Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Memorial fund set up for baseball players

By now everyone has heard about the tragedy that took the lives of Mitch Maclean, Tanner Crawell and Tabitha Stepple.  When I first heard about the murder-suicide, my initial reaction was "Shit. Wonder what led to that?" And I assumed it was some kind of domestic family dispute, and didn't think about it much more.  Then a few hours later when I saw on twitter that these were young baseball players who were alumni of Vauxhall, and had played for PBA and the Lethbridge Bulls, my reaction changed to "OH! SHIT!" and my heart sank.  Hey - I'm not a perfect human being.  I know I shouldn't have felt any differently.  A life is a life.  But somehow I felt closer to these young men.  I could relate to their hopes and dreams.  I could only imagine how their families felt. It hit me a lot harder than a random anonymous murder.  The baseball family is a fairly close knit group.   I might have umpired games these boys played in.  I might have cheered for (or against) them from the stands.  In baseball, fans say derogatory remarks about players or teams ("Yankees Suck!"),  teams battle against each other, coaches argue with umpires, umpires eject players, but in the end there are no hard feelings. We all love the game and there is a mutual respect among all the participants.  

But this post isn't about me and my feelings.  It's about helping to spread the word on how we can help out.  A memorial fund has been set up for these baseball players.  To donate, please visit any Bank of Nova Scotia Branch and tell them you are donating to the "Tanner Craswell and Mitch McLean Memorial Fund" or account number 00059 0157317.   From the comfort of your couch you can also send an email money transfer to  (Please note the spelling. It's the boys initials TC and MM followed by Memorial Fund).   For more information please take a look at the Prairie Baseball Academy, the Lethbridge Bulls  or the Vauxhall Baseball Academy websites

A trust fund has also been opened for Tabitha Stepple.  Please contact the Northside Scotia Bank in Lethbridge for details.

A trust fund has also been set up for the lone survivor of this senseless massacre, Shanya Conway, who is currently recovering.  You can donate through the TD Canada Trust bank.
Branch #80679

Hope all my readers have a safe holiday season.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tim Raines to speak at U of C baseball event

Tim Raines has been announced as the keynote speaker for the 2012 fundraising dinner for the University of Calgary Dinos baseball and fastball clubs. The event will take place on Thursday February 2nd at the Red & White Club at McMahon Stadium.  Tim Raines was one of the most exciting players to ever play in Canada, being a 7 time all-star for the Montreal Expos.

This annual event has seen such stars as Fergie Jenkins, Jack Morris and Bill Buckner in previous years (on the left, with yours truly), and is always an entertaining event.

This is your opportunity to listen to and have a chance to meet a likely future Hall of Famer.

For more details and to order tickets go to the University of Calgary's Recreation page.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

World Series Alberta connections

There are no Canadian players left in the postseason, but there are several members of both the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals who have ties to the Wild Rose Province (aka the Texas of Canada).  With a hat tip to Kevin Glew's Cooperstowners in Canada, here is a list of the participants with links to Alberta:

Texas Rangers:
1st Base Coach Gary Pettis - A centerfielder in his playing days, he spent 1983 in Edmonton, playing for the  Trappers of the PCL, leading the team in runs with 138, before being called up for good with the then-California Angels where he became 5 time Gold Glove winner. (editor's note:  I need to cutdown on run-on sentences!)

3rd Base Coach Andy Hawkins - This former 1st round draft pick had a couple of dubious distinctions, including winning a World Series game - the ONLY San Diego Padre player in their history with a WS win - as well as throwing a no-hitter for the Yankees in 1990, in a game he lost 4-0 - the biggest no-hit loss since the 19th century. After being released by Oakland in 1991, he was signed by Seattle and pitched for the Calgary Cannons in 1992 before shutting it down for good.

St. Louis Cardinals:
Along with having 1st Base Coach, Dave McKay, who was born in Canada, the Cardinals have some players who spent some time in Alberta.

Pitcher Chris Carpenter - This former Blue Jay started his professional csareer playing Rookie Ball for the Medicine Hat Blue Jays in 1994.

Pitcher Kyle Lohse - Like Pettis, he played in the PCL for the Edmonton Trappers, starting 8 games in 2001 before being called up by the Minnesota Twins

With 7 Albertans drafted this year, hopefully in the next few years we will see players born in Alberta participate in the Fall Classic.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wanna be a better ballplayer?

This blog serves many purposes, among them a place for young baseball players in the Province to go to learn about the different options they have.    On that note, I was recently contacted by the creator of a blog that is geared specifically for ball players wanting to learn about the next level.  That blog is a great resource for players wanting to know about the college recruitment process and has some excellent tips on what scouts look for.  The majority of the content is interviews with big league players and top college coaches. There is a lot of info that will help aspiring ballplayers get better. The college coaches talk about what they look for when scouting HS players and other things they can do to stand out.   There is also a  "Recruiting Corner" section for high school players to learn more about the college baseball recruiting process.  Whether you are a coach, a parent, or a player, I strongly encourage you to head over and check it out and help your player/son/self get any advantage he can to make it to the next level.

Albertans at Mizuno Junior Elite Baseball Camp

Several young Albertans are among the 60 players attending the 2011 Mizuno Camp which is running from Wednesday  September 7th to Saturday the 10th at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

The following players from our Province are currently at this camp:

  • Third Basemen Nolan Bumstead from Calgary
  • Pitchers Ryan Anderson and Markus Blair from St. Albert
  • Pitcher Mac Guckert from Red Deer
  • Pitcher CJ Lewington from Strathmore
  • Pitcher Cole Schneider from Fort Saksatchewan
  • Outfielder Carson Wlad from Calgary

This is a great opportunity for these 15 and 16 year olds, as not only will they be participating in workout

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August updates - National championships and more

Alberta had some success at the National stage, but ended up with no championships.
The Senior Men's team participated in Miramichi, NB and went 2-3.  Alberta did not field a team in the Junior division.  As mentioned previously, the Midget team took home a silver medal in Regina, losing to Ontario in the final.  The Bantam team also took a silver in Vaughan, ON,  losing to Quebec in the final game. Alberta sent 2  Peewee teams to the Western Championships in Nanaimo, BC, but neither one of them played in a medal game, as the host team took gold.

Closer to home, Lethbridge hosted the 16 & under championship tournament, which was won by Medicine Hat. The best players from this weekend will be representing Alberta on the 16 year old team at the Prospect Series in Swift Current starting on Friday, while the Alberta 15 year old team also participating there was picked from the Alberta Zone Championship.  Good luck to all the players selected!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August youth recap

It was a busy month for Alberta baseball-playing youth.

The August long weekend was the end of the Baseball Alberta Provincial Championships where teams fought to earn the right to represent Alberta at Western or Canadian championships.
At the Midget level, Foothills were crowned champions at the Performance level, and went on to the Nationals where they represented our province well, but ultimately lost to Ontario for the National Championship. Camrose were the Competitive champions, and went on to play in the Western Canadian AA Championship, where they went 1-3 in round-robin play, and did not qualify for the finals.
Foothills also won Bantam and will be playing at the National championships in Vaughan Ontario this weekend. Okotoks won the Bantam Competitive division, and needed to win their final round-robin game to earn a berth in the Western Canadian championship game, but were beaten by the host team from Morden Manitoba to be eliminated from contention.
At the PeeWee level, Sherwood Park A's won provincial gold, and along with the runner-up Braves from Red Deer are both representing Alberta at the PeeWee Western Championships in Nanaimo this weekend. The Camrose Cougars were the Competitive champions, and they played well at the PeeWee AA Western Championships, going 3-1 in round robin play, and making it to the championship game, which they lost having to settle for Silver.
Congratulations to all these teams for being good representatives of our Province. Congratulations also go out to the Mosquito St. Albert Cardinals who were provincial champions.

At the same time, the Montana-Alberta American Legion Baseball AA Championship Tournament took place. The Medicine Hat Monarchs made it all the way to the semi-finals before being eliminated. In the Northern District "A" Tournament, the Fort MacLeod Royals beat the Medicine Hat Knights to earn the right to play Great Falls in the championship game, but the Electrics beat the Royals to be named district champions.

The Western Canadians Summer Games also took place this month, where teams composed of players 15 and younger battled in Kamloops. Team Alberta went 6-1 in round-robin play and came from behind to beat BC in the gold medal game to be crowned champions.

The Canada Cup was played in Moncton NB, and it showcased the best 17 and under baseball players. Unfortunately, Alberta did not perform well, losing all 7 games.

The month still isn't over for many of these players. As mentioned earlier, the Bantam and PeeWee national championship are being played from August 25th to 28th, and the Prospect Series is being played over the Labour Day Weekend. This will feature 2 sets of teams, one for players 15 and under, and one for 16 and under. We wish all the teams representing Albeta at these tournaments the best of luck.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More than just a game

Came across something I thought I should share with my readers, and I wasn't sure whether to post it here  or on my Red Sox Nation Alberta blog.

This blog has stories of interest to baseball fans in Alberta.  Whether it's about a local team or academy or tournaments or camps or tryouts, or players who have moved on and are enjoying success elsewhere, or famous players who are in the province for whatever reason, the common theme is that it's about baseball and is of particular interest to Albertans.

The RSN blog has stories that are of interest to Red Sox fans.  It's slightly geared towards Albertans or Canadians, but is also of interest to fans from elsewhere, whether it's Boston or Bangladesh.  Red Sox Nation knows no borders.

This story isn't about anything to do with Alberta.  Or the Red Sox.
For that matter it really has very little to do with baseball.
So why am I writing about it?  Because it's about more than just a game.  And in the grand scheme of things way more important.

So I'm posting in both places to try and reach a wider audience.

Please read it by clicking on the link to the Seamheads website below:

And if after reading it you suddenly find out that all that dust in your computer must have gotten in your eyes and they're watering, please click on the donation widget at that page and help if you can.  And pass the link along to anyone else who might be touched by it.

The writer of the article above also passed along the following information:

A Luncheon will be held for Jim and his family in early August and items will be auctioned off.  If you can contribute something to the auction or know someone who might be willing to, I'd be forever in your debt.  I didn't know Jim well but we share mutual friends and I hope to get to know him better over the coming months.  None of us knows his fate but he's fighting as hard as he can and everything we can do for the Orr family will help.

If you want to donate an item (or items) to the auction, please send it to me and I'll make sure it gets where it needs to go:

12630 SE Stephens St.
Portland, OR 97233 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Albertans representing Canada at World Baseball Challenge

The 2011 World Baseball Challenge is under way, and Alberta is well represented on the Canadian National Team.  Among the Albertans selected to the squad are Calgary natives Colin Moro and Geoff Freeborn, who have both played for their hometown Calgary Vipers and Dustin Northcott from Rocky Mountain House.  Another player with Albeta ties is Jordy Alexander, who although a BC native, currently resides in Calgary.

All these players have helped Canada so far.  Colin Moro was a big part of the offense, scoring in a 4 run 1st inning,  and knocking in a run and scoring in the 4th inning, when Canada put up 4 more runs, en route to an easy 13-7 victory over Bahamas on Sunday.   On Monday, Dustin Northcott and Geoff Freeborn both pitched scoreless frames, helping Canada preserve a 6-2 victory over Beijing.  On Tuesday, Jordy Alexander threw a hitless inning and Moro knocked in another run, but it was not enough as the undefeated and always tough Cuban squad defeated Canada 9-4.

Play continues with games against Japan on Wednesday, and the round-robin play finishes on Thursday with a match against Chinese Tapei.  The playoffs start on Friday with the championship game being played on Sunday afternoon.

Best of the luck to these Albertan players and the rest of their teammates on the Canadian National Team.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What to do when it rains? Play!

I love baseball.  I used to play and coach, and now I watch – both as a fan and parent -  and I umpire games too.  I would to go to a game every day if I could.  But living in Alberta, the weather isn’t very co-operative.  We only have a few months where baseball can be played, and have to deal with our share of rainouts (and snowouts, hailouts, lightningouts… you get the idea).   So what to do when it’s winter, or you have an unexpected free evening in the summer and you can’t get to the ballpark?  The next best thing is to play a baseball simulation game.

When I initially got a PC one of the first programs I installed on it was Earl Weaver Baseball.  I thought this was the best baseball simulation game that could ever be made. I could set up lineups and make trades.  How could a game possibly ever be any better?   (At the same time I thought that an IBM XT PC with 640 K of RAM was more than I could ever possibly need.  After all, I wasn’t NASA- why would I ever need a whole MB of RAM on my home computer? But I digress).   Well, comparing the latest version of OOTP to this initial baseball simulation game would be like comparing PONG to Call of Duty.  Sure they’re both video games, and you can control what you see on the screen through some type of interface – but that’s where the similarities end.  I did a very quick summary of how much I liked this game the night I got it, and now that I've played it for a bit, I thought I'd expand on my initial review.

With OOTP 12, you not only get to set your team’s lineups, but pretty much everything else that a real live GM needs to deal with.  In fact, if I was a baseball owner looking for a new GM, I might skip the interview process and judge the applicants on how well they do playing this game.  Setting your lineups, pitching rotations and bullpen roles are just the tip of the iceberg.  You not only draft players, but you decide where to spend your scouting budget on.  Do you want to just concentrate on the typical  baseball hotbeds, or do you want to spend a little bit of money scouting in, say, Portugal, so you get a leg up on competition if there’s any talent there?  You have to keep your eyes open on waiver wires, be careful who you try to sneak past them to send to the minors lest they be stolen from you, and deal with contract negotiations.  The game is flexible enough that you can bypass all of these details, and simulate a season fairly quickly, or you can literally take hours to simulate a single day.

I initially played a quick season, recreating my childhood 1975 Red Sox pennant winners, to see if I could get a different outcome.  In the simulation they won their division and had to face the A’s in the playoffs, just like in '75.  However, there is a limit to how much the game mimicked real life events, and in this simulation Vern Ruhle did not break Jim Rice's wrist which a lot of fans think would have been the difference between winning and losing that Classic Series to the Reds.  Alas, the A’s beat us in the ALCS and I didn’t get a chance to recreate history against Cincinnati.   I then played the 2011 season in detail, as the Sox GM and took care of every detail.   John Henry’s expectation was to win a Championship and when the team was floundering into June, he was unhappy and I felt the pressure and was worried I was going to get fired.  I made a series of moves – which may have depleted my farm for the future – and managed to win the pennant, and save my job.

This game lets you play a virtual infinite number of different modes.  You can set up your own leagues and teams.  Realign divisions and change rules.  I could do an expansion draft and bring the Calgary Vipers and Edmonton Capitals into the league and see how long it would take me to make those teams competitive.   

Now that I have OOTP 12 installed, instead of dreading any upcoming rainouts, I might secretly be hoping for them, so I have more time to play!

Take a look here for more information on the game and how to buy it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

7 players from Alberta taken in annual MLB draft

Yesterday, Adam Paulencu, Ethan Elias and Jake Hansen were selected on day 2 of the draft.  Joining them as MLB draftees from Alberta today were LHP Sheldon McDonald from Spruce Grove,  outfielder Cory Scammell from Edmonton, Ryan Thompson who I previously wrote about, and Brendan Hendricks.

Some other names notable to Albertans including LHP Sean Dartnell who went to Vauxhall Academy and 1B Trevor Gretzky who I'm told had a dad who was a professional athlete in our province.

Here's a summary of Albertan's drafted in the 2011 MLB draft:

Adam Paulencu 
Spruce Grove
Ethan Elias 
Jake Hansen
Fort MacLeod
Sheldon MacDonald
Spruce Grove
Cory Scammell
Ryan Thompson

Fort McMurray
Brendan Hendricks

3 Albertans drafted in Day 2

{editor’s note:  I wrote this last night, but due to technical difficulties was unable to post it on the blog until after the end of the 3rd day.}
There were no Canadians taken in the first round of the MLB draft.  On day 2, Tom Robson was the first Canadian taken as expected, when the Blue Jays selected the big LHP with their 4th round pick.   RHP Adam Paulencu of Spruce Grove was the first Albertan taken when the Giants took him in the 13th round.   The next local prospect taken was another RHP, Ethan Elias of Entwistle who went to the Cubs in the 22nd round.  The third and last Albertan drafted today was another pitcher, this time a southpaw. Jake Hansen from Fort MacLeod was taken in the 30th round by the Mets.

There are still several outstanding prospects available, including Ryan Thompson and Cory Scammell, who are likely to be taken in tomorrow’s rounds.  I will post an article with the results of the final day after tomorrow.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dale Anderson leads Seton Hall to NCAA Regionals

There are 64 teams who earned an entry into the annual NCAA baseball tournament to ultimately crown a College World Series Champion.  There are several Canadians playing on these rosters, but only one player is from Alberta. That is Strathmore's own Dale Anderson.  Read my article about how he helped the underdog Seton Hall Pirates beat #1 UConn on the way to win the Big East Championship, and are now playing in the NCAA Regionals.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Badlands Baseball Academy

There is another new high school age baseball academy starting up in the fall in Alberta.  The Badlands Baseball Academy is setting up in Oyen.   Here is an article I wrote for the Canadian Baseball Network with some of the highlights of this program.  More details can be found on their website at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life in the Prairies after MLB

Editor's note:  I wrote the following article on Calgarian Chris Reitsma,  and it's been published on the Canadian Baseball Network
Chris Reitsma is an accomplished baseball player, from being the first Canadian ever drafted in the first round to pitching for Team Canada in the 2008 Olympics. In between he has had many other memorable moments. But at times it seemed like powers were conspiring against him to prevent his dream of playing in the bigs a reality. Prior to making the majors he broke his pitching arm not once, not twice, but three times, as well as suffering breaks to his leg, collarbone, fingers and toes.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

MLB Pitch, Hit & Run coming to Alberta

Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run (PHR) is an official skills competition that provides boys and girls the chance to advance through four levels of competition, including Team Championship events at all 30 Major League ballparks and the National Finals at the MLB All-Star Game.   This is a FREE 1-day event for boys and girls ages 7-14.

There will be 3 hosts of the MLB PHR in Alberta this year:
Lethbridge - April 30th at 1 PM at Spitz Stadium.  Hosted by Southern Alberta Little League: Contact
Calgary - May 14 at 10 AM at Foothills Stadium.  Hosted by Calgary Redbirds.  Contact
Calgary - May 15 at 12 noon at Blackfoot Baseball Diamonds.  Hosted by Calgary Rocky Mountain Little League. Contact

More details at

Friday, April 29, 2011

Talent ID camps rescheduled

The talent ID camps previously posted for 16/17 year olds for Canada Cup, and for 13-15 for the Alberta Zone Championship and Western Canada Summer Games that had been postponed have now been rescheduled:
Medicine Hat - Sunday, May 1st - 4:00pm - Athletic Field
Lethbridge - Monday, May 2nd - 5:30pm - Spitz Stadium

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Albertans lead Junior National Team to win

Jake Hansen of Fort MacLeod threw 3 shutout innings, while Jordan Procyshen of Calgary and Brendan Hendriks of Cochrane helped the offence as the Junior National Team defeated the Washington Nationals 
extended spring team 7-4.

The team has 2 games left, tomorrow and Friday against the Tigers and Astros before returning home on the weekend.  They will then be back in action from May 18th to May 26th in the Dominican Summer League.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Talent ID camps

I had previously posted a schedule of Canada Cup ID camps for 16/17 years olds.

At the same times and locations, the Talent ID camps will be held for 13-15 year olds interested in trying out for the Alberta Zone Championship and the Western Canada Summer Games.  Please look here for registration and other information.

Due to the recent poor weather in the southern part of our province, the first camps have had to be postponed.
Please look at the Alberta Amateur Baseball Council's website for updates on rescheduling.

Postponed Medicine HatAthletic ParkLovell McDonnel 
Spitz StadiumAaron Lavorato 
May 6thCalgary 6:00pm Optimist Park Miki Kawahara 
May 9thCalgary 5:30pm Inland Park Matt McLane 
May 10thOkotoks 5:30pm Seaman StadiumBrett Thomas 
May 16th Sherwood Park5:30pm Heights Park Curtis Denney 
May 17thRed Deer 5:30pm Edgar Park Terry Letkeman  
May 24thEdmonton 5:30pmCallingwood Park Dan Rude 
May 31stSt. Albert 5:30pm Legion Memorial Ed Ewasiuk 
June 2ndGrande Prairie 5:30pm Evergreen Park Mona Turner 
June 6thFt. McMurray 5:30pm Ron Morgan Park Paul McWilliams
June 7thElk Point 6:30pm Basset Field Lorn Berg 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jose Canseco

I posted yesterday on my Red Sox blog that Jose Canseco was going to be player manager for an NABL team that will be playing in Edmonton and Calgary.   In retrospect it probably made more sense to post that on this blog.   Whatever.   Read the details here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Albertans in MLB

There are 16 Canadian players on opening day rosters.  From new household names such as defending MVP Joey Votto to those who were around BEFORE the Blue Jays had won a World Series (Matt Stairs).  And these players come from coast to coast, but not a single one of these is from Alberta.  Hopefully this will change in the next few seasons, as the Canadian Baseball Network has released its annual list of Canadians playing college ball, and there are 74 Albertan baseball players on the rosters of schools playing college south of the border.
Among the notables are RHP Ryan Thompson, LHP Ryan Kennedy and 3B Jesse Sawyer who are all on the