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October 11, 2006 October 11, 2006

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
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Cory Lidle Killed In Plane Crash: Cory Lidle, brother of former Somerset Patriots and Bridgeport Bluefish utility player Kevin Lidle, was killed when the plane he was piloting crashed into a building in New York City. 72nd Street and York Ave. was the site of the crash.

Road Warriors – Part Deux: This is the exact version that is set to run in the paper tonight/tomorrow. I simply didn’t have time to write two separate versions this time.

I have a TON of stuff I didn’t use, so I think I’ll put together some supplemental online stuff later on this month to accompany the Road Warriors pieces.

I think this one was a little too short for my liking, but it’s actually about 400 words more than what my paper usually allows me to do…

Enjoy.

————

If independent baseball truly is the lowest rung of the baseball ladder, playing for the only traveling team in all of baseball must put you near the crust of the earth, right?

Not so fast.

The aptly named Road Warriors are one of eight teams in the independent Atlantic League and have been in existence since 2002. Created in order to give the league an even amount of teams and keep the schedule even, the playing field was far from even for the bus-bound squad.

When Lancaster joined the Atlantic League in 2005, the Road Warriors were dissolved and eight teams had a home for the first time in league history. But once Nashua left after the season, the team was revived and the bus was re-fueled.

Viewed as a developmental team — essentially a minor league feeder team to the other seven teams in the league — the team has never been anything short of awful. Early in the team’s inception, calling them awful might have been an insult to all awful teams everywhere.

In fact, in 2004, they lost more games in that season (103), then they’d won in the past three seasons combined (87). All in all, the team went 87-289 from 2002 to 2004.

Accepting your fate as an independent league player is one thing, playing all 126 games on the road is completely different.

So what’s it like to be a Road Warrior?

What’s life like on the road?

How bad is it?

As I was about to find out, it’s not bad at all.

After my “tryout” with the team, my day as a Road Warrior was far from over.

I was the first to board a blue, 56 seat bus after “our” loss to the Patriots. It was a sweet ride, perhaps sweeter than the team was used to.

“They don’t usually ride with this kind of creature comfort,” says Richard, our driver for the evening. “The only reason I was able to grab this bus was because the other one hadn’t been fueled up.”

It was the players who needed to fuel up after the game, with the bus stopping at McDonald’s just a few minutes into our trip.

The dollar menu is a God-send for players in the Atlantic League, but especially the Road Warriors. Players on the team make little more than $1,000 a month for their efforts.

“You use whatever you’ve got saved up from the off-season,” said Sheldon Fulse, one year removed from a five-figure salary as a Red Sox minor leaguer.

How Many Road Warriors Does It Take To Change A DVD?

Once the contents of the dollar menu are cleaned out at McDonald’s, the bus re-starts. The entertainment does not…well, sort of.

Pitcher Elvin Nina attempts to put “Passion of the Christ” into the DVD player, but confusion runs wild as the movie is re-started three separate times.

“You need an instruction manual?” Fulse asked sarcastically.

But there was entertainment to be had. With the Spanish players primarily in the back of the bus, some of them started singing in unison, loud enough to be heard throughout the bus. Some players enjoyed it, while one pointed to his headphones and told me what a necessity they are.

Am I really a Road Warrior? No. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

The bus pulled into the hotel at 1:20 AM, and trainer Erin Hughes handed out the room keys. Former infielder Nick Ortiz’ name was comically misspelled, his name turned into something not suitable for a family paper.

The players all carry their own luggage in, even former big leaguer Benito Baez, who pitched for the Florida Marlins several years ago. The Marlins and every other big league team have people who will carry players luggage for them.

“It’s more humbling than it is anything else,” Baez said.

Baez, who moved from the Dominican in 1997 and now lives in Michigan, speaks nearly flawless English. He also bears a slight, yet still unfortunate resemblance to comedian Wayne Brady.

But the Road Warriors best pitcher, who refuted an attempt by the Ducks to claim him earlier in the season, turns serious when it comes to the likely reason he’s in the Atlantic League.

January 26th, 2003, he says, was the day of his Tommy John Surgery. It was also the day he decided on a life after baseball, a life that will involve becoming a missionary.

“It’s not religion,” Baez said, sitting on top of his teal Marlins equipment bag. “It’s about having a relationship with Jesus.”

Strong relationships are crucial to surviving a 126 game season on the road, and during my unsuccessful attempt to find a vending machine in the hotel lobby at 2:30 AM, Ortiz and pitcher Melvin Pizarro are sharing a computer and keeping in touch with family.

Eventually, I get to sleep, and presumably the players do as well. However, at 8:45 AM I find myself eating the hotel’s complimentary breakfast by myself. There are no players to be found. A few of them start staggering in later, and I find out that only the hotel in Bridgeport doesn’t offer a complimentary breakfast. Bridgeport is also one of two visiting clubhouses that don’t have a television.

The other is the one manager Jeff Scott and I drove to after breakfast, Long Island’s Citibank Park. Scott and I take a rented equipment van, carrying the players bags. Seemingly every Major League logo can be found on these bags, from Teuris Olivares’ Yankees bag to Baez and his Marlins bag.

But one bag gets my attention for all the wrong reasons.

While helping Scott, I attempt to lift outfielder Jason Bryan’s bag. It moves about an inch and my back instantly regrets attempting the move. Bryan, whose biceps you could comfortably display a movie on, brings his weights with him wherever he goes.

For Scott, who served as the Ducks pitching coach in 2005, the trip to Long Island is a familiar one.

“It’s fun to come here and play,” he said. “You know there’s going to be big crowds and they do a good job. They take care of us here, they go out of their way to make us comfortable.”

I took the bus, stayed at the hotel and carried the bags. My day as a Road Warrior has come to an end.

On the train ride home from Central Islip, I reach into my bag and put my Road Warriors shirt on. Several minutes later, the group of women in their 20’s and 30’s across from me offer me an adult beverage.

So, what’s it like to be a Road Warrior?

It’s not bad at all. – Mike Ashmore

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Comments»

1. Anonymous - October 11, 2006

I really enjoyed the original part 1 and now part 2 of your ‘Road Trip’!
You are a very talented writer.

2. Jeff - October 11, 2006

Really enjoyed your inside look at the RW. Must have been work and fun at the same time, doing this piece.
The RW were much improved this year. I wonder what Jeff Scott’s feelings were about managing the RW at season’s end?

3. Roadwarriorfan - October 11, 2006

Great job Mike, I really enjoyed both parts.

4. john from Long Island - October 11, 2006

Nice article Mike. Thanks.

5. Amy - October 11, 2006

Incredibly sad day for the family of Cory Lidle. I remember last season getting Kevin Lidle to sign a program for me and I mentioned to him “how much you resemble Cory” and he smiled and signed for me. Sad to hear about cory.

6. BoosterBabe - October 12, 2006

I am devastated.
that’s all I can say…..
Kevin was on Larry King but I missed him…i missed the first segment. I had met Kevin a few times and liked him a lot. Had bumped into him out to eat with teammates….I’d sat and had drinks with them, hung out at various functions… WHenever I had a chance to see Cory play, I always thought “Hey, I know his brother!”
It’s weird but I felt that connection through Kevin.

And they should resemble each other….they are twins!

It’s a terribly sad day and I have been crying since the moment I heard about it.

They rerun Larry King at midnight, if I can stay up that late, I’ll try to catch it. If I can handle it. SIGH.
I need a hug. Where’s that cat I need her?

7. Amy - October 12, 2006

boosterbabe…yeah i know they were twins….haha..that’s why I said that to Kevin! Thanks for the heads up on Larry King…I will watch it. Sorry to hear about all this! Consider yourself hugged!

8. Anonymous - October 12, 2006

You’re crying? And you need a cat?
I hope you pick yourself up and carry on.

9. SharkGirl - October 12, 2006

Grow up! Enough is enough already with the constant picking on of Boosterbabe. She is a really sweet person who has feelings, like all of us. These are lessons I try to teach my 8 yr. old daughter. But why bother when there are adults out there being morons on a daily basis? No one wants to hear your bashing, no one cares, no one cares who you are or why you hide behind “anonymous” or if you have a screen name (you all know who you are). It’s just childish. I know I speak for MANY on this blog who are fed up with all of your boorish antics & nonsense.
The death of Kevin Lidle’s twin brother Cory is a horrible tragedy and touches many us just because of Kevin being in this league. Who are you to decide how any of us should mourn a death or comment on one?
I, for one, am glad to have met BoosterBabe-she’s great! I know I don’t have to defend her-she’s quite capable of doing it on her own & has a very sharp wit. We are hear to talk about baseball, among other things, not to constantly pick away at people & try to hurt them intentionally and at every chance you get. Go ahead, make a joke, I’m sure it will be in poor taste. I can take it, but no one should have to. Get a life, move on & leave us all alone.

10. Amy - October 12, 2006

thank you sharkgirl…I believe you speak for all of us who have met boosterbabe and enjoy reading her insitefull comments on here. She knows her baseball..a minute or two talking with her and you will realize that she really cares about people especially her Bluefish. It is unfortunate that there are some people who choose this tragedy to bad mouth her on here! Hang in there sheryl…we love you!

11. Anonymous - October 12, 2006

anyone else find the term ‘boosterbabe’ to be demeaning to women??

12. SharkGirl - October 13, 2006

Only you! It’s really quite simple with no demeaning undertones at all. “Booster Club, female”. Hence, BoosterBabe. Get a grip.

13. StormerDude - October 13, 2006

you go sharkgirl

14. BoosterBabe - October 13, 2006

Thank you Amy and Sharkgirl!!!! Love you back!

And no, BoosterBabe is not demeaning to women at all. I did not name myself that. I was dubbed that by one of the beer vendors at Harbor Yard, when he suddenly realized I was the only female member of the booster club under 65.

I think it’s funny. Most people with a sense of humor do, too.

15. Sumosid - October 13, 2006

Just a thought….A possible fit for the Bears? He has AAA-Managing Experience, a former Yankee hero, lives in the area and he’s available!

Cincinnati makes changes, fires hitting coach Chambliss
REDS ALSO NEED PITCHING COACH
Mercury News Wire Services

The Cincinnati Reds batted .257 this season, next to last in the National League. In their search for remedies, the Reds have decided to look for a new hitting coach.

Chris Chambliss won’t be back in 2007 after serving as hitting instructor the past three seasons. While the Reds hit 217 home runs, second most in the N.L., they hit only .244 with runners in scoring position, and .209 with two outs.

In addition, the club is looking for a new pitching coach to replace Vern Ruhle, who missed all of last season while battling cancer. Ruhle will stay near his Sarasota, Fla., home and work with young pitchers in the instructional league, rookie league (Gulf Coast Reds) and Class A (Sarasota).

The Reds are compiling a list of candidates to interview for the two coaching vacancies.

“We always like to look inside our organization first, if they qualify,” General Manager Wayne Krivsky said. “We’re making calls and putting a list together.”

Candidates for pitching coach include former Reds pitchers Tom Browning and Mario Soto, both of whom worked with Reds pitchers during spring training this year.

“I don’t like to get into specifics, but Chris Chambliss did nothing wrong,” said Krivsky. “He is a hard worker, a class individual and a good baseball man. I’m sure he will land somewhere. I hear his name in managerial discussions with other teams and I’m sure he would make a good one. We just felt a change was in order.”

16. number1surffan John - October 13, 2006

Chambliss is CERTAINLY a name that could bring some wanted mainstream attention to the league, if not only for the boomer age folks as myself who recall the late 70’s early 80’s Yank era.

Personally having met individuals from each team in AC or their own stadiums, I have found Bridgeport to be the most warm and welcome re: other fans. And the vast majority of that warmth came directly from that teams “Babe”. My family and I remain ever grateful for her reception. I doubt it would have seemed the same from someone nicknamed “fan person who happens to be female”. Sure would have been harder to ask other fans where to find her.

17. Anonymous - October 13, 2006

I’m afraid that many could be disappointed with Newark’s choice. While it is certainly fun to throw big names around, it just may not be realistic to expect the Bears to land a guy that was making 250K+ last year. That fact is, many of the guys that you all are talking about could make a lot more by working as a spring training consultant, or roving instructor, with an affiliated team. Sadly, many ‘baseball people’ view the AL has baseball’s purgatory. Obviously we all know the AL is much more but it is hard to win non-believers over to our side.

18. SharkGirl - October 13, 2006

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wayne & Steve (former Shark’s coaches) at the helm of Newark next season.

19. Amy - October 13, 2006

Oh and about the term “boosterbabe” being demeaning??? Why would she be upset with that? I think its pretty cool that a vendor would even take the time to care to do that….and I think its pretty neat! John’s right…..unless you knew her by name beforehand….it would be “fun” trying to meet her at a game…since everyone there knows her by boosterbabe. If it doesn’t bother her…why would it bother you?

20. Amy - October 13, 2006

I, too, wouldn’t be surprised to see Wayne and Steve in Newark. Seems reasonable to me. I imagine there are alot of other names that we could throw into the speculation..the Phillies got rid of Gary Varsho, Marc Bombard and Bill Dancy..all who had respectable minor league coaching careers. But i doubt there would be much interest in them as they are really lesser names. Chambless will I am sure get another job in affiliated ball…like mentioned above…money would certainly be better. We will more than likely see someone that is currently already in the league.

21. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - October 13, 2006

The Newark Bears or any other AL team with a managerial opening could do absolutely no better than former Trenton Thunder manager Bill Masse.

Recently fired by the Yankees organization after taking the Thunder to the playoffs in both years of his tenure, Masse is currently available and would be a GREAT addition to the Atlantic League if he doesn’t land on his feet in affiliated ball.

-M-

22. Anonymous - October 13, 2006

SOVEREIGN BANK STADIUM OFFICIALLY BREAKS GROUND
Friday, September 29, 2006

YORK, PA – September 29, 2006 – The York County Industrial Development Authority (YCIDA) and the York Revolution held the official groundbreaking for Sovereign Bank Stadium this afternoon. This marks another important milestone in the journey to bring baseball back to York.

“Breaking ground for Sovereign Bank Stadium is an exciting event that was a long time in the making. Today’s ceremony is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of all the people involved in bringing baseball back to York,” stated John D. Krout, YCIDA Chairman. “This project would not have been possible without the support of Representative Stephen Stetler and the York County Legislative Delegation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, York Professional Baseball and the generosity of our private contributors.”

Construction on the 5,300+ seat stadium is currently underway and is scheduled to be completed in July 2007. One of the largest obstacles facing the project was overcome when the IDA announced early in September that the budget shortfall had been met.

“When the future of the stadium was endangered by a $3 million shortfall, the YCIDA, York Professional Baseball and the private contributors stepped up to the plate. The dedication of the stakeholders to this project is the reason we are breaking ground today,” said Darrell Auterson, YCIDA Secretary/ YCEDC President.

“I am so thrilled that professional baseball is coming back to York, the place where my career began,” said Brooks Robinson, who took part in the groundbreaking ceremonies by fielding a ceremonial ground ball. “Now that we have broken ground on Sovereign Bank Stadium, I can begin looking forward to Opening Day next season.”

23. BoosterBabe - October 14, 2006

Hey SurfFan…..
Thanks for the kind words. You and Tiffany were a pleasure to spend time with and I hope to see you guys again.

There’s two ways to approach sports and being a fan. You can be an arrogant, no class jerk (like the morons who start a “Red Sox Suck” chant at Yankee Stadium… when the Orioles are playing). Or you can hang out with the folks in the “opposing team’s” colors and celebrate what you have in common: love of baseball, passion for your team, whatever else you might discover you have in common…and simply enjoy the company of another human being who cares about the same thing you do.

Everyone here on this blog…our minor league teams give us some kind of happiness or fill a void that we don’t get from other things in our lives. Think about it: most of our players are either has-beens, never-weres, or never-will-bes. Yet we show up week after week, sometimes, night after night. Win or lose…we’re there. And when we get home, we log in here to follow them some more. Something’s there. And I’m not asking what, because frankly, I don’t need to know what it is. I just know….it’s there.

And it’s there for all of us whether you admit it or not. You wouldn’t be reading this if Atlantic League baseball didn’t matter in your life.

In the end, does it really matter which team we root for?

24. Paul Adams - October 28, 2006

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a great resource on the Internet here!
If you have a moment, please take a look at my dvd movies Ethiopia site.
Have a great week!


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