Playoffs begin on Wednesday next week. If the standings remain as they are today, the Swing will face Clinton in the first round. The playoff format is a three-game first round, a three-game second round, and a best of five championship series. I can tell that the team is starting to get fatigued but they are showing a championship spirit as the season comes to an end. Matt Spade joined the team this week to bring a fresh arm to the bullpen. Armando Carrasco was placed on team suspension in a related move.
Recently I was able to spend an evening talking with utility infielder Jaime Landin. I've been intrigued with Jaime since early in the season when I read of his determination and drive to get a return invitation to the Cardinals' spring training after being released last year at the end of ST.
He certainly hasn't disappointed this writer's expectations. He joined the Swing on his 24th birthday when the team was in Dayton. On his first game with the team, he missed hitting for the cycle by a single. A double, a triple, and a home run worked together to make a memorable first game and a real impact on one's team. He's hitting .280 as the Swing bring this regular season to a close. Here's some of what we discussed:
Jon: Jaime, it's good to have you with the team this year. I know you have worked very hard to regain your spot in the Cards' organization. How do you keep the game fun when you also work so hard at your job?
Jaime: Like everything in life that's important, you to it for yourself. You find the drive inside you to be your best. Baseball is fun and I'm thankful that I can play a game and get paid for it.
Jon: If things hadn't worked out for you to continue your baseball career, what would you be doing now instead?
Jaime: I'd finish my Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and then complete my MBA. I want to own my own business.
Jon: We know you work hard at your entire game, but what part of it are you concentrating on the most this year to improve your performance?
Jaime: I work everyday on my concentration and my focus. It's a big part of the game that a lot of guys forget. It's often overlooked, but I think if you keep your head in the game, you will perform better in every part of the game.
Jon: What is the best part of playing professional baseball?
Jaime: I get to make new friends everywhere I go. There are new faces in every city. I like meeting people and making friends.
Jon: What's the worst thing about it?
Jaime: Are you kidding? NOTHING!!
Jon: What hobbies do you enjoy when you're away from baseball?
Jaime: I like to fish and I like to hunt; anything outdoors. That probably doesn't surprise you much, does it? I like to be outside!
Jon: Your professional career hasn't been real extensive yet. I see that changing for you, though. Going back to baseball when you were a kid, up to today, what has been your best baseball memory so far?
Jaime: Getting promoted and making it to my first "real" affiliated baseball team on my birthday was awesome. Getting three big hits that night was really fun. I'll always remember that night and it will always make me smile.
Jon: I want to thank you for your time tonight. I have just one more question for you. When do you want to make your first appearance at Busch Stadium?
Jaime: Of course, I want it to be as soon as possible. Realistically I think it will take me two or three years to get there. However long it takes, it will be worth all the work and all the struggle to get there.
Swinging this week:
Tim Dorn finally snapped his slump this week with a hot game in Burlington. He went three-for-four with an inside the park home run! His average isn't where it should be, but we're seeing the Tim Dorn that we're supposed to see.
Christian Reyes is leading the Midwest League in RBI's. He stands at 63 so far along with 12 home runs.
Kenny Maiques continues to dominate in the closer's role. He has stretched the QC record for saves to 31 on the season. With another six games to play, he could hit 35.
Missing this week:
Steven Hill maintains the highest batting average of any active member of the team, but he has been slumping lately.
Daryl Jones was on a hot streak but he is struggling again at the plate.
On the watch list this week:
Tyler Henley is only hitting .111 so far since joining the team, but he has truly impressed me already. I know he is capable of better performance and I'm watching to see when it comes.
Oliver Marmol is another who has underperformed at the plate since joining the team but again, I know he has more to give. Oli is showing some incredible skill at shortstop. Both Tyler and Oli are new to the team, and if they had more time to adjust and improve their stats, I'm confident they would both be near the top of the stats list.
Matt Spade just joined the team this week. He had a rough first outing in Burlington but it's too soon to pass judgment. I'll be watching him, too.
Thursday and Friday are the final two home games of the regular season. The Swing take on Peoria and Ryne Sandberg. Cubs fans will come out to see him so it will be a couple of well-attended games. Friday is "Fan Appreciation Night" with lots of give-aways and the final special jersey auction. The team will be wearing St. Louis Browns jerseys to be auctioned off their backs at the end of the game. Last week was a Las Vegas themed jersey auction. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice those jerseys were. I hope the same for this week.
Next week I'll be interviewing Tyler Henley for the last player profile of the season, unless I get an opportunity to corner another player! I think it's only fair to warn you all that when the off-season starts, I spend a few weeks being more growly than a bear, then I start the countdown to Spring Training.
More to come….
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