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Old 04-26-2019, 04:13 AM   #2821
Westheim
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March 3, Joel Trotter signed with the Gold Sox for $1.2M. The Raccoons had also been after the 7-year veteran with 47-53 record and 4.38 career ERA, but eventually gave up on him. He was the veteran pitcher that had led the Federal League in walks last season and even had led the Continental League in walks with the ’26 Aces. He was far from flawless, but managed to pitch into the teeth of the defense usually and thus was putting up consistently good BABIP numbers, and infield defense was nothing the Coons had to hide in, so that could have been a working fit. Alas, it didn’t come to pass. Like so often this offseason, the Raccoons had to bow out because there was not enough dough left in the bowl to bake another cake.

There was howev- … what is it? – Yes, Matt, I said cake. – No, Matt, I don’t have any cake. – No, there is no cake in this room.

Now Nunley has slammed the door. Oh, this bunch.

(reaches into the bottom drawer and brings up a plate with a fork and a piece of cake)

Where were we?

Oh yeah, getting anybody to sign with the Raccoons…

+++

March 17 – The Raccoons sign former SFB C/1B Mike Pizzo (.246, 150 HR, 530 RBI) to a 1-yr, $1.3M contract.
March 17 – Newly signed LAP SP Vincent Alfaro will miss Opening Day and the first few weeks of the season following a fall down a flight of stairs in his new L.A. home while he did some redecorating.
March 20 – The Indians deal C Matt Dear (.246, 10 HR, 75 RBI) to the Crusaders for LF/RF Ivan Vega (.273, 20 HR, 149 RBI) and #94 prospect SP Efrain Rodriguez.
March 25 – The Bayhawks trade LF/CF Edwin Rendon (.285, 16 HR, 91 RBI) to the Blue Sox in exchange for LF Ron Raynor (.254, 112 HR, 457 RBI), a dubious prospect, and cash.
March 30 – The Raccoons sign 36-year-old veteran SP Jose Menendez (108-129, 3.75 ERA, 17 SV), who spent 2029 with the Aces, to a 1-yr, $750k contract.

+++

We were two days away from giving Sean Rigg the last spot in the rotation, then close our eyes and brace for impact. Normally I like to sleep during the months of February and March; this time they were hard work to find a starting pitcher in a trade, because, let’s be honest, Menendez… (sighs) … has seen better times. In fact he has not posted a winning record since Nick Brown was an active player – in *2018*.

We were involved in a trade talk with the Buffaloes right up until the morning of Opening Day. Right like EVERYTHING ELSE this winter, the deal fell through. It would have involved bundling up as many fringe players that weren’t going to make the 25-man roster for a prospect we coveted, but the Buffos kept insisting on something of value in the deal.

All the value we had was bitterly needed though.
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pgjocki (04-26-2019)
Old 04-26-2019, 10:12 AM   #2822
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2030 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set in parenthesis shows 2029 numbers, second set career numbers; players with an * are off season acquisitions):

SP Mark Roberts, 35, B:L, T:L (14-11, 3.42 ERA | 130-87, 3.05 ERA) – Mark Roberts led the league once more in home runs allowed, mostly thanks to horrendous April, including seven dingers allowed in his first three starts in ’29. Rallied more or less nicely over the last few months of the season, but remains a launchpad and that will not change during his last three years on the books. Actually led the league in strikeouts with just 187, an abnormally low value, but not in K/9.
SP Tom Shumway, 33, B:L, T:L (7-4, 1.96 ERA | 131-100, 3.26 ERA) – would probably be the ace on many staffs around the league, but it was hard to dislodge Roberts around here, who had seen some stuff in recent years. Shumway was probably a top 10 starter in the league, but had yet to sniff the World Series, having spent all his time with the Indians and Aces before coming aboard before the previous season. But like anything of value in 2029, he went down to injury, and actually stayed on the DL for all of the second half. Here’s to a healthier 2030 – and despite this exclamation being valid for half a dozen more guys down the roster here, we will not repeat it every single time…
SP Rico Gutierrez, 30, B:L, T:L (4-1, 1.98 ERA | 90-62, 3.23 ERA) – I said before, that if he could keep the ball in the park a bit more, he would be a true ace. And if he could stay healthy, he might actually help the team. Made only 11 starts in 2029 and other than that existed largely as a hole after he had won the ERA title in 2028. Has decent control while keeping batters alert with a move-happy 96mph heater.
SP Jose Menendez *, 36, B:S, T:R (11-12, 5.05 ERA, 8 SV | 108-129, 3.75 ERA, 17 SV) – signed two days before Opening Day. His best days were a really long time ago. Little left in terms of stuff, but the Raccoons bank on him delivering innings in a qualified manner.
SP Dave Martinez, 24, B:S, T:R (6-1, 2.51 ERA | 6-3, 3.22 ERA) – came out of nowhere late in the season with his nondescript stuff and so-so control and suddenly flummoxed hitters enough to make himself worth a consideration. And after an offseason’s worth of agony, here he is, having somehow slipped into the #5 spot in the rotation, quite like Billy Ramm last year, and boy did that ever go well…

MR Matt Stonecipher, 25, B:R, T:R (2-2, 3.88 ERA | 2-2, 3.88 ERA) – high voltage.(10.6 K/9) without much control (6.2 BB/9), was mostly used in low-pressure situations or for mopping up last season; this might stay the same.
MR Jonathan Fleischer, 27, B:L, T:R (2-2, 2.78 ERA, 1 SV | 8-5, 3.32 ERA, 2 SV) – right-hander with a 96mph heater and a nasty curveball, but unfortunately also with some significant control issues. Did extensive long relief duty again in ’29 despite us hoping he could be used for nobler causes.
MR Mauricio Garavito, 28, B:L, T:L (4-1, 2.42 ERA | 6-6, 3.02 ERA, 5 SV) – left-hander with balanced splits that was claimed off waivers by the Bayhawks early in the 2029 season when Jeremy Moesker turned out to be a turd. Did little to draw negative or positive attention; but was mostly very reliable.
MR Billy Brotman, 31, B:L, T:L (4-4, 4.41 ERA | 22-21, 2.82 ERA, 17 SV) – this general purpose lefty had a weirdly terrible season in ’29, conceding more home runs and whiffing fewer batters than ever. Things seemed to pile up on him, too. The curveball is still bendy though, so there isn’t a reason for him not to bounce back right away (although we tried to trade him multiple times this winter and nobody was really into the thought of having to deal with his antics AND constant stern letters by Mrs. Sheila Rosenzweig Brotman about how her bubbele was being (ab)used on high holidays).
MR Kevin Surginer, 30, B:R, T:R (1-2, 3.62 ERA, 1 SV | 31-26, 3.17 ERA, 9 SV) – very solid and mostly reliable reliever that goes about his job with so little noise that you sometimes entirely forget he's still there. Has in the past been a popular choice for long relief and extra inning battles, but is also a valid setup option for Josh Boles.
SU Ricky Ohl, 31, B:R, T:R (7-5, 2.89 ERA, 3 SV | 25-17, 2.52 ERA, 31 SV) – aggressive strikeout pitcher who broke through the 13 K/9 mark for the first time in his career in 2028 and continues to serve as auxiliary closer as the Raccoons can mix and match it a bit between three lockdown relievers at the thick end of the bullpen. His K/9 were down a bunch (10.1) in 2029, though, but so were the walks. Transitioning into a control pitcher already?
CL Josh Boles, 26, B:L, T:L (2-0, 1.98 ERA, 40 SV | 11-9, 2.12 ERA, 102 SV) – his dazzling knuckle curve unnerves both left- and right-handed batters and we can not imagine a better closer right now. He did not lose a game at all in ’29, which is a stunning achievement for a closer, and led the CL in saves for the second straight year – or all the years he was anointed closer come Opening Day.

C Elias Tovias, 30, B:S, T:R (.241, 8 HR, 56 RBI | .252, 93 HR, 406 RBI) – Elias Matias Tovias Diaz has good defense, good game calling, a rather strong arm, and if the bat could strike out a little less, he would actually be an impact player, but he posted a sub-100 OPS+ (92) for the fourth time in five seasons in ’29.
C/1B Mike Pizzo *, 33, B:L, T:R (.272, 21 HR, 68 RBI | .246, 150 HR, 530 RBI) – signed to a 1-year deal in March and will go into open confrontation with Tovias come April. These two will determine between another who will be the primary catcher as the season unfolds.

1B Kevin Harenberg, 32, B:L, T:L (.321, 24 HR, 106 RBI | .300, 169 HR, 789 RBI) – rebounded nicely from a mediocre 2028 season (apart from beating the Buffaloes senseless to become 2028 World Series MVP) despite a summer drought, but ended up putting up an .882 OPS, which is generally not a shabby value. One of the key free agents come the end of the season.
2B/SS Tim Stalker, 31, B:R, T:R (.250, 15 HR, 100 RBI | .263, 70 HR, 427 RBI) – very good defensive middle infielder, more than just token speed, and most of the time also a good batter, even though he ended 2029 in a terrible slump that saw him post a sub-.700 OPS for the first time since 2024. Tim can hit for any sort of extra-base hit with ease, though, steal bases, play defense like there’s no tomorrow (4 career Gold Gloves), and driving in a hundred runs for a middle infielder is not an everyday occurrence, either.
SS Alberto Ramos, 24, B:L, T:R (.353, 3 HR, 36 RBI | .324, 8 HR, 152 RBI) – the 2026 Rookie of the Year Ramos was a treat all around, at least when he was able to stay on the field. Led the league in stolen bases for the second time in ’29 despite missing 56+ games for the third straight year. Injuries keep felling him and we struggle to find a way to keep his .452 OBP presence in the batter’s box.
3B/2B/SS/LF/RF Rich Hereford, 32, B:S, T:R (.294, 15 HR, 54 RBI | .283, 165 HR, 686 RBI) – skilled and versatile defender with a bat that can make the ball jump some distance, Hereford came over in a deadline deal with the Gold Sox in 2027 and then made the 2028 season all about himself, tying Tetsu Osanai’s ancient franchise records for RBI in a season as well as leading the league in homers. In 2029 he missed three months due to injury like just about anybody else on the roster. We are counting on some more of that 30-homer juice this season, during Rich might actually play rightfield for a significant amount of time. Has only 104 outfield starts in his career, of which over 70% have come with Portland.
3B Matt Nunley, 39, B:L, T:R (.282, 13 HR, 62 RBI | .278, 158 HR, 938 RBI) – endless Matt Nunley resigned for another season, which will be his 18th overall, tying Nick Brown for Raccoons longevity. He had a batting resurgence last season, swatting for a .772 OPS, his best in more than a decade. Still plays stingy defense, although his range has diminished a bit in the last few seasons.
RF/LF/3B/CF/2B/1B Chris Baldwin, 26, B:R, T:R (.220, 1 HR, 11 RBI | .220, 1 HR, 11 RBI) – super utility player taken in the rule 5 draft off the Pacifics last winter that somehow lasted both the entire season without being send back (or breaking a few legs), and even made it through the following winter, too.

LF/CF Matt Jamieson, 34, B:R, T:R (.291, 14 HR, 72 RBI | .263, 88 HR, 554 RBI) – played a competent leftfield and hit the ball well enough for 44 extra-base hits in a season that started with him sharing time with Matt Nunley, and once Rich Hereford went down they were both in the lineup every single day. Jamieson resigned on a 3-year deal in the offseason and the Coons hope that he will make the most of the time.
LF/CF/RF/1B Abel Mora, 33, B:L, T:R (.262, 9 HR, 49 RBI | .270, 120 HR, 636 RBI) – like so many players, this eccentric centerfielder is a key part of the Raccoons lineup, which didn’t stop him from missing a chunk of time on the DL last year (sigh) or from being a free agent after 2030.
1B/LF/RF/CF Rafael Gomez, 31, B:R, T:L (.229, 8 HR, 42 RBI | .268, 126 HR, 608 RBI) – the mysterious death of Rafael Gomez remains to be investigated; from a .288 clip with 25 homers in 2027 to … whatever that 2029 stat line is supposed to be. Lost his grip on the starting assignment in rightfield at the end of the season and will have to prove he has any value as he enters a contract year at the worst possible time for him.
CF/LF/RF Juan Magallanes, 26, B:S, T:R (.272, 0 HR, 20 RBI | .258, 1 HR, 39 RBI) – the Colombian alumnus of a Jewish high school in Manhattan spent the entire 2029 season on the roster without getting noticed in any way, shape or form, which can either work in your favor or against you these days... it was actually the second straight year for Magallanes to not being sent down at any point, and he did show a penchant for drawing walks and put up a .375 OBP, making for a poor man’s leadoff batter whenever Ramos is laid up in a cast or something.
RF/LF/CF/3B Wilson Rodriguez, 27, B:R, T:R (.256, 4 HR, 24 RBI | .251, 4 HR, 24 RBI) – late bloomer if you want to give him even as much credit. Mostly slaps single, and does that sporadically at best. Solid defensive option across the outfield, but it wouldn’t hurt us to find a lefty outfield bat to replace him with.

On disabled list: Nobody.

Otherwise unavailable: Nobody.

Other roster movement:
SP/MR Allen Reed, 34, B:L, T:L (4-3, 4.26 ERA | 48-60, 4.61 ERA, 20 SV) – waived and DFA’ed – swingman that came along in the Rin Nomura trade born out of sheer disgust last July and went down on the DL before he could pitch even 20 innings.
SP/MR Bobby Reed, 25, B:R, T:R (0-1, 7.47 ERA | 0-1, 7.50 ERA) – waived and DFA’ed – swingman that was a waiver claim off the Stars last winter, but never amounted to anything nice and managed only 2.9 K/9 in the majors last year.
SP/MR Sean Rigg, 29, B:R, T:R (2-1, 3.98 ERA, 1 SV | 22-17, 3.88 ERA, 1 SV) – swingman added in the Jarod Spencer deal with the Condors last winter that was used as a plug for many holes last year.
SS/3B Butch Gerster, 28, B:R, T:R (.237, 2 HR, 15 RBI | .257, 6 HR, 35 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed – did some injury replacement in ’28 and was fairly successful then, slapping singles to a .303 tune, but regressed to no-good when he spent all of 2029 on the major league roster and was being fed at-bats endlessly for injuries to other players.

The remaining players not specifically mentioned in this section were all reassigned to AAA before already. This includes left-hander Billy Ramm, also Shane Ivey and Daniel Rocha, backup catchers, as well as scratch infielders Sam Cass and German Sanchez, plus outfielder Ryan Allan.

OPENING DAY LINEUP:

Vs. RHP: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias (Pizzo) – P Roberts
(Vs. LHP: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF (3B) Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley (RF Gomez/Rodriguez) – CF Magallanes – C Tovias – P Roberts)

Stalker and Jamieson are the only righty bats in the lineup against right-handers. Pizzo would probably start most of these games and Tovias get all the assignments facing lefties, but Opening Day will go to the incumbent when we will face Andy Bressner and the rest of the Arrowheads at home. Nunley and Mora are probably the most likely guys to be switched out against left-handed pitching, but there are quite a few options. Chris Baldwin was super utility will get a bunch of starts against lefties, too.

Note that Pizzo does not really work out as an alternate for Harenberg against southpaws, as both are batting left-handed. Rafael Gomez plays a competent first base and might get starts for Harenberg there during the long spells without an off day.

OFF SEASON CHANGES:

Hibernation did us well, thank you, we feel ten years younger. What might really surprise anybody is that the Raccoons with their entirely sleeptrodden, hemiplegic approach to the offseason actually came out fourth on BNN’s offseason WAR gains chart. Never mind that WAR is a useless stat, I like coming fourth on that, but I wonder how that came about. The only free agent we lost was Kyle Anderson (0.7 WAR in 2019), and the trade for Chris Wise cost us 1.8 WAR. Jose Menendez gave us +1.8, and Mike Pizzo +3.8 when they signed in March.

In March!

Top 5 WAR gains: Buffaloes (+14.6), Pacifics (+14.1), Loggers (+3.4), Raccoons (+3.1), Cyclones (+2.7)
Bottom 5 WAR losses: Miners (-4.8), Canadiens (-4.9), Blue Sox (-5.7), Scorpions (-6.1), Capitals (-13.0)

PREDICTION TIME:

Last year I boldly proclaimed that there was no reason why the Raccoons should not repeat their 2028 title. Then injuries axed Rico Gutierrez, Alberto Ramos (repeatedly), Rich Hereford, Tom Shumway, each for several months, and a number of other players for shorter spells. Every part of the roster except the bullpen was grievously ravaged by ills big and small, and in the end the team came up five games short. So that was what could keep us from repeating! Huh!

The team is still roughly the same. We exchanged Rin Nomura not necessarily with an upgrade, same for Delgadillo, but I think the big three can keep the rotation together (as long as they’re healthy…). The lineup is one to fear and has no significant weakness top to bottom.

If the injuries remain at a reasonable level, the Raccoons will win the North and bid for glory once more. I think 95 wins sounds very reasonable. If we can keep Alberto Ramos on the field, finally, we might even challenge triple digits for the first time since 1996.

Of course, everybody knows that this is the current version of the team’s final hurrah. The list of upcoming free agents is extensive and depressing: Harenberg, Gomez, Mora, Pizzo, Menendez, Brotman, Nunley, and Surginer are all up after the season. Hereford, Ohl, Ramos after ’31. Roberts, Boles, Jamieson after ’32. After that you only have a player option on Tom Shumway, one guaranteed year and a player option on Stalker, and a guaranteed year and two team options on Rico Gutierrez.

The time is now, because there might not be another chance in the near or middle-distant future.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:

The Raccoons’ farm system remains stuck at 21st among all ABL teams, the same spot as last year. We also retain our number of two top 100 prospects (the same as last year) and five ranked prospects overall, so the addition of #89 Chris Wise didn’t improve our lot in any way because at the same time he dropped 35 spots in the ranking.

Two of last year’s ranked prospects are no longer ranked. #185 Fernando Solis dropped out even of the franchise top 10, while Chris Baldwin, the rule 5 pick, spent all season on the major league roster, so his #198 status expired accordingly.

52nd (+40) – A C Elliott Thompson, 20 – 2028 sixth-round pick by Raccoons
82nd (-11) – A SP Darren Brown, 20 – 2028 first-round pick by Raccoons
124th (new) – AAA CL Chris Wise, 23 – 2028 first-round pick by Crusaders, acquired in trade for Dan Delgadillo and Jamie O’Leary
145th (new) – A SP Ignacio del Rio, 20 – 2026 international free agent signed by Raccoons
150th (+24) – AA SP Izzy Chavez, 22 – 2025 international free agent signed by Raccoons

Five more to make up the franchise top 10:

AAA SP Raffaello Sabre, 21 (2025 IFA), A SP Bob Thomson, 19 (2029 2nd Rd.), AA SP Bernie Chavez, 21 (2026 4th Rd. (DEN), acq. via Rin Nomura trade), A 1B Ryan St. Pierre, 21 (2029 Supp. Rd.), INT SP Jonathan Galvan, 18 (2028 IFA);

The top 5 overall prospects this year are:

#1 RIC A SP Justin Kaiser (newly drafted)
#2 BOS AAA OF/2B Moises Avila (was #8)
#3 SFW AAA 2B/SS Mario Colon (was #3)
#4 TIJ AA LF/RF/1B Willie Ojeda (was #62)
#5 BOS AA SP Rich Willett (was #26)

Three-time #1 prospect in all the lands Dan Schneller was promoted to the majors in April and won the CL Rookie of the Year title. The #2 prospect from last year’s list, Nashville’s 3B Chance Bossert, was also promoted to the Show in April, but batted only .234 over the last five months. The #4 prospect, MIL SP Josh Long, made his debut a bit later in the season, then was used as swingman by the Loggers and lost eligibility as well, while the #5 prospect from last year, NAS SP Matt Hose, dropped to #15, but is said to be close to promotion to the majors now as well.

Next: first pitch.
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Portland Raccoons, 57 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 39 TONER : 46 SAITO

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DD Martin (04-26-2019)
Old 04-26-2019, 10:26 AM   #2823
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Good luck on the new season
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Westheim (04-26-2019)
Old 04-26-2019, 11:56 AM   #2824
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Back in my day, catchers did not get a million dollars per star.....we got a bowl of soup and had to pay for the crackers.....

And has anyone heard from this new Menendez fellas' parents in a while?

I hope I enjoy the coming season more than I enjoyed this off-season.....

What happened to the good old days when we traded rusty old used American cars to stupid Canadians for shiny new Japanese ones?
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Westheim (04-26-2019)
Old 04-26-2019, 06:58 PM   #2825
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Raccoons (0-0) vs. Indians (0-0) – April 1-3, 2030

Season opener at home, facing the Indians. These two teams ended the 2028 season tied for second in the North, safely tucked away behind the Titans. In the course of coming up short, we took ten of eighteen games from the Arrowheads, including a sweep on the final weekend of the season. The Indians had made lots of deals (and the Raccoons had made none) during the offseason, bringing in Mark Morrison, a Dallas starter, and bringing back Killian Savoie from the Rebels among other trades. We had won the season series seven years in a row.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (0-0) vs. Andy Bressner (0-0)
Tom Shumway (0-0) vs. David Saccoccio (0-0)
Rico Gutierrez (0-0) vs. John McInerney (0-0)

Two righties, then last year’s Opening Day starter for Indy, southpaw John McInerney.

Let’s get this campaign underway with a W, boys!

Game 1
IND: SS Pizano – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – LF I. Vega – 2B Schneller – C J. Herrera – 3B Calfee – P Bressner
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Roberts

What a splendid day in Portland – it was near freezing, the wind blew out to center, Mark Roberts walked Mario Pizano on four pitches, and then allowed a first-inning bomb to Ben Suhay. Almost like last year! The Coons had only one base hit in the first two innings, a Mora single that led nowhere, while the Indians tacked on a run in the third when Roberts inexplicably issued 2-out walks to Jon Gonzalez and Suhay on nine pitches, then allowed an RBI single to left against Mike Plunkett, 3-0. He went on to narrowly escape outright execution in the dugout and led off the bottom 3rd with a singlet to center. Ramos walked, bringing up the tying run in Tim Stalker, who popped out on the first pitch, before Hereford worked a walk in a full count. Harenberg hit a hard grounder to left that allowed Roberts and Ramos to score, but that would be it for the inning despite a Jamieson single to follow up. With three on and one out, Mora cracked a hard grounder right at Dan Schneller, and the inning ended 4-6-3. Matt Nunley got the hoots excited with a leadoff triple (!) in the bottom 4th – not bad for a 39-year-old man! Tovias failed and grounded back to the mound, but Roberts singled to center to tie the score in the fourth. He was left on base.

That tie lasted about two seconds before Mario Pizano hit the third pitch of the fifth inning into the arctic Jetstream and clean out of centerfield to put the Indians back up, 4-3. Five ****ty innings with four hit and four walks for four runs was all anybody would get out of Roberts for this game and he left after 100 pitches thrown, not all of them convincing… He was spared the loss thanks to Jonathan Fleischer whiffing two in a clean sixth inning, then Elias Tovias hitting a marker off Andy Bressner, almost 400 feet to right-center. That one tied the score at four. That one also didn’t last – Trent Herlihy smashed a pinch-hit solo shot off Kevin Surginer in the seventh, that one breaking the plane over the leftfield wall and just inches away from Jamieson’s reaching, longing glove. The Raccoons had nothing cooking in the seventh and eighth, then faced Ben Darr, a righty in the ninth inning. Tovias struck out, after which Magallanes batted for Stonecipher because we had to get somebody on real soon. Magallanes drew a walk indeed … but Ramos struck out. Mike Pizzo batted for Stalker and did the same. 5-4 Indians. Harenberg 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Jamieson 2-4;

“Launchpad” Roberts, huh?

Game 2
IND: SS Pizano – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – LF I. Vega – 2B Schneller – C J. Herrera – 3B Calfee – P Saccoccio
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – C Pizzo – 3B Nunley – P Shumway

The Coons offense remained asnooze in some tree hole, while the Indians threatened early on with deep flies, then actually got on base in the third with a 1-out walk to Pizano and a Gonzalez single to right. Suhay moved them up, grounding out to Harenberg, and then Plunkett went down swinging to strand the runners in scoring position. While Saccoccio retired the opposition in order the first time through, Shumway fooled no one in particular the second time through. Ivan Vega hit a leadoff single in the fourth, moved up on a wild pitch, then was singled in by Dan Schneller for the first run in the game. Schneller reached second on a groundout, and then Shumway lost John Calfee in a full count. That one unraveled the whole game. Saccoccio bunted with two on and one down, and while Shumway pounced and got the force on Schneller at third base, he still got taken yard by Pizano for a 3-piece that ran the tally to 4-0 in a blink. Saccoccio was also perfect through four, which meant that by now out top of the order was 0-for-16 to start the season.

Shumway lasted six innings that were no better than Roberts’ five the day before. The first Coon on base would be Mike Pizzo legging out an infield single to begin the bottom 6th. Nunley even walked, but two on and no outs turned into no runs. Rafael Gomez hit for Shumway and flew out to right harmlessly. Ramos grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Stalker grounded out to Schneller. It got worse from here with a real moonshot off Ben Suhay’s bat against Fleischer in the seventh that ran the score to 5-0. Matt Nunley provided some token relief to the scoreboard in the bottom 8th with the Raccoons’ second hit, a 2-run blast to right that also cashed Abel Mora and his leadoff walk, but it was so far too little, and very likely much too late. Magallanes batted for Fleischer, popped out, and with two outs Ramos ended the top of the order’s 0-for-19 string to begin the year, singling to right. Stalker dropped a single into center. That brought up Rich Hereford, who fell to 1-2 an- OH, WHAT A SHOT!! Deep to right, deep, high, GONE!!

And what did Josh Boles do? He gave up a go-ahead, pinch-hit homer to Trent Herlihy in the ninth. That was the third Indian with two dingers on our soil, and I was getting miffed. Bottom 9th, Darr again. Jamieson reached with a leadoff single, then got forced on a terrible bunt by Mora. Pizzo whiffed, but Nunley stroked a single to right that put the tying run at least on base. Now we just needed a good pinch-hit effort by… uh… Tovias grabbed a bat, poked a single to left, but Ivan Vega was on it right away and kept Mora from even trying. Three on, two outs for Alberto Ramos thus, and after a fierce battle it was also three balls, two strikes. Ramos was not to be fooled with a breaking ball outside the zone here, Darr probably knew it, and he had to get him to hit one into the teeth of the defense. Ramos hit a hittable fastball up the middle, the infielders missed it, Mora scored, and – **** it! – Nunley was waved around third base, too. The 39-year-old third baseman chucked for home at all the speed he could offer, Leo Otero’s throw was poor, and the Coons walked this one off! 7-6 Critters! Ramos 2-5, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Tovias (PH) 1-1;

Nick Valdes could not make it for Opening Day, but was in the park for the rubber game of the set. Needless to say, he expected nothing less than a win. He was also in the process of buying some property in town, so that he could come to more games. I was thrilled at the expectation.

So while he was going over different real estate offers he had gotten with Steve from Accounting and the Druid, we tried to pry the rubber game from John McInerney…



…or so we thought. In reality, a snowstorm moved in and the game was wiped out. I asked Valdes whether we could get a roof any time soon. He loved the choke. He laughed hard.

With that, the Coons got two straight days off before the Thunder would come in. All the North was tied on Thursday morning, having split two games in their intra-division series.

Raccoons (1-1) vs. Thunder (2-2) – April 5-7, 2030

The snow was cleared by Friday with the Thunder coming in. They had split four with the Condors to begin the game and in considerably warmer climate. There had not been much scoring in their series, with less than four runs per game on either side of the scoreboard for them. Their defense had been porous in the early going. The Coons had taken the season series, 6-3, in 2029, their fourth straight taking of that series with the Thunder.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (0-0) vs. Alex Contreras (0-0)
Jose Menendez (0-0) vs. Jeff Dykstra (0-1, 5.14 ERA)
Mark Roberts (0-0) vs. Leon Hernandez (1-0, 1.29 ERA)

Three right-handers on the horizon here. The Thunder actually didn’t have any lefty starter to offer.

Game 1
OCT: C Burgess – 2B Serrato – 1B D. Cruz – 3B D. Garcia – RF Sagredo – LF Kuramoto – CF B. Ortega – SS Greenwald – P A. Contreras
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – C Pizzo – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez

Rico Gutierrez had such a great start into the game, whiffing three in the first inning… if you were willing to ignore the two doubles Mike Burgess and Danny Cruz hit off him, his wild pitch, and the balk he was called out for. Somehow that amounted only to a single run for Oklahoma. Rico kept shedding runners, but no more runs in the early going, and in the fifth even ended the inning by picking Burgess off first base after a 2-out single. That could all have been very entertaining if the Raccoons had played any early offense at all, but they were on two singles after four innings and once again no runs. Jamieson reached on an error to begin the bottom 5th, then was doubled up by Mora, and Nunley drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 6th, then got forced on a bad bunt by Rico. Milking mice would have been more efficient, but at least Ramos walked on four pitches and that nominally pushed the tying run into scoring position, although it was likely to have to take extra bases to get Rico home with one out. Stalker and Hereford both hit flies to deep right… and both ended up flying out to Luis Sagredo, stranding the runners. Rico lasted seven innings without getting any sort of support, and Ricky Ohl and Billy Brotman also pitched scoreless innings. That would all have been swell if the Critters would have been able to find any runs at all, but they were tumbling into a 3-hit shutout by Contreras, at least until Danny Arguello came out to save the game in the ninth. Tim Stalker was up first, coaxed a walk, and Hereford reached on an error by Greenwald. Here come the Coons! Except that Kevin Harenberg grounded into a double play… Jamieson was left with only the tying run on third base and two outs, then walked. That brought up Mora, who had started the year 1-for-10 and was also facing a southpaw. The Coons preferred to go to Wilson Rodriguez’ righty bat. He flew out to Jason Stone in leftfield. 1-0 Thunder. Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, L (0-1);

Well, that sucked. Really bad.

Not the start to the season I had hoped for.

Game 2
OCT: RF Sagredo – 1B D. Cruz – 2B Serrato – 3B D. Garcia – C Burgess – LF Kuramoto – SS A. Velez – CF B. Ortega – P Dykstra
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – CF Magallanes – C Tovias – P Menendez

This one started rainy, but at least the Coons scored first for the maiden time this season. It was a Ramos Special in the first inning. He singled, stole second, moved to third even on Burgess’ throwing error, and then came home on a Harenberg single. Bottom 2nd, leadoff walk drawn by Nunley, then singles by Magallanes and Tovias to load the bases with nobody out. Bringing up the pitcher here was sure a good way to not score in the inning, which was the Raccoons Special and had been for decades and decades. Stunningly, when Menendez put a 1-1 bouncer into play, it went through the lunging Dykstra, hit weirdly off the mound, the hustling Alex Serrato had to change course, and a weird play transpired. Nunley came home to score, Magallanes scrambled around third as Serrato chased the ball, picked it up near where he started, looked home, Magallanes hit the brakes and retreated to third base, Serrato then tried for first, but by this time everybody was safe – an RBI infield single for the pitcher! And in Jose Menendez’ first at-bat as a Coon! Ramos hit a comparably lame clean RBI single to right, 3-0, and Stalker drew four balls to force home another run. Then the middle of the order cocked up. Hereford flew out to left, Harenberg to right, both too shallow to give an old pitcher a chance at tagging up, and Jamieson went down on strikes.

Not much happened in the following innings. The Coons leaned back and tried not to get too wet by being on the basepaths, and the Thunder only managed to scratch Menendez for a third-inning run on two hits, but otherwise remained mostly harmless through six. The seventh inning saw a Burgess double and a 2-out single by Alberto Velez bring up the tying run with runners on the corners. That was Bobby Ortega, batting .333 early on. Did Menendez have anything left? The Coons didn’t risk it and went to Kevin Surginer, who nailed Ortega at 2-2, which loaded the bases. Left-handed batter Liam Riley pinch-hit now, prompting a move to Mauricio Garavito, who surrendered Menendez’ runners on a clean single before Luis Sagredo flew out to Jamieson, but now it was a 4-3 game. Garavito rung up Danny Cruz to begin the eighth and Ricky Ohl did the rest. In between the Coons got two walks off “Graveyard” Gill in the seventh, but again no runs, and thus Josh Boles had no cushion in his first save attempt of the year. He struck out the side! 4-3 Coons! Ramos 2-4, RBI;

Boys, I - … I just want to ask beforehand whether any game should be a 1-run game this season, because I think this old man here can’t take it.

Game 3
OCT: C Burgess – 2B Serrato – 1B D. Cruz – 3B D. Garcia – RF Sagredo – LF Kuramoto – CF B. Ortega – SS Greenwald – P L. Hernandez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Pizzo – 3B Nunley – CF Mora – RF Gomez – P Roberts

The ball was flying well off Mark Roberts with deep outs right from the start. At some point they started being outs though, with Mike Burgess doubling home Ortega with two outs in the third for the first marker on the scoreboard. Roberts, at bat, hit a single to right to begin the bottom 3rd, Ramos walked, but the 2-3-4 choked. Well, at least the leadoff singles that Cruz and Garcia hit off Roberts to begin the fourth didn’t come home either. Sagredo struck out, Yasuhiro Kuramoto grounded out, and Ortega flew out to center. Deep center. The score became tied in the bottom 4th with Mike Pizzo’s leadoff jack to right, where the frigid wind was blowing to. Nunley singled after that and Gomez dropped in a bloop single, but after Roberts bunted them into scoring position, Ramos’ vicious liner to center was speared by Ortega to end the inning.

Bottom 5th, Stalker opened with a double down the leftfield line. Hereford whiffed, dropping to .111 in the young season, Harenberg flew out harmlessly, and then Pizzo came up and took some nasty hacks. One hack at 3-2 actually met the ball, and hit another one into the polar jetstream… and over the rightfield fence again! Home run, 3-1 Coons! Kuramoto had Serrato and Sagredo on board in the sixth when he made a 2-out attempt for the wall, but that one went the wrong direction and died in Hereford’s glove on the warning track. That didn’t end the trouble. Bobby Ortega led off the seventh with a double to left, then went to the trainer’s room with an aggravated quad. Liam Riley replaced him, and Roberts blew the lead on a pinch-hit homer by left-handed batter Tom Schorsch, then was yanked a wee bit too late. Burgess followed up the barrage with a homer off Kevin Surginer to take the lead, 4-3. But it wasn’t like no Coons got on base in this game – they were just stranded all the ****ing time. Harenberg hit a 1-out single off Dusty Kulp in the bottom 7th, and then Pizzo walked in a full count. Nunley ended the inning with a double play grounder. By the bottom 8th, Matt Jamieson had been inserted in the #9 hole via double switch. A Greenwald throwing error had put Rafael Gomez on second base (hey, at least he got on base SOMEHOW) with one out, and then Jamison singled into left-center, and deep enough to get the tying run across, taking Surginer off the hook. Ramos grounded out against new pitcher Franklin Alvarado, moving the go-ahead run to second base. Tim Stalker cashed in with a single over the second-base bag, again just enough to get the run in from second base. Alvarado went on to load the bases with full count walks to Hereford and Harenberg, which brought up Mike Pizzo once more. Say, Pizz, how about widening the gap a bit? He struck out… but not until after Burgess had lost a ball between his legs and an insurance run had scored on the passed ball. Josh Boles, after a very pleasant save on Saturday, returned to his aggravating two outs, two on ways, retiring Greenwald and Stone before Burgess singled and Serrato walked, which brought up power-happy switch-hitter Danny Cruz. Too power-happy it turned out – he was disemboweled on three pitches. 6-4 Coons. Stalker 3-5, 2B, RBI; Pizzo 2-4, BB, 2 HR, 3 RBI; Nunley 2-4; Jamieson 1-1, RBI;

In other news

April 2 – After a rainout on Opening Day, Gold Sox and Wolves play a double-header that turns into an endless affair. The Wolves win the first leg, 2-1, in 16 innings, then collapse and get bludgeoned endlessly in a 16-2 smashing in the second leg. The entire ordeal takes almost nine hours. DEN RF Vinny Chavira (.571, 1 HR, 5 RBI) has four hits and 5 RBI in the second game.
April 3 – The Titans trade C Keith Leonard (no stats) to the Rebels for a minor leaguer and #27 prospect CL Josh Heckman.
April 5 – The Bayhawks erase the Crusaders, 18-6, including a 10-run second inning. SFB RF Cesar Martinez (.438, 2 HR, 7 RBI) drives in five runs on two hits.
April 5 – TOP RF/CF Dan Dalton (.278, 2 HR, 8 RBI) drives in six runs in a 16-10 loss of the Buffaloes against the Warriors.
April 6 – The Loggers put out *23* hits in a game against the Condors and still manage to lose, 11-9 in 16 innings. Milwaukee utility Wayne Morris (.417, 0 HR, 1 RBI) has five hits and one RBI, while TIJ 1B Kevin McGrath (.222, 0 HR, 7 RBI) has three hits, but knocks in five runs, including the winnings (and unearned) runs in the 16th off MIL MR Jeff Nelson (0-1, 0.00 ERA).
April 6 – The Stars put out 17 hits and as many runs in a 17-5 drubbing of the Capitals. DAL C/1B Jack Stickley (.211, 1 HR, 5 RBI) drives in five runs with an RBI triple and a grand slam.
April 7 – The Gold Sox trade SP Mario Alva (1-0, 2.57 ERA) and cash to the Wolves for 3B/SS Bill Moore (.294, 1 HR, 3 RBI) and a so-so prospect.
April 7 – WAS SP Johnny Nelson (1-1, 3.24 ERA) 2-hits the Stars in a 6-0 Capitals win, whiffing nine.

Complaints and stuff

(shrugs) Sort of a ho-hum start. What really annoys me are the eight homers the Coons have already served up, including six to the Indians in just two games. The offense was paltry, with several of the big bats still missing in action. Somehow, Chris Baldwin spent the entire week glued to the bench, too. He looks sad.

Dave Martinez was also not used in the aftermath of the rubber game with the Indians being postponed. He will take his first start on Tuesday against Vegas, after Shumway and before Rico Gutierrez, who will then go on regular rest. This also separated the three left-handers for the time being.

Allen Reed was claimed off waivers by the Buffaloes, which would take about $700k off the Coons’ books, which could now be used for some smart investment. Bobby Reed and Butch Gerster made it to St. Pete.

The snowout on Wednesday was moved to April 26 as a double header opening a weekend set against the Indians. There is an off day on the Thursday before, but there would not be an off day afterwards to help us out. The weather was ugly throughout the week and almost every division is missing a few games. The FL East also misses a winning team right now, with the 2-3 Blue Sox leading the pack.

Fun Fact: The prospect in the Mario Alva trade was Angel Vaglienty, who was signed by the Raccoons out of the Dominican Republic and was since included in four trades for major leaguers.

From the Coons to the Miners in the Dan McLin trade three years ago. That was the one that ended The Age of Omar that never really broke out. Vaglienty went on to be traded to the Indians, Wolves, and now to the Gold Sox.
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Old 04-27-2019, 01:49 PM   #2826
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Raccoons (3-2) @ Aces (4-1) – April 8-10, 2030

Vegas had come out on defense; they had allowed only ten runs in their first five games, and had scored 26, zooming into first place in the CL South with one week in the books. They had only one home run, one stolen base, but nevertheless had strangled the opposition so far. The Coons had taken seven of nine games from them last year and had won the last four season series against the Aces.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (0-0, 6.00 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (1-0, 2.25 ERA)
Dave Martinez (0-0) vs. Abramo Archibugi (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-1, 1.29 ERA) vs. Alex Ortiz (1-0, 1.00 ERA)

New attempt at seeing a left-handed pitcher on Tuesday, when we might get a shot at Abramo Archibugi. The Falcons had tried to take shots at him last week, but had failed across eight innings.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Pizzo – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – P Shumway
LVA: RF Lynch – LF Dunlap – 1B Ra. Tello – SS Yi – 3B Hawkins – 2B Donahue – C R. Alvarado – CF Hatley – P Guyett

Ramos walked, stole second, and was stranded by the next three batters. Portland would not get a base hit the first time through, but the Aces sure did. Evan Donahue ticked a single into centerfield in the second. Nothing came of that, but Nick Hatley’s leadoff double in the bottom 3rd spelled trouble, especially once Mike Pizzo threw away Guyett’s bunt for a 2-base error. The first run of the game came right across home plate, and another one was in scoring position. Shumway lost Kevin Lynch on a single, walked Ramon Tello with one out, and then In-chul Yi lifted a fly to left. Jamieson hustled over and made the catch near the line. The Aces ill-advisedly sent their pitcher towards home plate – he was gunned down, ending the inning, and preventing Tom Hawkins, who had a streak for coonskinning, from batting with the bases loaded. Hawkins instead hit a leadoff jack in the fourth, and Tom Shumway would not make it out of the inning. Donahue and Hatley had base hits, Kevin Lynch hit an RBI single, Tom Dunlap hit an RBI triple… after 3.2 innings and five runs, Shumway was yanked, failing to record a single strikeout. Five runs became six when Matt Stonecipher took over and conceded a single to Ramon Tello, plating Dunlap, and the game was all but in the bin. The Coons had only one hit, a Hereford double, off Guyett through seven innings, and when Jamieson hit a leadoff jack in the eighth we were quite past caring… at least until the tying run came up. Nunley hit a single to right, Ramos dropped a bloop into center, and Stalker was nailed by Guyett to load the bases, and when Hereford hit a 2-out RBI single, Harenberg came up with the sacks full in a 6-2 game. He grounded out to Donahue, and THAT was the game. The Aces scored a run off Garavito in the bottom of the inning, and Guyett finished what he started with a 5-hit complete game. 7-2 Aces. Hereford 2-4, 2B, RBI;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Magallanes – C Tovias – RF Rodriguez – P Martinez
LVA: SS An. Medina – LF Dunlap – RF Orozco – 1B Ra. Tello – CF Vanatti – 3B Hawkins – 2B Yi – C Scheffer – P Archibugi

Archibugi retired the first seven as the Coons came once more completely dazed into the game. The Aces loaded the bases in the bottom 2nd, but that was after a 2-out intentional walk to Philip Scheffer to bring up the pitcher Archibugi, who flew out to Magallanes. The first Critter aboard would be Wilson Rodriguez with a double into right-center in the top 3rd, but Martinez was rung up and Ramos popped out over the infield to keep the runner aboard. There was good contact off either pitcher, but little of it beat the outfielders on the opposing team; Martinez for sure surrendered a few flies that looked outta here in the early innings, but nothing got over the fence. The Coons remained morbidly harmless and on two base hits through six, while the Aces tumbled into something in the bottom of the sixth inning, and then with two outs. Ramon Tello doubled over the head of Magallanes – finally, one might say – and then scored when Joe Vanatti rammed a single through Harenberg. Hawkins singled, putting them on the corners, and Jamieson dropped Yi’s fly for a run-scoring error. Scheffer was now again walked intentionally to load the bases, and Archibugi grounded out to Hereford, stranding another set of three, but the Aces were now up 2-0.

Top 7th, Harenberg hit a gapper to left-center for a leadoff double. Maybe now…? Jamieson walked, putting the tying runs on with no outs. The Coons called for a bunt on Magallanes, which moved the runners into scoring position, and then saw Tovias strike out and Rodriguez fly out harmlessly to Vanatti to strand the precious runners. Vegas shrugged, scored another run off Garavito, this time in the seventh, and while Archibugi looked confident to finish the shutout, the Aces brought right-hander J.D. Hamm to save the game in the ninth. He got Hereford to begin the inning, but Harenberg hit a solo shot to right. Jamieson struck out in a full count. Nunley batted for Magallanes and grounded out to Yi. 3-1 Aces. Harenberg 2-4, HR, 2B, RBI; Martinez 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, L (0-1);

Woe us – last place. Okay, the Loggers are in first, so maybe take all this with three grains of salt.

Can anybody here swing a bat? Do we have to put Mark Roberts into the outfield or something??

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Pizzo – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – CF Mora – P Gutierrez
LVA: RF Lynch – LF Dunlap – 1B Ra. Tello – SS Yi – 3B Hawkins – 2B Donahue – C Scheffer – CF Hatley – P A. Ortiz

Desperation took over in the FIRST inning. Ramos hit an infield single, Hereford walked, both were sent to steal and succeeded – Scheffer didn’t have the best of arms. Then they were stranded; Harenberg flew out to shallow left, and Pizzo flew all the way to the shortstop. In contrast, Rico Gutierrez got whooped for four hits in the bottom of the inning, including three hits by the 1-2-3 in the order. Lynch single, Dunlap single, Tello RBI double. Another run scored on a Tom Hawkins single, but Donahue hit to Nunley for an inning-ending double play. Rico hit a sac fly in the second, finding Jamieson and Nunley on the corners after a pair of singles, but he gave up that run again right away on back-to-back leadoff doubles by Scheffer and Hatley in the bottom 2nd. That made it 3-1, and the Aces might have gone to 4-1 if not for Ortiz’ terrible bunt on which a tone-deaf Hatley nevertheless tried to reach third base and was thrown out by Gutierrez. Top 3rd, the tying runs were in scoring position with no outs; Ortiz lost Stalker on balls to begin the inning, and then Hereford doubled near the rightfield line – and both of those key bats were now humming at a .185 pace. Oh golly! One run scored on a Harenberg groundout, the other on a Pizzo single, and the game was tied at three.

The Aces had one leadoff hit in the bottom 3rd, but hit into a double play, and no leadoff hits in the fourth at all – one better every inning. But something wasn’t right with Rico anyway – he looked terrible, mechanics and all, and somehow he made it through four innings and seven base hits on just 42 pitches. It was coming, weakly, and the Aces were nailing it. The Druid looked at Rico in the dugout, poked his arm, which felt dead, and he was not seen again when the fifth inning came around… Stonecipher replaced him and pitched one inning and got in line for a W when Abel Mora singled home Jamieson and his 1-out triple in the top 6th. It was only 4-3 though, and the Coons were trying to blow it for sure. Hawkins doubled off Surginer in the bottom 6th, then reached third base with one out when Nunley’s grip on a Donahue grounder slipped. Scheffer, now allowed to bat for once, hit into a double play to blow the chance, though. The Coons scratched out an earned, but undeserved run in the seventh; Ramos got on to begin the inning, advanced only on a wild pitch, then scored on a Harenberg single with two outs, 5-3. Like glue, the offense, like glue!

Then add the wonky pitching to that. Surginer allowed a homer to PH Jake Williams in his second inning of work, put Dunlap on, too, and with two outs and Ruben Orozco pinch-hitting, Brotman came on to face – and nail! – the left-handed batter. That was two on, two out, and Brotman had to face the righty Yi, because we were already out of arms and no off day on Thursday, either. Yi struck out, dropping to .111 for the year. The Coons stranded a pair in the eighth, struck out 1-2-3 against Pete Molina in the ninth, but at least Ricky Ohl got the 5-4 lead to Boles, who would start the bottom 9th facing Hatley, who he struck out in a full count. Rodrigo Alvarado and Kevin Lynch both grounded out to short to allow the Critters to escape town with one win in their bags. 5-4 Raccoons. Jamieson 2-4, 3B; Nunley 2-4; Mora 2-4, RBI;

Raccoons (4-4) @ Canadiens (5-3) – April 11-14, 2030

Ugh, that place. The team went to stinking Elktown, where they were tied for third in runs scored and tied for second in runs allowed. That didn’t sound like the Raccoons AT ALL. We were in fact last in runs scored, which was not exactly how I had imagined it in my head even early on… We had lost the season series last year, 8-10, which was still nagging on me. But then again, losing the 1977 season series against them, 7-11, was also still nagging on me.

Projected matchups:
Jose Menendez (1-0, 4.05 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Mark Roberts (0-0, 5.56 ERA) vs. Victor Govea (0-1, 4.63 ERA)
Tom Shumway (0-1, 9.31 ERA) vs. Jeremy Truett (0-1, 11.25 ERA)
Dave Martinez (0-1, 1.50 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (1-0, 0.87 ERA)

All righties; the lone exception on their staff, Chris Sinkhorn (1-0, 3.86 ERA) would not go again until Monday.

I will of course have to watch from Portland again. Maud made the crew that doesn’t travel, Chad, and Slappy, and Cristiano, and Steve from Accounting, watch the games as a group experience in the office. I was told that my attendance was mandatory and excuses would not be accepted.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – C Tovias – CF Mora – 2B Baldwin – P Menendez
VAN: CF Tessmann – SS Bennett – RF Wojnarowski – LF A. Torres – 3B Anton – 1B N. Day – C R. Ortíz – 2B Al. Medina – P Cervantes

The bases got loaded in the first inning for the Critters, with Ramos leading off with a single and reaching second more or less right away on an errant pickoff attempt. He made it to third when Nunley flew out to Danny Tessmann, and then the Elks nicked Hereford and walked Harenberg to stash them for Jamieson, whose .308 clip was second to Nunley (.320) in batting on the team, and behind those two it was pretty grim… And Jamieson hit into a double play. There would be runners aplenty in the early innings, none of whom scored. The Coons stranded six, the Elks five through just three innings. Top 4th, the bases filled up again with Mora and Baldwin hitting singles with one out, a foul pop out by Menendez, and then Ramos drew four balls from Cervantes. That brought up Nunley, now at .308, who ran a full count before cracking the sixth pitch in play, a fast bouncer past Alarico Medina for a 2-run single, the first markers on the scoreboard. The next two pitchs yielded another three runs for the Critters: Rich Hereford hit an RBI double to right on the first pitch, and Harenberg dropped a 2-run single into left-center, also on the first pitch, to explode the tally to 5-0, all runs scoring in the span of three pitches. Jamieson popped out to short to end the inning, and Menendez threw up a crucial zero in the bottom of the inning to keep the Elks distant for now.

Menendez retired seven in a row in those middle innings, a string that only ended on a Ramos error that allowed Matt Anton on base, but Norman Day’s fielder’s choice grounder and an easy grounder to Baldwin off Ricky Ortíz’ bat ended the sixth inning anyway. Matt Nunley added additional length with a solo homer in the top 6th, then drove in another one with a sac fly in the eighth when Baldwin and Ramos were on the corners. The Elks didn’t dent Menendez until Brian Wojnarowski hit a jack in the bottom 8th. The veteran didn’t retire another batter, leaving after singles by Alex Torres and Matt Anton. Garavito got out of the jam without shedding his own blood for once, and while Stonecipher walked a bushel in the bottom 9th, the Elks couldn’t score on him, either. 7-1 Raccoons. Ramos 2-4, BB; Nunley 2-4, HR, 4 RBI; Tovias 2-5; Baldwin 3-4; Menendez 7.1 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, W (2-0);

There was a first roster move on Friday, with Rico Gutierrez going to the DL with chronic back soreness. These things are sometimes transient, and sometimes cripple you for life. Isn’t that right, Cristiano? – Cristiano? – Why the glare?

With Rico shuffled off to the DL, the Coons checked the calendar. Rico’s next regular turn would have been Monday, but Monday was off, so we did not need another starter until Saturday next week. No reason to call one up now, then. We brought up outfielder Ryan Allan instead, and would select a pitcher only if the bullpen situation would demand it.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – C Pizzo – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – RF Gomez – P Roberts
VAN: CF Tessmann – 2B Al. Medina – RF Wojnarowski – LF A. Torres – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – 1B Good – C F. Garcia – P Govea

Mark Roberts singled his first time up with one down in the third inning, putting him at an unlikely 5-for-5 this season with the stick. Never mind all the deep flies he was serving up… Ramos got him forced out with a grounder, then stole second, getting to his own sort of 5-for-5 this season. Matt Nunley then took control of the team power board with another homer to right, putting the Coons up 2-0. Right after that – a half hour of rain delay! On the pitching front, Mark Roberts didn’t net a K until he rung up Alex Torres hacking… in the fourth inning. Disbelief set in when Roberts opened the top 5th with a double over Tessmann’s head. With nobody out(!), the Elks walked Ramos intentionally, hoping for two from Nunley. Matt popped out instead, and the other Matt – Jamieson – gave them two in 1-6-3 fashion…

Following four solid innings and then running the bases for an entire top of the fifth to no greater advantage, Roberts was outta whack in the bottom 5th, walked two, and allowed a run on Matt Good’s double in between. Worse, the Elks loaded the bags with straight singles and nobody out in the bottom 6th, then tied the game on Anton’s sac fly to left. Torres moved up to third on the play, then scored on Matt Good’s sac fly that put the Elks ahead, 3-2. They broke it open right away when Fernando Garcia bombed Roberts to left, that made it 5-2, and why the heck was everything going wrong all the ****ing time?

The seventh brought more rain, a Mora single, Gomez groundout, an then a Wilson Rodriguez RBI single in place of Roberts and against lefty Jesus Chinchilla. Then, finally, a long-awaited second rain delay, this one lasting about 45 minutes. On the other end of that, Ramos and Nunley stranded Rodriguez at third following a stolen base and a wild pitch, both flying out to Torres in shallow left. And that was not the last chance to blow – the tying run was back at the plate in the ninth, then after Abel Mora hit a 1-out single off righty Raul de la Rosa. Unfortunately that brought up the .083 bat of Rafael Gomez. Allan was sent to bat as a counter, singled to center, and next was Tovias, who had come into the #9 hole earlier when Hereford had batted for Pizzo in the eighth with no great result at all. Tovias popped out on 2-1, but Ramos worked a walk that loaded the sacks for the Bringer of Death, Matt Nunley. And he cracked a single to left! Through the hole on the let side, Mora in to score, Allan being waved around, the throw from Alex Torres right to Garcia aaaand he got him… 5-4 Canadiens. Nunley 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Mora 2-3, BB; Allan (PH) 1-1; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Jose Menendez aside no starting pitcher on the staff had a win at this point… maybe the Shumster can get it going?

Maybe we should use some dirty plays. Throw dirt in Truett’s eyes. Either from the field or from whatever has piled up in the corner over there. Isn’t that right, Slappy? – Slappy? – Why the glare?

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – RF Hereford – 2B Stalker – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – P Shumway
VAN: CF Tessmann – 2B Al. Medina – RF Wojnarowski – LF A. Torres – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – 1B Good – C F. Garcia – P Truett

Alex Torres hit his first dinger of the year to begin the bottom 2nd, but the Coons flipped the score in the following half-inning. Truett walked Magallanes and Ramos, they pulled off a double steal and a Garcia throwing error meant that Magallanes came home right away, with Ramos parking up at third until he jogged home on a deep sac fly in leftfield hit by Nunley. But the Nun giveth, and the Nun taketh it away, too – a grim throwing error on T.J. Bennett’s grounder in the bottom 4th was committed by the veteran third-sacker, and it allowed Medina and Wojnarowski to score to flip the tally in the damn Elks’ favor, 3-2. There were probably many people to blame here besides Nunley, like Shumway for leaking two singles to start the inning, Tovias for getting nobody on the damn Elks’ double steal, and then Shumway again for not getting the meager hitter Bennett in an 0-2 count. Somehow, Bennett didn’t score, too in the inning, despite Shumway not showing anything likable up there…

Shumway would last seven innings and allow two more runs. Like the runs before, not all of them were earned. Matt Anton drove in a run in the sixth with a 2-out single – that was earned. Medina singled in Tessmann with two outs in the seventh – that wasn’t. Tessmann reached third base when Tovias threw away the ball on stolen base attempt, which gave the Racocons, 5-2 down after the inning, as many errors as hits, two apiece. The tying run was at the plate in the eighth with Truett still holding out. Mora, batting for Shumway, and Ramos had just hit a pair of 1-out singles, and now Nunley had the chance to do damage. Excruciatingly, both Nunley and Jamieson popped out to second baseman Lazaro Hernandez, stranding more and more and ever more precious runners. The ninth was de la Rosa’s. Harenberg flew out so softly you could lay an infant to sleep on it. Hereford was nailed with a 1-2 pitch, which was certainly one way to get on base if you were batting .158 two weeks into the season. Ryan Allan batted for Stalker (.135!!) and grounded out, as did Tovias. 5-2 Canadiens. Mora (PH) 1-1;

Boys, boys, boys! You are playing so goddamn ugly! Ugly, ugly, ugly! Nobody’s gonna want to kiss that ugly bride! Isn’t that right, Maud? – Maud? – Why the glare?

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – C Pizzo – 2B Baldwin – RF Gomez – P Martinez
VAN: CF Tessmann – 1B N. Day – LF A. Torres – RF Wojnarowski – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – C F. Garcia – 2B L. Hernandez – P J. Martin

The first run of the game was the Coons’ and in ugly fashion. Portland got nobody on base until Baldwin got nailed to lead off the third. Baldwin reached second on a wide pickoff throw, then was singled home with two outs by Ramos. That was the Coons’ only base hit early on, with the Elks managing two off Martinez, but nothing that put up a threat. Martinez continued to confound his own management, pitching softly, and having almost everything put in play. He threw all of 37 pitches through four innings. Of course, the moment we all nodded in unison in the office, things went rapidly south. Baldwin was stranded at third after a leadoff single in the top 5th, and the bottom 5th produced two outs before Lazaro Hernandez doubled to right. Oh well, just the pitcher coming u- ah, that ****er hit a single to right, and Hernandez scored all the way, tying the game at one. Tessmann hit another single, but Nunley handled Norman Day’s grounder to end the inning.

Matt Nunley led off the sixth with a double, and if you suckers don’t score him you don’t even have to fly back home!! … Nunley did score in the least impressive way possible that did not involve wild pitches and errors, a pair of sac flies, sandwiching an intentional walk to Harenberg. Hereford got the go-ahead RBI, and Pizzo doubled to right, but even with two outs Harenberg wasn’t gonna score. Baldwin grounded out to strand those runs. On to the seventh, where both teams got a leadoff single. The Coons simply stranded Rafael Gomez, batting all of .133 now, while Anton got wrapped up on a Garcia grounder to short, 6-4-3 style. Hereford hit a double in the eighth and was stranded all the same.

The Coons divested themselves of Baldwin after seven innings and 72 pitches. Matt Good would open the bottom 8th hitting in the #9 hole and that made for three straight left-handed bats. Here came Garavito, ran two 3-ball counts, but put nobody on base as he put the 9-1-2 batters away in order. There was a chance for a tack-on in the top 9th. Jamieson hit a single in Garavito’s place with one out. Ramos flew out to Tessmann, but Nunley drew a walk off Eric Davidson, a nondescript righty. That brought up Mora, who hit a liner to the left side. Bennett leapt, missed it, and Jamieson had gotten a good start from second base and was waved around. This time, Torres didn’t get the guy at home, and the Coons did get the insurance run. Harenberg than hit a hard liner to left, but right at Torres. Valiant effort, nothing to show for. So, bring on Boles for the middle of the order! Torres whiffed. Wojnarowski grounded out to Baldwin at 2-2. Bennett singled over Baldwin. Oh, not this **** again. Nope, Ramos wouldn’t let him. Anton grounded hard to the left side, but Ramos pounced like a cat and flung the ball to first base in a bang-bang play, but in time, securing a split at last. 3-1 Raccoons. Jamieson (PH) 1-1; Martinez 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, W (1-1);

Yes! That was a performance that lifted up the spirits! I would wish we could get to see something exciting that gets you pumped more often. Isn’t that right Chad? – Chad? – Why the… y’know, the mascot always looks the same, I can’t see you’re glaring, I gotta assume it. – You could be more expressive.

(Maud and Steve from Accounting try to keep Chad off the GM’s neck)

In other news

April 12 – CHA SP Juan Muniz (0-0, 13.50 ERA) will miss four months to have bone spurs removed from his elbow.

Complaints and stuff

Worst in offense! In many categories actually. I don’t quite know… this is depressing.

Well, we are 6-6, which is not horrendous, but … I don’t feel – Does anybody feel magic right now? I don’t. Shutouts and 3-run homers spark magic. Grinding out 3-1 wins by hand-turning the millstones out of the opening scene of Conan isn’t. It’s laborious. I thought we were all magic, boys!

We expect Rico back in early May. Maybe then he’ll stick around a while longer…

Fun Fact: Mark Roberts, who is 6-for-6 at the plate this year, has more offensive WAR (0.3) than all but two Raccoons position players this season.

That would be Nunley (0.6) and Ramos (0.3 as well). Roberts’ pitching meanwhile leaves him at an aggregate WAR of zilch.
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Old 04-28-2019, 09:34 AM   #2827
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Raccoons (6-6) vs. Loggers (6-6) – April 16-18, 2030

Being level with the Loggers in the standings was something you needed to find remedy for quickly. How about beating the Loggers conclusively on this homestand? A 3-game sweep against the team ranked eighth in runs scored but tied for second in runs allowed would be right up this GM’s alley. They somehow had come up with the best rotation, which puzzled me, but like anything else, including Tim Stalker batting negative eleven the go-to explanation was probably that it was early. Does someone have a trademark on that? Maud? Anybody? As every Coon fan knew, the Loggers had not won the season series against the Portlanders since 2013, and we had taken 11 games from them in 2029… but none in the last set with them in September, which knocked the Coons out of the playoff race then.

Projected matchups:
Jose Menendez (2-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (1-0, 2.02 ERA)
Mark Roberts (0-1, 6.23 ERA) vs. Josh Long (0-0, 2.81 ERA)
Tom Shumway (0-2, 6.48 ERA) vs. Joe West (1-2, 2.42 ERA)

All righties here. Why are their ERA’s so low??

Game 1
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – LF Cambra – RF Stephenson – C J. Young – 1B W. Aquino – 2B Sessoms – SS Lockert – CF Creech – P Shepherd
POR: SS Ramos – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – RF Hereford – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – 2B Stalker – P Menendez

Menendez gave up two walks with two outs in the first, then three singles mostly with two outs in the second. That included a 2-out RBI single by the opposing pitcher, plating Matt Lockert who had singled and stolen second base, for the first blip on the scoreboard. While the veteran Menendez put multiple men on base in each of the first few innings, the Critters at least managed to temporarily tie the score in the bottom 3rd … with an unearned run. The suffocating offense had left Ramos on base in the first after he had drawn a leadoff walk. Alberto singled with one out in the bottom 3rd, reached second on Josh Stephenson’s fielding error on the same play, then came home via Matt Nunley’s 2-out single into centerfield. Harenberg then grounded out to Aaron Sessoms. Milwaukee came right back at Menendez in the fourth; Gabe Creech hit a 1-out single, stole second, made to third on another Shepherd single (…), and then scored when Vinny Diaz flew out to leftfield and deep enough for a sac fly. The Loggers scored two more runs in the top 5th when Aaron Sessoms hit a 1-out double following singles by Jim Young and Wilson Aquino. Menendez wasn’t fooling anybody and it showed on the scoreboard, where the Loggers through five had nine hits and four runs, while the Coons had two miserable hits – same as every other day. They just kept sucking. Tim Stalker led off the bottom 5th with a double, Ryan Allan walked in Menendez’ spot, and then Ramos flew out and Mora hit into a double play…

The Loggers continued to put on multiple runners in every inning. Billy Brotman loaded them up in the sixth with two 4-pitch walks and a 2-out single by Young, then was yanked for Surginer, who got Wilson Aquino to line out to Ramos to strand all three runners. The Coons also loaded them up in the bottom 6th; Harenberg dropped a blooper for the team’s third base hit (whee!), and after Mike Hodge took over for Shepherd, who was removed after 5.2 innings, the righty reliever walked the bags full against Jamieson and Pizzo. There was no time right now to find out whether Tim Stalker was done defrosting. Tovias batted for him. He flew out to Firmino Cambra in left. A stinking crap game saw the score balloon in the eighth with Stephenson’s 2-run homer off Stonecipher, putting the Loggers up 6-1. The final score would be much closer, and didn’t accurately convey the absolute dredge this game had been up through the middle of the ninth, but the Raccoons hosed Jonathan Hose for three runs in the final inning. Mike Pizzo drew a walk, Wilson Rodriguez singled, and with two outs Rafael Gomez hit for the pitcher in the #2 slot and hit a gapper for a 2-run triple. Nunley doubled him home, but when Harenberg came up as the tying run he flew out gingerly to Stephenson to end the ballgame. 6-4 Loggers. Ramos 2-4, BB; Gomez (PH) 1-1, 3B, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Stalker 1-2, 2B; Rodriguez 1-1; Surginer 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

Kevin Surginer needed nine pitches for four outs, a refreshing respite from the rest of the crew. He also pitched the ONLY offensive Loggers inning in the game where they did not put multiple runners on base, a clean 1-2-3 seventh.

Last place.

Very depressing.

Game 2
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – LF Cambra – RF Stephenson – C J. Young – SS W. Morris – 1B W. Aquino – CF Creech – 2B Rauser – P Long
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – RF Hereford – 2B Stalker – CF Magallanes – P Roberts

The Coons scratched out a first-inning run, and “scratch” was perhaps giving them too much credit. Nunley and Harenberg hit singles, putting Matt on third with Tovias at the plate. Before Tovias could do something stupid like popping out, Josh Long threw a wild pitch to cash Nunley. And then Tovias popped out. The Loggers answered with three against Roberts, who could not get anybody to strike out, nor hit a simple grounder. Everything was hard, everything was depressing. Aquino hit a single in the top 2nd, Creech hit a homer to dead center, and another run scored on a Jason Rauser single, Vinny Diaz getting nailed, and then Cambra’s RBI single. Bottom 2nd, the Coons opened with Hereford and Stalker singles. The latter was forced out on a Magallanes grounder to Wayne Morris, but runners were on the corners for “Rakin’” Roberts, who came to the plate 6-for-6 on the year and remained as much with a sac fly to left. At this point it was 3-2 Loggers, and a guy on first with two outs. Hopefully as a sign for things to improve the Coons went to town on Josh Long with two down. Ramos beat the range of Cambra for an RBI double, driving home Magallanes from first base, then scored on a Nunley single to center to give Portland the lead. Matt Jamieson then hit a blast over Creech and the centerfield fence, just like Creech had done in the top of the inning. Harenberg popped out over home plate, and that left it at 6-3 through only two very long innings.

Vinny Diaz hit a 2-out solo homer in the fourth, at which point Roberts still had not struck out anybody. The Loggers cobbled another run together in the fifth on a walk to Young, a Morris double, then an Aquino sac fly. And still no K for Roberts, who had led the league in K’s the previous season and several times in his career. Bottom 5th, right-hander Julio Palomo walked the bags full against a bushel of .220 (or worse) hitters, which brought up Tim Stalker with one out. Stalker was trying to rally from the .130s and was at .195 right now. This was not a spot to pinch-hit with the catcher, since we were actually still ahead, 6-5, and maybe Stalker was finding out of it, 3-for-4 in this series. He got to 4-5 with a clean RBI single to right, only good for one run with Tovias at third base. Juan Magallanes broke it open then, both the score and Palomo himself, with a bases-clearing triple in the right-center gap, running the tally to 10-5. Roberts would have been hit for in a closer score here, but with the 5-run lead was allowed to bat. Hoping for a few more outs from him also had to do with bullpen conservation… He hit a run-scoring groundout off new pitcher Travis Feider, giving the Coons their second 5-spot in the game and an 11-5 lead.

The clown show continued. Roberts opened the sixth with a 1-2 count on Rauser, then nailed him. The Loggers retained Feider to bunt, which he tried to do all the way until he had struck out – the first K for Roberts…! Diaz grounded out, Cambra lifted an easy fly to Hereford, and then we called it a day on Roberts after six terrible innings, somehow in line for a W. Even with 11 runs on the board for Portland, everybody from #3 through #8 in the Coons’ lineup was still batting .225 or worse. Starting with Jonathan Fleischer, the Coons pen kept the Loggers from scoring any more runs, while Rich Hereford would drive in two more runs off Feider in the eighth inning to put this one into rout territory. 13-5 Raccoons. Nunley 3-5, RBI; Jamieson 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Hereford 2-3, 2 BB, 2 RBI; Stalker 4-4, BB, RBI; Fleischer 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

This was the first W for any of our big three starting pitchers, Roberts, Shumway, and Gutierrez (right now on the DL). Only took us 14 games to get there…

Now, next goal – a DECENT start. Say, Shumway, how about seven innings and two runs here? Maybe whiff a few. How ‘bout that?

Game 3
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – LF Cambra – RF Stephenson – C J. Young – SS W. Morris – 1B W. Aquino – CF Creech – 2B Sessoms – P J. West
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – C Tovias – CF Mora – RF Gomez – P Shumway

Shumway struck out Joe West to end the second inning with Creech on second base, so at least there was some progress over anything else this rotation was doing. He also struck out Aquino to end the third, but that was after a walk and two singles had allowed the Loggers to take a 1-0 lead, Morris singling in the game’s maiden run. While the Coons’ offense, one day after running up 13 on the Loggers, was nothing to write home about once more, Shumway struck out the side in the fourth, and then at least saw the Coons tie it up in the fourth when Joe West walked Harenberg, allowed a double to Hereford, and with one out Tovias at least managed to hit a grounder to the right side to allow Harenberg across, but Hereford was stranded at third base. Bottom 5th, Gomez flew out to deep right before West inexplicably walked the Shumster on four pitches. Ramos hit a liner to left that could have been a double with the bases ahead of him clear, but there was no way Shumway could make for third base on that sort of play, so the Coons had to settle for first and second with one out and Tim Stalker coming up, 5-for-7 in the series. He struck out on a splitter that almost broke his feet, while Nunley popped out to short.

103 pitches got Shumway through seven innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball, which was mui excellente as far as this GM was concerned. The problem was that the game was still tied 1-1 at the stretch, and Shumway would not be back with that pitch count, and with the bottom of the order up, he would also be hit for. Tom lucked out here, though, because Joe West hung a breaking pitch to Abel Mora that got pounded over the fence in right for a leadoff jack, and that sure enough broke the tie and put Shumway in line for the W. Allan would draw a walk in Shumway’s spot, but remained on base. However, the Coons could hand the 2-1 edge to their well-rested sterling end of the pen. Neither Ohl nor Boles had been involved in the first two games. Ricky allowed a 1-out single to Josh Stephenson, but then got a double play grounder from Jim Young, the catcher that ran like a catcher, to get out of the eighth. Bottom 8th, Nunley smacked a leadoff double off West, with Harenberg then walked intentionally, and y’know, Hereford was batting .196 but that was a gutsy play. He hit into a fielder’s choice, moving the insurance run to third base. At this point, Baldwin ran for Nunley to give us a chance on a medium-depth fly against the well-armed outfielders. Tovias ran a full count and walked, bringing up Mora, who brought in another run with a groundout. Better than nothing! Jamieson batted for Gomez, but grounded out, setting Boles to defend a 3-1 lead. Morris, Aquino, and Creech went down in order on three more or less cozy flies. 3-1 Coons. Harenberg 0-1, 3 BB; Mora 1-4, HR, 2 RBI; Shumway 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (1-2) and 0-0, BB;

You know what… I will take that series win for now. Another horrendous team is coming right in. Let’s get another two at least.

Raccoons (8-7) vs. Falcons (5-10) – April 19-21, 2030

The Falcons had been atrocious for most of this decade. After winning the division in 2022 with a 91-71 season they had gone straight into the gutter and had lost 90+ every season since except for 2024 when they lost only 89. They had finished last in the South three years in a row and never higher than fifth since that division title eight years ago. Early signs did point at more muck in store for them this season, with a team that was in the bottom three in both runs scored and runs allowed. Their run differential was already -26, which was almost two runs per game. Their rotation was the outright worst in the league. Amazingly, the crummy Falcons had beaten the Coons in the season series, 5-4, in both of the last two seasons. Time to set that record straight!

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (1-1, 1.38 ERA) vs. Alex Lewis (0-2, 6.48 ERA)
Trevor Draper (0-0) vs. Ed Hague (0-2, 5.40 ERA)
Jose Menendez (2-1, 3.79 ERA) vs. Chris Rountree (1-2, 5.60 ERA)

Lefty on Sunday. The Coons would bring up Draper for a spot start. He was not yet on the roster, but would be exchanged for Ryan Allan on Saturday. Allan was 1-for-2 with two walks at this point, while Draper last year had posted a superficially decent 4.24 ERA with a 4-2 record in 11 games (10 starts) for the Coons, but had also walked 37 batters in 57.1 innings…

Game 1
CHA: SS Wagner – C Cooper – LF Salto – RF Kok – 3B G. Ortíz – 1B J. Elliott – CF Adkins – 2B Cano – P Lewis
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – C Pizzo – RF Rodriguez – P Martinez

Ramos led off with a single in the bottom 1st, was forced out by Stalker, and Harenberg hit into another force at second after a Nunley single brought him up with runners on the corners. Jamieson also grounded out. The Coons had them back on the corners in the bottom 2nd after a Mora walk, stolen base and throwing error by Matt Cooper that sent him to third, then an infield single near the third base line chucked by Mike Pizzo. Wilson Rodriguez gave the home team the lead with a sac fly, but that was all they would get in the inning. That 1-0 tally remained static for a long time; the Coons weren’t getting the bats to Lewis, and Martinez did his usual mystification on the mound, throwing gently and nowhere in particular and generating an endless parade of soft balls in play. The Falcons had two soft 2-out singles by Graciano Salto and Barend Kok in the first, then did not get back on base until Travis Adkins legged out an infield single in the fifth – and then was caught stealing. The Raccoons had the odd runner here and there, hit into two double plays, and never got a ball to fall in with a guy in scoring position. They got more chances for that only in the bottom 7th. Lewis brushed Pizzo’s shirt with a 1-2 pitch, putting the leadoff man on base in a 1-0 games. Rodriguez singled up the middle, and the Coons got Martinez to bunt the runners into scoring position. Ramos was walked intentionally to load them up for Stalker, who had tortured the Loggers, but was 0-for-3 in this one, struck out, and Nunley’s fly to left was not enough to beat Salto, ending the inning with three left stranded. Martinez remained in the game(!) and breezed through the eighth with two soft comebackers and a K to Ricky Cano. Bottom 8th, Jamieson legged out an infield single with one out, Mora dropped a soft one in front of Adkins, and there were two on once more against Aaron Lewis. Pizzo was batting all of .212 but remained in there, popped out to shortstop Curt Wagner, and that brought up Rodriguez, who had the lone RBI, and was hitting twice as much as Rich Hereford, so why hit for him. Hereford could hit for Martinez if we’d let him. Wilson grounded out to Greg Ortíz, and that was that. Boles took over in the ninth and ended the game with a K on PH Tony Perez and two grounders. 1-0 Critters! Ramos 1-2, 2 BB; Mora 2-3, BB; Martinez 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, W (2-1);

Ah, any old win will do here. This puts the Coons at 9-7, and for the first time this year more than one game away from the .500 mark. I declare this to be progress.

Game 2
CHA: CF N. Nelson – C Cooper – LF Salto – RF Kok – 3B G. Ortíz – 1B J. Elliott – SS Wagner – 2B Folk – P Hague
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – 1B Harenberg – 2B Hereford – CF Mora – C Pizzo – RF Rodriguez – P Draper

In terms of things we didn’t really need with a heart of the lineup fighting off (or to get to) the .200 mark, Rich Hereford hit a triple in the bottom 2nd, and was tagged out by Greg Ortíz as he stepped off to shake dirt out of his belt. Ortíz had faked to throw the ball around the infield, Wagner had played along, and Hereford had been faked by the motions and had stepped off when Ortiz still held the hidden ball. Oh boy. At least the triple got him over .200 for the time being….. For the time being the game was also scoreless, but that changed in the fourth inning when the Falcons lit up Trevor Draper like a ****ing Christmas tree. Barend Kok reached base with an infield single, and from there they would get a slew of run-scoring doubles. Ortíz doubled to right to make it 1-0 after Kok stole second base, John Elliott flew out, but Wagner worked a walk with two down. Brody Folk, the disgusting ex-Elk, hit an RBI double down the leftfield line, and – depressingly – Ed Hague then hit a 2-run double in the same direction. Nate Nelson followed up with a single, Jamieson’s throwing error on the play allowed Hague to score, 5-0, and the inning only ended when Cooper lined out right into Hereford’s mitten. Draper was yanked after 4.1 innings and two more hits surrendered in the fifth. Jonathan Fleischer worked out of the inning, but the Coons looked dead in the water with Hague on a 1-hitter. The Critters had leadoff runners on in the fourth (Ramos walk) and fifth (Harenberg single) and hit into double plays both times. The latter instance actually erased Hereford, who had drawn a walk before Mora hit into a 6-4-3. Mike Pizzo fell to 0-2 before launching a jack to right, cutting the gap to 5-2 temporarily, but Hague got quick revenge, hit a leadoff double off Fleischer in the sixth and was maneuvered around to score a tack-on run. Harenberg hit a solo jack in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough, was it? The Coons had nothing in the eighth, and when they got a man on in the ninth it was Tim Stalker reaching on a Greg Ortíz error. Closer Cruz Sierra buckled down, got Harenberg on a grounder, then rung up Hereford to end the game. 6-3 Falcons. Harenberg 2-4, HR, RBI; Stonecipher 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

Needless to say, Draper was sent back to AAA right after this game. We exchanged him for utility man Sean Catella off to a .300 start in AAA. He was 25 by now, and had also had a cup of coffee last season. The 2023 fourth-rounder had batted 2-for-14 with a triple. He was also a switch-hitter and went right into the lineup against the southpaw.

Oh, and somebody let Nick Valdes in and he immediately went to water all the plants around the place.

Game 3
CHA: CF N. Nelson – SS Wagner – LF Salto – RF Kok – 3B G. Ortíz – 1B J. Elliott – C T. Perez – 2B Cano – P Rountree
POR: 2B Baldwin – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Jamieson – RF Rodriguez – CF Catella – C Toviais – 1B Gomez – P Menendez

Despite Matt Jamieson’s .226 clip ranking third among all players in this lineup (and first among qualifying players…), we did not consider this our surrender lineup. Any lineup we put out was readily surrendering to whatever crappy pitchers teams were carting up in a litter, poured him onto the mound, and then the dark magic began. With a few zeroes on the wall, Jamieson drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 2nd, then moved up to second base on Rodriguez’ single into shallow center. The Coons extinguished with a Catella fly to Kok, Tovias whiffing out, and Gomez rolling over to Ortíz. Menendez opened the third with a grounder, but then Baldwin and Stalker hit two soft singles to occupy the first two bases again in front of .196 menace Rich Hereford. Both him and Jamison struck out against Rountree, who game in with 17.2 innings pitched, 12 walks, and only four strikeouts. Menendez allowed no base hits in the first three innings, but when Curt Wagner opened the fourth with a single to right, everything collapsed at once. Salto singled, Kok singled. Three on, no outs. The baseball gods then gigglingly dangled hope when Ortíz and Elliott both popped out behind home plate. Then .118 batter Tony Perez shot a single through into left-center for two runs, Ricky Cano chipped in an RBI single, and only the pitcher made the final out in what was now a 3-0 game. Nick Valdes asked me when the Raccoons would start winning. I went straight to the liquor cabinet.

The Coons got a run in the bottom of the inning that Rodriguez and Catella opened with hits, but they never progressed past a Tovias sac fly on the scoreboard. Gomez reached with a single, but Baldwin struck out after Menendez bunted over the runners. While Old Man Jose clawed and scratched to keep the Falcons close, and in fact would last seven innings without allowing a base hit other than in the devious fourth, the Raccoons stranded Stalker after a leadoff double in the fifth, and then hit Ramos for Menendez to begin the bottom 7th. Alberto grounded out as he descended into an unwelcome slump before Baldwin singled and Stalker doubled juuuust over the glove of Salto in leftfield, setting up the tying runs in scoring position with one out for Rich Hereford, who saw one run across on a wild pitch that almost took out his legs, then struck out. Jamieson grounded out to Cano. Everybody ****ING SUCKED.

Ohl got rid of the top of the order on nine pitches in the following eighth inning, and it was still only a 3-2 game, but it felt like 11-2. We weren’t going to bring the left-handed bats on the bench, either, as long as Rountree was in the game, but if Rodriguez could snatch another base hit, maybe… On command, Wilson doubled to left, but the Falcons stuck to Rountree, the third shackled pitcher to completely confound the Coons in this set. Catella grounded out, moving Rodriguez to third base, and then Tovias was down 1-2 before poking a ball through between Ortíz and Wagner for a game-tying single. Gomez singled in another 1-2 count, and that finally knocked out Rountree and brought on righty Adam Howell with two on and one out. However – Ramos had stayed in the game batting ninth after leading off the last inning in place of Menendez, so no pinch-hitter here, either, although Magallanes ran for Tovias as the go-ahead run at second base. Ramos slashed a 2-2 pitch through the right side for a single, but it was hit so hard that Kok got it on one bounce and was ready to knock the daylights out of Magallanes at home plate, so the runners were parked up in a three on, one out spot. Baldwin, though 2-for-4, was not going to get the at-bat. The Coons could pick between several left-handed double play options and selected the red-hot Nunley. The count ran full, Nunley spanked the 3-2 up the middle, right into the glove of Wagner, who tapped second and beat Nunley by about 69 feet. Nobody was more mad than Matt about the double play – he refused a piece of cake upon return to the dugout, citing no hunger for the first time in 11 years.

Boles retired the Falcons in order in the top 9th, which brought the Coons back against Howell with a chance to walk off. Stalker led off with a floating single, at which point we retained Boles in the #3 slot to bunt and he got the winning run to second base. Harenberg batted for Jamieson, was walked intentionally, and Rodriguez grounded to Ortíz for a fielder’s choice that sent Harenberg right back to the dugout after not a whole lot at all. The Coons *could* hit Mora for Catella now, but we were out of bench players otherwise, and the #3 spot could be back up in a RISP spot in the 10th. Catella had been batting .300 in AAA. Valdes ticked me off by whispering into my ear that they needed a hit here. Mora did not pinch-hit; Catella flew out to Brody Folk in left on the first pitch, and the Critters went into extra innings for the first time this year. Top 10th, Michael Hobbs hit a 2-out single off Surginer, but that was all for Charlotte. The Coons had Gomez on with a 1-out walk against Cruz Sierra, at least until Ramos lined into a double play to John Elliott. The 11th was uneventful, and Mora batted for Surginer with two outs, nobody on, and didn’t change the game at all. We had no bench players left, and the Falcons brought up lefty Greg Becker for the bottom 12th after Fleischer had kept them at bay in the top of the inning. Harenberg, Rodriguez, and Catalla made three quick outs, sending the game to the 13th where Fleischer ran into a wall. Cano and Cooper opened with singles, and Wagner walked with one out. Fleischer battled and struck out Folk for the second out with the bags full, but then the Coons moved and sent for Brotman with lefty slugger Barend Kok at the plate. Brotman had him at 1-2, then surrendered an RBI single to right. Ortíz grounded out. The Coons were now ticketed for the loss unless the bottom of the order could could manufacture anything against the lefty Becker. They couldn’t. Three batters. Three pathetic outs. 4-3 Falcons. Baldwin 2-4; Stalker 4-6, 2 2B; Rodriguez 3-6, 2B; Surginer 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

In other news

April 17 – WAS INF Enrique Trevino (.375, 0 HR, 3 RBI) looks like he is going to miss two weeks with a mild oblique strain.
April 20 – BOS C/1B J.J. “Hopalong” Henley (.306, 3 HR, 9 RBI) hits for the cycle in an 8-3 Titans win over the Bayhawks. Henley drives in two runs in the effort. This is the 78th cycle in ABL history and the fifth for the Titans.
April 20 – Cyclones and Pacifics amount to only seven total base hits in a game the Pacifics win in the ninth on a on double by OF/3B Zachary Ryder (.310, 1 HR, 2 RBI), then an intentional and two unintentional walks by Cincy pitchers SP Logan Bessey (1-1, 2.96 ERA), who takes the loss, and MR Andy Hyden (0-2, 5.25 ERA).
April 20 – CIN LF/RF Ken Gibbs (.176, 2 HR, 6 RBI) will miss six weeks with elbow tendinitis.

Complaints and stuff

(sits on the couch with sour expression and a bottle of booze in between a dazing Slappy and fully costumed Chad who is playing with the stuffed elk with the wiggling antlers)

Ugh…!!

We are actually up to eighth in runs but that is mainly due to that one drubbing we hung on the Loggers. The rest of the week was more blech. In the other five games they scored more than three runs only once, and that was the 6-4 loss that started the week, and in THAT game they only scored three in the ninth to make it close at first glance.

There are currently so many issues with the roster that it is tough to list them all. Also, it’s early ™. When Allen Reed was selected off waivers, the Coons gained some budget space, currently about $1.3M that can be used for some help, but we may want to figure out which of our .200-bumping sluggers will eventually recover before throwing money around blindly… And we are actually allowing the fewest runs in the CL. It’s just not helping us due to the pathetic offense.

Back down to four starters after Trevor Draper’s hellacious spot start on Satuday. We have Thursday off, so we don’t need a fifth starter until after the weekend that will start with a double-header against the Indians. Rico Gutierrez is probably not going to be ready to filter back into the rotation on Monday, so we will look for another spot start on or around that weekend.

I wonder where Dave Martinez gets his befuddling way to pitch from these days. He leads all the ABL in ERA. He got blown up in a callup in ’28, then had that nightmare way-way-extra-inning outing against the Stars early in ’29, then came back late last year and already did this stuff where he got endless soft contact into the teeth of the defense. Say, Dave, what is your secret? – No, your secret about pitching. – What do you mean that you want to talk to me about Odilon the Wise, the Guardian Spirit and Guide to the Illuminated Path, and how he can turn my wicked ways around, too? – Why are your eyes changing colors?

Okay, we will figure that one out later.

By the way, Martinez was signed out of Venezuela for $95k in the July 2023 IFA period. He was a #82 prospect once, and he has seven shutouts in minor league play across all levels, but ask any scout at all and most give him no hope for a big career. Maybe a #5 guy on changing teams, or a decent seventh inning reliever. Regardless, after 85 big league innings, he’s 8-4 with a 2.64 ERA, and that includes very much his horrendous cup of coffee in ’28, with seven innings, eight walks, 13 hits, and seven runs. He has already recovered to a 1.16 WHIP, too. Hmmmm…

Say, Dave. About this Adrian guy- … - Fine, Odilon. – Can he fix our other pitchers, too? I don’t mind the eye color thing, I’d be fine with some good results.

(lightning flashes outside in 52 degree weather)

Fun Fact: Other Titans batters to hit for the cycle include Christian Greenman and John Alexander, who would also have stints with the Raccoons at some point.

We appreciated Alexander, then the J-Alex to Dylan Alexander’s D-Alex. We did not appreciate Greenman’s presence on the roster so much… He batted .165 in 36 games for Portland after we had traded for him prior to the 2006 season. The package also included Ryan Miller, then a coveted prospect and not a lot came of that. He was shipped off to Dallas in June, along with “Fat Cat” Amador for a package including Tomas Castro, who was his own sad story entirely, batting .321 in his first full season with the Coons, then also the first winning season for the Coons after the Decade of Darkness in ’07, but injuries ate him up by the time he was 27 and he was out of the major leagues after brief and sad stints with four teams after the Coons let him go after the 2012 season. Castro stole 20+ bases six times in his career. He stole only ten more after the Coons gave up on his broken body.

Unrelated, I always want to type Joe Menendez when Jose Menendez comes up. In around 2008, so well before my baseballing days, I was into painting cars for NASCAR Racing 3 and painted up an entire series’ worth and more of liveries to race several seasons with. Joe Menendez was one of the fictional drivers. #77 7UP Dodge. There were race reports for the series on a small forum, but that died many years ago, and nothing of this remains, except for an excel sheet with stats and the paint schemes, which are stored away on some USB stick or other.

Anyway, bottom line, whenever I type Joe Menendez here and fail to correct it, you now know it’s because I live in the past and there is no helping me.
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Old 04-30-2019, 03:50 PM   #2828
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Raccoons (9-9) vs. Knights (7-11) – April 22-24, 2030

Next so-so team in were the Knights, although in this case so-so meant that they had run up the highest tallies in both runs scored and runs allowed. Both values were pushing six runs per game, so the Raccoons were in for a special treat here. The Critters had also lost the season series in 2029, dropping five of the nine games.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (1-1, 6.56 ERA) vs. Mario Rosas (1-0, 5.14 ERA)
Tom Shumway (1-2, 4.94 ERA) vs. Andy Purdy (0-1, 5.50 ERA)
Dave Martinez (2-1, 0.86 ERA) vs. Enrique Guzman (0-1, 5.04 ERA)

This series would open with a southpaw, and then we’d get two righties in.

Game 1
ATL: C S. Garcia – CF M. Hamilton – SS Showalter – RF Pincus – 2B J. Johnson – LF Curro – 1B B. Lloyd – 3B M. Mendoza – P Rosas
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – RF Rodriguez – C Tovias – 1B Gomez – CF Magallanes – P Roberts

The Coons got the quicker start, with base hits falling out of Mario Rosas against each of the first three batters. Ramos singled to left-center, Tim Stalker hit a liner up the rightfield line and all the way into the corner for an RBI triple, and Nunley cashed that runner with a single for a 2-0 edge. Roberts retired the first six before Bob Lloyd hit a leadoff jack in the third, and overall there were again a lot of wasted pitches by Roberts, and many of those with two strikes. Oh well, at least we still got Sluggin’ Roberts to the plate from time to time. In the fourth inning he broke out of a dire 0-for-3 spell to plate Juan Magallanes, who had doubled to left, with a sharp RBI single up the rightfield line, establishing a 3-1 lead. With one down in the inning, Rosas proceeded to walk Alberto Ramos, who openly kept wondering why Roberts always parked his wide bum in Ramos’ spot – second base. Nothing came of the pair of runners; Stalker grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Nunley flew out to Corey Curro in left. The Raccoons stranded two more in the fifth when Magallanes grounded out to short, then had another thing going in the sixth. Ramos dropped a single behind Mario Mendoza, Nunley and Jamieson coaxed 2-out walks, and the bags were full for Wilson Rodriguez … and to be honest I had more confidence in Wilson than in, say, Harenberg right now, especially against a left-hander. Rodriguez turned out to be Rosas’ final batter, with the pitcher yanked after Rodriguez hit a bases-clearing double in the left-center gap that doubled the Coons’ tally to six. Tovias lined out to end the inning, but the Coons made more from next to nothing in the bottom 7th against right-hander Armando Zaragoza. Abel Mora batted for Magallanes, walked, then stole second with Roberts, who had not allowed a runner since the third inning, at the plate. Roberts ended up rolling over to John Johnson for the second out, with Mora to third base. Ramos was unretired in the game and remained as such, put on intentionally to bring up Stalker, who slogged a single through Mendoza for another run. Nunley grounded out to strand them on the corners. Roberts’ day ended on a 1-out Mendoza single in the eighth on his 103rd pitch and after 14 consecutive outs made by the Knights. Kevin Harenberg and Mike Pizzo would further run up the score with back-to-back pinch-hit homers off Jesse Schiebout in the bottom 8th. 9-1 Coons! Ramos 2-2, 3 BB; Stalker 2-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-5, RBI; Harenberg (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI; Pizzo (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI; Roberts 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, W (2-1) and 1-4, RBI;

Gee, that was fun! I would have hoped Nick Valdes would be around for this one, but instead he only flew in to watch the last two games of the series, now that the Raccoons had slugged all the runs out of their system and needed a week to recharge…

Game 2
ATL: C S. Garcia – CF Houghtaling – SS Showalter – RF Pincus – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Keen – LF M. Hamilton – 3B M. Mendoza – P Purdy
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – C Pizzo – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – P Shumway

By contrast, Tom Shumway got beaten the crap out of him right in the first inning. Jeremy Houghtaling, the disgusting ex-Elk, and Andrew Showalter hit back-to-back doubles for a run, and it looked like John Johnson might add two more, but Jamieson caught his deep fly right at the fence to end the inning. Portland countered with Ramos and Stalker singles, a double steal, Nunley tying the score with a grounder to Johnson, then walks drawn by Pizzo and Hereford to load them up for Harenberg, which was such an obvious plot to generate a double play that I was shocked - *shocked* - when Harenberg actually got the ball past Josh Keen for an RBI single. Jamieson and Mora made the last two outs on soft flies.

Despite Nick Valdes helpfully pointing out at every other pitch that Tom Shumway didn’t look quite right and walked two in the third inning, but nothing came of that. There were positive developments, though; Rich Hereford hit a homer in the bottom 3rd that may have tickled the right foul pole and thus got back to .200, and Harenberg reached .250 with a single after that. The bases filled up with two outs there after a Jamieson single, wild pitch, and intentional walk to Mora, but Shumway got struck out by Purdy to strand all the runners. Shumway struck out two in a clean fourth, then ran nothing but 3-ball counts in the fifth. That netted him two outs, then two walks drawn by Steve Garcia and Houghtaling, and ran his total to 89 offerings. A full count walk to Andrew Showalter loaded the bases, and Nick Valdes kept nagging that he didn’t look quite right. Roy Pincus was up, batting .250 with four homers. Shumway had already been tended to by the pitching coach before the Showalter walk, and the Raccoons pulled the emergency parachute. Kevin Surginer came in right here and got a fly to Jamieson from Pincus, stranding three here, too. By contrast, the Coons added on in the bottom 5th while Shumway sat miffed on the bench. Harenberg narrowly missed a homer and hit a 1-out double after Hereford had opened the inning with a K. Jamieson reached on a Showalter error, bringing up Mora, who hit a BLAST, 400 feet to left-center for a 3-run homer, doubling the tally to 6-1. The same inning then saw Ramos retired on a grounder for the first time in the series…

How about a good scare? The bottom 6th began with Ernesto Lozano, former starter, on the mound for Atlanta. He nailed Matt Nunley flush in the forearm and Nunley threw the bat away and hopped around home plate like a witch on fire, holding his paw in agony. He came out of the game; Hereford moved to third and Gomez entered as pinch-runner, but before long X-rays came back negative. The Coons took revenge their own way. While some bench players snuck into the Knights dugout and stole a big-bag of sunflower seeds, the Raccoons unleashed fiery hell on Knights relievers in the seventh. One guy after another reached, some intentionally (Ramos), and Stalker, Gomez, and Hereford all hit RBI singles. Harenberg came up with the bases loaded and two down facing new righty Eric McKee, who threw only two pitches before the game officially became a real rout. Drive to right, high, deep, and gone …!! GRAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

A homer fell out of Billy Brotman in the top 8th, but so did another one fall out of McKee in the bottom of the inning. Tim Stalker hit one that counted for three runs, while Roy Pincus’ off Brotman had been a solo job. That was the final blow in the game. 16-2 Raccoons!! Ramos 3-4, 2 BB; Stalker 3-6, HR, 4 RBI; Gomez 2-2, RBI; Hereford 3-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Harenberg 4-5, HR, 2B, 5 RBI; Catella (PH) 1-1; Rodriguez (PH) 1-2; Fleischer 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

Yes, Nick, Shumway sucked. – Yeah, totally. – No, I’m not gonna… – No, I won’t address that right now because we scored SIXTEEN and I have to wear my underwear upside down on my head and drink some of the GOOD stuff before they can lose the next one, two-zip!

Matt Nunley had no structural damage, but considerable discomfort from a big bruise. We decided it best to keep him out of the Wednesday game, allowing him two days off before the Indians series.

Game 3
ATL: C S. Garcia – 2B J. Johnson – RF Pincus – CF Houghtaling – SS Showalter – 1B Keen – LF C. Mendoza – 3B M. Mendoza – P E. Guzman
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – P Martinez

Odilon seemed angry with Dave Martinez given the first inning of the Wednesday game, which started with a rock-hard single by Steve Garcia and saw Martinez walk two and concede one run on a Jeremy Houghtaling double before Chris Mendoza popped out to Jamieson with the bases teeming and stranded a full set. Rich Hereford would put that right with a 2-out, 2-run double plating Ramos and Stalker in the bottom of the opening inning, and found Ramos and Stalker on base again in the third. That time he hit an RBI single, while Harenberg found another RBI single in his own bat to score Stalker and get the score to 4-1, all Coons runs having scored with two down. All the while Nick Valdes was whispering in my ear that Martinez didn’t look the same as the last few games and that he wasn’t going to get it done and that we needed to sign real pitchers now.

Regardless of his pitching, which was indeed not nearly as dazzling as prior to this start, Martinez remained wicked. With Gomez on first base in the second inning he bunted into a double play, and the next time around Gomez was on first again after a Steve Garcia error in the bottom 4th. Martinez bunted again and this time the Knights got into each other’s hair and Martinez legged out a bunt single. Loading the bases was a single by Ramos, who was absolutely wrecking the Knights for three straight days and was on base for the third time in the game. That also made for three on and nobody out, and as if on command, Tim Stalker grounded to short. Andrew Showalter might have had a decent bid for Gomez at home plate, but tried to nip a pair with Ramos at the front… and threw the ball over John Johnson’s head for a run-scoring error. Stalker got the RBI, hinting at the scorer’s opinion about the Knights’ double play chances. Another run scored, 6-1, on a Jamieson groundout, and Pizzo’s RBI single ended Guzman’s day in the sun. Ernesto Lozano surrendered an infield single to Hereford that loaded the bases again for Harenberg, and it was just too comical how the Knights kept falling apart with Harenberg’s double past Houghtaling bringing in two more runs. Mora’s RBI single made it 10-1, and the inning only ended when Gomez hit into a double play, this time an actual one and not one somebody imagined. The 6-spot in the fourth were the final runs in the game; the Knights were dead on the ground, having encountered the wonders of niter and musket balls that had ripped holes all over their steel plate armors. The Coons brought in some reserves after the sixth inning to try to duck away from potential injuries. Martinez lasted seven innings, and Stonecipher and Brotman finished the deal after him. 10-1 Raccoons. Ramos 3-3, BB; Jamieson 2-5, 2B, RBI; Pizzo 2-5, RBI; Hereford 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Harenberg 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Baldwin (PH) 1-1; Martinez 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (3-1) and 1-3;

Now the boys just must not get cold over the day off …!

Raccoons (12-9) vs. Indians (8-12) – April 26-28, 2030

The Indians were in for four and were a little bit in trouble. Through 20 games they had only managed to score 68 runs, 3.4 runs per game, which was not exactly the stuff that winners were made of. Their pitching was decent with the fifth-best rotation and a bullpen that could use adjustment, but … uh, that offense… The season series stood tied at one after the season-opening set had been cut short by nature. Thus this series would open with a double-header on Friday.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (2-1, 5.28 ERA) vs. David Saccoccio (1-2, 3.10 ERA)
Jose Menendez (2-1, 3.81 ERA) vs. John McInerney (0-3, 7.43 ERA)
Tom Shumway (1-2, 4.45 ERA) vs. Sal Bedoya (1-1, 2.78 ERA)
Sean Rigg (0-0) vs. Mark Morrison (2-0, 3.24 ERA)

McInerney was the only southpaw they could offer… and maybe offering him to the God of Poisoned Arrows was not such a bat idea right now…

The Critters would bring up Sean Rigg for a spot start on regular rest. Shumway would go on short rest, but he also hadn’t made it out of the fifth inning on Tuesday and this was the only way to make this work out. Rigg had a 2.38 ERA in three games (two starts) in AAA this year. Barring broken bones befalling bonafide batters better bemarveled, Sean Catella would make the trip to St. Pete on Sunday.

Game 1
IND: SS Pizano – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – LF I. Vega – 2B Schneller – C J. Herrera – 3B E. Sosa – P Saccoccio
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – RF Mora – CF Catella – P Roberts

The cold shower came immediately. Mark Roberts was mercilessly clobbered for sucking once again. The Indians scored two runs on three base hits in the first inning, with Jon Gonzalez hitting a single against his own team, scoring on Ben Suhay’s triple, which raised the flawed Suhay’s average all the way to .171, and Ivan Vega added a 2-out RBI single. The Coons were still hoping for a base runner when Roberts bled for three more hits AND nailed two batters in the third inning. Somehow the Indians scored only two additional runs… with Mike Plunkett being thrown out at home plate by Matt Jamieson. Roberts was so ludicrously terrible, the Coons almost would have batted for him as early as the third inning (with Mora on first after a leadoff single), but then were mindful of the double-header and tried to get length any way they could. So we dragged Roberts through five, by the tail, and with his tongue hanging out and all paws stretched skywards. It cost another run that probably wouldn’t matter because Saccoccio made the Coons look like Knights and we had only two hits through five innings, and only three as the late innings dawned. Surginer pitched two innings of damage control in the sixth and seventh, and Stonecipher came on afterwards and was absolutely out of control, walking Elias Sosa, nailing Mario Pizano, threw a wild pitch, and somehow got Jon Gonzalez and Ben Suhay both to swing on terrible 3-2 pitches. Both missed, stranding runners in scoring position. None of the strikeouts changed the outcome of the game, which Saccoccio finished with a 4-hitter, whiffing four Coons. 5-0 Indians. Nunley (PH) 1-1; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1; Surginer 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

We never reached third base in this game.

Game 2
IND: SS Pizano – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – 2B Schneller – LF McClenon – C Paiz – 3B E. Sosa – P McInerney
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Hereford – LF Jamieson – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – P Menendez

This time around the first three Coons reached base with four balls to Ramos, a dying quail single by Stalker and Nunley legging out an infield grounder he had no business out-legging but the Indians defense broke out into disagreement about where to get the first of a zillion outs and ended up getting not a single one at all. Unnerved, McInerney lost Hereford on four pitches, pushing home the first run of the game, but to be clear, walks had not been the southpaw’s problem so far this year, but he was allowing about 1.5 hits per inning, which was not quite a sustainable rate. The Raccoons turned him into dinner without much of a fuss, with Jamieson squeaking out another bases-loaded walk in a full count, Gomez bringing in Nunley with a deep sac fly, and then Elias Tovias came up with a booming 3-run homer to left – six-oh in the first! So it was on the Indians to rally now; Mike Plunkett got them going with a leadoff jack in the top 2nd, Dan Schneller singled, Joseph McClenon tripled to the fence in the gap, Edgar Paiz calmly walked, and Elias Sosa singled. That made it 6-3, and the tying run (the pitcher) was at the plate with nobody out… except the Arrowheads yanked McInerney straightaway. Ivan Vega batted, right into a double play. Stalker handled Pizano’s grounder, and the inning ended. And only seven and a half more to go…

Top 3rd, the tying runs were on right away. Free pass to Gonzalez, then two singles, and Menendez looked like gassed ass. The Coons had only four relievers available and would have liked some length here, especially with Shumway going on short rest tomorrow, but Jonathan Fleischer got up in this damn inning. Schneller hit a sac fly to center, 6-4, and McClenon hit into another double play, but there was hardly a way Menendez could be dragged on his own tail much longer especially with a lead. He walked Sosa in the fourth but the Indians didn’t hit for reliever Juan Melendrez, who bunted successfully, but Pizano grounded out to his rival Ramos to strand him. Menendez also bunted in the bottom 4th, getting Magallanes to second from where Ramos scored him with a liner for a single into rightfield, offering some brief respite from the Indians’ scoring orgy. It was now 7-4, and the Indians’ 2-3-4 went in order in the fifth as the Coons tried to get every single out that was in Menendez’ arm.

The Raccoons had Jamieson on second base after a leadoff single and a groundout by Gomez in the bottom 5th. Indy walked Tovias intentionally after his earlier power display, but then ran into Magallanes singling to left. Jamieson was waved around and scored, 8-4, and the runner moved up on McClenon’s bad throw. The Coons smelled another run here and now, with the left-hander Antonio Quintana up and one out, batted for Menendez. Wilson Rodriguez struck out, and Ramos grounded out to Schneller; nobody scored. Pitching in relief in the bottom 6th was… Dan Delgadillo! The former Raccoons had a 1.17 ERA in 7.2 innings coming into this mess of a game and walked Tim Stalker right away. Nunley popped out, and Hereford would have done so, too, but Paiz dropped the ball in foul ground. That shook Yusneldan! He balked, walked Hereford, Jamieson reached on an error, and then the Coons sent Harenberg to bat for Gomez against the righty. He hit the ball hard… right at short… and the inning ended 6-4-3. DAMN YOU, KEVIN!! (flings Coons cap against the window)

Add to the misery a 25-minute rain delay, Fleischer’s inefficiency both before (two walks in the sixth) and afterwards (walk to Pizano, two singles), and then Ricky Ohl inherited the bases loaded, Plunkett with the tying run at the plate, and nobody out in the top 7th. He exited on four pitches – Plunkett hit the first into a run-scoring double play, and Schneller bounced out to Nunley three offerings later, keeping Portland afloat, 8-5. In turn, Ohl was completely eviscerated in the eighth. Leadoff walk to McClenon, RBI double by Paiz. One lucky pop out from Sosa, and then Herlihy hit an RBI single, Pizano singled to left, too, and Magallanes overran that ball for an error, putting the tying AND go-ahead run in scoring position with one out. The Coons only had Garavito and Boles left – they went to Garavito against Jon Gonzalez, who was not a left-handed batter, you may remember. Garavito allowed a fly to center at 0-1 that was certainly gonna tie the game. Mora caught the ball, Herlihy chugging for home, Mora with a do-or-die throw into Tovias’ mitten – OUT!!! THE RUNNER WAS OUT!!! Inning over!! No insurance run would come forth though, and the single-run lead had to be protected against the meat of the order in the ninth inning. And Josh Boles? …lost Suhay in a full count. Plunkett ran to 2-2 before bouncing the ball back to the mound, but Boles only got the lead runner at second. Schneller struck out. Right-hander Juan Herrera pinch-hit with Indy down to their last out… and ended on three pitches. 8-7 Blighters! Stalker 2-3, 2 BB; Tovias 1-3, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Magallanes 3-4, 2B, RBI;

(has visibly aged in the last eight hours)

The Critters opted to send Sean Catella (.200) away a day early to bring up an additional reliever for the Saturday game only. The guy had to be rested, on the 40-man roster, with options, and with good stamina to go several innings.

No such pitcher existed. The Coons would try to make it work with Steve Costilow instead, who had not yet pitched in AAA action and had allowed two runs in his only major league inning in ’29.

Game 3
IND: SS Pizano – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – LF I. Vega – 2B Schneller – C J. Herrera – 3B E. Sosa – P Bedoya
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – CF Mora – P Shumway

Tom Shumway was not fine. Yes, he logged two innings on 15 pitches. But that was because the Indians liked what they saw. Depending on your mileage on liners right at precious shortstops, four or five of their six outs were LOUD and HARD. That Sal Bedoya hit him in the bottom 2nd certainly wouldn’t make him any better. It loaded the bags with down for Ramos, but Suhay caught up with his fly to center and nobody scored. It went on like that for a few more innings – the Indians not reaching and the Raccoons not scoring, that was. The weather turned from drab to rainy, and the contact off the Shumster got a little less harsh, but the Indians were still hardly fooled. Schneller reached base after 14 straight retirements … with a Nunley error in the fifth, but Juan Herrera grounded out to keep him stranded.

The no-hitter lasted through six innings, but the seventh began with a Harenberg error putting Jon Gonzalez on base, and vile Ben Suhay hit a ball over Mora’s head for an RBI double. First Indians hit, first run in the game. Plunkett singled, and the Coons had to get the pen going, though Costilow was not such a bright choice right now. The situation dissolved on Schneller’s 6-4-3 grounder, but the Raccoons now had a problem… Bedoya was still pitching a 3-hitter and they had yet again not yet touched third base again since the second inning. There was an opening in the bottom 7th though – Jamieson turned a full count into a disputed walk, Pizzo singled up the middle, and Mora also drew a walk. Three on, one out, and Shumway was certainly gone here. Rafael Gomez batted for him, grounded up the middle, Pizano to Schneller, to Gonzalez – LATE! The tying run scored on the play, and Shumway was off the hook for his valiant effort. Valiant, yet futile. Ramos flew out to center AGAIN, and the game remaind tied… at least until Stonecipher walked two in the top 8th and gave up a 2-out go-ahead RBI single to Gonzalez… Another run scored with two outs in the ninth off Garavito, this time with Herrera singling home Vega. The Raccoons failed to answer either call. 3-1 Indians. Mora 0-1, 2 BB; Shumway 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K;

Costilow was designated for assignment without having made an appearance to get Sean Rigg onto the roster.

Game 4
IND: SS Pizano – 1B Jon Gonzalez – CF Suhay – RF Plunkett – LF I. Vega – 2B Schneller – C J. Herrera – 3B E. Sosa – P M. Morrison
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – C Tovias – P Rigg

The Indians blew up Rigg for six before the Raccoons ever reached base. After two muddled innings to start off, Rigg began the third inning with a single hit by Morrison (…), and before long the runners piled up. Gonzalez got on, Plunkett walked, Vega hit a 2-out, 2-run single, Schneller got nailed, and then Juan Herrera homered to left for a grand slam that sucked all the air out of the Raccoons once more. Or at least out of me. Mora opened the bottom 3rd with a triple, scored on a Tovias single, and Ramos, Stalker, and Harenberg all came up with more singles to cut the gap in half.

By the sixth it was a 7-3 game. Rigg had lasted into the fifth before Schneller had driven in another run off him and had knocked him out. He was already on the way back to the airport. The Raccoons had put Ramos, Stalker, and Hereford on base in the fifth, but that had not led to a run because Ramos had been caught stealing and then Harenberg flew out to Suhay with two outs on the board rather than one, and everything was horrible. Nunley and Jamieson drew leadoff walks in the bottom 6th. Pizzo batted for Surginer, who had defused a situation with one out and runners on second and third in the top 5th, in the #7 hole and eagerly popped out. Even Tovias could hold the **** up and drew another walk. This brought up Magallanes with the bases loaded, and we had no option to hit for him without running into a serious squeeze afterwards. He hit a grounder to Schneller, 4-6-3, inning over. Harenberg hit an RBI double in the bottom of the following inning, but that was more than made up with Elias Sosa’s 2-run shot off Stonecipher in the eighth. That ended the game for sure. The Raccoons would get Ramos and Stalker back on base in the bottom 9th against right-hander Matt Francis, but Hereford and Harenberg both went down on strikes to end the game. 9-4 Indians. Ramos 3-4; Stalker 2-4, BB, RBI; Harenberg 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 1-2, 3B; Surginer 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K; Brotman 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K;

In other news

April 24 – SFB C Victor Ayala (.250, 4 HR, 14 RBI) has four hits and as many RBI in the Bayhawks’ 13-12 win over the Canadiens.
April 26 – DAL SP Jong-hoo Cho (2-1, 1.42 ERA) will miss two weeks to get better on accounts of a forearm strain.
April 26 – The Warriors walk off against the Scorpions, 3-2 in regulation, when SAC CL Jose Ornelas (1-1, 1.86 ERA, 7 SV) issues four consecutive walks in the bottom of the final inning, including a 4-pitch walk to SFW OF Dwayne Metts (.286, 0 HR, 2 RBI) with the bases loaded.
April 27 – For the second game in a row, L.A.’s OF Justin Fowler (.271, 2 HR, 9 RBI) smacks five base hits in a game against the Stars. Fowler had four singles and a homer in Friday’s 11-9 Pacifics win, and adds four singles and a triple in Saturday’s 11-7 Pacifics victory.
April 27 – SAC SP Justin Kent (1-3, 6.16 ERA) 3-hits the Warriors in a 1-0 shutout.
April 27 – A gross laceration on his hand will keep BOS OF Willie Vega (.319, 2 HR, 12 RBI) out of games for at least two weeks.
April 27 – OCT RF/LF Luis Sagredo (.333, 5 HR, 16 RBI) is headed to the DL with hamstring tendinitis, but might return after only 15 days.
April 28 – Career Scorpion LF/RF Doug Stross (.446, 3 HR, 15 RBI) goes 4-for-4 in a 14-10 Sacramento win over the Warriors and thus reaches 2,000 base hits. The first of his four base knocks, a first-inning RBI single off SFW SP Eric Barlow (4-0, 3.41 ERA) is the actual milestone. Stross won the batting title and was the 2024 and 2025 Player of the Year in the Federal League and was an All Star six times so far.

Complaints and stuff

35-4. As long as we live, we will not forget this Knights series. They came in, the Coons were not exactly firmly on the ground with their paws, and then we tore their ****ing colons and stomachs and hearts right out, just kept shredding those innards, and saddled them with THIRTY-FIVE runs. The Coons, who had come into the week eighth in runs scored, were up to second by the time the Knights were flushed off the field by the groundskeeper with the big garden hose.

Kevin Harenberg was retired TWICE (in the series) and drove in nine runs. Tim Stalker had six hits and drove in seven. Rich Hereford, who sat in the opener, had six hits and drove in five. Best of all was Ramos, though – Alberto came to the plate 15 times. He reached base… 14 times. They retired him ONCE. 8-for-9 (all singles) with six walks, four stolen bases, and seven runs! … Alberto, you filthy beast!! I love you more than words can say! (gives Ramos a thick smooch on the cheek)

And, well, then came the Indians.

(rummages in the top drawer) … I *KNOW* I had a pistol in there… Maud keeps hiding the damn thing …!

Fun Fact: Alberto Ramos and Mario Pizano, who have combined for 402 stolen bases since the start of the 2026 season, opposed one another for a 4-game series, and neither stole a base.

Ramos went 0-for-1. Pizano always got stuck behind his slugging pitchers…
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Questdog (04-30-2019)
Old 04-30-2019, 04:18 PM   #2829
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Well that was a fun read for half of it....

I do not remember even the 90's Coons blistering anyone that badly....
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Westheim (04-30-2019)
Old 04-30-2019, 04:26 PM   #2830
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The 1997 Coons (in)famously grabbed fifth place from the damn Elks on the last weekend of the season by sweeping said Elks. I checked and the run totals were 29-11 back then. That was one off the top of my head that made noise, but I don't know whether there's anything else.
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:24 PM   #2831
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Raccoons (13-12) @ Titans (15-9) – April 29-May 2, 2030

Off to Boston for four with the team with the most runs scored in the Continental League. The Titans were shelling out 5.3 runs per game, which was certainly not good news for our pitching, but the Titans also had some holes, sitting eighth in runs allowed. They also had already suffered a few injuries, notably including outfielder Willie Vega. These two teams split the season series right down the middle in 2029.

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (3-1, 0.96 ERA) vs. Greg Gannon (3-1, 3.76 ERA)
Trevor Draper (0-1, 10.38 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (2-3, 4.20 ERA)
Mark Roberts (2-2, 5.80 ERA) vs. Dave Dyer (0-1, 5.40 ERA)
Jose Menendez (3-1, 4.35 ERA) vs. Armando Gonzales (2-0, 4.24 ERA)

One southpaw in the Boston’s array here; that would be Wingo.

We had already sent back Sean Rigg and would get Draper, reluctantly, for another spot start. Rico Gutierrez should be able to take over that spot in the rotation the next time around. Hopefully.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – C Pizzo – P Martinez
BOS: LF Acor – C Henley – RF Quinn – 3B M. Matias – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – 1B Skinner – P Gannon

The Raccoons did something weird in the opening inning and got not one, but TWO extra base hits past Adrian Reichardt in centerfield… but still only amounted to one run. Ramos led off with a triple to center, scored on a Stalker single, and then Hereford doubled over Reichardt, but with two in scoring position and no outs, the 4-5 batters choked, Jamieson walked, and Mora grounded out. On the other side of the box score, Odilon demanded blood – Dave Martinez hit Dustin Acor in the first and Rhett West in the second, and when that didn’t sacrifice Odilon, he devoured his child in the third inning. Dustin Acor led off with a double, and the Titans roared all over Martinez as they batted around in the inning. Justin Quinn hit a 2-run homer to flip the score, and the hits just kept falling in with straight hits from the next four batters plating two more runs to make it 4-1 before Lance Skinner popped out and Gannon flew out to left.

By the fourth, the Titans had rocked Martinez to the core to the tune of ten base hits, with the inning only ending with Quinn thrown out at home plate by Mora on a Mike Matias double. Earlier, “Hopalong” Henley had doubled up Acor after a leadoff single. Weirdly enough, Martinez was soon back in the lead; Matt Jamieson cut the gap to 4-2 with a leadoff jack in the fourth, and then the fifth devolved into something else. Stalker and Hereford reached base with one out, moved up on Harenberg’s groundout, then were both waved around on Matt Nunley’s 2-out blooper into shallow left-center. That one tied the score, Nunley went to second on the late throw to home plate, and then Lance Skinner made not one, but TWO errors on a Jamieson pop and a Mora grounder to allow Nunley across, too, 5-4. Annoyingly, Mike Pizzo struck out, and Martinez kept putting runners aboard. He was yanked in the sixth after a Skinner single and a walk to Acor, with Surginer coming on and getting a pop from J.J. Henley and a K against Quinn to protect the 5-4 lead. Fleischer protected that in the seventh, and then Portland added an insurance run in the eighth on singles by Mora and Pizzo as well as Ramos’ 2-out double to right-center on which Mora scored and Pizzo was thrown out after being perhaps too greedily sent. Insurance was collected right in the bottom of the inning, with Ohl and Garavito spilling three singles between them. Mike Matias brought home Dave O’Rourke with a 2-out RBI single to get the score back to 6-5 before Keith Spataro grounded out to Ramos to strand runners on the corners. But Portland came up with another 2-out RBI double, this time in the ninth and against Pat Selby, who leaked singles to Hereford and Harenberg. Nunley popped out, but Jamieson got a ball through new third baseman Dan Knudson for an RBI double. Mora flew to deep center, but this time Reichardt was there to prevent more damage. Reichardt also brought up the tying run with a 1-out walk against Boles in the ninth. Lance Skinner singled, sending Reichardt to third, and now the problems really started. Or did they not? The Titans could only send left-handed pinch-hitters, and Fernando Rodriguez would hit for the pitcher Selby. Boles rung him up. That brought up an unretired Dustin Acor as the winning run. He popped the second pitch foul and to the dugout. The Titans dugout. The steps of the Titans dugout. Harenberg tried to navigate those stairs, the taunts of the Titans in the dugout that they weren’t gonna catch him, and probably a few trapdoors in the area, and made the catch right over the top step to end the game. 7-5 Critters. Ramos 2-4, BB, 3B, 2B, RBI; Stalker 2-5, RBI; Hereford 3-5, 2B; Jamieson 2-4, BB, HR, 2B, 2 RBI;

Game 2
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Jamieson – RF W. Rodriguez – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – P Draper
BOS: LF Acor – C Henley – RF M. Matias – 1B Skinner – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – 3B Knudson – P Wingo

Hereford hit into a double play in the first, but the Titans delivered the worse choke job after Acor and Henley went to the corners straightaway. Matias and Skinner struck out and Keith Spataro popped out foul on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning, and that against Draper, whose middle name was likely “Sir Bashedalot”. To be fair to pitchers bashed a lot, Draper only maintained the pretense of competence for two innings. The third saw a leadoff single by Wingo, a Henley double (in which Henley pulled something and had to be replaced by pinch-runner O’Rourke with the other catcher, Skinner, already in the game), and then Matias did the honors with a 2-run single. That erased a 2-0 lead that had been the result of Rodriguez (nailed) and Gomez (single) scoring on a long Tovias double in the top 2nd. The double would have been a triple for most batters and an inside-the-park homer for Ramos, but we were pretty happy about the runs anyway. The Titans loaded the bags on three base hits in the bottom 4th – and with nobody out – but didn’t score when Wingo struck out, Acor hacked himself out, and O’Rourke grounded out to Stalker. There was absolutely no working with Draper, though… nor any other starting pitcher on payroll at this point.

Draper crept into the sixth, but not out of it. Rhett West hit a leadoff double, Dan Knudson walked, and after Wingo bunted them over, Fleischer inherited Dustin Acor and the runners in scoring position with two outs. He didn’t get out of this one, serving up a homer at 2-1, and that put the Titans ahead by three. Jamieson hit another leadoff jack in the eighth inning against Wingo, but that wasn’t enough, especially with Stonecipher and Brotman coughing it back up in the bottom of the frame. The ninth saw the Coons face Jonathan Snyder, and they got a chance to empty their benchw with all the left-handed batters who made remarkably little impact. Ramos popped out, Nunley hit a single, but Mora flew out. Stalker was not hit for, and ended the game with a grounder to Knudson. 6-3 Titans. Tovias 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Nunley (PH) 1-1;

As intended, the Coons discarded Draper (0-2, 8.10 ERA) once more and activated Rico Gutierrez from the DL.

The Titans did a minor deal overnight, sending backup infielder Jon Perez (.308, 0 HR, 4 RBI) to the Wolves for AAA 1B Brett Judkins, who was added to the roster and had batted .276 with seven homers for Salem last year, and a meager prospect on top of that. That meager prospect though was a shortstop named Ramos, so maybe they hoped to strike lucky…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – C Pizzo – P Roberts
BOS: LF Acor – C Murry – RF M. Matias – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – 1B Judkins – 3B Knudson – P Dyer

For the second time in the series, Ramos opened a game with a triple, this time into the leftfield corner. Stalker doubled him home, then scored on two productive outs to give Roberts a 2-0 edge to start with. Roberts not only blew the lead right in the first, he also fell 3-2 behind, getting ripped and ripped and even more ripped. Acor and Vince Murry hit singles, Matias hit an RBI double, Spataro came up with a sac fly, and Rhett West at least with a run-scoring groundout to put Boston 3-2 ahead. Never mind that he tied the score with a 2-out RBI single off Dyer in the top of the second – his pitching was so atrocious as to render even the joy of a .615 hitting pitcher in May absolutely worthless. He SUCKED. He – SUCKED. Judkins hit a single in his first at-bat of the year, and when Dyer bunted, Roberts tried to get the lead runner, but got nobody at all, forfeiting an out just as those were increasingly more impossible for him to get. Then he got bombed by Dustin Acor, a no-doubt 3-run homer, approximately 450 feet deep, to make it 6-3 in the bottom 2nd. That was not the end of the story, though. Pitching was not only atrocious on the Coons’ side. Dave Dyer – a former Coon, to be fair – loaded the bases with Hereford (single), Harenberg (double), and Jamieson (2-out walk) in the third inning, then threw a right exit pitch to Abel Mora that was about as deep as Acor’s from ten minutes earlier. GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMM!!!

The Titans hit for Dyer in the bottom of the inning, while Roberts hung around. The Coons could ill afford another bullpen day with no off day in sight. This was Roberts’ game. If they would burn him for ten runs, they’d burn him for ten runs. At some point we had to stop holding paws. The Titans tied the score on three singles off Roberts, but that at least only happened in the fifth inning, after which he was at 95 pitches. He was hit for in the top 6th, with Gomez grounding out to end the inning, giving Roberts an UGLY no-decision. We went on to abuse Billy Brotman for two innings against mostly right-handed opposition (and in fact, the only left-handed batter he faced, Murry, singled), and that somehow didn’t blow up in our black-and-white faces and the score remained 7-7 after seven. A run fell out of Ricky Ohl on 2-out doubles by PH Justin Quinn and Keith Spataro in the bottom of the eighth, however, and unfortunately, that was the end of the Raccoons, who had no answer whatsoever. The Titans’ pen, in fact, between Jonathan Shook (more ex-Coons being reliable, great!), Brent Beene, Pat Selby, and Jonathan Snyder retired the final SEVENTEEN batters the Raccoons sent to the plate. 8-7 Titans. Ramos 2-4, 3B; Mora 1-4, HR, 4 RBI; Brotman 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – C Tovias – P Menendez
BOS: LF Acor – C Murry – 3B M. Matias – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – 1B Judkins – RF Quinn – P A. Gonzales

Rich Hereford’s solo shot made it 1-0 in the first, but only an absolutely heroic flying catch by Abel Mora in the depths of centerfield kept Menendez from a first-inning spanking. Mora robbed Rhett West after a Matias single and a walk to Spataro had put two on with two down in the inning. Early explosion averted, Hereford brought in Ramos with a sac fly in the third inning to make it 2-0. By the fourth, Menendez batted with two outs and Mora on first base and got nailed by Gonzales, which was certainly going to make him better… Ramos then was robbed by Acor to end the inning, and Hereford did it to Judkins in the bottom 4th with runners on the corners and two down… This game was just waiting to have its run explosion…

However, while it was far from pretty, Menendez managed to keep the Titans to three hits and a couple o’ walks through six innings. They were making a few hard outs, yeah, but at least they were OUTS and not OUT ON THE STREET. (glares at Roberts) Trouble was brewing in the seventh, though. Judkins doubled past Mora’s reach, and Quinn walked in a full count. Gonzales was retained to bunt for the second out, which brought up Acor, who had all but worn out Raccoons pitching in this series. The Coons brought in Surginer at this point, and Kevin got a soft groundout on an 0-2 pitch. Portland added something in the top 8th despite Kevin Harenberg’s best efforts to the opposite, hitting into a double play after leadoff singles by Stalker and Hereford. Tim survived at third, from where Matt Nunley plated him with a soft liner over Mike Matias for a 2-out RBI double. A Vince Murry error put runners on the corners after that, but Mora flew out to left, keeping it 3-0. Kevin Surginer got two strikeouts in the bottom 8th before Spataro hit a jack to left, but that was what cushions were for. West grounded out, and we got Boles ready. He did away with the Titans on 11 pitches and with two strikeouts in the ninth. 3-1 Furballs. Stalker 2-4; Hereford 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Menendez 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K, W (4-1);

Oh well, could have been much worse than a split…

Raccoons (15-14) @ Rebels (10-18) – May 3-5, 2030

The Rebels were more or less hopeless right now and stuck rebuilding year after year. They were 11th in runs scored in the Federal League, and one spot worse in runs allowed. Opposing teams were scoring 5.5 runs a game off them. Their rotation was 11th, their pen 12th. Little to love here. They also had not won a series against the Coons since 2018, going 2-13 in the last five meetings, and had been swept the last two times these teams had met, including last season.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (0-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. Joaquin Serrano (0-4, 5.59 ERA)
Tom Shumway (1-2, 3.57 ERA) vs. Felipe Delgado (3-2, 3.13 ERA)
Dave Martinez (4-1, 1.89 ERA) vs. Joe Hicks (0-5, 6.29 ERA)

Right, left, right, and hopefully lots of runs. We will only have an off day on Thursday next week, so we will keep rotating some players in this series.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – CF Mora – RF Gomez – C Pizzo – P Gutierrez
RIC: CF Jennings – 2B Hansen – RF Damron – 1B M. Monroe – 3B Zamora – C Salinas – SS Ferrando – LF DiPietro – P Serrano

Portland at first scored a Ramos special in the opening inning as he legged out an infield single, stole second, then came around to score on a Harenberg single with two down. Nunley walked, and Mora grounded through the right side for a single that Keith Damron overran for an error that allowed Harenberg across and runners into scoring position, from where Rafael Gomez drove them in with a single to right-center to make it 4-0. Rico in his comeback allowed a single to Billy Jennings before retiring the next three, then was spotted an extra run with two outs in the second when Stalker singled, stole second, and was brought in by Hereford with a single. Rico’s rust however was certainly not off yet – the Rebels had at least one hit in every inning, often had the leadoff man on base, and in the bottom 3rd might have scored, but John Hansen was thrown out at home plate by Gomez on Damron’s double to right. Worse yet, straight singles loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom 4th. Michael Ferrando popped out, but Chris DiPietro hit a 2-run double to right. Serrano had hung around until now, but was hit for with Matt Barber, who struck out, and then Jennings grounded out to Ramos, stranding two and leaving the score at 5-2 after four. Rico’s spot came with three on and one out in the fifth against southpaw Andy Wright, who had put Nunley (single), Mora (nailed), and Pizzo (intentional walk) on to get to him. Rico grounded to John Hansen, who correctly judged that the ball had been too slow to turn two. They only got Rico at first, while Nunley scored, 6-2. Ramos rammed a 2-run double past Miles Monroe after that, restoring a more than comfy lead, 8-2. Rico finally had a clean fifth, but at the same time it started to rain. The rain would knock him out in an hourlong delay in the bottom 6th without another out logged by him, and here we were in our tortured bullpen again… Either offense died down after the rain delay, and there were no more runs scored in the game. The Coons used Stonecipher to cover two innings that maybe Rico would have brought in, but it wasn’t meant to be. The W was, though. 8-2 Raccoons. Ramos 4-6, 2B, 2 RBI; Nunley 3-3, 2 BB; Mora 3-4, RBI; Gutierrez 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, W (1-1); Stonecipher 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – RF Rodriguez – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – P Shumway
RIC: CF Jennings – 2B Hansen – 1B M. Monroe – 3B Zamora – C Salinas – RF Restrepo – SS Ferrer – LF DiPietro – P F. Delgado

Billy Jennings hit Shumway’s very first pitch over the fence to give Richmond a lead, and the Shumster allowed another two singles in the inning, but the Rebels would not tack on, with Andy Restrepo looking at strike three with two on and two down. The Raccoons had a slow start here against Delgado. Nunley hit a single in the second, Ramos hit a double in the third, but those came with two down in the respective inning and did not lead to greatness. Delgado ran into trouble only in the fifth with a leadoff single up the middle by Matt Nunley, then a 4-pitch walk to put on Elias Tovias, too. Magallanes flew out to right, and that didn’t help. Shumway struck out bunting, but Ramos also failed to get a grounder past Monroe, so the inning ended anyway.

While Shumway was now dealing and had seven strikeouts, too, after six innings, including a 3-K fourth, no Raccoon got on base until Nunley hit yet another single, that one leading off the seventh. Tovias singled hard to left on a 2-1 pitch, and that put the Raccoons right back where they had been in the unsuccessful fifth. With a sense of urgency developing, Rafael Gomez batted for Magallanes and singled, loading up the sacks, but we were not ready to bat for Shumway. We were probably fine as long as he only made one out, and Ramos could still bat with three on. The Shumster whiffed, Ramos squeezed Delgado for a walk, and that one pushed the tying run – FINALLY – across. The go-ahead run scored, too, on Wilson Rodriguez’ groundout, but after Hereford walked to restock the sacks, Harenberg grounded out poorly. Shumway opened the bottom 7th then with a leadoff walk to Restrepo, but got Manny Ferrer to hit a sharp one at Nunley, who turned two to help his guy through the inning, after which we called it a day with Shumway, who was on 103 pitches. Actually… nah. He would face Jennings, a left-handed batter, to begin the eighth, and then we’d bring Ricky Ohl. Said Ricky Ohl inherited a man on first after a single hit over Hereford’s head, and he didn’t fool anybody in blowing the lead and loading the bases. Former Titan Keith Leonard tied it up with a pinch-hit single to right, and a Jorge Zamora single and walk to Tony Salinas put three on. Restrepo struck out, but at the same time Ohl removed himself from the game, stating his shoulder was bugging him. Before we could deal with that, Kevin Surginer had to deal with the teeming bases against Manny Ferrer, threw a wild pitch to put Richmond in front, and then Gomez defused a scorched liner for the third out. The Coons got a 2-out single from Ramos in the ninth against Mike Tandy, but Rodriguez grounded out and that was that… 3-2 Rebels. Ramos 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Nunley 3-4; Gomez (PH) 1-2; Shumway 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K;

(huffs and puffs in aggravated fashion)

The Raccoons placed Ricky Ohl on the DL with a mild case of shoulder inflammation and were confident to get him back before the end of the month. They also promoted Chris Wise, their winter steal from the Crusaders, to make his major league debut. Wise had a 4.00 ERA in AAA play, but the peripherals were prettier.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – RF Rodriguez – C Pizzo – P Martinez
RIC: LF DiPietro – C Leonard – RF Damron – 1B M. Monroe – CF Jennings – 2B Hansen – 3B Zamora – SS Ferrando – P Hicks

The Rebels were up 3-0 after the opening inning, with Dave Martinez being absolutely nowhere near the strike zone. He walked three, including leadoff man Chris DiPietro, and allowed run-scoring hits to Damron and Zamora in falling behind quickly. Zamora doubled his RBI output to four in the bottom 3rd with a 2-out, 2-run homer off Martinez, who could not get anybody out. And the rest of the Raccoons couldn’t get anybody on. Leonard would have hit a homer in the fourth, but the ball broke foul past the pole, and the Raccoons had to prepare their pen for yet ANOTHER long afternoon. This ****ing rotation!!

The Raccoons had stranded a pair consisting of Jamieson and Mora in the second inning. Harenberg hit a solo homer in the fourth that positively looked like window dressing at the time. Pizzo singled with one out in the fifth, Martinez’ bunt was thrown away by Joe Hicks, but then neither Ramos nor Stalker could get the ball out of the infield. Martinez got stuck in a 3-hit bottom of the fifth. Keith Damron led off with a double, was thrown out at home by Jamieson on Monroe’s single, and the runners remained on the corner when Fleischer replaced the yanked and clobbered Martinez with two outs and struck out the pesky Zamora to get out of the mess. Jamieson brought in Nunley with a groundout in the sixth after the third baseman had opened the inning with a double, but it was all too small and too puny against the much-battered Hicks, and Billy Brotman gave the run right back in the bottom of the inning. The Coons gave up on the game, and Chris Wise made his major league debut in the bottom 7th of a desolate loss. He retired John Hansen to begin his major league career, walked Zamora, but got a double play from Michael Ferrando. For the sort of 6-2 loss in progress, it was quite the magic. A 6-2 loss became a 7-2 loss in the eighth when Garavito bled for four singles. Bitterly, the Coons got to Jimmy Lohrey in the ninth inning. Baldwin got on with a hit out of the #9 hole, Ramos singled to right, too, and then Rich Hereford pinch-hit for Garavito in the #2 spot and hit a blast over the rightfield wall. That only got Portland to 7-5 with one out and Mike Tandy replacing the shaken Lohrey. Nunley fell to 2-2, then doubled down the line in right, and suddenly Harenberg was the tying run at the plate…! …and the fool popped out on the first pitch. Jamieson was the last straw, struck out, and that was that… 7-5 Rebels. Hereford (PH) 1-1, HR, 3 RBI; Nunley 2-5, 2 2B; Harenberg 2-5, HR, RBI; Baldwin (PH) 2-2, 2B;

In other news

April 29 – The Bayhawks beat the Thunder, 2-1, on only one base hit, a 2-out RBI double by outfielder Tomas Caraballo (.316, 5 HR, 16 RBI) to drive in Jose Balado (.241, 0 HR, 11 RBI) with the winning run. Balado had before that reached on an error that allowed Tyler Turner (.115, 0 HR, 2 RBI) to score after Turner had drawn a leadoff walk and had been bunted to second.
April 30 – The Aces trade veteran 2B/SS Andres Medina (.294, 3 HR, 13 RBI) to the Indians for two prospects.
May 2 – LVA SP Mike Cavallin (1-4, 7.82 ERA) is headed for Tommy John surgery with a torn UCL and will be out for a year.
May 3 – BOS SP Lorenzo Viamontes (5-0, 2.72 ERA) remains unbeaten and nearly holds the Capitals hitless with a 3-hit shutout in a 4-0 Titans win. One of the hits belongs to RF/LF Tsuneyoshi Tachibana (.362, 6 HR, 23 RBI) who thus extends his hitting streak to 20 games.
May 3 – CHA 1B Pat Fowlkes (.176, 1 HR, 3 RBI) did not have a good start to the season in April, and it gets worse in May, with the 34-year-old slugger headed to the DL for six weeks with a bruised kneecap.
May 4 – The 20-game hitting streak by WAS RF/LF Tsuneyoshi Tachibana (.353, 6 HR, 23 RBI) ends at the hands of the Titans, who at the same time also completely rout the Capitals in an 11-0 drubbing.

Complaints and stuff

Securing a split in Boston, although ugly, was probably good enough for the time being with the state of our pitching, which is more or less wretched. I thought we had three aces. Right now none of them live up to the moniker. And Roberts started horrendous even last year, but by this time of the season had already gotten realigned and was doing better. He gets worse with every single start now…

To be honest, the entire rotation deserves a flogging.

Also, there is being 3 1/2 behind the Titans, there is being .500 in May when you have title ambitions, but why the **** are we behind the Loggers? The LOGGERS?? Those damn Loggers actually have the best rotation in the Continental League.

(sigh!)

Chad, stop reading Dave Martinez’ pamphlets, that’s not for you to - … why are the mascot head’s eyes changing color, too??

Fun Fact: Matt Nunley is 48 base hits away from tying Cookie Carmona for the most base hits by a Raccoon in franchise history.

Cookie retired last winter. Before long, Nunley will retire. How many rings will he have? I thought about three, but maybe it will only be two…
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:50 AM   #2832
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Raccoons (16-16) vs. Scorpions (17-15) – May 6-8, 2030

Tied for ninth in runs scored, and third in runs allowed in their league, the Scorpions would probably be even tougher costumer than the Rebels, who had already flummoxed the Raccoons on the previous weekend. You also had to score early on the Scorpions, who had the best bullpen in the Federal League, with a 2.17 ERA for relievers. They also had the best defense. These teams had also met last year, when the Critters had won two of three games.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (2-2, 6.64 ERA) vs. Eddie Krumm (0-5, 4.65 ERA)
Jose Menendez (4-1, 3.58 ERA) vs. Justin Kent (2-3, 5.12 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (1-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Mel Lira (4-1, 2.60 ERA)

These were all right-handed. We would miss another right-hander, former Raccoons farmhand Reese Kenny (3-1, 2.86 ERA), who had once been included in the Mark Roberts / Jon Gonzalez trade with the Bayhawks, had not fared well with them from 2024 through 2026, and had only resurfaced last year with the needy Scorpions, going 8-8 with a 4.41 ERA then.

For those counting dimes and pennies and worried about unproductive expenditures – there were $7,286,000 and change left on Mark Roberts’ contract. Barring unforeseen improvement, he would probably get slided to the end of the rotation facilitating the upcoming off day on Thursday and thus not get the regular start against the Loggers on Sunday.

Game 1
SAC: CF Vermillion – SS Crabtree – LF Stross – 2B Stackhouse – 1B Tutt – 3B Westmoreland – C J. Rivera – RF Blossom – P Krumm
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – CF Mora – C Pizzo – P Roberts

Besides Doug Stross and the bench-riding Justin McAllester, who both still hailed from the thick of the Scorpions’ always-choking pretend-dynasty, this was an almost completely revamped lineup. Either team only had a single the first time through; Matt Nunley had the Coons’ in his relentless chase for the franchise hits trophy, but was immediately doubled off by Jamieson going 6-4-3, while Jesus Rivera had a leadoff single for Sacramento after Roberts retired the first six in order. Rivera moved up on a bunt by Krumm and a wild pitch, but Mark Vermillion (who I had tried to trade for before) struck out to leave him at third base, after already whiffing to begin the game. Matthew Crabtree and Tim Stackhouse (who I had wanted to draft so badly back then when) hit singles in the fourth, but were stranded with Zach Tutt whiffing and Roberts handling Gavin Westmoreland’s grounder for the third out in the inning. The Stingers were right back on Roberts in the fifth, leadoff single by Rivera, then a double to left-center by John Blossom. Those were then the tying runs, following a 2-run homer by Harenberg in the bottom of the fourth. Roberts struck out the overmatched Krumm, got Vermillion to pop out to Jamieson in shallow left, and Hereford handled Crabtree’s harmless fly to keep the Scorpions off the board. Roberts finally had a clean sixth, in the bottom of which the Coons actually were back on base. Stalker opened with a walk, moved up on Hereford’s groundout, and the Scorpions walked Harenberg intentionally after his earlier exploits. Nunley singled to right, though, loading the bags for Jamieson with one down, and Krumm helped out with the scoring when he threw a wild pitch. Which was good – because Jamieson struck out and Mora grounded out to Crabtree, and they didn’t score on their own. Instead it was 3-0 in Roberts’ favor. “Launchpad” made it into the eighth, rung up PH Jamie Woodward for his 10th K in the game, then got socked a long one by Vermillion on his 103rd and final pitch. With Ricky Ohl DL’ed, the Critters went to Surginer, who promptly allowed another solo homer to Stross before whiffing Stackhouse to end the inning. We barely eeked out an insurance run in the bottom 8th; Harenberg drew a leadoff walk, was run for by Baldwin, and Abel Mora barely got him across with a 2-out bloop single. Josh Boles got the game over with, striking out the side in the ninth inning. 4-2 Coons! Harenberg 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-3, BB; Roberts 7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, W (3-2);

Maybe we won’t slide Roberts then…!

Game 2
SAC: CF Vermillion – SS Crabtree – LF Stross – 2B Stackhouse – C Hearn – 3B Barlow – 1B Blossom – RF Woodward – P Kent
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – C Tovias – CF Baldwin – P Menendez

Sacramento scored an unearned run in the opening inning, charged this way for a Ramos error, but then again Menendez wasn’t exactly axing the Scorpions away, allowed two base hits, and then walked Jake Barlow, a .198 batter, with three on and two outs. Blossom grounded out to Harenberg to strand three. Ramos opened the bottom 1st with a double, but jammed his thumb sliding into second base and had to come out of the game right away. Hereford moved into the infield, and Wilson Rodriguez entered to play rightfield and bat first. Harenberg would drove in Wilson with a 2-out single, with Nunley and Jamieson also getting on base afterwards, and Justin Kent plated the go-ahead run with a wild pitch before Tovias grounded out; all this only for the Scorpions to roar right back and whack Menendez for four hits and two runs in the top 2nd. Woodward, Vermillion, and Crabtree all singled, and Doug Stross hit an RBI double before they stranded runners in scoring position with a Stackhouse pop and Kyle Hearn whiffing. One o’ those games, huh?

Bottom 3rd, the bags were full with no outs. Hereford legged out an infield roller for a single, and then Kent just filled them up with nary a strike issued to Harenberg and Nunley. Jamieson, slumping, was down to .217, but just held still enough to draw the third consecutive walk, which pushed in Hereford with the tying run. Tovias then popped out and Baldwin hit into a double play. Yup, one o’ those games! – And then, all of a sudden, the weirdness died down. The middle innings were wholly uneventful, and Menendez got through seven without allowing another run. Well, there was one exception to the uneventfulness; in the fifth, the Coons had Nunley on first and Jamieson hit a 2-out double to left-center. The Coons sent Nunley, but he got thrown out at home plate. Bottom 7th, Justin McAllester in centerfield couldn’t reach a Stalker fly that became a 1-out double. Last chance to make Menendez a winner! Hereford flew out to McAllester and Harenberg popped out, so that was a nah on this proposition. Top 8th, Fleischer got one out, but put Hearn on base with a 1-out double. With Jake Barlow up, the Coons went to the left-hander Garavito, who got a grounder. Hearn moved to third, then looked like a score when Blossom hit a ball into the hole on the left side. Tim Stalker pounced, corralled it, spun around and threw blindly to first – and BEAT him!! That’s what a shortstop with three Gold Gloves looks like! The Scorpions also stranded the go-ahead run on third base in the top of the ninth, then against Chris Wise and with the run potentially unearned after Jesus Rivera had reached on a Nunley error. Billy Brotman actually got the third out from Doug Stross. Brotman had come on in a double switch with Abel Mora, who was leading off the ninth and hit a single off righty Alan Mays. Rodriguez bunted the winning run to second base, Stalker flew out to ex-Coon Omar Alfaro in right, moving up the runner, and Rich Hereford ended the game with a crystal clear single to left-center. 4-3 Furballs. Ramos 1-1, 2B; Hereford 2-5, RBI; Nunley 0-1, 3 BB; Jamieson 1-2, BB, 2B, RBI; Mora 1-1; Menendez 7.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K;

Now for the bad news – Alberto Ramos would be unavailable for the rest of the week after spraining his thumb on the ugly slide in the first inning. He was not likely to miss much longer than that, so the Raccoons would not DL him and instead right it out with a short bench for the next few games…

Ramos had been the only Critter to last this long without not appearing in a game.

Game 3
SAC: CF Vermillion – SS Crabtree – LF Stross – 2B Stackhouse – C Hearn – 1B Tutt – 3B Westmoreland – RF O. Alfaro – P Lira
POR: SS Stalker – 3B Nunley – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – 2B Baldwin – RF Gomez – P Gutierrez

Rico Gutierrez … lasted ONE out in the game, conceded a run as Vermillion singled, stole second, and scored on a Stross single. (sounds the giant gong in the bathroom) Bullpen day…! Stonecipher was out first, unraveled for three hits and two runs in the second, and put three more on base with a Zach Tutt single and two walks to Westmoreland and Alfaro in the third before being just barely able to ring up the pitcher to exit the inning. And the game was lost; the Coons hit into double plays in the first (Hereford), second (Baldwin), and fourth (Harenberg) to fumble away each and any chance with men on base they might get against Lira. Billy Brotman logged seven outs for Portland before he got swamped in the sixth on a Westmoreland single, an error of his own that put Lira on, and a walk issued to Vermillion. Fleischer took over for him with the bases full, got a 5-4-3 double play from Crabtree on two pitches, and that kept the gap at 3-0, but … eh. Nothing worked. Through seven, Lira had allowed only four base runners (and yes, three double plays had been turned…), and in the ultimate sign of surrender, the Coons sent Josh Boles to pitch the eighth against lefties. Josh retired the 6-7-8 in order, and then the Coons brought up the tying run in the bottom 8th, and with nobody down. Mora singled, Tovias walked, and suddenly a chance? Pizzo batted for Baldwin – straight into a double play. No. No chance. Rafael Gomez hit an RBI single with two outs, but that was it. 3-1 Scorpions. Tovias 1-2, BB; Fleischer 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

(stares glumly onto the suddenly growing injury report)

Wednesday night Rico Gutierrez was constantly clamoring and screaming that his leg was going to fall off.

Thursday he walked around with a limp.

Friday the Druid reported he had a mild hamstring strain and would not even miss a start.

This team.

Raccoons (18-17) @ Loggers (18-15) – May 10-12, 2030

The Loggers had now the second-best rotation in the league and were only half a game behind the Titans as the Raccoons tumbled into Milwaukee. They were tied for tenth in scoring runs though, so maybe our pitching would get a break… We had a 2-1 edge over them this season.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (1-2, 3.40 ERA) vs. Joe West (1-4, 3.42 ERA)
Dave Martinez (4-2, 2.84 ERA) vs. Josh Long (1-1, 3.46 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-2, 5.81 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (4-2, 2.29 ERA)

Southpaw on Sunday, if I can even get that far without jumping into still frigid Lake Michigan.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – 2B Baldwin – P Shumway
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – LF Cambra – RF Stephenson – C J. Young – SS W. Morris – 1B W. Aquino – CF Creech – 2B Sessoms – P J. West

Nunley singled, Hereford walked, and Harenberg chucked into a double play in the first to ensure no runs. The bags were then full with nobody out in the second, courtesy of a walk issued to Abel Mora, Jamieson’s scratch single to left, and the .197 threat Pizzo getting whacked with a changeup. All that for Chris Baldwin and Tom Shumway, the most feared batters in all the lands. Both struck out, Stalker flew out to left, and I went to the nearest liquor vendor and inquired on whatever had the most spin. At least Shumway held the Loggers hit- and runless through the first three, and the Raccoons took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a solo shot by Pizzo, then batting .208 with five dingers. Other than that, Joe West was playing at high volume, striking out eight batters through the first five innings. The sixth he opened with a walk to Harenberg, though, and then Mora managed to miss both Josh Stephenson and Gabe Creech for a double in right-center. That put men in scoring position and nominally we’d cart up a few actual batters before the 8-9 guys would come around, even though both were hitting .225 or less. Jamieson flew out to shallow right, keeping Harenberg pinned for sure, Pizzo whiffed, Baldwin was bypassed, and Shumway was rung up fiercely.

The bottoms of innings were considerably less eventful (if you could call it even that), with Shumway sitting down the Loggers in order in the middle innings, just as he had done in the early innings. Tim Stalker hit a double to extend a 10-game hitting streak in the top of the seventh, but was stranded, while the bottom 7th saw Vinny Diaz and Firmino Cambra down on strikes, and Stephenson grounded out to Stalker. The Shumster would be bothered with batting again in the eighth, coming up with three on and no outs after Bobby Valencia had walked Jamieson and Pizzo, and Baldwin had reached on an infield single. Tom Shumway struck out – netting a golden sombrero along the way – and Stalker grounded to short to end the inning quickly and efficiently. Bottom 8th, Jim Young popped out on a 3-1 pitch. Wayne Morris was hit by a wayward first pitch – and there went the perfect game. After 22 straight Loggers retired, Shumway nailed the shortstop and that was it. Wilson Aquino moved up the runner with a groundout to Matt Nunley, who had to hustle, but made a nice play, and Gabe Creech went down on strikes. No insurance run came forth as the Coons stranded another pair in hapless fashion in the top of the ninth, and the bottom of the ninth dawned with April’s Rookie of the Month Aaron Sessoms leading off. Like anybody else, he carried an oh-fer. He fell down 1-2, then spiked a ball up the middle. Tim Stalker with his golden paws reached over, spun wildly again and zinged to first in time. One out. Mike Wheeler batted for Khalil Sams, who had earlier come into the #9 hole in a double switch, with Wheeler countering Shumway with his righty bat. Wheeler took the 1-1 pitch, the 99th offering by Shumway, to left. Line drive, Jamieson over – two outs. Here came Vinny Diaz, a .210 batter this year. He whacked the first one foul at the first base side, then drew two narrowly missing balls. He poked the 2-1. A pop over the infield. All the little Critters screamed at full lungs that they had it – Tim Stalker came through eventually, settled, caught the ball – IT’S A NO-HITTER!! 1-0 Furballs!!

The Raccoons left fifteen men on base in a 1-0 game, and struck out 14 times, which was enough for me to get stupidly drunk, but not enough to not realize that the eighth Raccoons no-hitter was in progress, and once it was completed, I gave the Hispanic, male attendant that supported me in my drunk stupor a thick smooch on the lips and told him that he was very gentle, kind, very attractive, and I loved him very much.

The rest of the night was a fog, but I woke up on Saturday morning in unknown surroundings and with a middle-aged Guatemalan lady with proper bosom surprising me with breakfast in bed and explaining to me how happy she was that her little Edmundo had finally found somebody that could make him happy.

Sometimes, faking left and darting right, as I had practiced a thousand times in races against Slappy towards the liquor cabinet, was an absolutely vital strategy.

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – 2B Baldwin – P Martinez
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – LF Cambra – RF Stephenson – C J. Young – SS W. Morris – 1B W. Aquino – 2B Sessoms – CF Creech – P Long

The no-hitter went out of the window on Vinny Diaz’ first-inning single, but at least Odilon guided a ball hit by Firmino Cambra into a double play and the Loggers remained off the board. The Coons didn’t getting three on with one out in the second inning after a Harenberg double, a walk drawn by Mora, and Pizzo’s soft single, and for a nice change actually scored. Baldwin scored two grounding up the middle for a single, and Martinez also got an RBI with a productive groundout, guiding home Pizzo for a 3-0 score before Stalker flew out to Josh Stephenson. Jamieson and Pizzo would be on the corners with one out in the fourth, but then both Baldwin and Martinez struck out. Martinez would shed the odd walk on the mound, but did not allow another base hit until Gabe Creech hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth. Martinez lacked strikeouts, allowing the Loggers to bring in the run with two productive outs, a Long bunt and then a Diaz sac fly. We clawed that run back in the top 7th on doubles by Baldwin (!) and Nunley, 4-1. Martinez got through the seventh, but was greeted rudely in the eighth with back-to-back doubles by Sessoms and Creech that got the Loggers back to 4-2 and the tying run to the plate in PH Taylor Canody. Garavito replaced Martinez, fell behind every batter he faced, but still managed to retire the Loggers on a liner to Baldwin hit by Canody, a Diaz grounder to short, and then a comebacker that Cambra hit. The Coons stranded another runner in the ninth, and then Boles was worryingly shaky. Stephenson grounded out, but then Young doubled to center and Morris hit an RBI single to bring the winning run to the plate for the Loggers. Wilson Aquino hit a 3-2 pitch to deep right, but Wilson Rodriguez got back to the track to catch the ball. Another full count came against Sessoms, and the Rookie of the Month succumbed to a 75mph curve that he helplessly flailed over. 4-3 Raccoons. Mora 2-3; Pizzo 2-4; Baldwin 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1; Martinez 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, W (5-2);

Back to three games over .500 now. We have yet to reach the lofty heights of being FOUR games over .500 this season!

…and … we wouldn’t this week. Sunday brought rain, and the game was postponed.

In other news

May 7 – IND C Juan Herrera (.258, 4 HR, 16 RBI) ends a 10-inning game with the Stars with a walkoff grand slam off DAL CL Alfredo Morua (2-2, 5.29 ERA, 9 SV), giving the Indians a 5-1 win.
May 8 – Vancouver’s Jeremy Truett (2-2, 3.25 ERA) 3-hits the Gold Sox in a 3-0 shutout.
May 9 – IND SP Andy Bressner (6-2, 3.07 ERA) 2-hits the Stars in a 7-0 Indians shutout. Bressner strikes out six.
May 9 – IND OF Leo Otero (.200, 0 HR, 2 RBI) is likely out for the season with a torn labrum.
May 10 – DEN INF Trey Rock (.291, 0 HR, 15 RBI) also could be out for the season with a torn labrum.

Complaints and stuff

Juan Berrios (1977) * Jason Turner (1989) * Manuel Movonda (1998) * Bob Joly (2000) * Jose Dominguez (2007) * Nick Brown (2016) * Jonathan Toner (2019) * Tom Shumway (2030)

What a list to be on!

Alberto Ramos will probably miss another game or two, but he will get back on the field by the middle of the week. The thumb is already only lemon size anymore. It looked like a pineapple on Wednesday morning. Then somebody, probably Nunley, tried to take a bite while everybody else slept.

We will be back in Milwaukee next month and then make up the postponed Sunday game in a double header on June 17. For now, next week will get us to New York and then all the way back to our coast, albeit considerably further south, visiting the Condors on the weekend. The road trip will only end after a stop in San Fran, and then we’ll play three against Vegas at home. That Aces series and the three games with Sacramento will be our only home games in May!

Fun Fact: We have the most no-hitters in all of the ABL!

Sometimes, life is just good.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:53 AM   #2833
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Okay! If we have some starting pitchers.......Uh, I cannot think of anything clever to say......

Well, anyways, last week, it looked like we might not have any and this week looks like we might have 3 or 4!

Stilled worried about the Menendez boy's parents, though......If he ever says that you've been like a father to him, run!

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Old 05-02-2019, 04:45 PM   #2834
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westheim View Post

Wednesday night Rico Gutierrez was constantly clamoring and screaming that his leg was going to fall off.

Thursday he walked around with a limp.

Friday the Druid reported he had a mild hamstring strain and would not even miss a start.

This team.
This is exactly what I envision every time one of my starters go down early in the game just to find out they're totally okay after...

Congrats on the no-hitter though!
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Old 05-02-2019, 04:45 PM   #2835
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The pitching is … volatile. But I still think we can pull this off. Bear with me.

And chant with me.

O-dilon! O-dilon! O-dilon! We pray to you!
O-dilon! O-dilon! O-dilon! We follow you!
O-dilon! O-dilon! O-dilon! We cherish you!
O-dilon! O-dilon! O-dilon! Please make all our pitchers get their ERA under three? That would be snacky!

I also looked up the Menendez reference now; I didn't know the name, but I heard of the story before, and I think Conan O'Brien recently had a skit where they showed them in some basketball card. I think that was not even photoshopped.

I can assure you though that our Menendez is fine. You remember that there were *two* Jose Menendezes in the league for a number of years? Maybe it's the other one!

You probably were not around then; they are both starting pitchers. I renamed the second, less successful one at the time, to J.J. to keep them apart, because they were also both in the CL South and at one point we played both of them in the same week. I think J.J. is still around, too.
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Old 05-03-2019, 06:29 PM   #2836
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Raccoons (20-17) @ Crusaders (13-24) – May 13-16, 2030

I was not quite able to figure out what exactly was going so heavily pear-shaped in New York, but they were quite easily getting pummeled. Not on the pitching side – their hurlers were allowing the fifth-most runs – but on the offensive side. They were absolutely atrocious with the stick, scoring merely 3.6 runs per game and the fewest in the Continental League. They were in the bottom three in all of batting average, on-base percentage, and power. They stole a few bases. The main problem was probably their front office, who thought they could get a struggling Doug Moffatt through waivers and promptly lost him to the retooling Scorpions on Monday morning. The Coons had won the season series in 2029, 10-8, and had won it four years running.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (3-2, 5.81 ERA) vs. Carlos Marron (0-0)
Jose Menendez (4-1, 3.43 ERA) vs. Ian Prevost (0-2, 2.51 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (1-2, 3.86 ERA) vs. Robby Gonzalez (1-3, 4.15 ERA)
Tom Shumway (2-2, 2.81 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (2-4, 3.81 ERA)

All righties here.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 3B Nunley – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – 2B Hereford – LF Jamieson – C Tovias – RF Gomez – P Roberts
NYC: RF Olszewski – 2B T. Fuentes – CF Coca – C Dear – 1B Jam. Richardson – 3B Czachor – LF N. Ayala – SS J. Brown – P Marron

Mark Roberts retired the first ten batters, whiffing five, before Tony Fuentes hit a 1-out single to center in the bottom of the fourth, which was in fact the first base knock for either team in the game. The Coons had gotten on Hereford with a walk and Jamieson by getting nicked in the second, but Elias Tovias had immediately hit into a double play, and Fuentes was also left on base in the fourth. Roberts got around a Ryan Czachor double in the fifth, but it took the Critters until the seventh inning to rob Carlos Marron in his first start of the season of the no-hitter… and then it was a 2-out roller on the infield that Rich Hereford managed to leg out for a 35-foot single. Jamieson grounded out to end the inning. Bottom 7th, Roberts got stuck. He walked Matt Dear in a full count, got PH Joe Cameron to lift one out to Rafael Gomez for the second out of the inning, but then nicked Czachor in another full count. His pitch count had reached 108 and the Crusaders sent Josh Stevenson, the ex-Coon, to bat for the left-handed Nelson Ayala. The Critters responded with Kevin Surginer, who secured a K to defuse the situation. Before long, he was also in line for the win, result of a solo shot to left by Gomez, sadly enough Rafael’s first dinger this season. Portland progressed with two more outs from Surginer, one from Mauricio Garavito, then sent Josh Boles into a game where either side had only two base knocks, and we would have wished for Josh to keep it that way, but after Team Tony – Fuentes and Coca – had made the first two outs, Matt Dear doubled to left. And on the very next pitch, Joe Cameron popped out. 1-0 Coons. Hereford 1-2, BB; Gomez 1-2, BB, HR, RBI; Roberts 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K;

That is now two games in a handful of days which we won 1-0 on a solo homer by a lower-third batter. I mean, a win is a win is a win, but…

BUT! Progress is inbound, because Alberto Ramos was back in the leadoff spot by Tuesday!

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – CF Mora – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – RF Gomez – C Pizzo – 2B Baldwin – P Menendez
NYC: LF Olszewski – C Dear – RF Jam. Richardson – CF Coca – 1B Moreira – 3B Czachor – 2B T. Fuentes – SS J. Brown – P Prevost

The no-offense show continued. Alberto Ramos led off with a single, then was picked off, and the Crusaders hit two singles in the bottom of the first, but wouldn’t score either. Nobody really did much of anything to show they had a pulse; Luis Moreira gave a ball a ride in the bottom 4th, but Hereford made the catch on the warning track, and the same fate befell Matt Dear in the fifth inning. Through five, three hits for Portland, four for New York, and they hadn’t touched third base since the opening inning. So that was what New York baseball was like these days? I remembered vividly the days where the Martin Brothers would destroy entire pitching staffs just by sneezing at them!

Top 6th, the Coons had something going, and it was of the softest variety. Harenberg was hit with two outs, and then Hereford legged out another infield roller and Gomez hit a clean single to center. That brought up the .214 batter Pizzo, who managed to poke a 1-2 pitch to left, but not well enough to give Drew Olszewski any sort of trouble, and three Critters were left stranded. Through seven innings, both teams had amounted to six base hits, but still no runs; Prevost was out of the game, having been replaced with Mike Baker after Ramos’ 2-out single in the top 7th, but Menendez was still around. Through seven, he had neither a walk nor a strikeout on his ledger, which was also a way to go about things. The game would go to overtime thanks to solid pitching by Brotman and Fleischer on our side, as well as Travis Giordano for the Crusaders. Giordano, a pretty stingy deep-end guy, had come into the series with an ERA over seven. But Giordano after a clean ninth walked Ramos to begin the tenth, and although the Crusaders knew what movie would be shown here, Ramos stole second base in a pitchout. Nunley doubled him home with a liner down the rightfield line, but then was left on base while the Crusaders navigated around the middle of the order. Boles sawed off the bottom of the order to put another squeaker into the books. 1-0 Blighters. Ramos 2-4, BB; Nunley 2-5, 2B, RBI; Harenberg 1-2, 2 BB; Menendez 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

You know, we moved into a virtual tie for first place with this particular win, but slowly but surely, three 1-0 wins in the last four games have me a tad worried…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – RF Hereford – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – CF Magallanes – P Gutierrez
NYC: RF Olszewski – LF J. Stevenson – CF Coca – C Dear – 1B Jam. Richardson – 2B T: Fuentes – 3B J. Cameron – SS J. Brown – P R. Gonzalez

The Critters’ daily run came in the third inning this time out, with Stalker singling home Ramos, who had hit a hustle double with two outs. This followed Ramos’ leadoff single in the first, but then the Crusaders had actually caught him stealing. And while Rico Gutierrez began the game with three innings of 1-hit ball, unfortunately the fourth inning developed into a bit of trauma. Josh Stevenson led off with a looper that fell into right, bounced over the glove of the sliding Hereford, and then Stevenson pulled something hustling, then limping into second base. Nelson Ayala replaced him. Tony Coca lined a ball at Stalker, who dropped the ball, booted it, and was charged an error, and now the Crusaders had them on the corners with nobody out. Rico wavered, walked Dear, and we knew that this one was going to slinger out of control very soon. Jamie Richardson singled to left, plating two, and another run scored on Fuentes’ RBI single. Magallanes threw home in attempt to nip Matt Dear the plate, but the throw was so late and so bad that it instead allowed the other Crusaders runners to advance, then score on Cameron’s sac fly, and regrettably also a 2-out RBI single by Gonzalez. When the dust settled following Olszewski’s fly to Hereford, the Crusaders were up 5-1, or as they called it, a week’s worth.

The Raccoons made up one run in the top 6th, which could have given them so much more after leadoff singles by Ramos and Stalker, as well as a fielding gaffe by Olszewski, who overran Stalker’s ball and allowed the two into scoring position with nobody out. Nunley grounded out to third base, Harenberg hit an RBI single, and then Hereford jacked a ball into a double play. Bottom 6th, Rico nailed leadoff man Tony Fuentes and was yanked, and nothing got better with Matt Stonecipher. Cameron grounded out, moving the runner to second, Stonecipher walked Josh Brown, and when Gonzalez dropped down a bunt, Pizzo threw that one over the head of Nunley in a vain attempt to get the lead runner, who instead scored on the 2-base throwing error. Billy Brotman ended the inning with a pop and a whiff without allowing any more runs, but 6-2 was bad enough. Another run fell out of Chris Wise in the seventh; the rookie walked the first two batters and couldn’t back up his boldness with strikeouts. Top 8th, Tovias led off with a single to right, and Ramos also hit one there. Gonzalez lost Stalker on balls, which put three on with nobody out, but it wasn’t like the Critters would score in such a situation. Nevertheless, the Crusaders casually got the pen going. Matt Nunley hit a liner to center, Tony Coca made the catch, Tovias was sent and thrown out after moving at glacial pace, and then righty Mike Baker got a pop from Harenberg to strand the remaining Critters, and they would not get another chance in this game… 7-2 Crusaders. Ramos 4-4, 2B; Stalker 2-3, BB, RBI; Hereford 2-4, 2B; Mora (PH) 1-1; Tovias 1-1;

Wickedly, the Elks and Titans lost their games to the Indians and Loggers. This created a FOUR-WAY tie for the lead in the division, at least of the virtual sort. The Loggers and Elks tied at 21-17, the Titans and Coons joining in at 22-18.

This is too cuddly – I long to break free!

To aid us in the quest, the Coons made a roster change. Wilson Rodriguez (.231 with no homers) was sent to AAA and we recalled Ryan Allan. I was really worried about Matt Jamieson’s .210 bat though…

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – RF Hereford – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – C Tovias – P Shumway
NYC: 2B Hurtado – SS T. Fuentes – C Dear – LF Olszweski – 3B Czachor – 1B N. Ayala – CF Henneberry – RF Jam. Richardson – P Roofener

The Crusaders made a switch in the pitching assignment, giving a start to right-hander Keith Roofener (1-1, 2.79 ERA) in this game. Roofener struck out four of the first five Coons, then walked Mora and Jamieson, but Elias Tovias was more or less a hollow husk stuffed with disappointment at this stage of his career and popped out, then lost a Shumway offering with two outs and runners in scoring position in the bottom 2nd that allowed the Crusaders to bring Drew Olszewski across with the game’s first run. Jamie Richardson then struck out to end the inning. That was the only run through five innings, too, and even worse, the Raccoons for the second time in the series were still chasing their first base hit against the spot starter Roofener…

It rained on and off in the middle innings, but that also didn’t help the Critters decipher Roofener, who kept carrying a no-hitter through six, through seven. It took the Furballs until the eighth inning to drop in a 1-out single; Jamieson did the honors. Tovias hit into a fielder’s choice, but that he still remained at first base with two down was reason enough to send a once-upon-a-time power hitter to the plate rather than Shumway; Rafael Gomez struck out. The bottom of the eighth inning saw a major explosion rock the park as Jonathan Fleischer and Mauricio Garavito got absolutely destroyed. Fleischer allowed four hits and as many runs; Garavito allowed three more hits, including a bases-clearing 2-out double to grizzled veteran Wade White, and an RBI triple to debutee Rob Henneberry after that, and three runs. Henneberry had opened the inning with a double off Fleischer. Not too ****ty for a first major league game… ****ty remained the Coons, though, tumbling into another numb defeat. Though they did so in style and with rubbing it in: two down in the ninth, Rich Hereford scored Pizzo and Nunley with a 3-run homer to right. Good job, boys. Good job. 8-3 Crusaders. Pizzo (PH) 1-1; Jamieson 1-2, BB; Shumway 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, L (2-3);

Let’s just say I am none too happy with the way the offense has looked the last five, six games…

Raccoons (22-19) @ Condors (27-15) – May 17-19, 2030

Oh bother – an actual baseball team. The Condors sat fifth in runs scored, but allowed the second-fewest runs in the league. Their rotation was the best with a collective 2.90 ERA, and I did not see the Raccoons get back on the horse in this series… We had lost the season series against the reigning champions Condors, 4-5, in each of the last two seasons.

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (5-2, 2.80 ERA) vs. George Griffin (1-2, 2.40 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-2, 5.10 ERA) vs. Adam Potter (5-0, 3.33 ERA)
Jose Menendez (4-1, 2.96 ERA) vs. Jeff Little (2-1, 3.25 ERA)

Southpaw on Sunday; the Condors lacked any sort of injuries as well as any sort of power. They had the fewest dingers in the league, although cheatster fraud Shane Sanks already had seven on his account.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – RF Allan – C Tovias – P Martinez
TIJ: CF C. Murphy – C Zarate – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – SS C. Miller – LF Braun – RF Camps – 2B D. Williams – P Griffin

The Raccoons had three runners in the first, with Stalker and Hereford hitting singles after Ramos had popped out, but Harenberg hit into a fielder’s choice, and after Mora walked, Jamieson grounded out poorly to short. Shane Sanks, whom I hated more than words could say, hit a first-inning double, but was stranded, and when Odilon made Dave Martinez nail consecutive hitters with Adam Braun and Juan Camps in the bottom 2nd, Dan Williams hit into a double play. While the Coons stranded Rich Hereford, who singled and stole second, in the top of the third, the Condors had a little 2-out rally in the bottom of the third. Danny Zarate singled off Martinez, who lost Sanks on straight balls. Kevin McGrath murdered a pitch to right, but didn’t get the angle correctly and it fell in front of Ryan Allan for a single. Zarate had been moving with the pitch and scored the game’s first run. Chris Miller then flew out easily to Allan to strand the other two.

Top 4th, line drive singles by Matt Jamieson and Ryan Allan had something stirring on the bases with nobody out. Elias Tovias was up next, a career 99 OPS+ batter now after years of mediocrity. He struck out blindly hacking… Martinez bunted over the runners professionally before Ramos ran a 3-1 count with two outs. Instead of just letting him go and try their luck with Tim Stalker, who was certainly not hot, Griffin tried to get him out… and wouldn’t. Ramos lined to right-center for a 2-out single, and the score was flipped. Then he was caught stealing… The lead didn’t last long, either. Martinez had a lapse of ability in the bottom 4th, walked Camps and Williams on eight straight balls, and surrendered the runs on a 2-out double by Chris Murphy before Zarate fouled out… That was not the last lead blown in this game, either: Tim Stalker led off the fifth with a triple over Murphy in center, scored on Hereford’s groundout to tie it up, and with two down Abel Mora hit a jack to right, putting the Coons 4-3 ahead. Too bad though that Martinez kept issuing 4-pitch walks… he gave out another one to Sanks to start the bottom 5th (ugh!), and while Miller eventually ended the inning with a double play grounder to Hereford, Martinez had needed 92 pitches, mostly messy, through five. He’d make it through six, barely, issuing a 4-pitch walk (!) to Camps, who was caught stealing, and Williams struck out to complete the inning. That would be it for Martinez.

After a clean inning by Fleischer, the Coons faced George Barnett, a righty with a 2.04 ERA in the eighth. Jamieson led off with a single to left, and that posed a conundrum of whether to have Allan bunt, but that would bring up Tovias with one out, and then the pitcher’s spot. Nah, Allan got the swing sign, swung for a neat single to right, and Camps had to chase it down a bit into foul ground, allowing Jamieson to go to third base. Tovias poked the first pitch back to the pitcher, and was not doubled up solely because Barnett at first ducked under the bouncer, that hit his glove and bounced to the back of the mound. It was enough to get Allan at second, but not two. Pizzo batted for Fleischer – between our two lefty bats (the other being Nunley) on the bench, Pizzo probably still had a bit more power, and both were prone to the ol’ 6-4-3 trick. Pizzo struck out instead, Ramos grounded out to first, and nobody scored… Boys!! Goddamnit!! Of course this had to have repercussions. Kevin Surginer fell apart in the eighth with a leadoff single by ****ing Shane Sanks, a walk issued to McGrath, and then finally after a Miller groundout a 2-run single to right by Adam Braun. Jose Fuentes erased the Coons in the ninth. 5-4 Condors. Stalker 2-5, 3B; Hereford 2-5, RBI; Allan 3-4;

(stems fists into his sides and blows heavily out of his mouth)

Nope, no idea how to get them to score runs…

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – CF Mora – RF Allan – C Pizzo – P Roberts
TIJ: SS C. Miller – RF Camps – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – LF Braun – CF Denzler – C Dehne – 2B D. Williams – P Potter

Pizzo whiffed to strand Mora and Allan in the second, but Ramos and Stalker got a pair of 1-out singles in the third inning. Ramos bid for third base when Stalker singled, Joel Denzler tried to unleash a throw, but it was nowhere near enough and also got away on the infield while Stalker scurried into second base. Nunley and Harenberg both struck out (sigh!)… but not until after Potter had thrown a Ramos-plating wild pitch. Whatever works! Mark Roberts faced the minimum the first time through, whiffing four, which included giving up a single to Juan Camps in the first, after which Sanks hit into a double play. Ha-hah! I hate you…

Camps reached with an infield single in the fourth, but Sanks and McGrath both popped out. The Raccoons took til the sixth to land another pair of base hits; Nunley hit a 1-out single to right, and Harenberg found the gap between Denzler and Camps for a double, which brought up Hereford with runners in scoring position. Rich hit a fly to right that looked neat, but was caught by Camps, however it was deep enough to get Nunley home. Abel Mora legged out a grounder for 2-out infield single against the so-so infield defense (but the outfield defense was top notch), presenting the .625 monster Allan with a chance, but he flew out to center, and another pair was frustratingly stranded and the score remained a tense 2-0. So Dan Williams’ leadoff single to left in the bottom 6th was not exactly comforting, but Roberts had yet to allow a scary deep fly, so maybe – yikes, Juan Camps with a 2-out scary deep fly to right! Allan caught it on the track, and the Coons remained up 2-0. It all began to fall apart in the bottom 7th, though. Sanks struck out, but then McGrath, Braun, and Denzler hit straight singles, plating a run and moving the other runners into scoring position with one down when Mora threw home for no greater good on Denzler’s bloop single. Matt Dehne ran a full count before popping out, after which the Condors sent .328 batter Ken Kramer, a sophomore that had not left any impression on us in the past, to hit for Williams with two outs. He was also a switch-hitter, and the Raccoons were positively out of clue what to do. We asked Roberts whether he could retire the little ****. Roberts answered in the affirmative. Then he struck out the little ****, keeping his 2-1 lead alive.

After three fast and sad outs in the top 8th, Roberts came back to the mound in the bottom 8th, but left it without retiring a batter and also left a total mess to Kevin Surginer, who was supposed to clean up Chris Murphy on third after doubling, and Chris Miller on first after singling, with nobody out. He couldn’t do it. Camps hit a mighty fly to right, that was nevertheless caught, but deep enough to tie the score. Sanks hit to short for a force at second base, McGrath struck out, but where were the Coons supposed to get another run? Mora and Allan would have singles off closer Jose Fuentes in the ninth, but Pizzo hit into a fielder’s choice and Jamieson grounded out to Sanks to end the inning. Stonecipher sent the game to extras with a clean ninth, and extended it further with a less clean tenth, with McGrath grounding out to Nunley with Zarate stranded in scoring position. Top 11th, lefty Ethan Jordan pitching for Tijuana. He dropped McGrath’s feed on Harenberg’s poor grounder to begin the inning, which brought on Baldwin as pinch-runner. It helped nothing; Hereford struck out and Mora hit into a double play. That was the final inning of the game; Chris Wise came on in the bottom 11th, allowed a single to Omar Larios and then two walks, and after he was yanked it was too late for Jonathan Fleischer to do anything. He surrendered the game on a walkoff single by Miller. 3-2 Condors. Mora 2-4, BB; Allan 2-4; Roberts 7.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K; Stonecipher 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K;

Chris Wise, who walked everybody and their mother (7 BB in 5.1 IP) was kicked in the ass all the way to the nearest bus terminal. At the same time, Ricky Ohl was activated from the DL.

No wonder that the one time we managed to get a top 100 prospect from anybody, he immediately turned out to be a turd…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – C Tovias – CF Baldwin – RF Gomez – P Menendez
TIJ: RF Camps – C Zarate – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – LF Braun – CF Denzler – SS Bross – 2B D. Williams – P Little

The Coons had to resort to politely ask Jose Menendez to stop all the losing with a gem. To aid in the quest, the Raccoons scored a few (!) runs in the first inning. Ramos singled, scored on Stalker’s double, and Hereford singled to get the Coons up to 2-0. The heights didn’t get loftier, though, with he 4-5-6 batters all making quick outs. Menendez did his very best pitching to poor contact, and did line up a few zeroes, which was not a bad strategy with the way Little was cranking up the K’s after the initial onslaught. He struck out seven through four innings, while himself being the only strikeout on Menendez’ ledger. Zarate and Sanks reached with two outs in the bottom 3rd, but McGrath flew out to center to keep them on, and things did not look entirely bleak on the pitching side for now. They did on the hitting side, though. Ramos hit a 2-out single in the fifth, stole second, Stalker drew a walk, and then Hereford easily flew out to center. Can’t anybody on this team whack a 3-run homer that actually matters??

On command, the Condors reared their ugly beaks. Dan Williams led off the fifth with a double over Hereford’s head, was bunted to third, and while Menendez whiffed(!) Camps, Danny Zarate hit a 2-out bloop single to get Tijuana on the board. Sanks grounded out, but I had a hunch that this game would still end with a 5-game losing streak for the Raccoons.

The good thing about Little from the opposition’s standpoint was his low stamina. He didn’t get through the sixth, running out of steam until Tovias hit a 2-out double off him. Right-hander Zhuo-Cheng Li replaced him and got Chris Baldwin to pop out, ending the inning. No offense was coming forth, ever again! Menendez maneuvered into the bottom of the eighth, got Zarate, but after that the Coons made the call to bring on Ricky Ohl against Sanks and McGrath. Ohl’s second pitch was put in the gap by Sanks, the revolting skunk weasel, and I closed my eyes, waiting for the fans to roar. They didn’t. McGrath and Braun both popped out on just three more pitches, and the Coons continued to nurse their 2-1 lead, having made 24 outs since scoring their runs.

Top 9th, lefty Ethan Jordan still on after having pitched the eighth. Baldwin singled to left, and then Gomez flew to center. Denzler might have misjudged it, but the ball beat him to the warning track and Gomez cruised in with a double. That brought up Nunley – who had entered along with Ohl and Jamieson’s expense in the previous half-inning – to the plate with no outs and runners in scoring position. He fell to 0-2, then slapped a pitch over Jordan and up the middle, Dave Bross missed it narrowly, and the Coons had an RBI single, FINALLY. Ramos hit a sac fly for the second and final run of the inning, and then the 4-1 edge was off to Josh Boles. He axed Denzler, Bross, and Williams in order. 4-1 Raccoons! Ramos 2-3, BB, RBI; Nunley 1-1, RBI; Menendez 7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, W (5-1);

In other news

May 13 – The Buffaloes not only blow a 2-1 lead over the Capitals in the ninth; they *blow* it. Washington scores 11 runs in the ninth inning in a real team effort, burying the Buffaloes pen in a 12-2 rout.
May 15 – MIL C Jim Young (.239, 5 HR, 20 RBI) and the rest of the Loggers beat the Titans, 8-4 in 14 innings, on Young’s walkoff grand slam off Javy Salomon (2-2, 7.42 ERA). Young has a total of six RBI on two home runs in the game.
May 17 – CIN SP Danny Soto (1-2, 4.98 ERA) and CIN CL Vince Devereaux (0-4, 5.23 ERA, 7 SV) pitch a combined no-hitter in a 6-1 win over the Warriors. Soto is yanked with complete exhaustion after issuing three straight walks and surrendering a pretty deep sac fly to SFW LF/RF/1B Jon Correa (.176, 2 HR, 14 RBI) in the ninth inning.
May 17 – The Buffaloes’ Jose Lerma (7-0, 2.14 ERA) aces his way to a 3-hit shutout of the Scorpions in which he strikes out 11 batters. Topeka wins 3-0.
May 18 – After the Rebels score four in the top 9th to break a 1-1 tie with the Gold Sox, Denver rallies back to snatch a 7-5 win, the 6-run bottom-of-the-ninth rally capped by 1B Travis Zitzner (.228, 4 HR, 19 RBI) hitting a 3-run home run off RIC CL Mike Tandy (2-3, 6.89 ERA, 7 SV) to walk off his team.
May 18 – SAC SS/3B Michael Crabtree (.310, 3 HR, 15 RBI) has four hits and as many RBI in a 13-5 Scorpions win over the Buffaloes.
May 19 – The Loggers smother the Bayhawks, 18-2, with C Jim Young (.257, 6 HR, 25 RBI) chipping in three base hits and five runs driven in.
May 19 – BOS OF Willie Vega (.310, 2 HR, 13 RBI) will miss three months with a broken ankle.

Complaints and stuff

Anybody remember that I tried to trade for Jim Young?

As long as the Loggers are in first place, I claim that it is all just a fluke and that we are also much better than a .523 team. Everybody needs their hook of hope – mine is that the Loggers can’t reasonably be first in May and that thus things will shake themselves out down the road.

But we have fallen to eighth in runs scored, and this was a wholly horrendous week for hitting… my bidding to Odilon does not seem to work. Martinez says I must become a true reliever for Odilon to open his ear to me. But I only belief in a bloop, a walk, and a 3-run homer! This ain’t gonna work…

Matt Huf signed a 7-year extension worth almost $21M with the Bayhawks this week. I consider this overpaying for a pitcher with a 3.86 career ERA. He was of course also part of the Mark Roberts / Jon Gonzalez deal back in 2023.

Fun Fact: The Soto/Devereaux no-hitter is the first combined no-hitter in the ABL in almost seven years.

It is also the second consecutive combined no-hitter to feature a former Raccoons believer. Ron Thrasher had a hand along with Chris Klein in the Titans’ combined no-hitter over the Stars on August 13, 2023.

The Warriors have been on the receiving end of all but the 2023 combined no-hitters that the ABL has recognized.*

*Since OOTP does not report combined no-hitters, there may have been some that passed me by prior to me going through all the line scores since about 2000 or so.
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Raccoons (23-21) @ Bayhawks (16-27) – May 21-23, 2030

Few things had ever gone well at the Bay, the final station of this 4-city road trip, for the Raccoons, who still had to face the last-place Baybirds in a 3-game set. The Raccoons hadn’t won the season series for three years in a row, losing six games apiece each of the last two seasons. They would get a new hack at it against a team ranking in the bottom three in both runs scored and runs allowed, so their last-place bid was apparently genuine. Their rotation was second from the bottom in ERA, as was their pen’s. Their defense was also called into question, and they were unable to show many nice statistics at all…

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (1-3, 4.22 ERA) vs. Ben Lipsky (3-4, 5.83 ERA)
Tom Shumway (2-3, 2.62 ERA) vs. Matt Huf (2-4, 3.98 ERA)
Dave Martinez (5-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. Gilberto Rendon (1-2, 3.20 ERA)

Three right-handers here, and the Bayhawks didn’t have anything else to offer. It should also be worth noting that with Monday off either team had a chance to skip somebody if they so desired.

The Coons also had to be weary with Mike Pizzo feeling under the weather coming into this series. He was listed as day-to-day officially, “sickly” among insiders, but would be available to pinch-hit if need be.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – CF Mora – RF Gomez – C Tovias – P Gutierrez
SFB: LF Balado – CF Hawthorne – RF C. Martinez – SS Pulido – 3B Jon. Morales – C Carpenter – 1B I. Pena – 2B J. Cruz – P Lipsky

The Raccoons logged their first defensive out at home plate, which was always such a great sign that things were definitely going to improve very soon. Rico Gutierrez, who faced a mostly right-handed lineup, surrendered a leadoff single to Jose Balado, who ran past an indifferent third base coach on George Hawthorne’s double to the warning track behind Rafael Gomez, but find himself thrown out on Stalker’s relay to home plate, and Cesar Martinez and Jose Pulido ended the inning without any meaningful damage incurred by Rico. In turn the top 2nd saw three on and no outs after singles by Harenberg and Hereford past either side of keystone guardian Jose Cruz, a wild pitch, then a walk onto the open base drawn by Abel Mora. Lipsky got Gomez to 1-2, but couldn’t put him away quite. He threw a 95mph fastball into the fat zone of the struggling Gomez, and the ball was crushed some 430 feet to left-center. GRAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!

In a perfect world, the sizable cushion would have helped to calm Rico Gutierrez down, but the opposite was the truth. He kept hanging balls, he kept missing the zone, and the Bayhawks kept crowding him, but they didn’t get onto the board until the fourth inning. Then they did so in force with back-to-back doubles by Eric Carpenter and Ivan Pena, then a pinch-hit RBI single by Vincent Pacheco that also gave Lipsky an early exit. There were just too many balls falling in against Rico, who crawled through five and looked like an exit in the near future, too, at least until Elias Tovias provided length with a 2-run homer off Adam Hicklin over the rightfield wall in the sixth inning. That one scored an unretired Rafael Gomez and ran the tally to 6-2. Nevertheless, Rico got yanked in the bottom 6th, courtesy of a walk issued to Pena, then a 2-out RBI triple (and nearly a dinger) by PH Tomas Caraballo – both left-handed batters! Kevin Surginer replaced Gutierrez in fanning the flames rather than batters. He walked Jose Balado on four pitches, allowed a Hawthorne single up the middle that cut the lead to 6-4, then 6-5 once Abel Mora threw away the ball trying to nip Balado at third base. Martinez walked, and somehow Pulido hacked himself out to strand men in scoring position in a 6-5 game. The Coons proceeded to the seventh, with Jonathan Morales hitting a leadoff single off Surginer before being caught stealing. Brotman came on with two outs specifically for Pena, whom he nailed in the hip, and then somehow got a grounder to short from right-handed .323 hitter Ron Raynor in Cruz’ spot. Who’d blink next? Turned out, it was Marcus Owens, the righty the Bayhawks put into the ninth. He whiffed Tovias, then walked PH Juan Magallanes. Ramos singled, and Stalker zinged a ball into the corner in deep left, plating both runners, 8-5. Harenberg would drive in Stalker with two down, and that took the ball out of Boles’ paw and into Stonecipher’s… at least until the erratic sophomore walked a pair with two outs. Boles eviscerated Pena on strikes to end the game. 9-5 Coons. Stalker 2-5, 2 RBI; Harenberg 3-5, 2B, RBI; Gomez 3-4, HR, 4 RBI; Magallanes (PH) 0-0, BB;

Not a *pretty* win, but I’ll take any win I can right now…

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – RF Gomez – C Tovias – P Shumway
SFB: LF Balado – CF Hawthorne – 1B Caraballo – RF C. Martinez – SS Pulido – 3B Jon. Morales – C Carpenter – 2B J. Cruz – P G. Rendon

No no-no today for Shumway, who allowed a single to Pulido in the second inning, but seemed fine at least until he issued a leadoff walk to Jose Cruz in the bottom 3rd, then had Tovias throw away Rendon’s bunt for two bases. Rendon was a surprise insertion into this game rather than a slice of Matt Huf, the $21M boy, but most major league franchises are assumed to be run by adults, so the Baybirds were probably knowing that they were doing – Rendon was perfect at this point, and now was parked up at second base trailing Cruz with no outs. He ended up stranded at third, with Shumway allowing only the lead run in a sequence of striking out Balado, allowing an RBI single to Hawthorne, getting a pop from Caraballo, walking Martinez in disheartening fashion, but then whiffing up Pulido with the sacks full. He would however never regain his control in the game, and struggled through six innings of messy pitches, missed location, and scorched line drive singles… and that 2-run homer that Morales hit off him in the sixth. That one put Portland in a 3-0 hole. Harenberg and Mora had hit leadoff singles in the fifth, hadn’t touched third base however (because why would they…?) for Jamieson’s pop fly out and Gomez hitting into a double play, and they only found more double play embarrassment, like Harenberg erasing Nunley’s leadoff walk in the seventh with a perfect feed to Pulido. Nope, the Raccoons were trundling towards another sad and pathetic loss. Garavito walked the only guy he faced, PH Vincent Pacheco, in the bottom 7th, and Fleischer served up a 2-run bomb to Caraballo after that.

It only got worse from here. Down 5-0, Gomez hit a leadoff single in the eighth before Tovias was struck in the ankle (!) by righty Mike Bass. That would get the sickly Pizzo into the game one way or another because Tovias failed to firmly plant his hindpaw afterwards… Ryan Allan ran for him, Rich Hereford batted for Fleischer, looked at strike three, and Ramos flew out to center. Tim Stalker accidentally, one must assume, singled home a run with two outs, which prompted Bass’ removal for southpaw J.J. Rodd, who managed to surrender a 2-out RBI infield single to Matt Nunley, bringing up Harenberg as the tying run, which was also guaranteed to choke up any momentum for the Raccoons’ offense. Harenberg fouled out behind home plate. Pizzo, who looked like actual death, had to catch the eighth inning and Matt Stonecipher in particular, which worked to the tune of a leadoff walk, a Harenberg error, and almost a pinch-hit 3-run homer by Pena, but Mora made the catch on the hanging drive at the fence in center. Mora in turn was robbed by Balado in the ninth. At least Pizzo didn’t have to grad a bat to the box thanks to the Coons going down in order… 5-2 Bayhawks. Mora 2-4;

The Druid taped Tovias’ balking ankle, cooked up some absolutely horrendous stew for Pizzo that he had to lie in overnight, and we managed to get at least one of them strapped up for the rubber game…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – RF Hereford – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – 2B Baldwin – P D. Martinez
SFB: LF Balado – CF Hawthorne – 1B Caraballo – RF C. Martinez – SS Pulido – 3B Jon .Morales – C V. Ayala – 2B J. Cruz – P Huf

After two sad innings batting by the road team and Caraballo taking Martinez deep to right for a 1-0 San Fran lead right in the opening frame, the Coons brought Ramos to the plate with three on and no outs on having done next to nothing to merit the situation. Pizzo, weak like a kitten, didn’t feel like swinging and walked on four pitches. Baldwin, who couldn’t tell balls from strikes anyway, walked on another four pitches. Martinez bunted badly, but Huf’s throw to third base was worse and pulled Morales well off the base for a throwing error. From here, the horror took over again. No Raccoon would put another ball in play in the inning. Ramos walked to force home the go-ahead run, and the next three struck out, struck out, aaand … fouled out behind home plate again! Top 4th, Rich Hereford led off with a double that actually also got Portland into the H column, then kept festering at second base. Jamieson popped out. Pizzo drew another clumsy walk, and Huf also lost Baldwin on balls AGAIN, but now with three on the pitcher batted rather than Ramos. Dave Martinez got the double-barrelled shotgun sign, meaning the hitting coach took aim at him with a double-barrelled shotgun, and was not allowed to poke until he got at least one strike. Huf managed to throw a strike to a frozen pitcher on his second attempt. Martinez then did poke at the very next pitch, rolled it pathetically near the third base line, Huf hustled over to try to nip an evading Rich Hereford, then threw to first after all – late! Go-ahead infield single! This was the beginning of the end for Huf, who surrendered an RBI single to Ramos, 3-1, then a bases-clearing gapper to Mora, 6-1, and was yanked. Alex Cordova allowed the seventh run on his ledger, too, with a sharp RBI single off Nunley’s bat, and now we saw no reason why Dave Martinez would not finish this game with the way he was pitching, which always involved generating early poor contact – through four innings in this game, he only threw 43 pitches. …and then needed 44 for the next two, allowing two hits, two walks, and a run along the way… The Coons, who stopped their offensive ambitions entirely after the 6-run fourth, had to console themselves with seven and two thirds from Martinez, who was knocked out by Victor Ayala’s RBI double on his 109th pitch. That double made it 7-3, and the Critters went to the pen. Billy Brotman got them out of the inning, but then was batted for in the ninth when another three-on situation transpired with one out. Adam Hicklin allowed a walk to Jamieson, a single to Pizzo, then nicked Baldwin. Ryan Allan batted for Brotman in the hope of blowing the doors off this game and singled to left to bring in a run, 8-3. Ramos then hit a fly to left that beat Balado for a 2-run double, and the same then happened on the other wing for Mora, except that Cesar Martinez also bounced off the near sidewall and had to chase down the ball in the depths of rightfield (370 feet!), allowing for a 2-run triple. Harenberg would give the Coons their second 6-spot in the game with a sac fly after Nunley had walked against new pitcher Alex Lopez, after which the inning fizzled out. The Baybirds scored one run off Fleischer in the bottom 9th thanks to a Balado triple, but were otherwise soundly smothered. 13-4 Furballs. Ramos 2-3, 3 BB, 2B, 4 RBI; Mora 2-6, 3B, 2B, 5 RBI; Pizzo 2-3, 2 BB; Allan (PH) 1-1, RBI; Martinez 7.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, W (6-2) and 1-3, RBI;

This series win put the Coons one game behind a virtual three-way tie for first place. There were worse spots to be in. Isn’t that right, Crusaders?

Raccoons (25-22) vs. Aces (21-24) – May 24-26, 2030

Here was another team that sat in the bottom three in runs scored in the CL, but that hadn’t held the Baybirds from plating 14 runs in three games. The Aces however actually had sound pitching, tied for third in fewest runs conceded, and it was actually their pen that was their main strength compared to a run-of-the-mill rotation. They were also 2-1 against the Raccoons this year.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (3-2, 4.82 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (4-4, 3.56 ERA)
Jose Menendez (5-1, 2.75 ERA) vs. Abramo Archibugi (3-4, 3.09 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-3, 4.67 ERA) vs. Alex Ortiz (3-2, 2.88 ERA)

Archibugi figured to be the only left-handed opposition for this week. To balance the five righties we faced once more this week, dear owner Nick Valdes would watch the series opener while whispering into my left ear.

Game 1
LVA: RF Crow – LF Dunlap – 1B Ra. Tello – 3B Hawkins – CF Lynch – C Scheffer – SS Reece – 2B Casillas – P Guyett
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – RF Hereford – CF Mora – C Pizzo – LF Allan – P Roberts

Both first basemen hit an early solo homer to give everybody a 1-1 tie early on, but there was also the odd hint or two that it could easily devolve into one of those Roberts-smacking rounds, f.e. with a triple by light-hitting shortstop Gavin Reece off the centerfield fence. But Portland took the lead in the bottom 3rd by clawing and scratching. Ramos hit a 1-out single, stole second, went to third on a soft single to right by Stalker, then came home on a sac fly by Nunley. After this, Guyett lost Harenberg on balls, Hereford on an infield grounder nobody could dig out, and then he walked Mora with two outs and the bases loaded to push home a run, 3-1. Guyett couldn’t get it righted – Pizzo singled hard up the middle to plate two runs, Allan drew a walk, and then Ramon Tello couldn’t get leather on Mark Roberts’ bouncer over the first base bag that escaped up the line for a 2-run single, 7-1. Ramos chucked an RBI single to knock out Guyett in an 8-1 game. The Aces brought on left-hander Casey McQueen in hope of gaining length, but before McQueen could see a lefty batter, he had to face Stalker… who hit another sharp RBI single, 9-1. Nunley flew out to left to end an 8-run massacre.

Of course it was now all on Roberts to get himself a W by not getting blown up himself. He retired Vegas in order in the fourth, but allowed a run in the fifth by hitting Tony Casillas, who got bunted over and scored on Andy Crow’s 2-out single. He ended up lasting only six and a third, issuing 104 pitches, the last of which Reece singled on. Stonecipher took over, threw a wild pitch, issued two walks, and somehow got out of the inning without blowing up completely when Crow struck out and Tom Dunlap bounced out to Stalker to strand three. However, he retired nobody in the eighth; Tello singled, Hawkins walked, Kevin Lynch singled, and the bags were full with nobody out. Ricky Ohl got out of the inning while surrendering only one run on Philip Scheffer’s sac fly, and Garavito would collect the last outs in the ninth. 9-3 Furballs. Stalker 3-5, RBI; Harenberg 2-4, HR, RBI; Roberts 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (4-2) and 2-3, 2 RBI;

The Raccoons made a roster move after this game, sending Matt Stonecipher to St. Petersburg. His ERA was only 3.13, but he had now reached a point where he had walked 23 batters in 23 innings, and his antics were no longer tenable. He had walked 35 batters in 51 innings last year, which was bad enough. 23 in 23 was way too bad. Sean Rigg, with a 3.86 ERA in St. Pete, was called back up.

Unfortunately, Nick Valdes didn’t get all done rearranging the lockers and their contents alphabetically in the clubhouse on Saturday morning and would hang around for another game… again whispering into my left ear.

Game 2
LVA: SS Reece – LF Dunlap – 1B Barrientos – 3B Hawkins – CF Vanatti – C Scheffer – 2B Casillas – P Archibugi – RF Crow
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Jamieson – C Tovias – RF Gomez – CF Magallanes – P Menendez

Annoyingly, the Aces batting the pitcher eighth did not hurt them in the second inning when a single and a walk put runners on the corners with two outs and brought up the southpaw hurler. Archibugi coolly ticked a 1-0 pitch into shallow right for an RBI single, the first marker on the scoreboard, before Andy Crow popped out to strand two. Also annoying was the weather – before long it rained and we had a 45-minute rain delay. Menendez was none the better when the game emerged on the other side and surrendered another run on another hit-and-walk pair, then a productive groundout by Tom Hawkins in the top of the third. The Coons mirrored the feat somewhat in the bottom 3rd; after Archibugi had sat down the first six Critters to face him, Gomez hit a leadoff single, Magallanes walked, Menendez bunted them over, but then the Coons were limited to a run on Ramos’ groundout. Stalker flew out to Joe Vanatti.

Archibugi doubled off Menendez in the fourth, making our hurler look even worse, but the rest of the crew wouldn’t pick their own tosser up. The Coons loaded the bases in the bottom 4th as Harenberg and Jamieson hit singles and Gomez walked with two down, but Magallanes meekly popped out. Menendez lasted only five, a combo of the rain delay and having been absolutely not sharp even before that, and conceded another run in the top of the fifth. Gavin Reece hit a leadoff single, stole second, and was moved around on two productive outs, very much akin to the Ramos Special. Top 6th, Billy Brotman got rolled up with a Scheffer single, a walk issued to Casillas, and then the extremely annoying Archibugi’s third hit of the day, a single to right that loaded the bags with one out. Surginer replaced him, struck out Crow and Reece to get out of it, but that still didn’t make the offense go, and the Coons went down harmlessly in the bottom of the sixth.

…but not the seventh. Gomez led off with a single to right, and then Magallanes rammed a bouncer through Tom Hawkins for a double up the line. That put the tying runs in scoring position with nobody out, and Nunley would hit for Garavito with an RBI chance. He hit a 1-1 pitch really hard, a liner to right, and right at Crow for the first out. Gomez shied back, and Ramos was half-heartedly walked like they didn’t care, setting up a double play chance with Tim Stalker coming up. Stalker hit a fly to shallow center, no challenge for Vanatti, and Gomez again had to hold. When Hereford flew out to Vanatti, Gomez could drag his bum back to the dugout right away… Bottom 8th, Jamieson drew a 1-out walk, and then Tovias grounded to short. Reece threw the ball away, so the go-ahead run came up once more, at which point Nick Valdes embraced me tightly from behind and gasped that he could not bear the tension. I wiggled in vain, just as the Coons came to the plate in vain with a runner in scoring position. Gomez hit into a fielder’s choice, and Magallanes popped out, stranding their seven-millionth runner in the game! Bottom 9th, Ryan Allan grounded out to short against J.D. Hamm, but then Ramos walked, bringing up the tying run once more. A wild pitch advanced the runner, and then Alberto scored on a Stalker single to center, cutting the deficit to 3-2 and bringing up Hereford as the winning run, while Valdes’ clutch on my chest tightened to the point where I worried about my ribcage. Rich was batting a paltry .236 and was due a huge knock. He poked the first pitch into a fielder’s choice, and Harenberg rolled out to Casillas. 3-2 Aces. Stalker 2-5, RBI; Gomez 2-3, BB; Rigg 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

This game sucked.

At least Valdes went golfing on Sunday and I could be terminally sad without being bothered by anyone in the rubber game. And we NEEDED that rubber game. Rico had to get his **** together.

Game 3
LVA: RF Crow – LF Dunlap – 1B Ra. Tello – 3B Hawkins – CF Lynch – SS Reece – C R. Alvarado – 2B Casillas – P A. Ortiz
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – 1B Harenberg – RF Hereford – CF Mora – LF Jamieson – C Pizzo – P Gutierrez

Nothing worked for Rico Gutierrez with his pitchcraft. The Aces had two singles in the first, but Tom Hawkins hit into an inning-ending double play, however the second saw Harenberg make a critical error that put Rodrigo Alvarado on base after Gavin Reece had already singled. Reece swiped third base, then scored on Casillas’ sac fly to put the Aces up 1-0. Stalker had to reach wide to curtail an Ortiz grounder to end the inning, but at least Mora and Jamieson went to the corners in the bottom of the inning. Pizzo couldn’t get through, bringing up Rico, 0-for-11, with two outs. He poked the first pitch up the middle past a diving Casillas to tie the score at one, but then Ramos popped out to strand two runners. In turn, Dunlap, Tello, and Hawkins hit straight singles with one out in the third to bring the lead back to Vegas, 2-1. Rico Gutierrez was not fooling ANYBODY. Abel Mora had to chase down to deep flies by Lynch and Reece, as the individual parts of Gutierrez barely kept being held together by the most tender strings.

The Coons were back on the corners with nobody out in the bottom 3rd. Stalker drew a leadoff walk, then hustled to third base on Nunley’s clean single to right. They barely tied the game on Harenberg’s single. Hereford had an ugly strikeout, Mora hit a bloop single, and Jamieson flew out harmlessly to Andy Crow, stranding two more. In a game that went like glue, Rico inched through the fourth and fifth without accidents, and then the Coons almost by accident scored the go-ahead run in the bottom 5th. Harenberg and Hereford hit back-to-back 2-out doubles to get it done, both of them missing fielder’s gloves by inches. Kevin got one over the head of Crow, and Rich rammed a ball past Tello. Rico’s response was to surrender straight singles to begin the top of the sixth. Hawkins to center, Lynch to right, Reece to center, and also to re-tie the score. Alvarado bunted over the runners against Jonathan Fleischer, who then surrendered the go-ahead run on a sac fly … and left the game with an awkward stalking limp. Brotman was thrown in just to retire the pitcher originally, but then Jamieson (single) and Pizzo (Hawkins error) reached to begin the bottom 6th and Billy was asked to bunt, getting the job done nicely. This presented Ramos with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. C’mon boys – WE NEED THIS WIN!! Ramos grounded out to Tello, which held Jamieson back. Stalker grounded to short, Reece with the flub, and the Coons scored the run and tied the game on the second error of the inning. Good, good, boys! Get in their heads! Nunley harmlessly grounded out to Casillas, and I was trying to break down the wall between my and Maud’s offices with nothing else than my forehead at that point.

That wasn’t the end of the raging ineptitude. Brotman retired Crow to start the seventh, then got *blasted* by left-hander Tom Dunlap to put the Aces up 5-4. Hereford hit a single in the seventh that knocked out Ortiz, but the Raccoons left that run on base as well. Former Coons farmhand Pete Molina was in the game in the bottom 8th, but lasted only one out against Pizzo before yielding to McQueen, who walked PH Ryan Allan as well as Ramos to bring on the tying and go-ahead runs for the 96th time in the game. The Aces skipped on to right-hander J.J. Ringland, who had a 2.05 ERA. Stalker hit the first pitch to deep right, but couldn’t beat Crow or the fence. Allan dazzled to third, but there were two outs for Nunley, who grounded out to second. The Raccoons used Josh Boles for the ninth by necessity, resulting in three outs on 11 pitches. That gave them their … however many chances they had already wasted… J.D. Hamm would face 4-5-6, and lost Harenberg in a full count to get going. Oh look, tying run aboard – here we go! Magallanes was brought on as pinch-runner, was caught stealing, Hereford struck out, and then Mora singled. (buries face in the hands) Elias Tovias pinch-hit for Boles in the #7 hole, poked the first pitch to right, and it fell for another single. And the Pizzo grounded out to Casillas. 5-4 Aces. Nunley 2-5; Hereford 2-5, 2B, RBI; Mora 3-5, 2B; Tovias (PH) 1-1;

In other news

May 22 – DAL MR Nate Ward (1-1, 1.64 ERA) loads the bases with a single and two walks against the Buffaloes in the bottom of the 14th inning before he is removed in favor of Lourenco Bobadilha (0-0, 3.86 ERA) who ends the game bluntly by nailing TOP RF/LF Pablo Sanchez (.331, 1 HR, 18 RBI) to force home the winning run in the 7-6 Buffaloes final.
May 23 – DEN C Jeremiah Brooks (.344, 7 HR, 31 RBI) puts the hurt on the Capitals and homers three times in an 8-5 Gold Sox win. All in all, the 27-year-old backstop drives in four runs with his power heroics. It is only the second time a Gold Sock has gone deep three times in a game, and the first instance in 35 years.
May 23 – The Knights pick up SP Justin Osterloh (1-6, 5.80 ERA) from the Knights in exchange for two prospects, including #24 SP Gene Winton.
May 25 – The Stars are deconstructed in a 20-3 blasting handed to them by the Cyclones, for whom #8 hitter OF/1B Ricky Loya (.342, 1 HR, 9 RBI) whacks out five base hits and drives in three runs.
May 25 – Rebels southpaw SP Felipe Delgado (5-3, 3.58 ERA) is out for the season with shoulder inflammation.
May 26 – PIT 1B Danny Santillano (.382, 12 HR, 36 RBI) has three base hits and drives in five runs in a 13-2 clubbing the Miners hand to the Gold Sox.

Complaints and stuff

This team just can’t find any sort of momentum. Either the pitching is ****, or the hitting is ****. Sometimes, everything is ****. How consistently crummy are they? For all of this season, the Raccoons have ONE 10-game string where they have gone 7-3. That was April 17-26, starting with that then very much spirit-raising 13-5 clubbing of the Loggers and ending with the double header against Indy. Everything else is 6-4, 5-5, or 4-6. Crummy all the way.

Not sure what I can offer in consolation. (looks at various notes and also picks up Honeypaws to check for enlightenment on the toy coon’s bum) Nope – got nothing.

Jonathan Fleischer has an oblique tweak and will be held out of the next one or two games, but won’t have to be put down immediately.

Not sure about our chances for a ring, though…

Fun Fact: Liam Wedemeyer went deep three times in a 12-9 loss to the Scorpions on July 2, 1995 for the first and until Wednesday only time a Gold Sock hit three dingers in a game.

Of course around here we remember Liam Wedemeyer more for his demise. Picked up in a trade after the 1995 season that also brought on Tzu-jao Ban (grumbles something), Wedemeyer would lead the Continental League in home runs in both of the next two seasons, 33 in ’96 and 24 in ’97 even when everything else around him fell apart. Stunningly he collapsed to bat .195 with 12 homers in 1998, became a free agent after the season, drew no interest whatsoever and soon enough retired and returned to his native Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. All in all he batted .267 with 141 homers in five-and-a-half major league seasons.
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: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 39 TONER : 46 SAITO

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Old 05-07-2019, 06:14 PM   #2838
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2030 DRAFT POOL ANALYSIS

The end of May was near, which meant June was just around the corner, and June would also bring another draft, although given our absolutely pathetic track record in bringing up talent through the draft we might just as well not bother. For the last five seasons, the Raccoons had *barely* a handful of hand-drafted players that made any sort of impact. Chief among them was of course Matt Nunley, the 2010 fourth-rounder who refused to ride into the sunset. George James was around for the early part of the dynasty, a former #7 pick, before being traded in to get Matt Jamieson back. There was a ninth-rounder in Juan Magallanes who had hung around for a while now. Then there was… uh… Ryan Allan? A few scratch relievers of the Steve Costilow sort? And what else?

Oh well, now that we already compiled the annual hotlist, I can just as well show it… (*indicates high school player)

SP Chris Turner (15/14/12) *
SP Joe Murphy (13/15/8) * - BNN #8
SP Adam Swint (13/12/12) * - BNN #2
SP Jim Batson (14/13/10)

CL Tim Thewatt (19/14/9)

C/1B Sean Ebner (12/14/10) *

3B/2B Ben Freeman (14/16/13) – BNN #9
3B Dan Hutson (11/15/11) – BNN #6

RF/LF Troy Greenway (12/14/13) *
OF Ed Hooge (9/12/9)
OF Andrew Barker (13/12/11) * - BNN #1

We are stunned that what we consider the hands down best prospect in the pool (at least for pitchers) is not in the BNN top 10. Are we wrong yet again? Scout? Scout! – No, he’s having a taco, and he’s not coming over when he’s having a taco…

Turner, a southpaw, was already 19, so old for a high school kid, but we were dazzled by his 5-pitch mix, the 94mph heater, and the array of breaking pitches that created groundballs over groundballs. Never mind that he struck out 17.7/9 in high school play. He made 18-year-olds cry. What was not to like about this boy?

Oh right, he has the nickname “Tuba” for a reason. He plays it. Every evening. With passion.

We can sort that out after drafting him.

On the hitting side, we really, really loved Ben Freeman, who was a sophomore in Sacramento State hitting .387 with power. Not much in terms of speed or defense and finding a position for him might be tricky (although first base might work if he hits like a real first baseman. He was neither blessed with range, nor the arm of a major league third baseman, so the hot corner was probably off limits even though he played it for Sac State. But a high-contact, high-power second or first baseman? What was not to like about this boy?

Oh right, he has the nickname “Nine Fingers” for a reason. He… has only nine fingers. He is missing the pinky on his right hand, which is unfortunately also his throwing hand. Terrible accident while running with scissors in kindergarten.

Hmmmmm…!

Not so sure we can sort that out after drafting him.

Oh, right, Maud just reminded me that we only have the #16 pick and will have to look at the leftovers anyway.

But wasn’t it good to dream for a moment?
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Portland Raccoons, 57 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 39 TONER : 46 SAITO

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Old 05-07-2019, 06:52 PM   #2839
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westheim View Post
2030 DRAFT POOL ANALYSIS

We are stunned that what we consider the hands down best prospect in the pool (at least for pitchers) is not in the BNN top 10. Are we wrong yet again? Scout? Scout! – No, he’s having a taco, and he’s not coming over when he’s having a taco…

Turner, a southpaw, was already 19, so old for a high school kid, but we were dazzled by his 5-pitch mix, the 94mph heater, and the array of breaking pitches that created groundballs over groundballs. Never mind that he struck out 17.7/9 in high school play. He made 18-year-olds cry. What was not to like about this boy?

Oh right, he has the nickname “Tuba” for a reason. He plays it. Every evening. With passion.

We can sort that out after drafting him.
Any relation to Jason?
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:11 PM   #2840
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Any relation to Jason?
No. Jason played the accordion.
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Portland Raccoons, 57 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 39 TONER : 46 SAITO

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