By Matt Appel
Hello! It has been far too long since we last spoke. Words can’t describe how excited I am to be back in Tri-City for the 2013 season as the team’s play-by-play voice and media relations coordinator. As I’m sure many of you are, I am eagerly awaiting the first pitch at around roughly 7:05 pm on June 17th…not that any one is counting or anything.
All of us here at “The Joe” are working in hard in preparation for the start of the season. In fact, I think I the outfield grass is being trimmed right now. From an on-field perspective, the MLB Draft kicks off in less than a week on June 6th. It is from that pool of players that most of the 2013 ValleyCats will be comprised of, so we will make sure to keep a very close eye on that. In fact, I will be hosting a live draft chat (look for link info as we get closer), and I encourage as many of you as possible to join in to as the Astros, owners of another #1 overall pick, select their players of the future, some of which will be here in Troy shortly thereafter.
It will be a little bit of a different look here in Tri-City in 2013, as the coaching staff is an entirely new one. Stubby Clapp, Mark Bailey, and Rick Aponte give way to Ed Romero, Russ Steinhorn, and Doug White. We will profile the new coaches as the season gets closer to its start. Even though the ‘Cats ultimately fell one game short of a 2nd franchise championship in 2012, the way the Astros organization has been drafting over the last few years, it would not surprise me to see another very competitive team in 2013.
As for the ‘Cats Corner, I’m very happy to announce that the popular “Pregame Meal” segment that we started last year will make a triumphant return this summer. All of us involved with ‘Cats Corner promise to provide to you all the most up-to-date, relevant, interesting, and in-depth information all season long. We have some great ideas for new articles and videos that will keep the ‘Cats Corner as your “one-stop shopping” for all things ValleyCats.
Once again, I can not express how thrilled I am to be back covering the ValleyCats in 2013, and most importantly, how great it is to write and speak to you all, the strong ValleyCats faithful. Your passion for this organization on and off the field is inspiring, and I can’t wait to see you all out at the ballpark in just a few short weeks!
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring” -Rogers Hornsby
Hey ‘Cats fans! There are just about three weeks left until the home opener at “The Joe” on Monday, June 17, and the entire ValleyCats front office is full of enthusiasm, energized by the recent influx of our 2013 Intern Class.
25 current college students or recent grads have been placed into crucial roles that are vital to the success of our season. They are an extension of the management team, and will help us manage our 200+ part-time employees.
This year, we have students from many local colleges/universities as well as others. The list includes Siena, St. Rose, Union College, Ithaca College, Syracuse University, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Cortland, Northeastern, University of Akron, St. John’s and more.
Since it’s been awhile since the last post, we must briefly touch on a few spring highlights. For three Friday nights in a row, the ValleCats hosted a Friday Night Light’s series, featuring six intriguing Section II high school baseball games. Time Warner Cable Sports Channel aired the final two Friday night games live.
The match-ups were as follows:
Ballston Spa vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
Shenendehowa vs. Shaker
Fort Plain vs. Saratoga Catholic
Columbia vs. Saratoga High School
Guilderland vs. Bethlehem
Troy High School vs. CBA
The first two Friday nights were fundraisers for the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, which assists in the renovation of local youth ball fields.
The final Friday was a Coaches vs. Cancer fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.
The four teams: Guilderland, Bethlehem, CBA & Troy High all wore commemorative jerseys.
Attendance was great for each game, and lots of money was raised for the NYPL Charitable Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. Thank you to everyone who came out and showed their support!
In the meantime, the ‘Cats and BlueShield of Northeastern New York continue the great work of the Community Grounds Crew. Albany American Little League is the latest field to receive assistance, having their pitching mound and home plate areas rebuilt.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are just about three weeks left until the ‘Cats begin their 12th season at “The Joe!” This year we will welcome in our 1.5 millionth fan! The way we’ve projected it…it looks like that will occur on the 4th of July!
There are many great story lines heading into the new season. The first of which is the ‘Cats brand new coaching staff, headed by skipper Ed Romero.
Romero has plenty of big league experience, playing in 730 Major League games for four clubs: Milwaukee, Boston, Atlanta and Detroit. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Romero played in four American League Championship Series, with the Brewers in 1981-82 and Red Sox in 1986-88. He played in the World Series for the Brewers is ’82 and Red Sox in ’86.
The ‘Cats new pitching coach is Doug White. White comes from the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. He was the pitching coach for the 2008 New York-Penn League Champion Batavia Muckdogs. A cool little nugget about Doug, is that he appeared on the ABC reality TV show “Dating in the Dark” during the summer of 2009.
The new ValleyCats hitting coach is Russ Steinhorn, who is also in his first year with the Astros organization and professional ranks in general. Steinhorn spent the 2012 season with Delaware State University, where he was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
The ‘Cats will look to defend their Stedler Division title, as the Astros organization looks to put another competitive team on the field at “The Joe.” The Astros have the first pick in the MLB Draft again this year, and based upon projections…it looks like they will be taking a college player. That means there’s a good chance that person begins their career with the ValleyCats.
The front-runners for the #1 pick are Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray, San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant and Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea.
We’ll have extensive coverage leading up to the draft, which occurs on Thursday, June 6 – Saturday, June 8. ValleyCats broadcaster Matt Appel (no relation to Mark Appel) will be providing in-depth reports on ‘Cats Corner and will host a live chat during the draft, on tcvalleycats.com.
Aside from baseball, there are a few events coming up that we’d like to fill you in on.
The ValleyCats and Hannaford Supermarkets have partnered to bring the ‘Cats “Show on the Road” to East Greenbush-Castleton Youth Baseball League.
From the article on tcvalleycats.com:
After receiving numerous entries, the ‘Cats have chosen East Greenbush-Castleton Youth Baseball League as the winner. The ValleyCats will now bring their mascots, PA Announcer and promo team to put on a show worthy of “The Joe.”
East Greenbush-Castleton was chosen based upon their league’s commitment to providing a positive experience both on and off the field. Their dedicated group of parents and community partners support a scholarship program to teach sportsmanship and ensure that all of the children in their area have an opportunity to participate.
The ‘Cats will provide this entertainment on Saturday, June 8 at 7pm. Be sure to come out to East Greenbush and check out this unique promotion!
The weekend before Opening Night is packed. On Saturday, June 15 we will be hosting a Father’s Day Home Run 5k at “The Joe.” Click here for more info>>
On Father’s Day on Sunday, we will host our annual Father’s Day Brunch. This popular event proves to be a special day for the dads, and entire family. We will be holding a brunch from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. The event will include brunch, access to the field, one personalized photo souvenir per order and a Premium Box Sunday Funday Ticket for any Sunday ValleyCats home game. Click here for full details>>
Then on Monday, the ‘Cats open their 2013 season against the Vermont Lake Monsters with first pitch scheduled for 7pm. As fans enter the stadium, there will be plenty of entertainment! National Guard will have a rock climbing wall, there will be a ValleyCats inflatable baseball game, fans can show their ValleyCats pride by having their face painted and more!
Capping off the night will be an extravagant fireworks display presented by Price Chopper!
Great seats are still available for Opening Night, but they are going very fast! Be sure to secure your tickets now…click here to order.