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Quite the Championship Series

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The Duluth Sea Gulls won their first ever USA Championship with an 82-62 record than rallied from 0-2 to finally overtake back to back GLBL Champs, the Chicago Architects in a tight 7 game series for the rights to represent the USA League Having scored 563 runs they had offense enough to get the job done, but would the pitching hold up?

From the Canadian League the Mounties steam rolled the Owen Sound Waveriders, winners of the most games in the GLBL in 2020, by surprising outscoring them 27-12 in the four game sweep.  Only Chicago of the USA League has notched more W’s than Hamilton but still the Mounties had not one a championship in the brief 6 year history of the league.

When Duluth won the first 3 games of the series it looked pretty much over as scores of  2-1, 4-1, and 3-1 didn’t make much of a case for a Hamilton miracle and many thought Tate Cosby’s 1-0 shutout in game 4 was only a stall for what surely would be a Duluth championship.

Eyebrows were raised when Hamilton won Game 5 by a 5-2 score.  And, when Dave Teague hit his 2nd homer of the post-season in a 4-1 win at Duluth many wondered if the GLBL was not primed for yet another 0-3 deficit on way to a championship.

In Game 7 Norm Blooms 2 run single helped the Mounties cling to a 2-1 league.  But, when Mr. Teague launched a solo shot in the top of the 9th it really did appear that the Mounties were destined to win their first championship.

Randy Costello was called on to close it out for Hamilton but when the first two batters singled you could feel the hope swell in Sea Gull Ball Park as it now seemed entirely possible that Duluth might come back.  Danton flew out bringing on pinch hitter Karl Swerdlove who ripped a pitch into the gap and just like that 2 runs scored and the game was tied, 3-3.  Blashill saved the Mounties from a 9th inning walk off but having lost the lead so late in the game could they rally, again?

In the bottom of the 11th Jim Danton doubled with 1 out putting runners on second and third with one out.  After the intentional walk Jerry Gauthier a .207 hitter during the year, but a .308 one in the post-season grounded a ball past 3rd base and into left field giving the Sea Gulls the 4-3 win.

The Duluth Sea Gulls are the 2020 Champs!

 

2020 Vision

The 2020 Season is about to celebrate Opening Day.

Spring Training has been completed and the results are in.  But, do they actually mean anything?  There may be more questions than answers right now.  Let’s take a peek into Season #6 of the Great Lakes Baseball League and preview some of the anticipated action.

Question #1:  Will the Chicago Architects three peat?

If the spring results are a harbinger of things to come then it’s hoist the pennant flag time in the windy city as Chicago put up an impressive 13-5 record.  Twenty three year old Jimmy Preston hit .342 and dazzled the team with his speed and defense.  Thirty year old Chris Anderson was used primarily in relief last year  turned in three perfect 4 inning stints this spring not allowing any runs and yielding but 6 hits.   With Cardy and Northeast the team has ‘nasty’ starting pitching and look out for 25 year old Foster Broun who did not allow a run in his 3 starts in spring to make things even more miserable for opposing batters.  With a full season under his belt this kid is getting stronger and once he masters the change up he will spell trouble for opposing hitters.  Actually, he is already trouble.

 Runner up MVP in the American League Lake Superior Award,  C Bill Durand

Question #2:  Will Windsor take the final step and win a championship?

In their history the worst record they have posted is 69-71.  Three times they have  been to the post-season including an improbably come back against the Maples in the 2019 first round before giving up a 3-0 lead to Chicago and falling 3-4.  How close can you get?  Jerry Barker has been added but he’s not a high impact guy.  Luca Carlier may be ready to wrestle the catching job from vet Kenny Shaw but either way will production rise from the catching position?  Still, the Vigilantes remain a threat to advance to the Championship Series based on what they bring forward from 2019.

Question #3:  What about that new guy in Owen Sound?

The Waveriders have been the most active team in the off-season inking star power to Owen Sound contract dotted lines in the form of Longchamps, Berger, Alvarez, Trudel, Ralph, and none more significant than Kevin Thomas former mainstay of the Toronto Maples.  With Dave Corbin falling off last year the decision was made to allow him to enter the free agent market and he is now a Duluth Sea Gull.  Ronnie Peyton purportedly has made huge steps forward while playing for the Herons in AAA  as his athleticism could be boost to Owen Sound if not breaking spring training then later in the season. The same could be said for SS Erik Howell.  This is a team to watch moving forward.

 Ronnie Peyton

Question #4:  Can Toronto keep moving forward?

Could a team have been any more on the cusp of a date with the League Championship in 2019 than the Maples?  No need to relive the heartbreak and angst  the Maples move forward and this season without 3b Kevin Thomas.  While Thomas signed for $14M with Owen Sound 3b Roberson signed for $20M with Toronto.  Roberson will mean more big flies than Thomas but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will bring more to the table.  Yet, the Maples are in good hands with Roberson at the hot corner.  His superior range should also help the Maples pitching, too.

Question #5:  Will the additions in Duluth be enough?

Next to Owen Sound the Sea Gulls have been very busy, too, landing Silas Carvalo and Dave Corbin.  Gone are John Freake (no small loss), Bill Starr, and Daniel Pepys.  Key to the pitching staff might be just how well AAA SP Jeff Munson performs as the 24 year old had a fine 2.72 ERA at Green Bay last season.  23 year old Stinson was even better with his 2.31 ERA and throw in 23 year old emerging star Charles Colle and you have the makings of a very revamped Sea Gull squad for 2020.  AA Catcher Jim Danton has a shot at being the team’s catcher this season and probably is the leading candidate to replace Freake.

 Shotgun

Question #6:  They won the inaugural GLBL championship, so what about this years Caribou squad, can they get back to the big dance?

Inaugural champs Thunder Bay quietly improved to 76-64 last season good for 3rd place.  But, they lost a ton of star power in Lefebre, Ramos, Li, and Trudel.  Bringing Derek Savary on board will help but it’s going to take more unless the Caribou can get some WAR from the minor leagues.  Both Corrigan and Harris may need more seasoning in AAA Pointe Pelee.

 Derek Savory

Question #7:  Does the Comets first place spring finish mean anything?

It’s hard to argue that the Comets will not be a better team on the field in 2020.  Coming off their 12-6 spring they have some new pieces in Dennis Picard and Mooney who will help the pitching. This is a team that builds from the inside out (think Cardinals and Dodgers) and we’re close to seeing the likes of SP’s Palma and Estrada along with outfields Graham and Rogers.  23 year old All Star and GG winner Nabhan Ubadah has a full 2 seasons under his belt and is likely to begin building on his consistent 3.9 WAR contribution each of the past two years.  Brown, Torres, and Joyner form a capable outfield so one of the biggest question mark franchises will be interesting to watch.  I can see them going either way.

 Nabhan ‘Wacky’ Ubadah

The GLBL is ready for Opening Day!

2019 Chicago, Chicago

The Chicago Architects were the repeat champs of 2019.  An amazing season.  But, before we get to the post-season let’s take a run down on all the teams and their season.

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Huh, what?  Say it ain’t so?  It so.  It was a long slow decent (95, 87, 85, 76 wins) but what a four year run it was….4/4 playoff years and 2 championships before GM Mike Trigwell made the decision to look ahead.  One tangible working in favor of the Eagles is that they have money to spend.  Down, but not out.  Stephen Lonchamps did his best to keep the team tradition of winning alive as he posted a fine .286/.371/.526 line.  He was at his best in high leverage situations hitting .340.

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It will be a coin flip to see who gets the coveted #1 pick.  But, after years of rotating GM’s the Owen Sound franchise recruited and landed Canadian born and local baseball man David Jones to right the ship.  The beleaguered franchise on the Huron does have the #3 ranked minor league system and three time all star Dave Corbin as it heads into 2020.  But, even Corbin was not immune to the woes of the franchise as he hit below .300 for the time ever (.279).  Lefty Jon Wilson was the most consistent SP for the Waveriders as went 11-10 with a 2.57 ERA.

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Deeeeeeeeetroit won just 59 games with Silas Carvahlo and Richard LeClerc in the line up which seems like impossible given the 5.7 and 7.7 WAR they each bring to the table.  But, pitching and defense are where the team needs help and maybe Chris Farnell can help with the former.  At 26 he accomplished all he could at AAA and with Biliard the Birds might have a decent 1-2-3 punch.  Trites, a four time all star and Lake Ontario Relief Award winner had a sensational year for Detroit amassing a 2.1 WAR in the closer role.  Just 35 hits in 67.1 IP.   They will select 3rd in the draft.

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Kingston had the largest negative run differential (-118) of all the teams yet boasted a 40-30 record at home.  Road woes held the Comets back exemplified by their 20-50 record.  Twenty two year old Nabhan ‘wacky’ Ubadah won a gold glove and earned  all star recognition as his 4.0 WAR tied Ryan Brown, OF, for the club lead.  The Comets are tied with the Sea Gulls for the 4th highest ranking minor league system.  Twenty two year Phil Joyner struggled in 268 PA’s with a .567 OPS while being thrown out 13 out of 28 times stealing but he displayed strong center field skills with a +4.2 ZR.  Alfonso Romero tied for the most wins (11-10).  Ken ‘Cubby’ Lau (24 yrs of age) went 11-12/ 3.91 using predominately a sinker and cutter as his weapons, with the change-up being a work in progress.  Jim Copeland’s 26 dingers led the Comets in the power department.

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34-23 through the first two months had Duluth in the running but come June they changed their tune with a 6-16 month and that set the tone for losing months for the rest of the season save the 14-14 August.  Daniel Pepys 12-7/ 1.74 ERA led the pitchers and 5 time All Star, 2 time GG, 2 Time Lake Superior, and 2016 Lake Erie award winner Jim Nichol .336/.411/.550 with a whopping 9.2 WAR defined offense for Duluth and all this without a supporting cast of bats.  Mark Holland turned in 26 saves to lead the pen.  Chuck Ball stole 23 bags (44 the year before) but he needs to figure out how to get on base more often

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Perennial All-Star Dave Teague (5 times) and winner of numerous other awards .287/.394/.522 turned in another stellar year for Hamilton.  69 BB/ 42 K’s are old school type stats that allowed him to lead the league in OBP.  Geoff Boyd (22 yrs old) made a successful jump from AAA ball demonstrated by his .297/.342/.401 line as he filled the #2 spot in the line up quite nicely.  Collectively Boyd has a +9.6 ZR at his position as he leap frogged from AA to AAA to GLBL Majors.  Two time All Star Stephen Gilbert had unfortunate luck in the decision department (9-11) but his 2.76 ERA speaks to a worthy campaign as he took the ball 28 times in the starting role.  Of course, Tate ‘the Ape’ Crosby was the man on the mound for the Mounties as he won the coveted Lake Michigan POY award for the second time in his career.  His 14-7 record makes him a career 65-39 (two teams).

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29 year old lefty Bill Lehman re-established himself as the staff ace after an off year in 2018 and led the Neptunes with 13-8/ 2.85 ERA.  Lehman tossed 2 CG’s and fanned 133 batters with 34 walks.  It might surprise some to that the Neptunes were a huge offensive force.  toledo stats

Harry Norman stroked 19 homers, cather Homer Gilbert batted in 64 and posted a 5.8 WAR, and it was INF Cal McNiven who was an on base machine as his .427 OBP demonstrates.  Corner OF’s Lee and Cross hit .287 and .284 respectively.  And, of course, infamous Ryan Johnson of the consecutive save streak record finished 3rd in the Reliever of the Year Award.  Ryan finished with 29 Saves for the season.

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Close to the post-season, but two games out of the wild card for the home run champs of the Canadian League with 104.  Thirty one year old RHP  Vasa Trevino led the Caribou with 21 dingers but received support from Li and Wheaton who tallied 17 apiece.  Dale O’Brien was the clear ace of the staff as he posted a 17-4 record with a 2.03 ERA.  Dale was twice POM in 2019 and was voted to the All-Star team.  Curiously, RHB batted .234 vs LHB  who hit just .181.  In the pen it was a brilliant season for Steven Foster who finished 3rd in ROY voting as his 39 Saves and 2.07 ERA earned him a contract extension for 2020.

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Big year for Rick Bradley 19-5 who missed winning the POY Award in the Canadian League by a whisker.  The 35 year old pitcher posted a 1.86 ERA and netted a 4.5 WAR for the season.  Forest Furlong flew under the radar but his 0.91 ERA out of the pen was huge given he logged 59.2 innings while winning 4, saving 4, and losing 0.  Just 24 years of age young Harry O’Connell earned a bevy of awards and accolades.

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The Bears defied their stats as they actually scored 9 less runs than they gave up but going 30-12 in one run games goes a long way towards righting some wrongs.  But, it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors as William ‘Deranged’ Anderson had an incredible year going 14-8/ 1.80 while offering  up 27 QS out of 30 attempts.  All Star and winner of the Lake Ontario Relief Award Kurt Peddle  saved 44 games.  Journeyman and 34 year old vet Kevin Boivin had his best year ever .304/.406/.573 earning him a 4.3 WAR.  Enigma, Martin Ortiz only batted .185 but smacked 21 homers and 19 doubles.

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The Maples have increased their win total every year of their existence and for 2019 that was good enough for first place by 2 games over Windsor.  Jean Villain pitched a no hitter against Windsor this year while going 14-13 with a 2.75 ERA.  All Star and 3rd placer in the POY Award Henri Francois had a 1.88 ERA,  while Villegas went 13-8, and Geddes 12-5.  This team can pitch!  All Star and 3rd place finisher in the Lake Superior Player Award Stephen Gilbert had a 5.7 WAR.  Hilton Madore batted .302 and Kevin Thomas .291.

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The defending champs won the most games and cruised to a title in the USA League.  Jean Cheron, 2nd in POY voting, went 17-7 with a 1.94 ERA.  Carl Cardny went 13-8 and Nathan Ball saved 32 in the pen.  Bill Durand finished 2nd in a close vote for the Lake Superior Award as his 1.001 OPS and 8.8 WAR were career highs, although it should be noted he netted 8.7 WAR’s the two previous seasons.  Cyril LeClerc smashed 27 homers and batted in 85.

THE PLAYOFF TEAMS AND THEIR SERIES

CANADIAN PLAYOFF

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This was a series that saw the Vigilantes rally from being down 1-3 to take the series and break the hearts of the Toronto faithful.  Little did we know that an even grander comeback would take place before the end of the post-season.

USA PLAYOFF

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This one was pretty much all Chicago as they won in 5 games.  But, great season for TC!

GLBL CHAMPIONSHIP

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The Vigilantes shocked the world when they won the first two games in Chicago and then the opener in Windsor.  Down 0-3, the Architects did what no other team has done in GLBL history as they rallied to win 4 straight games and claim their second championship in a row.  Back to Back, Chicago, Chicago!

 

 

 

2019 Season Preview Part One- Martin Abresch

Detroit Thunderbirds

2018: 57-83, 6th place
Detroit was the worst team in baseball last season. They could be even worse this season. There is hope on the horizon as Detroit has some top talent in their minor league system.
The Thunderbirds pitching staff was the worst in the United States last season. In free agency this off-season they lost Rich Bradley (signed by Windsor), Jimmy Mack (signed by Hamilton), and Jim Manuel (signed by Toronto). What’s left is a Triple-A staff with lights-out closer in Wilford Trites. Will last year’s Relief Award winner get any save chances at all?
The T-Bird lineup still features Silas Carvalho, baseball’s best hitter for average and biggest stolen base threat. But it’s the emergence of young Richard Leclerc that should really get fans excited. Acquired from Traverse City in the William Anderson trade, Leclerc was the third overall pick in the 2017 draft. Despite being only 21 last season, Leclerc hit .318/.351/.429 in 245 plate appearances.
Leclerc represents the first young talent to emerge from Detroit’s loaded system. Talents like shortstop Ray Blue are just around the corner. Detroit’s present might look bleak, but the future looks bright indeed.
Hamilton Mounties
2018: 70-70, 3rd place
Hamilton is always competitive, but being competitive isn’t enough. The Mounties want a championship, and they’re doing everything that they can to bring one home.
In 2016, Hamilton lost a hard-fought, seven game Championship Series to Milwaukee, but they had good reason to expect future playoff opportunities. In that light, 2017 and 2018 have been especially disappointing, both years bringing third place finishes. With Dave Teague (29), Roosevelt Gilbert (31), and Tate Crosby (31) in their prime, Hamilton cannot afford to waste time.
This off-season, Hamilton management pushed the payroll to the limit. Their $154 million payroll is $30 million higher than the next highest payroll. They signed numerous players to patch holes, and they come into the season with one of the deepest teams in baseball.
Hamilton has five solid starters, but four of the five underperformed in 2018 and set career lows in WAR: Roosevelt Gilbert, Tate Crosby, Richard Bel, and Gilles Thomas. The sole bright spot was the emergence of Charles Hammond as force. Were those performances a fluke, or were they the beginning of a trend? One good thing: the starters will not need to pitch deep into games because the bullpen has been overhauled. Closer Randy Costello will be joined by free agency signings Eric Blashill (Milwaukee’s closer last season), Daryl Ford (who struck out 103 batters in 88 innings for Duluth last season), Drew Paul, and Jimmy Mack (Hamilton’s closer in 2015-16). No other team in baseball has the sheer number of quality arms that Hamilton has.
The Mountie offense still revolves around Dave Teague and Paul Trent. Teague is the best hitter in the game: he’s the only player to post a 1.000+ OPS. Trent is the all-time home-run king. Free agent acquisition Dave Roberts should add some punch to the lineup, and several young players look ready to step up and help shoulder the run-scoring load, especially Pete Newell (24) and Jorge Fernández (25). There is depth on the bench. This offense has the potential to be very dangerous, but it also looks to be one Teague injury away from average.
There is no doubt that Hamilton will once again be competitive this year, but will this be the year in which things fall into place and they bring home their first championship? It could be.
Thunder Bay Caribou
2018: 65-75, 5th place
Thunder Bay has been an up-and-down team, going to the playoffs in odd-numbered years and finishing below .500 in even-numbered years. If history is any guide, they should finish 2019 in second place and represent Canada in the Championship Series.
The Caribou look to have a solid rotation. Veterans Ron Gorman and Dale O’Brien provide a strong one-two punch, but 25-year-old phenom Randy Carey might end the season as the ace. Add in a full season of Stephen Caldwell and the Caribou could have four All-Star quality starters. The bullpen has some good arms in Steve Foster, Jeff JacobsSébastien Moreau, and Didier Picot. There is a lot of quality on this pitching staff. If things go right or if they add another elite arm (or two), they could have the best staff in Canada.
The Caribou offense was dealt a huge blow when third baseman Mark Hunt was injured in spring training. He will miss the season, and the Caribou will miss his bat sorely. It’s too bad, because the Caribou had the makings of an exciting lineup.
In my estimate, Thunder Bay’s lineup is the most difficult to predict. It looks to feature several young players with the potential to break out: second baseman Jack Wheaton (25) looks to be on the cusp of stardom, Fred Darrach (21) is both extremely young and extremely talented, and Brent Harris (24) is looking to improve on a respectable rookie campaign. Veteran Vasa Trevino has a good bat that sometimes turns into a great bat. Veteran Chris Jeffries followed up an amazing 2016 (.278/.358/.483) with a horrid 2017 (.192/.267/.295) and a good 2018 (.259/.337/.386). Which Chris Jeffries will show up this season? At least shortstop Wilber Trudel and center-fielder John Hicken are known quantities: both have quietly provided roughly league-average offense while playing good defense at key positions, making each of them good for about 3.0 to 4.0 WAR per year.
So here is the question. Can a team go 65-75, add no new significant players in the off-season, and lose one of its best hitters to injury—can such a team reasonably hope to make a dramatic improvement and compete for the playoffs? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. If young players like Carey, Wheaton, and Darrach emerge—if players like Caldwell and Jeffries play to their potential—if management makes a savvy mid-season move or two—if things go well then, yes, these Caribou can compete with any team in Canada.
And it’s an odd-numbered year. The fates are with them.
Traverse City Bears
2018: 65-75, 5th place
Traverse City has been a consistently mediocre team, but the consistent results disguise some large changes to the team. Take a look at this:
year  W  L  payroll
2016 66-74 $147 mil
2017 67-73  $63 mil
2018 65-75  $44 mil
The previous general manager left the organization with a large payroll and huge debts. His replacement has managed to slash the payroll and get the team’s finances back in the black—and he did this without any drop in performance! With the team now back on solid financial ground, the Bears appear ready to make a move up the standings.
The lineup is a bit of a hodge-podge. Veteran slugger Kevin Boivin returns to Traverse City to anchor the lineup. Shortstop Zi-cheng Chang is only 21, but he has superstar potential. Martín Ortíz is coming into his prime years: with his blazing speed, he covers center field as well as anyone in baseball. Off-season acquisitions Junior Reeves and Keith Beaumont are solid, veteran bats. There are some gaping holes in the lineup (catcher, second base, third base) so the veteran bats will need to produce.
With William Anderson and Scott Moss, the Bears have a pair of starters as good as any team. Dave McAleer should be solid in the #3 role, and Kurt Peddle and Kade Goudie are good bullpen arms. The problem for the Bears is that the rest of the staff is mediocre at best.
Traverse City doesn’t yet look ready to compete for a playoff spot. Both the lineup and pitching staff have large holes than need to be plugged. But they do look like a team on the way up.

The Intentional Walk – Excerpts from a Beat Writer

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May 12: Thunder Bay 3  Hamilton 4

The Mounties win the game in the 14th. More importantly, *justice—honest-to-god righteous, universal karma—is delivered*. You see, all right-thinking people abhor the intentional walk. Is it necessary. Yes, I suppose it is. But it isn’t sporting. Every baseball fan wishes, in his or her heart, that the baseball gods would reach down from the heavens and smite down each team that walks a player intentionally.

In the 14th, Kevin Boivin earns an honest walks. A sac bunt advances him to second. And that’s when Thunder Bay intentionally walks Garry Batchelor. The pitcher then balks, putting runners on second and third with one out. So Thunder Bay intentionally walks Jorge Fernández. Two intentional walks, both perfectly reasonable, of course. Mike John comes to bat next. The poor Caribou pitcher, having forgotten what it was to throw a strike, walks John on four pitches. Without a hit, the Mounties score a run and win the game.

Make no mistake, my friends, the baseball gods spoke.

May 13: Traverse City 2, Detroit 3*

Oh ye of little faith! In the bottom of the 11th, Detroit’s Tim Spaulding singles. A wild pitch moves him to second so Traverse City blasphemes against the baseball gods by intentionally walking Ross Knapp. Jean-Pierre Gauthier’s fielder’s choice puts runners on the corners, and Gauthier promptly steals second. With runners on second and third and one out, Traverse City again blasphemes and intentionally walks Mark McAskill, Denis Delmas comes to the plate, and—dear reader, you already know what punishment the gods inflicted—the Traverse City pitcher walks him on four pitches.

-M.A.

Chicago in 2018?

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$26M  – Cyril Leclerc;   $10.8M  – Ivan Davis;  $2.25M  – Grant Myers;  $13.25  – Nathan Ball*

Chicago is spending $.  A Starting Pitcher, A pair of Relievers, and a big bopper for Right Field.  Aside from the Hamilton Mounties they are the only team that has noticeably improved by way of the free agent market, at least to date.

Chicago broke ground in the GLBL with an 86-54 season good for 2nd place in 2014.  However, they had Milwaukee’s number for whatever reason and found themselves in the Championship Series against Thunder Bay.  The Architects came back in 2015 and won another playoff berth this time with an 80-60 record, again good for 2nd place.  This time the Eagles were flying even higher so Chicago’s season ended after the LCS.

To the surprise of many they slipped to 59-81 in 2017 and finished in fifth place which often happens when your batting average plummets and your ERA rises precipitously.  Having tasted the post-season twice the Architects appear hungry to get back into the mix in 2018 and they have the receipts to prove it.

With 24 year old 2nd baseman Joe Romanov ready to graduate to the major league level Chicago will be adding yet another new player to the mix.  A good fielder and hitter he will be a welcome addition to the Windy City baseball dreams.

So, new players with some healthy price tags.  Will it be money wisely spent?  We’re about to find out as S.T. is just around the corner.

 

*Contract amounts are for total years.

 

 

Repeat!!

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For the second year in a row the Milwaukee Eagles are the Great Lakes Baseball League Chanmpions.  The Eagles went 85-65 and outscored their opponents by a league leading 160 runs.  The 7 game series went the distance with the very game Thunder Bay Caribou taking it right to the last inning before falling to Henri Francois in a 5-0 shutout at The Nest.

thunder_bay_caribou shrunk   Thunder Bay went 75-65 on the season and also had a Canadian league leading +96 runs over opponents, despite being the wild card entry.

Who will be the first repeat Champion of GLBL?

thunder_bay_caribou shrunk       75-65  2nd place WC                           eagles_0060B6_FF0000_FFFFFF_0060B6_0060B6_FFFFFF_0060B6_FF0000 shrunk  85-55 record, first place

Starting Pitching

  Dale O’brien  16-11/2.26 ERA         Henri Francois  16-5/ 2.20 ERA

 Laurent Antoine 9-11/3.48 ERA      Matt Jacobs 16-8/ 2.43 ERA

Closer

 Jeff Jacbos 30 Sv/3.06 ERA            Jim Manual 19 Sv/ 2.07 ERA

Catching

 Karim Berger 20 HR’s; .770 OPS             Steven Rafuse  .639 OPS

First Base

 Mike McAndrew  .722 OPS                     Kevin Boivin  .841 OPS

2nd Base

 Jesse Stannard .720 OPS                  Denny Townsend  .935 OPS

3rd Base

 Mark Hunt .682 OPS                        Fu-Chi Lee  .818 OPS

Shortstop

 Wilbur Trudel  .741 OPS               Bill Leslie  .679 OPS

LF

 Andres Torres  .805 OPS              Jeff Hart  .702 OPS

CF

  John Hicken .597 OPS                Freddy Beckwith .679 OPS

RF

 Vasa Trevino  .678 OPS               Stephen Longchamps  .893 OPS

 

Opening Day Short Story

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What defines a holiday?  Many are based on calendar events, such as New Years Day, while still others have associations with religious events such as Christmas.  Yet some of us, like me, tend to stretch the boundaries a bit in another direction that will allow for inclusion of one of the most important days of the year… Opening Day, Major League Baseball.

That’s right, and it’s a shame that schools and banks don’t close for this hallowed event, as who among us doesn’t get some level of thrill from that classic rite of spring, when your home team takes the field with hopes eternally high; the sweet smell of fresh  mown lawn wafting around you daring to awaken you from your winter slumber.  The crisp white uniforms of the   players, the well groomed infield and the gigantic lighted scoreboard all combine to carve an indelible euphoric impression in the mind of every baseball aficionado.

It’s amazing, given my complete fascination with anything baseball, that in all my years I have attended only one opening day baseball game.  Oh, I have all the usual excuses… I can’t get off work, I won’t be able to get good seats, there isn’t anyone I can go to the game with, blah, blah, blah.  But not all is lost; I do have a single, solitary, Opening Day attendance  that I can attach to my baseball resume.

The year was 1958. I remember that the Detroit Tigers were playing the Cleveland Indians in old Tiger Stadium, which at the time was named Briggs Stadium.  My father, who had never taken me to a game before (or since), was my companion as Al Kaline and company played in front of a sold out ball park while trying to get the Tigers off on a winning note.

With 46,598 fans in the old ball park I saw a rare baseball play I would never, ever, see again, in spite of the fact that I have watched thousands of games since that Friday, April 18th, 1958.

At bat for the Tigers was their pitcher who, as pitchers often do, was bunting the baseball attempting to make a sacrifice play.  The Indians short-stop fielded the ball and threw wild to first base, allowing the Tiger batter to round first and head to second.  At that point the Indians first baseman, Rocky Colavito, fielded the errant throw and attempted to throw out the advancing Tiger.  His arm proved no better than the short-stop’s and his throw sailed past the extended 2nd baseman’s glove.

As the ball rolled into the outfield, the surprised Tiger runner got up and headed to third base, sliding into the bag ahead of what would be yet a third errant throw, this time by the center-fielder Gary Geiger.  The surprised and winded Tiger pitcher got up, saw his opportunity and rumbled into home plate, scoring a run.  I can remember thinking

a homerun on a bunt, a homerun on a bunt!’

The following Monday I told all my friends at school about ‘the homerun on a bunt’.  Yep, I saw it.  Me and my dad saw this freak of nature… ‘the home run on a bunt’.   It made me feel special that I witnessed such a momentous occasion.

Of course, baseball has a protocol regarding the scoring of batted balls, and in this case they would assign 3 errors to the Cleveland Indians on those plays, which negated the assignment of a hit, yet this fact did not even slightly deter my claim of having seen a ‘homerun on a bunt’.

My beloved Tigers lost the game 7 to 5, that much I remember for sure.  An interesting note to this story is that for 52 years I remembered Phil Regan as the Tiger pitcher who got the  ‘home run on a bunt’, but when I looked it up on a Baseball-Reference site the other day I realized it was not Phil Regan at all.  It was a player I’d never heard of, by the name of Tom Morgan.

That discovery was initially disappointing to me, as I’ve been telling this story for, as you know by now, 52 years, stating the Phil Regan had hit a homerun on a bunt.  Interestingly, the disappointment was only fleeting as I read on to learn that Morgan had a nickname; his nickname was Plowboy.  I’m thinking that’s a pretty unusual nickname, Plowboy.  Tom Plowboy Morgan, I say to myself.  It takes but a few seconds and I know I can live with this.

So now, when I begin the story, I start out with, “Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I saw Tom Plowboy Morgan hit a homerun on a bunt?”

Steve Meyers, 2011

 

The #1 Pick…

…selected by the Toledo Neptunes is Todd ‘Rusty’ Bonnaud

Todd  Hailing from St. Catherines, Ontario  Bonnaud will be the ‘property’ of the Neptunes, at least into the foreseeable future. The 6′ 2″ 200 LB. twenty one year old has the potential to be a Starting Pitcher who commands three pitches including a cutter that tops out between 93-95 mph.  With the late movement on his pitches ground ball outs are to be expected.

This collegian from British Columbia University in Vancouver logged 113 innings in 2016 striking out 170 while walking just 24.  Translated to 9 IP that’s 13.5/1.9.  Gaudy numbers for a guy that won 11 and lost just 1.  Described by his college coach as  a’baseball rat’ who is the first one on the field and last one off,  it may not be long before the Great Lakes area gets to see this young phenom in action.