Saturday, July 31, 2010

Perez named VSBB Player of the Month for July

The scribes at the Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) are pleased to announce that Wilver Perez has been named the VSBB Player of the Month for July.

Perez was an offensive spark-plug for the Seals in July, hitting .361 with 4 homers and 24 RBIs. However, his most impressive offensive statistic was his stolen base total: 26 in 27 games played. Perez now has 49 steals on the year and he's two stolen bases away from tying the single-season GBL stolen-base record.

Josh Arhart finished second in the voting for Player of the Month. "Artie" hit .384 with 8 homers and 24 RBIs in July and he continued to find a variety of ways to get on base. Arhart is now tied with Brian Rios for the team lead in on-base percentage with a solid .442 mark, good enough for eighth-best in the league.

Jino Gonzalez earned the third spot in voting by leading the Seals pitching staff with four wins in the month. He had a 3.94 ERA in his five starts in July.

After the first three months of the 2010 season, Josh Arhart is in the lead for VSSB Player of the Year honours. The complete year-to-date standings are as follows:
  • Josh Arhart - 5 points
  • Terrence McClain - 4 points
  • Wilver Perez - 4 points
  • Brian Rios - 3 points
  • Brandon Villafuerte - 1 point
  • Jino Gonzalez - 1 point

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Seals versus the City of Victoria

The tug-of-war between the Seals and the City of Victoria has continued in the media spotlight over the last couple of days:
  • Cleve Dheensaw wrote an article in Friday's T-C downplaying the confrontation between the two parties. However, Kate Friar (Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture for the City of Victoria) seems to be using a defense strategy of claiming that the city is technically complying with their contractual obligations to the Seals. Darren Parker makes an excellent point: You wouldn't expect a pro hockey player to drive a Zamboni, so why does the city expect pro baseball players to work as groundskeepers during and after the game? Can you imagine the glass breaking at a Salmon Kings game and having Wes Goldie and his teammates install a new pane while 4,000 fans wait? Of course not.
  • A portion of the lineup to be endured
    in order to gain the right to purchase a beer
    at a professional ballgame in Victoria
  • Kate Friars spoke with CBC radio on Friday morning on the relationship between the city and the Victoria Seals Baseball Club. The most outrageous part of the interview is when she refers to the "4,000" fans at the Chico Outlaws game (it was 4,753) and then understates the situation by saying there were "a few longer lineups than we'd like." A few? You had a better chance of getting a beer at a St. George Roadrunners game than you did here on Tuesday night (they are dry in that particular Utah ballpark).
  • Darren Parker was also interviewed by Gregor Craigie on CBC radio on Thursday morning. Note: After following this link, advance to the 11:44 mark to hear the interview with Darren.
I recommend you contact Kate Friars and let her know how much the Victoria Seals mean to you. Perhaps tell her that the Seals need a permanent home run fence. Or tell her what you think of the concessions at RAP or the beer lineups when more than 3,000 fans are in attendance. Or maybe tell her what you think of professional pitchers having to prepare their own pitching mound. To send her an email, click here. If you prefer to talk to her by telephone, her number is (250) 361-0355.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Seals blew a 7-1 lead on Friday night to fall 8-7 to the St. George Roadrunners. Isaac Hess got roughed up something fierce and he gave up 7 earned runs (including 11 hits and 3 walks) in 5 2/3 innings. This may end up being a game that the Seals look back on at the end of the season and ask "What if...?".
  • Wilver Perez stole his 49th base on Friday night to move to within two of the GBL record for stolen bases in a season.
  • The Edmonton Capitals and Calgary Vipers both lost on Friday, so the Seals didn't lose any ground in the second-half standings. They still trail the Vipers by 3 games in the North Division standings.
  • The three-game series between the Orange County Flyers and the Victoria Seals on Monday and Tuesday will be played at Fullerton College instead of the Flyers' usual home park at Cal State Fullerton. The Flyers will not be charging admission fees for these games. That's right, the games between OC and Victoria will be free! The Director of Media Relations for the Flyers, Josh Feldman, explains the situation by stating that "We want to showcase our product elsewhere." Hmmmmm...

Listen to the St. George broadcast of tonight's game

Mike Walker won't be doing the play-by-play, but you can listen to the game between the Seals and the Roadrunners here. Game time tonight is 6 PM PST. On Saturday, the first game of the double-header starts at 4 PM PST.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tinkering with the Seals batting order

Have a look at the stats below and tell me which guy should hit second in a team's batting order and which guy should hit fifth:
  • Player A - .367 BA, .448 OBP, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 18 Walks, 7 Strikeouts, 6 SB in 180 AB
  • Player B - .326 BA, .393 OBP, 13 HR, 41 RBI, 24 Walks, 54 Strikeouts, 16 SB in 233 AB
Easy one, right? The player with all the homers, RBIs and strikeouts should bat in the middle of the lineup and the guy with less power, a higher average and almost no strikeouts should bat second, right? Er, not so fast. The Victoria Seals have Player A (Brian Rios) batting fifth and Player B (Terrence McClain) batting second.

I'm hesitant to second-guess manager Kip Gross because he has done a great job managing the Seals this season. He took the job of pitching coach and ended up running the team from day one. When Bret Boone resigned five games into the season, Kip admirably stepped up and officially moved into the manager's role. I appreciate all of his excellent work -- but I'm going to second-guess him anyway.

Rios leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage. He is very difficult to strikeout and he's an excellent contact hitter. T-Mac is a power and RBI man. He strikes out way too much to be used in the number two slot in the batting order (McClain's 54 strikeouts are the second-most in the GBL). I'm guessing that Gross wants T-Mac batting second for his speed, but to be honest the Seals have enough speed in their lineup. Besides, McClain's run-producing abilities are way more beneficial to the team than his 10-steal advantage over Rios.

It's time to fix the Seals batting order by hitting Rios second and moving T-Mac into the heart of the order. Although Victoria has scored 5.9 runs per game this season, they still only rank seventh in the league in runs scored. Having more base runners on with T-Mac at the plate is a sure way to improve on that mark.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Thanks in part to Eri Yoshida, the Victoria Seals now lead the GBL in attendance. Victoria's average of 2,815 fans per game is ahead of the second-place Tucson Toros by 201 fans. In their inaugural season, the Seals drew 2,342 fans per game (second-best in the league).
  • Ex-Seal Austin Bibens-Dirkx has continued his magical season since the Chicago Cubs promoted him to the AAA Iowa Cubs on July 8th. Iowa has converted Bibens-Dirkx into a reliever and he has excelled in his new role. In his last 5 appearances (9 innings pitched), he has not allowed a single earned run. Since his AAA promotion, Bibens-Dirkx has a 0.64 ERA and he has held opponents to a .228 batting average.
  • The Edmonton Capitals did the Seals a favour on Thursday night by defeating the Calgary Vipers 8-0. The Seals (7-6) now trail the Vipers by only three games in the second-half standings.
  • Darren Parker (justifiably) ripped into the City of Victoria in a Cleve Dheensaw piece in the T-C today. The concession lineups at Tuesday night's game were inexcusable -- it took at least two innings of standing in line to purchase a beer (Memo to city staff: Baseball games are only nine innings long!). The city refuses to add sufficient staff on nights when large crowds are expected (Second memo to city staff: Four beer vendors can't serve 4,753 fans!). In addition, it's pathetic that professional baseball players have to tend to the diamond in the middle of a game. Every other facility in North America ensures that sufficient groundskeepers are available for professional baseball games -- why can't the City of Victoria ensure that RAP is sufficiently staffed?!?!?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Anatomy of a knuckle ball

From Tuesday night's game, a frame capture of Eri Yoshida's knuckle ball delivery. Click on the image for a full-size version.

A great night to be a baseball fan in Victoria

Some of the 4,753 fans in attendance

Eri Yoshida's first road start in the GBL began well, but the wheels quickly fell off. After striking out Wilver Perez to start her night and then retiring the Seals 1-2-3 in the first inning, Yoshida's control completely escaped her. Although she only gave up one hit in her 2 1/3 innings of work, that hit was a monster shot over the scoreboard by Charlie Strandlund that cleared the bases. The majestic grand slam was also Charlie's first professional home run. Yoshida finished the night with seven walks and three hit batsmen in a 12-6 win for the Seals.

Although The Knuckle Princess had a bad night, the Victoria Seals Baseball Club had a great one. The game attracted the biggest crowd in the two-year history of the Seals: 4,753 fans. It was quite amazing to see approximately 1,000 fans packed into the football stadium and about one hundred of those were situated on the Cook Street side of the home run fence. I got the impression that many of those in attendance on Tuesday night were seeing their first Seals game of the season -- if not their first Seals game period. That can only bode well for a team that is turning out to be arguably the premiere franchise in the Golden Baseball League.

We'll let a few pictures tell the rest of the story...

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Eri Yoshida coverage ramps up

The deluge of media coverage on Eri Yoshida's Tuesday start in Victoria is underway:
  • Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail talks to Chris Van Rossum of the Seals about facing Eri Yoshida. At this rate, by the end of the season the Victoria Seals will have better coverage in the Globe than the Toronto Blue Jays.
  • Yoshida and Demetrius Banks chart the game on Monday night
  • The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix has picked up Cleve Dheensaw's article on Yoshida, which includes a discussion with Tim Rodriguez on his now-famous strikeout against the Knuckle Princess earlier this year.
  • The Winnipeg Free Press has carried a Canadian Press article on Yoshida. Included in the article are comments from Brian Rios of the Seals. Apparently, Tuesday's game was already close to a sellout when the story was written.
  • The Globe also reprinted an Associated Press article on Eri, but there isn't anything noteworthy in this piece.
Eri Yoshida peers over the dugout fence to watch Monday's game. "Can we get a milk crate over here?!?!" 

Yoshida-mania hits Victoria

A throng of media (OK, a throng for Victoria) came out to RAP this afternoon to meet Eri Yoshida. Not surprisingly, this 18-year-old Japanese gal is quite shy and she doesn't exactly have Bret Boone's outspokenness in front of the media. To be frank, getting a good quote from Yoshida wasn't easy -- it was pretty much impossible.

The most interesting comments of the media event came from her manager, Garry Templeton. When asked why she was on the team he tersely replied "You'll have to ask the league office. We're a league-owned team."  Ouch. Templeton seemed to quickly backpedal after blurting out that initial answer and he seemed quite supportive of what Yoshida is trying to accomplish for the remainder of the press conference. When asked how he would respond to accusations that this is a "bit of a circus or sideshow" he stated "that's the first time I have heard of it." He made the point that she is still only 18 years old and there aren't any men her age playing in the GBL. He also acknowledged that she is still growing physically and she will improve with age -- especially once she gains a bit more experience in the game of baseball. He made a point of saying that "we think she has some potential." Templeton also mentioned that the players on the team have supported her fully and that "she has 22 big brothers on the team."

It will be interesting to see how the Seals do against her on Tuesday night. You have to think that a few of our boys will be nervous going up against Yoshida. It's almost a no-win situation for them -- it's no big deal if they get a hit, but she could make an experienced slugger look silly with a dancing knuckleball or two. Apparently, Tim Rodriguez of the Seals has been taking some good-natured ribbing of late from his teammates about being the first guy in the league to strike out against her (he was her only "K" until she struck out two Orange County Flyers on Friday night). You can bet that none of the Seals will want to take that long trek back to the dugout in front of the home crowd on Tuesday night.

The media throng

Garry Templeton responds to questions about Yoshida

Yoshida yucks it up during a photo-op

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mike Walker featured in the Globe and Mail

Thanks to some excellent writing by Tom Hawthorn, the Victoria Seals continue to be the most covered minor-league baseball team in the Globe and Mail. This time, Hawthorn has penned an article on our own Mike Walker.

As I'm sure you'll agree, Walker does an outstanding job as Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations, so it's great to see him get some well-deserved recognition. Congratulations, Mike!

Chico Outlaws series preview

The Chico Outlaws, the first-half champions in the North Division, make their first of two trips to Victoria this summer with a three-game series beginning on Monday night. The Outlaws are the best-hitting team in the GBL and they feature six former major-leaguers and an 18-year-old female Japanese knuckleball pitcher. However, Chico will be playing without the leading hitter in the GBL, Blake Gailen (.426 BA). Gailen has been out for the last month after suffering a concussion running down a fly ball against the Edmonton Capitals. Even without him, the Outlaws will be fielding a team with a ton of firepower.

If you want to impress the person seated beside you at RAP this week, you’ll need to know that the six former big-leaguers on the Chico squad are:
  • Pitcher Matt Perisho (8 seasons, 3 with the Texas Rangers)
  • Pitcher Wayne Franklin (7 seasons, 2 with the Milwaukee Brewers)
  • Second baseman Bobby Hill (4 seasons, 3 with the Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Catcher Mike Rose (3 seasons, most appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers)
  • Shortstop Alex Prieto (2 seasons, Minnesota Twins)
  • Chico manager Garry Templeton back in the day
  • Pitcher Mark McLemore (1 season, Houston Astros)
Then of course, you’ll want to mention that Chico’s manager, Garry “Jumpsteady” Templeton, spent 16 seasons playing shortstop for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals.

Needless to say, the next three games at Royal Athletic Park should be very entertaining.

Tale of the Tape

Victoria 6-4 (3rd place), 28-27 .509 (overall), .280 team BA (8th), 4.88 team ERA (5th)
Chico 4-6 (4th place), 37-18 .673 (overall), .307 team BA (1st), 3.43 team ERA (2nd)

Chico – Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Cuban defector Maikel Jova is swinging a hot stick right now, but the Chico right fielder is mainly a singles hitter in spite of the fact he bats in the cleanup spot. Mike Rose is also hitting the ball well and he's eighth in the GBL in home runs. Kris Honel (6-2, 2.86 ERA) is one of the top starting pitchers in the league, but he pitched Sunday night and won't take to the mound against the Seals. Chico's bullpen has been a force to reckon with this year -- relievers Justin Segal, Matt Perisho, Josh Dew and Rusty Jones all have ERA’s of 1.88 or lower.

On the negative side, Eri Yoshida has been rocked in her last two starts (10 earned runs in her last 6 1/3 innings pitched), but she doesn’t have the worst ERA on the Outlaws. That title belongs to David Dinelli and his 8.44 ERA.

Victoria – Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

As for which Seals hitters are hot, it's quicker to just talk about who's not. The Seals have scored 65 runs in their last 8 games, so most of them are swinging a hot bat. Colin Moro and Brian Rios have cooled off of late, but the biggest area of concern is newcomer Tim Rodriguez who is only hitting .167 with an anemic .189 on-base percentage in the nine games since he was acquired from Yuma. T-Rod hit .349 with 6 homers and 51 RBIs in the first half with the Scorpions, so we're expecting big things from him in the remainder of the season.

As for the pitchers, Brandon Villafuerte hasn't given up a run in his last 13 appearances (13 1/3 innings) and his 10 saves is tied for second-most in the GBL. P.J. Bevis has settled down after a rough start with the Seals and has pitched six consecutive scoreless innings of relief. Chris Bodisbaugh has a 2.45 ERA in his last six appearances out of the pen (11 innings).

Not Your Regular Night at the Park

If all goes well, Wilver Perez will break the GBL record for stolen bases in a season against Chico.  He’s only five away from setting a new mark, so come on out and cheer him on.

On Tuesday night, The Knuckle Princess, Eri Yoshida takes to the hill. The 5’ 1” 114-pound pitcher will make her first start on the road after making her first five starts at home, so it will be interesting to see how she reacts. Then again, Victoria is a pretty friendly city, so I’m not expecting her to get a hostile reception from the baseball fans of Victoria.

Keys to the Series

The big question is whether or not the Seals pitchers can shut down the best offense in the league.  The likely starters for Victoria are Andrew Arreola, Jino Gonzalez and Jeff Duda and they'll have their work cut out for them.

Another important factor is how well the Outlaws catcher Mike Rose can keep the “Go Go Seals” in check. Victoria has 108 steals on the season and with 35 games remaining they are well on their way to smashing the GBL record for team stolen bases in a season (131). If Rose can’t keep Victoria base runners at bay then Wilver Perez will break the single-season stolen base record on his watch and Victoria will be well on their way to a series victory.


This will be a hard-fought series but I'm picking the Seals to win two out of three.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cro and the Hawk

I'm amazed sometimes at how certain themes will intersect randomly. Here's an article in Saturday's National Post by Dave Bidini, an excellent musician and a pretty good baseball writer, that brings together in one tidy package references to Warren Cromartie, Andre Dawson, the Montreal Expos and Eri Yoshida and her Tuesday start against the Victoria Seals. I must say, I find this all rather surreal.

Oh, have I mentioned that Andre Dawson is getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday?

Note to Dave Bidini: Gary Carter was the first Expo inducted into the HoF.

Perez seven steals from GBL record

Wilver Perez swiped three bases in last night's double-header sweep over the Yuma Scorpions to close to within seven steals of setting a new single-season GBL record for stolen bases in a season. Perez now has 45 steals on the year; the GBL record is currently held by Jonny Kaplan, who stole 51 bases for the Long Beach Armada in 2007. The diminutive Kaplan now plays right field for the Calgary Vipers (he has 16 steals this season).

Wilver is looking like he'll definitely break the record before the end of the home stand. With another double-header tonight at RAP (5:05 PM start), he could break the record as early as Sunday afternoon.  My money says he'll do it Monday or Tuesday though.

Seal Blubber Bits

In honour of the induction of Andre Dawson into the Baseball Hall of Fame, we present this video tribute to the Montreal Expos. "The Hawk" is the second Expo to be inducted in the HoF (following Gary "Kid" Carter's induction) and he won't be the last. I wouldn't be surprised to see both Tim Raines and Felipe Alou (as a manager) inducted as Montreal Expos. Go Spos!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Streaming video for all remaining Seals games

How cool is this? The Victoria Seals will be streaming video of all of their remaining games on the internet starting tonight!  Check it out on  The streaming starts at 4:55 PM PST.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yuma Scorpions - series preview

The boys are back in town! Friday night the Seals return to RAP after what seems like half the season away from Victoria. The Seals return after posting a 7-5 record on their twelve-game roadtrip.

Friday night brings the Yuma Scorpions to town for what can only be described as an exhausting series. Double-headers on Friday and Saturday night, followed by an afternoon game on Sunday. Sounds like a softball tournament, and those of us who have played 5 games in a weekend can appreciate the difficulty getting up and to the park for the Sunday game. But hey, these guys are professionals!

Yuma is also a team in dire shape right now. As Gus eluded to in a post late last week, Yuma has been dumping so many players lately, you would expect to see Mr. Floatie protesting the team's arrival. Apart from the Seal's own acquisition of Tim Rodriguez, a quick check of their roster shows forty-one players have worn the Scorpion this year and are no longer on the team. There continues to be talk of disgruntled (and unpaid) players, potential for the team to be moved, and possible owner changes.

Tale of the Tape:

Victoria sits at 3-2 in the second half, good for 3rd place in the North.

Yuma comes in at 2-6, barely ahead of Tijuana for the basement in the South.

Yuma is in the midst of a Canadian holiday they would rather forget, winning only one of four from Edmonton and being swept in three by Calgary this past week. The team hit a paltry .264 combined with only a single home run in Alberta. Yuma pitching staff was rocked all week for a combined 8.93 ERA.

Who's Hot (or more importantly, who's left) - Yuma

Second baseman Eric Scriven, who was acquired mid-season from Tijuana has had a great trip North, going 10 for 24 with five walks for a .417 average. Even with those numbers, he was unable to post a single RBI.

Pitching is interesting... Of the 28 wins the Scorpions have posted this year, 25 of those are credited to pitchers no longer with the team. Relievers Dan Ramos-Dominko and Jose Rojas are the only pitchers remaining with wins. The Scorpions come to town without a single starter with a win this season.

Who's Hot - Seals

It might be easier to talk about who isn't hot. The team is batting a combined .306 with 9 home runs and 44 runs scored since the all-star break. Starters MacClain, Rios, Kavanaugh, and Edgecombe are hitting lights-out since the break, with T-Mac leading the pack with an incredible .958 slugging percentage. Perez continues to blaze up the base paths, averaging a steal a game lately. Watch for a GBL record to be broken this weekend...

Starting pitching has a bit of a mixed bag with both Hess and Kershner getting roughed up last week, while Jino Gonzalez continues to shine as the Seal's most consistent starter. Aaron Easton has had a tough week on the road, but for the most part the bullpen has been solid, giving the Seal's offense a chance to win each night

Series Prediction

For the first time this season, I'm going to predict a Seals sweep. Sweeps are incredibly tough to do in baseball, but this one seems ripe to me. Unless Yuma picks up a solid starter on the flight here, this could be a long series for them.

Games are Friday night at 5:00 for the first game, somewhere around 8:00 for the second. Same on Saturday (5:00 and 8:00). Sunday is a matinee game with a 1:30 start.

Don't forget that on double-header days your ticket is good for both games so you can't beat that value. Also, Saturday is "Paint the Park Pink" night, with jersey auctions to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Come out and show your support for this worthy cause.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Perez within reach of GBL stolen-base record

Wilver Perez stole a pair bases on Wednesday night against the St. George (beep-beep!) Roadrunners to pull within 9 swipes of the GBL's single-season stolen-base record.  Perez now has 42 steals in only 47 games played and he has a shot at breaking the record during the Seals' 6-day / 8-game home stand that begins on Friday night.

Wilver didn't get off to the greatest start this year, but his season turned around on the night of the "Scrap at the RAP". He seemed to lack his usual passion in May and early June, but that all changed when he took exception to a Matt Rogelstad takeout slide and laid a beating on the nefarious Edmonton Capital. Since returning from his three-game suspension on June 24th, Perez has played 21 games and has stolen 25 bases. In addition to running rampant on the basepaths, Perez's bat has also come alive -- he has a .384 batting average with 3 homers, 19 RBIs and 22 runs scored in those 21 games.

Let's hope Wilver keeps up his torrid pace and breaks the record in front of the home crowd in the next week!

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Tijuana Cimarrones broke the previous GBL record for consecutive losses on Monday night (12) and they look like they'll tack on a bunch more.  On Wednesday, they lost their 15th in a row in the finale of their 17-game Canadian road trip. The Seals will be thrilled that the Cimarrones are finally leaving Alberta, because Tijuana has allowed Edmonton and Calgary to get a head-start on Victoria in the second-half standings. After being swept by the Capitals in their five-game series, the Cimarrones went to Calgary and lost four straight. Tijuana's return trip to Edmonton didn't go any better as they lost all three games to the Caps. Tijuana is now a woeful 6-44 on the season.
  • The Seals 17-7 victory over the Roadrunners on Wednesday lifted their second-half record to 3-2. Victoria now trails Calgary by 2 1/2 games and Edmonton by 2 games in the second-half standings. The win also raises Victoria's overall record to .500 on the year (25-25).
  • Brian Rios is now fourth in the league in hitting with a .377 average. Chico's Blake Gailen is tops in the GBL with a slow-pitch like .426 batting average.
  • Josh Arhart's two homers on Monday night gave him 11 on year -- third-best in the GBL. Cliff Brumbaugh of the Edmonton Capitals leads with 14.
  • On Wednesday night, one day after Darth called for it in a Victoria Seals Baseball Blog (VSBB) post, Aaron Easton finally had his first at-bat of the year.  Unfortunately, "The Handyman" struck out swinging, but we'd still like to see the 6'10" 245-pound chucker swing the lumber at RAP.
  • The Seals are second in the league in attendance with an average of 2,524 fans per game, which is astounding given the poor weather at RAP in May and June. Given that Victoria is only 36 fans behind the league-leading Tucson Toros, look for the Seals to bound into first place in attendance before the regular season ends. Let's hope this string of great weather continues.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Things I'd like to see

The Rolling Stones said "You Can't Always Get What You Want", but that never stopped me from dreaming. As we get ready for the Seals 2nd half charge to the playoffs, I thought I'd assemble a list of things from the first half that I really think we are missing out on - things that would complete us as the loyal Seals fans that we are, and elevate our baseball experience from really good to totally awesome, dude.

So here is what I wish I could see in the second half:

1) Visiting team players and their stats shown on the scoreboard when they are at bat, just like we see for the Seals. It can't be too hard to pull up from Pointstreak.
2) Stats updated in real time so that each at bat, the result of the previous one is reflected when displayed later in the game.
3) Aaron Easton take an at bat. Every other Seals pitcher - including Brandon Villafuerte - has had a hack, let's give the big guy his shot!
4) Wilver "The Swiper" Perez break the record for stolen bases. He's on track, so let's hope he keeps rocking!
5) T-Mac and Jino bend their caps. Just because!
6) An upgrade to the Atari-like graphics of the RAP Crab Races. I like the fact we have localized it with crabs, but every time I watch it I expect a pong game to break out afterwards. Come on boys, fire up those computer-like things and "Avatar" us.
7) Kip "Grumpy" Gross crack a smile. Boonie was a bit too flippant, but Gross has done an outstanding job bearing down and setting up the Seals for a second half charge. Come on Kip, wave to that little kid and enjoy the moment - you've earned it.
8) Some new sound effects at the ball park. While the sound of broken glass was funny at first, and the Homer "Woo Hoo" makes for a good drinking game, they get old quickly. Mix it up! Throw in some Family Guy quotes or lines from famous movies. I'm sure someone has a kid who could pull something together in about 10 minutes.
9) Charlie Strandlund get a start. He's had a couple of successful, albeit short, outings on the mound and I say, give him a chance to show what he can do. It may grow his confidence. He seems like a real positive influence on the bench and I'd love to see him succeed in the field of play.
10) The Seals make the playoffs. How cool of an atmosphere would that be at the RAP? I'm in for September ball...are YOU???

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eri Yoshida to start July 27th in Victoria

The Chico Outlaws have announced that the Knuckle Princess, Eri Yoshida, will pitch at Royal Athletic Park on Tuesday July 27th. Victoria fans are especially fortunate to be able to see her pitch, since this will be her first start on the road since she was signed by Chico.

The 5’1” 114-pound knuckleball pitcher has gone 0-1 with a 6.60 ERA in her first four starts. Like almost every knuckleballer, Yoshida struggles with consistency -- two of her starts were very good while two were terrible. She is scheduled to make her fifth start of the year on Friday night at home against the Orange County Flyers.

Yoshida has been attracting a lot of attention this season -- and not just from the Japanese media. The CBS Evening news recently did a report on her -- the video can be found here.

Earlier this year, the Baseball Hall of Fame accepted her jersey and bat from her first appearance in the GBL for use in an exhibition on the contributions of women to the game of baseball. Her hit in that game was the first by a woman in a men's professional league since the Negro Leagues era.

I'm expecting it to be quite a spectacle on the 27th. It's not very often that you get a chance to see a woman pitch in a professional game against a team of men -- especially when that woman is an 18-year-old Japanese knuckleballer. If you don't yet have tickets for the game, I highly recommend you come on out to RAP and take advantage of this unique opportunity.

For more background information on Yoshida, check out a couple of our previous blog posts on her:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What a difference a half-season makes

That breeze you have been feeling outside the Teamworks store down the first base line at RAP this year could be one of two things: the Caledonia Express wind pattern that whips through the park most nights, or perhaps it's the revolving door inside the Seals clubhouse...

After a fairly quiet inaugural season, Seals fans have been witness to a huge amount of change in personnel in 2010. With the signing of outfielder Tim Rodriguez this week, it's worth a look at the Seals current roster, in comparison to the team that took the field against Maui that chilly opening day back in May...

Seals opening day roster against Maui on May 21st

Now lets have a look at the current batch of Seals:

Seals second-half roster as of July 16th

Players in red indicate new additions, or at least changes in position from opening day - and the graphic doesn't show the mid-season additions that were brought in a subsequently removed from play (Mooney, Martin).

From management staff, through the starting rotation, through positional players, changes have been fast and furious this season (interestingly, the bullpen has remained relatively consistent).

A credit to the management team, I think everyone would agree that the Seals are a better team starting the second half than they were the first. A solid, anchored rotation, an outfield full of pop, and an infield with speed makes this team a strong second-half contender. We are still seeing a few too many fielding errors (58 in 46 games so far, ranking them 7th out of 10 teams), but this lineup should be able to post some better offensive numbers while giving up fewer earned runs. That should equate to more wins, and a shot at the North division title.

Time will tell if the current squad stays together, or if the clubhouse door continues to swing. While the Seals remain in the hunt for the pennant, look to see a bit more consistency over the next couple of months.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Seals purchase of RBI man a sign of playoff run

Last year the Seals were trading away talent as the playoffs approached. 2010 is proving to be a different story as the Victoria squad has just purchased the contract of clutch-hitting Tim Rodriguez from the Yuma Scorpions. The move is another sign that the Seals are getting set to make a playoff run.

Right before the All-Star break, the Seals re-acquired the ace of their pitching staff, Isaac Hess, from the Mexican League. The purchase of Rodriguez gives them a much-needed third quality outfielder and helps ensure that they have enough offence to take a serious run at their first division title. Rodriguez is currently second in the GBL with 51 RBIs and he's hitting .349 going into play on Friday.

The move helps the Seals keep pace with the other clubs who will be in the race for the second playoff spot in the North Division (Chico won the first-half title). During the All-Star break, the Edmonton Capitals purchased the contract of pitcher Daryl Arreola (7-1, 2.59 ERA) from Yuma, who appear to be conducting an early fire sale. Arreola, who is the brother of Seals pitcher Andrew Arreola, leads the GBL in wins with seven.

The Yuma franchise appears to be falling apart at the seams. In addition to selling Arreola and Rodriguez, they also sold third baseman Santo DeLeon to the Chico Outlaws. According to the Edmonton Journal, Yuma team president Ricky Smith has not paid any of the Scorpions since early June. All of this comes on the heels of rumours last month that the Scorpions might move (or at least shift some games) to Mexicali, Mexico. According to the GBL, Yuma is only averaging 1,109 fans per game and this figure has worsened as the season has progressed. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the remainder of the year.

Although I don't like to see a team dumping players this early in the season, I have to give credit to the teams involved and the GBL office for their transparency in announcing the moves. Last season, there were a number of situations that were announced as a "trade for future considerations". In many cases, the future considerations never materialized and fans were left to try and piece together what really happened. Kudos to all involved for being up-front with the situation this year.

Rant of the day: GBL meets Bizarro World

When does the first half end and the second half begin? In the GBL, that question is not as simple as one might think. It's reasonable to expect that the All-Star Game would fall in between the first and second halves in a league that plays a split-schedule. And it does -- sort of. Let me explain.

The GBL plays a 90-game schedule with first and second-half champions being declared in each division. However, the first half doesn't end at the all-star break, unless of course your team happens to have hit the exact figure of 45 games played by that time. Sadly, certain teams hit the 45-game mark days before others, so some squads were playing second-half games before the all-star break while others were playing first-half games after the break. Confused? Join the club.

But wait -- things get even more bizarre. On Thursday, the Seals beat the Outlaws 7-1.  Good news, right? Not so fast. The game actually counted as a second-half game for Chico and a first-half game for Victoria, even though the Seals were eliminated from the race for the first-half title a couple of weeks ago. So after a Seals win over the Outlaws a day after the All-Star Game, the second-half standings show Victoria at 0-0 and Chico at 0-1. Bizarre.

It's unclear when the league informed the Seals of the situation, but here is a question to ponder: Should the Seals have held back their ace, Isaac Hess, until Friday in order to maximize their chances of winning the second-half title? Frankly, the question shouldn't even be relevant. The GBL needs to ensure that every team ends the first half on the same day. If they can't do that by carving out two 45-game schedules that end on the same day then at least use winning percentages to determine the winner of slightly uneven "halves". The current situation is just plain messed up.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Seals start new season Thursday

Throw away the first-half standings -- the Seals are in a five-way tie for first place. The second mini-season is set to fire up on Thursday night with Victoria and the Chico Outlaws kicking off a three-game series at 7 PM. The match-up should be a good one as Victoria has won 12 of their last 17 games and the Outlaws won the North Division first-half title with a 33-12 record.

Mike Walker will not be joining the Seals on the remainder of their road trip, so if you want to follow the games live tune in to the Chico Outlaws internet broadcast. Dan Hawkins, Media Director of the Outlaws, will be doing the play-by-play.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • Brian Rios started at third base and batted sixth for the GBL in Wednesday night's All-Star Game against the Northern League. He went 0-for-2 on the night and played the first half of the game.
  • Josh Arhart went 0-for-1 with a walk while catching the second half of the All-Star Game. Unfortunately, he was picked off second base after walking in his first at-bat. The error proved costly, as the GBL ended up leaving the bases loaded in the inning without scoring a run. In the next half-inning, the Northern League scored four runs to put the game away.
  • The Northern League won the game 9-3 and out-hit the GBL 11-7.
  • Attendance at the game, which was played at Tucson's Hi Corbett Field, was a very respectable 4,625.
  • The 2011 All-Star Game will be played in a Northern League city -- likely Zion or Schaumburg.

Watch the GBL-Northern League All-Star game

Just click here. Game time is 7 PM tonight!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ex-Seal Bibens-Dirkx promoted to AAA

It has been quite a couple of weeks for former-Seal Austin Bibens-Dirkx. First he was named to the Southern League (AA) All-Star team. Then he was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week for June 28th to July 4th, his second such award this season. Then on July 8th, the Cubs promoted Bibens-Dirkx to AAA Iowa of the Pacific Coast League.  The promotion has been expected here at the VSBB for a number of weeks and it's great to see Bibens-Dirkx rewarded for his efforts.

In 2009, Austin had a 2-2 record with a 3.70 ERA for the Victoria Seals. He was also leading the Golden League in strikeouts with 54 in 48 2/3 innings when he was plucked from the Victoria roster by the Cubbies. This season, Bibens-Dirkx went 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA for the (AA) Tennessee Smokies. While in AA, he held opponents to a .196 batting average and had a stunning 1.01 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

Bibens-Dirkx made his AAA debut on Friday night and he did not disappoint, earning the win in a 6-1 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs. He gave up only one earned run in five innings and held New Orleans to only four hits. If Bibens-Dirkx can stay hot, it's not outside the realm of possibility that the Cubs would make him a September call-up. If he were to get the call, Bibens-Dirkx would be the first Victoria Seal to ever go on to appear in the major leagues.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Seals finished the first half of the season on Sunday with a 21-23 record (.477 winning percentage). That's a significant improvement (so far) over their showing in 2009 (32-50, .390) and it looks like the Seals could be in a pennant race in the second half.
  • The Seals start the second half of the season on Thursday night in Chico in the first of a three-game set against the Outlaws. Chico won the first-half title in the North Division with a 33-12 record. Maui won the South Division first-half crown with a 26-17 record.
  • The Golden League is set to face the Northern League All Stars on Wednesday night in Tucson. Josh Arhart and Brian Rios will represent the Seals.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Seals away, bloggers play

With the Seals soaking up the sun in Maui, we at the VSBB are taking our own "All Star Break". As is the tradition, we try and visit a new MLB park each year and this year we are in Milwaukee, headed to Miller Park for a three-game set.

Everything they say about Milwaukee is true; beer, brats, cheese and bowling - OK, we haven't bowled...yet! I think we even saw Laverne and Shirley. Maybe we didn't, but we did discover that the Fonz (a.k.a. Arthur Fonzerelli) was a Seals fan.

War Seals, and see you soon!

...da Boyz

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Report card time

It is almost halfway through the season and time for the boys to bring home their report cards. And since there is no such thing in the GBL, we have taken the liberty of grading the team based on the first couple of months. You may not agree with everything, but...that's baseball. So here we go:

We had to choose a first half "stud" and even with a bit of a slow start, Josh Arhart has come through in a big way. As well as leading on the field, he has the extra duties as playing coach and has excelled at both.

Just barely a step away from top of the class, we have Brian Rios and Terrance McClain. Rios is also on fire after a slow start and has climbed into the league leaders in hitting. T-Mac has been solid since day 1 and plays well and bats well wherever you put him.

Rounding out the top of the class, there is Wilver Perez, Andrew Arreola and Brandon Villafuerte. Slumping a little bit recently, the Scrap at the RAP seems to have fired Wilver up and he continues to steal everything in sight. Only some breaks in concentration in the field keep Perez from moving up a notch in our eyes. After starting in relief, Arreola has made the transition nicely to a starter, is now the most consistent pitcher the Seals have and sports an economical WHIP. Villafuerte has progressively gotten better as the season has rolled along and seems to be locked in as the closer.

Colin Moro, Aaron Easton and Anthony Pluta slide in at B+. All are solid contributors for the Seals and need to keep it up in the second half. Moro weighs in as a great clutch hitter while Easton leads the team in appearances has had a few good outings recently, getting his starters out of jams. "The Handyman" has been cutting down on his hits and BB's and fits nicely in the setup role. "Wild Thing" Pluta has improved his control and also fits well into the role of starter. He hasn't given up a home run yet either! Let's hope that keeps up.

The Special K's slot in here - Jason Kershner and Matt Kavanaugh. "Kersh" had some good outings early and flirted with a no-no recently but had some rough outings in between and I am hoping he can build on his latest outing against Tijuana. Kavanaugh can play catcher and first base effectively and had a hot streak at the plate for a while earlier in the year when everyone else was struggling. He's settled in to hit a respectable .280.

Four Seals fall into this category - Dale Swinford, Jino Gonzalez, Mike Mooney and Jeff Duda. Swinford has been hitting well lately and fits better as a #2 hitter. His glove has let him down at times but he remains an everyday player. Gonzalez has had hard luck as a starter in terms of wins/losses and 4 of his last 5 outings have been quality starts. A bonus is his .333 batting average. Mooney had a great debut but has struggled recently, getting mostly pinch hit duties. He needs to wake up the lumber to win back a starting job. Duda also sparkled in his first Seals game but has settled in to be an average pitcher, but with a decent ERA. Would be good to see him step it up and repeat that first game.

Next come the Chris' - van Rossum and Bodishbaugh. Van Rossum had a nice start to the year but has fallen below the Mendoza line and will not get many starts until he can string a few hits together. Chris Bodisbaugh began the year as a starter and is now in middle relief where he has had some decent outings but has an ERA over five and tends to give up the long ball.

P.J. Bevis and Charlie Strandlund fall into this next category. The whole city is pulling for Charlie but he isn't getting much of a chance to show what he can do. He needs to stay ready, hang on to the ball and get some pinch hits in order to work his way into some more innings. He has shown his versatility with a couple of scoreless innings pitched - there may be something in that, Kip?? Bevis needs to get a few good innings under his belt as well. He has an ERA above seven and has given up 3 dingers in just over 8 innings of work.

Somewhat unfairly, we have Kyle Orr as our only C-. Kyle has just a few games of pro ball above Rookie League under his belt and needs to find his footing. Just like with Charlie, we're all pulling for the local lad but he has to start making contact and cutting down on the K's.

Off the hook for now are Issac Hess and Matt Edgecombe since they only have a game or two with the Seals. We expect big things from both of them though!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Follow the Seals on Maui radio...

Just a head's up... Mike Walker didn't get the nod to attend the road trip to Maui (would have been a nice grad present if you ask me!) so there are no Seals broadcasts this week - nor does the GBL Scoreboard update regularly from Maui games.

Never fear though, you can listen to the games on Maui's ESPN online radio:

Almost like being there! Remember that Maui is three hours BEHIND us in Victoria - not often we can say that, so game time is 9:35.

Rios, Arhart lead by example

Seals third baseman Brian Rios and catcher Josh Arhart selected to the 2010 GBL All-Star team...

Back in May when the Bret Boone experiment came crashing down, Seals management had a tough decision: do they begin the search for a new field boss at a time of year when anyone who wants to be in baseball probably already has a job, or do they go with what they have and elevate some existing talent. They chose the latter of course, and gave the reins to pitching coach Kip Gross - making him first interim manager before finally promoting him to the position early in June.

At the same time, they realized the presence of veterans on the squad and asked them to step up. Brian Rios was promoted to player-manager, joining Josh Arhart in the role he was given to start the season. Together the vets were expected to help out Gross both on the field and off, and lead the Seals by example.

Then it all went bad. The Seals were mired in a ten game losing streak, and lost 14 of 15 contests putting up with dismal road trip conditions through Yuma and Tucson.

Then the brawl at second base, and the comeback wins, and the Alberta road trip, and suddenly they were back. The recent Tijuana home stand showed a different team than the one that started out June winless. The team has composure, the team has spirit, and the team has leadership - Rios and Arhart.

The two have been on fire the last two weeks of the month. Leading by example, pulling wins from the jaws of defeat. Settling down wayward pitchers, stepping into altercations. Arhart has been a one-man wrecking crew at the plate, with everything finding a hole - or a fence to climb over. Rios has been solid as well with clutch hits and timely RBIs.

In the field, with Arhart getting quite a few starts at first and Rios playing every game at third, the two have committed only a single error between them in the past 10 games.

The leaders are truly leading by example. Rios leads the Seals in batting average, Arhart in slugging percentage. Arhart also leads the team in home runs, RBI, and on-base percentage.

It's no wonder these two players will represent our team in next week's All-Star game in Tucson. No small feat this year, as the Golden League is forming only a single team this year to play the All Stars from the Northern League.

Best of luck to our All-Stars, and continued leadership success!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Long day ends Tijuana series with a bang!

Sunday afternoon at RAP was full of action and excitement as the Seals and Cimarrones played the fifth and final game of their first-ever series together. It seemed like they played a double header on Sunday. At close to five hours of baseball, fans saw 27 runs, and 35 hits. Follow that up with having the kids run around the bases after the game, and a BBQ for season ticket holders, and it really was a full day at the ballpark.

The score seems closer than the actual game was. After giving up two early runs (Tijuana managed to score at least a run in the first inning of all five games of the series), the Seals exploded for their 17 runs over the first 5 innings. Every Seal starter registered at least a hit, as did pinch hitter Charlie Strandlund. Starting pitcher Anthony Pluta helped his own cause chipping in with a solid RBI single and scored two runs.

The true hero of the day however, was Wilver Perez. Wilver went 4 for 6 on the day in the leadoff spot including a third inning grand slam that put the game away for good. He finished with six RBI on the day and a pair of runs scored. He also swiped a bag giving him 30 on the year.

Pluta pitched four solid innings before giving Tijuana four runs and some life back in the fifth, thanks in part to a Perez error that would have ended the inning only giving up one.

The Seals played soprtsman ball the last 4 innings or so, playing station to station ball without attempting steals, scoring on singles, etc. The Seals likely could have scored 20+ runs had they have kept the pedal down. Perez missed the opportunity for a couple more steals when Cimarrones first baseman Mark Samuelson didn't bother to hold him on, and the Seals didn't run out of respect for the situation.

Streaks continued at the park as well, with Josh Arhart reaching 12 games on his hitting streak, and Colin Moro making it to 20 games reaching safely.

A strong showing of fans were in attendance as well, helped on by both the kid-friendly matinee, and a sudden clearing of the skies just prior to game time.

The Seals leave town now for most of the month, playing seven games in Maui, three in Chico, and three in St. George. The mid-season All-Star break is this month as well, in-between the Maui and Chico series. The Seals don't play at home again until Yuma visits RAP on the 23rd.

The Seals travel first thing tomorrow, touching into Maui around 11:00am, and plan to have the rest of the day to relax on the beach. Have fun in the sun boys!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Victoria acquires Edgecombe for Cronin

The Victoria Seals have traded utility man Shane Cronin to the Calgary Vipers in return for slugging first baseman / outfielder Matt Edgecombe.

Edgecombe was hitting .321 with 2 HR and 17 RBI in 34 games for the Snakes at the time of the trade. He was mainly playing right field for Calgary, but he was also used at first. Even though he was hitting .321, Edgecombe was batting eighth for the hard-hitting Vipers.

The 6' 4" 235-pound graduate of San Francisco State University turns 26 years old on Sunday.  Edgecombe is in his second year of professional baseball after playing last season for the Long Beach Armada. He hit .303 with 2 HR and 39 RBI in 67 games with the Armada.

Cronin only had 62 at-bats in the Seals’ first 36 games this season. He did not seem happy of late and I wouldn't be surprised if he requested the trade. Although he has the ability to play a variety of positions, manager Kip Gross preferred to use both Josh Arhart and Matt Kavanaugh at first base since Terrence McClain moved to the outfield. Just last night, Kavanaugh also filled in at third base while Cronin was once again relegated to pinch-hitting duties.

The trade appears to be a win-win for both clubs. Cronin will likely get a shot at playing full-time for the Vipers, while Edgecombe will have a more prominent role in the Seals' batting order. In his Royal Athletic Park debut on Saturday, Matt hit sixth in the order and went 2-for-5 with an RBI in Victoria's 8-5 win over the Tijuana Cimarrones.

Seal Blubber Bits
  • The Seals have now won seven of their last eight games and hold a 17-20 record. With the Calgary Vipers on a 9-game losing streak, Victoria is now only three games behind the Vipers and five games behind the second-place Edmonton Capitals. Should Chico win the North Division in both the first and second halves of the season, the three Canadian teams could battle it out for the second-best overall record and the other North Division playoff spot. Even though the Seals can't win the first-half title, they need to win as many games as possible during the remainder of the first half which concludes July 11th.
  • Josh Arhart extended his hitting streak to 11 games on Saturday night. In addition, Colin Moro reached base safely for the 19th consecutive game, although in six of those games he went hitless and reached by either a walk or hit-by-pitch.
  • Wilver Perez stole another three bases on Saturday to raise his league-leading total to 29 (Maui's Fehlandt Lentini is second in the league with 17 swipes). Perez has only been caught stealing once in his 30 attempts. If he can stay healthy, he'll likely break the all-time GBL record for stolen bases in a season (51).
  • Reliever Aaron "Handyman" Easton (2-2, 3.98 ERA) has appeared in 20 of Victoria's 37 games this season and has limited opponents to a paltry .236 batting average. His 20 appearances is tops in the GBL.
  • Brandon Villafuerte earned his league-leading seventh save on Saturday night while lowering his ERA to 2.95 -- best on the Victoria Seals pitching staff.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Seal Blubber Bits - Canada Day Edition

In honour of Canada's newest territory, Nunavut, we present these tasty Seal Blubber Bits to gnaw on:
  • Isaac Hess took to the mound for the first time in 20 days on Canada Day and he looked a little rusty in the Seals' 7-6 loss to Tijuana. Look for Isaac to bounce back with a solid game in the near future. On the positive side, Hess did lay down a pair of near-perfect sacrifice bunts.
  • Kyle Wilson (0-1, 9.69 ERA) was released on Wednesday night to make room for Hess on the Seals' roster. Wilson started the season well, but he gave up 10 earned runs against Yuma on June 5th and was never able to regain his early-season form.
  • Brian Rios went 0-for-5 on Thursday, snapping his eight-game hitting streak.
  • Josh Arhart extended his hitting streak to nine games by pounding a homer, double and single in the Canada Day matinĂ©e. The hits raised his batting average to .330 on the year.
  • Ex-Seal Austin Bibens-Dirkx has been selected to the Southern League (AA) All-Star team. Bibens-Dirkx has posted a 5-3 record with a 3.47 ERA this season for the Tennessee Smokies. Those numbers pale in comparison to the fact that he has held opponents to a .199 batting average and his WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) is a sparkling 1.01. The Southern League All-Star Game is scheduled for the 12th of July in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • Eri Yoshida gets her fourth start of the season on Friday night as the Chico Outlaws face the St. George Roadrunners. Yoshida enters the game with a 5.25 ERA. This Week in Baseball (TWIB) will be in Chico on Friday to do a segment on The Knuckle Princess.