October 29, 2020

Indy Leagues Serving It All Up Right Now With League Records, MLB Calls and Maybe a 20-Game Winner

September 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Baseball people realize this is a magnificent time of year for numbers crunchers because of the pursuit of various individual and team records, and there certainly will not be any disappointment as this season works toward its climax.

The Independent game is right in the mix with such heady topics to drool over as a couple of league wins totals never seen previously, a great shot at a 20-game winner and all sorts of marks to consider, partly because of the plethora of talented players who are finishing the season on the grandest stage of all, the major leagues.

We probably have not seen the last of the promotions to the majors since the minor league playoffs are only getting started, but the American Association can brag about 10 of its former players now with American or National League teams and the Atlantic League is only one short of that lofty plateau.

Thirty-one players who have worn Independent uniforms are in the majors right now, and no less than 12, which is believed to be a record for one season, have broken into the big time this year alone.  The most recent to get the cherished first call are southpaw James Paxton (Seattle), who threw his first professional pitches for Grand Prairie, TX in the American Association, and catcher Cody Clark (Houston), who has been working his way up the ladder ever since spending virtually all of 2005 with a team known as the San Diego Surf Dawgs of the Golden League, a circuit that expired after the 2010 season.

Wichita Sets Wins Record, Skeeters in Tie

The Wichita (KS) Wingnuts have the distinction of the ultimate in regular-season achievements since they established a new American Association record for most victories (68-32).  Lincoln, NE set the mark in 2006; Fargo, ND equaled it last year.  And, Sugar Land, TX (88-41) has tied the Atlantic League mark (Lancaster, PA, 2012) with 11 games to play.   Somerset, NJ also seems a virtual lock to break the record set just last season since the Patriots have 85 wins with 11 remaining.  SugarLand and Somerset seem destined to be first-round opponents when the Atlantic League playoffs start in two weeks.

“I want to keep grinding (to the end of the regular season),” longtime major league standout and Sugar Land Manager Gary Gaetti said shortly before the Skeeters failed for the third time to eclipse the wins record Wednesday night, not for record sake but to be certain the team is eager for the postseason.

Lancaster’s Pollok Nears New Plateau of 20 Wins 

It is difficult enough to win 20 games in a 162-game major league season although Detroit’s Max Scherzer (19-2), who threw his first professional pitches for the Fort Worth (TX) Cats who were in the American Association when that took place in 2007, is trying to prove otherwise.  Now try it in a shorter Independent season and see how big the challenge becomes.

That is exactly what Dwayne Pollok is trying to accomplish.  The right-hander has tied the Atlantic League record with 18 victories (Dan Reichert did it originally for Bridgeport, CT in the same league in 2010), but the 32-year-old Pollok, who has won his last 12 decisions and was named Pitcher of the Month for August, still has time for three more starts for Lancaster, PA, the first of which was scheduled for this very night (Thursday).

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Clemens’s Sound Like Typical Father and Son

The father-son team of Roger and Koby Clemens continue to draw attention to the Atlantic League as the 51-year-old, who won 354 major league games and seven Cy Young awards, travels to some of the cities to watch the 26-year-old catcher with the Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters, based 30 minutes from their Houston-area home.

“It’s all for my boys”, Roger told The Connecticut Post when he visited Bridgeport this week, of his concentration on the activities of his four sons, who include a restaurant owner, a University of Texas freshman baseball player and a high school junior.

As for Koby, who has a team-record 21 home runs and is the No. 1 backstop, he told The Post  “he’s (Roger) still dad to me.  Just a big three-year-old like most dads are.  So he’s a goofball and I’m a lucky son.”

By BOB DUTTON The Kansas City Star

Updated: 2013-03-26T05:37:57Z

         (This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Forty columns are planned during 2013.  Fans may subscribe at reduced rates at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy added stories on the blog www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

 

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