Team of the Week: Montgomery Biscuits

I’m sorry if you have had breakfast already but there is a minor league team in Montgomery, Alabama that probably makes everyone hungry in the Southern League.  The Biscuits are the Class AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.  They have been in Montgomery since 2004 and play in Montgomery’s Riverwalk Stadium.  

The Biscuits were baked when the Orlando Rays began to decline in attendance from 2000-2003.  The owners announced the team would move to Montgomery.  The Biscuits name was selected from 4,000 entries in a “name the team” contest largely due to the potential marketing possibilities.  The team’s souvenir store is called the “Biscuit Baker” and you may often hear fans chant “Hey Butter Butter” at opposing batters.  During games, biscuits are shot from an air cannon into the stands.

The Biscuits won back-to-back league titles in 2006 & 2007.

Most notable former players are:  Matt Diaz, Evan Longoria, David Price, B.J. Uptown and Seth McClung.

The Biscuits are currently in second place in the Southern League’s North Division with a record of 28-22 in the second half of the season.  They finished 34-36 in the first half.

First Baseman Patrick Leonard leads the team in batting with a .319 batting average.  Taylor Guerrieri leads the Biscuits with the most wins on the pitching staff.  He has a record of 12-5.

The latest news on the Biscuits is not good as one of their fans suffered a “horrifying” eye injury from a foul ball at a recent game.  An errant line drive rocketed into the stands above the home team’s dugout near third base, hitting the woman in the head.  Critics are arguing the case for extended netting to protect fans from stray balls and broken bats at the stadium.


Timeouts In Life

The daily routine is grinding.  I often feel like I am on a treadmill that never seems to end.  Fortunately, I do have weekend breaks but one day is usually filled with chores and errands that can’t be done during the week.  

It helps when you can take a timeout.  

This weekend my wife surprised me with a weekend at an Airbnb in the country at the Gratidude Ranch between Fairview and Leipers Fork, Tennessee.  The first thing I noticed was the absence of traffic sounds.  Just the sounds of nature filled my ears.  Crickets and the horses eating the grass near us.   It is the typical country farm setting that we don’t experience everyday. 

Having time to take a timeout in everyday life is important because our minds and our bodies need to take a break from the constant motion.  We are not machines.  Every machines breakdown or parts wear out.  

We need time to slow down and listen to nature.  Embrace the silence.  Rest.  That’s why God encouraged us to have a day of rest.  I know some religious folks take the sabbath day to the extreme and some have even made an entire religion out of it.  Is it not surprise that we had to mess up a simple thing as rest?   No, it’s too simple.  There has got to be more to it than that.  

Chill out.  Rest.  Relax.  

We work too hard at too many things not to take a break.  I welcome the rest and time just to lay in a hammock and watch the clouds go by.  Listen to the occasional huff sound made by a horse or the popping of the tin roof when the sun goes in and out of the clouds. 

Why does the quiet scare us?  Why do we fear of doing nothing?  Why is rest looked at as being lazy?

When we lived in Tampa I always observed how stressed people were to find a way to relax.  People were impatient in a place you would think they would be laid back.  It turned out to be more stressful to go to the beach than it did just to stay home.  

Stop.  Enjoy today.  Take a break.  

If God needed a day of rest don’t you think we need it too?

Friday Flashback:  1972 Olympic Men’s Basketball Final

It was the shot heard around the world when Alexander Belov scored on an uncontested layup at the buzzer to give the Soviet Union a 51-50 victory and dealt the United States their first loss in Olympic men’s basketball.  Team USA had won 63 straight games and seven gold medals in the sport before that game.

The final three seconds of the Gold Medal final is perhaps the most controversial three seconds in Olympic basketball history.  After being fouled, USA’s Doug Collins made both free throws to give his team a 50-49 lead for the first time in the game.  After the Soviets inbounded the ball, the referees stopped the game with one second remaining.  The decision was made to put three seconds back on the clock after the Soviets claimed that they had called for a timeout between the two free throws by Collins.  The game official never acknowledged the timeout.  After the Soviets brought the ball inbounds, the horn sounded for what should have ended the game and a Team USA win; however, referees ruled that the clock had not been properly reset to show three seconds remaining.  Belov caught a full court pass and scored the winning basket as he rose between two USA players to make the layup.

It was certainly a bizarre series of events.  You can see the video by clicking here.

The USA filed a formal complaint with the International Basketball Federation but they ruled in favor of the Soviets.  Team USA refused to accept the Silver Medal.    

Even years after the controversial game, most of the players feel strongly about refusing the medal even when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) offered to award them at the 1992 Olympics.  A few have relented but would only accept the medal if it was unanimous among the team.  It is reported that Kenny Davis still strongly opposes so much that he has even had a clause put in his will forbidding his wife, children or descendants from ever accepting the silver medal after his death.  

Team USA teams have gone 59-3 since that game winning seven of the last 10 Gold Medals.  Team USA was again shocked in 1988 losing to the Soviets 82-76 in the semifinals which was the first meeting of the two teams since the controversial game.  In 1992, NBA players were allowed to participate in the games.  

Nashville To Make Bid For MLS 

I was wondering if Nashville was going to try to get another professional sports team for the Music City.  It appears that they now have their sights on an expansion team in Major League Soccer (MLS).  Various news reports state that Nashville mayor Megan Barry has allocated $50 million in proposed revenue bonds for a soccer stadium.  Most MLS teams have built their own soccer-specific stadiums.  MLS is going to expand to 24 teams next season and add four more teams later.  Nashville supporters are hoping to be in the latter group before MLS holds at 28 teams.

The Nashville MLS committee is made up of 22 people and includes executives from almost all of the city’s biggest companies.  So there appears to be some serious backing for this.  

The next question is:  Can Nashville support a professional soccer team?

I think it is very possible that the MLS can succeed in Nashville.  There is a lull in sports here between hockey and football seasons so an MLS team could fill that void.  Although we have the Nashville Sounds AAA baseball here, an MLS team would still be a good fit for the area.  The city has turned out for Team USA games at Nissan Stadium.  Although Nissan Stadium is a good home for an expansion team, Nashville may follow suit with other MLS teams to build their own soccer-specific homes.  There had been some talk of remodeling Herschel Greer Stadium which is the former home of the Nashville Sounds.  

The MLS is expanding to Atlanta (2017) and Minnesota (2017 or 2018), Los Angeles (2018) and Miami (2018).   

Personally, I am concerned about the MLS expanding so much.  The league has succeeded beyond expectations but there is still a concern that its’ popularity isn’t growing that much.  Maybe I’m wrong but soccer leagues have had a poor history in the United States.  

Nashville currently has a soccer team with Nashville FC which began play in 2013 in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).  The NPSL is a national amateur league.   Nashville FC plays their home games at Vanderbilt Stadium.  Nashville FC will evolve to the United Soccer Leagues (USL) in 2018 so it will be interesting to see what happens if Nashville secures an MLS franchise.

Past Nashville soccer teams:

  • Nashville Diamonds, American Soccer League (1982)
  • Nashville Metros, Premier Development League (1989-2012)

Team of the Week: Hickory Crawdads

The team with one of my favorite nicknames in minor league baseball is now playing in their 23rd season.  They have been a farm team for the Texas Rangers since 2009.  The Crawdads are currently 24-20 and third place in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division.

The Crawdads have been pretty successful on the field winning three league titles (2002, 2004, 2015) and 10 division titles.

They play at L.P. Frans Stadium which opened in 1993 and seats 5,092 fans.

When the team was purchased and moved from Gastonia, North Carolina, the team was named the “Crawdads”.

Most notable players that have played for the Crawdads:

  • Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays)
  • Joe Beimel (Seattle Mariners)
  • Matt Capps (Arizona Diamondbacks)
  • Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Magglio Ordonez (retired – played for Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers)
  • Chris Young (Kansas City Royals)

Left fielder Eduardo Pinto currently leads the Crawdads with a .337 batting average and was recently called up to the Frisco RoughRiders of the Texas League.  Jonathan Hernandez has pitched in 92.2 innings for the team.  His Earned Run Average is 4.86.

For more information about the Crawdads, go here

Roughnecks Strike AUDL Championship Trophy 

The Dallas Roughnecks were one of the dominant teams in the AUDL this season.  They only trailed their opponents in games twice this season.  On Sunday against the Seattle Cascades in the AUDL title game they overcame an early deficit to finish the season 17-0 with a 33-27 victory.

Dallas seized the momentum in the second quarter when Dillion Larberg blocked a pass then scored on the offensive end on a tipped disc.  Dylan Freechild and Dan Emmons connected on the huck for another score and then the rally was on as the Roughnecks built a 20-15 lead.  After winning the first quarter 11-10, the Cascades were outplayed in the second 10-4.  

The Roughnecks’ offense got better throughout the game and never let up.  Seattle rallied in the fourth quarter but Dallas’ five goal lead was too much to overcome.  

Dallas won the championship in their first season while Seattle came up short in their amazing run through the postseason.

AUDL Championship Weekend:  Dallas tops Toronto, Seattle shocks Madison

In the AUDL semifinal match ups on Saturday, Dallas and Seattle emerge to play for the title.  Here is a recap of the games:

Seattle 26, Madison 25

The largest crowd in AUDL history (3,000) witnessed the Seattle Cascades cling to a one-point lead to snap Madison’s 31-game home winning streak.  With nine seconds left, the Radicals’ Kevin Brown hucked the disc to Kevin Pettit-Scantling in the end zone into a crowd of Seattle defenders.  The disc was knocked to the ground as time expired.   

Dallas 27, Toronto 20

The Roughnecks dominated the Rush like they have all their opponents this season as they jumped out to a fast start to an early lead and never looked back.  Outstanding play from Kurt Gibson and Chris Mazur kept the pressure on for Dallas.  Toronto was unable to dig out of the early hole.  Dallas finished the first half when Dallas Smith connected with Dillon Larberg to give the Roughnecks a 14-8 lead at the break.

Dallas now faces Seattle today at 1 p.m. EST for the championship.