The Long Island Ducks defeated the Somerset Patriots tonight, earning the 2016 Liberty Division Championship title and the right to play the Sugar Land Skeeters this week for the Atlantic League Championship.
The Ducks became just the second team in league history to rally from an 0-2 start to win a best-of-five playoff series. (The 2001 Patriots were the first to pull it off, defeating the Newark Bears.)
Corey Mansfield of the ATL Baseball Blog invited me to go see the Long Island Ducks take on the Somerset Patriots at TD Bank Ballpark on Saturday. With the New York Mets and Trenton Thunder both on the road this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to watch some baseball. I also saw Freddy at the game – it was nice to get to talk to both of you .
Unfortunately, the game wasn’t that much fun. It started off well enough. Former New York Mets manager Willie Randolph accepted an award for community service and threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game started. And for the first four and a half innings, we got to see a competitive game.
But on a cool, windy night, watching the Patriots put up a seven-run fifth inning was a signal to head for the exits if you weren’t concerned with sticking around for the post-game fireworks show. The final score was 14-3, with the Patriots picking up their first victory of the 2012 season.
Atlantic League spring training is underway, and there are quite a few former New York Mets players on the rosters.
Reliever Jorge Julio (2006) is back for his second season with the Bridgeport Bluefish. Pitcher Tobi Stoner (2009-10) will make his Atlantic League debut with Bridgeport after being released from the Mets organization this spring. Outfielder Prentice Redman (2003) will also return for his second season with the Bluefish.
Kevin Baez (1990, 1992-3) is back for his second season as the Long Island Ducks’ manager and his 10th with the organization. Bud Harrelson (1965-77) is a co-owner of the team and is likely to be seen at some games at Bethpage Ballpark this year. While none of the players on the Ducks’ roster ever appeared in a game for the New York Mets, pitcher Eric Niesen was one of the minor leaguers released by the Mets organization this spring.
Infielder Chin-Lung Hu (2011) will make his Atlantic League debut with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs this year.
Pitcher Tim Hamulack (2005) returns to the Lancaster Barnstormers for his third Atlantic League season.
The Somerset Patriots don’t have any former New York Mets players, but pitcher Roy Merritt had been part of the Mets organization until he was released this spring.
I don’t see any former Mets on the spring training rosters of the Camden Riversharks, Sugarland Skeeters or York Revolution either, though there are undoubtedly more players who spent time in the Mets organization on the rosters of the eight Atlantic League teams.
At the moment, it seems as though you’d have better luck checking rosters by visiting the individual team websites than going to AtlanticLeague.com. The league site has incomplete or 2011 information for several teams.
In a few weeks, I’ll take a look at the rosters of the five Can-Am League teams to see how many players I can find with ties to the New York Mets organization.
• The Long Island Ducks announced their 2010 coaching staff on Tuesday. To no one’s surprise, Dave LaPoint will return to manage the team. Kevin Baez will be back as infield coach, and Buddy Harrelson will continue as the team’s part-time first base coach.
Ducks’ all-time saves leader Bill Simas joins the staff as the team’s pitching coach. Simas was 5-4 with a 2.76 ERA and 27 saves for Long Island last year. I wonder if he’s really done pitching or if he’ll find a way back onto the roster at some point this summer.