Category Archives: Weekend Debate
Opening day is upon us, Ducks fans! At long last, April 25 is finally here and the Ducks are ready to begin their quest to become the first team in Atlantic League history to win three straight league championships. While six other ALPB teams got started last night, Long Island opens up tonight in the most fitting of settings: TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J. It was at this very same ballpark some six-plus months ago that the Ducks hoisted the Atlantic League Championship trophy for the second consecutive year. Tonight, John Brownell, last year’s championship series MVP, toes the rubber for Long Island against Somerset Patriot righty Erik Arnesen. Coverage of tonight’s game begins at 6:50 p.m. on 103.9-FM, LI News Radio, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Live streaming audio will also be available at liducks.com.
With it being Opening Day, voting for the Ducks 15th Anniversary Team concludes with the “Final Vote.” Similar to the final vote for the MLB All-Star Game, this week we are taking the second place finishers in each previous position, and pinning them against each other for one final chance to make the “Flock 15” team. Fans can vote for one player, regardless of position, to represent the final member of the 15th Anniversary Team. Here are the nominees:
House might have been the best hitter and one of the best all-around players Long Island has seen. While he only spent one year with the Ducks in 2011, he certainly made it count. House proved to be an iron man and a defensive stalwart, playing 113 games and not committing a single error. In addition, he threw out 20% of baserunners trying to steal and helped lead the league’s best pitching staff which posted a 4.17 ERA. Offensively though was where House truly shined. He batted .305 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI, 73 runs, 128 hits and 22 doubles. House also rarely swung and missed. His 37 strikeouts were astronomically low for any batter. Not only did he lead the Ducks to the playoffs, but he brought the team all the way to the Atlantic League Championship Series for the first time since 2004. Following the season, House retired and is about to begin his first season as a professional baseball manager, serving as the skipper for the Single-A Hillsboro Hops in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Sing, who had an outstanding year with the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2009, was able to put together another impressive season in 2012 with the Ducks and helped Long Island end an eight-year title drought. The durable Illinois native played 119 games, and while his .284 average was slightly lower than normal, he crushed 26 home runs, drove in 78 runs, scored 78 times and added 31 doubles. He would’ve led the team in two-baggers if not for Ray Navarrete’s record-setting 50 that season. Then, he put together one of the best postseasons in Ducks history, batting .333 (13-for-39) with three home runs (all in the Liberty Division Championship Series) and eight RBI (including a game-tying single in the ninth inning of Game Two in the Atlantic League Championship Series). Sing was outstanding at the plate and provided some of the most clutch hits in franchise history. He now lives at home in Mississippi with his wife and son and provides youth baseball lessons.
Harrison donned a Ducks uniform for the franchise’s first three seasons (2000-02). He played 271 games in his career on Long Island, combining for a .286 batting average. While he wasn’t as much of a power threat, he drove in 102 runs and scored 156 during his tenure with the Flock. The California native also showed good speed on the basepaths, stealing 35 bases in 2000 and 17 the following year while combining for nine triples in his Ducks career. He never made more than 11 errors in a season at second base and provided some versatility as well with his ability to play well at shortstop when needed. Harrison played four more seasons of pro ball after his time on Long Island, reaching Triple-A with the Angels in 2003 and Double-A with the Rockies in 2004. He ended his career by spending two seasons with Long Beach in the Golden Baseball League.
When Alfonzo was signed prior to the 2007 season, Ducks fans were immediately excited. “Fonzie” had spent eight years with the New York Mets, earning a Silver Slugger Award, an All-Star appearance and a National League championship in the process. After spending the previous year with the Blue Jays and Angels, he came to the Ducks looking to finish out his career in one of the most respected leagues in baseball. In two seasons on Long Island, Alfonzo batted .289 with 13 home runs, 83 RBI, 90 runs and 36 doubles in 164 games. He played solid defense at shortstop as well but also showed some versatility by spending time at second and third base too. In terms of success, Alfonzo helped the Ducks to a pair of playoff appearances, including an outstanding 72-54 record in 2007. The Venezuela native resurfaced in the Atlantic League with the Newark Bears in 2010 before deciding to retire.
Prior to joining Long Island in 2001, Carlos Baerga had already been a 10-year Major League veteran, three-time All Star (1992-93, ‘95), and two-time Silver Slugger (1993-94). After spending 2000 out of baseball, Baerga started his road back to ‘The Show’ with Long Island in 2001. Although his time with the Ducks was short, Baerga was able to use the organization (and the Atlantic League) to help reignite his career. In 53 games that season, Baerga posted a .315 batting average, nine home runs, 44 RBI and three triples. These numbers earned Baerga a selection to play in the All-Star Game held in Newark, New Jersey. The Puerto Rico native also earned himself an opportunity to play in the Korean Baseball Organization where he would further impress Major League scouts. The following season, he became the first player in franchise history to make it back to the Major Leagues after playing on Long Island when he took the field for the Boston Red Sox. Baerga would go on to play 350 games with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Nationals over four seasons before retiring from the game in 2005.
Unlike all of the other outfield nominees, Brodin had never played in affiliated baseball before coming to Long Island. It was not until he parlayed his impressive 2013 season with the Ducks into a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, making him the fifth Duck to be signed by an MLB team that season. Acquired by Long Island in July of 2012, Brodin made his presence known, batting .369 with seven RBI in the 2012 postseason, earning a hit in all five games during the Atlantic League Championship Series. The Washington native returned for the 2013 season and hit .307 over 106 games with 11 home runs, 48 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. That earned the College of Charlestown alum an All-Star game selection. Brodin hit .300 over 155 games in his two years with the Ducks.
Arguably the most well-known name among designated hitter nominees, Everett had two monster years with Long Island. Playing in 219 games over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Everett led all DH nominees in batting (.320) and home runs (54) while ranking second in RBI (197). The 14-year Major League veteran finished third in the league in home runs (25) and RBI (97) during his first season with the Ducks. Everett then improved on those numbers in 2008, batting .327 with 100 RBI and 29 home runs, a Ducks single-season record. The Florida native and former 10th overall pick in the 1990 draft retired from professional baseball in 2010 with 1,304 hits, 202 home runs and 792 RBI combined in the Major and Minor Leagues along with two MLB All-Star selections.
A name that resonated well among Ducks fans, Pulsipher certainly made an impact in his time with the Flock. The former ‘Generation K’ member of the New York Mets spent parts of four seasons with the Ducks (2004-07). His first season was where the southpaw truly made made his mark. In 2004, Pulsipher started 17 games (18 appearances) and posted a 9-5 record with a 3.67 ERA. His efforts earned him an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection as well as a midseason contract with the Seattle Mariners organization. Like Davis though, Pulsipher finished the year in championship-fashion with the Ducks, leading Long Island down the stretch and in the playoffs. Overall, the six-year Major League veteran was 17-10 as a Duck with a 4.17 ERA, and the team reached the playoffs each and every one of his four years.
Loree spent two seasons on Long Island (2011-12), but his first year with the Flock was without a doubt the best the franchise has ever seen. That year, the New Jersey native won a team-record 14 games while losing only five, posted a microscopic 1.98 ERA and struck out a league-leading 131 batters, which was also a Ducks record at the time. He also set a Ducks record for most strikeouts in a game with 14 on September 15 against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. That magical year was more than enough to earn Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year honors and the starting pitcher spot at the Atlantic League All-Star Game in York. Loree excelled in the 2011 postseason as well, leading the Ducks staff with a 2-0 record in three starts and allowing just three runs over 19 innings (1.10 ERA) with 17 strikeouts and two walks. The righty began the 2012 championship season with Long Island and made 18 starts before he was signed by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. In 42 regular season appearances (37 starts) with the Flock, Loree tallied a 19-12 record with a 3.69 ERA, and 220 strikeouts in 227.0 innings. Those wins, strikeouts and innings pitched totals led all right-handed starter nominees.
Lansford represented the only reliever nominee that is currently on the Ducks roster. Brother of teammate Josh Lansford, Jared now enters his third season with the Flock. While his regular season numbers are impressive, it’s his postseason statistics that signify Lansford as a premier reliever in Ducks history. Over two championship runs in the postseason, the California native is 3-0 and has allowed just one run over 12 and one-third innings of work (0.73 ERA). In addition, Lansford has 13 strikeouts compared to just nine hits and one walk in 11 postseason appearances. During the regular season, Lansford is a combined 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA, nine saves and 88 strikeouts in 94 games (104 and two-thirds innings pitched). That includes a 2.98 ERA over 54 and one-third innings of work in 2012 and an All-Star Game selection in 2013.
Rosales was the only closer nominee that is currently on the Ducks active roster and has been a part of back-to-back championship teams on Long Island. He came to the Ducks in a late-season trade during the 2012 season and immediately filled a closer role the team needed. After tossing three scoreless innings in the regular season, he pitched six more games in the postseason, earning saves in all three victories over Southern Maryland in the Liberty Division Championship Series. The righty went on to earn the win in Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship Series to clinch the Ducks first title since 2004. The Los Angeles native returned again in 2013 and put together an All-Star season, going 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA, 18 saves and 45 strikeouts in 38 and one-third innings. He was even better in the playoffs, earning four saves total, three of which came in the ALCS against Somerset. The last of those saves came in Game Five against the Patriots to seal another championship for the Ducks.
There are your final vote nominees, Ducks fans. We understand that this is quite possibly the toughest decision yet. It is very important, however, as this will be the final player voted onto the 15th Anniversary Team. The official “Flock 15” team will be made available to fans in the Ducks Official 2014 Commemorative Yearbook at the home opener on Friday, May 2 at Bethpage Ballpark. Until then, Ducks fans; let’s play ball!
Happy baseball, Ducks fans! With the Second Annual Fan Fest officially in the books, baseball season is finally upon us. Following up this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Bridgeport Bluefish, the Ducks still have two more exhibition games to play before the regular season gets started on Friday, April 25 in Somerset. Before that game, however, we still have final business to attend to.
Two spots remain on the 15th Anniversary Team. Last week, fans voted for the best closer in franchise history. It was a tight vote between five deserving nominees, but ultimately, one of the closers prevailed. His identity, along with the rest of the “Flock 15” team, will be unveiled in the 2014 Ducks Commemorative Yearbook, which will be available for the first time on Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark, Friday, May 2 against the York Revolution.
As for this week, we look at the best managers in Long Island Ducks history. Every manager in franchise history is included in this week’s list of nominees. From Bud Harrelson in the inaugural season to current skipper Kevin Baez, every season in Ducks history is represented. Here are the nominees:
Baez has not only won an Atlantic League championship and been a part of the All-Star Game as a player for the Ducks. He has in fact done both multiple times as a manager for the Flock. The 2004 Atlantic League champion shortstop began his managing career with the Ducks in 2011, following in the footsteps of former big leaguers Gary Carter and Dave LaPoint. Since that point, Baez has led the Flock to over 200 regular season wins, four half-season Liberty Division titles, three consecutive Liberty Division championships and back-to-back Atlantic League titles. The 2002 All-Star has also served as the manager of the Liberty Division All-Star team in 2012 at Camden and 2013 at Southern Maryland. While he has yet to win Atlantic League Manager of the Year honors, the Brooklyn native has gained the utmost respect from his players and will look to become the first manager in league history to “three-peat” as a champion in 2014.
Known around baseball as simply, “The Kid,” Gary Carter managed the Flock for one season (2009). That year, Long Island went 74-66 and won the Second Half Liberty Division title, clinching the team’s sixth consecutive postseason berth. In the postseason, Carter’s Ducks fell to the favored Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in a memorable, five-game Liberty Division Championship Series. His .524 winning percentage overall is the second best in team history behind Bud Harrelson. As a team that year, Long Island finished second in the league in batting (.286), third in slugging (.416) and fourth in home runs (105). The MLB Hall of Famer, who won a World Series as a member of the 1986 Mets, sadly passed away in February of 2012 after a brave battle with Brain Cancer. The Ducks subsequently dedicated the 2012 season to him, wearing #8 patches on the sleeves of player jerseys, and went on to win an Atlantic League championship in his honor.
Adored by New York baseball fans, Harrelson has been involved with the Ducks since their inception in 2000. The first manager in team history, “Buddy” is also a part-owner and the Senior VP of Baseball Operations with the Ducks. Though he only spent one season as skipper of the Flock, Harrelson enjoyed tremendous regular season success, amassing an 82-58 record. That .586 winning percentage is the highest managerial winning percentage in team history. Despite the success, the Ducks were unable to earn a postseason berth in their inaugural season, and Harrelson moved to a coaching role the next season, a position he continues to hold to this day. The two-time World Series champion with the Mets has gone on to help lead the Ducks to three Atlantic League titles in his coaching role with the Flock.
LaPoint managed the Ducks for three seasons (2007-08, 2010) sandwiched around Gary Carter’s lone season as manager of the Ducks. In his three years, LaPoint led Long Island to a 213-191 regular season record along with two playoff appearances. His 213 wins rank him second all-time among Ducks managers behind Don McCormack (399). In his first year at the helm, the former big leaguer led the Flock to a 72-54 record, along with a postseason berth. After falling to the Newark Bears in the Northern Division Championship Series, LaPoint returned the following season and led the Ducks to another winning record (71-69). However, that season would also end with a first round playoff loss, this time to the Camden Riversharks. After serving as the pitching coach under Carter in 2009, LaPoint returned as skipper and posted his third winning season with Long Island in 2010 (70-68). This time though, his team failed to make the postseason.
McCormack, our final nominee, is the longest tenured manager in Ducks history. He spent six seasons at the helm on Long Island and amassed a franchise record 399 wins. While McCormack led the Ducks to four winning seasons and three playoff berths, his most notable season came in the magical 2004 campaign. That year, the Flock finished the regular season with a 65-61 record and earned the first playoff berth in franchise history, but that was only the beginning. After defeating the Nashua Pride in three games to advance to the Atlantic League Championship Series, McCormack’s Ducks swept the Camden Riversharks in three games, earning Long Island its first-ever Atlantic League title. He then went on to make the playoffs the next two years, including a 75-53 regular season record in 2006, before his reign as Ducks manager came to an end.
There they are fans, your 15th Anniversary Team managerial nominees. The preceding names all are some of the most recognizable in franchise history, and each is certainly deserving of a spot. We recognize that this will not be an easy decision. Vote carefully fans because your choice will be for the man that leads the “Flock 15” team. You can cast your ballot in the poll below. Just one more week of voting remains after this!
The weather is getting warmer, the birds have migrated back north, and spring, at long last, seems to be in the air. That means one thing, Ducks fans: Baseball! Players officially report to this weekend, and spring training workouts begin on Monday. Then, just 11 days later, the team hits the road to open up the regular season against the Somerset Patriots on Friday, April 25. Two exciting weeks are about to unfold here on Long Island and around the Atlantic League.
With the start of the season now tantalizingly close, there are only a few spots left on the Ducks 15th Anniversary Team. Last week, fans cast their votes for the best reliever (non-closer) in team history. On Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark (Friday, May 2), fans can see all the winners in a special spread in the 2014 Long Island Ducks Commemorative Yearbook, which will be available beginning on May 2.
This week, we take a look at the best closers in franchise history. Included among the nominees are the a two-time Atlantic League champion, a 2004 ALPB champion, the first closer in Ducks history, a former Yankee and a pitcher affectionately nicknamed, “Bubbie.” Here are the nominees:
Buzachero spent parts of three seasons with the Ducks (2009, 11-12). His debut season saw the right-hander appear in just three games, pitching three and one-third scoreless innings. Before April was finished, he had earned a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Buzachero returned as the closer in 2011, and he put together an outstanding campaign. In 52 appearances, the Tennessee native earned 22 saves and compiled a 7-2 record with a 3.26 ERA and 39 strikeouts. He went on to pitch five postseason games as well, compiling a 1.23 ERA and picking up the win in Long Island’s Liberty Division championship-clinching win over Southern Maryland. After pitching in Australia during the winter and Austria during the first part of 2012, he returned to Long Island for a third season. While his time lasted just four games (one start), the righty’s 2011 campaign makes him worthy of being on this list.
Erdos, a five-year Major League veteran that spent three of those with the Yankees, pitched in parts of three seasons with the Ducks (2005-07). In his first year, the right-hander earned Atlantic League Relief Pitcher of the Year honors. He set a league record with 64 games pitched that season and also led the league in saves with 32 and games finished with 56. Erdos compiled a 3.96 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 61 and one-third innings, earning an Atlantic League All-Star Game selection as well. The Pennsylvania native went on to post a 5-3 record with eight more saves in 25 games during the 2006 season before his contract was purchased by the Brother Elephants in Taiwan during the month of June. Though he struggled during the 2007 campaign over 30 games, Erdos’ standout 2005 season was one of the greatest in franchise history. He retired as the Ducks all-time leader in saves, a record he held until 2009 when another closer on this list (Bill Simas) broke it.
Rosales is the only nominee that is currently on the Ducks active roster and has been a part of back-to-back championship teams on Long Island. He came to the Ducks in a late-season trade during the 2012 season and immediately filled a closer role the team needed. After tossing three scoreless innings in the regular season, he pitched six more games in the postseason, earning saves in all three victories over Southern Maryland in the Liberty Division Championship Series. The righty went on to earn the win in Game Five of the Atlantic League Championship Series to clinch the Ducks first title since 2004. The Los Angeles native returned again in 2013 and put together an All-Star season, going 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA, 18 saves and 45 strikeouts in 38 and one-third innings. He was even better in the playoffs, earning four saves total, three of which came in the ALCS against Somerset. The last of those saves came in Game Five against the Patriots to seal another championship for the Ducks.
Simas, who was chosen for the Ducks All-Time Team during the 10th Anniversary Season in 2009, was the first Ducks closer to receive a championship ring. The righty first joined the Flock in 2004 and posted an impressive 1.95 ERA and 17 saves. Despite signing mid-season with the Seattle Mariners organization, Simas returned to Long Island in September and played a pivotal postseason role in helping the Ducks win their first Atlantic League championship. The California native then spent the next four seasons either playing abroad or out of baseball before returning to the Ducks in 2009. The four-year Atlantic League hiatus did not hurt Simas as he led the league in saves (27) and compiled a 5-4 record with a 2.76 ERA. He returned in 2010 as the pitching coach, but some early season injuries forced the Ducks to activate him early on. Although he hadn’t planned to pitch, the right-hander still put together a 2-1 record, a 3.30 ERA and four saves in 29 appearances. The six-year major league veteran finished his Ducks career as the franchise leader in saves (48) along with a 9-9 record and a 2.59 ERA over 133 appearances.
Wagner was the first closer in Ducks franchise history. Although he only played one season at the Duck Pond during the inaugural 2000 campaign, the former big leaguer wowed everyone with a 2.26 ERA and a league-leading 36 saves. Wagner’s 2.26 ERA was the second lowest in the league for a reliever (Al Sadler, 1.53 ERA) and his 61 appearances tied him for the league lead with Frank Thompson (Newark). In addition, the Iowa native recorded 69 strikeouts compared to just 18 walks over 63 and two-thirds innings of work that year, good for a 9.8 strikeout-per-nine innings ratio. After his time with Long Island, the righty spent three more years in independent baseball, including time in the Atlantic League with the Road Warriors (2002), Newark (2003) and Atlantic City (2003).
While the decision this week might be the toughest among all of the positions to this point, it is also final specific player spot on the 15th Anniversary Team. Following this week, only the Manager spot and the Final Vote position remain. A friendly reminder: if there is a closer that you feel is deserving of a nomination and is not on this list, you can write-in a player by selecting “other” in the poll below and typing in your choice. We’re two weeks away from Atlantic League baseball. Stay tuned all of next week for news, photos and video from spring training at the Duck Pond!
Baseball season is officially upon us, Ducks fans. Teams across Major League Baseball and affiliated baseball have begun their respective 2014 seasons. Here on Long Island, we are exactly three weeks from the beginning of the season on April 25. In the meantime, completion of the Ducks 15th Anniversary Team grows near.
Last week, fans had an opportunity to vote for the best right-handed starting pitcher in franchise history. The voting was neck-and-neck for most of the week between two of the candidates as expected. The winner, along with the rest of the “Flock 15” team, will be announced on Friday, May 2 when the Ducks open their 2014 home schedule.
As for this week, the voting moves on to the bullpen. This week’s list of nominees will be comprised of relief pitchers who are not closers. While these relievers have recorded limited saves in their respective Ducks careers, their primary job was not in the closer’s role. Included among the nominees are four Atlantic League championships, six ALPB All-Star Game selections and a pair of franchise record holders. Here are the nominees:
While Grezlovski is not the longest tenured Duck on this list, he does possess the most Atlantic League experience. The Michigan native played eight seasons in independent baseball, six of which came in the Atlantic League. Grezlovski pitched two of those years with the Flock in 2007 and 2008. In that time, the University of Florida alum compiled a 13-4 record with a 3.57 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 125 appearances. In 2007, he finished second in the league in games pitched (58) to fellow-Duck reliever Danny Graves (62). In addition, he earned an All-Star selection and finished the year with a 7-2 record and a 3.39 ERA. The following season, Grezlovski led the league and set a Ducks record with 67 appearances. The righty went 6-2 with a 3.70 ERA in an impressive 87 and two-thirds innings of work.
Hill pitched two years with the Ducks (2011-12), and is one of three nominees in this category that won a championship on Long Island. Overall, the Dix Hills resident went 13-9 with the Flock while compiling a 3.20 ERA, 29 walks and 97 strikeouts in 111 appearances. Hill started off his Ducks career in fine fashion, going 8-2 in 2011 with a 2.91 ERA and one save over 48 games. The eight wins were the most in a single season among all nominees. The next season, he earned an All-Star Game selection by posting a 3.49 ERA in 67 innings pitched. Hill also finished second in the league in appearances (63) during the 2012 season and retired from baseball after helping lead the Flock to the Atlantic League championship. Prior to pitching on Long Island, he enjoyed parts of the 2002 and 2003 season with the Kansas City Royals where he pitched to a 3.48 ERA.
Lansford represents the only nominee that is currently on the Ducks roster. Brother of teammate Josh Lansford, Jared now enters his third season with the Flock. While his regular season numbers are impressive, it’s his postseason statistics that signify Lansford as a premier reliever in Ducks history. Over two championship runs in the postseason, the California native is 3-0 and has allowed just one run over 12 and one-third innings of work (0.73 ERA). In addition, Lansford has 13 strikeouts compared to just nine hits and one walk in 11 postseason appearances. During the regular season, Lansford is a combined 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA, nine saves and 88 strikeouts in 94 games (104 and two-thirds innings pitched). That includes a 2.98 ERA over 54 and one-third innings of work in 2012 and an All-Star Game selection in 2013.
Valentine is the longest tenured Duck amongst the nominees with four years of experience at the Duck Pond (2007-10). He leads all nominees in games played (147), saves (19), innings pitched (154.0) and strikeouts (138). In addition, Valentine is tied with Grezlovski and Hill in wins with 13. The Deer Park native went 13-8 overall with a 2.86 ERA during his four seasons with the Ducks. Valentine earned two ALPB All-Star Game selections (2008-09) and tied a franchise record in appearances with 67 in 2009. In 2007, Valentine led all Atlantic League relievers in ERA (1.54) by allowing just six earned runs over 35 innings of work. Additionally, he went 4-2 with 37 strikeouts compared to just nine walks. In 2009, Valentine led the league in appearances (67) while totaling a 4-2 record and a 2.96 ERA. Prior to joining the Flock, he pitched in 42 games for the Chicago White Sox over three seasons (2003-05).
Wassermann’s one season with the Ducks (2011) stood out enough to warrant a place among this week’s nominees. The Alabama native was a part of a strong bullpen in 2011 which also included fellow nominee Jeremy Hill. That season, Wassermann went 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 11 saves in 51 appearances. He also recorded 66 strikeouts compared to 12 walks in 63 innings of work, good for the highest strikeout-per-nine innings ratio among nominees (9.4). For his efforts, Wassermann was named a 2011 Atlantic League All-Star. Before pitching with the Ducks, he made 57 appearances for the Chicago White Sox during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Similar to Wassermann, our final nominee also only played one season with Long Island. Zimmerman finished his professional baseball career with the Ducks in 2004, and along with Hill and Lansford, represents the only other nominee to win a championship on Long Island. The righty went 3-2 with a nominee-best 2.28 ERA in his lone season with the Flock. In addition, Zimmerman struck out 36 compared to just 16 walks in his 50 appearances (47 and one-third innings pitched). Possibly the most impressive part of his success was that he had not pitched at all during the 2003 season.
This week’s choice will be even tougher with six nominees to choose from for one spot. Once you’ve made your choice, please be sure to cast your vote in the ballot below. Remember, you can always write in a candidate if you feel someone else is deserving of the position by selecting “other” in the poll below and including the name. Next week, the voting moves on to the best closers in franchise history, and you can bet on an even tougher decision in that category.
Next week marks the beginning of April, which means that Major League Baseball’s Opening Day has just about arrived. While the wait for Opening Day in the Atlantic League is just a tad longer, the time gives us an opportunity to continue voting for the Ducks 15th Anniversary Team. Last week, fans voted quite convincingly for the left-handed starting pitcher they felt most deserving of a spot on the “Flock 15” roster. While his identity will not be revealed until Opening Night at Bethpage Ballpark on May 2, we can safely say that he is extremely deserving of the selection.
This week, the voting turns to the top right-handed starting pitchers in Ducks history. These pitchers have all become synonymous with success on Long Island and are undoubtedly deserving of nominations. This week’s candidates have combined for four Atlantic League championships and three ALPB All-Star Game selections. Here are the nominees:
While Ahearne might be remembered by some for the six seasons he spent with the Bridgeport Bluefish, the California native did enjoy a solid two seasons with the Ducks. He first came to Long Island in 2006 and was immediately successful. The Pepperdine University alum went 12-4 with a 3.47 ERA and just 28 walks and 105 strikeouts in 155 and two-thirds innings of work. His efforts were good enough to earn him a selection as an Atlantic League All-Star, and he helped lead Long Island to the playoffs for a third consecutive year. Ahearne returned to the Flock in 2007, and although he only made four starts, his overall numbers with the Ducks are still impressive. He finished his two-year Ducks career with a 13-7 record, 4.09 ERA and a 116/32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27 career games (26 starts).
The only nominee on the active roster, Brownell is set to return for his third year with the Ducks in 2014. Already a two-time Atlantic League champion, Brownell has enjoyed incredible postseason success. The Oklahoma resident started Game Four in both rounds of the 2012 postseason and dazzled both times out, posting a 2.84 ERA and six strikeouts in 12 and two-thirds innings. Last season, he made three playoff starts and won all three, combining for a 2.88 ERA and 21 strikeouts to just six walks in 25 innings. His final start in Game Five of the Championship Series helped earn him ALCS MVP honors, becoming the first pitcher in team history to earn the honor. Brownell was dominant in the 2013 regular season as well, as he posted a 3.90 ERA and set Ducks single-season records in complete games (7), shutouts (2) and strikeouts (133). The strikeouts were also second-most in the Atlantic League in 2013. That season was good enough to earn him the fan vote for the Ducks/Delmonte-Smelson Team MVP award.
Henderson was the first of these five nominees to ever wear a Ducks uniform and has arguably the best regular season numbers on this list. Henderson played in the first two seasons of baseball on Long Island (2000-01) and compiled a 17-5 record with a 2.39 ERA (lowest among nominees) and 162 strikeouts in 181 innings of work. The Kentucky native was an ace his first year at the Duck Pond, going 9-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 14 games (12 starts). His success continued the next year when he went 8-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 15 games. Ducks fans will forever remember though the night of May 25, 2001 when the Ducks hosted the Atlantic City Surf. Henderson allowed just two walks the entire night while facing just one batter over the minimum, tossing the first and only no-hitter in franchise history. The 108-pitch, 10-strikeout performance was also the first no-no in Atlantic League history.
Loree spent two seasons on Long Island (2011-12), but his first year with the Flock was without a doubt the best the franchise has ever seen. That year, the New Jersey native won a team-record 14 games while losing only five, posted a microscopic 1.98 ERA and struck out a league-leading 131 batters, which was also a Ducks record at the time. He also set a Ducks record for most strikeouts in a game with 14 on September 15 against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. That magical year was more than enough to earn Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year honors and the starting pitcher spot at the Atlantic League All-Star Game in York. Loree excelled in the 2011 postseason as well, leading the Ducks staff with a 2-0 record in three starts and allowing just three runs over 19 innings (1.10 ERA) with 17 strikeouts and two walks. The righty began the 2012 championship season with Long Island and made 18 starts before he was signed by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. In 42 regular season appearances (37 starts) with the Flock, Loree tallied a 19-12 record with a 3.69 ERA, and 220 strikeouts in 227.0 innings. Those wins, strikeouts and innings pitched totals lead all nominees.
The final nominee this week joins Brownell and Loree among nominees that won a championship with the Ducks. Rekar played two seasons with Long Island (2003-04), and was a part of the franchise’s first championship team in 2004. Rekar’s standout season with the Ducks though came the year prior in 2003. That season, the Illinois native went 9-4 with an impressive 2.12 ERA, three complete games (two shutouts) and a 101/17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 140 innings pitched. That earned the Bradley University alum an All-Star Game selection. Rekar returned the next year to make 11 more starts, and his career numbers with the Ducks are quite impressive. His final line looks like this: 11-8, 3.16 ERA, 34 starts, 193 and two-thirds innings pitched, 32 walks and 137 strikeouts.
Those are your nominees for the right-handed starting pitcher spot on the 15th Anniversary Team. If you feel that there is another player deserving of the spot, you can write in a nomination by selecting “other” and typing the name in the poll below. As the excitement for the start of the 2014 season continues to build, the voting for the “Flock 15” continues to remain popular among Ducks fans. We’re less than a month away from Atlantic League baseball!