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Old 11-13-2019, 05:07 PM   #3021
Westheim
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Raccoons (53-40) vs. Crusaders (47-44) – July 18-20, 2033

The Crusaders themselves still entertained plausible postseason chances given the Titans’ rash of injuries and their failure to activate their usual afterburners and the Raccoons’ alleged general flimsiness and recent reluctance to score anything at all. The season series was however at 6-3 in the Coons’ favor, so they had to come up with a plan quick. Sitting eighth both in runs scored and runs allowed was also no help for their ambitions, and they even had the second-worst rotation all around.

Projected matchups:
Andy Palomares (6-7, 4.82 ERA) vs. Erik David (4-4, 2.19 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (8-6, 3.30 ERA) vs. Eddie Cannon (8-9, 4.18 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (10-4, 3.37 ERA) vs. Ramiro Benavides (4-7, 5.25 ERA)

David also had 17 saves, but had been pulled from the closer’s job to make a spot start here, something that had happened to him in the past with other teams, too. In fact, the 32-year-old righty had at least four starts and four saves in four previous seasons. Benavides would be the only left-hander drawing up here.

Game 1
NYC: CF Tessmann – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – RF Reardon – SS Schuler – C Leonard – 3B J. Zamora – P David
POR: SS Ramos – CF Reichardt – RF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – LF Jennings – 2B Vickers – C Garcia – 3B Marsingill – P Palomares

Danny Tessmann opened the game with a 360-footer to rightfield on a 2-0 pitch, putting the Coons instantly behind. Mario Hurtado and Jose Balado, recently acquired from San Fran, would hit line drive singles, but Chris Reardon fed one to Rich Vickers to double them up, helping Palomares escape an already ugly first inning. Reichardt, Fernandez, and Zitzner hit straight singles to tie the game in the bottom 1st, and the go-ahead run scored on Jennings’ grounder to Hurtado, who had to hustle in, had no chance for two and barely got one. Vickers singled, but Zitzner had to hold and both were stranded on the corners when Fernando Garcia flew out to Balado. Top 2nd, Randy Schuler and Keith Leonard produced more line drive singles right away, and it looked like a budding bullpen day for Portland. Palomares fooled NOBODY. The fact that the bottom of the order came up and didn’t get the ball to fall in (or bunted) was probably the only thing sparing him early destruction, and stingy defense kept him in one piece in the next innings, which included Ramos racing all the way over to the leftfield line to catch a shallow fair pop by Zamora in the fourth. Portland had a few runners, but no luck in RISP situations until Jennings singled home Reichardt, who had stolen second base after singling himself, with two outs in the bottom 5th, extending the lead to 3-1.

The answer came rather quickly in the top 6th. More line drives, more hits, and no outs logged by Palomares, who was knocked out by Hurtado’s double, Balado’s single, and Reardon’s RBI single. Nick Bates inherited a sticky situation with a 1-run lead, two on, and nobody out, and ****ed the game away completely. Schuler singled on a 2-2 pitch to load the bags, and he walked Leonard to force in the tying run. Zamora hit into a run-scoring double play, and then ****ing Erik David hit a 2-out RBI single to right, leading to Bates’ first earned run since Opening Day, and also to his yanking. Hennessy had to finish the 4-run inning, getting Tessmann to bounce out to Zitzner. Down 5-3, Garcia and Marsingill hit leadoff singles off the resilient David, who then faced Hennessy trying to bunt and doing so badly enough to get the sluggish catcher thrown out at third base, replacing him with an even worse baserunner at first. When Berto rushed an RBI single through the right side, the wicked Coons sent Pinkerton to pinch-run for Hennessy at second base – and that probably tied the game; after Reichardt lined out, Manny Fernandez singled to shallow left-center, Pinkerton was sent around third base and arrived ahead of the throw, which would never have happened with Hennessy “running”. Zitzner flew out to deep center to end the inning, though, and Rick Vickers’s throwing error in the top 7th allowed Firmino Cambra to score after hitting a leadoff double off Ed Blair. That run was unearned but seemed to stick; David lasted seven innings despite getting flicked for five runs, and a procession of relievers held the Coons to a pinch-hit single by Jimmy Wallace in the bottom 8th. They arrived a run short in the bottom 9th against right-hander Mike Hugh – once a Coons rule 5 pick they returned when space on the roster ran out. Fernandez grounded out, but Zitzner walked. Jennings, now the winning run, singled to right, moving the tying run to second base, where Justin Perkins replaced Zitz as pinch-runner. Up at the plate was also Rich Vickers, the unlikely folk hero, so the park was abuzz with excitement, and the kit delivered, hitting the first pitch by Hugh into the gap for an RBI double. Unfortunately Balado cut the ball off very well and Jennings had to hold at third base. New York went for forces all over, walking Garcia with intent to bring up Marsingill, who ended the game on the very next pitch, shoved past Randy Schuler into left for a walkoff single. 7-6 Critters! Reichardt 2-5; M. Fernandez 3-5, RBI; Jennings 2-5, 2 RBI; Vickers 2-5, 2B, RBI; Garcia 2-4, BB; Marsingill 3-5, RBI; Wallace (PH) 1-1;

This plucky little team! They keep biting back! … also, this was the first decision of the year for Chris Wise, who pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning.

We also had 17 hits in this game. All but the crucial Vickers double were singles.

Game 2
NYC: CF Tessmann – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – RF Reardon – SS Schuler – C Leonard – 3B J. Zamora – P E. Cannon
POR: SS Ramos – CF Reichardt – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF M. Fernandez – 2B Vickers – C Thompson – 3B Marsingill – P Sabre

Despite a Balado single in the second, Sabre faced the minimum the first time through thanks to Marsingill’s quick paw on Chris Reardon’s bouncer that turned into a double play. Portland took a 1-0 lead in the bottom 3rd with an unearned run; Thompson had hit a leadoff single, then was to be bunted over by Sabre. Cambra threw the ball over the head of Hurtado however, and both Critters reached scoring position. Ramos grounded out to second base after that, but Thompson was able to score on the play. Reichardt grounded out to Schuler, leaving Sabre at third base. Raffaello had to return to the mound right away and didn’t fare that well… Tessmann ripped a leadoff double to right, scored on a Hurtado single, and Reardon also ripped a base hit with two outs. Ramos reached out and shagged a Schuler line drive to strand Crusaders on the corners in a 1-1 game.

After rapping out 17 hits the previous night, the Coons were faced with a distinct lack of hits in this game. Through five, their only run was unearned, and they had only three base hits in total. Ramos’ leadoff single in the bottom 6th, squeezed through a diving Zamora, was their fourth. Ramos went on the first pitch to Reichardt, and the Crusaders had been alert and threw him out. That cost a run, given Wallace’s 2-out double later on. Zitzner lined out to Hurtado, and the game remained tied. Sabre held out for seven innings on exactly 100 pitches, but had to be content with a no-decision as the bottom 7th only brought more dire sadness. Top 8th, Anaya faced Jorge Zamora and gave up a 2-2 leadoff single. PH Matt Jamieson hit into a force at second base, but the go-ahead run remained on base. The Coons moved to David Fernandez against the top of the order, but the Crusaders sent all-or-nothing ripper Dan Brown to pinch-hit. Brown sat at .172 with one home run all year. He hit his second on a massive blast to centerfield, and because that had been so much fun Cambra hit another one off Fernandez right away. That pair of blasts served as more than enough to bury the Raccoons, who would only cobble five hits together in the entire game and would not pose a threat again. 4-1 Crusaders. Wallace 2-4, 2B; Thompson 2-3; Sabre 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K;

The Raccoons made a roster move after this game, optioning Preston Pinkerton to AAA to bring Noel Ferrero back from his rehab assignments; Manny Fernandez was not even briefly threatened by removal.

Game 3
NYC: CF Tessmann – 1B Cambra – 2B M. Hurtado – LF Balado – RF Reardon – SS Schuler – C Leonard – 3B J. Zamora – P Benavides
POR: SS Ramos – CF Reichardt – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 2B Vickers – 3B Hawkins – RF Ferrero – C Garcia – P Chavez

Rich Vickers came up with the bags full (Ramos single, Wallace reaching on Hurtado’s error, Zitzner drawing four balls) and one out in the bottom 1st of a scoreless rubber game. He ripped at and missed the first pitch, which I took as a sure sign of doom, and then hit into a double play on the next pitch. I groaned and gurgled badly enough at my desk that Slappy got concerned enough to get Maud to check in on me. When my noises got even worse on Fernando Garcia’s double play bouncer in the second, I reluctantly agreed to a cup of her wicked mindsooth tea, but only half a cup! I still needed room for Capt’n Coma in the concoction…

Sloppy play continued; Chavez threw 43 pitches the first time through, whiffing three and walking two, and then a Vickers error put Tessmann on base. Cambra singled, putting runners on the corners with one out, but the veteran Cambra misread Hurtado’s cracked liner that did decidedly not go over Zitzner’s head, but landed in his glove and had Cambra doubled up when Zitz casually tapped first base with Cambra halfway to second base. Zitzner then added the hurt on the other side of the box score as well, singling home Reichardt with two outs in the bottom 3rd for the first run of the game. Benavides had nicked Reichardt with one out in the inning. Vickers grounded out. Balado doubled off the fence to begin the fourth, and Reardon reached base on a Hawkins fumble, giving New York runners on the corners, at least until Reardon was caught stealing and Schuler lined out to Ramos. Leonard got rung up to end the inning, but Chavez still blew the lead in the fifth when Cambra knocked a 2-out single to plate Benavides, who had hit a 1-out double over the head of Reichardt… Maud, this tea is not soothing my mind one bit. NOT ONE BIT.

Chavez was done after six innings, walking Reardon and Leonard in his final frame, but without incurring more damage. He got no decision, like any other Coons starter in the series. Hennessy sure made a bid for the loss in the seventh, allowing leadoff singles to Benavides – Maud! THIS TEA MAKES ME ANGRY!! – and PH Dan Brown – eh, at least not outta here… - before Cambra hit into a double play. Blair and Perkins entered in a double switch, with the former feeding an easy Hurtado fly to Wallace in left to keep the opposing pitcher from scoring. Balado hit a leadoff single in the eighth, but was thrown out striving to steal second base against Garcia. The Coons took til the eighth inning to get another runner into scoring position, then with a 1-out double Reichardt hit up the line against Benavides on his 105th pitch of the game. Wallace grounded out, but advanced the runner, and then Hurtado missed Zitzner’s fast bouncer that escaped for a 2-out RBI single and Zitz’ 50th RBI. Vickers grounded out, bringing Wise into the ninth, facing the bottom of the order. He walked Leonard, but got a double play bouncer from Zamora. Ex-Coon Matt Jamieson pinch-hit in the #9 hole. The .286 batter hit a hard fly to deep left, but it didn’t quite reach the fence… but the outfielder on watch reached the ball. Jennings had replaced Wallace for D and ended the game with a sure grab on the run. 2-1 Coons. Reichardt 1-2, BB, 2B; Zitzner 2-3, BB, 2 RBI; Ferrero 2-3;

Ed Blair got four outs in relief and earned the win, his seventh of the season, which is more than either Palomares (6) or Rico Gutierrez (3) have at this point.

Interlude: Trade

A starting pitcher would be a logical addition as the deadline approaches, and with our current standing in the North, trading a prospect or two would not be a too stupid move. But here is the problem: very few teams are truly and solidly out of it at this point. The entire FL East is a mess and except for the Rebels everybody still is somehow in the running for a .500 playoff spot, and the Rebels didn’t have anybody we were interested in. The Scorpions were the only team done and through in the West and also didn’t have any SP’s worth trading for. The Loggers’ Josh Long would be an option, but they were not yet believing in the last sermon having been read to them. In the south, three teams were 10+ games out during most of this week. The only starting pitcher there was also one of the most steeply priced in the game.

The Knights’ Mario Rosas had a 12-4 record and 1.84 ERA as well as more than three strikeouts for each walk. The 31-year-old southpaw was making $2.2M but would be a free agent at the end of the year. He was a groundballer and had led the league in homers allowed (24, albeit in 262 innings pitched) in an usual 2032 season. He had only seven dingers surrendered this year, though. Word was that he was dumber than a brittle brick, but as long as he keeps that slider sliding I wouldn’t care. He was apparently also immune to injuries, not having missed a beat since his debut in ’24 (one game) and ’25 (as swingman). A full-time starter since ’26, he had made 33+ starts every year. He was a 2-time All Star (this season and last), but had never led the league in a triple crown category.

The Knights had accepted their fate by now and didn’t see much of a way to extend Rosas past this season either. Whether the Coons could afford the southpaw past the end of his season was as of yet a mystery, but there was enough left in our current budget to accommodate the roughly $900k he was still due this season.

And so, on our off day on Thursday, we acquired 31-year-old SP Mario Rosas (12-4, 1.84 ERA) from the Knights, parting with 19-year-old #34 prospect, Aumsville SS Juan Cerezo.

Scouts were glowing about Cerezo’s keen eye, but nobody really liked his bat. Probably an on-base beast, but he also didn’t have the baserunning instincts required to be a major base stealer. He had some power, but his defense was projected to be average at best. He was a very good prospect – but the time to pounce was now; on Thursday, the Coons were in a virtual tie with the Titans … at least until Adam Potter (11-7, 3.32 ERA) shut out the Loggers on five hits on Thursday afternoon.

Rosas was not right away added to the 25-man roster, because there was an issue with finding a hole in the rotation. Andy Palomares refused an assignment to the minors and had to be dealt with first. This was not a major issue at first; Rosas had pitched on Tuesday and would not be available until Sunday anyway.

Raccoons (55-41) @ Falcons (42-52) – July 22-24, 2033

The Falcons had swept the Critters the first time around this season, which was a stain on our record we hoped to reverse. They had the worst batting average in the league, but would hit for extra bases rather well, plating the eighth-most runs when all was said and done. They also ranked eighth in runs allowed on Friday morning. The rotation was weak and squishy, and a burden on a solid bullpen.

Projected matchups:
Ignacio del Rio (9-6, 3.51 ERA) vs. John Jackson (0-11, 5.29 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-8, 4.22 ERA) vs. Doug Clifford (8-7, 3.58 ERA)
Mario Rosas (12-4, 1.89 ERA) vs. Bryce Sparkes (3-5, 4.72 ERA)

Clifford was the only southpaw to expect; Sunday could also see Mario Bojorques (6-10, 3.93 ERA) instead, but both were righties and both had to pitch on short rest.

Besides SP Aaron Lewis a number of regular position players were on the DL, including Greg Ortiz and Graciano Salto, pulling quite a few teeth from the Falcons’ lineup. They had to fill up the bottom half with Interstate guys.

And if the Coons STILL lost to an 0-11 guy on Friday, everything would have been for the ass.

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – CF M. Fernandez – RF Jennings – 1B Zitzner – LF Wallace – 2B Vickers – 3B Hawkins – C Thompson – P del Rio
CHA: CF Adkins – SS J. Green – C Huichapa – RF Trahan – 1B R. Morales – LF J. Lopez – 3B Westmoreland – 2B O. Aguirre – P J. Jackson

Anticipation in me was high as to what the Raccoons would possibly come up with to not win against a guy coming in at 0-11. Well, they put two on in the first inning before Wallace grounded out to short, and three more in the second, but then Fernandez popped out to short. With that, they had used up all their energy and retreated to the snack bar. Wallace hit a 2-out single in the third, Jennings drew a 2-out walk in the fifth, neither came remotely close to scoring, and while del Rio retired the Falcons in order the first time through, and held them to a single in each of the fourth and fifth innings, it was unlikely that he’d hit a homer to do it ALL by himself… or that he wouldn’t **** up at some point down the road. While the Raccoons *did* score a run in the sixth on a Vickers single and Hawkins’ double into the right corner, ****ing John Jackson himself hit a 1-out triple over the head of Manny Fernandez in the bottom of the same inning and was plated on Travis Adkins’ sac fly, so we were right back even. Top 7th, Ramos singled up the middle to get the inning underway, then zipped to third base on Manny Fernandez’ single to right-center. NOW we’re talkin’! Or maybe not. Jennings hit a comebacker for an out, Zitzner whiffed, and Wallace hit another ****ty grounder to a middle infielder. Ramos was left to rot at third base. In response, the Falcons ludicrously loaded the bases against del Rio on two insanely soft singles dropping just out of the reach of retreating infielders, then a 1-out walk to Jorge Lopez. Gavin Westmoreland, .187 menace, chucked a grounder at Ramos for a double play, though.

Rich Vickers’ leadoff single in the eighth knocked out Jackson, but it looked like reliever Marcus Goode could get out of the inning. Hawkins flew out softly, and Thompson struck out. Del Rio was not hit for – but singled! That brought up Ramos with the go-ahead run at second base. Berto whiffed, and I screamed in agony in the middle of people that weren’t used to my antics. It only got worse; bottom 8th, leadoff single by PH Erik Amundson in the #8 hole. Craig Mack bunted into a force, but then stole second base – his first of the year, of course – then scored on a sharp Adkins single. Del Rio was knocked out and Hennessy ended the inning, but the Raccoons indeed entered the final inning of this game trailing by a run. I was out of my mind. Southpaw Danny Burgess’ leadoff walk to Manny Fernandez offered the whiff of a comeback opportunity, but Reichardt, hitting for Jennings, struck out, and Zitzner popped a ball up for the second out. Jimmy Wallace blooped a single on the first pitch, putting runners on the corners and bringing up Rich Vickers with the game on the line, at which point I accepted my fate. I’d live and die by the god-graced paws of Richard Addington Vickers! He struck out. 2-1 Falcons. Ramos 2-5; M. Fernandez 2-4, BB; Wallace 2-5; del Rio 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, L (9-7) and 2-4;

The only thing keeping me from hijacking the team bus and running over a few of the ****ers as they leave the stadium is the fact that Jackson didn’t get the win. AT LEAST, y’know, they lost to the pen.

Cold comfort.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – RF M. Fernandez – CF Reichardt – 1B Zitzner – 3B Marsingill – 2B Hawkins – C Garcia – LF Ferrero – P Gutierrez
CHA: CF Adkins – SS J. Green – C Huichapa – LF Trahan – 1B Mack – RF J. Aguilar – 3B Westmoreland – 2B Vitale – P Clifford

I didn’t exactly blame Rico Gutierrez for not getting Marsingill and Ferrero in with two outs in the second inning, but I did blame him for a lard-assed breaking ball right in the fat part of the zone that allowed Dave Trahan to hit his 10th dinger of the season and extend a hitting streak to 13 games at the beginning of the bottom 2nd. In the top of the third the Coons got Ramos and Fernandez into scoring position with no outs on two singles and a double steal… and the Coons couldn’t do better than tie. Reichardt hit the run-scoring grounder, but Fernandez was stranded on Zitner’s K and Marsingill’s grounder. The Falcons took the lead right back on straight singles by the 1-2-3 hitters in the bottom 3rd. First, Gutierrez fooled no one, and second, the Coons’ offense was a lame duck…

That didn’t change in the middle innings which featured a whole lot of not hitting on the Coons’ side, who had five hits through six innings and still only one run, and also on the Falcons’ side, but they nevertheless scratched out a run in the fifth to extend the lead to 3-1. Trahan singled, stole second, and scored on Craig Mack’s single, all with two outs. At one point Doug Clifford generated six straight ****ty groundouts to Jay Green in a row, keeping the Coons in check into the eighth, which ended with a K to Reichardt. Right-hander Chris Miller opposed them in the ninth inning. Zitzner struck out. Thompson grounded out to Erik Vitale. Wallace grounded out to Erik Vitale. 3-1 Falcons. Ramos 2-4; M. Fernandez 2-4, 2B;

Oh it’s okay. All will be well now.

Now we’ll give the ball to the newest toy we have. He will pitch a shutout and maybe the Falcons can make four error in an inning…

To facilitate the roster addition, Andy Palomares, who refused an assignment to AAA, was waived and DFA’ed.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – CF M. Fernandez – RF Jennings – 1B Zitzner – LF Wallace – 2B Vickers – 3B Perkins – C Thompson – P Rosas
CHA: CF Adkins – SS J. Green – C Huichapa – LF Trahan – 1B Mack – RF J. Aguilar – 3B Westmoreland – 2B O. Aguirre – P Sparkes

Travis Zitzner’s 1-out, 2-run triple cashed Ramos and Jennings in the opening frame and was quite a sizable relief on my burdened heart. The relief was even bigger when Jimmy Wallace turned on a 1-2 pitch and romped it over the fence in right, giving the Coons a 4-0 lead. 4-0! In the first!! A quick and dirty calculation told me that the Falcons would have to hit for 20 innings against Rosas to score enough runs to get even, so that’s a win, right? That’s a win? Right?

Well, there’s a reason they play these games out, but the first time through Rosas was hardly touchable. He struck out three and allowed only one hit, a Westmoreland single, and that dissolved in a double play grounder off the bat of Oscar Aguirre, leaving Rosas to face the minimum through three innings. Come the fourth, though, Ernesto Huichapa hit a solo homer to left, so the Falcons were definitely not dead yet. With the offense returning to their recent ways of making serial outs, I was left to trust in the savvy of guy that had never pitched to a sub-3 ERA, because that was all I had. He maintained the 4-1 lead through six, and needed only 60 pitches despite whiffing seven, which was surely impressive. The seventh saw Bryce Sparkes move out to 9 K however – and on short rest, AND after a 4-run waffling in the first! – while Rosas allowed a leadoff double to Jay Green. Well, an apt leftfielder might have at least made it close or scared him into a single… However, the next three all made outs. Huichapa popped out to Jennings, Trahan whiffed, and Mack rolled over to Ramos. Berto also opened the eighth with a single up the middle, our first base hit in more than an hour, stole second, and reached third on Huichapa’s throwing error. Manny Fernandez socked an RBI triple past Trahan, was singled home by Zitzner, and now I felt much more comfortable. Wallace dropped in a hit, but Vickers and Perkins made outs to Aguilar in right; but the lead now five with only one more out than that to go for Rosas, who had still to break a sweat worth writing about. Westmoreland singled off him again in the bottom 8th, but never got past first base, and through eight Rosas was on only 84 pitches. He had to run the bases in the ninth solely because reliever Andy Cormier threw his bunt away. Elliott Thompson shoveled to second base on that play, and there was nobody out. Ramos hit an RBI double to center before Rosas had to dash home on a wild pitch. Ramos scored on Jennings’ sac fly, adding three runs for a 9-1 tally in the ninth. The Falcons brought up the top of the order. Adkins flew out to right. Green popped out to Perkins in fair ground after Zitzner had bobbled a pop in foul ground on the previous pitch. Huichapa flew out to Jennings in right to end the game. 9-1 Coons. Ramos 3-5, 2B, RBI; Zitzner 2-5, 3B, 3 RBI; Wallace 1-2, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Rosas 9.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, W (13-4);

Complete game in 95 pitches and it looked rather effortless!

In other news

July 20 – CIN CL Andy Hyden (2-2, 1.90 ERA, 29 SV) *literally* walks off the Capitals to give them a 6-5 win, entering the game to start the bottom of the ninth inning and walking Omar Camacho, Kevin Clark, Kelvin Winborn, and INF Rich Falzone (.271, 6 HR, 36 RBI) to plate the winning run.
July 20 – NAS SP Sean Fowler (6-9, 4.01 ERA) and NAS CL Mike Bass (4-3, 3.97 ERA, 10 SV) pitch a combined 1-hitter against the Buffaloes, but the Blue Sox only win the game by walking off on TOP SP Jose Lerma (6-11, 3.68 ERA) on SS/2B Alex Majano’s (.361, 0 HR, 30 RBI) walkoff single.
July 22 – TIJ SP Steve Gowan (3-4, 6.05 ERA) is out for the season, requiring surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.
July 24 – TOP RF/LF Pablo Sanchez (.285, 0 HR, 24 RBI) will miss three weeks with a strained hammy.

Complaints and stuff

The Coons came up winless against a guy that couldn’t win a consolation price in an elementary school raffle to benefit the local shelter for dogs soon to be euthanized, extending their unofficial winless streak in games against “I can’t believe he’s still in the rotation” pitchers to 389 games on Friday. Color me mildly annoyed – especially with the Titans losing on Friday and a win meaning first place. We grabbed first place anyway because the Titans were swept by the Bayhawks (at home!), but we could have maybe added a game… are the Crusaders coming closer?

Anyway, we’re in first, and I’d like us to stay there, please?

Mario Rosas is the first big trade acquisition for this team *during* a season since… uhm… uh… since… - Maud! – Maud! – I need the yearbooks!

There would be room for one more improvement with a left-handed infielder. The Marsingill / Perkins / Hawkins cacophony is deeply unsatisfying to watch. All three of them had a hot streak at some point; none of them are hitting right now. They are all right-handers, too… Hmm, I wonder what Matt Nunley is up to right now…

Next week, Vegas, baby, then the Thunder at home.

This year’s top pick Mike Lang (#4) started his career 1-4 with a 6.68 ERA in Aumsville and is now suspended for ten games for trying to poke an opposing batter in the eye with his claws.

What would baseball be without “characters”?

Fun Fact: Jon Correa arrived in Portland in July 2028 with an .800 OPS compiled in San Francisco, which he came nowhere near maintaining in Portland.

That was it. The most recent big in-season trade. He got a ring with us. That was five years ago, but it feels like 20. Correa is no longer in the majors, and he’s 40 years old. In fact, neither him nor two of the three players he was exchanged for (Matt Triolo, Omar Millan) have been in the majors this year. Reliever Dan McLin is – but he has a 5.72 ERA for the Rebels.
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Last edited by Westheim; 11-13-2019 at 05:11 PM.
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DD Martin (11-13-2019)
Old 11-13-2019, 08:01 PM   #3022
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Very nice all in move for the SP Rosas. Curious to see if you find that left handed bat before the deadline
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Westheim (11-13-2019)
Old 11-13-2019, 09:22 PM   #3023
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Very nice all in move for the SP Rosas. Curious to see if you find that left handed bat before the deadline
Let's say I have my red eyes on somebody, but the team is resisting.
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Old 11-15-2019, 02:03 PM   #3024
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Raccoons (56-43) @ Aces (36-61) – July 26-28, 2033

Soundly rotten, the Aces were barely scoring 3.5 runs per game, which was of course not an attitude that lent itself to winning much of anything. It was the worst mark in the CL, just like their 4.9 R/A mark was, and their run differential was a whopping -139. They were crying out to be swept. The Coons would have to answer; so far we were 2-1 against Vegas this year.

Projected matchups:
Raffaello Sabre (8-6, 3.20 ERA) vs. Chris Guyett (7-13, 4.69 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (10-4, 3.28 ERA) vs. Josh Weeks (3-13, 5.68 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (9-7, 3.45 ERA) vs. Howard Haws (5-10, 4.05 ERA)

Weeks was their only southpaw, and also the one with the worst ERA. Since both teams entered after an off day on Monday, they could skip him, although it would not get that much better down the road. The next limp arm on deck would be Jamie Klages (0-4, 4.22 ERA).

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – CF M. Fernandez – RF Jennings – 1B Zitzner – LF Wallace – 3B Marsingill – 2B Vickers – C Thompson – P Sabre
LVA: SS Crow – 3B Armfield – CF Stedham – RF E. Martin – LF Montes – 2B Sibley – 1B Carman – C Scheffer – P Guyett

The Coons dared to strand Justin Marsingill on third base after their third-sacker du jour tripled with nobody out in the second inning. At least that move had already plated a pair, Travis Zitzner and Jimmy Wallace having occupied the corners with a pair of preceding base hits. Vickers walked after the Marsingill triple, but Thompson popped out, Sabre whiffed, and Ramos flew out to Andy Montes in left. The 4-5-6 batters all landed hits again with two outs in the top 3rd, but the inning ended with Zitzner being thrown out at home plate by Evan Martin on Marsingill’s single. Sabre did allow any hits the first time through; while he walked Jesse Stedham and Vince Carman, those were either caught stealing or doubled up. Martin landed a leadoff single in shallow right in the bottom 5th, but was doubled up by Montes’ grounder. The lead was 3-0 at that point; the top of the inning had seen Billy Jennings slap a leadoff single, steal second base, advance on Zitzner’s single, and come home on a sac fly by Wallace. The Coons had the sacks full with one out in the sixth then; Thompson had smacked a leadoff double, followed by Sabre flying out to center. Ramos was intentionally walked for the second time in the game; Fernandez had struck out to end the fourth the last time ‘round, but this time singled to left to bring up the thick of the lineup for a slam chance. No slam occurred; Jennings grounded to Ross Sibley, who sniffed two, but so did Manny and took out Andy Crow at second base to break up the play; Thompson scored. Zitzner then grounded out to Guyett, stranding two. The Aces countered with an infield single by Philip Scheffer in the bottom 6th… and then their third double play grounder of the day, Justin Nelson going 6-4-3. Wallace opened the top 7th with a double to center, only to be thrown out at third base in a case of “one bridge too far”, and while I groaned, Sabre seemed to have this one bagged. He retired Vegas in order in the seventh, and in the eighth, and then faced the bottom of the order in the ninth. Carman flew out to Fernandez, now in rightfield, but Scheffer walked in a full count. No drama yet, but Chris Wise started to windmill his front paws in the bullpen. Right-handed batter Danny Beckel pinch-hit in the #9 hole and poked the 1-0 pitch into play. To Ramos, to Vickers, to Zitzner – ballgame! 4-0 Raccoons! M. Fernandez 2-5; Zitzner 3-5, 2B; Wallace 3-3, 2B, RBI; Marsingill 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI; Thompson 2-4, 2B; Sabre 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K, W (9-6);

Second career shutout for Raffaello Sabre! His first – a 5-hitter – had come against the Loggers in May.

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – RF M. Fernandez – CF Reichardt – 1B Zitzner – 3B Marsingill – LF Jennings – C Garcia – 2B Vickers – P Chavez
LVA: SS Crow – 3B Armfield – CF Stedham – RF E. Martin – 2B Sibley – 1B LeClerc – LF J. Nelson – C Scheffer – P Weeks

Bernie Chavez channeled Mark Roberts in the worst way in the Wednesday affair, allowing five hits to the first five Aces that came up, and three of those left the yard as Crow singled, Chad Armfield homered to left, Stedham singled (and was picked off by Garcia), and Evan Martin and Ross Sibley both hit bombs to left. That made for a 4-0 hole and a plus-sized headache. The Coons were doing absolutely nothing against Weeks, who allowed two hits in four innings, while Chavez allowed nine in 3.2 innings, with Stedham’s RBI single to score Andy Crow in the bottom 4th the final nail in the coffin. David Fernandez retired Martin in a 5-0 game that looked very much lost, and I have to admit that I spent much of the middle and late innings on the phone and only paid passing attention to the dismal game in progress. Both teams scored a run in the fifth on three singles apiece, with Anaya cocking up the Aces’ run on a 2-out single by the opposing pitcher. Y’know – that sort of game…

We got nominally close in the sixth on Travis Zitzner’s 15th bomb of the year, a 2-run shot to left with two outs, scoring Fernandez, who had forced out Ramos with a poor grounder. But Anaya had one more right-handed bat to face to begin the bottom 6th, allowing a leadoff single to Armfield. Garavito came on, walked Stedham, got a 1-6-3 double play from Evan Martin, but conceded the Anaya run on Sibley’s 2-out double.

But just as I agreed with my fellow GM, handed our scout his phone back and nodded that “it was on”, the Coons tried one more rally in the top 8th from being down 7-3. Perkins had entered the game in a double switch in the bottom 7th and led off with a single. Ramos grounded near the third base line, unplayable – infield single. Weeks whiffed Fernandez, then got Reichardt to ground to Armfield – but he threw the ball past Justin LeClerc for a 2-base error. Now the soup was steaming – it was 7-4, runners in scoring position, and Zitzner at the plate with one out. And he certainly TRIED to hit that 3-run homer … but struck out. Marsingill grounded out to Crow – and that was the end of the rally attempts; Steve Bailey held them remarkably short in the ninth inning. 7-4 Aces. Ramos 3-4; Zitzner 3-4, HR, 2 RBI;

Interlude: Trade

The original lineup for Wednesday’s game didn’t have Jennings in it; instead, leftfield had been assigned to Noel Ferrero, batting eighth. But Ferrero was a late scratch, and not for injury reasons. While the game was underway*, the Raccoons traded Noel Ferrero (.250, 1 HR, 18 RBI) and recently voided SP Andy Palomares (6-7, 4.94 ERA, 1 SV) to the Capitals for SS/3b Bob Zeltser (.294, 4 HR, 31 RBI).

Zeltser [spelling: just like the second part of Alka Seltzer], 28 and a former #39 pick by the Miners, was an elite-level defender on the left side of the infield, for which there might be a range of applications. He was however also left-handed with the stick, and if the Raccoons needed one thing more like any other, it was a left-handed addition to their weird mix of third basemen, all three of which were right-handed (and don’t ignore Tim Stalker, who when healthy could also play there…). He had hit .300 several times in his career, sometimes even while qualifying for the batting title (but it was hard to win even best infielder on your own team when you’re stuck with Danny Santillano as teammate. He been with Washington since the 2031 season.

And no, the Caps wanted no piece of any of our existing third basemen. Another trade might be in the offing because they are making each other increasingly redundant, and only Marsingill has options.

Manny Fernandez agreed to switch to #27 (which was Rich Hereford’s number) to allow Zeltser to keep his #24. Zeltser was activated in time for the Thursday game and Maud in Portland was scurrying for a major press event on Friday morning, but we were now an outfielder short. I was willing to roll with it for a bit because Marsingill could and would readily play in rightfield.

Raccoons (56-43) @ Aces (36-61) – July 26-28, 2033

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – CF Reichardt – 2B Marsingill – C Thompson – P del Rio
LVA: SS Crow – 3B Armfield – CF Stedham – RF E. Martin – LF Montes – 2B Sibley – 1B LeClerc – C Scheffer – P Haws

Ramos and Zeltser opened the game with singles before the 3-4-5 boys collectively pooped out. Or maybe popped out. My memory is blurred in that regard… Instead Marsingill would open the scoring with a solo homer in the second inning. The 1-0 lead stood through five innings then with del Rio holding the Aces to three hits, while the Coons had seven but kept not hitting in the clutch. Zitzner had two on with one out in the third, but hit into a double play. One run was stranded in the fourth, then two more in the fifth after Ramos had reached on an error, stolen second base, and had reached third on Zeltser’s groundout. Wallace was walked intentionally, forced out on a fielder’s choice, and Jennings popped out. So of course things would all go to **** at once in the bottom 6th. Armfield hit a leadoff single to right, Stedham tied the game with a double to left, and then Evan Martin emptied a 2-run homer, giving all seven Aces fans still awake a 3-1 lead.

The Critters kept plucking the same string into the late innings, putting Zeltser on with a 1-out single in the seventh and stranding him, too. Jennings then hit a leadoff single in the eighth. Adrian Reichardt slapped a 3-1 pitch at the third baseman, but it took a nasty hop off a pebble at the edge between turf and dirt and beat Armfield’s reflexes for a double to left. Finally, a lucky break! Jennings scored in the confusion, and the tying run was at second base with nobody out in a 3-2 game! The situation improved to runners on the corners with a Marsingill single. Manny Fernandez hit for Hennessy and did the bare minimum, getting the tying run home from third with a fielder’s choice to Sibley. He stole second then, Ramos was walked intentionally, and Zeltser grounded out to Justin LeClerc, ending the inning. The Aces put Martin and Sibley on the corners against David Fernandez in the bottom 8th, but Bates arrived in time to whiff LeClerc and get Scheffer to ground out, keeping the game tied.

Wallace made a solid bid for a tie-breaking bomb in the ninth, but the drive was caught at the fence by Martin. The other five outs in the ninth were all sad, sending the game to extras, where Anaya delivered two scoreless frames for Portland while the offense remained meh. Top 12th then, leadoff single for Jennings off Shinsaburo Matsubara, a righty with a 6.28 ERA. Well, will ya, now!? Nope. Reichardt flew out to left, Marsingill got the runner forced out at second, and Thompson grounded out to LeClerc. By the bottom 12th we had to offer up Chris Wise even with no lead on the board. The only other reliever left in the pen was Garavito, who had already logged five outs the previous game. He entered in a double switch with Hawkins, vacating Marsingill and his four hits from the #7 hole, but it was late, and we were running out of strings to pull. Wise had a quick 12th, then a not-so-quick 13th inning. Vince Carman singled out of the #3 hole to begin the latter. Wallace’s catch on Martin in deep left kept the Coons together, and Wise found his way out of the inning. The top 14th was like any other inning, some Coon hit a single (Wallace), then was grievously stranded. They had *16* base hits – and still only three runs. Wise squeezed another inning out of his well-rested arm, but that would be it; his spot was also leading off the 15th, with J.J. Ringland pitching for Vegas after three spiffy innings by the 6+ ERA reliever Matsubara, who now no longer had a 6+ ERA. Perkins walked. Thompson hit into a double play. Hawkins singled. Ramos grounded out. It seemed like they’d be able to do this all night long. The bottom 15th began with Garavito on the mound while Rico Gutierrez jogged out to the pen to get ready. He was the next starter up (although the plan had been to move Rosas ahead of him), but a relief appearance did not come to be. Chad Armfield hit a leadoff triple to right to begin the bottom 15th, and while Garavito struck out Carman, Evan Martin’s single hung the loss on him. 4-3 Aces. Zeltser 3-7; Wallace 3-6, BB; Marsingill 4-6, HR, 2B, RBI; Bates 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K; Anaya 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K; Wise 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K;

Ramos and Thompson went 1-for-7. Zitzner went 0-for-7. The last two both also hit into a gut-tearing double play.

Boys – that was a ****ing **** game! Because you played ****ing ****!!

Raccoons (57-45) vs. Thunder (51-49) – July 29-31, 2033

Arriving home 1 1/2 games up in the North solely because the Titans had managed to get swept in Charlotte, scoring only four runs in the process, the Coons would meet the third-place Thunder to finish July. The Thunder were at 100 home runs, most in the league, but were scoring the fourth-most runs overall because they were not really into hitting for average. Their pitching was pretty much a mess with the second-worst rotation, a dim pen except for last year’s Critter Jared Stone (2-2, 1.55 ERA, 24 SV), and the second-most runs allowed. The season series was even at three.

Projected matchups:
Mario Rosas (13-4, 1.80 ERA) vs. Joe Robinson (8-5, 4.25 ERA)
Rico Gutierrez (3-9, 4.24 ERA) vs. Scott Soviero (4-12, 6.93 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (9-6, 3.00 ERA) vs. Andy Jimenes (5-7, 3.69 ERA)

“Dude” Jimenes was the only right-hander on offer here; the series would start with us facing two southpaws.

Game 1
OCT: RF Celaya – CF Olszewski – 1B D. Cruz – C Burgess – LF Sagredo – SS Serrato – 2B A. Rojas – 3B Becker – P J. Robinson
POR: SS Zeltser – CF Reichardt – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Marsingill – 2B Vickers – C Garcia – 3B Perkins – P Rosas

We were hoping for a gem by Rosas after two lengthy bullpen contributions in the last two days. Things went straight south, however, with Adrian Reichardt hurting himself on a sliding play right on the first ball put in play by Lorenzo Celaya. Manny Fernandez took over. Instead of being thoroughly subdued, the Thunder kept making loud contact. Drew Olszewski singled, Danny Cruz doubled, and Mike Burgess hit a 3-run bomb to stun the living **** out of everybody in attendance. Alex Serrato would hit a line drive single in the inning, but was stranded, and Thierry Becker and Olszewski both hit singles in the second, but were also stranded, bringing the total against Rosas to six hits rather fast. And it only got worse; Burgess and Sagredo hit line drive singles, Alfredo Rojas walked, and Thierry Becker doubled in the third for another two runs. Rosas continued his home debut with a bunt for a double play in the bottom 3rd, and would be excused from further display of inept pitching after five ****ty innings, which was also enough time to give the Coons ample opportunity to scatter four base hits in the most inefficient way possible. Nope, this game was lost, and everybody knew it.

Just when I was ready to consign myself to duty on Capt’n Coma’s mighty sloop, Zitzner teased everybody with a 2-run homer in the bottom 6th. The Coons responded by having Hennessy give up a pair in the seventh, his second inning of work. Danny Cruz hit his 23rd bomb, and singles put Luis Sagredo and Alex Serrato on the corners before Ed Blair took over, but surrendered a 2-out double to Rojas. Sagredo scored, Serrato was thrown out at home, which at least ended the inning and got me one step closer to try and blow my brains out with the blunderbuss. Blair cocked up another run on three base hits in the eighth, and it was an 8-2 game heading into the bottom 9th where the team got everybody’s hopes up at first when Ramos hit for David Fernandez – in his third losing effort in a row – and walked off righty Marcos Ochoa. Vickers singled to left, and Thompson hit for Garcia and hit an RBI double to right, which all occurred with no outs and made the tying run appear as the guy munching a sandwich with a bat over his shoulder on the dugout steps – yes, Bob Zeltser had no issues fitting right in! Perkins slapped a 3-1 pitch past the reach of shortstop Antonio Felicame for an RBI single, 8-4, and that got Jared Stone out in a save chance. He struck out Jennings, but lost Zeltser on balls. Manny Fernandez batted as the tying run, 1-for-4 after technically coming off the bench. He chucked a comebacker at 1-2 that Stone took for the out at home, doubting he’d get two. Manny legged out Burgess’ throw to first. Wallace grounded out to Rojas to complete the team’s third straight defeat. 8-4 Thunder. Wallace 2-5; Thompson (PH) 1-1, 2B, RBI; Perkins 4-4, 2B, RBI;

The Raccoons were now down to a half-game lead again, and also to three functional outfielders, but no satisfying trade could be arranged at short notice and we weren’t into the idea of sending Marsingill (.313, 3 HR, 30 RBI) to AAA to get up something like, well, Ryan Allan?

Preston Pinkerton was not an option – he had hit the DL with a back strain.

Dr. Chung? Dr. Chung!? – Any news on Reichardt? – What do you mean, “it’s hopeless”, and “capitalism has rotted his soul”??

Game 2
OCT: RF Celaya – CF Olszewski – 1B D. Cruz – C Burgess – LF Sagredo – SS Serrato – 2B A. Rojas – 3B Becker – P Soviero
POR: SS Ramos – RF Marsingill – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – LF Jennings – 2B Vickers – 3B Perkins – C Garcia – P Gutierrez

Panic gripped Portland as the Coons tried to stop the bleeding with Rico Gutierrez, which hadn’t been a potent plan since we had only two championships. Bad weather joined the nauseous mix and within an inning, an Alex Serrato homer, and a walk to Rojas in the top 2nd we were in a 40-minute rain delay. Everything was running into the gutter – everything. When play resumed, Thierry Becker singled to left, and the Thunder ended up getting a Celaya sac fly eventually to go up 2-0. While the Coons tied the game in the bottom 2nd on a Perkins homer, the second run was unearned; Jennings had reached on an error by Alex Serrato. Gutierrez walked a pair in the third and surrendered the go-ahead run on a Rojas single that glanced off Perkins’ glove before finding leftfield, and it just wasn’t going to get any better, was it…?

Stupid **** would afflict both teams, though; while on the their own the Critters were inept to take the heat to a pitcher with an ERA near seven, they’d get Perkins on base with a narrow double in right-center, meaning Celaya almost made the catch, but overran the dinker and Olszewski had to pick up the slack behind him. That was with two outs; Garcia was put on intentionally, and Gutierrez hit the most terrible bloop to shallow left, and it dropped *right* on the line for an RBI single, tying the score at three. Ramos drew his third walk of the game, filling the bags, but Celaya had no trouble with Marsingill’s ****ty fly ball, stranding all the runners. Top 5th, Gutierrez had his abdomen semi-surgically opened and all the contents removed by the Thunder, who got Cruz on with a soft leadoff single before with one out both Sagredo and Serrato hit RBI triples over Marsingill’s head. Bates replaced Gutierrez, who was booed by the crowd as he left the field, head hanging, with the TV feed clearly catching somebody screaming “**** stain” at him, and maybe it was me. Rojas scored the runner from third with a groundout, extending the lead to 6-3, and Becker doubled to center, clearing the pitcher’s spot, too. Who wrote this ****ing scouting report that they weren’t ****ing hitting?? It’s the fifth inning on Saturday, and they are on TWENTY-SIX ****ING HITS ALREADY!!??

After another run fell out of Bates in the sixth, 7-3, the Coons saw Perkins draw a walk off Soviero in the bottom 6th. Garcia singled, and when Zeltser came out to pinch-hit the Thunder went for a fresh left-hander in Tony Gallardo. Zeltser flew out to left, but Ramos walked with two outs (tying the franchise record in the process). Marsingill AGAIN was up with three on and two outs… and got nailed by Gallardo. Well, that’s one run. You must hit four more to give us the lead! Fernandez flew out to right, stabbing another knife into my soul. All the losing was bad enough to get Chris Wise engaged in the ninth inning. He hit Burgess, walked two, and allowed a run on a Liam Riley sac fly to blend in seamlessly with the other dismal performers. Bottom 9th, down by a slam, Manny Fernandez drew a leadoff walk off Jimmy Jackson, a right-hander. Zitzner hit into a double play. Jennings singled. Wallace pinch-hit and grounded out to Rojas… and if the Thunder had needed two at that point, they would have gotten two, too. 8-4 Thunder. Ramos 0-1, 4 BB; Jennings 2-5; Perkins 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI; Hawkins 1-1, 2B;

…!

(spins round and round in his office chair, hugging both Honeypaws and a bottle of Capt’n Coma)

Game 3
OCT: RF Celaya – CF Olszewski – 1B D. Cruz – C Burgess – LF Sagredo – SS Serrato – 2B Riffer – 3B Becker – P Jimenes
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – RF Jennings – C Thompson – P Sabre

Celaya hit a soft single, stole two bases, and scored on Cruz’ sac fly to put the Thunder right back on top in the first, and he casually also overtook Ramos in stolen bases for the season. Berto opened the bottom 1st with a single, but was forced out on Zeltser’s grounder before he could even think of getting back even. Jimmy Wallace however walloped a ball over the fence in center, putting the Coons up 2-1 anyway. Sabre didn’t blow the lead immediately, leaving the best, presumably for last, but with Jennings and Thompson on second and first in the bottom of the second inning, and nobody out, bunted into a force at third base. One of those neat tricks to drive the GM nuts, always a classic, too. Ramos grounded out, Zeltser flew out, nobody scored.

It was another wringer game in the sense that everybody watching was put through said wringer, no matter your allegiance. The Thunder got Olszewski on with a 2-out single in the third, and Danny Cruz hit a ball off the fence so hard that the runner couldn’t score on the double. Just when Sabre looked like he’d be toppled now, Burgess miserably popped out, stranding the runners in scoring position. Celaya would almost behead him with a straight shot up the middle for a 2-out single in the fifth, but Sabre held the 2-1 lead together through five, and on only 60 pitches. There was still a chance for a W that would at the same time recover the pen …! …and while insurance runs hadn’t been the Critters’ specialty in a while, maybe Ramos and Zeltser reaching the corners via leadoff singles in the bottom 5th could persuade the middle of the order to get one or both of them home, even if entirely by accident…! Wallace hit an awful roller near the mound that kept Ramos from charging, but Jimenes only got the force on Zeltser and runners remained on the corners. This was true after Zitzner’s pop to second, too. I was banging my fists on the desk in raging fury, and finally willed ****ing Manny Fernandez to snap an RBI single into leftfield, 3-1 …! Slappy had enough of the madness and went to grab a mop and bucket somewhere, and Marsingill struck out to strand another pair.

Top 6th, Sabre rung up Cruz, whiffed Burgess, had Sagredo at 1-2 and nailed him, and then gave up the cushion on a Serrato doubled, also on two strikes. Ben Riffer, an absolute nobody I was now penciling in to drive in the dagger in the ninth, popped out. That inning ruined Sabre’s pitch count, though, and after seven he was at 102. The situation in the pen was really dire and he was sent out for the eighth. Olszewski singled on his first pitch. That should have prompted a reliever to be washed forth from the pen, but didn’t. Cruz singled the runner to third base, and Burgess hit a sac fly to tie the game. A spiritually beaten Sabre was removed for Hennessy, who nailed Sagredo, then was yanked in favor of Ed Blair. Left-handed batter Steve Cutler hit for Serrato, but struck out. Riffer did NOT get a chance to drive in the dagger, with Ruben Orozco batting for him. He, too, fell to 0-2, then mauled a breaking ball in the middle of the plate for a 3-run homer. That was surely going to be the game. While the Coons brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom 8th with Jennings and Thompson on base, Rich Vickers hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3. In the ninth, the tying run was up again, then with two outs (yay, no double play!) with a Zeltser hit and Zitzner getting nicked. Fernandez had been removed in a double switch, so Garavito was pinch-hit for with Justin Perkins against Jared Stone, who missed far outside in a full count, loading the bags for Marsingill. He hit the 0-1 to deep center. But of course he wasn’t going to beat Olszewski… 6-3 Thunder. Ramos 2-5; Zeltser 2-5; Wallace 3-5, HR, 2 RBI; Thompson 2-3, BB;

In other news

July 26 – In the mother of all wicked games, the Knights beat the Crusaders, 8-7, in *20* innings. RF Cesar Martinez (.280, 4 HR, 12 RBI) plates the winning run with a single off NYC MR Matt Holliday (6-2, 5.63 ERA, 1 SV) in the top of the 20th. After ceasing regulation scoring in a 4-4 tie in the fourth, both teams had plated runs in the 13th and 15th innings, but had remained tied throughout.
July 26 – The Scorpions send SP Bryce Neal (6-10, 4.18 ERA) to the Miners for 26-year-old AAA infielder Adam Downs, who has five career homers in the majors in 120 games.
July 27 – One day after his late-late heroics, Atlanta sends 38-yr old RF Cesar Martinez (.280, 4 HR, 12 RBI) and a prospect to the Crusaders for versatile pitcher Erik David (4-4, 2.63 ERA, 18 SV).
July 27 – The Falcons swap CF/LF Travis Adkins (.282, 0 HR, 29 RBI) to the Capitals for INF Omar Camacho (.275, 4 HR, 17 RBI) and a dim prospect.
July 27 – The Loggers send 1B Andy Sears (.281, 9 HR, 44 RBI) to the Stars for OF Nick Baker (.255, 1 HR, 7 RBI).
July 27 – DAL LF/RF Marco Nieves makes his ABL debut in the bottom 10th of the Stars’ 3-2 win over the Capitals as pinch-runner for 1B Daniel Leeder (.386, 2 HR, 17 RBI), and coming from third base gets a frontpage shot immediately when he slides under a diving WAS CL Ruben Vela (2-1, 1.75 ERA, 20 SV) to walk off the Stars after Vela’s wild pitch is returned too late by backstop Nate Evans.
July 28 – The Crusaders pick up SP Jeremy Truett (10-5, 3.27 ERA) from the Canadiens, leaving them with two prospects, including #35 SP Phil Padgett.
July 29 – The Crusaders also acquire SP Francisco Colmenarez (7-10, 3.27 ERA) from the Loggers, parting with three prospects.
July 29 – The Titans split with 1B Justin Uliasz (.234, 8 HR, 45 RBI), who gets sent to San Francisco for MR Alan Mays (2-2, 3.51 ERA, 2 SV) and a prospect.
July 29 – Los Angeles adds SP Alfredo Vargas (6-7, 4.71 ERA) from the Blue Sox, who receive two prospects.
July 29 – The Blue Sox instead grab SP Gabriel Lara (7-9, 3.94 ERA) from the Knights, sending them a prospect in return.
July 29 – In another deal, the Blue Sox snatch veteran LF/RF Doug Stross (.305, 3 HR, 12 RBI) from the Scorpions, parting with four prospects.
July 29 – The Falcons pick up SP John Rucker (8-8, 4.26 ERA) from the Stars in a trade for INF/LF Jay Green (.239, 2 HR, 19 RBI) and a prospect.
July 30 – The Wolves acquire CL Chris Myers (2-4, 3.40 ERA, 32 SV) from the Loggers for a prospect.
July 31 – TIJ RF/LF/1B Willie Ojeda (.306, 7 HR, 46 RBI) enters the record books with a 3-homer game, putting the hurt on the Titans by driving in four runs in the Condors’ 9-1 win.
July 31 – NAS 3B Jim Allen (.367, 7 HR, 77 RBI) slugs two doubles, three singles, and drives in five runs in the Blue Sox’ 15-9 win over the Warriors.

Complaints and stuff

Alright… (is still visibly red in the face) … there were a few losses (is also bleeding from his lower lip) … and we were outscored by a million to one… (has visibly cried) … and maybe if I can get all my ducks in a row I’ll park my car on the freeway on the way home and walk into traffic… (doesn’t know yet that Maud has taken his keys away) … but this was absolutely horrendous…!

Bob Zeltser was *not* the infielder I had my eyes on initially. That would have been Lazaro Hernandez of the damn Elks, but they demanded one of several promising prospects in addition to Palomares, and a promising prospect was not something I was going to leave the damn Elks with so they could torture us with him for the next 15 years… They *did* however try to unload Brian Wojnarowski, who would be an interesting pickup under different circumstances (though filthily expensive), but we really had no use for another lefty outfielder. They would have dealt Wojnarowski for Palomares straight-up.

Zeltser made $1.2M this season; he comes with a contract through ’35 for $1.62M per year. But I hear Valdes would make funds available for a *winning* team so this should not be a problem. Also, Steve from Accounting is currently allocating – dutifully, I must stress – just over $2M to Rico Gutierrez, which will not happen; next season is Rico’s first of two team options.

So that was supposed to be our grand winning move. However, they haven’t done much winning since that deal, have they?? I have invited one of our advance scouts for a little talk about this issue; it’s Thusnelda, our gypsy woman specializing in screening players for curses and other dark inflictions. She is also refusing to take a seat, because her golden earring would otherwise hit the ground. – Thusnelda, I must have answers about Zeltser! – Why does the team suddenly lose to each and everybody? – No-no-no-no-no! Don’t you point your finger at me! – No, don’t talk in Romanian to me either!! – We must fix this immediately, no matter how many kittens it takes!! – Don’t you … don’t you storm out on me!! (storms after Thusnelda, who blends through the door without opening it, both bickering at each other)

(in a corner of the office, Cristiano Carmona sits alone in his wheelchair with a bag of cookies, thoroughly bewildered by what he just saw)

Fun Fact: 21 years ago today, R.J. DeWeese hit for the cycle in the Cyclones’ 8-7 loss to the Warriors.

(opens mouth)

(closes mouth)

*One of my embellishments to liven up the narrative. The trade was actually made before the game.
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Old 11-16-2019, 05:19 AM   #3025
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Local channel WXCP-TV interrupts its tape-delayed coverage of the regional qualifiers in haystack tossing for an important announcement.

“And these news have just reached us out of the headquarters of the Portland Raccoons”, the young announcer of diverse ethnic background (left half brown, right half green) with obnoxiously thick-rimmed glasses declares as the logos of the Raccoons and Condors flash up behind him. “With the Raccoons scheduled to start a 3-game series with the Tijuana Condors in Mexico tomorrow, both teams have also struck a deal just minutes away from the non-waiver trade deadline.”

The desk behind which the announcer sits looks hellishly cheap, too. Just like his pretend-suit.

“According to a report, the Raccoons will take in outfielder Juan Camps, who is batting .260 with two home runs this season, in exchange for last year’s Gold Glove winner Justin Perkins, hitting .250 with four home runs. Both players are 32 years old. The Condors are also said to receive 25-year-old first baseman Ryan St. Pierre out of the Raccoons’ system.”

The announcer looks unsure to the left whether another cue is going to come. Apparently, not so!

“A-and with this we go back to the haystack tossing competition and see whether local hero “Boomstick” Swanson can make the nationals!”

Or we could just call it a night. TV's really gone down the drain since Peach and Goggle brought out their retina-implantent hi-fidelity constant-loop video displays.
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Last edited by Westheim; 11-16-2019 at 05:21 AM.
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Old 11-16-2019, 08:19 PM   #3026
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Raccoons (57-48) @ Condors (58-47) – August 1-3, 2033

If anything consoled me it was the fact that we were 4-2 against the Condors this season and had won last year’s season series, 6-3, so there was something about our team that gelled well against them. Now we just had to break up their top-ranked rotation once more (or rather thrice more) without getting knocked out by the second-best offense in the league. Easy!

Projected matchups:
Bernie Chavez (10-5, 3.52 ERA) vs. Jeff Little (7-3, 3.77 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (9-7, 3.49 ERA) vs. George Griffin (8-6, 3.09 ERA)
Mario Rosas (13-5, 2.01 ERA) vs. Joe Perry (7-6, 3.99 ERA)

Left, right, left, and hopefully win, win, win. That would make this GM very happy. This GM hasn’t been very happy in four, five years.

Did I mention that we were in a 5-game spill (and 6-10 since the All Star Game) and yet BNN still rated six of our players (Bates, D. Fernandez, Garavito, Rosas, Sabre, Wallace) as “hot”?

Game 1
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Hawkins – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Vickers – RF Camps – C Garcia – P Chavez
TIJ: CF C. Murphy – SS C. Miller – RF Willie Ojeda – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – C J. Flores – LF Sung – 2B Hughes – P Little

Little lost Berto in a full count to start the game and the runner would come around to score although not one, but two Critters tried to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Andy Hughes lobbed Hawkins’ bouncer past the reach of Chris Miller though, allowing Ramos to reach third base on Wallace’s actual double play grounder. Zitzner doubled him in for the first run of the game. If only Bernie Chavez would find the way back to being good… the Condors tied the game in the bottom 1st on two pitches; Chris Murphy tripled on the first one, and Miller singled him home on the second one. There was also a long Kevin McGrath double to left that bounced hard off the fence and right to Wallace, leading to Miller’s anchor being thrown at third base, sparing the Coons another run; Jose Flores struck out to leave the runners in scoring position. The second began with a Rich Vickers single, then seamlessly proceeded to Camps hitting into a double play. Ramos hit a 1-out single in the third. Hawkins doubled him up. They were – no **** – driving me crazy.

The double play **** stopped in the middle innings when they simply didn’t get on base at all, but the same was not true for Tijuana. Andy Hughes began the bottom 5th with a single, and while Little struck out on a foul bunt at 2-2, Chavez lost Murphy in a full count and Miller to a single. Three on, one out, Willie Ojeda popped out, but that didn’t make anything easier because it brought up disgusting skunk weasel Shane Sanks (.257, 22 HR, 79 RBI). A mound conference reaffirmed Bernie’s suspicion that he was somewhat dangerous and fooling around was not advisable. Then he threw a fastball down the middle that was turned into a bases-clearing double. McGrath singled him home, 5-1, and Yeong-ha Sung hit a leadoff jack in the bottom 6th to send Chavez to bed. The inning proceeded with a Hughes single that didn’t leave the infield against David Fernandez, who then served up a 450-footer to Chris Miller with two outs. Willie Ojeda doubled off Fernandez, and the **** stain Sanks spanked an RBI double off Nick Bates. The rout was thoroughly on after consecutive 4-spots. The Coons also got a 4-spot… if you count four double plays in a game as that. Vickers hit into one in the seventh. Well, that also took a special collection of players to achieve…! 9-1 Condors. Ramos 2-3, BB; Zitzner 2-3, 2B, RBI; Zeltser (PH) 1-1; Marsingill (PH) 1-1;

As the walls were coming down, at least I could find comfort in being in the land of Tequila, and it was really sold on each and every corner.

(hcks!)

Game 2
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – RF Jennings – C Thompson – P del Rio
TIJ: CF C. Murphy – SS C. Miller – RF Willie Ojeda – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – LF B. Fernandez – C J. Flores – 2B Hughes – P Griffin

Ramos singled, stole second, and was stranded by a lineup that wouldn’t score if the other team would all be passed out drunk (hcks!) in random positions on the field. The day’s first of surely many double plays hit into would be Zeltser’s in the third, getting Ramos in a 4-6-3 inning-ender. At least Berto had already singled home Elliott Thompson from second base; the backstop had opened the inning with a single to Ojeda’s feet and had been bunted over competently by del Rio, which at this point all we could ever hope for. On the mound, del Rio didn’t come apart at first sight, but the same had been true for Chavez on Monday. Chavez had only come apart in the middle innings. Bottom 4th, Sanks, Jose Flores, and Hughes all hit singles to tie the game. HERE WE GO…! Murphy opened the fifth with a double to right, moved up on Miller’s groundout, and scored on Ojeda’s double that Wallace didn’t even get close to. Ojeda stole third base, allowing him to score on the skunk weasel’s groundout, 3-1 Condors after five.

At that point the Coons had three base hits, two of those by Berto. There was NOTHING going for them. This game was a loss, and they’d also lose the next one, and every game thereafter – that much was certain. All was lost. All was forsaken. Hughes knocked out del Rio with an RBI single in the bottom 6th, and Sanks doubled off Anaya and scored on McGrath’s single in the seventh. Their line kept moving; the Coons didn’t even have a line. Griffin lasted seven and a third, and Jose Ornelas and Juan Garcia did the rest to the Coons, who would not get a base hit after Ramos’ RBI single in the third inning. 5-1 Condors. Ramos 2-4, RBI; Thompson 1-2, BB;

After what seemed like forever, Dr. Chung also announced that the weak and corrupted Adrian Reichardt was going to miss another three weeks with a rib cage muscle strain. Off to the DL he was; the Raccoons recalled Sean Catella, the switch-hitting .221 spare part that had not yet appeared for us in ’33.

Game 3
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Marsingill – CF M. Fernandez – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – LF Camps – 3B Hawkins – C Garcia – P Rosas
TIJ: CF C. Murphy – SS C. Miller – RF Willie Ojeda – 3B Sanks – 1B McGrath – LF B. Fernandez – C J. Wood – 2B Hansen – P Perry

Rosas walked the leadoff man in each of the first two innings, but conceded neither run, once getting a double play from Ojeda, and once whiffing two and getting a grounder to Ramos. Berto drew walks his first two times up, was caught stealing in the top 1st, and couldn’t even try for the Fernando Garcia-shaped road block ahead of him in the third. In the latter inning, Marsingill’s 1-out single loaded the bases for Manny Fernandez, who struck out before Joe Perry threw a wild pitch to score Garcia for the first run of the game. Zitzner grounded out, stranding two. Up 1-0 and after not allowing a base hit the first time through, Rosas allowed four 2-out hits in the bottom 3rd. Murphy singled, and when Miller hit a high bouncer for a ground-rule double in left-center that was initially relief because Murphy surely would have scored the tying run on a ball staying in the yard off the bounce. But no – no relief for the Raccoons, ever! Ojeda flipped the score with a single to right, and the skunk weasel also singled, putting runners on the corners before McGrath fanned. The fifth was another one of those maddening innings (like I could get any more mad…) with Ramos hitting a 1-out single to put the tying run on base, and Marsingill hitting straight into another double play, actually their second on the day; Tom Hawkins had found one in the top 2nd, oh lucky us! In turn, Rosas cocked up leadoff singles by Perry (…) and Murphy in the bottom 5th, then conceded a run when he couldn’t whiff anybody with two strikes and the Condors got two productive groundouts. As usual!

And yet in the sixth the game was tied. Singles by Zitzner (of the infield variety!) and Camps (both off Perry) as well as Hawkins and Garcia (both off Robbie Ciampa) brought two runs around before Rosas grounded out to short. The Condors didn’t immediately strike back and the score was level at three after six innings, with the Critters maddeningly out-hitting the Condors, 10-6. Additional offense would have been welcome but was not forthcoming. Rosas scrambled into the eighth where he allowed a leadoff single to Miller, then an infield single to Ojeda. Sanks hit into a double play (!!), which brought up McGrath with two outs and the tie-breaking run at third base. McGrath had struck out a million times in this series, so he’d surely - … dink a single into shallow center to give the Condors the lead. That run was the end for Rosas in particular, and the Raccoons in general. Ed Blair somehow failed his way out of the inning before the Coons faced Ray Andrews (1.66 ERA) in the ninth. Zeltser hit for Garcia and singled to right. Jimmy Wallace hit for Blair and flew out to center. Ramos fouled out. Marsingill whiffed. 4-3 Condors. Marsingill 2-5; Hawkins 2-4, RBI; Garcia 2-3, RBI; Zeltser (PH) 1-1;

The Titans – ferociously – swept the Knights, putting the Coons 3 1/2 games out.

That was it.

All our dreams were dead. Especially since…

Raccoons (57-51) vs. Canadiens (49-59) – August 4-7, 2033

The Raccoons were already reeling and now the dastardly despicable damn destitute Elks were coming in… as well as Nick Valdes. Well, those two curses would have to be dealt separately, with the team trying to somehow, anyhow stop a 8-game string of bleeding, bleeding, and more bleeding, while I tasked Maud with distracting the distracting owner so I could focus on the key elements of being a GM. Drinking myself to the precise point where it all no longer hurt.

The damn Elks were fifth in runs scored, tenth in runs allowed, had a 3-game winning streak, and were doubtlessly going to take us under for good. We led the season series 5-2, but there was no reason not to bank on them leaving town ahead in the contest.

Projected matchups:
Rico Gutierrez (3-10, 4.57 ERA) vs. Fernando Nora (8-7, 3.80 ERA)
Raffaello Sabre (9-7, 3.09 ERA) vs. Matt Tillman (1-5, 3.54 ERA)
Bernie Chavez (10-6, 3.78 ERA) vs. Joe Martin (8-8, 3.31 ERA)
Ignacio del Rio (9-8, 3.60 ERA) vs. Logan Bessey (8-12, 5.32 ERA)

Southpaw at the end of the series; we’d miss their second one, Steve Corcoran (10-11, 3.45 ERA), and also two familiars they had on the DL, 3B Matt Anton and CL Raul de la Rosa. The first one might affect us; the second one would require reaching the ninth inning at least tied…

Toby Ross, exchanged mainly for Fernando Garcia last winter, was batting .273 with 20 homers. The deals I do…

Game 1
VAN: 2B Morrow – 3B McWhirter – CF LeJeune – 1B Lloyd – C Ross – LF A. Torres – RF Wojnarowski – SS L. Hernandez – P Nora
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – CF M. Fernandez – 2B Marsingill – RF Jennings – C Thompson – P Gutierrez

Portland got the early lead, putting their first two batters on the corners with a pair of singles in the bottom 1st. Wallace hit a sac fly, and Zitzner hit into a 5-4-3 double play. Gutierrez was no good, that much was clear right from the start. He walked two in the first, and gave up a double to Alex Torres in the second; Torres, 35 years old, had more at-bats in AAA Drummondville than with the damn Elks due to knee and hand injuries, all requiring rehab stints, AND was batting under .200. Somehow, he was stranded on groundouts. Whatever worked or didn’t with Gutierrez (and few things did), the Critters didn’t expand their early lead, with Zeltser whiffing to waste Berto’s third-inning, 2-out triple, and – of course! – Toby Ross homered the game tied with a blast to left-center in the fourth. At around the same time that Zitzner hit into his second double play of the game to erase Wallace in the bottom 4th, Nick Valdes appeared in my office, having broken free from the tightest headlock Maud had learned during her high school wrestling days. He casually remarked, innocently, that he had *heard* that the Coons had lost a few games here and there. I countered with my most innocent “ho-hum”, then we watched silently at the window for the next inning or two.

Brian Wojnarowski beat Jennings in deep right with two outs in the sixth, doubling home Torres to break the 1-1 tie. Lazaro Hernandez grounded out, and those two runs were all that Gutierrez conceded through seven admittedly muddled innings, but it was also still enough to line him up for his 11th loss. Yeah, he wasn’t pitching like a winner, but he didn’t merit a 3-11 record, either… unfortunately, as Valdes was keen to point out every time a Coon made an out (or two), they still only had three ****ing hits off Nora. It took them until the bottom EIGHTH and the other side of a brief rain delay (baseball gods’ tears of joy, without a damn doubt) to create a vague sense of excitement with Billy Jennings’ 1-out double to left. Thompson grounded out to second; and Tom Hawkins pinch-hit for Bates, but lined out to a leaping Bob Lloyd at first base. The agony was unspeakable, but I didn’t know whether the appalling lack of hitting was worse, or Valdes’ tips and hints that we needed a batter that could get a knock here. At least, following a scoreless ninth by Garavito, we brought the top of the order to bear on righty Ed Miller in the bottom 9th. Ramos grounded out to first. Zeltser grounded out to third. Wallace whiffed. 2-1 Canadiens.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. 9-game losing streak, all was lost.

… and then there was Nick Valdes, having driven home with me and sitting in the chair next to the closet in my bedroom, explaining what I was doing wrong. For hours.

Game 2
VAN: 2B Morrow – SS L. Hernandez – LF LeJeune – 1B B. Lloyd – RF Wojnarowski – C Ross – 3B D.J. Robinson – CF Pohl – P Tillman
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – 2B Marsingill – CF M. Fernandez – C Garcia – P Sabre

To remove some of the agony of being oh so close and never getting there from the Friday game, which took place in fitting gray, moist weather, Raffaello Sabre got shunted for five straight hits by the #2 through #6 batters in the first inning. Three runs scored before Wojnarowski and Ross were stranded on the corners. 3-0 Damn Elks, that should do it. You got any plans for dinner, Valdes? Dinner would have to wait, though. There was an 80-minute rain delay in the bottom 2nd, which surely would have ****ed Sabre completely if he hadn’t been already. The delay took place with Jennings and Marsingill on the corners and one out. When play resumed, Fernando Garcia chucked into a 6-4-3 double play. There were no words to describe my pain.

Neither pitcher retired somebody in the fourth on accounts of ill weather, but Sabre DID manage to hit a leadoff double in the bottom 3rd and then be stranded by the top of the order. Holding on to faint, false hopes with one hand and a botte of Capt’n Coma with the other, I tried to find a straw in the fact that our pen was much better than theirs. Bottom 4th, righty Raymond Pearce allowed a leadoff walk to Zitzner, then a single to Jennings. Marsingill popped out, Fernandez flew out to left, Garcia flew out to center. There was no hope. There was only getting humped into oblivion by the devilish, dastardly, devious, damn ****ing ****stain Elks.

Jesse LeJeune’s homer off David Fernandez in the fifth made it 4-0, and I tried to make Valdes stop walking in circles around my desk, bickering, to no avail. Bottom 5th, Camps walked leading off in the #9 hole. Ramos whiffed, but Zeltser singled to cent- WHAT THE **** are you DOING??? Camps didn’t stop at second and ran into a rundown between Hernandez, D.J. Robinson, and Eric Morrow. Wallace drew a 2-out walk, but for consolation purposes the groundout that Zitzner hit into would have been well enough for Morrow to turn a 4-6-3 even without Camps’ stupidity. And when the Coons didn’t do something stupid, and whether Valdes was wearing out the carpet or not, defensive heroics were also up for grabs to save the ****ing Elks. With Camps and Ramos on base in the seventh and one out, Zeltser’s liner to left was caught by LeJeune in a headlong dive, robbing the Coons of extra bases and probably two runs. Rich Vickers hit for Anaya in the #3 hole… and struck out. Nobody scored, ever. Well, except for D.J. Robinson and Pat Pohl in the ninth, on the strength of the latter’s homer off Chris Wise. 6-0 Canadiens. Wallace 1-2, BB; Camps (PH) 1-2, BB; Anaya 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

10 straight losses, 24 runs scored in those ten games. Says Valdes, every two minutes.

I wish I was a bird, and could just fly away from this ****… maybe add some of my droppings to the Northwest’s largest toilet of swirling oblivion on my way out.

Game 3
VAN: SS L. Hernandez – 2B D.J. Robinson – 1B Lloyd – RF Wojnarowski – C Ross – 3B M. Cole – LF A. Torres – CF Pohl – P J. Martin
POR: SS Ramos – 3B Zeltser – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – RF Jennings – C Thompson – 2B Vickers – CF Catella – P Chavez

Zeltser and Wallace went to the corners with a pair of singles in the bottom 1st, and Travis Zitzner reliably hit into an inning-killing, soul-suffocating double play. Chavez then tried to have a meltdown in the second, which shocked nobody anymore. Toby Ross, the dismal ****er, led off with an infield single, and Chavez walked Mike Cole and nailed Pat Pohl … and the last one on a 3-0 pitch. Three on, one out for the pitcher, at least until the second pitch went way past Thompson and to the backstop. Wild pitch, 1-0 for the other team. What a revelation! Martin wouldn’t get the runner in, which would have been preferable – stick the dagger in early, have it all be over. Lazaro Hernandez flew out to Wallace to strand two. To my great surprise, the Coons tied the game in the bottom 2nd on hits by Thompson and Vickers (remember him?) and Sean Catella’s groundout, but then just let it all be and refused to do any more.

The innings came and went in a triste 1-1 game, while Valdes recited every single good ABL player and his statistics to me that he could find on his foldout pocket computer. The bottom 6th saw a leadoff single by Wallace, bringing Zitzner up in the perfect double play spot. Except, that he hit the ball over the far, far away fence in leftfield, then didn’t know what to do. The home plate umpire pointed him the way to first base and where he had to go from there on his 17th homer, his first in an eternity, and the one that put the Coons up 3-1. Chavez got only one out in the seventh from Martin before Hernandez singled on his 108th pitch, signaling bullpen involvement was coming. Garavito replaced him and rung up both Robinson and Bob Lloyd, as well as Wojnarowski to begin the eighth. Bates got Ross and Cole, and the Coons would maybe get their closer involved WITH A LEAD…! Was this even possible? The bottom 8th was sad, and Wise inherited the 3-1 lead in the ninth, facing the bottom third of the order. Torres struck out. Pohl grounded out to Marsingill on second base. Bill McWhirter singled to center. Pressing our pointy black noses against the big window overlooking the field while embracing each other in a panicked frenzy, me and Valdes saw Hernandez come up, .276 with six homers. He poked a 1-2 pitch to left… and Wallace made the easy catch. IT WAS A WIN…! (breaks into tears) 3-1 Coons …! Wallace 2-4; Zitzner 1-4, HR, 2 RBI;

After receiving congratulations on his wise guidance to this ecliptic victory, for which he alone deemed himself responsible, Nick Valdes bade farewell to fly to San Francisco where he planned to replace the Golden Gate Bridge with a more modern and stylistic structure. I did not point out that the Coons had played .333 ball in his presence, because worst case scenario was that would make him stay…

Game 4
VAN: 2B Morrow – 3B McWhirter – LF LeJeune – 1B Lloyd – RF Wojnarowski – C Ross – SS L. Hernandez – CF D.J. Robinson – P Bessey
POR: SS Ramos – 2B Hawkins – LF Wallace – 1B Zitzner – 3B Zeltser – RF Camps – CF Jennings – C Garcia – P del Rio

The Elks hit three hard singles off del Rio in the first to load the bases before McWhirter, Lloyd, and Wojnarowski were all stranded on Toby Ross’ lineout to Hawkins. The Coons did get a run in the bottom 1st; Ramos singled, Wallace was nicked, and Zeltser landed a 2-out RBI single. Camps grounded out to end the frame. Del Rio made an error and bunted into a double play in the second, and when Ramos drew a leadoff walk in the third, Hawkins forced him out. It was still a team that was horrendous to watch, even on a 1-game winning streak. Wallace singled, Zitzner singled, and the bases were loaded with one out for Zeltser, who hit a sac fly to right; Wojnarowski had for long been a threat with the stick (and hit a 430-footer to begin the fourth), never with the arm, and Hawkins scored easily. Camps grounded out, stranding two more. Fernando Garcia countered the rightfielder’s solo shot in the top 4th with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the same inning, keeping it a 2-run game. Wojnarowski came up in the fifth, unfortunately, with two out and two on; him and del Rio ran the count full before Wojnarowski looked at what he deemed ball four – but the ump disagreed and punched him out to completed five innings of 7-hit ball for a wonky del Rio.

Coming up with Wallace and Zitzner on the corners and one out in the bottom 5th, Zeltser hit another sac fly, this time to deep left, 4-1. Camps for once was not entirely useless and instead singled. Jennings walked, bringing up Garcia with two outs and a full plate arranged for him. He also ran a full count, then flew out to Wojnarowski. Toby Ross countered with his 22nd homer, a leadoff jack in the sixth, further raising my blood pressure AND alcohol content. Somehow, del Rio lived through six on 97 pitches, but was pinch-hit for as his spot was due up to begin the bottom 6th. This time the Critters countered; Marsingill singled in the #9 hole, moved up on Ramos’ groundout, did not move up on Hawkins’ fly to center, but scored when Wallace – unretired – singled to right, 5-2. Zitzner whiffed.

Anaya maneuvered the Coons through the seventh, but David Fernandez bled singles to Ross and Hernandez in the eighth. Right-hander Tony Hinojosa pinch-hit with two outs in the #9 hole, prompting a double switch that put Ed Blair in the #7 hole and Manny Fernandez in center. Wise had seen that ugly long inning on Friday and had been out two days in a row, and the goal was for Blair to pitch a 4-out save. He allowed an RBI single on the first pitch he threw before Morrow popped out to strand the tying runs in the eighth. While Portland did nothing in the bottom 8th, Blair started the eighth with two groundouts, then faced Lloyd ... and took him apart on three pitches. 5-3 Coons. Wallace 3-3, RBI; Zitzner 2-4; Zeltser 1-2, 3 RBI; Camps 2-4; Garcia 2-4, HR, RBI; Marsingill (PH) 1-1; del Rio 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, W (10-8);

In other news

August 1 – The Buffaloes beat the Stars, 1-0, on a sixth-inning home run by 1B Ruben Santiago (4-for-7, 1 HR, 1 RBI).
August 2 – Pacifics and Rebels poke away at each other futilely for 15 innings before RIC 1B Brent Rempfer (.218, 12 HR, 53 RBI) ends the spectacle with a walkoff single in the 16th, scoring Ben Freeman (.289, 4 HR, 25 RBI) against LAP MR Joe Moore (2-2, 3.60 ERA, 3 SV) for a 1-0 Rebels victory.
August 2 – The Pacifics-Rebels game above is also one of five walkoff victories in the Federal League that day, with Miners, Cyclones, Buffaloes, and the Blue Sox also celebrating walkoff wins; all but the Miners even also do so in extra innings. The only non-walkoff game is the Capitals’ 7-2 win over the Gold Sox.
August 3 – A triceps tear renders LAP SP Jorge Beltran (10-7, 3.26 ERA) out for the season.
August 6 – ATL SP/MR Chris Cooper (3-3, 2.14 ERA) spins a 3-hit shutout of the Falcons, a 6-0 Knights win, in only his third start of the season. He appeared I relief 28 times.

Complaints and stuff

…and yet, we survived. Our season, though, probably hasn’t. Neither offense nor pitching was great the last two weeks, but the former would be the worst offender. I don’t know… sometimes it’s like the entire team is just too engorged to do any sort of hitting. And by the way, Slappy, what’s up with that gnawed-off elephant carcass behind the ballpark and when can I expect you to remove it?

We have the highest batting average as a team in the CL, but nothing much is coming from that. The boys aren’t walking (6th in OBP) and are also only average in runs scored. In fact, except for batting average and hits, the offense is VERY average indeed. I also thought we’d be better than eighth in stolen sacks…

Mark Roberts of the Warriors won another Pitcher of the Month crown in July, going 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA for Sioux Falls. He is 12-4 with a 3.08 ERA overall this year at age 38. The Coons wish him all the best in his pursuit of autumnal glory, as long as he doesn’t beat us in the World Series. (snorts)

One prospect that has not been much written about that we should shed a dripping eye on is Tony Morales. The Dominican catcher, who hits from the left side, was signed in the 2030 IFA period at a cost of $95,000 and was promoted to Aumsville just ahead of his 19th birthday this year. Since then all he’s done is drumming pitchers. He hit .314 with seven homers with the Beagles and was moved to Ham Lake after the draft. There, he’s .270 with three homers, but also 15 doubles in 36 games, good enough for a .460 slugging percentage. I think he should stay at this level for a bit. Behind the dish he is not an exceptionally good catcher, but I hear hurlers like to toss the ball to him and he is agile enough to stop some wayward offerings. His throwing arm is probably about average. We will keep watching him more closely going forward!

Next week: three at home with the Loggers, then a quick weekend trip to Dallas. After that we’ll have a 2-week homestand with some good teams coming in, including the Crusaders and Bayhawks. The Titans aren’t back on the menu until September.

Fun Fact: Ruben Santiago, 34, who hit the sole-score dinger to beat Dallas on Monday, is a former Raccoons farmhand and a former #15 overall pick.

Like all the first basemen we have futilely drafted over the years, Santiago never worked out to our liking after being selected in the first round in 2017. Four years after we traded him, he was shipped out, along with Tadasu Abe, Danny Margolis, and Adam Zuhlke to gear the Coons towards the future. From the Blue Sox we received in this trade Billy Brotman and Tim Stalker!

Santiago made his debut with the Blue Sox in ’22, and remained their starting first baseman for a few years in the late 20s, but slid into a reserve role recently and was AAA backup for Topeka for most of the last two seasons. He posted an .878 OPS (.335, 19 HR, 96 RBI) in ’27, by far his best season. For his career he is .279 with 107 HR and 487 RBI.
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