I had some travel time and decided to attempt another quick write-up about my PBDL team. I originally wanted to write a piece that supposedly followed the team for six days, but as I began to write I realized that the length of that piece would be enough to quantify it as a novel so I decided to change it to a simple "day" with the team. I did not have time to thoroughly edit it, but I enjoyed writing it so I thought I would share.
*BNN visited the Calgary Flames for the first game of a 9 game road trip.*
After winning 15 of their first 21 games, the Calgary Flames seemed destined for a quick return to the Silver League. However, the Flames have struggled of late, capturing victory in just 10 of their last 24 matchups and sporting an unimpressive pythagorean record of 21-24. “[Our record of] 25-20 is right where we want to be,” suggests Calgary GM/Manager Brendan Dames, “pythagorean is just another word for ‘hypothetical.’ We haven’t been playing fantastic baseball recently but there is always a game to be won tomorrow.”
The Flames are preparing for the first game of a nine-game, ten-day road trip, in which they will visit Nashville, Philadelphia and Boston. The Flames have not only battled the demands of a tough schedule, but have battled a bill of poor health. On a recent homestand, Calgary saw six players succumb to injuries, five of which placed “everyday” players on the disabled list. “I’ve given up on the idea of ‘fair’ in baseball,” says Dames. “It is what it is. But seeing guys like David [Robinson] and Mel [Boone] have a chance to play in the big leagues is what keeps me coming back every day.”
It hasn’t been an easy few years for the Calgary skipper, watching his team fall from Gold to Bronze in four short seasons. Once a team considered “on the rise,” the Flames have missed the playoffs four of the past five seasons. “It’s been a rather quick fall if that’s what we are going to call it, and it’s been especially hard to see our failures on the field when I see the amount of effort my players and staff put into this whole process. But I’ll tell you it’s not nearly as hard as making the playoffs five straight seasons, twice as a top seed mind you, and not winning [a championship].”
From 2032-2036, the Flames managed to only win one postseason series in six attempts. No postseason loss hurt nearly as bad as the 2034 Silver Semifinals, however. “In 2034 we were the class of Silver - 59 wins and no real competition in sight. We were at full strength, confidence high…and we lost in six games [in a best of nine] to a team that barely managed a winning record. The first round…we were being promoted to Gold but that disappointment washed away any sense of accomplishment we should have felt.”
After an impressive 46-38 record in the team’s first season in Gold, which saw yet another first round postseason exit, the Flames began the slide which has brought them back to Bronze. “Going from an upstart, winning organization to one in which people began to question wasn’t hard for me, but it began to take a toll on the players I believe. It’s always fun being the underdog because nobody truly expects David to beat Goliath; it’s OK to lose. But when you’re no longer the underdog, losing isn’t acceptable anymore and the fans and media will let you know that.”
In an effort to remain competitive, Dames and Flames have made several "big-name trades," as well as relied heavily on veterans via free agency. "We always explore every option, whether that be via trade, free agency, waivers, and year after year we have made the executive decision that it is better for our team not only short term, but also long term, to hold on to valuable assets such as Dre [Girard] and Juan [de los Santos]. The value we would receive in return for these young, superstar players was simply too low." Instead of trading away their major league pieces, the Flames shocked PBDL executives and media members by trading several prospects for two-time Gold Dynamic Hurler Award Winner SP Kiyoshi Saikawa. "I know people on the outside chastised us for the move, but the value was too good to pass up and we unquestionably made our team better in the short term, and in my humble opinion most likely better in a long term view as well." While the perception of the Flames' recent moves are split, Flames owner Justin Clay has still been both patient and loyal to his staff. “For that I am extremely thankful,” says the Flames skipper. “I want to win a ring for him and this city.”
Although the team is back in Bronze for the first time in 10 seasons, Dames does not believe he nor his players are “embarrassed” by the Bronze label. “There is no reason to be embarrassed to be in this league, absolutely not. The competition down here is legitimate and if we sat around feeling sorry about ourselves we would finish 8th in this league too. The talent down here is much stronger than it was when we were here a decade ago. I mean look at Dallas' incredible staff and then look at their record. It shows how hard it is to win down here, and I’m happy for that because it’s only going to make us stronger when we get back [to Silver and Gold].”
July 24th, 2042
Calgary (25-20) at Nashville (35-10)
“These guys are the real deal,” Dames tells the media during his pregame press conference. “I’ve seen the best of the best and the Predators have it all. I look at their rotation and it doesn’t have a weak spot. The lineup may not have the big names, but it can really produce.” The Predators are currently sitting pretty at the top of the Bronze standings, winning 35 of the team’s 45 games thus far, including four of six against the Flames.
Tonight, the Flames will face right-hander Henry Peterson, who is making his second big-league start of the season. “Not much tape on him this year,” says Calgary 2B Frank Case, “but he’s made a lot of starts in the past few seasons that we’ve looked at.” Case and the Flames have not been a member of the Bronze League for ten seasons, so many players have never previously faced the Bronze starters they see each night. “Such as life in a pro/reg league, I guess,” says Case, who is always “the first and last one in the film room,” according to his skipper.
It has not been a strong start for the Flames offense, ranking 6th of 8 in BRZ runs scored and 7th in team batting average (.234). Several hitters have are having career-worst years, such as veterans Greg Battle (.254/.290/.399) and Bill Anderson (.127/.312/.245). “Nothing short of frustrating,” exclaims Anderson. “I know I haven’t been down [in BRZ] for a while but I don’t think you’re supposed to hit worse here than in the upper leagues.” Anderson’s abysmal average is at least accompanied by a respectable on-base percentage due to the veteran’s great discipline. “A walk is a good as a single, sure, but I should be able to hit .127 blind-folded, so no, there is no positive to my performance this year,” Anderson says sarcastically as he walks off to receive his daily medical treatment. Sitting in his locker next to Anderson’s is designated hitter Greg Battle, who is currently sporting career lows in average, OBP, SLG and OPS. “Please don’t ask me about my year,” he jokes.
A member of the Flames’ dominant 2034, Battle has since won two championships in the PBDL; a Bronze title with Colorado in 2037, and a Gold one with Vancouver in 2041. He re-signed in Calgary to win the franchise’s first championship, but knows that the team has a long way to go to accomplish this task. “As a team we’re not quite where we need to be, but we’re winning games with an injured roster that is also underachieving in my opinion, so we’ll be alright.”
As Battle mentioned, the Flames have yet to win a title in their team’s history. While this fact may not seem noteworthy due to the franchise’s relative youth, it is frequently mentioned around the league as they are the only remaining PBDL franchise that has yet to win a postseason championship at any level. “To be honest, it does not bother me that we have that label as the ‘only team to never do it.’ I could care less that every other team has won, but I couldn’t care more that we’ve not been able to do it ourselves, for this city. That is the motivation for us every time we step on the field.”
Pitching for the Flames tonight is newly acquired RHP Kiyoshi Saikawa. Traded to Calgary via Detroit, Saikawa signed an eight year, $13,200,000 extension to potentially keep Saikawa in Calgary through 2050. The two-time Gold Dynamic Hurler Award Winner, as well as two-time Gold Champion, has had good success with his new team, sporting a 4-4 record with a 3.21 ERA. However, the Flames have lost five of Saikawa’s last six starts. “We need to find a way to score some runs for this guy,” remarks Dames.
The first pitch is thrown by Peterson at 7:05 on the nose, officially beginning the Flames road trip. The Flames score three runs off of Peterson in the first inning, with the big 2 out, 2 RBI double coming off the bat of rookie David Robinson, making his third ever major league appearance. The crooked number in the first inning sets the tone for the rest of the evening, as the Flames score ten runs on fourteen hits to defeat the first place Predators 10-2. In a winning effort, the ace Saikawa pitched seven strong innings, allowing just seven baserunners and one earned run while striking out seven. “Would you look at that? Ten runs for Sai[kawa] got it done. Imagine that,” jokes a smiling Dames.
As the team shuffles back into the visiting clubhouse, loud music begins to play out of the locker of backup catcher Jim Finch’s locker. “My man Jim over there can’t do anything on the field so he likes to celebrate our successes with us off the field,” jokes the veteran Anderson, whose 2 for 4 night rose his average to .140. Anderson, who also walked twice and drove in two runs, confessed, “even after doing this for as long as I have, tonight feels really good…let’s hope the blindfold is off for good.”
As the players joke, sing and clean up before the incoming onslaught of postgame media members, one player is noticeable quiet in the corner of the clubhouse: the Flames superstar 1B Andre Girard. “Dre is kind of a quiet guy,” says Flames SP Juan de los Santos, who has played with Girard for three seasons now. “Does his business on the field and takes care of it off the field. It’s not that he doesn’t get along with us, he just rather put in his earbuds then engage in small talk, if you know what I mean.” Girard, a career .305/.475/.528 hitter, has been the lone consistent figure in the Flames’ lineup for the past five seasons. Although Girard has made numerous comments to the media about his unhappiness with the constant change of personnel, the first baseman indicated last week that he would consider signing an extension with the Flames after the season concluded.
As media members begin to enter the clubhouse, Finch turns off the loud music and the players file back to their respective lockers. The celebration is over, at least for tonight. There is another game to be won tomorrow.
Last edited by Calgary (SIL)
on Wed May 10, 2017 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2032 Bronze League Regular Season Champions
2034 Silver League Regular Season Champions
2044 Bronze League Regular Season Champions
Calgary GM since 2030.
Chicago GM 2018-2020