Monday, July 29, 2013

Hard Times Mean Tough Biscuits


Its been a tough summer for the Montgomery Blues, playing tough against the better teams enough to offer hope but unable to put together a prolonged winning streak. The weight has been placed firmly on the starting pitchers, likely its become obvious that a pitcher has to throw a shutout to earn a win.

The back-to-back doubleheaders were a rare treat for true fans of the game and a chance for the Biscuits to suckerpunch what is essentially the top team. It turned out to be just that, one of the best series of the year, and worthy of a recap!
Biscuits turning the double play vs Jacksonville Suns
Game one on Thursday was started by Mike Colla who put in a fine performance. Pitching six innings allowing just one run gave a break to the bullpen in a seven inning game. He fanned four and walked none as he picked up the win at home, his one blemish being a home run in his sixth and final inning. He worked well, getting a groundball for a double play when he needed one in the fourth to escape a jam with runners at the corners and fielding his position to help turn that 1-6-3 inning ender to the delight of the crowd.

Game two was a spot start by Marquis Fleming, just his second pro start. It was a joy to watch him rise to the occasion, pitching four strong innings and opened the door for the Biscuits bullpen to hold the lead when the Skitz scored four times in the fourth to get past the Suns. Braulio Lara was credited with the win, but Fleming was the one who led the team to victory.

Biscuits Glaesmann batting vs Suns
Thompson in game one
The following day SP Jake Thompson nearly did throw a shutout, coming within a pitch or two of his first complete game shutout in game one on Friday. He departed with men on the corners, who of course scored and though he picked up the well deserved win everyone felt he deserved better.
Enny Romero on Friday vs the Suns
In the second game of that same twin bill, Enny Romero pitched and lost a game that he should have won, a masterful gem tarnished only by a single mistake driven over the wall.  Biscuit bats were slumbering lumber and refused to wake which sent Romero to the loss column.

Getting a split on the heels of the doubleheader sweep on Thursday meant a series win against Jacksonville, but the Suns came away with the momentum.

Saturday it was three homers in a row that sank the Skitz, though the crowd was fat and happy on Eat-A-Palooza night, with all you can eat feasting nobody noticed the final score!

There have been alot of changes in the Biscuit lineup the past few weeks, a product of a changing roster. The past few weeks have also seen a wide range of lineups and position changes - not to mention inconsistent play. Some changes are good, some are bad and some ya never know! Here are a few things we do know....

New catcher from Charlotte starting hot, Curt Casali had success in his first taste of Biscuitville, now looks to get a chance for road stats. I didnt get to put a stopwatch on him, but noticed that the Suns were able to steal two bags against him in game five. When the first runner of the game walks and steals second base, you are off to a bad start!
Casali with Crabs
Mike Mahtook seems to have gone back to hitting in the third spot. I dont have his stats on that, but noticed in my scorebook that he was on base seven times in 14 plate appearances when he was batting second against the Smokies.

Of course, that was before we lost Kevin Kiermaier. Since his departure the Skitz have searched for a hitter to take over at thet op of the order. In this homestand vs the Suns we saw Kyeong Kang batting leadoff twice, Even Frey took a turn once and Hector Guevara batted first once.

Big Mo's Skitz in last place
Yes, of course we did. So much so that twitter's @DidTheBiscuitsWin was able to tweet an early "No" without fear of offering misinformation.

Sunday on the road against the Braves it was Frey hitting first again.

The Braves stole four bases, three by Ed Salcedo, and were also caught twice by Curt Casali.

Jake Floethe gave up eight hits and five walks in four and two thirds innings, striking out two on his way to his sixth loss since joining the Biscuits. He was charged with five earned runs, three others were unearned.

Marquis Fleming gets his second start of the year, facing the Braves Righty Schlosser at 7:OO.

Shawn O'Malley expects to return to the team today and could be in the lineup as soon as tonight.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Biscuits vs Braves Series Starting July 28

Biscuits face Braves in Ms

Floethe will pitch the opener against the Braves after the Skitz lost Saturday vs the Suns. The longball has been the achilles heel for Montgomery, Jacksonville hitting three in a row was enough to seal the victory in the game. Fortunately the Biscuits had already taken the series by winning the first three games of the back to back doubleheaders.

The teams in the South division are within a few games of each other and the pretenders will start falling away in this series and the next. Hopefully we can get out of last place and avoid the cellar for this year.

Still stuffed from Eat-A-Palooza?
Me too, more tomorrow!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Biscuit and League Headlines, Jersey Auction Suggestions


Biloxi is not on the 2014 SL Schedule sent to MLB farm directors for approval. It has already been approved by the teams in the Southern league.
1903 Southern League Schedule

Biloxi will not open next year with a team but has hopes of moving a current franchise mid-season. That has never happened in this incarnation of the Southern League, but those familiar with Montgomery baseball history know that we lost our team midseason 1956 to Knoxville. During that same summer we replaced the departed team with the Little Rock team, effectively moving up from Single-A to Double-A in one summer. It was short lived tho, the Rebels were D-League from '57 until the mid-sixties.

Southern League Hall of Fame Created, First Three Inductees are Executives
With no physical location other than a plaque in the hallway of the league offices, this has quickly degraded into a self serving pat on their own back. The reason this hasn't already been done is because without it being an independent entity its just a failed project.

Mobile pitcher Eric Smith was given the same suspension as Biscuits catcher Mark Thomas, having been caught with a non-performance enhancing drug in his system. Marvin Miller fought to keep Smith and Thomas from being suspended, but MLB owners rammed through 80's style "Just Say No" rules and players weren't in a position to fight it. The next Bargaining Agreement will likely be more bargaining and less agreements.

Among Southern League headlines "Montgomery pulls tarp off field".

Ozzie says what is on everyones minds at the start of the game on Thursday

Each team should host the Southern League Shrine of Fame the year they host the AllStar Game. Each team should be allowed to focus on their own history, and caretake their own history when the Shrine moves to a new location for a year.

But hey, thats just my suggestion!

I got lots of suggestions, for all kinda things. Which leads us to the next topic....




Probly Road Blues this year!
1. Offer the uniforms unwashed as an option. Some collectors prefer game used looks, you may be washing away value!
2. Offer game used caps signed by the players at a lower bid than the Jerseys. This gives fans who cant afford a jersey something to take home and adds to the charitable donations.
3. Offer complete uniforms, including pants, hat and socks. For top players, this would be highly desirable for collectors.
4. Arrange signing of the item for the winning bidder, as an option. The washing is an issue again, so it should be an autograph and no wash as an option.
5. Game used bases are sold at MLB games -  would add items to the auction not usually seen from Biscuits games.
6. Stagger the auction end times so that there are two batches of items, ending at different times. This would give bidders who miss out on top tier items in the first round a chance to get something. Lots of folks walk away with nothing and shouldn't have to!
7. Auction the Road gray jerseys - the Silver Surfers are loved and hated, give fans a chance to acquire a FULL SET of team gear!
8. Offer round of batting practice on the field with the coaches and/or team. VERY popular.
9. Give winners from last year a chance to match last years bid on the road jersey for the player they got last year. Get a full set for your fave player.
10.  Hire pro photographer for the event. Seriously, its worth it to the patrons!

11. BONUS SUGGESTION: Give the guy with GREAT suggestions some good gear for being so helpful with ideas given FOR FREE!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

DH FIX, Old Rebels Night


It was the closest thing Montgomery has to an Old Timers Day. Of course, the pregame ceremonies dont happen when the tarp doesnt come off the field. That didnt keep former Rebels from signing autographs and meeting fans, however.

The scheduled doubleheader had already been cut down to just one nine inning game. The rain streamed off the roofs and fell on the concourse where usually blue skies have been steadily gray the past month or more. It wasn't long after the gates opened that the figure of an older man in a pale cream jacket and matching driving cap found his way up to the ticket taker. He produced a folded piece of paper that gained him admittance without being scanned and was directed to a nearby table.

He stood by as a group of interns shuffled chairs and pushed his table into a better position to deal with the rainy conditions - its obvious he was an athlete during his younger days. He stands taller than most of the attendants and while stooped with age he seems to be more than aware of his importance and moves well, though slowly. As they arrange his table he inspects the zone with a keen eye, making note of any pitfalls or obstacles. He eventually settles into one of the metal folding chairs and the staff attendants fall away to other tasks as the announcement is made that the game's start will be delayed.

Seated alone, watching as rain falls on the people passing by and simply observing the situation is how I find Bud Lively.

"You must be Bud Lively" I said to him, bluntly. "I understand you were with the Rebels in '42" I continued as I stuck out my hand and was received by the large paw of a man who had obviously been a ballplayer. He shook my hand and replied "Well, I wasnt for very damn long" was his reply, and I knew I liked him. "My dad did too though, had several good years for Montgomery"

I had a chance to talk with Bud, he was very honest and I felt we hit it off well for the simple fact that we were both pretty blunt. He answered all my questions, except for the details of the Rebels uniforms "..that was seventy-one years ago!" and I found him to be all the best things vintage baseball should be. He was crusty but cheerful, he was old but not feeble, had a great smile and bright eyes that looked as young as any of the players waiting to see if the field would dry that night.

Bud felt that baseball had fallen off, especially in the south. He talked about how important it was to get young people playing the game, though the players today werent very good and it wasn't much incentive to kids. Bud admitted he wasn't a Rebel long "about two games, one good and one bad" but that he had played in Montgomery many times on visiting teams and always found the city to have appeal.

I asked him about his father, Jack Lively.
He was able to recount the stops in his dads career easily, including all the years he was with the Climbers and said "Dad and I had very parallel careers. We both spent 11 years in pro ball, both had injuries early in our career and spent a long time trying to get back". Bud didnt mention his own time lost to WW2, his service took him to the European Theater for 19 months.

I asked about his fathers no-hitter against Little Rock, often mentioned in bios for Jack Lively. "Oh yes, he talked about it all the time!" Bud replied. It seems dad was more than a little proud of that one! Bud said he didnt remember the details himself but implied that Jack sure did, in a way that only a family member who has sat through countless retellings can convey!

Bud Lively talked about the state of baseball, that there was alot of work to be done to improve the game to get it anywhere near where it was. "And its a shame the state its in now" was enough of a quote for me to apply to just about everything that annoys fans and players alike.

What can we do about it, I asked him. "Not a damn thing we can do, you and me. Baseball will fix itself, it always has" Bud Lively told me.

"And here is a man who had a pretty good idea about what to do to improve the state of the game" I replied as the table was joined by the man who was obviously John Young.

John Young is in many ways, the opposite of Bud Lively. While both are tall John Young is a very big man, broad in shoulders and accompanied by a very lovely lady who had taken on the role of supporting spouse for the evening. She was striking but silent and they both negotiated themselves into the chairs provided.

"Whats that?" was the reply, which seemed almost a bellow. After having a conversation with the octogenarian who was hard to hear over the rain delay music, John Young had a brash and forward demeanor. I explained we were talking about ideas for baseball, how to improve the future for the game. "Get kids to play. Thats all you need to do, thats all it takes." Mr.Young knew the game would sell itself and I agreed.

I quickly directed the conversation away from the topic that I suspected he had already spoken on three times today. "I understand you played for the Rebels," I said "I grew up watching that team, I may have seen you play in '74." I was given a long look and told I didnt look old enough to be a Rebels fan. Compliment accepted, thank you!

I staggered to the next question - How did the Dixie Association work? John Young replied that he thought it was a terrible idea going into the season. Too much travel, one roadtrip took the Rebels from Shreveport Louisiana to Charlotte North Carolina - thats a 12 hour drive on todays roads!
However, John Young said the Dixie Association wasn't all bad. "Once I got to Memphis, I hit two homers. I had spent the season struggling, my average was down and I hadn't found the stroke. Then we started hitting these Texas League towns, my average goes up, I start hitting homeruns, then more home runs and driving in runs. I rode that all the way to the big leagues that year, it was by far my best season"
I agreed that the Texas League parks must have been hitters parks once the warm air of summer set in.
Bud Lively put in that "When I played, it was the other way round. Pitchers were tough in the Texas League and if you got beat out there they sent you to the Southern League where the hitters were better."

Someone came and dropped off a box of promotional items, photos of Jack and Bud Lively and of John Young, pictured both individually and together. They were kind enough to sign one for me, as well as a baseball for my collection - two treasures that hold more memories than the value of their worth is usually calculated.


When asked what my first act as Commissioner would be, if I were given the job, I took a few moments to ponder and decided "I would abolish the designated hitter". I also decided I would at the same time "Install the designated hitter in the National League".

Many prospective commissioners and baseball writers, along with countless fans, have claimed this to be their first - and in some cases only - act upon taking office. But obviously to this point the "Great Experiment" has yet to be concluded, in large part owing to the fact that it essentially costs 30 men their jobs. The Players Union won't stand for that, and so it won't be an easy task for a new commish.
On the way out

But then, not everyone has an idea to fix it.

Thats where my platform for commissioner gets stronger! I have a solution that eliminates the designated hitter rule as it is used today, without cutting the jobs of players who are able to extend their careers by being professional hitters.

My Rule will state: all pitchers must hit for themselves as listed in the batting order, until the sixth inning, when a substitution can be made for the pitcher without having to remove the pitcher from the game.
A pinch hitter who enters the game in the sixth inning or afterwards and batting for the pitcher, may remain in the game and continue to bat for the pitchers spot as many times as it comes up in the course of that game, and thus becomes the "designated hitter" for that game.

You may pinch hit for the "designated hitter" at any time.
After the designated hitter comes into the game, no pitcher may bat for that team unless the game goes into extra innings.

So there is your fix!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vintage Game Notes, July 1970, John Young, Passing Biscuit Rotblatt

John Young will be honored at the Biscuits game today, as I went thru my notes I found this tidbit on a doubleheader during Young's tenure with the Rebs....

JULY 18 1970 
Montgomery Rebels take first place in the Southern League, beating Mobile in both end of a doubleheader by the same 1-0 score.

Starting Pitcher Jim Foor pitched a three hitter in the first game for the Rebels, outdueling Mobiles starter who threw a four hitter. Marty Barski doubled and then scored on a wild pitch for the only run of the game to win it for Montgomery.

In game two, starter 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.

Another doubleheader follows the next day vs Mobile.

A nice article was written on John Young and his reasons for being in Montgomery this week, the writeup appearing in the Advertiser. I dont have a bird, so I dont get the paper, and it almost snuck by me unnoticed!

Photo of Marv RotblattThis week we learned of the death of former Montgomery Rebel pitcher Marv Rotblatt. Rotty was with the Rebels in '56 when the team split time between Montgomery and Little Rock, pitching in 15 games, he made seven starts and compiled a record of five wins and four losses.

The lefty spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues with the White Sox, winning four games and losing three from 1948-'51. In 1951, at just age 23, he was dealt from the Pale Hose to the PCL Seattle team, but Marv hangs up the spikes and never reports to pro ball again.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hidden History of Montgomery Baseball


The Todd Glaesmann Rain Turtle continued its domination of the Biscuits summer, forcing a two game set on Wednesday after the daily downpour doused the grounds beyond playability.

Mark Thomas, Biscuits catcher, has been suspended 50 games due to a second positive drug test for a drug of recreation. Smoking pot? No wonder we have been cheering for him! Too bad its against mlb rules when many states are seeing that its less harmful than alcohol. Besides, ya need something to take the sting out of a .152 batting average!

Rebels Logo, classic!
I found out yesterday morning that the Biscuits would be having two former Rebels in a pregame ceremony to honor Montgomery and its place in the game.

The city paper had an article that discussed Turkey Stearns for ten paragraphs, one paragraph of other Montgomery managers past and one single paragraph that substantiated the article headline "Montgomery baseball heritage to be honored".

I have lots to say about this topic, even if the mainstream media can only devote one paragraph.

The history of Montgomery baseball has been long hidden and left to rot without discussion, due in part to memories not wanted. But all history is history, good or bad.

We in Montgomery have learned the importance of embracing the bad, lest the lessons be forgotten. The same is true of our baseball history, where we may have been guilty in the past of negative social skills and low behavior. I think the only way to rise above it is to see what has happened. In that way we appreciate the good and learn from the bad. 

Embrace it, learn from it and love it, for it is unchangeable.

First, I am glad they are doing it at all. After last years rain out and no reschedule I think its a long overdue event for our team to host.

Secondly, I think its terrible to not promote this better. That I learned of it just two days before it happens shows how little preparation has gone into the planning. This is the type of thing that deserves more attention or risk coming off as an afterthought. It needed to be on the calendar for at least a week!

Third, where are our throwback uniforms?
Biscuits sport Montgomery Climbers uniforms ca 1910, at Rickwood

Also, the players appearing are an interesting choice, former Rebels Buddy Lively and John Young.

Photo of Buddy Lively
Bud Lively ca 1950
Bud Lively only played two games for Montgomery, as a Rebel in 1942 and managed by Bill Cronin.

Jack Lively, Buds dad, also to be honored
At that time the Rebs were pretty much the second team in the city - much below the level of play shown by the Maxwell Bombers who sported a big-league rotation that included four pitchers who either would or had tossed no-hitters in the majors.

Lively spent several seasons playing for Shreveport, Jacksonville and Augusta in the 1950s Sally League. He likely made more starts AGAINST Montgomery than for us.

Buds father, Jack Lively, will also be honored and is the subject of a future blog post. Jack played for the famous '09 Climbers team and also had great seasons in the Majors.


Young played for the Rebels in 1970, 71 and part of 74.

In 74 he played for current Tigers mgr Jim Leyland and alongside Ted Brazell and big leaguers Vern Rhule and Bruce Kimm. John Young would make the majors himself, playing for the Tigers he had a cup of coffee in 1971. Getting into two games he had two hits, one was a double, an RBI.

John Young 1971
Both hits and the run batted in came in a victory against the Yankees, John entered the game in the fourth inning and in the fifth doubled off of NY starter Roger Hambright. He would score on a Mickey Stanley sac fly after being moved up to third when Willie Horton singled. In the 8th inning he would single to drive in Carlos Gutierrez. John Young would be stranded on base to end the eighth and would never get another major league at bat.

As a Rebel he played 1b, though he did get into 12 games in the outfield in '74. Young had a great season in 1971, batting a solid .297 with 17 homers and 63 runs batted in to go along with 30 stolen bases - numbers that likely earned him the callup in September.

Playing for Jim Leyland was a new thing for Young, but playing WITH him wasn't. For a short time, Leyland was Young's teammate on the Rebels in 1970 under manager Stubby Overmire. Jimmy Leyland was 25 that year, and caught just two games for the Rebels. The following season his Montgomery manager was Dick Tracewski - who we discussed in a recent blog.

Mr.Young also is the founder of RBI, Reviving Baseball in the Innercities. Very cool.

So we get a couple former players, one from way back and one from the 70s heyday of the Rebels teams. The article in the paper states that there are other aspects of this "Montgomery Baseball Leadership Heritage Day", including exhibits/events at City Hall, Gateway Lodge, Bellingrath CC and Troys Whitley Hall.
Where the teams played but not hosting events for this?
 Why are we hiding this history? The City of Montgomery announced the event in a press release today. Talk about short notice! However it does provide a great deal more info than the much longer article in the Advertiser - including a list of honorees that is much more in keeping with the names and history that I would expect.

The City and the Biscuits need to be looking ahead on this project, it should be an annual buildup over the next three seasons ahead of the return of the Southern League AllStar Game to Montgomery in 2016. While it hasnt been announced for us, Mobile had the one in 2005 and interviews with their front office after the recent announcement that they get the game in '15 imply that teams "go in order, taking turns hosting" the midsummer event.

Sparking an interest in this history of our baseball teams and players is a major part of getting people to support the game and the team we have. The city could do worse than promote civic pride in the area of baseball, as we are already well sold on the concept of other major sports.

Cramton Bowl, home of the Climbers, not mentioned? Ruth/Gehrig played here!
Also I consider this a pretty sad attempt to lure the Southern League Hall Of Fame, which would be an awesome draw for the Biscuits as well as the City. We are pretty much centrally located to the current teams in the league, and would have ample classic buildings to house the museum, which could easily be tied into the whole downtown renovation.

Durham Rich from Biscuits Imports, Dietrich returns! Fresh Biscuit Casali


An article in financial bigfish Forbes lists the top Minor League Teams in terms of cash value. Included on the list is the Durham Bulls, who for the past ten years have climbed into the top tier of teams with vaults of annual cash created in large part due to a famous name.

But also from having the best Biscuits players drive them to the postseason more often than not, while Montgomery has been to the playoffs three times in ten years.

Of the 160 teams in the survey group, the Bulls were listed among the top 35 teams. This includes all of affiliated baseball, such as Double and Triple-A, but not foreign teams. Revenue and attendance were the stats used to rank the teams, including expenses like stadium leases and payroll. Not listed was if there was team or city debt incurred via bonds or other long term financial obligations.
Scrooge McDuck could be a team owner

This helps explain why our team has been a one way funnel of talent and the organizations apparent views of Montgomery as a lesser stopover. In terms of finance, we simply cant compete and will likely always be second class in the eyes of teams in the top 35.


See how excited he is?
Beginning Tuesday the Biscuits host the Jacksonville Suns for a five game set at Riverwalk. Monday night the Suns parent club, the Marlins, called up top prospects Jake Marisnick and Christian Yelich. Sent down in their place are Marcell Ozuna and former Biscuit Derek Dietrich.

Deet had the hit that propelled the Skitz into the playoffs last year, and has been a hot infielder for the Marlins until he cooled off over the past three or four weeks. The Marlins obviously have a good plan in place, using double-A Jacksonville to farm prospects without overexposing them to scouts at the higher level.

Im sure the irony of returning to Riverwalk wont be lost on Derek, who will be playing in the Southern league as an opponent of the Biscuits while looking to get hot again for a late summer promotion.

Freshest Biscuit of the batch!
Welcome new Biscuit Curt Casali, catcher, up from Charlotte. Not announced at this writing yet, but already tweeted congrats by teammates and an AP article from his hometown confirms it as well.

Curt went to college at Vandy, David Price's school, and hit .267 with five homers this year for Port Charlotte. Casali could be added as soon as Tuesday morning, or lurk on the StoneCrabs roster while here catching bullpens and warming up pitchers between innings until a move is made.

It also makes one wonder who the player going out will be - is there is a trade lurking that will open a roster spot is the first question at this time in the season. If not, then we have to wait and see who is getting put on the DL or sent to Durham.

JULY 23 2013

GAME ONE - Mike Colla vs Robert Morey
GAME TWO - Enny Romero vs Anthony DeSclafani
GAME THREE - Jake Thompson vs Justin Nicolino
GAME FOUR - Victor Mateo vs Adam Conley
GAME FIVE - Jake Floethe vs Bryan Evans

This is a big series for the Suns, who could lock themselves into great position should they sweep the Skitz. Should the Biscuits manage a sweep, Montgomery would then be one game above .500 in the second half. Jacksonville is the team we are chasing, so we need these games and this series if we expect to make any kind of push in the second half.

The Suns are loaded with talent, even after the departure of two of the best prospects in the Southern League. 
SP Adam Conley
3B Zack Cox becomes the top hitter on the team with his .288 average.
Big first baseman Mark Canha leads the current roster in homers with eight, ahead of returning Ozuna who has five tallies.
SS Audy Ciraco is second on the team with 25 rbi.
Marisnick's departure means that Catcher JT Realmuto has the team lead in stolen bases with 8, on his way to an annual total of 13 - he has had 13 steals each of the last two seasons!

SP Conley leads the team in wins with 9 and has 93 strikeouts on the season.


The Suns are the top team in the division after playoff-bound Mobile. They just lost their two best hitters in Marisnick and Yelich. They won't be without help though, as they have replaced the departed with big league quality. Look for the Suns to change the batting order in an effort to smooth the tempo.
Look for the Biscuits to try to figure out how to pitch around the prospects in the Suns lineup in an effort to expose weak spots.
Look for Mahtook to return to the lineup or be put on the DL.
Look for Curt Casali to warm pitchers up in the bullpen and between innings to get familiar with the staff.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

League Questions, Biscuits stuff

As we get back to the grind after the break, its interesting to ponder what the future holds for the league. Obviously the Biscuits are staying put, but what more is there? Settle in with a cuppa and enjoy as we take a look at some of the items on the plate for the second half of 2013!

After seeing an interview with the SL prez, a subtle question was dodged about the Biloxi issue. The Smokies arent moving, thats to be sure, and she let us know it again. The Generals say they arent moving, and in fact they are trying to build a hotel adjacent to the ballpark to boost tourist attendance, though the Prez didnt mention anything about it.

However no word was given on if Huntsville would move, or on the imposed silence around the Space City teams possible relocation.

I heard a rumor that Jacksonville might be able to get promoted to triple-A, but that Suns ownership wasn't in favor of it. They would be able to go up a level based on the size and proportions of their ballpark, but the family prefers double-A baseball since thats what it has always been. Its a rumor, take it for what it is, I'm just sayin!

The Prez.
The interesting quote that was given by the SL Prez was that "unless there is a reorganization" of the Double-A leagues, we wont be expanding. But even that fact came with the caveat of "and if we did, we (the southern league offices) wouldn't be in charge of it". 

I found it interesting that the question of expansion, which must be at the forefront of league interest with the overtures Biloxi has made, was shuffled off. The buck was passed, before the fact even! Also that if there is a change, it isnt up to the League President.

It sounds like the League heads are in a fix, with a city clamoring for a team - waving money and offering yet another new ballpark. The Huntsville team should move, but Alabama politics has spilled onto the conversation and muddied the concept.

Currently there are three Double-A leagues, and they fade in size from east to west. The Eastern League has 12 teams, our Southern League has ten, and the Texas League is made up of eight teams.

Maybe Biloxi investors could buy all the season tickets and all the game seats from Huntsville and move them? Nah, makes too much sense and is probably cheaper, we will surely see something more creative and much more expensive . Thats how baseball works, the front office always makes things more complex than they need to be!
The Joe
So perhaps we should expect changes, when a League Prez says its not their call it usually means they are trying to dodge the blame for major shifts to come.

In 1971 or roundabouts, there was a season that the Southern League and the Texas league combined to play each other in the "Dixie Association" and it was an odd arrangement. Born of hard financial times and teams folding or moving, it resulted in both leagues fielding an odd number of teams. So they got together for one year, sharing a schedule and playoffs.

Teams were divided into three divisions. The East division contained the four easternmost teams in the Southern league. The West division was comprised of the four westernmost teams of the Texas League. The Central was made up of a mix of six teams combining Texas and Southern league teams.

Ok, stay with me on this....

They had the teams in the West play each other and the teams in the central. The teams in the East played each other and the teams in the Central. The teams in the Central played each other AND every other team in the league!
1971 Skipper Tracewski

We were 73-69 under manager Dick Tracewski, good for third place.

At the end of the year, the two teams with the best records in their respective Texas and Southern leagues played each other in a playoffs. The winner was declared the champ of the league. The two league winners then faced each other, with the winner taking on the team with the best record in the combined leagues!

Could we see something like that next year?
It might depend on how bad the league wants Biloxi to have a team.

Adding a team to our league in Biloxi would mean another city would lose a team, and it would make for a nightmare in scheduling for not just our league office but for the league that team had left.
Some things are best in pairs

It would take TWO teams to expand, probably coming from the same league. This would mean action from MiLB beyond the powers of the Southern league president, which has obviously been discussed with the President and the one comment is perhaps a slip that warns us a Double-A shuffle of some sort is indeed possible.

If the league were to lure any teams still in their current cities, it should be Little Rock. They are the nearest city but then the smallest double-A league would be a team shorter on the schedule. Little Rock has a long history in the Southern League, and would probably be a nice addition if Biloxi convinced them to come along.

If Jacksonville were threatened with large checks or legal action and did take the promotion to being the Triple-A affiliate of the Marlins, it would open the door for New Orleans to return to the Southern League.
Or the team could be relocated to Biloxi, which would take New Orleans from Triple-A to independent ball in less than six months.

Also it would mean there were a group of Marlins minor leaguers who would be told next spring "Congrats, you have been promoted from Double-A Jacksonville. This year you are going to move up to Triple-A Jacksonville."
Visiting players flee during another Big Mo rampage

Also announced at the meeting during the SL Allstar festivities, the creation of a Southern League Hall of Fame. A great idea that has been talked about for ages, this is just the kind of thing that is great on paper but ends up being less than the sum of its parts. Hopefully we can avoid insulting everyone, but I have a hard time seeing this helping Montgomery look good.

Hopefully this will be an "exhibit without a home" as there would be little excitement to go somewhere else and see how another city owns and runs the museum. The teams have changed cities and affiliations so often, there would be concern that the host city might lose its team in ten years. Having it at the League Office in Atlanta would almost guarantee that nobody went, its ridiculous to host a Hall of Fame for the Southern League in a city that doesnt have a team in that league!

I think it would be ideal to have the HOF move to a new host city and spend 12 months at their ballpark or closeby, then move to the next for a year. It would give everyone a chance to see the items, give each each city a chance to show off its best baseball stuff, and not require a large investment in a location that really isn't convenient to each city's fans.

I also hope it doesn't turn out to be Southern League EXECUTIVES Hall Of Fame. The new league Prez said Don Mincher would be among the first to go in, and I think its a slight to the fifty years of amazing players, managers and teams to lock an executive in first.


No mention from the team or newspaper, but Cameron Seitzer did indeed win the Southern League Home Run Derby! How can they not be screaming and yelling about our victory, perhaps the first Biscuit to take the top spot in the summer longball display? Congrats Seitz!
Seitzer and Ender Enciarte take a break during the Derby

Colla went in game one, which we won in the 11th on Mayo Acosta's homer and nice throw to catch a runner stealing.
Jake Thompson in game two.
Enny Romero in game three.
Victor Mateo starts game four and five - according to the Southern League website!
Jake Floethe probably gets a chance in one of those last two.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

After the Break


The second half shakeup is in swing after the break, Mike Colla will be the first starter. He will make the series opening start and for the first time this year Jake Thompson will have to take the hill in something other than the number one spot.

If I heard the broadcast correctly, Colla will take the first turn, Mateo the second game, Romero in game three, Thomson in game four and Floethe will toss the 'nally. Its become hit and miss finding projected starters on the badly run Southern league website, the local Newspaper never posts the info and the team website is geared toward sales over stats.
documented ShO'malley sighting

Riccio Torrez has a broken hand and wont be making any diving catches at third. While at post time no move had been made, expect him to inhabit the DL and require a concurrent roster move to fill out the infield. No word yet on how long hes out, but twitter info tells us that he has to have his roommate cut food for him.

ShOmalley Returns!
The move is probably going to be the activation of Shawn O'Malley, out since the Triassic Period with a sore back from walking upright. ShowMalley will be a welcome addition to the lineup.

The BayBears?
Only more of the same, fifteen wins and ten losses in the second half is the exact opposite of the Skitz record of 10wins - 15 losses. We were just in Mobile a week ago, dropping three of five games including a Friday doubleheader that saw us surrender 20 runs in a night. We scored four runs.


We are in the middle of a rough stretch for the Montgomery Nine, playing five on the road vs the top team in our division, then coming home to face the number two team Jacksonville. I say the middle of a rough stretch because of the three previous series, two were against the top teams in the league, the BayBears and Smokies.

Look for changes in the batting order, due in part to injury and in part to sparking life into low batting averages. Moving Mahtook around in the order once he gets healthy is likely, so see if he can find a spot that he gets hits in.

Look for the pitching rotation to change, but the bullpen mix and match will continue as it has been. Every chance to succeed will be given the relievers, which are either quiet victories or loud losses.

Look for the roster to remain about the same, names that might be added in the next two weeks are ones that we are familiar with - players coming off the DL or returning from other levels.


New Haven has a Pepe's Pizza, coincidence?
Joe Pepe
"This stuff is the kind of pizza that was, in actuality, invented here in America around the turn of the last century. Joe Pepe started his place where it still stands today, on Wooster Street, in New Haven, CT. Today it is still family run, by Joe's great grandson, Joe Biemonte. The original oven is still fired by Pennsylvania anthracite (hard) coal. 

You'll get into fist fights claiming who was first on the scene. On Wooster Street, it was Pepe's, then Sallie's. Nobody argues that. But the New York people, being more blustery, also lay claim, but the problem is, none of the ovens have been coal fired *and* baking pizza as long as Pepes. 
There is one older oven than Pepe's, but it is an acknowledged fact it was baking bread only for a few years after old Joe opened."
found posted on forum board for discussing pizza.

Could the 1909 Montgomery Climbers have fielded the inventor of modern pizza playing shortstop? He played in New Haven for a few years, stranger things have happened than a ballplayer opening a restaurant.

A quick call to the pizzeria in question uncovers the fact that they opened in 1925. I ask about Joe the founder and if he ever played ball and am told to ask the owners, Joes grandkids.

They are among the royalty of pizza in America, if not the world. While Philadelphians debate which of the cheesesteaks are tops, other east coasters make special trips to the mecca of pizza shops in New Haven and the surrounding area. These guys are legend!

Not wanting to come up on an interview unprepared, I gathered my many Joe Pepe bits and snips and clippings and articles and box scores and stats.

Thats when I came across this item.

So maybe not the Joe Pepe who invented pizza in 1925.

Anniston Star, Monday December 5th, 1921

Indeed, Joe passed away in December 1921, at home in New York at age 30. 

DOB April 10, 1891
DOD Dec 4, 1921.
Throws: Right
Bats: Right

1600 career hits, 1800+ games and a lifetime .245 batting average are Joe Pepe's numbers over 15 seasons, 1906-1921. His only baseball card appearance seems to be the one he makes while with Montgomery.

Baseball Reference lists his Date of Birth as April 10th 1891. The Federal Government issues a social security card to a Joe Pepe, but the birth date is listed as 22 May 1898 and thus not likely the infielder for the Climbers.

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 12, Midseries vs Wahoos... Again.

Oh yeah, hey, we are playing the Wahoos again.

I hope you just paged back and checked out the two previous blogs breaking down the Pensacola team, because its the same group of guys for the most part.... The seven foot tall closer, the short catcher, Travis at first who thinks its funny to give muddy baseballs away to kids instead of the actual game used one he caught to end the inning, the short guy, the pitcher with the cheesy headshot.
With Van Mil

Somehow this team owns us, and we have been sent to the cellar just a few short series into the second half.

We are known to be a "second half team" which means we are better when you take the best team in the division out of the running in the first half. There are only five teams in our division, one of them is us, one of them is the first half winner. Mathematically speaking we only have to get past three teams in the second half.

Should be easy, but somehow we have played under our ability all year. We have a .241 batting average, which is middle of the league but nearly twenty points higher than the Wahoos who also lurk in the league basement in terms of runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS.

They own us. We are seven wins and nine losses against them this year, but throw out the first series of the season and we are just three wins and seven losses against the BlueWahoos.

We dont seem to like home cooking in the second half, we are losing two games for every one we win at home after going just one game under .500 at home in the first half. Even Kevin Kiermaier, arguably our best player, can't wait to get back on the road - he is hitting a nice .310 on the year, but just .271 at Riverwalk. He has an incredible .347 batting average on the road and Billy Gardner Jr should consider having him put up in a hotel room during homestands.

Those numbers wont add up to wins in the second half, but there is still hope. Player promotions are on the horizon, there will be players moving up from Port Charlotte over the next few weeks. That is, unless the Big Club plays the record Skitz fans have heard so many times over "Keep them in Charlotte because the Stone Crabs are in the race" for the Florida State League.

Getting the callup has really changed
There will be players being brought up, guys like Drew Vettleson, speedy Willie Argo, equally speedy Taylor Motter, powerhitting Alejandro Segovia or hit machine shortstop Jake Hager could be in the starting lineup in quick order. Conversely, they could be included in a trade and never wear Biscuits garb.

As Tampa has its eyes set on division leading Boston going into the Allstar break, its entirely possible that we stand to lose way more than we get over the next few weeks.


Its easy to look at the roster and see who has value on the Biscuit bus - even a steady role player not labeled a prospect could be included as a trade chip to bring a major league rent-a-player to carry the Rays over the top. Just last year Derek Dietrich was lifted from Biscuit to Big Leaguer just months after such a trade sent him to the Marlins.

Guys like Seitzer, Glaesmann and Price could be regarded valuable enough for a team to want to include but not so vaunted that they couldnt be had in the right deal. Enny Romero will be on display in the Futures Game and could pitch his way into a new uniform before the end of the month.

Relievers? I dont think help is going to arrive.

The Bullpen in Durham has good guys and probly doesnt want to give them back. They rarely do.

The pen in Charlotte has its hands full with the FSL pennant race and the StoneCrabs starting pitchers habit of only pitching four innings a game.

The bullpen for the Skitz was bulletproof early, but the armor has fallen away over the past couple months and left the team with question marks at the end of games. Unless the Rays get a minor league reliever as a part of a bigger deal it seems we will just have to hope they can put the armor back on for the final weeks.



JULY 11 1968
Montgomery Rebels Starting Pitcher Bob Reed defeats the Asheville Tourist 3-2, dropping Ashville into a tie with Birmingham, who win on a Rollie Fingers two hitter against Savannah in the first of a doubleheader sweep for the Bham A's.




1912 New Haven Murlins
Upon leaving the Climbers, 20 year old Joe Pepe signs with New Haven in 1911.

Born in New York state, he probably hopes to play close to home, only to be traded back to the south in a midseason trade with New Orleans.
1911 Murlins w/Joe Pepe defeat  Cleveland "Naps" w/ "Shoeless" Joe Jackson

After finishing that season for the Pelicans, he signs with the New Haven Murlins again in 1912 and spends the next six seasons on the east coast playing for New Haven and the Binghamton Bingoes. 

Your 1915 Binghamton Bingoes


During his career after Montgomery, Pepe seems to have been a popular trade chip, being offered repeatedly over the years. Newspapers seem to have plenty of trade speculation involving Joe and where he was headed.
Sept 1914
1915 Rumors!
April 1917

1917 offer!

Pepe did not end up managing Missoula
Joe Pepe was dealt, though it was for cash and not to become manager of Missoula. He was sold to Toronto at the start of 1915.

Sold off in 1915
 Not without incident however, as newspaper reports indicate that League officials had to step in and make a ruling.

Joe Pepe, left, with Binghamton from 1917 newspaper article
 Joe Pepe had some of his best seasons at the plate with the Binghamton Bingoes, hitting .284 in 1915 - his first year with them. His average slipped a little in the following two years, .259 and .242 as the league pitchers figured him out.

stats page 1917
In 1918 Joe played at the highest level of his career. Moving west to California he signs to play for Los Angeles in the PCL, where he hits a career high 5 home runs.
Well, ya can't win em all
In 1919 Pepe headed to the Texas league, playing for a variety of teams over the next three seasons.

Joe Pepe, traded again

Another trade with issues!

In 1921 at the listed age of 30, Pepe played for Nashville of the Southern Association. With the Vols he hit a robust .268 and is credited with a pair of homers on the season, great for a deadball era infielder.

Pepe batting fifth for Nashville, 1921