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Old 08-09-2019, 07:09 PM   #2941
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Disappointing that Pinkerton doesn't have a twirly Rollie Fingers moustache.
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Old 08-10-2019, 03:34 PM   #2942
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Eventually freed by a qualified licensed blacksmith, I returned to Portland just ahead of the holidays. At this point the Raccoons had flicked out almost every guy they wanted to get rid of that any other non-brain-damaged GM would actually vaguely consider trading for. So now it was about adding a free agent or two to the fringes of the roster with the just over $3.5M we currently had available, although only half of that was actually budget space, the rest being the cash left by Nick Valdes and the pile of coins received in the Adam Braun trade.

And that roster had changed considerably since it last been chewed through. So here it was in the aftermath of the Braun deal:

The rotation still read Shumway, Gurney, Sabre, Chavez, and Gutierrez. In the pen we had a number of givens with Wise, Garavito, Fleischer, Hennessy, and Fernandez. Two spots were still available. Dave Martinez was a long option for sure, but there was also something to be said about sending him to St. Petersburg to maybe rekindle his starting pitcher skills. Rabbitt, Bates, and the assortment of arms in AAA was still on the outside looking in.

Behind the dish we had a new starting catcher in Giovanni James, with Toby Ross as backup. These two could actually platoon, with James a left-handed batter and Ross coming in from the right side. The outfield had also shifted considerably. There were currently six outfielders still on the extended roster, which included sure starters Adam Braun (probably in center) and Jimmy Wallace. Then there was the curious case of Wilson Rodriguez, who was already 29 and probably not a great option except that he could platoon with Wallace in right and also be a late-inning defensive replacement. In a cup of coffee and three partial seasons, Rodriguez had accumulated 437 at-bats and a .252/.276/.368 line with 9 HR and 56 RBI. Last year his OPS was .739 with 4 HR and 25 RBI. The rest of the outfielders were fillers at best, with career .219 menace Sean Catella having defensive versatility as his claim to fame when Chris Baldwin outplayed him at every position. Preston Pinkerton was a ho-hum rule 5 pick, and Donovan May was the left-handed dead weight acquired in the Vanatti/Prieto trade. So there were outfield spots available! (Ryan Allan was not in the picture anymore, having been waived ahead of the rule 5 draft, but had gone unclaimed and been assigned to AAA once more)

The same couldn’t be said for the infield, where Ramos and Stalker were sure starters up the middle. Justin Perkins had the third base job more or less bagged, and since Justin Marsingill was also a right-handed batter, the latter’s chances of being optioned to St. Pete were now real. At first base there was currently a platoon of Jarod Howden and Travis Zitzner that was likely to leave everybody angry. In terms of backups we had Baldwin and 2005 Ugliest Baby Boy Sam Cass.

That was not a group that could not be improved. F.e. there was a notable vacancy in leftfield (or center if we could find a centerfielder).

+++

December 20 – Former Buffaloes 3B/2B Adam Corder (.236, 28 HR, 418 RBI) lands with the Gold Sox for 6-yr, $13.32M.
December 20 – The Capitals sign ex-SAL SP Mario Alva (130-140, 4.25 ERA) to a 2-yr, $2.44M contract.
December 23 – The Pacifics are excited to announce the addition of former Capitals closer Seth Odum (46-55, 3.23 ERA, 257 SV). The 32-year-old lefty joins L.A. on a 3-yr, $9.6M contract.
December 27 – More starting pitching for Washington! The Capitals add ex-MIL SP Morgan Shepherd (107-97, 3.55 ERA) on a 3-yr, $7.72M contract.
December 27 – The Condors add ex-SAC CL Jose Ornelas (34-36, 3.30 ERA, 184 SV) for 2-yr, $5.88M.
December 29 – The Titans sign former Capitals SP Alex Contreras (102-154, 4.49 ERA) to a 2-year contract. The 38-year-old right-hander will make $5.84M as part of the deal.
December 29 – Ex-Rebels C Keith Leonard (.287, 43 HR, 481 RBI) joins the Miners for 2-yr, $5.92M.
December 29 – The Raccoons sign veteran experience by giving 36-yr old former Condors catcher Josh Wool (.279, 104 HR, 644 RBI) a 1-yr, $500k contract.
December 30 – The Titans splurge again, signing ex-SFW RF/LF Mark Walker (.260, 85 HR, 387 RBI) to a 7-year deal. The 29-year-old will make $25.32M as part of the deal.
December 30 – Portland also inks ex-MIL INF Brendan Day (.234, 0 HR, 13 RBI) on a 1-year deal that will pay the 26-year-old the sum of $300k.
January 4 – Another major reinforcement for the Pacifics will be ex-Titans SP Greg Gannon (140-95, 3.79 ERA), who signs a 2-yr, $8.2M contract with L.A.

+++

Josh Wool is also not the future, but we see him as an improvement over Toby Ross, especially in the sense that we could use a team leader, and Wool has a renown for keeping order in every chicken coop no matter the size of it. He once won a Gold Glove, but his D has delapitated some over the last years. He hit .320 in a limited capacity for Tijuana last year, but I harbor no illusions there…

Day, who has options, is signed primarily for depth in St. Petersburg. He is a strong and agile defender, but of course he isn’t batting much of a lick. He appeared in only one game with the Loggers last year and otherwise batted .250 with six homers in Lubbock, Texas.

No, these signings aren’t *exciting* in any way… but there are no exciting signings to occur this year. It’s 30-something castoffs and whatever we can fish out of the gutter.

+++

2032 HALL OF FAME BALLOT

After two years during which the induction ceremony in the Hall of Fame had to be cancelled for a lack of inductees (and in fact no player getting more than a 57.6% share of the vote), this year the Hall of Fame could send out invitations for the summer event again, as there would be three new inductees, two of which were on the ballot for the first time.

A 16-year veteran, Hugo “Tiger” Mendoza was a raw slugger even by Stars standards when he broke out in his age 21 season in 2012, hitting .342/.389/.593, leading the league in slugging, and doled out 63 extra-base hits. That would become his mantra for the next decade and change. He led the league in slugging four times and won a Triple Crown in 2016, his last full season in Dallas. That was the only time he won the batting title, although he would lead the CL in homers and RBI once more, slugging 38 homers and driving in 133 with the 2020 Raccoons. He would ultimately also serve 4 1/2 years with the Cyclones before retiring, but was longest and most productive with the Stars. He hit .312/.382/.524 for his career with 336 HR and 1,327 RBI. He also stole 124 bases, although he was not a regular threat after his mid-20s. He made the All Star team seven times, won four Platinum Sticks, a Gold Glove, and was Player of the Year in his Triple Crown season.

A veteran of 23 major league seasons, Yoshi started humbly as the #7 pick in the 2002 draft before reaching the majors for the first time in ’04, hitting .246 in 35 games for the Raccoons. While it wasn’t until 2011, his age 27 season, that he made his first of seven All Star Games, he was a regular with the Raccoons from the early age of 22 and would post OPS+ values far above 100 regulary starting in 2011, when he hit .321 with 50 extra-base hits for Portland. He would arrive back in Portland after stints with the Capitals and Cyclones; in total he spent 12 of his 23 seasons with the Furballs, who nevertheless traded him to Denver halfway through his second contract. He would tingle through three more cities in his final years, retiring after hitting .266 with three homers for the ’26 Buffos as a 42-year-old. He piled up 10,006 at-bats in which he hit .305/.384/.398 with 3,050 base hits, 83 homers, and 1,051 RBI. He walked 1,226 times, more than he struck out. He was an All Star seven times and as late as in his age 38 season, and won a Gold Glove and a Platinum Stick.

The final inductee, first baseman Steve Butler, also split his time between both leagues, starting as a Miner in 2006 and finishing as a Cyclone in 2023. Butler was a refined slugger with patience and would usually command solid walk totals and pile up few strikeouts. He led the FL in slugging once (2011), and in homers twice. He also led the FL in hits twice, but never won a batting title. He was an All Star four times and won three Platinum Sticks before slowly beginning to diminish in his mid-30s, then with the Titans, where he just missed being part of their 2020s dominance. By then he finished out his career in Nashville, L.A., and Cincinnati. Butler is inducted with a .300/.364/.479 slash line, 327 HR, and 1,405 RBI.

All three of this year’s inductees had stints with the Cyclones.

DAL 1B Hugo Mendoza – 1st – 94.9 – INDUCTED
POR 2B Ieyoshi Nomura – 1st – 85.1 – INDUCTED
PIT 1B Steve Butler – 4th – 80.0 – INDUCTED
LAP 1B Stanley Murphy – 4th – 71.9
SAL 1B Alberto Rodriguez – 3rd – 60.9
ATL LF Gil Rockwell – 5th – 31.1
NAS C Pat Walston – 1st – 31.1
??? RF Justin Dally – 2nd – 11.1
VAN 1B Ray Gilbert – 7th – 11.1
??? SP Bob King – 6th – 8.5
SAC SP Ian Rutter – 2nd – 7.2
TOP LF Bill Adams – 1st – 4.3 – DROPPED
CIN C Jayden Jolley – 3rd – 4.3 – DROPPED
CHA CF Ryan Feldmann – 1st – 2.1 – DROPPED
ATL SP Dave Butler – 3rd – 2.1 – DROPPED
RIC CF Danny Flores – 1st – 2.1 – DROPPED
POR LF R.J. DeWeese – 2nd – 1.3 – DROPPED
RIC C Jamal White – 1st – 1.3 – DROPPED
TOP SP Cody Zimmerman – 1st – 0.4 – DROPPED
DEN SS Piet Oosterom – 1st – 0.4 – DROPPED
CIN CL Brett Lillis – 1st – 0.4 – DROPPED

YOSHIIIIIII!!!
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Old 08-11-2019, 02:42 PM   #2943
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With the Hall of Fame voting concluded, the most interesting parts of the offseason were behind us. The Raccoons were not chasing big free agents (but maybe a small free agent or two). As pointed out, we were still having an opening in the outfield, depending on whether Wilson Rodriguez’ 2031 line (.290/.320/.420) was enough for a starter’s job. Everybody probably had a different mileage on that. With Braun a righty batter, we were in the market for another left-handed outfielder to add to the Wallace/Rodriguez mix. Between those three and another left-hander, we would be able to have two guys to counter a starting pitcher on any given day.

+++

January 11 – The Crusaders ink 32-yr old lefty SP Ramiro Benavides (93-54, 3.25 ERA) to a 3-year deal. The former Pacific will make $9.36M over the life of the contract.
January 11 – The Raccoons sign ex-PIT MR Jared Stone (12-18, 3.61 ERA, 13 SV). The 32-year-old righ-hander will make $550k in the 2032 season.
January 13 – The Titans pick up 32-yr old INF Edgar Gonzalez (.282, 88 HR, 551 RBI), last with the Warriors, for 4-yr, $9.12M.
January 13 – Washington’s got a new closer with ex-TIJ Erik David (39-45, 3.71 ERA, 62 SV) signing a 1-yr, $2.76M deal with the Capitals.
January 22 – The Wolves announce that outfielder Luigi Banfi (.272, 84 HR, 387 RBI), who hit .235 with 12 homers in 2031, is out for the season after tearing his rotator cuff playing catch with his eight-year-old son Luigi jr., who is now in tears and unconsolable.
January 27 – Los Angeles signs ex-NYC LF/RF Jeremy Houghtaling (.252, 143 HR, 634 RBI) to a 2-yr, $2.84M contract.
January 27 – 35-year-old veteran RF Dan Dalton (.285, 86 HR, 496 RBI) signs a 3-yr, $7.32M contract with the Warriors. Dalton spent the last few years with the Buffaloes.
January 30 – Not done, the Pacifics sign ex-WAS 2B/3B Dave Menth (.276, 205 HR, 822 RBI). The 13-year veteran, age 34, spent his entire career with the Capitals, but will join L.A. for $3.84M over two years.
January 31 – The Gold Sox add 27-year-old ex-IND 2B/SS Mario Pizano (.268, 58 HR, 327 RBI) to a 3-yr, $5.44M contract. Pizano also has 254 career steals.

+++

Stone was one of those run-of-the-mill right-handers. Not much stamina, but groundball tendency, which was always preferable. He had been with the Crusaders for five years at the start of his career, but had not left a lasting mark or impression on the Coons. He was mainly here to shore up the seventh inning or so. It also allowed us to forego Dave Martinez in the pen and to try to get him straightened out in a starter’s role in AAA. Rabbitt was now most likely the long man in the pen, since Nick Bates had no stamina, either.

Masked faces in new places? Only Mike Pizzo signed in January, getting $840k from the Titans.
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1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
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: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 08-12-2019, 05:00 PM   #2944
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February 3 – The Raccoons pick up 29-yr old LF/CF Nate Hall (.264, 31 HR, 308 RBI) on a 1-yr, $325k contract. The 29-year-old split 2031 between Nashville and Washington.
February 8 – 33-year-old former Indians CL Marcus Owens (33-40, 3.85 ERA, 139 SV) joins the Miners on y 3-yr, $5.88M contract.
February 11 – Boston signs ex-PIT SP Josh Walsh (59-56, 3.61 ERA) to a 2-yr, $3.88M deal.
February 11 – Even more reinforcements for that Miners bullpen: a 3-yr, $5.76M contract lands ex-POR MR Ricky Ohl (31-26, 2.51 ERA, 54 SV) for Pittsburgh.
February 19 – The Loggers trade C Taylor Canody (.267, 14 HR, 132 RBI) to the Wolves for 3B/SS Jamie Meehan (.231, 1 HR, 12 RBI) and a decent, unranked pitching prospect in CL Chris Tompkins.

+++

Hall was the last free agent that I was after. He is a switch-hitter, adding some more variety to the outfield mix. I would not say he is a starter outright. He is more of the long half of a weirdly misshapen platoon with Wilson Rodriguez, with Jimmy Wallace probably going to do a lot of shifting between either corner outfield spot. It’s okay – Wallace was not likely to win a Gold Glove anyway…

What else? Billy Brotman signed a $310k deal with the Crusaders; Danny Arguello got on board with the Cyclones for $340k;
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:07 PM   #2945
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2032 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set in parenthesis shows 2031 stats, second set career stats; players with an * are off season acquisitions):

SP Tom Shumway, 36, B:L, T:L (2-7, 4.35 ERA | 141-122, 3.36 ERA) – no-hit the Loggers in May of 2030, then went straight into the toilet. That was still better than the DL, where he spent half of the 2031 season, amounting only to 89 innings, still enough time to walk 45 batters with skills eroding at blistering pace. Since he’s owed plenty of dough for this and next season and was thus not tradeable, he won the Opening Day assignment by default.
SP Jason Gurney, 26, B:R, T:L (10-8, 3.51 ERA | 12-11, 3.75 ERA) – came out of nowhere (well, St. Pete) early last season after injuries and misery had already decimated the rotation, plugged right in and made 26 starts down the road with pretty nice overall stats, although he lacks stuff to pile up strikeouts (100 K in 164 IP), and to be frank, our scout hates him still.
SP Bernie Chavez, 23, B:R, T:R (3-1, 3.52 ERA | 3-1, 3.52 ERA) – youngster with three main pitches including a 94mph heater that won a spot in the rotation with a September callup that was *pretty decent*. He could use some more movement on the fastball, which comes rather straight and can be tatered.
SP Raffaello Sabre, 23, B:L, T:R (3-1, 3.23 ERA | 3-2, 4.84 ERA) – one of the main pieces of this team getting younger – pronto! – this left-handed groundballer got turned into toilet paper in his lone start in ’30, but held up reasonably well during his call-up in late ’31. Both him and Chavez can be rookie contenders this year, and while Chavez’ problem might be dingers, Sabre’s main issue is command. He walked almost five per nine innings in ’31, but gave up only one bomb in 30.2 innings.
SP Rico Gutierrez, 32, B:L, T:L (7-14, 5.69 ERA | 103-88, 3.62 ERA) – the baseball equivalent of a dying pet, Rico agan made 26 starts in ‘31 and almost as often came back in a litter with half his intestines dragging behind him - AGAIN. He gets a little bit worse every year, and the Raccoons are stuck with him for a few more years, even though he was banished to the pen and not used at all in the final week of the 2031 season.

LR Bryan Rabbitt, 26, B:L, T:R (0-0, 4.91 ERA | 0-0, 4.26 ERA) – beat out Nick Bates for the long man job mainly for a slightly less atrocious walk rate and a bit better fastball movement and thus fewer dingers, which always come extra-frustrating after the guy has walked a pair aboard first. Spent bits of two seasons in the majors so far, with 38 innings under his belt in total.
MR John Hennessy, 24, B:L, T:L (2-0, 1.62 ERA | 2-0, 1.62 ERA) – not much was seen of this rule 5 pick in his first major league season; bone spurs in the elbow held the young slider hurler to 16.2 innings, but he returned apparently healthy in September and thus remains on the roster, part of a pen with three left-handers, and none of those anointed closer… yet.
MR David Fernandez, 25, B:L, T:L (1-1, 1.91 ERA | 1-1, 1.91 ERA) – this 2027 fifth-rounder flummoxed batters with a vicious slider, even though the fastball didn’t always arrive in the correct zip code, but which young lefty ever gets it over precisely where the catcher points at…?
MR Jonathan Fleischer, 29, B:L, T:R (3-2, 2.78 ERA, 1 SV | 14-10, 3.55 ERA, 4 SV) – right-hander with a 96mph heater and a nasty curveball, but unfortunately also with some significant control issues. Despite that he often seems to avoid major damage, making him one of those quietly efficient right-handers that create drama for all the wrong reasons.
MR Jared Stone *, 32, B:R, T:R (3-1, 2.86 ERA | 12-18, 3.61 ERA, 13 SV) – pretty straightforward right-hander with relatively good control and solid dinger control. And “straightforward” we mean – no nonsense with Stone around, which is always a plus on a team with a litter of kits.
SU Mauricio Garavito, 30, B:L, T:L (4-4, 1.46 ERA | 11-12, 2.66 ERA, 7 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. Has since been really reliable, and in major news did not turn paws up in the first year of a 4-year contract, which is major news for this franchise...
CL Chris Wise, 25, B:R, T:R (2-3, 2.45 ERA, 26 SV | 5-5, 2.76 ERA, 26 SV) – new year, new closer; the Tennesseeian groundballer Wise won the job in the middle of his first full season in the majors and didn’t do anything outrageous to lose it again. Struck out less than nine per nine innings, which is not great, but was reasonably close (63 K in 66 IP) and is young enough to still get better.

C Giovanni James *, 31, B:L, T:R (.263, 10 HR, 68 RBI | .264, 45 HR, 272 RBI) – pretty solid, but not overwhelming catcher that arrived in the 6-player deal with the Buffos that also left us with Justin Marsingill. James usually hits right around the league average, and we primarily think of him as a bridge to Elliott Thompson, who will hopefully arrive by next year.
C Josh Wool *, 36, B:L, T:R (.320, 0 HR, 12 RBI | .279, 104 HR, 644 RBI) – more veteran savvy with the 1-year addition of Wool via free agency. Was the 2020 CLCS MVP with the Loggers (y’know, past the Nick Lester disaster), but has not been a primary backstop since the ’25 season. He is also here to provide advice to the kits and to prevent them from pulling stupid stunts.

1B Jarod Howden, 26, B:L, T:L (.245, 17 HR, 70 RBI | .259, 35 HR, 175 RBI) – the fourth-year player not overly beloved by either his front office or the fans finds himself in a platoon with the new arrival Zitzner at first base, something that hasn’t been seen around Portland for a while. Howden was tragically blind at the plate in his first year as a Critter, striking out 123 times and ending up with a sub-par OPS+ of 95 despite the 17 dingers…
1B Travis Zitzner *, 28, B:R, T:L (.328, 12 HR, 52 RBI | .290, 21 HR, 106 RBI) – acquired from the Stars for none other than Mark Roberts, Zitzner did hit the ball hard and far and sometimes outta there, but now has to show that he can repeat the feat in a somewhat normally sized ballpark. First task would be to send Howden butter churning to have first base all to himself…
2B/SS Tim Stalker, 33, B:R, T:R (.262, 12 HR, 64 RBI | .260, 89 HR, 555 RBI) – very good defensive middle infielder, more than just token speed, and most of the time also a good batter, at least until he hit a snag right after signing that big extension. Since then, Stalker has three seasons with OPS+ of 98 or worse, and will receive loads of coin for another three season as a middle-aged middle infielder. Oh, the tears of joy.
SS Alberto Ramos, 26, B:L, T:R (.315, 3 HR, 45 RBI | .320, 14 HR, 255 RBI) – The Excitement played in ALL GAMES in 2031, starting 152, and led the CL in stolen bases for the fourth straight year, but didn’t come close to challenging for sole possession of the all-time single-season mark. Enters the season with 329 SB and lots of space left in his career. Can he get to a thousand bags? What else is there even to discuss? Slaps a ton of singles, but also hit for 27 doubles, and for the fourth straight year drew more than two walks for every strikeout he was hung with, which sure helps in getting a career OBP of .413...
3B/SS Justin Perkins *, 31, B:R, T:R (.279, 6 HR, 35 RBI | .275, 7 HR, 50 RBI) – good defensive third baseman that was blocked for half a career by better players on the Titans and can now finally show what’s in him! Batting above the league average would be a nice start after newly minted pensioner Matt Nunley’s final year was rather rough.
3B/2B/SS/RF Justin Marsingill *, 25, B:R, T:R (.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI | .000, 0 HR, 0 RBI) – this throw-in from the Buffos comes without any sort of burden of prior hitting accolades, having hit nothing in eight major-league plate appearances; sure-handed infielder with a variety of applications on D, has a chance to be at least better than Baldwin …

LF/CF Nate Hall *, 29, B:S, T:R (.262, 7 HR, 70 RBI | .264, 31 HR, 308 RBI) – late free agency addition last with the Caps, Hall is a very competent defensive outfielder who unfortunately has yet to produce a WOW! season with the bat at the age of 29. He *can* hit for extra bases though, amounting to as many 43 of them in ‘29.
LF/RF/CF Adam Braun *, 33, B:R, T:R (.280, 9 HR, 39 RBI | .275, 111 HR, 600 RBI) – the former Player of the Year and World Series MVP arrived in a deal with the Titans, along with Justin Perkins, that seemed unlikely at the outset of the offseason given his $3.28M annual price tag but somehow we still got it done. Has won many accolades in his career, but was not very productive in 2031, missing almost half the season to injury. Center is not his best position, but he can reasonably placed there.
RF/LF Jimmy Wallace, 25, B:L, T:L (.283, 16 HR, 83 RBI | .281, 17 HR, 91 RBI) – dubious defense aside, Jimmy swung a hot stick and won three Rookie of the Month honors but somehow was passed over when it was time to give out the big belt. His power is probably true, as is his lack of competence in fielding his position (he cost more than one win on defense in ’31…), but 38 extra-base hits in a somewhat injury-shortened season (missed 29 games) is something we’d like to build upon.
RF/LF/3B Wilson Rodriguez, 29, B:R, T:R (.290, 4 HR, 25 RBI | .252, 9 HR, 56 RBI) – what is it with the recent-day Raccoons and their knack for getting stuck with late-20s corner outfielders with no reasonable power or other pedigree? Wilson has a murderous arm but has never produced anything in the majors, at least not over a reasonable amount of at-bats. Best case scenario he turns into something like Eddie Jackson, perhaps the best fourth outfielder the Raccoons ever had (although Bobby Quinn would like to have a word), and he figures to get regular starts against left-handed pitching spelling either one of the left-handed starting corner guys.
RF/CF/3B/2B Preston Pinkerton *, 26, B:R, T:R (no stats) – pale-faced debutee with good defense and strong and agile hindpaws that hit next to nothing with the Miners’ AAA team. I’m sure it’s gonna be fine.

On disabled list: Nobody.

Otherwise unavailable: Nobody.

Other roster movement:
SP Dave Martinez, 26, B:S, T:R (5-9, 5.25 ERA | 25-23, 4.20 ERA) – run-of-the-mill righty that used to mostly get by on wings and prayers until being forsaken by Odilon, the Chosen One. Reassigned to St. Petersburg to may get him shaken out again after being rocked hard for 22 starts and 14 relief appearances with Portland last year.
C Toby Ross, 29, B:R, T:R (.215, 6 HR, 28 RBI | .231, 41 HR, 167 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed; arrived on waivers from Pittsburgh late last season and did absolutely nothing to endear himself. Hit 20 homers for the Miners in ’30 – we saw none of that. Has a weird long-term, low-coin contract that might get taken off our paws here.
2B Sam Cass, 26, B:S, T:R (.240, 1 HR, 7 RBI | .209, 1 HR, 8 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed; 2005 Ugliest Baby Boy Sam Cass’ lack of versatility or defensive prowess or hitting acumen doomed him on a team with two first basemen.
CF/SS/LF/3B/2B/RF Sean Catella, 27, B:S, T:R (.202, 0 HR, 11 RBI | .219, 0 HR, 20 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed; versatile and trying, but not overly gifted defender that kept running into odd assignments with the team for much of the last two years while providing no offense and mostly ho-hum defense. Designated for assignment to keep rule 5 pick Preston Pinkerton around.
RF/LF Donovan May *, 34, B:L, T:L (.147, 1 HR, 8 RBI | .218, 9 HR, 61 RBI) – waived and DFA’ed; throw-in to the Vanatti/Prieto deal to balance the Thunder’s budget. Never figured to make the Opening Day roster with an utter lack of a skill set. If not claimed is likely to be released outright.

Other players not listed individually and reassigned to AAA on an option: Ignacio del Rio, Nick Bates, Brendan Day, and Chris Baldwin; the latter one was optioned because of his lack of experience at shortstop, which Marsingill can play quite well, and because his bat has been a never-ending shtick of sadness…

Everybody still not mentioned by now has already been waived during the offseason.

OPENING DAY LINEUP:

Vs. RHP: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – CF Braun – 1B Howden – C James – 3B Perkins – LF Hall – P
(Vs. LHP: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Braun – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – LF Wallace (Hall) – 3B Perkins – C James – P)

I would actually prefer Braun in the #3 hole and Wallace in #4 against right-handers, but that would make it easier on other teams to play mix and match with the pen. With Wallace in front, the first five will alternate handedness ahead of a pair of left-handers in Howden and James, but Howden can trivially be hit for should a southpaw be inserted.

OFF SEASON CHANGES:

The Raccoons shipped no fewer than 26 players in or out during the offseason, with many long-time players gone in Roberts (traded), Tovias, Ohl, Hereford (all free agents), and Nunley (retired). The trades brought in some interesting players, some of which might be keys for the next dynasty, like maybe Zitzner, or the prospect Prieto. But shedding some veteran experience made no positive impact on BNN’s offseason WAR gains board, where Portland ended 16th with -1.8 WAR.

Top 5: Gold Sox (+7.1), Pacifics (+6.7), Titans (+5.2), Blue Sox (+3.8), Crusaders (+3.2)
Bottom 5: Aces (-3.8), Loggers (-4.2), Bayhawks (-5.5), Wolves (-5.7), Buffaloes (-8.3)

Someone explain to me how the Aces (who lost 108) can actually lose WAR at this point…

PREDICTION TIME:

I picked the Coons to lose 95 last year, and didn’t come quite as bad with a 74-88 season that was still all sorts of bad…

Then there is the faint hope that we have reached the nadir and that it is uphill from here. I like our young pitchers, for example. Obviously they are the key to this season – Chavez and Sabre making it this season will be the difference between being about .500 and feeling somewhat good about ourselves or tumbling right back into pitching hell and juggling fourth-tier spot starters again. Both had their weak points in their previous brief stints, but both clearly have potential. They might not be the instant pleasure rockets that we hope for, but I think they’ll do good. Elsewhere we still have to wait out several bad contracts (Gutierrez, Shumway, Stalker) to expire before we can really rally to the top again. Our catching situation is one placeholders, waiting for Thompson, who has absolutely no pressure on him at this point…

The Raccoons are not going to be relevant, but they will be reasonably close to .500 this season. Maybe an 81-81 campaign isn’t out of the question.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:

After years on the back end of the table, the Raccoons farm system slowly worked itself up to 17th by last year and jumped all the way into the upper half now, reaching 8th place amongst all ABL outfits.

In no small amount this is due to the raw amounts of young pitching assembled (all but three of our top 10 are pitchers), but there’s more to like. The Raccoons had ten ranked prospects in 2031, three of them in the top 100. Of those, all are still in the organization, although not all of them are ranked again this year. But we also got some reinforcement in numbers: FOUR more top 100 prospects, and a total of SEVEN more ranked prospects overall!

15th (+33) – ML SP Raffaello Sabre, 23 – 2025 international free agent signed by Raccoons
52nd (new) – A SP Jonathan Dykstra, 22 – 2031 supplemental round pick by Raccoons
58th (new) – A 1B/LF/RF Will Luna, 19 – 2031 first-round pick by Raccoons
59th (new) – A OF Manny Fernandez, 22 – 2031 first-round pick by Raccoons
77th (0) – AAA SP Darren Brown, 22 – 2028 first-round pick by Raccoons

78th (-46) – AAA C Elliott Thompson, 22 – 2028 sixth-round pick by Raccoons
82nd (new) – A SP Jonathan Galvan, 20 – 2028 international free agent signed by Raccoons
112th (new) - AA SP Philip Parkinson, 23 - 2030 third-round pick by Raccoons
120th (-7) – AAA SP Ignacio del Rio, 22 – 2026 international free agent signed by Raccoons
127th (+21) – AA SP Jason Lucas, 22 – 2030 second-round pick by Raccoons

129th (new) – AA SP Kyle Green, 23 – 2029 sixth-round pick by Raccoons
149th (new) – ML INF Justin Marsingill, 25 – 2028 first-round pick by Buffaloes, acquired via trade with Giovanni James for Josh Boles, Ed Hague, Craig Hollenbeck, and Jose Salinas
152nd (new) – INT SP Julian Ponce, 19 – 2029 international free agent signed by Raccoons
156th (-6) – AAA OF Ed Hooge, 22 – 2030 first-round pick by Raccoons
185th (-7) – ML SP Bernie Chavez, 22 – 2026 fourth-round pick by Gold Sox, acquired via trade for Rin Nomura
194th (-17) – AA SP Travis Coffee, 24 – 2028 third-round pick by Raccoons
200th (new) – A 2B Barry Schuster, 21 – 2031 fifth-round pick by Raccoons

Last year’s #175 (C Chris Manning) and #185 (SS Jose Agosto) are no longer ranked but still in the organization.

The top 5 overall prospects this year are:

#1 PIT A INF Sergio Barcia (was #3)
#2 LVA A SP Chris Crowell (newly drafted)
#3 CHA A SP Chris Turner (was #5) – missed entire 2031 season after Tommy John surgery
#4 SAC A RF Troy Greenway (was #7)
#5 SAC A OF/1B Chris Sandstrom (newly drafted)

Last year’s #1 prospect, left-hander Justin Kaiser, dropped to #10 after a so-so season with the Rebels’ AA department. The #2 prospect, the Aces’ SS/2B Enrique Vargas crashed to #44 after hitting .205 in AA and being sent back to single-A. But #4 prospect RIC 2B/3B Ben “Nine Fingers” Freeman was already promoted to the majors and hit .309 with 3 HR and 28 RBI in 69 games. Not shabby for a 22-year-old #1 pick.

Next: first pitch.
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Last edited by Westheim; 08-13-2019 at 05:42 PM.
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DD Martin (08-13-2019), pgjocki (08-13-2019), reds1 (08-13-2019)
Old 08-13-2019, 06:15 PM   #2946
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This bunch doesn’t look half bad and the momentum of the last 2 months last year and the offseason moves have the fan base slightly rejuvenated. Now if Nick can sip the Kool-aid life will be......500+ a couple perhaps.

Looking forward to the new season of Raccoons fever
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Westheim (08-14-2019)
Old 08-14-2019, 07:12 PM   #2947
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Raccoons (0-0) @ Titans (0-0) – April 5-7, 2032

Some set of poor sods had to have the misfortune of opening the season against the current champions, the Titans, and it turned out to be us. Oh well. It’s not like we just can’t play them for a year… maybe we’d get them before they were warmed up! The Raccoons had won the season series just once in the last 11 seasons, and had dropped a full dozen of the customary 18 contests in 2031.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (0-0) vs. Adam Potter (0-0)
Jason Gurney (0-0) vs. Mario Gonzalez (0-0)
Bernie Chavez (0-0) vs. Dustin Wingo (0-0)

We would get two southpaws right in the opening series in Gonzalez and Wingo, who won 32 games and had a 2.59 ERA between them in 2031.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – CF Braun – 1B Howden – C James – 3B Perkins – LF Hall – P Shumway
BOS: RF M. Walker – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – CF Acor – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – C Lessman – 3B E. Gonzalez – P Potter

Three pitches into the new season, Berto singled to right off Potter, but that would be all the Coons did in the first frame. Not so the Titans, who had Mark Walker hit a leadoff double over the head of the longtime Titan Adam Braun in centerfield, then plated him with two groundouts before they started another run of assault with a Dustin Acor single, a walk issued to Keith Spataro, and then Ramos fumbled a grounder by Rhett West to load the bases. David Lessman knocked in two before Edgar Gonzalez grounded out, putting Boston up 3-0 quickly. In one of the more dismal Opening Day performances in memory, the Raccoons didn’t get back on base until Tim Stalker got nicked in the fourth, and didn’t reach as much as *second* base until the inning after that and a leadoff walk to Giovanni James, followed by Potter balking him over. Nate Hall’s gapper in left-center became an RBI double, getting Portland on the board, but Hall was stranded when Shumway struck out and Ramos flew out to Willie Vega, who then was doubled in with two outs in the bottom 5th by Acor to restore the old 3-run gap.

Top 6th, Tim Stalker got drilled for the second time, and didn’t appreciate it much better this time, either. He was close to taking out Potter and was just barely nudged up the first base line by the umpire and first base coach. He reached second on Wallace’s groundout, then scored on a Braun rocket down the leftfield line to get the Coons to 4-2 and bring up the tying run again, but Howden, the dumb pig, and Giovanni James both grounded out poorly. Shumway lasted six poor innings, then was hit for in the top 7th. Wilson Rodriguez hit a 1-out single with Nate Hall already on, and a Ramos single loaded the bags all of a sudden. Stalker lined out to Rhett West when he wasn’t nailed for once, but Jimmy Wallace found a hole between West and Justin Uliasz and slapped through a game-tying, 2-out, 2-run single! Braun grounded out, keeping it knotted at four. The Coons took over command in the eighth with Potter hanging around long enough to give up a go-ahead dinger to former Titan Justin Perkins …! But that worked both ways. The bottom 8th saw Rhett West on base with a single off Jared Stone, with Garavito taking over and hitting Lessman. Dan Knudson whiffed for the second out, but then Matt Jamieson pinch-hit in the #9 hole. Jamieson had of course been traded in the deal that had brought Braun and Perkins over here, and he took revenge right away, knocking an RBI double past Perkins, with Lessman being sent around as well while Nate Hall was fumbling for the ball in deep left, then unleashed a murder throw that saw Lessman thrown out at home to end the inning, now in a 5-5 tie that persisted through the end of regulation.

Titans closer Jermaine Campbell loaded the bags in the 10th with Howden reaching on an error by West, a walk to James and a Perkins single, but then rung up Hall in a full count to end the inning. The Coons somehow avoided disaster with Rabbitt pitching to the Titans in a tied game for two innings, then saw Chris Wise allow a leadoff single to relief pitcher Franklin Alvarado (…!) in the bottom 11th. But Adrian Reichardt struck out and Vega hit into a double play, defusing that threat, too. Top 12th, Wallace hit a leadoff single off Alvarado, then was doubled off by Braun. Jarod Howden then met a fastball in the fat zone and hit a shot to left… and into the stands! Wise finished off Boston on seven pitches in a second inning of work, putting this Opening Day affair in the books as a winner…! 6-5 Critters. Ramos 2-6; Wallace 2-6, 2 RBI; Perkins 2-5, HR, RBI; Hall 2-5, 2B, RBI; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1; Rabbitt 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K; Wise 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, W (1-0);

First place! First place! First place!

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Braun – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – LF Wallace – 3B Perkins – C Wool – P Gurney
BOS: RF M. Walker – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – CF Acor – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – C Lessman – 3B E. Gonzalez – P M. Gonzalez

Trouble brewed in the bottom 2nd for Gurney after Spataro knocked a leadoff double over Rodriguez’ head and he drilled Rhett West with a 1-2 pitch. Lessman flew out to shallow left, Edgar Gonzalez flew out to right, and Mario Gonzalez went down on strikes to deny the blue team, though. Doubles remained a factor in the game; Willie Vega hit one in the bottom 3rd, but was also denied. In the top 4th, Wilson Rodriguez cracked a 1-out double to right, while Wallace also hit one to the edge of the warning track out there, but Mark Walker caught up with that one. He didn’t catch up with Justin Perkins’ double in the gap though, and that brought in the game’s first run. The Titans walked Wool intentionally, but Gonzalez hung one to Gurney that ended up in the leftfield corner for a 2-out RBI double, 2-0, before Ramos struck out on a disputed call.

Gurney held the Titans off the board, but did so in the least efficient way possible, reaching more than 90 pitches through five innings. That bottom 5th included lots of balls, and a leadoff single in a full count surrendered to none other than the opposing pitcher. He found more trouble in the sixth, allowing singles to Spataro and West, then bailed out when Lessman spanked an 0-2 pitch at Tim Stalker for an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. That was Gurney’s final batter after six shutout innings – his spot was up to begin the seventh. Hall hit for him and grounded out, and Ramos was also retired by Gonzalez before the southpaw left the game with an apparent injury. Wyatt Hamill replaced him and allowed a single to Stalker, walked Braun, and gave up an RBI single for an insurance run, 3-0, to Travis Zitzner, his first hit and ribbie as a Critter. The first Portland pen involvement also yielded undesirable results with Edgar Gonzalez homering off Jonathan Fleischer, the first batter Fleischer faced on the year. He retired two and put two on before being yanked for Stone, who got Acor on a grounder to end the seventh. Stone issued a leadoff walk in the eighth then, a problem cleaned up by David Fernandez. Come the ninth, the Coons were still up 3-1 and were hesitant about going back to Wise after two innings pitched on Monday. Fernandez thus stayed in; he had thrown seven pitches in the eighth, logging two outs, and figured to get two left-handed bats in the inning, not including leadoff man Knudson in the #9 hole. Knudson promptly drew a walk, and Jamieson hit for Walker – but popped out. Vega went down on strikes, and Justin Uliasz grounded to Ramos, who ****ed the play up beyond recognition for an error. That brought up Acor as the winning run. Also – Chris Wise. A strikeout ended the game. 3-1 Coons. Ramos 2-4; Stalker 2-5; Rodriguez 2-4, 2B; Perkins 2-4, 2B, RBI; Gurney 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, W (1-0) and 1-2, 2B, RBI;

First place! First place!

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Braun – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – C James – P Chavez
BOS: RF M. Walker – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – C Lessman – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – 3B E. Gonzalez – P Wingo

The Titans batted through the order in the first inning as Bernie Chavez got STRAFED for six base hits, mostly hit sharply, starting with a Walker single and Vega double. The runners scored on a groundout and a sac fly, leaving nobody on with two outs, but then the barrage started anew with four straight 2-out singles before Wingo struck out with the bags full to keep it at 3-0. A Vega homer made it 4-0 in the second, and the Coons left the bags full when Rodriguez lined out to short to end the top 3rd, stranding Stalker, Braun, and Zitzner, all of whom had reached after Ramos had singled and been caught stealing…

The Coons couldn’t find a run stuck between bits of food in their tummy fur through five innings, which was as long as Bernie Chavez lasted. Uliasz sent him home with a solo homer in the bottom 5th, putting Portland in a 5-0 hole in which they remained through six, after which Wingo was done as well. Disintegrating former starter Jeremy Waite got the seventh and nothing but trouble, starting with a pinch-hit single by Howden. Ramos also singled, and Stalker hit one off the fence for an RBI double, and after Braun lined out, Zitzner hit a ball on the warning track in right-center and over the fence for a ground-rule double and two runs. All of a sudden, Rodriguez was the tying run at the plate! At this point Franklin Alvarado, Monday’s loser, came on and retired Rodriguez and Hall without much drama, ending the inning in what was now a 5-3 game. With Hennessy and Fleischer providing scoreless (but not spotless) relief, the Coons remained in clawing distance, and after Ramos worked the leadoff walk against Jermaine Campbell, the tying run was back at the plate. Stalker flew out. Braun popped out. Zitzner struck out. 5-3 Titans. Ramos 2-4, BB; Stalker 3-5, 2 2B, RBI; Zitzner 3-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Howden (PH) 1-1;

…and no longer first. The Indians were still undefeated.

Raccoons (2-1) @ Bayhawks (3-0) – April 9-11, 2032

While the Coons had taken the series from the Titans, the Baybirds had *swept* the Condors (!) as their season-opening assignment. So here was a pair of surprise teams; they had only allowed seven runs in their first three games, tying for second in the CL, and led the league with 18 runs scored, but well, it was early… The Raccoons had won the season series last year, taking five of the nine games back to their dens.

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (0-0) vs. Jesus Chavez (0-0)
Rico Gutierrez (0-0) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (0-0)
Tom Shumway (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Gilberto Rendon (0-0, 1.69 ERA)

Three right-handers on tap here; the Baybirds had no lefty starter in their Opening Day roster.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – CF Braun – 1B Howden – C James – 3B Perkins – LF Hall – P Sabre
SFB: CF Cassell – 1B Caraballo – RF Suhay – C J. Wood – 3B D. Myers – 2B J. Cruz – LF Hawthorne – SS Pulido – P J. Chavez

Ramos walked and scored on a Wallace double in the opening inning to give the Coons an early lead, but then soon had a paw in an excruciating bottom of the inning. Sabre struck out Ryan Cassell to begin his season, but before long nailed Tomas Caraballo, walked Ben Suhay, and loaded the sacks with a Dave Myers single. He walked Jose Cruz to force in the tying run, then got a George Hawthorne grounder to short that Ramos also ****ed up for his third error in four games, leading to another run. Jose Pulido grounded out to strand three eventually. The mess only got muckier. Sabre ran a 3-0 count against ex-Coon Chavez to begin the bottom 2nd, which Chavez then poked at Stalker… and Stalker threw the ball at Howden’s feet, the dumb pig couldn’t come up with it, and the error put Chavez on first base with nobody out. The cluster**** continued with Cassell’s infield single, a balk, and a walk doled out to Suhay. Jimmy Wood’s sac fly made it 3-1, two runs unearned, but all deserved on Sabre… The Critters got even in the third inning; Ramos and Stalker opened with singles, Wallace cracked another single past Caraballo to get Ramos home, Stalker went to third, and then scored on a passed ball charged to Wood, levelling the score. Not that Sabre didn’t manage to **** up more in the bottom of the inning: the Bayhawks took a 4-3 lead on Jose Cruz’ leadoff triple and a well-placed single by Hawthorne…

Sabre’s wild day continued unabated. Nate Hall hit a 1-out double to center in the fourth and Sabre landed a base hit in left right after that. Hall came around and scored, while Sabre was thrown out at second base by a country mile thanks to some blatantly blind baserunning. There had not been a chance in hell he would have reached second base on the play, even if Hawthorne had been struck by lightning mid-throw… That was the end of the wicked madness of the early innings. Sabre managed to line up two zeroes before being removed after five innings and almost 100 pitches, but he didn’t get into a lead and got a no-decision. Fernandez struck out the side in the bottom 6th and Stone and Hennessy also delivered solid relief to maintain a 4-4 tie. Ramos opened the ninth with a single off Chris Rountree, which perhaps could spice things up, but Tim Stalker hit the first pitch sharply at Jose Pulido for a double play… Fleischer moved the game to extras, and was still in for the tenth. Cruz and hawthorne were retired before Jose Pulido hit a gapper for a 2-out triple. Chris Mendoza, a lefty batter, was sent to pinch-hit in the #9 hole, and the Coons went to Garavito, who got a grounder to Howden, the dumb pig. … and the dumb pig ****ed the pickup, fumbled the ball, kicked it into foul ground, and the Bayhawks walked off that way… 5-4 Bayhawks. Ramos 2-3, 2 BB; Stalker 2-5; Wallace 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Hall 2-4, 2B;

HOWDEN?? HOWDEN???? I’M GONNA ****ING –

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – LF Hall – CF Braun – 3B Perkins – C James – P Gutierrez
SFB: LF Balado – 1B Dupuis – RF Suhay – C J. Wood – CF Hawthorne – SS J. Cruz – 3B D. Myers – 2B Pulido – P Cervantes

The team continued to knock over every single garbage can with their fat bums in the pursuit of no particular greatness. This was despite Rico Gutierrez retiring the Baybirds *in order* the first time through! He was also at the plate in the top 3rd with Giovanni James on first after a single, the first batter to reach in the game, and bunted into a double play. Cervantes left the game in the fourth inning with an injury, at which point he had loaded the bags with Ramos, Wallace, and Hall with two outs. That brought up Adam Braun, who had hit an RBI double on Opening Day and since then had gone oh-for-a-whole-lot. He ran a full count against lefty Steve Russell, then flew out to Ben Suhay, and followed that up with an inability to catch up with a Jose Balado fly in the bottom 4th that fell for a leadoff triple after almost fatally striking Braun in the temple. Jon Dupuis hit an RBI single, was forced out by Suhay (who was hitless on the season), Jimmy Wood laced a double, and Hawthorne made it 2-0 with a sac fly against the still unsurprisingly knockable Gutierrez, who, by the way, again found James on first with one out in the fifth, and AGAIN bunted so ****TILY to get his battery mate forced out at second base. Ramos hit a single. Stalker flew out to Suhay, nobody scored.

Gutierrez was then singled to death over the next two innings. The Bayhawks plated one run on three hits in the fifth, then two more in the sixth, with two on and two out when Gutierrez was yanked in a 5-0 hole with ten hits allowed – all of those AFTER the third inning. His line closed when Balado grounded out to short against Rabbitt, who entered the game in a double switch removing Braun in favor of Preston Pinkerton, who had rode the bench all week, but now got his major league debut and struck out against Joe Dishon in his first at-bat in the seventh, in which the Raccoons – quelle surprise – didn’t score, or came even close. Pinkerton caught a Wood fly in the bottom 7th, so at least he was not a complete train wreck at this stage of his career… yet by the ninth, which the Coons started down by six, he short-circuited a potential rally with a double play grounder, scoring Perkins with a run as it may. Perkins had doubled home Hall and Marsingill against Rountree with nobody out, but after the Pinkerton 4-6-3, Ramos’ groundout ended the game. 6-3 Bayhawks. Marsingill (PH) 1-1; James 2-2, 2 BB;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – LF Hall – CF Braun – 3B Perkins – C Wool – P Shumway
SFB: LF Balado – 1B Dupuis – RF Suhay – CF Hawthorne – SS J. Cruz – 3B D. Myers – C Newport – 2B Levinson – P G. Rendon

With Tom Shumway dissolving on national television right in the first inning, Ben Suhay still managed to sneak in a strikeout to fall to 0-for-20 on the year. Nevertheless, four batters into the bottom 1st the bags were loaded after a single and two walks. Shumway wasn’t anywhere NEAR the zone or fooling a non-blind batter. Cruz and Myers both hit 2-run doubles before Tom Scumbag walked Josh Newport on four pitches, and did the same to Tristan Levinson. Rendon popped out, but Balado hit a bases-clearing double, and Tom ****head was yanked on the spot after 41 pitches, four hits, four walks, and seven runs and counting. Fleischer got a groundout from Dupuis to end the inning that ended the game, but didn’t find it beneath himself to load the bags on two walks and an infield single in the bottom 2nd, either. Newport hit a comebacker with one out for a force at home, and Levinson grounded out to Stalker to keep the Baybirds from adding to their ginormous lead, but Fleischer was already almost done on 31 pitches and the Coons still had to find another six innings in their already much-abused pen. Fleischer batted for himself in the third, striking out, with Rendon allowing one hit (a Zitzner homer that didn’t the **** matter) and whiffing five through three innings. Fleischer collapsed in the bottom 3rd, losing Dupuis and Suhay on walks. The former walked in a plate appearance lasting FOURTEEN pitches, then was yanked for Stone, who allowed an RBI single, 8-1, to Hawthorne before Jose Cruz grounded out to Stalker.

The Coons were out of righty relievers by the middle innings, during which Rendon shed a few walks, but the Critters could not pounce on him. By the fifth, we had to feed a young lefty to the lions, in this case Hennessy, who allowed a run in the bottom 6th on a Dupuis double and two well-placed outs. Balado hit a solo homer off Garavito in the seventh, getting them into double digits. After the Coons stranded Ramos and Stalker in the top 8th, Preston Pinkerton made his pitching debut in the bottom 8th in his second career appearance in the majors. Yup, we had made it all the way to Sunday before having our pitching staff completely dismantled…! Pinkerton issued a leadoff walk to PH Ryan Cassell, who was forced out by Hawthorne’s grounder, but Hawthorne soon enough came around on the myriad of singles Pinkerton allowed. Cruz hit one. Myers hit one. Levinson hit one with two outs that saw Cruz sent around third and mercifully thrown out at home plate, ending the inning. 11-1 Bayhawks. James (PH) 1-1;

In other news

April 7 – The 27-game hitting streak that Topeka’s SS/2B Alex Majano (.200, 0 HR, 0 RBI) carried over from the 2031 season ends in an 0-for-5 debacle in a 7-1 defeat against the Cyclones.
April 7 – PIT 3B Omar Lastrade (.333, 0 HR, 3 RBI) will miss at least a month with a broken thumb.
April 10 – LAP SP Dave Christiansen (2-0, 2.12 ERA) rings up 15 Capitals in a 7-3 Pacifics win. Christiansen goes the distance, allowing six hits and a walk.
April 11 – IND SP Andy Bressner (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is expected to miss two weeks with a sore wrist.

Complaints and stuff

Seven? Seriously? … Our head scout, who has a name, I am informed, has brought up his new player assessments and he has slashed Tom Shumway’s stuff to seven. To be honest, he pitched more like a four, but that is … that is rough. Yup, he will totally play out his player option next year… right next to Rico Gutierrez. Which is sort of the beginning and the end of our plentiful pitching problems.

Declaring the first week to have been rough would be like calling either World War a disagreement over the property line. The offense was mostly crap, Ramos and Zitzner aside. Perkins had a few moments, too. But the pitching was absolutely bottomless. The rotation piled up 21 earned runs in 28.1 innings (6.67 ERA) in six games (4.7 IP/GS), and that was even with Gurney tossing six scoreless. That does not even include the various stupid mistakes on defense. Ramos made three errors that caused plenty of carnage, and Howden, the dumb pig, walked off the Baybirds with his stupid mis-grab.

Boy, and now to go home and facing Nick Valdes… oh, and the Condors. But I don’t know which one is worse. The Loggers will also be in next week.

All players that we waived and designated for assignment at the start of the season went unclaimed. Donovan May was released; everybody else was assigned to St. Pete.

Fun Fact: Matt Nunley, who retired after the 2031 season, ranks in the career top 100 in hits and RBI.

That would be 51st all-time with 2,457 base hits, and 85th all-time with 1,053 RBI. Not too ugly for a #132 pick.
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: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 08-15-2019, 12:49 PM   #2948
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Arriving in the office on Monday morning yielded multiple unpleasant surprises. Dear beloved owner Nick Valdes had hung pictures of himself in every room, including the bathroom, and was already loudly arguing with Maud over some sort of new drapes, which I couldn’t care less about; my office hadn’t had drapes since the 80s, because I always tore them down in my rage and agony about the on-field product on display, and Maud also told me that Yoshi Nomura agreed to a Hall of Fame bobblehead, but only if the Raccoons in turn retired his number. When Alberto Ramos was informed of #7 having to be retired, he hissed and threatened to quit on the spot.

So that was another thing to deal with this season…

No, Nick, I don’t think purple curtains mesh well with our brown uniforms. – I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Maud? – (Maud is heard screaming far away)

Raccoons (2-4) vs. Condors (3-3) – April 12-14, 2032

The Condors had angrily swept the Indians on the weekend after having gotten the same treatment as the Critters against the Bayhawks to begin the season. Their pen had suffered numerous explosions already, and the rest of the team had yet to proceed beyond the “lukewarm” stage. For four years in a row, the coons had four games annually from the Condors.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. George Griffin (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. Joe Perry (0-0, 5.68 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (0-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Ethan Jordan (1-0, 2.08 ERA)

Right, left, left as far as starters were concerned.

Game 1
TIJ: LF Palbes – CF C. Murphy – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – 2B C. Miller – C Kennett – RF W. Ojeda – SS J. Zamora – P Griffin
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – C James – 1B Howden – CF Braun – 3B Perkins – LF Hall – P Gurney

Nick Valdes advised me that Gurney wasn’t supposed to do that, and someone should tell him, after Gurney sat down the first five Condors, then allowed singles to Elliott Kennett and Willie Ojeda, and went on to plate a run with not one, but TWO wild pitches thrown to Jorge Zamora. To make up for his other failures, Jarod Howden took out Chris Miller in a collision at second base in the bottom 2nd. Miller landed on his wrist and had to leave the game; later we found out it wasn’t broken, but was still swelling and he’d have to go to the DL with bad bruising. Omar Camacho replaced Miller, but the Critters didn’t score in the inning. Griffin gave away the lead otherwise, conceding a 1-out walk to Gurney (!) in the third, as well as a pair of singles to Ramos and Wallace to bring the pitcher around. Giovanni James flew out to deep center to strand the pair.

Two Coons were back aboard in the fourth after leadoff singles by Howden and Braun, who ended an 0-for-22 rut and landed his first base hit in a week. Perkins grounded out to advance the runners, and Nate Hall was walked intentionally with one out to bring up Gurney, who whiffed. Ramos grounded out to Kevin McGrath on the first pitch he saw, stranding yet another pair. In turn, Gurney shoveled the 6-7-8 batters on base to begin the top of the fifth. Kennett walked on four pitches, and Ojeda and Zamora both singled. That inning – of course – blew up. Griffin struck out, but Juan Palbes knicked a 1-2 pitch for a run-scoring groundout, giving the Condors the lead back. Chris Murphy clubbed another base hit for two more, 4-1, and Shane Sanks, the disgusting skunk weasel, also singled before someone got leather on a McGrath grounder to end the miserable inning. So the bus had rolled over Gurney’s legs, but the bottom of the inning saw Griffin sucked into a jet engine and turned into finely grained dust. Stalker, James, Howden all reached base to present Adam Braun with three on and one out. Braun drove a ball to deep center, Murphy couldn’t get there, and the bases cleared on the double, tying the game at four. Perkins flew out, and Hall was walked again with intent to bring up Gurney, who foiled the evil plan when he jacked a ball down the leftfield line for a 2-out, 2-run double. Ramos flew out to Ojeda to end the inning with a 6-4 lead.

Gurney at least gave the pen a spell and held on through seven innings, the first Critter to do so in the season’s seventh game. Zitzner hit for Gurney with Perkins and Hall on base and two outs in the seventh, but rolled out to short. The Condors then saw Jared Stone in the eighth. Camacho hit a 2-out double, but Kennett struck out to strand him, and when Chris Wise entered the ninth he got a groundout before he conceded a single to Zamora. PH Juan Camps struck out. Juan Palbes hit a fly to center, no trouble for Braun, and the 4-game losing streak was over. 6-4 Raccoons. Howden 4-4; Braun 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Hall 0-1, 3 BB;

Game 2
TIJ: C Zarate – 2B Hughes – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – RF C. Murphy – LF Palbes – CF Camps – SS O. Camacho – P Perry
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 1B Zitzner – CF Braun – RF Rodriguez – LF Hall – C James – 3B Marsingill – P Chavez

Bernie Chavez lasted two outs before leaving the game with an injury while already dangling from the hook thanks to a homer by ****ing Shane Sanks. Rabbitt replaced him while the Critters scratched out a somewhat botched run in the bottom 1st. Ramos and Stalker opened with singles, but a double steal went awry with Stalker thrown out at second base by Danny Zarate. Ramos however was now on third base and scored easily on a Zitzner fly to left, evening the score at one. Thus when Rabbitt completely lost his mind in the second inning and walked FOUR batters in addition to base hits surrendered, the resulting 4-1 deficit was on him. He walked Sanks with the bases loaded, while McGrath singled in a pair. When the inning finally ended with Chris Murphy flying out to Rodriguez, Rabbitt had thrown over 50 pitches for four outs. David Fernandez was tossed into a long relief role next, regrettably issuing leadoff walks to Palbes and Camps in the third inning. I was screaming obscenities at this point, to which Nick Valdes only had to remark that he wised there was more composure on the team. Fernandez pitched four innings, retiring 11 in a row after the pair of walks, but when he got a pat on the bum the score was still a sad 4-1. The Coons did precious little before the bottom 6th, which saw Zitzner and Braun on with singles and in scoring position thanks to a Palbes fielding error. Wilson Rodriguez hit an RBI single, 4-2, but the inning fizzled out with Hall and James.

Bottom 7th, Preston Pinkerton reached base under his own power for the first time as a major leaguer, drawing a 1-out walk after entering in a double switch at the expense of Nate Hall. Pinkerton’s free pass saw Perry banished in a hurry, but veteran Jorge Villalobos soon bled 2-out singles to Stalker, Zitzner (to plate Pinkerton), and Braun (to load the bases). Wilson Rodriguez ran a favorable 2-1 count before hitting a ball to left, over the head of a desperately, but in vain leaping Shane Sanks, and the ball made its way into the leftfield corner. The runners had been going on contact with two outs and this allowed the Rodriguez double to clear the bases, flipping the score in favor of Portland, 6-4! Both Valdes and me were out of our minds, jumping up and down on screaming, while Slappy on the brown couch raised his bottle o’ booze in appreciation. Perkins batted for Hennessy, but grounded out to short. Here the Critters hit a snag – they were out of arms. Four relievers had already been used, Stone was unavailable after he had already pitched in five of the seven games this year, and only Garavito and Wise were left, so the eighth would be Garavito pitching to right-handers. He walked Zamora with two outs in the #9 hole, but rung up Zarate to clear the eighth. The ninth was Wise’s. PH Ken Kramer struck out in a full count, but Wise walked Sanks, the disgusting skunk weasel, as it began to rain. Kevin McGrath shot a ball through Zitzner and into the corner for an RBI triple, putting the tying run 90 feet away. It didn’t matter – we had no more relievers. It was all Wise from here. Wise’s very next pitch was wild and through James, allowing McGrath to score. There was dead silence in my office, except that Slappy was still drinking, unimpressed by anything happening on the field.

Bottom 9th, Jose Ornelas (40.50 ERA), got Ramos to ground out, then struck Stalker in the elbow, and Stalker had to come out. We did not have another middle infielder, and Howden had to pinch-run for him. Zitzner hit into a double play. The game went to extra innings, with Jarod Howden manning second base, and Wise put the leadoff man Camacho on base with a leadoff single. The runner advanced on the next two outs before PH Yeong-ha Sung grounded to Howden. Right AT Howden. Plenty of time. Sung – a mile away. And Howden, the dumb pig, with the runner on third and two outs, still managed to throw the ball into Zitzner’s feet. Somehow, Travis held on, ending the inning, but the lucky swipe looked ugly as heck. Portland didn’t score in the bottom 10th, then had to forfeit. Rico Gutierrez was sent into the game on two days’ rest. It was all we had left. All relievers were gone (except for Stone, who had thrown basically every day). The bench was empty, too. And we had a dastardly inept first baseman at the keystone. No way we’d win this anymore. Aptly, the ****ing skunk weasel reached base to begin the 11th… on a MARSINGILL ERROR. Gutierrez struck out McGrath, which left me doubting everything I knew about baseball, but Murphy singled, moving the go-ahead run to second base. Murphy singled, Ojeda walked, and I closed by notepad and headed for the liquor cabinet. Time for the first Capt’n Coma of the season! Gutierrez walked in the go-ahead run with four pitches to Juan Camps. Camacho hit a sac fly, 8-6, Zamora ran a 2-0 count before fouling off a bunch, then hit a 3-run homer to dead center. Zarate walked. Relief pitcher Ray Andrews singled. ****ing windowlicker Shane Sanks homered to left. The Capt’n Coma had trouble soothing the agony. McGarth singled right through Howden, the dumb pig. We were contemplating whether Rico Gutierrez would be better off playing leftfield with Pinkerton pitching, just when Pinkerton caught a Murphy drive to end the inning. The Condors had scored EIGHT runs. The Marsingill error made them all unearned… Andrews retired the Coons in order. 14-6 Condors. Stalker 2-4; Zitzner 2-4, 2 RBI; Braun 2-5; Rodriguez 2-4, BB, 2B, 4 RBI; Fernandez 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K;

Eight runs allowed in one inning and he still lowered his ERA. Rico Gutierrez is SUCH A TALENT.

Well. Due to injuries and sheer decrepitude, the Coons had to make several roster changed prior to the rubber game. Stalker went on the DL. Rabbitt (8 BB in 6.1 IP) was shanked and sent to AAA. The Druid had yet to get the right temperature into his cauldron and had no news on Bernie Chavez, but we promoted two relievers for the Wednesday game because be bitterly needed fresh arms behind Raffaello Sabre, bringing up Victor Anaya and Nick Derks, who both had yet to pitch in AAA.

David Fernandez, who was thoroughly off limits for the rubber game, led the team in strikeouts at this point, with eight.

Game 3
TIJ: C Zarate – 2B Hughes – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – RF C. Murphy – CF Sung – LF Camps – SS O. Camacho – P Jordan
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – CF Braun – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – C James – 2B Marsingill – P Sabre

I asked Sabre personally to do something to lower our league-worst mark of 6.4 runs allowed per game. He said he had a cousin who knew a dance to make it rain, which, I replied, was not quite what I had in mind. In any case, the Condors got only two singles off Sabre the first time through the order, and didn’t get on the board in the early innings. Neither did the Critters. In fact, the game was scoreless into the fifth inning when a good-looking Raffaello Sabre kicked the door towards annihilation wide open with a leadoff walk to Camps. Camacho singled, Jordan bunted them over, and there were runners on second and third with one out. It didn’t work out well. Zarate hit an RBI single, stole second, and two runs scored on Andy Hughes’ single, putting Tijuana up by three. Sabre hung around to finish six, whiffing Camacho to both end that inning and to clinch sole possession of the team strikeout lead with a modest nine.

Ramos opened the bottom 6th with a single to left, which gave him a 12-game hitting streak dating back to the last weekend of the 2031 season, this being game #9 of the ’32 edition of ABL baseball. The following hitters failed to do ANYTHING at all, but Sabre held up in the top 7th, becoming the second Coons starter to complete seven innings in a start. When Marsingill hit a 2-out RBI single off Jordan to plate Jimmy Wallace (double) in the bottom of the seventh inning, that ended the day for both starting pitchers. Sabre was hit for by Howden, while Jordan left with discomfort, replaced by Villalobos. Howden singled up the middle, putting runners on the corners for Ramos, who spanked a ball down the line in right for an RBI double. Unfortunately, Perkins struck out with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position… Anaya wiggled through the top of the eighth, and the Coons crowded Ornelas in the bottom 8th. Braun walked, Wallace hit an infield single, and with two outs James walked to load them up for Marsingill, who hit a fly to center that eluded Sung for a score-flopping 2-run double! Pinkerton batted for Anaya with two in scoring position, poked a 1-2 pitch up the middle, Zamora intercepted it behind the bag, throw to first – late!! First career hit and RBI for Preston Pinkerton! Here came ex-Coon David Kipple to replace Ornelas, and he nicked Ramos to load the bases for Perkins, who struck out to end the inning. So. And who will now close the 5-3 game? We settled on Garavito, who had done away with the bottom of the order already once in this series. Camps whiffed. Camacho flew out. Zamora… walked… Zarate grounded the first pitch to short, Ramos with the short lob to Marsingill – out! 5-3 Coons. Ramos 2-4, 2B, RBI; Wallace 3-4, 2B; Marsingill 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Howden (PH) 1-1; Pinkerton (PH) 1-1, RBI; Sabre 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K;

After this exhaustive series, Nick Valdes left for lighter endeavors, hunting lions with nothing but stone age tools in Botswana. It was part of a back-to-the-roots movement I didn’t understand anything about. I had other bothers.

One of those was Bernie Chavez being ruled out for two months with a herniated disc, which is always such a nice thing to learn about a 23-year-old rookie. So HE went to the DL. The Raccoons would not need a fifth starter until the following weekend thanks to off days on Thursday and the Monday after that, so we’d make do with the four still left over but would keep the extra reliever for now. Instead, we called up another infielder, 2005 Ugliest Baby Boy Sam Cass.

Raccoons (4-5) vs. Loggers (3-6) – April 16-18, 2032

The Raccoons had dropped 12 games to the Axemen in 2031, more than in any of the previous 28 seasons. Milwaukee sat at the very bottom in runs scored, having plated less than three men per game so far (while the Coons were still bleeding the most markers). Milwaukee pitching was rather solid with the third-fewest runs allowed.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (0-1, 12.15 ERA) vs. Joe West (0-1, 3.68 ERA)
Jason Gurney (2-0, 2.77 ERA) vs. Josh Long (2-0, 2.25 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. Alfredo Casique (0-2, 6.39 ERA)

This would be a series featuring only right-handed opposition.

In the sadness category, neither team had a hitter with multiple dingers to his name.

Game 1
MIL: SS Lockert – 1B M. Monroe – 2B W. Morris – CF Creech – 3B Parten – RF Valenzuela – LF V. Diaz – C J. Young – P J. West
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – RF Wallace – CF Braun – 1B Howden – LF Hall – C James – 2B Cass – P Shumway

Tom Scumbag didn’t get quartered by a quartet of horses as soon as he stepped onto the mound, which already counted as progress. The Loggers didn’t score early on, but put five men on in the first three innings, some of which they dissolved in a pair of 6-4-3 double plays. The Coons would score first with a Ramos Special in the third inning. Ramos singled, stole second, reached third on a throwing error by Jim Young, and came home on Perkins’ single up the middle. Wallace walked after the RBI single, but was doubled up by Adam Braun and the inning quietly receded into the scorebook after that. Bottom 4th, Hall and James got on base to begin that inning before being balked into scoring position. Sam Cass was intentionally walked with a 1-1 count, loading the bags with nobody out for Shumway, one of the worst hitting pitchers anywhere. He struck out, albeit not before running a full count that pushed Joe West over 90 pitches for nine outs, but Ramos’ sac fly looked like everything the Coons would get when Perkins hit a ball to center that looked easy for Gabe Creech until it suddenly dropped. Creech had to lunge for it, missed it, and turned it into a 2-run double, which also gave Justin Perkins the team RBI lead with seven (…!). Wallace came near tying him, but was robbed at the fence by Creech to end the inning in a 4-0 game.

On the other side of the box score, Shumway had a 3-hit shutout through five innings, albeit on 44 pitches, indicating zero ability to keep batters in doubt about his intentions at any point of the game. He walked Matt Lockert with one out in the sixth, Lockert stole second, then had Wallace make a catch on Wayne Morris’ fly at the fence. Yeah, we saw better games from $3M pitchers… Creech’s leadoff single in the seventh was washed away on Jason Parten’s double play grounder to short. Danny Valenzuela then singled, stole second, but was stranded when Vinny Diaz struck out. Since there was not yet an urgency to get an overburdened bullpen involved, the Coons stuck with Shumway, even after Josh Stephenson’s pinch-hit homer in the top 8th. Hey, there was a guy with two homers! Since the Coons never tacked on another run and the game thus was in save range in the ninth, Shumway did have to yield for Wise, who got a guy on base – Morris – thanks to a Perkins error on the first play of the inning, but then retired the next three to put the game away and the Critters back at .500. 4-1 Raccoons. Ramos 1-2, BB, RBI; Perkins 2-3, BB, 2B, 3 RBI; Shumway 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, W (1-1);

Game 2
MIL: SS Lockert – 3B Meehan – 2B W. Morris – CF Creech – LF D.J. Mendez – RF V. Diaz – 1B Valenzuela – C J. Young – P Long
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – RF Wallace – CF Braun – 1B Howden – LF Hall – C James – 2B Cass – P Gurney

Gurney had a 2-hitter through five with the Loggers not getting much good contact on the baseballs… but once again the home team wasn’t much better. Through three the Coons only had a Ramos single, and only got on the board in the fourth because they didn’t completely keel over after Justin Perkins’ leadoff gapper for a triple. Wallace still fanned, but Adam Braun singled to the first run of the game across… then was doubled off by Howden, the dumb pig. Bottom 5th, James reached on an error and Cass singled, but after the runners were bunted over, Ramos struck out in a full count to end the inning. The Loggers threatened in the sixth for the first time. Josh Long hit a leadoff single (…), but was forced out by Lockert. Gurney drilled James Meehan, putting the go-ahead run on base, before Wayne Morris and Gabe Creech both hit deep flies to right. Somehow, the horrendous defender Wallace caught both of them, stalling the Loggers out of the inning. But they crowded Gurney even worse in the seventh, putting Diaz and Miles Monroe on base with soft singles before Gurney nailed Young. Three on, one out, and Long was sent to hit for himself…? Gurney struck him out, thank goodness, after which Josh Stephenson was sent to pinch-hit for Lockert. Now that we knew there was a right-hander in the box, Stone was sent to bat for Gurney. His first pitch was spanked up the middle by Stephenson for a 2-run single, putting Milwaukee on top, 2-1, while Meehan walked and Perkins handled Morris’ grounder to finally end the ****ing inning.

While I was looking whether Slappy had left me any booze to numb my headaches with, Jarod Howden led off the bottom 7th with a homer off Long, tying the score at two, and also becoming the first Raccoon with multiple dingers this year. Nate Hall was then nailed, stole second, moved up on James’ groundout, and we’d have liked to hit for Cass, but he was a switch-hitter and I didn’t want to send a pinch-hitter to have the Loggers get the advantage of sending the countering player. Cass batted, fell to 0-2, and then Long threw a ball so far outside it chased Jim Young to the backstop and Nate Hall across home plate, reclaiming a 3-2 lead. Cass struck out, and so did Rodriguez when he hit for Stone. Top 8th, Fleischer issued a leadoff walk to Creech before D.J. Mendez poked a 3-0 into a fielder’s choice. Diaz grounded out, advancing the runner, and Monroe whiffed, stranding him. Portland couldn’t get insurance, then sent Garavito – Wise had thrown 22 pitches the previous night, and 36 in that 2-inning nightmare on Tuesday. Young was a left-hander leading off, but was then hit for by Matt Dehne, who got nailed by Garavito. Jason Parten hit for Long, but hit a comebacker into a double play. Aaron Sessoms ended the game with a groundout. 3-2 Critters! Gurney 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K;

Back to a winning record! Also, tied for second with New York, with the Titans half a game ahead.

Game 3
MIL: SS Lockert – 3B Meehan – 2B W. Morris – RF Stephenson – CF Creech – LF D.J. Mendez – 1B M. Monroe – C J. Young – P Casique
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – CF Hall – 2B Marsingill – C Wool – P Gutierrez

There was ample traffic against Gutierrez in the early innings, but the Loggers left all of their five runners through the third, while the Coons took advantage of a leadoff walk drawn by Josh Wool in the bottom 3rd and got two 2-runs on a Perkins single and Wallace double. Milwaukee stranded two more in the fourth with a D.J. Mendez double and Jim Young single going unused when Casique popped out. Wilson Rodriguez led off the bottom 4th with a single and stole a base, Nate Hall singled, and Marsingill got a run across with a groundout, 3-0. The Loggers answered by finally breaking through Gutierrez with three hits to begin the fifth; Lockert singled, Meehan doubled to left-center, and Morris dropped an RBI single in front of Hall, but after that they only got a run-scoring groundout from Stephenson and fell short of tying the game, with the score 3-2 in the middle of the fifth, although Milwaukee was out-hitting Portland, 9-5. They would top out at 11 hits off Gutierrez, getting runners to the corners with one out in the sixth thanks to singles by Monroe and … Casique. Both runners scored against Anaya, who allowed an RBI single to Lockert with Casique racing for third base and coming home on Meehan’s groundout, putting the green team ahead, 4-3, before Morris struck out to end the damn inning. The tying run came across in the bottom of the inning, Marsingill singling home Rodriguez, who had reached second base on a wickedly wild throwing error by Lockert to begin the inning. Marsingill was then caught stealing before Wool hit a 2-out single. Howden batted for Anaya, but grounded out.

Top 7th, Nick Derks allowed a single to his first batter of the season, Stephenson, who promptly stole second base. Derks was yanked after whiffing Creech, bringing on Fernandez, who hadn’t pitched since the last game Gutierrez’ dirty paws had been involved in, coincidentally also the Coons’ most recent defeat. He got Mendez to ground out, then had Monroe at 1-2, but allowed a 2-out RBI single anyway, 5-4 Loggers. Valenzuela ran for Monroe, but was thrown out trying to nip second base, ending the inning. Portland tied the game AGAIN at the first chance, and AGAIN on a Loggers error when Perkins’ fly to center clanked off Creech’s glove for an error that allowed Ramos to score. Berto had opened the inning with a stand-up triple in the gap in right-center and was now a dinger short of the cycle. Before we could get a Berto dinger, Casique dinged Jimmy Wallace, moving the go-ahead run – Perkins – to second base with nobody out, but Zitzner flew out, Rodriguez whiffed, and Hall rolled over to first. Berto got back to the plate in the bottom 8th with Braun having drawn a 2-out walk in the #9 hole, but grounded out to end the inning and to keep the game tied at five. Wise got the ball and nailed Meehan to begin the inning. Vinny Diaz pinch-ran as the go-ahead run. He would score without the benefit of a hit for Milwaukee, and would get an RBI single later in the inning as the Raccoons’ goddamn ****ing bullpen again collapsed with great loss of life. Wise walked THREE to force in the runner, then was yanked having logged only one out against Stephenson. Hennessy replaced him, but retired none of the next five batters, yielding four hits, a walk, and six more runs, including Diaz’ RBI single, which was of the infield variety. The Coons had to empty their pen completely, sending Stone to give up a sac fly to Morris, before Stephenson grounded out, making the first and third outs in the second 8-run blowout in a potential last inning in this ****ing week. Needless to say, the Coons did not make a comeback. 13-5 Loggers. Ramos 3-5, 3B, 2B;

In other news

April 13 – CHA C Ernesto Huichapa (.294, 2 HR, 8 RBI) has three hits and 5 RBI in an 11-6 win of the Falcons over the Indians.
April 15 – IND SP John McInerney (1-1, 2.63 ERA) and IND CL Dan McLin (0-0, 4.15 ERA, 1 SV) combine for a 1-hit shutout of the Titans in a 6-0 Indians win. BOS INF Edgar Gonzalez (.182, 1 HR, 2 RBI) spares the Titans being no-hit with a sixth-inning single.
April 15 – VAN OF Brian Wojnarowski (.257, 1 HR, 7 RBI) was out of action for a month with a biceps strain.
April 16 – Revenge! The Titans score 12 runs in the eighth inning to blow out the Indians, 16-3. Boston’s Keith Spataro (.375, 2 HR, 10 RBI) has three hits, including two home runs in the eighth inning, a 3-piece off Juan Melendrez and a grand slam against Matt Francis (0-0, 6.00 ERA). Spataro drives in eight in total.
April 16 – The Capitals send outfielder Tsuneyoshi Tachibana (.345, 0 HR, 3 RBI) to the Wolves for 1B Roberto Morales (.281, 1 HR, 6 RBI) and a prospect.
April 17 – DEN LF/RF Federico Nuno (.156, 1 HR, 3 RBI) will miss three weeks with a sprained ankle.

Complaints and stuff

*hhcks!!* … oh boy, where would I be without Capt’n Coma with some bits floating around in it? (pours two orange containers with white and yellow pills through a funnel into a nearly full bottle of booze)

Berto has a 15-game hitting streak. Gurney is doing quite well, and Sabre can be watched, too. The rest of the team is … “taxing”. And not just because of the 5.8 runs they allow per game, a value that actually went down on the weekend despite that 13-run meltdown on Sunday. The defense is terrible, the pitchers are worse. The rotation is abysmal. Bernie Chavez is on the DL. I want to go home and sleep through to October.

Also, this tidbit: Raccoons pitchers are throwing 1.3 strikeouts for every walk. That is a horrendous rate… Walks are well up, strikeouts well down for them.

What else? Dave Martinez was butchered in his first AAA start of the year, so that’s that. Deeper down, deep, deep down, last year’s #5 pick Manny Fernandez is batting .120 in Aumsville.

Fun Fact: The last time the Raccoons drafted a position player with a protected pick and he did not turn out to be a total turd was arguably in 2006, when they selected Jimmy Eichelkraut with the #3 pick.

Jimmy Oatmeal’s career ended at 33 because of injury and he never suited up for the Raccoons, so even this distinction comes with some sort of liberty. Eichelkraut hid little in the low minors and was included in the Ron Alston trade with Indy in July of 2008 as the Critters were zoning in on the playoffs and needed an extra bat (but still fell short). The Arrowheads sent him to Tijuana the same year with another player for Jimmy Sjogren, who went 34-34 for Indy in three seasons.

It took six years for Jimmy Oatmeal to get his first taste of the majors, but he only got brief cups of coffee in 2012 and 2013, hitting 5-for-32 with 2 RBI. He became a reserve in 2014, his age 26 season, batting .209 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in 84 games (22 starts). He was an actual bust at that point – and then burst out after all, hitting .291 with 18 homers in ’15, then .285 with 31 homers in ’16. He would hit over 20 in every full season he’d get from there, before a torn labrum ended his career in May of 2021.

He retired with a .266/.349/.466 slash line, 913 hits, 158 homers, and 510 RBI. Also had 66 steals and was an All Star twice. And it’s the best we’ve drafted (hitters, at least) in several decades.
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:43 PM   #2949
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Raccoons (6-6) vs. Crusaders (7-5) – April 20-22, 2032

This series, starting on Tuesday, would pit the Raccoons against the Crusaders, who had so far allowed the fewest runs in the Continental League. They only ranked eighth in runs scored, but that was still ahead of the Critters, who were 6-6 but also had been drubbed for a -21 run differential already… Maybe we could draw strength from the fact that we had beaten New York in last year’s season series, 10-8. – Yeah, no, I also didn’t really think so…

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (0-0, 3.75 ERA) vs. Ramiro Benavides (1-0, 2.84 ERA)
Tom Shumway (1-1, 6.14 ERA) vs. Steve Younts (1-0, 4.76 ERA)
Jason Gurney (2-0, 2.75 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (0-3, 4.37 ERA)

We would get a southpaw to begin the series, then two right-handed hurlers, so in fact this would be a series where the starting pitchers in each game would be opposite-handed.

Game 1
NYC: SS Obando – 1B Elder – 2B M. Hurtado – CF Coca – C Dear – LF Cambra – RF Reardon – 3B Ryder – P Benavides
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – CF Braun – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – C James – 2B Marsingill – P Sabre

Like every other Raccoons pitcher, Sabre got taken apart before the first patrons had a chance to get to the bottom of their first beer. Guillermo Obando reached on an infield single in the first, but was stranded then, however, the second inning was a never-ending nightmare. Matt Dear drew a leadoff walk, raced to third on a Firmino Cambra single, and scored on Chris Reardon’s single. Zachary Ryder singled to load the bases, and while Benavides hit into a run-scoring double play, Obando plated the runner from third (Reardon) with yet another single, this one blooping in a whisker’s length in front of Wilson Rodriguez. Only Jay Elder’s pop ended the miserable 3-run second. Sabre would drag his kicked and beaten body into the fifth inning, while getting zero offensive support, only to get kicked and beaten more. He faced four batters in the top of the fifth, and retired none of them. Obando tripled. Elder walked. Mario Hurtado had an RBI single. There was a wild pitch, then another RBI single for Tony Coca. It was 5-0, runners on the corners, and the Raccoons again had to turn to an already obliterated bullpen. Sabre ended up charged with seven earned runs once Victor Anaya barfed up more singles to Dear and Reardon, putting New York up 7-0.

And yet, Portland would put the tying run at home plate come the ninth, a result of their pen holding together (but then again they had just gotten a break from pitching six innings every day…), and of Benavides eroding away slow enough that the Crusaders initially didn’t pay attention. Adam Braun doubled and was singled home by Wilson Rodriguez with two outs in the sixth. Two outs in the seventh, Perkins homered with Ramos aboard, which also made him the first Critter to double-digit RBI this season. Jarod Howden, batting fifth after a pair of double switches, doubled home Braun in the eighth. Only after that one did the Crusaders get their pen involved. That pen held up, but just barely. Both Ramos and a pinch-hitting Josh Wool reached base in the bottom of the ninth, but Adam Braun flew out to right to end the game. 7-4 Crusaders. Ramos 2-5; Braun 2-5, 2B; Howden 1-1, 2B, RBI;

Mike Rutkowski was assigned to the middle game in a rotation shuffle for New York, vacating Steve Younts for the moment. The Coons had nowhere to go but to Tom Shumway, who – it is true! – was remarkably decent his last time out…

Game 2
NYC: 2B M. Hurtado – 1B Elder – SS Obando – CF Coca – RF Reardon – C Dear – LF Cambra – 3B Ryder – P Rutkowski
POR: SS Ramos – RF Rodriguez – LF Wallace – 1B Howden – CF Braun – 3B Perkins – 2B Cass – C Wool – P Shumway

Not that this was ****ing buying him any favors with New York. The Crusaders had two on in the first two innings and twice chucked into a double play to kill their effort. Shumway continued to look a little less convincing with every batter he faced, and he sure hadn’t looked like anything but trouble in the first, with Hurtado singling and Elder walking. By the fourth, Matt Dear got hold of a hapless fastball and dished it over the fence in left for a 2-run homer bringing Reardon across with him, the first runs in the game, too, with the Raccoons only getting a Ramos single the first time through. It extended Berto’s hitting streak to 17 games, but he sure couldn’t do it all on his own…

Shumway lasted six innings and allowed one more run in the sixth. It wasn’t quite his fault; with two outs Zachary Ryder hit a fly to left that Jimmy Wallace egregiously and stupidly dropped to allow Reardon to come home from third base. It was Wallace’s second error of the game – he had overrun a single for an extra base earlier – and with that he had made the most Raccoons contributions to the scoreboard… Ramos tied him with a second single in the bottom 6th, not that that went anywhere nice. Top 7th, Fleischer came out and issued a leadoff walk to Hurtado, which gave the right-hander ten walks in seven innings pitched on the season. There was ill command, there was wildness, and there was just plainly sucking the leather off the baseballs. He then added a third error to the board, throwing away Elder’s comebacker, and loaded them up with an Obando single. At this point the pitching coach was sent out to inform him that nobody would dig him out here and if he didn’t do it himself he could still win a free trip to St. Petersburg. Tony Coca hit to short, but too slow for two, and a run scored anyway with Obando out at second. Wool threw out Coca trying to nip second, and Reardon struck out, keeping the score to a technically doable 4-0. There was just one problem – and that was Rutkowski suffocating every Critter not lovingly named Berto. The Coons did not get back on base until the ninth inning when Ramos hit a leadoff single off Rutkowski. The team had three base hits, all Berto’s. Rodriguez popped out foul. Zitzner hit for Chris Wise and grounded out. Giovanni James hit for Howden and popped out foul, completing the 36-year-old Rutkowski’s shutout. 4-0 Crusaders. Ramos 3-4;

I hear there was bickering in the clubhouse after this one. I dealt with it by loudly singing a tune from my youth on my way to the car, so I could pretend not to hear, but perhaps my choice of music was a bit inappropriate given how the chorus ended with “what a wonderful world this would be”, and contained yet no advice on how to hit the insidious hitting, pitching, and fielding on this team.

No, Berto. You’re fine. You are doing well. You are batting .414 …

Game 3
NYC: 2B M. Hurtado – 1B Elder – SS Obando – CF Coca – RF Reardon – C Dear – LF Cambra – 3B Ryder – P E. Cannon
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Hall – RF Wallace – CF Braun – 3B Perkins – C James – 2B Marsingill – P Gurney

Thursday brought Eddie Cannon (2-0, 1.44 ERA), but before he could get actively involved, the Crusaders had already taken the clubs to Jason Gurney. Walks to Hurtado and Coca surrounded an Obando single to load the bases in the first. Chris Reardon doubled home a pair, Matt Dear hit a sac fly, and Firmino Cambra hit a jack to right for a 5-0 deficit. I turned to Cristiano Carmona who was sitting next to me in his wheelchair and asked him whether sometimes he just wanted to run away, to which he bluntly replied “Yes.” …

Ramos led of the bottom 1st with a single for an 18-game hitting streak, but Howden, the dumb pig, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch. Gurney on his own retired nobody in the second inning and was yanked after four outs. Cannon singled, Hurtado singled, Elder walked, and with the bags full yet again, Obando hit an RBI single to right. Hurtado was sent, but not only thrown out at home plate by Jimmy Wallace, but also took a hit to the knee and had to leave the ballgame, to be replaced by former Baybird Tom Hawkins. Nick Derks replaced Gurney and gave up a sac fly to Coca before Reardon grounded out, closing Gurney’s line at seven runs just like Sabre’s two days earlier, except that Sabre had at least collected 12 outs. The miserable Coons got 11 outs from Derks with no additional runs for New York, while they even scored two runs themselves. Giovanni James got his first Critter RBI singling home Adam Braun in the bottom 2nd, although that was unearned for Braun had reached on an error. And Ramos opened the bottom 3rd with a triple and scored on Nate Hall’s sac fly. Good, good, boys – only five more to go! Forward to the sixth where the Critters had Hall and Wallace on the corners and nobody out, then choked quite good. Adam Braun lined out HARD to Obando, dropping his average to .148, Perkins hit a sac fly, and James fanned embarrassingly, keeping the team still a slam short. Maybe Berto could hit that one… well, for starters he hit a double in the seventh, actually putting him a homer shy of the cycle for the second time this season. It also moved Preston Pinkerton to third base with one out and pulled up Howden, who struck out, the dumb pig. Nate Hall flew out to left. Nobody scored. Nobody reached in the eighth, and like Rutkowski the day before, Cannon was still dealing in the ninth inning… James and Marsingill made outs before Pinkerton singled for the second time. That brought up Berto. He flew out to center. 7-3 Crusaders. Ramos 3-5, 3B, 2B; Wallace 3-4; Derks 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K;

This was violent.

Can anybody on this team throw a ****ing pitch??

Raccoons (6-9) vs. Falcons (8-8) – April 23-25, 2032

Bad news: the Falcons were second in runs scored. They also had bad pitching, with the third-worst rotation and the fourth-most runs allowed, but both these numbers beat the Coons, as did their +2 run differential (Coons: -32). The Falcons were operating on the principle of win two, lose two, a pattern they had started late in opening week and were still carrying forward, and yes, they had lost their last two. They had lost four to the Raccoons in 2031, taking the season series, 5-4.

Projected matchups:
Ignacio del Rio (0-0) vs. Aaron Lewis (1-2, 4.50 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. Doug Clifford (2-0, 4.57 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Brian Bowsman (2-1, 3.00 ERA)

Del Rio was 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA after two starts in St. Pete. He replaced Nick Derks on the roster, who was waived and DFA’ed, a thankless procedure after life-saving long relief on Thursday, but nobody was thanking me for persevering through this torrent of tragedy, either… del Rio was up as a spot starter for now, but could win the gig for as long as Bernie was out if he did better than the rest of the bunch, which wasn’t THAT HIGH A BAR to fall over …!

Meanwhile we expected a lefty in Clifford on Saturday.

Game 1
CHA: 2B D. Ruiz – CF N. Nelson – LF Salto – C Huichapa – 3B G. Ortiz – SS Vitale – RF M. Mendoza – 1B Gustafson – P A. Lewis
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Hall – RF Wallace – CF Braun – 3B Perkins – C James – 2B Marsingill – P del Rio

Both teams got only one base hit the first time through the order. For the Coons that hit was a del Rio single in the bottom 3rd, while for the Falcons it was a homer, and of course it was hit by Greg Ortiz. (bites his lip until a drop of blood creeps out on the side of his mouth) On the plus side, Ignacio del Rio pitched really, REALLY well, even though the final box score wouldn’t show as much. The Falcons hardly got a touch on him for many innings (and the Raccoons did absolutely nothing to Lewis, of course) before another Raccoons hurler got dog-piled on in an absolute abhorrence of a miscarried inning. After three hits through six innings, Ernesto Huichapa, Ortiz, and PH Dave Trahan landed three hits in a row in the seventh; single, double, single, and two more runs were on the board in a 3-0 Falcons game. del Rio finished the inning, whiffing eight eventually, but oh, again, what could have been… Well, there could have been a lead after the bottom 7th with Lewis walking Braun and getting taken deep by Perkins, but now that only cut the deficit to 3-2. Enter Jonathan Fleischer, who loaded the damn bases in the top 8th with two walks (…!!) and a single, then left for Garavito to clean that **** up. Somehow the pen did not actually implode here, leaving the Critters with another chance to come back. They did nothing in the bottom 8th. Come the ninth, and right-hander Tony Rivas, Braun popped out. Perkins grounded out. James doubled through Sean Gustafson! The tying run at second bas- … and Josh Wool popped out to shallow left. 3-2 Falcons. Perkins 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; del Rio 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, L (0-1) and 1-2;

Also, Berto’s hitting streak was snapped due to him … not hitting. He went 0-for-4 as he struck out, struck out, popped out, and flew out.

We can’t have anything, can we??

Game 2
CHA: RF Trahan – SS Coughenour – LF Salto – 3B G. Ortiz – CF N. Nelson – C M. Cooper – 2B Jewell – 1B Gustafson – P Clifford
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – LF Hall – CF Braun – C James – 2B Marsingill – P Gutierrez

When Justin Marsingill hit a sac fly to cash Nate Hall and his leadoff single with three on and no outs in the bottom 2nd, the Raccoons had a lead for the first time this week. Oh, well, it was only Saturday… Gutierrez bunted into a force at third base, Ramos grounded out, and the Coons failed to make a significant impact. Perkins and Hall made impact though in the third inning, hitting a pair of doubles for a 2-0 lead, and the real question was when impact would be made by Rico Gutierrez on the Falcons’ bats or alternatively their fly swatters. Rico came in with a staggering 26 hits in 12 innings, but managed to hold the Falcons to one hit per inning early on, and none of them outta here. Charlotte got no hits in the fourth, but then had Clifford drill a double in the fifth with one out. Braun robbed Dave Trahan in the gap to keep Gutierrez together, and Ramos handled Dave Coughenour (sounds with fewer letters more like Cough-ner) hitting a roller to short to end the fifth.

Bottom 6th, Marsingill hit another sac fly, 3-0, with Braun and James on the corners and no outs. Gutierrez bunted badly again, but James still managed to leg out the throw by Clifford to second base and the Falcons got nobody on the play. Neither did they get one when Ramos grounded to first. Gustafson lunged and knocked the ball down, but it rolled away a few feet, and Ramos legged it out for an infield single. This gave Perkins a chance with three on and one out. Perkins’ 14 RBI led the team by a country mile already, and he tacked on another one with a clean RBI single to right, 4-0. Zitzner struck out, Rodriguez flew out to right to end the inning… Nate Hall got on, stole second, and scored on a James single in the seventh, and oh, by the way, Rico Gutierrez was still out there. He entered the eighth on 89 pitches with right-handed pinch-hitter Travis Adkins opposing him in the #9 hole. He hit a comebacker on the first pitch, Trahan grounded out, and Coughenour flew out to Hall – all on six pitches, and with a 5-0 lead, Rico would come back in the ninth. (Of course the relief corps was cocked and loaded…) Graciano Salto struck out. Greg Ortiz grounded sharply to Perkins – out. But Rico Gutierrez fell to 3-1 on Nate Nelson, so the bullpen guard put one hand on the door handle out there. Nelson slapped at the 3-1, up in the air, behind home plate, James tossed the mask and made the catch…! 5-0 Critters! Ramos 2-5; Perkins 3-5, 2B, RBI; Hall 3-4, 2B, RBI; James 3-4, RBI; Gutierrez 9.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, W (1-2);

Slappy? – Slappy? – Did you see it, too? – But you had a different sort of booze. – So it must be true?

Game 3
CHA: 2B D. Ruiz – SS Coughenour – LF Salto – C Huichapa – RF Trahan – 3B G. Ortiz – CF N. Nelson – 1B Gustafson – P Bowsman
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Hall – RF Wallace – CF Braun – 3B Perkins – C James – 2B Marsingill – P Sabre

The Falcons would score first against a Raccoons team that seemed to have left their sticks in Boston. Danny Ruiz, Salto, and Huichapa all doled out singles in the third inning for a run, and Nate Nelson homered in the fourth to make it 2-0. The Critters would get on the board in the bottom of the inning. Perkins legged out a infield single with one out, then raced for third base when Josh Wool singled to right. Dave Trahan wanted to see him thrown out, but misfired, and Ortiz had to chase the ball up the leftfield line, allowing Perkins to score and cut the deficit in half. Sabre remained mired in runners, though. Coughenour and Salto hit 1-out singles in the fifth. Huichapa popped out, and Dave Trahan grounded back to the mound. Sabre pounced, fired to first, or, rather, in the general vicinity. The ball however sailed over Howden’s head and took out a guy’s beer in the first row further up the rightfield line. That one cost two bases and thus a run, and brought up Ortiz, batting .274 with three dingers, with runners in scoring position. He grounded out to Howden, keeping the Falcons’ lead at 3-1.

Bottom 5th, three on, nobody out, one of THOSE spots… Ramos opened with a triple into the rightfield corner, and Bowsman walked them full against Howden and Hall, bringing up Jimmy Wallace, who had not gotten an RBI in a full week, but batted cleanup because somebody had to. He poked the first pitch, a liner to short, Coughenour leaping and reaching, but the ball got over his glove by no more than three inches and reached shallow left for a single! Because of the close play, only one run scored and the bases remained loaded in a 3-2 game. The Coons rolled up their priciest offseason acquisition, Adam Braun, a hitter feared from Atlanta to Alaska, and batting .129 … He popped out on a 1-2 pitch, Perkins tied the game with a sac fly, and Josh Wool dropped in an RBI single to put Portland up 4-3. That was it; Marsingill grounded out to end the inning.

Sabre lasted two outs into the seventh, but with Salto already having singled and stolen second. He was on third base and the tying run with two down and the left-hander Trahan up. The Coons sent Hennessy. The Falcons sent Matt Cooper to pinch-hit. Cooper homered to center, flipping the score to 5-4 Falcons. The Coons had no immediate answer, the eighth was uneventful, and in the ninth Chris Wise had both his arms removed with table spoons by the Falcons. Danny Ruiz singled, stole second, and scored on a Salto single, who also stole second, then scored on a Huichapa single. Quinn Jewell walked, and Wise was yanked after retiring one of five hitters faced… Garavito replaced him, but allowed a third run to score on a Greg Ortiz single… that one ended the game, with the lousy Critters now out by a slam. They couldn’t manage a single runner, and Brian Bowsman finished the game on an 8-hitter. 8-4 Falcons. Ramos 2-4, BB, 3B; Wool 3-4, RBI;

In other news

April 21 – Salem’s 22-year-old INF/RF Jose Castro (.406, 1 HR, 9 RBI) has a 20-game hitting streak that originated late in the 2031 seaso. Castro grabs two hits in a 5-3 loss to the Pacifics to reach the 20 mark.
April 23 – NYC 3B/SS Guillermo Obando (.366, 0 HR, 11 RBI) has five hits, including a triple, and drives in a pair in the Crusaders’ 13-6 smashing of the Thunder.
April 23 – SFB OF Ryan Cassell (.367, 1 HR, 7 RBI) plates five with a 4-hit effort in the Bayhawks’ 19-6 blowout of the Indians.

Complaints and stuff

To recap, we lost five of six this week, gave up 29 runs – bad, but not outrageous – and the offense was atrocious enough that three opposing pitchers tossed complete games. Our run differential is already at -32, and April is far from over. That bold statement that this could be a .500 team is not looking very great right now…

You want a really fun stat? Rico Gutierrez now leads the starters in ERA.

(shrugs and returns to the booze)

Fun Fact: Rico Gutierrez’ shutout on Saturday was the ninth of his career, his first not against a CL North team, and the first since *2026*!

Remember when he shut out the Loggers like it was breakfast? In the three years from 2024 to 2026, Rico shut them out no fewer than FIVE times. He also got the Indians twice, and the damn Elks once. His best performance was probably a 2-hitter against the Loggers on July 17, 2026 with no walks and eight strikeouts – and he followed that up with a 4-hit shutout against Indy in his next start.

Yeah, all that **** gave him a 9-year, $16.96M contract we’re still chewing on…
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Old 08-18-2019, 09:07 AM   #2950
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Raccoons (7-11) @ Aces (10-9) – April 27-29, 2032

Luckily, the Critters got outta town just when the Agitator started comparing this quite inept pitching staff (so far, at least) to other historically inept Raccoons pitching staffs. 2000, anyone? Randy Farley was the only starter even vaguely near league average …! Meanwhile the Aces, who had lost 108 games last year, were pretending to be a .500 team with phenomenal pitching. They had allowed the second-fewest runs in the CL so far, with their starters ranked fourth and their pen leading the league by ERA. Scoring runs was an entirely different beast; they sat ninth in that category, but then again the Critters were in the bottom three in either ranking… We had taken six out of nine from them in 2031, and our 5-year streak of winning the season series from them was now by far the longest we had against any CL team.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (1-2, 5.23 ERA) vs. Robby Gonzalez (3-0, 1.55 ERA)
Jason Gurney (2-1, 5.57 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (1-2, 4.75 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (0-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. Ismael Gutierrez (1-3, 4.61 ERA)

All righties here, and in fact they had only one southpaw, Nick Van Fossen in their pen, so maybe that could give the Critters a bit of an edge in this series, which started on Tuesday after another Monday off day.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Hall – RF Wallace – 3B Perkins – C James – CF Braun – 2B Marsingill – P Shumway
LVA: CF C. Flores – 3B Armfield – 1B Jon Gonzalez – 2B Yi – LF Montes – RF Crow – SS Schlegelmilch – C R. Ortiz – P R. Gonzalez

Dropped to seventh in the order, our sterling .125 hitter Adam Braun responded to the humiliation by hitting a sac fly in the second inning after Jimmy Wallace and Giovanni James had gone to the corners with a pair of singles. Justin Marsingill added an RBI triple to run the tally to 2-0, but was left on when Tom Shumway struck out. Tom Scumbag would face EIGHT batters before finding one that didn’t put the first or second pitch in play, so a clobbering was on the horizon. Carlos Flores had singled on the first pitch in the first inning, but had been doubled up, yet in the second an Andy Crow double and Ted Schlegelmilch’s single got the Aces on the board. Ricky Ortiz’ grounder to short kept them down at 2-1, however, at least for the moment. The defense did a stellar job of keeping a completely wonky Shumway in one piece, while the Aces’ shoddiness caused them another run in the third inning. Ramos singled, scored, advanced on a groundout by Jarod Howden, and then came home when Ortiz had a pitch escape through his legs.

Shumway threw only 72 pitches in the game, which was “good” enough for six and a third. The seventh began with a Jon Gonzalez single, then a full-count walk to In-chul Yi. Shumway stuck around for the lefty batter Andy Montes, who popped out, then was replaced by Jared Stone. The Aces countered with left-handed pinch-hitter Ruben Orozco, who had three homers and four RBI and flew out to Nate Hall. Schlegelmilch grounded out softly, dispelling the Aces’ threat. Top 8th, Howden and Hall hit 1-out singles off Gonzalez, with Howden, the dumb pig, trying to reach third base on Hall’s blooper to right, but being thrown out by Orozco. Hall moved to second on the play, but was left there when Jimmy Wallace popped out to Montes in shallow left. Bottom 8th, Stone retired Ortiz before left-handed PH Nick Hatley prompted a move to Garavito, but hit a double to center anyway. Exit Garavito, enter Fleischer, who bled runners after an initial out from Flores. Chad Armfield walked. Jon Gonzalez, the ex-Coon, hit an RBI single. Yi walked on four pitches. Exit Fleischer, enter select curses and insults as well as David Fernandez. At 2-2 he took something off the fastball and fanned the outfielder to end the inning and strand three in a 3-2 game. James walked against Steve Bailey in the ninth, then was doubled up when Travis Zitzner hit for Braun. So many problems on this roster, and no solutions… Bottom 9th, enter Chris Wise and his 10.13 ERA. Yeah, even the home plate umpire asked whether we were serious. But for one night Wise demonstrated why he had a job in baseball at all, rung up Todd Baer and Schlegelmilch, and ended the game by getting Josh Motley to ground out to Howden. 3-2 Coons. Hall 2-4; Braun 1-2, 2B, RBI; Shumway 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, W (2-2);

Adam Braun was endlessly fascinating. He was hitting .136 with a .148 BABIP. He did not strike out much at all – six K in 66 at-bats, fewer than Ramos! But he had only nine base hits, four of them doubles. He was the unluckiest bastard alive, but Wednesday was the right time to give Preston Pinkerton his first actual start in the majors…

Before that, however, the Coons sent Sam Cass (.111) back to St. Pete and activated Tim Stalker from the DL.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hall – RF Wallace – 3B Perkins – 1B Howden – C James – CF Pinkerton – P Gurney
LVA: CF C. Flores – 3B Armfield – 1B Jon Gonzalez – 2B Yi – LF Montes – SS Baer – RF Crow – C Motley – P Guyett

When Baer grounded out to short in the bottom 2nd, Jason Gurney had already pitched deeper into this game than into his last. But there were hardly any other good news to report. The Coons had three runners through four innings, doubled off two of them and never reached second base. The Aces didn’t score through three, but had Todd Baer back at the plate in the bottom 4th with Yi (double) and Montes (single) on either corner, one out, and Stalker couldn’t reach Baer’s spiked bouncer on an 0-2 pitch. That RBI single was the third straight base knock with two strikes, and it also produced the first run of the game. Both Crow and Motley flew out to Pinkerton in center to strand a pair, but sometimes one can be plenty. Gurney walked Guyett to begin the bottom of the fifth, prompting some choice words from his own dugout, which in turn spurred strikeouts against Flores and Armfield and an inning-ending Gonzalez grounder to Justin Perkins.

Preston Pinkerton was then the first Critter into scoring position, being bunted there after a leadoff single in the sixth inning. Ramos’ grounder to Armfield moved him to third, and Stalker’s grounder to Armfield moved him back to the dugout to get his glove and return to his position in centerfield. The middle of the order gave Gurney more pains and the Aces another run in the bottom 6th, however, again with a Yi double and a Baer RBI single. Montes had to console himself with a deep out made to Jimmy Wallace, but it was 2-0 anyway, and sometimes two can really look like six… which is to say, nobody really saw Jarod Howden’s 2-out, 2-run homer in the seventh coming. Guyett had just walked Perkins and his first pitch to Howden slid into the sweet zone for a lefty wannabe slugger. It went only 333 feet, but wrapped around the foul pole neatly enough. In turn Josh Motley hit a leadoff jack off Gurney in the bottom 7th, also on the first pitch, giving Vegas a new lead. Gurney was yanked after Guyett hit a liner for a single (…), with Victor Anaya seeing the Coons out of the inning before being hit for with Braun in the eighth. Braun struck out… The Coons didn’t get back on base until Nate Hall’s 1-out double to left in the ninth against Bailey, who hung around to face Jimmy Wallace and ran a full count before getting a good pitch to drive. He drove it all the way over the fence for a score-flipping home run! And yes, that was his first of 2032. His first of MANY, I will claim to cover my personnel decisions! Chris Wise worked hard to prove he was still the closer, retiring the Aces in order again, this time exactly the other way round with two grounders and a closing K against Schlegelmilch. 4-3 Critters. Wallace 2-4, HR, 2 RBI;

I like how we are 4-2 in 1-run games.

We are also 1-6 in blowouts decided by 4+ runs, and 0-3 if you only consider games decided by 8+ runs.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hall – RF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 3B Perkins – CF Braun – C Wool – P del Rio
LVA: CF C. Flores – 1B Jon Gonzalez – RF Montes – 3B Armfield – C Motley – SS Baer – LF J. Garcia – 2B Yi – P I. Gutierrez

Wallace almost made it back-to-back go-ahead homers, but flew out to Montes right at the fence to end the top 1st with Hall on first base. Adam Braun hit a 2-out double in the second, then scored when the Aces did not consider Josh Wool worthy of a free pass. His grounder eluded Chad Armfield for an RBI single, the first run of the game. Ignacio del Rio did not allow a base hit until the fourth inning when Jon Gonzalez lined a leadoff single into left, and while he walked Motley with two down in the inning del Rio still got around the jam with Baer grounding out to Perkins. Nobody reached for Vegas in the fifth, and del Rio piled up six strikeouts through five, which was not an amount seen often on a team currently starved for strikeout artistes.

Adam Braun came a step closer to relevancy in the sixth inning. Finding Wallace on second and Perkins on first with one out against Gutierrez, Braun zinged a liner up the middle for an RBI single, raising his average to a lofty .157 and the Coons’ lead to an equally impressive 2-0. Wool also singled, loading the bases for del Rio with one out. This was not a spot to pinch-hit in desperation, and del Rio was also hitting 2-for-4 this season. Yeah, not here though. He never saw a fastball from Gutierrez and was twirled back into the dugout. Ramos, however, found the gap for a 2-out, 2-run double, running the tally to 4-0 before Tim Stalker could fly out to Montes to end the inning. del Rio nailed the first guy up in the bottom 6th, Flores, but Perkins made a wonderful stab on a Gonzalez bouncer and turned that into a 5-4-3 double play. The sweep got more real when Nate Hall smacked a leadoff jack in the seventh, 5-0, and his first dinger for Portland. Del Rio went into the eighth, but got stuck there. He walked Jose Garcia, allowed a single to Yi, and an RBI single to Flores. Stone replaced him and got a double play grounder from Jon Gonzalez, who was hitting .368, but came up decidedly not clutch in this game.

And then the pen blew it in the ninth. Stone began the inning with a walk to Montes, got out Armfield, but then we sought out Hennessy against Motley, who singled anyway. Todd Baer walked, loading the bases and bringing up the tying run in PH Ricky Ortiz, a switch-hitter. Hennessy hung around and gave up a sac fly. After that, Fleischer was sent to deal with Yi, who was hit for by Orozco. Fleischer hung one, Orozco found it, and belched a 3-run homer to tie the game at five, ultimately sending the contest to extra innings. The Coons put two on via the walk against Shinsaburo Matsubara in the top 10th, but couldn’t get through when Howden hit for Fleischer and flew out to center. Anaya put Montes and Armfield on the corners in the bottom 10th, but Motley grounded out to Stalker. They had Andy Crow on first base in the 11th when the pticher’s spot came up with two outs – but the Aces’ bench was empty (the Coons had ONLY used Howden so far). Matsubara batted, and struck out, but persevered in the 12th, too. Flores reached with an infield single to begin the bottom of that inning, was bunted over by Gonzalez, and the Coons went to Garavito against the left-hander Montes, who grounded out, moving along the winning run. Armfield hit a floater to center, Preston Pinkerton – arriving in a double switch with Garavito – zoomed in, but not fast enough, the ball dropped, and the Aces walked off. 6-5 Aces. Hall 2-4, 2 BB, HR, RBI; Perkins 2-5, BB; Braun 2-6, 2B, RBI; Wool 2-3, 2 BB, RBI; del Rio 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K;

After this disaster, somebody had to lose his head. It was Fleischer. The 3.72 ERA was alright, but the 14 walks and two dingers in 9.2 innings weren’t. He would dress up an Alley Cat for the first time since ’27 on Friday, as we used his final option.

Not knowing any smart thing to do, the Coons called up Nick Bates, who had 16 K in 15.1 innings in AAA as well as an 0.59 ERA.

Raccoons (9-12) @ Titans (15-7) – April 30-May 2, 2032

The Titans were playing .750 ball ever since dropping the first two games of the season to the Critters, a feat I did not think them capable of repeating. Boston ranked only fifth in runs scored, but were allowing the fewest markers around the league and had a +24 run differential. Their rotation led the CL with a 2.86 ERA. If you ever got to the pen, those guys were merely average. We had a 2-1 edge in the season series so far.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (1-2, 3.86 ERA) vs. Josh Walsh (0-1, 6.38 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (0-1, 5.96 ERA) vs. Alex Contreras (2-0, 2.54 ERA)
Tom Shumway (2-2, 4.33 ERA) vs. Adam Potter (4-0, 2.08 ERA)

Looked like we’d wiggle around their two southpaws, Mario Gonzalez (2-2, 2.70 ERA) and Dustin Wingo (4-1, 2.23 ERA). But they had been off on Thursday, so they could make a change if they desired.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hall – RF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 3B Perkins – CF Braun – C James – P Gutierrez
BOS: C Lessman – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – CF Acor – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – RF Jamieson – 3B Knudson – P Walsh

There was no shutout for Rico Gutierrez this time around. The Titans were a challenge for the best pitchers having all their stuff, and Gutierrez had little stuff and not a good time. He missed graciously in all directions, issuing a leadoff walk to David Lessman in the first that didn’t lead anywhere when Dustin Acor prematurely poked at a 3-0 pitch and popped out. In the bottom 2nd he was less lucky, surrendering straight 2-out hits to ex-Coon Matt Jamieson (can we rewind that deal, please? No?), Dan Knudson, and – sigh – the opposing pitcher, Josh Walsh, singling in the game’s first run before Lessman excitedly struck out. Bottom 3rd, the end was near. Leadoff walk to Willie Vega, then an infield single for lead-footed Justin Uliasz, one of those unmistakable signs that you needed a change of panties before the seventh-inning stretch. Acor grounded to short, Ramos threw the ball behind Stalker, and the bases were loaded with nobody out on the gross error. The pitching coach went out, but the only good news he had for Rico was that in heaven, he could have ice cream every day. Keith Spataro hit a soft RBI single that dropped in front of Wallace, Rhett West made the first out on a pop, but Jamieson kept the line moving with an RBI single, 3-0. Gutierrez fell to 3-1 on Dan Knudson, who then poked a comebacker. Rico pounced and started a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. Yes! A break!

A break that was highly temporary. Walsh led off the bottom 4th with a single, and Gutierrez got only one more out while getting spanked for another three hits. Two runs were across after Spataro’s 1-out RBI double, 5-0 now, and two more were waiting in scoring position. Jared Stone drilled West to load the bases, then conceded Gutierrez’ runs on a Jamieson grounder over the second base bag, 7-0. This team reeked of nothing but agony and defeat. At this point, Walsh (who had come in with an ERA over six, by the way) was facing the minimum still. Perkins knocked that smirk off his face with an RBI double, plating Wallace, in the fifth, but with the ex-Titans Perkins and Braun on the corner, Jarod Howden pinch-hit for Stone with two outs and fanned miserably, the dumb pig. The Coons were defeated soundly enough to have Preston Pinkerton pitch for them in the *seventh*. The first guy he faced was Walsh. He walked him. Lessman singled. Vega hit an RBI double. Uliasz and Acor both hit sac flies, 10-1. After that desolate experience, Pinkerton singled in the eighth. Then he was caught stealing. At some point Stalker drove in Ramos in the late innings. It didn’t really make it rain on the Titans’ party. 10-2 Titans. Wallace 2-4, 2B; Perkins 2-4, 2 2B, RBI;

That would be loss #4 with a margin of at least eight runs.

Oh boy.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hall – RF Wallace – 1B Howden – 3B Perkins – CF Braun – C James – P Sabre
BOS: RF M. Walker – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – C Lessman – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – CF Acor – 3B E. Gonzalez – P Potter

Newly minted Pitcher of the Month Adam Potter retired the Critters in order in the first, while Mark Walker tripled over Hall to begin Sabre’s day. Vega turned a full count into a walk, Uliasz hit an RBI single, and the rout was probably on already. Lessman singled through Howden, who weirdly fell over the ball to no great effect, at least for Portland, and the bags were full. And, oh yeah, THE DUMB PIG!! Spataro plated a run with a grounder, West hit a sac fly, and Braun somehow spoiled Acor’s drive to hold the Titans to three in the opening inning. While the Coons batted in the top 2nd, the cameras caught Sabre sitting dead-eyed and motionless in the dugout. It got only worse from there. Edgar Gonzalez flew out to begin the bottom 2nd, and Sabre struck out Potter, except that Giovanni James lost the ball and chased it through foul territory, allowing the ****ing pitcher to reach base. Mark Walker turned Sabre inside-out with a 2-run homer to right, the kid had an ERA over seven, and the Raccoons had to consider filing for contraction. Sabre bunted with Braun on first base in the third inning, but slapped it back to Potter hard enough that Braun was totally dead at second base. When Sabre crawled back to the dugout following Ramos’ groundout to end the frame, James chirped down from the dugout railing with a bowl of ice cream that his bunt had ruined the inning. Sabre slapped the bowl out of James’ paws, and they hissed with raised fur at each other until the umpire called for order and for the Coons to resume pitching, or whatever it was their mincemeat starters were doing… Spataro drew a walk in the bottom 3rd, but was caught stealing, the first runner curtailed by Giovanni James in the brown shirt after the previous 11 had all swiped their sack of destination.

The Coons stayed with Sabre as long as in any way possible since their ramshackle bullpen was already completely overworked. This included shrugging off Mark Walker’s RBI double in the fourth, 6-0, because what was the worst that could happen? Could they even allow so many runs that it would count for two losses? I couldn’t find that in the rulebook! …and that was the philosophy on May the ****ing First. What in heavens had happened to the sentiment of “maybe a .500 team”??? The end for Sabre came in the sixth and in truly spectacular fashion. Dustin Acor hit a leadoff single to right, then stole second off the feuding battery. Gonzalez walked anyway. Okay, enough. Let him handle the bunt, and then … I don’t know, will the orphanage in Venezuela take him back? But Potter, who nursed a 2-hit shutout, didn’t bunt. He swung away. Lined a ball to left. All the way into the corner. Acor scored. Gonzalez scored. Potter reached third base with a 2-run triple. Sabre was collected covering his face with his glove all the way into the tunnel to the clubhouse, where he fell down a set of three steps because he literally didn’t see them coming, but what damage could stone stairs realistically do to a guy that routinely got raped for seven runs? Eight actually, and those were only the earned ones; Willie Vega hit a run-scoring grounder off Hennessy, who, like Sabre, had an ERA well over seven. Potter finished with a 4-hit shutout. The Coons had runners on the corners in both the eighth and ninth. They didn’t score. 9-0 Titans. Braun 2-4, 2B;

Loss #5 with a margin of 8+ runs.

Mark Walker fell a single short of the cycle in this particular episode of Overcoming Baseball – How to Spend Your Time with Purpose. We’d turn this into a DVD set. – What is it, Mena? – They don’t make DVDs anymore?

Well, what the **** do I know?

Game 3
POR: LF Hall – SS Stalker – 1B Zitzner – 3B Perkins – CF Braun – RF Rodriguez – C James – 2B Pinkerton – P Shumway
BOS: RF M. Walker – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – CF Acor – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – C Lessman – 3B E. Gonzalez – P M. Gonzalez

We asked Shumway for decency, the Titans for mercy, and the sky for something that would end the game after five innings. The first two wishes were not granted, which became clear after one inning. Tom Scumbag walked Vega, walked Uliasz, gave up a trinket to Acor that counted for three, and then proceeded to shuffle guys aboard. He allowed three hits, three walks, and four runs in the inning. Bottom 2nd, Mark Walker with the leadoff single, stole second, scored on two productive outs, 5-0. Three scalding hits scored another run in the third, and yes, we were taking our turns at-bat, but that only resulted in more emotional agony. Hall reached base right at the start of the game, then was doubled off by Stalker’s grounder. James was on base in the third, and Shumway bunted into a double play. At this point, the Coons’ offense was basically doling out free shutouts to the opposition…

And yet it took Tom Scumbag 103 pitches and 4.2 innings to reach his quota of seven earned runs on the board, finally attained with straight 2-out singles by the Gonzalezes – yes, of course including the opposing pitcher, and on a 1-2 pitch! – and Walker, the latter plating the run. Garavito replaced him to face Willie Vega, allowed a grounder to the right side, off the glove of Pinkerton into rightfield, Mario Gonzalez in to score, Mark Walker racing for third base, Wilson Rodriguez’ throw to third … WILD! Of course wild. Justin Perkins dilly-dallying for the ball in foul ground, Walker across home plate, 9-0! Actually, make that 11-0 on the Uliasz homer to left. At that point I locked myself in a toilet for two innings of wailing and screaming, because sometimes a man has to do that in public, and sometimes a man must really do that in private. Never mind the patrons using the other stalls and being bewildered by the animalistic noises coming from the stall at the far end.

It was still 11-0 when I came back in the eighth. Apparently the Titans couldn’t be bothered to score any more, or they had emptied all the fairy dust in their bats, or whatever the **** was going on. Gonzalez pitched into the ninth, but looked gassed even before conceding a 1-out single to Hall and nailing Stalker. Tim Zimmerman replaced him. Zitzner grounded out. Perkins grounded out. 11-0 Titans. Hall 2-4; Bates 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K;

In other news

April 26 – SAL INF/RF Jose Castro (.437, 1 HR, 9 RBI) runs his hitting streak to 25 games with a double in the fifth inning in the Wolves’ 5-0 win over the Capitals.
April 26 – The Thunder’s OF/1B Drew Olszewski (.205, 4 HR, 10 RBI) drives in six runs on three base hits, including two homers, as Oklahoma knocks off the Indians, 13-5.
April 26 – SAC SP/MR Pete Molina (0-0, 1.50 ERA) will miss at least a year with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
April 26 – CIN OF Ken Gibbs (.185, 0 HR, 4 RBI) is ruled out for the season with a particularly severe concussion.
April 28 – IND CF/LF John Baron (.291, 2 HR, 14 RBI) drives in six on four hits, including a homer and a double, in a 15-4 rout of the Thunder.
April 28 – The Loggers place SP Mike Hodge (2-1, 1.80 ERA) on the DL with a torn rotator cuff. They hope to get him back in September.
April 28 – SFW 2B/SS Mario Colon (.338, 4 HR, 13 RBI) was going to miss two to three weeks with shoulder soreness.
April 29 – NYC OF Chris Reardon (.397, 0 HR, 16 RBI) pieces together a 20-game hitting streak with a second-inning double in a 4-2 win over the Bayhawks.
April 30 – The hitting streaks of both NYC Chris Reardon (.387, 0 HR, 16 RBI) end SAL Jose Castro (.413, 1 HR, 9 RBI) end at 20 and 25 games, respectively. Both are held hitless by the opposition in games their teams lose. Castro had not played since reaching 25 games on Monday on accounts of nausea.
April 30 – ATL C/1B Steve Garcia (.304, 1 HR, 12 RBI) cranks three hits and drives in five runs in the Knights’ 13-0 rout of the Thunder.
May 1 – SFW SP Pat Okrasinski (1-1, 3.52 ERA) might be out for the season with a torn labrum.
May 2 – The Cyclones trade INF Elijah Williams (.287, 0 HR, 7 RBI) to the Rebels for MR Tony Fuentes (0-3, 8.49 ERA).

Complaints and stuff

OH. BOY.

Playing to a .375 is one thing, but the other thing is doing that and yet being +3 in terms of a Pythagorean record thanks to now six losses of 8+ runs. They really oughta be 6-18 with their various woes. Remarkably, the 5.11 team ERA would BY FAR be the worst in team history if they could keep it up, while the .240 batting average would be the worst since 1984.

While I will not be able to join the team in Vancouver for the 4-game set starting on Monday, I have learned from Maud that the shipment of soothing butt paste has already arrived there so the Druid can treat our pitchers with that.

Not a good week either for former Raccoons pitching prospects that had long earned their meal money elsewhere. Besides Molina, there was also Danny Arguello being ruled out for the season with bone chips in his elbow. Apparently it looks like a minefield in the bendy part of the 35-year-old Cyclone.

Our scout, that guy with the name, left me with a few scouting reports from players on the baseball team of our charity of choice, the Willamette Institute for the Limbless and the Blind. There’s this junior named Kyle that was born with arms only half the normal size, but he can bring the curveball, the scouting report says, and would be a remarkable upgrade over any of our current starting pitchers.

Well, I better get on the phone.

Next week could bring the 4,600th regular season win for the franchise (snorts laughing) … as the road trip will continue through Elktown and Topeka. The Critters will zing across the Rocky Mountains six times this month: from Boston to Vancouver, from there to Topeka, home to play the Warriors, weekend trip to New York, back home to play Indy and Oklahoma, then another road trip to Atlanta. We thank the schedule makers a whole bunch!

Fun Fact: The 2001 Raccoons tied the franchise high water mark with a 4.63 team ERA. Only one pitcher – starter or reliever – had an ERA better than 3.50: Mark Thomas;

Mark Thomas pitched zero innings that season. He faced one batter and was charged with an unearned run. He only appeared in one other career game as a major league pitcher, getting clubbed for four runs in one inning in 2002.

Mark Thomas was not a pitcher. Mark Thomas was a 14-year catcher.
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Old 08-19-2019, 05:41 PM   #2951
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Courtesy warning: if you’re reading this to your children to make them fall asleep, you are advised to skip the entirety of the Elks series and go right to the Buffaloes set.

+++

I took another curious look at the note with the address, then looked at the building again. This was it. This was the address that Maud had given me. A fantastically fancy, relatively new apartment building on the west side of Portland in an otherwise sparsely built up hillside area. I also let my trusty stuffed toy raccoon Honeypaws take a look at the note, then shrugged and went inside. There was a guy behind a white marble counter eyeing me briefly before typing something into his computer. In at least three corners there were tiny red lights blinking in dark corners – security cameras for sure. I had to take the left-hand elevator, Maud had stressed, so I went to that one and pressed the button with the upwards pointing arrow – the only one available – then waited.

After the Raccoons had suffered the mother of all sweeps in Boston (30-2 in terms of runs in case you partially or wholly erased the ghastly memory with self-medication of your choice), the team had gone north of the border to play the abominatious Elks. Of course, I was still not allowed back into Canada, stemming from an incident in the 80s when I had ripped an Elks cap from a kid’s head in a waterfront park in Vancouver and had stomped on it. The hat, not the kid. Still, the Canadians were kinda weird with being cruel to children. The authorities, not the team. Although, that too. Anyway, several illegal border transgressions for important business since then aside, I had not accompanied the team to Vancouver in decades, and usually watched in horror from my couch at home.

But not this time. I just couldn’t be alone. Unfortunately, few of the people I considered friends or something like that were available to watch the game with. Steve from Accounting had gone fishing, which I didn’t remember him ever mentioning to enjoy. Maud had left town to visit her mother, which I found weird since I’d swear she had been to her funeral at least twice in the past. I was also fairly sure that both our lazy janitor Slappy and glue-sniffing mascot boy Chad actually lived in Raccoons Ballpark, so there was no visiting them. The Druid and our scout, that guy with his name, were obviously in Canada with the team. That only left – oh, the elevator finally arrived, it was all fancy white inside – one person. There was also only one button inside the elevator. Nowhere but “^” from here, apparently. I pushed that, held on to Honeypaws with my left hand and to a small bag with a change of clothes and various pills – whatever I had been able to find and what would mix well with booze – in my right hand.

Man, this elevator was moving upwards *forever*.

When it finally arrived at “^”, the doors opened with a gentle whirr and allowed the occupant to step out into a very short sort of hallway that was dimly lit. There was but one door on the other end with a lit buzzer next to it. Honeypaws pressed that with his front paw. Within seconds, the door was opened by a young man that was about 6’4’’ and … well, we were both sort of surprised apparently. He by the sudden, unannounced appearance of an old man in a well-worn jacket, and I was sort of taken by his flowing blond locks that fell to the shoulders and were the only hair on an otherwise clean-shaven body. He only wore a black thong that seemed unnecessarily tight at first glance, and a white bowtie around his neck.

I’m… I’m sorry. I am looking for Senor Carmona. Is he home? – Mr. Westfield, it is.

The hunk turned around and said to somebody inside that Mr. Westfield was here, which immediately caused some thing or other to collapse with great noise, and after a second of silence I could hear Cristiano’s voice, but couldn’t understand what he was saying, but the towering hulk soon stepped out of the door and lowered his head slightly to allow me inside.

“Senor Westfield, what a surprise!”, Cristiano said with actual, genuine surprise in his voice. He sat in his wheelchair in the middle of a giant living room, mostly white, and next to him was a pile of several bars and straps that all had collapsed on top of each other. In his lap he had a brown bag with something inside that had the size and general shape of a bottle of booze, but I couldn’t be sure of that. I wasn’t sniffing the booze, though… Although – that wasn’t … Say, Cristiano, that is not your wheelchair, isn’t it? Yours is black and white, and this one is pink! – Oh, I see, you have more than one.

Only now I noticed the view from the panorama window opposite the apartment door. You could basically see the entirety of Portland, lit up as the night was just about to take over for the day. This view is spectacular, Cristiano!

Cristiano hushed something to the hulk, whose name was apparently Gustaf, to remove the things on the floor to the annex, then rolled up to me at the window. “How may I help you, Senor Westfield?” – Well, for starters, you could tell me where NWSN is on this 140-inch TV so we can watch the Raccoons game together…!

Raccoons (9-15) @ Canadiens (7-18) – May 3-6, 2032

The damn Elks were just as ravaged as the Raccoons were. They were the only team to be bludgeoned for more runs by the opposition (precisely six per game), and were ninth in runs scored, which put them ahead of the Critters, 3.8 runs per game to (gulp) 3.4 runs. The season series in 2031 had gone 10-8 in favor of the Coons, but after last week’s disaster I was not going to take anything for granted, and a series with the damn Elks especially…

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (2-1, 5.33 ERA) vs. Fernando Nora (0-2, 6.75 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (0-1, 2.51 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (1-3, 8.10 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (1-3, 5.84 ERA) vs. Victor Govea (1-3, 6.15 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (0-2, 7.48 ERA) vs. Jeremy Truett (0-3, 6.34 ERA)

We would miss their only lefty and only decent starter, Steve Corcoran (2-2, 4.42 ERA), the beer league guy, in this set.

Going by the starting pitching on offer, this looked a lot like a relegation playoff set between the Calcutta Lepers and Jerusalem Barefoots.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hall – RF Wallace – 1B Howden – 3B Perkins – CF Braun – C James – P Gurney
VAN: 2B Morrow – CF LeJeune – RF I. Vega – 1B D. Fisher – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – LF A. Torres – C van der Hout – P Nora

While Cristiano vanished with Gustaf in another room for a brief moment, me and Honeypaws got comfortable on the black-and-white couch that somehow felt weird and watched the pregame show with the Raccoons’ broadcast duo that was also still visibly spooked from the Boston Experience. When Cristiano rolled back into the living room, my keen eye noticed he had changed to the wheelchair he came to the ballpark with. He rolled up to me and pointed to the couch, advising me that I had to move over. But why, Cristiano, I’m comfy here! – Okay, show me. … I switched over to the middle seat, leaving the right one for Cristiano, who pushed himself from the wheelchair to the cushion I had just been made to vacate – the only seat that was not partially blocked by the glass table in front of the couch. He turned the wheelchair around so that the low backrest pointed away from him, then threw his limp feet onto the seat before reclining in the couch. … Oh, so that’s why. Say, what’s this couch? It feels weird. – They make zebra leather couches??

Nah, I’d stick with the brown couch in the office. And the Raccoons would stick to sucking the fun out of baseball. Gurney, who came in with an ERA over 12 in his last few starts, was clubbed for a leadoff double by Eric Morrow, then an RBI single by Ivan Vega in the first, then a leadoff single by Matt Anton and a 4-pitch walk to Alex Torres, who was otherwise more or less over the hill of being a productive player in the second. The runners were in scoring position for Morrow, who clipped a 2-out single up the middle to plate them both and give the damn Elks a 3-0 lead after two innnigs. I clutched Honeypaws for strength. Trying to be a good host, Cristiano offered me a drink, and that I could order anything with Gustaf. I told Gustaf: “The hardest thing you have”, to which he replied that he seriously doubted that.

Turned out, Cristiano only had wine at home, which was hardly going to keep my system at operating temperature, but sometimes one had to make amends. Besides, I still had a few pills to spice up my glass o’ wine with. – Hey, Gustaf! How about some snacks over here? … Gustaf nodded, then asked Cristiano wanted anything, to which Cristiano answered: “Gee, I’d really like some nuts now…!” – Before long, there was a bowl of mixed nuts between me and Cristiano, and each of us held a glass of Chardonnay. There were some painkillers floating in mine. That was roughly around the time Donny van der Hout rocked a 2-run homer to left off Gurney, running the tally to 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth, a point at which Fernando Nora was pitching a no-hitter. Gurney managed to stay alive for five, then was pinch-hit for with Wilson Rodriguez, who was himself in a fatal stall where his performance was concerned, but at least broke up Nora’s bid with a soft liner over Morrow for a 1-out single in that sixth inning.

Come the seventh, Gustaf sat to my left with his own glass of Chardonnay and manicured his fingernails, which was not disturbing at all to me and Honeypaws. The Coons, meanwhile, had runners on the corners and no outs after back-to-back leadoff singles by Nate Hall and Jimmy Wallace! But now…! Now they’d surely end a 24-inning scoreless drought! They did so in the most unhelpful way, aided by the fact that their most unhelpful player was at the plate. Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, took a 2-0 pitch and spanked it at Morrow for a quick 4-6-3 double play. Hall scored, but the damn Elks were counting outs rather than runs, and the Coons had only seven outs left to make up four runs. And, well, the sure got the tying run to the plate real quick…! Nora was still pitching in the eighth while Cristiano and Gustaf were discussing whether they’d visit the farmers’ market on Wednesday. Giovanni James led off the inning with his first jack as a Critter, a no-doubter to left, prompting spontaneous toasting and cheering on the zebra couch. Preston Pinkerton – entered in a double switch – walked, moved up on a wild pitch, but Ramos was also walked. Stalker singled to left, and that brought up Nate Hall with the tying runs board and no outs, in other words: they had us right where they wanted us. Nah, not this time. Hall doubled to left, plating two to get to 5-4, and with that the Elks’ pen got involved at a frantic pace. Wallace struck out, Howden walked, and Perkins grounded to Morrow, but they couldn’t turn two and Stalker got across with the tying run. Unforunately, this forced out our most reliable reliever, David Fernandez, who had entered in the double switch earlier, to get Travis Zitzner to the plate, who, facing righty Matt Tillman, stupidly popped out on the first pitch, stranding runners on the corners in a 5-5 tie. And who’d pitch now? This was not a question of “best option” for the Coons who came out of Boston where they’d been stuck 30 runs in three days. It was more about, who had a pulse. We had to go to Hennessy, the 6.97 ERA be damned.

So we used that guy for two innings, which was good enough to send the game to extras, which was bad enough since we had basically nobody left besides Chris Wise. Nate Hall got on in the 10th but was stranded against Raul de la Rosa, so the Critters had to abuse Hennessy for a third inning, which still didn’t permit the damn Elks to win the game, something even two innings’ worth of Chris Wise could not achieve. Berto reached base in the 12th, but got absolutely no help from the 2-3-4 crew. Wallace was walked intentionally with Ramos on second, and of course Logan Bessey would then strike out Howden, the dumb pig. Top 13th, Perkins (infield single) and Pinkerton (walk) reached base. In between, Wise struck out bunting, which was helpful. I was firmly annoyed, while Gustaf was firmly asleep with Honeypaws pressed against his hairless chest, his blondly locked head resting on my left shoulder. Come the bottom 13th, come Mauricio Garavito. He allowed a 1-out single to T.J. Bennett, then walked Anton. Alex Torres, who had a golden sombrero at this point, flew out to Pinkerton, two down. Fernando Garcia, their primary catcher, was next, ran a full count, then hit a bloop to shallow right. Wallace coming in, coming in… too late… the ball was in, Bennett had been halfway to third base when Garcia made contact, and scored handily, ending this ballgame. 6-5 Canadiens. Hall 3-6, 2B, 2 RBI; Perkins 2-6, RBI; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1; Stone 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K; Hennessy 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K; Wise 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

Okay, Cristiano, where do I sleep? – Yeah, one’s own bed is the best bed, but it’s late and I don’t like driving late at night, and are there muggers out here?

While I watched Cristiano fix a bed for me in the guest room – Gustaf was still asleep on the couch and couldn’t do it, and neither could I wrestle Honeypaws from his clutch – I tried to orchestrate roster moves.

Through no fault of his own, John Hennessy was sent packing after this game. The pen was so thoroughly shot, words could not describe it, and we had to rotate a fresh arm in. Same with Nick Bates. We called up earlier discard Matt Stonecipher, who had spent all of 2031 in the minors walking 42 batters in 54 innings between AA and AAA, and who had 58 walks in 75 innings at the major league level, but who was rested and ready, as well as former starter Trevor Draper. That latter one was more a despair move… there were no clever arguments for adding him except that he could eat innings, perhaps.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – LF Hall – RF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 2B Marsingill – CF Braun – C Wool – P del Rio
VAN: 2B LeJeune – 2B Morrow – RF I. Vega – 1B D. Fisher – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – LF A. Torres – C van der Hout – P J. Martin

Back to the Chardonnay; Gustaf, wearing a golden thong that was much less concealing the shapes it tried to cover, was cranky because we had to watch the game yet again, so Cristiano sent him to bake cookies, which was a splendid idea. Who didn’t like cookies!? … Probably these Raccoons and Elks. The Coons didn’t seem to be into everything anybody would enjoy, like GOOD PITCHING, while the damn Elks were tasteless top to bottom without question.

Both teams stranded two in the opening frame, but the first marker on the scoreboard would belong to the brown team for once (and for the first time since Vegas), when Justin Marsingill opened the second with a double to right, advanced on a grounder, and then came home on Josh Wool’s sac fly to center. Bottom 2nd, Matt Anton opened with a double, Torres singled, and they were on the corners. This was one of those spots where a young pitcher could learn to buckle down and get the bottom of the order without conceding anything! And Ignacio did! Van der Hout popped out, Martin whiffed, but Torres had stolen second by now. Ah, just get rid of Jesse LeJeune and - … and LeJeune singled, two runs scored. He then stole second and scored on a Morrow single. Morrow then stole second and scored on an Ivan Vega homer that Nate Hall didn’t have to bother to run after, and that gave the damn Elks a 5-1 lead… I turned to Cristiano. Say, Cristiano. What do you regret most in life?

Alex Torres’ solo homer made it 6-1 in the third, and that new relief would probably soon get involved. While the Raccoons were not nearly threatening on their own in the fourth inning, Gustaf appeared, wearing an apron with little duckies on it and asked whether we needed anything. – Gustaf, can you pitch? – No? How about swinging a stick? – Yeah, I also think that would be more up your alley, with that physique. – What is it, Cristiano? Why are you laughing into the pillow?

Del Rio was removed for Tim Stalker to pinch-hit when the Elks manufactured a chance for them with two outs in the fourth. Zitzner had reached on an error, and Martin walked Braun and Wool. That was perhaps the last chance to come back, so Stalker took a bat… and flew out to Vega. Now, why was Anaya coming in? Apparently, the plane with the relief relievers had been caught in a storm and had been diverted to Manitoba.* The Raccoons had only five relievers, most of them gassed, available. Victor Anaya pitched into the fifth, where Nate Hall robbed a homer from Alex Torres, which didn’t matter much given how the Elks still rapped out a double, two triples (all three over the head of Braun), a single, got a walk, and a Ramos error to boot, before – with five on the board and more on base – Anaya claimed a “sore heel” and got the **** outta there. Stone got five outs for the second day in a row, so we wouldn’t see him so soon, and then we still had to feed a southpaw to the lions by pitching him a third straight day.

Just as Wilson Rodriguez drove in a useless unearned run with a pinch-hit double off the fence in the seventh, Gustaf returned with a bowl of cookies, announcing they were still warm and, looking at Cristiano, some were indeed hot. Cristiano smirked until he looked into the bowl, then asked in an annoyed tone whether Gustaf really had to use that particular cookie cutter. Gustaf replied he thought Cristiano liked those. I looked into the bowl. The shape of the cookie really looked like nothing to me. What is it, Cristiano? Some sort of Christmas ornament? Like two baubles next to a candy cane? – Yeah, I thought of something like that. … They were delicious though, something to take into your mouth with delight! Other than the Coons, who provided no delight. Travis Zitzner homered off has-been Chris Sinkhorn in the eighth, and that was it for this game… 11-3 Canadiens. Rodriguez (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Stone 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Garavito 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

We amounted to four hits in this game, and that was … a bit less than the damn Elks, who by the way hung us with our seventh loss of 8+ runs on may 5…

I was invited to join the trip to the farmers’ market, but declined. I didn’t feel well around produce. I also had to do business with Vancouver. I called the Druid, who assured me that Anaya’s heel was fine, that he had been warned not to fake another injury or he would be treated with stink beetle paste (it probably had the name for a reason), and that the Manitoba-bound pitchers had arrived early in the morning and were available for the Wednesday game. Good, good – with Rico Gutierrez pitching, every arm had to be on deck! Well, except for Garavito and Stone, who were both completely shot.

My hosts returned for lunch, Gustaf pushing Cristiano who had two huge bags with produce in his lap. Apparently there had been a lot of broccoli offered at the market. – What’s for lunch again? – Ah. Broccoli.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Hall – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – 3B Marsingill – C James – P Gutierrez
VAN: 2B Morrow – CF LeJeune – RF I. Vega – 1B D. Fisher – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – LF A. Torres – C F. Garcia – P Govea

Rewarded with a start, Wilson Rodriguez drove in two in the opening inning when the Coons put up some 2-out terror against Govea. Hall walked, Wallace singled, there was a wild pitch, and then another walk in a full count against Zitzner. Wilson’s well-placed single into shallow center provided a lead for Rico Gutierrez to blow sooner rather than later. Maybe rain would do him in ahead of time. It had started to pour in Portland in the evening, and rain was in the forecast for Vancouver, too. There were some drops in the second inning, but neither that did hurt Rico, nor the damn Elks. Instead, Hall reached base in the third and was brought around when Jimmy Wallace hit one over the fence in right, his second homer of the season and that was also only the second Raccoon (after Perkins) to reach double digits in RBI. Oh well, it’s only May… Further, Gustaf asked me whether we were actually rooting for the brown team. Of course we were, I replied with righteous indignation. Who else would we root for?? Gustaf said he preferred the Canadiens’ reddish-pink uniforms. No wonder. They had the same color as his thong du jour.

The Critters led 4-0, but that was nothing that Gutierrez couldn’t blow. I was watching him closely while I was sprucing my Chardonnay with some harder liquor I had ordered for express delivery in the morning, and pills against diarrhea, no idea where those even came from. He was allowing line drives aplenty. Stalker swiped one, and Rodriguez caught two, and also a fly by David Fisher on the warning track, but Rico nursed a 2-hitter through four innings. Maybe, for once, it would all be well…!

I had to be new around here. While Gustaf shook his head and resorted to doing yoga or whatever in front of the window during the middle innings, something Cristiano keenly watched and took a few snapshots of with his phone, the sixth inning saw things getting dicier for Gutierrez. Micah Massey batted for Govea leading off and drew four straight balls. Morrow right away hit a clean single. Oh boy! Here it comes! I tried to grab Honeypaws, but instead only caught Cristiano’s left hand. Didn’t matter – squeeze it! LeJeune popped out. Vega hit a liner to left – but Wallace was there! Would we actually get out of – nah. At least not Gutierrez. He walked Fisher, which brought up the tying run in Bennett, and we wanted a right-hander. Which meant Wise … or Stonecipher. Here the Coons counted on the fact that the Elks had no up-to-date scouting report on Stonecipher, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2030. He had Bennett 1-2, then gave up a grounder to left. Marsingill, to first – out! Staggeringly, the Elks could not come through in the seventh, either, which Stonecipher and Draper shared, while Gustaf’s exercise was over and he announced he’d take a shower now. Cristiano suggested that he use the special oil in the green bottle with the flowery smell. He’d like that. … Well, I’d like a win here! The Coons got a tack-on run in the eighth through no fault of their own as Matt Tillman walked Hall, Wallace singled, and Zitzner hit into a double play. Hall scored when Tillman uncorked a wild pitch. Rodriguez struck out – and that was the final act in the game. The rain had picked it up in the previous minutes and the umpires brought on the tarp in the middle of the eighth. They never lifted it again and called the game after just under an hour of waiting. 5-0 Furballs! Hall 1-2, 2 BB; Wallace 4-4, HR, 2 RBI; Gutierrez 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, W (2-3);

Cristiano and Gustaf both went to bed while I was still waiting for the game to be called. Oh ye faithless! Finally the NWSN guys briefly came back to announce that the game was indeed in the books and the Raccoons had ended their 6-game spill. Never mind that they were 4-12 for their last 16.

While I was getting ready in the bathroom I heard thumping noise from Cristiano’s room. My way to the guest room brought me by his door and there the noise was even louder and more disturbing. Finally I heard Cristiano say, subdued, but insisting, that it was too big and he should pull it out now. He sounded like he needed help, so with a firm hand I opened the door and found him lying in bed comfortably in a brightly lit room, while Gustaf, still in the thong, tried to knock an anchor into the wall above the bed, but the diameter of the anchor and of the hole were not conforming to the task.

I wished them a good night.

Next day at breakfast, the final day of my visit, Gustaf reminded Cristiano that today was the day for which they had sent out invitations. – What, are you having a party? – What means “sort of”? How do you have a “sort of” party? - … Cristiano would try to explain to me that it was more of an informal get-together of like-minded individuals, thinkers with a free spirit, so to say. – So it’s not a costume party? I haven’t been to a costume party in ages! – So *some* wear costume and some … don’t? – I am intrigued, and I am sure you can make it work around me and the game on NWSN in the living room!

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – 1B Howden – RF Rodriguez – CF Braun – C James – P Sabre
VAN: 2B LeJeune – 2B Morrow – RF I. Vega – 1B D. Fisher – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – LF A. Torres – C F. Garcia – P Truett

For the first time in a long while, the Raccoons had an almost fully rested bullpen at their disposal. Also, despite some consideration, the costume party was not called off by my hosts, and guests were expected to arrive at eight, roughly three innings into the game. That was well after the Coons loaded the bases with straight 1-out singles in the opening frame. Of course, it also brought up Howden to bat, so only the worst would happen here. Like Cristiano slapping my hand when I reached into one of several bowls with cookies and other refreshments, advising me that I had to wait for the other guests to arrive. Howden knocked a 1-1 pitch to right, it hit Perkins in the leg, the runner was out and the ball bounced right to Morrow, who could have turned two, but of course it was a dead ball. Stalker scored, but... Oh, Howden – YOU DUMB PIG!! But the Coons were not done singling Truett to death – Rodriguez, Braun, and James ALL hit RBI singles, running up a 4-0 score, before Sabre flew out to center. It didn’t take long for the damn Elks to get a chance at damage. Anton walked with one out in the bottom 2nd, and a Torres infield single and another walk to Garcia filled the bases. Truett fell to two strikes, but hit a sac fly to Nate Hall, but LeJeune’s comebacker short-circuited the inning and kept the Coons ahead, 4-1. They just came back in the third when Sabre nailed Morrow, Fisher walked, and Bennett hit an RBI single, 4-2. Fly outs ended the inning, the Coons came back to bat, and then first guests came just as I returned from a bathroom break. Cristiano opened the door wearing a dark mask, but otherwise he was dressed normally in his black-and-white wheelchair. And so was, well… Gustaf. Today, wearing a bright red thong and a matching bowtie. Also, a red line painted diagonally across his face. Cristiano let in the guests; a bearded, middle-aged man with a wide girth wearing what to me looked like a wizard’s outfit, and a second man, younger, wearing black shorts and a black blindfold over his eyes. He was also crawling on all four paws and was led on a leash by the older man, who kissed Cristiano’s right hand twice as they entered. I puffed Gustaf in the elbow, which required some reaching up. Those must be those free thinkers, huh? … Gustaf didn’t respond with anything. He just put his index finger over his lips as if to silence me. Well, that wouldn’t work!

By the fifth inning, I sat between the bearded wizard and his … “companion” on the couch. His companion behaved like a dog and had himself rolled up with his head on my leg, which was uncomfortable, and probably for both of us. Cristiano, Gustaf, and two other guests – one a straight-dressed banker type in his 30s that looked too much like no-nonsense to fit in here, and the other, an older woman with thick red hair in a purple cloak everybody only addressed as “Madam” – were loosely sat around the table and discussed in serious tone a new ointment Madam was developing that was supposed to be pain-soothing, while the Raccoons slowly accumulated on base. Stalker hit a double. Hall walked. Howden was walked intentionally after a Perkins groundout. Two outs and bags piled up for Wilson Rodriguez. As Madam expressed that she had good mantra today and would now draw a personal luck card from her customized deck, Jeremy Truett threw the 0-1 pitch to Rodriguez. The blast to center was massive, and the ball was never seen again – GRAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!

Turns out, jumping up and screaming while Madam mixed her deck was bad timing. I was immediately accused of disturbing the spirits, and my jump had scared the **** out of dog man and he fled to the corner, where he was now cowering over a self-made wet spot. By the bottom of the fifth I was silenced with a yellow silk cloth firmly wrapped around my mouth and Madam read in my hand to find out what the **** was wrong with me while the wizard hell me still and Gustaf cleaned up after dog man, who was now kneeing next to Cristiano’s wheelchair, with his head resting on Cristiano’s right knee. She didn’t take long to find out that I had no joy in my life and was frequently not sleeping well. She and the wizard were discussing back and forth a bit before by the seventh inning the banker type chimed in. He stood up, bade for silencio, and then pointed directly at my face, expressing slowly that I was not pure, and a ritual had to be performed. Then he sat down and closed his eyes while his facial muscles twitched. Cristiano nodded and agreed and that we had to cast lots. Gustaf reached for one of the bowls of snacks on the table, under which there was a small black box that he opened. It contained a number of simple wooden tokens, painted black. Gustaf gave one to everybody except for me and dog man, who apparently also wouldn’t get to cast a lot, but the damn Elks got a run off Sabre in the seventh. One after the other, Madam, the wizard, the banker type, Gustaf, and finally Cristiano, spoke a formula in a foreign language, then finished with “I cast my lot”, and put their token in front of me. – So, do I win?

In the following second, the Wizard and Gustaf grabbed my arms and dragged me from the couch to the open space near the panorama window. With the assistance of Cristiano and Madam they tied my hands behind my back, tied my feet together, and then blindfolded me with more silk cloth. Then it seemed like they moved in circles around me – at least I heard steps and a faint ticking noise that Cristiano’s wheelchair made in motion that circled around me – and chanted, before moving on beating the demons out of me with pillows. According to Madam it was a tedious process, because there were so many demons in me and there had been demons in me for such a long time. After an eternity and very abruptly they let go of me and without another word seemed to leave the room. All but dog man. At least I assumed it was dog man who started licking my face at this point. Uhm? Hello? Did at least- … did at least the Raccoons win…?

8-4 Raccoons. Stalker 2-4, 2B; Perkins 2-5; Howden 2-4, BB, RBI; Rodriguez 3-5, HR, 5 RBI; Braun 1-2, BB, RBI; James 2-4, RBI; Sabre 8.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, W (1-2);

Come Friday morning, I found myself in bed in the guest room. Apparently, somebody, likely Gustaf, had carried me in there. We had breakfast, with Gustaf and Cristiano smirking at each other nonstop, and then Gustaf drove me to the airport since I had to get Kansas pronto.

Raccoons (11-17) @ Buffaloes (14-13) – May 7-9, 2032

The Buffaloes had the fewest runs scored in the Federal League and ranked fourth in runs allowed, but that gave them a -11 run differential that didn’t gel well with their winning record. Oh well, like the Coons needed to throw dirt. According to a Pythagorean record table, we were square at the bottom of the league with our -59 run differential… The Buffos has won the most recent meeting between these teams, two games to one, in 2030.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (2-3, 6.25 ERA) vs. Joe Jones (1-2, 2.41 ERA)
Jason Gurney (2-1, 5.91 ERA) vs. David Elliott (4-2, 3.63 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (0-2, 5.19 ERA) vs. Nick Danieley (1-2, 2.54 ERA)

Two left-handers and a right-hander in this series.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – LF Wallace – CF Braun – C James – P Shumway
TOP: SS Majano – 3B Hansen – RF P. Sanchez – 1B Barber – LF E. Rendon – 2B Schuler – CF K. Hess – C Castillejo – J. Jones

For a pleasant surprise, Tom Scumbag didn’t explode on contact. In fact, neither team got a limb up against the opposing pitcher in the early innings, both amounting to only one hit and mostly soft contact. The Coons went on to waste a leadoff double by Stalker in the fourth inning, but the Buffaloes threw away leadoff singles by John Hansen and Pablo Sanchez in their half of the fourth inning, too, being retired on a soft liner and two pops.

New inning, new chance for the Critters! Jimmy Wallace opened with a double to center, raising his average to .313 not that it translated into many RBI still. Both Braun and James coaxed walks to fill the bags with nobody down, but up was the pitcher Shumway, 0-for-11 this year and a .122 hitter lifetime. He had not landed an RBI since *2029*. Here, he struck out, while Ramos hit into a double play… Alright, booze! Where can I get a drink in here?? Bottom 5th, Shumway allowed a leadoff single to Ken Hess, then walked Adrian Castillejo. When Jones bunted foul for a strikeout, the fool would have thought that Tom Scumbag was now going to take the break and find a way out of the inning. I was sure that doom was coming this time, and it came. He walked John Hansen. He walked Sanchez with the bases loaded, 1-0 Buffos. Matt Barber chipped in a 2-run single before Edwin Rendon hacked out. It almost looked like too little, too late when Justin Perkins hit a solo shot in the sixth, but the Coons’ pen managed to tie down the Buffos after Shumway’s demise and Portland scratched out another run on a Ramos Special in the eighth inning, Perkins getting another RBI, his 20th, with a sac fly. And then, of all people, it was ex-Coons to starve what rally there was in the Critters. Josh Boles took over the eighth with his 8.00 ERA and ended it. And Jonathan Snyder pitched a quick and painless ninth. 3-2 Buffaloes. Wallace 2-4, 2B; Draper 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – RF Rodriguez – 1B Zitzner – CF Braun – C Wool – P Gurney
TOP: SS Majano – 3B Hansen – RF P. Sanchez – 1B Barber – LF E. Rendon – 2B Schuler – CF K. Hess – C Castillejo – P D. Elliott

Randy Schuler’s double and Ken Hess’ single in the second inning put the Buffaloes up 1-0, while David Elliott retired the Critters in order the first time through. Barber and Rendon would go to the corners with leadoff singles in the fourth, but only one of them scored on a Schuler groundout, 2-0. The Raccoons still had to reach base, with Ramos having lined out to two different outfielders and two other flies having been caught right at the fence… and while Wilson Rodriguez hit a single in the fifth after 13 straight Critters had been retired, leaving David Elliott decidedly half-perfect, Gurney shed another run in the bottom 5th on Elliott’s leadoff single (oy!), Zitzner failing to dig out Alex Majano’s bunt (oy!!), and then a few well-placed outs. It wasn’t that Gurney was horrendous. In fact between him and Elliott there was not much difference. Both had few strikeouts, couldn’t get a 2-strike pitch swung and missed at, and surrendered mostly soft contact. The difference was that the Buffaloes got the ball to fall in, and the Coons definitely didn’t. Gurney lasted seven and trailed by three, while Topeka out-hit the Critters 9-1. It was that sort of game. One team had all the luck. Top 8th, leadoff single by Rodriguez! Now the rally could sta- and Zitzner hit into a double play. Adam Braun flew into the gap… and was robbed by Sanchez. Elliott finished with a 2-hit shutout, whiffing seven in the end. 3-0 Buffaloes. Rodriguez 2-3;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – CF Hall – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – C James – P del Rio
TOP: SS Majano – 3B Hansen – RF P. Sanchez – CF E. Rendon – 1B Barber – 2B Schuler – LF Reyna – C Castillejo – P Danieley

Ramos hit a leadoff double in the first, finally a bright blip on an otherwise dismal week for him, then was stranded by the inept batters after him. The miserable Raccoons could not even buy a break when del Rio hit a leadoff single in the third inning. Ramos popped out foul, and Stalker spanked into a double play. At least the Buffaloes had yet to wake up and stomp another pitcher into the mound; against del Rio they had only one base hit through three innings, and then the Coons finally scored a damn run when Rodriguez doubled in Hall in the top of the fourth. Young Ignacio held up through five on a 3-hitter, and now we just needed an insurance run or two or four.

Top 6th, Stalker opened with a leadoff double to left-center. Hall was walked intentionally for a double play chance, but Perkins’ grounder yielded only a fielder’s choice and gave Jimmy Wallace runners on the corners. He hit a ball past a diving Randy Schuler for an RBI single, 2-0, and they were still on the corners for Wilson Rodriguez, who had defrosted at record pace and had gained nearly 80 points of batting average compared to Monday morning, but now gave some back with a run-scoring groundout to John Hansen. Wallace went to second, then scored on a sharp Howden single to left, 4-0. Giovanni James hit another rocket, but that one landed in Danieley’s mitten as if attracted by magic, ending the inning. del Rio surrendered a triple to Sanchez in the bottom 6th, but the veteran and sure-as-heck future Hall of Famer also hurt himself on the rough slide and had to be replaced by Yasuhiro Kuramoto, who was left stranded when Rendon popped out.

Top of the seventh, del Rio began with a clean single to left-center before Ramos legged out an infield single and Stalker knocked a clean one to right. Three on, no outs, and it had gone so fast that the Buffo’s bullpen was not ready yet. He walked Nate Hall on four pitches to plate another run before being replaced by right-hander Mike Willis, and would be charged another run on a sac fly by Perkins, 6-0. Ignacio continued to pitch without much panic through the seventh and eighth and was allowed to begin the ninth, however – he would face the meat of the order and he was already at 98 pitches, so relievers were standing by and would probably jump in relatively soon. Kuramoto grounded out to Stalker. Del Rio rung up Rendon. Barber singled to left on pitch #105. Okay, last batter would be Schuler, a .173 batter, and they’d have a left-handed bat in Miguel Reyna up after that. So Schuler or bust for del Rio bidding for a shutout. Schuler cracked the first pitch to left, chasing Jimmy Wallace back, and further back, and further back – and … and he had it! Catch on the track, and game over!! 6-0 Critters! Ramos 3-5, 2B; Stalker 2-5, 2B; Hall 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; del Rio 9.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, W (1-2) and 2-3;

In other news

May 3 – Aces and Bayhawks play 16 innings before Las Vegas prevails, 5-3. Key to the 2-run top of the 16th is a triple by LVA SS Ted Schlegelmilch (.364, 0 HR, 2 RBI) who enters the game as defensive replacement and goes 2-for-3.
May 3 – ATL SP Justin Osterloh (2-1, 2.15 ERA) is expected to miss two months with acute elbow soreness.
May 4 – Boston will be without C David Lessman (.302, 1 HR, 8 RBI) for about six weeks. The 32-year-old backstop has suffered a lat strain.
May 4 – LAP INF Ben Cook (.238, 2 HR, 9 RBI) plates five runs on two hits and two walks as the Pacifics down the Warriors, 14-5.
May 7 – DEN 1B/OF/2B Tyler Miles (.357, 2 HR, 11 RBI) has hit in 20 straight games following a 2-singles effort in a 6-3 win over the Bayhawks.
May 8 – Denver’s Tyler Miles (.349, 2 HR, 11 RBI) has his hitting streak end at 20 games after the Bayhawks hold him and the rest of the Gold Sox dry in a 4-1 San Francisco win. Miles gets only three at-bats as replacement in an 18-inning marathon that sees long man DEN MR Dan Jerge (1-2, 4.76 ERA) unhorsed by his own catcher, Jeremiah Brooks’ throwing error.

Complaints and stuff

Second career win, first shutout – I don’t know many pitchers to get an ol’ SHO so fast as Ignacio did on Sunday! In doing so he also shed a one and three quarters of a run off his ERA. Ah, early season wonders!

Wilson Rodriguez went from bench piece to a .409 hitter with a dinger and TEN ribbies on the week. He had a hit in every game except Friday, and tacked 205 points onto his still meek OPS. His nine hits this week are more than he had in all of April (7).

The hypothesized 4,600th regular season win did not materialize. Next week, we’d need two from the Warriors and Crusaders to get there.

Also interesting – will I be able to look Cristiano in the eye when I get home to Portland?

Fun Fact: The Buffaloes series was the first of the season in which the Raccoons scored at least two more runs than the opposition.

Previously we had gone +1 on the Titans to start the season (oh, those were the times!) and +1 as well on the Aces last week. There are also a couple of ugly numbers in play that I will not repeat again.

*Or some idiot wrote too much nonsense and forgot to put them on the roster.
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Old 08-21-2019, 05:43 AM   #2952
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Raccoons (12-19) vs. Warriors (14-17) – May 11-13, 2032

The Critters had lost two of three to the Warriors just last season, and in fact hadn’t won a series from them since the days of Jonny Toner and Hector Santos, a sweep in 2020. They were not particularly close to the music in the FL West, lacking an impact offense (8th in runs scored), or any sort of meaningful pitching (10th in runs allowed). Well, who didn’t? (shrugs) Their rotation was crummy with a 4.14 ERA, but their pen was the worst in the league with a 4.67 ERA.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (2-3, 4.75 ERA) vs. Jimmy Souders (3-2, 4.58 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (1-2, 6.56 ERA) vs. Lorenzo Viamontes (1-1, 3.38 ERA)
Tom Shumway (2-4, 6.14 ERA) vs. Jose Medina (2-3, 3.38 ERA)

After the off day on Monday, the Critters would get two righties and a lefty, and I kept getting smirks from Cristiano Carmona whenever he rolled across my path in the office. This was uncomfortable. I’d need to find a place to hide…

Game 1
SFW: SS Matos – CF P. Cisneros – 1B K. Henderson – C M. Thompson – 3B Rozenboom – LF Chaplin – RF C. Martinez – 2B Hereford – P Souders
POR: SS Ramos – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – RF Wallace – 1B Howden – CF Braun – 2B Marsingill – C James – P Gutierrez

Rich Hereford was batting .208 with three homers after signing with the Warriors over the winter, coming off four-and-a-half years and a ring in Portland. He reached base to begin the third inning, legging out an infield single when neither Gutierrez nor Howden, the dumb pig, could make a play, and nobody was left on first base anyway. That was the Warriors’ only hit through the first three innings, while the Coons would have two. Perkins hit a single in the first, and James knocked a leadoff double in the third, and neither came around to score. Top 4th, Rico Gutierrez threatened to come apart all at once just when he had lowered his earlier monstrous ERA to an almost decent 4.32; Kumanosuke Henderson opened with a single to right. Mike Thompson walked in a full count. And Nick Rozenboom was bluntly drilled. Three on, no outs, and not much of a plan or stuff (14 K in 33.1 IP) in place. Both Mike Chaplin and Cesar Martinez nearly hit one outta here, but Wallace and Hall, respectively, made plays at the fences and held both to a sac fly each. Hereford hit a 2-out single, Rozenboom to second, and Gutierrez had Jimmy Souders at 0-2, then gave up a ****ty floater for a single that loaded the bases, at which point he deserved whatever the **** the ****ing Warriors would ****ing do to him. Turned out he cleverly took off the slam by balking, then gave up a 3-piece to Jesus Matos, 6-0 Warriors. In other words – game over, once again. Hey, maybe they could lose by eight again, that would be fun…

There was a rain delay in the fifth that was brief enough to allow Souders to stay in the game although he allowed a run in the frame, Ramos singling home Giovanni James. That was the extent of their rally. Matos hit another homer in the seventh, a solo shot off David Fernandez, which was the first run on Fernandez’ ledger this season. The last two innings were delivered by Trevor Draper, who put four Warriors aboard but stranded all of them when it didn’t mean squat. The Raccoons were not doing anything remotely of that sort and went down rather silently in the final few frames. 7-1 Warriors. Ramos 2-4, RBI; James 2-4, 2B; Stonecipher 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K; Draper 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K;

The southpaw Medina was moved into the Wednesday game by the Warriors. But did it really matter who we’d hit for nothing against?

Game 2
SFW: SS Matos – CF P. Cisneros – 1B K. Henderson – 3B Rozenboom – RF Dalton – C McCullar – LF Wadley – 2B Hereford – P J. Medina
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – RF Rodriguez – 1B Zitzner – CF Braun – C James – P Sabre

Dan Dalton and Jeff Wadley drew walks in the second, Hereford hit a single to left, Dalton scored, drew a pathetic throw from Hall, and Wadley and Hereford moved into scoring position. The rout was on, basically, despite Medina making the second out to Zitzner. Sabre surrendered a bloop single to right to the terror Matos, which would plate one, or maybe two in case Wilson Rodriguez overran the ball, which he did, 3-0. Pedro Cisneros singled. Henderson walked. OH GOD-****ING-DAMNIT!!! I banged my fists against the glass windows in a fit of rage. GET THAT ****ING THIRD OUT YOU USELESS LITTLE ****!!! Rodriguez would get it for him, catching a drive to right that Nick Rozenboom hit at 1-2, holding the Warriors to a 3-0 lead with another three stranded.

Bottom 2nd, some faint scramble. Perkins singled and then Rodriguez hit a jack to right-center to cut the gap to 3-2. Zitzner singled after that, and then Adam Braun, the death of me, fell to .155 with a 4-6-3 double play. Top 3rd, Dalton with a hit, Ethan McCullar walked, and Wadley got nailed. For ****’s sake. Sabre was now again three deep with nobody out. Hereford hit into a double play to Stalker, with a run scoring, which put McCullar at third with two down and the pitcher up. Medina cracked a single to right, 5-2, and that was it for Sabre, who was kicked off the mound and all the way to the dugout by a frustrated pitching coach. Frustration didn’t lessen with Draper trying to get the final out, which took him two singles and another run on the board. Rodriguez drove in Hall with a single in the bottom 4th, but that only shortened the gap to 6-3, and today’s long man – Victor Anaya – did a good job of holding them at that distance. He pitched scoreless ball in the fourth, fifth, and sixth, and also hit a leadoff single in the bottom 5th before the 1-2-3 batters all struck out against Medina. Wadley, Hereford, and PH Cesar Martinez chained together base hits in the seventh to get a run out of Anaya after all, so there was that… The eighth saw Chris Wise in action. Our closer hadn’t pitched in about a week since what the **** had he to close? He also had that 6.23 ERA that was hardly qualifying for the job description, but then again… He retired the 3-4-5 batters in order in the inning. The ninth went to Preston Pinkerton for the third time this season (but it was May already, so…). McCullar grounded out, Wadley singled, but was caught stealing, and then Hereford walked. Then things snowballed once more. Thompson doubled, Matos singled in another two, quickly rising on my list of most-hated players not on our own team. Braun would catch a Cisneros fly in the gap to end the misery. Well, once three more outs were made in the bottom of the inning. Zitzner hit a leadoff single off righty John Simenson and was doubled in with two outs by Jimmy Wallace. Ramos reached on an infield single. Stalker popped out cluelessly to finish the day 0-for-5. 9-4 Warriors. Perkins 2-4; Rodriguez 3-4, HR, 3 RBI; Zitzner 2-3; Wallace (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Anaya 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K and 1-1;

Roster moves. The Raccoons dumped Trevor Draper (0.00 ERA, but a meltdown waiting to happen), who was put on waivers, and also optioned Raffaello Sabre (7.51 ERA). He was ****ing awful.

Everything was ****ing awful.

We wouldn’t need a starter in Sabre’s spot the next time around, so added two relievers in John Hennessy (who had earlier been demoted just to get a rested arm up) and … sigh… Juan Barzaga, the endless right-hander whose arrival in Portland usually signified that the end times were near. Barzaga, 35, and a signing out of the Dominican Republic a whopping 19 years ago, had a career 5.40 ERA in the majors in just 54 games sprinkled from 2023 through 2031. Last year he allowed no runs in just 1.1 innings. This year he had a 2.57 ERA in AAA in seven innings.

The Warriors nominated right-hander Mike Ibarra (2-1, 4.35 ERA) for the Thursday start.

Game 3
SFW: SS Matos – CF P. Cisneros – 1B K. Henderson – C M. Thompson – 3B Rozenboom – RF Dalton – LF Chaplin – 2B Hereford – P Ibarra
POR: SS Ramos – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – RF Wallace – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – CF Braun – C Wool – P Shumway

Tom ****head walked two in the first inning, then seemed to settle in just when Rich Hereford opened the third inning with a double off the fence. He was bunted to third, then scored on a single by the ****ing **** Matos, which was still *okay* in terms of who was going to get served for breakfast tomorrow, but then another inning spiraled completely out of control. Henderson walked, Mike Thompson hit a 3-piece, no-doubter to left, and it was suddenly 4-0 for the other team yet again. Slappy, that Capt’n Coma isn’t really spinning it anymore. What else do we got? – Well, I can at least *try* the bleach…

The Raccoons weren’t exactly in the picture as a contending force until a leadoff single by Perkins in the fourth. Howden doubled to right with one out, putting half the difference in scoring position for Tim Stalker, who lined out softly to Henderson, and Braun, who popped out to short. Bottom 5th, Wool singled and was bunted over by Shumway. Ramos grounded out, further advancing the runner, who scored on a Nate Hall single. Yay, on the board. What a rush it was. (is more occupied with reading the health warnings on the bleach bottle) Maybe if I do half and half? … Whoah, it’s foaming! – Meanwhile, the Coons loaded them up with a Perkins single and Wallace drawing the walk. Two outs for Howden, with the Coons now actually out-hitting the Warriors, 8-3. Howden flew out to center, stranding the tying runs, the dumb pig.

The Warriors loaded them up with two outs in the sixth as well. Thompson walked. Dalton singled, Chaplin hit an infield single. That was enough from Shumway. We did lefty-for-lefty here, Fernandez entering to keep Hereford on his weaker side. He hit a bases-clearing double over Wallace’s head anyway, settling Shumway with the usual seven runs, before Ibarra struck out. Barzaga made his season debut in the seventh after a 1-out walk that Cisneros drew off Fernandez. Barzaga entered in a double switch replacing Braun with Pinkerton to get two innings out of a pitcher, a move we now made more or less daily. Kumanosuke Henderson hit into a double play, which was about the first break the damn Critters got in this game. Or series. Or season. Pinkerton drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 7th that was followed by RBI doubles hit by Ramos (to center) and Perkins (to left), getting the Critters back into slam range, which was a pointless comment since they would obviously not rally, and they didn’t. Wilson Rodriguez hit a pinch-hit double in the bottom 8th, was stranded, and that was it. 7-3 Warriors. Hall 2-5, RBI; Perkins 3-5, 2B, RBI; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1, 2B; Barzaga 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

Raccoons (12-22) @ Crusaders (16-17) – May 14-16, 2032

The Good Vibe Coons – named so because teams were always in a happy mood when they got to play them – arrived in New York to play the Crusaders, against whom they were – shockingly – 0-3 on the season. The Crusaders ranked third in runs scored (Coons: tied for last) AND runs allowed in the CL (Coons: so hard last it should count for 15th place). They were a nominally well rounded team that had weaknesses in power (only 15 homers so far) and at defense where some grim reviews were being written about various players.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (2-2, 5.54 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (1-3, 2.83 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (1-2, 3.42 ERA) vs. Ramiro Benavides (4-1, 2.53 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-4, 5.77 ERA) vs. Steve Younts (2-1, 5.17 ERA)

Benavides was their only southpaw, but they were free to juggle after playing only two games this week, having been scheduled for an off day on Monday, then rained out on Thursday.

I also took the opportunity to assemble the pitching half of the roster in the clubhouse before the game and gave them a 101 on the game, starting with the main plaything involved. – Listen, y’ little ****s! This… is a BASEBALL. (shows baseball)

(Gurney stretches his neck and sniffs the baseball)

(del Rio reaches for the baseball with both frontpaws, tosses it between the paws a few times, then tries to take it into his mouth)

(choking noises)

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – CF Hall – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – C James – P Gurney
NYC: 2B M. Hurtado – RF Reardon – SS Obando – 1B Elder – C Dear – LF Cambra – CF Ryder – 3B Hawkins – P Rutkowski

Berto drew a game-opening walk, stole second, advanced on a wild pitch, and was singled in by Hall, who also stole second, but was grievously stranded. And maybe it had been a mistake to give Gurney the ball that Ignacio had almost asphyxiated on and that the Druid had only been able to dislodge from his throat by inducing vomiting, but Gurney sure looked like he couldn’t get rid of the damn ball fast enough; the Crusaders didn’t get it out of the park, though, and the outfielders kept tossing it back in during the bottom of the first. Rodriguez finally tossed it to a kid in the first row after the inning ended.

Frustratingly, the Critters did not get a base hit besides that early single by Nate Hall through five innings and were routinely clicked off by the veteran Rutkowski. Gurney had more traffic, but scattered only four hits himself and the Crusaders didn’t get farther than third base over the qualifying distance. Chris Reardon opened the bottom 6th with a single, then was forced out on a comebacker. Well, Guillermo Obando didn’t quite hit it back to the mound, Gurney didn’t quite get a solid grab, and didn’t quite throw it to Ramos, so the Coons didn’t quite get a double play, and down the road didn’t quite keep their flimsy 1-0 lead alive. Back-to-back singles by Jay Elder and Matt Dear plated Obando to tie the game, but those two were left on base when Firmino Cambra fouled out and Zachary Ryder grounded over to Howden. The Raccoons still couldn’t get a single paw on base in the seventh, but Tom Hawkins hit a leadoff single off Gurney. He was bunted over before Gurney lost Mario Hurtado on balls, then also the game ball, which the Coons gave to Jared Stone, who rung up the .350 hitter Reardon – the team’s first K in the game… - and got Obando to fly out to center. Rutkowski continued to allow the Coons to do NOTHING, while Garavito got the bottom 8th. He had Elder at 0-2, then got a grounder, then ****ed that up, and the go-ahead run reached on the error. Dear walked, Cambra singled, three on, no outs. Ryder’s RBI single knocked out Garavito and brought on Wise (again, nothing to save here), and he allowed another two runs on a Hawkins sac fly (pretty deep…) and a pinch-hit single by Joe Payne. Top 9th, Ramos ran a 3-0 count against Casey Moore to lead off, then poked and grounded out. Had he been a bit less stupid and drawn the walk, the Critters might have ended up with a whole set of runners for Wallace, because Moore walked Hall and Perkins afterwards. But what did it matter? Wallace grounded out. Rodriguez grounded out. Curtain. 4-1 Crusaders.

3-10 on the month, the Critters slipped past the damn Elks into last place.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – RF Rodriguez – 1B Zitzner – 2B Stalker – CF Braun – C James – P del Rio
NYC: SS Obando – 1B Elder – 2B M. Hurtado – C Dear – LF Cambra – RF Reardon – 3B Ryder – CF Masri – P Benavides

The Druid’s quick application of the Heimlich maneuver had saved Ignacio del Rio from suffocating, but that also meant that he had to take his start and be delivered to the mercy of the Crusaders. Right away he couldn’t get strike three past anybody, which was a shame since we would have liked to see a guy who started the season in AAA take the team strikeout lead away from a guy just banished to AAA. It made for good writing in the most sardonic sense possible. The Raccoons had a single here and there and scratched out a run in the second inning. Zitzner drew a leadoff walk, Stalker singled, Braun hit into a fielder’s choice, and Giovanni James got the run across with a groundout. A similar string played out in the fourth with Zitzner and Stalker reaching base and Braun hitting into another fielder’s choice (oh, what a bat! …with which I mean he’s blind as ****). James grounded out again, but this for the third out – Wilson Rodriguez had started the inning with a K, and nobody scored. Not getting strike three then bit del Rio in the behinds in the bottom 4th. Jay Elder and Firmino Cambra both singled with two strikes, and Chris Reardon slapped a 2-out RBI single to tie the game. Ryder popped out at 1-2, and del Rio continued to have zero strikeouts on his ledger when he needed one to tie, and two to pass the demoted Sabre.

Top 5th, del Rio led off with a grounder to Ryder, which the Crusader ****ed for an error, putting the go-ahead run on base. Ramos, slumping badly, grounded out, but that advanced del Rio at least. He reached third on Hall’s single, then scored on a Perkins single. Rodriguez also slapped an RBI single past Mario Hurtado, 3-1, and then Travis Zitzner for one at-bat played in the Stars’ ****ty shoebox again and rammed a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left for a 3-run dinger. That was the end of Benavides, while del Rio somehow survived a bottom 5th in which he allowed a leadoff single to Ray Masri and walked a pair, but a double play and Stalker’s nifty grab on Hurtado’s grounder bailed him out. Ignacio would get a strikeout before his outing ended – in fact he got Hurtado to end the bottom of the seventh inning when the Crusaders had two on and were just about looking to take a bite out of the young rookie after Matt Dear had already hit a leadoff jack in the sixth to temporarily get them back into slam range, although the Critters had pulled that run back in the seventh with Hall walking, stealing, and scoring on two grounders, which put fourth outfielder Wilson Rodriguez at 20 RBI, second on the team behind Perkins, who had 23. The Crusaders got a run off Barzaga in the bottom 8th; he walked Dear leading off, then allowed a 3-1 single to Cambra, and had to be bailed out by Garavito eventually. The Critters faced Mike Hugh in the top of the ninth – he was that reliever/catcher we took in the rule 5 draft two winters ago but gave back before the season started. Perkins and Zitzner hit singles before Howden batted for Tim Stalker and hit a crusher on a hanging breaking ball to put the Critters into double digits, 10-3. In turn, the Raccoons had Matt Stonecipher absolutely smothered in the bottom of the inning. He allowed two walks and three hits, including a pair of 2-run doubles to Dear and Reardon. He got yanked with two outs. Chris Wise threw two pitches to get a grounder from Ryder to save the game. 10-7 Critters. Hall 2-3, 2 BB; Perkins 2-5, RBI; Zitzner 3-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Stalker 2-4; Howden (PH) 1-1, HR, 3 RBI; Wallace (PH) 1-1, 2B; del Rio 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, W (2-2);

That was the first save for Chris Wise in the month of May.

Meanwhile, Steve Younts (2-1, 5.17 ERA) was not going to make the Sunday start – the Crusaders traded him overnight for two prospects and put him on a plane to San Francisco. We would instead face right-hander Jesse Wright (2-1, 6.19 ERA), who was able to pitch on regular rest.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – CF Hall – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – C Wool – P Gutierrez
NYC: SS Obando – 2B M. Hurtado – 1B Elder – C Dear – RF Reardon – CF Ryder – LF R. Gomez – 3B Hawkins – P J. Wright

No score through four while one pitcher was exclusively relying on his defense to get through innings, which was of course Rico Gutierrez, while the other one scattered a few singles, but also blew away six Furballs via the strikeout. The Coons got Gutierrez on with an infield single and Ramos with his third single of the day in the fifth inning, but then had Hall pop out and Perkins chuck into a double play. In the bottom of the inning, Zachary Ryder drew a leadoff walk which was one of those subtle indicators that **** was gonna hit the fan now. Former Furball Rafael Gomez, now a selectively applied backout fielder batting .333 entering the Sunday game, singled to right, and the runners were on the corners. Tom Hawkins’ sac fly made it 1-0, Wright bunted… we’re still relatively good here. The Obando singled, Hurtado got nailed, and with the bases loaded Gutierrez ran a full count against Jay Elder and threw ball four almost over the head of a leaping Josh Wool, forcing in a second run. I fully expected Matt Dear to hit a 9-run homer here, but he popped out to Howden in foul ground, stranding three.

Top 6th, Perkins led off with his third strikeout of the afternoon. Wallace singled to right-center, and then Rodriguez showed why his bat needed to be in the lineup at this point and rushed a 2-run homer to tie the game, a true bomb into the upper reaches of the leftfield stands. Howden doubled. Stalker singled; they were on the corners for Josh Wool with one out. Wool flew deep to left, but Gomez was there – it was however deep enough to get Howden home with a sac fly, 3-2. Gutierrez grounded out, then gave up a leadoff jack on an 0-2 pitch to Chris Reardon in the bottom of the frame. (sigh!) Gutierrez was done after the inning, which ended with a 13-pitch battle against PH Jorge Lopez, who ended up popping out. Stone was in for the bottom 7th, gave up a leadoff single to Obando, but Hurtado hit into the double play, same as Tim Stalker would do in the top 8th after a 1-out double by Rodriguez and Howden being intentionally walked. The game went into extra innings, briefly. The Raccoons couldn’t break through against their former left-handed reliever Billy Brotman. The Crusaders well broke through in he bottom of the 10th inning. Elder and Reardon singled off David Fernandez. Ryder and Gomez singled off Mauricio Garavito. 4-3 Crusaders. Ramos 3-5; Wallace 3-5; Rodriguez 2-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI;

Boo, Rafael. Boo.

Boo.

In other news

May 10 – The Falcons place SP Jim Tierney (0-4, 3.89 ERA) on the DL. The 24-year-old is expected to miss four months with bone chips in his elbow that need removal.
May 11 – The culling of the Falcons rotation continues with SP Aaron Lewis (4-2, 4.08 ERA) likely to miss the rest of the year with chronic shoulder soreness.
May 12 – The Capitals beat the Canadiens, 1-0, on OF/LF Jay Green’s (.217, 2 HR, 9 RBI) solo home run in the top of the 12th inning.
May 15 – In a wild one, the Thunder beat the Bayhawks, 16-12, with three different players landing four base hits in the game. Of those, the Thunder’s Drew Olszewski (.221, 4 HR, 17 RBI) is the only one to also drive in four runs.
May 16 – MIL OF Gabe Creech (.258, 6 HR, 15 RBI) figures to miss a month with an abdominal strain.
May 16 – After ten scoreless innings, the Indians score two runs in the top of the 11th against the Canadiens, only to come apart for three in the bottom of the frame and lose 3-2.

Complaints and stuff

To no great surprise, Sioux Falls’ Jesus Matos (.351, 2 HR, 12 RBI) was Player of the Week in the FL, batting .423 with 2 HR and 9 RBI – all of the homers and ribbies coming against the Coons in the midweek set, where he hit 6-for-13, drew two walks, and stole a base. He was a much more pedestrian 5-for-14 in their set with the Scorpions on the weekend. He actually – get this – he actually *struck out* in the Scorpions series.

There is nothing new to narrate here. The pitching staff is committing more atrocities than Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun combined (I should probably be more careful with hyperbole, because there is more than four months left in the season and from here I have hardly anywhere to go…). The defense is ho-hum. The offense has holes bigger than Crater Lake.

The pitching remains the worst. I mean, Adam Braun in himself is one of those biblical floods than can wash an entire tribe away, but the pitching still remains the worst. The team ERA is 5.05 now, still 42 points worse than even the most terrible pitching staffs assembled in Portland before. The thing is, we built our rotation on five “IF” pitchers, as in big “if”’s rather than infielders. IF Shumway can stay in one piece and not suck. IF Gutierrez can not suck or go to the DL quietly. IF Bernie and Sabre build on their strong Septembers. IF Gurney was not a season-long fluke. As it stands now, Shumway is ready for the dumpster, Gutierrez is completely out of control (so out of it indeed that he tossed a shutout…), Bernie is on the DL, Sabre is sleeping Toledo, OH tonight, and Gurney is just run-of-the-mill crummy.

The travelling circus will make a stop at their usual corner in town next week, hosting the Indians and Thunder and their assembled elephants, tigers, lions, and whatever else can stomp and/or devour a raccoon with one step/bite. I hear Nick Valdes is already waiting for us to come home.

I also hear he is not amused.

But who knows, maybe we’ll actually get that 4,600th regular season win next week… at least ONE other team has to have one of those narcoleptic starters, don’t they??

Fun Fact: When Raffaello Sabre was demoted to AAA on May 12, he led the team with 23 strikeouts.

…and he still does, but words fail me in general at this point, but maybe this is the year we finally get a reliever to win the team triple crown.
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:00 PM   #2953
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I came to the ballpark reasonably early on Monday, but got beaten to the reserved parking lot by a white customized van, extended and it seemed with a raised roof, that was just about to open a sorta-door on the left side. It looked like a medieval castle lowering its drawbridge. While I tried to get my battered 1997 Grand Am Coupe to lock, which didn’t always work, singing emanated from the van and before long the first of four pairs of dwarves (with saggy pants and caps and all) carrying a white throne mounted on top of two long white rods down the inside of the lowered door, upon which sat Nick Valdes. He told them to stop halfway, pointed angrily at me, and demanded I follow the procession.

Say… (touches throne) …is this ebony? – (is slapped on the fingers) Oww!

Raccoons (13-24) vs. Indians (20-16) – May 18-20, 2032

Monday was off for both teams, so everybody could cart up their best pitching (snorts) for the Tuesday opener. The Indians were seventh in runs scored and runs allowed in the CL, with a -5 run differential. Their rotation was solid with a 3.76 ERA, but they had serious grief with their pen, which was the second-worst in the CL. They were also missing regular Alex Zanches on the DL, but otherwise were really healthy right now. This was the first meeting between these two teams in ’32. The Coons had won the season series last time around, 10-8.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (2-5, 6.80 ERA) vs. John McInerney (3-3, 3.74 ERA)
Jason Gurney (2-2, 4.96 ERA) vs. Sal Bedoya (1-2, 3.22 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (2-2, 3.24 ERA) vs. Mitch Brothers (0-2, 6.65 ERA)

McInerney would be the only southpaw to see here. The rookie Brothers, a supplemental round pick by the damn Elks in 2027 and landing in Indianapolis in the Chris Sinkhorn trade in ’28, was employed as a swingman and had six appearances, three starts, to his name.

Game 1
IND: 2B Schneller – C J. Herrera – RF Plunkett – CF Baron – SS Herman – 3B E. Sosa – LF J. Correa – 1B Regan – P McInerney
POR: SS Ramos – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – RF Rodriguez – 1B Zitzner – 2B Stalker – CF Braun – C James – P Shumway

Tom Scumbag was ready to get romped, allowing nothing but rockets in the first inning, resulting in a Juan Herrera double and a Mike Plunkett homer as well as a 2-0 deficit, while the Indians faced a Juan Herrera deficit when their primary backstop had pulled something on the bases. Edgar Paiz replaced him. Elias Sosa and Jon Correa hit singles in the second, Greg Regan hit another monstrous bomb, and it was 5-0 by the second. John Baron hit a shot to begin the third, 6-0, and that was as much of the Scumbag as we could stomach in this game. Juan Barzaga replaced him, allowed a single to Elias Sosa, who wound up on second base on a grounder, then scored when Barzaga fired Regan’s 2-out roller through Travis Zitzner’s legs, making it a 7-0 rout with the Critters yet having to get on base. At least Nick Valdes was foaming and demanding sweeping changes, right now! Ramos would lead off with a single in the fourth, Hall lined to left where Correa came reaching a-slide, touched the ball with the very edge of the glove, but couldn’t contain it, and Hall had a single. Justin Perkins’ RBI double, Wilson Rodriguez’ RBI single, and Zitzner’s groundout all moved a Critter across home plate, which would count as inspiring most of the time, but even then they were still behind by four runs… and it was five after the top 5th, Correa doubling home Nick Herman against Barzaga, who walked three and allowed as many hits in three innings, but that counted as genuine progress around these parts…

And yet, McInerney wouldn’t win the game, despite being spotted eight runs by his fellow Arrowheads. Giovanni James opened the bottom 5th with a single. Pinkerton came on to hit for Barzaga and walked. Berto dropped a double next to John Baron to plate James, 8-4, and Nate Hall planted a ball into leftfield to score a pair. That got the tying run to the plate, McInerney into the showers, and right-hander Tim Thweatt onto the mound. Perkins hit his first pitch for a single, putting them on the corners for the still-hot Rodriguez, who grounded to the left side. Sosa cut it off, looked to second, decided against it, then had to throw to first, and did so badly – everybody was safe on the error and Hall scored, 8-7. Here the Coons made the fatal mistake, hit for Zitzner with their other first baseman, and that sucker grounded into a double play. Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, had struck again. Also striking: Tim Stalker; his 2-out single scored Perkins, and that one tied the game anyway. The inning ended with Braun, like all innings did, and a grounder to short.

The Coons still had to make do with ****ty pitching, however, and sent Matt Stonecipher against the top of the order in the sixth. He walked Dan Schneller, which shocked nobody, but the Indians didn’t get to him. Paiz bunted successfully, but Plunkett and Baron struck out. Bottom 7th, Thweatt began with a walk to Perkins. Rodriguez singled. Howden hit another screamer – in this case meaning that his GM screamed at the prospect of another two red bobs lighting up on the scoreboard – but the Indians couldn’t turn it and Coons remained on the corners for Tim Stalker, who hit another RBI single, this time to go ahead! Southpaw Juan Melendrez replaced the battered Thweatt at this point, with the Coons sending Marsingill to hit for Hennessy in the dire hole vacated by Adam Braun earlier. Marsingill, batting all of .184, was one of those erasure candidates on the roster as we were looking at the bleak prospect of having to add yet more relievers. He hit a 2-2 pitch into the gap for a 2-run double, which got him back to .200, the Critters into double digits, and was also the point where the small Indians contingent that had traveled here and occupied a section where they could heckle rightfielder Wilson Rodriguez, finally shut up in an 11-8 Coons game. James walked, Wallace hit into a fielder’s choice, and Ramos grounded out to short, but we were now in a position to employ the good(?) end of the bullpen, which resulted in three hits and a run, plated by Edgar Paiz, off Jared Stone in the eighth. Come the ninth, come Chris Wise. He struck out Alberto Velez, longtime Logger, then walked Sosa. Here was another longtime Logger then, Brad Gore. Grounder to Stalker, to second, for first – ballgame! 11-9 Furballs! Ramos 2-5, 2B, RBI; Hall 2-5, 2 RBI; Perkins 3-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Rodriguez 2-5, 2 RBI; Stalker 2-4, 2 RBI; Marsingill (PH) 1-1, 2B, 2 RBI; Wallace (PH) 1-2;

(slaps Nick Valdes on the back) Hah?? How’s that for a win??

(Valdes glares)

What to do with Shumway though? Most bodies drifting in the Willamette are recovered and they usually find out who they are…

Interlude: waiver claim

On Wednesday, the Raccoons were awarded the contract of left-hander Steve Russell (2-0, 1.93 ERA), who had been waived by the Bayhawks. The 26-year-old Russell threw a 94mph fastball, curve and nifty slider and often kept stuff at ground level. His control was wonky. The Bayhawks had used him on and off for the last four years, always in relief, but he had been a starter in the minors. We’d try to work him into the fabric somehow.

To make room on the roster, Matt Stonecipher was waived and designated for assignment.

Raccoons (13-24) vs. Indians (20-16) – May 18-20, 2032

Game 2
IND: 2B Schneller – C Paiz – RF Plunkett – CF Baron – LF D. Brown – SS Herman – 3B E. Sosa – 1B J. Correa – P Bedoya
POR: SS Ramos – CF Hall – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – C James – P Gurney

Bedoya was another pitcher that remained perfect the first time through, while Jason Gurney had been in a jam in the first inning, allowing a single to Paiz and plunking Plunkett, but had bailed out on a John Baron double play. He was less lucky in the third, when Bedoya (…), Schneller, and Paiz reeled off straight 1-out singles to score a run, and then Plunkett smacked into the double play to end the frame. Indy tacked on a run in the fourth on a leadoff walk to Baron and a Nick Herman double. That was the end for Gurney on account of a 70-minute rain delay in the bottom 4th. Bedoya would keep pitching, picking it up just after a 1-out walk issued to Nate Hall before the weather had turned sour, but couldn’t fool anybody anymore. Perkins singled, Wallace hit an RBI double, Rodriguez plated a pair with a single that flipped the score, 3-2, and gave Wilson the team RBI lead (!). For whatever reason, the Indians walked Howden intentionally. Stalker walked unintentionally, somehow they still had no reliever ready, and Bedoya walked in a run on four straight balls to Giovanni James, 4-2. It took another bases-loaded walk to Adam Braun (yeah, we sure were tempting fate) in the #9 hole to get the pen involved. Ramos drew another bases-loaded walk, before Nate Hall swatted an RBI single to right off right-hander Matt Francis. Perkins raked a 2-run double – the last of *11* straight Raccoons to reach base. Wallace popped out, Rodriguez lined out to Sosa, and now the pen had to get 15 outs with a 9-2 lead while I kept grinning at Nick Valdes, who was watching the game from his throne, carried by the eight dwarves, inside my office, and Valdes glared back at me, then clicked his fingers to get one of the dwarves to kick me in the shin, which hurt, but not worse than the Indians had to be hurting…

Bottom 5th, Howden led off with a jack, 10-2, which was not uncommon for the unclutchiest Raccoons ever. With one out, James singled off Francis, Anaya bunted, because we needed long relief once more, Paiz took it to second, late, and the Coons had two on; three after Ramos walked. Francis nailed Hall to force in a run, Perkins flew out to Plunkett in right, but Anaya was not let go by the third base coach. Jimmy Wallace ran a full count with two outs before burying a ball in the gap. Anaya across, Ramos across, Hall across, 14-2! Anaya lasted two wonky but scoreless innings, while Portland added a run in the bottom 6th on a bases-loaded groundout by Ramos against Jose Fuentes, 15-2. Pinkerton hit for Anaya in that inning, and now the cocky Coons sent him back to the mound with his 18 ERA, which improved when he gave up only one run in the seventh, which saw him walk Jon Correa on four pitches, an Alberto Velez RBI single, another plunk into Plunkett, and yet somehow no annihilation. Tim Thweatt was annihilated with a 2-run homer by Howden, plating Wallace, in the bottom 7th. Pinkerton got the Coons five outs before walking a pair in the eighth and was replaced after 43 pitches, all awful, but somehow effective. Perkins doubled in a run off Dan McLin in the bottom 8th, Plunkett homered off David Fernandez in the ninth, none of it really mattered. 18-4 Raccoons!!! Perkins 3-6, 2 2B, 3 RBI; Wallace 3-6, 3 2B, 4 RBI; Howden 2-4, BB, 2 HR, 3 RBI; Braun (PH) 0-0, BB, RBI; Zitzner 1-1;

My grin was very obnoxious.

Valdes’ wasn’t. He had to leave, though. The dwarves carried him back to the van, singing, after the game, so he could attend an event he was organizing in northern England on Thursday – the second annual Lancashire Papist Hunt.

Meanwhile the Indians traded for Boston’s Dustin Acor (.281, 3 HR, 24 RBI), parting with Todd Johnson (.200, 1 HR, 2 RBI) and a prospect.

Game 3
IND: 2B Schneller – C Paiz – 1B Regan – RF Plunkett – LF Quintana – CF Acor – 3B E. Sosa – SS A. Velez – P Brothers
POR: SS Ramos – CF Hall – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – C James – P del Rio

For a change, the Critters scored first on Tim Stalker’s 2-out RBI single in the bottom of the second inning, although that came after more Howden annoyances with a double play after Wallace and Rodriguez had reached base to begin the frame. Ignacio suffered from ill control, walking Alfredo Quintana to begin the second, but getting out on Sosa’s double play. He also fell to 3-1 against Velez to begin the third, but the former Logger popped out. Bottom 4th, Howden again came up with the 4-5 hitters on base and this one out. Both had hit singles to right. Mitch Brothers had no recipe to actually fool anybody (he had only one strikeout in the game) and I wouldn’t advise Howden to hit into another double play because the arrangement with the first base platoon was not something I was very found of. Not that Zitzner was any better… Brothers took something off the 2-1 pitch, which allowed Howden to get a good long look before *unloading* into the leftfield stands for a 3-run homer, racing the score to 4-0 on his seventh bomb of the season, and the third in this series.

Indy pulled two back against del Rio, who failed to get the crucial strike three either here or there, and conceded the fifth-inning pair on a gap double by Elias Sosa (Wallace’s modest range didn’t help on that one), and Velez and Schneller RBI singles, the latter two both up the middle and with a good bunt in between. The Raccoons would have an answer in the bottom 6th. Perkins led off with a single, and then Jimmy Wallace bopped Brothers from the game with a 355-footer over the 342-foot marker in rightfield. Sosa hit another double off del Rio in the seventh, this time over the head of Hall, but Velez popped out this time around and the runner was stranded. Del Rio made it into the eighth inning where Schneller flew out to center before Paiz took him deep to left, narrowing the score to 6-3. With left-handed bats drawing up and del Rio on 93 pitches, we called it a day on the rookie. Garavito entered, got two outs on four pitches, the Coons got two men on against different relievers in the bottom 8th before Juan Melendrez was sent to match Giovanni James with two outs. We said no, sent Adam Braun to pinch-hit, but Braun struck out against the southpaw, which meant Chris Wise had a save opportunity in the ninth inning against the 5-6-7 batters. After Quintana’s groundout to first, Acor laced a double past Nate Hall (now in left with Wallace removed for D and Braun in center), Sosa singled him in, and that made PH Brad Gore the tying run. Wise would not be defeated by him! He nailed him instead, bringing Dan Brown up as pinch-hitter. The selectively used veteran .305 hitter grounded out, moving the tying runs into scoring position for Schneller (.285 with 3 HR) and two down. Wise continued to leak and take on water at the same time, with Schneller cracking the 1-1 pitch to leftfield. Sosa in to score, Gore sent around, Hall unleashing a throw to the plate, Wool throwing himself into the runner, and Gore would be – OUT!! 6-5 Furballs! Wallace 3-4, HR, 2 RBI; Rodriguez 3-4; Zitzner (PH) 1-1; del Rio 7.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (3-2);

At this point we had two .300 hitters and Berto was neither of them. A monthlong slump (.211/.294/.250 since April 30!) dumped him to .299. Instead, Wilson Rodriguez poked his nose over .300, but didn’t qualify for a lack of plate appearances. He was exactly 25 PA short of making it, and extending him with as many outs made him a mere .242 hitter. And yet, he ranked second on the team with 26 RBI and third with a .790 OPS (regardless of whether guys qualified or not).

Raccoons (16-24) vs. Thunder (17-24) – May 21-23, 2032

The Thunder had been swept in their midweek series, which brought these two teams so close together. They had the third-highest run total in the Continental League, but sat third from the bottom in runs allowed, which was still two spots better than the Critters (and eight spots in the former category…) This was our first meeting this year. Portland had taken the season series convincingly in ’31, taking seven of the nine games.

Projected matchups:
Steve Russell (2-0, 1.93 ERA) vs. Andy Jimenes (3-4, 3.88 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-4, 5.58 ERA) vs. Mark Morrison (2-1, 3.99 ERA)
Tom Shumway (2-5, 7.71 ERA) vs. Paul Metzler (1-6, 4.86 ERA)

Only righties here; and those starters looked sort of decent enough, but the Thunder pen was covered in their own feces and swarms of flies. Their bullpen had an ERA of *6.86* coming in.

Get to that bullpen, boys!

Game 1
OCT: CF Olszewski – LF Dunlap – C Burgess – 1B D. Cruz – 2B Serrato – SS Ryu – RF Celaya – 3B T. Fuentes – P Jimenes
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – CF Braun – C Wool – 2B Marsingill – P Russell

Russell entered the game with a 1.93 ERA and left it with a 5.52 ERA and Andy Jimenes on first base and down 6-0 in the first inning, which was just how things are going around here. Drew Olszewski, Tom Dunlap, and Mike Burgess all hit singles to start the game. Danny Cruz fanned, Alex Serrato hit a single, Hiroaki Ryu got nailed, Lorenzo Celaya struck out, Tony Fuentes doubled in two, and Russell moved a run across with a wild pitch before Jimenes’ RBI single. Everything hit was hit hard and he was burned to the ground in precisely 15 minutes, and I wondered aloud whether the Bayhawks would take him back now.

Singles by Ramos and Perkins as well as a Rodriguez walk loaded the bases in the bottom 3rd with one out. A grounder to short unleashed by Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, spelled trouble, yet it did so for the Thunder when Serrato dropped Ryu’s feed and all paws were safe, with Portland getting their first run. Instead, ****ing Adam Braun hit into a double play… Oh **** it, Slappy, wake me up when it’s over … (fixes a mask attached to a plastic tube over mouth and nose and opens the valve on the cylinder labelled “CO” that the tube connects to) … and the dismal **** parade was far from over. The Raccoons got three innings for one run from John Hennessy, then sent Juan Barzaga, who logged six outs for as many runs, all in the sixth inning, and left with two on and two outs, battered and smashed, for Jared Stone, who went 3-2 on Danny Cruz before surrendering a bomb. At that time, if you were brave enough to count, it was 16-1 Thunder, after which Serrato reached base and had the audacity to steal second base. The Coons reacted by very intentionally having Stone drill Ryu. Celaya grounded out, but at least we got some bad blood going now. Come the seventh, Garavito allowed a single to Tony Fuentes, walked Dunlap, and gave up a 3-piece to Burgess. Rodriguez doubled home Perkins in the bottom of the inning, which was so cute it almost made me vomit. Anaya got slapped for a run in the eighth, but besides me there was nobody left to boo the suckers at that point… 20-2 Thunder. Perkins 2-5; Rodriguez 3-3, BB, 2B, RBI;

Responsible for 2.2 innings and 14 runs, Steve Russell (5.52 ERA) and Juan Barzaga (12.86 ERA) were waived and designated for assignment the same night (this was with Matt Stonecipher still on waivers…), and direly needed fresh pitching had to be called in. The Coons brought back Rabbitt and Fleischer, not that either one deserved it…

Game 2
OCT: CF Olszewski – LF Dunlap – C Burgess – 1B D. Cruz – 2B Serrato – SS Ryu – RF Sagredo – 3B T. Fuentes – P M. Morrison
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Zitzner – 2B Stalker – C James – CF Braun – P Gutierrez

Saturday morning we were doing the sort of calculation that if Rico Gutierrez somehow lasted five and could allow no more than five runs, we might somehow be fine and actually show up on Sunday. Winning be damned – just get through nine somehow. Gutierrez got through the first unharmed, and Berto led off the bottom 1st with a triple to right, then was stranded on two pops and a strikeout. Travis Zitzner was less unfortunate with his leadoff double in the bottom 2nd. James singled him home, Braun dropped in a blooper, and while our grave of many millions struck out bunting, Ramos dropped in a 2-out RBI single anyway, then was thrown out at home plate on Perkins’ RBI double, that nevertheless put Portland up 3-0. Stalker doubled home Rodriguez to add another run in the bottom 3rd. That also meant that Gutierrez really had to get going now to blow this one up, since so far the Thunder had only two base hits. They got two more in the fourth inning, but Cruz and Sagredo were stranded when Tony Fuentes rolled over to short, and their fifth consisted mostly of pop outs over the infield, keeping Gutierrez on a 4-hitter with 63 pitches through five innings.

Instead, Morrison was sent to bed in the bottom 5th. Perkins reached base to begin the inning, but was forced out by Wallace’s grounder to short. Rodriguez grounded out, moving up the runner, and the Thunder walked Zitzner intentionally for reasons only known to them. Stalker walked, filling them up for James, who ticked a 2-2 pitch into shallow center to plate two runs and extend the lead to 6-0. Mike Baker replaced Morrison, Braun flew out on an 0-2 pitch to keep as close to .150 as possible, and the inning ended. Gutierrez held up through six, then got jumped for three doubles and two runs in the seventh inning by Sagredo, Fuentes and Olszewski… all left-handed batters by the way, while a right-handed batter, Burgess, opened the eighth with a double off a right-handed pitcher, Fleischer. That run came around on productive outs, getting the Thunder into save range, but with Braun aboard and two outs in the bottom 8th Sagredo overran a Ramos single for a crucial extra base, and Justin Perkins pounced and singled in the runners to take the save off again. The Thunder sent a new pitcher to get that last out in the eighth, Leon Hernandez, a former starting pitcher. He walked Wallace, nicked Rodriguez, the Coons sent Howden to bat for Zitzner for the platoon edge, and Hernandez lost him in a full count. Stalker flew out to Sagredo. Rabbitt retired the bottom of the order without another implosion in the ninth, and the Critters levelled the series. 9-3 Coons. Ramos 3-5, 3B, RBI; Perkins 4-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Rodriguez 2-4; Howden (PH) 0-0, BB, RBI; James 2-4, 3 RBI; Braun 2-4; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, W (3-4);

Game 3
OCT: RF Sagredo – LF Dunlap – 1B D. Cruz – 2B Serrato – SS Ryu – CF Vanatti – C Asay – 3B T. Fuentes – P Metzler
POR: SS Ramos – CF Hall – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Zitzner – 2B Stalker – C James – 3B Marsingill – P Shumway

There was no Plan B for if Shumway got routed in the early innings yet again. There wasn’t even a Plan A. With his contract and seniority, he had nowhere to go but continue to rot on the roster. The same that had been true for Gutierrez in the previous game was true here. Five innings and four or five runs we’d already see as progress…

Dunlap walked in the first and got doubled off. Serrato walked in the second and got doubled off. Joe Vanatti was already batting all of .095 and popped out to end the second. The Coons got Rodriguez on base to begin the bottom 2nd thanks to Ryu’s error, then loaded them up with a Stalker single and James walking with one out, only to have Marsingill and Shumway both strike out. Top 3rd, leadoff walk to Jason Asay. Fuentes singled, Metzler swung away … and singled… there was nothing but bloody murder left to deal with Tom ****ing Scumbag. Sagredo ran a full count and walked, forcing in the first run of the game, and there were still three on and no outs. Dunlap singled in a run on an 0-2 pitch. Danny Cruz doubled in two, on another 0-2 pitch, putting Shumway’s ****ing ERA over eight. Serrato lined out to shallow right, Ryu hit an RBI single, Vanatti walked, and Shumway was led off the mound and to the nearest dumpster. Victor Anaya got to pitch in another third inning, ran a 1-2 count on Asay, then gave up a slam.

While I stared blankly into space after seeing the team cough up a second 9-spot in the same series, Rodriguez drove in Ramos in the bottom of the inning. Danny Cruz hit a solo jack off Anaya (like, did anyone care at this point?) in the fourth, and Zitzner drove in Wallace and Rodriguez in the fifth, making it 10-3, which was not particularly close and once again all we were concerned about anymore was somehow getting our fill of 27 outs. Anaya got eleven (or one more than the Scumbag) for two runs (or six less than the Scumbag). After that it was Rabbitt in back-to-back games, and Preston Pinkerton was also seen in the bullpen. Rabbitt, one of those absolutely atrocious roster fillers without skill or likable personality, AND a stupid name, gave up two hits, two wild pitches, and two runs in the seventh. Rabbitt gave up a leadoff single to Asay in the eighth, then was yanked for Fernandez, who struck out two before giving up a homer to Sagredo, at which point the scoreboard flashed and went dark with a some midsize sparkling going on behind it – a fitting reaction to what had gone about at the ballpark this week. And now? Counting on your hands didn’t really work for a lack of digits! But it was 14-3 when Preston Pinkerton came out to pitch garbage relief again in the truest sense of the word. Cruz leadoff single. Serrato walked. Ryu singled. Cruz scored on a wild pitch before Vanatti singled in Serrato, with Ryu thrown out at home plate. Vanatti reached second on the throw, then scored on a 2-base throwing error by Marsingill. Tony Fuentes ****ing STRUCK OUT against Pinkerton, and Celaya grounded out to Stalker. Pinkerton then got to bat in the bottom 9th, singled, and was doubled up by Ramos. 17-3 Thunder. Ramos 2-5, 2B; Wallace 2-4; Rodriguez 2-4, 2B, RBI; James 1-2, 2 BB;

In other news

May 21 – MIL SP Alfredo Casique (6-2, 3.41 ERA) 1-hits the Falcons in a 6-0 Milwaukee win. CHA SS Dave Coughenour (.290, 0 HR, 11 RBI) hits a seventh-inning single to break up the no-hitter.
May 21 – SAC 2B Mario Duenez (.313, 1 HR, 4 RBI) hits a walkoff slam off CIN MR Cory Dew (0-1, 27.00 ERA) to give the Scorpions a 13-9 walkoff win in 11 innings. Cincy had originally broken an 8-8 tie with one run in the top of the 11th, but gave away that and another four in the bottom of the frame.
May 23 – The Warriors’ C Mike Thompson (.323, 4 HR, 21 RBI) hits for a natural cycle in a 6-5 extra-inning win over the Miners. Thompson crowns his day with the game-winning home run off PIT CL Ricky Ohl (2-5, 5.87 ERA, 11 SV). This is the 82nd cycle in ABL history and the first natural cycle since Richmond’s Danny Flores achieved the feat in 2014.
May 23 – IND C Juan Herrera (.288, 4 HR, 11 RBI) was going to miss three months with a torn hamstring.

Complaints and stuff

Justin Perkins was the Player of the Week in the CL, batting .542 (13-for-24) with no dingers and 7 RBI! Well. That’s it for the good news.

To recap, this was a 6-game week in which the Critters and the opposition pooled together for the modest total 106 runs, or almost 18 runs per game. Of these, we actually allowed 57 runs, but some lost only two games. Now, nobody around here will agree with me that this is some absurd, perverted form of progress……

You know your offense has been drab for a substantial amount of time when even a 35-run outburst like we had against Indy this week doesn’t move your team further up the ladder than 11th, then with 167 runs (4.2 R/G). Right now? 10th with 181 runs. And, well, a -82 run differential.

Our transaction log is *wild*. We have already used 21 pitchers this season. The 2009 Coons used only 20 pitchers the entire season, and they had to deal with Cássio Boda (5-3, 4.35 ERA) as their biggest … you know, if Cássio Boda was our biggest problem right now, that would be swell. That was a pitching staff that was worth +20 WAR. Ours right now?

-0.1 WAR.

Well, what do we have just after the first quarter post? Wallace is .315 with three homers. .315 is fine. I would have hoped for more power. Wilson Rodriguez is now a .340 batter. I wonder where he will end up. He sure looks like a candidate for a broken knee in the near future.

Next week we will get roflstomped by the Knights and Condors.

Fun Fact: Raccoons catchers have a 12.5% success rate at stopping opposing base stealers.

That on top of everything else. And they are both equally ****. Wool is 2-for-15. James is 3-for-25. Their career success rates are well in the 30s.

My blood pressure, however… - Mena, are you done with the manometer thing there? – Oh, down into the 240s now? Great. Great.

Is anybody else slightly dizzy?
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:41 AM   #2954
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2032 DRAFT POOL ANALYSIS

I couldn’t help but dislike the selection in the 2032 draft pool. The Raccoons, picking ninth in every round, were unlikely to get a sterling prospect simply for the lack of those. The new trend also seemed to be for young boys to be too occupied with their phones so they wouldn’t find time to learn a third pitch… this was one of those drafts were I found it hard to even come up with a hotlist of healthy size (but one is still below). There were 109 players on the shortlist.

And here is that hotlist (* indicates high school player; ^ indicates SP with only two promising pitches):

SP Brandon Williams (13/12/12) * - BNN #4
SP Joe Feltman (12/13/10) – BNN #7

SP^ Damon DeOrio (12/14/12) *
SP^ Tariq Staggers (10/15/12) * - BNN #10

3B/2B Dusty Mahaney (9/10/10)
1B Justin Hatcher (8/11/11)

OF/2B Justin Nelson (10/12/11)
OF Mike Dahl (9/10/9)
OF Ryan Phillips (10/8/16) *

One interesting case in there was Mahaney. Like all batters on the hotlist, OSA and his school stats indicated he was better than what our grumpy head scout… I should just call him Grumpy, really. Mahaney looked pretty dim on his papers, but OSA ranked him a more optimistic 10/11/12, and he had some good range and a strong arm to play third base. He was hitting .326 with 11 homers for his college, which was … and we had to consult a map here; Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL. He is apparently not very smart because he seems to have failed the gardener’s exams last year and is now trying his hand on the course to become a CCS – a certified city sweeper.

I also wonder why Joe Feltman – a right-hander and rather bright student playing baseball on a biochemistry scholarship rather than the other way round – had the nickname “Stump”. Do we have anything on that, Mr. Scout? – An accident with a rice husker as a child? How do you get your foot in there? – But it’s not his landing foot?

It will be *fine*. It’s always fine ‘round here, isn’t it? (takes another handful of pills to stay calm)
__________________
Portland Raccoons, 55 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
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Old 08-24-2019, 01:23 PM   #2955
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These past few updates have been absolute gold, which is just as well given our little Furballs are playing like

well

have you considered actually replacing Tom Shumway with an actual raccoon? On the topic of old Shummy Boy, whose soul did you have to sell to win that first game agains the Indians with THAT start?!
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Old 08-24-2019, 01:31 PM   #2956
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archelirion View Post
whose soul did you have to sell to win that first game agains the Indians with THAT start?!
Lil' Jimmy's. He's some sort of homeless orphan and has been living around the dumpsters behind the ballpark for a little while. So he's good friends with the players.

Well, I couldn't sell my own soul. Already did that in 2016 to make sure Ray ****ing Gilbert flew out to complete Brownie's no-hitter against the damn Elks.

Regarding Tom Scumbag, there are some plans drawn up as to replacements, with the possible options including, but not being limited to, Brownie's 11-year-old boy, Brownie's 9-year-old girl, Damani Knight, Maud, Cristiano, a Saint Bernards with a barrel o' schnapps around the neck, Steve from Accounting's pet squirrel Archibald, a leaking garden hose, and a stack of six rolls of toilet paper.
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Old 08-24-2019, 06:19 PM   #2957
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Raccoons (17-26) @ Knights (20-22) – May 25-27, 2032

The Knights had rocked eight of nine games from the Critters last year, so expectations upon bumbling into Atlanta were reasonably low, especially given how we had no pitching, little hitting, and monstrous luck. They were second from the bottom in runs scored in the CL, and average in terms of allowing runs, with a -15 run differential. Their pen was a whole damn lot better than their rotation, though, so you had to get them early.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (2-2, 4.93 ERA) vs. Chris Inderrieden (3-5, 5.07 ERA)
Iganacio del Rio (3-2, 3.32 ERA) vs. Armando Zaragoza (3-2, 5.68 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-4, 5.13 ERA) vs. Gabriel Lara (2-4, 6.04 ERA)

How often do you see that – the Coons’ three starters so far outpitching every single one of their direct opponents? Those were also all right-handers, and we had both been off on Monday. Southpaw Mario Rosas (6-3, 3.38 ERA) could be skipped into the series though.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – CF Hall – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – C James – P Gurney
ATL: LF Inoa – C S. Garcia – RF Pincus – 1B Harenberg – 2B J. Johnson – SS Thomson – CF Raynor – 3B Maneke – P Inderrieden

Gurney got ****ed for four in the second inning, which was not exactly out of the ordinary. John Johnson and Keith Thomson led off with singles, Gurney walked Ron Raynor on four pitches, and Chris Maneke singled in a pair. After he got two outs, Gurney then glitched again, threw a lazy breaking ball to Steve Garcia, and the catcher – who had caught Ramos stealing in the first inning – dumped it into rightfield for another 2-run knock. Roy Pincus flew out to Rodriguez to end yet another terrible inning with a terrible, giant, crooked number on the board. The worst thing was that we were on the road and I didn’t know where the Knights kept their various murder weapons.

Offensively, Portland did next to nothing for five innings before Perkins hit a surprise homer to left to begin the sixth. Rodriguez’ single and Howden’s double created another run with two outs before Stalker flew out easily to end the inning. This was brief consolation in another crummy and long-lost game. Gurney was still around, but still no use. Raynor and Maneke landed hits off him in the bottom 6th, and Inderrieden pulled a run back with a sac fly. In the end we had to be merry that we had dragged Gurney through six, and that we were on the road and only had six outs left to collect with the pen. Stone got two outs, and Hennessy the last one in the seventh, but then walked Johnson and nailed Jake Barlow to begin the eighth. The runners were still on base with two outs when John Elliott hit for the pitcher and the Coons – cockily pretending they had a chance in the ninth if they could keep the Knights three runs away – sent Jonathan Fleischer. He got Elliott to 0-2, then allowed a loud double down the line to score the runners. There would not be a comeback from five runs down, but there also wouldn’t have been one from three runs down. Arturo Arellano retired Rodriguez, Howden, and Wool in order in the ninth. 7-2 Knights. Rodriguez 2-4;

There are no words.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – C Wool – CF Braun – P del Rio
ATL: LF Inoa – C S. Garcia – RF Pincus – 1B Harenberg – 2B J. Johnson – 3B Maneke – CF Seago – SS Barlow – P G. Lara

Kevin Harenberg raised his average to .257 with three homers with a leadoff single in the bottom 2nd, the inning that ate up Gurney on Tuesday. Maneke doubled him in, but Ignacio struck out Nate Seago for the second out. That brought up the .214 left-hander Barlow with first base open. Nah, free runners suck. These Coons pitchers also suck, but at least del Rio sucked least right now. He walked Barlow on four pitches ANYWAY, but rung up Lara to end the inning, down only a casual 1-0. The Raccoons had stranded pairs in the first two innings, Howden grounding out in the first, Ramos grounding out in the second, but the bottom of the Knights’ order kept being productive. Maneke singled in the fourth, Seago doubled, and Barlow hit a sac fly, 2-0, before Lara made the final out again on a bouncer to Howden. Lara also retired the side in order in the fifth, at which point we had to consider getting no-hit by a terrible Knights tosser. The four runners left on in the first two frames? All had reached on a walk or error…

Jimmy Wallace spared them the shame of getting no-hit with a sixth-inning single up the middle, which only left us to worry about the shame of being universally and terrifyingly ****. Whew, just when I was worried! None of this could save del Rio, who allowed a leadoff single to Harenberg, then a 2-run bomb to Maneke in the bottom of the sixth inning, burying him a slam deep. But the game wasn’t quite over yet, Vic Anaya pitched a scoreless seventh, and the Coons opened the eighth with Ramos and Perkins singles off Lara. Ramos stole his way to third and scored on a Wallace single, which brought up the tying run in Rodriguez, who fanned, but Howden landed an RBI single, 4-2, which meant the tying run was on board for Tim Stalker with one out. He struck out. Wool flew out to Seago. The Coons lost just a little later. 4-2 Knights. Wallace 2-3, BB, RBI;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – C James – CF Braun – P Gutierrez
ATL: SS Inoa – C S. Garcia – RF Pincus – 1B Harenberg – 2B J. Johnson – 3B Maneke – LF Raynor – CF Greene – P Zaragoza

The Critters got a gift run in the opening inning when Ramos reached on a massive throwing error by John Johnson. Perkins doubled him in, but was left stranded. Luis Inoa and Roy Pincus crowded Gutierrez with singles in the bottom 1st, but were left stranded. Garcia lined out to Ramos in between, and Johnson lined out to Hall to end the inning. Top 2nd, the Coons scored a run on singles by Stalker, James, and Gutierrez … well, actually the run scored from third base on the double play Adam Braun smacked into… and while only the defensive heroics of Wilson Rodriguez spared Rico a run in the bottom 2nd, the Coons scored two more in the third inning on a 2-out, 2-run single by Tim Stalker, plating Perkins and Rodriguez. And maybe we could have enjoyed the 4-0 lead for a bit, but we still had Dimwit Gutierrez on the mound and things went south radically by the bottom of the third. Inoa doubled, Garcia walked on four pitches, Pincus doubled in one, and Johnson doubled in two. The game got tied on a walk to Maneke (four pitches), another one to Raynor (five!), and Drew Greene getting nailed for a change, which pushed home the tying run. Somehow, Zaragoza and Inoa both popped out to let Gutierrez off the hook at that point, stranding a full set of perfectly good runners in a 4-4 hack job.

The quest to make Chris Maneke, who had come in batting .232 with 2 HR and 6 RBI, the Player of the Week picked up further speed in the bottom 5th when the annoying third baseman homered to right to break the tie. Somehow we pushed Gutierrez through the inning, despite 2-out singles by Greene and Zaragoza (…) when Inoa lined out really hard to Nate Hall. And then it remained a 5-4 game for a while. Bryan Rabbitt held up for Portland, the Coons couldn’t poke anybody in the eye or any other inconvenient spot, and then we came to the bottom 8th and PH Willie Trevino hitting a leadoff double to the fence off David Fernandez. Don’t let them get an insurance run, boys. Don’t. Just… DON’T. Fernandez got Inoa, then was replaced by Stone to keep that insurance run from scoring. Garcia made an out, but Pincus singled. Okay, just make Kevin hit one right at somebody. He hit one right at Howden, but Howden, the dumb pig, fell past it, and Harenberg had an RBI single, and the Knights were still on the corners, at least until Giovanni James lost Stone’s 1-0 pitch for a run-scoring passed ball. Johnson then flew out to Braun. Like it mattered… Roland Warner retired Pinkerton, Wallace, and Ramos in order in the ninth. 7-4 Knights. Perkins 2-4, 2B, RBI; Stalker 2-4, 2 RBI; James 2-4; Rabbitt 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

With that sweep and the assorted damage, the Coons dropped to 12 games under .500, 11 games behind the Titans (giggles), and to a worrying -92 run differential, and NOW had to face the Condors.

(grabs Honeypaws real tight) I need to brace something now …!

Raccoons (17-29) @ Condors (31-17) – May 28-30, 2032

Somehow, the Raccoons had won two of three from Tijuana in their first meeting this season. By now, I had no illusion but to get swept for the week. The Condors were fourth in runs scored, second in runs allowed, with the second-best rotation by ERA, and had a +50 run differential that was not out of the usual for a playoff team at this point of the season. Very few teams got to 92 runs over .500 in May…….

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (1-3, 7.51 ERA) vs. Joe Perry (2-3, 6.24 ERA)
Tom Shumway (2-6, 8.87 ERA) vs. George Griffin (2-3, 3.27 ERA)
Jason Gurney (2-3, 5.20 ERA) vs. Ethan Jordan (5-2, 2.99 ERA)

We added Sabre to pitch on Friday on regular rest. He had made two starts in AAA, had lost both, but had put up a 1.72 ERA, but had also walked as many as he had struck out. It was all a sea of misery, and it was not easy choosing one tempest over another. Rabbitt was optioned to St. Pete to make room on the roster.

During the week, the Condors had picked up outfielder Ken Hess (then .244, 2 HR, 15 RBI) from the Buffaloes for C Elliott Kennet (.241, 0 HR, 6 RBI). Griffin was the only right-hander in their rotation. Much scarier was also the disgusting skunk weasel Shane Sanks, batting .360 with 17 homers.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Hall – 3B Perkins – RF Rodriguez – 1B Zitzner – CF Braun – 2B Marsingill – C Wool – P Sabre
TIJ: CF C. Murphy – LF Palbes – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – SS C. Miller – C Zarate – 2B O. Camacho – RF Camps – P Perry

Maybe we could get a gift lead in this one, too, only to blow it later; the Condors’ Joe Perry nailed Zitzner with one out in the second inning. Braun singled (hooray…!), and when Marsingill hit a perfect 6-4-3 grounder, Chris Miller fudged the ball and the Condors got nobody, while the Coons got Josh Wool to the plate with three on, one out, and not many expectations at all. Perry fell to 3-1, came over the middle, Wool was not that blind after all, and smashed a ball over the fence in right – GRAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAMMMM!!!!!

Then it was about how long it would take for Sabre to get turned inside-out and blow the 4-0 lead. He got half the job done in the same inning, allowing a leadoff single to Miller, a double to Danny Zarate, and a 2-run single to Omar Camacho. Juan Camps and Perry struck out, the latter with a foul bunt, Chris Murphy singled, but Hall got hold of Juan Palbes’ drive to strand the tying runs. Marsingill countered with a single plating Rodriguez, who had been nailed to begin the third inning, 5-2, but that didn’t help Sabre any. He walked Sanks to begin the third, and while Miller hit into an inning-ending double play, Sanks was back at the plate only an inning later, then with two outs and two on, including the tying and go-ahead runs. It was as usual all Sabre’s fault, having loaded the bases with the bottom of the order, including Ken Kramer hitting for Perry, before getting the second out on a Murphy pop to Perkins. Palbes however refused to go down, singled through the left side to score two, and it was now only a 5-4 game with the unretired .360 hitter with 17 homers at the plate – Sabre had walked him twice so far, but didn’t get to do it a third time. Sanks poked the 1-0 pitch in play, grounder to left, Perkins reached it, and zinged to first just barely in time.

The middle and bottom of the order were retired without incident in the fifth and sixth innings, meaning Sabre not only left with a lead after 105 pitches, but had also shaved a few points off his enormous ERA for a change… Fernandez opened the bottom 7th with a single allowed to Murphy, then was whisked right away when right-hander Jorge Zamora came out to hit for Palbes. Anaya came on, struck out the pinch-hitter, walked Sanks (better than a homer, I guess…), and continued with K’s to McGrath and Miller to keep the tender 5-4 lead together. Meanwhile Robbie Ciampa was pitching long relief for the Condors; when Zitzner hit a leadoff double in the eighth and Braun couldn’t get him over, let alone in, Jimmy Wallace batted for Marsingill, but was walked intentionally. Wool walked unintentionally, bringing up Anaya’s spot against new pitcher Jose Ornelas, a righty with a 5.87 ERA. Unfortunately this cried out for Jarod Howden. He hit a fly to right, no threat for Juan Camps, but it did get Zitzner home with a sac fly. Ramos, who was now neck deep in a slump swamp, struck out. The insurance run didn’t see the ninth inning; Jared Stone gave up a leadoff triple to speedy catcher Danny Zarate, and while Camacho couldn’t get the run in with a grounder to Perkins, Camps could, with a single to center. Yeong-ha Sung hit into a double play to end the inning with a 6-5 tally. And yet, Portland got another insurance run in the ninth. Jimmy Driver walked Wilson Rodriguez with two outs, threw a wild pitch, and conceded an RBI single to Zitzner, and here came Chris Wise, who hadn’t pitched since about Easter. Murphy – struck out. He walked Hess, but then dodged Sanks, who flew out easily to Braun. McGrath fell to 0-2, hit a grounder to Pinkerton at second base, and the game ended with a casual 4-3 putout there. 7-5 Raccoons. Zitzner 2-4, 2B, RBI; Wool 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 4 RBI;

We won a game …! (weeps) I am so happy …!

Wait, we have to play another two against them? Aw, shucks.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – CF Hall – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 3B Perkins – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – C James – P Shumway
TIJ: C Zarate – CF C. Murphy – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – 2B C. Miller – RF Camps – LF Palbes – SS O. Camacho – P Griffin

Anything but disaster would have greatly surprised me. My surprise at a 1-2-3 first from Tom Scumbag was short-lived. He walked McGrath and Camps in the second, then gave up back-to-back singles to left. Palbes’ brought in the game’s first run. Camacho’s didn’t add another although Camps was sent – Jimmy Wallace threw him out at the plate. That put two in scoring position with two outs and the pitcher at the plate, which even for Tom ****ing Shumway… and indeed George Griffin struck out, keeping it 1-0 through two. Top 3rd, Shumway made the first out before Griffin shoveled the bags full by hitting Ramos (hey!! That hurt even me!!) and walking Hall and Wallace, presenting a not-very-hot-anymore Rodriguez with the bags full. Wilson never got something good to hit – just four more balls to force in Ramos with the tying run. Regrettably, Justin Perkins struck out before Griffin continued his meltdown with another walk to Howden, bringing in Hall with the go-ahead run. Stalker then grounded out. Shumway’s response was a leadoff walk to Zarate in the third, then a walk to Miller, a wild pitch, and a walk to Camps in the fourth. Somehow, neither inning blew up in his annoying face, with Griffin again whiffing to strand a pair. Bottom 5th, leadoff walk to Zarate again… GODDAMN ****ING DAMNIT!! THROW A STRIKE, YOU ****ING ***HOLE!! To anybody’s bewilderment, Tom Scumbag survived this inning, too. Murphy grounded into a fielder’s choice, was pinned when Sanks popped out, then was caught stealing to complete five.

The game only got weirder. With Shumway yanked after five innings of 1-run ball on 95 pitches with six walks doled out, Fleischer took over and gave up a 1-out triple to Miller in the bottom 6th. Camps popped out, Palbes whiffed, and the Condors were considering which old Aztec ritual could probably break this wicked curse. Hitting Ken Kramer in place of Murphy would – that occurred in the bottom 7th with Camacho on second after a leadoff single against Anaya, and Garavito’s appearance provoked the switch-hitter to make an appearance. He hit a crafty single to left, where Wallace was already removed for defense, but to no avail, and the tying run scored. Sanks struck out, ending the inning. Nothing great happened in the eighth, and the Coons still had nothing going in the ninth, finishing regulation on just three base hits. John Hennessy was pitching in the bottom 9th, gave up a leadoff single to Camacho, who reached third base on two grounders. By now Sung was in the #2 slot, another switch-hitter. Regardless, we were short on arms. Hennessy had to face the .214 hitter anyway. The 2-1 was popped up and caught by Stalker, sending the game to extras, where Ramos drew a leadoff walk against Ray Andrews, stole second, and then was blatantly left alone with himself. Hall struck out, PH Travis Zitzner walked, Rodriguez whiffed, and Perkins popped out. Fernandez extended the game, though, and James and Braun hit 2-out singles in the 11th against Mike Simcoe to allow Ramos to take a poke from the other side, but he grounded out to Miller. Top 12th, leadoff single by Hall past Miller, then a wild pitch! Pinkerton hit for Fernandez, but struck out, but Rodriguez singled up the middle! Hall was sent, Sung’s throw was bad, and the Coons broke the tie! Then they left Rodriguez in scoring position, but at least Chris Wise could take the ball, our final rested reliever (and only Stone actually remained). Sung K’ed, Sanks ran a 3-0 count, *poked!*, and grounded out to Ramos! HA!! ****ING SUCKER!! SANKS! YOU ****ING SUCK!!! Oh ****, there’s only two outs. But McGrath’s K made three, and ended the game. 3-2 Blighters! Braun (PH) 2-3, 2B; Fernandez 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, W (1-1);

Ho-ly … Furball!

We are now 4-1 against Tijuana this season. Don’t ask, I can’t explain…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Zitzner – CF Braun – 2B Stalker – C James – P Gurney
TIJ: C Zarate – LF Palbes – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – 2B C. Miller – RF Camps – CF Sung – SS O. Camacho – P Jordan

The second inning ate up Gurney once more. He walked Miller to get going, nailed Camps, and allowed a single to Sung. Three on, no outs, with runs coming home on a DEEP sac fly by Camacho and a Jordan single (…!). Zarate popped out, Palbes coaxed a walk and then it was on Sanks, who had yet to drive in a run in this series, but surely would now cash a few … nope, he flew out to Wilson in right and the Condors got only to 2-0. But the bases filled up again in the next inning. Camps, Sung, Camacho were all aboard with two outs for Jordan, who fell to 2-2, then grounded between the mound and first base. Gurney went over, threw to first … late … and a run scored. Zarate grounded out to short, stranding three more. Gurney walked Sanks in the fourth, his fifth free pass, before getting his first strikeout against McGrath, and he was also casually at 86 pitches, all terrible, through four innings, while the Coons had made Jordan offer precisely half as many, but in the fifth had the tying run at the plate with nobody out. Braun had singled to center, getting over .180 for the first time in the brown shirt, and Stalker drew four balls. Giovanni James fell to 0-2 before hitting a liner to the left side. To anybody’s surprise, Camacho lunged and caught the ball, catching Braun far off the base, and a gentle toss to Chris Miller doubled him off. Sadistically, Jordan then walked Gurney on four pitches, threw a wild one, walked Berto, Perkins came up with the bags full, and flew out to Palbes in shallow left on the very first pitch…….

By contrast, Gurney was knocked out in the bottom 5th, which surprised nobody. He left with two out and two in scoring position, and Garavito replaced him against the bottom of the order, then cocked up doubles into the leftfield corner both to the right-hander Zarate and the left-hander Palbes, conceding a total of three runs for a 6-0 deficit. Those Coons looked more like the Coons of this season…! That was more than likely the game, especially with the way Jordan was pitching. He didn’t allow a runner anymore into the eighth inning, but then ran out of juice abruptly. He walked Marsingill in the #9 hole to begin the inning, then allowed singles to Perkins, Rodriguez, and Zitzner, the latter two each plating a run. Braun flew out to center to end the inning. nevertheless, the Condors appeared to right Jordan between innings – he came back out for the ninth and retired Stalker, Hall, and Pinkerton in order. 6-2 Condors. Perkins 2-4, 2B; Braun 2-4;

In other news

May 25 – Milwaukee’s Willie Ojeda (.323, 1 HR, 7 RBI) decides an 18-inning marathon with a home run off SFB SP Matt Huf (4-5, 4.70 ERA), pressed into long relief, giving the Loggers a 3-2 win. The Bayhawks’ pen got involved in the first inning after SP/MR Rodolfo Cervantes (1-0, 1.06 ERA) left the game after only three pitches with a back strain.
May 26 – NYC OF/3B Zachary Ryder (.287, 2 HR, 23 RBI) drives in four runs on three base hits from the #8 hole in the Crusaders’ 12-2 win over the Falcons.
May 27 – Vegas’ SP Jamie Klages (4-1, 3.88 ERA) 2-hits the Indians and whiffs up nine batters in a 4-0 shutout.
May 27 – Veteran TOP RF/LF Pablo Sanchez (.344, 1 HR, 19 RBI) will miss three weeks with shoulder tendinitis.
May 27 – As Dallas romps Cincy, 13-2, INF Jon Ramos (.318, 2 HR, 27 RBI) has five hits and two RBI, while OF/1B Aaron Botzet contributes four hits and drives in four runs, too.
May 28 – NYC 2B Mario Hurtado (.216, 0 HR, 18 RBI) singles home Guillermo Obando in the 12th for the only run in the Crusaders’ 1-0 win over the Aces.
May 29 – CHA SP Brian Bowsman (5-5, 3.45 ERA) figures to miss a full year with a ruptured UCL and will head for Tommy John surgery.
May 29 – RIC SP Joaquin Serrano (2-4, 4.74 ERA) and two relievers pitch a combined 1-hitter against the Gold Sox, who only get utility Tyler Miles (.314, 2 HR, 17 RBI) on base with a seventh-inning double. Richmond wins, 6-0.
May 30 – IND SP Sal Bedoya (2-4, 4.82 ERA) unfurls a 1-hit shutout of the Falcons, who only get a seventh-inning double from LF/RF Graciano Salto (.262, 2 HR, 26 RBI).
May 30 – Richmond’s SP Derrick Forbes (3-3, 4.14 ERA) spins a 2-hit shutout against the Gold Sox, whiffing six in a 4-0 Rebels win.
May 30 – IND SP/MR Mitch Brothers (1-3, 6.25 ERA) might miss the rest of the year with shoulder inflammation.

Complaints and stuff

This week we gave up 31 runs in six games, which is in no way awesome, but still constitutes a significant improvement for this team. Scoring more than 20 markers might have helped us to a .500 week…

A significant portion of the harm was done by – I called it! – Player of the Week Chris Maneke of the Knights. He is .266 with ten dingers for the season after going .500 (11-22) with 3 HR and 9 RBI this week. Against Portland, he went .667 (6-for-9) with two walks, two homers, and six RBI. And as we are on CL South third basemen that can be used as an emetic, Shane Sanks walked five times against the Coons this weekend, but batted 0-for-11 and did us no harm whatsoever. Sorta beats the last time around when he had a 4-hit game and plated six runs. ****ing disgusting skunk weasel.

And I still don’t know how we went up 4-2 against the Condors. What do they have what other teams lack? Or the other way round?

We come back home now for a homestand that will feature the Falcons and Titans. The latter series will start a string of 20 consecutive game days.

Fun Fact: 22 years ago today, the Loggers’ Todd Moultrie had a 6-hit game in a 17-2 rout of the Aces.

The second baseman Moultrie had a long, but not exactly excellent career. He was a supplemental round pick for the Bayhawks in the 1995 draft out of high school, but ended up with the Cylcones by the time of his ABL debut in 2001. He would not get more than a handful at-bats until being traded to New York in 2004, but even then was a below-average hitter. He did field well, though, winning Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008 with the Rebels after he got a ring with the 2006 Crusaders, but never again played two full seasons with the same team, or enough to qualify with 502 PA in any season, despite hanging on until 2014. He was traded mid-season five times, including four consecutive years from 2009 through 2012, including being traded to the Bayhawks in consecutive seasons. He played for ten different teams in 14 distinct stints in his career, batting .259/.321/.342 with 21 HR and 386 RBI, landing exactly 1,001 base hits.

He never washed ashore in Portland, but was traded twice for a player that would later come to Portland, Ken Rodgers and – more significantly – Ronnie McKnight, who went from the Rebels to the Loggers when Moultrie went the other way. It was the first of three times that McKnight was traded in 2010, but he didn’t get to Portland until the 2014 trade for Graham Wasserman. He was of course Rookie of the Year in 2015, one year after Matt Nunley won the same honor for Portland.

I miss Matt Nunley.
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1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
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: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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pgjocki (08-24-2019)
Old 08-25-2019, 04:54 PM   #2958
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Raccoons (19-30) vs. Falcons (19-31) – May 31-June 2, 2032

The attraction of two genuinely terrible teams. Maud, you think we have to open more than two gates tonight? We could save some quid on the cashiers and the people that check the bags for contraband food. – No? – Fine.

Anyway, the Falcons were third from the bottom in runs scored, fifth from the bottom in runs allowed, and had a -36 run differential, which was boilerplate bad at the end of May, and yet not even half the Coons’ margin under .500; they had a 2-1 edge in the season series.

Projected matchups:
Ignacio del Rio (3-3, 3.66 ERA) vs. Mark Matthews (0-2, 6.23 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-5, 5.50 ERA) vs. Chris Miller (1-0, 4.18 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (2-3, 7.31 ERA) vs. John Jackson (0-1, 4.50 ERA)

Now, these were three right-handers, but the Falcons had been ravaged by injury and had no fewer than three of their starting pitchers on the DL, including Brian Bowsman, Aaron Lewis (both probably out for the year), and Jim Tierney (maybe September?). Outfielder Barend Kok was also stashed away on the DL. Miller had pitched in relief on Friday, but had only offered 23 pitches, so should be able to go on three days’ rest by Tuesday.

Game 1
CHA: 2B D. Ruiz – SS Coughenour – LF Salto – C Huichapa – RF Trahan – 3B G. Ortiz – CF N. Nelson – 1B Mack – P Matthews
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – 2B Stalker – CF Braun – C James – P del Rio

The pretense that somehow del Rio was the staff ace all of a sudden got dispelled by the Falcons in the first inning; or rather by himself. He walked Danny Ruiz, Ernesto Huichapa, and Dave Trahan, then allowed a bases-clearing double to Greg Ortiz, the one that got away, and for good measure a bomb to Nate Nelson to put the Coons in their usual place, down 5-0. The first inning ordeal took 44 pitches and over 20 minutes, and some select troublemakers in the cheap seats were booing already. Ruiz walked, Dave Coughenour singled, Ruiz got actually caught stealing, which was also something we weren’t seeing a lot of ‘round here, but Graciano Salto tripled and Huichapa singled to add two more in the second inning, after which del Rio was excused from further efforts. Not that culling the starter made anything better – Jonathan Fleischer got raided for three in the third, and the Falcons (a bottom three offense, remember?) were into double digits just like that. In between, Jarod Howden had hit a solo home run in the bottom 2nd, which then made it a 7-1 game, and which the excessively thin crowd took for what it was – worthless.

Preston Pinkerton hit a triple in the #9 hole in the bottom 3rd, came home on Ramos’ sac fly, 10-2, and then got to pitch in the fourth inning for a change. He also got to pitch the fifth and sixth, conceding a run only when the stupid defense behind him couldn’t turn a double play with runners on the corners and one down on Ortiz. In between, Pinkerton also drew a bases-loaded walk from Matthews while batting, automatically making him Raccoon of the Week, and it was only ****ing Monday. And while our offense was also laden with problems and a multitude of players not hitting a damn lick at this point, the Raccoons kept scratching out the odd run here and there. Stalker and Braun produced a run on back-to-back doubles off Matthews in the sixth. Braun was on again in the ninth against lefty Danny Burgess, who hung one to Giovanni James that was hit into the stands in rightfield, 30 feet away from a boy with a glove, and he had all the time in the world to walk over and pick it up… Nate Hall added a pinch-hit double and scored on two outs, but that still kept the team a slam short after the early rampage. 11-7 Falcons. Howden 2-4, HR, 2B, RBI; Braun 3-4, 2B, RBI; James 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI; Hall (PH) 1-1, 2B; Pinkerton 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K and 1-2, BB, 3B, RBI; Hennessy 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Speaking of offensive woes, the Raccoons plated seven runs in this game while their top four in the lineup went 0-for-17 with one walk (Wallace) and two sac flies (Ramos, Perkins). Berto is 2-for-28. Rodriguez is 2-for-24. Nate Hall is also dead in the Willamette, 4-for-32.

Thank goodness we don’t have any other problems.

Jonathan Fleischer (5.02 ERA) was demoted to AAA and Nick Bates was recalled.

Game 2
CHA: 2B D. Ruiz – SS Coughenour – 3B G. Ortiz – LF Salto – CF N. Nelson – C Cooper – RF Trahan – 1B Mack – P C. Miller
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – 3B Perkins – 1B Howden – CF Braun – LF Hall – C Wool – P Gutierrez

Normally the best thing you could say about Rico Gutierrez was that not as soon as he finished his warm-up tosses a pair of horsemen each broke through either bullpen gate and galloped in to knot ropes around each of his appendages to swiftly quarter him right over the pitching mound. Gutierrez kept stuff on the ground, which was sort of his best bet at this point, and Tim Stalker made some good plays early on, too, but the Falcons amounted to zero in the time in which they had run out del Rio and Fleischer for ten the night before. Gutierrez, less appealingly, also landed the Critters’ first base hit, a single to right, after Chris Miller had retired eight straight to begin his day. Ramos and Stalker chipped in two more 2-out singles to bring Gutierrez around to score for the first run of the game. Jimmy Wallace hit a comebacker to end the inning.

Then the Falcons woke up. Nate Nelson homered to tie the game in the fourth, and immediately Matt Cooper (walk) and Crai Mack (single) also reached base. Gutierrez threw a wild pitch, but stranded them in scoring position with a K to Miller. The pitcher would be at the plate again with two outs in the sixth and Matt Cooper and Mack in scoring position with two base hits, but Miller popped out to keep the score knotted. The Critters didn’t score in the bottom 6th, leaving Gutierrez with a no-decision as we weren’t going to send him out for the fourth trip through a mostly right-handed lineup. Instead Anaya had to battle through a few left-handed pinch-hitters in the top 7th before the bottom of the inning brought a 2-out double to right by Zitzner from the #9 hole (after being double-switched in with Anaya), and Miller walked Berto, then threw a wild pitch. Stalker ran a 3-1 count, then grounded to Quinn Jewell at short. Jewell threw the ball past new first baseman Johnny Oltman, and both runners were awarded home plate to give Portland a 3-1 lead. Wallace left Stalker on with a fly to center, turning it over to the eighth, where before long the Falcons had two out and two in scoring position, Nelson and Cooper. Nick Bates had put them on, and his departure made them Fernandez’ problem. With two down, Fernandez got a grounder from Huichapa to Stalker, Stalker ****ED it, and the error scored Nelson, 3-2. Fernandez walked Oltman to fill the bags, was yanked for Wise, who arrived in a double switch with Wilson Rodriguez (out went Wallace), and Wise rung up the .321 hitter Jewell to strand a full set. Come the ninth, Wise walked leadoff man Ortiz, allowed a 2-out single to Cooper, and somehow survived two line drives, the last of which Ramos caught off Dave Trahan’s bat to end the game. 3-2 Coons. Ramos 2-3, BB; Zitzner 1-1, 2B; Gutierrez 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K and 1-1, BB; Wise 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, SV (11);

Game 3
CHA: 2B D. Ruiz – SS Coughenour – LF Salto – C Huichapa – 3B G. Ortiz – CF N. Nelson – RF M. Mendoza – 1B Mack – P J. Jackson
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – CF Braun – LF Hall – C James – P Sabre

Misery took hold fast after Ruiz’ initial groundout. Coughenour and Salto landed hits, Huichapa walked, and with the bags full Sabre nailed Ortiz to get a run across right away in the first. Nate Nelson hit an RBI single past Ramos before Mario Mendoza popped out and Zitzner made a *marvelous* play on Mack’s grounder to end the inning with only two runs’ worth of damage. Add two to that in the second, which Jackson led off with a single – FOR ****’S SAKE!! – and Ruiz rammed a triple off the fence before being brought in with a groundout, 4-0. Every. Single. ****ing. Game. (slams desk with clenched fist before yelling at Honeypaws) There will have to be sweeping changes in this **** hole!!

One sweeping change was spotted in the bottom 4th when heretofore well-hidden Coons put two on base with a pair of 1-out walks to Perkins and Zitzner before Braun looped a ball over Coughenour for a bases-filling single. That also fired Adam Braun all the way to a .201 batting average. Whoah, slow it down, Ad – I’m getting dizzy up here! Nate Hall hit a sac fly to center, which was not exactly keeping the momentum, but Giovanni James singled to Nelson’s feet after that. Actually, Nelson misplayed it; instead of playing it safe, he came in aggro and then pulled up too late, the ball hit his glove on the first bounce, and got behind him for an extra base and a run on a clumsy fielding error. Sabre had the tying runs in scoring position with two outs – yeah, well… - and chucked a ball up the middle for an RBI single, cutting it to 4-3. Ramos flew out to left… No, the Coons couldn’t get over the hump. Sabre hung in for six innings before being hit for with James on first base and two outs but Howden struck out feebly in his spot. Then came Jared Stone in the seventh and served up a 2-run homer to Huichapa that gave the Falcons a new 3-run lead, 6-3.

But there was another fat chance for the Coons to come back. The bottom 8th saw Chris D’Angelo, a right-hander with an ERA over six (beleaguered pitching staffs everywhere…) for Charlotte. Perkins hit a leadoff double, and D’Angelo lost both Zitzner and Braun to walks. Three on, no outs – what a terrible spot to be in! Danny Burgess, a lefty, replaced D’Angelo and rung up Hall. Rodriguez was sent to bat for James to get a hold on the southpaw, but the Falcons instead went to a right-hander, Mike Tandy and his 5.29 ERA. Rodriguez grounded to third, only play was at first, and a run scored, but we had been hoping for more here. Wool ended up batting for Bates and grounded out to Ruiz, leaving the tying runs in scoring position. Both closers got involved in the ninth. Wise had a scoreless inning before Tony Rivas, a righty with a 3.04 ERA came on. Ramos singled. Stalker singled. The winning run was at the plate with nobody out. Wallace grounded into a fielder’s choice on the first pitch he saw. Perkins also hit the first pitch, flying out to center. Ramos scored, but that didn’t ****ing help any. Zitzner – ALSO hit the first pitch, and ALSO flew out to center. 6-5 Falcons. James 2-2, BB, RBI;

Well, at least they ****ing got to beat traffic after three pitches and three outs!! (has foam on the edge of his mouth)

Raccoons (20-32) vs. Titans (34-20) – June 4-6, 2032

Hope was misplaced here. After winning the first two games of the season from Boston, the Coons had lost four straight against the blue terrors, and many, many more games against everybody else. They were second in the league in runs scored and runs allowed, had the best rotation, the second-best pen, a strong defense, hit for power, stole bases, and were probably also glad to have gotten rid of Adam Braun just in time… They had won five in a row, including a raucous sweep of the Condors in the middle of the week.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (2-4, 5.55 ERA) vs. Mario Gonzalez (4-4, 2.73 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (3-4, 4.81 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (5-3, 4.31 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-5, 5.09 ERA) vs. Alex Contreras (4-2, 4.01 ERA)

Left, left, right for the weekend. There were also some injuries for the Titans, who were without catcher David Lessman foremost, and also a few other players including SP Josh Walsh and an unwell Moises Avila, who could however return any day.

The Coons executed a straight skip of the horrendous Tom Shumway.

Game 1
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – C R. Avila – 3B T. Johnson – RF Jamieson – P M. Gonzalez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – CF Braun – LF Hall – C James – P Gurney

Adrian Reichardt, the persistent pest that just kept on pestering, legged out an infield single on the first pitch of the game, which was basically “ballgame”. Willie Vega doubled, Justin Uliasz scored Reichardt with a grounder, and then Keith Spataro’s comebacker and Rhett West’s comebacker curtailed a crooked number early on. In fact, Gurney buried his claws and teeth in the mound after this and held the Titans rather short in the next few innings, allowing only two more hits through five innings, and no additional runs, which already made him sort of a winner… well, except in that old box score. The Coons had Ramos and Stalker on with a pair of 2-out singles in the third, but Perkins stranded them, and then it was Ramos again with a 2-out single in the fifth to stir up trouble. He stole second, then came around when Stalker singled over the head of Uliasz, tying the game in the process. Stalker was left on again, so of course the Titans went straight to the corners in the top of the sixth with an Uliasz double and a Spataro single. West hit a comebacker that Gurney would have loved to turn into two, but they only got Spataro at second and the Titans remained on the corners for Roberto Avila, who was batting .207. The 1-1 pitch got away from Giovanni James, with the go-ahead run scoring on the passed ball. Gurney, visibly unsettled, went on to walk Avila, and with two outs allowed back-to-back RBI singles to Jamieson and … and the ****ing opposing pitcher. He was yanked in a 4-1 game, and Garavito got the third out from Reichardt.

Then it was Dinger Time. Zitzner and Braun hit solo shots in the bottom 6th. Willie Vega took Garavito deep to start the seventh, 5-3. The Coons’ pen was wonky, with Stone and Fernandez also both putting two on base, but somehow the Titans didn’t zoom away and it remained a 2-run game into the bottom of the ninth which James led off with a double over the head of Adrian Reichardt (!!) against Jermaine Campbell and his 1.85 ERA. Marsingill struck out. Ramos floated a soft single to bring the winning run to the plate. Tim Stalker also flew to center, but Reichardt got leather on that one, James holding at first base. It was down to Jimmy Wallace, also slumping, and pinch-hitting for the pitcher Fernandez in the #3 spot. He grounded out to West. 5-3 Titans. Ramos 4-5; Stalker 2-5, RBI; Marsingill (PH) 1-2;

This was Adam Braun’s first home run as a Raccoon. Only took him until June! Silly me was already worried…

Maud, how many games left in the season? – Nine? – Great! I don’t think I can stomach even one more ga- … - Oh, a HUNDRED and nine.

(rolls into a ball under the desk)

Game 2
BOS: CF M. Avila – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – RF M. Walker – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – 3B T. Johnson – C Pizzo – P Contreras
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – 3B Perkins – 1B Howden – CF Braun – LF Hall – C James – P del Rio

Ramos reached on an Uliasz error in the first, but was caught stealing, but the Critters remained brash on the bases. Howden reached with a leadoff infield single in the second, Braun singled, Howden went really madly to third base and Mark Walker didn’t get a good throw off at all, opening a hole at second base as Spataro had to curtail the throw in no man’s land, and giving the Coons two in scoring position with nobody out. They got only one run on Hall’s grounder, with James popping out and del Rio rolling over to Todd Johnson. Perkins would scratch out another run, scoring Stalker with a 2-out single in the third. Meanwhile, del Rio had not allowed a hit yet, but nailed Vega in the fourth. Vega stole second, then came around on Mark Walker’s base hit through Perkins, but collided with Giovanni James and had to leave the game with an injury. Matt Jamieson replaced him while Ramos made a spectacular play on a sharp bouncer by Spataro to keep the 2-1 lead in one piece through the top 4th.

On the plus side, del Rio would protect the 2-1 lead through seven innings, whiffing as many Titans before the pitch count forced him out following Mike Pizzo’s inning-ending double play in the top of the seventh. On the flip side, the Coons were not hitting anything, either, and their lead was extremely flimsy. Ramos reached base and stole second with two outs in the seventh, but was stranded by Stalker. Anaya came out for the eighth, Braun spoiled a Reichardt drive in deep center to begin the inning – how does that taste, Reichardt?? – and Anaya got two outs before Jamieson and Uliasz landed hits to get to the corners. Fernandez came out to face the left-hander Walker, who hit a deep drive to left… deep… deep… still deep… and Nate Hall was there. No insurance run came together for Portland, either, so it was Chris Wise in the ninth inning against the 5-6-7 bunch and with no cushion. He walked Spataro in a full count. Good start…! West moved the runner with a bunt, while Johnson flew out to Pinkerton in center. That brought up Pizzo, batting .068, but there was that well-known Curse of the Ex-Coons … but not this time. Pizzo grounded out to Howden on the first pitch, and the Coons snatched that one… 2-1 Blighters. Stalker 1-2, 2 BB; Perkins 2-4, RBI; Braun 2-3; del Rio 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, W (4-4);

Willie Vega was ruled out with a thumb contusion and would miss about a week. He was not DL’ed, so the Titans had a short bench for the rubber game.

Game 3
BOS: CF M. Avila – LF Reichardt – 1B Uliasz – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – C R. Avila – 3B T. Johnson – RF M. Walker – P Wingo
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – CF Braun – LF Hall – C Wool – P Gutierrez

The Titans took a 2-0 lead in the second. It was a stupid lead, because they were stupid runs. Rhett West was on second base with two outs and Gutierrez ran an 0-2 count against Todd Johnson, but because a moldy lemon had more stuff than Gutierrez (but didn’t make nearly as much dough), Johnson spanked an RBI single past Perkins. Gutierrez threw a wild pitch, then allowed another 2-strike, 2-out RBI single to Mark Walker before ringing up Wingo, barely, in a full count. Two walks and two hits somehow cost the Coons only one more run in the third inning before Johnson grounded out to Ramos to end that miserable inning. By the way, the home team managed only a Stalker walk and a Perkins double play the first time through, but I managed to get all the way to the Capt’n’s hat on this brand new bottle o’ stew here before Gutierrez trudged out for the fourth, and come the fifth the NWSN cameras caught the mascot animating an entire section that was empty, not a soul in it, well, except for Chad, who had glue-sniffed his brains out many years ago.

Wingo continued to face the minimum through five, and the Coons almost got Gutierrez through six, which was already at the success level of performance for him, but a 2-out walk to Walker (well, the name says it…) and a Wingo single (**** my life) knocked him out. Stone got Moises Avila to ground out to end the top 6th. That aside, the Coons were hitless through six and hadn’t been on base since that Stalker walk in the first. The 1-2-3 made swift outs against Wingo in the seventh, but Travis Zitzner took off the threat when he dropped a ****ty blooper into shallow center to begin the eighth inning, unreachable for anybody, but by no means impressive. Marsingill hit for Hennessy in the vacated Rodriguez spot, knocked into a double play, Braun doubled, and Hall struck out. All was well and in order in Portland… well, except that we lost. Jermaine Campbell spelled WIngo in the ninth when the titans couldn't get out of save range, but a soft Ramos single was all their was to their rally that never arrived. 3-0 Titans. Stone 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

In other news

May 31 – The Titans tear down the Condors in a 20-6 blowout. BOS 1B Justin Uliasz (.290, 11 HR, 43 RBI) falls a triple shy of the cycle with five hits plating three runs. BOS OF Mark Walker (.286, 7 HR, 38 RBI) has three hits and drives in five runs. All position players in the Titans’ lineup have at least one hit and score at least one run.
May 31 – LAP 2B/3B Dave Menth (.312, 9 HR, 20 RBI) has four hits and five RBI in a 13-4 romp over the Miners.
June 1 – SFB 2B/SS Jose Cruz (.294, 2 HR, 40 RBI) will miss three weeks with a quad strain.
June 2 – Boston’s SP/MR Tony Chavez (5-0, 1.64 ERA, 1 SV) 3-hits the Condors in a 4-0 shutout.
June 6 – SAL SP Rin Nomura (5-2, 2.74 ERA) throws a 3-hit shutout against the Warriors, somehow surviving despite issuing *seven* walks. The Wolves win 6-0.
June 6 – New York’s 1B Jay Elder (.236, 1 HR, 23 RBI) is set to miss three weeks with a bruised wrist.

Complaints and stuff

Compared to the raging circus of the first two months, this week was almost dull in comparison. After the horror show on Monday we actually had five straight games with relatively normal baseball scores. Well, I’d like the team to score more than 3.33 runs per game, but maybe we can work on that next week…

We are now into a string of 20 consecutive games, so no more skipping Scumbags from here. Bernie Chavez is however likely to start a rehab assignment some time next week, so there could be a shakeup in the making by the second half of the month. Nobody else in AAA is doing particularly well, either, and certainly not Dave Martinez with an ERA over five.

But we should talk about a few hitting prospects, three in particular. The first one would be last year’s #5 pick, Manny Fernandez, now 22 and batting a lame .244 with four homers in single-A. He is drawing some walks and he will probably move up after the new draft ten days from now, but it’s sure not the pants-on-fire performance that f.e. once put a #8 pick Daniel Sharp on the major league roster only two months after being drafted.

We have also been watching Elliott Thompson ever since taking him in the sixth round (#155) of the 2028 draft; well, since about late ’29, early ’30. His first 12 months in professional baseball were gruesome. He hit .242 with four homers in AA last season and was moved up to St. Pete to begin this year. There, the 22-year-old has flourished. He is currently batting .353/.441/.431 in 43 games, and he throws out 42% of base stealers. There could be a surprise promotion in the very near future!

The last one is a guy that hasn’t often been talked about even recently, Ed Hooge (pronounced: hooch!), who seems to be no mooch, either. The #16 pick from 2030 made the promotion to St. Pete late last year after starting out the year in Aumsville, and batted .286 with four homers in 30 games. This year, in 48 games, he’s gone .328 with six homers and 24 extra-base hits. He is also 22, but maybe we should start looking for a desert in which to dispose of Nate Hall. Or, better, Braun.

Fun Fact: In addition to the way-worst team ERA the Coons also bring up the rear in BABIP and GO%.

These are connected, but our infield defense is not that bad. The team BABIP is .317, which is pretty horrendous and almost 20 points over the CL average. Also, we still have a Gold Glover a the keystone, and they are not obviously terrible with the glove. I mean, sometimes you can see it. Think Ricardo Martinez, who almost got clocked once or twice by Nick Brown ca. 2008 for being so outrageously **** at the hot corner.

Not getting anybody to strike out also hurts. Other teams just keep runners moving. Ignacio del Rio leads the team with 42 K. And remember that he was in AAA for the first few weeks…

In fact, del Rio leads the team in all triple crown categories now…….

I could watch some video from a Jonny Toner start from like 15 years ago now, but I think I would jump out the window and, given my luck, land on Chad’s well-cushioned head in some empty section below.
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:00 PM   #2959
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Raccoons (21-34) @ Loggers (24-30) – June 7-10, 2032

The Loggers had also hoped for better times to come, but had been disappointed. They couldn’t score runs at all, struggling to out-run 3.5 runs per game. Their pitching, ironically, was amazing. They were also conceding the fewest runs in the Continental League, but even then their run differential was -20. Their rotation was average, their pen was tougher than titanium nails, and the Coons were not really in a condition to deal with that, yet came in with a 2-1 edge in the season series.

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (2-4, 7.15 ERA) vs. Josh Long (6-5, 2.41 ERA)
Tom Shumway (2-6, 8.19 ERA) vs. Julio Palomo (3-1, 4.78 ERA)
Jason Gurney (2-5, 5.62 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (1-4, 3.71 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (4-4, 4.37 ERA) vs. Alfredo Casique (6-5, 4.35 ERA)

In this compilation, Colmenarez was the only left-handed pitcher. However, the Loggers had seen Casique leave his last start early with some sort of ailment and didn’t yet know whether they had to put him down. They already had right-hander Mike Hodge and outfielder Gabe Creech on the DL.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – 3B Perkins – 1B Howden – LF Braun – CF Pinkerton – C James – P Sabre
MIL: CF Valenzuela – SS Sessoms – 2B W. Morris – LF D.J. Mendez – RF Stephenson – C J. Young – 1B M. Monroe – 3B Lockert – P Long

Catcher’s interference put Tim Stalker on base in the first inning, and Jimmy Wallace drew a walk to create some sort of weird chance, but Perkins grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Jarod Howden was as much help as you’d expect in this spot and flew out easily to D.J. Mendez. Nobody got an actual hit for either side in the first three innings. Sabre retired the Loggers in order the first time through, and the Critters couldn’t dent Long any more than his own catcher Jim Young could. Perkins would sneak a single through the infield in the fourth inning, which brought up Howden, and Howden, the dumb pig, hit into a double play. Bottom 4th, Sabre’s first hit conceded was a single to center against Aaron Sessoms. He then gave up three in a row right away, with Sessoms scoring on singles by Wayne Morris and D.J. Mendez. Josh Stephenson flew out before Jim Young drew a full count walk with two outs. And so did Miles Monroe with the bases loaded… Matt Lockert popped out on the first pitch, keeping it at 2-0.

The Coons would not get another base hit until the seventh inning, a soft single to center by Travis Zitzner, hitting for Sabre after Howden and James reached base on balls with two outs. That brought up Berto, still slumping and already 0-for-3 in the game. The count ran full, Long had to throw a strike, and Berto was good at hitting strikes – zinged it to center, and since the batters moved on the pitcher starting his throwing motion even Giovanni James managed to score from second base, so Ramos’ single tied the game at two. Zitzner went to third on the play, and then Ramos ran at the first pitch offered to Tim Stalker. The catcher threw the ball away, Ramos reached third, and Zitzner came across with the go-ahead run! Stalker flew out, leaving Ramos on. The lead didn’t last, owing to a Matt Lockert homer off Nick Bates in the bottom of the inning. Bates went on to walk Matt Dehne, and got yanked for Garavito to face Danny Valenzuela, who was hit for with Jason Parten, but the right-handed poker hit into a 6-4-3 double play, and neither team managed to put up another threat in regulation. That changed in the 10th, and it wasn’t technically the Coons’ fault, but they had the first scoring opportunity. Stalker walked against George Barnett. The Coons called a hit-and-run, Wallace poked to second base, and Wayne Morris threw it over the head of Monroe, allowing two Critters into scoring position. That was the Loggers’ fourth error in the game, and maybe we should really exploit that one? And they … well, they did take the lead, but you couldn’t blame the Raccoons for it *again*. Perkins struck out. Howden grounded out to short to end the inning. How did the run score? A wild pitch. Bottom 10th, Wise allowed a line drive single to Lockert. He walked Dehne, and Barnett in the #1 hole bunted them into scoring position. In a highly critical at-bat, Wise rung up Will Ojeda, and then Morris spanked a ball to third base. Perkins was on it, threw to first, and the game ended. 4-3 Blighters. Zitzner 1-1; Sabre 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K;

Shambles! The Loggers made more errors (4) than the Critters had base hits (3)!

Sometimes you gotta take what you get, though…

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – LF Hall – CF Braun – C Wool – P Shumway
MIL: CF W. Ojeda – SS Lockert – 2B W. Morris – RF Stephenson – 1B M. Monroe – C J. Young – LF Valenzuela – 3B Parten – P Palomo

Tom Shumway, who hadn’t pitched since May, and hadn’t won since April, was – at 35 – probably too young to die, but I couldn’t help myself but envisioning him getting crushed by a falling piano. It was 2-0 Loggers before he logged an out, and then it was Wayne Morris being caught stealing after singling home Lockert, who in turn had tripled home Will Ojeda and that guy’s leadoff single. The defense helped him stave off some **** in the next few innings, but the bottom 4th saw the usual meltdown. Monroe single, Young single, walk to Valenzuela – three on, no outs, and some teams could be a genuine danger in that spot. Ah, this was the Loggers! Yet, this was also Tom ****ing Scumbag. He walked Parten in a full count, 3-0, then allowed an RBI single to Palomo. Ojeda poked at a 3-1 pitch and hit it back to Shumway, who got the out at home, but no more, yet Perkins speared a ball that Lockert spiked at him and turned it for a 5-3 double play. Somehow, Shumway’s fungi-beset carcass was dragged through six innings with, shall we say, halfway-normal damage, but at the same time the Coons had been completely blocked out by Palomo, who was pitching a 3-hitter and yet to let a Critter put his filthy hindpaw on third base, and why stop there? Palomo ran out of steam after eight innings. Joe West retired Ramos to begin the ninth, allowed a pinch-hit single to James, and then wrapped up the whole damn thing with a convenient 4-6-3 grounder by Jimmy Wallace. 4-0 Loggers. James (PH) 1-1;

By Wednesday, the Loggers knew that Casique was headed for Tommy John surgery, removing him from the equation for the time being.

Also, Maud called me in Milwaukee and demanded to know whether I had actually ordered express delivery of a piano. I calmed her down and explained how I knew what I was doing and also exactly where to hang it.

Game 3
POR: 1B Zitzner – SS Stalker – 3B Perkins – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – CF Braun – 2B Marsingill – C James – P Gurney
MIL: CF W. Ojeda – SS Lockert – 2B W. Morris – LF D.J. Mendez – 1B M. Monroe – RF Valenzuela – C Dehne – 3B Sessoms – P Colmenarez

Will Ojeda did a good job of tearing Gurney a new one in the early innings. He hit a leadoff triple and scored on a Morris single in the first, then found two in scoring position with two outs in the second and casually singled them in, 3-0. While Gurney got a bit better after that – Ojeda did not come up again until the fifth, and then was part of a 1-2-3 inning – the Critters still weren’t in a position to do much of anything. They had two base hits through five innings, including one single hit by makeshift leadoff man Travis Zitzner, spelling Ramos, who got an early off day in his struggles and this 20-day string o’ games (this being only game #6). D.J. Mendez hit a leadoff single in the sixth, but was doubled off by Monroe and Gurney had another 3-man inning. Too bad the damage was already on the board… On to the seventh where Jimmy Wallace hit a 1-out double to left, which was already the most offense they had generated for two nights in a row. Rodriguez flew out to center, moving Wallace to third, and Braun grounded up the middle. Lockert cut it off, but not in time – Braun reached first base just barely safe, and Wallace scored the Coons’ first run and the third run in this series. Gurney lasted an ultimately decent seven, then was hit for by Berto, who singled. And the Coons were zoning in on Colmenarez in the eighth. Zitzner hit a deep fly to right, but was caught for the second out. Stalker dropped a single, putting the tying runs on the corners for Justin Perkins. He fell to 1-2 as it began to drizzle… then fired a drive to deep center… Ojeda after it… and… he caught it. Portland stranded Ojeda at second between Anaya and Hennessy in the bottom 8th, then got a leadoff single from Wallace off George Barnett in the ninth, and then a rain delay of some 20 minutes. When play resumed, Braun drew a 1-out walk, bringing up the go-ahead run in … well, not Marsingill. Bring on Howden! If you gotta lose, lose with your biggest swine! He fell to 1-2, then poked a single over Aaron Sessoms at third base to load them up for James, and it was James, who hit into that already anticipated game-ending, soul-murdering double play… 3-1 Loggers. Wallace 2-4, 2B; Howden (PH) 1-1; Ramos (PH) 1-1;

We need more pianos.

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – CF Pinkerton – 2B Marsingill – C Wool – P del Rio
MIL: CF Valenzuela – SS Sessoms – 2B W. Morris – LF D.J. Mendez – RF Stephenson – C J. Young – 1B M. Monroe – 3B Lockert – P Weeks

With Alfredo Casique out of the picture, the Coons got to face southpaw Josh Weeks (0-7, 5.16 ERA) on short rest, and he literally not won a single one of his 11 starts this year. There was no excuse for not splitting the series with a win! Of course, del Rio also had to hold up; he retired the Loggers in order in the first, then conceded two infield singles in the second, but did not end up snake-bitten like all the Critters’ hurlers always did when Monroe grounded out to Marsingill. In turn, del Rio bunted badly to force out Josh Wool in the top 3rd, then had to run the bases instead. Ramos grounded out for the second out, but Perkins walked and Zitzner singled to center. Del Rio went running, but the Loggers kicked the ball around the outfield and infield long enough to allow the pitcher across and Perkins to third base. Wallace grounded out to strand a pair.

But even with that 1-0 lead Ignacio did reasonably well, despite a leadoff walk to Morris in the fourth. Mendez hit a ball sharply at Zitzner, who pounced and fired to Ramos, who had time to fire back for a 3-6-3 double play. Zitzner also hit a sac fly to score Berto in the fifth, extending the lead to 2-0 with that Ramos Special; Berto had stolen third base in this inning to set up the sac fly in the first place. The Loggers went to the corners in the bottom 5th on two soft 2-out singles by Lockert and Weeks (grumble), but Valenzuela popped out foul to let del Rio off the hook. Top 6th, leadoff walk drawn by Rodriguez, and Pinkerton got nailed. Marsingill fell to 1-2, but poked a ball into left for a single. Wilson didn’t feel like stopping at third base and made for home, sliding in barely safe with the team’s third run, while the trailing runners advanced on the throw. Also – there was still nobody out. Time to crack it open, and with that I meant Weeks’ numb skull! Josh Wool was walked intentionally to bring up the pitcher with three on and no outs. Ignacio unfortunately poked at a 3-1 pitch and grounded to Sessoms, who fired home to force out a confused Preston Pinkerton. Ramos hit a sac fly, 4-0, but that was it, with Perkins out whiffing. Weeks was assured his 12th non-win in 12 attempts this year when he was removed after six, with the Critters setting up camp on the corners, and Loggers righty John Nelson got a double play from Wool, but at least that got another run home, 5-0. Ignacio hit for himself, because there was no reason to remove him, and retired the bottom and very top of the order in order in the eighth, and after Portland put on two more in the ninth with Perkins doubling home Ramos and scoring on a Rodriguez single, del Rio went back out on 87 pitches to defend his 4-hitter against the 2-3-4 batters. Sessoms grounded out to Marsingill, who also handled Morris’ pop. Mendez grounded up the middle, Ramos over, throw to first – out! 7-0 Furballs!! Perkins 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Rodriguez 2-5, RBI; Pinkerton 1-2; Marsingill 3-4, RBI; del Rio 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, W (5-4);

Second career shutout for Ignacio del Rio, and they came almost exactly one month after each other!

Raccoons (23-36) vs. Pacifics (40-20) – June 11-13, 2032

Good thing del Rio had spun that shutout, because we had three days of pain ahead of us. The Pacifics came in with the second-most runs scored, third-fewest runs allowed, and were also second in rotation and bullpen ERA. Second in batting average, first in homers, fourth in defense. Oh, and this – they came in with an active winning streak of FOURTEEN games. And we had also already lost the series to them last year, and two years ago, and four years ago…

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (3-6, 5.06 ERA) vs. Abramo Archibugi (6-4, 3.08 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (2-4, 6.71 ERA) vs. Dave Christiansen (10-2, 2.39 ERA)
Tom Shumway (2-7, 7.96 ERA) vs. Greg Gannon (3-5, 4.99 ERA)

With the two southpaws to start this series, the Raccoons would face four left-handers in a row. Oh well, it didn’t hurt us yesterday, did it? I am so calm.

What is it, Maud? – Nick Valdes is here? – And Toots, too?

Game 1
LAP: RF O. Mendoza – SS M. Martin – CF Fowler – 1B Kopp – 3B Schmit – 2B Menth – C T. Perez – LF Denzler – P Archibugi
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – 2B Stalker – CF Braun – LF Hall – C James – P Gutierrez

Oscar Mendoza doubled, Mike Martin singled him home, and Valdes was already grumpy at that point before the 3-4-5 batters all grounded out to Ramos, including ex-Critter Terry Kopp, who came in at .307 with 13 homers and 33 RBI and hoped to add more over our dead bodies. He hit a mighty deep drive with Justin Fowler (18 homers and hungry) on first base and two outs in the third inning that Adam Braun only caught because we were playing extra deep to begin with… The Coons had two hits, but no runs the first time through, trailing 1-0 after three. Valdes scoffed when Ramos struck out to end the bottom 3rd, sniping that we needed better batters. Slappy on the couch said nothing, but Cristiano Carmona chimed in and asked Valdes directly whether he had ever played the game, which Valdes negated, and then countered by asking Cristiano, who had been in a wheelchair from birth (number of wheels varying): “No. Have you?”

While the mood was frosty and Tootsie, the ever-scheming daughter of industrial magnate Roger Hotchkiss “Bud” DeVilane II, kept whispering into Valdes’ ear, which only seemed to make him angrier, Rico Gutierrez somehow held on to a decent line and didn’t allow any more runs through five innings. The Pacifics reached the corners in the fourth, but we walked Joel Denzler with intent and Archibugi made the third out in centerfield. Mike Martin reached base with a 1-out single in the fifth, but was picked off by Gutierrez. All of a sudden – the Coons twitched. Stalker led off the bottom 5th with a double to left, putting the tying run in scoring position, and then they actually drove him in, too! Adam Braun was it even, doubling into the left-center gap to tie the game at one! Valdes enthusiastically clapped his hands and pointed out to Tootsie that those were the players he had so wisely assembled. I said nothing and tried to get some pills I had nipped from the bag dangling from the rear of Cristiano’s seat to dissolve in my Old Ranger whiskey – that’s right, no Capt’n Coma. Nick Valdes hates it when we don’t use the products of our sponsors. Never mind that this doesn’t have half the spin of the Capt’n. The Coons took the lead on a wild pitch eventually, which was extremely unexpected and nobody quite knew how to react, except for Valdes, who grumbled that the go-ahead run should be plated with the stick and why weren’t they doing it. Cristiano poked him again, asking him whether he ever felt the urge to jump up for joy. Valdes turned around again, eyes flickering, and asked him: “No. Do you?”

While I was really cold in this atmosphere, and this Old Ranger **** wasn’t warming me up either, Gutierrez gave the lead away in the sixth, which surprised nobody. Kopp drew the leadoff walk, Dave Menth doubled, and Tony Perez hit a sac fly. Gutierrez barely got out of the inning after a walk to Denzler, getting Archibugi to roll one over to first. Top 7th, Jared Stone allowed a leadoff double to PH Jeremy Houghtaling, but then got two tough outs from Martin and Fowler. Garavito replaced him to ring up Kopp, stranding the former dumb Elk at third base. More stingy relief by Garavito and Wise extended the game into extras, while the Critters just couldn’t lift their bats. When the game ran long and into overtime, this drew more lamentations from Nick Valdes, who had hoped to catch a cockfight on the other end of town after the game. Toots tickled his ear to calm him down and then asked whether he wanted her to peel a banana, to which he nodded, prompting another remark from Cristiano, whether it was hard to be a multimillionaire miser. Valdes spun around and began to thunder that he was a *billionaire* miser, but Toots calmed him down with more gross ear touching and fluted to let her handle the matter. She then started at Cristiano with the iciest glare I had seen in a while and told him that this would stop NOW. Cristiano shook his head, saying he didn’t think so, and that Valdes was too easy a target to stop. Toots said nothing, but clicked the fingers on her left hand. A second later the right rear wheel of Cristiano’s wheelchair separated from the rest of the vehicle and sent him crashing to the floor.

While Slappy actually *moved* and carried a moaning Cristiano to the trainer’s room (well, he dragged him by one of his numb feet…), I sat there with my eyebrows raised. That had been the most amazing thing I had ever seen! Could she do this to opposing pitchers, too?? Well, she definitely wasn’t helping Raccoons hitters… they got Ramos and Perkins on base against Seth Odum with 2-out singles in the 11th, but Zitzner flew out ****tily. Nick Bates briefly appeared in the top 12th, but only to walk the bases full. Hennessy replaced him with one out, got a comebacker for an out at home from Terry Kopp, then rung up Schmit. Chun-yeong Chah walked Braun and Hall with two outs in the bottom 12th, but James grounded out pathetically. The game dragged on senselessly into the 14th inning, when the Raccoons sent their final reliever, Anaya. That was it – we had nobody else. After Anaya, it would be Sabre and plenty of roster moves. Stalker hit a double off Jorge Villegas jr. in the bottom 14th, but with two outs, and… Adam Braun popped out on the first pitch. The tie was broken in the 15th… and not by the Coons. Schmit and Ben Cook went to the corners with 1-out singles off Anaya, and Tony Perez hit a sac fly to give them the lead. Bottom of the inning, Nate Hall reached base leading off with an infield single against Villegas. James flew out to left. Wool hit for Anaya and popped out foul. Ramos rolled over to short. 3-2 Pacifics. Perkins 2-6; Stalker 3-6, 2 2B; Fernandez 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Hennessy 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

No, Nick, it’s not my fault that the cockfights are all over now!

Also, never mind that Houghtaling hasn’t been an Elk since the 2023 season. He will always remain a damn Elk!

At least the pen was still somewhat *okay*…? Good thing they had all had the day off on Thursday… Now, a deep run by Sabre would help……..

Game 2
LAP: RF O. Mendoza – 1B Kopp – CF Fowler – C Henley – 2B Menth – 3B Schmit – SS Cook – LF Denzler – P Christiansen
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Perkins – 1B Zitzner – RF Rodriguez – 2B Stalker – LF Braun – CF Pinkerton – C Wool – P Sabre

Perkins and Zitzner hit singles in the bottom 1st but Christiansen rung up the next two to end the inning, then was staked to a 1-0 lead on J.J. “Hopalong” Henley’s leadoff jack in the second. Perhaps worse, Christiansen hit a leadoff double over Braun in the third inning… He advanced on a Mendoza groundout, then had to hold on a shallow fly out by Kopp. Fowler crushed a liner to left, but Perkins threw himself at it and wrapped his glove around it for the third out … but shook his paw on the way back to the dugout. That one had been spicy hot!

Nick Valdes was of course grumbling about everything the team did, but this time Cristiano wasn’t around. The Druid had prescribed him three days of rest at home, and had shown Gustaf (who had worn *shorts*, but no shirt), how to treat his bruised arm with an extract won from crushing a red-spotted flying beetle from Peru with a wooden instrument, when he had been called in at 2am in the morning to pick up Cristiano with the pink, spare wheelchair. Slappy had assured anybody that he’d repair the other one – we’d never see that one again, I was sure.

Bottom 3rd, Ramos and Perkins with 1-out singles – maybe now some offense? Christiansen didn’t want to give Zitzner anything fat, but walked him, giving Rodriguez the plate with three on. Then he erased Wilson from the record book with three surgical strikes. Stalker lined out to Kopp, stranding all the precious runners. Dave Menth hit a triple in the fourth and scored on Schmit’s groundout, 2-0, then threw away a 2-out roller by Sabre in the bottom of the inning, placing the entire battery in scoring position for Ramos, who flew out easily to Denzler. Come the fifth, Denzler led off with a single and Christiansen bunted. Zitzner picked up the ball, threw it past Stalker, and that 2-base error also put two Pacifics in scoring position, but with NO outs, and now the Coons knew they had lost. Mendoza hit a sac fly, and Fowler plated the pitcher with a 2-out single, extending the gap to 4-0. Wilson Rodriguez unhelpfully tripled with nobody on and two outs in the bottom 5th, and was left on when Stalker popped out. I turned over to Valdes and Toots and asked them whether they planned to do anything *nice* later on. Both glared at me and I felt a tug in my neck as if my main artery was trying to jump out of my body… very weird…!

Sabre lasted five and a third, which could have been so much worse. Garavito and Bates kept the Pacifics at bay for the time being, before the bottom 7th saw a leadoff walk drawn by Nate Hall after entering in a double switch into the #9 spot (Pinkerton was gone). Ramos doubled him in, getting Portland on the board, and then Andy Schmit unleashed a horrendous errant throw on Perkins’ grounder, the third 2-base throwing error of the game. That one actually brought up the tying run with nobody out in Zitzner, who grounded out, then Rodriguez, who flew to left, deep, deep, no, at the fence, Denzler ha- DROPPED IT!! He caught it right at the fence, then lost it, and that gave Rodriguez an RBI double! Tying run in scoring position! Stalker was now the *go-ahead* run, but grounded out, shifting Wilson to third base. Braun walked, and that knocked out both pitchers. Joe Moore entered for L.A., which sent Jimmy Wallace to the plate for Bates … and he popped out to Mendoza in shallow right. (deflates) Nothing good happened in the eighth. The ninth pitted the right-hander Villegas against the 2-3-4 batters. Howden hit a 1-out single in place of Zitzner, and with two outs Stalker was hit by an 0-2 offering, putting the winning run on base for Adam Braun. … who struck out. 4-3 Pacifics. Ramos 2-5, 2B, RBI; Perkins 2-5; Howden (PH) 1-1; Rodriguez 2-5, 3B, 2B, RBI;

The good news was, we were at least on national TV as the Pacifics ran the streak to 16.

Also, Valdes and Tootsie left on Saturday night, having to attend the closing and detonation of a 120-year-old church in Mississippi for redevelopment into a shopping center right after service on Sunday morning.

Game 3
LAP: RF O. Mendoza – SS M. Martin – CF Fowler – C Henley – 3B Schmit – 1B Serrano – 2B Cook – LF Denzler – P Gannon
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Wallace – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – CF Braun – C James – 3B Marsingill – P Shumway

Mendoza opened the game with a 407-footer to right-center, and I opened another bottle o’ Capt’n Coma. Martin tripled and Henley walked, yet somehow the Pacifics couldn’t get that second run across. It was defense, and absolutely nothing that Tom Scumbag did. Nevertheless, it was 3-0 after two innings, with Danny Serrano and Ben Cook being singled in by GANNON in the second. Now, Gannon actually blew that lead in the bottom of the inning; leadoff walk to Howden, single by James, then a gap double for one run by Marsingill. Shumway struck out with the tying runs in scoring position, but Berto ran a hitting streak to 12 games with a game-tying single to center, then was caught stealing. The Coons shrugged and took the lead an inning later. Stalker now drew the leadoff walk, then scored on singles by Rodriguez (to center) and Howden (to left). There was actually some life in the park for the first time in weeks when Stalker crossed home plate and it was officially 4-3 Critters, but perhaps the Pacifics were just still a good draw after the 2026 World Series against them. And Gannon had nothing. Braun hit an RBI single, 5-3, and then James hit a ball right at Ben Cook for an inning-ending two-for-one, but neither starter looked like he belonged. Speaking of which, the fourth inning saw Tom Scumbag give up 2-out singles to Denzler and ****ing Greg Gannon, then plated Denzler with a wild pitch before Stalker had to do the hard work to contain a Mendoza rocket to keep the team up 5-4. More Capt’n!

Bottom 5th, both starters somehow still alive. Wallace and Rodriguez reached to begin the inning, with Howden, the dumb pig, hitting into a fielder’s choice. Braun dropped a roller near the mound, Gannon had to look back Wallace, then couldn’t get Braun anymore – infield single, bases loaded with one out for James, who hit a sac fly to center, which remained the only run in the inning, with Marsingill rolling out to Andy Schmit, who then hit a leadoff double in the sixth that knocked out Shumway, finally. Hennessy fought like a lioness protecting her cubs and kept the runner stranded, and the Pacifics got two on against Garavito and Anaya in the seventh, but Fowler spanked into an inning-ending double play. In turn, southpaw Jinten Kaneshiro got torn up. Wallace with the leadoff double off the wall, causing a roar in the stadium, and Rodriguez singled to get them to the corners. Howden hit a sac fly, y’know, meh, with Braun chipping another single. We wanted no piece of Giovanni James in a double play spot, and sent Zitzner instead. Zitzner lined an RBI single, getting the lead up to a slam. Marsingill’s single loaded the bases, and here the Coons did NOT bat for Victor Anaya. The pen had been beleaguered hard in the last few days (Garavito had pitched in all three games in the set f.e.), but Anaya had some breath left and needed to get a couple of the six missing outs before handing it off to Wise, who had pitched on Friday, but not on Saturday. Anaya batted for himself with three on and one out, whiffed, but that was FINE. Ramos lined out to Cook, stranding all runners. So of course Anaya was shredded for three base hits and a run in the eighth, starting with a Henley double, and ending with a 2-out RBI single by Denzler. Wise came in with runners on the corners and lefty PH Dave Menth at the plate – and rung him up! The Coons wouldn’t get a run off Odum in the bottom 8th. Wise came back to face the top of the order, with Mendoza landing a leadoff single in a full count. Martin grounded to short, Ramos, to Stalker, but the play was broken up in aggro fashion by Mendoza, with Stalker losing his cap in the collision and then slapping Mendoza’s hat of the corresponding noggin’. Ramos and the ump stepped in between before things could get ugly, but the crowd liked it, and me and Honeypaws and the Capt’n also liked it! Justin Fowler, who had done NOTHING the entire series, whiffed, falling to 2-for-15 in the set. Then Henley singled up the middle at 1-2, bringing up Schmit as the tying run. The count ran full, Wise was over 30 pitches, came inside, and Schmit turned on the 3-2. A 410-foot drive, and well outta here, and a tied ballgame. Numb. Numb. I was nothing but numb anymore. The ballpark was silent. Everybody was numb. Even the Capt’n looked numb on the half-empty bottle. The Raccoons did nothing in the bottom 9th. Extras saw Nick Bates somehow survive an inning pitching for the third straight day. After that, David Fernandez pitched basically until his arm fell off, also on the third straight day, two innings, and allowed a 2-out, 2-run single to Denzler in the second frame, the 12th in total. Bottom 12th. Joe Moore pitching for L.A.; Braun grounded out to second. Wool with the pop to third. Marsingill – triple into the gap in right-center. Pinkerton was the last man on the bench and hit for Fernandez… and lined out to Schmit, the ****ing ********. 10-8 Pacifics. Wallace 2-5, BB, 2B; Rodriguez 2-5, BB; Braun 3-6, RBI; James 1-2, RBI; Zitzner (PH) 1-1, RBI; Marsingill 3-5, 3B, 2B, RBI; Perkins (PH) 1-1;

In other news

June 9 – SFB RF Ben Suhay (.275, 9 HR, 24 RBI) has hit in 20 straight games with his first-inning single against the Falcons. The Bayhawks win, 8-3.
June 9 – LVA SP Ismael Gutierrez (2-6, 4.22 ERA) would miss a full year to repair and rehab a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
June 10 – The hitting streak of Ben Suhay (.269, 9 HR, 24 RBI) is already over. The 29-year-old Bayhawk is held dry in a 5-1 loss to the Falcons, stopping him at 20 games.
June 12 – ATL C/1B Steve Garcia (.281, 3 HR, 28 RBI) has a 20-game hitting streak following a home run off RIC SP Guillermo Regalado (4-3, 5.00 ERA) in the Knights’ 5-3 loss to the Rebels.
June 12 – Jim “Mastodon” Allen (.319, 8 HR, 36 RBI) will miss the next month’s worth of games. The 26-year-old Nashville third baseman is out with a broken thumb.

Complaints and stuff

Thanks to my efforts this week, we have a new sponsor in Schwanenstein – Fine Classical Instruments, and the ballpark is now full of death traps for players that don’t deserve better. Just wait until one of the automated piccolo flute guns goes off. That would be some spectacle!

Ignacio del Rio’s second career shutout was undoubtedly the highlight of the week. Well, there’s no magic involved in shutting out the Loggers normally. Just ask Rico Gutierrez, who’s done it five times.

Next week, Blue Sox and Indians on a new Midwest trip. And, well, for me a trip to New York to attend the Amateur Draft. That will be on Tuesday. But, after that Sunday game, what I really want to do, to be honest, is sleep. For … one-hundred years.

Fun Fact: Only once have the Raccoons finished a season with the current .371 clip or worse, in 1979, when they lost 107 games for a .340 win percentage.

That team was ghastly. Ben Simon and Pedro Sánz were the only qualifying batters with OPS over .700 (Simon actually with an .862 mark, .289 average, 28 homers, 94 RBI). Daniel Hall also had a decent .784 OPS, but was up and down early in the season and did not qualify, playing in only 99 games.

That appalling lack of offense (596 runs scored…) didn’t gel well with the fact that the starting pitchers that did not keel over were atrocious. “Old Chris” Powell went 13-15 with a 4.08 ERA. Jerry Morris was 10-12 with a 5.04 ERA. Berrios 4.61, Ned Ray 5.19… Logan Evans emerged with a 2.22 ERA in 12 starts (only to never reach that mark again), and one of the bright spots in the pen was Wally Gaston, who walked more batters than he struck out (but so did Morris, Berrios, and Evans…).

Fun times. 107 losses. The only Coons team to lose more than 99.

So far.
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ayaghmour2 (08-27-2019)
Old 08-30-2019, 07:17 PM   #2960
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I hate it when the draft falls into the middle of the week. Basically, in three days I haven’t been able to work my around this draft week, and instead of waiting til tomorrow to finish the week’s games, here shall be the draft, which takes place on Tuesday, *after* two games against the Blue Sox.

I know I suck, no need for you to say it.


+++

2032 AMATEUR DRAFT

The draft began with me resting my head face down on the table, next to my scout. I trusted him to puff me when our spot came up. But I needed a moment with myself.

And here is a repeat of that good ol’ hotlist, though not as hot as we’d like it to be… (* indicates high school player; ^ indicates SP with only two promising pitches):

SP Brandon Williams (13/12/12) * - BNN #4
SP Joe Feltman (12/13/10) – BNN #7

SP^ Damon DeOrio (12/14/12) *
SP^ Tariq Staggers (10/15/12) * - BNN #10

3B/2B Dusty Mahaney (9/10/10)
1B Justin Hatcher (8/11/11)

OF/2B Justin Nelson (10/12/11)
OF Mike Dahl (9/10/9)
OF Ryan Phillips (10/8/16) *

The draft began with the Aces, who had given their best to lose the very most games in 2031 and thus had the first selection. They made that Justin Nelson, who had also been a firm candidate for my first selection, but what did it all matter after all… the next two picks were pitchers, SP Ryan Bedrosian to the Rebels and SP Joe Feltman to the Falcons. The damn Elks then took Ryan Phillips at #4, and with the Blue Sox’ pick of Mike Dahl at #5, all outfielders from the hotlist were gone already.

Pick #6 was 1B Geoff Lark by the Cyclones, which was a bit of a surprise to us given how he not only wasn’t on our hotlist, he wasn’t even on the shortlist …! The same thing happened with the #8 pick, outfielder Jessie Vaughn to the Gold Sox. He also was not even on the shortlist. In between another outfielder, Gary Souza, had been picked by Sacramento, and with that, the Coons were up and I got puffed. Without much hesitation we went straight for Brandon Williams. There was not much not to like about him, and this was an easy pick. (We’ll talk in four or five years about whether it was a good pick, or whether we should have used more than 1% of our five minutes’ allotment on this first-round pick…)

As far as the hotlist was concerned, four players remained on it after our premier selection. Of those, Damon DeOrio was taken #15 by the Indians. The Knights took Tariq Staggers with the next pick after that, but the others were left for our supplemental round pick (compensation for the loss of Rich Hereford). I saw potential for a Matt Nunley sort of player in Dusty Mahaney, so we went there over the one-dimensional Justin Hatcher. Have we EVER drafted a useful first baseman?

Will we this time? Maybe we should have taken it as a sign, but Hatcher remained available until the Raccoons were no deck again. I bet the other 23 teams had found out something that we had missed, like him doing drugs, or drowning kittens in a barrel for enjoyment. But it didn’t help, we didn’t know who else to draft at this point, either…

+++

2032 PORTLAND RACCOONS DRAFT CLASS

Round 1 (#9) – SP Brandon Williams, 19, from Soledad, CA – left-hander with groundball tendency, a rich mix of pitches and goodish projections for stuff, movement, and control. Hardly anything here that looked like it was working against him. I am sure we can beat the laziness out of him, too.
Supp. Round (#28) – 3B/2B Dusty Mahaney, 20, from Boulder Hill, IL – good defensive third baseman with a contact bat and some power potential. May or may not be a Matt Nunley nostalgia signing.
Round 2 (#50) – 1B Justin Hatcher, 21, from Sanford, ME – stereotypical first baseman’s profile, not fleet of foot, not agile, not a high-average hitter, but with a solid dose of thump.
Round 3 (#74) – OF/2B Cory Cronk, 18, from Jacksonville Beach, FL – quirky, quick, and agile player with a contact bat and good plate discipline, but not so much in terms of power.
Round 4 (#98) – OF Jonathan Bearden, 20, from Washington, DC – good defensive outfielder with a solid contact bat, but not much in terms of power. Can run like all hell though.
Round 5 (#122) – SP Drew Byrd, 19, from Woodhaven, MI – 91mph fastball, sinker, curve, and some serious control woes, but at least he’s still a young right-hander. Stamina is rather low, which is probably also not going to be helped with age.
Round 6 (#146) – MR Sean Shortall, 20, from Dana Point, CA – fastball, slider for this right-hander, who could become much more interesting with a third pitch…
Round 7 (#170) – C Jeremy Larson, 20, from Commack, NY – looking for anything remarkable about this kid, but I can’t find anything except that he might be the slowest catcher in the history of catchers. A dead duck would out-run him to first base. Nice arm behind the plate though, and not a too terrible hitting profile.
Round 8 (#194) – INF Gabe Tyler, 17, from Compton, CA – grew up in sort of a bad corner, which is why he has a good throwing arm and won’t take **** from anybody, including his GM. Not very fast, but can make good contact. Also has lewd tattoos, I hear.
Round 9 (#218) – CL Scott Milano, 21, from Aloha, OR – right-hander with a 92mph fastball and a decent curve, but the heater is also dead straight, and he might maybe make for a closer in Sunday-after-Church League.
Round 10 (#242) – 2B/LF/RF Pete Wallace, 17, from Upper St. Clair, PA – defensively, he is a bit of a horror show; at the plate he is mostly a singles slapper; and in the clubhouse, he shines with a big mouth.
Round 11 (#266) – MR Matt Westberg, 20, from Orinda, CA – this year’s Nick Brown Memorial Pick has a fastball/slider combo, decent stamina, and otherwise he’s rather bland, but then again Nick Brown’s draft report also read “lefty with a slider” and little else.
Round 12 (#290) – 1B Justin Julien, 19, from Long Beach, CA – originally we weren’t going to draft another first baseman, or lazy bum, or California beach boy, but there is some power potential here and we’d like to see a bit of him never hitting a homer in Aumsville…
Round 13 (#314) – SS John Martin, 18, from Picnic Point-North Lynnwood, WA – his birthplace is a mouthful, and he’s a bit of a woodchuck at short, too; but he has also pitched for his high school team and we’ll try to turn him into a right-handed pitcher; throws a cutter and a curve, with control the most glaring deficit right now.

+++

We also made some room throughout the system. Nobody of particular importance was culled right after the draft, but besides the odd scouting discovery and trash heap signing we also released a few late-round picks from previous year, like from the 2030 season, 1B Justin Cooper (10th round), INF Brady Hagstrom (12th round), and MR Dan Menz (13th round).

As an aside, the 2030 Nick Brown Memorial Pick, Jon Hass, was not released, but rather promoted to Ham Lake. As was last year’s #15 pick, Will Luna, joining Manny Fernandez, the #5 pick, who had already been moved there a week earlier.

We currently have on average more than 30 players per minor league level, so a bit more trimming will be necessary further down the road.
__________________
Portland Raccoons, 55 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 : 46 SAITO

Resident Mets Cynic



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