A couple of things make it easy to tell when late August rolls around in Independent Baseball, and I am not talking pennant or playoff races even though they make it the best time of year.
First, teams start signing players from the Mexican League, where play is winding down and big arms or bats can solidify a postseason run. While I have never personally liked seeing a team "load up" this way, it is very natural. If the player is available and a team has salary cap room, well, it is going to happen.
Second, this is the time when we see records starting to tumble. Many times it is a season record, but the Frontier League had a career mark tumble this week when Chris Sidick of Washington, PA broke the mark for games played. Sidick moved past the previous mark of 411 games, which had been owned by Fran Riordan, who now is both Director of Baseball Operations and Manager of the Kalamazoo (MI) Kings. I cannot help but wonder how many of today's players realize what a playing career Fran had.
THE FUN OF FENWAY
It had to be quite a thrill for a pair of former Indy leaguers to get to play a regular league game recently at Boston's Fenway Park. The Red Sox scheduled a doubleheader in which their Double-A and Triple-A teams visited the Green Monster and all of the quirks the venerable ballpark offers. It was not an empty stadium, either, with 16,126 fans counted.
Daniel Nava, who started his Independent Baseball career in Chico, CA (Golden League), went one-for-three, scored a run and played rightfield as his Portland, ME mates edged Baltimore's Class AA Bowie, MD, 3-2. On the losing side and hitting cleanup was first baseman Eric Crozier, who was in the Atlantic League (Southern Maryland) earlier this season. Crozier, who also has played for Lancaster, PA, had a single in two at-bats. Crozier did play 14 major league games with Toronto in 2004, but did not face Boston.
In the Triple-A game, the Pawtucket, RI (Boston) starter was knuckleballer Charlie Zink, who started one game for the parent Bosox last season (his only major league appearance). He was charged with a 7-3 loss to the New York Mets' Norfolk, VA farmhands.