I should probably just call this "Stadium Journey's List of the Best AAA Ballparks".

Ordinarily, when I get emails from people asking me to link to their sites or put little ads up, I don't even respond. That is because the content DOES NOT AT ALL RELATE to what I am doing here. I don't want anything to do with ticket resellers, selling memorabilia, like, sports poker drafting, football heroes, whatever.

That being said, this list of AAA's best ballparks is right up my alley. In this instance, Every 1's a Winner! (Sorry.)

Number one on the 30-park list is the IronPigs park, which I am visiting this June. McCoy Stadium is number 21: "In some places, the stadium is the star. Others, it's the product on the field. If you're lucky, you might get both; if you're unlucky, you get neither. More often than not, you land somewhere in the middle. McCoy Stadium, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, falls into that middle category."

The comment about the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Excuse me, Empire State Yankees)just kills me: "The lower box seats are green, while the seats well down the lines and in the upper deck are orange. They look to be recycled from an old major league field. They are mislabeled in many places, leading to confusion over which seat is really yours." Of all the minor league teams in the world, the AAA Yankees are the Charlie-Browniest.

Aside from McCoy, I have been to seven out of the thirty. I'd better get cracking! Maybe I can do two this year? Who wants to come with me? If I don't see a game soon, I am going to die.

In a related story, I will soon be going to see the Nationals at whatever their ballpark is called. Very soon. What I am saying is, I'm moving to Washington.

Not really. But I am driving down there in less than 20 days so I can see some former Chiefs. I hope it doesn't rain!

Bobby Jenks was mentioned in Matt McCarthy's 'Minor League Misfit'.

"Check it out," Bobby said softly to me, holding the bat. With his big rosy cheeks and pale skin, he looked much younger than I'd expected and he certainly didn't look like a monster. He held the bat up, showing the fracture from the handle to the barrel. As he did so, I noticed a tattoo under his shirtsleeve.

"You like it?" he asked, rolling up his jersey. On his right arm was a large tattoo of a flaming vampire skull with baseball stitches. It looked ridiculous.

"Nice ink," I said, trying to sound cool.

"You like that?" he asked. "How about this!" And he pulled down his left sock to expose a tattoo of a wolf on his ankle.

"Me and the coach had some personality issues," [Jenks] said, looking out at the exhibition game. "He said I threatened to kill him."... "It was just a figure of speech. I really didn't mean it."

"What are you reading about?" I asked.

"Me," he said flatly. He put down the magazine and let out a deep breath. "Everybody's got something to fucking say about Bobby Jenks."

"You're a popular guy."

"One day I'm an alcoholic, the next day I'm the second coming of Christ."

I laughed awkwardly, trying to think of how I would describe him.

"I'm a damn bargain is what I am," he continued as he rolled onto his stomach. "Hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a guy with my shit? The Angels piss ten times that much away on Dominican fuckers all the time."

I nodded.

"And what do they do? They send me to this hellhole with guys who don't even belong in pro ball."

"Any interest in hitting the weights?" I asked, knowing that there was no chance.

[Jenks] shook his head.

"I'll let you in on a little secret," he whispered. "Tell 'em you have a bad back and they don't make you do a thing."

"Is that right?"

"Lift weights? Not with a bad back. Run? Not with a bad back. Stretch? You can't with a bad back. It's the life, man."

In May 2011, Bobby Jenks started two games for the Pawtucket Red Sox. He pitched one inning in each, giving up one earned run and a walk. He struck out two batters.


2011 PawSox Uniform Numbers


2 - Ryan Kalish
3 - Nate Spears
5 - Mike McKenry. After he left, Hector Luna took it.
7 - Andrew Miller
10 - Jose Iglesias
11 - Yamaico Navarro; later, Royce Ring.
12 - Matt Sheely, Jed Lowrie rehab
15 - Alfredo Aceves
16 - Matt Fox
17 - JC Linares, then Ronald Bermudez after Linares went on the DL.
18 - Tony Thomas
19 - Randy Williams
20 - Hector Luna, before McKenry left
23 - Michael Bowden
24 - Josh Reddick
25 - Kris Johnson before they got rid of his ass, then Brett Carroll.
26 - Lars Anderson
28 - Brent Dlugach
29 - Kyle Weiland
30 - Clevelan Santeliz
31 - Tony Pena Jr
32 - Tommy Hottovy
33 - Daniel Nava
34 - Luis Exposito
35 - Che-Hsuan Lin
36 - Rich Hill, then Ryan Lavarnway
37 - Hideki Okajima
38 - Brandon Duckworth
40 - Drew Sutton
41 - Luis Exposito, early in the season. Then Jeremy Kehrt.
43 - Hector Luna, then Blake Maxwell, then Kevin Millwood.
44 - Felix Doubront
46 - Franklin Morales rehab
48 - Scott Atchison
45 - Jason Rice

Feel better? I alone provide you with this valuable resource. Not Goody, just me.

Ramp Champ #52 - Tomo Ohka

Tomo Ohka is a RHP who pitched for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1999, 2000, and 2001. In June of 2000, Ohka threw a perfect game. It was only the third nine-inning perfect gameever pitched in the International League, and it was the first no-hitter in Pawtucket history. Alright, Hamilton!

In 1999, a 23-year-old Ohka started 12 games for Pawtucket. He went 7-0 with a 1.58 ERA. SRSLY? WHIP = 1.039. Et cetera.

2000 - Ohka started 19 games for Pawtucket, going 9-6 with a 2.96 ERA. He pitched three complete games, two of them shutouts. And yeah, one of those shutouts was the perfect game. Did you know it only took him 77 pitches? Ohka also led the entire league with his 1.026 WHIP.

2001 - Ohka went 2-5 with a 5.57 ERA. He started eight games, finished one of those.

Two things:
1. In 2000, Ohka got into a fight on the road in Norfolk with PawSox starter Sun-Woo Kim, probably about broads. It started during a rain delay and then finished back at the hotel. Ohka was suspended. I wonder who won?
2. "I've never come close to anything like this," Ohka said through an interpreter. "But when I realized what was starting to happen, I concentrated more on trying to win the game for the team. When the game ended, the first thing that went through my mind was `I did it!' " (source)

In the upper portion of the home plate tower, you can go check out Tomo Ohka. I like this. I like how we're learning... Together.


What the eff is the SLA Baseball Caucus?

While I was cruising for naked pictures of Luis Exposito, I came across something new. That almost never happens.

It was a profile of a Rhode island gent, name of Alex Caracuzzo. And it was on this SLA Baseball Caucus website. Heard of it? No? Me neither.

Evidently, SLA stands for Special Libraries Association. Which leads me to the conclusion that the SLA Baseball Caucus is a group of librarians that work at fancy specialty libraries that are into baseball and baseball literature. But they don't necessarily work at baseball libraries. I think. Also, they probably have no ties to Patty Hearst.

So back to Alex Caracuzzo, who lives in Warwick. He is featured in this month's SLA Baseball Caucus Member Profile! Let's talk to it!

Favorite team: Red Sox, although I should say the Bibliotechs (the MIT Libraries softball team) so my captain might put me higher in the batting order if he stumbles on this profile!

WHAT?! The MIT Libraries have a softball team?

Favorite memory: Baseball memory? I saw a PawSox/Columbus game with my dad and my little league team when I was about twelve. By chance, it was Mark Fidrych for the PawSox vs. Dave Righetti on some sort of rehab start. Back then, McCoy only had 6,000 seats but 10,000 fans squeezed in anyway. It was the most exciting event I’d ever attended to that point. I don’t remember sitting after the fourth inning. The Bird pitched a complete game and won, and acting like his eccentric self.

This is possibly the second greatest thing that ever happened at McCoy Stadium. I'm blown away to hear a first-hand account.

What must you have at every Baseball game: A ticket. I don’t even need a seat. I prefer to walk around every few innings and watch from different perches. You catch so many different vibes in the park that you’d miss if you sat in one place for three hours. Also, sometimes you (accidentally) wander into areas you shouldn’t…

Absolutely true. Although I generally like to sit up front on the first base side, it's pretty cool to stand over in left field, above the home bullpen. It's breezy, you can hear both the PA and the radiocast, and the perspective is cool. It also makes you want to feed the relievers.

Was that good enough? I think so!


Hunter Jones' first name is 'David'.

Not sure how I missed this, but Hunter Jones is back with the org. And probably headed back to Pawtucket, which is great news for someone like me. Welcome back to Rhode island, Hunter! It's sure great to WTF I DON'T GET IT I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY WHY WHY!!!!??

Let me catch you up: After '09, Jones was traded to the Marlins... Jeremy Hermida was involved somehow. He injured his elbow, was released, had Tommy John, rehabbed in 2011, played in Venezuela. And now he is so desirable that the Red Sox picked him up. Yup.

Someone on a Seminole forum talked to Jones last year and if you read the interview, you'll notice it includes links to videos of Hunter Jones working out, rehabbing-pitcher style. I watched a couple. I was not 100% comfortable seeing Jones squatting and lifting and sweating and stuff.

This whole things feels weird. We'll see what happens.


Ramp Champ #51: Trot Nixon

Trot Nixon is an outfielder who played for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1997 and 1998. Nixon also played in a handful of rehab games in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

In 1997, at age 23, Nixon played in 130 games. He batted .244 with a .331 OBP and was slightly strikeout prone. Nixon hit 20 home runs that season. He also made four fielding errors in the McCoy outfield.

In 1998, Nixon's numbers improved and he stole the hearts of PawSox fans all over New England. And Olde England, really. He hit 23 home runs. Strikeouts went down, walks went up. I mean, if you put Walks on one end of a see-saw and Strikeouts came waddling over and sat on the other end, yeah, Walks' feet would be dangling. But if Nixon's Walks bounced hard enough, they may have been able to lift up Strikeouts a little.

Nixon's average that season was .331 and his OBP was .400. He was hit by a pitch five times and IBB'd six times. Grrrr! And THAT is why Ken Macha batted him third instead of second that year!

Nixon led the team that year in the following categories:
Games played (135)
Home runs (23)
RBI (74)
Stolen bases (26)
Hits (158)
Walks (76) (Third overall in the International League)

Granted, if you look at the 1998 PawSox roster, there are lots of guys that no one's ever heard of, but still. By the way, if you look at hitting leaders in the IL that season, you may be surprised at the stats of one mashing Brian Daubach. I had no idea he was such a beast.

A quick look at Nixon's misc rehabbing time: He hit one home run and a combined 4 RBI. Thanks for the help! I was there for some of it but it looks like I chose to neither write about nor take pictures of the happenings. And that is because I am terrible at this.

Two things:
I played two years in Pawtucket. They have the best fans in baseball. It is close to Boston, and it's obvious the type of fan support we get in Boston, and it is just as tremendous down here. It is one of the best minor league cities in baseball. From top to bottom, the staff here has always been gracious to me and my family. Obviously I want to be playing in Boston, but it doesn't bother me one bit to come down here. - Nixon

2. "Pawtucket had Trot Nixon leading off on a rehab assignment, going 1-for-4 ... with an error on a dropped fly ball in the setting sun." - from 11th and Washington, 6/2004. I recommend reading this terrific story, which is an account of a trip to RI and McCoy Stadium.

Trot Nixon. For anyone who ever loved an outfielder. He's in the upper portion of the first base tower and I am not sure that I have ever seen his mural. Don't worry, that'll be remedied this season when I go cry and snot all over his mural.


2012 Fireworks at McCoy Stadium, Home of the PawSox

Allow me to provide you with the McCoy Stadium schedule of fireworks for 2012!

July 2 - v. Rochester Red Wings (MIN), game starts at 6:15.

July 3 - Versus the Red Wings again. Same time, 6:15. I will tell you, though, that the only tickets left for this whiz-bang affair are General Admission. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND GETTING THERE LIKE TWO HOURS EARLY. This is not an exaggeration. And eat a huge stack of flapjacks before you go so you don't get hungry. The concession stand lines get long and you don't want to miss anything.

July 7 - v. Syracuse Chiefs (WAS), game starts at 6:05.

September 2 - v. Empire State Yankees, AKA Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, AKA the team that no longer has Juan Miranda or Jesus Montero. Game starts at 6:05.

Any questions? No? Well, let's pretend you do so I can run a FAQ.

Q: What time do the fireworks usually start?
A: About 15-30 minutes after the game ends.

Q: When does the game end?
A: After 8.5 or 9 innings are played.

Q: How long does that take?
A: Two hours and 52 minutes.

Q: Where is the best place to sit?
A: On the pitcher's mound with a six-pack of New Hampshire's finest beer.

Q: How do I get on the pitcher's mound?
A: Practice, practice, practice!

Q: Do they let the fans light fireworks, too?
A: No, but if you bring some Black-eyed Peas or Maroon 5 CDs, I'll help you burn them!

Q: The Black-eyed Peas were good before Fergie joined them!
A: No, they were never good.

Q: What do you mean by 'General Admission'?
A: Essentially, they are first come, first serve cheap seats. If you come too late, you'll have to sit behind the press box and you can't see a doggone thing.

Q: Why is it so hard to get tickets to fireworks games?
A: Some ballparks blast rockets after every chippy little hit. The PawSox are more selective, doing it only a couple times a year, so there's a great demand.

Q: It's just fireworks, though. A lot of places have them.
A: It's probably the combination of baseball, hot dogs, and freedom, combining to form a perfect USA-gasm.

Q: What if there's a rain-out?
A: It never rains on Fireworks Night.

Q: Thanks so much for being an invaluable resource! The Pawtucket Red Sox Baseball Club Inc. must be so grateful for your attention and service and fanhood!
A: They show their gratitude by leaving me alone and not threatening to shut me down, I think.

Have fun this summer, guys! See you Opening Day!

Ramp Champ #50: Al Nipper

AL Nipper is a who threw balls for a paltry 18 games for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1983. He was 24 years old.

Nipper started 17 of those games, finishing with a 9-4 record. Tubular! He pitched four complete games.

Nipper gave up eleven home runs during his tenure in Rhode Island. One of them may have rolled underneath your mom's car.

Two things:
1. Al Nipper's PawSox ERA was 4.45, placing him third on the team. No one on the team had an ERA below 4.00. Unsurprisingly, the team went 56-83 that season.
By the way, the starter with the best team ERA that year was Oil Can Boyd.
2. In 1984, Nipper was obviously on the Boston team. They played an exhibition game v. the Pawtucket Red Sox, which was a thing that happened back then. At this year's Hot Stove Party, a fan asked M. Tamburro if this was a future possibility. That would be a firm 'no'. Too many reasons to list, but no way.

Al Nipper's mural is located in the upper portion of the home plate tower, so go raise a beer can to the man, the myth, the mustache.

(photo courtesy of A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory)


Garrett Mock will now drive himself to McCoy Stadium, thankyouverymuch.

In case you didn't notice, Garrett Mock pitched at McCoy Stadium a zillion zillion times with the Syracuse Chiefs. And now, he's been assimilated! ONE OF US, ONE OF US!

Let's talk to it!

1. In an elucidating post cleverly titled "Mock Trial", it was revealed that Mock had neck/groin injuries and delivered one of the worst starts I have ever seen by a visiting pitcher. This was in April, 2011. Great post, too, just sayin'.

2. More on that disastrous start from Ben Goessling.

3. The Nats 320 blog gets up close and personal. "Even then, before the neck popped, I would be eating cereal and the spoon just fell out of my hand. I would be walking to the parking lot and my keys would fall out of my hand. I hated myself for it. What’s wrong with me? Be an athlete." - Mock. Go read it, it's good.

4. Headline: "Red Sox signed Rhp Garrett Mock: L0L". I forgot to tell you that Garrett Mock was signed by the Blue Jays in December of last year.

5. Commenter "cybercavalier" asks the important questions on Batter's Box: "Just a question. I just found out that Garrett Mock was released on February 17, 2012. Does this transaction mean his performance is not up to par so he was released during ST ? Did the Jays management decide that he would have a better chance with another organization given its pitching depth of the Jays organization so he was released? Would he have been transferred to the minor league camp?"

By all accounts, Garrett Mock and his injuries are not likely to add anything to the org. No one wants to talk about it with me, either. Pardon me for not necessarily caring about Will Middlebrooks right now!

See you tomorrow.


PawSox Patter: Sixteen pages of delight!

This is probably not news to anyone, but the PawSox have a magazine called PawSox Patter that comes out a few times a season. I got three of them in the mail yesterday, which is what happens when they spell your name wrong. And when they think your mother lives with you.

The Pre-season 2012 edition features Jose Iglesias on the cover with the headline, 'Jose, Can You See?' I was just ripping on that headline recently, because it's pretty tired, but now I feel bad because they're trying to do something nice for the people. And Jose Iglesias is, by all accounts, a swell guy and a great dad.

The best part was the short profiles of some of the new kids in Pawtucket. John Maine of the New York Mets, you guys. On the PawSox! Mean ol' Vicente Padilla! And isn't Jesse Carlson the Blue Jays dude with all the ugly tattoos? Carlos Silva! Jason Repko! Doesn't it just strain credulity?

The Pawtucket Red Sox spring training schedule's in there, and it is revealed that their first game is March 14th v. the Rochester Red Wings. Don't look for a box score, because they don't do that for minor league spring training. It's too informal, too many player changes, and sometimes they use bags of oranges as bases.

There's also a thing on Che-Hsuan Lin and his comparisons to Fred Lynn, written by genuine, classic sportswriter Mike Scandura. I wonder what it's like to hang out with Scandura? I'll bet he has some stories! Has anyone ever written about him?

I am going to write a book about Mike Scandura.


February is short, but long.

Here are some non-roster guys who you will probably see in Pawtucket. In 2009, one of them was Brad Wilkerson, who played two games with the PawSox and then quit. Said he was retiring but then next season agreed to a minor league contract with Philadelphia.

2009 was the year that Wilkerson, Chris Carter, Jeff Bailey, and some other guy were all vying for that final benchy/DH/1B/corner OF spot with Boston. It went to Carter and Jeff Bailey was all pouty and childish about it. If you're a baseball player, the game's a business when you're aiming for more money or a roster spot. When things don't go your way, it's personal.

Digression over. Rich Hill and Brandon Duckworth, who we all loved on the PawSox last year, are among the living. And Alex Hassan, if you care about Alex Hassan.

Ross Ohlendorf
Mauro Gomez
Jesse Carlson
Justin Thomas
Aaron Cook...

This is way too boring. And I even took a major hiatus, during which I quit my job that I hated!

JC Linares is back, too, and his time in Pawtucket was way too short. With Crawford down, maybe he's a little more interesting.

Sorry I've been away so long. I won't let you down again.

Now let's go smoke some cigarettes!

Ramp Champ #49 - Reid Nichols

Reid Nichols played the outfield for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1980. He was a 21-year-old baby boy.

Through 134 games, Nichols batted .276 with a .322 OBP. He hit four home runs and struck out a lot. He led the team in stolen bases, though, with 23.

Two things:
1. "...Reid Nichols, now at the AAA Pawtucket farm club of the Pawtucket Red Sox, is rated as the most likely non-pitcher to crack the 25-man Boston roster next season." - Ocala Star-Banner, AUG 1980.
"Steve Lyons recalls playing center field early during his rookie season, and calling off the right- and left-fielders on various fly balls, only to have them step in front of him to make the catch. Lyons was abiding by the rule of thumb that corner outfielders defer to the center fielder, but teammate Reid Nichols set him straight, telling Lyons that he had to “gain their respect.” Said Lyons: “I’m like, ‘While I’m gaining their respect, are we going to fuck up a few balls in left and right field?”
- The Baseball Codes (Not really PawSox related, but like you care.)

If you get so lonely when Reid's not there, go see his mural in the middle portion of the home plate tower. Above photo graciously and charitably loaned by JS of the RSFPT Foundation.