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Jet Blue has given back to the Renegades

Jet Blue has a program called “Jet Blue for Good” and Jet Blue has given back to the Renegades.  For the 2018 season, Jet Blue will donate six round trip airfare tickets to the Renegades helping the team get to the World Series in Eu Claire, Wisconsin.  This will save the team over $2,000 or about 15% of the World Series budget!   Perfect timing considering they just started flying direct from Boston to Minneapolis!

Jet Blue Community Connection

jet blue logo2018 will mark the second year Jet Blue has been helping the Renegades with airfare and donations.  Jet Blue is a company that believes in giving back to the community and social responsibility.  They have many programs but they also support their employees volunteering initiatives.  All of this is a tribute to the work of Aaron Proctor who has been working with Jetblue for over eight years.

Aaron returned to the Renegades as a volunteer during the 2017 season.  He was a big part of the organization from 2009-2011 and we were excited to get him back on the field this past season.  Jet Blue works with Aaron to track his volunteer time.  The more time Aaron puts in, the more they have donated to the team.  They donated $1,000 to the team in 2016 as well

Aaron – on the field

Aaron has been a huge asset to the squad in 2017 both on and off the field.  On the field, he joined our defensive calling ranks  calling in nine games from the right side in New Jersey, Woburn and the World Series.

To those who don’t know beep ball, this means he led the first base side of our defense which consists of three blind players.  His role is a combination of strategy, safety and in some ways is like an air traffic controller. Strategically he helps the players prepare for the hitter, making sure they are standing in the right spots. When a ball is hit, he quickly yells a number between one and six to designate the location of the ball.  Speed and accuracy are critical to give his team a chance to make the out on the defense.  When he does his job right, the players relax and can move freely with minimal concerns of collisions.

Boston was 9-0 with Aaron calling on the right side.  Not bad for a guy who just started calling this year!  A constant presence at our Sunday practices, Aaron became a key part of our defensive coaching team.  Never shy to give feedback and quick with a sarcastic sense of humor, Aaron fits in well with this squad.

Bring your job to help the team

The Renegades have been fortunate over the past few years to get volunteers who bring their career expertise to the team helping in that role.  We have had personal trainers, physical therapists, nurses, and doctors help us get players in shape and keep them healthy enough to play at a competitive level.  Project managers have been involved running tournaments and organizing events.  Web site administrators have helped us build our web site.  We have even had public relation experts in the fold to help the Renegades get media attention.

Aaron – off the field

Aaron has been a key player in helping the Renegades save money.  He and Justen Proctor took the reigns in organizing all of the travel for the Renegades and became our traveling secretaries.  Since travel is his job, he knows many of the ins and outs.  Aaron helped us book all of our airfare to Chicago and West Palm Beach and worked with the groups department at Jet Blue to accomplish this.

We put Aaron to the test this year and he passed with flying colors.  Arron enabled the Renegades to do something for the first time in 17 years.  We were able to shuttle people in and out of Florida during the World Series as Melissa Hoyt and Jamie Dickerson both spent a few days with the team.  Allowing more Renegades to participate at the World Series was possible because of Aaron Proctor’s hard work.  Anyone that organizes travel for 20+ people knows how much time this can take.

Beyond booking travel, Aaron helped get all of our supplies for all three trips before the team arrived.  This meant he collected funds and shopped for the team so when we landed all of our snacks, drinks and field paint was waiting for us.  Not only that, but he was at the airport with a rental van waiting to pick the team up when it arrived.  He even became the grill master at the World Series where he cooked burgers for the entire team.

Picture of Aaron Proctor and a shirt from Jet Blue that reads "Inspiring Humanity" Jet Blue for Good

Aaron and Jet Blue for good

We can’t thank Aaron enough for all he does for the team.  JetBlue should be proud of the commitment to community that Aaron has made.  Aaron volunteered countless hours organizing trips for the team, attending practices and traveling with the team.  We are grateful for this amazing donation by Jet Blue.  It will allow opportunity for us to bring more players to the World Series. It will help the team compete and grow for the future.

Corporate donations like this are very helpful to a non profit organization.  We thank Jet Blue for the generous giving.  Jet Blue is up for good!  To learn more about Jet Blue’s corporate responsibility go to their web site here

Top 10 moments of the 2017 Renegade Season

Every season is full of exciting moments but here is a list of Coach Rob’s top 10 moments of the 2017 Renegade season.  Before we get into this list, keep in mind, this is just one point of view.  There are so many great things that happen throughout the year.  I’m sure each and every Renegade has different moments they want to remember.  One key thing here is we try to focus on memorable events, overcoming adversity, funny moments and positive experiences.  Even though there were a few questionable umpire moments this year, we choose not to focus on them and instead focus on what we can control.  As we count down toward the final days of 2017 and enter 2018, we will add the top moments until we reach number one.  Check Facebook or check back on this page every few days for updates!

For past top 10 moments articles see these posts

#10 Soto makes his first ever stop on defense

Ben Coiner escorts Luis Soto into the field against New Jersey

Ben Coiner (Spotter) escorts Luis Soto out into the field against the New Jersey Lightning in Woburn where Soto would make his first ever defensive stop

We always celebrate firsts on the Renegades.  For most players, earning their first defensive stop is harder than scoring their first run.  Luis Soto has been playing with the Renegades since 2015.  At this point in his career he had played in 16 games.  Soto had a tough year in 2016 as he was plagued with doubt and a lack of confidence in his game.  That was erased late in that season but 2017 brought other physical challenges for him.  The entire year he was plagued with an issue that caused him to be either dizzy or light headed whenever he dropped his chin.  This made practicing and playing very hard for him.  Despite this challenge, he really improved his game and would have his best year ever as a Renegade.  So many practices, we would see him making plays on defense in our deep rover position.  He even came close to making some plays earlier in the year in Chicago.  Our number 10 moment would come against the New Jersey Lightning.  With two out in the top of the 6th inning and a 15-2 lead, Dan Johnson of the Lightning hit a ball into left center field.  For the Lightning, this looked to be their 3rd run of the game and a back-to-back scoring opportunity for the first time all day.  As Johnson sprinted to the base, Soto backed up Joe Quintanilla and laid out.  He picked up the ball for the out and ended the contest.  His first ever put out ended the game.  Seeing him get this out after all of the emotional and physical battles he had over the past two seasons was a great coaching joy.

#9 Devenish is not just a DH

Second year player, Shawn Devenish saw some action in the field in his rookie campaign of 2016.  Sadly, most of it consisted of him turning his back to home plate running after deep drives into left field during the World Series. In beep baseball, this often spells out “run” for the offense.

A shot of Devenish from the outfield during his game against the NJ Lightning

A picture of Shawn playing defense against the NJ Lightning a few innings before he made his first stop on defense

Shawn plays with tenacity and he works hard at his craft.  He is not afraid to throw his body to the ground and he has shown some skills on defense.  He played some innings this year in the field at the corners.  As with our number 10 memorable moment of 2017, this is about celebrating Shawn’s first defensive out. Heck, this could have been the first time since 2002 we had two players make their first defensive stop on the same day.

Shawn saw his action in the last game of the Beast of the East as he was playing third base against the Long Island Bombers.  It was the top of the second inning and Boston was ahead 3-2 with two outs.  Long Island brought their lead off hitter to the plate in Joe Dejesus.  Our defense went into an over shift for this hitter, a shift we actually call the “Dejesus shift”.  Devenish found himself (the third baseman) playing in right field.  The scouting report paid off and Dejesus laced a ball down the first base line past the diving stop of Christian Thaxton.  Devenish laid out in a modified superman just as he has been taught.  The ball hit him near his ankles but since he was in a slight cup shape, the ball rolled right up his body and into his hands.  This was no small feat as Dejesus is one of the fastest players on the East coast.  Shawn’s sure hands picked the ball clean and Joe was out as the Renegades ended the threat.  Boston fed off this play and the momentum it provided helped carry over to the offense as the Renegades plated 9 runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning to build a 10 run lead.  It was great to see Shawn make a big play in a big moment.  It was better to see him make the play in a shift with perfect mechanics.  As we always say to players…you won’t forget your first.

Joe Yee is pictured here after the game with ice on his broken finger

#8 Yee – haw redeems himself against Austin

In Bolingbrook, the Renegades were playing for 5th place against the Austin Blackhawks.  After coming off a championship run in 2016, much of the league was surprised to hear the team was playing this poorly.  However, many of them did not know that short of coach Weissman, all of the Renegade volunteer staff was green.  We had our number two pitcher and our number 4 and 6 callers on the field.  Heck, Joe Bourque was calling his first set of games, ever.  In addition to this, Boston had three starters not make the trip as Joe McCormick, Guy Zuccarello and Rob Dias were unavailable.  Knowing this, it was great for the team to be competing at this level.

We faced the Austin Blackhawks who were also 1-2 on the weekend.  In the first inning of this game Boston jumped ahead 2-0 when Joe yee laced a hard grounder up the middle that looked like a sure third run of the inning, but he ran by third base and missed it to end the rally. Yee was upset as he put on the pink blind fold. After 4 innings, Boston clung to a 5-4 lead and that missed base was haunting the Renegades like a missed extra point often haunts a football team.

Austin would tie the game up 7-7 in the 5th inning.  Joe Yee would find himself leading off the 6th with one thing on his mind.  That thing had nothing to do with hitting and had everything to do with running.  Despite striking out on 9 pitches in his previous two at-bats, he was focused.  On the first pitch from pitcher, Jamie Dickerson, he hit a grounder up the middle and raced toward third again.  This ball was not hit as well as the one in the first inning and he needed speed to score.  It was going to be a bang bang play and Yee plowed straight into the bag scoring the go-ahead run to pull the team ahead 8-7.  The Renegade bench erupted as we knew we had all star, Christian Thaxton coming up to help cushion the lead.  The problem was Weissman knew the way Yee landed was not a good sign.  He was slow in getting up and the medic was called to look at him.  As the inning progressed, Yee was observed and it was determined he had injured a finger on his hand.  Joe was determined and with the aid of tape, took the field for the bottom of the 6th inning at 3rd base.

Boston would go on to win this game 9-7 in a dog fight against one of the best teams in the country.  The mental toughness of Joe Yee would be a big reason this happened.  We would later find upon our return to Boston that he had a fracture in his hand.  This fracture would slow him down for much of the next month as he tried to heal and get ready for the World series.  Scoring that go ahead run after missing a base showed mental toughness.  Going into the field with a broken finger showed his heart and passion and helped propel the team to victory.

#7 Justen makes the World Series all star team

Justen gets some work at practice on his defense (Photo by Ginger DeShaney)

The Boston Renegades have climbed the ranks from the doormat of the league in 2002 to one of the top teams in the league over the past three years.  No other team has done this with 100% home grown talent.  Clearly, we have gotten some great players and athletes which helps.  What people don’t see is the hardwork that our players and coaches put in from February till July every year. Justen is hands down one of the best defenders in team history.  He owns our team record for most stops in a season (77) and even made the league all- star team in 2011.  After losing the title game in 2016, Justen was convinced he could do better.  At one point in the season, he made an effort to thank Bryan Grillo for the drills that were making him better moving to his right and left.  Getting better is what the Renegades are about, always looking to improve in the finer details of the sport.

All of that paid off, sort of.  What makes this memorable was all of the hard work that went into it…both with Justen and the league.  The league has very basic scoring habits. These habits initially robbed Justen of his all star status.  For game one of the World Series against Seattle, Justen was the Designated hitter and never saw time in the field.  When it came time to name the top defenders, Justen’s name was not mentioned because the league initially counted that as a defensive game played.  I jumped into action and after about a month of talks and discussions, the league recognized Justen with an award, placing him 6th in the league with 4.17 stops per game.  To date, the league has not made any announcement about this or even added Justen’s name as an all star on the web site.  We are grateful they un-officialy added him to the team, but they need to fix this officially as well.  This moment was memorable for so many reasons and we credit the hard work of the coaching staff and the dedication and willingness for Justen to work harder even though he is at the top of the league in his craft.

to read more on this achievement, see our post from the fall here:

#6 Indy knocks out Yee

Boston would face off against the Indy Thunder in the losers bracket on Friday of the World Series as both teams who made the title game in 2016 had been knocked into the loser’s bracket. Boston was beat by colorado and Indy had been upset by San Antonio.  The loser of this game would be eliminated, so it was a huge game for both teams whom had title hopes.  In the 3rd inning of this contest, Joe Yee was playing third base as the Renegades had just let up 4 runs and Indy led 9-3.  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. Gerald Dycus then scored again on a ball hit inside 100 feet  six runs were in for Indy.  Zach Buhler then hit a bomb and things looked bad for Boston as the Indy Thunder were on a roll.

Corey White stepped up next and put the ball in play on the ground.  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.

Joe was in the trainers room and when he came out he had ice on his head and gauze shoved up his nostrils.  He had passed concussion protocol.  Though he could not breathe, he badly wanted back in the game.  His cries were ignored by the coach and his Series was claimed “over”.  We could probably count on one hand the amount of times a Renegade player has been hit in the head during a game and poor Joe had it happen twice within 5 minutes.

On Saturday night at the banquet, things got scary.  Joe became suddenly very quiet and as we were boarding our vans, his speech became slurred and he could not move.  We rushed him to the hospital and he was admitted for the night to be watched.  Coach Peg Bailey (registered nurse)  and Mike Marciello (MD) stayed with him to expedite his treatment and make sure he was ok.  He was released the next morning, right before we left the hotels for the airport.  To this day, the doctors don’t truly know why this happened.  For the 3rd time in the team’s 17 year history a player was taken to the hospital during the World Series.  Staying up all night worrying about his health and what to do if he missed the flight was a challenge and something no coach of a baseball team for the blind would ever forget.

#5 Thaxton sets league record for highest Batting Average at a World Series

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

Christian played junior college baseball and knows more about a baseball swing than anyone on the Renegade coaching staff.  That said, after the 2016 season, we spoke about one small thing to make him a better hitter for 2017.  That small thing was to trust the pitcher and stop tinkering with his mechanics in game.  The result of this was the best World Series batting Average of any player in league history.

It did not come this easy.  Thaxton got off to a slow start this year as he was not abailable for our trip to New Jersey and in Chicago, he struggled a bit against number two pitcher, Jamie Dickerson.    One funny thing was in Chicago, Eric Rodriguez of Indy batted a perfect 1.000 for the tournament going 21-21.  The entire league marveled at this feat.

Things started to gel for him in Woburn in July at the Home tournament when Cochran and he started to connect.  In fact, Thaxton got red hot.  Starting in our home tournament he was perfect and was 10-10 against the Titans, Lightning and Long Island Bombers.  That hot streak carried over to Wellington, Florida.  He scored 8 more times on the first two days of the series against Seattle, The Titans and Long Island before he struck out.  If you tack on the two runs he scored in his last two at bats vs Austin in Chicago it all added up to  20 straight plate appearances with a run scored, one shy of Rodriguez’s feat in June.

Thaxton was not done.  As the competition heated up he would put another streak together of scoring 11 straight times against Long Island, Austin and Colorado.  That included a tying his own team record of a  6 run game vs the Austin Blackhawks, one of the better defensive teams in the league.  Thaxton would then finish 7-8 vs the Indy thunder and Indy edge.  That made him 27-29 at the World Series which earned him the top hitter award award at the banquet.  I was so wrapped up in trying to determine if he set a league record, that the moment escaped me that he became the 2nd Renegade to ever earn a league MVP award. Guy Zuccarello earned this in defense in Iowa in 2012. Through my own research, I found that John Parker held the league record since 1996.  What a fun ride this was which also earned Christian an interview on a National radio show on NPR called “Its only a game”.

Read more about how he broke the record here

Hear Christian on NPR Radio tell is story

#4 Renegades throw out the first pitch at Fenway


In the winter during a bowlathon, it was suggested to us by Woburn Lion, Bryan Murphy that we should talk to David D’Arcangelo,Rob Dias’ boss at the Massachusetts Office on Disability, who was there supporting the event.  Over a short period of time, the Red Sox reached out to us and invited the team to throw out the first pitch during disability awareness day at Fenway Park.  We needed a fair way to determine who would throw out the first pitch.  The funny thing is throwing is not part of beep baseball and many of our players don’t have the most accurate arms.

After putting names into a hat, James “Thanh” Huynh was selected to throw.  There were two requirements.  The person had to want to do this and the person had to be able to prove they could throw it with some level of accuracy.   After James proved he could throw a strike (video here), he told the team he changed his mind and did not want to attend the event, so he could be with his sick fiance who was in the hospital.  Melissa Hoyt would become the “chosen one”.

Melissa Hoyt holds the ball she threw out for the first pitch at FenwayShe passed her throwing test and was ready for Fenway (video here).  It’s a very cool opportunity to be on the field at Fenway.  We had a great turn out and it was amazing to see everyone’s faces as they stood on the field before the game.  Everyone was having a blast taking in the sights, the feel, the crowd energy and the opportunity.  For me, it was such an awesome way to thank the volunteers for their hard work over the years.  Jamie Dickerson even caught our experience in a live video feed from our facebook page which was memorable and kicked off our facebook live events.

Melissa and I had a talk before the pitch.  We spoke about the fact it was better for her to take something off the throw then throw it hard.  She was more accurate this way.  Throwing is not part of beep baseball.  We drew from a hat and Bryan Grillo and Peg Bailey were chosen to assist her with the throw.  All of these people had a chance to meet Brock Holt on the field.  Brock was pretty amazing and even called Melissa by her name when he gave her the ball for a keeps sake.

It was such an honor for me to give back to the volunteers.  It was also so awesome for us to give Melissa a chance to throw the pitch.  She may not have the beepball stats but she gives it her all and she works hard.  She is an inspiration for people and her story eventually caught fire and ended up in a journal called Mitoaction which can be read here:.  Seeing this player get some love and attention from the media and throwing out the pitch may have made one of her most memorable moments of her 11 year career.  I was so happy to have helped make that happen for her.

#3 Cooperstown here we come

Being a coach of a baseball team for the blind requires a passion for helping others and a passion for baseball.  I have both of these passions.  Working with Christian has been amazing.  He has made everyone on our team better.  When we figured out he had broken the record for highest batting average in league history (modern rules), I wanted to get this some attention.  In moment #5 of this countdown, we quickly discussed his interview on NPR.  That was amazing.  I had the fortune of going to the studio with him.

Certificate from the National Baseball Hall of fame with the lifetime passes for Christian and Coach Rob

I had worked with the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 to get some Memorabilia from our league into Cooperstown.  They ended up taking the shirt of Austin Blackhawk, Brandon Cheeser along with his fielding gloves and the ball that made the final out of the World Series.  I was so excited to see our league get some recognition at this time.  I felt it was an awesome way to tell the story of our sport by showing the World Champion Austin Blackhawks.

After Thaxton broke the record, I reached out to the Hall of Fame again and asked them if they may be interested in this story.  They jumped at the opportunity and asked me to start filling out some paperwork (see our story here for more details on this wonderful accomplishment).  As a baseball fan, it was so cool to offer and have our idea accepted by the baseball hall of fame.  They took the bat he used to get this streak and all of our score cards along with a photo of him using the bat in Florida.  I had the joy and honor of delivering the bat and paperwork to Cooperstown where it will reside forever.  Yes, Christian Thaxton has memorabilia in the baseball hall of fame!  I just love that he is in there in Renegade colors representing our team.  I have heard from countless other Renegades about how cool it is to have our scoresheets there as each and every player is listed on those sheets. It makes some of our players feel like they have a small piece of Cooperstown as well.

This fall, I had the joy of giving Christian is hall of fame certificate and a lifetime pass to the hall.  I truly hope we will be able to see his bat on display in the future!

#2 The Renegades became media darlings

At the start of the season, we set a goal to get the media to give us some attention especially with the home tournament we had scheduled in june.  We felt this was a great year to get some media and we played with some different ways of pitching stories.  A small group of three of us got together to work on this plan.

We always have four goals with anything we do.  Recruit players, recruit volunteers,raise aweness and raise money to help us with travel expenses and equipment.  We planned to pitch all of this to the media.

The season started and a few things fell into our lap early.  Coach, Ben Coiner had an article written about his role on the team…with a goal of helping us recruit volunteers for our home game.  Then we got some press for Melissa Hoyt for her journey in battling mitochondrial disease.  Those articles were just the beginning

Before our home tournament, we reached out to the Watertown tab.  Scott Souza of the tab came out and wrote an awesome article about our team.  What was even better was this article was picked up by so many local papers in the wicked local circuit.  We saw variations of the article in Bedford, Maynard, Stow, Westfod and Waltham…the word was getting out!

Jonathan Choe of NBC Boston preps us for going Live on Tv

Approaching the home tournament, we knew the Boston Globe would be joining and had interest in doing a piece on the team. This was very exciting to have such a presence at our game.  This was also just the beginning

The morning of our game one of our volunteers started calling the media desks.  The result of his work was probably the best media attention the sport of beep baseball has ever seen in our 17 year existence.  Let me emphasize this, it was the best coverage the sport has ever seen, not just our city.

When game time starts, my focus is on our players and our competition.  All I wanted to do was get players playing time in these games and put players in a position to succeed.  I have to admit, it was hard to ignore what was going on around our bench. Reporters, cameras, microphones, notepads all swarming around our fields.

Thaxton is Mic’ed up while he plays

Yes, the Globe was there as expected.  What we had unexpected was every major TV station in the area and WBZ radio station came to catch the story.  Our volunteer media team was busy at work connecting players to the media, helping conduct interviews mid game.  Microphones were slotted in behind home plate to pick up the action.  Heck, Christian Thaxton even played with a microphone on his belt for a few innings.  Honestly, we could not have drew this up any better.

As the day came to the last game, the skies would open up with torrential rain.  This did not deter the media.  In fact, Guy Zuccarello was interviewed in the rain by Fox25.  NBC Boston also came back to report live from the fields.

I was so proud of our volunteer staff for pulling this together.  It did not stop here.  Scott Souza who helped start the media frenzy, did a follow up article on the squad after the games.  Again, his article was picked up by some of the wicked local press.  We even ended up on the front page of the Daily times Chronicle in Woburn!

After the World Series was over, we achieved something we had pitched for years.  Only a Game is a radio show on NPR.  We had always thought our story would be a good fit for them.  We changed our pitch to them and they loved the story line.  This sent Christian Thaxton to the studio to tell his story in national radio.

To say we got our story out this year is not doing justice to the accomplishment.  We got more media coverage in 2017 than the entire league did for the year.  We got more media coverage than our team has had in the past 16 years combined!  We achieved our goal of awareness…We are hoping it helps us pay dividends for recruiting and fundraising in the 2018 season.  I’m truly grateful for the two guys who made this happen (Bryan Grillo and a volunteer who wants to remain anonymous).

To see a more complete list of the media we got in 2017 see our media page

#1 Woburn Host Lions amaze everyone

Members of all of the teams take a picture with the Woburn Host Lions after getting their checks

Members of the six teams and Lions pose after the Woburn Host Lions gave out shirts and $1,000 checks

This year, we asked the Woburn Host lions if they would be willing to host our 3rd ever beep baseball tournament in New England history.  The kicker was we wanted to expand to 6 teams which we had never done before.  This meant more fields and more volunteers which normally means an expanded level of commitment.

Bryan Murphy and Frank DiMauro of the Lions did a lot of the early planning with us to make sure things would be good.  BJ Callahan became the point man as we got closer to make sure things went off well on game day.  They also had something cooking, other than burgers and dogs that they planned to unveil to us on game day.

As always, the Lions were in force on our big day.  They lined the fields, cooked the food, umpired the games, cleaned up the park, set up canopies, made sure we had shelter when the weather went south.  They helped get the mayor to come as well as some local woburn press.  They had T shirts made with money raised from numerous sponsors (many of them members of the Lions) for all of the teams and gave them out.  They did it all with a smile on a day that started for many near 7:00 am and lasted near 6:00 with sun and rain.

That was not enough.  They wanted to go big.  At the end of the day, with all the team’s present, they announced each team would walk away with $1,000.  They raised $6,000 to give to all of the teams who attended!  Shock was an expression on most of the player’s faces.  I am fortunate enough to have my vision.  The look on some of the out of town teams when this was announced equaled the look of  someone finding out their lottery ticket won.  The level of generosity of all the guys at the Woburn Host Lions is on another level.

I have been in this sport since 2003.  I have only seen one other city give cash to the teams. We must pay homage to the Bolingbrook Lions who have been running the best beepball tournament for years.  That tournament has been running for about 15 years and every year they give money to the 8 teams that come and play over a two day weekend.  I can honestly say that in two years of hosting a tournament, the Woburn Host Lions have proven they are amongst one of the biggest supporters of Beep baseball in the nation.

The fact woburn raised $6,000 and gave each team $1,000 was powerful.  Many of these teams spent over $2,000 to come to Boston…and they got pretty close to half their trip paid for!  The woburn Host Lions do so much for the community.  We are forever grateful for what they have done for our team and the other teams on the East Coast!

So, we have reached number one.  There was plenty of great moments we have discussed, but in my mind the support and generosity of the Woburn Host Lions stands above everything else.  The Association of Blind Citizens and the Renegades are about opportunity.  The fact we have grown this program into a winning program is a tribute to the hard work of the coaches and players. None of this is possible without support.  I am confident that for the six teams in attendance, this moment will stand out as one of their biggest fundraising moments of the year.  In the end, these funds help our athletes compete and play a sport they love.  A sport that does much more for them than just athletics.  To the guys with the Lions, thank you.  To Murph, Frank and BJ…an EXTRA THANK YOU for all the calls and prep work before the event.

We close the book on 2017…and heck its just in time..as later this week, we get to introduce our three rookies to the Renegade way and get bats in their hands.  We hope 2018 brings as good of memories that 2017 brought!  Thanks for following the countdown!

Cooperstown has come Calling for Christian Thaxton!

Cooperstown has come calling for Christian Thaxton.  Why?  He broke the league record for batting average at the World Series going 26-29 and an .897 batting average in Florida during July of 2017 (see this article for a true breakdown on that accomplishment).  His name is now going to be part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown forever!

Christian Thaxton at the plate

Thaxton awaiting a pitch – this picture was submitted to the Baseball hall of fame. Photo by Lisa Andrews

Baseball was in his blood

Christian has had baseball in his blood for most of his life.  He lived and breathed baseball growing up in Duncan, Oklahoma.  He eventually went on to play Junior College baseball.  Sadly, baseball is where he noticed his sight was deteriorating.  His favorite pitch to hit used to be the inside fastball.  As his sight was declining, he was losing this pitch on the way to home plate.  Eventually, his baseball career would come to an end as he battled through LHON (Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy).

Many hitters who love the fastball often see them self in the dirt if the opposing pitcher wants to establish the inside part of the plate.  Any good hitter must get off the ground, dust themself off and get back in the box.   Christian found himself in the dumps when he was told of his vision loss.  However, he picked himself up quickly and dusted himself off and came to Boston to prepare himself for his new life.  Baseball was not on his mind at this point, for possibly the first time in his life.  Then magic happened.

Thax discovers Beep baseball

At an event at the Carroll Center for the Blind, Christian met two Renegades in Joe Quintanilla and Kara Peters. There he learned of beep baseball and the Association of Blind Citizen’s Boston Renegades.  In less than a few weeks, he was taking his hacks at a try-out off coach, Rob Weissman.  He just loved the feel of making contact again.  He was All-in and he was soon a Boston Renegade.

Christian Thaxton at the plate

Thaxton having some fun as he get’s into the box against the Indy Edge. Photo was submitted to Cooperstown. Photo by Lisa Andrews

Thaxton had some adjustments to make as he joined the team late in the spring part of the 2015 season.  He made a trip with the team to New Jersey where he played in his first ever beep baseball tournament.  He got off to a slow start there going just 3-10.  The talent was there. The desire was there. The work ethic was there.  Adjustments just needed to be made and he needed to learn the game of beep baseball.  Things improved as he went 5-11 a few weeks later at home in Woburn.  Then he busted on to the scene at the World Series and in his first year finished 4th in the league in hitting at the Series with a .719 batting average.

In 2016, Thaxton picked up where he left off and he had a chance to play defense for the first time.  This time he was 19-25 in Beast of the East action helping his team win the title for the 6th year in a row while he played on both sides of the ball.  It got better as his clutch hitting and leadership helped the Renegades get to the championship game in 2016 where he hit .651 at the Series, finishing 4th again in the league.

Christian Thaxton at the plate

Thaxton rips a pitch foul. Photo was submitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Photo by Lisa Andrews

In the 2016 off season, as we always do on the Renegades, we talked about what the players can do better.  There is nothing we can teach Christian about his swing.  He knows more about swinging then all of the Renegades combined.  We did talk about his mental approach and how to tweak that.  The result?  He went off in 2017.  At one point in the season when things clicked, he scored in 20 consecutive plate appearances including going a perfect 10-10 in front of the hometown fans in Woburn.   At the World Series, he continued to make a name for himself in the league.  He was scorching hot and went 26-29.  Many of these runs came against some of the top defensive teams in the league such as Austin, Colorado, Indy Thunder and the Indy Edge.

It’s official, we had a new record

The league does not have an official database of statistics.  So after a few weeks of the World Series, Coach Rob did some research, made some calls and found out Thaxton had broken a record which had stood since 1996 by John Parker of the Kansas All-stars.  John Parker was kind enough to confirm he had held the record and even sent Christian a gift passing on the baton and a record that stood since Christian was about three years old.

Christian Thaxton at the plate

Christian makes contact on one of his 26 run scoring hits of the 2017 World Series. Photo by Lisa Andrews

Once this was determined, Cooperstown was called and alerted of the feat.  They were very excited to accept Memorabilia from Thaxton and the Renegades to tell the story of this accomplishment.  To prove he had the record, all the scoresheets were collected.  They also wanted his bat and a photo of him using the bat.  Coach, Lisa Andrews scoured through her photos and found a great shot of him with the bat being used during the last game of the World Series (in fact, all of the photos on this page with him hitting were submitted to the Hall).

The Bat has it’s own story

The funny thing about the bat was it was damaged.  We had actually had discussions with Easton about sending it back to them for a review.  This bat was used for less than one season and had bent.  We found the bend in our last game of the year against the Indy Edge.  the bat was warped and the cause was likely a combination of Christians bat speed against the one pound beep ball.  For Safety reasons, the bat was thrown out of the last game.  Easton did not want the bat…but Cooperstown did.

Rob donates a bat used by Christian Thaxton to Shirley Tyler of the National Baseball Hall of Fame to represent his record batting average at the World Series

At the Annual Baseball Hall of Fame Film festival, Coach Rob delivered the bat in person to the hall of fame and gave it to them.  It will forever reside in their archives.  Both Coach Rob and Christian received certificates for donating the bat, scoresheets and photo.  They also received lifetime passes to go to the baseball hall of fame.

An honor for Every Renegade

Not only is this an honor for Christian but there is great pride in this accomplishment from his team.  Pitcher, Ron Cochran and Catcher, Rob Weissman were with Christian for every pitch of the World Series. Ron had to lob in the pitch perfectly each time.  Weissman was responsible for being consistent with his target.  So many of the hitting coaches helped prepare him for the series by helping him take his hacks. Many of his teammates were just so excited for him and this accomplishment.  They were excited to have their names on the scorecards enter Cooperstown.  It goes beyond that though.  Thaxton helps many of the players on the team as he acts as a hitting coach providing feedback and drills for his teammates.  His “students” were proud of their “teacher”.

Certificate from the National Baseball Hall of fame with the lifetime passes for Christian and Coach Rob

A true success story

Thaxton went from a low of being told he would never play baseball again and that he was legally blind.  He picked himself up off the dirt, dusted him self off after being knocked down.  He got up, moved to Boston, started a new life and found the Boston Renegades.  Not only is his bat in the National Baseball Hall of fame, it’s a feat he would likely never have made if he did not have vision loss.  Thaxton is a model for how to handle adversity and concur it.  He is a Hall of Famer in so many ways!

 

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 was interviewed by NPR this summer on a show called Only a game.  You can hear that interview here:  

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

2017 NBBA World Series game summaries Day 2

The 2017 NBBA World Series game summaries Day 2 in Wellington, Florida for the Boston Renegades are below. Based on our performance on day one, the Renegades came out of the round robin as the #2 seed overall and received a bye in the first round of games.  We would play the winner of the Rochester Pioneer and Long Island Bombers.  Since we played both teams this season, the Bombers were the heavy favorite and would win that contest with a score of 8-1.

World Series heroes of game three vs Long Island - Rob Dias, Rob Thayer, Guy Zuccarello and Christian Thaxton

Rob Dias scpred 4 runs and made 2 stops on defense. Thayer scored a huge run for the team. Zuccarello made his 1st stop of the season and Thaxton scored 5 times though he ended his 20 at bat streak where he scored in 20 consecutive plate appearances

Game 3: Renegades get on track downing Long Island 20-8
Traveling all the way to Florida and two of our first three opponents are east coast rivals.  In fact, our last game was against these same Long Island Bombers in Woburn. These Bombers looked different though.  On the mound was James Scorentino and in their lineup was their two new rookies, Derrek Anderson and Mike Zampella.  Two streaks would end in this game.  We lost our first coin toss after winning 5 straight. Christian Thaxton would lead off and launch a bomb into left for a loud run.  But Joe Dejesus would lay out and stop Joe McCormick and Matt Puvogel would stop a grounder up the middle from Larry Haile.  Shawn Devenish struck out and it was a quiet first inning.  Long island started hot. Joe Dejesus lofted a high fly ball that landed in the coffin corner on the right side to lead off with a run.  Mike Zampella hit a grounder to the left side that eluded the defense and Pasquale Agnone would hit a bomb over everyone down the third baseline as long island jumped out early.  The Boston bats would wake up.  Rob Dias would hit a laser into left.  Then with one out, Thaxton, McCormick and Haile would tag the first pitch they saw with three solid shots to give Boston a 5-3 lead.  Controversy would ensue.  Shawn Devenish stood at the plate with 3 strikes on him, when the home plate umpire called a phantom strike because he felt Shawn was taking too long. Weissman and Cochran almost lost their minds.  In fact, Shawn was doing a nice thing by not being ready because a golf cart was idling right behind home plate.  Ron Cochran was visibly angered because the umpire did not even check his watch.  He simply claimed we were taking too long.  At this point, Ron called out, “that doesn’t make you a metronome”, at which point he threw his glove to the bench thinking the inning was over when it was just the second out.  Rob Dias would come up next and after being rushed, hit a weak grounder that skipped by Megan Fink and Boston led 6-3.  Weissman had been talking about how important it was for the team to get tough under adversity.  This would be a test, Defensively, it looked like they may not pass the test as Zampella hit a laser into right center for a run and Pasquale Agnone hit a slow roller up the middle of the field that Guy Zuccarello would field in time, but the ump ruled against boston again and the score was 6-5.  The team pulled together and focused. Boston would then come up and launch a hit parade in the third.  All six players would plate a run in this frame to lead off the inning with Thaxton, McCormick and Haile squaring the ball up very well.  When Justen Proctor scored the 6th run of the inning, Long Island called time out and took Matt Puvogel off the field for a back injury.  The 7th batter of the inning was Christian Thaxton and he would strike out.  This ended the longest hitting streak in Renegade history at 20 straight runs scored.  Larry Haile would be the only Renegade to score twice in the inning.  The score was now 13-5.  A 12 run rule was desired to get out of the heat, which was clearly effecting three of the Renegade players on the bench.  The Bomber’s third inning did not go well for them as they went down 1-2-3. In the 4th, Dias, Proctor, Thaxton and McCormick would score consecutive runs to start the inning and give Boston a 12 run lead at 17-5.  Since Long Island was the home team, if they scored just one run in the bottom of the frame, the game would continue.  With one out, Alex Barrera would hit a slow roller to the right side which Joe Mac could not find and that would be enough to avoid the 12 run rule.  In to the 5th, Weissman decided to empty the bench.  Luis Soto was scheduled to hit for Thaxton, but missed his chance due to proper hydration taking him away.  Thaxton would score his 5th run of the game.  Joe Yee would hit a slow roller and beat it out but the noise would come when Rob Thayer stepped up.  Weissman thought something was off, as Rob had been troubled by the heat all day.  “Tub” (Rob Thayer’s nickname) was having trouble lining up at the plate.  On the first pitch he saw, he hit a hard smash down the third baseline and hit first base.  Long Island called dead ball.  After a few minutes in deep left field, it was determined it was a run for Thayer.  Boston had scored it’s 20th run of the game.  This time, Long Island had no answer and after 5 innings the game entered the 12 run rule.  Boston would advance to the next round and at the same time deal a loss to Long Island sending them to the losers bracket to play Toronto.

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