Saturday, August 9, 2008

Every 5TH Day: Pitching 101 by Greg Maddux- Win #353

Even though the VBL season has come and gone, I still have every fifth day to watch the Professor pitch. After going through 14 straight starts (Longest of his career) without a victory, Greg has won two straight starts to move within 2 of tying Roger Clemens at 354!

The starting time in Denver (Coors Field) was 8:05 PM EST. The game started out very typical in that thru five innings Greg had a line of 1 Run / 2 hits allowed. The bad part was the score was tied 1-1. Then the Friars offense broke open and sent 9 men to the dish. The net was 5 runs with the fifth run coming in to score when my 42 year old hero beat out a bunt single!

The lead is now 6-1 San Diego heading into the top of the 7TH after Maddux just started a 1-4-6-3 double play by deflecting a ball headed thru the box over to the second baseman. 67 pitches/45 strikes so far and I think he will head back out for the bottom of 7TH. Nine outs away from win #353!

I will begin my park/team by park/team recap after the Sunday papers are put out...

Did I mention that 7 times this season Maddux gave the ball back to skipper Bud Black while still in line for a "W" only to end up with a no-decision. This time I felt safe but when Black went to get the ball from Greg (Greg had allowed back-to-back singles to start the 7TH), the lead was 5 runs. The first two batters to face the Padres pen both walked to make it 6-2 with the bases loaded with no out... Please make it stop!

Good News- the 7TH inning did stop and a 2-run Homer pushed the lead up to 8-2. This time the threat happened in the bottom of the ninth inning. Colorodo scored to make it 8-3 and then the loaded the bases with nobody out. Black went out and got All-Time Saves leader Trevor Hoffman out of the pen. One strike out and then one line drive double play later- Maddux has #353 in the books. Three straight wins after 14 non winning starts (9-no decisions, 5-losses) equals going after tying Roger Clemens in his next start.

The next start will be Thursday or Friday out in San Diego with the question being how the staff works around a scheduled day off on Monday. Congrats to Mr. Maddux!!!

All-Time MLB Victories:

1. Cy Young 511
2.Walter Johnson 417
3.Grover Alexander 373
- Christy Mathewson 373
5.Pud Galvin 364

6.Warren Spahn 363
7.Kid Nichols 361
8.Roger Clemens 354
9.Greg Maddux 353* (Active) 21 wins shy of #3, 12 shy of #5
10.Tim Keefe 342

Friday, August 8, 2008

VBL announces the 2008 League Awards

You can read the entire press release by heading over to www.valleyleaguebaseball.com.

Manager of the Year (Mo Weber Award)... Lawrence Nesselrodt (Waynesboro)
Player of the Year... Tyler Townsend (Winchester/ Flordia International)
Regular Season ERA Leader... Adam Liberatore (Waynesboro/ Tenn. Tech)
Championship MVP... Ryan Schimpf (Luray / LSU)
Regular Season Batting Champ... Tyler Townsend (Winchester/ Florida International) .387
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15 Players were voted to the 1ST team All-VBL and due to a tie 16 players were named to the 2ND team. 31 Players made the list and the Press release from Kevin at the VBL office gives a complete breakdown of both squads...
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The 3 starting pitchers named to the 1ST team are Travis Smink (Luray/VMI), Lance Baxter (Staunton/ South Alabama)) and Liberatore (Waynesboro/ Tenn. Tech). They were joined by relievers Shawn Griffith (Fauquier/ George Mason) and Tyler Thornburg (Winchester/ Charleston Southern).
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The 10 posistion players named to the 1ST team were:
1B- Blake McDade (Staunton) (Middle Tenn. State
2B- Brandon Sizemore (Waynesboro) (C of C)
SS- Gabriel Saade (Waynesboro) (Duke)
3B- Mickey Wiswall (Winchester) (Boston College)
C- Marcus Nidiffer (Covington ) (Kentucky )
DH- Tyler Townsend (Winchester) (Florida International)
UT- Michael Precise (Harrisonburg) (Troy)
OF- Jeff Jefferson (Luray) (Liberty U.)
OF- Drew Johnson (Harrisonburg) (San Francisco)
OF- Max Most (Staunton) (Old Dominion)
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The 10 position players named to the 2ND team were:

1B- Mike Marshall (Woodstock) (Stanford)
2B- Rico Noel (Covington) (Coastal Carolina )
SS- Adam McClain (Luray) (Memphis)
3B- Evan Webb (Waynesboro) (Tenn. Tech)
C- Bryan Izzo (Staunton) (Lincoln Memorial)
DH- Jeremy Cruz (Luray) (Stetson)
UT- Jesse Henry (Front Royal) (Shenanadoah)
OF- Kevin Dietrich (New Market) (UNC-Pembroke)
OF-Ryan Gauck (Fauquier) (Marist)
OF- Joe Agreste (Winchester) (West Virginia)
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The All-Second Team pitching staff:
SP- Andy Altemus (Waynesboro) (Potomac State)
SP-Tucker Prior (Front Royal ) (North Florida)
SP-Drew Rucinski (Luray) (Ohio State)
SP- Taylor Hill (Winchester) (Vanderbilt)
RP-Jon Luke Jacobs (Fauquier) (Auburn)
RP-Daniel Gentzler (New Market) (Maryland)
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I am sure that John Leonard will post the same info and there will be some lively banter at All Things Valley League. I welcome you to head over there and share your thoughts with the debaters but for now I would like to say Congrats to all 31 VBL players named to the post season awards team!!!

It is Time to Defend Winning the Game !

Some of the bigger lessons I have learned this past summer are tied directly to just how much emotion, passion and comparison that is involved in the VBL. On different occasions in many a different conversations I have found myself defending numerous people and ideas.

When the topic is sponsors/ bottom line profit, I am the first to defend the efforts of Kay & Boyd Snyder of the Staunton Braves. I hear a great deal of "it must be nice to have that many sponsors/ it must be nice to have that much money coming in, etc... My answer to this is always the same- It is UN-believable how hard Kay has to work her town and the local shop owners to keep her operation where it needs to be. It's not like people drive by her park and toss big bags of money at the gate. Sometimes it is easier to try and dis-credit success than it is to try and duplicate it...

When it came to the topic of how many Loopsters would cross the finish line I heard more than a few times someone say- Well, of course Teresa and Bob (Harrisonburg) had the highest number because they had the shortest distance for their fans to drive. Again- Why not applaud the efforts and check and see some of the fun they had versus just trying to take away from anothers success?

I spent a fair amount of my summer trying to spread the word that the VBL team ownership group were full of hard working everyday folks. There was a story behind each group and when I would spend time in their parks with them, I would always leave feeling like I had a better understanding of that organization.

I tended to give the benefit of doubt and was quick to defend 10 of the 11 teams on a regular basis. Now it might be time to defend the 11TH... The Luray Wranglers...

Why not defend the Wranglers as the summer went on? It is always easier to defend others than it is to defend yourself. On many occasion I have thanked Bill & Joni Turner for the opportunity to own a fraction of their families ball club. There were two reasons for this and the first one is simple- Doesn't everyone who played the game think they want to own part of a team. Look at the list of great that went from playing at a Hall of Fame Level to owning part of a minor league team (Cal Ripken and Nolan Ryan).

The second reason was I wanted to get to see the behind the camera version of the Valley Baseball League. I wanted to sit in the owners meetings and try and further my knowledge of what all goes into the makings of a Summer season. As I ponder the future connection that I have with the VBL- one thing I know for sure is it- IT WILL NOT INVOLVE OWNERSHIP!

As kind as Bill was to let me in, he was just as kind to let me out. I thought owning a small part of the local nine would be, well, kinda fun. Incorrect answer, at least for me. Every move or decision you make has actions and reactions to it. I need to leave that kind of thinking to people more suited for it. With that said, let's get back to the subject of winning.

When I first became involved in the VBL I thought it was a developmental league of sorts. The place where you send your #4 starter to get more work or maybe your #2 starter to recover from surgery. The short stop that needs a chance to play more than he did during the school year. Once again- I quickly learned that was not the case!

Each of the 11 teams are trying to win every night they take the field. Some are just more successful than others at it. The same way that I will be quick to point out that folks don't ride by Gypsy Hill Park and toss money out at the Braves and that the Turks still had to plan out their trips and drive their cars to the parks--- This just in- College coaches don't just load up their vans and drive to Bulldog Field and dump out the likes of Travis Smink, Ryan Schimpf and Jeff Jefferson. I know that I could of inserted Alex Wimmers, Rucinski and you get the point.

Bill Turner and Company have a population of roughly 5,000 (with modest incomes) to pull from and the next town in every direction has a team as well. The Wranglers best chance to be successful as a franchise is put the best possible team on the field all 44 games and then into the post season. The fact that it has worked for three years running (to be playing on the final day) is a testament to how hard the group works to assemble their team!

My job this season at Bulldog Field has been to try and entertain the folks from both the home side and the visitors side by talking my way through the night. I have had a number of people tell me I have succeeded but just as many confuse caring with arrogance. That is the same battle I feel the Wranglers face around the VBL- please don't mistake success with arrogance.

Our little town is smaller and the organization has to work a bit harder than most to make things work each summer. Five of the other 11 teams/organizations have at least twice the number of fans and businesses to pull from. Speaking of little towns, the support group that stands behind the New Market Rebels is simply amazing. I understand why Stu Richardson is trying so hard to move forward with VBL sponsorship as he too has a small area to pull from and has competition in almost every direction.

There is a number of things I would like to see the VBL do to become more fan friendly across the board but until that happens I would like to focus on what everybody does well in their own part of the league/Valley. For right now, it is time to give the Wrangler organization their day in the sun!

It is a long list of jobs/hats to deceide what to do with during the off-season but I've got one scratched off the list... Ownership-No fun, Being supportive of your home town team-Fun.
Thanks again to the Turner Family and Congrats to their organization!
While the ending ceremony was going on, I took the liberty of snagging this video of the introduction of each of the Luray Wranglers for the last time this season. Enjoy it! Soon enough I'm going to start working on an ending tribute to the summer...

John Leonard has a great conversation going on about the UN-offical Cy Young award..Check it out

For the die-hard baseball fans should jump over to http://allthingsvalleyleague.typepad.com and voice your opinion...

Page News and Courier working on a wrap-up story on ATV-60...

When we first were ready to break the story about our adventure we wanted to give the story to our local Sports Writer/ Editor Bill Meade down at the Page News and Courier. Bill actually was able to put the first words into print about ATV-60 and now he is getting ready to take a look back on this summer thru the eyes of some of the participants.

I am expecting the story to run in the next week or two and I will look forward to reading it when it comes out on that given Wednesday. It is a quick turn around for Bill as he switches gears from VBL to covering our two county high schools (Luray & Page County). Once the story is in print we will do our best to share it with those that are still checking in at the site...

Day #70- End of Week #10... A time for Thanks ! Media Outlets First

The 10TH and final week of the season is coming to a close and I believe that the only official business left for the VBL is the post season awards. The league will name a Manager of the Year (Mo Weber Award) as well as a 1ST and 2ND all VBL team. Toss in a MVP award and you are in business.

I should also add that Luray is back up to #3 in the nation in the latest poll and with the number of teams expanded from 16 to 32, Waynesboro came in at #18. There will be at least one more poll before the end of the summer.
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It will take me a number of lists to say Thank You to everyone that helped make this project a little more visible so I had better get started...

Bill Meade (Sports Editor) and Randy Arrington (Editor) of the Page News and Courier...

John Galle (Sports Editor) and Susan Thompson (Editor) of the Shenandoah Valley Herald

Chris & Crystal Graham of the magazine- THE NEW DOMINION

Kip Ritenour (Sports Editor) of the Warren County Sentinel

Shaun Cox (Sports Writer) and Hubert Grimm (Sports Editor) of the Staunton News-Leader

Mike Barber and company from the Daily News Record of Harrisonburg

Chip Crabill and Sean Youngberg (ESPN-1240) WTON- Waynesboro

Damon Dillman and Zac (TV-3) of Harrisonburg

John Leonard of All Things Valley League

Mike Schikman of WSVA 550 AM - Harrisonburg

Austin and the folks at Virginia Living Magazine

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Amazing Numbers from the 2008 Luray Wranglers season :

Team Home Runs - 68
Team Strike Outs- 515
Runs Scored------ 315
Team Wins------- 37 * All Time Wrangler Record


Individual Numbers - Travis Smink (6 Wins, 6-1)
Jeff Jefferson (59 hits)
Ryan Schimpf (11 Home Runs) * In under 30 games due to joining the team after Omaha
Adam McClain- 32 RBI's

A look at the playoff run after Harrisonburg won game 1 to push the Wranglers to the brink:

Harrisonburg 7 @ Luray 2

THEN:

Luray 8 @ Harrisonburg 1.............. Never trailed / Rucinski wins
@ Luray 4 Harrisonburg 3.............. Never trailed / Koronis win in relief

@ Luray 6 Staunton 3....................Never trailed / Koronis win as a starter
Luray 6 @ Staunton 5....................Trailed 5TH thru 9TH / Cichy wins as reliever

@ Luray 3 Covington 0.................. Never trailed / Smink wins
Luray 10 @ Covington 5.................Trailed for 1/2 inning / Rucinski wins
@ Luray 4 Covington 0................ Never trailed / Wimmers wins

7 straight wins by a combined score of 41-17 to finish out the run!
17 runs allowed over 7 games for a team average of 2.42 (Total Runs Allowed)
*** Now pull out the 7 UN-earned runs allowed and you have 10 earned runs over 7 games for an ERA of 1.42 when it counted the most


1.42 1.42 1.42 1.42 1.42 1.42 1.42 1.42 1.42
Once for Wimmers, Smink, Rucinski, Koronis ,Jordat, Yost, Owens, Boylin, Salgueiro.....WOW !

Game #3- All the makings of a Reecee's Penut Butter Cup Commercial: Wranglers sweep with 4-0 win

By: Scoop Carter
ATV Correspondent

LURAY- The conversation all season long about Luray hitting and Luray pitching simply became magnified during the Wranglers impressive three game sweep of the Covington Lumberjacks.

Game 1 went to Luray on the strength of the left arm of Travis Smink (VMI). Smink dominated the contest as the home team captured a 3-0 victory. Game 2 belonged to Ryan Schimpf (4 of 5, 5 RBI's) and the rest of the offense as 25 Wranglers touched first base during the 10-5 victory. The series headed back up to Bulldog Field for Game 3 on Tuesday and just like in the commercials from the 70's and 80's where one person walks around with peanut butter and the other is eating milk chocolate until the bump into each other.

Alex Wimmers (Ohio State) turned in a pitching performance that rivaled ANY seen in the VBL this summer and Schimpf brought back flashes of Reggie Jackson by carrying a team offensively for three nights. Wimmers pitched 7 innings of 5 hit baseball while striking out 13 Lumberjacks. Covington did threatened in the top of the first inning by loading the bases but Wimmers retired Derrick Washington on a line drive to third baseman Gus Miller.

Schimpf (LSU) made it three straight games with a home run by taking a Noah Garza offering over the fence in right center field. The shot gave Luray a 1-0 lead that Wimmers and company would make stand up. Schimpf duplicated the dinger when the second baseman hit his fourth home run of the Finals to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning.

The home run that Steve Stropp (Florida International) added in the home half of the fifth inning to make it 3-0 was one for the highlight reel. Washington (Hill College) went back on the ball hit to straight away center field and proceeded to climb the wall. One night after bringing a home run back into the park of the bat of Jeff Jefferson down in Covington, Washington once again got to the ball from Stropp. This time his momentum caused him to flip over the 8 foot fence and out of play.

Washington had the ball jarred loose during the tumble but did manage to shake off the cob webs and remain in the game until the end. Luray added another run in the bottom of the sixth the old fashioned way. Jefferson singled and swiped second base and came around to score on a single by Jeremy Cruz (Stetson) to make the score 4-0.

Wimmers returned for the seventh inning and recorded two more strike outs and strand two of the eight Lumberjacks that reached base for the game. Ty Rivers collected two of the five Jacks base hits but was stranded both times. Donald Jordat and Owen Reid followed Wimmers to the mound and completed the shut out, allowing the Wranglers to claim their 2ND Jim Lineweaver Cup in the past 3 seasons.


BOX SCORE : Wranglers 4, Lumberjacks 0

Covington.........000...000...000...0/5/1
Luray................100....111...00X...4/10/1

WP- Wimmers
LP-Garza
Save-NONE

Home Runs- Schimpf (2, 1st inning off Garza, 4Th inning off Garza), Stropp (5Th off Jordan)

SCORING SUMMARY :

Bottom First: Wranglers
-Schimpf homered to right center

Bottom Fourth: Wranglers
-Schimpf homered to right field

Bottom Fifth : Wranglers
-Stropp homered to center field

Bottom Sixth : Wranglers
- Cruz singled to left, Jefferson scored

Attendance- 735

Bill Meade and Randy Arrington burning the Midnight Oil at the Page News & Courier

I always know what night of the week it is by the number of lights on at the Page News & Courier when we toss out their copy of the Washington Post to the front door. On Tuesday night you will always see the office lights on upstairs where the editor Randy Arrington is hard at work.

The last minutes before print time is crunch time and Randy will be up there trying to finish "putting the newspaper to bed" before it is transmitted over to Harrisonburg. The newspaper is
printed over at the Daily News Record each Wednesday but not until Randy signs off on the finished product. This week that exercise took on a whole new meaning of "Deadline Pressure" as the Luray Wranglers captured their second VBL Championship in the past three seasons.

The fact that the clincher took place on a Tuesday night and then the post game ceremony lasted to well after 11:00 PM made things very interesting for both Bill & Randy. There was a story to write and pictures to match-up from the series but there was also the remainder of the Sports section to assemble around them.

Most weeks when we look up at the one light up in Randy's office you know that he is close to pushing the button but this week they were both hard at work.

"We didn't put the paper to bed until 3:00 AM," Meade said. "You get some sleep and then you are faced with only having a few days to put the next edition together."

I want to say Congrats to both Randy & Bill for their finished product that hit the streets just hours after their late night/early morning finishing time! You can check it out by going to http://www.dnronline.com/ and then scroll down the left side until you see the Page News listings or you can just Google Page News and Courier

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Pictures You've Been Waiting For: Your 2008 VBL Champions

Enjoy these photos. There are a lot of celebration shots toward the end!

Ms. Barbara Black singing the National Anthem

Great to see the bleachers so full

Game #3 Action

Alex Wimmers (Ohio State University)

Bulldog Field was the place to be

Ryan Carroll (L) and Seth McGuffin (R) doing the web cast

The Jacks getting losse between innings

Check out the hustle

Ryan Schimpf at the dish

Ryan rounding third base after his 3RD dinger of the finals

After his 4TH finals HR came later his mates were asking is that all you can do?

Smiling faces were abound as the Wranglers closed in on the Crown

Haymarket Joe was down for both games 1 & 3 clicking away

Gus Miller (OSU) and check out the ball there at the end of the bat

The Park really was Standing Room Only!

Far right side- Jason (Covington) and Bill Turner visit

Hard working Bill Meade and his camera Lady Rebecca Armstrong

Did we mention , Great Crowd?

Did we just hit another home run? Check out Bill Meade out there trying to capture the moment

Talk about staying on your toes!

Juno working his 50-50 magic out in the crowd

The "L" sprayed in the dirt

Donnie and the gang might have needed police escorts as they collected over $500.00

From folks off all ages...

Always looking for fans of all ages

More shots of the crowd

1ST base side of the diamond

Check out the stands behind the action

Did that Ryan do it again?

Adam McClain (Memphis) at the plate

Our good friend John Leonard (All Things Valley League) hard at work

Everyone wanted a good seat to watch this one from

Serious look from the on deck circle

Jeff & Diane Buckley (Wranglers GM) enjoying the action

How cool id it to have so many fans at the finals!

More game action from Game #3

Check out the leg lift just before impact

This young man was just plain "Nasty" all night long!

FANS EVERYWHERE!

This young man should win some sort of Award or something

Jeff Jefferson (Liberty) scored the fourth and final Wrangler run

And this made many a home team fan smile

I think they know they are getting close

And they know that #2 (Ryan Schimpf) helped them be #1

Let the celebration begin for the 2008 VBL Champs !