Monday, July 27, 2015

Biscuits Welcomed in Tennessee, Bud Lively Passes


Indeed the Biscuits did feel welcome
The Biscuit bus returns from its road trip north, and a good trip it was.

A split two-game series in Chattanooga and taking four out of five against the Generals makes for a five win and two loss week. Even the two losses required late-inning comebacks by the opposition, it could easily have been an undefeated trip as the Biscuits look like one of the most dominant teams in the league both at home and on the road.

The road trip was a little longer than the usual, and a two game series to make up for the weird scheduling around July 4th, followed by the usual five-game set results in the pitching staff getting shuffled.

The first pitcher in the rotation no longer will be tossing the first game of the series. Where Jacob Faria was starting game one, when the next series opens at Riverwalk it will be the #3 man in the rotation - probably Kirsch or new starter Taylor Guerrieri.


TAYLOR G.
Taylor G
Guerrieri, the Rays first round draft choice in 2011, comes to the Biscuits after a half season in Charlotte that saw him go 2w-2L with a 2.14 ERA in ten starts.

The numbers are very good but the pitching prospect from Savannah GA has had trouble getting deep into games - just once this season completing five innings in a start.

Likely Taylor will be on a strict pitch count a la Grayson Garvin, with a reliever assigned to piggyback the extra innings. Having a talented starter can be a bonus, but it could also be a strain on the bullpen to have to cover for a guy who can't go five full innings.


GRAPE JELLY SAGA CONTINUES

The Smokies return yet again, for another installment in the 2015 Grape Jelly Series. This is the third and final appearance at Riverwalk for the Smokies this year. The Skitz do get one more round at Smokies Park, but won't be hosting them again this year.

The Biscuits mauled the babybears last time, sweeping the Cubs affiliate in all five contests, and simply out-playing them in every aspect of the game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR



Almora Jr.
Look for the Smokies to try to save face. After dropping all five in the last visit to the capitol city, Buddy Bailey will be pulling all the strings he can find to get his team into the win category.

Look for Albert Almora. The star outfielder returns from the Pan Am Games and must step into the leadership role for the Smokies. 

Joel Pineyro
Look for Smokies pitchers to work harder - after the last time out against the Biscuits the Smokies starters were handed losses aplenty. They have struggled to win games on the road.

Look for the Smokies to take their base - Tennessee leads the league in bases on balls.

Look for the Biscuits to score runs in bunches, Montgomery leads the league in Runs score, Home Runs and RBI's. Nine times this month the biscuits have scored six runs or more.

Mortensen
Look for Taylor Guerrieri to make his first Biscuits start, possibly on Tuesday.

Look for Jared Mortensen to make his first home start since June 13th. The Canadian Pan Am Games gold-medalist made four appearances out of the bullpen before returning to the starting rotation last week.

Reginatto
Look for Leonardo Reginatto to continue his clutch hitting. The Brazilian infielder has a talent for hitting the ball on the ground to the left side of the infield and using his good speed to leg out base hits.




SCHEDULE KINDNESS

The Biscuits have the advantage of the calendar, the league decrees that we host the two last place teams in August - the Generals and the Jacksonvile Suns.

The Biscuits trail the North Division leading Barons and control their own destiny by facing the Slagtown Barons twice in the last few weeks of the year, including the season finale at Riverwalk.



BUD LIVELY 

On July 12th of this year, former Montgomery Rebels pitcher Buddy Lively shuffled off this mortal coil.

The Birmingham native played three seasons in the major leagues, from 1947-49 with the Cincinnati Reds.

I was privileged to meet him almost exactly two years ago. Below is what I wrote about that meeting on a rainy summer afternoon at the ballpark.





BISCUITS RAINED OUT.... AGAIN
BUT THE STORY WASN'T ON THE FIELD

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.

Cramton Bowl 1942, Home of the Rebels
"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 Lively with Cincinnati Reds
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.
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 didn't remember the details himself but implied that Jack sure did, in a way that only a family member who has sat through countless retelling 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.

No comments: