Tuesday, July 31, 2018

L.I. Ducks: Jake Fisher Pitches Gem Against Somerset Patriots

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Patriots  1
Ducks    2

Long Island Ducks: Flock Shaves Somerset Lead Down To Three Games.

Jake Fisher comes up huge, outlasting Somerset's Vince Molesky in a pitcher's duel at Bethpage Ballpark.

The Patriots strike first.  Right fielder Justin Pacchioli doubles home center fielder Mike Fransoso in the top of the fourth.  The game remains that way through the sixth, after which starter Vince Molesky is relieved by Logan Kensing.  Taylor Ard leads off the bottom of the seventh with a double, then advances to third on a put-out at first.  Ramon Cabrera's sac fly to right scores Ard from third, and ties the game.  Then with two outs in the eighth, Emilio Bonifacio singles and scores on Travis Snider's double to left.

Jake evens his record at 5-5, and lowers his ERA back below four to a 3.94 mark.  He goes eight innings, allowing Somerset one earned run on just four hits and two walks, with seven strikeouts.  He  faces thirty batters, and throws 110 pitches with 72 (65%) going for strikes.

Francisco Rodriguez pitches a scoreless ninth inning, notching his 18th save of the season.

The victory shaves the Patriots Liberty Division lead down to three games.  Long Island will attempt a series sweep on Wednesday.

Brooklyn Cyclones: Jaison Vilera Dominating New York-Penn League

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE

Jaison Vilera Extends Scoreless Innings Streak

Brooklyn Cyclones: Behold Coney Island's Newest Freak.

Making his eighth start this past Sunday, Brooklyn's 21-year old Jaison Vilera tosses seven shutout innings against West Virginia to extend his scoreless streak to 28.2 innings pitched without surrendering a run.  He allows the Black Bears just two hits, two walks, and fans eight en route to his league leading fifth victory of the season against just one loss. 

Vilera last surrenders a run against Aberdeen back on June 5, but nothing since.  His stellar 0.78 ERA leads the league by nearly a full point.  He also leads the league in Average Against; is tied with team mate Billy Oxford for the league lead in wins; and is number two in WHiP with just 23 hits and 15 walks allowed through 46 innings pitched.

Promoted from the GCL Mets, Jaison has now appeared in 32 games as a pro.  He owns a 13-3 overall record with a 1.47 ERA and 0.95 WHiP.  Thus far opponents are batting just .184 against him.  Vilera has allowed 104 hits and struck out 156 batters through 165 innings pitched over his last last two seasons, to date.

Monday, July 30, 2018

L.I. Ducks: Flock Overpower Somerset Patriots in Series Opener

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

First Victory Over Somerset Since May

Patriots   5
Ducks    11

Long Island Ducks: John Brownell Ties Atlantic League All-Time Strikeout Record.

A first inning home run by Patriot shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez off John Brownell had many in the crowd at Bethpage Ballpark pondering the potential historic night ahead.  But Lew Ford put them at ease in the bottom half of the frame by singling with the bases loaded and driving in two.  Three batters later, Travis Snider scores from third on a wild pitch giving the Ducks an early 3-1 lead.

Not for long, though ...

Right fielder Justin Pacchioli's double in the top half of the second drives home Somerset's second run of the game.

Then Jordany Valdespin strikes back.  His two-run home run in the bottom of the frame gives John Brownell and the Ducks some much needed breathing room.  The Ducks score an important sixth run in the fifth when Patriots starter David Kubiak issues Ramon Cabrera a bases-loaded walk.

In the top of the sixth, two runs on four straight hits knock John Brownell out of the box.  Somerset again loads the bases against reliever Dennis O'Grady, and score on a 4-3 put out (charged to Brownell), bringing the Patriots within one.

A four run outburst featuring a pair of doubles from Taylor Ard and David Washington in the sixth give the Ducks a commanding 10-5 lead.  Later in the eighth, Ard hits his 12th home run of the season, tying him with David Washington for the team lead.  Ard goes 2 for 4 with three RBI, and lifts his average above the .300 mark.

The bullpen chips in with four innings in relief of starter John Brownell.  They allow no runs, just two hits, one walk, and strikeout six.

  • John Brownell leaves on the winning side of a (then) 6-5 game after facing four batters in the sixth.  He improves to 7-8 on the season.  His line against Somerset reads five earned runs on eight hits and a walk, with two strikeouts in five innings pitched.  He faces 23 batters, and throws 90 pitches with 66 (61%) going for strikes.  In the top of the fourth John Brownell strikes out his second batter of the game.  It marks the 737th strikeout of his Atlantic League career, tying him for the all-time lead in Atlantic League history.  His next strikeout will set a new league record.  Brownell's victory over Somerset also marks the 63rd of his Atlantic League career ranking him third all-time.

Monday's series opening victory improves Long Island's record to just 4-9 against the Patriots this season, and brings them within four games of the Liberty Division lead.

N.Y. Mets: Trading Starting Pitching Now is Counterproductive

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Non-Waiver Trade Deadline

New York Mets: Three-Headed Monster Must Avoid Boondoggle of Amazin Proportion.

What's done is done.  Beyond parting with Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera, I do not trust the Mets front office in its present state to transact much else.  If the "three headed monster" can relocate Jerry Blevins, Devin Mesoraco, Jose Bautista, etc., in exchange for warm bodies before Tuesday's deadline, fine.  Otherwise, the Mets must first reconcile their general manager situation, then let him/her figure things out.

Is trading Jacob deGrom and/or Noah Syndergaard the quickest way to restock the farm system with talent?  Perhaps.  But let someone else make that decision; someone with a plan.  Because at this very moment the Mets lack a clear and cohesive one, and the last thing any of us need on our hands is a Metsian boondoggle of Amazin proportion.  That's why I rather any talk of trading deGrom, Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, or Steven Matz, be revisited at a time well after Tuesday's non-waiver deadline, if at all.

Am I opposed to trading them?

No, for as long as I feel the plan is sound and the person implementing it garners results.

Truth be told, however, the club is in a bind.  They are financially committed to Todd Frazier for another season, and Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes for two more seasons.  At this juncture, it makes little sense leaving the team bereft of quality starters.  Unless the Mets are willing to eat the remaining monies owed Frazier and Bruce for sake of clearing out playing space for younger replacements, it appears as if the Mets hands are tied.  Therefore breaking up this pitching staff now may prove counterproductive.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

N.Y. Mets: Another Jacob deGrom Gem Down The Drain

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Amazin Ineptness

New York Mets: Bats Continue Sabotaging Jacob deGrom's Bid for Cy Young Award.

Pittsburgh's Trevor Williams is only the latest National League hurler to seemingly pitch his best game of a burgeoning career against the Mets.  The Pirates 26-year old silences them through six full innings Saturday, allowing a mere five hits, three walks, while fanning five en route to his ninth victory of the season - almost twice as many victories as hard-luck loser Jacob deGrom.  Their bullpen covers the final three innings of this 0-5 whitewashing at PNC Park, allowing but one hit and striking out six.

The Mets ace is now 5-6 this season for which every single bat wielding member of the team should feel shame.  Every deGrom saboteur can be found, one sitting next to the other, within that clubhouse.

Or not ...

Mets fans caught a fleeting glimpse of Yoenis Cespedes last week.  Otherwise, he and Jay Bruce have proven themselves utterly ineffective, insignificant, and inconsequential, in that order.  Otherwise, not Mickey Callaway; not Sandy Alderson or the three-headed monster; not Jeff Wilpon; not Jay Horowitz; nor Cow Bell Man; the Mets position players are collectively to blame.

Jacob deGrom has five victories against six losses, with ten no-decisions in 21 starts this season.  Of those no-decisions, the Mets lose seven.  Overall, the team is 8-13 in games he pitches.  They provide him with four or more runs just seven times this season, with four occurring back during his first four starts, and only three times since.  Opponents are averaging 3.7 runs against the Mets in games he pitches, while the Mets are averaging 3.5 runs.  Jacob's last win comes on June 18, a resounding 12-2 victory over the Rockies at Colorado, no less.  Subtract that singular outburst, and the Mets are averaging just 3.1 runs in games deGrom pitches.

How inept is the Mets offense? 

Mets Offensive Statistics vs. National League Average

  • 13th Runs Scored - League Avg. 463; Mets 406
  • 15th Hits - League Avg. 881; Mets 780
  • 12th Home Runs - League Avg. 115; Mets 104
  • 15th Total Bases - League Avg. 1,436;  Mets 1,290
  • 15th Team Average - League Avg. .247; Mets .229
  • 13th OPS - League Avg. .723;  Mets .688

The numbers tell no lies.

Jacob deGrom leads the major leagues with a 1.82 ERA.  His ERA has not touched two since his last start in April.  Said another way, he's allowing less than two runs per nine innings pitched for the last three months straight.  His 0.98 WHiP and 6.0 WAR are second in the league, and his 164 strikeouts rank third.

Of the Mets six hits Saturday against the Pirates, Jacob deGrom accounts for two.

Position players, negligent, every single one.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

N.Y. Yankees: Cashman Acquisitions Overshadowed By Aaron Judge Injury

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

Brian Cashman Shores Up Pitching With Two Savvy Transactions

New York Yankees: Jury Remains Out on J.A. Happ and Zach Britton Deals Until Judge Returns to Lineup.

The true measure of Brian Cashman's trade deadline acquisitions will be Aaron Judge.  For now, his wrist fracture renders the Yankees newest pitchers somewhat inconsequential, as A.J. Happ and Zach Britton were meant to enhance the team, not supplant their best layer.

A tip of the cap is nonetheless owed Brian Cashman for masterfully restocking the Yankees farm system with an abundance of young talent.  Some prospects have earned regular work with the big club, others remain parked at Scranton, while yet another handful have been traded in order to procure active major league talent.

If you include last season, Brian Cashman has literally traded away a small minor league team within a year's time.  On July 31, 2017, Cashman acquires Sonny Gray from Oakland in exchange for James Kaprielian, Dustin Fowler, and Jorge Mateo.  During the off-season, he ships Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers along with second baseman Starlin Castro to Miami for Giancarlo Stanton.  Now he sends Brandon Drury (originally acquired from Arizona) and Bill McKinney to Toronto in exchange for starter J.A. Happ, which comes on the heels of acquiring Zach Britton from Baltimore in exchange for Dillon Tate, Josh Rogers, and Cody Carroll.  All told, that's ten minor league players other general managers found interest with.

By the same token, successfully rebuilding the big club according to his own design without ever falling below .500 is nothing short of remarkable.  Even more remarkable is how Cashman fit Giancarlo Stanton, A.J. Happ, and Zach Britton into the budget all while satisfying Hal Steinbrenner's mandate for staying under the tax threshold, with room to spare.  Meanwhile, Boston president Dave Dombrowski is spending John Henry's money like a drunken sailor on leave, just as he did at Detroit.

The Yankees entered the weekend already owning a slight pitching advantage in ERA and BAA over the Red Sox.  But by adding another sorely needed quality southpaw, the league's best bullpen just got better.  Not only is Zach Britton not a member of the Red Sox, he now brings the Yankees a step closer to reducing any game against the pinstripes into a more desperate five inning affair.

However, Brian Cashman's primary need was a starting pitcher, and he landed one.  J.A Happ, a 35-year old veteran of both leagues, is another lefty who seemingly should fit right in at Yankee Stadium.  His 4.18 ERA is presently the highest its been in four years, but his WHiP, H/9 average, and K/9 average are all improved over last year.  More importantly, he owns superlative numbers against the Red Sox.

Conversely, the Red Sox already own distinct advantages at the plate over the Yankees even with Aaron Judge in the lineup.  They've established a +36 run differential over the Yankees, and lead the American League in runs scored, total bases, team average, and OPS.  Meanwhile the Yankees lead the Red Sox in home runs, slugging, and strikeouts.  The latter should improve while Judge misses the next three weeks to a month.

Until his return, the jury remains out on J.A. Happ and Zach Britton.

N.Y. Yankees: The Reeducation of Giancarlo Stanton

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

Last year's N.L. MVP poised to play in most 
meaningful games of his baseball career.

New York Yankees: Oh, the story Giancarlo Stanton can write!

Giancarlo Stanton's arrival in the Bronx is not a matter of baseball subjugation.  By invoking his no-trade clause he essentially engineers his own reality by forcing the Marlins to deal with Brian Cashman and the Yankees - whom rather passively emerge as a lone remaining suitor capable of absorbing his otherwise prohibitive contract.

One could argue Stanton never before has participated in a regular season nearly as meaningful as this one, or that Mar. 29, 2018 at Toronto was the first ever meaningful regular season game of his career, or that his first hundred games with the Yankees have been far more meaningful than any of his 986 games played as a Miami Marlin.  But after four full months on the job he is experiencing well that winning a National League MVP for the second division Miami Marlins is one thing, and that being traded to New York and playing for a team which came within one game of last year's World Series is another.

He hit two home runs and drove in four runs in his Yankee debut, but after 28 games would finish April slashing just .230/.313/.425, with five home runs and 15 RBI, and not without having at least two terse exchanges with the media.  In May, he slashes .264/.330/.516, with six home runs and 14 RBI, then slashes .298/.373/.577, with eight home runs and 17 RBI in June.

Now one hundred games deep into the season, Stanton so far in July is slashing .349/.387/.542, with four home runs and 15 RBI, bringing his grand totals up to .281/.348/.512, with 23 home runs and 61 RBI.  He leads the Yankees with 110 base hits; is tied with Aaron Judge for most RBI; is second behind Judge in home runs; and is third behind Judge and Gleyber Torres in slugging.

This past Thursday, Aaron Judge suffered a fractured wrist during the Yankees 7-2 victory over the Royals at the stadium.  He is expected to miss the next three weeks to a month.  With that, the weight of the Yankees Universe falls on the shoulders of Giancarlo Stanton, who is now expected to carry what is effectively Aaron Judge's team. 

More conclusive proof that in New York City the spotlight finds you, and not the other way around. As such, Giancarlo Stanton is about to gain an entirely new understanding into what the dog days of summer truly entail.  Friday's rain-out makes Saturday's game against the Royals at the stadium the first the Bombers will play without Judge.  Tasked with performing under new conditions, Stanton will have all eyes focused squarely on him.

Stand or fall, he is once again in charge of his own narrative.  The game's biggest stage lies before him.  If Stanton helps the Yankees overcome their five game deficit behind the Red Sox before Aaron Judge returns, oh the story he will write.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

N.Y. Yankees: Gary Sanchez Is, As Gary Sanchez Does

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

Look what Tampa did to the Yankees, again.

New York Yankees Fall Six Games Behind Red Sox.

If you want to know why the Yankees find themselves six games back of the Boston Red Sox, look no further than Monday's respective opponents.  The Yankees were in Tampa playing the ever gamely Rays, while the Red Sox were in Baltimore playing the moribund Orioles.

With Monday night's 6-7 loss at Tampa, the Yankees fall to 5-5 against the Rays this season.  The Red Sox are 9-4 against the Tampa Rays.  With Monday's 5-3 victory at Baltimore, the Red Sox improve 10-2 against the Orioles.  Meanwhile, the Yankees are just 5-5 against the Birds.  Add it up, and the Red Sox are 19-5 against Tampa/Baltimore, while the Yankees are just 10-10 against them.


The Yankees catcher is, as the Yankees catcher does ... or not.  If asked to single-out one player, I'd say Gary Sanchez is perhaps most responsible for influencing Brian Cashman's decision to move on from former manager Joe Girardi, who would have reprimanded Sanchez for Monday's performance, or lack thereof.  Instead, Cashman wants someone to coddle his young players and therefore settles on Aaron Boone, who doesn't appear too keen on putting his catcher's feet to the fire.

Two plays in particular bookend Monday's Yankee loss.  His lackadaisical retrieval of a passed ball in the opening frame directly leads to Tampa's first run of the game.  In the ninth, his gross lack of hustle running out a ground ball surely cost the Yankees an opportunity at tying the game.  Throw in an unsightly dugout discussion between him and Luis Severino, and the Yankees officially have a situation.

I understand Sanchez is feeling a little tender.  But someone needs to remind that young man he is in the midst of a pennant race, and that his present thought process is unacceptable.  He cost the Yankees a game at a time when they can least afford to lose.  Joe Girardi would have addressed this post-haste, and did so as manager of the Yankees.  But he's not here anymore.  And so Sanchez plods along unchecked.

After the game, Aaron Boone implemented non-committal damage control with the media.

Monday, July 23, 2018

WWE: State of the Women's Division

From the desk of:  VINCE SR.'s WORST NIGHTMARE

I first became passionate about wrestling as a single-digit midget back in the mid 1970s when all territories were still under the umbrella of the NWA and kayfabe ruled the day.  Our local territory was then known as the WWWF, and was owned by Vince McMahon Sr.  At the time, his son Vince Jr. was doing little more than cutting promos and ring announcing.  When Daddy Mac decided he'd had enough, he made Vince Jr. promise to not break up the territory system.  So what did Sonny Mac do?  He swallowed up the competition with haste thus ending the territory system.  Vince Jr. would argue in the same spirit that Brett Hart screwed Brett Hart, the various territory owners killed the various territories.  My son and I constantly debate the evolution of wrestling from when I was a kid through today's era of Sports Entertainment.  It is therefore my honor and privilege to introduce to you the newest contributor of the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, my son, Michael III.

Several years ago, the WWE promised a “Women’s Revolution” where the women of the WWE would be featured more prominently and get the same opportunities as the men did.  The company for the most part has delivered on that promise. Women like the Four Horsewomen, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss and now Ronda Rousey have all been featured in prominent spots on pay per views, even main eventing a few.  The first ever women’s Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank and Hell in the Cell matches have all taken place in the last few years, something previously thought impossible several decades ago. However, with every success there are always missteps and the WWE is in the midst of a roadblock when it comes to the presentation of the Women’s Division.  

The major problem facing the women of Raw and Smackdown is the fact that the WWE writer’s only seem capable of juggling one major women’s storyline per show.  When Sasha Banks and Charlotte were feuding for the Raw Women’s Championship several years ago, it was the only women’s story that mattered on Raw. Too often the titles on both shows are the centerpiece of women’s storylines while the other women are usually crammed into multi person tag matches that don’t really matter much.  While the title should always be the focus for a main event feud, the ability to tell multiple compelling stories is something the WWE writing staff has struggled with for years. This problem is currently fairly evident on Raw and Smackdown right now. With Summerslam quickly approaching, the WWE has a chance to fix this problem and actually deliver some compelling material the women of Raw and Smackdown can sink their teeth into.  

Fixing RAW
On Raw, there is currently two major storylines taking place for the women right now.  The first is Ronda Rousey’s quest to get revenge on Alex Bliss and finally capturing the Raw Women’s Championship.  The Rousey storyline will ultimately culminate at Summerslam with Rousey most likely beating Alexa Bliss and establishing herself as the top face on Raw.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with this program, the road to Rousey winning the title should have been a little bit longer. Rousey herself has stated that she didn’t want to jump the line and go right into the main event picture but be a regular Superstar.  Yet in her second ever match she was challenging Nia Jax for the title. Now, I understand the WWE has to capitalize on Rousey’s star power but they really are rushing her ascension.

At the conclusion of the Rousey Vs. Jax match, Alexa Bliss cashed in her MITB briefcase, robbing both women and walking out with the title.   Now people love to get on Roman Reigns for getting multiple main event pushes and being shoved down the throats of the fans. If that’s the case, Alexa Bliss has to be the Roman Reigns of the Women’s Division.  She has dominated the Women’s Division since her NXT call up despite not being very good in the ring. She’s amazing on the mic but that’s really about it. Her title win here will add more heat and make the moment Rousey ultimately defeats her more satisfying.  Even still, Nia Jax who finally won the big one at Wrestlemania, is now being shuffled to the background and probably won’t be relevant again for a while. Turning Jax heel and setting her up as a monster against Rousey will set up a compelling feud for both. Maybe even aligning Jax with Stephanie McMahon would make sense seeing Steph still has unfinished business with Rousey.  Throw in the eventual betrayal by Rousey’s bff Natalya and Ronda’s got months worth of worthwhile feuds to occupy her for the rest of the year.

While Jax and Rousey battle it out, Alexa Bliss should move onto a feud with Ember Moon.  It will help Ember get over more than the endless matches with the Riot Squad have. With two fresh feuds ready to go, we turn our attention to the other major storyline happening on Raw: the never ending breakup of best frenemies Sasha Banks and Bayley.  These two have been engaged in an on and off again feud since 1946. There has been no payoff and when it seemed like we were finally going to get the big pay per view match we were promised, Sasha confessed her love for Bayley last week turning this into an episode of General Hospital.  If something worthwhile doesn’t finally come from this program I’m going to lose my mind. With Summerslam right around the corner, the logical thing would be have these two finally face off in the same building that they made history in during their time in NXT, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  

There are currently rumors that Stephanie McMahon is set to return tonight to announce the creation of a women’s only pay per view and the introduction of women’s tag titles.  If the writers are not going to have Sasha and Bayley face off at Summerslam, they should have them team up and become the inaugural Women’s Tag Team Champions. Having them work their differences and ultimately triumph and become champs can be just as compelling a story as them beating the crap out of each other.  Having them defend it across both Raw and Smackdown would give them compelling matchups against teams like the Riot Squad, the IIconics and even maybe their fellow Horsewomen, Becky Lynch and Charlotte.

Fixing Smackdown
Smackdown’s problems are even more profound than Raw’s.  Literally the only woman’s storyline going on at any given time is Carmella and her cheating to keep her title.  Carmella, like Alexa Bliss, isn’t very good in the ring but solid on the mic and an amazing heel. The only problem with her is that her title reign has made a mockery out of any worthy challenger.  Charlotte fresh off beating Asuka’s undefeated streak dropped the title to Carmella and hasn’t been seen since. Asuka, at one time the most dominant woman in NXT history, has been pinned by Carmella more times than anyone would like to acknowledge.  Her aura and credibility have been completely eviscerated. The only hope Smackdown has to end the reign of Carmella is Becky Lynch.

Lynch finally looks poised to re-enter the title picture and she should finally be the one to dethrone Carmella at Summerslam.  Becky Lynch may be the most natural babyface in the WWE aside from Daniel Bryan. She is a hero the kids can get behind and she should be rewarded for her hard work with a lengthy title reign.  Her first reign as champ did not last long at all but this time around she should sit atop the Smackdown Women’s division for several months.

Aside from the championship picture, the other women of Smackdown are relegated to meaningless tag team matches.  The IIconics, Naomi, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville really do not have anything to do. Hopefully the introduction of the Women’s Tag Team Titles will reinvigorate these women along with the other female Superstars on the roster.  As far as Asuka goes, a heel turn should fix her issues. She has lost several times to Carmella that it is finally time for her to snap. Turn her heel and have her regain her momentum by systematically destroying anyone in her path.  When Charlotte Flair returns, Asuka should be standing in her way ready to resume their Wrestlemania feud. The two of them had the best match at Wrestlemania and they can have an enormous feud while Becky Lynch defends her title against Carmella and the other heels on Smackdown.

WWE Summerslam 2018: Battling a Hostile Brooklyn Crowd

From the desk of:  VINCE SR.'s WORST NIGHTMARE

I first became passionate about wrestling as a single-digit midget back in the mid 1970s when all territories were still under the umbrella of the NWA and kayfabe ruled the day.  Our local territory was then known as the WWWF, and was owned by Vince McMahon Sr.  At the time, his son Vince Jr. was doing little more than cutting promos and ring announcing.  When Daddy Mac decided he'd had enough, he made Vince Jr. promise to not break up the territory system.  So what did Sonny Mac do?  He swallowed up the competition with haste thus ending the territory system.  Vince Jr. would argue in the same spirit that Brett Hart screwed Brett Hart, the various territory owners killed the various territories.  My son and I constantly debate the evolution of wrestling from when I was a kid through today's era of Sports Entertainment.  It is therefore my honor and privilege to introduce to you the newest contributor of the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, my son, Michael III.

WWE’s biggest party of the summer is right around the corner.  Summerslam will hail from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY and is sure to have a raucous crowd.  Being from Brooklyn myself, I know that we by our very nature are A-holes and if we don’t like something, trust me you will know.  As if they have proved in the past, the WWE Universe loves to crap all over the product if the WWE Creative team does not give them what they want.  That, coupled with the extended times of WWE’s pay per views usually leads to the crowd tuning out of matches, chanting things that make no sense and throwing beach balls at each other.  While this is sometimes hysterical, it is also pretty annoying. The Brooklyn audience is always relentless so the WWE has to ensure that Summerslam is a stacked show that will ensure the WWE Universe, both the live and home audience, enjoys the show.  There are several ways to do this, whether or not WWE follows through or just does whatever they feel like again is up to them.

The Liberation of the WWE Universal Championship
Amelia Earhart, Osama Bin Laden, Brock Lesnar, hide and seek champs.  Brock Lesnar and the Universal Championship have been seen so infrequently that people have started to forget Raw has a top world title.  With Lesnar’s imminent return to the UFC, there is finally hope that he will drop the title at Summerslam and give Raw a much needed shot of adrenaline.  Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley are set to battle it out tonight on Raw to see who will face Lesnar at Summerslam. Neither of those matches sound particularly appealing so there will be some sort of shenanigans that take place that will allow both men to challenge Lesnar in a Triple Threat Match.  

No one wants to see Lesnar keep the title hostage, the crowd will hate every second Reigns is in the ring and Lashley hasn’t really earned a main event spot.  So all three men winning the title is a lose lose situation. The only way to make sure the Brooklyn crowd goes home happy is have Braun Strowman cash in his briefcase.  It will be the biggest pop of the night when Strowman lays waste to whoever the winner is and finally claims his spot at the top of the mountain. A Lashley or Reigns heel turn post Summerslam will provide Strowman with a strong feud to carry his title into.  A Strowman win at Summerslam is the perfect ending to the show that will leave everyone happy.

AJ Styles Vs. Samoa Joe
Despite WWE’s insistence that the real top champion is whoever holds the title on Raw, AJ Styles has proved time and time again he is the top world champion in the company.  Styles has seemingly silenced every challenger available to him since he became WWE Championship last year. One of the last few big money feuds Styles has left available to him on Smackdown is a battle against Samoa Joe.  Joe proved he belonged in the main event throughout his tenure in NXT and his battles against Lesnar and Reigns on Raw. Anyone that has seen their battles in TNA know that Styles and Joe have amazing chemistry and can tear the house down.  Their match at Summerslam has the potential to steal the show and can truly make a star out of Samoa Joe. A Joe win can offer some new and fresh matchups in the Smackdown main event scene with Joe taking on top faces like Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy or even a potential dream match with a returning John Cena.  

New Women’s Champs
At Summerslam, Ronda Rousey will challenge Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship and Becky Lynch will most likely challenge Carmella for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.  Bliss and Carmella are two hated heels that play their roles well but both of them have had their time to shine. Becky Lynch, one of the most natural babyfaces on the roster, should finally get her moment and capture the title that has eluded her since she won the inaugural Smackdown Women’s Championship two years ago.  Ronda Rousey has taken the WWE by storm and has gotten over fairly well despite being new to the wrestling scene. Beating such a natural heel in Bliss will allow Rousey to capture the strap and electrify the Brooklyn crowd.

Indie Darlings Get Their Due
WWE loves pushing people that the WWE Universe doesn’t really want to see.  Guys like Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan and Finn Balor have often been overlooked in favor of guys like Roman Reigns and whatever other big guy with long hair Vince McMahon has a chubby for at that moment.  The so called “Indie Darlings” have done fine on their own but most are not allowed to grab the brass ring organically.

Daniel Bryan got over on his own without help from the WWE machine and they refused to push him until they had no other choice.  At Summerslam he appears finally set to battle the Miz who he has had issues with for years. Fans have been waiting for this match ever since D-Bry came back from injury.  There is nothing more that the Barclays Center would love than for Daniel Bryan to give the Miz the absolute beating of a lifetime.

Likewise, guys like Finn Balor and Seth Rollins need to be highlighted and given quality matchups at the big event.  Balor has yet to receive his rematch for the Universal Title and the journey to that match should start with a big showing at Summerslam.  Rollins has been the workhorse of Raw and he should have a big showing at Summerslam, probably against Dolph Ziggler again after they killed it in their IronMan Match last month.  Both Rollins and Balor deserve the spotlight on Raw and with Brock Lesnar most likely heading back to the UFC, opportunities for the Universal Championship will actually begin to come more frequently.

L.I. Ducks: Somerset Patriots Complete Sweep

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Patriots sweep series over Ducks 3-0
I - SOM 8; LID 3
II - SOM 6; LID 4

Long Island Ducks: Hit the Road, Flock.

After going just 2-4 during this last home stand, and getting swept by the Somerset Patriots, perhaps a road trip is just what the veterinarian ordered.  The Ducks play seven games at the Lancaster Barnstormers and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs this week before returning home to face the Patriots again next Monday back at the Pond.

Long Island failed to protect a 9-5 fourth inning lead in Sunday's series finale, and instead were outdone 12-9 by the Somerset Patriots, who extend their first place lead over Long Island to four games.  The Ducks are now just 3-9 this season against the Patriots.
  • What a difference health makes.  The ageless Lew Ford was 3 for 5 with three runs scored, a home run, and five RBI.  He is batting .294 through 73 games 282 at-bats, with seven home runs and 53 RBI (fifth most in Atlantic League).  Last season he was limited to just 76 games and 294 at-bats all season, batting .269 with nine home runs and only 31 RBI.
  • Jordany Valdespin, who was ejected from Sunday's game, leads the Atlantic League with a .361 batting average.
  • The Somerset Patriots are the first team in the second half to achieve ten victories, while the Ducks fall to par with a 6-6 record, and a sub par 36-39 record overall.

Long Island Ducks
Lancaster Barnstormers

With identical 6-6 records, the Ducks and New Britain Bees enter Monday's action locked in a tie for second place in the Liberty Division, four games behind the Somerset Patriots.  Despite finishing the first half thirteen games over .500, Lancaster placed second behind the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Freedom Division.  The Barnstormers are off to a slow second half start, entering Monday's series opener with a 5-6 record.

Brooklyn Cyclones: Season Starts Getting a Little Wild


Brooklyn Cyclones: Mother Nature and Coney Hurlers Too Much for Lowell Spinners; Baby Bums Take Two.

Brooklyn's Baby Bums put a halt to Lowell's winning streak, but not without an assist from Mother Nature.

On Friday, the red hot Spinners promptly take game one at Coney Island for their eleventh victory in a row.  The Cyclones were then trailing 2-1 on Saturday when the rains came forcing a suspension after just three innings of play.

Picking up where game two left off, Nick Meyer's RBI single in the fifth, and Ross Adolph's sac-fly in the sixth give Brooklyn a 3-2 lead.

  • Selected in the sixth round of this year's draft, Meyer (21 for 66) is slashing .318/.348/.409 with five extra-base hits, only two walks, but just five strikeouts!

Cyclones pitching takes care of the rest.  Reliever Billy Oxford climbs the bump for Sunday's restart.  He faces eleven batters over three innings, allowing no runs on just three hits and no walks, with three strikeouts.  He throws forty pitches with 30 (75%) going for strikes en route to his fourth victory of the season against just one loss.  He boasts an identical 1.19 ERA and WHiP through 22.2 innings pitched.  Yeudy Colon follows with two scoreless innings, and Ryley Gilliam pitches a scoreless ninth for his second save.


With Sunday's regularly scheduled game shortened into a seven inning affair, Walter Rasquin's RBI in the third would be all the Brooks would need.  Making his seventh start, Jaison Vilera throws 5.2 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just five hits, walking three, and fanning five for his second win over Lowell this season.  Tommy Wilson completes the Lowell whitewashing with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.

  • Jaison Vilera improves 4-1 through seven starts and continues to impress.  His minuscule 0.92 ERA ties him for the league lead.  With just 21 hits allowed through 39 innings pitched, he is tied for fifth with an 0.87 WHiP, while his five strikeouts give him 48 for the season, ranking him second.

The Cyclones add a run when second baseman Chandler Avant scores from third on a passed ball in the fourth.  Three base hits and a pair of Lowell errors in the fifth give the Cyclones a 4-0 lead and their final margin of victory.


With a twin-bill sweep of the Lowell Spinners the Cyclones join the New York-Penn League's twenty win club (20-16) and slide back into second place of the McNamara Division standings, one-half game ahead of the Staten Island Yankees, and three games back of the Hudson Valley Renegades.  The Lowell Spinners fall to second place in the Stedler Division, and into a tie with the Brooklyn Cyclones for the top Wild Card spot.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

L.I. Ducks: Second Half Pennant or Bust

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Somerset leads series 2-0
I - SOM 8; LID 3
II - SOM 6; LID 4

Somerset Patriots
Long Island Ducks
Bethpage Ballbark

Long Island Ducks: Somerset Pitching Winning Out Over Flock Hitting.

Now 35-years young, starter John Brownell continues to struggle in this, his seventh season with the Long Island Ducks.

The Flock's all-time starting pitcher has never finished a full Ducks season with an ERA above four (in 2012, his first season with the Ducks, he posted a 6.61 ERA in only four appearances).  Although his rate of strikeouts is up, he presently owns a 4.25 ERA and a 1.382 WHiP, both well above his Duck career averages to date.

Coming off consecutive wins over Sugar Land and York, Brownell faced the rival Somerset Patriots on Friday at Bethpage Ballpark, allowing four earned runs on eleven hits, no walks, and striking out six through six innings pitched.  Trailing by three, the Ducks closed to within 4-3 of the Patriots in the bottom of the sixth on a pair of Jordany Valdespin RBI.  However, the bullpen would not hold.  Somerset scored twice in the seventh and posted another pair in the ninth en route to an 8-3 series opening victory.

Now trailing the Somerset Patriots by two games in the Liberty Division standings, Tyler Badamo climbs the bump at Bethpage Park for game two against Somerset's Cory Riordan.  Badamo enters Saturday's game with a 2.41 ERA in 18.2 innings over three previous starts since coming over to the Ducks from the New Britain Bees in June.

After trading runs in the first, Long Island takes a 3-1 lead on RBI hits by Taylor Ard and Ramon Cabrera.  The Patriots claw back with three hits and a run in the top of the fifth.  However, Travis Snider answers right back in the bottom of the frame with his team leading eleventh home run of the season.

With one out and runners on first and second in the top of the sixth, Coach Baez pulls Tyler Badamo in favor of reliever Ashur Tolliver.  With two out and the bases loaded, an E-6 allows two base runners home.  All runs are charged to Badamo, who surrenders ten hits but just two earned runs in 5.1 innings of work, walks one and strikes out four.

Coach Baez brings in Carlos Pimentel to pitch the seventh, who promptly surrenders a lead-off home run to Patriots shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez.  Three hits and a fielder's choice later Somerset leads by two.

Long Island fails to score in the their final two at-bats, and drop their second straight to the Patriots, this time by a 6-4 final.

If the Ducks are to meet the Somerset Patriots in the Liberty Division finals for a fourth consecutive season, they must first win the second half title.  Somerset already did their part by winning the first half title, five games ahead of the Ducks whom finished below par with a 30-33 record.  With regards to the season as a whole, Long Island owns a clear offensive edge over the the Patriots.  However, Somerset owns a distinct pitching advantage over the Ducks.  So far, the results speak for themselves.  Entering Sunday's series finale, the Ducks are just 3-8 this season against the Patriots.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

N.Y. Mets: Second Half Faith and Fears METSian Podcast w/ Greg Prince

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


Featured Guest:

Second Half Preview ~ George Foster ~ The Seven P's ~ Jacob deGrom ~ 2015 Season
Who's In Charge? ~ Mickey Callaway ~ Trade Deadline ~ Yoenis Cespedes ~ Jerry Grote
Bullpen ~ Jose Reyes ~ First Base ~ Claudell Washington ~ Casey Stengel ~ New York Giants
Brooklyn Dodgers and so much more.

1 hour: 57 minutes

Brooklyn Dodgers: Home Is Where The Heart Is


Spanning the Borough 
To Bring You The Constant Variety of Bums

One out of every seven people in this country can trace their family histories back through Brooklyn.  The Boys of Summer are no different.  Gone but hardly forgotten, the old Trolley Dodgers are quite alive and well.  Despite being scarred and broken, Dem Bums remain dear in the hearts of the Brooklyn citizenry, whom still wear their baseball caps, t-shirts, jerseys, and jackets like a red badge of courage.  Here in Kings County, at least, you might say New York City is still home to three teams.  However, the greater municipal politico and powers presently and historically have always demonstrated little or no interest in recognizing, preserving, or promoting Gotham's near 180 year baseball legacy - much less Brooklyn Dodgers history.  Therefore, I make it my business to seek out and reveal FINGERPRINTS OF THE BUMS wherever they may be.  This is the second installment in a series of reboots and original content featuring people, places, and things you may already be familiar with, and hopefully things you're not so familiar with.

Once upon a time ...

circa 1846

Served Briefly as Brooklyn Dodgers Clubhouse

Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers
I     1883~1891
II    1898~1912

Modell's Sporting Goods Collection
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Washington Park Program ~ 1889
Vintage Baseball Game ~ 2009

Washington Park Program ~ 1890
Eastern Park Program ~ 1891

Game at Washington Park/Brooklyn Historical Society Collection

Last Season at Washington Park/Modell's Collection

55 Sullivan Place: Ebbets Field
Cedar Street renamed McKeever Place 
Edward and Stephen McKeever, Partner/Owners

Ebbets Field Apartments (Right Field) Wall, Bedford Avenue

April 9, 1913 ~ Sept. 24, 1957

Ebbets Field Turnstile
MCU Park, Coney Island

Brooklyn Historical Society Collection

Brooklyn Historical Society Collection

Ebbets Field Seats

Junior's Restaurant Collection

Road Trips 2017: Cooperstown Museum and Baseball Hall of Fame

Modell's Sporting Goods Collection

Bossert Hotel, Montague Street
Where Johnny Podres and the World Champion 
Brooklyn Dodgers Twisted the Night Away.

Road Trips 2017: Cooperstown Museum and Baseball Hall of Fame

Brooklyn Historical Society Collection

Film Props, Movie Shoot; Brooklyn Heights

Photo: Baseball Legends of Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery 
by Peter J. Nash; 2003 Arcadia Publishing

Sledgehammer to Cornerstone and Resulting Damage

Road Trips 2017: Cooperstown Museum and Baseball Hall of Fame

Bedford Avenue at Sullivan Place

Flagpole Dedication at Barclays Center
Attended by Sharon Robinson,
Daughter of Jackie Robinson

If the building in the forefront somewhat resembles a ballpark, 
it's because this is where Walter O'Malley wanted to build his new stadium;
Flatbush Avenue at Atlantic Avenue

Coney Island
Home of the Brooklyn Cyclones

2001 Inaugural Season 
New York-Penn League Champions

Retired Numbers: Carl Erskine; Don Newcombe; Jackie Robinson; Gil Hodges
1955 World Champions          Final Pitch: McDevitt to Pignatano

Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson