2011 in retrospect
I had nothing but good memories of the HDL 2011 season. Yes there were some games that failed to achieve our desired competitive goals but a game was still played and players had a chance to enjoy what baseball has to offer adult men in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. (Notice I left out the 60’s because there are only a few of us who are active enough to still hang with the young guys.)
Last season’s success was the result of a lot of effort put in during the pre-season to prepare the new managers and league officers for the details that go into making the HDL a strong organization. There were meetings, emails and phone conversations between everyone involved in the HDL. We discussed: Rules, uniforms, Tobey Field improvements and the Draft format. Prior to the start of workouts, interested players were contacted. Sponsors were notified that the HDL wanted their support in 2011. We estimated our expenses for the season based on historical best practices and then set the dues based on an expectation of roster sizes of each team. I am happy to report that we did something right because we will start the 2012 season with nearly the same cash-on-hand that we had at start of last season.
Our first workout of 2011 was on March 13th. Several new players, Chris Hill, Tony Falasca, Brad Ezekiel and Travis Hill were introduced. On March 20th, the managers and sponsors drafted their teams. After the draft, everyone felt the league was well-balanced (on paper). After the regular season started, the teams still looked to be pretty even. On May 4th, The Peterbilt of Memphis Reds were notified that Bill Brigance would not be able to finish the season. The loss of Bill B. and Andrew Vescovo deciding his work schedule had conflicts, the Peterbilt team suddenly went from 2-2 to 2-5 record by middle of June.
In mid-June the MEK Trucking Green team had a commanding record of 5-2. At the same time, Nationwide/Arlington Family Chiropractic Blue team had also rebounded from their slow start and had a record of 4-3 but were also having player attendance issues that eventually came back to haunt them. Meanwhile, the Homer Skelton Ford White Team were also 4-3 and quietly showing signs of depth and versatility. Even though they also would have key players who would be absent for important reasons, they were able to manage their human resources in such a way to minimize their weaknesses. A lot of credit goes to the imaginative managerial style of Bruce Monti and his willingness to listen to his experienced teammates.
By June, the hot summer was here and weekly schedules kicked in the Friday/Sunday format. July was a tough month for the HDL teams. The Green & White teams were stable and playing competitive baseball. The Red & Blue teams were struggling with attendance and playing quality baseball. By July 28th, the HDL had hit the home stretch and teams were starting to be concerned about format for post=season playoff games. In an effort to do something to help the Red team who in August had a record of 2 and 12, Chris Slayton and Larry Rutledge were moved to the Peterbilt team. There were discussions about making some trades to the Blue team but it never materialized.
The playoff games started off close. Homer Skelton beat Arlington Chiropractic 15-8 with the score 9-8 going into the 7th inning. Then MEK Green beat Peterbilt Reds 16-3 in week one of the best-of 3 series playoff games. In round two of both brackets, the White and Green teams dominated the Blue and Red to put themselves in the Finals to play a 2 out of 3 series.
Game one of the championship series between MEK & Homer Skelton was a great game. MEK won 5-3 over Homer Skelton. This was a true Pitcher’s duel between Brady Benjamin and Nick Harris. This game represented the best the HDL had to offer for a championship caliber game. The next week, the MEK Green team decided it was time to end the season by pulling out their heavy artillery when they had three players hit 4 Home runs: John McPhail hit 2 HR’s, Dave Pearce and Tim Harris hit one HR each. The final score was 18-6 and the only mystery was “who won the batting title?” That honor went to Mr. Cory Pratt who ended the season with a .571 average.
All-in-all, the 2011 season had lots of ups and downs, highs and lows. But what I was most satisfied with was how well the players got along and focused on playing the best baseball they could play. There were lots of laughs and good clean fun interaction between players who got to know each other both on and off the field. This is what the HDL is good about.,,,building lifelong friendships. May it never die!