Saturday, October 4, 2008

The 2009 VBL Schedule : How important is it ? - The future just might depend on it...Final Thoughts from ATV-60 on the VBL

Note - For the 1ST time I wrote too many words for my spell check to kick-in. Sorry in advance for goofs... My years of management left me preaching one thing to the Managers I trained- Don't bring me a problem if you don't have a suggestion on how to fix it...

LURAY - The level of competition is changing all around our country in refrence to our Valley Baseball League. There are up and coming Summer Leagues that are wasting little time in getting their business plan in place. One of those leauges that you can use for example is the Sierra Baseball League (Where Today's talent becomes Tomorrow's Legends). Check out this up and coming league by clicking over to http://sierrabaseball.com/ . Somethings you will notice are that the league itself has an owner that acts in the best interest of the 14 teams in the league and despite the fact they have only been around for a few seasons they have both TV & Radio coverage tied to there All-Star Game.

Hey, there all the way out on the West Coast so there is no real concern, right? Then take a look at a few leagues closer to our home. The Northwoods League (Get Ready for the Show) has 14 teams and a deal in place with ESPN-U to broadcast their All-Star Game. One of their teams is located North of the Border so their players get an opportunity to play some games in Canada as well. The league started in 1994 and you can trace the entire history of the league on their league website.

We don't even have to talk about the Cape Cod League and all that goes with being the premeir league in the country. Peter Gammons and the gang at ESPN plus Jessica Beal making a movie a few years back about life in the Summer with the Cape made the "Cape" a Coke Brand name.

The next league that appears on the list would be the Great Lakes League. http://www.greatlakes.org/ is the site that will tell you about the 11 team league based in Ohio and Indiana. We could go on and on but I think the first four examples make the point. There are teams in these leagues that spend more money on their Team Website than the VBL spends on their entire league in a season. There are now over 200 teams competing with the VBL for the top players from around the country. Cal Ripken Sr, Alaska, Texas, New England Collegiate, Clark Griffith and Coastal Plain to name a few of the other leagues competing for our boys of Summer.

A college baseball player looking to impress the scouts or just improve his game has over 20 choices. The other leagues have more bells and whistles than the VBL so what does that mean for our league?

Let's start out by using the Luray Wranglers for an example. Bill Turner and Company work in a town with a population of roughly 5,000 and with a minimal amount of sponsorship opportunites. I feel comfortable in saying this because like Bill, I do business in this town and know first hand what the current economy is doing to our little town. The team is operated by about one dozen volunteers and GM Diane Buckley with Bill trying to get the most out of every penny the town folks can come up with.

The team uses the ball park that Luray High School plays their games at during the school year. The biggest drawback to the park is the lack of restroom facilities but Page County offers little in the way of choices.

With that said, now let us take a look at what the town of Luray and the Luray Wranglers brought to the table in the Summer of 2008.

First: One of their fans/residents went all over the State of Virginia to try and raise all the attention for the VBL that was possible. The jury is still out on this guy and his families sanity but what can I say.

Second: When the Cincinatti Reds drafted former Wrangler and Miami product Yonder Alonso with the number 7 pick of the first round, he became the highest VBL draft choice in the history of the league.

Third: While Vienna was ranked number 1 in the country in the PG Crosschecker Poll, Luray was able to get the Senators to travel down to Luray for a day/night twin bill. The Sens played Waynesboro in the afternoon (Generals won 1-0) and then played the Wranglers in the evening (Luray 12-4). The day went a long, long way toward giving the VBL street cred around the US if you will.

Fourth : Luray captured 7 straight playoff games after losing their opener to Harrisonburg and captured their 2ND VBL Crown in a 3-year span. The VBL title coupled with the Vienna double header allowed Luray to reach #3 in the Country and they ended the Summer ranked #4 out of 200 or so teams.

I said right after it took place that the VBL should shout the News from the Mountain Tops about Luray and the VBL as a whole but very little of this was done. While I don't think the VBL owed Luray a ticker tape parade, I do think there was a reason for a certain amount of graditude to the Wranglers organization.

What happened next was simply a crime commited against the Wranglers. The VBL now has 12 teams after welcoming the Lexington-based Rockbridge Rapids into the fold for the 2009 season. We now have an even number of teams and it is time to build on the momentum of the 2008 season so the VBL doesn't continue to lose ground to rest of the country. The one thing we have in our wonderful Valley is special folks and special towns. Our biggest concern for 2009 should be-scratch that- has to be to put our Fans in the seats at the parks.

I run a business that is directly tied to the cost of transportation (Delivery Service) and have felt first hand the effect of the cost of gas almost doubling. I answered many a question last year about how practical it was to try and run a promotion that encouraged folks to try and criss-cross the state with gas being $4.00 a gallon. My answer was that gas was roughly $2.00 a gallon when the idea started. This is a serious time for serious decesions to be made both for the Country and for the VBL.

The campaign for 2009 is "FANS IN THE STANDS" and the easiest way to do this would be to regionalize as many games as possible. For example, both Haymarket and Fauquier are trying to make strides in getting fans to attend their games and that should be the focus for both of those franchises. The amount of money one of their fans might spend to take in say four road games would allow that same fan to possibly buy a Senators season ticket.

The 2009 Schedule about to be put in to play has the VBL drawn in to a Northern and Southern Division with the North consisting of Winchester, Haymarket, Fauquier, Woodstock, Front Royal and Luray.

The South would consist of Harrisonburg, New Market, Staunton, Waynesboro. Rockbridge and Covington.

The teams would play 6 games against each of their division rivals and then a 2 game set against the other division. The idea would appear logical but it is not and I will now list the reasons why.

The format above almost guarentees that the Luray Wranglers would lose money for a second season in a row. The two teams that load up the cars and bring folks over to Bulldog Field are the New Market Rebels and the Harrisonburg Turks. The out-of-town kitty will now be reduced to just 2 viable road crowds for the Wranglers. Waynesboro will bring a few folks up for the game but no other team will approach double figures on most nights.

Luray is not the only team that will lose out, just the team that loses the greatest amount. Both of the trophy series held by New Market are greatly reduced. The Rebels have great battles with both the Woodstock River Bandits and the Luray Wranglers with trophys at stake but with the Rebels to the South and the other two to the North...

MLB has spent many a meeting trying to protect the Kansas City Royals/ Tampa Bay Rays and other small market teams by having profit sharing, much to the dismay of George Steinbrenner and his Yankees. His famous comeback being I didn't buy the Tampa Bay team, I bought the NY Yankees. But even George knows that NY can't play the BoSox 162 times. The can play 18 times and the Baltimore Orioles thank God everyday that they get 9 home games with Boston and New York to bolster their home gate.

Let us take a look at the current American League format and see what we can learn from it:

AL East:
Boston Red Sox
NY Yankees
Baltimore O's
Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays
___________________________________________
AL Central:
Milwaukee Brewers
Detroit Tigers
Clevland Indians
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
__________________________________________
AL West:
Oakland A's
LA Angles
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
__________________________________________

Let's take a look at the crazy idea that nobody even wants to take a look at or listen to before
moving forward with a decesion that could eventually cost my town our team.

Division #1 - The Northern Virginia Daily Division
1. Winchester Royals
2. Front Royal Cards
3. Haymarket Senators
4. Fauquier Gators

Division #2 - The Daily News Record Division
1. Woodstock River Bandits
2.New Market Rebels
3.Luray Wranglers
4. Harrisonburg Turks

Division #3 - The Staunton News- Leader Division
1. Waynesboro Generals
2. Staunton Braves
3.Rockbridge Rapids
4.Covington Lumberjacks

Playoff format - Top two teams from each division and then the two remaining teams of the six with the best record regardless of division.

Sponsorships of the 3 Divisions : Yes, with VBL responsibilites coming with the title such as guarentees about All-Star Coverage and Finals games depending on ther Home Park. Get Chuck McGill, Hubert Grimm and the DNR in the room and have a serious meeting. We can't talk about wanting Love from ESPN until we can get it from our own media. Continue to find ways to make the VBL morer fan friendly and try tapping into the incredible hard-core fan base the VBL has on different ideas to make it better.

Schedule goes as follows - Play your 3 division rivals 9 times each (5/4) for a total of 27 games. Play the other games as follows - one home and one away with each of the other teams with the total now reaching 43 games and then let the 44TH game be the teams Natural rival (FR-WIN, HAY-FAU, Rock-Cov, Stau-Waynesboro, NM-Woodstock, Luray-H'Burg). You would have to flip flop the 5/4 between the two teams each year- Example- Luray 5 home, New Market 4 home year 1 and then flip them for year two. I know some computer people that would spit it out for the sake of doing it if it is too confusing.

What does this give you? Each teams fans will still have at least one chance to see every team in the VBL come to their town and it gives a Major Boost to increasing the Rivaleries that make the VBL so special. You want to get people to the Bing- let Winchester come to town 5 times and now Luray gets 9 games with New Market & Harrisonburg and the games with Woodstock become more meaningful. Woodtsock gets their 22 home games but now 4 or 5 of them are against New Market (19 miles & County rival).

Let's take a look at one team for example:

Luray @ Home:
Current schedule-

3 games vs. Fauquier
3 games vs. Haymarket
3 games vs. Front Royal
3 games vs. Woodstock
3 games vs. Winchester
1 wild card game
1 game vs. 6 teams from the South

New Format:
5 games vs. New Market
5 games vs. H-Burg
4 games vs. Woodstock
1 game vs. each of the other 8 teams
___________________________________________________
This allows Luray to trade 6 home dates with Winchester, Haymarket and Fauquier for six more home gates with the Turks and the Rebels. It gives Bruce Alger and his fans back both of his trophy series and then some. Stu (Woodstock) now gets more of a chance to draw visitors as even Harrisonburg is just 36 miles of All-I-81 up to his park.
__________________________________________________
Luray and Haymarket aren't just 65 miles apart, the 65 miles in not user friendly. 20+ miles of two lane road followed by 5 or 6 miles through town (Front Royal) before you reach the highway (I-66).
__________________________________________________
The planned format criples Luray but it is moving forward because most everyone else is getting what they want. What would be the response from Waynesboro or Staunton if a plan was put into place that elimanated their match-ups?
__________________________________________________
Now let us take a look at the "Fans in the Stands" angle of this plan. Keep in mind that the same numbers I am going to throw out here for the fans is the exact same number for ther teams and each team will tell you that travel was / is their greatest expense. You have already seen how the plan puts more visitors in the stands, now let's take a look at it in reverse.
____________________________________________________
Let's say that I am a Luray Wrangler season ticket holder and I want to take short trips to see my team play. Now I have either 4 or 5 games at New Market (14 Miles), 4 or 5 games at Woodstock (34 Miles) and 4 or 5 games at Harrisonburg (34 miles) plus one at Front Royal (25 miles). I can now go to 15 of my 22 road games for a little more than 1 gallon of gas each way versus:
_____________________________________________________
(X3 to each park)
Fauquier- 44 miles but 1 hour due to mountain crossing on US-211 East
Haymarket- 65 miles on I-66 or 55 miles (1.19 hours) if you use the same crossing
Winchester - 44 miles (non-interstate or 50 miles with I-66/I-81)
Front Royal - same 25 miles of US-340
Woodstock - 34 miles

15 Road Games with current format - team travels 1,272 miles + 1 game at NM(28 loop), 1 @ HBurg(68 Loop) and 1 wild card game say at H-Burg (68 Loop)

The games to Covington, Waynesboro, Staunton and Rockbridge are a wash because the team takes one trip there both ways. Old format in place has the Wranglers driving 1,450 miles plus the four games in the deep South (626 under each plan) versus 732 miles...

Factor in the cost of traveling 2,076 estimated miles versus 1,358 miles is a 35% reduction in travel expenses ALONE !

Recap : The move brings more games to the fans, strengthens rivalries and reduces travel cost by 35% and just might give the VBL the boost it needs to compete with bigger cities that offer more bells and whistles.

Now for my closing thoughts on the matter- as the Song says, "You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything".

My love for my little town got me started on this exercise that became the VBL/Around The Valley in 60 Days. When the day is over and all is said and done - I live in Luray, run by business in Luray and support Mr. Bill Turner and his efforts to have a VBL team in Luray. I did my best to bring as much attention as possible to the VBL and then did my best to make each and every fan that came down to our little humble ball park feel like they mattered to the guy working the PA system.

I don't have an answer for the upcoming election, the price of gasoline or the real estate market but I did spend a night in a VBL ballpark everynight for over 60 days last summer. This allowed me to meet a great deal of people and listen to both their stories and their concerns about the VBL. It is game time folks - we have to get serious about protecting what is ours and for the second time in two years I have laid something out that costs the VBL nothing more than the time to look at the info.

The main difference this time around is that, like the Wranglers, I am fighting to keep my business afloat through the economic changes that are taking place. Take a look at the notes before it is too late, at least for this VBL fan. There are so many times that there is no answer for our troubles but I really don't think that is the case this time...

While I don't speak for Bill Turner or the Wrangler organization, I can honestly say that if the VBL moves forward with a plan destined to hurt the future of our town it wouldn't make sense for me to continue trying to support it...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 1 Highlights from MLB :Greg Maddux closes out Dodgers Game 1 Victory with scoreless 9TH inning

CHICAGO - Greg Maddux made his first relief appearance in a decade when he came out to retire the Chicago Cubs Wednesday night. Maddux faced four Cubs and surrendered one hit but no runs in the ninth inning while finishing off a 7-2 Dodger victory.

Skipper Joe Torre had originally named Maddux to start game four Sunday in LA. Maddux last started Saturday evening against San Francisco. 13 pitches with 10 going for strikes was the pitch count for the outing but no word yet on how this might effect a Game 4 start on Sunday...

Maddux came out of the pen for Skipper Bobby Cox and the Atlanta Braves back in 1988 & 1989...

Notes - Pulling Derek Lowe after just 6 innings has allowed Torre to announce Lowe as the game 4 starter for Sunday and 16 Game winner Chad Billingsley will pitch games 2 & 5.

Boston is just 2 outs away from taking home field from the Angles as Pappelbon is trying to close out a 4-1 BoSox lead in the 9TH. Now 1 out away (Former VBL Star Mike Lowell was healthy enough to start at 3RD base for Boston.

Final from Disneyland - BoSox 4-1

Phili scored 3 UN-earned runs early and protected home field with a 3-1 series opener over Milwaukee...

Interesting World Series Match-Ups

A. My favorite - Maddux & Manny vs. Manny's old team
B. All LA finale - Freeway Series
C.All 2ND City - Red Line Series
D. T-Bay vs. Anyone

9 Hours of MLB Playoffs on TBS and we are just 1 day into the Post Season !

Thursday : 2:35 PM Chicago White Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays
6:05 PM Milwaukee Brewers @ Philadelphia Phillies
9:35 PM Los Angles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs

Day off - Boston @ Anaheim

An Inspiring Father and Son Duo- Thanks to Mrs. Turks for sharing it with us

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

VBL Update : Turning the Clock Back 40 Years


The modern day Luray Wranglers have had an impressive run as of late but Bill Turner and Company still have a little work to do to catch up with the previous Luray team from the Valley Baseball League.

2006 - Wranglers win VBL Crown in 5 games over Staunton
2007 - Wranglers lose VBL Finals in 4 games to Waynesboro
2008 - Wranglers sweep Covington 3-0 for Crown
2009 - ???

Go back exactly 4 decades and take a quick look:

1966 - Luray Colonials win the VBL
1967 - Luray Colonials win the VBL
1968 - Luray Colonials win the VBL
1969 - Luray Colonials win the VBL

Shortly after that amazing run, the Luray team exited the VBL (1971) and headed over to the RCBL. Two years after that the team disbanded and the town remained without a team until the Wranglers were born in 2001... 30 Years without a VBL team in town...

Anyone out there with any Colonials memories ? Would love to hear some stories...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Ultimate Sporting Event : Win or Go Home and Be Forgotten

When it comes down to talking about the greatest game in all of Sports most people will choose to talk about Game 7 of a Championship Series. There are a number of fans that will tell you that the Super Bowl is the ultimate contest but tonight I am here to offer you a third option.

TBS is broadcasting the Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins American League Play-In game if you will. I believe that this is the ULTIMATE sporting event and here are a few reasons why. This game is treated as game #163 of the regular season and not a playoff game. Lose a Super Bowl and you still have the trophy representing your NFC or AFC Championship. Owners buy Rings to celebrate just making it to the Big Game and you will be forever remembered for coming within sight of your dreams.

*** Bottom of the second inning - Tied 0-0

Make it to game 7 of a Championship Series and you would of had to claimed three victories. Your team is on the verge of winning it all and if you lose the 7TH game you can hold your head up high and talk about finishing the deal next season. Tip your cap to the victors and take a certain amount of pride in coming so close...

8:10PM - Top of 3RD- Twins-0, ChiSox-0

Now lets go back in history- how far back (?), just last year to the National League Play-In game between Colorado and _____________. There was a tie for the NL wild card just last season and there was a Game #163 played that saw the Rockies advance to the playoffs. The Rockies then made a remarkable run in the NL playoffs before falling short in the World Series.

The loser of game #163 gets no consolation prize for playing the game. It doesn't even count as making the playoffs for the team. The decision for the home team in the game is decided by a coin toss, one step above Rock, Paper Scissors in my book. Win the game tonight and jump on the jet and fly to Tampa-St.Pete for the playoff opener (there is a statement I wasn't sure I would make in my lifetime), lose the game and you get to be a foot note to MLB history.

8:24 PM- End third inning - Tied 0-0


Travel back to 1995 and the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington and you will see Randy Johnson beating former Mariner Mark Langston and his California Angles by a final score of 9-1. That game was remember able to me but folks outside of Seattle and Anaheim would barely give it a second thought. The story was even bigger due to the Angles coughing up a 9 game lead during the month of September. If the M's lose that game, they don't break their non-playoff run and as they say- the rest could be non-history.

The M's made a playoff run that year that turned the fortune of the franchise around. Then just a few seasons later they went on to win some ridiculous number of games like 116 of 162. Take away a few Arthur Rhodes Yankee Stadium gopher balls and we would really have some M's history!

Colorado went on a tear all the way to the World Series, the M's possibly saved their franchise with their victory and everyone over the age of 40 remembers Bucky Dent's Homer over the Green Monster in 1978. Dent's Yankees defeated their arch-rival Red Sox by a final score of 5-4 after Boston coughed up a 14 game lead only to rally and force the 1 game showdown. This was the original Play-In game after the post expansion of 1969.

8:42 PM - Top of 5TH Inning - Tied 0-0

After the Classic 1978 battle it was just two years later when Houston spanked the LA Dodgers 7-1. Joe Neikro won his 20TH game of the season that day and the Astros made their initial playoff appearance in Franchise History.

8:49 PM- Ken Griffey Jr. just threw out a runner at the plate trying to score on a Sac Fly to keep the score 0-0!


The M's victory in 1995 was the third in the series and was followed by the Cubs hosting and defeating the San Fran Giants in 1998. Both teams failed to win on the final day of the regular season but the Cubs made the most of Game #163. Once again it was needed to decide the NL Wild Card and the home team won and advanced.

Showdown #5 was held in 1999 and it matched a pair of clubs that finished 96-66. Hard to imagine that 96-66 only gets you a tie for the NL Wild Card! Cincinnati and New York both recorded 96 wins but it would take 97 to "Make" the playoffs. Al Leiter tossed a 2-hit shut out(5-0) for the visitors that day in Cinci and the Amazins made the playoffs and the Reds haven't been the same since.

Eight years came and went between the Ultimate Game match-ups but it was a Classic. The Rockies needed 13 innings to defeat the San Diego Padres 9-8. The Padres scored 2 runs in the top of the inning only to see the Rockies close them out with 3 runs in the bottom of the 13TH.

Now we are at Showdown #7 and this one comes with another neat twist! Chicago is trying to become the 1ST team in MLB history to defeat three different teams on three consecutive days. The Sox had to win Sunday against the Indians to force the game on Monday with Detroit and tonight they try and complete the unique hat trick with a home game vs. the Twins.

9:04 PM - Heading to the bottom of the 6TH - Tied 0-0

The winner will celebrate on the flight down to Tampa-St.Pete while the team on the short side will simply fade to black...

9:10 PM- To the top of the 7TH - Tied 0-0 (Only 3 hits combined)

If Chicago wins they will make more history- four straight games against four seperate opponets...

9:32 - Jim Thome crushes a lead off Home Run and Chisox lead 1-0 heading into the top of the 8TH...

9:57 PM- It is in the Books - Minn. 0/2/0 Chicago 1/5/0

For the 1ST time in 102 Years it is a post season with both Chicago teams
Add in both LA teams (Dodgers & Angles ) and 1/2 of your 8 is from LA + Chi

What A Game !

Monday, September 29, 2008

The telling of a special story : Harrisonburg's Veterans Memorial Stadium


HARRISONBURG-This past week was a special one for the folks in and around H-Burg as the final bricks fell to the park known as Veterans Memorial Stadium. The demolition of the historical park began on Monday September 22ND and continued until Friday morning (9/26).

There are so many people that have a story to tell about how their lives that have been touched by experiences both on and off the field. As a relative new comer to our beautiful Valley I am not sure that I am the most qualified person to try and tell the story of what this park has meant to so many people but it is a story that deserves to be told.

Veterans Memorial Stadium was dedicated back in 1948 as a tribute to the 139 area Veterans that lost their lives in World War II. A plaque with the names of those Veterans had stood outside the stadium until recently when the plaque was moved to a secure facility.The plaque, with the addition of three names left off the original, will be integrated into the design of the new facility.

James Madison University is the new caretaker for the old Harrisonburg High School and the land that was the site of the original Veterans Stadium. The plans for the OLD site are to build a New Veterans Memorial Stadium. The new plans include building a baseball stadium as well as a softball stadium for the Dukes athletic teams. The VBL's Harrisonburg Turks will be among those calling the new park home.

I spent a fair amount of time over at the Vet last week but I can safely say I finished second to Mrs. Teresa Wease in the category of hours logged during the demolition. The reason the falling of the stadium took the better part of five days was JMU's plan to recycle the concrete for lack of a better way of painting the picture. Most observers showing up on Monday came expecting a big kaboom and then one fell dropping of the old ball park but those of us that stayed until the end of the week understood the reasoning.

The plan of taking the cement and crushing it for the purpose of re-using it in the New Veterans Memorial Stadium is priceless. The Turks will play their 2009 VBL Season at the current JMU baseball stadium but there is one obstacle for Bob & Teresa Wease. The park that JMU plays in now does not have lights so the 2009 season will consist of 22 day games for the Turks.

2010 will be a landmark year for the city of Harrisonburg, James Madison University and the Harrisonburg Turks but the remainder of 2008 and then 2009 will be on for both reflecting on the past and hanging on until the future.

Saturday July 26TH,2008 was the date of the final regular season game in the history of the Vet. it is the day I will remember for years to come. Bob & Teresa Wease team were hosting the New Market Rebels and we were there to celebrate with 18 wonderful Turks Loopsters. 18 Turks fans had completed the Around The Valley in 60 Days Loop and Teresa had a special night planned for her group of fans.

The ceremony before the start of the game was one to remember as Turks PA announcer Curt Dudley read a prepared statement about the history of the stadium and then all 18 Turks Loopsters (including Teresa and son Matt) were honored as well. The final surprise of the evening came when I was given the honor of throwing out the FINAL planned first pitch in the glorious history of the Vet.

I was proud to stand with my foot on the famed rubber when I threw the first pitch in the direction of home plate. Dudley was kind when he was calling the pitch but I have to say it did cross the plate...

New Market won the game that night by a final score of 3-1 to keep their faint playoff hopes alive for another day. The Turks traveled up I-81 up to New Market the following day and eliminated the Rebels by defeating the home team 8-3. With the victory the Vet was guaranteed at least one more playoff game!

It was fitting that it was Bruce Alger of New Market that was the opponent for the final home game at the stadium. Bruce is one of the people I mentioned above that could fill pages of stories that I would love to read as his days with the Vet goes back four decades. Sorry to age you there, Mr. Alger.

Fast forward to July 29TH and there was one more game for the Turks faithful. The Turks had pulled off quite the upset the night before at Bulldog Field in Luray when they defeated the #2 seed by a final score of 7-2. Not only were the Turks coming home but they were coming home ahead in the best 2 of 3.

The final game at the Stadium did not go the way the Turks and their fans would of hoped for as the Wranglers defeated the home team by a final score of 8-1. The season ended the following night back in Luray when the eventual VBL Champions defeated the Turks 4-3 with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

July 29TH until September 22ND was an UN-easy time for the Wease's and their fans as their days with the Vet were numbered. There will be a share of fans that will say that it is for the better as the new Vet will be better and full of bells and whistles. This may be true but it hard to let go of 50+ years of priceless memories. Bob Wease can take you all the way back to the 1950's with his stories of the Old Vet.

Our good friend John Leonard over at http://allthingsvalleyleague.typepad.com/ shared one of his memories with me about his playing days. John played his college baseball at what was then Eastern Mennonite College (modern day EMU) and was telling me about a day/night double header back in 1992 or 1993. Under the lights at the stadium John played right field that night a few years ago...

Bruce Alger, Bob Wease , John Leonard or even yours truly for a remember able night will have stories to tell as I am positive many more do! Thanks for the Memories and for all the fallen that you stood for...

One more tip of the Cap to 45-Year Old Randy Johnson & My Back-2-Back No No's




ARIZONA-

If you read my story on Randy Johnson a few weeks ago you will remember our paths crossed when both of us spent a few years in the Great Northwest. Randy was born just 1 week after me back in September of 1963 and the fact that he can still dominate a MLB game at our age gives me hope!

Randy pitched the D-Backs season finale on Sunday and after allowing one UN-earned run in the top of the 1ST inning to Colorado something special happened. 105 pitches later and 9 K's in the books Johnson walked off the mound with a two-hitter. We couldn't call it a complete game 2-hitter though as the score was tied 1-1.

Just as Greg Maddux had turned the clock back one night earlier, Johnson looked as if he had also visited the Fountain of Youth. 9 strike outs, two hits and just one walk but no victory- not yet anyway. The D-Backs scored in the bottom of the 9TH to allow Johnson to claim the 11TH victory of the 2008 season.

The final numbers for the Big Unit to read as follows:

Record 11W-10L
ERA - 3.91

Career Mark- 295-160
5 More Wins to Reach 300 Wins

One more season for the Big Unit ? Let's hope so!
_________________________________________________

Now lets take a look at what I have in common with Mr. Johnny Vander Meer. MLB records show that back in 1938 (June 11TH and June 15TH) a pitcher in his 1ST full season did the UN-thinkable. Pitching for the Reds, Johnny tossed no-no's in consecutive starts against Boston and Brooklyn. To break this mark someone would have to toss 3 straight no hitters.

Back in early June of 1990 I had taken a job in Roanoke, Virginia and I was in possession of a Northwest Airline voucher that was due to expire in a few days. I had the week-end off and I drove from Roanoke to Dulles and jumped on a plane and headed to Seattle, Washington where my best friend at the time, Pat Weston, lived. Just one problem when I arrived and made it out to Redmond where Pat lived- he had gone to St.Louis for the week-end.

No one else to visit and 3,000 miles from home, I did what anyone else would do. I headed to Bellevue Square and bought a pair of Mariners shorts and headed down to the Kingdome for my first Mariners game. The Detroit Tigers were in town and they would be facing the "Big Unit", Randy Johnson.

The crowd that night was just 20,014 and not many were aware of the no-no in progress as Randy had walked six batters and the game was tight. Harold Reynolds had scored in the bottom of the first to give the M's a 1-0 lead and they pushed it to 2-0 when Brumley scored in the fourth. There I was sitting in my seat, keeping my scorecard and holding my ticket to Sunday's game in my left hand.

Brumley committed an error to give the visitors a total of seven base runners but Randy finished the 1ST no-no in the Mariners history. There was no way I was going to stay for the Sunday game after getting to witness Baseball History. I still have my ticket, M's shorts, my scorecard of the No-No and the UN-used Sunday ticket.

Final Line Score : Tigers 0/0/2 & M's 2/4/1... Attn: 20,014


Fast forward to the winter of 1993 and I packed up and moved to Seattle, Washington and took a circulation job with the New York Times. In my spare time I was delivering pizzas at the Domino's Pizza out in Redmond, Washington. My wife Linda had stayed back East until I was sure everything would work out but she made a visit out in April.

I was working day shift that day (April 22ND,1993) and was asking the manager to let me go as game time was approaching. I had waited until Linda made the trip out to Seattle to head back down to the Kingdome. Rob asked me why I was still going to go if I might miss the start of the game? My answer was because in baseball you never know when something special might happen. Our skipper was Sweet Lou Piniella and that was fun to watch in itself.

Chris Bosio had just came over from Milwaukee and he was facing the Boston Red Sox. Bosio always looked like he should be pitching in a slow pitch softball league with a keg at second base. Bosio started the night by walking the first two batters from Boston. The crowd was once again was tiny (13,604) and they were already bummed by the beginning of Bosio's fourth start for the M's.

Separated by almost 3 years, my first two M's games in the Kingdome were the ONLY two no-no's in the M's history as Bosio sailed to a 7-0 victory. Both crowds were less than 21,000 so the number of fans that made it to both of them had to be limited and the number that didn't see a game in between... PRICELESS

VBL Update -Noises coming out of New Market, Va.

There are two things that you can hear this week coming out of New Market. The first one is the sound of joy as Melissa Dodge and her fellow Redskins fans are living large this week following their 26-24 whopping they put on the Dallas Cowboys. Add in the fact that the game was played down in Texas Stadium and it is all the more reason to shout it from the roof tops or in this case, the mountain tops!

The second noise you will hear is the sound of the bat cracking as New Market has an entry this year in the Augusta County Youth League. My Rebel broadcast buddy, Mr. Tony Mowat checked in with some of the details on the New Market Red Sox. The coaching staff will be very recognizable as Bruce Alger is leading the young men (Ages 12-15) into the season. Jay Hafner, Phil Watcher and Mike McCourt will be assisting Mr. Alger this season.

The games are going to be played over at New Market Park and we will add more notes as they become available to us.

Congrats Melissa, Thank to Tony and Best of Luck to Bruce and the Red Sox!!!