Wednesday, October 20, 2021

N.J. Devils: Newark Spoils Seattle Kraken First Visit to Metropolis

From the desk: THE BRICK CITY STYX

TUESDAY
KRAKEN   2
DEVILS     4
FINAL

On Tuesday, the Seattle Kraken made their first-ever visit to the metropolitan area, but it did not go well.

Rookie Dawson Mercer scored five minutes into the game. A little over a minute and a half later, defenseman Damon Severson gave Newark a 2-0 lead on feeds from Jack Hughes and Ryan Graves' second assist of the period.

Seattle scored midway through the second period, but that was answered at 14:48 when Jimmy Vesey beat (G) Joey Daccord on feeds from Andreas Johnsson and Colton White.

The Kraken scored a power-play goal at 14:41 of the third period, but Pavel Zacha put the game out of reach with 0:20 left in regulation.

Newark's centermen joined together on five points and accounted for 18 (54%) of their 33 shots.  Devil defensemen accounted for four points.

Newcomer Jonathan Bernier earns his second win in as many starts.  Signed as a free agent, Bernier goalie stops 27 of 29 shots, and the Devils blocked 17 other attempts and escaped with 4 of 5 penalty kills.

The Devils open the season 2-0-0 at home, their first victory coming against the Blackhawks with four goals scored in each game.



Brooklyn Nets Fail to Buck The Trend in Season Opener at Milwaukee

From the desk: THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH


Look What The Milwaukee Bucks Did to Flatbush, Again!

Going up against Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo, I was somewhat surprised to see Nicolas Claxton starting over, say, LaMarcus Aldridge, James Johnson, and/or Paul Millsap.

That's not a criticism of Claxton, who scored twelve points with seven rebounds in 24 minutes.  With so many new faces, this team still is learning how to play alongside one another.  Therefore, Claxton has seniority and lineup experience.  So, I'm not begrudging Coach Nash's decision.

However, the trio of Aldridge, Johnson, and Millsap joined together for a grand total of two points, three assists, and six rebounds, with none on the offensive boards.  Meanwhile, Giannis finished tied with a game-high 32 points and led the floor with 14 rebounds.  Said another way, Antetokounmpo outscored all players mentioned above by five points and outrebounded them by one.

The game result was the Nets getting outrebounded by a factor of ten.  Milwaukee secured 13 offensive rebounds and 54 boards overall.  A microcosm of Brooklyn's interior play was Antetokounmpo pulling down five offensive boards, which matched the entire Nets team.  Otherwise, defensive rebounds were almost equal, but possession was far from that.  Throw in twelve turnovers and Milwaukee attempted 21 more shots than Brooklyn.

Kevin Durant canceled out Giannis with 32 points of his own and eleven defensive rebounds.  James Harden and Kris Middleton cancel each other out with 20 points apiece.  Claxton and Jrue Holiday also canceled each other out.  Patty Mills scored 21 points in 29 minutes, while Pat Connaughton scored 20 points in 30 minutes, both coming off the bench.

Afterwhich, the scales favored the Bucks, who had six players scoring in double-digits while the Nets had four.  Milwaukee got 15 points off the bench from Jordan Nwora, and Grayson Allen added ten.  Joe Harris picked up where he left off with nine points in a team-high 31 minutes (yeah, that's a dig), and Blake Griffin was limited to six points in 23 minutes.

James Harden distributed a game-high eight assists, but the Bucks did a better job overall with 25 team assists versus 19 for the Nets.

But the true listlessness of Brooklyn's season-opening game was punctuated by 13/23 (56.5%) from the free-throw line.  On a side note, Giannis was afforded nine opportunities from the line, but Durant and Harden together were limited to ten.

Tuesday's opener indeed brings interior defense, physicality, and other more outstanding issues into the spotlight, but this was only game one.  Coach Nash still needs time to reestablish a cohesive rotation. 

Thus, all other criticisms are at this moment put on hold.  



L.I. Ducks: Home Run Happy Lexington Legends Clinch Atlantic League Championship

From the desk: THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
vs.


Lexington Left Fielder Courtney Hawkins Hits Three Home Runs in Rout of Ducks; Legends Clinch 2021 Atlantic League Championship

Faced with elimination and surrendering their claim to the Atlantic League title, the Ducks entrust Joe Iorio with starting Game Four against right-hander Zac Westcott for the Legends.  

But the Long Island native is walloped early and often by Lexington - too early for Wally Backman to make a move, and too late for all intent and purpose as the Legends explode for thirteen runs and deposit seven baseballs beyond the outfield wall.

The Legends promptly jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on back-to-back home runs by left fielder Courtney Hawkins and first baseman Denis Phipps.  

Long Island gets one back.  Left fielder L.J. Mazzilli leads off the second inning with a single and later scored on Chris Shaw's base hit to center field.  

But the Legends answer right back in the bottom of the frame.  Joe Iorio yeilds consecutive singles, and with one out, right fielder Ben Aklinski hits the Legends' third home run of the game.  Second baseman
Brandon Phillips then drives in the inning's fourth run for a 6-1 lead.

Joe Iorio exits the game after pitching a scoreless third.  He allows six earned runs on eight hits, including three home runs, and one walk.  

Duck right-hander Anderson DeLeon fares no better.  Lexington's lineup greets him with consecutive singles leading off the home fourth and a three-run home run off the bat of Courtney Hawkins, his second of the game.  Not yet done, designated hitter Ben Revere hits a one-out home run to deep right/center field, Lexington's fifth home run of the game for a 10-1 lead.

With one out in the top of the fifth, Boog Powell takes first base on a hit-by-pitch and later scores on Steve Lombardozzi's sacrifice fly.  

Right-hander Brendan Feldmann holds Lexington scoreless in the bottom half of the frame.

Leading off the home fifth inning, Courtney Hawkins hits his third home run of the game!  Then with one out and a runner on first, shortstop Roberto Baldoquín hits the Legends' seventh home run of the game giving Lexington an insurmountable 13-2 lead and their ultimate margin of victory.

The Ducks split the first two games at Long Island.  Afterwhich, the Legends take two straight at home.

After winning back-to-back titles in the South Atlantic League, the Lexington Legends in ther first season in the Atlantic League are 2021 champions.



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Brooklyn Nets Tenth Season On Flatbush Avenue Begins

From the desk: THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

YEAR TEN

Year Nine ended with the franchise's highest ever NBA winning percentage.  Otherwise, the Long Island Nets sandwiched a franchise-best .690 win percentage in between two ABA championships.

There are several obvious reasons why I believe today the Nets are not defending NBA champions.  I suspect James Harden's early-season conditioning at Houston caught up to him after seizing the point position in Brooklyn.  I still believe Kyrie Irving (sprained ankle) was undercut during the conference semifinals by Giannis Antetokounmpo and because Kevin Durant has big feet.

That last part was said by Kevin Durant in jest, but the upcoming 2021-2022 season is no joking matter.  As the doors swing open for Barclays Center's tenth NBA season, Sean Marks has a small window of opportunity.  Kevin Durant recently signed a four-year extension.  But James Harden had until Monday, October 18, 2021, to pick up the option on his contract and (for a known amount) extend his time on Flatbush Avenue through the 2023-2024 season.  News of his decision is pending.  Harden otherwise becomes a free agent at the end of this season, although he already expressed a desire to stay in Brooklyn.

Speaking of decisions, let me be clear: my opinion about Kyrie Irving doesn't matter.  Whatever Sean Marks says and does is where I stand.  In strict basketball terms, I'm only interested in uniformed players.  I'll embrace his presence if and when he returns to the floor.  Otherwise, ya can't begrudge people for their personal beliefs.  

I'm more interested in who or how many it takes to fill the void.  Sean Marks imported a lot of new faces.  But my attention remains frustratingly fixated on one person in particular.  Without going through the whole rigmarole, I'll pick up with last season's playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks:

  1. After just 0:43 seconds into Game One, the Nets lost James Harden.  With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving still on the floor, Joe Harris stepped up with 19 points and a +6 in 34:18 minutes.
  2. James Harden is out in Game Two.  With Durant and Kyrie on the floor, Joe Harris added 13 points and +25 in 30:20 minutes.
  3. Harden likewise misses Game Three.  But Joe Harris scored just 3 points with a -11 in 36:38 minutes.
  4. After spending just 17:17 minutes on the floor, the Nets lose Kyrie Irving in Game Four to an ankle injury - out for the series.  With Harden and Irving both out, Joe Harris scored 8 points with a -17 in 38:04 minutes.
  5. A compromised James Harden returns in Game Five and continues playing out the series.  Joe Harris contributed a mere 5 points with a +3 in 37:02 minutes.
  6. In Game Six, Joe Harris scored 9 points with a -25 in 36:27 minutes.
  7. In the decisive Game Seven, Joe Harris scored ten points with a -1 in 46:55 minutes.

... and this is my problem.  Over the final five games when the Nets needed Joe Harris to step up most, he averaged just 7 points and a -10 in 39:12 minutes.  I'm not entertaining a particular shot he may have made or his celebrated shooting percentage from three.  With James Harden or Kyrie Irving out of action, sometimes both at the same time, Joe Cool went ice cold.  Now, 30-years old, entering his sixth season with the Nets, he is essentially faced with the same situation and circumstances ...

... except for the off-season and those vying for his playing time.

In July, Sean Marks, with the 27th overall selection in the 2021 draft, selected guard Cam Thomas out of LSU.   Marks signed free agent Patty Mills and DeAndre' Bembry in August.  Mills won a championship with the 2014 San Antonio Spurs and has averaged 10.0 points in 23.1 minutes, playing primarily off Gregg Popovich's bench for the last six seasons.  Sean Marks also traded Landry Shamet to the Phoenix Suns for 26-year old point guard Jevon Carter and center Day'Ron Sharpe.

LaMarcus Aldridge played in just five games upon last season's acquisition.  He last participated in a regular-season game on April 10 and soon after was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat forcing him into retirement.  If the 36-year old is indeed feeling up to the task, he can be a tremendous asset on defense.  LaMarcus played in three of four preseason games, and in the finale against Minnesota, scored 16 points in 24 minutes off the bench.  He was 4/8 from the field and a perfect 8/8 from the line.  Newcomers and fellow 36-year old Paul Millsap, James Johnson, and returnees Nicolas Claxton and Blake Griffin together should ably handle the four and five spots.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Bruce Brown.  He, above and beyond every complimentary player discussed here, can perhaps best recover potential points lost in Kyrie Irving's absence.  In his first season upon his acquisition from Detroit, Brown averaged 8.8 points in 22.3 minutes through 65 of Brooklyn's 72 games.  

But that doesn't nearly tell the whole story.  Brown scored 20-plus points three times with a season-high 29 points in February against Sacramento and scored double-digit points 24 other times.  Bruce Brown finished the season very strong.  Thirteen of 27 total double-digit performances came in his first 40 games, whereas 14 came in his last 25 regular-season games.  Meanwhile, five of his six double-double efforts occurred in his last eleven regular-season games.  Hopefully, there's more of that to come.

With Kevin Durant and James Harden leading the way, this team absolutely can bring an NBA championship to Flatbush.

So, here we go ... let's do this.  Hopefully, year ten will be the best season of all.

Go, Brooklyn.



L.I. Ducks: Late Rally Gives Lexington Legends 2-1 Championship Series Lead

From the desk: THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
vs.


Failure to Convert Early Inning Opportunities Comes Back to Haunt Ducks; Legends Seize 2-1 Series Lead With Eighth Inning Rally

With Lexington, Kentucky, hosting their first-ever Atlantic League championship series game, Game Three pits right-hander Scott Harkin for Long Island against J.J. Hoover pitching for the Legends.

SCORING OPPORTUNITIES LOST

The Ducks threaten early but keep coming up empty.  They load the bases in the first but leave all runners stranded.  Catcher Hector Sanchez doubles with one out in the second and advances to third but is also left stranded.  Then with two outs in the third and Vladimir Frias, the base runner at second, L.J. Mazzilli singled to left field, but Frias is thrown out at home attempting to score.

As fate would have it, Lexington opens the scoring on catcher Christian Correa's home run leading off the bottom half of the third.

DUCKS TWICE OVERCOME DEFICIT

After getting set down in the fourth, center fielder Boog Powell ties the game in the fifth with his second home run of the playoffs.

But Lexington retakes the lead with two runs in the home sixth on a walk, a fielder's choice, a wild pitch, and Juan Silverio's two-run base hit.

Scott Harkin exits on the losing side after allowing three runs on four hits and three walks with six strikeouts through six.  Meanwhile, J.J. Hoover leaves on the winning side, allowing one run on just four hits and two walks through six innings.

Long Island's Dylan Peiffer and Henry Owens for Lexington twirl a scoreless seventh.

With two outs in the eighth, L.J. Mazzilli singles, and Deibinson Romero ties the game with a two-run blast to left field.

BULLPEN IMPLOSION

Wally Backman turns to Frank Moscatiello, who pitched well in Game Two for the bottom of the eighth.  After retiring his first two batters, Moscatiello walks the next batter prompting another change by Backman.  But Wally's maneuverings backfire.  Southpaw Darrell Thompson yields three consecutive hits as the Legends plate three runs en route to a 6-3 lead and the final margin of victory.

Frank Moscatiello takes the loss for walking the potential go-ahead run.  Scott Harkin escapes with a no-decision.  Henry Owens earns the victory in relief of Hoover, and Austin Adams earns his second save.

Monday, October 18, 2021

N.Y. Giants: A Big Boo! Mess

From the desk: DO IT FOR THE DUKE

 
NEW YORK CITY FAN ORDINANCE #1925
IF THEY CAN'T BOO, YOU CAN'T HAVE THIS!

BOO! MOON ... You Saw Me Standing Alone, Without a Dream in My Heart, Without a Winner of My Own (Ba-Bom-A-Bom-Bom...)

Leonard Williams tapped into his inner Francisco Lindor (NYM) to complain about the home crowd booing the Giants.  

To his credit, he has three sacks in six games and registered 1.5 sacks and two other QB hits on Sunday.  In fact, his solo sack and assist came on third down plays.  

However, the defense has now yielded 82 points over the last two games.  The Giants entered Sunday's game a week after allowing an opponent forty-plus points for the first time in the Gettleman era.  They presently average 1.7 sacks per game, fourth-least in the NFL - Williams included.

Instead, I prefer that Leonard worries about playing football and leaves the cheering and booing to the fans who've been doing this for one hundred years.  This is New York, and he should know better after playing here now entering his sixth year - you're never gonna win the battle against the fans.  As an athlete, ya just gotta suck it up and play.  

The question begs to be asked: what is there to cheer?

Fans are the ones paying money to watch this team post seven losing seasons in the last nine, and who again are suffering through a 1-5 start.  Said another way, Leonard Williams completed his 28th game with the Giants, whereas fans are now in their tenth season of this ongoing futility.  

That's exactly 150 games, my friend.

J  -  E  -  T  -  S
Just Enjoy This Side 
of MetLife Stadium!



N.Y. Giants: Judge Renders A Bad Decision

From the desk: DO IT FOR THE DUKE

DARK BLUE DAYS AHEAD

WEEK SIX
Rams        38
GIANTS     11
FINAL

Coaches Continue Putting Daniel Jones In Harm's Way  

Last week Jason Garrett put Daniel Jones in harm's way by calling a goal-line naked bootleg without left tackle Andrew Thomas on the field.  The result was Daniel Jones winding up in concussion protocol.  On Sunday, Coach Judge leaves Daniel Jones in a game trailing the Rams by 28-points after three quarters.  Both were bad decisions, only this time, the head coach escapes without incident.  

Joe Judge said he left Jones in the game for the sake of competing.  What he really did was make Daniel Jones attempt 51 inconsequential passes, all for no good reason.  It was a nice gesture, but with this offensive line, still somewhat foolish.  

Nate Solder was moved over to the left side in place of Andrew Thomas.  That's a threefold problem.  He already needs help from the tight end and backfield just to secure the right side.  It's problematic for Jason Garrett, who must cheat on formations and play call around Solder's inefficiencies.  In turn, it makes the Giants' offense very predictable.  If Nate Solder is switching over to the quarterback's blind side, you do not play Daniel Jones in a meaningless fourth quarter - not after Solder allowed a sack on the Giants' very first play from scrimmage.

Look, the Giants do not have an NFL grade tight end, period.  Argue with me if you will.  Saquon Barkley is out, and they played without Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay as well.  Kadarius Toney injured his ankle during the Giants' first offensive series, and Andrew Thomas was likewise injured. 

If Joe Judge wanted to do something constructive, he should have turned to his offensive coordinator and told him to rush the freaking ball no matter the outcome.  Devontae Booker rushed twelve times for 41 yards, and Elijhaa Penny three times for 15 yards.  Together they averaged 2.7 yards per attempt.  All told, the Giants rushed 15 times for 55 yards.  However, Booker averaged 3.4 yards per rush - that's worth a potential first down.  How is that any worse than three INTs, a fumble, and 22 incomplete passes?  Not to mention, Daniel Jones was coming off concussion protocol and, in the game, absorbed unnecessary hits.  

Wrong decision by the head coach.



N.Y. Rangers: First Line Front and Center at Montreal

From the desk: RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS

FIRST WIN

With Injuries to Kappo Kakko and Ryan Strome, First Line Must Carry Rangers

It can now be said the Ranger season is underway.  It took three games, but they went from blowout to overtime loss to victory.

Coach Gallant's first line contributed four points towards the victory.  Chris Kreider opened the scoring on a power play midway through the second period on feeds from Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox.  After Montreal tied the game at one in the third period, Alexis Lafreniere answered just 0:26 seconds later on assists by Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin.

The first line (Kreider-Zibanejad-Lafreniere) accounted for 13 (54%) of the Rangers' 24 shots on goal.  Chris Kreider scored his third goal,  Zibanejad picked up his third assist, and Lafreniere scored in front of his home area crowd.

It's too early in the season for me to start wrangling over Mika Zibanejad's first-line qualifications.  We knew early last season he was recovering from a bout with COVID.  To what degree that affected his season-long play, we will not know.  All we can do is compare this season's performance against the previous two campaigns.  In the meantime, the Rangers demonstrated their faith in him with a lucrative contract.  To that point, three points in three games is an excellent way to start proving one's worth.

Chris Kreider is a car of another stable.  Like Zibanejad, he has three points through the first three games, all goals.  Are we now to expect a long drought of pointless games?  Because that's what his career trends suggest.  

Last season Kreider posted twenty goals and ten assists in fifty games.  He scored three goals through the first 15 games, then caught fire with eight goals over his next six games, giving him eleven goals through the season's first 21 games.  Kreider then finished out the season with seven goals and 15 points in his last 29 games.  He scored just three points in eleven games in one late-season stretch from March 27 through April 15. 

If and when someone impacts this team with sustained, tangible, and meaningful leadership, then you sew the C on their sweater.  Until then, I agree with Coach Gallant: let these guys keep having to prove themselves.

  • Kappo Kakko sustained an upper-body injury in the first period and was placed on the injured reserve list, and Ryan Strome is still in concussion protocol.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

PIGSKIN 2021: WEEK SIX


PIGSKIN
FOOTBALL SUNDAY
Week Six

RESULTS

SCOREBOARD
Week Five Record: 7-6-1
Overall Record (ATS): 32-34-2
Schmear of the Week: 4-1
Bagels in the Basket: +5


1st and Ten
  • Arizona stands alone as the NFL's undefeated team and added 3-time Pro Bowl TE Zach Ertz from Philly.
  • However, the Cardinals head coach and GM test positive for COVID; be well!

2nd and Long
  • The Cheifs are stuck at two wins.
  • Rich Bisaccia named Raiders interim coach.
  • Three second-place teams with losing records.

No Gain
  • Jacksonville and Detroit remain without a win.
  • Week Six is no time for a BYE, but the Jets can really use it.
  • Geno Smith is back in the saddle again.
  • PITT JuJu Smith-Schuster out for the season.

PUNT!
  • The fact John Gruden deservingly got fired (quit) is his own folly.  He deserves what he got.  However, the conspiracy involving the NFL leaking emails and their reluctance to pry into Washington's business is another.

WEEK SIX
Friday Line ~ MGM/NYP

Rams -9 1/2 GIANTS
The Giants have too much to overcome.  Rams are coming off extra rest.  I can see Aaron Darnold wreaking havoc in the Giant backfield.
WIN; 38-11 Rams

Dolphins -3 Jaguars *LONDON
The Jags have lost twenty in a row ... Tua is back in the lineup.  Odds say Jacksonville is bound to win, but I just can't go there - not with the head coach nonsense going on there.
Loss; 23-20 Jaguars o.t.

Packers -5 Bears
The Packers are giving up a lot of points, something the Bears have trouble scoring.  I respect the Bears' defense, but it's not gonna be enough against the Packers.
WIN; 24-14 Packers

Bengals -3 1/2 LIONS
The Lions will make this closer than I would like.  The Bengals are just more dynamic, whereas the Lions are playing yawn-inducing football.
WIN; 34-11 Bengals

COLTS -10 Texans
It's high time the Colts got their crap together.  Houston is the right team for the Colts to finally get on track.
WIN; 31-3 Colts

Chiefs -7 WASHINGTON
This is gonna be one ugly game.  But whereas the Chiefs seem to know what they're doing, Washington appears utterly clueless.
WIN; 31-13 Chiefs

PANTHERS +1 Vikings
Dalvin Cook keeps running on a bad ankle.  I like the Panthers defense stifling what run game the Vikings do generate.  Christian McCaffrey is still out, so this is up to Sam Darnold.
Loss; 34-28 Vikings o.t.

Chargers +2 1/2 RAVENS
I like the Chargers' defense to slow down the Ravens, who aren't running the ball as well as they used to.  If the Bolts end the game with a field goal ... win!
Loss; 34-6 Ravens

Cardinals +3 BROWNS
Kyler Murray vs. Baker Mayfield ... The Cardinals are flying high while the Browns are dealing with bumps, bruises, and injuries.
WIN; 37-14 Cardinals

BRONCOS -3 1/2 Raiders
I like the matchups and the Broncos at home.  They play the Raiders tough.
Loss; 34-24 Raiders

Cowboys -3 1/2 PATRIOTS
This is a week when the Cowboys remind everyone the Patriots are a rebuilding team.
WIN; 35-29 Cowboys

STEELERS -5 Seahawks
JuJu Smith-Schuster is out, but their defense is still good.  I just can't get myself to rally 'round Geno Smith and Seattle's suspect defense.
Loss; 23-20 Steelers


Schmear of the Week
Colts -10
WIN


POST-GAME
Week Six Record: 7-5
Overall Record (ATS): 39-39-2
Schmear of the Week: 5-1
Bagels in the Basket: +10


Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday!




L.I. Ducks: Flock Takes Game Two; Series Shifts to Lexington Knotted at One Apiece

From the desk: THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
vs.


Ducks Bullpen Silences Legends Over Final Six Innings While Bats Mount Comeback; Series Tied at One

Game Two features right-hander Francisco Jimenez for Lexington facing off against Darin Downs for host Long Island.

Downs gets himself into immediate trouble but pitches out of harm's way.  Lexington opens the game with consecutive singles, and after a pop-up, Downs walks the bases loaded.  Afterwhich, Downs induces an infield pop-up and strikes out catcher Christian Correa to end the threat.

Center fielder Boog Powell homers over the left/center field fence leading off the home first.  Shortstop
Vladimir Frias follows with a double, and Steve Lombardozzi singles putting runners at the corners.  The ageless Lew Ford drives home Frias, and with L.J. Mazzilli at the plate, Lombardozzi scores on a wild pitch.  Mazzilli then walks, and Deibinson Romero singles to reload the bases.  However, Chris Shaw bounces to first for a 3-2-3 double-play.  But Sal Giardina picks up his mate with a base hit, scoring Mazzilli for a 4-0 Duck lead.

Lexington answers back in the second.  With the bases loaded, Brandon Phillips singles home a run. Deibinson Romero's error at third then leads to a pair of runs, and a sacrifice fly plates the game-tying run. 

Lexington starter Francisco Jimenez was removed after the first inning, and Wally Backman pulled Darin Downs after the second.

Boog Powell draws a leadoff walk in the home second, and Vladimir Frias follows with his second double of the game.  Lombardozzi's sac-fly scores Powell from third as the Ducks retake a 5-4 lead.

Facing reliever Brady Dragmire in the third, the Legends score three times, highlighted by Brandon Phillips' two-run home run, for a 7-5 Legend lead.

Dragmire tosses a scoreless top half of the fourth, and the defending champions then begin chipping away.  A Brandon Phillips error leads to a pair of unearned runs in the home fourth, Chris Shaw drives home a run in the fifth, and L.J. Mazzilli knocks home a run in the sixth for a 9-7 Duck lead.

Long Island's bullpen keeps Lexington scoreless over the final six innings.  Relievers Frankie Moscatiello and Rob Griswold join together in limiting the Legends to just one hit and no walks with four strikeouts over the last 4.1 innings of the game.  Moscatiello tosses 2.1 innings for the win, and Griswold completes a six-out save.

  • Vladimir Frias; 5 for 5, 2 runs scored.
  • Lew Ford; 2 for 5, 2 RBI.
  • Ducks Pitching: 10 strikeouts, 4 walks.

Long Island salvages a split at The Pond and now will head to Lexington, Kentucky, where on Monday, the series resumes.  The Ducks need to win two of three games to retain their Atlantic League title.  Former members of the South Atlantic League, the Lexington Legends, are vying for their first Atlantic League championship.  Like the Ducks, Lexington in 2019 captured the Sally League flag.




Saturday, October 16, 2021

Talking Gil Hodges and the Hall of Fame with Baseball & BBQ Podcast

From the desk: BASEBALL BBQ with JEFF & LEN
 





Brooklyn Trolley Blogger meets Baseball BBQ: 

My humble thanks and appreciation to Len and Jeff for inviting me onto their podcast to discuss Gil Hodges, his ongoing prominence in Brooklyn, and hopeful enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn



 

L.I. Ducks: Lexington Legends Take Game One of Championship Series at The Pond

From the desk: THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
vs.

Lexington Legends Bullpen Lockdown Ducks

Game One features New Jersey native Eli Garcia toeing the rubber for Lexington against right-hander
Brendan Feldmann for the Ducks.  Both pitchers are knocked out of the box early.  Garcia fails to make it out of the third, and Feldmann is relieved in the fourth.

Lexington opens with single runs in the first and second innings.  Legend left fielder Courtney Hawkins
homered in the first.  Two hits and a hit by pitch loaded the bases in the second, and a sac-fly gave Lexington a 2-0 lead.  

Long Island catcher Hector Sanchez singles opening the home third, and a pair of walks issued to Ty Kelly and Boog Powell loaded the bases.  With one out, Steve Lombardozzi's sac-fly to right field scores Sanchez.  Left fielder Lew Ford singles on a comebacker and advances two bases on an errant throw to first; both Kelly and Powell score.  Right-fielder L.J. Mazzilli then singles home Ford for a 4-2 Ducks lead.

But Long Island's lead is fleeting.

Brendan Feldmann surrenders a leadoff double, followed by two consecutive walks to load the bases in the top of the fourth.  Wally Backman then summons Anderson DeLeon from the bullpen, who promptly unleashes a wild pitch allowing home a run.  A second run crosses home on a sac-fly, tying the game at four.  Both runs are charged to Feldmann.

The Lexington bullpen shuts out the Ducks, beginning in the fourth through eighth innings.  Meanwhile, the Legends bunch together three hits and benefit from a throwing error resulting in two runs in the sixth, then tack on their seventh run in the eighth.

Trailing 7-4 entering the home ninth, Boog Powell draws a leadoff walk, and shortstop Vladimir Frias singles putting runners at the corners.  Steve Lombardozzi looks at strike three, and Lew Ford goes down swinging.  L.J. Mazzilli walks to load the bases, after which Deibinson Romero draws yet another walk to force home Powell from third.  With two outs and the bases still jammed with Ducks, designated hitter Chris Shaw lifts a ball deep into the right/center gap chased down and caught by center fielder Cole Sturgeon for the game's final out.

Four members of Lexington's bullpen join together in limiting the Ducks to one run on five hits and five walks with three strikeouts over the final 6.1 innings.  Shawn Blackwell earns the win in relief of Garcia, and Austin Adams earns a troublesome save, but a save nonetheless.

Duck right-hander Dylan Peiffer takes the loss.




Friday, October 15, 2021

Once Upon A Summer 10/15/1918: John Donaldson Leaves For Home in Kansas City

From the desk: DEM BARNSTORMERS & THE DONALDSON NETWORK



On Tuesday, October 15, 1918, the 28-year old Midwestern star John Donaldson sets back for home in Kansas City, where he soon becomes a founding member of the Kansas City Monarchs.  In fact, Donaldson suggested the team name to owner J.L. Wilkinson who in his later years would say the southpaw was the greatest pitcher colored or white he's ever seen.

Before his playing career ended in the 1940s, John Donaldson achieved over 400 verified wins, over 5,000 verified strikeouts, pitches 14 no-hitters and two perfect games, and twice struck out 30 batters in a single game.  

In 1949, he became major league baseball's first colored full-time talent scout for the Chicago White Sox.  

Please, delve deeper into his brilliant career at The Donaldson Network, spread the word, and let's together help this man gain the recognition he deserves with enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  

I offer my humblest thanks and appreciation to the Network for personally helping me put together this Once Upon A Summer Series and presenting John Donaldson's season with the Royal Giants to baseball fans here in Brooklyn and afar.

I'll be following up with a podcast soon joined by Donaldson Network founder Peter Gorton and Negro baseball historian/author Phil Dixon.  Stay tuned; you surely don't want to miss that.


... AND JOHN DONALDSON



ONCE UPON A SUMMER 1918: JOHN DONALDSON'S LONE SEASON WITH THE BROOKLYN ROYAL GIANTS

LHP - JOHN DONALDSON'S PITCHING RECORD w/ BROOKLYN:
  1. 6/30/1918 - (L) 9 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 2 W, 2 K (Lincoln Giants; Olympic Field)
  2. 7/4/1918 - (W) 9 innings, 0 RUNS, 5 hits, 1 W, 6 K (Cuban Stars; Dexter Park)
  3. 7/7/1918 - (L) 9 innings, 3 runs, 9 hits, 2 W, 2 K (Lincoln Giants; Olympic Field)
  4. 7/14/1918 - (W) 9 innings, 1 run, 7 hits, 1 W, 5 K (Bushwick; Dexter Park)
  5. 7/16/1918 - (W) 9 innings, 4 runs, 14 hits, (?) W, 6 K (Atlantic City; Bacharach Park, N.J.)
  6. 7/21/1918 - (L) 9 innings, 6 runs, 10 hits, 4 W, 1 K (Cuban Stars; Dexter Park)
  7. 7/28/1918 - (L) 9 innings, 9 runs, 16 hits, 2 W, 3 K (Silk Sox; Doherty's Oval, N.J.)
  8. 8/11/1918 - (W) 9 innings, 2 runs, 13 hits, (?) W, (?) K (Lincoln Giants; Olympic Field)
  9. 8/18/1918 - (L) 9 innings, 5 runs, 5 hits, (?) W, 4 K (Tietjen & Lang; Nurge's Field, N.J.)
  10. 8/24/1918 - (L) 9 innings, 8 runs, 19 hits, 1 W, 2 K (Morse Dry Dock; Brooklyn)
  11. 9/1/1918 - (L) 9 innings, 4 runs, 14 hits, (?) W, (?) K (Lincoln Giants; Olympic Field)
  12. 9/2/1918 - (L) 2 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 W, 1 K (Cuban Stars; Dexter Park)
  13. 9/4/1918 - (W) 9 innings, 6 runs, 7 hits, (?) W, (?) K (Camp Mills; Garden City, N.Y.)
  14. 9/14/1918 - (W) No game account vs. Tietjen and Lang Ship Club (Nurge's Field, N.J.)
  15. 9/22/1918 - (L) 9 innings, 7 runs, 10 hits, (?) W, (?) K (New York Giants; Jersey City)
  16. 9/29/1918 - (ND) 4 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 1 W, 5 K (Lincoln Giants; Olympic Field)
  17. 10/6/1918 - (W) 9 innings, 0 RUNS, 4 hits, 1 W, 6 K (Long Island City; Recreation Park)
  18. 10/12/1918 - (W) 9 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 1 W, 5 K (Lincoln Giants; Dexter Park)
  • LINE: 141 innings, 62 runs, 154 hits16 walks, 47 strikeouts, 3.95 ERA
BEDFORD & SULLIVAN PODCAST:
Restoring Baseball Great John Donaldson's Lost Legacy With Negro Leagues Historian and Founder of The Donaldson Network, Peter Gorton.

Minnesota native Peter Gorton leads a group of historians dedicated to discovering the lost legacy of John Wesley Donaldson.  In this episode, we discuss the man, baseball career, and life of one of the more incredible and inspiring athletes to ever play the game, and how his amazing legacy became lost to a nation, most particularly Baseball's Hall of Fame.  

original airdate: March 13, 2021