Fat Cats swept, still an exciting weekend
BY CARLOS VERDE
The Fat Cats welcomed the London Majors to Ottawa Stadium this past weekend and while they didn’t boost their win column, it was a still an exciting weekend filled with drama. The series marked London LF Cleveland Brownlee’s return to Ottawa after he let the crowd and umpiring get to him in last season’s playoff series between the Fat Cats and Majors, where he traded insults with Ottawa’s classiest fans.
The series also had implications in the standings, with the Fat Cats entering the series just 2.5 games behind the Majors (albeit with London having 5 games in hand). The baseball itself was also quite exciting, especially in game one of the two game set.
During the 2011 IBL playoffs, Cleveland Brownlee struggled mightily in the Majors’ series with the Fat Cats (which the team eventually lost 4-1). He hit just .190, which was a massive slump from his .387 clip during the season. He blamed the umps, he blamed the fans, and the chirping inevitably started.
Brownlee was mocked and laughed at by FatCats fans, rightly or wrongly, and the team hyped up London’s, and on a larger scale, Brownlee’s return to Ottawa this weekend.
The whole Brownlee thing was probably overplayed although on Sunday in the second game of the series, a couple Fat Cats fans really did give it to Brownlee, who put up an unimpressive 1-for-5 with three K’s, and really didn’t look very good. On the series, Brownlee was 2-for-9 and did not look like the .327 lifetime hitter he is in the IBL, maybe he’s still feeling the effects of his release from a North American League team?
The Fat Cats entered the weekend just 2.5 games behind the Majors, but from the two games that were played at Ottawa Stadium, you wouldn’t have known it. While Fat Cats starter Brandon Huffman did fan 13 batters to add to his IBL-leading strikeout total, the Majors still looked like the better team in this series at the dish, more threatening.
One glaring contrast between these two teams, at least in this series, was the defense. In game one, the London closer needed some spectacular defence just to limp his way to a save (he was hit all over the park) in a 3-1 ballgame. In game two, London’s defence didn’t have to be spectacular but was steady and didn’t fall victim to fielding gaffs. On the other end of the spectrum, the Fat Cats committed 6 errors in the two games, including a game-changing four during Sunday’s 7-1 loss (three of which were committed by their ‘solid’ left side of the infield).
While the Fat Cats’ effort in game two was disappointing, there were a few things I was more disappointed by. Roop Chanderdat for instance. The London manager wouldn’t stop yapping. There should be a limit as to how many times a manager can come out and argue a call. Chanderdat came out at least 6 times throughout the course of Sunday’s afternoon game to argue with the ump. It was brutal.
Yet home plate ump David Anber continually took his whining. Then, when there was a debate on a play at first base, Amber tossed Fat Cats catcher Eitan Maoz for no apparent reason. He then seemed to provoke Fat Cats reliever Brett Sabourin, and Sabourin’s top exploded. He tackled teammate Jason Coker who was valiantly trying to block Sabourin’s path to the ump. Any way you slice it, the umping was bad. There were questionable calls on the field, and questionable ejections. Can’t wait to see his game report!
On a happier note, I also saw something really great at the park on Sunday afternoon. A London base coach, not sure which one, was talking casually with manager Roop Chanderdat while the Fat Cats were tossing away Frisbees from on top of the Majors’ dugout. A few of Ottawa’s finest decided it would be fun to pull a Wrigley and throw the Frisbees at the opposing team. When a Frisbee landed near the aforementioned base coach, he picked it up and, walking over to the railing, handed it to a little boy who was in the first row with his dad.
That was a real class act from that coach and it impressed me. Despite all of the chirping and on-field stuff going on, this coach still had the decency to give a Frisbee to a little kid. Real nice thing to see at the park. Aside from Mr. Jackie Robinson (was wondering, hasn’t the IBL discontinued the wearing of #42 like all other pro leagues?), London DH Joel Gattoni who was wearing #42 and Cleveland Brownlee, the rest of the London players seemed nice enough, with 3B Ty Graham even chatting politely with fans while in the on-deck circle.
In other IBL news, Toronto beat Barrie in a shootout at Christie Pits in Toronto, 17-13. The powerhouse Brantford Red Sox also played a close game with the last-place Hamilton Cardinals at Bernie Arbour Memorial Stadium in Hamilton. It looks as though Toronto is getting hot (at least offensively) at the right time. As for Hamilton, could this be a sign of improvement? The IBL promises lots of excitement as it kicks into its playoff drive in the coming weeks.