Wednesday, August 31, 2011

L.I. Ducks ~ Caught in a Maelstrom

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE




LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  The First Eleven Days of the Post Mike Loree Era Have Been Worrisome...At Best.

Long Island's pitching dilemma has now taken a very visible toll on the Ducks.  The Ducks no longer enjoy the lofty perch they've held for quite some time up in the .700 winning percentile.   Two other teams (Bridgeport and York) have joined them in the sixty win bracket, where for so long this season, the Ducks remained far ahead of the pack.


Hoping now, Mother Nature could have interceded a little longer and delayed this tail-spin the Ducks find themselves in, they couldn't avoid getting swept by the Somerset Patriots.  Before tonight, those last three losses in a row complimented a stretch where they lost eight of their last eleven games since losing Mike Loree to the Pirates organization.


Then came tonight.  On this Wednesday night, The Ducks started a road series against the York Revolution.  Ruddy Lugo took another turn on the mound, and promptly suffered his worst outing of the season; and perhaps the worst start to a game for the Ducks all year long.  It most probably ranks up there in all-time bad starts in Long Island history.  Before inducing the Revs into three outs, he walked two batters; gave up nine hits; and surrendered nine earned runs in the first inning of play.  The Ducks pitching gave up 21 hits in all.


The offense stepped in to make a game of it.  But the night ended in a 14-9 final.


In Tuesday's double-header, Mark Diapoules only lasted 4.1 innings, in a decent effort at best; as the Ducks lost 2-0 to Somerset in game one.  The Ducks failed new spot starter Bob Zimmermann who pitched a very good game.  But they dropped game two, 3-2, on their second offensive disappearance for the day.  On Monday, Valerio De Los Santos pitched five innings and gave up three earned runs in a 7-2 loss.  These are pedestrian numbers.  But they represent the absolute best the Ducks can do right now.


So just to update the worsening news, the Ducks are now losers of nine of their last twelve games.  It's official..;  The Ducks are now caught in a maelstrom.




Mike.BTB

N.Y. Yankees ~ Bombers Win Game; If Nothing Else

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY





 
TONIGHT

new york YANKEES
SP - Phil Hughes
vs.
BOSTON RED SOX
SP - Josh Beckett


From
YAWKEY WAY




new york YANKEES:  Baseball; Head Games; and Cracker Jacks.

It wouldn't have been a Yankees/Red Sox game without a little drama; now would it?  And some-where in all that drama last night, there were lessons to be learned; messages to be sent; and realizations that need to be faced.


How many of last night's batters (4) were actually hit by pitches on purpose?  Here's the answer.  Who cares!  But let's talk about the one everyone is buzzing about today; Francisco Cervelli getting hit by John Lackey.


For his youthful; if not untamed; enthusiasm last night, Cervelli got a fastball in the back.  After he jacked a John Lackey pitch over the Green Monster; out of Fenway; and on to Lansdowne Street; ...to cap off his home run trot, Francisco emphatically stomped on home plate and then seemingly turned to Salty, and clapped his hands almost as if it were directed at the Boston catcher.  Or, that's the way it looked.  John Lackey viewed all that from the mound and when Cervelli took his next turn at-bat, Lackey drilled him with a shoulder high fastball.  Francisco had some words for Lackey, and by the time Cervelli took a few steps, the benches had emptied and congregated in the area between home plate and the mound.


STOP.


OK; we've been (exactly) here before with these two teams; except for maybe Francisco Cervelli.  He's been warned by his own team mates to tone down his act and to leave the pom-poms home.  Not heeding their advice, Francisco had some player-style justice exacted upon him.


The pitch was a fastball.  That's a message pitch.  You don't send messages with breaking balls.  And so we've now established the pitch was on purpose.  Everyone knows it.  But even as the players say, "That's Baseball".  And it is.  But if you watched it live, and over the numerous replays, John Lackey eased up on the pitch.  He took a couple miles-per-hour off that fastball he dotted Cervelli with.  I don't believe he gassed that pitch at him.  Lackey eased-up on the arm speed and deceptively followed through; disguising both his "compassion and disgust" well.  We know Lackey can bring it harder than that pitch.  Watch it again.  But make no mistake; it was a message pitch, and they are still intended to hurt.  Whether the pitch came in at 85mph or 90 mph, doesn't change the soreness of the memento Cervelli took back to the hotel with him.


Some players just need to learn where their spot in life is.  And some of those need to learn the hard way.  Francisco Cervelli got a lesson in both; he was warned.  He's a nice enough kid, but you need to do something in your career that (in this day and age) "entitles" one to that kind of  showmanship.   Then, ...the odds are you get the benefit of the doubt.  The fact is there were a ton of players on both sides at Fenway last night who own one or two championship rings each; to include John Lackey; and others who have even more.  Cervelli is not too far removed from getting excited about a ring from a Cracker-Jacks box.


Here's more reality about last night.  The Yankees may have won the game on the scoreboard.  But that one pitch was a shot across their bow.  If you think back on all the altercations the Sox and Yanks have engaged in since 2003, the Red Sox have gotten the better of the Yankees just about every time.  Things like that may or may not translate to the scoreboard.  But then again, things like that are meant to be attitude adjusters and mood managers.  And where John Lackey may pound his drum to a different beat, what he did was still well in-line with the Red Sox over-all modus operandi.  And the Red Sox, it seems, wanted to get an early jump on the October head game.


The book has been out for years on the Yankees; They can be thrown at; and the Red Sox always have.  That's the matter at hand here.  C.C. Sabathia is an island to himself in his willingness to protect his players.  For years, the Yankee pitchers have not done that...and still don't.  It took the Yankees damn near a decade to finally hit David Ortiz with a purposeful pitch.


C.C. pitched out of a lot of trouble last night.  That's a testament to his greatness.  But the Sox pounded ten hits off him and stranded a small island of base runners too.  That leaves the opposing line-up (Bos) salivating for another crack; not mesmerized about what Sabathia threw at them.


So if the Red Sox didn't beat the Yankees last night, they did the next best thing.



TONIGHT

new york YANKEES
SP - Phil Hughes
vs.
BOSTON RED SOX
SP - Josh Beckett



 
New York Yankees:  Hughes Clues.

 
Phil Hughes is no stranger to this series.  But he didn't make a start the last time these teams met, and the season is growing short.  Meanwhile, the Yankees rotation still has so many questions they need answered.  And so it's Phil Hughes' turn to audition for a spot in the rotation and help the Bombers fill in some of the blanks before the playoffs start.  With the unreliability of A.J. Burnett, it sucks, but Phil Hughes needs to give Joe Girardi a better clue as to who he will be able to rely on (after C.C.) once September is done.

 
But he's going to have to prove something to his manager tonight while opposing Josh Beckett.  IF, things should get out of hand tonight like they almost did yesterday, we know Josh Beckett wouldn't hesitate plunking a Pinstripe or two.  But will Phil Hughes?

 
Phil Hughes has two games to contend with tonight; the one against the Red Sox; and the head game that almost always ensues between these two teams right around this time of year.





 
Mike.BTB

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

N.Y. Yankees - Battle In Beantown

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY







new york YANKEES:  Yet To Prove Their Mettle Against Sox.


The Yankees are one and one-half game behind the Red Sox in the American League East standings.  And if the Bombers intend to make a move on the Sawx, they had better do something other than what they have in their previous meetings with Boston; or, more preciclely, what they haven't done.


In twelve games so far this season, the Red Sox have won ten of those; the Yankees two.  If that doesn't grab your attention, maybe this will; Boston has beaten C.C. Sabathia this season like a dusty oriental throw rug.  In their last series, Bartolo Colon and Freddie Garcia proved up to the task, (I think I'm being kind).  But it was C.C. who wound up taking his lumps.  And not just last series; the Sawx have had C.C.'s number all season.  In four starts, the Red Sox have beaten C.C. four times this year.


While it's safe to say both teams will be making the playoffs, the Yankees still haven't proven they can hang with the Sox.  Both teams have been beating up on the rest of a rather mediocre League; which has gotten them to their present positions.  But in all likelihood this will be an October showdown the Yankees are still trying to prove (even to themselves) they should be a part of.  They still need to know if their pitching and aging players can play well against; for the moment; the best team in the American League.


Big name scratches in tonight's game will be Alex Rodriguez for the Yankees, and Kevin Youkilis for the Sox.





Final Score:
New York Yankees...5
Boston Red Sox.........2


C.C. SABATHIA - WIN
6 IP; 128 Pitches; 10 Hits; 2 ER; 2 BB; 10 K

MARIANO RIVERA - SAVE
Career Save #594





Mike.BTB

Monday, August 29, 2011

L.I. Ducks - Sign Pitcher; Lose to Somerset

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Mighty Offense Shut-Down by Somerset Patriots.

Long Island Ducks GM; Michael Phaff; addressed his depleted starting rotation with a savvy signing;  acquiring MLB veteran; Josh Banks; to provide sorely needed reinforcement for his compromised pitching staff.  Joselo Diaz, who struggled mightily this season as a starter, was released to make room for Banks.


In the first game since Hurricane Irene pummeled Long Island over the weekend, the Somerset Patriots visited Bethpage Park to begin a three game series. 


Valerio De Los Santos made the start for Long Island.  And even though he put the Ducks behind early, pitching wasn't the Ducks' problem this evening.  For the first six innings of this game, the offense was.  No runs and just over a handful of hits were all the Ducks managed against Somerset's starter; Luke Sommer.


It wasn't until they got into Somerset's bullpen that the Ducks started coming back from a 4-0 six inning deficit.  But the closest they got was within 4-2.  In the top of the ninth, Somerset broke out for another three runs and finished off Long Island 7-2.


...And well, you can't can't out-slug teams every night.  So, the starting pitching will continue to be a huge concern moving forward.


Nineteen games remain in the regular season.




Mike.BTB

BKN Cyclones ~ The Wild Ones

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS



BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  Travis Taijeron Drives 'Em WILD in Game One With Three RBI.

GAME ONE:  Hudson Valley Renegades @ Brooklyn Cyclones:

BROOKLYN - 3
Hudson Valley - 1
7 innings

In the first game of a double-header tonight, the Cyclones won their fourth consecutive game; this time, over the Hudson Valley Renegades at the Surf Avenue Grounds.  Just when games are mattering most, the Seaside Sluggers seem to be reigniting the fire they showed during much of August.


In game one, Hudson Valley took an early 1-0 lead in the second.  Brooklyn tied the score in the fourth inning when Travis Taijeron doubled home Richard Lucas who reached on a walk.  With two outs in the sixth inning, Richard Lucas was hit by a pitch and Cole Frenzel walked.  That brought up Travis Taijeron again, who delivered a huge, clutch triple to drive home both runners, and give the Cyclones a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.


Brooklyn's starting pitcher; Marcos Camanera; put in a fine effort against Hudson Valley.  He tossed 6.0 innings, giving up a lone home run in the second inning.  Otherwise, Marcos allowed five hits and struck out five as well for his third victory of the season against three losses.  Nicholas Carr pitched the seventh inning (double-header rules) for the first professional save of his career.



GAME TWO:  Hudson Valley Gains Split of Double-Header.

Hudson Valley - 7
BROOKLYN - 0
7 innings
   

There were no clutch Brooklyn hits this time.  More accurately, there were only three Brooklyn hits all game.  Hudson Valley's starting pitcher; Jacob Partridge; blanked the Cyclones over 6.1 innings pitched.  In addition to limiting the Cyclones to just two hits, the Hudson Valley lefty struck out nine Seaside Swingers tonight while walking only one.  Stayton Thomas relieved Partridge and allowed Brooklyn's third hit of the night; but nothing more.


The Cyclones only managed three hits in game one also; however, with different results.



Playoff Picture:

McNAMARA DIVISION:
Staten Island Yankees....43-24   *
Brooklyn Cyclones........ 39-29    4.5 GB


The Baby Bombers swept a double-header against the Aberdeen Iron Birds in Staten Island to increase their lead over Brooklyn by 4.5 games.  The Cyclones will have to take two of three games from the Spinners in their up-coming road trip to Lowell, in order to have a chance of over-taking Staten Island this coming weekend; as both teams will close out the regular season with a home-and-home series.



WILD CARD:
Brooklyn Cyclones..............39-29    *
Williamsport Crosscutters...40-30    *

In Williamsport, the Crosscutters defeated the Mahoning Valley Scrappers with a run in the bottom of the 14th inning.  The Cyclones maintain a percentage-points lead over the Crosscutters, but end the night tied for the Wild Card lead.




Mike.BTB

Sunday, August 28, 2011

L.I. Ducks ~ No Pitching; No Problem?

From the desk of:  THE "IRENE" FLOODED DUCK POND



LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Lack of Starting Pitchers Sending Ripples Through The Pond as Hurricane Irene Ruffled Their Feathers.


Webbed feet are supposed to be an advantage in flooded areas such as Hurricane Irene left behind.  But the truth is the Long Island Ducks have been tripping over themselves in the aftermath of losing their ace pitcher; and two more quality starters before him; who've all had their contracts purchased.

If they win their next game, they'll have won exactly twice as many games as they've lost this season.  In the second-half thus far, they are still playing .707% ball even after losing their three best pitchers.  But despite winning their last two games; and the most recent in dramatic fashion; make no mistake; the Ducks have struggled of late.


What Kraig Binick did for the Ducks in Long Island's last game played, was as much of a statement as any the Duck's needed to make so far this season.  Kraig Binick; who recently recaptured the Atlantic League's lead in batting average; (.365); delivered a dramatic tenth inning home run last Friday to beat the York Revolution 8-6.  The Ducks scored three runs in that tenth inning.

Long Island's 2-0 lead was wiped out in the seventh inning when the Revolution tied the game.  Then York went ahead 5-2 in the top half of the eighth.  Long Island got one run back in the bottom half to make it 5-3.


In the ninth, Kraig Binick scored on a wild pitch, and Javier Colina tripled home the tying run making it a 5-5 game.  But in their very next at-bat, York looked like they were going to pull out an extra-inning win with a run in the tenth and turn Long Island into hard-luck losers.  That's when Kraig Binick stepped up and saved the night with only his fourth home run of the year.


And in a season that seems to be moving along swimmingly for the Ducks, they do indeed have real problems which Kraig Binick's homer allowed them to forget for a day.  The Ducks are 5-5 in their last ten games, and the starting staff has struggled to win games since Mike Loree's departure from the team.


Without a doubt, the very capable Long Island bullpen must now defend the high ground the rest of the way as the offense seems well armed and committed to the fight.

Sunday's game starting a series versus the Somerset Patriots at Bethpage Park is postponed.  Long Island will rsume play Monday.



My two related posts:
The Duck's Soft Feathered Under-Belly
Mike Loree Sold to Pirates



Mike.BTB

BKN Cyclones ~ Back To The Pennant Chase

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE








BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  In the Aftermath of Irene, The Cyclones Must Continue Twistin' the Nights Away.


Hey Florida, one of your hurricanes got loose.  Can you put a leash on them next time?  We have a pennant race going on over here!


.....We pick up this New York Penn League pennant chase with the Cyclones owning a full-one game lead over the Williamsport Crosscutters for the Wild Card.  I'm not sure exactly how many games the Cyclones will get in before the regular season expires, but I'll say there's eight remaining.


The Crosscutters are scheduled to play the State College Spikes later today, while the Cyclones game against Hudson Valley has already been postponed.  A double-header is scheduled for Monday at the Surf Avenue Grounds in Brooklyn.


When we last left the Cyclones before hunkering down for the storm, the Cyclones whipped-up their own gusts of wins by sweeping a double-header against the Renegades this past Friday.


In the McNamara Division race, the Staten Island Yankees hold a 3.5 game lead over Brooklyn.  The regular season ends on September 4th.  But all is not lost folks.  As long as the Seaside Sluggers take care of business up in Lowell this week, the Cyclones and Yankees will end the season with a home-and-home series that should finally decide the Division winner. 


The Cyclone's late season surge appeared to be sputtering out for a moment.  Over the last week of games played, they lost key games while Staten Island and Williamsport also struggled.   But the Brooks are now winners of their last three games and are masters of their own destiny.  They need no help from other teams in order to secure a playoff spot.  They just need to take care of their own business.


Let's Go Cyclones!




Mike.BTB

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BKN Cyclones ~ Pennant Race Down to a Dozen

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE



BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  Making it Hard on Themselves; Not Taking Advantage of Key Loses by Staten Island.


I erroneously sent the Cyclones on the road to Troy a day early in yesterday's post.  Sue me.  Regardless, Monday was another one of those good news; bad news type of nights.


Staten Island and Williamsport won their games.  And in Brooklyn's continuation portion of Sunday's game, the Cyclones failed to comeback from Sunday's deficit and lost to Tri-City 7-4.


But they weren't through.  In the second game of the make-up-game double-header, Javier Rodriguez erased a Valley Cat 2-0 lead in the fifth inning with a two RBI double.  Then in extra innings; because double-headers are seven inning games; a home run by Amauris Valdez in the bottom of the eighth won it for Brooklyn.  It was the first home run of the season for one of the newest Cyclones to sign. 


And as Warner Fusselle would go on to say, "Mercy!"


But that was yesterday.  This is a pennant race.  And tonight, the Cyclones got a bunch of help from their friends.  In Staten Island, the Lowell Spinners held off a near-successful comeback by the Yankees who scored three runs in the home ninth but fell one short; - 6-5 win Lowell.


Big props to the Batavia Muckdogs!  They took both games of a double-header against the Williamsport Crosscutters out in Western New York by identical 2-1 scores.  That was huge, as the Cyclones dropped their game against the Valley Cats by a score of 7-4.


So now, the Cyclones are just 0.5 games behind the Crosscutters for the Wild Card.  But they are 3.5 games behind the Yankees in the McNamara Division after recently closing in to within 1.5 games.


Twelve games remain in the regular season.  Tomorrow, Brooklyn and Troy go at it again.



Mike.BTB

L.I. Ducks ~ Ace; Mike Loree Sold To PITT Pirates

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Mission Statement of the Atlantic League May Turn Out to be Long Island's Downfall.

Their Ace Pitcher; The Atlantic League's Triple Crown Leader; Gets Sold to Pirates.

Add MIKE LOREE to the List of Ducks Pitchers Gone-Bye...  The Contracts of the Ducks' Three Best Pitchers - Mike Loree; Mike Parisi; Shane Youman; all sold leaving the Ducks' Rotation Bare.



Duck Pond; We have a Problem.


On August 22nd, the Ducks' Ace; Long Island's new single season record holder for wins; All-Star Game starting pitcher; and the Atlantic League leader in all three pitching Triple Crown categories; Mike Loree; had his contract sold by the Long Island Ducks and purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He will be assigned to AA-Altoona Curve.


There-in lies the mission statement of the Atlantic League; ...to get guys back into the Major Leagues.  And I think we all knew it was just a matter of time before he got picked-up.  But, oh what a blow to the Ducks' championship hopes this is.


Matt Padgett saved Monday night's game with a big double in the eighth inning to give the Ducks their first lead of the game and a 5-4 final score over the Blue Crabs.  It was a statement game of sorts.  They seemed flat for most of the night upon learning their ace pitcher had been sold away earlier that day.  And they were fresh from getting swept in Camden over the weekend.  But they did what they've done for most of this season regardless of who is on the mound.  They pounded out three late runs in the eighth inning while their strong bullpen made the lead stand.


Yesterday, Valerio De Los Santos made the fill-in start in place of the departed Mike Loree.  And Valerio's performance echoed some things I said about the Ducks' Staff moving forward; and their outlook for the upcoming playoffs.  The loss of pitchers Mike Parisi and Shane Youman were huge blows to take.  Now, losing Mike Loree is crippling.


In Tuesday night's game against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs; the last pitcher to win a game for the Long Island Ducks; Mark Diapoules took his regular turn in the rotation and promptly got hammered.  In two+ innings, he allowed four hits; eight runs; and walked three.  He left the game with his team behind 8-2 at the time.


As of right now, the Ducks are still clearly the best team in the League with an overall 67-33 record.  But their season just got very, very interesting.  I already expressed my concerns for this team in Monday's post.  Check that out.  But today, concerns just got upgraded to a really big problem.




Mike.BTB

Monday, August 22, 2011

L.I. Ducks ~ Sharks Feed on Ducks' One Weakness

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE





LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  The Webbed Nine Had Their Soft White Feathered Under Belly Exposed in Camden.


What's wrong with the Ducks?


Nothing.  They got swept by the Camden River Sharks; that's all.  When the team is going this well, you can't be taken aback by something like that.  It happens.  They lost a double-header Saturday and lost Sunday after getting rained out Friday evening down in Camden, N.J.


But what really happened to the Ducks besides meeting up with a Camden team playing well at the moment?  Camden is after all 22-12 in the second half, and in second place behind Long Island.


Last week, Mike Loree won his 14th game of the season.  That set the Long Island Ducks' single season record for victories; previously set by Troy Cate (13) in 2009.  He also struck out 10 batters in that game.  This season, Mike Loree is the Atlantic League's leader in wins; strikeouts; and ERA.  And he will be tonight's starter when the Ducks open up a series against Southern Maryland at Bethpage Park.


And now you can start talking about the Ducks' problems.  Between Loree starts, the Ducks are now officially thin.  And Camden caught Long Island within the void as Mike Loree pitched last  Wednesday and goes again tonight. 


Although seemingly moving right along, and continuing to win games at a 67% clip after the contracts of Mike Parisi and Shane Youman were sold, perhaps this is a glimpse into what kind of havoc lack of depth in the starting rotation can cause in a short series.  With the playoffs right around the corner, it's a scary glimpse I'm afraid.


In this most recent turn through the rotation, besides Mike Loree's victory last Wednesday, the only other Ducks' pitcher to record a win was Mark Diapoules; when he followed Loree last Thursday and completed a sweep of the Road Warriors.


With Long Island's need for starters, Diapoules stepped out of the bullpen and into a starting role.  As a relief pitcher through mid-June, he record was 1-1 and by then his ERA had grown to 3.96.  Since then, he's amazingly 6-0 as a starter, and his 4.06 ERA is not much higher than previous to starting his new role.


Then came a weekend series in Camden; a trio of loses; and three questions moving forward.


Regular starter; Joselo Diaz; pitched the first game of a double-header Saturday; ...well, technically anyway.  He lasted all of 1.1 innings and gave up seven runs; six earned.  It falls right in line with his overall struggles this season.  He's 5-7 as a starter this season with a 6.90 ERA.  He's walked almost as many as he's struck out in 19 starts for the Ducks.


In game two Saturday; staff regular; Ruddy Lugo took his turn and coughed-up 4.2 innings pitched.  He allowed 10 hits; 6 runs/4 earned.  In sixteen starts this season, Ruddy is 5-3 with a 5.91 ERA.  In 74 innings pitched, he too walks as many as he strikes out; 39/40.


Sunday, Dave Williams; like Diapoules who was summoned from the bullpen to start games; made his third start of the season, and eighteenth appearance over all.  Of the three weekend starting pitchers against Camden, Williams went the longest, but suffered the same fate as the others; he lost.  He pitched 6.0 innings, while surrendering five runs on eight hits.


Now tonight, Ducks' Ace Mike Loree; who is the League leader in all three Triple Crown categories for a pitcher; must also play stopper for Long Island.


But what could be wrong?  Southern Maryland can either expose the dilemma I spelled out, or put some of these anxieties to rest with this series opening up tonight.


We know how in the playoffs, what you have left to compete against is good pitching.  And the saying goes, good pitching stops good hitting.  The Ducks have basically been pounding opponents into submission with their offense; with League batting leaders, and League leaders in RBI.  They have the highest team batting and have scored the most team runs.


But their pitching is now depleted.  Will they be able to slug their way through the playoffs?  Ideally, Mike Loree only gets one start in a round of playoffs.  If he makes two starts, it's because the series went to a fifth and deciding game.


Are you comfortable with that?





Mike.BTB

BKN Cyclones ~ Off To Troy In Search of Victory

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS







McNAMARA DIVISION
Staten Island Yankees     38-23  .623    *
BROOKLYN CYCLONES         34-25  .576    3 GB


WILD CARD
Williamsport Crosscutters     *         
BROOKLYN CYCLONES      1 GB  





BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  As Mother Nature Continues to Demand a Say in the NY-PL Pennant Races, Brooklyn Heads North With Hopes of Sacking Troy.

****UPDATE/CORRECTION:  They Don't Leave Till Tomorrow.  I Got Ahead of Myself.


Mother Nature still continues to thumb her nose in our business.  She had Sunday's game in Coney Island suspended after 3 1/2 innings with the Cyclones trailing Tri-City 6-2.  Now they will pick-up that game where they left off yesterday up in Troy, N.Y.  As part of a home-and-home, tonight begins a three game series against the Tri-City Valley Cats on their turf, after having most of the series in Brooklyn rained on.


Staten Island managed to play their game up in Lowell against the Spinners.  And they hammered their hosts 16-1.  The Yankees' latest win widened their lead over Brooklyn to three games in the McNamara Division with thirteen games to play.  Brooklyn and Staten Island will play a three game series to close out the regular season.


Also last night, the Jamestown Jammers helped Brooklyn along in the Wild Card race by defeating the Williamsport Crosscutters.  Williamsport still holds a one game lead over the Cyclones.


Tonight, Williamsport resumes their series against Jamestown, and the Yanks continue along with the Lowell Spinners.  Hopefully the Cyclones can manage a come-back in their resumption of yesterday's game, and follow up the night-cap with another victory.  With some out of town breaks going our way, the night can prove quite profitable for our Seaside Sluggers.  The Brooklyn Cyclones have a League's best 16-13 road record.


Let's Go Cyclones!




Mike.BTB

N.Y. Mets ~ Brain Busters

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET




NEW YORK METS:  In the immortal words of Aretha Franklin -  "...you better, THINK!  ...'bout what you tryin' to do to me!  You better, THINK!"



His curve ball follows the curvature of the Earth.   His sinker rises like a weather balloon.   His fastball suffers more drag than Sky-Lab did falling down to Earth.   And the guys’ mind is in orbit.  This space cadet is in dire need of a lobotomy or learning how to sequence his pitches better.   But then again, he’d still need an effective out-pitch; which is his downfall.


Otherwise, he makes his case a tough call because we still like the guy and want to give him that one last chance.  But I assure you, sending Mike Pelfrey to the bullpen is not a remedy for his woes.  I don't know if time is on our (the Club's) side when it comes to options.  I may be off on the logistics, but I wish we could shuffle him off to Buffalo and keep him there until September 5th; ...that's right.....  The last game of Buffalo's regular season.


This man needs to have his psyche impacted and shaken up.  He's thinking way too much and I believe his brain is fried for having been thrust into the Ace's role and not coming through.  More and more, he's exhibiting poor mental make-up.  Additionally, there's a lot of work to be done with regard to an out-pitch; not to mention his whole unimpressive repertoire.


In the Mets' present situation, giving someone a mental make-over and diagnosing a pitcher's failed craftsmanship should not be done from the bullpen, nor on the Major League level.  Impact his brain a little and send him down for three starts where he'll have nothing to think about but throwing a damn ball.  Heck; we should have done this a week ago.  And we just might learn a little more about his make-up after putting him through a demeaning process like that and be better prepared to deal with his situation in the off-season.  Because after all, he is a Scott Boras client. 


Can we do that?




Jose; Jose; Jose;....Why Hurry Jose?

Funny; ...ever since Jose Reyes returned to the dugout to do sprints at Citi Field, the "Spotlight is on You" has returned.  There's a lot to be said about that, among which is his value to the club. 


So why rush back?  And for what?  There is nothing he can do between now and the end of the regular season that will change any one's perception of him; good or bad; on the part of the Mets; us fans; or any other team interested in the soon to be free agent.


At this point in his career, I believe he IS what he IS.  Jose Reyes is one of the most dynamic players in baseball; whether it be on the base paths; in the field; with a bat in his hands; or through his overall exuberance and it's effect on a club.


He is also proven to be injury prone; namely those legs.  And more and more, his lower appendages seem to be; if only slightly; permanently damaged....but hopefully manageable at the same time.  In an effort to keep his legs healthy, he might have to become a player who now plays 147 to 150 games a season by design.


When I play GM, I would have traded him.  That's a different post.  But I'm like you; a Fan.  And he's a Met today.  So why rush him back?  For what?  If we do in fact reach a deal with him this off-season, we still have to rethink the way we utilize him.  What we decide to do this very day, may still work in our benefit down the road.  And if I'm Jose Reyes, ...I get he may know no other way than to play as soon as possible, but it's in his best interest to take it slow also.  And if the Met Doctors are having a routinely bad day, they can potentially ruin him for life.


There is no evidence a divorce between the Mets and Jose Reyes is written in stone.  But to even the staunchest Reyes supporter, I know this latest setback has touched the pragmatist in you.


Ask yourself; -  from this moment forward, will you ever think about Jose Reyes, and not think about his hamstrings ever again?  The rethinking of Jose Reyes has already begun. 


Here's my proposal; $83 million over five years; no more.  Like I said, there is nothing he can do to change my perception of him now.  He is one of the most dynamic players in Baseball with mounting hamstring injuries.  And if his time in New York has proven one thing if we are to move forward with him, is that he will need ample, scheduled days off; ....in his prime years.  But I also say it's a risk.  I'd rather let DePodesta and Ricciardi utilize the compensatory pick(s) and continue their stock-piling  coming off this year's draft.


However, because it's more about what the Club does, than what I want, having Jose Reyes in a Met uniform could never rub me the wrong way.




Mike.BTB

Sunday, August 21, 2011

N.Y. Mets ~ Flame Out

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET





NEW YORK METS:  Dark Smoke Joins The Storm Cloud Hovering Over Citi Field.


Thick black smoke could be seen billowing from the chop-shops across the street from Citi Field.  A fire might have been started by a stray shooting spark that jumped across the street while Prince Fielder and the Brewers were torching up the Mets 7-1, over the first six innings of Saturday's game.


But it was the Mets' offense that ignited to finally heat things up at home.  Amidst the rising smoke behind Citi Field, they staged a near-miraculous comeback against a new Fan nemesis; Francisco Rodriguez.  Boos rained down from the stands upon Frankie as furiously as the black curtain of smoldering soot rose beyond center field.  Then for the Mets, through the smoke rose an Angel from the outfield; - Pagan connected on a booming home run to right.  And from being down 7-1, they fought their way back and beyond, to take an 9-7 lead after eight innings.


Then in the ninth inning, Terry Collins let Izzy play with matches and well, ...he got burnt.  Izzy gave up a hit and walked three batters to force in a run; making the game 9-8, Mets.  Izzy got charged with arson three more runs he set up by leaving the bases loaded; and that Manny Acosta assisted getting across the plate by allowing two more hits after Coach Terry made a switch. 


Although seemingly heroic for a moment, seeing-eye base hits past an out of position Justin Turner just fanned the flames at Citi even more.  When the cross beams gave way below them, the Mets came crashing through the floors of their house to lay in the hot ashes of an 11-9 loss.  And so there's a lesson to be learned somewhere in Saturday's meltdown boys and girls; - where there's smoke, there's fire.   And, oh yeah; ...bases on balls kill.


Flame out.


All you can really do after an afternoon like that is get up and dust yourself off; ...take a body count making sure everyone is OK and accounted for.  But, why walk away from a game like this angry, when you can just walk away?  There's still jobs to be won.


They showed a lot of Chutzpah.  Give Terry's Kids that.






Mike.BTB

Saturday, August 20, 2011

BKN Cyclones ~ Brooks Get Needed Help From Lowell

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS




BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  Saturday Night Scoreboard Watching.

BROOKLYN Snared In One-Hit Shut-Out Against Tri-City;  Strikeout 16 Times.
STATEN ISLAND Loses To LOWELL Spinners; Cyclones stay 2.5 Games Back of Yankees.
Cyclones Lose Ground in Wild Card; Williamsport Defeats Jamestown.


The Tri-City Valley Cats scored a first inning run on one hit off Brooklyn starter, Jeffery Walters.  Then both teams settled in afterwards for what proved to be another pitcher's duel for the Cyclones at Coney Island.  Valley Cat starting pitcher; Nicholas Trapeano; retired the Cyclones in order his first time through the line-up; striking out five of them.  And after three innings the score remained 1-0, Tri-City.


Up in Lowell, MA., the Yankees and Spinners were tied at one apiece in the sixth inning.  And in Williamsport, the Crosscutters and Jamestown Jammers were getting ready to start their 7pm game.


After the fifth inning in Coney Island, the score remained 1-0.  The Cyclones also remained hitless to this point heading into the sixth.  In Lowell, the game between the Spinners and Staten Island was still tied 1-1 after eight.


Tied after nine, they'd go into extra-innings in Lowell.  The line red six hits for the Yankees and five for the Spinners.  Each team committed an error.  Meanwhile in Brooklyn, the Cyclones fell behind 2-0 after the top of the sixth inning.


In the bottom of the first inning in Williamsport, the Crosscutters buzzed-up the Jammers with three hits and four runs.  In Lowell, they headed into the bottom of the tenth.  For the Cyclones in the bottom of the sixth inning; no hits; no runs.  Brooklyn batters thus far struck out nine times  against Valley Cats' starter, Nicholas Trapeano.


Tri-City took a 3-0 lead over Brooklyn in the visitors half of the seventh inning.  The Cyclones' first error of the game led to an unearned run.  Then finally in the home seventh, T.J. Rivera secured the first Cyclone hit of the game.  But they couldn't muster much else.  The score remained 3-0.


Meanwhile out in Williamsport, the Crosscutters were still leading 4-0 in the third.  Then finally, the Cyclones caught a break of sorts.  Not in Coney Island; but up in Lowell.  The Spinners scored in the bottom of the 10th inning to win the game 2-1; and ensuring the Cyclones would remain; at worst;  2.5 games behind Staten Island after tonight's games go final.


In Coney Island, the Beach Boyz were down to their last six outs.  The eighth inning yielded nothing in the way of runs nor hits for Brooklyn.  More nifty fielding on Brooklyn's part kept the Valley Cats off the scoreboard in the top of the ninth.


The Crossscutters were still leading the Jammers 4-0 after six innings.


In the home team's last licks in Brooklyn, the Cyclones went down quietly to end the game with only one hit and no runs over nine innings.  They struck out sixteen times against Tri-City pitchers.


The Crosscutters upped their lead over Jamestown 5-0 heading into the eighth inning.  Then, the game ended with a 5-1 final score.  Jamestown spoiled the shut-out in the ninth.  Williamsport now holds a one game lead over Brooklyn for the Wild Card spot.


There are fifteen games left in the season now.  And rain has wreaked havoc on the schedule.  Teams will end the regular season having played an unequal number of games.  And it may play a big part in the pennant races.


That's the way it unfolded tonight; August 20, 2011.




Mike.BTB

Friday, August 19, 2011

BKN Cyclones ~ Rained Out But Gain on S.I. Yankees

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS





BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  The Brooks are Battling the Yanks; the Crosscutters; and Mother Nature Too.


There was no baseball in Coney Island tonight; only rain.  And it's really starting to make a mess of the schedule that ends in sixteen games.  More downpours postponed the Cyclones game by the seashore, and as a result, they couldn't help their own cause Friday night against Jamestown.


After an early and lengthy rain delay, they outlasted Jamestown Thursday night in a 1-1 pitchers duel through the first six innings.  Then the Baby Bums busted out with four runs in the home seventh and eventually won their series and home stand opener against the Jammers, 5-2.


Friday night; no such chance.  They started the night tied with Williamsport in the Wild Card race.  But the rain and night off meant scoreboard watching for me.  So, here's the bad news.  The Williamsport Crosscutters completed a three game sweep of the Tri-City Valley Cats and ended the night with a one-half game lead over Brooklyn.  Mahoning Valley has dropped to two games back.


The good news is the Staten Island Yankees lost to Connecticut Friday night which means the Cyclones moved to within 2.5 games of first place in the McNamara Division.  The Surf Avenue Sluggers have gained four games on the Yanks over the last week.  At the beginning of the month the Yanks were looking like clear cut Division winners.  But Brooklyn said not so fast.  The surge is on as the Bums are winners of four in a row and eight out of their last ten.


Brooklyn and Staten Island will play each other in one last series to end the regular season September 2nd through the 4th; two games by the beach, and one over in Rotten Staten Island.





Mike.BTB

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

N.Y. Mets ~ Club Pays-Up For Nimmo

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET



NEW YORK METS:  Action Speak Louder Than Words.

The Wilpons have either lost their minds and are just silly; numb; or both; with the whole Madoff thing by now, or, Sandy Alderson really has taken charge of operations with; ONE - full autonomy; and TWO - a completely new organizational philosophy.  That mind be stating the obvious, but yes, this has everything to do with the signing of Brandon Nimmo; and a few others from the draft.


In a major departure from the past; at least for the Wilpons; they went above and beyond the Slotting System MLB advises with regard to draftees.  Paul DePodesta went as far to say the Mets went over Slot for many of the Mets' newest prospects.

Bravo!


Who knows if these guys ever pan out.  But the shift in attitude by this organization should be duly acknowledged and applauded.



Mike.BTB

Newark Bears ~ Winding Down a Precarious Summer

From the desk of:  THE BRICK CITY NINE



NEWARK BEARS:  Facing an Early; and Maybe Even Permanent; Hibernation.

Without trying to be funny, the Bears are headed towards an early; and maybe even a permanent; hibernation.  Even less humorous, is there are many layers to that opening line.  Said plainly, the Newark Bears are in trouble.


Even three inch Bear claws couldn't have prevented them from slipping so badly in the standings.  They lost their grip sometime shortly before the first half ended.  Since then, it's been a lean summer for the grizzlies from Newark.  They are currently in seventh place and 7.5 games behind first place Brockton in the season's second-half standings.  But the truth is, they should be in last.  The New York Federals are a filler team from the New York State League; needed to keep schedule integrity.  And truth be told, they aren't that good;  ...not at this level anyway.


Overall this season, the Bears find themselves with a 34-41 record and in sixth place.  The only teams below them are the previously mentioned Federals in last place, and the newest Atlantic League expansion team; the Rockland Boulders in seventh.


And this is where things get worse for Newark.


The Quebec Capitales lead the League in attendance.  So this discussion centers on the American based teams of the CanAm League.  With less than 20 games remaining in the regular season, the first-year Rockland County Boulders are the undisputed kings in attendance.  The New Jersey Jackals; who play just twelve miles away from Newark are second in the League in attendance behind Rockland.  Rockland plays their games forty-one miles away from Newark.


The Newark Bears surpass only the Pittsfield Colonials in attendance this season.  But that is misleading.  Pittsfield's home park is quite small with a limited max capacity; (3,500).  Even so, they're averaging just under 800 per game.  The Bears are averaging just over 900 per game.  I believe that may be an average number being supported by their sponsors and that their true attendance is even weaker.  But what's clearly evident, is the walk-up gate is virtually nonexistent.  A routine weekday/night game usually only brings in about 200+/- fans.


And here's the kicker.  Over the weekend, the Rockland Boulders bought ad-space on the bottom of the back page of the N.Y. Daily News and had commercials airing on 1050espnRadio as well.  Those are expenditures the Bears are finding virtually impossible to fund right now.  They no longer broadcast on radio and have ceased their web casting this season.  So advertising, is strictly out of the question.

In a best case scenario, for the Newark Bears, it looks like more, severe, cut-backs are in order.  I wouldn't know how well the decision to switch over to the CanAm League went for ownership.  The move was designed to save them money.  But I truly wonder how much longer they can exist this way?





Mike.BTB

BKN Cyclones ~ Celebrate BrooklyNITE

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS




BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  Resume Drive Towards Playoffs Tonight Against Jamestown Jammers.


 
**BROOKLYN ALL-STARS COME HOME AFTER JOB WELL DONE**

Brooklyn's stars were shining bright in Lowell, MA. last night in the New York Penn League All-Star Game.  Danny Muno (1 for 2) hit a two run double for the N.L. squad.  Richard Lucas entered the game as a pinch hitter and stayed in at third base replacing his team mate; Charles Thurber.  The Cyclone's bullpen closed things out for the N.L. squad in their 7-3 win.  T.J. Chism was credited with a Hold for his 0.2 innings of work.  He struck out one batter.  Todd Weldon closed the game with his 0.2 innings pitched.  He too struck out one batter.  Neither pitcher allowed a hit or walk.



Nineteen Games Remain In Regular Season:

When the Coney Island Nine take the field Wednesday evening, they will be in a three way tie for the Wild Card spot with Williamsport and Mahoning Valley.  They start a six game home stand beginning with the Jamestown Jammers, followed by a visit from the Tri-City Valley Cats over the weekend.  They are 4.5 games behind Staten Island in the McNamara Division race.



Wednesday; August 17, 2011
BrooklyNite at MCU Park

The Brooklyn Cyclones are throwing a Block Party to celebrate...
BROOKLYN!

As part of Wednesday night's ceremonies, there will be a
TRIBUTE to DUKE SNIDER


Check out all the details at
BrooklynCyclones.com



 
Mike.BTB

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

L.I. Ducks ~ Turn Back The Road Warriors

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Winning Streak Hits Seven Games.


A first inning 1-0 deficit meant little to Long Island.  Picking up where they left off before Monday's break in the schedule, the Ducks waisted no time erasing that deficit with two runs in the second inning, and for good measure, two more in the third.


Freddie Thon doubled home both runs for Long Island in the second inning scoring Matt Esquivel and Matt Padgett.  In the third inning, back-to-back doubles by J.T. House and Matt Esquivel scored Javier Colina and John Rodriguez respectively, making the game a 4-1 affair favoring the Ducks.


After that first inning, starting pitcher Dave Williams kept things quiet and departed the game on the winning side after five innings against the Road Warriors.  In only his second start for the Ducks in seventeen appearances this season, the Road Warriors touched him for eight hits, but only mustered the one run against him.  He walked one batter and struck out five before giving way to Bob Zimmermann for the sixth.


That's when the Road Warriors made things close.  After pitching a scoreless sixth inning, Zimmermann needed help from Valerio De Los Santos and Jeremy Hill to keep the Ducks on top after being charged with two earned runs in the top of the seventh inning.  De Los Santos allowed a hit and one of those runs while Hill allowed a hit and plunked a batter before getting the third out.


The Ducks struck again in the home half of the seventh.  Kinnard Jones led off the inning with a double.  He advanced to third and then scored on a Javier Colina sac-fly to make it a 5-3 game.


Jeremy Hill stayed in to pitch the eighth inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced.  Then, Ehren Wassermann was called upon to close the game for Long Island in the ninth inning.  The Road Warriors made a go of it.  But Wassermann finally closed out the game after giving up a run for his tenth save of the season.

The Ducks are now winners of seven straight.  They improved their second-half record to 24-7; 4.5 games ahead of second place Bridgeport.  Overall, the Ducks are now 64-30 this year.  So far this season, they are the only Atlantic League team above sixty victories.





Mike.BTB

Monday, August 15, 2011

BKN Cyclones ~ Finally, A Piece of Playoff Pie!

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE




BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  The Surf Avenue Sluggers Enter The All-Star Break Tied For The WILD CARD Lead.

Mother Nature gave everyone a dousing Sunday; even Ohio; as she had the game between the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers postponed.  But that didn't necessarily mean the Cyclones got rained on their parade yesterday.


They didn't gain any ground on the Staten Island Yankees, as they also had their game postponed.  But by the time everyone went to sleep last night, the Brooklyn Cyclones slid into a three way tie for the Wild Card spot.  In one of the few NY-PL games that didn't get rained-out, the Williamsport Crosscutters, who entered Sunday holding a half-game lead in the Wild Card standings over Brooklyn and Mahoning Valley, fell to the Aberdeen Iron Birds by a 9-3 final score.


Now, Brooklyn, Mahoning Valley, and Williamsport, all share a piece of the prized fourth playoff spot with just nineteen regular season games left for the Cyclones this season.  All three teams share identical 32-24 records.


The League has the day off today as part of their two day break for the New York-Penn League All-Star Game to be played Tuesday evening in Lowell, MA.; home of the Spinners. 


Representing Brooklyn:
SS - Danny Muno ~ 3rd in the League in Batting Average .341;  15 Doubles.
3B - Richard Lucas ~ 7th in the League in Batting Average  .309;  15 Doubles; 5 HR;  29 RBI.
CF - Travis Taijeron ~ 2nd in the League in RBI - 38;  .303 Batting Average;  8 HR.
RF - Charles Thurber ~ .269 BA;  11 Doubles;  22 RBI.
*RP - Tyson Seng ~ 0.90 ERA;  3-1;  2 Saves;  1.07 WHIP.
*RP - TJ Chism ~ 1.13 ERA; 3-0;  3 Saves;  0.96 WHIP.



When games resume Wednesday, the Cyclones will be in Coney Island to host the Jamestown Jammers to begin a six-game home stand.


In other games Cyclone Fans need to be mindful of, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers open a series in Vermont against the Lake Monsters.  The Tri City Valley Cats will visit the Williamsport Crosscutters.  And of McNamara Division importance, Staten Island will be in Connecticut playing the Tigers.


Enjoy the All-Star Game.  Let's Go National League!



Mike.BTB

Sunday, August 14, 2011

N.Y. Mets ~ The Spotlight Is Dimming

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET





NEW YORK METS:  With Reyes Not Available to Shine the Spotlight, Met Issues Lurk In The Shadows.


Mike Pelfrey took a line drive off the elbow, but probably suffered more from a bruised ego and shattered confidence on the heals of misconstrued comments he made about his team outlook about the "upcoming" 2011 season, mixed in with his overall underachievement and single digit win total.  But hopefully, just as long as the Met Doctors don't get involved, he should be OK (or so we all hope).  However, there was a noticeable knot and swelling on the bone. 


But it's his pitching this whole season that has been a real pain in the posterior for all concerned, although, to his credit he left the game leading 5-2 in the fifth inning after a flaky start in the first.  On arguing with Coach Terry about coming out of the game, he admitted his  .....brain wasn't working correctly.  And about his sensationalized comments, ...he knows he should have taken a different tact to better convey his meaning - he said he takes full blame for that.


The fact David Wright has to defend anybody to the Media bugs me.  It also means Terry Collins either needs to scold the Media and get them to back off again.  Because ever since June 1st, when he told them en mass not to look at him like he was some kind of idiot, the fact is the Media has been tame as a puppy instead of playing the part of Big Bad Wolves.

Or...,

All that's really needed is for everyone to shut-up or speak only of the here and now.  If you're not talking about the last game or the next game, your head is in the wrong place.  That goes for everyone.  What David Wright should have told the Media was to "just drop it."


Truth be told, Mike Pelfrey didn't say anything that bad.  But timing is everything when you make jokes or in Mike's case, mis-speak.  We know Mike Pelfrey likes to kid and suffers from loose lips sometimes.  This time it came back to bite him.  It happens.


But that's all just a side-note. Let's not lose focus of the real matter at hand. The fact should remain Saturday's game was the Mets' fourth consecutive loss which drops them to a 58-61 record.

Ever since Jose Reyes went down again, no Met has been flashing the "Spotlight is on You" sign to his team mates anymore.   So it goes, one can sense the lights going out on the Mets rightful claim to respectability on the field this season.   Is there a correlation?  Or, is it just me?  But, falling three games below .500 again brings all that into question.  


And speaking of Reyes, I thought that was supposed to be just a tweak?  And Ike Davis...there is still no definitive determination on his foot.  And Johan...why push him so hard?  To me, those remain very ponderous medical questions and lingering issues.






Mike.BTB

BKN Cyclones ~ The Late Season Push Is On

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS



BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  A Pitcher's Duel in Ohio Gets Them Closer to Wild Card Spot.


The Good News; - The Brooklyn Cyclones are now tied with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers after winning Saturday night by a 2-1 final.

The Bad News; - Brooklyn didn't get any help from the Aberdeen Iron Birds, who couldn't keep Williamsport out of the win column.  With the Crosscutter's win Saturday night, they now sit in first place for the Wild Card by slim half-game margin over both the Cyclones and Mahoning Valley. 


The Staten Island Yankees won their game against Auburn and remain 4.5 games ahead of Brooklyn in the McNamara Division.



In Saturday's game, Daniel Muno and Richard Lucas got Brooklyn another step closer to the top of the standings; supplying the Cyclones with just enough offense to get by in a tight pitcher's duel out in Ohio.  On the hill, Cyclones' pitching made sweet music against the Scrappers.  Randy Fontanez made the start but pitched four innings only.  But in those four innings, surrendered the only two hits Mahoning Valley would get all night.  He gave up the lone Scrapper run in the fourth inning.  Otherwise, he walked three and struck out one.


Then the game was put in the hands of Brooklyn's bullpen.  Steve Winnick was first in relief.  He pitched two innings and earned Saturday's win; his second win of the season.  He struck out two batters to highlight his no-hit outing and allowed no bases on balls. 


Todd Weldon was terrific as the third Cyclone pitcher of the night.  He carried Brooklyn for the last three innings and got the save; his fourth of the season.  Mahoning Valley managed no runs; no hits; no walks; and struck out five times against Weldon.


So, in today's games of Wild Card significance, the Cyclones and Scrappers will finish their three game series which will unlock their tie in the standings.  Williamsport will finish up with Aberdeen, and hopefully the Cyclones can get some help this time. 


Of McNamara Division significance, the Staten Island Yankees play Auburn.  The Yankees remained 4.5 games ahead of the second place Cyclones, as they shut-out Auburn Saturday night on a combined four hitter.



Mike.BTB

L.I. Ducks ~ A Quack Attack in Lancaster

From the desk of:  WADDLING AROUND BROOKLYN



LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Big John "STUD" Rodriguez Goes Boom as the Webbed Nine Roar Back in Biggest Comeback of the Season.


Long Island just sent the rest of the League a message of sorts.  They will not be denied.


The Ducks came back...; all the way back, from a 7-0 deficit to take an 8-7 lead in the seventh inning against the Barnstormers and then won it 13-10 in even more dramatic fashion than already provided.  In winning their fifth game in a row, and in defeating the Lancaster Barnstormers who were leading the Freedom Division before Saturday's game, in the first two games of this weekend series, the Long Island Ducks must have the rest of the League wondering, what will it take to slow this team down?


Point made.


With their starting pitching getting depleted by untimely contract purchases, this is what the Ducks will have to do from time to time in order to compensate for their staff losses.  Joselo Diaz wasn't exactly Cy Young out in Lancaster in game two; giving up seven runs to Lancaster over the first two innings of the game.  But the offense rose to the occasion to bail him out and take him off the loss column.


Valerio De Los Santos made a huge fielding gaffe when he didn't cover first base on a ground ball to Matt Padgett in the bottom of the seventh.  He almost got bailed out but Javier Colina couldn't turn a softly hit ball into a double play in time for the second out.  It was part of a bottom half inning in which the Ducks allowed the Barnstormers to tie the game again at 10-10 with three runs.


A booming home run in the top of the eighth by John Rodriguez gave the Ducks another lead, this time 11-10.  It was his third hit of the night; his 16th home run of the season; and his three RBI gave him 72; tops in the League.


Then, in the top of the ninth inning, Big John STUD uncorked his second home run of the game and 17th overall; a two run blast hit deep into the Lancaster night; to give the Ducks more insurance on their way to a 13-10 final.  In all, John Rodriguez was 4 for 5 on the night; 2 home runs; 5 RBI; a double; and 4 runs scored.  He upped his League leading RBI total yet again to 74 on the season.


Matt Padget went 3 for 3, with two RBI as well.  Ray Navarrete was 3 for 5, with three runs scored.  Bubbie Buzachero pitched the ninth inning earning his 16th save.  Valerio De Los Santos earned the win in relief.  To Joselo Diaz, a welcome no decision..., I'm sure.



As mentioned, that's now five wins in a row for the Ducks and are winners of eight out of their last ten.  They improved their record to 22-7 in the second half and remain 3.5 games in first place ahead of the Bridgeport Bluefish.  They increased their season record to 62-30 overall.  They'll go for the sweep Sunday in Lancaster.



Mike.BTB

Saturday, August 13, 2011

N.Y. Mets ~ Proceed With Caution

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET





NEW YORK METS:    A word to the wise for Mets players down the stretch; Don't Test Terry!

What we have here, is a failure to communicate.  It's something Coach Terry has excelled at so far as manager of the New York Mets.


Dillon Gee; Terry Collins; and Dan Warthen (just because) apparently are not pitching off the same mound.  Coach Terry was perturbed about Dillon Gee's failure to throw his curve ball last night.  He was as perturbed as he was earlier in the season when he accused his club of being too passive in the batters box and watching too many fastballs go by.  And according to this morning's tabloids, Gee offered no particular reason why he didn't use his curve ball more.  He only hinted that he believes his deuce is only a 0-0 count pitch at this point in his arsenal.  But nonetheless, Coach Terry had a big problem with an over abundance of fastballs, particularly in the first inning.


Good enough.  That's not the problem here.  The problem lies when your manager is expecting one thing and your battery goes ahead and does another.  Stuff like that is either premeditated or lacking any awareness at all...if you follow.  And quite honestly, I'm surprised Josh Thole was complicit as the back-stop.  That's precisely the kind of thing that can trigger the uglier side of Terry Collins.  If you don't think he's straining to comport/restrain himself (versus the old Terry Collins), because of some of the things he sees, think again.  Everyday there is a monster waiting to be unleashed with the right stimulation.  We haven't gotten there yet.  Coach Terry has taken a very cerebral approach to himself, and containing the monster through a daily process.


Coach Terry will be damned if he's going to let this team end the season flat-footed.  That's what we can expect from him.  But is this team still going to play with the same hunger and grit after Labor Day?  We'll see about that.


But I know this much, having a kid like Dillon Gee offer no answers for his manager when questioned about his curve ball, then waking up to see a big story in the tabloids this morning about how the manager's appointed pack leader; Mike Pelfrey; never thought the Mets would amount to anything this season may be just enough to purge the pump before Coach Terry starts spewing out sternly worded corrections for any player who seemingly might be wandering astray from his pack.


I have this feeling Terry will manage the last six weeks of the season like a crazed dog and as if they were the most important six weeks of his life.  Help the player who doesn't fall in line with his credo down the stretch.  Worse yet, let one of these young kids dog it to first base or show lack of interest.


Organizational priorities shift for a team in a position like the Mets over the last six weeks of a season.  I hope these players recognize that.  Sandy Alderson really hasn't put his thumb prints on the organization yet but he will no doubt start leaving an impression shortly.  And it's probably within the player's hands to ensure he doesn't come down with a heavy hand this off-season.


So my advise for some is to fall in line if you had any inclination of loosing your bearing or get squashed.




Mike.BTB

BKN Cyclones ~ Saturday Night Fever

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE



BROOKLYN CYCLONES


Tonight, They Play For a Piece of the Wild Card Lead.


The Cyclones are making their move on the Staten Island Yankees via Ohio.  They are now just 4.5 games behind the McNamara Division leaders.  And with last night's victory over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the Brooklyn Cyclones are now just one game away from tying the Scrappers for the Wild Card lead.  The Williamsport Crosscutters still have a say in the Wild Card race as they sit just one half game behind Mahoning Valley entering today's games.


McNAMARA DIVISION
1) - Staten Island Yankees...35-19   .648    -
2) - Brooklyn Cyclones.........31-24   .564   4.5 GB

WILD CARD
1) - Mahoning Valley Scrappers   32-23   -
2) - Williamsport Crosscutters       31-23   0.5  GB
3) - BROOKLYN CYCLONES          31-24   1.0  GB

In the last weekend before the NY-PL All-Star Game break, game one of a three game series against the Ohio Nine goes to Brooklyn.  The Cyclones loaded up with three runs in the fifth inning and four more in the eighth, en route to a 10-6 final over Mahoning Valley Friday night.

One of our newest Cyclone signings and native New Yorker hailing out of the Bronx; T.J. Rivera; helped the Surf Avenue Sluggers out-hit Mahoning Valley by going 4 for 5, with a double and two runs scored in only his fourth game wearing Bum Threads.  Richard Lucas and Ismael Tijerina each had two RBI on the night.

 
Cole Frenzel doubled in the second inning to score Charles Thurber.  Then, Mahoning Valley allowed the Cyclones to score a run in the third on a wild pitch.  Richard Lucas tripled in the fifth inning; driving home his two RBI, and Mahoning Valley allowed the Cyclones to score another run off another wild pitch in the fifth inning.  The Cyclones picked up one in the sixth on Ismael Tijerina's sac-bunt which scored Travis Taijeron.

 
A four run eighth inning capped the game off for the Cyclones.  Two more Scrapper's wild pitches  allowed two more runs to score. As a matter of fact, Mahoning Valley uncorked a multitude of wild pitches throughout the game, and utterly handicapped themselves in the eighth in particular.  RBI by Travis Taijeron and T.J. Rivera finished off the Scrappers for the night.

WILD TIME TONIGHT!

BROOKLYN CYCLONES
vs.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers

From
Somewhere in Ohio


Mike.BTB

Friday, August 12, 2011

L.I. Ducks ~ Continue to Roll in Lancaster

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED FEET NINE





LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Win Again, But the Ducks Officially Have Problems Now.  Shane Youman is Headed to the Far East!

Ducks' pitcher Shane Youman's contract was purchased by a pro team from Taiwan back on August 10th...  Forgive me for being coy, but......., Really?


Really?


That makes Ducks' starting pitcher number three to have their contract purchased this season.  Lenny DiNardo was first at the very beginning of the season.  After the All-Star break, Mike Parisi was the next to go.  Even though the Ducks continued to roll along without Parisi, make no mistake, losing him was a huge blow.  And now losing Shane Youman, who had stepped up so marvelously, has to be considered a devastating blow.


In Mike Parisi's absence, veteran pitcher Shane Youman stepped in and established himself as the Ducks' most reliable and best starter behind Mike Loree.  In thirteen games pitched and seven starts for the Ducks this season, he dazzled opponents with a minuscule 0.66 ERA on his way to a 7-1 record.  In 54.1 innings pitched, he gave up thirty-nine hits and only walked nine batters while striking out forty-six.  Four earned runs were all he allowed during his time pitching for Long Island this season.  He did an incredible job.


So how do the Ducks manage the loss of two very key pitchers having very good seasons?  Their starting staff is paper thin now.  And as of this moment, I can only think a short series in the playoffs now presents one hell of a problem for Long Island.  If the bullpen has been masterful so far, now they will be called upon to be damn-near perfect the rest of the way.


As for Friday night's game against the Barnstormers in Lancaster, it opened a three game series in which the Ducks won game one.  Ray Navarrete hit his team leading 19th home run in the third inning (2-run shot) to knot the game at two.  Lancaster opened the scoring in the first inning with two runs.


Matt Esquivel doubled home Javier Colina and John Rodriguez in the sixth inning for a 4-2 lead.  Lancaster got one back in the seventh.  But the Ducks' lead held up.


If the Ducks' suddenly have pitching problems, Friday's starter; Mark Diapoulis; didn't seem to be listening.  He kept the Ducks swimming along with 6.2 strong innings pitched.  Lancaster got six hits and three earned runs off him.  He walked two and struck out four en route to winning his sixth game of the season against just one loss.


Jeremy Hill and Ehrin Wassermann combined to close out the game against the Barnstormers.  Wassermann earned his ninth save of the season.




Mike.BTB

L.I. Ducks ~ SIXTY

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



LONG ISLAND DUCKS: The Webbed Nine Are Turning Back All Comers.

As they sit atop the Liberty Division in the second-half of the Atlantic League season, the Long Island Ducks are the first team to reach twenty wins.  They also happen to be the first team to win sixty games this season.  At thirty games over .500, the Ducks now sport a record of 60-30 which is by far a League best.


The Ducks continue to take on all comers and keep turning them away.  This time it was the surging Bridgeport Bluefish; surging until they faced the Ducks, that is.  The Ducks dropped Bridgeport to third place and 3.5 games behind them in the second-half standings by completing a three game series sweep out in Bethpage Park.


Ducks' Ace, Mike Loree, was up to his usual effectiveness Thursday evening.  In seven innings pitched, he allowed nine hits but only one earned run.  He walked one and struck out seven Bluefish on his way to a dreaded no-decision.  Both starting pitchers engaged in a seven inning pitcher's duel leaving the score tied heading into the eighth.


Dan Lyons singled home Matt Esquivel in the second inning giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead until Bridgeport tied the game in the seventh off Loree.  But then with three runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Ducks put this game far enough out of Bridgeport's reach.  With the bases loaded, Matt Esquivel doubled home two runs and Kraig Binick drove in another run with a sac-fly, for a 4-2 Long Island lead and ultimate final.


Although Jeremy Hill allowed Bridgeport's second run of the game, he was credited with Thursday's win; his fourth as a reliever.  Bubbie Buzachero pitched the ninth and secured his fifteenth save of the season.


Not bad....huh?





Mike.BTB

Thursday, August 11, 2011

N.Y. Mets ~ The Long Lost Mets Codex

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


NEW YORK METS:  They Have Embarked On Three Official Rebuilding Processes in Their History.  But Since the 1990's, It Seems to Have Become a Dirty Word In Flushing.  And As a Result, They've Lost Their Way.


After the Mets finished toying with other teams' legacies; finishing last every season; and setting records in embarrassing fashion over their first few years of existence, Joe McDonald; Whitey Herzog; Bing Devine; Johnny Murphy; and a host of respected scouts set about on a concerted effort to procure and develop skilled prospects.  Adherence to their plan of minor league development garnered names like Jerry Koosman; Tug McGraw; Bud Harrelson; Cleon Jones; Nolan Ryan; Gary Gentry; and others.  With a little bit of luck landing Tom Seaver and some key acquisitions along the way, the Mets parlayed their efforts into a Championship.


Retooled with some new young players and savvy pick-ups like Felix Millan; Rusty Staub; John Milner; and Jon Matlack; the Mets almost pulled off another World Series victory in 1973; falling short by one game against the A's.


But by 1975-76, the Mets recognized age was creeping up on them.  Newer, younger players, like John Stearns; Lee Mazzilli; Craig Swan; and Mike Vail were starting a transition toward youth.  Then in 1977, Tom Seaver demanded a trade out of New York because he found his bosses insufferable.  This triggered the full blown jettisoning of the last remnants of the Miracle Mets between 1977-1979 and initiated the second rebuilding of the Mets with a total commitment to the farm system.


However, the decision to totally rebuild the Mets through the farm system for a second time was thwarted by ownership's decision to finally sell the team.  By 1979, the mandate to freeze all expenditures was put in place and Joe McDonald's hands were tied regarding bringing free agents to N.Y. or making trades that would raise payroll.


Before Joe McDonald's work here in Flushing was finished; upon the purchase of the team by the Doubleday/Wilpon group heading into 1980; he drafted and developed a good many number of key components to the 1986 Championship team.  As mentioned, Lee Mazzilli enabled us to get Ron Darling and Walt Terrell.  Terrell in turn got us Howard Johnson.  He drafted Niel Allen who in return brought Kieth Hernandez to Flushing.  He drafted Hubie Brooks who helped land the Mets Gary Carter.  He selected Calvin Schiraldi in 1980 who later was traded for Bobby Ojeda.  He drafted Wally Backman; Mookie Wilson; and Jesse Orosco.  Among those that got away were guys like Mike Scott who was traded for Danny Heep and Jeff Reardon who was traded for Ellis Valentine.


Then, Frank Cashen made his mark with a continued minor league investment and drafted Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.  And of course, give Frank Cashen credit for utilizing what Joe McDonald left behind.  So in retrospect, the two men, through vigorous minor league development, chipped in and built another Championship team for the Mets.


The third time the Mets officially committed to a minor league focused rebuilding effort came in the mid-1990's when Joe McIlvaine was General Manager.  METroplis was in total agreement with the movement.  It was supposed to have been built with Generation-K as it's foundation.  But the movement failed miserably as we know with few people to blame.  But during that time, players were drafted that inevitably landed us Mike Piazza and some components of the 2000 team.

Since then, Rebuilding has become a dirty word in Flushing.  It's become a like a lost codex burned by Spanish Conquistadors.  So what I described winds up being the complete history of the Mets' rebuilding process over the years in the Homeric oral tradition only. 


No time in between the Steve Phillips years to the present has been classified as a clear cut rebuilding process.  Additionally, after David Wright; Jose Reyes; and Scott Kazmir; the well went dry until the current crop of minor leaguers drafted by Omar Minaya started to be called up to the majors over the last two seasons.


I know what Omar Minaya was trying to do.  He was trying to align a transition of the old to new in the years between 2010 through 2012.  He just didn't get to stick around long enough to realize his plan.  Don't forget, we're still watching his blueprints in action.  Aside of jettisoning some parts of Minaya's team, Sandy Alderson is still babysitting Omar's team and grand scheme.  All Omar's contracts were designed to expire within a year or two of each other as his minor league draftees became ready for the majors.  And that is more or less, where we are now.


Sandy Alderson has had one Winter Meeting; An Amateur Draft; and a Trade Deadline thus far.  And we are still wondering what his plan might be.  Does he consider rebuilding a dirty word also?  Does he have something else in store us?  Or will he return to the ancient but proven Met Scriptures like a true renaissance man and REBUILD the Mets?  Can we finally lift the Dark Age stigma imposed on the word Rebuilding?



Mike.BTB

BKN Cyclones ~ Let's Play Two

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE


BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  Bums Take Bite Out of Muckdogs.

The Cyclones and Batavia Muckdogs will take a second crack at playing a twin bill today out in Western New York.  They tried fitting in two games yesterday, but the weather was uncooperative for a second straight day.  They were also rained out Tuesday.


They did manage to get one game in on Wednesday.  And it was all Cyclones.  Brooklyn got on the scoreboard first with four runs in the second inning on a 2-RBI single by Ismael Tijerina, and a 2-RBI double by Javier Rodriguez.


Batavia got two back in the eighth inning.  Then the Cyclones busted out with another five runs in the top of the ninth.  After a Daniel Muno double, Javier Rodriguez singled him home.  Richard Lucas walked and Brian Harrison reached on an E-6 to load the bases.  Travis Taijeron then pummelled a pitch over the right field wall for a grand slam; his 8th home run of the season; to make the score 9-2 Cyclones.


Brooklyn starter, Marcos Camarena, was sweet over 5.2 innings pitched.  He allowed only four hits and no runs.  In his second win of the season, he walked only one batter while striking out six.  The rock-solid Brooklyn bullpen was a little flaky, but finished the job.



DOUBLE-HEADER
First Game  5:05pm
BROOKLYN CYCLONES
vs.
Batavia Muckdogs
From
Western New York




Mike.BTB