Sunday, June 2, 2013

Eating Crow & Biscuits Two Jakes

Leviticus declares the crow unfit to eat and from that the saying grew to mean eating ones words, famously used by American author Rudyard Kipling in his short story The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes. In the story the title character and a native Indian are trapped and the Indian man declares "I shall never eat crow" but of course a few days later is desperate and does just that.

In another equally American voice for writing, the Washington Post invited Harry Truman to a "Crow Banquet" for journalists who predicted that Dewey would be president.

So it is in that spirit that I title todays blog post, and offer to munch heartily on that avian which Leviticus says is off the menu, Kiplings fowl of least desirability, the post-election day journalist buffet - for indeed last week I expected the Biscuits to get a case of suck-itis and drop the series vs the braves as they saved fuel for the second half.

After the EhmBraves put nineteen runs up against us a few short weeks ago and took four games from us at our house, I didnt see it coming that the GumpSkitz could walk in and dominate! So to that end, I admit I was wrong - and gladly so. Thats why the games get played between chalk lines and not on paper! Good Job, Biscuits, well played!

Is it me, or has Big Mo had a growth spurt this year?

On to the current events -
Matt Buschmann to Bulls
the team lost SP Buschmann and closer Juan Sandoval to Durham in the trickle down from David Price visiting the disabled list. But it also means we need a new starter and bullpen guy.

That left us two guys down and thank goodness the front office in floriday didnt forget about us! 

So the roster move is bringing back Jim Paduch from Durham and Jake Floethe from high-A Charlotte.

Paduch has been here two previous years, but is yet to post an ERA under four. Here for just six games last year, one start and four games finished, Jimmy has had even worse luck in triple-A this year as his ERA has risen over 7.50 in three starts and nine relief appearances. He will be here trying to figure out what works and how to repeat it.

Jake Floethe comes from the lower levels, a 6th round draft pick in 2011, he has just 41 games of professional experience. The numbers look good, 15w-7L in just over 180 IP the past three seasons. The ERA of 3.19 and WhIP of 1.208 career are excellent and Jake should slide into our rotation nicely rounding out with just 15 contests left in the first half. Jake will take the hill in his double-A debut Sunday evening, and along with Jake Thompson give the Biscuits indeed, Two Jakes in the rotation.

Hey, all of a sudden, we arent so far out and have a shot again! Thats what happens when you beat the top team four times, and now we get to host a ten game homestand to start June.
yes kids, be happy about biscuits again!

So far the Biscuits have played to the level of the competition - we play the good teams like we are a good team but when we face a bad team we play badly too. Thats a trait of a good but not great team. Great teams play the same game no matter who they face.

Be they great or simply good, the Biscuits couldnt ask to be in a better position at this point in the season. Two games out of first with 15 to play and a series upcoming against the two teams with the worst record in the Southern league is a good place to reside.

Scouting Report:
We havent seen this incarnation of the Blue Wahoos yet, so this will be a fun series. The Wahoos '13 are led by Delino Deshields, the Cinci Reds affiliate was off to a nice start until the parent club called Tony Cingrani to the majors.

Not that they are pathetic, by any means. Certainly not when two of the league ERA leaders anchor the pitching staff and the team has big-league experience in outfielder Joe Mather.

Topping the charts - 
SP Chad Rogers pitches game one for the Wahoos, bringing his league leading 1.73 Earned Run Average and a 3w-2L record in ten starts to face the hometeam.

 Leading the hit parade - 
Ryan LaMarre is the #13 ranked Cincinnati prospect, the lefty outfielder was drafted in the second round in 2010 out of the University of Michigan. He is a line drive hitter with good speed and great center field defense, and is the only of the top ranked prospects currently on the roster for the Wahoos.

other prospects lurk - 
such as Catcher Tucker Barnhart, the switch hitter is batting .270, improving his numbers after the promotion to P-cola. Two years in a row he has been voted the best defensive catcher in the system, and could move up as his bat develops.

Hitting new heights-
The Tall Man
Reliever Loek Van Mil is the tallest Southern leaguer in recent memory and is the tallest ballplayer in the minor leagues right now. At seven foot and one inch he is probably less than thrilled with the long bus trips. "Southern League legs" is the name given to the tired feeling a person gets after traveling long distances, and perhaps he has some suggestions on how to overcome them!

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Van Mil and catcher Barnhart
Ludovicus Jacobus Maria Van Mil is his full name, befitting a gentleman with the stature of the Dutch reliever, who was a large presence in the bullpen of the 2013 WBC Netherlands team and a veteran of international competition.  His totals from the recent world contest are easy, three games, three innings, three strikeouts.

He appeared in the 2007 world cup and was selected but missed the 2008 olympics due to injury, which also kept him out of the 2009 WBC.

He throws HARD. Fastball in mid-to-upper 90s, it sits around 95 and he can dial up to 99 when he needs it is the scouting report. He throws a good tight slider and uses a changeup. When he gets the call to the majors he will be the tallest major leaguer in history, with two full inches on Jon Rauch.

Van Mil finally got his first at bat this year, he struck out, but I want to ask him about finally getting into the box!

SP C.Rogers

Chad Rogers 
last start 5-28, 6 innings pitched, 2 hits, 3walks, 3K and got the win. The Texan leads the league in ERA now that Alex Wood has been promoted to Atl. He has one win in the past 30 days, buts its more a sign of the team unable to score runs than a measure of Rogers pitching ability.

 Ryan Dennick
The Cuyahoga County Casanova

last start 5-29 the lefty with the smooth headshot tossed five good innings, allowing just one unearned run on three walks, two strikeouts and just a pair of hits. The pride of North Ohlmstead Ohio is 2w-5L with a very nice 2.57 ERA on the season.

He went to Tennessee Tech and is looking for that right someone to share long walks in the Ohio woods with... or at least thats what his photo implies.

Daniel Renken
last start 5-30, struck out seven in six innings, allowed one earned run on two walks and four hits vs the Generals.

He is 1w-4L on the year with a 3.77 era and sits at exactly 50 strikeouts so far this season.

Josh Smith
Josh Smith 
aka Mr.Smith
last start 5-31, Six and two-thirds innings pitched, seven hits and seven strikeouts, two walks and one earned run got Smith the victory last time out. Josh leads the Wahoos starters with an 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

Josh Smith is a righty from Florida and studied at Lipscomb U, which begs for a punchline right in the kisser.

One of a long line of Smiths, perhaps but not assuredly including other greats like Dave, Bessie, Ray, the village smithy and of course who could forget the literary giant who indeed inspired this paragraph with the inspiring title of "Great People Named Smith" - of course I mean the famed author H.Allen Smith.
Tim Crabbe
nickname TBA
Tim Crabbe
last start 6-1, took a loss in 6.1 innings pitched, two earned on six hits and one base on balls but he had seven punchouts.

The six foot-four inch Arizona native made 18 starts for the Wahoos last year, earning a 3-6 record. Hes back this season and walking fewer batters, but still carrying a losing record at 2w and 5 losses.


The Southern league is basically undergoing a quiet remake of itself - beginning in Biscuitville and moving across the southeast, teams are trying to convince people to be fans with new ballparks.

The city of Biloxi has moved to build a 36million dollar ballpark next to the BeauRivage casino, in large part with the money from the BP oil spill. 
Not sure if I agree with a ballpark next to a casino built with money supposed to be used to clean up the oil spill, but then I dont have the benefit of a Biloxi education and will leave that to those more qualified....

The league prez has put a silence order on the team owners, but it is fact that Biloxi thinks it can go from empty casino parkinglot to baseball stadium full of fans watching double-A southern league team by next April 1st.

The gag concerns which team is moving and keeps current owners from discussing with media negotiations or pending franchise sales. I think that is a terrible way to conduct business and to treat the fans of the teams in the cities concerned - lookin at you Huntsville and Jackson TN!

While both cities have terrible attendance I think it is likely to be the Stars who find themselves in the newest ballpark in the Southeast next spring.




Ottis Johnson

JUNE 2nd 1951  - Due to the poor lighting during a Alabama-Florida League contest at Peanut Stadium in Headland, Alabama, Ottis Johnson of the Dothan Browns fails to get out of the way of a fastball thrown by pitcher Jack Clifton.

The 24-year-old Class D minor league outfielder undergoes surgery and spends eight days in the hospital before dying on June 10 as a result of being hit by the Dixie Runners hurler's pitch.

Clifton is a twenty game winner that season, one of the leagues top hurlers, pitching in over 30 games, but does not play professionally again after that season. He had not played pro ball since the war in 1943, but has pitched semi pro and estimated he was throwing fastballs in the mid 90mph range, and often pitched hitters tight.

Ottis Johnson, the victim of the deadly beanball, was just in his second season of professional baseball, both in Dothan. He was a force in the lineup, with 17 homers and a .336 career average in just over 135 games. He was known to get hit often, and would sometimes freeze up on inside pitches. He was also a husband and father of one.

Jack Clifton went on to pitch a complete game and got the win, 5-1.

The Dothan Browns, and other teams as well, refuse to face Clifton again after the beaning, The Browns even taking a forfeit and paying a fine for refusing to take the field against him.

Soon teams threaten to leave the league if Clifton and the Dothan manager are allowed to stay on the team. Eventually the league hands out fines and the season comes to a close.

In fact, Jack Clifton would be used in the outfield but would never again pitch vs Dothan. Clifton led the league in wins and batters hit by pitch. 
Dothans Wiregrass Stadium, site of forfeit vs Headland
The Dothan Browns went on to win the pennant that season, weeks after Ottis' death. Clifton, who passed away in 2008, admitted that the death of Johnson is what led him to give up pitching after that season.

Jack Clifton
"He was a good boy," Clifton said. "Don't misunderstand that. I liked that boy. It was really a burden and it still is. I think about it quite often."

1951 Dothan Browns celebrate winning the league championship

1 comment:

ScottIP said...

Hi Dr. My name is Scott Parks, and I'm the author of "Bottom Rung: The Deep South Class D Baseball Scrapbook." The book is mostly about the Alabama-Florida League and is a collection of interviews, photos, and stats. I lived in Montgomery for 10 years (unfortunately before baseball returned) and spent many weekends traveling the towns and cities that once had pro baseball. I was fortunate to spend a day with Jack Clifton before he passed, as well as Ottis Johnson's brother Edsel. Those interviews, as well as interviews with Virgil Trucks and many others are contained in the book.

If any blog readers are interested, the book is available on Amazon.