Posted by: tomgov | September 28, 2008

Wally Backman – Back in 2009


Good?  Bad?  Does it matter?  That all remains to be seen.  But after a couple of years of closely following this level of baseball, I am beginning to realize it does matter.

Finding talent at this level and then motivating them to play up to their ability for a 96 game season takes a special talent.  Are these players just hanging on to their baseball dream or do they really believe they can still make it to the bigs?  When a young man is approaching his late 20’s, has a wife and maybe even a child or too, it is time to think more about the future.  And the future is not in Indy Baseball.

Wally Backman is a manager with name recognition.  He could be mediocre at the independent level for many years and still get hired by a publicity hungry independent team for as long as he wants.  I am not sure he is the guy to guide a bunch of young men at the cross roads of their lives as they intersect with the real world.  For the sake of JackHammer fans looking for a winner in 2009 I truly hope I am wrong.

Posted by: tomgov | September 6, 2008

Baseball vs. Football

It is that time of year again.  I was reminded of an oldie but goodie from the late George Carlin.  I still prefer Baseball.


Posted by: tomgov | September 3, 2008

Former JackHammer Tim Byrdak Tuesday Night at Wrigley Field

Former Joliet JackHammer Tim Byrdak appeared in the 6th inning for the  in a game I attended with my son.  (I remembered my camera but forgot the SD card).  He gave up two doubles and a walk, 2 runs and was taken out without retiring a batter.  While the Cubs managed to lose and spoil an otherwise very nice evening it is always interesting to see former Norther League players in action on the big stage. 

Until this year I have not been a real close follower of former players from the JackHammers or Northern League.   The Joliet Herald News has updates on MLB players with local connections every Sunday.  Having former players in the big leagues adds a bit of legitimacy to the league.  But when teams like the JackHammers do little to promote their players when they are on the team they aren’t going to get much mileage out of promoting former players when the reach the majors.  It is probably my imagination but I really think other teams in the Northern League do a much better job of it. 

The Below is from Wikipedia about Mr. Byrdak

Timothy Christopher Byrdak (born October 31, 1973 in Oak Lawn, Illinois) is a Major League Baseball relief pitcher for the Houston Astros. His previous major league experience came from 1998 to 2000, when Byrdak played for the Kansas City Royals, an injury-plagued stint with the Baltimore Orioles, and one year with the Detroit Tigers.

After playing for the Orioles from 20052006, Byrdak was designated for assignment on August 30, 2006. On November 17, 2006, the Tigers signed him to a minor league deal. On March 26, 2008, Byrdak was released after posting a 13.50 ERA during spring trainingand later signed with the Houston Astros.

Prior to the 2007season, Byrdak developed a forkball, a type of pitch that he had previously not thrown. This enabled him to throw 3 pitches (along with a fastball and curveball), and as a result he began to post the best numbers of his career. In his Detroit debut, Byrdak struck out 5 of 6 batters in the heart of the powerful Boston Red Sox lineup, including an inning-ending curve to which David Ortizstruck out looking. Aside from major league baseball Tim works at the Diamond Sports Academy and gives pitching lessons alongside many former major leagers including former Rockies ace, Marvin Freeman. Tim is married to Heather and has two children, daughter Briana and son Christopher. He and his family reside in Lockport, IL during the off-season.

Posted by: tomgov | August 31, 2008

Final Game and More of the Same

It is always kind of sad to see a baseball season end. The last few years that I have been following the Joliet Jackhammers I have always felt it is a little strange to have a baseball season end this early.  To top it off I haven’t gotten to see any post season play, not that the season would get extended much but still it would nice to see a little bonus baseball.

Sunday night was pretty much a “go through the motions game” for the JackHammers. A solid game as always from Cory Harris and a nice job in relief from Vince Perkins.  The radar had Vince reaching into the low 90’s during his relief stint.

Outside of a few extra giveaways the crowd of about 4900 was treated to the same show.  What changes are in store?  Do they really need to shake things up?  I tend to think the player evaluation methods should be looked at.  Will Wally be back?  I would guess that if a better offer comes along, Wally will be gone.  If it is publicity he wants so he can get noticed, he is in the right market.  Winning in this market would help too. 

Thanks to everyone who visited this site in the short month I have been posting.   I really intend to keep this going into next year.  I will keep the site active during the off season so keep stopping back.  I will have a few stories to share during the long winter. 

See you at the park next May!

Doc Brooks makes contact in the first inning

Doc Brooks makes contact in the first inning

Then scors latter in the inning

Then scores latter in the inning

The often imitated food costume race.  Some are worse than others.

The often imitated food costume race. Some are worse than others.

Good to Chad Erensberger back in Joliet.

Good to see Chad Ehrnsberger back in Joliet.

Posted by: tomgov | August 29, 2008

Still Alive… But Just Barely

So the final weekend does mean something!  At least tonight does anyway.  The JackHammers took 2 out 3 games in KC to keep slim playoff hopes alive.  The T-bones magic number for a playoff spot would be 2 if I figured it right.  A sweep of this weekend series seems to be what is needed.

I will be out Saturday and/or Sunday this weekend.  I just notieced on the website that kids can use their un-used book buddy tickets this weekend.  We  still have several.

Go Hammers!  See you at the ball bark.

Posted by: tomgov | August 25, 2008

A Loss But Worth the Trip

I made it to Sunday’s Joliet JackHammers game at Gary.  I went alone as my son wanted to go swimming instead of take the hour drive.  It really was barely an hour drive, actually more like 55  minutes.  Easy for a Sunday with no traffic.  I am easily impressed with newer stadiums and haven’t been to all that many different ones so I will withhold a critique until I visit a greater variety of baseball facilities.  But some pictures are included. 

The ball park was new and exciting for me but the results were more of the same as the JackHammers lost to the Rail Cats 5 to 1.  Even with the loss they remained 3 games out of the final playoff spot behind the Kansas City T-Bones.  The T-Bones are playing just as poor in the stretch run as the JackHammers.  The two teams face off in a 3 games series in KC that will likely put one of the teams out of their misery.  The JackHammers will need to win at least 2 of the three games or the post season is history. 

I will still go to one or two of the final homes playoffs or not.  But let’s hope it means something. 

Note the haze in the background

Note the haze in the background

The haze I can only guess blows in from the steel mill with the north breeze

The haze I can only guess blows in from the steel mill with the north breeze

Posted by: tomgov | August 21, 2008

Going to Gary

Last season my son and I made one trip to Schaumburg to watch the Joliet JackHammers and had hoped to do the same this year.  Busy schedules allowed the summer to get away from us without a road trip so far.  (We did watch the Cubs at the Brewers in late July)

Our last chance is this weekend in Gary.  It appears to be about a 1 hour drive.  I probably could make the game Friday but don’t look forward to the traffic that exists on 80/94 on a Friday evening. 

Saturday is out so that leaves Sunday’s game.  The JackHammers should still have a shot at the last playoff spot then.  Let’s just hope that it is not a long shot.

Let me know if anyone is going.  I would love to meet any readers.  Even Rail Cat fans.

See you at the game!

Sunday nights are autograph nights after the Joliet JackHammers game.  The players line up and sign for fans young and old.  It usually coincides with a giveaway (like a team picture) that can be signed.  We had the trading cards from last week but my son only wanted to use the team picture.  I did hand him Cory Harris’s card to get signed.  I have enjoyed his play on the field, he hustles and I think he sets a good example for the kids.  Generally all the players are friendly and congenial during the signing.  Nice promotion for the kids (and big kids).  It is a promotion I hope continues in the future.
My son gets an autograph after Sundays game

My son gets an autograph after Sundays game

A number of players took part in a fundraiser for St. Baldricks.  The St. Baldricks foundation raises awareness and funds to support research to cure kid’s cancer by shaving  heads of those who raise money and volunteer.  Read more about St. Baldricks here. 

When commenting about stale promotions at the park we often forget about the good causes that are taken up during the season that the Players and staff take part in.  St. Baldricks is certainly one of the good causes. 

Some of the players who St. Baldricks foundation by getting their heads shaved

Some of the players who St. Baldricks foundation by getting their heads shaved

Juan Diaz hit a monster homer that landed on the rooftop of the snack bar in left field.  While on Google Earth I was able to estimate the homer went 442 feet when given a little continued carry.  Did you know that one would have to hit a baseball about 475 feet to clear the chain link fence in left field to exit the ball park.

Juan Diaz home run landed on the roof of the snack bar

Juan Diaz home run landed on the roof of the snack bar

Oh yeah, the JackHammer lost 4 to 2 to the league leading Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks  They missed opportunities all weekend to gain ground on that last playoff birth.  Thanks to poor play by the Kansas City T-Bones they are still only 2 games out of the post season tournament.  I suppose there is still a chance!?

See you at the game!

Posted by: tomgov | August 15, 2008

Did The Game Start?

My 13 year old daughter attended the game on Friday with a group that had a sky box.   She had been looking forward to this for a week.  She called me thinking that her brother and I were at the game.  It happened that I was on the golf course so I asked her if the game had started and she said, ” I don’t know… oh yeah there are some guys on the field I guess it did”.  She did say the food was good. 

As I write this the JackHammers are in extra innings for the second straight night. September games are still a possibility!

See you at the game!

Posted by: tomgov | August 14, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

JackHammers-2   T-Bones-0   – August 13th, 2008

Big Crowd vs. Small and Big Loss vs. Big Win. 

We were part of a much smaller crowd on Wednesday as the JackHammers came back from trouncing on Tuesday to get back to 3 games out of the last playoff spot with a 2 to 0 win over the Kansas City T- bones. 

Tuesday nights crowd of 7,077

Tuesday nights crowd of 7,077

A smaller, much more manageable crowd on Wednesday

A smaller, much more manageable crowd on Wednesday

A baseball 101 concept came into play on Wednesday.  The team that catches and throws the best will win most of the time.  1 walk (intentional) and no errors played a big part in the win.  Believe it or not, that is what we try and teach our 7 and 8 year old pinto teams. 

It was Armed Services night on Tuesday.  We were pleaseantly surprised as we walked up to purchase our lawn tickets.  A serviceman from the United States Marines was handing out box seat tickets at no charge.  So, not only did we save the $10 the two lawn seats would have cost, we had nice box seats in section 102.  

The JackHammers wore their Patriotic uniforms for Armed services night

The JackHammers wore their Patriotic uniforms for Armed services night

But the real reason we went (besides the baseball) was for the JackHammer baseball trading card sets.  After walking in the front main gate we were told that they were all out of the cards sets.  We arrived about 35 minutes prior to the game and there were not 2000 people there.  I was disappointed but determined.  I went to the side gate on the first base side and they had plenty. 

JackHammer Trading Cards

JackHammer Trading Cards

My son will have fun on Sunday (the next game we can attend) during the autograph session after the game and get as many as possible signed.  Maybe Sarah will hang around too.

See you at the game!

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