Archive for June, 2011

Busy Weekend for Fat Cats

INF LaDale Hayes

This past week has certainly been a busy one, not just for the players on the field, but for the hard-working front office of the Fat Cats, as well. Ottawa played 3 games this weekend, and they almost managed a 4th as well on Friday vs. Brantford. Off the field, GM Duncan MacDonald made his first mid-season signing of 2011, with many more following. Let’s get to the signings first, shall we?

MacDonald signed LaDale Hayes, who has played pro up until now, on Thursday. Last season, he played for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League. He pitched last year, but can play in the field as well. The Fat Cats’ roster has him down as an infielder, so I’m assuming that that is where he will play for the majority of the time.

This is a good signing for the Fat Cats. Not only will he bring some professional play to Cats games, but he’ll bring experience as well. Great signing, and I look forward to seeing Hayes in action myself. He already has brewed up a .313 average at the plate in a few games. Not to shabby.

Ottawa made some more signings and releases yesterday… here’s a rundown (from here)

Ottawa signs Ivan Cherwinski, Kyle O’Brien, Kevin Gamble and Matthew Sauve

Ottawa releases Michael Lynch, Taylor Frederick and Tyler Dale

Onto game action, where the Fat Cats had 3 match-ups last weekend, coming out successfully in the 2 most important games. However, the one loss really stung the Fat Cats. A marathon game vs. the Brantford Red Sox went into 16 innings. The Fat Cats almost played 2 full 9 inning games at Arnold Anderson Stadium on Friday night.

Jason Gotwalt got the game winning RBI for Brantford, while Lee Delfino was the one who touched base at home. Brett Sabourin and Josh Soffer spilt the game for Ottawa, each playing 7 innings and a bit. LaDale Hayes also pitched briefly for Ottawa. This loss was probably good for the Fat Cats in the end. It gave the team a little adversity to battle through.

This loss definitely did help the team headed into the weekend in Ottawa. The Cats dusted off the 1st place London Majors again, shutting them out 8-0 on Saturday. Matt McGovern pitched a complete game, only allowing 5 hits. He shined on the mound and it was arguably the best ever performance by a Fat Cat pitcher. At the plate, Kyle Barclay and Mark Charette had 2 RBIs each. The only down side to this game was that only 723 people were on hand to see the win… I’d give us fans a free pass this time around, though. The forecast called for rain.

The 2nd game vs. the Majors proved to test the Fat Cats a little more. They still won the game, and completed the sweep, but only by a 5-4 margin. Soffer saved the day on the mound, just days after pitching almost all the extra innings vs. the Red Sox. A valiant effort from a player who has really stepped up his game this year. Ottawa only needed one RBI to win the game… London’s fielding helped the Fat Cats with 4 errors. Gotta love IBL baseball. London actually had more RBIs than Ottawa. Chris Chambers had 2.

Next weekend, Ottawa plays Barrie in what should be a great 3 game series. Barrie is a strong club, and Ottawa is on a hot streak, looking to climb up the standings and gain a home field advantage going into the playoffs. I know how I’ll be spending my Canada Day weekend (and it’s not with William and Kate)!

The IBL trade/signing deadline is also near, so expect some more signings from the Cats as well.

Catching Up: Part 2 – The Stadium

In the 1st part of my series called Catching Up, we talked about the on-field performance of the Fat Cats, and how Ottawa’s newest players are fitting in. Now we move to Part 2, the final part of Catching Up, in which I will take things off of the field.

When the Ottawa Lynx were granted an expansion franchise into the International League of the MiLB, they needed a baseball stadium. To solve that problem, Ottawa Stadium was built. In 1993, the stadium opened and it was arguably the nicest baseball stadium in Canada. It continued to hold that title until just recently.

After AAA Ball left the Stadium, the condition of said stadium began to deteriorate. It wasn’t terrible while the Rapidz occupied it, but things were noticeably worse off than they had been in the past.

Things started to take a turn for the worst after the Rapidz left. The Stadium almost went an entire year without being properly maintained. Before a group of City Councillors stepped up to bring the Stadium back into acceptable condition, weeds almost 2 feet tall were growing in the outfield of the ballpark.

When the Fat Cats came into existence last summer, the Stadium was taken care of, but not as ‘well’ as it was when Pro Ball was occupying it. The washrooms stink, there are dry patches of grass in the outfield, the sound system needs updating and the Merch shop needs renovating. This is understandable, but now because of below average overall care, the Stadium’s overall condition is starting to deteriorate due to the maintenance problems.

Our Scoreboard also needs repairing. Unless things have changed since the games against Burlington last weekend, the analog scoreboard of Ottawa Stadium is broken, and the screen where the batter’s name, number and position usually flashes, is doubling as a score clock. I would say that it needs repairing, but what Ottawa Stadium really needs, is a new board. This may be something worth investing in. If not, at least fix the screen that’s doubling as a score clock. I can’t even read the “Due Up” screen anymore.

Now, I’m not sure who is responsible for the general condition of the Stadium. If it’s the team, then they should put a lot more effort into the care of the Stadium. Just look at the New York Islanders. Their arena is one of the worst in the NHL, and many blame the arena on attendance issues. I don’t want Ottawa Stadium to be a push factor; something that will drive people away from coming to watch baseball.

If the city is responsible (which I believe they are), then they need a dose of reality. There are some Councillors that know that baseball is alive and well in Ottawa, but many of them believe otherwise. Any Councillor who believes that baseball is done here has to look into the situation a littler further. The Fat Cats draw over 2,000 fans regularly, which is more than the AAA Lynx did in their last few seasons. This team isn’t even a pro team, yet we’re still outdrawing the Indy Leagues. Ignorance seems to be at a low price when it comes to baseball in Ottawa, which really shoves me off the track sometimes.

If the city can step up and help baseball here, that would be great. I know that all the issues that surround Ottawa Stadium can’t be fixed by just the Fat Cats. I say, we should put pressure on the city to help the ‘Cats freshen up the Stadium. New board, some renovations to areas that are frequently occupied (Merch store, Canteen, Luxury boxes) and a new Sound System. I’m not sure how much this would cost, but if the city is willing to put money into Landsdowne Park, then they should be able to do the same for the best outdoor sports facility in Ottawa.

Catching Up: Part 1 – On the Field

Fat Cats vs. Burlington on Saturday, June 18th

The Baseball season is underway and while it may have taken me a little longer to get started than I had planned, that didn’t stop the Fat Cats from giving you, the fans, something to cheer about. Today, I’m going to officially kick off the 2011 IBL Season here at The Litter Box, with 2 part series called Catching Up. Part 1 will discuss the on-field performance of the Fat Cats so far.

I myself have only been to one Fat Cats game this season. The game was last Saturday against the Burlington Twins and boy, did I pick a good game to go to.  The Cats’ won the game by a score of 11-2, and the win was accompanied by what could be the catch of the season by Kevin Dietrich, who dove to shallow CF and absolutely robbed the Twins’ Mark Spillman of a single. The Fat Cats led this game by a score of 7-0 after the 2nd Inning, a definite positive sign for both the bats and the gloves of Ottawa.

This win against Burlington was the largest margin that the Fat Cats have won by this season, but that wasn’t the most runs that they’ve scored. In the game previous to the blowout vs. the Twins, the 1st place London Majors fell victim to the Fat Cats by a score of 16-11. Scoring 16 runs in one game is an impressive feat to begin with, so you can imagine how big of a deal it was to do it against the Majors, a team that had only lost 1 game up until that point.

The Fat Cats do still have a losing record, however they definitely do not look as bad as they did last season. The amount of errors that the Twins’ fielding was racking up reminded me a little bit of the Fat Cats circa 2010. This year, the errors haven’t come nearly as frequently for Ottawa. The fielding is much sounder with players like Chris Latimer and Kyle Barclay warming up to their surroundings in the IBL and playing much better this season.

GM Duncan MacDonald is looking like the Peter Chiarelli of the IBL right now, after bringing in some import players that have propelled themselves to the top of the Fat Cats’ lineup. Kevin Dietrich; an import from Charlotte, North Carolina; currently leads the Fat Cats in batting average, RBIs, and hits. Dietrich has proven that he is a threat at the plate and in the outfield, with his highlight reel catch vs. Burlington proving his fielding abilities. Ottawa’s other imports, like C Rick Howroyd, and INF Clae Mathis, also make pitchers and defenders shake in their boots.

The Cats’ returning players also have made an impact this season. Cody Mombourquette returns to the Ottawa Fat Cats this season. Last year he had a phenomenal start to the season, and was one of the only bright spots in what otherwise was a let down of a season for Ottawa. This year, Mombo hasn’t started as noticeably, but has still been solid and consistent.

C Eitan Maoz is a very interesting case. Coming over from Mississauga at the deadline last season, Maoz was a factor with the Twins, but didn’t play much with Ottawa at the end of the season. This year, Maoz has only played in about half the games, but is still in the top half in most offensive categories for the Cats.

It’s been a promising season for Ottawa so far, as they look to become a serious threat to the rest of the IBL teams. They have had a reasonable start on the field and if consistency improves, the Cats can easily challenge for home field advantage come playoff time.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with Part 2 of Catching Up in a few days, when we dig deep into the off-the-field successes and failures of the 2011 Ottawa Fat Cats.