You’re looking live at overcast skies over Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, where tonight the Wingnuts will try to play the second game of a three-game series against Sioux Falls. OK, you’re not looking live, but I am. And it doesn’t look really too threatening, so I’m guessing this game will be started, at least. Whether it’s finished is up to Mother Nature.
UPDATE: Tonight’s game has been postponed and will be made up as part of a doubleheader tomorrow starting at 5:05 p.m.
In the meantime, I’m posting a conversation I had with Sioux Falls radio personality Scott Beatty. I’m calling the radio guys “radio personalities” this year, attempting to bury the collective hatchet I seem to have created with nearly all of them. Scott is new to the Pheasants, though, so he knows of no such rift.
Q: First, tell me a little bit about your background. It’s your first year here — how did you end up in Sioux Falls?
I got into broadcasting a few years ago when I started volunteering at a local two-year school where I’m from. I’m from central Illinois; actually, I’m originally from the Chicago area. My wife works at a two-year school and they were needing volunteer sportscasters, so that’s how I got started. That got me in enough material to land in the No. 2 job in Rockford, Illinois, with the Rockford River Hawks. They were in the Frontier League, now they’re in the Northern League.
That enabled me to get a job in Sioux Falls. I actually called Sioux Falls on a cold call and caught them in the middle of their ownership change. They were looking for a new broadcaster, so it was a really fortunate situation.
Q: What are your early impressions of the Pheasants?
My early impressions are: they can hit, they can score in bunches and the pitching has been stellar. It’s only five games, but you look at a starting rotation that has a 1.60 ERA in five games. They’ve only allowed five runs; four of those have been off of Ben Moore. Your other three starters have only allowed one run in three games. The bullpen has allowed three runs in five games. That’s going to enable you to win most days when that’s going on. They had scored no less than five runs in their first four games. Granted, that’s all against Lincoln and Lincoln was looking a little anemic in the opening series.
The other thing that people are saying is they have a high work ethic. Three quarters of the team was on the early bus getting over here. And they seem to like each other. There’s not a lot of guys that are forming cliques and not liking this guy or that guy. They all seem to get along. It’s still the honeymoon phase, but that’s huge when the guys enjoy being each other, because you’re with each other for 96 games. That’s a good thing.
Q: The team brings in the league home-run record holder Brandon Sing and an ex-major leaguer, Reggie Abercrombie. To put them in the middle of the order with Beau Torbert, those guys are going to drive in a lot of runs.
I think the bigger issue will be, will Sing and Abercrombie be around by the All-Star break. Abercrombie’s already been named player of the week. Sing has been a little quiet the last couple games, but he’s going to hit. They both want to get back to the Triple-A level. We’ll see if they stick around.
Q: It didn’t work out for Abercrombie when he was coming up as a big-time prospect with the Dodgers. But can you see what scouts saw in him as far as having a lot of tools?
He’s just athletic. He was actually recruited out of high school as a quarterback; he was looking at Auburn to be a quarterback. I think, for whatever reasons, he chose baseball. That’s not to say baseball players aren’t athletic, but he’s got those tools. You watch him in center field, it doesn’t look like he’s running hard but he’s getting to balls. He’s just got this speed and it looks effortless, and he can cover a lot of ground. He’s not a huge power guy, but at this level he might be more than he was at Triple-A or the majors when he played there. He’s pretty close to a five-tool player.
Q: What will Abercrombie do for chemistry? Last season, Sioux Falls had an ex-major leaguer (Reggie Taylor), who was eventually let go in part for being a negative influence in the clubhouse. Can you see that happening again?
No. I think he’s very animated, he’s a boisterous guy. He’s the one kind of Rah-Rah in the clubhouse. You watch him in stretching, he’s the one kind of leading it and helping the guys get along. This is my own opinion — I wonder about this, I have no data on this: I wonder what is it like for the only guy who’s been in the major leagues, who has kind of had different life experiences than everybody else, how is that going to affect him long term? But there’s no indication that he’s in here as a prima donna or that he’s going out to pasture. There’s every indication that he wants to work hard, he wants to win here and wants to get back to a higher level. He’s not shy about that; most guys aren’t.
He’s got an adorable baby that he brought along on this trip. He’s been a positive presence. And I have heard people complain about Taylor, and they’re not saying the same things about Reggie (Abercrombie).
Q: Last question — Joe Anthonsen, at the top of the order, seems like he’ll be a great table setter for the RBI guys in the middle of the order.
Yeah, he has an obscene on-base percentage (.571) already, and (Tuesday) was the first game where he didn’t have multiple hits in a game. What the problem is for pitchers is Anthonsen just doesn’t strike out — he has one strikeout or something in the first five games — and he can cover the whole plate. He’s got that inside-out swing, so he’ll usually be able to punch it the other way. Then, as soon as he’s on base he’s causing problems for the pitchers. He’s not quite as fast as Reggie, but the thing is the guy just wants to be on base and he truly has that mindset. Not, I want to be on base; it’s, I truly have to be on base.
And (Tuesday) he popped out on high fastballs, and he knows he’s supposed to lay off those, but they’re just too tempting for him. The fourth highest on-base percentage in team history last season (.413). He’s just smart at the plate. Some people say he thinks too much up there when he does have an off day. My impression of his personality, though, is that he’s very good at reacting. And he’s another good guy in the clubhouse. He’s pretty fun and he likes to joke around. There’s a lot of guys (on the team) who are loose. Not lazy, just loose. They’re OK with pressure.