A Look at the Playoff Bracket and a Holiday Weekend Long-read

2017 South Oakland Ducks

Not a huge difference between finishing 2nd and 3rd. However, the team that wins the regular season has a buy into the semis.

Based on the standings above and a quick look at the schedules, I think only 4 teams control their own destiny at this point. Bandidos, Eagles, Ducks, Oilers. Everyone else needs help, except Cranberry, South Hills and D2 who can’t win the division.

We have five games left in eleven days, plus a floater vs. the Wolfpack that their coach won’t get back to me about rescheduling. Not sure how that one’s gonna work out.

This Wednesday’s game is one of the biggest regular season games in recent memory. Probably not since the Black Sox rivalry days has this much hung in the balance.

If we win it, we can basically punch our ticket to at least the 3rd seed. The Oilers would have to finish 6-2, including a win over us to catch us, plus with a win, we can still catch Bakery Square without help.

If we lose, we need the Eagles and Bandidos to both have what would amount to minor collapses given they current records, and we would face an Oilers team on Friday that would have a chance to pull within a half game and probably that lefty again, and then the Devils on Saturday with a potentially dicey pitching situation on our hands for the third game in four days.

We haven’t won a division ever.

Here is a look at some non-first place finishes:

In 2003, we finished fifth out of six teams and won the title.

in 2004, we finished somewhere around .500 and lost to the Black Sox in the semis

Those years are foggy so I can’t really give a complete account. Though, I think I tallied it at one point.

We were then mediocre in 2005 and Swetz got hit in the sack in the playoffs and ended his pitching career. Earlier that season, Ducks legend Ian Dickman blew out his arm. We didn’t have a shortstop for the next 3 years, really.

We were bad in 2006 and 2007.

Resurgent in 2008 with an 11-9 finish including a playoff clinching win over the Ben Sorosky led Rakers. I went 0-for-3 vs. 55 in that game.

We went 16-8 in 2009, finishing 3rd, 1 game behind Brookline and six games behind Ken Cool’s team that went 20-1 and ended up losing to the TJ Morgan-led Hurricanes.

In 2010, we finished 18-6 and won the championship, but the black sox finished 16-5 and beat us twice and won the regular season.

That year the Ben Sorosky led Militia beat the Fighting’ TJ Morgans in the quarterfinals, before losing to us in the semis. The recap of that Hurricane’s Militia game is the most read blog post in the history of this blog.

We went 19-5 in 2011, with 3 losses to eventual champion Elliot who won our division.

We went 17-6 in 2014 and finished second the the North American Lions > Dirty Birds > Bandidos > Reprise

2015 and 2016 we didn’t finish over .500, but we made a great playoff run last year.

This turned into a history post at some point.

I’m realizing now, I’m already old enough to get nostalgic about my early adult league days (maybe more so than my high school and legion days). I should really be writing something more important than this, but it’s too late. Looking back through fifteen years, brings me back to a lot of the shit I had going on at various points in my life, and how great it has been to have baseball to balance that. Also that it will be great to have a little less bullshit going on at some point, so that baseball can feel less like the cause of some of the bullshit and less like another responsibility. And at times it does feel like that instead of just fun.

I’ve tried many times to find a way to work the Ducks and our league into an essay or a story of some kind for an actual publication, but it’s tough. It always feels like I’m relying too much on the corny Field of Dreams nostalgia, that doesn’t quite get at the pure joy there is to be had, even at 36, from being able to continue to play this game, and how that joy juxtaposed with the struggles in real life can lead to something work reading.

I obviously push and have often exceeded the limits of an acceptable amount of time for a single parent trying to establish a literary career while doing glorified temp work, to put into playing and managing and blogging about adult league baseball. But the more bullshit I have going on with me, the more I need to be able to set aside a few hours to just worry about a game and my teammates and my team, an at-bat.  ]And I think there are guys on our team, and in our league and other’s like it who feel the same way.

I can see it in some of my teammates faces how badly they need to leave shit behind them before they walk down those busted steps into the Duck pond. I just don’t know how to connect that idea to a bigger audience or use it to speak to a bigger truth in a manner that hasn’t already been done.

It is great to write about baseball in this setting, and try to shake off the rust when I haven’t written in a while, and at least form sentences in a low-pressure setting while providing a service for the few of you who read this, whether you hate it or love it. To give back in some way to the league that’s allowed me to play for fifteen years using this medium is great. Even though no one really blogs anymore, I don’t think.

I’m not sure how long I can keep running this team, but if I ever step down it will be with a heavy heart, and a replacement lined up who knows a bunch of pitchers, but will give the current Ducks right of first refusal for roster spots. I also am not going to step down until the Back Sox fold. Which judging by their record, could be at any moment. That’s also a story for another blog post.

Going back I also realized the Eagles have been around since 2004, which is pretty long. I give them a lot of credit for sticking around.

Anyway, right now we sit at 11-5-2, and we are as solid a team as any in Double A. We don’t quit. I don’t think anyone wants to face us with their second or third starter in the playoffs when we have our starting lineup. Except Cranberry.

We haven’t seen the best of the Eagles, but they haven’t seen our best either. On Wednesday, if we give them our best we can win. We can beat anybody. Then it’s back to our day jobs and the shit we left at the top of the busted steps.

quack.

 

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Gameday 2: Ducks vs Oilers

2017 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, pittsburgh NABA, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side

vs

Hebrew Oilers

9pm

Spring View Field

It only took a week for the first player scandal of the season.

Apparently the Oilers brought in a former minor league player to pitch for them this summer. Seems surprising given their managers concern for the competitive balance of the league as expressed in the winter meetings when he complained about the prospect of the WOLFPACK! and the 2 Dirty 2 Birds: Return of the Bandidos rostering Division III college players.

Save the fucking sanctimony about how West View hurt your team’s feelings if you’re gonna bring in some dude who is obviously a ringer.

This is the most BIG OIL move I’ve ever seen. The fucking yuppie, white collar team brings in essentially a Dominican refugee, in an attempt to make up for the fact that their team is soft. Soft as cotton.

This explains why they wouldn’t play us on back to back nights. This dude can only pitch one of those days. I didn’t press the issue as the Pens were on last night.

The Oilers are scared.

Maybe three guys have any heart on that team, as much as I love them as human beings. Seriously though, just embrace being villains as far as the league is concerned because there’s no way around it. Get your fucking neoliberal councilman to throw out the first pitch across from Google in God awful Bakery Square and flout your Asian players and your nice unis, then he can go back to helping our mayor force Pittsburgh’s working poor into Penn Hills so ya’ll can bike to work without having to look at them.

So, where does that leave us?

I am excited for the opportunity. If you’re not pumped about the prospect of playing against a pitcher this good, you should go join PSL, or see if the Oilers will take you.

We have the opportunity to beat a team that thinks it’s going to cruise tonight because they networked their way into a stud pitcher. We are throwing an ex-Black Sox, ex-Oiler, and one time Duck junk baller who is already telling me he doesn’t want to come out of the game.

We haven’t seen live pitching yet, so should be a good test off the bat to see where we are hitting wise.

Here is  GIF in honor of the Undertaker.

Bad news for the Oilers

 

 

 

Gameday 9: Ducks as Black Sox

2015 South Oakland Ducks Baseball

kennyP

Tonight we write another chapter in the history of a storied Pittsburgh NABA rivalry. There are a lot of guys on our team that haven’t played Brookline, or haven’t played them as Ducks. But I think they’ll learn quick. In 2007, I think, The Sox split and the Rebels were formed. From the Rebels came the Gray Bats and then the Militia. This current group of Ducks has several former Militia players. Last year when we moved down to Single A, several Ducks went to the Black Sox. Former Ducks manager and current outfielder TJ Morgan played on the Sox last year, current Sock, James Fago won a title as a Duck and managed the team for a couple seasons. Skovron was a Duck for two seasons. In 2010, Mark Guthrie shut down the Sox in game three of the finals to capture the Ducks 2nd championship.

razorr_ramon

Arguably the two most successful franchises in league history, the Ducks and Black Sox have been playing each other for nine years. This is likely the last season for the Sox, before they disperse and Rob Cool starts stalking Fago and that lefty they have.

There’s something about playing in Moore Park, with the terrible lights, the cigarette smoke and spilled beer in the the concrete bleachers, trying not to break your ankle in that gully on the first base line that brings out the best in the Ducks.

KellyLeak_cig

Bad News for the Black Sox

Gameday 7: Ducks vs. Dirty Birds

2015 South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (4-3)

VS.

Mon Valley Dirty Birds (10-3)

9PM

Springivew Field

After a dramatic walk off win vs. Cranberry, South Oakland returns to the friendly confines of Spring Hill to host Mon Valley, in what figures to be our toughest game yet. Last year, this team was the second place Lions, most of their best players left and started the Dirty Dirds as an homage to former Atlanta Falcons great, Jamaal Anderson’s touchdown dance.

Their coach garaunteed a victory over the defending AAA champion Cherokee in the league meeting this winter. Clearly, they have huge, dirty balls. They also play Clinton on Sunday, while the Ducks face longtime rival Brookline on Thursday, so, perhaps, we are each others trap game tonight.

Gray Bats, Weak - Day 6: Close Your Eyes and Try to Think About Baseball

The Dirty Birds have a far more professional looking website than this one. Solid. Very GIF-centric. The effort there reminds me of the mid-to-late-aughts, when I didn’t mail-in 90% of these posts, and we had Star War characters and the Hurricanes shit talking each other in the comments for months.

Ducks Opener: Thursday 9pm, Moore Park.

South Oakland may have turned it’s season around, by avoiding a fourth division loss on Monday, but it won’t mean much if we can’t build on it. We showed some resiliance. If we want to make a run at the title this year, we will likely have to go through this team. I’m curious to see if they are as dirty as they claim. We will probably see #22 and that other pitcher who throws hard for them. They will yell a lot.

But we have Doc on the hill for us tonight.

doc naba

Bad News for the Dirty Birds.

Ducks Lose

2014 South Oakland Ducks, pittsburgh NABA

West View 6, South Oakland of the North Side 2.

Ducks starting ptcher Brian Stom faced 10 batters through 3, and South Oakland lead 1-0 going into the top of the bottom of the 4th.

There were a couple plays that weren’t made by the Ducks, a walk or two, and the WOLFPACK scored five in the bottom of the fourth, and we couldn’t get back in it.

We ran out of a couple innings, We had 10 hits, but we weren’t able to string anything together. it was really frustrating.

At one point one of our guys ran into their catcher who was well up the line, and their catcher wanted to fight or something. It was ridiculous. Benches partially cleared. Everyone should have been tossed. No one was.

The West View pitcher threw a good game, working out of trouble a few times. Two of their guys hit the ball pretty hard, their four hitter, and that guy who no one seems to have seen play during the regular season.

After the game, the West View coach was nice enough to offer to play game 3 at their home field. Ducks management declined the offer.

*EDIT game Saturday will be at Stoneridge, time tbd

Contemporary country music sucks.

***

In other Pittsburgh NABA news, Jefferson Hills lost in the opening round of AA playoffs in a big upset to Cranberry. Then Cranberry took one look the Cherokee’s awesome alternate jerseys in their next winners bracket game, and forfeited. The Rebels were crushed by the Bulldogs, the Black Sox beat West End, in what has become an intense seres between the two teams. The Carrick Express can eliminate Jefferson Hills on Saturday. I hope it comes down to Brookline and the Cherokee and that their is a fight in the stands and lots of guys getting beaned. It would be like old times.

The other side of the Single A bracket hasn’t started yet.

quack

 

 

A Brief History of non-player coaches in the Pittsburgh NABA

2014 South Oakland Ducks

I’ve always wondered why someone would coach an adult league team and not play. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me.

It takes a lot of stress out of things when Limbach or Sorosky’s dad just keeps score for us. Having someone take care of coaching a base effectively or, better yet, doing all the bullshit admin stuff would make things so easy. Too easy! I might not have to get to games 2 hours early, and then worry Fetter will tell our 3-hitter to bunt in the first inning, or Shawn will send someone home when the ball is in the infield, or have to think about what to do with the bullpen while I’m trying to also play a game, position the outfield and look for the opposing pitchers tendencies. Be ready for some delegating in the playoffs.

Since the 2014 Ducks two biggest rivals have non-player coaches, I thought I’d take a look back at others who have bravely blazed the non-player coaching trail.

One common thread to teams that employ non-player coaches, is that they are typically good. Except for Cranberry. The worst of these types are found in the 28+ league.

Ok. Here is a list of coach onlys. It’s possible I’m leaving out someone. Feel free to mention omissions in the comments.

1. Randy. Black Sox third base coach (2004-2009)

1A. That other random Black Sox base coach. (2005-10)

Randy-south-park-302178_388_300

The first non-player coach to leave a mark on Pittsburgh’s semi-semi-professional baseball league. He is a legend.

While the Black Sox have been run since there Stampeder days by owner operator, Kenny Powers, they have at times employed both Randy, and some weird guy who had either rad, white-guy dreads or a sick mullet and coached first. I think there were sunglasses worn at all times by the second guy. I don’t think he ever took the field for an official plate appearance.

The Black Sox were the Ducks oldest, fiercest rivals until this season when we dropped down, and gave the Sox the rights to half our players. Randy added to this rivalry by occasionally pulling signature moves such as, yelling “I got it” when our third basement would attempt to catch pop-ups, and umpiring terribly when the regular umps wouldn’t show up. To his credit, he never tried to pretend he was unbiased in the umpiring situations. I don’t think the Sox ever had signs, but Randy gave them. Perhaps decoys to throw off the opposition.

Randy was initially an irritant, but he’s mellowed in his old age. He’s grown on me. Especially since he stopped coaching third for them a while ago.

The other guy, with dreads/mullet I think is mentally ill and/or homeless, and Kenny gave him a jersey just to be nice. Or, perhaps, the anonymous occasional first base coach was the Sox dealer for a while in the mid 2000s when things were a little crazy for all of us.

The_Cranberries,_Zombie

2. Cranberry Coach 2009-2014

Cranberry is always pretty mediocre. I’m never sure if I’m talking to this guy, or his son on the phone or via text or whatever. They are both at the team meetings. Morgan is not a fan of the Cranberry coach. Coach has his team bunt a lot. I think that’s what coaches do, they feel compelled to put on plays, so they have their team bunt. Bunt bunt bunt. Keep giving up outs, and finishing in seventh place. Really this guy isn’t too bad, though. He seems like a decent human being.

Jdf4n

3. Elliot Coach. 2011

He was pretty nice to me. I have nothing bad to say about this guy. Some teams really hated him. (Seriously, Trojan, update your blog.)

4. The Day Toyota/Jefferson Hills Coach. 2013-present

No idea what this guy’s name is, but he basically forces everyone in 18-AA to make a couple trips a year to West Virginia to play 6pm games in those sweat box, metal-roofed dugouts, and get dominated by a team of Ju-Co guys and high school all stars. The field is well maintained, to his credit.

J-Hills coach’s credentials include getting kicked out of the Daily News League after going 8-13 and not being allowed in the Fed League, and not bothering to pay his dues on time in two seasons in the Pittsburgh NABA. His team is also 18-2, and are the defending champs so good job there. Seriously, that field is fucking two hours from anything, i feel like I’m one wrong turn from Deliverance.

4. North American Lions, 2014

I’d put money on this team trying to weasel out of making up the West View game, and trying to avoid having to play all 24 games this season. This is the weirdest one because dude is like in his mid-20s and can’t play or won’t or whatever. I don’t get it. Get number #22 under control. There’s a few shit talking assholes on this team, and it’s the lack of leadership that lets that happen, in part, anyway. At least pretend to give a shit how your players conduct themselves.

Which brings us to…

WOLFPACK!!! (dates unknown)

Both of them. Unreal.

giphy_Pittsburgh NABA_DUCKS

Third base coach has been around a while. He was not involved in the bribery thing a while back. Some of the WOLFPACK!!! 3B coach’s signature moves include:

Telling our attorney and third baseman to go fuck himself, and spewing profanities at him throughout last game. And he didn’t even know Ciccone was a lawyer.

The best was when the kids in the stands were in ear-shot of this tirade. Where are the umps on this? How is the third base coach allowed to say anything to the third baseman aside from “nice play?”

There was the berating and brow beating of the umpires by both coaches during our last game, the repeated illegal runner substitutions which I won’t overlook in the playoffs, and the general dick-headedness that characterizes many of the players on his team.

Alan-Tudyk-42

In summation, I still don’t understand the appeal of coaching adult league baseball not playing, and it seems the biggest assholes never have to step in the box.

In other news, I passed Mike Brandt for the team lead in hit-by-pitch last game.

KellyLeak_cig

Quack.

 

Gamday 21: Ducks at Elliot

2013 South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Ducks

at

Elliot

6pm

Herschel Park

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 12.35.06 PM

Pittsburgh Standings as of  Sunday afternoon

We play 3 games in two days starting tonight against 2-time defending champion Elliot in Elliot.

We will have a forfeit win for one of our west end games, and play the other tomorrow night in a game that could be huge.

The Pirates have clinched a spot.

Carrick is technically still alive, but barely. (note: Carrick comes up as carsick in spell check)

Cranberry is falling fast.

The Militia went on a nice run as of late, but lost a tough one this morning.

The Black Sox play Carrick tonight, and still have to reschedule a game against the Bulldogs, before they play us tomorrow.

If we win-out we’re in.

Despite our respective records, we played Elliot close early this season, losing 9-7 and leaving a ton of guys on base.

Patten’s on the hill tonight.

Bad News for Elliot

Eight Men Out: South Oakland pulls into final playoff spot with 5 games remaining

2013 South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland (7-12) played with 8 players for five innings and still beat Carrick 4-3 at Beedle Park in Western Maryland on June 23rd.

Fago has won like 5 straight decisions on the mound, and leads the team in wins and saves.

South Oakland lost 6-0 to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday in a rain-shortened affair.

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 3.52.30 PM

[Standings as of Monday, July 1st]

The Black Sox have picked it up, going from 10th to 7th over the last couple weeks.

Everyone else is falling back to the pack.

The Ducks have two games to reschedule vs. West End, Pour House this Saturday, then finish with Elliot and Brookline on the season’s final weekend.

After looking at the schedules of the rest of the teams outside the top 4, basically, we control our own destiny since the other 5-10 teams will beat up on each other.

I said at one point we needed ten wins to make it in, and i think that should still do it.

After a 1-9 start we could conceivably finish as high as fifth, but we have to keep winning. Pending rescheduled games, South Oakland plays Brookline on the last day of the regular season.

quack

Standings, Playoff Push, etc

2013 South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland has a tough 3-game stretch coming up in which we play the artists formerly known as Day Toyota, and then a double header against the Bulldogs at John Herb the following weekend.

Standings as of 6/3:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 12.59.21 PM

Upcoming games:

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 1.04.48 PM

(click to enlarge or just go to the league site.)

There is some serious separation going on here between the haves and have-nots.

It’s going to be a shit show at the bottom of the bracket. Conceivably we could see the militia, Carrick and pour house drop a few games coming up.

right now, Elliot, Clinton, the Bulldogs and Ashley Shaffer are battling for position in the top four and then it’s everyone else.

Elliot is good.

Cranberry sucks.

that’s my expert analysis.

Unfortunately our team is constructed as such that we can lose 15-1 to teams that suck because we lack pitching depth and infield depth, and sometimes our players don’t show up.

The winable  games we dropped to Carrick, Pour House and Cranberry and the forfeit to the Militia really hurt right now, but at least we’re finally putting up runs and winning games.

We have to steal a couple against teams that are above us in the standings, which is almost everyone.

We might be able to jump in the standings before we play this sunday.

We need all hands on deck Sunday. Jefferson Davis Hills is good. If we have to throw out a patchwork lineup with random single A players we will get embarrassed.

We can give them a game if everyone shows up.

This is most likely the last season of the Ducks as a Double A team, we at least need to make the playoffs and give it one final run.

quack.

Ducks Win

2013 South Oakland Ducks Baseball, Ducks WIn, pittsburgh NABA

South Oakland jumped out to an 8-0 lead after three innings, and held off a late Brookline rally to win 9-5.

James Fago pitched a complete game for the much-needed victory, and added an RBI single.

Ducks right fielder Zach Skowvron literally knocked out the Sox starting pitcher with a line drive to the groin area that went for a bases loaded, rbi single in the third.

I hope that guy isn’t pissing blood. it looked like it really hurt.

The Ducks did a good job of stranding Black Sox runners, and getting timely hits.

For the Ducks, Baumgartel hit a triple, Anthony Ciccone was 2-for-3 with two doubles, Stahl 2-for-4 with a double, Gwin was 2-for-4 with a double and 3 rbi, Skowvron was 2-for-3 with a walk. 8 South Oakland starters recorded a hit, and all nine reached base safely at least once.

The above might not be 100% accurate, I don’t have the book, but we hit well.

For the Sox, Kenny Powers and Goldie hit triples.

Florian hustled.

A win against the Black Sox, in Brookline, is always big.

South Oakland has scored 26 runs in its last 3 games and looks to keep the momentum going throughout the weekend.

South Oakland next plays a double header at Cranberry, Saturday, 1pm.

Quack.