WHAT THE HELL IS THE VOLCANO DOING WRITING ABOUT MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL? >>>
Weeks of oppressive rainfall and colder than normal temperatures can mean only one thing in the South Sound: Spring has sprung.
Every year, the onset of spring means a couple of things here at the Weekly Volcano headquarters. Editor-in-Tyrant Matt Driscoll sends off a round of curt, ‘you better shape up' emails. The Swarner family has a collective catatonic meltdown, threatening to leave the thankless newspaper business once and for all. Many freelance writers disappear from civilization, trekking to faraway places for ill-conceived, pseudo-literary pilgrimages. Some come back. Most don't.
But most importantly, the onset of spring means the Weekly Volcano begins its coverage of Tacoma Rainiers baseball.
Wait. What's that? You can't remember the Weekly Volcano ever covering the Tacoma Rainiers? That's because we haven't. Sticking to only the highest of journalistic pursuits, the Weekly Volcano stays away from all but the highest caliber of sports coverage. But with new Cheney Stadium finally finished and the Tacoma Rainier's gearing up to defend their Pacific Coast League title, a collective decision was made for the Weekly Volcano Staff to delve into minor league baseball coverage.
So here we sit. Never mind the fact at least two papers in town already cover the Rainiers. Never mind that Matt Driscoll, myself and the variety of other scribes have zero experience covering baseball. These facts don't matter. What matters is we saw a lack of half-cocked, uneducated, minor league baseball coverage in the South Sound. A void - if you will - of quality, Volcano-ish coverage.
And like us writers always say, "we need to fill that void."
The Coverage ...
Today the Rainier's unveiled their opening day roster. With 11 players returning from last year, the Rainier's come to bat with a good chance at defending the PCL title. That is, of course, if the Major League affiliate Seattle Mariners don't gobble up some of the best talent. Those greedy Mariners.
Here's a speckling of the talent:
2nd Base Dustin Ackley- Far and away the star of this team. Ackley was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft. Baseball America has ranked him as the number one prospect in the Marnier's farm system.
Ackley did compete for a spot on the Mariner's during spring training, but the Marnier's brass decided he needed a little more time in the minors to work on his footwork. There might have been talk about Ackley joining ‘Dancing with the Stars' to improve said footwork, but those rumors were definitely unconfirmed.
Most likely, Ackley will only stick around in Triple A for a few months, so see him while you can.
Infielder Matt Tuiasosopo- Tuiasosopo enters his fourth season in a Rainier's uniform. He has a decent skillset and can play a variety of positions, something Daren Brown and the rest of the Rainier's coaching staff love to see. He frequently gets called up to Seattle, only to be frequently sent back down.
Tuiasosopo is a member of Pacific Northwest sports royalty, the Tuiasosopo's. They may not be the Mannings or the Williams sisters, but hey, we'll take what we can get.
3rd Base Alex Liddi- This year marks 22-year-old Alex Liddi's Triple-A debut. Liddi is ranked as the 13th best prospect in the Mariner's organization. Since he's coming up from Double-A West Tennessee, it's impossible to say how he'll handle the bright lights of Tacoma. But word on the street is he plays a mean hot corner.
Starting Pitcher Luke French- Teams yearn for capable southpaws. Last year, French went 11-3 with a 2.94 ERA in Tacoma. He also spent some time in Seattle, where his numbers were more pedestrian. He'll be Tacoma's Opening Day starter when the Rainiers play the Sacramento River Cats, Thursday, April 7th.
Outfielder Mike Carp- Carp can hit the ball a long way. He can also strikeout. We like him because his last name is Carp. It has also been rumored he has a tattoo of a carp (the fish) somewhere on his body. The Weekly Volcano staff hears it's near his caboose. But this rumor is definitely unconfirmed.
OK, that's just a sliver of the Rainier's lineup. We don't want to overload you with names like Chaz Roe, Carlos Peguero and Greg Halman too early on in the season. We plan on easing you into this Tacoma Rainier's coverage stuff, like a concerned nurse easing a geriatric patient into a warm bath.
The team opens the season on the road. Starting on April 7, they play four games at Sacramento then four games in Fresno, facing the Grizzlies. They return home Friday, April 15tto play the Sacramento River Cats. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. in the new Cheney Stadium. Fireworks will follow the game.
Look forward to more Rainiers coverage in the weeks and months to come. Like a nervous rookie A-Baller worried about veteran hazing, we are new to the sports coverage world. Please suggest anything we can do to improve. In the meantime: