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Touch the top with the Renegades at Central Rock Gym Saturday, April 22

Flyer with details about the Renegade rock Climbing eventHave you ever wanted to try Rock Climbing?  Have you ever wanted to support your favorite blind baseball team, the Boston Renegades?  Here is a chance to do both!  Join the Boston Renegades for an afternoon of Rock Climbing at Central Rock Gym in Watertown, Mass on Saturday April 22nd from 1:00-4:00 in the afternoon.  Central Rock Gym is partnering with the Renegades for the third year and is offering you a special price that  is lower than if you walked off the street to climb!  100% of the funds go to the Renegades and 100% of the fun goes to you!

 

Ben Coiner and Jamie Dickerson prepare Aqil Sajjad to climb the wall at Central Rock Gym in 2016

All proceeds from the event go to help fund the Renegades as they travel to the World Series in Ames Iowa to compete against the top teams of beep baseball around the country and chase a dream for a World Championship

Included in your $35 experience are:

  • Free Belaying class before the event at 12:00pm
  • Climbing Equipment
  • Food & Drink
  • Free belay for visual impaired climbers

Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette scales the wall at Central Rock Gym in 2016

Whether you are a first time climber, or have been climbing for years, support the Renegades and climb with them.

• Challenge yourself and climb with a blindfold
• Create team building experience for your family and friends
• Exercise and have fun and support a great charity!
• A chance to win fun prizes in our raffle

Pre-registration is required.  Please make sure to sign your waiver form and make your payment here:  Please use this link to sign up.

If you are interested in Volunteering to help us belay:  Please sign up here

 

 

Central Rock Gym is located at 74 Acton Street in Watertown, Mass

If you have any questions, Please contact us at bostonrenegades@gmail.com

We hope to see you at the top!!!

Bowl-a-thon fundraiser for the Renegades on January 28th

Cartoon of a logo for Bowl-a-thon

Come support the Boston Renegades by bringing your friends and family for an afternoon of bowling at our Bowl-a-thon fundraiser.  Thanks to the Woburn Host Lions, we have partnered with the Woburn Bowladrome to host the event.  Proceeds from this event will go to help support the Renegades’ expenses for the 2017 season,  during which we plan to travel to Lincroft, NJ, Bolingbrook, IL and West Palm Beach Florida.  The cost of the event is $35 per person.

Details of the Bowl-a-thon

Where:

Woburn Bowladrome located at 32 Montvale Ave, Woburn, MA  01801

When:

Saturday, January 28th from 12-2 PM.  Registration opens at 11:30am

Your $35 donation includes two frames of Candlepin Bowling, 2 slices of Pizza and a soft drink.  It is also a donation to the team to help us with our travel expenses.  We encourage people to pre-register.  Pre-registration does not cost anything, but it will help us plan for the food and help expedite your process of getting onto a lane on the day of the event.  Please bring cash or a check made out to Association of Blind Citizens.  We are unable to accept credit card payments at this time.

Pre-register for the Bowl-a-thon

You can register for the Bowl-a-thon using either of the methods listed below.   Pre-registration will really help us plan the number of lanes we need and amount of food to purchase.   Teams will be comprised of five individuals.  Team Captains, please list put your team name on the eventbrite pre-registration form.

Do you use Facebook?

We have set up a Facebook event so that you can see who is coming and you can invite people to join us. If you plan to go to the event and are on Facebook, please purchase a ticket by pre-registering on that page.  The Facebook pre-registration will take you to an event we have created on Eventbrite where you can enter your information, what team you may be bowling on, which Renegade you are supporting and truly help us plan better.  The Facebook link is here.

If you don’t use facebook, join us on Eventbrite

If you are not on Facebook, you can go straight to the Eventbrite event to register, here.

Questions?

Please contact  Joe Quintanilla (joeqman@verizon.net), Larry Haile (hailelarry1@icloud.com), or any Boston Renegades team member.

Top 10 Renegade moments of 2016

As we close the book on 2016 and welcome in a New Year, let’s pause and reflect on the Top 10 Renegades moments of 2016.  Each year this team takes steps at improving and 2016 was no exception.  On and off the field we had a lot of fun and a lot of success.  As we have done in previous years, Let’s review the top 10 moments of the season through the eyes of Coach, Rob Weissman.  We will post one post a day for the next 10-12 days…so please check back to remember some of the top moments of the year.

#10 Soto finds his Rhythm

Boston Renegades -Ben Coiner Lifts Luis Soto in the air in celebration

Ben Coiner Lifts Luis Soto into the air after he scored a pair of runs vs the NJ Titans in Long Island

Often times, the things that are memorable happen off the field.  What is great as a coach of the Boston Renegades is seeing hard work off the field pay dividends on the field. Luis Soto entered the year as a third year player.  With his blindness comes problems with his memory which is all due to how he lost his sight as a kid.  When the season started, we took a team stance of the importance on learning the mechanics of hitting.  We asked all the players to explain to the coaches the key mechanics we were focusing on.  From day one, Soto was frustrated and went into a shell.  He was frustrated he could not recall things and was concerned he would not be able to contribute.  I spent many hours on the phone with him in the spring trying to coach him up and show him that athletically he is quick and has raw power.  We talked about the fact, he was in better shape than many guys on the team.  We talked about the main thing holding him back was his confidence.  Coming into the season, soto was a career .056 hitter with just one run in 18 at-bats.  In our first tournament of the year in long island Soto had a great game against the New Jersey Titans.  In his 2nd trip to the plate he hit a ball into the ground which did not go very far but his speed beat the defense and he scored.  The team erupted.  Later, in the same game, he hit a laser into the deep outfield and cruised into the base for his first career multi run game.  He scored more runs in this game than he did in his whole career!  What was so memorable for me here as a coach was two things.  First, it was amazing to see his confidence turn so quickly in that game and to see a smile return to his face where it had not been all year.  Secondly, Lisa Andrews captured a moment on camera that I loved (see the above picture).  First year coach, Ben Coiner was so pumped for Soto that he lifted him into the air.  I was a proud coach at that moment.  Proud of Soto and super proud of the culture on this team to see a first year coach so excited at that moment.  It was priceless and a top 10 moment of my 2016 season.

 

#9 The Knock out Punch

Mac and Than at the Banquet

Thanh and Mac two days after the collision. Mac has a black eye to show for it

Not every moment we have is memorable for a good reason.  Some of the most painful things tend to stay with us, especially in sports.  That happened in our bracket game against the Indy Thunder.  In this game, we had one of the worst injuries in team history.  We entered this game undefeated on the year.  We were facing off against the only other undefeated team at the World Series.  The winner of this game went to the title game while the loser went to the semi finals.  The score was 6-4 and the Indy Thunder was leading going into the top of the 5th inning.  Gerald Dycus hit a laser into left center field that was most likely going to be a run with his blazing speed.  As the ball sailed past Third Baseman, Than Huynh, he turned his back and chased after it.  Joe McCormick was taking an angle to the ball from his left field spot and before anyone could react, the two collided in a loud bang.  Both players went down.  At first, it looked like these two tough guys would shake it off as it looked like Thanh may have gotten the worst of it since he is literally half the size of Joe McCormick.  There was no blood which was a good sign.  When we got to them, Thanh was a little shell shocked but Joe was dizzy.  As Mike Marciello assessed the situation, we saw Joe’s face begin to swell and swell quickly.  His game was over as Mike pulled him.  Thanh on the other hand remained in the game as he was playing on pure adrenaline.   A short time later, we called for an ambulance and Joe was taken to the hospital.  Thanh was later pulled from the game and was limping very badly the rest of the tournament. Thankfully, these two players would eventually heal and be ok.  In the 15 years of playing ball, this went down as the worst in-game injury, and one of the worst injuries we have seen in team history.  In the end, Joe had fractures in his face and sinus cavities.  Thanh had bone bruises to his leg and foot.  This collision changed the outlook of the World Series and helped the Thunder win this game.  Boston showed its resolve by digging deep and winning the semi final game against Colorado without these two players.  The team truly supported each other.  You can be sure that moment will be discussed and a lesson taken from it as the Renegades look to improve in 2017.

#8 Feeling after the San Antonio Game

Thaxton scored 5 times, Haile 4 times while Rob Dias had 3 runs and 3 stops and Justen Proctor made three stops to lead the Renegades over the Jets

Before the season started, we spoke about the fact it could be a very special year.  The excitement was there from pre season through the entire year. As the World Series brackets were getting created, it became apparent that we could be the recipient of some poor seeding.  Because the league had a lot of turnover, two new teams were formed with many talented veteran players.  These teams were seeded at the bottom of the brackets.  We were supposed to be playing the 19th seed as our first game at the World Series.  A game in which the strategy would have been to rest some of the starters and get some valuable playing time for the rest of the team.  Instead, we got the upstart San Antonio Jets and one of the top pitchers in the history of the sport.  We had two ways to look at this.  We could have complained at how unfair the system was or  shut up and prove to the world what we can do.  We chose the later.  As the league discussed on social media which teams were going to get beat, The consensus claimed the Jets would beat the Renegades.  What happened?  We decided this was a great opportunity.  If we lost, who cares, it had no effect on the rest of the World Series.  If we won, the confidence would help us all week.  What happened, We came out and played well.  We put up huge numbers and won 20-9.  When the game was over, I overheard a few of the Jets players and coaches saying wow, Boston is for real.  Looking around the Renegade team you could see the confidence in the squad.  It was a special feeling and we knew right there, it looked good to set the team up for an amazing run.  Playing a team who we predicted would finish top 5 in the league and beating them set this season up to be the most special in our 15 year team history.  By the way, the Jets did finish in 5th place!

#7 Eight inning win vs Philly Earns 6th Beast of East Title

Team photo of the Renegades in Philly

Team photo of the team we took to Philly which clinched the Beast of the East title

With 5 teams in the Beast of the East for the first time, the format had changed a little bit. We adjusted things so we would only play each team once and the top three teams would play each other a second time.  We entered the day 3-0 and needed to get a win against Philly.  A win here would surely secure another Beast of the East run as it would help us with many tie breakers.  One major hurdle was they recruited one of the game’s best pitchers, Johnny Walker from Colorado.  Walker has owned the Renegades through history including a walk off win in the 2015 World Series with the Colorado Storm.  To make things worse, the fields were lightning fast.  Almost like a putting green, we knew that putting a ball into play would result in a run the majority of the time.  On the bump for the Renegades was Jamie Dickerson in only his 2nd year as a pitcher.  The game started slow as both teams went scoreless.  The runs would soon come  After three innings, Boston held a 5-3 lead but in the 4th, Philly tied it at six.  Boston pulled ahead in the 5th 9-7 but could not hold the lead as Philly scored in the bottom of the 6th to tie the game and force extra innings.  Both teams scored a pair in the 7th but in the 8th inning Dickerson connected with Christian Thaxton, Rob Dias and Shawn Devenish and the defense held in the bottom of the inning as Boston held on to win 17-15.  It would be 1st of 3 times the Renegades would come back and beat a Johnny Walker team in the 2016 season.  The team was fired up.  This team did all of this while Joe McCormick went through an epc struggle with 6 strike outs in 7 trips to the plate.  He was left in the game because of his power potential and the fact he led both teams in defensive stops with 5.  This win gave the Renegade squad confidence it could play in a tight game, it could win with conributions from players up and down the line-up and it was a huge step for Jamie Dickerson as a pitcher.  We were on his back this weekend as he grows in this league.  For the first time since 2006, we went on a trip relying soley on a 2nd year pitcher.  He delivered big time.

#6 Lucas Lectures the team About Hard Work

Lucas joined the squad in 2015 and in 2016 his voice was a part of our success

Before every practice, the team huddles to discuss a few things.  Before one of our practices we had a discussion about walking the talk.  The team had been talking a lot about winning  world title.  There was a buzz from the start of the season.  I had challenged the players early in the season to see if they were truly working toward that goal.  At this point, the message was i felt they could do way more.  We went around taking turns talking about what players were doing off the field.  There was not enough work going on.  At some point during the talk, 2nd year coach Lucas Schwallie had something to say.  This 17 year old had earned the respect of many of the players with his work in the cages with them.  After being mostly quiet in his rookie campaign, Lucas felt more comfortable this year.  He had the floor and firmly said “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work”.  He then told us this was from Kevin Durant.  As a coach, I was totally fired up hearing this.  Here was a High school junior telling these guys to work harder and most importantly, they listened.  I was just loving the culture of this team.  Though Lucas did not travel with the team, he was one of the unsung heroes of the season.  He was a steady presence at practice and was our primary hitting instructor for most of the year because of his ability to be at Wednesday practices.  He watched videos, he analyzed swings and gave feedback.  But this moment stood out to me.  Not only did I love the moment, I recognized how special Lucas is and that he will go anywhere he wants to in this world as he gets ready to go to College in the fall of 2017.  We are lucky he found us one day in the streets of Boston when he asked one of our players how a blind guy with a cane was holding a bat.  Just a tremendous, accountable outgoing young man!

#5 – Put it Behind You Rook, We Need You

Shawn Devenish scoring a run in Philly by hand tagging a base. this burned him in our game against Colorado..and he learned from it

It’s the 12th game of the season.  Boston has 11 wins vs zero losses and facing the Colorado Storm.  The same team that knocked the Renegades into the losers bracket in 2015.  The team that wins this game is guaranteed a top 3 finish in the World Series and will be one of just 2 teams still alive without a loss in the winners bracket.  Colorado had just scored 2 runs to take a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the 4th inning to retake the lead in a dog fight.   Joe McCormick led off the bottom of the 4th to tie the game.  With one out, Shawn Devenish came to the plate representing the go-ahead run.  On the 3rd pitch, he grounded a ball up the middle deep into left center field and raced to third base.  It looked like a sure run.  But in beepball, nothing is certain.  Devenish raced to the base and threw his right arm out to tag it…and he missed.  As panic struck, he put the brakes on, stumbled and tried to reverse direction.  Colorado’s Rocky Zamora had the ball in the air and Shawn Devenish was out.  He was now 0-3 in this game.   Things felt worse when Guy Zuccarello struck out to end the inning and the game was now 6-6 and we failed to turn over the line up to our top hitter, Christian Thaxton.  Shawn was visibly very upset at his misfortune.  As the team took the field, I took the opportunity to make sure he was looking at things differently.  I calmly approached him (historically, not my strength), put my arm around him and we talked.  We talked about the play.  We talked about how he needed to be more aggressive at hitting the base dead on when it was harder to hear.  We talked about the wrist injury he  suffered earlier in the year which he hurt going over third base in Long Island.  We talked about mental toughness and focusing on the moment.  We then talked about how important he was to the team.  We talked about the fact his presence in the lineup was a big reason we were 11-0.  We talked about the most important play in the game being the next one.  Shawn’s body language changed.  It was a good talk, possibly one of my best ever.  With anticipation, he came to the plate in the 5th inning  and struck out on 4 pitches.  It did not phase him.  I was excited to see that.  We entered the bottom of the 6th inning down 13-9 and staring at the losers bracket.  but the Renegades don’t ever quit.  With one out, Rob Dias, Joe McCormick and Larry Haile plated runs to make it 13-12.  Shawn Devenish came to the plate representing the tying run.  With three strikes, he hit a laser into right center.  As he ran to the base, I watched closely.  He ran with confidence.  This time there would be no hand tag.  He tackled the base.  Game Tied!  He went from feeling like crap to pure joy.  His smile was as big as they get.  The team was fired up and screaming for joy.  Colorado was slumped over in the field and their body language showed that momentum had shifted.  This game was not over.  More importantly, Shawn showed everyone just how coachable he was and that he is a ball player who is able to learn from his mistakes and make his game better.

#4 The student finally beat the Teacher

JT Herzon of the Chicago Comets has been a mentor to Rob Weissman and The Renegades for years

The biggest influence on our Renegade coaching style from outside our organization has been JT Herzog of the Chicago Comets.  When I first started coaching in 2003, JT told me he would be willing to share some ideas with me.  He spent a few hours on the phone with me that off season and in-season after this.  He was always willing to share his ideas on drills, coaching, game management and ways to make the league better.  I soaked up everything he said.  Not only did I know he was a great coach, but he had won a World title in 2003 and he had built the largest program in the country.  Chicago was a model to try and achieve.  Every year, JT would always have kind words for the improvement we had made and encouragement for the players that things were moving in the right direction.  Though the team was having success, it had never beaten Chicago.  Most everyone who follows the Renegades is aware the Long Island Bombers used to own us.  They had a 7 game winning streak before we ever beat them.  What most don’t know is two teams have done more damage to us.  The Kansas All-stars and the Chicago Comets.  The Comets had beaten us 10 straight times including three times in 2013.

As we entered our game against them on Thursday morning, I felt good this game could be different.  We were clicking and confident.  This was our 11th game of the year and we were 10-0 on the season.  For the first time, I looked at their bench and they looked thin.  The days of them having 20 players were over.  The Comets won the coin toss which made me a little nervous and reminded me of a 2009 game which we lost to them in extra innings.  The game started as a dog fight.  The first two innings saw one of their best players go down with a hand injury, another one of their players almost run into our bench and a long friendly debate on how that play should have been called.  After two innings despite this drama, Chicago clung to a 5-4 lead.  Our bats woke up. Boston scored 7 runs in the 3rd and 4th and after 4 innings Boston was ahead 11-6 and the general feeling was this was going to be our game.   Then we struggled in the 5th as Thaxton struck out for the first time all game. Cochran struggled over the final two innings and we scored just once against 4 strike outs. To make things worse, Chicago is well coached and showed no quit.  They battled back.  With just one out in the 6th inning they had pulled the game to a one run deficit.   Mike “Hoodlum” McGlashon would have the first chance to tie it.  I was calmly pacing the sidelines and talking to the defense.  I spoke to them calmly and tried to keep them focused.  He grounded out to Justen Proctor.  That brought up Juan Gonzalez who had scored three times in this contest and was killing us.  I’m not going to lie.  I had a hard time watching him hit….but when contact was made..I knew it was not solid.  Rob Dias raced to make the stop and we held on to win.  The celebration on the field was like we won the Series.  It would be a huge victory this week..and this confidence would carry over in our other games.  I will never forget Guy Zuccarello telling me after this game…that he was shocked that I actually helped keep the team calm during the Comet’s comeback.  Though JT is no longer the head coach on the squad, his influence is still heavily soaked in on that team.  He approached me with a smile and a big congratulations.  We had finally beaten them.  I had finally beaten my mentor.  It only took us 14 years to make it happen!

 

Rob Dias at the plate

Rob Dias takes a hack during the early rounds of the Series. His biggest hit would come against Colorado and in just three seasons he is tied for the all-time lead in walk-off hits with 2

#3  Dias Gets His 2nd Career Walk-Off

Our first match against Colorado is going to make the top 10 list again.  This time, I need to focus on another moment.  In the 5th top moment of the 2016 season, I spoke of the talk with Shawn Devenish.  We spoke about how big it was to see him tie the game.  As the game went extra innings, we took the field for the 7th inning.  The beepball gods must have smiled on us at that moment.  Chad Sumner led off the inning with a strike out.  Then Richie Krussel who had scored 4 times in the contest also struck out.  This marked their 8th whiff of the game.  More amazingly, five of those 8 whiffs came in the last two innings.  Colorado was struggling.  Demtrious Morrow would end the inning with a ball hit up the gut of the defense.  As he lugged his pulled hamstring to the base, Guy Zuccarello made the stop.  The Renegades floated back to the bench they were so high.

Christian Thaxton had an up and down game. He had scored three huge runs but came up empty in the 5th and 6th as he was trying too hard.  Rob Dias started the game 0-4 but had scored to start the 6th inning rally.  He was so pumped to lead off this inning that he told me he was going to end this game.  One pitch and he launched it by everyone into left field.  If he could have seen that hit, he may have done some sort of bat flip and walked to the base.  This is beepball..and as we saw with Shawn, running the base can be hard at times.  Dias sped to first and hit it with ease.  Walk off!  We were off to play Indy.  We were just one of two teams still alive and undefeated.  The sense of accomplishment was amazing.  Sadly we did not have a ton of time to revel in the victory as Indy awaited us.  Seeing Rob’s confidence and watching him hit that blast was awesome.  The team mobbed him at first base.  It was just a magical day.  First holding off the Comets (that moment was #4 on my list…and Rob made the final clinching defensive stop in that match) and now he comes back with the big hit.  In just 3 years of play Rob has 2 walk-off hits (no-one in team history has more).  Dias will go down as one of the biggest clutch hitters in Renegade history.   It’s just too bad it took an encounter with Bryan Grillo in a department store before he came down.  So many lost years he could have been racking up stats and helping this ball club grow.

#2 We Made the Show and We Did It Our Way

Renegades pre-game for the National Anthem

The Renegades lined up on the 1st Base line before the title game

The night before the Championship game I took some time to reflect.  I did a lot of thinking about how we could win the title game.  But I also got caught up in thoughts about how happy I was to have made the final game.  I thought about all the hard work every past Renegade coach and player had put in.  I thought about how happy they would be for us and themselves to be involved in what we have built.  I truly felt torn about calling everyone to let them know we made it and doing what it takes to prepare to make sure the guys were ready for the big game.  Clearly, I picked the later, but I was equally as excited to make sure every person who had ever supported us or played for us knew we had achieved a goal.  For many of us, this was a goal we had never truly thought about.  Every season, I was quoted as saying, we are not going to the world series with the goal of winning a title.  Most of the league knew this when we booked flights to leave during the title game.  A few times, I even said, I would personally pay for the flights if we ever had to actually play in that title game.  It was not meant as disrespect to the league, it was a way to save the team thousands of dollars.  The first few years of this message, it was often greeted with anger from a few players whose heads were in the clouds about the true reality of how stacked things are against a home grown team.  2016 was the first year in 14 seasons, I told the team, we would take a true shot at the title if people worked hard.

Our team is unique in this league.  We do a lot of stuff differently.  We do a lot of stuff our own way.  Part of it is the culture we have built, part of it is the style we bring to our team as coaches.  At times in recent years, I had always wondered, would we ever get a shot at the big game and what would that feel like.  For me personally, getting there was confirmation that what we have built….though different is very effective.  A we stood in front of the crowd for this game, when they announced our team…I took great pride in what we had built.  My only regret at the time was we just didn’t have enough time to celebrate the success.  Since there is no history book on beep baseball, the game’s stats can be hard to come by.  I know for a fact since 2003 the Renegades were the first team to play in a title game where EVERY player and coach on the roster played 100% of their career in our uniform.  That should be a goal of more teams.  That is the definition of a team.  Though we lost the game, we got there as a team and I believe we did something that may not have happened since the 1970’s.  A rare feat…for a rare team that I was so proud of that week.  This day was validation that the hard work of every coach and player to ever wear the Renegade colors helped us grow to the team we have become today.  It was a very proud moment to be a Renegade.

#1 The Amazing Comeback

The team erupts after Christian Thaxton’s walk-off hit sends us to the title game. Coach, Jamie Dickerson is fired up!

We are playing on the championship field in the semi-finals against Colorado.  Joe McCormick is in the hospital with coach Mike Marciello and Thanh has been relegated to the bench by Mike and Yuki.  We are in the top of the 6th inning and I’m sitting on the bench with Ron looking at the situation. we are down 8-6 and they have their 6-1-2 hitters up.  If we can hold them, we still have a lot of work to do.  We have our 4-5-6 hitters coming up in the last inning and they are a combined  1-9 with 5 strike outs (though one of them was on me due to a gigantic mistake in the first inning).  Somehow we needed to shut them down…and then score just one run from the bottom of our line up to turn the line up over for Christian Thaxton.  Justen made the first defensive out, Guy made the next defensive out and then one of the best two way players, Ethan Johnston who had scored 4 straight times in this game miraculously struck out.  We were still breathing.  Larry Haile represented our best chance for a run and he went down swinging.  We had decided that we were going to hit for Joe Yee who had gone 0-3 with three strike outs.  Joe Quintanilla was the choice.  We just felt he was not going to let the moment get to him and had hopes he could get a knock to right field.  With three strikes on him he tagged a line drive up the middle and scored.  It was the only run he had scored all week.  We were pumped.  And we achieved our goal of making sure the line-up turned over, After Guy was put out on a close play, our lead-off hitter, Christian Thaxton then gave everyone more drama.  On the 6th pitch he saw, he hit a line drive and tied the game.  Our season was still alive.

In the 7th as Ron and I sat on the bench celebrating Quintanilla’s hit we again assessed the situation.  Due up for us was our 3-4-5 hitters.  We knew it would get hard if Colorado scored.  While they batted, I was looking at video and I saw why we had been struggling with Larry.  I showed Ron and we decided to try something different when we pitched to him.  Colorado plated 2 runs.  We now needed 3 runs to win in a game where we had only scored 8 runs in 6 innings.  With one out, Larry came to the plate.  The adjustment was on.  On the first pitch, he hit a pop fly to left and scored.  I was pumped that the analysis we did worked.  It gave us life!  That brought one of the heroes of the 6th inning up.  If either he or Guy could score we could get it back to Thaxton.  Again with three strikes, Quintanilla then hit a grounder up the first base line.  I watched him get out of the box with a horrific line.  He was running in fair territory.  I was just waiting for the umpire to yell “stop”….but then something amazing happened.  The first baseman ran into foul ground looking for the ball.  Q ran by him in fair territory.  The umps said nothing, there was no collision other than Q hitting the base and tying the game.  Holy crap, he tied the game on what sure looked like a play that would be called dead!  Q had scored twice in two at bats.  He had only scored three runs in the entire season before this game!  Thaxton would get his chance to be the hero with two outs and on the 5th pitch he hit a weak pop fly to the right side and jetted down the 3rd baseline and was SAFE!  We came back…again!  We made the title game!  We did it with Joe McCormick in the hospital and Thanh sidelined.  Mac was in our hearts and for the last few innings of that game we changed every player’s calling card to “Joe Mac” …”Way back”. As a way to honor our fallen teammate…and in hopes he was listening to the game on facebook. The fun thing was that no matter how little sight a player had…they all found their way to Thaxton at thirdbase and celebrated.  It was the biggest win in team history.  It was a thrill, it was a surprise, it was a total team effort and  it was an honor.  To see the moment right after Thaxton scored, Sara Cochran caught it on a facebook video here:

Thank you for taking time to read these posts and relive some of these moments with us.  These are the things that drive the passion.  These are the moments we work for.  These are the things that keep our volunteers and players coming back for more each year.  These are things that make us an Exciting team to be a part of!  To relive some of the top 10 moments of the past you can see them here dating back to the 2013 season when we started this tradition:

Smartest Player in the NBBA has to be Aqil Sajjad

Picture of Aqil Sajjad in the field with text from the show Big Bang Theory

Who is the Smartest player in the NBBA?  Well, there is no official way to measure this but Aqil Sajjad would likely be at the top of any list.  Afterall, how many NBBA players (let alone how many people) have a PHD from Harvard in Theoretical Particle Physics.  Aqil graduated from Harvard in 2014 and what he has accomplished without his sight is amazing and inspirational for many.  He has been the subject of many articles and recently was part of a podcast.  Keep in mind that Aqil has no usable sight and relies on technology and his big brain to help him with all of the equations.

Aqil On The Field

Aqil Sajjad played with the Renegades from 2009-2015.  He took the 2016 season off to get married and prepare for the next chapter in his life, but has hopes of being able to return to the team in 2017.  In his time on the field, he has been one of the most dedicated players. Through the 2016 season, he ranks 10th all-time in games played with 87.  He also owns a lifetime .282 batting average and has made 39 stops on defense.  He ranks 5th in team history in putting the ball into play at 81.3%.  Beyond the stats, we will always remember him falling asleep on a short van ride back to a hotel and then falling out of the van when the door opened.  Aqil – he is for Real!

Here are some links to get to know the Aqil Sajjad, the smartest guy in the league

2016 NBBA World Series Statistical breakdown – Strength of Schedule

SABR Cartoon

For the past two years, we have written about the NBBA World Series statistical breakdown of Strength of Schedule.  The Renegades have an analytical side.  We break down much of the game into stats.  It helps us baseline, set goals and improve.  In 2014, we brought the concept of Strength of Schedule to the forefront.  At first, a few teams thought it was non sense.  Reality is its food for thought.  As the league continues to grow, we need to help it improve.  This past season may have been one of the most exciting beepball seasons ever.  As in March madness, people fill out their brackets to see who they think will win.  How many people would have picked the Indy Thunder over the Renegades in the championship game?  Bet you didn’t have that filled out!  The more discussion and thought we put into theses things, the better our league will become.  With teamwork, communication, marketing and public relations will come great opportunity.  Let’s move this league into the next level of competitive sports and get organized.

 

2016 Roster Changes

As we did the past two years, we have tried to come up with a method to measure the strength of each team’s schedule.  This can be a telling story on how hard a World Series schedule each team has.  Currently, the way the league seeds teams is to look at their finish in the prior year’s World Series.  Keep in mind, this is all that is done to seed.   If a roster is completely overhauled – the team does not move up or down the rankings.  Here is where it gets ugly.  If a team did not attend the previous year’s series, they are seeded in the order they got their registration fee into the league.  All of these teams are placed at the bottom of the brackets with no insight into who is on those teams.  This can produce a ton of problems for teams trying to play for a seed.  We discussed that in 2015 there was 24 teams BUT only 16 teams returned from the 2014 World Series.  This meant we had 8 teams playing in the World Series who were not seeded.  This was less of an issue in 2016 because the World Series contracted a bit to 20 teams.  Though before the World Series started there was already drama in the seeding. Have a seat and grab your popcorn as we look at some of the drama…

  • #17 Indy Edge – There was a lot of drama in Indy in the off season.  The RHI E-xtreme lost their sponsor and had to rename their team.  There was some shuffling around but 6 players on the roster from 2015 returned.  With the Indy shuffle, they also picked up some players from the Indy Thunder and the Indy Knights. The Edge also picked up two players from the New Jersey Lightning  So, the NBBA seeding policy looks at this as a new team name though they had just one new player in the league.  By the time they got to the World Series, they did have a rookie pitcher (who did great)..but to start the year, they were planning to go with the Indy Knights pitcher who took the Knights to a .375 batting average in 2015.  This was no #17 seed?
  • #18 San Antonio Jets – What do you get when you take the starting pitcher off the recent two time World Champs (Kevin Sibson), surround him with two of their young starting players (Zac Arambula and Axel Cox), add in a player who had won a title for them (Richie Flores), sprinkle in two long time players with a lot of success in the league (Dave Benney and Jason Ackiss).  Then add in some of the most exicting rookies in the league with Ricky Ruzika and the Almanza cousins.  You get a powerhouse offense.  Some people were saying they would be contending for a championship…but they were seeded 18th!
  • #19 Iowa Reapers – Ok…Iowa probably deserved this seed or something close to it.  They had won two games in the 2014 World Series against the Athens Timberwolves.  They did not play in 2015’s World Series.  With the mindset of seeding new teams at the bottom of the league…this felt ok.
  • #20 Seattle South King Sluggers – This truly felt right for them.  Seattle had never played in a World Series before and this was a big step for them.  Not one of their players on the roster had ever played in a World Series.  This was the true meaning of a new team.

Every year, teams seem to shuffle their rosters and 2016 was no exception.  Here are the rosters with the most turnover

  • #1 Austin Blackhawks – Austin remained the number one seed despite losing their pitcher and two starters.  Arumbala and Cox represented 31% of the runs scored in 2015.  All of these three left for the start of the Jets.  Austin replaced Kevin with Tim Hibner at pitcher (Tim won a few World Series with the Dawgs) and many consider him one of the top pitchers in the game.  Austin also recruited Chance Cranford, a former world Champion with the Dawgs).  But to give the Blackhawks a one seed with this team may have been a stretch because they simply lacked the depth and speed they had in the past.
  • #3 Bayou City Heat – They lost a .500 hitter in John Kibodeaux and their leader in defensive stops, Greg Gontaryk.  In their place, they picked up three players from the Colorado Storm and two players from the Long Island Bombers.  This is a lot of turnover for a top team
  • #4 Colorado Storm – Colorado Entered this tournament without two starters from the previous year in Doug Biggins and Mike Malloy as well as the loss of John Parker.  This trio represented 28% of the Storm’s 2015 offense and 39% of it’s defensive stops not made by the human Vacuum, Ethan Johnston.  Colorado returned Chad Sumner which helped the cause but he could not replace the results of three players by himself.
  • #6 Indy Thunder – With the demise of the Extreme, they picked up a few of their players.  This included Clint Woodard (who was 2nd on the RHI E-xtreme in defensive stops in 2015), Kyle Lewis (who hit .,533 in limited time with the Extreme) and Ed Brown(who hit .649 and led the Knights in runs).  But they also had picked up a few very exciting rookies that had been lighting up local tournaments in Gerald Dycus and Zach Buhler.  It should also be noted that Darnell Booker took a different role which allowed one of the top pitchers in the game to pitch.  this pitcher had won a title with the Kansas All-stars and his name is Jarred Woodard.  This team looked stacked going into the Series but remained a 6 seed.  If Vegas had odds on a champion, it was a sure money bet the Thunder had the best odds.
  • #9 Lone Star Road Runners – They lost their team leader in defensive stops (Richie Flores).  Flores also gave them 12 runs of offense in 2015.  Lone star also lost PJ Navarro and Marlon Stover.  This is a whopping 57% of their offensive production from the 2015 team.  With this loss and lack of proven replacements, they should have been knocked down a few seeds.

Which teams were impacted by the improper seeding?

With the break up of the RHI E-xtreme, Taiwan not returning and Austin losing players, it felt like for the first time in years there was a lot of parity in the league.  In past years, the blatant mis-seeding had wrecked havoc on a few teams.  The Indy Thunder and Long Island Bombers were last years victim of the mis-seeding    This year in the end, the teams most impacted by the seeding were the Austin Blackhawks, the Minnesota Millers and the Southwest Slammers.

Why?  Austin had to face San Antonio as their 2nd round opponent.   If you believed they deserved the #1 seed, they should not have been playing the Jets this early in the dance.  For the first time in years, Austin found its way to the loser’s bracket on Thursday morning.  Minnesota and Southwest were two teams impacted in a different way.  Both these teams earned a two seed in their bracket based on last year’s play.  However, they both got bumped to the three seed after pool play was over because the Edge and Jets earned the two seed over them.  At face value, this seems fare…BUT.  One could argue that Minnesota and the Slammers earned their two seed more than the Lonestar Roadrunners and Atlanta Eclipse.  The end result of this mis-seeding forced both the Slammers and Millers to have to play 10 games (no other team played more than 9 games).  Their 1-2 records on day one forced them to play at 9:00am on Tuesday.  With proper seeding, this would not have happened to them.  In the end it may not have made a huge difference but it did force both these teams to play three games on three consecutive days  in a row.  This is a grueling sport to be forced to do this.  It would take its toll on most teams in this league.

Let’s get to the Strength of Schedule stats

With all of this in mind, let’s look at the Strength of Schedule of the teams that played in the 2016 World Series.  The math is simple.  What we do is look at the final ranking of each team and add those rankings up.  Then we divide that sum by the total amount of games played.  This comes up with a figure that represents the average seed of the team they faced.  So for example, The Boston Renegades played 9 games against the following teams San Antonio Jets (5) + BCS Outlaws (16) + Minnesota Millers (9) + Southwest (11) + Chicago (8)+ Colorado (3) + Indy Thunder (1) +  Colorado (3) + Indy Thunder (1).  This equates to a score of 57 and we divide that by 9 games to get 6.3.  This means the average seed of a Renegade Opponent would be ranked 6th in the league.

Please note this Strength of Schedule score does not take into account the amount of games played.  A team playing 9-10 games is forced to play 3 games on multiple days of the World Series- and this can take a huge toll on a team.  Last year, the Taiwan Home Run were so mis-seeded they had to play what was possibly a World Series record of 12 games.  This year six teams played 7 games. six teams played 8 games, six teams played 9 games and The Southwest Slammers and Minnesota Millers were forced to play 10 games each.

SOS Rank WS finish Team Games Record SOS
1 2 Boston 9 7-2 6.33
2 3 Colorado 9 6-3 6.78
3 5 San Antonio 9 5-3 7.00
4 7 Indy Edge 8 6-2 8.00
T-5th 8 Chicago 8 4-4 9.50
T-5th 1 Indy Thunder 8 8-0 9.50
7 6 Austin 9 6-3 9.67
8 12 Lone Star 8 3-5 9.75
9 4 Bayou City 9 7-2 9.89
10 13 NJ Titans 7 3-4 10.29
11 10 Atlanta 8 4-4 10.38
12 11 Southwest 10 5-5 10.50
13 9 Minnesota 10 6-4 10.80
14 16 BCS 9 2-7 10.89
15 14 Tyler 7 2-5 11.71
16 15 Arizona 9 3-6 11.89
17 17 Iowa 7 2-5 12.29
18 18 Seattle 7 1-6 12.43
19 20 Athens 7 0-7 13.71
20 19 Rochester 7 2-5 13.86

As the Renegades climb the NBBA ladder, Boston has now played the toughest schedule in two of the past three years at the World Series (8th hardest in 2015).  That says a lot for how far this team has come in its ability to manage a tournament and improve its play on the field.

Unlike last year where the quantity of games played was so varied (mostly due to the mis-seeding). Beyond the Millers and Slammers all teams played between 7-9 games.    Some key findings from looking at SOS (Strength of Schedule) include:

  • The Renegades made the title game and their only losses on the year came against the Indy Thunder.  They had quality wins over San Antonio, Chicago and Colorado, twice.
  • Colorado had a very tough road as well.  Even tougher when you recall they lost three players from their 2015 roster.  Two of their three losses came at the hands of the Renegades.  The other was on day one, to the Indy Edge.
  • Once again, the Bayou City Heat had an easy schedule. Four of their 9 games were against teams who finished 12th or higher.  They entered the dance seeded 2nd and finished in the 4 spot.  The best seed they played was Colorado and they lost to them twice.  They had “easy” wins over Iowa (17th), NJ Titans (13th) and Lone star, twice- (12th).
  • Minnesota which had a very tough year in 2015 had an easier time this year if you look strictly at strength of schedule.  Though they played 10 games, 7 of them were against opponents who finished 10th or higher.
  • The Indy Edge, which entered as a 17 seed, finished 7th but had the 4th hardest road to get there.  It would be expected their road would be hard based on the fact they were mis-seeded.  They actually beat the three seed (Colorado) in the round robin.  However, they lost to the Thunder (1) and Austin (6) – the former champs to knock them out of contention.  They were a scary team to have to face for sure.
  • The Indy Thunder had an easy first two days as their first four opponents finished 20th, 19th, 8th and 13th

In Conclusion

What makes the NBBA unique is that many games are played throughout the year.  Sadly, there is not an easy way (and cost effective way) for the league to track the progress of the teams…YET.  Maybe with experience and finances this could change in the future.  For now, we have to play with the World Series stats.  Its the only thing we have for the Beep baseball seam heads who like stats.  We come together for one glorious week to play ball.   In 2016, we saw a lot of parity in the league. To start the year, we saw two top teams break apart as Austin and RHI had some significant changes.  We also witnessed for the first time since 198o, two teams who had never been in a title game face off against each other with the Thunder beating the Renegades.  As we look toward 2017, we hope we can make some changes to the way we seed.  Heck, we can expect the Taiwan Home Run to be back..are we really going to seed them 21st again?  I hope we have learned from this and the fact it hurts other teams just as much as it hurts them.  Lets work toward seeding things correctly.  And yes, this writer has a proposal for that.  However, thats a story for another time

Jet Blue donates $1,000 to the Boston Renegades

Aaron Proctor pictured here umpiring a game against the Woburn Lions in 2011Aaron Proctor, joined the Renegades in the 2009 season and was a full time coach during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.  During that time, Aaron donated countless hours as a volunteer on and off the field.  While on the field, Aaron was generally helping us to run base running and defensive drills.  Though he did not have a baseball background he was eager to pitch in and help and was able to work the guys hard.  Off the field, Aaron was always eager to help.  He helped the team edit some coaching videos as well as put together a program that we gave out to people attending our first home tournament in 2010.  He was also a big presence in helping a few of the guys on the teams with rides to and from practice.  During this part of his life, he also started to work with Jet Blue as he had needed a break from his career in being a Pharmacist.

This season, Aaron could not participate as he wanted to because of conflicts with his work schedule.  Though he was unable to be part of the official practices, he made sure that Justen Proctor was there.  He also helped us during some side session work outs leading up to the world Series.  Sometimes, shooting video, sometimes shagging balls, or even calling in defensive drills.  Aaron was also with us for a few days of the World Series to lend a hand on the bench during games.  Aaron has hopes of being more involved with the team in the 2017 season.

For Aaron’s work with the Renegades, Jet Blue awarded him and the team a $1,000 grant through a program called JetBlue For Good.  Jet Blue for good Celebrated Philanthropy Month in November. This commemorative month recognizes philanthropy and those who actively volunteer in their various communities.  We are thankful for their contribution to our program.  For more information on their program and the programs they chose to support please go to Jet Blue for Good 

jet blue logo

Weissman interviewed by IBM about volunteerism

IBM logoIBM recently interviewed Rob Weissman, a 13 year employee of IBM about his work with the Boston Renegades.  IBM has supported the Renegades through Weissman’s involvement over the year to the tune of $18,000 in community grants.  The article was posted internal but they have cerated a PDF for us to share with our fans and can be read here:  IBM PDF

Rob Weissman catching during the title game of the 2016 World Series. Photo by John Lykowski

Rob Weissman catching during the title game of the 2016 World Series. Photo by John Lykowski

2016 NBBA All Rookie Teams

Story by Rob Weissman

One critcal part of beep baseball is the development of rookies.  We want to encourage as many new players as we can to play this game. Opportunity must be made available for them to play.  The league is very proud of its growth over the years, as it should be.  Moving the World Series around the country has helped spring up multiple teams in Georgia (Atlanta Eclipse, Athens Timberwolves, Columbus Midnight Stars).  Iowa brought us the Reapers.  Rochester, NY gave us the Pioneers.  These teams have added so much depth and helped fill out the league.  Most of these teams are filled with players who had never played the game before.  The world series brought awareness to their cities and opportunity for their visually impaired population.

The opportunity we still have as a league is growing the existing programs.  Rosters seem to change a lot.  Heck, even new teams will pop up. The things is these new teams are rarely filled with new players.  Often times, they are the same players just playing in a different jersey.  A perfect example of this is the Indy Edge which the league considers a new team.  No disrespect to the Edge, but they listed 16 players on their roster.  Two of those players came from the New Jersey Lightning.  Only one player on the roster had never appeared in an NBBA World Series, Chris Dunleavy. Is this is really a new team and is the league truly growing?

It would be great if we can track how many new players are joining each year (Steve Guerra is starting to track this…applauds to him for sure).  That metric would be telling.  How many of them are on new teams (The entire Seattle roster were rookies this year). Vs how many are on existing teams.  to grow our great sport, we need to do more in our local communities to get players involved.  This should be the goal over trying to win a ring.  A goal to win a ring by filling your roster with players that grew up in your system.

The 2016 Championship game between the Renegades and the Indy Thunder may have not been the best game ever.  Heck, Boston got 12 runned. But it was a symbol.  A symbol that a team can win without free agents.  A team can win by growing their roster.  Yes, Boston and Indy got there taking different routes.  The Thunder’s players have played on many teams including Chicago, Kansas and even other Indy teams.  It is believed that everyone on that roster comes from Indy.  Look at the Renegades.  Every player on that roster has played 100% of their games in a Renegade uniform and has grown up in the Boston system.  Each team on that field despite the slight differences mentioned above got there for one main reason.  Rookies!

As we have done in past years, we have spent this space looking at who the top rookies are.  This is not official.  There is no real award given out and our definition of a rookie is soley based on one person’s knowledge of the league.  Since we only have world series stats to look at, a rookie is merely defined as someone who Rob Weissman does not think has ever played in a World Series in previous years.  This may have a level of error in it.

As the league does, we will use the same metrics to name the all star teams.  Offense will use batting average and defense will use stops per game (a metric that is horrific in so many ways …but worse for rookies).   why is the defensive metric bad for rookies?  Its very hard to teach a rookie defense and even harder to put them up front in the defense where all the stops are made.  These defensive stats will only tell part of the story.  Each player on this list should be applauded.  Equally important, the teams who recruited them and coached them should take pride as well.
Let’s start with the defensive all stars this year.  It was hard to find players who put up big numbers here.  Again, many rookies take time before earning the trust of their team to go up front on the point to lead the defense.

All Rookie Defense Team

Defensivley all we can use to rank the players is defensive stops…and compare their stops to how many their team made.  There is a theme here in that all of these players played on teams in the 2nd half of the league.  Atlanta finished 10th and had player make the list.  This is no knock on any player, it makes a point that its very hard for a top tier team to break a rookie into the defense.  Defense takes time to learn.

Name Team Team finish Games played Stops Avg
Jesus Baeza BCS 16th 9 38 4.2
Ricky Kim Seattle 18th 7 19 2.7
Carnell Walker Atlanta 10th 8 18 2.3
Bryan Duarte Arizona 15th 9 8 .89
Brian Harrington Rochester 19th 7 5 .71
John Margist Southwest 11th 10 6 .60

Kudos to all of these players.  A special kudos to the first three players on this list because its so hard to make a lot of stops on defense as a rookie.  Defense is the hardest thing to learn

  • Baeza was the only player we played against on this list.  Jesus was responsible for 51% of the BCS Outlaws defensive stops.  Baeza made 4 stops against the Renegades which became common ground for him.  He made 4 or more stops in 6 of the 9 games he played in.  His best game was a 9 stop effort against the Bayou City Heat.  Baeza led BCS in stops in every game they played during the week.  He and Crystal Stark (from last years defensive all star rookie team) counted for 73% of the stops for BCS
  • Ricky Kim is on a team full of Rookies as this was Seattle’s first World Series ever.  Kim has played for Seattle for three years prior to this, but they had never played in an official NBBA event before against experienced teams.  Kim stopped 59% of the balls for the Seattle defense.  He made 4 stops in four of the seven games Seattle played in.  He led the team in stops in 5 of the 6 games Seattle played (they played one game in which the team never made a put out against Atlanta)
  • Carnell Walker was an exciting young prospect for the up and coming Atlanta Eclipse. Walker was 2nd on the Eclipse with 18 stops behind the vacuum of Isaiah Wilcox (who led the league with 53 stops).  Walker’s best game was against the BCS outlaws when he made 6 stops.  He also had a 3 stop game against Tyler.  Walker was one of the best two way rookies in the league as he also scored 11 times and hit .344 just missing that list on offense.
  • Bryan Duarte was aa Arizona Phenom and finished 2nd on the Phenoms with 8 stops.  His best effort was a three stop game against the Southwest Slammers in the first game of the World Series.  He had 4 games without a stop as well which goes to show you how hard it is to get rookies playing time on defense
  • Brian Harrington is 5th on this list with just 5 stops.  He was third on the Rochester Pioneer team in stops.  His best game was a 2 stop performance against the BCS Outlaws
  • John Margist makes the list with a mere 6 stops…though he led all rookies in games played with 10.  Margist did not show much defense all week until the 10th game.  In that last game he had three stops (50% of his total for the week) against the Lonestar Roadrunners.

All Rookie Offense Team

Offensively, we can look at batting average and strike outs to get a feel of how well the rooks are doing

Name Team Team Finish Runs At bats Strike outs Average
Gerald Dycus Indy 1st 23 34 3 .676
Zach Buhler Indy 1st 19 31 4 .613
John Margist Southwest 11th 22 45 13 .489
Ricky Ruzica San Antonio 5th 17 36 6 .472
Eddie Culp Iowa 17th 10 24 9 .417
Todd Paulson Minnesota 9th 9 24 9 .375
Shawn Devenish BOSTON 2nd 12 34 8 .353
  • Gerald Dycus was not only the class of the Rookies, he was one of the top hitters in the league.  Dycus finished with the third best batting average in the league during the week.  Only five players in the league scored more times than Dycus on the series.  This rookie has speed and power to all fields.  He is dangerous .  He scored a hat trick in 7 of the 8 games he played.  He will be a force in this league for years to come.  As a rookie he only struck out 9% of the time.  We played against Dycus twice and he went 6-11 against the Renegades and did not strike out.
  • Zach Buhler is the second player on this list and the second rookie from the Indy Thunder.  Its not hard to see how they won the title with these two rooks.  Buhler hit a mere .613 which was good enough for 6th in the league and only 2nd behind his teammate amongst all rookies.  Buhler is incredibly fast and has power to boot.  He is another tough out.  Buhler also had a hat trick in 5 of the 7 games he played in.  Buhler played against the Renegades and was 6-10 with just one whiff.
  • John Margist is this years Hideki Matsui.  We know he is no rookie to Beepball as he plays for the Philly Fire.  But we have to be fair and put him on this list because we believe this was his first World Series.  John had a big tournament t0 put him on the map in Chicago this year.  But The Renegades knew he could hit before that.  Only 3 players in the league had more At-bats than John.  He either led or tied the Slammers in most runs scored in a game for them in 7 of the 10 games they played. He scored three runs in a game 5 times during the week.  His strike out rate is high (29%) but keep in mind he lives in Philly and did not work with this team much during the year.  Margist was 3-4 against the Renegades with just 1 strike out.  He was responsible for 3 of the 4 runs the Slammers scored on the Renegades.
  • Ricky Ruzika should be no surprise to this list based on the fact he is young and played baseball. Ruzika has a sweet swing and some power.  He had his best game against the Austin Blackhawks when he scored four runs in a game (an unofficially may have been one of two rookies to accomplish that feat this season).  He also had a trifecta against Lonestar. Ricky played his first World Series game against the Renegades and was 2-5 with 2 strike outs.  It was the only game he struck out twice in all week.
  • Eddie Culp was a surprise to this list for sure.  Iowa was putting up some runs for the first time ever this season.  Culp was a big part of that.  Eddie represented 25% of the Reaper offense with his 10 runs as he was second on the Reapers in runs scored.  He scored a pair against Bayou City, Southwest, NJ Titans and the Rochester Pioneers.  Though we did not see him play, his stats show he was a huge help to the Reaper offense.
  • Todd Paulson scored his first career run against the Renegades and it was a nice moment for him that we enjoyed.   Paulson did not see a lot of playing time early but as his big bat got hot, he earned more playing time.  He was just 1-4 on the first day of the Series in three games.  He then had a 4 run game against Seattle(we believe he and Ruzika were the only rookie to do this in the series).  Paulson may not be the fleetest of foot but he has some good pop in his bat.
  • Yes.  Thats 6 players…..BUT, this is a Renegade web site and we are going to play homage to the 7th best batting average in the league because its our award and this rookie helped us get into the Title game.  That made three rookies in the title game!
    • Shawn Devenish.  Shawn got off to a shaky start with the Renegades this year as he sprained his wrist in the 2nd game of his career.  All year, he was bothered by a bum wrist.  When he squared up the ball…he could hit it as far if not further than any rookie on this list.  Shawn’s 12 runs were 5th most amongst all rookies in the league and he did this playing against the hardest schedule in the league (thats an article for another time).  Devenish had multi run games against San Antonio, Minnesota, Chicago and the Indy Thunder.  Those are some of the top teams in the league.  He also scored the game tying run against the Colorado Storm in the 6th inning that forced the game to go into extra innings.  Putting a rookie in that spot after he was 0-4 with a missed base was an amazing way for his him to show his mental toughness.  He deserved to be on this list…especially since we played against 5 of the 6 guys on the list and he deserves to be mentioned amongst the best rookie hitters in the league!

Shaen Devenish hitting a base is Boston's rep on the NBBA Rookie teamAfter having a Renegade Rookie lead the league in hitting the past two years (Rob Dias and Christian Thaxton), We added Shawn Devenish to the mix this year.  Though he did not lead the league, he did make a major contribution and scored the 5th most runs of any rookie at the series.  Shawn found the Renegades when he was just looking for some sports to play for the blind.  He found our web site on Google.  Shawn came out and played in a charity game with the team in September of 2015 and was super excited.  He was sold even though he was not 100% sure where he would live.  He was going to have a long commute wherever he was.  We were unsure if that commute would be a barrier to him playing.  Shawn filled out the CAF grant and we knew he was serious.  He then made the trek to almost every practice despite being nearly a 2 hour round trip ride.

Coach Weissman knew pretty quickly that we had a special player because Shawn was very coachable from the start.  His knowledge of hitting even passed some of the veterans when the players were quizzed about their mechanics as he aced his “test”.  Devenish worked hard, had fun and was a great teammate from the start even though he bolted right after each practice.  His first game, he was the lead off hitter and the rover in the defense against the New Jersey Lightning and he scored in his 2nd at-bat of the game to the delight of his teammates.  In his second game he scored again against the Long Island Bombers but also hurt his wrist going over third base.  He tried to play through it and every swing he had left him with a grimace on his face.  The medical team pulled him out and he was done playing at that time.  We determined Shawn needed to rest his wrist and we shut him down for a short time.  Every practice, we taped him up and we held our breathe to see how he would do in Philly.

He told the team he felt fine, but we taped him anyway and he again played in the first two games of the Philly tournament.  We moved him up in the line up and in his 3rd game, the first game of the Philly tourney.  The result, he scored three runs (which were critical since the game went 8 innings).  He followed that up scoring one more run against Long Island before it was decided his wrist had enough and we shut him down again.  He was sore after playing.  We had just over two weeks to get him ready for the World Series.

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Coach. Dr. Mike Marciello was one of the medical staff to keep Shawn on the field. He is shown here wrapping Shawn up before a game. Yuki, Peg and Lisa all helped him stay on the field with tape and exercises through the summer

Thankfully, we have an amazing medical team and they were able to help him strengthen the wrist and wrapped him every practice.  Shawn had no limits on him at the World Series though we kept a watchful eye on him.  We know he was never at 100% the whole season.  We found out that he loves to play and is willing to play through pain.  Shawn was a critical part of our success this season and was surely one of the most impressive offensive rookies in the game in 2016.

Introducing rookies to the game is one of the most exciting parts of being a coach.  Each year some of the most memorable moments for the Renegade coaching staff involves watching a new player succeed at the game.  We celebrate their first runs and first defensive outs.  Developing new talent is hard.  Its not only hard to teach them, its even harder to recruit players because the blind community is a small population.

Rookies are imperative to the long term success of the team.  When we looked at the roster the Renegades brought to the World Series.  39% of the roster joined the Renegades in the past three seasons.  The Renegades are one of the few teams that have this dynamic.  Not only has it helped improve our culture and our game, its has helped so many people learn and enjoy the game which leads to more opportunity for the blind community to play ball!

To see the previous NBBA All Rookie team rosters click the links below

 

 

Camp Vision visited the Renegades

Just before the 2016 World Series Camp Vision visited the Renegades for a clinic to learn about the sport.  While the team practiced about 20 kids with visual impairments from western Mass came to see what beepball and the Renegades were all about.  Coach Kara Peters joined former players, JJ Ward, Joe Buizon, Aqil Sajjad and Ben Rubenstein in a demonstration of the game.  We taught them a little about running bases, defense and hitting.  The kids also got a chance to see the team practice at full speed.  Its always exciting for our players to give back to the blind community.  Maybe some day, one of these kids becomes a Renegade or a player in our league.  Either way, they have had a chance to experience playing the sport and we hope this helps see what is possible

Kara and Ben teach a camper how to set up at the plate

Kara and Ben teach a camper how to set up at the plate

A camper shows no fear going after the base

A camper shows no fear going after the base

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JJ gives words of wisdom to a young camper before he hits

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Aqil demonstrates how we play defense to the campers

A camper fields a ball while Ben and JJ look on and provide feedback/encouragement

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A group shot of the Renegades (JJ Ward, Aqil Sajjad, Kara Peters, Ben Rubenstein and Joe Buizon) with Camp Vision campers and volunteers

Watch the 2016 NBBA Championship Game

The Boston Renegades had a dream run in 2016 making the NBBA 2016 Championship game.  The team challenged for the national championship as it roared through the World Series brackets to make the Championship game.  Heading into this game the Renegades were 13-1 on the season.  Their only loss was to the hands of the Indy Thunder who beat them the previous day by the score of 14-8.  This would be the first ever appearance in a title game for both the Indy Thunder and the Boston Renegades.

The Thunder came into this game 7-0 for the week while Boston was 7-1.  The story for the Renegades heading into this game was the loss of Joe McCormick.  Joe, an emotional leader and all around star player was lost for the season in the first match up against the Thunder.  He was lost in a collision on defense which left him in the hospital with multiple fractures in his face.  Could the Renegades pick him up?

The NBBA 2016 Championship game streamed live on the internet and a few weeks after the series was over the video was compiled and a high quality broadcast was put on Vimeo.  Many thanks to Graham Mathenia for his hard work with all of the video shooting and compiling.  Also many thanks to Kevin Sibson and Dave Benney for providing a fun and educational broadcast of the game as these two played Play by play and color commentators.

 

If you want to read along with the coaches thoughts on NBBA 2016 Championship game, here is a read of how Coach Weissman viewed the game that may be a good spoiler for this video.  Either way, the Renegades were excited to make this game.  Boston made this game doing it differently than any other team in the league.  A unique team that works hard to stay together as a unit to support each other on and off the field.

Coach Weissman started off the day making sure the players really took some time to enjoy themselves.  Relish in the fact the team was playing in the title game and was one of two teams left standing during the 2016 World Series.  It was something to be proud of.  Much like when the Red Sox won in 2004.  That team won it for every other player who had ever played for the Club that went 86 years without a championship.  We needed to recognize what we had accomplished since the team started playing competitively in 2002.  Weissman wanted the players to take some time and enjoy the atmosphere.  However, when the opening ceremonies were over, it was just another game.

The Indy Thunder brought with them an army.  It’s hard to say exactly how many people they brought but they listed 45 players and volunteers in the program.  Boston is one of the biggest programs in the world, but we could not afford to bring our entire staff (nor did they have the time off to spend a week in Iowa).  As the Indy Thunder was announced the fans began to cheer…but somewhere around their 20th person, they stopped paying attention….and by the time the Renegades were announced, people just wanted to watch the game.  There was only a smattering of applause for the Renegades as they took the line and the league struggled to pronounce many of the names in the process.  The coin toss was held and this time the Renegades would lose and would be the visiting team.  On the bench for the Renegades was Joe McCormick who missed the fireworks after being taken to the hospital in an ambulance the day before.  Our medical staff cleared Than Hunyh to play if and only if he would allow them to tape his leg.  And tape him they did.  Mike Marciello made a brace out of tape that allowed Thanh to move around without a limp and he would be part of this game despite the pain he was in.  On the other side of the ball, Miguel Tello was taking reps for the Thunder in pre game workouts and he would also be in the starting line-up as he was recovering from an injury that pulled him from the previous match up. Kyle Lewis was not starting for the Thunder but rumor was he was available if he was needed.

Though the Thunder was the faster team and a healthier team and had much greater depth than the Renegades.  They were also less experienced in big games and had never played in front of large crowds (other than their own army).  The key would be to get off to a good start and make sure the defense was playing on all cylinders.  Larry Haile was going to have to play a lot of defense in this game and we were going to try and Keep Thanh Huynh on the field as much as we could but rotating a Joe in (either Quintanilla or Yee) to see who could get hot at the plate.  For Indy, the key player missing in their line up was Kyle Lewis.  He made a huge stop on the Renegades in deep center field and also would end up on the all-offensive all-star team.  In his place was Tobey Gregory.  Could Tobey step up?

Christian Thaxton led off the game with newfound confidence as he scored just one time in the previous game.  In Thaxton style, he worked the count to 4 strikes with three foul balls and then hit a pop fly to the right side to start the game off. Miguel Tello had no chance and Boston was on the board.  Rob Dias hammered the 2nd pitch down the left field line to the “oohs” and “aaahs” of the crowd but it was foul.  He then fisted a weak pop up into the center field that Tello scampered over to put him down.  Larry Haile then hit a fly ball about 115 feet into left field that Eric Rodriguez got down to early on for the Gades second run of the inning.  Devenish would strike out (after hitting the pitcher) and Quintanilla would hit a pop fly that Tello would grab to end the frame.  Boston felt good about its start…but had hoped for just one more run to turn the line up over.

In the bottom of the first inning, it was time to see if the Renegade defense was going to be able to pull it together.  With leadoff hitter, Eric Rodriguez striking out, the Renegades felt good.  Gerald Dycus hit a hard grounder up the middle.  Zuccarello ran by the ball.  Larry Haile dove at it and as the ball rolled by Haile’s arms Gerald, Dycus hit the base.  The ball was dead and it would have to be done over.  He then hit the ball much better into right center where Thaxton dove at it…but it deflected off him for the first run of the Thunders game.  This brought Tobey Gregory to the plate.  He did not play in their first game yesterday.  Boston had scouting on Gregory and moved Thaxton from deep right center to the first base side.  Like the scouting read, Gregory hit a room service ball 100 feet right at Thaxton.  Christian went down and the ball landed 2 inches short of hitting him right in the gut.  Thaxton could not hear it or bring it into his body in time and Gregory scored on a Christmas present.  Zach Buhler then hit a ball up the right middle of the field past Guy Zuccarello into the hands of a diving Thaxton who made this play diving to his right for the 2nd out of the inning.  The Thunder had tied the score.  Tyler Rodriguez worked a full count then hit a fly ball to the left side which Justen Proctor charged.  As he ran in on the ball, he heard it go over his head.  As he put the breaks on he slipped and fell backwards.  Rodriguez had given the Thunder the lead with Proctor on his ass.  Rodenbeck drilled the first pitch he saw on a line to the third base side where Thanh Hunyh laid out and made a nice play to end the inning.

Heading into the second, both teams were settling into the match.  Guy Zuccarello, who is one of the hardest players in team history to strike out, led off with a 4-pitch whiff to start the inning.  Thaxton stepped to the plate and on the first pitch, hit a high fly up the middle of the field that was about 80 feet out, but when the ball landed, it had some spin and Eric Rodriguez was unable to make a play to catch the speed of Thaxton.  Rob Dias then blasted a shot into left field that left the fans “oooo’ing” for a run.  Larry Haile had a chance to keep the foot on the pedal but his swing path changed slightly and he and his battery could not connect as he whiffed on 4 straight pitches for the 2nd out of the inning.  This brought, the rookie, Devenish to the plate.  On the first pitch, he blasted a shot into left field that Adam Rodenbeck chased after.  The ball hugged the third baseline but well after the base it rolled into foul territory making it near impossible for Rodenbeck to get.  Joe Yee would ground out on a ball up the middle to Rodriguez to end a big inning for Boston and the Gades would lead 5-3.

The bottom of the second would be a tough inning for the Renegades as Christmas would come early for the Thunder.  Eric Rodriguez would not be denied this time as he lofted a fly ball into right center toward Thaxton.  The ball bounced in front of him but Thaxton was unable to keep it in front of him and Erod scored.  Gerald Dycus then hit a bomb into right center, again toward Thaxton, who made a diving stab but the ball bounced by him to tie the game.  This brought Gregory to the plate. This time he hit a grounder to Justen Proctor.  Justen went down to his knees (Weissman sat on the bench with a pained expression watching this) but misread the ball as it rolled by him.  Joe Yee was slow to the ground (and in his mind, he had better of heard Weissman yelling “where is the Jabba”) and it rolled under him and Gregory had two Christmas presents on the day.  This should have been the first out of the inning.  Zach Buhler then hit a ground ball up the middle.  Proctor never laid out for the ball.  Zuccarello slid to his right and dove on the ball.  When Guy could get his hands on the ball, Buhler was at the base.  Another gift from Boston.  At this time, Bryan Grillo had enough and called a time out for the defense.  This may have been Grillo’s 2nd time-out he had ever called.  He wanted to make sure everyone was all right.  The score was 7-5 Indy with no outs…but Boston had gift-wrapped the last two balls and this is something you can’t do with a team like the Thunder at the plate.  Tyler Rodriguez was next and he hit a high fly down the third baseline.  Proctor hustled over and touched the ball when it was in foul territory killing the play.  He made a great effort and actually picked it up before the speedy Tyler reached the base, but nonetheless, it was foul.  Rodriguez would then strike out.  Adam Rodenbeck stepped into the box.  The Renegades slid Thaxton over to protect the line and right on queue, Rodenbeck hit it down the line and it looked like an out.  However, Thaxton was unaware of how far he was from the line.  He laid out too early and the ball squirted by him for a run to turn the lineup over to the top again.  Rodriguez stepped to the plate and fouled it off down each line.  He then hit a nice line drive to the third baseman, Joe Yee.  Yee was late to the ground and it slid by him out to Larry Haile.  Haile looked awkward trying to go to the ground  Haile almost looked like a chicken who had been shot and was running away and Rodriguez had his 2nd run of the inning.  The game was getting away from the Renegades.  To this point, Indy had struck out twice, scored 9 times and Boston had only made 2 defensive stops.  Just when it looked like it could go on forever, Dycus hit a weak grounder to the right side.  Dias scrambled in and picked it up as Dycus missed the base, then Dycus dropped to give push ups.  He was likely out despite the missed base.  Tobey Gregory, then hit a grounder to the left side.  Proctor laid out but hit the ground to early and the ball rolled by his feet.  This time Joe Yee picked it up for the out.  After two innings Boston was now down 9-5.  Sadly, the two gifts to Gregory and Buhler led to 4 runs for Indy, which was the difference in this game.

Boston never quits.  leading off the third was Zuccarello.  He lofted a fly ball up the left side that was about 95 feet and made it past the short man.  Tyler Rodriguez slid over to pick up the ball but it kicked off his shins just as Guy was taking a bad line to third.  That bad line cost a run (he was already wearing the pink blindfold for a missed base on the previous day).  Thaxton, then hit a weak grounder down the third baseline that rolled about 90 feet, it was a foot race between him and Rodriguez.  Thaxton won.  It was now 9-6.  Rob Dias then lifted a lazy fly ball up the middle.  Miguel Tello raced to the middle of the field, taking an angle backwards and on two hops picked up the ball, right before Dias reached the base for a great defensive play.  Larry Haile then laced a hard grounder down the right side.  At about 110 feet, Tobey Gregory laid out and the ball hit him right in the box for another splendid defensive play and the Boston comeback was squandered.  Indy’s defense was looking much better on this day.  After three, Boston needed a quick defensive inning.

The Christmas gifts of the first and second innings that led to 5 runs for Indy were the difference.  The Indy defense was playing much better than the Renegades.  This was the main difference.  Woodard was getting extra time and was finding a groove.  The third inning had a different feel all together.  Zach Buhler led off with a fly ball up the middle. Zuccarello went back on the ball, circled it and got in front of it.  Just as he got to the ball, Buhler scored on a bang-bang play.  It would have nabbed many hitters but Buhler is fast and tough to get when the ball is in the air out at 115 feet.  Tyler Rodriguez hit a fly ball to left.  Thanh Hunyh over ran the ball, but Larry Haile was backing him up.  Haile hit the ground and as he was getting his mitts on the ball, the speedy Rodriguez slapped the base for another Thunder run on a bang-bang play.  This brought up Rodenbeck who hit another hard grounder to Thaxton.  Christian went down too early and the ball went by him.  Thunder 12 and Boston 6 with no outs.  Eric Rodriguez then lofted a fly ball to Proctor.  A foot race ensued and just before Proctor got the ball off the ground, Eric was in.  The third Indy run on a split second play due to the speed of the Thunder.  The speedy Dycus then hit a fly ball to right center.  Thaxton had one chance on it, but when he dove, he laid out on his stomach and the ball rolled over his legs.  A nice play to get there but a lack of fundamentals here made it impossible to get Dycus.  Tobey Gregory then hit a grounder up the middle.  Zuccarello over ran it but Haile was there to back him up.  Again, as Haile gets his hands on the ball, Gregory scores on another bang-bang play.  Boston was showing no quit, but the Thunder were blazing the lines this inning as they were like sharks smelling blood. Buhler came to the plate for the 2nd time in the inning after the Thunder had scored 6 straight runs.  He hit a hard grounder to the left side.  Proctor was late to the ground, But Thanh Hunyh was there to make the bleeding stop for Boston.  When the play was made, it was found Thanh made the out on a broken ball that had no beep.  The second time Boston made a play on a dead ball this week.  Tyler Rodriguez then hit a high fly ball to the center of the field.  Dias and Proctor converged and Dias was able to pick it up on two bounces for the second straight stop. Adam Rodenbeck was next and on the first pitch hit a line drive to left center toward Larry Haile, but Haile over ran it for the 7th run of the Indy inning.  Rodriguez then hit his 2nd pitch on the ground to the left side which Thanh Hunyh dove to his right for and as he dove to the ground his momentum took him onto his back and the ball hit him near his hip for the out.  Boston escaped the inning and after three it was 16-6.  Boston did not give up but this inning was the inning of the bang-bang play and the speed of the Thunder was making it very hard for Boston.

Boston was down 10 and staring at a possible 12 run rule.  They needed a few runs from the bottom half of the order which was just 1-6 on the day.  Shawn Devenish would lead off. He had that only run.  For Indy, they started the inning by bringing Ed Brown in on defense to replace Tyler Rodriguez.  Devenish hit the first pitch he saw off the bottom of his bat up the left center side of the field, which was where Tyler had been playing. This time rookie Zach Buhler was there.  It did not matter, Tyler’s brother Eric made a nice play angling back on the ball to stop it.  Joe Quintanilla came back in to pinch hit for Thanh.  Quintanilla hit a line drive up the middle of the field, but the ball did not travel far and Eric had time to run back and easily get in front of it as he made the play around 80 feet.  This brought Zuccarello up for the last chance for the bottom half of the order to try and score a run.  First pitch swinging, he and Cochran hit a weak grounder to the right.  Miguel Tello was there in a split second to pick up the ball and Boston threw up a donut for the first time and Boston was now done 16-6 after three innings.  All Indy needed to do was score two runs in the bottom of the inning, they could force the 12 run rule. This is the beep baseball equivalent to a mercy rule.

Indy would send up their 2-3-4 hitters.  Gerald Dycus led off the inning crushing a 130-foot fly ball down the first baseline but it was just foul.  In the end it was a long strike.  His next pitch was a ball off the bottom of his bat and Dias lined it up easily for the first out and three of the last four hitters had been stopped by the Boston defense.  Tobey Gregory was next and was 3-4 on the day with two gift-wrapped runs.  He fouled a few balls off to the right side.  He then lifted a high fly ball to the center of the field at about 55 feet.  Dias backed up on it and Proctor waited for Dias.  Neither could get it in time and Gregory scored another run on a ball that could have been an out.  Zach Buhler then lifted a high fly ball to about 115 feet of the middle of the field.  Zuccarello made a dive at it…but the ball went over him and Buhler scored easily to force the 12 run rule.  Since Indy was the home team, they would finish the inning.  Ed Brown in his first at bat lifted a short pop fly to the center of the field and on a hop, Justen Proctor finally made his first stop of the game for the 2nd out.  Rodenbeck would then hit the second pitch of his at-bat on the ground up the middle.  Guy Zuccarello was on it and it rolled right into his chest.

For Boston, they would need to score 12 runs to force Indy to have to come to the plate.  Boston had just 6 outs remaining in its season.  Leading off for the Renegades was Christian Thaxton. In a nice move by Indy, they inserted Clint Woodard into the game.  Clint had played in 5 title games but had never won.  Thaxton crushed the first pitch to left field that looked like it could be close to a home run but when the play was over, the ball was dead.  Thaxton knocked the beep out of the ball.  By rule, Thaxton would have to do it again.  He then hit a hard grounder to Eric Rodriguez, which bounced off him, but he was able to pick it up for the out. In essence Thaxton was punished for hitting the first ball too well.  Rob Dias was 1-2 on the day hit the 2nd pitch down the left side.  Rodriguez angled back toward the line and got in front of it for the 2nd out of the 5th.  Larry Haile then hit a 43 footer and Eric Rodriguez easily beat Larry and made the out before Larry could get half way down the line.  Three more outs would remain for the Renegades.

In the 6th, the bottom half of the renegade line-up would remain.  Devenish hit a hard grounder up the middle.  Eric Rodriguez angled to his left and made a diving stop of the ball that hit him in the armpit.  Rodriguez had made 4 stops in a row.  Off the bench for Boston, would come Tim Syphers.  Syphers lifted a fly ball foul down the third base line on the 2nd pitch.  He then hit an 80-foot grounder up the middle where Rodriguez and Tello converged as Tello picked it up easily.  To this point Eric Rodriguez would have 7 stops and Tello 5.  Hot Tub Thayer would be the last Renegade up and he would go down swinging to end the game and the dream for Boston.  The Thunder were the better team on this day.  Though the Boston defense gave away too many runs, which led to longer innings, the power and speed of the Thunder was too tough.  Boston was unable to get enough of it hits by the two front men of Indy.  The Thunder celebrated their first ever championship.  As they danced on the field, Weissman pulled his team off the bench and asked them to listen to Indy celebrate and implored them to keep their heads up and use the moment to fuel their off season work outs.  Boston did not have enough on this day but had its best ever season in team history finishing second in the league with a 13-2 record and their only two losses falling to the champion.  It was an amazing season. We walked off the field with our heads held high and our sights set on returning to this game in the future