Dear Diar E.,
BIIIIGGGGG weekend ahead. First, my big appearance of this weekend is Fall Fan Fest, which is always a lot of fun. Since I don’t get to see our fans all that often anymore, it’s always nice to see a bunch of people come out and enjoy one last afternoon at the ballpark for the year.
Second, Halloween is on Monday, and I always enjoy dressing up. In the past I’ve been Wool E. Potter, Wool E. McFly, MC Wool E. and Wool E. Urkel, among many others. Not sure what I’ll do this year, but I always do my best thinking with my back legs against the wall. Also, Halloween means CANDY. So here, I’m going to rank my Top 10 favorite Halloween candies in order.
10. Mike and Ike
8. Sour Patch Kids
5. Kit Kat
4. Junior Mints
1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
A few quick thoughts. I obviously love chocolate and fruity flavors. Reese’s was always going to be No. 1, but really 2-5 can be arranged in a couple of different ways. For the most part these are your basic choices, nothing too crazy. Stick with what’s tried and true.
Also, a special note on ‘fun size’ candy. Stop calling it that. Nothing is ‘fun’ about a tiny little Twix bar that’s gone after one bite. Stop playing with my feelings and under-delivering, candy marketers.
Also also, candy corn is not good, and didn’t even sniff this list.
Now, on to my weekly NFL picks. Went 8-6-1 last week (thanks Seahawks and Cardinals), upping me to 35-39-1 overall. Need to get back over the .500 mark for the season. This is brutal.
Jaguars @ Titans: Titans
Redskins @ Bengals: Bengals
Chiefs @ Colts: Colts
Raiders @ Bucs: Raiders
Seahawks @ Saints: Seahawks
Lions @ Texans: Texans
Jets @ Browns: Jets
Patriots @ Bills: Patriots
Cardinals @ Panthers: Panthers (I’ll never stop picking Panthers)
Chargers @ Broncos: Broncos
Packers @ Falcons: Falcons
Eagles @ Cowboys: Eagles
Vikings @ Bears: Vikings
Before the 2016 MLB Postseason began, we brought you a list of every former Durham Bull who was on a playoff team. Now, with the World Series kicking off tonight, we take a look at the former Bulls on the Cubs and Indians, and how they’ve fared during their team’s playoff runs. (Years with the Bulls are listed in parentheses.)
CHICAGO CUBS: UTL Ben Zobrist (2006-2008), LHP Mike Montgomery (2013-2014)
Zobrist is back in the World Series for the third time, and the second straight year. The utility man first went to the Fall Classic in 2008 as a member of the Rays, and won the title with the Kansas City Royals a season ago. This postseason the switch-hitter has appeared in all 10 games for the Cubs, but is just 6-for-36 with three RBI.
Montgomery has been solid out of the bullpen for Joe Maddon this October, going 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA. He’s tossed 9 2/3 innings and allowed four earned runs, and three of his six appearances have been scoreless.
CLEVELAND INDIANS: OF Brandon Guyer (2011-2013)
Guyer, who was dealt to Cleveland at the Trade Deadline, went on to hit .333 in 38 games over the season’s final two months. The outfielder has only appeared in three of the Indians’ eight playoff contests, but is 3-for-8 with an RBI in that span.
Catcher Chris Gimenez made the Indians’ ALDS roster, but was left off the ALCS and World Series rosters. In the first round Cleveland opted to carry three catchers, but with Yan Gomes returning from injury and the strong play of Roberto Perez, the 2012 and 2013 Durham Bull will not appear in the Fall Classic.
Dear Diar E.,
Since I’ve been filling people in on what I’ve been up to in the offseason, a few people have asked what my schedule is like on a game day. After all, the fans really only see me for three or so hours on days we have games. So, I decided to break down what a typical day is like for me during a home game.
6 a.m.: Wake up early, shower, and… Psh, hehehehe, no I can’t say that with a straight face. No chance I’m up at 6 a.m. For real, now.
11 a.m.: Wake up after a long slumber. Crank out some push-ups, check Twitter and eat breakfast. Usually I’ll just go in to my backyard and graze for breakfast. Luckily my backyard is 10 acres big.
12 p.m.: Watch the afternoon edition of SportsCenter. Need to stay up-to-date on the world of sports in case I can incorporate something in to one of my acts. Also, polish my ‘Best Mascot in Minor League Baseball’ plaque.
1 p.m.: Head to the ballpark. Early afternoon is a good time to drive. Since I take my go kart to and from the DBAP, it’s best I avoid rush hour.
1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Take a trip to Nap City. Need more slumber.
4 p.m.: Make sure there is enough gas in my go kart and make sure I have enough t-shirts for the t-shirt launch. If it’s windy out I’ll practice shooting a few t-shirts to make sure I don’t shoot any on the roof. Still, there’s no simulation for the in-game experience.
4:30 p.m.: Dance like nobody’s watching because it makes me feel special. Plus I need to rehearse any dance moves I might use that night. Case in point.
5 p.m.: Stop by the clubhouse to go over the game plan with the manager.
5:01 p.m.: Get kicked out of clubhouse by manager.
5:30 p.m.: Eat dinner. Usually try to graze in the outfield, but the grounds crew always catches me.
6 p.m.: GET IN MY ZONE. Listen to my pregame playlist – which will remain private, because it’s MY zone. Get your own playlist.
7 p.m.: Showtime.
10:30 p.m.: Review tape of that night’s performance. Most mascots like to wait until the next day. Nope, not me. Figure out what went right, what went wrong, and process all of it before sleepy time.
11:30 p.m.: Eat any leftovers in the clubhouse.
12 a.m.: Arrive home. Fall asleep watching SportsCenter to see if any of my antics made the show that night (they never do, SMH).
So there you have it, a day-in-the-life of Wool E. Now, on to my NFL picks. BRUTAL week last week. Went 5-10, so I’m now 27-33 overall. Quickly finding out I’m not very good at this.
Bears @ Packers: Packers
Giants @ Rams (London): Giants
Saints @ Chiefs: Chiefs
Colts @ Titans: Titans
Vikings @ Eagles: Vikings
Browns @ Bengals: Bengals
Redskins @ Lions: Redskins
Raiders @ Jaguars: Raiders
Bills @ Dolphins: Bills
Ravens @ Jets: Jets
Bucs @ 49ers: 49ers
Chargers @ Falcons: Falcons
Patriots @ Steelers: Patriots
Seahawks @ Cardinals: Seahawks
Texans @ Broncos: Broncos
If anyone is familiar with our Twitter account, they know we like to have fun. Well on Thursday the account was back at it, comparing the Broncos’ Color Rush helmets to the Bulls’ Bull City Blues hats/uniform, which debuted during the 2016 season.
Basically, it was a comment on the Broncos’ navy/bright orange color combo, which again, the Bulls used for the first time this past season. Note, the word ‘logo’ is nowhere to be found in that tweet. Well, Broncos fans were NOT happy, despite the fact they had no idea what was going on.
As you can see, they completely missed the point. But, here’s our two favorites, presented with comments.
This person called us out for doing no research, when they themselves did no research on the Tweet in question! Classic.
This guy actually called for someone to lose his/her job over this tweet, while he completely misunderstood the point of the tweet. Not to mention, he doesn’t even know when the Bulls logo was introduced! If you’re going to call us out, please, please, PLEASE at least be right.
But perhaps THE BEST part of this whole fiasco (you know, other than people attacking our Twitter account without understanding the tweet at all), is that we’ve already pointed out the similarities (or really differences) in the two logos. And we did that earlier this year! On Twitter, no less!
Welcome to the Interwebs in 2016, folks.
Dear Diar E.,
My week got off to a tough start when I had my Galaxy Note7 recalled by Samsung, so I was without a phone for a little. Then I wised up and just got an iPhone. Also, shoutout to Samsung for announcing the recall in the middle of Sunday’s presidential debate. Perfect time to announce your top product starts fires. Bury it, and bury it hard.
On a separate note, good luck to my buddy Stormy and the Carolina Hurricanes as they kick off their 2016-17 season today. Expectations are definitely higher than in years past for the Canes, but they’ll back it up. A lot of good, young talent on the squad. Plus, Stormy’s the best ice hog there is, so they’re in good hands on the mascot front.
I got a busy weekend coming up, with a bunch of appearances. On Saturday I’ll be at a 5K and a walk, and Sunday I’ll be at the Bull City Race Fest. Unfortunately, I’m not making my way to the State Fair until the end of next week. Please don’t eat all the good stuff. You know I like my treats.
For my NFL picks, I went 8-6 last week, upping my record to 22-23 overall. Honestly, the Panthers have really hurt me this year. I’ll stick with them though, they’ll turn it around soon.
Broncos @ Chargers: Broncos
Ravens @ Giants: Giants
49ers @ Bills: 49ers
Eagles @ Redskins: Eagles
Browns @ Titans: Titans
Panthers @ Saints: Panthers
Jaguars @ Bears: Bears
Rams @ Lions: Rams
Steelers @ Dolphins: Steelers
Bengals @ Patriots: Patriots
Chiefs @ Raiders: Raiders
Falcons @ Seahawks: Falcons
Cowboys @ Packers: Packers
Colts @ Texans: Texans
Jets @ Cardinals: Cardinals
Earlier today, the Atlanta Braves named former Durham Bulls skipper Brian Snitker their manager, after he took the job on an interim basis earlier this year.
Snitker, who has been in the Braves organization since 1977, managed the Bulls in 1983, 1984 and 1987 when the team was Atlanta’s Advanced-A affiliate. Additionally, the 60-year-old played in three games for Durham in 1980, the first year of the affiliation between the franchises.
Snitker is just the second former Bulls manager to manage in the majors, after Grady Little managed the Boston Red Sox from 2002-2003 and the LA Dodgers from 2006-2007. Little piloted the Bulls almost immediately after Snitker, as he took over as Durham’s manager in the middle of the 1988 season and remained with the club through the 1991 campaign.
Snitker was a frequent visitor to the DBAP from 2014 until his promotion earlier this year, as he managed the Bulls’ IL South Division rival Gwinnett Braves since 2014.
Dear Diar E.,
A lot to talk about this week in the world of sports. We had the MLB regular season come to an end (and subsequently the Wild Card games), the Ryder Cup, some crazy college football games and of course the NFL. Life is good right now if you’re a sports fan. Life is not so good if you’ve been following the campaign or crazy, creepy clowns.
First, the bad stuff. How are people still talking about the first debate? Trump sniffled, Clinton shimmied. Let’s move on. Of course, moving on means we’re going to talk about clowns. What are earth is the deal with this? I’m (obviously) all for entertainers of all shapes and sizes – mascots, musicians, comedians, and – when used appropriately – clowns. However, clowns patrolling the woods or wandering around towns is terrifying. Seriously, absolutely, unequivocally terrifying. Stay safe from those heathens.
On to the world of sports. The final day of the MLB regular season wasn’t all that exciting. But the AL and NL Wild Card Games? Fire. Now the Blue Jays and Rangers get a rematch (hello Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista!), while Madison Bumgarner continued to show he is not human by shutting down the Mets. (Also, Conor Gillaspie is the big brother of our very own Casey Gillaspie, which is neat.)
In the Ryder Cup the U.S. showed the Europeans who’s boss (USA! USA!), and college football had some CRAZY games. Luckily I finished my appearances early on Saturday to get back to the DBAP and veg out to watch them. (Shoutout to UNC for their ‘walk-off’ win over the ‘Noles.)
And that brings us to our weekly NFL picks. Last week I guaranteed at least a .500 mark, and I finished 8-7. Boo ya. Now I’m 14-17 on the year, which frankly isn’t very good, but I’ll turn it around.
Cardinals @ 49ers: Cardinals
Patriots @ Browns: Patriots
Eagles @ Lions: Eagles
Bears @ Colts: Colts
Titans @ Dolphins: Dolphins
Redskins @ Ravens: Redskins
Texans @ Vikings: Vikings
Jets @ Steelers: Steelers
Falcons @ Broncos: Broncos
Bengals @ Cowboys: Bengals
Bills @ Rams: Rams
Chargers @ Raiders: Raiders
Giants @ Packers: Packers
Bucs @ Panthers: Panthers
Finally, with Hurricane Matthew coming up the east coast this weekend, everybody please stay safe. Catch you next week.
The 2016 MLB *postseason kicks off tonight, as the Orioles and Blue Jays square off in the AL Wild Card Game.
*We say postseason because we don’t consider the Wild Card games the ‘playoffs.’ Sure you’ve made it farther than 20 other teams, but come on, it’s not really the playoffs yet. It’s just a play-in game.
With the start of the postseason, we take a look at all the former Durham Bulls who you might see throughout the month of October
Baltimore Orioles: None
Of note, OF Joey Rickard played in 29 games for the Bulls in 2015 before Baltimore selected him in the Rule V draft. He’s currently on the DL.
Boston Red Sox: LHP David Price
For all the success Price has had at the big league level, he actually wasn’t all that impressive in Durham at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. He went 2-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 12 starts for the Bulls, while striking out a batter an inning.
Chicago Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel, LHP Mike Montgomery, UTL Ben Zobrist
Hammel, a member of the Bulls in 2005, 2006 and 2007 went 12-16 in 47 starts in his time in the Bull City. Across 30 starts for the Cubbies this year, the 34-year-old went 15-10 with a 3.83 in 30 starts.
Montgomery pitched for the Bulls in 2013 and 2014, and was named an IL Midseason All-Star in 2014. After he was traded to the Mariners and subsequently the Cubs, the 27-year-old posted a 2.82 ERA in 17 games (five starts) for the best team in baseball in the regular season.
Zobrist, who spent parts of 2006, 2007 and 2008 in Durham, hit .301 in 99 career games for the Bulls. This year the utility player, reunited with Joe Maddon, hit .272 with 18 homers while playing primarily second base and the outfield.
Cleveland Indians: C Chris Gimenez, OF Brandon Guyer
Gimenez is in the postseason for the second straight year after going with the Rangers a season ago. This year he played in 67 games for the Indians, and he combined to appear in 166 games for Durham in 2012 and 2013.
Guyer was traded to the Indians at the trade deadline this season and went on to hit .333 in 38 games. The outfielder spent parts of three seasons with the Bulls (2011-2013), while also making a five-game rehab stint in 2014.
LA Dodgers: LHP JP Howell, LHP Scott Kazmir
Howell made 31 starts for the Bulls between 2006 and 2007, and returned for a four-game rehab appearance in 2011. The southpaw made 64 relief appearances for the Dodgers this season.
It is unclear if Kazmir will pitch in the postseason after his last start came on Sept. 23. The 32-year-old only ever played for the Bulls on rehab stints, making one appearance each in 2008 and 2009.
Southpaw Adam Liberatore will not pitch for the Dodgers in the postseason, as he will undergo season-ending elbow surgery. Earlier this year the lefty set a franchise record with 28 straight scoreless outings. Liberatore appeared in 113 games for the Bulls from 2012-2014, including a 2014 campaign in which he struck out 86 batters in 65 innings.
NY Mets: None
OF Justin Ruggiano – a member of the All-DBAP team – appeared in eight games for the Mets this year, but hasn’t played in a game since Aug. 26 after undergoing shoulder surgery.
San Francisco Giants: LHP Matt Moore
The Giants picked up Moore at the trade deadline, as the lefty went 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 12 starts since. Moore has an interesting history in Durham, making 17 starts across the 2011, 2013 and 2015 seasons. He dominated in 2011 (4-0, 1.37), made one rehab start in 2013, then played as both a rostered player and rehab player in 2015.
Texas Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos
Chirinos hit .259 with six homers across 78 games for the Bulls in 2011, before he was traded to Texas at the start of the 2013 campaign. The 32-year-old batted .224 for the AL West Division winners this season.
Toronto Blue Jays: C Dioner Navarro, OF Melvin Upton, Jr.
Navarro split 2016 between the White Sox and Blue Jays, joining Toronto for the stretch run. The 32-year-old hit .284 in 43 games for the Bulls in 2010.
The artist formerly known as BJ opened 2016 with San Diego, but was traded to the Blue Jays in July. Upton debuted with Durham in 2004 at the age of 19, and proceeded to play in 314 games with the Bulls from 2004-2006, while also appearing in two rehab games in 2007.
Washington Nationals: C Jose Lobaton
Traded by the Rays to the Nationals in February of 2014, Lobaton played for the Bulls in both 2010 and 2011, combining to appear in 126 games. The Venezuelan also appeared in four rehab games in 2012.
Dear Diar E.,
Let’s address the elephant (and donkey) in the room: yes, I watched the debate. However, I will not be publicly endorsing a candidate. Until someone emerges from the Bull Moose Party, I will keep my political thoughts to myself. I did find it interesting though, that Trump wore a blue tie and Clinton wore a red dress. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Next, I renewed my cable plan this past week, and I decided to pay a little more for HBO, which means I now have access to HBO GO, too. Let me tell you, that thing is CRAZY. Now I can finally watch Hard Knocks. Heard it’s great.
Had some more appearances this past week, including a mascot game at the NC State women’s soccer game on Sunday evening. Good news? I didn’t embarrass myself too badly. Bad news? I tweaked my hamstring. Won’t put me out of commission entirely, but I won’t be participating in any mascot soccer games any time soon. Need to remember to stretch.
Finally, on to my weekly NFL picks. Last week was not so great, as I went 6-10. I’m guaranteeing at least a .500 performance this week though.
Dolphins @ Bengals: Bengals
Colts @ Jaguars: Colts
Titans @ Texans: Texans
Browns @ Redskins: Redskins
Seahawks @ Jets: Seahawks
Bills @ Patriots: Patriots
Panthers @ Falcons: Panthers
Raiders @ Ravens: Ravens
Lions @ Bears: Lions
Broncos @ Bucs: Broncos
Rams @ Cardinals: Cardinals
Saints @ Chargers: Chargers
Cowboys @ 49ers: Cowboys
Chiefs @ Steelers: Steelers
Giants @ Vikings: Vikings
-Wool E. out
On Friday afternoon the Tampa Bay Rays announced their 2016 Minor League award winners, with 1B Casey Gillaspie taking home Player of the Year honors, and RHP Brent Honeywell earning the Pitcher of the Year award. The Rays named RHP Austin Pruitt Durham’s MVP.
Gillaspie had a strong 2016 campaign, split between Double-A Montgomery and the Bulls. The 23-year-old first baseman combined to hit .284 with 18 homers and 64 RBI in just his second full season of professional baseball. The 20th overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Wichita St. was promoted to the Bulls in mid-July and went on to star for the team over the season’s final month and a half, hitting .307 with seven home runs and 23 RBI in 47 games. Over that span the switch-hitter posted a .389 on-base percentage, while his 22 extra-base hits were the third-most in the IL.
In his first season at the Triple-A level, Pruitt earned MVP honors after going 8-11 with a 3.76 ERA. The 27-year-old tied for first in the IL with 28 starts, ranked second with 149 strikeouts and fourth in innings pitched (162.2) and WHIP (1.19). The University of Houston product represented the Bulls at the Triple-A All-Star Game, and became the first Durham pitcher to earn the win in that contest after tossing a scoreless fifth inning.
Full List of Rays 2016 Minor League Awards Winners
Player of the Year – 1B Casey Gillaspie
Pitcher of the Year – RHP Brent Honeywell
Durham Bulls MVP – RHP Austin Pruitt
Montgomery Biscuits MVP – 1B/OF Jake Bauers
Charlotte Stone Crabs MVP – RHP Greg Harris
Bowling Green Hot Rods MVP – INF Michael Russell
Hudson Valley Renegades MVP – LHP Travis Ott
Princeton Rays MVP – OF Eleardo Cabrera
GCL Rays – OF Jesus Sanchez
Baserunner of the Year – OF Jake Fraley
Reliever of the Year – RHP Joe Serrapica
Defensive Player of the Year – C Nick Ciuffo