Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bound for Muumuu Land

The Deep in the Hole inbox nearly exploded on Saturday morning with worried readers checking in to see if tragedy had befallen the Defensive Specialist and that was the reason for his absence at Friday night’s game. Well tragedy isn’t necessarily the best way to describe it so lets just say the Defensive Specialist was in a Christmas party induced state of distress. The upside to it all is that the Defensive Specialist has sworn off alcohol for the 128th time in his life, which means that the intensity and focus for Saturday night’s game was at an all time high. With two games on the slate, we should probably get on with it.

There has been a lot of discussion around the league amongst coaches about the spotlight the Defensive Specialist has been shining on their fungo hitting. It has long been an unsung part of the role and many coaches have let the art slip because they’ve perceived it to be a devalued facet of the game. With the Defensive Specialist turning up the intensity we’ve seen numerous coaches wilt under the heat of the torch. Brisbane coach Andrew Utting was the first coach to attempt the catcher pop up on Saturday and the Defensive Specialist knew instantly that things weren’t heading in the right direction when Utting walked out on to the infield grass and began his swing halfway between the plate and the mound. You’ve heard of golfers playing to their slice? Utting was basically telling everyone in attendance that he could not hit the ball cleanly and had to allow for a heavy backhand slice. This was all made abundantly clear when he began his first attempt, which looked like he was clubbing a baby seal. It was potentially the worst dime piece swing the Defensive Specialist has ever seen – however as an optimist, the one positive came on his last swing when he managed to land a ball on first base!

Blue Sox coach Jason Popsicle is cursed by the fact that the Defensive Specialist gets to see his efforts more than any other coach in the league. On Saturday there was a certain crispness to his early fungo hitting which had the crowd whispering about the medical treatment he’d received during the week to rectify the performance issues that had been plaguing him earlier in the season. The new nasal delivery system returned his firmness and staying power, which had him excited for the crescendo. Popsicle’s toss and stroke looked good on the first attempt, which he skied with good height and managed to land just outside the cut-out. Buoyed by his performance and the positive feedback he received from his partner, he tossed and stroked again and sent an even better effort skyward, landing the second ball just to the back of the cut-out. Popsicle was so energised by his return to form that he sent a shout out to the fans in the stands – big boy, lets see you land one on the plate before we anoint you the king of dime pieces!

As many loyal readers will know, the Defensive Specialist is somewhat of a doyen when it comes to baseball fashion so you can easily imagine your old pal choking on his ice water when the managers came out to exchange line-ups before game 1 and Bandits manager David Nilsson appeared to be wearing a tent over his uniform (an oversized black fleece with the sleeves cut off).

Anyway, with the line-ups exchanged it was time for game 1 of the double dip. David Welch took the ball for Sydney with the goal to turn around his form and provide the Sox with a solid outing.  The Blue Sox announcing crew took the emasculation of opposing hitters to a new level by playing Celine Dion as Bandits lead-off hitter Wade Dutton approached the dish and the strategy paid dividends as Welch powered through 6 innings yielding zero runs, allowing only 5 hits and striking out 8.

His counterpart Ryan Searle cruised through 2 innings before running into trouble in the third. Trent Schmutter singled solidly to rightfield as did Trent D’Antonio, which put runners on first and third for Techno Tim Auty. Guest DJ Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) cued a fat base line and then unleashed 18000 beats per minute as Auty strutted to the dish. With electronica still causing issues with his cochlear, Searle allowed a stolen base to D’Antonio and then baulked to score Schmutter and advanced D’Antonio to third. Manager Nilsson rumbled out of the dugout in his poncho to protest the call to no avail. Techno Tim then grounded to second to plate the second run of the inning.

During the game it was announced that the General Managing Partner of the world champion San Francisco Giants – Bill Neukom was in attendance. And why wouldn’t a multi millionaire businessman on holiday in Australia stop in at a local baseball game all the way out in Blacktown? Anyway, he’s a pretty interesting dude according to his Wikipedia page.

Searle got the Bandits through 5 and was relieved in the 6th by John Veitch who punched out the first 2 hitters he faced but then gave up a double to the Bossman who had to use airbrakes to pull up into second base. David Kandilas was sent in as a pinch runner and he scored on a close play at the plate on a line drive to left by Michael Lysaught. Lysaught advanced to second on the throw and then committed a base running gaffe by breaking too early on the next pitch. The throw to third easily beat him but Brad Dutton inexplicably missed the tag  - safe! Mark Holland’s abysmal season at the plate continued as he popped out to short to end the inning.

Dae Sung Koo was summoned from the pen to lock down his 5th save of the season and despite a less than smooth inning (yielding 1 run) he pulled through to preserve the Sydney victory. The whole game seemed to fly by in approximately 57 minutes thanks to both pitchers (Welch and Searle) limiting the free passes and working quickly. Welch was the clear cut “Defensive Specialist Player of the Game” in picking up his first win and manager Glenn Williams will surely hope this is the return to form that Welch has been seeking.

Game 2

The Defensive Specialist broke out the homemade sandwiches and recalibrated the stopwatch and radar in preparation for the nightstand. Chris Oxspring was slated to go up against Hiroki Yamada in what had the makings of a pitcher’s duel. In between games, Bandits manager Dave Nilsson put his entire roster in a bag, shook it up and randomly drew names to determine positions and batting order. The only players from game 1 who remained in the same fielding position were left fielder Akira Nakamura and Josh Roberts.  The reconstituted line up looked to be paying off as they had the unflappable Oxspring suddenly flappable. Oxspring has had an unbelievable first month of the season and is a clear front-runner for the “Deep in the Hole Dude of the Month” award so it was interesting to see him a little rusty in the early stages. In the second inning he walked Mitch Nilsson, gave up a single to David Sutherland and was saved on an outstanding play by Andy Graham at the plate when Andrew Campbell singled to centre and Nilsson was waved home. Trent Schmutter’s throw drifted up the line so Graham had to pick it then dive to the plate in order to tag a sliding Nilsson. For that performance, Graham earns the “Deep in the Hole Play of the Game”.

Yamada ran into trouble in the bottom of the second when he issued a lead off walk to the Bossman and then a duck fart single down the right field line to Graham that barely landed fair. The Bossman lumbered to third on the single and scored on a double play ball by Michael Lysaught. Yamada displayed a clear dislike of the strike in the 3rd inning as he gave up a single to David Kandilas, and walked Trent D’Antonio. Techno Tim punched out trying to bunt with 2 strikes
But Schmutter kept the momentum going with a walk of his own. Mystery Man Alex Johnson then hit the shallowest sac fly in baseball history to second base allowing Kandilas to hustle home and score the second run. The free passes hurt Yamada again in the 5th as he committed the cardinal sin of walking the 9 hole guy (Kandilas) and allowed a single to D’Antonio. Kandilas went first to third on that play and scored on a Techno Tim double play ball to give the Blue Sox a 3 run lead.

Oxspring had cruised after his rough early innings but the 6th inning proved to be his undoing. Shuhei Fukuda singled to rightfield crisply. Brad Dutton then grounded to Lysaught at short, who flipped to Holland at second. The ball hit Holland in the glove and clearly bounced out without him taking any form of control over it. The umpire did not agree and ruled Fukuda out on the play. Manager Nilsson chugged it out to second base in his muumuu to dispute the call to no avail. Nakamura then grounded to the Bossman at first who fumbled the ball allowing runners on first and second with one out. A  hard hit ground ball by Josh Roberts skipped past the ole’ing Lysaught to load the bases. A sac fly by Nilsson to left scored Dutton and then Sutherland drove a ball to deep left centre that scored Nakamura easily and saw Roberts charging for home. The ball and runner arrived at the same time as Roberts barrelled into Graham to score the 3rd run of the inning. Game tied.

Yamada gave way to Chris Mowday who was stellar in relief while Oxspring lasted 7 before being replaced by Matt Williams. Neither team could dent the scoreboard in regulation and the crowd found itself in extra innings. It looked like we’d be settling in for the long haul until the top of the 11th when the boys from Brisbane decided to loosen their belt buckles and drop a steaming 9 spot on the Blue Sox. Wade Dutton started things off with a double to right while Fukuda picked up 5th knock of the game with a single to centre. Mitch Dening had a severe brain cramp and airmailed the throw to 3rd allowing Fukuda to move up to second, Brad Dutton was intentionally walked and Nakamura followed with a sac fly to centre scoring Wade Dutton. After a Roberts fly out to short, Nilsson punched out on a ball in the dirt. Stone Hands Maat who was in the game as catcher fumbled the ball allowing Nilsson on at first. Sutherland then grounded to Lysaught who was eaten alive by it allowing Fukuda to score. Rory Rhodes got a sawn off and despite breaking his bat dunked a ball into centre that plated 2 and moved Sutherland up to second. Campbell then doubled to centrefield bringing two runners in before Glenn Williams mercifully lifted Williams for Matthew Rae who promptly gave up an RBI single to Wade Dutton, and then yielded Fukuda’s 6th knock of the game. Brad Dutton doubled to right field to score yet another 2 before the carnage was quelled with a Nakamura pop out to the Bossman. 

Simon Morriss relieved the fantastic Mowday and powered through the Blue Sox middle order to conclude the contest. 12-3. 
Although Fukuda notched an unbelievable 6 hits, Chris Mowday walks away with the “Defensive Specialist Player of the Game Award” for his 4.2 innings of no hit relief work that kept the Bandits in the game despite going up against arguably the best pitcher in the league. Dave Nilsson and his tarpaulin will be extremely pleased with his ballclub’s resolve to stay in the game and attack when the time presented as well as its stellar errorless defence.  They’ll be going for the jugular in game 4 in the hope that they can steal a series on the road against one of the better teams in the competition.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Complex Algorithms

Alright, its that time of the week again when the Defensive Specialist sits down in front of the Deep in the Hole supercomputer, punches in a bunch of complex algorithms and generates a series of infallible predictions for the upcoming round of games. For two weeks straight now the level of accuracy has been astonishing…….ly bad. Seriously, if you happen to be a degenerate gambler then you really need to stop reading right now – the Defensive Specialist does not want to be held responsible for marriage breakdowns or forfeiture of assets as a result of bad betting.

Ok, with that warning the Defensive Specialist is ready to give it another crack.

Sydney Blue Sox Vs. Brisbane Bandits

Baseball returns to NSW this week and your old pal is ready for some live action again with the Blue Sox taking on the Bandits. Last week the teams split their series on Brisbane soil even though two Blue Sox players took out awards for their outstanding contributions; Chris Oxspring and Alex Johnson.  Oxspring has had more ink in this forum than any other player, but he keeps tossing out gems to the point that perhaps we should start referring to him as the jeweller. Last week’s one hitter was exactly what the Blue Sox needed after falling behind 2-0 in the series, and really halted any momentum the Bandits had going. The Defensive Specialist was unable to find out why he was held until game 3 of the series although logic suggests the first game of the double header being 7 innings meant that manager Glenn Williams could use him for the entire contest and save his bullpen. Expect that to occur again on Saturday as the teams play a double dip.

Johnson, the mystery man from parts unknown, dropped 2 bombs and racked up 5 RBI’s last week to propel himself to the top of the batting leader board. His improbable hot streak was predicted by an anonymous reader in this forum a week or so back who really should drop the Defensive Specialist an email revealing his or herself so that their powers of prediction can be used to prop up the Defensive Specialist. As with any newcomer to the scene, it will be interesting to see how he maintains his form as the league gets repeated looks at him.

The Blue Sox trail only the Bite as an offensive ballclub, but haven’t had stand out performances from the usual suspects such as Trent D’Antonio, Mitch Dening, Stone Hands Maat and Andy Graham. If these four guys are able to perform at their expected level the Blue Sox attack could be very dangerous. On a brighter note, Techno Tim Auty is back in the country fresh off his runaway victory at the World Electronic Dance Championships. His bat will be a welcome return to the 2-hole as will his 17000 beats per minute sound track.

They say that being crapped on by a bird is lucky so perhaps that’s what happened to the Bandits last week when they won 2 games against the heavily favoured Blue Sox. 
Look carefully at the picture and really zone in on the helmet
James Albury has provided two steady outings and appears to be a staff leader although his walk and strikeout totals do not fill the Defensive Specialist with hope. In fact, the entire staff seems to love the base on balls with Hiroki Yamada punching out 14 in 11 innings of work with 6 BB’s and Ryan Searle issuing 5 in 10 innings. If the starters keep providing additional outs, it makes it tough to stay in games. From an offensive perspective, Joshua Roberts and Wade Dutton (the recipient of the bird turd deposit) have led the way but there is still a long way to go as the team has the lowest run tally in the league and no one has left the yard yet which is a concern.

Prediction- Sydney needs the rest of its rotation to figure itself out with Wayne Lundgren uncharacteristically bad last week and David Welch getting knocked around for the second consecutive outing. Having said that, the Defensive Specialist expects the Blue Sox to recalibrate themselves and get right after the Bandits on their home turf. Blue Sox to win the series 4-0.

Adelaide Bite Vs. Perth Heat

Another series that was split right down the middle last week with the key difference this time around being the loss of a major Perth Heat bat – Luke Hughes. You don’t easily replace a 3-hole thumper like Hughes, especially since he had begun to Heat up. The Heat will hope to plug the hole and rely more heavily on imports Robbie Widlansky and Ronnie Welty while praying long term contributors Mitch Graham (.114), Allan de Sa Miguel (.182) and Matt Kennelly (.154) turn it up a notch as they take on the most explosive offensive team in the competition.

The Heat starting pitching is bolstered with the return to the rotation of Liam Hendriks who dealt last week and now has 9 strike outs in 7 innings of work with only 3 hits. Daniel Schmidt was cruising for the second week in a row until the bus broke down in struggle town and he was gang banged in one inning. The Heat bullpen has been a real strong point for them this season and they’ll need to be on point as they go up against the Adelaide squad.

The Q-Tip leads the way for the Bite hitting at a robust .441 clip with 4 long balls and 12 RBI’s. Backing him up are James McOwen and Brandon Bantz who have proven to be valuable additions to the squad in a short period of time. These three guys are absolutely critical to the Adelaide team, as their output has carried some fairly poor contributions from other key members.

On the mound the Bite have to be happy with what they’ve received from their big 3- Paul Midlren (1-1, 2.13 ERA), the ageless Darren Fidge (2-0, 3.21 ERA) and Dushan Ruzic (1-0, 1.98 ERA). Ryan Murphy and Wayne Oughs contributions have been solid out of the pen with Brandon Maurer expected to continue to improve. Adelaide’s pitching is heavily reliant on their starters extending in to the latter innings as the rest of their bullpen is somewhat suspect.

Prediction- The Heat head to the raucous Norwood Oval, minus a big bat, and with the Bite riding high after splitting on the road… the home crowd will propel Adelaide to a 3-1 series win.

Melbourne Aces Vs. Canberra Multiculturalists

The two worst offensive teams in the competition square off at Melbourne’s new home ground – the MCG! Ok that’s a white lie, they’re actually playing at the Melbourne Showgrounds which has been renovated to look and feel just like the MCG! The Aces will be happy to be in friendly territory and will hope that with some fan support they can make a dent in the win column.

Josh Davies has been the leading light for the Aces offensively, hitting at a .379 mark. Runs have been hard to come by and as a result no one jumps out of the stat sheet as a major producer. Justin Huber needs to dig deep and find something for his team as his anaemic 2-29 offering to this point is not helping the cause. At the outset of the season much bigger things were also expected of Matthew Lawman and Scott Wearne and the Japanese imports are staring down the barrel of a straight swap for a bento box (miso soup included) if they don’t start bringing something to the table.

You know your pitching staff is in a spot of bother when your starting catcher has the best ERA on the ball club (ok, that was a cheap shot, Grant Karlsen was obviously used in mop up duty during a blow out). Adam Blackley was much better in his second outing and Greg Wiltshire provided a quality start for Melbourne in his first appearance. Donovan Hendriks has not had the start he’d hoped for (8+ ERA with 1 strike out n 6 innings) and Norihito Kaneto is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in his 2 outings.  Surely one of the 16 coaches on the coaching staff has some expertise in pitching to fix this?

For the Multiculturalists Jun Hyeok Heo takes the ball in game 1 and at this point the Defensive Specialist doesn’t really know what to expect from him. In 3 starts he’s gone 1-2, striking out 10 in 12 innings while only walking 2. Steve Kent has made 3 starts for the Canberra team while only pitching 7 innings, which obviously brings the bullpen into play very early in the contest. Phil Brassington is pencilled in as a starter this weekend which always makes for interesting viewing since the knuckleball can be a hero or villain on any given day (or any inning for that matter). With Kent and Brassington in the rotation there is a chance that the bullpen will be tested and to this point it hasn’t been the steadiest part of the operation for manager Steve Schrenk.

Michael Collins continues to mash for the Multiculturalists although you’d love to see a little more pop from him. After his big numbers, things drop off with contributions from Tom Vincent and Nick Kimpton and then a barren wasteland. The Multiculturalists desperately need Didi Gregorious setting the table and greater contributions from Donald Lutz and the Korean contingent who should probably imagine the Melbourne hurlers to be Kim Jong-il and take out their rage on him.

Prediction- Ok, the Defensive Specialist is going big here and suggesting that the Aces spark up in front of their home crowd at the mini MCG and deliver a beat down on the Multiculturalists to take the series 3-1.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Iceman: You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the air, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous.

Maverick: That's right! Ice... man. I am dangerous

That quote may in fact represent that most homo erotic part of the most non-intentional homo erotic movie ever made (oh you don’t believe your old pal? How about Mav delivering his retort and thoughtfully dusting off Iceman’s shirt at which point Iceman chomps his teeth!)– well until Point Break came along. Now the Defensive Specialist understands that a large proportion of the Deep in the Hole audience may have just punched their computer screen while screaming “No way Bodhi was gay!!” Watch the movie again – the main characters name was Johnny Utah, he jumped out of a plane without a parachute and landed on Bhodi’s back (a metaphor for unprotected sex)! The Defensive Specialist could keep going....

The reason for the Top Gun quote? Well the Defensive Specialist wanted to spend some time talking about the most dangerous hitters in the league today. We’re not talking about the best hitters in the league, we’re talking about those guys that opposing managers want nothing to do with late in the game with runners on. In the manager’s mind, these guys are unsafe, every time they come to the plate, they’re dangerous.

Before the Defensive Specialist parlays that awesome analogy into a baseball post, we should probably run through the Defensive Specialists series predictions to see how dialled in your dear writer has been lately in picking horse flesh:

Melbourne Aces Vs. Canberra Multiculturalists

The Defensive Specialist called a 2-2 result and low and behold we got a 2-2 split. Both teams have to be happy to get off the schnide and open up the W account. As predicted, it was a scrappy affair with a number of games heading to extra innings but both managers will be pleased that every game was competitive(although Phil Dale may be scratching his head over the state of his pitching staff).

Sydney Blue Sox Vs. Brisbane Bandits

Series prediction was 3-1 to the Blue Sox. Actual result was a 2-2 split. The Defensive Specialist did not anticipate the Bandits kicking the front door down and putting Wayne Lundgren to the sword in game 1 or hanging tough for 12 innings in game 2. Chris Oxspring restored order to the universe in game 3 by reeling off a 1 hitter in game 3 to continue his dominance.

Adelaide Bite Vs. Perth Heat

The Defensive Specialist picked a 3-1 victory to the Heat. The Bite further weakened the Defensive Specialist’s credibility by winning 2 games and splitting the series. Another tight series saw both teams battle it out in 3 of the 4 games, including a walk off Johnson in the 12th inning of game 3.

The lesson learned from all of this? At no stage should you go to your local casino and bet your mortgage on any of the Defensive Specialists series predictions!

Righto, let’s get back on track and start talking about hitters that managers want no part of with the game on the line. The Defensive Specialist needs to put a few parameters on this thing before a raft of angry emails and comments come in stating that “Manager X pitched around hitter Y in the last series which means he must be super dangerous and you’re and idiot for not mentioning him”. Every team has a hitter that you don’t want beating you, but not every line up has a guy that you genuinely worry about giving them anything close to the strike zone in a leveraged situation. Think about Barry Bonds in his homerun mashing hey day – in 2004 he was INTENTIONALLY walked 120 times, including 4 in one game and ended the season with 232 base on balls.

Since the majority of hitters in the ABL are young, we can’t expect Popeye strength but we are looking for hitters with genuine home run power and the ability to drive the ball. There is a difference in pitching to a guy who can line a ball over short for a knock and a guy who can drive a ball over the street behind the fence. Already the list of hitters with this ability is shortening but for the sake of this exercise, let’s take a look at some of the most dangerous hitters in the ABL and figure out who is the most dangerous.

Nick Kimpton – Baseball fans will recall a couple of years ago Kimpton set the Claxton Shield on fire offensively while playing for the Perth Heat. While being a solid contributor for the Multiculturalists so far this season, Kimpton is not a guy who strikes fear in the opposing managers heart as he isn’t the long ball threat and is susceptible to left handing pitching.

Mitch Dening – Loyal readers will be well aware of the Defensive Specialists man crush on Dening’s left handed stroke but even though they say love is blind, you’re old pal is cognizant enough to know that at this stage of his career, Dening doesn’t have the pop to be considered the most dangerous. What he does have is a line drive / doubles swing that with time (and man strength) may develop into a consistent home run stroke. It’s probably too early to call it, but the dude on the Blue Sox who does look a little frisky is Alex Johnson who has emerged from parts unknown to launch 3 bombs and lead the team in RBI’s. Perhaps he is basking in the “who the F is this guy, let’s see if he can hit my fastball?” glow young or new hitters often experience early in their careers. Once pitchers figure that he can hit the fastball and start mixing up their offerings, we’ll get a better read on Mr Johnson.

Justin Huber – On paper he ticks all the boxes but at the present moment 2 for 29 isn’t causing heart palpitations in the opposition dugout.

Robbie Widlansky – The import lefty looks the real deal, leading the team in hitting and demonstrating doubles power however there may not be the juice to be a consistent long ball threat.

Luke Hughes – You don’t get to the big leagues on good looks alone and while Hughes is a decent looking cat, he also has some ability with the bat. Hughes has power to spare at this level but after a lengthy lay off due to injury, he’s just beginning to find his way again as evidenced by his 7 punch outs.

Ronnie Welty – Yes, the Defensive Specialist knows that he has just rattled off 3 Heat players but Welty has the chops to be on this list and was given rave reviews by a number of readers in attendance at the last series. The12th inning walk off effort in game 3 was described as ”one of the hardest and furthest hit balls I have ever seen at Barbagallo Park” which is quite the statement when you consider that balls have to be clobbered to get out of that place (especially to left centre where it exited).Welty does also have an 18 homerun season on his resume in professional baseball which helps back up some of the hyperbole.

James McOwen – You dont often see lead off guys on a “Most Dangerous” list but McOwen has started with a bang and warrants mentioning. Aside from hitting .400, he has an on base percentage of .462, scoring 7 and driving in 9 with 2 home runs.

Quincy Latimore – the Q Tip has decided that playing baseball in Australia is agreeable to his swing with 4 long balls, 3 doubles, 12 RBI’s and 9 runs. If he decided to walk a little more (only 2) his on base percentage would be considerably higher than .482.

So who’s the most dangerous hitter in the league right now? It has to be the Q Tip who is making short work of ABL pitching and provides a legitimate long ball threat every time he comes to the plate. The scouting report on him reads a little like this:

Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.
Now obviously most young hitters don’t fare overly well against good breaking stuff and Latimore is no different. Having said that with the winning run on second would any manager think to pitch to Latimore in the hope that their pitcher can snap off a couple of quality breaking balls to beat him? Probably not, and that’s why we’re crowning him the most dangerous.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hustle Picks

Its 7.48pm as the Defensive Specialist sits down to bang out previews and predictions for the clashes between the Canberra Multiculturalits / Melbourne Aces and Brisbane Bandits / Sydney Blue Sox. So that it doesn’t look like your old pal is cheating and checking box scores, lets toss out a couple of calls right now:

Sydney will win the series 3-1
Melbourne and Canberra will split 2-2

Ok, so with that out of the way, lets take an abbreviated look at both series.

Bandits Vs. Blue Sox

Interestingly Chris Oxspring doesn’t get the start in game one for the Blue Sox – perhaps he’s still rattled from Nick Kimptons proclamation that he wasn’t very good. Whatever the reason, he’s ably covered by Wayne Lundgren who’s looking for his 3rd win of the season. The rest of the Sydney rotation is less than settled after David Welch got belted around last week by the Multiculturalists. It will be interesting to see how manager Glenn Williams fills out the remaining two spots in the starting rotation. One thing he doesn’t have to worry about is his bullpen, which looks like it’s a real strong point.

Offensively the Blue Sox are led by Trent D’Antonio who’s off to a hot start, and Mitch Dening who has made solid contact consistently with limited luck. The real blow to the Blue Sox is the absence of Techno Tim Auty who is rumoured to be in Ibiza at the World Electronic Dance Championships where he is looking to defend his crown. Alex Johnson will likely feature prominently after the splash he made in his debut and more output will be needed from Andy Graham, Stone Hands Maat and the Bossman.

The Bandits will pin their hopes on James Albury in game 1, praying that he can repeat last week’s effort against the Perth Heat. Ryan Searle and  Hiroki Yamada will likely start during the series and manager David Nilsson will hold his breath as he hands the ball to Reo Chikada after he set the bar fairly low last week with 7 walks in 3 innings.  The Bandits’ rotation looks a little shaky in all honesty and will be challenged by a strong Sydney offense. As for the Bandits at the plate? They definitely didn’t light the league on fire against the Heat and will need to scrap if they hope to hang with the Blue Sox. Wade Dutton had a good opening series and Shuhei Fukuda displayed some tools but the rest of the line underperformed. To make matters worse, the Bandits displayed porous defence across the series with 7 errors. If you aren’t going to bang the ball around, you cant give the opposition extra outs.

The Blue Sox are just an overall better ballclub and should go into RNA and take the series.

Multiculturalists Vs. Aces
Two teams looking desperately to get off the schnide face off at the brand new ballpark situated in the nation’s capital. If you told the Defensive Specialist before the season that the Aces would be winless after the first series he would have snorted in your face, better yet if you told the Defensive Specialist that they’d concede 35 runs he’d probably projectile vomit. Yes, the Aces’ beat up pitching staff flies into Canberra with their tale between their legs hoping to capitalize on a Multiculturalists team who have their own confidence issues.

The Aces will pray that their starters – Blackley, Hendriks, Hertzler and Kaneto can turn it up a notch and give them more than they did last week when they ran into the Adelaide Bite buzz saw. Aside from Matthew Blackmore, every pitcher on the staff took a whooping, so as a group they’ll need to have short memories and go right at the Multiculturalists who as mentioned in this very forum don’t have too bad a lineup. It’s not like the Aces pitching staff is the only part of the team to blame as the hitters may have forgotten to pack their wood last week as well. Josh Davies and Matthew Lawman led the charge but the drop off from there was precipitous. You’d think with 18 people on the coaching staff that some serious instruction has taken place this week at practice and the boys from Melbourne can muster a little more attack.

The Multiculturalists got a lot of ink here last week and after a week of licking their wounds, they’ll be keen to open their new ballpark with a bang. Led offensively by Nick Kimpton and Michael Collins, their hitters will be eager to pounce on the ego-damaged Aces pitching staff. They desperately need some table setting from Didi Gregorious and whoever hits in the 2-hole (Andrew Schmidt looked pretty good there), as well as increased output from the Korean contingent. On the mound Heo and Jin need to eat some innings and Steve Kent needs to stretch it out so as not to expose the thin bullpen. It will be interesting to see who manager Steve Shrenk uses to fill the 4th starter position because there doesn’t appear to be a stand out candidate at this stage. As an interesting aside, Indian sensation Rinku Singh has been added to the roster.

Both teams have been on the ropes and the Defensive Specialist envisions a scrappy contest. If the Multiculturalists can keep the Aces out of their pen early they have the offense to get W’s but the Aces pitching staff is better than it showed last week. An evenly matched contest that will ultimately result in a split.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Midnight Marauders

Round 2 action opens up on Wednesday night over on the left coast with a tasty contest featuring 3-1 Perth Heat and the 4-0 Adelaide Bite. Since the Defensive Specialist was so spot on with his last set of predictions, it only makes sense that your old pal takes another look at the teams and gives the loyal readers a fairly detailed assessment of how things are going to play out. At the outset of the ABL season, it’s fair to say that both teams featured in most experts’ top four so it’s no surprise that both made short work of their opponents in the opening series. What was surprising was how both teams went about it – almost flying in the face of what those “so called” experts determined were their strengths and weaknesses.

In years past the Heat have always been a team that pitched the hell out of the ball. With key player losses on the pitching staff, it seemed like their pitching was on the downward swing just as their offense was maturing into a vaunted attack. With home grown hitters like Luke Hughes, Tim Kennelly and Mitch Graham growing into their ‘man strength’ years, the Heat line-up had the potential to put beat downs on almost any team. Early indications are that the Heat will combine their local products with a couple of imports to once again build an imposing line up.

The thinking for 2010/2011 was the offense would drive the bus and the pitching just had to keep them in games. The news that Hughes and Kennelly likely wouldn’t play together put a crinkle in that plan, but on paper they had enough bats to bang it around. So imagine the Defensive Specialist’s surprise when the Heat flew in to Brisbane and beat the Bandits 3 games to 1 while scoring 12 runs and yielding 11. That ‘runs against’ tally was one bullpen implosion away from being 6 - a measly 1.5 runs per game! With outstanding performances from youngsters Daniel Schmidt (8 innings, 0 runs) and Warwick Saupold (5 innings, 0 runs) and a solid contribution from Liam Baron (6 innings, 3 runs) suddenly it was the Heat’s starting pitching that looked imposing. Couple that with excellent bullpen contributions from Liam Hendricks, Cameron Lamb and Tyler Anderson and the boys from Perth were continuing the Year of the Pitcher!

Offensively the Heat walked away with 3 wins despite limited contributions from the heart of their line up  - Hughes (3 for 14) and Graham (3 for 16). Centrefielder Brandon Dale and outfielder/first baseman Robbie Widlansky carried much of the load offensively but all in all, manager Brooke Knight would be hoping for a little more firepower.

Adelaide on the other hand came into this season as a team whose pitching looked to be in good order. Led admirably by Paul Mildren last season, the Bite pitching staff gave themselves a shot in every contest with excellent starting pitching and a solid relief corp. Darren Fidge, Dushan Ruzic and Ryan Murphy were expected to play significant roles alongside Mildren with US import Brandon Maurer chipping in quality innings. The plan was simple – limit the opponent’s output and hope that the offense could scratch enough runs out to get a W, especially when last year’s champs roll into town.

And boy, didn’t it all go to plan! Sure Mildren, Fidge and Ruzic dealt, yielding only 4 earned runs between them in almost 22 innings but it was the offense that blew the doors off, cranking out 35 runs across the 4 game series and wiping the field with the Aces pitching staff. Led by imports Quincy Latimore (6 for 14, 3 bombs, 6 runs, 8 RBI’s and an OPS of 1.601), Brandon Bantz (6 for 11, 5 RBI’s) and James McOwen (7 for 17, 4 runs, 5 RBI’s) and professional hitter Ben Wigmore (6 for 15, 2 HR’s and 6 RBI’s), the Bite were midnight marauders (obscure A Tribe Called Quest reference – bonus Deep in the Hole point to any commentor who can provide the link to this post) from an offensive perspective.  That sort of output is unrealistic to expect each week but judging by the feedback the Defensive Specialist received from those in attendance, Latimore looked like a man amongst boys and McOwen and Bantz seemed pretty comfortable facing the Melbourne pitching that was dominant just one year ago.

So who comes out on top in this series? Well the Heat add another import bat in outfielder Ronnie Welty (another contender for name of the year, along with Didi Gregorious and Boss Moanaroa) who popped 18 long balls last season in high A ball. Despite losing Dale to work commitments, the Defensive Specialist expects Hughes to step it up for the home opener and Widlansky to maintain his hot start. Pitching-wise it may be ambitious to hope for similar outputs from the likes of Saupold and Schmidt, but if they are competitive and Cole McCurry can be stretched out to more than 3 innings they should be strong on the mound.

The Bite would love their starters to repeat last week’s performance (well perhaps Maurer could tighten his up) and will be praying at the altar of the Baseball Gods that Latimore continues the Q-Tip ManWomanBoogie that he’s put on the league so far:

If Wigmore, Bantz and McOwen can be joined by Stefan Welch, the Adelaide line-up suddenly looks scary good. That offense + that pitching = a force to be reckoned with.

Prediction you ask again?

Can’t you tell the Defensive Specialist is stalling? It’s important to remember how tough it is to sweep a series – either home or on the road, so with that in mind, the guru of successful series outcomes predicts that the teams will split 2-2. Yes, the Defensive Specialist knows that call really flies in the face of his ‘balls on the line’ mentality but early in the season there are too many variables with both teams to call a clear cut victor.

You’re right the Defensive Specialist is being a pussy – Perth Heat in their home opener (despite playing one game at 11am) 3 games to 1.

Monday, November 15, 2010

'Some people would rather die than think' - Bertrand Russell

Look, Bertrand makes a pretty good point in the above quote and hopefully it inspires everyone to get a library membership, check out a couple of book and attempt to get your grey matter churning. On the other hand, when you have a baseball academic like the Defensive Specialist doing all the heavy lifting, who needs to think? So sit back, soak up what the Defensive Specialist is breaking down and get smarter by osmosis – its that simple.

There are always a few doubters out there, people who for whatever reason and despite all evidence refuse to believe. As a means to prove the Defensive Specialists brain power perhaps now is an opportune time to discuss the series predictions the Defensive Specialist threw out before the first round of fixtures: 
  • Perth Heat Vs. Brisbane Bandits- you’re old pal predicted a 3-1 series win to the Heat. And the actual result? Yep you guessed it, 3-1 to the Heat. TICK. The Heat went to Brisvegas, dropped game 1 then reeled off 3 consecutive wins to take the series.
  • Melbourne Aces Vs. Adelaide Bite – continuing the Midas touch, the Defensive Specialist called a 3-1 series win to the Bite. TICK……. Oh wait, the Defensive Specialist capitulated and hedged his bets by calling a 2-2 series result. Mental Midget. Didn't matter, the Bite swept the series.
  • Canberra Multiculturalists Vs. Sydney Blue Sox – ok, this whole exercise is doing the Defensive Specialist no favours by this stage. The prediction was a 3-1 series victory to the Blue Sox and it almost looked like it may happen in the last game as the Multiculturalists came out firing. Unfortunately for the Defensive Specialist’s credibility, the Blue Sox had too much firepower and too much pitching which resulted in a win and a series sweep. 

So that didn’t help, but as Theodore de Bouville said “Those who do nothing are never wrong”. With that in mind, lets do something, lets delve deeper into the Defensive Specialist’s game notes and come up with a couple of key insights in a post we here at Deep in the Hole like to call “What has the Defensive Specialist Learnt?”

1. Having an Ace is important. Yeah, the Defensive Specialist knows this was a key learning from last week, but as Chris Oxspring demonstrated again, having a big arm that can chew up a chunk of innings not only gives your ball club a chance to win each time out but also spares the bullpen, which is critical over a 4 game series. You need only look at recent World Series victors the San Francisco Giants, who rode their 3 guns to a championship with rag tag offensive support, to understand how important good starting pitching is. Oxspring was a little rocky early on, giving up a big fly to Nick Kimpton but once he settled he was lights out and in command through 8 innings. He maintained his velocity and even flirted with 92 mph twice during the game.

As an additional highlight for readers, the Defensive Specialist stumbled across this pretty cool video detailing the Multiculturalists opening game. However it gets even better at the 7.51 minute mark when Multiculturalist manager Steve Schrenk says to an unidentified player (who very much resembles Nick Kimpton):

“That Oxspring is probably the best pitcher in the league.”

To which Kimpton replies:

“You know what, he’s not that good.”

Ahh Nick, you may have taken him yard, but he’s just shoved the bat up your team’s rectum on two occasions now. It’s safe to assume that Oxspring may have that little sound bite stored in his memory bank for future reference.

2. The Multiculturalists need to get their staff in order. Look it’s early in the season and you’d expect teams to be a little rough and tumble early on, but as the Canberra team demonstrated, if you don’t get solid starting pitching early on a series can unravel mightily quickly. Steve Kent has the potential to be an ace, but if he can’t go more than two innings per outing he is leaving the bullpen exposed over the course of a contest. As the Defensive Specialist mentioned in an earlier post, perhaps his best use would be out of the pen to lock down any leads the Multiculturalists may have.

3. A position battle may be brewing in the Blue Sox camp. A reader launched a vociferous campaign in support of Alex Johnson who made his ABL debut in game 3 of the series and hit a big 3 run bomb in game 4. The basis of the argument was that he provides more with the bat that Pat ‘Stone Hands’ Maat which definitely was the case in this series just gone. Stone Hand’s bat looked slow and sluggish and he really laboured to catch up to mid 80’s fastballs. Johnson on the other hand looked dialed in during his AB’s with consistently hard contact. Adding to his case, he looked serviceable at first base. In Stone Hand’s defence (and that term is used very loosely when discussing Stone Hands), he has a proven track record at this level and surprised the Defensive Specialist with his outing behind the plate, displaying good receiving skills and a strong arm.
So what’s a manager to do? Well skipper Glenn Williams really has 4 of the same sort of player – that is, big corn-fed mules. Andy Graham, Stone Hands, Johnson and the Bossman are all solid units who look to pull fastballs and contribute limited amounts on defence (Graham contributes a bit more behind the plate admittedly). At the moment Johnson and the Bossman are the ones bringing it offensively (although it looks like Moanaroa will hit sporadically against lefties) so you’d have to say both have earned longer looks. Perhaps you platoon Stone Hands and the Bossman and let Johnson play out his hot hand. It’s not the worst scenario for a manager to have – 4 guys competing for 3 spots (C, 1B, DH).

4. If the Korean imports don’t start to hit, the Multiculturalists may need to send an envoy to the local embassy to keep the peace because there could be some foreign relation disasters after they get sent packing. Moon, Lee and Jang all had a woeful series with Moon registering 2 hits, Lee 1 and Jang taking the schnide. All 3 guys bail out on almost every swing meaning that from time to time they may run into something and hit it hard but for the most part they’re out in front rolling over the ball or missing it altogether. Lee and Moon seem to run ok, but its not like they’re even putting the ball in play consistently. If the Multiculturalists want to get anywhere, they need their Korean connection to figure it out and start hitting.

5. The catcher pop up may be dying art. The Defensive Specialist woke up on Sunday morning with a crick in his neck as a result of cringing too hard when both coaches butchered every attempt at the dime piece. It’s like everything in life really – practice makes perfect. Get a crate of balls, stand at home plate and don’t leave until your hands are bleeding and you’re consistently drilling balls 200 feet in the air and bouncing them on home plate. The Defensive Specialist is looking to clear his schedule in order to conduct a one on one workshop on the art of the pop up. Details and pricing to come.

6. Although their pitching has a lot of question marks, the Multiculturalists have the makings of a decent offensive ballclub. The addition of Michael Collins was always going to be big and he demonstrated his worth immediately going a lazy 6 for 11. Kimpton is a tough hitter and as the video demonstrates a confident one who’ll provide solid output in the middle of the order. If Didi Gregorious manages to put the ball in play and get on base he’ll do some damage with his speed. Until Moon figures out how to hit, the Defensive Specialist would be tempted to plug Andrew Schmidt into the 2 hole as he seems to be a scrapper who’ll find a way to get on. Donald Lutz has some pop, and Tom Vincent proved he can knock it around. And don’t forget D Wash is hidden on their roster, just waiting for an opportunity!

7. The Defensive Specialist wasn’t in attendance and usually doesn’t include 3rd party information in “What has the Defensive Specialist Learnt”, but after seeing the result of the Adelaide Melbourne series, you’d have to say that either the Bite are the second coming of the Bronx Bombers or the Aces are a little underdone on the mound. The Bite put a legitimate beat down on the Aces and while the Defensive Specialist would like to think that we may have an offensive juggernaut on our hands this season, word from those in attendance suggests that the Aces just couldn’t compete on the mound. It will be interesting to see what the Aces can do to right the ship because no one would have predicted that last year’s champ would have been beaten like a rented mule in the first series of the season.

The Defensive Specialist will not be in attendance at any series next weekend due to Deep in the Hole budgetary constraints so if there are any philanthropists out there who enjoy reading unbelievably comprehensive baseball reviews, the Defensive Specialist is more than happy to accept your donation and make the trip. But do not fret, even if no sugar daddy steps forward with access to their private jet, the Defensive Specialist will still conjure some magic and provide your weekly baseball fix! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Taking Offense

If Friday night’s conditions were balmy, Saturday’s conditions could only be described as “like sitting inside an oven next to a leg of lamb”. Yes it was hot and juicy and of course the Defensive Specialist dressed appropriately in jeans, t-shirt and shirt. For all the Defensive Specialist’s big talk about preparedness and mental focus, it was a real rookie mistake to forget to check the bureau of meteorology for game time temperature. There were a couple of upsides to the spike in temperature – 1) the Defensive Specialist got to sweat off a few unwanted pounds and 2) we finally got to see what the offenses could do in optimal hitting conditions.

If you asked both managers what aspect of their game they’d like to see get going, you can be sure it would be offense. While the output was a little better in game 2, the vast majority of the heavy lifting was being completed by the upper parts of both line-ups. In a league that’s showing the early signs of being pitching dominant (well perhaps not in Melbourne), 2 or 3 guys aren’t going to get it done for you on the offensive side of the ball. Every team will rely on their entire line-up to grind out at bats, lengthen out innings and get into the bullpens. So with the heat fairly taxing, it was going to be interesting to see how the pitchers laboured through it and whether the hitters could capitalise on the warm night air and get the scoreboard ticking over.

Wayne Lundgren took the ba…..

Oh, you wanted to know about the catchers pop up during infield outfield? It’s becoming a hot topic as once anonymous coaches now realise they’re under the microscope at a totally different level. Sure it’s easy to pretend you’re coaching the hell out of it at first or third base, but what does that really consist of? A few pats on a hitters backside when he draws a walk? Waving a runner home with 2 out on a line drive to right field? That stuffs all easy. No, the true test of a coach is when he has all eyes on him as he attempts to drop a dime piece on home plate to finish infield outfield.

You can probably guess that things didn’t go well last night by the fact that the Defensive Specialist wasn’t even going to bother mentioning it. The Defensive Specialist happened to bump into the Multiculturalists trainer last night who mentioned off-handedly that coach Brent Phelan had asked if there were any valium available in the medical kit – so you can see how this scrutiny is affecting coaches.

The Defensive Specialist isn’t sure if Phelan managed to get his hands on the drugs but his fungo hitting was slow and sluggish and after 3 attempts at hitting the dime piece it appeared he may fall asleep at home plate. The 4th attempt proved to be a little more fruitful with yet another cut backhand arching back towards the screen and only barely staying in.

Blue Sox coach Jason Popsicle was up next and it was clear that he was suffering acute performance anxiety – a lack of firmness and stamina being the tell tale signs. His attempts at the pop up were flaccid and unsatisfying with the first attempt sailing out of play and the second attempt simply horrible. A fellow spectator asked the Defensive Specialist how Popsicle could rectify his anxiety issues? Its not easy but focussing on his breathing is one method and of course as the time comes to perform, gentle pressure to the perineum always helps.

The Defensive Specialist isn’t able to attend Sunday’s game, which may ease the pressure on the lads. If either coach sticks the pop up inside the catchers cut out photographic evidence will be required to verify it because at this point its almost unbelievable.

Wayne Lundgren took the ball for the Blue Sox who decided to alter their line up for this game 3 contest.  Stone Hands Maat got the start behind the plate, which made the Defensive Specialist feel like a driver on the freeway when you approach a car crash. You know that you don’t want to see anyone hurt or injured, but you cant help looking anyway. Alex Johnson was the other change, making his ABL debut at first base. Lundgren handled the Multiculturalists with ease in the first but more importantly nothing clanked off Stone Hands glove!

The Multiculturalists sent Steve Kent to the mound and manager Steve Schrenk had to hope that he could extend him out past the 2 innings he offered on his last outing. Things got off to a rocky start as Trent D’Antonio mashed a double to straight away centrefield and Techno Tim Auty walked. Mitch Dening, who very nearly suffered an orchiectomy at the hands of Andy Graham on Friday, smoked a line drive to centre that allowed D’Antonio to move to third. Stone Hands ended the threat by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play.

Michael Collins started the 2nd with a hard hit ground ball off Michael Lysaught’s glove for a single. Tom Vincent hit a soft liner to left and Donald Lutz grounded out 6-3 to move the runners up. Ian Choy grounded out to second to plate run and put the Multiculturalists up 1-0.

Kent was replaced by 57-year-old knuckleballer Phil Brassington in the 3rd inning and things didn’t get off to a great start when he dosed David Kandilas. The Defensive Specialist did find Kandilas’ reaction somewhat odd – an almost angry bat toss. David, you’re the 9 hole guy and Brassington was throwing no firmer than 79mph, strong chance that there was zero intent. Anyway once the rage subsided, D’Antonio walked to put runners on first and second with none out. The stadium lights then suddenly began to strobe as green lasers shot out into the sweltering night sky. When 14000 beats per minute started thumping out of the speakers the fans knew it was time to reach for their whistles as Techno Tim Auty headed to the dish. Brassington was obviously a little breathless from the Vicks Vaporub fumes in the air and tossed a wild pitch that moved both runners up. Auty then punched a single to left to score Kandilas and move D’Antonio to third. Techno Tim then capitalized on a bobbled throw and moved into second base. Brassington still punch drunk on the fumes uncorked another wild pitch that scored D’Antonio and advanced Techno to third. Brassington called out the trainer and took a strong pull of smelling salts to clear his head and showed immediate results by K’ing Dening and Stone Hands. Andy Graham then singled into left to score Techno, and Johnson was brought to the plate looking for his first ABL knock. Graham got a great read on a ball in the dirt and advanced to second to put him in scoring position. Johnson then lined a ball into right as Graham was waved home. Collins realised that he had no play and wisely charged the ball in order to make a play on Johnson who was thrown out at second to end the inning.

The Blue Sox were all over Brassington in the 4th and only bad base running prevented another big inning. Lysaught led off with a walk and Mark Holland followed with a single. Kandilas then lined a ball into centre as Lysaught headed toward third. Coach Graheme Cassel held Lysaught up but Holland had his head down and was looking to go first to third. He was nailed attempting to scramble back to second. Collins then gunned down Kandilas on a steal attempt. The inning was not a complete loss however as a wild pitch enabled Lysaught to score taking the run total to 5.

Lundgren’s night was done after 5 innings with a line including 4 strikeouts, 1 earned run and 2 base on balls. He was replaced on the hill by Shane Benson. Collins singled for his 2nd hit of the night to rightfield and Vincent hit a ball off Benson that Lysaught couldn’t handle for a base hit. Lutz doubled to right field as Collins got a bad read and broke late for home. With Vincent on his hammer, Schrenk waved both runners home. A nifty relay from Kandilas to Lysaught saw Collins safe but Vincent hosed at the plate. Benson used that base running gaffe to his advantage and ended the inning with no further damage.

The wheels of the bus well and truly came off for the Multiculturalists in the 6th inning, which began with a lazy throw from Moon on a ground ball by Kandilas resulting in an error. Kandilas stole second as D’Antonio punched out on a Michael Lennox fastball. Kandilas stole third on the next pitch leaving him perched on 3rd for Techno Tim. Auty grounded a ball to Moon at third who came home. Kandilas didn’t slide and knocked the ball out of the glove of new catcher Kyle Perkins who may benefit from some time spent in the weight room. Auty moved up to second. Dening then lined a ball to left field that Lee charged and dove head first for. He speared the ball barely and instantly earned himself the Defensive Specialist’s “Play of the Game” award.

With 2 out Stone Hands singled to right field and pinch hitter Josh Dean walked. A wild pitch allowed Auty to score and moved the runners up. Johnson and Lysaught both walked as Luke Wilkins was brought into the game to stem the bleeding. This lasted all of one pitch as Holland drove a ball to deep left field. The one hop double plated all 3 Blue Sox baserunners and brought Kandilas back to the plate. Kandilas hit a can of corn to rightfield that Vincent inexplicably dropped allowing Holland to score and Kandilas to hustle into second. D’Antonio singled to centre, scoring Kandilas and advanced to second as all sense of baseball fundamentals were lost on an airmailed throw to the plate. Auty had an infield single to put runners on third and first for Dening. Dening slapped a ball up the middle that second baseman Andrew Schmidt dived and snared forcing Techno at second. Inning mercifully over after 8 runners crossed the plate.

The Multiculturalists scored some scrub time runs in the top of the seventh off Benson as Schmidt and Didi singled to right. A Moon fly ball to right advanced Schmidt who then scored on Michael Collins 3rd base hit. Benson punched out Vincent to end the 7th, which ended up being the final frame as the announcer declared the game over as a result of the ten run mercy rule. Thank god!

Blue Sox manager Glenn Williams will be thrilled that his lineup got the bats going, especially his lower third who hadn’t shown much until this point. Lundgren wasn’t overwhelming but his outing demonstrated again that the Blue Sox pitching staff is going to be its real strength this season. The Multiculturalists were exposed as being somewhat thin in the pitching stakes once you get past their starters. With Kent restricted in his innings it means that the bullpen has to get a lot of outs and they just do not have the quality arms to go at a line up like the Blue Sox. Schrenk will need to find a way to get more out of his starters and spare the pen from overexposure.

As for the Deep in the Hole ‘Player of the Game”? It’s a toss up between Techno Tim, D’Antonio and Holland. Lets go with D’Antonio  who continues to set the tone at the top of the lineup with 2 hits, a run, 2 walks and an RBI.

The Defensive Specialist’s duties as a family man preclude him from being in attendance on Sunday, but do not fret he will be back during the week with more sparkling insight.

Good luck to Phelan and the Popsicle today with less pressure on the dime pieces.