Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let's take a look at the newest community to join the VBL: Lexington / Rockbridge County

It might of taken the Rockbridge Rapids a little longer to officially make it into the Valley Baseball League but I have to believe the wait will prove to be worth it. When the 2009 VBL season kicks-off here in about 9 months, all of the ATV-60 Loopsters will have a new park to add to their list!

Rockbridge County will open up a number of possibilities for VBL fans traveling to watch their teams. The beauty of the area will make for some can't miss day trips before the games are to played in the early evening. The first thing that will be appealing to those fans driving to the area is just how accessible the campus of Washington & Lee is from the interstate. Whether it is Covington fans traveling East on I-64 or the balance of the VBL heading South on I-81, the trip should prove to be an easy one.

The population of Lexington fits in well with the other big towns/ small cities that form the VBL. Lexington will fit in right about even with Warrenton (6TH & 7TH in size) in the middle of the VBL pack and the town offers a number of day trips and the surrounding area does as well. Let us get started by locating Lexington for you...

I-64 piggy backs with I-81 for a stretch of about 30 miles between Lexington and Staunton with Lexington sitting at the bottom end of that stretch. Exit #191 is the fork in the road where I-64 heads West and I-81 continues South. The 10 clubs not called Covington will use Exit #191 and then use the very first exit off I-64 West to reach the campus of Washington & Lee where the Rapids will play their home games.

Luray will be looking at a trip of 91 miles while New Market will be 76 each way. Some of the other numbers will range from Staunton (37-40), Waynesboro (40-42), Covington (42-44) and Harrisonburg (57-59). The distance from the split to the park is just over 3 miles and can be covered in just a matter of minutes. Now that you have an idea of how to get to Lexington we should take a look at some of the things one can do before a Rapids home game.

We will use a Saturday or Sunday afternoon as an example and there is a bit of something for everybody. The Chapel at W & L is a good place to start and is within walking distance of the stadium. If you have never spent time down there you will be amazed to discover that the campus of W & L sits right next to the campus of Virginia Military Institute. The amount of history that is available to you between the two is incredible.

The exit for the Natural Bridge is just a few miles South of Lexington. You can take in one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World as well as tour the Wax Museum if you like. Golfers looking for a challenge might want to head out a bit early and take on the golf course over in Beuna Vista. The Vista Links Golf Club is located just a few miles from the stadium and is as nice of a public course as you will find in the Valley.

If dining is your thing you will love the amount of choices waiting for you when you make it to town! I am not sure which ones will be on board with Mr. Cruthers as far as sponsorship goes so I will hold off on listing your choices but I promise you that you will love all of the choices. You can catch a movie, play some golf, walk the campus of two historical schools or spend an afternoon at the Natural Bridge to name a few.

I encourage you to take a look at the Rapids web site (http://www.rockbridgeradis.com/ ) to learn more about the excitement that will be coming in the 2009 season. You will be able to learn about the ownership group as well as the staff, ball park and the community of Rockbridge.

You have nine months to set aside a day to take in the sights and sounds of VBL baseball at its newest venue!

Spending 10 Minutes with Waynesbor's Derek McDaniel

For the second week in a row I was able to interview a Valley Baseball League personality during the Halftime Show of our Augusta County High School Game of the Week on ESPN-1240. Last week I had the opportunity to visit with Wrangler's skipper Mike Bocock during the break of the Stuarts Draft - Wilson Memorial contest and this week I was able to chat with the Generals assistant coach Derek McDaniel.

We were covering the Fort Defiance- Buffalo Gap contest Friday night and with his football team (WM Green Hornets) having a bye week Coach Mac was kind enough to sit down and talk about life in Augusta County. We were able to touch on a number of topics during our 10 minutes and to help set the table I should mention all the hats that this very busy Coach wears in a given year.

McDaniel spends his summers working along side of Lawrence Nesselrodt as the two team up to take care of business for Generals owner Jim Critzer. McDaniel informed me last night that he was the one that approached Critzer about Nesselrodt when Lawrence became available. During the fall months McDaniel trades his cleats for a whistle and clipboard as he coaches the Green Hornets Varsity Football team.

We are just getting started though as McDaniel is also the Varsity Club co-sponsor for the school located in the heart of Fischersville, Virginia. Woodrow Wilson Memorial High School Green Hornets is quite a title for the schools Athletic teams and Coach is right in the middle of it all with his duties as co-sponsor.

Winter time turns into spring and that takes McDaniel back to the baseball diamond. Coach Mac is the assistant coach of the Green Hornets baseball team as well. The other duties at the Class A school have Coach in charge of the G.E.D program. The VBL is full of special folks that stay busy year around here in our Valley and I would have to think that McDaniel is as both busy and visible as it gets!

While some of the VBL coaching staffs come in for the summer and then head back to their jobs in other parts of the country there are just as many that are very much a part of our community year around. McDaniel would be on that list but you could add Donn Foltz (Central High School/ Woodstock), Mike Bocock (Harrisonburg/ Luray), The Legend of the Valley- Mo Weber (Luray/ New Market) and Coach Koch (Fauquier) over in Warrneton. Add in Mr. Bob Wease who skippers his Turks team in addition to owning them and John Lowery, Jr. (West Virginia H.S/ Winchester) to the list of VBL folks that call the Valley home year around.

Coach Mac gives of his time to any and all that are in his community that might need it. The amazing part is that while Derek helps out on so many fronts he sees that everything is for the betterment of the Big Picture. It is a special group of people that work the sports scene down in Augusta County and the VBL is fortunate to have Coach Mac on board each summer!

Thanks for the time Coach and Best of Luck the rest of the season for your Green Hornets...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Class A Volleyball :Strasburg closes strong, defeats Luray 3-1

By : Scoop Carter
Crystal Clear News

LURAY- Strasburg made some adjustments prior to Game 3 of its non-district Volleyball match against Luray Thursday night and those moves led to a 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-18,25-19) road victory for the Rams.

"Luray was doing a great job on covering the center of the court early on," Rams coach Suzanne Mathias said. "I asked our girls to start working on the back corners on their kills and that made the difference for us."

The opening game could not of been much closer as the biggest string of points was just three. Three times one of the teams tried to create a string of points and the final mini-run came when Strasburg (3-2) turned a 14-12 deficit into a 15-14 lead. The squads continued to trade points until Luray's Katie Cubbage scored a kill to pull the Bulldogs even at 23-23. Strasburg closed out the opener on back-to-back kills from Jacyln Ayers and Lauren Agnew with the final score being 25-23.

"Katie was a little under the weather tonight but she still gave us a solid effort," Luray head coach Julie Rothgeb said. "Our hitting was a little off most of the night and we know that we can play better."

Cubbage collected 5 kills and a block while leading the attack for the home team during game two of the match. Agnew answered with four big swings of her own as once again the two teams traded points in a fashion that would remind one of the way that the Nascar drivers trade paint in the Night Race at Bristol. The largest lead in game two was 20-15 Luray (7-1) and the Rams had one more answer in them.

Starsburg closed the gap to 24-23 on a second ball kill by Bethany Doman but Cubbage would even the match on her seventh kill of the night. Two games in the books and the scoreboard was 1-1 and total points were at 48-48. The third game was were the Rams started to take charge of the match.

Stephanie Conde scored in every manner possible early in game three as the junior collected a service winner, block, kill and another kill from the back row to push the visitors lead to 16-8. Ayers followed with a kill to make it 17-8 and Rothgeb called timeout to try and calm her troops.

Danielle Montgomery responded to her coaches words as the junior collected three late kills to keep the Bulldogs hopes alive. Her efforts didn't prevent the Rams from taking game 3 but they did get noticed by Rothgeb.

"Danielle has been doing a very good job for us when it comes to hitting the ball," Rothgeb noted. "Alison Ross is another player that is continuing to improve her game. I think tonight was her strongest game yet."

Mathias continued to ask her big hitters to work the corners in game four but once again Luray continued to stay in the game. Two straight aces from Lindsey Cummings pulled the Bulldogs even at 11-11 but Doman answered with three straight points on a kill and two service winners to give Strasburg some breathing room at 16-12.

Doman was there at the end of the match as well when the seniors kill pushed the lead to 23-19. Doman teamed with Conde to form a perfect double team block of the final Luray effort to secure the 25-19 victory...

NOTES FROM COACH SUZANNE :
*"We are still learning to trust one another on the floor and we will continue to improve as the season goes on"

*"Our service leaves some room for improvement. We will have to get stronger there if we want to compete.I think serving is the easiest part of the game and I am not sure if it is lack of focus or lack of experience for us right now."

*"We are still a very young VB team and we are working on re-enforcing that they can do it, That we can build what I want to build for our program."

NOTES FROM COACH JULIE :

*"The JV win was a big one for Coach Henry and her girls. She does a really good job with her program and that showed last year as they were district champs.

* "We will continue to improve as the season goes forward and we know that we can play better than we did tonight."

*After the game at Madison County on September 11TH, the Bulldogs will be off until the 23RD when they open Shenandoah District play vs. Stonewall Jackson

Checking in with the Strasburg Rams VB Team : Strasburg @ Luray Bulldogs

Thursday night was another opportunity for me to accomplish two things at just one sporting event as the Strasburg Rams made the trip down to Luray for a non-district Volleyball match in the Bulldog gym.

I will do my best to keep up with Suzanne Mathias and her 2008 Rams each time they venture out of the Northern Virginia Daily coverage area. Those of our readers that have been with us for a while remember the 2007 Rams being the subject of a VB book that Sabrena and I created earlier this season. The NVD does an excellent job of covering the Rams when they play at 250 Ram Drive but they play outside of the coverage area a few times each season.

I was able to visit with Suzanne last week as Strasburg made the trip down to Shenandoah for a match with Alan Knight and the Page County Panthers. Once again I was fortunate to visit with Alan after the contest and encourage you to scroll back a few stories for those articles if you are a fan of High School Volleyball. Linda was there with me and she took some pictures that we hope to post as well in the next couple of days. This time I would get to visit with the Ram faithful as well as visit with one of my favorite Bulldog coaches- 3RD year leader Julie Rothgeb.

We arrived there in time to see the end of a hard fought JV match that went the way of the Bulldogs. Luray pulled out quick in the third and deciding game, coasting to a 15-6 victory that allowed them to win the match 2-1.

Luray entered the varsity contest supporting an impressive 7-0 record that included capturing the Championship of the William Monroe Tournament back on Saturday August 23RD over in Standardsville. Rothgeb's team followed those 4 wins up with a home and home sweep of Clarke County and a home win over Madison County. The Bulldogs return to action next Thursday (11TH) when they travel over to Madison County for the second game with the Mountaineers.

Strasburg entered the night with a 2-2 record after falling in a dramatic five set match against West Virginia VB power Mussleman. The Appleman- Rams match was covered by a talented young lady by the name of Alyssa Goodson and you can read the gamer by going over to http://www.nvdaily.com/ .

LURAY VARSITY ROSTER FOR 2008

#1 - Amber Turner- Senior
#2 - Amelia Green - Junior
#3- Lindsey Cummings - Senior
#4 - Ashley Housden - Junior
#5 - Danielle Montgomery - Junior
#6 - Morgan Wright - Senior
#7 - Katie Cubbage - Senior
#8 - Rachel Goebel - Senior
#11-Megan Hilliard- Junior
#15- Alison Ross - Junior
#16- Jennifer Jewell - Junior

Head Coach : Julie Rothgeb (3RD Season)
JV Coach : Susan Henry

Strasburg Rams 2008 Varsity Roster:

#1 - Jacalyn Ayers - Junior
#2 - Casey Spiker - Sophomore
#3 - Siaura Saville - Sophomore
#4- Samanthan St. Clair - Sophomore
#5- Lauren Agnew - Sophomore
#6- Meaghan Gum - Junior
#7- Shanna Devers - Senior *
#8- Gabe Giersch - Junior
#9- Ally Kauffman- Junior
#10-Stephanie Conde- Junior *
#11- Jenna Smoot - Junior*
#12-Bethany Doman - Senior *
#14- Rebecca Coffman - Senior *
* - Returning player from 2007

Head Coach - Suzanne Mathias
Assistant Coach - Jennifer Mason
Assistant Coach - Jan Bane


That concludes the lead-up to the match and I will return later with a game story and some quotes from the coaches after I get some work done!

Friday Night Lights with ESPN-1240 The Boss (Week #3)

It is that time of the week again where I head South to team up with Mr. Chip Crabill to call the Augusta County High School Football Game of the Week. The site of this weeks contest is the campus of Buffalo Gap High School in downtown Swoope, Va. The drive to Buffalo Gap is right at 70 miles from the house which makes it the longest of the 7 drives to the schools that make up the Augusta County area.

Gap is the defending Class A State Champions and I had the good fortune to do the radio broadcast of the 14TH and final victory in their 14-0 campaign. The Championship contest took place down in Salem and I remember thinking that almost the entire community had made the trip down for the big game.

Fort Defiance (0-1) will be hoping to spoil the night for the Bison (1-0) as the two county rivals match-up before beginning their respective district schedules. Fort competes in the Southern Valley District (Class AA) while Buffalo Gap plays in the Class A Shenandoah District.

We will begin our tailgate show at 6:30 PM with the kick-off slated for 7:30 PM. We should get to visit with Buck Harman during the evening and the VBL followers know Buck as the recruting coordinator for Bill Turner and the Luray Wranglers...

If you live in the area you can catch all of the action on ESPN-1240 (WTON)...

Week #2 with Bill Meade and the Page News & Courier

When Sports Editor Bill Meade invited me to participate in the PN & C football pics contest he was quick to point out that he was gunning for his boss, Editor Randy Arrington. It turns out that Randy has defeated Bill in each of the past two seasons but I must note that Bill has taken an early lead (7-5) on Randy here in 2008. Bill led the way at 7-5 for week one as the group took some lumps from the East Carolina over Virginia Tech upset among others.

It is hard enough after 4 weeks of pre-season NFL games to try and pick Week #1 winners so you can only imagine the degree of difficulty in picking week one of High School seasons! In the NFL you have multiple sights to read and ESPN to help you out but with the high schools you are really just guessing until a few weeks go by. I finished in a tie for second at 6-6 after missing on the UCLA upset over Tennessee Monday night.

Generals Sign Guy Mike sent in a set of picks and while he went 4-8 I must say he did call the ECU Pirates over Va. Tech. I hope Mike takes the time to guess again this week as we take a look at the following 12 games:

High School:
Luray @ Cumberland (1ST game for Luray)
George Mason @ Page County
Riverheads @ Stuarts Draft
Clarke County @ Stonewall Jackson

College:
Georgia Tech @ Boston College
Furman @ Virginia Tech
Ole Miss @ Wake Forrest
Richmond @ Virginia

NFL:
Washington @ New York Giants
Jacksonville @ Tennessee
Dallas @ Cleveland
New York Jets @ Miami

We welcome you to send in a set of picks and try your luck!

Catching up with Strasburg's Katie Baker over at Bridgewater College

The combined efforts of the Baker family and John Galle of the Shenandoah Valley Herald allowed to get some updates on the transition to College Volleyball for former Straburg star Katie Baker. Katie was one of the seven seniors that combined to lead the Strasburg Rams to a 28-0 perfect season and Class A State Championship in the fall of 2007. Larry and Jane Baker were there every step of the way for Katie and I always enjoyed visiting with them and the rest of the Ram faithful.

Our paths crossed again at Christopher Newport University when Katie was joined by fellow Ram Kaitlin Smoot for the Virginia All-Star festivities. Kaitlin headed down to Blacksburg to attend Virginia Tech while Katie signed on the attend Bridgewater College where she will play VB for the Eagles. I was quick to see when the Eagles would be playing at home so I could make the short drive over to the beautiful campus and see Ms. Baker compete at the next level.

Bridgewater is under the direction of a new head coach this season with Greg Spector taking over the top spot. Spector and his squad was ranked third in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) behind Washington & Lee and Randolph-Macon. The Eagles jumped out of the starting blocks with their opening tournament down at Emory & Henry College. BC swept through 4 matches to conclude play as the sole UN-defeated team (4-0).

How did young Katie fare in her first competition at the next level? Baker joined fellow Eagle Tricia Davis on the First Team All-Tournament squad. Davis was voted tourney MVP for her efforts as the junior looks to step up and help fill the leadership role on the team.

Katie Baker and the remainder of the Eagles are due to make their 2008 home debut next Tuesday night (6:30 PM) against Randolph but they have something special coming up between now and then. BC was originally scheduled to play in an event down at Christopher Newport this week-end but there has been a scheduling change.

The new opponent for Bridgewater is Juniata College (2004 & 2006 National Champions) whom just happens to be the #1 seeded team in all of D-III volleyball. Juniata is located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania and compete in the Landmark Conference. The schedule change will allow the BC squad to test its game against one of the top teams in the country this week-end. The roster of BC includes another freshman I spent a little time covering during her final two years of high school. Blair Wampler was on of the team leaders for Coach Milton at James Wood High School up in Winchester.

Erica Dirnagl (Sherando) is a junior on the Bridgewater team, giving the Eagles a trio of players from the Greater Winchester Area. I hope to be able to follow Katie through the fall and maybe have her share her thoughts during the season as well. I am sure that Katie will continue to make Mom & Dad proud and I look forward to seeing her play next week! Good Luck to the Eagles on Saturday up at Juniata.

Mom did mention there was a bit of a difference in conditioning at the next level and I look forward to asking Katie about it when I can...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rocky Cherry (Turks '01) makes the show : From a different point of view

I just read a note from Teresa Wease about another one of her and Bob's former players making it into the major leagues and it made me smile when she told me how she found out. As I have mentioned in the past, my time in the Valley is limited to the past few years so I lean on both the VBL site and Mr. John Leonard (All Things Valley League) to learn about players from the VBL that have made the SHOW.

The news today came from the campus of Mary Washington University where the Wease's son Matt has just begun classes in his freshman year. MWU is located over in Fredricksburg, Virginia and the D-III school has both a beautiful campus and a strong athletic program. The idea that Matt was either listening to an Orioles game or watching one and noticed one of the players that he grew up with playing has to be pretty special.

This season I spent some time around a few different young adults (don't want to say kids) that either were finishing high school or just starting college. Three or four of these folks are the children of VBL owners and it made me wonder about just how cool it is to grow up as part of a Baseball Family.

Ashley Turner (Luray) should be down at Liberty University by now, Matt Wease (H-Burg) is at MWU and Mr. Adam Critzer (Waynesboro) is attending Shenandoah University. These are the first three that come to mind and I would be interested it hearing what it was like to grow up in a house where they had such an extended family each and every summer. Another young man that would be on a short list would be Brad Painter (Luray/ Bridgewater). Brad's parents have been hosting Wranglers for a bit know and he just finished his senior year of high school having hung out with Tyler Kuhn and Ryan Schimpf among others.

I can only imagine that the experience was something special for each of the people I mentioned above. Our Rebecca is back over at UVA now and after spending the past two seasons around the VBL, I know how fun it was for her to spend time around the players she met and then Clay Kelly and Wayne Dowling who stayed with us.

I love reading the passion that is Melissa Dodge (New Market) writing about her Sons of Summer and listening to Jay Hafner (New Market) talk about the lives that he has crossed paths with with the Rebels. I know for a fact that both Bill Turner and Bruce Alger end up with their house full of Wranglers and Rebels so I am sure Ms. Turner would have a treasure chest full of memories from her Dad's years as owner of Luray.

The difference for Matt is that I believe that his birth and his parents owning the Turks are close to the same. This young man has spent his entire life surrounded by Baseball older brothers and I can only imagine that there have been a number of them that changed his life for the better.

I know that there are a smaller number of folks following the site while there is no VBL baseball being played but I would like to think that the above families are still checking in so the Turner's, Wease's, Painter's and Critzer's should all know that there is a standing invitation to each of their children to share their thoughts on growing up with their parents baseball players playing a big part in their lives.

The same goes for anyone else out there who might have a story to tell about the same!

I would think it would have to be special to turn on the TV and see one of your extended family playing in the show...

45 year old Randy Johnson (294 wins) vs. 42- Year Old Greg Maddux (354 Wins) on Sunday Afternoon

Spending 10 years out in the Pacific Northwest gave me a chance to watch some special baseball players in both the majors (Mariners) and the minors. Ken Griffey Junior, A- Rod (when he has young and still like able), Edgar Martinez, Ichiro, Mark Langston and this young odd looking lefty with really long hair- Randy Johnson.

Mark Langston was a great lefty that never had a ton of run support during his days with the M's but never complained much about it. He teamed with righty Mike Moore for a solid 1-2 punch but the M's had little else. From the days of Spahn and Sain and pray for rain, I created Langston and Moore and hope it will pour. I wasn't comparing the talent level of these four but the sense of little hope when they weren't pitching!

Langston came up in 1984 and was 5 years into his career when the M's felt the need to trade him. Langston was due a big contract and he wasn't going to be getting it from the M's ownership group. Montreal was putting together a pretty serious team and was renting Langston for the remainder of the season. The M's lost Moore and it appeared they had lost Langston as all we got in return was this goofy tall guy (6'10) who back in 1989 couldn't control his fastball.

Note - Langston would go on to sign with the Angels and pitched until 1999 when he retired with a record of 179-158 (ERA-3.97) and 2,464 strike outs. Nice career that would of produced bigger numbers had he had some offense. He does remain 2ND on the Al-Time pick off list with 91, trailing only Kenny Rogers.

To say Johnson had control issues when he made it to Seattle would be like saying Babe Ruth could hit Home Runs. Johnson made his Major League debut back on September 15, 1988 while with the Expos prior to the trade to Seattle. He went 3-0 during the call-up month of September 1988 with an ERA of 2.42 but 1989 pre-trade wasn't so kind. Randy had pitched 7 times for the Expos (0-4, 6.67) before heading out West. Randy finished his second season with a overall record of 7-13 and a career mark of 10-13.

Johnson pitched for my M's from 1989 until 1998 when the M's shipped Randy to the Astros as Houston was preparing for a playoff run. This was a sad, sad day for M's fans as Randy wanted to stay and was only looking for a $12 million dollar per in his new contract. There was a choice to be made and management felt they needed all of their available money for the two guys that could be leaving soon- Junior and A-Rod. During his stay at the Kingdome Randy went 130-74 and recorded the 1ST of only 2 No-No's in Mariners history. I was fortunate enough to be one of the small crowd that witnessed the milestone.

133-78 when he left to go to Houston (for Freddie Garcia) and already 35 years old with a bad back, no one could of predicted the next decade of Randy Johnson's career. As much as I hoped he would somehow get to 300 Wins I just didn't see it being a serious possibility.Johnson was UN-touchable back in the National League where he made 11 starts for Houston and finished 10-1(ERA 1.28)!

Randy stayed in the National League and headed to the dessert in Arizona (1999) to be close to home. Randy had grown up in Southern California and pitched for USC in college. His six years in the BOB (Bank 1 Ballpark at the time) were off the charts. This other pitcher, Curt Schilling joined up with Randy for one of the most POWERFUL righty/lefty duo's ever. Randy had a four year run from 1999-2002 when he marks were 17-9, 19-7, 21-6 and 24-5 (81-27).

*** Cy Young Award Winner -1995, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002

2001 World Series Champions !

The 2003 season was the second one in which Randy lost serious time to the DL as he went 6-8 while starting only 18 games. In the season (2004) of his 40TH birthday he bounced back to finish 16-14 to end his first stint with the D-Backs at 103-49. But Randy was 40 now and still had 56 more games to win to hit the 300 mark. Randy fired a perfect game during the 2004 season to go with his No-No...

Enter the Big Apple and Randy's first run at pitching in a Major Market. He would have to make the adjustment of being left alone to having people follow his every move. It also had been six plus seasons since the hitters in the American League had faced his fastball and his NASTY off-speed that I believe that was called Mr. Snappy.Randy pitched for the Yankees in both 2005 (17-8) and 2006 (17-11) to up his record to 280-147 but now he was 43 years old and had been fighting a bad back for more than a decade.

Randy returned to the D-Backs in 2007 but another trip to the DL limited the lefty to just 10 starts for Arizona. His record was 4-3 (284-150) and for the 3RD time in his career he had a season get cut short...

1996- Seattle (8-5) only 14 starts
2003- Arizona(6-8)only 18 starts
2007-Arizona (4-3) only 10 starts= 42 starts vs. a normal 105 starts (Lost 60+ starts)

Randy made a decision to return for the 2008 season at the age of 44 in search of 16 wins and another chance to help the D-Backs get to the playoffs. Randy started out 4-1 but like Maddux this season June was less than kind to Randy. He had 5 starts in June and dropped all 5 decisions while his ERA rose from 3.83 up to 4.94. The consecutive losses reached 6 on July 1ST and the record for the year stood at 4-7. Right when it looked like the beginning of the end with 12 victories to go, Randy put together a 5 game winning streak that included 4 quality starts and one 10 run explosion for the D-Backs. Randy went from 4-7 to 9-7 in a hurry and now needed just 7 more wins to reach 300.

The D-Backs offense went into a slump at the wrong time with Randy going 1-2-2No Dec despite 5 straight quality starts (3 ERuns or less/ 6.0 innings). The next time Randy Johnson will take the mound he will be back home in the LA area and will be facing Greg Maddux and the Dodgers. The two teams are fighting over the NL West with the D-Backs leading by 1 & 1/2 games after Wednesday nights games.

While I started following Maddux as a rookie debuting way back on my 23RD birthday, I have always marveled at the fact that Randy was born exactly 1 week after me back in 1963. He will split the difference between our 45TH birthdays when he takes on Maddux at 4:05 PM Sunday afternoon. Randy is 294-159 for his career and is running out of starts left in the 2008 campaign. Arizona has 23 games left so there will be Randy starting in 4 days so the clock is most certainly ticking...

Sunday afternoon - The Tale of the Tape:

Randy Johnson- 3 Days shy of 45 years old
Greg Maddux - 42 years, 4 months

Johnson- W-294-L-159 (ERA 3.25)
Maddux-W-354 -L-225 (ERA 3.15)
Combined Wins - 648

Johnson- 5 Cy Young's
Maddux-4 Cy Young's

Johnson-4,764 K's (#2 overall)
Maddux-3,357 K's (#10 overall)

Johnson- 1 Perfect Game, 1 No-Hitter, 1 All-Star priceless moment with John Kruk
Maddux- 17 Gold Gloves (All-Time Record)

Getting to see this match-up? PRICELESS...

Winchester alum Kevin Kouzmanoff reaches 20 HR mark for 2008

While Kevin is no longer playing 3RD base behind Greg Maddux I still keep an eye on his progress. The amount of fan support Kooz gets out at Petco in San Diego is pretty special for any player so I have to believe a rising newcomer would be thrilled with all the love!

Kooz finished the 2007 season (1ST in San Diego) with 18 Home Runs, 74 RBI & a .275 batting average. His home run tonight against the Dodgers in LA put his numbers at 20 Home Runs, 71 RBI and an average at .274. The solo home run brought a bit of an end to a HR drought but he has matched his 2007 numbers with 1 month left to go in the season.

The fact that the Friars have had such a down year from the plate makes the numbers from Kooz stand out a bit more. SD has only 1 regular hitting over .280 and Kooz trails only Adrian Gonzales (28 dingers) on the home run list. Twenty four games remain for Kooz and company to try and crank up the offense while trying to plat spoiler in the NL West...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Veterans Memorial Stadium on Last Legs... Schedule says end is near of historical ball park

HARRISONBURG: This is the month that the old ball park is scheduled to be demolished... Check back for more details- We will pass them on as they become available...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Five minutes about EMU's Seth McGuffin (Luray Wranglers)

One of the more exciting things about this past summer was the amount of time I spent working with Mr. Seth McGuffin and Mr. Ryan Carroll up in the booth at Bulldog Field. While young Ryan just graduated from Luray High School, Seth has been there and done that for a number of years.

Some folks have asked me why there is more fans stories involving the other teams then Luray and there is a very simple answer. Each and every night I am at Bulldog Field I am up in the box with Ryan and Seth. While this is a great deal of fun it does keep me away from spending more time with the Wrangler fan base or for that matter, the Wrangler players.

I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about both all of the things that Seth takes care of at Bulldog Field and his role over at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg.

The toughtest job in any VBL press box is to keep the computerized score book while playing the role of official score keeper. Toss in the fact that Seth also handles the Play by Play on the Wranglers Web Cast and you have the makings of a pretty busy night. There are 22 nights plus playoff games during a 60 night schedule so there is little time for much else.

Seth has been with Bill Turner and the Wranglers for a number of years and I have just completed my second season working with both of them. The number of roles he has played during his stay have been to many to list and he takes a great deal of pride in all of them. The new one this season was a Sponsor Night Game Ticket and they turned out to be real keepers for the fans at the park. Seth's real job took him away from Luray for a week when he had to go out to San Diego (He still claims it was all work) and I for one sure was glad when he made it back.

The tough part for Seth was it turned out to be the week of the Vienna twin bill that he was gone. I know how much the exhibition game meant to Seth and it was a shame he couldn't be there for the organization's day in the sun.

Now that you know just how many hats that Seth wears at Bulldog Field, let's take a look at some of what he has accomplished over at EMU.

Seth graduated from Lynchburg College back in 1996 and he hit the ground running. Seth spent one season at LC working with the track and field team before coming to EMU as an assistant coach under then coach Paul Johnson. During his time as an assistant to Johnson Seth also served as EMU's Director of Sports Information. This year Seth will be starting his 5TH season as the Royals Head Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Coach.

It would be tough to figure out where Seth has had a greater level of success- as the head of EMU's track program or as a star for Lynchburg College back in the day. Take a look at this young mans accomplishments back at LC.

-Still holds both the Indoor and Outdoor record for the Shot Put and Discus
-He marks were also the best in the ODAC until just recently
-He is one of only four athletes in the history of the ODAC- Indoor to win the same event for all 4 years
-Seth repeated this with the Outdoor Shot Put for four years as well
-Seth won 11 ODAC individual titles during his 4 seasons
-Seth was named All- ODAC 12 times during this span
-Seth captured a total of 5 NCAA All-American plaques during his four seasons

The marks his teams have reached during his first four seasons at EMU have been equally impressive and I look forward to keeping up with the Royals for the 2008-2009 Indoor and Outdoor seasons and Seth continues to add to an already impressive resume at the ODAC school.

You can read more about this amazing man by heading over to www.emu.edu/athletics/directory/track_bio.html ...

Keep up the great effort !

Birthdays and Weddings: Life outside the lines in the VBL

Now that August 2008 is in the books we can take a look back at some more of the sacrifices that are made by the families and friends of the people running the VBL each season.

One of the things I noticed this season was how many people celebrated their birthdays at a ball park during the season. The second thing I noticed was how many times it was business as usual for most of them. In Luray I remember sharing my thoughts on Donnie Middleton spending the night of his 70TH birthday cleaning up Bulldog Field after that nights game and Diane Buckley (Wranglers GM) spending her special night trying to keep the nights efforts on course.

Teresa Wease shared with me that her son Matt has spent each and everyone of his 18 birthdays with the Turks. Some have been road games and some have been home games but all 18 have been celebrated at a baseball diamond with his extended family. The Turks nation did get to celebrate a special birthday this season up at Haymarket when Lisa K. turned 50. I was fortunate enough to be there to help sing Happy Birthday to this special lady while mugging for some photos with the entire group of 30+ Turks fans that had made the 99 mile each way trek.

The cost of doing business all summer long sometimes equals making choices. The amount of Weddings that have taken place the past three weeks made me stop and think some more. I remember listening to Dizzy talk about his upcoming wedding during my first trip down to Covington. A friend asked him when the big day was going to take place and the answer was "Right after the end of the Season".

The second wedding of note was Waynesboro skipper Lawrence Nesselrodt and his new bride. Their big day just happened and it also involved a number of VBL folks. I want to add my congrats to the new Mr. & Mrs. Nesselrodt.

Wedding number three that just happened was the daughter of Bob and Teresa Wease down in Richmond this past week-end. I hear that the ceremony went well and that the Wease's will back hard at work on the 2009 Turks roster before you know it. Now these are just the weddings that I stumbled across in my conversations with a few folks over the last month.

I had to smile when I look back to my own thoughts on the Summer of 2008 in relation to the VBL. The ride was non-stop for Rebecca and I but I won't dare complain because I know that we were just two of a few hundred that put a big part of life on hold in an attempt to make the 2008 VBL season more enjoyable. The deeper you look at the folks behind the VBL the more amazing the story becomes...

Here is a non-baseball story to Funny to pass up- Just how close are UNC and Duke?

It turns out that Butch Davis and his UNC- Tar Heels wanted to do something special for their home opener this past Saturday against McNeese State. A great deal of time is spent on the fact the schools are located just 8 miles apart on US-15/501 but what happened this week-end was too funny.

UNC hired a company out of Virginia (Aerial Adventures) to have someone (2 men) jump out of a airplane with the game ball just before kick off. I would have to imagine that seeing that happen would be pretty cool from a football fans perspective. The good folks sitting at Keenan Stadium in Chapel Hill were waiting for just that to happen Saturday afternoon.

The good news for UNC is they avoided a repeat of the scene in George Clooney's "Leatherheads" movie by having another football or two around so they didn't have to forfeit the game when their jumpers landed 8 miles down the road at Wallace Wade Stadium where James Madison University was preparing to play the Duke Blue Devils.

The story ran in the Raleigh News and Observer and then USA-Today picked up on it in the Tuesday edition of their paper. Please cue up the song- You Had a Bad day...

"In about 5 years, maybe this will be funny," Rick Steinbacher (UNC- associate AD) told the N & O. "Right now I am just glad no one was hurt."


On a bright side note- both UNC and Duke won their home openers and are both UN-defeated at 1-0. I challenge you to find out the last time that was the case???

Maddux pulls even with Roger Clemens after collecting win #354 !

It took a little longer than it should of for my hero Greg Maddux to capture his 7TH win of the season but he did just that Monday night when the LA Dodgers defeated San Diego 5-2.

EVERY FIFTH DAY : Greg Maddux defeats ex-mates...


The 7TH win gives Maddux 354 for his brilliant career and lands the righty in a tie for the #8 spot ALL-TIME with Roger Clemens. Maddux is now within 10 wins of moving into 5TH place overall...

Overall : Cy Young (511), Walter Johnson (417), Grover Clevland Alexander (373), Christy Mathewson (373), Pud Galvin (364), Warren Spahn (363), Kid Nichols (361), Maddux & Clemens (354)...

Dodgers 5, Padres 2
San Diego 100...001...000-2/7/1
Los Angles 121...000...10X-5/9/0

WP- Greg Maddux (7-11) * Added a RBI single to help his own cause