Did you know?: During a game that carried into the dusk hours, Clarkson once pitched a lemon to the plate to persuade the umpire, Jack Kerins to call the game due to darkness. Kerins called the lemon a strike, and when shown by Boston’s catcher that he had called a lemon a strike, Kerins finally called the game.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hard Times in the Big Easy

New Orleans: On August 25th 2005, The Big Easy was hit with one of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history. Hurricane Katrina killed thousands of people along the Gulf Coast, and caused billions of dollars in damage. Since then, the area has been struggling to rebuild and has leaned heavily on local sports team to provide hope and a welcome break from the day to day grind of rebuilding.

Just in the past year, the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl in thrilling fashion and the Hornets appear to be on their way up with a healthy Chris Paul back in the mix. However, excitement went through the roof when Louisiana businessman James Yoi, who made his millions by dominating local fishing and shrimping industries, purchased Atlanta’s NL South division winning baseball team and moved it to the Crescent City.

With a baseball team on the cusp of a World Series run moving to their town, the New Orleans Mob quickly became the new passion of the great Gulf Coast city. Season tickets quickly began to sell out, and Mob Jersey’s were frequently seen during the off-season’s early days.

However, after spending a good deal of money in arbitration to sign players such as 3B John Buckley, 2B Rich Borowski and Albert Butcher, among others, tragedy has struck at the worst possible time. In recent months, the tragic BP Oil Spills have devastated Yoi’s once lucrative fishing and shrimping businesses, leaving the Mob owner and staff scrambling to adjust their budgets.

“This oil spill was something that could not have been predicted, and it is causing havoc up and down the Gulf Coast. While cleanup efforts are under way, it has put a huge dent on what we can do financially for the New Orleans Mob, obviously.” Yoi had to say in a press release, “However we remain dedicated to putting a competitive team out there and bringing a World Series title to this great city.”

With the recent events, Mob officials have begun trying to find partners to trade away some of their larger contracts for younger and/or less expensive players. It remains to be seen if they can capture the NL South title with all the off the field events and the resulting damage to their payroll. With perennial contenders Jackson and Louisville, it will be difficult, but they still have a good core of talent and fans are hopeful their first season with the Mob will be a successful one.

*Parts of this story were gathered from New Orleans Mob websites, reprinted in this story with permission from Mob officials.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Offseason News and Notes

With offseason owners meetings wrapping up this weekend in Orlando FL., let’s take a look at some news and rumors from around the league:

Word out of the Jackson Marvels camp is that their brass is looking to make a big splash in the free agent market this year. No word on who they are targeting specifically, but word on the street is that they may be looking to free up SP Curt Wood. Wood has been somewhat of a disappointment in Jackson, but there is no doubt he has raw talent and is young.

In New Orleans, rumors have emerged that Mob officials are looking at letting utility man R.J. James go to the free agent market instead of signing him to a long term contract. Scouts have been giving positive reviews about minor league SS Bill Morrow, who had a good year in season 17 at AAA. With James looking to go to arbitration and most likely expecting more money, Mob brass may be looking at the younger, and cheaper, Morrow.

In Philly, word has hit the market that several of their players are being made available for trade. Alex Polonia, Al Johnson and Preston Creek have hit the market in recent days. It remains to be seen if this is a full blown rebuild mode, or if the Flame Throwers are looking to improve their stock in order to take down powerhouse New York.

Finally in trade news, the Toronto Northmen have put hard-hitting CF Kirk Curtis on the trade market. Curtis, a former Gold Glove center fielder is sure to command a lot of attention, as he is entering his last year of a five year deal. The Toronto masher would be a good power bat to add to any lineup. When asked for comments about the trade rumors, Curtis responded “You never like being involved in trade rumors, but I will just try to focus on my play on the field, and not worry about that unless it happens.”


Also this year, there are a handful of players looking break some major career milestones:

In Las Vegas, as crowds celebrate their World Series win from last year, the great Vincenzo Wakeland has arrived at the door step of the 3000 strikeout milestone. With only 170 strikeouts to go until 3000, he will undoubtedly reach this vaunted milestone this year, barring injury, making him only the second player in Clarkson history to enter this exclusive club.

Vincenzo Wakeland
Las Vegas
Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Andalusia, AL
Position(s): P (SP1)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Free agent Closer Juan Cervantes is close to the 400 Save club, however it remains to be seen if he will be given the opportunity to reach the 400 club. In the past two seasons, he has only logged 7 saves, the same number he needs to reach 400, but it is unclear if he will get a chance with another team at age 37. Still, a great career for the longtime closer.

Juan Cervantes
Age: 37B/T: L/L
Born: Chitre Herrera, PA
Position(s): P (P)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

In Toledo, speed demon Pep Thurman is closing in on the all time stolen base record, currently held by Free Agent Felipe Johnson. Thurman, who is only 13 stolen bases behind Johnson, but 6 years younger, will undoubtedly pass and shatter Johnsons record when his career is finally over. At only 31, Thurman will put the record far out of reach of any of the current SB career leader.

Pep Thurman
Age: 31B/T: R/R
Born: Sedona, AZ
Position(s): SS/IF/OF/DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

And finally in New York, LF Joaquin James looks to become just the 4th player in Clarkson history to reach the exclusive 3000 hit club. The 36 year old Villa Clara native will need to stay healthy all year, but barring injury, he should reach this historic milestone late in the year. The veteran has shown little signs of slipping, so we fully expect him to reach the 3000 hit club.

Joaquin James
New York
Age: 36B/T: R/R
Born: Villa Clara, CU
Position(s): LF/CIF/2B/OF/DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ticking Timebombs?

We here at the Clarkson Gazette are always working hard to bring you hard hitting Clarkson news. Today we bring you a special insider report filed by our covert reporter, known only as "Night Hawk", to our sister paper the Scranton Times Tribune. His real name is withheld in order to maintain his behind the scenes access. Enjoy:

"Scranton LOB:

In a story beginning to develop out of Scranton it appears that the reason for the Dunderheads leaving the Electric City may not be entirely baseball related. This reporter has learned that on an evening in early august an incident took place that may be the real reason that Scranton lost it's major league baseball franchise.

As the story goes 58 year old Bart 'Black Bart' Barton, owner of the Tacoma Timebombs (formerly the Scranton Dunderheads), arrived at the Scranton Cultural Center for a jazz concert and became embroiled in a melee with city councilman Mathew Derlago. The witnesses I have spoken with confirmed that Barton was quite intoxicated and apparently overheard Derlago make a comment, that is when things got ugly.

Barton allegedly confronted Derlago about the comment and a heated argument ensued. One thing lead to another and Derlago, according to eyewitnesses swung at Barton to which Barton countered and broke the jaw of the councilman.

Barton was placed under arrest, while Derlago was admitted to Mercy Hospital and treated for his injuries. Barton was later released form custody and as of press time no charges had been laid. Derlago has since filed suit and is suing Barton for damages.

Here is where it gets interesting. Derlago is the Chairman of the Scranton venue committee and is the committee person in charge of filling the lease for Lackawanna Stadium, which is up as of the close of season 17.

It is well documented that Barton wanted a new stadium and talks regarding the lease arrangement had stalled, but a source who was within earshot of the altercation has told me that is not what the two were arguing about.

Apparently Barton had a young woman accompanying him that evening and the young woman was none other than Marina Derlago, the twenty two year old daughter of the councilman.

My source deep within City Hall confirmed for me that Barton may not have known that Marina was in fact Derlago's daughter but it was of little consequence, he refused to resume talks. So the Dunderheads are gone and Lackawanna Stadium remains empty.
Barton could not be reached for comment and Derlago has taken a leave of absence from city council. No one knows where he is, but this reporter vows to uncover the truth surrounding these events."

Certainly this is a blockbuster story, and it remains to be seen how this will affect the Timebombs this season. With a pending lawsuit on his hands, will "Black Bart" be reluctant to open his wallet, or will this incident spur him to go to greater lengths for a World Series win in his new home. Only time will tell.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tips for New Owners!

A few owners asked me to publish a list of tips for new owners on the blog. If you'll notice to the right above the esteemed John Clarkson, there is a link to the Tips page. These tips are generally not my own, but ones I have picked up from more experienced owners during my first few seasons of HBD. The main one is, don't be afraid to ask experienced owners for advice and have fun! For all the veteran owners out there, the list is a work in progress, so please let me know if you see anything out of order or have ideas you think need to be added. Hopefully it is helpful, thanks!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gamblers Anonymous

Another season of Clarkson baseball has come and gone, and what a year it was. It was a year of greatness on the field and turmoil off the field. However, through it all, fans packed the stadiums to see all the action of their favorite teams. In the end, only one team stood on top of the mountain, reigning as the World Champs for the second time in the three years: the Las Vegas Gamblers.
For the Gamblers, their season was a microcosm of Clarkson in general. Midseason turmoil found the owner of the Gamblers, Al Soxfanski questioning whether or not to sell his team and focus his efforts on his numerous other business ventures. Rumors swirled of possible gambling debts in the Las Vegas communities, and possible mob influence on his team. These reached an all time high when it was announced that the Gamblers would hold Frank Sinatra Day at Cashman Field. However the rumors turned out to be unfounded, after a press release from the club stated that there were absolutely no plans to sell the team.
In the end, it was the Gamblers who captured their second title in three years, defeating the always daunting Fargo Wood Chippers in six games. Despite a valiant effort from AL MVP Ron Sears and team, the Gamblers pitching was too strong, led by perennial Cy Young candidate Vincenzo Wakeland. After the game, and being showered with champagne, Gamblers head coach, Danys Amaro, had the following to say:
“It’s been a wild ride this year ... we will have a wild ride in the parade a couple of days from now. Obviously, the city will go nuts. Nobody loves a winner more than Vegas, and nobody knows how to throw a parade better. It’s been very exciting times and this is what we all play for. It’s been fun, crazy and I’m very, very proud of my players and how they played.”
It was a great year for the Gamblers, and they will begin their title defense soon.
In other Season 17 News:
In the AL, Wood Chippers megastar Ron Sears won his fourth straight, and fifth overall, MVP award in a landslide vote. It was a bittersweet year for the future Hall of Famer, as his team lost in the World Series, followed by word that his team would be leaving their home in Fargo, and head to Toledo. When reached for comment, the slugger had this to say:
“It’s always painful leaving such a great fan base, and I wish we could have gone out on top for them. I wish them nothing but the best, and will always have good memories. Now it’s on to Toledo, which I hear is a great town. Not to mention, I look good in green.”

In the NL, slugger Trey McMahon of the Brown Sox took home his first MVP award.
“It feels great to be recognized for your hard work,” the 31 year old slugger said, “but I have to give credit to the guy around me in the lineup. Not to mention getting away from all that tequila in Monterey!”
It looks like McMahon might be on the move again however, as his contract status with the Brown Sox is still in limbo at this time.

In pitching news, the NL Cy Young once again came down to an epic battle between longtime rivals Pat Sutton and Vincenzo Wakeland. Wakeland and Sutton are easily the greatest pitchers in Clarkson history, and in the latest clash of the titan, it was Wakeland coming out with the award for the seventh time! This puts him one award of Sutton, 7-6, in all time Cy Young’s. We know Sutton will be looking to even the score, which should make for a very entertaining year.

Finally, the AL Cy Young award went to Sherm Kerr, of the New York Bombers. It was the second Cy Young for the young ace, boosting his already wild popularity. Known as “The Magician” to many of his fans, with a few hardcore fans dressing in fake beards and blue wizard robes, he has taken New York by storm. Gossip mags recently caught the hurler out on the town with none other than musician Rihanna, however both have maintained that they are “just friends”.

That’s all the news for now, the new season is just around the corner, so get ready Clarkson fans!