A history of Illegal players and team forfeitures

2019 South Oakland Ducks

Things were more relaxed in the early to mid 2000s. We all filled out paper forms, ideally, and we played. There wasn’t much to do about ringers. The only rule was that a guy was on the roster before the playoff deadline, but no one checked and no one cared.

Our first championship, in 2003, was against a stacked lineup of Fed League players and guys from the Warriors franchise who filled in on the team that was supposed to be the Maulers. It was either play against the players who showed up or don’t play.

We were rained out in our first attempt to play the game, and we didn’t find out about it until game time when no one showed up. I think John Herb had a grass infield then, or maybe it just does in my memories of it. We got there early, took infield/outfield, and then we waited until half an hour after game time and no one showed up. I didn’t have a cell phone then so I borrowed a teammates, called the commissioner, and got the message of the somewhat suspect cancellation. We rescheduled, beat that team full of ringers, and got kicked out of Hemingways.

There weren’t a ton of controversies early on because no one cared much. Most of us were just happy to play. However, there were a couple instances where teams were kicked out of the league. Two that come to mind are Insulright in 2005, and the Yankees in 2004.

The Yankees were a team full of CCAC players and other local DIII guys who went undefeated but never paid. I think the core of the early Black Sox teams were Yankees. Only Craig Boley knows who I’m talking about. They no-hit us that season before they disappeared.

Insulright was sponsored by the insulation company of the same name, and they played in shorts out in Monroeville at Gateway. The back of that infield fell off like a cliff into a deep outfield surrounded by a rusted chain link fence. Moore Park without the charm. Gateway was somehow hard to find for those of us coming from the city, our early GPS systems sent us in an awkward U-turn around 376, near rt. 48, and it was easy to wind up in Trafford accidentally. Insulright was always ready to fight, and their shorts made them that much worse. They had this guy Hoover who could throw hard, and a few decent players, but their Umbros made the young Pittsburgh NABA look even more bush league than it was. Thankfully they were kicked out of the league, and lead to the rule that states we must wear pants as part of our uniforms, otherwise known as the Insulright Rule.

After Commissioner Graff took over for Boley, things shifted gears.  During the years that encompassed the Ducks short stop-less Red Scare Era, the league grew and thrived. The Black Sox brought in a former Blue Jays prospect, the Owlzzzz brought in a guy from the Wildthings, and the league added a ton of local small-college players. I consider 2006 to 2010 the golden age of the league. After the switch to wood bats, and before Elliot joined the league and beat everyone before moving on to the DNL.

During these years, the player rules became more strict, and there were more clashing personalities. Two of the most outrageous incidents occurred during these years. The first, and the most insane, was the Matador incident.

 

 

They tried to bribe teams to throw games so that the Bulldogs wouldn’t make the playoffs. Former Ducks manager, TC Jones told me he spent an hour on the phone with Ken Cool’s brother discussing the Owlz managers disgust that (Matador’s manager) Ron Tiedeman (sic) bribe him to lose on purpose. That’s an hour TC will never have back, one of the risks when you manage a men’s league team, I suppose.

There are always a few guys who are certain Joe favors his own team. (We haven’t won anything in the last five years, so he’s not very good at it, if that’s his plan.) So this guy tried to rig the playoffs to fuck over Joe. Perfectly rational. It didn’t work. The Matadors lost to the Bulldogs in the playoffs, and eventually became the Sharks then the Wolfpack. Teideman left years ago.

Back to player eligibility.

The worst incident probably in league history, was the result of poor administrative practices. In 2010, following their first league championship, members of the Hurricanes threatened the commissioner over a handful of Hurricane’s players being ruled ineligible. The issue being that they weren’t in the system by the deadline. The overreaction by the ‘canes to a decision that wasn’t open to interpretation is what makes this incident stand out in the league mythos.

I’ve personally filled out the online info for guys that had played but couldn’t register for some reason. It’s not fun, but it doesn’t take too long.

There was a vote on whether or not to allow them to forfeit their season like Insulright and the Yankees.

It was decided that games the had played in already wouldn’t be ruled forfeits, but they couldn’t play in the playoffs. That season, the Militia upset the short -handed Hurricanes in the second round before losing in the semifinals to the Ducks.

Since the split to three divisions, and the ruling on active college players playing in AAA pending approval from AA managers, there has been renewed debate about player eligibility. One such instance, and subsequent apology, was noted on this blog a couple seasons back. The incident involved the Oilers bringing in a former pro who hadn’t played in years and was thus, eligible to play in AA. The funny thing about the incident is the uproar was due to a different guy pitching for them who was accused of being said former pro, but was a JV player on Point Park, I think. Anyway, that season the Oilers lost in the first round to the Devils, but the next season their former pro delivered the championship-clinching hit against the Grizzlies.

Over the last few years, a few AAA teams have had questionable players in games and usually they don’t get called on it until after they’ve played. This is mostly with Steel City and Jefferson Hills. Both have been accused of playing guys in the playoffs with fewer than five games played.

I have nightmares about Beedle Park and driving all the way down 51 to roast in those dugouts.

There’s a pretty standard practice by teams to try to bring in ringers. First try to change the rules in the league meeting, second, try to break them, third, go out of your way to find other teams who are breaking the rules, and act indignant that anyone would harm the sanctity of our league and this great game of baseball that in no way has a history of cheating at the highest level.

In some cases, it’s a matter of just cooking the scorebook and online stats to make sure all pitchers and important players have enough games played. A smart manager will do this early when no one knows who anyone is, as to avoid going back and making changes in June when they might be noticeable. It’s also assumed that no one will ever really call a team out on it, because the sentiment is that you look scared if you do.

I’ve been hesitant to do it in the past because I think challenging a player who turns out to be eligible is a good way to fire up the opposing team. I’ve never been 100% and I don’t want to have to issue another public apology for accusing a team of cheating that isn’t. Maybe that makes me part of the problem. A problem that’s really not that big in the scheme of our league, and even smaller outside our adult baseball bubble.

This season with the website crashing, it might be more difficult to track stats and eligibility. In AA the biggest issue is active college players without waivers. In AAA, it’s getting five games in for playoffs or not. So cheat early and cheat often, but please don’t threaten the commissioner. 

South Oakland plays the Oilers tomorrow night, 9pm at Springview Field, weather permitting.

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Ducks Win: South Oakland 6, Bandidos 4

2019 South Oakland Ducks

The South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (1-1) defeated the Bakery Square Bandidos (0.5-1) by a score of 6-4 last night in Spring Hill. Bakery Square opened the scoring when their new guy hit one to the fence and their other new guy singled him in, breaking a scoreless tie. There were some walks, and the Ducks trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth.

South Oakland scored four in the fourth. Muslin walked, Casale doubled, Pulice, Clark, and Fago singled. Colton Fago was hit by a pitch and Gwin drove in a run on a ground out.

Cody Quinn struck out the side in the fifth, and the Ducks added two more in the bottom of the inning when Brandt was hit by a pitch, Zuzak doubled, and Casale hit a sac fly. Zuzak scored on Pulice’s second hit of the night. I might be missing something in there, but that was basically what happened.

Tom picked a guy off first in the seventh then new guy grounded out to end the game. Fago recorded the save for the Ducks, capping off a strong night for the bullpen.

  • Eight of the first nine outs Ducks starter, Randy Patton (W, 1-0) recorded in the game were either strikeouts or groundouts to the pitcher.
  • The bullpen allowed one run on one hit over the last three innings
  • James Fago had two hits and recorded his first save in six years for the Ducks
  • Mike Brandt and Colton Fago were hit by pitches, and are tied for the team lead with one (1)
  • We might have got a couple calls in the field, but it was a pretty evenly played game. We had the ump with the AL East strike zone.
  • Only one error after committing seven in our first game
  • This was a quality win over a good team
  • South Oakland takes game one of the Columbus tournament inter-squad challenge

South Oakland plays next vs D2 on Sunday, 8:30pm at Herschel Park.

Quack.

Ducks Lose: Eagles 9, South Oakland 7

2019 South Oakland Ducks

South Oakland (0-1) dropped their opener 9-7 to the South Side Eagles (1-1) last night at Springview Field.

The Ducks allowed 5 unearned runs in the first three innings. The Ducks trailed 5-0 going into the fourth before scoring 4 on a bases loaded walk by Lombardi and a two-out three run triple by Clark.

South Oakland rallied and took a 7-6 on a John Zuzak single, and lead in the bottom of the seventh. But again the team committed costly errors, and there were also some walks. Our reliever almost worked out of a bases loaded no-out jam, but a double play ball with one out was misplayed that could have ended the game and then there was a viscous hop on a grounder to first that scored two runs, and hit our first baseman in the neck, I think.

  • Good fight after going down early
  • We looked like a team that took a lot of BP this winter
  • Pitching was good overall, especially Randy
  • We should rake the field I guess before our next home game
  • We made an incredible number of errors with two outs
  • Good to have the pressure of going undefeated off our backs
  • Don’t want to peak too early
  • Great base running tonight
  • We will get back at it Saturday in Shaler vs West View
  • Thanks to all the fans who came out. That was the most people we’ve had in attendance probably ever

 

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

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 7, Jays 3

2018 South Oakland Ducks

The South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (1-3) beat the Sheraden Jays (1-1) 7-3 in Munhall Wednesday night. Tony Casale hit a leadoff triple, and the Ducks scored five runs in the first inning, and the Jays never threatened the early lead.

 

Randy Patten threw five strong innings allowing 2 runs on five hits, with 5Ks, Mike Longman recorded the 2-inning save allowing one unearned run.

Tom Pulice threw out a guy at second by like ten feet.

Ben Gwin recorded 2, HBP, putting him in the team lead.

South Oakland added one in the fourth and one in the sixth.

I don’t know what it is about teams with non-player coaches, but it’s terrible to play against them. They typically have fans and random people in the dugout that run their mouths. Good for them, I guess. I can’t imagine playing in an adult league and having to deal with some twenty year old’s dad bitching at me. It’s bullshit. I can’t imagine what their game against West View was like.

South Oakland’s next game is Sunday, 12pm at Hershel Park vs the South Side Eagles.

Gameday 3: Ducks at Cranberry

2018 South Oakland Ducks, Gameday, NABA, pittsburgh NABA

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (0-2)

at

Cranberry Crusaders (1-1)

5pm

Veteran’s Park of Cranberry (North Boundary Park)

South Oakland looks to win its first game of the season against the Crusaders this afternoon in Cranberry.

Below is an old scorebook page from a game two years ago vs. Cranberry. I remember we played this game at McGee Field because the mound at Spring Hill had been vandalized the night before. TJ had his car broken into, I think. We won on a walk-off hit by Culp in a ridiculous, 12-11 game.

Koshzow hit a ground rule double into the pool in left. We were down 11-10 going into the bottom of the seventh. They had their ace throwing and we knocked him around.

This season we pretty much only had Pat on the mound after Grahme blew out his shoulder. Nichols started this game, I think Brandt’s friend went 2 innings, and then Sorosky finished off the last two.

Alex Riley got on base three times this game in the revenge match against his former squad, and committed an error in RF.

Bad News for the Crusaders

 

 

 

Gameday 2: Ducks vs Express

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

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (0-1)

vs

Carrick Express (1-1)

9pm

West Field

South Oakland looks to get back on track after a tough loss to West View last week. Carrick is good. We are short a few guys tonight, so some players who might not start normally will get some at bats against one of the better pitchers we will face this season.

Below is an old score book page from 2010.

This was a Ducks vs Maulers game. The Maulers played in single A that season, and would eventually become the Express. South Oakland won 6-2. We lost to them earlier in the season.

Vernacchio’s last at bat was a 2-RBI double.

Kress, Kopy, Cannon, are all former Black Sox and Express players. Gruendle is still on the Express.

This must have been early in the season before all the Waynesburg guys joined the team that season and I nearly destroyed the franchise, which I’ve written enough about at this point.

Casale had a day. Duffy left to be a scientist halfway through this season. Guthrie would get the win on the mound in the deciding game of our second championship.

Bad News for the Express

Team Awards

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

The Bandidos won the title, after having split from the AAA Dirty Birds of 2016. Now they will move up again. Maybe they will just fold and split again instead? They’ve done an awful lot of branding to go that route. But maybe they’ll become the Astros. Winter meetings should be interesting. They are deserving champions and from what I can tell a bunch of solid guys. The top seeded Eagles lost after a pretty dominant regular season. The Oilers and Ducks were both upset early. 11th seeded D2 was in the semifinals. I wish they would have won it, and gone from A to AAA in two years.

Those first couple Wednesdays when we don’t have a game are always tough. This was a frustrating year for the format to go to single elimination. We had too much time off, I guess, and lost to a hot Express team who almost upset the Bandidos in the semis.

Next year, I’m going to reschedule a rainout for the week prior to the playoffs so we don’t have this problem again.

After another fun season, we once again fell short. We should return most of the same guys next year. Hopefully we can add an arm or two. It was frustrating to have Ben Sorosky and Randy step up, only to have guys who pitched well for us last year not show up to a lot of games for various reasons.

Here are the team awards.

Pitcher of the year: Ben Sorosky 

After not throwing for a few seasons, he came back and gave us solid innings every Wednesday. He was a great teammate and good clubhouse presence. Also had many sweet sacrifice bunts.

Defensive player of the year: Tom Pulice

Tony is probably the best defensive shortstop in the league, but I can’t give him this award every season, plus he was hurt for a while.

Tom came in and was arguably our MVP. Teams didn’t run on us this year, and he handled the pitching staff well.

Co-Offensive players of the year: TJ Morgan and Mark Lombardi

Check their stats. They both raked. We had a good of a 3-7 in the order as we ever had.

MVP: DJ Dover

Dover had possibly the most impressive single season I’ve seen as a Duck. He broke the single season HR record, lead the league in RBI and, and got pitched around a lot towards the end of the year. Bakery Square is not upset they didn’t have to face him in the playoffs. Dover also played short when Casale was out and provided serviceable defense there. Not lost in all this is that he drove from Erie every game and made all but two games when we had guys who wouldn’t show up for seemingly no reason. Also ran BP before every game for those who could make it.

For next year, we need pitching. We offer excellent run support and a home field with shitty lights where it’s hard to hit.

I think next year, we should plan on entering a tournament because it will be fun to take the show on the road and maybe bring some ringers along.

I want to thank all the fans who came out and everyone else in the league for making this year happen. Joe Graff for running the league and dealing with all the bullshit. Thanks to everyone who read the blog.

Finally, I want to thank my teammates for giving me another year to play ball. For a singles hitting hustle guy to play on a team full of former college players, albeit old ones, is pretty great. I’m happy I can contribute. As long as I can run out there in center, I’ll keep managing this team.

Quack

 

Season Over: Express 7, Ducks 5

2017 South Oakland Ducks

We made one error, and made some phenomenal plays in the field, especially Jon Moore at third base and a couple nice double play turns. In the end we still allowed 7 runs, and couldn’t hit our way out of it. True to form, we had the go-ahead run at the plate when we ran out of gas.

Patton pitched a solid 5 innings, allowing 4 runs. We were up 3-1 going into the fifth, when the Express scored 3. Sorosky got nicked for 3 in the sixth on an error, a few bleeders and then a double down the line on a hanging changeup. Moore pitched a perfect seventh.

The Express hit well. The last time we had this pitching matchup between these two teams, we won 9-1. We were up 3-1 most of the game, but couldn’t break it open after a three-run first and Heineke (sp) settled in for Carrick. We couldn’t handle his splitter.

Five games over .500 was one of our best regular season records as a team. Since 2014, this team has been a lot of fun, and it’s always shitty when it ends short of a title, because we’ve been right there all but one of the last four years. This one hurts wore than any of the last few seasons.

We haven’t have a true ace who could take over a game and strike out fifteen guys since Fago left when the team split. All our pitchers are solid ground ball pitchers, but sometimes ground balls get through. Hats off to Carrick. As I’ve said before, they are definitely better than their regular season record indicates. They have the pitching depth to get through a series if they keep hitting. We got a shitty draw, and an underrated, overachieving team in our elimination game and some of that is just bad luck.

So we have Carrick vs. Bandidos on one side, and upstart D2 vs. the Eagles on the other side of the bracket. Not what most would have expected.

This was an emotional loss for myself, and a couple guys who have been around the league for a while. This might have been TJ Morgan’s last game, pending a potential move east, and if it was his last game, there will be a proper send off on the blog, and our first number retirement of a post-Fago era Duck.

Speaking of which, maybe the Black Sox will finally fold, and we can bring a few former Ducks back to the flock next season. Double A is pretty fun, guys, if you’re reading. Probably more fun than going 5-16, which is no knock on anyone.

I really thought we had a good shot at it this season, and for it to end after one playoff game stings. Next year it will be the same core guys who put up 156 runs in 23 games, with the same resilience, and hopefully just a few games better in the regular season so we can avoid the one and done situation.

I’ll have a brief season recap at some point and team awards in the next week or so.

Thanks for reading.