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Old 07-05-2012, 05:05 PM   #41
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Jorge Romero was diagnosed once we were back in Portland. He had a torn labrum and was out for four months, give or take a week, with a rehab assignment that was September, so his season was about over.

As was the Raccoons season as a hole. At 7-14, they were already bad, and without the ace of the staff, and Evans, who had led the league in ERA(!), it was over. Berrios was slotted to #1 and Powell to #2 in the rotation. Ned Ray was called up to do mopup duties, that was the third lefty in the pen, but on April 26, I was already way past giving a crap.

The Raccoons started the Loggers series with a 5-2 loss, then scored four in the first inning in game 2. Of course, this was not enough for Powell, who made his first start of the season and was tagged for five over 4.2 innings by the least-scoring team in the CL. (The second-least scoring team? The Raccoons of course) The Raccoons lost that one 5-4 with scoring stopping there. Angel Costa was down to the last strike in the bottom 9th but singled to keep his 18-game hitting streak alive, but Sullivan grounded out to end it. Ocasio got five runs of support by the third inning, but his game was as shameful as it could be. In three plus innings he threw two wild ones and hit THREE batters. I tossed him outta there, but Baker found no way out of the inning either with the bases loaded, nobody out and one already across. Hatfield to the rescue it was 5-5 after 3 1/2 innings. He went four innings but took the 7-5 loss.

Eight losses in a row now. We had owned the Loggers to the tune of 22-14 the last two years, now we were 0-5 against them. April 30. Time to clean house. Roman Ocasio (0-1, 8.00), Bill Baker (0-1, 7.56 from the pen), Johan Dolder (.158 with nothing scoreable), and – with tears in my eye – Daniel Hall (.143, 0 HR, 13 RBI) were sent to AAA ball. Hall actually had the second-most RBI on the team, but he initially had batted behind Costa and then Sánz and Johnston, all batting around .300, so that might have kept his ribbies up. Anyway, I can not keep somebody whose batting is that far off. He had actually more walks than hits.

Two AAA relievers were called up and not the usual choices of Vazquez and Coleman. I turned to Frank O’Rearden, a lefty, and Bill Craig, a righty. O’Rearden had been projected to be a closer, but didn’t have the stuff, but he was able to keep his numbers in the green zone in AAA. Craig was average throughout, I didn’t expect a lot but to eat an inning or two here or there and stay below four with his ERA. Craig was a short term replacement before I could dig out another starter. Until then, guys like Ben Jenkins or Brett Justice would have to start games. Or (twitch) Ned Ray. I called up Ben Cox as well. He had been acquired in the off season and had been projected as a strong hitter. By now he had been rated down a bunch. The other callup was Alberto Salgado, a first baseman, solid at the plate. He would pinch hit only, since Johnston was too valuable to bench. Salgado was 28 and had no options. In case he refused a demotion back to AAA I would happily fire him – not much to lose there.

Robby Davis moved to leadoff in LF, Flores was benched as well for batting a mile below .200 … I’d give Cox a few starts over Pickett to check out his abilities in the field and at the plate. CF was his worst outfield position, but still solid.

The Canadiens came to town. We lost 6-1 in the first game on three homers of Jerry Morris, whose acquisition by now was officially considered a mistake. Cox debuted 2-3 but was caught stealing, Salgado flew out in a pinch hit appearance, and Craig pitched the ninth with an unearned run that scored on a ball thrown away by Maloney. Agony. 5-0 up after one inning in game 2, the Raccoons had their lead slowly chipped away by bad pitching. Gaston entered in a 2-run save situation, blew it in the ninth and lost it in the tenth, walking four. Downed 7-6, and Powell coming up. Neither team landed any big hits during the regular distance. Powell pitched eight scoreless, but the defense bailed him out here and there. The Raccoons walked off with a 1-0 win in the 11th inning. Cox and Flores singled and double stole, forcing an intentional walk to Costa to set up a big play. Sullivan bashed one to center and Cox tagged to score. Lopez was the winning pitcher after going three scoreless himself.

8-19 record, how sweet. With interleague play upon us, we first had to chew through the offensively challenged Buffaloes, and then go against the defending champions Warriors.

Ned Ray had somehow made his way back to the rotation after the injuries that had befallen the more deserving players. He started game 1 against the Buffaloes. Will it surprise anyone that the game was a loss? The Raccoons led twice, but Ray always found ways to get into trouble, he did not K anyone, and one run scored on a wild pitch. Raccoons lost 4-2 after getting nothing out of a bases loaded-nobody out top 7th, when the game was still tied.

More desperate moves. Robby Davis (batting 1-18) was benched for Rob Pickett (0-7 as PH, but .241 overall). Pickett led off instead of a cooled down Costa, who had stopped hitting altogether after his hitting streak had ended at 19 the week before. Pickett responded immediately with a 3-6 day as the Raccoons took off with a 4-run second to give Jerry Morris his first win as a Raccoon in the 6-3 victory. Gaston actually managed to save one successfully. Albert Salgado got his first ABL hit and Frank O’Rearden got his first pair of K’s in. Game 3 was a 5-3 loss on the bullpen, allowing four runs in the bottom 8th with Jenkins, Hatfield, and Justice involved. Rob Pickett was injured and would be out for about six weeks. Of course he would, he was remotely playing okay the last two games. Pickett went to the DL when diagnosed during the next series and Dolder was recalled for necessity of defense, although he had not deserved it at all.

Pedro Sánz was injured in the first Warriors game and was day to day with an aching neck. It was certainly no surprise the Raccoons were whipped cleanly by the defending champions, who led their division again, and lost 4-0, 7-5 (in 14 innings), and 6-1. The middle loss was especially nerve wrecking. The Raccoons offense gave Ned Ray a 4-0 lead after two innings that Ray managed to give up through a grand slam.

What a terrible team, and crippled through the losses of Romero, Evans, Pickett, and Zuniga. Next up road trip to the east coast for the Titans and Crusaders, then for the rest of the month games against the CL South Knights, Bayhawks, Condors, and Aces. The Condors are the only team of ten played against that the Raccoons posted a winning record against so far, 3-0. A 2-2 tie against the Indians, and then nothing but losses.

In other news:
May 3 – Rebels LF Conrad Hamilton goes 5-6 with 8 TB and 2 RBI against the Miners in a 15-10 win. He only misses a home run for the cycle.
May 5 – The Blue Sox’ David Hicks is hitting .391 and now has a streak of 20 consecutive games with a hit.
May 5 – The Bayhawks lose their starter Walt McCorkindale for the season with a torn labrum. McCorkindale had entered the season 24-24, but had gone 2-5 with an ERA over six so far.
May 8 – Michael Ball, a starter that the Raccoons were after repeatedly, is traded from the Gold Sox to the Capitals for infielder Alberto Beltre.
May 8 – The Thunder end the hit streak of Hicks at 21.

Raccoons have lost 15 of their last 17. Don’t look at the standings. It’s an ugly sight.
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Old 07-06-2012, 09:40 PM   #42
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We entered the Titans series by posting a lineup with five players batting under .230, and four under .200 (and the pitcher Berrios was not included in the latter figure). Of course it didn’t work out. No key hits, no luck, nothing. Berrios gave up runs at a consistent pace for a 4-2 loss.

Ben Cox had started batting well, but had hit the .200 mark now coming from above. Well, then we can just play Dolder at #8 and we rather safe in defense. Cox had looked promising in the trade when we got him, but he was one of those 80% busts by now. I wish I could say something else against Daniel Hall. Dolder in turn immediately committed an error in the first game he was in the lineup. Sean Critch was sharp, the Titans were hitting, Christopher Powell sucked, as did the rest of the team, in a 7-1 loss. Sánz tripled in Sullivan already down to the final out in the top 9th. Two hits in total in the final game for the Raccoons went a 2-0 loss – and the next series sweep.

What to do with that miserable bunch of losers? There was no free agent on the market that could be even remotely useful. I could not trade for anybody since I had only suckers to offer. The AAA team was filled with the outcasts of the majors team. And we had a 9-27 record. (Pyth. Record was 12-24 by the way, so the team did actually suck and was not just unlucky. 12-24 was worst for the CL, and only the Pacifics were worse.)

The Crusaders were next, with the worst start they had put up so far, and 5th in the division. The Raccoons led twice in game 1 and Jerry Morris blew it both times. He was saddled with seven earned runs in four plus innings in the 7-4 loss. In both the third and fourth innings he loaded the bases with nobody out. His ERA was at 6.75 now. What a moron. And I had nobody to replace him in the rotation. Robby Davis in LF seemed to come around, going 2-4 with two RBI. Game 2 was a 7-1 loss on Berrios, who surrendered three homers and six earned runs. Total number of hits for the Raccoons: two. That was enough for Sánz to plate one, so there was at least one player on the team that was not completely worthless. Powell was one of those worthless slacks and lost another one, 5-2, to complete that sweep.

They have now lost ten in a row and 22 of 24 or something like that. I can’t count that far. Albert Salgado was waived and designated for assignment (but was claimed by the Gold Sox, I don’t care, he was batting .130-something, have fun with him, fits your last place team). Daniel Hall was batting .359 at AAA, and was hitting a home run every 8.0 at bats. Was he warmed up now? We’d see soon enough as he was called up again.

The Knights were next for us, and they were 20-20 and solid throughout. If I looked at the starters that were waiting for them, Ray, Morris, and Berrios, I was ready to admit defeat before the first pitch.

Yet it took them 12 innings to lose the opener of the series. Ray was fitted with a 4-1 lead which did not survive (of course). Gaston blew a new 5-4 lead in the top 9th, that guy is nowhere near his class from 1977/78. The Raccoons had runners in scoring position ready to walk off in both the 10th and 11th, but made embarassing outs, and the Knights slapped O’Rearden for three in the 12th to win 8-5. Hall had a hit, pinch hitting for the hapless .171 Robby Davis in the eighth and scored what was then the go-ahead run. 12 innings was also the distance the next day. We led 4-1 in the seventh with Morris in trouble. Justice was tasked with getting out two lefties. A hit and a homer later the game was tied. Jenkins lost it in the 12th, when we had Sullivan at SS and Cook at 2B because of some I-don’t-give-a-crap pinch hitting by me, however these two weren’t the problem. Cook even made a nice play in the 11th. Raccoons lost 6-5. Johnston was 4-5 with a walk. Hall was 1-6 without a walk.

Game 3 was one of those encounters of another kind. The Knights plated two early on a throwing error and led 2-0 in the fifth, where Berrios issued a leadoff walk. The next batter bunted and Lawson tried to get the out at second – fail. Next batter, next bunt, this time out to Berrios, who tried to make an out at third – fail. One run scored before Armando Delgado grouned into a double play that ended it for this turn. Top 6th. Two out, two on (first and second). A lame chopper down in front of Lawson who slings it to first – fail. I missed the rest of the game screaming into my cuddly pillow, but the Raccoons lost 5-3. I was also told that Daniel Hall hit a homer with two out in the ninth and that he was 2-5 with two RBI and about the least horrible of the bunch in this game.

The bunch had lost 13 in a row now and 25 of 27. And I am hurting.

The Bayhawks were next. Gustavo Zuniga was back and was immediately put in centerfield for Dolder. Ben Cox went back to AAA. The Bayhawks were 23-22 with the best offense and worst pitching in the CL .

At least the string of losses ended here. Game 1 starter Kinji Kan started sharp and K’ed seven Raccoons, but the Raccoons ultimately got the better of the Bayhawks and landed 20 hits in a 12-2 win. Every Raccoon with an at bat got at least one hit, Hall was 3-5, Simon 4-6, and Johnston also 3-5. On May 22, this was Powell’s first win of the season. He allowed both runs over six frames. He also was 2-3 at the plate.

Game 2. The Raccoons batted through the lineup before the Bayhawks ever recorded an out. They led 8-0 after the top 1st and eventually won 14-5. The Bayhawks had really *major* issues with their pitchers. As did the Raccoons, Ned Ray hardly got through five innings. Jerry Morris also had issues in game 3. He blew a 5-1 lead and the Bayhawks walked off 6-5 in the tenth.

Next were the Condors, the unfortunate victims of a sweep by the hands of the Raccoons in April. How they had managed to do that was still uncertain.

Berrios went against them first. He no-hit the Condors through four innings, then crumbled and blew a 3-0 and 4-1 lead to a tie in the seventh. The Raccoons squeezed in another run to win 5-4 with Gaston just barely saving it. He was still totally off this season, but got another save the next day in a 5-2 win. Bill Craig had entered the top 9th with a 4-run lead, but a triple and a grounder scored a run and enabled Gaston to earn a 2-out save. The Raccoons were getting some W’s lately. They completed the sweep over the Condors with a 3-1 win, Gaston got his third save in the series, Ed Sullivan homered for the go-ahead run in the third, and Zuniga hit a 2-run homer. The last win was over Alex Miranda, former Raccoon.

This left a series against the Aces to finish the month of May. The Aces were bottom of the CL South, but they weren’t particularly bad in any specific category. They also led the season series against the Raccoons 2-1. They also had luck on their side, and were fortunate to pitch against Morris, whom they mishandled for three runs in the top 1st. The Raccoons turned this into a 6-3 lead quickly, but Morris failed to bail out of the fifth. Lopez blew a 6-5 lead in the ninth and the Raccoons lost 8-6. That was it for Morris. I was sick of his 6.69 ERA. Gimme a prospect, an average one, and he’s yours. I would rather stitch together my fourth starter for the rest of the year than go with that moron.

Berrios was slapped next in a 7-0 loss where the Raccoons got just five hits in. The last game saw the Raccoons with an early 8-1 lead after a 6-run fourth inning. Christopher Powell pitched and allowed four more before being yanked after six. The pen somehow stitched it together allowing one more run on Craig for a 8-6 win to end May (a day early, we had May 31 off).



In other news:
May 12 – As the Thunder thump San Francisco 12-2, LF Jonah Frank hits for a cycle with a 4-6, 2 RBI night. This was the first cycle in 1979 and the fifth overall. It was also the first cycle for a Continental League batter.
May 13 – A torn labrum puts Miguel Sanchez, the ace of the Indians out of order for four months at least. Sanchez was 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA in ’79, and is 25-9 for his career.
May 16 – Warriors CF George Lynch busts his ankle and is out for the season. His .320 batting will surely be missed by the Warriors.
May 25 – Loggers 3B Alex Garcia has built up a streak of 20 consecutive games with a hit.
May 30 – Falcons 2B Cordell Atkins is a home run short of the cycle in a 7-6 loss to the Loggers. In the same game Alex Garcia goes 1-5 and extends his streak to 25 games.

Two months down, the team has been horrible. Romero and Evans out until September (at least), and Morris, Powell, Berrios, and Ray all do not perform. The bullpen is great – they compete for the lowest ERA of all ABL pens. The starters are awful. Notice Lopez slotted into the #4 spot. I don’t know whether I really want to do that. It was a nightmare last year.

Daniel Hall has moved his average to .223 with two homers and 20 RBI now. Sullivan, Simon, Sánz, Johnston were all more or less on the same level as before, but the power wasn’t there. Sullivan led the team with six homers. Five players have played every game so far, although Johnston has not started them all, but has pinch hit every time. We had frequent off days so far – should change later in the season.

At the moment we're playing a lineup with Hall - Sullivan - Sánz - Johnston - Simon - and then varying combos of Costa, Zuniga, and the catcher. Maybe I should try Zuniga in leadoff and bump Sullivan to #4 and Johnston to #6?

Loggers and Indians on the road to start June, then interleague: Blue Sox and Gold Sox. Of course, the season is long lost, only goal is to stay below 100 losses by now. Too bad we are 89 points below that mark at the moment.

Sad.
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Old 07-07-2012, 05:55 PM   #43
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We opened the Loggers series and the month of June with a complete game performance by Ned Ray in a 6-3 win. Two scored against Ray on a long ball in the bottom 9th. Costa and Simon both went 3-5. We also killed Alex Garcia’s 25-game hitting streak in this game, but Darryl Maloney bruised his toe early and had to leave the game. He was back in the lineup the next day, though. Garcia took revenge the next day and homered off Tony Lopez in the first inning. Lopez made another start and just like last year it was a horrible sight. Bill Craig was rocked for more late and the Raccoons lost 7-3. Juan Berrios was pitted against Pablo Ruiz in the rubber game. Both sported ERAs over five and had a K/BB ratio below 1.00 – accordingly the game was scoreless through five. (blinks) While Berrios relied heavily on his defensive backups, Ruiz fanned six early, before he started to crumble. The Raccoons wrecked him in the sixth and seventh for five runs, while Berrios and Justice combined for the 5-0 shutout.

From now until the All Star break beginning July 9, the Raccoons would only have one more off day. That’s six weeks with 40 games in them. Yay.

First in that grind were the Indians, who were running away with the division. The Raccoons got up 2-0 in the top 1st, but Powell ended up losing it 5-3. Daniel Hall was injured, a strained hamstring ended his June early. He was DL’ed after the Indians series and Ben Cox recalled for further audition.

Game 2. Ned Ray was pitted against Du Tong. Both left after five being pinch hit for and 3-1 down against a pitching heavy team with my offense I threw in Jerry Morris, who hadn’t pitched in over a week for sucking. He managed to wind through 1.1 innings with a walk, a wild pitch, and a hit batsman. Between innings, Sánz had launched a 3-run shot to turn the game around 4-3 for the Raccoons. Morris went after putting two on with one out in the bottom 7th. Justice got a ground ball double play to end the inning, then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Still up 4-3, Gaston entered in the bottom 9th to save it. Walk, groundball out, then he plunked Kurt Taylor, who was faster than lightning and represented the winning run. Gaston was yanked for Hatfield, who couldn’t keep it tight and the game went to extra innings. My head was glowing red by then. Hatfield somehow wobbled through the 10th and 11th innings with the winning run on third each time. Craig pitched a scoreless 12th, then led off the 13th by bunting, but was thrown out. Zuniga whiffed, and Flores whopped a pathetic ball to left. He would have been out, but the Indians botched the play and Flores reached second on a throwing error. Sànz pierced one up the middle to score him and the Raccoons entered the bottom 13th with a 1-run lead. Craig failed, but O’Rearden came in and got two ground balls that Johnston and Sullivan made into outs for the 5-4 win. O’Rearden got his first majors save.

Tony Lopez made another start in the rubber game. The Raccoons scored four off Ray Lynch in the first two innings, but Lopez found no way out of the bottom 2nd and was removed after giving up four walks and four hits for four runs. Covering nine frames now with that depleted bullpen was an extra challenge. Simon scored Johnston in the fifth for a new 5-4 lead, while entering the bottom 6th I had only five relievers left: the exhausted Hatfield (bad choice), the struggling Gaston (bad choice), the terrible Morris (terrible choice) and Jenkins and Justice. Jenkins got the task to cover three scoreless innings. He surrendered four runs in the sixth. Raccoons lost 8-5.

The Blue Sox were next for the second week of interleague play. They were thoroughly average so far with a 31-28 record as they came to Portland. We entered with only two rested relievers, so Berrios had to go deep in game 1. He gave up four runs in the top 4th en route to a 7-3 loss. Six were on Berrios, who in turn slashed a solo home run himself. All effort in vain of course, this team can’t afford to give up four over nine innings, let alone seven. We then got a much needed long outing from Powell, who went eight frames with only one run against him, while also starring at the plate with a 2-4, 1 RBI outing. Simon went 2-4 with a homer, and Ben Cox went 3-5 with his first home run, which was also his first RBI in the majors, in his first complete game since replacing Hall again. Lopez pitched a scoreless ninth, indicating already that he would not have another start to be slapped around in. Slapped around was Ned Ray, who took the loss in the rubber game. A late rally fell short and the Raccoons lost 5-3.

The Gold Sox were up next and we had to beat them hard. They were 9th or worse in the FL in all of average, runs scored, runs against, ERA for starters and the pen, with two 12th places. The Raccoons were not quite as bad, 12th in average and runs scored, 6th in runs allowed, 11th in starters ERA, and 3rd in bullpen ERA.

Then of course, we sent out Jerry Morris to start it. He lost it with a 3-run fourth inning that crashed a tender 1-0 lead, and the Raccoons lost 5-3 with four runs on Morris, who didn’t make it through the fifth. I was sick of that guy.

Looking for opportunities to dump him and get a replacement and minimum sacrifices I came across Jeff Thompson of the Scorpions. They would give him up and swallow Morris if I packaged him with minors 3B Cameron Green, who was batting .281 with 13 homers at AAA. Tempting, I admit. I made an offer without Green, but I don’t think they’ll take it.

Then there was still the Gold Sox series left to complete. Berrios pitched game 2 and was horrible again, allowing all runs in the 5-4 loss, going six innings. Pedro Sánz was injured in the game making a tough catch landing awkwardly. With Sánz out for the moment, I tried Robby Davis in RF in game 3. The Raccoons tried to salvage at least one game against the FL’s worst team.

But … the Gold Sox put five runs on Powell into the fifth inning – and *then* topped that off with nice grand slam. Raccoons lost 10-5.

In other news:
June 2 – The Scorpions trade Bill Peterson to Oklahoma City for Glenn Williams and a catching prospect. Peterson has 38 career home runs and is with his fourth team now.
June 2 – As the Wolves shut out the Warriors 1-0, Victor Soto pitches a 2-hit shutout.
June 6 – Rebels 1B Craig Snow, who’s earning a quarter million bucks this year at age 41 and only had to come to bat seven times so far, has been traded to the Gold Sox for centerfielder Fernando Silva, who is actually producing. The Gold Sox management must be completely retarded.
June 8 – Indian Salah Brunet pitches a 3-hit shutout of the Cyclones in a 7-0 win.
June 9 – Big deal, as the Indians acquire shortstop Ken Adams from the Titans in exchange for starter Du Tong (5-5, 3.57) and a minor leaguer.
June 11 – The Bayhawks beat the Wolves 6-0, with Kinji Kan pitching a 3-hit shutout.
June 12 – The Loggers shut out the Rebels 7-0, as Greg O’Brien pitches a 3-hit shutout.

Next, a 4-game series against the Crusaders, then on the road the rest of the month. The draft will take place during the Crusaders series.

And for bad news: Pedro Sánz was diagnosed as having torn ligaments in his ankle. He was out for at least a month.

100% pain. 110% frustration. I’m about sick of it …
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:27 PM   #44
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Short update here to accommodate for the draft and the Crusaders series around it before the team will hit the road from June 18 to July 1. Rob Pickett returned from the DL and I restructured the lineup a bit to go as follows: LF Cox – RF Pickett – SS Simon – 3B Sullivan – 1B Johnston – CF Zuniga – C Maloney – 2B Costa. Lawson caught against lefties or when Maloney otherwise needed rest and batted behind Costa. Simon to #3 was the biggest change in there. He was striking out in raw amounts and his unclutchness was well feared by those waiting on the bases. Sullivan and Johnston were much better in that regard. (Still, Simon had the most RBIs with 36 on the team)

Much like the Raccoons, the Crusaders wondered what had hit them. At 28-37 they were miles behind the Indians, who led the division by nine, as did the Cyclones in the FL East. The Crusaders were not scoring as much as the last two seasons and their pitching was also only average. Of course, the Raccoons would find ways do get swept over the 4-game series. At 19-44 we had already committed to last place and a 100-losses season, there was no question about either “feat”. With the tradeline still six weeks ahead there was no need for a firesale now, but I would be looking at options to grab promising youngsters. I really loved how Wyatt Johnston and Ed Sullivan were producing. But they were 37 and 34, respectively.

The Raccoons led 7-3 against the Crusaders in game 1. Ned Ray was shaky and had two wild pitches, hit a batter, scattered a few walks without a single K. That was nothing against what the bullpen did in the final 3.1 innings. There, the Crusaders scored eight and tore through the Raccoons relievers for an 11-7 win. Frank O’Rearden was sent back to AAA for blowing open the game in the top 8th, and we got back Bill Baker. Game 2. Morris and Jenkins combined for eight scoreless innings (how they did that must still be analyzed thoroughly – they were still both not sharp and the infield got a ton of good plays), before Hatfield failed to close the game. Justice came on to face lefty Bill Byrd with the bags loaded, the Raccoons up 2-1, and two outs. Byrd worked to a full count before Justice struck him out for the 2-1 win. This was the first June game (on June 15) in which the Raccoons didn’t score at least three runs.

Now it was time for the draft. The 1979 draft class is definitely pitcher-heavy. There are about ten players in there that scream “take me”, and seven or eight of them are pitchers. The Raccoons will pick #4, then #39 and every 24th pick from there. So we will get at least one high talent pitcher, but I’m torn between a top starter and a top closer. Maybe the starter would make more sense. They’re hard to come by on the trade market.

I ranked only the top eight prospects. The first six were pitchers, so we’d get one off that list. I intended to focus on pitching this time, since there wasn’t much promising talent in our system.

Our top 3 ranked talents were Grant West, Pepe Acevedo, and Jim Durden; Acevedo was a starter, the other two potential closers. The first overall pick was Wilson Martinez, who was drafted by the Denver Gold Sox. Martinez, a starter, had also been on my short list, number four among starters. Leland Lewis and Pedro Romero were taken next, also starting pitchers, and #6 and #5 on my list, respectively.

Our first pick was thus Grant West, who was 22, born in Portland (hometown boy!) and also had the additional pro of signing for slot. Strangely, Acevedo remained in the pool until we got our next pick at #39. Was he not as good as our scouts considered him? OSA rated him a bit lower than my scouts, but I still took him. No ranked prospectes remained past round 2. Our last shortlisted player was taken at #149 by the Scorpions, the last four picks were scrubs for sure.

All of the Portland draftees:

Round 1: #1 MR Grant West, 22, Portland, OR; superb ratings for stuff and movement, could be closer or setup guy.
Round 2: #2 SP Pepe Acevedo, 17, Calexico, CA; killer stuff and control with strong movement projected.
Round 3: MR Fletcher Kelley, 20, Edmonston, MD; very good numbers across the board with a deadly screwball, has also closer potential.
Round 4: LF/RF Gary Carter, 22, Grand Island, NE; good contact and fielding, but no power.
Round 5: C Dave Stewart, 18, New York, NY; average throughout, but his batting could actually get him forward with a bit of power in the mix.
Round 6: CL Gilberto Soto, 17, Brooklyn, NY; he is not well suited for a closer with numbers similar to those of our Wally Gaston, but he might due well in relief.
Round 7: LF/RF/CF Malcolm Whitaker, 21, Kansas City, MO; versatile outfielder, sub par at the plate.
Round 8: RF/LF/1B Javier Reyes, 22, Santo Domingo, Dom. Rep.; versatile outfielder, weak batting.
Round 9: LF/RF Andrew Clement, 22, Edinburg, TX; no features worth mentioning.
Round 10: MR Vance White, 17, Wyandotte, MI; good stuff, but that won’t be enough.

Assignments were as follows: West, Kelley, and Carter were assigned to AA, the rest landed at the A level. In addition, Kenny Powell and Allen Potts, two A relievers, were moved up to AA along with them, and AA closer Gary Simmons was promoted to AAA.

It was a good draft as far as pitching was concerned, but whether any of the five fielders would make a splash, remained to be seen.

What else were the Raccoons up to? We still tried to trade for Jeff Thompson without giving up on Cameron Green. It was more or less futile.

Game 3 against the Crusaders was started by Juan Berrios, but he left with an injury after giving up two runs in the first inning. Bill Baker was injured in his first game back with the Raccoons. The bullpen could not withstand that strain and broke apart, losing the game 8-6. The series ended with a 3-1 loss. Powell went 7.2 innings with his usual shaky style. The game ended an 18-game hitting streak for Ed Sullivan.
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:55 PM   #45
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Bill Baker had a torn labrum, his season was over and he landed on the 60 day disabled list. He ended his season with an ERA of 8.31 … not something you want in your record books. His overall ERA was still a solid 3.58 though. Frank O’Rearden was recalled for the second Titans game.

We started our road trip in Boston against former Indian Du Tong. Ned Ray outlasted him in a tight duel and went seven innings with one run allowed. Hatfield and Gaston held the Titans down and the Raccoons won 3-1 on a 2-run Zuniga home run in the seventh. Game 2 had Morris in, who walked five, but also fanned seven, which was something new. He only allowed one run over six, which made for back-to-back solid starts, which was new for him with the Raccoons. O’Rearden blew a tender 2-1 lead in the eighth, but a 6-run ninth by the Raccoons made for an 8-2 win. This was the first time the Raccoons won consecutive games since May 31 and June 1 against the Aces and Loggers.

Game 3 posed a problem. Berrios was able to start, but was still laboring a hamstring that had forced him in the first inning against the Crusaders in his last start. I was toying with the thought to play a reliever again in a scratch start, but discarded that. After game 3 came the last off day before the All Star break – we would skip Berrios and play Powell on short rest. He would have to take that one and if he made it five innings without racking up four or five or nine runs, it was not too bad. Ben Cox blasted a leadoff homer, but Powell only managed four innings and then left, with the Raccoons up 3-2. O’Rearden blew that lead. Johnston scored Cox in the seventh for a 4-3 lead that Jenkins, Hatfield, and Gaston kept together for the sweep of the Titans who had now lost eight in a row. Ben Cox was 4-5 with the home run and nine total bases.

Next were two series against CL South opponents, the Thunder and Knights. The former led the division, so this was a tough task, but every team was a tough task for those Raccoons. Just look at what the Gold Sox did to us.

Ralph Hoyles mowed down ten Raccoons in an eight innings performance for his 14th win of the season, but it was close. Ray gave up four early, but Zuniga bashed a long shot for three runs in the fifth. To no avail, Hoyles kept it down from there and the Thunder won 4-3. Rob Pickett had gone cold subbing for Sánz in RF and I decided to try Flores in there, who was struggling to bat over .200 this year and was degraded to pinch hit.

Game 2 brought Morris. He again(!) only allowed one run and won the game as the Raccoons turned the 1-0 deficit around to win 4-1. Maloney was 3-4, while Sullivan got the key hit that plated two in the sixth. Now, with three sharp starts by Morris (apart from a few walks), I finally called up the talks with the Scorpions for Jeff Thompson. Maybe, just maybe, Morris had had an exceptionally long exceptionally horrible streak, and maybe it was over. His ERA was 5.49 now, already down a run in the last three or four starts. Maybe he could actually be a worthy member of the team.

The Oklahoma City series ended with a 3-hit shutout pitched by their Morton Jennings. Berrios was sharp through five, then was socked for two homers and three runs in the sixth, which was already all the damage done in the 3-0 loss. It was the first shutout of the Raccoons in 26 days (and they had played on most of those).

The Knights series started with Ben Simon shooting a home run in the top 1st, but Powell then managed to surrender a 2-run home run to pitcher Dave Larson. But it was the second game in a row where the Raccoons starter had that one horrible inning and Powell went eight frames. A 4-run burst by the Raccoons offense in the third inning was enough for the 5-3 win. Simon was 2-4 with two RBI, while Zuniga was dismissed at the plate four times in as many at bats. He still contributed with a few good catches in CF. Game 2 was one to forget, with Ned Ray battered around for seven runs in the second inning. Raccoons lost 10-3. This gave me three starters with an ERA over five. No wonder the team sucked so much. The offense was so much better this year, but the starting pitching was god damn awful. Of course much had to do with the injuries to Romero and Evans. Ironically, Powell, who had not been in the rotation to start the season, now had the best ERA at 4.44 – or should I say “least awful ERA”?

Morris was up in the rubber game. He was shaky again and relied on the guys behind him a lot. A 3-run bottom 7th put the Raccoons into a 4-2 hole, but they tied it with two down in the top 9th on a Ben Simon single. Felt like his first clutch hit in years. The Knights walked off in the 12th, 5-4, on two hits through the infield seams and a crash into home plate called safe. Hatfield was saddled with the loss after pitching two good innings before. The offense had hanged him to dry out there.


In other news:
June 19 – Joe Ellis pitches a 1-hitter as his Falcons down the Aces 5-0. It’s been almost two years since the last no-hitter in ABL baseball.
June 22 – Vincent Sauvage, catcher for the Bayhawks, has hit in 20 straight games, crowning the milestone with a 2-run homer in an 8-3 win over the Canadiens.
June 25 – New York SS Ralph Nixon is put out of action by a sprained ankle sustained in an on base collision. Nixon missed the triple crown last year by a single home run, and while his numbers are down a little this year with the Crusaders struggling as a whole, he will surely be missed a ton.
June 25 – 2B Mike White hits six singles in an 11-10 win of his Bayhawks at the Indians’. This is the second 6-hit performance against the Indians in a year. The Loggers’ Ethan Michael did it last July.
June 25 – Less than a week removed from his 1-hit shutout of the Aces, Joe Ellis leaves a game with back pain and will be out at least for a week. Ellis is 8-6 with a 2.14 ERA in 1979.
June 26 – The Indians stop Sauvage’s streak at 23.
June 28 – The Miners lose their slugging catcher Sam Murphy for the rest of the season to a ruptured achilles tendon. He was .315 with six homers so far this season.

Raccoons still below .333 – not that .333 would be a desirable percentage for wins. That’s about 110 losses for a season. Dreading. High note: since May 22, we are 16-18. At that pace we’d end up somewhere around a less horrible 65-97 record. Well, of course 65-97 is still horrible.

During July I will also look out for offers from other teams. I’m willing to sell one or two pieces for prospects and/or starting pitching.

11 games remain until the All Star break. The last bit of the road trip will be the Indians for four games, then at home four against the Canadiens and three against the Loggers. Four more at Vancouver after the break. If we want to make a move towards .400 or at least above .383 (100 losses), then we better get going in the first two weeks of July. We should also have Sánz have back by the break. I miss him a lot…
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:04 PM   #46
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Four games against the Indians, who led by … much. Doesn’t sound like much fun. Juan Berrios opened the series against Jose Murillo and got a 1-0 lead in the first to work with. The Raccoons were held to one hit and one run through eight, while Berrios pitched a 2-hitter until the eighth, when the Indians singled and then slapped him with a Marvin Roy home run, pinch hitting for Murillo. Cook led off the top 9th with a pinch hit double but was left stranded. 2-1 loss. And it sucked a ton. Game 2. Powell pitched six scoreless with a 2-0 lead, then was burned for four hits on two home runs. Raccoons lost 4-2. Of course they did.

We looked at Salah Brunet in game 3, but rocked him for four runs in the first inning. Ray was back from his dismal outing four days ago and kept his stuff together this time, allowing only one run in seven innings. Raccoons won 5-1 and I would have been very happy to beat Brunet hadn’t it been for the two highly depressing losses before this. Johnston and Maloney both had two RBIs in that key first inning. Game 4 saw both Sullivan and Costa on the bench for being very tired. Simon had already skipped game 2. Freddy Lopez was at third and Hoyt Cook at second – not really his strong position. Cook made an error on a critical play in the eighth that loaded the bases with two down and a 4-3 lead for the Raccoons. Justice was in and struck out the next batter. Gaston got the save.

The Raccoons had scored first in all four games and they should have won all four to be honest. But where we were, we took those two wins and soldiered on. Already July, only three more months of suffering ahead. One tiny bright spot came through in the BNN stat of the week: Wally Gaston was ranked #4 among active pitchers with the most K/9 with 8.16 K/9. Bayhawks reliever Seung-ook Yi led the category with 8.69.

The Canadiens were next, at home, for four games. They were more or less average throughout after the first half of the season. LF Miguel Guzman led the CL in home runs with 16.

The Raccoons took another early lead, 2-1, in the first Canadiens game. Gaston came in the ninth with another insurance run behind him, and the Raccoons needed it. A passed ball by Maloney almost would have spelt desaster, scoring a run, but Gaston finished striking out the side eventually with the tying run on second, and we won 3-2. This was only the fourth win for Juan Berrios this year. He had 12 losses already.

The win streak continued, with a 5-2 win in game 2. Both runs were on Tony Lopez, who had not much oomph at the moment. Powell had pitched six scoreless. Simon and Johnston had hit home runs, Simon’s had plated three. That was already the last win here. Game 3 was lost on a massive blow up in the top 8th, where Lopez loaded the bases with a 5-2 lead. Justice walked in one run and by the time it was over Hatfield was also in the game and the Canadiens led (and then won) 6-5.

That was it for Lopez. He was botching too much this season and was demoted to AAA. Jose Vazquez came back to the Raccoons once more. He was in his last option year – he either made it stick this time or I would send him down the river happily. Gustavo Zuniga’s back was hurting and he was day to day until the All Star break. Dolder would start for him in CF.

And just like I wasn’t hurting enough, Pedro Sánz suffered a setback in his recovery that would cost him another two weeks. Why!? Why!? Why is it always me!! (plants face into doorframe in agony)

Oh, yeah. We ended the Canadiens series with a 6-1 win, scoring five in the bottom 6th. Morris had pitched six scoreless frames, only O’Rearden had been stained. He was on the borderline of going back to AAA by now, walking too many and not even getting lefties out with reliability. Vazquez pitched the seventh, 1-2-3. Dolder was the only hitless starting position player. Hoyt Cook scored at least two for the second consecutive time in a bases loaded pinch hit appearance and was batting .244 now after dipping below .200 in June.

Anyway, 5-3 in the last two series made for 21-21 since May 22. Keep pushing, boys, keep pushing!

Daniel Hall came off the DL in time for the Loggers series. He was taken back to the majors roster and Robby Davis was sent to AAA. Davis had tanked it back time batting around .150 – he was in his last option year (at age 21) and I had given up hope on him by now. Hall was back playing LF and Cox was shifted to RF. Cox was batting just over .300 in over 120 at bats now and was thus better than his downgraded ratings. I started to lose confidence in my scouts. They also had upgraded Hall a bit again. Hall was slotted to #6 against righties with Cox leading off followed by Maloney, who was batting a solid .250 this year and was now moved up to #2. Simon, Sullivan, Johnston followed. Hall batted #2 against lefties and when Maloney was rested for Lawson, who was sub .200 …

The boys from Milwaukee came to town before the break. Berrios pitched in game 1 and in the first inning already walked in two in a horrible outing. Raccoons lost 6-4, the only highlight being a 3-run long ball by Hall in the top 8th, then came back the next day with a 3-2 win, in which Simon was 3-4 with the game-winning home run. Powell and Justice combined for the win and save. Justice was given preference over Gaston since the tough lefty battery of the Loggers was up in the bottom 9th. But what good was it all for? The rubber game was lost with only a Wyatt Johnston home run to account for in the 3-1 loss on Ned Ray, who went eight only to crumble late.

All Star break. Only Ben Simon went for the Raccoons (and he didn’t deserve it either), Simon went 2-4 with a run batted in as the Continental League lost 9-3.

In other news:
July 2 – Clint Rhodes and the Canadiens might have lost the series opener against the Raccoons, but Rhodes landed a hit for the 20th straight game in the 3-2 loss.
July 3 – The Rebels’ biggest bat, Juan Medine (.383, 13 HR, 57 RBI) will be out of action for two weeks with an elbow sprain.
July 4 – Juan “Mauler” Correa pitches a 3-hitter as the Scorpions beat the Gold Sox 3-0.
July 8 – The Indians lose their biggest weapon in the playoff campaign, pitcher Salah Brunet, to a rotator cuff inflammation for the rest of the season.
July 8 – Rhodes’ hitting streak has reached 25 games.

Raccoons will play four in Vancouver, then have a 2-week home stint against the Titans, Falcons, Bayhawks, and Aces. Not that it would matter. Raccoons will lose against anybody.
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:55 PM   #47
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We revamped our rotation after the break to order the guys accounting to who struggled the least. It was a tight race, but Powell now led off with Ray, Berrios, and Morris behind him. In reality, they all would have been the #8 starter…

Powell had a 2-hit shutout going to open the next series against the Canadiens. He ran out of steam in the ninth and Justice and Gaston closed out the 3-0 victory. Maloney was 3-4 with two RBI. Hall stole three bases. At the same time we put Clint Rhodes and his 25-game hitting streak away. Ned Ray in game 2 pitched well enough to win the game with some power support. Sullivan homered for three in the third and plated four in total. Maloney had three hits again. The Raccoons moved from 5-4 to 8-4 in the top 9th, and Bill Craig was tasked with getting the last three outs. He nicked the first batter, then walked another. A double play left a runner on third. Another walk. To hell with Craig, bring another one! With lefties up, O’Rearden came in. He nicked the first batter, and I saw this before. A single later, two were across and I finally resigned and turned to Wally Gaston, who whiffed the next guy to end it with the 8-6 win.

Gustavo Zuniga ended up once more on the casualty list with a sore shoulder, out for four weeks or so. Dolder replaced him in the lineup for the next few games, but only until Pedro Sánz would come back. Then we would try to slot either youngster, Cox or Hall, into center. Dolder’s .200 hitting was not that thrilling. (Well, Hall was batting .213 …) Until Sánz’ return we’d play a man short.

Game 3. The Raccoons out-hit the Canadiens 11-6, but two throwing errors by Maloney plated two unearned runs that derailed the game for Berrios and the Raccoons lost 3-2. Game 4 was perhaps the biggest thriller in the series. Down 2-0 early on Jerry Morris totally out of control, the Raccoons rallied bit by bit, tying it in the fifth on a homer by Kieran Lawson, and then took a fragile 3-2 lead when Hall bashed one out in the sixth. Pitching was certainly not boring for the Raccoons that day as Morris in the sixth and Hatfield in the seventh both ended up with threats and second and third, but somehow weasled through. In the top 8th the Raccoons slammed three home runs (Hall, Johnston, and Lawson, the latter two back-to-back) to put the game out of reach. We won 7-2.

Pedro Sánz is back! Hurray! Unfortunately he went 0-4 in his first game back against the Titans. Raccoons led 2-0 through six, but things got out of hand in the eighth, when Powell left with a 2-1 lead, two out and runners on the corners. Brett Justice came to face the lefty up next, but surrendered a triple. Raccoons then lost 3-2, which was followed by a 9-4 defeat the next day in the middle game. Ned Ray struck out six, and allowed six earned runs as well – we’ll call this a mixed outing. O’Rearden had another inefficient outing doing mopup. Sánz landed a pair of hits, and Hall homered in the bottom 9th when people were already going home. Hall is at .237 now with his batting, slowly crawling up after that terrible April.

The Raccoons led again in game 3, 2-0 after four, and lost 7-4. Justice, Hatfield, and Gaston were torched for five in the final two innings, after we had entered 2-2. So, the Raccoons led all three games early against the Titans, lost all three on bad pitching, and now had dropped from 3.5 games back to fifth place in the division to 6.5 again. Great, really. Those guys could not beat a team of blind, one-legged orphans …….

The game 3 loss was already the 250th defeat in Raccoons history. Compare that to 168 wins. That’s just a scratch over .400 overall. The Falcons were now the first of three CL South teams to come to Portland, with the Bayhawks and Aces after them. This should get the Raccoons to sub-.400 for all time again. And maybe they’d stay there forever.

Still not enough bad news? You may remember Juan Martinez, an outfield prospect, discovered in Mexico at age 17 with an enormous bat. He tore his posterior cruciate ligament last year – turned out he had frecked up his knee for good and we would have to put him on a bus back to Mexico. Career over at age 18.

The Falcons. The Raccoons were again shot down in the first game, 8-5, but Christopher Powell seemed to come around for good again. He delivered a 98-pitch complete game the next day in a 5-1 win, and only missed a shutout because Darryl Maloney allowed a passed ball that eventually got the run in for the Falcons in the first inning. Powell also executed a suicide squeeze perfectly in the fourth inning that scored Ben Simon. In his last seven starts, Powell has gone 5-2 with 11 ER, shaving his ERA by almost a full run down to 3.57 – imagine a rotation with Powell in his 1977 and mid-1979 form at #2, behind a sharp sub-3.00 Romero and an equally solid Logan Evans (because I believe he has the potential), and there is your .500 plus team. If they stay healthy. Two thirds of them haven’t.

So I went into game 3 in a good mood again. Yet the signs weren’t good, the intestines of the sacrificed animals spelling trouble as Ned Ray faced Joe Ellis, with the latter having less than half the former’s ERA. But it wasn’t all Ray that was the problem. Sometimes it just wouldn’t work out. An error by Angel Costa (rare enough) plated two in the first inning, although Ray walked two and nicked another to accelerate the unevitable. The Falcons scored in every inning but the seventh and ninth and wrapped up the Raccoons 14-3. Pitching allowed three wild pitches and 11 walks. In addition to a million hits, of course.

Bill Craig and Frank O’Rearden were banished to AAA after the series. Both had terrible control and were causing damage in great amounts. Roman Ocasio and Tony Lopez were recalled. Ocasio would start again with Ray moving to the pen. This hadn’t worked in the past, this won’t work in the future.

After an off day we faced the Bayhawks, starting with Berrios going against Kinji Kan. The latter had a no-hitter going that wasn’t broken up until the seventh, when Ed Sullivan doubled to right. The Raccoons managed to get two hits in total and lost 3-0. Game 2 was much the opposite. Jerry Morris surrendered seven runs in less than three innings and the Bayhawks got enough momentum from there to win 11-8.

Game 3 was Powell starting and maybe he could get a W here. It had come this far. I was relying on last season’s “Bozo of the Year Award” winner to get a win. Powell went 7.2 innings with a 4-3 lead. With a runner on first and lefty Michael Bolton up, I brought Justice. Bolton homered and that was not the first time this happened with Justice this year. Ironically, Justice wound up being credited the W, when Daniel Hall doubled in two in the bottom of the 8th for a 6-5 win. Hall was 3-5 with a homer and 3 RBI this game. His average was over .240 now.

Aces series. Roman Ocasio, who had gotten to an 8.00 ERA in his first short (for obvious reasons) stint with the team earlier this year, started. He allowed only one run over seven innings, but his performance was exceptionally twisted and he relied heavily on our defensively solid infield. Hall homered to make it 2-1 in the bottom 5th and with Hatfield coming on in the eighth I thought I was sure. Hatfield gave up three straight hits, the Raccoons lost 3-2.

We slotted Maloney back to #1 catcher. Lawson was just as glitchy with passed balls lately and Maloney was at least batting .250. Besides, what the hell, I will clean house in the off season and if everything goes to plan, those two will be gone. To a far away land, if I get a voice in there.

Game 2 against the Aces. Berrios got his 16th loss and hurt himself in a 2-1 loss. A 4-1 loss completed the sweep.

In other news:
July 15 – The runaway Cyclones lose their motor Jeremiah Carrell (batting .422) for two weeks to a foot contusion.
July 15 – The Loggers wash up the Indians 9-0, with Eduardo Jimenez throwing a one-hitter.
July 16 – Sergio Salazar, ace of the Falcons, is out until next year with a torn rotator cuff.
July 17 – Chris Lynch of the Warriors has himself a 20-game hitting streak.
July 20 – “Mauler” Correa shuts out the Cyclones on three hits in a 4-0 Scorpions win.
July 20 – The Warriors lose 3-2 to the Blue Sox, and Lynch goes 0-3 to end his hitting streak at 22 games.
July 21 – LF Chad White of the Capitals only lacks a triple for a cycle in a 6-0 win over the Gold Sox. He went 5-5 with 10 TB and two RBI.
July 23 – The Stars send their closer Roberto Vega (86 saves in his career) to Tijuana for pitching prospects.
July 24 – The Rebels lose their monster batter Juan Medine to a back injury for a few weeks.
July 27 – Starter Jesse Thompson, 43-23 with the Cyclones for his career, will miss many months with radial nerve compression.

News flash after the Aces series: Juan Berrios has a torn rotator cuff. Season over. That’s the third guy to go down from those four that started the season in the rotation. The fourth is Morris.

Won’t it ever stop to hurt?
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:09 PM   #48
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With Berrios out, and we were talking about a 16-game loser before the end of July here, the last bit of order broke apart as far as the rotation was concerned. We now had Powell, Morris, and then Ray … and then Ocasio? That was at least 75% terrible.

To make this one clear: we were way past fun by now. This was a horrible grind.

At least the most recent slide was stopped in the first game at Oklahoma City, which opened a 2-week road trip. Powell was solid and went seven innings in a 4-1 win, allowing only a solo home run to stain his outing. The team then took a quick 4-0 lead, but Ocasio managed to blow it up and left in the seventh in a tied game. Vazquez lost the game as the Thunder walked off 5-4 in the ninth. That same Ocasio then got a virus infection to miss at least a few days. Next starter down. Goddamnit!!

August 1 brought the news that Christopher Powell was the Continenatal League’s pitcher of the month in July with a 5-1 record and 1.37 ERA. Daniel Hall was named the Continental League rookie of the month with a .274 clip in July, shooting six homers and plating 14 runners, while not coming off the DL until July 6.

August 1 unfortunately also was another horrible start for Ned Ray with six runs in the 7-2 loss. That was it for Ray, I had enough of him. Another guy to dump over the winter. We called up Gary Simmons, our 1978 round 2 draft pick from AAA, where he had ruled house – but mostly in relief.

We opened the Crusaders series (four games, as well as in Vancouver after that) with a 6-5 win that almost got out of hand in the eighth. Vazquez allowed two on base, Justice walked a lefty, and then the runs started scoring and slashed a 6-2 lead almost apart. Hatfield somehow got us out of that nasty bottom 8th. The Raccoons then only had four hits in game 2 (yet loaded the bases once) and lost 1-0. Powell was good in this outing, but took the loss. The favor was returned in the next game, where the Raccoons won 5-0 with only four hits for the Crusaders. Ocasio went 7.2 innings and only because he hit the heart of the Crusaders lineup hard there in the bottom 8th he couldn’t go and make the shutout in the end. Hatfield helped him out and Lopez pitched a scoreless ninth. The Raccoons got ahead in the second with a 2-run shot by Ben Simon. Ocasio didn’t get the shutout, but at least he got his first big league W. In game 4, Gary Simmons was up to pitch, and he struggled considerably. He had a few good innings early on, but eventually surrendered a 3-run homer to Yannick Roy in a scoreless game that broke it for the Raccoons, who lost 4-2.

The Canadiens somehow were over .500 (57-54), something the Raccoons couldn’t even dream of. Especially with the pitching we were sporting. Jerry Morris gave up eight runs in 4.1 innings and Vazquez added three more with one out in a 11-6 loss to open the series. Game 2 had Powell, who pitched eight strong innings and left with a 2-1 lead for Wally Gaston, who walked three and blew it all open in the bottom 9th to take the 3-2 loss. The Raccoons had out-hit the Canadiens 10-5 in the game, Ben Simon was 0-3 with 7 LOB. I knew where to direct my fury for some extra slappings here.

Frustration at new highs. Gaston was relieved of the closer role immediately, having blown enough. Hatfield would be allowed to blow some for the rest of the season.

Game 3 was Ocasio’s turn. His command was awful and he was exhausted by the sixth inning, but still picked up the win in the 8-2 victory over the Canadiens. He did allow only one unearned run after a throwing error by Ed Sullivan. Sullivan was struggling at the plate as well (a bit at least, dropping below .260), and I shuffled the middle of the lineup, 3 through 6, from Sánz – Sullivan – Johnston – Simon to Simon – Sánz – Sullivan – Johnston. Simon’s performance at bringing in runners was awful as usual. Batting behind the speedy youngsters Cox and Hall, the latter of which possessed some power (10 HR this season, 2nd behind Simon on the team) would maybe improve things, getting the boys another out to play with. Or so. I know crap about lineup building. The Raccoons lost the last game in Vancouver 4-3, after leading 3-1 into the bottom 8th, in 11 innings.

Next: interleague (Scorpions and Capitals), then a series in Indianapolis and a week-long home stint against the Titans and Knights.

In other news:
August 1 – The Aces are shut out by the Crusaders’ Tom Moulds, who gives up three hits in the 7-0 win of his team.

Almost 81 losses already and it isn’t even mid-August. The team sucks top to bottom. I’m so tired of trying to mess with this game, which refuses to be loved by me.
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:48 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by Westheim View Post
I’m so tired of trying to mess with this game, which refuses to be loved by me.

Don't give up! Just think how great it is going to feel when you turn this team around.
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:08 AM   #50
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Well, this season is a grind for sure. It's barely any fun.

Take that last Canadiens series there f.e.: the Raccoons led all four games after 1 1/2 innings, then Morris (who is about to get banned to Siberia) blew up the first, and of the other three, two were spoiled by terrible outings by Gaston and then Jenkins. Ghnarff ...!!

I'll be on holiday next week (which just means one thing: gaming 24/7) and I'll get this season over with. If the next is more of the same, I may have to go back to Minesweeper for the rest of the week.
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Old 07-20-2012, 06:11 PM   #51
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With the best rotation of the Federal League as our next opponent, I had nothing to fear against those Scorpions. We’d not win anyway. Some of our players were also tired after a long stretch of games, including Simon, Cox, and Costa. The latter two were rested in game 1, where the pitching matchup was Jerry Morris, our 5+ ERA donkey against “Mauler” Correa, 18-6, ERA just a hair over 2, and nasty. You may sense where this is going, right?

You’re wrong. Neither of the two got a decision as the Raccoons and the Scorpions fought to a 2-2 tie after nine, when Correa left. Morris had covered seven frames. O’Rearden messed up this chance in the tenth and lost the game, 3-2. So we kind of went where you thought you were going after all. Game 2 was Powell against Thompson, whom we had to tried to acquire earlier this year. He was bashed around a bit by the Raccoons in the first innings and we won 7-3. The rubber game saw Ocasio in one of his terrible outings from earlier in the year, giving up six walks and four runs in five innings. The Raccoons were behind 6-0, then rallied in the top 9th, but fell short, losing 6-4 with the bags full. Zuniga was struck out to end the game in his first appearance back from the DL, but he had also started the run with a pinch hit single. Pinch hitters had three hits for the Raccoons this game (Cook homered for two), while all starters combined for only two.

Jose Vazquez was sent back to AAA after the Scorpions series, taking his 5.12 ERA with him. We recalled Bill Craig, who had pitched out of the Raccoons pen earlier this season. On a good note, Daniel Hall now led the league in steals with 20. That was, the Continental League. The majors were led by L.A.’s Xiao-Wei Li with 31.

The first Capitals game was lost 4-3, blamed entirely on our new (and former) closer Kevin Hatfield, who failed to convert a 3-1 lead into a save for himself and a win for the team. Morons, that was about all we had on the team.

Game 2 was one of those affairs which brought you close to suicide. Morris was pitching. He blew a 4-1 lead. Then Daniel Hall blasted a 3-run shot to make it 7-4. Tony Lopez blew that lead. The Raccoons walked off in the tenth inning, 8-7, when Johnston started running at first when Darryl Maloney launched a liner through the middle and never stopped running (impressive speed for a 37 year old) and crashed into the catcher Pedro Martinez to score the winning run. That sounds pretty good for a result, right? Well, we won the game, but we lost Pedro Sánz. Again. He pulled something in his elbow catching a sharp flyball in the first inning. Zuniga would replace him in the lineup, maybe alternating with Pickett, while Sánz went on the 15-day DL, out for two weeks. Added to that was another goddamn awful game to finish interleague matches, a 7-1 loss in which Christopher Powell got only three outs but was tagged for six runs. Just when I had thought at least he was half way solid. The Raccoons also had not won a series in a full month since a 3-1 series against the Canadiens.

To catch up with everything, Sánz was disabled again, and Dolder was recalled, as we had just sent him down to AAA when activating Gustavo Zuniga. Better news: Jorge Romero and Logan Evans both had reported to AAA for rehab assignments after their injuries. They would both rejoin the club in mid-September to get a few more starts this season.

The Raccoons went to Indianapolis to the Indians, who convincingly led the division. Ocasio was the loser in game 1, where the Raccoons totalled two hits and lost 1-0. Ocasio again struggled with control, walking five.

Game 2. Hall homers in the first inning. 2-0 Raccoons. Cox homers in the second inning. 4-0 Raccoons. Sullivan homers in the third inning. 5-0 Raccoons. Then Gary Simmons was grand-slammed out of the game, Brett Justice later blew the save and the Indians walked off with a scratch single in the ninth, 6-5. Oh, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

A sweep was avoided with a 6-2 win in the last game. The Indians might be leading the division, but they mostly did it on pitching (despite trading for bats lately), not on offense. By now, I had a new problem, the outfield: too many solid guys out there;

There was Sánz. Good, big bat, but defensively marginal and constantly injured and unusable out of RF.
Cox, who was first rated a top prospect when traded for, then rated down, but he was defensively versatile, had a solid batting record and was speedy.
Hall, my #1 pick from ’77. His bat was coming around a bit recently with him picking up home runs in increasing speed in the last month or so. Defensively good in corner outfield, and faster than the Roadrunner.
Pickett, last year’s signing for CF, who was batting around .250 and was good in the field, but had dropped off the radar a bit recently.
Zuniga, brought in in the off season, but his bat had largely disappointed. Defensively he was good, but not overwhelming, but he was still better than Dolder or Tim Anderson (who was not with the club anymore).
Flores, strong in ’77, but was now batting sub .200 and was on the way to be traded for marginal prospects (at best).
There was a corner prospect in AAA, Sherwood Henderson, who might have a shot at the big club in the next two years. The only other remotely promising outfield prospect was 1979 draftee Gary Carter, though. He was batting .221 in AA, though.
And still, any five of those still wouldn’t produce enough runs to get the Raccoons out of last place. There was a LOT of work up for me in the off season, a lot of losers to be traded or released. There were a few candidates on the club … just get rid of ‘em.

It was also time to think about contracts by now. Six were up at season’s end. Catcher Darryl Maloney was the only guy not arbitration eligible. His $131,000 salary was already too big in my eyes for his marginal ability, but he was rated as a type B free agent. Berrios, Morris, and Gaston were pitchers with expiring contracts. Costa and Cook were up among position players. All were arbitration eligible. All of them had their flaws.

Berrios was one of two pitchers in the ABL to throw a no-hitter. This year he had racked up 16 losses and was injured through Christmas. Morris had been solid for the Titans, but was a nightmare in the Raccoons uniform. Gaston was a good reliever, but a terrible closer, and was walking scores this year. Costa was a superb defensive second baseman, but couldn’t bat over .190 (think Rickie Weeks here). Hoyt Cook was a bench player behind Johnston with solid results, but as far as we had Johnston he wouldn’t play regularly.

Bottom line is of course, I hate them all.

Rest of the month with home stint against the Titans and Knights. Then road trip to Charlotte and New York (going over into September). Could the playoff races be any less exciting?
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Old 07-21-2012, 05:13 PM   #52
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The opener of the Titans series was a nail biter. Christopher Powell, back from a 6-run, 1-inning outing against the Capitals, went against former Raccoon Bruce Wright and managed to mess up a 4-0 lead, but was back in the hunt for the win when he was pinch hit for in the bottom 7th and the Raccoons scored three in the inning. O’Rearden allowed a run in the eighth, 7-5 now, and then Hatfield had another shoddy save attempt. One run scored and the speedy Francisco Dominguez was on first with two outs, but Hatfield somehow groundballed his way out there in the 7-6 win. It was his first save of the season and maybe his last, as I didn’t really like what I saw. Gaston was much, but he wasn’t any worse than that. Ben Cox was 0-5 with 6 LOB, but Kieran Lawson provided two clutch hits, going 2-3 with 3 RBI. Not bad for a backup catcher batting sub .200 …

This made for back-to-back wins for the Raccons on August 19 and 21 (off day in between). When was the last time the little fur balls won two in a row? Hold on to something: July 12 and 13. That’s almost six weeks ago. That’s how awful this team is. It gets worse: we only have four streaks of more than two consecutive wins, twice while sweeping the Condors, and once while sweeping the Titans. Is there hope to repeat?

Nope. Ocasio started with two walks, and although the damage wasn’t done in that inning, he eventually took the loss, 3-2. Daniel Hall surrendered two poor ground balls in RISP situations that cost dearly, including the bottom 9th with two out. At least Tony Lopez seems to be back on track, recovered from his adventures as a makeshift starter, pitching two scoreless frames with 3 K. This was the 81st loss of the season for the Raccoons on August 22. Loss #82 followed right away. Gary Simmons was rocked for five runs in six innings (bit by bit, stretched out over four innings), and the Raccoons lost 5-3. Johnston twice made embarassing outs with two down and two runners in scoring position.

The first guy I went after for an extension was Wally Gaston. He is still only 23, he could still become a star reliever along the way. His arbitration estimate was $89k, he wanted $139k to start with. I offered two years at $77k apiece, but guess where we met? At the arbitration estimate. To the point.

First negotiations with Hoyt Cook and Angel Costa were unsuccessful. They were demanding too much for their limited results. I would take both to arbitration in case that beating sense into them would not be successful.

The Knights came to town, and they were one of the most difficult teams for the Raccoons to get over, with a .292 win ratio so far. With Jerry Morris opening the series against them, I didn’t expect much, and I certainly didn’t expect Morris delivering a 7-hit shutout, in which he struck out just one batter though. He covered the nine innings in 97 pitches and the Raccoons won 3-0. All runs were unearned after throwing errors by the Knights.

There were still problems. Daniel Hall had not hit a ball in about a week and I sat him down a bit to get him straightened out. Pickett started in left, Zuniga in right. At least until Pedro Sánz would come off the DL for the next series and we’d shuffle things anew.

To no avail. Christopher Powell officially sucked again as he surrendered seven runs in five innings of work in game 2. Now, the Raccoons came back to TIE it on a homer by grandpa Johnston in the seventh, but Ben Jenkins was blown apart in the eighth and the Raccoons lost 11-7. That was nothing compared to Roman Ocasio’s performance the next day. He allowed nine runs in 4.2 innings, including a big home run to opposing pitcher Luis Nunez before getting yanked. Ocasio was actually yanked all the way to AAA ball, to possibly grow old there. 11-3 in the end, Craig and Lopez allowing single runs to score. Simon was 2-3, both hits leaving the park.

With the Falcons next, we banished Ocasio and recalled the recovered Logan Evans and his 1-0 mark with a 0.82 ERA from April. Remember that he had led the league in ERA before tearing his triceps. Evans was slotted to #4 in the rotation, with Simmons and Morris moving up, making Evans the guy to start the third Falcons game, which also gave him an extra day of rest from his last AAA start. He had gone 2-1 with a 3.78 mark there.

The Falcons series was another one of those futile endeavours. The Raccoons were vastly out-hit and lost all three games, 2-1, 8-0, and 5-4. All but two runs were on the starters Simmons, Morris, and Evans. Yes, the 0.82 ERA was properly wrecked by the Falcons. I’m hardly leaving the sobbing corner in the dugout by now. Raccoons at 45-87 en route to not only 100, but rather 110 losses. The ABL record was 109 losses by the Loggers in 1977. These Loggers also beat the Aces 3-2 on August 29, making the Raccoons the team with the worst overall ABL record (179-277, that’s .393 if you’re not that quick to calculate that without pen and paper).

We were starting a string of 20 straight games and only had one off day remaining overall. We’d start in New York and then have two home stints and a road trip remaining. Pedro Sánz came off the DL on August 30, the off day before the 20-game string (or grind), and Dolder was sent to AAA. Whether Dolder would come back on September 1? Much more next April?

The outfield was rebuilt for the Crusaders series. Pickett had not delivered the last week and he was the one benched. Cox was moved to left, Zuniga to center and Sánz returned to right. The rotation was adjusted with the off day and Evans moved to #3 ahead of Morris.

Of course the Crusaders had better pitching and a heavy artillery regiment with Ralph Nixon, Hector Atilano, Jeremy Churchill, and Michinaga Yamada, all batting over .300, all with power, and all possibly deadly for my lame pitchers.

Then Ralph Nixon left in the third inning of the first game with an injury, taking a chunk out of the Crusaders’ power. Powell pitched not too bad, but still struggled, getting only one K over seven frames, retiring the catcher Miguel Fuentes with the K, which was the last out of his day. Then it was still a scoreless game! In fact it stayed scoreless through 12 innings, partly thanks to good pen outings by Gaston (who picked up slack left by O’Rearden) and Hatfield, before Tony Lopez delivered a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom 12th with all 3-ball counts, but still struck out two. Sánz made two great defensive plays, throwing out a runner at third and making a fabulous catch that uncaught would have lost the game with a runner on third and two out. The Raccoons scored one on a Wyatt Johnston sac fly in the top 13th. Two got on base for Lopez and he was lifted for Brett Justice with two down. Justice served Jason Short a long ball to the fence in right, where Sánz made his third sprawling defensive play to catch it and finally end the game with a 1-0 Raccoons victory, also ending a dreading 9-19 August on a high note. Two of those nine wins had been shutouts of the Crusaders.

Rosters expanded for the next day. We called up Jorge Romero (from his rehab assignement, where he was 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in four starts), reliever Ned Ray for an extra left arm (I may or may not have said I would kill him the next time he stepped into Portland), young 3B Cameron Green (who was wrecking AAA pitching at a .325, 38 HR pace), R.J. Sanderson as third catcher (he was the worst of the three AAA catchers, but the only one already on the 40-man roster), and Johan Dolder. Green was called up to play 3B regularly with Sullivan slotting over to 2B, replacing our .180 bitter Angel Costa there. Costa was strong on defense, but his hitting made me cry. To accommodate Green on the 40-man roster, Ken Miller was waived. Miller had been with the Raccoons two years ago with a 5.10 ERA, and had not improved since.

Hall started again in LF on September 1, replacing Cox, who struggled. Of course Hall struggled as well, down to .231 with his batting again. Hall was 1-4, while Green went 2-4 with a home run and 2 RBI in his debut. The Raccoons still lost, 5-3, in what was scheduled to be Gary Simmons’ last start this year with Romero back up. I was still contemplating whether to send him to AAA. And Hall as well.

Logan Evans knocked out Jeremy Churchill with a pitch in the bottom 1st of game 3, which nobody in the park was too amused about. Evans wound up with the loss, although all three runs he surrendered were unearned, while going seven innings. Raccoons lost 4-0 and STILL have not won a series since July 12-15 against the Canadiens!

Next: 11-game home stint against the Loggers (4), Canadiens (3), and Crusaders (4). Bayhawks and Condors on the road before our last off day, Titans on the road after that. Going back to the Loggers’ 1977 109-losses season – will the 1979 Raccoons break that record? Place your bets now.

In other news:
August 27 – The Rebels lose SS Riley Simon, a perennial .300+ batter, to a torn meniscus for the season.
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Old 07-22-2012, 07:50 AM   #53
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The Loggers were swept by the Canadiens while the Raccoons played the Crusaders (all 1-run games in the series in Vancouver) and dropped back behind the Raccoons in the most-horrible-team competition. Raccoons were 180-279, Loggers were 180-280 for the ages now. I wouldn’t mind avoiding the -100 for a while.

The Loggers series started like the Crusaders series three days ago, with a scoreless pitchers duel, although the participants were not usual suspects: Greg O’Brien and Jerry Morris, with ERAs over four and five, respectively. The Raccoons walked off in the bottom 9th with a leadoff home run by Ben Simon, his 21st this season, for the 1-0 win. This gave Frank O’Rearden his first ABL win after pitching the top 9th against a string of lefties. Raccoons also out-hit the Loggers a paltry 4-2, so there really was little offense.

Game 2 was Jorge Romero’s return for his first ABL start since tearing his labrum on April 25. He gave up a run in the top 1st and struggled with command early on, but settled in nicely after three or four frames. Ben Simon again provided a big shot, tying the game in the bottom 4th with a solo home run (#22, chasing the CL lead here), and it was a tied game when Romero was lifted for Ben Cox to pinch hit in the bottom 7th. Cox drove in two and the Raccoons scored five in that inning, winning the game 6-1, giving Romero his first W of the season on September 4.

We faced John Douglas in game 3. Drafted in ’78, the Loggers threw the 19 year old into the big leagues, skipping AAA entirely. So far, it hadn’t worked out and he sported an ERA of 8.87 with an 0-4 record. His stuff and movement were great, but his command was crippled. He was hard to hit, but he walked them in scores. Still, the Raccoons didn’t really get to him initially. He fanned seven over six innings, but then the Raccoons had managed a 4-2 lead. Powell was lifted for pinch hitter Hall in the bottom sixth (Hall was one of the seven K’s). We went on to win 7-2, which was just the fourth time this year the Raccoons won more than two in a row, and also made this the first series victory since July (as bitterly stated before more than once). But they didn’t get the sweep done, as the Loggers rebounded for a 7-1 win in game 4, three on Evans and then a horrible 4-run eighth over the pen.

Still, a series win was long due and the Raccoons were almost decent in the Loggers series. One issue at the moment was the left field position. Four different players started there in the four Loggers games (Hall, Flores, Pickett, and Cox, in that order), and none of them convinced in any way. Flores was batting below .190 and was out come November for the first decent deal. Pickett was the one hope I had over the youngsters. Hall’s new slump was especially worrying. He wasn’t getting anything done and didn’t even get steals executed if he walked.

The Indians atop the CL North were in full collapse since August and thus the Canadiens were now only 4 1/2 games back and in contention. They were also mildly hot and no easy task for the Raccoons, who still won the opener 4-2. Ben Simon homered twice for three RBI. Hatfield saved it, but not before loading the bags with two walks and a single. With 24 HR, Simon was now leading the Continental League in roundtrippers. He added #25 the next day, tying the game in the bottom 4th, 1-1. Jorge Romero had surrendered a solo shot to Eddy Bailey just in the top of the inning. Romero left after seven with the game tied before the pen busted it and the Raccoons lost 5-3. O’Rearden was again guilty of walking a pair and Gaston didn’t get out of there, also throwing two wild ones.

The rubber game saw Powell surrender six runs in five innings – he was just erratic again, being slapped every which way by the Canadiens. The Raccoons rallied to tie it 6-6 by the seventh. The game went to extra innings, Pedro Sánz twice failed to convert with the bags full, in the eighth and the tenth. The Raccoons again loaded the bases with one out in the bottom 11th. Third catcher R.J. Sanderson, a good bunter that had found his way into the game pinch hitting for Powell, was told to squeeze for Sullivan to score, but he missed the bunt and Sullivan was tagged out. Sanderson then grounded out to right – which would have scored Sullivan and won the game hadn’t I ordered the squeeze … (facepalm) … still at 6-6, Daniel Hall led off the bottom 12th with a double that just missed the fence. Zuniga advanced him to third on a groundout. The Canadiens waved Simon through and chose to go after Sánz. I really didn’t want him in this situation for a third time, but the bench was empty except for Costa, Dolder and Lawson by now, so in case of a bad PH appearance, I was stuck with Dolder. I pulled the trigger and sent Kieran Lawson, who had had a few good at bats as of late. He walked on a full count and Wyatt Johnston found the bases loaded with one out. A long ball wins the game – Johnston struck out, and Ed Sullivan popped out. The 14th presented another chance dropped by Johnston, and the Raccoons (especially O’Rearden) lost 7-6 in the 16th inning. And I was mentally wrecked. Raccoons out-hit the Canadiens 20-12. Out-walked them 12-5. They individually left 47 runners on base (compared to 23 for the Canadiens), which was the main issue: NO clutch hitting.

We entered the Crusaders series with a depleted (despite extended) bullpen, and didn’t get the long outing from Logan Evans we would have needed. He jammed in the sixth, but Bill Craig got out of there. Johnston provided two RBI hits early on for a 2-2 tie that was broken in the bottom 7th by Ben Simon, who continued his home run barrage with a launch to deepest center, #26 of the year. Of course, Craig now busted it and the Crusaders scored two in the eighth. Trailing 4-3, the Raccoons sent Ben Cox to pinch hit, resulting in a K, to start the bottom 9th. Hall flew out to right, leaving Zuniga. He had apparently watched Simon bash it before, because he also sent a dinger to center that tied the game at the last out. Extra innings, exactly what I wanted here. I turned to Tony Lopez, who had gone four frames just the day before. He balked in a run in the tenth and the Raccoons lost 5-4. Of course.

This was followed by a 10-2 thumping by the hands of the Crusaders, seven runs on Morris, three on Hatfield, and this in turn was followed by cleaning house. Cameron Green was sent back to AAA after batting .143, Daniel Hall followed him closely, Hatfield (3-6, 3.51 ERA) was removed from the closer role for Jenkins(!), and what else? Oh, yeah. Jerry Morris (10-12, 5.04) was released the next day. I was sick of him. Either fire him or chop him into pieces and bury him in some basement. Roman Ocasio was recalled to make the last three or four starts from that position. What did I care about four more losses from that bozo? I don’t give a forking fork.

The series ended with losses of 5-3 (three POR errors, three defensive misplays hurting an otherwise solid Romero, who nevertheless bunted into a double play…) and 12-7 (after leading 5-0 after three, and 7-4 after seven).

In other news:
September 9 – Buffaloes LF Ross Bradbury is out for the season with a biceps injury. His .294 batting clip didn’t help the team either in the battle with the 1977 champions Cyclones, who have a M# of 4.
September 11 – The Knights’ slugger Armando Delgado is out for about four weeks with a fractured rib, suffered while slamming into the fence in pursuit of a flyball in a game against the Aces.
September 12 – The Sacramento Scorpions will be in the playoffs for the second time after 1977 after a 6-0 shutout over last year’s champions, the Sioux Falls Warriors.
September 12 – The Cincinnati Cyclones clinch the Federal League East despite a 4-2 loss to the Richmond Rebels. Since the Topeka Buffaloes lose 6-5 against the Washington Capitals, the magic number still drops to zero.
September 12 – Cyclones 3B Claudio Rojas has a 20-game hitting streak going.
September 13 – A strained oblique ends the season of William Williams of the Falcons, leaving a 20-8, 2.61 ERA mark.
September 13 – An on base collision sidelines Cyclone Salvador Valle for at least four weeks.

I hate this team and I hate this game.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:18 AM   #54
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The Bayhawks shut down (and out) the Raccoons to start the penultimate interdivision series of the season, 3-0 over Logan Evans, who went six and was not bad, but not good enough to recover zero offense. Evans racked up his first hit of the season, an infield scratcher where the Bayhawks defense was more confused than outsmarted. The Raccoons rallied to win the next game 7-3, ironically a game where Ben Simon and his huge stick were rested and didn’t come into play until the ninth, pinch hitting for Angel Costa. Ray had a bad relief outing, allowing two across. The rubber game not only decided that series but also the season matchup against the Bayhawks, which was tied 4-4 so far. Romero allowed one run in seven innings, but the Raccoons were shut out again, 1-0. Not the least little bit of success allowed here, obviously.

The Condors welcomed the Raccoons for the final away series this year, eager to get revenge. They had gone 0-6 against the Raccoons in 1979 so far, but they didn’t have to worry. The Raccoons sucked their way to a 3-2 loss in game 1, doing away with that zero. The loss tied the Raccoons with the Loggers for worst teams all time at 185-289, after the latter had had the day off. We’d face off again for three as the last series this season in Portland.

But before that, we first rebounded to an 8-2 win over the Condors in the middle game. Johnston was 1-3 with 4 RBI, twice scoring a runner on a sacrifice play. The rubber game was lost 4-1, Raccoon batters whiffed 14(!) times, Condors starter Jim Harrington alone whacked 11 of them. I can’t wait for the off season to whack even more off the team. Roman Ocasio for example, who walked seven.

This was also the 100th loss for the Raccoons. The following off day the extension for Juan Berrios was completed. He was not the 4-16 pitcher he had ended up as in 1979, he was a lot better, and for ninety grand he would prove it as part of the rotation in 1980. That’s right, Juan, right? SAY THAT’S RIGHT, NOW! (chokes Berrios, has red glare in his eyes)

Good thing this season is almost over, I probably need a vacation. Ten games left, Indians, Titans, Loggers, I need two wins to stay below the 109 mark of the Loggers from ’77. Of course I want more than that, but you know that rat pack here by now. Actually, the remaining games could raise our average a bit. We were 17-27 combined against the three teams left so far this season. That’s almost .400 – yay.

But first the Raccoons were 4-hit in a shutout by Bruce Wright, whom we had traded to acquire Ben Cox and Jerry Morris, the two trash cans. Wright fanned eight. You know, Raccoons just love to go through trash cans, we couldn’t resist. Still, this was a 3-0 loss. The next day the Raccoons won 8-5. Powell struggled to a 2-2 tie after five and was lifted for Cox to pinch hit in the top 6th. That inning, the fur balls connected to wreck the Titans pitchers for six runs for an 8-2 lead which then slowly trickled away again. Jenkins got his first save opportunity in the closer role and had a 1-2-3 inning. We took the rubber game, 6-1. Costa walked three times (hitting below .190, at least his OBP was solid…). R.J. Sanderson pinch hit with the game already open 5-1 in the top 9th. He whacked the ball so hard, the double scored Costa from first, but apparently also strained Sanderson’s abdominal muscles so badly, he had to be put on the 60-day DL, ending his season. These Raccoons…

Of course, the win also meant that we would stay below the 1977 Loggers’ 109 losses. So yay for that. Next were the Indians for four games. The Indians and Crusaders were tied up 89-66, so the Indians should be pretty motivated.

As usual, you had to find a way to somehow get to their pitching. Maloney had a throwing error that scored a run early on and the Raccoons struggled to get past zero runs in the first game. Ocasio only went five frames of inconsistent struggling (yet only allowed that one unearned run), when it was (of all people) Daniel Hall, just recalled from AAA, hit a 2-run home run to turn the game in the sixth. Hatfield pitched two, Gaston one scoreless frame, when Jenkins came in to save the 2-1 game. He needed six pitches to finish off the Indians, including a K. That was three wins in a row for the Raccoons. Four was their season record.

Game 2 was special for a different reason. Jorge Romero started for the Raccoons, entering with an ERA under three, but an 1-5 record. He started off stellar and developed a bid for a perfect game, which was broken up in the sixth inning by an infield single by Jose Zavala. Romero just couldn’t get to the slow roller quick enough. His misplay unravelled him and he allowed a run in the seventh and jammed in the eighth. Gaston came in and was wrecked, four runs scored, and the Raccoons lost (and Romero) lost 6-2. Game 3 saw Powell beaten up for seven runs (a couple unearned, so he didn’t blow it alone again). 7-4 loss, but Hall regained the lead in the CL in stolen bases with 26, and Simon hit his 27th home run with two out in the bottom 9th, and Raccoons pitchers had 13 K’s.

Hall’s season ended in the fourth game with a strained hamstring. Logan Evans shut the Indians down for five innings, then suddenly imploded in the sixth. As did the Raccoons as a whole as Hatfield, Ray, and Craig were slapped around. 0-0 after the fifth, they were thrashed 11-0.

I hate this game.

One series left against the Loggers, while the Crusaders and Indians were tied up at 92-67 atop the CL North. They would go head-to-head to finish the season and decide the playoff race.

The Raccoons wouldn’t go anywhere. They lost 4-3 to the Loggers in game 1. Simon had shot a home run in the bottom 7th to go ahead 3-2, but Gaston blew and lost it. Romero pitched well in game 2, but this time Justice blew the save. O’Rearden and Hatfield were rapped for five runs in the tenth inning and the Raccoons lost 7-3. The season ended with the Raccoons being shut out 7-0 in the final game, and swept by the Loggers.

Final aggreggate records for both teams? Loggers 193-293. Raccoons 189-297. The Raccoons are the worst team ever. Final record 55-107. Pythagorean record: 65-97. Both are all time worsts.

In other news:
September 14 – Banished Jerry Morris signs with the Richmond Rebels.
September 14 – Should the Knights make the postseason, they will make it without 2B Adam Reid, who is out with a strained oblique. His .315 bat will surely be missed.
September 17 – With a 2-6 performance in a 10-8 win over the Stars, Claudio Rojas of the Cyclones has a 25-game hitting streak.
September 18 – Jeff Thompson tosses a 2-hitter as the Scorpions wreck the Capitals 17-0.
September 19 – The Aces shut out the Indians 5-0, while the Crusaders wiggle their way through a 14-inning affair in Oklahoma City to a 4-2 win. This ties up the CL North; the Indians have blown a 14-game lead they had into late June / early July.
September 21 – The Knights shut out the Condors 4-0 to clinch the CL South. It’s the first playoff appearance by Atlanta. Only the CL North remains open, where the Crusaders have a chance to go to the playoffs for the third straight time.
September 23 – Claudio Rojas reaches 30 straight games with a hit for the Cyclones.
September 24 – Scorpions CF Jorge Chavez (.288 hitter with some power) suffers a strained oblique and will miss the postseason.
September 25 – 11-9 Knights starter Dave Larson is out with ulnar nerve compression.
September 25 – Christian Hampton of the Wolves, one of the premier offensive catchers in the game, goes down with a groin injury.
September 25 – Joe Ellis hurls a two-hitter as the Falcons beat the Thunder 5-0. Ellis has 10 K’s and a walk.
September 25 – Claudio Rojas goes 1-5 in a 4-2 win over the Miners: 31 games of hitting now for the Cyclone.
September 26 – Rojas keeps going, although just barely with a 1-6 outing in a 14-7 win over the Miners.
September 27 – Another 1-hit game for Rojas, going 1-3 in a 5-4 win over the Miners.
September 28 – Rojas goes 3-5 as the Cyclones beat the Blue Sox 7-2. Hit streak at 34. In the same game, LF Chris Lynch sufferes a fractured rib and will miss the playoffs.
September 29 – Rojas has a hit in 7 AB in a 6-5 loss to the Blue Sox to get his streak to 35. Jeremiah Carrell goes down with a thumb injury, further crippling the Cyclones’ title bid.
September 29 – The Crusaders slap five home runs in an 8-1 victory over the Indians, clinching the CL North for the third time in three seasons.
September 30 – The Cyclones lost again to the Blue Sox, but Rojas kept his hitting streak alive at 36 games.

Did I mention that I hate this game?
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:37 PM   #55
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1979 PLAYOFFS

Scorpions @ Cyclones … 6-8 … (Cyclones lead 1-0) … Scorpions rally in the 9th falls short
Crusaders @ Knights … 11-5 (11) … (Crusaders lead 1-0) … Crusaders score eight in top 11th; NYC Jeremy Churchill 4-6, 1 HR, 2 RBI

Scorpions @ Cyclones … 5-1 … (series tied 1-1) … SAC Juan Correa 8 IP, 1 ER, 7 K
Crusaders @ Knights … 8-4 … (Crusaders lead 2-0) … NYC Hector Atilano 3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI;

Cyclones @ Scorpions … 1-2 … (Scorpions lead 2-1)
Knights @ Crusaders … 2-6 … (Crusaders lead 3-0) … NYC Bernard Lepore 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER

Cyclones @ Scorpions … 0-3 (Scorpions lead 3-1)
Knights @ Crusaders … 11-0 (Crusaders lead 3-1) … ATL Ricardo Hernandez 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER; ATL Engjell Vulaj 3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Cyclones @ Scorpions … 3-7 (Scorpions win 4-1) … SAC Juan Correa 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 6 K
Knights @ Crusaders … 7-4 (Crusaders lead 3-2)

Crusaders @ Knights … 10-0 … (Crusaders win 4-2) … NYC Tom Moulds 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER


1979 WORLD SERIES

Crusaders @ Scorpions … 7-3 … (Crusaders lead 1-0)

Crusaders @ Scorpions … 8-4 … (Crusaders lead 2-0)

Scorpions @ Crusaders … 6-1 … (Crusaders lead 2-1) … SAC Dave Peterson 3-5, RBI

Scorpions @ Crusaders … 8-7 … (series tied 2-2) … Scorpions rally from a 5-0 deficit after the first inning

Scorpions @ Crusaders … 4-6 (11) … (Crusaders lead 3-2) … NYC Jeremy Churchill homers for two to walk off

Crusaders @ Scorpions … 9-15 … (series tied 3-3) … SAC Jorge Reyes 2-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI; NYC Hector Atilano 3-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI

Crusaders @ Scorpions … 2-1 (11) … (Crusaders win 4-3) … SAC Juan Correa 8.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER; NYC Kyle Owens 8.2 IP, 7 H, 0 ER; Michinaga Yamada scored Hector Atilano from second to score the winning run

For the first time the World Series went to game seven, and was decided in extra innings, and for the first time the Continental League won the title.
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:30 PM   #56
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The end of the season brought news that the Portland Raccoons had been sold by lenient penny-pincher Xavier Bravo to tolerant charitable Paco Alicea. This was good news! We had sucked Bravo out of having fun with his team and now had Alicea, who actually didn’t rob the team of all the money it had made in ’79. We had a quarter million cash to start with.

Five players had expiring contracts and had not resigned by season’s end, these were MR Bill Baker, C Darryl Maloney, 1B Hoyt Cook, 2B Angel Costa, and CF Johan Dolder. Maloney was a type B free agent. We offered arbitration, but in reality I was hoping he would refuse. Lawson had been equally bad and I didn’t need two of those. The others all had arbitration figures submitted, although in the case of Dolder it was a long thought process. Baker and Costa had had horrible seasons, but had proven before that they were much better than that.

Infielder Freddy Lopez retired at age 35. He had a career line of .213, 4 HR, 37 RBI. It was not the biggest loss possible.

Tony Lopez had a $210,000 team option for 1980. This was a big pile of money for a middle reliever with an ERA of 3.58, but you had to consider one thing: his ERA was inflated from a few starts I had given to him, he had been sharp in relief by season’s end. It was a toughie, but I executed the option. I needed five right arms in the pen anyway and he was at least #4.

1979 had seen several Raccoons players in a huge slump, like Costa, Zuniga, Berrios, and even Ed Sullivan late in the season. He had been around .280 at the All Star break, but ended just over .240 after a horrible summer.

Daniel Hall had been the best base stealer (despite spending half the season between the minors and the disabled list), and Ben Simon was the league’s home run king. I still was hopeful that Hall would be able to turn things around. Those two were among the few that were not considered for trade, with Romero, Evans, Jenkins, Johnston, and maybe a few others.

What did the Raccoons need? Foremost two things, a quality starting pitcher and more offense. This meant cutting loose some stuff, and while I didn’t touch a lot of pieces last year, I was ready to ship bigger names this time (with the exceptions mentioned above).

October 31 – 2B Angel Costa receives a Gold Glove. Lucky Angel, he had no chance at a hitter’s award.
November 3 – Best pitchers are announced, the honour goes to SAC Juan “Mauler” Correa (25-8, 2.08) and OCT Ralph Hoyles (23-8, 2.50).
November 4 – MVP’s are announced: CIN Jeremiah Carrell (.394, 3 HR, 93 RBI) and Hector Atilano (.332, 14 HR, 72 RBI).

Arbitration hearings went 3-1 for the Raccoons. Baker, Dolder, and Costa received contracts of $99,000 each (albeit all of them were a bit higher than my offers), but Hoyt Cook received a $125,000 contract according to his demands. Darryl Maloney refused to go to arbitration.

The hot part of the off season was about to start. This time (and with the larger budget allotted to the team) I would aggressively pursue star free agents. This meant possibly forfeiting draft picks, but I hadn’t been too lucky with my pickings so far anyway.

November 18 – The Wolves send infielder Chris Scott and a prospect to San Francisco for outfielder Alfonso Marte and a minor leaguer. Both Scott and Marte are .300 batters.
November 25 – The first big free agent signing of the season sees the Portland Raccoons acquire former Crusaders SS Ralph Nixon. A career .333 hitter, Nixon, 33, signs a 4-year contract worth over $3.4M (last year is a team option).
December 1 – The Rebels sign former Capitals CF Jimmy Hunter, a .300+ slugger for $4M over five years.
December 1 – Three pitchers are selected in the Rule 5 draft, two by the Knights and one by the Capitals. The Raccoons are not affected.
December 2 – The Raccoons acquire C Stephano Bocci, 31, a career .295 batter with some power and good defensive capabilities, and pitching prospect Jose Nieves from the Condors in exchange for infielder Ed Sullivan (.270 with 41 HR in his career), outfielder Rob Pickett (.259 but with no power), and minor league 1B Ray Lee.
December 4 – The Raccoons send reliever Ned Ray to the Gold Sox in exchange for two (admittedly long shot) prospects in reliever Justin Neubauer and outfielder Enrico Acevedo. Neubauer *could* reach the majors, and become a lefty specialist. Or he could not.

December 5 – The Rebels send two minor leaguers to Dallas in exchange for 2B/SS Jorge Huerta.
December 6 – The Titans send infielder Paul Kavanagh and his .275 lifetime average to the Blue Sox (with a prospect tied to his back), and receive reliever Jamal Williams (ERA of 3.37 lifetime, but 4.75 last year). In turn the Titans also send reliever and occasional closer Burton Taylor to Pittsburgh for outfielder Ben Law and pitcher Dave McDormand, who has been rocked hard in the majors so far.
December 7 – The Raccoons sign free agent Daniel Mitchell to a minor league contract. Mitchell is a utility infielder and should he show hitting ability could make the transition to the majors despite being already 32.
December 13 – The Cyclones trade starter Juan Luis Maldonado (39-37, 4.13 ERA) to the Loggers for outfield slugger Tom Simmons, who has 50 career homers.
December 19 – The Scorpions land former Aces reliever Octavio Morin for $1.1M over three years. Morin has a 3.50 average and can also start or close.
December 23 – Just before Christmas the Scorpions and Cyclones agree on a trade that sends slugging CF Jack Williams to Sacramento in turn for 1B Carlos Sandoval (38 career HR) and a prospect.

Well, this means we lost our second round draft pick to the Crusaders. If someone signs Maloney, we will still get a supplemental pick, which would be just as fine (since our dismal 55-107 record gives us the first pick anyway).

Nixon is best at shortstop, so Simon will play third base next season, most likely. I will miss Ed Sullivan, his offense (except for the last two months in ’79) was good to have, but Bocci matches his numbers. Defensively the trade should help us big, since Sullivan was an error sink with almost 30 errors last year, 22 at 3B and a few at SS and 2B.

Fireworks are bursting in the sky as the 70s end with a bang and the 80s are upon us. Would it be a good decade for the Raccoons?
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:58 AM   #57
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January 2 – The Loggers sign journeyman 1B Dave Martel to a $336,000 contract for one season. Martel is a .282 hitter, but has only three home runs in his career.
January 3 – The Raccoons trade outfielder Jose Flores (.255 lifetime, but only .200 in 1979) to the Aces for pitching prospect Rich Hughes. This will be interesting. My scouts say he will become a star. OSA says he’s a bust.
January 6 – We claim C Angel Ramirez off waivers by the Las Vegas Aces and assign him to the AAA level. His AAA showings with the Aces were promising and he was a September callup, but the small sample size there doesn’t tell much. It’s highly likely that they waived him to make room for Jose Flores.

January 13 – Indians reliever Martin Hansen is out for the season after getting his hand stuck in a garage door. Hansen has a lifetime ERA of 2.43 and will surely be missed by the Indians in the 1980 season.
January 14 – The next big trade: we send defensive outfielder Johan Dolder and reliever Kevin Hatfield to the Crusaders in exchange for infielder Pedro Hermundo and two prospects. Hermundo is a career .248 hitter with a tendency to go deep, while Dolder is .203 for his three seasons with the Raccoons. Hatfield had an ERA over four the last two seasons, has proven he does not belong in the closer’s spot, and was out of control at season’s end. This gives us a very good backup infielder and in case Costa does not come around, he can start third and Simon at second. Hermundo is notable in that he had the first at bat against the Raccoons ever, hitting against Alex Miranda.
January 22 – Perhaps the biggest free agent this winter, CF Jorge Chavez formerly with the Scorpions, signs through ’86 with the Knights for $6.09M. Chavez is a .321 hitter with very good defense, but has been plagued by injuries before.
January 28 – The Raccoons claim utility infielder Bob Davis off waivers from the Atlanta Knights. He is assigned to AAA.
February 5 – RF Enrico Maldonado re-signs with the Aces, but many consider him overpaid at age 34 and a 2-year $1,084,000 contract for a powerless .301 hitter.

Preseason officially begins. A bunch of good free agents remain, but none is really fitting what I need. I would still take a starter if I found one. I need a seventh infielder, although we could use Cameron Green. We played with six infielders for most of 1979 and it was often challenging especially with Costa hitting below .200 …

Currently the majors roster has only 24 players including Roman Ocasio. I don’t think I want to keep him there once the season starts, though. He could be tried out as long man / spot starter, but I think AAA would suit him better. A backup outfield job also remains, but I’d also consider a star centerfielder if I could find one. We still have a million bucks to throw around, but in doubt could feed it into the development program and scouting department.

I messed up again with the schedule. I will play the original schedule this time (i.e. 1977 schedule), but renamed it according to the naming conventions from the online manual. For 1981 it should FINALLY rotate automatically!

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Old 07-24-2012, 05:13 PM   #58
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February 12 – Journeyman reliever Ken Williams, 35, career ERA of 3.29, joins the Bayhawks for $716,000 over two years.
February 15 – 33-year old closer Stanley Holman goes to Oregon, but not to Portland. The Salem Wolves ink Holman for three years and about $1.3M. Holman has 80 career saves, #9 on the all time leaderboard.
February 16 – Former Raccoon Ben Green gets a 3-year, $1.29M deal from the Indians. Green only appeared in four games in 1979 before a torn rotator cuff sidelined him for the year.
February 17 – It’s closer signing time, as Mike Kelly takes his 93 career saves and 1.95 ERA to the Rebels. The 34-year old will earn $1.2M over three years. He is #5 in career saves, all achieved with the Buffaloes.
February 18 – Another Crusader moves his World Series ring around, as RF Yannick Roy takes a 4-year, $2.1M offer from the Falcons.
February 26 – 41-year old slugger Paul Ramey did not get a $443,000 contract from the Rebels anymore, but the Bayhawks are willing to shovel it down his throat. Whether he can deliver another .310 season at his age, remains to be seen.
March 11 – The Raccoons ink outfielder Lynwood McFarland, 28, to a 1-year, $85,000 deal. McFarland has no previous major league exposure, but might make the opening day roster as fifth outfielder.
March 28 – The Raccoons complete their roster by signing versatile infielder Ken Clement, formerly with the Bayhawks, for $95,700. He is a career .217 hitter.


I reorganized my minors rosters in February. About 30 guys were either moved up or sent down. Two promising relievers were moved up to the AAA roster: Jason White was a right-hander with killer stuff, K’ing almost 12 per nine innings, and if he continued that way in AAA, he would find his way to the majors this year. White had been our 7th round pick in 1977. Also moved up was Grant “Demon” West, our 1st round pick from last year. He had K’ed as many per nine as White, and in 28 relief appearances in AA had accumulated 18 saves. He was 22 and had to iron out some control problems, but I saw him on the 1981 Raccoons roster if all went well.

Three players were released, but I carried too many pitchers in AA class. I was looking for a backup infielder or backup outfielder for two or three of them. It was almost a free for all, but no deal came to fruition. Jorge Rodriguez, a reliever in AAA, was the object of interest of most other teams, but I had different plans for Rodriguez. I eventually signed McFarland (see above), who can play every position on the right side of the field (first, second, center, and right).

Sadly, a starting pitcher did not materialize. We would have to rely on Berrios and Powell getting back to former strength, Evans and Romero improving a bit here and there, and everybody staying healthy. Other than last year, where only Powell did not end up on the DL among those four.

I pursuited Julio Lujan in March, another former Crusader, whom they had tried to trade to Portland several times before for varying players. I never considered him a good deal and he demanded too much money in the end.

So, we went with the cheaper Clement as backup infielder. He could play all four positions around the diamond and was at least hitting around .220 consistently, so he was not that bad. Of course we had Angel Costa to turn around. I was long contemplating whether to put him up on opening day after his dismal season – at the plate at least, he still won the Gold Glove at second base!

Opening day roster for the 1980 Portland Raccoons (first set shows 1979 numbers, second set overall; players with an * are off season acquisitions; note that the Raccoons have *one* pitcher with a winning record):

SP Jorge Romero (1-6, 2.81 ERA | 30-35, 2.91 ERA) – was out four months with an injury; when not injured, received no run support or the pen blew the lead. He has the potential to turn in a 20-win season. I really do believe that.
SP Christopher Powell (13-15, 4.08 ERA | 35-45, 3.73 ERA) – was much better than in ’78 last year, but is very erratic, bringing up 8-run outings and 3-hitters in back-to-back starts regularly
SP Juan Berrios (4-16, 4.61 ERA | 25-49, 3.90 ERA) – had a horrible year, racking up a .200 record, but still holds 50% of ABL no-hitters; needs to improve, though, or he will be sent down the river.
SP Logan Evans (3-5, 2.22 ERA | 7-9, 2.97 ERA) – injured for most of the season, has shown a lot of promise, but finally needs to stay healthy and bring in a winning season

MU Tony Lopez (3-6, 3.58 ERA, 0 SV | 5-13, 3.79 ERA, 2 SV) – ERA inflated by starting experiments, he’s best at getting you through fifth, sixth, and seventh when your starter can’t
MR Bill Baker (0-1, 8.31 ERA, 1 SV | 6-8, 3.58 ERA, 8 SV) – lefty with a horrible season, injured twice, has to turn it around again
MR Ben Craig (1-2, 3.86 ERA, 1 SV | 1-2, 3.86 ERA, 1 SV) – has been inconsistent after coming up from AAA
MR Frank O’Rearden (1-7, 3.17 ERA, 1 SV | 1-7, 3.17 ERA, 1 SV) – second lefty, also came up from AAA, will be more used as situational lefty, but high leverage situations have not been for him last year as that W-L record shows
SU Ben Jenkins (2-6, 2.61 ERA, 2 SV | 12-12, 3.89 ERA, 2 SV) – closed at the end of last year, but never got many chances.
SU Brett Justice (2-2, 3.08 ERA, 3 SV | 5-4, 2.69 ERA, 4 SV) – lefty setup, he’s mostly solid, but has a tendency to bring you that one horrible outing that makes you want to choke him for weeks to come
CL Wally Gaston (2-3, 3.02, 18 SV | 14-18, 2.67, 28 SV) – the season stands and falls with him and whether he finally has improved his control. Had a BB/K ratio below 1 last year, but still has that killer stuff.

C Stephano Bocci* (.280, 7 HR, 83 RBI | .295, 18 HR, 236 RBI) – acquired from the Condors, will be our new #1 catcher and should be a huge improvement over free agent Darryl Maloney, whose defense eroded completely last year
C Kieran Lawson (.239, 2 HR, 15 RBI | .212, 7 HR, 46 RBI) – backup catcher, occassionally defensively challenged

1B Hoyt Cook (.204, 1 HR, 18 RBI | .216, 4 HR, 42 RBI) – backup, can produce clutch hits, but inconsistent overall
1B Wyatt Johnston (.262, 8 HR, 64 RBI | .262, 41 HR, 220 RBI) – average improved again ’79, but power was down, is still a rock at age 38
2B/3B Angel Costa (.183, 0 HR, 37 RBI | .223, 1 HR, 64 RBI) – won the Gold Glove at 2B, but if his bat doesn’t pick up, he will lose his spot this year – despite a .183 clip he played all but eight games in ‘79
3B/1B/2B/SS Ben Simon (.289, 28 HR, 94 RBI | .262, 61 HR, 265 RBI) – can play everywhere on the infield and was last year’s home run king; still has clutch issues which if solved could make him a 120 RBI-guy.
1B/3B/2B/SS Ken Clement* (.218, 1 HR, 35 RBI | .217, 2 HR, 79 RBI) – utility infielder with low, but consistent batting, signed as free agent, previously with the Bayhawks
3B/SS Pedro Hermundo* (.223, 8 HR, 65 RBI | .248, 28 HR, 159 RBI) – won the ’79 WS with the Crusaders, will start 3B with Simon to 2B (or Simon SS and Nixon 2B) if Costa keeps bottoming out
SS/2B Ralph Nixon* (.324, 16 HR, 75 RBI | .333, 54 HR, 321 RBI) – ’79 WS champion with Crusaders, almost won the triple crown in ’78, he will start SS and boost the Raccoons offense big time

LF/RF Daniel Hall (.233, 13 HR, 51 RBI | .246, 18 HR, 66 RBI) – struggled throughout, ended up back in AAA a few times, was injured twice, and faces an uphill battle; his OBP was better due to a ton of walks
LF/RF/CF Ben Cox (.260, 5 HR, 19 RBI | .260, 5 HR, 19 RBI) – came in in the Morris trade prior to ’79 and has stayed and started for much of the season in LF or CF (while Morris was axed during the season), was leadoff through much of his majors stint, but Hall has better OBP
LF/CF/RF Gustavo Zuniga (.224, 8 HR, 33 RBI | .241, 12 HR, 63 RBI) – missed almost two months with an injury and struggled at the plate afterwards, will start only as backup into the season
CF/RF/1B/2B Lynwood McFarland* - signed as free agent, no majors experience, will be backup, can also play infield
RF/LF Pedro Sánz (.278, 4 HR, 50 RBI | .293, 33 HR, 179 RBI) – I love him dearly, but he is injured very often, keeping his numbers down (exact copy from last season’s opening day roster); he has to stay healthy for once; defensively has range issues, but can throw out guys at third and the plate effortlessly

The main concern with the lineup may be whom to put at #1 and #2, which was an issue last season, with all speedy guys (Hall, Cox, Zuniga, Flores) struggling at the plate and suffering low OBP. Ralph Nixon consistently has a .380 OBP, but is a slow runner and his power can be put to better use further down.

I suck at lineup construction, but I will try to be systematic about it (and feel free to correct me at wrong assumptions): Simon’s bat should put him in cleanup, where he does most damage, although his unclutchiness has been reason to worry before. Wyatt Johnston, Pedro Sánz and Ralph Nixon have big bats as well, as does Daniel Hall, when it comes to solely power. Nixon’s high OBP could be useful to put before Simon, so he’s #3, replacing Sánz there. Hall stole the most bases in ’79, which makes him a candidate to leadoff, while Sánz and Johnston will be #5 and #6.

This leaves Bocci, Cox, Hall, and Costa. Costa sucked hard last year, so he’s at the bottom of the order. Cox is also fast like Hall, but with a tendency to be caught stealing. They had much more success in double steals when Hall was ahead and the opposition tried to get the out at third than the other way round, which always failed. Bocci has a high batting average, but is slow and doesn’t draw many walks and has a lower OBP. He could still be #2.

Sigh. Whatever. We will try the following:

Opening day lineup: LF Hall – C Bocci – SS Nixon – 3B Simon – RF Sánz – 1B Johnston – CF Cox – 2B Costa – P Romero

When Lawson catches for Bocci, he will switch places with Cox. If Costa fails to click, the infield will shift to accommodate Hermundo at third. Hermundo is very quick, too, and we could drop Bocci to #8 to cleanup before the pitcher and start Hermundo in leadoff with Hall to #2.

What do I predict for this somewhat rebuilt team? The pitching is still the same, but we have two champions aboard and cut some dead weight (Dolder, Flores, Maloney). The loss of Ed Sullivan should be set off by Nixon and Hermundo multiple times. If the starters stay healthy and improve or at least hold their level (in cases other than Berrios’, who HAS to come around), then I think this team could get a lot closer to .500 than they ever have. I see the numbers 78-84 before my eyes.

Updated prospect rankings show that Cameron Green is ranked the #2 prospect in the sport (he was #34 last year)! Grant West (see above) is #27, outfielder Ken Clark #79, 1B Matt Workman #81 (was #100), all playing in AAA to start the season. The Raccoons had two Top 20 prospects last year: Daniel Hall was #3 and is no longer eligible, while Juan Martinez (#19 last year) returned to Mexico with a forked up knee to pursue a career as assistant manager of an illegal underground sweatshop. Or whatever.

Darryl Maloney went unsigned and we will not receive a supplemental pick for him. Meh.

BBN gives us +11.7 WAR over the off season, making the Raccoons the biggest gainers. Next are the Rebels (+5.5), Knights (+4.8), Loggers (+3.4), and Buffaloes (+3.1). Worst: Cyclones (-3.7), Aces (-4.4), Pacifics (-5.3), Condors (-7.5), and – uh-oh! – the champions Crusaders (-9.6). The Crusaders just fell apart with half a dozen key players either becoming free agents or being otherwise traded. The Raccoons don’t mind.

We will open the season against the Crusaders, too, starting at home against them and the Condors, before traveling to Frisco and Vancouver. First pitch coming up.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:40 PM   #59
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Romero went against Bernard Lepore to start the season. The Raccoons took the lead by scoring in the bottom 2nd after straight singles from Sánz, Johnston, and Cox. Romero collapsed in the fifth inning and left with five runs against him, but the team got him off the hook by tying the game 5-5 in the bottom of the same inning. Raccoons lost 8-6 in the end, when Daniel Hall struck out on a full count with the bags full. Oh, I sense bad things to come.

Bad things came in game 2 already. Yes, the Raccoons won 2-1, Christopher Powell picked up the win by going 7.2 innings – but he didn’t get a single K and his defense pulled him out. Daniel Hall made a sprawling catch to end the top 7th and slammed the ground hard – and never stood up, winding in pain. A strained hamstring put him on the DL for at least a month. Zuniga entered the lineup and Cox moved to left and leadoff in the order. Game 3 was a 4-2 loss. Juan Berrios was completely unable to throw strikes and it was fascinating that the Crusaders waited till the sixth to wreck him.

We called up LF/RF Sherwood Henderson from AAA to replace Hall, who had gone 0-6 with two walks in the not even two games he played in. Henderson was 25 and was hitting about .280 at every level. Of course he’d hit .145 for the Raccoons, I won’t be fooled here.

We got to see Ed Sullivan in the Condors series. He had started hitting over .400 and first entered the series as pinch hitter in the seventh with a single off Bill Craig, and later drove in the winning run for the Condors against Tony Lopez in the ninth. Logan Evans had gone six with a no-decision in a 2-2 tie that far. Raccoons lost 4-2 and were shut out 2-0 the next day. Romero went eight with both runs allowed, one unearned, the other a home run. Condors starter Hunter Frazier fanned ten Raccoons, closer Lance Parsons struck out the side in the bottom 9th.

Well, this was it for my well constructed lineup. Cox, Simon, and Bocci were batting below .200, Zuniga was batting zero, while Costa was .357 … Costa was moved to leadoff, Cox to #2, Bocci to #7, Zuniga was replaced by McFarland in #8. Costa immediately went 0-4. Raccoons lost 7-1 to be swept by the Condors.

1-5 to open the season, yeah, great, that was exactly how I imagined it … not. Hall injured, Simon and Bocci total busts so far. Six runs scored in the opener, and seven total in the five games since. This was totally disillusioning.

Berrios started to open the Bayhawks series, first road series of the season, and again relied heavily on his defense. 5 H, 3 BB, 1 K over five frames is not my dream result. He got a no-decision. In the top 8th the Raccoons loaded the bases. Kieran Lawson sac flied to score the winning run. Jenkins and Gaston nailed down the Bayhawks in the eighth and ninth to hold and save the 2-1 win. Pedro Sánz then hit the first home run for the Raccoons in game 8 of the season, a solo shot in the top 2nd to take the lead, 1-0, in game 2. The Raccoons still lost when the Bayhawks walked off 5-4 in the ninth on Baker and Craig. Sánz was 2-4 with 3 RBI.

Game 3 then was – hopefully – the breakout game for the Raccoons. Romero pitched six good innings and was lifted for a pinch hitter, allowing one run. Nixon was 4-6 with a homer and an RBI, Simon 4-5 with two RBI, Sánz 3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, Johnston 3-5, 1 HR, 5 RBI, and even Bocci found his bat for a 3-5 day. That was much too much for the Bayhawks defense, the Raccoons blew them away 12-2, winning their first series in 1980.

In total, the Raccoons had 19 hits in the game, but one had none: Angel Costa. He had dropped to .200 and it was time for a change. Simon was moved to second, and Hermundo (.375 in pinch hitting and some late replacements for Simon or Costa) came in at third. Hermundo was leadoff, what he had most of the time been at New York. The Raccoons turned north for Vancouver for four games against the Canadiens, who led the CL North with a 5-3 start, the only team over .500 there. The CL South had really owned the CL North during the first week of interdivision play, added up the CL North teams were eight games below .500!

The Raccoons led 5-1 behind a solid Powell until he was injured rushing a sling to first to collect an out. He got the out, but hurt his shoulder. O’Rearden, Craig, and Jenkins were rapped for three, two, and one run, respectively and the Raccoons lost 7-6. Powell got off lucky with a sore shoulder, but would miss his next start.

Juan Berrios’ stat line in game 2? 10 H, 3 BB, 0 K, 5 R, 5 ER in 2.1 IP. Raccoons were miserable, had six hits themselves and lost 7-2. Jose Salgado entered with an ERA of 11 but went the distance for the Canadiens. Much different the game 3 line of Logan Evans: 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 R in 7 IP. Raccoons shut out the Canadiens 2-0 with Jenkins and Gaston again working to end it without damage.

Without damage was also Pedro Hermundo. He had not gotten a hit since entering the lineup. Cox was also dead cold. Bocci had started hitting and gotten over .200, so he was switched to #2 with Cox. CF was a mess with neither McFarland nor Zuniga doing any damage.

While the Raccoons shut out the Canadiens once more, 4-0, to split the 4-game series, there were more sour sides to it. Pedro Hermundo had slapped face first from .375 to .212 starting at 3B. While Ralph Nixon had made a splash so far with a line of .415, 2 HR, 6 RBI, Hermundo was struggling now. As did every centerfielder I had. Cox was at .192 (although he started LF now that Hall was down), McFarland .111, and Zuniga .105 – oh, just which one to choose!

Jorge Romero earned the win with six scoreless, but had to work 109 pitches to get that far, struggling with command. Just one walk, but many full counts. And then there was Bill Baker, who entered in the seventh and left in the seventh. He was down with a strained shoulder and would head to the DL until June. We called up Gary Simmons.

In other news:
April 7 – There was something about Claudio Rojas, right? His hitting streak continues to 37 games, going 1-4 on opening day against the Blue Sox. Cyclones win 6-3.
April 8 – Rojas 2-4 against Blue Sox in a 4-3 loss, hit streak to 38.
April 9 – Rojas 1-4 against Blue Sox, as the Cyclones win 6-5, hit streak to 39.
April 11 – Warriors starter Jaime Cano, 24, goes down to a torn flexor tendon. Cano, 17-19 with a 4.54 ERA in the majors, will miss at least 14 months, if he ever comes back.
April 11 – The Crusaders trash the Gold Sox 17-8, with Claudio Rojas going 3-7 with two RBI’s.
April 12 – It’s over!! The Gold Sox nail down Claudio Rojas, who goes 0-5 and has his hitting streak terminate at 40 games, dating back to last August. This is by far the longest ABL hitting streak.

Two week home stint up next against the Indians (they’re their usual all pitching, no scoring selfs), Thunder, Knights, and Crusaders. By the way, the Raccoons are now 194-305 overall with the 2-0 shutout by the Condors having been loss #300.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:45 AM   #60
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You are not in last place! You are only 2 games off the lead! You have money now.

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