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Howard B. Owens's blog

September 10, 2008 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, sports.

Brian HillabushIn Genesee County, if you follow local sports, you know the name Brian Hillabush.

Brian has been covering sports, mostly high school sports, for the Batavia Daily News for eight years.  In that time, he has developed a solid reputation and built quite a popular following.

Today, he joins the staff of The Batavian.

Brian will be the full-time sports editor for The Batavian (you may have noticed we added a sports tab to the top of the home page the other day).  He’ll cover local sports and help anybody who wants to post their own team or league information on the site.  Besides being able to blog about sports (something he wasn’t allowed to do for the Daily News), he’s also excited about shooting video for the site – so looks for more local sports video on The Batavian.

A native of Oakfield, Brian has spent his entire life in Genesee County. He attended Genesee Community College where he studied broadcasting and managed WGCC.  He even spent a couple of months working for WBTA before embarking on his print career.

In hiring Brian, we fulfill one of our earlier promises – that as we grow, we will hire local staff, people who live in and love Genesee County.

We’re also excited to bring Brian onto our team because he’s just so dang good – a good writer who really knows local sports, has a wealth of contacts and is highly regarded by the people he deals with. We’re confident that with Brian covering sports for The Batavian, we’ll have the most timely and comprehensive Genesee County sports coverage you’re going to get anywhere.
 

September 10, 2008 - 6:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

The St. Louis Cardinals seem to like what they see about Batavia so far as far as player development goes. The team announced yesterday that it renewed its contract with the Muckdogs for two more seasons, according to Scout.com.

“We’ve enjoyed our two years in Batavia,” stated Cardinals Vice President and General Manager John Mozeliak. “We are grateful for Naomi Silver and Dan Mason as they look to build a successful franchise in Batavia. We look forward to the next two years there.”

UPDATE (Philip): We received comments from Naomi Silver, Muckdogs Manager Mark DeJohn and the Cardinals VP of Scouting, John Luhnow on the contract extension.

Naomi Silver:

“We are very pleased to be able to extend our agreement with the Cardinals. When you are fortunate enough to affiliate with such an outstanding organization, you certainly hope to see it continue. We are gratified that they are eager to remain in Batavia. We have been very lucky to be with an organization which has provided us with extremely talented young players. There’s nothing better than playing in the post-season, and this year has been extremely exciting for all of us and the Batavia community.

“The Cardinals are a class organization, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner. They know how important their role has been here and they deserve a lot of credit for the great team they’ve fielded for us. They have been great to work with and we’re looking forward to continuing this relationship.”

Mark DeJohn:

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here the last two seasons and I enjoy working with the front office and stadium staff. I appreciate the improvements made to the ballpark and operation prior to this season and I look forward to working here with our young players for another two seasons.”

John Luhnow:

“The Cardinals are excited about staying in Batavia. We believe in small town minor league baseball; for our players and staff as well as the community."

September 10, 2008 - 12:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

As the Batavia Muckdogs entered the bottom of the sixth inning tonight, trailing 8-2, I was thinking -- "if they don't do anything this inning, I'm heading home."

My thought was prescient. The Muckdogs exploded for six runs to tie the game, and with five more runs in the seventh, the 'Dogs cemented a 13-9 victory over Lowell.

This was game number two of a three-game playoff.  Game three will be Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Here's the complete box score.  Mollie's full report here.

If the Muckdogs can win the third and deciding game, they'll face Jamestown in the finals.  Jamestown swept Staten Island with a 4-1 victory tonight.

September 8, 2008 - 11:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Batavia Muckdogs let a two-run, eigth-inning lead slip away Monday night, sending its first-of-three playoff game against Lowell into extra innings.

The Muckdogs lost in the 12th inning 4-3.

Box Score.

September 8, 2008 - 11:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis.

When you're a reporter, you just love ledes that write themselves. Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News had a real zinger fall into his lap.

Jack Davis collected 7,000 signatures to get his “Save Jobs and Farms Party” on the November ballot, but he forgot the most important one: his own.

Too funny.

If Davis can't beat Powers or Kryzan in the primary, it's unlikely his Save Farms and Jobs Party, will qualify for the November ballot.

Davis, an Akron millionaire who has vowed to spend $3 million of his money on the race, has until next Wednesday to go to court to appeal the decision.

Brehm indicated, however, that the ruling was an easy one on the part of the board.

“I don’t see how we can waive a statutory requirement,” he said.

I don't expect this flub will help him any in the polls.

September 7, 2008 - 12:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

It all came down to the final game of the season, but with a Muckdogs 4-1 victory over State College at Dwyer Stadium tonight, Batavia can now boast that it's home to the 2008 Pinckney Division Champions.

The Muckdogs won the title with a slim half-game lead over Jamestown, which finished the season on a high note, taking it's final five games, including two crucial games agasint Batavia.  The Jammers beat Williamsport tonight 9-5.

The end-of-season surge helped Batavia's Western New York rivals secure a wild card birth over the Brooklyn Cyclones. The Cyclones came up short with a pair of loses in the season's final games after losing only one game in the previous two weeks.

The Muckdogs now travel to Lowell for the first game of the playoffs.

Most likely, we'll see a post from Mollie soon with an update on the final game and more information on the playoff schedule.

September 5, 2008 - 12:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, bill kauffman.

The Muckdogs lost. Big time. The final score of tonight's big match with Jamestown was a blowout: 13-4.

The Jammers (44-29) now sit a mere half game back of Batavia (44-28) in the Pinckney Division.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn won again, to maintain a half-game lead in the wild card race.

All-in-all, a bad night at Dwyer Stadium.

Or was it?

Tonight was "Bill Kauffman Night." Bill threw out the first pitch, autographed books for fans who gave the correct answers to trivia questions, and his daughter and a friend sang the National Anthem and "America the Beautiful."

I sat with Kauffman and his friends and family in the third-base bleachers. It was a good lesson in what it really means to attend a minor league baseball game in a small town.

It isn't all about the game. It's about the camaraderie, shared memories and hearty laughs.

That said, not a single significant play was missed by the group and the level of baseball knowledge was higher than I've found in big league stadiums where I've seen games.

If that experience in "Little Elba," as General Manager Dave Wellenzohn calls it, could be captured in a marketing message -- if more families and groups of friends could better appreciate how much fun an evening at the ballpark can be, win or lose, the Muckdogs would sell out every game.

As much fun as the evening was, the highlight might have been meeting local legend John Hodgins.

After the fifth inning, when Wellenzohn thanked The Batavian for its sponsorship of the team in 2008, and pointed out that I was sitting with the "Little Elba" group, Mr. Hodgins came over and introduced himself.

I cringed at first. I thought he was going to complain about our "fly swat" post, poking fun at a cartoon he drew for the Daily News. Nope, he said. That didn't bother him at all. He's just curious about what we're doing and wanted to meet me. That, my friends, is quite a complement.

I've seen Hodgins art work. I'm impressed. I hope to own some of it some day. I'll feel honored for a long, long time that he wanted to meet me.

I also got to meet in person for the first time Russ Stresing. We chatted for ten minutes or so as the game drew to a close. That, too, was cool.

So, you see, a night at the ballpark is more than just about the game. It's also about the people.

You should go.

Yes, the division crown isn't wrapped up yet, but there is hope: The Muckdogs, sitting in the cat bird seat, have two home games against State College (18-54) who seem hardly to even be going through the motions anymore, while Jamestown must play third-place Williamsport (38-34).

After the game, however, Wellenzohn and the Red Wing's Dan Mason insisted that State College needs to be taken seriously. There's no guarantees.  With that said, you really need to get out to Dwyer Friday and Saturday and support the team.

September 4, 2008 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman.

Local author (Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette and Ain't My America, etc.) spoke this week at Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis.

A two-part video has been posted to YouTube.

The normally mild-mannered scholarly writer really gets into it.

In part 2 Kauffman makes the case that localism, the idea that people should look first to their families and their neighbors for their sense of place, for a sense of peace, is asserting itself all over again.

September 4, 2008 - 2:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, Alice Kryzan.

Public radio station WBFO has posted interviews with Jack Davis and Alice Kryzan.  Check the site tomorrow for Jon Powers (hat tip 26th District Congressional Blog).

September 4, 2008 - 12:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Michele Iannello, Joe Mesi, Dan Ward.

OK, maybe you knew this already, but it's news to me.

Michele Iannello, and Erie County legislator and Democratic candidate for the 61st State Senate District is married to Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward.

If that isn't weird enough, Dennis is the brother of one of the other candidates in the race, Dan Ward.

According to this Tonawanda News story.

The third candidate, boxer Joe Mesi’s, is not, as far as I know, but correct me if I'm wrong, related to any of the three.

Oh, and the real point of the Tonawanda News story is how Mesi and Iannello and hurling charges back and forth.

As Erie County Legislator Michele Iannello renewed her request for an evaluation of Joe Mesi’s campaign finances, Mesi’s camp struck back with a charge of their own.

Their concern over the integrity of Tuesday’s elections stems from Iannello’s husband, Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward, also the brother of third candidate Dan Ward not responding to Mesi’s request that Commissioner Ward recuse himself from oversight of Tuesday’s elections.

On a somewhat related note: We've asked all three candidates to respond to a short questionnaire, and none have yet responded.

September 4, 2008 - 7:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Muckdogs dropped a crucial Pinckney Division game Wednesday night in Jamestown, as the second-place Jammers closed within a game of division-leading Batavia.

After the 7-2 lose, the Muckdogs (44-27) have a chance to claim the division title at home tonight against Jamestown (43-29).  The two teams square off at 7:05 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium.

A game and a half separate the Western New York rivals.

A lot is on the line for both teams as Brooklyn (44-29) gained a half-game lead in the wild card race. The red hot Cyclones are 9-1 over their last nine games, and beat Hudson Valley last night 9-6.

The Jamestown newspaper reports this morning that because of rain outs that won't be made up, Batavia has a slight mathematical advantage in the division race.

It was a must win for the Jammers, but still might be too little too late. With the victory, Jamestown now trails Batavia by 1 games in the Pinckney Division. The teams play tonight in Batavia and if the Muckdogs win, they claim the title.

If Jamestown wins, it is still alive, but Batavia has a big edge. The Muckdogs had a game each with Mahoning Valley and Oneonta rained out and the NY-P League has announced that those games will not be made up. The Muckdogs have three games left while the Jammers have four, so if the teams end up tied, the Muckdogs would still win the title on percentage points.

In last night's game, Frederick Parejo had three hits, while Jermaine Curtis and Shane Peterson each collected two.

The Muckdogs made five errors and turned two double plays.

Josh Hester (2-2) took the loss, going 2 1/3 innings and giving up four earned runs on nine hits.

The Jammers struck early, as the first four batter reached base, including a three-run homer from catcher Miguel Fermin

It should go without saying, but you need to be at the game tonight.

September 3, 2008 - 7:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

From the Post-Journal:

WILLIAMSPORT-The Jamestown Jammers are doing everything in their power to not make the playoffs this season, dropping their second-straight contest against Williamsport, 2-1, in the New York Penn League.

What also hurts is that every other team in the playoff hunt has been winning lately.

Batavia won Tuesday, pushing the Jammers 2 games out in the Pinckney Division and game out in the wild card with only four games left in the regular season for Jamestown.

The Brooklyn Cyclones, after winning nine in a row, finally took a loss as well to keep their slim game lead over the Jammers for the wild card spot.

Tuesday's loss was a tough one, as the Jammers pitching staff didn't allow an earned run all night while the offense left seven on base and grounded into two double plays.

Meanwhile, the Centre Daily Times reports on the Spikes/Muckdogs game and its playoff implications:

UNIVERSITY PARK — With a two-game series against Jamestown looming, fiery Batavia manager Mark DeJohn handed his team explicit instructions:

Take advantage of a battered opponent.

The Muckdogs again met their animated manager’s demands.

The differences between a team approaching the postseason and one collecting return tickets home were on display Tuesday as the Muckdogs hammered the Spikes 10-2 to easily sweep a two-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Take away a two-error ninth inning, and the Muckdogs resembled a playoff team the past two nights.

Batavia scored 23 runs and recorded 30 hits to move 21/ 2 games ahead of Jamestown, which lost to Williamsport 2-1, in the Pinckney Division standings. The Muckdogs (44-26) can clinch their first division title since 1998 by defeating the Jammers (42-29) tonight at Jamestown’s Diethrick Park or Thursday in Batavia.

September 2, 2008 - 7:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, Philip Penepent.

In the category of new local videos found on YouTube, Philip Penepent's 86th birthday party.

September 2, 2008 - 7:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, Genesee County Animal Shelter.

The Genesee County Animal Shelter has posted another video to YouTube encouraging adoption of felines at the shelter.

September 2, 2008 - 7:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs.

Just checking out YouTube for local videos this morning, and came across this:

September 1, 2008 - 11:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Some people think the web makes the world bigger. I say, it makes it smaller.  Some people say the web makes us neighbors with people in Kenya or the Ukraine.  I say it makes us better neighbors with the family next door.

There was a time in United States history when newspapers served as a centralizing force for drawing communities together -- and then came  television, and cable, and satellite -- all the forces that did nothing to humanize communication, but made mass communication more mass and less personal. (Radio is a mixed bag. For every WBTA there are 10 radio stations programmed by a computer in Texas, Nevada or Pennsylvania.)

The Internet brings back the possibility of human-sized communication.

At a time when too many glass-eyed Americans turn to network TV for their "Heroes" and get "Lost" in the idea that last night's episode of whatever flimflam Hollywood is dishing out this season is worthy of deep discussion,  the Web opens up new possibilities for people, local people, people who share a common interest in a common community, to partake in conversation and pursue change with conviction.

If I might share a bit of personal biography: In 1995, I started a web site in eastern San Diego County called East County Online.  At the time, I would tell any number of colleagues in the newspaper business: "Mark my words, the web is the best thing that ever happened to local news; all the fascination now is with global communication, but eventually, people will look homeward and want to use the web to build better communities."

I've never stopped believing that. I believe it to this day.

I've learned a lot about the Internet and how people use it since 1995, but the philosophy remains the same: Together, we can use digital communication to build better, stronger, more self-reliant communities.

That's what I want The Batavian to do for Genesee County. And maybe, along the way, we can convince a few people to turn off the TV once or twice a week and visit a local art gallery, spend an evening  with the Batavia Players, or "root,root, root for the home team."

September 1, 2008 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta.

Happy Labor Day, everybody. How come you're inside staring at a computer screen on a beautiful day like this?

Philip Anselmo has the day off. I hope you do, too.

There's  news on the WBTA news page.

A car struck a tree off the Thruway this morning. One person is unconscious. Mercy flights dispatched. Listen to WBTA for updates.

Police dispatchers made the switch to the County's dispatch center at midnight.

And those, so far, are the biggest news items of the day.

Be safe and have fun.

September 1, 2008 - 9:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Batavia Muckdogs (42-26) enter the closing week of the season with a half game lead on the Jamestown Jammers (42-27) for the PInckney Division crown.

Winning the division could prove more significant than it seemed a week ago, when the Brooklyn Cyclones (42-28) sat three games back behind Batavia (then in second place in the division).  Since then, Brooklyn has reeled off eight straight wins and now sits a mere game behind Jamestown. If Brooklyn stays hot, the Pinckney's second place team -- either Batavia or Jamestown -- may not make the playoffs.

The next two days of games, however, are decidedly in Batavia's favor as they head to State College (16-52), where the Spikes have flirted with achieving the worst record in New York-Penn League history (the 1981 Batavia team holds the record at  16-59). Meanwhile, the Jammers travel to Williamsport (35-33, but 17-19 at home).

Tonight's game is at 5 p.m., while Jamestown and Williamsport clash at 1 p.m. and Brooklyn plays Aberdeen (34-36) at 7 p.m.

The Muckdogs are in Jamestown on Wednesday and then close out the season with three games at home -- Jamestown on Thursday at 7:05 p.m., and State College on both Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

According to the printed schedule, Friday's game is not slated to be a fireworks night.  Maybe Red Wings management will have a change of heart (hint, hint) so the team and fans can celebrate a great season -- especially if that turns out to be the night the Muckdogs clinch the division.

August 31, 2008 - 9:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jon Powers, Jack Davis, Alice Kryzan.

Here's the audio from today's 26th Congressional Debate between Alice Kryzan and Jon Powers.

I haven't had time yet to listen to it. If anybody wants to write up a report of it, that would be great.

As for Jack Davis not participating -- his reported demands that his opponents sign various pledges before he'll debate them is down right anti-democratic (and I mean that with a small "d").

If you run for office, you don't get to dictate what issues your opponent will support, what ethics (or not) they will follow, what sort of campaign they will run. To expect otherwise is just basically anti-American.  Either Jack Davis wants to be a lawfully elected representative, or he wants to be a dictator. To dodge debates under the pretense of lecturing other candidates is unconscionable.

We need representatives who will speak up for what they believe without fear or favor. We need representatives who will be transparent about what they believe and why they believe it. We need representatives who will discuss with anybody -- other candidates, media or constituent -- what they believe an why. We should fear those candidates who purposely make themselves inaccessible.

Again, i'm not taking sides here. I'm just saying why Jack Davis was wrong to dodge the debate.

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