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Old 07-25-2012, 01:44 PM   #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orcin View Post
You are not in last place! You are only 2 games off the lead! You have money now.

Raccoon life is good!
The Raccoons dipped to last again on one occasion during the last two weeks, but see below.

By the way, all that money has been spent to get Nixon, Hermundo and the others on board and to improve our development program. We can not sign anything expensive anymore.

More about Raccoon life below. It's troubled, with Hawks and Falcons waiting for you everywhere. And sometimes a Logger.

-----

Gary Simmons, just called up, was thrown right into the fray to start for Powell, who was laboring his shoulder. Simmons starting had worked oh so not well last year, and - … Simmons committed two errors, walked in two runs, balked, and allowed ten hits before being pulled to be shot and buried beneath the clubhouse. The moron was sent right back to AAA. Raccoons lost 5-3, all runs on Simmons, after a late rally in the eighth fell short.

A new face came up to Portland, righty reliever Paul Cooper. He had spent the last three years at the AAA level and was … well, he was not worse than O’Rearden or Baker, so why not… (note the level of enthusiasm I have about my players) … Cooper made his debut in the middle game against the Indians, pitching a perfect eighth with a K, but again in a losing effort. Berrios had gone against Brunet, but neither was in no-hitter form. Berrios walked six(!) for a 3/15 K/BB ratio(!!) and was saddled with all the runs in the 3-1 loss.

Game 3 saw Logan Evans go eight innings with 3 H, 3 BB, 8 K, but received a no-decision leaving in a 1-1 tie. Bill Craig held it together and the Raccoons walked off in the tenth when Hermundo scored from first on a Nixon double with two out.

Next were the Oklahoma City Thunder (by the way, would you believe that I did not know that was a NBA team until accidentally stumbling over it in the Wikipedia three weeks ago?), whose 96 runs scored led the Continental League. We had a stunning 8-19 record against them since the ABL started play, tied with two other CL South teams, the Knights and the Falcons. Only the Crusaders (15-42) and Rebels (0-3) had held the Raccoons shorter.

Jorge Romero did a stellar job to open the series, going eight frames and took the 2-1 win. Gaston got save #4. But of course there was another crack in the picture, as Ben Cox was injured on a play and would miss six weeks with a hamstring strain. Henderson got in to start in LF. We tried something new in letting catcher Bocci bat from the leadoff spot. His .235 average didn’t seem much, but he walked enough for a .333 OBP. Simon moved to #5, switching spots with Sánz. The former was homerless with a .262 average, while Sánz had shot out of the gate to .354, 2 HR, 12 RBI line.

Bocci gave a very rude welcome to Ken O’Hoey, who made his majors debut for the Thunder, by slamming a home run to right center, his first for the Raccoons, to lead off the first. Bocci went 4-5 with the home run and 3 RBI in the game, which the Raccoons won 5-2. Christopher Powell surrendered a home run to cleanup Luis Lopez and things briefly derailed in a top 7th with two errors by the Raccoons, but overall Powell had things almost under control. His K’s were still way low, though.

All for nought. Berrios was wrecked in the first inning by the Thunder in game 3, allowing Luis Lopez to grand slam the Raccoons into submission before he ever recorded an out. The Raccoons never scored, while Berrios struggled through six innings, allowing all runs in the 6-0 loss. He was 0-4 with a 6.05 ERA now and actions had to be considered.

More problems. With Cox and Hall down, I now had four outfielders, three of which couldn’t hit a ball. There was also not really a replacement in AAA, except maybe for Ken Clark. He was 24 and had played at AAA since ’77, consistently raising his average. I had no choice, I couldn’t go with four outfielders for three more weeks and wait for Hall to come off the DL. Clark filled the last spot on the 40-man roster.

Logan Evans lost game 1 against the Knights on errors and the rain that chased him in the fifth. After a 53 minute delay Bill Craig blew the 2-2 game open, allowing three straight runners, but Evans was saddled with the loss in the 4-2 defeat. The Raccoons won game 2, 6-5, but neither Romero, who went 7.1 innings, nor closer Gaston, who allowed two runs, his first this season, had good outings. Bocci was 3-4 with an RBI, and Ken Clark had his first plate appearance, pinch hitting in the bottom 8th, drawing a walk, but he was stranded there. Romero was 4-1 now, leading the CL in wins, tied with OCT Ralph Hoyles.

Rubber game. Powell and Fernando Vigil engaged in a pitcher’s duel. The Raccoons led 1-0 early and Powell was two outs away from a 2-hit shutout, when Claudio Moreno took him deep to tie the game. With closer Jon Butler in for the Knights, the Raccoons didn’t see land until the 11th, when Dan Williams retired the first two Raccoons, but then walked Nixon and Sánz. Simon slashed one to left through the hole and Nixon dashed for the plate, clobbering into catcher Rod Fields and JUST beat out the throw, sending the Raccoons off with a 2-1 win!

That ended a 10-12 April, but the high note was the 5-2 stretch at the end of it. Now going against the last place Crusaders (what a downfall!), we’d use the off day before the series to make a small move. We’d skip Juan Berrios’ turn in the rotation to send Evans, Romero, and Powell against the Crusaders. Berrios would make an appearance out of the pen, trying to right him on a shorter assignment. Of course this would have to take place in the first game at best.

The Crusaders were 7-14. They always had had superb offense and average pitching, now they had average offense and struggled with their hurlers. Both rotation and pen ranked among the two worst in the league in ERA (compare that to the Raccoons’ 3rd place in starter’s and 5th in bullpen’s ERA; yes, we were last in offense).

So, Logan Evans went after Eric Edmonstone. Evans was rocked for six runs over four plus innings. Berrios came. He surrendered six more getting one out, including a grand slam. Raccoons lost 13-0 after that 10-run fifth inning, and landed only three hits.

I will let that sink for a while.

Romero again had trouble to find the strike zone and it ended in one bad inning that plated three. The game went to extra innings, where the Crusaders scored two against Justice in the top 10th. Johnston, who had doubled to lead off the bottom 9th but had not been scored, bashed one to right center for a 2-run double to tie it up once more. The Raccoons walked off when Nixon was hit by the pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom 11th, winning 6-5 for the team’s 200th ABL win. Johnston was 3-5 with the home run that tied the game at 3-3 first, and the double that tied it once again, and 3 RBI. Sánz was also still hot with a 3-4 day, hitting .337 now. Nixon was cooling off, after going .400 far into April, he was now down to .333. The rubber game had Powell in there, going against Bernard Lepore. Powell lost the pitchers duel, surrendering the lone run of the game in the seventh, Raccoons lost 1-0, lacking offense almost completely.

In other news:
April 24 – Juan Medine (.424, 4 HR, 20 RBI) suffers a strained hamstring. The Rebels will sorely miss his offense for about three weeks.
April 26 – Defensive shortstop Eddy Baily of the Canadiens goes down to a torn hamstring and will miss about a month.
April 30 – Capitals LF Chad White (.333, 0 HR, 7 RBI) is out four months with a torn abdominal muscle.
May 3 – Elbow tendinitis will sideline Oklahoma City’s ace Ralph Hoyles (5-0, 1.91 ERA) for at least six weeks.

We’re 74-95 in runs, which is again less than 3 R/G. Which stinks given all the money I shoved down people’s throats to pick up the offense. If you look at the pitchers’ WHIP stats you’ll notice that they are quite low across the board (except for Berrios, who’s a different topic). The Raccoons have a tendency this year to have that one awful inning that wrecks everything. Well, 3.8 RA/G isn’t bad, but coupled with the low offense it creates a losing record.

Berrios is of course well out of whack. He has options, and he is 29, but has no 10/5 rights. He *could* be sent to the minors. The issue? Nobody is here to call up. My AAA starters have posted these numbers: Orlando Gomez 2-2 with 4.54 ERA; John Hyde 1-1 with 5.14 ERA; Jose Nieves 0-4 with 6.75 ERA; and finally Roman Ocasio, who failed even at failing in the majors last year: 1-3 with a whooping 9.73 ERA!!

The only option would be Simmons, how sweet. Berrios will get a few more starts, whether he wants it or not, whether I want it or not.

The Raccoons will hit the road for the Loggers (4) and then interleague play with the Miners, will return home for only the Pacfics, and then embark on a 2-week road trip for the Indians, Titans (4), Aces, and Falcons.

By the way, Daniel Hall won't be back until the latter part of May on the 2-week road trip. Isn't it pathetic that I'm looking forward to the return of a .000 hitter? I still hope he will come around. He has power and speed, he needs to pick up his average and fielding.
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:37 PM   #62
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The Loggers had a good pen, but their starters ranked 11th in ERA, so: hit them hard, and hit them early. Loggers starter Eduardo Jimenez had nothing of it. The game was hitless through four innings, before jumping from 0-0 to 2-2 in the sixth. Evans left with a no-decision. Jimenez stayed until the eighth, where he was crushed finally. Johnston slammed a 3-run homer that made it 6-2, and was the game winner as Tony Lopez collapsed in the bottom 9th. Gaston came in and struggled to contain the fire. The Loggers scored three and old Wyatt caught a line drive whizzing through the gap that uncaught would have won the game in walkoff fashion for the Loggers. The Raccoons won 6-5, just barely.

Juan Berrios’ line in game 2: 3 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 2 R, 2 ER in 1.0 IP; then he left with the 6-0 loss and a back strain. Raccoons whiffed ten times and have stopped hitting altogether apparently with only 4 H for the whole team, of those three were by Bocci. Berrios raised his ERA to 7 flat and went to the DL for a few weeks. Nobody was called up. Simmons had the flu and nobody else could be put on the 40-man roster, which was full.

The Raccoons weren’t going anywhere in this series. Romero was out of control in game 3 and took the 5-2 loss. Pitchers and batters were completely out of their game now. I was making frequent lineup changes to no avail. The Raccoons only split the series with a 7-1 win in the final game because of Powell’s fine pitching (3-2 with a 1.96 ERA now) and because they got a couple of walks and the Loggers committed three errors.

The team had struck out 36-times over the 4-game series! That was more than just terrible, or horrible, that was … I don’t know, I might have to create a new word here. It was a pain to create a lineup. Sánz and Nixon were in slump mode now for a week or so, Simon has been since the season started.

Interleague play was up against the Miners in Pittsburgh. It was likely to become a series of misery against suffering, with the two teams ranking 12th in offense in their leagues. Of course, this meant 108 runs scored for the Miners. For the Raccoons it meant 89 (and we had played one more game than the Miners…), for 3.85 and 3.07 R/G averages, respectively.

The Miners gave a crap about those numbers, they rolled up the Raccoons 8-6 to start the series. Both starters were chased by rain after five. The Raccoons scored three on homers by Nixon and Simon in the sixth to put Logan Evans in line for the win, but this time the bullpen collapsed. Ben Jenkins was asked to pitch two innings, and allowed three in the latter that saddled him with the loss. Gary Simmons was pressed to start game 2, of course it was an epic fail. Miners won 8-2 and the Raccoons were dumped into last place in the CL North. They crushed Miners starter Dean Botts for seven runs in four innings, before crumbling. Gaston eventually saved a 7-4 win after O’Rearden and Justice had been tattooed. Romero wobbled through 6.1 innings with 7 H, 4 BB, 4 K to his fifth win.

(Strange coincidence: was watching the Royals-Angels game and played out game 2 of the series. Beach balls rolled onto the field in L.A. and in Pittsburgh within ten seconds of each other!)

The loss in that series meant that the Raccoons had one less team they had an overall winning record against, as they went from 2-1 to 3-3 against the Miners. Only the Cyclones (2-1) and Loggers (30-28) remain in that regard. They are .400 or worse against 16 of 23 ABL teams…

The 14-18 Raccoons hosted the 14-18 Pacifics now. Powell lost game 1 on a throwing error by himself that plated the unearned winning run in the fifth, Raccoons lost 2-1 and had only five hits. Simon was on third with one out in the bottom 9th and Costa and Henderson were unable to get him in, popping up and whiffing respectively. We wouldn’t have won the middle game either hadn’t the Pacifics walked in the run to tie it 2-2, and then nailed Nixon with a pitch to tie it 3-3 later. Sánz singled in the winning run following that and Gaston moved to 9/9 in the safe department.

This lucky win did something between special and strange: it moved the 15-19 Raccoons to second place in the CL North! The Canadiens, Crusaders, and Loggers were all tied at 14-18, and the Titans were 14-19. So I guess we should enjoy it as long as it lasted.

Chances were, with Gary Simmons to start the rubber game, it wouldn’t last long. He walked three in the opening inning, where two runs scored. Nixon and Sánz brought in runs to tie it in the third. Sánz was responsible anyway for a close game. He made no less than four catches ranging from awesome to you-should-have-joined-the-circus in the first four innings! The Raccoons scored two more in the fifth for a 4-2 lead, but when Wyatt Johnston was rung up on a pitch by David Burke that was far from being a strike, he argued intensely with the umpire and was tossed (he was eventually suspended for FIVE games, creating an opening for Hoyt Cook). The Raccoons held on from there and put up another run to win 5-2. Gaston went to 10/10 in saves/opportunities, but had trouble this time. The first three he faced were lefties and he gave up two hits. Zuniga made a sprawling catch for the tired Sánz, whom he had just replaced for his better range (and to get the spider webs off his legs from rotting on the bench). Gaston then struck out the next two righties coming up. This was Gary Simmons’ first ABL win, as he went all fives in hits, walks, and strikeouts over six innings.

In other news:
May 6 – Career over: Loggers outfielder Francois Dédé is forced to retire at the age of 25 after sustaining head injuries and a very bad concussion by crashing head first into the fence trying to catch a flyball. The Nova Scotian is left with a .297, 14 HR, 125 RBI line as well as post-concussion syndrome.
May 8 – Richmond’s Riley Simon has a 20-game hitting streak. The first baseman is hitting at a .386 pace!
May 10 – Rebel Mike Clarke pitches a 2-hitter against the Canadiens, completing a 2-0 shutout. At the same time, the Canadiens chilled Riley Simon’s streak at 21 games.
May 14 – Jose Salgado 3-hits the Scorpions as the Canadiens win 5-0.
May 14 – Oklahomas’ 3B Alfonso Aranda has hit in 20 straight games.
May 15 – Knights LF Armando Delgado sufferes a concussion crashing into base and will be sidelined a few weeks with his .337, 4 HR, 14 RBI batting stats.
May 15 – Richmond’s Mike Clarke throws back-to-back shutouts, this time blanking the Condors on four hits in a 2-0 win.

The draft pool was revealed today, May 15. The Raccoons will have the #1 pick thanks to our earthquake-flashflood-hellfire like 1979 season. After that we won’t pick until #68, so we should choose wisely. I will look at the pool later.

Next up that 13-game road trip going to Indianapolis, Boston, Las Vegas, and Charlotte. We will return home to play the Bayhawks on June 30.

Despite our win against the Pacifics in the rubber game, we lost second place due to an off day after the series. The Crusaders played that day and won, moving past us, so Raccoons won, still dropped in the division.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:47 PM   #63
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Went through the draft pool and earmarked 32 pitchers and 37 position players. Good news is that there are four to six very interesting starters in there (one with concering command and one with concerning stamina). Bad news: they all want insane amounts of drafting bonuses.

Those starters were:
Carlos Gonzalez, 17, POT 14/17/18, “Cy Young potential” asserted by my scouts (OSA is a little less enthusiastic)
Kevin Williams, 20, POT 12/17/14, “Cy Young potential” as well, OSA thinks different
Jorge Valdes, 23, POT 13/16/12, also “Cy Young potential”, and OSA once agrees
Greg Cain, 18, POT 11/18/11, scouts ran out of the Cy Young thing, so he got a “dominant hurler” stamp; OSA agrees
Larry Heller, 21, POT 12/19/10, poor Larry does not get a hysterical label at all
Terry Reynolds, 21, POT 16/17/17, stamina only at 6, labelled “superstar” by my scouts, OSA thinks different

Of these, Heller is the only one willing to sign for $250k, all others demand $600k or more. I will probably pass on Reynolds due to the stamina problem. In 15 college games he’s gone 91 innings, but college is college and the Raccoons are terrible anyway. Bust be our furry hats and the striped tails getting in the way when batting or pitching. I think at the moment it is between Valdes, Cain, and Williams. Gonzalez wants $1.24M, that’s much too much for a potential bust.

There are only two position players worth considering to take for the first pick, plus one reliever: Matt Sims had a 19/20/14 potential and good stamina, and could be a stretch as a starter.

The fielders are SS Scott Alexander with good defense and a big bat, outfielder Diego Rodriguez with average defense, but speed and a giant bat with enormous power. But none of those are worth to forego a top notch starter. The Raccoons system *needs* a top notch starter.
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:34 PM   #64
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Jorge Romero started the Indians series and threw six shutout frames, then was saddled with six unearned runs in the seventh. Ralph Nixon committed two throwing errors in the inning, wrecking a 2-0 lead, and three errors in total in the game and was benched in the same inning for Hermundo. Raccoons did not recover from that blow and lost 6-2. Nixon homered in the first inning in game 2, but later committed another throwing error, this time without damage. Christopher Powell was dominant and fell two outs short of a shutout, then surrendering a solo homer to Jose Encarnacion. Bocci was 4-5 with 2 RBI, Cook bashed a 2-run homer, and the Raccoons won 7-1. Powell fanned five and allowed six hits and no walks, and now led the league with his 1.77 ERA. He only trailed Juan Correa in the Federal League, who was starving opponents to a 1.64 ERA tone pitching for the Scorpions.

Daniel Hall came off the DL for game 3. Whom to send down? To replace Hall and Cox I had brought up Henderson and Clark, but those were actually producing. Zuniga and McFarland were batting far below .200 – it hit McFarland, who was sent to AAA to make room for Hall, who was put right back into the lineup for Henderson, and was slotted to #7, where he would be able to improve his .000 average. He went 0-3 in the rubber game, which the Raccoons lost 2-0. Nixon committed two more errors! What was wrong with that guy!?

Nixon wasn’t hitting either. He was benched. Six errors in three games was shocking, to say the least. Hermundo came in and Costa and Simon were realigned. Nixon basically cost two games now and I had no idea why he wasn’t able to throw balls anymore. He had 11 errors on the season, so he had been messy before, but now it was outright awful. It wasn’t the fact that Cook was playing for the suspended Johnston. He messed up a shuffle to Costa at second as well. Why, oh why…

Strange thing of the week: the 17-21 Raccoons played a team with a worse record, the 15-23 Titans. That doesn’t come around too often.

The series opened with a 7-3 loss, in which Gary Simmons allowed a total of six runs over six innings. He only had two scoreless frames. Daniel Hall had his first hit of the season, singling up the middle in the top 9th. Romero then went four no-hit frames against the Titans, then blew up with six hits (and two fielding errors by Hall and Johnston) for a 5-run fifth. Why, oh why…! The Raccoons lost 6-3, never recovering from that blow. Only one run against Romero was earned.

This of course tied up the Raccoons and Titans (and who hadn’t seen this coming?), with two left in the series. We would try Nixon at 2B instead of Costa. With the distance two 1B shorter, maybe he would only commit two errors per 3-game series……

Ben Simon pulled his back in game 3 on a play. Simon had so far played in every Raccoons game (at least as pinch hitter), this streak was now in danger, although we only listed him as day-to-day. Powell pitched eight, surrendering a home run to Francisco Dominguez, before the Titans walked off 2-1 again Jenkins and O’Rearden in the ninth. Nixon flubbed one ball for another error. This left game 4. Evans got behind 2-1 early and struggled with command, going to 3-ball counts routinely. He walked only two, but needed 111 pitches through five innings. The Raccoons scored two each in the seventh, eighth, and ninth, and Gaston came in to get some work with a 7-2 lead. He gave up two home runs for a 7-5 result… Simon grounded out pinch hitting in the eighth, keeping his record of appearing in all Raccoons games intact.

Horrible pitching meant a 7-3 loss to open the series in Las Vegas. Simmons sucked, O’Rearden sucked even harder. And that 7-3 also included two Aces runners thrown out at the plate by Sánz and Hall. Romero then surrendered two 3-run homers the next game and went down in the 8-2 loss (he still pitched seven plus). He’s crashed from 5-1 to 5-5 now with an ERA up to 3.33 …

Nothing was working. The lineup was juggled completely for game 3, I went with CF Clark – SS Hermundo – 1B Johnston – RF Sánz – 2B Simon – LF Hall – C Bocci – 3B Clement – P. Right, Nixon was out completely. He couldn’t even make 2B work all of a sudden. In was Clement who like Costa hit sub .200 and surely would be a big help.

Game 3, and the lineup worked wonders … except that it didn’t. Travis Newton no-hit the Raccoons for eight innings until he was completely exhausted and couldn’t throw strikes anymore. Powell had pitched 7.1 scoreless (albeit with eight hits, no walks, no K’s), and Justice had retired two lefties, so the game was still scoreless into the ninth and Newton was yanked. Marvin Newton came in, got two, then walked Hall. Bocci shot a drive to right, breaking up the combined no-hitter with a RBI double after 26 outs. Gaston tumbled through a rocky bottom 9th to record the save. So, this was the most awkward game I’d seen in some time…

Powell’s ERA was down to 1.53 despite a shaky outing. Six of the eight hits had been singles and two timely double plays had aided him as well. Ralph Hoyles was closest in the CL with a 1.91 ERA. Juan Correa still led the FL, but was up to 2.06 there. Yet, Powell’s record was 4-3. He received zero run support, with the Raccoons scoring 3.0 R/G when Powell started, down even from their paltry 3.18 R/G overall. Most interestingly, Powell had an ERA of 1.53, but this was his first game without a run allowed in 11 starts! Four times the Raccoons had scored him five or more runs, the other seven times they had given him two or less. He had allowed exactly one run nine times, and four in a loss to the Condors in April. He had gone six innings nine times, and seven innings seven times. Despite his lack of stuff and problems to get K’s, at the moment he was the best player on the pitching staff, and maybe the whole team.

The Falcons were left to compete against on that road trip (and also the last CL team to go against for the first time this season). They had superb pitching, so I wasn’t expecting much from my lame-duck offense.

The Raccoons expectedly were shut out to start the series. Evans went seven with poor command but scoreless. Jenkins was saddled with the loss when the Falcons walked off. With Cordell Atkins at second and two out, Bryan Stephenson singled to left. Hall picked up the ball, Atkins raced for the plate, and Hall through it mile past Bocci. We still out-hit the Falcons 4-3, for nought. So that made back-to-back 1-0 games. One that we won, but didn’t deserve to, and one, that we lost, and shouldn’t have.

The next game would not be 1-0, that much was guaranteed. Juan Berrios was ready to come off the DL, but I really didn’t want him in the game right now. He was sent for a rehab assignment to AAA. Simmons’ turn was up, but he was horrible. I didn’t want to, but I sent in Tony Lopez once again. The lineup was also changed again, switching Simon and the slow-footed Johnston in #3 and #5. Hermundo was dropped to #7 and Bocci brought up again. This was a work in progress, and probably a futile one.

Five innings from Lopez with three runs in, I would have been fine with it. He did exactly that, but it was far from pretty, as he walked five and plunked one. He took the 3-2 loss. Joe Ellis went eight frames for the Falcons and tied the CL record for strikeouts in a game with 13. The Raccoons were swept with a 6-2 loss in the last game. Romero was ineffective again. He had been 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA in April. In May this had turned inside out to a 1-5 record and a 4.43 ERA.

Oh, just what to do …! I got a message from Ralph Nixon complaining about his role as a luxury pinch hitter. Well, Ralphie, get your **** together and you’ll play, now get off my back, for fur ball’s sake.

The Bayhawks came to Portland to end this month, which had not been kind. The Raccoons were now where they always were, last in the CL North. The Raccoons had lost 9 of 11. The Bayhawks were playing .500 throughout. I could mention their solid rotation and weak bullpen which he should better get to quickly, but with a team averaging 3.06 R/G … why should I bother mention it?

With Daniel Hall (.167 / .352 / .214 – nicely skewed statline) in leadoff we’d play the Bayhawks. Powell pitched in game 1 and was wrecked for two homers and five runs over seven innings. The Raccoons trailed 5-1 in the bottom 9th, when runners began to reach base. Ken Clement, who had entered in a double switch in the #9 spot, found the bases loaded with one out. Ed King balked and a run scored, then walked Clement. Hall was up and walked, another run scored. Clark struck out and Simon dashed one to right. Henderson and Clement came in to score and tie it, and Hall ran against Rafael Lopez’ weak arm – and was thrown out. The bases were loaded again in the bottom 10th with one out. Kieran Lawson came to pinch hit for righty Bill Craig. He lobbed one over the head of Manuel Flores to send the Raccoons off with a 6-5 win.

In the eighth and top 9th inning of that game, I was about to quit this game for good. Jenkins couldn’t get out of the ninth and Justice got a lucky out, and Powell had been wrecked, and they were scoring NO runs whatsoever…

Evans’ struggles with command continued in an ugly way. He walked three in the first inning for the second time in a row, and walked five in his short five-frame outing. The Raccoons tied it 4-4 in the bottom 5th to get him off the hook. Paul Cooper (and later Ben Jenkins) continued where Evans had started and the Bayhawks scored two unearned runs in the top 6th. Cooper’s ERA was still 0.00 in 16 IP, but his command was lacking. Raccoons pitchers walked a total of nine batters in the game and we lost 8-5. Johnston was 3-4, that was the first offensive performance worth mentioning in some time.

Stephano Bocci’s 2-run blast in the bottom 8th was all the scoring in the rubber game. The unlikely combo of Simmons and O’Rearden had combined for eight shutout innings, Gaston got his 12th save. Bocci had three hits, which made up for 60% of the Raccoons’ offensive output.

In other news:
May 19 – Alfonso Aranda ups his hit streak to 25 games with a 2-hit performance in a 5-1 win of Oklahoma City over Tijuana.
May 22 – Aranda goes 0-4 and stops at 26 games of hitting, as the Thunder lose 6-4 to the Condors.
May 23 – Aces catcher Tony Clark goes to a 20-game hitting streak.
May 23 – Rebels 1B Irwin Webster has also hit in 20 straight games.
May 28 – As Clark and Webster race against each other, Webster’s streak is over first as he is shut down by the Dallas Stars and strands at 23 games of hitting.
May 29 – Tony Clark won’t go any farther, the Canadiens chilling him and ending his streak at 23, too.
June 1 – Juan Medine barely had come back into the Rebels lineup, now he is already out for the rest of the season with a torn back muscle.

Powell (1.94) no longer leads the league in ERA, that is now – with 1.81 – Gary Simmons. That’s right. There are two pitchers named Gary Simmons. This Gary Simmons pitches for the Milwaukee Loggers. He first entered the majors last year, going 5-11 with a 4.73 ERA, but now is 7-3 and fairly dominant.

After 10-12 in April, we tanked it to 10-18 in May. The Raccoons are their usual selfs. Up next was a trip to Oklahoma and New York, then a homestand against Vancouver and Cincinnati. The road part of that interleague week would bring the Raccoons to Dallas.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:22 PM   #65
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Angel Costa was the #8 hitter and currently playing 3B, but he produced a lot of offense, going 3-4 with 2 RBI to start the series in Oklahoma City. Romero got his first win since ancient times as the Raccoons battled through to a 4-2 win. Gaston had a 1-2-3 save. Game 2 had the Raccoons lead 3-0 early, but Powell crumbled in the fifth and left after seven with a no decision. Still tied in the bottom 9th, O’Rearden loaded the bases with nobody out. I was already sharpening my knifes to mutilate him. He got lefty Gary Reed to dribble the ball to the mound, and Joe Howard was thrown out at the plate. With the heart of the lineup coming up, Wally Gaston entered the game in the hope, he’d fan one. The Thunder sent Carlos Velazquez, a lefty, to combat Gaston. Velazquez lobbed the first pitch he saw to left. Hall caught in in short left, and Orlando Torres made a sprint for the plate. Hall drilled in the ball and Bocci knocked Torres out at the plate. Extra innings. Gaston narrowly avoided to lose it in the tenth. The Raccoons scored one in the 11th and now it was on mopup Tony Lopez to save it. He pitched a perfect inning with 2 K’s.

The Raccoons were eager for a sweep (and were due to finally achieve one anyway). Logan Evans pitched and had a 3-0 lead in the bottom 5th with two down and a runner on first. Ralph Nixon threw away a slow grounder to him that awarded the Thunder two bases. Evans struck out Joe Howard to get through the mess. From there it was mostly smooth sailing for a 7-1 win and the sweep. Johnston was 3-4 with an RBI. This also clinched the season series against the Thunder, now at 5-1, and that against the team that currently had the best record in ABL baseball.

We also had four wins in a row, tying our best streak since 1979. The Raccoons had never won more than seven in a row to start the 1978 season. And you know how that ended.

We had an off day before we faced the Crusaders and used it to skip Simmons in the rotation. Romero pitched in game 1, where we also met Kevin Hatfield again, who pitched the sixth and seventh after Matt Lee had left with an injury. Hatfield allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. He picked up the win when Romero was clobbered in the bottom 7th and took the 3-2 loss.

Who’d win a matchup between a 2.09 ERA pitcher and a 5.95 ERA pitcher? The first was Powell, the latter was Kyle Owens. Raccoons lost 8-2, five runs on Powell, who was officially no longer good and had entered the Suckers’ Club again. A painful seventh inning plated four with a few walks, a wild pitch, and a Nixon error, and it send O’Rearden to the minor leagues. He and his 5.64 ERA were no longer needed here.

We played the last game one man short, the plan was to give Berrios another AAA start, then recall him, move Simmons to the pen and banish another one of the failures to AAA. Bill Baker also came off the DL and was assign to rehab in AAA.

The Crusaders finished off the Raccoons 7-3 for a sweep. Logan Evans walked five and was awful. As were all Raccoons. They should be called the Portland Awfuls. I will look whether I can change the name.

The Crusaders on the other hand had by now shot from last to first in the CL North. Must be that their errors numbers are down now that I sucked up Nixon.

Juan Berrios had posted a 1-0, 2.45 ERA mark in two AAA starts. Add a run and 3.45 would do fine enough. His 7.00 ERA in the majors was burning in my eyes. He was however not available for the Canadiens series. Gary Simmons would make one last start, and then Berrios would take the #4 spot in the rotation. The next few days we had to decide on a right-handed reliever to be sent down. The Canadiens series was a key matchup now as well. If we won it, we could still have a shot at a .450+ season. Another sweep and we’re gone.

We opened with a 4-2 win on just six hits, but Simmons had a good last outing with only one run over seven innings. Gaston surrendered a solo homer in the ninth, but still is 100% in save opportunities (he has 14 SV now). We took the series in game 2 with a 3-2 walkoff win in the tenth. Romero had fallen 2-0 behind, but the Raccoons had clawed back in. Ken Clark was the match winner, going 3-5 with two RBI, including the tying solo homer in the seventh and the game winning RBI single in the 10th inning.

All for crap. Powell left with an injury in the fourth inning in game 3. The Raccoons held a tender 4-3 lead, which Tony Lopez - … there is no word to describe it. He was tattooed for five runs and the Raccoons lost 8-5.

Wally Gaston signed a 3-year contract for a total of $351k. This sounded like a reasonable amount of money for a closer or setup guy. Gaston would almost certainly be the setup in the future, with Grant West in AAA showing all signs of a top notch ninth inning guy.

This left the Cyclones before the draft. The Cyclones had just lost their ace for the season and the rest of their rotation was not as crisp. They however had raw firepower, scoring 334 runs already. The Raccoons had 194.

Well, that rotation. Jack Pennington shut out the Raccoons on four hits, while Logan Evans walked seven and was mangled in the 8-0 loss that started the series. Justice walked four as well in just 1.1 innings. He had not gotten much work so far this year and it showed in some rust on his pitches. Bill Baker was getting some workout in AAA, he would rejoin the team within a week for that second lefty in the pen. Then I was working on the acquisition of another starting pitcher, cutting some dead weight.

And then we waived Ken Clement and designate him for assignment. Signed this winter, he was .143 with the bat. Cameron Green was called up and placed in 3B and #8 in the lineup for game 2. This was a matchup of Juan Berrios (0-5, 7.00) and John Vogler, who made his major league debut for the Cyclones. Berrios walked four in a 4-run first inning. He walked four more in the second and was gone, 5-0 down.

The Raccoons walked a total of 19 batters in the game and went under 12-1. Berrios 2 IP, 8 BB. Simmons 4 IP, 6 BB. Lopez 1 IP, 4 BB. Jenkins 2 IP, 1 BB.

In other news:
June 13 – Cyclones starter Jesse Thompson is down with a torn labrum. His 8-2, 2.96 ERA season is over.
June 13 – The Gold Sox acquire LF Jorge Reyes, batting .382 with 4 HR and 17 RBI and still not playing regularly with the Scorpions, sending reliever Ken Herbert and a minor leaguer to Sacramento.
June 14 – The Warriors trade backup outfielder Mitsuharu Yamada to the Rebels for two minor leaguers.

This sucks, and this game is out to get me, I quit. This game is no fun in any way.
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:35 PM   #66
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You know what has bugged me the last two months? I never finished that miserable series against the Cyclones. That 19-walks game was game 2 of it. There was one left. I have thought about that repeatedly.

By the way, some numbers. You know the record for walks by a pitching staff in a 9-inning game in MLB? I looked it up the night the Raccoons went down in that fashion? You know the last time a pitching staff has given up 19 walks in a major league baseball game?

Well, you can’t, since it has never happened in MLB in the 20th or 21st century. I don’t know the numbers anymore, but the NL record is 17 established some time in the 1930s or so, and the AL record is 18 (or the other way round, I don’t care). You have to go back to 1887 to find a majors game, where over nine innings, the staff walked 19. So much for the Raccoons.

By the way, Christopher Powell was out two weeks with elbow tendinitis, blowing up my rotation for good. I disabled him and called up Roman Ocasio, who sported an ERA of almost 5 in AAA – but that was best among starters there. Talk about a horrible team. I also banished Tony Lopez to AAA, and called up a righty long man in Carlos Moran, 25, with strong stuff, but control issues.

Just get that one game in here. Jorge Romero (6-7, 3.47 ERA) started it against young George Harris (2-5, 5.92 ERA). Realistic chances here? The Raccoons led 1-0 after the first, before Romero surrendered a homer to SS Tom Milligan (a sub .200 hitter with zero long balls this season) in the second. Romero was everything but sure-handed, as he went seven frames of 5-hit, 1-run ball, adding a hit batter and a wild pitch that created a few scary plays in the fifth and seventh innings with a 2-1 lead for the Raccoons. Craig and Justice got somehow through the eighth and Gaston saved it. Hall was 3-4. Green brought in Johnston in the bottom 4th, but did not get the RBI due to an error by the Cyclones.

Here we are, series over. This brings down our all time record against the Cyclones to 3-3 and .500 thus. This leaves the Loggers as the only team we are above .500 at a slim 30-28.
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:23 AM   #67
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1980 AMATEUR DRAFT

The horrible 1979 season the Raccoons laid down had one good to it: it gave us first choice in the draft this year. There were a couple of potential star pitchers in the draft. They all demanded a truck full of bucks to sign. Catchers and outfielders were sparse overall, while there were many relievers and infielders worthy. But I had tons of those. I had to decide between four of five starters from my shortlist (which was not that short). And it better be a good decision, since we forfeited our second round pick to the Crusaders for signing Ralph Nixon (or was it Hermundo?).

Round 1: SP Carlos Gonzalez, 17, from Peoria, AZ, superb numbers projected all across the board, and my scouts drooling all over him
Round 3: SP Ray Willis, 20, from Monterey, CA, could be a solid end-of-rotation guy one day, but his stuff needs to pick up quickly for that
Round 4: 1B/2B Darren Campbell, 22, from Philadelphia, PA, a solid hitter and fielder but without power
Round 5: LF Jose Perez, 21, from Chihuahua, Mexico, a good hitter, but his defense is a bit challenged
Round 6: C Christian Billings, 21, from North Las Vegas, NV, solid throughout and with a chance to make the majors as a backup
Round 7: 3B/1B Kevin Schultz, 21, from Winsted, MN, not much to say about a good fielder with a small bat
Round 8: MR Drake Crookshanks, 21, from Santa Ana, CA, minors filler
Round 9: CL Matt Parker, 17, from Spring Lake Heights, NJ, minors filler
Round 10: SP Felix Acosta, 17, from Comonfort, Mexico, A level forever

I shoved down more than a million bucks Gonzalez’ throat to get him. That’s right, $1.24M for a guy that’s not even old enough to drink beer legally. All the starters I contemplated over and the lone two powerful outfielders were gone by pick 7. My other eight picks signed for slot. I just trashed my budget big time here. All were assigned to A level.

This ballooned my minor league teams again and it was time to cut some weight. The following players were axed immediately (there are very few names on the list that were mentioned before):
MR Andre Dupond (1978 round 9 draft pick, awful)
MR Gonzalo Torres (1978 round 10 draft pick, more awful)
MR Carlos Yanez (at A level since ’77, has not even pitched yet this year with a crowd of relievers at A level)
MR Rusty Frazier (pitched in AA three years, was demoted to A and has not played there yet (like Yanez))
C Josh Case (1977 round 9 draft pick, had never gotten above A level and was batting .079 this year)
C Mike Young (spent three years at AA, but is now parked at A as #4 catcher; with Billings drafted, there is no place on the bus for him)
LF/CF/RF Norberto Perez (since hitting .300 in A in ’77 he has steadily declined)
LF/RF Robby Davis (he actually bounced between AAA and the majors every year from ’77 to ’79, but at age 21 has degraded so much, he’s not even cutting it at A level; he was a career .212 batter when in the majors)

We also waived C R.J. Sanderson at AA level. Sanderson was backup catcher for the Raccoons for some time, but he’s not getting the job done at any level and has to go someplace other than my 40-man roster. In addition to that, about 20 players were moved from one level to another, up or down. I settled with 88 players across my three minor league teams, plus Ken Clement and Sanderson on waivers.

When I look back at my 1977 draft class, of the first eight draftees, six play at AAA, and one (Daniel Hall) plays in the majors, albeit badly. There are some promising relievers in there, but what I need most are starters and one or two big bats. I have some promising starters in the pipeline, but they won’t be ready for another year or so.

I am also using a four-man rotation, still. It would be better to go to five, but whom to pitch!?
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Old 10-06-2012, 12:38 PM   #68
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We completed the second week of interleague play with a series in Dallas with the 28-34 Stars. Roman Ocasio was sent out for his first majors start of the year, and he was pretty wild, walking four in 5.2 innings. He got a no-decision. The Raccoons lost 3-2, when Paul Cooper surrendered his first earned run, a solo jack to Davis Rigsby in the eighth. A ninth inning rally ended with Hall on third base, when Nixon lined out to right.

The next day brought a call from the commissioner’s office that the Salem Wolves had claimed Ken Clement. Get happy with him. He had been batting right around .215 with the Bayhawks, but .143 with the Raccoons in limited backup duties.

Logan Evans started game 2 and was even wilder than Ocasio, walking four in 4.2 innings. He had big problems to throw strikes at all, and the Stars were still happily swinging at 2-0 pitches. Still, we trailed only 3-1 when he left, then batted around the order in the eighth for a 4-3 lead, and then batted around again in the ninth, this time for six runs, including two triples (Hall and Simon), a double steal (Clark and Zuniga) and some fine hitting. Gaston delivered a 1-2-3 ninth in what was not a safe situation of course, as the Raccoons won 10-3. Carlos Moran, called up just two days ago, got his first win after he had finished the seventh. It had been three months and one day since the Raccoons had last scored double-digit runs in a game, then in a 12-2 win over the Bayhawks.

Game 3 saw Juan Berrios with his 0-6 record and 7+ ERA. He sucked big time, somehow got through two, but then, staked to a 4-0 lead in the third, imploded and was sent for the showers. Gary Simmons made it worse and five runs scored, but Simmons improved after that and went 4.2 innings. The game went to the 11th inning, where the Stars walked off when LF Joe Nelson launched a shot to deepest center that went over the wall. Ben Jenkins, righty setup, had been pressed into pitching to the lefties in the Stars lineup and it didn’t work out, Raccoons lost 7-6 and the series. Berrios’ ERA was now at 8.33 …

Next (when I don't have anything else to do): Titans at home, Indians and Condors on the road, then Aces and Canadiens at home.
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Old 10-07-2012, 09:49 AM   #69
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I need to get to a 5-man rotation. Most other teams were already using it and my starters often didn't get proper rest on only three days.

As an emergency call, Simmons was inserted into the #4 spot ahead of Berrios. Once Christopher Powell gets back from the DL, one of those two can be dealt with. Ocasio will have to succeed, because I don’t have anybody else available. For another arm in the pen we sent CF Zuniga to the AAA level with his .133 average and called up Bill Baker again.

In time for the Titans series, Daniel Hall came down with flu-like symptoms and was replaced by Henderson in the lineup. Clark moved to leadoff, he led the league in steals, but was not a prototypical leadoff hitter with a high average and/or OBP.

The Raccoons opened with Jorge Romero and put him in charge of an early 3-1 lead, which was in danger in the third, but from the warning track in right field Pedro Sánz gunned down a runner at home. He was no threat with the glove, but his arm was like a cannon. The Raccoons added one in the eighth when Bocci mowed down fellow catcher Shawn Gilmore at the plate after a flyout by Sánz. Gaston saved the 4-1 after a leadoff single with two K’s. This put Romero’s record to 8-7! Whooo!! And it also lifted the Raccoons to 5th in the CL North!! Whoooo!!!

The next day the Raccoons were destroyed 9-0 by the Titans, five on Ocasio and four on Cooper, who ran out of his sub 1.00 ERA for good. Daniel Hall returned for game 3 to the leadoff spot and belted his first home run of the season off Aguostinho Tibo right away. Hall went 3-5 and the Raccoons chalked up another 4-1 win in the series. Evans and his nasty splitter lasted 7.2 innings with 4 BB and 6 K.

Next were the Indians in Indianapolis, which is in Indiana. The two worst offenses of the Continental League would meet up, with 249 runs for the Indians and just 223 for the Raccoons. Ben Simon homered for a 1-0 lead in the seventh and Gaston came into the game in the bottom 9th. He blew his first save of the season when the Indians tied it up. The Raccoons (and Gaston) still won, 3-1, after a 2-run blast by Nixon in the top of the 10th. Bill Baker got the save against lefties.

Game 2 was Berrios. He wobbled through the first inning, then made a throwing error in the second that eventually plated six unearned runs. The Raccoons lost 8-0 with just three hits themselves. Berrios was banished to AAA the same day. We called up Zuniga again. He would be on the roster just about one week until Powell would come off the DL. Berrios now had one final chance to get his stuff together in AAA.

The series ended with Romero going against Miguel Sanchez. Romero had a shutout going, but with a 4-0 lead crumbled in the eighth. Brett Justice came in and made matters worse. The Indians tied it in the inning… both teams burned through their bullpens in frightening speed now. I squeezed 2.1 innings out of Bill Baker through the 13th inning, which left only Gaston and we probably had a maximum of two innings in him. But Nixon doubled in Ken Evans in the 14th and the Raccoons held a 5-4 lead. Gaston came in and walked two, but then struck out two to end the game. We had just won an away series at the division leader!

We also would now have 17 games in a row before the All Star game. With a makeshift rotation and a few offensive problems as well this could become a long 2 1/2 weeks. First up were the Condors, and both our teams had a 32-40 record going into the series. This could not end well. The Raccoons were no-hit into the sixth inning in game 1 and didn’t score until the eighth, losing 6-2 with Ocasio having five runs charged against him and now a 6.32 ERA.

This was followed by a 3-2 win in game 2, where it almost got away from Wally Gaston in the bottom 9th as he allowed a run on three walks. Hoyt Cook had before delivered a huge pinch hit 2-run double to take a 3-1 lead in the top 9th in the first place. Since the Loggers lost their game, the Raccoons passed them and became 23rd on the all time records list. Yaaay, we’re making progress towards capturing a few World Series titles.

Aiding in this quest certainly was a 7-6 win in the series finale. The lead changed hands four times in this game, and the Condors’ 2B Johnny Bates cleared the bases with a double in the bottom 8th off Ben Jenkins to make it 6-5 Condors there. The Raccoons scored twice in the top 9th and then Gaston came in to save it, but not before he loaded the bases with two outs. Gaston now had 20 saves in 21 attempts, which sounds effective enough, but watching him close games was nothing for those with heart ailments…

June would end and July begin against the Aces at home, from June 30 on. The Aces were 39-37 and while they were scoring a lot of runs, their pitching was sub par.

For the Raccoons, Jorge Romero opened it, while the Raccoons took an early 1-0 lead, when Sánz singled in Hall in the first. It was still 1-0 in the top 6th. Romero struggled a bit, and Aces reached base to lead off every inning but the fourth so far. Aces were on second and third with two out and the #8 hitter, Enrico Maldonado, up. Maldonado was a lefty with a .301 average and we took no chances here and walked him with first open. This brought up Travis Newton, the pitcher, and the Aces manager let him bat. Romero struck him out, his first K of the game. Sánz bashed a solo shot, his fifth HR of the year, in the bottom of the inning and Romero added a flawless top 7th. Up 3-0, my setup guys Justice and Jenkins showed their worst and allowed two runs. With a slim 3-2 lead and Gaston unavailable I needed a lefty to pitch the ninth against the heart of the Aces lineup – and only Bill Baker fit that description. Baker pitched around a Luis Romero double to save the 3-2 win.

Christopher Powell returned from the DL in time to retake #2 in the rotation, pushing down the struggling Ocasio to #4 and Gary Simmons to #5.

By the way, Joe Ellis from the Falcons was named the CL pitcher of the month in June with a 4-1 record and 2.14 ERA. I compared that to Jorge Romero, who also had a very good month: 4-1 record, 2.26 ERA. Romero consistently delivers 6+ innings. In his 20 starts this season, he only delivered two outings of less than six frames, including his first, but he has no complete game so far. June had been good on the Raccoons as a whole, with a 15-11 record. I can’t check at the moment, but his should be their best month so far overall, maybe except for April 1978.

Powell was a bit shaky in his first game back and got 1-0 behind in the first. In the third inning, Powell came to bat – twice. He doubled to lead it off and was the first of four runs scored in the inning, before grounding out with the sacks full to end it. Powell went six frames before being pulled with an 8-2 lead. And then it derailed massively. Carlos Moran came in to pitch the eighth and surrendered a 3-run homer, 8-5. Sánz and Johnston hit back-to-back homers in the bottom 8th for a new 10-5 lead. We continued with Moran, who continued to implode. Baker could not contain the fire. Gaston came in, still a bit tired from recent overuse, with a 10-7 lead, the bags full, and only one out. He got Andre Long to pop to shallow right – and nobody caught the ball, which dropped in and two runs scored. Gaston on four straight pitches walked Fred Harrell to load the bases again. Up came Jeffery Walton, who grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end it. 10-9 win for the Raccoons, who just barely avoided major embarrassment. The Aces scored seven runs in those last two innings.

We aimed for the sweep in game 3. Daniel Hall started it with a leadoff home run to left. The Raccoons scored a lot in the following innings, while Logan Evans worked on a 1-hitter, but he didn’t get through the ninth. He walked two and gave up a hit to load the bases and left after 8.1 innings with 3 BB and 6 K. Paul Cooper came in and surrendered a grand slam to Lino Zagallo, but the Raccoons had led 8-0 and won 8-4 when Orlando Chaves grounded out. Evans was saddled with three earned runs on two hits. Nevertheless, we had just swept the Aces, a winning team before the contest, now they had a losing record, and the Raccoons were 37-41!

Next are the 37-39 Canadiens with the worst rotation in the Continental League for four games, then a road trip to Milwaukee and New York before the All Star break.

We have won five games in a row and eight of the last ten and the team has scored 4.5 R/G over the last ten games. May not sound like much, but for the season we are at 3.38 R/G.

In other news:
June 21 – The Scorpions lose slugger SS Beau Horn for six weeks to a quad strain.
June 21 – Gold Sox pitcher Steve Holland hurls a 2-hit shutout against the Pacifics. He still is 2-10 with a 4.40 ERA for the season.
June 25 – The Pacifics’ ace David Burke (6-6, 3.23 ERA) pitches a 2-hit shutout of the Scorpions in a 2-0 win.
June 26 – A groin injury will keep Crusaders slugger Hector Atilano (.342, 10 HR, 39 RBI) out of action until early August.
June 27 – In the week of 2-hit shutouts, Juan “Mauler” Correa has one himself, as the Scorpions blank the Capitals 2-0.
June 30 – Rebels 3B Riley Simon, batting .349, hits himself in the foot fouling off a pitch from Gold Sox reliever Patrick Livingston. Simon will miss at least four weeks with a broken foot.
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Old 10-07-2012, 05:55 PM   #70
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Raccoons (37-41) vs. Canadiens (37-39)

The Canadiens threw nine righties at lefty Roman Ocasio (0-2, 6.32 ERA). Daniel Hall slapped another leadoff home run. Ocasio’s outing was very shaky, but somehow he was entitled for the win, when we entered the top 9th with a 5-3 lead. Gaston was still overused, so I tried Paul Cooper to close against the righties. He got two, then surrendered a home run and nailed the next batter. Ben Jenkins came in and loaded the bases. The Canadiens sent up lefty Jim Doyle. Bill Baker came out of the pen, but walked Doyle and the game was tied. The bullpen implosion continued in the tenth, and the Raccoons lost 8-5.

Game 2. Rain chased our starter Gary Simmons early, and we went with Carlos Moran to cover a few innings. We had out-hit the Canadiens through seven innings, but trailed 4-3 in the bottom 8th, until 2B Quincy Cox flubbed a grounder from Cameron Green and Pedro Sánz scored from second to tie it. Jenkins then stumbled through the ninth, before Angel Costa singled to lead off the bottom 9th. Evans advanced him to second. Then came Ralph Nixon, already 2-3. That baseball went for a ride, when Nixon fired it to dead center, and for a pretty nice distance, walking off the Raccoons with a 2-run homer for a 6-4 win.

We made a change to the lineup in moving Bocci to leadoff. Yes, that’s my catcher, and he’s leading the team with a .383 OBP. Hall now bats second. Romero went against Jose Salgado, both with 9-7 records, in game 3. While Salgado dominated the Raccoons, Romero struggled and surrendered five runs over 6.1 innings. The Raccoons lost 7-1, not scoring until their last out. Bocci went 1-4 in leadoff, and Salgado 4-hit us over eight frames. Ralph Nixon was hit in the arm by a pitch and left with an injury.

Powell surrendered a 2-run homer to start the last game of the series, but the Raccoons tied it in the bottom 7th, 3-3, when Powell had just been lifted for a pinch hitter. Brett Justice gave up a leadoff homer in the top 8th. We still trailed 4-3 entering the bottom 9th, and Hoyt Cook, batting 9th after coming on for Powell and replacing Johnston at 1B, launched a solo shot to right center to tie it, and the Raccoons walked off, when a double by Sánz into the right centerfield gap scored Angel Costa from second base for a 5-4 win!

Bad news: Ralph Nixon was diagnosed with a broken elbow, and his season is over. 15% of my budget got his arm in a cast and was out for the year, tearing a hole into the lineup. Angel Costa was a suitable defensive replacement, but nothing could replace a .285, 9 HR, 40 RBI line for this team. Nixon was disabled, and we called up Ben Cox, who had been on a rehab assignment to AAA anyway.

Raccoons (39-43) @ Loggers (33-49)

We were in Milwaukee for four games. Their bullpen was worst in the Continental League, so getting through their starters quickly was key to beating them. But the series opened with a major beating, 10-3, for the Raccoons. Logan Evans was horrible and Bill Baker had another terrible outing as well. Wyatt Johnston was 3-4 at the plate, that was about it for good news. Gustavo Tramacci, who had gone 0-5 since being called up by the Loggers, went 5-5 against the Raccoons.

Game 2 was another 7-1 wrecking dealt to the Raccoons. Ocasio: 4 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 0 K, 1 ER; Baker: 0.1 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 0 K, 4 ER; Green 0-3; all three were sent to AAA immediately. Their stats for the season were, respectively, 0-3 with a 5.33 ERA, 2-3 with a 8.59 ERA, and .167 with 2 RBI in 42 AB…

We called up Juan Berrios, who had pitched 17.1 innings at AAA, giving up 4 runs, with a 1.6 K/BB ratio. The latter had been 0.25 in the majors. He was rested and scheduled to start game 3 right away, moving Simmons to the #4 spot in the rotation and freeing him to make a relief outing if necessary. Miguel Bojorquez, our 1977 round 4 pick, was called up as lefty pen member, and Gustavo Zuniga also was called up once again. The best thing about it: I had just gotten Bill Baker to sign a 4-year, $640k contract. Now I will try to shop him off.

Berrios stat line was 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K – easily his best start of the season. He got a no-decision. Ironically Gary Simmons, who would have had the start here hadn’t it been for the shuffle around Ocasio, pitched an inning in relief and got the W in the 4-3 for the Raccoons. The winning run scored on a balk by Eduardo Jimenez. Simmons, Justice, and Gaston all pitched flawless innings with a K each. Hall was 2-3 with a walk and a homer. Bocci was 2-4, two doubles and two RBI.

Two news after this game: the Warriors claimed Lynwood McFarland, outfielder at AA, whom I had put on waivers to make room for Bojorquez on the 40-man roster. No big loss there, he was not even close to major league material. The Warriors had bigger problems, in news #2, as corner infielder Don Sullivan retired after tearing his labrum at age 32. Sullivan was a huge threat with the bat, bashing 78 home runs for the Aces, Gold Sox, and Warriors, tied for 3rd on the all time list.

The Raccoons lost the last game 5-4 in 11 innings, so we dropped three of four to the last place team, which of course is the prime strategy to get back into last place. It also means our all time record against the Loggers is now 31-31. We don’t have a winning record against any team anymore.

Raccoons (40-46) @ Crusaders (42-44)

Since getting to half a game behind the Indians, the Crusaders had lost six straight. Christopher Powell and Tom Moulds engaged in a pitcher’s duel early on, and Powell held a 2-1 lead in the bottom 6th, when his defenders blew it open by not catching a lazy fly by Yamada to short center. This led to an intentional walk later in the inning, and two additional runs scored to make it four. Down 5-2, the Raccoons crumbled further and lost 8-2. I made a mistake and had Powell start the seventh and he gave up two home runs to Yamada and Foster, back-to-back. To add grief to pain, Pedro Sánz came out with a sore back and won’t be available for the rest of the series.

With Sánz out, and Bocci and Hall very tired and need of rest, I turned out a weak lineup for game 2, with Wyatt Johnston at .256 having the highest batting average. After Logan Evans had given up a leadoff homer to 3B Joe Helms, Crusaders pitcher Mark Lee worked on a no-hitter. Up 2-0 in the top 6th, he gave up his second walk to backup catcher Kieran Lawson with two out. Ken Clark hit the ball approximately 20 feet and would have been out, but Crusaders catcher Miguel Fuentes threw the ball away, getting Raccoons to second and third. Pedro Hermundo then broke up the no-hitter against his former team with a 2-run slasher to left that tied the game as well. Speaking of Lawson – Lee never got him out that day. I played him in the leadoff spot, which was normally madness, since he was batting .192, but I didn’t have another clue. But after two walks, he bashed in the go-ahead run for the Raccoons in the top 8th. But all for nought, Evans gave up two more runs in the bottom 8th and the Raccoons lost 4-3. The sweep was completed the next day with a 2-1 loss. Raccoons had led into the eighth, where the game was tied and then lost in the ninth. Craig, Bojorquez, and Jenkins were responsible.

In other news:
July 4 – LF Michinaga Yamada bashes three long balls for the Crusaders, as they defeat the Indians 9-1, moving into a half game back of the same Indians in the CL North. Yamada has 16 HR this season.
July 11 – The Rebels deal 1B Irwin Webster (lifetime .336 hitter in 1,963 AB) to the Falcons for SP Cristo Negrón.

It was the All Star break and the Raccoons entered with six losses in the last seven games. C Stephano Bocci and SS Ben Simon went to represent the Continental League.

At the break, Ken Evans leads the CL in steals with 17 (five ahead of everybody else). Logan Evans is 3rd in strikeouts with 84 (34 behind Joe Ellis). After the break, we’ll start at home against the Loggers (4) and Indians (3), then go on the road to Atlanta and Charlotte to end July, which so far has not been kind to us.

I’m in talks with two teams to unload some dead weight. We’ll see whether anything comes together after the break.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:02 PM   #71
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Here come the news: on July 14, the days before the All Star game, the Raccoons traded left-handed MR Brett Justice to the Washington Capitals in exchange for minor league SP Iván Díaz, the reasons for which were manifold. Díaz was a talented end-of-rotation or middle to long relief guy. Justice in turn was our lefty setup, but had struggled mightily during the last year or so. He had a 2.74 ERA, but rarely had any clean innings. His groundball percentage was 43%, and he could not be trusted – bad for a setup guy. In addition to that, he was 30 years old, and was due $180k each of the next two years. That was too much for a guy that could not be trusted. We recalled Bill Baker from AAA (where he had a 1.17 ERA), and would use him and Bojorquez as needed.

July 15 saw the All Star game, where the Continental League won 4-3 against the Federal League. Simon and Bocci only pinch hit and both went 0-1.

Raccoons (40-49) vs. Loggers (38-51)

Jorge Romero pitched 6.2 scoreless innings in a pitcher’s duel with Bill Warren. Bojorquez and Craig lost it in the eighth, when the Loggers scored the only two runs of the game. The 2-0 loss also brought the Raccoons to within one game of last place, after they only landed four hits the entire game.

Game 2 had a few nice things. First, Pedro Sánz went 3-4 with 4 RBI, and Christopher Powell went eight innings with 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. He was then removed as the Raccoons led 6-1. It also had a few bad things. Baker was to pitch the ninth, and failed. I sent in Moran, and he failed. Gaston saved a 6-3 win with a runner on third.

Sánz was only 1-4 the next day, but his 2-run double plated the winning run in the sixth. Logan Evans had three wobbly innings to start the game, but then covered seven frames with only one run in the first allowed. Hermundo was 3-4 with a solo homer. Hoyt Cook and Angel Costa also hit solo home runs in the 5-1 win. Bill Baker failed to get out his only batter and Cooper pitched two scoreless to end it.

I saw problems coming in the middle of the lineup. Both Simon and Johnston were in a slump and weren’t producing a lot. Thank god Daniel Hall had finally kicked it up a bit, and was hitting .271 at the moment, but with less power than before, where he had batted .230 – I was split as to what I preferred, but possibly the .271 …

Johnston was to platoon with Cook from now, at least Cook would play against left-handed pitching. Cook had only 60 AB so far, but was putting up his best career numbers in HR, AVG, OBP, and SLG. Johnston was 38, maybe he was fading. He was under contract through next year, while Cook’s contract expired after the 1980 season. Better do something about that.

The last game of the series brought something new: Gary Simmons (3-4, 3.18 ERA) pitched against Gary Simmons (9-5, 2.48 ERA). Of course, my Simmons was the bad one. My Simmons was 22, white, and from Ashland, OR; the Loggers’ Simmons was 25, black, and from Memphis, TN. Mine was a righty, theirs a lefty. Basically, they had nothing in common, with the exception of pitching very well in a pitcher’s duel. The Raccoons’ Simmons had a shutout going into the ninth with a 2-0 lead. He got one batter, but then surrendered two hits and I went with Gaston to close it, but he had still delivered a very fine outing with 6 H, 3 BB, 5 K. The Loggers’ Simmons had pitched eight frames, 4 H, 6 BB, 5 K. Pedro Sánz delivered an RBI double for the third game in a row.

Our rotation had pitched 30.1 innings in the series (Berrios at #5 had gotten one out in relief in game 1) while allowing two runs. That’s an ERA of 0.59 and I’m tempted to say if we could continue on that line, we’d be better off than 5th at season’s end. (Of course, the pen had surrendered five runs in 5.2 innings: ERA of 7.94 ……..) And we had gotten back at the Loggers for the series a week ago, and now led them again all time. Yaay!

Prospect watch: Lefty reliever Grant “Demon” West was drafted last year by the Raccoons in round 1, 4th overall. Right now he’s tearing up AAA hitters in the ninth: 31 G, 31.0 IP, 2-3 record, 20/22 SV/OPP, 3.19 ERA, 1.32 WHIP. He has surrendered runs in only six outings, including a nasty 4-run mangling and 2 runs twice. He could be ready for the majors next year, possibly.

Raccoons (43-50) vs. Indians (49-43)

Again the matchup of the two lowest scoring teams in the CL, and also matchup of no-hitter hurlers Juan Berrios (0-7, 7.32) and Salah Brunet (5-7, 3.46) – time had not been kind to them. The Indians quickly got to a 2-0 lead with a homer by Francis Bell, his 16th this year, but then it was Berrios, who slammed a home run to left to tie it in the third! Berrios fought his way through six innings and took the win, as the Raccoons prevailed 6-3. Daniel Hall was 2-4 with a 2-run homer. Sánz, Simon, Cox were all 2-4 as well.

Everything looked like a shutout for Jorge Romero in game 2. Daniel Hall had shot one to center for a 1-0 lead in the first, which stood into the ninth, when the Indians tied it on a groundout. Another rapid bullpen demolition later, the Indians won 9-1 in the tenth. Craig 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER. Baker 0.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 ER. Jenkins 0.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER. Moran 0.2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 ER. Moran and Baker were banished to AAA after the game, and called up were Stanton Coleman (who had last played in the majors in ’78 and was out of options), and lefty Rich Hughes, who reached this level for the first time.

Powell started game 3 and retired 14 straight Indians, before surrendering a sharp double to right center. Same scenario as the day before: Hall batted in a single run along the way, then it was 1-0 Raccoons to start the ninth. Powell was at 99 pitches, 2-3-4 hitters up (two lefties in there) and I didn’t trust anyone in the pen, not even Gaston. Powell, stayed and needed only eight more pitches to retire them in order, registering a 4-hit shutout with no walks and three K’s! The Raccoons had only had five hits themselves.

We had taken two of three against the division leaders, but that loss in between stung terribly. My pen was a major concern by now. I had some talent at AAA, but I had counted Moran and Bojorquez to that group, too, and they had done nothing but to wave guys around the bases.

July 24 was an off day. Hoyt Cook signed his escalating 4-year, $628k contract, securing first base for the next few years (except in the case that Matt Workman will break through, which we might try next year). We also signed Alberto Colón to a minimum contract.

Alberto Colón was a versatile defensive infielder, playing all four positions well. He had played with the Buffaloes in ’77, struggling to a .189 average in 53 AB. He was now 30 and had bounced around the Buffaloes and Gold Sox minor league systems in the last few years. He was not a threat with his bat, but he could possibly provide us with some more flexibility in the infield, since the only guys at AAA capable of being called up were first basemen, and I already had enough of those. He was just there to pluck a hole and would go away again after this season. Gustavo Zuniga (.127 …..) was sent down.

Raccoons (45-51) @ Knights (44-51)

The Knights’ rotation struggled mightily with a 4.41 ERA, last in the league. We immediately got a glimpse of this, as their starter Manuel Hernandez went eight frames of 2-hit ball against the Raccoons in game 1. Logan Evans struggled and took the 5-2 loss. We got back on them the next day with a 3-1 win behind Gary Simmons, who went seven, and also batted in a run with his first hit in 27 AB’s this season. Ken Clark had two RBI doubles.

Berrios was passed over and Romero pitched game 3 with the next off day already up before a longer stretch of games. Romero had one of the rough starts, surrendering three runs each in the second and sixth innings, and while the Raccoons out-hit the Knights 13-10, they were out-scored 6-5 for a very sour loss.

Raccoons (46-53) @ Falcons (57-41)

We couldn’t hurt the worst rotation of the league – now we were up against the best, with the Falcon’s pitching also best overall with only 308 runs allowed in 98 games.

The series opened with a true nail biter, as Christopher Powell went up against their ace Joe Ellis, who was throwing fireballs for a Cy Young award, ranking in the top 3 in all important categories and leading the K’s department by a mile. The Falcons scored one off Powell in the second, but Hall took Ellis deep in the fourth to tie it. The two pitchers grinded through the lineups once more before the Falcons took another lead on a wild pitch from Powell, a high control and contact pitcher. The Raccoons tied it in the top 7th, then Powell got another one against him in the bottom 7th. Ellis went eight, then handed over to closer McCoy. Simon and Cook got on base, before Hermundo sliced one down the right foul line, that just barely stayed fair and got the Raccoons a 4-3 lead. Gaston came in and whiffed two, then put two on base. The tying run on third, Gaston struck out Mario Ventura to complete his 27th save and clinch a big struggle. Hermundo was 2-4 with 3 RBI.

There was some early damage in game 2 with the game at 3-3 quickly. All Falcons runs were unearned after a Hoyt Cook error had preceded a 3-run homer. Things got ugly in the fourth, when Mitch Carr mowed down Pedro Hermundo throwing himself into third base. Hermundo left with an injury and Colón came in. Carr was still out, as brave Pedro held on to the ball and the inning was over. Logan Evans twisted his ankle on a play in the fifth and also left, out for a few weeks. The bullpen imploded again for five runs in the eighth and the Raccoons lost 8-3. Craig plunked two batters to lead off, and Jenkins was out of control giving up a hit and two walks. His ERA was at 5.09 and he was close to getting the boot as well.

Gary Simmons lost the rubber game after dominating the Falcons through six with a 1-0 lead. He was shelled in the seventh after allowing a single hit that far, when the Falcons chained together hit, walk, hit, and a homer for four runs, all they needed to win 4-1.

In other news:
July 23 – Three weeks rest for David Burke (10-6, 3.05) of the Pacifics are prescribed due to a knee sprain.
July 25 – Cyclones 1B Alex White goes 6-6 against the Warriors in a 16-4 blowout. White has a homer, a double and four singles with four runs batted in. It is the first 6-hit performance by an ABL player since Mike White of the Bayhawks did it exactly one year and one month ago. White’s team mate Juan Díaz has five hits.
July 26 – The Buffaloes send slugger Ramon Borjon to the Gold Sox for their closer Eric Blake. Borjon hit 20+ homers every year from 1977 to 1979, but struggled with injuries this year and slowed down heavily.
July 29 – LF Ryan Childress goes 5-5 as his Wolves down the Blue Sox 9-6. He lacks a triple for the cycle, chalking up a homer, three doubles and a single and 5 RBI.
July 30 – The Miners unload infielder Rich Johnson to Vancouver to acquire powering 3B prospect Santiago Gonzalez.
July 30 – On a similar note, the Loggers send starter Eduardo Jimenez (5-13, 4.78 ERA) to San Francisco to get outfield prospect Todd Baker.

Evans’ injury will force me to use Ocasio again, which is dreading. He’s also posting a 5+ ERA at AAA, but I see no point in adding another loser to the 40-man roster. Next up are the Thunder, Condors, Titans, and Loggers before interleague play, where we’ll meet up with the Wolves again.

The Raccoons are last again in the all time records table with 236-352, 1.0 game behind the Gold Sox, 2.0 behind the Loggers, and 4.0 behind the Miners.
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Raccoons (47-55) vs. Thunder (60-40)

Oklahoma City had the second-best record in the majors and the best in the Continental League. They looked like they were seriously playoff-bound. The Raccoons had lost four of their last six and had not scored more than six runs in 29 days. The Thunder had done it six times in the same timeframe, and twice in the last week. The Raccoons, accordingly, wore their good diapers for this series…

Berrios started it and surprisingly kept the score 0-0 for seven innings, but put on the first two batters in the eighth and took the loss, when Bill Craig was taken deep. Ken O’Hoey shut out the Raccoons over eight frames and we lost 3-0. The next day Jorge Romero allowed eight hits over seven innings, but the damage done was limited: two runs. Daniel Hall’s 3-run blast in the fourth was already enough, and the Raccoons won 5-2, although we had a scary eighth, pieced together with three different relievers, after Ben Jenkins again could not get outs. Gaston had his 28th save on eight pitches. This was Romero’s 10th win of the season, the first Raccoon to get there this year, on August 2. He had won 15 for the Condors in ’77 and 14 for the Raccoons in ’78, but only one in his injury-ridden 1979 season.

Game 3 saw Pedro Hermundo back. His elbow had been bruised by a baseball a few days earlier, and we had played Alberto Colón at third. He had been very good in the field (as expected) but had gone 0-10 at the plate with two walks (as feared).

The Raccoons never had a stake in game 3. Powell as a contact pitcher was hurt big time by two home runs and six runs total over 5.2 innings. The Thunder scored one more off Jenkins and two off Bojorquez (this one a jack, too), and won 9-3. Bocci was 3-4, and Hermundo was so as well and also had 2 RBI.

Raccoons (48-57) @ Condors (45-60)

The series started with Roman Ocasio and an early 1-0 lead for the Raccoons, but Ocasio imploded as early as the second. This was however not about Ocasio here, it was the game of Daniel Hall. He had scored the Raccoons’ first run, then hit a liner into the left field corner and circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run! Up again in the next inning, he shot a 3-run bomb to left (both balls passed through the realm of LF Ed Sullivan, a former Raccoon). Ocasio was chased in the fourth and Rich Hughes brought 3.2 wobbly innings. The Raccoons won 8-4 with Hall’s stats being 3-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB and a few good catches as well. Clark, Sánz, Simon, and Cook all had two hits. Rich Hughes earned his first major league win.

Hall now also led the team in home runs with 10 this year, which was a poor number looked back to the last seasons, but Simon had an off year. Nixon had been out front with nine, but he was hurt now and stuck there.

We needed Gary Simmons to go deep in game 2, since the bullpen had gotten a lot of work, but Simmons was very wild. Over 6.1 innings he had all sixes: 6 H, 6 BB, 6 K. 3-1 down, he was pulled, and the Raccoons lost 5-1, because Bojorquez gave up two runs trying to get out three lefties.

Bojorquez had an ERA of 9.95 and was sent where Bill Baker and his 9.98 ERA had gone: AAA. Carlos Moran had given up a single run in 10.2 innings since being sent down and was recalled. Rich Hughes was now the only lefty in the pen. What do I care?

Rubber game. The Raccoons scored three in the first and four in the fourth. When Berrios started the bottom 4th, he had not given up a bit. When the inning was over, Carlos Moran was in and the game had gone from 7-0 to 7-6. Moran gave up another run in the fifth to tie it, and the Raccoons were on the corners with nobody out and didn’t score in the top 6th. Angel Costa doubled to lead off the top 7th, and the Raccoons DIDN’T SCORE. Daniel Hall led off the eighth and slammed it a mile over Ed Sullivan in left field to make It 8-7. Bocci doubled in pinch hitter Ben Cox in the ninth and Wally Gaston held on to it for a nerve-wrecking 9-7 win.

Raccoons (50-58) vs. Titans (54-55)

The 4-game series opened with a complete game win by Jorge Romero, 5-1, with the only Titans run unearned after a throwing error by Stephano Bocci. Hoyt Cook was 2-3 with a walk and is now hitting .309 for the season! He has pushed Wyatt Johnston over to the bench for the moment. No replacement player ever came into the game for either team.

Sean Critch returned the favor of domination the next day. Through eight innings, he 3-hit the Raccoons, while Powell was good, but gave up three (two earned) over seven frames. Up 3-0, the Titans brought in Chip Ellis for the bottom 9th. Both Cox and Sánz were walked, which brought up Ben Simon with two down. He worked a full count, then sunk one into the left field bleachers to tie the game and get Powell off the hook. The game went to extra innings, where all offense screeched to a halt for a few innings. Jenkins went three frames, and Cooper went two, but stuttered in the 15th inning. Hughes came in to get lefties, but the Titans scored two. Simon and Clark, the last Raccoon off the bench, were retired by Tim Moss (in his fourth inning himself), then Hermundo squeezed one down the left field line. Johnston came up and bashed a home run – tied again! The lefties then got to Wally Gaston in his second inning and the Raccoons lost 6-5 in the 17th inning…

The bullpen now was wrecked for the next few days – how fittingly the Roman Ocasio was up next and he hadn’t even covered four innings his last time out. Such a start would kill me for good until the next off day (another series away). This was too critical with the next series being against the Loggers (last place no more! (shakes fist menacingly)), and we called up Tony Lopez to eat innings just in case. Sherwood Henderson was sent down, being in a deep hole at the plate anyway.

Ocasio surprised in a positive way, going 6.2 innings, and although he allowed four runs, he fanned seven, which was one short of his season total thus far. Lopez ended the seventh, but busted the Raccoons’ 5-4 lead in the eighth. We tied it at 6-6 and went to extra innings yet again. We had our chances in the ninth and especially in the 11th, where Pedro Sánz hit a sharp liner with two out and the bags full, but right into the glove of SS Dimian Barrios. We lost it in the 13th inning, when the Titans scored twice and the Raccoons only once, for an 8-7 loss.

Those two games stung again. With a sweep we would have passed the Titans in the division, but now we were on the verge of sinking to last again. Simmons pitched like Ocasio the day before, seven innings, seven K’s, but also allowed four runs (two earned). Unlike the day before, the Raccoons didn’t make it up and lost 4-3.

What a bitter series. We outscored the Titans 20-19 (that alone should earn us some medals), but lost three of four. The bullpen was seriously used up in the series, although only Jenkins pitched in game 4.

At least Daniel Hall got Player of the Week honors with a 12-31 (.387), 4 HR, 8 RBI line.

Raccoons (51-61) vs. Loggers (49-63)

Get swept and get passed for last. No, we want to sweep the Loggers, but it will have to start with Berrios.

Many things started with Berrios, but mostly it was the Loggers’ scoring. Berrios went 3.2 innings and surrendered six runs and the Raccoons lost 7-4. The seventh run was on Lopez. Daniel Hall had been rested, and the offense was lacking, getting in just one dangerous inning against Bill Warren.

After a 3-1 loss in game 2, where the Raccoons only had four hits and failed to support Jorge Romero, game 3 was Powell (7-6, 3.07 ERA) against Greg O’Brien (6-12, 4.46 ERA). This was for last place. Powell surrendered a home run to Steve Bean (his first of the season) in the fourth – and the Raccoons let him die out there. They lost 2-1, and dropped to last place, having lost six straight.

Raccoons (51-64) @ Wolves (61-54)

I wasn’t in the mood for an Oregon series, not at all. We had lost the only one so far, in 1977, 1-2. The Wolves had a good team and had all it took to sweep this Raccoons, where Hall had cooled off to ice within days, fanning in almost every AB. Simon had never been a clutch hitter and Sánz and Hermundo couldn’t carry the team alone.

With Ocasio and Berrios included in the rotation for this series, another loss was already acknowledged here, even before the first pitch.

Ocasio (0-3, 5.60 ERA) vs. Javier Martinez (2-11, 4.99 ERA). Of course this led to seven scoreless innings for both to start the game, then Ocasio was lifted for a pinch hitter. Ben Jenkins allowed a run in the bottom 8th and the Raccoons lost 1-0. The next day, somehow the offense got it going and the Raccoons led 5-0 after six and 10-0 after eight. Lopez was in the game to start the bottom 9th and it derailed massively in an unbelievable way. He surrendered a leadoff jack to Christian Hampton, then put two out and two on. Rich Hughes walked the only batter he faced. Stanton Coleman surrendered three straight hits (that’s why I hate him). Enough, bring me Wally Gaston! It was not a safe situation, with the Raccoons up 10-5 and two on. Gaston walked Hampton on four straight, facing Ryan Childress with the bases loaded. Childress stuffed one into deep center for a grand slam. 10-9 Raccoons. Then Luis Camacho flew out to Sánz in right.

Why the hell can’t they once hold on to a big lead, if they ever have one?? What is wrong with that bullpen, for god’s sake!!??

Tony Lopez was sent down again, his services were no longer needed. Cameron Green came up again (the pen had held eight relievers for the last week or so).

The rubber game ended 14-3 Wolves. I don’t really want to say much about it. Raccoons pitching allowed 10 H, 8 BB with 2 K. Juan Berrios didn’t even last two innings. Half the runs were unearned, but that didn’t really help soothing the pain.

How did Daniel Hall do in the week after being Player of the Week? He went 0-18, 0 HR, 0 RBI.

In other news:
August 1 – NYC Mark Lee and TIJ David Rivera brawl with each other and get suspended for five games, robbing the Condors of their shortstop against the Raccoons later in the week.
August 1 – Miguel Sanchez has a 3-hitter, as the Indians beat the Knights 3-0.
August 5 – The Cyclones drafted MR Chris Nelson in the first round and 24th overall this June and sent him straight to the majors. Ten games later, he’s torn his flexor tendon, and will have to sit out a year.
August 5 – Rebels RF Mitsuharu Yamada has hit in 20 straight games.
August 6 – The Cyclones’ Jack Pennington 3-hits the Gold Sox in a 5-0 win.
August 7 – Yamada goes 0-5 against the Capitals, ending his streak at 21.
August 15 – Canadiens closer Jose Gonzales goes down to a flexor-pronator strain for at least four weeks.
August 16 – Rebels 3B Riley Simon has a 20-game hitting streak.

After the Wolves series the Raccoons had a depressed off day. They had lost eight of nine and were 5-11 in August. Remaining is a home stint against the Buffaloes, Canadiens, Indians, and Aces.

That day the Portland Raccoons released Juan Berrios (1-10, 7.32 ERA in 1980; 26-59, 4.23 ERA overall) from his contract. There are many things a no-hitter does for you on your resume, but you can not live off of it forever.
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Raccoons (52-66) vs. Buffaloes (64-54)

The mood was very low going into this series. The Buffaloes were battling the Cyclones for the FL East and were impressive at doing so with their limited budget. With Berrios recycled, the Raccoons would go to a 4-man rotation for one cycle, then add Logan Evans from the DL and eat Ocasio for the rest of the season, which is another lost one anyway. I had eight relievers aboard for this series, with Bojorquez added, since Hughes could not stem the workload for lefties alone.

Jonathan Knapp no-hit the Raccoons the first time through the lineup, before we batted around the order in the fourth to turn a 4-1 lead. Daniel Hall had his first hit in over a week, a single. It was enough for the Raccoons to come through in the game, and we won 5-1. The win could have been higher, as we left the bags full twice, in the fifth and seventh.

Christopher Powell allowed only six hits over seven innings – but four came in the fourth alone, and the last one was a homer for a total of four runs. Daniel Hall tied it up again with a liner to center in the seventh, 4-4. The game went to extra innings, where the Raccoons left the bags full in the tenth. The pen held up well, but they just didn’t score. A leadoff double by Sánz in the 13th also went unscored. Wally Gaston had come in in the top of that inning, he struck out the side in the top 14th, unrewarded. Top 15th, Gaston continued to mow through the Buffaloes. Pedro Hermundo, so far 0-6, singled to lead off the bottom 15th. Gaston bunted him over, before Kieran Lawson rolled one softly to short. Buffaloes SS Alex Betsch came in and the ball ate him up, squirting out of his glove. Hermundo never stopped running from second and the Raccoons walked off in anticlimactic fashion, 5-4. Gaston 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K; Hall 5-7, 2 RBI; Sánz 4-7 – the latter two combined for 60% of the Raccoons’ 15 hits that day, no other player had more than one. Simon was especially ineffective, going 1-6 behind Hall and Sánz.

Every starter in game 3 had at least one hit for the Raccoons (including Ocasio), but they still did not complete the sweep and lost 4-3. I brought Gaston to clean up Morán’s mess in the ninth, but it was too late and the Buffaloes scored the winning run.

Raccoons (54-67) vs. Canadiens (58-62)

Angel Costa’s dropped ball in the first inning plated a total of three unearned runs, and the Raccoons lost 3-1. Guess who got the blame from me? Costa was sat down the next day to play the sparkling .000 hitter Colón.

The result was the same: second baseman (Colón) makes an error in the first, three runs score (although only one was unearned this time). Jorge Romero couldn’t smile, and neither could I. The Raccoons trailed 4-1 in the eighth with the bags full. Johnston grounded out but scored a run. Now there were two outs and runners on second and third. I pulled my ace: backup catcher Kieran Lawson came to pinch hit for 0-3 Pedro Hermundo. He lined one into center and both runs scored, the game was tied. From there, there was no scoring for six, although the Raccoons twice had runners on third with less than two outs and could not convert. (I’m looking at you, Ben Simon) Canadiens won 5-4 in the 15th off Coleman.

The Raccoons led 3-0 after the first in game 3. Powell left after six with a 3-2 lead and both teams threatened to score more. In the eighth, the Raccoons did score more, on a grand slam by Stephano Bocci, who had a 12-game hitting streak. Wally Gaston pitched the ninth with the rest of the pen tired, and while he allowed a run, he struck out the side as well for a 7-3 win. This, on August 24, ties the amount of wins the Raccoons had all of last year.

Raccoons (55-69) vs. Indians (70-54)

Logan Evans came off the DL and rejoined the rotation between Gary Simmons and Roman Ocasio. An off day helped in short-starting Simmons again. This was the rotation we’d use until season’s end. Maybe. Bojorquez and Colón were sent to AAA, and we recalled Gustavo Zuniga, who was hitting .311 at AAA.

The hardly ever scoring Indians sunk the Raccoons 11-4 to start the series. Jenkins, Craig, and Moran all had unjustifiable outings. Craig was loaded with five runs alone.

Game 2, and Logan Evans was raped for six runs in the first four innings, he eventually pitched into the sixth because of the recently much abused bullpen. Moran pitched the last three innings without further damage (surprise there), and the Raccoons mounted a rally in the bottom 9th, but fell a run short and lost 6-5 after scoring three on a Clark double and a Bocci grounder.

The contest closed with eight shutout innings by Roman Ocasio, although he was wilder than wildcats, with 5 BB, 0 K, and two pinned batters. The Raccoons managed to cough up a single run themselves and Gaston was sent in in the ninth. Two quick outs later he surrendered two singles, then plunked a batter. This brought up Jose Encarnación, who had gone deep against Simmons in game 1. With the bags full, Gaston closed the book on the game with the Raccoons’ sole K of the day and save #30.

The team had only four hits in the last game, 2-3 was Hoyt Cook. Bocci’s streak ended at 14 games.

Raccoons (56-71) vs. Aces (59-68)

The 1-0 blues was immediately returned to the Raccoons by the Aces. Jorge Romero had a glitchy first inning, where one run came across. That was all the scoring. The Raccoons had bags full and one out in the eighth, Cook flew out, Simon struck out. Simon always strikes out.

Game 2 began under equal signs, but the Aces added another one in the third against Powell. Their starter Fernando Bustamante had gone into the game with an ERA over five, but dominated the Raccoons – but only through four innings. The Raccoons burned him with a 5-spot in the fifth, highlighted by a 3-run bomb by Hermundo to left center. Christopher Powell ended up going the distance, taking the 7-2 win on six hits. All nine Raccoons that started the game, finished it, and all had at least one hit. Sánz and Hermundo had three each.

The rubber game went to the Aces, 4-3. Simmons was socked for all the runs in four innings and was removed before the fourth even ended. Raccoons left chances out again, as it always has been.

A 10-18 August has wrecked this season for good and the team is firmly nailed to last place again.

In other news:
August 22 – The Pacific’s Freddy Perez tosses a 1-hitter in a 4-0 victory over the Stars.
August 22 – A sixth inning single in a 5-2 loss to the Blue Sox lifts Riley Simon to 25 games of consecutive hitting.
August 24 – One loss too much: the Blue Sox trump the Rebels 4-1 and also chill Riley Simon and his 26-game hitting streak.
August 25 – The Capitals turn the game in Cincinnati in the eighth and win 5-1, creating a three way tie in the FL East between the Capitals and Buffaloes (both 66-58) and Cyclones (67-59).
August 29 – The Knights beat the Canadiens 2-0, as Fernando Vigil pitches a 2-hitter for Atlanta.
August 31 – Wolves 2B Pat Graham has pieced together a 20-game hitting streak.

Rosters expand. Do I really want any of the bagpipes at AAA on the major league team?

September opens in Atlanta, then Boston. Home series against the collapsed Crusaders after that and a last ditch chance to get the Loggers under control in Milwaukee through to mid-September.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:43 AM   #74
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We called up Bill Baker, who had started some AAA games, allowing only single runs in the last three, outfielder Sherwood Henderson, and infielder Alberto Colón. I also considered calling up reliever Jason White, a righty with murder stuff but little else, but eventually didn’t. Same thing for Grant “Demon” West, who was killing everything with bats at AAA. I did consider him for the 1981 roster, though. I also did not call up 1B Matt Workman, who had busted his knee and was out until next summer.

Raccoons (57-73) @ Knights (62-67)

Game 1. Logan Evans was awful, the rest of the team wasn’t any better and the Raccoons lost 7-2 on a grand total of four hits. Ben Cox hit his first homer of the season, but the Knights bashed two and whacked Evans around for four runs in the first three innings alone.

The Raccoons out-hit the Knights 12-6 in game 2. Horrible defense with two throwing errors (Ocasio, Cook) and five walks helped to plate eight runs for the Knights and the Raccoons lost 8-4.

The Knights completed the complete destruction of the Raccoons with an 11-6 victory in the last game. Even worse for the Raccoons was an injury to starter Jorge Romero, who left in the first inning with a potentially season-ending injury. Hoyt Cook went down with an oblique strain as well and was listed DTD for a few days. The Raccoons had opened the game in the first with a grand slam by Ben Simon, but that quickly was forgotten in one of the most horrible series ever.

Raccoons (57-76) @ Titans (68-66)

With the bullpen torn up badly against the Knights, Christopher Powell stepped in and was at his finest to start the 4-game series against the Titans. Dimian Barrios had a hit to left off Powell in the fourth – that was it, as Powell 1-hit the Titans in a 3-0 win with solo homers by Simon and Hall. Powell had his 10th win of the season and needed only 93 pitches to get there.

Gary Simmons had a rough first inning with two runs in, but eventually settled in and went seven frames with three runs allowed. The Raccoons had already turned it by then against Titans starter Du Tong, who was chased when Hermundo and Hall homered back to back in the fifth. Raccoons won 9-4. Ben Cox was 3-4 with 3 RBI.

Horrible news to follow: Jorge Romero was diagnosed with a torn labrum and was out for nine months at least, which translated to at least half of the 1981 season. It hardly could have come more horrible for the Raccoons, losing their #1 starter for like forever. His season ended 12-11 with a 3.10 ERA. Romero had already missed most of the ’79 season on the DL, then with a partially torn labrum.

Romero was the fifth starter in the Raccoons system going down for the rest of the season, and the fourth to miss part or all of 1981 due to injury. The others were all minor leaguers, although Ivan Diaz was among them, whom we had acquired for Brett Justice. I don’t know how to pluck that hole in my rotation, not now, neither next year.

There were two games left against the Titans. Game 3 was poor on offense. Logan Evans left 2-1 behind and the Raccoons got down to the wire, loading the bases with one out in the top 9th. Daniel Hall scorched one right into the pitcher’s glove. Sánz was up, he had gone 0-4 with 3 K’s. He would not dare… Sánz sent one to left and scored the tying run, but that was it. The game went to extra innings, where the Raccoons lost in the 13th with Carlos Moran on the mound on two infield singles sandwiching a walk – poor defense and poor pitching make poor results. Add poor offense to that: Raccoons K’ed 16 times in the game.

We took the last game, 4-0, but that hardly describes the awful pitching with eight walks dished out to the Titans (and only four hits!). Pedro Sánz went 4-5.

Raccoons (60-77) vs. Crusaders (67-69)

I made a move that came close to forfeiting game 1 to the Crusaders: I started Bill Baker and his 9.82 ERA. He had been good in a few AAA starts, so why not? He pitched to one batter, Hector Atilano, who grounded out, then left with rotator cuff tenditis. Moran gave up two runs that lost the game (2-0 it remained), while the Raccoons had one lonely hit the whole game (Bocci was the culprit to ruin the no-no). Rich Hughes pitched 4.1 perfect innings in long relief, then hurt his elbow and would be out for a year.

(bangs head against the wall repeatedly)

Hughes had appeared in 20 games for the Raccoons, with a 1-0 record, 0.89 ERA, and 13 K’s. With him and Baker, both lefties from the pen were down, and I had to scramble (once more). I brought up Bojorquez (because why not, he’s a pathetic loser, but do I give a crap?) and then I also called up probably the biggest talent in the system: AAA closer Grant “Demon” West. I would have loved to wait till next year, but I was running out of arms at frightening speed (all over the system). Both moves provided no answer to who’d start in Romero’s spot next time around.

Two more against a team, that’s scored 194 more runs than the Raccoons. Let me count what we lost in there. Stephano Bocci was hit in the knee by a pitch from Tom Moulds and was out for about a week. The A-hole Moulds also plunked Daniel Hall and Pedro Sánz during the game, and my pitchers new, what to do and drilled him twice, but sadly didn’t get his A-head knocked off. We also lost that game, 7-6, after scoring four in the bottom 9th to no avail. At least Grant West pitched a scoreless debut. We also lost the last game, 9-2. Gary Simmons was torched for three home runs and Bojorquez for another one. Awful.

We called up C Angel Ramirez from AAA, since he was already on the 40-man roster, to replace Bocci for the week. Of course he would only play backup to Lawson, who was hitting quite well at the moment.

Raccoons (60-80)@ Loggers (63-77)

Last chance to save some dignity. The series opened with Logan Evans being highly erratic, walking four and being pulled after surrendering a 3-run bomb to Marvin Mills in the fifth. The Raccoons lost 5-2, all runs on Evans.

We made a change to the lineup, removing Costa, moving Simon to 2B, Hermundo to SS, and inserting Green, who had raised his average to .230 in the last weeks after being horrible all summer.

Game 2 was more of the same. Ocasio was awful, the Raccoons lost 5-2, and all runs were on the starter. Dignity was long gone by now. Christopher Powell gave up seven hits over seven frames in the last game, but no runs. The pen didn’t crumble either, for once, but the Raccoons never scored in nine innings and had only two hits. Loggers starter John Douglas had even a 1-hitter going, but walked eight and didn’t make it through. The game went to the tenth and the Raccoons broke through with a bases-clearing double by Pedro Hermundo. The Raccoons scored five and won 5-0 after a clean bottom 10th by Moran.

Raccoons (61-82) vs. Titans (72-72)

The last home stint begins for this season. Up were the low-scoring Titans. Hall hit a solo dinger in the fourth, but Simmons, who whiffed nine, gave it back in the fifth. The Raccoons had countless chances to score, but clutch hitting was not in their dictionary. The bags were full with one out in the ninth, and they didn’t score. Runners were in scoring position in the 10th and 11th and they didn’t score. They finally walked off 2-1 in the 13th on an error, a walk, and a scratch single by Johnston.

Logan Evans in game 2 sucked big time again, allowing six runs in 4.1 innings. The lame offense failed to pick that up, and the Raccoons lost 6-3. Game 3: the Raccoons led 2-1 after the first due to a Hall home run. Maybe, one day, Daniel Hall *will* become something remotely resembling a good ballplayer.

There was no hope for something similar happening to Roman Ocasio. He surrendered seven runs in 1.1 innings and was thrown out of the stadium (from the upper deck of course). The inning further escalated with Bill Craig, who walked in two. Titans won, 11-4. Bocci was 4-5, Grant West went 4.1 frames in long relief surrendering one run, the rest of the team was – well, I’m sure there are some language rules here that prevent me from giving a proper description.

In other news:
September 6 – No-hitter! Bill Warren of the Milwaukee Loggers shut down the Indianapolis Indians in a 1-0 win, yielding five walks, but no hits. It is the third no-hitter in ABL history, and the first in over three years. All of them have been done by CL North teams, and both the Loggers and Indians were already involved in one of the other two. The Indians’ Salah Brunet no-hit the Condors in 1977, and in the same year the Loggers were silenced by the Raccoons’ Juan Berrios.
September 6 – Pat Graham goes 0-4 as the Stars beat his Wolves 6-1, ending a 24-game hitting streak.
September 10 – For the Scorpions’ Beau Horn, a injury-plagued season comes to an end with a back muscle strain, sidelining him for up to a month.
September 15 – The Crusaders trade SS Joe Helms to the Cyclones for 3B Cecil Ward. How none of those two was picked off waivers, remains a mystery in this past-deadline trade.
September 17 – Salem outfielder Ryan Childress announces his retirement from post-concussion syndrome. The 33 year old had hit 39 homers with 269 RBI in 471 career games.
September 17 – The Warriors’ Chris Lynch falls a double short of the cycle in a 17-inning meatgrinder against the Scorpions, which his team also loses, 8-7.

The home stint continues against the Falcons and Bayhawks. This would probably give another beating, before we would get rounded up on the road to end the season with three more series in Vancouver, Indianapolis, and New York. Get that sh[bleep]y season over with, and then head for the next sh[bleep]y season.

Buffaloes on their way to their first division title, Indians M# is seven. Thunder up by 3 over the Falcons, but the Falcons will close now since they’re playing the Raccoons.

Frustration.
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Old 10-15-2012, 04:28 PM   #75
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I think I will go with a 4-man rotation for the rest of the year, with the exception of handing the ball to Carlos Moran for one game. He’s gotten better in long relief the last weeks. You better don’t entrust the ball to him with the bags full and nobody out, but he’s been more or less able to keep himself out of the deepest troubles. That’s all recommendation one needs to play for the Raccoons.

Raccoons (62-84) vs. Falcons (84-62)

I’d kill or die to have a record like the Falcons do. Stupid birds. I’ll get your feathers! (Well, it turned out the birds hacked a couple of them Raccoons to death pretty good)

The Raccoons took a 1-0 lead in the third inning without ever getting a hit. Cameron Green was walked, bunted over by Powell, and scored on a throwing error. An unearned run tied it in the fourth, Hermundo had bobbled a ball. But Powell delivered a very fine outing, taking a 2-1 lead to the eighth, when Sánz committed an error in right, that put two men on with one out. Powell fanned one, then Irwin Webster shot one to right, where Sánz made a sparkling play to end the inning. Hoyt Cook homered in the bottom 8th and Gaston saved the 3-1 win. Powell had whiffed seven for his 11th win of the year. By the way, Powell led the Continental League in WHIP and BB/9 (the latter also leading the majors as a whole), and was second behind Joe Ellis in K/BB. While Ellis did it with fireballs, Powell had supreme control over his pitches, but relied on his defense to pick up all the balls sent back at them.

The Falcons scored early on against Simmons in game 2, but in the bottom 3rd Cameron Green laid down an infield single. While the Raccoons didn’t score there, this was remarkable as it raised his average to .241 – giving the Raccoons an entire lineup (minus pitcher) with batting averages of .240 or more for – as I remember – the first time in their history. They held that distinction for less than three innings. When Ben Cox flew out to left in the sixth, he dipped to .239 and it was over. The game was also over by then, as Jorge Mora dominated the Raccoons completely, tossing a 3-hit shutout in a 4-0 win for the Falcons. It didn’t get much better in the rubber game, which the Raccoons lost 4-1 on four hits. The first two Falcons runs were unearned.

A look to the minor leagues: our A and AA teams both finished second in their divisions, 18 and 3 games back, respectively. The AAA team made the playoffs, winning their division by one game. They led the first round playoffs 2-0, then lost three and were eliminated. Tony Lopez (sounds familiar?) botched up big time in the deciding game 5.

Could more talent be called up now? SP Jose Nieves (acquired from the Condors this off season in the Bocci/Sullivan deal) had racked up 238 K’s in AAA ball, leading the league, but had also surrendered 34 long balls. Next!
Jason White (our 1977 round 7 pick) had done everything for the AAA team, from starting to closing, but his control was seriously lacking. He had K’ed almost 13 per nine innings – but was just as susceptible to the long ball as Nieves. Still, this was a prime time to test him out. Call up!
Fletcher Kelley was our 1979 round 3 pick, another righty reliever. He had posted a 1.72 ERA between AA and AAA this year, but I felt calling him up now would rush him too fast. Next! Jayson Bowling, versatile infielder, acquired this winter from the Crusaders in the Hermundo/Hatfield trade. He had batted .317 with 9 HR and 58 RBI between AA and AAA this year (139 games). But at the moment, I was set in the infield, he would not do much but pinch hitting. Next!
Marshall Jones was a versatile outfielder, who had hit 21 home runs this year at AAA. But he had a .253 average and that would not go up in the majors. Next!
Nicolás Castillo was the hardest case here. He had socked 52 home runs this year for the AAA team! Batting .321 / .387 / .656 he would be a sure callup under any circumstances – but he was playing the wrong position. He was playing LF, and was ineffective elsewhere, with fine range, but a mediocre arm. Any callup had to be able to play CF, since Hall and Sánz were set at the moment, and neither could be moved to CF. I was not willing to axe Sánz, who was only one year older than Castillo, who was already 28, for him. Strangely, his ratings didn’t comply with his putout at all. He had had stellar ratings in 1977 in AA, but had been rated down dramatically in ’78. I would rather see whether I could get something in a trade for him.

1B Matt Workman would have been considered, finishing 3rd in the AAA league in batting average, but he was injured.

Raccoons (63-86) vs. Bayhawks (83-66)

Carlos Moran got the start in game 1. I figured it would likely go badly. He surrendered three runs in five innings, actually in just one single inning. The Raccoons turned it into a 4-3 lead in the fifth, and we brought in Jason White for an inning. He got an out, then walked a batter and was injured on the pitch. The bullpen took a massive beating, including Wally Gaston, and the Raccoons were routed 10-4. It had rained frequently throughout the early innings, maybe that had hurt Moran’s performance?

The Raccoons scored single runs in the first three frames in game 2 and three in the fourth for a 6-0 lead staked to Roman Ocasio. He gave up two runs in the sixth and was quickly sent for the showers. The pen managed to hold up this time, Cooper and West pitched the rest of the way for the 6-2 win.

Powell pitched game 3 and lost it on poor offense and defense. Tied 1-1 in the top 8th, the Bayhawks had Michael Bolton on third with two outs. Ben Simon couldn’t make a play with an easy roller and the run scored, Raccoons lost 2-1.

In other news:
September 25 – New York’s Jeremy Churchill pulled his back lawn bowling at a family gathering during the Crusader’s off day. Wow, Jerry, don’t you know that action games are not for 35 year olds?

Jason White was diagnosed with a herniated disc after pitching a grand total of 0.1 innings for the Raccoons and is out of action for the season.

With the minor league seasons over, I got news that Ken Miller retired. Miller, 29, had pitched for the Raccoons in 30 games in 1977, earning a 5.10 ERA in 30 IP. Since then he had been moved down to the A level and was not considered a big loss.

I also dabbled a bit through the pitching and batting registers in the history section. So far 31 pitchers and 36 batters have played for the Raccoons. I stumbled across Matt Huber, who was employed in the rotation in 1977. He was horrible, but we managed to trade him to the Gold Sox for Christopher Powell! Powell leads the Raccoons in most pitching categories (like Ben Simon leads in most batting categories), including GS, IP, W, CG, SHO, and K. Huber has not pitched in the majors since ’79. There were two minor leaguers involved in the trade, and while the one I received has since been released, and the one I sent, Laurentij Mlotkovsky, is now on the Gold Sox roster, I think that was the single best trade I made for this team.

There may only be that one good trade. Let’s check that to stretch this update a bit more and pick a few other trades I have made in ‘77/’78.

November 27, 1977: We sent Alex Miranda, our opening day starter, to the Condors for Jorge Romero, Cameron Green, and Richard Jones. Miranda was 9-17 with a 3.38 ERA with the Raccoons. He never got any better than that with the Condors. Of course, Romero is 27-33 for us with an ERA under 3, but he will miss considerable time for the second time now. Cameron Green has hit the majors now and his batting is starting to pick up. Jones in AA and probably will never get any further. This trade was a win, obviously!

January 8, 1978: We traded MR Armando Padilla (and a minor leaguer) to the Rebels for MR Bill Baker. Baker had one good season after that, and has driven me crazy ever since. His ERA’s in the last two seasons are over 8. Padilla had a 4.23 ERA for the Raccoons in 1977 – that was his best ERA in the majors. The minor leaguer is Rebels outfielder Dick Dougherty, who made the majors the first time this year, batting .222 as a backup. Awful trade, for both sides.

November 10, 1978: We traded SS Greg Swift to the Miners, along with minor leaguer Craig Payne, for CF Gustavo Zuniga and minors pitcher Eric Myers. The Miners don’t cherish Swift at all and demoted him to AAA this year, although his numbers are the same. Payne was released soon after, signed a minor league contract in Hialeah (AA), but was released again and is a free agent. Of course, Zuniga’s struggles were well documented, he’s batting around .130! Myers is rotting at the Raccoons’ A level team. This trade was a big bust.

The Indians had a magic number of 1 and will probably clinch against the Raccoons in the upcoming 3-game series. Canadiens and Crusaders will be the last two opponents for us, all on the road.
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Old 10-17-2012, 04:44 PM   #76
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Raccoons (64-88) @ Indians (87-65)

The Indians clinched the CL North right in the first game, beating the Raccoons 7-5. Gary Simmons had been highly erratic, giving up seven hits and seven walks for five runs in five innings. There was no recovery from that, only in the ninth did the Raccoons threaten again against Ben Green. But only one run scored there and the chance was missed. At one point in July, Simmons had been 5-4 with a 2.75 ERA. He had gone 2-8 with a 4.45 ERA since.

With the Indians in the playoffs, the magic number was 5 for the Buffaloes, 6 for the Thunder, and 9 for the Scorpions. Only the Scorpions have made the playoffs before, so there could be as many as three debutee teams in the post season this time.

Logan Evans was up in game 2. He had made a collapse similar to Simmons since July, going from 5-5 with a 3.42 ERA until early July to a 1-8 record and 5.65 ERA since then.

Evans posted the following line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 4 K, 4 ER. Most of the damage came in the first three innings, but I left him in, because I figured, why use up the pen, get saddled with 12 runs. The Raccoons lost 4-3, and if Evans could have sucked just a little less … never mind.

Carlos Moran got the start in game 3, this time without rain. He went six innings, surrendering all runs in a 3-0 loss. Raccoons fanned ten times. And were generally awful. Fast forward, quick!

Raccoons (64-91) @ Canadiens (75-80)

Four games in Vancouver, last chance to top that 67-95 records from 1977 and 1978. Because, let’s face it, they will lose all three in New York to end the season. They had lost 9 of the last 11 games, and in September were 7-18 overall. Nuff said.

The Raccoons led game 1 by a narrow 1-0 score for a long time, but in the seventh it got away. A flyball took an ugly bounce at Daniel Hall in left, and Ocasio served up a homer on the next pitch. Raccoons lost 3-1 despite out-hitting Vancouver 6-5.

Hoyt Cook went 3-4 with 5 RBI in game 2 to pick up Christopher Powell, who had shaky first two innings, allowing a leadoff homer and another run in game 2. That was it for the Canadiens, the Raccoons won 6-2. Cameron Green hurt his back making a sprawling catch in the seventh and would have to sit out at least a few days.

The offense kept on humming in game 3, helping Simmons to a 5-3 win. The Canadiens scored their runs with long balls off Simmons (1 for 1 run) and Coleman (1 for 2 runs). Gaston came on to get his first save in ages. He has just three saves in the last eight weeks! Testament to the Raccoons’ horrible late season collapse, right there.

Game 4 was Evans’ last start of the season. His control was better, but he surrendered tons of hits. The Raccoons came to bat in the top 5th down 4-3. They started major fireworks and plated eight runs in the inning for an 11-4 lead. Evans was in line for an easy win. He blew it and didn’t get through the bottom 5th. With two in, two on, and one out he was pulled.

This was a sad story, again, which should be contemplated over for a few seconds.

Moran picked up the slack, and the Raccoons piled on in the seventh with four more runs. Wyatt Johnston entered his pinch hitter to lead off and made two outs in the inning on separate plays. ‘nother sad story. Anyway, the ninth saw a 2-run homer by Angel Costa, the most unlikely of all sources for a long ball, completing the 17-6 rout of the Canadiens and clinching the first series (3-1) in almost a month (after the 4-game series against the Titans, also 3-1, from September 4 to 7).

Costa, Hall, and Sánz all were 3-5. All eight positional starters had at least one hit, and all but Ben Cox had at least two. Costa, Hall, and Simon all batted in three.

Raccoons (67-92) @ Crusaders (81-78)

The Raccoons need one win to post a new franchise record for wins in a season. This is sad enough, but the Raccoons’ record against the Crusaders all time is a staggering 16-53 (.232) …!!

Ocasio pitched as awful as ever in game 1, but somehow got through five unhurt. That changed in the sixth, where the Crusaders scored all they needed for the 3-1 win. Raccoons loaded them up in both the eighth and ninth with one out each time, but only scored once in the eighth. Shameful.

Christopher Powell got the ball for game 2, my only hope for a new best record for the Raccoons. Isn’t it sad to hope for a 68-94 record? But at least we got there. Powell did everything I asked for, scattering five hits over seven innings, while the offense produced rather well in a 6-0 win. The bullpen almost broke down in the eighth, but West and Jenkins got a K and a groundout against the Crusaders’ 3-4 pair with the bags full. Cook was 3-4 with a home run and 3 RBI.

Season finale. Johnston and Zuniga started over Cook and Clark. Cook had by now wrestled the 1B starters’ job from Johnston, but the latter’s vesting option for 1981 had triggered already, so they would both be back next year.

Daniel Hall bashed his 20th home run in the first inning, scoring Hermundo as well for an early 2-0 lead. Gary Simmons instantly gave it away again with homers to Cecil Ward and Hector Atilano. The Raccoons chopped the Crusaders’ Kyle Owens to pieces in the second to take a new 7-2 lead. At first it seemed Simmons was inclined to lose the game at all costs, but he settled in eventually and went six frames with four runs across. Up 8-4, many bench players got at bats and sessions on the mound. Hoyt Cook came to pinch hit with two out in the top 9th for 1-4 Johnston. He lined one through the gap at second to finish the season with a .300 average! The bullpen had a few hiccups in the bottom 9th, but Wally Gaston came in to end it, getting Michinaga Yamada to ground into a double play to end the game, 8-6, and the season.

In other news:
October 1 – The Buffaloes slam the Capitals 10-3 to clinch the FL East for the first time in franchise history.
October 2 – The Condors acquire reliever Felix Gonzales, formerly a starter for the Warriors, from the Miners in exchange for 17-year old outfield prospect Tsuneyo Okamoto.
October 2 – One series left. The Thunder lead the Bayhawks by 3, and the two will match up to end the season. The Bayhawks need to sweep the Thunder to even force a tie-breaker. In the FL West, the Scorpions lead the Warriors by 2. They will play at home against the Wolves and Pacifics, respectively.
October 3 – The Bayhawks beat the Thunder 7-6, as LF Thomas Martin slaps five hits in an 11-inning affair to keep the CL South open.
October 3 – The Warriors lose 5-0 at home to the Pacifics and are eliminated when the Scorpions walk off in the 11th against the Wolves, 3-2, courtesy of Jack Williams, who singles to right to allow Mike Gamble to try for home. Gamble beats the throw, clinching the Scorpions’ third playoff appearance.
October 3 – Joe Ellis pitches a 3-hitter as the Falcons thump the Knights, 9-0.
October 4 – Thunder fans have deja vus by now. Their team loses 5-1 to the Bayhawks, evoking memories from 1977, when the Thunder were also swept by the Bayhawks to lose their post season berth.
October 5 – A 9-run seventh inning turns the game around as the Thunder wreck the Bayhawks 16-7 to clinch the CL South on the final day of play.
October 5 – In the final game of the season, the Scorpions lose SS Beau Horn to a knee sprain. He will have to sit out the playoffs.
October 5 – The Gold Sox beat the Stars 6-0 in a meaningless 162nd game. The winning pitcher tosses a 4-hitter: Laurentij Mlotkovsky, a former Raccoons minor league pitcher.
October 6 – Scorpions ace Juan “Mauler” Correa wins the pitching triple crown with a 28-4, 2.11 ERA, 200 K season.

Outfielder John Thompson of the Raccoons’ AAA team retired at the age of 35. He spent four seasons there, never progressing to the majors.

Players on the DL missing from the roster stat pic below:
Jorge Romero (32 GS, 12-11, 3.10 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Rich Hughes (20 G, 0 GS, 1-0, 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
Jason White (1 G, 0 GS, 0.1 IP, 0-0, 27.00 ERA, 6.00 WHIP)
Ralph Nixon (73 G, 250 AB, .304 / .361 / .444, 9 HR, 35 RBI)
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Old 10-17-2012, 05:21 PM   #77
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League Championship Series:

Buffaloes @ Scorpions … 2-4 … (SAC lead 1-0) … SAC Correa gets into early trouble, but the offense picks him up late. Larry Marshall’s 3-run homer in the seventh rights the ship for Sacramento.
Indians @ Thunder … 2-5 (OCT lead 1-0) … Thunder score five in the first, then cruise. OCT Morton Jennings goes 7.1 IP with 4 H, 2 ER.

Buffaloes @ Scorpions … 6-7 … (SAC lead 2-0) … Up by five, the Scorpions slip and fall in the fifth, allowing the Buffaloes to tie it. The game almost got away from close Octavio Morín.
Indians @ Thunder … 1-2 … (OCT lead 2-0) … 14-game winner Ralph Hoyles outlasts 21-game winner Billy Robinson in a pitcher’s duel.

Scorpions @ Buffaloes … 6-5 (12) … (SAC lead 3-0) … Sacramento comes from behind this time, then wins it in the 12th, when Ray Kirk singles in Glenn Williams.
Thunder @ Indians … 4-5 … (OCT lead 2-1) … The Indians sock three homers, then send Ben Green (former Raccoon) to successfully save it and stay in the race.

Scorpions @ Buffaloes … 4-0 … (SAC win 4-0) … Juan Correa 3-hits the Buffaloes through eight frames as his Scorpions complete the sweep.
Thunder @ Indians … 0-1 … (series tied 2-2) … IND Jose Encarnacion’s third homer of the series is all the scoring. IND Miguel Sanchez 4-hits Oklahoma City through eight.

Thunder @ Indians … 5-1 … (OCT lead 3-2) … Indians out-hit the Thunder 9-7, but fail to score more as well.

Indians @ Thunder … 3-6 … (OCT win 4-2) … Oklahoma scored early and often, leading by five after seven frames. The offensively poor Indians could never make up huge deficits and are eliminated. IND Billy Robinson hits a home run, but ends up as the losing pitcher for the second time in the series.

---

1980 WORLD SERIES: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER vs. SACRAMENTO SCORPIONS

For the first time the World Series takes place with two teams from west of the Mississippi. The Scorpions already represented the Federal League last year, falling to the Crusaders in seven games. But with their rotation, spear-headed by Juan Correa, and solid offense, they are odds-on favourites in the series.

Thunder @ Scorpions … 4-3 (10) … (OCT lead 1-0) … SAC Correa doesn’t get it done this time, leaving in a tied game. Closer Morín loses it in the 10th.

Thunder @ Scorpions … 2-7 … (series tied 1-1) … SAC Jeff Thompson goes the distance, getting five runs of support in the second inning.

Scorpions @ Thunder … 5-10 … (OCT lead 2-1) … SAC Parker Montgomery is raped for five runs in two innings, and the Thunder continue to pour on. SAC 1B Jim Smith launches a grand slam in the seventh, but too late.

Scorpions @ Thunder … 1-0 … (series tied 2-2) … Correa and Hoyles in a classic pitcher’s duel. Glenn Williams’ solo homer in the fifth is all the scoring, tying up the series.

Scorpions @ Thunder … 4-2 … (SAC lead 3-2) … Jeff Thompson comes through again for the Scorpions, who manage to score four runs on just six hits without a long ball. OCT Scott Spivey’s 2-run double is not followed up by more and the series returns to California with the Scorpions on top.

Thunder @ Scorpions … 3-4 … (SAC wins 4-2) … OCT Luis Lopez’ 3-run homer in the first pointed into the right direction, but SAC Randy Zimmermann recollected himself and followed it with seven scoreless frames. SAC C Mike Gamble reached base four times in four plate appearances, drawing a hit and three walks and was involved in three of four runs for his team. OCT Guy King went 0-4 with 5 LOB and was something like the unlucky loser. Octavio Morín struck out Mark MacCamie to end the series and win the title for the Scorpions, iconically jumping up thrice on the mound, both fists in the air, until he was swarmed and pulled to the ground by his team mates. Morín saved five games and took the game 1 loss during the playoffs.



1980 WORLD CHAMPIONS: SACRAMENTO SCORPIONS
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Old 10-18-2012, 11:06 AM   #78
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I have to say it this has been a fun read. I appreciate the humor, detail and it is nice to see that I am not the only one who does not seem to win right away or should I say still learning how to get a team winning. It helps keep me going. Yes, I am fairly new at this so my struggles are to be expected.

Good luck in the upcoming off season and the 1981 regular season. I will continue reading on.
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:11 PM   #79
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Thank you.

Well, I consider this game unwinnable. All those guys here that are winning titles every season must have very good graphics programs...
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Old 10-18-2012, 04:05 PM   #80
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The Raccoons were sold for the second time in 12 months – no wonder, NOBODY has any fun here! – and are now owned by Carlos Valdes, a demanding penny-pincher. 1981’s budget was estimated at $8.4M under Paco Alicea, but will now be $8.1M.

Pedro Sánz executed his contract option to spend another year in Portland. Wyatt Johnston’s option was a vesting one and was triggered by sufficient PA’s.

In turn we got rid of our trainer and pitching coach. We’d find somebody else. We eventually signed Andy Silver as pitching coach on November 7. He had been with the Knights the last four seasons. The next day we signed Michael Dempsey as trainer. Both had very good ratings. This team needs that stuff.

It was time to make thoughts about the roster for next year, and about our free agents. Gustavo Zuniga, Pedro Hermundo, and Ben Jenkins were arbitration eligible. I had talked to the latter two about extensions, but he had not come to terms. Backup catcher Kieran Lawson was a free agent and refused reasonable offers. We talked to all three again and Hermundo and Jenkins got new offers. Lawson would be taken to arbitration. Whether I even wanted Zuniga to go to arbitration? I didn’t even understand why he was a Super-2 case.

Both Jenkins and Hermundo signed their contracts on October 29. Jenkins would make $185k for each of the next two seasons (50% more than closer Wally Gaston), and Hermundo received a $548k escalating contract over three seasons.

October 27 – The Scorpions have just won the World Series, now they are already rebuilding. They send starter Randy Zimmermann to Las Vegas for SS/3B Jose Delgado and a minor league catcher.
October 31 – The Wolves send outfielder Matthew Beck to Boston for reliever Will Shelton. Both are in their late twenties and can be considered decent players.
November 4 – Gold Gloves are dished out. Ben Simon takes home the prize for shortstop, his second Gold Glove. He won one in 1978 for his work at second base.
November 7 – Juan “Mauler” Correa wins the Cy Young award for the Federal League after his triple crown season (28-4, 2.11 ERA, 200 K). Joe Ellis of the Falcons wins it for the Continental League with a 21-8, 2.27 ERA season.
November 8 – SFW George Lynch and SFB Rafael Lopez are MVP’s of their respective leagues.
November 9 – The Wolves acquire outfielder Angel Mejia from the Titans in exchange for Dave Myers. While Myers has 55 career saves to his credit, Mejia only broke into the majors this season at the age of 28, batting 12-35.

Arbitration hearings were on November 15. Gustavo Zuniga received a $99k contract. Kieran Lawson refused our arbitration offer, opening a vacancy at backup catcher. I was trying to get a trade done during that week, flying back and forth to Charlotte, NC twice.

The current pack of Raccoons had a few glaring needs: one was a producing centerfielder, one was a quality starter, and one was *another* quality starter while Jorge Romero was injured. Romero would not return until July or so, and anyway I faced the possibility of using Roman Ocasio for the whole season – a scary thought.

I had contemplated over Carlos Moran in the rotation, possibly even as #4. He had made two starts in September, one marred by rain, the other had been half way decent. I had to decide soon what to do with him, because if Moran pitched in the rotation, I needed to trade for a mopup guy, since none of the wealth of relievers really fit in there. There was a crowd of right-handed relievers vying for three spots on the roster five spots on the roster anyway, and Gaston and Jenkins were givens. I projected Gaston to close games again for the coming season, with Grant West in setup against lefty-dominated eighth inning lineups, then moving him to closer once he was confident there. This could happen next year, or even this year, depending on both West’s and Gaston’s performance. If Gaston pitched setup, Jenkins would go to middle relief, further crowding there.

I had a lot of options there, with Craig, Cooper, Coleman (who was decent upon his return from AAA after two years, but I still don’t like him), and even Jason White, whose ability at the major league level was not yet thoroughly assessed with a grand total of 0.1 IP …

Lefty relief had options as well, although with Baker’s and Bojorquez’ struggles (not to mention the long banished O’Rearden) Rich Hughes looked like a prime option for lefty middle relief. Unfortunately, his elbow was forked up and he would not be available for most of 1981, so I was looking at Bojorquez again. My red hot love for Bill Baker had long been chilled.

So, many things stood and fell just with the option whether to put Moran in the rotation. Even if he was put there, I *still* faced Ocasio every fifth day, which was troubling me.

And I don’t even have started about my infield and outfield woes. But as I said, I was in Charlotte this week. We’ll see what comes out of this.

November 17 – The Loggers acquire MR Jesus Aguirre from the Scorpions for 1B Gustavo Tramacci (he who went 5-5 against the Raccoons in like his third major league game) and a minor league catcher. Aguirre has a career ERA of 2.81.
November 18 – Players file for free agency. Now the mad part of off season can begin.

A Dominican international free agent appeared on the market, 27 year old Vicente Cruz. I had been bitten before by those international guys, but he looked like a #4 or #5 rotation spot pitcher. However, he demanded $300k, which I was not going to offer in any case.

Ah, decisions to make and trades to close! The pains of the GM of the worst team in ABL.
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