Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Here's the official end-of-year blog for 2008 from the Biscuit Crumbs' staff. Happy New Year everybody and, for tonight's festivities, let's be careful out there.

A review of my 2008 ...
561 blog entries, counting this one
464 newspaper stories, saved on my laptop (doesn't count stories written at office computer)

Yes, I went back and counted. I needed something to do while watching two hours of Beverly Hills 90210 -- TOS (the original series), not TNG (the next generation piece of crap) -- on SoapNet.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sweet as Sugar: MLB Network on local schedule

Charter's tiff with WCOV that may keep you from watching the Alabama-Utah Sugar Bowl won't keep you from the new MLB Network.

The MLB Network will make its debut at 5 p.m. Jan. 1 and you can find it on most Montgomery-area cable networks, according to the network.

Charter 320
Knology not carrying
Bright House carrying it, but channel to be announced
DirecTV 213
Dish not carrying

They were running a promo (over and over and over) when I looked last night. Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series is the opening-night programming highlight.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pirates interested in Baldelli

The Pittsburgh Pirates are courting free-agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli, who had a rehab stop with the Biscuits last year.

The Pirates have also included former Auburn pitcher Chris Bootcheck and former Alabama infielder Andy Phillips among their non-roster invitees to spring training.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bonjour de la part de la Louisiana Superdome

Bonjour tout le monde from the Superdome, site of tonight's New Orleans Bowl between Troy and Southern Miss. Yep, you'll be subjected to periodic updates at my whim. Game starts a little after 7.

I've done my best to sample the cuisine and give it a hearty endorsement if anyone is headed this way next week for the Sugar Bowl.

They're expecting a record New Orleans Bowl crowd tonight -- with a little more than 30,000. We'll see how many more USM fans are here than the Troy throng.

5:44 -- Former Troy safety Brannon Condren is in attendance. He's been practically all over the NFL this year: Colts, Rams, Dolphins and now the Colts again. "It's been a wild year," he said during warmups. Condren doesn't get many chances to see his college team. "I had a few days off and wanted to come to the game," Condren said. "This is the only game I'll get to see all year, so I came here to watch them one last time."

7:13 -- Safe bet that USM has more fans here than the Trojans. Troy did help make its fans stand out. Fans on Troy's side of the field found New Orleans Bowl towels in their seats when they arrived.

7:21 -- Jorrick Calvin won two prep state championships at the Superdome. Deflecting a pitch and returning it for a touchdown on the first play of the game shows he may still like the place.

7:29 -- Flea flicker makes it 7-7. USM stud receiver DeAndre Brown was a decoy and never moved as New Orleans native Gerald Baptiste scooted unaccosted past the Troy secondary. Brown caught a 9-yard pass on the drive's first play and set the USM single-season record for catches.

7:43 -- Brown just broke his left leg.

7:44 -- He was trying for a long pass and being covered by Troy's Chris Bowens. Bowens went to help him up and quickly started motioning for the trainers. They're already comparing it in the press box to the Tyrone Prothro injury at Alabama. Unfortunately, you'll be seeing that on TV for a while. Horrific.

7:46 -- Brown is doing an Eagle wave as he's taken out on a stretcher.

?:?? -- Touchdown, Troy. Kennard Burton scraped his foot inbounds and the replay official gave Troy a touchdown and a 14-7 lead. It's his first touchdown catch. The Trojans have had 12 players catch TD passes this year, a national best.

8:09 -- End of a marathon first quarter.

8:14 -- William Spight, the pride of Jeff Davis High, sets up a touchdown with an 18-yard catch. Damion Fletcher went 8 yards on the next play to score. 14-14.

8:24 -- Troy QB Levi Brown with an admirable scramble marathon. He went almost to the left sideline, then rolled all the way back to the right sideline and, you guessed it, took a 2-yard sack.

8:33 -- Troy linebacker Boris Lee appeared to hurt his left hand while taking down the USM QB. He has gone to the locker room for -- total guess here -- an X-ray. I'd guess he may have a finger issue.

8:36 -- Lee is back, so likely no X-rays. Some extra tape?

8:40 -- Xavier Moreland just had his first carry, just more than two weeks after breaking a collarbone. His 6-yard gain gave Troy a first-and-goal at the 4.

8:43 -- Troy turns the situation into a 20-yard field goal. 17-14. DuJuan Harris isn't having his best game: 23 yards on eight carries, including a fumble on the first play after Moreland's run.

8:54 -- USM kicks a field goal on the last play of the half. 17-17. An offensive pass interference prevented a likely touchdown on a halfback pass. Looked like a good call. Receiver Johdrick Morris blocked a DB before going out on his route.

9:05 -- DeAndre Brown went to nearby Tulane hospital and has been diagnosed with a fractured tibia. Here's the live blog by Patrick Magee, the USM beat writer for the Hattiesburg American of the Gannett family.

9:22 -- Jerrel Jernigan has tied the 40-year-old Troy season record for receptions. He has 72.

9:24 -- Well, he broke it. So much for Danny Grant's mark in 1968.

9:41 -- Nice little drive (11 plays, 63 yards) nets Troy a field goal and a 20-17 lead.

9:43 -- This game is going long enough that my sidebar for first edition has been banged. If you live far outside Montgomery, check for it on If you get the city edition, you'll get to read all about it.

9:46 -- DeAndre Brown's injury is already on YouTube. Warning, warning, warning. It's gross.

9:49 -- A Cornelius Williams punt return starts a Troy drive at the USM 9. Jerrel Jernigan's 6-yard TD run makes it 27-17.

10:16 -- Troy got caught with its pants down. USM sent in a big package for a fourth-and-two play at the Troy 35. Troy responded with a goalline defense. Oops. QB Austin Davis rolls out and hits tight end Jonathan Massey, who totes Terence Moore into the end zone. Troy's lead now 27-24.

1:25 a.m. -- Just got back to the hotel from the game. Gotta love games that end at 10:53 p.m. Finished notes and filed those at 11:05. Wrote a quoteless game story for first edition and filed at 11:23. The Troy press conference was during that time, so I had to track down the people I wanted (still didn't get Jerrel Jernigan) for our city edition. Returned to press box at 11:55. Rewrote the first item in my notebook at 12:02 a.m. Rewrote the game story and filed at 12:29. Jernigan was the first item in the notes for first edition, but I wrote a separate (very short) story for the city and filed it at 12:38.

Great game. That would have been fun to just watch.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You've reached offseason's midway point

Today officially marked the halfway point between the end of the 2008 season and the beginning of the 2009 season. Congratulations. There are 110 days left until the Biscuits open up against West Tenn.

Have a Crossing the Line ceremony at your own risk.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Timmons eyes return to Montgomery

New Biscuits hitting coach Ozzie Timmons isn't a first-timer when it comes to Montgomery.

Timmons played for the University of Tampa in the 1990 Division II World Series at Paterson Field. He was a two-time All-American for the Spartans.

"We weren't close to winning it all, but it was a good experience," Timmons said. "I'm looking forward to seeing the stadium we played in."

Timmons went on to a 16-year playing career that included time in the major leagues. He retired after spending the 2006 season with independent Atlantic City and joined the Tampa Bay coaching staff the next year. The 38-year-old debuted at short-season Hudson Valley and spent this season at low-Class A Columbus.

The Rays thought enough of him to send him to the Arizona Fall League this year. The experience will help him with the Biscuits, he said.

"The guys who have reached Double-A already have the routines they want to do before the game," Timmons said. "I'm just there to make sure they keep it."

Biscuits first baseman Rhyne Hughes was also in Arizona. After a disappointing .268 regular season, Hughes had a .394 average and 20 extra-base hits in Arizona.

"He was locked in," Timmons said. "I didn't have to tinker with him at all. Everything they threw up there, he hit hard."

Rays announce staffs ... except for Hot Rods, Renegades

The new Bowling Green Hot Rods will an extra wait to hear their first coaching staff. The Rays announced their staffs today for each of their minor-league teams except for the Hot Rods and short-season Hudson Valley Renegades.

It's Billy Gardner, Neil Allen, Ozzie Timmons and Lee Slagle in Montgomery.

Former Biscuits player Dan DeMent will make his coaching debut at Rookie Princeton. Ben Oglivie, this year's Montgomery hitting coach, will go to Tampa Bay's new Gulf Coast League team. This year's trainer, Joel Smith, will be the Rays' rehabilitation and athletic training coordinator.

Timmons to be Montgomery's hitting coach

Ozzie Timmons, who played in the major leagues for parts of five seasons, will be Montgomery's new hitting coach next year.

Timmons was at low-Class A Columbus last year, his second as a coach and first in a full-season league.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rays add pitcher Phillips from Pelicans

The Rays have bought the contract of pitcher Paul W. Phillips, who finished the season with the independent Pensacola Pelicans.

Phillips was with the Toronto organization before a June release (2-0, 5.02 ERA at high-Class A Dunedin. He had 29 strikeouts and 12 walks for the Pelicans. The 24-year-old started his pro career in 2005.

New Rays team unveils logo

The Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tampa Bay's new Florida State League team, debuted their new logo today. I kind of like it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sandberg set to guide Smokies

Heard this on XM while driving to New Orleans, so forgive me if it's late.

Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg will manage the Tennessee Smokies next year. He's managed at Class A Peoria the last two years.

The Smokies make their only scheduled 2009 Riverwalk Stadium appearance June 22-27.

Report: Second opinion benefits Baldelli

Rocco Baldelli received good news after seeking a second opinion of his illness.

Baldelli went to a clinic in Cleveland and has been diagnosed with channelopathy, a type of protein irregularity, instead of a mitochondrial disorder, according to reports in Rhode Island. Channelopathy isn't as threatening as a mitochondrial disorder.

Baldelli said his condition was 'updated,' not misdiagnosed.

Baldelli spent time with the Biscuits this summer on a rehab tour that led to his return to the major leagues.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If you have HBO, don't miss Kazmir on show

HBO's Costas Now is having a year-in-review show that will include former Biscuit Scott Kazmir. The show first airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday and several times thereafter.

(I don't have HBO. Someone let me know how it goes.)

Gathright going to Cubs

While Padres pitcher Jake Peavy remains trade bait, the Cubs added an outfielder. Former Biscuit Joey Gathright has signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with Chicago.

Cubs fans aren't quite jumping for joy. A comment at the Chicago Tribune from "Bob hates Cubbies" ...
World Series in sight now because of Gathright. Too bad there aren't cars to jump over around the bases. Joey Gathright is a proven veteran who could lead them to the promise land, and help win a world series!!!!!!

Great pickup, I think my great uncle is still availible for signing too...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gross on new Rays player, Tommy Tuberville

Rays outfielder Gabe Gross said he welcomed the extra challenge the team gave him this week.

The Rays added outfielder Matt Joyce from the Tigers. Joyce, Gross and Fernando Perez are the current contenders to play right field next season for Tampa Bay. The Rays also may sign a free agent outfielder.

"Every year in the big leagues, there are so many good players out there, they're not many jobs just handed to you," Gross said. "I have to go into spring training and do the best I can to win a position and a spot on the team."

Gross was in town today, along with Braves pitcher Tim Hudson and Astros pitcher Wesley Wright, for the grand opening of The Strike Zone, a baseball/softball academy on Eastern Boulevard. Rob Macrory owns the facility and is a former Auburn player, just like Gross and Hudson. Wright lives in Grady and graduated from Goshen High.

Gross is also a former Auburn football quarterback. Gross, who quit football halfway through Tommy Tuberville's first season in 1999 to focus on baseball, said he "was a little surprised" at Tuberville's recent departure.

"He did a lot of good at Auburn," Gross said. "He got into a situation where he obviously had a down year and couldn't get the team up to speed. In the current climate of college football, sometimes that is enough."

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Biscuits trainer a local native

Lee Slagle, who graduated from Hooper and AUM and is a former assistant basketball coach at Huntingdon, will be the Biscuits' trainer in 2009.

Slagle has been the trainer the last three years for Triple-A Oklahoma in the Texas organization. He replaced Joel Smith, Montgomery's trainer this year. The Rays haven't announced their minor-league staffs for 2009.

Slagle first worked in professional baseball in the Montreal system from 1991-95. He returned in 2003 with the Indians and spent two years with the Red Sox before going to Texas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Morlan goes to Brewers; Rays take pitcher

The Brewers grabbed former Biscuits reliever Eduardo Morlan in today's Rule 5 draft. Morlan will have to stay in the major leagues for all of 2009 or be offered back to Tampa Bay.

The Rays drafted right-hander Derek Rodriguez from the Chicago White Sox. Rodriguez held hitters to a .179 average in 36.2 innings at Triple-A Charlotte this year. The 25-year-old started the season at Double-A Birmingham and was 5-1 with a .203 average against in 42.2 innings. Rodriguez also pitched in the Arizona Fall League.

Morlan missed considerable time this season with Montgomery because of a shoulder injury. He was 4-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 47 innings for the Biscuits. The 22-year-old is pitching this winter for Caguas in Puerto Rico.

Perez, Gross have new competition in right

Former Biscuit Fernando Perez and former Auburn All-American Gabe Gross picked up some added competition for Tampa Bay's right-field job tonight.

The Rays traded pitcher Edwin Jackson to Detroit for outfielder Matt Joyce.

In other former Biscuit news, left-handed pitcher Chris Seddon has signed with the Seattle Mariners.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Hola a partir de Veteranos Estadio de Movie Gallery

We're at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium today where all 15 of Troy's devoted fans will watch the Trojans play Arkansas State. We'll bring you sporadic updates.

4:56 p.m.: The Troy ticket office will be open from 1-4 p.m. Sunday to take bowl ticket orders. Call 670-3681 or 877-878-9467. If Troy wins tonight, the Trojans will play Southern Miss in the Dec. 21 New Orleans Bowl. If Troy loses tonight, it's the Bowl in Birmingham on Dec. 29.

5:41: It's laughable how few people are here.

5:59: They just introduced all of Troy's seniors. We estimate there's about 5,000 fans here, at best.

6:03: Arkansas State has its own sledgehammer, so the Red Wolves should be warned that Troy fans have a past with those. ASU did run all the way to the other end of the field after entering the stadium. 'Tis believed they went hunting for fans.

6:42: End of first quarter. Troy up 7-0. Arkansas State drained and drained the clock, but missed a field goal. The Red Wolves are showing little as far as downfield passing. That should allow Troy to pressure ASU at the line.

7:01: Touchdown, Troy, 14-0. Xavier Moreland is the 11th Trojan to catch a touchdown pass this year. That's the most in the nation. I already have reservations in New Orleans and, unlike last year, I might not have to cancel them.

7:22: 21-0 with a minute left in the half. The Jerrel Jernigan-at-QB formation led to 28 yards on two plays and put Troy at the ASU 15.

8:15: End of third quarter. Still 21-nil. ASU had a turnover inside Troy's 5 and is back deep in scoring position.

8:21: Arkie State turned away at the 1.

8:22: Troy QB Levi Brown brought down for a safety. 21-2.

8:32: Interception ends another ASU possession. This one is about over and Troy can get ready for Bourbon Street.

8:36: Touchdown, Troy, 24-yard pass from Levi Brown to Austin Silvoy. It's 28-2.

8:46: DuJuan Harris with an insurance score. 35-2.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Maddux to announce retirement

The Winter Meetings are scheduled to start with a big announcement Monday in Las Vegas. Pitcher Greg Maddux, the certain Hall of Famer, will announce his retirement. He has only four Cy Young awards and 355 wins.

Rays add one, re-sign two for Bulls

The Rays have signed right-handed pitcher Jason Childers and re-signed pitcher Jeremy Cummings and outfielder/first baseman Chris Richard.

Cummings and Richard were at Triple-A Durham this year, while Childers was at Durham International League rival Charlotte. Childers was a midseason All-Star and finished 4-2 with a 1.22 ERA. He was 17-for-17 in save opportunities and held hitters to a .167 average.

The three are likely ticketed to play for the Bulls next season.

Trainer Southard joins Diamondbacks

There will be at least one change in Tampa Bay's minor-league staffs.

Trainer Jimmy Southard, who was with Montgomery in 2007 and Durham this year, has been hired by the Arizona Diamondbacks as their assistant minor-league medical coordinator.

The Rays haven't announced their staffs, though Dan DeMent has been hired, or that they'll have a Gulf Coast League team in their new Port Charlotte, Fla., complex.

In player moves, Richard De Los Santos has re-signed with the Rays and Nick DeBarr is joining the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A year later, Delmon again available?

Delmon Young went from the Rays to the Twins a year ago and it looks like he's available for trade yet again.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, in the Fargo (N.D.) Forum, doesn't list Young in his ideal outfield for 2009. The Rocky Mountain News says the Rockies could be interested.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rays extend influence in South America

The Rays are the first major-league team to roll into Brazil and will open a training facility next year in the city of Marilia, about 230 miles northwest of Sao Paolo. The Rays already have academies in Venezuela in South America and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.