Sons of Liberty Video Clip

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rubbing Mud: A Secret Society

Anyone who has ever played the game of baseball knows that you can't just pull a new ball out of its wrapper and start to use it. They are pearly white but also extremely slippery. You have to darken them up just a little, and give them some grip. How do you do this? You rub them down with a secret mud concoction. I got a chance to talk to the Freedom's Clubhouse Manager, Randy, who gave me some insight into how he likes his balls to be rubbed.

Just so everyone knows a little history behind rubbing mud on baseballs, I'm going to take us back in time. In 1938, umpires began complaining that balls were too white, too slick, and open to tampering. A man named Lena Blackburn, an old Philadelphia Athletics coach, found a spot in the Delaware River, where he discovered the miracle mud. It didn't blacken the ball, but it added grip and kept pitchers from being able to doctor it as easily. The spot on that river in New Jersey is still a secret to this day. The secret was passed down after Blackburn's passing, but the MLB still uses the very same mud for every single game ball.

As for Randy, he has his own secret recipe. He has a few jars of Blackburn's rubbing mud in his office, but they are pricey, and he feels his recipe does the job just as well. Check out the video below as Randy walks us through the making of his own rubbing mud.

video


After Randy walked me through the steps he uses to make his own rubbing mud, he showed me a finished product. It's visibly darker, but not by much. It's also far less slick. The pitchers are singing his praises. I want to thank Randy for letting us in on one of the biggest secret societies baseball has in it's amazing history.

(Mud rubbed ball on left / New, unrubbed ball on right)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

FREEDOM’S GROGAN, OHLMANN, AND SHULTS FLOURISH IN ALL-STAR DEBUTS

Freedom Report: A recap of the 2010 Frontier League All-Star Game

Nick Dobreff / Florence Freedom

FLORENCE, KY - Success in the All-Star Game is quickly becoming a Florence Freedom tradition.

For the fourth consecutive year, a Freedom player took home MVP honors in the Frontier League's mid-summer showcase. This time around, it was veteran infielder Tim Grogan.

Grogan hit a 2-run home run in the first inning to give the Western Division All-Stars a lead they would never relinquish. He finished the night 2-3 with the home run and 2 RBI.

"After I hit the home run, I thought (winning MVP) was a possibility, but it was certainly something I didn't think about going in", said Grogan. "It felt good to be recognized personally and as a representative for the Freedom."

Grogan wasn't the only Freedom player to excel, however.

Fellow all-star teammates Stephen Shults and Liam Ohlmann also played large roles in the win. Shults hit a solo home run and finished 2-3 with 2 RBI, while Ohlmann struck out the side in a scoreless inning of relief.

"It made us all proud to play well and represent the Freedom", said Ohlmann. "It gives us some legitimacy that we went out there and performed in front of some of the best players in the league."

Grogan echoed those sentiments.

"It felt good to represent the team so well. And the biggest thing would be if we were able to carry that performance into the second half and make a playoff push."

The game itself was only half of the experience though. The three-day festivities included a country music concert, golf outing, wine tasting, and an all-star luncheon.

Of course no all-star celebration would be complete without the home run derby. Both Grogan and Shults participated in the long ball challenge, which was eventually won by Southern Illinois' Jereme Milons.

Overall, it was a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

"It was fun going to Southern Illinois. They really put on a good show and we were able to play in front of a packed house", said Grogan. "I was also able to spend a few days with my mom and fiancé and being able to share the experience with them made it even more rewarding.

Said Ohlmann, "It was fun to go there and hang out with the guys from the other teams. Obviously everybody who was there is having a great season. It was one of the best baseball experiences I've ever had."

Unofficial Team Photo

Your 2010 Florence Freedom!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Freedom take series against rival Miners

Finally, a win for the Freedom to savor.

Down 4-1 after 2 innings tonight, the Freedom scored 6 runs in the final 3 innings to win 7-4 against their hated rivals, the Southern Illinois Miners.

The Miners have been the bullies of the Frontier League this season, posting a 39-9 record before the All Star break and earning their share of enemies along the way. But after consecutive losses to the Freedom, their post break record stands at 2-4.

After losing game one of the series, Andy Clark returned to the starting rotation and delivered 7+ innings of shutout ball. The Freedom led 1-0 going into the 9th but allowed the Miners to push a run across and send the game to extras.

It was reminiscent of their June 28th game when the Freedom led 6-5 going into the 9th but surrendered a game tying home run and eventually lost in extras. This time however, the Freedom withstood the Miners efforts and won 2-1 in extra innings on an RBI hit from resurgent catcher Justin Pickett.

Tonight, they again refused to go quietly into the night. They scratched and clawed their way to 2 runs in the 7th on a 2 run, two out single by Michael Campbell to make it 4-3. In the 8th, Jimmy Baker delivered a huge two out 3 run home run to put the Freedom up for good.

The Freedom will need to build on this series victory if they still hold out hope for making the playoffs. They currently sit 9.5 games behind second place River City for the last playoff spot in the Western Division, but they still have 9 games remaining with the Rascals, so anything is possible. Their upcoming 4 games series with last place Evansville could set the table for a huge second half, or stick the final nail in the coffin of their season.

But after stuffing a seasons worth of heartbreaking losses into one half of baseball, the Freedom earned the right to celebrate this win.

And doing it against the New York Ya....er....Miners, makes it all the sweeter.


Styx Live at Champion Window Field!


Styx will be playing at Champion Window Field on Saturday September 4th. You won't want to miss out on this special concert event! Join the Florence Freedom and the Sons of Liberty in welcoming Styx to Northern Kentucky!

Click this Link to buy tickets and for more information. Hope to see everybody there!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Freedom All-Stars Shine

For the 4th consecutive year, a Freedom player won the Frontier League All-Star Game MVP. Tim Grogan hit a first inning 2-run home run as part of a 7 run inning for the west squad. He would add another hit and finished 2-3.

Stephen Shults also game up big with a solo home run of his own and finished 2-3 with 2 RBI.

Freedom relief pitcher Liam Ohlmann pitched a scoreless inning for the West squad.

The West ended up winning the game 9-2.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wiener Dog Race a Photo Finish

The last game before the All-Star break was a victory for the Florence Freedom. It was also the setting of the 3rd Annual Wiener Dog Race.

Big, small, long, and stumpy wiener dogs were there. Awards were given out in various categories for the pups. The main event though, was the race. There were 4 preliminary races on the right field lawn, with the 4 winners advancing to the championship race, which was on the field immediately following the game.

It was a literal photo finish, with the favorite, Little Richard Long, being edged out by newcomer Aloe.


Watch video by clicking play below.
video

However, if you look closely at Aloe in the far lane, you will notice one of her owners, reaching out. The arm extends, with Aloe's favorite toy in hand, over the finish line.


Is this a call for disqualification? I read the Wiener Dog Racing By-Laws, but could find nothing about a situation like this. If you ask me, the results should be recorded with an asterisk by Aloe's name. She also tested positive for steroids before the race. Little Richard Long did it the right way, which is something I think we can all aspire to do.

Regardless of who won, it was a great race. I think it goes without saying, that when it comes to wiener dog racing, no one beats the Freedom's wieners.

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Half In Review

We have officially reached the halfway point of the Frontier League season, and that means it's time to take a look at where the Florence Freedom stand.

West DivisionWLPCTGBSTREAKLAST 10
Southern Illinois Miners3990.813-3L6-4
River City Rascals27210.563125W7-3
Gateway Grizzlies26220.542135W7-3
Normal CornBelters21270.438181W4-6
Florence Freedom19290.396201W4-6
Evansville Otters17300.36221.51W3-7
The standings don't tell the whole story, but they tell you enough. Southern Illinois, despite going into the break on a season high 3 game losing streak, can start printing Western Division Championship shirts today. The final playoff spot is still up for grabs, but a 1-4 stretch to end the first half has left the Freedom with a tough road to reach it.

One things the Freedom have done well is hit. They rank first in the Frontier league in slugging percentage and doubles, second in home runs. However, they only rank sixth in batting average and on-base percentage and fourth in runs. This may be a case of picking nits, but the issue is that the Freedom are getting big hits with few if any people on base. Like I said, this is a small complaint and the offense is scoring more than enough runs for this team to win on any given night, as they are averaging just under 5 runs scored a game (4.9).

Therefore the fault has to fall on the pitching and defense for the Freedom's first half shortcomings. They rank 9th in ERA and next to last in hits allowed. Meanwhile, the defense has committed 60 errors in 46 games allowing 43 unearned runs to score...clearly not doing the pitching staff any favors.

When one problem seems to get solved, another springs up in it's place. If the starting pitcher has a good performance, the bullpen struggless, and vice-versa.

And while they are getting considerable contributions from Steven Shults, Tim Grogan, Johnny Welch, Michael Campbell, and pitcher Liam Ohlmann, two players they were counting on to lead the team have scuffled. Justin Pickett and Billy Mottram, both all stars during the 2009 season, have struggled to put it together offensively. Mottram is hitting .275 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI, not terrible, but he's well off his last years pace when he hit 23 home runs and knocked in 79. The same goes for Pickett who is hitting only .217 with 3 home runs and 24 RBI while committing a team high 11 errors. Last year he hit .277 with 26 home runs and 78 RBI. If those two players can regain their form from 2009, the Freedom's chances improve dramatically.

But will the pitching staff contribute enough quality outings to give the offense a chance? The loss of starters Everett Saul and Andy Clark for a significant amount of time due to injury certainly crippled the starting rotation and their return in the second half would provide a much needed boost.

Right now there are a lot of questions, but will the Freedom find the answers?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Freedom's Shults Breaks Through With All-Star Campaign

Freedom Report: A profile of Stephen Shults


Nick Dobreff / Florence FreedomSteven Shults


FLORENCE, KY - When the season comes to a close for the Florence Freedom, they may look back to June 8th as the day their season turned around.


That's the day the Freedom traded shortstop Gabe Suarez to the Newark Bears for another shortstop, Stephen Shults.


Shults, who struggled to find consistency during 3 injury-plagued seasons in the Atlanta Braves organization, is finally healthy and enjoying the kind of season the Freedom hoped for when they acquired him.


Coming into tonight's game, Shults leads the Frontier League in batting average (.377), home runs (13), and slugging percentage (.754), while also ranking in the top 10 in runs, on-base percentage, and RBI's.


But what's most amazing is that he's produced these stats despite having missed the Freedom's first 16 games of the season.


Shults' presence has injected new life into the Freedom batting order and his stellar defense at shortstop has shored up the team defense. He credits his strong first half to his health, but knows the Freedom's players and coaches have made a huge impact as well.


"This is the first team I've been on that hasn't tried to change my swing", says Shults. "Every team I've been with, even when I've been doing well, has tried to tweak my swing. The coaches here have let me find my own comfort zone and I'm sticking with it. And I've been able to relax knowing that I'm going to be in the lineup every day."


He was rewarded for his accomplishments earlier this week when he was named to the 2010 Frontier League All-Star Game.


"It's a tremendous honor to be named to the All Star Team. It's very special and humbling when you're recognized by your peers for having a good season."


He will also participate in the Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star week festivities.


"I'm really looking forward to the whole experience. It's great exposure for the players as well as the individual teams. I just want to represent the Florence Freedom in the best way possible and give the fans something to cheer about."


And while he's pleased with his first half performance, he knows it will take a team effort for the Freedom to make the playoffs.


"We have so much talent on this team, but we've lost some really tough games, a lot of one run games. During the second half we need to start winning those close games. I just want to win, and I think this team has the ability to go on a good run and finish the season on a positive note. A playoff spot is still our goal and that's what we're fighting for every day."

This article originally appeared on the official website of the florence freedom, florencefreedom.com. Check it out today!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Roster Moves by the Barrell

Being an intern at the Florence Freedom seems to have a little more job security than actually playing for the Freedom. Teams in the Frontier League generally make quite a few roster moves. Every team is trying to find the right players as we approach the All-Star break. It's not uncommon for a player to only get a few games with a team before moving on. It's the nature of the business. I've learned that it's one of the hardest parts too. It's not fun knowing a guy is leaving the club. As it is, the Freedom have made many roster moves to improve the team in the first half of the season. Here is a list of releases and acquisitions since opening day.

Signed: OF, Samuel Wiley 2B - Gabe Suarez, SS - Richard Martinez, LHP - Bryan Banes, RHP - Mario Guilin, OF - Steve Bralver, SS - Stephen Shults, OF - Michael Campbell, 1B - Cory Wine, 1B - AC Grable, INF - Jimmy Baker, INF - Max Moya - RHP - Julian Arballo, RHP - Cameron Aspaas, RHP - Mike Jackson, C - Curt Marshall, RHP - Matt Antos

Released: RHP - Matt Gibbs, SS - Justin Armiger, LHP - Chuck Tiffany, OF - Hunter Owen, RHP - Matt Maradeo, SS - Richard Martinez, 1B - Dan Maycock, OF - Steve Bralver, OF - Dustin Koca, 1B - Daryl Jones, RHP - Austin Chambliss, RHP - Mario Guilin, 1B - AC Grable, LHP - Austin Bridges

The Freedom have definitely made some positive moves so far. Stephen Shults leads the team in hitting and HR's and is a 2010 Frontier League All-Star. Bryan Banes has been a bright spot in the rotation, Michael Campbell, Cory Wine, and Jimmy Baker are fixtures in the Freedom's starting line-up, and Cameron Aspaas is 2-0 in his first 3 starts.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Freedom Sign RHP Matt Antos

The Freedom make a roster move with only a few games before the All-Star break, signing RHP Matt Antos.

Antos is a LaPorte, IN native, coming out of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. During 3 years with the Mastadons, Matt pitched 105 innings, collected 53 strikeouts, and 3 wins in 57 career appearances.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Living a King's Life

Our very own beloved broadcaster, John Leahy, has recently announced the release of his book, entitled Living a King's Life.

John has been one of the biggest supporters in the early days of the Sons of Liberty, and we can think of no better way to thank him than by telling everyone about his book. Feel free to check out this link, which will give you a synopsis of John's work, as well as the opportunity to buy it through Publish America.

Living A King's Life

Thanks John, and congratulations.

Paula the Penguin


Working with the Freedom truly gives you once in a lifetime opportunities. Meeting Paula the Penguin was one of those moments.

Recently, the Freedom have teamed up with Newport Aquarium as part of a sponsorship deal. They usually set up a booth once a week with some interesting activities for the kids, like the "shark petting tank". The announcement that their very own penguin would be throwing out the first pitch had everyone excited though.

Paula stands a menacing 1 ft. 2 inches, but has a miraculous arm for a penguin. She was really nervous about the first pitch, but she followed her trainer out to the mound and threw a perfect strike.

You just never know what you're going to see when you come to Champion Window Field.

Freedom All-Star Selections



Congratulations to the Freedom's three All-Star Selections this year: Tim Grogan, Steven Shults, and Liam Ohlmann.

The selections will be the first for Grogan, Shults and Ohlmann.

The selections are well deserved and come as no surprise to the Sons Of Liberty. Grogan has been the Freedom's most consistent offensive threat thus far and has provided stellar defense up the middle. Shults has been tearing the cover off the ball since joining the Freedom June 7th and now claims the team lead in home runs, RBI, and batting average. Ohlmann has emerged as the Freedom's most reliable option out of the pen and leads all Freedom relievers in ERA.

Read the official press release here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July


Nothing is more American than Freedom!
Happy 4th of July from the Florence Freedom and The Sons of Liberty

Friday, July 2, 2010

Freedom's Manning Sees The Whole Field

This article originally appeared on florencefreedom.com. Check it out today!

Freedom Report: A profile of Beau Manning

Nick Dobreff / Florence Freedom

FLORENCE, KY - Beau Manning is seeing baseball from a whole new perspective these days.

As a first year player in the Frontier League, the Freedom infielder is adjusting to the rigors and challenges of pro baseball.

But he's also getting the chance to see the game from the managerial side as well.

After graduating from Indiana University Southeast in 2008, he was offered an assistant coaching position by his former teammate and current manager Ben Reel.

"It's great seeing it from the other side, especially since it's somewhere I played, somewhere that's special to me", says Manning who played and starred for 4 years at IUS. "I just love seeing it from the other side and helping college kids reach their potential."

Manning and Reel were teammates on the Grenadiers for a year when Manning was a sophomore and Reel was a senior. As two of the youngest coaches in the county, they're cutting their teeth at a level usually reserved for older, more experienced managers.

"It's been a learning experience for both of us. I've definitely enjoyed learning from him and watching how he's managed the team for the last two years."

Experiencing life as a manager has given Manning a broader perspective on baseball. And while he admits coaching may become a more serious endeavor in the coming years, he's still focused on realizing his dreams as a player.

"Right now, there are so many things I want to accomplish as a player. But as far as the future goes, it's definitely a possibility. I love helping kids. I love the reward of watching kids succeed and being able to help them achieve their potential."

Manning, who grew up in nearby Louisville, is ecstatic about getting the chance to play close to home, especially after playing last season in Texas with the Big Bend Cowboys of the Continental League.

"Florence is a home away from home for me because it's only an hour away from Louisville. It's always a special experience when you can play close to home. Both of my parents are retired so they are able to come watch me play now as opposed to last year when I was 22 hours away."

And his experiences as a manager are helping him adjust to life in pro ball.

"The Frontier League is definitely a step up from the Continental League. The pitching and overall talent is better in this league. You see a lot more off-speed pitches and pitchers attack you differently. I'm still working to make that adjustment. But there's always adjustments to be made in baseball if you want to stick around."

Manning has worked hard to make himself into a vital player on the Freedom. He's become Manager Toby Rumfield's go to utility player, a guy who can play multiple positions, bat anywhere in the lineup, steal a base, or get a timely hit.

And his attitude is rubbing off on his teammates.

"I'm fiery. I like to get people fired up and that's the type of attitude I bring to the field. Give everything you have every single day."

But when he offers an assessment of the Freedom's season, he does so with a coach's savvy.

"We have the team we need to be successful right now. We're definitely starting to come together and winning some ballgames. We just need to take it one game at a time and start winning series after series. We're right in the hunt for a playoff spot. I think we're turning it around at the right time and I'm excited to see what we're capable of doing with the roster we have now."