“Could this really be the End?”

As I pondered what to write about late Sunday night, I had many concepts to choose from. I always try to find an inspiration that will make an interesting read. What stood out the most was the fact that the HDL is down to only 3 teams remaining who will end the season’s Play-off format.  So I started singing the words of a Bob Dylan song called “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” where there is a line that says, “Oh Mama. Can this really be the end?”

But we ain’t in Mobile, we are in Memphis and the impending end of the 2014 HDL season is rapidly approaching.

Sunday, after the Prudential Orange team was defeated by Lomax Blue team in a true “pitchers duel”, I realized all my good friends on the Orange team will be left out of the upcoming games. So, yes, I am sad and feel their pain.

Prudential Orange has played a great season.  With many of the league’s best players and best people that the HDL has to offer.  They are good baseball players and good sportsmen who respect the game we play.  As the play-off season kicked in, they were just like the other 3 teams.  They had high expectations they would contend for the final title.  After all, they entered the post season with the best record overall at 12 and 7.  They lobbied hard for the HDL to switch back to metal bats.  But the HDL majority voted to remain all wood bat for remained of 2014.

To better understand their demise, I added up all the team hits for games since July 2nd and it told an ugly story.

Prudential Orange had the fewest number of “hits” among all 4 HDL teams with only 66. (Red/109, Blue/96, Gray/79).

But what stops good hitters – PITCHING.  Since the July bat switch to wood, the other teams the Orange team faced started seeing improvements in their pitchers.  Orange team pitchers still remained excellent. But for whatever reason, the other 3 teams embraced the wood bat and that created better balance between all teams.

Team roster consistency from week-to-week may have been another important factor in Orange teams run  productivity after changing to wood bats. When key players start missing games, for whatever reason, any team will struggle with offense. But players missing HDL games is not new.  In fact, late in the season, every team has had teams struggling to fill line-up rosters. 

Another factor that changed the direction of the Prudential Orange team was the league officers decision to make a roster adjustment in June to try to help the Red Team whose record was (0-8) at that time.

Trades have always been attempted throughout our history for the sole purpose of balancing the teams so games will become more competitive.  Generally, roster changes rarely are successful.  Every year roster changes have been used for this purpose and it has basically produced nothing but unintended results. 

This year’s untimely subtraction from the Orange team became a double hit to the Orange team because at the same time Tim Harris was moved to the Red team, Kris Klinger moved out of the city.  As in any decision involving “changes”, hindsight is always 20-20.  The roster change that was made should never have happened.  As your President, I take full responsibility for that decision.  There are likely some Orange team members who will never forgive me for my actions and I don’t blame them.

Sunday Game Highlights

James Skinner was tough

James Skinner was tough

Sunday’s OrangeBlue team game was a typical Orange team game.  They jumped out for a first inning run on a key base hit by Greg Bacchus to score Cory Morgan. For 5 innings, Mr. James Skinner did some masterful pitching, getting out of bases-loaded jams in 3rd and 5th innings. When Bo McMinn left 5 Blue team runners on base in those early innings, it looked like Orange team was in full control to take this game to the “W” column, especially after Orange team tacked-on another run in bottom of the 4th inning.  But that run would be their final run of the game. 

Meanwhile, Lomax Blue kept battling and scratched a single run in the the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. 

With bases loaded in the 6th inning, Lomax Blue batter, Terry Terrell came to the plate with 2 outs.  An inside curveball caught Terry on his left arm and that forced Kevin High home from 3rd base to make the score 2-1.

Terry gets Hit (by pitch)

Terry gets Hit (by pitch)

Then in the 7th inning, Jake Hatchett sent a Skinner pitch to the fence for a lead-off triple.  Jake scored to tie the score on Bo McMinn’s infield ground ball error.  In the bottom of the 7th, Bo sit down the Orange 1-2-3. 

In he top of the 8th, Tim Wallenstrom singled and later scored the go ahead run on Bo McMinn’s double.  The next two innings were routine for the Blue team as Bo faced the minimum batters in each inning. 

Here come the blue...

Here come the blue…

Inside the numbers:  Bo McMinn – 9 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 6 K’s and 3 BB’s.  James Skinner:  9 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 7 K’s, 4 BB’s, 3 HBP.  Batting:  BlueJake Hatchett (3 for 5). One hit each for Bo McMinn, Kevin High, PW Burnett, Tim Wallenstrom.  Orange:  One hit each for:  Patrick Belote, James Skinner, Greg Bacchus, John McPhail, Jerry Tatum and John DiGiacomo. 

I expect many of the Orange team players will be at Tobey throughout the remaining play-off games to see who ends up in the final game and dream of what coulda-shoulda been them.

 

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