Pre-Playoffs Pittsburgh NABA Round-Up

2019 South Oakland Ducks, NABA, pittsburgh NABA

Ducks Regular Season Recap

Overall we had a solid year. We won and lost a few close, low-scoring games. The losses to the Eagles and D2 are frustrating, but that happens. Everyone in AA has at least one good arm who is capable of shutting down a team, and we weren’t able to overcome that a few times this year. Records aside, there aren’t any easy teams to beat this year.

Our pitching and defense were statistically the best in AA. 65 runs allowed is a good number. We set team records for single-season shutouts, saves, and runs allowed.

We usually put up more runs, but I think we faced a lot of teams number one pitchers, and we also ran into a few junk ballers who kept us off balance. Typically, we do better against fast pitching, but that’s not exactly a secret. So bring on your crafty lefties in the playoffs. Hopefully we can adjust.

We also had a few guys who took a year off last year who didn’t round into form until late in the year. I also batted eleven guys more this year than in the past, which took some at bats away from the guys at the top and the middle of the lineup. I probably cost us at least one win here, but I got everyone at least 2 at bats per game on average, which I feel is giving everyone their money’s worth while still trying to win.

16 wins is good. I’m a believer in the last ten games being the best indicator of how a team is playing, and we have won nine of them. Hopefully the time off is good for us and we don’t lose any momentum going into Saturday. D2 has a shitty record, and a bad run differential, but they beat us twice and we had a tough time against a couple of their pitchers.

Around the Pittsburgh NABA

In approximate order of news-worthyness..

Here’s a link to the Cranberry Crusaders’ website. Solid work over there. It’s much more fun to write recaps when you’re winning. I assume Andy will post something inflammatory before the playoffs start. Keep an eye out for that bulletin board material. It’s interesting to read through their posts from this year and see the tone shift from cautiously optimistic to confident. Congrats to Cranberry on a good season.

The Wolfpack literally quit this season. What a joke. West View folding for the second straight year hurt us this time, as we don’t get a team coming off a play-in game. They should be voted down to single A, and forced to add free agents to their roster to avoid folding for a third straight year.

The Bandidos and Eagles, 2017 finalists, both have a bad record. It won’t surprise me if either team goes on a run in the playoffs. They are battle tested.

The Oilers are absolutely not cheating. I swear.

Jays had a run-in with Cranberry this year, and I think they used the resulting suspensions as motivation to put together a decent season.

Grizzlies won ten straight to start the year, and have since faltered. We had a 3% chance of taking over second place after we lost to D2 in July, but after that game, we won out, and the Grizzlies went 1-5 or something. Sleeping giant though. I think most teams want to avoid them in the post-season. They have some great pitching.

The Devils are probably better than their record, which isn’t that bad to begin with. I thought they would be in Cranberry’s position now.

Up In AAA

The AAA mangers meeting might be an eventful one, as the Tropics are probably cheating. Shocking, I know. No stats entered for them all season. The only advantage that could possibly give them is a way around minimum games played if no one wants to take the time to challenge them. It creates a situation where everyone is forced to either do a lot of work or not question any of their players eligibility and probably let them play ineligible players. I don’t think the league would be worse off without them.

Our league has always erred on the side of letting players play. Whether it’s giving teams extra time to get money in, letting teams enter the league late, or putting the burden of proof on the team that is challenging player eligibility. I don’t agree with all the decisions that are made by the commish, but I’ve never questioned his integrity or his intention. The intention has always been to grow the league, and give as many people as possible the chance to play baseball. Most of the issues that arise are due to teams taking advantage of that sentiment.

I’m grateful for another regular season. Thank you to everyone who has made that possible. Hopefully we will be playing until August this year. I think we have a good shot.

 

 

Gameday 13: Ducks at Oilers

2019 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (6-6)

at

Hebrew Oilers (9-5)

6:45 PM

Mellon Park

South Oakland can sweep the Oilers and keep their slim hopes for a first round bye alive with a win tonight in East Liberty. Field conditions will not be great, but the BIG OIL has their grounds crew standing by.

The Ducks have not found their groove offensively yet, which is disconcerting given we are past the halfway point of the season. Good pitching has kept them in every game. Hopefully the team heats up in the second half. If not we will be fighting to stay in the top six and avoid a play-in game.

Bad news for the Oilers

 

Ducks Win. South Oakland 6, BIG OIL 4

2019 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, NABA, pittsburgh NABA

Mark Lombardi hit a second inning, 2-run home run to give the Ducks an early lead they wouldn’t relinquish, as South Oakland (3-1) held off the Oilers by a score of 6-4 last night in Spring Hill. Lombardi also threw out a runner at home on a 7-2 double play, and scored on an infield hit later in the game.

Before the game, both teams provided the IDs of all players involved, and after lengthy debate and cross-referencing, all players were deemed legal. However, that piping on Dave Winfield’s pants looks so good it should be outlawed.

Ducks starter, Cody Quinn (W, 1-0) went four inning for the victory, allowing one run on a solo home run by Witer Jimenez in the first. Quinn worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the second and cruised the rest of the way. Ducks reliever, Steve Bielefeld allowed one run in the fifth, and Smiley pitched a perfect sixth. James Fago recorded his second save of the season, entering the seventh with the bases loaded and no outs. Fago struck out some guy, walked someone, then struck Jimenez out. The Oiler’s first baseman grounded out to end the game with the go-ahead run on first.

South Oakland has won three straight to pull within a half game of the first place Oilers (4-1).

  • The Oilers left the bases loaded in the second, fifth and seventh innings.
  • Brandt, Clark, Patton and Lombardi had RBI for South Oakland
  • Pulice and Clark hit doubles
  • Overall, another solid outing from the bullpen
  • The defense was also solid, I think we had an error-free game

The Ducks play next against the Sheraden Jays, Sunday, 3pm at Chartiers Field.

Quack.

Gameday 4: Ducks vs Oilers

2019 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (2-1)

vs

Hebrew Oilers (4-0)

9pm

Springview Field

South Oakland looks to win its third straight tonight when the Ducks take on the defending AA champion Oilers. Reports of the Oilers demise have been greatly exaggerated, apparently. They are returning a good team and have been in first place for the entire rain-drenched, opening month and a half of the season.

The Ducks swept the last regular season series against the Oilers, but lost to them 3-2 in the opening round of last year’s playoffs. It should be a good matchup.

The Brendan Chartier Memorial Scooter Series kicks off with the nominal rivalry trophy on the line. I don’t think anyone really wants to hold onto the actual scooter, which we confiscated from some local kids who threw it at us from the basketball court before a Ducks/Eagles game in 2016. This year the teams will play three times at three different venues (Springview, Mellon, West Field). Winner gets the trophy. The trophy is named after the Ducks former catcher who also moonlighted as an Oiler in a scrimmage game against Kenyon College.

We need to close the gap here so the Oilers don’t put too much distance between them and the rest of the league before everyone has to play four games a week to make up  all the rainouts. This is the start of a tough stretch for us, with the Devils and Grizzlies coming up. If the rain ever stops, this season is going to very competitive.

Oilers games are always fun. They’re a good litmus test. We will have almost a full squad tonight, so we will at least have them outnumbered. I like our chances at home.

Bad news for BIG OIL

 

Gameday 1: Ducks vs Eagles

2019 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (0-0)

vs

South Side Eagles (0-1)

9pm

Springview Field

South Oakland opens its the season tonight at the Duck Pond vs the winless South Side Eagles. I think there are six teams that have a legit chance to win the title this season, including the Eagles and Ducks. South Oakland will start last year’s workhorse, Randy Patton who earned the victory over the Eagles in the playoffs last year. The Eagles will have their full pitching staff at their disposal after a week off between their opening day loss to BIG OIL. It should be a good game.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the Ducks blog. I’m a novelist and professional writer, and I’ve been giving this content away for a decade. Thank you to the five of you who still read it. I’ll feature some greatest hits from the blog this season.

Historical notes

This will be the Ducks seventeenth season in the Pittsburgh NABA. The Eagles were an early expansion team, starting in 2005 when Whittaker and Jesse Jones starred for them. South Side used to beat us even though they had a lefty shortstop for a while there. South Oakland’s best lefty shortstop was Rob Swanger, who played the position for a few games in the pre-TC Jones era of 2005-06. I wish Rob would’ve been able to stick around for the revival. He wanted to win as much as anyone.

My favorite photoshop of all time. NBD, we just have grey uni’s and are called the Rebels

Above is Ray Finkle and the Rebels winning the ’07 title, lead by Jesse Jones, former Eagle. That Rebels team also had Matt Daulton, the first former minor leaguer in league history, I believe. They were an off-shoot of the Black Sox, one of several Black Sox splinter groups that formed over the years. Ex Sock, Dan Stell, who maybe hates me, played on that team. He left when they folded to join the Militia with Tremel. That Militia team featured a bunch of current Ducks.

Every off season, I look for pitching, and usually I just draft guys. This year we had a bunch of pitchers come our way, and how many of those guys pan out will likely dictate how our season goes. I think they are all high floor high ceiling guys, compared to the one kid who blew his arm out in his first outing in 2015, effectively ending that season and forcing Doc to pitch pretty much every game. That season the Eagles knocked us out of the playoffs. Never turn away pitching.

We also needed to get younger.

So we added a few arms that will hopefully hold up and a couple guys from the Express, another Black Sox off-shoot that folded last season. We will see how it all plays out.

 

Since the end of the first Fago era, I’ve tried to strike a balance between doing as much as I can to make the team better vs. fucking over guys who have been here for years. The best way to strike a balance was to bring back an old friend who played in South Oakland for years, and will make us better. Here’s to the second Fago era in South Oakland.

Bad News for the Eagles

2019 Pittsburgh NABA AA Season Preview

2019 South Oakland Ducks, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Everyone register on the league site if you haven’t yet.

The league meetings have come and gone. We didn’t draft anyone for the first time in a while. Our roster is pretty set. As always, we will need a few pitchers to step up if we’re going to win a title. Hopefully that happens. Our lineup is solid. We should put up runs. Theoretically, we have the arms to win the division. It so often happens that the roster moves I try to make, are enough to win the year before but other teams do more, and then we have some bad luck and finish 3rd again. So who knows. I haven’t been this excited for a season since 2009.

We will split our home games between Spring Hill and West Field on Wednesday nights, except for 4th of July week which will probably be a Monday night home game. The first couple weeks of the schedule should be up in the next day or so, with the full schedule set to be released in a week.

AA has been the most competitive division top to bottom since the split, and I don’t see that changing. It’s fun. There are probably 6 teams with a legit shot this year.

I’ve ben thinking about how great it is that this league still has a few teams with shitty fans and angry non-player coaches, and how much more fun that makes the season. It’d get boring if we just played teams like Cranberry a bunch of times. The personalities make it fun. We need villains. The commissioner might not agree with me on this point.

  • The Devils are probably the early favorite
  • Cranberry is my sleeper pick. I bet they win 15 games this year.
  • The Oilers are still in AA, and might finish below .500 for the first time in a while. Classic letdown season after a title. That said, they’re probably flying in prospects as I write this.
  • Bandidos, Eagles, Grizzlies will all be tough
  • West View is going to field a team again after folding before last year’s playoffs. They should just merge with Sheraden.
  • The Warriors went back to Single A, and took their 6pm time slot with them.
  • RIP Express. Good luck in the DNL?
  • I’ll miss playing at Volunteer. We had a bunch of good games there, and I liked hitting in that park. Half that team were great guys.

Quack

 

 

 

Ducks Knocked Off by Grizzlies in Loser’s Bracket Finals

2018 South Oakland Ducks, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

After a dramatic, ten-inning walk-off, 7-6 win against the Devils, South Oakland lost 11-2 with a shot at the championship on the line. It was a very frustrating way to go out after the team fought hard to win three straight playoff games. South Oakland finished 16-12 (combined regular season and playoff record).

I messed up the pitching vs. the Grizzlies. I should have gone right to Patton and gotten what innings we could out of him, instead of trying to hold him out until the last 3. The game was out of hand by then, so it didn’t do us any good.

A couple errors and some early base running mistakes when the game was still close, let it get away from us. But as the manager, I take the blame for not making what was a pretty obvious decision. I don’t think anyone expected the relief appearance to go quite as bad as it did for the second pitcher in the game for us, but still, we had Randy on two days rest and I should have just put him in then. It might not have mattered, but still. If we hold Bauerstown to 2 or three that inning, instead of five, the whole feel of it changes, and we are at least more engaged. It was really deflating.

That loss certainly takes the shine off what was an amazing game in the quarter final. That was easily one of the best games in Ducks history. Ten-inning walk off win with like four lead changes. I’ll remember the Devils game for the rest of my life. That may sound corny as fuck, but it was great.

The Oiler’s game was the one we needed, the first round game that we lost 2-1. If we take that one, we can maybe sneak through to the winner’s bracket final and at least not have to play a double header, but who knows. We’re dealing with alternate reality shit now. Maybe we lose our next two if we beat the Oilers in game one.

Three wins in the playoffs is our best season in a while. We finished better than 10 other teams.

This was a really hard year for me in a lot of ways outside of baseball, and then when running the Ducks got to be another source of stress instead of a way to blow off steam and play a game I love with my friends, it really fucked me up. I was very close to quitting a few times this season, and maybe that showed in my play or my decision making, but I tried to give us a chance to win every game, while still getting everyone at bats and some time in the field. That is how I will always run this team. I will always put the long term survival of the team first.

The reason I dropped down from AAA in 2013 was because it wasn’t fun anymore. There were a lot of times it wasn’t fun at all this season. But I’ll keep running the team because I don’t know what I’d do between April and August otherwise. This team has been a part of my life for fifteen seasons, and I think we have another run left in us with this core. The window might be closing, but there’s reason for optimism.

quack

 

Playoff Gameday 3: #5 Ducks at #3 Eagles

2018 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (1-1)

at

South Side Eagles

8:30PM

Moon Park

After defeating the Carrick Express 7-2 last Sunday, the Ducks travel to Moon Park tonight to take on the third-seeded Eagles for a chance to advance to the loser’s bracket semifinals.

South Oakland won the season series 2-0, but they also swept the Oilers this season, who knocked off the Ducks in the opening round of the playoffs.

I think the Eagles were missing some guys the first couple times we played them. This should be a tough game between two good teams.

Win or go home. This is an exciting time of year. Hopefully our run will continue with a win tonight.

Bad News for the Eagles

Ducks Win. South Oakland 12, D2 0 (5 inn.)

2018 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Randy Patton (W, 4-3) allowed just two base runners, and faced one batter over the minimum and all ten Ducks starters reached base safely, in a lopsided 12-0 victory over D2 in Munhall last night.

South Oakland (7-6) scored 3 in the first on an RBI double by Pulice and a basses loaded 2-out, 2-run single by Casale. The Ducks scored seven runs in the second as D2’s starter had trouble finding the zone. South Oakland scored two more in the fourth  Casale hit a 2-run triple to center.

D2 (8-3) didn’t have a base runner until their ten hitter was hit by a pitch in the fourth, and their eleven hitter singled. The runner on second was then doubled off on a fly out to center.

South Oakland’s next game is 6pm Thursday at Herschel Park vs D2

 

Some stats:

Patton: W, 5IP, 1H, 1HBP, 5K

Casale: 2-2, BB, SB, 3B, 4RBI, R

Pulice: 1-2, 2B, BB, RBI, R

Dover 1-2, SB, HBP, 2RBI, R

Gwin 2-2, HBP, SB, RBI, 2R

Graff: 0-1, 2BB, SB, 2R

Ducks Win. South Oakland 6, South Side 3

2018 South Oakland Ducks, Ducks WIn, NABA, pittsburgh NABA, Recap, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

The South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (6-6) got back to .500 on the season against a tough South Side Eagles (4-5) team, winning by a score of 6-3 in Spring Hill last night.

The Ducks lead 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth. Dover doubled to start the inning, advanced to third on a wild pitch and Toumisto drove him in with a groundout to the right side. Five batters later, Tony Casale singled with the bases loaded, followed by Ben Sorosky’s clutch pinch-hit single to right to cap off the four-run inning.

The Eagles scored two in the top of the seventh, but the rally fell short.

Randy Patton (W, 3-3) pitched six strong innings, allowing only 2 hits and 3 walks along with 2 Ks. Andy Nichols recorded the save (2).

South Oakland’s next game is Saturday at 2pm vs. 1st place Sheraden Jays.

  • We had the ump with the small strike zone, and there were a few questionable calls
  • I think the Eagles were short guys?
  • This is the first season sweep of the Eagles since 2010
  • If we beat the Jays Saturday, we will sweep all other bird teams
  • We jumped from 9th to a 5th place with the win