Results tagged ‘ International League ’

Best Buffalo Wings in the International League

With 72 games on the road in 13 different cities, minor league ballplayers and broadcasters are forced to eat out probably more than we would like. Although a home-cooked meal sounds like heaven to all of us, there are some great eats to be found on the road throughout the International League.

On the current nine-game road trip, I’ve had my first visits to Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse. The latter two locations have between them arguably the two best buffalo wings in the International League – if not all of minor league baseball. Now that I’ve given them the official taste test, here are my results.

2nd Place: The Anchor Bar – Buffalo, NY

This iconic establishment is the original birthplace of buffalo wings and is a must for visitors and locals alike. The story goes that on a late Friday night way back in 1964, the current owner’s mother was preparing a “fourth meal” for some after-hours friends and instead of putting a few pounds of chicken wings in a pot for soup, she decided to toss them in the fryer – the rest is history.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help myself and ended up eating a wing before taking this picture.  They had a great buffalo sauce and were some of the biggest wings I’ve had. For as tasty as the wings were, they were soured by my broadcast partner, Steve Hyder, continually telling me that they were good, but not the best …

1st Place: Change of Pace Sports Bar – Syracuse, NY

I know it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but Hydes was right. Change of Pace served some of the best wings I’ve ever had – and I consider myself a bit of a buffalo wing snob. Steve and I went here last night after the PawSox 4-3 win over Syracuse and were joined by a number of Chiefs’ front office members.

I learned from my previous mistake in Buffalo and took a picture before my first taste. On the left I had original buffalo wings, and on the right I decided to try their new chipotle BBQ citrus wings. Both were tremendous and had a better texture than the wings at the Anchor Bar. They were incredibly moist while staying crisp and, although I maybe liked the buffalo sauce at the Anchor Bar more, these wings overall were better.

For some reason I loved these vintage NFL pennants above the bar. As if the pennants weren’t enough indication that they haven’t re-decorated lately at Change of Pace, here’s the biggest clue:

If you can’t tell, above is framed a picture of Steve holding his six month old daughter Eva, standing next to Big East all-time leading scorer Lawrence Moten. The photo was taken in 1993 and has been in their front window ever since! Steve used to broadcast games for Syracuse University and remains close to many old friends in town.

Today is Game 2 against the Chiefs with Justin Germano making his third start of the season for the PawSox. First pitch from Alliance Bank Stadium is scheduled for 6:00, Steve and I will be on-air (with full stomachs) at 5:45 with the pre-game show.

-AG

@aaronmgoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

PawSox & Red Sox News on National Pancake Day

When I was a senior in college, I purchased the first hot dog sold at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis and sold it for $300 on eBay – seriously. Although my $296.50 profit was impressive, it was nothing compared to the woman currently auctioning off a “rare President George Washington Chicken McNugget.”  Never mind that this delicious delicacy has been in her freezer for three years, what’s important is that it currently has 57 bids and is up to $4,350.  Since I know you’re curious, here is the actual eBay auction page.

Assuming you haven’t stopped reading because you’re suddenly craving McDonalds, we can move on to baseball.

  • Little known fact: Tek was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team (Globe Staff Photo / Barry Chin)

    There haven’t been many captains in major league baseball history other than Jason Varitek.  As you no doubt have heard, the two-time World Series champion will officially announce his retirement on Thursday in Fort Myers.  Although his future role has not been disclosed, word is that he is expected to remain with the organization in some capacity.  “Tek” suited up for the Sox from 1997-2011.  During that time he hit .256 with 193 home runs and 757 RBIs. In the 103 -year history of the Red Sox, only Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski (23 seasons), Ted Williams (19) and Jim Rice (16) had longer playing careers  without suiting up for another team.

  • The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, an International League North Division foe of the PawSox, will play every game on the road this season because of renovations to their home ballpark, PNC Field.  Lackawanna County is in the middle of negotiating the sale of the team and which has cause a bit of a hold-up in the ballpark renovation process.  No sale, no renovation.  The end of the story is that there’s a chance the SWB Yankees could be on the move.
  • Over the Monster did a nice interview today with Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus and asked him his thoughts on PawSox catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
“I’m not sure about the bat; legit pop, but can he make enough contact for it to matter? Once the book gets written on his weaknesses at the plate, major league pitching will be able to manipulate those weaknesses for their own gain. I think you can attack Lavarnway up and in and dare him to generate enough bat speed to beat you. If he does, tip the cap and try another approach. But I’d dare him to hit quality velocity around the letters, especially if you can bust him inside. I don’t think he has the bat speed to handle it.”  Read the rest of the article here.
  • As one fan suggested on Twitter early this morning, how great would a Varitek/Tim Wakefield first pitch be on Opening Day at Fenway Park this year?
  • A total of 87,253 fans registered for the approximately1,000 available tickets in lottery for opening night at the new Marlins Park
  • Thank you to my latest subscriber, dentalguy.  Although that’s a bit of a nerdy name, nerdy is a good thing when you make more money than everyone else.  You can be just as cool as dental guy by typing your email address into the empty box in the top-right corner of this screen and clicking “Subscribe.”  It’s so easy, even a dentist can do it.
  • One thing every dentist loves is sugary maple syrup.  That means every dentist should love today, National Pancake Day.  Eat up!
-AG
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

PawSox Insider: Joey Mac and Ben Crockett dentalguy

Former Canadian IL Club Turns Double-A

Put on your parka and cinch up your Snuggie, baseball is coming back to Ottawa.

From 1993-2007, the PawSox ventured to Canada’s capital each year to play the Ottawa Lynx.  In the club’s 14-year history, they were affiliated with the Montreal Expos (1992-2002), the Baltimore Orioles (2003-06), and finally the Philadelphia Phillies (2007) before closing their doors.

The following year the Ottawa Rapidz  (no, I didn’t misspell that) were formed and had a cup of coffee in the Independent Can-Am League before declaring bankruptcy in September of 2009. Since that time, the cement-clad Ottawa Stadium has been in an indefinite off-season.

(Side note: I actually applied for the play-by-play job with the Rapidz when I was a recent college grad living with my parents in St. Louis.  Fortunately, I didn’t get it.  I can still remember the look on my mother’s face when I told her I applied for a job in Canada.  It wasn’t good.)

Although they won’t re-enter the International League, BallparkDigest.com is reporting that “we should see the move of a Class AA Eastern League team to Ottawa Stadium for the 2013 season.”

The website goes on to say that it’s local Boston-based Beacon Sports that has been negotiating a 10-year lease for the ballpark which would be renovated prior to the start of the season.  According to a press release from the city, “Beacon Sports is proposing to invest approximately $2,000,000 into the facility for player development improvements and would also lease a new scoreboard that is estimated to cost an additional $1,000,000.”

So the obvious question is what major league team will the new Ottawa club be affiliated with? Rumors began when the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Double-A Binghamton Mets will close their doors following this season.  The B-Mets, who have been the Double-A club for New York’s B-Team since 1992, denied the report.

ESPNNewYork.com proposes a true musical chairs approach to the situation: “One in-the-know person speculates the Mets could wind up in New Britain in 2013, with the Twins moving to New Hampshire and the Blue Jays in Ottawa.”

If this were to play out, I’m not sure the fans in New Hampshire would care all that much.  The majority are such big Red Sox fans that when I was broadcasting in Double-A Portland in 2009, the Fisher Cats did a David Ortiz bobblehead giveaway night!  That’d be like if we did a Jose Bautista bobblehead night here at McCoy. Whats more, fans in New Hampshire actually cheered louder for a Sea Dogs’ home run than one from the Fisher Cats.

Good for the city of Ottawa for getting baseball back.  Although there are still lots of things to be figured out, we know that for the Red Sox prospects in Portland, Me., it’s a seven hour, 41 minute bus ride to Ottawa.

-AG

@aarongoldsmith
agoldsmith@pawsox.com

Red Sox Sign 17-Year-Old Australian Pitcher

Sound the didgeridoo, the Red Sox have inked 17-year-old Australian southpaw, Daniel McGrath.  

The ace pitcher was mulling over the decision to sign a pro contract or travel to the States to play college ball.   The deal was reportedly made official at his Melbourne home in front of substantial gathering of Australian media.

One (unnamed) major league source stated that as many as 15 big league clubs were interested in the 6-foot-3 lefty whose fastball has been clocked at 91 mph.  Fortunately for Boston, “Red Sox Nation” extends to Australia. The Sox happen to be McGrath’s boyhood team which swayed him to turn down more lucrative offers to sign with Boston.

McGrath is believed to have drawn the most interest from major league clubs of any Australian teenager in at least the past 10 years. (foxsports.com.au)

Can you imagine trying to scout a 13-year-old kid?  Well, that’s exactly what Jon Deeble, the Red Sox scouting director for the Pacific region, did when he saw McGrath pitch four years ago. Fittingly, it was Deeble who represented Boston at McGrath’s signing Tuesday.

McGrath is scheduled to visit Fort Myers during Spring Training for roughly a week or so, but will return to Australia where he’ll graduate from high school in December (wonder if he has a hard time getting a date for the prom).

Some die-hard PawSox fans might be familiar with the name Shane Lindsay.  For what it’s worth, the Australia native previously pitched for the Melbourne Aces (like McGrath recently did) and has spent part of the past two seasons pitching in the International League against the PawSox.  First with Columbus (2010) and more recently with Charlotte (2011).

It’ll be some time before we see the Aussie here at McCoy Stadium, but he creates yet another intriguing minor league story for the Red Sox this season.

-AG

 

Mike Tamburro on Joining the IL HOF

Earlier this week the International League announced that PawSox team president Mike Tamburro has been inducted into the IL Hall of Fame.

Tamburro joins Ben Mondor, the late owner of the PawSox, Joe Morgan, the former PawSox manager, Jim Rice, the former PawSox outfielder who is the last player to win the IL Triple Crown (in 1974), and Wade Boggs, the former PawSox third baseman who won the IL batting title in 1981, as members of the Pawtucket Red Sox in the IL Hall of Fame. Mike will be inducted in special ceremonies prior to a PawSox home game at McCoy Stadium this season.

I recently had a chance to sit down with Mike and chat with him about joining the Hall of Fame and how things have changed since he joined the club in 1977.  -AG

He’s an International Traveler, Home Run King, and a Perfect Pitcher

Gronkowski has 27 TDs is 32 career games (Geoff Burke/US PRESSWIRE)

Will he be 80%?  Maybe 70%?  Will he be able to do anything but run in a straight line?  These are just some of the questions everyone is asking on local sports radio and here at McCoy Stadium about Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski who is trying to rapidly recover from a high ankle sprain suffered against Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game.

The real question I’m asking is whether or not the cable guy will get to my new house by Sunday’s kickoff to get my TV in shape to watch the game.

Makes Gronk’s ankle not seem like such a big deal all of a sudden.

While all of New England is thinking about this Sunday, myself included, the Red Sox are coming off a month of January where they signed four right-handers to a minor league contract.  One of them spent time in the International League last season and has a resume so unique that we have to give him his due.

Justin Germano joins the Red Sox system after joining the history books in 2011.  As a member of the Columbus Clippers (Triple-A, Cleveland), Germano tossed the fifth perfect game in the 128-year history of the International League.  It was the first perfect game since Bronson Arroyo’s in 2003 for the PawSox.

Despite being a pitcher, Germano is also in the record books for home runs.   The righty broke Mark McGwire’s Claremont, California Little League record for most home runs in a season.  But wait, it gets even better … He’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Forget about Matthew Stafford, it's Germano when playing for the Samsung Lions.

A ball Germano pitched with is currently in Cooperstown because it was the first pitch ever thrown in an MLB game in China. Germano was the exhibition game starter for the San Diego Padres against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 15, 2008.

A six-year major league veteran, Germano has pitched for the Padres, Cincinnati Reds, and the Cleveland Indians, but has also worked internationally.

In early August of last season he suited up for the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization.  According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com,  Germano turned down a $1 million offer to re-sign with the Lions in order to sign with the Red Sox.

He spent the 2009 season with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League – the same league current Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine worked in. The Hawks offered the righty a contract for 2010 but he opted to return to the States.

It’s been a long road for Justin Germano but maybe inking with the Red Sox will be his path back to the big leagues.

-AG


 

 

 

 

 

An MVP, a Hall of Famer, and a Papa Gino’s Pizza

As predicted, I had to skip a blog entry yesterday because of my long-awaited move from Dallas.  All of my belongings have been stored in Dallas for the last month as my wife and I lived with my in-laws in Hingham, Ma.  I miss one day of work, and one day on the blog, and what happens?  Our team President, Mike Tamburro, gets inducted into the International League Hall of Fame.

One day!

Well, I didn’t fell great about missing that piece of big news which has been covered nicely by Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. To make up for my poor timing, I’ll be conducting a video interview with Mike in the next day or two which I’ll post right here.

The move to our new townhouse in Mansfield, Ma. went well overall and it’s nice to start feeling like a more full-time area resident.  While my wife Heather and I were grateful that we had movers to do all of the heavy lifting, I did feel pretty terrible watching other guys break their backs carrying my stuff into my house.  But, like Heather reminded me, that’s why we paid them a small fortune.

Seeing how all of our dishes and silverware were buried somewhere in our new place, I had visions of eating carry-out Chinese food directly from the containers for dinner, and using an empty cardboard box turned upside-down as our dining room table.  However, we finished Moving Day off with what what seemed more appropriate, and even tastier: Papa Ginos.

Now it’s back to work while Heather is back home unpacking and trying not to get buried in boxes and packing tape.  Today I’ve been helping out Bill Wanless, the PawSox VP of Public Relations, gathering info on some of the Red Sox January minor league signings.  That information will be used in the first PawSox Patter publication of 2012 that will be mailed out in roughly a week.

As I was catching up on the latest baseball buzz this morning, I happened to notice that 2011 International League MVP Russ Canzler of the Durham Bulls was acquired by the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cold hard cash.  Canzler is a 25-year-old right-handed hitting corner infielder and outfielder.

He hit .314 with 40 doubles, 18 home runs, 83 RBIs, a .401 on-base percentage and a .530 slugging percentage for Durham last year.  For what’s it’s worth, in eight games versus the PawSox last season, he hit just .241 with no homers and three RBIs.

After appearing in 131 games with the Bulls, Canzler finished the season playing in three games with the Rays, one against Boston on September 15.

Right now it’s back to work then it’s back to unpacking tonight.  If you have any dinner suggestions in the Mansfield area, Heather and I are all ears.  It might be a few nights before our kitchen gets in order.

-AG

The Super Bowl, Sand, Celebrities … And Triple-A Baseball?

There’s something to be said about being at the right place at the right time.

Just ask the Indianapolis Indians.

As you probably know, this year’s Super Bowl will be held in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Field.  If you’ve ever lived in a city hosting the Super Bowl, you know first-hand that the NFL takes over the entire city – not just the stadium.

This trend is continuing in 2012 and one of the biggest beneficiaries are the Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and fellow members of the International League.

How are they benefitting?  Nothing too much, just a celebrity beach football game played in an enormous, temporary built structure on their field.  Oh, and the entire event will be televised and is known as the DIRECTV Celebrity Beach Bowl.

It might also be the first time the word “beach” is placed in the same sentence as “Indianapolis.”

Congrats to the Indians for hosting such a big event.  Although I’m sure they’re receiving help form the NFL, this is an enormous task that doesn’t make for a “typical” offseason.

By the look of things, preparations are going well.   Below are some pics from the team’s Facebook page showing the construction.

The game kicks off Saturday, February 4 at 1 p.m.  Although they haven’t announced which celebrities will attend, last year’s event featured Barry Sanders, Alex Rodriguez, Eddie George, Warren MoonGuy FieriHayden PanettiereMarisa Miller, and others.

No matter who shows up, it makes this cloudy day at McCoy Stadium seem pretty uneventful.

-AG

 

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