It appears the Atlantic League will be thrust squarely into the middle of the suddenly blazing National League East race Wednesday night. Pretty good for Independent Baseball, right?
New York Mets Manager Jerry Manuel says either Nelson Figueroa or Brandon Knight will get the ball that night to face the Washington Nationals. Both have pitched in the Atlantic League, with Knight at Somerset, NJ all of last year (12-5, 4.03) and earlier this season (0-2, 2.56 in six starts). Figueroa spent a little time with the Long Island (NY) Ducks in 2006.
MAJOR LEAGUERS GET LATEST INDY LEAGUE TITLES
How is this for big names on the major league stage winning Independent Baseball titles?
Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who has made it well known he would like to be a big-league manager, got to celebrate the Golden League championship this season when his Orange County Flyers pushed across two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning of the deciding fifth game for a 10-9 victory over Calgary. The Flyers are based in Fullerton, CA, which just happens to be Carter's former hometown.
And Hal Lanier, the 1986 Manager of the Year in the National League for leading Houston to a 96-66 record, took Sussex (Augusta, NJ) from worst-to-first in the Can-Am League. Lanier, a longtime fixture in the Northern League, brought the Skyhawks from a slow start this season to a 3-0 sweep of Quebec in the Can-Am Championship Series. Sussex won 6 of 7 in the playoffs with Matt Weston's three homers, 10 RBI and a .333 average leading the way.
Some excellent photos of Sussex's championship run can be found at http://www.njherald.com/.
Jermy Acey, who hit .374 with 21 homers and a league-record 97 RBI during the regular season, was a standout for Orange County with four homers, 12 runs batted in and a .357 average for the entire playoffs although this reporter cannot help but wonder what would have happened to this series if Darryl Brinkley had stayed with Calgary. The 39-year-old hit .399 for the Vipers one year ago and .351 with 60 RBI this season, but his last game was August 28. He joined Bridgeport, CT of the Atlantic League in early September (while Calgary was still playing), where he has been a part-time outfielder, hitting .250 (6-for-24) with two RBI.
WEATHER WOES IN MIDWEST
The Kansas City (KS) T-Bones and defending champion Gary, IN are scheduled to get their Northern League championship series, which stands at a game apiece, back on track in Gary Monday night. The teams have not played since Wednesday. In the Frontier League, three consecutive postponements have continued to push the start of the Windy City (Crestwood, IL) vs. Kalamazoo, MI finals back. The new start date in Kalamazoo is Tuesday evening.
WE JUMPED THE GUN
We apparently jumped the gun by saying International League Pitcher of the Year Charlie Zink was back with the parent Boston Red Sox, even though we saw it on a MLB transaction list. It must have been one of those "recalled, not to report" transactions since the knuckleball hurler remains on Boston's 40-man roster. That puts the total of former Independent players in the majors at 26, including disabled Luke Hochevar (Kansas City).