It’s Amazin’ Mets Night this Sunday, August 9th, at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater as the Somerset Patriots take on the Sugarland Skeeters. 1969 World Series Champs Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool and Ed Charles are scheduled to appear at the ballpark and there will be a team autograph session with the Somerset Patriots from 4-4:25 p.m. prior to the 5:05 p.m. first pitch.
Seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady is hoping to launch a new career as a professional baseball pitcher with the Sugarland Skeeters in the Atlantic League this season.
“Tracy McGrady is one of the most elite athletes of this era and we appreciate his interest in pursuing a life-long dream with the Sugar Land Skeeters and the Atlantic League,” the team said in a statement on Tuesday. “While the Atlantic League is considered the highest level of baseball outside of Major League Baseball, McGrady has demonstrated skill, determination and diligence during his training program at Constellation Field. We look forward to monitoring his progress.”
In 2012, Roger Clemens pitched two games for the Skeeters, so McGrady would not be the first high-profile player signed in a move that many saw as a publicity stunt.
If McGrady can actually pitch at a professional level, this is a win-win for him, the team and the league. However, if the Skeeters sign the former Houton Rockets star solely for his name recognition value, it’s another piece of evidence that the independent baseball’s detractors are right – that it isn’t worth the same level of respect or attention as affiliated Minor League Baseball.
Time will tell.
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Lance Burkhart will become the third manager in Southern Maryland Blue Crabs franchise history this season, the team announced today. The 39-year-old former catcher had served as the hitting coach for the Lancaster Barnstormers for the last four years.
Burkhart replaces Patrick Osborn, who left the Blue Crabs to manage one of the New York Yankees’ two affiliates in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Meanwhile, the Sugarland Skeeters announced that manager Gary Gaetti has agreed to a three-year contract extension. A two-time Major League Baseball All-Star, Gaetti has been the manager of the Skeeters since they entered the Atlantic League in 2012.
In other news, the Somerset Patriots announced that hitting coach Shane Spencer and pitching coach Cory Domel will return for the 2014 season yesterday.
I remember Burkhart and Osborn from their playing days, and I’m happy to see them get a chance to move forward in their coaching careers.
And maybe this year, I’ll finally have a chance to get Shane Spencer’s autograph.
You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickr and Instagram, and follow @PaulsRandomStuf on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.
The Long Island Ducks shut out the Somerset Patriots 4-0 on Saturday night to clinch the final spot in the Atlantic League playoffs.
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.
Roger Clemens, once one of the most feared pitchers in Major League Baseball, will take the mound once again Saturday night for the Sugarland Skeeters.
Randy Hendricks, one of Clemens’ agents, told USA TODAY Sports’ Paul White via e-mail: “It is at this point a fun, local, one time kind of thing. If he does well, he will probably make at least one more home start. He threw 87 mph today with four pitches working, so he looks good to go at this point.”
It should be a unique experience for the Skeeters’ fans and the Bridgeport Bluefish players who will get to face Clemens.