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Old 06-11-2019, 06:03 PM   #2881
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The week of the free agency deadline, the Raccoons made their first offers of the offseason. A couple all at once, actually. Three hundred grand here, four hundred grand there… looking for the bits and pieces, nuts and bolts. Don’t commit to nothing, but don’t necessarily lose a hundred games. Losing a hundred games sucked. We hadn’t done it in over half a century, and there was no point in starting with that kinda crap now.

+++

November 19 – The Raccoons trade for the Gold Sox’ 32-year-old OF/1B Joe Vanatti (.277, 61 HR, 425 RBI), parting with AA OF Edgar Espinosa, age 22.
November 19 – Ex-DEN SP/MR Rin Nomura (58-38, 3.48 ERA, 1 SV) resurfaces with the Wolves on a 3-yr, $2.58 contract.
November 23 – The Cyclones sign ex-OCT 3B Dave Garcia (.293, 319 HR, 1,224 RBI) to a 3-yr, $11.88M contract. It will be the 35-year-old, 2-time Player of the Year’s first foray into the Federal League.
November 25 – Former Crusaders closer Travis Giordano (54-39, 2.88 ERA, 186 SV) signs a 1-yr, $1.82M deal with the Miners.
November 28 – The Titans snatch up ex-Condors SP Adam Potter (75-73, 3.64 ERA) for seven years and merely $26.32M.
[b]November 28 – The Raccoons sign ex-SAC SP Eddie Krumm (27-56, 5.07 ERA, 4 SV) to a 1-yr, $360k deal.

+++

The Vanatti trade brings in a qualified bat/glove combo that would not embarrass himself on even a winning team. He is under contract for two more years at $940k each, with a player option for the second year in ’32. This is a very lopsided deal, because Espinosa offers not much at all. He was our sixth-rounder in ’27 but isn’t hitting anything.

There is some sort of backstory to this. Vanatti was of course part of the Pacifics when we met them (and beat them!) in the 2026 World Series. He then signed on with the Aces prior to 2030, but was dealt to the Gold Sox in June in the trade that sent Ted Schlegelmilch to the Aces. Some thing or other went wrong over there immediately, because Vanatti made very clear signals in the last few months that he absolutely wanted outta there. Seems like Denver’s clubhouse is in turmoil, and the front office was trying to get rid of somebody, anybody, to make it go away.

Truth be told, Vanatti hasn’t hit a lot in a while. He will probably not suddenly be 25 again and hit 16 dingers and bat .284. But the Raccoons might be content just with having a decent centerfielder……

Meanwhile, Eddie Krumm led the Federal League in losses last year despite a *tolerable* 4.93 ERA. This without a doubt means he has all the bad luck out of his system! Depending on what happens with my other offers, he might even be the #5 starter, but I’m currently having him penciled in more for a swingman / long relief role. It might also help him to have some semblance of a defense behind him for the first time in his career. And yes, he pitched against the Critters in ’30, and no, he did not beat them. We dropped him to 0-6 when we encountered him in May. Would you believe he actually had consecutive winning decisions in late August / early September?

That’s the sort of players we’re after though. Just plugging holes here.

What else? Omar Alfaro signed with the Knights for $400k. That's about it to the end of November.
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Last edited by Westheim; 06-11-2019 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:28 AM   #2882
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November 30 – The Thunder pick up ex-LAP SP Luis Flores (174-118, 3.38 ERA). The 37-year-old righty, who has 2,223 career strikeouts, signs for 2-yr, $6.24M.
December 1 – Rule 5 Draft: 19 players are selected across three rounds. The Raccoons draft three players out of other organizations, in order: 23-yr old AAA CL/C (sic!) Mike Hugh from the Crusaders, 35-yr old C Armando Leal from the Stars, and 23-yr old AAA MR John Hennessy from the Blue Sox.

+++

There is a bit to unpack here regarding our rule 5 transactions. First off, we protected a few more players that needed it, for example Bernie Chavez, about #4 in the pipeline of young starting pitchers that would at some day lead this team back into the postseason, maybe. We also had to make room on the 40-man at the same time, removing Juan Barzaga (he’s fine, he’s used to it) and exposing Billy Ramm and Wilson Rodriguez to waivers. That was just enough to get those three on board.

Now, let me explain, and let me start with the easiest one, and that is actually Leal. You should remember that he won a ring with these Critters in 2028, then immediately fell on hard times and spent most of the last two years in the minors. We think he can still bring it – at least as much as Pizzo did and Tovias does – and since our internal selections (Shane Ivey? Daniel Rocha?) are entirely unpleasant we had to get a catcher from *somewhere*. The free agent market is not that rosy, especially if you value your draft picks (ruling out David Lessman). Armando Leal is going to be a perfectly nice stop-gap solution until we can realign ourselves (read: get rid of Tovias, too) at the end of ’31. Again, we have a very, very nice catching prospect (though more in terms of actual catching than striking fear in opposing pitchers) in Elliott Thompson, but the boy is only 21 and has only started to tackle the AA level. More stop-gap solutions will be needed at some point.

Then there is Hennessy, a southpaw with a devastating slider. Not much of a changeup; might be an emergency starter, but surely not a regular in the rotation. He had command issues last year in AAA, which is as much a blanket statement to describe 22-year-old southpaws in AAA as to point out that they had two arms, two legs, and two eyes. This one should be easy to work out given that so far we had only one left-handed reliever (Garavito) that was not penciled in as closer (Boles). The other left-handers on the roster were all starting pitchers.

The first selection, Hugh, is the most puzzling one. You read that one right, he is a pitcher AND a catcher. Some might argue that he’s not any good at either of his two chosen professions. Well, he put up a 1.62 ERA in 63 innings between AA and AAA last year and struck out about eight per nine innings consistently at both levels. Righty with fastball/slider, groundball tendency, a bit of the run-of-the-mill variety as sixth/seventh inning relievers go… weren’t it for the fact that he also carries catcher’s gear and likes to aim for the fences. Now, the latter might be a bit of a problem. Our head scout, whose name I totally didn’t forget again, rates him a 6/11/10 potential bat, so making contact is not his strong suit. If he meets one – good. Most of the time he won’t.

Having him on the roster however removes one of the pains of managing a 25-man roster with two catchers. If one of them has a minor ill, you would not have to scuffle for a third-catcher to bring on for three days, during which he’d never get into a game, while somebody else loses an option for being sent to St. Pete. You got Hugh. Catching will be fine. Now, I am not claiming that he could be the *backup* catcher as in second guy on staff. But he is a totally fine emergency solution for narrow applications.

If all or any of those three make it to Opening Day, we don’t know yet. Currently there are 32 players on the still-extended roster. Chris Baldwin was the last rule 5 pick we took, and he’s still around somewhere. Looking up and down the roster, Chris Baldwin might even play centerfield a bit again in ’31, given that Vanatti is a left-handed batter and Baldwin is decidedly not, so there’s that… ah, I like my super utility players…

The 32 players on the extended roster? There are no *really* obvious axes in there, except probably Nick Bates, who has options, and also Sabre, who we have stated won’t be on the Opening Day roster (and did not make a convincing case in his lone appearance at the end of the season, either). The rest still needs sorting out. These are the other 31 (minus Sabre) players still around:

SP: Jason Gurney, Rico Gutierrez, Eddie Krumm, Dave Martinez, Mark Roberts, Tom Shumway
RP: Nick Bates, Josh Boles, Nick Derks, Jonathan Fleischer, Mauricio Garavito, John Hennessy (Rule 5), Mike Hugh (Rule 5), Ricky Ohl, Bryan Rabbitt, Chris Wise
C: Armando Leal (Rule 5), Elias Tovias
IF: Jarod Howden, Edwin Alvarez, Chris Baldwin, Tim Stalker, Rich Hereford (injured), Matt Nunley, Alberto Ramos
OF: Matt Jamieson, Ryan Allan, Sean Catella, Juan Magallanes, Joe Vanatti, Jimmy Wallace

And yes, we do have offers out there to free agents. Daddy needs more pitchers …!!
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Old 06-15-2019, 04:02 AM   #2883
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With the Winter Meetings drawing up the question arose whether the Raccoons would shed any veterans for decent prospects at all. The Agitator was reluctantly expecting a tradefest – reluctantly, because they were dead-certain that the Raccoons’ retarded GM would inevitably trade for turds anyway…

Since Mark Roberts was invoking 10/5 rights and Rico Gutierrez was just a head-sized iron ball chained around the Coons’ necks at this point, we were left mostly to offering Rich Hereford and Tom Shumway as far as the Old Guard was concerned. The Old Guard would never surrender – but they could sure be traded away if they weren’t up the tree at a count to three.

Teams were apprehensive of our offerings though. The Buffaloes had some token interest into Tom Shumway, but we struggled to come up with a package that would make the Critters’ fanbase happy. They had a 20-year-old outfielder in AA, Miguel Reyna, that was unranked but that according to our scout… y’know… that guy over there… (points) … you know, that guy… eh… well, he might be one of those on-base monsters that never strike out. Not the contact ability of, say, Ramos, to put the bar really high, but he should be able to get on base consistently and then also swipe a whole bunch o’ sacks. That would be a situation where you could drop Ramos down to #2 given his better contact ability.

Getting a bit ahead of ourselves here, though, because the Buffaloes would do the trade straight up, but the Raccoons wanted more than Reyna. I had spotted a good, cost-controlled Surginer-sized replacement in their pen, a 27-year-old righty named Derek Barker, that I wanted in the deal, too. About this, the Buffos were really more like nah, and then everybody went spinning their wheels…

+++

December 2 – The Miners sign two former Cyclones at once: RF/1B Brad Gore (.281, 179 HR, 999 RBI) is inked to a 2-yr, $4.06M contract, while C Pat Sanford (.254, 123 HR, 534 RBI) will get $5.52M over four years.
December 2 – The Condors trade for the Aces’ young swingman Ray Andrews (4-5, 2.33 ERA, 7 SV), parting with two prospects in the deal.
December 3 – Pittsburgh keeps revving the engine, trading for the Capitals’ LF/RF Alfredo Quintana (.276, 133 HR, 656 RBI). The 33-year-old lefty bat comes with a mild prospect, and at the cost of 26-yr old 1B Bob Zeltser (.310, 30 HR, 144 RBI).
December 4 – The Bayhawks pick up outfielder Ben Suhay (.231, 85 HR, 266 RBI) in a trade with the Indians. Indianapolis receives 1B Ivan Pena (.241, 7 HR, 44 RBI) and a prospect.
December 4 – 30-year-old LF Chris McEwen (.240, 40 HR, 219 RBI) is traded from the Pacifics to the Gold Sox in exchange for 27-yr old 2B/SS Kevin Fagan (.299, 2 HR, 31 RBI) and a prospect.
December 5 – The Cyclones snatch up ex-BOS CL Jonathan Snyder (40-30, 2.66 ERA, 232 SV) on a 2-yr, $2.04M contract.
December 5 – Boston consoles themselves with SP Mario Gonzalez (26-39, 3.81 ERA). The 26-year-old southpaw comes from Nashville via trade, exchanged for two prospects.
December 7 – The Canadiens add CL J.D. Hamm (7-16, 4.52 ERA, 46 SV) from the Aces, who receive two prospects.
December 8 – Ex-IND 1B Jon Gonzalez (.277, 163 HR, 677 RBI) signs a 4-yr, $10.36M contract with the Aces.
December 10 – Sacramento adds former Knights 1B Josh Keen (.286, 83 HR, 395 RBI) on a 2-yr, $2.24M deal.
December 13 – The Titans add veteran catcher David Lessman (.294, 125 HR, 561 RBI) on a 5-yr, $13M deal. Lessman, 30, had spent his entire career with the Capitals so far.
December 13 – The Indians trade CL Ben Darr (11-17, 3.84 ERA, 46 SV) to the Capitals for the services of sophomore 1B Greg Regan (.304, 9 HR, 60 RBI).
December 18 – The Knights pick up ex-PIT CL Mike Greene (51-49, 2.74 ERA, 322 SV) on a 3-yr, $6.72M contract.

+++

We didn’t really swing a deal at the winter meetings. Other teams are reluctant to give up any sort of prospect for the rundown collection of has-beens that the Raccoons had to offer.

Annoyingly though we were also after Greg Regan before the Caps traded him to Indy instead. Apparently they were not that much into Regan as *not* into our offers… Looks like we’ll be stuck with Howden at first base.

Kevin Harenberg is still out there… but we want the draft picks.

There is also a Hall of Fame ballot out, including a very dear old friend of ours! (calmly loads the blunderbuss with lead shot)
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Old 06-16-2019, 05:06 PM   #2884
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There was no Christmas gift for the fanbase, at least no “ooh! aah!” sort of signing that would light up kids’ eyes like only a pile of presents would. Instead the Raccoons managed to add two pitchers just before everybody else went to be with family and that sort of fluff and left me alone to stare at piles of tables and numbers, trying to find out where it had all gone so horribly wrong.

+++

December 21 – The Warriors sign former Gold Sox closer Steve Casey (47-70, 3.39 ERA, 264 SV) to a 3-yr, $6M contract.
December 21 – Ex-PIT RF/LF Matt Owen (.290, 98 HR, 513 RBI) hooks up with the Capitals. The 33-year-old right-handed batter will make $4.56M over two years.
December 22 – The Miners console themselves with a corner outfielder of advanced age by signing 35-year-old Cesar Martinez (.266, 259 HR, 917 RBI), who last played with the Bayhawks.
December 25 – The Raccoons sign both 34-year old veteran right-hander and former Falcons SP Ed Hague (105-98, 4.11 ERA, 1 SV), who inks a 2-yr, $1.6M contract, and 28-year-old Cuban exile and right-hander Victor Anaya, who gets a $300k contract.
December 25 – INF Omar Camacho (.265, 47 HR, 404 RBI) inks a 2-yr, $2.8M contract with the Condors after spending three years with the Blue Sox.
December 27 – The Knights announce the addition of ex-POR 1B Kevin Harenberg (.297, 192 HR, 888 RBI) on a 2-yr, $7.76M contract. The Raccoons receive the Knights’ top draft pick and a supplemental round pick in the 2031 draft.

+++

With the double signing on the 25th we took back the #1 spot in the offseason rankings on BNN. Because that’s ever made a winner…

Hague is another one of those veteran stop-gaps that we will use until our young pitching comes of age. Since we can’t move Roberts (10/5), Gutierrez (albatross contract), or Shumway (at least not for anything crisp), we completed our Opening Day rotation with Hague; Dave Martinez was of course the fifth hurler in the quintet.

Anaya is probably not going to be on the Opening Day roster. We have approximately 15 other pitchers lingering on the extended roster right now, and that does not include a few more guys like Bernie Chavez and Matt Stonecipher in AAA, who are also on the 40-man roster, which by the way is choke full right now. In fact, the Raccoons placed Sean Rigg and Edwin Alvarez on waivers just to accommodate Hague and Anaya. Not letting go of any of those rule 5 picks just yet!

But yeah, we have way more pitching than necessary… at least in numbers… In a first move, Jason Gurney was officially assigned back to the Alley Cats. With the starters and the five relievers nobody had serious doubts about (Boles, Ohl, Fleischer, Wise, Garavito) barring another trade for young, juicy prospects, there were still a pile of leftovers: Eddie Krumm, Nick Derks, Nick Bates, Victor Anaya, Bryan Rabbitt, John Hennessy, and Mike Hugh. Not included is Raffaello Sabre, who was only hanging around the extended roster to not waste an option.* Actually, Hennessy was the only southpaw in that group, so that gave him a nice hand going forward. Krumm and Derks had no options, and Hugh was the other rule 5 pick as far as pitchers were concerned.

However, with Alvarez waived, the Coons had only 14 position players left. Tovias and Leal for catchers; Howden, Stalker, Hereford, Ramos, Nunley, and Baldwin for infielders; and Jamieson, Wallace, Vanatti, Allan, Catella, and Magallanes for outfielders. One of the latter group had to go at some point.

The fans were bemoaning Harenberg’s departure, but it made no sense to hang on to a 33-year-old first baseman who was unlikely to be around for the next contender. Better take the draft picks. And I have said this so often right now because I have to combat my own sadness that way. Everyone around here knows that I was often enough at odds with Harenberg’s lack of clutch, but he *is* a damn fine first baseman.

Maybe the draft pick loot can help us get over the cavernous hole in our stomachs. And hearts. The Knights had held the #15 pick for the 2031 draft, but it was ours now. The only better options for us would have been Harenberg going to the Bayhawks (#14) or the Condors, who held the #13 pick forfeited by the Titans when they signed Adam Potter. Our compensation pick will come between #26 and #28, depending on whether any of the type B free agents of the Aces and Rebels sign. The Cyclones already have a compensation pick ahead of us. The Stars, the only other team picking ahead of us in any round, does not have compensation eligible free agents.

Speaking of Mark Roberts in passing above, did you know he has the lowest career WHIP (1.08) among all active pitchers? In fact, he is also eighth in career WHIP amongst ALL pitchers in ABL history, and that includes a healthy dose of relievers. The lowest career WHIP for a starting pitcher all time? That’s 1.039 and the mark is held by a longtime Raccoon! And it is not who you think it is!

… Hector Santos! (3rd all time behind Angel Casas and Scott Hood)

Jonny Toner (12th), Brownie (23rd), Master Kisho (29th), and “Old Chris” Powell (35th) are all in prominent spots on the list though. And that’s only starters. We also hold claims to the all-time WHIP champ, Angel Casas. Grant West is 13th. And then there is two more starters in the top 10 that dabbled with Portland, but found glory elsewhere. Juan “Mauler” Correa is 4th; he pitched his final season on the way to retirement with the Raccoons in 1990. Antonio Donis is 9th. We could never figure out what to do with him. He is in the Hall of Fame as a Gold Sock, winning three Pitchers of the Year after turning 34.

Honorable mention to Austrian-Korean right-hander Jong-hoo Umberger at the edge of the top 50. His major league career lasted scarcely more than four years, but that was enough to win a Rookie of the Year crown and an ERA title with the Coons, and a World Series ring with the Crusaders.

+++

2031 HALL OF FAME VOTING RESULTS

To make it quick, for the second straight year nobody was elected to the Hall of Fame. These ballots just haven’t been appealing at all recently…

PIT 1B Steve Butler – 3rd – 57.6
LAP 1B Stanley Murphy – 3rd – 55.8
SAL 1B Alberto Rodriguez – 2nd – 48.0
ATL LF Gil Rockwell – 4th – 20.6
SAC SP Ian Rutter – 1st – 19.6
??? RF Justin Dally – 1st – 18.1
VAN 1B Ray Gilbert – 6th – 14.6
??? SP Bob King – 5th – 9.7
CIN C Jayden Jolley – 2nd – 6.2
POR LF R.J. DeWeese – 1st – 5.6
ATL SP Dave Butler – 2nd – 5.6
RIC RF Tamio Kimura – 1st – 5.0 – DROPPED
SFB 1B Adam Young – 1st – 3.1 – DROPPED
LAP 3B Jens Carroll – 6th – 2.8 – DROPPED
SAL SP Tim Dunn – 1st – 2.2 – DROPPED
TIJ MR Jayden Reed – 1st – 2.2 – DROPPED
LAP SP Ozzie Pereira – 1st – 1.9 – DROPPED
SAC 2B Ricky Luna – 1st – 0.0 – DROPPED

Next year's ballot will be more engaging - it will hold a pair of former Raccoons that have cases to make. Yoshi Nomura. Hugo Mendoza.

The year after that? How about Jonny Toner?? Also: Errol Spears, who also won a pile of stuff in his career, although his career numbers are not all that appealing.

*I am showing my lack of education here, because I am not certain when I can actually assign him back to AAA without consuming an option. Would appreciate a kind hint.
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Old 06-16-2019, 05:58 PM   #2885
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westheim View Post
*I am showing my lack of education here, because I am not certain when I can actually assign him back to AAA without consuming an option. Would appreciate a kind hint.
It should not matter during the off-season. But if he is on the 40 man roster and spends time in the minors during the season, he is supposed to burn an option. It does not matter if he does not play in the majors.

A player who spends the whole season on the active roster will not burn an option. Everyone else on the 40 man roster should. (In real life a player can spend a little time in the minors without burning an option year (19 days, but I am pretty certain that is not enforced in OOTP.)

The check for this should not kick in until Opening Day, but I have not tested as to whether this is actually true in OOTP, but I would be surprised if it wasn't. I'd also log a bug report.
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Old 06-17-2019, 01:39 AM   #2886
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The rest of January passed without any major revelations at all. The Raccoons were not actively chasing players at this point; we figured we had enough scums to last us a full season…

+++

January 11 – The Scorpions trade 25-yr old 1B Zach Tutt (.274, 12 HR, 66 RBI) to the Pacifics for two prospects.
January 13 – The Loggers trade for southpaw SP Josh Weeks (52-38, 3.59 ERA), with two prospects going to the Blue Sox.
January 21 – The Capitals spend $3M for a 1-year deal on 37-year-old former Thunder right-hander SP Alex Contreras (97-149, 4.56 ERA).
January 24 – Ex-WAS 3B/SS Stephen Williams (.257, 112 HR, 692 RBI) signs a 2-yr, $4.08M contract with the Scorpions.

+++

One former Raccoon signed a new contract at some place or other, as Matt Hamilton hooked up with the Warriors for $670k.

Yup. Slow news month in every aspect.

One type A free agent still out there, which would be righty Jose Fuentes, who saved 45 games for the Condors last year.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:39 PM   #2887
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At the start of February, Abel Mora returned to the Wolves on a $520k arrangement. Mora had once come from Salem, acquired in January of 2024 for Joe Moore, Cory Dew, and Kaleb Babcock. The trio of pitchers had done precious little for Salem. All of them had flushed from the team by ’27. Moore had since won a ring with the Pacifics. The Raccoons meanwhile had grabbed the second half of Mora’s peak, although notably from 2024 on, when Abel posted 5.1 WAR batting .285 with 13 homers for the Critters, his WAR decreased with every season that passed; thereafter he put out values of 4.2, 4.0, 2.9, 2.4, 1.2, and finally, last season, 0.1 WAR. Woof.

Thankfully, WAR is a useless stat. Seriously, what is it good for?

The Raccoons made a few more half-assed attempts to trade for a prospect in January and February, but we couldn’t get takers for Ricky Ohl, who I considered a) an asset, and b) maybe too old to contribute once the Critters would return to the first division. The second part was not true for Josh Boles, but indeed was for Rich Hereford. And yes, Hereford’s last two years have more or less been disasters… but I at least got people to talk to me, especially the “win now” crowd. Unfortunately, they – especially the Titans – were not eager to part with a top prospect.

Hereford would stick around for Opening Day thus, and maybe he could rekindle the fire of ’28 and net us compensation at the end of the season…

+++

February 23 – The Titans bring home OF Adam Braun (.275, 102 HR, 561 RBI) after three years away in a deal that sends CL Pat Selby (70-57, 3.40 ERA, 186 SV) to the Condors along with #27 prospect CL Josh Heckman, 24, who already has four major league appearances with two different teams for a 1.04 ERA in 8.2 innings.
February 23 – Furthermore, the Titans send C J.J. “Hopalong” Henley (.283, 207 HR, 751 RBI) to the Pacifics for SP Eric Williams (163-123, 3.29 ERA).
March 1 – The Bayhawks ink ex-SAC C Kyle Hearn (.266, 39 HR, 217 RBI) for 2-yr, $1.88M.
March 20 – The Raccoons claim 25-year-old 2B/SS Alex Geraldo (.213, 0 HR, 4 RBI) off waivers by the Dallas Stars.

+++

Geraldo is far from special. His main benefit is that he has an option left, so he’s a good depth piece for the upcoming season. It’s never wrong to have an extra shortstop when you’re having Alberto Ramos penciled in. To make room on the 40-man roster for Geraldo, Juan Magallanes was waived and designated for assignment, so this also cleared up the situation in the outfield where four potential centerfielders (Vanatti, Allan, Catella) had stood on each others’ hindpaws. Magallanes was good at drawing walks; but that was not a redeeming quality when you’re batting .205 on a sunny day. He was 27. Somehow he had tricked a major league team to debut him at age 21, and had gobbled up over 850 plate appearances to bat .249/.343/.278 with a homer and 49 RBI. He had also won two rings for his bothers.

We had tried to make him work for a couple of years, but the story of this Colombian ninth-round pick and alumnus of Yeshiva Rambam High School in New York was likely over.

Except, well, crippling injuries, y’know?

We didn’t make any more signings except a trash heap addition of 21-year-old outfielder Gabe McCormack, assigned to Aumsville. That one cost minor league meal money. In the end we managed to pump money into player development and at the end of winter still had $1.9M unspent.

What else? More former Critters signing new contracts: Vince “D” Devereaux signed for 2-yr, $2.04M with the Bayhawks; Billy Brotman got a $620k deal from the Buffaloes; Kevin Surginer was added by the Scorpions for $700k; Kyle Anderson would get $314k from the Aces;

It’s the eve of the new season. Boundless horrors await.
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Old 06-19-2019, 12:16 AM   #2888
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Man, you sure know how to get the fan base excited for the coming season! I have not been trembling in anticipation like this since awaiting the arrival of the new Yellow Pages, and those have not been around for quite a while!
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Old 06-19-2019, 09:18 AM   #2889
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westheim View Post
It’s the eve of the new season. Boundless horrors await.
From your new PR man, Col. Kurtz.
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Old 06-19-2019, 01:47 PM   #2890
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2031 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set in parenthesis shows 2030 numbers, second set career numbers; players with an * are off season acquisitions):

SP Mark Roberts, 36, B:L, T:L (13-11, 3.69 ERA | 143-98, 3.11 ERA) – for once did not lead the league in dingers allowed, and instead walked 40% more guys than usual, all of which I sign up to old age and stuff and control going away. That doesn’t mean he will get rid of the launchpad moniker ever again in his career. Two more years on his contract, both guaranteed. It’s unlikely that he can muster the numbers necessary for serious Hall of Fame consideration; he currently has 2,149 strikeouts in addition to his other stats.
SP Tom Shumway, 34, B:L, T:L (8-15, 4.06 ERA | 139-115, 3.33 ERA) – no-hit the Loggers in May, then went straight into the toilet. Oh well, still better than the DL. One of a couple of former Aces just not cutting it anymore. Strikeouts were down, walks were up in ’30, and there are another $9.9M left on this contract…
SP Dave Martinez, 25, B:S, T:R (14-11, 3.79 ERA | 20-14, 3.65 ERA) – run-of-the-mill righty getting by mostly on prayers to Odilon, who demands abstinence from wenches, vices, and meat, the latter of which confuses his teammates so much that he is not particularly liked, but as long as he turns his nondescript stuff into a sub-league-average ERA he can do whatever he ****ing wants.
SP Ed Hague *, 34, B:R, T:R (11-13, 4.18 ERA | 105-98, 4.11 ERA, 1 SV) – proven veteran that once each led the CL in wins (2026) and homers allowed (2030). Placeholder on a 2-year contract until we can get our young starts to rise from the minors.
SP Rico Gutierrez, 31, B:L, T:L (6-12, 5.32 ERA | 96-74, 3.42 ERA) – the baseball equivalent of a snuff movie, Rico went to the mound 26 times in ’30 (as often as various nagging injuries allowed) and almost as often came back in a litter with half his intestines dragging behind him. His absolutely brutal crash landing from winning the ERA title as recently as *2028* to the absolute garbage he delivered in ’30 is hard to put into words. Can’t get people away with two strikes, walked everybody and their mother, but hey, at least people are not hitting dingers off him anymore. But then it’s hard to hit a pitch that bounces six feet from home plate. And, oh yeah, there’s five years left on that contract…

LR Eddie Krumm *, 31, B:R, T:R (4-18, 4.93 ERA | 27-56, 5.07 ERA, 4 SV) – signed as fifth starter before we got Ed Hague for that job, Krumm led the FL in losses last year, which prompted the Scorpions to let go of him. Nothing special, and his K/BB usually just barely exceeds 1.2 or so. Will provide long relief and spot start duties and might take over once Rico Gutierrez inevitably goes to the DL again.
MR Jonathan Fleischer, 28, B:L, T:R (3-3, 4.76 ERA, 1 SV | 11-8, 3.75 ERA, 3 SV) – right-hander with a 96mph heater and a nasty curveball, but unfortunately also with some significant control issues. Walked six per nine in 2030, and I don’t know how much more patience I have for that sort of attitude.
MR Mauricio Garavito, 29, B:L, T:L (1-2, 2.92 ERA, 2 SV | 7-8, 2.99 ERA, 7 SV) – left-hander with balanced splits that was claimed off waivers by the Bayhawks early in the 2029 season when Jeremy Moesker turned out to be a turd. Did little to draw negative or positive attention since then; mostly very reliable.
MR John Hennessy *, 23, B:L, T:L (rookie) – selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Blue Sox, Hennessy throws 92 and has a rather wicked slider to fool hitters with.
MR Chris Wise, 24, B:R, T:R (3-2, 3.24 ERA | 3-2, 3.24 ERA) – debuted mid-season and was largely decent in his outings; if only he didn’t walk a guy every two innings on average...
SU Ricky Ohl, 32, B:R, T:R (2-5, 2.45 ERA, 16 SV | 27-22, 2.51 ERA, 47 SV) – aggressive strikeout pitcher who usually has no trouble whiffing a dozen per nine innings and most of the time keeps the ball in the park, too… there was that one year, where he gave up ten bombs in 56 innings, but it was for a change not ’30…
CL Josh Boles, 27, B:L, T:L (1-0, 0.68 ERA, 20 SV | 12-9, 1.96 ERA, 122 SV) – his dazzling knuckle curve unnerves both left- and right-handed batters and we can not imagine a better closer right now. Hasn’t lost a game since ’28, which would have been more of an achievement if he hadn’t missed more than half of 2030 on the DL…

C Elias Tovias, 31, B:S, T:R (.220, 4 HR, 27 RBI | .249, 97 HR, 433 RBI) – the question to the answer of “who does NOTHING and still gets $1.1M a year?”, Elias Matias Tovias Diaz once had good defense, called a smart game, had a rather strong arm, and a few years in the mid-20s was actually an offensive contributor. None of these bullet points I would still subscribe to. It says something about the early-30s Coons that they never came close to importing serious competition for the primary backstop’s job. This is the last year on Tovias’ contract. I don’t see him getting another one. With anybody.
C Armando Leal *, 35, B:S, T:R (.190, 0 HR, 1 RBI | .280, 87 HR, 540 RBI) – returns for a second tour of duty as a Rule 5 pick after getting next to no attention in his gap year in San Francisco. Will probably not win a second ring with the Critters... but if Tovias keeps doing Tovias, there is no reason Leal shouldn’t jump ahead and catch the bulk of the games. They’re both old. They’re both ****.

1B Jarod Howden *, 25, B:L, T:L (.274, 11 HR, 66 RBI | .269, 18 HR, 105 RBI) – has some shoes to fill after being acquired from the Blue Sox for nothing more but Butch Gerster. So-so defense, some power in the stick, and yes we DO wish that one of those first base blokes we draft every year would finally pan out, but they never do...
2B/SS Tim Stalker, 32, B:R, T:R (.232, 7 HR, 64 RBI | .259, 77 HR, 491 RBI) – very good defensive middle infielder, more than just token speed, and most of the time also a good batter, even though he ended 2029 in a terrible slump that carried on through ALL of the 2030 season. Probably the worst disappointment that wasn’t actually talked about a whole lot because everybody was so focused on the daily “man overboard” pitching clown show we had going on for most of the summer. Oh yeah, that rotten contract also has four years left at a crisp rate...
SS Alberto Ramos, 25, B:L, T:R (.317, 3 HR, 58 RBI | .322, 11 HR, 210 RBI) – The Excitement finally stayed on the field for a full season and tied, but didn’t break, the ABL record for stolen bases in a season, while SHATTERING the franchise mark by a mere 20 sacks when he stole 74 in ’30. Parlayed his success into a big contract that will completely not turn sour the second the umpire orders ball to be played on April 7.
3B/2B/SS/LF/RF Rich Hereford, 33, B:S, T:R (.242, 11 HR, 52 RBI | .279, 176 HR, 738 RBI) – without question part of the basket of Critters that were amazing as recently as 2028, and since then it has been nothing but horrors and/or injuries for them. Hereford missed 119 games between the last two years, and hasn’t come close to any sort of matching production compared to his once-in-a-decade season in ’28 when he homered 32 times and scored 140. Once-in-a-decade meaning that we only get such a season once in a decade from somebody, at best, not that it only happens as seldomly across the league…
3B Matt Nunley, 40, B:L, T:R (.283, 10 HR, 75 RBI | .279, 168 HR, 1,013 RBI) – endless Matt Nunley re-upped for another season, which will be his 19th overall, setting a new record for longevity among Raccoons. Was wildly amazing with the stick in the first half of the 2030 season, but slid off a bit later, but him winning a batting title at 39 years old was probably a bit too much asked from the baseball gods. He won a Gold Glove, though....
RF/LF/3B/CF/2B/1B Chris Baldwin, 27, B:R, T:R (.273, 0 HR, 7 RBI | .248, 1 HR, 18 RBI) – super utility player (I like the type) that spent almost the entire season on the major league roster and came up with just SEVEN ribbies in almost 200 plate appearances. At least he knows how to use all his gloves, and the last time I touched him he still had appropriate temperature …

LF/CF Matt Jamieson, 35, B:R, T:R (.272, 11 HR, 51 RBI | .264, 99 HR, 605 RBI) – played a competent leftfield and hit the ball more or less as expected, which is already a bit of a compliment given how 2030 had gone down. Will probably split at least some time with Hereford again given that only one guy can occupy third base at any given time.
LF/CF/RF/1B Joe Vanatti *, 33, B:L, T:L (.231, 5 HR, 32 RBI | .277, 61 HR, 425 RBI) – acquired from the Gold Sox, Vanatti is on his fourth team in 18 months, but it’s not like that always has to be a bad thing. Could be a perennial All Star being in high demand! But that’s not Vanatti…
RF/LF Jimmy Wallace, 24, B:L, T:L (.270, 1 HR, 8 RBI | .270, 1 HR, 8 RBI) – dubious defense, but he swung a hot stick after injuries prompted his promotion soon after he was acquired from the Buffaloes in the Jose Menendez trade, then went on the DL, and then batted .150 in September. Somehow, that was enough to win him a job in the starting lineup for Game One.
1B/LF/RF Ryan Allan, 29, B:L, T:R (.299, 0 HR, 20 RBI | .273, 1 HR, 29 RBI) – came out of nowhere last year and hit well over .300 for a while before fading, amassing 244 at-bats in total. Given that players don’t usually blossom at 28, we expect regression and him being deported to Florida before it stops raining in Portland.
CF/SS/LF/3B/2B/RF Sean Catella, 26, B:S, T:R (.250, 0 HR, 9 RBI | .237, 0 HR, 9 RBI) – the versatile, but not stellar defender ran into a job by virtue of being not absolutely ghastly terrible after everybody else had gone on the DL and/or to hell.

On disabled list: Nobody.

Otherwise unavailable: Nobody.

Other roster movement:
MR/C Mike Hugh *, 23, B:R, T:R (no stats) – returned to Crusaders. Was taken in the Rule 5 draft, but to my utmost regret we couldn’t work out a way to keep this extremely interesting pitcher slash catcher on the roster.
MR Nick Derks, 30, B:R, T:R (0-2, 1.57 ERA | 5-4, 4.60 ERA) – waived and DFA’ed – below-average right-hander with ill control, who will never learn.
2B/SS Alex Geraldo *, 25, B:R, T:R (.273, 0 HR, 2 RBI | .213, 0 HR, 4 RBI) – decent defensive depth for the middle infield, never wrong to have around with Alberto Ramos on staff. Only has 47 at-bats to his career, all with the Stars, from where we claimed him off waivers.

Not listed individually here are all the pitchers that were kept on the extended roster throughout the offseason but were reassigned to AAA on an option: Raffaello Sabre, Nick Bates, Bryan Rabbitt, and Victor Anaya.

OPENING DAY LINEUP:

Vs. RHP: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P
(Vs. LHP: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Jamieson – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – C Tovias – CF Baldwin – P)

Still too many lefty bats, but we might make it work somehow… or maybe not. If Howden batted right-handed, I would like the lefty lineup quite a bit more, but it’s not to be.

OFF SEASON CHANGES:

The Raccoons shed a bunch of their key personnel during their twin titles late in the expired decade. Abel Mora is no more. Rafael Gomez is no more (and unsigned). Billy Brotman, Kevin Surginer, Kevin Harenberg – all gone. We made two smart trades right at the start of the offseason to add Howden and Vanatti, but then couldn’t get rid of some other personnel that we’ve seen enough of… None of our free agent acquisition cries out future champ. We then ended up signing a pile of over-the-hill has-beens. Nevertheless for a while in the winter the Coons led the offseason WAR gains board over at BNN. That didn’t hold, and we ended up fading to sixth with a +2.5 gain during the winter.

Top 5: Pacifics (+6.4), Knights (+4.9), Titans (+4.8), Loggers (+4.0), Bayhawks (+2.9)
Bottom 5: Rebels (-3.3), Stars (-3.6), Crusaders (-5.2), Scorpions (-6.6), Blue Sox (-11.7)

PREDICTION TIME:

Last year I elaborated in detail why we were the team to beat, and we didn’t lead our division once, and ended up finishing last after a suffocating collapse from ho-hum .500 ball in August.

This year? Doom. Nothing but doom. Doom is all there is to look forward to. The Raccoons lost 88 games last year. They will probably not stop there. Most of the pitching is old or sucks. There are two real assets in the pen, maybe three if Wise pans out. There are very few assets in the lineup. Everybody loves Ramos. He could be on the DL for half the year. Wouldn’t be the first time. Just look at the lineups above. We really, actually, can’t do any better than that.

The Raccoons will suck from day one, and minus some individual performances (maybe Tim Stalker defrosts at some point? Maybe Wallace is not a turd? Perhaps Hennessy amazes us?) will hope for company in the cellar, where they will doubtlessly end up after a 67-95 season.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT:

Such a horrendous team better have a good farm system! … Weeeeell……… okay, we did improve further from 21st to 17th in terms of farm system which is surely an upswing after sitting at the very bottom a few times in the latter half of the 20s. Selling everything with four paws to squeak out another win or two won us two titles, but we still see the results of it. Last year we had all but five ranked prospects (which was already an improvement over the most barren times…), which has gone up to TEN this year. Three of those are in the top 100 compared to two last year.

Two of the five ranked prospects from last year are not on the list anymore. #124 Chris Wise exceeded rookie limits. #150 Izzy Chavez was rolled up in the trade for Jimmy Wallace, who was not ranked, but who we liked nevertheless!

32nd (+20) – AA C Elliott Thompson, 21 – 2028 sixth-round pick by Raccoons
48th (new) – AAA SP Raffaello Sabre, 22 – 2025 international free agent signed by Raccoons
77th (+5) – AA SP Darren Brown, 21 – 2028 first-round pick by Raccoons
113th (+32) – AA SP Ignacio del Rio, 21 – 2026 international free agent signed by Raccoons
148th (new) – A SP Jason Lucas, 21 – 2030 second-round pick by Raccoons
150th (new) – A OF Ed Hooge, 21 – 2030 first-round pick by Raccoons
175th (new) – A C Chris Manning, 18 – 2030 fourth-round pick by Raccoons
177th (new) – AA SP Travis Coffee, 23 – 2028 third-round pick by Raccoons
178th (new) – AAA SP Bernie Chavez, 21 – 2026 fourth-round pick by Gold Sox, acquired via trade for Rin Nomura
185th (new) – INT SS Jose Agosto, 18 – 2030 international free agent signed by Raccoons

Yeah, right NOW it seems lie we drafted well in ’30. That will take care of itself, too.

The top 5 overall prospects this year are:

#1 RIC AA SP Justin Kaiser (was #1)
#2 DEN AA SS/2B Enrique Vargas (was #6)
#3 PIT ML INF Sergio Barcia (was #18)
#4 RIC AA 2B/3B Ben Freeman (newly drafted)
#5 CHA A SP Chris Turner (newly drafted) – might miss entire season after Tommy John surgery

For last year’s remaining top 5 picks, Boston’s Rich Willett slipped from #5 to #6, and the #2 through #4 prospects – BOS Moises Avila, SFW Mario Colon, TIJ Willie Ojeda in order – all exceeded rookie limits in the Bigs.

Next: first pitch. (but probably not today, it’s scathing hot and I want to lie down and close my eyes in a dark corner…)
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Old 06-19-2019, 07:38 PM   #2891
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Too bad you couldn’t have kept that dual role C/MR kid. That would have been an interesting player to follow.

I see you have a pretty solid closer was there any trade interest in him. I mean having a solid closer is great but on a sub 500 team they are expendable for the right price.

2031 sounds like a rough year coming up but I know you will rebound and maybe even surprise a few people. Just don’t follow the Mariners plan on rebuilding, they never get it right
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Old 06-20-2019, 07:36 AM   #2892
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Raccoons (0-0) @ Indians (0-0) – April 7-9, 2031

The Coons had gone down in defeat to the defending division champs in 2030, losing 12 of their 18 games with them, which ended a 7-year Critters run at taking home the season series every single time. The Arrowheads didn’t get far in the playoffs, but they still look like they will have a hand in the division again this year. We were just hoping for a decent start and no outright embarrassment. Did I mention we will play the Condors, Titans, and Elks all in the first three weeks?

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

Starters would be of opposite handedness for every game in the series, so the Raccoons would see two right-handers, then a southpaw in the third game.

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

Portland sprung out to the early lead, with Tim Stalker rapping a single past the diving Mario Pizano in the first inning, leading up to a 2-out crusher by Rich Hereford, who buried a fastball well up in the rightfield stands for a 2-run homer. No shutdown inning materialized for Mark Roberts, who allowed a leadoff triple to Pizano in the bottom 1st – which extended a 15-game hitting streak for Pizano that had begun last June and had been interrupted by the horrors of both the DL and winter – and eventually a sac fly to Juan Herrera to give half the lead away. Before the other half could disappear, too, the Raccoons loaded the bags with nobody out in the top 3rd, an inning that started with Roberts singling past Dan Schneller. Bressner walked Ramos, Stalker singled, too, and Matt Nunley had all the runners he could hope for, and would not have to be asked twice. The 40-year-old wonder buried a ball in the gap in left-center that chased Ivan Vega (who would never be a Gold Glover) all the way to the fence, and the three Critters on the bases all the way around for a bases-clearing double, 5-1. Nunley scored on a Hereford groundout, 6-1. Bressner held out a bit longer, but was gone by the fifth, and while Roberts initially kept a low pitch count, a laborious bottom 5th put him near 70 pitches by the end of it. The first Critter to be removed from the starting nine was not him, though, but Joe Vanatti on grounds of injury. Vanatti hit a double to right in the top 6th, then slid into second base in rather rustic fashion with a big old belly flop and appeared to be in abdominal discomfort afterwards. Sean Catella replaced him as pinch-runner and eventually in centerfield.

Bottom 6th, the Indians loaded the bags with one out. Long man Doug Moffatt led off with a single, Pizano singled, too, and while Mike Plunkett was rung up, Roberts then allowed a soft single to Juan Herrera. We hoped for the K on John Baron, who was very much from the mold of the shipped-off Ben Suhay, all power and little contact, but got even more; grounder to short, and the Coons bailed out on a 6-4-3 double play. Roberts would last into the eighth, where a fastball gently touched Pizano’s uniform to put a guy on with one out. Plunkett hit into a fielder’s choice, at which point we deemed 99 pitches enough and went to Chris Wise. He would get three outs in order before walking Vega with two outs in the bottom 9th. With left-handed batter Greg Regan up, this was a good low-key situation for John Hennessy’s major league debut. The Rule 5 pick got Regan to ground out to Jarod Howden, and that game was over. 6-1 Critters! Ramos 2-4; Stalker 2-4; Hereford 2-4, HR, 3 RBI; Roberts 7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (1-0) and 1-3;

Joe Vanatti would be out for the rest of the week with a mild abdominal strain, so that was that…

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

Another game, another first-inning triple for Pizano, who nevertheless was stranded on third base when Plunkett whiffed, Herrera popped out, and Baron looked at a fastball for strike three. The Coons had left Ramos aboard in the top 1st, but opened the second inning a-swinging; Howden singled, Jimmy Wallace doubled, and Sean Catella hit an RBI single to right. Runners were on the corners for Tovias, 0-for-4 on the season and having last been seen flying out poking at a 3-0 pitch with two on in the eighth inning on Opening Day. This time he got two men across, sort of. His bouncer to right eluded Regan for an RBI single and went up the line. Plunkett cut it off, saw Catella bidding for third and fired … badly. Elias Sosa wouldn’t come up with the ball and Catella scrambled on and scored. Tovias went to second on the error, and it was 3-0 and there was still nobody out in the inning. It became 4-0 without the Coons doing much; Tovias advanced on Shumway’s groundout, then scored on a passed ball charged to Herrera. Ramos would single with one out, stole his first base of the season, but again was left on as the Coons settled for a 4-spot.

Tom Shumway was uncharacteristically erratic for a heralded veteran in this start. Through four, he struck out six and walked three, but allowed only two hits and no runs. He got a little more vicious in the bottom 5th, where Saccoccio struck out by bunting foul on a 1-2 pitch, but Shumway nailed both Sosa and Pizano to create traffic with one out. Plunkett struck out swinging, a wild pitch advanced the runners, but Stalker remained master of his side of the field and converted Herrera’s grounder into an appreciated third out to keep the Indians shut out. Nothing got better, though. The bottom 6th began with back-to-back walks to John Baron and Dan Schneller, and while Vega hit into a double play, Shumway’s performance was irritating to say the least. Wallace caught up with a Greg Regan drive to strand Baron at third base for the moment. However, a pair of singles by Sosa and Pizano knocked Shumway out for good in the seventh. The Critters turned to Jonathan Fleischer, who allowed two deep flies to left, both of which were caught by Hereford, stranding these particular runners. There would be some actual scoring in the eighth inning then; Jimmy Wallace hit a solo shot off Jim Kretzmann to extend the lead to 5-0. Eddie Krumm made his Raccoons debut in the bottom 8th, blew out of a hole, and allowed two hits and three walks. The reason he stuck around for so long was that only a Greg Regan double brought home one run, with Nunley having spun a 5-4-3 double play in between. But Krumm was shanked after walking Sosa and Andres Medina back-to-back, which called up the tying run in Pizano. Ricky Ohl would get the assignment as well as a soft pop to Hereford, and the Arrowheads were turned away. Portland put Ramos and Stalker on via walks against Dan Delgadillo in the ninth, but the middle of the order couldn’t break through to put the game away. This allowed Ohl, batting sixth after a double switch, to pick up a save by collecting three groundouts from three batters in the ninth inning. 5-1 Coons! Ramos 3-4, BB; Wallace 2-4, HR, 2B, RBI; Tovias 2-3, BB, RBI; Shumway 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 9 K, W (1-0); and 1-3; Ohl 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, SV (1);

Shumway had the weirdest start, but so did Saccoccio, who was shackled early, but outlasted Shumway and went seven innings, whiffing a solid eleven.

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

The Coons scored first again, this time with a 2-run third inning. Matt Jamieson drove home Stalker and Hereford in a 2-out rally, doubling up the leftfield line and past Zanches to allow Rich Hereford to score all the way from first base after he had landed the second of back-to-back singles. Jamieson would find the same two runners on base with two outs in the fifth inning, this time in scoring position, but this time the Indians also wouldn’t let him. Jamieson got four wide ones, bringing up Jarod Howden with three on, two out, and 2-for-11 to start his Coons career. He grounded out hard to Pizano on the very first pitch. Bottom 5th, Alex Zanches’ leadoff single was the first hit that Martinez allowed. Zanches stole second, moved up on Sosa’s groundout, then made for home when Pizano flew out to Jamieson, who had none of Zanches’ antics and knocked him out with a marvelous throw to home plate, ending the inning AND putting a crimp into Pizano’s 17-game hitting streak all the same; Pizano had walked the first time up. Had Zanches been safe, he still would not have had an official at-bat (as the play would have been a sac fly), but now he had to stir it in his next appearance, whenever that would come.

But for the moment, the Indians erased the Coons’ lead in the sixth. After Wallace was nailed in the top 6th, then was doubled off when Baldwin lined out to Pizano, Martinez put Schneller on base with a single past Hereford in the bottom of the inning, then hung one to Greg Regan that was never seen again, but probably landed somewhere near the interstate on the other side of town, knotting the score at 2-2. Martinez was hit for in the top 7th for no great effect (Ryan Allan struck out in his spot), and the bottom 7th saw Hennessy and Wise walk the bags full with only one out. Ricky Ohl was thrown in to contend with Schneller, who nevertheless hit a sac fly that put Indy ahead, 3-2. Regan flew out to left, stranding two. Top 8th, Jim Kretzmann put Hereford on with a single, and when the left-handers came up the Indians went to Antonio Quintana, which didn’t help them. Howden hit a gapper for an RBI double, first RBI as a Critter, to tie the score. Wallace walked, but Howden was thrown out at home on Catella’s pinch-hit single and the Coons would not take the lead. Neither would the Indians, who had John Baron hit a double off Fleischer in the bottom 8th, but he was thrown out by Wallace on Mike Cowan’s single to end the inning…!

Top 9th, Nunley batted for Fleischer to lead off against Jose Menendez, a Coon this time last year. He dropped a bloop single, then went to third when Ramos doubled up the leftfield line. A pinch-runner MIGHT have scored, but all that was left on the injury-shortened bench was Elias Tovias, and he was not gonna help in this spot. After Stalker was retired on a comebacker, the Indians bypassed Hereford to bring up Jamieson with the bags full and a force at home. He struck out, Howden grounded out to Schneller, and the Raccoons had pissed away a splendid opportunity to go 3-0 on the season. The game went to extras despite a second shoddy appearance by Eddie Krumm, who walked Medina and Edgar Paiz in the bottom 9th before Schneller hit into a double play. The game went to extras and pretty soon both benches were empty. The Indians’ Matt Francis and the Coons’ Mauricio Garavito both pitched the 10th, 11th, and 12th innings, with Francis critically bunting foul for strike three in the bottom 12th with Andres Medina on first base. Had Medina reached second, he probably would have scored on Schneller’s following single, and the game would have ended. Garavito instead bunted into a double play in the 13th… He did not return to the mound though after 40 pitches in three innings. The Raccoons were also unwilling to send Josh Boles in a tied game on the road, and went to … Rico Gutierrez (!) instead. It would be Rico’s first-ever relief appearance. He pitched a scoreless 13th, while Francis was STILL hard at work for Indy, but allowed a leadoff single to Ramos in the 14th… who was then stranded again. Matt Francis batted again in the bottom 14th, hit a 2-out double over Catella’s head in center, and Gutierrez was unable to recollect himself and served up a walkoff single to Schneller instead. 4-3 Indians. Ramos 3-7, 2B; Hereford 3-6, BB, 2B; Jamieson 2-6, BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Catella (PH) 2-3, 2B; Nunley (PH) 1-1; Garavito 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Well. That didn’t work. At least we have a day off before the weekend set.

After throwing 28 pitches for the loss in this game, Rico Gutierrez would not take his regular turn in the rotation, which would put him on Saturday on two days’ rest. We would give him one additional day and move him to Sunday, with Roberts going on regular rest on Saturday.

Raccoons (2-1) @ Thunder (1-2) – April 11-13, 2031

Oklahoma had bowed to the Condors in a nevertheless tightly-contested series to begin the season, and they had even outscored them, 20-19, in those three games. That put them in the three most-scoring teams on either side of the ledger, while the Critters had allowed the second-fewest runs. But none of this mattered – it was still early. Oklahoma had taken seven of nine from the Critters in ’30.

Projected matchups:
Ed Hague (0-0) vs. Dusty Kulp (0-0)
Mark Roberts (1-0, 1.17 ERA) vs. Peter Gill (0-0)
Rico Gutierrez (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Luis Flores (0-0, 3.00 ERA)

Two southpaws in the final two games of this set; so handedness of opposing starters would match for all games in THIS set.

Ryan Allan was the only position player not to get a starting assignment in the first series. I want everybody to make a start in the first week, so he was penciled into centerfield for this one.*

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – RF Wallace – CF Allan – C Leal – P Hague
OCT: LF J. Lopez – 3B Matsumoto – 1B D. Cruz – RF Sagredo – C Burgess – CF Colston – SS Nichols – 2B A. Rojas – P Kulp

Kulp got dusted right in the first, with Ramos and Stalker opening with a pair of hits. Nunley struck out, but Hereford hit an RBI single. Another run came in on Howden’s groundout, and then Jimmy Wallace belched a 450-footer to right-center that ran the score to 4-0 in a hurry, also his second homer on the season. The Thunder responded in kind; Ed Hague in his first start for the team retired none of the first four batters as it went: Jorge Lopez single, Sueo Matsumoto RBI double, Danny Cruz single, passed ball for a run, Luis Sagredo single, and then FINALLY Mike Burgess grounded out to first. That still left two runners in scoring position with one out. They scored on Eric Colston’s groundout, Jeff Nichols’ RBI single, tying the game at four, and Alfredo Rojas singled to center, getting the pen stirring before Kulp grounded out to Stalker. Four-all after the first inning. Isn’t it lovely…

The 4-4 tie was not broken until the fourth inning when Elias Tovias hit a solo shot to right-center, a feat that was soon matched in kind again by the Thunder in person of Jeff Nichols taking Hague deep in the bottom 4th. Hague faced two more batters, but was yanked when Dusty Kulp hit a double. Hennessy came in and got out of the inning, then left the game in the fifth with back discomfort, which was always such a great attribute for a 23-year-old pitcher. Top 6th, the Raccoons went to the corners with a Wallace double and Allan single, and nobody out against Kulp. Up came Tovias again and Kulp would throw him a 71mph *whatever*. It hung seemingly forever until Tovias turned it into a 400-foot blast that gave the Coons an 8-5 lead. That finally got rid of Dusty Kulp in favor of righty Jimmy Jackson, who allowed a single to Ramos, who stole second base after having been caught by Burgess earlier, and Nunley singled home the tack-on run with two outs. Jackson hung in there as Hereford singled cleanly to left, and even as Howden came up. Jackson threw a breaking pitch at 69mph. That one was also murdered for a 3-run blast, and it was the last anybody saw of Jackson. The Coons had all but blown the door out of its hinges with a 7-spot, leading 12-5. What better time to get Eddie Krumm (1 IP, 5 BB) involved? In a stunner, Krumm very nearly pitched a 4-inning save! He made it through three innings, but ran out of juice in the bottom of the ninth. Back-to-back 1-out hits put Nichols and Rojas on the corners, and the Coons sent Chris Wise to recover Krumm. Pinch-hitting Alex Serrato brought in a run on a sac fly, but that was all that Wise allowed to the Thunder in closing down this game. 12-6 Raccoons! Ramos 3-3, 2 BB; Hereford 3-5, 2B, RBI; Wallace 4-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Tovias 3-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI; Krumm 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K;

Hennessy is not grievously injured; one day of rest should be enough to restore him. Of course we are also still waiting on Joe Vanatti to return to the field, but he was not going to be able to play before the start of the new week.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – C Tovias – 1B Howden – CF Baldwin – P Roberts
OCT: LF J. Lopez – 3B Matsumoto – C Burgess – 1B D. Cruz – SS Serrato – 2B A. Rojas – RF Sagredo – CF Colston – P Gill

Of the first five Critters in the lineup, four hit a single in the opening inning, and the one that didn’t – Hereford – at least had a run-scoring groundout, bringing in Ramos for the first run of the game. Jamieson added an RBI single, 2-0, but the inning ended with Tovias hitting into a double play with two on and one out. Four more singles were piled up in the third inning; Stalker led off with one, but got forced by Hereford, who then turned around and stole second base. Jamieson drove him in, 3-0, and the bags filled up with singles over the second base bag by both Wallace and Tovias, bringing up Howden, tying for the lead in team RBI (5), but batting only .190 at this point. That average didn’t get better, but he did grab the lead in RBI for himself, laying off a wide 3-2 offering from “Graveyard” Gill to push home Jamieson, 4-0. Baldwin’s liner to Rojas and Roberts’ pop to Matsumoto stranded the three remaining runners. The Thunder didn’t lie down all that hard, though; the bottom of the same inning saw Roberts give up an infield single to Matsumoto, swiftly followed by a homer to left hit by Burgess, cutting the lead in half, and in the fourth Rojas homered to right on an 0-2 pitch. Roberts also hung a 1-2 pitch to Luis Sagredo, resulting in a double to center, and it would have been well out if it had been hit just ten degrees to any side. Sagredo was stranded by the bottom of the order, but the nice lead had been whittled down to 4-3. His next time up, Sagredo did hit about 30 degrees to the right and well outta the park. Serrato had been on base, and the Thunder held a 5-4 lead on this sixth-inning homer.

And the Critters couldn’t get the offense restarted. After eight hits in the early innings, they had only one measly single in the middle innings, and nothing in the seventh after falling behind. Roberts threw one pitch in the bottom 7th, which Jorge Lopez singled on, then was yanked for Chris Wise, who served up another 2-run bomb to Burgess, digging the hole to 7-4. The Coons arrived sleepwalking in the ninth, then faced closer Franklin Alvarado. But maybe Ramos could wake them up with his leadoff jack, always a stunner, hit 404 feet to right-center and cutting the gap to 7-5. Nunley hit for Stalker for the platoon advantage and singled, but Hereford and Allan (hitting for Jamieson for said platoon advantage) both made poor outs. Wallace singled to right, putting the tying run on base with two outs. Tovias came up – there was no option to even hit for him if we wanted, since Armando Leal had already pinch-hit in the eighth and was gone. Tovias struck out to end the game. 7-5 Thunder. Ramos 2-5, HR, RBI; Stalker 1-2, 2 BB; Nunley (PH) 1-1; Jamieson 2-4, RBI; Wallace 3-5, RBI;

Wouldn’t it be great to end the week as a winning team, at least for one week (remember, the Condors are coming right up…)? Well, too bad, because it’s Rico for us on Sunday.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – CF Catella – C Leal – 1B Allan – P Gutierrez
OCT: LF J. Lopez – 3B Matsumoto – C Burgess – 1B D. Cruz – SS Serrato – 2B A. Rojas – RF Sagredo – CF Colston – P L. Flores

Danny Cruz delivered a 2-run homer in the first inning, collecting Matsumoto as Rico Gutierrez appeared to think he was tossing batting practice, which honestly was probably in his VERY NEAR FUTURE. Serrato singled, Rojas homered, and it was 4-0 in the blink of an eye. Now, Luis Flores was still a very fine pitcher. Recently imported from the Federal League, old age (he was 38) had made him a corner nibbler and control guy, but he was not the Thunder’s Opening Day starter for nothing. Nevertheless, the Coons scratched him a bit. They scored a run in the third, depressingly enough with Ramos hitting into a double play with three on and nobody out, and another one in the fourth, Catella singling home Jamieson. If their own guy could hold the fort just a *little* bit longer…

Before a final decision for this game could be arrived at, the Thunder lost Sagredo to injury on the bases in the bottom 4th. Jason Stone replaced him; with Travis Benson sitting with a nagging injury, the Thunder were down to three actual outfielders now. Top 5th, Ryan Allan drew a leadoff walk. Rico bunted, Flores tried to get two, fumbled, and got nobody, which was charitably scored as a fielder’s choice with no outs. Ramos’ bad day continued as Lopez retired him on a headlong diving catch hustling in, but Tim Stalker knocked a ball past Serrato for an RBI single, cutting the gap to 4-3, with the tying run being the pitcher at second base. Hereford lined to left, but into Lopez’ mitten, but the leftfielder would not get to Jamieson’s line drive, closer to the leftfield line, which fell for an RBI double to tie the score. Wallace was walked intentionally to fill them up with two outs for Catella, who grounded out to Matsumoto. The annoying Matsumoto hit another infield single in the bottom 5th, Burgess hit a bloop single, and just when the pen was ready to get involved, Danny Cruz hit into a double play, getting Rico out of the fifth. He wouldn’t get out of the sixth, despite throwing out Serrato at third base for the first out in the bottom 6th. Serrato had opened the inning with a double, and Rojas dropped a (bad) bunt to set up that peculiar play. An Eric Colston single with two outs was however enough. Jeff Nichols was already announced as the pinch-hitter, and the Coons went lefty-for-lefty and brought Garavito, which gives a hint or two how we trusted Rico these days. On two pitches, Garavito was out of the inning…… sorta. The first one nicked Nichols to load the bags. The second was taken to left for a single by Lopez. Rojas scored, Colston was sent and thrown out to end the inning, but the Thunder were now up 5-4, although Rich Hereford set that one straight with a first-pitch jack off lefty Danny O’Reilly in the seventh inning. The resulting 5-5 tie held into the ninth, where Hereford led off again, then facing Alvarado. And – BAM!! – ANOTHER HOMER!! Hereford’s second leadoff jack of the game came on an 0-2 fastball and wrapped around the right foul pole! Howden hit for Jamieson and walked, and the inning turned to glue as Alvarado painstakingly removed Wallace and Catella, only to walk Leal and PH Matt Nunley with two outs. The bags were loaded for … (deep breath) … Chris Baldwin… the last bat on the bench, Tovias having been used in the eighth. He flew out to Colston. But all this got the final Raccoon involved, finally – Josh Boles had sat and watched all week long, and now was his time to put the game away! …. And he blew it. John Byrd flew out to center, but Jorge Lopez flew out of left, and the game was tied at six. Disappointment. Deflation. Despair.

Top 10th, Stalker was tickled by a fastball and awarded first base with one out. Hereford flew out to left, with three jacks in a row being a bit much to ask. Howden singled up the middle, moving Stalker to second, and at least a hot bat came up with Jimmy Wallace with Alvarado still laboring. The count ran full and Alvarado came down the middle. Wallace was ready and hit a drive to right that was going to – was it? Was it? Stone leaping at the fence – and he missed it! The ball got past the edge of Stone’s glove by at most an inch, and Wallace had a 3-run homer!! Alvarado was canned after Wallace having had his skull kicked in, and Danny Arguello would wiggle out of the inning. Since it was slim pickings on the bench, Boles came back for the bottom 10th, now in line for the W. Serrato led off with a single, but PH Tony Perez hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Jason Stone went down on strikes, giving the series to the Critters. 9-6 Furb-WAIT A MINUTE! Leal doesn’t have the ball! Stone racing to first, the throw – LATE. The game continued! Boles had been halfway to the dugout when everybody realized Leal’s blunder, and now the game continued with him mentally undressing and having a bowl of ice cream …! He still found strike three to Colston. This time, Leal was so kind to hold on to the ball… 9-6 Furballs! Ramos 2-5, BB; Hereford 2-6, 2 HR, 2 RBI; Jamieson 2-4, 2B, RBI; Howden (PH) 1-1, BB; Catella 2-6, 2B, RBI; Leal 2-3, 3 BB, 2B; Allan 0-1, 3 BB;

In other news

April 8 – The Knights hold the Falcons to one base hit, a fourth-inning 3B Greg Ortiz (.429, 1 HR, 1 RBI) single, but still take 11 innings to squeak out a 1-0 win on a walkoff single by ATL 3B Jake Barlow (.250, 1 HR, 4 RBI).
April 8 – The Titans grab a 3-2 walkoff win in the 13th inning against the Loggers on Opening Day, with MIL MR Alfredo Casique (0-0) entering the game in the bottom 13th with the bases loaded and hitting BOS C David Lessman (.000, 0 HR, 1 RBI), the only batter he faced.
April 13 – CHA 3B Greg Ortiz (.455, 1 HR, 2 RBI) will miss the rest of April with an oblique strain.

Complaints and stuff

To my surprise, we rank first in runs scored in the Continental League. Now, will Ramos bat .536 for the full season? We don’t know that yet! Hereford and Wallace are on pace for 78 homers and 189 RBI, too!

Yeah, probably not. But we monitored Jimmy Wallace’s big-league service time well enough that he did not actually exceed rookie limits and would be ROTY eligible this year – something to keep in mind.

The pitching however gave multiple reasons to be concerned about. Hague and Gutierrez were plain bad, and while Shumway didn’t allow a run, he was sketchy at the very least. Roberts also had a bad second start.

The team will be able to show what they’re made of next week in a homestand featuring the Condors and Titans.

Fun Fact: 13 years ago today, the Loggers’ Michael Foreman no-hit the Crusaders in a 2-0 win.

Foreman, who went 4-9 with a 3.48 ERA for Sacramento last year, but could not get a job anymore at age 40, was then still in his first stint with Milwaukee. He was an All Star that same 2018 season, his only nomination. This stint ended after the 2019 season, with the second coming in 2021, but in between he pitched for three other teams, including the Coons, who signed him to a 2-yr, $3.4M deal prior to ’21, but things fell to pieces that year and we traded him back to Milwaukee with failed prospect Ismael Pastor (never reached the majors) to get a package of pieces, including Greg Borg (blech) and Jarod Spencer, who did come near a batting title at one or two occasions, but was a singles slapper who refused to walk, ever, and HAD to bat over .300 to be even worth the hassle.

Spencer picked up three rings in four years with the ’26 and ’28 Coons and the ’29 Condors, for whom he played but briefly. He retired last year at age 32 after finding no interest in his services, coming out a .297 batter with a 92 OPS+.

Foreman won his only ring with the ’21 Loggers, then spent another three years in Milwaukee before heading to Sacramento, where it never came together, and then it came apart. He went 9-5 with a 2.76 ERA as a Coon, and 14-9 with a 3.11 ERA in ’21, one of his best seasons until then. He would win more games with a better ERA for the ’23 Loggers (17-4, 2.88 ERA) and ’26 Scorpions (15-6, 2.68 ERA) later. For his career, he is 131-135 with a 3.76 ERA in 425 games (386 starts). He has 1,667 career strikeouts.

*Ryan Allan has no rating in centerfield because of his range of 9. He was still a 10 last year, which was “good” enough for a rating of 3 in center. Not ideal for sure, but an option; we used Rafael Gomez in center occasionally in his first years in Portland in a similar situation.
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Raccoons (4-2) vs. Condors (5-1) – April 14-16, 2031

Winning record go bye-bye? The Condors tied us for most runs scored in the Continental League after the initial week’s worth of games, but they had surrendered even more markers than we had, 32 to be precise, second-most in the CL. The damage had been split equally between the rotation and the bullpen, both having a 4.91 ERA on the way in. No, this still does not instill confidence in me, not the least little bit. We have lost the season series for three years in a row, dropping it 5-4 last season.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. George Griffin (0-1, 11.25 ERA)
Dave Martinez (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Jorge Villalobos (0-0, 3.60 ERA)
Ed Hague (0-0, 13.50 ERA) vs. Joe Perry (0-0, 5.40 ERA)

Perry would be the only one of their three southpaws we would be getting. The other two, Jeff Little and Ethan Jordan, were also the only starters to have won a game for Tijuana. During their stay in Portland, the Condors would announce a 7-yr, $24.72M extension to Little.

And STILL … I felt no confidence. On Monday morning I grumbled that this would be another three days’ worth of butt sex. Cristiano Carmona sighed deeply, mumbled something like “oh, I wish…”, then looked up, and quickly rolled out of the room.

Joe Vanatti was still not ready to return to the lineup on Monday…

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

Danny Zarate hit a leadoff single to right, but the Condors ran into a strike-em-out-throw-em-out right away with Omar Camacho batting, and Shumway made it the first time through the lineup facing the minimum amount of batters, but whiffing only one. He also attempted to get the offense going with a 1-out single to right in the bottom 3rd. Ramos walked, Nunley poked an 0-2 pitch to right for a single, and the sacks were full for Matt Jamieson, who struck out, and Rich Hereford, who grounded out to Chris Miller. Shumway’s command was much better than in his first start and he walked nobody through five innings, but also only whiffed three. The game remained scoreless into the sixth, where Juan Camps led off with a single up the middle. Yeong-ha Sung flew out to left, and Nunley handled Griffin’s bunt in sub-par fashion, throwing a bouncer to first that Howden couldn’t handle. The error was on Nunley, though, and after a Zarate single, the loss seemed on Shumway, given that Camps came around to score the game’s maiden run. That one was unearned, but the two Shumway surrendered in the seventh were not; Kevin McGrath (last week’s Player of the Week), Chris Miller, and PH Ken Kramer strung together 1-out singles, and even after Shumway was yanked for Ricky Ohl, the Condors added two more singles for five in a row; Camps and Sung both hit an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-0. The Raccoons would attempt a comeback in the eighth, with Matt Jamieson and Rich Hereford hitting 2-out singles to left-center. When the Condors sent lefty Steve Gowan against Howden, the Critters countered with Tim Stalker as pinch-hitter… but he popped out over the infield. Jimmy Wallace hit a leadoff single against Erik David in the bottom 9th, but never got a paw off first base while Catella, Tovias, and Leal made the last three outs. 3-0 Condors. Hereford 2-4;

Game 2
TIJ: RF C. Murphy – SS O. Camacho – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – 2B C. Miller – C Zarate – LF Camps – CF Sung – P Villalobos
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – LF Hereford – RF Wallace – CF Vanatti – 1B Howden – C Leal – P Martinez

Dave Martinez was, mildly put, all over the place in the middle game. He allowed no hits, but walked three batters the first time through, then the second time through got bombed for a 2-out solo jack by the disgusting skunk weasel, Shane Sanks. While the rest of the team didn’t openly radiate potential to score a run in this game, or this week, or at any point at all down the road, Martinez struck out the 5-6-7 batters in the following inning, and rung up seven Condors in total through five, which was unusual for him, to say the least, and also exploded his pitch count in rapid fashion. He was over 90 through five innings; at least the Critters took him off the hook in the bottom 5th. Leal dropped a leadoff single, was bunted over, reached third on a Ramos single, and scored on Stalker’s sac fly to tie the score at one. A Nunley single and a Sanks error (hah-hah!! Sucker!!... boy, I’ll pay for that…) loaded the bases, and Jimmy Wallace shoved a single past Chris Miller to plate a pair, giving Portland a 3-1 lead! Vanatti grounded out, putting Martinez back on the mound against the meat of the Condors’ lineup. He got through the sixth inning, getting around a 2-out single by Miller, and would be done after 109 pitches.

Chris Wise held up in the seventh, but Ricky Ohl very much didn’t in the eighth. The inning started with a gross throwing error by Nunley, who put Camacho on second base, but even after that Ricky Ohl was horrendous, walked the skunk weasel, and allowed two base hits and a sac fly to not only blow the lead, but to fall 4-3 behind. The Raccoons had nothing to respond to this bullpen meltdown. 4-3 Condors. Ramos 2-5; Wallace 2-4, 2 RBI; Jamieson (PH) 1-1; Martinez 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K;

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

Jimmy Wallace became the first Critter to 10 RBI this season with a 2-out, 2-run single in the bottom of the third inning, but the actual hero of the inning was… well, there were several. Chris Miller was not it; he fumbled a grounder to put Tovias on base to begin the inning while the game was still scoreless. Ed Hague, who had yet to explode, bunted the runner over, Ramos flew out, and Stalker got nailed for a nice welt, but stayed in the game. Rich Hereford singled to left to load the bases – Tovias was not going to score from second on most singles. This brought up Matt Jamieson with the bases loaded and he fired a ball into the gap for a 2-out, 2-run double! Combined with Wallace’s heroics, which actually got him to 11 RBI, the Critters had a 4-0 lead after three innings. …and then all the family pictures fell off the wall again. Hague served up a solo shot to Camacho in the top 4th, which, y’know, HAPPENS, never mind it was a real blast by a light-hitting shortstop, and then allowed Sanks on with a single, Miller with another single, the skunk weasel went to third, Joe Vanatti threw away the ball, and the runner scored, with Miller to second. Zarate hit a soft 2-out single to put runners on the corners, and Juan Palbes hit a liner to left that somehow found Jamieson’s mitten rather than that of an ugly kid in the 19th row out there, leaving Portland up 4-2…

Amazingly, after this inning that tasted about as well as the soles on some old pair of shoes, maybe one that Nunley has worn since he was a rookie, the bleeding stopped; the offense did nothing, either, but Hague handed the game right to Josh Boles after pitching into the eighth, but not out of it. It was okay though for Boles to inherit a 2-run lead with a guy on first (Camacho) and two outs – he hadn’t exactly overworked himself in the first week, throwing a grand total of one inning and blowing a save. He struck out the skunk weasel to end the eighth inning. The Raccoons would put Nunley and Tovias on base in the bottom 8th, but didn’t score. Top 9th, Miller hit a 1-out single, then was forced out on Camps’ grounder. Jorge Zamora pinch-hit for the left-handed Palbes to gain leverage with two outs, walked in a full count, and the switch-hitter Ken Kramer batted for Sung, but got rung up. 4-2 Coons. Jamieson 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Wallace 2-4, 2 RBI; Nunley (PH) 1-1; Hague 7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, W (1-0);

Oh well at least we didn’t get swept. This team has yet to drop under .500!

Oh ****, the Titans are coming…

Raccoons (5-4) vs. Titans (7-2) – April 18-20, 2031

The Titans led the North with the most runs scored in the CL as well as the third-fewest runs allowed. They already had a +22 run differential. Their rotation had a 2.41 ERA that the Raccoons had to dent. This didn’t look good…. Last year, the Titans had won 11 of 18 games from the Critters.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (1-1, 4.61 ERA) vs. Mario Gonzalez (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
Tom Shumway (1-1, 1.42 ERA) vs. Eric Williams (0-0, 2.81 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-1, 7.36 ERA) vs. Adam Potter (1-0, 2.87 ERA)

Two southpaws to start this series, and I must say, all those left-handed starters don’t really gel well with our lineup… barring any changes, we will have seen as many righties as lefties at the end of the week.

We had discussed a full skip of Rico Gutierrez, who had gone right after Roberts the last time around, but decided against it; it was only the second week of the season, there would be more opportunity to humiliate the poor sod.

Game 1
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS Spataro – 1B Uliasz – RF Braun – 2B R. West – C Lessman – CF Reichardt – 3B Perkins – P M. Gonzalez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – 1B Baldwin – P Roberts

Both teams had a player nailed early (David Lessman in the second, Tim Stalker even earlier), and had somebody else on, too, but didn’t proceed very smartly. Case in point, Matt Nunley drew a leadoff walk in the second, trotted to first, handed off his batting armor and gloves, pulled a pastrami sandwich from his back pocket, and was going to dive into the delicious snack when a slice of pickle dropped out of the side. Nunley squeaked, reached for the pickle in the dirt, stepped off the bags, and casually had the glove with the ball slapped on his back by Justin Uliasz for a pickoff. Nunley protested and showed the pickle to the umpire, who was not impressed and sent him to the dugout. Nobody scored through two innings.

…or the third, although the Titans came pretty close; Willie Vega singled to center, Keith Spataro doubled to left, Vega was sent around from first, but thrown out at home by Jamieson. There actually wouldn’t be another base runner for any team until the sixth, when Roberts hit Uliasz with an 0-2 pitch, but that runner also didn’t move off first base. Not that Roberts was *amazing* … he was perfectly okay, but there were a few deep flies that sounded worrisome of the bats for sure… Roberts was also the Critters’ very next baserunner, hitting a leadoff single in the bottom 6th. Characteristically, Ramos walked with the pitcher on first base, so we couldn’t play his speed. Gonzalez, a fourth-year player that had produced three losing seasons with the Blue Sox, allowed a single to Stalker, and now the sacks were full with nobody out, and the heart of the order was coming up! Hereford grounded to Rhett West, who axed down Roberts at home plate. Jamieson popped out. Nunley grounded out to Gonzalez. (bangs fists on the desk) ALRIGHT! Time for the first drink of the season!!

And it got worse. First for the Titans, who lost David Lessman to injury when he jammed his hand into second base on a leadoff double in the seventh, then for the Coons, who bled two runs when Roberts allowed singles to Adrian Reichardt – always the death of us! – and Justin Perkins right after that, and Jonathan Fleischer allowed a 2-out single to Keith Spataro. The Raccoons looked dead initially, but Ramos reached base in the bottom 8th, scurried to steal second base, and was singled in by Tim Stalker to make up half of a 2-0 deficit. The bottom of the ninth saw Jermaine Campbell facing the Coons. Joe Vanatti hit a 1-out single to center off the right-hander. Howden batted for Tovias, flew out, and Allan batted for Baldwin, exchanging a right-handed .091 batter for a left-handed .091 batter with two outs in the ninth. Where was Wallace? Already entrenched in the #9 hole, and to bring him up, Allan had stop sucking. He didn’t, Uliasz corralling his grounder to end the game. 2-1 Titans. Stalker 2-4, RBI; Roberts 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, L (1-2) and 1-2;

(holds onto a bottle for support) Y’know… we had 40 runs scored last week… we are – hcks!! – we are on pace for … *twelve* this week…

Despite a sore hand, Lessman was back behind the plate on Saturday. That’s A MAN!! … Where are my men? Where are they??

Game 2
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS Spataro – 1B Uliasz – RF Braun – 2B R. West – C Lessman – CF Reichardt – 3B Perkins – P E. Williams
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Baldwin – P Shumway

Nobody landed a base hit until Tovias and Ramos went to the corners with a pair of singles in the third inning. Tim Stalker would hit a fly to deep left with two outs, but couldn’t get it past Willie Vega. The Titans didn’t get a base knock until the fifth, but then immediately had three on with nobody out in a scoreless game. Tom Shumway walked Adam Braun to begin the inning, Rhett West singled, and Lessman found another walk off Shumway. Up at the plate in time to open some veins was Adrian Reichardt, the persistent coonskinner, and without a doubt he laced a double to center to bring in two runs. The next three batters made outs; Perkins popped out, and Williams and Vega both grounded out to Howden. The Titans still got a run, because Shumway expertly mixed in a wild pitch to fall behind 3-0…

Jarod Howden got Portland on the board in the bottom 5th, hitting a leadoff jack off Williams, which was good for him, because I kept forgetting that he was there at all… Shumway however logged only one more out, Uliasz popping out after Spataro’s leadoff single in the sixth. Then Braun singled, sending Spataro to third, Rhett West singled to plate a run after fouling off no fewer than five 1-2 pitches, and Lessman hit an RBI double on 1-0. The Raccoons, down 5-1, gave up, and sent Eddie Krumm, who immediately allowed a 2-run double to Reichardt, closing Tom Scumbag’s line at 5.1 innings and 7 earned runs. It was 7-2 after six, with Hereford bringing in Ramos after a single and stolen base for The Excitement, but Eddie Krumm was the gift that kept on giving and was taken deep by Uliasz for a 2-piece in the top 7th, then put on Braun and West, too. Hennessy replaced him, walked Lessman, but Reichardt – his job done – hit into a double play to keep it slightly civil at 9-2. A run did fall out of Hennessy in the eighth, where he put two on, was replaced by Wise, and with two outs a pinch-hit single by Manny Ferrer loaded them up, and Braun loaded with them loaded to push home a tenth Boston run. Portland got two unearned runs in the bottom 8th, Stalker and Jamieson hitting doubles while Ramos and Wallace reached on errors. Jamieson drove in both runs; neither of them mattered. 10-4 Titans. Ramos 2-5;

We still have a positive run differential. Look… plus six!

Who is pitching on Sunday?

Game 3
BOS: LF W. Vega – SS Spataro – 1B Uliasz – RF Braun – 2B R. West – C Lessman – CF Reichardt – 3B Perkins – P Potter
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – LF Hereford – RF Wallace – CF Vanatti – 1B Howden – C Tovias – P Gutierrez

Rico Gutierrez sucked anyway, but it sure didn’t help that Howden dropped a stupid simple pop by Spataro right in the first inning. Nothing bad happened in that inning, but COME ON, HOWDEN …!! TWO ****ING PAWS!! – Instead, Gutierrez got shredded in the second inning in the most stupid way possible. Adrian Reichardt hit a 1-out single, because, well… coonskinner. Perkins grounded out, but Adam Potter singled with two down, which was such a big no-no… and then Willie Vega buried a ball in the gap for a 2-run double. Rico nibbled on Spataro for a 2-2 count, then hung a forkball and Spataro brutalized it for a 2-run homer to dead center, 4-0.

Rico Gutierrez snuck through the next two innings somehow, then got at least some token support when Nunley reached base in the bottom 4th and Jimmy Wallace walloped a baseball over the fence in right for his team-leading fourth dinger of the season, cutting the gap to 4-2. Gutierrez then came to the plate with the tying runs aboard in the same inning; both Vanatti and Tovias had reached on errors by outfielders, and was not hit for even with two outs, because contrary to public belief our bullpen was not infinite. And while the Titans had that knack to make you instantly regret any and all life decision, small and big, and up to and including having been born in the first place, they did not turn Gutierrez inside out right in the following inning, but went down with only Braun reaching on a single. The Coons crept closer in the fifth, which Ramos led off with a double up the leftfield line, then was scored with two productive outs, Nunley getting the RBI on a sac fly to center.

Rico reached the seventh, allowed a leadoff single to Potter (…!), then at least got a pop out from Vega. That was his last batter, with only righties approaching now. He threw 101 pitches, most of them unimpressive. Chris Wise came on and conceded the run on Spataro and Braun singles, because why should we get good relief for once? It remained 5-3 into the bottom 9th, where the Coons would face Campbell again and cart up Wallace, the pitcher’s spot after Vanatti had been consumed by a double switch to get Wise to pitch in multiple innings, which didn’t happen, and then at least Howden. The lefties struck out against the righty pitcher, while Jamieson in between batted for Fleischer and lined out to Spataro on a 3-1 pitch. 5-3 Titans. Ramos 2-3, 2B;

In other news

April 15 – RIC OF/1B/2B Telma Mntua (.292, 0 HR, 3 RBI) is out for the season with a torn posterior cruciate ligament. The 21-year-old rookie from Brazil had been a pre-season favorite for Rookie of the Year honors in the Federal League.
April 18 – Knights SP Mario Rosas (3-0, 0.75 ERA) no-hits the Bayhawks in a 4-0 win for Atlanta. The 29-year-old southpaw allows three walks, but no base knocks in his triumph. This is the 60th no-hitter in ABL history and only the second for the Knights (Glenn Ryan, 1990)
April 20 – DEN CF/LF Abel Madsen (.408, 5 HR, 12 RBI) is going to miss a week with a mild hamstring strain.

Complaints and stuff

Alberto Ramos leads the majors in hitting and is second in steals (LAP Oscar Mendoza has nine), Jimmy Wallace is second in the CL with 13 RBI and ties for third in homers… and… and… boy, that’s it.

This was a very grim week, as can be guessed from our plunge into fifth place.

I feel like we will not wait until May to make some pitching changes. Probably bring back Nick Derks, and I don’t know what can be done about Rico Gutierrez besides calling Big Tony and arranging for an accident.

Next week: Elks, Falcons at home. After that, five of the next six series will be on the road.

Fun Fact: The last pitcher to no-hit the Bayhawks prior to Rosas on Friday was the Crusaders’ Jaylen “Midnight” Martin in April of 2017.

“Midnight” was CL Pitcher of the Year in 2014, which was his first full season in New York after a trade with the Condors. The Coons sure TRIED to get him, but couldn’t work out a trade at that time. His career overlapped considerably with both Brownie and Jonny Toner, and just like Brownie was a victim of pitching in the same league as f.e. Martin Garcia forever and never won, say, an ERA title (but did collect a Pitcher of the Year award), Martin was probably victimized by Jonny Toner, who burst onto the season right around ’14. That was Jonny’s first full season, and he immediately won an ERA title. Jonny would gobble up four POTY awards in the next six years, and by the time his star dimmed, Martin’s had already extinguished. He pitched to a mid-2 ERA most of the time up to his age 35 season in ’19, then posted a 4.79 mark in 2020 and was rendered unusable the following season, one of the fastest collapses the game had seen.

All in all, “Midnight” Martin won three rings, was an All Star six times, posted a 187-129 record with a 3.17 ERA and rung up 2,319 batters. He even made it to the Hall of Fame, mostly on the same “strong peak” argument that I expect will also win out for Toner, who had an even shorter *efficient* career. Martin was good for 11 seasons. Toner was good+ for nine, then was eaten up by injuries and hung on in odd roles for another half-decade after that.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:30 AM   #2894
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Raccoons (5-7) vs. Canadiens (6-6) – April 22-24, 2031

After a common off day on Monday, the Raccoons faced their worst foes forever in the first set of the season. The damn Elks were one game and one spot ahead of them in the standings, but had been batting only .219 for a paltry 3.33 runs per game in the early season. They had pitched okay though, conceding under four runs a game, too. The Coons had lost the last two season series against the vile pests of the north, both times 8-10, so this was for honor!

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Logan Bessey (1-1, 3.86 ERA)
Ed Hague (1-0, 5.73 ERA) vs. Victor Govea (0-0, 1.35 ERA)
Mark Roberts (1-2, 3.98 ERA) vs. Jeremy Truett (1-1, 1.69 ERA)

And still no shortage of left-handed opposition; Logan Bessey was the next southpaw to face, which for a brief night would see the Raccoons actually having been opposed by more left-handed than right-handed starting pitchers, 7-6.

7-6, if only that was our record…

Game 1
VAN: LF A. Torres – C F. Garcia – CF Wojnarowski – 1B D. Fisher – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – RF N. Day – 2B L. Hernandez – P Bessey
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – 1B Baldwin – P Martinez

Mysteriously, Brian Wojnarowski failed to score from first on a David Fisher double in the first inning. Wojnarowski was anything but slow, yet Fisher was; on the fly to deepest center, anything but the slowest runners would have reached third base. Somehow, the Elks managed neither, T.J. Bennett struck out to end the top 1st, and instead Matt Jamieson’s leadoff jack in the bottom 2nd was the first run of the game. The Coons managed to tack on a run in the inning as well as making the final out at home plate; after Bessey walked both Joe Vanatti and Chris Baldwin (which was hard to do), Dave Martinez laced a bouncer through Fisher and up the line for an RBI double. Baldwin was sent, too, but after Norman Day’s throw arrived we knew better and that he shouldn’t have been… Both teams got their #1 batter to hit a leadoff triple in the third, but only one of them scored; while Martinez reached back, struck out Fernando Garcia and Wojnarowski, and had Vanatti handle the rest, Tim Stalker singled home Ramos, and would himself score with two outs on Jimmy Wallace’s base knock, the rook’s 14th RBI in 13 games. A Ramos error led to an unearned run in the fourth, but the Coons were still in a comfy spot, and while Martinez scattered a few more singles, the damn Elks were never in position to really threaten him, which was also due to some dumb decisions like in the seventh, having Alex Torres with two outs and Lazaro Hernandez at second base poke away in a 3-0 count. Torres popped out, and Martinez was through seven, which would be all for him after 112 pitches. The Critters, largely silent in the middle innings, added a run in the bottom 7th on Matt Jamieson’s second solo homer of the game, this one exiting in a real hurry and line drive fashion out to left. The Coons then desired to mix and match in the eighth, sending Eddie Krumm to face Garcia, who singled on the only pitch Krumm threw before being yanked. Hennessy retired the next two left-handed batters as well as T.J. Bennett, who grounded out to Hereford before we could require a third reliever for the inning. Fleischer got the ninth, but set up a save situation by nailing Day and allowing a single to PH Danny Tessmann. Josh Boles came in with two outs, removed Alex Torres’ will to live with surgical precision, and the game ended on three pitches for three strikes. 5-1 Raccoons! Stalker 2-4, RBI; Jamieson 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI; Wallace 2-4, RBI; Martinez 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (1-0) and 2-3, 2B, RBI;

Well, that almost was fun! Too bad that Nick Valdes only flew in on Wednesday afternoon, which was then spent debating countless roster decisions, f.e. why Chris Baldwin was getting at-bats at all when all he made was outs, and why we were having so many dull players in the first place, and also, who replaced the flowers in this pot over there when Valdes himself had personally put a colorful arrangement there during his last visit?? – Maud, do we still have Valdes’ flowers? – The ones that died five months ago.

Apparently, we do have not.

Game 2
VAN: LF A. Torres – RF Maiello – CF Wojnarowski – 1B D. Fisher – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – C F. Garcia – 2B L. Hernandez – P Govea
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – 1B Howden – C Leal – P Hague

Neither side got a base knock in the first two innings, but when the Elks broke through, they did with loud, long drives. Lazaro Hernandez doubled in the third, then scored on another Torres triple. And Torres, 33, and not what he used to be, was sure scuffling in the early going – he was through two injury-riddled, below-average OPS+ seasons after having hit .281 with 23 dingers in 2028 and basically every year before that. But all the prowess seemed gone now. Well, it was still enough to hit triples every which way off Raccoons starters. The Coons through three innings amounted to a Nunley walk and four strikeouts, which prompted Valdes to inquire when they would start scoring runs for him, and when they would win another title for him. I shrugged and sighed, which was an honest answer.

Wojnarowski drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, but then got picked off by Ed Hague after Fisher had gone down, which surely amused the crowd. They heckled Wojnarowski mercilessly as he retreated to the dugout. Yeah, make the guy mad whose team is technically still pitching a no-hitter! Matt Nunley did away with that, though, in the fifth inning; and also the damn Elks’ lead. He hit a long homer to right to tie the game at one. Valdes whispered into my ear how old Nunley was, to which I truthfully responded that he was older than dirt, but better than most. In the sixth, Nunley pounced on a Nando Maiello bunt to force Torres at second base, which ended up saving a run once Fisher hit a 2-out single that probably would have scored Torres from second. Instead, Maiello went first-to-third, and was then stranded when Bennett was rung up flailing to end the inning.

The Raccoons chugged ahead in the bottom of the sixth; Stalker led off with a double to left-center, the damn Elks walked Jimmy Wallace intentionally (by the way it’s still April), but the bags filled up when Nunley singled. That brought up .217 batter Joe Vanatti, who had yet to land an RBI as a Furball. He grounded to the right side, Fisher picked it, but couldn’t get the out at home, having to take the ball to first base instead, so the go-ahead run came across. Now Howden was walked intentionally, bringing up Armando Leal with three on and two outs. The count ran to 1-2 before Leal hit a fly to deep right, but Maiello angled back and made the catch at the edge of the warning track.

Top 7th, Hague ran into Garcia and Tessmann singles with one out. When Norman Day was sent to pinch-hit for Govea, the Coons pulled the plug on Hague, too, and sent Garavito. Mauricio slipped to 3-1 before Day poked a bouncer to Ramos, to Stalker, to Howden – double play! Ohl struck out two, walked Wojnarowski, but got Fisher on a pop in the eighth, further preserving the 2-1 edge. Since the offense continued to do nothing worth praise, Josh Boles had no cushion in what would this time be a full ninth inning assignment. Bennett hit a leadoff single, advanced on a grounder and then also on a wild pitch with Garcia at the plate and the count at 0-2. Garcia completed the strikeout, with Matt Dehne pinch-hitting in the #8 hole to offer another righty power bat. Boles of course remained in there, got a pep talk from the pitching coach, then walked Dehne on four pitches. Nelson Millan hit for the pitcher, another .200 righty bat. Boles hung an 0-1 pitch and Millan belched it over the fence in left, blowing the lead and then some. The Elks even added a run when Torres walked, stole second, and scored on a Maiello single. Valdes asked whether we won. I told him, politely, no. Bottom 9th, Raul de la Rosa put them on the corners right away, allowing a Howden double and Leal single, after which Rich Hereford batted for Boles. Another closer scuffled, hanging a 2-1 pitch that Hereford drilled into the leftfield corner for an RBI double. Tying runs in scoring position, no outs, top of the order up! Alberto Ramos broke de la Rosa for good, ramming a ball into the OTHER corner for a game-tying triple! Coons, Coons, Coons! No, Nick, we still haven’t won. We have to – no, just watch. The Elks’ J.D. Hamm replaced de la Rosa, but only served up a walkoff single to Tim Stalker! 6-5 Critters! Stalker 2-5, 2B, RBI; Nunley 2-2, 2 BB, HR, RBI; Howden 2-3, BB, 2B; Allan (PH) 1-1; Hereford (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Hague 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K;

Yes, Nick, NOW we have won.

Surprise, another southpaw on Thursday, with Steve Corcoran (1-2, 5.40 ERA) getting the assignment. The 21-year-old rookie had been signed off a softball lot in Quitman, Georgia, where he had played with his colleagues from the local quarry.

… and another surprise – the game was rained out.

It took a while to get Nick Valdes on a plane for his next business endeavor. He wanted to see the last game of the Elks series. IT’S RAINED OUT, GODDAMNIT!!

Raccoons (7-7) vs. Falcons (7-9) – April 25-27, 2031

The Falcons were seventh in both runs scored and runs allowed, which would indicate an upwards trajectory for them. They had *nine* straight seasons in the second division of the South. They had the best pen by ERA in the first few weeks, with an average rotation. They just weren’t hitting for average or getting on base, with their team average a paltry .228. The Raccoons had won the season series last year, 5-4.

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (1-2, 3.98 ERA) vs. Aaron Lewis (1-1, 1.61 ERA)
Tom Shumway (1-2, 4.50 ERA) vs. Nate Ziemke (1-2, 5.00 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-2, 7.24 ERA) vs. Brian Bowsman (2-1, 4.43 ERA)

No southpaw on the horizon here; the Falcons had no lefty starters on hand. They also were without 3B Greg Ortiz, who had started the season like a fire engine, .455 in four games, before going to the DL with an oblique strain.

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

It looked like rain from the outset, and indeed the rain didn’t let everybody wait all too long. It started in the top of the second, and by the bottom of the inning the rain picked up and we went into a 20-minute delay. We were still scoreless at that point, but the Falcons would get on the board in the top 3rd, where Roberts surrendered a double to Frank Eisenberg, then a 2-out RBI single to leadoff man John Elliott. Portland made up the difference though in the bottom of the inning, with Ramos, Hereford, and Jamieson all chipping in singles. Nunley struck out to strand a pair.

Come the fourth, we had a second rain delay, this one taking almost an hour. The Raccoons took Roberts’ pulse afterwards, and he proclaimed to still have something left. The game resumed with a 1-1 score and a 1-1 count to Graciano Salto with nobody out in the fourth. Yet, he obviously had nothing left. The Falcons’ Salto, Barend Kok, and Matt Cooper all hit singles, taking a 2-1 lead, Roberts hung around while the pen got stirring, but served up a 3-run blast to Eisenberg. Roberts would not be seen again in the fifth. The tying run came to the plate in the bottom 4th on a Vanatti double, Howden single, and then an RBI single by Ryan Allan in Roberts’ spot. That brought up Ramos with one out, and two pitches in he had a pair in scoring position as the clearly foundering Lewis threw a wild pitch. Ramos hit a liner to deep right that Barend Kok caught, but Howden came in with a run. Allan scored on a Jimmy Wallace single, cleanly up the middle with two outs, and Hereford dropped a soft bloop into shallow right for another single. With the tying run at second base now, Jamieson unfortunately struck out and they let Lewis get off the hook for this inning – but in the fifth Vanatti reached, stole second, and came home on a Tovias single to tie the score at five, which was also not permanent with Chris Wise giving up two walks, but also an RBI single to Matt Cooper in the sixth inning that put the Falcons up 6-5 again. Fleischer replaced him and struck out PH Ron Raynor to end the inning, and Portland came back and erased their third deficit of the game in the bottom of the inning, when Matt Nunley cracked a 2-out RBI single, scoring Hereford from second against right-hander Chris D’Angelo.

Two double switches in this convoluted game had left Leal in the #4 hole, Allan batting ninth, and Fleischer, who finished the seventh inning, in the #8 spot. He came up when Howden poked a leadoff single against D’Angelo in the bottom 7th and was retained for a bunt, setting a run in scoring position up for a pair of lefty contact bats. Allan promptly singled to left, but Howden was not fast enough to score, especially after getting a bad first read. Ramos rammed a grounder to left, Eisenberg dove but missed it, and Howden now did come home to give the Raccoons their first lead in the game, 7-6! The Coons called a double steal which went awry and had Cooper throw out Allan at third base. Ramos remained on second for Wallace with two outs and scored easily when Jimmy Wallace singled to right-center, 8-6. Finally, a new pitcher – Doug Clifford whiffed Hereford to end the inning.

But after Boles had been torn up on Wednesday, Friday was Ricky Ohl’s time to implode. He inherited Kok on first after Hennessy had failed to retire his only batter, then walked Cooper and allowed a 2-run triple to Ricky Cano to tie the score again. Eisenberg singled up the middle, and it was 9-8 Falcons. Garavito got out of the inning, but the Coons didn’t score in the bottom 8th. Nunley singled, Vanatti spanked into a double play. Eddie Krumm managed a scoreless ninth, which at least offered the Coons a comeback opportunity in their half of the ninth inning, but the bottom of the order would be up against Tony Rivas and his 1.17 ERA. The righty Rivas went 0-2 on Howden before surrendering a double to left. Tim Stalker had already been inserted in the #8 hole in our third double switch earlier, but struck out just like Allan behind him. Ramos was our last hope, fell to 0-2, then hit a fly to left, near the line. Salto raced over at full speed, made the catch, and managed to bounce off the sidewall without getting killed, too. 9-8 Falcons. Ramos 2-5, 2 RBI; Wallace 2-5, 2 RBI; Hereford 3-5; Nunley 3-4, BB, RBI; Howden 2-3, BB, 2B; Allan (PH) 3-4, RBI;

This was ugly. I blame the two rain delays and hope for better weather for Tom Scumbag.

Game 2
CHA: 2B D. Ruiz – 3B Jo. Gonzalez – LF Salto – RF Kok – CF N. Nelson – C M. Cooper – 1B J. Elliott – SS Eisenberg – P Ziemke
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 3B Nunley – CF Vanatti – 1B Howden – C Tovias – P Shumway

Scumbag got emergency counseling just 11 pitches into the game. Danny Ruiz had doubled, Jose Gonzalez had been nailed, and Graciano Salto walked to load the bags with nobody out. The Coons bailed out – Kok struck out in a full count, chasing high heat, and then Nelson lined out to Ramos, who doubled Gonzalez off second to end the inning. While the Falcons didn’t score either here or in the next few innings, the Raccoons didn’t even get on base. One day after a scorefest and 18 base hits for Portland, they were retired in order the first time through, Nate Ziemke ringing up three, and also didn’t reach in the fourth, where Ramos and Stalker both struck out for a second time. Charlotte would take a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning on John Elliott’s solo jack to left, only the second base knock off Shumway. Ziemke in turn ceased perfectness in the bottom 5th, walking Hereford, who was then swiftly doubled up by Nunley, who was batting .368 even after this unhelpful maneuver, but remember that he was one of the all-time kings of the two-for-one on either side of the play. In turn, Salto hit a jack in the sixth, putting the Falcons 2-0 ahead. Tovias broke up the no-hitter with a 1-out single in the bottom 6th, but then Shumway bunted into a double play. Oh boy!

Top 7th, Shumway loaded the bases again without retiring anybody. Walk to Nelson, Cooper single, walk drawn by Elliott. Here came the hook. Enter Fleischer, and the Coons got their damage control protocol fired properly. One run scored on a double play grounder by Frank Eisenberg, while Ziemke, now up 3-0, struck out, leaving Cooper stranded at third base. Bottom 7th, the Coons had their third runner when Ramos drew a leadoff walk. When Stalker grounded hard to Jose Gonzalez, they also had their third double play. Nothing great happened in the next few innings, while at least the shallow end of our pen held up; the bottom 9th began with Rivas facing Sean Catella pinch-hitting for Hennessy in the #9 hole. Catella hit a gapper for a leadoff double, then was on the corners with Ramos, who hit a single. The tying run thus came up with Tim Stalker, who grounded up the middle, but Ruiz intercepted the ball behind second base AND got Stalker at first. Catella scored, but we didn’t actually get closer to a comeback. Wallace grounded out, moving Ramos to third, and Hereford singled up the middle to bring him across. This, finally, brought up the winning run in Matt Nunley, 0-for-3 in the game, but still countering the righty Rivas, who lost him on balls. And then we went quirky. Rather than Vanatti, batting .182 but countering Rivas, we sent Jamieson, batting .311, but from the right side. Jamieson hit a hard 2-1 grounder to left, but Gonzalez got in front of it, and the game ended with a short throw to second base, beating Nunley by a country mile. 3-2 Falcons. Catella (PH) 1-1, 2B;

(shakes empty, upside-down bottle)

Looks like I have to get another one.

Also, another second baseman. Tim Stalker came down with the Sneezes overnight and was probably able to pinch-hit, but we wouldn’t want him in the field, dripping nasal secretions all over the infield.

Game 3
CHA: 2B D. Ruiz – 3B Jo. Gonzalez – LF Salto – RF Kok – CF N. Nelson – C M. Cooper – 1B J. Elliott – SS Eisenberg – P Bowsman
POR: SS Ramos – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – LF Jamieson – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – CF Catella – C Leal – P Gutierrez

Neither team scored in the first two innings, but there were early warning signs that Rico Gutierrez was not actually going to return to acedom in this game. He faced seven batters in the first two innings, whiffed nobody, and threw only 17 pitches, so wasn’t exactly unhittable. The Falcons’ top of the order promptly strung three hits together, plating a run with two outs in the third inning, and then Catella raced after a Kok drive to strand a pair before the inning could really blossom. The Coons came back in the bottom of the inning, also with two outs; Ramos singled, Wallace doubled, but Ramos stumbled around second base and had no chance to score after that. Hereford thus had a pair in scoring position and got a lazy 2-2 changeup that hung and got completely clattered for a 3-run homer to right!

That was all the scoring through five, and also most of the hitting. The Critters had Ramos on base with a single in the bottom 5th, he stole his first bag of the week, but was left on by Wallace and Hereford. Rico Gutierrez was nowhere near convincing the attendance of his capabilities. Through five, he had scattered as many hits and still had no strikeouts in the game, and only four in 18.2 innings this year. He issued a leadoff walk to Salto in the sixth, then allowed a single to Kok, enough to get the pen up. Nelson grounded out, but Cooper hit a ball to center for a sac fly, cutting the lead to 3-2, and Gutierrez blew the rest of the advantage, too, allowing a hard RBI single to right to John Elliott. Eisenberg flew out easily to center, but we were level again in the middle of the sixth inning. Gutierrez faced one batter in the seventh, Bowsman, had him 0-2, and then surrendered a leadoff double. He was immediately and vigorously axed… Chris Wise stranded the run with a grounder to short and two strikeouts, securing a no-decision for the ashes of the 2028 ERA champ. Garavito did the eighth, then faced PH Erik Amundson to begin the ninth and surrendered an infield single. The Raccoons went to Ohl, who got a double play grounder from Ricky Cano to clean up. He kept the game tied for the team to get a walkoff chance with the winning run at the plate to begin the inning against right-hander Mark Matthews, who had a 1.08 ERA. Howden grounded out to short, Catella grounded out to first, and Vanatti batted for Leal, yet flew out to center. Extras!

Josh Boles, who hadn’t pitched since being assaulted by the damn Elks on Wednesday and had an ERA worse than Gutierrez, did away with the meat of the order in the top 10th. He had been placed in the #8 hole, allowing him to go two innings in any case, with Tovias leading off the bottom of the inning in the #9 hole, but Matthews had another 1-2-3 inning. Boles offered up another clean 11th, and then Hereford reached base with a leadoff single off Matthews, who was still around in the bottom 11th. Jamieson rolled to short in a hit-and-run that left Hereford safe at second base and brought up Nunley, who had yet to land a base hit since I mentioned his .368 average, of which he had since shaved off 42 points. How about a walkoff, Matt? There is pie waiting in the clubhouse…! Kok caught Nunley’s fly in right, though, bringing up Howden with two outs. Jarod hit a hard single in front of Salto, and Hereford had to hold at third base. Tim Stalker and his encrusted nose would bat for Catella in this spot. He lined out to short. …at which point we were also more or less out of pitching. Only Fleischer, Krumm, and Hennessy remained. They had all pitched in every game in the series. We sighed and accepted our fate. Fleischer came in, and to anybody’s surprise retired the opposition 1-2-3, then got another out from Salto in the 13th before we went to Hennessy. Baldwin, now in center after Catella had been removed, and Jamieson made deep catches on the two flies the left-handed Rule 5 pick gave up. Still 3-3! Hennessy, however, was also in the #7 spot, and could in theory come up with three on and two outs in the bottom 13th. The bench was empty; any pitcher coming to the plate had to poke. Wallace hit a leadoff single off Doug Clifford, a lefty. Hereford flew out to deep right, Jamieson grounded out to advance the runner. That brought back Nunley with two outs. Matt! Hey, Matt! CAKE!! *CLANK* made the bat, single to center, Wallace flew around third, Nelson’s throw was late, and without further hesitation Nunley turned right immediately upon reaching first base and was also the first player to fall face first into some apple pie. 4-3 Critters! Ramos 2-6; Hereford 2-6, HR, 3 RBI; Jamieson 2-5, BB; Howden 2-5; Boles 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K;

In other news

April 22 – WAS INF Enrique Trevino (.328, 0 HR, 7 RBI) lands four hits and drives in as many in a 13-6 Capitals win over the Rebels.

Complaints and stuff

The good news about the rampant bullpen abuse on the weekend is that we have another day off on Monday before we’ll head out to Atlanta. Tim Stalker should also be back to normal by Tuesday.

Ramos got only one base stolen this week, but then he also hit a few triples, so that was that. He also has an 8-game hitting streak and there has only been one game all year where he didn’t reach base safely, our 4-2 win over the Condors last week. His current 1.004 OPS is his worst of the season after having a ****ty 2-6 day on Sunday. (rolls eyes) I love this boy. – Oh, there he is! Berto! Hey, Berto! – Come on over here and give Daddy a hug! – No, he scurried to safety.

The rained out Elks game will be made up in July in the first week after the All Star Game. This will be the 22nd and following an off day.

Pitching prospect watch: Sabre has a 4.15 ERA with a 1.4 K/BB in St. Pete, which is not really a major-league ready mark. Bernie Chavez has a 5.40 ERA in AAA. One level further down, Ignacio del Rio had a 2.53 ERA with 29 K in 32 innings and was nearing promotion. Darren Brown, however, had been shellacked to a 7.48 ERA, but also with a .369 BABIP. He had pitched to a 3.98 ERA in 12 starts in Ham Lake last year while getting a more reasonable defense…

And I would get more into our deficits, but I have another appointment. With Slappy. We’ll get mindlessly drunk and then sing some shanties. Sounds like fun!

Fun Fact: LAP Oscar Mendoza leads the ABL with 14 stolen bases. He won the FL stolen base title in 2030 with 58 sacks.

Mendoza was originally a Loggers prospect but was traded to L.A. at the deadline in 2027 for Firmino Cambra. Cambra had won the batting title the previous season while also smashing ten homers, and had been a persistent thorn in the Coons’ side in that year’s World Series. Once he arrived in Milwaukee, he was nowhere near as good and put up a string of decidedly average seasons. He is off to a .347 start with two homers this season, but has not stolen a base; he used to steal 20 a season comfortably.

Again, the lovably losing Loggers did it all entirely wrong.
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Old 06-24-2019, 03:12 PM   #2895
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Raccoons (8-9) @ Knights (10-9) – April 29-May 1, 2031

The Raccoons so far were a winning team on the road (4-2), but the beleaguered pitching would be under fire again against the Knights, who had the third-most productive offense in the Continental League. Their pitching was almost equally “tried”, but at least their rotation had a sub-4 ERA. Ours? Not so much… in fact the Critters came in with the third-worst rotation and the best bullpen, even though that bullpen had not exactly been averse to getting hosed. We had taken the season series last year, 5-4.

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (1-0, 1.42 ERA) vs. Andy Purdy (0-2, 5.63 ERA)
Ed Hague (1-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. Mario Rosas (4-0, 0.84 ERA)
Mark Roberts (1-2, 5.18 ERA) vs. Justin Osterloh (2-0, 3.60 ERA)

Lefty on Wednesday, which would be the middle game again after a common off day on Monday.

While Tim Stalker was back in the lineup, one old foe was missing from the Knights’, as Jeremy Houghtaling had gone to the DL with a broken thumb right in the first week after batting .364 in the first six games.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P Martinez
ATL: CF Denzler – 2B J. Johnson – C S. Garcia – 1B Harenberg – RF Pincus – LF Seago – 3B Barlow – SS Hawkins – P Purdy

The Knights chucked four hits off Martinez, all singles, in the first inning, but only got one run. Finding runners on the corners, Steve Garcia hit into a run-scoring double play, after which Kevin Harenberg, batting .355 with one homer, and Roy Pincus went back to the corners, but Nate Seago struck out. Jake Barlow’s leadoff walk was erased on another double play, hit into by former Bayhawks Tom Hawkins, in the bottom 2nd, but the Critters would not get a hit, a 2-out double by Ramos, until the third inning, and then Stalker left him on. On to the fourth, where Jimmy Wallace opened with a clean single to right against the so far steady Purdy. John Johnson fumbled Hereford’s grounder to add a second runner, but the Raccoons found a way out of the scoring opportunity; Matt Nunley was wrestled down on strikes, and Jarod Howden lined out to his predecessor Harenberg, who doubled off an astray Rich Hereford to end the inning before extending the lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff jack to right. Martinez nailed Pincus with the very next pitch, shoulder high, and immediately pandemonium ensued in form of a bench-clearing brawl. Both Martinez and Pincus, who enraged had tried to cave in Martinez’ skull with his bat, were ejected.

When the dust settled, John Hennessy and Chris Mendoza filled the roles just vacated by the battle brothers, and Hennessy made it out of the inning despite a near-homer allowed to Seago, a wild pitch, and a 4-pitch walk to Barlow. Hawkins hit into another double play. After this, the Coons went to Eddie Krumm, who got through the fifth, but put the first two runners on in the sixth and looked well off. The Druid went out to inquire and after a brief conversation took Krumm with him back to the dugout. Great, first an ejection, now an injury; way to come out of an off day! Garavito got the ball against a bunch of left-handed bats, of which he walked the first, Mendoza, then nailed Barlow with one out. Hawkins hit an RBI single, 4-0, before Purdy whiffed and Denzler flew out. That seemed well enough for Atlanta; the Raccoons remained on three hits through eight innings against Purdy, who got Stalker on a grounder to begin the ninth before Wallace got nailed (no reaction this time), and Hereford drew a walk. Now in a save situation, the Knights went to left-hander Mike Greene, which prompted an immediate reaction with Matt Jamieson batting for Nunley. He struck out, and Armando Leal hit for Chris Wise in the next spot, but flew out to center. 4-0 Knights. Wallace 1-2, BB; Wise 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Dave Martinez told me that Odilon told him to strike Roy Pincus in his ugly head and that Odilon’s decisions were always just and good. Well, we tried that defense with the league office, but they still suspended both him and Pincus for ten games…

Krumm in the meantime went straight to the 60-day DL with a herniated disc in his neck. Nick Derks was added to the 25- and 40-man rosters to take his spot.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – 3B Hereford – RF Wallace – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Baldwin – P Hague
ATL: CF Denzler – 2B J. Johnson – C S. Garcia – 1B Harenberg – RF Ryder – LF Seago – 3B Barlow – SS Hawkins – P Rosas

Atlanta went ahead in the first on Joel Denzler’s leadoff single, a stolen base, a productive grounder by Johnson, and then a wild pitch to bring the run across, but the Furballs this time actually had a response. Baldwin hit a single to begin the third and to liven up that .050 batting average, was bunted to second, and then the Coons hit a pair of RBI singles; Ramos put one into left-center and scurried to second on the throw home, then came around himself on Stalker’s single to center, taking a 2-1 lead. Deflation however followed almost immediately; Tom Hawkins dropped a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd, and Denzler hit one out to re-flip the score, 3-2 Atlanta.

The middle innings passed without incident, and the Raccoons arrived in the seventh inning out-hitting the opposition 7-5, but had yet to take the lead again. Rosas allowed a leadoff single to Tovias to begin the seventh, and then Baldwin also dropped one in. Hague bunted the runners into scoring position, but both Ramos and Stalker went down swinging against the impenetrable Rosas, who had by then rung up eight Coons. Both starters were gone after seven, with Hague stranding Hawkins and the unretireable Denzler (4-for-4) on the corners when Josh Johnson flew out to Jamieson. Ricky Ohl held the Knights in reach despite walking one and whiffing none to maintain his pear-shaped 2031 ledger anyway. Greene was at it from the start in the ninth this time, facing the 6-7-8 batters, which in this case meant Catella leading off as pinch-hitter just for the sake of having someone bat from the right side. He grounded out to second before Elias Tovias, lo and behold, homered to left to tie up the game! Baldwin doubled, advanced on a wild pitch, but Greene struck out Matt Nunley before filling the bases with walks to Ramos (intentional) and Stalker (not bloody quite). And the result? A ****ty comebacker for the third out by Jamieson. ****TY. At least they went on to lose in total disgrace after this; Nick Derks came in to pitch and began with whiffing Nate Seago before the wheels came off. Barlow walked, Hawkins singled, and they were on the corners with two outs before Derks nailed Denzler in the wrist to knock him out of the game. Justin Osterloh became a meaningless pinch-runner that got to jog home when Derks was forced to offer a strike to John Johnson with three on and two outs. Johnson hit it 420 feet. 7-3 Knights. Stalker 2-4, BB, RBI; Tovias 2-4, HR, RBI; Baldwin 3-4, 2B;

Denzler came off with a bruise and swore revenge, which can only become interesting down the road, while Derks has a 54.00 ERA for this season and a 4.88 ERA for his career. Well, what do you expect from a sixth-round pick?

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Roberts
ATL: CF Denzler – SS Hawkins – C Martins – RF Ryder – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Harenberg – LF Seago – 3B Barlow – P Osterloh

The Knights rapped six hits in three innings of an inefficient Mark Roberts, but nevertheless scored only one run on Jake Barlow’s 2-out RBI single to score Johnson in the second inning. Yes, the intentional walk would have been available, but no, it wouldn’t have changed anything, because Roberts also gave up a single to Osterloh… The Raccoons equalized in the third with a Ramos Special, all with two outs: infield single, stolen base, coming home on Stalker’s single. Mark Roberts needed four innings to get a strikeout (on Nate Seago), and five innings to give himself the lead with a 1-out RBI triple, plating Joe Vanatti. Let’s just say that Joel Denzler and Zachary Ryder did not look good on that gapper. Ramos was walked intentionally, but Stalker popped out and Wallace flew out to right to strand them on the corners, and when the bottom 5th began with an infield single by the opposing pitcher, then a walk to Denzler, I braced for impact. Wallace caught up with a Tom Hawkins fly, though, and Eric Martins neatly hit into a 6-4-3 to deny the Knights.

The Critters dragged Roberts through seven innings of 9-hit ball, and somehow the 2-1 lead stayed in one piece despite scrapcoon Omar Alfaro hitting for Osterloh in the seventh, and despite a Denzler single following that obvious out that dropped Alfaro to .077 for the year. The Raccoons got Nunley and Howden on base with two outs in the eighth against Levi Snoeij, but Vanatti ground out, dropping to two Alfaros’ worth of a batting average. Bottom 8th, Ricky Ohl got two outs from the 3-4 batters before walking Johnson, which prompted an early appearance by Josh Boles with Harenberg coming up, obviously a left-handed batter. The Coons loaded the bases station by station in the ninth inning with Leal, Ramos, and Wallace reaching base, but Hereford popped out to strand them all. So Boles was brought back still in a 2-1 game and before long it got “interesting”. Ryan Allan had batted for Stalker in the ninth, but Baldwin then stayed at second base for Portland, while Allan moved to right in place of Wallace. Baldwin then got a 1-out grounder from Barlow that he threw wildly past Howden for two bases, and Boles walked on the winning run in Brad Woods before getting back to the top of the order and Denzler, who had six hits and a walk in the series and was still grumpy over getting hit in the wrist. Maybe a bit too grumpy – he chased high heat for strike three, but that still brought up another .300+ hitter in Hawkins, who hit away at the first pitch, popped up, and shattered his bat on home plate before retreating to the dugout straight away. Baldwin made the catch. 2-1 Critters. Ramos 2-4; Howden 1-2, 2 BB; Roberts 7.0 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, W (2-2) and 1-3, 3B, RBI;

Raccoons (8-9) @ Indians (10-9) – May 2-4, 2031

Back in Indy, where they are in last place and are trying to figure out the heck why under life fire. The offense was terrible – they were batting .209 as a team and scored the second-fewest runs, barely 3.2 per game, in the Continental League. While their rotation had been strong and held the third-best ERA, their pen had been cats in a box on fire, blowing any and all good starting pitching away. Their ERA was well over five! The Coons had won two of three in the first set of the season.

Projected matchups:
Tom Shumway (1-3, 4.50 ERA) vs. Mark Morrison (1-1, 5.28 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-2, 6.41 ERA) vs. Sal Bedoya (1-1, 1.63 ERA)
TBD vs. Andy Bressner (0-5, 2.87 ERA)

Bressner’s record and ERA is all you need to know. Their only starter with a winning record was their only lefty, John McInerney (1-0, 3.32 ERA).

We were not yet convinced how to work around the Martinez suspension (and we would have to do so twice). Since Raffaello Sabre was aligned to pitch Sunday on regular rest it was not an outrageous thought to have him up to make a spot start and work on that ghastly 15.43 career ERA in the majors… In any case and with any pitcher, we needed a roster spot, though…

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

Wallace singled, Jamieson doubled, and Hereford and Nunley made pathetic outs on the infield to waste away a chance in the opening inning. That was the only fat scoring opportunity for either team in the first four innings, until Ramos walked with two outs in the fifth inning, and The Excitement was by definition ALWAYS in scoring position. He swiped second, #10 for the season and in Pizano’s face, as the Indians’ shortstop had ZERO bags taken at the start of May. Then the Indians walked Wallace intentionally and got Jamieson to fly out easily. Meanwhile, Shumway through five walked a batter, nailed a guy, but got a double play and was facing only one over the minimum…!

The no-hit bid ended with Elias Sosa, leading off the bottom 6th with a double well over Jamieson’s head and off the base of the wall. That one had indeed been sharply hit; Morrison bunted the go-ahead run to third base, but Pizano flew out to shallow center and the Indians didn’t send the runner. Tom Shumway plunked Mike Plunkett to put them on the corners, then rung up Juan Herrera to end the inning and to keep the game scoreless. The following inning Dan Schneller was robbed in the gap by Jamieson, who made a flying catch for the second out, but then remained on the ground, handing the ball to the bystanding Sean Catella before rolling into a ball and holding still until the Druid arrived. He was taken out of the ballgame, replaced by Ryan Allan, who then went to the corners with Hereford on a pair of 2-out singles in the eighth. Nunley struck out against former Critter Jose Menendez to keep it scoreless. Shumway stayed true through eight, but still couldn’t buy any love from his teammates, who left him with a no-decision by still not scoring in the ninth. Howden hit a leadoff single off Marcus Owens. Tovias hit into a double play.

The only guy possibly benefitting now was Ramos, who was hitless with an 11-game hitting streak on the line. When Garavito remained unscored upon in the bottom 9th, he got another chance in the tenth inning with Tim Stalker on first after drawing a leadoff walk from the #9 hole. Ramos however grounded out to Schneller. The runner advanced, but after an intentional walk to Wallace the Indians got poor outs from Allan and Hereford. Fleischer got the bottom 10th, allowed a leadoff double to Schneller, and before long a 2-out walkoff single to Sosa. 1-0 Indians. Shumway 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K;

Matt Jamieson was down with a strained rib cage muscle, the Druid advised. He would take two weeks to heal, we were told, while spending the first week of that timeframe at a serene lake in the mountains with quacking ducks to further the healing process. At this point I was long past questioning his methods and instead went towards roster move business and didn’t even catch what the treatment for the second week was.

So, Matt Jamieson was off to the DL. We brought up Alex Geraldo, that scrap middle infielder who had been claimed off waivers in late March, but he would only be up for a day before we would go on to bring in Sabre.

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

Between these two pitchers there were seven losses on the field, and no wins. And while the Raccoons’ offense made no early bid to give Gutierrez a win, the Indians’ wasn’t quite so shy. Even though they took two innings to get warm, they began to batter Gutierrez in the bottom of the third. Greg Regan doubled, scored on a 2-out triple by Pizano, and Plunkett singled home the second run for a 2-0 lead. Again, Rico Gutierrez was completely unable to retire anybody with two strikes. Every batter put the ball in play in those early innings, and it took John Baron, the successor of Ben Suhay in more than position on the Arrowheads, to fabricate a strikeout, Rico’s FIFTH of the season in 23 innings. That was an aberration, though. Elias Sosa hit a 2-piece on an 0-2 pitch in the bottom 5th, extending the lead to 4-0, even Bressner hit a deep fly for an out on two strikes, and by the way, Bressner was still no-hitting the Critters. It took them to the seventh inning for Ryan Allan to squeeze a leadoff single past Pizano, only to be stranded on first base. Gutierrez hung around for no greater good until Greg Regan hit a mammoth homer off him in the bottom 7th, that one a solo piece. Top 8th, the bottom of the order cooked something up; singles by Catella and Tovias, then a pinch-hit RBI double by Joe Vanatti! With one out and Bressner in the ropes, we sent the top of the order to collect runners in scoring position. Ramos popped out, Allan whiffed, and the team lost pathetically once again. 5-1 Indians. Vanatti (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI;

With this loss, the Coons found sixth place.

Alex Geraldo found his way back to St. Pete. He had not gotten into the game. Sabre would.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P Sabre
IND: 2B Schneller – 1B Regan – RF Plunkett – CF Baron – C J. Herrera – LF Zanches – 3B E. Sosa – SS Pizano – P Saccoccio

After the skip of Sal Bedoya, the Indians walked David Saccoccio (1-3, 3.97 ERA) into the Sunday game. He would pitch on regular rest. He had a clean first, while Sabre walked two, almost allowed a homer in between – Wallace caught the drive at the fence – and then got lucky that Ramos turned him a double play to bail him out. He then struck out a pair in the second, which was cruel, because it gave us false hope. Come the third, Pizano and Schneller drew walks, Greg Regan fired a gapper, and the Indians were up 2-0. Nothing got better after that. Pizano tripled and scored on a Saccoccio single in the bottom 5th, and by the way, the Raccoons were not even remotely close to scoring a run, sitting on two hits, two walks, a runner caught stealing (Ramos), and a whole lot of questions. Top 6th, Ramos led off with a double to left-center. Stalker grounded out, moving him to third, and Wallace grounded up the middle, but not past Schneller, and was easily retired at first to extend a rut to 3-for-19, but at least he had his first RBI in nine games…

This sorry spectacle was swiftly followed by Sabre’s final decomposition. Elias Sosa hit a 2-out single in the bottom 6th, and Pizano just wasn’t going to be fooled by any third-rate rook and smashed a homer over the fence in left. That closed Sabre’s line at five runs in 5.2 innings – better than the last one, yet still incredibly pathetic. So pathetic in fact that he didn’t even get to see the pitcher anymore. The Coons rather went to Chris Wise, who got the strikeout. Further down the sadness-trodden road, Nick Derks served up a homer to .137 batter John Baron in the eighth. Saccoccio pitched a complete-game 4-hitter instead. 6-1 Indians. Nunley 1-2, BB;

In other news

April 28 – LVA LF/RF Andy Montes (.250, 1 HR, 2 RBI) hits a solo home run off NYC SP Chris Rountree (1-2, 2.67 ERA) for the only score in the Aces’ 1-0 win. Vegas has only one other base hit in the game, while New York has four off LVA SP Jamie Klages (0-1, 2.39 ERA) and the bullpen.
April 29 – LAP SP Chris Cooper (2-1, 1.55 ERA) 1-hits the Cyclones in a 6-0 L.A. win.
April 29 – A bruised wrist puts OCT 1B Danny Cruz (.329, 4 HR, 13 RBI) on the DL for the next three weeks.
April 30 – IND C Juan Herrera (.164, 3 HR, 8 RBI) lifts a walkoff jack off SFB SP Matt Huf (1-4, 4.45 ERA) for the only tally in the Indians’ 1-0 victory over the Bayhawks.
May 2 – TIJ SP Jorge Villalobos (2-1, 1.01 ERA) 3-hits the Thunder in a 5-0 shutout.
May 3 – The Buffaloes fall victim to NAS SP Alfredo Vargas (3-0, 1.77 ERA) in a 3-hit shutout. The Blue Sox win 1-0.
May 4 – MIL SP Josh Long (3-0, 1.46 ERA) will miss two months with a sore elbow.
May 4 – The Warriors destroy the Scorpions with an 11-run sixth inning, enough to coast to a 12-3 victory. SFW 1B/CF Pedro Cisneros (.277, 1 HR, 12 RBI) drives in four runs on two hits.

Complaints and stuff

Jimmy Wallace was named CL Rookie of the Month, batting .338 with 4 HR and 16 RBI in the season’s first 19 games. He has since fallen into the blackest hole, because why wouldn’t he?

I remember that for the first ten days or so we actually hit more dingers than we allowed. We are not hitting any dingers anymore, but the ball is sure still flying off the bats. Must be the bats then. Or the lazy arms. Or both.

But I got this present from Slappy. (shows a white box with “Consolation” scribbled onto it in black felt marker) I guess I should open it. (removes lid) Aww, Slappy, you shouldn’t have! The first bottle of Capt’n Coma of the year …! – (Slappy on the couch lifts his own bottle in agreement)

Meanwhile, Sabre will be sent back to St. Pete before midnight, and we will have to work another pitcher into the rotation during the next cycle, because Martinez remains suspended for his next turn. We have to gain one day somewhere. Probably points us towards Jason Gurney or Sean Rigg in some way…

Turns out, the second-week treatment for Matt Jamieson would be letting him for a pint of blood daily. I think I should intervene. Probably. But first … (unscrews the bottle of booze) …first let’s hear what the Capt’n has to say!

Fun Fact: The last time the Raccoons failed to win even seven games in back-to-back seasons against the Indians was in 2003 and 2004.

We are on pace for that. 6-12 last year, 2-4 this year.
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Thank you for this post:
Questdog (06-25-2019)
Old 06-25-2019, 04:29 PM   #2896
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I would just like to point out that my "thanks" attached to the last post is meant more as an "okay, I read this" tag, not as an actual "thank you" for descending into last place.....
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Old 06-25-2019, 06:39 PM   #2897
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I would just like to point out that my "thanks" attached to the last post is meant more as an "okay, I read this" tag, not as an actual "thank you" for descending into last place.....
Thanks for clarifying that.



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Old 06-26-2019, 06:27 PM   #2898
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Raccoons (9-14) @ Loggers (17-8) – May 5-8, 2031

Something felt wrong about this basic top line. It was early May and the Loggers were not only ahead of the Raccoons, but also *seven* games ahead of the Raccoons, and in first place on top of that. The Raccoons were also in first place… as far as the race towards the bottom of the division was concerned. The Loggers were allowing only three runs per game, the fewest in the league, and sported the best rotation. Their offense was not quite as dominant, sitting only eighth in runs scored. We met them for the first time this year, and beat 13 wins out of them in ’30, which was rotten just as well as any losing season, but what was really in danger here was the fact that we had not lost the season series to Milwaukee for 17 years. The last time the Coons lost the season series to the Loggers, Matt Nunley was a September call-up.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (0-0) vs. Morgan Shepherd (1-2, 2.83 ERA)
Ed Hague (1-0, 4.07 ERA) vs. Josh Weeks (1-0, 1.41 ERA)
Mark Roberts (2-2, 4.31 ERA) vs. Mike Hodge (1-1, 1.23 ERA)
Tom Shumway (1-3, 3.38 ERA) vs. Joe West (5-0, 2.45 ERA)

Weeks was the only southpaw coming up in the series. Hodge would take the spot of Josh Long, who was out with elbow soreness, and had would make his first start of the season.

Gurney took Sabre’s spot for a second consecutive spot start, which would gain the Critters enough length to last out Dave Martinez’ suspension. Rico Gutierrez would open the weekend set on Friday, and Martinez would pitch the first day he was eligible to do so on Saturday. That would all take place in Richmond. Meanwhile Gurney had gone 2-3 with a 4.91 ERA with Portland last year, but had a 5.14 ERA in St. Pete this season. Didn’t matter – we need the arm.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – 1B Howden – LF Allan – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P Gurney
MIL: C J. Young – 2B Sessoms – SS W. Morris – RF Stephenson – LF Cambra – CF Creech – 3B Parten – 1B Canody – P Shepherd

The Loggers had three on with nobody out in the bottom 1st, with Jim Young getting nailed, Aaron Sessoms getting walked, and Wayne Morris getting a ball past Nunley. Josh Stephenson grounded into a force at home, but that was it for good news as Firmino Cambra slogged a 2-run single to right, and Gurney plated antoher run with a wild pitch before the inning fizzled out. Gabe Creech whiffed, Jason Parten flew out to left, and in fact those two were the first of *15* straight batters sat down by Gurney after the onslaught. Any decent team would try at least a little rally, but the Raccoons also weren’t getting on base, plain and simple. Ramos had led off with a double in the top 1st, Nunley had walked, but Wallace and Howden had both gone down poking, and the Critters did not reach base again until Elias Tovias hit a 2-out single in the fifth inning. Gurney grounded out real quick to end whatever scheme that was.

Top of the sixth, still down 3-0, the Raccoons got Stalker on base with a knock, and Nunley was knocked to make him company, and with an 0-2 pitch on top of that. Jimmy Wallace batted as the tying run, the first time the Raccoons had seen that one in play since falling behind in the first inning. Shepherd ran a full count, then threw a fastball for a strike that Jimmy didn’t miss. He blasted it 430 feet to right center, and his fifth bomb of the year gave everybody a brand-new ballgame. Bottom 6th, Wayne Morris hit a 1-out single to left to become the first Loggers runner since Cambra had been stranded on third base in the opening frame. Gurney got two pop flies for easy outs, completing six and ultimately a job well done; he was on 96 pitches and his spot was up in the top 7th, which began with Joe Vanatti singling off reliever Julio Palomo, and pretty quickly being picked off first base. Tovias hit a double to left on the very next pitch, which was totally not frustrating. Hereford batted for Gurney, struck out, and Ramos flew out in foul ground on the right side to strand the runner in scoring posi- no, wait, Taylor Canody fumbled it dropped it. New life for Berto! He turned that into a full count walk, and Stalker was nailed, filling the bags with two down for Nunley (alternatively, if Vanatti hadn’t fallen asleep, we’d be up 4-3 already). Nunley hit the first pitch to center, but Creech was not beaten by that, and the Coons stranded a full set. Vanatti however DID put the Coons up 4-3 in the eighth; Wallace on second and Howden on first – at least after a terrible throwing error by Alfredo Casique on the mound, who could have had any out, wanted two, and got none when he fired over Morris’ head on Howden’s grounder – Allan lined out to Cambra in left, but Vanatti’s liner wasn’t caught and fell for an RBI single, chasing Wallace in with the go-ahead run. Casique kept falling behind and generated another single on 2-0 against Tovias, which loaded the bags. Sean Catella batted for Fleischer with three on and one out, popped out, and Ramos struck out to strand ANOTHER full set. How could this NOT come back to haunt us?

Bottom 9th, still 4-3, Josh Boles allowed a leadoff single to Cambra, who was swiftly run for by Danny Valenzuela. Boles went on to strike Creech in the ankle, requiring another pinch-runner in Matt Lockert. There was sufficient speed on the bags now that the next stupid mistake could end the ballgame. Riccardo Ferrales batted for Jason Parten, walked on four pitches, and now the bags were full with nobody out. Canody hit a sac fly to left to tie the game, and then PH Kaleb Holder grounded to first, where Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, fumbled the ball into foul ground and all Loggers were safe around the diamond. Winning run at third base, one out, Jim Young ended the sorry spectacle with a single to center. 5-4 Loggers. Vanatti 2-4, RBI; Tovias 3-4, 2B;

In between rubbing my temples with all the fingers I had to make the pain go away, I also sent Gurney back to St. Pete to bring up a batter to fill in for the actual vacancy of a right-handed outfielder. Unfortunately, that meant more of Wilson Rodriguez, which nobody could be too fond of.

With Weeks up, Alberto Ramos would get his first day of this season; he had been the only Raccoon to be in every starting lineup at this point. There were however still three other Critters to feature in every game: Howden, Hereford, and Wallace.

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Baldwin – 3B Hereford – LF Wallace – 1B Howden – RF Rodriguez – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Hague
MIL: 1B Canody – 2B Sessoms – SS W. Morris – C J. Young – RF Stephenson – LF Cambra – 3B Holder – CF Creech – P Weeks

Both teams went down in order the first time through; Weeks whiffed two, while Hague got five. Symmetry continued with both Tim Stalker and Taylor Canody hitting leadoff doubles in their respective halves of the fourth inning. Stalker never moved another 90 feet, let alone 180, while – and here symmetry ended – Aaron Sessoms plated Canody with a jack to right, putting the Loggers up 2-0. Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, opened the fifth inning with a double to right, didn’t stop at second, and was well in time stopped at third base, thrown out by Josh Stephenson, with Kaleb Holder slapping on the tag. The pair of doubles remained the only two hits for the Critters through seven, which was also the distance that Ed Hague went. He allowed only three more singles, nobody scored, but you just knew he was up for his first loss in the brown uniform, with f.e. Weeks striking out the meat of the order in the seventh inning, running his tally in the game to eight. He had entered with just 19 K in 38.1 innings. He got Vanatti in the eighth for a ninth strikeout, and despite being up only 2-0 and on 103 pitches, the Loggers sent him into the ninth inning, which the Coons opened with their #9 batter, which turned out to be The Excitement pinch-hitting for John Hennessy. Weeks walked him – his first free pass issued and the first Coons runner to not throw himself into the abyss since Stalker in the fourth. The same Tim Stalker was nicked by a pitch, putting the tying runs on base for Matt Nunley, batting for Baldwin against righty reliever Ken Gautney (although truth be told, he would have batted against any pitcher here). Nunley struck out. Hereford struck out. Gautney had a full count going against Wallace, appeared to spot the corner on 3-2, but didn’t get the call. Bases loaded, two down, for the dumb pig at the plate. Howden jocked a 1-0 pitch to right, Stephenson nowhere near it! Ramos scored, Stalker scored, the game was tied on a 2-run single! That was all, though, despite a bases-loading single by Ryan Allan. Vanatti grounded out to strand another full set. Bottom 9th, leadoff walk to Jim Young issued by Garavito. Stephenson singled, and when Cambra hit a comebacker, Garavito fired to third base – late. Three on, nobody out, Ferrales pinch-hit and hit a pitch to right that deep enough to get Young home on a sac fly. 3-2 Loggers. Howden 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Allan (PH) 1-1; Ramos (PH) 0-0, BB; Hague 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K;

I am this close to sending them all to bed without a bowl of ice cream!

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P Roberts
MIL: 3B Lockert – C J. Young – SS W. Morris – RF Stephenson – CF Creech – 2B Holder – LF Ferrales – 1B Canody – P Hodge

The Raccoons continued to hardly function as a baseball team, and the Loggers were again to score first. This time it was a Matt Lockert double and a dying bloop by Wayne Morris that with two outs Vanatti dove for but missed by inches, and that allowed Lockert around from second base. Nobody else scored or came even close through five innings, with both teams held to three hits apiece. The Coons’ fourth base hit would be a Roberts single to left leading off the sixth inning. And somehow, nobody knew quite how, this was a situation where Alberto Ramos would ALWAYS walk, and did so here. Pitcher on first base, Berto was gonna line up right behind it! Maybe it was better this way; Ramos had been on base without impediment in the third inning and had been caught stealing by Jim Young. Stalker walked on four pitches to load the sacks with nobody out, which was such a nasty move by Hodge! Nunley hit a grounder to the right side, which would get a run home in some capacity rather than being turned into a 3-2-3-2 triple play, but Holder actually missed the grounder and it escaped for a score-flipping 2-run single! Wallace struck out, Hereford singled softly to load the bases again, and then Howden hit into a double play to end the inning. YOU DUMB PIG!!

The lead was short-lived, with Gabe Creech hitting a souvenir to a guy pretty high up in the rightfield stands with two outs in the bottom 6th. That was not all. Holder walked, stole second when Tovias fumbled the pitch, and then scored on a Ferrales single to put the Loggers up 3-2. Ferrales went to second on the throw home, then scored on Canody’s single, 4-2. Hodge in turn leaked singles to Catella and Ramos in the seventh, but they were stranded on the corners when Stalker grounded out to Morris. Wallace and Hereford chucked singles in the eighth before Howden (…!) hit into an inning-ending double play. There was not even much pretense in the ninth… 4-2 Loggers. Ramos 2-4, BB; Nunley 2-4, 2 RBI; Hereford 2-4; Catella (PH) 1-1, 2B;

I don’t think I like where this is going. And next up was Tom Scumbag, the Master of Disaster, against an undefeated Joe West…

Game 4
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Allan – C Tovias – CF Catella – P Shumway
MIL: 3B Lockert – 2B Sessoms – SS W. Morris – RF Stephenson – CF Creech – C J. Young – LF D.J. Mendez – 1B Canody – P J. West

The Raccoons not only *scored*, but scored *first* on Thursday, Stalker singling, moving up on a Nunley grounder, and coming home on Wallace’s single to center, right in the first inning. Hereford struck out to end the frame, and Tom Scumbag’s personal strategy for pitching with a tender lead involved walking a pair right in the opening inning, but the Loggers hit into a double play to bowl themselves out of the inning. Top 3rd, Shumway led off with a single to right, and Ramos parked up right behind him (again!) with a single of his own. Alberto had been robbed in the gap to begin the game – curse you, D.J. Mendez! – and had yet to scar the Loggers like he usually did. With Shumway in front it was station by station baseball, and to Tim Stalker’s single loaded them up with nobody out for Matt Nunley. Both him and Wallace hit run-scoring groundouts, 3-0, and Hereford flew out to Creech to end the inning. Shumway allowed no base hits the first time through the order, but then got tagged for a leadoff double by Sessoms in the fourth, and immediately followed that up with an RBI triple served up to Morris. And they would keep hitting; Morris grounded, but Stevenson and Young hit singles to score another run, and the Coons had to walk Taylor Canody intentionally to fill them up for Joe West, who hit a decently-sized fly to center at 2-1, but for the third out, and Portland remained up 3-2. That one, Shumway would **** away, too, despite an RBI double by Nunley in the fifth stretching the score. Loggers went to the corners on singles in the bottom 5th and got a run on a sac fly, and Canody singled home Mendez in the sixth to tie the score at four. Shumway was yanked before the inning was over, Fleischer getting a pop from Matt Lockert to close out the sixth before indiscriminately filling the bases in the bottom 7th with two walks, a single, and nobody out. Creech greedily struck out reaching for a slam, after which Garavito got involved, but conceded the go-ahead run on Jim Young’s sac fly. Mendez popped out to strand two more. The eighth was ho-hum, and the Coons arrived in the ninth down by a run and facing Alfredo Casique. Vanatti batted leadoff in the #8 spot, which Catella had vacated on accounts of neck pain. The Coons didn’t suffer offensively for it, for Vanatti laced a triple into centerfield and the tying run was 90 feet away with nobody out! Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, batted for Ricky Ohl and struck out. Ramos walked, which didn’t help. Stalker ran a full count and struck out, and with Nunley at the plate, Ramos took off to take second base… but was thrown out. 5-4 Loggers. Stalker 3-5; Vanatti 1-1, 3B;

In case you struggle to keep counting, that is a 7-game losing streak and an 11-game gap to the first-place Loggers. There are a lot items in that sentence that should sound the alarm for any decent Coons fan worth their whiskers.

Raccoons (9-18) @ Rebels (9-18) – May 9-11, 2031

But fear not – there was another team as ****ty as the Critters in the land, and they’d be our first interleague rivals of the season. The Rebels had only lost three in a row, but then again their record was worse than their team had been. They were actually more games under .500 than runs under .500 (-5). The offense was slow and tardy, but the pitching was solid, at least the rotation. The pen was full of holes. This was the fifth straight year of us playing the Rebs. We had dropped last year’s encounter, two games to one.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (0-3, 6.58 ERA) vs. Felipe Delgado (1-4, 5.61 ERA)
Dave Martinez (1-1, 2.05 ERA) vs. Gabriel Lara (2-2, 4.21 ERA)
Ed Hague (1-0, 3.73 ERA) vs. David Medina (0-2, 4.37 ERA)

Left, right, right, or so we think. They had an off day this week and could make a little shuffle work.

The Raccoons would have Monday off, but played another series with a shortened bench. Sean Catella was day-to-day with a stiff neck that would hamper him enough to be no more than the last resort; any warm body before no warm body, and Catella still had a pulse; same for, I am told, Jarod Howden, although I was tempted to hold a little mirror under his pointy black nose and check for myself.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Baldwin – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – CF Vanatti – RF W. Rodriguez – 1B Howden – C Tovias – P Gutierrez
RIC: RF Campisi – C Leonard – 2B Freeman – 1B Rempfer – CF Jennings – 3B Hansen – LF Jacobs – SS H. Rodriguez – P F. Delgado

Ramos opened with a single to center, then stole second. Hey, he still has it …! He also made Felipe Delgado, a six-year veteran who should be less easily spooked, balk when he danced off second base following a Baldwin groundout, moving his bum to third base one way or another. Stalker walked, but Rich Hereford got the run home with a sac fly. Then came the gift that kept on giving to the wrong team, Rico Gutierrez. Cyril Campisi and Keith Leonard, the old Titan, hit singles either way before Ben Freeman popped out to right. The runners embarked on a double steal that saw Leonard knocked out easily be Tovias, but Gutierrez walked Brent Rempfer anyway. That brought up .115 hitter Billy Jennings, who cracked a bouncer to right and struck a blindly running Rempfer in the thigh, which ended the inning, and which was probably the only way that inning would ever have ended for Rico Gutierrez, who again pitched for $2M bucks’ worth of horse poo. However, despite the lack of pitching and the excess of just lobbing it towards the catcher on a wing and a prayer, on the other end there was still another .333 team. It took the Rebels until the fourth to reach again, then Rempfer with a single, and this time he was not even clubbed out by his own teammate, but stranded at second base when Jennings and John Hansen made hard outs. John Jacobs hit a leadoff single in the fifth, was bunted to second, Rico walked Campisi, but despite us having multiple replays of Keith Leonard doing grim things to Raccoons, his 2-out liner was shagged by Hereford to end the inning.

The Raccoons had a whopping two base hits through six innings, which was not an offensive rate conducive to ending a weeklong spill. It also didn’t help that Freeman reached on a Ramos error to begin the bottom 6th. Rempfer popped out, but Billy Jennings got hold of a “fastball” and powered it outta centerfield to flip the score, 2-1 Rebels. The Coons put up a vague threat when Vanatti walked and Howden singled in the seventh, but with two down Tovias fanned all by himself. Gutierrez pitched into the seventh, but was removed after walking Leonard with two outs. Chris Wise replaced him, served up a booming homer to Ben Freeman – and that would be the ballgame for sure… and it was. 4-1 Rebels. Baldwin 2-4;

When I returned to the hotel and requested that the bell boy cart me to my room in a luggage trolley for I couldn’t hold myself upright anymore, the concierge informed me that a Mr Valdes had called 17 times in the last hour. I shrugged and claimed not to know anybody by that name and that this had to be a mix-up, then rolled into a ball on the luggage trolley. I tipped the boy who pushed me up to my room, a lovely lad named Jim-Bob, ten dollars for the splendid job he did with the trolley, and another twenty when he lifted me onto my bed, tucked me in and killed the lights on another day in my living nightmare.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – CF Vanatti – 1B Howden – C Leal – P Martinez
RIC: RF Campisi – 3B Hansen – C Leonard – 1B Rempfer – CF Jennings – 2B Freeman – LF Jacobs – SS Ferrando – P G. Lara

Two outs without allowing a run would have put Martinez’ ERA under two after a 10-day layoff, but he wouldn’t do it. He allowed singles to Campisi and Leonard, walked Rempfer, threw a wild pitch, walked Freeman, and somehow got Jacobs to chase and strand three in a 1-0 game. To my utter surprise then, this was not the end of things; the Coons would bat around in the third inning, top to bottom, and plate four runs, three of which came on a Jimmy Wallace bomb to right, chasing home Stalker (who had forced out Ramos) and Nunley to take the lead. Hereford hit a double right after that and came home on a Vanatti single before the bottom of the order dawdled the remaining outs away ineffectively. The Rebels came back swift and firm; three were on with nobody out in the bottom 3rd, courtesy of a Hansen line drive single to left, Leonard lacing a double to right, and then a hapless walk to Rempfer. Jennings struck out in a full count before Martinez brought in ANOTHER run with ANOTHER wild pitch. Freeman hit an RBI single, cutting the gap to 4-3, before Jacobs struck out and Michael Ferrando grounded out to Stalker.

Somehow, Martinez left the game with a 5-3 lead after five innings of messy, all-over-the-place baseball. He threw 103 pitches, not all of them near where Leal could catch them. Leal got his first RBI of the year on a single in the fifth inning; which was okay, it was merely the middle of May by now… Ramos on the other hand had knocked a leadoff double in the fourth and had been stranded, then found Vanatti and Leal in scoring position with two outs in the fifth and flew out to strand them. For the next two frames, Nick Derks (who had not pitched at all in the Loggers series or on Friday), Jonathan Fleischer, and John Hennessy cobbled together outs without blowing the lead, providing a nice setup for Ricky Ohl and Josh Boles until the top of the eighth featured more bad pitching by the Rebels, who had righty Andy Brannum shuffle the bags full with nobody out, and the Coons didn’t even have to fish for a hit. Ramos walked, Nunley walked, and in between Stalker was nicked. They would not get a hit in the inning; Wallace struck out, and Hereford flew out to shallow center, too shallow even for Ramos to take off from third base. Brannum then walked Vanatti in a full count to force home an insurance run with two outs, then fell 3-0 to Jarod Howden. And guess what – the dumb pig poked and flew out to left. YOU DUMB PIG!!

But the ****ty Baseball Show was not over yet! Bottom 8th, Ricky Ohl allowed a leadoff single to Freeman, nailed Jacobs good enough that he required urgent medical attention and a pinch-runner (Hector Rodriguez), then got a generous call on a 3-2 pitch off the edge to ring up Ferrando, but fell 3-0 to PH Miles Monroe. And now Monroe popped out! Dumb pigs everywhere!! Cyril Campisi grounded out on the very next pitch. The bottom 9th began in usual fashion, with an extra-base knock off Josh Boles, a formerly excellent young closer. Now he was just a closer. John Hansen doubled to center, bringing up the tying run in the on-deck circle. Leonard popped out. Rempfer lined out to Ramos. Jennings bounced to the left side, Ramos on that, too, throw to first – ballgame. 6-3 Raccoons. Nunley 2-4, BB; Wallace 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Hereford 3-5, 2B; Vanatti 2-4, BB, 2 RBI; Leal 3-5, RBI;

I immediately sent a telegram to our dear owner after the game! “COONS WIN STOP NOT BY FORFEIT STOP”

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Allan – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P Hague
RIC: RF Campisi – 3B Hansen – C Leonard – 1B Rempfer – CF Jennings – 2B Freeman – LF Jacobs – SS Ferrando – P D. Medina

Their guy was winless, ours was unbeaten – what could go wrong? And as proof that nothing could go wrong here, Elias Tovias came up with 2-out, 2-run base hits in both of his first two plate appearances. He scored Hereford and Allan with a single in the second, then plated Hereford and Vanatti with a double in the fourth. That feat was followed up by Medina losing Hague on balls, and Ramos chucking an RBI single to get Tovias home from second base, then extending the lead to 5-1; Hague had surrendered a run on the only two hits he had given up so far in the bottom 2nd.

The Rebels answered with a 6-run fifth that knocked out Hague while it was still in progress. Worse yet, the inning actually started with two outs! Jacobs and Ferrando grounded out harmlessly, but those were the last outs Hague logged. PH Mark Purdie singled, Campisi went yard to left, and it was off to the races. Hansen singled, Leonard – tough as nails – fouled off a plethora of pitches before walking, and Rempfer hit an RBI double to center, cutting the lead to 5-4 with the tying runs in scoring position. Hague effortlessly fell 3-0 behind Jennings before conceding a score-flipping, 2-run bloop single, and was yanked sharply after that. Chris Wise came on, offered no relief whatsoever, and allowed Jennings to score on singles by Freeman and Jacobs before Ferrando struck out to keep it a 7-5 game.

…after which much was a blur thanks to me hitting the noble bar near the suites of the rich folks in the ballpark and ordering the barkeep to knock me out with the hardest thing he had; in an instant I got struck by a barstool and the next few innings really just passed me by. It was still 7-5 in the eighth however, and the Critters refused to get on base. Nick Derks pitched without allowing a thousand runs, so why shouldn’t that be a catalyst for a ninth-inning comeback? Well, for starters, closer Kyle Dominy had a 1.93 ERA, and the we also brought up the bottom of the order. And yet, Joe Vanatti walked on four pitches! And that brought up Elias Tovias with 4 RBI on the day and counting and - … and he hit into a double play. No comeback occurred. 7-5 Rebels. Ramos 3-4, RBI; Tovias 2-4, 2B, 4 RBI; Baldwin (PH) 1-1;

In other news

May 5 – RIC RF/LF Keith Damron (.217, 4 HR, 12 RBI) will miss four months with a particularly bad hip strain.
May 10 – TIJ SP George Griffin (4-1, 2.55 ERA) and four relievers – Ray Andrews, Steve Gowan, Pat Selby, and Erik David (2-1, 2.16 ERA, 10 SV) – hold the Wolves hitless in a 2-1 Condors victory. Salem amounts only to three walks while getting no-hit. This is the most pitchers to date to have been involved in a combined no-hitter.
May 11 – SAC LF/RF Doug Stross (.352, 3 HR, 12 RBI) will be out for a month with torn ankle ligaments.

Complaints and stuff

(puts away the Agitator with the Rebels celebrating Cyril Campisi’s homer with a shaken Ed Hague in the background blur, all under the fat headline of “No Luck No Excuse For No Skill”)

We’re bottoms in the power rankings now. Which is hard to do, really. You have to suck extraordinarily hard to get to the bottom of that!

(uncomfortable silence)

Now, this would be the spot where I would offer the so-called bright sides, and how nothing was really as bad as it seems, but … but there is nothing to tell you. The only bright spot is Ramos, leading the CL in stolen bases with 12 and also in batting average at .361, about ten points ahead of a pair of pesky Loggers, Josh Stephenson and Firmino Cambra. Teamwide the sole bright spots would be the pen (3.10 ERA, best in CL) and the defense, which is tight and ranked second-best in the CL. That pitcher after pitcher gets drummed despite that is reason for … concern? Quitting? Knotting a good sturdy rope?

Next week, Wolves at home, then a quick trip for the team to Elktown. I will have to stay home and wait for them to come back right after that for another two home series against New York and Las Vegas.

Fun Fact: George Griffin becomes the first pitcher to be involved in both a combined no-hitter and a no-hitter in his own right.

Griffin no-hit the Aces on April 17, 2027, which is neither the most recent Condors no-hitter (Jorge Villalobos, 2030) or the most recent time the Aces got no-H’ed (SFB Ben Lipsky, 2029).

The Wolves were no-hit for only the second time, having previously fallen victim to Pittsburgh’s John Key in 2018.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:22 AM   #2899
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Raccoons (10-20) vs. Wolves (12-19) – May 13-15, 2031

Pacific Northwest week started with the Wolves in town. These teams would meet for the second consecutive year, and the Raccoons had taken two of three from the Wolves last year. Salem ranked near the “small” end of the spectrum in terms of runs in either category; they were not allowing a lot of runs, but also not scoring a lot of runs. However, their run differential was zero, which probably hinted at them not actually being nearly as rancid as the Raccoons…

Projected matchups:
Mark Roberts (2-3, 4.58 ERA) vs. Brandon Nickerson (0-2, 3.35 ERA)
Tom Shumway (1-3, 3.82 ERA) vs. Lance Legleiter (0-0, 2.22 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-4, 5.79 ERA) vs. Mario Alva (2-3, 5.02 ERA)

Three right-handed opponents to contend with here, even if they used the common off day on Monday to skip somebody, because they just didn’t have a lefty starter. The former Raccoon Legleiter had made six starts without getting a decision.

Game 1
SAL: LF Ferrero – CF Tabata – RF Banfi – 3B Rozenboom – 1B R. Morales – SS McGee – C D. Hill – 2B Calfee – P Nickerson
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P Roberts

Barely home, everything went wrong right away. The Coons went down in order in the first three innings, rookie Nick Rozenboom took Roberts deep to begin the second inning, and while Roberts expended plenty of pitches early anyway, there was also a 50-minute rain delay in the third inning that threw another box full of screws into the Coons’ already clunky gearbox. Ramos and Stalker smacked singles to begin the bottom 4th, went to the corners, and Nunley tied the score… with a double play. No tie was for eternity in baseball, and neither was this; it did not survive another encounter of Mark Roberts with Nick Rozenboom, who hit another boom, rose high towards the leftfield stands, and nicked a beer vendor in row 27, leading to a few dozen cans of brew tumbling down the stairs and creating a bit of a mess. Slappy immediately announced that he was not going to clean that up and had another sip himself on the couch. Roberts was done by the seventh inning stretch, at which time Nick Rozenboom had as many dingers as the Raccoons had hits at all… Nickerson was still dealing in the bottom 7th, and allowed a leadoff single to Tim Stalker. Nunley took a hack, and hit a good one, fly to deep right-center, going, going – gone! Score-flipper by Matt Nunley, 3-2 Coons, and Roberts was now in line for the W… at least until Ricky Ohl conceded a single to Yachi Tabata and a homer to Luigi Banfi in the eighth. Salem added an insurance run off Fleischer in the ninth, Noel Ferrero plating Kyle Weinstein, who had hit a pinch-hit double, with a blooper that fell between Ramos and Hereford. Tim Stalker opened the bottom 9th with a double off John Fees and his 4.61 ERA, but this was a left-hander and the rest of the lineup was not going to have an advantage. Matt Nunley wanted nothing of this blabber – Matt Nunley didn’t NEED an advantage! He hit the first Fees pitch he got to center, and everybody KNEW it was gone. 435 feet for Nunley, erasing a deficit for the second time in the game! The next three were sat down though, sending the game to extras, where Josh Boles pitched a 1-2-3 tenth, a sentence that undercuts the fact that Vanatti and Hereford had to risk life and limb to secure two scorched line drives. The Coons got Tovias on, but left him stranded in the bottom of the inning, but got another scoreless inning from Chris Wise in the 11th. The Wolves brought up another southpaw in Robbie Peel for the bottom 11th. Stalker and Nunley were retired quickly, but Jimmy Wallace smacked a double in the gap with two outs. Rich Hereford hit another drive to deep left that was chasing Tabata back and further back, but there was no catching it – this was a walkoff homer! 7-5 Coons! Stalker 3-5, 2B; Nunley 2-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI; Tovias 2-4; Roberts 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K;

That was five home runs in one game by players whose primary position is third base.

Game 2
SAL: LF Ferrero – CF Tabata – RF Banfi – 1B R. Morales – SS McGee – C D. Hill – 3B Stedham – 2B Calfee – P Legleiter
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Catella – P Shumway

Tom Shumway logged seven outs before leaving with a mystery injury with Jesse Stedham on second base and one out. Chris Wise took over, but allowed an RBI single to Noel Ferrero, which turned out the first run in the game. At this point, Portland had no base hits; it would take until the fourth inning for them to get one, a Hereford single with nobody out, but Wallace on base after getting nicked. The bags were loaded when Legleiter walked Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, on four pitches. Elias Tovias popped out with three on and nobody gone, and Sean Catella grounded to first, where Roberto Morales was in a hurry to get a play on Wallace at home, but in his hurry, flung the ball behind himself and all paws were safe on the error, with the game tied. Now the conundrum – Nick Derks had been inserted for length, but now his spot was up with three on and the game tied. The Coons … left him in. He was probably going to strike out, and then Ramos still had another chance. Ramos did get a shot after Derks popped out, but rolled over to former Elk John Calfee to end the inning…

On the bright side, at least Derks seemed to cover the middle innings without having his ass semi-surgically removed and handed to him by the Wolves. They didn’t get anybody up in the fifth, or the sixth – that was, if Tovias hadn’t fudged Luigi Banfi’s 2-out roller. The error put the runner on, and then Derks hung a 1-2 pitch to Morales, who had some making up to do, and hit a double over Hereford, plating Banfi with the go-ahead run. A mound conference calmed Derks enough to get him to ring up Chris McGee to at least end the inning. At this point, both teams combined for as many errors (two each) as hits (3-1 for the Wolves). Tovias hit a single in the bottom 6th to break that tie, but no game-tying run came of it. Ricky Ohl, who was just plain old awful at this point, allowed an insurance run on a Luigi Banfi single with two outs in the eighth. Banfi scored a pinch-hitter who had hit a leadoff double – old Coons catcher Jing-quo Liu. Yes, he still had that deaf interpreter. Speaking of old Coons – Rin Nomura was in for relief in the bottom 8th. His stuff was basically all gone, and he had not gained any sort of command in exchange. He had allowed nine runs in 11 innings pitched so far. Jimmy Wallace reached with a single, Rich Hereford hit a real blast, and the game was tied at three just like that. After Howden popped out, Elias Tovias hit a blast the other way, putting the Critters up 4-3. The natural instinct now was to go to Boles, which instantly went pear-shaped. He walked Chris McGee leading off, then allowed a double to PH Brian Way. Nick Rozenboom hit for Calfee and hit a run-scoring grounder, which tied the score again – oh boy, another blown save! But the Wolves stuck with Nomura… he got Stalker and Nunley to begin the bottom 9th before Wallace hit a double to left. In an eerie flashback to Tuesday, Rich Hereford hit another drive to deep left. This one didn’t beat the fence; it did beat replacement leftfielder Fontana Condulmaro, though, for a walkoff double. 5-4 Critters! Wallace 2-4, 2B; Hereford 3-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; Tovias 2-4, HR, RBI; Rodriguez (PH) 1-1; Derks 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K;

Game 3
SAL: LF Ferrero – CF Tabata – RF Banfi – 3B Rozenboom – SS McGee – 2B J. Perez – 1B Stedham – C D. Hill – P Alva
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P Gutierrez

The Wolves were hitting rockets right out of the gate; Noel Ferrero opened the game with a double, but was caught stealing third base by Tovias, who then also knocked out Banfi in different fashion; Banfi hit a 2-out double, then came around to score on a Rozenboom single. There was an ugly collision at the plate, though, with Tovias’ knee burrowing into Banfi’s back as he slid around the catcher in contorted fashion. The run counted, but Banfi left the game with a back strain and was replaced by Condulmaro. Back-to-back doubles by Jon Perez and Jesse Stedham extended the Wolves’ lead to 2-0 in the second, and the fireworks were nowhere near stopping, although it took the Wolves until the fourth, where Rozenboom hit his third homer in the set and only the fifth on the season to extend their lead to 4-1. Rich Hereford hat hit another jack in between to usurp sole possession of the team home run lead from the upstart Jimmy Wallace, but the rest of the team would maybe want to chip in by now…? The measly Raccoons didn’t get their ducks in a row until the eighth inning, though. Alva was tiring when Catella hit a single with one out in Vanatti’s place, and then Tovias also chipped a single to center. Ryan Allan was already in the #9 hole after pinch-hitting the last time around (Stalker was gone with the pitcher in the #2 spot) and was now the tying run, but no power threat. And he also struck out. Ramos lined a single to left, Catella scored, and we would have a pinch-hitter as the go-ahead run in the #2 spot. That turned out to be Wilson Rodriguez. He flew out to center. Escapades had yet to end though; Mauricio Garavito pitched the top 9th, nailing back-to-back Wolves with two outs, both in 2-2 pitches. Ferrero survived no worse for wear, but Tabata came out in pain. Condulmaro grounded out to strand the runners. John Fees got through the Coons’ middle of the order without Herefordian heroics this time, and the Wolves escaped with a win. 4-2 Wolves. Ramos 3-4, RBI; Hereford 2-4, HR, RBI; Catella (PH) 1-1;

Raccoons (12-21) @ Canadiens (15-18) – May 16-18, 2031

The damn Elks were fifth in runs scored, eighth in runs allowed, and looked crummy all over. Which was still better than desperately clueless, I guess. The Coons would go north for the second time this year, and so far were undefeated with two wins and a postponement attained in Portland earlier in April.

Projected matchups:
Dave Martinez (2-1, 2.67 ERA) vs. Steve Corcoran (3-2, 2.73 ERA)
Ed Hague (1-1, 5.00 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (2-4 ,4.76 ERA)
Mark Roberts (2-3, 4.26 ERA) vs. Jeremy Truett (1-3, 5.79 ERA)

We would start off with the southpaw Corcoran, then would get two right-handers in the land of no love.

Meanwhile, still no news from the injury front as far as Tom Shumway was concerned…

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – CF Catella – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 3B Nunley – RF Rodriguez – 1B Howden – C Leal – P Martinez
VAN: CF Tessmann – RF Maiello – CF Wojnarowski – 1B N. Day – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – C F. Garcia – 2B L. Hernandez – P Corcoran

The Raccoons would score first despite a bad bunt by Martinez that forced Armando Leal at second base in the third inning. Ramos singled to right with two outs, and Martinez just kept running, powered by Odilon’s Word, and Odilon’s Breath, too. The surprised Elks defense didn’t get a throw off to third base, nor did they keep Ramos at first, and both runners scored when Catella dropped a ball well in front of Brian Wojnarowski. Martinez blew the lead immediately, Odilon’s Guiding Hand or not. He walked FOUR batters in a row with one out in the bottom 3rd, the top four in the lineup. T.J. Bennett hit a 2-run single, and another run would score on Matt Anton’s sac fly, putting the damn Elks up 4-2…

Wilson Rodriguez’ home run in the fourth inning pulled the Critters back within one, and when Leal hit a leadoff single in the fifth, Martinez hit into ANOTHER force on the runner. This time, nobody scored, despite another Ramos single. Top 6th, Hereford reached on a Lazaro Hernandez error, and Nunley singled up the middle. Martinez was not anywhere near to interfere with two on and nobody out, but they still didn’t score. Rodriguez struck out, Howden the dumb pig, hit into a fielder’s choice, and Leal flew out to Danny Tessmann. Martinez finished six innings on almost 100 pitches, then was hit for to begin the seventh, especially since we would want a southpaw for the bottom 7th and the top of the order anyway, and he ****ed up enough **** for a day, too! Baldwin was the only right-handed bat available, came out and smacked a single to right. Now Ramos hit into a fielder’s choice, as nothing continued to go right, and then he was caught stealing, too…

Top 8th, leadoff singles by Stalker and Hereford. Hey, maybe the umpteenth time was the charm! Nunley struck out, Rodriguez popped out, Jimmy Wallace batted for Howden, who was 0-for-3, and maybe we’d have more luck with this left-handed batter against the resilient Corcoran, who finally ran out of luck (although that would imply the Coons were not innately inept and you needed luck to survive them…) and conceded the tying run on a single to center. Portland took a lead, 5-4, on another Leal single to left-center, but after that Baldwin grounded out, stranding a pair on the corners. Bottom 8th, here came Ohl. Bennett single, walk to Anton, two on, nobody out. What the heck?? Fernando Garcia struck out, Hernandez popped out, and then PH Matt Dehne raked the first pitch to deep, deep left. Hereford ran back full speed, reached up, and SOMEHOW snow-coned a ball destined to make the Critters lose another game! Inning over! Rich ****ing Hereford! The bottom 9th and the top of the order went to Boles, who immediately set out to blow another game. Steve Gries, a 30-year-old right-hander with ONE career at-bat in the majors (an out) pinch-hit for leadoff man Tessmann, which was suspect to say the least. OF COURSE black magic was involved – Gries blasted the first pitch to center for a leadoff triple, and everything was falling apart once again. Maiello struck out. Nelson Millan spanked a 1-2 pitch at Nunley, which kept Gries pinned and produced the second out. Jesse LeJeune pinch-hit for Norman Day then, grounded a 1-1 pitch to first, where Ryan Allan was stationed and handled the pitch for the final out. 5-4 Blighters. Ramos 2-5; Stalker 2-5; Wallace (PH) 1-1, RBI; Leal 3-4, RBI; Baldwin (PH) 1-2;

Still no Shumway news by Saturday. I called the Druid in Elktown and inquired as to Shumway’s wellbeing. The Druid told me he didn’t know a Shumway. Who was Shumway? He was supposed to be on which ballclub? Then he hung up on me and never answered the phone again.

Too bad I’m on the Most Wanted List in seven provinces and two territories in the Land of Ice.

…and no love.

There WAS a roster move, however; Wilson Rodriguez was waived and DFA’ed after batting 1-for-13 and Matt Jamieson came off the DL and rejoined the team in Elktown.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Tovias – P Hague
VAN: LF Tessmann – RF Maiello – CF Wojnarowski – 1B N. Day – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – C F. Garcia – 2B LeJeune – P J. Martin

Jamieson came back with a first-inning single, but nobody reached besides him. Tessmann then hit a leadoff double in the bottom 1st, stole third, and came home on Nando Maiello’s sac fly. But the Elks also had a bullpen day going by the second inning, owing to an injury suffered by Joe Martin after he had logged only five outs. Really, though, what IS with Tom Shumway? For Martin it was shoulder discomfort, which could be anything from not missing the next start all the way to “and then his arm just came off”…

Hague continued to hang ****, and otherwise didn’t have any support either. Not by the offense, and surely not by the defense. Maiello hit a leadoff single in the bottom 3rd, and Brian Wojnarowski spanked a ball at Hereford, who threw wildly past Ramos, taking away a double play. Norman Day’s single loaded them up with nobody out, and nothing good could happen from here on out. The damn Elks got only one run because Nunley could handle a bouncer from Bennett for a double play that allowed Maiello to come home. Matt Anton flew out to center. The Raccoons got a run on a Jamieson homer in the fourth, then had Vanatti on with a leadoff single (rare enough!) in the fifth, and had him caught stealing. Everybody was getting caught stealing! On to the sixth, Ramos and Nunley led off with singles to right-center and left-center, respectively. That brought up Jamieson, who got into a 2-1 count against Chris Sinkhorn, who was very hittable as he headed towards retirement. Jamieson hit a 96mph fastball right down the middle, a booming homer to left, giving the Coons a 4-2 lead!

But Hague just couldn’t pitch with a lead… (or when tied, or behind…). The Elks got the leadoff man on in the sixth, couldn’t push through, then had Tessmann on with a leadoff double in the seventh. Hague got a pop from Maiello, then was yanked for Garavito to face the next two. He whiffed Wojnarowski, but walked Day on four pitches. Garavito hung around for T.J. Bennett, who hit a liner to center, but into the maws of Vanatti, ending the inning. With Ohl having done enough damage to the team’s chances in the last few days, the Coons turned to Wise in the eighth, resulting in a 1-out single by Garcia, a scorched liner by LeJeune right at Jamieson for the second out, and then Lazaro Hernandez pinch-hit for the pitcher, and the Coons picked up the offer and sent Hennessy, who got a groundout to end the inning *and* picked up an injury along the way and so the Coons had to use their third left-hander for the ninth inning, Boles pitching for the fourth time this week and the first three had already been outrageous. Tessmann grounded out to Nunley. Maiello flew out to Wallace. Wojnarowski took 1-2 at the knees and was punched out. 4-2 Coons. Jamieson 3-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI; Vanatti 2-3, BB;

Alright, the injury report came in on Tom Shumway, who apparently had biceps tendinitis and was going to be out for two more months? For a bit of biceps? To be honest, this sounded more like The Lazies…

I will have to have a word with both Tom Scumbag and the Druid.

No word on Hennessy, but there was a bit of a queue…

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 3B Nunley – CF Catella – 1B Allan – C Leal – P Roberts
VAN: LF LeJeune – C F. Garcia – CF Wojnarowski – 1B N. Day – SS Bennett – 3B Anton – RF Tessmann – 2B N. Millan – P Truett

Roberts struck out only one batter the first time through the order, but also didn’t let anybody on base; in fact, Roberts was the only base runner for either team the first time through, hitting a 2-out single in the third. Ramos then walked, Stalker singled to load them up, and Jamieson grounded out to Nelson Millan… Wojnarowski’s 2-out single in the fourth took away the possibility of a no-hitter, but Day struck out, and the game remained scoreless. Bennett (leadoff single) and Anton (infield single) reached base in the bottom 5th and even pulled off a double steal after Tessmann had popped out, but Millan hit another pop out against Roberts, who was on 52 pitches and didn’t really get many past anybody, and Truett went down on strikes to strand the runners.

The game finally left the no-score zone in the sixth inning, as the Coons went back to the basics; Ramos on, stole second, and scored on Jamieson’s single. Wojnarowski overran the ball to allow Jamieson into second, and the Coons loaded the bases, but then – basics, remember? – choked again and Ryan Allan grounded out to Matt Anton with three runners all over the bases to end the inning. With two outs in the seventh Ramos walked and stole another base after not getting one all week, but was left on when Stalker popped out. Bottom 7th, Mark Roberts had allowed only three hits in the game so far, but now the implosion came sudden and violently. Bennett single, Anton single, bullpen beginning to stir, Maiello double into the leftfield corner to flip the score, and before anything good could happen, for good measure also an RBI triple by Millan, extending the gap to 3-1. The Critters got three outs from Truett and via pop outs to keep Millan at third base, but the damage was obviously done.

Top 8th, Truett also sputtering and spewing oil. Jamieson flew out to begin the frame, but then Wallace singled to right, Nunley walked, and Catella dropped one into shallow left-center that allowed Wallace to score from second base, and the deficit was only one run anymore with two on and one out. Hereford now batted for the .184 blackout Allan, chucked a single to center, Wojnarowski had played deep and Nunley was waved around third base frantically, and for further motivation somebody through a piece of apple pie from the Raccoons dugout to the spot behind home plate. Nunley ignited the afterburners and crashed into home plate barely safe ahead of the relay throw, tying the game, then quickly scrambled for the piece of pie and retreated to a safe spot to dig his claws into the good stuff. The runners advanced on the throw home, giving Leal a prime chance to plate the go-ahead run now. Vanatti batted for Fleischer, but flew out to center, and we remained tied at three, which was also true once Garavito had seen off the 3-4-5 batters in the bottom 8th. Ramos grounded out to begin the ninth against closer Raul de la Rosa, but Tim Stalker ran into a fastball and BELTED it – homer to left, Coons in the lead!! However – there was no way Josh Boles was pitching after having appeared in four out of five games. We had only right-handers left otherwise, including Derks (nah…), Wise (hum!), and Ohl (oy!). The latter two had only appeared in one game each in the last three days, with Wise having pitched on Saturday, while Ohl had fudged up on Friday. Ohl it was, by the narrowest or margins.

Then he fudged up again. Matt Anton banged a double off the fence to begin the inning, instantly giving the Elks the tying run in scoring position. Ohl’s whiskers twitched nervously as he tried to get on the same page with Leal. He had Maiello 0-2 before allowing a liner – right at Nunley for the first out. Lazaro Hernandez flew to center on a 3-2 pitch, two down. And now … de la Rosa? In theory, David Fisher was left on the Elks’ bench, but he had labored all week on a knee contusion, and apparently he REALLY couldn’t bat. Their closer was at the plate. With two outs, and the tying run at second. He spanked Ohl’s first pitch to right, falling in, Anton around third, Wallace’s throw was ****, and the run scored, and we were tied… I fainted into my cushions at home, and when I regained consciousness the game was already over and some Fraser rerun was on. With no other means to find out the result of the game, I had to call Maud at home. She was not happy to hear me. – Why, Maud, I must know how the game ended! – What do you mean, Nick Derks pitched four hitless innings for nothing? – Who hit a walkoff triple? – Who is LeJeune again? – Off Wise in the 14th? – Why do you want to go to sleep, it’s… - What do you mean “it’s 2am”?? – Hello? – Hello? … 5-4 Canadiens. Stalker 2-6, HR, RBI; Hereford (PH) 1-1, RBI; Howden (PH) 1-1; Derks 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K;

In other news

May 13 – IND SP Andy Bressner (3-5, 1.87 ERA) 1-hits the Gold Sox in a 2-0 shutout. The only Denver base knock is a single by C/1B Jeremiah Brooks (.359, 1 HR, 15 RBI) in the second inning.
May 15 – LAP OF Justin Fowler (.292, 10 HR, 30 RBI) will miss two weeks with a sore shoulder.
May 17 – The Knights shed 2B/3B John Johnson (.250, 2 HR, 17 RBI), who will miss a month with back spasms.
May 18 – WAS SP Johnny Nelson (5-3, 3.13 ERA) 3-hits the Rebels in a 5-0 shutout. He strikes out seven.

Complaints and stuff

Jason Gurney, who had his ERA in AAA blossom to 6.14, would take the spot of Shumway for the time being. Then we will also need a replacement for Ricky Ohl because as soon as he moves his ass off the plane on Monday morning, I will tear his head off.

Uff. This could have been a 5-1 week, alas, Ohl happened, and ten other things that didn’t work out. Like the Shumway injury. Or the Hennessy injury. Speaking of which, I need to get the Druid on the phone. If only to yell at somebody.

Fun Fact: 21 years ago today, Jens Carroll of the Pacifics churned out six hits in a 15-7 win over the Stars.

This feat has gotten rare over the last few years! It was done 61 times between 1977 and 2025, when Terry Kopp dropped six on the Bayhawks while wearing the brown uniform. It has been done ONCE since. That was old, damn Elk Danny Tessmann against the Crusaders in ’29.
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:29 PM   #2900
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The week started with an off day on Monday, which didn’t mean that there was no drama. I tried to sort out more splendid news delivered by the Druid – John Hennessy had bone spurs in his elbow and was maybe out for the season – and a surprise early appearance by Nick Valdes, who repeatedly expressed his utmost concerns for the team’s blech start to the season. I had little choice but to nod and repeat every word he said to try to calm him, at least until he saw Maud walk in. She put a bowl with strawberries on the table next to the trusty old brown couch that had soaked so many tears and would soak so many more. The strawberries would completely absorb Valdes’ attention and after he gobbled in the bowl’s worth of berries on the table and was ready to start heckling me again, I asked for another bowl from Maud, calmly dropped berry by berry in a trail on the floor right into a walk-in closet in the hallway, where I put the bowl at the far end. Valdes went in, picking up berries as he went, and I slammed the door behind him and locked it.

Raccoons (14-22) vs. Crusaders (17-19) – May 20-22, 2031

The Crusaders had lost four in a row to drop under .500, and both teams were already more than ten games out of the first-place Loggers. The first-place Loggers. Always sounds weird. They were allowing the fifth-fewest runs in the CL, and were scoring the seventh-most. They were not near in the top in any notable statistical category. This was our first meeting with them in 2031. We got romped for 13 losses against them last year.

Projected matchups:
Jason Gurney (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Robby Gonzalez (1-3, 3.32 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (0-5, 5.82 ERA) vs. Chris Rountree (3-3, 3.10 ERA)
Dave Martinez (2-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. Mike Rutkowski (2-5, 3.00 ERA)

We expected the Crusaders to skip Keith Roofener (1-3, 5.82 ERA), which would bring Rountree into the middle game on Wednesday; he was their only left-hander. If Roofener was NOT skipped, we’d get the southpaw on Thursday.

There were three left-handed options in AAA to replace Hennessy with, which included previous nightmares Trevor Draper and Jeremy Moesker. Neither was on the 40-man roster; only David Fernandez was. The 25-year-old Minnesotan had been our fifth-rounder in the 2027 draft. He had more runs allowed than innings pitched in St. Pete this year, but we could not be all that picky right now… I repeat – Draper and Moesker…

Game 1
NYC: 2B M. Hurtado – 1B Fowlkes – SS Obando – CF Coca – RF Reardon – C Dear – 3B Czachor – LF Jo. Richardson – P R. Gonzalez
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – CF Vanatti – 1B Howden – C Tovias – P Gurney

The Raccoons remained rancid, leaving the bases loaded in the first inning after singles by Stalker and Nunley, plus Hereford getting nailed at 0-2, only for Joe Vanatti to strike out pathetically. Ramos was on base in the third, was caught stealing, and the early innings would not yield a run for us, while the Crusaders did get a marker in the second, which began with a Matt Dear double right through Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, and ended with a run-scoring groundout by Ryan Czachor. Guillermo Obando would double home Mario Hurtado in the fifth, 2-0, and it only got worse in the sixth. Dear hit a double off the fence to begin the inning, Gurney walked Czachor, and John Richardson dropped in an RBI single to make it 3-0. Gurney got a poor out from Robby Gonzalez, then was removed with nothing but right-handed bats anywhere near him. Fleischer got out of the inning without a complete meltdown, which was always worth mentioning these days… But any good impression had to be seamlessly erased; Fleischer walked the bases full in the seventh, and when he was yanked for Garavito to face John Richardson, the lefty hitter clubbed a ball up the middle for a 2-run single. But what did a few more runs for New York matter when the Raccoons couldn’t have had any less success at the plate if they had exchanged their bats for a pile of empty pickle jars? The Coons did get a run in the bottom 7th, but that was aided by a Tony Coca error that allowed Joe Vanatti to gain an extra base on a single. Jarod Howden scored him with a base knock, but that would be it for the inning. Bottom 8th, Robby Gonzalez and Chris Myers walked Nunley and Wallace, respectively, but Hereford couldn’t get the ball to drop in with one out, and when the Raccoons sent Matt Jamieson to hit for Vanatti to face the lefty Myers, the Crusaders sent a right-hander in Dan Lyke, who got the inning-ending strikeout. Down by a slam in the ninth, we called the major league debut for David Fernandez, who would face Richardson to begin his career. He would secure two grounders from Richardson and PH Chris Owen, then allowed singles to Hurtado and Pat Fowlkes. Another right-hander was up in Obando, who lined a ball right into Jarod Howden’s cup. Howden, the dumb pig, wincingly fell onto first base with the ball in the glove, which was good enough a third out for my taste. No Raccoons rally materialized in the bottom 9th besides a 2-out single by Sean Catella. Ramos popped out to Obando to end the game. 5-1 Crusaders. Nunley 2-3, BB; Howden 2-4, 2B, RBI; Catella 1-1;

Oh ****, who let Valdes out of the clo- – What is it? Whether we have more strawberries? Uh. Maud? – MAUD??

Game 2
NYC: 2B M. Hurtado – 1B Fowlkes – SS Obando – CF Coca – RF Reardon – C Dear – 3B Czachor – LF Jo. Richardson – P Roofener
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Nunley – RF Wallace – LF Hereford – C Tovias – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – P Gutierrez

Valdes left to inspect his rape factory in Walla Walla – I’m sure I misunderstood something there – but the 25-headed hydra of misery remained. Rico Gutierrez had a non-horrendous inning to begin Wednesday’s contest, and then the Raccoons would load the bases without making an out. Wallace hit a deep fly to right that looked outta here, but wasn’t, and wasn’t even in there, either. Wallace had to settle for a sac fly, scoring Ramos, and Hereford added an RBI single, but Tovias and Howden both popped out ineffectively. The Crusaders did the 3-base shuffle in the second with Rico Gutierrez having little to offer in terms of stuff and control, but Richardson’s fly was caught in shallow left by Hereford, and Roofener struck out for a nice change, which gave Rico Gutierrez all of TEN strikeouts in 40.2 innings this year. The Crusaders put two more on in the third inning, but one of them – Tony Coca – was caught stealing third base by Elias Tovias, who then also had one of the bushel of singles the Coons hit off Roofener in the bottom 3rd. Nunley and Wallace provided targets, and Tovias and Howden collected 2-out RBI singles to extend the lead to 4-0.

Rico Gutierrez pissed away almost all of that 4-0 lead in the fifth. John Richardson hit a leadoff jack before the Crusaders made two outs. Fowlkes then singled to center, Obando tripled to left-center, and Coca hit a clean single to left to get all the way back to 4-3 after four messy, but at least successful innings. In 2031, success was alien to Rico Gutierrez. It was not in his blood, or mind.

Bottom 5th, Nunley with a leadoff single against the reeling Roofener, and Wallace hit a ball to left-center for a double. Two insurance runs in scoring position with no outs – and the Crusaders did the sensible thing and walked Rich Hereford intentionally to doom the Coons with three runners aboard and nobody out. How were they supposed to score NOW?? Tovias hit a comebacker to get Nunley out at home by the narrow margin of about 60 feet. Howeden grounded to left, but past the reach of Czachor, who seemed to have been around for at least as long as Matt Nunley, but was actually only 34. One run scored on the single, and another one came home on Vanatti’s grounder to second when the the Crusaders failed to turn two on the Critters. Czachor spoiled a soft liner by Gutierrez to end the inning with a 6-3 score.

After dragging Gutierrez through the sixth, Chris Wise delivered a calmer seventh inning. He would make room for a pinch-hitter with one out in the bottom of the seventh after Victor Alvarez had just loaded the bags with Tovias, Howden, and Vanatti. He flew out to plenty deep right for a sac fly, and Ramos grounded out to strand a pair. Alvarez put Wallace on base with two outs in the eighth though, and the Crusaders just wanted to get the game over with without using another pitcher, but had to make a change when Alvarez hung a ball to Rich Hereford that was GONE and extended the lead to six, which also ended up being the final margin of victory. 9-3 Furballs. Wallace 2-3, BB, 2B, RBI; Hereford 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Tovias 2-5, RBI; Howden 3-4, 2 RBI;

That was the first win of the season for Rico Gutierrez.

Between the last two games, the Crusaders traded outfielder Drew Olszewski (.273, 1 HR, 10 RBI), who had not appeared in this series, to the Thunder for right-hander Matt Bosse (1-2, 7.88 ERA) and a prospect.

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

Howden and Ramos made errors in the first two innings, but it didn’t lead to measurable offense for the Crusaders, while after Hereford and Wallace reached base to begin the bottom 2nd, Tovias and Howden hit a pair of groundouts that advanced runners. Howden plated Hereford with the first marker of the game, and Wallace would come across on a wild pitch. Baldwin walked with two outs, advanced on ANOTHER wild pitch, but Martinez flew out to center to end the inning. Errors remained a topic in the game; Czachor fired badly on a Wallace grounder in the fourth, with the ball sailing well over the head of Pat Fowlkes at first base and into the stands behind it. The error came with Hereford on first base after a leadoff walk, so the Critters had two in scoring position with nobody down for Tovias, who became the first of three Coons to hit singles back-to-back-to-back off the unlucky Rountree. Tovias and Howden both got another RBI, and it was 4-0 with the bags full and no outs for Martinez, who fell to 1-2, but rather than just striking out he poked and grounded into a run-scoring double play, 5-0. Ramos grounded out to end the inning.

Dave Martinez continued to hold the Crusaders short. They had only three base runners in the first three innings, and added only two more in the next three, getting to third base only once through six frames. In the seventh Martinez walked two batters, both on only four pitches, but after Dear reached base to begin the inning, John Richardson hit into a double play. When Czachor walked, Abel Mora pinch-hit for the Crusaders. He was only a .207 hitter for the season and struck out to drop his average even further. The top of the order disappeared quickly in the eighth, and Martinez got to start the ninth inning with 107 pitches on the clock and a token reliever standing up and soft-tossing in the bullpen. But leadoff singles by Coca and Reardon ended the attempt at the shutout rather quickly. Fleischer came in, walked Matt Dear, three on and nobody out, and we sighed and simultaneously started to warm up Josh Boles. Fleischer got a run-scoring groundout from Richardson, rung up Czachor, and when the Crusaders sent left-handed Chris Owen to bat in the pitcher’s spot, Boles came in. Three pitches, three strikes, and a series win for the Coons! 5-1 Raccoons. Ramos 2-4; Wallace 2-3, BB; Tovias 2-4, RBI; Howden 2-4, 2 RBI; Baldwin 1-2, BB; Martinez 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, W (3-1);

This second W even moved us out of the cellar for at least the night; the Elks had dropped a string of games and were now in sixth place.

Raccoons (16-23) vs. Aces (13-28) – May 23-25, 2031

Five straight season series wins, including 5-4 last year, were on the line against the Aces. This team ranked second from the bottom in terms of runs scored, which was bad, admittedly, but not nearly as bad as their pitching. They had been completely blasted in the first quarter of the season, conceding the most runs by far, and about 5.4 markers per game. Their rotation was the absolute worst in the league, and the pen was still in the bottom three in the Continental League.

Projected matchups:
Ed Hague (2-1, 4.46 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (0-6, 6.37 ERA)
Mark Roberts (2-3, 4.24 ERA) vs. Andy Palomares (5-2, 3.77 ERA)
Jason Gurney (0-1, 4.76 ERA) vs. Jamie Klages (0-2, 3.16 ERA)

All righties for this weekend set; the Aces also had several injury concerns, currently had catcher Josh motley in injury limbo, and were without Jon Gonzalez, who had gone to the DL in April after batting .333 with two homers and was still no back from a partially torn labrum. The tear was said to be minor and he was expected back in early June. Well, he’s a first baseman. How often does he have to throw a ball?

Game 1
LVA: 3B Borchardt – LF Dunlap – RF Orozco – 1B Barrientos – C Pizzo – 2B Price – SS Schlegelmilch – CF Hatley – P Guyett
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Nunley – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 2B Hereford – 1B Howden – CF Vanatti – C Leal – P Hague

This game began with a threat of weather going to impede proceedings at some point down the road, but for now let’s stick to facts rather than forecasts. There were TWO guys in that Aces lineup that were batting at least .250 or more, Tom Dunlap and Ramiro Barrientos, and they made all three outs in the opening inning after Ed Hague and lapsed Joel Borchardt on base on nothing but balls, Dunlap grounded out, Ruben Orozco reached on an error by Jarod Howden, the dumb pig, but then Barrientos hit into the double play to get Hague out of “runners on the corners, uh-oh, this is going wrong”. In the bottom 1st, Ramos reached on a leadoff walk, then became the first guy caught stealing by Mike Pizzo all season long, which is also a nice badge to wear… Top 2nd, Pizzo led off with a single, getting his average all the way to .214, and after Corey Price and Ted Schlegelmilch made a pair of outs, Nick Hatley was walked intentionally to get the pitcher up with two outs. Guyett singled in a 3-1 count, plating Pizzo for the first run of the game. Joel Borchardt singled to left on 3-0, getting another run in, Dunlap singled to load them up, Orozco hit a 2-run single, Barrientos had an RBI single, and Pizzo had a 2-run double. At that point it was 7-0, Hague looked spooked, and the fans wanted his head and weren’t shy about it. So we removed him from the game and let the crowd know via public address system where his car was parked. They would sort that out to their own emotional fulfillment.

Nick Derks was in for what the rulebook described as “relief pitching”, but was neither one nor the other. He threw a wild pitch to move Pizzo to third before Price popped out to finally end the second inning, then threw another wild pitch in the third inning. That one came after a walk to Schlegelmilch and a 3-1 single by Guyett had moved runners to the corners, and thus allowed Schlegelmilch to score, 8-0. Derks was shanked after a walk to Borchardt and we went to Fernandez. The rookie struck out Dunlap, then threw ANOTHER pitch past Leal. Didn’t matter; he walked Orozco anyway. Barrientos grounded out to Nunley to end the inning. Fernandez would end up collecting eight outs without being charged a run, which was more than we had hoped for at this point. He was pinch-hit for in the bottom 5th of a 7-run deficit (Jimmy Wallace had gone yard in the fourth, but the park remained subdued, most fans being busy throwing more bricks through Hague’s windshield) and Howden and Vanatti in scoring position with one out. Ryan Allan pinch-hit, grounded out to score a run, but that was not how to keep a wannabe rally going. Ramos flew out, keeping the Coons down by six. Fernandez turned out to be the last Coons pitcher to log an out. Chris Wise appeared in the sixth, but only allowed a single before the rains broke over the park and it quickly got very, very wet, which was not good news for the leather seats in Hague’s battered sports car, although maybe the rain would put out the fire… The game went to a delay rather soon and was also called quickly with the forecast for the rest of the night being extremely dire. 8-2 Aces. Wallace 1-2, HR, RBI; Hereford 1-2; Howden 1-2; Vanatti 1-1, BB; Fernandez 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K;

This was the last game for Ryan Allan, who, batting .176, found himself on waivers by Saturday morning. If this disastrous series opener had gone the distance we would have needed a reliever, but besides Fernandez nobody was off limits for Saturday, and maybe stay away from Wise. Also, Roberts was probably our second-best starter now…? Maybe I should pray to Odilon more often.

Wilson Rodriguez was recalled from AAA after having batted .154 for the Coons in a brief stint earlier this year. He was at .267 with two homers in St. Pete.

The Aces meanwhile found out that Josh Motley (.225, 1 HR, 9 RBI) was done for the year with a broken kneecap.

Game 2
LVA: SS Baer – LF Dunlap – 2B Yi – 3B Borchardt – C Scheffer – CF Price – RF Crow – 1B Barrientos – P Palomares
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 3B Nunley – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Vanatti – P Roberts

Jimmy Wallace gave everybody something to cheer about with a 3-run bomb in the opening inning. Stalker and Jamieson had hit singles ahead of him. Mark Roberts kept all the Ace off Base the first time through, but struck out only Palomares, and had five balls hit out to Jamieson. None of them threatened to leave the yard, but he was also *behind* many of the hitters, so this was a perfecto bid to be rather suspicious about… it was also out the window by the fourth, where Tom Dunlap drew a 1-out walk, but that again was sandwiched by strikeouts, so maybe Roberts would actually be fine!

Palomares would take off the no-hitter with a 1-out single in the sixth, a soft liner that passed six inches over the desperately jumping Ramos’ glove, but that was the only other base runner the Aces garnered through six, although Roberts had also reached 87 pitches with a bunch of 3-ball counts especially early on. And no, the Coons’ offense had not gone home in the meantime… not literally, at least. But from the Wallace bomb through the end of six, they also only had two base hits and nobody remotely near scoring as the game steadfastly remained 3-0. Seven innings would then be all for Roberts, though. He fell behind to all four batters he faced; Philip Scheffer hit a 2-out single, but the Aces expired on a grounder and two pops, but Roberts was done with 105 pitches. The Critters finally tacked on a run in the bottom 7th on back-to-back doubles to right or right-center smashed by Jamieson and Wallace, which gave young Jimmy all the RBI in the game. This didn’t mean there was no trouble from here on out; Fleischer and Garavito did the eighth after a double switch that removed Wallace from the #4 spot, but Garavito put Todd Baer and Tom Dunlap on base to begin the ninth inning. The Coons went to Ricky Ohl now, with right-handers up although this was already a save situation – and the move worked out. In-chul Yi whiffed, Joel Borchardt grounded to short, and Ramos started the game-ending 6-4-3 double play. 4-0 Critters. Jamieson 2-3, BB, 2B; Wallace 2-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI; Hereford (PH) 1-1; Roberts 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, W (3-3);

Game 3
LVA: SS Bear – LF Dunlap – 2B Yi – 3B Borchardt – C Scheffer – CF Price – RF Crow – 1B Barrientos – P Klages
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Jamieson – RF Wallace – 3B Hereford – 1B Howden – C Tovias – CF Vanatti – P Gurney

Alberto Ramos’ stolen base success this year was not overwhelming to say the least; barely over 60% in fact. But he did get the team going in the first on Sunday, with him and Jamieson pooling together for a Ramos Special on a leadoff walk, second base being scooped, and Jamieson doubling down the leftfield line to get him in. While that was regrettably again all for the offense in the first round of pokes, Gurney at least pulled a Roberts and retired the Aces in order the first time through, whiffing a pair. Todd Bear opened the fourth with a single, but was stranded on three fly outs. With that we had already narrated half the base hits the game would see through six innings; Wallace in the fourth and Stalker in the sixth would land a knock for the Critters; neither came as far as third base.

Gurney was yanked after only 75 pitches when he allowed a leadoff single to Dunlap in the seventh, soon followed by a walk to Yi. The trouble was real, and we sent for Chris Wise to face Borchardt, but the Aces had pinch-hitters, too. They sent left-handed batter Andy Montes, who popped out over the infield. The switch-hitting Scheffer hit a bouncer to Hereford, but way too slow to turn two; the only out was made at first base, so the tying and go-ahead runs were now in scoring position. Now the Aces moved first and sent Nick Hatley to hit for Price, a move the Critters countered with Garavito, who secured an inning-ending grounder to Tim Stalker. Barrientos did hit a single off Garavito in the eighth (and that was a lefty batter), but Garavito got the second out from PH Ruben Orozco, then came a double switch. Ohl and Nunley in for Garavito and Hereford, and Ricky got a lazy pop to shallow center from Todd Baer to end the inning. Portland got nobody on base in the bottom 8th, so it would be only Josh Boles and the 1-0 lead in the ninth against the 2-3-4 batters. Dunlap took strike three. Yi bounced out to Ramos. Schlegelmilch swung three times and never hit anything. 1-0 Furballs! Stalker 1-2; Jamieson 1-3, 2B, RBI; Gurney 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, W (1-1);

In other news

May 19 – ATL CL Mike Greene (1-1, 3.46 ERA, 6 SV) is out for the season with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
May 20 – Nashville’s OF Federico Nuno (.222, 3 HR, 16 RBI) is going to miss two months with a broken hamate bone in his wrist.
May 21 – CIN 2B/SS Omar Maysonet (.220, 3 HR, 15 RBI) drives in four runs on three hits from the leadoff spot in a 14-3 whacking of the Capitals.
May 22 – TIJ SP Ethan Jordan (4-3, 4.05 ERA) 3-hits the Falcons in a 1-0 shutout.
May 23 – TIJ LF/CF Yeong-ha Sung (.325, 1 HR, 14 RBI) hits a home run for the only tally in the Condors’ 1-0 win over the Canadiens.
May 25 – Condors and Canadiens play for seven hours and 21 innings before the Canadiens walk off on a home run by Fernando Garcia (.223, 5 HR, 16 RBI) off TIJ MR Mike Simcoe (2-1, 1.86 ERA), the first tally in 14 innings. Three players go the distance and post oh-fers; VAN 3B Matt Anton (.254, 3 HR, 17 RBI) has the decency to walk three times while going 0-for-6, scoring a run early. The Condors’ Omar Camacho (.217, 3 HR, 19 RBI) walks twice, but goes 0-for-8, and his teammate and Friday’s hero LF/CF Yeong-ha Sung (.290, 1 HR, 14 RBI) makes nothing but outs in a grim 0-for-9 performance.
May 25 – The Capitals get shut out on two hits by the Gold Sox’ SP Ian Prevost (1-5, 3.35 ERA, 1 SV) and four relievers; the game goes 14 innings until it is decided by an RBI single hit by DEN OF Rafael Torruellas (.345, 0 HR, 8 RBI), 1-0 Gold Sox.
May 25 – A 2-hit shutout is etched into the record books in the name of TOP SP David Elliott (4-5, 3.93 ERA), who strikes out five Warriors in a 5-0 Buffaloes win.

Complaints and stuff

The Knights’ Kevin Harenberg was Player of the Week for the last seven days, hitting .379 with 3 HR and 7 RBI. He is .305 with 6 HR and 20 RBI on the year. And the Critters? Stuck with Jarod Howden, .266/.308/.333 and four errors. The dumb pig.

Signs of things falling apart that extend beyond the crummy team record and terrible individual statistics? Rich Hereford personally told me he was not okay with not playing every day, and I was supposed to fix that pronto for him, and Ricky Ohl expressed confidence that he could be the team’s closer rather than Boles, that loser boy. Let me see, you two twats have already blown eight saves between another this year. I think Slappy would be a better closer if he wasn’t that averse to even basic movement and if we could peel him off the couch!

Our run differential isn’t even all that bad… 160 runs scored, 168 runs allowed. But the rotation is at least two fifths nightmare, and it is hard to get into a groove when you have to brace for the worst almost every other game… Yeah, Rico actually won a game this week. But he can’t get ANYBODY out. He has *2.0* K/9 this season. TWO! If we’d throw any old position player in there they’d probably manage to get two strikeouts in nine innings! In fact, to further depression, let’s just list ALL of Rico’s strikeouts this season…

April 9 – Bot 13th – IND John Baron – swinging
April 9 – Bot 13th – IND Mike Cowan – swinging
April 13 – Bot 6th – OCT Jason Stone – swinging
April 20 – Top 3rd – BOS David Lessman – swinging
May 3 – Bot 4th – IND John Baron (2) – swinging
May 3 – Bot 5th – IND Mike Plunkett – looking
May 15 – Top 3rd – SAL Fontana Condulmaro – swinging
May 15 – Top 4th – SAL Mario Alva – swinging
May 15 – Top 5th – SAL Jon Perez – swinging
May 21 – Top 2nd – NYC Keith Roofener – looking

That is ONE strikeout looking against a batter (Plunkett) all year long. That is… wow. The only time he struck out somebody in his first inning was in his deep relief outing (which he lost) on April 9, where the Indians probably didn’t have him on his watch in the opening series of the season. Also, John Baron needs glasses real bad. But I will let the Arrowheads find out for themselves…

Joe Vanatti is just barely batting .200, which is another one of those sad stories about proven veterans ™ coming here and doing less than nothing. At least he has yet to run smack-dab into Jimmy Wallace for out slugging rookie to require a stretcher…

If you want to remember, Wallace came on last July in a trade that sent Jose Menendez and two “failed prospects” to the Buffos. The batter involved, Joe McFarlin, is batting .168 in AA; the lefty, Izzy Chavez, has a 1.10 ERA in AAA, but then again that is with 5.5 walks per nine innings…

Alright, the team will sleepwalk down I-5 next week, stop over at the Bay of No Mercy, and then will probably then be turned into more and more gloves and hats by the Condors on the weekend. The endless off days will cease after that; only two days off in all of June, and two more in July, not counting the All Star Game.

Fun Fact: Christopher Powell struck out just under three batters per nine innings in his last two seasons combined.

But he never was a strikeout master (his career K/9 is only 3.5) and nobody was expecting anything else from a 37-year-old groundballer at that point. His entire career revolved around surrounding him with good D and watch opposing hitters’ averages sag. He also never walked anybody (1.6 BB/9 career), and once led the league in WHIP. And he had the decency to shut out the Titans in his final career start, which I doubt Rico Gutierrez will achieve.

Old Chris’ 2.9 K/9 mark is not even the lowest for a Raccoons hurler in an appreciable amount of innings in a single season.

For example, in 2008 Kenichi “Winless” Watanabe made five starts for the Raccoons, all defeats, and struck out 2.8/9 in those 22 horrendous innings. The same decade, but in the dark days of 2000, Jose Rivera struck out just 2.5 batters per nine innings while being shellacked to a 5.77 ERA as a 27-year-old. He didn’t see 30 in a major league uniform, but you know the haunting parallel to Rico Gutierrez? Rivera had won the CL ERA title just two years prior!

Going back to the infamously terrible early-day Coons now. In 1981, Jorge Romero struck out 2.4/9 and walked 1.5 times as many.

The lowest mark I could readily come up with? Matt Huber, 1977. 21 games (18 starts) before being disposed of in the trade that brought Powell over here. He threw 101 innings, struck out 18. That’s a 1.6 K/9 mark.

Honorable mention to Kinji Kan, who the 1984 Raccoons traded to Oklahoma after they couldn’t repeat the mind-numbing success of ’83. Kan struck out 3.7 per nine before the trade, and only *1.8* afterwards, for a 3.0 mark on the season. But the low-balling did not take place in Portland, so he’s only the appendix here.

Second honorable mention: Jeff Magnotta, the Coons’ #18 pick in 2012, who never had a memorable amount of innings in a season, and only 47 innings for his 3-year career. He struck out 11 batters in those 47 innings, for a 2.1 K/9 career mark. He was out of baseball at 27, and sometimes you know why.
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