Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where are we? Congrats Wrigley, GraySox vs Chicago


Thats what I asked myself when I realized we had won a few games. I looked it up, eight out of our last ten, in fact no team in the league is hotter.

A quick look-see at the SL website says we are still in third place, behind Mobile and Jacksonville with seven series left to play. 35 games left means we are at the three-quarters pole, about to hit the third base bag and head for home.

Since Mobile won the first half, punching their playoff ticket early puts them out of the picture for our second half hopes. Which is good, they are still winning games at a prodigious pace, over .650 W-L%.

IN THE HUNT
Jacksonville leads us by about a game, which is a slim margin indeed, considering the schedule. (should I mention that I went to highschool with Slim Margin?)

We are currently facing the North Division doormat Chattanooga Lookouts. Afterwards we come home to face off against the main target - the Jacksonville Suns, in a head to head series that could determine which team gets into the playoffs.


BACKUP PLAN
Even if the Skitz falter in the showdown with the JaxSuns, we still haven't lost hope. We go on the road to Jackson Tn where the Generals wait with their .400 winning percentage. Follow that up with a homestand against the aforementioned Chattanooga Lookouts and the Biscuits could be in fine shape by mid-August if the winning percentages stay about the same.

The schedule doesn't look too painful for Montgomery, finishing against the Wahoos and Generals could be a big advantage, plus the Suns still have a ten-game roadtrip to contend with.

COMING UP
The Skitz get four home series, the Suns have four road series left on the schedule.

Biscuits remaining series, with opponent W-L%:

Currently facing Chattanooga (.333)
home vs Jacksonville (.594)
@Jackson Generals (.419)
home vs Chattanooga (.333)
@Mississippi Braves (.563)
home vs Tennessee Smokies (.500)
@Pensacola (.344)
home vs Jackson Generals (.419)


Jacksonville Suns remaining series:

Currently facing Birmingham (.548)
@Montgomery (.563)
@Huntsville  (.500)
home vs Mississippi Braves (.563)
@Chattanooga (.333)
home vs Pensacola (.344)
@Tennessee Smokies (.500)
home vs Mobile (.667)


POSTSEASON PREP?
If Brady's Boys can apply the pressure where needed, its a good time to do it while they can handle their own business without having to have help from other teams to move up in the standings.

I am not quite saying print playoff tix yet, but after the next homestand I just might be ready. We are exactly where we need to be if we want to see playoff Biscuits.



WRIGLEY'S HUNDRED HOME RUNS

Blog favorite and former Biscuit 1b Henry Wrigley reached a career milestone with his 100th home run on Tuesday. The Caracas Crusher has put a bakers dozen over the wall for the St.Paul Saints, the former rival of my dads fave team, the Minneapolis Millers. Its indie ball but a tough league with alot of talent.

It was HenWrigs 13th home run this season, he is batting an outstanding .327 average and popping the OPS at a .917 clip.

With 51 RBI in 51 games, Saints fans surely have learned what Biscuits fans knew, Henry Wrigley produces runs.

Of course, the "official career totals" don't include Venezuelan league play, where Henry had much success. Technically speaking, Wrigs was already past the century mark, but hey, its nice to make it official!

Congrats, Wrigley!


History Lesson...


JULY 22 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"Chicago Negroes to Play Grey Sox Game -
A fast and snappy game of ball is promised the followers of the Montgomery Grey Sox, Thursday when the local negro team will play the Chicago Black Sox, in an exhibition game at South Side Park at 3:30 o'clock.

Rube Foster
The Black Sox are being sent South by "Rube" Foster, who is president of the Negro Western League, for the purpose of estimating the strength of the Negro Southern League.

Henry Hannon, manager of the local aggregation is confident of victory but he realizes the task ahead of him is a hard one and a real battle is expected. This should prove to be one of the best games that has been played on the local diamond this year and a record breaking crowd is expected."


1920 Chicago American Giants
Montgomery, AL
"Montgomery Sox Swamp Chicagoans -
The Chicago Black Sox colored baseball club team was easily defeated Thursday afternoon by the Montgomery Gray Sox team by the score of 15 to 1. The visiting team put up a miserable exhibition of the national pastime.

Sam Streeter Mgm Gray Sox
Streeter, for the Grey Sox, was a puzzle to the Chicago players, and after the first inning he had his opponents at his mercy. Kemp, who started for Chicago, was easy pickings for the locals, and Smith, who succeeded him, could not check the assault.

George Scales
Williams, Scales, "Red" Cunningham and Herman Cunningham carried off the batting honors for the day, the quartet had little trouble in hitting the ball, when hits meant runs.

Streeter established a record on the local field when he pitched twenty consecutive balls for strikes, without having a ball called by the umpire.

The Chicagoans came to the city highly rated, and are leading the league in the National league for colored clubs, but their performance Thursday was the poorest seen on the loacl field this season. Nashville opens a three-game series here this afternoon."



JULY 22, 1966 - 
The Animals and Hermans Hermits play at the State Coliseum, aka Garrett Coliseum, in Montgomery.
11 days later Animals bassist Chas Chandler will go to New York and hear Jimi Hendrix for the first time. Not baseball related, but hey, thats cool!




JULY 23 1920 
Montgomery, AL
"Montgomery Greys Defeat Nashville -
A single by Carpenter in the tenth inning scoring Preston, won a hard-fought game for the Montgomery Grey Sox, Friday afternoon from the Nashville White Sox by the score of 1 to 0.

Preston
The game was a pretty pitcher's battle between Knowles and Meyers, the former allowing six hits and the latter five. Meyers was saved on several occasions by sensational fielding.

The Grey Sox scored the lone tally in the tenth inning when Preston reached first on an infielder's error and third while the next two batters were being retired. Meyers walked and stole second and Carpenter sent a clean Texas leaguer over short and Preston scored.

The two teams will clash again this afternoon and the final game of the series will be played Sunday afternoon."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tangled Webb



A Taylor Motter walkoff helps the Skitz hang onto win-loss equality on a wild Saturday and he remains the teams hottest hitter with two homers on Sunday, helping push Montgomery a game over .500.

Winning as many as they lose at home isn't the best course to the postseason, but the Biscuits are just a couple games behind Jacksonville. Staying within striking distance and giving the team a chance to get hot at the right time is all one can hope to see at this point in the season.

The Biscuits have yet to roll off a batch of wins in a hot streak, the team is getting itself in good position should Bradys Boys heat up late.

After Sundays tilt the Skitz get a day off, then hit the road to Chattanooga before coming back to host the team they really need to beat - the Jacksonville Suns.


BILOXI TO MISS FIRST HALF of 2015


The building of the ballpark at the casino has taken a serious step as Biloxi city officials make decisions on how its going to happen.

First, they cut money. Less money from the city means its not a 36 million dollar park, its a 29 million dollar park.

Next they chose to build on the 12 month plan I mentioned in the previous blog. Its a serious move, one that will cost the team about 35 home games - half of the season! So much for the grand image of opening day in a new Biloxi ballpark next April, which has to make it tough to sell season tickets and sponsorships.

With a ten grand a game fine for every game missed, thats a hefty payoff from city coffers to team owners, one that is not going over well with Biloxi taxpayers.


BUT WHERE?
The question is still up in the air about where to play the games. Huntsville is probably not an option, since the schedule has been firmed up and travel times are not adjustable for such distance.

I suggest they play at "the Pete" - Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, about an hour north of Biloxi.

It seats over 5000 fans for Golden Eagles fans who turn out to support their Southern Miss baseball team in a big way. The Golden Eagles average about twice as many fans per game than Huntsville, they can surely offer a good temporary home to the Biloxi Brewers until mid-season.

For a fee, of course.


WHAT A TANGLED WEBB WE WEAVE

The league prexie has got to be pulling her hair out about now.

The new franchise in Biloxi wont have a ballpark until midseason and now Mobile is about to go tits up and had to pass on the AllStar Game because of her approval of new ballparks in nearby cities.

Shes had to work up a new schedule, shuffle a team from one division to another and make it all appear like "I meant to do that", all in the first two seasons of being league president.



WHERE DO THEY GO

Surely there is alot left to happen before teams pack up and leave for new homes, but it looks like the makeover of the Southern league is well underway. Gone are far away teams like the Mudcats and Orlando Rays, new ballparks and goofy names replacing the old school concept of sharing a name with the major league team.

So now there are just two or three more teams left to relocate and the search is on for locations that can, or will, host double-A baseball.

Columbus Ga - already showed it can't support baseball, but is a great little city in the area with a ballpark that could be utilized and is newer than The Hank.

Tallahassee Fl - mentioned by some as a prospect, I am not familiar with their baseball support. Have to look into them more, anyone got insight on it?

Baton Rouge La - How have they not already got a team? With an area population over 800 thousand, its larger than ten Jackson Tennessees! The Louisiana capital city should support double-A baseball and I see it as a major prospect for future Southern league expansion/relocation.

Nashville Tn - the second weakest drawing team in the PCL could get a demotion, they have a new ballpark coming next spring.

Savannah or Augusta Ga - both fall inside the boundaries of the Southern League, tho I'm not sure how they would handle the SL moving in.

Gainesville Fla - within driving range for all SL teams

Beaumont Tx - seems far away, but is the same distance from Mobile as Jacksonville Fla, so is possibly in the zone for the league.



RICHARDS SUGGESTION

Since the Biloxi Brewers and Mobile BayBears are both seeking places to play, Superfan Richard suggests the solution is simple - with Huntsville mad at the Stars for leaving, have the BayBears play in Huntsville while the Biloxi team plays at the Hank in Mobile until their Biloxi stadium is built!



OFFBEAT SUGGESTION NUMBER TWO

The Biloxi Brewers play their games at the Hoover Met until midseason. Alternatively, move the Mobile BayBears to Hoover.






Friday, July 18, 2014

But... Why?, Red Flags for BayBears Fans, Mgm No-Hitter Anniversary

BUT WHY?
or
Ah Joe, you knew it was coming...


I had Joe stop me at the game and ask the question above, one I think bears serious merit in asking. There are many things in life to ask the above question, but in this case we are speaking of the big news at the ballpark - the 2015 Southern League All Star Game.


Mobile passed on its chance at hosting the game.
Joe, and presumably others, want to know why.

WAIT WAIT DON'T TELL ME

Of course we can't expect the League offices to tell us, they won't admit to a team moving much less give insight to a decision like this one must have been. I felt that seeing the league prexie at the recent homestand was a sign of finalization for the details and indeed we now know that the baton was passed.

The answer here is simple - money.

The city of Mobile can;t/won't afford to upgrade the stadium, the team can't afford to upgrade the clubhouses and the other teams in the league don't want their players on the Mobile playing surface or in the cramped locker rooms.

The Baybears held out on their rent for a long time, complaining that the city didn't fix the roof over the concourse and other problems. Eventually, in exchange for excusing the back rent, the city allowed the BayBears to fix the roof.

They also re-drafted their rental agreement.

The Dbax, parent club of the BayBears, want upgrades to the clubhouses and indoor batting facility. The cost of this runs over a million bucks, money the team doesn't have and can't get from the city.

THEN AND NOW

Way before this AllStar thing came up, I had asked Biscuits GM Scott Trible about the BayBears and if Mobile was in trouble. Trible said he wasn't worried about them, however that was before the season. Now staffers are demurring from questions about the state of the Mobile franchise when asked.

Joe noticed what I noticed recently, the BayBears attendance has fallen off drastically. Now under two thousand a game on average, the Hank used to draw twice that. The current totals put the BayBears eighth in the league in attendance, both average per game and overall total fans.

That ain't enough to survive.


GENERAL ATTENDANCE
Joe brings up a point about Jackson: even though Jackson Tn Generals are the lowest drawing team overall (other than lame duck Huntsville), the Generals actually attract a larger portion of their cities population. Per capita, there is a larger percentage of the population of Jackson that goes to games than in any other Southern League city. In spite of losing their Pringles sponsorship.


That leaves Mobile in a bad spot - facing the prospect of two new ballparks, a million dollars worth of upgrades the Diamonbacks want, another million dollars worth of upkeep the City refuses to spend on the field and stadium and drawing under two thousand fans on average to the oldest ballpark in the league.


ATTENDANCE DROP SPECULATION
Joe mentioned the drop of attendance and wondered what happened. Here is my suspicion: The new arrangement for the rental of Hank Aaron Stadium is connected to attendance, where in the past it may not have been.

Thats the quick answer for why it would seem that the BayBears went from drawing crowds up to four thousand strong down to less than half of that. I think its likely the crowds were never that large and the "official" tally was inflated by team officials to improve their standing in the league.

DANGER AHEAD
Since Mobile was mentioned as a possible candidate to move to Biloxi, BayBears fans should be very worried indeed. And not just because attendance has fallen off.

When your team can't afford to hold the leagues premiere event, red flags should go up.

More red flags when the team president, the only team president Mobile has had, steps down suddenly.

Did I mention the BayBears affiliation with the Diamondbacks runs through 2014? Things are piling up in a bad way for Mobile...

After putting this together I think we see why and can agree its a matter of when, not if. Unless we see a new Player Development agreement in the next few weeks, that question of when will be answered with "now"

And so it seems the real question to be asked is "where?".


MGM TO SPEND
The Montgomery mayor says that it will cost 50-100 thousand dollars to repair the drainage on the field at Riverwalk. Not sure that includes re-building the playing surface in the outfield and a new infield as well.

Patchy turf around first base a dangerous issue

HISTORY LESSON

Burnside
JULY 17 1976 
Sheldon Burnside throws no hitter for Rebels


JULY 18 1970 
Montgomery Rebels take first place in SL, sweeping Mobile in both ends of a doubleheader by the same 1-0 score.
John Young
Jim Foor pitched a three hitter in the first game, outdueling Mobiles four hitter. Marty Barski doubled and then scored on a wild pitch.

In game two, Steve Cushmore struck out seven and gave up just five hits. John Young scored the games only run in unearned fashion when he walked, stole second and raced home on throwing errors by the catcher and centerfielder.

I met and asked John Young about this game-winning performance, he had this to say... "well, we played alot of games, I don't know if that really happened or not - there are alot of tall tales in the game."

He followed quietly with "...it was a road game."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mgm 2015 Schedule breakdown


2015 SCHEDULE RELEASED
 Here is a breakdown of the Biscuits schedule for next year - its abit wordy so grab a coffee and read on.
Skim it, its not artwork, and feel free to jump down to Biscuitville for Biscuits news if your coffee threatens to cool off.
Enjoy.


WE KNEW THIS WAS COMING
Montgomery was awarded the 2015 Southern League AllStar Game as the league schedule was announced on Tuesday. They say "released" but in fact, only a few teams have given out their calendars, mostly its a media thing as the SL website has yet to include the new full league schedule.

SUSPECTED IT
As expected, the Biloxi Brewers will begin the season on the road for two series before coming home to their new ballpark on April 20.
WE KNEW THIS TOO
As expected, the Skitz move to the North Division to accommodate the Biloxi Brewers.

So, in spite of there being few surprises on the schedule, lets take a gander at what it looks like for Montgomery fans next summer!



 A GOOD START
The season begins on Thursday April 9th.
We open the season at home against the Chattanooga Lookouts. Already an improvement, as it will be August before we see the Dodgers affiliate this year.

APRIL
Montgomery has one five-game road trip in April, the rest are home dates, starting with the aforementioned Lookouts.

After the opening home series we hit the road to Jacksonville for five. We can forget about the Suns after that, we wont hear about them again for months.

TEN GAME HOMESTAND

Starting April 20th we get to enjoy a ten game homestand in spring weather, playing host to the visiting Mobile BayBears. After five games the Jackson Generals arrive to face the Biscuits.

In the first away dates on the calendar, the Skitz are heading over to Trustmark Park to visit the Miss Braves.



 CUBS FANS HAPPY
The Smokies will the arrive to face the Biscuits for the first of 28 times, with the Biscuits hosting the Cubs affiliate for three series at Riverwalk.

PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME

The first five games of the Grape Jelly Series will be at the end of April and start of May.

We will see them again in mid-July and again a final time just ten days later at the end of July and start of August.

By then, we should know who tastes better swimming in grape jam - Biscuits or Smokies.



MAY
The merry merry month of May starts with Montgomery in Mississippi for five games against the Braves.

The Biscuits come home to five games against traditional rival Birmingham on May 6th. The Barons come to town just twice, first in May and as the final opponent of the regular season.

April 18th 1896, the Montgomery-Birmingham rivalry goes way back!


TEN GAME TRIP

After facing the Barons the Biscuits go on the road for a tough ten-game roadtrip. Waiting on the other end will be the Smokies and then the Lookouts in Chattanooga.

This ten game stretch will be a test for the team, the first of three extended road trips. In 2014 the Biscuits had only one such jaunt on the schedule.



SMOKIES COME BACK TO RIVERWALK

On returning home on May 21st the Biscuits face the Smokies for five juegos as the Grape Jelly Series continues.

Its a good thing the Smokies have several logos.


Afterwards the Biscuits then have a five game set on the road in Jackson Tn versus the Generals. There is a league wide day off to wind up the second month of the season.


WAHOO ONE TIMERS
We host the Blue Wahoos of Pensacola in May for the third series of the year, the only time we see the Reds affiliate during the regular season.

JUNE
On the road to start the month of June, the Biscuits face the Suns in Jacksonville before coming home on the 6th to host the Mississippi Braves and Pensacola in a long ten game homestand. This is the second ten game homestand for Montgomery at home in the schedule, and a little tougher as the heat will be starting to become a factor.

After a day off the Biscuits will get their first look at Biloxi's new ballpark, from June 17-21st. Assuming they have one built.

ALLSTAR GAME 
TUESDAY, JUNE 23rd
we recycle
June 22 begins the Montgomery AllStar hosting duties, which last until the 24th.

This should include an AllStar Banquet, AllStar FanFest, Home Run Derby, All Star Game and history exhibits.

SECOND HALF BEGINS
Following the AllStar Break, the Biscuits will host the Lookouts for another five games to close out the month at home in Riverwalk stadium.

BRAVES FANS BUMMED

We will only see the Ms.Braves once next summer in mid June.
Always a popular series, the Braves were visitors to Mgm three times in 2014. If there is a change to the schedule that won't go over well with fans due to the change in divisions, this is probably the one.


JULY


THREE FOR THE FOURTH
how come we dont have one like this?
The dreaded three-game series is back - at the start of July the Biscuits will have a three game set ahead of Independence Day in order to assure all teams have a home date for the holiday.

To that end, the Biscuits will play three games in Tenn vs (of course) the Smokies at the start of the month of July.


INDEPENDENCE DAY
Montgomery hosts Biloxi on the 4th of July for five games.
Name/Logo TBA
For Montgomery fans it will be the first look at the newest team in the Southern league, likely interesting enough to draw some extra fans to view the new double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Biscuits then head to Pensacola for a set of contests against the Blue Wahoos.

SEVEN GAME TRIP
A day off on July 14th should be welcomed, as the following day the Montgomery nines take to the road for an odd seven game excursion.

The Skitz take on the Lookouts in Chattanooga for a pair of games, a very odd scheduling moment. After the quickie series in Chattanooga the Biscuits move to Jackson Tenn to face the Generals for the normal five game series.


SMOKIES COME BACK... AGAIN!
How do we finish the month of July? Against the Smokies at Riverwalk, of course!

Perhaps a new rivalry is being built here, or just an effort to make up to Montgomery's large crewe of Cubs supporters for the lack of Smokies in the past, the Tn Smokies will be well versed in where late night food can be found in The Gump.

AUGUST
One game vs the Smokies at home starts the month and ends the Grape Jelly Series at Riverwalk, the Biscuits then head to Mississippi to face the Braves.

On the 7th the Biscuits return home to host Jacksonville. The Suns are the only team we haven't already seen yet.

RETURN OF THE TEN GAME ROAD TRIP
Montgomery then heads out on the second ten game road-trip of the year. Not as bad as it seems, the ten gamer starts with a commuter special as the Skitz drive to Bham daily for five games.
Then its off to, where else, Tennessee to face the Smokies!

ACTION JACKSON
Jackson sends their Generals to Montgomery on August 23rd for five games, then the Biscuits go road to Mobile for a series that stretches into September.

SEPTEMBER
The Biscuits are guaranteed September baseball, a playoff feel will take hold regardless of the standings as the Biscuits face division rival Birmingham in the final regular season series of the season at Riverwalk Stadium.



BISCUITS NEWS
Your Skitz come home tonight to face the Jackson Generals on Military Wednesday. Colla, Floro, Suarez and Garvin are the announced starters for the series with TBA on the final game.

Perhaps somewhere there is a group of Admirals who are offended by the Mariners affiliate's nickname.