End of regular season plays and standings
As usual, another week has passed and we have a new player on the outstanding play list that has to be complimented. This week’s great play came from Peyton Brown in the Majors division. Peyton ran after a pop fly into short left field from the shortstops position. The ball was just out of reach directly overhead so Peyton did what any great defensive player would do, he left his feet and made the diving play. Eric Sutley, the head coach of the White Sox, was heading to the parking lot when the play occurred and he said he had to stop and applaud after witnessing such a great feat. Well done Peyton!!
Tough it out play of the Week
It’s rare to see a player fouling off a ball on his knee, get back in the box a few minutes later and not strike out from the lingering pain. The AAA Giants Christian Dixon was such a player last week versus hard throwing Austin Mays. Christian fouled the ball causing it to hit his knee. The umpires gave him some time to recover before getting in the batters’ box again. My thoughts were he would strike out not only because of the pain he was experiencing but who he was facing. Austin Mays is one of the top arms in the 9-10 division so the odds were stacked against him. I was impressed to see Christian not only get a hit, but he ripped the ball off the center field fence. Impressive Christian, impressive!
Tag Team Effort
Teamwork can help you win or lose a game. Some great teamwork was displayed from the AAA Phillies versus the Giants in the game of the week. The Giants hit a hard line drive to the right center field fence. Wesley Dobbs of the Phillies raced to the fence and quickly threw the ball in to his cutoff man, second baseman Reid Nelson. Reid turned and threw a strike to third for the out. Really nice teamwork!!
Final Standings and playoff battles
The 2011 regular season has come to an end, except for a few major league games scheduled tonight. The season was full of great plays, long balls, no-hitters and perfect games. It’s now time to take a look at each division and congratulate the 2011 champions.
The American League was dominated by the Cubs this season. The Cubs went 17-1 losing to the Indians in the first half and running the table in the second. Nice job guys on a terrific season!
The National League has been the domain of the godfather for several years and the land is still ruled by the Indians and head coach Josh Godfather Brown. The Indians didn’t get through the season undefeated; losing once to the Cubs but, 17-1 will do any season in my book. Congratulations on a great season!
The first half of the season in the American League was dominated by the Rays. The second half was all about the Rangers and the Cardinals. The Cardinals ended the second half on top and now face the Rays in a winner take all game for the overall title. After losing the first four games of the season, Coach John Robertson righted the Cardinals ship and now has them poised to claim the title. This has to be the turn-around job of the season. Well done and good luck to both teams in the championship as I expect it to be a competitive match.
The Yankees were a championship game victory away from the title last season so this year they were not to be denied. The Yankees were the class of the division all season and I’m sure, finished off the schedule in winning fashion. Nice job guys on a job well done!
Four letters sum up the American League season….. R—E—D—S! If the “AA” Yankees were the class of the 7-8’s then the Reds were the principal of the school. The Reds were pretty much the dominant team in the park in all age levels as they were virtually in a class of their own. The only disappointment was that they were unable to finish the season undefeated. The Giants had other ideas, taking them down in the second half so a final record of 21-1 will do nicely thank you!
The National League has been virtually a two team race for two years. The Red Sox were the 2010 champions while the Giants were the runner up. The 2011 season, once again, features these teams in a deadlock for the title. The Red Sox are the first half champs and the Giants are the second half champs. Both teams enter a winner take all title game Thursday at 6:00 with identical 18-4 records. The Red Sox have been able to get the better of the Giants to date but can they do it one more time with all the chips on the table? We will find out Thursday night!! Come support these two fine teams!
The Major League wraps up its season tonight with their final regular season games. Only two games have any meaning as the Rangers and the White Sox have separated themselves from the pack. If the Rangers defeat the Phillies then they will claim the outright title as first and second half champions. If the Rangers lose and the White Sox win, both teams will meet Thursday for a second half championship and possibly an overall title as well. Good luck to both teams and congratulations on two fine seasons.
Until the post season………………………
The week that was
It seems that every year there are more and more kids making great plays at every age level. It is truly a pleasure to watch these kids perform on a week to week basis. This week was full of great plays as well so let’s get to it!
The word alone can conjure memories of wrong doing or, in baseball terms, memories of joy and accomplishment. We will stick with joy and accomplishment for this article as we had some spectacular plays this week from several players across the league. First on the list is the Major Yankees Will Downing. Mr. Downing was patrolling right field when Cody “Big Show” Moyer stepped into the batter’s box. Cody, long known for mammoth blasts, launched a hard line drive into right center field that Will played perfectly making the catch on a full sprint! Nice Job!
Staying in the “nice outfield catch” category, the next great catch was made by the “AAA” Cardinals Austin Harrington. The Cardinals were in a tight battle with the National League leading Giants when a ball was hit into left field just over the shortstop’s head. Austin came in from left and made a leaping grab falling to the ground in the process. Austin is not one of the small quick kids that usually patrol the outfield so this play was even more special. Great grab Austin!
Future All State Insurance agents in training
All State is known as the good hands people and from what I saw this week in the major league game between the Reds and the Phillies the Reds have a few players in training. The good hands kids pulled off a shocker, defeating the Phillies 8-4 and most of the credit can be given to the defense. Hunter Rocha, playing shortstop, was the first good hands agent of the game. Hunter leapt into the air and snagged a line drive off the bat of the Phillies CJ Laws to keep the Phillies from getting their strong offensive attack off the ground. The second good hands play and the eventual nail in the coffin for the Phillies came from the glove of JEFFREY Webb playing first. With one out and the momentum switching to the side of the Phillies, Jeffrey snatched a line drive out of the air and doubled off the runner retreating back to the bag to end the inning. The hit would have cleaned the bases and possibly given the Phillies the momentum to win the game but instead, the rally was squashed and the Reds closed out the game for the victory. Nice plays guys. Keep those hands healthy.
The number 3
Three…. What a number. You have Three’s company, Three Times a Lady, The Three Musketeers, three Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts with chocolate icing… Ahhhhh…. three is good!!!
The “AAA” Orioles added their own three to the list this week versus the Rockies. The Orioles were on defense and were struggling, loading the bases on walks with no outs. A big inning was on the horizon as the Orioles pitching staff was on the ropes. In a flash, before I even realized what had happened, the inning was over. A nice cold coke ICEE will do that to you. I looked up from my ice cold refreshment when Eddie Litton asked me if I saw what had happened. Of course I hadn’t so he filled me in on the particulars. With zero out and the bases loaded, the Rockies hit a pop fly to the pitcher. The umpire called infield fly so the batter was out. In this situation the runners can still advance at their own peril but still have to tag if the ball is caught. The runner on third failed to tag so the pitcher threw to third for the second out. While the third baseman stood at the bag with the ball, the runner on second decided he would run to third. When he reached the bag the third baseman tagged him for the third out for a very rare triple play! Three is good!
3…..2….1….We have Liftoff!
This next player can hit a baseball folks. The “AAA” Phillies Elijah ”Prince Fielder” Brooks launched another baseball into orbit versus the Orioles for his fourth homerun of the season. No triple play today my friends. There was no doubt this ball was gone when it hit the bat as it cleared the right center field fence in a hurry. Elijah has power to spare and is a dangerous out every at-bat.
The second big blast heard round the quad was launched into orbit by the Giants Christian Dixon. Christian has one of the most powerful bats in the league and is another dangerous threat every time he comes to the plate. The big blast for Christian came against the Big Red Machine when Christian took one deep deep deep into the creek behind field 8. That's 11-12 type power from a 10 year old kid. Christian and Elijah will both be terrors in the 11-12 age division for the next two years.
Perfection is such a hard thing to achieve. Outside of Mr. Perfect of WWF fame, I guess perfection is an almost impossible goal. The Mets Taylor Holloway achieved some perfection of his own this week as he went the distance on the mound allowing zero hits and zero walks not allowing the opponent to reach base. No-hitters are recorded off and on throughout the season but a perfect game is something to cherish. Congratulations Taylor on achieving such a perfect feat.
Wanted: Red cape with “S”
This next player has been mentioned in an earlier article but I heard yesterday that he pulled off the same feat again. At the rate Austin “Super” Mays is making diving catches on defense, I’m going to have to check and see if he has a superman cape under his uniform. This kid can play!!
Second half division races
The “A” National race is all but over as the godfather’s Indians have run out to a 7-0 record with two games left but tomorrow the Indians play their most challenging opponent in the game of the week. The Cubs and the Indians are both 7-0 and will face off tomorrow at 6:00 to determine who is the king of the hill overall in the second half. No first place implications for the Indians so this one is for bragging rights. Let’s get it on!!!
The American League is another story entirely. The Cubs are undefeated but have a tough game tomorrow versus the Indians. The Twins are two games back at 5-2 so they will be interested onlookers tomorrow rooting for the Indians to prevail so their final game of the season will have meaning. The final game for the Twins is a date versus the Cubs. Here’s hoping the Indians win to set up an intense battle for the second half title between the Twins and the Cubs. What a way to end the season!
The “AA” scores are not up to date so I can only talk about what has been listed as of today. The National League race is over as the Yankees brought out the broom, sweeping the competition aside to claim the first and second half crowns. Congratulations to the Yankees on a fine season!
Playoffs; Don't talk about playoffs!
The Rays won the first half but have run into rough waters in the second half. The contenders for the second half crown, based on the web site game results, are the Cardinals and the Rangers. Both teams have posted records of 4-1 so we may have a second half championship to determine who will play the Rays for the overall title. Hopefully both teams are still tied and we will have a second half championship game. There’s nothing better than championship games to end the season!
The Big Red Machine finally lost a game so the much improved Phillies have some hope of playing the Reds in a second half championship game. News Flash! I hate to be a bearer of bad news but…. it’s not going to happen. The Sherman tank and company have too much firepower for the remaining teams on their schedule so I will assume the Reds will claim back to back titles. I was pleased to see the Phillies turn it on in the second half. Great run guys!
Here we go again! Questions remain in the National league as several teams are making their case for second half champion. First on the list are the Giants. The Giants were the team that took down the Big Red Machine and are, in my opinion, in control of the second half race. The last challenge to the Giants is a date, Thursday, versus the Phillies. This will be the game to watch as both teams need a win to either stay in the race or maintain their lead.
The surprise team of the second half is the Rockies who own a record of 6-2 as well. The Rockies have a solid team but have a very difficult road ahead versus the Red Sox and the Reds. I feel they have to win one of two to stay in the hunt. Three losses may claim the crown.
The Red Sox and the Cubs have three losses and need some help to get into a tie for the second half. If either can win out, a championship game could be on the horizon. Another playoff is looming for the second year in a row!
The Major league has been really competitive this season as pitching matchups have been the determining factor for most winners this season. Two teams have emerged from the pack in the second half and as predicted the White Sox are one of those teams. The first half champion Rangers are the other. At this stage, the White Sox have the edge as they have an easier finishing schedule only having to face the Red Sox while the Rangers have the Red Sox and the Phillies to end the season. The Rangers are capable of winning both but the odds are against them. My guess is the White Sox win the second half and the Rangers defeat the White Sox in the championship to claim the crown.
One week left in the regular season and then we move on to the all-star season. New frontiers will be crossed for the entire league so this season will be special as the unknown awaits every all star team in post season play.
Until next week…………………………..
Missed plays of the week
I forgot to mention two plays from a week ago. The first came from Cole Carter, the ultra talented catcher of the 11-12 Reds. Cole was the starting shortstop for the 9-10 National All Stars last season but I believe his calling may be behind the plate. Cole continued his excellent play with his latest “wow” moment coming against the Red Sox. A foul ball was hit towards the visitor’s dugout some 25 feet away. Cole sprang out from his catcher’s stance and sped towards the ball, diving and making the grab. Jacob Seals of the 9-10 Reds made an effort on the exact same play and came up a little short earlier in the season but Mr. Carter came up aces to the dismay of yours truly. Nice play Cole! Continue the stellar play!
My second forgotten play of the week came from Daylen “The Juggernaut” Powell of the 9-10 Dodgers. Daylen was playing shortstop versus the Reds when a ball was put in play. Daylen was on his knees at second base when the runner at third rounded the base and headed for home. Daylen threw a perfect throw to home from his knees to stop the runner form advancing. The catcher caught the ball and ended up getting the runner out retreating back to the bag. A Pretty special play from a special player! I see big things on the horizon for the Juggernaut.
Abbreviated week that was
I’ve been out of town this week so I didn’t have a chance to see any games but I did notice some reported scores that have significance to the AAA National League race. The second half is shaping up to be a repeat of last season’s race as three teams once again are jockeying for position. The Cubs, Red Sox and Giants are all tied with two losses each. The dark horse coming up behind this trio is the Mets who have turned it on lately defeating the Red Sox and the Giants in consecutive games. The way the second half is unfolding, a playoff to decide the second half looks to be a lock! I just love playoff games!!
Until next week…….
The Week That Was
The cold weather has lifted and the cicadas are chirping once more so it must mean we have arrived at this week’s game of the week and plays of the week update. If you happen to see a great play or game during the week, please send a message to your age division’s commissioner so we can recognize these great young players. My focus is mainly in the 9-12 age level so please send in some 5-8 comments so these guys can get honored.
GAME OF THE WEEK
The game that I decided to put as the game of the week was a matchup between the AAA Red Sox and the AAA Giants. The Red Sox entered the game as the first half champions and the Giants were the first half runner-up. Both aces were on the mound for both teams so the intensity couldn’t be any higher. For four innings, the pitcher’s duel that I expected was in motion as both teams struggled to put anything together in the form of runs. The outcome looked as if the team that hit the 75 pitch limit first would be the team to blink. The Giants were that team and the Red Sox took advantage winning going away as Hunter Scurlock shut down the dangerous Giants offensive attack.
I would like to mention a player that stood out during the game and in my mind made the play that sealed the game for the Red Sox. Harrison Hitt is a nine year old for the Sox and was on shortstop during the game. The Giants put two runners on base at second and third with two outs and the score 2-0. The batter hit a hard hopper to short and Harrison, instead of standing still with lead in his shoes, took charge of the ball and charged forward to field the ball on a short hop allowing him to throw out the runner at first and end the inning. Most players have a tendency of waiting on the ball to come to them which is what I lovingly tell my players, is letting the ball play them instead of playing the ball. Harrison made a text book play on a ball that could have easily gone by him and into left center field. Great job my man!! Well played.
OOOOHH YEAH!! Plays of the Week
In honor of the late Randy “Macho Man” Savage who passed away yesterday in a car accident, I want to give out my “OOOOH Yeah” moments that I witnessed today.
The first comes from the major league TWINS!! (I gotcha Buddy) The play in question came from the second baseman of the Twins in the bottom of the fourth versus the Phillies. The bases were loaded and the Phillies hit a hard line drive to second that the second baseman dove for and caught, saving several runs, keeping the game within reach. Earlier in the game, the Twins recorded another OOOH Yeah moment. Austin Mays (got the spelling right!!) was playing left field when the Phillies hit another hard line drive. Austin came up and to his left diving for the ball. This little ball of thunder was horizontal to the ground when he made the catch. It was an ESPN moment if I ever saw one! AMAZING!!!!! The Twins outscored the Phillies in “ooohh yeah” moments but the Phillies won the game.
Improvement Player of the Week
I have to give this one to Hayden Sloan. Hayden is playing for the Phillies this season and has had his struggles facing 9-10 pitching for the first time. Today, Hayden collected two hits versus the Dodgers with the first a line drive into right field off of Daylen Powell. Not many players have been able to get a hit off of Daylen this season so Hayden’s feat was pretty special. Nice job Hayden!!
Way to mess up my Game of the Week headline award!!
This one goes to the AAA Mets who took down the Red Sox 6-4 behind a great effort from Taylor Holloway. My guess was the winner of the Giants and the Red Sox would go ahead and win the second half which was the reason I chose it as the game of the week. After today’s upset, the race is back to square one! Can you say…… second half championship game?!
Three outs in one inning
Players have the opportunity to record all three outs in an inning every so often and when it happens, its worth mentioning. CJ Laws, the Major League Phillies centerfielder, did just that in the top of the fourth versus the Twins catching the first out and then chasing down the second fly ball at the fence and throwing a bullet to third to punch out the tagging runner trying to advance. The kid has a gun attached to that arm! The field 5 fences are 230 feet so the throw to third was L-O-N-G to say the least. Spectacular play CJ!
“A” Godfather still going strong
I’m going to have to buy Josh “Godfather” Brown and cane and big fat ring so he can observe his subjects in the “A” division properly. The Indians just keep winning and winning and winning………... Maybe the fire academy will slow him down.
Perfect games are very hard to achieve. In order to throw a perfect game, no hits can be allowed and no runners can reach base for the entire game. Dalton Hall achieved this milestone today versus the Red Sox. What makes this feat even more special is the team in question is one of the top teams in the major league division. The Red Sox entered the game with a 3-1 second half record and the Rangers were 2-0 so there was a lot at stake and Dalton passed with flying colors. This was not a pushover game! Great job Dalton!
Check back during the week for the weekly standings for each age group and my always incorrect predictions on the upcoming games.
First Half Scorecard:
I made some predictions to start the season in my article at the bottom of this page. Now that the first half is over, let’s see how accurate I was. I hope I was more accurate than last season.
I didn’t make any “A” predictions due to the “the turnover” each season in this division but I have to say once again that the Godfather is going to be hard to beat In the second half. “A” parents and readers remember that I don’t watch this age group because I don’t get up at the crack of dawn anymore so if I get games out of order when I write, it’s because they are listed that way on the game results page.
By the way……..Indians rule!!!!
3/27/11 “The American League Phillies return to defend their 2010 crown. Coach Kip Brown takes over the helm this season after coaching the 9-10 Rays the previous year. Rumor has it this team will once again vie for the American League crown. The other four teams in the division will have their sights set on the champs all season.”
The Phillies are now the Rays and I was spot on in my prediction that coach Kippy Brown would vie for the crown. The Rays won the first half championship.
3/27/11 “The National League Reds were the 2010 champions. Coach David Couch returns to defend the crown but will be without some key contributors from last season’s team. The hill will be much steeper to climb this season.”
The Reds indeed have their work cut out for them this season as the Yankees, once again, are the thorn they can’t seem to remove. The Yankees won the first half over the Reds after a hard fought battle but the Reds look ready and willing to take the title the second time around.
I was right and wrong on this one. I stated the National League race would be a wide open affair. This was incorrect as the race ended up a two team chase between the Red Sox and the Giants. I was correct in my assessment of the Giants and coach Jayson Phillips. The Giants are as good as I thought they would be but the Rockies, my other challenger, haven’t been able to sustain any momentum all season as I thought they would. The second half will be a chase between the Red Sox and the Giants as well.
I correctly predicted the Reds would be strong again behind Hayden Layne and company but I was wrong on everything else. The Diamondbacks haven’t contended and the Phillies have been a head scratcher all season long for coach Mayes as well as myself. The Reds will sweep the season and repeat as champs.
I was correct on all fronts in the Major league. I predicted that the White Sox, Rangers and Phillies would block the Red Sox path to another championship and all three gave the Red Sox fits in the first half. The White Sox “return a wealth of talent” and that wealth put them one game from winning the first half. The Rangers defeated the White Sox in the final week which ended up costing the White Sox the crown.
I mentioned the Phillies return a veteran team from last season that challenged for the 2010 second half crown and these players would propel this team to greater heights in 2011. The Phillies came within one win of playing for the first half championship.
I stated the Rangers “would contend” behind the pitching of Dalton Hall who pitched every big game for the team the previous season and contend they did, winning the first half in the final week in what was a very competitive race.
My revised prediction after today’s action is the Rangers will win the title either by a championship game or outright by taking the second half as well. Read below on my reasoning.
*Players Heating Up*
Tanks guns running hot:
It may be best to walk Hayden Layne after all. Hayden went super deep to left center field versus the Dodgers this weekend to give him two homeruns this season. Has that ball landed yet?
If Hayden Layne is the Sherman Tank then the Dodgers Daylon Powell is the juggernaut from X-Men fame. This mountain of a kid is beginning to barrel through the competition. Coach Darryl Lyle told me they made some changes and now the juggernaut is striking fear into every pitcher he faces. He had a stellar game versus the Reds yesterday collecting several strong hits during the game. The Juggernaut is gaining a head of steam and it’s hard to stop a runaway freight train.
Dalton Hall is making a statement as the best pitcher in the major league. Dalton won another game over a worthy opponent and we can only wonder if he would have thrown a perfect game today if he hadn’t been injured in the fourth. Best wishes and a speedy recovery to Dalton. Great game my man! Go Nails Go!
Major League Game Of The Week
Rangers vs. Phillies
The immortal Star Wars character, Darth Vader, would have said just that after watching the Rangers today versus the Phillies. The Rangers looked like a team on a mission after apparently using the good fortune article a week or two ago as a motivating factor for today’s game. Dalton Hall was stellar on the mound throwing a perfect game until exiting with a base-running injury in the fourth. The team picked up the slack by keeping continuous offensive pressure on the Phillies in his absence. Preston Hall relieved Dalton and pitched well to keep the game out of reach. After today’s action, my opinion is Dalton Hall has moved to the top of the pitching list in the league and the Rangers are now the team to beat until someone can knock them off. No bias, just the facts.
Catchers making great plays in the “AAA” division are becoming commonplace. The hustle award this week goes to the Dodgers Dane Hurley. Dane burst from behind the plate, racing after a foul ball towards the third base dugout making the play some twenty feet away. Nice play Dane!!
Lost sleep moment:
We approach the final inning leading 10-4. The game is in hand correct? Wrong! I’m guessing seven pitchers walked to the mound in the final inning for the Diamondbacks Saturday versus the Orioles as the Diamondbacks were trying to preserve pitching for the next day by limiting them to twenty pitches. This strategy was their downfall as the Orioles scored seven runs in the bottom of the inning to win the game and leave the Diamondbacks fans wondering what had just happened.
Until next week……………………………….
Final First Half Championship Update
Now that we have every game in the books, it is now time to review the action that took place in each division.
The American League was a tight race between two worthy challengers, the 2010 Runner-up Cubs and the Twins. Both teams entered the final game of the first half tied with 7-1 records so the stage was set for an exciting ending to the first half when both teams finally faced off on the field. Runs were scored for both teams but the Cubbies scored a few more and came away with the first half crown, defeating the Twins 16-7. Congratulations to the Cubs and I will assume that we can expect the same excitement between these two in the second half as well. Can the parent’s nerves hold up?
Josh “The Godfather of 5-6 baseball” Brown lapped the field once again this season. The mighty tribe navigated through the first half undefeated to take the first half championship. I had a chance to talk to Josh about his team. He believes the Cubs are the best team in the league overall and that he has been lucky to this point. Humble words, but I am a believer that in order to be the best you have to beat the best and to date this season, the Indians remain on top no matter how “lucky” the Godfather feels he has been. Good luck to all who cross paths with the mighty Tribe!
The “AA” American race was a two team battle between the Rays and the Dodgers. The Rays emerged the victor after posting a record of 8-1 while the Dodgers faltered down the stretch to finish two games back. I have had a chance to watch the Rays and they look really good. I haven’t had the same opportunity to see the Dodgers but my gut tells me the Rays will repeat as second half champs to sweep the season and claim the American League overall championship. Congratulations Rays on a great first half!!
Now this was a first half battle! The Yankees held a one game lead for most of the first half while the Reds fought to stay on their bumper. Both teams met in the eighth game of the season with the Reds needing a win to pull even entering the final stretch. The Reds claimed a hard fought victory over the Yankees by a score of 8-6 and were primed to finish tied to force a one game play-off. The last hurdle for the Reds was a game versus the mighty Rays. The Reds lost a heartbreaker 14-9 to fall one game short of their goal. Coach David Coach has done a great job again this season and if my guess is correct, will once again go head to head with the Yankees in the second half. Congratulations to the Yankees for winning the first half but watch out for those pesky Reds. I don’t think they are going away.
REDS…..REDS….REDS….. This story has been going on for two years now and doesn’t seem to be losing steam. The Reds won the American League championship in 2010 and look primed to repeat the feat this season after completing the first lap undefeated. With the likes of Hayden “Sherman Tank” Layne, Seth Pentecost, Jacob “Lightening in a bottle” Seals, Rex “Little Ryan Kemp” Warren and crew, this team shows no sign of slowing down and a second half championship looks very likely.
The 2010 Champion Red Sox and the Giants once again battled for the first half championship after locking horns for the title a year ago, entering the final day with 9-1 records. The Red Sox entered the day with the easier task facing the Rays while the Giants had to play the undefeated Reds. The Giants were also playing their fourth game of the week. The Red Sox took care of the Rays in big fashion while the Giants couldn’t muster enough offense to stay with the Reds allowing the Red Sox to claim the crown. The second half is underway and my feeling is the Giants may win the second half after the Red Sox lost a major contributor to their championship hopes. Alex Dillard, one of the top players on the team, broke a finger in the first game of the second half against the Phillies and may be lost for the rest of the season. Best wishes and a quick recovery to Alex.
The Major League was very competitive as well and when the dust settled the Phillies and the Rangers were the final two standing on the final day. Both teams were expected to win their final game and meet the next day for the first half championship. The Phillies faltered and the Rangers won taking advantage of the opportunity to claim the first half out right finishing off a 10-2 campaign.
The second half should be as competitive as the first. The Phillies are determined to finish the job they feel they left undone, the Rangers will attempt to sweep the season, the White Sox want to take advantage of their favorable second half schedule and the Red Sox try to slip past them all and make an attempt to defend the crown. Good luck to all!
Best moves of the week
AAA Red Sox head coach Chad Waters has moves!! The way he “gracefully…… not exactly, J” got out of the way of a hard line drive foul ball towards his head in the third base coaches box made me believe he may have a future on Dancing With The Stars. He even received a standing ovation for the maneuver as he sat on the turf. What a sight!!!
Let the second half madness begin!!!
5/8/2011 The Week That Was
Okay, I’m back from my adventures in Atlanta with my 11-12 team so now it’s time to comment on (1) the things that stood out to me Saturday, (2) catch up on the 5-6 and 7-8 races and (3) look at the upcoming second half contenders.
There were a few plays and coaching decisions that caught my attention today. The first was in the 12:00 game featuring the AAA Reds and the AAA Rockies. Let’s title this one………….
Sing it Aretha Franklin
It has been three years since I have seen a player intentionally walked with the BASES LOADED but today it happened again. The Sherman tank strikes so much fear in opponents that they are now willing to just walk in a run to limit the damage! Problem with this strategy against the AAA Reds is Seth Pentecost is the tanks protection and good protection he is. Hayden Layne took his free pass to first and Seth proceeded to bang a triple to the right-center field fence to clear the bases. Pick your poison guys. Both are hard to swallow.
I have learned a few things this season about this next AAA recipient that goes beyond the baseball field and the more I hear the more I like. Daylen Powell wins the “almost made it” hustle play of the week. Hayden, playing shortstop, attempted to catch a fly ball over second base by completely laying out for the ball. The ball hit his glove but he just couldn’t get close enough to pull it in. The effort was an eye opener. Stay humble, remain coachable and you can achieve great things the next two years.
Long Ball Award:
For this award we have to venture back to the 7-8 division as the Giants Jarrett Webb went yard on field 6. The report is when Jarrett connected, there was no doubt it was gone, clearing the left field fence beside the scoreboard, landing in the trees beyond. That would be a good 220 feet I would guess. Not bad Mr. Webb, not bad at all. I think Cody “Big Show” Moyer may be the last 8 year old since Jarrett to clear the fences at such a young age. Then again, the way 10 year old Elijah Brooks swings the bat, I’m sure he went yard himself.
Good Fortune Award:
This award goes to the 11-12 Rangers. The Rangers had the good fortune to only have one two-game stretch in the first half where they had two difficult games in a row. They went 1-1 during that stretch, losing to the Red Sox, but were able to pitch their ace in every other difficult game in the first half, only losing once to the Phillies to finish the first half with two losses. Today, they were in a situation where it looked as if they may have to play their second difficult game without their ace on the mound in a first half championship game versus the Phillies on Sunday. The Phillies entered the day tied for first and were playing the Red Sox who were without the services of their ace Heath Pentecost and their number two Luke Brown who has been nursing an injury to his throwing hand for the past four games. This prompted the Phillies to hold their number one out of the game and save him for a possible playoff game on Sunday; a decision that would end up costing the Phillies. The Red Sox would win the game behind the arm of Lorenzo Butler, an eleven year old they are grooming for next season. Until now, Lorenzo hasn’t thrown anything other than a fastball as he has been learning how to throw a breaking ball in practice this season. Today, he showed what he has been learning and to the Phillies dismay, he had it working to perfection, holding the Phillies to one hit through four innings before giving way to Lane “Wild Thing” Thompson. The Phillies are the most dangerous hitting team in the league, scoring close to ten runs per game so this was huge news. The Red Sox victory opened the door for the Rangers to claim the first half championship with a win over the Twins. The ends of the horseshoe were pointing straight up in the first half keeping all the good fortune flowing the Rangers way. Congratulations Rangers.
I am really impressed with the “A” commissioner! The games have been updated regularly this season allowing me to have something to write about that is current! I don’t do break of dawn game recon on Saturday mornings anymore.
The American League is pretty much feast or famine as far as records go. The Cubs were the runner-up last season and look every bit the team to beat this season. The only challenger to the Cubs taking the trophy is the Twins. I don’t think these two have played this season but I expect that when they do it will be a competitive battle. The Twins and Cubs have won big all season long and I don’t see any reason why this trend will not continue in the second half. I will venture to say the Cubs will win the first half and most likely the second as well to run the table without a playoff game.
National “Godfather Brown” League:
It seems to me that Josh “Godfather of single A baseball” Brown has been in this division for a decade. I know this is not the case but it just seems that way. I have to call him the Godfather because of his longevity in the division and because he has won the National League the last two years. The won/loss standings indicate that the Godfather may have some challengers to his thrown this season but again I have to favor Don Corleone Brown until someone knocks him off of his perch. The Indians will claim another crown unless the Phillies make a move to unseat him from power. Good luck with that!
The American League has two contenders to the first half crown. The Rays actually lost a game (How in the world did THAT happen?) and the Dodgers are on a major roll and stand one game back. My guess is the Rays finish a game ahead to claim the first half crown but may face a stiff challenge from the surging Dodgers in the second half.
The National League is another case of rich and poor as the same characters from a season ago are once again battling it out for the coveted first place trophy. I mentioned earlier this season that the Reds may have a tougher go of it this year but they are hanging tough so far. The 2010 runner-up Yankees are cruising along at 6-0, entering today, and may have the first half wrapped up. I will take a guess and say that that these two will separate themselves again in the second half and battle for the second half championship as well. My favorite is the Yankees.
The “AAA” division hasn’t been updated as often as I would like but as I said earlier, kids don’t hit my radar screen until they reach the “AAA” division so I do have some insight into what’s happening to date.
I had a feeling that Jayson Phillips and the Giants would field a good team this year and my feelings have been confirmed. The Giants are tied for first with the Red Sox at 9-1 with one game remaining. The Red Sox still have the advantage as the Giants have to face the Sherman Tank, Hayden Layne, Sunday to claim at least a tie; A tall order without their ace, Christian Dixon, available to them for the game due to the pitch count rule. This should still be a very competitive matchup but the nod has to go to the Reds in the game and the Red Sox as first half champions.
Ho hum, the Reds lock up the first half. Imagine that?? I’m still impressed with this team every game I get to watch. Hayden is still throwing strikes with rocket fuel and the offense and defense continues to be strong. An undefeated season may be in the cards for the Big Red Machine.
Second half predictions: Major League
I have already made a few predictions above so I will leave this section to the big boys. The Rangers are sitting pretty, horseshoe in hand, after winning the first half. The second half contenders will most likely be, in no particular order, the defending champion Red Sox, the Rangers, the White Sox and the Phillies. The best hitting team of the four is the Phillies. The Phillies dismantled almost every opponent they faced, falling only three times in the first half with every loss being to one of the other big four. The White Sox have faltered some and aren’t as shiny as they were to me to start the season due to some lackluster offense versus good pitching but the second half schedule favors a loss total of no more than 2 which will put pressure on the other three to sustain excellence the entire half to keep up. That’s a tall order when you have to face two of these teams in back to back scenarios. The Rangers have the luxury again this season of not having to worry about wins in the second half. All they have to do is win one game at the end to claim the league crown. Their ace, Dalton Hall, will undoubtedly pitch that game when the time comes. The question is will he have anything left at the end of the season or will fatigue, once again, bring him down? The Red Sox are the wild card of the bunch. This team isn’t as deep with twelve year old talent this season, losing Evan Yon to travel ball, but the strong core of eleven year olds have more than taken up the slack. The problem with a young team is the up and down nature they display from game to game. Time will tell if these strong eleven year olds can hold the line or sink trying. I have a second half favorite but James Mayes said it best, “you jinxed me when you put my team the favorite to win the “AAA” American League championship” so I’m going to keep it to myself so the kids don’t get nervous if they read this. Parents read between the lines above and it’s obvious who I like. Shoeless Joe Jackson can breathe easy. Wink…….
From Frowns to Smiles
It’s amazing how quickly children recover from adversity. The 11-12 Red Sox made their annual trek to Atlanta, GA Saturday afternoon to see the Braves battle the Cardinals on Sunday and the 4 hour bus trip was expected to be somber after a tough, error filled loss a few minutes earlier. Instead, the air was light and full of joy. We, as adults and coaches alike, sometimes forget that these youngsters are playing a game, getting emotional and frustrated when things go astray, sometimes heaven forbid, taking that frustration out on the players themselves as we have seen and read about from time to time. When the “game” is no longer fun to “play,” the kids lose interest and move on to other things that are more enjoyable. Kids want to have fun and if the game conjures up negative memories of upset parents and emphasis on failures, the great game of baseball will become a bad memory in the rear view mirror because they will ask to do something other than baseball the following year. As I watch these kids on the bus and reflect on tough losses of the past, I think back to some wonderful words of wisdom a good friend and equally great coach, if he could find the time, said to me when his son played at the park. "After a tough loss or poor play, sometimes it’s best to put your arm around them and go get some ice cream." Paul Kirby, a sophomore at JPII, was and is a great player. He was one of the most feared hitters and pitchers in the league when I had the pleasure of coaching him on the 9-10 Reds and continued his dominance when he moved up to play for Joe Keef and the Rangers in the 11-12 division. Paul had his ups and downs but I always remember Jeff, figuratively speaking, putting his arm around him afterwards and going to get some ice cream. The comforting arm and ice cream for the 11-12 Red Sox was a bus trip to Atlanta, GA. It was a delight to see the kids interact and bond with each other on the bus trip down and for the past two years enjoy each other’s company with a night’s stay in the hotel. Memories of dropped balls, botched grounders, strike-outs and errant throws were washed away and replaced with horseplay and games of tag in the pool.
“Braves win!! Our after game celebration!! Well, most of them celebrated. Sorry Luke. J”
Sunday, the team attended the game and got a first-hand glimpse how a big league player handles himself on the field and, as luck would provide, conducts himself after making a few errors themselves. I have always felt that these games are great teaching tools and compliment the things we work on in practice. One highlight of the game was sitting behind young Jherian Maddox and talking to him about how Albert Pujols, arguably the best player in the game, was keeping his emotions in check after not one, but two, strike-outs in the game. We agreed that Pujols was most likely upset about not being able to help his team and instead of ranting and raving; he calmly walked back to the dugout and prepared to hit the field on defense. For those of you who know Jherian, you agree that he wears his emotions on his sleeve which tells me he has a strong desire to succeed but has a hard time of channeling that desire in a positive way. Watching him study Pujols after each strike-out and our conversations afterwards was priceless. Time will tell if it had an effect on him. I’m hoping it did.
Another highlight was sitting next to Luke Brown and jawing with him the entire game as the Braves opened the game in a 3-0 hole and slowly clawed their way back to ultimately win it in the bottom of the ninth. Luke has a true passion for the game and the Cardinals so he was easy to manipulate. Now that’s fun!!! High five Luke!
These were the words uttered by myself and a few parents as the bus brought us back to Randall Phillip’s house last night at 8:30 without as much as a hiccup to and from Atlanta. For those of you not in the know, Randall coached his sons when they were 7-8 and took his team to Atlanta to see the Braves as we do with the Red Sox. On the way, the bus broke down and they were stranded on the highway for several hours. Randall had not made a team trip since that day. For years, the Red Sox have gone to and from the game without incident until last year when I drafted Harrison Phillips to the Red Sox and Randall, once again, got on a bus and made the trip down. As was the case when he took his own team, the bus broke down just outside of Marietta and we were stranded on the highway for 4 hours until another bus arrived. “Good luck” Randall had struck again!! The team eventually made the trip at the end of the season after the Braves graciously provided new tickets but the team decided to drive down to stay on the safe side. This season, the team rented another bus for the trip, well aware of the possibility that “good luck” Randall could get a called strike three and we would be stranded yet again but bad fortune would show pity on Randall this season and the trip went down without a hitch. The curse had been lifted and Randall, after years of restless nights, could sleep peacefully knowing he conquered the treacherous trip to Atlanta.
Most enjoyable prank of the trip
This award goes to my team mom, Tami Thompson. Tami organized the trip this season, taking a huge burden off of my shoulders. Sunday morning when we were boarding the bus to leave for the game, everyone was turning in their room receipts. There was one receipt that had extra charges. The charges included a $105 phone charge, several movie rental charges, and a bill for a meal at the high end restaurant adjoining the hotel. Randall charged all of the rooms to his credit card so he was obviously concerned and wanted to know who had run up the charges. We conducted a quick “investigation” before Tami finally relented and told him it was a prank. The look on his face was one I will remember for a long time. To top it off, he left the bus and went back to the front office to tell the girl, jokingly, he would have to get revenge. While he was away, Tami told the players to tell Randall in unison he had been “punk’d” when he returned. To hear those kids screaming “Randall, you’ve been punk’d” was the funniest moment ever.
With memories like these to share, who has time to remember a bad day at the park? There were too many smiles floating around.
4/24/11 Week Three
We have some scores posted for the 5-6 division. I reviewed my previous statements about last year’s champions and it looks like the Indians will once again be the team everyone will be chasing in the National League. The Indians are undefeated on the season at 5-0 and have beaten two quality teams, the Phillies and the Twins by close margins. From my perspective, the Indians should be challenged this season by the Mets and the Phillies but I feel, at this point, that the Phillies may be the biggest threat to the Indians repeating as National League champions.
The American League Braves were the champions last season but stand at 1-3 on the season so it looks like there may be a new bully on the block. The American League Cubs, last season’s challenger to the Braves title, are plowing through the competition with land slide win after another. The only challenging game was a close victory over the Phillies, which is why I feel the Phillies are the biggest threat to the Indians this season. The Cubs should be challenged this season by the Twins. The Twins have been dominating their competition all season long as well except for one close loss to the Indians. This could be the race to watch as it seems the Cubs and Twins may be evenly matched. One of these two may emerge as champions at the end of the season.
I Need Some Alka Seltzer!!
What is the deal with the 9-10 Mets? In the new age of Little League pitch count rules where pitching is at a premium, the 9-10 Mets seem to enjoy extra inning games. First, they play into the wee hours versus the Dodgers which had to be suspended due to the late night hour and then they turn around five days later and find themselves in another extra inning game with the Rays. I’m guessing Alka Seltzer has been a popular item for the Mets coaching staff lately. Hang in there guys.
Stepping it up
CJ Laws……. If there ever was a player that has thrust himself into the limelight, CJ Laws is that player. Last season, CJ was a key contributor for the 11-12 All-Stars that advanced to the Dixie Youth World Series. His bat and glove were the key components of his game. This season, CJ has added control to his big arm and has stepped to the forefront of the Phillies pitching rotation as the season has progressed, defeating two of the top teams in the league in back to back outings. This development has added an extra dimension to an already deep pitching staff for the Phillies and could very well carry them to an 11-12 league championship.
Jacob Seals…….. Jacob has been a spark for the AAA Reds this season and has been the perfect complement to the league’s top player, Hayden Layne. Jacob has been playing some at the position of catcher this season and has looked impressive. I talked to his dad and he told me this is Jacob’s first season catching which is amazing by the way Jacob moves behind the plate. He looks like he was born to play the position. If you missed my recap of the Reds versus Red Sox game, Jacob made the best “missed” play of the season. A Red Sox batter fouled off a ball towards the first base dugout that didn’t get much height. Jacob exploded out from behind the plate, streaked towards the ball and dove after it in an attempt to make the catch. He came up just short but the effort was enough to impress me. It’s not often you see a player in any age level move that well behind the plate with quickness and speed. Nice job Jacob!
AAA National League Race
Don’t look now but we may have a challenger to the AAA Red Sox supremacy in the division. The Yankees …..Umm, I mean Giants, are quietly moving in behind the Red Sox in the first half race. Last season the Yankees, which are now the Giants, played the Red Sox in a second half championship game won by the Red Sox. This season is quickly shaping up as a possible repeat performance between the two. The Giants have the big stick of Christian Dixon leading the charge. Christian reminds me of Parker Campbell who played at the park a few years back, winning the Dixie Youth World Series batting championship for the runner-up all-stars from Goodlettsville. Christian has size, tons of power and actually swings the bat very similar to the way Parker did at the same age. If Christian is indeed the next Parker Campbell, the Red Sox may be in trouble. Time will tell.
Until next week………………………
4/18/2011 Lap 2 around the quad.
I had a chance to see the 7-8 Rays play this week. I was really excited to see if the 27 runs they scored earlier in the season was a fluke or the real deal. Before the game the parents I talked to were humble, saying they weren’t as good as that score indicated, but after watching these guys in person I believe this team is absolutely the real deal. There aren’t any rosters listed on the web site for the 7-8 teams so I can’t remember the names of the players that caught my attention but one in particular stood out. Mr. Lewis was a stud in the batter’s box! My prediction is he will hit one out on field 6 or 8 sometime this season. Lewis wasn’t the only standout on offense for this team as there were several in the lineup who hit solid shots. Another reason this team scores the way they do is the aggressive coaching on the base paths. The Rays force the issue at every opportunity which usually leads to extra runs each inning. If this team is to lose a single game this season the opposing defense will have to be solid. My guess is they run the table. I guess the bull’s eye is now squarely on the Rays back. Sorry Kippy.
“AAA” GAME OF THE WEEK ……. REDS vs. PHILLIES
The game of the week was played yesterday between the Phillies and the Reds. Before I begin, I think I need to add a little background on the two teams in question. The Phillies are my dark horse favorite to win the American League championship this season as I wrote earlier this year. They have several talented players led by the cannon arms of Austin Mayes and Reid Nelson. The BIG stick on this team is provided by “Big Gun” Elijah Brooks who was impressive in the box yesterday. The Reds counter with Hayden Layne, the best player in the league, in my opinion. I mentioned earlier this season that when Hayden Layne is on the mound the going will be tough as this Sherman tank can really throw the tater with velocity and control. Layne is accompanied by the ultra quick Jacob Seals. The rest of the Reds supporting cast is solid as well as their record indicates.
The pitching matchup couldn’t get any better as Austin Mayes took the mound for the Phillies and Hayden Layne for the Reds, possibly the top two pitchers in the league. The Reds held the upper hand at 3-1 for most of the affair until the Phillies managed to break through Layne’s armor and tie the game at 3-3 late. At this point my feeling was the Phillies just may pull out the victory but as champions do, the Big Red Machine responded in the bottom half with two runs of their own to seal the deal at 5-3. The Reds are now 5-0 on the season and hold a commanding 2 game lead on the field. I think it is safe to say the Reds will finish off the first half as champions while the rest of the American League will be regrouping for a run at the second half championship.
There weren’t any big games scheduled in the National League yesterday. The Red Sox are still driving their giant steam roller through the league behind the ultra talented Hunter Scurlock. Every chance I get to watch the Red Sox in passing, the game is well out of hand which is a reflection of the talent assembled on this team. At this point, it seems like the only team capable of slowing the Red Sox freight train will be the American League Reds who coincidentally play the Red Sox this Friday night (promotional plug). You can bet I will be there for this one as I am expecting Hunter Scurlock will take the mound for the Red Sox and the Big Red Machine will most likely counter with the Sherman Tank, Hayden Layne. What a matchup!
National League Standings:
The Red Sox are the only undefeated team in the National League and stand at 5-0. The Cubs are in 2nd at 4-1 while the Giants are a half game back at 3-1. These three teams should battle the entire season for league supremacy but after watching the league for two weeks I have to say the Red Sox should repeat as league champions. Hunter Scurlock is the class of the National League and the supporting cast is deep. The Cubs and Giants counter with talented leaders of their own in Christian Dixon of the Giants who may be the top hitter in the league and the Cubs bring Haven Mangrum who is solid on offense and defense. If another team, other than the Red Sox, claims the championship my guess is the Cubs will be the team to do it. I’ve been around the park for some time and year after year the Cubs play the same style of baseball. They throw strikes on the mound and play solid defense forcing you to get multiple hits each inning to score runs. This is not the most talented team the Cubs have fielded in year’s past but pitching and defense are always trademarks of a Bo Boguskie team which has led to 20+ league championships over the years. Red Sox beware.
Major League, lap two:
The top league in the park has rounded the bases a second time and the teams are starting to separate and run single file. Week one was owned by the Rangers as they started strong with a record of 3-0, defeating the Phillies and Red Sox in the process. Week two was owned by the Red Sox as the two-time defending league champs found their mojo, running off five consecutive wins after their opening season loss to the Rangers to move into first place by a half game over the Rangers and Phillies. The Red Sox are now 18-2 dating back to last season.
The game of the week was played yesterday when the undefeated Rangers and the once beaten Red Sox locked horns for the second time this season. Game 1 was won by the Rangers but this time around the Red Sox were better prepared and put the game out of reach after the first inning. Red Sox ace Heath Pentecost took the mound in the rematch and promptly dispatched the Rangers 5-1, throwing a complete game three-hitter. Pentecost was sharp throughout, never allowing a fly ball the entire game as he kept the ball down and allowed his defense to make easy force outs when he wasn’t striking out the opposition. Harrison Phillips has come alive for the Red Sox as well collecting two more hits in the game.
The Phillies only blemish this season was a loss to the Rangers and ace Dalton Hall. Hall has been the only pitcher to tame the Phillies bats to date as the Phillies are easily the highest scoring team in the league. Scoring was the theme yesterday for the Phillies as they once again put 10+ runs on the board against another opponent. The big matchup for the Phillies will be the first meeting of the season against the Red Sox on Saturday. The predicted pitching matchup will be CJ Laws for the Phillies and Heath Pentecost for the Red Sox. This one should be a low scoring affair.
The Red Sox are once again leading the league at 5-1 while the Rangers and Phillies are a half game back at 4-1. The first half champion will most likely come from one of these three teams.
The second pack is led by the White Sox and the Reds who both stand a game back at 3-2. The White Sox play the Red Sox Thursday night and will either be thick in the hunt or regrouping for a run at the second half championship. This game will be huge for the White Sox.
The expansion Cardinals are in sixth place after week two at 1-4 while the Yankees are in 7th at 1-5.
The Twins finish off the standings.
Until next week............
4/10/2011 Week One Observations
We haven’t had any scores posted from the 5-6 division and since I don’t get to the park at the crack of dawn I don’t get a chance to see many, if any, 5-6 games so my writing on the little guys is based almost completely on what I gather from the game recaps. Hopefully the 5-6 scores will get posted sometime this week.
I did get a quick glance at two 7-8 games this week. The defending champ Reds were playing Friday night on field 5 and I caught the end. The Reds fell 9-8 to the Dodgers. I may be correct in my prediction that the going will be much tougher for the Reds this season. They still have to contend with the Yankees and Bill Hitt who they beat in the championship game last season and the Rays and Kippy Brown.
Bill Hitt has solid coaching experience in this division, winning the Dixie Youth 7-8 Region two years ago. This is the 7-8 version of a mini World Series for 7-8’s in Dixie Youth. The other solid coaching challenger to the Reds throne is Kippy Brown, who led the “9-10” American League to the Dixie Youth World Series two years ago. I caught a glimpse of the Yankees intense struggle yesterday versus the Braves. I don’t know if they won but it was close. The Rays on the other hand are as advertised as I mentioned in my previous posting. Did they score 27 runs versus the Marlins? 27....? I know 7-8 is all about offense and is probably the most exciting brand of youth baseball for the fans but 27 runs? Man o man I have to see this team play.
I’m going to mention a few players that really caught my eye this week. Players don’t show up on my radar until they reach the “9-10” division and a few have really stood out early in the season.
Most improved player/s in week one:
Make note that I haven’t seen every team play this early in the season, but from the teams I have seen, these two are definitely my most improved. The award goes to Gabriel and Grayson Murphy. I remember watching them play for the Reds last season and I came away thinking they must be first year players. They didn’t hit well and their defense was the level of a player just learning the game. What I saw yesterday was two kids with great speed on the bases and both attacking the ball in the batter’s box. I was genuinely impressed by what I was witnessing. Great job guys and keep on listening to those solid coaches you have. I know assistant coach Joey Seals won’t steer you wrong as he is as good as it gets in the park.
I mentioned that the Red Sox may have a rough go of it this season after losing the likes of Jake Rucker and Justin Smith. Both were hard throwing right hander’s that carried the load last season. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure there would be enough pitching for them to successfully defend their championship. In steps Hunter Scurlock to fill the void. I saw some of the Red Sox game yesterday in passing and noticed Hunter on the mound. He has really grown and looked in command. It looks as if he may be the leader this team needs to possibly win back to back championships and they have a solid offensive core that can back him up. A 3-0 record to start the season has this team and Scurlock looking good.
The Big Red Machine is off to the races. I watched these guys play the Diamondbacks yesterday and they are definitely ready to defend. I mentioned Hayden Layne in my previous post below this one and he is still that Sherman tank I previously talked about. The kid is ten and he is already built like his dad. WOW!! The thing is, he is not the only leader on this team. If there is a second leader for the Reds it has to be Jacob Seals. Mr. Seals has speed to burn and an all around game. He pitched well yesterday versus the Diamondbacks and caused all kinds of havoc on offense. This team has a luxury that I believe no other team, other than the Phillies, may possess; two leaders that the rest can rally around. I smell a back to back championship on the horizon. The Phillies are still my early favorite but after watching the Reds yesterday I may have to jump ship and get on the Big Red Machine band wagon.
Austin Mayes doesn’t have the size of a Hayden Layne but the kid can flat out play the game. He has an arm that kids his size shouldn’t posses and a bat that is just as powerful. Austin fits the cliché big things come in small packages because when he is on the field, big things happen.
Another small pocket full of power is Reid Nelson. He’s another small kid with a bazooka for an arm. This one-two combination is the reason why I think this team can still possibly beat out the Reds but the task will not be an easy one after what I witnessed from the Reds yesterday. I can’t wait for next Saturday to get here and watch these two lock horns at 3:30 on field 8. The game should be full of electricity.
The former Yankees of 2010 are now the Giants and two players have stood out thus far this season. Christian Dixon is another big kid in this age division who has a big arm and power in the batter’s box as well. Christian is supported by Gray Phillips. Gray is another small guy in the league with big game. He pitched the first no-hitter of the” 9-10” season earlier this week. The lefty has a good arm for his size and I was impressed how hard he threw the ball. The Yankees, um I mean Giants, may be the team that gives the Red Sox the most trouble this season within the division. It may come down to another championship Sunday at the park again this season between these two.
Players that have stood out:
This kid was snubbed in all-star voting last season. He led the American league in batting as a NINE year old and didn’t make all-stars. I believe this was the first time in the history of Goodlettsville Baseball that has happened. The player in question is Daylen Powell of the Dodgers. If you want to lay eyes on a man child, he is about as close as you’re going to get. He’s as big as most of the 11-12 year olds in the league this season. Daylen has been a little slow out of the gate but I expect him to be one of the top players at season’s end and an all-star to boot!!!
Hunter Crawford has some power in that bat of his. A big kid who kind of does it all for the Diamondbacks. Keep working on that arm on the mound.
Trenton Milliken looked really good yesterday versus the Reds. He played catcher, shortstop and pitched. You can’t get a better utility player than that! He really moves in the field and swings the bat just as well.
Jacob McDonald: The first nine-year old I have mentioned. This kid has a good arm and CONTROL, which is huge in the 9-10 division. He is really on my radar after watching him play and is another reason I still have the Phillies as my early favorite to defeat the Big Red Machine. Did I mention he can hit that tater also?
Noah Griffin: The second nine-year old that has stood out early in the season. I had the opportunity to watch the Rockies on opening day and the lefty impressed immediately with his first at-bat, ripping a shot to right center field for a hit. No fear is something you look for from the nine-year olds early in the season since they are facing “live” pitching for the first time and Noah showed none of it. Great things could be on the horizon.
Royalty is served!
The nine and ten division is comparable to Prince William, heir to the throne. The 11-12 kids are the kings of the park; Royalty. They’ve been through the early morning games of yesterday as 5-6 year olds. They honed their skills in 7-8’s and learned to handle kids pitching to them on the mound, determined to get them out instead of trying to let them hit in 9-10’s.
We have had one full week of action in the Major league division and there have been some players that have stood out as well.
CJ Laws: I got word that CJ was pitching against the White Sox who are the early favorites to win the division and all I could think of was ball one… ball two… ball three……. Phillies lose. Much to my surprise when I get to the park, the Phillies won 4-2 and CJ goes the distance! CJ is better known for his glove in center field, best in the park, and his powerful bat which he used to help carry the 11-12 all-stars to the World Series last season; But pitching? Granted he did have some good instruction from Bill King as a ten year old when he was on that powerhouse Kippy Brown coached Rays team that went 17-1 with the likes of Nelson Smith, Terran Smith, Heath Pentecost, Parker and Peyton Brown and Jayson Brown. Holy cow!! But even then coach King said he still needed work on his control but the arm was there. It seems his arm and control is very much here in 2011 so batters beware!!
Dalton Hall: Last season Dalton pitched every big game the Rangers were in and almost won them all. He literally carried this team on his back in the first half when they posted a league best record of 10-1. Dalton Hall, version 2011, is back at it again winning two games to start the season over two of the league favorites to put the Rangers in first after week one at 3-0.
Dylan Kelly: After week one Dylan Kelly is, in my opinion, the best hitter on the Rangers team. I haven’t seen a poor at-bat to date and every hit is on the button. The best catcher in the league is letting everyone know that he is just as dangerous in the batter’s box as well.
Heath Pentecost: The best pitcher in the league didn’t disappoint in week one when he took the mound for his first regular season start and promptly no-hit the Reds in six innings and 72 pitches striking out 13 and walking one; the only base runner the Reds had the entire game. Heath warmed up in the batter’s box in the next game going 3-3. The Red Sox are in second at 3-1 after a four game week to start the season.
Luke Brown: I think I can repeat my cliché from earlier when I say that big things come in little packages. Luke Brown is a kid when you see him walking around the park; you wouldn’t give him a second glance. I felt that way when I first met him. My thoughts were “man this kid is small! How can he possibly help the Red Sox defend their back to back championships?” Then I saw him throw a ball and the story was clear. He gets absolutely everything out of that small frame and has handled every team he has faced to date to help the Sox move into that second place position. He almost single handedly beat the Twins last night pitching a complete game three-hitter striking out 11 and went 2-3 at the plate driving in the winning run in the bottom of the fifth with a stand up line drive triple. The Red Sox are thanking the stars that Luke Brown is wearing their colors!
Jake Rucker: Instant offense comes to mind when the name is mentioned. This kid led the entire 9-10 division last season with 26 hits. The second most last season behind Jake was 20. This kid can flat out hit a baseball and is another reason why the Rangers are sitting in first after week one of the season. His pitching hasn’t been as crisp to date but I am sure he will work it out.
Nelson Smith: The White Sox leader is another instant offense guy. A difficult out every at-bat and arguably the best shortstop in the league, this kid, along with the rest of the supporting cast the White Sox posses, is why the White Sox are still the favorites to claim the major league crown.
Cole Carter: The Reds are using Cole as their starting shortstop but if there was a kid who could challenge Dylan Kelly as the league’s supreme catcher, Cole would be it. He moves like Dylan behind the plate and when he is used in this position for the Reds, base runners are better off not even leaving the bag because nothing ever gets by him. A good mental picture that bests describes Cole, as well as Dylan, would be to picture what major league catcher’s look like when they move to block bad pitches in the dirt; You got the idea. Cole also has shown he can hit as well and will help the Reds secure wins as the season progresses.
Payton and Parker Brown: They both look the same so I don’t know which one was on second yesterday for the Phillies but he saved more runs than I could count. The Rangers hit several hard balls to his right up the middle and he made every play look routine. The Rangers fans in the stands were singing his praises all game long. The other was behind the plate and was just as impressive. The Phillies have two talented players.
Justin Smith: The Yankees have a winner on their hands. Justin was pulled on opening day versus the White Sox with a 6-1 lead. The White Sox were glad they did because if he had stayed for the duration of the game, the ending probably would have been different. This kid can bring it and will only get stronger as he matures. Look out next season when he’s twelve!
I’m getting writer’s cramp so I am going to close it down for the day. Hope you enjoyed and I can’t wait for week two to begin!!!
Good luck to every team this week!!!
RECAP OF 2010 AND PREVIEW OF THE SEASON AHEAD
“A” 5-6 Division
Last season the National League Indians were the cream of the crop the entire season blowing through the first and second half championships for a clean sweep. Coach Josh Brown returns for a repeat performance and time will tell if the defending champs will be up to the task again this season.
The 5-6 Braves were the champions of the American League division. Gone is the championship winning coach, John Robertson; his 2011 replacement is Coach Mike Meeks. The lingering question is can the Braves repeat or will there be another champion crowned at the end of the season?
Due to the constant turn over in this league you can say that every team has a chance each season at the crown.
“AA” 7-8 Division
The American League Phillies return to defend their 2010 crown. Coach Kip Brown takes over the helm this season after coaching the 9-10 Rays the previous year. Rumor has it this team will once again vie for the American League crown. The other four teams in the division will have their sights set on the champs all season.
The National League Reds were the 2010 champions. Coach David Couch returns to defend the crown but will be without some key contributors from last season’s team. The hill will be much steeper to climb this season.
“AAA” 9-10 Division
This age division was the most upside down of any last year. Talent was spread on every team and no team could completely pull away from the pack. In the end, the American Reds won the title after a six year absence as American League champs and the National League Red Sox tripped/stumbled/bumbled across the line to claim the National League crown in a super competitive race. Both teams return with some talent from last season, but will they have enough to claim the coveted crown again this season?
The National League will, in my early opinion, be a wide open race, once again (sigh……). The Red Sox return with several key contributors to the 2010 champion team but are missing the top two pitchers from that team. Both moved up to the 11-12 age division. Will the pitching hold up this season?
The Yankees made a run at the Red Sox in the second half only to fall in a championship game. I see some good returning talent and if my guess is correct, Coach Phillips most likely had a solid draft to boot so they will most likely challenge.
The Cubs were down last year which is an abnormality in these parts with Coach Bo Boguskie at the helm. I am counting on greener pastures for this team this season and a return to championship contending form.
The Rockies made some noise last season and have a few returning players that can carry the load. I have a feeling this team will be in the mix as well during the season. Time will tell if I am on target or not.
The American League was won by the Reds last season. The Reds return several talented players from last season including their #1 pitcher from a year ago, Hayden Layne. This kid is a beast guys and will be tough to beat when on the mound. The Reds should make a strong case to repeat as champs again.
The Diamondbacks were a solid team last season and have some solid returning players as well. I expect them to give the Reds a run for the league crown.
This seasons “IT” team will be the Phillies. I have heard rumors galore floating around about this team. The 10 year old leadership will be strong with Austin Mayes and Reid Nelson carrying the load on the mound and the big stick of Elijah Brooks bringing in the runs. This is my favorite entering the season. Sorry guys for the jinx.
MAJOR LEAGUE: 11-12 Division.
This is the division that rules the roost at the park; the big boys. The 11-12 division has only one league and the league has eight teams this season. Last season, the Red Sox claimed the crown for the second consecutive year and will be gunning for a third. Blocking their path to a three-peat will be the Phillies, White Sox and Rangers with a few “dark horses” thrown in for good measure. This is the first season for the league in Little League so pitching will be at a premium due to the pitch count rule.
The two time defending champion Red Sox return with arguably the top pitcher in the league in Heath Pentecost. Pentecost will have several key contributors this season to help bring another title home. Luke Brown will be the top eleven year old on the team and will help compliment Pentecost on the mound as one of the top eleven year old pitchers in the league.
The 11-12 runner-up Rangers will be back for more after coming up short last season in the championship game. The Rangers return another top pitcher in the league in Dalton Hall who pitched the majority of the Rangers big games last season. That experience will serve him well entering this season. Jake Rucker is the top eleven year old addition to the team and one of the top eleven year old pitchers entering the season. He will be a solid compliment to Hall all season long. Dylan Kelly enters this season as the top catcher in the league and one of the top bats. The Rangers will contend.
The White Sox were last season’s odds on pick to win the championship this season. The Sox return a wealth of talent from last year’s team. Ty Sutley, Terran Smith, Austin Richardson and Nelson Smith will be expected to carry the team this season while Ty Dean and Jonathan Seals are the top eleven years old additions. Offense and defense should be an easy task for this team. Also watch out for Keaton Allison. He was a tough out all season in 2010 and will certainly be again this year.
The Phillies finished the season strong in 2010 with the majority of the team eleven years old. Because of that strong second half finish, the Phillies are expected to be a team to reckon with in 2011. The pitching will be solid behind Steven Biggerstaff, Diego Amaro and Sam Ayers and the bats will be flying with CJ Laws leading the way. Dangerous is how best to describe this team because they are fully loaded and ready to rumble.
The Reds were up and down last season due in large part to a depleted roster for most of the season. Returning this season to make things right are Cody “Big Show” Moyer and Chase “I’m just as big” Waller. These new “bash brothers” should strike fear in every coach when they walk up to the plate. A solid core around these two should make the Reds a thorn in the side to all who play them.
The Yankees were another young team last season with nine of the thirteen players eleven years old. Eight of those nine eleven year olds return this season to give the Yankees a solid foundation to build on. The Yankees didn’t have the same success as the Phillies last season so the buzz surrounding this team isn’t as loud but that doesn’t mean they will not be just as dangerous. Justin Smith will be the top eleven year old and will provide solid help on the mound.
The “New Kids on the Block” will be the Twins and the Cardinals. Both teams are expansion teams so the twelve year old talent is new to the league which makes both teams more of an unknown commodity knowing how strong Goodlettsville Baseball is year in and year out. The eleven year old talent on both teams is deeper than any team in the league so that youth will help these teams compete this season and make them contenders the following year.
That wraps up the 2010 season recap and 2011 pre-season look ahead and I hope everyone is excited for the new season about to begin with this coming weeks Jamboree games, April 2nd.
LET THE SEASON BEGIN!!!!! Good luck to all.