A look back at: Wayne Franklin

Wayne Franklin has played a large role in the York Revolution’s two-year history.

The former major leaguer started the first game in Revs history. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in wins (20). And he also leads York in all-time defections — leaving once in 2007 for Taiwan before returning; and pulling the same trick in 2008 with Mexico before coming back to the White Rose City once again.

It’s also easy to forget that Franklin was the first guy who York signed in the off-season leading up to the ’08 season (Does anyone remember the idea of turning Franklin into a closer?). And he certainly put together one of the more perplexing seasons for the Revs this past year.

Consider the numbers: Franklin was third in the entire Atlantic League in walks (73) and had a 5.73 ERA for the season. But somehow he managed to record a 12-5 record, good for the team-high in wins, and pitch some incredible games down the stretch — like a six-inning, three-earned-run gem at Newark that gave York a serious jolt on the way to the playoffs.

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A look back at: Aaron Myette

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a series examining the performance of players who suited up for the York Revolution in 2008.

Back in April, when York Revolution starters were assembling their own sick wing at York Hospital, Revolution manager Chris Hoiles was looking for an opening night starter.

He turned to a man who hadn’t thrown a pitch professionally in two years. Hoiles gave the ball to Aaron Myette.

“I thought I had enough of baseball, but last year I started getting the itch to play again,” Myette said prior to his first start of the year. “I pitched for 10 years, plus college and high school, and I think your arm just gets worn down. The (two-year) break was great for that.”

Myette had battled nerve problems in his pitching arm during a comeback attempt in Japan in 2005. He described the experience with a bit of color — he said it was like he was sticking his finger in a light socket over and over.

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A look back at: Keoni De Renne

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in an off-season series examining the 2008 performance of York Revolution players.

In the Atlantic League, records fall as frequently as that young college co-ed who had one too many Mimosas.

The franchise best for hits? For runs? For attendance? These marks fall almost on a weekly basis when it comes to the York Revolution and its brief two-year history.

Yet, here’s one dubious record that we may never see anyone duplicate or exceed — Keoni De Renne’s 36 errors in 2008.

To be fair, the entire York team was awful defensively in ’08. The Revs committed 156 errors for the year, only one behind Lancaster for the league high, and added six more in two crushing playoff defeats. And most will agree that De Renne, a standout shortstop in college at Arizona, is ill-suited for the position in the pros. He’s a decent second baseman — there’s not much debate here.

But that shouldn’t excuse the mistakes De Renne made again and again. Often he would make the spectacular play — like when he dove in the third-base hole and pitched a one-hopper to George Sandel at second to give the Revs the Community Cup. But more often he would botch the routine — De Renne committed a crucial error on a routine ball in that same game against Lancaster that gave the Barnstormers a four-run advantage in the eighth that the Revs would soon erase.

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Aspito taking career year in stride

Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine taught us all long ago on Nike’s hilarious commercial that chicks seriously dig the long ball.

So Jason Aspito’s 24 bombs this year should have all the women in York running to snag his jersey, right?

Not exactly.

Aspito is certainly aware of the milestones he’s accomplished this year. And how could he not be? Aspito has eclipsed his previous career high in RBIs (61) with 104 this year and his 24 homers are 12 more than he’s had in any other pro season.

But guess which statistic Aspito is most proud of this year? That would be his much-improved walk total.

Chew on that ladies.

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Risk and Reward

Throughout the history of baseball, a general manager’s willingness to roll the dice mid-season has paid off plenty.

The Chicago Cubs’ acquisition of Rick Sutcliffe in 1984 paid huge dividends — 16 wins, a Cy Young Award and a division title to be exact. And we’ve seen what’s happened with the Milwaukee Brewers just this year. C.C. Sabathia has been incredible, posting a 1.42 ERA and a 9-0 record in 12 starts for the Brew Crew.

Then there’s the other side of the coin.

What about Cleveland dealing Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew (Bridgeport fans, please stand up) for Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Lee Stevens in 2002? Or the deal that sent Jeff Bagwell from the Red Sox to the Astros for Larry Andersen in 1990? Or even perhaps the worst deadline deal of them all — the Cubs trade of a 24-year-old Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio? (Had to scour the Internet for that one).

As you can see, many rolls of the dice end in snake eyes.

So while we’re talking in-season moves on the independent level with the York Revolution, you can still see how easily GMs can look like geniuses — or like idiots without a clue. And so far, Adam Gladstone, the Revs’ director of baseball operations, and manager Chris Hoiles are looking pretty clever for taking some risks and tinkering with their club.

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Tanaka will be remembered for his huge heart

Editor’s Note: This column appeared in Monday’s York Dispatch.

The brief scene unfolded inside the York Revolution’s batting cage almost five months ago in Lakeland, Fla.

Kaz Tanaka, all of 5-foot-5 and 158 pounds, strolled into the Revs’ cage at the TigerTown Complex in the wee morning hours with bat in tow. Then Matt Dryer, forever the jokester, turned and said to no one in particular what was on his mind.

“Look at his little feet,” Dryer said of Tanaka in a moment that seemed more normal than you would think. “Aren’t they cute?”

Laughter erupted. Tanaka smiled. And in that brief sequence, any onlooker would understand the relationship between Tanaka and all of his Revs’ teammates.

It’s one of respect. One of admiration. One of amazement — for a man who traveled 6,724 miles to the United States for the first time in his life knowing almost zero English to play independent baseball.

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McCurdy moving on up

As Thomasville High School’s quarterback way back in 1997, it was Nick McCurdy’s job to lead the Tigers’ offense.

That didn’t involve throwing the ball too much, though. McCurdy estimated he threw maybe five or six passes a game — perhaps 10 if an opponent was gearing up to stop the run. Basically, McCurdy was behind center to hand the ball off to Thomasville’s running backs. The Tigers finished 6-5 and made the playoffs in his only year as starter.

“We trapped and sweeped. That’s all we did,” McCurdy said with a chuckle earlier this summer.

Well maybe the Tigers’ coaching staff should have let their senior signal caller throw the ball a bit more.

After all, McCurdy’s proven he has a powerful right arm. He’s just put that appendage to use in another sport entirely — baseball. And after starting this year with the York Revolution and earning a trip to the Atlantic League All-Star Game, McCurdy earned an affiliated offer from the Florida Marlins. He’s used that opportunity to work himself up through the Marlins’ organization very quickly.

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