Chicago, back to the Top

 

Were they the best team in 2030?  Some might argue that they were not based on the overall record and the fact that it was Toledo that won the USA League Championship.  But, it might be more important who you are at the end of the season as compared with the rest of it.  Because, it was Chicago who was able to match up against Toledo, a team that specializes in grinding up their opponents on their home field.  That doesn’t happen by accident, it takes a plan.

Alex Wobbema, the brains behind the team, guided his Architects to their third GLBL championship.  The first two belonged to Al Borie who now heads up Alex’s old team, the Hamilton Mounties.  With Wobbema’s championship, his second overall, he becomes the first GM to win in both leagues having accomplished the feat in 2021.

If there was a player who stood out it might just be the one year wonder, Phillipe Janin.  The 29 year old had 7 seasons in Windsor before inking a $13. million dollar one year deal with Chicago.  His 4.7 WAR was a career high.  Janin has since bolted for Kingston, ironically the runner up in the finals.  It will be interesting to see if Phillipe can work his magic back to back.

Kurt Peterson, GM of the Comets, is hoping it’s true.  Prognosticators cite his team as the most improved over the off-season.

Janin tied two other Architect players for the team lead in round trippers with just 13.  He led the club in doubles with 47, Runs with 91, and was second in RBI’s with 83.

 

The GLBL salutes Alex and his Architects for their successful 2030 season.

 

 

The Season of The Maple

  It took 15 years for the Toronto Maples to reach the Great Lakes Baseball League Championship Series, their last and only first place finish was in 2019.  And then, they were brushed aside by the Windsor Vigilantes.  That Toronto team won 80 games and lost 60.  In 2021 and 2022 the Maples reached 81 wins narrowly missing first place in the Canadian League.  But, each time the club failed to advance to the finals.

The year 2029 was the culmination of an improved regular season record for the 4th consecutive year as the Maples finished 91-53 and were never seriously challenged for first place all year long.  The top two teams in the GLBL met for the championship as the Toledo Neptunes were gunning for back to back championships, having won their only title the year before.

Colin Miller (12-3) and and Scott Churchill (18-5) were a highly effective one, two punch most of the season.  Miller, acquired from the perennially strong pitching Kingston franchise was outstanding at keeping the ball in the park as his .2 HR/G average led the league.  He didn’t stop there, as his 1.2 BB/G led the league in that department.  Churchill’s 2.36 ERA was league best as was his 18 win total.

If we’re looking for one two punches on offense, no one could be faulted for selecting two of their outfielders, Whip Charles and Clyde Benson.  Whip had a 7.3 WAR and Benson finished at 7.1.  Of course, the two didn’t carry the offensive load by themselves as Serge Thibault (.923 OPS) was a huge force in the line up.  Nelson Wooten struck out 103 times but then he batted in a team leading 109 RBI’s.  Before the editor gets a hold of this paragraph let me just amend that one/two punch to the one through 4 knockout blow.  This team crushed opposing pitchers.

The final series saw a game Toledo squad come up short as the Maples, in 6 games, claimed their first championship rewarding GM Martin Abrams for his due patience and diligence with the trophy.

Neptunes – Kings of the GLBL in 2028

When you have a team with the best starting pitchers, relievers, batting average, and defense, it’s hard to be surprised when they finish with the best overall record (92-52), followed by a relatively easy post-season series against the Sea Gulls and, finally, a very talented Thunder Bay team, seeking their 4th championship in the GLBL.

But, in the end, it was the Toledo Neptune’s walking away with their first championship in a league that now has 14 seasons to its history.  For William Atteberry, original GM of the Toledo franchise, it was a sweet culmination of putting the right pieces in place and parlaying it into a championship for the USA League, its second in a row.

How appropriate that the god of the sea is the reigning champ in a league that is bound by the Great Lake waters.  Hail to the Neptunes!

 

Detroit Rookie SP No Hits the Gulls – and LOSES!

Story by Martin Abresch June 2, 2028

In his major league debut, Detroit starter Dan Pollard tosses eight no-hit innings. His reward? His first major league loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without getting a hit, the Duluth Gulls manufacture two runs. Meanwhile, Duluth’s pitching shuts out the Detroit Thunderbirds. Duluth beats Detroit, 2-0.

Detroit recently traded starter Ronnie Taylor to Milwaukee, opening up a spot in their rotation. Pollard, age 25, was brought up to take his spot and eat innings.

“His performance was something we never quite saw ever happening,” said Detroit General Manager Eddie Komrska after the game, “To be honest, when we traded Taylor we held a roshambo contest with our minor league pitchers, and apparently he’s the best of the best.”

Facing the defending champions, Pollard strikes out the first two hitters he faces and retires 11 of the first 12. The one batter to reach base, Bob Pichon, walks and is promptly picked off.

The Gulls score their first run in the fifth. Pollard walks Pichon for the second time, then hits Barry Brown with a pitch. A ground out advances Pichon to third. Juan Ibarra hits a deep fly ball, and Pichon tags up and scores without a throw.

Pollard then retires the next 10 batters.

“Pollard pitched an incredible game,” said Duluth General Manager Andrew Sather, “He kept our hitters off balance. To have the type of game he did really speaks to his potential.”

Unfortunately for Pollard, Duluth ace Jorge Valdéz pitches one of the best games of his career. Valdéz (8-1) walks none and allows just two hits over 8 1/3 innings of work. He strikes out a career-high 13 batters. His previous career high of 12 came nearly a year ago, on July 16, 2027, against the Toledo Neptunes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Valdez has always had the stuff to be an ace,” said Sather, “But he had never truly been consistent to be labeled as an ace. Pitching as well as he did today, maybe he has turned the corner. No doubt this was one of his better games.”

Two T-Birds reach base via errors by Duluth second baseman—and two-time Flashing Leather Award winner—Harvey Ormon. Both Detroit hits are are singles off the bat of Andy Blatchford—the only player on either team to get a hit today. The seventh inning, when Justin Henry reaches base on an error and Blatchford singles, is the only time where a T-Bird reaches second base.

With the score 1-0, Pollard comes out to pitch the ninth. He walks the leadoff hitter—the opposing pitcher Valdéz. With the game still winnable and Pollard having thrown 114 pitches, the Detroit manager makes the tough call and pulls him from the game, despite the no-hit bid.

John Cline comes in to relieve. A sacrifice bunt moves Valdéz to second. A ground out moves him to third. The would-be third out—a ground ball to second baseman Andy Blatchford—is bobbled, allowing Valdéz to score the second run of the game. Coincidentally, it’s Ormon, the man with two errors on the night, who hits the ground ball that Blatchford bobbles.

Cline gets the next batter, Pichon, to fly out, completing the combined no-hitter.

Valdéz comes out to pitch the bottom of the ninth, retires the first batter, then gets pulled for Christian Cassell, who records his second save of the year.

After the final out, the crowd in Thunderbirds Ballpark was silent and seemed stunned. The loss stung, but they knew that they had seen something very special. Some fans made for the exit. On the field, Pollard shook hands then made his way for the tunnel and the clubhouse. Some fans stuck around and started chanting Pollard’s name. The chants grew louder and louder. Exiting fans stopped, turned around, and joined in.

Word reached Pollard after a minute or two of chanting, and he came back out and tipped his hat to the remaining crowd, who cheered loudly.

“That meant a lot to me,” said Pollard after the game, “I’m going to remember that for a long, long time.”

Comets Soar, Again

The Kingston Comets were the perennial second division team from 2015 to 2022. They managed but a single winning record, their second year in the league.  But, in 2023, they took the league by surprise streaking to an 85-69 season on their way to GLBL Championship #1.

Since that glorious 23 season,  they have won 80+ games every year.  In 2026, they finished with 86 wins, their highest total to date.  A seemingly bottomless pit of arms was too much for the USA Champs, as Kingston cruised to the title in six games.

What defines the Comets?  Pitching.  Here are the cast that made Championship #2 possible.

The Starters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Relievers

The First to Three

The irrepressible Yogi Berra said it best.  “Deja vu all over, again.”

The Thunder Bay Caribou won their division in 2025, again.

They advanced to the Finals, again.

They played the powerful Detroit Thunderbirds, again.

Finally, they won the series, four games to two…..again.

For Rob Larmer, it was his second time to the podium to collect his GLBL ring.  But, it was the third time the Caribou won the Championship, now more than any other franchise in the 11 year history of the league.

The Electric Thunder Bay Caribou

It was a wild post-season for the wild card team from the ‘north country’.  The team was ready to follow up their inaugural championship season with a second banner, this time under the direction of GM Rob Larmer.

The Caribou opened the playoffs on the road and promptly lost 4-2 to the Hamilton Mounties (95-49).  The Mounties, nor the league, had no idea that win #96 would be the last one for 2024 as Thunder Bay quickly assumed control of the series and breezed to a 4-1 LCS win.  They would face the Detroit T-Birds and their juggernaut offensive in the Championship Series.

Opening on the road they, again, lost the opener by the score of 6-2.  They held a 3-1 lead in game two before Detroit exploded for 5 runs in the final two at bats to win it, 6-5.

Game 3 was the key to the series for both teams.  The game lasted 6 hours and 4 minutes before a winner surfaced in the 17th inning.  Detroit was efficient against Thunder Bay pitching leaving only 4 men on base.  The Caribou let opportunity after opportunity to win at home slip away, often times with runners on 3rd base and 0 outs.

Finally, Fred Darrach, 0 for 8 with 5 LOB, drilled a single to score Cooper Corrigan and the Caribou had their first win of the series.

 

 

Again, none of us had an inkling that the T-Birds would not win another contest as Thunder Bay won the next 3 games clinching in Detroit, the only road win of the series as the Caribou won all three October affairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larmer is not your ordinary GM as he maintains a second career when not tending to the demands of the ball club.  He’s a Canadian dairy farmer who names his cows.  Congrats to Rob on his 2024 season!

A League Taken by Surprise

No one saw it coming.  Nine seasons in the league, and exactly ONE winning record, and that was eight years ago.  The beleaguered baseball team from Kingston Ontario, with the 516-616 record was a team off everyone’s radar.  With not a single playoff appearance in the history of the franchise, Kurt Peterson, a.k.a. KP, was seven years into trying to solve the puzzle.  Coming off a year where the team batting average was a paltry .235, where was the offense going to come from?  Journeyman Jim (Copeland), a Comet career leader in RBI’s with 510,  smashed 34 dingers in 2021, but tailed off to just 22 in 2022.  He ended up hitting .221 (his highest batting average in the last 3 years), but he also stroked 46 home runs and batted in 102 runs.

 

SSecond year SS, Jordan Cannell, upped his game ripping 27 big flies while matching Copeland’s 102 runs batted in total.  Just 11 miscues all year long and an impressive +5.9 ZR, Jordan was the pitchers ‘best friend’.

Five time All Star, and the spark plug of the team, Nabhan ‘Wacky’ Ubadah hit .329 for the season and .340 in the post-season, before becoming injured in the clinching 6th game of the Championship Series.  Nabhan is one of those rare players who walks more than strikes out, 63/60.  He was the Canadian League Championship MVP and a Silver Slugger award winner.

 Credit the gutsy move at deadline time by KP, who did not flinch when handing over the goods to acquire Adrian Eacott from the Maples.  He was 3-2 during the last month of the season for the Comets, but more importantly 3-2/ 1.61 ERA in the post-season.  In another starring role, it was Ross Singleton who really saved his best for last.  The 34 year old pitcher, in his first post-season, put together a masterful 2-0/ 1.21 ERA, line, leading the team at crunch time.

  It’s worth mentioning Closer, Ken Lau, was tattooed in the post-season (1-2/ 2 BS) but it was this guy who saved 44 games during the regular season while posting a 1.27 ERA.  Toss in 7 wins and he played a part in 51 of the 85 Kingston wins.  And, while erratic, he still saved 5 games in the playoffs.

Congratulations to the 2023 Great Lakes Baseball League Champion Kingston Comets!  Man, what a year.

Waveriders over the top

 

The Owen Sound Waveriders have won their first GLBL Championship as they defeated the Toledo Neptunes in a very spirited and competitive six game set.  The 85 wins in the regular season were a franchise high for Owen Sound.  One of the stars now, and looking into the future, is Wilbert ‘Sleepy’ LeGrow.  He plays all the outfield positions and first base and mashed his way to an impressive .844 OPS over the course of the season.  The recipient of the Silver Slugger Award is now a two time all star, at the young age of 25.

On the mound the trio of Bonnefoy, O’Brien, and Wilson amassed a total of 38 wins.  Randy Costello notched 41 saves his lowest total in the last three years.  Up and coming 23 year old Nathan Yeo went 2-4 but gave us a glimpse of his upside with 0.98 WHIP.

Really, no weaknesses on this club as they were first in runs, second in runs against, and second in Team D in the Canadian League.