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

Off-Season Updates

2019 South Oakland Ducks

We’re coming up on our sixteenth season. Last year we finished in third place after a deep playoff run that came up short. South Oakland fared well in the Capital City Classic last October, finishing with a record of 2-2, after advancing to the semis where we lost 17-14 to Steve’s Sports, basically the Cleveland equivalent of St. John’s. In his last game as a Duck, DJ Dover went 4-5, 3R HR, 2B, 5RBI. In what was a microcosm of Dover’s time in South Oakland, we hit well enough to win, and ran out of pitching. Tony Casale and Tom Pulice also hit doubles in the game and played well over the weekend. Cody Quinn pitched five scoreless innings on the first day of the tournament to help us advance. It was fun.

Our offseason started with losing the 2017 MVP

Dover showed up every game ready to play. He drove from Erie the last 2 seasons. Over the last decade and a half, I’ve come to value dependability as much as talent. There’s nothing worse than scrambling for guys the day before a game. Having a core group who can make almost all of the games, and at least give me a heads up in advance if they’re going to miss a game makes a huge difference. When the most dependable guys are also some of your best players, it’s even better. Thank you, DJ.

The offseason continued with Ducks catcher, Tom Pulice, winning the 2018 MVP Award. Congrats, Tom. Well deserved.

We also added the 2008 MVP, James Fago. His addition lead me to update a photoshop (below) for the first time in years.

After a couple seasons with the Black Sox and another year soul searching in New York, Fago will return to the Ducks for the 2019 season. So will his brother, Colton. After a summer off, they should be well rested and ready help bolster the pitching staff and lineup.

We’ve also been in talks with Tom’s friend Steve. He’s supposed to come pitch for us after a strong showing in Columbus which included vomiting outside an abandoned gas station on the ride home.

The rest of our starters are returning. We will once again roster a veteran team. If our pitching works out, we should be competitive.

That’s about it so far. Winter meetings usually start the week before the Super Bowl.

I’ve also changed the pond of retired numbers to a ring of honor, since we don’t really retire numbers.

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.

 

 

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.

 

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

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

Gameday 20: Ducks at Pour House

2013 South Oakland Ducks Baseball

South Oakland Ducks (7-12)

at

Pour House Pirates (7-10)

9:30AM

Hershel Park

The last time we played the Pirates we were pulling guys off the street to play, and we still put up 10 runs before an epic collapse in the top of the seventh in which Pour House scored nine unanswered and went on to beat us 14-10.

It would be nice if West End got nine together on Friday to at least force Pour House to use up some pitching. They play three games in four days and are one game ahead of us in the standings. This weekend is huge for playoff implications as we get down to the wire. We have almost all our starters available Saturday morning, so we don’t have any excuses if we can’t hold them under 14 runs.

Jesse Ferko is playing third.

Bad News for the Pirates

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

Ducks Sweep Bulldogs: 7-5, 10-1

2013 South Oakland Ducks Baseball, Ducks WIn, South Oakland Ducks Baseball

Ducks Pitcher, Mark Guthrie, earned his first victory of the season Saturday going five and a third strong innings, before giving way to James Fago to recorded the 1 and 2/3 inning save.

Matt Johnston had 4 hits to lead the resurgent Ducks’ offense. Stahl and Skovron both hit doubles and had multi-hit games, and there were a lot of singles and walks. Goering drove in a run. 8 Ducks starters recorded hits, and everyone in the lineup reached safely at least once. I wish I could offer more specifics, but i don’t have the book and I was half asleep during the game. We got out to an early lead and held on. The Bulldogs had the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the 7th.

James Fago pitched a complete game for the victory in game 2. South Oakland scored 2 in the top of the first. The Bulldogs answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning. The score remained 2-1 until the top of the fifth or sixth, when South Oakland scored six runs. Skovron and Fago walked, Gwin singled to load the bases and Matt Limbach doubled to make the score 4-1. Then Guthrie, Fetter and Goering singled in succession. Garret Moore drove in a run with an rbi ground out. Fago doubled in the top of the seventh and scored on an rbi ground out by Limbach.

The Bulldogs were 10-2 coming into the double header. With the victories, South Oakland raised it’s record to 6-11, and is a half game behind  Monroeville (5-9) and Carrick (6-10) who sit in 8th and 7th place respectively.

After a 1-9 start, the Ducks have won 5 of  7.

quack, quack.