Justen Proctor named to League All Star team

First time In team history

Justen Proctor and Christian Thaxton

201 All-stars for the Renegades – Justen Proctor and Christian Thaxton

For the first time in team history, Boston placed two players on the League All-star team.  Christian Thaxton was named the MVP of the league on offense.  He broke a 21 year record by hitting .897 at the World Series.  We recently told that story here:  and it was part of a story that played on national radio on NPR here.  Just this past week, Justen Proctor was named to the League All Star team as well.  He was named to the 2017 World Series all star team on defense and was the 6th best defender in the league making 4.2 stops per game.  It was the second time Proctor had earned this award in his career.

There was a bit of work to do here and some lobbying to get him on the team because he was not initially recognized by the league.  Thankfully, the league saw a way to give him this honor.  Here is how it went down.

Proctor’s Series

In game one of the World Series, Coach Weissman wanted to get Proctor some reps on offense because they had been working hard to teach Justen better hitting mechanics. Weissman knew Proctor would see some time during the week as a designated fielder but wanted to see if Proctor could help on offense.  A decision was made to start him as the Designated Hitter against the Seattle South King Sluggers.  He never stepped foot on the field defensively in this contest.  Through the week, Proctor would play some games as a Designated Fielder (meaning he would have Larry Haile hit for him) and some games he would play both ways, getting a chance to hit and field.  He played in a total of 7 games, but only 6 games in the field.  Over the week he stopped 25 balls.  That gave him 4.2 stops per game….in Weissman’s eyes.  The break out looked like this

Opponent Stops
NJ Titans 5
Long Island Bombers 3
Austin Black Hawks 6
Colorado Storm 3
Indy Thunder 2
Indy Edge 6

 

Weissman sprang to action

Before the banquet began, Weissman texted the league and asked for the league to please check the score sheets because there was a feeling the league would count the game he was a DH against his defensive stats.  There was no response and six players were honored at the banquet.  As soon as Andrew Bernet was called to the stand, Weissman knew he would need to bring this to the league’s attention, as Proctor should have been on the team.  The team looked like this”:

MVP Isaiah Wilcox (San Antonio) 5.714
2) Tim Chappell (Tyler) 5.222
3) Eric Rodriguez (Indy Thunder) 4.900
4) Ethan Johnston (Colorado) 4.667
5) Carnell Walker (St. Louis) 4.333
6) Andrew Bernet (BCS) 3.857

After the banquet, Weissman spoke with the league and kicked off a request to have this changed.  This took about 12 days to look into and when the dust settled, the league decided the right thing was to name Proctor to the All-star team.

Jamie Dickerson, Aaron Proctor and Bryan Grillo are pictured here with the other 2017 WS Renegade volunteers

It’s important to note for a player to be an all-star on defense they must have great hearing, good defensive skills, play against teams that will put the ball into play and have a great team of defensive callers.  At the World Series this year, Justen worked with Bryan Grillo on his side of the field.  He worked with a combination of Aarron Proctor and Jamie Dickerson on the right side of the field.  For Grillo and Dickerson, they have become two of the top callers in history.  For Aaron Proctor, he was calling in his first world Series with less than 6 games experience under his belt.   Each of them should take pride in Justen’s accomplishment.

 

Justen Proctor’s story

Photo of Justen Cantan

Picture of Justen in 2009

Justen started playing for the Renegades in 2009.  That season, he joined the team with his brother, Shayne.  Shayne was an athlete who loved to compete.  He even played high school football in Hawaii against sighted opponents.  When Shayne found the team he thought his brother may enjoy it as well.  Shayne was sold on playing the moment he found out about it.  Justen was not.  They both came to a practice in the winter and Shayne was excited while his older brother, Justen was hesitant.  Justen had never played on a team or played sports in his life. He was unsure this would be good for him.  At a gathering after practice, former captain, Kae Rausch spoke with Justen about the benefits of playing.  She told him about her experience with sports and how being a Renegade was rewarding.  She was a leader on the team in those days but her voice was more impactful than her stats.  That time with Kae helped convinced Justen to give it a try.

Justen found out he really liked playing sports

In 2009, Justen was still learning the game.  We found out about his mentality early on during the 6th inning of a game against Long Island in New York.  The Renegades entered the last inning of that game down 8-3 and stared to come back.  After clawing back the Renegades got the score to 8-6 when Weissman decided to gamble and give Justen a chance in a big moment.  Justen had just finished his first ever game and stepped into the box with a grin from ear to ear. In an epic at-bat after fouling off six consecutive pitches, Ron Cochran connected and Justen hit a grounder down the 3rd baseline to Jim Hughes and he beat it out to bring the Renegades one run away from tying it.  Boston would eventually win this contest in what is still the longest game in Renegades history – nine innings.  Justen would finish his rookie year as a key contributor off the bench.

This kid is Good

As the Renegade coaches looked to see how they could make the team better, it was decided that Justen had some skills we had never seen before.  He was the best player in team history at picking up a ball that was not rolling.  That made it a no brainer to put him on the left side of the defense.  BUT, at that time, Dino Vasile was playing that spot and he was the best two way player in team history.  In fact, Dino had just come off a year where he made 59 stops which was the 4th best in team history at the time.  Dino was almost named to the All star team at the 2009 World Series in Stockton (but that award was stripped away from him when there was an error with the stats from another team pushing Dino to the 7th most productive defender in California)  The Renegades decided to move him to the mid field spot.  This gave them a dynamic defense of Proctor, Vasile and Zuccarello.  Three players that would earn multiple awards in the league for their defense.  How would Justen respond?  He made 53 stops in 2010.

2011 was a break out year

Justen Proctor Defensive All Star Boston Renegades

Justen Playing defense in 2011 against Long Island

In 2011, Justen did even better than he did in 2010.  He went out and set a Renegade record that still stands today making 77 stops on the season in 15 games.  He also made 39 of these at the World Series which placed him 3rd on the League All-star team.  2011 was not only big for Justen on the field, it was big for him off the field.  He had graduated with his MBA and decided to take a job for the Air force in Hawaii which would put an end to his beep baseball career at least for the next three years.  He would have hopes to come back in the future, but that would be uncertain.

2016 brings Justen Back

Justen Proctor Boston Renegade Defensive All Star

Justen Proctor makes a stop in the 2016 World Series

Justen ached to get back to the East Coast.  He landed a job doing contracting for the Navy in Rhode Island and came back to play ball for the Renegades in 2016.  Upon his return, he had put on a bunch of muscle as he had developed a work out return and a love of staying in shape while he was gone for the previous three years.  With Proctor in the fold, the Renegades knew they would sneak up on the league.  They knew they had one of the top defenders in the game with Proctor and one of the best hitters in the game in Thaxton.  What would happen?  Boston would shock the league and get to the title game in 2016.

2017 – Bolingbrook All-star

The World Series is the biggest event in the NBBA.  The second biggest event is a tournament hosted in Bolingbrook, Il.  This year, the Boston Renegades attended for the 7th time in team history this past June.  The tournament hosted some of the best teams in the country including the teams that finished 1-2-3 in the 2016 World Series. Boston would go to these games without three starters (Joe McCormick, Rob Dias and Guy Zuccarello) and without their number one pitcher – Ron Cochran.  The Gades were also going with some depth on their spotter rotation as they would be without their top three callers experience wise (Grillo, Dickerson, Lenicheck).  It was a great event and got the team some much needed experience.  While there, Justen Proctor placed second on the All star team making 23 stops in 4 games.  He did this with two spotters who had very little experience.  Ben Coiner and Joe Bourque were calling their first set of games together.  For Coiner he was 6-0 lifetime in games entering this tournament and Bourque was making his debut.  Making a defensive all-star team is something that callers are a big part of as well.  They are pictured above with Justen wearing his award

Justen became the 9th Renegade to make a Bolingbrook all-star team for play in this four game tournament.  Here is a lost of the players who have made the team

Year Player Team Stats
2004 Darren Black Defense 28 Stops
2005 Darren Black Defense 17 Stops
2006 Darren Black Defense 20 Stops
2007 Luis Marquez Offense 12-20 (.600)
2007 Darren Black Defense 12 Stops
2009 Dino Vasile Defense 21 Stops
2010 Shayne Cantan Offense 9-14 (.643)
2013 Joey Buizon Offense 10-15 (.600)
2017 Justen Proctor Defense 23 Stops

 

Renegade All Stars

With the naming of Proctor to the 2017 All-star team, the Renegades continue to have an impressive list of names that are among some of the top players in the league.  Here is a list of all of the players named to league All-star teams at the World Series.  Offensively, we have listed their stats and their Average.  Defensiveley, we have listed how many stops they made and the quantity of games played.  The league determines a defensive All start by the amount of stops per game

Year Player Team Place Stats
2003 Darren Black Defense 2nd 28 stops in 5 games
2006 Darren Black Defense 6th 25 in 7 games
2007 Luis Marquez Offense 5th 18-30 (.600)
2011 Justen Proctor Defense 3rd 39 stops in 7 games
2012 Guy Zuccarello Defense MVP 36 stops in 7 games
2013 Guy Zuccarello Defense 3rd 41 stops in 8 games
2014 Joe McCormick Offense 5th 21-35 (.600)
2015 Christian Thaxton Offense 4th 23-32 (.719)
2016 Christian Thaxton Offense 4th 28-43 (.651)
2017 Christian Thaxton Offense MVP 26-29 (.719)
2017 Justen Proctor Defense 6th 25 stops in 6 games

 

Defensive All Star award needs to be changed

The Renegades are thankful the league was able to overlook the game Boston played against Seattle, where Proctor played as the Designated Hitter.  It would have been highway robbery to take the award away from him because he played in a game where without stepping on to the field defensively.

Proctor probably woud have made the defensive all-star team in 2o16, but Weissman played him sporadically to get him rest early in the tournament and in those game he only played a few innings, which would hurt his stats.  This shows one of the many flaws to this statistic.  Looking at stops per game is flawed on so many levels.  If a player plays an inning on defense, they are penalized as they may not even get a defensive chance, and this counts as a game against the stats.

What needs to happen is the league needs to devise a scoresheet which tracks defensive innings played.  If defensive innings were tracked, the league could more accurately award defensive stats to players.  This would have given Proctor the award without an argument  It may have even put him on the team in 2016 when he played a few innings of defense in some of the early games.

It gets even more complex from here.  Another issue with the defensive awards is the only people who win it play up front in the first layer of the defense.  Many times, players who make the defensive all-star team play on teams who don’t have anyone else on the team who can make stops.  Boston was the recipient of this in 2003 and 2006 when Darren Black led the Renegades defense.  Heck, this happened this year as well.  Here are a few examples.

Year Team Leader-stops Rest of team -stops % of stops made by team leader
2003 Boston Black – 28 8 78%
2006 Boston Black – 25 26 49%
2017 St. Luis Walker – 39 24 62%
2017 Lone Star Bernet -27 23 54%

 

There is some work being done to try and track defense differently.  This would allow us to measure who the best front men are as well as the best second and third layer players.  It would also look at the amount of innings players play.  This change needs to be seriously considered by all teams.  It will take some efforts to train people to use the scoresheets.  It will make compiling the stats more complex.  Ultimately, the league’s goal should be to try and automate this effort which will make this easier, more accurate and quicker to compile.  Until that day happens, we hope that we can drive change and use Justen’s example as one that shows the flaws of the system.

In Conclusion

The Renegades are Excited to see their star defender get some recognition as an All-star.  He is one of the most unheralded stars in the game.  Seeing someone join the team with no sports background turn into one of the top defenders in the game is amazing.  It truly shows that you can be good at something that you have never done before.  It shows the Renegade coaching staff has helped produce a top player with its style of coaching and its a fun story to hear.  Justen came to this team in 2009 without any desire to play.  He came because his brother asked him to.  He ended up leaving the team for a career and then came back to help lead his squad to the title game.  Justen never quits working.  He is driven professionally and on the field.  We call him a diva, but he will continue to be a force in this sport and make the Renegades a top team for years to come.

Christian Thaxton appeared on NPR’s “Only a Game”

On Saturday, August 12th, Christian Thaxton appeared on NPR’s “Only a Game” which aired nationally.  Only a Game is an Acclaimed show on NPR radio that has an audience of nearly a half a million listeners.  The story was a seven and a half minute piece that can be listened to our read on their web page at this link

Christian is an amazing man with a great outlook on life despite losing his vision only a few short years ago.  Not only does he make the Renegades better on the field, he helps make them better off the field a well.  In 2017, Christian set a league record for the highest batting average in league history.  That story can be explored here:

We want to thank Producer Gary Waleik for being interested in the story and doing such a good job telling it.  We also need to give Bryan Grillo of the Renegades some love as he has always wanted us to appear on this show and created the pitch tat caught Gary’s eyes.  Here are a few pictures of Christian at WBUR where he went into the studio to tell his story

Renegade Christian Thaxton in the studio at WBUR for Only a game

Christian telling his story in the WBUR studio

Christian Thaxton with the only a game producer

Christian Poses with Gary Waleik of WBUR after the show

Christian Thaxton stands in front of the WBUR sign

Christian Thaxton stands in front of the WBUR sign

 

 

 

 

Christian Thaxton broke a league record for batting average

In Wellington Florida during the 2017 Beep Baseball World Series, Christian Thaxton  broke a league record for batting average that had stood since 1996.

Christian Thaxton

Christian Thaxton at the plate during his 20 game hitting streak in Woburn, Ma

At the World Series, Thaxton hit an eye opening .897.  His stat line was 26 hits in 29 at bats with 1 strike out over 7 games.  The previous record was held by John Parker of the Wichita Sonics in 1996 when Parker hit .878 at the World Series in Austin, Texas.  Many consider John Parker one of the greatest hitters of the National Beep Baseball Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thaxton had many highlights this year for the Renegades that included

  • a 20 at bat streak over three tournaments where he scored in 20 straight at bats
  • He set a team record for his .759 average on the entire season (44-58), shattering the record he set in 2016 when he hit .691 (47-68)
  • Tied a team record (that he set in 2016) for scoring 6 runs in a game against the Austin Blackhawks

Tops in history

Christian Thaxton holds up a T shirt signed by John Parker

John Parker sent Christian Thaxton a shirt with Parker’s record and Christians new record written on it as a way to pass on the record that held for 21 years from one of the all-time greats to one of the leagues current stars

The NBBA has been in existence since the mid 1970’s but the rules have changed over time.  At one time bases were 90 feet and the hitters had 5 strikes to hit the ball.  John Parker’s record in 1996 was with the current set of rules with 100 foot bases and 4 strikes.  The top averages in history with the current rules for a single World Series are as follows

Rank Year Player Team Avg
1 2017 Christian Thaxton Boston Renegades .897
2 1996 John Parker Wichita Sonics .878
3 2001 Benny Meier Oklahoma City Bombers .840
4 1996 Dan Greene Chicago Bluff .837

 

 

About Christian Thaxton

Knowing Christian, this should come as no surprise since he did play junior college baseball before he lost his sight.  In just three seasons, his swing has become almost legendary in beep baseball, as he has made the all star team all three seasons he has played.  Not only is he one of the best hitters in the game, he is invested in being a great teammate.  All year long, he was working with his coaches and teammates to help the team better learn the proper mechanics of a swing.  His attitude makes him more of an MVP than his stats do.

Christian Thaxton pose with his MVP trophy and his catcher, Rob Weissman and pitcher, Ron Cochran

Weissman, Thaxton and Cochran pose with Christian’s MVP award

Though Thaxton is an amazing athlete, the work to get an MVP in beep baseball also heavily relies on his pitcher and catcher.  In beep baseball, the hitter is blindfolded and the pitcher and catcher are in the same team.  They work as a unit to put the ball into play against the opponent. Ron Cochran of Littleton, Mass threw every pitch to Thaxton and finished as one of the top pitchers of the 2017 beep baseball world series.  the Catcher was Head Coach, Rob Weissman of Waltham, mass.

2017  World Series

Thaxton ran away with the mvp this year as he finished .147 points ahead of the next best hitter in the 2017 World Series.

MVP Christian Thaxton (Boston Renegades) 0.897
2) Brandon Chesser (Austin Blackhawks) .750
3) Lupe Perez (Indy Edge) .733
4) Gerald Dycus (Indy Thunder) .704
5) Eric Rodriguez (Indy Thunder) .692
6) Cory White (Indy Thunder) .667

 

Putting this World Series in perspectve

In Beep baseball, it can be tough to tell who the best hitters are.  The reason for this is the fact the schedules are not equally balanced.  For the most part, nobody would argue with the names that make the list.  They are truly some of the best hitters in the league for sure.  In addition, each World Series produces different numbers that correlate to the speed of the fields.  Faster fields typically produce higher batting averages.   Christian did something that was pretty amazing.  The distance he had to 2nd place was also the largest gap in the history of the sport since the rule change

Rank Year MVP – team Avg 2nd place player/team 2nd place avg Delta
1 2017 Christian Thaxton – Boston .897 Brandon Chesser – Austin .750 .147
2 2003 Eric Mazariegos – West Coast .765 Mike Dell- Cleveland .630 .135
3 2011 Tanner Gers – Bayou City .667 Steve Lyles – Colorado .586 .081
4 2013 Tanner Gers – Bayou City .756 Ching-Kai Chen – Taiwan .676 .080

Boston’s Accomplishments

Thaxton becomes the second player in team history to earn an MVP at the world series.  Guy Zuccarello won a defensive MVP in the 2012 World Series in Ames, Iowa

The Renegades finished the 2017 World Series ranked 5th in the world.  It was the team’s third consecutive top 5 finish and its best performances since the team started competing in 2002.

Planting a seed for the NBBA

This article looks at how the NBBA seeding is done for the World Series and tries to explain how a pilot of the coaches power rankings can help.  The article was written before the World Series took place in July, 2017

Ranking teams, the NCAA does it.  The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB also do it when its play-off time.  It can be a tool to make things fairer in competition.  However, it is also a tool used for debate, conversation and interest.  Why not try it in the NBBA?  Let’s explore our thought process.

For the past few years I have been writing about strength of schedule that each team plays at the World Series.

2016 Strength of Schedule Article

2015 Strength of Schedule Article

2014 Strength of Schedule Article

I have discovered some trends and have wanted to drive some change.  Over time, I had spoken to some of the most respected coaches in the league in JT Herzog, Kevin Sibson, Jerry Windell, Darnell Booker and Johnny Walker.  We all agreed that it may be a time to change things.  So we set off on this journey which started last fall.

What are we trying to accomplish, some ask and why change things?  Everyone has an opinion but what we are trying to do is gather information.  We want to try and take the league to the next level competitively.  We believe that gathering information is the start.  Data leads to better decisions and with data, we can make more informed decisions on how we set up the league.  Let’s explore the current process and short term goals we have.  After exploring this, I’ll take you into other things that would happen organically if this was adopted and paths this could lead us down.

Learn from the past

NBBA LogoWhen I entered this league in 2003, we had a random draw to place teams into brackets.  The top two teams from each bracket went to a championship round and the bottom two teams went to the “barbeque bracket”.  That’s how it was.  It was simple…and totally unfair. I witnessed the Chicago Bluff making the championship bracket because they happened to be in an easy bracket.  I witnessed the Oklahoma City Bombers trounce every team in the barbeque bracket because their bracket was stacked.  It was random, it was impossible to predict what would happen if this was still the case, I think I would be bald, pulling my hair out.

JT Herzog led the charge to change this to the process we use today.  It was so much improved.  Not only did it focus on seeding and some level of intelligence, it allowed for seeding games at the end of the week.  This is a key point, the seeding games.  Before these existed…your world series would be over once you lost two games. Imagine booking flights for a week and playing three games on Tuesday and two games on Wednesday and being done…but you can’t leave till Sunday.  That change alone in my mind was amazing!  More than half the teams in this league are comprised of new teams, small teams and teams not made up of all stars.  These teams need an opportunity to be heard.  I speak from one of these teams, the Boston Renegades have been in the league since 2002 and it’s been a long journey to get to where we are today.

What are we proposing

Ever hear the word, Pilot?  I work in software and we pilot things all the time.  A pilot is an ability to try something, gather feedback and improve it to make it better.  That’s what this is.  We have some of the most dedicated beep ball coaching minds involved in this project and we have been discussing this since the fall.  Our goal is to see if this can work as a better way of seeding then the current system.  We have discussed the key things a team needs to win and agreed upon things such as:

Top level pitching
Speed
Solid defense
Coaching
Good hitting
Roster depth

Teams need all of this and more to compete for the title and these things are not easy to accomplish for many of our squads.  Some people have asked, why their team was not involved.  The answer is that it’s a pilot.  Actually the original proposal was to have a rep from every team involved…but we had a hard time getting participation so we wanted to start small and work out the kinks.  Yes, there are a few others out there who should be involved. And when the time is right, they will be invited.  What we want to avoid is having unqualified people (for example, someone new to the league) or people who don’t have the time to be involved…. Again, it’s a pilot.

We get together and gather data and talk about the teams.  With this group we have representation from the east, Texas, the mid-west and the west.  That covers a big part of the league.  So we discuss what we have seen amongst ourselves and then we vote.

Voting process

Originally, we were going to vote on all 21 teams going to the series but that was a hard exercise to do.  Some coaches felt it would be too much to rank all teams they don’t see play.  As the NCAA does, we decided to focus on the top portion of our league.  For the NCAA this is top 25, for the nbba, we decided to start with the top 12 because there would be six brackets and we wanted to focus on the top two of each bracket.

Down to 12 teams to vote on, each coach on the poll voted by giving 12 points to the best team, 11 points to the second best team all the way down to 1 point for the 12th team.  We published the final tally of voting.  What did we find?  We found that most teams were voted within a few spots of each other from all the coaches involved.  Nothing was very far out of whack.

What data is available

Getting data was very hard.  We quickly learned there are a lot of rumors out there.  But worse than that, we learned many teams just don’t know how to score a game.  Looking at score sheets in Texas and the East Coast was like deciphering code.  So what did we get?  Steve Guerra joined us to confirm the roster movement so that we had knowledge of what was happening on rosters.  We discussed the leagues schedules.  Sadly, outside the World Series, there was only 5 tournaments this year prior to the series.  Dallas in late May.  Indy thunder and 1st leg of the Beast if the East in early June.  Bolingbrook a week later.  The last leg of the Beast if the East in July.  Darnell and JT gave us stats from their tournaments.  Rob and Kevin provided information about the teams they saw in their respective tournaments.

We knew if teams were short major players.  We knew if teams were pitching back up pitchers.  We knew the field conditions (which so often play into the score).

But this showed us a major hole we have.  First, not all teams know how to keep score or just don’t historically care.  Few scoresheets show pitcher stats (or who pitched). Teams don’t write last names of players and sometimes the score sheets don’t add up to the amount of runs the team scored.  Some teams don’t record who made defensive stops or even record substitutions in a way all can understand. It’s something we need to clean up.

But the opportunity we have is we need to do more with our regional tournaments.  We need to show perspective players and sponsors we play ball all year long.  These tournaments count.  The data we can get from them should count more than what a team’s World Series finish was in the previous year.  These games tell us who is playing, and not playing.  They help us identify exciting new rookies who can make an impact and help us get a taste of the game.

Let’s face it…if you have read this far.  You love the sport.  Having this data can help make this game so much more exciting and enjoyable

What have we struggled with

We just discovered one of the major obstacles, the scoresheets.  It goes further than this.  Even if everyone had good scoresheets, the whole process is manual.  Imagine a future where we score games on a device.  That device records pitch by pitch stats.  That device stores the stats to be analyzed.  Most importantly, that device can be used to play the games live in the cloud for viewers to watch a game cast.  This is doable, MLB at bat does it and Tourney Machine is working on it as well.  There are smaller companies out there who also do it.  We just need some help to code an app for beep ball.  It would not be too hard for a company that has this skill already.  Heck, if we can get organized and move in this direction, we could likely find a sponsor to fund it.

We have also struggled with some negativity from the membership.  Look at the goal here.  All of sports and business is moving toward using data to make decisions.  All of these industries are finding new ways to measure their business.  Why should we be different?  We can do better.  We need to move away from a mindset that things are fair for everyone with our current system.  They are not.  Who is hurt the worst by the current process?  You think it’s a team like Taiwan that is hurt?  You’d be wrong.  The team most hurt by the current seeding are teams in the 8-9-10 seeds.  The teams who normally are busting their humps to try to get to the next level.  How are they hurt?  Typically, they are a mid-level team and based on the previous year, earned a two seed in their bracket.  Then a team like Taiwan (or San Antonio or the Edge) is thrown into their bracket…and normally, they come out of their bracket as a 3 seed.  This forces them to play early morning games the next day.  This also typically puts them in a position to play 6 games in the first two days.  Remember, they “earned” a two seed the year before.  Bottom line, if it’s just Taiwan we worry about…they may still get a two seed…just in a different bracket.

Next steps with pilot

We just recently finished up our second set of rankings.  A few key takeaways are as follows
1. These rankings are far from perfect….BUT, the variance we had was typically 1-2 seeds.  A few times we varied by 3 seeds.  There was nobody ranking Taiwan 21st.  Maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s closer to reality than Taiwan at 21
2. This was a fun exercise.  Talking rosters, schedules and movement is fun.  Heck, it would be for most in the league.  Imagine having this type of data available for everyone?  It could help make the league more than a one week world series.  It could bring more hype to local tournaments and double headers.  All of that leads to more exposure and will help teams recruit new players.  Growth is good!
3. The final rankings will not reflect the seedlings.  Why? Some of these teams will face each other and bounce the other out.  How can that happen?  Mis-seeding!  You should have gotten that by now…wink wink

Impact in 2017

So…can you guess the team who is most impacted this year?  Chicago.  They have San Antonio and Taiwan in their bracket.  If Taiwan plays like they do historically, Chicago could head out as the three seed.  Know what else happens?  They wreck a few opponents in their wake and knock their seeds down as well.  Who knows, it could be your team!

Minnesota is also in trouble.  They come in as a 9 seed.  If Taiwan is any good and grabs a 1 or 2 seed…that sends Chicago out as a 3 seed.  This would set up Minnesota’s first two games to be against either Taiwan or San Antonio…and then their second game could be against Chicago.  That’s a two and screw and Minnesota could be looking at the 13-16 bracket.

Two other teams are mis seeded in long island and St. Luis.  Both of these teams are existing teams who were not at the series last year.  Long island is not a 20 seed that is for sure.  They finished 2nd in the beast of the east.  They also beat the New Jersey Titans this year and the Titans are ranked in the middle of the pack.  St. Luis is a story. They are made up of many players and the pitcher who pitched for Atlanta last season.  Atlanta was one of the great stories of the 2016 World Series.  There is no way they should be lumped at the bottom.  These mis seedlings will hurt some of the teams fighting for the 13-16 brackets.

Cost of series for international
Some people think the current system can’t be changed.  Think of the cost for teams to come internationally.  I heard recently, it costs Taiwan $30,000 for airfare to come.  How can we honestly expect them to come every year?  The Dominican is coming this year…but going to Wisconsin will be much more expensive for them than Florida.  If we want to move closer to an international game, we have to remember it’s much harder for these teams.  We need to move to a better solution for everyone.

In sum, where can this take us?

1. We need to work on having excitement year round for this sport with key dates and milestones.  It needs to be about more than the World Series.  There is growing excitement for Bolingbrook, but they may only be able to take 8 teams there.  This idea can help us build that excitement
2. We need to publicize games and schedules of the teams.  The Renegades played 10 games leading up to the series.  The Thunder played 10 games as well.  These two teams finished 1-2 in 2017.  Boston proved the level of interest in the media at its beast of the east date.  At that tournament, we had 5 TV networks, 1 radio station and 3 newspapers.  This happens with hard work.  That press helps the entire league with exposure as some of it went “viral”.
3. Facebook live videos were such an amazing idea.  That idea needs growth.  We need to make games available to the public, not just a private group.  To do this, we need higher quality broadcasts.  Ones where we know who is batting, who makes the outs, video that shows the play…clearly.  Maybe work with a tripod and a microphone to cut out wind noise.  People like Lindsey Woodard and Andrea Guerra were Pioneers.  They brought an amazing idea to the league..and they did it well.  Time to take it to the next level.  A tool like what MLB at bat has can help…big time
4. Data is the key.  The more data we have, the better we can make seeding decisions. Also, if we can collect this in an automated manner, we can get sponsors to help
5. The more unified we are, the more exposure we will get.  That exposure will lead to a higher rate of growth in the league if we cultivate it
6. We discussed at length that this process can be done, and it can be done in a way that would improve the integrity of the league for everyone.
7. Stop thinking about your team and start thinking about the impact to all teams.  Fairness starts when we think of everyone.  If your seed changes by 1 spot, does it really matter much in the long run?  You will get the chance to prove yourself when the games play.  This change helps stop seeding mistakes by 20 spots that impact others.

I hope people will read this, re read it and truly give it some thought.  Think of the positives.  Think what it’s like to play for your home town team and set a goal of moving your seed up every year.  Not every team can win the World Series..but every team can work to improve their seed.  Improving your seed should be in your control.  With today’s system…it’s not in your control.  There are many more positives to this concept than negatives.  The thought process has been put in…This is not taken lightly.  We all hope you can help make this league better for everyone with the goal of growing the sport to cities and players whom never dreamt it possible to play baseball without their sight.

2017 NBBA World Series game summaries Day 4

The 2017 NBBA World Series game summaries Day 4 in Wellington, Florida for the Boston Renegades are below. Boston would be in the losers bracket and would run up against a tough opponent, the defending champion, Indy Thunder.  The Thunder were coming off a tough day as they played three games the previous day.

Game 6: Indy Bruises the Renegades in many ways again 19-9

Joe Yee represented the Renegades in this game when he was hit twice in the head in the same inning of this game. He got banged up, bruised and battered, much like the Reengades

The Indy Thunder were upset by the San Antonio Jets and were forced to play three games on Thursday.  The Renegades were the more rested team for sure.  This time, Joe McCormick would be in the lineup and the Gades were excited to show what they could do.  It started badly for Boston when Eric Rodriguez tagged the first pitch of the contest into deep center field for a run.  The only highlight of the inning for Boston was a pop up off the bat of Gerald Dycus.  Justen Proctor made an amazing play while laying on his back and finding the ball with his back on the ground and got the ball up to beat the speedy Dycus.  the Thunder plated 5 runs in the inning, the most runs boston had let up in an inning all week.  Boston would answer though.  Thaxton would lead off with a run scoring grounder.  With two out Rob “Diaz” Dias stepped into the box (it became a running joke for the rest of the day that this Diaz character whom the Indy coach, Darnell Booker called him, was a better hitter than Dias).  Dias laced a line drive to the right side for a run and then Justen Proctor hit a hard ball off the diving hands of Eric Rodriguez.  As Erod scrambled to the ball in foul territory, he conceded when he heard the lumbering footsteps of Proctor.  After one, it looked like a game as Indy led just 5-3. Corey white and Adam Rodenbeck would score in the second on grounders that could have been stopped.  But the damage was limited.  In the bottom of the second, Boston would tie the game with run scoring by Christian Thaxton and Larry Haile.  The third inning would be a nightmare.  Gerald Dycus led off with a bomb that Joe McCormick made an amazing play on, just a second to late.  Buhler would score on a shallow pop fly that landed between Proctor, Zuccarello and Yee with all of them thinking the other would take it.  Corey White then hit a grounder down the third base line and Joe Yee could not get to it.  Then Boston appeared to catch a break as the next two betters would strike out.  With 4 in and 2 outs, Eric Rodriguez tagged a fly ball to third base that hit Joe Yee on the side of the head on the fly. Yee wobbled but the run scored.  After a short break, he stayed in the game.  Dycus then scored again on a ball hit inside 100 feet and 6 runs were in for Indy.  Buhler then hit a bomb and things looked bad for Boston as the Indy Thunder were on a roll.  Corey White stepped up and this time Joe yee laid out and had the ball lined up.  Sadly, the ball hit him square in the face and the run scored. Bryan Grillo quickly called for help as blood was streaming from Yee’s face. He was hit twice in the head within just 4 batters.  This time, he was taken out on a golf cart to be tended to.  By the time the inning ended, Boston had let up 12 runs.  It was 19-5.  At this point, Weissman asked the starters what they wanted to do.  Play it out…or get ready for the 5/6 game.  The shell shocked team stood for a moment when Guy Zuccarello caught rage and encouraged the team to keep going.    Thaxton and Haile would score in the third but could not prevent the 12 run rule.  At this point, the game became a circus of substitutions.  The best moments came in the 6th, when Luis Soto plated a run on a fly ball down down the right side for his second run of the World Series.  “Hot Tub” Thayer also rocked a hard grounder to the left side through the defense and it looked like he would score but he missed the base and was put out to end the game.  It was the only missed base the Renegades had all series.  Overall, for the two teams, 26 players played in this contest.  There are no records kept for these things, but this is surely close to an NBBA record for most players playing in a game.  The Thunder would move to the next round to play Colorado with the winner of that game going to the finals (Indy would eventually win against Colorado).  Boston was shipped across the park to play in the 5/6 game against the Indy Edge.

Game 7: Renegades take care of business and earn the 5 seed 14-7

2017 World Series team for the Boston Renegades team picture

Team photo taken at the end of the World Series of the 21 Renegades representing the team. Not shown is Melissa Hoyt who left the squad on Wednesday

The last time these teams faced off was in Chicago, when then Edge trounced the Renegades.  They entered this match with common wins over New Jersey and Austin and a common loss to the Colorado Storm.  The Edge would sit a few of their starters in this contest.  In fact, they would strike out twice in the first inning to set the tone.  Thaxton would score and Joe McCormick would plate runs for Boston to get the party started and after one it was 2-0.  The Edge would fare better in the second as they plated three runs before Joe McCormick would help end the inning with a diving stop at first base off the bat of Jonathan Boggs.  Boston would answer with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame with Thaxton, McCormick and Dias scoring runs.  McCormick scored his runs on fly balls down the right side, which was a new thing for him using a different hand path in his swing.  In the third inning, Frank Porter would hit a line drive just by Justen Proctor’s out stretched hands and then bounced off Thaxton ‘s hands for a run.  That would be all for them in the 3rd.  McCormick was on his way to his best game of the week plated his third run.  Shawn Devenish also showed some speed as he legged out a hit and after three, Boston led 7-4.  The 4th inning was not kind to the Edge, Boggs and Trejo would each strike out and Gregory would be stopped by Justen.  As the team came to the bench, Weissman was waiting for them and encouraging them to focus.  The result was their best inning of the game.  Devenish legged out a run again.  Thaxton had a rare one pitch at bat lofting a bomb into left. Haile regained his stroke with a fly into left.  Rob Dias also scored on a grounder up the middle.  After 4 it was 11-4.  Weissman was thinking about subs but the Edge scored three times in the 5th to pull the game within 4 runs.  With one out, Thaxton, Haile and McCormick lofted bombs into left field for runs.  That would seal this game.  The Edge would throw up a goose egg in the 6th.  Boston would win 14-7 behind 4 run games from Thaxton and McCormick and 6 defensive stops by Proctor.  The 2017 season may not have ended up the way the team had wanted but it would end with a 13-4 record and it’s third top 5 finish in the past three seasons.

For more game summaries from the world Series

Day #1 vs Seattle and Long Island

Day #2 vs Long Island

Day #3 vs Austin and Colorado

 

2017 NBBA World Series game summaries Day 3

The 2017 NBBA World Series game summaries Day 3 in Wellington, Florida for the Boston Renegades are below. The Renegades advanced to the round of the top 8 teams who had zero losses.  This round would brin gthe first 8:30 start to the team.  This mean getting up super early and having to deal with a wet dew on the grass which the team had not seen all week.  The team knew that if it could win the 1st game, it would only have to play two games on the day.  The first game would be a must win game

2017 NBBA World Series game summaries day 3 for the Boston Renegades

Larry Haile plated 4 runs, Justen Proctor made 6 stops, Joe McCormick plated a pair and made three stops on defense, Guy scored three and made a pair of stops on defense,Joe Yee scored a pair, Rob Dias plated 1 run and made three stops on defense and Thaxton tied a career best with 6 runs scored

Game 4: Boston takes down Blackhawks again 18-7

Eight teams remained without a loss.  The winner of this match would only have to play two games on the day.  These two teams faced off in chicago in June.  Boston won that game in a close contest.  Neither team was at full strength at that time.  Austin was missing their lead off hitter, Mike Finn and a new addition to their team in Greg Roberts as well as some much needed depth to their bench.  Boston was missing three starters (McCormick, Dias and Zuccarello) as well as their number one pitcher, Ron Cochran.   The day would start off with umpire trouble.  Before the first pitch of the game was even thrown, Christian Thaxton was warned for touching his blindfold. An honest mistake, but Weissman looked up from his stool and asked the umpire what the penalty would be.  The answer was automatic ejection if he touched it again. Message received in deep fear from Weissman and Thaxton.  There was no intent behind that other than it being super hot out and sweat building up.  On the 5th pitch, Thaxton lofted a fly ball up the middle for a run. Joe McCormick then would strike out on the 6th pitch he swung at.  This bought Larry Haile to the plate.  He dribbled a ball down the third base line which brought Darious Sterling racing to the line.  A scary moment occurred when Sterling raced in front of Haile into foul ground to track the ball.  Haile was out but more importantly, no-one was injured. Sterling would then make a great play on a fly ball to nail Dias on a bang-bang play to end the inning.  Mike finn started the game off for Austin and lace a hard grounder to the right side to Rob Dias.  Everyone could hear the crack of the ball slamming into his chest.  Dias made the stop and was not hurt saying his chest hair cushioned the blow. Brandon Chesser would score on a bomb into left which brought the not so fleet of foot, Mariano Reynoso to the plate.  Reynoso hit a dribbler and raced to the base as Justen Proctor raced in.  99 out of 100 times, Proctor wins this race…but on this day, Reynoso had the speed and got the run to give Austin a 2-1 lead.  Hibner was trying to pick on the right side and Greg Roberts made the last out on a ball that McCormick stopped (his second stop of the inning). All three put outs came on the right side of the defense.  In the second after a Zuccarello whiff on 4 pitches, Joe Yee hit his first pitch on the ground right at Sterling but it got a lucky bounce and went over him and Yee scored.  The last time Yee scored against Austin, he broke his hand, this time he ended healthy!  Thaxton scored on another pop fly to give Boston a 3-2 lead.  McCormick scored on the 6th pitch he saw on a grounder to the right side to make it 4-2.  After a Larry Haile strikeout where he fouled off 4 pitches, Rob Dias came to the plate.  He hit a hard grounder up the middle that got away from Finn.  As Finn scrambled, Dias hit the base and the bang-bang went to Austin.  In the bottom of the second, Proctor nabbed Sterling to start the inning and then Finn hit a fly ball to the right side that Dias tried to stop on his knees.  The ball rolled under him and Finn was safe.  The number two hitter, Puryear struggled and struck out.  This brought the big bat of Brnadon Chesser to the plate.  He hit a weak grounder that Justen ate up like a pizza on Friday night.  It was quick and easy.  Sadly, for Boston, first base flickered and Chesser was awarded a new chance.  This is the rule, as bad as it is.  Even though the late base had no impact on this play, Chesser got another chance.  This time, he hit a grounder up the middle and Guy Zuccarello laid out for the stop.  He jumped for joy and Boston laughed as their all-time leader on defense made his first stop of the year for the Renegades in their 13th game of the season. Heading into the third inning, Guy Zuccarello would lead off the inning for the 2nd time of the game and be stopped by Finn up the middle.  Yee stepped to the dish and in the first pitch smoked a grounder to the left side for his second run of the game.   Thaxton followed his lead and also hit the first pitch on the ground down the third base line, for his third run if the game.  Haile would get on the board for the first time this game to push the score to 7-3.  Rob Dias was making an ugly trend as he lofted a fly to the right center of the field which Finn picked up on a bang-bang play to end the inning, the third straight inning, Dias made the last out.  In the bottom of the third, Thaxton made a nice play in the third layer of the defense to stop Reynoso. Proctor then stopped Roberts.  Hoping for a 1-2-3, boston needed to get the number 6 hitter, the speedy, Sterling.  This time, the ball went off Proctor and he could not get to it in time as Sterling scored.  Finn tacked on a run and after three Boston clung to a 7-5 lead.   Zuccarello would lead off again in the 4th (his third straight inning) and started making comments that he felt like Thaxton leading off so many innings. This time, he would hit a fly ball up the middle with some spin.  That spin was enough to elude Finn and Guy was on the board.  Thaxton would hit a fly ball to the right side and score with ease for his 4th of the game and with two out, Haile would score on a grounder up the middle to make the game 10-5 as Boston was keeping a constant pressure on Austin and getting contributions on offense from everyone, but Rob Dias ended the 4th inning in a row with a strike out.  The Austin 4th is where the wheels started to fall off.  Brandon Chesser scored on another bomb into left but Hibner struck out Reynoso, Roberts hit a dribbler to Proctor and Sterling also whiffed.  Two of Hibner’s three whiffs on the game came in this inning at a point where Austin needed something from the bottom half of the order.  In the 5th, our new lead-off hitter, Guy Zucarello scored his second run of the game on a grounder up the middle, Thaxton plated his 5th run of the contest on a fly ball up the gut to make it 12-6 Boston.  McCormick who had been quiet most of the game then hit a quality fly ball to the right side but Reynoso would make a great and lucky play as he dropped and landed on the ball to nab Joe. L-train Haile would then loft a deep fly into left to give Boston it’s 4th consecutive inning of three runs.  In form, Dias would end the inning as his frustration grew.  Hibner got a lead off run from Finn to start the 5th, but that would be all as Boston flashed leather with Proctor, McCormick and Dias making plays to end the inning. After five, Boston led 13-7 but never felt comfortable because Tim Hibner can lead any attack back and had his team as the home team.  Boston came to the bench and put a huddle together with a “we are farmers” chant in a cry for insurance runs.  Their cry was answered with the biggest inning of the game. Zuccarello led off for the 5th time and scored for the third time.  Thaxton plated his 6th run of the game on a bomb to center over everyone. McCormick plated his second run on a fly to center.  Haile scored on a grounder up the middle and Rob Dias came to the plate for the first time all game with less than two outs. Without the pressure, he scored his only run of the game and when he hit the bag, he actually smiled and laughed as he cried “finally” to his bench.  Boston had a 5 run inning. The nail was in the coffin.  Austin would go down 1-2-3 in the 6th with Proctor and Zuccarello making stops to seal the victory.  Boston would stay on the field and take on their rival, the Colorado Storm in a battle of two teams which were among the final four without a loss.  Austin would head to the losers bracket for a tough match up against the Chicago Comets.  The 6 run attack from Thaxton would tie a team record that he set in 2016 against the Pennsylvania Wolfpack.

Game 5: Boston loses a heart breaker in world war 4 to storm 8-6
Three of the last four contests between these teams had been decided by a run.  Two of them in walk off fashion.  Why should this game be different with a top 3 seed on the line? Both teams entered the game as part of the final four teams left undefeated in the week.  This time, the colorado bench was very deep as they recruited four familiar faces from Philly.  Two of them, John Margist and Mike Coughlin would draw the start. The coin toss would go for Colorado and both teams knew the game could very well come down to whom hit last.  Thaxton would lead off the game with a towering fly ball to center field.  The ball would come down straight on top of Demetrius Morrow’s head.  He was shocked, but it did not stop him from trying to find the ball.  Thaxton would score wth ease.  Morrow would be fine, in fact, he would be more than fine.  More to come on that soon.  In the bottom of the inning, John Margist would tag a shot to third and it would hit Joe Yee in the chest.  Yee scrambled to make the play and in the process tweaked a muscle in his back.  The out was recorded, but Yee was forced to leave the game with tightness in his back.  Both teams had defensive players hurt in the first inning.  Ethan johnston then lofted a fly ball to the right side which was short.  As Dias approached it, he kicked a goal by booting the ball about 50 feet.  After one, colorado led 2-1.  Thaxton got it back for Boston in the 2nd but that would be it for the Gades.  In the bottom of the frame, Margist scored a run on a shot down the line.  Joe McCormick made a great play to stop Ethan Johnston on a high fly ball to right center. Mike Malloy would then score on a shallow pop fly to the right side that Dias could not grab in time.  Weissman called time out to remind his team how to play these types of fly balls.  Chad Sumner would then hit a ball to Thaxton but the base flickered and even though it had zero impact on the play, it was a do over.  He then hit a ball down the third base line again, but Justen Proctor would range back to the base to pick the ball and stop the bleeding.  After two it was 4-2, Colorado.  The Third inning was awful.  Boston would throw up a goose egg for just the 2nd time all week.  To this point, Morrow was eating up everything hit his way up the middle of the field.  He had 3 stops and his teammate Johnston had 4.  Colorado would extend the lead in the third when Mike Coughlin would connect in a ball to center field, which bounced off Guy Zuccarello and Shayne Cantan picked up but lost the bang bang call and a run was score.  Johnston would also get the best of Zuccarello as a ball glanced off him as he was diving to his right.  Colorado led 6-2.  Thaxton would plate his third run of the game and to this point accounted for all the Renegade offense.  Joe McCormick was at the plate and had 3 strikes on him when controversy started.  For the third year in a row, a major issue occurred with the umps.  McCormick lofted a bomb into right field for what looked to be a run but in a split second, head umpire, Mike Woodard called him out for being out of the batters box.  A very long discussion incurred.  It was wrong of him to call the play dead before it was finished.  It was wrong of him to call the player out without warning.  Woodard would not budge in this and told Weissman he tried to warn him before the pitch was thrown.  No protest was filed and a sure run was taken off the board.  Weissman was fuming.  He urged his team to overcome the adveristy. Larry Haile answered the call and on the first pitch he saw, he drilled it down the third base line for a run.  The team was fired up.  Dias then hit the first pitch on a fly up the middle but this time Morrow was there and the rally would end.  Colorado led 6-4 but both teams knew Woodard stole at least one run from the Renegades.  For the 3rd straight year, Colorado would have the umps in their back pocket.  Maybe it has to do with the umps love for the Storm?  Colorado would go down 1-2-3 in the 4th as Zucarello stopped Coughlin this time and Proctor stopped Biggins.  Just as we thought momentum had swung the Renegades way, we ran into a case of the “Ethan Johnston’s”. Devenish would ground out to him.  Zuccarello would then hit a hard fly ball that Johnston would grab but the back breaker was when Christian Thaxton rocked a hard grounder to him, which bounced away from him, Johnston scrambled for it and picked it up in time to nab Thaxton.  It was the first time all week a team put Thaxton out on a ball he hit and it came at a rough time For the Renegades.  In the Bottom of the 5th, John Margist would lift a fly ball up the right middle.  Dias would drift backwards to the middle but was looking for Guy to make the play when he suddenly heard the ball beeping near his own feet.  At that time he went from a standing position right to the ground and picked it clean without searching for it like someone with sight right before Margist hit the bag.  Johnston would then step to the plate and hit a grounder to the left side. Proctor ranged to his right, dove and took the ball off his forehead.  He would be ok with a small scratch.  Mike Malloy would make a statement with a bomb into left field. Colorado led 8-4 and Boston had to dig deep.  McCormick led off the inning with a grounder to the right side, away from Johnston and Morrow, but to no avail as Margist stopped him.  Larry Haile laced a shot down the third base line for his second run of the game.  Rob Dias hit a squirter to the right side that eluded Mike Coughlin and it was 8-6. Looking for some magic, Weissman re -entered Joe Yee who had been getting treatment from Mike Marciello all game.  If he or Guy Zuccarello could score a run, it would get Thaxton back to the plate.  Yee found Morrow for an out. Zuccarello hit a ball that looked like it could slide by Coughlin…but not this time.  Ball game.  Colorado would advance to play Taiwan as the only two undefeated teams.  Boston took a hard loss made worse by a crazy umpire call.  It would not be the end of the Renegades chances to get back to the finals, but the road would be much harder and longer.

For more game summaries of the World Series

Day #1 vs Seattle and Long Island

Day #2 vs Long Island

Day #3 vs Austin and Colorado

Day #4 vs Indy Thunder and Indy Edge