Mike Wellman's Archives

Tale of Two Javys

Five innings were enough tonight.

At one point the I-Cubs trailed 5-0 and the Vice-Cardinals from Memphis had all of one hit, that being a single. Rarely is so much made from so little. When Carlos Pimento was excused from further duty he'd thrown 80 pitches in three innings, only 35 of them strikes. I think he walked eight.

The Night the Lights Went on In Bushville

Like an obedient child emulating a revered parent the Iowa Cubs are at work on the installation of a new state-of-the-art HD video board in time for their home opener on April 17th.

At 24x64 or 1,536 square feet the magic screen will pale in comparison to the 42x95, 3990 sq. ft. colossus that’s being erected to tower above Wrigley Field’s left field bleachers and Waveland Avenue. It will be less than half the size but is certainly imposing enough to be viewed, let us say, as a Triple A scale model.

It’s high time for an upgrade. Depending on the vantage point and the mood of the sun the new board’s predecessor could be effectively invisible and in recent years has displayed more marketing and promo filler than, for instance, player stats. Not that that trend’s likely to change.

Speaking of trends at America’s ballparks, you know of course that all of this modern malarkey traces directly back to an event that happened right here in Des Moines, long a baseball hotbed, on May 2, 1930, right?

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Attack of the Soler Powered Headlines

 

Well, he passes the eyeball test with flying colors. Entering the ballpark in the top of the first you know something new has been added to the home team as soon as you fix on the leggy right fielder. Clear from the mezzanine behind home plate you can’t help but notice that pair of long, thick Cuban stogies as he lopes under the game’s first out.

Ho-Hum Bryant Takes #5 Out to Lunch

 

So I packed a PB&J and an apple this morning and planned to take my lunch break at the ballpark. Beautiful day here in Des Moines. It took forever to weave through pregame traffic and get into the lot where I park right next to the main gate. Just in time for the first pitch I slid into a spot and enjoyed the sandwich while I listened to the game on the radio.

Bryant Says Hello & Bye Bye in Des Moines Debut

 

Having waited half a season, I thought as the deluge pounded the car in the Principal Park lot, what’s another hour or so?

When the rain relented and while the grounds crew did its pregame thing I went to check for Superman capes and the like in the Backstop Store. No, the notice of Kris Bryant’s arrival in town had been too short to allow for restocking. Nevertheless, I expect there will be a hastily arranged bobblehead night added to the promo slate ASAP.

I-Cubs' Summer Begins With Lake Stay

For the first time this season the best farm system in organized baseball comes to town as the suddenly first place Iowa Cubs scoot home from Omaha for a three-game set with the Memphis Redbirds that culminates with a pyrotechnic exclamation of patriotism on Independence Day Eve.

Almora v. Buxton: Showdown at High Noon

Here’s a grab bag from recent days in the Iowa bush leagues:

 

*Junior Lake looks like a ballplayer but needs polish. He’s been getting on base a lot but his hits have included a swinging bunt here, a deflected ball there, a well-placed bloop, etc. With the glove his best game was in right field where he made multiple good plays. At 3B he’s made some diving and leaping stops but the arm’s erratic to the tune of five errors in less than a week. Still, he looks the part of a prospect.

Garza's Better Balls Win Battle of the Rehabbers

Matt Garza looked all tuned up and ready to go tonight at Principal Park as he tossed six scoreless innings that required only 75 pitches by my count. Maybe it was the balls. More on those later. He also fielded his one chance with the glove flawlessly.

Garza Has Fans Asking, "Ian Who?"

So, yeah, Garza looked good today; free and easy. Anyone who cares what they were has probably already seen the raw numbers. Two of the hits he surrendered were a swinging bunt and a deliberate one. Nobody hit anything very hard. He was hitting 94 consistently out of his windup; 92 from the stretch. One of his strikeouts was a nice hard slider that broke down and in on Brett Wallace and got him swinging. Whatever sort of fastball he throws that tails away from lefties was also sharp. He threw a few mid-70’s curveballs. Has he always had that pitch? It was used sparingly. The only 1-2-3 inning was the first.

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