September 2009

A Fan Again

There is only one part of my chosen profession that, on occasions, gives me slight pangs of disappointment.  Ironically, it is tied into the reason why I chose this profession to begin with — it is the unabated love that I have for baseball.

Now, the only problem with this is that it is very difficult to maintain your fandom when you work in the sport and business.  From a broadcaster’s standpoint, though there are many “homers” out there, myself most likely included, it is important to keep a slight sense of objectivity, or at least close to it, to assist in providing the most accurate depiction of the action.  After all, above all else, that is our primary duty when on the air.

Objectivity is just about the complete antithesis of fanaticism.  It is very difficult for the two to coexist.  This is not to say that I don’t want the Crawdads to win every game, or that I don’t want our pitchers to throw a shutout every time out, I just can’t let my emotions play too great of a role, which again keeps fandom partially in check.

To be completely honest, although I have my dream job and am thrilled with the opportunity that I have, I often miss just being a fan.  It’s tough to love this game and to have the closeness that I have to this game, more specifically this team, and not be a complete fan, which is exactly why I have come to love October.

October is my month to be a baseball fan, and it helps when the Yankees are post-season bound, which, love them or hate them, is often.  As one would imagine, I have not caught many Yankees games this season.  I try to keep up with them online and on Sportscenter, but it’s not the same.  That made getting to see them clinch the AL East on Sunday all the more special for me.

Though some might not believe it, I really care more about the fact that I actually got to be a fan again and watch the Yankees clinch than the fact that they did so against the Red Sox.  While, admittedly, it does add a slight slither of extra satisfaction, who they did it against is not as important to me as just that they clinched, and I got to see it. 

Although, as stated previously, I am a bit of a homer for the ‘Dads on the air, I believe it is improper in the role to unabashedly root for them, so at least it’s nice to be able to do so for the Yankees, it’s nice to be able to be a fan again.

And now, the obligatory “Pictures of the Blog”… fans style!  Drum roll please…

Wave in stands.jpg

Fans being fans with the wave at L.P. Frans… Poetic isn’t it?

 

Jay-Z.jpg

A famous fan… and minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, so I thought I’d throw him in!

 

 

electric fans.jpg
 

Wait a sec, those aren’t the right fans!  We’ll take ’em anyway, Crustacean Nation accepts all types.

That’s all for today – as always, Go ‘Dads!

~Andrew

Andrew Buchbinder is entering his second season as director of broadcasting/media relations with the Crawdads.  He previously served in similar capacities with the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL) and the Bakersfield Blaze, the ‘Dads High-A affiliate in the California League.

 

Baseball is back in Oct!

Ok, so after starting the week by saying that I will post a new blog every Wednesday in the offseason, I have successfully gone 0-for-1, posting blogs on Monday and now Thursday… I almost made it!  At least, if you average them out, you almost get Wednesday… maybe like Tuesday night, around 11 a.m…. and I’m rambling again…

Anyway, the exciting news is that we’re about to flip the calendar page to October, which means that baseball is about to start!  No, not necessarily Crawdads baseball, but the Arizona Fall League, which kicks off on Oct. 13.

The AFL is, as it’s name would suggest, a fall league that runs through Nov. 19 and features some of the best and the brightest prospects in the minors.  A little bit different than your typical minor leage set up, parent clubs basically share teams, each sending a handful of players to fill out the six teams’ rosters.  With so few spots available, it’s definitely a considerable honor to be selected by your parent club to play in this league.

The Rangers prospects are teaming up with prospects from the Royals, Yankees and Cardinals systems to form the Surprise Rafters.  Most notable (for us at least) of the Texas representatives is C Doug Hogan, who spent the majority of the 2009 season behind the plate for the Crawdads.

Hogan, a former 16th-round pick out of Clemson in ’08, played in 68 games with the ‘Dads.  He batted .249 with 16 homers (3rd on the team) and 43 RBIs, and was a rock behind the plate.  He earned mid-season all-star honors, but unfortunately missed the game due to a month-long DL stint.  He was promoted to Bakersfield in High-A on Aug. 17 and helped the team make it to the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

While his performance on the field is certainly deserving of the promotion and selection to the AFL, I think it is the Doug Hogan that fans really don’t get to see that is what makes Texas value him so greatly.  Hogan not only calls a great game behind the plate, but he has a remarkable presence in the dugout and clubhouse.

Not the most vocal player, or person in general, Hogan led this Crawdads team by example, and did speak when needed as well.  He brought an invaluable sense of controlled intensity to every scenario, on and off the field, and it spread throughout the team.  There was a marked difference in this club when he went back to Arizona while on the DL, and a relieved reception when he rejoined the club in mid-July.  Hogan is one of those rare natural leaders that you can neither create nor groom — some have that quality, most don’t.

This is why we are so excited to have Hogan playing in the prestigious AFL this fall — sooner rather than later, he may just be suiting up in Arlington when summer fades to fall.  Hogan will be joined on the Rafters by fellow Texas hopefuls RHP Brennan Garr, RHP Danny Gutierrez, RHP Evan Reed, 2B Marcus Lemon and OF Mitch Moreland.

We’ll be sure to keep a close eye on how Hogan and the Rafters are doing this fall, and keep everyone updated on Hickorycrawdads.com

Oh, and before I forget, here are some pictures so I don’t get in trouble with a certain someone in the group sales office (not named Kim)…

Hogan at the plate:

Hogan at the plate.jpg

 

Hogan behind the plate:

Hogan behind the plate.jpg

 

And, my personal favorite:

Crawdads Hat.jpg

Yes, that is a Crawdad hat… priceless.

Until next time, Go ‘Dads!

~Andrew

Andrew Buchbinder is entering his second season as director of broadcasting/media relations with the Crawdads.  He has previously served in similar capacities with the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL) and the Bakersfield Blaze, the ‘Dads High-A affiliate in the California League.

 

A Chapter Closes

Wow – what a season, huh?  The first chapter in what will hopefully be a long and prosperous Texas Rangers era here in Hickory has come to a conclusion.  Does anyone else feel like it was just yesterday when this season was gearing up?

Funny, how they all seem to flash by in the blink of an eye.  This season was one that was filled with ups and downs.  One in which the on-field expectations, at first glance, proved to be loftier than reality would enable this team to climb.  After all, none of the Crawdads coaches or Rangers brass wanted a .500 season, and you can be sure the players didn’t either. 

But, this is where a second glance is necessary, a little bit of a deeper perusal into the threads of the season, in order for the true successes to become evident.  It is true that this Crawdads team has hung up the cleats for the offseason, however, many 2009 Crawdads still have baseball to be played. 

Nine players who spent considerable portions of the season with the ‘Dads are currently getting ready for the 2009 California League Playoffs as members of the Bakersfield Blaze, who are in the postseason for the first time in the last eight years.  In fact, starting on Aug. 7, the Blaze won 24 of 29 games to secure their playoff berth – a time period that coincides interestingly with the influx of players they received from the Crawdads.

This is where the Crawdads true success lies this season – in the role that this team played in helping the Rangers system.  It is undeniable that these coaches and players wanted to win here in Hickory, and wanted to continue playing for a championship, but it is also important to keep in mind that system success and the advancement of players is part of the goal as well.

The overarching bench mark of success is how many players make it to the big leagues.  The Crawdads have nine currently playing a crucial role with the playoff-bound High-A affiliate, an 18 year-old prospect in AA in Martin Perez and Jared Bolden finishing the season in AAA hitting .350 with a home run — not too shabby, eh?

So, while playoffs and a race for the SAL championship here in Hickory would have definitely been a welcome occurrence, one cannot discount the very real success of the Crawdads in advancing numerous players into meaningful roles throughout the higher levels of the Rangers farm system.  And the best part of it all is, with the closing of the 2009 chapter, we all now get to look forward to picking the proverbial book back up in 2010 to begin the next journey, one that will hopefully end with some hardware in Hickory!

As always, Go ‘Dads… and the Blaze!

Andrew