Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Bulls at Mid-Season

 The Bulls are roughly halfway through their season (a bunch of games has been tacked on in September). They are doing very, very well. They lead their division by 4½ games and have the best record in the Triple-A East. For that matter, the best record in Triple-A baseball. Their hitting (OPS) is the best in the league, as is their pitching (ERA, WHIP, and OBA). So there's a lot to like. And I do, I do.

I just don't much like the Triple-A East and its schedule. So far the Bulls have only played 5 teams in a 20-team league. I get that there are only 7 teams in their division. But what's the point if the Bulls never play one of them (the Nashville Sounds, who are in second place)? And another they only play one home and one away set (Memphis, 12 games)? 

The Bulls have played 6 games against Memphis, 24 against Jacksonville, 12 against Charlotte, 16 against Norfolk, and 6 against Gwinnett. These 6-game stands (and the limited number of opponents) mean that the same guys match up over the year—a lot. I don't think I like that. 

I'll restate my old objection, what are these teams playing for? I guess that we geeks can make charts like this to show won/loss differences, but unlike the majors, the mask is off Triple-A, the players are going for individual glory, not for the team. Except that's not true either, if their behavior at a win is any indication. These guys do care about winning as a team. But Major League Baseball has conspired to make their efforts somewhat pointless.

Meanwhile, the Bulls' parent club is doing very well. They are only 1 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. Not that folks down there are noticing. Some nights the Bulls have drawn more fans than the Rays (who only drew 9,900 last night). 

But at least they have decent coverage. So we can go to the St Pete Times to read about the two Durham Bulls who will be pitching in the Olympics, Shane Baz and Joe Ryan. We wish them well.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Durham Bulls Back in Town

 The Durham Bulls came home last night and we got to see them play some good baseball against the Gwinnett Strippers, Atlanta's Triple-A team. Lots of power (6 doubles, 2 home runs) and terrific pitching by Joe Ryan and an 8-3 win. Box.

Meanwhile ...

Ballpark Experience — Areas to work on

  • You'd think that with two weeks to prepare that the DBAP's video board would be working. Half of it was. But you could not see the lineup. Which might be ok if ...
  • We had a program, but we don't have programs. Gotta say that if I was paying to advertise in the Bulls online program, I'd want my money back. Who's reading it? Get your program!
  • The radar gun wasn't working at first, but came on later.
  • The lights on the manual scoreboard (ball, strikes, outs) were not working at the start of the game.
  • The LED board below the fan clubhouse wasn't working, but I don't know if it's been working at all this year.

Ballpark Experience — Attaboys

  • Wool E Bull had his gokart running. Not all around the field, but still ...
  • Some between-inning stuff back near first and third base stands.

By the way, the Bulls are hanging on to first place.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Norfolk to Jacksonville; Franco Moving On

The Durham Bulls had a decent run over in Norfolk, winning 4 of 6 games from the Tides and establishing themselves in first place in the Triple-A East (Southeast). They are 15 games over .500 and lead the Nashville Sounds by 1½ games. Their pitching got slightly worse, the team ERA rose from 3.37 to 3.46. But its run-scoring improved from a run differential of 85 to 94.

So they are off to Jacksonville to play a six-game set with the 3rd place Jumbo Shrimp, without the services of Wander Franco.

Meanwhile, the Bulls' parent club, the Tampa Bay Rays, had an awful road trip. They lost their last 6 games and fell out of first place. Their ERA crept up from 3.21 to 3.38 and their run differential fell from 87 to 73. And they go home to a series against the first-place Red Sox. So, for the few fans likely to show up, there could be some important games ahead. Plus, Wander will be there. Is this a rotten trip why? Maybe. Probably.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Matchup Durham Bulls @ Norfolk Tides


How About the Rays?

 The Tampa Bay Rays are the parent team of the Durham Bulls and are having a terrific year. They are 19 games above .500 in the American League East, ahead of the Red Sox by 3 games. The hitting is not terrific, Team OPS .714 (8th in AL), but pitching is, Team ERA 3.23 (2nd in AL) and Team WHIP 1.10 (1st in AL). And their defense is the best in the AL at .989.

Another way to look at the Rays is through the serious number-crunching being done over at FiveThirtyEight. Their statistical model is updated every night and shows the Rays in a steady upward progression through the season.

Meanwhile, the Bulls are off to Norfolk for 6 games and in a tie with Nashville for first place in the Triple-A East (Southeast).

Monday, June 7, 2021

Durham Bulls Five Weeks In


The Durham Bulls are 29 games into the season and are still looking good. In fact, a little better than the last time we updated. Their nice run in late May and their 3-2 run against Norfolk last week, kept them at 13 games above .500 and just a game back of Nashville, which had an extraordinary 15-game win streak.

Nevertheless, let me gripe some more about the so-called Triple-A East (Southeast). The Nashville Sounds lead the division that the Bulls are in, but the Bulls will not even play them this year. How weird is that? 

Back to the Bulls, though. The team OPS is .849, the best in the entire league. The Bulls team ERA of 3.59 is 2nd, behind the Buffalo Bisons, who just got kicked out of their stadium so the Toronto Blue Jays could play there. A stat that I like, team WHIP (Walks/Hits per Inning) is 1.126 and is also the best in the league.

23 pitchers have stepped up on the mound so far this year, including the severely injured Tyler Zombro. Zombro was reported this morning to have moved out of the ICU over at Duke. We are wishing him well. 

Among the hitters, Wander Franco and Vidal Brujan are getting the most playing time and they are making the best of it. Franco's .922 OPS and Brujan's .949 are among the tops in the league. Brujan is on the Rays' 40-man, Franco is not. But the Rays are looking pretty good in the infield just now, so maybe they both will stay with the Bulls for a bit longer. Brujan also leads the league in stolen bases with 13. 

DBAP notes

  • The DBAP is pretty much open now. Pretty big crowd on Saturday (7,100), a bit smaller on Sunday (5,400).
  • They had food trucks on Saturday up on the right-field concourse.
  • The center-field gate was open on Saturday
  • Still no printed program, which I find very annoying. Should not have to dig out my phone just to find a player's name. 
  • I'm guessing there's some kind of "bubble" around the players. All of the in-game entertainment is in the outfield.
  • Noticed the extension of the screens to the end of the baselines.