Thursday, September 30, 2021

Is This T-Shirt Wrong?

Durham Bulls Championship T-Shirt, as of Sep 26th

Well, maybe. Deep in the footnotes of the so-called "Final Stretch" standings is this phrase:

Additionally, among all 30 clubs, a single 2021 Triple-A Final Stretch Winner will be crowned across both leagues based on highest overall winning percentage during a 10-game schedule immediately following the originally scheduled championship season.

And guess who leads in the "Final Stretch" standings? After last night's game in Norfolk, your Durham Bulls. They are at 6-0, followed at 5-1 by the Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado), the Buffalo Bisons (Toronto), and the Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee). Standings.

So, if the Bulls win this one, are they going to offer an improved version of the T-Shirt? Maybe a swap for a replacement edition. Am I stuck with an out-of-date shirt?

Watch this space.

In the meantime, the American League East is in its final days and four teams remain in competition for two slots. C'mon Blue Jays.

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Last Hurrah for 2021

 The last homestand of the Durham Bulls for 2021 saw some really good baseball. the Bulls went 5-0 against a decent Gwinnett Braves team.

To be honest, in spite of all of Patrick Kinas' and Scott Pose's effort,  I've not been able to get my head around what these last 10 games are all about. They don't count for season standings. They do count for individual stats. 

Not to be too cynical about it, it seems to me to be mostly for the MLB teams that have some playoff hopes. They can keep guys playing baseball without having to make a roster decision until the end of next week.

Meanwhile, a great season for us, the fans. As the back of the T-shirt proclaims

The Bulls won:

  • The Surf & Turf Challenge — Shrimp (Jacksonville) vs Steak (Durham)
  • Triple-A East/Southeast Division Champions
  • Triple-A East Champions
  • Triple-A National Champions

I even heard a broadcaster (Charlotte, maybe?) refer to the Bulls as the "Evil Empire" of Triple-A. 

The Bulls are off to Norfolk for a five-game wrap-up of the season. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

American League Wild Card Race Fun to Watch

Click on image for larger view


Watching the AL Wild Card for the next couple of weeks is going to be fun. The  Red Sox are on a roll. The Blue Jays have run from 7 games above .500 to 19 games above .500 in just a month. The Yankees fell from 22 above to 16 above in that same month. Meanwhile, the Mariners and the Athletics aren't completely out of it. Now that the Blue Jays have left St Pete, I'm cheering for them and anyone but Red Sox and Yankees for the Wild Card.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

What a Great Year for Durham Bulls Baseball

 Well, the Durham Bulls wrapped up the season at the best team in Triple-A Baseball. With 77 wins against just 43 losses, their record could not be beaten. And, just to show how good the team was [geek alert!], if you run a Pythagorean Expectation against their numbers, they should/could have been even better! 82-38. 

As hitters, their team OPS was .810, the best in the Triple-A East. Their team ERA was 3.38, just a couple of points behind Buffalo. Their pitchers held opponents to a .217 average, also the best in the league.

They like to run — 133 stolen bases. They hit hard, 175 home runs. Decent plate discipline: 1101 strikeouts, 11th in league, 489 walks, 4th. 

But you've got to keep coming back to scoring runs. They scored 34 more runs than the #2 team in the league (Toledo Mud Hens).

Some of my favorite players this year were (see this link for details):

Estaban Quiroz, who ended up with the team-leading OPS of .962 in 239 plate appearances. Nevertheless, he didn't get the playing time of some of the prospects such as Taylor Walls and Wander Franco.

Josh Lowe and Dalton Kelly were the reliable power hitters. Lowe got his callup. Kelly did not ... yet.

Have to say that I just liked watching Ryan Boldt, Vidal Brujan, and Miles Mastrobuoni play baseball. 

I always keep an eye on catchers. Brett Sullivan and Rene Pinto did just fine.

Gotta admit that being an extended bullpen for the Tampa Bay Rays makes it hard to keep track of pitchers. Suffice to say that 49 (!!!) different players wore a Bulls uniform on the mound this year. Ranging from Brent Honeywell with 76⅔ innings to Matt Wisler's 1 inning. Most years I do a better job of tracking these guys. This year I did not. 

The Bulls come to town tonight for this very odd 5-game "extension" against the Gwinnett Strippers, I team I wish we played a lot more this year. They and Jacksonville played some good games against the Bulls this year.

Oh,  Wander Franco is back in town on a rehab assignment.

Great year Bulls. Looking forward to 2022!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Bring Back the International League


International League Governors' Cup

Let's talk about what should be happening right now, right here in Durham, North Carolina. We should be having a Governors' Cup playoffs (or at least getting ready for them). Remember the International League? It lasted for 136 years until Major League Baseball murdered it. If you won the championship, you got your name on the cup. The Durham Bulls won the cup six times.

Given the current standings, the Durham Bulls would now be in a best-of-five series with either the Triple-A Northeast winner, the Buffalo Bisons; the Triple-A Midwest, the Toledo Mud Hens; or the wild card team, either the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders or the Gwinnett Stripers. 

Now wouldn't that be fun? Of course, it would be. Would it have taken a lot of thought to set up? Of course not. One problem would be finding the Governors' Cup. Does anyone know where it is? Do the Columbus Clippers still have it?

What we are stuck with is, to his credit, broadcaster Patrick Kinas promoting an entirely artificial "Triple-A East Championship". Spoiler alert: The Durham Bulls have a 2½ game lead over Buffalo. Well, better than nothing. But think about what could have been.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

How About Them Blue Jays?

 As 2021 began, Charlie Montoyo's Blue Jays were doing OK, even though they had not played at "home" for a year and a half. Now, take a look at where they are! Essentially in a three-way tie for the American League, the Blue Jays just got back to Toronto a few weeks ago. And look where they are now! Shabash! Now, don't push the Rays away, but no love here for the Yankees or Red Sox. So keep at it ... after the Rays leave town.