Editor’s note: Maxx Tissenbaum is a 21-year-old prospect with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the San Diego Padres’ Single-A team, and an honest chronicler of life in the minor-leagues. Click here to see Maxx‘s past blog entries, and click here to join our mail list.


By Maxx Tissenbaum/Special to Jewish Baseball News

It has been a while since I last posted, and a whole bunch of things have happened since my last entry so I’ll try and catch you up on the good stuff.

Friday night (4/19/2013) was the start of our last home stand, a quick 3-gamer against the Lansing Lugnuts, the Blue Jays’ affiliate. I knew a lot of the guys on their team from last summer, when we played against each other as Eugene Emeralds (us) and Vancouver Canadians (them). We always seemed to have exciting games against Vancouver last summer, so I was excited heading into the series. I found out that my parents were also making the trip to Fort Wayne for the last two games of the series and that was extremely exciting for me. Friday night we had a great crowd, something we’ve come to expect from Fort Wayne in spite of the horrible weather. We took the field and it felt like it was 15 degrees (that’s a Fahrenheit reference, so for the Canadian readers it would be -9.4). This feeling was soon the least of our worries as midway through the game we had our first blizzard of the season. No, not a Dairy Queen promotion, an actual, full on BLIZZARD, complete with blowing snow. At one point in the game I joked with Dalton Pompey, Lansing’s CF who is from Oakville, that we should be used to playing in snow because it’s always snowing in Canada. This is a question I’ve found surprisingly common when I meet new teammates. We finally were able to beat Taylor Cole, who had our number last summer. We knocked off Lansing 7-3 and sprinted up the tunnel in search of the warmth of our clubhouse. I had another unimpressive night, leaving way too many runners on base and not capitalizing on big opportunities. I spent most of the night after I got back to the apartment talking to my sister, mostly complaining about how I couldn’t hit. I still didn’t feel right at the plate and that really bothered me.

Saturday was another cold day, again I was forced to wear four undershirts to try and combat the deep freeze. We did early front toss on the field with Burkie and then batting practice on the field and I felt better. I wasn’t 100% sure what felt better, but something felt closer to my normal. As we ran off the field at the end of BP I saw my parents standing at the top of the section behind our dugout. I ran inside, put on my Padres toque (Canadian word here, also known as a Beanie in the USA) and an extra fleece to come out and talk to them. I spent 20 minutes or so standing in the seating bowl talking to them, which was awesome. It’s incredible what a calming influence having my parents around is. I just relaxed, I knew that I’d get it together and get back to being me at the plate. Our team absolutely went off at the plate, scoring 17 runs on 21 hits, and collecting runs in 5 of our 8 trips to the plate. We faced Roberto Osuna, a top Blue Jays prospect who we all had been told was a major power arm. I assume the cold had something to do with it, but we didn’t really see his “plus fastball” on display. I managed to collect three hits for the first time all season, and it was one of those games that I just laughed my way through. It was an ugly three-hit night, but when you’re not hitting ugly hits are beautiful too. I had a hit-and-run ground ball just out of the reach of their SS, a line drive that went into and out of the pitcher’s glove, and then a 15 hopper through the middle. What a difference a day makes, I went from feeling like I totally didn’t belong to laughing at how stupid a three-hit game I had and suddenly my numbers weren’t so ugly. I picked up about 50 points on the average, helped my team win with 3 RBIs and finally felt like I was in each at bat. I felt locked in.

We finished the Lansing series in our Sunday reds, a special uniform we wear at home only. We played a 3:05 game, and finally had some really nice weather. I finally got to wear my 3/4 sleeves under my jersey, and didn’t have to feel like the Michelin man buried under four layers. It was a nice way to go into the game, with everyone excited about the early start, the good weather, and the ability to “swag out.” Sunglasses, wrist tape, and cut-off undershirts were on full display as we again jumped out to a big early lead. We were up 5-0 through 5 innings and it seemed we were well on our way to a series sweep. With Hancock on the mound we are always pretty much certain that if we score once we should win, he’s just that dominant. All of a sudden however, we found ourselves in a dogfight, tied 5-5. Rodney Daal, who made the play at the plate to save a game last homestand, came to the plate and CRUSHED a home run to left field to give us the lead again, and we didn’t give that one up. Roman came in and slammed the door, completing our first sweep of the year. I felt awesome at the plate, I hit pitches hard, I took pitches that were borderline, and finally felt like myself again. I have to tip my hat to my parents, they both noticed that my set up in the batters box was totally different from how I normally dug in. They suggested that I try to widen my base like I did all through college to see if I felt more comfortable. I absolutely did, so their trip down was more important to me than just as a visit, having not seen them in a while. It was great to have extra sets of eyes that have seen me grow up as a hitter to make a small suggestion that made such an impact. After the game we had our Sunday autograph session in right field, fans pouring onto the field in droves. My parents came down, said goodbye and took some pictures of me signing before leaving me my Toronto Maple Leafs blanket, giving me a hug and leaving for home. We signed for a while, making sure to talk to the kids and fans as they walked around. The autograph sessions are a lot of fun for me because I love (big surprise here) interacting with all the kids and the fans.

We then went on the road, driving down to Bowling Green, Kentucky. In our first game against the Hot Rods, the Tampa Bay Rays’ affiliate, I got hit by pitch and taken out of the game. It was a major bummer to not get to play, or be in the dugout cheering for my teammates while I was stuck inside doing stuff to help get the welt healed. I sat in the clubhouse alone with the little “zappy” machine before heading back to the dugout for the late innings. We ended up getting beat pretty badly, only to turn around and do it again the next day. Today is the finale of this series, and we’ll drive back north to Fort Wayne after the game. Hopefully I’ll be able to play tonight, because there is no feeling as helpless as not being able to contribute to the team. Sitting in the dugout watching the game was a major letdown, and certainly is something I don’t want to do again.

# # #

Check out our daily Jewish Box Score via Twitter or Facebook