in table.  Each of us was handed a full uniform.  I got No. 75…I believe the highest number handed out.  In baseball terms that’s usually a bad thing, but in this case it’s also Barry Zito’s number and he’s rich, so let’s call it a wash.

The Myrtle Beach Mermen fans.  Courtesy of Chuck Greenberg.

Thus begins the hurry up and wait of TV.  At this point it’s nearing 7:00am.  For nearly the next three hours the crew shot the same minute long scene from every conceivable angle.  The crowd extras began in one location and moved to another and another and another.  At this point I think it’s also important to point out that not everybody in the crowd was an extra.  There were, I don’t know, several hundred inflatable bodies in the stands.  They didn’t have arms or legs, just torsos with blank faces.  In order to make the dummies look more realistic there were what looked like rubber masks and fake hair put on the faces and clothing on the bodies.  I’m pretty sure one was Voldemort because it only had two slits for a nose.  Bottom line, the mannequins looked incredibly real.  EVERY time I looked at the dummies I thought they were people, even though by about seven o’clock I should have seen it coming.  What got really mindboggling was when you could hear noises from the extras in the crowd but turned around and only saw mannequins.  It was like a bad horror movie.

During this entire part of the shoot I had no role.  That means my job was to hang out and watch, which could get very boring very fast, but there were some cool aspects of note.  First off, I never realized how many different angles people shoot things from, and how many takes they need to get those shots.  I just always assumed there were a ton of cameras.  We had the unofficial over-under in the dugout at 10 takes for that first shot.  The over won by so much Vegas cried.  Secondly, when people flub a line, they don’t stop and start the whole thing over.  They stop in their tracks, pause and restart that particular line like nothing ever happened.  Finally, the weather was very cold.  It was three degrees Celsius when we started the shoot and about five Celsius by lunch.  Shooting baseball in such weather is not easy — remember there are short sleeves/tank tops etc involved.

Also, one of the things you instantly notice about staged crowd cheering, booing, sign holding and reaction is that it can look incredibly fake in real life.  Don’t let that fool you.  I’m watching the filming in the stands and thinking to myself, “there is no way this will look real on television.”  Then I went home and rewatched episode one of the season and studied the crowd.  They were doing all the same mannerisms and it looked authentic.  Amazing how that works out.

By the time 11:30 hit the first series of shoots concluded for that first scene and it was time to take up some baseball action.  That means it was time for all of us, sitting in the dugout for the last three-plus hours, to do something.  The crew selected three of the guys on our team to be on the field.  Two ran the bases and one was at-bat.  The rest of us were to stand in the dugout and be “in the game.”  Easy enough.  Then came the call for three guys to go down to the bullpen and faux warm-up.  How realistic is a baseball field with empty pens?

Wanting to do something more than look interested, in addition to the fact that I’m the type that volunteers for stuff they don’t know in order to just stay active, I jumped at the chance to go to the ‘pen.  This was my shining moment.  For the next hour, two other guys and myself threw, and threw and threw and threw.  Two of us threw off the mounds with the third serving as a catcher for both.  So if you’re watching Eastbound & Down this season and you look into the Pelicans Ballpark bullpen and see a righty throwing in knee-high red sox, that’s me.  I was the only guy on the team with high socks, so if you see that guy anywhere, it’s probably me.  Hiking up my socks was my moment of cunning.

Killing some time up on the concourse

At about 12:30, with the temperature up to a more comfortable range, say six or seven degrees Celsius, we broke for lunch.  It was pretty good chow with pasta, salad and a cake that was having a chocolate/carrot identity crisis but was still solid.  At lunch I ate with two of the extras that played for the Myrtle Beach Mermen.  One was a former basketball player at Virginia Tech and the other was a, I guess we could say career extra.  We started talking about his past and what he does and it’s quite remarkable.  I’m not purporting to know his whole life story, but it was interesting to hear about how a guy builds up through smaller extra roles to get some speaking roles in other projects.  He’d also done some work on One Tree Hill among other things.  It was neat insight and kind of gave me a small snapshot on how people battle to rise in the TV game.

After lunch it was back to the field, the sun now fully out and the temperature up to a comfortable 51 degrees.  It was back to the bullpen for more throwing while more filming on the field took place.  Eventually the old arm started to tire a bit and the over-the-top motion turned to a lobbing sidearm and submarine sometimes just for fun.  Our baseball mannerisms became more pronounced to kill more time as well.  After each pitch there was a walk to the back of the mound to clean cleats, then you stretch you arms and tuck the front of your jersey in a little more, adjust the belt, walk to the front of the mound, receive the ball from the catcher, walk back up the mound, go to your mouth to wet a couple fingers, signal fastball to the catcher and stride home.  I felt like my middle finger was going to blister by the end of it all.

While we’re pitching away several different things were going on.  There were wide shots and close-ups and staged shots etc.  Again, interesting to see how the progression of shooting goes and how many people it takes to shoot.  There’s your camera men, your lighting guys, guys that have no other job than to hold the reflectors that give the camera a better picture.  It’s legitimately a huge production.

By 2:45 our time in the bullpen was done.  Filming moved back to the stands and we went back to the dugout.  We waited…and waited…and waited.  At 6:45pm we were finally wrapped and our day was done.  The final four hours were funny at times, many of the players on our team were asleep in the dugout, trying to find ways to pass the time.  It also became much more informal and many of the baseball extras began to congregate on the field behind the crew, watching shooting unfold.  It was pretty sweet watching Danny McBride and Jody Hill viewing the shooting and giving instructions into the stands.  Directions got relayed to the actors through a megaphone one line or action at a time — an interesting look into the ad-libbing of the show.

But I didn’t just spend four hours watching a few people huddled around a monitor (and some crew members eating off a veggie platter — another cool note — there were crew that had  food plates, kind of like at a Bar Mitzvah, but not really).  I also met Willie James and the body double for Kenny Powers during that dead time.  James is a former Pelican, hired by the show as a baseball stand-in.  We’re talking about a guy who played in the Braves system with Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Gregor Blanco, Jose Capellan, Martin Prado, Elvis Andrus, Diory Hernandez and on down the list.  His career carried him to Double-A and finished in independent ball with stops in Bradenton, FL; Amarillo, El Paso and Fort Worth, TX; and Sioux City, IA.  Willie had some good stories to tell and I became one of many people over the years that have apparently told him he should write a book, informing him about Paul Shirley’s bestseller, “Can I Keep My Jersey,” a tale of a pro basketball player that played in every crevice of the globe.

Kenny Powers shooting on the Pelicans Ballpark field

Some other things I learned: Kenny Powers hair is not real.  I did not, but probably should have known this.  I figured this out in stages.  First, I learned that the mullet on Powers’ body double was fake.  Then I saw Danny McBride later in the day without a mullet.  Then I read in Rolling Stone that the hair is fake.  I also learned that McBride isn’t a particularly good pitcher.  I figured this much being that he has a body double for baseball scenes where you don’t see his face.  I also figured this because not a lot of baseballs that left his hand wound up near home.  But, honestly, I can’t really pitch either, nor can I play Kenny Powers, so moving on.

One final thing I haven’t had the chance to address yet: getting to dress as a baseball player.  Last time I played baseball our uniform tops were in one piece, no buttons.  Needless to say, it was pretty cool just to suit up and walk around like a big leaguer, to hear the clack of the cleats on the ground, to walk back and forth in the dugout wearing a hoodie like Joe Maddon, and to stand in front of the dugout looking up at fake bodies in the stands, imagining what it would be like to sign autographs by tossing baseballs and sharpies back and forth over the dugout top.  As silly as that all sounds, it was something of a surreal feeling and as silly as it sounds, warming up in the bullpen with action on the field and the videoboard on at full blast made it feel like, if only for TV, I was actually in a real game.

That’s day one as a TV extra on Eastbound & Down.  A lot of waiting, watching, talking and pitching.  Some 12 hours later I really, really hope I just make it on TV.  Remember, I’m the guy with the knee-high red socks.  Day two..here we come.

Beachbound & Down: Jake White’s Hollywood Tale

So I hear there’s a show on HBO that’s been filming in these parts.  It might be the worst kept secret in town, if you could even consider it a secret.  So Eastbound & Down filmed its third season in Myrtle Beach and even here at BB&T Coastal Field.  Needless to say, there’s a buzz around the office to see the show, which debuts Sunday night, and to see where the ballpark pops up.

For one member of our staff the show will be especially cool to watch.  Our Director of In-Game Entertainment, Jake White, was part of the production.  White was hired by HBO as a Scoreboard Consultant for the show’s process.

“[HBO] came out here and they looked at all the [scoreboard] animations we had for normal Pelicans games,” White said.  “They had me reproduce those for the Myrtle Beach Mermen.”

The Mermen are a fictional team that Kenny Powers plays for in the show’s third season.  Powers has returned to America after playing in the Mexican league during the show’s second season.

“Once they took a look at those graphics they came back with a couple other ideas for intro graphics for Kenny Powers and other players,” White said.  He then created those screens that, we hope, will be seen in the show.  Some of the graphics also included logos for Mermen opponents.  “It was kind of cool because I got to see that stuff before it was released and on air.”

But Jake didn’t just create scoreboard graphics.  He had to be around when the shooting took place.  And that’s when things really got fun.  After all, he got a front row ticket to watch one of HBO’s most popular products.

“During Mermen games, I got a copy of the script and the director would tell me every once and a while what graphic to put up during the scene,” White said.  “I felt kind of cool when they gave me a radio.  When I actually had a radio and I could hear them calling out shots and asking where different actors were and talking to hair and makeup.  A lot of people around the office will tell you it was kind of boring watching the shoot but when I had a radio and the director was calling me by name I thought that was pretty cool.”

One of the more amusing aspects of having a radio was the side chatter.  During lulls in shooting White would play music for the cast and crew.  Turns out the director is an AC/DC fan and would turn to a different radio channel to talk with White about what AC/DC songs where in the bank and which ones to play next.

So Sunday will be a pretty cool night in the White household.  He’ll even be able to watch the show live, having just ordered HBO for the occasion.

“It would be pretty cool to be in the credits,” said White.  “Maybe get my name on IMDB.”

Broadcaster Christmas: Prospect Handbook Arrives

There are few things that get radio guys more excited than new research materials.  It’s like Christmas morning when a new media guide comes in the mail, heck, I even collected media guides for the longest time.  Space eventually became an issue and the collection bit the dust.

That being established, you can imagine how excited I was this past week when my 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook came in the mail.  It’s 511 pages of stats and analysis on all of the top prospects in the minors.  The book list the top 30 prospects for each Major League team, draft breakdowns for the last few seasons, organizational breakdowns and lists of who has the best particular  skills in those systems.

Yes, the book sounds like a broadcaster’s dream.  And in all honesty, you could probably read the thing cover to cover and call a game sounding smart enough to get by.  But before we dive into the content about the Rangers/Pelicans there are a few words of caution.  You do always have to take the stuff inside with a grain of salt.  For years, Alex Escobar was rated as the New York Mets top prospect.  That clearly didn’t work out.  Sometimes prospects don’t.

Last year Quincy Latimore vaulted into the Top 30 prospects for the Pirates after he drove in 100 runs in A-ball in 2010.  He struggled last year at Double-A and is not longer listed among the Top 30.  Does that mean he’s no longer a prospect?  No.  He could be ranked No. 15 next year with another strong showing in 2012.  Who knows.

Finally, if you’re a top draft pick you vault to the top of the list.  Of the 30 Major League teams, Baseball America has a first round pick from 2010 or 2011 as a top-4 prospect for 21 of those 30 teams. In some cases those players have never played a professional game.  So take all of this with a grain of salt, but enjoy.

The Pelicans could have a ton of Top 30 Baseball America talent in 2012.  Here’s a look at prospects that could end up on the Grand Strand.

1.  Ranked as the top prospect in the Texas system, the 19 year old Jurickson Profar hit .286 in his first full season at Low-A Hickory last year.  He was voted as the South Atlantic League’s MVP and singled off Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson in the 2011 Futures Game.

“He wants to reach the big leagues as quickly as his hero, Elvis Andrus, who debuted in Texas four months shy of his 21st birthday.  That would put Profar in the majors at the end of the 2013 season, which is ambitious, but not impossible.”

6. A second round pick out of high school in 2010, Cody Buckel has moved quickly through the minors.  Skipping short-season Spokane, Buckel jumped to Hickory last year.  He starred, going 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA.  His ERA as a starter dropped to 2.04.

“As with [Diamondback Trevor] Bauer, Buckel’s unorthodox and torque-heavy delivery creates deception.  While he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, he has a deep four-pitch mix, outstanding pitchability and a fiercely competitive nature.”

8. Singed out of Mexico in 2008, Christian Villanueva was noticed at the 2008 Junior World Championships.  He has excellent power, blasting 17 homeruns at Low-A in 2011.  Villanueva began in 2009 in the DSL before hitting .314 in the AZL in 2010 and skipping Spokane altogether.

“Scouts compare Villanueva to fellow countryman Vinny Castilla.”

10. Matt West began his career as a hitter, batting .241 in four seasons with 350 strikeouts.  He turned to pitching in 2011 and racked up nine saves at Spokane.  Some compare him to St. Louis closer Jason Motte.  West pitched one game for the Pelicans last year in the regular season and got the save in game one of the playoffs.  His fastball can hit 96 on the gun.

“His pair of plus pitches could take him to Texas by September.”

18. Luke Jackson was a first round supplemental pick in 2010 out of high school in Florida.  Signed for $1.5 million, Jackson went 5-6 with a 5.64 ERA in his first professional exposure at Hickory first year.  His fastball touches 97.

“Jackson could profile as a No. 2 starter if everything breaks right.”

19.  Acquired in the Saltalamacchia trade, Roman Mendez has been added to the Rangers 40-Man roster.  The 2011 season was his first full year in the Rangers system and he shined.  Mendez went 9-1 with a 3.31 ERA at Hickory.

“The development of his secondary stuff and command will determine his future role, as some scouts see Mendez as a mid-rotation starter…”

21. Will Lamb is a local guy, taken in the second round last year out of Clemson.  He was a two way player in school and pitched mostly in relief.  The Rangers have used him mostly as a starter so far and he posted a 0.48 ERA in four games at Low-A Hickory last season.

“Lamb has a live, loose arm that generates fastballs that sit at 92-95 mph and touches 98.”

23. In a system chock full of catchers, Kellin Deglan stands out as a first round pick from 2010.  He hit only .227 in Hickory last year and the book says he may return there this season.  The book also makes mention of a good accurate arm and a solid power storke.

24. Jake Scole is the younger of two pro baseball playing brothers.  He turned down Georgia Tech to come to the Rangers out of high school.  Skole batted .264 last season with nine homeruns.  He played center last year and the book says he could eventually move to a corner spot.

25. Thomas Telis is a Venezuelan signed in 2007.  He split time with Deglan in Hickory last year and hit .297 with 11 homeruns.  He also ripped 28 doubles (31 led the Pelicans last year) so he’s got good gap-to-gap power you’d presume.

27. Odubel Herrera is a second baseman, also from Venezuela. He hit .306 last year at Hickory and stole 34 bases.  The book calls him a “gamer” who doesn’t have “loud tools” but who does have one of, if not the fastest bat in the system.

We still don’t know exactly who will end up with the Pelicans on Opening Day, and we still won’t for some time now, but it’s always a fun look when the Baseball America Prospect Handbook comes out.  So chew on that info as the season continues to draw nearer.

Till Next Time,

Joel

What’s in a Name? Returning to Myrtle Beach

First of all, welcome.  This is Springtime Sunchips with Joe(l), your inside look at the musings of my head and the 2012 Myrtle Beach Pelicans.  The ‘L’ is in parenthasis for a reason, and no, it’s not because I don’t like the last letter of my name.  In fact it’s a great letter.  Without it we wouldn’t have Leprechauns or Lea Michelle and nobody would ever graduate from Loyola or Loyola Marymount.  The reason is because this blog is written by me, Joel, but named after a guy named Joe, like Mauer…you know the Twins catcher?  In fact, it’s named after him.  Here’s why — allow me to introduce an excerpt from a blog post with my previous team — the Florida State League’s Bradenton Marauders:

When the Twins came to Bradenton it was near the end of Spring Training and Joe Mauer was making his first roadtrip.  About an hour and a half prior to first pitch I meandered down to the Twinkies clubhouse to talk to Mauer about his time in the FSL.  It was for our series on big leaguers that had been in the league.  Lucky for me Joe was at one of the first lockers when you walk in so I didn’t have to go searching around in foreign territory.  As I walked up to him he had finished a sandwich a was opening a bag of Sun Chips.

“Hey Joe.  Can you talk and eat?” I asked him.  He appeared to be on the verge of saying yes when [Twins Manager Ron] Gardenhire comes from the other side of the clubhouse.

“Hey can’t we just let the man eat!” Gardenhire bellowed as he essentially chased me away.  On the way out I quickly set up to talk with Joe after the game.  In hindsight I think this would all make for a good Sun Chips commercial.

Joel's Joe Mauer Sun Chips incident helped create the name of this blog

Mauer was a really nice guy and the blog post turned out great.  So in honor of that, this blog dons Mauer’s name…sorta.  Now that we’ve got that out of the way…to the next thing.

I couldn’t be more excited to be in Myrtle Beach.  This is actually my second tour through the Carolina League, having previously served as a broadcast intern with the Salem Avalanche in 2008.  Until last week I still had the full set of commemorative cups from that season.  The Wilmington Blue Rocks one has served valiantly as my toothbrush cup for a long time now.  I also have a stuffed Mr. Celery doll, a favorite.

I have two favorite memories from that ’08 season.  The first is my Salem Avalanche staff “Sing for Your Supper” championship.  “Sing for Your Supper” was an in-between-innings promotion and once a week we used staff instead of fans to sing on the dugouts after the fourth inning.  My title was won with a rendition of Bye-Bye-Bye in the first round and NKOTB’s Summertime in the finals.  I still carry former Kinston Indians first baseman Beau Mills’ congratulations as a badge of honor.

My second favorite memory from 2008 was taking batting practice off Roger Clemens.  The Rocket’s son, Koby, was our catcher that summer and one day in August he pitched to the staff.  I got something like 5 swings.  The first whizzed by.  The third or fouth went the other way to right for a homerun…I mean single.  Okay groundout to first.  Okay dribbler in front of the plate.  Okay I struck out.  No but really I did go to right field once.

The Avalanche front office with Roger Clemens (that’s me in the red)

So now to Myrtle Beach.  Let me preface this by saying that I have terrible memories of mini-golf in this town.  The course in Broadway at the Beach was the site of my biggest collapse ever.  I lost a seven stroke lead on the last three holes to my broadcast partner, Jason Benetti.  He is now in Triple-A with the Syracuse Cheifs, however, I have taken our last two rounds of mini-golf.  I’ll try to make it three in a row next week when he visits town (he’s the voice of High Point basketball and they play Coastal Carolina).

But outside mini-golf I love Myrtle Beach.  Having worked for another team in the league, Myrtle was always the best roadtrip to take and not only because of the beach.  The attendance at BB&T Coastal Field was always great.  The atmosphere was always fun.  You always left saying, “I had fun tonight,” even as the opposing broadcaster.  While I was in Salem I also happened to have still been in college — I was an intern.  That being said, one of the things I told myself was that if I ever got the chance to work for the Pelicans going forward, I’d jump at the opportunity.  Well I did, here I am, and I couldn’t be more excited.  On another note, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans pennant I’ve had for many years now makes a lot more sense to own.  I’d bought the thing years ago because of my Atlanta Braves fandom.

So a little bit about me…First off I love broadcasting and having a conversation with fans and listeners.  I’m looking forward to joining you all this season and providing the best insight into the Pelicans I can.  For me, a broadcast at its best describes the action and what’s going on, but also who is taking part in the game and the stories behind them.  I want fans to be able to listen every night and not only know whether or not the Pelicans won or lost, but to learn something about the teams, players, places, events, themes etc that are involved in the season as well.  And it’s all done with a little bit of whit and fun.  So hopefully we’ll all have a good time this year.

Some other essentials:

  • Hometown: Clinton, NJ
  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Hits: Not Many
  • Favorite Food: Mac and Cheese
  • Favorite TV Shows: 24, Boy Meets World, Friends, New Girl, glee
  • Favorite TV Channel: Food Network, ESPN
  • Favorite Movie: Law and Order
  • Favorite Car: Hondas
  • Favorite Broadway Show: Rent
  • Favorite Shape: Circle
  • Favorite Walk-Out Song: Barbara Streisand by Duck Sauce
  • Favorite Non-Baseball Sport: Lacrosse
  • Favorite Animal: Pig
  • Favorite Circus Act: Clowns
  • Favorite Baseball Player: Chipper Jones
  • Favorite Minor League Baseball Player: Any Pelican….and guys I covered last season – Robbie Grossman and Jarek Cunningham
  • Favorite Radio: Top 40
  • Group That Should Have Won Season 2 of  the Sing-Off: On the Rocks

So that’s me in a nutshell.  Make sure to check back here for all sorts of behind the scenes looks and stories about the Pelicans throughout thr 2012 season.

‘Til Next Time,

-Joel