We just don’t realize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, “well, there’ll be other days.” I didn’t realize that that was the only day.
–Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham
Did I just start a blog post with a Field of Dreams quote? Yes. And who cares if it’s corny, because when you witness a real-life baseball moment that actually rivals fantasy – or surpasses it – it might be the only time you can legitimately go to the Field of Dreams well.
The video is above of Sean Smith tying Game 3 of Freedom Division Championship Series with a solo home run in the eighth inning, before collapsing with what turned out to be a blown right ACL. If you’re reader of this blog you likely know what happens next. If not, please watch the video now before you read any further.
The Revolution went on to win 3-2 in 10 innings to take a 2-1 series lead. With rally towels flying during the dramatic final act of York’s home playoff opener, in Santander Stadium we all understood it was a special moment in franchise history. What we didn’t realize was HOW special it would be to everyone else nationwide, mainly ESPN and Fox Sports as the video quickly circulated.
As texts and Twitter of various front office staff began buzzing well after midnight, as fans and staffers alike retreated home to rest and anticipate Game 4 and a possible series win the next day, Moonlight Graham’s quote became very apt. After grinding out a 15-season minor league career, this will probably be the “only day” Sean Smith and the York Revolution are the lead story on SportsCenter and number 1 on their top 10. But boy did he earn it with that show of grit and determination. It may not be the equivalent of a day in the big leagues, but if only every player we come across fighting to make it to the Majors and doesn’t could get such a well-deserved spotlight shone on them for continuing to put their body through 150 minor league baseball games every year. It’s just a shame that to earn that recognition, Smith had to sustain a serious knee injury. He may have hit one of the bigger homers in Revolution history, but that’s what I call a sacrifice.
Indeed, this video was shown on SportsCenter, at the very top of the show as their “Moment of the Night.” Smith was also the night’s “Best Person in Sports” on Fox Sports Live on the Fox Sports 1 channel. ESPN used a good portion of Darrell Henry’s call of the moment as well; very cool to see and hear that familiar voice on ESPN. (DH received a shoutout by name from SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett.) And to the 6,682 fans in the Santander Stadium playoff-record crowd, you were the truth in urging Smith on, appreciating what he was accomplishing and making that moment as unreal as it was.
OTHER SHOUTOUTS: Revolution Multi-Media Manager Scott Parker for cutting and distributing the video so quickly, and Daniel Kurish of WOYK 1350 for helping to spread it around to ESPN social media and other outlets.
Although Justin Greene was named York Revolution MVP for 2014 as he won the Atlantic League batting title and set York’s all-time mark, it was hardly an easy decision. All Chad Tracy did was finish second in the league in home runs and lead the league in RBI. Eric Patterson could also stake his claim to the hardware, after he rolled up a Revolution-record 67 extra base hits. He surpassed Chris Nowak’s record of 63 in 2012, 34 of which were homers.
Patterson, who established a new Atlantic League single-season record for triples with 17, extending a record he surpassed with this 14th, added 15 home runs and 35 doubles while hitting .301 in 132 games. 67 is two short of the league record for extra base hits in a season, which belongs to Tommy Everidge of the 2011 Lancaster Barnstormers. Last season in 62 games with York, Patterson collected 34 extra base hits, (15 doubles, six triples, 13 homers), giving him 101 extra base hits in a Revolution uniform. That is 27 shy of the franchise mark of 128 held by Scott Grimes. Should Patterson return to York next season, that record is in peril.
In a saga that lasted until the final day of the regular season, the York Revolution at long last, after clinching a postseason berth on July 5, know who their opening round opponent is.
York (78-62 overall), who won the Freedom Division first half title by two games over Lancaster with a 41-29 record will play second half-winning Sugar Land (80-60 overall), who took the latter half with a 42-28 record. 42-28 matched Lancaster’s second half record, and the first tie-break of head to head record decided nothing, as it was 10-10. The second tie-breaker is second half games only, in which Sugar Land had a 5-4 edge, giving them the division.
Because Somerset (85-55 overall) won both halves of the Liberty Division, a wild card slot opens up as there are four playoff teams in every Atlantic League postseason regardless. That spot is filled with the club that did not win a divisional half with the best record over both halves, which is Lancaster (81-59 overall).
For the first time in York Revolution history, the club has produced the Atlantic League batting champion. Right fielder Justin Greene’s .358 effort this season is his second consecutive league batting title, after he was the top hitter in the Double-A Southern League a season ago for the Mobile BayBears (Arizona Diamondbacks).
Greene, who peaked at .393 this season and for much of the year threatened the Atlantic League single-season batting record of .371 (Vic Rodriguez, Somerset ’04), allowed little drama into the race. He finished 11 points ahead of Long Island outfielder Lew Ford (.347). Greene’s breaking of the York single-season franchise record was decided weeks ago, as he breezed past Ramon Castro’s mark of .339 in 2010. He ended up with the fourth-best season average in Atlantic League history, and was the first player to bat over .350 since 2007.
Although he fell three RBI short of the third 100-RBI season in York Revolution history (107 by Chris Nowak in 2012 and 105 by Jason Aspito in 2008), first baseman Chad Tracy finished with the most runs driven in the Atlantic League this season.
Tracy’s 97 RBI were two better than Long Island outfielder Lew Ford, the former Twin and Oriole. His 23 home runs helped him get there, a mark good for second in the league behind the 26 of Lancaster outfielder Cole Garner. Tracy becomes the second Rev to lead the Atlantic League in RBI in the franchise’s eight-season history, joining Nowak. His 23 home runs tie the fourth-best showing in franchise history, joining Andres Perez’s 23 in 2012. Nowak hit 34 in 2012, 25 in 2011 and Aspito hit 24 in 2008.
Justin Greene’s 0-for-5 night in the Revolution’s 2-1 loss at Sugar Land on September 19 was rare…really rare. Even for a guy hitting in the .36os.
It snapped a 21-game hit streak for Greene, which was the longest for York this season. Johan Limonta assembled an 18-game streak in the first half. Unfortunately Greene was just one base knock away from securing the longest streak of the season in the Atlantic League. Long Island outfielder Fehlandt Lentini had two separate 21-game streaks of his own.
Greene has gone hitless in just 16 games this (ALPB) season. After signing with York on May 23, he’s hit safely in 90 of the 106 games he’s played with the Revolution. 21 games is the fifth-longest hit streak in Revolution history. The longest is of course the Atlantic League record as well, when York first baseman Chris Ashby hit in 31 consecutive in 2008.
With the book closed on the regular season home schedule at Santander Stadium, the final numbers have been tallied on attendance. The 2014 York Revolution drew 3,937 fans per game in 68 openings, an increase from the 3,741 drawn in the same number of openings in 2013.
It’s an increase of 5.2% over the course of the season. By comparison, aggregate attendance for all MLB-affiliated minor leagues rose 2.1% in 2014, according to numbers released by Minor League Baseball.
Now that the official-sounding stuff is out of the way…thank you fans!
For the third time this season, York Revolution first baseman Chad Tracy has been named Atlantic League Player of the Week. Tracy achieved the same honor for the periods of June 16-22 and August 4-10. It’s the fourth time a Rev has been named Player of the Week this season; LHP Alain Quijano was recognized for his two starts between June 30 and July 6 when he pitched the Revolution to a first half division title. IF/OF Eric Patterson was also named Atlantic League Player of the Month for July earlier this season.
Tracy, the current Atlantic League RBI leader at 94 with six games remaining in the regular season, is also second in the league in home runs with 21. In six games last week, he batted .444 (8-18) with three home runs and eight RBI. He scored five runs, and drew seven walks as pitchers grow more weary of giving the slugger something to hit.
In his ninth professional season, Tracy has accumulated 163 home runs, an average of 18 per season. In raising his average to .271, he certainly hasn’t been an all-or-nothing power hitter this season. Tracy also has 16 doubles this year and has chipped in two triples for good measure, for a total of 39 extra base hits. (.346 OBP, .446 SLG, .792 OPS.) He’s struck out just 78 times in his first 127 games this season. For the most part, Tracy is a sabermetric-friendly power-hitter. Perhaps his plate discipline can be traced to his father, former Major League Manager Jim Tracy. (Dodgers, Pirates, Rockies.)
For the third consecutive season, the Revolution will end the regular season with a six-game road trip in Texas. In 2012 and 2013, York posted identical 4-2 records on the trip. Should they do that again, they’ll finish with the first 80-win regular season in franchise history. Speaking of Texas, there is one stipulation on the playoff schedule:
- If York’s first round opponent is Sugar Land, the Revolution will remain in the Houston area for Games 1 and 2 of the first round, before flying home for Game 3 on Friday, September 26 at Santander Stadium. In that case, the series would start a day earlier than originally scheduled, meaning Games 1 and 2 would be on September 23 and 24 instead of 24 and 25. This will allow both clubs a travel day back to York on the 25th to not have to fly the day of the game. So there would be just one off day (Sept. 23) instead of two between the end of the regular season on the 21st and the beginning of the postseason.
- Should Lancaster be the first round opponent, the series will begin as planned with Games 1 and 2 in Lancaster on the 24th and 25th and shift back to York for games 3-5 if necessary. The Revolution was 13-7 against Lancaster this season, but is just 5-9 against Sugar Land heading into the trip. And yes…with three teams poised to make the playoffs from the Freedom Division, it could potentially mean a York-Lancaster “War of The Roses” Atlantic League Championship Series if each club is on opposite sides of the bracket and win their first round series. Should the Revolution reach the Championship Series, the first two games will be in York (October 1-2), with the season ending on the road in Games 3-5 (October 3-5) regardless of opponent.
- The 11 days in between games at Santander Stadium ties a record…earlier this season the Revolution had a home game on May 11, before an off-day and a 10-game road trip, returning home on May 23. The final regular season home game on September 14 and the playoff home opener on September 26 matches that.
- York posted a 42-28 mark at home in the regular season. They go to Houston 34-30 on the road.
- York’s all-time playoff record is 14-10 in four appearances in their first seven seasons.
The full notebook is after the jump:
The York Revolution handed out their two annual player awards prior to the September 12 home game against Long Island.
Right fielder Justin Greene was named 2014 Revolution Most Valuable Player. In his first 100 games this season after signing with York on May 23, Greene batted .361, good for a 14-point lead for best in the Atlantic League. The seven-year pro will lay waste to the franchise single-season record of .339 by Ramon Castro in 2010. Greene is still chasing Vic Rodriguez of the 2004 Somerset Patriots, who owns the 10-year-old league record of .371. This player is not just a singles hitter either; Greene has mashed 37 extra base hits so far this season as well, including six triples. During a stretch of five home games from June 28 to July 2, he led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run three times. His four lead off home runs in the first inning this season is also a Revolution record. To make it simple, when he hits, the Revs hit.
Right-handed reliever Ian Durham was named Community Outreach Player of The Year. Each season, the organization selects one player who goes above and beyond his player contract, to help ensure the York Revolution remain the most family-friendly outlet in the area. The award goes to a player that has a true understanding of the role a minor league baseball franchise plays in its community. Durham was volunteering for a school reading assembly less than three days after arriving in York for preseason camp, and also sacrificed an off-day earlier in the season in May to read to another group of youngsters who were on the edge of their seats for the opportunity to hang out with a pro baseball player. On the field, the four-year pro sported a 5-1 record with a 2.92 ERA in his first 59 innings pitched this season, tallying 59 strikeouts against just 19 walks.
A full listing of award winners back through franchise history is after the jump:
As the days on the regular season tick away, it appears less likely Stephen Penney will be able to pitch again this season with a throwing shoulder ailment. Mark Mason and Co. are still hard at work making sure the Revolution is prepared for the postseason, and have added veteran right-hander Ricardo Gomez to the roster.
Gomez, 36, is back after pitching for York in 2011 and 2012. In 2011 Gomez appeared in 21 games out of the Revs bullpen, posting a 2.13 ERA in 25.1 innings, with 30 strikeouts and just 12 walks. His contract was then purchased by the Brother Elephants in Taiwan, where he finished the season. He returned to York in 2012 and appeared in 44 games, and was electric striking out 59 in 45.1 innings, for a 2.78 ERA and only 21 walks. Gomez has spent the last two seasons pitching in the Mexican League, and ended this season with Piratas de Campeche, where he was a teammate of Johan Limonta.
The two helped Campeche into the postseason, where they lost in seven games in the opening round. Gomez had agreed to terms to finish the season with York on August 31, but was inactive for appropriate rest following making 50 appearances in Mexico this year. To make room for Gomez on the roster, right-hander Greg Miller was released.
While uncertainly remains around the health of Stephen Penney’s pitching shoulder, the Revolution are not standing pat in making sure their bullpen is ready for the postseason. The team has acquired left-handed reliever Joe Harris from the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association. Harris comes to the Revolution in exchange for future considerations, which is likely an understanding between both clubs that the southpaw will return to Fargo next season and not begin the season in York.
Harris becomes the first of two players the Revolution are permitted to add from outside leagues after September 1, per Atlantic League rules. It is common for a handful of American Association players to be acquired by Atlantic League clubs in September, as their regular season concludes three weeks before the ALPB, and they’re currently in the playoffs.
The 27-year-old has pitched the last four seasons with Fargo-Moorhead. Harris is coming off a career year; last season he posted a 10-3 record in relief with six saves in 53 appearances. He can go multiple innings if need be; he posted a 1.55 ERA in 69.2 innings in 2013. To this point, Fargo-Moordhead is the only team Harris has played for professionally, joining them in 2011 out of Wilmington College in Delaware. In 160 career appearances with F-M, he’s posted a 2.41 ERA in 216 innings. Harris has 186 strikeouts in that time against just 76 walks, and has surrendered a miniscule 15 home runs in four seasons.
Harris is a native of Douglassville, PA, in Berks County.