2010: Closing Thoughts
In case you didn’t already see it, the LumberKings fell to Lake County in game five of the MWLCS on Monday night in Eastlake, OH. The Captains, newcomers to the Midwest League are champions for the first time.
I wanted to take time out to give you some of my parting thoughts on what has been a thrilling season for the franchise and myself.
- In spending Spring Training down the the Peoria Sports Complex for the second time in the last two years, I heard a lot about the expected Clinton roster from folks around the Mariners organization and immediately got excited. To be able to start the season with Nick Franklin, James Jones, Vinnie Catricala, Dennis Raben, Anthony Vasquez, Jimmy Gillheeney and some of the other names from the Opening Day roster, it was immediately apparent that the Mariners were giving us their top talent. Seattle’s commitment to giving that talent some experienced leadership was also evident with the announcement of John Tamargo, Dwight Bernard and Terry Pollreisz as the field staff back in December. The anticipation for the players and staff this season surpassed any of my previous four years.
- I had never broadcasted a walk-off homer (in a win, anyways) with the LumberKings. That trend ended with Clinton’s first win on April 9 when Kalian Sams hit the first of his two walk-off blasts of the year. I remember thinking after that cold Spring night that maybe this club had a knack for the dramatic. Sams would give us another walk-off, Franklin would do it as well, and the Kings would win 13 times in their last at-bat during the regular-season. That’s plenty dramatic for me.
- Finally, someone broke the Dick Kenworthy record. Franklin accomplished what Samone Peters, John Mayberry Jr., Mauro Gomez and Jonathan Greene could not…hit one over that outfield wall 23 times in a season. It was my pleasure to announce each and every one, even though I wish I could have called #23 more dramatically. I guess after seeing the record challenged so many times, I was surprised to see him do it. Maybe Franklin’s record won’t stand for 49 years, but his season will live on in Clinton baseball lore.
- Erasmo Ramirez is not only an amazing control artist and the league’s top right-handed pitcher, he’s also a pretty awesome human being. His excitement and humility shined through every time I interviewed him or even talked with him. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about if you listened to my interview with him following his All-Star selection.
- Wow, did Jones and Matt Cerione make plate adjustments. Both hit around .200 in the first half and went on to finish the season over .260. Jones was solid all second half and Cerione was just about unstoppable over the final month of the season.
- Mario Martinez is a big-league third baseman defensively right now. He’s a little too aggressive offensively at times, but that will be reeled in as he continues to develop. For his age (just 20 years old), he was scary good in his second taste of the MWL.
- The additions of Tom Wilhelmsen, Yoervis Medina and Mickey Wiswall in August reinvigorated the team and are probably the three most important late acquisitions this team has seen in recent memory. Wilhelmsen and Medina combined to go 11-1 while Wiswall provided another power bat in the middle of an already-stacked lineup. Was there a game more electric than the West clincher over Kane County when Tom fired 7.0 scoreless innings and Mickey added the game-winning two-run homer? I think not.
- Winning the West is nothing to scoff at. Going 5-1 in playoff elimination games is also something to hang our hats on. I’ll be plenty proud to brag about our West title all fall and winter.
- An Alliant Energy Field playoff crowd is the loudest there is. Lake County fans were loud once guided by their on-field emcee. Not our crowd. Even though Brad Seward does a great job pumping people up, I still contend that our fans are the most knowledgeable and dedicated in this league.
- Watching another team storm the field and take the championship trophy wasn’t as heartbreaking as I thought it might be, but it does fuel me for next year. With plenty of members of the 2010 Northwest League Champion Everett AquaSox and an equally-good Pulaski Mariners club, maybe we’ll get a shot at this again.
- Finally, I had my biggest online listening crowd EVER for Game Five, and I know a lot of you that read this blog were tuned in. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for the responses and emails I get from listeners. Also, the fact that this blog continues to rank in the MLBlogs Top 50 astounds me. It makes me want to continue to provide you fresh content in every way I can.
The season may be over, but the LumberBlog is not. Stay tuned for plenty of features this offseason, many of which I’m currently brainstorming. If you have any suggestions, comments, questions, etc. you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, enjoy the hard-earned West title and enjoy your offseason!