River Cats head to Scottsdale – Part 2

Joe Panik walks to batting cage at Scottsdale Stadium

Joe Panik walks to batting cage at Scottsdale Stadium

The River Cats front office made a trip down to Scottsdale toward the end of Spring Training to meet the coaching staff and start building a relationship with the Giants Player Development Staff. We also hoped to get to see some future River Cats in action and gather some intel on who might be opening the season with the Cats at Raley Field on April 9th. During the first part of our trip we saw Madison Bumgarner pitch with the Triple-A group at the minor league complex and watched the Giants play the Giants Futures at Scottsdale Stadium.

After the Futures game we had the opportunity to meet up with the River Cats field staff and various Giants staff for dinner and continue to foster relationships and talk about the upcoming season. The more we hung out with them the clearer it became that the Giants as a whole are beyond excited, as are we, about the new affiliation. Everyone down in Arizona is ready to get out of Spring Training and into the regular season. Needless to say that when the River Cats team is announced, the coaching staff will have them ready to roll for the season opener against the Salt Lake Bees.

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Giants vs. Dodgers Lineup, March 29th, 2015

On Sunday morning we stopped by big league camp to get a few player interviews before heading to the minor league complex. At the complex we ran into the 2014 Commissioner’s Trophy…The Giants have a few of these now so they seem to be everywhere. Naturally we all took a few pictures with the trophy before getting down to business. While the trophy was rushed away to its next photo-op we went to the practice field. Down by the batting cage, River Cats mainstay and radio broadcaster Johnny Doskow had the chance to interview Sacramento Manager Bob Mariano, prospect Ty Blach, and Sacramento native John Bowker. After we watched BP and pre-game warm-ups, the top two groups at minor league camp made preparations for an inter-squad game so we rushed off to Scottsdale Stadium for the big league game against the rival Dodgers!

The Giants fielded many of their everyday players such as Matt Cain, Buster Posey, and Joe Panik against a split-squad Dodgers team led by starting pitcher Carlos Frias. The game was full of action with 20 combined runs and several Giants trying to make their case for the big league club. Matt Duffy and Justin Maxwell led the Giants going a combined 5 for 7 and driving in 4 runs. In a crazy game, the Giants came out on top 11-9.

Giants vs Dodgers, Scottsdale Stadium

Giants vs Dodgers, Scottsdale Stadium

The end of the Giants-Dodger game unfortunately signaled the end of our trip. Although it was nice to get away from the heat (at least for a few weeks) and get back to beautiful Sacramento, we had gotten used to the Giants incredible hospitality and excitement. We look forward the beginning of our season and meeting our team of talented you men on Monday, April 6th. We certainly hope you are all as pumped as we are, and we cannot wait to see you on Opening Night, April 9th at Raley Field!!

River Cats head to Scottsdale – Part 1

Center fielder Brett Jackson taking Batting Practice at Giants Minor League complex

Center fielder Brett Jackson taking Batting Practice at Giants Minor League complex

After a long winter, spring is finally here and baseball has begun in Arizona! Spring Training is entering its final weekend so the River Cats’ Front Office sent some representatives down to Scottsdale to check out the action and to see who might be suiting up for the Cats when the season opens April 9th at Raley Field! GM Chip Maxson, Promo Manager Dane Lund, Radio Broadcaster Johnny Doskow, and Baseball Ops/PR Assistant Daniel Emmons descended on Scottsdale Friday where it was warm to say the least. The goal was to connect with the River Cats field staff, see some of the team workouts, and get some insight into who will be on the roster when the Sacramento River Cats open the season against the Salt Lake Bees .

The first day of the trip was a success! We were able to meet with the River Cats coaching staff, see some on field workouts at the minor league complex, get some interviews with Giants fans in the area, and even see Madison Bumgarner get in some work Bumgarner tossed six innings with the Triple-A group at minor league camp to work on some things in a more controlled environment. The Giants top minor league players faced the minor leaguers from the A’s and it was great to get our first taste of some future Cats. In less than two weeks, many of these guys will be taking the Field in Sacramento.

Sun setting over the Giants Minor League Complex in Scottsdale, AZ

Sun setting at the Giants Minor League Complex in Scottsdale, AZ

Day two started at Scottsdale Stadium where we caught up with some of the guys at big league camp and watched the pre-game workout. The Giants were set for a split squad afternoon, with one team playing the Mariners in Peoria and the other playing a “Future Giants” squad at Scottsdale Stadium. As they finished up their workout we made the quick trip to the minor league complex and had lunch with the Giants farm director, Shane Turner.

Giants vs. Giants Futures at Scottsdale Stadium

Giants vs. Giants Futures at Scottsdale Stadium

Just as it was on Friday, Saturday was very hot with no clouds in sight. A fantastic day for baseball. The Giants vs. Giants Futures game featured right-hander Yusmeiro Petit for the Giants and left-handed prospect Ty Blach. The futures team went through a six pitchers in the first six innings, including two of the Giants top pitching prospects, Kyle Crick and Tyler Beede. The game included future River Cats on both sides and it was a blast to see the Giants face each other in the annual Futures exhibition. As for the game, the Futures blanked the Giants for six innings. In the fourth, second baseman Austin Slater got the Futures team on the board opposite field home run, and the Futures squad added one more on a groundout by Mitch Delfino following singles by Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson. The Giants pulled even in the 7th inning and the game ended with a 2-2 nine-inning tie

A wonderful start to the trip, getting in touch with the roots of the Giants minor league system. We look forward to dinner with the River Cats coaches and Giants Player Development Staff tonight and tomorrow getting more time at both big league camp and the minor league complex. We’ll be interviewing more of the 2015 River Cats, getting to know our Field Staff, and seeing the Giants face the Dodgers on Sunday.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Spring Training trip and check in throughout the season for player interviews, features and other fun River Cats content!

San Francisco Giants Trophy Tour at Raley Field

Last night at Raley Field, the River Cats welcomed the San Francisco Giants Trophy Tour, featuring the World Champion trophies from 2010, 2012 & 2014. Approximately 4,400 fans attended with their families and friends to witness a historical piece of baseball history, and also to welcome the River Cats inaugural affiliation with the Giants. The 4,400 fans who participated in yesterday’s event also were involved in another element of history. According to the Giants, it was the largest estimated attendance of any event featuring the trophies!

Yesterday was truly a perfect afternoon to host the tour, with temperatures remaining in the mid-sixties throughout the majority of the afternoon. However, as the sun set, cold air blasted through Sacramento and across Raley Field for the duration of the evening, causing temperatures to plummet into the low-forties. With that being said, our concession staff was more than prepared, and offered hot beverages for purchase on the concourse and near the third base dugout. Even with the cold temperatures, fans remained in wonderful spirits as they anxiously waited their turn in line to view and take pictures with the three World Series trophies.

(Photo Credit: Sacramento Bee)

Fans also had an opportunity to visit with representatives at stations on the concourse featuring CalFit, the Sacramento Bee and other sales tables to purchase exciting new memberships for 2015.

The On Deck Shop also remained open throughout the night, and even set up a kiosk on the third base concourse to give everybody in attendance a chance to pick up Giants World Champions gear, River Cats apparel and all other team merchandise.

The Junior Giants had a tent available as well near the exit of Raley Field. We would like to send out a special thank you to everybody who contributed donations to their fundraiser, and to all fans who came out last night, battled the cold elements and helped the City of Sacramento celebrate the San Francisco Giants Trophy Tour! We look forward to seeing you on Opening Day, just a few short months away!

 

 

Military Homecoming at Raley Field

As the holidays are quickly approaching, it makes us think about our loved ones both near and far. Last week, Raley Field had the pleasure of welcoming, reuniting, and honoring a Navy veteran returning from a deployment. For the first time in eight months, DC1 (SW) Michael Warren was able to see his wife, Nicole, and kids, Jakob and Kevin, in person. The best part was that the kids had no clue they would be seeing their dad that day.

Having returned from deployment the day before, his lovely wife set up a great surprise meeting for the kids. Starting off the day, Nicole, Jakob, Kevin, and a few other family members headed to Raley Field for a private tour of Raley Field with Mike on the Mic.

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Meanwhile, Michael waited in the River Cats Clubhouse for his family to come through the doors at the end of the tour. With the help of the San Francisco Giants organization, Jakob and Kevin entered the clubhouse to find Giants/River Cats swag . While they were distracted with their new merchandise, their dad comes from behind to give them the surprise of a lifetime. This amazing homecoming ended with some catch on the field with their dad.

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Needless to say the reuniting moments that followed were tear-jerking, heart-warming memories that will last a lifetime for all who witnessed. We are so glad that we could be a part of such a wonderful and rewarding experience.

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On behalf of the River Cats and Raley Field, welcome home DC1 (SW) Michael Warren and thank you for your services.

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*Thank you to the Giants organization for providing merchandise to make this moment that much more special.

Mike on the Off-Season. Where does the Entertainment MC go when baseball season ends?

Hey River Cats fans! Mike on the Mic here!

If you have been to a River Cats game in the last four baseball seasons, then you have seen the work that I do during games, running all over Raley Field conducting games, trivia challenges and promotions. It is my job, along with our outstanding Cat Crew, to keep the energy up and put smiles on the faces of the thousands of fans who visit Raley Field during each game.  As our season was coming to an end this last September, a handful of fans asked me what I will be doing to keep busy this off-season. I figured I would take this opportunity to give a little peak into the off-season of your favorite (and only!) River Cats MC!

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As light hearted and goofy as my work is that I do during games, my off-season work is a little bit more serious, but just as much fun! If you were too look at my business card, it would describe me as the “Community Outreach Coordinator and In-Game Entertainment MC”. The MC part actually comes second. I work for the River Cats all year round and am only the MC for the 72+ home games here at Raley Field. For the rest of the year, I am working diligently to lead our community outreach efforts. I do this in a number of ways; assemblies, speaking/hosting engagements and Cats Care events.

On average, I will speak to approximately 100 schools in the Sacramento area every year. I visit a few high schools every year, primarily for career days to discuss job opportunities in sports and how to properly prepare yourself with education to be as successful as you can be. I will also visit a handful of middle schools, mostly to discuss the importance of making good choices, how to prepare yourself for the hard work in high school, and the value of that hard work in preparation for college. The majority of my assemblies are for elementary schools. I speak to the students about what it means to be Triple-A, but not minor league baseball. How is that for a riddle? How can one speak about Triple-A and NOT talk about minor league baseball?! The Triple-A that I speak to the students about is the three A’s of success; Attitude, Attendance and Academics. I admit, I do use a few examples from minor league baseball to demonstrate the importance of working hard at these three things. I primarily speak from personal experience with a few stories as well as sharing stories about successful people like Jackie Robinson in order to educate the students on the value of a positive attitude, good attendance and working hard in school to succeed in academics. I absolutely LOVE performing these assemblies. These assemblies are at zero cost to the schools. If you are connected to a school and would like to bring in the Triple-A program, please contact Eddie Eixenberger at eeixenberger@rivercats.com (public schools) or Joey Van Cleave at jvancleave@rivercats.com (private schools).

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I have the pleasure of speaking to many adult groups as well. Throughout the year, I will be the keynote speaker for Rotary organizations, fundraisers for little leagues and as the event MC for a variety of different charities and non-profit organizations. Over this last year, I have MC’d a great variety of events! Everything from The Sacramento Moustache Run benefiting the American Cancer Society to the Miss Placer County pageant and the Annual Corn Dog Eating Competition at the Sacramento County Fair. If you would be interested in having me as an MC or Host for an event, please feel free to email me at MikeontheMic@rivercats.com and we will see what we can do!

One of my favorite things about the River Cats is the commitment to the community. We recently launched a new community support initiative called Cats Care. The purpose of Cats Care is to give our employees and fans an opportunity to work together in a variety of different ways to support the community. Since its inception, Cats Care has supplied volunteers to help with a variety of 5k runs for charity, participated in The Great American River Clean Up helping to beautify Discovery Park, and most recently, helped distribute food at The Sacramento Food Bank and Family Service’s Turkey Distribution Event. If you would like to participate as a member of Cats Care or request volunteers for a charitable event, please email me at mikeonthemic@rivercats.com and we will help to the best of our abilities.

River Clean Up

Aside from these wonderful responsibilities, you can often find me with our street team at fun events all over the Sacramento area and enjoying the company of fellow River Cats fans and employees at one of our Thirsty Thursday events downtown. For info on any of the above mentioned activities, feel free to shoot over an email!

Thank you to all of you who have made my time with the River Cats the best summers of my life, and I look forward to seeing you all next season! Go Cats!

Sincerely,

Mike on the Mic

The answers you have been waiting for (’09 Trivia)

The time as come for the answers to be revealed. I know you all were waiting on the edge of your seats for this. I hope you had as much fun figuring out the answers as I did creating this trivia quiz. I threw you all for a loop with number 5 with an error in his current career, but you all can read below to find that out. Enjoy!

1) Jeff Baisley is from Florida and attended Land O’ Lakes High School. His dad was a legendary coach there and they ended up naming the high school baseball field after him.


2) Eric Patterson played 2B and some OF with the River Cats in 2009 and is famously stole home in a game that year at Raley Field. His brother played with the Chicago Cubs and he actually came up through the Cubs system originally.


3) Cliff Pennington was the starting SS for the River Cats for much of the year in 2009 and was a former 1st round pick of the A’s. He is now 30 and plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played my collegiate baseball at Texas A & M.

4) Anthony Recker caught for most of the year with the River Cats in 09 and did a little DHing as well. He is now the backup catcher for the New York Mets and he married former homegrown lefty Brad Kilby’s cousin.


5) Brad Kilby is the homegrown lefty from Elk Grove. It was a thrill to pitch for the River Cats as he attended River Cats games when he was in high school and college. He made his big league debut on September 2nd, 2009. *After coaching baseball at Franklin High School for a year, he is now the Pitching Coach at Cosumnes River College.


6) Sean Doolittle played the outfield, first base, and DH’d for a bit the first part of 2009. He became a pitcher, making the conversion in 2011 and worked his way to the big leagues in 2012. He is now an all-star closer and at one point in 2014, he had walked one and struck out 63 batters.

7) Chris Denorfia could have made millions being a voiceover specialist as he has the gift of a “movie trailer voice”. Instead, he is now a major league baseball player and with the San Diego Padres over the last several years he has put up good numbers as an everyday outfielder in the big leagues. He finished 2014 with the Seattle Mariners. He was the River Cats center fielder and right fielder in 2009.


8) Tommy Everidge played some first base and was the designated hitter at times in 2009. He made his big league debut at Fenway Park on July 28th that year starting at first base for the Oakland A’s.

So how did you all do? Perfect score? 50/50? I’m sure you did great! Thanks for playing along

Sacramento River Cats Trivia Time (2009)

Let’s go back 5 ½ years ago to 2009 and test your River Cats knowledge. I am trusting you to not go to the internet to get your answers. I will have all of the correct answers in my next blog. Good luck!

Match the statements with the correct player (Answers will be in the next blog)

1) – I am from Florida and attended Land O’ Lakes High School. My dad was a legendary coach there and they ended up naming the high school baseball field after him. Who am I?
2) – I played 2B and some OF with the River Cats in 2009 and I famously stole home in a game that year at Raley Field. My brother played with the Chicago Cubs and I actually came up through the Cubs system originally. Who am I?
3)- I was the starting SS for the River Cats for much of the year in 2009 and I am a former 1st round pick of the A’s. I am now 30 and play for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I played my collegiate baseball at Texas A & M. Who am I?
4- I caught for most of the year with the River Cats in 09 and did a little DHing as well. I am now the backup catcher for the New York Mets and I married former homegrown lefty Brad Kilby’s cousin. Who am I?
5) – I am the homegrown lefty from Elk Grove. It was a thrill to pitch for the River Cats as I attended River Cats games when I was in high school and college. I made my big league debut on September 2nd, 2009. I am now coaching baseball at Franklin High School. Who am I?
6) – I played the outfield, first base, and I DH’d for a bit the first part of 2009. I became a pitcher, making the conversion in 2011 and worked my way to the big leagues in 2012. I am now an all-star closer and at one point in 2014, I had walked one and struck out 63 batters. Who am I?
7) – I could have made millions being a voiceover specialist as I have the gift of a “movie trailer voice”. Instead, I am now a major league baseball player and with the San Diego Padres over the last several years I have put up good numbers as an everyday outfielder in the big leagues. I finished 2014 with the Seattle Mariners. I was the River Cats center fielder and right fielder in 2009. Who am I?
8) – I played some first base and was the designated hitter at times in 2009. I made my big league debut at Fenway Park on July 28th that year starting at first base for the Oakland A’s. Who am I?

Relax and take yourself back to 2009. I will have the answers for you in the next blog.

Park Factors 101

You may have heard of the terms “hitter’s park” and “pitcher’s park” being used to describe ballparks both in the PCL and MLB. These terms are used to indicate that some parks tend to feature games with more runs, while others tend to suppress offense. This is because unlike in most sports, baseball’s playing field is not standardized. Plus, the differing climates and altitudes also affect play (for example, the thin, dry air of Colorado helps balls fly farther, while the sea-level humid air of San Francisco supresses hits).

Measuring a ballpark’s offensive or defensive inclinations is called Park Factors. Park Factors uses a simple mathematical formula to calculate the relative amount of offense a ballpark has in comparison to the rest of the league. This is the one ESPN uses to calculate MLB ballpark factors:

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And here’s why it works.

The formula combines all the runs scored at the home ballpark and divides it by number of games, which comes out to the average (the mean) total number of runs scored in each game.

It also combines all the runs scored in games played by that ballpark’s team away from that park and divides it by the number of games, which comes out to the average total number of runs scored in each away game. Since those games feature the same players that also played at the home ballpark, the only variable that changes is the ballpark. By dividing the two, you are level with a number that indicates if more or fewer runs are scored at the home ballpark than at all other ballparks in the league.

If the home ballpark is perfectly average, the Park Factor is 1.000, meaning that the average number of runs scored at the home ballpark is the same as the average number of runs scored at all the other ballparks.

If the home ballpark is a “hitter’s park,” the Park Factor is above 1.000, which means a higher than average number of runs is scored at the home ballpark.

If the home ballpark is a “pitcher’s park,” the Park Factor is below 1.000, which means fewer runs are scored at that park than other parks on average.

This formula can work for any counting statistic: hits, doubles, triples, home runs, and so on, just by replacing “runs.” The Park Factor for each statistic changes because some parks’ dimensions encourage certain types of hits, such as AT&T Park’s infamous Triple’s Alley.

Here is ESPN’s list of MLB Park Factors for 2014. If you don’t quite feel like clicking on that link, just know that our MLB affiliate San Francisco Giants play in a pitcher’s park. AT&T Park’s Park Factor is .920 (25th overall), with a Home Run Park Factor of .677 (dead last).

Of course, playing in a pitcher’s park is nothing new to River Cats fans. Here are the Raley Field Park Factors for 2014:

Runs: .728

Hits: .846

Home runs: .681

That means in each of the main three offensive categories, Raley Field allows fewer than the PCL average. This doesn’t mean that games lack runs, however – the PCL is one of the highest scoring leagues in North America. It just means that Raley Field will help the ace pitching prospects the Giants are notorious for developing.

How It’s Made: Theme Night Jerseys

One of the more unique aspects of minor league sports is the theme night jersey. Eschewing their normal colors and logos, for one night a team can honor the military, be R2-D2, or raise money for breast cancer awareness. One minor league hockey team even honored Seinfeld’s famous puffy shirt episode. They’re some of the most anticipated nights on the schedule.

A lot of work goes behind the scenes to produce these specialty jerseys. To illustrate the process of creating one, we’ll take you through how we created last season’s Social Media Night jersey.

The process begins far in advance of the night itself. It begins the previous season, when the themes nights are thought of and planned. After the theme nights are decided upon, we choose a few that we think could have really awesome specialty jerseys that could raise money for some great causes. One night was Social Media Night, held on August 13.

Once an idea has been decided upon, details start getting hashed out. We knew it had to tie in closely with social media, and we wanted our players’ Twitter handles to be on the back.With those two guides, the design process started.

First, a more solid theme was hammered down. We knew that it was “Social Media,” but that could be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or some amaglam of all of them and more. Guided by the knowledge that the Twitter handles were going to be in place of the standard nameplates, we settled on Twitter-themed jerseys.

The next step was the graphic design equivalent of throwing everything at a wall and seeing what sticks. Lots ofdesigns were created, most of them not very good, in an effort to find a good idea.

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After the “@RiverCats” logo was chosen as the main point of the jersey, the rest of the jersey was designed around it. With the predilection for hashtags being apparent in the logo concepts, we decided to bring the hashtags into the sleeves.

To balance out the slanted “River Cats” logo, we added the Verified logo. And rather than throwing out the logo that evoked Twitter’s old “t” logo, we used that as a sleeve patch. We finished off the jersey with the nameplates, using the internet’s official font: Impact. This concept was sent to the printer for their edits.

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Finally, we got the final version from the printer, who makes color and pattern edits that perfects the jersey. The entire process, from first deciding to create a jersey to actually getting the jersey to give to the players, takes almost an entire year. It’s a long process, but it’s worth it, don’t you think?

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Yes, that means we are in the process of creating a slew of specialty jerseys right now, to go with theme nights old and new. But we’re not giving any hints… yet.

Exciting update of the new Western Health Advantage Legacy Club

Construction on the new Western Health Advantage Legacy Club continues at Raley Field this offseason.

Fans came down to the ballpark all last week to sign the steel beam for the Topping Out ceremony.

Topping Ceremony

DesCor Builders’ cranes have been working all week setting the columns to extend the suite level.

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Beams are now going into place for the deck structure.

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The indoor/outdoor area will feature a private bar, as well as inside and outside seating for dinner. Fans who have a Western Health Advantage Legacy Club Membership receive access to the club as well as an all-you-can-eat menu to every River Cats home game.

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A bonus: More shade at Raley Field now too!

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The Western Health Advantage Legacy Club is the brand new all-inclusive area reserved exclusively for Sacramento River Cats Members. This 5,000 square foot area is located on the third base side of Raley Field on the suite level.

Exterior

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For more information on how you can get your Western Health Advantage Legacy Club Membership, email us at tickets@rivercats.com or call 916-371-HITS (4487).

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