Category Archives: Baseball
Sunday 12th January saw Milton Keynes Baseball & Softball clubs hold it’s AGM. For those of you new to my blog, I play Baseball and have been playing for Milton Keynes these last two seasons. Milton Keynes have a very good set up and it was very welcoming to me when I first turned up for training back in January 2012.
Milton Keynes currently have two Baseball Teams. These are The Bucks who play at AAA Level and The Coyotes who were formed in 2013 who play at A Level. Milton Keynes also have a Softball team called the MK Diamonds. Combined there are currently 80 players/members who are involved in these 3 teams which is a fantastic position to be in. Milton Keynes have ambitious visions for the future. This includes 4 Baseball Teams (Playing across the 4 leagues including National & AA on top of the current AAA & A levels) and 2 Softball Teams to compete in the Corporate League and Tournaments.
Off the playing diamond there are plans to engage local schools and colleges in order to set up a recognized youth development program. This is one of the requirements for having a team
in the National Baseball League (NBL) which is the highest level in the UK.
The AGM had a good turnout with 29 members present for the voting in of committee members as well as viewing the presentation. Our Chairman Jon Reynolds painted an extremely positive picture for Milton Keynes both on and off the diamond. In Baseball The MK Bucks won their AAA Midlands League Division and in their debut season the MK Coyotes made the single A Play-Offs as well as winning the Midlands Minor League (MML) trophy in Leicester. In Softball the MK Diamonds made it through to the Semi-Finals of the Loughborough Tournament, their best performance in a major tournament to date.
All positions were up for voting and the key highlights saw Jon Reynolds re-elected as Chairperson. Ernie Ayala was voted in again as Team Manager for the MK Bucks and Mo Hamden will take over as Team Manager for the MK Coyotes as well as head of Baseball Operations. Team Treasurers for Baseball & Softball will be Sid Benbow and Robyn Burgess respectively. Head of Softball Operations will be held again by Chris Borah and Hedley Bevan was unanimously voted in as Softball Secretary. Rachael Collyer has the vitally important role of Youth Development and Trevor Burgess will be running the Clubs Media.
Good luck to all of the people above, I feel they are the right people for the job and with the clubs combined support it will ensure Milton Keynes grows together as a club.
2014 is going to be one exciting year for all currently involved and also to those who wish to get involved. To check out Milton Keynes Club and the opportunities available to support or play please check out the links below:-
Good luck to MK Bucks, Coyotes and Diamonds in 2014!
What a season, if opposites could be book ends then last year would be on one side of the longest book shelf in the world. This year is sitting prominently on the other side, proudly showing off to the world. What a contrast, from the bottom of the American East in 2012 to the World Champions in 2013, this really is hard to comprehend. One things for sure, the film directors will be circling Fenway Park in the aftermath of the celebrations documenting all the events that led to a truly memorable night, one that was last seen over 80 years ago!
Being a British Baseball fan is pretty awesome, it’s a sport that I’ve been playing for a couple of seasons and one that is growing in the UK. Seeing the NFL being played in London is something that one day I dream of happening with the MLB. Baseball is a fantastic sport, god I’m so envious of the Americans having it on their door step. I’ve been a Red Sox supporter for three seasons and I have to be honest that for some unknown reason I’ve always loved Boston as a city, this is strange because I’ve never been. I started listening to baseball games on the radio in the early hours before I started watching them live on MLB TV.
The season itself was a fantastic journey, Boston were winning series against The New York Yankees, The Orioles and The Rays with some devastating displays. On the road we were winning at tricky grounds like Seattle, The Angels and Cleveland. A team that flirted with a .500 record last year were suddenly winning, winning in commanding style. The streak at one point hit 8 games and as we marched over .600 the dream was fast becoming a reality. Boston clinched the American East Division with a handful of games to go and they beat Oakland to the best overall record in the East. Something that I believe was fundamental in our success.
Beating The Rays 3-1 in the American East Division Final with little trouble showed the gulf in quality between Boston and their closest rivals. It also demonstrated the believe that this was a team that was ready to claim the title. When we were drawn against Detroit, a team that we had little success against in the regular season, I was curious as to how we would compete. We didn’t just compete, we went to Detroit and battled our way to a couple of massive wins. Heading back to Boston 3-2 ahead was a dream and one we completed at the first time of asking.
I made a deal to myself that I would grow a beard (just like the team) in an effort to show my support. I also made it a priority to watch as much of the World Series live as I had this superstition that if I didn’t watch it, that we would lose. Ironically the two games I didn’t watch we did lose, so it was a test of my stamina to stay awake till 4 in the morning.
The World Series was a spectacle and my somewhat biased prediction of a 4-2 win was true. Each game had it’s drama, from the overturned out at 2nd base in Game 1 through to the Middlebrook “trip” in Game 3 that saw the Cards go 2-1 up with a hotly contested walk off win.
If there was one person who almost single handedly won the World Series for Boston, it was David Ortiz. Big Papi was on fire, going into Game 4 he had made it to first base on all 11 of his plate appearances. It got to the point in Game 6 that the only way The Cards could stop him, was by intentionally walking him. David Ortiz rallied the team through some testing times and was awarded the MVP trophy.
Boston Red Sox, thank you! It has been an absolute delight this season. I have been truly blessed with some high quality individual and team performances. These guys have shown how you can succeed, even when things are against you. This has been rewarded with the highest accolade possible, The World Series.
My five stand out players this year have been:-
1. David Ortiz
2. Dustin Pedroia
3. John Lester
4. John Lackey
And what about the coach, wow! Not bad for a debut season. The last time a coach won the World Series in his debut year was 2006. I’m pretty certain this won’t be repeated anytime soon.
So a fairy tale week of Baseball saw the Boston Red Sox dispose of the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS Semi Finals. The best of five series was over in four fiercely contested battles, for which a Lobaton inspired Walk Off Homer in Game 3 spared the Rays of a White Wash for Boston.
Game 1 saw Jon Lester square up
Against Matt Moore at Fenway Park. A tight opening saw the Rays take a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 4th inning. It was at this point that the game was blown away with an explosive eight run blast. Five runs in the 4th and Three in the 5th helped by hits from Pedroia, Ortiz and Gomes whose monster hit bounced off the Green Monster to bring in a double. The Rays spirit was blown away and with Four more runs coming in the 8th the rout was complete. Lester threw 7 2/3 innings with 114 pitches in one of his strongest games this season. The only runs for the Rays came off two homers with a final score of 12-2 to Boston. 1-0 Boston heading into Game 2….
Saturday night saw John Lackey take the mound in a battle against David Price. Unlike the first game, Boston found themselves ahead from the 1st inning. David Ortiz hit his first homer of the night in the 2nd inning and by the time this game reached the 5th inning, Boston were 5-1 up and looking to put the hapless Rays to the sword. James Loney hit a double to bring the Rays back to within 2 runs, before Jacoby Ellisbury who had a three hit game brought one back in for the Red Sox. Ortiz who beamed about feeling like 20 again hit his second home run of the night in the 8th, as the Red Sox won 7-4 and headed to Tropicana Fields with a 2-0 series lead. Special mention to Uehara who threw 11 strikes from 11 pitches to claim the save in the 9th inning.
Monday night saw the Red Sox travel to Tampa Bay with a series whitewash in their sights. Clay Buchholz faced up against Alex Cobb as the tension started to build around Tropicana Fields. A win would keep the Rays alive, whilst a win for Boston would see them through to their first ALCS Final since 2008. The game started positively as the Red Sox saw themselves grind out a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 5th before the Rays hit back. Clay who pitched 6 innings was unfortunate on his way to 114 pitches. Despite heading into the top of the 9th inning 4-3 down, Boston came back to drive in a tying run. Step up Lobaton who hit the walk off homer to take the series into a 4th game.
It was up to Jake Peavy on Tuesday night to bring home the Red Sox as tensions grew on from last nights walk off defeat. The Tampa Bay crowd proved a hostile bunch as a full house hoped to take this back to Boston for a decider. 5 closely fought innings saw no score before the Rays brought in the opening run in the bottom of the 6th inning through Escobar. It was in the top of the 7th that the Red Sox hit back through Ellsbury and Bogaerts and a pinch hit from Bogaerts saw the series clinching run scored in the 9th. Uehara threw a 1-2-3 9th inning including Longoria to end the series. The scenes of jubilation that followed were a fitting chapter as the season moves on into the ALCS Final.
Boston now awaits the winner of Detroit and Oakland as their series is locked at 2-2. I am not sure who I’d rather see us play, however with the first games at Fenway Park it’s really a case of who would rather take on the Red Sox. Either way there is a welcome break until Saturday when the teams square up for Game 1 at Fenway Park.
Go Boston!! The dream continues…..
The turn around from last years debacle led by the sacrificial lamb of Bobby Valentine has been completed. Saturday saw the Boston Red Sox claim the American East Division Championship ironically against John Farrell’s previous team the Toronto Blue Jays. There has been no end of articles and posts since the American East title was claimed all stating the amazing turnaround as nothing less than “a miracle”. There are even people calling this the greatest Modern day Baseball story in a long while. Either way I think this success has been down to a few factors.
Reengaging the old guard is one of the main factors. As 2012 drew to a close it was clear that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia were not enjoying life at Fenway Park. Farrell who really should have been appointed once Francona left has got them believing again. At one point in the close season it looked as if Ortiz was talking up a move to our rivals the New York Yankees. It became apparent that the right appointment as Head Coach would need to get these guys buying into his vision. This season it has happened and Ortiz who has played 132 games has managed 28 home runs and over 90 RBI. These stats alone show that Big Papi is back and ready to carry this on into the World Series. Dustin has featured in 155 games and where his Home Runs have faltered, he has stepped up to the plate and has brought in a higher RBI figure in the 80’s than 2 of his last 3 seasons. These combined facts and performances are a major catalyst behind this seasons success.
John Farrell has been nothing short of a blessing in disguise. His no nonsense approach has paid big dividends. Many including myself thought seeing Adrian Gonzalez leave with Cody Ross as big reactive decisions. Who would have thought that this would actually work in our favor as the season developed. Another of the big successes has been with the Pitching. If Clay Buchholz hadn’t of injured himself in June then it’s a safe bet that his 11-1 Record would’ve been higher. My personal highlight has been Jon Lester, he certainly has had a strong second half to this season. Jon Lester could’ve left Fenway Park after 2012 and after the first couple of months this year, many thought a trade off was possible. It’s been a fantastic change around and in the recent series victories over the NYY and San Francisco Giants, Jon has shown his true world class ability. Felix Doubront and John Lackey have also provided sterling support for a strong Pitching line up.
There have been many other success stories this season. I’ve been really impressed with Mike Napoli who joined from Texas. He has always stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods when the games have seemed dead and buried. Salty has also made some big hits and it’s safe to say that this year should see him rewarded with a new contract. He has been a reliable Catcher and has had more than his fair share of critics in 2012. The final person I’d like to mention is Koji Uehara, he has had a fantastic debut season since his move from Texas. 20 saves and 98 strike outs in a season which saw him retire over 30 batters in a row highlighted his special ability.
So as we head into the final few games there is still so much to play for. Ideally we will be hoping for a Home Plate advantage. We are locked in a battle with the Oakland A’s for this reward and as things stand we are 1 1/2 games clear of them. I think 5 more wins will see us claim this morale boosting advantage and as things currently stand we look set to claim one of these against the Blue Jays tonight. World Series 2013 Baseball is going to be one amazing ride, the important thing is that the Red Sox Nation will be part of it.
Tonight I’ve been thinking about something that takes up a large proportion of my time everyday, sport. I am a sports fan, I love following different types of sport which in turn results in supporting different teams.
Everyday it starts the same. I will switch on my Bat 2013 Application just as my alarm goes to check how the Boston Red Sox are doing. It gives me a kick start or a knock back depending on the result. I won’t lie but this usually influences my mood during my car trip into work.
When I went to Australia and spent 2008 there, I watched Australian Rules Football. I didn’t just go to one game, no not me, I went to all their games and bought a Season Ticket. I went to training sessions, visited their ground and met the President and Trophy Rooms. I didn’t just want to be a bit involved, I wanted to make that team my own. For those wondering who I’m talking about, I chose the Carlton Blues. Because of this I find myself watching their games each weekend at the crack of dawn due to the time difference in Victoria, Australia.
I also love Cricket, I watch England play and saw England lift The Ashes in 2005. I follow Yorkshire and will always follow their scores be it, County Cricket, 40 Overs or Twenty Twenty Forms of the game.
I am a Rugby Fan of both forms, Union and League. I will go to Headingly and watch the Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie play. I will always watch their games on Sky Sports and follow the team news online. When I travelled to Bath this year I even went to the Bath v Leicester Game and had my photo taken on their pitch. I am a nut, I have to be involved and be part of the team.
This leads me finally to Football, my number one love. I am a massive Leeds United fan thanks to my Dad. I’ve been a fan since 1989 and have so many fond and not so fond memories of the Whites. I’ve been to so many games and will always check the games on Sky and Twitter when I can’t make the game. I do still wish I lived a stones throw from Elland Road but I don’t let that put me off.
My Grandad is a Leeds fan too but is a Hibernian fan as he grew up in Edinburgh. I will always look out for Hibernians results and this is partly because I love having the conversation with him on the phone.
In conclusion some will say I’m greedy but if there is one thing I can confirm, I love sport. In my eyes to show true commitment to my teams, it’s only fair that I give them all the time they deserve. I am still waiting for a weekend where they all win!
Oh and please don’t get me started on shirts. I have a huge collection of Leeds United, Leeds Rhinos, Leeds Carnegie, Yorkshire, Carlton, Boston Red Sox and other sports tops which I will wear when necessary.
So the drive back today was kind and we made it back in just over 5 hours. We didn’t quite get the dry morning that we were promised on the forecast, so a wet tent and canopy were packed up ready to be put back up to dry out at my partners Dads farm. It was certainly a great holiday and its scary to think a week and one day has flown by so quickly. As I lie down chilling after a well needed bath and shave its made my mind wander a bit. I’ve noticed that the amount of beard I’ve grown is far less than if I’d been working for the same length of time. Am I going crazy or does facial hair need a break too to relax and slow down? I’m also dreading the fact I’ve got an Alarm going off at 6:10am. I’ve not had an alarm for these last 8 days, why do I already hate you Alarm!? On a more positive note I’m loving the fact I will have a comfy nights sleep in our bed, that beats the blow up air bed any day of the week!
It’s occurred to me that since I’ve started this blog I’ve not spoken much about my beloved Leeds United. Now for those of you now groaning and switching away I’m sorry but I have to have a moment. Leeds have gone through a massive transformation this Summer and the rebuilding is not too far from being completed to a satisfactory level. Leeds new owners have reengaged with the supporters, who lets face it had lost all interest in the club towards the end of last season. I won’t bore you all, but in a very small snapshot Leeds United have done it the right way without being GungHo. A new Chairman and Managing Director who talk and listen to the fans. Rebuilt links with the Supporters Club Chairman that had disappeared in the past. A new structure of ticket pricing and membership levels. Reduced Season Ticket prices and back on BBC Radio. All of this and including major new sponsorships with Sky and Heineken plus being close to buying back Elland Road, which was carelessly sold off by the previous regime. Life at Leeds is buoyant and given the fact we also remain unbeaten after the first 4 games this season it reinforces the belief. We are Leeds and we are United, I’ve even paid £40 for my Gold Membership which arrived in the post whilst I was away! Now that’s commitment on my part.
And finally a massive beaming smile and pride as my Baseball team the Milton Keynes Coyotes battled their way into the end of season playoffs. This is our debut and inaugural season for the Coyotes and its being one hell of a roller coaster experience. The final day victory against the London Marauders today was enough to clinch a Play Off game on the 1st September. A special congratulations needs to go out to Sid and Mo who have worked extremely hard to organize the day to day running of the club on the diamond. This completed a double of successes for Baseball in Milton Keynes and despite not playing today am so excited about what the Play Offs will bring. I will keep you all updated as to how they go, I have been told we are playing at Richmond Dukes which will be tricky, but then again all games are. We finished with an 8-6 record over 14 games which has seen some memorable wins along the way. Well done Milton Keynes and Baseball, we have all done the city so very proud this season.
As the weeks holiday comes drawing to a conclusion, it’s at times like these that I wish I had really concentrated on the Back to the Future films. I am sure had I really understood it, that I could have created a device and fitted it to my Car in an attempt to go back to last Saturday when we first arrived here. I would obviously pick the moment after the 7 hour journey and also with the tent and canopy all set up. In fact I would like to be in the exact moment of time where I’m sat down in my chair with a nice cold can of beer in my hand! Not too much to ask for.
Since my last blog we have experienced another couple of days out and about and have ticked off both the Saints from the Cornish town list. We went to St Just on Wednesday and despite initially finding parking spaces a challenge to find, we were able to park up and have a wander around the centre. I had my first Cornish Cream Tea, to which I later discovered had got the Jam and Clotted Cream the wrong way around! Only I could do that and a successful shop in a local Craft Shop provided my partner with some creative options further down the line. We then finished the wander with a nosey of the local church. If there is one thing we have noticed in Cornwall it is the tidy presentation and appearance of their churches. This one was no different, however it did provide me with a chuckle when I discovered a certain book title in their give a way section. You couldn’t script it any better a hardback copy of The Satanic Verses, free to a good home!
The journey took us to Cape Cornwall and another climb to see more amazing scenery off the coastline. Now Cape Cornwall may not sound dramatically interesting, however it is the only point around the entire United Kingdom where two different seas or oceans merge together. I will always try and offer some education along the way and this is my token gesture! Another musing was to discover that the tower on Cape Cornwall was constructed by Heinz as a marker of their decision to purchase Cape Cornwall and donate it to the National Trust. It was exactly at this point I noticed a similarity between the tower and a certain accompaniment to chips!
On Thursday we went to St Ives and just about survived the crowds flocking to soak up the Summer Rays that were hitting the beach and coast lines. St Ives is a lovely place and one that I intend to visit again when it’s not so in season. If you visualize the letter U it gives you the perfect image of St Ives. There are two extremely high points and the main part of the town is in the dip between them. We were parked on one of these high points and walked over to the other, crazy stuff but even more beautiful views to take in. It was here that I learnt the correct way to eat a Cream Tea the proper way and also to discover they aren’t even scones! In a nutshell St Ives is beautiful, creative and has a nice positive vibe to it. There are however a few too many Art Shops each selling exactly the same pictures and prints!
On the way back we went via “St Ives Cider” farm and met the guy behind supplying St Ives with the majority of its Cider. It certainly was an eye opener to say the least. He just finished a 10,000 litre batch of one type and it was then we discovered that he bottled it four at a time! Now that is one effort that needs saluting. The set up was no bigger than two medium storage units and it shows the belief and desire that he has in his product. It was this evening that I finally tasted the Cider that my partners step dad has produced this year. Percy certainly didn’t disappoint and I’m pretty certain that the other bottle I’m lucky enough to have will be enjoyed later this weekend.
Finally I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Milton Keynes Bucks Baseball Team on clinching the AAA title last weekend. I have been very fortunate to play a couple of games for the Bucks this year and its so amazing to be so close to the success. They have played terrific Baseball this year and the First Team are a terrific bunch of guys, well done again you all deserve it so very very much! For my non Baseball followers this is the equivalent of winning the league and earning the first seeded ranking going into the Play Offs. Jon and Ernie a special thanks goes to you guys for making all this possible!
Firstly I totally understand the importance of Departments and whilst we all have hard, challenging jobs and roles at work and at home, there are certain things that I can’t just leave alone. Today I experienced first hand the flawed and mind-boggling logic behind our Marketing Team.
So without using too many colours to paint the scene, I have been running my depot these last few days. I am greeted with the message as I walked back in from the yard to contact, umm… let’s call him Alan from Marketing. Now the message was one of panic, one that seemed to hint that the sole reason of the call was to draw concern and a furied haste from me. Now what could it have been? A missed promotion, a last-minute visit planned or an embarrassing missed proof read on a document that I’d signed off?
Well it was down to a Branch Promotion set up to challenge our biggest rivals, a strategic direct marketing plan to peg them back in a fashion like the arrows on the beginning of Dads Army, poking away at them until they finally retreated. As I called I am told that the email sent to me indicated a selection of Petrol Stations close to our depot in a location that they were based and that I could simply select one to have some “free” advertising set up to inform customers of our Depot.
I understand that Marketing Departments are constructed of people who earn decent money, they are the brains of the company who can steer us into a direction that wasn’t clear to anybody Non-Marketing. That makes up roughly 98% of the people in this country* As I read across I couldn’t help but notice that the postal codes of these Garages were in Enfield, a whole 60 miles away!
So as I told…… Oh yes sorry, Alan, that this proposal wasn’t the slightest bit of use to me or my depot! I am sure I put it with a few more choice words but as I indicated to him that Luton was only 20 miles from me and in my delivery area he realised that the document and email carefully constructed had about as much credibility as Paul Gascoigne applying for a Rail Card!
It was when I suggested to him that our Canning Town Depot 10 miles away would benefit from this location that he realised it was all flawed, to make things even more concerning they weren’t even on the original list of depots to benefit from this! Simply mind-boggling and slightly concerning!
* Made up statistic by me and after this error I’m sure it’s nearer 99% which includes Alan.
Top v Bottom in the form of the MLB (That’s Major League Baseball to all my non following readers) It couldn’t have been simpler, well it shouldn’t have been. That’s why Baseball is oh so completely unpredictable and in typical fashion as soon as I am getting carried away my beloved Boston Red Sox showed how to not only lose to the worst team in MLB, but also in the process they managed to avoid scoring any runs! I am certain that tonight’s second game in this series will be different, well in saying that nothing is predictable.
Finally I see a lot of sights in Queens Park which is where I work in Bedford. Today I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. As I was walking to grab some food for Lunch, I saw one of the many Sikhs walking towards my direction. It wasn’t until we passed each other that I realised he was talking to someone, this was despite not having anyone next to him. It was as he passed I noticed he had his Nokia wedged firmly in his Turban in such a manner it replicated that of a Handsfree Kit, now that is why I love Queens Park! Diverse Culture at its absolute best.