Architects engineer a turnaround to capture their 4th

For the fourth consecutive season, and sixth of seven,  the USA has prevailed in GLBL championship series.  The Chicago Architects won their 4th title as a Wild Card against a game Kingston Comet squad that was looking for their third championship ring.

The story behind the Architect season is best described by their own GM, Alex.

On April 26 last season, we were 7 games back of TC (6-13).   We stopped losing ground at that point, at least for a bit, TC, MIL, and even TOL (though that may have been earlier) traded places.   However, by late May, we were down 12 games to TC and 7 games out of 2nd.  While our winning percentage had improved, we had lost ground.

Early June, around June 2nd, we started to turn things around, beating TOL in a series by taking 2 of 3.  MIL beat them in the next series.  Those two series were key, pulling them back to the pack.  A 6-0 run the next week and we had passed Duluth and tied MIL.   However, Milwaukee took two of three in the next series, so by June 15, TC was in command of first by 6 games while MIL, CHI, and TOL were all within a game or so, but MIL held 2nd.

Interestingly, I looked back and saw that I had trade discussions the first week of June (before the 6-0 run) about my relievers, Swaneveld, and Whip Charles.   Luckily, no offers came of that at that point to make me pull the trigger (I was looking for more as I knew that probably meant throwing in the towel).   I even saw a PM to a GM about holding off after my 6-0 run as things had changed.

July 7th, after a sweep of MIL, all three of us (TOL, MIL, CHI) were tied, while TC was 6 games in front.  After a 7 game win streak that ended July 18th, we found ourselves two games ahead of MIL and TOL for the first time in the season. TC maintained a 4 game hold on first.   TC extended their lead over us by beating us in the next series, but we wouldn’t relinquish 2nd place and a 7 game win streak in early August made it a two team race.

We finished within two of TC and the rest is history, but it was definitely a long path back.  And while I was confident I had a good team, it definitely wasn’t a sit and wait situation, iirc.  I benched Swaneveld against RHP to get a better defensive option in (since neither were really hitting), kicked Rowsell from the rotation for Sabin, swapped out my 4th OF (who gets a lot of ABs against all the LHP in the US) and traded for 2B Benincasa to bolster IF defense and hoped he could swing a bat. 

All Star shortstop Daniel Huffman led Chicago in WAR with 4.6

Traverse City earns their first GLBL Championship

The Traverse City Bears making their only their second post-season appearance in team history made the most of the opportunity.  The Bears finished first in the USA, another first for the club.  When Toledo closed out the regular season by besting the Architects in the added game, it set the stage for more dramatics.

The Bears had most observers thinking it would be a short series when they went up three games to none.  But, the Neptunes had were not going to go quietly.  They reeled off three straight wins and led in Game 7 before the never say die Bears rallied to take the USA title.

But, Traverse City only had half the job complete.  They had to face on of strongest teams in recent league history, the Toronto Maples.  The Maples took first place hardly breaking a sweat.  They then discarded the Kingston Comets, a pretty hot team at the time, in four straight.

So, you will forgive the GLBL fans for thinking it was all but over when the Maples took the first two games in Toronto.  Little did anyone know at the time, that an amazing rally was waiting in the wings.  The Bears ripped off four straight W’s clinching in Toronto in game six.

Jim Riordan had a .948 OPS for the Bears in 2032 and was a major contributor to the success of the team.

Holy Toledo

The Neptunes won their second championship, the hard way.  Winners of the Wild Card of the USA, they faced off against the previous years champs, the Chicago Architects who were gunning for their 4th title.   Chicago’s most impressive 100-44 record made them prohibitive favorites.

Despite being 9-15 against the Architects, the Neptunes had a little something to say about who would face the other ‘beast’ coming out of Canada, the Toronto Maples.  Toledo, 90-54 for the third consecutive year, took the series in 6 games and then got ready for the next challenge.

The 96-48 Maples, just 2 years removed from their first and only championship, were the odds on favorite to prevail in the series.  The teams split the regular season series 2-2, but it was Toledo who would for the second time in the post-season defeat a team with a better record.

The Neptunes had 5 LHP in the rotation but it was Dean Floyd (14-3) and Derrill Dougherty (15-8) who did the heavy lifting.

Jesus Sanchez led all batters on the team with a .341 average.

 

 

 

Bill Atteberry inks his name in the record book for second time in GLBL history.

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.

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.