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Memphis’ magic attendance number is 5,305 for Sunday vs. Tulsa

While No. 24 SMU dealt the University of Memphis another disappointing loss, 69-62, on Thursday, Feb. 25 at FedExForum, there was some hopeful news.

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The so-called turnstile count (or tickets actually scanned) eclipsed 8,300. The Tigers needed to average 6,812 fans – in the seats, not just paid-for tickets – over the last two home games to bring the season average up to 6,000 for the season and ensure the Tigers receive a portion of an $800,000 payment from the Memphis Grizzlies.

The U of M won’t get the full load, but if they can get 5,305 fans into the building for Senior Day vs. Tulsa on Sunday, Feb. 28 (3 p.m. start, by the way) they’ll make it and, according to multiple media reports, be in line for a payment in excess of $400,000.

The financial numbers might be what matter most now in a season that slipped a little farther away as the Tigers lost for the fourth time in their last five games. Their record fell to 15-13 overall, 6-9 in the American Athletic Conference.

– Don Wade

Redbirds’ mini-packs emphasize Saturday nights and fireworks

The Memphis Redbirds are trying to give fans more bang for their bucks.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A team has introduced three new mini-packs for the upcoming 2016 season at AutoZone Park. Fans have a choice between three ticket packages, each containing multiple weekend games that feature a variety of postgame fireworks shows and guaranteed gate giveaways.

Each pack has five games, four of which are Saturday games. Mini-pack pricing ranges from $115 for Club Level, $95 for Dugout, and $80 for Field Box tickets.

Mini-packs schedules and tickets are available at memphisredbirds.com/minipacks or over the phone at 901-721-6000.

The Redbirds’ 2016 promotional lineup will continue to evolve through Opening Night and into the season, including theme nights and other events.

AutoZone Park was selected to host the nationally-televised 2016 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday, September 20 at 6:30 p.m. pitting the Pacific Coast League Champions against the winner of the International League’s Governors’ Cup in a one-game, winner-take-all championship.

The Redbirds open the season at AutoZone Park on Thursday, April 7 against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Triple-A Brewers).

– Don Wade

Matt Barnes vs. Derek Fisher this Saturday in Memphis

Matt Barnes had a lot to talk about after the Grizzlies’ second dramatic win over the Detroit Pistons in as many games.

In Detroit in December, he heaved a half-court shot with 1.1 seconds left for a Memphis victory. Thursday night, Jan. 14, at FedExForum, point guard Mario Chalmers did the honors with 00.8 seconds left from 15 feet for a 103-101 victory over the Pistons.

“My game-winner was better,” said Barnes, who lockers next to Chalmers.

But Mario would get his chance to have fun later. After Barnes answered a couple of questions about his hot shooting night – 6-for-6 from long range for 18 points – he got the inevitable question about New York and Knicks coach Derek Fisher coming to town on Saturday, Jan. 16.

“Eww, there it goes,” Chalmers said when the question was put out there.

In the preseason, Barnes and Fisher had an altercation at the home of Barnes’ estranged wife, Gloria Govan. It took a few months, but the NBA ultimately suspended Barnes for two games because of the incident.

“It kind of is what it is,” Barnes said after Thursday’s game. “I know I gotta keep my mouth shut because he’ll run and tell. When I’m retired, him and I will cross paths again.”

To which Chalmers said: “Hey, I’m Don King – only in America!”

– Don Wade

 

 

Wacha, Piscotty headline Cardinals Caravan Jan. 15

National League All-Star pitcher Michael Wacha and Stephen Piscotty, the 2015 Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year, will be among the players coming to AutoZone Park for the Friday, Jan. 15, Cardinals Caravan.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the event slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the newly renovated Home Plate Club. St. Louis Cardinals alumni and Memphis fan favorites Stubby Clapp and Bo Hart, along with former pitcher Jason Simontacchi and top prospects Patrick Wisdom and Carson Kelly, also will join the Caravan.

As in previous years, the Cardinals will implement an autograph ticket system. The first 400 children (ages 15 and under) through the door on the night of the event will receive a free autograph ticket which guarantees one autograph from each current and former player. Due to high demand, autographs will only be available for children ages 15 and under.

Admission is free to attend the Cardinals Caravan program, which will offer first-come, first-served seating.

Piscotty enjoyed a breakthrough 2015 season. The 24-year-old outfielder/first baseman batted .305 (71-for-233) with seven home runs and 39 RBI in 63 games for St. Louis, while being a key contributor in the Cardinals’ Central Division title team. The former first-round pick played in a total of 223 games for Memphis over the last two seasons, and represented the Pacific Coast League in the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game.

Wacha was recognized as a National League All-Star and finished 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 30 starts. The right-hander made 15 starts for Memphis in 2013, going 5-3 with a 2.64 ERA That same season, the dominant Wacha represented the Redbirds on the Pacific Coast League Mid-Season All-Star team, where he was named the PCL’s Top Star in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

Clapp was known for doing a backflip while running out to his position at second base when playing with the Redbirds. He was part of the Pacific Coast League Championship with Memphis in 2000, played for the Redbirds from 1999-2002 and Cardinals in 2001. He sits at the top of the Redbirds’ career leaders in walks and triples, while also ranking second in runs scored, and third in games played, at-bats, hits, doubles, extra-base hits, and total bases. Clapp most recently served as hitting coach for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

Hart played parts of four seasons in Memphis from 2003-06 and ranks among franchise career leaders in games played, hits, doubles, total bases, and runs scored. The second baseman also played two seasons for the Cardinals from 2003-04 and was named to the Topps Baseball Major League All-Rookie Team in 2003.

Simontacchi, who appeared for the Redbirds in 2002 and 2004, pitched in parts of three seasons for the Cardinals from 2002-04. He finished ninth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2002, going 11-5 with a 4.02 ERA. Simontacchi currently serves as pitching coach for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals.

Wisdom spent the majority of last season with Double-A Springfield, hitting .237 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, and 61 RBI in 114 games. Following the season, the 24-year-old third baseman played for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League, where he was recognized as one of the league’s Top Prospects and Rising Stars.

Kelly batted .219 with eight homers, 18 doubles, and 51 RBI in 108 games for Advanced-A Palm Beach last season. The backstop also received the 2015 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® as the best defensive catcher in Minor League Baseball.

– Don Wade

Thanks, Alton

It’s easy to get caught up in the trap of letting our civic pride swell when we allow our perception of ourselves to be defined by fans of the city who don’t live here, especially celebrity fans.

That’s not to say, though, that the positive vibes should be ignored altogether.

Take these comments from celebrity chef Alton Brown, as recounted by the folks at Choose 901, for what they are: A thumbs up about one distinct aspect of life in Memphis – the one-of-a-kind food culture here -from someone who’s been clear about his Memphis appreciation before.

“I’ve gotta say, Memphis, Tennessee: probably my number-one food town in the U.S.”

Not as good as my favorite outsider quote about Memphis from last year (from an Esquire piece: “Whoever said, “good things come to those who wait” must have been in Memphis at the time…”) but it’ll do.

Dansette

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