Saturday, September 28, 2013

adios frankie, what Selig stole this weekend

Francisco De La Rosa was dealt to the whitesox. The story in that is the fact that a team would take him, not that the rays would send him away.

I know I am tough on Frankie, I never forgave him for taking a loss against Birmingham in which he was unable to hold a NINE RUN LEAD. In relief? He didnt even have to go the full game, he was brought in after the first four innings!

So, you can probly tell I am not upset about it. In fact, I hope the PaleHose send him to Double-A so we can get a chance to get a few of those runs back.

Bud Selig at MLB Headquarters
So I am looking at the standings, and along with the recent report that Selig will indeed quit being commissioner in january 2o15, it listed his many "accomplishments". I disagreed with them all, and noted that the quotes given were almost all by either employees or others who stood to gain from speaking good about him. There were no exceptions among the media, from what I could see, likely they fear reprisal from the car salesman if they speak out or even point out the negatives of his tenure.

Among the travesties rattled off, like a litany of atrocities, was the wild card. It got me to thinking, always a dangerous moment....

I wonder what would it be like without the wild card.

If there were no wild card and only two divisions, what would be different?

Atlanta would be in a dead heat tie with the Cardinals atop the NL East, 94 wins each, with the Pirates three games back with three to play. In the NL West the Dodgers would have a one game lead on Cincinnati.

In the American League the West division would belong to the A's as easily as they already have it. However the East would still be undecided, led by Boston, three games ahead of the Tigers going into the last series.

This weekends Pittsburgh Pirates vs Cinci Reds series would be HUGE. The Pirates would be three games behind the Braves, the west-division Reds would be one single game behind the Dodgers and very much in the heat of a real pennant race for the ages.

playoff bound, no matter what!
Instead, all those those teams have already locked up postseason play and are just playing out the string as they get their rotation in order for the playoffs, be it as one of three division leaders or one of two different wild-cards.

The Cubs could be spoilers against the rival Cardinals this weekend, instead of also playing out the string against a StLouis team that has already printed playoff tickets.
Dem Bums can take it easy this weekend

The Colorado Rockies face the Dodgers, the LA team would be fighting to keep their slim division lead in dramatic style.

Ditto for the Phillies-Braves matchup, the Phillies could have tried to push Atlanta into a tie with the Cardinals at the end of the year.

There might not be a clincher in the NL until the last day of the season, even a chance of a one game playoff between the Braves and Cardinals. Game 163 is one of the rarest and most defining games an organization can play in, the winner comes away as the best team in their division and advance to try to lay claim to a world championship.

How big would that Tigers final series be, facing a last place team they need to sweep if they have any hope of playing in the postseason. Instead the trip to Miami is the final road series to rest the Detroit regulars and test out Peralta returning from his Biogenesis suspension just in time to be added to the postseason roster.

Baltimore would still be hosting the Division leading RedSox this weekend, but an Oriole sweep along with a Tigers sweep would mean the RedSox would have to face the Tigers in game 163 as a one game playoff with the winner advancing to the postseason.

Instead of that, the games this weekend mean nothing. The games in this discussion are real, those are the matchups for the final weekend and if there were only two divisions we would all be singing the praises of the schedule maker for helping spark such amazing drama so late in the season.

Chief Wahoo wants in!
They are meaningless to both sides, the scene set for greatness has been dismantled and scripted under the guise of postseason wildcard playoffs. There will be no game 163 in either league, certainly not both leagues, this year. A majority of baseball fans surveyed say they like the wild-card system, but I think they have simply bought the processed drama-substitute instead of the real thing.

The only games of interest this weekend are the final wild card spot, either Cleveland or Texas.

Neither face bitter rivals or tough opponents, and the games are just a matter of figuring out who is the eighth best team in baseball. To me, that is just not as exciting as watching top teams fight to keep their postseason hopes alive.

edit - sept30 1am
So there will be a game 163, between the Rays and Rangers, to determine that 8th best team. It took a combination of teams backing their way into the playoffs, but somehow it still doesnt seem as cool as the potential that existed should there have been no Selig-designed wildcards.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Big Start to Offseason 2013

An understatement to say big start, as having the parent club is a rare treat. Also the promotion of Enny Romero to Tampa after an 18 inning marathon is a cool way to send off the Biscuits.


Next year it looks like we will get two bobbleheads or figurines, Im gonna guess they are to commemorate both our No-Hitters, Matt Moore and Victor Mateo. I know there has already been a Matt Moore giveaway, but it wasn't attached to the Biscuits history and looked as much like Bobs Big Boy than anyone in the Rays rotation.

A FIRST! ...Sort Of

The Biscuits hosting the Rays is a great game to have, but the press release by the Biscuits is true in wording only - they give the impression that a major league team has never played in Montgomery. We know that it happens often here in the Capitol City, though not expressly to play their own affiliate. Many times past teams have come here to face other big league teams, to train or play a variety of exhibition games.

Box score Rebels vs Dodgers, 1948

Classic Dodgers Meet Classic Montgomery. 

In 1948 the Dodgers came to town, meeting with the players on the Air Force base teams. Later that day, they took on the Rebels.

Rebels Pitcher Joe Demoran

Walter Alston addressing the team in Montgomery and yes, i stole the photo
However, as Montgomery tried to resist integration, teams soon stayed away from the controversy. The fans did the same and attendance fell off in Montgomery and other southern cities and although the Rebs finally accepted the change - see entry titled The Day Baseball Changed in Montgomery - the damage was done.

 Not only in Montgomery, but all across the south where once MLB teams barnstormed their way north on trains, big league teams now took chartered aircraft and bypassed exhibitions south of the Mason-Dixon line. This was pretty much the standard until the late 60s and early 70s, when teams started building new partnerships with their affiliates to develop the minor league game into an entertainment enterprise.

Only then did teams start to look at building the fan base by taking on their affiliates again.

During the 1970's the Atlanta Braves would often host the Southern League AllStars in an exhibition game held during the AllStar Break.... in Atlanta. Nothing like having your allstar game in a city that doesnt have a team in the league! 


It sounds like there WILL be a World Series viewing party at Riverwalk, same as last year. It was a rousing success even though the Rays weren't in the postseason last year. If they make the playoffs it would surely lock in the party plans!

Its officially for Season Ticketholders, but I think the team would do well to turn it into an open promotion for all fans while still providing treats for the Season Ticket folks. Maybe charge $1 to non-season ticket holders and give the money to charity... What do you think, Biscuits?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Boss Schmidt Bears Down

My new fave old tymer - Charles "Boss" Schmidt

I got a couple old postcards of 1907 Detroit Tigers players, one of them is Charley Schmidt.

I didn't know who he was so I looked him up and was instantly taken by the colorful stories around the guy. He was the main cog in the three man platoon of players the Tigers employed at catcher during their dominant days of the first decade of the 1900s. The Tigers were defeated in the 1907 and 1908 World Series by the Chicago Cubs.

Charley Schmidt made the final out in both series, the only man to make the final out in two different world series. And he did it in consecutive years. But while that may be Schmidt's only entry into the record books, its not the only bizarre mark he left on the game.

The Deadball-era Tigers are known mostly for Ty Cobb, who was perhaps the most hated and feared man in baseball at the time and for as much as a century afterwards. The feisty Georgia Peach fit right in with the colorful characters who populate the Detroit roster around 1907. And when I say "colorful" I mean "abnormal and/or insane".

Jennings giving signs
The team is led by manager Hughie "Eeh-yah" Jennings, known for his unusual habit of yelling "Eeeyaghh!" from the 3b coaches box as he gave the batter signs. The signal could be the raised foot, could be that he was standing on the line, could be if there was a pause or an accent in the yell.

Jennings turned a blind eye to the team's hazing of rookies, including young Tyrus Cobb, who had his shoes nailed to the clubhouse floor in just one of many instances of the older players welcoming him.

Jennings was well known for his insanity, often used to distract opposing pitchers in the form of whoops and whistles and yells.

He once dove headfirst into a swimming pool, not knowing it was empty and fractured his skull. It was one of at least four skull fractures and concussions incurred during his lifetime. Hughie would leave MLB after a nervous breakdown in 1925, and pass away just three years later. But in 1907 he was at his height, coaching the Tigers to three straight American League pennants, though he would lose twice to the Cubs and once to the Pirates.

Other nuts residing in the clubhouse include 1b Claude Rossman, who is a capable defender in every way except one - it gets around the league that he will freeze if he is holding the ball in a stressful situation.

Pretty soon every runner at first takes a big lead to draw a throw from the pitcher, when the toss comes to chase the runner back the baserunner could advance to second base as Rossman would freeze up when he got the ball.

Rossman would pass away at an insane asylum as he dealt with mental issues.

Red Downs
Red Downs was a Tiger infielder who would later do time for robbing a jewelry store at The Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. He claimed that liqour had robbed him three times, once of his MLB playing, once for costing him place in the Pacific Coast league and a third time for getting him involved in armed robbery.

He split time with the (in)famous Germany Schaefer at second base.

Germany Schaefer is a pioneer of baseball clowning and is known more for his antics than his play, though he was the first man to steal first base and caused a rule to be created prohibiting it.

He would come to bat wearing a false mustache, eat popcorn while coaching third base and show up at court to defend the drunks arrested the previous night (he got them off scot free).

Germany Schaefer was the first to play in an overcoat and galoshes when it was raining to convince umps to call a game. He may have invented play by play announcing while narrating his own game winning home run as he ran the bases. During WW1 he changed his name to "Liberty" Schaefer, as the country took to renaming german things (sour kraut became liberty cabbage, etc).

Basically, he fit right in with this team!

SS O'Leary
Charley O'Leary was the Shortstop, and along with fellow Chicagoan/best friend and part-time vaudeville partner Schaefer, was the inspiration for two musicals, including the film "Take me out to the Ball Game" with Gene Kelley and Frank Sinatra.

At almost 59 he became the oldest player to appear in a major league game, the oldest to score a run and get a hit.


Third Baseman Bill Coughlin holds the record for successful Hidden Ball Tricks, with seven. He even got one in the World Series, the only time its been done successfully!

Third catcher Jimmy Archer was a defensive gem, able to gun down baserunners while staying in his catching squat - a la Benito Santiago. Archers incredible arm strength was due to his muscles being shortened when, at the age of 19, Jimmy fell into a vat of boiling sap in an industrial accident, which wasn't considered unusual at all back in the day.

No, not that guy!
Outfielder Davy Jones was normal in spite of sharing a name with the pirate ruler under the oceans, a future Monkee and Ziggy Stardust. He didn't appear to have any arrests, breakdowns, insanity or clowning on his resume'. Just that name, which is enough.

With Ty Cobb in center and Wahoo Sam Crawford known as the best hitter in the league already entrenched in the lineup, Jones is forced to split time in the outfield with veteran Matty McIntyre.
Matty McIntyre (1905).jpg
Matt McIntyre

McIntyre, who had a rookie Ty Cobb cut in front of him and cause Matty to drop a ball knew how to hold a grudge. The play made McIntyre look bad and he took exception to the incident and started a hazing campaign against the future hit king.

This hazing continued for years, and was egged on by other players on the team - which brings us to Charley Schmidt.

Schmidt was one of those who teased Cobb, flicked food at him and called him names until Cobb finally snapped and offered to fight any or all who would take him on.

Jack Johnson
Schmidt stepped up to accept the challenge and after the dust settled Tyrus was out cold on the floor. Charley wasn't worried, he had fought tougher than the Georgia Peach - in fact Schmidt had sparred with heavyweight champ Jack Johnson.

Charley Schmidt came from the coal mines of Arkansas. He spent a couple seasons in the minors but soon joined Detroit and by 1907 had spent three seasons in the bigs. He was probably happy to pass along the hazing he had been thru to the rookie from the south.

After a second dustup Cobb was again knocked out but won Schmidt's respect, and after Charley helped revive him, the two formed a life long friendship.

Charley Schmidt
Charley Schmidt would appear in several notable Cobb moments, including a fight in Philadelphia that involved Ty beating up a black groundskeeper who tried to shake his hand and then the groundskeepers wife.

Charley jumped in and broke it up by knocking Cobb out and dragging him off before he could be arrested. It would cause legal trouble for Cobb and the Detroit team, and force the Tigers to schedule extra travel to avoid seeing Tyrus arrested in the state of Pennsylvania.

At this point, you are probly thinkin what I was, that Charley is a brawler of the bare-knuckled variety. But then I found a couple more interesting notes to consider, I found him a cut above the usual barroom fighter that hung around with Billy Martin.

Charley was called Boss, in part for his ability to drive a nail into the floor with his bare fists.

Boss Schmidt didn't wear shinguards when he caught during games. He didn't think they were "manly".

On a team trip to the Circus the players took in a sideshow - patrons were offered $500 if they could last two minutes in a boxing ring with a bear. Boss Schmidt PINNED the bear!

WTF?!  How does a guy PIN A BEAR?
many have wrestled, few have won

Okay, Schmidt, you are officially the toughest man in baseball history. Some guys can put a nail in the floor, some guys can fight with fists, but pin a bear to the floor in two minutes? You are the Boss!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rays Biscuits Confirmed

As I reported on August 30th, an exhibition game between the hometown Montgomery Biscuits and the parent club, the Tampa Bay Rays will take place in March. The story is being reported by local station WNCFtv, who say the announcement will be made official on Tuesday. Also about to be reported by WSFA, so it must be true haha

Its nice they waited until after the Southern league playoffs, unlike Pensacola who announced an exhibition against the Cincinnati Reds before the start of the 2014 season. League officials usually prefer to keep the focus on the field during the postseason, and frown on such announcements - although they arent forbidden it likely doesn't win friends in the SL main office.

Details to come tomorrow, cant wait to find out if they announce anything other than the date. Will we learn of an extended PDC? Will we hear who is expected, 40 man roster or split squad? What is the price of the seats? Probly going to be an expensive ticket, but one Biscuits fans can't afford to miss!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Offseason Begins

Even Ted had hobbies
I know I am a baseball fan, a bit of an oddity in the area in that has college football as its predominant religion. And while talking to Biscuit players after the final home game, even they asked me what I would do without baseball....

 こんにちはオフシーズン means Konichiwa, Offseason!
Postseason blues dont kick in until after the World Series, though thanks to the internet we can now find enough of the game to avoid the withdrawls of the pre-digital age. Japanese leagues chug along at the same pace as MLB, and then have winter series against other Asian teams. The winter leagues pick up in November in the southern hemisphere and a variety of professional leagues across the country.

Its also a time for me to corral all the fun stuff I picked up at the games over the summer. Its a fun thing to collect, though not something I would have guessed would become my thing. Ive always managed to meet players and have stuff signed from it, but I didn't consider it a collection - more its a keepsake from having a good time.

 I decided to take it a little more seriously when watching Joey Votto and Prince Fielder break into the big leagues with success. I realized I probably should have gotten them to sign a baseball when they were here, just arms length from my seat near the visitors dugout. At that point I started giving a little more effort into scooping up foul balls to have signed.
Got Skywalker last year, just made his mlb debut!

In the first season I won a contest for seats in the Owners Box and a team signed baseball. It became an annual thing to get all the players to sign a baseball during Meet the Team and Autograph day events.

Its never lucrative, but always fun!

So far the BayBears have chugged easily thru the season and now into the postseason. If they should coast to another title it would be three in a row, the first team to equal the Montgomery Rebels three-peat of the 1970's.

If they do, it will lend credence to the old adage "nice guy finish last" as they are pretty much one of the top teams in the Jerk category. While Jacksonville leads the league in that stat, the Mobile team has never worked to build a fan-friendly image. Its probably why the Mobile ballpark is designed to keep the fans as far away from the team as possible.

The team plans to re-sod the field, infield and outfield, during the offseason. This is likely due to the impending announcement of the Rays-Biscuits exhibition game to take place in the spring. Updating the field was done with an eye towards the same type of match when Durham took on the parent club.

Promotional schedules come out in January or February. The season calendar has already been released by the league, though the Biscuits haven't yet released their own version.

I hope they confirm the big game vs the Rays soon, it will take the sting out of finishing in last place - from first to worst in just twelve months. The low finishes really do take their toll at the gate as fans say "oh them, arent they always in last place?" Nobody comes out to watch bad baseball, and regardless of how the totals are counted last place teams wont draw fans.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Season In Review

A tale of a season, though not a good season, with extra butter and syrup.

In April the Biscuits were fresh and the spring air filled with the scent of hope.
First workout at home
13-12 in our first twenty five games, and we would feel okay with it. We hosted Birmingham, Mobile and Birmingham a second time. We had our first rain out on the road, then split the doubleheader.

we woke up with Andrew Bellatti
Nine days into the season, Zach Quate hit the DL for our first roster move of the year, and Albert Suarez joined him the next day. Andrew Belatti arrived on the 14th of April, and on the 15th Jim Patterson was put on the Disabled List.

On the 19th of April the Biscuits hitters exploded for a dozen runs in the seventh inning of a home game against Mobile, setting a new team record for hits and runs in a single inning.

We were two pitchers short until the 20th, when we were assigned Matt Nevarez. Kyeong Kang arrived on April 26th, as Brett Nommensen was taken off the roster to rehab his injury.
It was a month of injury and barely .500 play, we were left without a full squad of pitchers but the bullpen was spectacular late in games. Riefenhauser got the closers job and didnt give it up.

Vs the Generals, of course!
In May we were again hosed by the schedule maker, traditionally our best weather month we only had two home series! We saw the Skitz host the Braves and the Generals, losing both series, including a 19-2 shellacking from the MsBraves in game one.
JR Graham pitched for the Braves
Quate and Greg Sexton were released on the 16th, Steve Tinoco and Keith Castillo replacing them on the roster. Nevarez hit the DL on the 23rd and Juan Sandoval was sent to Durham just before the end of the month.

In May we had a foreshadowing moment, during an at bat by Mark Thomas the field sprinkler system started up, soaking everyone and causing a delay. Later the team would endure a constant string of rain delays and rain outs, both at home and on the road. Thomas would have his season interrupted later in the summer, but here he had just lifted a single to right field when.....

15 wins and 14 losses kept us afloat in the standings through the end of the month, including series wins on the road against tough teams in Bham and the Braves, but we were living on borrowed time.

On the roster, Jake Floethe was replacing Matt Buschmann in the rotation on the last day of May.

Buschmann in road grays


We played host to Pensacola and Huntsville, two of the worst teams in the league, and played .500 against them. Jim Paduch was added to the roster on the same day as the Biscuits grabbed Eric Hamren from the Braves. Mike Colla arrived as Bellatti was optioned back to single-A.

Merrill Kelly
 We went to Jacksonville, won the road series as the first half of the season ended and came back to face Pensacola again - this time losing three of the five games to the last place Wahoos!

At this point Merrill Kelly got a ticket to Durham and the Biscuits rotation would not compete in the division again.

Welcome to the team!
O'Malley hit the DL on the 20t and Reliever Jim Patterson was sent to Charlotte on the 21st. Replacing them Montgomery received Hector Guevara, who was heartily beaned in his first game.

Patterson returned on the 28th from his demotion to the StoneCrabs. Reifenhouser was summoned to Durham and Sandoval returned in his place.

We took a series in Chattanooga and came back home to face the Tn Smokies as the calendar flipped to July.


In July the Biscuits swooned, winning just 11 and dropping 16. Riverwalk hosted the Smokies, the Wahoos again, and Jacksonville. The Skitz lost three of five in the first two home series, but won the "Rain Turtle Series" against Jacksonville, playing back to back days of doubleheaders.
Rain Turtle over Montgomery
The AllStar game for the league took place in Jacksonville, Cameron Seitzer won the home run derby with four homers, two in each round. Amazing as he had only one homer during the regular season up to that point!
Seitzer takes a break from hitting bombs

Riccio Torrez broke his hand, ending a nice season at third base, and O'Malley was activated to replace him.

Mark Thomas
The road trips were all M's, twice to Mobile and once to Miss Braves, with us losing each of the series three games to two. At the end of the trip to Mobile, on July 23rd, we learned of Mark Thomas suspension for fifty games.

The following day Kevin Kiermaier was ticketed to Durham and the Biscuits added Curtis Casali to the active roster.


How quickly the summer passed, as August dawned it was easy for Biscuits to see that this was not the year for them. The wins and losses mattered a little less in the last month, fifteen victories to fourteen defeats, but a pair of contests loom large among the many over the past ten years.

The Victor Mateo no hitter was a first for Riverwalk and for many fans it was the highlight of the season. It completed the turnaround for Mateo, a first half to forget became a second half to remember.
Mateo awaits his chance to close out the no hitter

Almost as rare as a no hitter was the fact that it was supported by a Cameron Seitzer home run at Riverwalk! Skip ahead to 1:10 if you dont care to see the full at bat....

Also to be counted among the greatest games played in Montgomery history perhaps, was the final home game of the year. The tilt against the Jville Suns was as intense and hard fought as any Biscuits team has ever been involved in, and will not soon be forgotten by baseball fans in the capitol city, who enjoyed whipping the Suns in an effort to spoil their playoff hopes.
Dietrich turned everyone against him, even Monty!

Delmon Young's Biscuit return
 It was a rough season for Biscuits fans, but rewards in the form of a no hitter, Delmon Young's return and the final victory over rival Jacksonville are sweet relief from the last place standing in 2013.

More often than not the team was down at least one player, often we had to wait for days to get replacements who were often less effective than the players they were there to fill in for.

We had some very good moments in spite of the forgettable record, but hopefully next years Biscuits have a little more of what the fans look for - Victories!