Results tagged ‘ quad cities river bandits ’

Fun With Videos!

I was reading a story today about how Minor League Baseball teams are increasingly using videos to keep fresh content coming during the off-season.

While a number of teams have joined the party over the last few months, the River Bandits have been ahead of the curve in their video production for quite some time.

Because everybody loves funny videos, I encourage you to visit “Bandits ON DEMAND!!!” – a page on the River Bandits website dedicated to the best video content the club has to offer. Personally, I think some of the 30-second spots under Bandits Commercials offer the best laugh-per-second ratios (see: “This is River Bandits Baseball”). The “I’m on a Berm” music video and the Roofman series (“Origins of Roofman” and “Roofman’s Villain”) are also must-sees.

You can also see some of what we have to offer on the team’s exclusive YouTube channel. We have even started an off-season video series appropriately titled “There is No Off-Season” that will be keeping fans (and front office staff, of course) entertained between now and April.

Its good stuff and I encourage you to have some fun with it!

Mauer 2nd QC’er to win MVP!

Congratulations to Joe Mauer, who won the American League MVP Award  today in nearly unanimous fashion.

And deservedly so. Did you know he is the first player to lead his league in hitting, on-base percentage and slugging since George Brett did it with the Royals in 1980? He hit .365/.444/.587, leading all of baseball in hitting and on-base percentage while only Albert Pujols (.658) and Prince Fielder (.602) had better slugging numbers. Wow. I’m not sure there is any more dominant of a way to take home the hardware. He received 27 of a possible 28 first-place votes. The only exception was reporter Keizo Konishi of the Kyodo News who decided to vote for Miguel Cabrera. Go figure.

Of course, we must also take this moment to reflect on the historical impact on the Quad Cities. Mauer spent the 2002 season with the Bandits, hitting .302 with 23 doubles and 62 RBI in 110 games as a 19-year-old in his first full season. Not a bad start for the St. Paul native that was drafted first overall the previous season.

Oddly enough, the real star of the 2002 River Bandits was Jason Kubel. He hit a blistering .321 while blasting 17 homers and driving in 69 runs in 115 games.

Just one year earlier, the River Bandits were led by another of their teammates – Justin Morneau. Morneau, then just a young 21-year-old from Canada, hit .356 and slugged .597 with 12 homers, 31 extra-base hits and 53 runs batted in after just 64 games. He beat Mauer to the punch, winning the AL MVP Award in 2006.

Those two are now the only former River Bandits that have gone on to win MVP awards in the major leagues. Although we can give a round-about shout-out to former QC manager Keith Mitchell, whose cousin Kevin was the NL MVP with the Giants in 1989. OK… maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

Sill, you’ve gotta love a quick timeout for This Day in Bandits History!

The Year That Was

The baseball season is a funny thing. You spend five months in a seemingly unending stretch of daily baseball games. Then you get to the end and wonder how it passed so quickly.

Every year I get to a point in August or September where, over the course of a broadcast, I refer back to something that happened in April. Every year when that happens, I am once again struck by the fact that I am literally referring to something that occurred five months ago.

With such a lengthy season, there will inevitably be multiple peaks and valleys for every team. The River Bandits are no exception. While it would be easy to malign a sub-.500 finish (61-78) and a second consecutive season watching the playoffs unfold from afar, that simply doesn’t do justice to the season that was.

To that end, I’d like to recap some of the highlights from the 2009 season. To me, these are things that will enter my mind down the road when I reminisce about it. Oddly enough, it seems the Beloit Snappers had a lot to do with the River Bandits’ success this year…

  • The most important thing that happened to the River Bandits this year came outside the white lines. The resurgence of baseball in the Quad Cities over the past two years is one of those things that will have far more of a long-lasting place in history than anything that happened on the diamond this summer. Total attendance (236,401) and average attendance (3,694) were both the highest since 1995 and among the top-five figures in franchise history. Since the ownership change following the 2007 season, attendance has increased 64 percent on a per-game basis (2,254 to 3,694) and 59 percent on an annual basis (148,773 to 236,401). Bandits baseball is back. And that’s a fact.
  • On the field, there were a few other occurrences with important historical context. One was the first game of an April 15 doubleheader at Modern Woodmen Park against the Beloit Snappers. Hector Cardenas started and threw five nearly perfect innings, with the only baserunner coming on a two-out error in the third. Kevin Thomas entered to pitch the final two frames, twirling a perfect sixth before working around an error and a walk in the seventh to induce a game-ending double play. The end result? A 3-0 win and the first no-hitter achieved by Quad Cities since 2001. It was just the 10th no-hitter in franchise history, the third since 1977, and the first ever combined no-no.
  • On April 22, the River Bandits beat the Snappers 4-2 and Steve Dillard managed his 413th game for Quad Cities. On June 21, the River Bandits used a six-run ninth-inning to beat the Snappers, 6-4, on the final day of the first half and earn Dillard his 211th managerial win with Quad Cities. Both were franchise records, and Dillard ended the season with 242 wins and 541 games managed in his Quad Cities career (two seasons managing an Astros affiliate in 1993-94 and two more with the Cardinals in 2008-09). He has had a tremendous impact on the history of Quad Cities baseball and is one of the true good guys in the game of baseball.
  • There were also some fantastic individual efforts over the course of the season. Charlie Cutler hit .351 in 66 games and led the league in hitting for an extended period of time before being promoted to Palm Beach. Chris Swauger (.296 in 31G) also had a great early season before being promoted in May. Despite a slow start, Alex Castellanos might have been the best offensive player the River Bandits had over the course of the year, batting .270 when he went up and collecting more doubles (21) and stolen bases (21) than anybody else in a QC uniform in 2009. At the end of the season, Xavier Scruggs (.295, 7HR, 33 RBI, .527 SLG% in 34G) and Jermaine Curtis (.304, 12-2B, 12-SB, .426 OBP in 30G) also stood out as having exceptional impacts.
  • On the mound, I don’t think anybody was as impressive as Casey Mulligan, who used a variety of arm angles and some pretty serious stuff to blow Midwest League hitters away to the tune of 36 strikeouts in 20 innings, a 0.45 ERA, and nine saves in as many tries. Dave Carpenter picked up where Mulligan left off, inheriting the closer’s role and going 12-for-14 in save tries with 77 punch-outs in 67.1 innings. Both were light-hitting but strong-armed catchers on Opening Day of 2008. Arquimedes Nieto also comes to mind. Barely six feet tall (if that), he used a wicked changeup to lead the team with 89 strikeouts and deliver arguably the most exciting game of the season – his near no-hitter on the Fourth of July in Cedar Rapids. That game is the only I can honestly say I got butterflies in my stomach during the action.
  • Lastly, when it’s all said and done, the 2009 season may go down as a glimpse of the future. The last two weeks saw the additions of the top two picks by St. Louis in the ’09 draft. First-rounder Shelby Miller – a true phenom at just 18-years-old – has mid- to high-90’s gas with a hammer curve and a changeup that most kids his age can only dream of. Second-rounder Robert Stock, a 19-year-old catcher, is one of the brightest kids you’ll come across on a baseball diamond. Both finished the season with Quad Cities with the design of starting 2010 in the same place. Looks like Bandits fans everywhere just hit the jackpot.

While the River Bandits season has come to an end, there is still great baseball being played in the minor leagues. In addition to the Midwest League post-season, both upper level Cardinals affiliates have reached the playoffs (Memphis in the Pacific Coast League and Springfield in the Texas League). I’ll continue to blog about their results as the coming weeks unfold.

Also, feel free to shoot any questions my way. I’m more than happy to respond to your inquiries through this blog!

We’ve Come a Long Way

This morning, Steve Batterson of the Quad-City Times dropped by the ballpark to interview me for his “Getting to Know” feature for the paper. Every Wednesday, readers of the Times can “get to know” a different River Bandits personality through the weekly feature.

As Steve and I were chatting, one of his questions got me thinking about all of the changes that have gone on here over the last two years. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now. It can be an amazing thing to take a step back and look at how far we’ve come.

Some of you already know that I was the only full-time staff member retained through the ownership transition following the 2007 season. It sounds crazy, but the five years I’ve been with the club is considered a relatively long stay in this business.

Prior to the ownership change, working for the Swing of the Quad Cities wasn’t exactly the most sought-after job in the business. Attendance was down, the community had a poor perception of our operation, the front office experienced high turnover every off-season, and… well… you all saw the jerseys our players had to wear.

Through it all, however, it was clear that baseball could thrive in this market. What was so frustrating was that we did not have the opportunity to work towards that goal. It was a stagnant operation.

That all changed in 2007, when Main Street Iowa purchased the franchise from the previous owner, Seventh Inning Stretch.

Suddenly, wild ideas for outlandish promotions were welcome. Customer service was emphasized as a critical element to bringing the fans back. Resources were devoted to enhancing the fan experience through ballpark additions, zany promotions, and an improved production department.

It’s hard to believe that in only two seasons since the ownership change, total attendance has surged from 148,773 in 2007 to 222,858 and counting this year. When all is said and done, it will be an increase of nearly 100,000 fans per season in just two years. All you have to is look around the ballpark and you’ll need more than two hands to count all of the fantastic additions to an already beautiful facility in Modern Woodmen Park. And, best of all, fans are proud be boast the River Bandits as their hometown team again. I see people wearing Bandits hats and shirts all the time when I’m out in public. People hear that I work for the River Bandits and immediately begin rapid-firing questions about what its like to work for the club.

Things have come a long way over the past two years. And I’m proud to say that I was a part of it.

Home Sweet Home

What a wild one last night! The River Bandits ended up losing in 15 innings in Kane County, but other than the final score it was a fantastic ballgame. Five QC pitchers combined to hold the Cougars to six hits – only three of which left the infield – and four relievers put together a stretch in which 26 men in a row were retired at one point. That’s one out shy of a perfect game!!!

Unfortunately, what should have been the 27th consecutive out was instead played into a two-out error, ultimately leading to the unearned run that ended the night. Kevin Thomas will try to pitch the Bandits to a split in tonight’s road trip finale at Elfstrom Stadium.

Then, it’s back to Davenport on Saturday. And what a homestand we’ve got planned! Remember, there are only 11 home games remaining this season. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Eight of them come up this week and there are some fantastic promotions in store, so now’s the time visit the ballpark. For a full list of promotions you can click here. For Ben Chiswick’s personal favorites, read on…

The fun starts on Saturday night with the Rascal bobblehead doll giveaway. It’s the final installment of the four-part series featuring Brett Wallace, Pete Kozma, Steve Dillard and Rascal emerging from the corn field. SWEET collector’s items. But after the game, the Rockin’ Saturday concert is the best one yet – Dueling Pianos! Personally, I love Dueling Pianos. Always a good time. Somebody please make sure they don’t try to avoid playing “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel.

Sunday, we’re hosting an Xbox Madden 2010 tournament just two days after the game’s release. Awesome. Tuesday is going to be Salute to the Mustache. Sure, mustache’s can be kind of creepy, but I’ve got a feeling this will be highly entertaining.

Later in the week and into next week, a couple of other exciting things to talk about. Those of you that listen to me on the radio have likely heard me talking about BirdZerk! In fact, he was in Kane County last night (although I noticed he was conspicuously absent as the game went into the 15th). He is one of these traveling entertainment acts and is HILARIOUS. If you’ve got kids it’s a can’t-miss show, and he’ll be at Modern Woodmen Park on Thursday.

After a Rascal wind-up doll giveaway on Friday, Saturday the 21st is going to be Jimmy Buffett Night. You gotta love the Parrot Heads. What a laid-back bunch of dudes. I wish I had a Hawaiian shirt, then maybe they would let me into the club. The River Bandits will be wearing sweet Jimmy Buffett-style jerseys that will be auctioned off in support of Genesis Health System charities – a great cause.

If I haven’t given you good enough reasons to visit Modern Woodmen Park this week, then you should really stop trying to steal Christmas every year. Nobody likes a downer.

Bandits are back on Saturday and charging hard for the playoffs. See you at the ballpark, and wish us luck tonight in Kane County!

Really?

Four homers, 16 runs batted in and a 1.185 slugging percentage. Really? In his first seven games in the Midwest League?

On Monday, Xavier Scruggs – the River Bandits new first baseman – was named the Midwest League Player of the Week. In his first week. After missing the first two months of the season with a left bicep injury and playing just a handful of games with short-season Batavia.

All he did was lead the league in hits (15), home runs, RBI, slugging and extra-base hits (8). That’s all. Oh, and he also hit .556.

Not only has Scruggs been dominant in his first week of Midwest League action, but he has also stayed humble. You don’t here him barking about how well he is playing or admiring one of his four long home runs. He told me today that, while he has always beleived in his abilities, even he was a bit surprised at the gaudy numbers he has put up already.

A lot of guys would be trying to make up for lost time after being sidelined for two months to start the year. But Scruggs – who likely would have started the 2009 season with Quad Cities had it not been for an injury incurred while swinging a bat during spring training – is not afraid to go the other way with an outside pitch or stay patient and draw a walk despite potential RBI opportunities standing on the basepaths.

Take a listen to the conversation I had with Xavier after batting practice this afternoon, which will air on my pre-game show tonight: 081009 – Xavier Scruggs.WMA. On WYEC 93.9 FM or streaming through www.RiverBandits.com for those of you keeping track.

By the way, how about a special mention for new third baseman Jermaine Curtis? Had it not been for Scruggs’s monster week, Curtis may very well have been named the league’s best position player. His six doubles, four stolen bases and nine runs scored led the league, and he also was among the league leaders with seven extra-base hits (T-2), a .606 on-base percentage (3), an .833 slugging percentage (3) and a .458 batting average (5). Not bad. Curtis was a fifth-round pick out of UCLA in the 2008 draft.

No wonder the River Bandits have won five of their last eight games.