Results tagged ‘ Independant Pro Baseball ’
Despite ending the first half of the season in last place, the re-vamped West Michigan Whitecaps clinched a wild card playoff spot due to their second half performance. They were a dreadfull 26-43 in the first half and have a franchise worst 76 losses overall. The ‘Caps turned things around, however, going on a 26-12 tear since July 28. This is the seventh year in a row West Michigan will be involved in the Midwest League’s post season, and the 14th time in the franchises’ 17 year history. Whitecaps’ manager Joe DePastino said there absolutely is no complacency that his team is just happy to make the playoffs after dropping to as many as 29 games under .500 in late July.
“None at all,” DePastino said. “When you’ve gone from rock bottom to where we’re at, you want to win it all. These guys want to win it. To do what they’ve done, they would be disappointed if they didn’t finish it off with a championship.”
The Whitecaps might not be favored to win the MWL title, but may have as good a chance as any team. They start tonight at home against the Lake County Captains who finished first overall in the first half, but finished below West Michigan in the second stanza. The ‘Caps played the Captains more than any other team this season (21 times!), and are 7-5 against them since the All Star break. What could be interesting here, is if Lake County activates former ‘Caps All Star pitcher Giovanny Soto who the Indians organization picked up the Jhonny Peralta deal. If the ‘Caps can slip past the first round matchup, it’s possible they could play in-state rival Great Lakes Loons who, at 90-49, have the best record in professional baseball. This won’t scare the Whitecaps too much, though, as they went 7-5 against them in the second half.
Game 1: Whitecaps 2, Captains 4
Game 2: Whitecaps 8, Captains 0
Game 3: Whitecaps 2, Captains 3-Whitecaps Eliminated
Captains go on to win Midwest League Championship
Meanwhile, north of Grand Rapids up in Traverse City, the Beach Bums are making history of their own. Ending the regular season on a three game winning streak at home, the Bums qualify for the Frontier League playoffs for the first time in their five year history. They snagged the wild card bid with a 7-0 romping of the Washington Wild Things on the 4th, and ended the regular season in dramaitic fashion beating the Wild Things again the next night 4-3. Their first playoff game is on the 9th, while hosting the Windy City Thunderbolts on September 11-12. Good luck to both teams, and I’ll be updating this post with the results.
Game 1: Beach Bums 1, Thunderbolts 5
Game 2: Beach Bums 9, Thunderbolts 2
Game 3: Beach Bums 5, Thunderbolts 3-Bums advance to Championship Series
Game 1: Beach Bums 5, River City Rascals 3
Game 2: Beach Bums 0, River City Rascals 8
Game 3: Beach Bums 2, River City Rascals 6
Game 4: Beach Bums 0, River City Rascals 2-Rascals Frontier League Champions
Photos courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps and Traverse City Beach Bums
It seems as fall is in the air, and summer is just about done. It’s an exciting time at the Major League level, but in the Minors, the seasons are winding down. For the kids, school starts on Tuesday, so we decided to head downstate and get in a couple of days of fun before it all comes to an end….
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Windy City Thunderbolts: For the second year in a row, we end our baseball season with the Bums. My parents have season tix, so we just met them at the game, and there’s no place the they’d rather be with the grandkids than a baseball game. With their birthdays about ten days apart, we had them annouced over the PA system, which made the kids feel like celebrities. The Beach Bums are making a surge for their fist ever playoff appearance, so lots of good atmosphere for the game. The kids got to meet some of the players after the game, too, which is always a thrill. Final: TC 8, WC 4.
Adventure Island: Summer wouldn’t be summer without hitting the water park. The kids enjoyed the bumper boats, but they told us it was too cold to open the water slide. Hey, were from the U.P….nothing is too cold for us. You’ll also enjoy a pic of ol’ #94 here putting on a hitting display in the batting cages. I’m contimplating making a training video…we’ll see. The park here also has go-carts and adventure golf, both a summer must.
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Hampton Pirates: I know this is a baseball blog, but I’ll throw just a little college football in here, too. Going down to watch football still didn’t stop us from visiting the baseball field there just to say hi. Hard to believe it will be seven months before baseball is played there again. The football game was fun (not as much as baseball, but at least they have cheerleaders), and we were able to dodge the rain thankfully. All in all, a good end to our summer fun. Now it’s time to track the MiLB playoffs and plan next season’s baseball trip. Final: CMU 33, Hampton 0.
Photos property of M.I.B.
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Windy City Thunderbolts: After a fun weekend at camp the kids and I decided to catch a Beach Bums game on our way back home. We were all pretty tired, but the game gave us a chance to relax and enjoy some baseball. We’ve hit at least one game every season since the team came here in 2006, and they’re all pretty fun. Not much of a crowd for a Monday night, but enough going on to keep us entertained. In the game, the Bums won 8-3 on the back of two hits by Matt Brown, who also had a stolen base. The team had four stolen bases in the game altogether including two by J.T. Hall. Ryan Platt got the win for TC on the hill. We’ll try to get to another game here this summer, but next on our slate are the Whitecaps next month on Star Wars night. Can’t wait for that one…
Photos property of MIB
Finishing up our last fun weekend of the summer with go-carts and water slides, we ended it watching the Traverse City Beach Bums taking on the Kalamazoo Kings in Frontier League action. This is the second to last game on the Beach Bums 2009 schedule, but for us, it’s most likely the last game we’ll see live untill 2010. Bummer.
It was a beautifull night for baseball, and the home team Bums won 5-2. The kids spent more time on the playground than watching the game, but at least it kept them busy. We opted for the lawn seats at Wuerfel Park, which has nice areas in the outfield to sit and watch from a blanket or lawn chair.
The kids each recieved a free baseball at the gate and they were able to get some players autographs on them. The only bummer was that former Major League pitcher and Bums pitching coach Roger Mason refused to sign for the kids. We were told he was ‘too busy’ and he basically turned his back on us. What a loser. You can see from the pic just how busy he was. Oh, well, we still didn’t let it ruin our last game.
Photos property of MIB
This is a really good article on Independant Pro Baseball. It lists some of the MLB players that took this route to ‘the show’. This is really eye opening, and gives a good description of the baseball played in these leagues. You can check it out HERE .
Here’s another good story about Minor League Baseball and it’s fan base. This makes me fee like I’m not alone with my obsession with MiLB ball. The writer gives you a feel of the game and environment better than I can. I was especially interested in the author’s experience in Burlington, as I plan on taking next years baseball trip to see all the teams in Iowa. You can check this one out HERE
Thinking that Jeff Williams being picked up by the Yankees was a ‘feel good’ story, maybe this one outshines it a bit. The Traverse City Beach Bums just signed infielder and former Florida Gater Brandon McArthur to patrol third base at Wuerful Park.
What’s amazing, is the path and adversity that McArthur has gone through to get to this point. His biggest hurdle was battling back from a severe head injury after a random act of violence in October of 2003 that put him in a drug induced coma at Tampa General Hospital. He was attacked outside a Gainsville night club and hit his head on the sidewalk. The doctors were’nt sure he’d even survive after having to remove 5% of his brain during two life-saving operations. When he was finally awake in November and went to use the restroom, he immediatly hit the floor, forgetting how to walk. He also permanatley lost his sence of taste and smell, as well as the names of all of his teammates. The doctors informed him he’s never play baseball again, and told his family that he would be paralyzed and unable to communicate.
Over the next year or so, McArthur would prove the doctors wrong. After regaining his ability to walk and talk, he next turned his attention to baseball-hitting off a tee, then slowly throwing, and taking batting practice.
On February 11, 2005, McArthur took the field at McKethan Stadium-as the Florida Gators starting third baseman. He and the Gators would go on to the best season in school history. They won the SEC Championship and even made it to the finals of the College World Series, eventually losing to Texas.
Unfortunately, this is not where the story ends. In his sophomore campain, McArthur would miss ten games with a deep bone bruise and reoccuring shin problems. He still went on to hit four doubles, two triples, two home runs, and drive in 20 runs. In 2007, his season would begin and end in the first game of the season. McArthur tore his ulnar collateral ligament during a routine throw to first base and had to suffer through a whole year of rehab. He would come back as a starter in 2008, though, only to rupture his anterior cruciate ligament. Playing injured, he still batted .367 with 20 RBI’s.
McArthur was granted a sixth year of eligability by the NCAA, and in 2009 he posted a career-best .338 average with 14 doubles, three home runs, and 20 walks. He was a .301 career batter with the Gators, with 36 doubles, eight triples and ten homers. He also earned the Academic All-SEC award and SEC-All Freshman Team honors.
Off the field, McArthur was even more valuable to his school and community. Here’s a small list of his activities: Florida Student Athlete Advisory Counsil, speaker for Fellowship of Christain Athletes, frequent visitor to the pediatric unit at Shands Hospital (where he re-habed), wheel-chair basketball with Special Olympians, speaker at ‘Youth Quake’ Christian youth event, member of Big Brothers, and speaker at the March of Dimes Health Conference in 2008 and participated in the Climb for Cancer Sports Camp.
Wow. I got tired just reading and typing all of that. Truely, this is a special individual who would not accept defeat in the wake of tragedy. Now he’s a professional baseball player. If the Beach Bums criteria of signing players is high character, then I think they just out did themselves. McArthur was a 2003 draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, so maybe he can work his way back up to that level.
Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Beach Bums
This is a pretty good reason to watch independant pro baseball, and ‘feel good’ story if I every heard one. On Monday, Jeff Williams, a closer for the Frontier League’s Traverse City Beach Bums, had his contract bought out by the New York Yankees. He has been assigned to the Charleston RiverDogs of the Class A South Atlantic League. Williams was signed by the Red Sox out of college (Colorado State-Pueblo) but never saw action in there system.
So Williams spent two and a half seasons playing independant pro ball with the Beach Bums. In that time he became the Bums single season career record holder for saves. He converted 26 straight saves dating back to June 6, 2008. That including 13 this season which is tops in the league. Williams was also and All-Star this season and even earned the save in that game by hurling a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included two strikeouts.
He also leads Traverse City this season with 23 appearanced and a tiny ERA of 0.78. Williams has not allowed a run in his last 16.2 innings of work, including 23 strikeouts. In 2008, he set a single season team record by converting on 15 saves out of 16 opportunities. He appeared in 39 games going 3-4 with a 3. 40 ERA. In 2007 he pitched 38 games and posted an ERA of 4.61 with 52 strikeout.
So, good luck Jeff, in taking your mid-nighties fast ball to the show. It’s a big step up from being a Bum in Traverse City (right in my back yard) to Charleston, SC (where I was training last month). It’s a small world, but then baseball has the habit of uniting the world.
Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Beach Bums