In more ways than one we cannot wait for March to roll around because it means we’ll get to see many of your happy faces when the Pirates come to town to play the Curve on March 30 here at Peoples Natural Gas Field. We’re revving up over here with preparations and plans to make it quite a memorable day for those that make their way to Curve, Pa.
If you have been by our facebook page or checked out our twitter feed this week, you might have seen we also couldn’t wait for March to start filling out brackets so we made some of our own! That’s right we are one week in to our 15th season Bobblehead Bracket voting contest where you the fans are picking the winners of matchups to eventually determine who which player from the 1999-2003 era will end up on a bobblehead this season. The semifinals in the first bracket begin next Monday and will feature Curve fan favorite and overall #1 seed Adam Hyzdu taking on the #4 seed Jack Wilson. The other semifinal matchup has #3 seed Sean Burnett pitted against #7 seed Rob Mackowiak, who upset #2 seed Bronson Arroyo early last week.
Once we are down to our final two players, the finals will take place Wednesday, January 30 and Thursday, January 31 on facebook to determine the winner. The winner of this contest will be given away in bobblehead form on Saturday, June 8 to the 1,500 fans that stroll in to see the Curve take on the Binghamton Mets.
We will also be holding two other voting brackets a we approach the season to determine two other players to make into bobbles to be given away this season. The era breakdowns for those years will be 2004-2008 and then 2009-present. Be sure to watch our social media for when those contests launch.
Follow Us on Instagram and Pinterest
Speaking of social media, we’ve quietly been making our way on to some of the different social media platforms over the offseason months if you want to give us a follow.
Pinterest: Altoona Curve
We look forward to seeing all your photos and pins from your fun experiences at the ballpark all season long!
No Snow Down Under
While many in the upper northeast are experience snow bitter cold temps and snowfall, the boys down under in the Australian Baseball League are enjoying the summer months and also winding down their regular season. That’s right the ABL, which is 75% owned by MLB, has just a few days left in its regular season before playoff time. Fans might recognize both of the gentlemen in this photo courtesy of our old pal Tyler Maun as Quincy Latimore and Stefan Welch, who were both part of the 2012 Curve. The duo has been reunited in Adelaide playing for the Bite, one of the six teams in the league.
Latimore, who was recently dealt to Cleveland, is doing his second tour in Australia after spending the offseason between 2010 and 2011 playing in Adelaide. Welch, a native of Alice Springs, Australia, has played in the league since its inception in 2010 and will also represent his country in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
What’s also mildly funny about this photo is that the number 22 that Welch is wearing is typically the number that Latimore has worn during his pro career, even earning himself the nickname “The Double Deuce” down in Bradenton during his time with the Marauders in 2011. Also interesting is the advertising on the backs of the jerseys, wonder if the MLB game will ever get to that point.
At the time of this post, Adelaide is on the outside looking in at a playoff berth, sitting two games back with two games left to play.
For more information on the ABL, you can visit theabl.com.
Other Offseason Happenings
In other offseason league news, 2011 Eastern League Rookie of the Year Starling Marte added another accolade and award to his shelf when he snatched up the Dominican Winter League Playoff MVP honors for his stellar performance in helping Escogido sweep Aguilas. In the best-of-nine series (yes so the sweep was a five-game sweep), Marte was 11-for-21 while hitting .422 in 11 total postseason games. This came on the heels of a .304 average in 29 regular-season games with Escogido.
Helping Marte from the pitching slab in the playoffs was 2012 Curve lefty Kris Johnson, who was the winning pitcher in the series-clinching game. Johnson spun six shutout frames to help Escogido to the victory. In 32.1 playoff innings, Johnson gave up just four earned runs (1.11 ERA).
That will about do it for this week’s blog post and round up. We’ll see if we can’t get one of our new staffers to take a stab at the blog next week for a change of pace.
Win or go home. That’s the motto from here on out in the baseball season as we’ve hit playoff time with the new wild card games starting tonight before the best-of-five series begin over the weekend. Agree with the new format or not, it’s here and will sure make for some interesting games tonight and it also gives additional MiLB front office staff members some additional hope. Because of the diverse makeup of most minor league staffs, there usually are a few people who have vested interests in the playoffs, which can make for a fun office environment during playoff time.
In our office in particular, we’ve got our head groundskeeper Ben Young pulling for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals tonight, who would go on to play the Washington Nationals if they can squeak by the Braves. However, ticket account manager Steve Yeager, who is a native of Reading, Pa., somehow roots for the Braves. So we have a Young-Yeager matchup going on tonight. As for the rest of the office, GM Rob Egan will be pulling for his hometown Detroit Tigers in their series with the Oakland A’s that begins on Saturday. Leading the contingent of Orioles fans in the office will be Manager of Concessions Glenn McComas and Dir. of Ticketing Chris Keefer, who have both “Buckled” in for the playoff run. I myself will be hoping for a second San Francisco Giants World Series title in the past three seasons as they’ll face off with Dusty Baker’s Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS.
As for predictions, here’s what I’ll go with:
Wild Card Round
Atlanta over St. Louis: I just can’t see the final season in the tremendous career of Chipper Jones coming to an end with a bow out in the first round of the playoffs, especially with Atlanta playing at home for this game tonight in Turner Field. While “The Chop” is one of the most annoying chants in all of professional sports in my opinion, the Braves will Chop the Cards and proceed to face the ‘Nats in the other NLDS matchup. In a promotional note though, the Braves gave away these Glow in the Dark Tomahawks this season, which are pretty darn cool. Making the promotion even cooler was that it was sponsored by Mellow Mushroom, which is a pizza chain that started in Atlanta and has PHENOMENAL, yes, all-caps worthy, pizza and Parmesan pretzels!
Baltimore over Texas: In the other series tonight, I’m taking the O’s because the Rangers are reeling having lost the division on the season’s final day following two straight World Series appearances that resulted in losses.
With those predictions in mind, here’s the rest of the playoffs
San Francisco over Cincinnati: NL MVP candidate and batting champion Buster Posey and the bunch from the City by the Bay will dispatch of the Redlegs in four games with solid outings from Matt Cain and, yes, even Barry Zito. Ryan Vogelsong (Curve, 2002) will be crucial in the run for the Giants if he can retain the form he found over his last three starts (1 ER in his last 17.0 IP).
Washington over Atlanta: The Natitude that carried the Nationals to the best record in baseball will also carry them through the Braves and into the NLCS. It’ll be tough for Stephen Strasburg to watch but he’ll have to do so nonetheless. Nats in four.
Detroit over Oakland: While Oakland is a team possessed, taking the AL West crown on the last day of the season, they haven’t fared well in the playoffs once they get there. I’m biased and going for another Oakland collapse in the playoffs. They’ll go up in the series but eventually fall in five games. Oh, and Detroit has that Triple Crown guy, Cabrera, too.
Baltimore over New York: These two teams split the 18 games they played against one another during the regular season but the O’s have an awesome logo redesign and that will be enough to put them past New York.
Washington over San Francisco: The Nats went 5-1 against the Giants in the small sample size of six games but the Giants pitching staff gave up 45 runs in six games (which is 7.5 runs per game). That’s awful and they did it against the Giants better pitchers in Cain (3 R, 6.2 IP), Bumgarner (8 R, 14.0 IP), Vogelsong (8 R, 2.2 IP) and Lincecum (12 R, 7.1 IP).
Detroit over Baltimore: Baltimore’s magic will run out in the ALCS when they run into Justin Verlander and the Tigers. I bet is a solid series tho, with it going six games. The two teams split six games during the regular season.
Detroit over Washington: At least Strasburg can help the Nats next time they get to the series.
With the first week of October in the books, we look forward to watching a handful of Curve players begin their offseason play in the Arizona Fall League next Tuesday, Oct. 9 with the Scottsdale Scorpions. Vic Black, Brandon Cumpton, Matt Curry, Kyle Kaminska, Adalberto Santos and Tyler Waldron all spent time in Altoona in 2012 and will be participating in the AFL alongside Gift Ngoepe, who was an infielder with Bradenton in 2012 and could find his way to Curve, Pa. in 2013. We’ll try and provide some weekly updates on their progress this offseason. Fans can always visit mlbfallball.com as well for the latest updates with action from the AFL.
A few of those players also are in the twittersphere if you’d like to keep track of them throughout their time in the AFL:
Matt Curry – @MattyCurry17
Vic Black – @Vic_Black_2
Adalberto Santos – @SantosSwag
Tyler Waldron – @Twallywaldron
What We’re Watching This Offseason
With no baseball games, we actually have to figure out how to cook and fill our nights during the long baseball offseason. For some of us here in the office, that means trying out some of the new fall TV lineups. Here’s what some of us have been watching thus far:
Parenthood – We’ve got a pretty good following of people on staff who watch this show (both of the Hoovers, Corey Homan, myself, the Keefers and Elsie Gibney). A solid choice for some good family drama, plus its set in the City by the Bay so it has to be awesome right (biased opinion). Tuesdays, NBC – 10 p.m.
Grey’s Anatomy & Scandal – The Shonda Rhimes back-to-back dramas can be the talk of the office come Friday mornings. Thursdays, ABC – 9 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Revolution – A good chunk of the office staff is still in recovery mode from the loss of LOST a few years back and this J.J. Abrams related show is trying to fill that void this season where Alcatraz last season did not. Mondays, NBC – 10 p.m.
The Walking Dead – Season three premieres October 14th. This one is a favorite among the Curve broadcast team. Sundays, AMC – 9 p.m.
Glee – We’ve got a few Gleeks in the office, one of which is our newest front office member Whitney Jones. Others on the staff also dabble in this show but some just fast-forward to the musical numbers to avoid the rest of the drama. Thursdays, FOX – 9 p.m.
Breaking Bad – Ticket Account Manager Steffan Langguth has been trying to convince me for months that this show is one of the best on television but I can’t ever get through a full episode. Maybe I’ll give it another shot around the holiday season.
What are you Curve fans out there watching? Chime in on the conversation.
Enjoy the weekend and some playoff baseball!
Happy Opening Day CurveBall Blog readers. Today is the day that your team is in first place, and after tomorrow, there’s still a 50% chance that your team is still in first place! They say “you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher” and for nearly all of the MLB teams, Opening Day is the time to display the best you’ve got. Here’s a list of all of the Opening Day starters for the 2011 season:
The Pirates will look to RHP Kevin Correia to get the job done opposite Ryan Dempster when the Pirates open their season on Friday afternoon. Correia was selected in the fourth round by the San Francisco Giants in 2002 and will be pitching for the Pirates for the first time this season. Correia went 10-10 last season for the San Diego Padres with a 5.40 ERA. His best season was in 2009 with San Diego when he went 12-11 with a 3.91.
Opening Day Fact of the Day: In 2007, Phillies pitcher Brett Myers threw both the first and last pitches of the Phillies regular season. He was the team’s Opening Day starter, and through injuries, became the team’s closer by season’s end and made the final pitch of the season in that new role.
The Curve Opening day starter from last season, Michael Crotta, as blogged yesterday, has made the Pirates Opening Day Roster as a relief pitcher.
The only player to start an Opening Day game for the Curve and for the Pirates was Ian Snell, who started the opener for the Curve in 2004 and the Pirates in 2008.
From the 2011 Curve Media Guide, here are how the Curve starting pitchers have fared in Opening Day:
As reported by both the Altoona Mirror and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, RHP Michael Crotta will become the 82nd former Altoona Curve player to reach the major leagues when the season opens for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday in Chicago. It has been discovered that Crotta, the Curve’s Opening Day starter in 2010, will make the Pirates 25-man roster as a relief pitcher.
Crotta was selected by the Pirates in the 17th round of the 2006 draft out of Florida Atlantic University. The 6-foot-6, 210 pound right-handed pitcher got off to a great start with Williamsport as he made his debut and was already in Altoona making an appearance for the Curve the very next season. Crotta spent 2008 with High-A Lynchburg and the entire 2009 season with the Altoona Curve as he made 27 starts with a 4.76 ERA. Crotta was then named the Opening Day starter for the Curve in 2010, and he wasn’t in Altoona for long. After just four starts and a 1.78 ERA, Crotta got the call to play for Triple-A Indianapolis. With his time in Indianapolis, combined with a Spring Training where he went 12.1 IP allowing just two earned runs, Crotta will reach his dream of pitching in the Major Leagues to start the 2011 season.
Last season, Alex Presley made his trek from Altoona-to-Pittsburgh in the same season and with the likes of Jeff Locke and Bryan Morris rumored to beginning the season in Altoona, there will be little surprise for that feat to be accomplished again.
Stay tuned to http://www.AltoonaCurve.com and this blog site as the 2011 Altoona Curve roster will be announced in the upcoming days. The season begins April 7th in Erie and the Curve Home Opener at Blair County Ballpark is April 14th at 6:30 pm.