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Old 12-15-2018, 12:02 PM   #2681
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Raccoons (64-42) @ Falcons (48-55) – August 2-4, 2027

The Coons had already locked up the 2027 series with the Falcons in happier times, 5-1, and here were the last three games of that season set. Despite their utterly crummy record, the Falcons were only four games out in the CL South, despite the worst rotation and the most runs conceded in the Continental League. Their offense ranked only ninth as well, and they had a -122 run differential. How they were not beaten and buried by August was beyond my imagination.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (7-8, 3.86 ERA) vs. Chris Rountree (7-10, 4.71 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (6-8, 3.00 ERA) vs. Victor Arevalo (7-9, 4.40 ERA)
Rin Nomura (12-3, 2.53 ERA) vs. Warren Polito (5-11, 7.41 ERA)

One left-hander, two right-handers. Lots of problems.

The Raccoons would play seven this week and would not get an off day until the 12th. It wouldn't hurt to give everybody a day off, and we used this southpaw on Monday to rotate out all our left-handed batters.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – LF Spencer – 2B Hereford – 1B Gomez – CF Borg – RF Magallanes – C Rocha – 3B Bullock – P Gutierrez
CHA: LF Banfi – RF Camps – 1B Fowlkes – CF Salto – C Sigala – 2B Ra. Mendez – SS Folk – 3B Ochoa – P Rountree

While a shutout by Rountree against this lineup would not have shocked anybody, the Coons put up three in the opening frame, two of those earned. Tim Stalker led off with a double, scored on Raul Mendez' throwing error that put Spencer on second base, and then Rich Hereford hit his first Coons homer. Gomez and Borg actually also reached base after that, but Magallanes whiffed and Daniel Rocha hit into a double play. Now, caution was in order, because the Falcons had an all-right-handed batting order, except for their pitcher, and we all knew how Rico liked to face his lefties; but there were no troubles in the early innings, the odd hit here and there, but no runs, and the Coons tacked on a run in the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles by Juan Magallanes and Daniel Rocha that ran the score to 4-0. Ironically, trouble for Rico brewed in the bottom 5th starting with the sole left-handed batter in there – Rountree – and a disapprovable 2-out single up the middle. Luigi Banfi doubled to right immediately, but Hereford made a good lunging grab on Juan Camps' bouncer and handled it for the third out of the inning.

There was only one more inning in Rico, who got bogged down in the sixth, which he started by drilling Pat Fowlkes with an 0-2 pitch, then surrendered a single to Graciano Salto and had to fight tooth and nail against Jairo Sigala and Raul Mendez for two outs. Brody Folk, the damn ex-Elk, coaxed a walk that filled them up for former Coons farmhand Hugo Ochoa, who grounded a 2-2 pitch to third base, which Daniel Bullock handled for the third out. The pen inherited a 5-0 lead, courtesy of Rafael Gomez' leadoff triple in the top 6th, and Magallanes' sac fly to bring him in after Greg Borg had been walked intentionally(!?). Jonathan Snyder was sent to pitch for Portland, retired the side on nine pitches in the bottom 7th, then got spanked for four hits and two runs in the bottom 8th before being dug out by Josh Boles. Bottom 9th in a 3-run game, Ricky Ohl allowed a single to Camps, then struck out Fowlkes and popped up Salto. Jairo Sigala singled. Ex-Coon Russ Greenwald dropped an RBI single into left, and Brody Folk was the winning run at home plate… but struck out on three pitches. 5-3 Coons. Stalker 2-5, 2B; Gutierrez 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, W (8-8);

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo
CHA: LF Banfi – SS Folk – 1B Fowlkes – CF Salto – RF Camps – 3B Ra. Mendez – C Carmichael – 2B Muller – P Arevalo

Raccoons hitters dropped four soft singles with two outs in the first inning, Gomez and Harenberg eventually scoring with RBI's for Mora and Tovias, and they added runs in the second inning, which Nunley started with a single up the middle. Delgadillo struck out bunting, Stalker forced out the runner, but then Hereford singled and Gomez got hit. Kevin Harenberg drove a ball over Salto's head in center for a 2-run double, running the tally to 4-0, before Elias Tovias popped out over home plate to end the inning, and would strand another pair with a fly out to Salto in the fourth inning, but at least the Coons had come out early for the second day in a row, which already counted as progress. So, attention was on Delgadillo, who was perfect the first time through the Falcons' lineup. But his own shackling was not far off; Brody Folk (dry heaves) hit a scratch single in the fourth, and Pat Fowlkes hit a no-doubter to left that cut the gap in half effortlessly. Jason Carmichael's base hit, and Luigi Banfi getting hit in the base of his buttocks put the tying runs on in the bottom 5th, and then Folk singled hard to left. Carmichael was sent, but thrown out at home plate by Cookie Carmona to end the inning.

Despite getting rocked for four runs early on, the Falcons' Arevalo held out until Kevin Harenberg's leadoff double in the seventh, only then being replaced by righty Jesse Schiebout, who allowed a single to Mora that put them on the corners. Tovias came up for the fourth time in this game with a pair of Coons aboard, and for the third time failed miserably, hitting into a double play, and then Harenberg didn't even go for home from third base; instead he was stranded when Cookie flew out to Juan Camps. Bottom 8th, the Coons pen was in mild distress, using three relievers. Kearney struck out PH Joseph McClenon before Surginer walked Fowlkes, but at least got rid of Salto. When Rick Morris pinch-hit, the Coons sent another left-hander in Boles, who surrendered a single, putting the go-ahead run on board, but then got Mendez to ground out to Hereford to get through the inning. No insurance run came together for the Coons in the ninth, and so it was Dan McLin with the 4-3 lead in the ninth as Ricky Ohl was not available. Greenwald and John Muller grounded out, but Ochoa singled to left, bringing up a hitless Banfi, who aimed for and missed a 1-2 pitch to put this squeezer away. 4-3 Coons. Harenberg 4-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 3-4, BB, RBI;

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P Nomura
CHA: LF Banfi – RF Camps – 1B Fowlkes – CF Salto – C Sigala – 2B Ra. Mendez – SS Folk – 3B Ochoa – P Polito

There was no quick start against the worst of the bunch in the Charlotte rotation, not even a slow start, but rather no start at all for the Raccoons, while Rin Nomura was the one getting torn apart early. Jairo Sigala drove in Graciano Salto twice in the early innings; once after Salto's leadoff triple in the bottom 2nd, Sigala's single making it 1-0, and then again in the third, when Salto had hit an RBI single to score Juan Camps, had reached third base on Tovias' error on his stolen base attempt, and then Sigala hit another single. Worse, Mendez and Folk also hit 2-out singles to put a fourth run on Nomura by the time the third inning ended on Ochoa's groundout. Nomura would not even get through four, being bludgeoned for ten hits by the bottom 4th. Polito hit a leadoff single, was doubled up by Banfi, but then Camps, Fowlkes, and Salto ripped him for straight 2-out base hits, running the tally to 5-0, and it was just enough. On the other side of the box score, the Coons had two base hits off Polito and his 7+ ERA in the first three innings, then one in the next three. That was Hereford with a 2-out single in the sixth, and after that he was caught stealing. No great surprise there – and they would not produce any surprise from there, either. Warren Polito ended up with a complete-game 6-hitter, losing the shutout only on singles by Harenberg and Tovias in the seventh, with Magallanes plating Harenberg with a sac fly. Polito got revenge in his own way (as if a complete game was not enough), hitting a 2-out RBI single off McLin in the bottom 8th for the final tally of… 6-1 Falcons. Tovias 2-4;

(shrugs dejectedly)

Raccoons (66-43) @ Indians (54-53) – August 5-8, 2027

The Indians were still stubbornly clinging onto a winning record, and whether the Coons were the ones to knock them below .500 was anybody's guess. Indy led the season series as a matter of fact, 4-3, despite having the absolute worst offense in the Continental League. They were scoring only 3.7 runs per game, although to be honest, the Raccoons' average over their last 15 games was much, much worse than that; since July 20 they had scored no more than 3.0 runs per game…

Projected matchups:
George James (2-1, 3.48 ERA) vs. John McInerney (11-6, 2.57 ERA)
Jason Butler (0-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. Chris Sinkhorn (11-7, 3.98 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (8-8, 3.70 ERA) vs. David Elliott (7-10, 5.23 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (7-8, 3.05 ERA) vs. Myles Mood (5-9, 2.90 ERA)

Three southpaws to begin this set, then a righty on Sunday; not that it mattered for the Critters, who didn't score against anybody and weren't of the discriminating sort…

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Borg – C Tovias – LF Spencer – 3B Nunley – P James
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – C Kennett – LF O'Rourke – 1B de Negri – RF Ryder – CF Jamieson – 3B C Castro – P McInerney

A 1-2 singles bid put Coons on the corners in the top 1st, but all they could draw from that was a Harenberg sac fly. It only got worse from there; Stalker hit a 1-out double in the third, McInerney walked on both Hereford and Gomez, but Harenberg fouled out with the bags full, and Greg Borg flew out easily to Matt Jamieson in center. While James retired the first eight Indians in a row before issuing a 4-pitch walk to McInerney – probably just to drive me crazy… - the Raccoons kept poking feebly. Spencer got on in the fourth, stole second, then was singled in by Matt Nunley, a play on which Zachary Ryder hurt himself and had to be replaced by Mike Cowan. Top 5th, Stalker hit a single, stole second, Gomez was walked intentionally, and Harenberg reached with an infield single. One way or another, that was three on, one out for Greg Borg, which didn't have a nice ring to it from the start, but at least he grounded to Cesar Castro in such way that a double play was not in the cards for the Indians. Stalker scored on the throw to first base, and Tovias then struck out to strand the other two runners in the 3-0 game.

James no-hit the Indians into the fifth before Matt Jamieson, who should have been a Coon by now, but I couldn't make it work out in July, singled to center with two outs in that inning, but nothing undue happened at that point, and the Raccoons remained ahead, and even more comfortably so when Elias Tovias took sole possession of the team home run lead with a dismal 14 on a 2-run homer off David Galmore in the seventh inning. Greg Borg had reached base ahead of him with a 2-out single, and it was now 5-0 in George James' favor. The Coons would try to squeeze a shutout from their young pitcher, but it didn't work. He entered the bottom 9th on 110 pitches, allowed a single to Elliott Kennett, then a double to David de Negri, which put runners in scoring position with one down. Snyder replaced James at that point, and the game ended three pitches later when Mike Cowan lined out to Hereford, with de Negri caught off his base and doubled up by a quick lob over to Stalker. 5-0 Coons. Stalker 2-4, 2B; Spencer 2-4; Nunley 3-4, RBI; James 8.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, W (3-1);

Game 2
POR: 2B Hereford – LF Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Borg – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – 3B Bullock – P Butler
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – C Kennett – CF Suhay – 1B de Negri – RF Ryder – LF Jamieson – 3B C. Castro – P Sinkhorn

Jarod Spencer tripled in the first, but the Coons didn't score, which was one of those things that drove me into madness, every day a little bit deeper. Never mind that this probably was not the Coons' game to win anyway, but at least Butler got disemboweled quickly to spare us any illusions. The first two Arrowheads made outs in the bottom 1st before he walked Kennett, who scored on Ben Suhay's double to right. Suhay moved to third on Gomez' throw, then scored on a wild pitch at 0-2 to de Negri, who singled on the next offering. Ryder, with a balking oblique, then went WELL deep to right-center, putting the Indians up 4-0 in no time at all. And that was all there was to the ballgame! After the early onslaught, the Indians would get only two more base hits against Butler, who lasted seven shoddy innings, but they didn't need any more base hits because Sinkhorn had the stinking Coons more than just under control. I would liken it to a death grip on their puny little necks. Besides Spencer, who rapped together a 3-hit day, the team was dead from the waists up… AND down, to be fair, and was easily shut out on 117 pitches and six base hits. 4-0 Indians. Spencer 3-4, 3B;

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – LF Magallanes – CF Mora – P Gutierrez
IND: 1B de Negri – 2B E. Sosa – CF Suhay – RF Ryder – C Kennett – SS Wagner – LF Cowan – 3B C. Castro – P D. Elliott

Blink and you missed it – before I could really get into much of a muttering rage, five innings were over in a 1-1 game. The Indians had scored first on Ryder's 2-out double in the first that brought in de Negri, with Magallanes tying the game with a 2-out single in the fourth that scored Harenberg, but came after Nunley had clubbed into a double play. Gomez led off the sixth with a single, got doubled off by Harenberg, and when Magallanes and Mora both walked in the seventh that brought up Rico with one out. He was hitting .061 this year, and in an 0-for-39 rut in particular, which was grim even by light-hitting pitchers' standards. SWING AWAY, RICO, SWING AWAY …!! (cries in despair) Of course he struck out. Stalker flew out to Cowan in left. Nobody scored. Every run could be the last one now. Rico spilled a leadoff single to Ryder in the bottom 7th, but Kennett hit into a double play (at least it happens to them, too…) and Matt Jamieson struck out when he hit for Curt Wagner, a rookie on his third cup of coffee.

Top 8th, leadoff single by Spencer against the so far sturdy Elliott. Spencer went on to swipe second on a pitchout, and the Indians responded by walking Gomez intentionally. You wanna play it that way? Fine. Off they were for a double steal, Kennett got nobody, and then Harenberg was walked intentionally. Three on, no outs, where the Coons' run expectancy was somewhere around negative .3 runs. Tovias popped out before a double switch brought on ex-Coon Cory Dew and Edwin Alvarez at second base, which was also where Nunley grounded in his 1-out appearance. Alvarez handled the ball, stepped on second base… and somehow threw late to first. Nunley legged it out, Spencer scored, and Portland had the lead. Magallanes struck out to leave them on the corners. Nope, they couldn't just take a lead and run with it. Rico was okay through eight, was batted for with Cookie in the ninth to no effect at all, and then Ricky Ohl faced the top of the order with the skinniest of leads in the bottom 9th. De Negri led off with a soft single to center. Oh ****ing ****. Dave O'Rourke struck out, Suhay grounded into a fielder's choice, and then Ohl drilled Ryder. Kennett came up; not technically a rookie anymore but also on his third (slightly longer) cup of coffee. He squeezed out a walk, which brought up Jamieson with the bases loaded. No, not Jamieson. Not him… not him… not him…! (begs) Not him…! Ohl got the K on a 98mph blaster, ending this particular comatose appearance by the Raccoons. 2-1 Blighters. Spencer 2-4; Magallanes 2-3, BB, RBI; Gutierrez 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, W (9-8);

(deep sigh)

Game 4
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo
IND: SS Pizano – RF Ryder – CF Suhay – LF O'Rourke – 1B de Negri – 2B E. Alvarez – C J. Ramirez – 3B Wagner – P Mood

Two pitches in, Tim Stalker tripled, but it should not shock you that he did not score. Hereford walked, Gomez popped out, and Harenberg clubbed into a double play, and I had my tearful breakdown a few innings earlier than usual. Delgadillo got around a pair of singles in the bottom of the inning before the Coons were back in action. Abel Mora worked a leadoff walk, Tovias singled, Cookie singled – three on, no outs, again, hooraaaay. Thankfully Alvarez chose to turn two on Nunley's grounder right at him rather than go home; the 4-6-3 double play at least brought in the first run of the game before Delgadillo flew out to Suhay…

I spent the next few innings breathing slowly into a paper bag, but at least for now Yusneldan held up nicely. Suhay hit a leadoff single in the bottom 4th, O'Rourke hit another single to right, but Suhay bid for third, and Gomez told them to screw off, hammering him out with a wonderful throw, which killed the Indians' inning and the 1-0 lead stood through four. Delgadillo hit a double in the fifth, was ignored, then blew the lead on three singles by Jose Ramirez, Pizano, and Ryder in the bottom of the inning. Suhay fouled out to strand a pair, but these were the two most annoying teams in the league, and this was the fourth game of the set, and I just didn't want to live anymore…

Rafael Gomez had not homered in exactly a month, and I wouldn't claim that he was back on the horse after his 1-out solo jack off Mood in the eighth inning, but at least the damn Coons were up 2-1 again in a stingy pitchers' duel / offensive anorexia. In what appeared to be a waste of perfectly good runs, Kevin Harenberg went back-to-back with Gomez to move the Coons out to a 3-1 lead, but while I thought Delgadillo would pull through for a complete game now, the Indians rolled him from the game with a pair of 2-out singles by Suhay and O'Rourke in the bottom 8th, going to the corners. Surginer came on to face de Negri, ran a full count, then blasted him away with a high 99. The Coons also went to the corners in the ninth, Cookie and Nunley knocking singles against Galmore to go to the corners. Of course they would not do any better than a Stalker sac fly, giving Ohl a 3-run lead. Jose Ramirez' 1-out homer served well to make me dizzy, but it was the only batter that reached base in the bottom 9th. 4-2 Coons. Gomez 2-5, BB, HR, RBI; Tovias 2-4; Carmona 2-4; Delgadillo 7.2 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, W (8-8) and 1-3, 2B;

In other news

August 2 – The only hit of IND 1B Ramon Tello (.311, 1 HR, 10 RBI) in an 11-inning affair in Tijuana is a 2-out grand slam in the top 11th that allows the Indians to win 8-4. All of the runs in the game are scored in 4's. The Condors took a 4-0 lead in the third, which the Indians wholly made up in the fifth.
August 3 – RIC LF/RF/1B Dan Brown (.224, 7 HR, 38 RBI) knocks in five on three base hits in a 15-8 Rebels win over the Scorpions.
August 5 – VAN OF Tony Coca (.314, 21 HR, 74 RBI) goes 3-for-3 with two walks and 6 RBI in a 13-3 thrashing of the Loggers.
August 5 – It takes 12 innings in Sioux Falls for Scorpions and Warriors to total even one run. SFW 1B/SS Edgar Gonzalez (.300, 6 HR, 46 RBI) singles home utility Andy Walker (.167, 1 HR, 5 RBI) to walk off the Warriors for a 1-0 win that took some time to materialize.
August 6 – SAL INF Dan Cobb (.353, 4 HR, 22 RBI) has cobbled together a 20-game hitting streak after connecting for a 2-run single in the Wolves' 6-5 loss to the Gold Sox.
August 7 – The Condors' SS Andrew Showalter (.306, 11 HR, 43 RBI) notches his 2,500th career hit in a 5-2 win over the Thunder. Showalter hits a sixth-inning double off MR Zach Warner (1-0, 4.50 ERA) to reach the milestone. Showalter, 36, spent most of his 16-year career in the Federal League for the Blue Sox and Cyclones. A 6-time All Star, he has a career .307 batting average with 247 HR and 1,170 RBI.
August 7 – The hitting streak of Salem's Dan Cobb (.346, 4 HR, 22 RB) is already perdu after an 0-3 game against the Gold Sox, who beat the Wolves, 7-2 in 11 innings.
August 8 – NYC SP Mike Rutkowski (6-7, 5.04 ERA) might miss the rest of the season with torn ankle ligaments.

Complaints and stuff

Matt Nunley's fourth-inning RBI single off John McInerney on Thursday was his 2,000th career base hit. It took him a while – he has almost 14 years of major league service credit – but at least the 36-year-old got off to a quick start on his chase for 3,000 (cough!) with a 3-hit game and a total of 2,002 knocks that point. His career slash of .279/.338/.388, while not shabby, will probably not get him into the Hall of Fame (sneeze!). He also has 143 HR and 852 RBI. Well, he's been a glove third baseman for most of his career – he hasn't beaten a .750 OPS in almost a decade.

Matt Nunley is also second in all-time base hits for Raccoons, trailing Cookie Carmona of course. Here are the top 10:

PORTLAND RACCOONS CAREER HITS LEADERS

1st – Cookie Carmona – 2,281
2nd – Matt Nunley – 2,004

3rd – Neil Reece – 1,983
4th – Daniel Hall – 1,886
5th – Ieyoshi Nomura – 1,581
6th – Tetsu Osanai – 1,548
7th – Adrian Quebell – 1,400
8th – Mark Dawson – 1,313
9th – Daniel Sharp – 1,267
10th – Conceicao Guerin – 1,185

Apparently Jonathan Fleischer returned from Portland to St. Petersburg with some mild shoulder inflammation. I wonder whether this is all a dream. A bad one at that.

Fun Fact: 14 Raccoons teams finished with fewer than 4.0 runs scored per game. Only two of them wound up with winning records.

That would be 1987 and 2025, both seasons seeing the Coons with 3.9 runs per game. They even missed the playoffs by only one game in '87.

The 2027 Coons are now one run over a flat 4.0 R/G. They are in a steep descent. Somehow, they are 25 games over .500, which is even more than the '87 Coons squeezed out with their final 91-71 record.
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Old 12-16-2018, 11:24 AM   #2682
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Raccoons (69-44) @ Crusaders (58-53) – August 9-11, 2027

The Crusaders were the one team the Raccoons seemed to do good against as they had so far won nine of the dozen games played in the current season, and we had in fact scored 5.0 runs per game against them this year. Well, that was going to help with a stingy pitching staff! However, at this point, the Raccoons were locked in a 3.0 R/G trudge, and part of that pitching had moved to the DL (as had the Crusaders'). New York was the team with the second-most runs scored in the Continental League, but they were giving up the fifth-most runs and had the second-worst rotation, which just had suffered another punch with news that Carlos Marron (5-6, 4.13 ERA) was out for the year with a torn labrum.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (12-4, 2.73 ERA) vs. Chris Klein (13-7, 3.90 ERA)
George James (3-1, 2.75 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (7-8, 4.62 ERA)
Jason Butler (0-2, 4.72 ERA) vs. TBD

Having two starting pitchers taken out in a few days had thrown the Crusaders' pitching into disarray. They had no starter lined up for Wednesday so far. Klein and Cannon we knew about; both were right-handers. The third survivor in the rotation was righty Doug Moffatt (10-6, 4.28 ERA) who if he started on Wednesday would do so on short rest.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Mora – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P Nomura
NYC: 2B J. Gutierrez – 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – C F. Delgado – RF Ellis – SS Ts'ai – CF Hatley – LF Espinosa – P Klein

Monday's opener was out of the window after two innings. Felipe Delgado's leadoff single got coupled with Nunley throwing away a grounder by Zheng-ze Ts'ai, and then Harenberg couldn't reach a quick Nick Hatley shot past the first base bag that made it to the depths of the outfield for a 2-run double. Because, honestly – who expected the Raccoons come back from anything at this point? The only batter that reached base for them the first time through was Nunley, and he got nicked by an erring Chris Klein. The top 4th saw leadoff singles by Rich Hereford and Rafael Gomez, who occupied the corner, after which Harenberg had nothing better to do than to strike out. Abel Mora hit a fly to right and Hereford dashed home for a sac fly, but that was all they got in the inning, Tovias whiffing to end it. Tovias also allowed Juan Espinosa to reach first base on an uncaught third strike to start off the bottom 5th, and that free runner almost cost the Coons. Nomura walked the bags full in the inning, then had to thank Abel Mora for tracking down a Delgado drive in the gap to end the inning. On the other side of the box score, Klein was obliterating the Coons, whiffing eight in five innings and was not slowing down either, while Nomura couldn't get through the sixth, knocked out with a leadoff walk to Nate Ellis, a 2-out RBI single by Espinosa, then another single by Klein. Jonathan Snyder retired ancient Jose Gutierrez on a pop to strand them on the corners in the inning and kept the score at 3-1, then struck out the side in the bottom 7th. In between, Harenberg had dropped a leadoff single into left to begin the top 7th, but had been thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. He would go on to sock a home run off Travis Giordano with two outs in the ninth inning, but there was nobody on base and Abel Mora grounded out pathetically after that, ending this stinker of a game. 3-2 Crusaders. Harenberg 2-4, HR, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1;

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – RF Carmona – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – LF Spencer – 3B Nunley – CF Magallanes – C Rocha – P James
NYC: 1B Elder – CF Hatley – RF Ellis – 3B Schmit – LF Espinosa – C Asay – 2B S. Valdez – SS Ts'ai – P Cannon

George James appeared to be in trouble by the second inning after Andy Schmit and Juan Espinosa dropped in soft singles to begin the frame. Jason Asay's grounder to third was taken for a force at that base by Nunley, after which James reached back and rung up both Sergio Valdez and Ts'ai to get out of the jam. If you could look past the Coons being sat down, 12-for-12, by Eddie Cannon in the early going, James' game didn't look so bad until he issued back-to-back leadoff walks in the bottom 4th to bring up Espinosa, who grounded to Nunley. This time, the force at third was not an option and Nunley only got the runner at second; no problem, though, with Jason Asay spanking into a double play, 4-6-3.

Cannon whiffed four in five perfect innings before the scrubs got to him in the sixth. Magallanes chipped a clean single into leftfield, followed closely by Daniel Rocha singling over the head of Ts'ai, which led to James bunting obviously. Cannon, greedy, fired the ball to third base – late! All paws were safe, three on, no ou-… oh dang. Another round of rumble baseball! Stalker grounded to short, Ts'ai fired home, Magallanes was out. Cookie grounded to first, and Jay Elder had never been a great defender, and he would not become one down the road, either. No play at home, but Elder managed to get Cookie out at first while a run scored on the groundout. Hereford then laid down a pathetic roller that nevertheless fooled Asay and the quick Hereford managed to leg it out for an RBI infield single. Harenberg popped out to end a depressing 2-spot inning.

James went seven in admirable fashion, but was done after 104 pitches. Surginer took over with the 2-0 lead, allowed a leadoff single to Ts'ai in the bottom 8th, but got Delgado to fly out to Spencer, then a double play from Elder. The ninth inning saw no action from the Critters, then Josh Boles take the mound in the bottom half. We expected left-handers to arrive at the plate soon, and Ricky Ohl had been through a busy weekend. Hatley flew out to Mora in center before Nate Ellis singled, but Boles remained in control, ringing up Schmit before he got PH Jose Gutierrez to fly out easily to Abel Mora again. 2-0 Blighters. Hereford 2-4, RBI; Magallanes 1-2, BB; Mora (PH) 1-1, 3B; James 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, W (4-1);

The Coons would see right-hander Jesse Wright (2-0, 1.42 ERA) in the rubber game. Wright was a second-year player who had made 25 appearances this season, including one start in May against the Stars. He had also been in 14 games last season, all starts, pitching to a 4-7 record and 3.45 ERA, so he was not just some ol' spot starter.

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – LF Carmona – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – P Butler
NYC: 1B Elder – CF Hatley – RF Ellis – LF Espinosa – C Asay – 2B S. Walter – 3B J. Gutierrez – SS Ts'ai – P J. Wright

Kevin Harenberg was charged with his second baserunning blunder of the series right in the first inning. The Coons had loaded them up with straight 1-out singles after which Abel Mora walked to force home a run, when Spencer flew out to right. Harenberg hadn't gotten the memo and was easily doubled off second base to end the inning. Wright however didn't seem to be able to retire many batters at all; in the second Tovias singled, Stalker walked, and then Cookie and Gomez chipped in 2-out RBI singles to extend the lead to 3-0 – lofty heights! Don't look down! On to the third, Spencer drew a leadoff walk, Nunley doubled past Ellis, and the Coons walked Tovias intentionally to get to Butler, who was as of yet not scored upon, but got his first career RBI as a dismembered Jesse Wright threw him four balls. I felt almost sorry for the poor kid. … Almost. The Coons threatened to make nothing of what was still of a three on, no outs situation when Stalker whiffed, but Cookie brought in another run with another grounder to Elder, similar to his move in the sixth on Tuesday, extending the lead to 5-0 in the process. Gomez grounded to short for the third - … oops, no, Ts'ai threw the ball away, plating two unearned runs. The Crusaders tried with a new pitcher at this point, sending struggling right-hander Sean Byrd into a 7-0 collapse (but mind that the Coons had a pitcher on the mound that had gotten beaten regularly in AAA), and Byrd secured the third out from Harenberg on a pretty deep fly to center.

Speaking of Butler, he showed his ugly side right away in the bottom 3rd. Ts'ai hit an infield single to get go, but Byrd bunted into a double play. Butler still managed a major cock-up, allowing a single to Elder before walking the bags full and surrendering a 2-run single to Espinosa. Asay popped out to end the inning in a rapidly developing 7-2 game. And while there were no runs in the next couple of innings, drama there surely was. The Coons stole four bases in the fourth, but, as indicated, didn't score, which involved among other fails Jarod Spencer striking Abel Mora with a batted ball. Well, bright sides – he didn't hit him in the head; just in the cushy bum.

Butler made it through five, somehow, before walking the bags full in the bottom 6th with nobody out. That also gave him six walks in the game. With Ts'ai up, Portland turned to Dan McLin, then disaster. Ts'ai singled to left, two runs scored, the ball got lost on the infield after an imprecise throw from Cookie, and the runners moved into scoring position. After a nifty Nunley play on Will McIntyre's grounder that kept the runners pinned, Jay Elder flew out to center. As Gutierrez tagged up, Mora fired home, albeit wildly, allowing Ts'ai into third base, from where he scored when Nunley fumbled Nick Hatley's grounder for an error. An Ellis single, a walk to Espinosa, the bases were loaded in a 7-6 game and McLin was yanked for Surginer, who secured a groundout from Jason Asay to end the utter nightmare of this sixth inning, which was swiftly followed by the utter nightmare of the seventh inning, in which Billy Brotman allowed a single to Gutierrez, walked a pair, and bled two runs on Elder's single and a sac fly to put the Coons into the trailing position after they had led 7-0. Well, hadn't that been a long time ago? 8-7 Crusaders. Carmona 3-5, 2 RBI; Gomez 2-5, RBI; Spencer 2-4;

Jason Butler (0-2, 5.89 ERA) was canned immediately and thrown to the waiver lions. A second roster move divested the Coons of Daniel Bullock and his .155 bat. The Raccoons activated Alberto Ramos in time for their arrival in Denver, while adding Steve Costilow (3.51 ERA in AAA) for pitching support over the weekend.

Raccoons (70-46) @ Gold Sox (60-54) – August 13-15, 2027

Denver ranked sixth in runs scored and runs allowed in the Federal League, which somehow worked out for a +56 run differential that was hard to grasp for me. Their rotation was a bit crummy though when you got past their 1-2 punch, who were of course lined up for this series. How much their defense, second-worst in the league, had to do with this was not quite clear, but they sure were not innocent. These teams had not played another since 2022, when the Gold Sox had taken two of three games.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (9-8, 3.56 ERA) vs. Tommy Weintraub (12-7, 3.17 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (8-8, 2.94 ERA) vs. Robbie Gonzalez (8-1, 3.09 ERA)
Rin Nomura (12-5, 2.74 ERA) vs. Jeff Horton (1-3, 6.22 ERA)

Three right-handers for a team that had already recycled a few pitchers this year. Jose Menendez was on the DL among others.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – LF Spencer – CF Mora – C Tovias – P Gutierrez
DEN: Rock – 1B Gore – RF Chavira – CF Madsen – LF Kopp – 2B Herman – C Brooks – 3B Janes – P Weintraub

What did Rich Hereford and Trey Rock have in common since having been traded for another? Both had shed some 50 points of their batting averages with their new team. Both made outs in the first inning after Alberto Ramos returned with a single flicked into rightfield, only to be doubled up by Stalker. Brad Gore homered off Rico to put the Gold Sox up 1-0 in the bottom 1st. In the third, Trey Rock would drop in a 2-out single, reached third on Gore's double, then scored on a wild pitch before Vinny Chavira struck out. Bottom 4th, Abel Madsen led off with a double to left, Terry Kopp singled and drove the runner home, Nick Herman walked, Jeremiah Brooks singled, at which point the Gold Sox were 3-0 on the board and 3-0 in terms of runners and outs in the inning, although Erik Janes drove a knife into that stat with a run-scoring double play grounder. Weintraub struck out, but Rico was down 4-0 and the Raccoons were nowhere near a vague threat. They scored one run with a Jarod Spencer leadoff double and two groundouts in the top 5th, to which the Gold Sox responded with a 4-spot in the sixth that tore Gutierrez in half entirely. Nick Herman had opened that inning with a double and was on third base with two outs when Weintraub hit a roller in front of the plate that Tovias decided to try and brood and hatch that damn egg rather than making a good throw. The run scored, and Rico bled another single to Rock, then a 3-run homer hit by Brad Gore. We won't go into too much detail about the Gold Sox' other 4-spot in the eighth inning on Billy Brotman and Steve Costilow, because there are only so many tears one can cry. 12-2 Gold Sox. Stalker 2-4; Rocha (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Interesssssing thhhingisss… even when you'ramm- mm- ….. mmmmile high …! (shakes empty bottle) Ugh. … they ss-s-still juss bury you s-six feet under …!

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo
DEN: 1B Gore – SS Rock – CF Madsen – RF Chavira – LF Kopp – 2B Herman – C Brooks – 3B Janes – P R. Gonzalez

Ramos walked, stole second, moved up on Hereford's infield single, and finally scored on a sac fly by Harenberg in the first inning – oh, how we had missed that stuff …! A solo shot by Abel Mora made it 2-0 in the second, but the Sox soon pulled a run back in the bottom 3rd, which Jeremiah Brooks opened with a long double to the rightfield fence and was plate with Gore's 2-out single past Harenberg. Top 4th, the dreaded three on, no outs situation was back after a leadoff walk to Gomez, then singles by Tovias (JUST past Trey Rock) and Mora, the latter dropping one cleanly into rightfield. Nunley was up, ran a full count, then got the borderline call for a bases-loaded walk, 3-1. Gonzalez ran another full count on Delgadillo, but then blazed him with a high fastball just in the zone to get the first out. Ramos popped out, Stalker grounded out to Janes. As usual, they had crapped their own nest…

The rest was Delgadillo. Chavira took him deep in the bottom 4th to cut the lead to 3-2, after which the Gold Sox loaded the bases and Mora had to make a long run on Gonzalez' 2-out drive to end that inning. Bottom 5th, leadoff walk to Gore, who was bunted to second base by Rock before Abel Madsen doubled him in to tie the game. Delgadillo walked Chavira, then served up a 3-piece to ex-Coon Terry Kopp to piss this particular game into the wind. He issued a 4-pitch walk to Herman before being disgracefully yanked and replaced by Kearney, who got out of the inning on a double play grounder coaxed from Brooks, but down 6-3 the Coons were once more done. The tying runs came up in the seventh, when Gomez singled home Ramos only for Tovias to ground out to short and strand the tying runs on the corners, all of this only for McLin to give back a run in the bottom of the inning, then again in the ninth in a 7-4 game when Brian Gilbert walked both Stalker and Hereford with one out. There was no confidence left in Kevin Harenberg putting a score straight. He grounded out to first, entirely to expectations, before Rafael Gomez struck out. 7-4 Gold Sox. Mora 2-4, HR, RBI;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – LF Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 2B Spencer – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Nomura
DEN: SS Rock – 1B Gore – RF Chavira – CF Madsen – LF Kopp – 2B Herman – C Brooks – 3B Farias – P Horton

Ramos singled, errr… and was caught stealing in the first, and yet the Coons somehow still scored a run. Hereford single, moved up on Gomez groundout, then scored on a Harenberg double. While Rin Nomura issued a 4-pitch walk to Trey Rock to begin his day and would dance on the very edge of the volcano, and lewdly so, ever after, the Coons kept ticking Horton for singles, but couldn't get their runners across. They had six hits through the first three innings, but still only that 1-0 lead as they entered the fifth inning. Ramos drew a leadoff walk, snatched second base before Hereford walked, then scurried to third when Gomez hit into a double play. (exhausted groan!) Harenberg got a ball past Brad Gore for an RBI double, though, and then Rock missed Mora's shot up the middle for an RBI single, finally extending the lead a bit more into the comfy zone with an erratic Nomura on the mound doing whatever. The Sox promptly went onto the corners in the bottom 5th on a leadoff single by Brooks, then a 2-out single by Rock, but Gore struck out against the southpaw, a crucial difference to the last two games in which he had roamed and romped free against Rico and Yusneldan.

Bottom 6th, a Madsen single and a Ramos error brought up the tying run yet again, and that tying run, Brooks, singled with two outs to load the bases for Emilio Farias, the seasoned (he was a rookie in '11, before Nunley and even Cookie) veteran. Nomura slipped to a 3-1 count against him before Farias hid a soft floater to shallow right. Gomez hustled in – and caught it. Oh dear. On to the seventh, where Horton's final move was another leadoff walk to Ramos, before being replaced with right-hander Mike Tandy and his 6.16 ERA. Ramos, with reinforced vigor after a month on the sidelines, swiped second base, leading to an intentional walk to Rich Hereford, who of course knew every trick in Tandy's (thin) book. The middle of the order collectively ****ed up; Gomez and Harenberg both flew out easily to Madsen in shallow center, and Mora grounded out to Rock to strand the runners. In turn, the Gold Sox scored an unearned run in the bottom of the inning, which Nomura opened with putting Tom McWhorter on second base and a clutch throwing error of his own making, then surrendered the run with two outs to Chavira singling up the middle. Oh well, at least Nomura made it through the seventh and the Coons had lined up what they perceived to be the game-winning duo of Boles (who retired Denver in order in the eighth) and Ricky Ohl, who had not been in any game this week. But before he could get engaged, the top 9th saw Freddy Heredia allow a leadoff double to Ramos, after which the Gold Sox walked Hereford intentionally AGAIN. What did he have that he wasn't showing to US?? The runners pulled off a double steal before Gomez grounded out to the mound (crying roar), after which Harenberg was walked intentionally to load them up for Mora. Abel looped a ball over McWhorter for a single, Chavira overran the ball for an error, and two runs scored. That was the inning, Spencer and Nunley making poor outs. Ohl came in anyway despite the save opportunity having passed, and ended the Gold Sox with only a 2-out single allowed to Rock. 5-1 Coons. Ramos 2-3, 2 BB, 2B; Hereford 2-2, 3 BB; Harenberg 3-4, BB, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Mora 2-5, 3 RBI; Nomura 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, W (13-5);

In other news

August 10 – A broken hand will likely cost VAN OF Tony Coca (.315, 21 HR, 75 RBI) a month on the DL.
August 11 – BOS SP Dustin Wingo (13-4, 1.66 ERA) strikes out 12 and allows only two base hits in a 5-0 win over the Canadiens.
August 13 – TOP 2B/SS Alex Majano (.283, 2 HR, 39 RBI) falls a home run short of the cycle in a 5-for-5 effort with 2 RBI in a 9-4 win over the Thunder.
August 14 – SFW SP Juan Muniz (16-4, 3.09 ERA) 3-hits the Crusaders in a 7-0 shutout.

Complaints and stuff

Maud called me in Denver to tell me that Cristiano Carmona was inconsolable that Daniel Bullock had been sent to St. Petersburg and that he had tried to throw himself off the top of the building, but hadn't been able to get over the railing in his wheelchair. This was something I would have to sort out back in Portland, a place I was dreading to go to at this point, given that the Agitator was very active on the social media nonsense and by now was tweetering insults and derisions live while the Coons were playing.

Wait – you can get onto the roof? Why didn't anybody ever tell me!? … Oh well. I guess I will have to buy Cristiano a stuffed animal on the way home from the airport.

For positives (!), Alberto Ramos had just lost the CL lead in steals to Mario Pizano before he came off the DL for the weekend and immediately robbed the Gold Sox for four sacks to reclaim the lead, 36 SB to Pizano's 34. There's seven weeks left to the season, so there is plenty of time for him to challenge Yoshi Yamada's single-season franchise mark of 54. In fact, despite missing a month, his current season is already up to eighth-most stolen bases in a Raccoons season. His 41 SB last year rank seventh.

Tough to find anything else. The Titans have zoomed out to an 8-game lead. The team dropped under 4.0 R/G for the season with this crummy week, at least the fourth crummy week in a row, although they were not very exciting even in June. In fact, here is a goody…

Fun Fact: Except for three games against the Crusaders, the Raccoons have not scored more than five runs in a game since July 3.

It is TRUE. They won 6-2 against the Loggers on July 2. Since then they ran of even that many runs only three times, all in Crusaders games. They won 11-7 against them on the Friday and 10-1 on the Sunday after the All Star Game. Then they put up seven early on Wednesday and still managed to lose.

If you look for games not against the Crusaders in which they scored *seven* runs (which is not outrageous on paper), you immediately go back to June 17, a 10-9 bamboozle game against the Miners. That was the week after they strafed the Pacifics in a 3-game set, and it was the tail end of when this offense was any sort of productive. It's been two months.

What has this team become?
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Old 12-19-2018, 06:34 PM   #2683
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Well, well, well – look who's on TV! The infernal ****show!

Raccoons (71-48) vs. Capitals (65-54) – August 16-18, 2027

Despite having won six fewer games than the Critters, the Capitals were only half as far out in their division as these two second-place teams clashed in Portland starting on Monday. Washington was fifth in runs scored, third in runs allowed, and with the Coons' standing eroding, by now even had the better run differential, +95 to the Coons' +89. These teams had last met in 2025, when the Capitals had won two of three games. The Raccoons had not won a series from them since 2020, a.k.a. the year Nick Lester got the ball in extra innings in game #164.

Projected matchups:
George James (4-1, 2.33 ERA) vs. Eric Williams (12-4, 2.44 ERA)
Juan Barzaga (0-0) vs. Graham Wasserman (8-8, 4.58 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (9-9, 3.89 ERA) vs. Jorge Beltran (12-2, 1.92 ERA)

Barzaga, 31, had appeared in 33 games for the Raccoons over the years, all in relief. He had spent all year starting games in St. Petersburg to a 4.18 ERA, which would translate into whatever in Portland. He was promoted to the major leagues on Monday at the expense of Steve Costilow. The Raccoons would face a left-hander on Monday, then two righties.

Game 1
WAS: 3B E. Trevino – 1B Barber – C Lessman – SS Menth – RF Tachibana – CF Houghtaling – LF J. Williams – 2B Givens – P E. Williams
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – CF Magallanes – C Rocha – 3B Nunley – P James

Leading off for Washington was Enrique Trevino, who had already reached 60 stolen bases and was zoning in on the ABL single-season record, and while he didn't get a sack off the Coons in the early going, he scored the run to tie the game at two in the top of the third inning, a frame that had started with a Travis Givens bunt single, a sac bunt by Williams, and then came Trevino and hit an RBI single to center. Magallanes attempted to get Givens at home, didn't, and Trevino moved into scoring position, from where Matt Barber cashed him with a single. The Coons originally had plated two in the first inning, fueled by Ramos' single and Stalker's double to begin their efforts, then a sac fly by Gomez and a run-scoring groundout by Harenberg – what prowess! Those two struck out the next time around, and the fifth inning then saw the game get away from James, but it was his own fault, spilling a leadoff single to Eric Williams, the opposing pitcher. Trevino bunted him to second – good job by Nunley to keep that one from becoming another single, too – and Barber plated the run with another RBI single to left-center. That score moved to 4-2 in the next inning on a solo shot by ex-Crusader Jake Williams, but the Coons squealed and tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Harenberg hit a 1-out double to center, Juan Magallanes doubled up the leftfield line to cut the gap in half, then scored on Daniel Rocha's single to center to get the team even. And what did James do in the seventh? Give up a leadoff DOUBLE to the pitcher. Yes, actually. Trevino singled, putting them on the corners, and Barber popped out to Alberto Ramos, at which point the ball was handed to Josh Boles, who, frankly, failed. Trevino scooped second for #61, but Boles walked David Lessman anyway before allowing a 2-run single to Dave Menth. After that, Tsuneyoshi Tachibana popped out and Jeremy Houghtaling whiffed. The Coons had Greg Borg and Tim Stalker reach base in the bottom 7th, but there was that middling middle of the order again, and the runners were stranded. That was the last chance they got to waste in this opener… 6-4 Capitals. Ramos 2-5, 2B; Magallanes 2-4, 2B, RBI; Rocha 2-4, 2B, RBI; Borg (PH) 1-1;

Game 2
WAS: 3B E. Trevino – 1B Barber – C Lessman – SS Menth – RF Tachibana – CF Houghtaling – LF J. Williams – 2B Givens – P Wasserman
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Spencer – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Barzaga

The Capitals stranded pairs of runners in the first two innings, but the Coons were not idle in messing up, either. Abel Mora reached on a throwing error by Dave Menth in the bottom 2nd, they were on the corners after a Jarod Spencer single, and then Elias Tovias chucked into a double play to end the inning. But they did take a lead in the bottom 3rd, although they insisted on pretending they wouldn't. Matt Nunley hit a leadoff single to right, then was bunted over by Barzaga. Ramos hit an infield single to get them to the corners, then swiped his 37th base of the season. In this sweet spot, Tim Stalker grounded back to the mound, keeping the runners pinned in scoring position while Wasserman, the former Coons farmhand, then a proper Raccoon a decade later, got the second out. He would have gotten the third, too, from Rich Hereford, if Trevino at third had leapt an inch higher to catch his looper. He didn't; it was in for a single, and scored two before Harenberg struck out.

This put the focus on Barzaga, who came to the plate with Mora and Nunley on the corners and two down in the bottom 4th and casually put a ball in the gap for an RBI double, extending his own lead to 3-0. It was the 31-year-old's first career hit, first career RBI, in his third career at-bat. Ramos flew out to left to end the inning, and then the Capitals broke through against Barzaga, who put Trevino on in the top 5th, then was taken well outta the park to right-center by David Lessman to cut the score to 3-2. And they gained more momentum the following inning. Jake Williams doubled, Travis Givens singled, and after a bunt they were in scoring position with two outs. The Coons blinked and sent Kevin Surginer to face the switch-hitter Trevino, but the leadoff man turned on a 2-2 pitch and rocked it sharply into left past a futilely diving Ramos. Both runners scored, the Coons were in the bin again, 4-3. Barber struck out to end the inning.

The loss would not stick to Barzaga, because the Coons again managd to tie the game at four by the bottom 7th. Ramos drew a leadoff walk from Wasserman, and didn't even have to do anything dicey to get into scoring position once Lessman lost a 2-1 pitch for a passed ball. Tim Stalker singled one pitch later, plating Ramos easily to tie it up, 4-4. The Coons used Brotman, Snyder, and Kearney to keep the game tied through regulation, giving them a walkoff chance with Cookie batting in the ninth spot in the ninth inning against righty Ivan Morales with a 4.30 ERA. Cookie ran a full count, leading me to contemplate whether you would bunt with Ramos in that situation, but the need never arose, because Cookie put the 3-2 in play and into the gap. It got through between Tachibana and Houghtaling and the old man raced all the way to third base with a leadoff triple! And there the ****ers left him. Ramos grounded out weakly in a 3-0 count – you stupid, STUPID kid! – Stalker was walked intentionally, Hereford struck out, and Gonzalez rolled one over to Menth. Extra innings. (resigned groan)

The Capitals put Tachibana and Houghtaling aboard against Kearney in the top 10th before Dan McLin watched as the Capitals pulled the protective foil off Mike Bednarski's not well decomposing body for whatever reason, and he kept being as unclutch as he had been during the Great Depression, flying out easily to Rafael Gomez. Givens then grounded out. Lessman hit a 2-run homer off Ricky Ohl in the top 11th before the Coons put Cookie and Ramos on the corners with two 1-out hits in the bottom of the inning. Tim Stalker was now the winning run, but remember that the Coons had not scored more than six against anybody but the Crusaders in TWO MONTHS. They had to score more than six runs to win this one. They didn't. Against right-hander Adam Howell, Stalker flew out easily to left, Hereford hit an RBI single to center, and Harenberg flew out gingerly to Houghtaling in center. 6-5 Capitals. Ramos 2-5, BB; Hereford 2-6, 3 RBI; Carmona 2-3, 3B, 2B; Brotman 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Is it winter yet?

Game 3
WAS: 2B E. Trevino – SS Givens – 1B Barber – CF Houghtaling – C Lessman – LF Bednarski – RF Hodgers – 3B Menth – P Beltran
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Spencer – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez

Rico Gutierrez, who hadn't been amazing since the War of 1812, walked Matt Barber and gave up a 430-footer to Houghtaling right in the first inning to put the Capitals on the sweeping track, at least until the Coons batted through the order in the bottom 1st against the guy that led the Federal League in ERA. Ramos walked, Hereford and Harenberg hit back-to-back bombs to flip the score, Spencer singled, and then Elias Tovias homered, too! 5-2 after the first …!? AIN'T BASEBALL A FICKLE THING??

Would it end well? Did anything ever end well for this team? Rico held up through three, but got taken well deep by Lessman for the catcher's 21st shot of the year, all of them in this series, in the fourth inning. Bednarski and former Loggers scare Victor Hodgers hit singles as the inning drew on, but Menth grounded out to Harenberg and Jake Williams, pinch-hitting for the fallen Beltran, struck out to end the frame. Harenberg pulled the run back in the bottom 4th with a sac fly that got in Ramos, which put the score at 6-3, and thus meant they would not score again in this series. There was two months' worth of evidence to that! So when Jarod Spencer opened the bottom 5th with a leadoff double against longtime Raccoons righty Will West, good ol' Will could surely rest easily. They wouldn't add to that 4.22 ERA of his. Tovias walked, Nunley and Gutierrez struck out, and Ramos grounded out to first, just as expected. They would not get another run in this game; but would six be enough? Rico pitched seven solid innings, Surginer did away with the eighth, and then came the ninth. Snyder took the ball, issued a leadoff walk to Lessman, another one to Bednarski, and this could not be true… Hodgers and Menth both grounded out to the right side, which twice moved up the runners, so it was a 6-4 game with Bednarski at third and two down when Jose Lara pinch-hit in the pitcher's spot. Synder rung him up, salvaging one game from this series. 6-4 Coons. Hereford 3-4, HR, 2 RBI; Harenberg 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Spencer 4-4, 2B; Tovias 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, W (10-9);

Raccoons (72-50) @ Loggers (44-75) – August 20-22, 2027

The staggering thing with the Loggers was that they were close to taking the season series from the Raccoons, who were up only 7-5 at this point against a team that sat 11th in both runs scored and runs allowed in the Continental League. On the brink was a string 13 consecutive years in which the Loggers had drawn the season series three times, but had never won it from the Raccoons, with a total tally of 145-90 in Portland's favor from 2014 through 2026.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (8-9, 3.23 ERA) vs. Danny Soto (7-11, 4.76 ERA)
Rin Nomura (13-5, 2.61 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (6-11, 4.72 ERA)
George James (4-2, 3.08 ERA) vs. Joe West (6-6, 4.27 ERA)

Three right-handed pitchers; there were a number of holes in the Loggers lineup owing to injury, including Willie Trevino, Mike Green, and both of their catchers from earlier, Victor Ayala and Jim Young.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – LF Spencer – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – P Delgadillo
MIL: 1B Dresch – 2B Moroyoqui – LF Cambra – CF Coleman – RF Stone – SS Ferrer – 3B Parten – C Canody – P D. Soto

Three hits, three runs for Portland in the opening inning, as Stalker and Hereford reached base ahead of Kevin Harenberg, who homered to right-center to give Delgadillo the early spot, which he immediately blew with five straight singles smacked by the Loggers in the bottom of the first inning. Jesus Moroyoqui, Firmino Cambra, Ian Coleman, Jason Stone, and Manny Ferrer – Dan Delgadillo just could not get anybody out. The Loggers plated three to pull even right away. That was not all; Jason Stone drove in two with a single in the bottom 2nd, and Delgadillo was on nine hits allowed by then, and 11 hits after the third, in which Jason Parten and Tyler Canody hit singles, but were stranded. That was all for him, banished to the showers after three absolutely pathetic innings. Cookie batted for him with Tovias and Magallanes on base in the top 4th and hit a 1-out RBI double to left. A walk to Ramos filled the bases for Tim Stalker, who tied the game with a sac fly to Ian Coleman in center, but Hereford's fly to left ended a promising inning. In turn, left-handed batters turned on Jeff Kearney in the bottom 4th. Firmino Cambra and Ian Coleman hit leadoff singles, and groundouts scored one of them before Parten was walked intentionally and Canody got rung up, now in a 6-5 score, which also meant that the "six are enough!" Coons had lost already. Thank goodness we could establish that early! The Coons proceded to do absolutely nothing against Loggers pitching from here on out, then had a bottom 7th from a second-tier horror movie; Corey Dresch reached base on a throwing error by Rich Hereford with McLin pitching, and then Stalker made a throwing error to put Cambra on behind Billy Brotman's back. Billy then folded, allowing an RBI single to PH Steve Garcia, then walked Jason Stone, before somehow Manny Ferrer flailed himself out with the bases loaded. Like one more run mattered… the Coons went down entirely feebly anyway. 7-5 Loggers. Stalker 2-4, RBI; Hereford 2-5, 2B; Harenberg 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI;

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – LF Carmona – 2B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Nomura
MIL: 3B V. Diaz – 1B Dresch – LF Cambra – RF Stone – SS Ferrer – CF Coleman – C S. Garcia – 2B Moroyoqui – P Rogers

For the fourth time this week, the Raccoons scored first, but this time only in the third inning. Cookie's 2-out single was their first base hit, and he was in motion right away with Rich Hereford at the plate. Hereford sunk a ball in the left-center gap, and that was well enough to bring in Senor Carmona with the game's first run, after which Harenberg struck out. Now, remember they had not only blown all their "we scored first" leads, but they had also lost all the games in which they had scored first, and lo and behold, Jesus Moroyoqui opened the bottom 3rd with a triple into the leftfield corner. Rogers struck out; Vinny Diaz grounded sharply to third base, where Nunley still had a glove worth fearing, and he shagged that bouncer, sending the runner back to the base, and Diaz to the bench on a 5-3 groundout. Corey Dresch then grounded out to Hereford to strand the leadoff triple. Well, at least other teams suck, too!

Not so hard as the Coons, though. Bottom 4th, Nomura issued a leadoff walk to Cambra, then bled the Loggers into a 2-1 lead with a triple served up to Jason Stone and a double surrendered to Manny Ferrer. Bottom 5th, leadoff single by Diaz up the middle, then a bunt by Dresch that Nomura threw away. That one put runners in scoring position with nobody out, and confidence in a 13-game winner thoroughly eroded. Nomura would not squiggle out of this one, either. Cambra plated a run with a groundout, but the bigger feat was Ferrer's line drive double to left-center that brought in Dresch with two down for a 4-1 score.

In a weird occurrence, the Raccoons brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning without an error being involved. Tovias hit a leadoff single, and Stalker dropped in a 1-out single in the #9 hole, which also got rid of the sorry sight that sad sack Nomura offered. Ramos loaded the bases with a single to shallow left, which also got Rogers removed for left-hander Francisco Colmenarez and his 4.79 ERA. It was not the right move as it soon turned out. He was 2-2 against Cookie before surrendering an RBI single to right, then had a full count on Hereford, before Rich singled into center. With Ramos at second base and an early start, this one scored two and thus tied the score at four. And the Coons weren't done; Kevin Harenberg singled to center, with Cookie dashing home from second base to take the lead, and, well, then Abel Mora hit another sharp ball at Ferrer for an inning-ending double play, keeping it at 5-4, which Boles in the seventh and Surginer in the eighth protected; both struck out pairs in their innings. No insurance run ever came about for Ricky Ohl in the bottom 9th, which Alberto Velez led off pinch-hitting for Moroyoqui and drawing a 4-pitch walk. Ohl got a groundout from Alexis Rueda, then called for a session with the Druid and left the game with an apparent injury. I fainted ever so slightly while Jonathan Snyder took over the 5-4 game with the tying run at second base with one down. Diaz and Dresch both grounded out on just four total pitches to end the game. 5-4 Coons. Carmona 2-5, RBI; Hereford 2-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Stalker (PH) 1-1;

The Druid came up with the good news quickly – Ricky Ohl was out for the year with an elbow strain. What an awesome development…

Ohl landed on the DL by Sunday, with Nick Derks being called up from AAA. Derks, 27, was also a veteran of three cups of coffee, amounting to 32 games, 40.2 innings, and a 3.98 ERA in the majors.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P James
MIL: 1B Dresch – 2B Moroyoqui – LF Cambra – CF Coleman – RF Stone – SS Ferrer – 3B A. Velez – C Canody – P J. West

Ramos walked, stole second, and was blatantly stranded in the first inning. While James allowed no hits and two walks in the first three innings, the Coons got two hits and no runs; Tim Stalker hit a 2-out double in the third, but was stranded when Hereford was robbed by Cambra in the gap. On to the fourth, Harenberg hit a leadoff double to right, then came around to score the game's maiden run on Abel Mora's double in the right-center gap, but Mora also pulled up lame at second base and had to be replaced by Greg Borg, who scored following a Tovias single that moved him to third base when Nunley flew out sufficiently deep to right to allow him to scamper home, 2-0. The inning ended on James' fly out to Cambra, who also hit a leadoff single in the bottom 4th, but got doubled up on Coleman's spinner at Nunley for a 5-4-3 double play. James didn't get a strikeout until he whiffed Ferrer to begin the bottom 5th, but then put Velez (double) and Canody (walk) on base. They were bunted over, but Dresch struck out to strand the tying runs in scoring position. James blew the lead anyway the following inning, retiring nobody to start the bottom 6th. Moroyoqui singled, and Firmino Cambra whacked only his second homer of the year. Moroyoqui hit a 2-out single the following inning to knock James from the game, with Kearney retiring Cambra on a grounder then.

This left a 2-2 tie to resolve one way or another, and a leadoff single by Alberto Ramos in the top 8th was a perfectly valid bid to do so. Unfortunately, the middle of the order was still yuck. Stalker bunted Ramos to second base, even, and they still couldn't get him in. Both Hereford and Harenberg made outs to Coleman in center. On to the ninth, Borg grounded out weekly against former Raccoons right-hander Joe Moore, but Gomez dinked a soft one into shallow right for a single. Tovias flew out to center, Nunley flew out to left, and Josh Boles sent another game to extras with a quick bottom 9th. Harenberg stranded a pair when he grounded out to Moroyoqui in the top 10th, and it would be an error by Manny Ferrer (Ferrer error?) in the 11th against Yoo-chul Kim that put Portland on the map when he fumbled Gomez' 1-out grounder for a free base runner. Tovias then hit a looper to left that Cambra tried to shag in flight, but came up short, then had it get under his glove and past him while he left a 10ft butt mark in the outfield grass and had to scamper after the ball. It was so bad, Tovias wound up with a *triple* as the Coons took a completely and fully unearned lead. Nunley struck out, but Cookie (double) and Ramos (triple) lengthened the score, bringing in another Loggers reliever, Bobby Valencia, who struck out Stalker to end the top 11th. Billy Brotman pitched for the save despite walking a pair in the bottom 11th and getting a nifty play from Greg Borg in center… 5-2 Coons. Ramos 2-5, BB, 3B, RBI; Stalker 2-5, 2B; Mora 1-2, 2B, RBI; Tovias 3-5, 3B, RBI; Carmona 1-2, 2B, RBI;

Nick Derks got the W in relief for somehow surviving the bottom 10th.

In other news

August 17 – Indy's SP Chris Sinkhorn (14-7, 3.43 ERA) not only beats the Rebels 1-0 while striking out 11 and going the distance, but he also NO-HITS Richmond, becoming the fourth Indian to ever achieve the feat, and the first one to do so in over 30 years.
August 17 – SAL 3B/SS Michael Hobbs (.293, 1 HR, 12 RBI) leads the Wolves with four hits and four RBI in a wild 16-10 win over the Aces.
August 20 – A sore shoulder might keep LAP OF Justin Fowler (.301, 22 HR, 90 RBI) out of action for a month.

Complaints and stuff

No news on Mora so soon, and I assume the Druid has to do some meditating before he can make another diagnosis. That, or shrooms, it's usually either-or.

What is the over-under, the warm feeling on the following claim: a season is not a total loss if you don't lose the season series to the Loggers? Because if that is true, we have salvaged '27 already with the squeeze series win on the weekend, going up to 9-6 against them for the year.

Also, the offense scored 5.0 runs per game this week, which was very confusing. Still didn't manage to plate seven against a non-Crusader team, though. And the Titans (who stumbled over Indy on the weekend) are coming up next, oh boy …

How unusual was the game-winning hit on Sunday? It was Elias Tovias' second career triple in 2,070 at-bats. That is quite simply the fewest triples per 1,000 at-bats for any Raccoon ever with at least 2,000 at-bats, and the fewest for any Raccoons position player with at least 1,000 at-bats (the usual exception to remove Kisho Saito and Nick Brown from the sample size; both had one career triple in some 1,100 AB).

RACCOONS BATTERS WITH FEWEST TRIPLES (min 2,000 AB)

1st – Elias Tovias – 2
2nd – Wyatt Johnston – 3
3rd – Craig Bowen – 4
4th – Matt Workman – 5
t-5th – Sam Dadswell – 8
t-5th – Steve Walker – 8
t-5th – Glenn Johnston – 8
8th – Winston Thompson – 9
9th – Albert Martin – 10
t-10th – Matt Nunley – 12
t-10th – Pedro Sαnz – 12
t-10th – Cameron Green – 12

And while Cookie Carmona leads the franchise with 110 career triples, it is not only a function of longevity that nobody at all is even within half of his triples. Second place belongs to Daniel Hall, with 51, ahead of Concie Guerin (42), Neil Reece (41), and the chump Ben O'Morrissey (36).

Alright, I never wanted us to get there, but it is drawing up… our 4,000th regular season loss. It will happen either this month or in September, but I doubt we can make it 103-59 season anymore, which would be what it takes to defer #4,000 to next year.

Fun Fact: Chris Sinkhorn's no-hitter is the first one in an interleague game since the Falcons' Brian Patrick no-hit the Scorpions, also by a 1-0 score, on June 13, 2013.

That was also the last season that Brian Patrick was any sort of effective in the majors, posting a 5-5 record and 4.04 ERA in an injury-shortened season. His ERA rocketed to 5.81 with the Loggers the following year and he only amounted to 38 innings and a 6.28 ERA in 13 games with the Miners in '15 before vanishing from the majors at age 35. His career record was 96-142 with a ghastly 5.11 ERA.
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Old 12-20-2018, 08:06 AM   #2684
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Raccoons (74-51) @ Titans (80-43) – August 24-26, 2027

If the Critters were a little bit closer as they entered Boston, I would declare this a chance, but the probability of them sweeping the Titans, even without sending in any replacement pitching, was slim to begin with. The week also began with Abel Mora being declared day-to-day, but hobbled, with a mild ankle sprain and he was more or less unavailable for at least the first few games of the week. The Titans were fourth in runs scored and had allowed the fewest runs in the league, with an impressive +152 run differential. They were one convincing series win away from mostly locking up the division, although there would be another series against the Coons in September. Portland even led the season series, 7-5, and still had a chance to win it for the first time in six years.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (10-9, 3.89 ERA) vs. Greg Gannon (13-6, 3.38 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (8-9, 3.47 ERA) vs. Guillermo Regalado (9-6, 3.56 ERA)
Rin Nomura (14-5, 2.63 ERA) vs. Jeremy Waite (12-8, 3.61 ERA)

These were all right-handers, but the Titans had Monday off just like the Raccoons and could easily skip somebody to bring in lefty Dustin Wingo (13-5, 1.57 ERA). How does someone lose five games with a 1.57 ERA?? The Raccoons would definitely skip Juan Barzaga (0-0, 6.35 ERA) in Mark Roberts' vacated spot.

Boston also missed a few regulars from their lineup, with Rhett West (finger) and Keith Spataro (quad) on the DL, but they would be back in September, although maybe not in time to face the Coons then.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – CF Magallanes – 2B Stalker – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez
BOS: CF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – LF Kuramoto – 3B Corder – C A. Arias – 2B Good – SS J. Perez – P Gannon

The Coons scored a first-inning run once more, with Tim Stalker snipping a 2-out single to right, stealing second base, then coming home on Harenberg's line drive to right-center. Boston was almost right away on top of Rico, though, with Gus Gasso singling sharply in the bottom 1st, and Ramos fumbling a grounder by Adam Braun to put two men on, but Yasuhiro Kuramoto flew out to left and Stalker handled Adam Corder's grounder for the third out. There was no safety net in the second, though, when Alex Arias opened the inning with right-center gapper for a double, then scored on Jon Perez' RBI single. Portland came rumbling right back in the third, with Ramos legging out an infield grounder for a leadoff single, his 100th hit of the season, then stole his 40th base off strong defensive catcher Arias. Tim Stalker plated him with a single. Harenberg struck out, Hereford reached on an error by Matt Good, but Rafael Gomez, in a 2-for-27 hole, lined out to Perez to strand a pair. Then it was the Titans' turn to roar back past them in the bottom 3rd. Rico Gutierrez allowed a leadoff single to Braun, then walked the bags full before allowing a 2-run double to Arias, who came in batting .185; another run scored on Good's groundout, putting Boston up 4-2. They extended that to 5-2 on Gasso's solo shot in the fourth, but the Coons brought the middle of the order to the plate as the tying run in the top of the fifth, which started with another Good error putting Ramos on base before Gannon walked Juan Magallanes. Tim Stalker dropped a single into shallow center to load the bases for Kevin Harenberg, who – with three on and nobody down – put Gannon's very next pitch into shallow right for an RBI single, cutting the gap to 5-3. That became 5-4 on a passed ball lost by Arias, but then someone threw the anchor; Hereford struck out, Gomez grounded out to first, and Tovias grounded out to the pitcher, and Stalker and Harenberg were stranded in scoring position. Ramos hit a 2-out triple in the sixth, but was stranded when Magallanes grounded out, and that kept Gutierrez on the hook after he had been hit for by Cookie Carmona to no great effect in the inning. The Titans did score a run, though, Jon Perez hitting a leadoff single off Barzaga, then scoring on another single by Gasso with two outs in the bottom 6th, extending their lead to 6-4, and another run in the seventh when Barzaga and Kearney made a mess on the bases.

Yet again – the tying run was up again in the eighth. Tovias hit an infield single, moved to second on a wild pitch by Gannon, then to third on Nunley's single. Jarod Spencer batted for Kearney, hit a sac fly not helping in the grander scheme of things, and then Ramos struck out to end the eighth, at least the top half. The bottom half saw Nick Derks allow a leadoff double to PH Adrian Reichardt, walked Willie Vega and Braun, and conceded an RBI single to Yasuhiro Kuramoto. Billy Brotman then replaced him, and surrendered all his remaining runs by walking in a run against Keith Leonard, then shed two more RBI singles to leave the Coons thoroughly routed. Top 9th, Julio San Pedro inherited an 11-5 lead and had one job to do, but actually made it interesting. Greg Borg singled in Magallanes' spot. Stalker singled. Harenberg singled. Suddenly the bags were full and there was again nobody out. Rich Hereford hit a deep drive to right, but Braun made the catch, holding him to a sac fly. Ben Marx replaced San Pedro, drilled Rafael Gomez to restock the bags, and when Elias Tovias dropped an RBI single in front of Braun, the score became 11-7 and it was the first time in 70 days that the Raccoons had plated seven runs against a team not the Crusaders. And they were still doomed, ****ty pitching to be credited for that. Nunley struck out. Daniel Rocha, last healthy stick on the bench, popped out to Kuramoto in shallow left, and the game was in the books. 11-7 Titans. Ramos 2-5, 3B; Borg (PH) 1-1; Stalker 4-5, RBI; Harenberg 3-5, 2 RBI; Tovias 2-5, RBI;

We even out-hit them, 14-13, but except for that Ramos triple that did not lead to a run, all hits were singles again. The Titans landed a homer and three doubles.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Gomez – LF Spencer – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Delgadillo
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – 2B Good – 1B Gasso – C Leonard – 3B Corder – RF Braun – SS J. Perez – P Regalado

Ramos opened the game with a single, after which nothing interesting happened anymore in the inning. Rafael Gomez would put the Coons up 1-0 with a solo jack in the second inning, but Delgadillo, who struggled from the start with control, command, confidence, and coolness, surrendered the lead on doubles by Reichardt and Good in the bottom of the third. While Delgadillo walked "only" three batters in five innings, he also took 97 pitches to get through five innings, running numerous full counts. He hung around for the sixth, got Gasso on a pop, and might have gotten Leonard on a fly to right, if Hereford hadn't messed up and had dropped the ball when it hit the heel of his glove. Adam Corder's single to left put runners on the corners as well as Delgadillo to bed, and the Coons turned to Kevin Surginer, who got Braun to foul out, then Gomez to catch up with Perez' fly in center, ending the inning still in a 1-1 tie. And that score stuck around for longer as Surginer got two more outs for four in total before Brotman did away with the mostly left-handed middle of the order for the next four outs to put the game clear through eight. Ben Marx was up for the Titans in the ninth, facing the Coons' own middle of the order. Rich Hereford drew a leadoff walk, stole second base, only for Harenberg to also walk. Gomez was key here, because behind him was Brotman, with Spencer having earlier been removed in a double switch, and the Coons' bench was notoriously weak. He flew out to left, though, Tovias batted for Brotman and struck out, and Matt Nunley was in a month-long slump and had sagged to .234 – but got the ball to fall in. His fly to right landed near the line, out of Braun's reach, and Hereford scored on the single to break the 1-1 tie! Braun also could not reach Rocha's liner to right, which fell for an RBI double and knocked out Marx for San Pedro, who brought in Nunley with a wild pitch to Magallanes, who ultimately flew out to Braun. With Ricky Ohl on the shelf for the year, Jonathan Snyder was back in the closer's role, especially with right-handers up in the bottom 9th (although Josh Boles was knocking on that door…), but despite a Rocha error putting Braun on base, he put the game away without the Titans coming back. 4-1 Coons. Ramos 2-4; Rocha 2-4, 2B, RBI; Surginer 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K;

That was the 26th save for Snyder this year, and maybe also the last. He was in growing discomfort after the game and might be the latest broken pitching toy that we have to throw on that pile (points at the quivering remains of Roberts, Anderson, and Ohl) over there…

Say, Josh – how'd you like closing?

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – CF Borg – P Nomura
BOS: CF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – 3B Corder – C A. Arias – 2B Good – LF Reichardt – SS Perkins – P Waite

A 2-out Titans rally in the bottom 2nd saw Good and Reichardt hit hard singles off Rin Nomura before Justin Perkins hit a ball into the rightfield corner for a 2-run double, the first tally in the game, and they had another 2-out, 2-run double in the bottom 3rd with Alex Arias hitting a ball into the leftfield corner to plate Braun and Corder. The Critters had no base hits the first time through the order, then there was a third inning single Ramos, a fourth inning single by Gomez, but nothing of substance. By the sixth, the Coons had made more errors than they had base hits; Tovias had fumbled a grounder, Harenberg had dropped a feed, and Ramos made a poor throw to first. Somehow, Nomura didn't surrender any more runs than he already had and left the game after six innings and just over 100 pitches, still down four-zip. Hereford would open the seventh with a single to center, which removed Jeremy Waite from the game on a 3-hit shutout, apparently for reasons of injury. Left-hander Mike Stank replaced him and retired the next three Critters in order. Portland didn't get onto the board until the eighth, and then on a throwing error by Perkins, a ball thrown over the head of Keith Leonard at first base for a 2-base error that put Ramos on second and scored Magallanes, who had earlier hit a 2-out double to left-center. Harry Merwin came in for Boston and retired Stalker on a fly to center. They never got another runner, going down silently against Matt Rosenthal in the ninth. 4-1 Titans. Hereford 2-4; Magallanes (PH) 1-1, 2B;

(sigh)

Raccoons (75-53) vs. Aces (62-64) – August 27-29, 2027

The ludicrously weak CL South had the sub-.500 Aces just two games behind the lead, currently held by the Condors. They had the second-most runs in the CL, but had allowed the third-most, with a +4 run differential. They had the worst bullpen in the Continental League, being consistently lit on fire to the tune of a 4.76 ERA. The Raccoons were up 4-2 against Vegas on the season.

Projected matchups:
George James (4-2, 3.03 ERA) vs. Tom Shumway (8-12, 4.38 ERA)
Juan Barzaga (0-0, 7.71 ERA) vs. Ed Hague (12-11, 4.13 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (10-10, 4.04 ERA) vs. Abramo Archibugi (13-11, 2.96 ERA)

Left, right, left to contend with; meanwhile the Coons were still an arm short in the pen as the Druid was off in the woods collecting herbs for whatever purpose related to Jonathan Snyder.

Game 1
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – SS Tadlock – RF M. Hamilton – 3B Blades – 2B A. Medina – 1B E. Moreno – CF Serrano – P Shumway
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – LF Spencer – CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P James

Vegas went up 2-0 in the first inning when James walked Josh Motley, then allowed singles to Ron Tadlock, Matt Hamilton, and, crucially, Andres Medina with two outs, the latter plating both runs. But Tom Shumway was also put in the wringer right away; Ramos and Stalker hit singles, Hereford plated Ramos with a sac fly, and then Rafael Gomez cracked a 2-piece to left to flip the score in Portland's favor right away, 3-2, but the Aces came right back, tying the score at three in the top 2nd on Josh Motley's RBI double to center. That run was unearned; Tom Dunlap had reached on a throwing error by Matt Nunley.

By the fourth, rain joined the proceedings, causing a half-hour delay more or less right away. When play resumed, George James hit Tom Shumway, which was not a display of strong pitching, either, then had Magallanes sell out for an awesome play on Dunlap's drive in deep center to at least keep the game tied. At the same time, the defense tried to sink a shaky James all the time. Nunley made another error in the fifth, which led to nothing good for Vegas, and Stalker dropped a 2-out pop by Eddie Moreno for an error in the sixth. Danny Serrano reached on an infield single, but the Aces did not bat for Shumway, whom James then struck out, rather than in the thigh. It was only going to get worse, though. The seventh had Kearney pitching, with Motley drawing a 1-out walk. Ron Tadlock grounded to the mound, with Kearney trying to start a 1-6-3 double play, but Ramos couldn't turn it, then couldn't turn anymore. He left the game with back pain, replaced by Abel Mora in the leadoff spot while the defense shifted all over the place. All for nought, as well, with Matt Hamilton tripling into the gap in right-center to break the tie with two outs. Dan McLin would retired Brett Blades to end the inning, while Mora reached base as the tying run to lead off the bottom 8th, albeit only on Andres Medina's error. Three weak outs stranded him, and when Josh Boles kept the Aces to their 1-run lead in the ninth, the 5-6-7 batters were up against righty Franklin Alvarado and his 3.06 ERA in the bottom of the ninth inning. Tovias smacked a 1-2 pitch to center for a leadoff single, then was run for by Greg Borg, then was caught stealing on a hit-and-run call on which Spencer missed. Spencer walked; Magallanes struck out. Matt Nunley grounded out to Moreno to end this particular ****ty game. 4-3 Aces. Stalker 2-4; Tovias 2-4;

(shrugs)

As everything kept unravelling, we put two players on the DL by Saturday. Jonathan Snyder was lost for the season with a partial tear in his labrum, while Alberto Ramos was out for four weeks – so most of the remaining season – with back spasms.

The Coons called up Jonathan Fleischer and Adam St. Germaine … does anybody even remember Adam St. Germaine? He batted .179 for the Coons early in the season after coming over in the Jon Gonzalez trade that was already in the "terrible" category. The other player coming over was Trey Rock, who had already been canned to Denver. St. Germaine had spent some time on the DL in AAA, but had batted .290/.446/.391 when healthy.

Game 2
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – SS Tadlock – RF M. Hamilton – 3B Blades – 2B A. Medina – 1B May – CF Serrano – P Hague
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Barzaga

Barzaga didn't implode right away, and in turn opened the third inning with a ball hit into the leftfield corner that he legged out for a triple when the ball bounced awkwardly away from Tom Dunlap. Stalker plated him with an infield single, the first run in the game. Stalker reached second base on an errant pickoff throw, but was then thrown out at home plate on Rich Hereford's single to left. Barzaga survived a leadoff double by Ron Tadlock in the fourth, then had the lead expand in the bottom of the inning. Rafael Gomez hit a leadoff jack, and then Mora tripled to right and scored on a wild pitch by Ed Hague, 3-0. Tovias struck out, but Matt Nunley hit a homer to right to extend the score to 4-0, but the Aces also got to Barzaga in the fifth, getting on the board with a Serrano solo home run in the inning, but that remained the only blemish on the scrap starter, who lasted seven innings and conceded only three base hits, while whiffing seven. The Coons scratched out another run on singles by Hereford, Harenberg, and Mora in the bottom of the seventh inning, extending the lead to 5-1, which the Aces nevertheless encroached on in the eighth inning. Jonathan Fleischer retired Serrano to begin the frame before Kearney took over, walked PH David Gonzalez, then surrendered the run on Motley's 2-out double. He hung around, walking Tadlock ntentionally to get to Hamilton, who struck out to end the inning. Bottom 8th, righty Alejandro Purcella tried to move the game silently along without his 5.40 ERA ballooning further, but a walk to Nunley, a pinch-hit single by Cookie, and another walk drawn by Tim Stalker loaded the bases with nobody out. NOBODY SCORED. Spencer flew out to shallow center, too shallow for Nunley to go, Hereford struck out, and Harenberg grounded out to Medina. Out came Josh Boles for his first appearance as third-string regular closer. Brett Blades led off with a single to right. Alright, here we go… Actually, we didn't. Boles got his act together, rung up both Medina and Donovan May, then got Serrano on a grounder to Nunley. Ballgame. 5-2 Coons. Hereford 3-5, 2B; Harenberg 2-5; Gomez 2-4, HR, RBI; Mora 3-4, 3B, 2B, RBI; Nunley 2-3, BB, HR, RBI; Carmona (PH) 1-1; Barzaga 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, W (1-0);

Game 3
LVA: LF Dunlap – C Motley – 3B Blades – RF M. Hamilton – 1B Tadlock – CF Serrano – SS A. Medina – 2B Dein – P Archibugi
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Mora – CF Borg – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez

Rico Gutierrez got clubbed for four singles and two runs right in the opening inning, including leadoff singles by both Dunlap and Motley, left-handed batters to boot. Archibugi found his own rocky inning soon enough, though; Tovias hit a leadoff single in the second, Greg Borg doubled to left, and Nunley found the gap between Dunlap and Serrano for a game-tying 2-run double, too. But Gutierrez continued to not fool anybody; Hamilton doubled off the fence with two down in the top 3rd, Tadlock walked, and then Serrano fired another long drive to right, but Rafael Gomez caught up with that one to end the inning. The home crowd was slightly dismayed, though. As was I. Gomez then also ended the bottom 3rd, trying to score from first base on a 2-out double Elias Tovias, but was told NOPE by Serrano with a perfect throw to home plate.

What ever had happened to Rico Gutierrez? What the **** did I know? But he kept sucking for sure. When Tim Stalker made an error in the fifth inning that put Brett Blades aboard with two down, Gutierrez folded instantly and allowed three straight base hits. Hamilton singled, Tadlock drove in both runners, and Serrano also singled before Gomez caught a fly by Medina. Those runs were unearned, which didn't make his ****ty performance any better. The offense didn't have anything to offer right away, and precious little down the road until Tim Stalker hit a solo homer in the bottom 7th, but that still only closed the gap to 4-3. The Coons, bereft of all sorts of pitching, then had to hope for a decent inning by Nick Derks to keep the Aces close, but he surrendered hard drives to all three Aces he faced. Tadlock flew out to deep center, Serrano singled hard to left, and Gomez somehow robbed Medina in the gap. With left-hander Donovan May pinch-hitting for Jeremy Dein, the Critters called on Billy Brotman, who lost the first baseman in a full count before ringing up Archibugi, who the Aces seemed convinced would finish the game after allowing three runs already. Well, he sure enough retired the Coon's middle of the order in 1-2-3 fashion in the bottom 8th… The chance technically remained in the bottom 9th, then against Alvarado. Mora and Cookie made soft outs before Nunley coaxed a walk in a full count. That got Rich Hereford involved, pinch-hitting for Jonathan Fleischer and flying out to Serrano in center… 4-3 Aces. Tovias 2-4, 2B;

In other news

August 23 – Capitals and Cyclones go away at another for 16 innings before the Capitals secure a 5-4 walkoff win on a throwing error by rightfielder Marty Reyes (.061, 0 HR, 2 RBI) that allows Washington's Jeremy Houghtaling (.272, 20 HR, 71 RBI) to score.
August 25 – The Warriors trade 1B Danny Lane (.240, 12 HR, 59 RBI) to the Capitals for SP Antonio Quintana (6-8, 4.24 ERA).
August 25 – The Stars smack down the Wolves in a 17-4 rout, including a 7-run seventh in which DAL 3B Carlos Padilla (.237, 8 HR, 49 RBI) chips in a pinch-hit grand slam off SAL MR Cameron Cherry (3-0, 3.38 ERA).
August 27 – LAP SP Gavin Lee (17-4, 2.85 ERA) 1-hits the Rebels in a 4-0 Pacifics win. RIC RF/CF Dan Dalton (.293, 6 HR, 40 RBI) hits a single in the first inning, which remains the Rebels' only knock in the game.
August 27 – WAS SP Graham Wasserman (8-8, 4.55 ERA) is out with a torn flexor tendon. Whether the 37-year-old right-hander will even come back after the estimated 10 months it will take to recover is up in the air.
August 28 – DEN RF/LF Vinny Chavira (.276, 18 HR, 88 RBI) will be out for four weeks with an elbow strain.
August 28 – OCT 2B/SS Alex Serrato (.272, 17 HR, 62 RBI) might be out for the season with a strained hip muscle.
August 28 – The Capitals also might have lost INF Dave Menth (.320, 18 HR, 75 RBI) for the year after the 30-year-old jammed and sprained his thumb sliding into a base.

Complaints and stuff

Before I begin, let me assure you that all the points I am making are in full agreement with my honest and proud council, lined up on the and next to the good old brown couch. (points at Cristiano Carmona still wiping his wet eyes, the Druid staring blankly into space, Chad nodding repetitively while wearing the giant mascot head, and Slappy toasting approvingly with a bottle of booze)

Recurring back spasms are the greatest thing to have for a 21-year-old sterling shortstop. Also, Maud hid the bleach again, which kept me from treating my own core pain over this development.

Saturday was the eighth save of the year for Josh Boles, and the 10th for his career. Mind he's only 23, and he keeps looking very Thrasheresque with those 13 K/9. Also mind he was a trash heap pickup in the spring of 2024 after having been released by the Warriors.

Thanks to this week's soul-clenching performance by the team, they could grab that 4,000th regular season loss as early as next weekend. We polled by dropping either green balls for good things to happen, or red balls for certain doom into a cookie jar, and there are now four red balls in there, while it seems like Chad ate the balls he got for the purpose.

Next week, Condors and Indians. The Coons need to win two from Tijuana to begin the week to prevent a losing August, which would be their first losing month this season. Do we need - … anybody feel like they want to change their vote? (holds up cookie jar) – Seems like nobo- … what is… Chad, why are you nodding?? YOU DIDN'T EVEN VOTE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

Fun Fact: 38 years ago this Friday, Jason Turner no-hit the Thunder in a 3-0 Raccoons win.

Now, that was back then the second ever Raccoons no-hitter after Juan Berrios' in 1977. What a lineup that was back then. Glenn Johnston, Matt Higgins, Daniel Hall, Tetsu Osanai, Mark Dawson, Antonio Gonzalez, Sam Dadswell, Daniel Dumont (…?), and, well, Turner, who later in the season would toss eight innings of 1-hit ball to beat the Knights in Game 7 of the CLCS.

Glenn Johnston chipped in three hits, including a 2-run homer off Domingo Leσn, and on that August 27, 1989 we felt really good about what an awesome centerfielder we had found that would serve us forever and ever.

And then came October, Ed Parrell's fly in the 14th of Game 6, and a spiked lance rammed right through every decent Coons fan's heart.
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Raccoons (76-55) vs. Condors (66-65) – August 30-September 1, 2027

The Condors, too, looked like they were playing out the string, but were actually leading the South with their crummy record. They were seventh in runs scored, fourth in runs allowed, and at least were a few games under their expected record with a +40 run differential. Nevertheless, the Raccoons had owned them all year long, having won five of six games from them so far.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (8-9, 3.40 ERA) vs. Alex Hichez (9-12, 3.87 ERA)
Rin Nomura (14-6, 2.76 ERA) vs. Sean Rigg (6-4, 3.56 ERA)
George James (4-2, 3.03 ERA) vs. Jeff Little (12-3, 1.83 ERA)

Rosters will expand on Wednesday, which would be Little's start, who is also their only left-hander. I consider it unlikely that they will bring up some rookie scum to push him back when every game counts for them.

Nothing counts anymore for the Coons.

Game 1
TIJ: CF Betancourt – LF Denzler – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – SS Showalter – C Zarate – RF Chaplin – 2B Bross – P Hichez
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Delgadillo

Yusneldan started out all over the place, issuing a single to Joel Denzler, who stole second, an RBI single to Shane Sanks, a walk to Andrew Showalter, and a bruise to Danny Zarate right in the first inning. The Coons also put two on, even with nobody out as Stalker and Spencer both singled, but that didn't mean they would score a first-inning run. Hereford and Harenberg both flew out to center, in between of which Jarod Spencer was picked off first base. McGrath would hit a solo homer off Delgadillo in the third inning, but Rafael Gomez tied the score twice for Portland; once with a solo homer of his own in the bottom 2nd, then with a 2-out RBI single plating Spencer in the bottom 3rd. The latter brought up Abel Mora with Harenberg and Gomez and second and first, and Abel launched a real rocket to right-center that gasped over the fence by less than three feet, a 3-piece to put Portland ahead 5-2.

On one hand, Delgadillo got better as the game went into the middle innings, and on the other hand he didn't. The Condors also helped out, not batting for Hichez in the fourth with Danny Zarate on third base and two outs. Dan got the K, but then had more trouble in the fifth, which started with a Danny Betancourt single to right, quickly followed by Denzler doubling up the line. Betancourt was sent for home, where he was thrown out by Rich Hereford and Tim Stalker on the relay; Denzler went to third on the throw, Shane Sanks walked, and then both McGrath and Showalter struck out on fine pitches to strand them on the corners. Delgadillo ran up quite the K count, 11 in total through six innings, including whiffing his final batter, Luis Leija, but that also put him at 109 pitches due to the mess he made all the time. Greg Borg batted for him in the bottom 6th, and after that it was on the pen, which immediately yielded a leadoff triple by Betancourt off Billy Brotman in the seventh. Denzler brought in the run with a sac fly before Kevin Surginer took over and the real ****show began. Walk to Sanks, then McGrath flew out to right. Showalter singled, at which point Chad Highsmith ran for the lead runner with two outs. But why bother? Surginer threw two wild pitches while adding walks until the bags were full in a 5-4 game with right-hander Pat Sanford pinch-hitting for Dave Bross. The Coons brought Dan McLin into the fray, whose first pitch was put into the depths of centerfield for a bases-clearing double. Paul Langan made the final out after that.

Down 7-5, the Coons faced righty Lorenzo Romero in the bottom 7th. Spencer hit a leadoff single before Rich Hereford got nicked. Harenberg drew a 4-pitch walk, giving Portland three on and nobody out. Rafael Gomez unhelpfully fouled out, which brought up Mora, who had done some damage already in the game, and now hit a fly into the right-center gap. Neither Betancourt nor Mike Chaplin got even close as the ball made it all the way to the fence for a bases-clearing, lead-retaking triple! Up 8-7, Nunley was walked intentionally, Rocha walked unintentionally, Cookie Carmona brought in a run on a fielder's choice, and Stalker grounded out against new pitcher and ex-Coon David Kipple. On to the eighth, where Kearney and Derks walked the bases full before Showalter smacked into a 4-6-3 double play, which was such a calming event, but at least Josh Boles held up in the ninth inning. 9-7 Raccoons. Spencer 4-5; Gomez 2-4, HR, 2 RBI; Mora 2-4, HR, 3B, 6 RBI; Rocha 3-3, BB; Borg (PH) 1-1; Delgadillo 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 11 K;

Thanks, Kevin. ****ing twat.

Game 2
TIJ: CF Betancourt – RF Leija – SS Showalter – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – C Zarate – LF Chaplin – 2B Bross – P Rigg
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF St. Germaine – P Nomura

Rigg displayed a disturbing lack of control, walking five Coons in the early innings. This was in addition to knelling Stalker to begin his day in the first place, with Stalker coming around on singles by Hereford and Harenberg in the bottom 1st. In the third inning, the latter two got on base again; Rafael Gomez plated Hereford with a sac fly before Rigg not only walked the bases full with two outs, but also issued a bases-loaded walk to Adam St. Germaine, which gave St. Germaine his second RBI of the year, and the first one not occurring on a stray homer. Nomura flew out to Betancourt to strand three with a lead of as many runs.

After that it turned into a game in weather unusually murky even for Portland in late August. There was a rain delay in the sixth inning of some 20 minutes that was highly disconcerting if your team had a burnt out bullpen behind a starter on 62 pitches through 5 1/3 innings, but Nomura kept soldiering on after the interruption, though not without incidents. It was also a game of solo homers after the early innings; McGrath in the fourth and Sanks in the sixth hit bombs to left off Nomura, cutting the gap to a single run before Harenberg fired a solo shot off right-hander Josh Sharp to right in the bottom 7th, getting back to 4-2. Sharp also put Tovias and St. Germaine on base with soft 2-out singles before leaving for lefty Joe Perry. The Coons sent Magallanes to bat for Nomura, but he grounded out to Sanks at third base, which got us back to that burnt out bullpen… The Condors got a leadoff single by Betancourt, then a 2-out walk drawn by Sanks off Dan McLin in the eighth to pull up the go-ahead run in McGrath, who struck out. Portland only amounted to a Hereford infield single in the bottom 8th, bringing Josh Boles into his fourth game in five days. He began the ninth by walking Paul Langan, then recovered and in order struck out Mike Chaplin, Joel Denzler, and Chad Highsmith to end the game. 4-2 Coons. Hereford 3-5; Harenberg 3-5, HR, 2 RBI; St. Germaine 2-2, 2 BB, RBI; Nomura 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, W (15-6);

Somehow, we made it to September and the roster expansion. Needing arms first and foremost, the Raccoons called back Jason Butler (but not for starting this time), and left-hander Hector Morales, 27, who had been up at various times in the last five seasons, rarely with any success. His major league acumen encompassed only 20 innings, but 13 walks, with a 3.60 ERA; still better than his 5.85 ERA in AAA ball this year. But we needed the arm… Also, he was on the 40-man roster already, which eased up things for us.

Also back up: Jing-quo Liu and R.C.; he former had batted .305 with six homers in St. Pete; further Daniel Bullock (more because of a natural decrease in the number of shortstops surviving on the roster than any merit of his own; also 40-man roster considerations), and Steve Hollingsworth.

Nope, no juicy prospects to cast a glimpse at.

Game 3
TIJ: CF Denzler – SS C. Miller – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – RF O. Larios – C Zarate – LF Leija – 2B Bross – P Little
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Borg – 3B Nunley – P James

Jeff Little as unceremoniously as unsurprisingly retired the Critters in order in the first three innings, but yielded a leadoff walk to Tim Stalker in the bottom 4th. Spencer hit into a double play before Hereford singled past call-up Chris Miller, but Harenberg got rung up. For a nice surprise, BOTH pitchers were tossing a 1-hit shutout through four innings, although Omar Larios reached on an infield single to the left side to begin the fifth. Stalker was carried onto the outfield grass fielding it and had no shot. Zarate bunted badly, getting Larios forced out, but then stole his 30th base of the season (a catcher with wheels!), but ultimately was stranded in scoring position in the inning.

By the sixth, Daniel Bullock was in the game after Tim Stalker left the contest with a tweak in his back. Yeah, MORE O' THAT, PLEASE!! No bad things happened immediately, but the Coons also couldn't make anything of Spencer's leadoff single in the bottom 7th, stranding him on first base. That was the last inning for Little, who had never been very enduring and was scouted with "6" stamina by our head scout (whose name I totally knew, or had written down, somewhere, anywhere), which was considered the bare minimum to be an efficient starter. James outlasted him, adding an eighth scoreless frame, but was hit for with Abel Mora in the bottom 8th after Nunley drew a 2-out walk off Mike Baker, and the slimmest chance presented itself. It evaporated on a fly out to Larios. Surginer pitched the top 9th, put Sanks on with a leadoff single, and Betancourt ran for him and instantly swiped second base on a sleeping Tovias. Surginer struck out a pair before conceding the run on a Zarate single. The Coons went down in order to Joe Perry in their half of the ninth. 1-0 Condors. James 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K;

The news on Tim Stalker could be worse; a slight jam in the back, we hear, and it would be best to hold him out of the Thursday game. Maybe also Friday. I am supposed to check back in with the Druid after he has finished peeling his banana.

He does so very slowly and without blinking.

Raccoons (78-56) vs. Indians (65-67) – September 2-5, 2027

Last in runs scored, third in runs allowed, and being rather annoying to the Coons all year long – that was this Indians team. They had rallied well from years near the bottom of the pond, but then again still did not have a winning mix. Their run differential was -51, so luck had been involved in them playing nearly .500 ball. The season series stood at 6-5 in the Raccoons' favor.

Projected matchups:
Juan Barzaga (1-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Chris Sinkhorn (15-8, 3.40 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (10-11, 3.98 ERA) vs. Andy Bressner (2-4, 4.38 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (8-9, 3.39 ERA) vs. Myles Mood (5-12, 3.54 ERA)
Rin Nomura (15-6, 2.75 ERA) vs. David Elliott (8-12, 4.91 ERA)

Sinkhorn and Elliott are two of their three left-handed starters (besides 13-8 John McInerney and his 2.58 ERA).

Unless we get swept, we will defer our 4,000th regular season loss to next week.

Game 1
IND: SS Pizano – CF Zanches – C Dear – 1B Tello – 3B C. Castro – 2B E. Alvarez – LF O'Rourke – RF Suhay – P Sinkhorn
POR: 2B Spencer – 3B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Hollingsworth – SS Bullock – P Barzaga

Barzaga was in the **** right from the start with Mario Pizano leading off with a clean single to right, after which he stole his 44th base, and Barzaga engorged in three straight walks to plate him. Cesar Castro hit into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play, after which Edwin Alvarez flew out to Mora in a 2-0 game. The entire game got off to a terrible start. It was hardly baseball that was on display here. After Rafael Gomez cut the gap in half with a solo shot in the bottom 1st, Hollingsworth conceded a leadoff double to Dave O'Rourke in the top 2nd with a circuitous approach to a catchable fly ball, and Barzaga then walked Ben Suhay right away. Sinkhorn had one job here, but struck out bunting for the first out, only for Barzaga to advance the runners with a wild pitch. Pizano popped out to second, where Spencer dropped the ball for a run-scoring error, and by now the home crowd showed some dismay. Barzaga faced only one more batter, walking Alex Zanches, before getting booted as a hopeless cause. Rookie Matt Dear then hit a 2-run single on an 0-2 pitch off equally useless Jonathan Fleischer, who was exploded for three runs to begin the fourth inning on a sequence of Sinkhorn double, Pizano RBI single, and Zanches homer, and not a cheap one at that. It was also the first career home run for the 23-year-old Zanches in 235 plate appearances. That was more or less the game; the Coons ran every single ****ty pitcher they could find out there, and most got licked by the flames. The real disappointment was probably Sinkhorn, who got spotted eight and still didn't last past the sixth inning, torched for five runs in total, including a 3-run homer by Gomez in the fifth. The Raccoons still came up well short in this icy shower of a game. 10-5 Indians. Hereford 2-5, RBI; Gomez 2-3, BB, 2 HR, 4 RBI; Bullock 2-4; Derks 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Game 2
IND: SS Pizano – C Dear – 1B Tello – CF Suhay – RF Ryder – LF M. Cowan – 2B E. Sosa – 3B C. Castro – P Bressner
POR: 2B Spencer – SS Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez

I checked the rulebook again and again and there was no provision in there that would give the Indians the leadoff man on base in almost every inning, so it must have been Rico Gutierrez' pitching. On a positive note he outlasted Andy Bressner, who lasted only three innings before departing with an injury in a 1-1 game. The Coons' Rafael Gomez had hit another homer to make up Ben Suhay's RBI double from the first inning. 1-1 was also the score after six, which was as much as Rico was able to give the Critters before having run up 109 somewhat messy pitches. Top 7th, Ramon Tello drove home David de Negri, who had drawn a leadoff walk against McLin, with a 2-out single over the glove of makeshift shortstop Rich Hereford. All the while, the Coons were doing nothing against the Indians' pen, with the first half-decent chance they got being Spencer's leadoff single off Cory Dew in the bottom 8th. Left-hander Ben Knox replaced the former Raccoon Dew and immediately secured a double play grounder from Hereford. Mo Robinson would retire Harenberg and Mora in the bottom 9th before Tovias dropped in a single. Bullock ran for him, there was a wild pitch, a balk, and then Cookie still grounded out to Elias Sosa… 2-1 Indians. Tovias 2-4; Gutierrez 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K and 1-2;

Oh, 4,000 – I see ya loomin' …

Also, Hector Morales faced one batter in this game, then had to be treated for some sort of injury. Do I even want to know at this point?

Game 3
IND: SS Pizano – CF Zanches – C Dear – LF Siebuhr – 3B C. Castro – 2B Wagner – 1B de Negri – RF Ryder – P Mood
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Rocha – P Delgadillo

Neither team managed a base hit through three innings; while Delgadillo was perfect, Myles Mood shed three walks, but the Raccoons were more experienced than that, and also more courteous than that, to exploit his careless mistakes just like that. Hereford hit into a double play in the second; and Spencer popped out to Curt Wagner to strand a pair in the third. Mario Pizano then opened the fourth with a single to left, and in short order Delgadillo's ship was sinking after Zanches' RBI double over the head of Gomez in right. While Zanches was stranded on third base after poor outs by the middle of the order, there was no reason to not believe into that one run being enough to win another one for Indy. Abel Mora had the honor of landing the Coons' first base hit with a leadoff single in the bottom 5th, but although Matt Nunley walked to increase the superficial pressure on Mood, the Arrowhead recovered nicely, whiffing the Coons' battery before Stalker flew out easily to Jon Siebuhr. And in case you just nodded off a bit – for which you can be excused – yes, Delgadillo did walk Mood to begin the sixth inning. He was thrown out at third base on Matt Dear's single to right, ending that inning, though.

None of this made the Coons' less of a wretched bunch, but Spencer led off the bottom 6th with a single that dropped in front of Siebuhr, then swiped second base. Gomez, the hot paw of the week (hey, at least one!) lined a ball near the leftfield line that didn't get past Siebuhr, but was still good enough for Spencer to score the tying run on the single. Kevin Harenberg dropped in a bloop single, and then the runners advanced to scoring position with nobody out on a passed ball charged to Dear with Hereford at the plate, who was then put on intentionally. OH YOU SNEAKY ARROWHEADS!! They knew exactly how to beat the Coons – by giving them three on and nobody out! YOU SONS OF – ARE YOU ****ING SERIOUS?? Mora popped out. Nunley popped out. Rocha popped out. Somewhere in between, I also felt a vein in my left temple pop as I screamed insults from my office above the field. Worse, I got a cramp in my arm from shaking the clenched fist so much and had to seek treatment from the Druid in the depths of the ballpark. Oh well, at least I missed the two 2-out runs the Indians scored off Delgadillo in the eighth on singles by Pizano and Dear, in between which Delgadillo kept fanning the flames rather than the batters with a walk to Zanches. I came back to my office, smelling like squeezed rat puss from the ointment the Druid had rubbed onto my sore arm, probably because it WAS squeezed rat puss, just in time for the bottom 9th where Mo Robinson had the tying runs on the corners with nobody out. Oooh, exciting – how were they going to **** up THIS one!? Adam St. Germaine had reached on a throwing error by Elias Sosa, after which Cookie had singled up the middle. Stalker was up next, soared a ball to shallow center, and Zanches couldn't reach it – RBI single, the winning run was on for Spencer, who precisely grounded at the shortstop for what would easily be two… except that Pizano fumbled it and the bags were full for Rafael Gomez, remember, the hot paw of the week! He had Robinson at 3-1 before popping out to second [insert Wilhelm scream] leaving Harenberg to only tie the game with a sac fly to right. Crucially, Stalker moved to third base on the play, from where he scored comfortably when Rich Hereford singled past a diving, repurposed second baseman Zachary Ryder. 4-3 Blighters. Harenberg 2-3, BB, RBI; Carmona 1-1; Delgadillo 7.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K;

Game 4
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – 1B Tello – CF Suhay – RF Ryder – LF M. Cowan – C J. Ramirez – 3B C. Castro – P D. Elliott
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Hereford – 1B Gomez – C Tovias – LF Borg – CF Magallanes – 3B Bullock – P Nomura

The Coons somehow loaded the bases with Borg, Magallanes, and Bullock with two down in the bottom 2nd, but David Elliott managed to wrestle at least Nomura down, whiffing him in a full count. Tim Stalker opened the scoring with a leadoff jack the following inning, and Spencer doubled after that and came around to score on Hereford's grounder and Gomez' sac fly. Borg and Magallanes would reach again in the fourth, but Bullock struck out and Nomura and Stalker were both retired on pops. Rich Hereford would hit a solo homer in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 3-0 while Nomura was pitching unspectacularly, but in controlled fashion all the while. Few Indians reached, and the Coons also turned a few double plays behind Nomura to advance the game. Nomura coasted into the seventh on a good pitch count even, and was still in good shape after that inning, having made 81 offerings, one of which was hit for a soft single by Suhay in the frame, but didn't lead to damage either.

Bottom 7th, Tim Stalker led off by fouling out against right-hander Ben Darr, who had replaced Elliott after the fifth inning and next yielded a single to Spencer. Rich Hereford lined over the head of Cesar Castro for a double before Rafael Gomez ran a 3-0 count and got the whack sign. Whacking he did – 440 feet to dead center for a no-doubt, 3-run homer to double the tally to a lead of six. In turn, Castro broke up Nomura's shutout with a solo homer in the eighth inning. Portland didn't add on in the bottom 8th while Steve Hollingsworth batted for Nomura, and the ninth was then in Nick Derks' dirty paws against the 2-3-4 batters. Leadoff walk to Sosa – oh jolly! Ramon Tello singled and Josh Boles was already getting warmed up in the bullpen microwave when Ben Suhay, the wild hacker, struck out, as did Ryder after that. Boles came on after an RBI single to left off Joe Cowan's bat, but only surrendered a 2-run double to Jose Ramirez to incinerate another meltdown before Magallanes caught Castro's fly to end the game. 6-4 Coons. Stalker 2-5, HR, RBI; Spencer 2-5, 2B; Hereford 2-4, HR, 2B, RBI; Gomez 1-3, HR, 4 RBI; Tovias 1-2, 2 BB; Magallanes 2-4; Nomura 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (16-6);

In other news

August 30 – At only 33 years old, SAC RF/LF Pablo Sanchez (.307, 4 HR, 40 RBI) – the only ABL hitter ever to hit over .400 in a season – reaches the 3,000 hits mark with a 2-hit effort in a 13-5 Scorpions win over the Capitals. Sanchez, who was Player of the Year three times and took part in the Scorpions' only championship during his tenure, and is the ABL's top earner at $5.3M this season, is a career .344 batter with 103 HR and 1,135 RBI. He has also stolen an all-time record 549 bases.

Complaints and stuff

Rich Hereford played all five of his usual positions this week and somehow survived, but our hero was doubtlessly Rafael Gomez this week as he batted .333 with 5 HR and 13 RBI, yet inexplicably was snubbed for Player of the Week in favor of San Fran's Omar Camacho, who batted .462 with 1 HR and 8 RBI. Unbelievable! Maud! MAUD!! We must write a letter to the league office, pronto!!

When Daniel Bullock returned from AAA to the ballpark in Portland, he immediately sought out Cristiano Carmona and hopped onto his lap before both spent the afternoon hugging and weeping. I keep looking at his stat sheet and I keep not getting the infatuation with his skill set. Don't even ask about the scouting report.

Fun Fact: WAS Enrique Trevino has not only broken Nando Maiello's single-season record for stolen bases when he took his 67th base in a 3-1 win over Maiello's Cyclones, but he also did so on his 20th birthday on August 25.

A month to spare for more heroics – he is at 72 already! That is also 3.6 times his age. Unbelievable! He is batting .306 with no homers and 43 RBI. But, let's be honest. What does he need homers for? He is considered a lock for Rookie of the Year in the Federal League.

Meanwhile, Maiello has only 11 bases taken on the season, but he also missed time on the DL… as usual. Maiello, 30, sits 15th in stolen bases all time with 334 sacks claimed and fifth amongst active players, trailing Pablo Sanchez (552), Cookie Carmona (427), Danny Flores (413), and Piet Oosterom (393).
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Old 12-26-2018, 09:09 AM   #2686
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Raccoons (80-58) @ Canadiens (78-58) – September 6-8, 2027

In the grander scheme of things, this series did not matter; both teams were roughly ten games behind the Titans, and it was all but over. On the other hand, this was for second-place honors and bitter hate was involved with these two teams, and goddamnit, Chad, if you don't stop wiggling the antlers of that plush Elk, I will ****ing defenestrate the both of you!! Vancouver led the CL in runs scored with a mighty 672 (the Coons' total shall be consigned to classified status at this point), but they were also giving up quite a bunch with only the sixth-best pitching in the league. And they were up in the season series, and not by little; they had so far won eight of a dozen games from the hapless Critters.

Projected matchups:
George James (4-2, 2.70 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (9-6, 3.64 ERA)
Juan Barzaga (1-1, 6.46 ERA) vs. Ernesto Lozano (7-10, 4.35 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (10-11, 3.90 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (3-0, 2.27 ERA)

Three right-handers to see here; what we would not see at least to begin the series was offensive nightmare and proficient coonskinner Tony Coca, who was still on the DL, but could potentially get his .315 average and 21 homers involved any day now.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Carmona – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P James
VAN: RF Day – SS Crosby – LF A. Torres – CF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – 1B Myles – C M. Sanchez – 2B Gura – P Cervantes

Coca was out of the lineup, but Alex Torres wasn't, and he hit his 25th dinger of the year right in the first inning, a 2-shot collecting Norman Day and his leadoff walk to erase and subdue the run the Coons had scored in the top of the first on a Hereford single, wild pitch, and Gomez RBI single. While Portland position players amounted to zero additional hits – if you discounted Kevin Harenberg getting hit in the bum in the fourth inning – and only had a fifth-inning single off George James' bat to rave about, the Elks added to their lead with a solo shot by Adan Myles in the bottom 4th, then three base hits including a 2-out RBI single by Brian Wojnarowski in the bottom 5th to extend their lead to 4-1. With Harenberg on board in the sixth, Abel Mora's 2-run shot to deep right came certainly unexpected, but then still trailed by a run. Cookie Carmona singled up the middle, but was stranded when Elias Tovias rolled over to Ted Gura for the third out. None of it helped James, who surrendered another run on extra base hits conceded to Myles and Gura in the bottom 6th before being yanked for Kearney, who had Gura steal third base largely unmolested before Curtis Hargraves plated him with a pinch-hit sac fly to restore the damn Elks' 3-run edge. A Nunley single leading off the seventh got the Coons nowhere, but Nunley came back to bat in the eighth, then with the tying runs on and two outs, facing right-hander Joey Hopkins, who had just walked Tovias to fill them up after a pair of 2-out pinch-hit singles by Jarod Spencer and Steve Hollingsworth off different relievers. Nunley grounded out, pathetically as well, and the Coons were surely sunk and stunk once more. Not quite yet. Adam St. Germaine drew a pinch-walk to begin the ninth, although Stalker then forced him out. However, Rich Hereford singled off Sean Carlsen to put them on the corners and bring up Rafael Gomez as the tying run, but Gomez grounded to short for a run-scoring fielder's choice. Harenberg dropped a 2-out single into left, and that brought up the go-ahead run in… Spencer. He ripped Carlsen's first pitch … right at Gura, and the game ended right there. 6-4 Canadiens. Hereford 2-5; Harenberg 2-4; Spencer (PH) 1-2; Carmona 1-2, BB; Hollingsworth (PH) 1-1;

By Tuesday, the Coons made another roster move, sending Hector Morales to the DL with bone chips in his elbow that the Druid would pray out of there over the offseason. At this point we brought up 24-year-old Jeremy Moesker, a Dutch Antillean lefty that had been a scouting discovery seven years back. He had been demoted from St. Pete to Ham Lake a while ago, but was now putting up nice numbers there. His main boon was that he was on the 40-man already, and we were sort of jammed in that regard.

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF St. Germaine – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Barzaga
VAN: RF Day – SS Crosby – LF A. Torres – CF Wojnarowski – 3B Anton – 1B Myles – C M. Sanchez – 2B Gura – P Lozano

Barzaga's last start had been a straight riot, but this time he held up at least for a few innings, even though he also forced out Nunley at second base with a bad bunt in the third inning. Nevertheless, with one out in the inning the Raccoons went on to fill the bases on a Tim Stalker single, then a Manny Sanchez error, fumbling Spencer's grounder. Gomez, the Coons' RBI king, came up with the bags stacked, popped out on a hefty rip, yet after that Harenberg chipped the ****tiest blooper into shallow left for a 2-run single. Whatever works…! Mora struck out to end the inning. His next time up in the fifth, Harenberg found Stalker (HBP) and Gomez (walk) on base, then crashed the ball into a 4-6-3 double play. Volatile Barzaga maintained a 2-hit shutout through five, so it was all dandy at that point, at least until Adrian Crosby's solo shot in the bottom 6th got the Elks on the board.

At this point, neither team had even four base hits assembled. Matt Nunley changed that with another leadoff single in the seventh, and this time got bunted to second successfully, which was not much of a gain once Tim Stalker was walked intentionally. Spencer hit into a force at second base, but Rafael Gomez lined over Crosby and into the gap. This one was exciting! Wojnarowski failed to cut the ball off, and it almost made it all the way to the fence, allowing Rafael Gomez to reached third base with a 2-out, 2-run triple! Matt Anton then retired Harenberg and his line drive on a sprawling catch to end the inning, and the Coons instantly banished Barzaga after a leadoff walk to Anton in the bottom 7th. Kevin Surginer replaced him, struck out Myles, Anton was caught stealing, and Manny Sanchez flew out to Mora to end the inning. He did allow a single to Gura though, leading off the eighth, which got Kearney involved against Rich Walsh, who had entered the game earlier in a double switch, was playing first base, and batting left-handed with a .212 clip. He spanked a bouncer to Spencer for an easy double play, Norman Day singled, but Crosby grounded out to end that inning, and Josh Boles retired the Elks in order in the ninth to level the series. 4-1 Coons. Spencer 2-5, 2 2B; Barzaga 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, W (2-1);

Tony Coca would not come back for the rubber game; the Elks were tight-lipped about the reasons after initially saying he'd be in the lineup on Wednesday. Apparently he fell over his dog while rough-housing with the pet, said to be a 175-pound Saint Bernard. Or the dog fell on him – the details were murky. In any way, Coca was now ruled out for the entire week.

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Carmona – C Tovias – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez
VAN: SS Byrd – 3B Anton – LF A. Torres – CF Wojnarowski – C R. Ortνz – 1B Myles – RF Al. Medina – 2B Gura – P J. Martin

Joe Martin had won his first major league game against the Critters back in July, had since been back to AAA and was now in the majors again and so far had put up some neat stats, but took a few knocks right in the opening inning. Stalker singled, John Byrd threw away a grounder by Spencer, and after Rich Hereford struck out, Harenberg tripled in the runners before Martin balked him across, too, putting the Elks in a 3-0 hole right away. Soon enough, the Raccoons made their fans gnash their teeth again, though; Tim Stalker hit a leadoff triple in the third, then was stranded there. Spencer grounded out to third base to keep him pinned, Hereford struck out, and Harenberg flew out easily to right. Oh well, at least Rico held the Elks short; a Gura single in the third, a Myles single in the fifth – that was all they had through qualifying distance.

Then came the sixth, a 1-out single by John Byrd, a grounder to Anton that advanced the runner, and then Alex Torres with a mighty drive to left. Fun fact here, Torres and Rafael Gomez were tied for the CL RBI lead with 89 at this point, so this one better not be long while Rafael Gomez got the day off after being sore, even with an off day coming right up. Cookie hustled back to the fence, leapt, and grabbed the ball before it could bang off the wall for a run-scoring base hit. Instead, the inning was over. Before we could feel too good about ourselves, however, Wojnarowski hit a leadoff jack in the bottom 7th, cutting the lead the Coons held to 3-1, and nope, of course they hadn't done anything since the early innings. Nothing good happened to Raccoons hitters in the eighth either, in which Juan Magallanes pinch-hit for Rico Gutierrez. Bottom 8th, Dan McLin got around a Byrd single to keep the Elks in check, and the ninth was Boles' again. Wojnarowski started off with a bloop single to left, bringing up the tying run right away. Then, Boles ran full counts against Ricky Ortνz and Adan Myles… and lost both of them to walks. Three on, no outs, and why, oh why? Manny Sanchez pinch-hit for Alarico Medina, Boles could not afford any more walks and came over the plate, and Sanchez sure didn't miss it. A 370-foot walkoff slam ended the series. 5-3 Canadiens. Stalker 2-3, 3B; Harenberg 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K;

Prior to this disaster, Josh Boles had allowed four earned runs ALL YEAR LONG.

Why does this litter suck so ****ing hard?

Raccoons (81-60) vs. Crusaders (71-67) – September 10-12, 2027

As before, nothing mattered anymore in this series, and maybe it was good that nothing mattered anymore, because the Raccoons were just … ah… (waves with his arms) … The Crusaders ranked fourth in runs scored, seventh in runs allowed, and the Raccoons had already locked up the season series. This was the last meeting between the two teams in '27, and the Raccoons were ahead 10-5. It has been a decade since they won *more* than 11 games from the Crusaders.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (8-9, 3.40 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (8-11, 4.36 ERA)
Rin Nomura (16-6, 2.67 ERA) vs. Jesse Wright (3-0, 2.45 ERA)
George James (4-3, 3.20 ERA) vs. Chris Klein (16-9, 3.69 ERA)

Three more right-handers on offer here, and they had more (Rutkowski, Marron) on the DL as well as in their rotation (Lowrey, Moffatt).

Game 1
NYC: 1B Elder – LF Richardson – RF Ellis – CF Hatley – 3B Schmit – C Asay – SS Laughery – 2B M. Fletcher – P E. Cannon
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo

From the start, Yusneldan got whacked around; Jay Elder opened with a sharp single to center, and before long Nick Hatley cracked a 2-piece to right. Andy Schmit singled in the same inning before Jason Asay struck out. The Crusaders loaded the bases (although Delgadillo helped them out with nicking Elder) in the top of the second, but Nate Ellis hacked himself out to end that inning. They added a run in the third, which Hatley and Schmit opened with singles. The former scored on a grounder and J.D. Laughery's sac fly, 3-0, before Rafael Gomez sold out on Mike Fletcher's fly in the gap to maintain the most remote chance for Portland. Bottom 3rd, Delgadillo hit a single up the middle to begin the frame before Cannon nicked Tim Stalker to bring up the tying run. And what did the meaty part of the lineup do? Sucking they did. Hereford flew out to left. Gomez grounded out, as did Harenberg. The runners were stranded in scoring position, which was not something the Crusaders did in the fourth. They skinned Delgadillo right down to the bones. After Cannon opened the frame by grounding out, Delgadillo stunk up the joint by walking both Elder and Jamie Richardson, then loaded them up with Nate Ellis' single. Hatley hit a sac fly to right, Elder went for home, and Gomez' terrible throw got him an error. One run scored there, two more scored on Andy Schmit's double into the gap in right-center, and with that, Delgadillo was yanked after 3.2 innings and six runs. Steve Costilow got a grounder from Asay to end the inning, while Abel Mora hit an absolutely meaningless leadoff homer in the bottom 4th. You could have kept that one to yourself now, too!

The game was in the bin already, and the Coons would manage to suck their way into a real creaming. Nick Derks allowed a run in the fifth, then put two runners on base in the seventh. Jeremy Moesker made his major league debut with two on and one out, struck out Jamie Richardson, then yielded three straight RBI singles against Ellis, Hatley, and Schmit, then a 3-run homer mashed by Asay. The Raccoons didn't get a base hit in the final four innings at all… 13-1 Crusaders.

Our run differential is diminishing at this point…

Game 2
NYC: 2B J. Gutierrez – 1B Elder – 3B Schmit – C F. Delgado – RF Ellis – SS Ts'ai – CF Hatley – LF Espinosa – P Wright
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF Spencer – C Rocha – 3B Bullock – P Nomura

14 pitches in, Nomura had retired nobody, and the Crusaders had two walks and an infield single and were ready to score with Felipe Delgado at the plate. Scoring they did on a double play grounder, and that was their only run in the inning before Nate Ellis popped out, but how were the damn Coons supposed to make up a 1-0 deficit? And that didn't mean that the Crusaders couldn't make their score blossom, either. The second inning began with Zheng-ze Ts'ai singling in a full count, after which Hatley spanked into a double play. Juan Espinosa homered, Jesse Wright double, ancient Jose Gutierrez – who had started his career with the Mitanni before having been traded to Babylon in 960 BC – singled, and then Nomura brought in the Crusaders' third run with a wild pitch before Elder fanned by accident. That was a 3-0 score in the second inning, and probably the ballgame… By the way, hey – attendant! What is this drink supposed to be!? – Who asked for mango and grapefruit!? DOES MANGO ERASE BAD MEMORIES??

Daniel Bullock hit an RBI single in the bottom 2nd, which would at least make one member of the front office excited, and Rich Hereford launched a solo homer to left-center in the third, so maybe the Coons were not quite as dead on arrival as previously thought. But even down only 3-2 now, Nomura still blew out of his ears. The fourth was palatable, the fifth was a walk to Elder, a Delgado single, and then Harenberg somehow getting in the way of a spiked 2-out bouncer by Ellis to end the inning. The Coons' middle innings were pathetic, as in … no base hits whatsoever. Nomura jammed for good in the seventh, issuing a leadoff single to Gutierrez, who had witnessed the collapse of the walls of Jericho, and then walked Schmit with one out. Surginer came in as replacement, ran a full count against Delgado, who shot a bouncer at Tim Stalker just not lethal enough to break up a double play by sheer force. Tim turned the 6-4-3, and the Coons maintained a hypothetical chance.

That was the only batter that Surginer faced in the game; his spot in the lineup came up in the bottom 7th when the runts of the litter, Daniels Rocha and Bullock, went to the corners with a pair of 2-out hits off Jesse Wright. The Coons sent Elias Tovias to pinch-hit, and he grounded out to Elder on the first pitch. In the eighth, Gomez (double) and Harenberg (walk) knocked out Wright with two outs, but Steve Casey then struck out Mora. That was the last chance they squandered – Travis Giordano retired them 1-2-3 in the ninth. 3-2 Crusaders. Bullock 2-3, RBI;

When Daniel Bullock is your best guy, you don't have to wonder why you are freefalling in the standings.

Game 3
NYC: 1B Elder – LF Richardson – RF Ellis – CF Hatley – 3B Schmit – C Asay – SS Laughery – 2B Ts'ai – P Klein
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – C Tovias – LF St. Germaine – P James

George James seamlessly got in line with the rest of the sucker parade, allowing five straight base hits to begin the Sunday game. Jay Elder singled, Jamie Richardson singled, Nate Ellis singled, Nick Hatley doubled, and Andy Schmit finally singled. Jason Asay's sac fly brought in the fourth and final run of the inning before J.D. Laughery struck out and Zheng-ze Ts'ai flew out to shallow left. In other words – ballgame. AGAIN. James didn't last even two innings, walking a pair in the second before surrendering RBI singles to Hatley and Asay. The latter was ENOUGH. Jeff Kearney got out of the inning with two men stranded, but what did it even matter? The Coons were down 6-0 and were never going to make it up. Even when Jing-quo Liu and Tim Stalker opened the bottom 3rd with singles, and Hereford got a double past Elder for the Coons' first RBI, they were still down by a handful. Rafael Gomez' RBI single made it 6-2, and Harenberg's sac fly 6-3. Mora flew out before Nunley hit a single to left, bringing up Tovias as the tying run with two down. He flew out to center.

Tovias would be the tying run with two outs again in the bottom 5th, then striking out. In the meantime, St. Germaine had doubled to lead off the bottom 4th and had scored eventually on a sac fly by Tim Stalker. This moved the score to 6-4, which almost sounded like a legit ballgame. The Coons were cycling through all their horrible relievers and also a few decent ones in rapid succession while getting no closer though until the seventh inning, where Rich Hereford reached on a Sergio Valdez throwing error to lead off the inning. Gomez grounded out to short, keeping the runner pinned, and Hereford only reached third base on Harenberg's single to right-center. A walk to Mora issued by Jared Stone loaded the bases for Nunley, the franchise king of double plays. He struck out, which was obviously so much better. Cookie batted for McLin in the #7 hole then and flew out to left, stranding a full set. In turn, Nate Ellis extended the Crusaders' lead to 7-4 with a homer off Billy Brotman in the eighth.

Bottom 8th, more false hope. St. Germaine hit a leadoff single to left, and after Rocha flew out, Stalker also hit a single to left. The Crusaders sent lefty Bryce Neal to face Hereford, who flew out to right, then brought righty Sean Byrd to face Rafael Gomez, who chucked an RBI single up the middle – and now Harenberg came up with the tying runs on, two down, and the Crusaders didn't have another left-handed pitcher. And Harenberg? Flew out to right, pathetically. Jason Butler somehow survived the ninth for Portland, who then faced Travis Giordano again in the bottom of the inning. A leadoff walk to Mora brought up the tying run again with nobody out. Nunley grounded into a fielder's choice, Spencer grounded out to move Nunley to second, and a passed ball moved him to third even. He scored on St. Germaine's single to center, but only now was the tying run on base, there were two outs, and Daniel Rocha could not be pinch-hit for and HAD to bat because the Coons had already spent all their catchers. He struck out. 7-6 Crusaders. Stalker 3-4, 2B, RBI; Hereford 2-5, 2B, RBI; Gomez 2-5, 2 RBI; Nunley 2-5; St. Germaine 3-5, 2B, RBI; Liu (PH) 1-1;

In other news

September 6 – SFW MR J.D. Ryerson (0-1, 5.40 ERA) ends the Warriors' 14-inning slog with the Wolves by plating Salem's 3B Milt Lewis (.364, 1 HR, 5 RBI) with a wild pitch, giving the Wolves a 5-4 walkoff win.
September 8 – CHA LF/RF Barend Kok (.277, 12 HR, 50 RBI) might be out for the season after suffering a concussion.
September 12 – The Condors lose 3B/SS Shane Sanks (.296, 23 HR, 73 RBI) for the season with a torn triceps.

Complaints and stuff

Collapse.

Manny Sanchez' walkoff slam on Wednesday secured us back-to-back losing seasons against the goddamn ****ing **** Elks for the first time since going 20-34 against them between 2015 and 2017.

That was also the 4,000th regular season loss for the Coons. How could it not be? How could it not come against the ****ing **** Elks? Thanks, Josh Boles. Thanks a bunch!

One third of an inning, four earned runs – this stellar outing on Friday made Jeremy Moesker the worst Coons pitcher ever by ERA at this point, beating out Mauro Castro's 54.00 ERA from 2013 by … well, another 54 runs. For Castro, that was his only start for the Raccoons, abbreviated after one third of an inning due to injury. The next two worst pitchers by ERA are actually position players; Mark Thomas (36.00 ERA) and Bobby Quinn (27.00 ERA) were pressed into service decades ago and didn't fare well. Jaime Feliz, who allowed six runs in two innings for a 27.00 ERA in 1995 is actually the next-worst reliever to Moesker.

But hey, Moesker allowed two walks, a hit, yet no runs in an inning on Sunday, meaning his ERA is also already down to 27.00! What a talent!

Rafael Gomez, who was level with Alex Torres for the RBI lead in the CL and within sneezing distance of the home run lead, had all of it taken away over the weekend. Torres went ballistic against Boston with six hits, a homer, and 8 RBI to solidify his case for those two CL titles. He has no chance for a triple crown, though, batting only .280.

Fun Fact: In 1993, the Wolves finished last in the FL West, while at the same time missing the playoffs by only six games.

The 77-85 Wolves came in six behind the 83-79 Stars, the second-worst ABL team ever to make the playoffs. Sacramento and Denver both came up one game short, Sioux Falls missed by two, and L.A. by four. Now, that division was not abysmal in itself – all teams combined were only four games under .500 – but it was just all one puddle of mediocrity.

The '21 Blue Sox also won the FL East with an 83-79 total, with four teams bunched up within four games of them, and only the Buffaloes junked at 62-100.

The worst playoffs team in ABL history were the 82-80 Knights in 2009, who couldn't quite upset the Crusaders on their way to a three-peat. The CL South that year ended up a combined 76 games under .500. And now look at the CL South this year. There is still a chance that the ABL will see its first playoff team with a losing record! Look at the Falcons. They are 65-77 and still have plausible playoff chances …!

And the Coons? The Coons were defeated at the start of September when they were 25 games over .500. Life ain't fair. And since Baseball is Life, Baseball ain't fair either.
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Old 12-28-2018, 10:09 AM   #2687
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Raccoons (81-63) @ Indians (69-73) – September 14-16, 2027

The reeling Raccoons still tried to win the season series from Indy for the fifth year in a row, but for that they had to stop sucking the cowskin off the baseballs and actually get anything done, anything at all. It was 8-7 in this series in Portland's favor in this season, so they needed to win two games in this final 3-game set, which started on Tuesday following an off day. Indy sat dead last in runs scored in the Continental League, while they had conceded the third-fewest counters overall.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (10-11, 3.80 ERA) vs. Chris Sinkhorn (16-8, 3.45 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (8-10, 3.64 ERA) vs. Myles Mood (6-12, 3.31 ERA)
Rin Nomura (16-7, 2.73 ERA) vs. Mo Robinson (6-5, 2.64 ERA)

Sinkhorn might be the only southpaw we see in this series, or he might not; the off day could also move lefty David Elliott (8-14, 4.87 ERA) into the series.

Not only the Coons had a pile of useful players on the DL; Indy was without Mark Matthews, Killian Savoie, Dave O'Rourke, and Matt Jamieson, among others.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Borg – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez
IND: SS Pizano – C Dear – 1B Tello – CF Suhay – RF Ryder – 2B E. Sosa – LF de Negri – 3B C. Castro – P Sinkhorn

The Coons would not stop cooning so soon, putting three on in the bottom 1st without scoring. Spencer singled, Hereford doubled, Harenberg walked, and then Chris Sinkhorn blasted away both Rafael Gomez and Elias Tovias to get out of the jam. By contrast, the Arrowheads shackled Gutierrez for a 3-spot in the bottom of the inning. Mario Pizano singled, scored on Ramon Tello's single to left, and they would come up with two more hits; Ben Suhay singled, where a dumb throw to third by Greg Borg eventually allowed both runners to reach scoring position, and both were doubled in by Elias Sosa's double into the leftfield corner. Top 2nd, Greg Borg opened with a walk, then came around as Matt Nunley hit a ball into the rightfield corner. Nunley made it all the way to third base, giving him a second triple in a season for only the fourth time in his career. From here, the Coons made up the difference; Gutierrez struck out, Stalker walked and stole second, and both runners scored on Jarod Spencer's single to shallow center to tie up the score.

Spencer hit another single with Nunley and Stalker on base in the fourth inning, however, that time the runners were set back 90 feet and nobody scored on a roller that Cesar Castro stretched for, but could only touch and deaden rather than play straight up. That gave Rich Hereford the bags full with a chance to break the tie, or hit into a double play. To anybody's surprise, he did the former, hitting a sac fly to Zachary Ryder to break that tie indeed, 4-3, but Harenberg then grounded out to Tello. A game in which neither pitcher looked great (teams combined for 13 base hits and Sinkhorn also walked three through his five innings), saw the Indians pinch-hit for their starter when the bottom 5th began. Mike Plunkett came out to bat and … got plunked. Mario Pizano then bunted into a force, and Matt Dear hit a textbook grounder for a 6-4-3 double play to clean up behind Rico, who managed to hold up through seven innings despite the inauspicious start to this game. The Indians would get Elias Sosa into scoring position with a leadoff single and a David de Negri bunt in the bottom 7th, but Rico rung up both Castro and PH Mike Cowan – right-handers to boot – to end the inning and maintain his claim on the W. No insurance run came to be; nobody reached against David Galmore in the eighth, and while Cory Dew in the ninth put on Hereford and Harenberg to begin the inning, Gomez, Mora, and St. Germaine would then collectively flunk out and not even move a runner to third base. It was thus on Josh Boles to make up for the colossal meltdown from Wednesday… and he began the bottom 9th with a leadoff walk to Ben Suhay. Then another one to Jose Ramirez, and all of this on eight pitches. Some choice insults from our pitching coach hollered over the dugout railing at least netted a K on Sosa, after which de Negri flew out to Hereford. That left the .234 batter Castro, who ran a full count before swinging over a low fastball. 4-3 Coons. Spencer 4-5, 2 RBI; Hereford 2-4, 2B, RBI; Nunley 2-4, 3B, RBI; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, W (11-11);

All good things must start to suck, but maybe Kevin Surginer would like closing…

The Coons lost Matt Nunley to a tweaked calf late in the game, with Bullock filling in the last two innings. Since Nunley was day-to-day for a at least a couple of games, the Raccoons sent for Butch Gerster from St. Petersburg. The right-handed batter had connected(?) for a .219 average with one homer and 34 RBI while playing a full season in St. Pete, but that would have to be enough for an injury replacement on a beaten team. Gerster, 26, had already appeared in 30 games for the Coons in 2026, then batting .196 with a lone RBI.

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF St. Germaine – 3B Bullock – P Delgadillo
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – C Dear – 1B Siebuhr – CF Zanches – 3B C. Castro – LF E. Alvarez – RF Suhay – P Mood

Was it a pitching duel, or was it a game of two offenses that pulled plastic bags over their heads before the ceremonial first pitch and betting each other who could last longer without pulling their bag off again? After Rafael Gomez' solo homer in the first inning, virtually nothing happened anymore in the game for hours, and for a pitching duel there were probably not enough strikeouts. Through seven, Delgadillo had as many, but Myles Mood had only two. Both teams were making weak contact batter after batter. The Coons scattered four base hits, their best chance dying when Gomez smacked into a double play in the third with Stalker and Spencer on the corners and one out. The Indians dunked in three hits, but you wouldn't remember them. The Coons did nothing in the top 8th; the Indians had Edwin Alvarez line out to Harenberg, and then disappeared silently from the inning. Delgadillo was on 96 pitches – would the Coons dare him to face the top of the order in the ninth? Maybe! But before that they had to bat themselves, and Kevin Harenberg led off the top 9th with a single to rightfield. Mora struck out. Tovias struck out. Cookie pinch-hit for the infuriatingly useless St. Germaine and flew out to Alvarez in left. And there came Delgadillo, the Coons gutsiness perhaps aided by the fact that the first three batters in the Indians' lineup were all swinging it right-handedly. Pizano grounded out to Bullock, after which Elias Sosa tripled to right-center. ****ing *** ****. Matt Dear tied the game with a grounder to short, and Jon Siebuhr flew out to Mora before a suffocating game went to extra innings. There, Cory Dew issued a leadoff walk to Daniel Bullock, which by definition made him the goat for every bad thing that would happen to the Indians from here on out. Rich Hereford happened to them; he batted for Delgadillo, bashed a 2-piece over the fence in right, and the Coons were leaders again. What was more, Juan Magallanes would draw a walk in Spencer's spot, stole second, and eventually scored on Abel Mora's single to left, giving Josh Boles a 3-run edge in the 10th that he didn't dare blowing. 4-1 Coons. Hereford (PH) 1-1, HR, 2 RBI; Delgadillo 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, W (9-10);

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Hereford – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – C Tovias – LF Carmona – 3B Gerster – P Nomura
IND: SS Pizano – 2B E. Sosa – 1B Tello – CF Suhay – RF Ryder – LF M. Cowan – C Kennett – 3B C. Castro – P Mo Robinson

Thursday was more like Tuesday, in that the Indians had a pair in scoring position before they made an out, and it was an amazing catch by Abel Mora in the gap on poor Ramon Tello that held the Indians to a sac fly rather than a 2-run extra-base effort there, and it was also the only run they got in the opening inning, with Ben Suhay whiffing and Ryder grounding out to short afterwards. Mora also robbed Pizano in the other gap to end the second with Cesar Castro in scoring position; this was *after* both Elias Tovias and Elliott Kennett had hit solo homers in the second inning. Yeah, see whether you can catch that one …! Ah, fun times. Except that the Coons were still a run behind, and soon enough two, following Elias Sosa's leadoff jack in the third. At this point, Nomura looked like little more than a launchpad. He also right afterwards walked Tello, leading to another stern telling by the pitching coach in a mound conference. Suhay then smashed it into a double play, and Nomura got out of the inning, but he would never look good in this outing; not now, and not later.

Rafael Gomez hit his 24th shot of the season in the fifth, in solo fashion, to move the Coons closer again, now down 3-2, but after that nobody reached base for the visiting team until it was Gomez' time again in the eighth… at that point, Gomez popped out. Harenberg singled, but was stranded on first base as the Coons continued to be nothing but garbage against Mo Robinson, who was replaced by right-hander Sergio Aredondo for the ninth inning. Cookie grounded out. Magallanes batted for Gerster and grounded out. Spencer batted for Jonathan Fleischer… and flew out to center. 3-2 Indians. Harenberg 3-4; Tovias 2-4, HR, RBI;

Like glue. As always, they were going like glue.

Raccoons (83-64) @ Thunder (68-78) – September 17-19, 2027

Ten games under, in fourth place, but still with a playoff chance, the Thunder looked forward to hosting the Critters over the weekend despite so far having dropped five of six games to Portland in '27. They were fifth in runs scored, ninth in runs allowed, ultimately with a -19 run differential, but that put them more on the elite end of the CL South. All they needed to be real at this point was a sweep.

Projected matchups:
George James (4-4, 3.81 ERA) vs. Max Nelson (1-5, 4.45 ERA)
Juan Barzaga (2-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. Tim Sloan (5-12, 5.65 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (11-11, 3.81 ERA) vs. Jose Diaz (8-9, 3.82 ERA)

"Butch" Diaz was the only southpaw we expected to face in the series, although I found it regrettable we could not flail against their other southpaw in the rotation, Peter "Graveyard" Gill (4-2, 3.22 ERA). That sounded like an ace's name! So far he was a 24-year-old sophomore that had pitched quite a bit in relief the previous season, and had only moved to the rotation recently. Their rotation was one of the worst in the league…

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – CF Mora – LF St. Germaine – 3B Gerster – C Liu – P James
OCT: SS L. Rivera – RF Sagredo – LF Quintana – CF D. Garcia – C Burgess – 2B Castellanos – 1B O. Millan – 3B Cameron – P M. Nelson

After Mora stumbled on base, the runts of the litter gave the Raccoons a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Butch Gerster hit a triple off the wall in right-center for the first run, then scored on Jing-quo Liu's single up the middle. While that was most of it for Portland in the early going, the Thunder were shut out into the fourth by George James, until Dave Garcia singled, advanced on a wild pitch, James walked Mike Burgess, then got a key strikeout against Jesus Castellanos, the second out in the inning, but on a 1-2 pitch still served up an RBI single to Omar Millan. That play also ended the game, with Gomez kicking it in to Stalker, who hammered out an over-eager Burgess at third base.

The Coons took aim at Nelson for the fifth inning though. James led off the inning with a double to left, then scored casually on Tim Stalker's ball over the fence in left-center. It was Stalker's ninth homer of the season, and it built a 4-1 lead, but the Thunder reclaimed those two runs in the bottom of the same inning. Joe Cameron hit a leadoff double, scored on a single by Lorenzo Rivera, who then stole second on a sleeping Liu, and scored on Alfredo Quintana's 2-out line drive single to right. That remained the score through seven as no further batters reached until then. At the conclusion of the seventh, with Rivera having flown out to Gomez to end the frame, James got a pat on the bum and was clearly done, but the Thunder sent Nelson back out for the eighth despite left-handed batters coming up in Harenberg et al. Harenberg flew out to Luis Sagredo, but Mora dipped a double up the leftfield line, after which St. Germaine was walked intentionally to set up a double play for Butch Gerster, except the Critters didn't play along and sent Rich Hereford instead. So it was Hereford to bounce a ball to Castellanos at second base. The Thunder failed to turn two, though, and left runners on the corners for Matt Nunley, batting for Liu against right-handed reliever Pedro Hernandez, and Nunley turned an 0-2 pitch into a soft liner to shallow left for an RBI single before Magallanes ran for him and Cookie Carmona batted for George James, but struck out, ending a complicated eighth inning that nevertheless saw only one run scoring. Brotman and McLin did away with the 2-3-4 batters much quicker in the bottom 8th. The ninth saw Pedro Hernandez continue; Tim Stalker walked and made it to third with two outs when Harenberg got nailed. The Thunder brought a new righty, Mike Espinoza, who would surrender line drive base hits to the next three batters and all of them into leftfield: Mora hit an RBI single, 6-3, St. Germaine loaded them up, and Hereford landed a 2-run double, 8-3! The inning ended when Daniel Rocha struck out. Steve Costilow ended up finishing the game for Portland. 8-3 Critters! Mora 4-5, 2B, RBI; Gerster 1-2, BB, 3B, RBI; Hereford 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI; Nunley (PH) 1-1, RBI; James 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (5-4) and 1-2, 2B;

Whee, something remotely resembling offensive prowess!

Game 2
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – CF Mora – C Tovias – 3B Bullock – P Barzaga
OCT: SS L. Rivera – RF Sagredo – LF Quintana – CF D. Garcia – C Burgess – 1B J. Elliott – 2B Castellanos – 3B Cameron – P T. Sloan

Portland scored first, Jarod Spencer singling, stealing second, and scurrying home on Rafael Gomez' single, but that was nothing that Juan Barzaga couldn't break with a really lame breaking ball that Luis Sagredo hit for about six miles to right, tying the score at one after the first inning. Who'd score next? The Coons, actually. Third inning, Barzaga led off with a clean single to left, then went to third on Tim Stalker's double near the rightfield line. Spencer broke the tie with a run-scoring groundout to short before Gomez floated a single to right that Sagredo overran for an error. It was not the Thunder's last error in the inning as Tim Sloan threw poorly to first on Harenberg's grounder, undressing John Elliott for the second error that put runners on the corners with one out for Hereford, who absolutely mauled a 93mph offering from Tim Sloan for a 3-run blast, 430 ft in almost straightaway centerfield, sending the score soaring to 6-1!

We hoped that Barzaga would nurse that 5-run lead for at least a little while, but things looked as bleak as they could when *Sloan* hit a leadoff double in the bottom 3rd. Rivera, Sagredo, and Quintana all made outs to strand him, but two of those outs were murdered balls mashed right at a defender. At least he outlasted Sloan, of whom he hit a leadoff single in the top 4th. Stalker also singled, and Harenberg chipped in a 2-out single to knock out the opposing pitcher and run the score to 7-1. 25-year-old righty John Zappa then retired Rich Hereford in his major league debut. For Portland meanwhile, mound conferences were the theme of the week. Barzaga got a pep talk with nobody out, but two on base in the bottom 4th. Dave Garcia and Mike Burgess had reached with singles. There was no shame in allowing Dave Garcia, a Hall of Famer trapped in the body of a guy just rolled over by the subway, on base, but he had to keep his **** together if he wanted a W or the ball at all down the road. Barzaga rung up the next two, then got Bullock to handle Cameron's bouncer to end the inning.

While Barzaga dragged himself forward through the innings, the Thunder had yet to find a pitcher capable of withstanding the Coons on this Saturday… or any help from their defense. Stalker drove in a run against Zappa in the fifth, plating Tovias with a 2-out single, and the Coons had Hereford on second (after forcing out Harenberg with a grounder, and taking second base on a hit-and-run where Abel Mora failed to hit) and two outs when Mora grounded to short. Rivera blatantly blew the play for the third Thunder error, and then Tovias hit a 440-footer off the poor Zappa to get Portland into a double-digit rout, 11-1. Well, at least for a while. Barzaga was done after six messy innings of 1-run ball, but the seventh was a nightmare as between Jason Butler and Jeff Kearney the Coons allowed four hits and a walk, as well as three runs. The Coons came back for a run in the eighth that was mainly two errors (Cameron, Castellanos) and little else, and Nick Derks and Jeremy Moesker finished a 2-slam dump in garbage innings. 12-4 Furballs!! Stalker 3-6, 2B RBI; Spencer 2-6, RBI; Gomez 3-5, 2 RBI; Harenberg 2-5, RBI; Hereford 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Tovias 3-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; Barzaga 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, W (3-1) and 2-2;

Game 3
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – LF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – RF Gomez – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez
OCT: SS L. Rivera – C Burgess – RF Sagredo – CF D. Garcia – 1B J. Elliott – LF Pagel – 3B Kyler – 2B Castellanos – P Jo. Diaz

Rico Gutierrez put two Thunder on base in each of the first three innings, and somehow always wiggled out of the jam. Once it was Nunley shagging a line drive, once it was Spencer turning two on a John Elliott grounder – the Thunder couldn't break through. Neither could the Coons, leaving the game scoreless after the early innings, but Harenberg's leadoff jack in the fourth did make the scoreboard light up after all. The Coons would jump the score to 3-0 the following inning on Tim Stalker's 2-run homer, cashing Nunley and also making Stalker the fifth Critter to hit double digits this year. While Rico held on to the 3-0 edge through six, that sixth inning was the only clean one for him in the game, and with his spot leading off the seventh, the Coons sent him for a shower after only 90 pitches. Nothing good happened in that inning, and no insurance came forward either in the eighth despite Gomez and Magallanes getting to the corners. At that point, "Butch" Diaz struck out Nunley to end the inning. The Raccoons got four outs from Dan McLin before Billy Brotman yielded a single to the only batter he faced, Luis Sagredo. Surginer replaced him to face Dave Garcia, whom he struck in the thigh. Garcia, more brittle than the legendarily brittle Jeremiah Carroll, collapsed into a pile in the box, and had to be walked off the field after a few minutes of on-site treatment. Omar Millan ran for him, while the tying run was at the plate with one out in John Elliott, who flew out to Magallanes. Sagredo went to third on the play, but was stranded nevertheless when Kyle Pagel flew out to center as well. Portland then couldn't make anything of a Stalker double in the ninth and had to turn to Josh Boles, who would face the bottom of the order. John Kyler struck out. Jesus Castellanos bounced out to Spencer. PH Brett Dobbs grounded out to Nunley. 3-0 Furballs. Stalker 3-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Gomez 2-4; Magallanes 2-3, BB; Gutierrez 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K, W (12-11) and 1-1;

In other news

September 13 – NAS SS/3B Mike Martin (.310, 2 HR, 52 RBI) has connected for 20 straight games following a 3-hit day in a 7-2 Blue Sox win over the Miners.
September 14 – The hitting streak of Nashville's Mike Martin (.308, 2 HR, 52 RBI) already ends, as the Miners hold him dry in their 4-3 loss to the Blue Sox.
September 15 – ATL SP Leon Hernandez (10-11, 4.09 ERA) and Alfredo Morua (3-5, 2.89 ERA, 3 SV) combine for a 3-0, 1-hit shutout of the Aces, for whom only 3B/1B Brett Blades (.238, 11 HR, 58 RBI) lands a single in the fifth inning.
September 18 – The frontier for most stolen bases in a season will probably no longer move west this year, as WAS 2B/3B Enrique Trevino (.307, 0 HR, 45 RBI) lands on the DL with a hip strain. The 20-year-old had blasted Nando Maiello's mark of 66 with a 73 SB campaign but figures to miss the remainder of the regular season.
September 19 – LAP SP Dave Christiansen (18-5, 2.18 ERA) 3-hits the Cyclones in a 3-0 shutout.

Complaints and stuff

Winning season, yaaay. (exhales heavily)

Tim Stalker reached 10 HR on Sunday, and as mentioned there that made him the fifth Critter to hit ten this year. Don't be fooled by Rich Hereford's tally – he hit 12 for the Gold Sox before the trade.

I hear Raccoons games are blacked out in mainland China because Jing-quo Liu wears "eye black" stickers that look like a Taiwanese flag. Yeah, sure, Maud, there is absolutely nothing else I would rather take care of than that…

Also, Jason Butler wonders why I call him Steve from time to time. Well, Ste-Jason. You look like a Steve. – Maud, what? – Steve from Accounting wants a word, too?

Can't this season just end?

Fun Fact: The Raccoons have not had a six-pack of players with 10 or more home runs since the 2008 season.

That year Luke "Duke Smack" Black hit 33 (and drove in 120), while Craig Bowen chipped in 20, Adrian Quebell mashed 19, Ron Alston rocked 14 (after being traded for only in July!), Ricardo Martinez whooped 13 (while driving Nick Brown up the wall every fifth day), and Tomas Castro still found time for 10 before his body disintegrated.

Other seasons with six 10+ HR Critters? 2003 saw Al Martin pop 30, supported by Chris Beairsto (snorts) and Eddie Torrez (weeps) hitting 17 each, Miguel Ramirez (who?) with 14, Pablo Ledesma (seriously, who?) with 12, and Clyde Brady hit 10. Neil Reece and Jesus Palacios both hit nine homers that year, too.

In 1996, Liam Wedemeyer led the team with 33, ahead of Royce Green (26), Neil Reece (15), Vern Kinnear, Ben O'Morrissey (14 each), and David Vinson (13).

Further back, in 1985 we had Mark Dawson (22), Ricardo Gonzalez (21), Sam Dadswell (18), Tetsu Osanai (16; after being traded for), Cam Green (14), and Daniel Hall (12). Armando Sanchez hit nine that year.

There has never been a Raccoons team with seven players hitting 10 dingers or more, and there won't be this year, either, unless Nunley finds a pair in his socks, and Hereford finds *four* more in those last couple of weeks.
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Raccoons (86-64) vs. Knights (65-84) – September 20-22, 2027

The Knights were probably not going to make the playoffs in the South, but who knew anything by now? The Coons were up 4-2 on the season against a team that struggled to score like almost no other. Spearheaded by the demise of Ruben Luna, the Knights had the worst batting average in the league and had scored the third-fewest runs. Their pitching was mediocre, giving up the fifth-most runs in the CL.

Projected matchups:
Dan Delgadillo (9-10, 3.51 ERA) vs. Jim Shannon (0-0)
Rin Nomura (16-8, 2.77 ERA) vs. Leon Hernandez (10-11, 4.09 ERA)
George James (5-4, 3.81 ERA) vs. Mario Rosas (14-12, 4.18 ERA)

Two righties, then a lefty, probably. Shannon, 27, was making his season debut after spending the first four months of the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, then had made five starts in AAA.

Game 1
ATL: CF N. Hall – SS R. Miller – RF M. Walker – LF Pincus – 1B Kym – C Wright – 2B T. Jimenez – 3B B. Marshall – P Shannon
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – CF Mora – C Rocha – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo

The first run in the game was the Coons' on a Tim Stalker homer in the fourth inning after they had not gotten anybody on base the first time through the order, and until that point Dan Delgadillo had managed to camouflage a complete lack of stuff. The Knights would find ways to single him to death in the fifth inning, though. The crucial at-bat was Shannon's with Matt Wright and Bobby Marshall on the corners and one out. Shannon had already singled his first time up, and would do so again here, right on the first pitch. The tying run scored, and it got much worse for Delgadillo, who got Nate Hall on a fly to center, but then surrendered a bases-loading single to Rich Miller, then a 2-run single to Mark Walker to fall behind 3-1. Roy Pincus grounded out to short. Delgadillo had no strikeouts through five, and didn't get a guy in the sixth, either. His spot was up to begin the bottom 6th and St. Germaine hit for him, but struck out. The hopeless Raccoons wouldn't amount to any sort of threat when down two runs, then were down three runs by the eighth inning, where Nate Hall singled off Jeff Kearney, stole second and reached third on Rocha's throwing error, then came home when Walker singled off Nick Derks, 4-1. By the bottom of the ninth, the Raccoons reached four hits when Jarod Spencer dumped in a 1-out double, but Gomez' tame fly out and Harenberg bouncing one back to closer Adrian McQuinn ended the game rather quickly without any sort of rally. 4-1 Knights.

Game 2
ATL: CF M. Walker – LF N. Hall – C Luna – 2B J. Johnson – 1B Kym – 3B T. Jimenez – RF G. Ramirez – SS R. Miller – P L. Hernandez
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P Nomura

Bottom 1st, Stalker walked, robbed second, went to third on Spencer's single, and then both runners scored on a succession of singles by Harenberg and Hereford dropped into the shallow outfield, giving Nomura a 2-0 edge early on. Nomura had already struggled in the first, hitting Ruben Luna and putting Josh Johnson on base, too, with a single up the middle, but then Nomura got rid of Chun-yeong Kym with a pop and the Knights didn't exactly run him over in the following innings. Mark Walker hit a bunt single in the third, Kym walked in the fourth, but no loud sound was heard off Knights bats until the fifth when Walker hit a 2-out double into left-center. Nate Hall struck out after that, ending the fifth, and what had the Raccoons done lately? Absolutely nothing! At least Nomura kept motoring – he would last eight innings of shutout, 4-hit ball, sprinkling one more single to Kym before he was done with 107 pitches. The Raccoons would send the top of the order to the plate in the bottom 8th and would at least get a chance for insurance when Tim Stalker led off the inning with a double up the leftfield line. Spencer popped out to left, Rafael Gomez walked on four pitches, Kevin Harenberg grounded out rather weakly, and then Rich Hereford flew out to Walker in deep left. Oh well, at least Josh Boles retired the Knights in order in the ninth… 2-0 Blighters. Spencer 2-4; Nomura 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, W (17-8);

Game 3
ATL: CF N. Hall – SS R. Miller – RF M. Walker – C Luna – LF Pincus – 1B Kym – 2B J. Johnson – 3B B. Marshall – P Rosas
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – C Tovias – CF Borg – 3B Gerster – P James

Portland loaded the bases in the second inning with a leadoff walk having been issued to Harenberg ahead of soft singles by Hereford and Tovias. Oh dear, three on, nobody out for Greg Borg. He used the 1-0 pitch from Rosas to ground softly to third base. Bobby Marshall, once with the Thunder, had to come in and then looked towards home plate first, but then decided to go to first, but seemed to lose grip of the ball as he threw it. It bounced in the dirt, off Kym's leg, and all paws were safe on the throwing error as Harenberg scored the game's first run. Butch Gerster opened a vein with a 2-run double to right-center, and Tim Stalker would single to chip in a fourth run before the inning was over. With a healthy lead on the board, attention then shifted to George James, who was perfect into the fifth inning with four strikeouts to his credit until Chun-yeong Kym hit a long solo homer with two outs in the inning to end any sort of bid and cut the Coons' lead to 4-1.

In a hurry, the tying run was at the plate in the fifth. Bobby Marshall turned on an 0-2 pitch to single, after which James fumbled a Rosas bunt for an error. Nate Hall grounded into a force at third base, Rich Miller flew out to Gomez, and Mark Walker grounded out to Gerster to end the inning. On to the seventh, the Knights had two on with nobody out yet again; Luna led off with a single, then Pincus coaxed a walk in a full count. Again, the Knights failed and made three straight outs on a grounder to Spencer for a fielder's choice by Kym, then Johnson popping out and Marshall flying out to Greg Borg. That was the last frame for George James, who was hit for by Magallanes in the bottom 7th as his spot was up first; Magallanes singled, moved up on a Stalker groundout, to third on Spencer's single, and eventually scored on Gomez' groundout for an insurance run, 5-1. This was also Gomez' 96th RBI of the year as he was crawling towards 100 at snail pace. Portland pulled out another run in the eighth on a Tovias single, a pinch-hit double by Matt Nunley, then a wild pitch issued by Jon Ozier. Steve Costilow finished the game for the Critters then. The league was big enough that he remained in the game to finish it even after Roy Pincus hit a 2-run homer off him… 6-3 Coons. Stalker 2-5, RBI; Spencer 2-4; Harenberg 1-2, 2 BB; Tovias 2-3, BB; Nunley (PH) 1-1, 2B; Magallanes (PH) 1-1; James 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (6-4);

Raccoons (88-65) vs. Titans (96-56) – September 24-26, 2027

No, there was no hope left. There was probably not even a chance for not wrapping up the division on our turf. The Raccoons would have to sweep the Titans to delay their celebration into the season's final week. Sad prospects. Boston was third in runs scored, first in runs allowed, and needed to sweep the Coons themselves to win the season series, which Portland led 8-7. If we could scratch out two wins, that would be our first season series win over Boston since the Tea Party there in 1773…

Projected matchups:
Jason Butler (0-2, 6.43 ERA) vs. Jeremy Waite (15-8, 3.39 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (12-11, 3.69 ERA) vs. Dustin Wingo (16-6, 2.00 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (9-11, 3.54 ERA) vs. Greg Gannon (16-6, 3.34 ERA)

Wingo would be their sole left-handed starter around.

Game 1
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – C Gi. James – RF Braun – 1B Leonard – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – SS Spataro – P Waite
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – 3B Nunley – P Butler

Jason Butler got another chance and blew it into the night sky right in the first inning. Willie Vega walked, stole second, scored on a Giovanni James single, and then Adam Braun hit a rocket to the moon and back to put Boston up 3-0. Adrian Reichardt was thrown out at home plate in the second inning after Butler nailed him to get him on board. Vega then singled, as did James, but Rafael Gomez ended the inning with a laser throw to home plate. Reichardt also made the final out on the bases in the fourth inning when Vega was at the plate and runners on the corners, and Reichardt was caught stealing by Elias Tovias. Butler, getting nothing but pummeled, ended up lasting 4.2 innings of 4-run ball. Giovanni James hit him for a solo shot in the fifth, after which he walked Keith Leonard with two outs. Jonathan Fleischer would retire Rhett West to end the inning, keeping the score at 4-0, with the Raccoons so far having been held to a Stalker single. What a surprise this was…

For an actual surprise, the Coons made two runs out of a Nunley walk and another Stalker single in the bottom of the sixth. Granted, it was not all them – Jeremy Waite threw two wild pitches to advance Nunley a crucial base, then plate Stalker to cut his own lead to 4-2. But you were not likely to beat these Titans on a pair of singles from your shortstop… Adam Corder homered off Costilow in the eighth to add a run, 5-2, and the Raccoons were still looking for a base hit from somebody, anybody other than Tim Stalker. They had to wait until the bottom of the ninth inning – Rafael Gomez laced a double up the rightfield line leading it off against lefty Ben Marx, he of Capitals playoffs infamy. Harenberg struck out, but Rich Hereford singled in Gomez when he rammed a ball past Keith Spataro to get the Coons' tying run to the plate in Elias Tovias, who could go deep off anybody. Here, Marx fell to 2-0 before surrendering a liner to right that fell for a double before Braun could contain it. Now the tying runs were in scoring position and Juan Magallanes was the man at the plate. Aaaand he popped out. Abel Mora batted for Nunley with two outs, grounded up the middle, Spataro lunged and missed it and the Coons ACTUALLY tied the game after being down three all game long! Easily forgotten Steve Hollingsworth batted against new pitcher Matt Rosenthal, struck out, and the game went to extras. Once there, Dan McLin walked both Corder and Fernando Rodriguez in the top of the 10th, but Reichardt spanked into an inning-ending double play to continue a rather bleak day by not only his standards. Bottom 10th, Rosenthal remained in the game and had Stalker at 1-2 before serving a hanger that Tim buried in the gap for a leadoff triple! Ooooh, exciting! How were they going to strand him…? Jarod Spencer ACTUALLY failed, grounding out so poorly as to keep him pinned, and Rafael Gomez was walked intentionally to set up a double play, but Harenberg spanked a grounder through Matt Good at first base to walk off Portland anyway. 6-5 Coons! Stalker 2-4, BB, 3B, RBI; Hereford 2-3, BB, RBI; Nunley 0-1, 2 BB; Mora (PH) 1-1, 2 RBI;

The Raccoons got reinforcements prior to the Saturday game – Alberto Ramos came off the DL (once more) and was looking forward to causing some more trouble in the final eight games of the year.

Game 2
BOS: CF W. Vega – 1B Gasso – RF Braun – 3B Corder – 2B R. West – SS Spataro – LF Reichardt – C A. Arias – P Wingo
POR: 2B Stalker – SS Ramos – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – CF Mora – C Rocha – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez

The Titans kept making outs on the bases, having Gus Gasso thrown out at home plate in the opening inning. That was the second out of the inning, occurring after Gasso doubled into the leftfield corner and then Adam Braun dropped a single in front of Hereford. They thus left it to the Coons to score first; Stalker and Ramos dropped singles to go to the corners in the bottom 1st, and Harenberg got at least Stalker in with a groundout. Ramos was stranded, but there was some 2-out stirring in the bottom 2nd. Nunley hit a single up the middle, which made the poorly hitting Rico Gutierrez a good pick for the third out, but he rolled a ball past Gasso for another single. Tim Stalker rocked a ball to left in a full count, which allowed Nunley to start early and score from second base on the single, 2-0. Ramos then grounded out to Spataro at short.

On the plus side, Rico took the 2-0 lead and ran with it. On the flip side, he was messy and needed 98 pitches through five innings. He started the sixth, struck out Adam Braun, but then allowed a single to Corder and was gone from the game. Kevin Surginer came in with the tying run at the plate, struck out Rhett West, but then conceded the run to Spataro on a double into the rightfield corner. Reichardt flew out to left to end the inning, now with a 2-1 score, but Surginer got obliterated in the seventh. The Titans started the rally with their pitcher (…), Wingo doubling to right, before Willie Vega tied the score with a single. With two outs, Adam Braun rocked a massive homer to centerfield to put the Titans up 4-2. Jonathan Fleischer came on, shuffled the bases full with awful pitching, allowing a hit and two walks, then somehow ended the inning by ringing up Reichardt. What did the Coons do? Not much. Their bullpen tried to blow up even more, but the Titans stranded a pair against Kearney in the eighth, then had another pair aboard in the ninth against Costilow, who ran a 3-0 count to Rhett West with one out in the inning when West poked and bounced to Ramos for an inning-ending double play. It was Marx against Mora to begin the bottom 9th, resulting in a strikeout. There would be a pinch-hit single by Magallanes with two outs, but that was all in terms of another rally. 4-2 Titans. Stalker 2-4, RBI; Magallanes (PH) 1-1;

This of course meant elimination for the Raccoons, but not clinching for the Titans. The damn Elks were still alive, but the magic number on them was now a mere 1. The Titans could clinch the division on our field even if they lost on Sunday.

The Titans made a realignment in their rotation, sending Morgan Shepherd (17-6, 3.07 ERA) into the rubber game as they made a bid to tie the season series.

Sunday would also see Cookie Carmona (in a 2-for-27 coma) in the lineup. I wonder whether that had anything to do with his expiring contract and this being our final home game of the year.

Game 3
BOS: CF Reichardt – LF W. Vega – C Gi. James – RF Braun – 2B R. West – 3B Corder – 1B Good – SS Spataro – P Shepherd
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Mora – LF Carmona – 3B Nunley – P Delgadillo

Delgadillo was complete mess and got whacked around for three runs in the opening inning. Finally Reichardt was a factor in something other than a choke for Boston as he led off the game with a single. He scored on Braun's 1-out single, following a clueless walk to Giovanni James, and Adam Corder would hit a liner for a 2-run, 2-out single before the inning was over. The Coons' top of the order was offering themselves up in the bottom of the inning, as Ramos drew a leadoff walk, and then Stalker doubled to left. At this point, Rafael Gomez made it a hundred with a homer to right-center, knotting the score at three. Staggeringly, Morgan Shepherd then walked the bags full against the 4-5-6 batters without retiring anybody. This brought up Cookie with many a watery eye in the park because everybody knew that he was not likely to come back. He bounced a ball to Rhett West, who got the force on Mora, but nothing more while the go-ahead run scored in Harenberg. The Coons got no more, Nunley and Delgadillo flying out easily. Something was iffy with Shepherd, who walked another two Critters in the bottom 2nd, but Tovias hacked himself out to strand them. Meanwhile, Delgadillo remained a hot mess, with the Titans tying the score at four in the top 3rd, even though the run was unearned. Harenberg had dropped a feed to put Giovanni James on base to begin the inning, after which a Braun double set up runners on second and third and nobody out. Somehow, the Titans only got one as West struck out, Corder hit a sac fly to Mora, and Good flew out to Cookie.

Neither pitcher lived long, obviously, in this whacko game. Tim Stalker broke the tie with a homer in the bottom 4th off Lorenzo Viamontes after Shepherd had been lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the inning. Too bad that Ramos had been caught stealing beforehand, and also too bad that Delgadillo surrendered a 2-piece to James before he got yanked himself in the top 5th, with Portland now down 6-5. The crowd roared in the bottom 6th when Cookie led off with a single against Boston's Mike Stank, and a Nunley single put them on the corners. Spencer batted for Dan McLin, grounded out poorly, and so did Ramos. Cookie was STILL at third base, with Nunley 90 feet behind, when Stalker grounded to right. Rhett West contained it, but could not play it decisively, leaving Stalker with a run-scoring infield single to tie the score. Gomez stranded a pair with a fly to center.

Then came Billy Brotman and ****ed things up yet again. He walked Willie Vega on four pitches to begin the seventh inning, then allowed a single to James. Mind, those were left-handers… the Titans would score both on two groundouts and a Corder single, moving up 8-6 now. Bottom 7th, Stank continued to give hits to left-handed batters. Mora and Cookie (roar!) both singled with two outs, upon which Rich Hereford batted for Matt Nunley, but struck out. That was their last gasp. The Titans piled it on against Barzaga in the ninth, plating two more runs on three hits and another dumb walk, and after Javy Salomon allowed a leadoff single to Gomez in the bottom 9th, and Harenberg stupidly grounded into another double play, Magallanes hit for Tovias and drew a 2-out walk. Mora grounded out, and then the Coons crowd got to watch the Titans form a pile on their own damn mound. 10-6 Titans. Stalker 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Gomez 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; Carmona 2-4, RBI;

In other news

September 20 – The Capitals lose southpaw SP Eric Williams (14-7, 2.88 ERA) for the season. The 30-year-old has suffered a broken leg.
September 20 – VAN OF Brian Wojnarowski (.327, 20 HR, 79 RBI) is out for the season with a strained hamstring.
September 22 – In the Warriors' 17-5 win over the Buffaloes, Warriors utility player Hiroaki Ryu (.277, 6 HR, 35 RBI) goes out for four base hits and as many RBI.
September 23 – Also out for the year is OCT RF/LF Luis Sagredo (.260, 14 HR, 63 RBI), who has broken a foot.
September 24 – Topeka's SP Joe Jones (13-11, 3.14 ERA) is a write-off for the year, suffering from radial nerve compression.
September 25 – The Los Angeles Pacifics will return to the postseason after a 1-0 clincher over the Warriors, with LAP SP Bryan Hanson (10-8, 4.15 ERA) pitching eight scoreless for the win while the lone run is plated by bit player OF/2B Dan Tugwell (.288, 2 HR, 8 RBI).
September 26 – TOP 1B/2B Chris Owen (.272, 11 HR, 56 RBI) hits a home run off PIT SP Josh Walsh (15-13, 3.66 ERA) for the only score in the Buffaloes' 1-0 win.

Complaints and stuff

If you wonder how I made it to Sunday night alive while the Titans soiled the visitors' clubhouse with champagne – we gave them a cheap brand – well, blame Maud. She hid the bleach, she hid the booze, she even hid the stapler. But rest assured knowing that I have internal bleeding right now.

Wasn't it a perfect final week, though? They could hardly touch the Knights to begin things, but somehow scratched out two wins in that series. Then the Titans came in and just about everything became unglued, including the wallpapers. A 3-day choke job to waste away a perfectly good chance to finally take a season series from the Titans. Nope, not in this decade, and not in this lifetime! The Titans clinched the division on Sunday, because the baseball gods knew it would hurt me more than if they clinched it on Monday. And the damn Elks even would have won their game over Indy … but the Raccoons couldn't even hold them off when Morgan Shepherd gave up free runs in the first inning.

Those dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, terrible, and dumb Raccoons…

And remember the horrendously-under-.500 Knights? They were eliminated on Saturday, just like the Raccoons. The Continental League of 2027 is a joke…

Will Cookie Carmona and Matt Nunley be back? That is the main topic in Portland baseball circles these days. Well, will they? Where to they figure in another necessary wholesale teardown of the team's offensive personnel?

The Raccoons are finalists for BNN's Most Beloved Team award this year. Vote for them by … doing something on your phone thing.

Just kidding. Nothing matters. Life is a joke.

(draws the blinds)

Fun Fact: 11 years ago today, Dallas' Hugo Mendoza hit three home runs in a 6-1 win over the Pacifics.

That was the year before the midseason trade that sent him to Portland, and boy, did that ever work out… He is in the Cyclones system right now, and I say system for a reason. He batted 1-for-23 last season before being relegated to oblivion in the minors, and this year spent all season in the minors.
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:57 AM   #2689
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Raccoons (89-67) @ Loggers (64-91) – September 27-29, 2027

Last shakes for the season, starting with a 3-game set in Milwaukee. The Raccoons needed one win to take the season series from the Loggers, but you never wanted just one win from the Loggers, really. They were fourth from the bottom in runs scored, second from the bottom in runs allowed, and lacked any significant strengths.

Projected matchups:
Rin Nomura (17-8, 2.66 ERA) vs. Francisco Colmenarez (3-4, 3.86 ERA)
George James (6-4, 3.63 ERA) vs. Philip Rogers (10-12, 4.36 ERA)
Jason Butler (0-2, 6.66 ERA) vs. Jorge Villalobos (8-17, 4.22 ERA)

The series would start with a southpaw from the Loggers, then two right-handers. Danny Soto (10-14, 5.10 ERA) could also slide into the series; him and Villalobos pitched the ends of a double-header on Thursday.

Game 1
POR: SS Stalker – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – LF Hereford – C Tovias – CF Magallanes – 3B Gerster – P Nomura
MIL: LF Cambra – SS Ferrer – C J. Young – RF W. Trevino – CF Coleman – 1B S. Garcia – 3B Parten – 2B S. Green – P Colmenarez

The Raccoons put a quick hurt on Colmenarez, ripping him for three runs in the opening inning when all four of their first four batters knocked out base hits. Stalker and Spencer hit sharp singles, Rafael Gomez buried a ball in the right-center gap for a 2-run triple, and then scored on Harenberg's single. Kevin would bring in another run with a productive groundout that plated Spencer in the third inning, and that 4-0 score was it for a good while then. The Loggers had their leadoff men on base in the first and second innings, once when Firmino Cambra led off with a single, but that ended up in Jim Young spanking into a double play, and then Nomura offered a walk to Willie Trevino in the second, but that inning would end on an unlucky scorched liner right at Gomez in rightfield. Through six, the Loggers had not done much more in terms of threatening, but Nomura also started the bottom 7th on 91 pitches, so a shutout was quite unlikely, and he didn't finish the inning either with three outs, or with a clean slate. Much the contrary – after a leadoff infield single by Ian Coleman, Nomura walked Steve Garcia. Jason Parten grounded into a double play, but Sam Green dropped an RBI single into shallow center, and Nomura lost PH Alexis Rueda, which brought up the tying run against last year's FL batting champ (who was loggering around at the .263 mark now), Cambra. In a rare move, the Coons went lefty-for-lefty, bringing Kearney in relief of Nomura, and the specialist secured a strikeout to end the inning. Portland pulled the run back in the eighth against left-hander Alex Gutierrez, who surrendered a leadoff double to Elias Tovias. The Critters moved the runner around with a groundout by Magallanes, then Butch Gerster's sac fly to center. That was the last run in the game; the Critters got sound relief from Dan McLin and Jeremy Moesker to finish the Loggers and claim the season series for good. 5-1 Raccoons. Spencer 2-5; Gomez 2-5, 3B, 2 RBI; Harenberg 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Gerster 1-2, BB, RBI; Nomura 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, W (18-8);

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Spencer – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF St. Germaine – P James
MIL: 2B Holder – SS Ferrer – C J. Young – LF Cambra – CF Coleman – 1B E. Arroyo – RF Rueda – 3B Dresch – P Rogers

With the exception of Manny Ferrer and Philip Rogers, the entire Loggers lineup was batting left-handed, so this was a meaty challenge for George James in what could or could not be his final start of the season (the season finale was pretty much between him and Nomura). The Raccoons scored first in this Tuesday affair with a groundout by Abel Mora to short allowing Elias Tovias to weasel home after having just hit a 1-out triple(!), but they would leave the bases loaded in the fourth inning when Adam St. Germaine grounded out weakly, stranding Tovias (walk), Mora (single), and Nunley (walk). All the while, George James had scattered plenty of runners, and while the Loggers hit into double plays twice, they also brought in Cambra when he drew a leadoff walk in the bottom 4th. The Coons' top of the order went on to waste a leadoff triple(!!) by their dear pitcher in the fifth inning when Ramos struck out, Spencer grounded out to Rogers, and Gomez flew out to Coleman. James, gritty if nothing else, responded by giving up a leadoff double to Corey Dresch in the bottom of the inning, but then pounced on a mediocre bunt by Rogers and fired to third base where Nunley tagged out the arriving runner. It was still all for nought; Kaleb Holder grounded into a fielder's choice to remove the pitcher from the base paths, then swiped second and went on to score when Ferrer's grounder up the middle eluded the Raccoons infielders.

Top 6th. Harenberg reached on a Holder error, but was then doubled up on Tovias' ghastly grounder. Abel Mora doubled to left, and then Nunley beat the range of Rueda in rightfield for a score-knotting RBI double. The Loggers bypassed St. Germaine here to get to James, and the Raccoons sent Rich Hereford to bat instead. And he struck out… Alberto Ramos hit a single and stole a base in the seventh, setting a new career-high with 42 bags on the season, but that didn't lead to a run, either, while the Loggers pulled out a new lead with the first career homer of Ruben Roque off Jonathan Fleischer in the bottom 7th. It would be the top of the order in the ninth for the Raccoons, trying to erase that 1-run deficit against ex-Coon Joe Moore. Ramos popped out, but Spencer reached on a grounder deep behind short that became an infield single. Rafael Gomez singled up the middle, and then they choked it away with Harenberg's foul pop and Tovias going down on strikes. 3-2 Loggers. Mora 2-4, 2B, RBI;

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Hereford – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – LF Carmona – P Butler
MIL: 2B Holder – SS Ferrer – C J. Young – LF Cambra – CF Coleman – RF Stone – 1B W. Aquino – 3B A. Velez – P Villalobos

Villalobos was perfect the first time through the Coons' order, which was not something that could exactly be said of Jason Butler. The Loggers had pairs on base in the first and third innings, but both times choked up, in the latter case having Manny Ferrer crack into a hard 4-6-3 double play. Ramos hit a leadoff single in the fourth, was caught stealing, and the Loggers were also back to work in the bottom 4th. Cambra and Coleman both hit singles, Jason Stone walked, and the bags were full for Wilson Aquino, who ran a full count and … struck out. That was only the second out of the inning, though. Alberto Velez was still to contend with. The clueless Butler botched it with a walk on five pitches, forcing in a run, before Villalobos struck out. Ferrer's homer in the bottom 5th stretched the Loggers lead to 2-0, and Butler was yanked after a 2-out walk to Cambra, having issued 111 mostly pathetic pitches. Jeff Kearney retired Coleman on a grounder to end the inning. But the Raccoons absolutely failed to do anything against a guy that had already lost 17 games and was not willing to lose another one and held them to two abysmal hits in eight innings of shutout ball. Meanwhile, Raccoons pitching collapsed in the bottom 8th, where Juan Barzaga put runners on the corners, threw a wild pitch to plate the Loggers' third run, then walked three more guys with two outs, conceding another run. Josh Boles – with no save likely to materialize – then came out, gave up an RBI single to Cambra, and only then rung up Coleman to end the mess. Somehow, the Loggers then almost fumbled the 5-0 lead, allowing base hits to Cookie and Ramos in the ninth inning. Rich Hereford drew a 2-out walk from Yoo-chul Kim, loading them up for Harenberg, which brought in Joe Moore again. He ended the game with a strikeout. 5-0 Loggers. Kearney 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

Ugh.

As the final weekend dawned, there was still no above-.500 team in the CL South. The Aces led the division with a 79-80 record, so whoever made it out of there in first place would already tie for the worst division winner ever. They were up against the Thunder, who were "only" three games back, but already mathematically eliminated because the Bayhawks and Condors were both one game out of first place and played each other. A 3-way tie was also no longer possible.

Raccoons (90-69) @ Canadiens (93-66) – October 1-3, 2027

After choking time and again throughout the last eight weeks, the best the Raccoons could still get from the damn Elks was a tie in the standings, and for that they had to sweep the series in Vancouver, which was not bloody likely. The damn Elks had already claimed the season series, 10-5, and were looking to tear up some more Coon bums with their top-spot offense that had already piled up 801 runs scored.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (12-11, 3.64 ERA) vs. Andy Purdy (7-2, 2.87 ERA)
Dan Delgadillo (9-11, 3.68 ERA) vs. Victor Govea (11-1, 2.13 ERA)
Rin Nomura (18-8, 2.62 ERA) vs. Rodolfo Cervantes (12-7, 3.79 ERA)

We hadn't faced Govea, one of three righties to come up in the series, before, at least not in a starting role. He had 37 appearances on the year, including 13 starts. He was 24, and our scouting report was not indicative of a guy who would schmooze up to a flat-2 ERA over 109 innings of work.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – LF Spencer – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – P Gutierrez
VAN: SS Byrd – 3B Anton – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 1B Myles – CF T. Campbell – 2B Crosby – P Purdy

Teams started out taking turns to score runs; Alex Torres hit a 2-out RBI single to score Tony Coca in the first, but Matt Nunley made up the difference with a 2-out RBI single of his own in the second inning. Matt Anton went yard off Rico Gutierrez to put the damn Elks 2-1 on top in the third, but Harenberg opened the fourth with a double to left-center, Tovias singled, and Spencer's grounder tied the game anew. Purdy then moved the go-ahead run to third base with a wild pitch before walking Mora, giving Nunley runners on the corners, which ended up in a double play to end the inning, because how could it ever not do so? Mind that Matt was playing for another contract here…

The next two innings were scoreless, and then it was Nunley's turn again in the seventh with nobody out and Abel Mora on second base after walking and stealing. No obvious double play on offer, Nunley found the gap between Torres and Tim Campbell for an RBI double, putting Portland ahead for the first time in the game, 3-2. Purdy got one more out, whiffing Rico, before the Elks wanted Ramos walked intentionally to bring up Stalker, who didn't have a great week so far, but sure improved his own lot with a booming 3-run homer to left that opened the score all the way to 6-2! Purdy was yanked for right-hander Joey Hopkins, who got the Elks out of the inning before any more damage could occur. Bottom 7th, a Harenberg error put John Byrd on base with one out, but Anton hit a hard one at Nunley for a double play. That was the last act in Rico's season as Daniel Rocha batted for him in the eighth and struck out against Hwa-pyung Choe, a few years earlier New York's toast of the town, but now saddled with a 9+ ERA.

Jonathan Fleischer then invited the Elks back into the game in the eighth. Coca singled, Torres walked, and even a double play that Ricky Ortνz hit into couldn't help the right-hander. He threw a wild pitch to plate Coca, 6-3, then walked Adan Myles to get yanked. Surginer replaced him and struck out Campbell to end the inning. The Critters did nothing in the ninth, bringing Boles in for a save chance in the bottom of the inning. He struck out Crosby and Manny Sanchez before Byrd found the gap for a double. Matt Anton flew out easily to Spencer, though. 6-3 Coons. Ramos 2-4, BB; Harenberg 2-3, BB, 2B; Tovias 2-4, 2B; Mora 1-2, 2 BB; Nunley 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Gutierrez 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, W (13-11);

An Aces loss to the Thunder meant that the league would have a new worst-ever division winner. Friday night, no team remained with a chance to go 82-80, with the Aces and Condors tying for the lead at 79-81, and the Bayhawks one game behind at 78-82. This was the last division race; the Capitals locked up the FL East on Friday with a 4-2 win over the Blue Sox.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Stalker – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – 3B Hereford – LF Spencer – CF Magallanes – C Rocha – P Delgadillo
VAN: CF Day – SS Crosby – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 3B Anton – 1B Myles – 2B Byrd – P Govea

Daniel Rocha plated Rich Hereford with a sac fly in the second inning for the first tally in the contest, but a clumsy Delgadillo was all over the place and issued free base runners like there was a price for who could collect the most. In the first three innings, he hit a batter, issued three walks, a leadoff single to Govea, and got bombed with a Tony Coca 3-spot that flipped the score in the bottom 3rd. And it wasn't the only one that Tony Coca would hit… Bottom 5th, still a 3-1 game, Delgadillo allowed a leadoff single to Norman Day, then an infield single to Adrian Crosby. And here came Coca, saw, and conquered, with another 3-piece, this one hit the other way for a change. After four-plus innings and six runs, Delgadillo was yanked, and the bullpen took over the 6-1 trash can of a game. Before long, Tony Coca was at the plate again with two outs and two aboard in the bottom 6th. John Byrd had reached against Juan Barzaga, while Jeremy Moesker had put Adrian Crosby on. Dan McLin was brought in from the pen. NOT. ANOTHER. ONE. Just – NO. You hear me?? NOT ANOTHER ONE. Coca struck out.

For seven innings, the Raccoons did absolutely nothing to hurt Govea's stellar ERA and the swingman came out for another inning in the eighth. Cookie Carmona led off batting for McLin in the #9 hole and singled to left. Ramos also singled to left. Stalker singled to right, loading the bases with nobody out in a 6-1 deficit. There were all kinds of ways they could now blow this chance out of a hole. While Rafael Gomez' sac fly to right in theory put a run on the board, 6-2, it also took off steam. It also got rid of the pitcher, whom the damn Elks replaced with righty J.R. Hreha, who faced only Harenberg and allowed an RBI single up the middle. Rich Hereford was the tying run and would face Hopkins, popped out, and Spencer flew out to Day to squander it all. Top 9th, lefty attack against right-hander Sean Carlsen; Abel Mora batted for Magallanes and singled, and then St. Germaine was sent to bat for Rocha, but struck out. Cookie had remained in the game earlier and popped out to short. And Ramos grounded out to the pitcher… 6-3 Canadiens. Gomez 2-3, RBI; Harenberg 2-4, RBI; Mora (PH) 1-1; Carmona (PH) 1-2; McLin 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

In the sad spectacle that was the CL South, everything returned to the state of Friday morning by Saturday night. The Aces beat the Thunder, the Bayhawks beat the Condors, and now Vegas could avoid a tie-breaker if they beat the Thunder again. The winner between the Bayhawks and Condors on Sunday could get a tie-breaker if Oklahoma won their season finale.

Game 3
POR: LF Carmona – SS Ramos – RF Gomez – 1B Harenberg – C Tovias – 2B Stalker – CF Mora – 3B Nunley – P Nomura
VAN: CF Day – 3B Anton – RF Coca – LF A. Torres – C R. Ortνz – 1B Myles – SS Byrd – 2B Gura – P A. Muniz

Rin Nomura got the start after James had been meh on Tuesday, and he also had the chance to grab a share of the wins title in the CL if he could beat the Elks here on Sunday. For the Raccoons, Cookie Carmona batted leadoff in this game even after the Elks moved to left-hander Antonio "Furball"(??) Muniz (8-6, 4.01 ERA) for the season finale. If that didn't look like a farewell, nothing would ever do…

A win looked unlikely after the first inning, in which Ricky Ortνz hit a 3-piece right after Nomura had nailed Alex Torres with a fastball. Matt Anton was also on base and scored, having drawn a 1-out walk. But then Tovias opened the second inning with a jack, cutting the deficit to 3-1, and Stalker, Mora, and Nunley all tumbled on base, too, presenting three on, nobody out, and… ugh, the pitcher batting. Sometimes, though, the pitcher batting wasn't all that bad. Muniz came over the plate, Nomura lobbed a ball over the infielders, and it was 3-2 after the RBI single. Cookie was up next and was relentlessly booed despite not having done anything major in the series, or really all year long. That didn't change as he popped out foul. Ramos, though, dropped a blooper into shallow left to tie the score, and Rafael Gomez' hard RBI single to center put Portland on top, 4-3. That brought up Harenberg, and he made himself the last pitcher Muniz saw this season when he belted a ball over the wall in rightfield. GRAAAAAAAAAAAND SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!!

Roiled by an 8-spot, the Elks got the jitters, too. Tovias and Stalker reached on consecutive errors by Ted Gura and Alex Torres with new pitcher Mike Daniels on the mound, and then it got worse. Mora singled to load them up, and Nunley drove in a pair with a single to right-center. An 11th run scored on Nomura's groundout, and Cookie grounded out to Gura to end the massive frame. After that, the Coons fell apart a bit – Alberto Ramos left the game in the third inning with a tweaked quad. Ah, at least not his damn spine again… Daniel Bullock replaced him. Also, Rin Nomura had always been **** with big leads… in the bottom of the third inning he allowed straight singles to the first three batters, then walked Ortνz to push a run across. The damn Elks would get another run on John Byrd's sac fly, but Nomura regained control with a K to Myles and Gura popping out, as much as one could be considered "in control" with five runs allowed in three innings. It hardly got better for him. Stupid Alex Torres hit a solo homer in the fifth, and he also bled singles to Myles and Byrd to yield another run. He barely crawled through five with an 11-7 lead…

So that made the game the pen's problem. The damn Elks shortened the score to 11-8 in the sixth with Norman Day's long homer off Steve Costilow, while the Coons offense couldn't topple even Hwa-pyung Choe anymore. They appeared like they had shot ALL their bullets and now had nothing left to offer but to throw a few rocks at the Elks. But the Coons wanted this game, and they still had the tough part of the pen to defend the 3-run lead for three more innings. Kevin Surginer needed ten pitches to dispose of the 4-5-6 batters in the seventh, then also retired Byrd and Gura to begin the eighth. Jeff Kearney then rung up PH Chris Mendoza to move the game to the ninth. The Critters stranded a pair in the ninth inning against Hreha, so Josh Boles could save one more for a final tally of 18 here. He would face the top of the order. Day flew out to Rich Hereford in leftfield. Anton was punched out. Coca flew out to Mora in center. 11-8 Critters. Ramos 2-3, RBI; Tovias 2-5, HR, RBI; Nunley 4-5, 2 RBI; Spencer (PH) 1-1; Surginer 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K;

In other news

September 28 – In a tight pennant race in the CL South, career quad-A player C Vince Murry (.390, 2 HR, 13 RBI) nets the Aces a crucial come-from-behind, 10-7 win over the Condors with a walkoff grand slam off TIJ CL Pat Selby (7-7, 3.29 ERA, 34 SV).
September 28 – The season of IND INF Mario Pizano (.260, 10 HR, 54 RBI) ends with a broken hand.

Complaints and stuff

With slight regret I noticed that at last sanity prevailed in the CL South. The Aces won their finale against the Thunder and thus gasped themselves to an 81-81 finish. Good enough for the playoffs in the South. They would have been fifth, 22 games out, with that performance in our division…

In the minors, the AAA Alley Cats and AA Panthers finished soundly below .500, but the Aumsville Beagles won their division with a dubious 75-65 record this season, only to get rounded up in four by the Norfolk Expos, the Bayhawks' single-A team. That Norfolk team won 101, so there was probably better talent on them…

Why did Jason Butler take another shot at being murdered by a line drive? Because there was absolutely nobody in the minors that deserved even a look. I talked about Jamie O'Leary a bit a few months ago, who would have made the move from Ham Lake, but … eh… no, there was no point in getting him up right now. He ended the season 7-10 with a 4.45 ERA in 23 starts after making five starts in Aumsville to begin the year, where he went 1-2 with a 1.85 ERA. Boy's got some stuff, but not enough to fool major league hitters right now. He will be 24 and in AAA to begin the next season.

Fun Fact: The Portland Raccoons ended the season with a new franchise record for stolen bases for the third straight season, improving from 113 SB in 2025 to 115 in 2026, and finally 118 in 2027.

The previous season high before the last three years? 2014, when they stole 99. More than half of that (52) was Cookie Carmona, and Sandy Sambrano chipped in another 31. Nobody else had more than four, and four were only achieved by Jason Bergquist. Walt Canning had three. Finishing fifth on the team with two each were Joe Cowan, Jason Seeley, and Matt Nunley.

Matt Nunley, the stolen base threat? That never happened.

Matt Nunley will be 37 come Opening Day. He had the worst offensive season of his career. His defense was about the same (roughly +7 ZR, give or take a few tenths) as the last five years with the exception of '25, when he somehow lost value on defense for the only time in his career.

Will even one between him and Cookie Carmona be brought back for '28?
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Old 01-04-2019, 08:48 AM   #2690
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2027 ABL PLAYOFFS

While the defending champions, the Portland Raccoons, had finished in third place in the CL North in 2027 and had thus not qualified for the playoffs, the Federal League's pennant winners from last year, the L.A. Pacifics were back in the show after winning their division with a record of 96-66, four games ahead of the Warriors. It had mostly been their pitching that had gotten them to the top again. Led by Dave Christiansen (18-6, 2.17 ERA), the staff had conceded the tied-fewest runs in the Federal League at 637, while the offense had been productive, but not overpowering, ending fifth with 756 runs scored in the FL. Justin Fowler (22 HR) and Dylan Allomes (25 HR) and provide the power, while the team had three .300 batters. Besides Allomes, these were Bob Rojas and Joe Vanatti. Regarding the pitching staff, there was a marked distinction to make, though. While the Pacifics had ended up with the best rotation, their bullpen had been crummy, with a 4.35 ERA, bad enough for the bottom three in the FL.

Opposing them were the 91-71 Capitals, who had also won their division by four games, beating out the Miners in the final week of the season. They had come third in runs allowed, fourth in runs scored, and in contrast to the Pacifics paired the second-best rotation with a pretty good bullpen. A tough-as-nails middle of the order saw David Lessman bat .317 with 30 homers, Tsuneyosi Tachibana hit .310 with 25 homers, and Jeremy Houghtaling still hit .275 with 22 homers, while Enrique Trevino had put up a new stolen base record with 74 sacks clipped during the season and had recovered from injury just before the playoffs. Still on the DL were a pair of starters in Eric Williams and Graham Wasserman, which would leave the Capitals with only two of their three (Williams) sub-3 ERA hurlers for the postseason, Jorge Beltran (16-4, 2.26 ERA), and Nick Salinas (10-7, 2.43 ERA), and the latter had only recently moved to the rotation after having closed games for the last few years and was mostly a five innings starter.

In the CLCS, the 103-59 Titans were the top seed for the postseason after having won the division by nine games over the Canadiens. They had the third-most runs scored in the CL, and had also conceded the fewest runs, with a +207 run differential to scare the opposition. They also had a clean bill of health for the postseason, where they would be spearheaded by Dustin Wingo (18-6, 1.97 ERA) and their premier batters, Adrian Reichardt (.289, 12 HR, 72 RBI) and Adam Braun (.259, 21 HR, 94 RBI). Their bullpen was also well fortified, although there were already a few experts that pointed out their reliance on Ben Marx as closer, and how Marx had an 8.86 ERA in the postseason for his career and how he had basically singlehandedly cost the Capitals the championship in 2022. This was the 35-year-old's sixth postseason with his third different tteam. He had never won a ring.

The CL South had borne the league the worst-ever division winner in history, the 81-81 Aces, who had dragged themselves across the finish line on the final day of the season, beating out the Bayhawks by one game, and even the last-place Falcons by only 12 games. They had scored runs alright all season long, coming up with 764 runs, good enough for second in the Continental League. Their problem was a bottomless well of a pitching staff, which had allowed 735 runs, the third-worst mark in the league, and quite a unique distinction for a playoff team. They had 17-game winners Luis Flores (17-8) with a 3.57 ERA and Abramo Archibugi had pitched to a 3.25 ERA with a 17-13 record. Their bullpen was a mess entirely. They also had injuries to further derail their effort, missing somewhat efficient pitchers in Joel Trotter and Ed Hague, as well as regulars to their lineup in Ron Tadlock and Brett Blades. The situation was so bad that they would potentially start 3B Kevin Fogel in the playoffs, a 26-year-old rookie with nine games of major league experience.

This was the Titans' 13th playoff appearance and their October performance had always been spectacular, wrapping up eight championships so far. The latter mark led the ABL, the former didn't; both the Thunder and Scorpions had 14 playoff appearances, but fewer titles. Both the Capitals and Pacifics were in their 11th postseason appearance, and both had three titles, tied for third-most among all teams. The Aces were playing October ball for only the seventh time, but they also had a pair of titles to show off.

If there was ever a 4-game sweep on the table in the LCS, it was probably this CLCS. The FLCS was more balanced, and maybe a bad bullpen would derail the Pacifics this time. The Capitals had a slight edge according to the pundits.

+++

2027 LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Capitals @ Pacifics … 1-7 … (Pacifics lead 1-0) … LAP Ben Cook 2-3, BB, 3B, 2 RBI; LAP Dave Christiansen 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (1-0);

Capitals @ Pacifics … 4-6 … (Pacifics lead 2-0) … LAP Justin Fowler 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 3 RBI; LAP Chris McEwen 2-4, HR, 2 RBI;
Aces @ Titans … 0-5 … (Titans lead 1-0) … BOS SP Jeremy Waite 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K, W (1-0);

L.A.'s Bob Rojas appeared to tweak a hammy while running the bases and was replaced by Dan Avent in this Game 2, but apparently did not actually suffer a serious injury and would be available again for Game 3.

Aces @ Titans … 1-3 … (Titans lead 2-0) … BOS Keith Spataro 3-3, BB, 2B; BOS Morgan Shepherd 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, W (1-0);

Pacifics @ Capitals … 2-4 … (Pacifics lead 2-1) … WAS Matt Barber 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI;

Pacifics @ Capitals … 8-1 … (Pacifics lead 3-1) … LAP Chris McEwen 2-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI; LAP Jaylen Rolland 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI; LAP Dave Christiansen 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K, W (2-0);
Titans @ Aces … 4-0 … (Titans lead 3-0) … BOS Greg Gannon 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K, W (1-0);

Pacifics @ Capitals … 0-4 … (Pacifics lead 3-2) … WAS Jorge Beltran 9.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, W (1-1);
Titans @ Aces … 13-7 … (Titans win 4-0) … BOS Matt Good 3-6, 2 RBI; BOS Adam Braun 2-6, 3 RBI; BOS Keith Leonard 2-3, 3 BB; BOS Joel Davis 3.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K;

Boston had Dustin Wingo knocked out early after allowing six runs in 3.1 innings, but stormed back against the Aces in the last two innings, not only undoing a 7-6 deficit, but also humiliating Vegas' Alejandro Purcella, who faced five batters in the eighth inning, retired nobody, and was soiled with five earned runs and the loss.

Capitals @ Pacifics … 5-6 … (Pacifics win 4-2) … WAS Pat Pick 3-4; LAP Bob Rojas 3-4; LAP Justin Fowler 1-3, 3B, 3 RBI; LAP Dan Avent (PH) 1-1, RBI;

Washington's Matt Reimann is tasked with holding down a 5-4 edge in the ninth inning, but allows a 1-out double to Jaylen Rolland, an RBI single to Ben Cook, is ordered to walk veteran Mike Rucker intentionally, and then succumbs to a pinch-hit RBI single by Dan Avent.

+++

With that, the two best teams by record would face another in the World Series, where despite both teams' track record of success they had so far indeed never met.

Both teams had scored a roughly equal amount of runs in the regular season, but the Titans had the much better pitching going into the series, having conceded about 70 fewer runs compared to the Pacifics.

L.A.'s crummy pen had not really shown up in the FLCS, but that was still a huge red flag. It was not like you could always outscore the Titans by enough runs early to not have the pen collapse and blow it late. Also, the Titans were still perfectly healthy…

Nope, this looked a whole lot like the Titans' ninth championship; Boston in five!

+++

2027 WORLD SERIES

Pacifics @ Titans … 4-2 … (Pacifics lead 1-0) … LAP Justin Fowler 1-2, 3 BB;

Pacifics @ Titans … 9-5 … (Pacifics lead 2-0) … LAP Justin Fowler 3-5, 2B, RBI; LAP Dylan Allomes 1-4, BB, HR, 4 RBI; BOS Adrian Reichardt 2-4, BB, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; BOS Keith Leonard 1-2, 2 BB, HR, 2 RBI;

Morgan Shepherd lasted only 1.2 innings while being torched for seven runs, including an Allomes grand slam. Shane Baker went six innings of 2-run ball for L.A. before – hear, hear – the bullpen crumbled for three runs in the last three innings.

Titans @ Pacifics … 2-6 … (Pacifics lead 3-0) … LAP Bryan Hanson 7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (2-0);

This time, Greg Gannon is raided early for five runs in the first inning, after which the Pacifics just went to bed. They only had one base hit in the last six innings.

Titans @ Pacifics … 4-0 … (Pacifics lead 3-1) … BOS Yasuhiro Kuramoto 3-4, 2B, RBI; BOS Rhett West 2-4, RBI; BOS Dustin Wingo 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K, W (1-0);

Titans @ Pacifics … 6-3 … (Pacifics lead 3-2) … BOS Adrian Reichardt 2-5, 2 2B; LAP Bob Rojas 3-3; LAP Mike Rucker (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; BOS Jeremy Waite 7.0 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, W (2-1);

The Pacifics hold a 2-1 lead after seven innings before Jim Bryant (0-2, 3.86 ERA) becomes stuck, and ex-Titan Jose Fuentes can't dig him out. Fuentes is laden with four runs and Bryant takes the loss in a 5-run meltdown.

Pacifics @ Titans … 8-2 … (Pacifics win 4-2) … LAP Bob Rojas 2-5, 3B; LAP Joe Vanatti 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; LAP Dylan Allomes 3-4, BB, HR, 2B, RBI; BOS Willie Vega 3-4, 2B, RBI;

For the second time in the series, Morgan Shepherd is blown up early as the Pacifics pick him apart in a 6-run third inning that they will ride all the way to the finish line. Gavin Lee (2-0, 0.87 ERA) goes six and two thirds for the win, and somehow it all holds up for them in the end.

+++

2027 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS
Los Angeles Pacifics

(4th title)
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:48 AM   #2691
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As usual, we will start the offseason by taking a cautious look at the coffers. The Raccoons ranked tied for 10th with the Capitals with a $32.5M budget in 2027, and would have an extra million available in 2028, increasing their budget to $33.5M. This will place them in ninth place among all 24 ABL teams in how much money the could wash down the drains.

In the context of the CL North, the Raccoons were holding the third-biggest budget behind the second-overall Titans ($41.5M) and the Crusaders, who tied for fifth place with the Aces with a $36M budget. The other top 5 teams were the Pacifics ($44M), Scorpions ($38M), and Gold Sox ($37.5M).

The bottom five in the league were Loggers, Indians, and Stars all tying for 19th with $23.6M, the Blue Sox with $22M, the Falcons with $21.8M, and Wolves with $21M. The only missing CL North team were the damn Elks, sitting in 14th place with $31M.

The average budget for 2028 was $31.2M, while the median budget was $32.25M.

So, with that out of the way we could delve right into personnel! The full salary arbitration table will be at the bottom of this entry.

The Raccoons had six players lined up for free agency, among who Jeff Kearney was the only pitcher. The lefty specialist had pitched 54.1 innings for a 2.82 ERA for an investment of only $700k, which sounded like something we might want to look into resigning again if we could find the money in the budget (more on that below). Like all other free agents, Kearney would not command a compensation pick if signed by another team.

The position players lined up for free agency included starters Matt Nunley, a 15-year veteran with the Critters, and Abel Mora, who had been in Portland for four years and in Oregon for all nine years of his career. On top of that, 16-year Coon Cookie Carmona was lined up for free agency as well as bit pieces Steve Hollingsworth and Daniel Bullock. The Brazilian shortstop was probably the most perplexing case. A career .232/.304/.287 batter for his career (69 OPS+), he had sometimes managed to reach free agency at age 29.

Now, who would get an offer, and who could get an offer?

The Raccoons had to calculate with $23M of commitments as the offseason began, which included both guaranteed contracts and arbitration estimates. The guaranteed contracts were actually not that many, but they were almost all quite pricey. Rich Hereford ($2.5M), Kevin Harenberg ($2.4M), Mark Roberts ($2.3M) all were due more than two million bucks in '28, and only Roberts was a free agent after that season. There were also sizable commitments to Kyle Anderson ($1.8M), Rafael Gomez ($1.7M), Rico Gutierrez ($1.4M), plus $875k guaranteed to Rin Nomura for the final year of the 3-year deal he signed coming out of Japan, *after which* he would still be under team control for another four years if we so desired. Nomura would not be eligible for free agency until he'd turn 34.

That was it – everybody else was lined up for arbitration, where the math could be treacherous. Dan Delgadillo f.e. carried an arbitration estimate of $2M, and this was not going to be his final time of a "second-tier" player under team control for lack of a better word. He would also still be arbitration eligible in the fall of '28, although at this point we were highly incentivized to seek a deal with him while he was 24 years old, his talent was unquestioned, although his two full seasons had been quite uneven – he had been a whole lot better in '26 than in '27…

Other pricey arbitration cases included Tim Stalker ($1M est.), Jonathan Snyder ($788k), Elias Tovias ($660k), with a handful of relievers also sprinkled in. The bottom line was $23M that had already been spent or were arbitration estimates.

The Raccoons now had to look carefully at that roster and decide where it needed resigning and/or patching. Of course, the offense needed major patching, and not because of the free agents. The absolute dearth that the team had gone through in July and August, and for bits in September, had been utmost excruciating and also downright unacceptable. I didn't even know where to start, though – on paper, we had great talent! And it was not like all could be blamed on injuries; the Raccoons had already sucked before injuries had culled Roberts, Anderson, Ohl, and Snyder for the season in July and August, and before they had lost Alberto Ramos for most of the final two months. Ramos aside, we had actually had *very few* injuries to position players in 2027. And the offense had still stunk it up, ending eighth in the CL with 660 runs scored, down 42 markers from the previous season, when the personnel on the roster would make you expect them to score something like 750-ish runs at least, something they hadn't done in six, seven years, depending on your interpretation of "-ish".

It was, really, all a mess.

Now, what do we have in fact lined up for 2028? We technically have a full rotation, although Kyle Anderson and Mark Roberts are both at least questionable for Opening Day. Anderson is a lock to miss the start of the season, and about Roberts the Druid refuses to tell me, which is never a good sign. But with the advent of George James, who pitched almost 100 respectable innings (6-4, 3.62 ERA) in addition to a 2-1, 3.13 ERA cameo in 2026, and who can actually swing the bat and could be a good deal of fun in the future, the Raccoons have at least Anderson well covered in the early going. If we need a sub for Roberts, we might want to try and patch things with an in-house solution (Barzaga? The thought makes me shiver) in April rather than spend half a million on an experienced veteran that would then have to be subjected to waivers by May or so.

So the Raccoons are not in the market for a starting pitcher. They might be in the market for a reliever, but between Boles, Ohl, Snyder, and Surginer, the tough end of the pen seems to be fortified. Don't forget McLin, either, who finished strong after a wonky April where he almost got booted to St. Petersburg, and Billy Brotman, who nobody ever talks about, but who is also still under team control. Now, does the open spot go to Kearney? If we settled on Boles as closer (1.21 ERA, 18 SV in 2027), we might want to add a left-handed reliever, and then we could pursue the 34-year-old Kearney again. And I think Boles might keep that job, despite sucking up the 4,000th regular season loss for the franchise in a legendary meltdown against the damn Elks in September. Spun another way – that walkoff slam that Manny Sanchez hit off him on September 8? That was HALF of all the runs he conceded this year! Two in April, one in May, one in June, and then… Manny Sanchez.

The Coons and Tovias are mostly stuck with another right now, so we are at best looking at a new backup. Jing-quo Liu isn't it. Daniel Rocha probably isn't it either. Rocha went 3-for-3 against the Condors on August 30, then went 1-for-22 the rest of the way.

Then it gets complicated. The Raccoons had a multitude of players that could play a number of positions, and thus did not need any specific position player in the winter … with an asterisk. First base was locked down with Kevin Harenberg anyway. Since Ramos was the starting shortstop, Jarod Spencer would be at second… although, hold on, Tim Stalker has to go someplace. So Spencer in left – but where does Rich Hereford go? Hereford was an upside defender at second and third; very serviceable in the outfield corners; and could reasonably fill in at shortstop if the need arose. Unfortunately he was not exactly rangy in the outfield, so he could not be the centerfielder.

This was where the shoe was tweaking the toe, if anything: centerfield. Rafael Gomez could move over to centerfield, but we'd probably rather not. The impending free agency of Matt Nunley actually opened a Hereford-sized hole at third base, so we didn't have to watch Rich chase after triples in the gap, either. We could either go after Abel Mora in free agency, or take a gander at what personnel we already had, like Greg Borg (yuck) and good old Yeshiva Rambam alumnus Juan Magallanes, who was 24 and had gotten increasingly larger cups of coffee in the last three years. He had batted .230 overall in the majors, but that was in only 165 at-bats, quite a few of them as an undercooked 21- and 22-year-old. Truth be told, he had not the greatest hitting profile. Our head scout, whose name I totally knew, but had just momentarily forgotten, was not keen on the idea, but he disliked Greg Borg's stuff even more.

Let's not forget the most important man in the conversation, though. Steve from Accounting – how's the budget doing? – About three million to blow? – That sounds swell …!
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:26 AM   #2692
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My first order was to try and lock up some of our players on the arbitration list, and foremost Dan Delgadillo, whom I offered a 5-year deal in the region of $9M, but he had none of it. He also didn't want a 4-year deal. He would not sign for anything but a 1-year deal to stay away from arbitration, and was probably expecting to be in a better negotiating position next year, which would be his last season of arbitration eligibility.

With another player, the problem was more the other way round. The Raccoons would have liked to keep Abel Mora on board, but at a reasonable price and not right up until his kids would be through college, and the youngest of his – according to Maud – adorable boys, Dyllon-Theodore, was only two years old… Mora had other ideas. He had already made $2.08M this year, thought he deserved a hefty raise, and was also looking for a deal straight through his age 37 season. The Raccoons weren't as keen on a 37-year-old centerfielder – and their and Mora's ways would part after four seasons with 543 base hits, 54 homers, and 275 RBI.

In a way, this offered the backdoor for Matt Nunley. Yes, Nunley would be 37 by Opening Day, but the hot corner was not centerfield, he had always been modest in his demands, and while Rich Hereford was also a very good defensive third baseman, if we couldn't keep Mora around, there was definitely an opening in the outfield for Hereford there. We envisioned him as leftfielder in that case, and would have to look for a centerfielder on the market.

Or, well, you know… Greg Borg or Juan Magallanes. I keep saying that somebody's gotta bat eighth, but maybe we should take a gander at the market anyway.

A number of pieces fell into place by the end of October, actually. The Raccoons extended Jeff Kearney for one season and $600k, Ricky Ohl also for one year and $350k, and Dan Delgadillo for the aforementioned one year and $2M.

Two players signed longer deals; Billy Brotman signed a 3-year deal that would pay him $400k next season and $600k each of the next two, for a total of $1.6M, while Elias Tovias inked a 4-yr, $3.5M extension that would pay $650k in '28 and escalate to $1.1M in '31.

2031. That sounds like space age. In fact… Maud? – Maud!! – Wasn't there this … this future show on that channel … - When was that? – So long ago? … Well, Maud confirmed that she watched the show "2031" that premiered in 2021 on CBN. And now we're almost there, and we STILL don't have flying cars…!

Or an offense that can score at least 4.5 runs per game.

During award season in early November, the Raccoons also finalized an extension for Matt Nunley, who would hang around for a 16th and 17th season as a Raccoon, taking a total of $1M for those two years. If he made it to 2029, that would tie him with Daniel Hall as the longest-enduring position players in Raccoons history, with 17 seasons under their belt each. Neil Reece and Cookie Carmona (who did not get an offer…) had lasted 16 seasons each, as had pitchers Kisho Saito and Grant West. Scott Wade had also been on a Raccoons team for 17 seasons, but Nick Brown stood alone with 18 seasons of service for the Raccoons.

Oh dear, how time passes… Matt Nunley was a toddler when Daniel Hall retired…

After Nunley, we took the remaining relievers off the arbitration table, signing 1-year deals with Jonathan Snyder ($750k) and Kevin Surginer ($350k), then finally agreed to a $1M deal with Tim Stalker for his final year of team control.

And that was it. The Raccoons could not get Abel Mora to sign a shorter extension, and they had no interest in resigning the other free agents and arbitration case Adam St. Germaine. We will get back to Jon Gonzalez in a second, but was that ever a disaster of a trade last winter? Gonzalez to Dallas for St. Germaine and Trey Rock. In case you wonder, Trey Rock has not been a Raccoon since July, but at least we flipped him into Rich Hereford. The other free agents to be were Cookie Carmona (too old, too broken), Steve Hollingsworth (nice try, but no cigar), and Daniel Bullock (Cristiano Carmona is very distraught).

+++

November 3 – The Dallas Stars send 1B Jon Gonzalez (.275, 115 HR, 469 RBI) back to the CL North, trading him to Indianapolis along with cash for RF/LF Dave O'Rourke (.263, 48 HR, 194 RBI).
November 5 – The Canadiens acquire SP Leon Hernandez (128-102, 3.66 ERA) from the Knights, parting with RF/LF Chris Mendoza (.256, 48 HR, 278 RBI) and a prospect.

+++

I am *sorta* looking forward to see Jon Gonzalez back in the division. I mean, on one hand this guy can ruin your entire night. On the other hand, he had a terrible season in Dallas, where normally hitters go to blossom. Jon amounted only to 1.7 WAR in his age 30 season there, hitting .265 with 18 homers. Two of his three Portland seasons were better than that, and it was not close. That one will be interesting to see. He is under contract through 2030, too, so the Indians have something to play with here.

+++

2027 ABL AWARDS

Players of the Year: WAS C/1B David Lessman (.317, 30 HR, 96 RBI) and VAN OF Brian Wojnarowski (.327, 20 HR, 79 RBI)
Pitchers of the Year: WAS SP Jorge Beltran (14-3, 2.36 ERA) and BOS SP Dustin Wingo (18-6, 1.97 ERA)
Rookies of the Year: DAL OF/1B Aaron Botzet (.310, 8 HR, 60 RBI) and VAN SP Victor Govea (12-1, 2.23 ERA)
Relievers of the Year: CIN CL Adam Moran (12-6, 2.81 ERA, 22 SV) and POR Josh Boles (5-3, 1.21 ERA, 18 SV)
Platinum Sticks (FL): P LAP Dave Christiansen, C WAS David Lessman, 1B PIT Danny Santillano, 2B TOP Chris Owen, 3B SAL Guillermo Obando, SS WAS Dave Menth, LF SAC Doug Stross, CF PIT Carlos de la Riva, RF WAS Tsuneyoshi Tachibana
Platinum Sticks (CL): P IND Chris Sinkhorn, C TIJ Danny Zarate, 1B SFB Tomas Caraballo, 2B LVA Andres Medina, 3B TIJ Shane Sanks, SS OCT Alex Serrato, LF VAN Alex Torres, CF LVA Danny Serrano, RF POR Rafael Gomez
Gold Gloves (FL): P RIC Joaquin Serrano, C CIN Alex Jaramillo, 1B DEN Brad Gore, 2B SAC Jorge Castro, 3B SAC Jason LaCombe, SS NAS Mike Martin, LF LAP Chris McEwen, CF NAS Khalil Sams, RF CIN Ken Gibbs
Gold Gloves (CL): P TIJ Alex Hichez, C MIL Jim Young, 1B OCT John Elliott, 2B BOS Rhett West, 3B BOS Adam Corder, SS ATL Rich Miller, LF BOS Willie Vega, CF MIL Ian Coleman, RF BOS Adam Braun

Like I needed another argument for Josh Boles to pick up the closer's mantle! I had my mind made up even before he picked up that ghastly bronze bowl for the Reliever of the Year that weighed about 90 pounds for some weird reason.

How Brian Wojnarowski became the Continental League Player of the Year is wholly and entirely beyond me. I wouldn't even name him the best outfielder on the damn Elks!

Never mind that the damn Elks wrapped up two of the major awards and we only got one, and then it was the least major. Stuff like that just riles me up inside. I will not sleep through from here straight through Easter!

…

Any which way, it is November 17. Free agents have departed.

Cookie Carmona is a Raccoon no more. Almost 20 years after signing with the Capitals out of Panama, and 16 years and four months after the July 2011 trade that sent him to Portland along with Jason Bergquist, Mike Cook, Gary Dupes, and Joe O'Brian in a deal for Jose "Dingus" Morales and Luis Beltran. The story of that Morales gamble in April 2011, when the Raccoons signed the leftover slugger to forfeit their first-round pick after the start of the season, then traded him for the best prospect they could have ever gotten when things didn't work out for them three months later, has finally found a conclusion. It was not a bad time by any measure. It gave the Raccoons a new franchise leader in terms of base hits (2,299) and stolen bases (428), and boundless joy for the first decade. The latter, not-quite-a-decade decade was a tough chew…

Good old Cookie Carmona. We will miss him.
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Old 01-06-2019, 11:10 AM   #2693
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On November 18, the Raccoons had only three proper outfielders left on the 40-man roster after letting Cookie Carmona, Steve Hollingsworth, Abel Mora, and Adam St. Germaine depart via free agency, and also passing AAA backup Devin Mansfield through waivers to put him on meal money to begin the 2028 season. Those three outfielders were recently anointed Platinum Sticker Rafael Gomez as well as the two guys from the meh category, Greg Borg and Juan Magallanes. That was all – everybody else had been shown the door. Of course that still left some utility potential; Jarod Spencer could still play a decent leftfield, and Rich Hereford had many talents. But the Raccoons were certainly in the hunt for a centerfielder.

Why should it not be Adam Braun? At 29 years old, the outfielder was well in his prime, and had just walked off the Titans for his first sniff of free agency. He was primarily a corner guy, but had sufficient range to play a serviceable centerfield (and more so than Rafael Gomez or Rich Hereford). His career OPS was .799 and he had 81 homers. Here was a problem though. Those numbers were good, but they were not outlandish. What was outlandish were Braun's contract demands (and never mind he'd cost a first-round pick), seeking a 9-yr, $36M contract to start discussions.

The Raccoons were still the Raccoons, ran by a sad-sack caricature of an owner that had holed up in his fortress in the Mexican mountains to avoid the Feds there that were after the taxes on his undeclared revenues from the refining and funneling to the US of … eh, tomato … juice. Yeah, it's really about the tomato … juice. AND THAT IS ALL I KNOW.

The Raccoons could not dole out a $4M deal, especially not for nine years, in good conscience to a 29-year-old guy that had ONLY a .799 career OPS. Remember the time they gave a 7-yr, $23.1M deal to a 29-year-old guy with a career OPS of .810? Yes, of course that was ****ing R.J. DeWeese. He went on to bleed the Raccoons for $16.5M and returned a line of .232/.325/.431 with 111 HR and 387 RBI in the next five seasons, while torturing rookies and publicly feuding with, well, everybody, before we somehow snuck him into the Thunder's books in the deal for Josh Stevenson. And then he batted .225/.330/.399 in the last two years of his contract, hitting just 13 more homers, and he was never in a starting lineup after his age 35 season. That ***hole.

There were alternatives, rest assured. F.e. Ian Coleman, coming off the Loggers at age 31. Something must have happened to him three years ago, because he used to be a .350 batter and now was a .270 batters (hitting .350 only against the Raccoons these days). What he brought to the table was top-notch centerfield defense, and also a mangled body. He had not played in more than 121 games in a season from 2021 straight through 2026, but had been in 157 games this year, batting merely .265/.328/.364 with eight homers and 56 RBI. There was value to that package – but it could just as well end up on the DL in May and never come back…

We also spotted a budget solution that you had probably never really heard of – Leo Otero. Now, he was 33, and had rarely if ever been a starter for any of his teams, most recently the Miners. He had a knack for getting on base, but not really for slugging it. There was another problem – the Raccoons didn't need anybody for the top of the order. Or if they did, it should be a real upgrade…

Somebody like Joe Vanatti. Now, Vanatti was not a free agent. He was on the Pacifics, and expensive. But our head scout (Miguel Something?) singled him out as a neat trade target. Top-notch defense (and a Gold Glover earlier), and he was also quite quick on the bases. Vanatti was a guy that could be slotted into the #2 hole behind Ramos. The price was probably going to be steep, though, and the Raccoons also had to dump something of value to the Pacifics, because after resigning Nunley and Kearney they had not enough dough left into the budget to accommodate Vanatti's $2.48M contract that would run through 2029.

At least the Pacifics were willing to talk about my ideas.

+++

November 24 – The Pacifics trade 27-yr old LF/1B Eddie Pence (.260, 13 HR, 107 RBI) to the Miners for 26-yr old 1B/3B Jonathan Morales (.285, 32 HR, 283 RBI).
November 25 – The Buffaloes sign ex-MIL LF/CF Ian Coleman (.308, 64 HR, 560 RBI) to a 6-yr, $7.32M contract.
December 1 – Rule 5 Draft: 16 players are selected across two rounds, but the Raccoons are not affected.
December 2 – The Cyclones ink former Titans OF Adam Braun (.282, 81 HR, 444 RBI) to a 7-yr, $23M contract.
December 2 – The Pacifics sign ex-TOP 1B/2B Chris Owen (.302, 125 HR, 743 RBI) to a 2-year contract, as part of which the 33-year-old will receive a total of $5.28M.
December 2 – Former Stars right-hander SP David Saccoccio (8-14, 4.10 ERA) signs a 6-yr, $12.18M contract with the Indians.

+++

The Pacifics were talking, but we could not agree on a deal. They had shed some relief pitching in free agency, and I was willing to offer a pair of relievers, but not an outrageous combo like Jonathan Snyder AND Ricky Ohl. And, people, no, you can't have Alberto Ramos. He is all MINE. Err, ours.

It wasn't like Vanatti was the only outfielder out there. There were alternatives after all even though Ian Coleman was off the table (and for a reasonable price, but not a reasonable duration). The same for Braun, who got a DeWeeseian deal from the Cyclones, which was where DeWeese came from to the Raccoons the previous decade.

Brr, DeWeese.

The Pacifics were also showing keen interest in some of our starting pitchers, but I was not necessarily keen on trading any of them with all the uncertainty engulfing our rotation come Opening Day, with a big red X next to Kyle Anderson's name and a huge oscillating question mark in regard to Mark Roberts. In anticipation of a potential move I reached out to Ian Prevost at some point. Prevost doesn't have flashy numbers and missed all of the 2026 season, but you have to know the circumstances. This was a guy who had spent most of his career as a Logger, yet had compiled six consecutive 14-win seasons. That was not a trivial achievement for a Logger, ever.

Next up are the winter meetings. Oh, and there is also a Hall of Fame ballot out, and it has lots of Raccoons on it!
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Old 01-06-2019, 04:23 PM   #2694
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December 8 – The first big splash of the winter meetings is the Capitals adding not one, but two free agent pitchers, both former Titans: SP Greg Gannon (75-52, 4.01 ERA) signs for 4-yr, $14.16M, and MR Matt Rosenthal (90-106, 4.49 ERA, 4 SV) will receive $2M over two years.
December 8 – The Aces deal 3B/1B Brett Blades (.249, 21 HR, 106 RBI) to the Aces for a minor leaguer and a prospect.
December 9 – Tijuana trades for Dallas' SP Jonas Mejia (64-79, 4.23 ERA), giving up three prospects.
December 10 – The Raccoons trade for Oklahoma City's OF/1B Omar Millan (.275, 14 HR, 176 RBI), parting with MR Jonathan Snyder (17-16, 2.79 ERA, 129 SV) and $100k in cash.
December 10 – At age 38, the career Scorpion 3B Jason LaCombe (.322, 29 HR, 775 RBI) signs a 2-yr, $6.72M contract with the Pacifics.
December 10 – The Loggers trade CL Joe Moore (22-31, 2.89 ERA, 135 SV) to the Pacifics, along with cash, for two prospects.

+++

Millan is a 25-year-old Dominican outfielder that fits the current team philosophy in that he is variously employable on all three outfield positions, plus first base, and can rob other teams blind on the base paths. He puts the ball in play, striking out at rather low rates, and also draws a few walks, but he is really a fourth outfielder for us – as he was for the Thunder. He might also start a few games here and there against right-handed pitching, probably in leftfield.

Now, Jonathan Snyder is quite a tall price for Millan. Although I was not very subtle on that I soured on him quite a bit in recent times, he was still a very dependable reliever. But the Raccoons have many of those, and where did the best bullpen in the league get them? Exactly, they finished third. Millan is not going to be Eddie Jackson (who batted right-handed), but he is definitely hitting above the weight class of, say, Greg Borg.

There is considerable competition for the good jobs behind Josh Boles and Ricky Ohl in the bullpen even with Snyder's lamentable departure. There is Kevin Surginer, and Dan McLin, who really broke out in the second half, and Billy Brotman and Jeff Kearney, and then a real battle for the garbage spot. We have Jonathan Fleischer, who admittedly pairs big league stuff with bear league control for 15 walks and 14 strikeouts in 15.2 major league innings over two seasons; we also have Steve Costilow, a fifth-rounder from 2023, who has Fleischer's control, but not his stuff; somehow Juan Barzaga is still drawing paychecks a month removed from being in the organization for 15 years after signing out of the Dominican at age 16, but who had only amounted to 74 big league innings in all that time, with a 4.26 ERA as the result of that.

Or, you know, the free agent market. Speaking of which… there is more that didn't make the cut.

+++

December 11 – The Raccoons and OF/1B Abel Mora (.271, 99 HR, 531 RBI) agree to a new 3-yr, $3.9M deal.

+++

Mora gambled on the free agent market, and somehow found no takers despite a rather stripped outfield market. He wanted 6-yr, $13M before filing for free agency. I might have agreed to something like 4-yr, $7M or maybe $8M. Well, now, after a pronounced episode of The Panic, he gets 3-yr, not even $4M. Don't get me wrong, I am glad, because centerfielders with power are not something that fall onto your feet every day…

But please don't tell him that I did a lewd victory dance once he left the room after signing his new contract. Or that I pulled my hip doing so. Mena…! MENAAAA…!! … It hurts…!

What is it, Cristiano? – No, Daniel Bullock won't come back, too.

Weird. He's not asking about his brother at all.
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:45 PM   #2695
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At some point the Raccoons had considered trading a starting pitcher in the chase for a top notch bat, and then sign Ian Prevost (with the forfeiture of a first-round pick) to make up the difference. That deal had never materialized, and by the end of December, Prevost was also off the table, rejoining the Gold Sox on a $2.6M deal for a single season. He had gone 8-3 with a 2.81 ERA for them in the second half after coming over from the Loggers in a trade.

Ultimately I spent most of December in wasteful discussions with the Indians, who had several players that would fit well in certain weak areas of the current Raccoons roster, f.e. backup catcher and backup outfielders. Specifically I had a reunion with Matt Jamieson in mind (who caught the final out in the 2026 World Series) and I also took a keen interest in Matt Dear, a rookie catcher, who had made his debut in the second half, and who combined decent contact, power, and defensive attributes in a way that could make Elias Tovias' days and nights a bit more interesting than the competition he was facing from … Daniel Rocha?

It always sucks when you have absolutely no prospects. It sucks a whole lot more, however, when the only answer the opposition can provide to the question of how about this deal, now, please? … always comes back as "Add Alberto Ramos". That was not going to get us ANY trade whatsoever.

Well, we actually DID trade with the Indians, but it was not really…

+++

December 16 – The Titans are happy to announce the addition of 31-year-old ex-SFB CL Ryan Corkum (33-50, 3.50 ERA, 252 SV) on a 1-yr, $1.68M contract.
December 19 – The Condors sign ex-MIL SP Jorge Villalobos (87-92, 3.65 ERA) for six years, which will earn the 31-year-old Villalobos $20.88M.
December 23 – The Gold Sox will attempt to turn the fading 35-yr old former Knight C Ruben Luna (.258, 268 HR, 1,083 RBI) around. Luna will make $6.14M over three years after spending all of his 15-year career with Atlanta so far, but he batted only .228 with 16 HR in 2027, and .225 with 14 HR in 2026.
December 24 – Denver continues to add experience with a 1-yr, $760k contract given to ex-Crusader 1B/2B Jose Gutierrez (.292, 43 HR, 787 RBI), who turned 43 years old earlier in the month.
December 28 – The Raccoons acquire 32-yr old C Armando Leal (.280, 81 HR, 512 RBI) from the Indians, parting with 27-yr old AAA OF Devin Mansfield (.200, 0 HR, 0 RBI).

+++

That is not the sort of deal that gains ten wins for a franchise, but hey at least we now have a pair of switch-hitting catchers again… not the most stupid combo of position players we ever had. Leal should surely light a bit more fire under Tovias' bum than Rocha, although his 10-year major-league career had mostly been crummy, with one very good season roughly every three to four years, with the 2018 Blue Sox in his rookie year, then the 2022 Blue Sox, then the 2025 Crusaders. We were banking on a 3-year cycle here.

Besides, Mansfield lacked any sort of value. A weak hitter, well past prospect age, that had done absolutely nothing in three cups of coffee, or at any point in between, before, or thereafter.

I could have saved a minimum salary here by sending them one of our plenty of weak right-handed extra relievers like Costilow, but we might at some point still want to use Costilow in some capacity. His pronounced jaw might make for a good bottle opener for example. Mansfield didn't even have that much going for him. What a good second-round pick!

Former Raccoons are slow to sign new deals this winter (besides, who wants former Raccoons…?) Graham Wasserman will take $350k from the Elks, the traitor! That is it.

So that almost wraps up December for us, and next we will have the announcement for the Hall of Fame vo- … - Maud, I am talking right now…! – What is it? What do I have to see? – Fine, I will put on Channel 5…! – Say, isn't that Carlosito's villa slash fortress in Mexico?

[aerial footage shot from a helicopter at a low angle shows the walled-in complex rocked by explosions, torched by fire, and with muzzle flashes from gunfire blitzing up from dark holes in the walls, with the caption at the bottom of the screen reading "MEXICAN GOV'T CONTINUES CRACKDOWN ON ORGANIZED CRIME"]

Maud, say, do you think this will affect us in any way ...?
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Old 01-10-2019, 08:20 AM   #2696
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No, Maud, I don't want to read the Agitator, it is … - They do?

(reluctantly takes the paper)

+++

The Portland Agitator
December 30, 2027

Beloved Raccoons owner Valdes dead at 73


The Portland baseball community is coming to terms today with the sad news that the benevolent owner of the routinely hapless Portland Raccoons, Carlos Valdes Jr., passed away yesterday at the age of 73 in his home in northern Mexico. The circumstances of his death are so far not entirely clear, with reports indicating that Valdes perished in a house fire that broke out during a raid of black-masked thugs on his residence.

Valdes, who made a fortune in agriculture, transport, and the waste disposal business even before he inherited the Portland baseball team almost exactly 29 years ago, saw the Raccoons to a championship in 2026, and could have brought more success and titles to this city if his efforts had not been consistently undone and his generous monetary contributions persistently wasted by a thoroughly inept and wholly inadequate managerial staff. He was the fourth owner of the Raccoons in their existence.

While the baseball community is dealing with this outlandish tragedy, many questions remain unanswered at this time, including which nefarious organization was responsible for the assault on his home, and who will now rise to ownership of the Raccoons given that Valdes fathered at least 13 children with three different wives.

The repeatedly sluggish Portland Raccoons, foremost ruinous general manager Richard Westfield, have not yet commented on how they will honor Carlos Valdes Jr. during the upcoming baseball season. Your Agitator staff finds nothing less than a gold statue of him on prominent display appropriate, and will accept donations and contributions towards achieving this noble goal.


+++

Maud, that photo next to the article is not of the Mexican Prick. That photo is not of anybody I know …!

Oh well, how would anybody notice it? Carlosito had not been seen in Portland in many, many years. But there were other issues, too – if he had 13 children, I doubted that I had photos on all of them…

Yes, Maud, that is how I managed to keep my job through all the drudgery. Blackmail beats the best intentions. – I can show you one of them if you really want, but I have to warn you. (pulls out second desk drawer from the top and rips off an envelope duct-taped to the bottom of the drawer) It is graphic! – Okay. (pulls out a photo and shows it to Maud, who blushes and can't find any words) – Humiliating, right?

Especially for the horse.
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Old 01-10-2019, 10:04 AM   #2697
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Even with the Mexican Prick dead, the world somehow kept spinning, and Portland with it. The ABL had provisions that teams were supposed to continue business as usual – as far as possible – when a singular owner of a team died and the succession was not clear, as had happened here.

Then again, it was the calm time of the offseason already, and of life in general, at the tail end of the holidays. We made it to 2028 alright.

Who would be the first new Raccoon of the post-prick era? The Raccoons still had an outfielder job to give out. There was no point in having both Juan Magallanes (.559 career OPS) and Greg Borg (.576 career OPS) on the roster when we could still bring in an actual batter. This was probably a backup job, with Raccoons players to move and shift around in a way that would keep leftfield occupied by either Jarod Spencer or Rich Hereford for the foreseeable future (in fact, Spencer and Nunley might form the weirdest platoon of all, either one starting against opposite-handed pitching while Hereford was flickering back and forth between third base and leftfield). I can say that confidently, given that no outfield prospects of any sort were expected to arrive at the major league level … ever? Thus we'd make do with Mora and Gomez as starters.

And I might want to congratulate myself on a very balanced roster as of now, given that the Raccoons currently had five left-handed, five right-handed, and four switch-hitting batters on the major league roster. This included Butch Gerster, a September leftover that was batting righty and that was as unlikely as a snowflake in Arizona to make it into April.

In theory we could also add an infielder rather than an outfielder, but it was a crunch already…

Matt Jamieson remained the one that got away, and the Indians weren't giving him back, even though they also weren't keen on playing him.

Meanwhile we still had 78 pitchers on the 40-man roster, although everbody knew who would and wouldn't make the Opening Day roster – except for Mark Roberts' spot in the rotation, which he might or might not be able to take in April. The Druid was giving his best with massages and ointments to treat his ruptured disc.

The greatness of Mark Roberts is probably underappreciated as a whole in the league, partly because he was a slow debutee, not nailing down a starting role until age 25, and then he also missed time with injury here and there. At age 33, he had made it into 256 major league games, 239 of those starts, with a 100-71 record and a 2.99 ERA. Plus, that Pitcher of the Year button and a Triple Crown. And yes, there had been four pitching triple crowns in the last decade, but before that it had rarely ever happened.

All the triple crowns in ABL history:

1977 – SFB Juan Correa (1) – 34 W, 1.27 ERA, 297 K
1980 – SAC Juan Correa (2) – 28 W, 2.11 ERA, 200 K
1981 – LAP David Burke – 25 W, 2.61 ERA, 183 K
1982 – CHA Juan Correa (3) – 29 W, 1.64 ERA, 201 K
1984 – CHA Juan Correa (4) – 20 W, 2.20 ERA, 202 K
1986 – POR Tetsu Osanai - .341, 31 HR, 121 RBI
1999 – MIL Martin Garcia (1) – 22 W, 2.03 ERA, 288 K
2000 – MIL Martin Garcia (2) – 23 W, 2.28 ERA, 255 K
2002 – DEN Carlos Castro – 21 W, 2.38 ERA, 263 K
2002 – SFB Tony Hamlyn (1) – 21 W, 2.16 ERA, 277 K
2010 – CIN Tony Hamlyn (2) – 23 W, 2.00 ERA, 270 K
2016 – DAL Hugo Mendoza - .350, 37 HR, 134 RBI
2018 – POR Jonathan Toner (1) – 23 W, 2.21 ERA, 293 K
2020 – POR Jonathan Toner (2) – 22 W, 2.32 ERA, 276 K

2023 – TOP Jose Lerma – 20 W, 2.36 ERA, 204 K
2025 – POR Mark Roberts – 21 W, 2.29 ERA, 238 K

Correa wasn't named the Mauler for nothing, heh?

+++

2028 HALL OF FAME VOTING

And here are the voting results for the Hall of Fame. Players are listed with their declared plaque team, their number of times on the ballot, and their vote share.

LAP SP Brad Smith – 1st – 95.6 – INDUCTED
POR CL Angel Casas – 1st – 87.1 – INDUCTED
LAP CF Jimmy Roberts – 1st – 76.0 – INDUCTED
NYC SP Jaylen Martin – 2nd – 75.1 – INDUCTED
??? CL Arturo Lopez – 1st – 72.9
IND C Jose Paraz – 4th – 69.7
LAP 3B Jens Carroll – 3rd – 43.5
ATL LF Gil Rockwell – 1st – 31.5
??? SP Chris York – 10th – 29.7 – DROPPED
TIJ SP Kelvin Yates – 9th – 28.7
VAN 1B Ray Gilbert – 3rd – 10.4
??? SP Bob King – 2nd – 8.5
SAC SP Jorge Gine – 1st – 5.7
POR SP Hector Santos – 1st – 4.7 – DROPPED
BOS CL Matt Collins – 1st – 4.4 – DROPPED
IND SP Tom Weise – 1st – 4.1 – DROPPED
SAC 2B Dave McCormick – 1st – 3.5 – DROPPED
??? SS Gary Rice – 1st – 3.5 – DROPPED
CHA CL Luis Hernandez – 6th – 2.8 – DROPPED
??? RF Winston Jones – 1st – 1.9 – DROPPED
WAS C Jose Flores – 2nd – 1.6 – DROPPED
IND MR Helio Maggessi – 1st – 0.6 – DROPPED

+++

Four players were elected to the Hall of Fame, including a pair of Pacifics players in Brad Smith and Jimmy Roberts. Smith was the dominant pitcher in the Federal League during his time in the majors, winning the Pitcher of the Year award a stunning six times along with four ERA titles, four strikeout titles, and one season he led the league in wins. He also took home three World Series rings with the Pacifics (2011, 2012, 2016) and was the FLCS MVP in the 2012 playoffs. A strikeout guy with precise control, Smith rung up 3,411 batters against only 1,239 walks, and finished with 254 career wins against 146 losses and a 3.15 ERA. He spent 17 of his 19 major league seasons with the Pacifics before ending his career with the Bayhawks.

Jimmy Roberts was a teammate of Smith during the three World Series titles the Pacifics won in the 2010s, but was always more modest and less flashy, and also attracted less spotlight. While he was a sterling power hitter that piled up 280 dingers in his career, along with 1,151 RBI, he always seemed to shy away from too much attention, but got it anyway with seven All Star nods and the 2011 Player of the Year decoration. A .304 batter for his career, he led the FL in home runs and RBIs once each, and spent his entire career in the Federal League, 14 seasons with the Pacifics followed by stints with the Cyclones and Gold Sox.

Jaylen "Midnight" Martin didn't have his nickname for nothing. While his peak was relatively brief, it was nevertheless intense, and he was an All Star six times in the 2010s. Although he never led the Continental League, in which he spent his whole career, in strikeouts or ERA, he won the 2014 Pitcher of the Year award when he went 22-6 in his first full season with the Crusaders, who had picked him up in a trade with the Condors in 2013. With them, he collected three rings as part of their second, 2013-15 three-peat. For much of the 2010s, there was scarcely a better pitcher in the Continental League, but he lost his touch rather early and did not make a start past age 36, retiring after a 15-year career with marks of 187-129, a 3.17 ERA, and 2,319 K.

The greatness of Angel Casas will forever remain undisputed, not so much for his career ERA of 2.28 manufactured over 977 outings, all in relief, but for his 641 career saves, the second-most in ABL history. Casas was an All Star nine times and won the 2007 Reliever of the Year award when he saved 48 games for the Raccoons, the first of his four times leading the CL in saves, all with Portland. He spent the first 12 of his 19 seasons with the Raccoons before making stops with five different teams in the Federal League, and pitched until he was 40 years old. In his 19 seasons, he regularly topped 10 K/9, and tipped below that mark only four times, as a sophomore in 2005, again in 2015, and in the last two seasons of his career with the 2021 Scorpions and 2022 Capitals. Despite his elite stuff and vicious precision, Casas never found himself on a championship team, and is the only inductee this year without a ring.

+++

Say, we haven't had a number retiring ceremony in a while in Portland, have we? Angel wore #28 during his Raccoons days, which is currently held by Ricky Ohl, but I am confident we can figure something out there…
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:16 AM   #2698
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As January progressed, the Raccoons kept looking or their new owner as well as an experienced backup outfielder, preferably for cheap and for a short time.

I was originally after Luis Leija, who had batted .247 with two homers with the Condors last year after having been on the Capitals and Aces earlier. He had not been a regular with a qualifying amount of plate appearances since 2024, then batting .255 with eight homers with Washington. He was not quite the Eddie Jackson type that my heart had been yearning for for such a long time. He also was somewhat unrealistic about the contract he could extract from the Raccoons, being pretty much insisting on a 2-yr, $2.4M contract that I wouldn't give him.

We would eventually stay in the same category, settling for longtime Indians outfielder Danny Morales. Like Leija, he hadn't been a regular since 2024 with the Indians, then had split the last three seasons with five different teams. In '27, he had batted only .214 with one homer for Cincy. The thing was, our new Puerto Rican friend would sign for little more than meal money, which fit well into my plans…

+++

January 12 – The Loggers snatch up former division rival, ex-BOS SP Morgan Shepherd (81-64, 3.68 ERA) on a 4-yr, $12.12M contract. The 32-year-old right-hander won 18 games for the Titans in 2027.
January 21 – The Miners acquire SP Mike Lake (97-103, 3.92 ERA) from the Cyclones, sending two prospects to Cincinnati.
January 22 – The Raccoons sign 33-year-old ex-CIN Danny Morales (.273, 63 HR, 422 RBI) to a 1-yr, $360k contract.
February 6 – Left-hander Danny Arguello (67-53, 3.68 ERA) signs a 2-year, $5.24M contract with the Pacifics. The 31-year-old swingman pitched for the Bayhawks and Capitals in 2027.
February 6 – The Titans get reinforcement in person of ex-TOP 3B/SS Stephen Williams (.258, 78 HR, 497 RBI), who signs a 3-yr, $5.3M contract.
February 9 – The Raccoons and Loggers exchange a whole host of disappointing players; 29-year-old OF Greg Borg (.218, 4 HR, 31 RBI) and 27-year-old AAA INF/LF John Kelley are sent to Milwaukee, while the Raccoons receive two pitchers in 29-year-old MR Yoo-chul Kim (28-40, 4.38 ERA, 7 SV) and 24-year-old SP/MR Billy Ramm (0-0, 1.74 ERA).
February 13 – The Miners ink ex-BOS SP/MR Julio San Pedro (97-74, 3.60 ERA, 62 SV). The 33-year-old right-hander will make $7.36M over three years.

+++

Yeah, Morales is a right-handed outfielder with no power, and no real position, but the Raccoons would have to make do with that for now. Besides, we really only need two backup outfielders, but really might have three around with the way leftfield will regularly be manned by an infielder with no room on the infield. Besides – assume we face a right-handed pitcher, so Matt Nunley starts the game at third, and Rich Hereford in left. If a left-handed reliever comes up at some point, Morales can bat for Nunley and then stay in the game in leftfield, while Rich Hereford zooms onto the dirt part of the field.

In my dreams, Greg Borg was a slugging outfielder that would make opposing pitchers wet themselves when he wasn't even in the on-deck circle yet. He sure had the right name for it. Alas, that never happened. After five seasons and less than a full season's worth of at-bats, him out of options, and Magallanes also still around, we had no more time to worry about him.

The Loggers were the only team remotely interested in a 29-year-old career nothing on minimum salary, and had a keen interest to rid themselves of Yoo-chul Kim, who was due $600k this season. Since Kim had no place on our 25-man roster and was also out of options, it was a bit of a waste deal until I came up with Billy Ramm, a rookie left-hander with ill control that could plausibly still be called a borderline second-rate prospect. The Loggers demanded a throw-in, and John Kelley had batted .218 in AAA last year, so he was easy to part with.

Ramm's upside is not massive, and I hate paying $600k to Kim, but then again, he looks sort of sick to begin with. I will have the Druid evaluate whether he will even live to Opening Day…

Will Mark Roberts start on Opening Day? – Druid says, still on the edge. Who will start if Roberts can't go? Probably Rin Nomura, who won 19 games (which tied for the league lead) and put up a 2.86 ERA last season.

Still waiting on news from the ownership front.

And here comes the ex-Coon department: Ruben Pelles signed for $550k with the Buffaloes; Adam St. Germaine joined the Wolves for $660k; and Joel Davis signed with the Capitals for $336k;
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Old 01-13-2019, 05:56 AM   #2699
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Well, that was ... something. And don't mind Slappy passed out on the couch, he's been there the entire time.

Turns out, for six weeks the Raccoons had been owned by the Mexican government when it seized all of Carlosito's assets after leveling his mountain retreat as well as the man himself. Since a baseball operation routinely costs money, they had motivation to divest themselves of the whole mess we have up here as soon as possible and found a willing buyer.

That buyer just left the office again. He was here for an hour. I know everything about him, yet I know nothing. He said a lot of things, yet said nothing.

Nicholas "Nick" Valdes looks like 25. Or he could look like 45. I have not decided yet. He says he is the result of an extramarital affair of the Mexican prick. He also claims that he has more money than any god I would like to compare him to. Something about speculation in futures, markets, Cambodian rice, and Costa Rican coffee beans, and he uses the term "return on investment" a lot. I fear we will talk about "return on investment" a whole damn much from now on. He said it at least 38 times in an hour.

No matter his background, whether he is actually related to Carlosito, whether he is actually made of solid gold, he was apparently able to produce enough credentials and cash to purchase the Raccoons from the Mexican government in a matter of weeks. The ABL, always eager to throw wrenches into any gears it could reasonably jam, was also convinced quickly to sell the team to another Valdes. He is also an American citizen, having been born in the US... in some year, whenever.

No, he is not telling me one bit more than I need to know, but Cristiano soon found out that by speculating in said Cambodian rice he almost single-handedly caused the Burmese famine of '21. He apparently made a lot of cash that way, too ...!

He also showed me pictures - that's right, for the first time *I* am not the one who has pictures...! Oh well, it was innocent enough. They were of his collection of baseball cards. He has not one mint condition "Mauler" Correa card from '77, but THREE. Cristiano checked that one, too. Only 26 are known to exist. They go for six figures at auctions.

Nick Valdes claims to know everything about baseball. He will also make sure to share his knowledge with us (me?) in the front office, because apparently we have been banging rocks together in vain attempts to light a fire (his words, not mine). I can thus expect a steady stream of advice from him on this and that player; 'regrettably' it was already too late to turn the ship towards successful waters for the upcoming 2028 season, but by the next trade period he expected us to be pretty active and preactive and would have useful hints ready when the time came to trade a player, and by the way, that Mora resigning? 'Regrettable' move - he hates him. Also, Cookie Carmona might have turned into a negligible player, but he still sold jerseys. We ought to look into whether we can still resign him.

Always mind the return on investment.

And rings. Not either/or. Both, at the same time.

And also, please, without spending a single unnecessary dollar.

(Slappy starts snoring)

Oh well, I survived the Mexican Prick for three decades, I will show this punk his limits, too... But now I have to get one of our sponsors in line. Fizzy Cola think they can get away with a smaller sign on the outfield fence. - Maud...! - Maud! I need the-- (a blonde bimbo enters the office) - Who the **** are you?? Where is Maud...? - What do you mean you offend more in turn on resentment...?? - MAAAAAUD ...!!
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:44 AM   #2700
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I eventually found Maud, who had been banished to some closet down the hallway by Nick Valdes, and quickly reversed room assignments there. The blonde bimbo might find Fuzzy Cola delightful (IF she can spell words that long), but screw her so-or-so good looks; I needed competence - I needed Maud!

Nothing *really* happened for the last six weeks of the offseason. We had all the personnel assembled that we could afford. Nobody was taking Yoo-chul Kim, dead or alive (I asked), and that was more or less it.

…except for one item: Mark Roberts DID recover in time for Opening Day… yay! Kyle Anderson however would (and was always going to) start the season on the disabled list.

Oh yeaah… and there was one more thing. Early in the offseason I plundered the scouting budget to have money available in other areas. When I was going to "refill" the budget for … our scout… who has a name, I guess… Nick Valdes told me to bugger off. $2,385,000 were enough of an investment to generate return, he declared, which will be down about 20% from last year.

Oh nice times ahead.

+++

February 20 – The Warriors sign ex-TIJ LF/RF Luis Leija (.265, 32 HR, 208 RBI) to a 2-yr, $2.58M contract.
March 10 – The Pacifics sign ex-SAC SP Mario Alva (98-98, 4.22 ERA) to a 1-year deal worth $1.98M.

+++

Other Coons' new burrows: Troy Charters signed with the damn Elks for $336k; Shane Walter joined the Buffaloes for $334k; Chris Munroe hitched a ride with the Titans for 2-yr, $1.02M; the Miners took pity on Josh Stevenson and gave him $290k; the Loggers picked up Steve Hollingsworth for $270k; Brett O'Dell got as much from the Capitals; the Titans could not resist and threw $476k at 41-year old rally killer Mike Bednarski; John Waker landed with the Cyclones for $376k; the Elks picked Justin Hess for $308k;
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Portland Raccoons, 54 years of excell-.... of baseball: Furballs here!
1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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