Our recreational baseball milestones don't mean much to most people. To 99% of people, we do nothing more than goof around and play ball in the park on Saturdays. There are the select few, though -- our best friends -- who understand that our love of the game runs much deeper than a pickup game in the park. It goes beyond Saturday afternoons. To those that share our passion for the game, our little milestones serve as nostalgic reminders of what Gateway Baseball came from, what it is now, and what it will continue to become.
For 5 years, you've helped me create a sort of baseball paradise for guys like us. You've set the bar on the field for the rest of us to strive for. Today, that bar got raised a little higher. Here's to many more years of baseball, many new friends, and of course, many more home runs.
On July 9th, the most powerful hitters in the League square off in the longest running tradition in Gateway Baseball. The Home Run Derby packs more power into one night than any other of the entire season. The two finalists of this event are awarded the All-Star title, and the winner earns his league 3 additional home games in the 2016 Gateway Championship. As All-Star Weekend approaches, the contestants for the Home Run Derby have been selected.
One swing sent a charge into the visiting bench on Saturday afternoon. Tied at 1 in the top of the 5th inning, Dalton Kipper came to the plate with two runners on.
Being his first game with the League, Dalton had struck out his previous two at bats, and the only noise coming from the bench was the discussion of who would pitch the bottom of the inning. That changed when the rookie Kipper connected with an off-speed pitch from Chris Bequette that sent the bench into an absolute frenzy. Dalton's three run blast put the Pirates ahead 4-1, and energized the entire team. David Lankford would add insult to injury with another home run in the inning. Tyler McCann hit a solo home run to in the bottom of the 5th to make it a 5-2 game, but that score would hold through to the end.
Only three games into the season, and heroics are already coming from unlikely sources. We can't wait to see what the rest of the season has in store!
Corey Knisley and Tony Francik are the first players to benefit from the player contract rules, that were included in the 2016 rules package for the Gateway Baseball League. The rule states that players and captains may enter into contracts, that will be enforced by the GBC. This protects the player from random trades and drops, as well as the captain from uncooperative players.
Kyle Knisley was the first captain to take advantage of this by signing both teammates to hefty contracts.
Tony Francik, the 2015 Home Run Derby champion, rode a massive hot streak after being traded to the Cardinals from the Athletics in late June. His dual use as an outfielder and a pitcher was a perfect fit on the Cardinals, and was an integral part of their National League Championship. Clearly, his value was recognized, because he was offered and accepted a 5-year deal with the team.
Corey Knisley, the league leader in all-time and single season home runs, was rewarded an even more hefty contract; twice as hefty, in fact. He's tied down with a 10-year deal, which includes a no-trade clause.
We think it's safe to say the Cardinals won't be changing any time soon. The question now is, with so much uncertainty in the rest of league, will these contracts help stabilize the league, and who will be the next to sign?
The Gateway Bat Company is proud to introduce the Legacy Series. This new masterpiece is made from hand-split, elite maple, and finished with a mahogany stain and a beautiful metallic gold label.
The elite maple used in the Legacy Series is the same grade wood that is used in all other Gateway maple bats. The difference is, each billet is carefully inspected prior to turning the bat, and is guaranteed by the mill to meet Major League specifications.
The Legacy Series will be available in a wide variety of turn models, and will be on sale soon.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
By: Alec McChesney
On a night where there were not expected to be many runs at all, the Chicago Cubs wasted no time getting on the board. After a single and a stolen base, Dexter Fowler was knocked in by Kyle Schwarber to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The duo was at it again in the third inning. After another single by Fowler, the rookie (Schwarber) launched a monstrous home run giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Dexter Fowler continued his tear, hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning putting Chicago up four. Four runs was more than enough for Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta. Coming into the night, Arrieta was 16-0 when his team scored three or more runs on the season.
Arrieta took the four run lead and never looked back. He was electric all game, striking out eleven batters, allowing only four hits while walking zero. He became the first pitcher in postseason history to throw a 9-inning shutout while eclipsing ten strikeouts and walking none. For the most part, this was a very anti-climatic baseball game. However, the Pirates were not going to go down without a fight (literally). In the seventh inning, reliever Tony Watson drilled Arrieta in the hip with a 93 MPH fastball. This was in retaliation to Arrieta hitting two Pirates earlier in the game.
Arrieta and Watson entered into a classic stare down and immediately, the benches cleared. Fortunately, no extra activities really took place. The teams met on the first base line, argued and yelled and were ultimately separated. Sean Rodriguez was the lone player who was ejected for his part in the "brawl". Rodriguez was replaced in the third inning by Pedro Alvarez and let all of his frustrations out onto the Gatorade cooler before being sent to the showers.
Arrieta was able to retire the ninth in order and the celebration began in Chicago and in Pittsburgh. For the first time since 2003, the Chicago Cubs won a playoff game. And for the first time in the history of baseball, the Chicago Cubs and the Saint Louis Cardinals will play in a playoff series. The National League Divisional Series begins on Friday night in Saint Louis. Jon Lester will take the mound for the Cubs; he will be up against John Lackey, who will start game one for the Saint Louis Cardinals.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
By: Alec McChesney
On a quiet day in the rest of the sports' world, the 2015 MLB playoffs finally began, and they did not disappoint. Dallas Keuchel was as good as advertised going six innings giving up zero runs on just three days of rest. Oh, and the Astros' line-up did what they do best: hit home runs. Masahiro Tanaka lasted only four innings, giving up home runs to Carlos Gomez and Colby Rasmus. Both of the home runs were off of the first pitch and were absolute moon-shots. Jose Altuve joined the fun, hitting an RBI single off of Dellin Betances in the seventh inning which pushed the Astros' lead to three. Dallas Keuchel handed the ball off to the bullpen to finish the game. And finish the game they did, Tony Sipp, Will Harris and Luke Gregerson pitched three scoreless innings. Thanks to some power and excellent pitching, the Astros escaped the Bronx with a 3-0 victory.
In a very interesting move, Jacoby Ellsbury was a healthy scratch for the Yankees tonight. Chris Young and Brett Gardener started in the outfield and were extremely underwhelming. Ellsbury did not make an appearance until he pinch hit in the eighth inning with two outs and no one on. His at-bat ended shortly with a pop-up to the short stop. In defense of Young and Gardener, the New York Yankees' offense as a whole was extremely disappointing. They were only able to muster three hits and zero runs against the Houston staff.
The lone bright spot for the Yankees was experience. Dellin Betances, Greg Bird, Andrew Miller, Didi Gregorious, and Rob Refsnyder all gained valuable experience by playing in this game. For the first time in many years, the Yankees have a good young core and an extremely bright future. Although their surprising playoff run came to an end, the Astros' journey is only just beginning.
Houston will now face off against the Kansas City Royals in the 2015 American League Divisional Series. The series will begin on Thursday night in Kansas City. The Royals are expected to be heavily favored, but Houston's power and pitching can not be taken lightly. Look for this series to potentially go all five games with the Kansas City Royals coming out on top.
The Wild Card games continue tomorrow night in Pittsburgh as the Chicago Cubs will take on the Pirates at 7 pm central time. This match up should be extremely exciting as two young line-ups face off against each teams' ace. Jake Arrieta squares off against Gerrit Cole in what figures to be a pitching affair. The winner of this game will meet the Saint Louis Cardinals in the National League Divisional Series.
Padres captain Chris Bequette has been moved to the Disabled List after suffering a pulled muscle in his lower back earlier this week. The Padres will likely turn to Gateway rookie Julian Branham for relief this weekend. Branham filled in for Lucas Voelker during a large portion of the season, while Voelker was out with a serious stress fracture. In fact, Voelker had only returned on August 15, making it only two weeks that the Padres played together as a team since their first stint with the DL early in the season.
Branham may only be a temporary solution, however, as the September Call-Ups will be made before the game on September 5th. If the Padres do pick up Branham as their call up, they would be left shorthanded until Bequette was able to return. According to the GBC rule on September Call-Ups, the Padres will not be able to use fill in players once the call ups have taken place. All of this leaves the Padres in a tight spot entering the last month of the regular season. Hopes remain the Chris Bequette will make a quick recovery, and a full, healthy, 4-person team will be ready for the Postseason.
In 2015, the Gateway Baseball Club introduced a mandatory helmet rule, requiring a helmet on all batters, with at least one ear flap on the ear facing the pitcher. Since the rule was put into practice, a few players (including the Club's leading HR hitter, Corey Knisley) have gotten hit in the head. These potentially serious injuries have turned out to be nothing more than a ringing in the ears, thanks to the helmet requirements.
Now, the Gateway Cardinals have taken thinks one awesome looking step forward. This week, the team placed an order for multiple Schutt Air Maxx T helmets. We don't yet know when these helmets will make their introduction to the field, but it's expected that we'll see them in the Postseason at the latest. Until then, take a look at these photos.
Monday August, 17, 2015
By: Alec McChesney
The Sports Table
The Saint Louis Cardinals are 7-3 in their last 10 games which brings their overall record to 75-42. An astounding 33 games over five hundred with forty-five games remaining on the schedule. They have a run differential of +123, which is second best to the power hitting Toronto Blue Jays. However, what has really made the Cardinals click this season is their pitching. They rank in the Top 5 in the four main pitching categories. They are currently first in the MLB with a 2.60 team era, second in Quality Starts (79), and fifth in both WHIP and Batting average against. Whether it's luck, skill, or simply the Cardinals way, the team does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. This brings about my current question: Who can stop the Saint Louis Cardinals from getting that ever so elusive 12th Championship?
Let's first look at the team in our own division, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although the Pirates have played excellent ball this season, they are still 5 games behind the Birds and only 2.5 games ahead of the soaring Chicago Cubs. There are many obstacles in the Pirates path of stopping the Cardinals, but the main one is the Cardinals. The Cardinals recently took two of three from the Pirates and have actually dominated them all season. Following the Pirates, the Dodgers are the team next in line to stop The Birds on the Bat. Led by Greinke and Kershaw, Los Angeles has the ability to defeat any team in a best of 5 or best of 7 series. The biggest issue for the Dodgers heading into the postseason is their offense. If their offense can match the performances of the pitching staff, look for the Dodgers to win the National League Pennant. Although they still have a fight to even make the playoffs, the San Francisco Giants are a team that could knock off the Cardinals. Obviously, as seen in recent history, all that team needs to do is make the playoffs to have a chance to bring home hardware. And, they have seemed to be a bit of a thorn in the side of the Birds over the last few years. We shall see if they are able to catch up to the Dodgers, or hold off the Cubs and Pirates for one of the two National League Wild Card spots.
Heading to the American League, the Kansas City Royals immediately jump out as title contenders and a team who has the assets to defeat Saint Louis in a best of seven. Heading into the trade deadline, the Royals were favorites for the American League Pennant, and they added utility star Ben Zobrist and Ace Johnny Cueto. These additions, pairing up with an already excellent team bode well for the Kansas Royals heading into October. Hopefully for Royals fans, they will be able to party like it's 1985 all over again. Although the Royals have been the class of the American League, no one can forget about the Los Angeles Angels. Any team that has Albert Pujols and sure-fire MVP Mike Trout, has a chance to compete for a World Series. The Halos have been awful on the road which is the reason they currently sit 3.5 games back of the Astros in the American League West. I still give them the benefit of the doubt even though their position looks bleak at the moment. If they make the playoffs, as a division winner or from a Wild Card position, they are immediately a force to be reckoned with. Saving the best for last, the Toronto Blue Jays are a huge threat to the Saint Louis Cardinals title aspirations. Adding Troy Tulowitzki to their already potent line-up creates a fantasy team type line-up for on field play. Not only did the team go out and acquire the top shortstop in the game, they brought in All-Star David Price as well. One thing is for certain, no one wants to see Toronto in the playoffs. In their last nineteen games, the Jays are a ridiculous 16-3 and are only continuing to get hotter.
Personally, I believe that the Royals and the Blue Jays pose the biggest threats to the Cardinals. The Royals have an excellent all-around team and are a lot like the Birds. Because of that, I believe the series would be one for the ages, but with the Royals having a very real chance to pull off the victory. The bigger threat to everyone's aspirations, however, is the Toronto Blue Jays. You took two individuals, in Tulo and Price, who were not playing for playoff teams and added them into the mix for a team that already had unlimited swagger and confidence. This team oozes confidence and the love of winning. Oh, and it also helps that every time through the line-up, a home run is bound to happen.
Thanks for reading, please tell us who you think poses the biggest threat by answering our poll! Give us your feedback by commenting and we will talk October Baseball! For more on the playoffs and all sports, follow the link: www.thesportstable.net