Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Promo Sked, Faria Photobomb, Skitz AFL Bound

Here at the Original Montgomery Biscuits Fan blog, we don't quit when the weather gets cold. There is baseball talk aplenty in the offseason, especially this year!

We should learn plenty on Wednesday as the Biscuits release their promotional schedule. It will be chock full of new events and promotions, the Skitz front office seems to be moving ahead with fresh ideas. Hopefully everyone will find something they like in the release, though I am not sure if it is a tune up or total revamp.

The promotional schedule will also tell us how the Biscuits see themselves. Winning teams draw fans with wins, others rely on giveaways and promotions.


I expect to see the fauxback uniforms on the sked, perhaps the team will take the opportunity to give a nod to the rich baseball history of the Montgomery area.

I am hopeful we might see a Kevin Kiermaier bobblehead and have a T Shirt giveaway night.

I think we will have a return of Rays Night w/DJ Kitty or Raymond. And of course the popular Star Wars night will be a standard on the calendar.
Mark Sappington encounters the Dark Side

The Rays released their winter ball assignations, but with Montgomery involved in postseason play it went almost unnoticed. Every year guys play winter ball, its a rare treat to get Autumn Biscuits! Priorities, ya know.

But if you crave a taste of next summers Biscuits early, look no farther than the Arizona Fall League. Current Skitz sent to AFL duty include Jake Bauers, Closer Brad Schreiber and shortstop Daniel Robertson. Bauers has been listed as an outfielder, likely giving the young slugger a chance to show his versatility as an audition for a possible position change.

As for future Biscuits, first baseman Casey Gillaspie as well as pitchers Mike Franco and Buddy Borden are rostered for fall games and all spent time at Port Charlotte this summer.

Gillaspie lost time to injury in 2015 but still has a chance to be the Biscuits first sacker next summer and may be part of the reason Bauers will get a look in the outfield. Bauers has told me he expects to return to Montgomery to start next year.

Canadian Biscuit AllStar Gold Medalist pitcher Jared Mortensen told me he is headed for the Dominican Republic for winter ball.

Morty said he does not speak much spanish but says he will be brushing up ahead of the trip!

Even before he broke his hand, Johnny Field told me he planned to get some rest this offseason. After spending last winter in Australian League baseball, the All Star left fielder has been experiencing summer for about 18 consecutive months and played three seasons worth of games in just two years.

"Even if they asked me to play winter ball, I would probably turn it down" Field told me. "The Rays generally prefer to not send a player for winter ball two seasons in a row."
Sorry Brisbane Bandits fans, no Johnny Field Jr this year.

If you won a Biscuits jersey at the Charity Auction a few weeks ago, you can pick them up this week at the team store. I was happy to grab mine on monday and remember to check the Biscuits webpage for your photo.

I found mine online and got a little more than I expected with it - not just a pic with Jeff Ames but it includes a photobomb by Jacob Faria!

In an effort to give readers what they want, the suggestion box is open. Let me know what you want to see and we will make every effort to accommodate.

Already this year I have gotten ideas and requests from folks about what they like or want to see more of and its my pleasure to make it happen. I love getting the feedback from readers, even if its just "hey i like the stats" or "more funny pictures" its a huge help in making it a better experience for Biscuit fans. Thats you guys!

So give a shout, leave a comment or shoot me a line at DrMiraculous at knology dot net.

In the next few posts I hope to look at the year in review, hand out some awards, check in on past Biscuits and start breaking down what to expect next summer.

Not goodbye, but au revoir - this blog is year round!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Biscuits Fall to Lookouts

The Biscuits fell to the Lookouts in the Southern league Division Series, but you probably know that. The game was routine, though the outcome meant the good guys were sent home. It concludes the All Star summer, perhaps a week too soon for some, yet we cannot deny what we have seen - the best Biscuits ever.

The Lookouts celebrated on the field after their victory, but I didn't watch. I went to the Skitz dugout to high five and fist bump any player who would take it, any way to thank them for all they did for us.

Sure, Montgomery was beaten but this team had character and style, they offered hope and optimism. They made many in Montgomery fall in love with baseball again and nearly brought the city a pennant.

Jaime Schultz set new team K mark
Montgomery hasn't had a team to be proud of in such a long time, this one will be the measuring stick future squads will be judged by.

This was a real team, not just a group of players trying to move up the chain. They weren't angry about being sent here, sulky sluggers, moody prospects, divas or party animals. They got along with each other and with the locals. They pulled for each other to do well and they won games as a team. This was perhaps the first true TEAM to wear the Biscuits uniform, from one-game active Wilmer Dominguez to 120 game Patrick Leonard each guy was giving his best to help the group.

Some took the defeat hard, as can be understood.

Fans, players, team staff and employees and just about everyone around the park are bonded kin by now. They have become family while watching these guys win games with smiles on their faces.

Its been easy to pull for this team because they make it easy to like them. Seeing the season end and saying goodbye is tougher when you come so close to the big reward, especially for a team that has overcome so much to get where they are.

A few friends who are die hard fans left early, others stayed but left silently at the conclusion of the game.
One reliever sat on the bench for almost twenty minutes after the game had ended, just looking out across the empty field.
Coach Timmons was said to be sitting in front of his locker, not speaking.
A few players left the park quickly after the game, anxious to put the end of the season in the rear view mirror.
Most guys packed up and hung around for a few to say their goodbyes before heading off to whatever plans they have for the offseason.

People have already asked me this, wanting to pin the playoff losses on assorted factors. While each in-game event during the postseason does indeed influence the outcome, I feel perhaps the most key factor was not something that went on during the playoff games at all, specifically I mean the injury to Johnny Field Jr.

That one injury meant we were playing in the postseason with a lineup different than we had been using to win the games that got us there. Our proven recipe was missing a key ingredient and its as simple as that.

I spoke with Jacob Faria during the game (meaning he was at the concession stand getting some food and I bugged him for his thoughts on the  situation. He was awesome and put off eating his probably already cold ballpark eats to answer questions that he knew would likely end up on the blog...)

Jacob put it perfectly - the big turning point was when we had the bases loaded and couldnt score in Sundays game. We pick up a run or two there and its a different series.

The same kind of momentum situation came up in game four when JuneQ came off the bench to deliver a hit and bring the tying run to the plate, we just couldn't the runs when we needed them to deliver the knock out blow.

Close play but Biscuits don't catch a break
During the series, the Biscuits played with real fight, scrapping in every at bat and showing grit in every pitch. The Skitz had opportunities that were missed, but scored enough to win in most games. The pitching was good enough to win, they just didn't catch any breaks and that was the difference in the games.

Some may point to errors made and its true that the miscues were costly in terms of runs. However its tough to place any blame on this team, with so many late inning comebacks, so many extra inning heroics there was always a chance to get back into the ball game.

And in baseball that is all you can ask for, give your team a chance to win and see if it happens. If not, you can only tip your cap to the other team because you gave it your best shot. These Biscuits did just that.


Bearded Johnny Field
Several of the Biscuit players expressed a desire to keep their playoff beards.
Several wives and girlfriends expressed otherwise.

Team Canada pitcher Jared Mortensen has called Dallas,Tx home for a few years now. I've been yelling "get him ooot" Canadian-style for about four months, had I known I would have yelled "get him ooot pardner" to add Texas flair..

Chris Kirsch said he might be back here next year. I told him to keep a Durham apartment guide handy just in case, they love lefties up there.

Jacob Faria does not surf, in spite of being a native Californian. He does appear to like Pepperidge Farms Goldfish.

A few of the Biscuit players said they knew of the blog and expressed approval. They thanked me for being a loyal fan. I am humbled by praise of this nature and simply didn't know what to say other than to thank them for bringing us a second half championship.

Its been the best year ever for Biscuits!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Skitz Down, Not Out, Must Win

The Biscuits fell to the Lookouts at home on Sunday. Montgomery must now win Monday night to force a game five on Tuesday.
For long time fans it brought back bad memories of the 2012 playoff sweep. Yet, unlike that team, these Biscuits have shown more resilience than any other group to wear the butter and blue.

Some asked if I was worried, I am not.
Win, Lose or Draw it won't change the fact that this is the best Biscuits team we have seen. Ever.

These Biscuits refuse to quit, score late, have fine pitching both starting and relief and play excellent defense. There are two great catchers, an array of impressive bats scoring runs in bunches and have coaches who know how to handle the team.

The Biscuits have posted back to back wins 20 times this summer. They believe in themselves even when others don't.

Which in my book is just what makes them the best team we have seen fielded in Montgomery for a very long time.

So, no, I am not worried.
A very close play exemplifies the series

And if they do fail to advance in the playoffs, it won't diminish their greatness. Simply a shame that we didn't get to fully prove what we are capable of, what we have seen all season long.

Yet I am not ready to say they are done, this is not a group that will roll over and give away their chance at a ring.
2007 Biscuits Championship Ring (not a replica)

The Sunday game had a playoff feel, but was odd in some ways.

Big Mo threw out the first pitch.
No dignitaries, no former players, no league representatives or city officials. Just Big Mo.
The crowd was respectable, announced at over 2100. If team officials were worried about attendance, fans let them know that Montgomery supports a winner.

Austin Pruitt was on the hill, his Texas squint and playoff beard in full effect. He took the Loss but pitched well, striking out six in six innings.

Seven hits and four runs were charged against him, Austin gave up an early two run homer and spent the rest of the game trying to hold the line and give his offense a chance to support him.

Touched again for another pair of runs in the third, Pruitt gave a fine effort in 93 pitches.

The home team offense was one big swing from Cameron Seitzer, whose three run blast kept Montgomery from being shut out.

Three Biscuit errors in a game is an aberration, but the gaffes proved costly. Usually steady at 3b, Leonard's errant throw was notable, as was a catchers interference call.

Querecuto was charged with a fumble on a botched grounder, while it was a tough hop in traffic around a baserunner its also a play that had to be made. The three unearned runs resulting from these miscues were the difference in the game.

Chris Kirsch did indeed pitch out of the bullpen, tossing one very effective inning. He turned switch hitter Polanco around to the right side and neutralized the lefty Kepler.

Ryne Stanek and Parker Markel also pitched in relief, both were victims of unearned runs brought on by the aforementioned errors.

In game four, the Magic 8 Ball has the best guess.

What we will look for is Taylor Guerrieri on the hill. He was held out of games a little longer than normal, this start is the reason. Learning to pitch big games is just what the Rays look for in their #1 draft pick.

Look for tournament style management from Brady Williams. Meaning look for the Biscuits to unload the bullpen after Guerrieri departs and pinch run/pinch hit more freely than in the regular season.

Look for Brady Williams to bark at the umpires if they seem to be slacking or missing calls. A floating strike zone is tough enough in July, the fiery skipper won't let the officials cut any corners on his guys in such big games.

Look for Biscuit hits, the Skitz have not failed to get on base even in their losses this year.

Look for Sappington, Garton, Lollis to be the first guys out of the pen.

Jeff Ames may be a candidate for the closers role right now. The blistered thumb from a week ago is no longer an issue.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Attack of the Tarp Monster

There it is.
I have been there. I have seen what lurks within, what it is capable of.
Lair of the Tarp Monster.
AT&T Field, Chattanooga Tn

How long it has been there, I know not. What I do know is that it strikes without warning. It is indiscriminate in its voracity, man or woman, adult or child, patron or employee, the Beast cares little.

A day at the park, the playoff tilt between North Division champions Montgomery and Chattanooga was a pastoral fall setting. As the first fans arrived and the players were about to get dressed, a few clouds appeared in overcast skies, but everyone was optomistic the game would be played.
Sparse crowd of unsuspecting fans
Coaches and players from both teams came out of the clubhouse to watch the sky and mingle with fans as it became apparent there was a rain shower coming.

As I talked with a few friends, the grounds crew did what grounds crews do when clouds threaten rain, even for a playoff game.

They could not have known what they were unleashing from tubular bonds as they covered the playing surface.

It was announced the game would start in a delay as lightning flashed across a swiftly darkening sky. Something wicked was this way come, no games would played. 

I heard a roar. A howling roar that overwhelmed all other sounds in the busy ballpark. And then it happened.
outfield pics via Jacob Faria

The beast awoke with a sudden start and sat back on its haunches and waved a threat towards the stands.

What people remained ran for cover as the infamous Tarp Monster rose up, appearing nearly two stories tall it towered over the visitors dugout and dwarfed the few remaining people as they scrambled to escape.

Sappington watches the Tarp Monster in action

It lurched to the right and crawled onto the seats underneath. Weighing perhaps hundreds of pounds now soaking wet, Tarp Monster chased fans from their seats and all the way down the exits, flapping its silver and dirty white tendrils as they ran.

People yelled.
The grounds crew reacted quickly, valiantly holding Tarp Monster by the tail to keep it from leaving the field to ransack the stands like a tarpaulin Godzilla. Desperately it struggled to pull free in an effort to continue its rampage.

Below me and unseen by myself, the rest of my party had fled with the crowd, chased by the Tarp Monster from their seats. The Monster spat rain and flung mud and rocks ahead of it, nearly hitting Michi-chan with stones as she made her way down the stairs from the seating bowl.

One child was nearly swallowed as the Tarp Monster tried to feast on anything it could get, billowing into the seats where just moments before a crowd was gathering. The spry youth escaped unharmed, it appeared everyone got away without injury.

After a few exciting moments totaling less than a minute, the Tarp Monster saw nothing but empty seats and its wind-swept energy left it. Tarpy collapsed, exhausted, laying over the stands and covering over a dozen rows of seats, spent and flaccid from its adventure.

The Tarp Monster only then allowed itself to be dragged out of the seats by groundskeepers and team employees who were drafted into TarpMonster wrangling duty.

 The groundscrew and their charges waylaid the beast long enough for a few brave players to venture into the visitors dugout to retrieve the team gear.

Biscuit bravery, Jacob Faria dashes over Tarpy

The game was called as the infield became water logged and no one was eaten by the Tarp Monster on this day.

You can view video of the Tarp Monster attack here!

Fortunately the section the Tarp Monster attacked was mostly empty, populated only by a few able to quickly flee. They are the lucky ones who can say they survived an encounter with one of baseballs most rare creatures - The Tarp Monster.

Others have not been so fortunate.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Biscuits Blog - Playoff Edition - Game One Skitz V Lookouts


The Biscuits face the Lookouts in the first round of the Southern league playoffs, facing the team they opened the season against.

The Lookouts took the 1st half title in the North Division and while they have had many changes in the roster the Chattanooga team has been playing very good baseball over the past few weeks.

The Lookouts are seeking their first championship since 1988, but they were co-champions in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan washed out the final round of playoffs between Mobile and Chattanooga.

The Chatts roster is still peppered with prospects, including Max Kepler who was recently crowned Southern League MVP for 2015.

Shortstop Jorge Polanco is another main cog in the Lookouts lineup, the switch hitter is batting .289 with 18 steals this year.

Adam Brett Walker is a force in the batting order with an eye-popping 31 home runs and 106 RBI in the regular season, leading the league in both stats.

Of course, everyone knows Adam Walker won the Home Run Derby at Riverwalk Stadium during this years AllStar Game.


Look for a shuffled Biscuits pitching rotation - Jaime Schultz in game one, Jacob Faria in game two and Austin Pruitt in game three. Presumably Taylor Guerrieri would toss game four and either Chris Kirsch or Ryne Stanek game five, should the series take more than the minimum three games.

The Lookouts big three of Polanco, Walker and Kepler have had some success against Biscuits game one starter Jaime Schultz this year. Jaime will have to keep runners off the bases ahead of those guys. Look for Schultz to work the ground balls and strikeouts to get out of a jam.

Look for the Lookouts to challenge Biscuit catchers, Goodrum, Polanco, Kepler, Wickens and Michael all have more than 15 stolen bases each and are capable on the basepaths.

Look for Max Kepler to go for extra bases, he is among the leagues best at two and three base hits.

Biscuit pitchers will be looking to strike out Adam Walker, the powerhitting DH has the most swings and misses in the league by a wide margin.

We can look for Lookouts lefties, there are four southpaws on the ChooChoos staff.

Biscuits starting pitcher Jacob Faria will be looking to keep the Lookouts Adam Walker in the park. Jacob has allowed just five HR's since joining Montgomery, Walker has two of them.

Look for Montgomery to manufacture runs the old fashioned way, "get em on, get em over, get em in" is the way Biscuits win. The Lookouts allow baserunners aplenty and Bradys Boys will have to take advantage of the Chattanooga propensity to pitch in traffic.

two Tylers collide - Goeddel and Bortnick
I look for a big series from Tyler Goeddel and Daniel Robertson, both have keyed the Skitz to big innings over the last thirty days or so. Robertson has been especially good late in games, batting over .290 in late inning situations. Goeddel hit over .330 in August with five homeruns.

Look for pitching to be the key to the series, the Biscuits hope to see the good starting and relief that put Montgomery over the top in the second half.



Could we see fifth starter Chris Kirsch available out of the bullpen in Chattanooga?

As the only lefthanded pitcher on the roster, there is a chance Kirsch would get his side session in during a game, allowing Brady Williams one inning of port sided relief that wouldn't otherwise be available.

At post time we have yet to learn what the playoff roster will be, though I still think we will see Cam Seitzer and Jared Mortensen return to help the Skitz in the postseason.

Asked to predict the series, I admit my bias towards the Capital City Bombers. If I were a betting man I would put my nickel on the Skitz winning it in four games and advancing to the LCS.