This week on the site, we're going to bring you the
first of two Niagara Metros' roster updates for the start of the 2012 season. With just over a week until opening day,
the Metros' coaching staff is working feverishly to set the team's roster, and despite some of the rain we've endured, "the
show must go on", and preparations continue. By the 7th of May, the roster should be pretty much set...and we're
going to begin the process of reporting who will be on it, this week.
For the first time in 3 years, the Niagara
Metros will return from an off-season without suffering a "mass exodus" of players from the previous season. With
the impressive showing by the young and talented "kids" that wore the Metros uniform in 2011, that's a good thing
for the ball club. We're going to start our look at the changes to the roster, with the short list of players that are leaving
the team in 2012, and then next week we'll give you a report on the list of talent that is coming to the Niagara club this
spring. Of course, things could change over the next little while, but as it stands today, here are the players who appeared
on the 2011 roster that will not be returning...
Pitcher Andrew Neustaedter and Outfielder Joe Roach have decided
to retire from Senior baseball and move on to bigger and better things. The Metros wish both of these excellent
young men the best, in the future.
Pitcher Dustin Turner, and Infielders Justin Parro and Neil Campbell have all
suffered "career threatening" injuries. Turner suffered his arm injury during C.O.M.B.L. play last year...while
Parro and Campbell tried to play through injuries suffered previous to 2011. It seems as though these 3 players will
not be able to return to the club in 2012. We wish these fine people and players a speedy recovery, and hope
they can return in the future.
Finally, Pitcher Rob Nixon will not be back in 2012. You may recall that
Rob returned from school in early June and pitched one game for the club before being drafted by the Cleveland Indians in
the June first-year player draft. We wish Rob the best of luck as his professional career continues in the Indians minor
As it stands right now, these 6 players form the list of 2011 Niagara Metros that will not be returning
in 2012. As mentioned we'll look at the new players coming in...next week.
METROS CONTINUE THEIR OUTDOOR WORKOUTS
Metros' outdoor workouts continue this week. After a couple of good workouts last week, the team is hoping for
good weather and good attendence as we "round our team into shape". And although the weather looks bleak
for the scheduled practice this evening (Monday, April 30), the team is hoping to get outside 4 more times before next Wednesday's
opener in Burlington. After tonight, the team has scheduled workouts for Thursday at 6:00, Saturday at 2:30, and
Monday at 6:00. We hope to see everyone out for these, as we prepare for the start of the regular season.
NEW "BASEBALL FILM FEATURE" POSTED ON THE
SITE This week, on our "Baseball
Film Feature" we have for you a lot of fun...courtesy of the Seattle Mariners and their marketing people. For about 5
years now, the Mariners have produced some of the most hilarious and inventive 30 second commercials to advertise their ball
club to local television markets. This year is no different. In fact, after you've watched our Film Feature, you can use some
of the embeded links to check out the commercials in their "finished form". They are really well done.
But for our feature
this week, we are featuring a 2 and half minute segment of outtakes and bloopers from these commercials. Look for Mariners'
manager Eric Wedge, Felix Hernandez, Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero, Brendan Ryan, Icharo, and others, as they hilariously try
to put these commercials together. Looks like a fun team to be around. Just scroll to the bottom of this page, press play
Not to be an alarmist, but remember last year at this
time? The record-setting rainfall? The 31 days of rain in 6 weeks, from April 20 to May 31? The park closures?
Could we be heading in that direction again this year? Here's hoping not...but the first outdoor workout of the year
for the Niagara Metros looked an awful lot like all of our outdoor workouts in 2011.
As you might have guessed,
the team's scheduled Monday night workout was rained out. But the team hopes that this blip on the radar is simply that,
and that the outdoor season can pick up from here. The Metros do have 6 more practices scheduled prior to the start
of their 2012 regular season, a road game in Burlington on May 9th. The practice schedule for the next two weeks is
Thursday, April 26 - 6:00 PM Saturday, April 28 - 11:00 AM Monday, April 30 - 6:00 PM Thursday, May 3 - 6:00 PM Saturday, May 5 - 2:30 PM Monday, May 7 - 6:00 PM
As mentioned, after the
final outdoor workout on the 7th, the Metros take to the road to open the season, against division rivals the Burlington Brants.
The team then returns home the following night for their home opener against the Milton Red Sox. That game will be at
the newly-named George Taylor Field (Community Park Diamond #1) on Thursday, May 10 beginning at 7:30.
are asked to make sure that they contact Kerry or Mark if they are unable to make any of the afore-mentioned practices.
Unlike the indoor workouts, the outdoor practices are not optional...we need you there. It's time to get serious boys!
METROS TO ANNOUNCE ROSTER CHANGES FOR
Over the next couple of weeks we'll be bringing you up-to-date as to what players will constitute
the Niagara Metros' roster for the 2012 season. Next week we'll let you know which players from 2011 will not be returning,
and then the following week, we'll be introducing the new players that the Metros will open the season with. Check back
here to metrosbaseball.ca for those informative updates. That's the week of April 30th, and the week of May 7th!
The Niagara Metros management team of GM Mark Walters,
and Field Manager Kerry Hedden made a trip down the I-90 to Erie, PA on Saturday to take in the game between the Gannon Golden
Knights and the visitors from Seton Hill, PA. It was a great visit with a couple of the Metros' players, Evan Baglieri
and Taylor Anderson, who both make their winter home in the City of Erie...and an opportunity to watch some NCAA baseball
at it's best.
The scheduled doubleheader was shortened to one game due to some rain that came through the "City
on the Lake", but it was an outstanding game, in which Gannon trailed 6-3 but rallied to tie it, before the nationally-ranked
Seton Hill team pulled it out in the 7th and final inning. The final score was 8-6. The stadium at Gannon is an
interesting setup (to say the least) as the baseball team shares the same field with the football, soccer, field lacrosse,
and most any other field sport offered. On one hand the field is beautiful, because it is Astro-turf throughout, and
it plays absolutely perfect. On the other hand, there is no seating inside the facility, meaning anybody wanting to
watch the game find themselves sitting or standing on the sidewalk surrounding the stadium, looking through the fence.
Like we said...interesting!
As for the Metros in the game (Baglieri batting in the 5-hole and playing 3rd base
in this one) collected a pair of hits, driving in one run and scoring another. His numbers for the year now feature
a .315 batting average (41 for 130), with a team-leading 13 doubles. He also has collected 3 HR's, 32 RBI's, and sports
a 17-8 K/BB ratio. Pretty solid numbers! Freshman Anderson did not play in this game, but despite his brief exposure
to NCAA ball, Taylor has an outstanding .393 OBP, along with 1 HR and 5 RBI's.
For more on the trip to Gannon,
check out our "Photo Album" for some great shots of the action.
METROS' INDOOR WORKOUTS CONTINUE
The Niagara Metros
are "back at it" once again this Thursday evening at Bullett's. The indoor workouts continue, beginning
at 6:00 and running through to 7:30. The attendance and enthusiasm during our indoor workouts to this point has been great,
and with the outdoor season just around the corner, we hope the intensity and excitement continues to increase. We're
roughly 3 weeks away from "opening day" so it's time to get out and get ready. Once again, we're at the New
Bullett-Proof Baseball facility, 1100 Niagara Street in Welland (at the Fairgrounds) on Thursday (April 19th at 6:00).
See you there.
NEW BASEBALL FILM FEATURE
Finally this week, on our newly-posted "Baseball
Film Feature", inspired by our trip to Gannon University and our first-hand look at U.S. College baseball, we have a
great video for you from that "fun and friendly" college atmosphere. On May 17 2011, the Clemson Tigers and Davidson
Wildcats were enduring a rain delay in the middle of their game, when the two teams decided to have a little fun and put on
"Rain Delay Theater". It is an absolutely hilarious look at what makes baseball the greatest game on earth.
When two rivals can get together and have fun with one another (and put on an awesome show like this one)...it just makes
one proud to say that baseball is your sport. Just scroll to the bottom of the page, press "Play", and enjoy
about 6 minutes of magic!
COMMUNITY PARK TO BE RENAMED "GEORGE TAYLOR FIELD"
The Niagara Metros' home field, Community Park Diamond
#1, will be undergoing a name change, during an official ceremony on May 5th. And the Metros' couldn't be happier!
Beginning on that day the facility will will be known as "George Taylor Field"...named for a longtime coach of great
Merritton ball clubs in the 1950's and '60's, and for being the head groundskeeper of the park during it's St. Catharines
Blue Jays heyday of the 1980's and '90's.
For the rest of the story, we'll quote an article written for the local
newspaper "Merritton Matters". It was written by Geoff Crane, a member of the 3-man committee behind the official
name-change. Crane, a longtime member of the Merritton Athletic Association and the Merritton Lions, generously
gave permission to the Metros to republish the story. Thanks, Geoff!
A Committee of 3 people was formed in January, 2012 with the proposal to rename Community Park, Diamond
#1 George Taylor Field. We made this proposal to City Council on Monday January 23rd, 2012.
passed away on September 20, 2011. He was a retired employee of the City of St. Catharines as a foreman for Parks and
Recreation and he was the Heads Groundskeeper of Community Park during the tenure of the St. Catharines Blue Jays. During
this time, George was recognized by the New York-Penn League as Community Park met the Professional Baseball Standard for
field conditions. To many in the Merritton Community, George was Community Park.
In 2009, George was inducted
into the St. Catharines Sports Wall-of-Fame as a builder, for his coaching accomplishments with the Merritton Athletic Association.
George coached baseball for 35 years, beginning in 1952 at the age of 19. He coached 6 teams to Ontario Baseball Championships...in
1957 (Juvenile), 1961 and 1962 (Midget), 1964 (PeeWee), 1965 (Junior "A"), and 1981 (tyke). He also had two
teams reach the Finals...in 1966 (Junior), and 1982 (Bantam).
For 4 decades George coached young athletes about
baseball and about life. The Lions Club of Merritton, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 138, Merritton, Merritton Athletic
Association, Niagara Metros Baseball Club, and the Merritton Alliance Baseball Club all wrote letters supporting our proposal.
Following our presentation to City Council on January 23rd, City staff was directed to schedule a public meeting.
This meeting was held in February to discuss our proposal and at the City Council meeting of March 5th, our proposal was accepted.
We have scheduled our "Renaming of the Park Ceremony" for Saturday, May 5th at 2:00 pm. At this time,
a new sign and commemorative plaque will be unveiled for George Taylor Field. Everyone is invited to this event.
The Lions club of Merritton will be hosting a BBQ following the unveiling ceremony.
Thanks again Geoff, for
allowing us to use your story on our website. For more information and background on George Taylor, please click this link, for the story that was published in the St. Cathariners Standard in April of 2009, following his induction into the City
of St. Catharines Sports Wall-of-Fame.
The Niagara Metros have already acknowledged this honour to George.
The Metros' 2012 Schedule, which was posted on our "Schedule/Results" page a couple of weeks ago, has been updated.
As has our "Park Directions" page. All Metros home games are now to be played at "George Taylor Field",
and from a Metros' viewpoint, we are proud to acknowledge that fact.
You'll recall back in February,
we announced that invitations to all of the "AAA" Major teams in Ontario were sent out for the 2012 Hap Walters
Memorial Baseball Challenge, set for July 20 to 22. The tourney, which has evolved into one of the biggest and best
in the province, is once again being hosted by the C.O.M.B.L. and will be held in the Mississauga area, with the host park
being Erindale Cardinal Field. We thought we'd take a few column inches to give you an update on the happenings since
then, even though the process is still in it's early stages.
It looks as though once again, the tournament will
be a success, based on the early entries received by Tourney contact person, Tim Gasparotto. As always, all 9 teams
in the Central Ontario Major Baseball League will be taking part...so check off Brampton, Burlington, Erindale, Etobicoke,
Glanbrook, Milton, Mississauga, Niagara and Oakville as "attending". In addition, Tim has confirmed receipt
of applications from the Thornhill Reds, Leaside Leafs, Markham Mariners, Peterborough RiverDogs, Lakeside Lizards,
Windsor Athletics, and last year's tourney, Provincial and National Champions...the Windsor Stars.
A quick count puts the total of entries at 16, with 6 teams yet to respond. Again, it's still very early in the process,
but all signs are pointing to another successful weekend in mid-July for the 9th Annual event.
METROS' INDOOR WORKOUTS CONTINUE
Metros are "back at it" once again this week at Bullett's. The indoor workouts continue, beginning at 6:00
and running through to 7:30. The attendance and enthusiasm during the first two workouts was high, and this week figures
to reach new heights, with the next day being the "Good Friday" holiday. We're roughly 4 weeks away from "opening
day" so it's time to get out and get ready. Once again, we're at the New Bullett-Proof Baseball facility,
1100 Niagara Street in Welland (at the Fairgrounds). See you there.
NEW BASEBALL FILM FEATURE
Finally this week, we have to mention a little something about our newly-posted
Baseball Film Feature". For the next two weeks, we thought we would give you a little taste of one of the
best (if not THE BEST) baseball film ever made. With "Moneyball" set to be released to the movie channels within
the next month or so, we wanted to re-visit the story and the principal stars of the flick. So, our feature takes a look at
the film through the eyes of it's co-stars...Brad Pitt and Johah Hill.
Back in September of 2011, "Moneyball"
made it's first appearance, as it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The buzz surrounding the "big smoke"
was huge, when "Brangelina" made their appearance...but it paled in comparison to the excitment following the viewing
of this outstanding baseball story. The film we are featuring includes an interview conducted with Brad and Johah during the
T.I.F.F., as they disclose some of the behind-the-scenes stories and informative background info that surrounded the making
and release of the movie. To say the least, it is very interesting. And, by the way, we recommend this movie wholeheartedly...for
anyone who not only likes baseball, but also anyone who likes great movies. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and press