The Division Championship Series will begin on Tuesday, with the Sugarland Skeeters hosting the Patriots.
On Wednesday, the Skeeters and Patriots will play game two of their series, while the Ducks will host the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the first game of theirs at 6:35 p.m.
Thursday, the Ducks and Blue Crabs play game two, again at 6:35 p.m., while the Skeeters and Patriots have a travel day.
On Friday, Somerset will host Sugarland at 7:05 p.m., and the Blue Crabs will host the Ducks as each series moves to game three.
Saturday and Sunday will be games four and five, if necessary, in each series.
The Atlantic League Championship Series is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Sept. 25, hosted by the winner of the Long Island vs. Southern Maryland series.
The Somerset vs. Sugarland series may not be the championship series, but it is a match up of the Atlantic League’s two best teams. Heading into the season’s final day, the Skeeters have a 94-45 record and the Patriots are 90-48. They are the best and second best records in Atlantic League history.
By contrast, Southern Maryland is 64-74 (37-32 in the first half when they won the Liberty Division title) and Long Island is 62-77 (32-37 in the second half.) The Lancaster Barnstormers have a 72-66 record, but by virtue of the division structure and Atlantic League playoff format, they will be finished for the season tomorrow afternoon.
Dontrelle Willis, Ramon Castro and Ian Snell were among some of the ex-big leaguers who were on hand for the Long Island Ducks fan fest yesterday. Strong Island Grapher has a recap of the event from an autograph collector’s perspective.
The Ducks’ latest addition is former major league catcher Ramon Castro, who played for the New York Mets from 2005 until 2009.
New Jersey fans will have to wait awhile to see the Long Island Ducks – they make their first trip into the Garden State for a weekday series against the Camden Riversharks from May 20-23. They return to Camden for another weekday series from June 17-20 before making their first trip to Bridgewater to play the Somerset Patriots in a weekend series from June 28-30.
A few familiar names crossed the Atlantic League transaction wire last week.
Timoniel Perez, an outfielder for the New York Mets from 2000-2003, signed with the Long Island Ducks on July 6th. The 37-year-old veteran of eight major league seasons and his Ducks teammate Armando Benitez are likely the last two active players who were part of the Mets last World Series team. The Ducks are managed by 1990-93 Mets infielder Kevin Baez, and Mets Hall of Famer Bud Harrelson is a part-time coach and part-owner of the team.
Pitchers Tobi Stoner and Sean Green signed with the Somerset Patriots last week. Stoner had short cups of coffee with the Mets in 2009 and 2010. Green spent 2009 and 2010 with the Mets after coming over in a three-team, 12-player deal that also brought J.J. Putz to New York. While Green was a reliever during his six-year major league career, it appears that the Patriots plan to use him as a starter.
Jorge Julio, a pitcher for the 2006 New York Mets team, is playing for the Bridgeport Bluefish. Chin-lung Hu, an infielder on last year’s Mets team, had been playing for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs until he was placed on the inactive list this weekend.
The Can-Am League, the other independent baseball league with teams in New Jersey, has roster rules that limit teams’ ability to sign players with major league experience. The New Jersey Jackals have the only former Met — 2009 Mets infielder Angel Berroa — on their roster. Berroa spent nine years in the big leagues and was the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year.
Perez is a likely replacement for Matt Esquivel who will be sidelined for a good portion of the rest of the season with a shoulder injury and after having surgery on his hand. However, the signing of Perez may be held up do to a hang up with Perez being able to get a visa.
Perez, now 37, made his major league debut with the Mets in September 2000. He provided a spark for the team down the stretch, then in the playoffs he filled in for Derek Bell after he sprained his ankle in the first game of the Division Series.
Perez is best remembered for a botched baserunning play in the first game of the 2000 World Series: when Todd Zeile hit a long fly ball that Perez assumed was a home run, however it remained in play and Perez was thrown out a home. If Perez had scored, the Mets would have taken the lead in the game and who knows what might have happened from there?
Perez spend parts of eight seasons in the big leagues, playing for the Mets, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers, mainly as a reserve outfielder. While he hasn’t appeared in a major league game since 2007, Perez has been playing in the minors and in independent baseball. He was a New Jersey Jackal in 2009.
Should Perez sign with the Ducks, he will not be their only New York Mets connection. Bud Harrelson, a the shortstop on the 1969 World Series champion Mets, is a part-owner of the Long Island franchise, as well as an executive and part-time coach. Ducks manager Kevin Baez was a backup infielder for a short time on the early 1990s Mets teams.