Archive for July, 2011

Our 1st Round Schedule

The 1st round opponent of the Fat Cats (16-18) has finally been decided. We will be playing the London Majors (22-13). Here is the schedule for Ottawa’s inaugural playoff series.

Game 1: Wed, July 27th 7:05pm @ London – Labatt Park
Game 2: Thu, July 28th 7:05pm @ London – Labatt Park
Game 3: Sat, July 30th 7:05pm @ Ottawa – Ottawa Stadium
Game 4: Sun, July 31st 2:05pm @ Ottawa – Ottawa Stadium
Game 5: Mon, August 1st 2:05pm @ Ottawa – Ottawa Stadium**If necessary
Game 6: Wed, August 3rd 7:05pm @ London – Labatt Park **If necessary
Game 7: Thu, August 4th 7:05pm @ London – Labatt Park **If necessary

I’ll have a recap of the first few games of this series early next week. In the mean time, I’ll be at the ballpark cheering on my Fat Cats! If you can’t make it to the park, Ottawa will have their games streamed online at this link. As for away games, I am currently getting more info on that, but as soon as I’m informed about what the situation will be, I will update this post.

UPDATE – Sorry this took so long. I have gotten new info that the Fat Cats will be televising their home games as well as streaming them, according to the London Majors. As for the Majors’ broadcasting situation, you guys will have likely figured that out by now, because the first 2 games of the series have past. I’ve been on vacation, so the blog hasn’t been the first thing on my mind as of late, but when I get back, things will get back to normal.

The Fat Cats seem to be looking good so far… I wish them good luck at home!!

Leafs Spoil Fan Appreciation Day, Down Fat Cats 8-4 + Season Wrap-Up

The 2011 Regular Season came to an end for the Ottawa Fat Cats on Saturday. They played the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that had won their last 4 games. The Cats seemed to be getting back into their mojo as of late, sweeping the Hamilton Thunderbirds last weekend, but the Fat Cats have been a pretty streaky team this year. For example, before the 3-game series vs. Hamilton, Ottawa was swept by Kitchener in a doubleheader. You never know what’s going to happen with the Fat Cats, which what made this season finale so interesting.

William Sebastian got the nod, and started on the mound for the Cats. He would go head-to-head with Sam Jew, a man who had started 8 games for the Leafs, but had yet to record a win.

The game was unusually fast paced for the first few innings. After inning number 2, Ottawa and Toronto were tied at 3.

After the 2nd inning, things cooled off. Chris Latimer scored Joe Stone on a sac fly to take the lead, however that would be the last of the Ottawa offence. Dan Marra had some timely base running in the 5th, and got himself in scoring position at the right time with a stolen base. Later in the inning, a single and a sac fly score Marra, and break things open for Toronto.

The Maple Leafs would go on to score 1 run per inning until the 8th. William Sebastian came out of the game after struggling in the 5th, and Josh Soffer allowed the Leafs to build up a lead. LaDale Hayes saw some action on the mound, after starting the game in LF for Ottawa (going 2/2). He would let the Leafs finish things off in the 9th,as Toronto scored 2 runs in that inning, to win the game 8-4. Leafs’ pitcher Sam Jew earned his first win of the year, also putting up a complete game.

A mediocre performance in the mid innings spelled the fate of the Fat Cats today, but the good start was fairly encouraging. If the team can play like they did at the beginning of the game during the playoffs, then we should be able to some noise. Our opponent is being decided as we speak. It will either be the Majors or the Leafs, depending on how the 2 teams perform during their last few games. If Toronto defeats the London Majors and the Burlington Twins on Sunday and Monday respectively, then we’ll be facing London. If they can’t pull it off, then Ottawa will have the privilege of playing the Leafs, one of the hottest teams in the IBL right now. It’s going to be a hectic last few games this season.

Personally, I’d much rather face the London Majors in the first round. Even though they’ve had been in that upper echelon of this league all season, we’ve done better against London (3-2) than we have vs. Toronto (1-4). Also, if you take the play of these 2 teams during the last week or so into consideration, the Leafs are on a 5-game winning streak, while London is below .500 in their last 5. In case you’re wondering, the Fat Cats have gone 3-2 in their last 5 games. So even we have been playing more prominently than the Majors as of late.

Wrapping up the 2011 Season

In 2010, there were 9 teams in the IBL, with 8 of those 9 teams making the playoffs. In their inaugural season, the Ottawa Fat Cats had the embarrassing distinction of being the only team to miss the playoffs. This year, Ottawa was poised to make sure that that didn’t happen. While there was only 8 teams in the league this season after Guelph’s departure, meaning everyone makes the playoffs, I’m sure that the Ottawa’s goal was to finish with a respectable record by the end of the season.

In the end, while we didn’t manage to finish over .500, I think that the 16-18 record and 6th place finish that Ottawa mustered up is more than respectable for a team in their 2nd season. Returning players like Latimer, Mombo, McGovern and Desclouds provided the experience; import players Howroyd, Hayes, Dietrich and Mathis provided the star power; and depth players like Joly, Stone and Charette provided the support.

All of these assets proved to create a winning formula. While the Fat Cats weren’t the best team in the league, they were definitely had a lot of heart and determination. The gruelling 7 hour road trips, 16 inning marathons and tough tests from worthy opponents, helped this team bond throughout the year.

This team will face it’s first test, as it guns for the Dominico Trophy for the first time this August. How will this team adjust for the playoffs? Stay tuned to find out, because this season is just starting. Heart is what makes a true champion, and that’s why the Fat Cats have a legitimate chance has a league title. The question is, will Ottawa’s streaky regular season translate into an early exit, or can they exile their demons, and become a force to be reckoned with?

I am proud to be a Fat Cats fan after this regular season, and I hope that this team stays for years to come… whether it’s at Ottawa Stadium or somewhere else in the area, as long as I have my Fat Cats, I’ll be happy.

Thanks for following this blog during the season, and keep checking this page for updates throughout the playoffs!

‘Cats Sweep Hamilton, Draw Close to .500

Even one of the Green Men made their way to Ottawa Stadium on Saturday Night

Author’s Note:  Just to clear up any confusion, I’ve changed my WordPress username from ‘knox3’ to ‘michaelofc’. So, if you stumble across comments in older articles that are under my old username, just keep this in your head. Thank you.

I’m sure that the Fat Cats were happy to be back home. They finished off a 5-game road trip 2 weekends ago, going 2-3 in the process. Toward the end of that weekend in Kitchener, the Fat Cats were looking fatigued. You could tell that they just wanted to get home.

This weekend, the Fat Cats got their wish and were able to return home, to play a 3-game series against the Hamilton Thunderbirds.

The Cats will finish 6th in the IBL standings regardless of what the other teams in the IBL do. This weekend was a good opportunity to get players like Ivan Cherwinski and Kyle O’Brien on the field, to test them out. You never know what could happen in the playoffs, so these two and other Fat Cats who haven’t been utilized as much as others, may have to spring into action.

On Friday, Ivan Cherwinski got the nod at 1st Base, and Ottawa won the game 8-0. Cherwinski had 1 hit in the game, but that paled in comparison to the 4 hits of LaDale Hayes and the 3 hits of Joe Stone. Even those impressive offensive feats from Ottawa’s outfielders weren’t the biggest story from this game.

Matt McGovern started on the mound for the Fat Cats, and he also finished the game. That’s right, McGovern pitched a complete game shutout against Hamilton on Friday. He allowed just 3 hits, and had an unbelieveable 13 strikeouts. This was arguably the best ever performance by an Ottawa Fat Cats pitcher.

McGovern has become Ottawa’s most consistent pitcher since he arrived last season. He’s gotten better and better with every game on the mound in this league, and has wow’d me on more then one occasion this season. I definitely feel good with Matt on the mound.

Saturday night was the game that I attended on this weekend, and it was a perfect night for baseball. The announced attendance was only 2,028, but there was definitely more that that many people at the game. There looked to be closer to 3,000 people in attendance.

Ottawa started the game off slowly; going 3 up, 3 down for the first few innings. Headed to the 6th, it was 1-0 T-Birds.

In the bottom of that inning, Ottawa’s best players came out in the clutch for their team. Dietrich, Howroyd and McGovern (playing first) each had an RBI, and the Cats took a 3-1 lead. They would hang on to win game 2 of the series vs. Hamilton, after a somewhat lackluster performance at the plate.

On Sunday, the Fat Cats were looking to close out this series with a win. If they did so, they would have came within a game of a .500 record, and successfully sweep the Hamilton Thunderbirds.

The Cats not only won the game, but they also scored 16 runs in the process, topping Hamilton’s 9 runs. The 2nd was the only inning where the the Cats didn’t score a run.

LaDale Hayes continued his heroics, and tallied up 4 RBIs on the 5 pitchers that the Thunderbirds used during the game. His batting average currently stands at .432, and is one of the league leaders. He’s an absolute thrill to watch, and when Hayes is in the zone, nobody can stop him.

This game also marked the third time this season that the Fat Cats have scored 16 runs. That number stands as the most runs that the Cats have hit in one game this year.

Next weekend, we play our final game of the season against the 3rd place Toronto Maple Leafs. TML has been playing some stellar baseball this season and it will be a good challenge for Ottawa as they head into the playoffs. Speaking of which, if the standings stay the same after next weekend, this will be a 1st round playoff series. If Ottawa is looking to make any noise in this year’s playoffs, the Leafs will most likely be one of the obstacles that they’ll have to hurdle. It’s a huge game for the Fat Cats… what a great way to close off the 2011 regular season.

Ottawa Stumbles; Leafs, Panthers pull ahead

Going into this weekend, the Fat Cats had won their last 3 series’. Brantford, Barrie and London were all victims of the Fat Cats in their latest charge and after the Fat Cats tore through the best teams in the league, the fans and the other teams have started to take notice, and refer to this team as a threat. It’s amazing how far this team has come, and even though this weekend didn’t turn out that well, I’m still proud of our boys in red.

Heading in to these next contests, the Fat Cats were in 6th place. Ottawa could’ve ended up solely in 4th place by the end of the 5 games that they played had they come out with wins where they had to.

Heading into Brantford on Friday night, the Cats played their first road game since the 16 inning marathon against–guess who–the Red Sox. It was a close game headed into the 4th, however that all changed when Ottawa put up an impressive 4 runs, to take a 7-2 lead. Brantford wouldn’t get close after that, as the Fat Cats win the game by a score of 10-4.

The Cats played a very offensive game against the Sox. All 9 members of the batting order had at least a hit, and 5 of the Cats recorded 2 hits. Cody Mombourquette and Mark Charrette were very impressive. While the score was 7-4, Charrette made a great catch in the infield as he was falling, to end the 7th inning. Had he dropped that, there were 2 runners in scoring position for Brantford who both would’ve scored. A game-saving catch by Charrette, and a dandy at that.

Moving onto Saturday, the Fat Cats could get back to .500 with 2 wins, however the IBL schedulers didn’t give the Fat Cats a break. The Fat Cats had to play a doubleheader in 2 different towns. Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium in Hamilton played host to the first game, while the second would be played in London.

In Hamilton, the Thunderbirds have only won 5 games all season. It would be interesting to see how the Fat Cats would approach Hamilton. That question would be answered quickly.

The Cats exploded early, with 4 runs in the first 4 innings and would not stop there. Until the 8th inning the Fat Cats dominated, scoring 9 runs, and leading the game 9-0. In the 8th, starting pitcher Matt McGovern was pulled, after shutting out the Thunderbirds, and only allowing 2 hits for his 7 innings pitched. He pitched phenomenally.

Ottawa’s relief pitchers would almost cost them the game, as Kevin Gamble (who has an 81.08 ERA after his disastrous inning) allowed 3 runs on 2 hits, in one tenth of an inning. Tyler Durward came in relief for the reliever, and allowed 4 hits of his own and another 3 runs in almost 2 innings. Thankfully, the Cats’ clawed their way out of the last 2 innings, to win 9-6. A scary few moments toward the end of the game, though.

After Hamilton, Ottawa hopped back on their luxury bus, and made their way to London to face the Majors at Labatt Park. If the Fat Cats won this game, they would finally make some progress in their recent hot streak and tie the Toronto Maple Leafs for 5th place in the IBL standings.

Unfortunately, it looked like the drive from Hamilton to London took it’s toll on the Fat Cats. London got out to a quick start, getting out to a 5-0 lead early in the game. Ottawa would score 2 runs of their own, and the score would stay at 5-2 until the top of the 7th. In that inning, London ran into some trouble on the mound, where Ryan Hart was struggling to throw strikes. This allowed Ottawa to get back in the game, cutting the lead down to 5-4. Mike Mitro came onto the mound for Hart, however, and struckout 3 batters in just 2 innings. One little note, there was one strikeout in the 9th that very obviously should have been a walk (the count was 3-2 when the Ump made his mistake), but the called strike would give the Majors their 2nd out, and they would win the game 6-4.

William Sebatian took the loss for Ottawa, but pitched a very good 8 innings. IBL commissioner Joe O’neill was the colour commentator for the game on Rogers TV, and he said that Sebastian was the better starting pitcher on the night. At the plate, Matt McGovern had a home run, and another hit. He played very well on Saturday night for the Fat Cats, and was also solid in the field at first base. McGovern seems to have found himself once again. He was the best player on Ottawa for the entirety of this road trip.

Today, the Fat Cats had a very important series to deal with. They would play the Kitchener Panthers in a doubleheader at Jack Couch Park. This was the 2nd day in a row where Ottawa was forced to play 2 games in one day. Ottawa would also have to keep an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard, as if the Maple Leafs struggled against Brantford, Ottawa would have an opportunity to pass them with a sweep versus Kitchener. The Cats would also pull into a tie for 4th with the Panthers if they swept the doubleheader.

It’s too bad we let that opportunity go down the drain.

Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. The Panthers beat us 12-0, and the Leafs won 18-1. Ottawa had 4 errors in the field. Pitching and fielding, our 2 weaknesses from the inaugural season, came back to bite us in the ass during game 1 of this doubleheader. Eitan Maoz had 2 hits for Ottawa, but they both didn’t count for much more on the scoreboard. The Panthers played fantastically, and obviously meant business, while it seemed like the Fat Cats were just anxious to return home.

“Not so fast!” said Kitchener. Ottawa still had one game to play in this doubleheader. While the Fat Cats did scoop up another loss, they didn’t get blown out as badly as the first game. 11-7 was the final score, with Ottawa giving the Panthers a bit more of a run for their money.

At one point in the 4th the game was tied at 2, however the Panthers would aggrandize in the bottom of that inning for 6 runs, including a grand slam by Shaun Valeriote, to take an 8-2 lead. They wouldn’t give that lead up, as the Fat Cats would drop their 3rd straight.

All things considered, this road trip was definitely a fail for the Fat Cats. They could have been all alone in 4th had the week gone a little better for them. Instead we’re still stuck in 6th place, with no signs of advancing any higher in the standings.

The one thing that I’m really beginning to worry about is pitching. For these last few weeks, the Cats have rotated Soffer, Desclouds, McGovern, Sebastian and Sabourin as both starters and relievers. When we tried to go deep into the pitching staff, that reeeeeeally backfired. I’m going to be blunt about it, pitchers like Durward and Gamble are not good enough to be legitimate relievers. They’re just simply not good enough. Heading into the playoffs, if our 5 main guys and maybe Hayes can be ready to play on the mound during the playoffs and stay healthy, I’m not worried, however our depth may be a problem.

One thing that should be considered, and possibly be contributed to the Fat Cats’ recent success and failure, is where games are being played. While this team was hot, we played the majority of our games at home. While we did defeat Brantford, the net really came off of it’s moorings after the Hamilton game. I think the fatigue factor eventually proved too much. We needed to get home. This as well, may be a factor in the playoffs. Too many 8 hour bus rides isn’t a good thing.

Once we return to Ottawa Stadium, we should get back on our feet. It’ll definitely be a very interesting weekend as the T-Birds come to town, and the regular season draws to a close.

 

Side Note:  The Litter Box is now on Facebook! Join for analysis, and alerts on the Litter Box!!

/shameless plug

Fat Cats Down Baycats, Start Emergence as a Contender

P William Sebastian, C Rick Howroyd

The 2011 IBL Schedule hasn’t been very forgiving for the Ottawa Fat Cats as of late. Last weekend, the Cats took on the London Majors, who only had 4 losses headed into that weekend’s series against the Fat Cats. The Cats didn’t only handle the Majors, but we swept them. Would the highly ranked Barrie Baycats suffer the same fate at the hands of Ottawa this past weekend? Or would Ottawa implode?

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from the Fat Cats this weekend. The turnaround that the Fat Cats have had in these past weeks have definitely made teams more aware of Ottawa than they ever have been before, but would this be a true evolution for this team? In my mind, this weekend decided whether the Fat Cats would stay at the bottom tire of the league, or pick it up and join the Red Sox and Majors near the top.

On Friday, Barrie and Ottawa started off in a defensive battle, going 5 full innings without scoring a single run. In the 6th Inning, the bomb went off. The 2 teams would explode for a total of 9 runs.

The Baycats kicked it off with 4 runs in the top of the Inning, but the Fat Cats showed resiliency and scored 5 runs of their own to take the lead for the 1st time in the game. The Cats got through all 9 batters in their order in the bottom of the Inning. Eitan Maoz added an insurance run in the 7th, allowing relief pitcher Josh Soffer to step in and gain the win in a thriller that took all 9 Innings. Fat Cats fans definitely got their money’s worth on Canada Day.

After the Friday win, the Cats went into Saturday with a 3-game winning streak. Barrie wasn’t happy with their loss a day earlier and you could tell that they set out on Saturday to send a message. Not only did the Baycats start strong, but the Fat Cats looking slightly sluggish on the field. After the first 3 innings of the game, it was 5-1 Barrie. The 3rd Inning was one that the Fat Cats had trouble getting out of, with the Baycats scoring 3 runs. William Sebastian seemed to struggle on the mound, but that may be due to the lack of playing time that Sebastian has been able to take. I’m sure he’ll be back to his regular self after he shakes a bit of the rust off.

As the game started to enter it’s later stages, the Fat Cats came on. In the 6th Inning, it looked like the fielders had a little bit more of a jump in their step and the batters were looking more into it.

In the 7th, P Brett Sabourin only had to throw 5 pitches to retire the 3 Baycats batters. Then, the climax hit.

The Fat Cats had 6 hits, and all 6 of them came in to score. What was a 6-1 lead for the Baycats had turned into a 7-6 barn-burning showdown led by the Fat Cats. Both Rick Howroyd and Joe Stone had 2-RBIs, in an Inning that sent the 2,086 fans at Ottawa Stadium into a frenzy. However, the Baycats were not done. In the top of the 9th, Frank Hare brought Ryan Spataro home from first to tie the game, and then the game-winner was harpooned through an infield hole by Sean Reilly. The game ended with LaDale Hayes getting caught stealing with 2 outs. 8-7 was the final score with Chris England getting the win for Barrie, and Josh Soffer taking the loss for the Cats.

Sunday’s affair was much more even, and didn’t involve as many momentum shifts as Saturday did. The game was a stalemate for all of the regulation innings, with both teams being tied for much of the game. Danny Desclouds’ pitching was fairly sporadic, but he still backstopped the Fat Cats into the 7th Inning. Tyler Durward was quickly on and off of the mound, and Brett Sabourin pitched for the 2nd day in a row, handling the extra innings for the Fat Cats.

In the bottom of the 11th Inning, Cody Mombourquette brought Matt McGovern in with a Sac Fly, to win the game 5-4. A great win for Ottawa, that was highlighted by Cody Mombourquette’s consistency and Rick Howroyd’s timely hitting (Rogers TV colour commentator Brett Jewitt referred to Howroyd as “Mr. Automatic” frequently).

A valiant effort from the Fat Cats this weekend got the entire city on notice, and once again ignited the fire in the fans that was buried years ago when the Lynx lost steam. I haven’t heard the baseball fans here in Ottawa be this loud in a very long time. It’s more proof that the Fat Cats have something going for them that the Lynx (1997-2007) and the Rapidz never had.

It was also announced over the loudspeaker on Saturday night that the Fat Cats have passed last year’s total attendance, already bringing in 29,069 fans over this season, with games to spare. Baseball is alive and well in Ottawa, as proven this weekend. This trend will only go in the right direction if the Fat Cats continue their hike up the IBL standings. Remember, it’s been a long time since Ottawa has had a decent baseball team. As a wise man once said: “Winning is everything”, and that’s what Ottawa has been doing lately.