Gameday 5: Ducks vs Grizzlies

2019 South Oakland Ducks

South Oakland Ducks of the North Side (3-1)

vs

Bauerstown Grizzlies (3-0)

9pm

Springview Field

The Ducks can take sole possession of first place with a win at home tonight against the undefeated Grizzlies.

Bauerstown picked up a catcher/pitcher from Pitt Johnstown who’s hitting .800, throws 95 mph, runs a 5.8, 60 yard dash, and hits 500 foot home runs. I hear he also has a solid low post game.

The Grizzlies have some solid guys and are young. They swept the Bandidos over the weekend, and beat the Devils to open the season. They are scoring 8 runs a game. Last season, they eliminated us from the playoffs in the losers bracket final, after our exhausting, ten-inning win against the Devils. Historically, we play these guys close, including a tie a couple years ago. In that game Lonnie threw out the go-ahead run at the plate in the top of the seventh. This game will probably also be close.

 

A win tonight will go a long way towards keeping us out of the losers bracket in this year’s playoffs. This will be another good test for us. I like our chances at home.

Bad News for the Grizzlies

 

 

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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.

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.

Ducks Win: South Oakland 7, West View 0

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

Three South Oakland pitchers combined to one-hit the Wolfpack for the Ducks first shutout since 2014. Ducks starter, Randy Patton (W, 2-0) went four, working out of a bases loaded jam in the third; Blaise Smily faced the minimum over two innings, and James Fago pitched the seventh. Patton and Smiley each picked off a runner at first.

The Ducks scored four runs in the first on two bases-loaded walks, and a blistering single to left by Colton Fago.

Mike Brandt singled home two runs in the fourth, and Maldonado drove in a run with a sac fly in the sixth.

South Oakland improves to 2-1 on the season; the Wolfpack drop to 0-2.

  • Casale had a double
  • Zuzak extended his three-game hitting streak
  • C. Fago was hit by a pitch and scored. He now leads the team in hbp (2)
  • I can’t look up the exact date of our last shutout because the league site is trashed and the hosts lost our records in an attempted migration.

  • Thankfully, I saved our all time stats last season
  • Here’s the temporary Ducks page until the league office gets everything figured out

 

South Oakland plays next vs the Devils, Sunday, 8:30pm at Herschel Park

Quack

Gameday 3: Ducks vs Wolfpack

2019 South Oakland Ducks

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

vs

West View Wolfpack (0-1)

9pm

Springview Field

South Oakland looks to win its second game in a row tonight against West View in a rematch of the 2014 and 2016 semifinals. West View looks to rebound from a loss to the Oilers yesterday. Last season the Wolfpack bowed out of the playoffs after too many forfeits during the regular season, a move that helped the Ducks earn a free first round bye that set the team up for a deep run that resulted in another third place finish.

Also, the Oilers haven’t lost yet. We need a win to keep pace.

The Wolfpack has been around for close to ten years now, in some iteration or another. They pulled guys from the old Sharks teams, and some from the Matadors. It would have been a shame if they folded during the off season.

West View always plays us tough. It should be a good game tonight, but I think Spring Hill gives us an edge.

 

Bad news for the Wolfpack

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.

Gameday 2: Ducks vs Bandidos

2019 South Oakland Ducks

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

vs

Dirty Birds/Biscuits/Bakery Square Bandidos (0-0)

9pm

Springview Field

After losing an error-filled but otherwise winnable game last week and a rainout in Area X on Saturday, the Ducks will host the 2017 champion Bandidos tonight if we don’t get any more rain, and the field dries out.

We generally play the various incarnations of Bakery Square pretty close. Should be a good one at the Duck pond if we can get it in.

Springview is in better shape than years past, but it’s still relying on a trench filled with leaves and syringes for drainage. The city’s lack of interest in maintaining the field is discouraging. If I win the mega millions, I’m putting in turf.

Elsewhere, the Oilers are 4-0, while the rest of the league struggles to get in games. We need to get in the win column early so we don’t get bogged down in June playing four games a week while those guys rest their pitching staff.

A win over a good team tonight before the flood hits this week would be big.

Bad news for the Bandidos

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

 

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.