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Opinion

Requiem for the Riversharks: Camden ceases operations, to be replaced by New Britain in 2016

With the news earlier this month that newcomer New Britain, CT would play in the Atlantic League in 2016, it unfortunately meant a current league member would not, as the league is adamant about keeping an even number of franchises.  Otherwise, the all-travel Road Warriors would have to be reintroduced, a situation the league has not been in since 2011, and one with obvious burdens the ALPB does not wish to re-visit.

On October 21 it was announced the Camden Riversharks, after 15 seasons at Campbell’s Field across the river from Philadelphia, had ceased operations.  While it’s exciting to welcome a new league member in New Britain, made possible by the Double-A Eastern League franchise that had been calling their ballpark home relocating to nearby Hartford, it’s nonetheless disappointing to lose the second-closest team to York and a natural rival from the league lineup. The Riversharks’ lease at Campbell’s Field expired following the season, and was not successfully renegotiated.

Also falling by the wayside is the best setting in the Atlantic League, in the opinion of this humble writer, pictured above.  It was pretty cool to sit on the first base side at Campbell’s Field, where you get an awesome view of the Philadelphia skyline and the Delaware River under the Ben Franklin Bridge, which connects New Jersey and Philadelphia.  It was definitely one of the best settings for a game in pro baseball.

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Michael Jordan’s lone season in baseball proves he’s the greatest athlete of all time

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By Paul Braverman

As this spring training marks the 20th anniversary of the end of Michael Jordan’s foray into baseball, and the misinformed ridicule that came with it, I was hoping time would’ve judged Jordan’s effort a little more kindly than the Sports Illustrated cover in March of 1994 showing Jordan missing a pitch, with the huge headline of “Bag It, Michael.” And this was merely an anecdotal photo of him whiffing on a pitch in an exhibition game, long before the completion of what I consider to be one of the greatest sporting accomplishments of the 20th century.

No, 20 years later Jordan’s spring with the White Sox and summer with the Birmingham Barons is mostly remembered little more than as a failed publicity stunt, an indulgence of someone so famous he couldn’t accrue more global fame, and a punchline. This despite the vouching from his Double-A manager, Terry Francona, on just how seriously Jordan took the game and the confirmed attendance of Jordan at 6:30 a.m. batting sessions.

To make a Jordan baseball joke now would be akin to playing Pogs rather than Angry Birds on your phone, but in the 90s jokes about “45” were unrelenting. (#23 was taken by current White Sox manager Robin Ventura.) Of course that tide was stemmed by Jordan’s return to the NBA and three more championships. It was that, and decidedly NOT the remarkable challenge of trying to go from one major sport to another at age 31 which cemented Jordan’s legacy as the unchallenged greatest sporting hero of my generation. But to not appreciate Jordan’s “success” in baseball is to not understand baseball.

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On a personnel note…

A few Revolution-related transactions became official over the weekend/at the end of last week, and unfortunately they aren’t the best news when it comes to team-building for the 2015 season.

  • Outfielder Justin Greene will at least begin the season playing for Saltillo of the Mexican League.  His signing became official on February 7.  At this point, a return to York this season can only be termed as a “maybe.”  Forgive the unsolicited opinion, but it’s patently ridiculous Greene did not have a spring training invite with one of the 28 organizations he hadn’t played for yet, after winning the Atlantic League batting title at .358.  Some organizations, the Orioles, Angels, Athletics and Dodgers to name a few, have done a thorough job with their pro scouting, when it comes to the ALPB and other leagues.  Other organizations need to step their game up.  Justin Greene not having a non-roster invitation to camp this year is not his failure; it’s baseball failing him.  And it’s not as if those four organizations I mentioned are just desperate for warm minor league bodies; they’ve all been in recent contention so it’s not like there’s some stigma with them doing more business with the Atlantic League.  On that note, it’s not incumbent upon the usual suspects to sign ALL the ALPB prospects.  For example it’s well known around these parts Baltimore is very deep in the outfield.  It wasn’t their job to sign Justin Greene, but it was somebody’s.  Last season, the Rays and Pirates were apparently among the most interested, but it didn’t happen.

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Remembering 2014: Greene’s Day

In our final installment of “Remembering 2014” this week,  we re-visit the record-breaking season Revolution outfielder Justin Greene enjoyed, leading up to York’s fourth playoff appearance in five seasons, and their fifth in eight seasons of existence.  As he became the first Rev to win the Atlantic League batting title, Greene also set the single-season franchise average record.  Now that we’re done reminiscing about last season, next up:  The first player acquisition announcements for the 2015 season on Friday!

Greene, Justin 63

By Paul Braverman

When a player hits .358, any “slumps” are swallowed up in a season full of two and three-hit nights and are awfully hard to find.  For 2014 Atlantic League batting champion and York Revolution MVP Justin Greene, one slow start may have resulted in his career being taken off the fast track to the big leagues with the Arizona Diamondbacks, shifting to an unforgettable and record breaking summer detour in Central Pennsylvania.

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MLB will test Atlantic League pace of play initiatives in Arizona Fall League

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Women don’t get “wooly,” and mound visits like this one may become much more rare in future seasons.

But first, a quick Sean Smith update:  After York Revolution team physician Dr. John Deitch performed successful knee surgery on him on Saturday, 9/27, he is recovering and in good spirits.  The YouTube video is approaching 1.2 million views- give it another whirl and keep that counter going up.  You might be able to convince ESPN to fly the whole front office to the ESPY’s in L.A. once Sean is nominated.

Now, on to pace of play.  You may remember back in June, the Atlantic League unveiled it’s pace of play committee and an opening list of initiatives to try.  All except the controversial “courtesy runner” should the catcher reach base made it to the field.  What remained was enforced and did make an impact; between eight and 10 minutes were shaved off Atlantic League games on average this season after the rules were enacted.  High profile reporters such as Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated even took notice and applauded the Atlantic League’s efforts.  Pace of play has been a Verducci peccadillo for a long time, and if you click that link from earlier this year, he shared some rather awe-inspiring numbers about how much longer MLB games have gotten in just the last few seasons.

OPINION ALERT:  Some will say “what’s the big deal about just eight to 10 minutes on my night out or if I’m watching/listening at home?”  The answer is, not much.  However, it’s important we distinguish between time of play, and PACE of play.  The real onus on baseball leadership is to make every moment of the in-person or television experience exciting for fans, to ensure the game’s stability and growth.  A game with countless stoppages that takes over three hours usually does not pass the excitement threshold. Don’t get me wrong, a 2-1 game can of course be exciting in its own right, but that game should take no more than two and a half hours.  Of course an 8-7 game with dramatic home runs and lead changes will not be confined to that time, but as long as it’s free of unnecessary jock strap adjustments, wandering out of the batter’s box and excessive, extemporaneous timeouts with pitchers, it will be an exciting event regardless of the time it takes.  In an 8-7 game, there’s all the more reason to keep the focus on pace of play to make the whole game digestible, allowing fans with children, jobs to wake up for and alike the ability to experience that game in full.  Likewise, the crispness of a 2-1 game should not be sullied with clunky stopping and starting.

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Sean Smith’s Game 3 home run heroics go national

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.

-Paul Braverman


Atlantic League Pace of Play initiatives praised by Tom Verducci

Tom Verducci

The Atlantic League’s new Pace of Play Committee and its initiatives to speed up play have gotten plenty of ink both in league markets and nationally.  The most ringing endorsement from national media has come from Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated and MLB Network, which is nice for the league considering he is also the most high-profile baseball journalist to weigh in on the topic.  Verducci hasn’t been shy before with his opinion that Major League Baseball needs to speed up its games, making his praise of the ALPB not surprising.

Check out the entire column here: http://www.si.com/mlb/2014/08/05/atlantic-league-pace-of-play-mlb

The Atlantic League was able to reduce games to a 2:51 average over the weekend (13 games) after enforcement began.  It’s average for the season leading up to last weekend was 2:59.  As the new pace of play rules continue to be enforced (which Verducci outlines in his piece if you are unfamiliar), we’ll see shortly if the rules are having a significant impact over a larger sample size.

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Revolution, Rommie complete record road trip

So the York Revolution are 6-4 in their last 10 games.  Not a big deal, right?  Wrong!

Despite the 5-4 extra-inning loss in Sugar Land on May 22 to cap the longest road trip of this season at 10 games, York tied a franchise record with six wins on a road trip.  It looked like a 7-3 trip was probable, but despite walking four in 2.2 innings pitched, Tracy McGrady did not allow a run and the Skeeters won for the first time with him on the mound in his second abbreviated start.

But any time you can go on a three city road trip and get two series wins and a split, you can’t be anything but happy.  Not to mention three of the four losses on the trip came by just one or two runs.  Even in May, going 6-4 on this trip may have actually been necessary for York to stay in the first half Freedom Division race.  Lancaster continues to be red hot, and went 6-1 after the Revolution took two of three in Lancaster to begin the trip, and now return to York for this five-game Memorial Day weekend series (doubleheader on Sunday to make up the rain out on April 30) with a four-game lead, having gained a game on the Revs the last 10 days with a 7-3 record in that time.  A negative result on the last road trip, and the Revolution may have been in a hole too large to climb out of already in regards to the first half, with the Atlantic League season not even at the quarter-pole yet.

As the big series begins, Lancaster holds a 3-2 edge in the 2014 War of The Roses, with the Revolution leading 73-68 in Community Cup games.

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Andy Marte has a monster night in PCL playoffs…but may be injured – UPDATE: He separated his shoulder

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UPDATE:  Andy Marte separated his shoulder in Salt Lake’s win last night. An MRI scheduled 9/6 will reveal the severity of the injury, but it looks like he’s out of Game 3 at Las Vegas.  At one point his shoulder had to be popped back into place.  In any event, it doesn’t sound good…if Marte does play again this season, he’ll be playing in pain.  This is horrible news not only for Salt Lake’s title hopes, but Marte’s prospects of a September call-up to the Angels.  Stay tuned.  

Word is the shoulder had already been injured earlier in the game, and was aggravated further when Marte slid head first into home in the bottom of the ninth on a sac-fly to win Game 2 in walk off fashion for Salt Lake.  Talk about laying it all on the line for his team…Marte very well may have cost himself a return to the Majors to help his Triple-A teammates last night.

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Salt Lake Bees’ title hopes could get in way of Andy Marte’s MLB return

Marte, Andy 41

Ahhh September call-ups.  An exciting time of the year for Atlantic League fans and front offices, as they wait in suspense to see if any of their alums from either earlier in the current season or seasons past will crack a big league roster.  Of course, it ‘s a double-edged sword; while many players will perform in a way deserving of a call-up, much of it hinges on where the Major League team and their Triple-A affiliate are in the standings.

We’ll use Andy Marte as the most recent example, but the same tenets can be applied to any Triple-A player doing well. We bemoaned the fact Marte was in York as long as we was (.301, 19 HR, 74 RBI in 96 games), and he’s done better in Triple-A, batting .343 with four homers and 12 driven in his first 20 games with Salt Lake.  He seems like a prime candidate for a Major League audition in Anaheim, to see if at 29 Marte can shake off the well documented struggles of his youth in the show with the Cleveland Indians.

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August Alumni Update

When Major League rosters expand on September 1, five former members of the Revolution in Triple-A will be hoping for a call-up to join Mets pitcher Scott Rice as York alums in the big leagues.  In addition, five additional former Revs are currently at Double-A.  After the jump is a comprehensive update on how all of these guys are doing with their new organizations.

Scott Rice ‘11, LHP New York Mets (MLB)
We all know what is maybe the best individual story of the 2013 season by now.  But it never hurts to mention that after 14 minor league seasons, Rice earned his way onto a Major League roster for the first time out of spring training this year, and pitched a 1-2-3 inning for the Mets against San Diego to close an 11-2 win on Opening Day in Queens.  At 31, Rice was the oldest rookie on any MLB roster to start the season.  Once he finally reached the big leagues, Rice made it a point to stick.  At one point, he strung together 14 consecutive scoreless appearances, and will probably lead the National League and the Majors in appearances by season’s end.  As of August 20, he’d appeared in a MLB-best 64 games.  In such games, Rice held the opposition to just a .230 average, allowing just one home run. On April 7, Rice earned his first MLB win in New York against the Marlins.  On May 19, he earned the winning decision in his first appearance at Wrigley Field in the Mets 4-3 triumph over the Cubs.  Perhaps Rice’s most impressive achievement this season however was naming all 18 minor league clubs he played for from 1999 to 2012, from age 17 to age 30, when put on the spot live by MLB Network’s Chris Rose during the afternoon show Intentional TalkHe nailed them all, and which year he played at each, with the 2011 York Revolution on the list.

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Brian Burgamy joins St. Paul Saints

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Because it isn’t a day at the ballpark until we steal some of Jim Seip’s work:

The Revolution beat reporter for the York Daily Record has it over at his blog, Revs Inside Pitch, that not only did first baseman Brian Burgamy choose the St. Paul Saints of the American Association over a return to the Revolution where he played this season until going to the Mexican League on June 5, but that he also hit a walk-off homer in his first game back stateside.

After losing Brett Tomko, York’s roster is still one short at 24 active players.  While the hope was Burgamy would return, now the organization is in search of another position player or perhaps a starting pitcher for the final month of the season.

Color me surprised.  I thought he loved us.

-Paul Braverman


Notebook: Etch’s Birthday Edition

Etch

Andy Etchebarren is now 70 years old.  He’s in town after appearing at the Brooks Robinson Classic Golf Tournament in York on Monday, and is spending his birthday week at the ballpark with the Revolution.  The 2011 Atlantic League Manager of the year brought the Revolution their first two ALPB Championships in 2010 and 2011, and his number 8 sits alongside Brooks Robinson and Jackie Robinson as retired in center field at Sovereign Bank Stadium.  These miscellaneous musings are in his honor.

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Running the Pythagorean win-loss numbers on Sugar Land, Somerset and York; a closer look at “luck”

By Paul Braverman

At 30-23 through June 14, we can all agree that the Revolution are putting together a pretty solid first half, and if they aren’t able to catch Sugar Land/Somerset over the final 17 games of the half, they’ll start the second half with more than a decent shot to make the playoffs as either the second half winner or in a wild card scenario.

However, as gaudy as the Skeeters and Patriots records are, one can’t help but wonder if the Revs record would be similar, if they were getting more breaks in 1-run games.  (This only further exacerbates the disparity between the Freedom and Liberty Divisions this season.)  Of the first 23 losses this season for York, 15 are by 1 run.  That’s a staggering number, as 65% of their losses are by a single run.  This of course has me pulling out Bill James’s Pythagorean winning percentage metric again, to see how “unlucky” the Revolution are based on their runs scored (319) and runs allowed (250) as of June 14.  I’ve written about this before here, but if it’s new to you, here is James’s Pythagorean winning percentage equation:

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Talkin’ Baseball on February 11 in York

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Here are the details on the now annual pre-season baseball talk at Zion Lutheran Church in York:

Zion Lutheran Church will hold its third annual baseball talk at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11 in the church’s sanctuary, 2215 Brandywine Lane, York. This year’s event again features: Mel Antonen, baseball writer for SI.com, baseball panelist for MASN and Sirius/XM talk show host; Dan Connolly, Orioles/national baseball writer for The Baltimore Sun; and Jim Seip, York Revolution beat writer for the York Daily Record/York Sunday News. The writers will present their thoughts on the upcoming baseball season – Orioles, Phillies, all MLB, plus the York Revolution and the Atlantic League — and will answer questions from the audience. There is no admission fee, but a freewill offering will be taken to benefit the church’s youth ministry program. For more information, contact the church at 717-767-4673.

As an attendee of the event last year, I can confirm it really is a great primer to get you back in the baseball mindset, especially now with the Super Bowl over and pitchers and catchers reporting in a mere matter of days. In addition to the topics mentioned above, this audience member will try to throw in some talk about the Yankees and Nationals, you know, two clubs that actually finished in first place in their division last season. Revolution fans will also want to attend to hear the latest scoop around the locals. Fun! See you there.

-Paul Braverman


Former Rev Shawn Hill will pitch for Team Canada in World Baseball Classic, joining host of other Atlantic League Alums in tournament

Hill-Shawn-56_WorldBaseballClassic

The third World Baseball Classic Tournament will begin on March 2 during spring training, in Florida, Arizona and sites around the world.  The finals are slated for San Francisco’s AT&T Park from March 17-19.  Since the last World Baseball Classic prior to the 2009 season, the Atlantic League has passed the mark of over 100 former players reaching Major League Baseball.  Concurrently, the league’s footprint is continuing to grow in the international game as well.

The headliner in the WBC for the Revolution, and most likely the best Atlantic League Alum in the competition is Canada’s Shawn Hill.  In his final five starts in York last season, Hill did not allow a run, setting a new franchise scoreless innings streak at 27 and 2/3.  His contract was then purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays on June 18, the team he was last in the Majors with in 2010.  By September 29, Hill was summoned back to Toronto, becomming the third Revolution alum to reach the big leagues, and the second to go from York to the Majors in one season.  (Tike Redman, Revs to Orioles in 2007.)  That day he earned the winning decision for the Blue Jays, over the Yankees and Andy Pettitte no less, becoming the first former Revs pitcher to earn a Major League win.  The Mississauga, Ontario native will be a top of the rotation starter for Canada in the WBC.

Following the season, Hill was released by Toronto and opted to sign with the Detroit Tigers, where he will go to Major League spring training around his Team Canada duties.  If he does not make Detroit’s final 25-man roster, his likely destiniation is Triple-A Toledo.  Should he pitch well there, a call-up to the big leagues would be likely for sometime in 2013.

Below is a list of the former Atlantic League players suiting up for their country, or adopted country in this year’s WBC.  (If anything is confusing, remember that certain players are allowed to pitch for their nation of “heritage.”)  Every WBC game will be televised on MLB Network, so bookmark the schedule and remember to watch all of these familiar faces, or if you find yourself on a spring training vacation, check them out in person!

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Save your lectures, baseball writers

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Paul Braverman

You are looking at the cover of Sports Illustrated for the June 23, 1969 issue.  Yeah.  This cover does two things; 1. It proves the cat was out of the bag about athletes using performance enhancing drugs well before the 1990s when Barry Bonds apparently invented steroids.  2. It puts a sock in the mouth of every holier than thou baseball writer who has lectured us about how the 90s and first part of the 2000s were lost decades due to players upholding a tradition of PED use that at least began in 1968.

Kudos to Ty Duffy at The Big Lead for bringing this to my attention.  For the proper context on what is below, please read his post from that link, which includes an excerpt from an article from that 1969 edition of SI where players from the Cardinals and Tigers both readily admit to taking a cocktail of drugs – not talking about Advil here – in order to play or play better.  This includes Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.  Here’s my favorite part of Duffy’s take:

Gibson and others were men of virtue and esteem, though. Sure, they would inhale painkillers and amphetamines with reckless disregard, but if you told them they could rub in a cream, ingest a pill or receive an injection that would (a) keep them healthier (b) enhance their performance (c) earn them tens of millions of dollars and (d) not be tested for in any fashion by MLB, they totally would have turned it down.

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Why is life so hard? Because you are not Chris Nowak.

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When it comes to evaluating baseball talent, sabermetrics is the wave of the future.  When it comes to evaluating Bryce Harper, saBROmetrics puts him #1.  HA!  But I digress.

One of the best think tanks out there for advanced metrics, FanGraphs, has started to notice and take a liking to Revolution first baseman Chris Nowak.  In fact, FanGraphs’ Carston Cistulli has pegged Nowak as the best hitter in baseball currently not under contract with an MLB organization.  For Nowak’s sake, let’s hope that’s not true for much longer.  For the Revolution’s sake, having Nowak back in 2014 certainly would make York’s lineup among the most formidable in the league, regardless of who may be around him.

Some interesting stuff in that link. Among the best nuggets include the projection that Nowak would’ve hit .271 in the big leagues last season based on his Atlantic League numbers, according to a complex formula that’s way over my head.

Once you’re done with that, check this link out which is a 38-minute interview with Nowak done by Cistulli.

If this tickles your fancy, follow Carson Cistulli on Twitter, @cistulli.

-Paul Braverman


Remembering 2012: Most memorable “War of The Roses” victories

It may be the slowest time of  year for Revolution news, but we still have plenty to post here in case you missed anything during the season.  As we did last year, we’ll be posting a different column at the beginning of each week from the past season of the York Revolutionary Times in case you missed an issue at the ballpark.

Darrell Henry’s Top 10 War of the Roses Victories
The Revolution broadcaster looks back at his favorite moments from the first 99 meetings in this rivalry

The first meeting between the York Revolution and Lancaster Barnstormers this past June marked the 100th regular season meeting in the new “War of The Roses” series.  So with that in mind, we wanted to take a look back and revisit some of our greatest moments in the history of Revolution vs. Barnstormers.

It’s a rivalry that has already included an epic postseason series, down-to-the-wire battles for Community Cup rights, record-setting offensive performances, great pitching duels and a little bit of everything else.

There were some tough decisions here.  And decisions aren’t my strength.  Which Revs shirt to wear?  What to eat?  This wasn’t easy; I tried to use some reasoning to come to my conclusions.  Each postseason win has its own spot in the top 10, those are the most sacred.  Here is my top 10 Revolution wins in “War of The Roses” series history. 

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The Marlins just played “Moneyball.” So why are people so upset?

Editors note:  We haven’t strayed off the beaten path of Revolution baseball here lately, but we’re all baseball fans, and this time of year, the stove is piping hot, so to speak.  The Marlins-Blue Jays trade is the hot topic this week, so feel free to digest what’s below, and if you have an opinion or thought, please put it the comments.     

Paul Braverman

When news broke Tuesday evening that the Miami Marlins had traded Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others to the Toronto Blue Jays, my predominately baseball-themed feed on Twitter was a mixture of (figurative) head shaking and outrage.  Any time something remotely controversial happens in baseball, the familiar accusations of “bad for baseball” and “no one cares about the fans” start to fly, and reaction to this news was no different.  Some even laughably compared this fire sale to the one the Marlins had after the 1997 season, key difference being that club won the World Series, and this one lost 93 games, and was 24 games worse than the upstart Baltimore Orioles.

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Revolution get their shout out during ESPN broadcast

Leading up to Saturday’s Bridgeport-Sugar Land game being broadcast in its entirety on ESPN Classic, I was facetiously asking why ESPN wouldn’t broadcast an Atlantic League game from Sovereign Bank Stadium, considering the Revolution had won the league title the last two years.  Okay, so the Skeeters signed Roger Clemens.  3/5 of York’s rotation also pitched in the Major Leagues (Corey Thurman, Ryan Feierabend, Chris Waters), so what’s the big deal?

I kid, I kid.  I was pacified though, when the ESPN crew was going over some facts about the Atlantic League.  We did get a shout out mid-game, accompanied by this screen graphic.  I was a little disappointed they didn’t mention the Revs had won the last two ALPB titles, but I was still pumped to see and hear our name on national TV.  So much so, I am over-looking the fact that ESPN spelled “Rickey” Henderson’s name wrong.  Former Revs-turned-Skeeters Octavio Martinez and Michael Nix also got some awesome face time as well, as Nix entered to relieve Clemens in the fourth, with Martinez catching the whole game and the seven-time Cy Young winner.

This was actually the second time the Revolution has gotten some pub on an ESPN Network.  Some of you may remember Brooks Robinson giving an interview on Mike & Mike in the Morning in 2008, prior to his statue being unveiled outside our ballpark.  A couple days before, I remember UPSing Greenberg and Golic personalized Revolution jerseys, and Golic actually wore his the whole show.  That was a great day for the Atlantic League, as was last night’s 1-0 Skeeters win over the Bluefish on live, national TV.  It’s an exciting time to be in the league.

-Paul Braverman


Roger Clemens Notebook and some musings

Now that the media attention around Roger Clemens signing with the Sugar Land Skeeters is coming to a head with his start on Saturday night, I’ve gathered up a few miscellaneous facts and opinions.  No matter what your opinion is of Clemens, there is no doubt this week has been tremendous for our league from an exposure standpoint, which benefits all the clubs, not just Sugar Land and Bridgeport, their opponent this weekend.

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Triple-A Yankees poach a Revolution employee, roll out finalists for new name

The Revolution suffered a front office defection a few days back when Client Services Coordinator Karen Luciano left the club for a similar position with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in the Triple-A International League.  The Yankees top farm club, after spending this season on a 142-game road trip, will move back into freshly-renovated PNC Field for next season.  Their “home base” for this season was league rival Rochester’s Frontier Field, where they played a bunch of their “home games” and temporarily re-branded as the “Empire State Yankees.”

So good for Karen, and she’ll have tons of fun over the next six months ordering brand new signage for what basically amounts to a brand new ballpark.  Pretty cool.  Adding to all those fresh signs is a total re-branding effort by SWB, who will still be affiliated with the Yankees, but will no longer be called that.  Apparently “Yankees” as a nickname has alienated a few Phillies fans in the greater Scranton area.  Go figure on that one.

SWB rolled out finalists for their new moniker this week to be voted on by fans, which stirred up good memories of when “Revolution” beat out such competitors as “Choppers, Dukes and Steel Horses.”  Not a bad bunch, but I’m glad Revolution won.  Below and after the jump are the names and explanations for our soon-to-be-renamed Pennsylvania neighbors to the north, taken from the official team release.  My comments on each are in bold.

For SWB, this will be their third name since 2007.  Phillies fans will remember that prior to their top farm club becoming the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons were a Phillies affiliate for years until the franchise went to the Yankees after the 2006 season.

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Newest Long Island Duck: “This is like getting called up to the big leagues”

This post has decidedly nothing to do with the York Revolution, other than a reminder that although York doesn’t have a Major League Baseball team, having an Atlantic League club is pretty awesome.

The Abilene Prairie Dogs of the North American League  did what a lot of teams do in the lower-level leagues of independent baseball, they allowed one of their best players to leave for a chance to compete in the Double-Triple-A-ish Atlantic League.  It’s not uncommon for a team in the Frontier League to also let players spread their wings too, as that is a league for much younger players compared to the ALPB.

Needless to say Abilene’s best starting pitcher Adam Rowe, in his ninth minor league season, is a little excited about getting a chance in our league.  Read the official release from Abilene below.  I guess word has gotten around that we have a pretty good brand of baseball here.

-Paul Braverman

ABILENE, TX – There is little doubt that they are sad to see him go. There is less of doubt that they will miss his contribution on the field. But the Prairie Dogs have mixed emotions about watching Adam Rowe leave town. While they lose the ace of their staff, they are also ecstatic for the southpaw who has now pitched his way to the top of independent baseball. On Sunday, Abilene traded both their ace and pitching coach to the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League, widely considered the best Independent baseball league in America. In return, the Dogs will receive cash consideration.

“It was great working with these guys”, Rowe said. “I enjoyed my time here as a member of this team and as the pitching coach, but I’m also excited for the next opportunity.”  Rowe, a nine-year minor league veteran, got the rare opportunity to serve both as the ace of the staff and as a mentor for many of the younger pitchers on the Abilene roster.

In 12 starts with the Prairie Dogs, Rowe posted a 2.75 ERA while firing at least six innings and allowing three earned runs or fewer in all but two of his starts. Perhaps the most impressive part of Rowe’s arsenal is his command. The lefty featured five different starts this season in which he did not walk a batter.

The move is a great opportunity for Rowe, 30, to advance his career. According to the team’s website, the Ducks have had more than 60 players signed to deals with major league clubs since the organization’s inception in 2000. Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 20th round of the 2004 Amateur Draft, the Rowe reached high A in the California League in 2006 before beginning his career in Independent baseball in 2007.

For the moment, Rowe’s spot will remain vacant as the Dogs have yet to announce who will serve as the team’s pitching coach through the final five weeks of the season.

“This is amazing”, said Rowe on Sunday between games of a doubleheader in San Angelo. “For me, this is like getting called up to the Big Leagues.”