Coach Rob’s Top 10 moments of 2014

On the field, the Renegades had one of its best seasons ever in 2014.  We had our best World Series finish, we brought along 4 new players who all played big roles for us.  We brought in 6 new volunteers who all played vital roles on and off the field and we did all of this with a lot of adversity off the field.  The Adversity from life getting in the way.  I was sick from December 2013 to July 2014 and was unable to even hit grounders till June.  Ron Cochran hurt his back and we did not throw to each other till June.  Justin was absent from most of the early practices as he was in the midst of moving.  Ace also moved further away.  All of this meant that many of the core coaches who run the game were not available as often.  The team really pulled together and supported each other.  What we accomplished was amazing.  These are the top moments from Rob’s opinion.  You may beg to differ…and that’s ok.  Let us know on Facebook what moment we left out!

#10 Soto Scores

Soto runs and then Crawls to the base to score his first runLuis Soto was one of 5 rookies who started the season for us and he had the least experience of any of them in playing team sports.  Soto was enthusiastic all year-long but learning to be part of a team was just as critical to him as learning to play the sport.  We had to show him how to communicate with the coaches on the field during practice and really work hard to make sure his confidence stayed up as he faced challenges and fell behind his rookie peers.  We quickly found that this kid despite his small stature is very strong.  Push-ups were not a problem for him as he could do them by the hundreds.  Once we got him confident in a swing, we found he had very good power despite an awkward off-balance swing.  In his first tournament in NY he struck out in his two plate appearances on just 8 pitches.  In our 2nd game against the Pennsylvania Wolfpack in Philly,  Soto stepped to the plate in a 0-0 game in the bottom of the 2nd and delivered a bomb to left field that sent their outfielder running backwards.  Soto took off down the 1st base line but tripped about 10 feet from the bag.  He never gave up and crawled to the bag tagging it just before the outfielder fielded the ball at around 150 feet.  Soto’s run was the only run the team scored till we broke out for 4 runs in the 6th inning.  Never have we seen a player score their first run in this type of manner.  The photo (by TNT photography captures the moment)

#9 Boston Globe feature on Joe McCormick

Photo by Dina Rudick/Boston GlobeIn 2013, we met Dave Wanczyk who fell in love with beep baseball and is working on a book  he is hoping to publish in 2015.  He took a liking to our team and we will be a big part of that publication.  During the off-season, Dave connected with the Boston Globe and put a feature article on Joe McCormick into the globe Magazine on May 25th.  The article was amazing (you can view it on our web site) but what many people did not see was the 2 hour photo shoot we had with the Globe Photographer in the mud and foul weather.  Mac was like a super model and I will never forget calling him Giselle when his photo shoot took 75% of the 3 hour practice.

 

#8 Thanh Lifts our spirits

Ron is attacked by ThanhNot every moment you will remember happens on the field.  What made the 2014 team special was the bond that we had and how we supported each other.  Rookie Thanh Hunyh had a rough year.  He was the first rookie to commit to playing in the winter despite knowing he would face a long commute on the commuter rail every practice from Worcester.  Then in the Spring he had to have serious eye surgery to give him two ocular prosthesis.  Then if that was not bad enough, he got hurt in practice right before our games were to begin and the injury left him on the shelf for our two trips to NY and Philly.  Thanh made his first appearance in the World Series and played in 6 of our games there.  He even made 4 stops against the Austin Blackhawks.  But the memorable moment was at dinner following the World Series.  Thanh is the smallest player we have on the roster.  He stands close to 5 foot 3 inch tall and weighs about 125 pounds.  All dinner long he was saying how strong he was and that he could lift any of the Renegades who were there (Rob Thayer was not with us at this time).  All eyes turned to Ron Cochran who is about 6 foot 3 and 250 pounds.  Ron wanted nothing to do with this as he kept saying things would end bad.  After dinner Thanh attacked Ron in the parking lot and to the amazement of everyone lifted Ron into the air…before he lost balance and they fell backwards.  It was the funniest thing we saw all year-long.  Here is a link to the video

#7 Live on Fox

The Renegades have gotten a lot of press over the years.  We have been on NESN, Chronicle, the NY Times, the Boston Globe and many more publications and news broadcasts.  We had never been on live TV.  In July, Rob, Wrong Way and Jack Clancy appeared live on Fox TV news to promote the sale of the documentary on DVD.  What an amazing experience this was.  We had no idea what questions they would ask us and how it would work…and I think we did pretty good for being so inexperienced in live broadcasts.

#6 Coaching Moves help lead us to a victory

Joe Yee came off the bench to score a pair and Weissman made some great coaching decisions for the RenegadesEvery morning of the World Series I was sick and late to the field.  During this time, I would pour over the scouting reports of our opponents.  I knew on this day that we would likely see the Long Island Bombers.  I also know how hard it can be to beat a team three times in a season.  The Bombers held the key to us advancing to get a shot at our goal.  The Bombers know us very well and it would likely be a close game.  I decided that I wanted to make some defensive shifts to try to take away their lead-off hitter, Jose Dejesus who is a very fast left-handed hitter.  Before the game, I sat with Justin and Bryan and reviewed the defensive positions with them.  My strategy was not met with much enthusiasm and counter points were made.  In the end, I listened and asked them to make the shift.  In the very first inning, Dejesus hit a deep shot into right that got past McCormick and Dino….right into the hands of Larry Haile who I moved there from 3rd base to make the first big out of the game.  All the coaches started laughing and gave me some big kudos.  Later in the game, we were clinging to a 4-1 lead and I wanted to get some insurance.  I thought it was time to get Joe Yee into the game and off the bench he came to score runs in the 5th and 6th innings to give us a huge boost and put the game out of reach of the Bombers.  I guess sitting on the toilet for 90 minutes in the morning being sick paid off!

 

 

#5 I Can’t believe I made it

Facebook post from the world seriesFrom a personal standpoint, 2014 was a terrible year for my health.  I was sick from December till July.  During that time I spent 23 days in the hospital. I lost close to 40 pounds, I was hoped up on steroids and I was miserable.  I lost all of my muscle tone and my legs would go into spasm just standing at practice.  I was unable to do anything at practice other than coach.  No hitting grounders, no catching, throwing or even holding a hit stick.  Players were asked to avoid me if they were sick because my immune system was non-existent.   I started catching in June, just in time to go to Long Island.  Traveling was so hard.  John Oliveira convinced us to take an extra coach this year so if I got sick at the World Series, we would have coverage.  Every morning, the team would leave for the fields without me because I was sick for 90 minutes every single day.  I even flew out a day early from the team because I would be unable to wake up early to catch our flight.  The morning before our first games of the World Series hotel I sat alone in my room anxiously awaiting the games when it hit me.  I was just so thankful to have been able to lead my team into battle in what was the toughest year of my life.

#4 Walk off moment against Wichita jump starts McCormick to World Series All Star

Joe Mac with his All Star award and is pitcher and catcher, Ron and RobOur second game of the series was against the Wichita Sonics, which according to the seeding should have been an easy game…but because the league does not seed with intelligence…this team was much better than an 18 seed (they would finish 13).  We found ourselves in a dog fight and heading into the 6th inning we clung to a 4-2 lead.  Wichita would plate a run, making it  one run game and I called a time out.  I calmly walked out to the field (something I worked on all year) huddled the team up and looked at everyone’s faces.  I did not see panic.  I told the team that we just needed to relax and stay loose.  Before leaving the huddle I told the team something I learned through my stress management course (something I took as part of my recovery) and I had the entire team on the field take a deep breath and release at the same time.  In retrospect it was very funny and everyone did it.  The next hitter was Kevin Burton who scored on a bang-bang play that joe McCormick had just missed (according to the ump).  We got out of the inning in a 4-4 tie when Mac would lead off.  I put my arm around him as he came to the plate and asked him if he thought he had made the play in the previous inning.  He told me with certainty that he made the out.  I told him the beep ball gods would make it up to him on the first pitch.  The first pitch was drilled and scored a walk off run down the third base line.   McCormick would go on to have one of the best World Series of any Renegade offensive player as he hit .600 on the week and finished 5th in the league in hitting.  It was not an easy year for Mac either.  In the 2013 World Series he hit a meager .310 and hit just .370 in the beast of the East tournament.  He worked hard to get to this level on both the mental and physical side of the game.  We all were proud of him!

#3 Rob Dias gets redemption and Walks-off against Pennsylvania for first ever career hit

Evan Silver and Rob Dias

Evan Silver and Rob Dias were two of the heroes of our 1st game of the year

In our first game of the year, we played the Pennsylvania Wolfpack.  We had a wacky start to the season and had been struggling in this game as the rust of Weissman and Cochran was showing and the team would strike out at a 48% clip.  In The bottom of the 5th, Rookie Rob Dias came to the plate for his first official at bat of his career.  He laced a rocket down the third base line when controversy would begin. On his way down the line, Coach Weissman saw that one of his coaches had turned their back and he screamed out her name twice to get her attention and avoid a collision between her and Dias who was going to be safe by a mile, but Philly Captain Greg Gontaryk said what Rob did was illegal and a debate ensued. After a 10 minute delay to look at the rule book, the umpire declared the play a do over….which resulted in a strike out….as Dias was stripped of his first career hit on a technicality.  Pennsylvania took a 4-3 lead in the 6th inning.  Evan Silver came off the bench to hit for a struggling Joey Buizon and scored the game tying run in the bottom of the 6th to keep the game alive for the Renegades and send it to extra innings.  Who would lead off the 7th inning for Boston? Rob Dias, looking for redemption. On the first pitch he blasted a ball up the center of the field by everyone and sprinted toward first for the walk off victory. Talk about a memorable way to start your Renegade career by getting a run taken away from you on a technicality and then scoring your first run in walk off fashion!

 

#2 Beast of the East Champs again for the 4th year!

Beast of the East Champs in 2014!You have read some of the stories above and know that we faced a lot of adversity and change in this season.  We had an influx of new players this year and from early in the season we identified the importance of advancing their skills as quickly as we could…knowing they would be key by the end of the season.  We also had a shortage of experienced coaches through much of the season..especially early in the year.  To see this team pull together and work together was amazing.  The first game of the year we played..we narrowly escaped with a walk off win in extra innings and had one of our worst offensive games in recent team history.  This was due to the coaching shortages and the illness I suffered preventing us to have enough effective batting practice.  On the defensive side of the game we entered this tournament with Nick Chisholm and Jamie Dickerson as our spotters and between them they had a combined experience of 4 games called.  They did amazing and led the defense!  Through hard work we won all three games in New York.  Then right as we were preparing for our trip to Philly, our number two pitcher, Dan Cotter was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat by Larry Haile which broke Danny’s nose.  As we scrambled to get our number three pitcher ready (Nick Chisholm), Danny gutted it out and returned to practice…wearing a mask.  Danny and Nick helped pitch this team to victory in Philly to give us our 4th Consecutive beast of the East Championship.  As a coach, I was so proud of our team achievement to get contributions from all of our players and coaches!  Write ups of our two tournaments are here: We went  3-0 in Long Island and 2-1 in Philly to finish 5-1 on the season on the East Coast!

#1 Boston Gets chance at best finish ever in World Series and Battles the Bayou City Heat

Guy is PatchedFor the first time in team history we still mathematically had a shot at the championship on the Friday of the World Series as we were one of 6 teams still alive in double elimination.  When we awoke that morning the team was just so excited and the atmosphere was exciting.  Heck, I was so amped, I left the hotel that morning forgetting to brush my teeth.  This was the game we waited for all week, a chance to play against one of the top teams in the NBBA with no concerns about resting players.  We had done a good job of keeping guys rested through the week and beyond Rob Dias’ bruised ribs and sliced open head were fairly healthy.  The game was actually delayed because the medical team was not there to prepare Rob Dias for the game and we got a hand from the Bayou City Heat family.  As the game approached its start, I learned from the mistake of 2013 and instead of getting the team amped up…I tried to keep things loose and fun.  As the Renegade lined up before the start of the game, the Bayou City Heat broke into a cheer..and I raced to stand in front of Larry Haile.  Larry is a closet “heat” fan and loves their rhythm and style.  As they sang…I stood in front of him nose to nose yelling at him to stay with us and to ignore the noise as I attempted to drown out their song for close to 30 seconds.  Larry could not stop laughing and the team would stay loose.  We jumped out to a huge lead and after three innings led the Heat 8-2 highlighted by Larry Haile scoring by running to a  first base that was not buzzing for about the last 70 feet of his dark journey.  As the game went on, the crowd started to pick up.  Bayou City even decided to “patch” Guy Zuccarello because he was a beast on defense and because the blindfold they made him wear was to big on his head.  It did not affect Guy’s game.  Bayou City was getting chippy and complaining the whole game about the pitchers cadence and we just loved every minute of it because we were playing loose with nothing to lose and showing mental toughness, something we worked on all year.  In the end, Bayou battled back and we fell 12-11 in what was one of the best games of the entire NBBA World Series.  The Whole league was talking about the season we had.  In 2013, we had to get over the hump of playing RHI and amping ourselves up.  We fixed this in 2014 and now we need to make some more tweaks to help us climb higher in the ranks of the NBBA.  Losing is never easy..and losing by a single run was crushing to us…but we learned a lot about ourselves that day and will always look back on that game as an amazing memory…despite the final score!