Archive for July, 2010

Will Ottawa go CanAM for 2011?

Quebec's Troy Cate pitches to Pittsfield's Danny Bomback in Ottawa on Saturday

I was planning this post for quite a bit. However, just what I was all set to go, everything changed. Our fellow fan blog, Around the IBL, came out with this post. It was regarding the Ottawa Fat Cats, talking about how their ownership group was ready to pull the plug on the the entire Fat Cats Organization, because it wasn’t financially viable to keep it afloat.

Now, this post is entirely rumor-based and many Fat Cats fans–including Litter Box reader, Pierre–still figure that Ottawa will be back for another season. The jury is still out for me, though. My reasoning being this:

Ottawa’s City Council granted the OSG Group the one-year lease on the Stadium on one condition. There had to be baseball played there. OSG’s goal was to get a Pro Team to play here in Ottawa, however they didn’t manage to get that opportunity, as the CanAM League went to Pittsfield instead(where they’re enjoying a stunning average attendance of 893), and the GBL… well, were they ever serious about that anyways?

Since that all fell through, we got the Fat Cats. Now, both I and many others in the Ottawa Baseball World are very satisfied with the Fat Cats. The only problem is how short the IBL season is, which is where Pro Baseball comes in.

OSG’s main target was Pro Ball in the first place, and with the recent CanAM League Regular Season games played at Ottawa Stadium, the water is starting to leak through the cracks. However, this is why I am taking the recent rumors about the Fat Cats’ demise so seriously. My thinking is that when CanAM comes into Ottawa, IBL goes out.

Not being financially viable isn’t what it’s all about. If these rumors are true, I think that this may be a case of the OSG simple wanting a Pro Baseball team here. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, it’s a good thing to bring the Pros back in here, but couldn’t the IBL and the CanAM League coexist?

I’m absolutely sure that they could for at least a few years, but if they couldn’t, I have a solution.

Since the IBL’s plans are to extend to the East, the Hotel Expenses for visiting teams that are currently on the Fat Cats’ tab should eventually disappear in 3 or 4 years when teams like Peterborough or Valleyfield start popping up, unless the new Northern teams will be required to find a Concierge that’s ready for a challenge as well.

However, assuming that the existing teams will be told to handle the expenses themselves, then a whole lot of pressure would be lifted off of the Fat Cats’ Shoulders. They won’t need the ticket and sales revenue that they currently need, and will be allowed to move into a smaller playing field, like Heritage Park (with some nice, new Bleachers installed).

Onto the Possibility of Pro Ball returning.

Will we see it next year? I certainly think that it’s more than possible. Miles Wolff of the CanAM League has always been interested in Canada, and since Montreal doesn’t have a suitable stadium for the CanAM League, the 2 options for Wolff are Trois Rivieres, Quebec; and Ottawa.

Trois Rivieres has a rich baseball history, and already seems to have a suitable stadium, Stade Fernand-Bedard. It is basically a carbon copy of the Stadium that the Quebec Capitales play in. The only downside to Trois Rivieres as an Indy Baseball Market, is the fact they they were part of the Canadian Baseball League in 2003.

Most know that the CBL was a complete disaster, and that they didn’t even get to finish their first season, right? Well, TR was the ugly duckling of the league. Their team, the Saints, averaged a total of 163 people per game. No typo, folks. They make the Pittsfield Colonials look like the New York Yankees.

This is where the 613 may come in and take the Prize. Miles Wolff already has always wanted the league to come back after the Rapidz’ demise, once they found suitable ownership. Ramapo, New York is said to be the 7th member of the league next season, and Ottawa the 8th. Will it happen? If so, will the Fat Cats still have a home here? We’ll have to wait and see.

My god, I feel like a Phoenix Coyotes fan.

Leafs dust off Fat Cats to end Inaugural Season

There was a whole bunch of questions leading up to the game earlier this afternoon at Christie Pits. Would the Toronto Maple Leafs take 1st Place overall? Would the Fat Cats stay alive? Could this be Ottawa’s last game ever? While most of those questions were answered, it was far from what the Fat Cats had hoped for.

Toronto came into this game looking to grab 1st Place in the IBL back from the Brantford Red Sox, however they would have to do it against an Ottawa Fat Cats team with their backs against the wall.

Things didn’t go well for Ottawa in the first few innings, as they didn’t seem to realize that they were playing baseball. They couldn’t manage a hit in the 1st 2 innings of the game, and the only man who got on base for them, was Eitan Maoz on balls. On the other side of the picture, Kern Watts and Rob Gillis scored on a few RBI’s, and it was quickly 2-0 Leafs.

Ottawa didn’t quit though, and after a Kyle Barclay RBI in the 3rd, and a nightmare of a 4th from Toronto’s standpoint, it was all tied up.

However, as the game went on from there, Ottawa lost their touch. A few errors in the 5th and a Kern Watts home run didn’t exactly help, as Toronto took a 5-2 lead. All I could do was watch helplessly from an Ottawa Stadium Box on a TV monitor during today’s Quebec – Pittsfield game.

The Final Score was 10-3 Toronto, and the Fat Cats season was over.

This game featured 13 total runs, and a staggering 25 hits. As you could imagine, the offense was pretty spread out. 5 Fat Cats managed 2 hits in this game, but going by RBIs, Mark Charrette and Kyle Barclay led the Ottawa O. Barclay had 2 RBIs and no runs scored, but Charrette managed to score a run as well as driving one in. Mark had a great 2nd half of the season for Ottawa and boosted up his average in the last few games.

For the Leafs, it was the Kern Watts show. He scored 3 runs on 3 hits, including a Home Run. It really was his afternoon.

So the Inaugural Season for the Ottawa Fat Cats ends with more questions than answers. It was certainly a successful one at the Box Office, as we beat out every single CanAM team, except for Quebec in Attendance. On the field, I’d say that it was a win as well. The Cats faired a lot better than most people thought they would, and unlike their predecessor (Rapidz), they didn’t spend the whole year in last place.

The future seems bright for this franchise, and if we do stick around, I would definitely watch out if I were other IBL teams.  I really do hope that the recent rumors going around are completely baseless, and that the Fat Cats will stick around.

This blog will remain active in the offseason, but posts won’t come as frequently, as one would only imagine. If any new developments come about in this latest drama, I’ll be sure to update you all about it. Expect some other posts as well.

As Playoff Hopes Crumble, Bad News Breaks.

The Ottawa Fat Cats pretty much had to win their 2 remaining games to have a chance at a Playoff Spot, but the Barrie Baycats stopped them dead in their tracks last night at Metals Stadium, where the Cats lost 3-2. Again, this was a very emotional game, where both teams very likely put in all that they had.

Ottawa had 5 hits, while the Baycats has 5 as well. Ottawa made 1 error, and Barrie did the same. In fact, the only place where there was really a significant difference on the Scoreboard, was the tally of runs. Unfortunately, that is where it counted.

For the Fat Cats, the leaders in this game at the plate were Eitan Moaz, and Tony Farago. Maoz was the man that had the most hits for the Cats, and also put up an RBI. A valiant performance from the former Mississauga Twin. Tony Farago had an RBI on the one hit that he put up. The thing with Farago, is that he really doesn’t get wood on the ball that often, but when he does, watch out. The other Ottawa Rundriver this evening, was Kyle Barclay.

For the Baycats, leading the offense was Ryan Davis. Davis has been great all season, and last night was no exception. He put up 2 hits. The run scorers for Barrie were 2B Ryan Steer, and C Matt Proctor.

Now, while this loss could very well be the nail in the coffin for the 2010 Ottawa Fat Cats, that isn’t the least of my concerns. According to a couple sources, including ‘News Durham Region” and another IBL Fan Blog, the Ottawa Fat Cats are in the process of kicking the bucket.

Of course, while this is only a rumor, apparently OSG says that it is “not financially viable to keep the Fat Cats in Operation”. I remember when this group was granted a conditional IBL franchise. The guarantee was that they would pay for other teams’ Hotel Expenses, as well as the lease on the stadium.

I realize that Hotel Rooms aren’t cheap, but if the Fat Cats really are kaput, I don’t think that this is the reason that the Cats have finished their run. In my opinion, the real reason is because there are bigger fish in the sea. That’s right, OSG is after the CanAM League.

Honestly, I don’t want a CanAM team right now. I, and a whole bunch of other fans, are perfectly happy with the Fat Cats. Ottawa doesn’t absolutely need Pro Ball.

However if the cost really is too much, it’s a simple process to bring the Stadium Lease way down from what it is right now. Hamilton Yards, Heritage Park and Fallowfield Park are the names of regulation size fields in the Ottawa Area. If OSG payed for some new, bigger bleachers and moved the Cats into one of those fields, their lease would go through the floor.

OK, maybe it isn’t a simple process, but if you think about it, it can be done and I for one, hope that we really haven’t seen the last of the Ottawa Fat Cats.

Are the Fat Cats Playoff Bound?

My vacation ended today, and while it was a good one, I still missed blogging. Now that I’m back in the 613, it’s time to get crackin’. I’m sure that many of you have seen the results of the Weekend’s doubleheaders that took place at Ottawa Stadium, but in case you haven’t, I’ll run through them.

Saturday was a good day to say the least. Ottawa ran right over the 6th Place, London Majors, 3-0 and 3-1. The two wins weren’t blowouts, but we still took ’em without any complaints, since the Cats really needed everything that they could dig out of the old Grab Bag last weekend.

A win vs. London definitely took Ottawa’s confidence up to another level. For one of the first times ever, the Fat Cats had a winning record in the Last 10 games that they played. Not only that, but pretty much everything was gelling for Ottawa at the right time. Fielding was great, the batters had found the ball again, and the Pitching definitely passed all tests. Best of all, the next day they were playing the only team that was actually worse then them on paper, the Hamilton Thunderbirds. At least a series split was pretty much guaranteed, right?

Wrong.

We seemed to forget that the Birds always bring their A-game to Ottawa. Actually, Hamilton hasn’t been playing like the last place team at all lately. Too bad the Fat Cats don’t check Pointstreak every now and then. Anyways, yeah, we did lose both games. Both were fairly close, but in the end, a loss is a loss.

Game one was probably the most intense game of the year. Every single run was scored in the 8th Inning. A start that was full of tension, and an ending that was fueled by nerves. The nerves of the near-3,200 people watching the game just off of Coventry Road in Vanier. However, the final score ended up being 3-2 Hamilton.

Game 2 of the DH was started by the same pitcher who got the win in game 1, Nick Fasulo. Remarkably, he would get yet another one in an 8-6 T-Birds win. It’s fairly rare that a pitcher will start and win 2 games in a row. This Sunday was a disaster for the Fat Cats–who may have played their final game at home until June of 2011–and a dream for the Thunderbirds. Hamilton has climbed their way into a position that I believe that Ottawa would rather be in.

Currently, the Thunderbirds are half a game behind Ottawa, but have 4 games to play, compared to Ottawa’s 2. Crap. Since the Thunderbirds are on a “mini-roll”, if you will, they could win those 2 extra games easily. Ottawa is basically on the outside looking in, and it’s not a good sign when your team is thanking fans for supporting them over the season on their Facebook page, before the year actually ends.

As you can likely tell from what I’ve just said, the Fat Cats pretty much have to win their final 2 regular season games, coming against Barrie and Toronto. What’s the dilemma here? Toronto is placed 2nd in the Standings, while the Baycats are 3rd. To be fair, though, Ottawa has been playing better baseball than the Baycats as of late. We could steal a win against them, and since our backs are against the wall, you never know what will go on vs. the Leafs. This is the same Leafs that we beat 20-1, after all.

Our bats will have to be at their best, and Bill MacKenzie will also have to choose carefully when picking out his starters and bullpen on the Mound. I’m hoping to see the heads on Desclouds, Richard, Staniewicz, Barnes and McGovern. Don’t fool around in the playoffs, kids.

Both of the final games will certainly be well-contested, there’s no doubt about that. However the reality of it all is that the Fat Cats chances of making the Playoffs, rest in the hands of the Hamilton Thunderbirds. I don’t see Hamilton missing a beat in their 4 remaining games, but let’s just hope that they turn out to be the San Jose Sharks of the IBL, if you catch my drift.

..on Vacation

This really is the worst possible time to go on Vacation, isn’t it? The Fat Cats are going into what probably is the most important weekend of the season, and I won’t be able to cover it on The Litter Box.

Don’t worry though, I will return to the Bytown on the 14th with a semi-recap, semi-analysis of the weekend DH’s coming up.

Somebody better head out to the park for me!

Ottawa Makes Statement, beat Red Sox for the First Time

The Ottawa Fat Cats came into this game with a purpose. That purpose was to win, and that they did. A 14 hit effort from Ottawa’s sluggers and stellar fielding, got the job done and the Cats managed to hold off the 2nd Place, Red Sox with a 9-6 win.

Despite the loss, the Red Sox got off to a good start early. The former Ottawa Lynx (that’s right, he played AAA), Josh McCurdy scored off the second at-bat from 2nd Base. After that however, Fat Cats Starter David Steffler closed out the Inning quickly. In the bottom half, it was much of the same story. The Cats got off to a rocket fast start, making Sox Starter, Steve Murray look silly.

The first 3 batters got on base for the Fat Cats, and after a Mombourquette Double RBI that scored Jon Dale, David Valesente pounded one out as well, that led in Kyle Barclay and Mombo to score. The Cats can really be a dominant team at the plate when they’re on their game, and this afternoon, they proved it.

Eitan Maoz, who was playing 1st base in this game, capitalized on an error by Steve Murray to get onto 1st. He would later score the only run in the second inning, off of a Jon Dale RBI. Dale led the Ottawa Offense in this game, going 3-for-4, which is pretty impressive by the 2nd Basemen’s standards.

All was going well in the 3rd, until David Steffler called the Catcher Dan Baribeau to the mound. It seemed that he was favoring his right hand. Soon after the conference had started, Manager MacKenzie came jogging over to see what the goes on was. Steffler was taken out of the game and his injury replacement, was Danny Desclouds.

Desclouds (3-4) struggled to find the Strike Zone early, but would eventually even out, and throw 4 KO’s during his time on the mound and get credit for the Win. Brantford did take advantage of Danny’s early struggles, though. They scored 2 in the 5th, and narrowed the Ottawa lead down to 4-3.

Both teams plastered one unearned run onto the scoreboard for themselves, but the Ottawa run by Mark Charrette was hardly unearned. After advancing to first off of an error by the Brantford defense, Charrette stole both 2nd and 3rd base, before Kyle Barclay brought him home.

The score remained 5-4 for Ottawa into the later stages of the ball game. Cody Mombo came up big for Ottawa in this game, playing a crucial part at the offensive end, while anchoring the outfield as well. He went 3-for-5 on the day. Joe Stone and Eitan Maoz put up similar numbers, going 2-for-4. The Red Sox’s Bryon Bell was held off of the scoresheet for the most part. After his grand slam yesterday, the Ottawa Pitchers played him quite timidly. The only time that he got on base was a walk, which he scored on.

Also struggling for the Sox, was Hyung Cho. He put up a putrid 0-for-10 on the weekend, popping up and grounding out frequently.

In the 7th Inning, I’m sure that the Red Sox knew that they had to act fast if they wanted a chance in this game. Now, I don’t know who put what in Brantford’s water, but something must’ve happened, because they exploded…. with errors in the bottom of the Inning. Jon Dale, Kyle Barclay and Joe Stone all scored off of Sox botches. Brantford ended up with an uncharacteristically bad 6 errors at the end of this game.

After Ottawa opened up their lead to 3 runs in the Top of the 8th, Brantford’s Adrian Kerr popped up. As 1st Basemen, Eitan Moaz hovered over the ball waiting to make the easy out, Kerr plowed right into him causing Maoz to drop the ball, but Kerr wasn’t called out. An error was then given to Maoz. The TV Commentators were going over the replay, making remarks such as, “Ohhh yeah… they may have clipped legs right there..”. I guess we’re lucky that this was an Ottawa based broadcast, or we wouldn’t have even seen a replay, and would’ve had to listen to “what a GRREAT running play!!” that Kerr made.

Wayne Forman scored off of that error by Maoz, but that would be all that the Red Sox were limited to, as Ottawa came out with a convincing voctory, of 9-6 over one of the IBL’s Powerhouses. It was a great performance by the Fat Cats, and a big statement was made earlier this afternoon that MacKenzie and Ottawa aren’t going to settle for 8th Place.

Guelph is the current 7th Place team, who just finished brushing off the Toronto Maple Leafs, 14-0. Message sent.

It will be an exiting cap off of the 2010 IBL Regular Season, as Ottawa battles with Hamilton and London this weekend in doubleheaders from Ottawa Stadium, then will travel to Barrie and Toronto to finish the Season in the next few weeks.

Bryon Bell Stars w/ Grand Slam, Red Sox beat Fat Cats 10-1

RHP Matt McGovern

The Ottawa Fat Cats seemed pretty confident going into their game against the 2nd-Place, Brantford Red Sox earlier tonight. They had come off of a doubleheader win vs. the Guelph Royals.

The problem was, that against Guelph, the Royals were pitiful on the defensive end, and all the Fat Cats really had to do, was wait for the Royals to make another error or mistake and then capitalize on it.

Don’t get me wrong, Ottawa played very well against Guelph, but see, the Brantford Red Sox aren’t the Guelph Royals.

The Sox are a very good fielding team who rarely make errors, plus they can be very dangerous at the plate when their sluggers get hot. So, when Ottawa tried to wait for the Sox to make a mistake instead of putting in some effort, they got burned. Hard.

Brantford’s fielding was great all night, and while they did get a couple of errors of the board against them, they still made up for those by cashing in on most of the double play chances that they got, and more. They caught the Cats off-guard heading into this game.

That is how the Sox got off to such a great start. Ottawa’s Starting Pitcher, Matt McGovern, had an off day to say the least today as well. I am pretty positive that McGovern’s off day didn’t help the Fat Cats.  The first 2 batters of the game, Josh McCurdy and Tyler Burnell singled out to 1st, and Burnell ended up leading in 2 runs in that Inning off of a Bryon Bell RBI.

McGovern’s play didn’t get much better in the 2nd. His improved fielders bailed him out, when the Sox had 2 men in scoring position, but he obviously couldn’t luck out forever. After the 2nd, I would’ve taken him out of the game, since it obviously wasn’t his day. Danny Desclouds, Mike Lynch, David Barnes or Joel Richard could’ve stepped in right then and there to calm things down.

However, MacKenzie let McGovern stay in the game, and after a few hits, walks and errors let the bases load, the Sox’s DH Bryon Bell, stepped up to the plate and absolutely pounded the 3-1 Pitch from McGovern passed the right-field wall and the service road behind it, for a Grand Slam to make it a 6-0 game. The Red Sox cheering section went ballistic.

You’d think that at that point, Matty McGovern’s day would be over, but only then did the Cats’ Manager send a few pitchers out to the Bullpen. When it was announced that Tyler Durward was one of the two men warming up, I prayed that game action would instead be saved for Zach Staniewicz, and it was. Staniewicz cleaned up the garbage that had been spread around, and the disaster that was the 5th was over.

More runs scored from both sides, however the damage has been done earlier and much like in previous games that the Cats had recently partaken in, it was all Swedish, no Finish (Please excuse my attempt at a pun). While the Cats did lose by a whopping 10-1, they actually had more hits than the Red Sox. The Cats had 12, and the Sox had 11. Like I said earlier, we just couldn’t find the exclamation point. Among the sluggers for Ottawa today was David Valesente.

Valesente has been cozying his way into the Ottawa lineup, and now that he’s nice and comfortable, Davy’s really been delivering. 3 for 3 tonight, and a .467 average puts him way out in front, for the team lead in Batting Average. We may have to look out for the name “Valesente” on a Major-League affiliate sometime soon. He improving rapidly.

Also having good games were Joe Stone and Mark Charrette. Mark hasn’t been having the greatest season, but he really performed well tonight, on what just-so-happens to be his birthday. Happy Birthday, Mark! Just forget about the tag out at 1st in the 8th.

In other Fat Cats news, the Cats released RHP, Jose Aquino a few days ago. The former Quebec Capitale never saw any game action with the Cats. Next game for Ottawa, is tomorrow afternoon at 1PM vs the Red Sox at the Stadium.