Archive for July, 2010

Penguins Tidbits

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With Youngstown State on the cusp of starting the Eric Wolford Era, here are some notes from the university:

  • The Missouri Valley Football Conference announced this week that the Youngstown State at Western Illinois game on Oct. 16 at Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill. will be a part of the league’s MVFC television package.  For the 12th-straight season, the Missouri Valley Football Conference is coordinating an in-house television package. The games will be produced for syndication on over-the-air and cable television stations throughout the Midwest. Each of the four conference-produced games will air live or taped on FS Midwest and Fox College Sports (FCS), which has a national distribution of 55 million homes.
  • Youngstown State senior wide receiver Dominique Barnes and offensive guard Eric Rodemoyer were named preseason first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference by Phil Steele publications.
  • Individual game tickets for the home football slate go on sale Monday, August 2 at the YSU Athletic Ticket Office. Reserved seat tickets are $16 per contest while general admission tickets are $12. During the month of September, fans can purchase GA tickets for just $5 each. For information contact the YSU Athletic Ticket Office at (330) 941-1978.
  • Coach Eric Wolford and the Penguins will usher in the first full-contact practice of the fall with a special Monday Night Football on August 9. The Guins will be in pads for the first time that evening. The event will feature the “Oklahoma Drill” followed by a scrimmage at Stambaugh Stadium.

A Story Of True Courage

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As anyone reading this is grinding through another day and thinking how bad they have it, Alyssa Malachin has had it worse. Alyssa is a 16 year-old girl from Mineral Ridge who lived the normal life.  She was active in her school’s drama club, spending time with her friends, and while celebrating her 16th birthday with those friends at a party in her honor, she collapsed inexplicably and was taken to the hospital the next day.  It was soon discovered that Alyssa had a tumor the size of a softball lodged between her chest and heart. Alyssa is currently undergoing chemotherapy, has to stay in the hospital for groups of days at a time, has lost all of her hair, yet somehow remains optimistic while fighting the sickening disease we have labeled as cancer.  So get over the “crappy” day you might be having.

I have known Alyssa’s parents for years as we have shot pool in the same Youngstown area leagues and have met up on the town several times.  Drew and Heidi Malachin are good parents.  Heidi would bring candy bars that Alyssa had to sell for school to the pool matches and frequently brag about the good that her daughter was doing.  Drew brags too.  They have good reason. Alyssa is a special girl and is showing the heart of a champion in these trying times.

I first learned of this whole situation a couple of weeks after Drew and I were talking about a mutual friend who retired his cue stick because he had his hands full with an autistic child.  Drew and I agreed that our mutual acquaintance made the right move to help the child.  I will never forget Drew saying, “I don’t know what I would do if anything ever happened to my daughter.” Two weeks later, he had to learn rapidly exactly what he would do.

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“The situation has been unbearable, it is the hardest thing you will ever go through in your life,” said Drew.  Heidi also stressed how difficult the last couple of months have been.  ”As a parent, I wish it could be me instead of her and it breaks my heart to see her suffer.”

There are fundraisers planned as both parents have set their professional paths on the side to care for their daughter.  The big deal is the August 27th fundraiser to be held at the Icehouse in Niles.  There will be bands, a Chinese Auction and food.  There are also spaghetti dinners, and a bank fund for those wishing to donate:

Donations for Alyssa Malachin

First Place Bank Fund is under Acoount # 568699436.

So how is Alyssa? “It [chemotherapy] has me getting sicker and more tired each time.  I sleep a lot and am trying to get through it.  It depends on the day and my friends have really been there when I need them most.  A bad day means I don’t get to eat anything, I’m tired and sick all day. On a good day, I’ll go for a short walk or go to the movies.  I have not eaten junk food for over two months, it just doesn’t taste good.  Overall, it is nice to know that there are people who are supporting me and have come together for a good cause.”

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have set July 31 as a night for Alyssa and her family to try their best to have fun.  Alyssa will throw out the first pitch at the game.  The Malachins and a few friends will be given the “Dog Pound” Suite and will also get to meet Rafe Hernandez from Days Of Our Lives.  Big shout out to Dave Smith and Jordan Taylor of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers organization for making this all possible.

What is the outlook for Alyssa moving forward?  ”I can’t wait to go to my prom and get my driver’s license.  I try not to think about it, it is like being sick with the flu for a very long time.  It’s gonna go away and if you don’t always think about it, everything will be fine.  My parents don’t cry in front of me, but I know it bothers them, I’m gonna get better.”

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I wouldn’t wish the whole ordeal on my worst enemy, and ironically it happens to friends.  Many prayers are with Alyssa and family through this very difficult time.  Be strong for her when she can’t be strong for herself.

Anemic Scrappers Starve Again, 3-0

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers continued their search for offense.  Having mustered only one hit through five in last night’s loss, the Scrappers went hitless through the first six tonight.  Williamsport chipped away and scored a 3-0 victory at Eastwood Field in front of 2,653 fans.  The lack of offense can’t be blamed by a lack of effort.  These guys are working hard, they just can’t string anything together.

” It’s frustrating”, remarked Travis Fryman. “We are not a big team, so we can’t rely on power, and we are not a fast team, so we can’t rely on speed.  We have to keep working at it and get better.”

Williamsport wasted little time putting a run up in the top of the first inning.  Cameron Rupp hit a fielder’s choice that scored Matthew McConnell from third base with one out.  The Crosscutters added a run in the sixth when Rupp homered off of Scrapper starting pitcher Kirk Wetmore.  Wetmore (pictured above) scattered six hits over 5 2/3 innings and pitched a decent game.

Rupp was not finished as he doubled in the seventh inning to drive in another Crosscutter and up the lead to 3-0.  For Rupp, it was his third RBI of the night.

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Chase Burnette, (above) arguably the most productive Scrapper this year, recorded his team’s first hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.  Carlos Moncrief also singled and both runners moved up a base when Crosscutters CF Kyrell Hudson let the ball roll under his glove. Unfortunately, the Scrappers could not plate a run and still trailed, 3-0.

After the game, Scrapper skipper Fryman said that starting SS Tyler Cannon would be kept out for a total of five games with nagging shoulder problems.  The Scrappers will not be at Eastwood Field again until Sunday, first pitch is at 5 p.m.

Scrappers Give One To Williamsport, 4-3

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are having a hard time developing any means of consistency.  On one night the pitching is golden, but the offense struggles.  The next night, the offense will put up six runs, but the bullpen gives up seven.  The result going into Sunday’s game was a 12-17 record.  Sunday’s unexpected shortcoming was the defense of Chase Burnette who made two costly errors in the ninth inning.  Burnette entered the game with one error all season.

Cameron Rupp put Williamsport up 1-0 in the top of the third inning when his bloop found a way down.  Scrapper LF Kevin Rucker (pictured) dove to make the play, but the ball squirted loose.  Mahoning Valley was lucky to only be trailing 1-0 after three as Williamsport left six runners stranded through the first third of the game.

Meanwhile, the Scrappers could only muster one hit through five innings, a Chase Burnette single off of Crosscutters starter Mario Hollands.

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JD Goryl pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh for Mahoning County.  Crosscutters reliever Bradley Blanks followed up with two scoreless innings of his own yielding only a single to Burnette, his second of the game.  After seven, the Crosscutters maintained their 1-0 lead.

Carlos Moncrief, the pitcher turned outfielder, hit a two-run bomb in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Scrappers their first lead of the game at 2-1.  For Moncrief, it was his second home run of the year with the first coming in last night’s game. Moncrief reminds me of Carlos Delgado with his swing.

Dale Dickerson pitched the final two innings for the Scrappers.  Dickerson did a nice job mixing his pitches, but took the hard luck loss in relief.  Burnette picked up two errors in the top of the ninth.  With one out, he misplayed a ground ball allowing Kyrell Hudson to reach.  The next batter, Cesar Hernandez, hit a ball to second .  Aaron Fields’ only play was to first and the throw seemed accurate but was mishandled for Burnette’s second error.  Williamsport sent a pinch hitter, Jim Klocke, to the plate.  Klocke promptly tripled to put Williamsport up 3-2.  The Crosscutters tacked on another run when Rupp singled to center knocking home Klocke from third.

The Scrappers rallied in the ninth as Rucker hit a sac fly with the bases loaded to cut the score to 4-3.  Moncrief, who earlier homered, got up with two men out and two on but grounded to short to end the game.

The Best Commercial of All Times

By far, the best commercial ever made, just kept hearing, “All we need is one pin Rodney”, in my head, had to let the readers enjoy it again!

Scrappers Plan Lebronfire, Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert Officially Invited

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At the conclusion of the August 5th Mahoning Valley Scrappers game, a Lebronfire will be held at Eastwood Field. The baseball game will feature the Scrappers against the Tri-City Valley Cats.  Any fan who shows up at the gate and turns in any piece of Lebron James Cavaliers Apparel will be given a free Upper Box Seat ticket.

After the game, the merchandise will be destroyed behind second base via fire, Lebronfire. Cavs Owner, Dan Gilbert, has been invited to lead the festivities.

Scrapper GM Dave Smith says the ceremony may provide closure for distraught Cavs fans.  ”Hopefully the night will give the loyal fans of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio a chance to turn the page on a very disappointing chapter in Cleveland sports history.  I would doubt that any true Cleveland fan will want to wear their Lebron James jersey ever again.”

Additionally, the Scrappers will accept as a trade-in the Rally Towels that were passed out to fans during the Lebron James — Stay In Cleveland Rally’.  Any other Cleveland bitterness (The Drive, Art Modell, The Fumble, Jordan’s Shot over Craig Ehlo)  can also be used to help start the fire after the game.

Struggling Scrappers Pull Out 4-2 Win

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers got a nice distraction from the normal routine for a couple of days.  The four game losing streak that the Scrappers had been dealing with was overshadowed by Asdrubal Cabrera’s presence, and this would be a nice time to reverse the current and move forward.  Mahoning Valley got some much needed situational hitting and pulled out a 4-2 victory.

Chase Burnette started the second inning with a triple.  Tyler Cannon (pictured) followed Burnette with a clean RBI-single to give the Scrappers the early 1-0 lead.  The Scrappers added to their lead with a pair of singles by Brian Heere and Asdrubal Cabrera setting the table for Cannon, who again produced an RBI with a single to double the Scrappers lead at 2-0.

Hudson Valley got on the board when Derek Dietrich stayed hot with another bomb to left field, this one hitting the rooftop of the indoor batting cage, to cut the Scrapper lead to 2-1.

Scarpper starter Jordan Cooper left the game with a 1-0 lead, but the recent trend has been for the bullpen to implode.  Dale Dickerson walked the first two batters he faced and then threw a wild pitch allowing Hudson Valley to knot the contest at two runs each. Despite the struggle, Dickerson picked up the win for the Scrappers.

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In the bottom of the sixth, Diego Seastrunk (pictured), who homered from the left side in last night’s game, doubled off the left center field wall batting righty in this one.  The shot that almost went out hit more than halfway up the wall and gave the Scrappers a 3-2 lead.  Seastrunk scored a run to make it 4-2 on a clean Jordan Casas single.  Casas usually wears #13, but gladly peeled the number for Cabrera.  “It’s his number, besides, I wore number twenty in college, so I don’t mind a bit.”

Clayton Ehlert pitched well to keep Hudson Valley at bay and the Scrappers went on to capture the 4-2 victory.  Jordan Cooper had a good start going 5 2/3 innings and scattering nine hits while striking out six Renegades.  Scrapper Manager Travis Fryman said he was happy with Cooper’s start.  “That’s the way a ninth round draft pick should look out there. Jordan really settled in when he had to and made good pitches.”

The Scrappers head out to Brooklyn for three before returning home on Saturday night.


Asdrubal Cabrera Speaks On His Return To Majors

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Asdrubal Cabrera has started his path back to the Cleveland Indians.  Cabrera is playing two rehab games with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers before moving on to Akron to finish the transition back to the majors.  Cabrera is anxious to return to the big team, but understands the process and expectations placed upon him before he can be re-promoted.

Cabrera talked about how the arm feels and his physical status.  “I feel really good right now.  I feel like I am getting stronger and have been improving.  I don’t know exactly how many more games I have to play when I go to Akron, but I think it is more than two.” Indians Coach Manny Acta said he wanted Cabrera to have 30 at-bats before a call-up.  If the timetable of four at-bats per game holds true, Cabrera would be set to be recalled on Wednesday, July 21.

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“It’s been hard for me to watch the games on television and the team [Indians] have not been doing very well, so I am anxious to get back in there”, said Cabrera.  ”I want to get the rehab done as soon as I can so I can get back.  That is the first extended injury of my career and it happens when you play this game hard.”

Cabrera who was escorted to Niles, Ohio by family talked about their presence through a hard time.  ”That was my dad, my wife, and my son.  My dad is my number one fan and my family has been very supportive through this.  They have followed me wherever I have gone.”

The AL All-Star SS is back, and he looks primed to aid a flailing franchise back to respectability.  In Monday’s Scrapper game, Cabrera was 1-3 with a 2-run double in his third and final at-bat of the evening.

Asdrubal-Mania Not Enough, Scrappers Drop Fourth In A Row, 10-5

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Call it luck by proximity.  The Mahoning Valley Scrappers games are played by younger prospects who hope to make their way to Cleveland someday.  This week, the script has been flipped and Asdrubal Cabrera is in town for a couple of nights to begin a rehab assignment before joining the Indians later this week.  Hudson Valley rose to the challenge, handing the Scrappers a 10-5 setback, the fourth loss in a row for Mahoning Valley.

Cabrera started at shortstop and played five innings.  He turned a sweet looking double play to end the second inning.  At the plate, Asdrubal was 1-3 with a two-run double in his third at-bat.  Scrappers Manager Travis Fryman said that Cabrera would play five innings the first night and DH on Tuesday for no more than four AB’s.

Scrapper starter Owen Dew came into the game having pitched 17 innings and only giving up one earned run.  Dew reminds me of Tim Lincecumvery skinny, number 40, hair a little longer than usual… Hudson Valley was not intimidated by the resemblance or the numbers and tagged Dew for four runs in their first at-bat.  The big blow was a Derek Dietrich 3-run homer.

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Diego Seastrunk closed the lead to 4-1 when he connected for a solo shot in the bottom of the third.  Cabrera followed that with his 2-run double in the fifth, and Giovanny Urshela, who has been heating up at the plate, hit a sac fly later in the same inning to tie the game at four runs apiece.  Seastrunk commented on Wyatt Torregas being promoted to AAA, thus opening the door for him to garner more playing time.  ”I have mixed emotions, on one hand I will get more playing time, but I’m really gonna miss Wyatt, he was like my mentor.”

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Dew, who had appeared to settle down, got into trouble in the sixth.  Call it failing the Wunderlich” test, as Phil Wunderlich smashed a Dew offering deep into right center, narrowly missing the scoreboard and handing the Renegades a 6-4 lead.  Wunderlich later connected for a three-run double off of Scrapper reliever James Reichenbach in the seventh to push the lead to 9-4.

Dietrich, a college teammate of Chase Burnette at Georgia Tech,  had a big night for the Renegades going 3-4 with a single, double, homer, and a walk.  Burnette went 2-4 with a pair of singles for the Scrappers.

Manager Travis Fryman is growing a bit frustrated by his team’s inconsistencies.  ”Last night we had great pitching and didn’t get any offense.  Tonight we had enough offense to win and we didn’t pitch well.  Obviously, we are fighting a lot of issues.”

Fryman also spoke on Asdrubal Cabrera’s stint with the Scrappers.  ”He’s a wonderful player and I have watched him for years.  He is very flashy and you don’t watch him to learn from him, you watch to appreciate what a good athlete he is.  It was like me watching Omar Vizquel play shortstop, I watch but know that I couldn’t do that.  People look at me and say, dang, you are not as big as I thought you were.  He [Cabrera] does things that I can use to teach, some things really, really well.  He came up tonight with the bases loaded and two outs.  He battled with two strikes and choked up on the bat for a double. Those are the things I want these guys to learn from him.”

Hudson Valley Gets By The Scrappers In 12 Innings, 6-4

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Sunday’s Mahoning Valley Scrappers game was aptly titled affiliation day.  Mascots from all branches of the Cleveland Indians organization were present and active.  There were also members of the big team’s production staff.  Hudson Valley also rolled into town for a three game series.  The Scrappers, again, received good starting pitching, this time from Mike Rayl, but stranded way too many base runners in key situations losing the series opener 6-4 in 12 innings.

The Scrappers got on the board first in the bottom of the fourth inning as Moises Montero singled driving Chase Burnette home. The run was all that Hudson Valley starter Wilmer Almonte surrendered before being yanked after five innings.

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Scrapper starter Mike Rayl (pictured) had his second consecutive impressive start at home.  Rayl threw 78 pitches over six innings and departed with a 1-0 lead.  As has been the case so many times this season, the bullpen quickly gave up a lead.  Takafumi Nakamura was the bullpen goat of the day as he let a couple of Renegades get on base and then gave up an RBI-groundout to Steve Tinoco in the seventh.

Phil Wunderlich hit a blooper into left field that just barely stayed fair to give the Renegades a 2-1 lead.  Scrapper reliever Nick Kirk then gave up his second run of the inning to put the Scrappers into a 3-1 hole.

The Scrappers pieced together a rally in the ninth.  Tyler Cannon tripled home a run to make it 3-2.  Two batters later with the bases loaded and one out, Burnette delivered again, with a clean single up the middle to tie the game.  Brian Heere came up with two down, but struck out looking at three consecutive pitches.

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The Scrappers then proceeded to give up a run in the top of the tenth.  In the bottom of the inning, they again tied the game at 4. Hudson Valley let two on with one out when Jordan Casas hit a grounder between third and short.  The Renegades 3B stopped the ball but backhand flipped it into right field allowing the tying run to score.  Carlos Moncrief grounded out to the pitcher to send the game to an 11th inning.

In the bottom of the 11th, Giovanny Urshela, who recorded three hits and made another highlight reel play at third,  reached base via E-6.  After the shortstop regained control of the hard hit ground ball, he threw it past the first basemen to put Burnette on third with nobody out.  Diego Seastrunk was inserted as a pinch hitter with one out and he chopped one about two feet in front of home but beat the play unchallenged.  Andrew Kinney had his chance with the bases loaded and one out, and he struck out.  Tyler Cannon was next on the hot seat with the bags juiced and two down and he lined a 3-2 pitch to the second basemen to end the threat.

Diogenus Luis hit a scorcher to deep right that a full-speed retreating Moncrief could not handle that plated two in the top of the twelfth inning to give Hudson Valley a 6-4 lead and the visitors held off the never-say-die Scrappers for the win.

After the game, Travis Fryman addressed his team’s poor situational hitting.  “We had a runner on third base eight different times with less than two outs and we could not get the runner home, I’m not sure I have ever seen that before, but I know I never want to see it again.”

Asdrubal Cabrera will be wearing a Scrappers uniform on Monday and Tuesday in starting his rehab process.  Fryman commented on how he will be used over the two game stop.  ”He’s got five innings tomorrow and he will DH the second day and get four plate appearances.  That’s all the handling I have to do with it.  My job is to make sure he is ready when he gets out there and then he will move on to his next stop [Akron].”