Final Regular Season Week That Was
We have finally reached the end of another season. We’ve had many great plays, surprising wins, marathon games and lots of memories in between. But the end of one season spawns another as we now move into the all-star season with great expectations once again. But before we move to our second season, let’s review the week that was in the minor and major divisions.
Last week, we were in the midst of a pending final week showdown between the Cardinals, Red Sox, Rangers and Marlins. The Marlins entered the week with one loss and a one game lead on the Rangers entering their Wednesday/Thursday matchup while the Cardinals and Red Sox played the Phillies and Braves respectively before locking horns on Thursday. The Cardinals and Red Sox held serve defeating their opponents to set up a winner take all type game on Thursday to see who would possibly have a chance at either the Rangers or Marlins. The Cardinals would emerge victorious in their game versus the Red Sox in what turned out to be a pitcher’s duel between the Red Sox Hayden Layne and the Cardinals Brock Meyers. Meyers would get the win as he held the Red Sox scoreless throwing a two-hitter while Layne would surrender three hits but also three runs in the process. That left the Cardinals in the clubhouse with three losses waiting to see if the Marlins would lose to the Rangers.
Marlins vs. Rangers Wednesday/Thursday Matchup
The first matchup between the Marlins and the Rangers went to the Rangers as Drew Pylant got the victory on the mound in a 5-1 affair. The win put the Rangers in perfect position to knock the Marlins out of the second half race with ace Jake Rucker on the mound for game two. For four innings, all signs pointed to a Rangers victory as they held a comfortable 4-1 lead entering the 5th. That’s where things took a turn in the Marlins favor as the Marlins battled back with three runs in the top half of the fifth to tie the game giving them new life. The Rangers would threaten in their final two at-bats but wouldn’t convert so the game went into overtime tied 4-4. The Rangers Daylen Powell and the Marlins Hunter Crawford entered the game in relief and pitched magically as both held firm forcing the game to the eleventh inning before a Zach Deakins homerun to center field gave the Marlins their first lead of the game. The blast ignited the Marlins carrying them victory as Crawford shut the Rangers down again to earn the 5-4 win. The victory put the Marlins back in control of their destiny with two losses and one game remaining with the Rangers and Cardinals one game back.
Final Game for the Title
The Marlins next task was to defeat the only team they hadn’t defeated all season long, the Red Sox. Win this final game and the second half is theirs, lose and fall into a possible three-way tie for the second half. The game started perfectly for the Marlins as they scored first taking a second inning 1-0 lead. The team was energized and the Red Sox looked lethargic and uninterested until a rain shower delayed the game for 30 minutes. When play resumed, the Red Sox were a different team as the players were all on the fence cheering their teammates on. The energy paid off as Luke Brown blasted a three-run homerun over the left field fence to give the Red Sox the lead. The blast further energized the team as two more runs would be driven home to swing the momentum squarely in the Red Sox corner. Luke Brown continued to pitch flawlessly holding the Marlins at bay until the final out of the game when he left the game due to the pitch count limits. The Marlins made it close scoring two runs on the Red Sox relief pitcher but couldn’t sustain the rally falling short 5-3. The loss left the Marlins at three losses with the Cardinals with the Rangers walking on the field for their final game versus the Phillies. A Rangers win would mean a three-way tie for the second half. Watching the game you could sense the previous game versus the Marlins took something out of the Rangers as errors piled up and the Phillies pulled away for a season ending victory ending the Rangers hopes of winning the second half.
Winner Takes All
Four teams entered, two teams left in the final week showdown and one thing is certain at this point in the season. The nine year reign of the Rangers and Red Sox will come to an end as neither team survived the week so we will have a new name atop the standings in 2012. Tomorrow at 6:00, the Cardinals and the Marlins will square off to determine the second half championship with a second game if necessary. Congratulations to both teams on a great second half and good luck to both tomorrow.
We have pretty much covered the minor champions as both won the league last week but I would still like to congratulate the Cubs and the Orioles on a fine season. The Orioles claim the title as the best in the minors this season as they swept the Cubs en route to the best record in the league.
Congratulations to the Rangers for winning the 7-8 championship over the Rays. This was the toughest division by far and a great feat accomplished by the Rangers.
Playoff Game Monday
The Minor district will be split this season with Goodlettsville hosting one and Murfreesboro hosting the other. The two minor all-star teams will play tomorrow at 6:00 on field 8 to determine who will get to stay home and who has to travel to Murfreesboro. Be sure to come by the quad tomorrow to see who emerges victorious.
Heads up Play of the Week
Justin Mathes of the Major Dodgers made a nice heads-up play as Jonathan Seals hit a soft fly ball over second base. Both the Shortstop and second baseman converged on the ball to try to make the catch leaving the base wide open for Seals to advance if the ball fell. The ball fell but centerfielder Justin Mathes scooped up the ball and raced to second forcing Seals to retreat back to first. Nice head up play Justin!
Justin Mathes is our subject again as he made a great catch in right center field keeping the White Sox off the board in the inning.
Collin O’Berry made a nice catch at shortstop for the Reds catching a hard line drive from Kennedy Jordan to rob Jordan of a sure hit.
Ducks on the Pond Moment
Of course we all know when someone says we have ducks on the pond we mean there are runners on base. You always want to clear those ducks so your team can score some runs and the Reds Drake Sanson cleared some duck for sure in their final game of the season. Drake stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a bases clearing grand slam in their win over the White Sox. Nice hit Drake.
Player of the Week
We have a new player of the week for the final week of the season. The Red Sox Jeffrey Adams had an impressive .667 batting average for the week to lead the league. Nice Job Jeffrey!
Our runner up players are Joel Littlepage and Andrew Snyder who posted .600 averages for the week while Cole Carter gets the final nod posting a final week .556 average. Congratulations to all mentioned on a fine finish to the season.
That’s all we have this week…..Let the All-Star season begin!
The Week That Was.........Around The Quad
We finished up the 5-8 year old divisions this week while the 9-12 divisions have a few games remaining but we do have some champions to crown at this point in the season so here we go.
I did get a report that the Phillies ran the table going undefeated for the season to win the National League crown. Coach Joey Keef had the pleasure of letting his kids shave his head after the final win. Congratulations to the Phillies on a great season.
The National League race came down to the wire but in the end the Giants won the pennant on the final day.
The American league was a little more complicated as four teams entered the final day with a chance at a four way tie. In the end the Rangers would take the second half and then defeat the Rays today, 4-1 to claim the 2012 American League crown. Congratulations to the Rangers on a great season and to the Cardinals, Dodgers and Rays as well.
The National League race hasn’t been much of a race all season as the Cubs have totally dominated the competition en route to an impressive 18-4 record. The Cubs wrapped up the championship last week and have continued to play good baseball ever since. The Orioles were the only team to go undefeated against the Cubs and even they had to fight for it coming from behind yesterday to claim a 14-11 victory. Congratulations to the Cubs on a fine season.
Finally, the Orioles can call themselves champions. The Rays wouldn’t go away as they continued to win games forcing the Orioles to do the same but in the end the Orioles would win the title with a hard fought victory over the Cubs yesterday giving them the 2012 American League title. Way to go Orioles who also lay claim as the best team in the minor league this season.
The Major League has been the most balanced it has been in all my time at the quad. Never can I remember a time when any team could beat the other on any given night. We were reminded week after week as teams knocked each other off but as the season progressed, a few teams were able to squeak out some wins and separate from the pack.
Second Half Contenders
The Marlins still hold the keys to the second half crown entering the final three games but are no longer undefeated as the Red Sox played nearly flawless defense to shut out the Marlins 2-0 in a seven inning thriller. The loss brought the Marlins back to the pack as the Rangers are now one precious game behind with a back to back series remaining with the Marlins on Wednesday and Thursday. The Red Sox and the Cardinals are two games behind with three losses as they play each other on Thursday with the Red Sox finishing up the season with a rematch with the Marlins on Friday. We can possibly have a three-way tie for the championship between the Rangers, Marlins and Cardinals/Red Sox winner if the Rangers and Marlins split games and the Red Sox defeat the Marlins again on Friday. The Rangers, Red Sox and Marlins all play Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and the odds of those three teams winning out are slim at best as the pitching will be spread extremely thin. The Cardinals are in the best position with only two games remaining on Tuesday and Thursday. This one is too close to call so you need to come by the park this week to see how this plays out.
Player of the Week
Our Major League player of the week will be split between two players as both posted impressive .800 batting averages. The Braves Drew Robertson accomplished the feat by going 4-5 while the Marlins Dane Hurley did the same going 4-5 as well. Three more players had impressive weeks as well as the Marlins Logan Moore and the Red Sox Hayden Layne went 4-6 to post an average of .667. Collin O’Berry of the Reds was close behind going 4-7 with three of the four hits triples off the fence. Great job to all those mentioned this week.
There won’t be any plays of the week as I misplaced the post-it notes I had with the plays listed.
One week to go until the post season begins! Until then…………..
The Week That Was...... Around The Quad
The season is winding down as we have one more week in the books in the second half. It only seemed yesterday we were celebrating opening ceremonies with hopes for another great season and now we are down to the final two weeks. As usual we will discuss the second half races with the Major League going first.
Someone needs to get some water because as hot as the Marlins are, they may boil the water form their pond. The Marlins came out of nowhere in the second half posting a perfect 7-0 record after going 6-6 In the first half. The Marlins are in incredible shape after they defeated the Cardinals for a second time in the second half yesterday then got some help from the Rangers when they defeated the Red Sox to give the Marlins a huge two game lead entering the final two weeks of play. The Marlins are in count down mode as their magic number for clinching the second half is down to three. The final four games will be the test as the Reds Sox and Rangers, both two games back, are waiting with nets in hand as both play the Marlins to end the season. The Marlins finish with the Red Sox-Rangers-Rangers- Red Sox and if the Marlins can split with those two teams they will clinch the second half and get another crack at the Cardinals for the overall championship. I can feel the tension as I type these words. It’s going to be a great finish.
Battle for Second
The battle for second in the second half is between two old foes, the Red Sox and the Rangers. The Red Sox and Rangers have shared the championship for the past nine years and are once again in position for another title if either can win out. The Rangers finally had the breaks go their way against the Red Sox yesterday as they got a much needed win to stay in the second half race. At this point, a loss ends any chance for either to catch the Marlins. Neither team faces the other the rest of the way so a possible second half play-off could be in store if both can win out to end the season.
CUBS WIN THE PENNANT!
The Cubs have officially won the 2012 Minor National League crown. The Rangers gave the Cubs the crown after they battled back to defeat the Rockies yesterday. Congratulations to the Cubs on a great season.
American League Chase
The American League has a little ways to go before we can crown a champion but the road got a little clearer for the Orioles after yesterday’s results. The Rays had closed to within one game of the Orioles entering their much anticipated match up yesterday. A Rays’ win would put them in a first place tie with the Orioles entering the final week of play but it wasn’t to be as the Orioles came from behind to defeat the Rays to move two games ahead of the Reds and Rays with three to play. The Reds are also in the mix but need to win out and hope for the Orioles to falter the rest of the way. My guess is the Orioles clinch this week to claim the 2012 American League title.
The National League race is coming down to the Red Sox and the Giants. The Giants are standing at 4-3 after yesterday’s game while the Red Sox were 4-2 entering their game versus the Yankees. That game hasn’t been posted so I will have to assume that the Red Sox got it done versus the struggling Yankees. If so, the Red Sox are one game ahead with two remaining with the final game a battle against the second place Giants. That one will undoubtedly be an emotional affair as the 7-8 parents seem to be the loudest in the park. That’s a good thing parents.
Wow this is really a competitive division. Four of the five teams have one or two losses after yesterday’s games. The Dodgers were in the driver’s seat until the Rays last inning rally gave the Dodgers their first loss of the second half. The Rangers are also sitting pretty with one loss as well while the Rays and the Cardinals are one game back with two losses. This part of the article may not be suitable for “AA” commissioner’s eyes so scan down to the next topic if you are headache prone.
My Wonderful What if Finish to the Season Scenario
What if……. J Oh the possibilities!
What if the Rays win out versus the Red Sox and the Pirates to finish 7-2? What if the Cardinals win out over the Marlins and the Rangers to finish 7-2? You get where I’m going with this by now but, what if the Rangers beat the Dodgers but lose to the Cardinals and the Dodgers beat the Red Sox but lose to the Rangers? We have what you call a commissioner’s nightmare to end the season as four teams would tie for first with identical 7-2 records! YES, what a finish!!!! If we were having a pep rally and were having a competition for the loudest parents, the 7-8 parents would win by a landslide so can you imagine how exciting it would be to have this play out? Oh the possibilities indeed!!!
Player of the Week
Our player of the week has been on a tear lately. No, I’m not talking about Jake Rucker or Lorenzo Butler but both would be deserving winners again this week. Today’s player of the week is the Red Sox Courtland Jordan who posted an impressive .667 batting average this week to lead the league as the Red Sox took on the Reds and Rangers. Jordan has gotten hot at the right time as the Red Sox are in a battle for the second half title. Congratulations to Courtland on a fine week and keep up the good work.
Player of Week Runner-up X3
The Braves’ Justin Smith had a great week as well posting a .600 batting average while Zac Eichstadt and Seth Pentecost were .600 as well for the first place Marlins.
Plays of the week
We have a few great defensive plays to mention this week. The first came from the Braves Mason Potter against the Dodgers on Tuesday. Mason killed a potential Dodgers rally in the first inning when he robbed Will Sipe of a hit at shortstop snagging a line drive out of the air which kept the runners at second and third. Neither run scored as the Braves won 7-3.
In the same game between the Braves and the Dodgers, Hunter Scurlock returned the favor for the Dodgers as he went deep into foul territory from Shortstop to catch a foul ball from Drew Robertson taking one of the Braves dangerous hitters out of the inning.
Michael Martini of the Minor League Orioles made two great plays at first on Tuesday versus the Reds. This game was intense and both plays were huge momentum robbers for the Orioles as Martini snatched two foul balls from his first base position, the second, a lunging shoestring grab by the first base dugout. The Reds went on to win but both plays stalled their mounting momentum.
Mia Dean of the minor Orioles made a great play in the same game as the Reds, trailing at the time, were attempting to play some small ball to get things going. The Reds batter laid down a perfect bunt down third and raced down the line with speed. Mia alertly moved in, grabbed the ball and made a perfect throw to first getting the runner out by a step. The play showed off the type of defensive player Mia “the queen” Dean is as most batters would have easily been safe. The queen has some skills people.
Another great play came on Tuesday in the major Red Sox Reds game. Cody Green was in the batter's box and hit a line drive shot into left center field that was sure to be at least a double but Jherian Maddox, playing left field, came out of nowhere to snag the ball out of the air while in a full sprint causing the Reds third base coach to shake his head in disappointment. Maddox ran a good thirty feet for the grab in one of the better plays made in the outfield this season.
The last play of the week came from the Red Sox Rangers Major league game. The Rangers had DeShaun Jackson on second and for those of you who aren’t familiar with Jackson, the kid can fly. The Rangers attempted a fake bunt/steal hoping DeShaun could beat the shortstop to third when the third baseman moved in to cover the bunt. A foot race between Jackson and Red Sox shortstop Lorenzo Butler ensued as both raced to the bag. The most impressive thing about the play was the heads up decision of catcher Alex Dillard, Instead of waiting on Butler to reach the bag, Dillard threw the ball to third in anticipation that Butler would be there when the ball arrived. Butler was indeed there and made the tag easily to record the out. Now that’s teamwork!
That’s all I have for this week. Until next week…………….
The Week That Was
We are finally caught up with the 9-10 and 11-12 game recaps so we can now turn our attention to the week that was around the quad. Let’s start with the second half battles in each division. This week we will focus on the Minor and Major divisions as the 7-8’s scores are incomplete at this time.
The saying goes it’s not over until the fat lady sings but I can safely say at this point that the fat lady will not be needed as the Cubs are one game away from wrapping up the 2012 National League title. A Cubs win over the Rays on Tuesday and a Braves and Rockies loss will mean there are not enough games left to play for the Cubs to lose the championship. My guess is the game is close but the Cubs come away with the win to wrap up the championship.
The American League has been the more competitive of the two leagues as the Reds and Rays have given the Orioles something to think about each week as both teams have held their own all season. It will take the second half leading Orioles much longer to claim the championship for this reason as the Rays are two games back and the Reds three. Both teams play the Orioles in the next few games with an Orioles game versus the Cubs mixed in so the time is now for these guys to make a move otherwise the title will go to the Orioles. My gut says Orioles at this stage in the season as the Orioles are playing better than anyone.
The Major League has been very competitive all season as every team has had their share of success over the other but in the second half no team has been able to figure out the Marlins as they have been very slippery to date. The Marlins (5-0) hold a one game lead over the Cardinals (4-1) and the Red Sox (4-1) and a two game lead over the Rangers (4-2). The Marlins have to face all three in the coming weeks so time will tell if the Marlins have what it takes to claim the second half title or if another will overtake them in the final turn towards home. It’s going to be fun!
Player of the Week
Our player of the week is Lorenzo Butler of the Major Red Sox. The Red Sox had two tough games this week versus the White Sox and the Rangers. Butler almost single handedly defeated the White Sox hitting a huge homerun to tie the game in the final inning and then hitting a cushion padding two-run inside the park homerun in the seventh. Butler then relieved starting pitcher Hayden Layne on the mound and retired the White Sox in order striking out two of the three to earn the save. In his next game versus the Rangers, Butler was 2-2 scoring two runs to help the Red Sox defeat the Rangers giving him 4 hits in five official at-bats for the week for an impressive .800 batting average.
My runner-up has to be mentioned as well as the Rangers Jake Rucker had a great three game week going 7-10 to lead the Rangers to a 2-1 record while also throwing a no-hitter on Saturday. Both players deserve a hand for a fine performance this week.
Plays of the Week
I was out of town this week so my plays of the week will be brief. I was updated on a few plays that stood out so here we go.
Lorenzo Butler gets the nod for his fine performance versus the White Sox hitting a game tying homerun in the final inning for the Red Sox and then following that up with a inside the park homerun in his next at-bat to help the Red Sox secure the win 4-1 in seven innings.
Jacob Watts of the Rangers made a nice play in left field versus the Dodgers. Hunter Scurlock hit what was thought to be a base hit into short left field but Watts made the grab diving after the ball to rob Scurlock of a sure hit.
The Rangers made another great defensive play in the same game as Jake Rucker leaped into the air and snagged a line drive shot from Cole Carter to deny Carter a sure hit.
Finally, our last play of the week was a tag team effort as the Reds Rex Warren, Trevor Horton and Andrew Waters combined to turn the difficult 4-6-3 double play versus the Marlins. Nice job to all of the plays of the week recipients and here’s hoping we have many more this week.
The Week That Was
We are still cruising along in the second half of the season and things are getting interesting in the Majors division. I’ve already noted that any team can beat anybody on any given day and this week was another example of that well known fact as the Cardinals lost to the Marlins and the Red Sox went down to the Dodgers. Other games were close as well as the Rangers had to fight off challenges from the Phillies and the Braves this week while Reds took the Cardinals to the wire before going down and later bounced back on Saturday with a come from behind WWE win over the Phillies. It seems every game is in doubt until the final out is recorded; Fun stuff indeed!
Major League Second Half Race “Slippery When Wet”
Today we have a new leader on the leaderboard. The Marlins are proving to be slippery when wet as they have slithered by three teams en route to a sparkling 3-0 record in the second half. This team is not a fluke ladies and gentlemen as they have played great defense the entire season with solid pitching as well. Don’t be surprised if the Marlins are fighting for the lead at the end of the second half chase.
Rest of the Field
The Cardinals have been a little sluggish to start the second half after winning the first half crown winning a close contest over the Reds 3-2 and falling yesterday to the Marlins 2-1. Time will tell if the Cards can get their mojo back to make a charge. The Red Sox and Rangers have been the gold standard in the Major league over the last several years and are drafting nicely behind the Marlins at 2-1. The question is will either sneak past the pack and take the second half or will another challenger stake their claim this season. The Reds are also sitting at 2-1 with the Cardinals, Red Sox and Rangers and have been much improved in the last half of the season. My guess is these guys are going to have a say in the second half as well.
There really isn’t much to say at this point in the Minor League as the Cubs and the Orioles are at it again both posting 5-0 records to date. The Cubs are down to a magic number of four to win the 2012 National league crown while the Orioles have a two game lead and still have much work to do in order to claim the American league title. I don’t think the Reds, after yesterday’s game versus the Orioles, are going to be willing to let the Orioles get away that easily.
The AA division is in full swing and the American League race is tight as ever. The Cardinals are much improved and have been giving teams fits lately as was the case yesterday as they held the lead entering the final inning against the undefeated Dodgers only to fall in a nail biter 12-11. The Dodgers are a perfect 4-0 in the second half and are tied with their nemesis, the Rays who are 4-0 as well. The Rangers are one behind at 3-1 after righting the ship after a disappointing loss to the Red Sox a few games earlier. The Cardinals are even at 2-2 after losing two heartbreakers to the Rays and the Dodgers by one run.
The National League is shaping up to be a two team race between the Giants (2-1) and the Red Sox (3-1). The Red Sox have been playing well in the second half defeating the Rangers and the Giants to date. The Red Sox may be the team to beat at this point with the huge win over the Giants in the books but we still have several games left as the Red Sox and Giants are tied in the loss column with one loss each. No other team has fewer than three losses in the division.
Player of the Week
This is the first time I have had a player of the week but after yesterday’s Phillies/ Reds game I had to mention something about this incredible kid. Jay Flemming gets the nod as I continue to be amazed at how well this kid plays the game having only one arm. Just to see him catch a ball at first, flip the ball in the air, drop his glove, catch the ball and throw in one fluid motion is a sight to behold. I don’t think I have enough coordination to accomplish half of that maneuver not to mention the other things he does so well. Yesterday, Flemming led his team offensively with two hits and even though his team came up short, my hat comes off at his effort each and every game. Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things you can attempt in sports and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Jay but he really makes the game look easy and is an inspiration to us all. Keep up the good work Jay!
Plays of the Week
Man, where do I begin? This week was full of great plays but the play that topped them all came from seven year old Easton Dillard who pulled off the rarest of plays in a game, an unassisted triple play. With runners on first and second, Dillard and his Braves teammates were in a bind but never fear, Dillard was here to save the day snatching a line drive at shortstop for the first out. He then tagged the runner at second for the second out and continued toward the runner at first tagging him for the third out to end the inning for the Braves. That was a seven year old kid who knew what to do with the ball people. Some 11-12 year olds have trouble knowing what to do with the ball instinctively after catching a line drive which makes this possibly the play of the year.
Speaking of the Majors division, the rest of our plays come from here as I didn’t get any updates from the Minors this week. First up is Kennedy Jordan of the White Sox. Playing second base, Kennedy got a great jump on a line drive up the middle snagging the ball out of the air as he raced to his left.
I mentioned earlier how well the Marlins are playing defense; well Zach Deakins is one of those Marlins players. Deakins robbed Andrew Snyder of a sure hit making a diving catch from center field of a ball that was some 30 feet in front of him over second base. The play drew the famous Rick Flair whoooo from head coach Jerry Big Fish Marlin. It is worth mentioning that this is Zach’s first season playing baseball which makes this catch all the more impressive.
Our next play came from the same game from the Marlins Hunter Crawford. Crawford, playing third, robbed Andrew Snyder as well as he snatched a sure hit out of the air moving to his left not only robbing Snyder of a sure hit but also keeping the Cardinals from scoring a run in the process. Two birds with one stone would be the appropriate term. This is the main reason the Marlins defeated the Cardinals yesterday as this Marlins team can really handle the glove.
Our next great defensive play came from Peyton Brown of the Phillies. Brown, playing short, made a great backhanded grab of a well hit grounder and alertly reversed his body and threw a strike to third for the force out. Great hands and body work from Mr. Brown indeed.
The Law firm of Seals, Mays and Minton are our next great defensive play as they teamed up for a crisp 1-6-3 double play in their game versus the Dodgers. Plays like this helped propel the White Sox to victory.
My last play of the week comes from our Player of the week himself, Jay Flemming. As I mentioned earlier, Flemming not only led the Phillies on offense yesterday but made one of the plays of the game as well at first as he snagged a sharply hit line drive for an out. As I said this kid really impresses me. The drop, flip and throw were and added bonus as well after the catch. Greta job Jay!
That’s about all I have for now as I am late getting out of here to go support the league in the golf scramble. We won’t contend but we will have some fun anyway.
Until next week…….
And So It Begins…. The Second Half!
The second half is kind of like a second chance; a mulligan for those of you who play the game of golf, a chance to start over or, hit another ball, and begin anew. The second half has seen some teams turn things around in hopes of finishing the season on a winning note. One of those teams is the minor Reds. The Reds are the two time defending American League champs but stumbled out of the gate in the first half. Since then, the Reds have been on a tear winning six in a row before tripping up to the Rays yesterday. The Reds look like they are primed and ready to challenge the second time around. Another team that has had some second half success is the “AA” Red Sox. The Red Sox muddled through the first half at 2-7 but after yesterday’s huge upset of the Rangers, 15-6, they are now in first place in the National League at 2-0. The Major Reds are another team that struggled through the first half but have improved as the season progressed. The Reds opened second half play yesterday claiming victory in comeback fashion getting a win in one game when it took them three games before getting their first win in the first half. The Minor Rays are another team on the rise. The Rays fell short of the first half title finishing 7-5 but have run off three wins in a row with the last two being second half games. They now stand at 2-0 in the second half, tied with the Orioles in the American League chase.
Some Things Stay the Same
There have been a few teams this season that just seem to win game after game. The Minor Cubs and Orioles are two of those teams. After winning the first half with a few games remaining, both teams coasted to the finish line; the Cubs finishing 10-1 and the Orioles 9-2. The second half has begun and both teams are at it again, posting 2-0 records to move ahead of the pack. These two are going to be hard to catch at the rate they are going. The Major Cardinals are another team that has the energizer bunny on their side as they just keep going and going. After falling in their final first half game, the Cardinals got back to business yesterday rolling over the White Sox 10-1 to open second half play. In “AA” action, the Dodgers and the Rays are back at it as both are 2-0 in the second half. The Rays chased down the Dodgers in the first half race, defeating the Dodgers in a play-off to win the first half crown. The way things are shaping up, we may see another play-off at the end of the season as well.
Plays of the Week
We only have two plays to mention as I didn’t get any information from many games around the quad. The first play of the week came yesterday from Hunter Scurlock. Hunter made a nice grab of a line drive up the middle in the Dodgers game versus the Marlins. The play, unfortunately, couldn’t keep the Marlins from claiming victory 3-2 but it was a nice heads up effort by the Dodgers shortstop.
The next play was the top play for two reasons, difficulty and meaning to the game. The Braves Drew Robertson was playing first against the first half champion Cardinals Thursday night with his team clinging to a 7-6 lead late in the game. The Cardinals had runners on second and third with one out with Marcus Watson at the plate when Watson hit a bullet between first and second that Robertson knocked down. He alertly grabbed the ball from the ground and raced to first sliding feet first to beat Watson to the bag in a bang, bang play. One run scored but the second had to hold at third tying the score at 7-7 but keeping the Cardinals from moving ahead. The next play was another grounder over the first base bag that Robertson handled easily ending the inning and keeping the Braves in the game. In the bottom half of the inning, the Braves were able to score on a passed ball to win the game making Robertson’s effort the play that saved the game for the Braves. Doing all you can to help your team win is the attitude it takes to win games. Nice job Drew on a job well done.
That is all we have for now. The league would like to send a happy Mother’s Day to every mother at the park. We are thankful your children are part of our family. Have a great day and we hope to see you all at the quad in days to come.
FINALLY! “Single A” NEWS
I finally got some news on the “A” division so we have something to report on the first half champions.
Here we go: National league
The Single "A" Phillies captured the national league first half championship on Saturday. This was a first half that was full of pressure the entire half. The Red Sox & the Phillies remained unbeaten for the entire first half until the Red Sox were upset last Monday by the Mets. The Phillies then played the Red Sox on Saturday. If the Phillies win, they take the first half title. If the Phillies lose then a first half championship game will be needed. There was no championship game needed as the Phillies took care of business on Saturday. The old saying, "Defense wins championships" still holds true. The Phillies played nearly a flawless game on defense. The game was close & the Red Sox put up a good fight but in the end the Phillies prevailed. The Phillies were led by Christian Biggs, Kyree Christian, Elijah "Peanut" Cherry, Christian Mason & Chandler Brown. The Red Sox, coached by Billy Fitzwilson, were led by Gavin King, Jackson Fitzwilson, Hayden Chaves & Elijah Stockten. Congrats to the Red Sox for a great first half run & the Phillies for a perfect 9-0 first half. The second half looks to be very interesting as the National League is definitely the strongest division and the Mets, Indians & Rangers look to improve in the second half.
The first half champion in the American League was the Cardinals after posting a record of 6-3. The Cardinals stayed consistent game after game to claim the prize but will be tested in the second half by the Twins. The Twins had several close losses in the first half so these guys could challenge in the second half especially if Logan Harrell gets in a groove but until further notice, the Cardinals are the team to beat.
Time to award our first half champions
First half champions, it has a nice ring to it. When you’ve won the first half it seems like the weight of the world is lifted from your shoulders. As a coach, you know that you are at least guaranteed a playoff game at the end of the season for the overall title and if you play well in the second half, everything is over. It’s a nice position to be in. We are now at the point in the season when we have crowned some champions and one other will be playing a playoff today to determine its champion.
In the Majors division we have had a two team race for a few weeks but yesterday we finally had one of those teams flinch allowing the other to claim victory. The Red Sox entered the day one game back needing to continue to win and hope for a Cardinals loss to get into a playoff but it wasn’t to be as they felt the sting of Mr.” letdown” falling to the Dodgers 2-0 after defeating the same team 18-4 three days earlier. With the Red Sox losing, the Cardinals were in position to win the championship with a victory over the Reds and the Cardinals didn’t waste any time jumping out to a first inning 5-0 lead en route to a 10-2 victory. The Cardinals now turn their attention to the second half with the goal of repeating as second half champions. The road will be more difficult as the batters always take over in the second half so look for several teams to make a claim in the second half.
The Minor National league first half race has been over for some time as the Cubs opened the season with eight consecutive wins before losing their first game. The race now moves into the second half with the Cubs showing some vulnerability but can anyone take advantage? I can see the Rockies challenging the Cubs but my gut says the Cubs repeat.
The Orioles, like the Cubs, opened the season with eight consecutive wins to wrap up the first half a few games back but the Orioles too, are showing some cracks in the armor as they’ve lost two of three games to end the first half. The Orioles have a tougher road with the Rays and Reds both playing well as both should challenge for the title. Pitching will determine the champion as all three teams hit well so my not so confident pick will be the Orioles again. I don’t think it will be nearly as easy the second time around but the Orioles just may have enough to pull it out in a playoff with the Reds.
The “AA” American division was all but over in my mind when I left for St Louis last Saturday as the Dodgers had beaten the Rays convincingly but, low and behold, I come to the park this week and discover the Dodgers lost on Monday after leading early 14-1. The final score was 15-14 and the amazing thing about the score is in 7-8 baseball the offenses rule the day so for a team as talented as the Dodgers to get shut out the rest of the game and lose is unbelievable. We now fast forward to today and the Rays and the Dodgers are tied once again for first with a playoff game being played today for the championship. This game is way too close to call so I’ll just have to wait and see who emerges when the dust settles.
Plays of the Week
As usual we’ve had some great plays this week. Cole Pulley of the Marlins leads off this section playing first base. Cole made a great grab of a foul ball sprinting in from his position to make the catch between home plate and the dugout. Nice grab indeed! The Red Sox Lorenzo Butler made a great catch at short stop against the Phillies. “Z” got a great jump on the ball off of the bat and snagged the ball in short left field by grabbing the ball over the shoulder on the run showing off some nice range and glove. The White Sox Ty Dean made a great catch in centerfield coming forward to take a hit away while Logan Moore of the Marlins made a great grab in right field running down the right foul line.
Justin Smith made his debut for the Braves and paid immediate dividends. This game was a tight one and Justin made a huge play to end the inning. Playing pitcher, the ball was drilled up the middle. Justin snagged the ball, threw to third for the force. Third baseman Mason Potter immediately threw to Tanner Bailey playing second for the second out and inning ending double play. Great teamwork guys!
Hustle Plays wear off on teammates
Coaches love to see players give 100%. The Dodgers got some great effort from their centerfielder Friday and apparently this hustle is trickling down to the rest of the team as they defeated the Red Sox Saturday. The player I’m talking about is Justin Mathes. Mathes was playing centerfield for the Dodgers and made two nice hustle plays that impressed me thoroughly. The first was on an attempted steal by the Reds. The throw was on target but neither middle infielder could come up with the ball. The centerfielder is supposed to move in to back up the back uppers, so to speak, and Justin did it like a pro moving in and fielding the ball holding the runner at second. Normally, missed tag plays end up with a run on the scoreboard but not today. The second great hustle play by Justin came later in the game with a runner on first with two out. The ball was hit sharply and Justin came forward once again, fielded the ball cleanly throwing to second for the force out to end the inning. The following day, these guys are celebrating in the winner’s circle. That’s what it takes from an entire team to be successful, everyone doing their part to effect change in a game no matter how insignificant that part may seem. Way to lead by example Justin and congratulations to the Dodgers team for their big win yesterday.
That’s all I have for now. Until next week………
Another Week at the Quad: Abbreviated version
We are now on our way back from St Louis as I write this. Luke Brown’s head is hanging low once more as his mighty World Series Champion St Louis Cardinals lost 3-2 to the Brewers. Last season we went to Atlanta to see the Braves and the Cardinals and the Cardinals lost that one as well to the home standing Braves so he is now 0-2 in two attempts to see his beloved Cardinals win. Hang in there Luke! Better days are ahead.
At the quad we had a pretty busy week. No-hitters, No-hitter taken away, undefeated teams going down, great defense and teamwork highlighted our week at Moss Wright Park. But before we get to our individual accomplishments, let’s get up to date on the division races.
In the Majors division, the Cardinals keep rolling along and now only have one challenger to the first half crown as a few teams have fallen back. The Red Sox are now the only team standing in the Cardinals way as the Phillies and the Rangers both lost to fall three games behind in the loss column. The Red Sox are drafting on the Cardinals bumper one game behind at 6-2 hoping to find an opening to make the pass but the way these Cards are playing there’s little wiggle room to make the pass. The Cardinals are trying to break the monopoly that the Rangers (7 championships) and Red Sox (2 championships) have had in the majors division over the past nine years. The way these guys are playing my guess is the streak will be broken.
The Minors division no longer has any undefeated teams left as the National Cubs and the American Orioles both fell on Saturday. As I mentioned I wasn’t there this weekend to see the scores so all I have are the facts. The Cubs have already locked up the first half championship but the Orioles needed a win to wrap up the title and will now have to wait a few days at another chance after losing to the Reds while the Rays were victorious. The Orioles are still an easy bet to wrap up the first half soon as it looks like it is only a matter of time.
Dodgers vs. Rays
This game was like a matchup between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Haggler or Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier; Epic! Both the Rays and the Dodgers entered the day undefeated in the American League eager to break free of one another. The Dodgers would emerge victorious 19-11 as they played long ball the entire game blasting shot after shot over the heads of the Rays outfield. My guess is these two will have some intense games the rest of the way but the first half just may be in the hands of the Dodgers after this big win. I wish I could have seen it!
A no hitter is something that usually doesn’t happen often. To go through an entire game and not allow the opposing team to get a base hit is an accomplishment worth noting and this week we had three that were awarded while another was denied by, if you ask most people in attendance, an awarded hit that was actually an error but the pitching effort was grand none the less. We will begin with the no hitter that wasn’t to be.
I Need a Second Opinion
Hayden Layne of the Red Sox was in the zone Thursday night against the Marlins striking out 12 batters and walking none. Sadly, a lone hit was registered on the official scorebook from a ball that was hit to the centerfielder. The ball in question was misplayed by the centerfielder bouncing off of his glove but was sadly ruled a hit on the official book. Boooooooo! The Sherman tank rolled the rest of the way leading the Red Sox to a 3-1 victory keeping them on the Cardinals heels for first place. Great effort Hayden with or without the official credit!
“No no not to be”
Sometimes a rare occurrence happens. A player is having a great night on the mound dominating the opposition but his teammates aren’t having as much fun. Such was the case for the Rangers Jake Rucker who was credited with a no-hitter but his team lost the game 3-1 to the White Sox. Man what a tough way to get a no-hitter, silence the opposing offense but lose the game. Credit the White Sox for finding a way to win and tough luck to Jake and the Rangers for a disappointing loss.
Litton likey no hitter
The Minor Orioles Eli Litton got into the no-hit act as well blanking the dangerous Rockies on Thursday night 11-0. Litton handled the weather and the opposition helping the Orioles move one step closer to the first half championship. Nice job Eli.
Prrrrrrfect! I can hear Cat Woman whispering as I type. I know the word above is misspelled but the Cardinals Blake Osborne’s was purring like a fined oiled machine cruising down the highway for six complete innings Saturday not allowing a single Dodgers hitter to reach base for a once in a lifetime Perfect game. No-hitters are nice but Perfect games are, "roll your tongue people," prrrrrrrfect!.
Way to go Blake!
Great Plays of the Week
As usual we had some great plays this week. We will begin with a great tag team effort from the battery of Cole Carter and Ryan Lyle of the Dodgers. Cole Carter was out of his element spending this game on the mound instead of behind the plate but his catcher instincts came through on this particular play. After a wild pitch got past Lyle behind the plate the runner raced home for the score, Carter streaked in to the plate while Lyle made a perfect grab and toss to Carter for the catch and tag (bang bang) to deny the runner at home. The relay was picture perfect showing what good teamwork and hustle can bring. Nice job.
In Thursday’s game between the Marlins and the Red Sox, the Marlins Zach Eichstadt made a great play at second snatching a line drive off the bat of Luke Brown that was easily going to go for multiple bases. Instead, Eichstadt made the grab and quickly relayed to the shortstop at second to double off the Red Sox runner. The great play kept the Red Sox off the board in the first inning. NICE!
The Dreaded Let Down
The ‘let down” gremlin strikes again! Friday night the Major Phillies were busy giving the Major Braves the Peoples elbow, 16-0 but a day later the Phillies came out flat and dropped a stunner to the Marlins to almost erase any chance for a shot at the first half title. The mighty let down gremlin is real and a force to be reckoned with. On the bright side, the Marlins were able to get a win after enduring a five game winless stretch.
That’s all I have this week. Keep the great plays and team efforts coming in…… Great trip to St louis but I can't wait to get HOME!!!
April 22, 2012
Week three around the Quad
First half Races
As we continue to move forward, we are now beginning to get a clearer picture in the race for the first half championship. In the Majors division, the Cardinals are beginning to pull away after taking down the Red Sox Saturday in a battle for first place. Next on the menu for the Cardinals will be the Phillies on Tuesday. The Phillies were in a three-way tie with the Cardinals and the Red Sox entering Saturday but were unable to pull one out versus the Rangers so they too fall a game behind the Cardinals as we begin our turn towards home. If the Phillies can’t tame this tiger of a team, the Cardinals, on Tuesday then the Cardinals may be on their way to the first half title. My gut continues to tell me the Cardinals will win the first half with the rest of the league nipping at their heels.
The Minor division still has our two undefeated teams moving along. Both have had close calls but have managed to stay the course. The biggest challenger to the Cubs has been the Rockies. These teams have played twice in the first half with the Cubs having to battle back from big deficits each time. The Cubs now have somewhere around a two to three game cushion on the rest of the field so I feel pretty confident they will go ahead and close out the first half championship soon.
The other undefeated team in the minors is the Orioles. The Orioles have had some close calls as well with the latest being the Reds with Jimmy Watson providing the thorn to the proverbial side. The Reds actually provided some assistance to the Orioles Saturday as they defeated the Rays 9-4 to help the Orioles to pull out to a three game lead with a few games left. I’m not going to call this one like I have with the Cubs based on the fact the Orioles still have some tough games ahead. Having a three game lead going into this stretch makes the challenge look a little brighter I would assume.
The American league has become a two team race for the first half championship. The Rays are cruising along at 5-0 and the Dodgers are just as impressive at 5-0 as well. After the Rays big win over the Rangers yesterday the next big test will be Saturday versus these undefeated Dodgers. Will this game produce the same fireworks that the Rangers and the Rays produced? I wish I could be there to find out but my team is headed to St Louis for a team trip to see the Cardinals and the Brewers so I’ll have to get some witness accounts. Bummer! This one will be a hard one to call.
The National league has seen the Giants emerge as the frontrunner. The Giants are looking pretty impressive after taking down the Rangers 18-5 Monday night and have raced out to an early two game lead on the rest of field. Three of their final four games will be a challenge so I will have to wait a few games before anointing the Giants first half champs in the national league.
“AA game of the week”
Rangers vs. Rays
Yesterday we had two strong teams squaring off on the field in a battle for supremacy in the American league. This game would not disappoint with great hits and defense on both sides. The Rangers would get the first crack at putting some runs on the board but the Rays would have none of it holding the Rangers scoreless with great infield defense. The Rays would counter in the bottom half with a strong display of offense scoring five runs which could have been more without the exploits of Rangers pitcher Jaxon Hayes who stopped three grounders up the middle throwing to third for the force on all three outs. The Rangers were able to score one run in the top half of the second to close to 5-1 later scoring another in the fourth when Tyler Jones led off with a triple scoring minutes later to inch the Rangers ever closer at 5-2.
Defensively the Rangers were on fire making play after play to keep the game close! Braden Kelly made a spectacular play behind second base from his short stop position to get the out at first. Ryan Kelly made a diving catch in left field to save another possible Rays rally and Bryson Sanders made another we will address later. All of these great plays allowed the Rangers to hang in the game long enough to finally break through the Rays equally stout defense in the sixth scoring three runs to pull even at 5-5 with the Rays coming to bat for the final time. At this point everything is simple for the Rays, score and the game ends, don’t and we enter an extra inning. As the batters come out of the dugout to hit I’m figuring the game is essentially over with Carson “The Beast” Rucker coming to the plate. Mr. Rucker usually hits the ball through the outfield fence with exceptional power for a seven year old so I’m giving the game to the Rays at this juncture by default. As expected, Carson delivers with another bomb to left field but this time, as mentioned earlier in my great plays spotlight Bryson Sanders makes a game saving catch at the fence for the out. One huge batter out with two more to go. The Rangers, steadily closing the gap all game, are feeling destiny is on their side after the great catch but it wasn’t meant to be. Justin Brown stepped to the plate and delivered a big blast to right center field that found a hole in the Rays stingy defense allowing Brown to round the bases and end the game with a walk-off inside the park homerun. Final score Rays 6 Rangers 5. What a great game by two really impressive teams from the American League. What will round two bring down the road? Can’t wait to find out!!!!!
Whoever said it’s not about winning apparently was born an adult and never went through childhood because every one of these guys and girls wants to win; well, maybe not the 5-6’s, they are interested in more important things like playing in the dirt and getting their team snack after the game to worry about such trivial things like the score but that will change soon…..VERY soon.
This week we had two more teams get into the win column and experience the joys of victory. The Minor Dodgers were the first to claim victory when they laid the smack down on the Rangers 13-2 Tuesday night. The Dodgers took out a few games frustration on the Rangers as almost every player on the team got at least one hit. This team has been playing much more competitively lately confirming my beginning of the year statement that they would be a little slow out of the gate but would continue to improve and challenge late.
Our second first game winners this week were the Major Dodgers. After seeing their little brothers claim victory, the big boys caught the fever and went out and got a win as well defeating the Marlins 3-2 behind some dominant pitching from Ryan Lyle. This team has been snake bit all season as they have lost two games by a score of 2-1, another 9-8 and the final loss 3-0. If this team gets the bats going, wins will come in bunches.
Great defensive plays are a common occurrence around the quad. It seems that every week a player is making a highlight reel play and this week was no different as several players fit the bill. The Red Sox Michael Waller made an outstanding play against the Cardinals at first base making a diving catch to his right from a John Williams line drive, tagging the runner at first for the second out and almost completing the triple play by throwing home to get the tagging runner trying to score. The throw was just late and got by the catcher but it was a wonderful effort anyway.
Seth Pentecost made a great play at shortstop for the Marlins in their game versus the White Sox diving to snag a line drive out of the air while the 7-8’s had several in one game featuring two top teams in the American league. Braden Kelly of the Rangers made a great stop from short sprinting over behind second base to corral the ball and fire to first for the out. Ryan Kelly made a diving catch in left field venturing to his right from his position in left center field and Bryson Sanders made a great catch in left field for the Rangers off of a Carson Rucker missile. Great stuff indeed!!! The 7-8 Rays defense had several awesome plays as well but I don’t have the names to honor them.
That’s all I have for this week. Stay safe and keep the great plays and even greater games rolling in!
April 15, 2012
Week two has passed with several interesting developments occurring. The Majors division now has zero teams undefeated as the Marlins and the Red Sox lost this week which, once again, confirms the parity of the league. We now have three teams locked with one loss each. The Cardinals, Phillies and the Red Sox are all tied for first with the Rangers on their heels with two losses. Of the three one loss teams, I have to give the nod to the Cardinals as my favorite to win the first half. These guys go seven deep on offense and have arguably the best pitching staff in the league. The Phillies are looking good lately after dropping their opening season game to the Red Sox. Austin Ford is finding his groove on the mound and Haven Mangrum has looked good as well. These two give the Phillies a legitimate shot at staying in the race to the end. The Red Sox have a strong pitching staff as well with Luke Brown, Hayden Layne and Lorenzo Butler carrying the load. Brown was ruffed up Thursday night versus the Reds but as a whole the Red Sox aren’t going to give you many free passes in the box which means you have to hit to win. Both the Reds Sox and Phillies have a shot but the Cardinals just look stronger.
Great game X2
For the kids reading this, X2 means “times 2” as we had two great team performances this week. The first came courtesy of the Reds as they totally dominated the Red Sox from beginning to end. Collin O’Berry almost hit for the cycle as he went 3-3 with a single, double and homerun while the rest of the team chipped in as well finishing the game with thirteen hits and twelve runs. Pretty awesome!
The second great team performance came last night in the final major league game of the night. The Reds took part in this one as well but were on the receiving end this time as the Phillies got offensive scoring eleven runs and collecting eleven hits. Austin Ford looked dominant until being relieved by Taylor Holloway.
Rolaids game of the week
Rolaids spells relief, well that’s what the commercial used to say, and I would say the Rangers fans are feeling relieved after surviving a scare from the Dodgers in a 9-8 thriller. The Rangers were in total command for the entire game until the final inning when the Dodgers, trailing 9-1, rallied to 9-8 and had the tying and go ahead runs on second and third; the pivotal moment coming when a Dodgers batter hit a fly ball into left field that fell foul by a few feet. The hit most likely brings in the tying and go ahead runs but it wasn’t meant to be as Eli Steffy got the batter to pop out to end the game on the next pitch. It was a very entertaining ending if you were watching the game as a fan.
We have two teams undefeated after two weeks of play and both are looking pretty strong. My two favorites, the Cubs and the Orioles, are holding strong after being tested a couple times this year. The Cubs survived several boulders being thrown their way by the Rockies dodging every rally like a dodge ball champion pulling out the win in seven innings 8-7. The Rockies have definitely made a statement after two weeks of play that they are a team to fear.
The Orioles are 4-0 and have had some close tests as well. The Rays gave them their biggest challenge to date falling 7-6. I really like what I see from the Orioles. Sam Browning has been terrific in the lead-off position, Mia “the queen” Dean is starting to get things going and Jacob Smith has probably the best arm in the league as a nine year old and as far as I can remember, hasn’t even thrown an inning this season. This team is deep and hits as well as any in the league which will make them a tough team to take down night in and out. The Orioles have to be favored to claim the first half championship at this point in the season.
Coach Bill King from the Cubs will tell you that pitching is a vital key to a championship team. The Rangers, in my opinion, have the ingredients to be a champion. Parker Hay, Ryan Haye, Derek Steen and Cobey Allison are as good a 1,2,3,4 punch as any in the league but the Achilles heel through two weeks is pitching. The Strike zone has been unkind as the Rangers have walked 12 batters in at least two games with six runs scoring from the free passes. Both games could have been wins if the strike zone had been a little kinder. If these guys can find their groove on the mound, I can see them challenging the Cubs for the crown.
After two weeks I am totally convinced that the American League is where the big boys play. One team that I overlooked in my beginning season write up was the Dodgers. I had a chance to see some of their win over the Cardinals yesterday and I noticed Coach Adam Wheeler on the sidelines for the Dodgers. Coach Wheeler coached the 5-6 Cubs the past two seasons going to the championship game both seasons so the Dodgers are in good hands as their record indicates. The Dodgers are 3-0 and are tied with the Rangers and the Rays for first in the super competitive American League. I have to give the nod to the Rays as my favorite to claim the first half (Carson Rucker is a beast) but in 7-8 baseball anything can happen.
On the national league side we have two teams trying to separate from the pack. The Yankees and the Pirates are both 2-2 and look to be the favorites in the first half. The Yankees lost both of their games to the Rays and the Rangers by identical scores of 12-4 but were able to defeat the Cardinals 13-6 which was a huge win for the bombers. The Pirates and the Yankees look pretty even up to this point judging by the posted scores so choosing a winner between these two is too hard to call for now. May 4th should give us an indication which has what it takes to win the first half when they meet for the first time on the field.
Until next week…….
Week one is in the bag…….almost
The first week of the season has passed and we’ve already had some interesting developments and great plays. We will begin with the big boys, the kings of the roost, the mighty 11-12 year olds. As was stated in my beginning of the year observations anyone can and will win from game to game in this very competitive league. In week one we’ve already been reminded that if you do not bring your “A-game” to the field expect to be defeated, but before we get to our surprises we have to start from the beginning.
Opening day saw some close games and some not so close games. The most dominant win of the day belonged to the defending champion Rangers who rolled to an impressive 9-3 win over the expansion Reds. My vote for most exciting game went to the Marlins and the Dodgers who played to extra innings before we had a victor with the Marlins pushing across the winning run on an errant throw to third. My play of the week came from shortstop Austin Mays of the White Sox who made a spectacular play fielding a smoking hot shot up the middle over second base firing a strike to first for the out; small kid + BIG arm = OUT!!!!
On Tuesday my two favorites, the Rangers and the Cardinals took the field and lived up to my pre-season hype dismantling their foes by scores of 11-3 and 13-2 respectively. After Thursday’s games were rained out and rescheduled for this Wednesday we had our first big game of the week pitting my two pre-season favorites on the field against each other. The Rangers and the Cardinals faced off Friday night in the only Major league game on the schedule and the game was everything I expected. Jake Rucker and Brock Meyers faced off on the mound holding each team’s offense at bay after both struggled to get their footing in the first. The Cardinals took round one 3-2 with the second installment coming this Thursday night. You might want to come to the park for that one at 7:45pm.
In coaching circles the mighty let down is a real gremlin that teams fall victim to all too often. The Braves, in search of their first win of the season, found themselves in the perfect storm facing the Cardinals after a big emotional win the night before. The Braves had the gremlin, Mr. Letdown, in their corner and took full advantage, defeating the mighty Cardinals 3-0 to gain that all important first win. The Cardinals just didn’t have the fire necessary to put it all together with Mr. Letdown pulling at their jerseys but I expect they will be back with a vengeance soon.
Saturday’s games were full of close encounters. The Marlins picked up their second win of the season over the Reds 2-0 while the Red Sox were thankful the White Sox were in a generous mood as they gift wrapped an Easter 2-1 win for the Red Sox allowing them to go 2-0 on the season. The final game of the weekend saw the Phillies take down the Dodgers 2-1 for the fourth close contest of day.
Minor League update
Week one of the minor league season went pretty much as expected with the Cubs staying the course at 3-0 and the Orioles not far behind at 2-0. The Rays continue to be the surprise of the season posting a record of 2-1 after falling to the Cubs on opening day. The Reds showed some power on the mound on opening day with a dominating 4-0 win behind 11 strikeouts from Landon Goodman making his big brother Hayden proud. Meanwhile, the Braves held steady at 2-1 after an opening day loss to the Orioles. (news flash the Rockies took down the Braves on Saturday to move to 2-1 on the season leaving the Braves reeling at 1-2.) That's what I get for assuming huh?
I expect the American League to be the more competitive league with the Orioles, Reds and Rays all playing well. The Cubs are looking more and more like the class of the National League early in the race but it’s still too early to know if they can continue their steady play. The Braves look to me to be the team able to mount the strongest challenge to the Cubs dominance in the National League this year. April 24th will give us a good idea when these two face off on the field for the first time. You might want to come check that one out.
As of today nothing has been posted for the 5-6 division and since I don’t get up at the break of dawn to see these little guys play on Saturdays I don’t have anything to post until the commissioner has time to get them on the site.
The “AA” division should be a four horse race with the American league looking like the division that will be the toughest to win. The Rays, Rangers and Cardinals all reside in the American league and all are well coached which will lead to some very entertaining games during the season. Early on it looks as if the Rays and the Rangers are taking command as both are undefeated as I write this article. The Cardinals have been strong but faced the Yankees and Rays to open the season losing both in close battles. The Yankees only have one game posted but I am assuming they won Saturday to move to 2-0 on the year. My take is the Yankees should come out on top in the National League.
That’s about it for this edition. Here’s hoping you and your family has a safe Easter Sunday and I hope to see you all at the quad this week for some week 2 action!
The 2012 minor league season preview and predictions
Unlike yesterday’s passage, today I will make some pre-season observations and predictions on who I think should be the favorites and who to look out for as dark horses for the upcoming minor league campaign. We have had some changes to the minor league since last summer with the contraction of four teams which should make the season an interesting one as teams that struggled last season are now primed to be the bullies this time around the quad.
First on my list are the National League Cubs. This is my overall favorite as best team in the league based on what they have coming back as ten year olds and what they added in the draft. Coach Bo Boguskie has been around these parts longer than anyone coaching in the league amassing at least 25 championships in the process and after a few lean years his team is back and in charge. The Cubs return two pitchers from last season in Alex Smith and Clay Brassell. Each player had a good nine year old season on the mound and should be the best 1-2 combination in the league as ten year olds. Add Will Thompson to the mix and you have three pitchers that can win almost any game they are assigned to pitch which makes the Cubs my favorite to claim the crown.
Last year this team made positive strides as the season progressed. Their hitting improved and they began to throw more strikes, leaning on nine year olds and one eight year old to carry the load in many games. The team I am referring to is the Orioles. This team is vastly improved from last season with the addition of the queen of the league, Miss Mia Dean. If you haven’t had a chance to see this young ten year old lady play the game make a point to watch the Orioles some time this season as she is very impressive in all phases of the game. Eli Litton, Jacob Smith and Samuel Browning return as well which makes this group one of the stronger teams in the league. I have a feeling this may be your American League champions this season.
The third team I like on paper is the Reds. The Reds are the defending back to back American League champions but they have a huge hole to fill after losing the Sherman tank Hayden Layne, Seth Pentecost and blazing fast Jacob Seals to the Major League. What makes this team one of my favorites on paper is what they have coming back. Will Johnson, Landon Goodman and Jimmy Watson are as good of a 1, 2, 3 offensive punch as any team can bring to bear this season. Add in Cole Biggs and the two new players Rogan and Knight and you have the biggest team in the league and possibly the best hitting team as well. I am still uncertain how the pitching will develop and pitching rules the roost in the era of pitch count baseball so I have to favor the Orioles slightly due to these concerns but if they can get some steady pitching a three-peat is not out of the question.
My dark horses this season came about after getting to see a few games from the pre-season tournament this past weekend as well as word from others from games I couldn’t see. On paper I didn’t have either of these teams as contenders but after their showing in the tournament and getting a chance to see who is lurking on the sidelines I have to say these two teams could make a push for the title in their respective divisions.
My first dark horse is the American Rays. The Rays had, you might say, a bad year last season being kind in my words. My first thought after looking at their returning roster is that they would most likely have another lean season. Then came the pre-season tournament and everything changed. I didn’t get to see the Rays play any games in the tournament but I got word of the game results. The first thing that caught my attention was their victory over the Cubs in their opening game. My thoughts were, this had to be an upset since I like the Cubs as much as I do but then came news of another win and another and now I’m thinking what is going on with the bad news I mean, American Rays? Yesterday’s run to the championship game confirms that the Rays will not be an afterthought this year and that they will indeed have a thing or two to say about who wins the championship. Congratulations on turning things around so quickly.
Dark horse #2: National Braves
Here is another team that I didn’t expect much from this season after losing so much to the Major league but as was the case with the Rays, this team impressed in the pre-season tournament. One thing that caught my eye as I watched this team was who was roaming the side lines for this team. A familiar face peaked out of the dugout to have a mound visit with the Braves starting pitcher during the game I was watching and at that point everything made sense. Stan Williams was the familiar face and Stan is no stranger to these fields. Years earlier his sons came through the league and challenged the major league Rangers for one of their 7 out of 9 championships falling in a close battle. Stan returns as an assistant on the National Braves staff which means this team has an accomplished hand to help them along. Aside from Mr. Williams, the Braves had a good draft and return the league’s leading nine year old batter in Jackson Dolan (.370). The pitching is inexperienced but looked good during the tournament so I can see this team giving the Cubs a run for their money.
The best of the Rest
The Rockies fit the bill as the best of the rest based on their performance in the pre-season tournament. The Rockies also lost a lot of talent to the major league and on paper didn’t seem to match up well with my previously mentioned favorites. I didn’t get an opportunity to watch them play this past weekend but as was the case with the Rays, the game results were a pleasant surprise. On championship Sunday the sun came out and the Rockies went to work. The Braves fell first and the Rays were almost the next victim that would have sent the Rockies to the championship game versus the Cubs but the Rays survived a 7-inning ordeal to move on. Such a strong showing proves the Rockies could make things difficult for my so-called favorites and could mean they will be the ones to claim the crown in the National league.
The Dodgers are a team I expect to get stronger as the season progresses. I see three or four good returning players that could lead this team and the pitching is always as good as any in the league. The coaching staff is accomplished which gives these players a chance for steady improvement as time passes. Watch for this team to maybe start off a little slow but gain momentum in the second half. I can see the Dodgers challenging for the second half championship after taking a few lumps in the first.
The Rangers were the Giants last season and were the National league runner up two seasons in a row. Gone are the likes of Christian Dixon, Courtland Jordan, Eli Steffy, Matthew Lemay and Grey Phillips which is more than most teams could handle and the main reason I expect the Rangers to take a few lumps this season. Derek Steen and Cobey Allison will be counted on to lead the team this year.
The 5-6 and 7-8 divisions are basically foreign to me as I can’t possibly see every age level so I will not have any pre-season thoughts. Do keep an eye out for the 7-8 Cards, Rangers, Yankees and Rays as they all have great coaching which should help them lead the pack.
Good luck to every player on every team. Here’s hoping that all of you have an exceptional season full of fun and excitement.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!!!
2012 Major League Season Preview
A new season is upon us and the anticipation is high for a stellar season but before we move forward, let’s look back and remember where we finished.
The major league season came down to two teams, the White Sox and the Rangers. The Rangers won the first half and tied for the second half with the White Sox so a second half championship was necessary to settle which team was the dominant team the last half of the season. In the second half championship game, the White Sox were able to subdue the Rangers 3-2 behind the strong arm of Terran Smith which set up a winner take all fight for the overall title. The second game proved just as entertaining as the Rangers fought back to pull out a well deserved 6-5 victory which gave the Rangers their 7th championship in the last nine years.
Fast forward to the 2012 season and the Rangers are back to defend their title against, what should be the toughest competition the league has seen in my time at the park. Every team has a shot to win it all with the Rangers and the Cardinals leading the charge out of the gate.
The cliché says that in order to be the best you have to beat the best and until further notice the best would be the defending champion RANGERS.
The champion Rangers return two 11 year old all stars from last season in lead-off batter/starting center-fielder Jayson Brown and starting pitcher/shortstop Jake Rucker. The supporting cast is strong with the likes of Deshaun Jackson, Dylan Pylant and Nicholas Cloud as the other returning twelve year olds. Pylant, Jackson and Cloud provide the kind of support needed to repeat as champions as all three will be solid players for the Rangers this season. The eleven year old cast is as strong as any in the league with Daylen Powell, Jacob Brown, Eli Steffy, Cameron Stevens, Michael Biggs and Jacob Watts. Giving up the championship crown is something I do not expect the Rangers to do willingly. Expect a fight each and every game from these guys.
The most dangerous threat to the Rangers reign this season is the Cardinals. The Cardinals return three eleven year old all-stars from last season’s Southeast Region runner-up team in starting pitcher/right fielder Brock Meyers, pitcher/utility fielder Blake Osborne and pitcher/utility fielder Andrew Snyder. All three pitchers give the Cardinals the most imposing staff in the league not to mention returning pitcher/third baseman John Williams who I expect to be a man child this season. Cullen Morrow and Caleb Starling round out the returning twelve year olds for the Cardinals and should provide good support to an already strong cast. The eleven year olds on the team are just as imposing with Christian Dixon, Marcus Watson, Max Galpin, Chris Lemay, and JeShawn Wiley adding to an already talented roster. Expect to see the Cardinals mount the first challenge to the Rangers supremacy this season.
The runner-up White Sox are the next team on the menu. The White Sox return eleven year old all-star pitcher/catcher/first baseman Jonathan Seals as well as his running mates second baseman/pitcher Ty Dean, Brennan Minton, Christian Weathers and Jacob Kizer. The eleven year old supporting cast is a who’s who among the new eleven year olds. Austin Mays and Reid Nelson give the White Sox a great one/two punch on the mound when Mr. Seals is taking a break but the riches don’t stop with Mays and Nelson. The Sox also bring to bear the services of Jonathan’s younger brother Jacob Seals and the small but deadly Kennedy Jordan, as good a lead-off batter/center fielder you will find in the park. Dylan Brooks also joins the roster as another solid all around player with Taylor Tobitt and Tyler Triana adding their arms and bats to the mix as well. This team will only get stronger and stronger as the season progresses. Watch out!!
The Phillies are the next challenger from last season on the list. The Phillies were a major player for the championship last season before finally succumbing at the finish-line to the Rangers and the White Sox. The Phillies return eleven year old all star starting pitcher/first baseman/right fielder Austin Ford. Ford returns to try to finish the task the Phillies came so close to achieving last season with a returning roster as good as any in the park. Returning twins Parker and Peyton Brown will be two of the most dynamic players on the field this season both on offense and defense while Gideon Boyd and Joshua Barnes add twelve year old depth to an already strong roster. The eleven year old pitching staff will be strong on this team as well with Haven Mangrum and Taylor Holloway leading the way. Ollie Talmadge, Christian Brinkley, Jay Flemming and Zane Stewart finish off the roster providing offensive and defensive support.
The Red Sox are next on the list. The Red Sox return two eleven year old all-stars from last season in starting pitcher/third baseman/cleanup hitter, Luke Brown and starting second baseman Lorenzo Butler. Adding depth to the roster are returning twelve year olds Michael Waller, Dusty Shearon and Jherian Maddox. The eleven year old support is strong as well with pitcher/catcher/shortstop Hayden Layne leading the way with Alex Dillard, Courtland Jordan, Jeffrey Adams, Kaline Christian and Sam McLendon capping off the team.
The Dodgers were last season’s Reds and they return eleven year old all-star starting catcher Cole Carter. Carter is the top catcher in the league as well as one of the top bats. Supporting Carter as returning twelve year olds will be shortstop Hunter Rocha, second baseman Will Sipe, Zach Stahl, Justin Mathes, Bryan Kirkland and returning travel ball player Ryan Lyle. Lyle was the top pitcher on the 9-10 Goodlettsville all-stars that finished third in the Dixie Youth World Series before making the jump to Little League. Lyle returns to the league after a one year stint playing travel and has plans on bringing the Reds/Dodgers back to former glory. The eleven year old support on the team is imposing as well with Hunter Scurlock bringing his great arm to back up Lyle. Stone Norton is another solid pitcher for the big blue while big Taylor Lazenby and Mark Brown bring gloves and bats to round out the roster.
The Marlins were the Twins last season and Jerry “Big Fish” Marlin has his team ready to make a run at the title this season after his expansion year last season. The Marlins return eleven year old all-star pitcher/second baseman Seth “Little Fish” Marlin to the team as well as big Cole Pulley, Zach Eichstadt, Zach Deakins, and Muhammed Ali, not the boxer, to round out the twelve year old staff. The eleven year olds are full of great players as well with Seth Pentecost, Hunter Crawford, Tyler Henley, Logan Moore, Landon Moore, Dane Hurley, and Britten Bennett making the Marlins a true contender for the championship. Watch out for Hunter Crawford on the mound. He’s growing like a weed and has the arm to boot!
Last season’s Yankees are now the Braves coached by Jim Littlepage. The Braves return eleven year old all-star left fielder Mason Potter as well as hard throwing pitcher Justin Smith. Other returning twelve year old players are Tanner Bailey, Cole Spears, and Ramsey Abulola. The eleven year old roster is filled with, as has been the case this entire article, great players. Joel Littlepage returns after a one year stint in travel ball while lefty Drew Robertson will provide good pitching support on the mound. Chance Merithew will provide solid support behind the plate as well as another good arm and Isaac Clark, Julius Elders, and Jovonta Flippin will provide solid bats and gloves to the roster. This team is young but has lots of potential. Watch out!
The expansion Reds are the wild card of the bunch. Coach Chad Waters has assembled a strong coaching staff as well as an even stronger roster to begin their maiden voyage through the league. The twelve year old roster features returning twelve year olds Collin O’Berry and Mark Meyers from a year in travel ball. Big Brady Campbell gives the team a strong catcher/ first baseman as well as power with the stick. Huge Cody Green is another big body on, in my opinion, the biggest team in the league, adding power and defense to round out the twelve year old roster. The eleven year olds on the staff highlight another strong mammoth player in Andrew Waters. Waters will be backed up by as strong an eleven year old bunch as any in the league. Drake Sanson may be the youngest player in the league but don’t tell him because he plays like one of the oldest by virtue of his strong arm, bat and defense. Grey Phillips, Rex Warren, Trevor Horton, JT Keirnan and Garrett Stephens round out the team as most were all-stars the previous season. Don’t overlook these guys or you will regret it after the game.
There you have it, the 2012 11-12 major league participants. I will point out, once again, that this will be the most competitive season the league has ever witnessed as every team has a chance to claim the crown. But one piece of advice to those who have dreams of claiming the crown; to be the best you have to beat the best and until further notice, the RANGERS hold that distinction. If you wish to tread in their waters, you better bring a big stick! Thoughts to ponder………
Good luck to all and let’s have another great season!
Coming tomorrow, the Minor League 2012 season preview…………