Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
The coronavirus has placed every baseball player’s season–perhaps their career–on hold, but think about what it does when a pitcher in his early 30s seems to finally be healthy after years of arm issues and could be edging close to the major leagues where he got a taste of things eight years ago.
That is exactly what has happened to southpaw Casey Crosby, who put up such a strong showing last summer when he struck out 64 American Association hitters in 40.2 innings spread over 36 relief appearances for the Chicago Dogs.
Crosby is said to have hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun for his new organization, the Los Angeles Dodgers, before the coronavirus pandemic brought all of baseball to a screeching halt in the second week of March.
So just like another rehabilitated lefty, the Texas AirHogs’ Tyler Matzek, who was dazzling in a comeback effort with the Atlanta Braves, all Crosby can do is keep his family safe and try to stay ready, presumably to report to Triple-A Oklahoma City where he was assigned last week.
Crosby got a tiny look at major league life with his original organization way back in 2012. The Detroit Tigers gave the then 23-year-old three starts–a win, a loss and a 9.49 earned run average.
Then the Illinois native’s earned run average started climbing when he was back in Triple-A. It was 4.01, then 4.84 and early in 2014 reached 7.79. Three arm surgeries followed and Crosby did not throw a pitch in competition the next two summers.
Twelve outings that averaged an inning each time along with a nice 2.16 ERA with the Lincoln Saltdogs in ’17 started a comeback for the 6-foot-5 hurler, and Minnesota gave him a look the next summer. A free agent once more, he joined the Dogs last season where 36 outings, a 1.99 ERA and those big strikeouts got him back in a groove and the exposure attracted the Dodgers, who signed him in December.
Crosby was in the team’s minor league camp in Glendale, Ariz., but his stout arm got him two brief appearances with the parent National League team before baseball shut down.
“This was my first spring training in Arizona, and it’s just awesome,” Crosby told The Aurora (Ill.) Beacon-News, a Chicago Tribune newspaper. “I hit 100 (mph) in my first outing, and was anywhere from 95-98 consistently in each (trip to the mound).” He also started working on a cutter, which the Dodgers’ pitching coordinators believe will be a nice compliment to his fastball.
“They got to evaluate me a little bit, but as far as the regular work, I didn’t get that,” he added. “But it’s the same with a lot of guys. It’s a shame, but you can’t be frustrated or angry about it.”
Organizational facilities are closed so Crosby works out on his own and philosophically awaits to see if there will be a baseball season. “This (pandemic) is bigger than what we’re doing with baseball,” he told the newspaper. “This is the whole world trying to get this sorted out. I’m just really looking for the safety of my family (wife Haley and their six and three-and-a-half-year-old daughters), trying to get through this. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Then we’ll get back to baseball.”
From Saints to Class AA Broadcast Job in Three Years
A ballplayer who jumps a couple of levels in a short time gets lots of recognition so it only stands to reason similar praise is deserved when someone gets such a promotion in another phase of the game.
Emma Tiedemann was Sean Aronson‘s broadcast assistant a mere three years ago in St. Paul, doing media work and as well as pitching in wherever she could help the Saints. The best experience for the 24-year-old was when she could work on the pre and post-game radio shows and get actual play-by-play or color commentary on many of the games.
Fast forward to the 2020 season–presuming there will be one–and the ambitious young woman will be the lead broadcaster for the Boston Red Sox’s Eastern League affiliate in Portland, Maine. The Sea Dogs aren’t just another Class AA team, either, since Red Sox Nation fans and media are so passionate and because of Portland’s proximity to fabled Fenway Park.
“A self-starter and incredibly hard worker, she’s really smart and perceptive,” praised Eric Nadel to the Portland Press Herald. Nadel is the veteran Texas Rangers radio voice and 2014 winner of the prestigious Ford C. Frick award presented to one broadcaster every year at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “She is, technically, an excellent play-by-play announcer,” he added.
Since leaving the Saints, the University of Missouri graduate has made a huge mark. She was a seasonal employee for the Lexington (Ky.) Legends in 2018 before earning a fulltime role as Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for that Kansas City Royals farm club last season. As a great tribute at year’s end, she was named the South Atlanta League’s Media Relations Director of the Year.
“Emma truly is a one of a kind employee who, in less than two calendar years, has made a tremendously positive contribution to the Legends, our community and our league,” President/CEO Andy Shea told MiLB.com.
Portland had 133 applicants for its broadcast opening, with President Geoff Iacuessa explaining a lengthy process that started with him listening to every single demo tape. Once trimmed to15 candidates, interviews started. “Emma’s phone interview was fantastic,” Iacuessa told the Portand Press-Herald, “and, when you looked at the experience…she quickly separated herself from the other candidates.”
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at Amazon.com or at www.WirzandAssociates.com.