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Old 06-29-2019, 03:20 PM   #2901
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Westheim (06-30-2019)
Old 06-30-2019, 11:14 AM   #2902
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2031 DRAFT POOL ANALYSIS

Thanks to … uhm, cunning strategy and solid planning? … the Raccoons had a great set of draft picks for the 2031 this year’s teen and post-teen boys raffle at league headquarters in June. Earning the #5 pick through on-field performance and the #15 and #28 picks by resisting the urge to offer a contract to Kevin Harenberg, the Critters were set up well to make a difference for themselves down the road.

Now we just had to sort out those draftees, isn’t that right, Gustavo? Uh, you, you over there. – Yes, scout. – What do you mean, your name is not Gustavo?

As it was good custom around here, we had not only prepared a list of 101 young players we were at least some sort of interested in, but also a hotlist with a dozen or so guys that looked like they could go really high in the draft, and that we were also really high on (*denotes high school player):

SP Chris Crowell (13/14/14) * – BNN #9
SP Mark Holliday (11/14/11) – BNN #7
SP Denny Marsh (12/11/12)
SP Al Scott (11/14/9) – BNN #1

CL Austin Holt (18/14/12)

1B Chris Delagrange (10/14/14) – BNN #5
1B/LF/RF Will Luna (12/11/7) *
1B/RF/LF John Marz (13/9/7) * – BNN #8

OF Manny Fernandez (12/10/9)
OF Ryan Murray (12/11/14) – BNN #2
OF Joe Ritchey (13/10/16) * – BNN #6

There was something to say about a few of these, for example BNN’s #1 selection, southpaw Al Scott from Fort Worth, Texas, who had a huge arsenal to pick from and looked like he would definitely find a role in a big league rotation not too far into the future, but we were quite concerned about his lack of stamina, and stamina was not usually something that would get better for a 21-year-old.

Here we were a lot more into California right-hander Chris Crowell, 19, who had four pitches, knew how to generate groundballs, and had plenty of stamina to be pushed deep into games. I also liked his control much better.

There was however the question whether the Raccoons – given the opportunity at #5 – should seek a starting pitcher at all; we arguably already had almost a full rotation of legit SP prospects working their way up the system. Bats however were few and far between in the farm system. We had traded quite well for f.e. Chris Wallace in the last 12 months, but there was nothing quite like drafting a young slugger and seeing him grow, knowing he was all yours. This is not a slight to pitching prospects; I have loved my Brownies. But does anybody remember the last Coons-picked position player gem that had a successful career? I mean, since Matt Nunley… have we had *anybody*? [Ramos was of course not a draft pick, but taken in the IFA selection process.]

There was a pair of corner players with nearly identical skill sets on the hotlist in Luna and Marz. With that I mean good contact bats with power, while being of negligible defensive prowess. Neither was likely to grow into a big league outfielder, even at the close-your-eyes-and-listen-to-the-crowd-noise position, leftfield. Marz was a righty batter, Luna a lefty. Both were potential error sinks. Neither was in the upper half of the hotlist, but it was not outlandish for us to consider either one at #15.

Nope, I was really eyeing the triplet of versatile outfielders on the hotlist. All three of them had good contact abilities, decent power potential, strong defense, strong running legs for base stealing, and all three of them could potentially bring you tons of joy. If you ordered them this way – Ritchey, Murray, Fernandez – then you had more defense on the right, and more of an on-base racing threat (like Ramos) on the left. Ritchey *did* like to fish (and was the only right-handed batter in the trio), but he was also the only high school boy in the set and we’d have the most time beating it out of him.

I think we’re likely to make a selection from those three if the competition will allow us. It’s hard to say whether any of them will actually be around at #5, which would require two teams to select somebody else ahead of us. I thought Crowell was probably a top selection, and obvious future closers were rare, so there was also value to Holt. Delagrange was also a legit slugging prospect, but was also limited to first base.

No, I have a really hard time predicting the top picks here. Which of the three outfielders would be my favorite? I like Murray’s build, but his lead over the other two is at most two whiskers at this stage, and there’s a few more weeks to the draft.
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pgjocki (06-30-2019)
Old 07-03-2019, 09:22 PM   #2903
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Raccoons (18-24) @ Bayhawks (17-26) – May 27-29, 2031

Two crummy teams met at the Bay, with both of them already 12 or more games out in their divisions. The Bayhawks blamed it all on offense; their pitching was well enough, but their hitters weren’t hitting, flat out. They had scored only 127 runs in 43 games, which does sound low, and turns out to be fewer than THREE runs per game. Catcher Jimmy Wood led the team with five homers and 21 RBI. Maybe this was the time to break our spell against San Fran, who had taken the season series from the Coons for four straight years, winning five games out of nine in 2030.

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (3-1, 2.85 ERA) vs. Guillermo Regalado (4-4, 3.60 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (1-5, 5.64 ERA) vs. Abramo Archibugi (3-4, 2.51 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-3, 3.72 ERA) vs. Matt Huf (3-6, 3.96 ERA)

The Critters flicked two pairs of pitchers in the rotation, utilizing the Monday off day. Martinez moved ahead of Rico Gutierrez, and Mark Roberts moved ahead of Ed Hague to face his once-upon-a-time team. We expected to see their only southpaw, Archibugi, although they could also do some spin-o-rama…

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Vanatti – P Martinez
SFB: 2B J. Cruz – 1B Caraballo – RF Suhay – C J. Wood – 3B D. Myers – CF Chaplin – LF Hawthorne – SS Pulido – P Regalado

While the Critters had Jarod Howden thrown out at home plate to end the top of the second inning on Elias Tovias’ double to right – what were we supposed to do? Wait for Vanatti to drive in a run?? – the Bayhawks had the bags full and nobody out to begin the bottom of the same inning. Dave Myers singled to center; Mike Chaplin hit a ground-rule double; and Martinez couldn’t be arsed to throw a strike to George Hawthorne at all. Jose Pulido’s fly in deep left beat Rich Hereford by a good margin for a 2-run double before Regalado and Tomas Caraballo struck out, sandwiching a sad Jose Cruz pop on the infield. The repulsive all-or-nothing hitter Ben Suhay rolled ALL with his die in the third, hitting a solo jack to left and burying the Coons down 3-0. Well, the good news – that’s their daily allotment! Now we can rally past them. The fourth saw Tim Stalker land a leadoff double and be scored on consecutive productive groundouts, but otherwise the Raccoons offered precious little against the Nicaraguan righty opposing them. We had only three base knocks through five innings, but then suddenly added three more in the sixth to create a pinch for the Baybirds. Ramos opened the sixth being robbed by Suhay of extra bases on a vicious liner. Stalker then dropped a single, was forced out by Jimmy Wallace, but Hereford and Nunley hit consecutive singles to the left side to bring Wallace around and cut the gap to 3-2. Jarod Howden had a solid chance to bring the Coons to the top end of the scoreboard here, but poked too eagerly and grounded out to Cruz to end the inning.

Cruz went on to knock out Martinez with an RBI double in the bottom 7th. Pulido had already opened the inning with a double. The Critters used David Fernandez and Chris Wise to wiggle out of the inning on a pair of strikeouts to Caraballo and Suhay (NOTHING!), so the Bayhawks didn’t get further out than two runs, a lead that soon started to melt again. Ramos flew out to begin the eighth (deep rut here…), but Regalado nailed Stalker, then threw a wild pitch. Stalker jogged home when Jimmy Wallace doubled into the corner in left, 4-3, but was stranded when both Hereford and Nunley grounded out. Wise held on in the eighth, and the Coons faced their former flock mate Dan McLin in the ninth inning, which was a weird choice, since McLin had never been great, rarely good, and was walking more batters than he struck out. Oh if only the Raccoons would have gotten the memo. Howden, Tovias, Jamieson all poked in the ninth – all three flew out easily. 4-3 Bayhawks. Stalker 2-3, 2B; Tovias 2-4, 2B;

Okay, glazing cake with the scouting report didn’t work. They just gobbled it up. Back to the drawing board.

No, Matt, I don’t have cake. – I just talked about cake. – Get your claws off me …!

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – 1B Howden – C Leal – CF Catella – 2B Baldwin – P Gutierrez
SFB: 2B J. Cruz – 1B Dupuis – RF Suhay – C J. Wood – LF Hawthorne – 3B D. Myers – SS M. Martin – CF Chaplin – P Archibugi

The Raccoons unfurled a 3-spot in the opening inning with Stalker and Jamieson setting the table with singles before the 4-5-6 batters each cashed a runner. Rich Hereford hit an RBI double past Hawthorne, Jarod Howden dropped an RBI single in front of Hawthorne, and Armando Leal hit a sac fly. Then the league-wide experiment of how many runs it would take for the Coons to dump Rico Gutierrez and his albatross contract in the nearest river continued. Jon Dupuis, not even batting .200, launched a real rocket right in the bottom 1st for a solo homer. Mike Chaplin missed a 2-out RBI double to score Mike Martin in the bottom 2nd only because Sean Catella made a flying catch that was all over the highlights for the next two days. In the third, at least, Rico got a highlight, picking Jose Cruz off first base to end the frame.

While the outfielders got their work in, and the Coons might still beat the Baybirds despite Rico on account of Archibugi’s higher rate of decomposing, Gutierrez’ pitching remained worrisome. At least the outfielders got their work in, and Rico got his 11th K in almost 50 innings when Suhay came up with NOTHING. In the fifth, the Coons added an unearned run to their tally, Stalker scoring on a Jamieson sac fly after initially reaching base on a 2-base throwing error by Myers. Bottom 5th, there were two out and nobody on when Jamieson couldn’t get to a Chaplin double. At least that brought the pitcher’s spot up. Archibugi was 2-for-19 and generally not much of a threat, at least until he belted an 0-2 pitch and buried it in the depths of the alley in left-center, and since the outfield had played rather shallow to curtail bloop singles, Archibugi wound up with a 2-out RBI triple. Cruz singled him in on the very next pitch, it was a 4-3 game, and the bullpen began to stir with 58 pitches on Gutierrez’ clock – too many already! Dupuis flew out to Catella to prevent an immediate collapse, and in the sixth Rico struck out Suhay again AND Jimmy Wood on top of that. Hawthorne walked, but Catella caught a Myers fly to end the inning. Come the seventh, Archibugi fell behind basically everybody. Stalker hit a leadoff single, Wallace flew out. Jamieson walked in a full count, and Hereford and Howden dropped back-to-back RBI knocks, a single and a double respectively. That got us to 6-3, two in scoring position, and one out. With Leal in the box, the Bayhawks didn’t make a move, probably because they expected the Critters to make one with a chance for the knockout blow. We made no move in fact, and then the Baybirds chirped in agitated fashion and walked the .216 menace Leal intentionally to load the bases. Then they sent for right-hander Jesus Blanco. The Coons launced Alberto Ramos from the dugout immediately, batting for Sean Catella. He worked a full count into a run-scoring walk, 7-3, and then Nunley batted for an 0-for-3 Baldwin and hit a sac fly. Vanatti batted for Gutierrez and poked an RBI single to right, 9-3. Stalker finally grounded out, ending the 5-run inning. That was the ballgame for all intents and purposes. The Coons added a pair of runs on a Howden double in the eighth, Wallace and Hereford scoring, and the Coons got two clean innings from Nick Derks and a serviceable one from Fleischer, who allowed a run for a leadoff double by Dave Myers in the bottom of the ninth, but the score was not notably changed by it. 11-4 Raccoons. Stalker 2-6; Wallace 2-4, BB; Hereford 2-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Howden 4-5, 2 2B, 4 RBI; Ramos (PH) 0-1, BB, RBI; Vanatti (PH) 1-2, RBI; Derks 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Vanatti – P Roberts
SFB: 2B J. Cruz – 1B Dupuis – RF Suhay – C J. Wood – LF Hawthorne – 3B D. Myers – SS Pulido – CF Chaplin – P Huf

Huf, who had been part of the package for Roberts almost a decade ago, got whisked for four runs in the opening frame, which started innocently enough with a Ramos Special that was completed with a Wallace single with one out, but then blossomed once the Coons kept hitting away. Hereford hit a double, Nunley reached on an infield single when Huf took too long to look and threaten Wallace back to third base, and Howden hit a sac fly. Just when we seemed done, Elias Tovias walked in a full count to restock the bags, and Vanatti clubbed in two with a double to left. Tovias struck out because Roberts was one of the best-hitting pitcher and why get your lead-footed catchers mauled at home plate in the first place? Roberts struck out, stranding two, then served up a homer to Jose Cruz on his second pitch of the game. Dave Myers launched a homer of his own in the bottom 2nd, and with one out Pulido singled and was doubled home by Chaplin, 4-3, and Chaplin didn’t miss a game-tying homer by much, either… instead, Jon Dupuis completed the uncomfortably quick comeback with a leadoff jack in the third inning. Hey, Roberts!! I remember a time when nobody could hit a homer in this dump!! – Why are all the Bayhawks guys glaring at me?

Neither pitcher lived long in this game. There was a brief delay for a quick shower in the fourth, which didn’t mess up much since everything was already a mess in a 4-4 game. The Coons finally hit a homer of their own, a 2-run shot by Rich Hereford that would knock out Huf in the top of the fifth. Roberts had to get through the top of the order now to at least qualify for a tainted version of a W, but offered a leadoff walk to Cruz before throwing a fat 0-2 putch to Dupuis that was also turned into a souvenir for some ugly little boy in the leftfield stands. As the crowd gave the bespectacled and freckled elementary schooler a standing ovation for making a clean catch on the game-tying homer, I, without much effort, broke my glass of booze in my right hand, and for the next few innings had the shards removed from the hand that was stitched and bandaged up by a medical attendant that repeatedly asked me whether it hurt, and I always answered truthfully that it hurt nowhere near as much as watching this goddamn team every single ****ing day. Roberts was yanked after giving up a 6-6 score (and Jon Dupuis was now 3-for-6 in the series, every hit a homer). The Coons would leave runners on the corners when Tovias struck out in the seventh, then had their pen collapse in the bottom of the same inning. Garavito had pitched the bottom 6th already, then allowed a leadoff single to Cruz in the seventh. Ricky Ohl came on, but continued to simply suck, allowing hard hits to PH Joseph McClenon, Wood, and PH Caraballo, which was good enough for two runs. Myers whiffed for the second out before Fernandez replaced Ohl against the switch-hitting Pulido, who popped out to strand two, but now in an 8-6 game. The Coons got Leal on base with a 1-out single in the eighth inning, hit out of the #9 hole. Ramos forced him out, then was caught stealing. Top 9th, McLin was back in the fray, facing the 2-3-4 batters. The Coons let themselves be retired on five pitches… 8-6 Bayhawks. Hereford 3-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Leal 1-1;

Raccoons (19-26) @ Condors (33-15) – May 30-June 1, 2031

Amid the sea of stats that explained why the Coons would not suddenly turn to winning in this weekend set, this one stood out: the Loggers had just completed a 3-game sweep of the Loggers, and had allowed only TWO runs in that series. What the heck were we supposed to do? Would we score at all? The Condors were second in runs scored, second in runs allowed, second in starters’ ERA, second in bullpen ERA, had the best defense and the most homers, and only a lousy 2-1 edge in the season series…

Projected matchups:
Ed Hague (2-2, 5.73 ERA) vs. Jorge Villalobos (5-1, 1.40 ERA)
Jason Gurney (1-1, 3.12 ERA) vs. Joe Perry (3-2, 3.02 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-2, 3.23 ERA) vs. George Griffin (5-2, 3.12 ERA)

Southpaw in the middle of the series. They had two more we’d miss, including undefeated Jeff Little (6-0, 1.57 ERA), whose ERA screamed out league leader, but he wasn’t even first on his own team …! Villalobos led the league in ERA, and in between the two Vultures sat Milwaukee’s Mike Hodge with a 1.44 mark.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Catella – P Hague
TIJ: C Zarate – SS O. Camacho – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – RF C. Murphy – 2B C. Miller – LF Palbes – CF Sung – P Villalobos

The first time through, neither team had much to show for. Both had two base hits, although the Coons’ most impressive at-bat was actually a deep fly out by Elias Tovias to Juan Palbes in the second inning. Beleaguered Ed Hague struck out the side in his half of the second inning. The Critters actually reached second base not until the fourth, and then in unearned fashion, when Jimmy Wallace was put there to begin the inning thanks to a throwing error by Chris Miller. Hereford walked on base behind him, giving the Critters a decently-sized scoring opportunity, especially since Villalobos kept unravelling and walked Matt Nunley on four pitches. Three on, no outs, and how about lighting a fire under the league ERA leader’s bum now? Nope, Villalobos’ ERA would go nothing but down… but this came back to the Miller error at the top of the frame. Granted, Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, hitting into a run-scoring double play did little to further our cause, but at least Tovias got a clean 2-out RBI single in, too. Of course both runs were unearned. Catella ended the inning with a grounder to short.

By the fifth, the Condors lost Chris Murphy to injury on a tumbling play to catch an Ed Hague fly. Hague remained oh-for-plenty with the stick this year, but Murphy was the one stretchered off, with Willie Ojeda the replacement. The 19-year-old, highly touted outfielder, who was rumored to be having bis breakout any minute now, but was batting .209 coming into the series, struck out to begin the bottom 5th and grounded out to end the seventh. In between, Hague allowed only a Palbes single, and a near-game-tying-homer to Yeong-ha Sung that Chris Wallace caught right at the fence in the fifth. Through seven innings, the Critters continued to show no serious bid to score an earned run, but at least Hague nursed the 2-0 lead. He got Miller to ground out to begin the bottom 8th, then was replaced with Garavito for the bottom of the order, beginning with the left-handed batting Palbes, and also for having reached 99 pitches already without much of a whiff to complete the game. Garavito at once put the tying runs on the corners with two vicious line drive base hits by Palbes and Sung, and on only three pitches. The Critters scrambled for Ricky Ohl against PH Juan Camps, who legged out an infield roller for an RBI single. Danny Zarate flew out to Jamieson; Omar Camacho bounced out to Hereford to let the Critters off the hook in the eighth. An even better attempt at blowing the game was delivered by Josh Boles in the ninth. Still up merely 2-1, Boles walked not only the despicable skunk weasel Shane Sanks to start the inning (and on four pitches…), but also Kevin McGrath in a full count after that. Ojeda grounded into a fielder’s choice at second base, meaning Sanks moved to third with the tying run. Chris Miller hit a fly to shallow right-center in a 1-1 count then, with Wallace having to race hard to be able to make a catch. Sanks was sent by the Condors, with Wallace’s momentum carrying him into centerfield, but the Coons rookie managed to throw the anchor and kept a great throw off to home plate. The ball reached Tovias on one perfect bounce, Tovias threw himself into the sliding Sanks, and the runner was … OUT!! 2-1 Critters! Ramos 2-4; Howden 2-3, BB; Hague 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, W (3-2);

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Hereford – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 1B Howden – CF Baldwin – P Gurney
TIJ: C Zarate – SS O. Camacho – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – 2B C. Miller – CF Sung – RF Camps – LF Palbes – P Perry

Jason Gurney was involved in two rather intense bases-loaded situations in the early innings, the first of which came as a batter after the Critters had flocked to occupy all the bases with two 2-out singles by Tovias and Howden, and Baldwin being simply nailed, which was the only recognized way to reach base currently available to him. Gurney struck out to strand them all, eviscerated by Perry with breaking pitches. While the Condors took a 1-0 lead on a line drive homer by Juan Camps in the bottom 2nd, they had an even better chance in the third, which saw Zarate and Camacho reach with base hits, Sanks filling them up on balls, and there was only one out against Kevin McGrath, who had 12 homers and three times as many RBI. He was also a bit too eager to get more numbers into his tally and hacked through three pitches by Gurney to take a very somber walk back to the dugout before Chris Miller flew out easily to Baldwin to strand three. McGrath only found success his next time around, with a solo homer in the fifth inning.

Gurney pitched seven innings without allowing more damage, and outlasted Joe Perry by a full inning, which didn’t mean that much since Perry had about the least stamina of any notable starting pitcher in the league right now.* The Coons still had to crack the scoreboard in a meaningful way when they got to see the bullpen. George Barnett retired them in orderly fashion in the seventh, but in the eighth allowed a pinch-hit leadoff single to Joe Vanatti. On came Ken Kramer, who walked Ramos, then disappeared immediately in favor of Pat Selby, a right-hander and recently a closer. Tim Stalker grounded up the middle, Camacho was probably going to turn two as he picked up the roller near the bag, but lost it in the transfer and retired nobody at all; the error loaded the bases with no Coon retired. Jamieson struck out. Hereford struck out. Nunley put a quick bouncer into play… right at Miller for the third out. The ninth was much less dramatic; Tovias, Howden, and Wallace went down in order against Erik David. 2-0 Condors. Howden 2-4; Vanatti (PH) 1-1; Gurney 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, L (1-2);

I see that the bookies are not going to pay out a lot of money if you were mean enough to wager against the Raccoons coming up with an earned run in this series…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Martinez
TIJ: LF Palbes – SS O. Camacho – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – 2B C. Miller – RF Camps – C Wool – CF Sung – P Griffin

Coons offense continued to be indeed non-existent. They had two base hits through five innings, and no runner reaching third base. Martinez did his best in channeling Odilon’s Strength, but gave up a run on singles by Camacho, McGrath, and Miller in the first, and another one on a Palbes double, stolen base, and Sanks sac fly in the third for a 2-0 deficit. While Martinez kept scratching and clawing to keep the Condors close, including stranding Wool and Sung in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, he was still no match for Griffin, who retired the miserable Coons in order in the sixth, seventh, and eighth, and was probably hoping for some tack-on offense so that management would allow him to complete a shutout. No extra run came about as Martinez completed eight innings on 111 pitches, working around a 2-out walk to McGrath to get a groundout to Nunley from Chris Miller. Thus, no shot at glory for Griffin – he was replaced with Ray Andrews and his 1.89 ERA in the ninth inning. The #8 slot was up to begin the inning, but the Critters went to the bench. Catella batted for Leal and grounded out to short on the first pitch. Rich Hereford batted for Martinez and laced a 1-0 pitch into the rightfield corner for a double – by far the most impressive Critters at-bat for about two hours. But of course it wasn’t enough. Ramos grounded out to short. Stalker grounded out to Sanks. 2-0 Condors. Howden 2-3, 2B; Hereford (PH) 1-1, 2B; Martinez 8.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, L (3-3);

Talk about losing with the least possible amount of effort. Condors pitchers threw all of 98 pitches and the loss was in the books in a hurry, taking barely over two hours, 2:09 to be exact. The entire series was completed in 7:16.

In other news

May 27 – Indians reliever Marcus Owens (4-1, 1.35 ERA, 7 SV) achieves eternal shame for ending the Indians’ 11-inning affair in Las Vegas by hitting the batter with the bases loaded, resulting in a 3-2 Aces win. That batter is the game’s official winner, LVA MR J.J. Rodd (1-0, 0.00 ERA).
May 29 – IND SP Andy Bressner (5-6, 2.18 ERA) 3-hits the Aces in a 3-0 shutout. It is the third complete game and second shutout for the 25-year-old right-hander this season.
May 31 – 19-year-old DAL INF Jon Ramos (.356, 2 HR, 13 RBI) stuns the league by hitting for the cycle in a 12-2 Stars win over the Cyclones. The sophomore doubles in the first, triples in the second, singles in the sixth, and completes the cycle with a solo home run off CIN MR Sean Rhinehart (0-1, 11.25 ERA) in the seventh inning. This is the 80th cycle in ABL history, and the ninth for the Stars, who most recently had seen Josh Wool hit for the cycle in 2025, then as now in Cincinnati.
June 1 – In the second instance of a walkoff hit-by pitch of the week, BOS MR Tim Zimmerman (2-1, 6.10 ERA, 1 SV) drills Las Vegas’ Nick Hatley (.229, 1 HR, 10 RBI) with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to give away the game to the Aces, 2-1. Zimmerman actually hits two batters in the inning, with LVA C Mike Pizzo (.263, 1 HR, 6 RBI) the prior victim.
June 1 – The Falcons are out-hit 11-2 by the Crusades, but win the game anyway, 3-2, on a single stroke by LF/RF Barend Kok (.207, 2 HR, 14 RBI) for a 3-run home run off NYC SP Keith Roofener (2-5, 5.53 ERA) in the eighth inning.

Complaints and stuff

Jimmy Wallace hit only .255 with 4 dingers and 18 RBI in May, but that was enough to come up with his second Rookie of the Month belt. Is the field that week in the CL?

Rico Gutierrez says that he is very worried about his performance. He should relax. It’s not like we are going to pay him out the remainder of his very regrettable contract this week or next… no, I really wonder what he has to worry about – besides, of course, the three guys he’s put on base and the .217 sod wiggling the stick and drooling in the batter’s box.

If you look at the stats carefully, you will notice that we are more games under .500 than runs under .500 … I hope Nick Valdes will not look at the stats, because it could reflect badly on management. (casually pours an assortment of colorful pills into a half-empty bottle of Capt’n Coma)

Fun Fact: The Dallas Stars lead all ABL teams with nine cycles in their name, and while they play in a shoebox in Texas have actually hit for more cycles on the road than at home.

It’s 5-4 in that regard. However, of the five cycles hit *against* them, four have occurred in Dallas. For all the cycles, no pitcher has ever tossed a no-hitter in a game involving the Dallas Stars… except for the combined no-hitter put in by Chris Klein and Ron Thrasher of the 2023 Titans. That one even occurred in Texas.

No player with Raccoons ties ever hit a cycle for the Stars, but one did so against them. The Wolves’ Carlos León hit for two cycles in the 1982 season – the only player to achieve that feat, though not the only player to hit for two cycles in 12 months (LVA Ricardo Garcia, 2009-2010) – including against the Stars on August 24 of that year. León would play his final major league season with the Critters in 1987, hitting .272 with six homers and 38 RBI in 459 at-bats, which wasn’t *bad*, but not enough to help the Coons not lose the division by one game.

Joe Perry’s stamina is 6 (on a 20 scale), which is about the bare minimum to have a viable starter at all. It shows in his innings totals; in 2030 he made 30 starts and pitched only 184.1 innings for a 15-6 record and 2.69 ERA. Those were the most innings pitched of his career; in 2028 he averaged fewer than six innings per start f.e.
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Old 07-05-2019, 05:18 PM   #2904
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Raccoons (20-28) vs. Falcons (17-33) – June 2-4, 2031

Two hopeless teams would meet in Portland by Monday. The Falcons, who were up 2-1 on the Raccoons this season, had the worst team batting average in the CL at .225, and were scoring just 3.5 runs per game. They were also in the bottom three in runs allowed, although they did have a crisp bullpen. Yet, just like the Critters’ own relief corps, that bullpen mostly only served to keep losing games close enough for prolonged disappointment and increased agony…

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (2-5, 5.51 ERA) vs. Aaron Lewis (4-4, 2.58 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-3, 4.35 ERA) vs. Nate Ziemke (2-7, 4.54 ERA)
Ed Hague (3-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Jim Tierney (3-4, 4.72 ERA)

We expected three right-handers here, although Tierney was also laboring on a mild oblique strain that had nevertheless limited him to 11 pitches in his previous start. It was unknown whether he would be able to go on Wednesday.

In town without a doubt was however our dear owner, Nick Valdes, and this time he had company with him, a female “companion” that was about half his age. He introduced her to me as Ms. Tootsie DeVilane, industrial heiress and soul mate, and maybe she could talk her richer-than-God father into sponsoring some of our outfield walls. Oh, and her dearest friends had permission to call her “Toots”. He then turned to ask her whether she considered me worthy of calling her “Toots”, but I quickly interceded and declared that I would rather address her as “Ms. DeVilane”.

Game 1
CHA: CF N. Nelson – 2B Cano – LF Salto – RF Kok – 3B G. Ortiz – C M. Cooper – 1B J. Elliott – SS Eisenberg – P A. Lewis
POR: SS Ramos – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – CF Catella – P Gutierrez

The endless well of good vibes that was Rico Gutierrez sprung two second-inning runs for the Falcons that were borderline dumb, as usual, with Hereford blatantly missing a Matt Cooper roller with two outs for a single, John Elliott hitting an RBI double, and when we let Rico face the .144 menace that was Frank Eisenberg, the shortstop smacked one up the middle for an RBI single. He made it all the way to third, reaching second on the throw home by Catella, and then third base on a wild pitch that Gutierrez threw to his opponent, who ended up rolling out to Ramos. Toots – I mean, Ms. DeVilane was also disappointment that we didn’t hand out hors d’oeuvres to our very important guests. Apparently see didn’t see the bowls of chocolates and cookies distributed all over the place. Lady, if you wanna make it through the day with this team, you gotta go by volume! (unscrews another bottle of Capt’n Coma)

Portland had a little counter going in the bottom of the second, where Catella found Howden and Tovias (who had forced Nunley on a fielder’s choice) on the corners with one out and clipped a single just past Ricky Cano to get the first Coons run across. Rico Gutierrez bunted the runners into scoring position, and then Ramos stopped struggling for a second and hit a clean single to right that flipped the score. He even took second by hindpaw power, but was stranded when Matt Jamieson grounded out. Upsettingly, the lead didn’t last even one inning, with Graciano Salto hitting a no-doubt equalizer off Gutierrez right in the top of the third… The fifth inning would be Gutierrez’ last in the game. He retired Lewis on a nasty fly to left to start the frame, and never sat down a batter again. Nate Nelson with a single and Cano and Salto with a pair of walks loaded the bags, and Barend Kok’s RBI single and Greg Ortiz’ 2-run single gave the Falcons a sizable lead. Fleischer replaced the utterly useless starter, walked Matt Cooper on four pitches, then surrendered Gutierrez’ runs on a John Elliott single, closing his line at 4.1 innings and a mere eight runs. Eisenberg popped out, but Lewis even hit a 2-out single to load the bases. Jamieson caught a Nelson fly in the gap to end the meltdown inning, with the Raccoons assumed irretrievably behind, 8-3. In a twist, Aaron Lewis would not earn the win – he put Ramos on with a leadoff single in the bottom 5th, Jamieson reached on an error, and Jimmy Wallace mashed a 3-piece to get the Coons back to 8-6, leading the Falcons to cull their guy and instead parade the bullpen into the box score. But that didn’t mean the Falcons wouldn’t get the win. The pen immediately was effective and the Raccoons struggled to get a paw on base, while Nick Derks served up a solo homer to Ortiz in the seventh, stretching the score to 9-6. Come the bottom 9th, the Falcons would have right-hander Josh Pillsbury in the game to face the 2-3-4 batters. Jamieson opened with a single to center, which was that false hope narrative being spun again. Wallace grounded out, advancing the runner into second, from where he scored when Nate Nelson couldn’t get back quick enough for Hereford’s long fly to center that ended up an RBI double, 9-7. Nelson did catch Howden’s fly to center, though, which made Matt Nunley the Critters’ last hope. He grounded out to Eisenberg. 9-7 Falcons. Ramos 2-5, 2 RBI; Wallace 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Catella 2-2, 2 BB, RBI;

Looking for something, anything positive, at least they wiggled as the Falcons removed their kidneys. Also, Ricky Ohl looked sharp for the first time all year, whiffing two in a meaningless top of the ninth.

I was not quite done yet burrowing my paws into a cookie jar after the game, though, when word reached me of commotion in the clubhouse. Apparently Tootsie had parked herself in the locker room and had personally tried to inspect the players as they came out of the showers, commending at least one unassuming rookie on his striped tail.

I *could* deal with that personally… but first l-lemme see wh-what the Capt’n has to s-say…

Game 2
CHA: CF N. Nelson – 2B Cano – LF Salto – RF Kok – 3B G. Ortiz – C M. Cooper – 1B J. Elliott – SS Eisenberg – P Ziemke
POR: SS Ramos – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – CF Vanatti – P Roberts

Valdes informed me personally before the middle game that Toots’ father, Mr. Roger Hotchkiss “Bud” DeVilane II, would obviously only sponsor a *winner*. I casually asked him whether he owned any other teams that might qualify under these circumstances. The mood in my office was henceforth frosty, and the ice could not even be broken when Slappy offered Toots to drink from his bottle.

The Coons scored first, bringing Tovias up with Howden and Nunley on the corners after a pair of base hits to begin the bottom 2nd, and Tovias got the run home without making two outs, grounding out to Ricky Cano. That was all for the inning, but Ramos and Wallace hit singles in the third and were cashed on a 3-run homer by Rich Hereford, who thus beat Wallace to be the first Critter into double digits this year. We would get a fifth run in the bottom 4th, Tovias being brought in on a sac fly by Mark Roberts after he had smacked a leadoff double into the leftfield corner, but that was by far the best mark Roberts left on the game. His pitching was uninspired, and he was easily hittable. The Falcons got a run on three hits, singled home by Barend Kok, in the fourth, and in the fifth had the bases loaded with no outs as Roberts walked Eisenberg, gave up a hit that PH Ron Raynor raked, and nailed Nate Nelson. Tootsie ominously remarked that the tying run was at the plate and why did the Raccoons bother with a pitcher routinely leading the league in home runs allowed? Valdes sweated some bull**** explanation that this was only building tension to keep the fans engaged, which was impressive as a lie, but she obviously knew better and chances were that Roberts wouldn’t make it through the 2-3-4 batter unharmed. Ricky Cano hammered the first pitch he saw to deep left, Jamieson back, back, back, back, back – caught on the warning track. Eisenberg scored, Raynor moved up, and I tried to show kindness by explaining that the Raccoons were now indeed only a double play away from getting out of the inning while Roberts was winding up to offer the 1-1 to the leftfielder. Graciano Salto hit the ball almost 400 feet, and the game was tied at five.

With tensions thus heightened entirely unexpectedly, the Druid walked in and presented the 190th extension on Slappy’s medical deferment from actually doing any work around here on account of “weak ankles”. Tootsie spun around, upset at the interruption, and her long ravenous black hair slapped into Valdes’ face. Her and Mena’s eyes met and they locked in a deep stare, which I observed with utmost curiosity while holding on to dear life and the neck of my bottle of Capt’n Coma. After at least 20 seconds, the Druid began to shiver, sweat, and shake, eventually managed to extend one arm and pointed at her before painfully crying out “Ella es un diabla!”. He staggered out of the room backwards, never letting his eyes off her, while she never moved as much as her eyelids. So! Valdes, say – at which dark carnival did you pick her up again? – And, by the way, Roberts just gave up a dinger to Greg Ortiz.

The Coons pushed Roberts through six, after which the grounds crew scraped his remains off the leftfield fence of doom, but they did miss an eye, two stripes, and a few whiskers, that would remain disturbing reminders of another hideous meltdown for the rest of the game. The Critters almost got a game-tying homer from Matt Jamieson in the bottom 7th then, but his fly to deep right hit the fence about six inches below the top of the wall, and he had to settle for a double, which he barely got since he pulled up lame halfway between first and second and required removal for a pinch-runner, Tim Stalker (with Hereford shifting to leftfield). Wallace singled, moving Stalker to third, and he would score on Hereford’s sac fly, thus tying the game at six. Garavito held the Falcons at bay in the eighth and the ninth would be Josh Boles’. He immediately continued his terrible season, walking the .151 schmuck Eisenberg to begin the inning. A grounder and a wild pitch had Eisenberg at third base with two outs, with Ricky Cano coaxing another walk in a full count before Salto belted another 3-piece to break the tie. That one to left, far away from Roberts’ eye and whiskers. Tony Rivas walked Ramos to begin the bottom 9th, but Stalker smacked into a double play and this one quickly turned into a definitive loss. 9-6 Falcons. Ramos 2-4, BB; Jamieson 2-4, 2B; Wallace 2-5; Hereford 1-2, BB, HR, 4 RBI;

Matt Jamieson had a sore knee, which I hear is nothing special for people his age. He was out for the rest of the week, but should be good to go early next week. He was thus not disabled. Also unable to go was Jim Tierney. Right-hander Brian Bowsman (3-5, 4.52 ERA) would make the start on short rest.

Game 3
CHA: CF N. Nelson – 2B Cano – LF Salto – RF Kok – 3B G. Ortiz – C M. Cooper – 1B Amundson – SS Eisenberg – P Bowsman
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – CF Vanatti – P Hague

Wallace got the RBI with a single as the Coons took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Ramos Special: walk, stolen base, scurrying home faster than the defense could sneeze the ball in his general direction. After the lead survived a 2-base throwing error by Tim Stalker to begin the top 2nd – Hague got two pop outs and whiffed Bowsman after walking Eisenberg non-intentionally, the Coons loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom 2nd, bringing up Ed Hague, who singled sharply through the gap between Cano and Erik Amundson to plate Nunley. Ramos clubbed a clean RBI single to center, 3-0, Stalker whiffed, but Wallace also poked a single to center, plating Vanatti to get to 4-0. Hereford hit a comebacker that was turned into an out at home, but not more, and Bowsman balked in a run after that when he already had Howden at 1-2. The at-bat continued; the next pitch was powered to right-center by Howden and OUTTA HERE!! 8-0 in the second! Bowsman walked Nunley, then was yanked for Norman McAleer, who ended the inning, but also meaning that the Falcons’ three starters logged no outs in the fifth inning in the series, and only 9.2 innings in total.

So what could undo Ed Hague now, besides his own ineptitude and memories of glory past? A rain delay would be an option. It had drizzled earlier in the game, but we got a real shower in the fourth inning of the 8-0 contest that delayed the game for almost 30 minutes, during which Tootsie explained to Valdes in detail why wearing fur was wrong, even if he made millions from producing fur coats every quarter. The game was rather calm into the fifth, with the Falcons more or less having accepted their fate. That didn’t mean the Coons couldn’t add a few runs. Nunley singled, Vanatti doubled in the bottom 5th, and with two down Alberto Ramos vacated a McAleer fastball into the batter’s eye for a 3-run homer of his own, 11-0!

Which didn’t make everybody happy. Nick Valdes bemoaned that he had missed his chance to trade the team for a child-labor-employing diamond mine in the depths of the Congo. It wasn’t that he condemned child labor – payroll was payroll, and the less payroll the more profit. But he had expected to get another ring or two out of the Raccoons. Cristiano Carmona unsuspectingly rolled into the office in his wheelchair right at this point, bringing me an important report – he had finished all the scratch-out lottery tickets I had bought in the morning – trying to make enough bucks to buy my own remote island with no cable TV – but I had won nothing. Even the hard-to-faze Slappy raised an eyebrow when Tootsie voiced how cute that meal on wheels was, got up and walked up right next to Cristiano, bending down and without any prior introduction whispering with a raspy voice into his ear that she could do things to him that he had never seen and even if they didn’t make him walk again, they were better than walking anyway. Cristiano didn’t even look at her when he matter-of-factly stated that he was not interested because he would only sleep with guys, then immediately covered his mouth with both hands, eyes wide open. WAIT A MINUTE! I slapped the top of my desk, then looked over to Valdes. – You could have had a diamond mine rather than THIS and didn’t DO it??

In the actual game, there was no reason to remove Ed Hague unless he gave up seven or got significantly over 100 pitches. The former did not happen; he pitched seven scoreless, and only in the eighth Ron Raynor got him for an RBI double. That still left Portland up by double digits. Hague began the ninth on 104 pitches, but got Matt Cooper to ground out on the very first offering of the inning. Amundson grounded out to Sean Catella at second base. And Eisenberg rolled out to short. 11-1 Furballs! Ramos 3-4, BB, HR, 4 RBI; Wallace 3-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Nunley 1-2, 3 BB; Tovias 2-3, BB; Hague 9.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, W (4-2) and 1-4, RBI;

Thursday, mercifully, was an off day. Despite everything that had gone on, Valdes and Tootsie stopped by in the morning on their way to the airport to inspect one of his other sweatshops. Apparently, Roger Hotchkiss “Bud” DeVilane II was not entirely averse to sponsor the Raccoons after all; Tootsie handed me a contract proposal for three banners promoting “Kit Whisk”, something none of us had previously heard of. – Say, Ms. DeVilane, what is this… “Kit Whisk”? – Your new brand of what? – I’m sorry, did you just say “kitten juice”? – So is this juice FOR kittens or juice made out of …? – I see. I see.

Valdes instructed me to read the contract carefully. Apparently Bud was known to sneak in a single sentence that would transfer ownership of whatever entity he was to “sponsor” to himself. Then they left, with Maud meeting them in the door, prompting a heinous growl at her from Tootsie. While I dug for the lighter in my desk and wasted no time setting the binder with the contract on fire before dumping it into my waste basket without even looking, I instead let my view wander between Slappy and Maud, and almost teary-eyed stated that they were my favorite people in the world.

Also, what’s that smell? – What do you mean, Maud, you replaced my steel waste basket with one made of wicker? – I think you should get the fire extinguisher, it’s getting warm by my feet.

Raccoons (21-30) vs. Indians (29-25) – June 6-8, 2031

Ultimately, the ballpark didn’t burn to the ground and we could host the Arrowheads on the weekend for three. The Indians also didn’t know how to score runs, but that was usually only a temporary thing until a team invaded Portland. They were in the bottom three in terms of fewest runs on either side of the scoreboard, with a +2 run differential. They had a top notch rotation with a combined ERA of barely over three. And they also had a 4-2 edge in the season series.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (1-2, 2.96 ERA) vs. Mark Morrison (3-3, 4.29 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-3, 3.09 ERA) vs. John McInerney (2-4, 3.66 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-6, 6.38 ERA) vs. Sal Bedoya (5-2, 2.13 ERA)

Only southpaw for the week would be McInerney on Saturday.

Game 1
IND: SS Pizano – RF Plunkett – C J. Herrera – CF Baron – 2B Schneller – LF I. Vega – 1B I. Pena – 3B E. Sosa – P M. Morrison
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – CF Catella – P Gurney

The Raccoons did precious little in the early innings; Ramos hit a pair of singles and got no help either time, while the Indians took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Mario Pizano’s RBI triple that chased home Elias Sosa with his leadoff walk. In the fourth, Dan Schneller singled and Ivan Vega homered to run the tally to 3-0. The bottom of the inning also saw the Coons on the board on a solo homer by Jarod Howden, the dumb pig. With this shot, he tied Tovias for third on the team with four bombs. Gurney could avoid allowing more runs in the fifth and sixth despite having a man on base every time. The Coons had a leadoff single from Tovias in the bottom 5th, but he was forced out by Catella, who was ultimately stranded when Ramos popped out to Pizano. In the bottom 6th, Stalker hit a leadoff single, reached second on Wallace’s groundout, then was waved around to score on Rich Hereford’s single to left-center, but that was also all the Critters got in the inning and they remained behind 3-2. Gurney would hold off the Indians for one last inning, the seventh, despite walking Pizano.

Bottom 7th, Tovias hit another leadoff single, but again was forced out on a Catella grounder to Dan Schneller. Vanatti batted for Gurney and flew to deep right, but had the ball caught by Mike Cowan. Ramos struck out to strand the runner for good. The top 8th saw the bullpen melting; Fleischer allowed singles to Juan Herrera and John Baron, and when Fernandez replaced him, a Greg Regan single loaded the bases with no outs. Vega hit a sac fly, and we went to Ricky Ohl when Edgar Paiz pinch-hit for the left-handed Ivan Pena. Ohl got a fly to center, but surrendered an RBI single to Sosa, again burying the Critters down three. Morrison grounded out to Ramos, then continued to pitch with only 82 tosses on his ledger. He retired Stalker and Wallace to begin the bottom of the inning, then lost Hereford in a full count. Howden came up and this seemed really to be an advantageous matchup for him, because he belted another homer, this time to left. That still left the team one run short. Nunley singled to right, but Tovias struck out before the pen could get involved. It DID get involved in the ninth of a 5-4 game. Catella grounded out against Marcus Owens, who then faced PH Chris Baldwin, since we didn’t have any actual hitters left on the bench… batters yes, hitters nah, I snorted, then was proven wrong when Baldwin whacked a homer to left to tie the score, which stunned more than me. It was his first RBI of the year, too… That would send the game to extra innings, where Josh Boles put two on base in the tenth, but somehow wiggled out. Garavito put two on base in the 11th, but didn’t wiggle out until after Juan Herrera had blasted a 3-piece to left. The Coons had nothing to offer in their defense or offense in the bottom of the inning against Jose Menendez… 8-5 Indians. Ramos 2-5; Howden 2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI; Tovias 3-5; Baldwin (PH) 1-1, HR, RBI;

Game 2
IND: 2B Schneller – 1B Regan – RF Plunkett – CF Baron – C J. Herrera – LF I. Vega – SS Pizano – 3B E. Sosa – P McInerney
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Baldwin – 3B Rodriguez – P Martinez

The lineup card said Martinez was pitching, and the guy was throwing right-handed, but I was pretty sure it was actually “Launchpad” Roberts, because the balls were flying like crazy off him. The first inning ended with no runs scored, but in the top 2nd the Indians got two doubles into the gap between Wallace and Baldwin in addition to a Herrera leadoff single. Two runs scored in the inning, driven in by Elias Sosa and on a McInerney sac fly. He got a bit better by the middle innings, but on the other hand, the Coons’ offense remained lame. They had four singles through six innings, also two double plays and Ramos getting caught stealing in a hit-and-run where Stalker decidedly didn’t hit.

Martinez was removed after 104 pitches in six and a third, and also after putting McInerney (single) and Schneller (walk) on base in the seventh. Garavito appeared to face Greg Regan, but the Indians countered with Mike Cowan as pinch-hitter. The right-hander hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, though, and the score remained 2-0. Bottom 7th, McInerney opened by nailing Stalker, then allowed a fly to left to Jimmy Wallace that landed near the leftfield line for a double. The tying runs were in scoring position with nobody out! Hereford grounded out to Sosa, holding the runners, Howden whiffed, and Tovias grounded out to short – nobody scored. Well, except for when John Baron homered off Nick Derks in the eighth, 3-0. Bottom of that inning, the bottom of the order scum, Baldwin and Wilson Rodriguez, came up with a pair of leadoff singles. Nunley batted in the #9 hole, grounded out, but advanced the runners. Ramos hit an RBI single to right, stole second, then scored along with Rodriguez to tie the game on Tim Stalker’s single into shallow center! Hereford would find a 2-out single, but Howden flew out to left, and the game remained tied. Ricky Ohl kept it that way in the top of the ninth inning, allowing only a 2-out single to Ivan Pena. It would be Menendez in the bottom 9th against the 6-7-8 batters, which resulted in a Baldwin single and a Rodriguez 1-6-3 double play grounder to send another game into overtime.

Wise did the 10th, Fleischer did the 11th. The Coons couldn’t get on base at all against Marcus Owens in both innings, but kept getting walkoff chances with Fleischer allowing nothing but a 1-out single to Dan Schneller in the 12th inning. The Coons faced former Titans lefty Brent Beene in the bottom 12th, with Tovias immediately chipping in a leadoff single past Schneller. Baldwin bunted the winning run to second base, but Rodriguez flew out to left and Vanatti grounded out to Pizano. The game dragged on; Josh Boles pitched 8/9 of an immaculate inning in the top of the 14th, ringing up Sosa and Pena before Schneller grounded out on an 0-2 pitch, the ninth of the inning. Beene was in his third frame in the bottom 14th. Howden flew out to center, but Tovias walked and Baldwin singled. Tovias had also enough of this game and went aggro to third base, which in fact surprised rightfielder Mike Plunkett, who never considered having to make a throw there. Thus, the winning run was 90 feet away for .130 batter Wilson Rodriguez. We had only one more stick on the bench, Catella, and this was probably a good point to use him, because the pitcher’s spot (#2) could not possibly come up in the inning. Catella got nailed loading the bases for Vanatti. When the count ran full on him and he poked, I screamed in horror, but the bouncer eluded Ivan Pena into rightfield, walking off the Critters. 4-3 Raccoons. Ramos 3-6, RBI; Leal (PH) 1-1, 2B; Tovias 3-5, BB; Baldwin 3-5; Martinez 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K; Fleischer 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

By Sunday the silence in the place was almost suffocating after the early-week madness, but we had only one more game against the Arrowheads before we’d hit the road, at least briefly.

Game 3
IND: SS Pizano – RF Plunkett – C J. Herrera – CF Baron – 2B Schneller – LF I. Vega – 1B Regan – 3B E. Sosa – P Bedoya
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Gutierrez

The game started with a throwing error by Ramos that put Pizano on base, which would ultimately make the three runs that Rico Gutierrez allowed in the inning all unearned. Dan Schneller hit a 2-run triple, Vega an RBI double to bring home plenty of runners. In contrast, the three runs that scored in the third inning with two outs were all earned, coming on 2-out doubles by Regan and Sosa. The Raccoons got on the board in the bottom 3rd. Stalker singled in a run, and Howden hit a sac fly that was also unearned after a Sosa error. Neither team wore their cleanest socks…

The Critters continued to pitch Rico Gutierrez in a 6-2 deficit not because they loved their neighbor so much, but because the pen had been sufficiently burned in two extra-inning efforts, and there was not a good way to piece together five or six innings from the remaining relievers. Since it was all his fault anyway, Rico was expected to pitch to 110 innings, and we hoped he’d see it as just punishment. It was still 6-2 in the bottom 5th when the Coons loaded the bases with no outs – never a good proposition, but we had to take anything we could get. Wallace doubled, Hereford got hit, and Howden found a hole for a soft single, bringing up Nunley in the golden spot. He hit a deep fly to left that Vega still held to a sac fly, and Vanatti fanned after that. Leal grounded out to Schneller, ending the inning with a 6-3 tally. Tim Stalker laced a homer in the sixth, but that came with nobody on base…

Gutierrez was pulled after 6.2 innings and 108 pitches, and with Pizano and Baron on base. Chris Wise entered in a double switch into the #4 hole and got Schneller to pop out, which ended the inning and left the Critters still with a chance in the 6-4 game. Wise and then Derks would not allow another run in regulation, but the Raccoons lacked rally before arriving in the bottom of the ninth inning against Jim Kretzmann, a righty with a 1.88 ERA. Stalker led off with a single to right, and Wallace walked when Kretzmann offered a 3-2 in the dirt. The winning run thus came up in pinch-hitter Elias Tovias, hitting for Derks. Somehow, Tovias was HOT, something we hadn’t seen in years and years. That didn’t mean he couldn’t hit into a snail-pace triple play, although he wouldn’t hear. Kretzmann fired a 97mph heater at 1-1, but well in the zone and in a juicy location. Tovias drilled the ball to right, high and deep, will it? Will it?? ELIAS MATIAS TOVIAS DIAZ – WALKOFF HOMER!!! 7-6 Furballs!! Stalker 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; Wallace 2-3, 2 BB, 2B; Hereford 1-2, 2B; Tovias (PH) 1-1, HR, 3 RBI;

In other news

June 5 – It’s season over for NYC SP Mike Rutkowski (4-5, 2.64 ERA), who will have to deal with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.
June 5 – SFW OF Mark Walker (.254, 3 HR, 26 RBI) knocks in three on four base hits in a 15-0 mauling of the Capitals.
June 6 – The Falcons erase a 5-run deficit in the ninth inning and celebrate a 7-6 walkoff win over the Knights on 3B Greg Ortiz’ (.285, 8 HR, 23 RBI) walkoff single.
June 6 – TOP SS/2B Alex Majano (.253, 0 HR, 21 RBI) is going to be out for a month with a quad tear.
June 7 – In a special walkoff, TIJ CL Erik David (2-2, 1.47 ERA, 17 SV) attempts to pick off OCT SS Jeff Nichols (.263, 3 HR, 10 RBI) with Nichols at first and C Mike Burgess (.296, 9 HR, 28 RBI) at third base in a 1-1 game in the ninth inning. David throws the ball past his first baseman, Kevin McGrath, and Burgess dashes home to end the game with a 2-1 Thunder win.

Complaints and stuff

I would like to have an explanation as to how Elias Tovias can suddenly hit .305 with clutch blasts, but I got nothing, really… he might actually have some trade value as we inch closer to mid-season…! His OPS is actually fourth on the team behind Wallace, Ramos, and Hereford.

In case you look forward to young pitching, Raffaello Sabre will miss most of the month with rotator cuff tightness, whatever the **** that is.

Fun Fact: Twice a Crusaders player hit three home runs in a game on June 8. Both were named Ortíz.

Both instances came in their era of utter dominance roughly 20 years ago, you know, the Martin Brothers, and B.J. Manfull, and all those guys, supplied by ample pitching. Martin Ortíz hit three bombs in a rout of the damn Elks on June 8, 2015, while Gabriel Ortíz did the pains to the Raccoons five years earlier in 2010. Two of Gabriel Ortiz’ homers back then came off “Winless” Watanabe, and the last one off Ted Reese, who is now rightfully forgotten. The Raccoons hit two homers of their own off the bats of Travis Owens (who?) and Keith Ayers, who the Crusaders surely tried to tag out at home, but this time really, really couldn’t. At least we won the division that year……..

Fun Fact (Bonus Round): Greg Ortiz is the first player from El Salvador in the league since the Raccoons’ employed infielder Manuel Gutierrez in the early 2010s.

Not much to add. It’s a small country, and they only had five major leaguers overall; fifth-year player Greg Ortiz is already the most productive of the bunch.

If the madness went a bit overboard in the Falcons series, just tell me and I will attempt to curb my enthusiasm going forward
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Questdog (07-05-2019)
Old 07-06-2019, 06:15 PM   #2905
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Raccoons (23-31) @ Titans (33-22) – June 9-12, 2031

The Titans were two games behind the division-leading Loggers (sic!) and looked forward to boost their record against the sad-sack Critters that came crawling in. The Titans were 3-0 against the Raccoons this season. They were scoring the most runs, but were also giving up plenty, sitting only ninth in runs allowed. They might want to shore up that pitching staff! Like I need to talk a big game about *that* …

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (3-3, 4.76 ERA) vs. Adam Potter (6-2, 2.95 ERA)
Ed Hague (4-2, 4.33 ERA) vs. Mario Gonzalez (1-1, 3.71 ERA)
Jason Gurney (1-2, 3.16 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (5-6, 3.63 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-3, 3.06 ERA) vs. Eric Williams (6-3, 3.55 ERA)

After an initial serving of a right-hander in Adam Potter, the Critters would see three straight southpaws in this set (and would have a chance for more on the weekend). Two Titans regulars were missing with injuries; Adam Braun had been on the DL for a while now with shoulder woes, and Rhett West had missed two weeks with a sprained thumb, but could now return to the lineup any day. However, like the Critters’ Matt Jamieson, he was not in the battle formation on Monday.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Baldwin – CF Vanatti – P Roberts
BOS: 2B M. Avila – SS Spataro – 1B Uliasz – RF Acor – LF W. Vega – CF Reichardt – C Lessman – 3B Perkins – P Potter

Elias Tovias continued a 10-game hitting streak (!) with a single in the second inning, then was doubled up by Matt Nunley’s grounder to Moises Avila. And while so much was upside down on this team right now, one of the constants remained Mark Roberts looking like ****, tossing like ****, and the results being ****, too. He walked Justin Uliasz on four pitches in the bottom 1st after getting two outs at first, then surrendered the run on sharp base hits by Dustin Acor and Willie Vega. While Potter issued just 30 pitches and whiffed three in facing the minimum the first time through, Roberts was kept being hit against, although it took the Titans til the fourth inning to add more to the board. Adrian Reichardt hit a solo homer, and further down the order a slow trickle sort of death produced a Justin Perkins single, Potter bunting him over, and then Avila landing a 2-out single to get to 3-0.

Through five, Potter remained unscored upon. Ramos drew a leadoff walk in the sixth inning and was antsy about going, because he had not had many chances lately on accounts of slumping and was far, far away from approaching his mark from last year again. He never got a chance – Jarod Howden hit a jack to right before he could take off. This narrowed the gap to one run, but the Critters failed to make that up in either this inning or the next, where Baldwin was on base and stole second. Roberts batted with one out, hoping for a glimmer of his batting prowess he had shown in the last few years, but he popped out feebly, and Ramos went down looking to strand the tying run. Roberts got stuck in the bottom 7th, walking Acor and nailing Willie Vega with two outs. Ricky Ohl replaced him against Reichardt, who immediately continued to be the lifelong pest he was and singled past a diving Nunley for an RBI single, although to be fair, there is no such thing as a diving 40-year-old man. It was more like falling over with sunstroke. Ohl threw a wild pitch at 0-2 to David Lessman, walked the catcher, and then almost gave up another hit to PH Corey Curro, but Hereford made the catch hustling in. Despite this setback, the Coons made up the difference in the eighth against Potter. Wallace and Hereford hit back-to-back doubles, and Nunley dropped in a 2-out single to get Hereford around to equalize. From there the game soon went to extra innings, which was something the team with the bombed-out pen desperately needed… David Fernandez actually had to pitch to the middle of the order (wildly not predominantly left-handed) because he was the only well rested arm we had at that point. He was kept around in a tied game in the 10th inning, walking Dan Knudson in the #8 hole. Vince Murry grounded out, moving Knudson to second with two outs and Avila flew to deep left, and that was really deep, and Hereford was nowhere near it – walkoff double. 5-4 Titans. Howden 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; Wallace 2-5, 2B;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – C Tovias – 1B Howden – CF Baldwin – P Hague
BOS: 2B M. Avila – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – C Lessman – SS Spataro – RF Acor – CF Reichardt – 3B Knudson – P M. Gonzalez

In signs that things would not work out today, either, Ramos, Stalker, and Wallace all hit deep flies to center in the first inning, and Adrian Reichardt denied all of them. The Titans, on the other hand, had three on with nobody out on an Avila double and two walks against Hague, who didn’t bother throwing a strike to either Vega or Uliasz. All three runs would score against the appallingly terrible Hague, who allowed a 2-run double to Lessman (and on a 3-1 pitch…), and Keith Spataro plated the third run with a groundout before Acor popped out and Reichardt grounded out to Ramos. Lessman doubled in another pair in the third inning against Hague, who opened the frame with a four-pitch walk to Vega, then surrendered a double to Uliasz. That run also scored on Reichardt’s sharp 2-out single, but the two catchers also became entangled in a home plate collision, with Lessman sliding awkwardly enough to slam his chest into Tovias’ armored knee. He had the breath knocked out of him and had to be removed with a rib cage injury, but the run counted, deepening the score to 6-0.

****head Hague was done after four innings of absolute gutter ball. Wilson Rodriguez batted for him against Mario Gonzalez with two on in the fifth inning, but flew out to Acor. In fact, that was the first time the Coons had somebody in scoring position in the game after not reaching base until Jimmy Wallace walked in the fourth, and not getting a knock until Howden singled in the fifth. Baldwin hit a double, but Rodriguez ended the inning. The Coons would get Ramos and Stalker on base to begin the sixth, and the runs scored on a balk, Wallace single, and Jamieson’s groundout, but then again Nick Derks gave the two runs right back on a Dan Knudson homer in the bottom of the same inning, so we weren’t gaining any ground, we were just bleeding out more profusely… The Coons were beaten, the Titans let go in the final innings, and that one run that Howden doubled in at the end, plating Hereford, didn’t really make a difference anymore… 8-3 Titans. Howden 2-4, 2B, RBI; Nunley (PH) 1-1; Vanatti 1-1;

There was a roster move after this disaster of a game. Wilson Rodriguez, batting .120, was sent back to St. Pete, and we brought up Victor Anaya, that Cuban international free agent, who had been squeezed off the roster on Opening Day. The 28-year-old had run up a 5.76 ERA in St. Petersburg though…

The move was rendered pointless when the Wednesday game was rained out, but we still retained Anaya around for the double header on Thursday and would piece it together from there…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Hereford – 3B Nunley – CF Catella – C Leal – 1B Baldwin – P Gurney
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS Spataro – 1B Uliasz – RF Acor – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – C R. Avila – 3B Perkins – P Wingo

The Raccoons scored first (!) … on a wild pitch … in the fifth inning … with two outs and two strikes… to Gurney. Hey, Dustin Wingo’s follies isn’t something I was going to hold against him. If my guy did this, I’d blast his face off with the blunderbuss. But Nunley and Catella had opened the inning with singles and the former scurried home on the errant delivery before Gurney struck out on the next pitch. Himself, Gurney was tossing a 1-hitter at this point, but had also walked a pair. Roberto Avila drew another walk with one out in the bottom 5th, then reached third base when Perkins singled in a hit-and-run. Wingo bunted badly, with Perkins forced out at second base, and the inning ended with strike three to Willie Vega. Uliasz singled in the sixth, yet was doubled off by Acor, and no Titan reached base in the seventh inning, but Gurney was not only on 93 pitches at the conclusion of the inning, he was also still only ahead by a skinny run.

Both pitchers batted for themselves in the eighth inning. Gurney was up with two outs and nobody on, then reached on a Perkins error, but Ramos grounded out. Wingo grounded out to Nunley for the second out, also with nobody on, but Gurney then lost Vega on balls and was removed. The Raccoons committed to ending the game with Ricky Ohl rather than use both him and Boles in the first game of the twin-bill. Unfortunately, Spataro singled up the middle, and Uliasz hit a fly to deep left, but Matt Jamieson caught up with it on the track. Ohl was back on the mound in short order, Jermaine Campbell having done away with the Critters briskly in the top of the ninth. Acor grounded out. West whiffed. And Reichardt whiffed, too! 1-0 Blighters! Nunley 2-3; Gurney 7.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K, W (2-2);

Another game and another lefty was coming right up, and do I have to mention we have a plane to catch?

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 3B Hereford – C Tovias – 1B Howden – C Vanatti – P Martinez
BOS: RF Acor – LF W. Vega – 1B Uliasz – SS Spataro – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – C Murry – 3B Perkins – P E. Williams

Bottom 2nd, the Titans had the bags full with nobody out again, having loaded them on straight singles by West, Reichardt, and Vince Murry, the latter reaching first base when Elias Tovias failed to peel a lazy spinner out of the dirt in front of home plate. Boston went ahead 1-0 on a Perkins sac fly, and after Acor walked to reload the bases, Vega squelched out another walk in a full count to push a 2-out run across. On the very next pitch, Justin Uliasz hit a 420-footer, and another game was in the bin. Martinez was gone after three innings, and a first-pitch near-homer by Acor to begin the fourth, that couldn’t have been worse if he had just mooned the fans before the first pitch and then had gone back home. The Titans scored a seventh run in the bottom 3rd, Reichardt and Murry hitting singles – and again Murry’s was an infield single – and Perkins knocking in the run with a double to left. Anaya thus good his major league debut in mop-up duty. He would get eight outs without allowing a run, and also hit a single in his only plate appearance, making him the sole blip of offense in the middle innings for Portland. Williams went on to leak four singles in the seventh inning, with Matt Nunley hitting a pinch-hit RBI single with three on and two outs, and then Ramos squeezed out a bases-loaded walk, but Stalker fouled out and the inning ended with the team still well short of being an actual threat. Boston got a run right back in another soul-killing inning. Uliasz legged out an infield single, again no defense whatsoever from Tovias, West reached on a Ramos error, Reichardt singled to center, and after all of that had gone on around him, Jonathan Fleischer walked Murry with the bases loaded to push home a run. Perkins hit into a double play to end the inning… like it mattered…

Before long, it almost mattered, if only for the Titans falling asleep considering Williams had the game in the bag at 8-2. He hadn’t. The Raccoons dished out a bevvy of singles in the eighth inning; Tovias doubled home a run, Leal singled in a run batting for Howden, and Vanatti brought in the third run with a groundout. Finally Tim Zimmerman replaced Williams with two outs and Leal on third base and struck out PH Chris Baldwin in the #9 hole, keeping the Raccoons three short. With Garavito holding up in the bottom 8th, Jermaine Campbell pulled up the tying run with nobody out in the ninth inning. Ramos tripled to right, Stalker walked, and now we could pull off a stunner! Jamieson struck out, which stunned nobody. Wallace hit a long sac fly, which looked neat, but was no help either. Hereford, however, singled to center and sent Stalker to third, so the team remained alive with the tying runs on the corners, and Campbell remained in to face Elias Tovias, who had hit a walkoff homer with two down and two on just last Sunday. While he couldn’t hit a walkoff here, for this was not our place, Elias To- HO-LY WHISKERS!! Deep to right, deep, up, GONE!!! The Raccoons complete a 7-run comeback!! Turns out, saving up Josh Boles for the second game had not been quite as pointless after all! And he’d also face the meat of the order… Rhett West drew a walk in the bottom of the ninth inning, but that lone walk was surrounded by a sea of strikeouts, the last one thrown at Adrian Reichardt. 9-8 Furballs!! Hereford 2-4, BB; Tovias 3-5, HR, 4 RBI; Leal (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Catella (PH) 1-1; Vanatti 2-5, RBI; Anaya 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K and 1-1;

We will be watching a lot of video to analyze how exactly we came back from 7-0 and 8-2 to win this one. But not now – hush, hush! Onto the bus, we gotta get back home now!!

Raccoons (25-33) vs. Pacifics (40-20) – June 13-15, 2031

Now, here was an actual first-place team! They were not scoring all that much (eighth in the FL), but they were giving up the fewest runs and had the best rotation. In fact, their rotation was so good, they had an aggregate ERA of 2.89! The Coons had lost the last two season series against L.A., including two out of three games just last season.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (2-6, 6.13 ERA) vs. Gavin Lee (8-0, 2.68 ERA)
Mark Roberts (3-3, 4.82 ERA) vs. Jorge Beltran (6-3, 3.31 ERA)
Ed Hague (4-3, 4.90 ERA) vs. Ramiro Benavides (4-3, 3.61 ERA)

We would get a fourth southpaw this week, and that would be Benavides on Sunday. I would not see that game in person, because I would already be in New York on Sunday for the draft.

Meanwhile, the Coons had won enough games this week (two) to have a chance to limp past the Elks with another win here.

Game 1
LAP: RF O. Mendoza – 3B Schmit – CF Fowler – C Henley – LF Kopp – 1B Tutt – SS L. Rivera – 2B Fagan – P G. Lee
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Stalker – CF Vanatti – P Gutierrez

Gutierrez was behind everybody from the very start and surrendered a first-inning run on singles by Andy Schmit and J.J. Henley – both old CL North foes – with a crucial walk issued to Justin Fowler in between. Terry Kopp, the former Raccoon, and Zach Tutt made deep outs in left-center to end the inning… Howden, Hereford, and Tovias loaded the bases in the bottom 1st, but Nunley’s fly to left ended up with Kopp to keep the Critters off the board. The next jam was right around the corner; Stalker and Vanatti hit singles to begin the bottom 2nd, with Oscar Mendoza mishandling the latter ball for extra bases for the runners. Gutierrez flew out to shallow right for the first out, Ramos was retired on a comebacker, and Howden hit one to left that… Kopp going back, back, back… nope, there’s the fence! Home run! 3-piece for Howden!

The undefeated Lee was soon in more trouble. Bottom 3rd, Tovias led off with a single. Nunley flew out to Mendoza on the warning track, and Stalker stuck a single through the hole between Tutt and Kevin Fagan. Vanatti hit a fly into the gap, Mendoza couldn’t reach it, and Vanatti had an RBI double, 4-0! Rico batted again with a pair in scoring position and less than two outs, and this time struck out, and Ramos was no more useful at this point, grounding out to Fagan to strand the runners. And stranding runners all over was not a good idea. Up 4-1, yeah, true, but we were also up 4-1 with Rico Gutierrez, The Human Run Machine, on the mound. He avoided outright disaster for the fourth, but then put Mendoza on base on balls in the fifth and hung a ball to Andy Schmit that was frankly just gone and cut the lead to 4-3. The Pacifics made outs on four pitches in the sixth, and Gutierrez hung around to begin the seventh inning, but allowed a single to Fagan before being yanked. With the tying run aboard and the pitcher’s spot up, Dan Tugwell hit for Gavin Lee, who really hoped for a run and better two in the inning. He would be disappointed. Chris Wise replaced Gutierrez, got a double play grounder from Tugwell, and then struck out Mendoza to end the seventh. The Critters tacked on a pair against Vincent Alfaro, a former starter, in the bottom 7th. Hereford walked and Tovias doubled him in to begin the inning, with Nunley chipping in a single to move Hereford to third, from where Vanatti would plate him with a sac fly to center, 6-3.

Top 8th, Henley singled off Derks, Fernandez walked Kopp, but somehow Zach Tutt hacked himself out to end the inning. The Coons had nothing cooking in their hopefully final half-inning, and then it was Boles against the bottom of the order, leading to Lorenzo Rivera and Kevin Fagan hitting singles, and Chris Hollar striking out in the pitcher’s spot. PH Danny Serrano flew out to deep left, Hereford making a backwards dash to prevent damage, and that made the former Crusader Schmit the keep-it-moving batter with two outs, while we would kindly ask Boles to move everybody’s bums to the showers. He walked Schmit on four pitches, loading them up with the tying runs and inviting the .326 hitter Fowler with 13 homers on his ledger to take a swing at it. Fowler hit the 1-1 to right-center… and deflation hit instantly. That was just gone. Also gone – Boles. The ****tard now had an ERA rivalling Rico Gutierrez’, and Fleischer took over, nailing Henley with his very first pitch, which led to an instant brawl. That one took a while to sort out, and at the end of it a few whiskers and stripes remained on the field just like a half-eaten Pacifics cap. Fleischer and Henley were tossed, and Garavito was the third pitcher in an inning that should have been long over. Terry Kopp struck out, southpaw Chun-yeong Chah came in and Hereford, Tovias, and Nunley were retired in order in the ninth. 7-6 Pacifics. Hereford 2-4, BB; Tovias 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Stalker 2-4; Vanatti 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI;

Well, there were a few shuffles happening in the bullpen. First, Jonathan Fleischer was suspended for five games, so Anaya kept hanging around. Second, Josh Boles was stripped of any honorable insignia and degraded to private in the penal bataillon.

Our new closer? (Do we need one?) ****ing Chris Wise! He had to date no saves in 71 ABL outings, but had a 2.48 ERA for his career, and a 1.32 ERA this season.

No, Ricky, I don’t WANNA HEAR **** FROM YOU!! You’re just as bad as the other turd!! Did you just HISS AT ME??

Game 2
LAP: RF O. Mendoza – 3B Schmit – CF Fowler – C Allomes – 1B Tutt – SS L. Rivera – LF Serrano – 2B Fagan – P J. Beltran
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – 2B Stalker – CF Vanatti – P Roberts

Fowler hit an easy one off the launchpad in the fourth inning, a leadoff jack that was the first run in the middle game, and for funsies Dylan Allomes went back-to-back with him to put the Pacifics up 2-0, bam-bam. Danny Serrano doubled in the same inning, but was stranded when Fagan popped out. That made Beltran lead off the fifth inning. Roberts continued to suck, hung a 2-0, and Beltran belted it to left-center, and outta here. That made Beltran all of a .099 career batter, albeit with three homers to his name. Probably all off Raccoons pitchers, but I was too sad to check. There was some emergency counselling on the mound, with the pitching coach advising Roberts that his contract didn’t mean we wouldn’t throw him off Mount Hood if he didn’t stop blowing. Schmit and Fowler hit singles in the inning anyway, but the inning would fizzle out without further damage.

And no, the Coons offense did nothing worth reporting. They had four hits through six innings, none of them worth jumping up and shouting encouragement. Roberts lasted seven innings, whiffing as many, mainly thanks to every Pacific wanting to hit the next bomb, but they remained up on nothing but their three solo homers as long as Roberts was around. Portland did get on the board in the bottom 7th on a Vanatti solo homer, a cheapo that cleared the fence and the right foul pole by less than six inches each and was measured kindly at 333 feet. Anaya put two on in the eighth before Terry Kopp pinch-hit for Serrano, prompting a move to Fernandez with two outs. That particular rookie got the whiffing strikeout in a full count with the runners in motion, ending the inning. David Fernandez also pitched a quick ninth, bringing in Chah again for the bottom 9th and now a 2-run lead. Hereford opened with a groundout to Fagan, but Tovias hit the gap for a double. Catella hit for Nunley against the southpaw, but struck out, bringing up Tim Stalker as the last man standing. Chah fell to 3-1, which was also the game’s score, then threw a 95mph heater that changed the score for Stalker fired it out of left-center – tied ballgame!! Vanatti also struck out to send the game to extras. Ohl was pitching in the 11th, walked Tutt on four pitches to begin the frame, and then surrendered the run on a Terry Kopp bouncer through Howden, the dumb pig, that eluded Wallace for an RBI double. Fagan popped out and – critically – Chah struck out with the Pacifics’ bench empty! That ended the inning, and while the Raccoons still had Leal on the bench, they brought up the middle of the order first against Joe Moore, the right-hander. The pitcher’s spot and Leal never came up. Hereford drew a 1-out walk in the bottom 11th, but Tovias flew out to Kopp to rob us of much hope. Sean Catella was still in the #6 hole and hit a lame fly to end the game. 4-3 Pacifics.

…and with this they dared to send me on a plane to New York, along with the scout guy… maybe I can catch a glimpse of his ticket and find out his name…? The final game in the set I’d watch from a filthy bar opposite league headquarters waiting for the draft to begin.

Game 3
LAP: RF O. Mendoza – 1B Tutt – CF Fowler – C Allomes – LF Kopp – 3B Schmit – SS L. Rivera – 2B Fagan – P Benavides
POR: SS Stalker – 1B Howden – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – 3B Nunley – C Leal – CF Baldwin – P Hague

Oscar Mendoza opened the game with a double off Sunday’s punching bag, Ed Hague, and scored on a 2-out single up the middle that Allomes hit. Now, the Pacifics didn’t get another base hit through five innings and Hague struck out six, but at the same time the home team’s offense remained pathetic and the innings cruised by. Over in New York I was worried that I would have to run out of game and drunkenness well before the draft would begin, because five innings passed in just *70* minutes. The Raccoons offered up just as many base hits through five as the Pacifics (two), but couldn’t find a run. Then out of the blue, they found three base hits in the bottom 6th. Stalker hit a 1-out double into right-center, and after Howden lined out to Fagan, Jamieson hit an RBI single through the left side. Wallace also singled, but Hereford struck out, keeping the game tied. Surprise, surprise – the Pacifics also landed three hits in the top 7th, but their hits by Allomes, Kopp, and Serrano were all singles, loaded the bases with one out, and then Hereford started an inning-ending double play on Fagan’s grounder to keep the game tied. Hague ended up throwing 95 pitches in eight innings of 1-run ball, which was all for him since his spot led off the bottom of the eighth inning against right-hander Joe Moore. The slumping Ramos got the assignment on a day off and drew a 4-pitch walk. Now – caution. I held on tight to the bar counter in New York, while the guy next to me kept listing all the stuff the aliens had done to him and his dog, something that had started without a prompt on my part in about the sixth inning. Ramos hadn’t stolen a bag in ages, and everybody knew how he was burning to keep the counter going. Allomes had a weak arm, too! But he never went with Stalker at the plate… and Stalker hit into a double play. Howden struck out. The dumb pig! I cursed and hit my fist on the counter. Josh Boles would pitch the ninth, not because he was the closer anymore, but because we needed a left-hander to begin the inning at least. Allomes with the leadoff single, but Kopp flew out, and Schmit hit into a double play. There was still a chance to walk off! Moore retired Jamieson to begin the bottom 9th, but Wallace singled on 0-2, and Hereford got a ball through Tutt for what turned out to be a double as the ball made its way into foul ground behind the bag, slightly ticked with the glove to keep it away from Mendoza for a wee bit longer. Winning run on third, one out for Matt Nunley – nope, they walked him intentionally. That brought up Leal, except that Tovias hit for him and popped out on the first pitch. Baldwin struck out, extra innings. This team…

Portland employed Wise for one inning and Anaya for three after that. The Pacifics didn’t get close to scoring, nor did the Coons. Joe Vanatti hit a 2-out double from the #9 spot in the bottom 12th, but Stalker pissed that chance away as well to my great dismay, because by now the barkeep had informed me three times that this Mexican guy had called and I was needed in the league office, but the game was still going on. Normally, I’d say the game kept “raging” on, but there was no rage about this game that, despite being in the 13th inning, was still just up to the 3:30 mark. Bottom 13th, fourth inning for Vincent Alfaro and his now-5.40 ERA. Howden flew to left center, Kopp couldn’t reach there, and the ball fell for a leadoff double, which would normally bring up Jamieson, except that the Coons had opted for length from Anaya after Vanatti had pinch-hit in the 10th and Anaya was in the #3 hole. Sean Catella was the last guy on the bench and pinch-hit, because what were we possibly saving him for? He singled to center on the first pitch, but Fowler was all over the ball and Howden was held at third base. All we needed from Jimmy the Rookie was a deep fly, cashing in Howden, and then I could go over to that nagging scout person. Wallace popped out instead, bringing up Hereford. All we needed from Rich Hereford was a deep fly, cashing in Howden, and then I could go over to that nagging scout person. Hereford evaded the batter’s box on an errant first pitch, and that one fooled Allomes, too! Wild pitch! Howden down the line, Allomes had to chase the ball and had no play – it was a walkoff!! 2-1 Blighters. Jamieson 2-5, RBI; Catella (PH) 1-1; Wallace 2-6; Vanatti (PH) 1-2, 2B; Hague 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K; Anaya 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, W (1-0);

In other news

June 9 – TOP SP David Elliott (5-7, 4.04 ERA) 2-hits the Cyclones in a 9-0 whitewash.
June 9 – NAS 3B/1B Chance Bossert (.268, 1 HR, 18 RBI) was announced to miss time until after the All Star Game with an oblique strain.
June 10 – While the Miners trash the Rebels, 16-4, PIT 1B Danny Santillano (.365, 10 HR, 40 RBI) hits two home runs to drive in six runs in the game.
June 10 – SFB OF George Hawthorne (.271, 5 HR, 21 RBI) hits a home run in the third inning for the only score in the Bayhawks’ 1-0 win over the Knights.
June 13 – Vancouver infielder Nelson Millan (.222, 3 HR, 16 RBI) has four hits and as many RBI from the #8 hole in a 17-8 madhouse win over the Scorpions.
June 15 – PIT SP Jonas Mejia (7-3, 3.86 ERA) no-hits the Aces on draft day, issuing eight strikeouts and three walks while otherwise dominating the Vegas lineup. This is the second no-hitter of the season and the fifth in Miners history, who most recently had John Key spin a no-no in 2018.
June 15 – CIN 1B Dave Garcia (.272, 11 HR, 43 RBI) drives in five runs as the Cyclones demolish the Indians, 17-3.

Complaints and stuff

…sorry… no time for much talk… the draft is gonna start in like three minutes, and I have to get across this six-lane city street teeming with cars! (puts a foot into the first lane and is angrily honked at by a taxi driver approaching at 5mph) – Hey! Did you just honk at me! – Are you, are you actually shouting back at me now?? – Yeah, come on out here, I’ll reroll your turban for you!!

Fun Fact: Richmond’s Danny Flores hit for a natural cycle against the Bayhawks on Draft Day in 2014.

(would like to go into more detail, but is chased through moving traffic by the turbaned taxi driver)
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:52 PM   #2906
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2031 AMATEUR DRAFT

Once I had shaken off my new friend – I coyly rolled myself through under a garbage truck, while the insensitive taxi driver ran into the side of the same vehicle – I was able to make it to the draft room unmolested. Our scout was already waiting for me with his assembled reports, including the hotlist:

SP Chris Crowell (13/14/14) * – BNN #9
SP Mark Holliday (11/14/11) – BNN #7
SP Denny Marsh (12/11/12)
SP Al Scott (11/14/9) – BNN #1

CL Austin Holt (18/14/12)

1B Chris Delagrange (10/14/14) – BNN #5
1B/LF/RF Will Luna (12/11/7) *
1B/RF/LF John Marz (13/9/7) * – BNN #8

OF Manny Fernandez (12/10/9)
OF Ryan Murray (12/11/14) – BNN #2
OF Joe Ritchey (13/10/16) * – BNN #6

As elaborated earlier, the Raccoons had three picks in the top 30 and the shuffle would start with the #5 pick for them. What the Critters really wanted was one of those outfield bats. We still didn’t know 100% which player we liked the best of those three. We’d be really glad to get ANY of them.

…and while I was still huffing and puffing, the draft began in earnest already. The Rebels had the first pick and took Joe Ritchey at #1. Alright, well, still two more on the board then … at least until the Stars selected Ryan Murray at #2. The Cyclones took Chris Delagrange with the #3 pick, leaving us still a slight chance to grab Manny Fernandez…! - … and we’d get him! The Aces took Chris Crowell – a wonderfully exciting pitching prospect that didn’t deserve to be slighted like this by us – with the #4 pick, and next were the Coons and pounced on Manny Fernandez like any hungry coon pounced on a piece of apple pie with whipped cream!

The Scorpions took outfielder Chris Sandstrom at #6 before Mark Holliday went #7 to the Crusaders. Denny Marsh fell to the damn Elks at #8. More hotlist players departed to Washington (Al Scott, #11) and Tijuana (Austin Holt, #13). This left only the two hotlist players that we considered first basemen even though they were listed as corner outfielders as secondary or even primary position, Luna and Marz. Both were high schoolers. Luna batted lefty, Marz from the right side. It was narrow – and while Marz was ranked in the top 10 by BNN and Luna wasn’t, our scouts saw more power potential and a bit more agility in Luna, who wasn’t just bluntly fat and immobile. We took him over Marz, who was also completely off the tables with that, since we didn’t need the two of them standing on each other’s paws in Aumsville. This didn’t become a huge conundrum – Marz was taken #19 by the Wolves, officially concluding the hotlist for this year.

There was no need to address going forward and we tried to find the best player at any given time with no regards for what we already had in the system after this – except that we didn’t need another first baseman in the low minors, and we also satisfied our need for catchers when we took Matt Hartley in the fourth round, so catchers were no longer interesting after that. So by the eighth round there were still about ten players on the shortlist, but only three of them were not ruled out by previous picks, and that point we only had taken three pitchers, so maybe look into that some more…

+++

2031 PORTLAND RACCOONS DRAFT CLASS

Round 1 (#5) – OF Manny Fernandez, 21, from Caguas, Puerto Rico – left-handed batter with a broad assortment of tools, including contact ability, a healthy amount of power, excellent defense, and really quick hindpaws! We are excited!
Round 1 (#15) – 1B/LF/RF Will Luna, 18, from Chesterfield, MO – a hitter first, a defender much later; Luna has strong contact and power potential, but will likely always be a defensive liability, no matter where he shows up.
Supp. Round (#27) – SP Jonathan Dykstra, 21, from Blaine MN – right-hander with a 4-pitch mix that includes the classic staples of a curve and slider as well as an interesting forkball. Also has Dutch ancestry and knows how to dance with those wooden shoes.
Round 2 (#50) – LF/RF/1B Eric Davidson, 20, from Los Angeles, CA – really can do a bit of everything, with solid ratings for contact, power, and eye, good speed, and workable defense at a corner position.
Round 3 (#74) – SP Jerry Hodges, 17, from Central City, KY – right-hander with a 5-pitch mix that we are already looking forward to sorting out. Very nice changeup; needs work on the 87mph heater. Probably won’t pile up strikeouts at any level, but could be molded into a control guy.
Round 4 (#98) – C Matt Hartley, 20, from Wilson, NC – good defensive catcher with a ravenous arm and remarkable contact potential when at the plate himself; he does run like a catcher, though.
Round 5 (#122) – 2B Barry Schuster, 20, from Rossmoor, CA – excellent defensive second baseman, maybe a perennial Gold Glover! That he is to be found in the triple digits in picks probably has a bit to do with his lackluster bat; if you can make a singles slapper out of him, you’ve already gained something.
Round 6 (#146) – SP Josh Ridenour, 18, from Ontario, CA – if I say that this kid reminds me of Mark Roberts despite being right-handed, I mean the interesting stuff as well as the launchpad potential. Fastball’s dead straight. See you later.
Round 7 (#170) – SS/2B Eddie Lavender, 18, from Seattle Hills-Silver Firs, WA – another singles-slapping glove-first kid, but he’s interesting because his arm his probably his strongest asset in the field and nobody ever had the idea of dropping him at third base, where his good, but not great, range will probably be hidden and he could really zing it. We will try that approach.
Round 8 (#194) – CL Chris Stine, 20, from Holliston, MA – right-hander firing at 93 with a potentially good curveball, but definitely not big-league closer material.
Round 9 (#218) – CL Tom Miller, 21, from Edison, NJ – another right-hander but with less zing than Stine; throws only 90, and the curve is not nearly as groovy, or curvy.
Round 10 (#242) – SP Travis Sims, 18, from Collier Manor-Cresthaven, FL – really only has two-and-a-half pitches, headlined by a 87mph heater (“warmer”?), and then there was video of him getting taken deep three times in one game in high school…
Round 11 (#266) – SP Mitch Hajduk, 18, from Detroit, MI – throws left-handed (surprise!) and has a swooping curve. Now we just have to make him throw the 87mph heater for a strike…
Round 12 (#290) – LF/RF Eli Dunn, 20, from Bloomingdale, IL – not that much to like here, to be honest. *Some* contact and power potential, coupled with poor range, poor speed, and what seems to be a case of blindness as to what’s a ball and what’s a strike.
Round 13 (#314) – SP Matt Kissick, 17, from Five Points, FL – left-hander from Five Points with five fingers and a curveball… we really have drafted a lot of curveball pitchers this time… will any of them make it? Probably not.

+++

All picks will be assigned to Aumsville.

To make room in the minors, we axed a number of other players from the system, including some notable ones. Headlining the group of goners was right-hander Steve Costilow. The 29-year-old former fifth-rounder had appeared in five seasons for the Raccoons, totaling 47 games and a 7.48 ERA with a 3-3 record. This year he was getting torched in St. Petersburg and the clock was up for him. He was joined by Billy Ramm, 28, left-hander in Ham Lake(!). He had been in the Coons’ rotation to start the 2029 season, which had quickly derailed into something ugly for both the team and him. Total lack of control at all levels and no hope to reel him in again. 46 appearances in the majors, including 16 starts (32/16 for the Coons), with a 9-7 record and 4.11 ERA and over five walks per nine innings. Now, Matt Stonecipher would line up neatly with those guys, but he’d get one last chance, mainly because he was much further away from 30 and had wicked stuff after all. Just no harness for it. But he was moved back to St. Pete after spending most of this season in Ham Lake, and it was about delivering now.

Also released was 2B/SS/LF/RF Edwin Alvarez, who was depth in AAA for a few years. This season, the 29-year-old was batting .143 in St. Petersburg. He had gone 1-for-13 for the Coons last year and was a career .198 batter in the Bigs.

Further draft picks whisked away: southpaw Pat Guttormson (2026, 4th round); right-hander Brett Morgan (2026, 9th round); 2B David Bartelt (2030, 7th round); outfielder Jesus Morales (2030, 9th round); outfielder Brian Cannon (2029, 5th round); most of them were too old for the level they were stuck at (like, 26 and in AA), and some (Bartelt, Cannon) were just galactic busts that couldn’t hit the least lick on a stick…

Alright, now catch a plane to Nashville, then fly back here to New York on the weekend… not great timing…
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Old 07-10-2019, 06:15 PM   #2907
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Raccoons (26-35) @ Blue Sox (29-31) – June 16-18, 2031

Road trip for the Coons, who could now take their losing to other places again. The first such place would be Nashville, where the resident Sox were third in the FL East, seven games behind the leader. They sat eighth in runs scored, fifth in runs allowed, and had a +3 run differential. It really looked like they were coming out of the pitch black hole they had been encamped in for virtually all of the 2020s – they had finished in the bottom two in their division seven times, including five straight last-place finishes. The Raccoons also hadn’t lost a series to the Blue Sox since 2019, but part of this was that we hadn’t even played them for five years. Our most recent meeting saw us come out on top, two games to one, in 2025.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (2-2, 2.54 ERA) vs. Sean Fowler (3-7, 5.66 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-3, 3.88 ERA) vs. Alfredo Vargas (6-2, 3.04 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (2-6, 5.99 ERA) vs. Mike Bass (4-4, 2.77 ERA)

All righties here!

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – 1B Howden – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – P Gurney
NAS: CF Ugolino – SS Salmonsen – 3B J. Allen – 1B R. Santiago – LF E. Rendon – RF Eppler – 2B J. Cabrera – C R. Vargas – P Fowler

The Coons scored a few in the early going here, with Wallace singling home Ramos, who stole his first base in over a week after hitting a leadoff single off Sean Fowler. Ramos opened the third inning with a double to right-center then. This time Jamison walked and Wallace landed a bloop RBI double that almost died bending over Ruben Santiago, dropped mere inches on the fair side of the rightfield line, and then immediately started to burrow its way into foul ground. Howden chipped in a sac fly after a poor groundout by Hereford, extending the lead to 3-0 by the end of the third inning. The Blue Sox also had a chance in the bottom 2nd, but sending Brian Eppler from first base on a Jerry Cabrera double to left was met with determined resistance by Matt Jamieson, who threw a beam to knock out the runner at home. Gurney wasn’t flashy but looked rather consistent and in control. It took four innings for a Blue Sock to send a Coons outfielder backwards, but Ruben Santiago – one piece of the 2021 trade for Tim Stalker and Billy Brotman! – flew out to Jamieson. But never forget – the Raccoons can never, ever have a nice thing. Gurney’s fifth began with leadoff singles by Eppler and Cabrera, and while Ricardo Vargas grounded out and Sean Fowler whiffed, Fabien Ugolino (once with New York) then dropped a single into shallow left and two runs scored on the play. That wasn’t all, though, because before Gurney could recollect himself, Seth Salmonsen and Jim Allen hit back-to-back bombs to leftfield, and all of a sudden a 3-0 lead hadn’t only vanished, but had imploded and morphed into a 5-3 deficit. And the inning wasn’t even over yet – Gurney walked Santiago and allowed a single to Edwin Rendon, then was yanked. Nick Derks replaced him, gave up an RBI single to Eppler, and then was dumb/lucky enough to have Cabrera line out right to Wallace, ending a 6-run cascade. And that was really all there was to the game. Waiting on a Raccoons comeback turned out to be a waste of energy, as the Critters just laid down and die. The only Brownshirt to reach scoring position in the last four innings was Jimmy Wallace, knocking a 2-out triple in the eighth inning, and he was swiftly stranded by Hereford grounding out, poorly. Matt Nunley drew a 2-out walk in the ninth to extend the inevitable against Tim Colangelo, but the inevitable was only denied for one more plate appearance by Chris Baldwin, who hacked himself out to end the game. 6-3 Blue Sox. Ramos 2-4, 2B; Wallace 3-4, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Martinez
NAS: RF Ugolino – SS Salmonsen – 3B J. Allen – CF E. Rendon – 1B R. Santiago – LF Eppler – C Jai. Jackson – 2B J. Cabrera – P A. Vargas

Fabien Ugolino drew a leadoff walk in the first, but was caught stealing by Leal, which was not something that happened to the three Blue Sox that rocked hard base hits off Martinez in the opening inning. Jim Allen homered. Edwin Rendon singled. And Ruben Santiago hit an RBI double. Eppler flew out to right, keeping it at 2-0 for the time being. The Raccoons would score a sac fly in the third inning, despite a ****ty bunt by Martinez, who popped out to Vargas with Vanatti and Leal on the bases and no outs. Ramos walked them full, and Stalker hit the sac fly, but it was all very bland and not nearly enough. Wallace grounded out to Jerry Cabrera to end the inning and leave Critters on the corners. Top 4th, Jamieson with a leadoff single! …and Howden, the dumb pig, with a double play grounder to Cabrera… Nashville added a pair in the bottom 4th, however. Rendon hit a single and stole second, AND reached third base on Leal’s throwing error. The run was unearned after Eppler’s sac fly, but was changed to an earned run after Jaiden Jackson, venerable backstop, hit a moonshot to right-center…

Jackson would knock out Martinez in the sixth inning, then with a 2-run double to right-center. Even with those four RBI, he was still only batting .197, but when had that ever stopped the opposing team from cracking the little numb skull of any of our hurlers…? The scoring was done by Santiago and Eppler, who had reached scoring position on two singles and a Jamieson error, flubbing the pickup on the Eppler single, not that it made much of a difference (besides the disgrace of having two each in hits and errors at this point of the game…). Nick Derks ended the inning, but now the Coons were 6-1 behind and didn’t look like even potential winners. But they did bring up the tying run at least, which is not to mean that they scored said tying run. But the eighth began with soft singles by Vanatti and Leal, and while Hereford struck out, Ramos knocked a double off the fence to plate Vanatti. Stalker popped out unhelpfully, and Jimmy Wallace’s 2-out, 2-run single was nice, but still didn’t even knock out Alfredo Vargas right away. He still had enough to get Jamieson to ground out to short. Nobody reached base in the ninth. 6-4 Blue Sox. Leal 2-3;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – 1B Howden – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – CF Catella – P Gutierrez
NAS: CF Ugolino – SS Salmonsen – 3B J. Allen – 1B R. Santiago – LF E. Rendon – RF Eppler – 2B Vitale – C R. Vargas – P Bass

The Coons got their first three batters on, but nobody across in the first inning. Part of the blame had to reside with Ramos, who singled and was caught stealing before Jamieson doubled and Wallace walked. The H brigade then again failed miserably in their duties. You know, just like Rico Gutierrez, who allowed a run in the first on a Jim Allen triple (plating Ugolino, who had drawn a leadoff walk). But the Coons tied the game in the second inning without the benefit of a base hit. Mike Bass nailed Sean Catella and walked three others, including Jamieson with the bases loaded, to force in a run before Wallace ended the inning with a groundout. Top 3rd, the bases were loaded again on a Hereford double and walks to Tovias and Nunley, when Sean Catella dropped a 1-out single to plate the go-ahead run. Bass at this point had six walks in 2.1 innings, and Rico Gutierrez was up with his best RBI chance of his career. Just hold still, y’know? He didn’t. Gutierrez poked, grounded to short, and a 6-4-3 ended the inning. Behind the ballpark, to the right of the batter’s eye, I could see a chainlink fence bordering a junkyard. That was, I resolved, where I would tie Rico’s leash to on the way to the airport.

Top 4th, all the walks suddenly were singles. The Coons slapped five of them and scored three runs off a completely swamped Mike Bass, Wallace getting on RBI and Tovias nabbing two. Speaking of singles, Gutierrez would hit a pair of those in his next two plate appearances, but what were we even getting mad about anymore… at least the lead didn’t vanish as pronto as we were used to. Ruben Santiago hit a jack in the bottom 4th, but that only counted for a single run and the score was still 5-2 at the stretch. Rico came back out after that, despite Santiago leading off and with only 68 pitches on the clock, indicating a certain hittability for the umpteenth time this year. He threw only six more pitches, enough for the Blue Sox to set up camp on the corners on Santiago and Rendon singles. Ricky Ohl was called upon. He allowed the lead run to score on an Eppler single, but then got a pop from Erik Vitale and rung up Vargas. Started to look better! Then PH Jose Jaramillo hit a fly to deep right, Wallace couldn’t catch up, and the ball hit off the fence for a game-tying double… Jaramillo was at second as the go-ahead run, while Ohl went 0-2 on Ugolino before balking the runner to third, then walked Ugolino on top of that. We sought salvation in Mauricio Garavito, while Ohl was consumed by the big hook. Garavito allowed a run-scoring infield single on Salmonsen’s ****ty roller, and Jim Allen fouled out clumsily to end yet another nightmare inning – every game now had to have one! …much as none would have a Coons rally. Rob Owensby and Alex Ramos would pitch the last two innings, wasting only 18 pitches between them to get the last six outs. 6-5 Blue Sox. Ramos 2-4, BB; Jamieson 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Catella 1-2, RBI;

You have to admit, the team is always up for a surprise. When we got Ragged Rico through six innings with a 3-run lead, I was almost sure that they wouldn’t **** this one up, too. Alas, such is the American Dream – nothing is impossible! Believe in your possibilities. Even if that means getting swept against all odds in ****ing Nashville. (yells at the honking bus driver) YES, I’M COMING, BUT THE **** LET ME FINISH MY MONOLOGUE!!

Raccoons (26-38) @ Crusaders (32-31) – June 19-22, 2031

Back in New York, and I shouldn’t have ever left. Wouldn’t have missed anything in Nashville… the Crusaders were still hopeful for their 2031 campaign and sat a manageable 7.5 games out of first place at this point, which wasn’t anything that two or three shrewd moves couldn’t make up. They badly needed offense – they were in the least three in both allowing and conceding runs, and their run differential was actually negative at -5 (Coons: -14). We held a tender 2-1 edge in the season series.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (3-3, 4.74 ERA) vs. Chris Rountree (4-7, 3.12 ERA)
Ed Hague (4-3, 4.48 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (9-3, 3.20 ERA)
Jason Gurney (2-3, 3.50 ERA) vs. Robby Gonzalez (3-4, 3.16 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-4, 4.35 ERA) vs. Keith Roofener (3-6, 4.35 ERA)

Rountree would be the only southpaw they have to offer.

This was also the team that hit the fewest homers in the league, so we’d see how that mixed up with Mark Roberts. “Launchpad” had surrendered more than HALF as many dingers as all Crusaders together had hit on the season…..

There was a roster move, with Victor Anaya sent back to AAA despite seven shutout innings, and a right-handed bat being recalled, but that was merely Wilson Rodriguez…

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 1B Howden – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – C Tovias – CF Catella – RF Rodriguez – 2B Baldwin – P Roberts
NYC: 2B M. Hurtado – 1B Fowlkes – SS Obando – CF Coca – RF Reardon – C Dear – 3B Czachor – LF Jo. Richardson – P Rountree

The Coons drew a walk in each of the first two innings, and both times hit into a double play, Jamieson in the first and Catella in the second. But Roberts held up, and the Coons could take the lead in the third inning when not only Rodriguez and Baldwin opened with singles through the right side, where the Crusaders’ defense was brittle. Roberts had them on the corners, hit a ball through Pat Fowlkes for an RBI single, 1-0, and then Stalker hit a single into left-center for another run to come across. Rountree walked Jarod Howden to load the bases with no outs, which would surely extinguish the inning. The 2-1 to Jamieson, hit high to center, Tony Coca scurrying back aaaand… giving up. GRAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAMMMM!!!!

That wasn’t all in the inning, with Hereford continuing the barrage with a double to center. Tovias dropped a single, and with runners on the corners Catella hit into another double play, but this one at least got a run home, 7-0, but then the Crusaders got involved. John Richardson hit a bomb in the bottom 3rd, the solo homer being the 18th home run off Mark Roberts this season, and in only 84 innings. Bottom 4th, Guillermo Obando and Tony Coca hit back-to-back doubles off Roberts for another run, but that was not all. Chris Reardon, Matt Dear, Ryan Czachor … ALL hit singles after that. Reardon brought in the Crusaders’ third run, then was sent from second on Czachor’s single, but thrown out at home plate by Catella. That was only the second out in the inning, regrettably, and the Coons’ pen was active. John Richardson hit an RBI single, 7-4, before PH Tony Fuentes grounded out to Baldwin. What pitching! What a team…

Roberts issued a leadoff walk to Mario Hurtado in the bottom 5th, but Fowlkes hit into a double play. While we obviously should know better, Roberts batted for himself in the sixth inning, then was back on the mound in the bottom of the same frame. He walked Dear, hit Czachor, and only our base reluctance to change lefty-for-lefty kept him in against Richardson, who fouled out to Hereford to end the inning… Roberts’ final act was a K to PH Victor Ayala to begin the bottom 7th – the switch-hitter Ayala was quite weak batting right-handed and there was that base reluctance again – but then was removed when the top of the order, all right-handers, came back up. Jonathan Fleischer came off his suspension with a 4-pitch walk to Hurtado, who was caught stealing, then also walked Fowlkes before Baldwin made a nifty play on Obando to end the inning despite all attempts by the pitching corps to piss away what once had been a 7-0 lead… Bottom 8th, Ohl was trying to **** up another lead – he wasn’t 0-4 with five blown saves for nothing… Coca hit a double, Dear walked, and they were on the corners for Richardson with two outs. Garavito got the assignment, but allowed an RBI single to center. Dave O’Rourke pinch-hit and ripped another RBI single, and here came another reliever, this time Chris Wise, entering in a double switch that put Ramos in the #9 hole, which would lead off the top 9th. The count ran full, but Wise got Hurtado to miss a 3-2 pitch and the strikeout ended the tumultuous inning. Ramos would not get on base against Casey Moore. Stalker and Howden did, but pinch-hitters Wallace and Nunley both made outs to keep them stranded. Bottom 9th, Fowlkes opened the parade with a double on an 0-2 pitch, putting the tying run in the trouble zone right away… Nunley ranged wide to intercept an Obando grounder for the first out. Coca grounded out to Wise, but the runner moved up on the play and was now 90 feet away. Reardon – fly to right, high, deep… high… Rodriguez to the track … and… it came down into the glove …! (exhales!) 7-6 Coons. Stalker 3-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Jamieson 1-4, HR, 4 RBI;

First career save for Chris Wise – not quite a doozy.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – P Hague
NYC: 2B M. Hurtado – 1B Fowlkes – SS Obando – CF Coca – RF Reardon – C Dear – 3B T. Fuentes – LF Jo. Richardso – P E. Cannon

Offense was exceedingly slow for the Raccoons, who through five innings scored one run on three hits off Eddie Cannon. One of the hits was a fourth-inning RBI double by Elias Tovias, scoring Wallace, and that was the only score going into the bottom 5th, which Matt Dear opened with a double to center. Ed Hague, up to here solid and almost convincing me that he was not a total fraud, then walked the bases loaded and conceded the tying run on a Cannon sac fly to center, then restocked the sacks with a full-count walk to Hurtado. Hague fell to 3-1 against Fowlkes, who lacked patience to wait for ball four and instead ripped a 2-run double to center. Obando plated a run with a groundout, after which Hague walked Coca, the fourth walk in the inning and the fifth in the game, and allowed another RBI single to Reardon, then was shanked. Another Raccoons starter failing to cover five innings without imploding – awesome! David Fernandez got Dear to ground out, finally ending a 5-run frame… And that was basically this game. The Raccoons were not remotely near a comeback despite a Jimmy Wallace homer in the eighth inning. The Crusaders leaned back and maintained their lead and won this one comfortably. 5-2 Crusaders. Wallace 3-4, HR, RBI; Tovias 2-4, 2B, RBI; Jamieson 1-1, BB;

(stems fists into his sides and prepares to start yelling at the miserable scums)

… ah, what does it … it doesn’t get us anywhere, either…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 3B Hereford – 2B Stalker – CF Catella – 1B Vanatti – C Leal – P Gurney
NYC: 3B Czachor – 1B Fowlkes – SS Obando – CF Coca – C Dear – 2B J. Brown – RF O’Rourke – LF Jo. Richardson – P R. Gonzalez

While the Raccoons loaded the bases and didn’t score in the first, Tony Coca hit a grand slam on Gurney’s 17th pitch of the game, so there was that. Two walks and Fowlkes single had loaded the bags, and Coca had banished the first baseball he saw for a four-spot. Another game in the bin, and it had taken all of 19 minutes to arrive at that unhappy spot. Ramos singled home Vanatti in the top of the second inning, but Coca pulled the run back, batting with the bags full (…) and one out in the bottom 2nd and hitting a ball to Ramos’ right, where he couldn’t turn two. Obviously, Gurney had nothing. Gurney was ****, from top to bottom, and needed 63 pitches through two ****ty innings, in which he allowed four hits, four walks, and five runs.

Amazingly, that was good for a no-decision. The Coons made up two runs in the third, and two more in the fifth, in the course of which Gurney was hit for, but that was with the game already tied and Howden flew out in his place to strand Vanatti on second base. Vanatti and Leal had brought in Hereford (single) and Stalker (double) with a single and a groundout, respectively. Fleischer held off the Crusaders in the bottom 5th, and then Ramos doubled, Jamieson singled, and Wallace doubled to take the lead, 6-5, and with two men in scoring position and nobody out! The Crusaders ordered relief man Jesse Wright to walk Hereford intentionally, putting the Coons into their favorite death trap from which there was no escape – three on, nobody out. The Coons went on to hit into not one, but TWO force plays at home. Stalker got Jamieson thrown out by Obando, and Catella hit a comebacker to kill off Wallace. Wright could have been save, but then lost Vanatti on balls, 7-5, Obando could not come in quick enough for a pathetic roller by Leal that became a 2-out RBI infield single, and Nunley drew all balls hitting for Fleischer, forcing in another run. New pitcher Isaiah Pooser then got Ramos, heretofore unretired in the game, to ground out, with the score 9-5 in the middle of the sixth. The Coons didn’t tag on in the next innings, but were threatening to run out of bullpen with both Josh Boles in the seventh and Nick Derks in the eight scuffling. Josh Brown hit a homer off Derks that cut the gap to 9-6 through eight. Bottom 9th, Chris Wise made a good bid to **** up another lead. He issued not one, but two leadoff walks to Tony Fuentes and Guillermo Obando. Coca hit into a fielder’s choice, but the tying run remained at the plate. Dear grounded to the right side, Stalker to Ramos… and again too slow to turn two. Fuentes scored, 9-7, and Hurtado pinch-hit for the pitcher in the #6 spot. He, too, walked, and Dave O’Rourke hit an RBI single. There wasn’t even another reliever left besides the burned husk of Garavito. Richardson batted with with tying and winning runs in scoring position, licked a 1-2 pitch over the head of Hereford, and down the line it went for a walkoff double. 10-9 Crusaders. Ramos 3-5, BB, 2 2B, RBI; Wallace 2-6, 2B, RBI; Hereford 3-4, BB; Stalker 2-4, BB, 2B; Catella 2-5, 2B, RBI; Vanatti 2-3, BB, 3 RBI; Nunley (PH) 0-0, BB, RBI;

The concept of a closer in itself is a weird one. Maybe we should just pitch them in alphabetical order or whatever…

We had to make roster moves in deference to a completely blasted bullpen. Nick Derks and David Fernandez were sent to AAA through no (major) fault of their own, and we brought up two rested arms in Nick Bates and Bryan Rabbitt. Both had been *eh* for the Coons in 2030, but had ERA’s in the 2’s in St. Pete this year…

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – P Martinez
NYC: 2B M. Hurtado – 1B Fowlkes – CF Coca – RF Reardon – 3B T. Fuentes – SS J. Brown – C V. Ayala – LF O’Rourke – P Roofener

I was escorted out of the park in the first inning when I asked an attendant where the nearest gun store was located. This came after Martinez started his day with a 4-pitch walk to Mario Hurtado. He walked Fowlkes on as many pitches, then had Coca hit into a fielder’s choice in a 1-0 count, which counted for an out alright, never mind that of his ten pitches so far none fooled anybody. The Crusaders would take the lead on a Reardon sac fly, but at least that was all the first-inning damage. The Coons even took a 2-1 lead in the third inning on Tim Stalker’s homer, only for the bottom 3rd to involve another 4-pitch leadoff walk to Hurtado. Fowlkes singled, Coca walked on four pitches, and Reardon hit it outta here, a slam to dead center, and the Crusaders were ahead 5-2…

By the fourth inning, Hurtado was on base for the third time. He had walked every time, and he had seen exactly 12 pitches. Unfortunately, my background check not only came back positive, but also with several red flags that led the clerk in the gun store literally across the street from the Crusaders’ park to advise me to better leave without much of a fuss or he would press that big red button on his counter. Martinez, the fool, was hit for in the top 5th after Howden and Vanatti had reached base. Rich Hereford ripped a 3-piece off Roofener, and amazingly that also took Martinez off the hook as the home run tied the game at five. Portland even took the lead with two outs and Wright pitching again when Nunley dropped in a 2-out single to score Jimmy Wallace from second base. The bases then filled up with a walk to Tovias, after which Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, popped out on a 1-0 pitch to strand all three runners.

And what better time to give Nick Bates his season debut than with a 6-5 game in the fifth? Reardon single, walk to Fuentes, single by Ayala – the bags full with two outs, 1-2 to O’Rourke, rip and a miss, inning over. OH BOY. The Coons had the bags full again in the seventh… and brought up Howden, again… Wright ran a full count against him, then lost him, forcing in an insurance run, 7-5. Vanatti struck out, bringing up Rabbitt, who we would have liked to pitch two innings, but we could not just forego the chance for another run. Catella batted for him…. and flew out. Fleischer came on for the bottom 7th, nailed Coca and walked Reardon on four pitches, then was removed for Garavito. Let’s see whether we can run out of pitchers altogether in regulation!! Garavito walked Ryan Czachor on four pitches, giving the Crusaders three on and no outs, at which point I was deep into a huge glass of cheap bourbon at the bar where I had spent the previous Sunday, too, and was babbling crazy talk to a tiny glass with toothpicks. Brown hit a grounder that pulled Nunley in and allowed Coca to score, 7-6, but Ayala hit a sharper grounder off Garavito, also to Nunley, and that one kept the runners pinned while the second out was made. Now we only had to get O’Rourke to- ah, **** YOU, Garavito! Single to center, Reardon in, Czachor in, and the Coons had blown their twenty-seventh lead of the week … 8-7 New York now and either I had a stroke and wet myself or I had just poured my drink over my shoes, which suddenly felt moist… turned out it was the latter. Barkeep – more, please! (slams a tenner onto the counter)

Matt Bosse and Dan Lyke then blew the *Crusaders’* lead in the eighth inning. Ramos singled off the former, advanced on a grounder, then scored when Wallace singled to right-center off the latter, which knotted the tallies at eight. Jamieson lined out to Brown and Nunley rolled out to Fowlkes to end the inning. Bottom 8th, Garavito got two outs, then walked Coca, Reardon, and Czachor in succession. How on earth was this even possible?? The Coons opted for Ricky Ohl, entering in a double switch removing Nunley for Baldwin in the cocky assumption they’d have to pitch the ninth. They probably didn’t. Josh Brown dropped a roller in no man’s land between the mound and first, Ohl and Howden both sprung for it, neither got there soon enough… and nobody was covering first base, with Stalker near second base when the play began to account for the pull-happy righty Brown. 2-out RBI infield single. Ayala grounded out, but what for?

Top 9th, Tovias opened with a double to left against Casey Moore. Alright, Joe… (slams a hundo onto the counter) Don’t ask, just keep the stuff flowin’ in here. (points at glass) – Your name ain’t Joe? I don’t give a ****. – In the game, Howden cracked a single to center, putting Coons on the corners for Vanatti, who struck out, but Baldwin amazingly hit a single to center for his second RBI of the season, this one tying the score. Ramos scorched a double down the line in left, bringing in Howden to take a 10-9 lead. THE CRAZY. (yells at toothpicks) ARE YOU NOT EN-NNERTAINTED??? … Stalker struck out and Wallace grounded out to Abel Mora at first base to end the inning, which posed a slight dilemma in terms of closers. Boles had pitched two days in a row. Wise had been demolished the previous day. To heck with closers, let’s stay with Ohl. And no, there was no other pitcher left in the pen. We had added two more arms, and blown through everybody AGAIN. Ohl struck out O’Rourke, but allowed a single to Obando. He struck out Hurtado, but then allowed a single to Abel Mora. Ye-haaaay, Mora, that’s my boy!! Abel Mora’s gonna win us the ****ing game!! (empties glass once more, then throws it into the mirror behind the bar, resulting in plenty of shards, in exuberation) The Coons won indeed when Tony Coca grounded out to Stalker, even if for reasons not involving Abel Mora’s hitting prowess. 10-9 Coons. Ramos 4-6, 2B, RBI; Wallace 3-6, RBI; Jamison 2-5, 2B; Nunley 3-5, RBI; Vanatti 2-5; Hereford (PH) 1-1, HR, 3 RBI; Baldwin 1-1, RBI;

Oh l-llook, w-ww—wwww-won!! … and the boys – (hcks!!) th…boys are com-com-coming to pickmeup. Hey, boys …! Hi, Matt Nunley! I l-lo-love you! (kisses him on the lips) You, you, you, too! (tries to kiss the second guy, who is resisting) – What do-o you mean, your n-name is-s Offic-cccer and I am under arrest?

(is dragged out of the bar by the cops, but sings merrily)

In other news

June 16 – CIN 3B/SS Ricardo Rangel (.329, 3 HR, 30 RBI) suffers a career-ending concussion in the team’s 5-1 loss to the Thunder. The 4-time Gold Glover has to retire at the age of 31. Rangel, who spent his entire major league career with the Cyclones, hit .298 with 17 HR, 465 RBI, and 296 SB for his career.
June 22 – IND CL Marcus Owens (5-1, 1.38 ERA, 15 SV) is out for the year with a broken elbow sustained in a robbery in a shady part of town.
June 22 – A broken hand will keep DEN CF/LF Abel Madsen (.345, 16 HR, 45 RBI) out until August, and on top of that the Gold Sox also lose CL Tommy Weintraub (2-2, 1.35 ERA, 11 SV) with a bone spur in his elbow. He will also not return before August.
June 22 – VAN 1B David Fisher (.224, 11 HR, 33 RBI) goes deep for the only run in the Canadiens’ 1-0 win over the Titans.

Complaints and stuff

Seven times this week – SEVEN! – the Raccoons were either tied or ahead and fell behind in an inning with 3+ runs. Five times alone they blew a lead in an inning of 4+ runs. They are truly a staggering bunch. I don’t know what leaves me more at a loss for words, this, or that we split back-to-back 10-9 games with the Crusaders…

Why is Rico Gutierrez still here? Well, that chainlink fence next to the junkyard in Nashville had a sign explicitly forbidding teams tying ABL players’ leashes to it. Apparently the Rebels were trying that trick every time they crawled through there.

The horrendous pitching led to a week in which we were involved in the creation of a total of 88 runs; 40 for and 48 against, in case you weren’t sure. That is quite the impressive output… for the opposition more so than for us, unfortunately. I don’t even know what to do besides going to an 11-man bullpen… they are unmanageable right now.

AND we will have to stop over in Elkland before we can go home. Well, the rancid team has to. I can go home directly. Three games spent on the couch, weeping into the pillows. Yay, lucky me.

And with that I mean I can go home as soon as someone posts bail. I have high hopes in Maud in that regard. Maud will post bail any minute now.

(looks at the clock)

Aaany minute now.

Fun Fact: The Federal League team with the most 3-game sweeps against the Raccoons are the Rebels, who achieved the feat six times in the history of the league.

Interesting though that the most recent instance of us getting swept by Richmond came all the way back in 2005. This year we lost two of three, but we have played the Rebs 16 times since ’05 and all six sweeps that occurred then went in our favor. The most recent instance of that came in ’29.
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Last edited by Westheim; 07-11-2019 at 02:51 PM.
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Questdog (07-11-2019)
Old 07-11-2019, 12:04 PM   #2908
Archelirion
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Bloody hell dude. I can remember times where the 'coons have straight stunk more (been reading through 1998 lately and that rings a bell...) but I can't place a time that they've been so profligate. This bullpen is outstandingly, impressively, unbelievably bad.

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The concept of a closer in itself is a weird one. Maybe we should just pitch them in alphabetical order or whatever…
This made me giggle, as does so much of your writing. Still, your patience is nothing short of saintly.
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:40 PM   #2909
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archelirion View Post
Bloody hell dude. I can remember times where the 'coons have straight stunk more (been reading through 1998 lately and that rings a bell...) but I can't place a time that they've been so profligate. This bullpen is outstandingly, impressively, unbelievably bad.



This made me giggle, as does so much of your writing. Still, your patience is nothing short of saintly.
I appreciate the emotional support. And we will recall another lowlight of franchise history in this week's rapport.

Also, patience is relative. I am known to curse in ways that make even my actual version of Honeypaws blush
.

+++

Raccoons (28-40) @ Canadiens (31-37) – June 23-25, 2031

Dumpster fire here, wide-awake colonoscopy there – the Raccoons were so far 4-1 with a postponement against the formerly aspiring, but now equally routing damn Elks. Granted, no lead they couldn’t waffle away in a single sneeze was worth celebrating at this point, and I for my part was glad enough to be out of jail and to arrive at home *just* in the nick of time for first pitch on NWSN. The Elks ranked eighth in runs scored, fifth in runs allowed, and actually had a pitching staff that didn’t have for a primary ingredient “disturbing holes”.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (2-6, 5.99 ERA) vs. Logan Bessey (3-6, 4.52 ERA)
Mark Roberts (4-3, 4.81 ERA) vs. Fernando Nora (3-1, 2.09 ERA)
Ed Hague (4-4, 4.79 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (4-6, 3.92 ERA)

Southpaw in the opener, then two right-handers. Never mind that Nora had made only 11 starts – I don’t remember what a starting pitcher with an ERA in the 2’s feels like anymore…

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – RF Wallace – C Tovias – CF Catella – 1B Baldwin – P Gutierrez
VAN: CF Tessmann – 2B LeJeune – LF A. Torres – 1B D. Fisher – 3B Anton – RF Wojnarowski – C F. Garcia – SS N. Millan – P Bessey

To make things exciting before the inevitable pitching meltdown the Critters started this game offensively like a fire engine, rapping Logan Bessey for five hits and three runs in the opening inning. For a quick first thump, Ramos singled and Tim Stalker homered on a sub-par pitchout. Hereford and Wallace then hit singles, with Tovias’ grounder also getting past Matt Anton to allow Hereford to come around before Catella popped out and Baldwin whiffed to strand a pair. To anybody’s surprise Rico Gutierrez began his day with a K to Danny Tessmann, then remained unhit upon through the early innings. It took a David Fisher single with two outs in the fourth to get the Elks into the H column, and then a swift 2-run homer by Anton to make them appear under R as well…

The Coons kept piling on hits, but still only led 3-2 through five. When Catella and Baldwin opened the sixth inning with a pair of singles, they were out-hitting the damn Elks 10-2, though. Gutierrez bunted the runners over, Ramos was walked intentionally, and Tim Stalker was thus presented with the bags stacked and one out. Stalker hit a sac fly to center, and then Jamieson knocked an 0-2 pitch over the head of Brian Wojnarowski with two outs. Baldwin scored and Ramos tried to come around on his own account, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning, now with a 5-2 score. Rico worked around a leadoff single by Jesse LeJeune in the sixth inning, but was less fortunate in the seventh. Wojnarowski slapped a leadoff single up the middle, and Fernando Garcia rammed one past Hereford to put runners on the corners with the tying run at the plate, e.g. time for the pen to shine in the brightest light. With Ricky Ohl and Jonathan Fleischer unavailable, we couldn’t come up with a dumber move than to send Bryan Rabbitt. He conceded a run on Nelson Millan’s sac fly, which was dandy enough, got PH Vince Cuomo to pop out, and while Tessmann singled, LeJeune went down on strikes to end the bottom 7th with Portland still up by a pair. We even got the lead past Josh Boles in the eighth, and Chris Wise would face the bottom of the order in the ninth inning. How exciting! Nelson Millan’s 1-out double brought up the tying run, but Norman Day struck out in the #9 hole, and Tessmann popped out on the first pitch, and for once the Raccoons did not piss away an early lead …! 5-3 Critters! Ramos 2-4, BB; Jamieson 2-4, 2B, RBI; Hereford 2-3, BB;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Roberts
VAN: CF Tessmann – 2B LeJeune – LF A. Torres – 1B D. Fisher – 3B Anton – RF Wojnarowski – C F. Garcia – SS N. Millan – P Nora

Mark Roberts did all he could to make the Raccoons’ pen fall apart completely, giving up a homer to Millan in the bottom 2nd, then left after the second inning with a strained hamstring, leaving a 1-0 deficit to whoever could be mustered out there. Nick Bates’ arm was deemed expendable, but that wasn’t all yet. David Fisher would hit a fly to deep right in the bottom 3rd that moved weirdly in a crosswind and let Jimmy Wallace to adjust several times, and ultimately he had to lunge awkwardly while going sidewards and back at the same time. The catch was made – but Jimmy also came out with a hamstring issue. Oh goodness! Wilson Rodriguez took over.

Portland tied the game in the fourth, though this required Nunley and Vanatti to go to the corners with leadoff singles to allow Leal to knot the tally with a 6-4-3 double play. Bates struck out, having to bat one way or another. Not that he got very far into the game – he got stuck in the bottom 5th, where Tessmann opened with a single, was forced out by LeJeune, but Bates lost both Alex Torres and David Fisher on balls and was removed, looking completely gassed. Boles got pops from Anton and Wojnarowski to end the inning still tied 1-1. Neither team showed much offensive vigor at this point. Fleischer pitched 2.1 innings for the Coons before yielding to Garavito in the bottom 8th when Wojnarowski’s turn to bat came up. Astonishingly, the damn Elks hit for the left-handed batter, sending Matt Dehne, who flicked a single on 0-2, but then got doubled up on a Fernando Garcia comebacker, 1-6-3 to end the eighth. There I was on the couch, clutching all the pillows I could physically hold and hoped for the game to end before the 17th inning. Vanatti, Leal, and Jamieson made straight outs against Raul de la Rosa in the top of the ninth, but Mauricio Garavito threw only two more pitches in the bottom of the inning, the second of which Millan hit over the fence to indeed end the game. 2-1 Canadiens. Fleischer 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

Yes, that is two solo homers by the #8 hitter to put this game in the books.

It was also time for roster moves, although I had to call the Druid 17 times on Wednesday morning until he finally answered and gleefully reported that he had good news and bad news on the pair of hamstrings. The bad news was that Mark Roberts had to go to the DL for about a month, which would surely curtail his pursuit of a single-season record of homers allowed. The good news was that Wallace’s injury was much less severe. He would have to sit out the rubber game, but we were apparently reasonably confident that he could be back in the lineup on the weekend.

Either that, or the Druid needed another 12 hours of a headstart to hide the body…

Anyway, roster moves. The Coons put Mark Roberts on the DL and sent Nick Bates, who walked four in 2.1 innings in this game, back to St. Pete. We added two relievers for the time being since we didn’t need another starter until next week thanks to an off day on Thursday (the last one before the All Star Game). We replaced one Nick with another, recalling Derks, and also brought back Fernandez, whose ERA in St. Pete was 14 times as high as the one with the Critters, whatever the hell that meant…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – LF Jamieson – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – CF Vanatti – P Hague
VAN: C F. Garcia – 2B LeJeune – RF Wojnarowski – 1B D. Fisher – LF A. Torres – 3B Anton – CF N. Day – SS N. Millan – P J. Martin

The Coons began promising with a Ramos walk and a Stalker single, then were cut short by Martin who got Hereford to ground out before ringing up Jamieson and Howden. The Elks were less picky, getting a leadoff double into the leftfield corner from Garcia and an RBI single from LeJeune to put Hague in a hole before he logged a single out. The Coons couldn’t score their catcher after his own leadoff double in the fourth – Tovias hit a high bouncer off the track and over the fence for a ground rule variety double before being left at third base. The Elks in turn added a second run when Alex Torres hit a leadoff single through between Ramos and Nunley, stole two bases, and came on around to score in the bottom 4th…

Torres went on to rub it in against the Coons in this game. After a leadoff double by Wojnarowski off the entirely hapless Hague in the bottom 6th, Torres singled him home, stole second again, and then scored on Matt Anton’s single to extend the lead to 4-0. Both starting pitchers disappeared in the top 7th, when Catella hit for Hague, but grounded out to begin the inning, well before 2-out singles by Stalker and Hereford knocked out Joe Martin. J.D. Hamm struck out Jamieson to end the inning, though. The damn Elks kept adding, though; Tessmann laced a pinch-hit double off Fernandez to begin the bottom 7th and would come around on a LeJeune single, 5-0. That was before the bottom fell out of the damn pen entirely in the eighth. Nick Derks came on, allowed a single to Torres, then walked the bases full without logging an out. Millan popped out foul, which was a start, but Derks then walked PH Steve Gries to put a run across, and was knocked out by Garcia’s 2-run single. Garavito had to dig him out, and not that the extra three runs made a difference, but GOOD GRIEF, THE RELIEF!!

…which still wasn’t the end of the game. Ramos led off the ninth against Ed Miller with a single, then watched as Stalker and Hereford made outs. With the game lost and Jamieson at 0-for-3, Wilson Rodriguez was sent out to get the at-bat and unexpectedly homered to left. Yay, consolation runs! Which still wasn’t the end, because the very next pitch nailed Jarod Howden, and Jarod objected very much, flung the bag, flung the helmet, and then raced out to try and fling one into Miller’s face. He very nearly clawed the damn Elk’s eyes out, but was held back at the last second. Both him and Miller were ejected. Chris Sinkhorn eventually struck out Nunley to end the game. 8-2 Canadiens. Stalker 2-4; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1, HR, 2 RBI; Tovias 3-4, 2B;

Jarod Howden and Ed Miller were both hammered with 3-game suspensions, so Howden would miss the weekend set against the Thunder.

Raccoons (29-42) vs. Thunder (38-34) – June 27-29, 2031

Oh boy, a winning team! The Thunder were nevertheless nine games out in the South with the Condors seemingly proving elusive again. Oklahoma ranked second in runs scored, but were also conceding plenty of runs with a crummy pitching staff. Their run differential was only +3, with rotation and pen both eighth in terms of ERA. The Coons held a 2-1 edge in the season series.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (2-3, 4.15 ERA) vs. Dusty Kulp (3-6, 4.65 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-4, 4.72 ERA) vs. Peter Gill (7-3, 2.63 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-6, 5.87 ERA) vs. Luis Flores (2-5, 4.65 ERA)

One righty, then two lefties to contend with in this set.

Also, the Thunder had the fewest stolen bases in the league, having nipped only 15 bags at this point.

The Raccoons also used the Howden suspension to arrange for the major league debut of “prospect” Craig Hollenbeck. The 24-year-old first baseman from Cheektowaga, New York, taken #53 in the 2025 draft, was hitting .266 with four homers in AAA, his usual crummy output.

Game 1
OCT: CF Olszewski – 2B Byrd – C Burgess – 1B D. Cruz – SS Serrato – 3B Matsumoto – LF R. Gomez – RF May – P Kulp
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 1B Hollenbeck – CF Vanatti – P Gurney

Batting seventh, Hollenbeck didn’t get his first plate appearance until the third inning, then hit a 15-foot grounder on which he was thrown out by at least 60 feet by Mike Burgess. Even earlier, Hollenbeck had blatantly missed an Alex Serrato bouncer for a second-inning double, the only hit on Gurney’s ledger the first time through. Vanatti would hit a single after that, with the scoreboard announcing that he now had a 13-game hitting streak, which had to be an error of SOME sort… right? – No, Maud says it’s actually true. He only had 16 hits total in the span though. Vanatti was bunted to second, then driven in by Ramos, who in turn was caught stealing, which was now happening more often as the league had (finally?) gotten wise to his act. The lead was short-lived what with John Byrd and Burgess going to the corners with base hits and nobody out in the fourth. Danny Cruz hit into a run-scoring double play, evening the score at one. Then it was Matt Jamieson to sparkle with two outs in the bottom 4th hitting a ball over the head of Rafael Gomez – who came in batting .239 with one homer – with nobody on base. A sure double turned into more when Gomez fell down and the ball made it all the way into the corner. Jamieson raced for third, Gomez was still fumbling for the ball in the corner, Jamieson kept going and scored standing up – oh, boy! An inside-the-park homer!!

Curb your enthusiasm, though. Top 5th, Gurney allowed a single to the former Critter who had just shown little to no defense in leftfield, then added to Gomez by nailing Donovan May with one out. Kulp bunted to the mound, Gurney aimed for Gomez, but the throw was late, and all hands were safe, bringing up the top of the order with three on and one down. Gurney gave it all he had and struck out Drew Olszewski on three pitches, then allowed a fly to deep right to John Byrd, with Wallace going back and making the catch near the track, stranding the full condiment of Thunder runners. It would be Byrd again with two outs and two on in the seventh inning, then the result of a May single inches past Ramos’ glove and Kulp faking a bunt before slapping a single to shallow center to discombobulate the Critters. Olszewski popped out, and so did Byrd eventually, right over home plate. Getting through seven took Gurney exactly 100 pitches, and he was not brought back for the eighth, which went to Ricky Ohl instead, with the mostly right-handed middle of the order up. Cruz was the lone exception, being a switch-hitter. Cruz also walked in a full count, becoming the go-ahead run on base after Burgess had already slapped a leadoff single. Serrato hit a grounder to Nunley, who zinged to second, but Stalker couldn’t turn the double play. Sueo Matsumoto popped out with runners on the corners before switch-hitter Jeff Nichols batted for Gomez. Nichols was weaker against southpaws, so the Coons sent for Garavito, who got a groundout to Nunley. Bottom 8th, the Coons got a leadoff single by PH Sean Catella, and before long a double play hit into by Stalker, his second of the game. Thus it was Wise with no cushion in the ninth inning. He walked leadoff man Tony Perez on four pitches, then allowed a sharp grounder to PH Richard Linnell that went to Ramos, but Stalker again failed to turn the double play… Perez was out, but Linnell remained at first base for Olszewski, who grounded to second base. Stalker with the pickup, stepped on second, and – again no throw to first. Byrd batted with the game on the line for the third time… and fell short for the third time, grounding out to Nunley. 2-1 Blighters. Ramos 2-4, RBI; Catella (PH) 1-1; Gurney 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (3-3) and 1-1;

What a pleasant surprise to see a game in the W column after it continuously tried to get away for three hours, but never could quite make it… Less pleasant was Hollenbeck, batting 0-for-3 while reaching once on a John Byrd error, and even that turned out to be entirely inconsequential.

In more pleasant surprises, Nick Valdes stopped by for the Saturday game, but at least this time Tootsie wasn’t with him. – Oh, yeah, Nick, I am also very disappointed to not have her around me…

Game 2
OCT: CF Olszewski – 3B Matsumoto – 1B D. Cruz – RF May – C Burgess – 2B Serrato – SS Nichols – LF Linnell – P Gill
POR: SS Ramos – CF Catella – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – RF Wallace – 2B Stalker – 1B Hollenbeck – C Leal – P Martinez

Dave Martinez, rapidly decomposing by trade, allowed two walks and a homer in the opening frame, but luckily managed to squeeze in the Danny Cruz homer between Olszewski’s four-pitch walk, Matsumoto’s double play grounder, and the walk to May. Ramos got a leadoff walk of his own, advanced on a grounder and scored on Jamieson’s single in the bottom 1st to erase the deficit, but this proved only a temporary relief. The top 2nd began with another hapless walk to Serrato, then a bomb hung to Jeff Nichols, 3-1 Thunder. From there, Linnell walked, Olszewski was hit, and Matsumoto walked – bases loaded, one out, and Martinez looked as spooked as any old dear in the headlights. A 2-run single by Cruz and an RBI single by Burgess knocked him out of the game after only 1.2 innings, four hits, five walks, and six runs once Rabbitt struck out Serrato. That pitching prowess didn’t last long either – Rabbitt was shackled for three hits, two walks, and two runs in the third inning, and as Nick Derks came in from the pen in the 8-1 game, Nick Valdes calmly remarked to me that he thought they had to start pitching a lot better to make it to the World Series this year.

Derks converted a comebacker for the final out to strand three in the third, which was such a relief. Derks would go on to pitch for another eight outs, but it sure wasn’t pretty. He allowed three hits and three walks in three innings, and that very much included not one, but two base hits by “Graveyard” Gill. The latter one knocked him out with two outs in the sixth and then also Nichols at third base. Fernandez came on, conceded the Nichols run on a hard single to right by Olszewski, and then had Wallace to the hard work to retire Matsumoto on a fly. Fernandez issued a leadoff walk to Cruz in the seventh, which the keen counter could tally up to mean 11 walks through six-plus innings. There was still room for a new franchise record at that point, but Fleischer took over and walked nobody else in the inning, and neither did Josh Boles walk anybody in the last two frames. He struck out six instead… AND allowed a homer to Burgess... All the while, the Raccoons offense was absent entirely… Gill spun a complete-game 5-hitter. 10-1 Thunder. Ramos 3-3, BB;

Hollenbeck went 0-for-4 and reached base on an error again, this time by Matsumoto.

Nick Valdes advised me to spare no efforts to find additional pitching for the playoff push before waving goodbye.

Game 3
OCT: CF Olszewski – 2B Byrd – C Burgess – 1B D. Cruz – SS Serrato – 3B Matsumoto – LF R. Gomez – RF Sagredo – P L. Flores
POR: SS Ramos – CF Catella – LF Jamieson – RF Hereford – 2B Stalker – C Tovias – 1B Hollenbeck – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez

Twice doubled up on Saturday, Ramos was doubled up AGAIN right in the first inning. Catella spanked a sharp grounder at Byrd, who had trouble to turn the 4-6-3 on the Coons now that Ramos was a bit more cautious in running all-out. Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t – aren’t we all, though…? (unscrews another bottle of Capt’n Coma)

Bottom 2nd, Hereford with the leadoff single and Stalker with the double play. I wondered aloud with Slappy having nodded of on the couch and absolutely nobody else present whether there was some sort of trophy for the team that could spank into the absolute most double plays during a season. Something like a golden statue of two twin brothers each reaching out with one arm for an embrace, and trying to dagger each other with a pokey utensil in the other hand… At least the Thunder were almost as dumb. Gutierrez walked Burgess to begin the fourth inning, but Cruz hit a bouncer to Nunley for the double play. Rico then went on to leak singles to Serrato and Matsumoto before Gomez lined out to Hollenbeck to strand them on the corners. Bottom 4th, Ramos led off with a single, threw caution to the wind and took what was rightfully his – second base – before Catella walked behind him. Jamieson flew out to left, but Hereford dropped an RBI single for the first marker on the scoreboard. Then Stalker bounced to right, Cruz cutting it off far off first base, zinger to second, and back to first – as the Thunder elevated the turning of the double play to an art form, they turned the 3-6-4 soul-killer. If there was something like baseball ballet, this was it!

Somehow, Rico held on to the 1-0 lead, although it could not have been less pretty. He walked Luis Sagredo to begin the fifth, then was lucky enough that Flores struck out bunting. Olszewski hit into a fielder’s choice, and Byrd’s single, which would have scored a runner from third base, didn’t aid the Thunder any more than that they loaded the bases when Gutierrez nicked Burgess. Cruz then grounded out, stranding all of them. Bottom 5th, Tovias led off with a walk and then Hollenbeck ended 0-for-8 futility to begin his career and hit a single to right. Nunley also singled, loading them up with nobody out for Gutierrez, the worst-hitting pitcher in recent memory for this team. Hum! Conundrum! How much could the pen give us if we sent Jimmy Wallace to hit here? It was a gamble we had to take… it wasn’t like Gutierrez was pitching like a star, or a player worth deserving his contract… or a responsible citizen. Wallace batted – and struck out… Flores then leaked bases-loaded walks to Ramos and Catella to extend the score to 3-0, then was told in no uncertain terms by an angry pitching coach that he had to keep it together now. That led to a hanger in the strike zone that Matt Jamieson didn’t miss and hit hard and deep to left – GRAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAMMMM!!!

With that, Luis Flores – one foe of ours in the 2026 World Series, which seems ages ago – was gone and Sergio Villarreal was in. The righty allowed a walk to Hereford, Tovias reached on an error, and then Hollenbeck dropped in an RBI single, 8-0. Nunley grounded out, and then came Fleischer into the sixth and loaded the bases while not logging an out at all. Serrato walked, Matsumoto singled, Gomez walked. YANK. Fernandez took over, struck out Sagredo, popped up Nichols, and got Olszewski to hit a fly to some place where Catella could catch it – nobody scored. That was the final attempt of the Thunder to rise, and their final base runners. Rabbitt, Ohl, and Wise each tossed a perfect inning from here, with Rabbitt striking out the side in the seventh and six strikeouts total between the three. The Raccoons did not tack on any more runs, but at least Tim Stalker got another double play in… 8-0 Racooons. Ramos 2-3, BB, RBI; Jamieson 1-4, HR, 4 RBI; Hereford 3-3, BB, RBI; Hollenbeck 2-4, RBI; Gutierrez 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, W (4-6);

In other news

June 23 – BOS SP Eric Williams (8-3, 3.33 ERA) and MR Mike Baker (1-2, 2.84 ERA) throw a combined 1-hit shutout at the Indians, who amount to a first-inning single by RF Mike Plunkett (.244, 6 HR, 30 RBI) and absolutely nothing more in a 7-0 defeat.
June 28 – The Canadiens’ and Bayhawks’ game turns bizarre after going to extra innings tied at four. Both teams score three runs in the 10th, one run in the 12th, and only in the 14th inning does a Vancouver lead hold up. They score four in the top half of the inning, and allow only two in the bottom half to elope with a 12-10 victory. Lazaro Hernandez (.327, 1 HR, 14 RBI), Alex Torres (.261, 2 HR, 18 RBI), and David Fisher (.228, 13 HR, 37 RBI) each drive in three runs for the winning team.
June 28 – As the Wolves strafe he Cyclones, 16-2, six players in the Wolves lineup land three base hits or more. Of those, 1B/OF/3B Jesse Stedham (.322, 8 HR, 36 RBI) is the only one with four hits. He has one RBI in the game and scores three times.
June 29 – The Bayhawks acquire SP Jesus Chavez (5-3, 4.26 ERA) form the Falcons, leaving Charlotte with four prospects, including #30 RF Jerry Aguilar.
June 29 – In a second deal, the Falcons send C Josh Losey (.351, 1 HR, 6 RBI) to the Blue Sox for INF/LF Erik Vitale (.280, 0 HR, 0 RBI) and a prospect.
June 29 – LVA SP Jamie Klages (2-3, 2.48 ERA) is done for the year, needing to have bone chips removed from his elbow.

Complaints and stuff

I tried to trade the odd player or two in the last few weeks… nobody wants any piece of this crew. Well, besides, obviously, Ramos. They would always take Ramos. And why wouldn’t they? He’s exciting!

Who would have thought that Rico Gutierrez would win two games in one week ever again!? He allowed three runs in 11 innings during his troubles, which sounds a lot like minimum effort, but then again we pulled him on Sunday after only 65 pitches to get the offense going. While Jimmy Wallace didn’t land the big hit, Jamieson did, so in the end I claim it was a win for everybody…

But this, too, is a fact: in 14 starts this year Rico Gutierrez has never finished the seventh inning.

Hollenbeck will go back to St. Pete tonight, and we will add a starting pitcher. It might, regrettably be Trevor Draper, because Raffaello Sabre continues to be unconvincing with the Alley Cats. Him and Bernie Chavez both have ERA’s in the high 3’s. Ignacio del Rio was a bit better, but went to the DL with a bad blister and is currently unavailable.

Fun Fact: On June 14, 1980, the Raccoons walked 19 batters in a nine-inning game while suffering a 12-1 smothering against the Cyclones.

I will never forget it.

Juan Berrios 2 IP, 8 BB
Gary Simmons 4 IP, 6 BB
Tony Lopez 1 IP, 4 BB
Ben Jenkins 2 IP, 1 BB

The following day, we drafted SP Carlos Gonzalez with the first-overall pick, which turned out to be its own sort of tragedy… there were all the injuries. There were all the walks issued (spot the pattern!). There were bitter tears. He was out of baseball at age 30 and somehow posted a 16-3 season and a 5-14 season within two years of another. He was an All Star in 1986, but retired with a 48-57 record and 3.91 ERA, pitching for the Coons and Titans.
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Old 07-11-2019, 08:03 PM   #2910
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Quote:
Fun Fact: On June 14, 1980, the Raccoons walked 19 batters in a nine-inning game while suffering a 12-1 smothering against the Cyclones.

I will never forget it.

Juan Berrios 2 IP, 8 BB
Gary Simmons 4 IP, 6 BB
Tony Lopez 1 IP, 4 BB
Ben Jenkins 2 IP, 1 BB
How......

Quote:
The bad news was that Mark Roberts had to go to the DL for about a month, which would surely curtail his pursuit of a single-season record of homers allowed.
This made me laugh - quite loudly - and then feel a little sad. I remember his Triple Crown year and now there's a genuine sense of 'oh Christ' every time he takes to the mound. Still, I want to believe there's a little curtain call left in him yet.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:18 AM   #2911
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Raccoons (31-43) vs. Aces (23-51) – June 30-July 2, 2031

The Aces were the main reason that we wouldn’t notch another #1 pick to blow on a Carlos Gonzalez-sized disaster next year, not anything the Raccoons were achieving on the field. Vegas was at the bottom of the pile in runs scored – their output being a frigid 3.25 runs per game! – and also sat in the bottom three in runs allowed for an unhealthy -107 run differential before we had even reached the halfway point of the season, which wouldn’t happen until Sunday. Rotation and bullpen were equally dismissable for them, and the Raccoons led the season series, 2-1.

Projected matchups:
Trevor Draper (0-0) vs. Chris Guyett (3-10, 5.82 ERA)
Ed Hague (4-5, 4.88 ERA) vs. Pete Molina (3-4, 5.21 ERA)
Jason Gurney (3-3, 3.79 ERA) vs. Tom Grant (0-3, 3.21 ERA)

It would be the regular turn for Grant on Monday, but he was suspended for fisticuffs in a recent game (much like Howden, who had been suspended through Sunday). Guyett thus had to go on short rest, but it wasn’t like normal rest was helping him any. “Bad Moon” Molina, former Raccoons first-rounder in 2018 and once included in the snatch for Frank Kelly in ’21, might make a spot start, or he might now. Andy Palomares (5-7, 4.01 ERA) might pitch on short rest on Tuesday, or he might not. Whatever the development – those guys were all right-handed.

Game 1
LVA: SS Baer – LF Dunlap – 1B Jon Gonzalez – C Balcome – 2B Yi – 3B Borchardt – CF Price – RF Crow – P Guyett
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – LF Jamieson – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – P Draper

Draper with his career record of 4-5 and 5.74 ERA very nearly managed to make the Aces look like a hitting team. Despite stringing up a few zeroes to begin the game, by the fourth inning he became visibly unglued. Long counts, bad counts, a Riley Balcome double to open the inning, and ultimately after a Joel Borchardt single, a walk to Corey Price, sac fly hit by Andy Crow, and – bitterly – Guyett’s 2-out RBI single, there were two runs on the board for the Aces and none for the Critters. He opened the fifth with full count walks to Tom Dunlap and Jon Gonzalez, and before long was yanked on 101 pitches, all of them terrible. Derks inherited the runners and stranded them mostly on Jarod Howden’s defense. The first baseman made a swift dash for In-chul Yi’s grounder for one out, then picked a bad bounce by Hereford to retire Borchardt to end the top of the fifth. When Tovias drew a leadoff walk from Guyett and Nunley doubled to left in the bottom 5th, that was indeed the Coons very first serious charge. Previously they had only managed to get Ramos into second base via a steal and stranding him there… even worse – after Joe Vanatti hit an RBI single and the tying run was at third base with nobody down, the Coons bailed out on a Stalker grounder to short that kept Nunley pinned, Ramos popped out, and Howden went down on strikes. The dumb pig.

…and if the Aces were already impossibly far away in a 2-1 game it got only worse deeper into the game. The Coons did nothing, and the Aces did precious little, but managed to double their output on an eighth-inning, 2-out, 2-run homer to left-center smashed by Ramiro Barrientos off Ricky Ohl. Nevertheless the Coons brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, even though it took some kind help by Aces closer(?) Felipe Jacquez, who entered with a 4.43 ERA and soon enough had two on with nobody out after walking Tovias and putting Nunley on with a grounder he fumbled himself. Vanatti lined out to Dunlap in left, Catella hit into a fielder’s choice, and with runners on the corners Alberto Ramos couldn’t get anything to hit and walked instead. That brought Howden up as the winning run with two outs against the right-handed struggling pitcher on the mound. Jacquez threw nothing but balls to Howden for his third walk in the inning and the first one to shove home a run, and notice how the Coons had yet to get a base hit in the damn inning? They didn’t. Jimmy Wallace flew out to Dunlap, and the game ended right there… 4-2 Aces. Boles 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K;

I did the math, and according to that 4.1 innings with five walks and two runs allowed are indeed an *improvement* for Draper. Unfathomable …!

Game 2
LVA: SS Baer – LF Dunlap – 1B Jon Gonzalez – C Pizzo – 3B Schlegelmilch – RF Montes – CF Crow – 2B Borchardt – P Palomares
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – P Hague

Ed Hague retired the Aces in order the first time through, whiffing four, then reached on a gruesome throwing error by Ted Schlegelmilch in the bottom 3rd. The 2-base error put Hague on second base and Nunley on third after a leadoff single, and Ramos was not walked intentionally with first base open, but rather slapped an RBI single up the middle for the first marker on the scoreboard. That was all, with Howden, the dumb pig, popping out, and Wallace grounding out to the mound. The Critters, deservedly so or not, got another fat chance in the fourth with Tovias and Stalker in scoring position and one out for Nunley, who hit a drive to center that was caught by Andy Crow and was only good enough for a sac fly, 2-0. Vanatti was walked intentionally, Hague flew out, and then had his perfecto bid obliterated by a Schlegelmilch single in the fifth inning. That was the Aces’ only base runner through six innings, though, with Hague ringing up seven. The only thing that could make this game a wee bit more comfy would be another run or two for the Trash Can Topplers. That was not a call they could answer, though. They would not manage to get even five hits off Palomares, who went eight on short rest, and when Ramos reached on a Schlegelmilch error to begin the bottom 8th, Howden, the dumb pig, fell asleep in a hit-and-run call and Ramos was thrown out at second base. That left Hague to fend for himself, entering the ninth on a 2-hitter and 94 pitches. Because we couldn’t have any nice things, the inning began with Ramiro Barrientos’ second pinch-hit homer of the series, and that one cut the gap in half. I kicked my desk in a fit of rage, which wouldn’t make the team play any better, either. Chris Wise came in after all, got two outs, then gave up a clean single to left to former Coon Jon Gonzalez. Another former Coon, even though with considerable less good memories attached was Mike Pizzo. Wise bested him with 95mph, and the series was even. 2-1 Blighters. Nunley 1-2, RBI; Hague 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, W (5-5);

Game 3
LVA: SS Baer – LF Dunlap – 1B Jon Gonzalez – C Balcome – 2B Yi – 3B Borchardt – CF Price – RF Crow – P Grant
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Jamieson – RF Hereford – 3B Nunley – 2B Stalker – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Gurney

The first scoring in the game would come in the third inning, which started with a Jon Gonzalez error that put Gurney on base. Ramos hit a single to left, after which Howden and Jamieson both fanned miserably. Hereford didn’t, despite falling to two strikes, and instead belted a mighty homer to center for an entirely unearned 3-run bomb. The following frame we had Vanatti on with a single, Leal thanks to getting nailed, but after Gurney bunted them over Gonzalez handled Ramos’ grounder to end the inning. While Gurney allowed the odd single but was otherwise cruising against the Aces’ legendarily bad offense, the Coons got a leadoff jack by Howden in the fifth, then a leadoff triple from Stalker in the sixth. The Aces walked Vanatti with intent to get to *Leal*, which was something new. Leal promptly popped out to drop to .193 on the season, but Gurney hit a fly to left that was good enough to get Stalker home on a sac fly, 5-0. Ramos reached on a 2-out infield single, the runners pulled off a double swipe against another ex-Coon and turned-reliever Kyle Anderson, who then ended up walking Howden in a full count. Jamieson’s 2-run single to left could probably considered the death knell in the game, moving the score to 7-0, before Hereford grounded out to Todd Baer. The Aces’ shortstop would hit a single in the eighth on Gurney’s 98th pitch, which got the bullpen to start stretching, but Dunlap hit into a 4-6-3, so we would see Gurney hit for himself in the bottom 8th, then go back to the mound. Jon Gonzalez flew out to Hereford. Riley Balcome struck out swinging. In-chul Yi doubled to left-center, which got the pen tossing in earnest after 109 pitches for Gurney, who had another two chances, we decided, to complete the game before we’d sent a scrub to get that last out. Jason needed only one more pitch – Borchardt flew out to Jamieson on that. 7-0 Coons! Ramos 2-5; Jamieson 2-4, 2 RBI; Vanatti 2-3, BB; Gurney 9.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, W (4-3);

This was the first career shutout and complete game for Jason Gurney in his 16th attempt at starting a major league game. He is 6-6 with a 3.82 ERA for his career now, and given how nobody talked about him prior to him exploiting an injury hole last year, we have to be very pleased.

Raccoons (33-44) @ Titans (47-30) – July 3-6, 2031

The Titans were aspiring to catch the Loggers and were only one game behind at this point, so the Coons coming in for four was right up their alley. They were up 5-2 in the season series already and I didn’t really see where that should get any better for us any time soon. They were first in the league in runs scored, and fourth in runs allowed, with a healthy +86 run differential.

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (3-5, 5.33 ERA) vs. Mario Gonzalez (3-3, 2.53 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-6, 5.53 ERA) vs. Eric Williams (8-3, 3.76 ERA)
Trevor Draper (0-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. Greg Gannon (9-4, 3.09 ERA)
Ed Hague (5-5, 4.55 ERA) vs. Adam Potter (8-4, 3.23 ERA)

Two left, two right, drop four? I remember a time where we didn’t look short in every single matchup of a series, and it was not all that long ago…

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – RF Wallace – C Tovias – CF Catella – 1B Baldwin – P Martinez
BOS: RF Acor – LF W. Vega – SS Spataro – C Lessman – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – 1B Ferrer – 3B Perkins – P M. Gonzalez

Stalker and Jamieson knocked back-to-back doubles to left in the first inning for a Coons lead that lasted all of one third of an inning before Willie Vega scored from first on Keith Spataro’s double. Spataro moved to third on the throw home, then came in on a Rhett West sac fly that put Boston on top, 2-1, after Martinez had leaked four balls to David Lessman. Aaaand here we go… Manny Ferrer and Justin Perkins led off the second inning with hits, with Acor hitting another sac fly to get Ferrer across, while Vega was retired on a strong defensive play by Catella to keep it 3-1 through two. The Coons got Ramos, Jamieson, and Hereford on base in the top 3rd, but Wallace grounded out to West to keep them all stranded, and the same happened with the Titans and Justin Perkins in the bottom of the inning. Lessman, West, and Ferrer had all reached during another turd-like performance by Dave Martinez, who was obviously forsaken by Odilon and now living up to his grim scouting report. Perkins hit a 1-2 to center for Catella to contain again.

Jamieson singled home Ramos with two outs in the fifth inning, cutting the gap to 3-2, but the Coons could have gotten more out of the inning if Tim Stalker, who had singled Ramos to third base, hadn’t been picked off first base in stupid fashion. The Titans made up the run right away with a Lessman homer. Six innings of woeful 7-hit, 4-run ball was all the Critters would get out of Martinez, but the Raccoons were actually outhitting the Titans 8-7 through six and added two more singles to begin the seventh inning. Baldwin and Nunley went to the corners against Mario Gonzalez and the top of the order would have the tying runs on with nobody out. Nothing great happened; nothing great ever happened. Ramos flew out to shallow right, keeping Baldwin pinned. The super utility came home on Stalker’s sac fly, but that was all in the inning. Nunley never got off first base and the Coons never got back even. They in fact didn’t get back on base until Vanatti dropped a pinch-hit single in the top 9th with one out already recorded by Jermaine Campbell. Jarod Howden batted for the pitcher and flew out, and Ramos hit a fly to shallow center that was easy prey for the inevitable Adrian Reichardt. 4-3 Titans. Ramos 2-5; Stalker 2-3, 2B, RBI; Jamieson 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Vanatti (PH) 1-1; Nunley (PH) 1-1;

Roster move after the game; Bryan Rabbitt had tossed four outs in this game, then was sent back to AAA to balance our roster again (we had still played with the short bench). We brought up a non-left-handed batter, but for a change not Wilson Rodriguez. We couldn’t if we wanted, since Rodriguez was on the minor league DL with a sprained ankle.

So welcome back Juan Magallanes, and no, we didn’t really have any sparkling position player prospects ready to promote… Magallanes was batting .282/.412/.330 in St. Pete, so there WAS that on-base knack he had, and he had put up a .375 OBP in over 300 PA for the ’29 Coons, but the overall package was STILL blech. And well, last year he had posted a .215/.296/.248 clip, which was not worth the discussion.

Game 2
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Hereford – 1B Howden – 3B Nunley – 2B Baldwin – C Leal – P Gutierrez
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS Spataro – RF Acor – C Lessman – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – 1B Ferrer – 3B Perkins – P E. Williams

The Raccoons scored first despite batting Magallanes leadoff, despite Baldwin stupidly hitting into a double play in the second inning, and despite Gutierrez bunting badly to force out Armando Leal in the third. Magallanes went on to drop a single, Rico aggressively took third base on Stalker’s fly out, and then Jamieson clipped a ball into rightfield to get his pitcher across with two outs in the inning. Hereford grounded out to Perkins, leading to Gutierrez being swiftly blown up in the bottom 3rd. Perkins reached base with a single, and Willie Vega raked a triple to center to tie the game, then scored easily on Keith Spataro’s grounder to Baldwin.

And I would give Rico Gutierrez credit for one thing. He was pitching like raw sewage would taste if it came out of your kitchen tab, but at least he had grit and kept clawing at anybody that vaguely looked like he might boot him from the major leagues. In the fifth inning, he raked a double to left off Eric Williams, making himself the tying run in scoring position. Magallanes singled to right to put runners on the corners, and Tim Stalker stopped the double play barrage for one second and hit a sac fly to Reichardt to get the teams even. Jamieson hit a single, Hereford struck out. By the way, all that stuff about grit was absolute garbage, a vain attempt to plaster cosmetics over the $2.1M paycheck that was burning a hole into our budget. Bottom 5th, Manny Ferrer opened with a double to left, and Justin Perkins hit it out of the park entirely, a booming homer to left that gave Boston a 4-2 lead. Ferrer drove in Lessman with two outs in the following inning. David Lessman had also ripped a leadoff double, and that was then all for Gutierrez, five runs in six innings, the misery continued. The Coons got Vanatti and Stalker into scoring position in the top 7th, but with two outs Jamieson made the regrettable mistake of hitting a ball to centerfield, and Adrian Reichardt loved nothing more than spoiling the Critters. The Titans remained up 5-2, and the bottom 7th saw Spataro hit a triple off David Fernandez, but the shortstop also hurt himself and the Titans had to seek replacement by Dan Knudson, but that also wouldn’t serve to derail them in the last few innings. The Critters wouldn’t reach base in the eighth against Williams, and in the ninth facing Campbell two were already down when Jimmy Wallace dropped a pinch-hit single. Stalker struck out, and another loss was in the books. 5-2 Titans. Magallanes 2-4; Wallace (PH) 1-1; Jamieson 2-4, 2B, RBI;

Sigh. At least Jimmy Wallace stopped the 1-for-21 spell he was stuck in for the last week or so. Maybe. Maybe he will also extend it to 2-for-3,689…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – CF Vanatti – P Draper
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS Knudson – CF Acor – RF Braun – 2B R. West – 1B Ferrer – C Murry – 3B Perkins – P Gannon

The box score was empty through three innings with not a whole lot having gone on. The Coons had Nunley on second base with two outs and Vanatti up, prompting the intentional walk call from the Boston dugout that almost backfired. Draper hit a liner to left, and would have had extra bases, if Justin Perkins had not leapt like a … what the … jaguar? Do jaguars leap tall and high? It was the most impressive jump anybody had seen in a while, and it ended the inning, with the home crowd celebrating the defensive heroics. They had to wait another inning for offensive heroics, however, although the Titans’ 2-spot in the bottom 5th, the first runs in the game, where more an example of everything-going-bat****-bonkers-in-a-single-inning for the Raccoons than anything else. Well, Draper had only himself to blame, nicking Vince Murry with a 1-2 pitch to begin the inning. Perkins then hit the ****tiest bloop that fell for a single between Ramos and Jamieson, and Gannon bunted the runners over competently. Vega hit a sac fly to center, with Murry almost thrown out at home, but not bloody quite, and then Draper melted down, walked Knudson, allowed an RBI single to Acor, and the pen was ready to get involved when returnee Adam Braun, who had already been on the DL twice this year, grounded out on his 102nd and final pitch.

Top 6th, more stupid **** nobody needed. First, Nunley reached on a Ferrer error, two sounds that were made for each other. Elias Tovias Matias Diaz came up with a double to left-center, and also lame at second base. He required replacement by Armando Leal just when we had been ready to make him Dallas’ problem again. But the tying runs were in scoring position! And nobody out! And Stalker popped out… oh boy. Vanatti got four wide ones, because apparently the Titans had lost track of Draper’s exploded pitch count. Hereford batted for him, struck out, but Ramos walked to force in a run. Jarod Howden then dropped a single into centerfield, and two runs scored, allowing the Coons to take a 3-2 lead. Jamieson flew out to right to end the inning. The lead did not survive contact with Nick Derks at all; West, Murry, and Perkins all ripped doubles off the right-hander to allow the Titans to take the lead right back, 4-3, in the bottom 6th.

The Critters were not laying down yet. Stalker and Ramos reached base in the eighth to knock out Gannon with two outs, and that brought up Howden again in a crucial spot. Not that I fancied Howden in a crucial spot, and it had already worked once in this ga- yada-yada, of course it didn’t work a second time. Howden, facing Tim Zimmerman, struck out, the dumb pig. Come the ninth, Mike Baker and his 2.70 ERA despite a 1.12 K/BB would face the meat of the order and no cushion. He ran a 3-0 count against Jamieson, who inexplicably poked and grounded out. I think I had a stroke at that point. Wallace sent a drive to deep, deep center that Reichardt caught on the track like it was nothing. Nunley grounded out harmlessly. 4-3 Titans. Stalker 2-4;

As if all the losing was not bad enough, the mystery injury befalling Elias Tovias required a roster move. As he was unable to play we had to add a catcher. Magallanes was returned to AAA, John Hennessy (remember him?) was moved to the 60-day DL, and we promoted, begrudgingly, Daniel Rocha to the majors. He was even technically a right-handed bat. Rocha, 27, and honestly a pretty good defensive catcher, had last played with Portland in 2029. He had a total of 137 at-bats across three seasons, hitting a meager .190 with no homers and 12 RBI. The alternative would have been another visit from Shane Ivey, and I didn’t feel like that, either. Elliott Thompson, our legit backstop prospect and 21 years old, was still not exactly dominating the double-A level and had no business in the majors.

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Jamieson – 2B Hereford – RF Wallace – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Hague
BOS: 1B Acor – LF W. Vega – SS Knudson – C Lessman – 2B R. West – CF Reichardt – RF Braun – 3B Perkins – P Potter

The forecast called for a day of rain, but the game got underway anyway. The next injury victim turned out to be Reichardt, limping into second after a double off the leftfield fence in the bottom 2nd. Corey Curro replaced him, moved to third on Braun’s groundout, and the Coons then elected the coward’s approach and walked Perkins, a .291 batter, intentionally to get to Potter, who shrugged and hit a single to right to get Boston on the board. Hague in turn bunted badly in the third inning and got Leal forced out at second base. With the game going to a rain delay after that, the Raccoons banished Hague from the dugout. He had stay as close to first base as the tarp allowed for, in the rain, for 45 minutes until play resumed, then had to move his dripping wet body to third base on a Ramos double to right. Howden, the dumb pig, struck out, and Jamieson’s pop was caught by Knudson, stranding two in scoring position…

The Coons couldn’t find offense by any stretch of the imagination. Through six, the score remained 1-0 with four hits for either team. Hague was perfectly decent. And they were great on defense, with Nunley making a nifty play and Wallace making two great ones, but it STILL wasn’t enough… C’MON BOYS! At least ONE game in Boston. Win at least ONE game in Boston for Daddy …! Those pleas dissipated unheard of by the personnel on the field, partly because it was separated by monstrously thick glass from the air-conditioned suite the Titans made opposing dignitaries watch the game from, and partly because any sort of good fortune in addition to a solid skill set was completely absent for them. They got Catella and Ramos on in the eighth, but Howden hit into a fielder’s choice, and while that still left runners on the corners for Jamieson, a shallow 2-out grounder to Knudson took care of it, too. Top 9th, still trailing by that lone measly run, the Coons faced Campbell again, whom they had worn out via quantity rather than quality earlier in the series, spawning the Baker appearance on Saturday. Full count to Hereford – and he walked him. Full count to Wallace – and he walked him. Oh goody, “offense”! (excitedly claps hands) Nunley ran another full count, then poked, a grounder to Rhett West, and that was turned for two … (slams his head repeatedly against the thick glass) That left Vanatti, who took a strike, then poked and popped up behind home plate, Lessman to the netting, and the ball decided to not make the other two feet of ground to disappear behind the net, but rather dropped into the mitten to end the game. 1-0 Titans. Ramos 2-4, 2B; Catella (PH) 1-1; Hague 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, L (5-6);

In other news

July 2 – LAP SP Jorge Belran (7-4, 3.11 ERA) was out for the rest of the season after suffering a tear in his posterior cruciate ligament.
July 2 – The Knights trade for Richmond’s SP Gabriel Lara (5-5, 4.13 ERA), parting with 3B Jake Barlow (.244, 8 HR, 43 RBI) and a dire prospect.
July 4 – The Crusaders get reinforcement from the Wolves with SP Steve Younts (6-5, 3.23 ERA). The Wolves receive two prospects including #73 SP Adam Swint.
July 5 – TIJ INF Jesus Solis (.174, 1 HR, 5 RBI) drives in five runs from the #8 spot in a 12-1 rout of the Aces.
July 5 – OCT RF/LF Luis Sagredo (.294, 7 HR, 31 RBI) will miss time until the middle of August with an oblique strain.
July 6 – The Knights beat the Bayhawks, 1-0, on an eight-inning home run by C Eric Martins (.188, 3 HR, 11 RBI), one of only two hits for Atlanta in the game.

Complaints and stuff

Jimmy Wallace keeps racking up Rookie of the Month nods, winning June’s with a .295 clip, 2 HR, and 15 RBI. It’s literally everything we’re winning right now…

In weird **** that actually happened, the Loggers tried to trade for Matt Nunley this week. Just NO.

Down in St. Pete, Bernie Chavez joined Ignacio del Rio on the DL with back soreness. Only Sabre still standing…

Speaking of injuries, Alberto Ramos has yet to miss a game this year. The Druid told me that the nutritional changes he recommended to Berto made all the differences. My curious “how that” look forwarded the explanation that Ramos always had stuffed himself with dark chocolate, but the Druid had recommended milk chocolate to him, because that made for better bones. I guess this one was in the “whatever the **** works” category…

Joe Vanatti requested a trade. I shopped him. 23 teams requested to he shopped another player. I told Vanatti the facts, but somehow he is even more mad than before. Fine! Be unhappy! You think I like the way you 25 little idiots are playing?? – What is it, Maud? – What, Matt Nunley is in your room and the door was open? – Does he have cake? – Well then there’s not to worry. If he has cake, he turns deaf.

We have already spent almost $500k on international free agents since the window opened, with by far the biggest investment being SP Willie Gallardo, a 16-year-old Venezuelan right-hander with promise in the departments of sinker, slider, forkball, and groundball efficiency. He is from Altagracia de Orituco, which you have to admit sounds more melodic and less desolate than, oh, say Burns, Oregon. Since we have already reached 106% of the soft cap, we will not pursue any more players except for one on the meal money spectrum of the scale. We ended up mostly signing pitchers, but that was due to the interesting position players not signing with us right away.

Spending more than 110% of the soft cap would prevent us from signing anybody for more than roughly $80k next season.

Next week, Loggers, who now want a bite out of our furry tush as well, and then the Indians. Then I will have three days off to lie down and breath heavily as we’ll be at the All Star break by then…

Fun Fact: Jason Gurney was taken 274th overall in the 2026 draft.

He was in fact the 2026 Nick Brown Memorial Pick, the annual 11th round selection made specifically to select a left-handed pitcher of whatever potential acumen just for the sake of it. Here’s the scouting report from back when we drafted him:

Quote:
Round 11 (#274) – MR Jason Gurney, 21, from Yale, OK – this year's obligatory left-hander in the 11th round can pitch all day, and maybe he will find the zone at some point even; 90mph fastball, and he has a slider, too
Given that he’s still scouted a 9/11/9 pitcher by our judgmental ratings guy, who’s name I totally know and never actually forgot, and marginally better by OSA, it is always more advisable to err on the side of less exuberant hysteria for the next actual Nick Brown having been found, especially since he’s 26 already, but I will take solid late-round pitching any day of the week…
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Raccoons (33-48) @ Loggers (52-31) – July 7-10, 2031

The battered Critters would face another contending team right away, and it somehow always felt weird to combine the thought of a contending team with the Loggers, but here they were, in a virtual tie with Boston, and eager to get their share of wins. They had yet to drop a game to the Coons this year (4-0), and the Raccoons’ forever streak of taking the season series from them was in some real danger… Milwaukee was eighth in runs scored, but second in runs allowed. Their rotation had the second-lowest ERA in the Continental League.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (4-3, 3.25 ERA) vs. Mike Hodge (7-3, 2.19 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-6, 5.38 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (5-5, 2.26 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-7, 5.66 ERA) vs. Josh Weeks (6-5, 3.14 ERA)
Trevor Draper (0-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenraez (9-4, 2.88 ERA)

Two right, two left, drop another four?

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 3B Nunley – 2B Stalker – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Gurney
MIL: 3B Lockert – LF Cambra – SS W. Morris – 1B M. Monroe – RF Valenzuela – CF Creech – C Canody – 2B Holder – P Hodge

Hodge walked a pair in the first inning, but the Coons also grounded out to Kaleb Holder three times to resist the urge of instant offense. There was in fact no such fact as instant offense in this game. There was one base hit through three innings, which was not the Coons’, who only got a single when Leal found a hole on the right side in the fifth inning, after which Gurney struck out bunting foul again and again, which led to Leal getting stranded rather than being brought around to erase a 1-0 deficit stemming from the bottom of the fourth inning, which Wayne Morris had opened with a triple to right. Miles Monroe had whiffed, but Danny Valenzuela brought in the run with a groundout. Bottom 5th, it only got worse, again with Leal involved. Taylor Canody was nicked to begin the inning, and when Hodge bunted with one out, Leal threw the ball way over Jarod Howden’s head for a 2-base error. The runners in scoring position were brought home with a Matt Lockert single to right, and it was 3-0 Loggers and we didn’t look like much of a comeback candidate.

The Loggers then started to play terribly. Lockert was thrown out by Jimmy Wallace trying to reach third base on Firmino Cambra’s single to right, and the following inning Morris was thrown out at home by Joe Vanatti. In between, a massive throwing error by Hodge had placed Howden on second base to begin the top 6th. Wallace and Hereford made poor outs, but Matt Nunley singled to center on an 0-2 pitch to get the unearned run home. In fact – all the runs except the one carried on the Morris triple in the fourth were unearned at this point. Gurney would last six and two thirds and left trailing 3-1, which was not his fault, and with the opposing pitcher Hodge on third base in the bottom 7th, which was. Hodge had hit aleadoff single in the inning, but was stranded when Fleischer got Morris to fly out to right. Hodge offered a leadoff walk to Howden in the eighth, bringing up the middle of the order as the tying runs. Wallace was robbed in the gap by Valenzuela, but Hereford and Nunley struck out pathetically. The Coons would face Ken Gautney and his 3.95 ERA in the ninth inning. Stalker singled to left off the right-hander, but Vanatti struck out. Catella hit for Leal, with Jamieson having already been brought into the #9 hole after a double switch in the bottom 8th that had seen Ohl clean up behind David Fernandez. Jamieson got to the plate after Catella popped out foul, and ended the game by swinging over a 2-2 pitch. 3-1 Loggers. Gurney 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, L (4-4) and 1-3;

Oh boy.

Meanwhile, Elias Tovias went to the DL, finally, with a strained hamstring. He was out until the middle of August, probably, so there went the easy path towards getting a surprise low-key prospect out of him as the deadline approached. Nobody had wanted a piece of Tovias in June, but maybe the game would have changed in July. Well, we’d not find out… Magallanes was recalled from AAA after making a brief 2-for-4 cameo just a few days ago.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 2B Hereford – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – C Rocha – P Martinez
MIL: 3B Lockert – CF Creech – SS W. Morris – C J. Young – RF Valenzuela – 1B M. Monroe – LF D.J. Mendez – 2B Holder – P Shepherd

While the Raccoons had to wait for the middle innings again to get a modest base hit – Jamieson singled with one out to finally break into the H column – they were also the first to get into the run-scoring business, despite Dave Martinez continuing to be everything but sharp. But the Loggers had some more baserunning adventures, like Lockert opening the bottom 1st with a single, and then getting doubled off by a country mile when Gabe Creech lined out to Hereford. Rich struck out after the Jamieson single in the fourth, and Nunley flew out to left with two outs, except that D.J. Mendez stupidly had the ball hit off the heel of his glove and then chased it deeper into leftfield. The Coons reached scoring position and Vanatti knocked an RBI single to right, making them 1-0 leaders before Daniel Rocha struck out. Bottom 4th, Creech opened with a single to left before the Loggers twice hit into force plays at second, but the Critters failed to turn two. Danny Valenzuela dropped a single, Miles Monroe walked, and suddenly the bags were full with two outs, but D.J. Mendez struck out on a 1-2 pitch far outside.

By the bottom 5th the Coons lost Matt Jamieson to injury. The veteran complained about a stiff neck, probably from having to crane his neck in the chase after deep drives surrendered by Martinez all the time. Magallanes replaced him in the field, then promptly made a stupid error in the sixth that cost the Coons the lead. Jim Young hit a 2-out single to left that scooted through Magallanes’ legs, allowing Young into second base, from where he scored on a Valenzuela single; and when the Coons couldn’t do nothing with an unlikely Daniel Rocha double in the top 7th, the Loggers struck right back at them in the bottom of the inning, with Mendez hitting a double and coming around on two groundouts off Martinez and Garavito, putting Milwaukee in front. Nothing good happened in the eighth, and the ninth pitted them against Alfredo Casique, former starter, who now had a 1.41 ERA. For a change, the Coons didn’t just fold and go home .Nunley popped out, but with one down Joe Vanatti conquered a fastball and hit it over the fence in right, tying the score at two. Stalker and Catella unwrapped pinch-hit singles to continue the rally, before everything died at the paws of Ramos, who hit into a fielder’s choice removing Catella, then was picked off first base to end the inning…..

More misery ensued, with the Coons not being able to poke the ball in a useful direction, and with the Loggers leaving everybody dangling long enough for Rich Hereford tweaking his calf in the 11th inning. Baldwin replaced him, emptying the Coons’ bench, and if we didn’t want to have the reliever (then Fleischer) lead off the 12th, we had to bring in Chris Wise in a useless spot, too. Wise got out of the inning, but would be in the #5 hole while Baldwin led off the 12th in the #9 spot. Baldwin walked, moved up on Ramos’ groundout, reached third on a Howden single off righty John Nelson, and then Wallace, sitting at the very bottom of the deepest well, struck out, which left the runners to Magallanes… and if he walked, Wise. Magallanes flew out instead. When Wise survived the bottom of the inning, he struck out to start the 13th before Nelson filled them up with a Nunley double and walks issued to Vanatti and Baldwin, bringing up Ramos with three on and two down. The count ran full, Ramos held off a ball outside, and walked to force home the go-ahead run. Jarod Howden already had a golden sombrero in the game, and fell to 1-7 against left-hander Travis Feider when he struck out AGAIN. Howden, you ****ING DUMB PIG!! … At least Wise held up for another inning, giving the Coons their first win over Milwaukee in 2031… 3-2 Blighters. Jamieson 1-1, BB; Vanatti 2-5, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Rocha 1-2, BB, 2B; Stalker (PH) 1-1; Catella (PH) 1-1; Baldwin 0-0, 2 BB; Martinez 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; Fleischer 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Wise 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, W (2-2);

Now to the surplus of injuries… both Jamieson and Hereford were listed as day-to-day. Hereford had a mild calf strain that would bother him until the upcoming All Star break, but could probably play, although we’d keep him out of the Wednesday game. Jamieson’s stiff neck was a bit worse, but might heal off quicker, but he would probably not feature in the last two games of the set, which annoyingly meant that he was not available to bat against the left-handed starting pitchers due up.

So, we continue to have a shortened bench in addition to once more a burned pen, while three likely starters were batting .111 (Leal) or worse (Nunley, Wallace) in their last handful of game, and in Wallace’s case the tally was all the way up to 4-for-44. With two corner outfielders in the ropes, there was no real way to keep Wallace out of the line of fire against the left-handed pitchers. Catella was an option only in theory – he did not have the arm to be more than an injury replacement in rightfield, especially against a speedy team like the Loggers.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Vanatti – RF Wallace – 1B Howden – CF Baldwin – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Gutierrez
MIL: 3B Lockert – LF Cambra – SS W. Morris – 1B M. Monroe – RF Valenzuela – CF Creech – C Canody – 2B Holder – P Weeks

One of five left-handed batters (not even counting Rico…) in the lineup, Jimmy Wallac enevertheless managed to hit a sac fly in the first after coming up with Ramos and Stalker on the corners after two singles and also Ramos’ 28th stolen base of the season. The Loggers got runners to the corners within three batters in the bottom 1st, but Stalker shagged a Monroe liner for a crucial out, and they didn’t score. Lockert hit a double in the third, but was caught stealing by Rocha. The defense did everything they could for Gutierrez, who got a K on Creech early on, which was remarkable on its own, but was also not sharp in any sense of the word. He walked Monroe with one out in the bottom 4th, and while Wallace made a sliding catch on a Valenzuela fly to right, there was no catching Creech’s rocket into the left corner after that. Creech went all the way to third base for a game-tying triple, but was stranded when Taylor Canody flew out to left. Gutierrez was doomed after walking Holder and Lockert in the bottom 5th. Cambra hit an RBI single, and then Morris slapped a hellish ball that bounced once and made a bid for Nunley’s nose at third base. Nunley swiped, had it, lived, AND turned a double play to end the inning! Way to go Nunley! You cat!!

Defense dragged Gutierrez through six, but he was still behind, 2-1. Creech misplayed a Howden fly into a double in the seventh, but Baldwin popped out and Nunley’s fly to right was caught by Valenzuela, stranding the tying run. The hole would rather get deeper thanks to Josh Boles retiring nearly nobody in the bottom 7th. Weeks opened the barrage with a single and before long Lockert doubled and Cambra hit a 2-run single. Derks had to replaced Boles in the inning, and since we could not hope to make up the difference under normal circumstances, he would also finish the game to at least reset the rest of the pen. Not even THAT worked. Creech hit a 1-out single in the bottom 8th, then was caught stealing by Rocha. Derks shrugged it off, then walked the bags full against the bottom of the order when only one more out was required. Garavito replaced him and allowed a 2-run single to Jim Young to make the wounds bleed faster. The Raccoons scored an unearned run in the top of the ninth. Nobody cared. 6-2 Loggers. Howden 2-3, BB, 2B; Hereford (PH) 1-1, RBI;

One night after winning himself a brand new platinum sombrero, Howden never took a third strike!

…but Joe Vanatti hit for a golden sombrero.

Ah!! This team!!

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – CF Catella – RF Vanatti – 2B Stalker – 1B Howden – LF Baldwin – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Draper
MIL: 3B Lockert – LF Cambra – SS W. Morris – 1B M. Monroe – C J. Young – RF Valenzuela – CF Creech – 2B Holder – P Colmenarez

Yes, that lineup looked just wrong, but Catella walked, advanced on a groundout, and scored on Tim Stalker’s single for a first-inning lead. Too bad only that Draper was incinerated right in the first inning, allowing five straight batters to reach base with two outs. Morris singled, Monroe and Young walked, Valenzuela had an RBI single to left, and Creech plated two with a single to center before Holder could strike out to keep the goods at 3-1. Then there was the rag-tag bottom of the order churning out singles to begin the second inning. Baldwin, Nunley, Rocha ALL singled; one run scored on the Rocha single, and Draper got the bunt down to move everybody else into scoring position. Ramos ripped a score-flipping double to right, 4-3 Coons, but was then stranded on second base. Unfortunately, Trevor Draper had not acquired the “throw strikes” skill between innings. He walked Lockert and Cambra in the bottom 2nd, and a Nunley fumble put Monroe on base with two outs. Jim Young grounded out to first base, stranding three Loggers in a game that could well turn into a scorefest.

Howden made it 5-3 with a shot to left in the third inning, while the defense had to make more splendid plays in support of another useless pitcher. Chris Baldwin bit the dust in the fourth inning, slamming into the ground hard as he caught a Colmenarez (!) drive in the gap. Wallace came into the game rather than an injured player, with Vanatti moving to left. Draper lasted five, but no more, allowing another run on three hits in the bottom 5th, with Kaleb Holder driving in Miles Monroe. Colmenarez lasted six and whiffed eight despite the early shellacking, and the Coons now hoped they could make their pen stand up one way or another. They pieced it together with Fleischer in the sixth and Fernandez in the seventh, but the final part of the coup would require Ricky Ohl to pitch up to two innings because Boles, Wise, and Garavito were all unavailable. Fernandez however got rid of the 5-6-7 batters in order in the seventh and did not come up to bat in the top 8th, so was left in to face Kaleb Holder in the bottom 8th. He struck him out, then faced lefty pinch-hitter Canody … and struck him out, too! That left only four outs for Ohl at the top of the order. His first pitch nailed Lockert, who went to third base on Cambra’s single. Morris flew out to right, though, where Magallanes made the catch after entering with Ohl in a double switch. No offense came together in the top of the ninth. Ohl’s horrors returned though; Monroe slapped a leadoff single in the bottom 9th. Young struck out swinging, and D.J. Mendez popped out. With two outs Creech singled, and the winning run was on base. PH Esteban Arroyo appeared in the #8 hole, batting from the left side, but the Coons had no hurlers left. This was all Ohl. And Ohl threw all balls. With the bags full and two outs, Jason Parten pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot. First pitch, fly to right, Magallanes ambling… and catching …! 5-4 Critters. Baldwin 2-2, 2B; Hereford (PH) 1-1; Magallanes 1-1; Fernandez 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Other than some random pills against the shivering paws, roster moves were necessary.

Reason number one was that the presence of Trevor Draper (1-1, 5.02 ERA) was no longer required with the All Star Game coming up, and an off day on the Monday after that. The second reason was Chris Baldwin moving to the DL with a broken claw. He would probably be out until the end of August. We called up Victor Anaya to stretch the pitching staff, as well as 2B Sam Cass, who was batting .288 in St. Pete.

Raccoons (35-50) vs. Indians (46-40) – July 11-13, 2031

The Indians had a 4-game winning streak and maintained a minimal chance to make the playoffs, but needed to romp the Coons to keep telling themselves that. They were seventh in runs scored and second in runs allowed, despite the second-worst pen in the league with a 4.31 ERA. They also had five wins against the Critters against our four in 2031.

Projected matchups:
Ed Hague (5-6, 4.32 ERA) vs. Sal Bedoya (7-3, 2.59 ERA)
Jason Gurney (4-4, 3.07 ERA) vs. Andy Bressner (9-8, 2.86 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-6, 5.20 ERA) vs. David Saccoccio (8-5, 3.25 ERA)

All right-handers coming up here, which could be worse given our injury woes, although of course Jamieson was now back, and nothing was matching up, ever…

The Indians also had their stack of ailments. John McInerney, Marcus Owens, Alex Zanches, and Juan Herrera were all locked away on the DL. The Herrera injury would net 23-year-old Morgan Kuhlmann his major league debut in the series opener. Kuhlmann had been drafted less than a month ago, #35 overall.

Game 1
IND: 2B Schneller – 1B Regan – RF Plunkett – CF Baron – SS Pizano – LF M. Cowan – C Kuhlmann – 3B E. Sosa – P Bedoya
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Hague

Wallace singled, Walker stalked, and Nunley dropped in a bloop to load the sacks with no outs in the second inning of a scoreless game. As usual, the actual loot from this treasure chest was rather limited, with Vanatti spanking into a run-scoring double play, Leal getting walked intentionally for whatever reason, and Hague flying out to left rather gingerly. The lead got away rather soon; Ramos unleased an errant throw on Elias Sosa’s grounder to begin the third inning, Bedoya bunted the tying run to third, and Ed Hague spared the Indians the hassle of having to figure out how to get Sosa across and uncorked a wild pitch to do the scoring for them. The Critters would take the lead back on a Bedoya lapse; the Arrowhead nailed Jamieson with an 0-2 pitch and two outs in the bottom 3rd, and the run came across on Wallace and Stalker singles. Nunley hit a liner to left, but it sliced to Mike Cowan for the third out. The Indians answered with two unearned fourth-inning runs. Nunley got them started with a missed pickup on a slow roller by Mike Plunkett, and Hague would spill more runners on base afterwards. Mario Pizano singled, Mike Cowan walked, and runs scored on a Morgan Kuhlmann sac fly, and Sosa dropped in a 2-out RBI single to get Indy ahead.

Hague never allowed an earned run in seven innings of 3-hit ball, which by the time he was hit for leading off the bottom 7th merely netted him a no-decision thanks to a fifth-inning combo of Jamieson tripling into the gap against one of his former teams, and Jimmy Wallace picking him up with a single to knot the score at three. Magallanes grabbed a stick, but flew out to left. Ramos fanned, but Howden singled and Jamison hit a scorched line drive … into Sosa’s mitten, and there would not be a decision for Ed Hague. The Indians got Greg Regan and PH Ivan Pena to drop singles against Anaya in the eighth, but didn’t score, and Wallace opened the bottom 8th with a single off Bedoya. This gave Jimmy a 4-hit day and hopefully dispelled the dire slump he had been in. Stalker slapped a double to left, giving the bottom of the order (flinches) a prime chance to set up a save opportunity in the ninth inning. Nunley ran a full count, then popped out. Vanatti was walked intentionally, and when the Indians went to right-hander Matt Beckstrom, a 31-year-old import from the Federal League, the Coons sent Rich Hereford to pinch-hit. Hereford lined out HARD to Sosa, and Catella flew out to John Baron, and … (sigh!) … nobody scored… Top 9th, Wise walked Sosa with one out. Sosa stole second, moved up on Ivan Vega’s groundout, and with two outs and the runner on third, Dan Schneller grounded to Ramos, who flicked the ball into the dirt, Howden couldn’t come up with it, and ANOTHER RUN SCORED ON AN ERROR! Tortured howls of a crazed madman echoed through the ballpark as the Indians took a 4-3 lead. (heavy breathing) … Bottom 9th, Jose Menendez issued a leadoff walk to Ramos. Our scouting report said that Kuhlmann didn’t have a good arm! The Coons just were swinging too eagerly to give Ramos much of a chance to steal… Howden flew out in two pitches, and in another two Jamieson laid a roller on the infield that luckily became an infield single, bringing up an unretired Jimmy Wallace with the winning runs on base. The count ran full, and Wallace prevailed, singling to center in a full count, allowing Ramos to score and tie the game. Could they end it? Stalker didn’t, popping out to Schneller. Nunley dragged out a full count before walking, presenting Joe Vanatti with three on and two outs. I squealed when he poked the first pitch to the right side, Schneller lunged and missed it, and the Critters walked off after all … 5-4 Blighters. Jamieson 2-4, 3B; Wallace 5-5, 2 RBI; Stalker 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Hague 7.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K;

Mauricio Garavito picked up the win, pitching the last out of the ninth inning, but didn’t really do anything. Dan Schneller was caught stealing after two pitches.

Game 2
IND: SS Pizano – RF Plunkett – CF Baron – LF I. Vega – 2B Schneller – C Paiz – 1B I. Pena – 3B E. Sosa – P Bressner
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Gurney

A Ramos walk and Howden single in the first inning dissolved in a double play and a strikeout, before the Coons loaded them up on a Stalker single, Nunley hitting into a force play, Vanatti reaching on Pizano’s error, and then a soft single by Leal, bringing up Gurney, a .091 batter, with one out and the bags stacked. A strikeout brought up Ramos, who popped out foul. In turn, Pena rolled a single through the left side, Sosa walked, and after a bunt by the pitcher, the Indians took a 1-0 lead on Pizano’s single to center in the top 3rd. Pizano was caught stealing, allowing the Coons to strand the runner on third when Plunkett grounded out to Nunley.

Through five, the Coons out-hit the Arrowheads, 6-3, but nevertheless still had no runs on the board. Vanatti hit a single in the sixth, which led nowhere, and the seventh was uneventful. Gurney was maintaining his 3-hitter and the grip on the loss, until the Critters got another chance in the eighth. Wallace singled to left with one out, and Stalker squeezed Bressner for a walk. Nunley fell to 2-2, then dished a ball to center, and that one was well deep and chased John Baron back. He couldn’t get it, and the ball fell for a score-knotting RBI double, and two were in scoring position for Vanatti with one out. The Indians preferred to get the catcher up, and the Raccoons preferred to send Hereford again. Rich wrangled a walk from Bressner’s hands, forcing in the go-ahead run for the Coons, and with the lead, Gurney was hit for by Magallanes, while Cass ran for the calf-stricken Hereford. Bressner balked, plating Nunley, robbing Magallanes of an RBI when he drew the walk. Ramos came up with three on and one out and caused mayhem; one run scored when he hit into a fielder’s choice, getting Magallanes out at second, but Ramos then took off and Paiz overthrew the ball into centerfield for a run-scoring error that moved Ramos to third. Howden grounded out to end the inning, but the Coons had a 5-spot! The Indians got a run back from Ricky Ohl in the ninth, who allowed a leadoff single to Pizano and then a run-scoring double against Cowan, but Schneller struck out to put the game in the books. 5-2 Raccoons. Wallace 2-4; Vanatti 2-3, BB; Hereford (PH) 0-0, BB, RBI; Gurney 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (5-4);

Wins, wins, wins! – I would not tire of it if they kept winning forever!

But they won’t.

Game 3
IND: 2B Schneller – 1B Regan – RF Plunkett – CF Baron – LF I. Vega – SS Pizano – C Paiz – 3B E. Sosa – P Saccoccio
POR: SS Ramos – 1B Howden – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – CF Magallanes – C Rocha – P Martinez

Martinez continued to experience penance with Odilon and was not sharp and easily hittable. At least he was lucky enough to face John Baron after shuffling the bags full in the third inning. Baron, a bad copy of Ben Suhay, struck out when Martinez tried REALLY hard to walk him with the bases loaded, ending the inning. The Coons also brought up their centerfielder with the bases loaded, but that came in the fourth inning and with one out, but still in a scoreless game. He poked an 0-2 pitch to first base, where Greg Regan sniffed two and zinged to Pizano, who was then taken out with great vigor by Matt Nunley – 40 years old, but not too good for himself to hit a guy in the legs. He might have displayed extra vigor, sniffing a crusty nut snack in Pizano’s back pocket, which he promptly stole while the shortstop picked himself out of the dirt. In any case, Jimmy Wallace scored from third with the game’s first run. Rocha flew out to Plunkett, stranding two. The 1-0 lead was given away immediately by Martinez on a Schneller double and Regan single in the fifth, then loaded the bases in the sixth with a walk issued to Baron, a Pizano single, and another walk against Paiz. Sosa batted with one out, but the Coons went to the pen and got Fleischer, who got a soft liner to Ramos from the third baseman, and then a hissing liner to right hit by Saccoccio that somehow ended up with Wallace…

The Raccoons stranded runners on the corners in the sixth (when Magallanes flew out to left) and in the seventh (Jamieson popped out), missing plenty of opportunity to take another lead. Stalker was on in the eighth, but was doubled off by Nunley, and since the right-handed tandem of Fleischer and Anaya was holding the Arrowheads at bay, Chris Wise came out to defend the 1-1 tie in the ninth inning, then right away nicked PH Andres Medina with a 2-2 pitch. Schneller grounded out, moving Medina to second, and then Wise nicked Ivan Pena. Plunkett struck out, but Baron dropped a single into right, allowing the quick Medina to score. Vega flew out to center, but now Menendez would face the bottom of the order in the bottom of the ninth. Magallanes flew out, but Vanatti grounded to deep short, and too deep for Pizano to convert the ball into an out. As the winning run came to the plate, Hereford batted for Wise, singled to right, and Vanatti sped to third base, bringing up Ramos. He grounded at 1-2 to Pizano, to second, but the throw to first was late, and the tying run scored. Ramos was caught stealing to send the game to extras… Boles came on for the tenth inning, Pizano singled, Paiz was nailed (…!), and then Leal lost a ball to allow the runners to advance. Boles glitched Sosa on base on four balls, so the Indians had them loaded with nobody out. The pitching coach strolled out, hit Boles on the head with his cap and gave him a good yellin’ that seemed to work. Boles struck out Kuhlmann and Schneller, and had Pena at 0-2 before the ball was put in play, and into the gap, and Magallanes was nowhere near, and it was a bases-clearing double. (hits head against the wall with great force, again and again) The Indians took a 5-run lead on Plunkett’s bomb to dead center, after which Boles was yanked and thrown straight into the Willamette. Derks fanned Baron, all too late, and the Coons rather bemused themselves by giving the spare pieces on the bench at-bats in the bottom 10th… 7-2 Indians. Jamieson 3-5, 2B; Stalker 1-2, 3 BB; Vanatti (PH) 1-1; Hereford (PH) 1-1;

In other news

July 7 – The Titans get doubly bad news; while CF/LF Adrian Reichardt (.294, 3 HR, 35 RBI) will miss four weeks with a quad strain, SS Keith Spataro (.294, 4 HR, 34 RBI) is out for the season with a torn calf muscle.
July 7 – The Wolves trade INF Elijah Williams (.283, 0 HR, 22 RBI) to the Cyclones for two prospects.
July 8 – IND SP David Saccoccio (8-5, 3.25 ERA) 3-hits the Canadiens in a 9-0 Indians romp.
July 8 – In a 19-4 smothering of the Crusaders, BOS OF Adam Braun (.341, 6 HR, 19 RBI) clocks two homers and drives in six runs.
July 9 – SAL SP Rin Nomura (3-4, 4.24 ERA) 3-hits the Pacifics as the Wolves win 7-0.
July 10 – Another 3-hit shutout is delivered by OCT SP Leon Hernandez (2-1, 3.49 ERA) in an 8-0 Thunder win over the Knights.
July 10 – NYC OF Chris Reardon (.269, 8 HR, 59 RBI) wins the Crusaders a 1-0 triumph over the Titans with a seventh-inning homer. It is the second straight 1-0 game between the two teams after the Titans had won with the minimal offensive output the previous day.
July 13 – The Warriors’ SP John Rucker (8-6, 3.09 ERA) 2-hits the Scorpions in a 7-0 shutout.

Complaints and stuff

The win in the last game in Milwaukee and taking the first two from Indy gave the team a 3-game winning streak. That was also their FIRST 3-game winning streak of the season. Of course it is already over.

Tim Stalker carries a 12-game hitting streak into the break, although he got the hit on Sunday only in the miserable 10th inning.

But before the general sadness can continue, we will have the All Star Game upon us. Two Coons will go. One of them was rather obvious, Alberto Ramos winning the second-most votes among CL position players. It is his third All Star nomination, all consecutively. Ricky Ohl also got the nod, for *reasons*… he makes his fifth All Star team in seven years, e.g. all the full seasons he spent in the majors.

The Coons will have Hereford back to strength after the All Star Game. We will also see a number of pitchers come off the DL over the next week or so, although Shumway, Roberts, and Krumm (who?) will all report to AAA for a tune-up first. We do not need a fifth pitcher until the second Friday after the All Star Game, and by then *somebody* should be available out of that bunch. While we have a double header against the dumb Elks the Tuesday after the All Star break, we can probably arrange our pen to piggy-back with the guy that starts the second game after the break. Maybe make that Martinez; it’s not like he’s pitching deep into games anyway…

With that, three players will remain on the DL, including Tovias, Baldwin, and Hennessy, who is likely out for the season.

…and how is our #5 pick doing, a month after the draft? Manny Fernandez is batting … .187 in Aumsville. Man, he should watch out that nobody pelts him before he loses kit protection next June…

Fun Fact: Prior to Jarod Howden on Tuesday, seven other Raccoons had struck out five times in a game, some of which we even fondly remember.

That’s really Concie Guerin, actually, who struck out five times on June 27, 2000, and Vern Kinnear on September 25, 1995, although I have always had a soft spot for Winston Thompson (August 8, 1987), who these days seems to be almost forgotten among Raccoons fans.

The other 5 K heroes include Wyatt Johnston (1979), Mike Crowe (1998), Mike Denny (2018), and Omar Alfaro (2022).

No Raccoon has ever struck out six times in a game, and only one player has ever struck out six times in a regular nine-inning game, Alex Duarte of the 2023 Rebels. And if that name rings a bell, yes, he used to be a Raccoons rookie. He batted .314 in a stint in ’16 for us, never replicated the feat, and ended up a career .243 batter with 50 homers that was out of the majors by age 33.

Six strikeouts in extra-inning games has been done from time to time, but only one batter ever managed to whiff as often without being beaten to death by his manager right away, and divined that a seventh strikeout would enshrine him in the record books forever. That was Stephen Buell of the Capitals on July 7, 2002. And if you say, well, hold on, that ALSO rings a bell, I have to admit you’re right. Stephen Buell ALSO was a Raccoons rookie, batted .299 in a stint in ’96, never replicated the feat, and ended up a career .263 batter with nine homers that was out of the majors by age 28.
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All Star Game

The Federal League notched a 4-2 win over the Continental League, with WAS C Nate Evans (.289, 7 HR, 50 RBI) named the game’s MVP. Evans hit the walkoff homer off Milwaukee’s Morgan Shepherd in the 11th inning that put the game to an end. Nashville’s Jim Allen also shone with three base hits, but could not get any help from people around him in the lineup.

For the Coons, Alberto Ramos played the whole game and went a snacky 0-for-5, while Ricky Ohl pitched a scoreless 10th inning before everything came crashing down.

Raccoons (37-51) vs. Loggers (54-36) – July 17-20, 2031

Following the split in Milwaukee the previous week, the Raccoons trailed 6-2 in the season series. The Loggers had been swept the previous weekend and the Raccoons hoped to get a few more wins in here, too. There was still that almost two decades old string of never dropping the season series… but I didn’t like our chances against a team that was already 16 games ahead of us…

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (5-4, 2.87 ERA) vs. Josh Weeks (7-5, 3.02 ERA)
Dave Martinez (3-6, 5.00 ERA) vs. Joe West (7-7, 4.42 ERA)
Ed Hague (5-6, 4.03 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (9-5, 3.08 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (4-8, 5.49 ERA) vs. Morgan Shepherd (5-5, 2.01 ERA)

Weeks and Colmenarez were the only southpaws in the Loggers’ rotation.

Game 1
MIL: 3B Lockert – LF Cambra – SS W. Morris – 1B M. Monroe – RF Stephenson – CF Creech – C Canody – 2B Parten – P Weeks
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – CF Catella – 1B Howden – C Rocha – P Gurney

The game unraveled right from the start, all thanks to Jarod Howden, the dumb pig. Matt Lockert reached on an infield single when Howden just ate his grounder, and then Howden dropped a Firmino Cambra pop. Two on, nobody out, Gurney unravelling right away, and Wayne Morris’ hopper over the second base bag made it 1-0 in a hurry. That was not enough to send me to the liquor cabinet, but Josh Stephenson’s homer to left sure was. 4-0 in the first, and it was ALL Howden’s fault, the dumb pig!! (angrily shakes Capt’n Coma bottle) Alright, alright, Gurney was also pitching like horse ****. Lockert and Cambra knocked base hits in the second, and Morris hit a sac fly, 5-0. Jason Parten would knock out Gurney with a 2-run single in the third inning, and we had a bullpen day RIGHT AWAY in the first game after the ****ing All Star Game. Gurney’s line closed at 2.1 innings, eight runs, seven of those earned. Josh Boles waved Parten around, and allowed actually another run on a Lockert double and a Cambra single. By now it was merely 9-0.

Boles would be used for eight outs, because when your tossing like garbage, garbage innings is what you’ll get. Speaking of garbage, while the brown-clad team was covered in it, they actually made it onto the board… eventually. Tim Stalker extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a fifth-inning double that plated Rocha and Ramos for two tiny runs that weren’t going to change anything. One run fell out of David Fernandez in the eighth, which didn’t matter, and Rich Hereford drove in a run in the Coons’ half of the eighth, which didn’t either. For ****’s sake, Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, plated a pair with a 2-out blooper in the shallow gap, and that still didn’t matter. 10-5 Loggers. Ramos 2-5; Stalker 3-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Howden 2-4, 2 RBI;

(takes deep breaths)

Game 2
MIL: 3B Lockert – CF Creech – SS W. Morris – C J. Young – RF Stephenson – 1B M. Monroe – LF D.J. Mendez – 2B Holder – P J. West
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – 3B Nunley – C Leal – P Martinez

Martinez put three guys on in the first inning, allowing singles to Wayne Morris and Jim Young, then nailed Stephenson real good, but Miles Monroe popped out. Martinez put three guys on in the second inning on a single by D.J. Mendez, Joe West reaching base on a bunt on Martinez’ own stupid error, and then Gabe Creech knocked a clean single to left for the game’s first run. He ticked off the wild pitch in the third inning, and in terms of stupid **** Martinez thus lacked only balking in a run and falling off the mound in a wind gust and breaking his ****ing ass at this point… The Critters meanwhile did next to nothing the first time through the order, then got Stalker and Wallace to the corners with a pair of leadoff singles in the fourth. Oh, offense! How were they gonna – … easy, Professor Plum, in the conservatory, with the spanner… or, more accurately, Matt Jamieson with a 5-4-3 double play grounder, that did score the tying run, but… ah …!! Howden struck out, the dumb pig.

Kaleb Holder singled in the go-ahead run with one out in the sixth. Miles Monroe had doubled off the leftfield wall to begin that inning, and Martinez didn’t make it out on the other side, either, being yanked after a 2-out walk to Matt Lockert. Fleischer rung up Creech to strand runners on the corners in the 2-1 game. A touch of offense could be enough to turn this game around again…! Jim Young touched a Fleischer fastball, however, for a solo homer in the seventh, and when Young came up again he also touched Chris Wise in the naughty spot in the ninth inning with an RBI double to plate Creech. The Coons got two men on with two outs in the bottom 7th, but Armando Leal continued to not be a contributor, while Hereford was on base leading off the eighth, and then was doubled off by Stalker. Alfredo Casique retired the meat of the order in the bottom 9th without putting anybody on base. 4-1 Loggers. Stalker 2-4, 2B; Howden 2-4, 2B; Magallanes (PH) 1-1;

We now have to win … seven of … eight? …against the Loggers to extend the streak? … Maybe, if a conjunction of planets- yeah, no, it’s over.

EVERYTHING IS OVER.

Playing was, too, temporarily, on Saturday, where it just rained all day long. This scheduled a double header for Sunday, which was totally not going to screw up our pitching plans…

Game 3
MIL: 3B Lockert – LF Cambra – SS W. Morris – C J. Young – RF Stephenson – 1B M. Monroe – CF Creech – 2B Holder – P Colmenarez
POR: CF Magallanes – SS Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – 1B Howden – C Rocha – 2B Cass – P Hague

Ed Hague didn’t strike out anybody until the fifth inning in the first leg of the Sunday twin-bill, but at least he also didn’t allow a hit through five! Less pretty was the Coons’ disinterest in scoring runs themselves. Magallanes had opened the bottom 1st with a single and had been doubled off by Stalker right away, and they had merely existed ever since. Ironically it would be the opposing pitcher to take away the no-hit bid when Colmenarez singled up the middle with one down in the sixth. Both Lockert and Cambra flew out easily to left, though.

Top 7th, still scoreless, but at least the Loggers had woken up now. Morris and Young opened the inning with line drive singles, and pinch-hitter D.J. Mendez drew a 4-pitch walk to load the sacks with nobody retired. And OF COURSE the skies came down…! Miles Monroe hit a clean RBI single for the first blotch on the scoreboard, with more following soon. PH Esteban Arroyo popped out, but Kaleb Holder grounded to second, and 2005 Ugliest Baby Boy award winner Sam Cass couldn’t turn two on a trivial play. A run scored and runners were on the corners for Colmenarez, who grounded to Sam Cass, who couldn’t be any uglier if someone broke a full ash tray forcefully on his nose, and ****ed the play, with the ball rolling out of his glove and into rightfield, allowing another run to come around. Lockert struck out, but the damage was done with three runs on Hague, two of them earned, and one actually merited. Not that the Loggers were that stellar; base hits by Jamieson and Hereford in the bottom 7th would turn into runs merely on a passed ball charged to Young and a Morris error with Daniel Rocha batting with two outs. That nominally made it a close game, 3-2, but the sirens kept howling in he bottomless pit in the center of the field, and Firmino Cambra rammed a leadoff homer in the eighth to give the Loggers a cushion. Hague lasted one more out, and Garavito put in the rest of the outs missing in regulation, but it was all in vain. No Raccoon reached base again facing Colmenarez in the eighth and Casique in the ninth. 4-2 Loggers.

Slappy, what pills did the Druid prescribe for you? Because mine don’t really give me any spin even in a pint of Capt’n Coma…

Game 4
MIL: 3B Lockert – LF Cambra – SS W. Morris – 1B M. Monroe – RF Stephenson – CF Creech – C Canody – 2B Holder – P Shepherd
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – 3B Nunley – C Leal – P Gutierrez

Loggers led early on with a run produced on a Cambra double and a Morris single, and the ball was flying great distances off Rico Gutierrez right away in this game, or any other, really… The Furballs got Ramos and Stalker to the corners to begin the bottom 1st, and Jimmy Wallace tied the game with a groundout, which would have been fine if somebody would have brought in Stalker from second. Nobody did; Hereford walked, Howden popped out, and Vanatti just whiffed and sat down. That would not be enough to support Gutierrez, who plainly sucked, and was one of a number of candidates who faced banishment when the crop of DL dwellers would resume pitching. Creech hit a leadoff single in the second, but was caught stealing. In the third, Cambra and Morris reached base with one out, and Stephenson lined a single over Ramos with two down. Cambra was sent and thrown out by Hereford, keeping the score tied. Bottom 3rd, Ramos drew a leadoff walk, stole second, and was on third with two outs. Hereford walked again, leaving things to Howden. The dumb pig fouled out behind home plate at 0-2.

The go-ahead run was in scoring position again in the bottom 4th, and again with no outs. Vanatti ripped a double down the line. While Nunley popped out, the runner advanced on a wild pitch, then came home when Armando Leal got his weekly hit, a single to left, 2-1 Coons. Leal would be bunted to second by Gutierrez, then driven home by Ramos with two outs, leaving Ramos unretired in three attempts, and giving the Coons as many runs in a 3-1 game. Gutierrez inched through the fifth on just over 70 pitches, and with an army of relievers still available (only Garavito had been used in the first leg of the double header) we’d watch every move and sneeze he made from here on out, which stunningly included batting again in he bottom 5th. While he struck out to end the frame, by then the Coons had scored two after getting Wallace, Howden (singles), and Nunley (walk) on base, and then getting Leal to hit a ball over Monroe for a 2-out, 2-run single, 5-1. Rico would retain the ball as long as he didn’t create serious traffic, which we deemed to be two men on base or a run on the board. Or… well… weather. Rico got two to begin the sixth, then started to get wet from above rather than from all the surrounding bases. The game continued for the moment, though, with Taylor Canody flying out to Wallace to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Ramos was running up a score, too. He had walked and stolen a bag in the first, and walked and stolen a bag in the third. In the sixth, he opened the inning by singling against Julio Palomo, stole second, Stalker walked, and then they stole a pair in unison, giving Ramos four on the day. Wallace lined out to Holder while Hereford reached base on catcher’s interference, giving this game, too, a weird-ass touch. Howden got a run home with a sac fly, 6-1, before Vanatti popped out. In light but steady rain, Rico Gutierrez lasted six and two thirds before two Loggers were on base. Granted, Lockert reached on a Ramos error before a Cambra single to center, but his run would count the same as any other… Ricky Ohl came on, walked Morris in a full count, then rung up Monroe in another, stranding three. Anaya and Fernandez handled the baseball from there, while Ramos drew a leadoff walk against Travis Feider in the bottom 8th. He wouldn’t, would he? He would, but should he? Could he? Stalker batted with a hit-and-run called, but flew out to Stephenson, forcing Ramos back. Wallace whiffed, and with Hereford up, the Coons called a run-and-hit; Hereford whiffed, but so did Canody, and Ramos stole his fifth bag of the game and 37th of the season, the best performance by any player in a game that also saw Firmino Cambra go unretired, but with much, much less splash. 6-1 Coons. Ramos 2-2, 3 BB, RBI; Leal 2-4, 3 RBI; Gutierrez 6.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, W (5-8);

In other news

July 14 – Teenage wonder DAL INF Jon Ramos (.350, 2 HR, 33 RBI) will miss six weeks with an oblique strain. He will have turned 20 by the time he comes off the DL.
July 16 – The Crusaders deal 3B Ryan Czachor (.263, 2 HR, 27 RBI) to the Titans for RF Corey Curro (.179, 0 HR, 3 RBI). Both players are over 35 years old.
July 19 – Salem’s OF/1B/SS Noel Ferrero (.294, 3 HR, 42 RBI) smacks five hits, including a double and a grand slam, in a 5-RBI effort that gives the Wolves a 9-8 win over the Pacifics. The game ends with two outs in the bottom 9th when LAP MR Gabriel Recio (1-1, 3.60 ERA, 1 SV) nails SAL C Jing-quo Liu (.231, 4 HR, 26 RBI) with the bases loaded.

Complaints and stuff

This was a depressing stump week. They played horrendously. Besides, oddly, Rico Gutierrez, who got the lone W against the Loggers, which also puts us down 3-9 in the season series, so, eh, yeah… no more droning about that stat in the future…

Alberto Ramos not only entered the history books on Sunday (see below) but also has entered the 23-strong 300 SB club. He is currently chasing Lorenzo Rivera of Los Angeles for 22nd spot.

Nothing else really happened. Next week will see us in another double header right away against the Elks, but that will come on the other side of an off day, so that’s weird… We will also have the Knights in next week.

Fun Fact: Alberto Ramos became the first Continental League player EVER to swipe five bases in a single game!

The feat has been achieved three times in the Federal League, and all instances have come in the last decade. Capitals Guillermo Obando (2023) and Enrique Trevino (2030) were the first to do it, and Oscar Mendoza of the Pacifics also took a handful last year in August.

Nobody has ever taken six in a game.
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