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

 

Spring Training 2017

spring train art  The 3rd Season of Great Lakes Baseball is off and running.  All 12 teams head to Spring Training with their goals.  Mike T.’s Eagles will try and defend their USA pennant and league championship,  AND their mantle of the club with the most wins in league history.    The Architects are always a threat so could this be the year they overhaul Milwaukee and take the USA?  The Sea Gulls definitely had a strong run under new GM Andrew S. but faded at the end.  Oh, yeah, and the team that has been as ice cold as it’s planet temperature, the Neptunes are about to make their real debut this year as they are hands down the most improved team from last year.    Eddie’s T-Birds have had some star players but not the all around supporting cast to make them legit, and many of them have headed to greener pastures over the off-season.  New GM Kyle has inherited a team that needs some work in all areas but he did not blink when handed the opportunity to a remake on the TC Bears.  The Bears are team that requires TLC.  No free agent additions, debt, and the 10th ranked minor league system all add up to patience, patience, patience for the new leadership.

In the Canadian League, the Mounties, perhaps tired of being bridesmaid, will look to capture everything this year, but at the same time lost some star power over the winter.  Windsor, under Greg E.  has been quietly putting together a nucleus of a championship caliber squad deal by deal so all eyes on the Vigilantes this season.  Kingston under Kurt P. will attempt to take the next step forward.  They have been pitching strong but it takes some run scoring weapons to overtake the favorites.  The Caribou, lets not forget, do have a championship trophy and are only one year removed from that status.  The Owen Sound Waveriders  will try and reconfigure their club as they did not sign any new players in free agency and are banking on some players stepping up.   The other most improved team in the north of the border league, according to pundits, are the Toronto Maples.  SP Villegegas was their big addition so the landscape will be a bit different in Canada this year.

Let’s see how it plays out.

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.

The 2016 Champs

eagles_0060B6_FF0000_FFFFFF_0060B6_0060B6_FFFFFF_0060B6_FF0000 shrunk  The Milwaukee Eagles, all time Wins leader in the GLBL, have won the 2016 Championship in a closely fought series with the Hamilton Mounties.  Game 7 Box Score:

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Henri Francois was the Series MVP as his 1.26 ERA in handcuffing Mountie bats in most situations.  As a matter of fact July 23, 2016,  is the date that he last took an L in a game he pitched notching 9 Wins in a row.

Congrats to Mike T. for his championship season.  Also, to Alex W., who got about as close as you can get to winning it all.

 

The Most Dominant GLBL Pitcher?

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abstract pitcher                      Henri Francois

Henri Francois, born in Montague, Prince Edward Island, is perhaps one of the more dominating pitchers in what has been dubbed ‘a pitchers league’.  Below are the CAREER categories that Henri leads the GLBL:

ERA: 1.68

Winning Percentage:  80%

Walks/Hits IP:  0.83

Opponents B.Avg:  .194

Opponents OBP:  .226

Opponents OPS:  .501

Wins Above Replacement:  8.8

If you are wondering which direction he is heading (up or down) consider that in the last 38 IP he’s yielded one run, a solo homer to CHI’s Brett Garrett.