Winter Meetings, Off-Season Frost

pittsburgh NABA

The first round of Winter Meetings will take place Sunday November 23rd, at noon.

Sunday, November 23rd.

here is the official transcript of the email the league president sent to team representatives and other interested parties.
I have to work all day and can’t make it.

12:00 (noon) – 1:00pm – Be on Time, and we leave on time. I’m starting at noon!
Dave Kirilloff’s Baseball Training Academy

6522 Steubenville Pike
Pittsburgh, PA 15205

412 788-7800
Agenda:
  • Open 2009 Executive Positions
  • 2009 Budget Information
  • 2009 Permit Information
  • Announcement of Winter Indoor Partnershipss & League Discounts
  • 2009 Divisional Format Discussion / League Growth (45 minutes)
We will wrap this discussion in January of 2009, when I will make my final decision on this. This is the meeting to attend to get your thoughts and opinions heard!

A solid idea for realignment was proposed by Ben Sorosky, of the expansion Gray Bats.
His idea was just to keep everything as it is, (no A and AA divisions) but to simply pull all the team names out of a hat and align the divisions accordingly. Sounds good to me, no hurt feelings and it would give every one a chance to play some different teams more often.

The Reality of the situation is the best way to level the playing field would be to put all the league’s players in the free agent pool and have a draft among the team managers, perhaps protecting a few players on current rosters like the expansion draft. This would never fly, though. I (and I’m sure I’m not alone here) wouldn’t want to lose the teammates I’ve had for the past few seasons, and OwlZ manager, Rob Cool would probably shit himself if his roster of Mexican Winter League players, and local American Legion all-stars was compromised.

For better or worse, recruiting, and luck (in drafting unknown players, or in running into a random guy who used to pitch in the minors) are as imprtant as anything and managers and teams that are the best connected to good players have the most success. This greatly impacts the experience of new players entering the league, guys who want to play are randomly placed on a team and how well their abilities and outlook on the game mesh with that of their coach and teammates dictates how much they enjoy the league.

It’s important everyone is on the same page, not everyone wants to win at all costs, and not everyone wants to take a turn on the bench in the name of getting all the players in the game some of whom may not be very good, but deserve every opportunity to play.

Managers need to communicate with incoming players to make sure everyone is satisfied with the direction and make-up of their team.

There will be teams that don’t have a chance of winning their divisions, or a championship because they simply don’t have the firepower. The Ducks were in this situation for a couple of years and it was brutal.

Anyway, the league is in the best shape of its life, and I’m glad to be a part of it. To have been around from its inception and see it flourish around me has been somewhat surreal.

I still think it is important to cater to the players who wouldn’t be able to play anywhere else, mostly because of my own situation and increased responsibilities which do not allow me to practice as much as I’d like. I’ve always been a grinder who has relied on working harder, and playing harder than anyone else to succeed. I can’t control my natural abilities or lack thereof, but I can control how hard I work, how many reps I take in the cage, etc.–That’s my cliche for the day.

Sarah Connor Chronicles Update…

I love Sci-Fi and Satire, and time travel stories, the Terminator Series is wonderful in its almost campy perpetuation of the Terminator story, which acts as if the ill-advised terminator III movie never occurred.

Anyway, after a solid first season, the plot has slowed to a crawl. John Connor is about to have sex with the hot, female terminator, and the episode two weeks ago that attempted a rather po-mo, Pulp Fiction-esque story telling of a trip to Mexico of whatever it was, didn’t quite work.

Things better start coming together; what’s up with that chick form the future who is probably a saboteur, and is doing John’s uncle from the future. How long before the ex-FBI agent realizes the red head is a robot, and why all the dream sequences, seriously.

The last six episodes seem to be recycling the obvious theme of blurring the line between the robots and humans, and John Conner’s coming of age story and his struggle to be a normal kid and the savior of the world at the same time. I get it, now perpetuate the plot in a timely manner if you please.

Anyway,

I’m reading Something Happened, by Joseph Heller. It is terrific.

Quack, Quack.

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Fall Ball Over, Opening Day 5.5 Months Away

pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

The PIttsburgh NABA’s Inaugural Fall Ball season ended on a cold Saturday Morning when the Pitt Louisville game, dreary weather and whatever else prevented a full-scale all star extravaganza from materializing. Pie Traynor Field was, however, impeccably, manicured before a final round of batting practice was held for the ten or so players who braved the elements to take the field for a final time in 2008.

It should come as no surprise that the 2008 Fall Ball season provided a good jumping off point for future Fall Ball sessions, and served as a forum to introduce a number of new players to the Pittsburgh NABA.

In the grand scheme of things the most important functions of the fall season is to improve and expand the league for the summer, and of course to give us a chance to play baseball for two more months.

I know the Ducks will benefit from key additions via the Ghostbusters, and two or three gauranteed wins against Larry’s Gray Bats team, who, for Josh Gibson’s sake, should just call themselves the “Grays”

The league continues to grow despite the leadership of Joe Graff, who works year round conceiving ways to rig things in favor of the Bulldogs.

The reality of the state of the league is it is expanding rapidly, and Graff works harder than anyone to keep it running as well as it does.

The Winter Meetings are the next order of business.

I assume a handful of new teams.
Names of teams that could be
The Grays
anything after a seemingly benign animal, ie. the Cows.
Why is there not a team named the Bears, or the Bulls?
The Union
The Blue Sox or the Green Sox
The Athletics, (were it not for just Ducky Tours, we’d be the South Oakland “Athletics” )
But more likely there will be more overly aggressive misspelled team names ripe for satirizing, which will be much more fun.
It’d be great if an expansion team called itself the “Phillies”.

I’m fairly certain one of the over 28 league teams will join our league.
The idea of “un-affiliating” our league with the NABA has been kicked around, the only thing that stand in the way of this is the dirt cheap insurance we get through the national office, adn the promotion and recognition we get through our affiliation, concerning the Blues participation in national and regional tournaments.

We’ve been tossing around the idea of hosting a tournament in Pittsburgh this summer.

The biggest topic will be realignment.
How can the league be promoted as one which gives everyone and anyone the chance to play (which we should never lose sight of), while maintaining a high level of play amongst the top-tier teams like the Ducks.

We don’t want to push anyone away; not the guys at the top end of the spectrum who play in college, and not the guys at the low end who just want to play real baseball, but can’t catchup to a pitcher like Strom who throws meatballs. (we’re at that point right Strom? where we can joke about this? You’ve struck me out in the past, and made me look bad at the plat on several occasions. )

I ask anyone who attends the meetings in the upcoming months to consider what is best for the league, not simply your team, and most certainly not yourself in particular.

I see the greater danger being the potential exclusion of players who are bad, but love the game and aren’t offered the opportunity to improve, and a left with a bad taste in their mouth when they are suddenly erased from the email list, after going 0-5 and making an error in right field, and are forced into slow-pitch softball purgatory.

A split into A and AA divisions seems to make sense, maybe the last place AA team moves down every year or the winner of the A league moves up. An unbalanced schedule in which teams play inter-division teams once, and intra-division teams two or three times would work. The division champions should surely play each other in the post season. So if based on last season’s winning percentage, a team is placed in the lower division, they can show they don’t belong by winning that division and losing to the Ducks in the finals.

More as it comes. The blog will surely devolve into mush between now and the second winter ball session, hopefully the Blues can get ourselves together for the Citrus Classic and produce another strong showing.

An early morning interlde into the time machine

pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

OK it’s the future, the summer of 2009, and the Gray Bats have just been swept by the Ducks.

That’s about it.

Back into the phone booth/delorian/weird bicycle like machine from H.G. Wells’ book.

It is the present again.

For the record, I’ve never tried to take a player from another team. I was approached, (after the Ducks took two of three from the Rakers last season) as Ducks team blogger and founder about the availability of two spots on the roster for pitchers Jeremy Barchie and Ben Sorosky.

They’re two of the top five pitchers in the summer league so of course I said we’d find room. Barchie was adamant about leaving the Rakers for his former team, the Ducks, Sorosky seemed reserved never committing entirely.

Now Sorosky has claimed allegiance to the Gray Bats expansion team for this summer, and I imagine he’s already contacted his pal Jeremy Barchie about forming a formidable top of the rotation for manager Zalewski.

Larry, why not just be the “Grays”? it would be a wonderful tribute to the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues. And if your team is all white guys, it would be great irony.

Best of luck in the Summer or 2009, Gray Bats, may you win all of your games not versus the Ducks, when Barchie no-hits you on his way to the 2009 Pittsburgh NABA Cy Young Award.

The ducks have three no-hitters in team history, all by Ian Dickman.

Also, I have no ill-will towards the owlz, aside from their use of the letter “z” and the fact that they are champions and I have been waiting for five years to get the trophy back to South Oakland. I disagree with some of Rob Coolz methods, (the incessant recruiting of other team’s stars, and the scouts he has sent to the Mexican Winter League and every American Legion team in a five twp. radius) but you can’t argue with the results, they are the champions and they earned it.

2009 is the Ducks’ year.

Hats off to the Gray Bats: Guest Blog, by Fall Ball Champion of the Universe, Larry Zalewski

pittsburgh NABA

The game’s actual score : Gray Bats 9, Ghostbusters 8

***

By Larry Zalewski, author of Gray Bats Fall BallBlog…

A game for the ages. Where do I begin? Let’s just say that the second at bat of the morning set the tone for the day. Larry Zalewski’s sure-hit line drive grounder was somehow retrieved by SS Tony Casale, who threw to first for the out. Personally, that was one of the best defensive plays I’ve seen all year. That is, until Casale did an encore a few innings later on a ball hit by Rich (%$&!@##$%!) Ament. Anymore thefts like that at shortstop and I was ready to call the County Police . In any event, this was an exciting nail-biter from beginning to end.

The Ghostbusters has a good team pitching effort by Smith, Schwartz, then Ron Kuhns, while the Gray Bats again relied on their workhorses BJ Rankin, who pitched innings one through four, and “barely-legal” rookie phenom Ben Sorosky.

The Bats were held without a run, until they scored one in innings three, four and five. The floodgates opened in the sixth when a Zalewski double scored Graff and Sorosky. The game went back and forth until the top of the final inning. Spicer singled and stole second and third. Graff and Zalewski walked. BJ Rankin and Brian Slavicek doubled and singled respectively, with Rankin scoring the winning run on a rare mishandled ball by CF Ben Gwin. The morning sun was hidden most of game until the late innings. Unfortunately, the sun seems to rise from directly behind home plate. A major goof in the design of the field, I guess. But probably nobody expected games to be played there at 9 am in November.

Memory is failing me now a bit, but this game had a fair number of oddities. Ben Sorosky hitting Ghostbusters starting pitcher Smith on the bill of his helmet early in the game gave everyone a scare. Later, pitcher Ron Kuhns’ throw plunked Larry Zalewski in the helmet when diving back to first base, rendering him dazed and confused enough to call for a pinch runner.


Both teams played with inspiration and guts. It was a battle that one team had to eventually win. Luckily for the Gray Bats, losers of four straight until this game, they were on the winning side.

A hard fought victory.

***


One more time…


  • Barely legal indeed.
  • Good game.
  • Eric Lee stole home on a past ball despite the short backstop
  • I got another cheap RBI off Sorosky, on a flair to center
  • Vinny Gala was the Ghostbusters’ most consistent hitter this fall, he had three RBI vs. the Gray Bats, I think
  • This was the best I’ve seen Adam Smith hit in two years
  • I went 0-15 against Rankin this fall
  • 5-12 against everyone else
  • Dr. Venkman, have you ever discussed the Big Lebowski in your class?
  • To my five readers, feel free to leave comments about what non-pittsburgh naba filler you’d like to see in the blog during the off-season, I can probably throw together two-three posts a week until Ducks’ season.
  • The Blues are still working on fund raising, and rounding out the roster for the Florida Citrus Classic Jan 17th-19th
  • I’ll have a fall ball/ghostbusters season recap probably a couple days after the all-star game
  • I’ll have updates on the winter meetings, and such…
  • Vote, today

Busted: Gray Bats 7 Ghostbusters 6

pittsburgh NABA

I’m not even sure of the final score, but we lost by one run. I wagered the right to write the recap on the losing team’s blog with Larry, so he will get me something later which I will read, then vomit, then post on the blog. I did not expect the loss to sting so much, I’m upset the Ghostbusters were deprived of another meaningful game.

Schwartz was out late partying with this guy.

Dr. Venkman had to talk me down off a ledge after the game which I brutally mismanaged, we could have won if I came up with a shallow fly to center which I dove and missed. The sun hid behind the clouds for the whole game, except for one play when it blinded me and a routine fly ball fell within my reach.
We still could have won, but I could have put us in a better position. I’m so upset I’m writing in first person. We lost to a pair of phenomenal pitchers, BJ Rankin and Ben Sorosky. The Bats beat us, and went on to win the Chapionship. They deserve the victory, and the hypothetical trophy.

The Crush had the best offensive lineup 1-9 and Necheff and Guthrie were two of the better pitchers this fall. When the Bats added Sorosky at the deadline to compliment BJ Rankin, who was originally a Ghostbuster, they suddenly had the best one-two punch on the hill. I still think the Ghostbusters were the best all-around team this fall. We deserved better.

Ray Parker Jr. leads the way

I did not plan on participating in the second game of the day, but when I saw Craig Boley umpiring and catching for the Gray Bats, I had a flashback to 2003 when that sort of thing happened almost weekly, and I decided to stick around and get behind the plate for the Bats. It was a pleasure to catch Rankin, who pitched nine masterful innings, after throwing four in the semi-finals, and won the Championship for the Gray Bats.

OC, catcher Joe Graff (left) and BJ Rankin (right) helped the Bats defeat the Ghostbusters in the Wild Card Playoff.

If Larry doesn’t give significant credit to Schwartz and Eric Lee, and I guess myself for sticking around and helping secure the Bats the Fall Ball trophy, it will be tragic. Schwartz threw the potential winning run out at the plate from right field, I caught the one hop throw, blocked the plate and applied the tag on the runner who did not slide. I finally got a hit off Necheff, in the top of the ninth to load the bases, and Schwartz scored the winning run on Rankin’s fielder’s choice. I don’t think Necheff allowed an earned run, the Crush defense was shaky.

My fall awards: MVP: BJ Rankin, CY Young: Christian Necheff, Gold Glove Award: Tony Casale.

The Fall season was a success, but came to a bittersweet end, for the Avalon Ghostbusters of the North Hills. I would be honored to manage the team next fall, and I hope to retain the same core group of players.

The Fall Ball season concludes this Saturday at 10:30 am at Pie Traynor Field with the All-Star Extravaganza. All the Ghostbusters have been placed on one of two teams, and we will play a nine inning game for fun, baseball is fun.