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Old 10-18-2012, 06:15 PM   #81
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I tried to sign an extension with our #2 starter Christopher Powell early on. Powell was a free agent after the 1981 season (as were Bocci, Simon, Johnston, and Sánz). I almost choked when he asked for a 9-year, $7.5M contract. I had more thought about six years (he was 31) and about three million bucks. We could not agree here for the moment, the gap was too big.

November 19 – The Canadiens deal their 1980 first round pick, SP Chris Lacy, to the Blue Sox for lefty reliever Cecil Strong.
November 27 – The Canadiens and Crusaders exchange players, with CF Ramon Lopez, a .271 hitter for his career, going to New York, and C Bill Byrd and a prospect going to Vancouver.
November 27 – The Knights claim MR Jose Vazquez off waivers from the Raccoons. Vazquez is 8-3 with a 3.41 ERA in the majors, but has not played there since 1979.
November 28 – Canadiens and Scorpions keep dealing: SP Jorge Munoz (11-14, 5.06 ERA) goes to the world champions, with two prospects headed to Vancouver.
December 1 – Rule 5 draft: a total of nine players are drafted. The Raccoons lose SP Eric McCullough off the A level team (picked by Oklahoma City).
December 2 – The Crusaders add the power bat of infielder Luis Lopez, who lost the World Series with the Thunder in October. Lopez will make $2.28M over three years, trying to raise his career total of 59 homers considerably in New York.
December 3 – The Salem Wolves ink star outfielder Michinaga Yamada, who slugged for the Crusaders the last two years. Lifetime he’s batting .278 with 93 long balls, which makes him the all time leader in the home run category!
December 7 – Chris Lynch (65 career homers) is traded from the Warriors to the Aces for SP Vicente Ruiz and two prospects. Ruiz, 25, only played in 14 games last season due to injury with a 6-3 record and 2.43 ERA.
December 8 – The Cyclones sign free agent C/3B Christian Hamption (last with the Wolves) for $1.54M over two years. Hampton, 37, has hit for double-digit homers every season.
December 8 – Bayhawks and Aces trade: 1B slugger Lino Zagallo is sent to the bay, while the Aces receive SP Kinji Jan (37-40, 4.24 ERA lifetime).
December 8 – The Scorpions acquire C Arthur Whitney from the Buffaloes in exchange for SP Bill McLaughlin and a minor leaguer.
December 9 – The Cyclones acquire 1B Jeff Lee from the Capitals for SP Dave Paul and a minor leaguer. Lee is batting .292 in the majors, but still never got into the Capitals lineup. Paul is 23-24 in his career with an ERA over 4.
December 20 – The Raccoons trade struggling outfielder Gustavo Zuniga to the Crusader, receiving C Edward Peterson, who has a total of nine AB’s in the majors. Zuniga is a career .224 hitter. He was .277 in 1978 with the Miners, but never clicked in Portland.
December 21 – The Titans sign free agent MR Bernardo Reyes for one year at $654k. Reyes had a 2.86 ERA with the Indians in 1980 and was part-time closer for them in 1979.
December 27 – Former Titans SP Auguostinho Tibo joins the Capitals on a 2-yr, $1.22M contract. He posted sub-2.70 ERA’s his last two seasons.
December 30 – The Warriors dish out 372,000 bucks to acquire SP Paul Jacobs, who struggled with the Gold Sox the last two years. Jacobs, 36, Is 35-48 lifetime with a 3.89 ERA.
January 2 – The Aces send SP Bob Hillier to the Miners for prospect Jesus Luna, a versatile defender, who can play all positions, with reasonable hitting.

This off season is not going to plan at all. I chased after several starting pitchers so far, but always came up short. Teams always want to trade for either Daniel Hall, or Logan Evans, or Carlos Gonzalez. They are never going to get Hall, they are not going to get a starting pitcher for their starting pitcher, and they certainly won’t get a prospect that cashed in a million bucks from my team and went 8-4 in A ball last year.

I was only able to unload Zuniga, filling the backup catcher spot. Although I could have gone with Angel Ramirez, I chose Peterson because he projects better at and behind the plate. Bocci will play as many games as possible anyway, but there was the added effect of dumping Zuniga, who was a massive bust, batting .122 last season.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:41 PM   #82
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January 11 – C Mike Gamble does not resign with the Scorpions, but joins the Loggers on $904k over two seasons. Gamble is a .256 career hitter with some power.
January 13 – The Crusaders sign 1B/2B Freddie Riley, who combines decent fielding with good hitting, for $1.86M over three years.
January 14 – Five players dealt between Raccoons and Cyclones: the Portland Raccoons sends SS/3B Pedro Hermundo, MR Bill Baker, minors SP Pepe Acevedo, minors infielder Richard Klug, and cash to Cincinnati, and receive SP Jack Pennington (who had an off year in 1980 with a 13-11, 4.44 ERA line).

Bang! Pedro Hermundo is gone. He appeared on the losing edge when compared to Cameron Green last September. Green struggled in ’79 and early on in 1980 in the majors, but got dialed in by fall. With Simon set and Nixon returning from the DL, Hermundo had nowhere to go. The Raccoons can not afford a bench player that expensive, so something had to be done. Baker was horrible, posting ERA’s over 8 each of the last two seasons. Acevedo was our round 2 pick in the 1979 draft, but he had not gotten out of A ball yet and didn’t look like he would this year either. Klug spent four years at the A level with poor hitting, but the Cyclones specifically asked for him in a list of five players to complete the deal. It was the usual suspects, Richard Cunningham (nasty stuff reliever in AA ball, will in all probability be promoted to AAA once the season gets under way), or Klug. I happily parted with the latter one. I hate to let Hermundo go, his offense was decent, and his defense was close to stellar, but it had to be. Cincinnati couldn’t afford the contracts of Baker and Hermundo and I even chipped in some cash to get this done. Pennington should be our #2 starter at the beginning of the season, and #3 once Romero gets back.

We’ve been struggling for four years to get our starting pitching dialed in. Pennington better goes to work.

At this point, I have the rotation shored up. Maybe Moran and Ocasio will both get their chances. Once Romero comes back, Ocasio will no longer be needed in the majors.

My lineup is also set, although some minor stuff has to be ironed out. I find it hard to place Ralph Nixon and Hoyt Cook correctly, and I plan with Ken Clark in centerfield, but I am not entirely happy with it.

February came without major trades and signings.

The 1981 schedule AGAIN has not rotated. I’m starting to lose my patience with this game. Either the online help text on schedule naming conventions is just wrong, or there is some bug in the game, because I can not possibly that much of an idiot. I have REALLY had it with that schedule crap!
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Old 10-19-2012, 07:59 PM   #83
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February 8 – The Titans sign star reliever Robinson Borquez. How effective he will be at age 36 and an injury-riddled season, remains to be seen. Borquez will receive $1.232M over two years.
February 8 – In an attempt to boost their offense, the Indians sign infielder Luis Camacho, formerly with the Wolves.
February 11 – The Aces land workhorse reliever Geronimo Tortima and his career 2.44 ERA. Tortima was with the Cyclones the last few years.
February 11 – The Cyclones meanwhile announce the signing of lefty reliever Michael Alexander and his 2.09 lifetime ERA, although his last two years were less pretty and not that successful as part time closer of the Falcons.
February 14 – More and more relievers fall into place: former Wolves closer Stan Curtis heads for the Bayhawks’, earning $888k there for a season. Curtis has 126 career saves.
February 14 – SP Cristo Perez finds a new home in Atlanta for $1.02M over two years. Perez is 59-58 with a 3.25 ERA for his career, spent exclusively with the Thunder so far.

I signed a few scrap players to fill up the minors, which had been depleted a bit with trades and releases. (The organization had shrunk by six players through January, excluding DL inhabitants, which were three more) These are not listed here, as they were all AA material at best.

I was still looking for a centerfielder somewhere. Ken Clark had been second in steals last season, but both him and Ben Cox had been struggling at the plate. Sherwood Henderson had been even worse as fifth outfielder. If I would want to make another trade, it would be for that area.

There was 33-yr old Chris Smith on the market. He was a career .291 batter for the Bayhawks and Knights, and was a good to great fielder, but he demanded $320k (the Raccoons were a little tight budget-wise with the smallest budget in the league) and he was a type B free agent. Forfeiting a second round pick for a 33 year old. Hmmmmm.

February 16 – SP Salah Brunet, 37, signs a 3-yr, $2.2M deal with the Crusaders. Brunet is 56-33 with a 2.42 ERA lifetime and pitched a no-hitter in 1977. He spent all of his career so far for the Indians.
March 16 – The Raccoons and Canadiens strike a deal that sends AAA outfielder Nicolas Castillo to Vancouver for three minor leaguers: SP Jerry Ackerman, infielder Justin Childress, and corner infielder Lou Hobbs.
March 30 – With the start to the season less than a week away, Falcons SP Sergio Salazar hurt his arm bowling with friends and will miss at least a week.

There goes 52-homer Castillo. He is 29 and I wouldn’t play him over Daniel Hall anyway. That way I got two solid AAA infielders (no real chance at making the majors in either case). The main prize is Ackerman. He looks rather promising for making the majors in two or three years. However at age 22 he already had major elbow surgery (bone chips), and he pitched only in three games in all of last season. He will be assigned to AA first, although the Canadiens had him at AAA last year.

BNN ranks the Racooons tied for 2nd in off season WAR gain at +5.1 (head-to-head with the Capitals), mostly attributed to Jack Pennington. The Crusaders lead with +10.8 trying to rebound from a mediocre 82-80 season. Miners (+4.0) and Aces (+3.1) complete the Top 5.

The bottom 5 are: Indians (-4.0), Canadiens (-4.2), Warriors (-5.2), Cyclones (-5.6), and Thunder (-8.8).

A centerfielder did not materialize. Next: roster for 1981, and then a look at the first games of the season.
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Old 10-20-2012, 08:45 AM   #84
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The last tough decision before the start of the season was to decide which of three right-handed middle relievers to send down to the AAA level: Paul Cooper, Stanton Coleman, or Bill Craig. The numbers spoke for Craig, who had the worst ERA among them, but I had not had any good memories about Coleman and those not good memories were spanning four years now. On the other hand, Coleman had no options, while Craig had. Craig was sent down.

1981 PORTLAND RACCOONS – Opening Day Roster (first set shows 1980 numbers, second set overall; players with an * are off season acquisitions; on the bottom is Jorge Romero, who will be sorely missed for the first half of the season):

SP Christopher Powell (13-9, 2.71 ERA | 58-54, 3.48 ERA) – he was totally awesome in 1980, leading the Continental League in WHIP (0.96). His control was awesome, but he gave up his share of home runs.
SP Jack Pennington * (13-11, 4.44 ERA | 77-37, 3.27 ERA) – acquired from Cincinnati. Killed the first three seasons, had some struggles last year, but I am sure, he will turn it around.
SP Logan Evans (6-14, 4.40 ERA | 13-23, 3.77 ERA) – had a terrible season, was 3rd in K’s into July, but then suffered a major meltdown, rallying to get on the BB’s leaderboard. Has to bounce back.
SP Gary Simmons (9-12, 3.52 ERA | 9-16, 3.65 ERA) – like Evans, he melted in the second half of the season, leading to the Raccoons’ collapse as a whole. If he gets his control better dialed in, he will become a winner for sure. He’s only 23, he can still learn.
SP Roman Ocasio (3-8, 4.30 ERA | 6-14, 4.13 ERA) – his superpower is to blow every lead, no matter how big. He had more than 2 BB for every K last year.

MU Carlos Morán (2-6, 4.18 ERA | 2-6, 4.18 ERA) – his first outings were terrible, but he got more solid over time. One of four men in the pen that debuted during 1980 and are back for 1981. Started twice in September, and could be used for Ocasio in case of “issues” with the lefty.
MR Miguel Bojorquez (0-1, 6.43 ERA | 0-1, 6.43 ERA) – was not spared, as my lefty relievers took beatings in 1980. He was more consistent towards the end of the season.
MR Stanton Coleman (1-1, 3.29 ERA | 3-7, 4.66 ERA, 1 SV) – has a tendency to blow up games, which I have never liked.
MR Paul Cooper (4-2, 2.31 ERA, 1 SV | 4-2, 2.31 ERA, 1 SV) – whenever the bullpen struggled, he mostly held his ground. Was below 2 in ERA until August, but was reliable most of the time afterwards as well.
SU Ben Jenkins (4-9, 3.86 ERA | 16-21, 3.88 ERA, 2 SV) – remains the righty setup. Also pitched in many close games and tied games, which the Raccoons tend to lose, so his record is not that much of a problem.
SU Grant West (0-0, 0.68 ERA | 0-0, 0.68 ERA) – lefty setup that came up late in 1980. May become closer soon, once he was pitched a few more innings (only 13.1 IP so far), or once Gaston struggles.
CL Wally Gaston (3-1, 2.88 ERA, 33 SV | 17-19, 2.71, 61 SV) – was a bench in 1980, going 33/36 in opportunities. The few games the Raccoons won, they owed to him. He has a walk issue, but struck out almost 10 per nine innings. I trust him, and that means something.

C Stephano Bocci (.282, 6 HR, 47 RBI | .292, 24 HR, 283 RBI) – did very well in his first year with the Raccoons. His RBI numbers were down because he batted leadup for a time, and is a viable #2 batter.
C Edward Peterson * (.667, 0 HR, 1 RBI | .444, 0 HR, 1 RBI) – has only 9 AB’s, so his stats are worthless. Acquired from the Crusaders to be backup catcher, nothing more.

1B Hoyt Cook (.300, 6 HR, 36 RBI | .259, 10 HR, 78 RBI) – he broke through in 1980, hitting .300 in 277 AB. He will be starter at 1B for the first time this year.
1B Wyatt Johnston (.243, 7 HR, 45 RBI | .258, 48 HR, 265 RBI) – defensively he is still amazing, but his production has declined last year. He is 39 and in the last year of his contract.
2B/SS Ralph Nixon (.285, 9 HR, 40 RBI | .326, 63 HR, 361 RBI) – played in only 79 games due to injury. Was defensively inconsistent at times, but his production was okay (if measured against his salary).
2B/3B Angel Costa (.231, 2 HR, 27 RBI | .226, 3 HR, 91 RBI) – he is very strong on defense, but his offense has never amazed anybody. He will be backup.
3B Cameron Green (.241, 1 HR, 6 RBI | .224, 2 HR, 10 RBI) – I chased Hermundo for him. Acquired in the Romero/Miranda trade three years ago, he spent parts of the last two seasons on the Raccoons roster. Has high potential, but needs to convert it now.
SS/1B/2B/3B Ben Simon (.242, 14 HR, 77 RBI | .257, 75 HR, 342 RBI) – the rock in our infield, he slumped offensively during the second half of the season. Has a big bat, but K’s too often.

LF/RF Daniel Hall (.272, 20 HR, 67 RBI | .259, 38 HR, 133 RBI) – broke through big last year, his offense and defense both improved dramatically and he is only 25 – maybe he will still become the superstar everybody thought him to be prior to the 1977 draft.
LF/RF Sherwood Henderson (.216, 0 HR, 3 RBI | .216, 0 HR, 3 RBI) – backup outfielder, but he is not very valuable as a pinch hitter either.
LF/RF/CF Ben Cox (.230, 1 HR, 18 RBI | .249, 6 HR, 37 RBI) – he will fight with Clark over the centerfield starting job, but Clark might have the edge with better speed, range, and offense.
CF/LF/RF Ken Clark (.229, 2 HR, 23 RBI | .229, 2 HR, 23 RBI) – was 2nd in stolen bases last year, and good on defense, but his offense comes and goes.
RF/LF Pedro Sánz (.288, 10 HR, 77 RBI | .291, 43 HR, 256 RBI) – has RF nailed down hard, and last season played in 160 games, without going to the DL even once, which was new for him. He has a laser cannon for an arm, and although his range is not great, he gets his share of outs. Defensively valuable as well.

On disabled list:
SP Jorge Romero (12-11, 3.10 ERA | 42-46, 2.96 ERA) – was a true #1 starter last year, then got hurt. Will miss three months at least. With more run support, his record would have been so much better.
MR Rich Hughes (1-0, 0.89 ERA | 1-0, 0.89 ERA) – lefty reliever, who appeared in 20 games for us before tearing an elbow ligament. He could replace Bojorquez upon his return.

Where will this team end up? It’s hard to say. Much depends on two things: production from corner infield (Cook, Green), and how the rotation will hold up. If Pennington returns to his 1979 form and if our #3/4/5 starters keep the walks down a little bit, the team could improve. But with Romero out, the start of the season could as well be brutal.

My prediction: the team will improve it’s record, but not by much. I think the Raccoons could finish around 74-88. Can they leave last place? Hum. Tough one. Depends on what the Loggers and Canadiens do.

By the way, the Miners, Gold Sox, Raccoons, and Condors all have finished bottom of their division three years running (the Condors four years). We want to do our part to end this streak!

Next: first pitch! We’ll start at home against the Titans, Aces, and Falcons.

Last edited by Westheim; 10-20-2012 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 10-20-2012, 12:31 PM   #85
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Good luck in starting the season off on the right side of the stands. Once that is accomplished then the team will need to be sure to stay there.
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Old 10-20-2012, 03:10 PM   #86
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They went about 50/50 in that regard.

---

By the way, I will start with the following lineup into the season:

RHP: C Bocci – 2B Nixon – LF Hall – RF Sánz – 1B Cook – SS Simon – 3B Green – CF Clark

The lefty lineup switches Cook and Sánz, since the latter bats left-handed.

As the season started, 109 players were put on waivers by their teams. The Raccoons claimed two of them, pitcher Yoelbi Maurinha (Titans) and outfielder Troy Scott (Bayhawks). Both claims were executed on April 8.

Raccoons (0-0) vs. Titans (0-0)

We faced Bruce Wright, a former Raccoon, who had made it to starter on opening day with the Titans. The trades I do…

Powell began the season by striking out Francisco Dominguez, and added another K in the inning. The Titans led 2-0 after the second, where a balk was called on Powell that eventually helped score the two runs. The Raccoons tied it in the fourth. Powell was lifted for Johnston to pinch hit in the sixth with the bags full and two out, but Johnston popped out. Coleman and West held the Titans at bay and Green batted in the go ahead run in the bottom 8th, before he was scored himself by Clark. Up 4-2, Gaston came for a 1-2-3 performance to save the game. This was Grant West’s first major league win, and the Raccoons have a winning record! Whoooo!!!

Jack Pennington was good in his Raccoons debut in game 2, but got a no-decision. He dominated all of the Titans lineup with the exception of speedster Dominguez, who had always been an annoyance. Dominguez went 3-3 with a walk off Pennington, including an inside-the-park home run. The game was tied 3-3 in the seventh when Pennington jammed and was relieved by West, who got out of it, after the tying run had scored. Sánz rectified the picture with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning. Gaston came in with a 4-3 lead. Marc Leach had a freak single to start the inning and Gaston walked two in between outs, then got Brian Adams to ground out. Two games, two wins for West, two saves for Gaston. Pennington had fanned six, and all three led the respective categories so far.

The Raccoons put up a 5-spot against Kevin Williams in the bottom 1st of game 3. We led 6-1 in the top 7th, when Logan Evans walked successive batters and was replaced by Coleman. A run scored, and I walked Dominguez intentionally to load the bags. Coleman struck out the next batter, Quinn Revels, to end the inning. The eighth was awful, as Ben Jenkins was rapped for three runs on a bunt base hit, a scratch hit over the first base bag that nobody got to, and finally a pinch hit home run. Massively unlucky, and the game was 6-5. Moran ended the eighth, but now I had the problem that Gaston had had a very long outing the day before and had been out two days in a row. Moran had to start the ninth and see how to end it. He struck out Dimian Barrios and Quinn Revels, but walked Dominguez, who represented the tying run and was faster than Darrell Waltrip’s Mountain Dew Buick. Moran allowed a single, but then struck out Brandon Patterson to complete the Titans sweep.

This was reminiscent of 1978, when the Raccoons had started with a string of wins, and also the Titans had been up first back then. The Raccoons now tied with the Indians for the CL North lead, 3-0, but we didn’t have the best record overall: the Pacifics had swept the Wolves in a 4-game series to start the season.

Raccoons (3-0) vs. Aces (3-1)

It didn’t look good for the Raccoons here. Simmons started the game and was mostly awful with nine hits and a walk over six frames. The defense bailed him out a couple of times, and he was removed with the team down 4-2. They cut a run in the bottom 6th, but in the next inning, Nixon and Simon both chugged 2-run bombs that turned the game around and the Raccoons won 8-4.

Roman Ocasio was the last of the rotation to get warm. In the top 4th with the game scoreless, Ocasio walked two with two outs. Jordan Archer worked him to three and one, then hit at a low ball and grounded out. Ralph Nixon scored catcher Peterson on a sac fly in the fifth to break up the scoreless tie. Ocasio worked into the seventh, before he was lifted. Cooper just barely got out of a jam in the eighth, before the Raccoons added another sac fly run in the bottom of that inning. Gaston game in and hit the first batter, who then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Edward Peterson was clearly not yet used to Gaston’s pitches, who could end up anywhere. Gaston retired the next three batters to save the 2-0 Raccoons win!

We were through the rotation the first time – who would have thought that Ocasio would be the only starter with a 0.00 ERA after that first five games? He also was along with Evans the only won to actually get the win. With West having won two and Bojorquez one game in relief, ALL the five Raccoons wins had been credited to left handed pitchers!

The Raccoons batted around in the bottom 1st of game 3 to saddle Randy Zimmerman with five early runs. Normally this was more than enough for Christopher Powell to work with. It was as well this time, but Powell’s control was not quite where it had been last year, as he walked three in 6.1 innings of 2-run ball. The Raccoons led 6-2 to enter the top 9th. Moran was in from the eighth, but jammed hard and Gaston came out of the pen with the score 6-3, one out and the bags full. He walked in a run, then hit a batter for another run. Only then did he find his mojo and induced a popout and struck out Jeffery Walton to end the game, 6-5 Raccoons.

When I said, I trusted Gaston, I meant that most of the time, he produces the desired results. How he gets there, is his beer. (wipes of sweat)

Daniel Hall went 0-1 in the game, but walked four times. Ralph Nixon bashed a solo homer in the fourth. At 6-0, we still trail the Pacifics, who are 7-0 after sweeping the Blue Sox.

Raccoons (6-0) vs. Falcons (5-1)

Both teams were glowing hot this early in the season, but Jack Pennington chilled the Falcons pretty good. The former Cyclone pitched a 6-hitter, K’ed seven and whenever threatened, ended innings with runners on third with a punchout. More offense would have been possible. In the bottom 8th, the Raccoons had the bags full with nobody out, but scored only two on a Ben Simon sac fly and a wild pitch. We won 5-0.

It ended right there. Logan Evans faced an all-righty lineup in game 2 and this was a recipe for disaster. He barely got through five innings and got the 6-0 loss. The offense was shut down by Joe Jones as well. Ben Jenkins had another awful relief appearance.

The Pacifics also lost, 2-1 against the Miners, which eliminated the last two zeros in the L columns. They had gone 8-0 before losing their first game.

Simmons was equally bad in game 3 and lifted in the fifth. The Raccoons never got to hurt Jorge Mora, with the exception of Daniel Hall, who tattooed a ball to the right field stands. Wally Gaston pitched the ninth in a losing effort and in the rain and was beaten for three runs in the 6-1 loss.

So after a good start the Raccoons have been shown their limits pretty clear by the Falcons. The back end of the rotation is just not good enough, that much is clear. Production was 4.0 R/G, which if held would already be a major improvement. But the last two games don’t get me in a pretty good mood. Mora is a #4 starter as well…

Raccoons (7-2) @ Crusaders (2-7)

The Crusaders got off to a horrible start mostly because of their ineffective rotation (6.83 ERA), and also little offense. The pen was great, so we had to hurt their starters. Lepore, Edmonstone, and Lee were up, all with losses, and all with ERA’s over 5.

It took me a while to consider whether to skip Ocasio or not. We had had an off day and Powell was well rested after four days off. But it was the start of the season, and I didn’t want to tax them too much, plus Ocasio had been decent in his first game. He should have his chance!

Ocasio and Bernard Lepore exchanged zeros through seven innings. That had been about the only thing I hadn’t seen coming. Lepore then walked the bases full to start off the top 8th, putting up pinch hitter Cox, Clark, and Nixon for Daniel Hall. Lepore was removed for Nicolas Le Corre, but Hall sacrificed to left to score Ben Cox and break up the 0-0 game. Cook and Simon flew out harmlessly. Gaston came into the game to close it at 1-0, but a walk and two doubles into the gap lost it as the Crusaders walked off with a 2-1 win.

Hurting Eric Edmonstone was also easier said than done. The Crusaders scored one against Powell early, but the Raccoons turned it around to a 2-1 lead through four. Daniel Hall had made a few strong plays early, but then made an error that cost the tying run in the fifth. The Raccoons finally connected in the seventh for two runs that chased Edmonstone. Up 4-2, Gaston came out. He got the save but allowed a run again, 4-3. While he whiffed two, the opponents had hardly any problem to hurt him right now, and that was a major concern. His ERA was 9.53 and he led the league in saves with 5. Whatever was wrong with him, he was not available for the rubber game after having thrown 53 pitches in four days.

Pennington and Mark Lee were both quite solid (so much for hurting the Crusaders’ rotation). The game was tied at 2-2 after seven. Pennington was lifted for a pinch hitter to start the top 8th and the Raccoons scored the go ahead run in the inning to get him in line for the win. Bojorquez got in trouble in the bottom 8th and Jenkins had to bail him out. With Gaston unavailable and righties up in the ninth, Jenkins had to stay in and bat, hitting a single to right, then was brought all around the diamond to score. He mowed down the Crusaders in order in the bottom 9th, which lasted almost half an hour due to a short rain delay with two down and a strike to Miguel Fuentes.

Raccoons (9-3) @ Indians (8-5)

I dreaded the Indians. The most unpleasant team to play against with low scoring on either side, they had done something for their offense during the winter. This didn’t really make them less unpleasant…

Game 1 was not your typical 2-1, 3-2 Indians game. Logan Evans was rocked for four runs in the first, before the Raccoons kicked it up a bit to make it 5-4 after the top 3rd. Evans even singled in a run in the second, and then had an RBI double in the fifth to make it 6-4. On the mound, he remained shaky, but managed to complete six innings without further damage, posting an awkward 5 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 7 K line. The Raccoons led 7-4 when Jenkins and Bojorquez combined for a 4-run eighth and the Raccoons lost 8-7. On top of all Hoyt Cook was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Let me tell you, there was some major shouting and foaming in the clubhouse that evening.

We were looking at Miguel Sanchez (2-0, 1.00 ERA) in game 2. With erratic Gary Simmons up, this was a game that could not be won. Simmons wasn’t even pitching half that bad, but Sanchez mowed down ten Raccoons and squeezed his team to 2-1 win. They also took the lead in the CL North from us.

A 2-run triple by Cameron Green in the top 2nd had me hoping for game 3, but Ocasio blew it right away in the bottom 2nd. Pedro Sánz left the game in that inning with back spasms and was listed as day-to-day. The Indians won 6-3 to complete the sweep after Ocasio walked five.

In other news:
April 7 – What a way to start a season: the Indians’ Miguel Sanchez 2-hits the Crusaders in a 5-0 win.
April 11 – Hunter Frazier tosses a 3-hitter as the Condors blank the Indians 5-0.
April 11 – Loggers reliever Paco Alvarado has bone chips in his elbow and is out for four months.
April 13 – In times for the series against the Raccoons, the Falcons lose lefty ace William Williams for three months to a torn triceps.
April 18 – The Rebels’ Juan Medine is out for three weeks with a sprained ankle. Batting .200 this season, Medine is a career .369 hitter and a powerful weapon in every lineup.
April 19 – The Warriors lose catcher Ed Hopper to a fractured thumb. While he was only batting .222 he was considered a team leader and kept pushing himself and others forward all the time. He would be missed for sure, being out of commission for five to six weeks.
April 20 – Sad news: Las Vegas Aces owner Clayton Undertown passed away in the early morning hours after a short illness in a Las Vegas area hospital. His son Robert took over as owner of the team.
April 21 – The Cyclones’ outfielder Juan Diaz goes down to a torn thumb ligament and will miss several weeks.

We will go home for series against the Knights and Thunder. Then May will start on the road in Boston, Vancouver, and Salem.
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Old 10-21-2012, 04:55 PM   #87
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Just two weeks into the season, I already had made major changes to the lineup: CF Clark – 2B Nixon – LF Hall – 1B Cook (Johnston) – RF Sánz – SS Simon – C Bocci – 3B Green.

Sánz, Simon, and Bocci were terribly cold at the moment, and Hall also did not hit a lot of balls, but he walked once per game on average. Of course, Sánz had back spasms, so he would miss the first two Knights games.

Raccoons (9-6) vs. Knights (5-10)

Both teams were on each other’s throats the whole game, never getting more than a 1-run lead. The Raccoons lost Daniel Hall to an oblique strain suffered hustling into first base on an infield single. Christopher Powell left after seven with a 3-2 lead, but the Raccoons blew it in the eighth. Paul Cooper loaded the bases in the top 9th, but Grant West got out of the jam. For the first time this season, the Raccoons went to a 10th inning. To celebrate, the pitchers of both teams really started to rock and held batters down into the 14th inning, where Ralph Nixon slammed a solo shot to left center to walk off the Raccoons, 4-3. My pitchers whiffed 13 (Powell and Moran both five, West three). Knights punched 11. Simon, Cox, Bocci all were 0-6. Johnston was 0-5 with 4 K’s.

Daniel Hall would be out for about a week and was not sent to the DL. With Sánz also still down, I only had three outfielders available, and two of them had trouble to even hit a monster truck with their bat.

Jack Pennington carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, before 3B Marvin Martin broke it up with a double. Martin came around to score, and Pennington was successlessly pinch hit for in the bottom 8th. Gaston walked three in the top 9th, before ending the game with a 3-1 win for the Raccoons.

Ben Green blew the Indians’ effort against Oklahoma City and the Thunder won 5-3. The Raccoons thus were back in first place in the CL North.

The Raccoons then quickly took a 6-0 lead in game 3 of the series, expanding it to 7-0 in the fourth inning. All looked well and relaxed, but then the Knights put up a 4-run seventh inning that made things close again. Grant West worked a strong 1.2 innings after Coleman and Jenkins had been ineffective, and Gaston came on to retire the last batter, righty shortstop Claudio Moreno to complete the sweep with a 7-4 win.

The Indians were swept by the Thunder, which meant that we now were 1.5 games ahead again, just as we had been before the horrible series in Indianapolis. Bad news: Thunder was up next.

By the way, the four teams that have finished dead bottom each of the last three years, are not that bad to start the season:
Raccoons: 1st place, 12-6
Gold Sox: 2nd place, 12-7, 2 GB of Pacifics
Miners: 4th place, 9-9, 2 GB of Cyclones and Rebels
Condors: 4th place, 9-10, 5 GB of Falcons
At one point about ten days ago, we all had been tied for second place in our divisions, or better. Compare to the four division winners last year. The Scorpions are 8-11 after a major restructuring of their championship team, while the other three are all 11-8 at this point. First place teams: 41-35. Last place teams: 42-32.

Raccoons (12-6) vs. Thunder (11-8)

Here was one of those first place teams from last year. Their pen had an ERA of 5.27, so there was one thing to work on: get their starter out (although those also only had an ERA of 4.10) and hurt their relievers. By the way, the Raccoons starters had an ERA of 2.71, 2nd behind the Falcons.

First up was the duel of Gary Simmons (0-2, 3.79 ERA) and Ralph Hoyles (0-1, 6.38 ERA). One should not make wrong assumptions about Hoyles from that numbers. He was a 76-game winner with a 2.72 ERA lifetime, all with Oklahoma. Simmons seemed to pitch the game of his life. With a 1-0 lead thanks to a Hoyt Cook homer, he dueled with Hoyles through the eighth. Simmones whiffed ten on the way and stayed in. With one out, Felipe Hernandez singled, and Dylan Milley came up and sunk the ball into the left field stands. Raffaele Antuofermo kept the Raccoons at bay in the ninth and we lost 2-1. And it hurt.

Logan Evans surrendered a bases clearing double to opposing pitcher Morton Jennings in the second inning of game 2, shoveling his own grave. He took the 4-0 loss. Raccoons had four hits, up 33% from the day before.

Christopher Powell had his issues in the last game. The Raccoons brought their bats again and tied a 3-2 deficit in the fourth, then added two in the fifth. Thunder scored once off Powell in the sixth and we now held a tiny 5-4 lead. West pitched a flawless eighth, then even came to bat in the bottom 8th, since lefty SS Gary Reed was to lead off the top 9th. West singled, but the Raccoons did not score. Orlando Torres came to pinch hit for Reed and Wally Gaston was brought in. Torres singled and Edward Evans walked, but the Raccoons then got a double play and Felipe Hernandez popped out to Johnston to end it with a 5-4 win for the Raccoons.

The Raccoons finished April with a 13-8 record, first in the CL North, 1.5 ahead of the Indians, and 2.5 ahead of the Titans, our next opponents.

Nicolas Castillo won rookie of the month with a .390, 3 HR, 11 RBI month for the Canadiens. I had traded him for three players, foremost Jerry Ackerman, who had a 7.00 ERA at the AA level. Uh-oh, next awful trade here?

Raccoons (13-8) @ Titans (11-11)

Daniel Hall was not available for the first game of the series due to the oblique strain he had suffered a week ago. We were missing his output a bit, with only six runs in the Thunder series. That would not be enough against Boston either.

The Raccoons scored five early off Kevin Williams, and with Pennington on the mound looked pretty confident. Penninton had a small lapse in the fifth and was taken deep by Frank Whitfield to make it 5-2, but the Raccoons immediately restored the old gap in the top 6th, 7-2. The Titans got another run off Pennington, but the Raccoons bats had just gotten warm and did some more damage. We won 11-3 on 18 hits. Clark 4-5 with a double and a home run, 1 RBI. Green 4-5 with a home run, 3 RBI. Cook 3-6. Ben Simon was the only batter without a hit, never reached base, and scored one on a sac fly. Pennington even walked twice and scored a run (that was even on the Simon sac fly). Pitchers whiffed nine (6:3 between Pennington and Cooper).

Daniel Hall came back for game 2 and was inserted in the #3 spot. He went 0-3 with a walk and was nailed in the game. Logan Evans pitched well, working out of jams in the third and seventh innings, and he struck out the side in the fifth. With the Raccoons up 6-0, Carlos Moran came on to pitch the eighth and ninth. He covered one inning fine, but loaded the bags in the ninth with nobody out. Jenkins walked in a run. Grant “Demon” West came on and struck out the side to end the game, 6-1 Raccoons!

After these two games, Bruce Wright brought the Raccoons offense to a total, complete, screeching halt. They only had four hits again in the last game and lost 1-0, courtesy of a Brian Adams home run off an otherwise very good Gary Simmons, who was now 0-4 with a 2.94 ERA. There was some screaming in the locker room after the game, why didn’t give their teammate any run support.

Anyway, you win some, you lose some. We were 5-1 against the Titans this year, and 38-40 (.487) all time – the best ratio the Raccoons had against any Continental league team. There were four Federal League teams where we had a 3-3 record. Two of them (Cyclones and Blue Sox) were up for play this year, the other two (Miners and Pacifics) not. Well, not playing the red hot Pacifics (18-7) was probably a good idea.

We had gained a game in the CL North, 2.5 and 3.5 ahead of Indians and Titans, respectively, now. We were 93-77 in runs scored/against, which was 9th in offense, but 1st in defense. Our on field defense was also 1st in the league. The latter was one I was watching closely. I was putting great emphasis on the defensive abilities of players. Pitcher never win a game alone, their eight team mates have to catch some balls in any case. Errors can lose you games very quickly. The team had nine errors so far, best in the CL, and tied for best with the Warriors overall. By contrast: the Crusaders had 20 errors, plating 21 unearned runs. The Raccoons had only six of those.

Raccoons (15-9) @ Canadiens (11-13)

The Raccoons didn’t hit a lot in game 1, and they lost Daniel Hall, who broke his foot, only back in the lineup for three days. He’d miss at least three weeks into late May. Hall had slid into second trying to break up a double play – that he accomplished, but then he was carried off. Something sparked right there with the rest of the team, and they went on to score four in that inning to turn a 1-0 deficit around. Peterson slugged a 3-run double. With a fine outing by Ocasio, who had five hits and four walks against him in seven frames, the Raccoons won the game 5-1. But we lost Daniel Hall’s .246 / .436 / .316 line. Little power, but on base all the time, and Sherwood Henderson would not be able to cover that in the long run.

We sent Hall to the 15-day DL after the game, and I had a choice between Troy Scott and Fernando Gonzalez to replace him as fifth outfielder. I went with Scott, since Gonzalez’ only effective position was rightfield, which was also Pedro Sánz. Scott could play everywhere on the grass. This also was the first roster change of the season for the Raccoons.

I would try lefty Scott against righty pitchers, and righty Henderson against lefties. We’d see how far we’d come with this.

But wait. Did I say that Henderson was no run producer? He launched a grand slam in the sixth inning of game 2, part of a 6-run inning that got the Raccoons ahead 7-1. Hoyt Cook had hit a home run earlier in the game. Miguel Guzman hit a grand slam for the Canadiens in the bottom 8th. Coleman and Bojorquez had loaded the bases and Grant West had surrendered the homer, for his first earned run of the year. Troy Scott doubled in a run, he had entered the game earlier as pinch hitter, in the top 9th. Wally Gaston failed to save it and loaded the bags with one run already in and one out. Jenkins came out of the pen to get Guzman, who grounded to Nixon for a game-ending double play. Raccoons won 8-6, but Gaston’s troubles were a problem by now.

Gaston’s ERA had gone up to 7.56 and combined with Jenkins’ 10.80 and Bojorquez 9.64 ERA’s there were a few who had had their issues.

The Canadiens got just three hits against the Raccoons in the last game, but scored three runs with it. Pennington was charged with one small ball run, and Cooper later gave up 2-run shot to – whom? Right! – Nicolas Castillo. Raccoons lost 3-1, landing only four hits themselves.

Since the Indians won 3 of 4 against the Loggers in Milwaukee, our lead in the CL North shrunk to 2 games. Titans 4 behind. Interleague play was up next with the Wolves and Cyclones.

Raccoons (17-10) @ Wolves (11-17)

Bocci scored two runs early for the Raccoons in game 1, but Logan Evans had a horrible fifth inning and the Wolves scored all runs they needed in a 4-2 loss for us. We had out-hit the Wolves 9-8, but hadn’t gotten the job done.

Part of the problems we had offensively was Ben Simon. He was batting .192 and well into May now this was a problem that at some point needed to be addressed. He was a defensive cornerstone, but I could drop him further than eighth in the batting order…

Simmons didn’t pitch well in game 2. Every run the Raccoons gave him, he immediately surrendered again. He left after five, with the game 5-5, and it remained like that through nine. Jenkins got the bags full in the bottom 9th with one out, but Simon drilled a grounder to home to nail a runner and Jenkins punched out the next to send the game to extra innings. All for nothing: Angel Mejia led off the bottom 10th with a homer and the Wolves walked off, 6-5. It was Mejia’s first hit of the season. A 3-run bomb had been homer #7 for Nixon, giving him the CL lead.

The Roman Ocasio I knew and hated came back and allowed the Wolves to sweep the series. He walked seven and the Raccoons lost 8-1. The pen was awful as well and at the same time we only had four hits. The only Raccoons run was unearned.

Pedro Sánz, 30, signed a 2-yr, $760k extension with us, removing the first potential free agent from the list. His current contract came in at $375k a year, so this was not a big raise at all.

Raccoons (17-13) vs. Cyclones (17-13)

The Cyclones were up and I had a very bad feeling. Their starters were struggling a bit, but the Raccoons had had a very slow week overall. Well, we started them with our 1-2 punch of Powell and Pennington, neither of whom had been credited with an L so far this season. Both were 4-0 with ERA’s under 3. Of course they faced the #1 offense in the majors. The Cyclones scored a whopping 6.06 runs per game! The Raccoons? 3.83, 9th in the CL, better don’t ask. Our defense was still 1st, allowing 3.50 runs per game. The truth would most likely lie somewhere between 3.50 and 6.06 RA for the next three games.

The Raccoons out-hit the Cyclones 11-10 in game 1. Christopher Powell only allowed two runs, both on sac flies in six innings. The Raccoons lost 9-1. The pen collapsed in spectacular fashion and left Powell saddled with the loss. It had been a truly awful game, with the Cyclones landing every shot that offered itself (Pedro Hermundo contributed happily) and the Raccoons not getting anything done. Cameron Green was 4-4 with the sole RBI of the team.

In contrast, Bojorquez and Jenkins walked the bags full and actually walked one in on top of that in the eighth, which further escalated from there. Their ERA’s were 8.64 and 14.85, respectively, and it was enough. Bojorquez was sent to AAA, and Jenkins would have found the same fate, but he refused demotion, executing 10/5 rights. Rights! Who ever gave players rights??

We brought up Jason White to replace Bojorquez, which left us with only one lefty in the pen (West). In any case, Paul Cooper replaced Jenkins at setup. But first the Raccoons had to start scoring again.

Game 2. The Cyclones went up 1-0 in the first with a sac fly, then scored Juan Diaz later, who had reached on an uncaught third strike. Pennington had been strong, going 7.1 innings with 5 H, 4 BB, 6 K. The Raccoons never scored and went down silently, losing 2-0.

Last game. The Raccoons stumbled to a 3-1 lead with a long ball by Ben Simon, which Wally Gaston blew apart in the top 9th. He walked four and the tying runs scored. Jason White ended the inning. The Raccoons lost 5-4 in the 10th on Carlos Moran. Cameron Green hit a home run to lead off the bottom 10th, but that was it.

In other news:
April 24 – Miners LF Jose Pacheco has a 20-game hitting streak going. He went 1-4 with an RBI double, but the Miners lost to the Gold Sox, 7-4.
April 26 – Boston SS Dimian Barrios goes 5-6, 3B, 2 2B, 3 RBI against the Aces in a 9-7 win, lacking a home run for the cycle.
April 26 – The Gold Sox beat the Miners 6-1, and also chill Pacheco’s streak at 21 games.
May 3 – Falcons SP Joe Jones is out for a few months will elbow tendinitis. He was 3-1, 1.54 ERA on the season and had already shown the Raccoons the door once.
May 3 – As if the 10-14 Scorpions didn’t have enough problems, they also lose their LF Larry Marshall for a month to a sprained ankle.
May 6 – The Warriors lose slugger George Lynch for three months. He was hit in the hand by a pitch and suffered a badly broken finger.
May 6 – Blue Sox closer Danny Fairchild suffers a ruptured ulnar collateral ligament and will be out for at least a year. Fairchild has 80 career saves.
May 10 – Dave Perkins 3-hits the Warriors in a 10-0 Titans rout.
May 12 – Falcons slugger 1B Irwin Webster strains an abdominal muscle and is out for two weeks. He’s currently batting .383 with 3 HR and 24 RBI!
May 13 – The Falcons bounce back on a gem by Virgil Arnold, who pitches a 2-hitter in a 1-0 win over the Wolves.

Seven losses in a row, and next are the Indians, who have tied with the Raccoons, but played two more games. Loggers and Condors after that, all at home. After that we will have a 2-week road trip, leading to San Francisco, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Boston, which will carry well into June.

At 17-16, we’re still tied for the division lead, owing to the fact that the CL North seems to suck as a whole. After all, the Indians went 1-5 during this interleague week as well.

The Raccoons were 7-0, then 17-9. But that’s over. The free fall for the team has begun. They probably won’t stop before hitting .400 again, better accept that and move on. Maybe it will hurt less then.
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Old 10-23-2012, 01:21 AM   #88
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1981 Draft Pool revealed! (this actually came during the next series against the Indians, but I want to keep things sorted out a bit)

This was the year to load up on catchers, it seemed. I found the draft pool to be very poor, especially on pitchers. There were loads of catchers and first basemen, but SP, 3B, and RF were areas affected by drought, it seemed. I earmarked 22 pitchers (two thirds relievers) and 45 position players (almost a dozen each of C and 1B).

There were like three viable starters in the pool, and the Raccoons picked fourth (and then again at 44th), so things didn’t look very enjoyable on that front. There was some interesting fielding talent, but overall the pool was not exciting. Most players had at least one bad stat. I was not sure yet, but I think my #1 pick could be 1B Danny Nichols, a raw slugger with marginal defense. He was projected with 17/17/17 potential.
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:11 PM   #89
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The Heads were hanging pretty low in the clubhouse after the last week’s 0-6 slapping. Improvement against the Indians was nothing that could be hoped for.

Raccoons (17-16) vs. Indians (18-17)

Raccoons hitting continued to be cold as a frozen hell, with just six hits scattered around. Indians won 5-1, scoring a bit here and there in game 1. Jenkins had another ineffective outing, and Jason White surrendered a 2-run homer in the top 9th. Of course, this cost us the division lead, and there was hardly any doubt, that it was for good. Eight straight losses.

Oh, what to do with those Raccoons (with the exception of shooting them). Two more games to get soiled by the Indians.

The Raccoons scored three in the first to take an early lead, but Ocasio thought this was too generous of the Indians, and returned two runs immediately. The game remained 3-2, the Indians on the edge of scoring a couple of times. Moran loaded the bases in the eighth with two outs (after punching the first two out). A tired Grant West struck out the last batter to end that threat, before the Raccoons tore apart Ben Green for four runs in the bottom 8th. Up 7-2, Gaston came in to get three outs and end the losing streak. Play sequence: walk, bunt base hit, nicked batsman, manager foaming from the mouth. One run scored on a sac fly, before Gaston got a K and a pop out to left. Raccoons won 7-3, breaking the spell. Hopefully.

Anyway, Ocasio was back at an acknowledgable 3-3 record, with a 3.11 ERA. Only Gary Simmons (0-5) remained as losing record starter for the Raccoons. It’d take a couple o’months to turn that record around, even under great circumstances. His ERA was 3.15, so he basically was horribly unlucky.

The Indians connected against a Christopher Powell who didn’t look even remotely as secure as last year, for nine hits and four runs in the first five innings. Meanwhile ace Miguel Sanchez had held the Raccoons to a single hit and had fanned six through four. The Raccoons were down 4-0 in the bottom 5th with the bags full and Powell to bat with one out. What the heck, go bat. He flied out to left, but scored a runner. Ben Cox then pounded one past center field and suddenly the game was tied 4-4. Powell pitched a solid sixth, Jenkins stumbled through the seventh. He also started the eighth and got the two runners on base that went on to score. Sánz bashed a home run to right after that, but the Raccoons lost 6-5.

Raccoons (18-18) vs. Loggers (14-23)

The Loggers were struggling in the following areas: hitting, scoring runs, their rotation, and their bullpen. Well, most or all of those were also true for the Raccoons. We’d play four and we seriously needed a series win to stay above .500 here.

Jack Pennington surrendered three straight hits and a run to start the game. Green batted in Clark in the bottom 1st to tie it again and became the team’s RBI leader with 21. Next time up, the Loggers’ Gary Simmons pitched him inside and hit him in the knee and Green had to leave the game with an ugly bruise. Pennington ended up giving up two home runs later and lost the game, 4-2. The Raccoons out-hit the Loggers but never got any clutch hits, despite loading the bases with one out in the eighth and were sub .500 for the first time in 1981.

The Loggers also led off the second game with two hits, but didn’t score. Logan Evans scattered only three more hits and a walk through the remaining eight innings, completing a 5-hit shutout. He struck out seven, including catcher Clifton Greenan to end the game and threw 111 pitches. The Raccoons won 6-0, scoring all their runs on long balls: Ben Cox hit a solo shot, Ralph Nixon hit a 3-run blast, and Pedro Sánz played a jack for two.

The Indians lost their first two games in Boston, both in the eighth, tying up the 19-19 Raccoons and 20-20 Indians for the CL North lead. That’s right: our division is SO bad, we don’t even have a winning team! If the Titans win won more, and the Raccoons drop the next to the Loggers, the Indians and Titans will both be 20-21 with the 19-20 Raccoons behind them – all tied for first.

The Raccoons lost 6-1 with three errors committed and only four hits against a makeshift starter in Dominic Beininger. Crying was all one could do, it was horrible. Four runs (three earned) were on (our) Gary Simmons, who was now 0-6.

Game 4. Roman Ocasio was not bad, allowing only one run in six innings. Loggers starter John Douglas left with an injury in the second inning. From there, the Loggers’ 5+ ERA pen pieced together eight innings of 2-hit ball. I was stomping up and down the dugout, cursing in a way that was not quite family channel. (Luckily, this was a Thursday game, so no children at the park) Their closer Jamel Tessier came on in the bottom 9th. Ralph Nixon rocketed a 2-2 pitch to left center to tie the game. Tessier ended the inning without further damage and the game went to extra innings. Tessier and Wally Gaston pitched both the 9th and 10th innings for their teams, before I brought Moran. Bottom 12th. Cook and Bocci made outs to lead off, before Costa doubled to right. Ben Simon, 0-3, came up and lobbed a blooper to right, close to the foul line for a single. Ben Cox was up next in the pitcher’s spot. Pablo Ruiz then threw away the 1-0 pitch and Costa came running from third. Greenan got the ball and warped it to the plate, where the ball, Ruiz, and Costa arrived all at the same time. Costa blundered into Ruiz, who dropped the ball and Costa was called safe and the game was over, with a 2-1 walkoff win for the Raccoons.

Ben Simon had the key hit in that 12th inning, but he was on the edge of getting benched. He had always been a .250 hitter with 20 homers on average. This year, he was batting .190 with two home runs in mid May. That was unacceptable, even for a shortstop. With Simon 50 points under his 1980 average, Sánz and Bocci 70 points under, and Cook almost 90 points under, it was no wonder, the Raccoons were struggling to score runs (as ever). Plus, Daniel Hall on the DL.

I find it necessary to mention the exceptional performance of the rotation so far. No starter has been pulled before the fifth inning was over in any game this year. Simmons’ ERA of 3.27 was worst among them. Powell was not on his 1980 form, but a 0.96 WHIP was not something you could post effortlessly every year. He was still very good with an ERA of 3.00 and a WHIP in the low 1.20s. And Simmons, Evans, and Ocasio all had toned down on the walks a bit this year. (Of course, these three things were not mutually exclusive, but I feel the need to mention it) Without this performance, the Raccoons would be their usual 14-26 right now. Or potentially even worse.

Raccoons (20-20) vs. Condors (15-26)

And here comes the next last place team. Well, not quite, the Knights were last in the CL South with a dismal 13-27 record, but the Condors were pretty darn close. The Condors’ prime hitter appeared to be former Raccoon Ed Sullivan. 36, but ageless, he was pacing a .339 bat with four home runs.

Powell faced six lefties in game 1. He still maintained good control of them, including Sullivan for the most part. It was two errors by Ralph Nixon that plated an unearned run both times, digging a hole for Powell, who went eight frames without an earned run and on just four hits. Nixon shorted the gap to 2-1 in the fifth with an RBI double. Bottom 8th. Sánz singled to right, and Costa singled to left. Two out, and Ben Simon (0-3, 2 K’s) came to bat. No, nonono! I sent Troy Scott to pinch hit for Simon. Scott belted his first big league home run and won the game for the Raccoons, 4-2, with Gaston saving it with a hit against him, but he never got in danger.

Cameron Green got back in game 2 after making just a few pinch hitting appearances (no production) in the last week. Costa was benched again, but he had hit around .300 and despite the limited exposure seemed like a taunting alternative to the .186 hitter Ben Simon. The downside was that Nixon would have to play shortstop, and his error count there was gigantic, even worse than at second base (where he had played most of this season).

I almost exploded during game 2. Pennington had pitched well and was in line for the win. The Condors had made three errors to help the imbecile Raccoons score and they led 5-3. Grant West had pitched the eighth and I forewent Gaston, who had been out the last two days and gave the ball to Cooper. He loaded the bases. Coleman started the scoring. The Condors scored four in the top 9th and the Raccoons lost 7-5. On top of that, I almost lost consciousness…

Logan Evans saw all that, and the clever boy he is concluded: better keep the pen in the pen. He tore through the Condors in game 3 and finished the game with a 3-hitter as the Raccoons won 3-0, all runs scored in the first inning. Green had scored Clark and Sánz had homered before even the second out of the game. The opponent was Alex Miranda, former Raccoon as well, who also went the distance of eight innings. Evans threw 105 pitches, walked two and whiffed six, in the second of back-to-back shutouts.

Raccoons (22-21) @ Bayhawks (25-18)

The Bayhawks sported a similarly good rotation, but boosted by powerful hitting. The Raccoons had 156 runs (9th in CL), while the Bayhawks were 2nd with 206 runs scored.

Gary Simmons started the series, and he remained winless, and was burdened with another loss. The Raccoons again did not capitalize on bases loaded scenarios. They had three on and none out in the third and Nixon scored two to tie the game, 2-2 then, then had three on and one out and didn’t score at all. They lost 4-3, Nixon batting in everybody. Simmons made a good effort, but was let down again by the offense. He was 0-7 now, with a solid 3.53 ERA. Raccoons have lost eight of nine he started, four of those by a single run. In those eight games they scored a total of 13 runs and only twice did they score more than one run.

Game 2 presented a chance: Luis Cruz started the game for the Bayhawks, carrying a 9.26 ERA. The Raccoons lost 2-1. It was one of those bitter, stinging losses that burned like hell. Ocasio was plain wild, walking eight in 5.2 innings before he got the hook. He walked the bags full with two out in the third. Cameron Green committed two errors in that inning that scored two runs – the Bayhawks’ only runs! The Raccoons managed a grand total of four hits and scored none with the bags full and one out in the fourth.

After I slammed my head against the doorframe for a while in the clubhouse, some moves were made. Ben Cox went 0-3 in the game getting a start to rest tired Ken Clark in CF. He was sent to AAA afterwards with his .088 average. Scott would remain on the roster for him, and Daniel Hall would be able to return from the DL for the next series. We’d play the last game here one man short. Also, Jorge Romero was able to get off the DL and was assigned to AAA for a rehab assignment. I intended to give him the at least four starts there to get into a rhythm again after over nine months on the DL with a torn labrum.

The Raccoons put up another fail show in game 3 with two errors, messed up double plays and zero hitting in a 5-1 loss. Powell had an off day as well with nine hits over five frames.

Raccoons (22-24) @ Falcons (26-21)

Can we just forfeit this series and give the team a few days for a really intense spank- … training? No? Oh well.

Daniel Hall came back and immediately had his 1,000th big league at bat, a double to the left corner. By then the Raccoons already led 1-0: Clark had singled and stolen second and third on an errant throw, before he was sacrificed in by Cameron Green. Hall also had a leadoff triple in the third and the Raccoons had six extra base hits in the game, pacing to a 6-1 win. Pennington was solid, but not dominant, striking out only one batter in seven innings. Bocci and Simon, #7+8 in the lineup, brought in two runners each.

Logan Evans had pitched back-to-back shutouts, a 5-hitter and a 3-hitter, to enter game 2 against the Falcons. They scored five runs off him on two hits, four walks and a hit batter.

(interlude: slamming head on the table repeatedly for 20 seconds or so)

Down 5-0, Evans remained in there. Moran had pitched the day before and was already tired. Evans only issued three more hits and a walk into the sixth inning, allowing another run. The Raccoons scored three in the eighth and went into the top 9th, down 6-3. Closer Joe Roberts whiffed pinch hitters Scott and Henderson, before Clark had a scratch hit. He stole second and was brought in by Green. Hall also got on, which brought the go-ahead run to the plate in Ralph Nixon. He flew out harmlessly to right. Raccoons lost 6-4.

Rubber game. Hall felt so sorry for Gary Simmons, he homered for two early runs in the top 1st. Nixon doubled and was scored by Sánz for a 3-0 lead. Now, this was 0-7 Gary Simmons’ one to lose.

Zeros were traded through the sixth, so the Raccoons still led 3-0 in the top 7th. Clark was clipped to start the inning and Hall doubled to left. With one out, the Falcons walked Nixon to load the bases and get to Sánz. You never walk somebody to get to Sánz. He can sink one on you at all times, but this time found no pitch to hit – all far away. He walked and the Raccoons led 4-0, and scored another one. Simmons completed seven frames of 3-hit ball, then handed it over to the pen. In the top 9th, Hall led off with a double, tying the Raccoons record for doubles in a game with 3. The Raccoons filled the bags, before catcher Peterson came up. He had gone with empty hands at the plate so far. This ain’t right, he said, and slammed one to left center. Gaston pitched a no-save situation through in eight tosses and ended the 9-0 Raccoons win.

Daniel Hall was not glowing red hot: he was glowing white hot! In this series against the Falcons, he had gone 7-13 with a walk. This alone was not that impressive, but all hits had been for extra bases: four doubles, two triples, and a home run, for 3 RBI and five runs scored. He had slugged 1.385 in the series, and his overall slugging percentage had gone from .316 to .514! That broken foot undoubtedly had healed up well enough!

Note to self: whenever Hall slumps again, smash his foot with a bat.

In other news:
May 20 – Scorpions C Rod Fields has a 20-game hitting streak going.
May 23 – The Scorpions beat the Miners, 6-1, but Rod Fields goes 0-3 and loses: his hitting streak.
May 25 – Pacifics 1B Raul Flores has a 20-game hitting streak on, but his team lost 6-1 to the Cyclones. He told the press he would rather have won the game than the streak.
May 31 – The Miners kill the next streak, holding Flores at bay after 24 games of hitting safely. The Pacifics lost the game 4-2, dropping to a tie for the FL West with the Scorpions and Warriors.
May 31 – Next streak, and again in the Federal League: Scorpions 2B Pete Ross has hit safely in 20 consecutive games.

May was over. It had been ugly for the Raccoons with an 11-17 record. Next: road trip continues into Atlanta and Boston, before we will go home to play the Crusaders and Scorpions.
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Old 10-26-2012, 03:37 PM   #90
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Raccoons (24-25) @ Knights (17-32)

The Raccoons stomped over the Knights to start the series, landing 16 hits en route to a 10-5 win. Daniel Hall was 3-5, all doubles, with 3 RBI. Ralph Nixon was 4-5, Stephano Bocci 3-5, and Ben Simon 3-3 with two walks and 3 RBI. Sánz was 2-4 with 3 RBI. Roman Ocasio went only 5.1 innings with all Knights runs against him. That was about the only stain on the game.

Now the offense was humming, right? Wrong. The Raccoons were tugged away safely by Cristo Perez the next day. Perez pitched a 3-hitter in a 2-0 Knights win. Powell had pitched a good game over 7.1 innings, but took the loss.

Pennington walked two to lead off the bottom 2nd in game 3, which derailed the game for him and the Raccoons. Three runners scored in the inning, and the Knights rode that lead to a 4-3 win over the Raccoons, who loaded the bases in the seventh and eighth and didn’t tie it up, for frog’s sake!

Another shameful series for the Raccoons. With just a little bit of clutch hitting, that one big knock, they could have easily swept the Knights again, but no, they lost again to a last place team. Losers.

Raccoons (25-27) @ Titans (23-31)

The Raccoons were 1-hit in a 7-0 loss to open the series. The whole team had gone from a few days of powerful baseball to total incapability in a matter of 24 hours, and they were there for a few days now, and would remain there for weeks, as I knew them. It was awful, nothing else but awful. Kiss that .500 record goodbye now, that team is never gonna see one of those come September.

The series ended in a sweep. Game 2 was a 3-1 loss, where Gary Simmons batted in the only Raccoons run. Game 3 was started by Roman Ocasio, who became the first Raccoons pitcher yanked before five innings pitched this season. He allowed five hits and five walks for six runs in two innings. Raccoons lost 6-0.

Raccoons (25-30) vs. Crusaders (24-31)

Four games against the Crusaders, albeit struggling ones, were certainly not promising much fun for Raccoons, that failed to hit the ball at all all of a sudden with miserable four runs from the last five games. No wonder they lost them all.

The Raccoons lost the opener 6-3, which sounded much closer as it was. They were out-hit 15-7 by the Crusaders. Cameron Green was 3-4, and apart from him the performances were outright ugly. Christopher Powell surrendered 11 hits for four runs in six innings, he just could not get anybody out. The pen didn’t fare much better (as always).

My staff managed to get a single K on the Crusaders in game 2. It was Wally Gaston, who showed Freddie Riley the door to end the top 9th in a 4-3 Raccoons win, ending a 6-game slide. It had not been pretty, though. Half the runs were unearned, and the other half had been luck and Daniel Hall bowling over catcher Miguel Fuentes. That happened in the second inning, in the fourth Fuentes took his wrath out on Pennington. Two Crusaders had reached on infield singles against shoddy Raccoons defense, before Fuentes hit one out to left, which then tied the game at 3-3. A bloop single by Pedro Sánz scored the winning run in the bottom 7th with the bags full and one out – another chance to score big, wasted.

The next day Gaston came in to save a 3-2 lead and blew it – Freddie Riley this time brought in the tying run. Evans’ pitching had been shaky, the offense had been poor. Green had hit a solo homer and they had stumbled two more runs together to turn around an early 2-0 deficit, but all for nothing. Or was it? Hall and Henderson made quick outs to start the bottom 9th, before Sánz singled to right. Hoyt Cook was up, 0-3 so far, but now he connected well and launched a moonshot to dead center that went over the wall. Raccoons walked off, 5-3.

It seemed like them ‘Coons were slowly picking up steam again. The Crusaders scored first in the last game, but the Raccoons led 2-1 after the second inning. Daniel Hall launched a 2-runner in the fifth, while Gary Simmons dominated the New York lineup. He whiffed eight over 7.1 innings, before Grant West pitched a 5-out save, allowing another run in the 5-2 Raccoons win. Wyatt Johnston hit a pinch hit solo home run in the bottom 8th.

With a game of interleague play up against teams that were at most half a game back in their divisions, confidence was not very high. Yes, we had taken three from the Crusaders and led them 5-2 for the season, but the Crusaders of 1981 were not that tough it seemed. Next up were the world champions, and while they had had a rough start to the season, they had come around since.

Raccoons (28-31) vs. Scorpions (34-26)

We would not see “Mauler” Correa in this series, but whether that was a good thing, was not so certain. While he led the Scorpions staff in K’s, he had an ERA of 4.34, so he clearly had a troubled year. Jeff Thompson led their rotation in wins (6) and ERA (2.50) and we faced him in game 1. This would have been Ocasio’s game, but he was benched for Morán. It was the first change to our rotation this year. Morán would get two or three starts before Jorge Romero would be able to join the team. Romero was on his rehab stint at AAA already and in his first three starts had gone 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA, so there was some rust to lose for him.

Morán allowed two in the first inning in an otherwise fairly solid game. The Raccoons still never had a chance. A home run by Hoyt Cook kept the game at 2-1, but they never threatened again after that and lost 4-1 after Paul Cooper gave up a 2-run blast to Larry Marshall.

Back to the top of the rotation, where Christopher Powell was experiencing a severe lack of oomph in his pitches – stretching back for some time now. He just could not get K’s – at all! He had not gotten any in his last start and only one each in the two before. Against the Scorpions he pitched into the sixth before striking out Glenn Williams, the biggest bat in their lineup, and a lefty, too. He also struck out the shortstop Leonardo Banda in the seventh. Before getting Williams, he had gone 13.0 innings without a K – the last struck out had been Atlanta’s Engjell Vulaj, remarkably also the big threat in the Knights’ lineup.

Don’t get me wrong: Powell was not terrible on the mound, he was pitching much like he had last year, with loads of groundballs for Simon and the other infielders. What he lacked was just that little bit to get a third strike, and his walks were up a bit as well. This also got his ERA up over 3. But he pitched 7.2 innings of shutout ball in this game, giving the Raccoons a 2-0 lead and was removed for Grant West when the 3-4-5 all-lefty bataillon came up again in the top 8th. West walked a batter and surrendered a home run to Glenn Williams and Powell’s efforts were nixed. The dismal pen gave up four more in the top 9th and the Raccoons lost 6-2. Powell: 7.2 IP, 0 R; West: 0.1 IP, 2 R; Coleman 0.1 IP, 2 R; Gaston: 0.2 IP, 2 R …

Good news: Jack Pennington whiffed nine in his start in game 3. Bad news: he surrendered two in the first inning and the Raccoons were shut out, 4-0. Total lack of offense. They reached second base once in the whole game…

In other news:
June 1 – Just called up, Blue Sox young gun 2B Cesar Colon goes down to a stretched elbow ligament and will end the season on the DL.
June 3 – Leland Lewis of the Miners pitches a 3-hitter in a 4-0 win over the Gold Sox.
June 5 – Pete Ross’ hitting streak ends at 23 games in a 5-3 loss of the Scorpions to the Warriors in a fight for the lead in the FL West.
June 7 – The Blue Sox trade starter / long man Pedro Vazquez to the Titans for prospect Stan Fitzgerald. That same day, they also fire their manager and general manager.
June 8 – Last year’s Continental League Pitcher of the Year, Joe Ellis of the Falcons, this year 6-4 with a 2.91 ERA, tears his biceps and is out for three months.
June 10 – CF Alex White has a 20-game hitting streak going for the Cyclones.
June 11 – The Falcons are bleeding dry: after losing Joe Ellis, John Wendon, their stellar defensive shortstop, also goes to the DL with a broken wrist. He’ll be out for about two months.
June 11 – The Dallas Stars already start to sell: reliever Howard Walden is sent to the Titans for prospect SP Juan Arroyo.
June 13 – The Stars cut more weight as they put outfielder Paul Ramey on waivers. Ramey is 42, can hardly move, and is hitting .077 in very limited play time. Of course he has a big contract as an old star – albeit a fading one. Time to call it quits, Paul!
June 14 – The Indians’ Luis Camacho reaches a 20-game hitting streak with a fourth inning single in a 5-1 win over the Capitals. The longest current streak still belongs to the Cyclones’ Alex White, at 23 games.

Next up will be the draft during the series in Richmond. After that we’ll head to Milwaukee. In some choppy scheduling we will then play the Indians at home, followed by a series in Las Vegas, then home again for a short stint against Condors and Crusaders, going into July. During the Richmond series: the amateur draft. The lack of obvious talent has already been mentioned before, there is no big thriller in that 1981 draft.

One more good thing to close this post of escalating catastrophies: Jorge Romero pitched seven shutout innings in a rehab start, as the AAA team rocked Chula Vista 10-1. He’s getting better.
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Old 10-26-2012, 05:20 PM   #91
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1981 AMATEUR DRAFT

I went into the draft with an eye on two infielders, 1B Danny Nichols and 2B/3B Orlando Lantan. Both remained in there through to my #4 pick. The Miners used their #1 pick to take SP Craig Hansen, who signed for $1.2M but had been scouted as merely above average by my scouts. Well, they have been wrong often enough.

The choice between Nichols and Lantan was not a too easy one (when has it ever been easy for me here?). I went with - … ah, just look below:

Round 1: 3B/2B Orlando Lantan, 22, from Veragua, Dom. Rep. – very high contact and gap hitting with a little power and good defense. Plus, he signed for slot.
Round 2: C Greg Thornburg, 17, from Bowdon, GA – ranked very well in catching abilities and in contact hitting, but with zero power, yet still has all it takes to make the majors in three or four years.
Round 3: LF/CF/RF Kelly Weber, 19, from Medford, OR – has many nice qualities, defense foremost, but his hitting should be enough to make the majors.
Round 4: MR Pedro Vazquez, 18, from Guacara, Venezuela – solid numbers projected, OSA has him even better
Round 5: CL Emerson MacDonald, 22, from Alvord, TX – could make the majors in some capacity, but certainly not as closer, though he’s grouped as such.
Round 6: 2B William Bray, 20, from Danville, PA – has only one position and his hitting does not promise a lot.
Round 7: C Andy Reed, 21, from Weslaco, TX – average catching abilities, good hitting (for a catcher)
Round 8: 1B/SS/3B/2B Dennis Jones, 20, from New York, NY – supreme utility infielder, zero hitting, AA level at best
Round 9: SP David O’Mulvey, 22, from New York, NY – AA level at best
Round 10: MR Carlos Delgado, 20, from Nueva Sabana Yegua, Dom. Rep. – AA level at best

I passed on Nichols and his 17/17/17 potential because OSA thought differently of him: 9/6/7. No thanks. While they also rated Lantan worse than my scouts, the difference was much smaller, four points at most in the contact category. OSA has not been always right either. Nichols still ended up in Oregon, drafted #17 by the Wolves.

We did not come around again until #44, and by then most outfielder were gone, as well as all hopeful starting pitchers. There were pen options, but none screaming. My #2 pick of a 17 yr old catcher speaks volumes.

All players were assigned to the A level team in Aumsville. No players were released this time, but I did some reshuffling, and there was of course a list of guys to be released at year’s end if their performance would not improve.
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1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
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Old 10-27-2012, 03:22 PM   #92
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Raccoons (28-34) @ Rebels (38-24)

The Raccoons had faced the Rebels only once before, being swept in 1978. The Rebels were thus the only team we had never won against.

So badly were the Raccoons struggling with the bat, that Logan Evans, who started game 1, had the 6th best batting average (.233) in that game’s lineup, ahead of Cook, Simon, and Peterson. Evans went 1-3 at the plate, something that could not be said from all Raccoons. Hall was 2-3 with two walks, Clark 3-5, Sánz 2-4 with a walk, and that was about it. Hall scored Clark in the first, but the Rebels tied it soon after that and Evans left after seven with the score still 1-1. The pen surrendered two again in the eighth. The Raccoons loaded the bags with nobody out in the top 9th! Nixon fanned, Sánz singled in one run, Costa grounded out and Bocci pinch hit for Peterson, but also grounded out. Raccoons lost 3-2. Those little suckers.

The Rebels were a nightmare for right handed pitching. In game 2 they threw six lefties at Gary Simmons, plus a switch hitter, and their pitcher Victor Macias was neither. He did what he could, but a 3- run homer by Juan Medine was the decider in the 4-2 loss. The Raccoons had only four hits …

The Raccoons also had four hits in game 3, lost it, 4-0, and this gave them six losses against the Rebels all time, with no wins, and six losses in their last six games, with no wins. Overall they were 0-12 in interleague play this season.

Raccoons (28-37) @ Loggers (28-38)

Battered, bruised, beaten, and only half a game away from the bottom of the CL North, the Raccoons travelled to Milwaukee. Worst offense met worst defense (and third-worst offense).

A leadoff triple to Ken Clark in the top 1st of game 1 – that should get the Raccoons to a head start, right? No, they whiffed three times in the inning and the run did not get in. That set the tone for a 7-0 beating the Raccoons received, and they only had six hits. That offense was a total pest. Ken Clark was terrible in centerfield, costing a few extra hits and runs for the Loggers to Powell’s detriment.

The loss dumped the Raccoons to last place in the CL North for the first time this season and I had no doubt they’d stay there, after being subscribed to last place for the last three years. The other teams that had booked last place three years running? Miners were 4th, 36-31 in a strong FL East, Gold Sox were 5th, 31-35, and the Condors also 5th, 30-37. Raccoons most aweful. They were also ten games behind the next closest team all time.

Game 2. On a rainy day Jack Pennington left after five innings in a 4-4 game. Both teams had already left the bases loaded twice there. Jenkins surrendered two in the bottom 6th, before the Raccoons loaded them up with nobody out in the top 7th. Then Troy Scott grounded into a double play. One run scored on the play and the Raccoons did manage to send the game to extra innings at 6-6, but in the top 10th the Raccoons had only two hits. Yet they scored six runs, four of them being walked in by a epically failing Loggers bullpen. Their starter Bill Warren had already walked in two to start the game, so the Raccoons won this one 12-6 to end their 7-game slide, but half the runs were donated by bases loaded walks – whether you will ever see such a game again? Maybe if you live long enough. A big win, but not one to be especially proud of. The offense still had not been productive enough to win the game without the walks. After a long time an offensive output worth mentioning: Wyatt Johnston was 4-4 with two walks (so six times on base) and one RBI.

Rubber game. Scoring was low again, but the Raccoons saw a good day from Hall (3-5, 1 RBI, 11-game hitting streak) and Johnston (2-2, 2 BB, 1 RBI), who singled for the go-ahead run in the fifth, 3-2 Raccoons. Evans left after six, and Jason White pitched two flawless innings in relief. Still up 3-2, Wally Gaston came out for his first save chance in ages. He walked two, but then struck out Cam Gallagher to save the game.

Raccoons (30-38) vs. Indians (41-28)

If you don’t expect anything, you would hardly be let down by your team, right? Well. The Indians were pacing over .600 at the moment, and playing the Raccoons could hardly slow them down.

Game 1. Simmons gave up four runs through six innings, while the Raccoons were 1-hit through five. In the bottom 6th Steve Murray issued a leadoff walk to Clark. Green reached on an error and Hall walked to load ‘em up. Nixon walked and a run scored, Sánz singled for another run. Johnston plated two more and we had a brand new ballgame at 4-4. The pen immediately blew it up again. Raccoons lost 6-4, with only four hits. Without five walks and two errors by the Indians, they wouldn’t have even got close to scoring.

Ocasio got the loss in this one. He couldn’t even get out lefties from the pen. Thus, he was to be removed from the majors roster. Out of option years, the Raccoons waved him and recalled Jorge Romero from his rehab stint. He had pitched two days ago, so I didn’t know exactly where to put him for his first start back, but probably between Pennington and Evans. Moran got another start in game 2, and we had only one lefty (West) in the pen from now. All options at AAA were no options at all. Bojorquez had just been injured (diagnosis pending), and O’Rearden was highly despised by me. Moran was not so bad an option out of the pen, although he was a righty. He walked and whiffed them all alike.

Moran did hold his ground in game 2, pitching six shutout innings en route to a 2-0 shutout win for the Raccoons. Nixon brought in one run in the first, and Grant West, who went 1.1 innings with 2 K’s, sacrificed in a runner when he came to bat in the bottom 7th. Gaston got his 12th save.

A leadoff homer by Esteban Hernandez and another run in the first off Powell put the Raccoons in a deep hole again. Down 2-0, a deficit that can not be overcome even by the best of teams! They scratched together one run in the sixth, but still trailed 2-1 into the ninth. Wally Gaston, with an off day following, entered in a non-save situation and got through them quickly. Bottom 9th. Ralph Nixon came up and shot his first home run in 33 days, his 10th of the season, to make it a 2-2 game. It was only the Raccoons’ third hit of the game. Gaston pitched a quick top 10th, before the Raccoons came up again. Simon singled, but Gaston failed to bunt him over but popped out to closer David Carr. Ken Clark struck out, and Cameron Green came up, 0-4 in the game and in a hole anyways. He dripped one along the left foul line and was safe on an infield hit. Enter Daniel Hall, 0-3 in the game and 0-9 in the series. He grounded to the gap at short and just below the glove of SS Bruce Cannon. With Clark at second, this was the winning shot, as the Raccoons centerfielder flew over third and into home to walk off his team, 3-2!

On the following off day, Oklahoma City claimed Roman Ocasio. Get happy with that loser.

The Raccoons would now play 17 consecutive games until the All Star break. And that with only one lefty pitcher in the pen. Well, it’s not like that was going to make any difference.

The lineup I was using by now was more or less always CF Clark – 3B Green – LF Hall – 2B Nixon – RF Sánz – and then any combo of catcher (Bocci or rarely Peterson), first baseman (Johnston or Cook), and SS Ben Simon. None of them worked anyway.

Raccoons (32-39) @ Aces (35-38)

We had swept the Aces in the first week of the season, but now both teams took care such an outlandish act would not be allowed to happen again.

Jack Pennington delivered his worst outing of the season. It lasted only 2.2 innings, but seven runs scored, as he threw two wild pitches, walked five and even allowed a ground rule double to opposing pitcher Kinji Kan. But Kan didn’t last five innings either, because: enter Wyatt Johnston. He bashed a 3-run shot in the fourth, and added with a bases-loaded single in the fifth. By then, the Raccoons trailed only 8-7. But three runs scored on Ben Jenkins in the bottom 5th and four more on Jason White in the sixth. Raccoons took a badly burning 15-7 loss. Daniel Hall was injured on a play, on his 26th birthday, diagnosis pending.

Game 2 saw the return of Jorge Romero to the mound, almost ten months after tearing his labrum on September 3 of last year. Romero no-hit the Aces into the fifth, before he surrendered a solo home run to Michael Martin. He went seven frames of 4-hit, 2-run ball and was on the hook with the Raccoons 2-1 down entering the top 9th. Nixon reached on an infield single, made second on a grounder and then scored on a single by Stephano Bocci. For the trash can. Jason White allowed the winning run to score in the bottom of the inning and the Raccoons lost 3-2.

In game 3 the Aces lost their starter Dave Larson to injury on a play and the Raccoons scored twice in the inning. Logan Evans worked a narrow 2-1 lead well, going six innings. Clark homered to lead off the seventh, then Paul Cooper almost ruined it in the bottom 7th. Moran came in and got two K’s to end that inning with runners in scoring position. Troy Scott was thrown out at the plate to end the top 8th. Moran continued in the bottom 8th, but a cheap error by Green (his second in the game) threw the game away – almost. One run scored. The Aces then loaded the bases with nobody out in the top 9th, and for ONCE, for ONCE! … the Raccoons connected. Bocci whiffed, but Cook singled in a run, and then Ben Simon, who sucked a ton this year batting below .210, sunk a grand slam to the left field stands. Raccoons won 8-2.

In other news:
June 16 – While Alex White reaches a 25-game hitting streak with two hits in a 10-2 loss of the Cyclones against the Crusaders, Luis Camacho’s streak ends at 21 in a 14-2 wrecking of the Indians at the hands of the Dallas Stars.
June 18 – Pittsburgh’s Leland Lewis 1-hits the Titans in a 7-0 shutout.
June 18 – Cyclones ace Jesse Thompson is out with a torn ulnar collateral ligament and will miss at least 10 months. He has not had an injury-free season since 1978. His overall record is 59-27 with a 3.26 ERA. He was 8-2 with a 2.63 ERA this year, the latter a personal best.
June 21 – Alex White has now hit in 30 straight games, with an 8th inning single in today’s game. His Cyclones had nothing to celebrate, though, as the 5-2 loss against the Rebels put them in a tie for 1st in the FL East.
June 23 – White goes 2-3 with 2 RBI, but those were the Cyclones’ only runs in a 6-2 loss to the Capitals. His streak is at 31 games.
June 23 – Juan Soto pitches a 3-hitter in a 6-0 shutout of the Titans.
June 26 – Sad news: Salem Wolves owner Lester Armstrong passes away during the night. His son Robby takes over day-to-day operations. Lester Armstrong had already handed over many of the tasks due to chronic illness.
June 26 – The Scorpions dump the Cyclones, 8-4, and also kill the streak of Alex White at 33 games.
June 27 – Rebels outfielder Juan Medine, who gave the Raccoons a good thumping a few weeks ago, goes down to a knee sprain and will be out for about a month.
June 27 – The Crusaders trade 1B Jeremy Churchill and his power bat to Oklahoma City, receiving infielder Edward Evans and hopeful pitching prospect Rafael Guerra.

Daniel Hall was diagnosed with elbow inflammation. He once again will miss about four weeks. His injury history grew longer and longer. He went to the DL, so his .284 / .414 / .471 line and his 3 HR, 25 RBI are missing below. I had three outfielders to choose from with good results at AAA, and went with Dale Armstrong, for the sole reason that he was already on the 40-man roster, which was crammed full. Armstrong has been in the Raccoons’ minor league system all those years. He has a Gold Glove at the AA level, and a long list of bones broken in the line of duty, including fingers and wrists, sprains to ankles and wrists, shoulder injurys and back spasms. He would not hit above .200 most likely, but we’d try him over Troy Scott and Sherwood Henderson, who weren’t either.

Next: one week at home against Condors and Crusaders, then a week on the road with the Canadiens and Titans. Then, All Star game.

By the way, two weeks since the draft, and most of our first picks have started well into their A level careers. Orlando Lantan is batting only .270, but Kelly Weber is above .400. Pitchers Vazquez and MacDonald have shown good outings. Only Greg Thornburg, our round 2 pick, has yet to learn how to hold a bat.

The team currently has two triple crown winners: Logan Evans and Ralph Nixon. Of course, that’s only among all them other Raccoons.
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Old 10-27-2012, 05:00 PM   #93
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Great read here!

How is Carlos Gonzalez doing so far this year?
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Thank you for this post:
Westheim (10-28-2012)
Old 10-27-2012, 05:52 PM   #94
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Thanks.

Carlos Gonzalez is doing ... badly. We tried him at the AA level, where he was 2-3 with a 6.15 ERA in eight starts. He was brought back to A, where he is also 2-3 in eight starts, with a 3.23 ERA.

That's a million bucks that ain't ever coming back.
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:25 PM   #95
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Raccoons (33-41) vs. Condors (34-41)

Here we already are at the end of June, with the series running from the 29th to July 1. With Hall out, the offense would most likely collapse completely, I had no hope at retaining a decent record now.

Gary Simmons pitched a strong game, going seven innings with as many K’s. That didn’t help him. He got his 10th loss of the season after a throwing error by Bocci plated two. The bullpen collapsed again in an abysmal showing in the ninth and the Raccoons lost 6-1. Grant West faced four batters, all reached base, and all scored by the time Ben Jenkins finished the inning.

That night, the Condors added a feared bat in Mitsuharu Yamada, coming over from the Richmond Rebels. Things would not get better a bit for the Raccoons here.

Powell remained remarkably un-sharp. Seitaro Ogawa took him deep in the third, and the Condors scored two in the inning. Wyatt Johnston’s 3-run blast turned it around in the fourth, and Johnston and Simon brought in two more in the fifth for a 5-2 lead. Powell surrendered another home run in the sixth, but went seven innings. Raccoons led 7-3 into the top 9th. White and West proved unable to get the game in, as rain started to fall. Come on boys, in my family we’re eating early! With one run in and two on and one out, Wally Gaston was sent out and struck out the next two batters to end the ballgame, 7-4 Raccoons.

Pennington ended up down 2-0 after the first. Again, the Raccoons rallied and led 3-2 after the fourth, but Pennington could not hold on to the lead. The game went to extra innings, where Coleman created a jam with runners on the corners and nobody out in the 11th. Wally Gaston was brought in and struck out two, then threw a wild pitch that scored a run, and the Raccoons lost, 4-3, going down harmlessly in the bottom of the inning.

Raccoons (34-43) vs. Crusaders (34-44)

Jorge Romero was rocked by the Crusaders for six runs in six innings, the last three coming on a home run with two down in the sixth. He was not sharp at all and got no K’s in this outing (only one in his first back with the team). The Raccoons failed to keep pace and lost 7-4. Peterson had two doubles and that was already the highlight of the day for the team.

Harmless offense did little to alleviate the fact that Logan Evans walked in the winning run in his outing in game 2. Raccoons lost 3-1. Harmless was too kind a word for it, really. With the exception of Ralph Nixon, none of them was producing anything but outs. They had seven hits in the game, Nixon was 3-4 with the team’s lone RBI.

After that game, Logan Evans was quick to sign the contract offer I had made him three weeks ago, before I could tear it to pieces. He will receive $1.05M over four years in a steep incline. This offer buys out arbitration for him, plus a year of free agency. I came in $25k under estimate for next year, but if he develops (and there are signs for that), he will still be cheap when the contract ends in 1985. That year he will make $350k.

Sánz and Simon got days off in game 3, so we dropped that one right away. The Crusaders starter was familiar to Raccoons fans, although they had never seen him in that capacity when he was playing with their team. It was Kevin Hatfield. His success as a starter was mixed: in five tries he had not seen the sixth inning three times, but had a 2-2 record. A mixed bag to choose from, the Raccoons would pick the rotten candies again, right?

Right. Hatfield never gave up an earned run in the game and took the W with him. The Crusaders removed an injured SS Carl Foster early from the game after he made an awkward throwing error in the first inning that helped plate two runs. Ken Clark homered later, but the Raccoons lost 4-3. Clark was 3-4 in the game.

Game 4 began with a comedy of errors. The Raccoons scored first, and on a balk. A Nixon error tied the game, before we scored three unearned runs after an error by Cecil Ward. Both teams exchanged zeros a few times, before the Crusaders shortened the gap to 5-3 in the top 7th. The Raccoons responded by sending 11 batters to the plate in the bottom 7th and plated six runs. The bullpen tried to lose the game, but they were unsuccessful and the Raccoons avoided the sweep with a 12-6 win.

We made a roster change, sending righty MR Jason White (6.11 ERA) to AAA and brought up righty MR Richard Cunningham, who had been the closer there and sported a 3.16 ERA. Cunningham was our 1978 first round pick, #2 overall. He had been the 1980 AA level Pitcher of the Year.

Raccoons (35-46) @ Canadiens (41-39)

The Canadiens sent their shooting star Robbie Campbell in game 1. He was 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA! At age 21, the Canadiens seemed to have struck gold with him. Ralph Nixon still taught him manners right in the first inning with a 2-run shot to dead center. Ben Simon solo bombed Campbell in the fifth, while the Canadiens just couldn’t score against Pennington until the seventh. With the bags full after an intentional walk to Miguel Guzman, Pennington got Carlos Martinez to fly out harmlessly to left. Craig and Coleman loaded the bases in the bottom 8th and West just barely got out. Wally Gaston closed out the 3-1 win in dramatic fashion with two walks and a wild pitch, before facing Nicolas Castillo with two out. Castillo slammed it to left, but Sherwood Henderson got there in time to record the final out. What an astounding win. Canadiens out-hit the Raccoons 12-4, K’ed them 7-1, walked over them 4-2, and got the wild pitch, and STILL lost.

More lineup mess-up as Cameron Green broke his hand in that first game and went to the shelf for six weeks. Costa was brought in to start 3B for a time, and I went looking for replacements at the AAA level. I found Jayson Bowling, who could play every position on the infield. He was a 1977 round 4 pick by the Crusaders and had come over in the Hermundo/Hatfield trade one and a half years ago. I had to waive AAA catcher Angel Ramirez to make room on the roster

Romero pitched in game 2 and held the Canadiens to three hits and two runs, but gave up six walks in six innings. He still was nowhere near his form from last year after that long injury. Raccoons lost 3-1, as the offense took a nap. Romero even had to bat in that run himself. He was much better at the plate, going 2-2 there. Maybe we will convert him to an infielder… (sour look)

All the scoring in game 3 was done in the first inning, where Logan Evans was whacked around to the tune of three runs. The Raccoons once loaded the bags with one out only for Angel Costa to ground into a double play. With this loss, last place was the Raccoons’ again.

Loads of scoring to start the last game. The Raccoons took a 1-0 lead, the Canadiens scored three, and the Raccoons responded with four. And that was just through the top 2nd. The Canadiens tied the score with a 2-run shot my Miguel Guzman in the bottom 6th. The Raccoons lost that one 6-5 in the ninth, when Jenkins and Cooper surrendered back-to-back doubles. No matter what Gary Simmons did, he could not buy a win for his life…

There were newspapers circulating in western Oregon that suggested a name change for the team, from Raccoons to Losers or Suckers. I instantly subscribed to the movement…

The Scorpions claimed Angel Ramirez, so he was gone as well, but I would save my tears for somebody more worthy.

Raccoons (36-49) @ Titans (38-49)

What should I say? The suffering continued into the Titans series. Six hits en route to a 4-2 loss. Jayson Bowling started 3B for the second time since Costa was so terrible at the plate, and went 2-4, which was about the highlight of the game for the Raccoons.

Follow this with a 2-1 loss in game 2, where the game got away from Pennington in the first inning. 11 hits for the Raccoons this time, but three double plays erased many of them. Pathetic hitting all around, and this continued into the 5-1 loss in game 3. Ken Clark’s leadhoff homer was it, after that the Raccoons stopped production altogether.

Ralph Nixon was the only All Star for the Raccoons. The Federal League won 5-4, Nixon only pinch hit and went 0-1.

In other news:
June 29 – The Rebels trade LF/RF Mitsuharu Yamada, one dangerous hitter, and a minor league player for prospects with the Condors. [What a crap trade. NO team in playoff contention would do a trade like that EVER.]
June 30 – The Canadiens’ Eddy Bailey has a 20-game hitting streak going.
July 1 – Bruce Cannon, shortstop for the Indians, also has hit in 20 straight games.
July 2 – The Gold Sox transfer powering outfielder Ramon Borjón to the Warriors in exchange for reliever Juan Carlos Gomez and outfield prospect Mike King. The advisability of this move for Denver is questionable. They have trouble scoring runs anyway, now trade the all time home run leader Borjón (100 long balls) away, and Gomez has constantly deteriorated since strong 1978 and 1979 campaigns.
July 2 – Dallas CF Joe Nelson has quite a day in an 18-6 slapping of the Pacifics. He goes 5-6 with 8 RBI’s, including a grand slam and a 3-run slam.
July 3 – The Aces lose CF Michael Martin, just over from the Miners, to a sprained ankle for four weeks.
July 3 – Eddy Bailey’s hitting streak ends at 22, as he goes 0-4 in a 3-2 loss to the Indians.
July 4 – You do it to me, I do it to you: one day after the Indians chilled Bailey, the Canadiens return the favor and kill off Bruce Cannon’s streak at 22 games as well.
July 4 – Scorpion Pete Ross, a supreme contact pitcher, goes down to a shoulder injury for a month.
July 14 – The Crusaders send SS Carl Foster to the Pacifics in exchange for the L.A. closer Kyle Wallace.

Raccoons have dropped 17 games each of the last two months, and they are 2-10 in July. They sure got a head start to raise the mark.

Oh, here’s another story: our round 1 pick from this year’s draft, Orlando Lantan, has forked up his knee and is out for the year. Huzzah……..

Nobody can even begin to imagine the amount of bitterness and frustration this game is bringing into my (already bitter) life.

After the break: Canadiens, Indians, Thunder. Whenever I feel like I need more electronic humiliation and only once I have restocked on happy pills.
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Old 10-30-2012, 10:47 AM   #96
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Much text, few games for this update. Warning: includes self-pity, tears, and two bangs.

The All Star break gave me the chance to shape the rotation a bit. Pennington and Powell switched in #1 and #2, and Evans and Romero switched #3 and #4. Simmons remained #5. We had ended with Romero before the break, but now would start with Pennington again. With the next series being another 4-game stint against the Canadiens, all but Simmons would get their turn. Quiet, Gary! You already have your share of losses!

As much as I wanted to change the lineup … I had no idea. Daniel Hall’s bat was missing everywhere. Simon, Bocci, Johnston – all are down considerably from last year. Johnston has even replaced Hoyt Cook again, who proves unable to repeat his .300 season from last year, and even worse, is batting around .220 this season. With Matt Workman waiting at the AAA level, this could spell doom for Cook. There was also no production from 3B, and Green was now down on the DL, so we didn’t even get his solid defense.

More trouble brewing. Many of the best Raccoons are in contract years and I already see on the horizon that I will not be able to retain them all. Or do I even want to retain them all? All of them were asking for way too much money, in any case.

Raccoons (36-52) vs. Canadiens (45-42)

Six losses in a row, and here came the Canadiens again. I can not say I was too happy. But then again, the Raccoons lost against everybody, why bother against whom they lost?

The Raccoons got up 3-0 early after two innings, but still could have scored much more with eight hits in those two innings. Bocci made a costly throwing error in the third that plated two unearned runs and cost Pennington a shot at a W. He left in the seventh in a 4-4 game. Bowling tripled to lead off the bottom 8th and Henderson sacrificed to score him, 5-4. Enter Wally Gaston. He gave up a leadoff homer to Miguel Guzman and the game was tied again. Gaston surrendered another run and the Raccoons entered the bottom 9th trailing, 6-5, and needless to say, didn’t get anybody in, although Simon and Johnston led off with a hit and a walk. They had out-hit the Canadiens 14-7. Seventh consecutive loss.

Ken Clark went down with a bruised thigh in that first game and Trey Scott replaced him in the lineup, but of course this took out about the only guy one could fittingly describe as leadoff hitter. He would miss about three days.

The Raccoons then scored first and lost again in game 2, 5-2. Sánz hit a home run, apart from that it was another poor game.

With that piss poor hitting, it took a pitcher’s effort to stop the 8-game slide. Logan Evans stepped in and delivered, tossing a 4-hit shutout with 2 BB and 4 K in game 3. Opposite pitcher Hubert Gaines also pitched a great game, surrendering three hits. The Raccoons squeezed through to a 2-0 win, both runs unearned after a Rich Johnson error that allowed Nixon to reach in the second. Sánz doubled him in and then came around on flyouts.

Ken Clark was able to return early in game 4, taking leadoff again. Bowling and Johnston batted #2 and #3 for three lefties on top of the lineup. But against Robbie Campbell that was not really important. He was hard to hit, and the Raccoons had a hard time hitting.

This was Romero’s game and he remained wonky. The Canadiens loaded the bags in the third with two out and Miguel Guzman up. He rocketed a Romero pitch to dead center that missed the wall by two feet at most and just barely tipped into the glove of Ken Clark to end the inning. Ultimately it didn’t help either, because Nicholas Castillo bashed a 2-run shot in the fourth. Why did I trade that guy again? I can’t remember. The Raccoons were just barely able to avoid being shutout thanks to Wyatt Johnston RBI double, but lost 4-1 against a viciously dominant Campbell.

Raccoons (37-55) @ Indians (57-36)

Gary Simmons lasted 2.1 innings to open this series, surrendering a 3-run double to Luis Camacho in the first, and a 3-run home run to Jose Encarnacion in the third. The Raccoons lost 7-0. Ken Clark and Jayson Bowling each had two hits. That was pretty much it.

After the game, the Portland Raccoons released Ben Jenkins after working with the reliever since the league’s inception. Jenkins was 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA in 39 games this season. He refused demotion, exercising 10/5 rights, and with his trips to the mound not improving, the Raccoons saw themselves forced to show him the other door. Jenkins had pitched in 270 games for the team with a 16-24 record and a 4.33 ERA.

We called up Jason White to take over Jenkins’ spot. White’s ERA this season was 6.11 in the majors, but he had since pitched 11 innings in AAA ball with a 1.64 ERA and good control over his pitches.

The Raccoons were shut out again the next day, 2-0, while Pennington whiffed seven to no avail. Game 3 was a 4-0 loss, and thus the Raccoons were shut out, 13-0, over the 3-game series.

Words can not describe what I feel.

In other news:
July 19 – The Scorpions keep drawing injuries. After Rod Fields and Pete Ross another key member of the team is out, as Glenn Williams breaks his thumb in a game against the Stars. The .300+ hitter with 13 home runs will miss about six weeks.
July 19 – As the Blue Sox recover from their horrible first two months, their CF Raul Herrera now also has a 20-game hitting streak on the line.
July 21 – The Buffaloes beat the Blue Sox, 4-1. They also beat the streak of Herrera, which stops at 20 games.

We had an off day and I used it to a) cry, b) look at my roster, c) look at my potential free agents’ demands, and d) cry some more. Then I picked up the phone, and by late evening of this July 23, this happened:

The Raccoons trade SP Jack Pennington (7-7, 3.11 ERA) to the Topeka Buffaloes and receive infielders Mark Dawson (.268, 6 HR, 61 RBI in 93 games), Edgardo Gonzalez (.234, 0 HR, 23 RBI in 72 games, but currently at AAA with .341, 1 HR, 8 RBI in 21 games), and $48,000 in cash to cover the difference in contracts for the over-budget Raccoons!!

I will let that sink for a second.

Reason behind this: we acquired Jack Pennington in a trade with the Cyclones for Pedro Hermundo and three other players this off season. I was happy with what I got, period. He would have 12 wins by now for a team that actually scored some runs. However, Pennington is also in a contract year. He is demanding a 9-year, $1M per year contract, and I just can not pay that. Not for nine years, not for three, and not even for one year. Period.

Gonzalez is just a filler in there, trying to get all I can, but Mark Dawson is a major force at the plate. He is having a down year (like Pennington had one in 1980), but he has smashed 19 or more home runs each of the last three season, with a high of 27 in 1980. He is a .250 hitter, but is producing over 25% doubles in his hits.

I would have lost Pennington anyway for a dubious draft pick or two. Better get something substantial now, because this season has another 67 games and if this overall sucking of the team continues I will for sure snap before even half of those are over. Dawson will play corner infield, most likely 3B to start with. Gonzalez is assigned to AAA until at least August 31. Outfielder Dale Armstrong was sent to AAA, and MR Tony Lopez was called up to be long man in the pen. Carlos Moran will slide into the rotation at #4 or #5.

There are another seven days till the trading deadline. More unloading highly likely.
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:33 PM   #97
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Raccoons (37-58) @ Thunder (52-42)

Logan Evans held the Thunder to five hits in seven innings, but among them was a home run by Guy King. The Raccoons didn’t score during those seven innings, not even when Mark Dawson led off the top 7th with a double. Top 8th, and Bocci and Johnston landed freak hits with one out. Clark popped to right, but Guy King dropped the ball and everybody was safe. Henderson struck out, which sent up Dawson with the Raccoons 1-0 down, the bags full and two out. Dawson send a crawler over the mound for an infield single that tied the game, but Nixon struck out and the chance was wasted. Coleman almost botched the game in the bottom of the inning, before West and Cunningham bailed him out. Forrest Reid for the Thunder and Cunningham each struck out the side in the ninth, with the Raccoon having to work around a Jayson Bowling error. Jason White worked four innings in relief, all scoreless (you may guess the Raccoons didn’t score either…) in a 1-1 game. The moment I brought in Tony Lopez it began to escalate and only Pedro Sánz held the Raccoons in the game with one of his trademark laser gun shots knocking out Orlando Torres at the plate to end the bottom 14th. Top 16th: Dawson singled and Nixon walked with one out. Sánz struck out, before Simon singled to right and scored Dawson. 2-1 Raccoons. Enter Wally Gaston. He gave up a leadoff double to Alfonso Aranda, who came around to score on a sac bunt and sac fly. The Raccoons lost in the 17th, when Pedro Marroquin scored on a wild pitch by Gaston. There’s nothing one can do but facepalm with this team.

That was it for Wally Gaston as closer of the Raccoons. Grant West took over. I had no other lefty in the pen, but what the heck. Also: Jayson Bowling was sent back to AAA to make room for Daniel Hall, who returned from the DL.

Jorge Romero was shelled for seven runs in the first three innings in game 2. His arm was as dead as Disco, better cut it off and move on… Romero had half the team’s hits in that game: 1. The other was Hall’s. Raccoons were downed 10-0, and Dragoljub Djukic went the distance in the 2-hitter and threw 141 pitches, whiffing five.

The Raccoons took a 1-0 lead in the third, but Moran blew it and allowed four runs. Bocci hit a 3-run shot for another 5-4 lead, which led to another overly spectacular bullpen explosion in the bottom 8th, where Cunningham and White were incinerated for seven runs – without recording an out. Raccoons lost 11-5.

Raccoons (37-61) vs. Bayhawks (58-41)

I tested some stuff as soon as we got home: better heart medication. Being the leader of this hopeless bunch was nothing one could survive for long.

New pills don’t necessarily mean less blood pressure. The Raccoons led 1-0, when Simmons walked in a run. He got another loss today, who’d have thought… The Raccoons went down 3-2, missing several chances with runners in scoring position and grounding into FOUR double plays.

New game, new lows: Powell was staked to a 2-0 lead in the third, but in the fifth gave up a game-tying home run to Eduardo Jimenez – the opposing pitcher. It was Jimenez’ first home run ever. After Mark Dawson had punched a 2-run shot, Powell threw a wild pitch that scored another run for the Bayhawks. They wobbled through into the ninth with that 4-3 lead. Grant West came in to save it. He surrendered a leadoff home run to Chris Scott. Lopez lost it in the 11th, Bayhawks won 5-4.

Ten losses in a row! Logan Evans entered the last game of the Bayhawks series with the 3rd best ERA in the league. He quickly surrendered one after another, 12 hits through five innings. Wyatt Johnston shot his second homer of the series in the bottom 5th, for two runs, to tie it again at 3-3. Sánz singled in Hall in the bottom 6th to make it a 4-3 game. West came in again in the top 9th with that 4-3 lead – just like yesterday. He loaded the bases with two walks and a single in between. With two outs, Manuel Flores came up, sending a roller up the right foul line. Old Johnston hustled to get it, then hustled back to the bag, just beating out Flores, preserving the 4-3 lead for the win, ending the 10-game losing streak of the Raccoons.

I tried to get more trades in before the deadline, but nothing came to fruition.

Raccoons (38-63) vs. Knights (39-62)

Judging by the two teams’ records, this was the Portland Miserables against the Atlanta Hopeless.

The Raccoons led 4-0 after three, before it started to get away from Romero, who had no-hit the Knights through four innings. The Knights then scored three against him in the next two innings. For the third game in a row, West entered the top 9th with the Raccoons up 4-3. He didn’t make it and was replaced with runners on the corners and two out. Wally Gaston came in to face catcher Steve Wall. He had to get him, or else feared Engjell Vulaj would come up again. He grounded into the gap on the left, where Ben Simon just barely got to the ball and threw out the slow Wall at first. TWO WINS IN A ROW!! WE ARE THE KINGS OF THE WORLD!!

It was Romero’s first win of the season, in his seventh start since returning from the torn labrum.

Runs were scored in pairs to start the second game. The Raccoons scored two in each of the first three innings, with the Knights scoring two twice in between. That 6-4 lead held a while. The Knights put up a threat in the seventh that chased Moran from the game. Cooper came in with a runner on third and one out, then walked Claudio Moreno. On a full count he struck out Rich Wright, while Moreno was on the way to second, where he was gunned down by Bocci and the inning was over – big play! The game was still 6-4 entering the top 9th. West was too tired after three days in service, so Gaston entered and pitched a 1-2-3 save. THREE WINS IN A ROW!! WE ARE THE KINGS OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!

Three in a row with this August 1 win – they had also clinched the series against the Knights, the Raccoons’ first series win since the Indians series on June 22-24! Rich Hughes came off the DL and was sent for a rehab assignment to AAA.

Gary Simmons lasted only 2.1 innings in game 3. He did everything he could to lose games, surrendering two home runs, five runs in total, then hit a batter. Tony Lopez came in, but it was already too late to recover for the Raccoons, who only landed four hits in the game and lost 6-2.

In other news:
July 25 – The Titans send Antonio Gonzalez, 18, to the Capitals for solid reliever Carlos Reyna. Gonzalez was discovered by the Titans in Puerto Rico this winter and many think he could develop into a prime powerful corner infielder.
July 25 – Wolves catcher Carlos Gonsales is out for a few weeks with a sprained wrist. He’s batting .345 with no long balls this year.
July 29 – The Aces send 1B Luis Romero (9 HR this year) to Vancouver for RF Jose Alomar and pitching prospect Donald Tyler.
July 30 – The Warriors try to shore up their pen, trading for MR Nicolas Le Corre from the Crusaders. They give up slugger Dan Younger for it. The same day the Warriors also trade for former Raccoons infielder Ed Sullivan with the Condors, sending a minor league starter to Tijuana. Sullivan is having his finest season at age 36, hitting .295 with 11 home runs.
July 31 – Buffaloes closer Lowell Booth is out for the year with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

The Raccoons were – hold on to something – a whopping 5-21 in July. That’s a .192 PCT. That … that is … undescribeable with only words that would not get me banned instantly here.

I see at least four names on this roster that will have to go someplace else this winter. Anyone able to guess them all?

By the way, Gary Simmons is not among them, and he does not lead the league in losses (that is Manuel Rodriguez who has 16 losses between the Knights and Titans and has an ERA three points higher). Simmons is 3rd in K/9 in the CL, and 5th in all of ABL! But the true standout among pitchers was Logan Evans on my staff, 4th in ERA, t-1st in shutouts (3), and t-1st in HR/9. Christopher Powell also made the hit lists in an old domain of his: he was 6th in BB/9.

The batting department is much less glorious. Nixon is 7th in hits and total bases, and t-5th in home runs. Clark is 1st in steals (26, 10 more than anybody else), and 2nd in triples. Two of the Top 3 in K’s are unfortunately Raccoons as well: Sánz leads the category by one over the Condor’s Manny Negron. Simon is 3rd. That lack of putting balls into play in the #5-#6 area in the lineup is hurting us a TON! Clark, Hall, Dawson, and Nixon make up the first four spots in the lineup. All are on base quite a lot, and/or can go into the gaps or stands to advance runners. But whatever stands on base after Nixon’s at bat all too often gets stuck.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:43 PM   #98
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5-21? Ouch. I might have a better shot at guessing the four that will be back next year.
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:21 AM   #99
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That winter could (or maybe: will) radically change the appearance of the Raccoons, that's for sure. Powell, Simon, Bocci are free agents, none is willing to re-sign at reasonable prizes. (Ben Simon *still* has appeared in *every* Raccoons game!) With the way Sánz and Cook are playing, and with Johnston already 39 (his contract is also up), there are only three players that you will definitely find in the lineup on opening day 1982: LF Hall, 2B Nixon, and 1B/3B Dawson. The rest is ... rather vague...

The four I was thinking of were: Costa, Cook, Scott, and Peterson.

Costa has worn out his welcome after a decent season last year, he is back to sub-.200 batting. He has not had a hit in 39 games in which he appeared (quite a few of them as starter between the Cameron Green injury and the trade for Mark Dawson). Cook is 99 points below his average from last season. That was HIS chance to remove the old Wyatt Johnston for good, but you know what? Johnston now plays the majority of the games again. Scott is 28 or 29 and an outright fail, suited for AAA, but that's it. Peterson hit a grand slam, apart from that he is very poor even for a backup.

There are also quite a few pitchers that could go down the Ben Jenkins Way. I don't mean Jorge Romero, I am sure he still has it in him, although that was his second torn labrum. I don't even mean Gary Simmons, who pitched well through June, but with zero run support. But Coleman (whom I never liked), White, and Cooper all do not deliver in those close 1-run, 2-run games. That leads us to Wally Gaston. But I can not probably replace 'em all.

And if I do not re-sign Christopher Powell, my rotation will consist of the erratic Logan Evans, who alternates between 2-hitters and 7-run games, ailing veteran Romero, former mop up Carlos Moran, and luckless Gary Simmons, and whom else? The material at AAA is frightening.

Finally, Daniel Hall NEEDS to stay healthy for once! He has only played half the games, but if he had the AB's to qualify, he'd be in the Top 5 in slugging in the league. He is drawing insane amounts of walks, too. But that body needs to hold up now, he's been infected by Pedro Sánz' injury bug!
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Old 11-12-2012, 04:53 PM   #100
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Raccoons (40-64) @ Aces (52-54)

We batted around the lineup in the first inning in game 1, scoring five runs, including a 3-run home run by Ben Simon, all off former Titan Kinji Kan. The Raccoons gave the Aces a good thumping overall with 17 hits in a 10-4 win. Powell went seven frames of 2-run ball. The other two were given up by White in the bottom 9th with two outs. I became more and more convinced that he was just not cutting it at the major league level. Johnston went 4-5, Simon 3-5 with the home run and 5 RBI, Clark 3-4 with 2 RBI.

Next game, more offense, right? Yeah? What, are you new here!? The Raccoons and Logan Evans in particular were brutally slaughtered. Evans didn’t make it through five innings, being charged with six runs. Raccoons lost 6-1, plus Ralph Nixon, who was injured on a play.

Nixon would be out six weeks with an oblique strain, which effectively was almost the rest of the season. He would come back with about two weeks remaining. That put me with Angel Costa, and I was not amused.

Game 3. Costa was now playing second base, which meant that any hopes on offense could be effectively buried. He still got his first hit since June 7, 59 days and 32 AB’s ago! The Raccoons had 10 hits to the Aces’ five, yet lost 4-2. Romero gave up four RBI doubles in seven innings. Bocci 3-4, Clark 3-5 with an RBI, but struck out with Johnston on base to end the game.

Nixon went to the DL after the Aces series, but I had another ace in my sleeve. Edgardo Gonzalez, the remains of the Dawson/Pennington trade. He could play all infield positions, but was best at short. With Simon moved to 2B, this would be a better alternative to Angel Costa. Seen, thought about, executed.

Who was Edgardo Gonzalez? He was 27, from Glendale, AZ. He had been in the Buffaloes system since 1977 and had played in the majors since 1979, but had never stuck there. In 856 AB’s with the Buffaloes he had racked up a skewed .245 / .338 / .313 line. He was drawing tons of walks, but was a singles hitter. He had a grand total of one home run. He was not very fast (3 SB in his ML career), but his defense made him a valid alternative to … let’s say Angel Costa.

Raccoons (41-66) vs. Loggers (45-63)

Gonzalez made his debut against the Loggers, playing short and batting eighth. In his first chance, he committed a throwing error. By then, the Raccoons were down 2-0, anyway, so the game was already out of reach. Why bother. Moran was awful, as was the defense, as Simon committed another error and the Raccoons were down 6-0 after the top 4th and remained so into the bottom 7th. There, Loggers starter Bill Warren lost control and walked the bases full. Henderson pinch hit for Jason White for one run. Clark struck out, which was the second out in the inning. Bocci drew a walk, 6-2, bases still loaded. Antonio Cordero came in to face Daniel Hall, who had hit only three homers this season, but he took this one deep and tied up the game with one big rip. The Raccoons walked off in the bottom 9th on a Mark Dawson RBI double that scored Ken Clark from second. The Loggers had walked Daniel Hall intentionally to get to Dawson before that. Raccoons won, 7-6. Hall was 2-3 with two walks, the homer, and 4 RBI. This was the Raccoons’ 300th win. They have 456 losses.

Simmons was shelled the next game, for nine runs in 4.2 innings. Two hits and three RBI to the opposing pitcher – way to go! Raccoons lost 10-2, Dawson hit a home run. They were shut out the next day, 2-0, on just five hits.

Game 4. Evans surrendered five runs in the second inning, three earned. Bocci kindly helped killing another game by throwing the ball a mile past Johnston at first on a sac bunt by pitcher Dominic Beniniger. Daniel Hall hit a 2-run shot, but that was all. Raccoons lost 6-2 and at the same time punched their ticket for last place four years in a row.

Raccoons (42-69) vs. Canadiens (58-52)

The Raccoons delivered – at least partially – a very fine game to open the Canadiens series. Jorge Romero pitched seven scoreless with a solo home run by Ben Simon for a 1-0 lead. Gaston and West both pitched around leadoff walks in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve the win, but the offense only had five hits in the game again.

Simon hit another solo shot, again in the bottom 2nd, in game 2, but this time it only tied the game after Moran had already fallen behind 1-0. We had another chance at scoring, but Edgardo Gonzalez was thrown out at the plate on a Moran double to end the inning. Daniel Hall would get the Raccoons ahead 2-1 in the bottom 6th with a solo home run. Moran would hold that through eight. In the bottom 8th Clark, Hall, and Dawson loaded up the bases with one out. Sánz and Simon were up next. What happens? 2 K’s. Of course 2 K’s. Grant West saved the 2-1 win despite walking the leadoff man again.

Next up: 15-game loser Gary Simmons. (Funny: the Loggers’ Gary Simmons has 15 wins now) he almost surrendered a 2-run homer to Luis Romero in the top 1st that Pedro Sánz scratched off the top of the wall. The Raccoons lost 4-0, amassing a total of three hits. Simmons got his 16th loss with all runs against him in seven innings. I don’t blame him. I blame the no-offense offense.

Mark Dawson got some rest in game 4, so that reduced our punch to mainly Daniel Hall. And that was it? Pedro Sánz was also taken out, but not for rest. He was benched.

(short break for that to sink in)

His K’s were getting way overboard and his hitting was down almost 50 points from last year. This could not go on this way. We’d try Sherwood Henderson in right for a few days, and maybe Troy Scott (with Clark in right) in center as an alternative. And if those replacements were done with racking up a 1-38 record at the plate, we’d go back to Sánz.

So, what happened in the first inning? The Raccoons filled the bags, and Henderson came up with two out – and was struck out by Robbie Campbell (who led the CL in K’s anyway). Jorge Romero was perfect the first time through the Canadiens lineup, but was taken deep by Luis Romero in the fourth for two runs. Eddy Bailey made it 3-0 with a long ball to start the top 7th, before the Romeros faced each other again. This time Jorge plunked Luis and a brawl ensued when the Canadiens batter stormed the mound. Both Romeros were tossed from the game and suspended for three games. Raccoons lost 5-0.

Three runs in four games. Wow.

In other news:
August 4 – Mitsuharu Yamada, just acquired from the Rebels by the Condors a month ago, is out for the season with a ruptured finger tendon.
August 7 – As the Rebels beat the Cyclones 8-5 in a tight race for the division title, Rebels 2B David Rivera bangs three home runs, going 4-4. All long balls are solo shots, and off three different pitchers (including former Raccoon Bill Baker).
August 13 – Cyclones hurler Tom Simmons tosses a 2-hit shutout against the Blue Sox in a 2-0 win.
August 13 – And one more for the wounded Raccoons soul: Alex Miranda pitched a 4-hit shutout as the Condors beat the Falcons 7-0. Miranda is 10-9 and has a 1.5 K/BB ratio.

The last week of interleague play is going to get socky with the Gold Sox and Blue Sox up. The rest of August will bring the Raccoons around a bit, to New York, Indianapolis, Tijuana, and Oklahoma City.

The team is scoring 3.21 R/G this year. This is worse than ever. No matter what I do, it only gets worse. Maybe it is me.

Is it me? :-((
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