Down on the Farm: Montgomery Exudes Southern Charm

Riverwalk Stadium 8

I enjoyed my May visit to Birmingham’s Regions Field so much that upon a July return to Alabama, I headed 90 miles south to check out Southern League rival Montgomery’s yard. Capitalizing on unseasonably pleasant weather with temps in the low 80s didn’t bother this northerner either.

Down on the Farm: The Other Mayo Facility in Rochester

Mayo Field 6

A recent visit to southeast Minnesota wrapped up six days and 3,000 miles on the road during a pleasantly mild late July.

Mayo Field is the fourth and likely final Northwoods League I’ll visit and review this summer, marking six total going back to 2013.

Down on the Farm: A Visit to “MoonDog Country”

Franklin Rogers Park 1

As the baseball world observes Minnesota’s love affair with the sport this week, I continued my trip to amateur yards around the North Star State.

Use Facts, not Emotion, on Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig

Question: Which NL All-Star starter is hitting .253 with just one home run and only 11 RBIs since June 1, seeing his average fall 40 points during that time? He’s also no longer in the MLB Top 10 in any offensive category.

Down on the Farm: Fargo Lives up to Expectations

Newman Outdoor Field

When the Indianapolis Indians marked 15 years of baseball at beautiful Victory Field in 2011, the running local commentary was that few believed the ballpark was that old due to its magnificent condition. While perhaps not as grandiose at the Triple-A stadium in downtown Circle City, Newman Outdoor Field, also in existence since 1996, could boast similar claims.

Tony Gwynn: Great hitter, better person

Ari Tony Gwynn

I was roughly two hours into a 12-hour drive from Minnesota to Oklahoma Monday when I heard the news Tony Gwynn died at age 54 after a courageous multi-year battle with salivary gland cancer. For safety reasons, I pulled off the road to collect myself, confirm it was true and commiserate with friends and family.

Down on Farm: St. Paul Puts on a Show

Midway Stadium 3

The St. Paul Saints predate their big-time friends across America’s chief river by nearly a century. This is actually the fourth incarnation of the franchise, beginning briefly during the Benjamin Harrison administration, then returning a decade later through 1899, followed by a 1915-60 run, ending just before the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins.

Down on the Farm: Anchors Away

Knute Nelson Memorial Park 2

The fourth season of Down on the Farm continues with a trip to Knute Nelson Memorial Park in Alexandria, Minnesota.

Down on the Farm: Stingers Reward Supporters

Taunton Stadium

As a resident for nearly a year now, I realize Minnesota is a hockey state. However, baseball is surprisingly well-funded across the Land of 10,000 Lakes too. This is particularly validated when traveling back roads through small Minnesota communities that seem to encompass one hidden gem of a ballpark after another. Considering the harsh winters, the immaculate conditions of fields by May is also rather impressive.

Don Zimmer: 1931-2014

Don Zimmer

A baseball icon died Wednesday night, as Don Zimmer, passed away at Day Care Alliance Hospital in Dunedin, Florida, where he’d been for roughly six weeks after undergoing heart valve surgery. A true lifer, who enjoyed every moment from age 18 through a remarkable 66 seasons in the professional game, Zimmer was most recently senior adviser for the Tampa Bay Rays.

2014 NBA Finals: Is Heat-Spurs redux good for NBA fans?

LeBron James Tim Duncan

I’ve watched precious little of the 2014 NBA playoffs, and I ignored the long regular season, but I’ll likely watch most of the NBA Finals — whenever it finally begins after yet another long lay off — because the two best teams will again do battle. Knowing this type of clash occurs most years though, why should fans watch an often formulaic and endless six weeks of playoffs when most can predict the championship participants by mid-April or earlier?

Down On the Farm, Season 4: A Birmingham Beauty

Regions Field

As a historically-cold Midwest winter finally wraps up near Memorial Day, we headed down south to kick off our 2014 campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. The state’s largest city opened a stellar new downtown ballpark in 2013 to replace suburban 25-year-old Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Opening Day Brings Hope

Opening Day 2014

Though raised in a southern climate, I’ve now lived nine winters in the Heartland. And I’ve learned nothing begins seasonal life anew like baseball.

Duke and Syracuse’s Worst March Madness Losses

Mike Krzyzewski Jim Boeheim

Duke and Syracuse both crashed out of the 2014 NCAA Tournament early. But that shouldn’t be surprising. Here is a look at both teams’ worst March Madness losses.

The Shockers Got Screwed

Gregg-Marshall

The 35-0 Wichita State Shockers were screwed by the Selection Committee and the media. And there’s really no debate. Let’s quickly examine the evidence …