Monday, May 16, 2016

Skitz on the Road vs JVL

The ten game homestand went well, the Skitz taking both series and making up ground in the standings and playing well.

At this moment, the league is divided into two teams, those with twenty wins or more and those with twenty or more losses. Teams with 20+ wins should be considered contenders and the others are probably just pretenders.

Montgomery is currently just a game behind Jackson and has made a habit of only losing on days the Generals decide to lose as well, a trend that is sure to come to a grinding halt when Jackson arrives at Riverwalk for a huge SIX game set starting May 25th.

However even if the Biscuits sweep the Generals there is no guarantee that seals the division, the Skitz have to run the gauntlet of South Division powerhouses in back to back series. Hosting Biloxi then on the road at P'cola could be the ten games that decide the first half champs in both divisions.

The first half closes out with Montgomery hosting the Chattanooga Lookouts, who took three of five games from the Skitz in April. If the Biscuits want to seal the first half title for the first time in franchise history, it will not be an easy path.

Instead of looking ahead, the Biscuits play each game one at a time.
Roght now they are one day at a time-ing in Jacksonville, the Suns having the worst record in the league. Of course that means they beat the Biscuits in game one and it looks to be a tough series.

The bullpen got a new arm, Kyle Bird arrived and got into one game vs the Smokies. Bird will fit into the Biscuits bullpen easily, as the roster was two men short after the promotions of Markel and Kolarek. Kyle looked great in his first outing and could share closer duties with Brad Schrieber and Jeff Ames or work in short relief.
pitcher Kyle Bird

 In 11 games at Port Charlotte Kyle Bird had a nice 0.50 ERA, tossing 18 innings and striking out 22 while allowing just 12 baserunners.

Fans and staff still expect the Biscuits to have extended netting next year, resulting in rampant rumors though no one can confirm it. I was told at the start of the season that unless the wording changed, we would see the same netting in place that we have always had.

Any change in that wording would likely have to be a publicly announced league-wide policy directive, hopefully not anywhere near happening at Biscuits games.

Former Rebel and Detroit Tiger John T. Young passed away this month, as noted by a commentor. He is also the founder of RBI, Reviving Baseball in InnerCities, and was a fantastic man to meet and talk to. I had that pleasure a few seasons ago when the Biscuits held their "Montgomery Baseball History" night - which was a rain out.

Sadly it also means that both the former Rebels at that event are no longer with us, Buddy Lively having passed away last July.

A fave story of Young's Rebels days happened during a doubleheader against Mobile - John scored the second games only run by walking, stealing second and scoring when the catcher overthrew second and the centerfielder uncorked a wild throw of his own. The win pushed Montgomery into first place.

John Young was a big man with an even larger smile and a beautiful family. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to meet him and hear a few of his memories about playing for Montgomery.

The numbers are excellent for the big first baseman, 31 Hrs, 150 RBI, 44 stolen bases in John Young's three seasons for Montgomery in 1970, '71 and '75.

The Smokies were kinda surly and got rewarded for it with four losses at the hands of the Biscuits.

I get that there are Cubs fans everywhere, but it is usually easier to be nice than it is to not. Its a trend the Smokies players have shown for a few years now, since Theo took over. Perhaps its just me, but that team has a larger percentage of those guys who don't want to sign an autograph, smile at a joke or toss a ball into the stands at the end of an inning.

I grew up watching the Cubs and have been a fan a long time. If my early impressions were from seeing the Smokies, I can say I would probably not be nearly as much of a Cubs fan. A couple of the guys were nice, so its not an organization mandate, so come on Smokies, lighten up!

Saturday I had a chance to partake in MLB's umpire camp at Riverwalk Stadium. A free event, it gave local hopefuls and baseball fans a chance to learn about the art of umpiring. I enjoyed it completely and picked up a few great tips on watching the arbiters of the game honing their craft at Riverwalk.

Before the event I asked Southern League umpire Brennan Miller if he had any advice for a rookie headed to UmpCamp. "Its okay to make a mistake" was his advice and wise words they are. I reminded myself of that advice as I butchered footwork around the infield.

Ex-MLB Umpire Rich Rieker was showing us how to call fair or foul balls and when my turn as home plate ump came he rolled a ball across the infield. It bounced slowly across the chalk line into foul territory and was just barely creeping along when I raised my arms and called "Foul!". Rieker said I called it too soon, it was still in motion and hadn't been touched by a defender.

"So you think that one was gonna come back?" I asked the ten year MLB veteran, smiling at the chance to challenge the authority. He said you never know what the wind will do, but I could tell he agreed there was no way it could have turned ninety degrees and roll fifteen feet to the line.

Got my picture in the paper doing it too, not a bad day!

Lots more to cover, look for a mid-week post since the team is away on a ten game roadtrip.

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