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.)
Brad Halsey, a former major league pitcher who also played for the Trenton Thunder and Long Island Ducks, died Friday in a recreational climbing accident, according to a USA Today report. No details about Halsey’s death have been officially made public – the news was initially shared by his former agent.
Halsey, 33, began his career in the New York Yankees organization and played for the Trenton Thunder in 2003 as a prospect. He later returned to the team at the end of his professional career in 2011 after a stint in indy baseball that included a season with the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks in 2009.
One of Halsey’s claims to fame was being traded for Randy Johnson in 2005. Halsey was also the pitcher who surrendered Barry Bonds 714th career home run in 2006, which tied the San Francisco Giants’ slugger with Babe Ruth‘s career mark.
Halsey pitched in 88 major league games for the Yankees, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Oakland Athletics between 2004 and 2006. His career record was 14-19 with a 4.84 ERA.
While Halsey appeared on over 200 different baseball cards, I only have two in my collection: one from Upper Deck SP Prospects from 2004 and one from the Topps flagship set in 2006.
From 2005 through 2010, I was very involved in following Atlantic League baseball. So I really enjoy sets like this year’s Long Island Ducks 15th Anniversary Season team set that my friend Kristi picked up for me during a recent trip to Bethpage Ballpark.
The 16-card set includes 13 players who were chosen as the best to play their position in franchise history, as well as the team’s best manager, a player who received the “final vote” and an unnumbered checklist card. I think all of the player choices are solid ones, but I’d be interested in hearing from any Ducks fans on what they think of the selections.
On Saturday, Long Island Ducks President Michael Pfaff emailed Newsday‘s Mark Herrmann to suggest that Rodriguez would be welcome to play there in 2014, should he be unable to convince a federal court to overturn his Major League Baseball suspension.
“While some MLB suspensions have been honored by the Atlantic League in the past, if Alex Rodriguez were unable to participate in the major leagues this season, we would be open to exploring giving him a chance to play, stay sharp and compete against a high level of competition while helping the Ducks chase a third consecutive championship,” Pfaff’s email said.
Today, Somerset Patriots Chairman Steve Kalafar made it clear that Rodriguez would not be welcome to join his team.
“The Somerset Patriots honor the decisions and suspensions in our working relationship with Major League Baseball,”Kalafar said in a team-issued statement. “We would expect all other teams within the Atlantic League to operate the same as allowing a suspended player to continue playing and representing any of our teams would be a hurtful precedent.”
The Ducks host the first two games of the Championship Series on Wednesday & Thursday nights at 6:35 p.m. at Bethpage Ballpark. The Patriots will host the third game on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at TD Bank Ballpark. If necessary, Somerset would also host games four and five on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday at 5:05 p.m., respectively.
All four Atlantic League playoff teams were in action Wednesday night.
Somerset 3, Sugar Land 2
The Somerset Patriots took a commanding two-games-to-none lead in their best-of-five series with the Sugar Land Skeeters with their 3-2 victory. (box) Somerset’s David Harden and Sugar Land’s Jason Lane (yes, the former Houston Astros outfielder) matched up fairly evenly, each allowing two runs. But the Patriots’ bullpen was better than the Skeeters’. Somerset’s Eddy Martinez-Esteve and Sugarland’s Koby Clemens (yes, Roger’s son) hit home runs.
After a travel day on Thursday, the Freedom Division series resumes at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater at 7:05 p.m. on Friday.
Long Island 6, Southern Maryland 2
The Long Island Ducks bested the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 6-2 in the first game of the Liberty Division series on Wednesday night. (box) John Brownell earned the complete game victory for the Ducks, striking out 12. Nick Schwaner and Jeremy Owens hit home runs for the Blue Crabs, while Bryant Nelson and Adam Bailey homered for the Ducks.
The series continues Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip, N.Y.