San Diego football fans embrace our Blue Bombers!! Thanks to Ed Tait of the Bombers for sharing this story.

                            Scott Mortland and his son Gregory in their new team colours.

APRIL 14, 2017

PLEDGING ALLEGIANCE TO A NEW TEAM

Scott Mortland has a compelling story to tell. It’s about a fan’s heartbreak after a beloved franchise is yanked from his hometown.

It’s about a bond between a father and a son.

And it’s about how a diehard San Diego Chargers fan from Carlsbad, California has now sworn his allegiance to a new football team in a far, far away city.

And that would be the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“It’s a little random, this story, but I think it’s going to lead to something special, especially for my son,” began Mortland in a chat with bluebombers.com this week. “And I think the Bombers are going to be the next chapter. A great chapter.”

Mortland is 57 and retired now after being a part owner of a small software company. He and his wife are the proud parents of four adopted children, the youngest of whom is 21-year-old Gregory, who is intellectually disabled.

A diehard sports fan, Mortland has had season tickets to the San Diego Padres and Chargers and has been a loyal supporter of all sports teams related to the city, including the American Hockey League’s Gulls and even the El Paso Chihuahuas – the Padres Triple-A affiliate in west Texas.

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He began to take Gregory to games about seven years ago and the impact on his son, who is non-verbal but very social, was instant.

“The rest is history,” Mortland said. “We love the Padres. He enjoyed going to the Chargers games. I’ll be honest, he doesn’t get sports at all, but he loves being out in the open air and he loves meeting people. He just enjoys the experience. He has had a blast at the hockey games, too.”

And then came the news on January 12th of this year that the Chargers – after 56 years in San Diego – were packing up and moving to Los Angeles. Mortland, like many other fans who grew up cheering for icons like Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner and LaDainian Tomlinson, was crushed.

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“It was devastating news,” Mortland conceded. “I consider myself a native San Diegan after I moved here from Arizona when I was nine years old. This became my home. I grew up here and all these teams are mine.

“The NFL is just a juggernaut. ‘Big business’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. In the last six months, three franchises have left their cities (St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland). What’s hard for fans in San Diego is, yeah, they’re moving up the freeway and you can still follow them, but L.A. already has a football team. The Rams originated there for almost 30 years before moving to St. Louis for 20 years and then coming back. They’ve got two baseball teams, two hockey teams, two basketball teams, two colleges (USC and UCLA) who are revered and are treated as if they were professional. All the press here says that this franchise (the L.A. Chargers) are going to get lost with all those other teams that have existing fan bases.

“Now, when you grew up here in the 70s and 80s you are definitely made to feel you are the stepbrother to the L.A. teams,” Mortland added. “So, the fact they moved there is problematic for me. If they had moved to Vegas or San Antonio or some other city in the States I probably would have maintained my fanship.

“But going to L.A. and the way it was done… it just broke my heart.”

The day the Chargers made their exit from San Diego, Mortland gathered up all his team’s gear – his son’s comforter, hats, T-shirts, etc – and neatly placed them on his driveway for donation to Goodwill. A Facebook post notified all his friends he was done with the Chargers.

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And then he began searching for a new club.

That brings us to how he came to find the Blue Bombers…

“And when I went on the website and saw how involved the team was in the community with ‘Harris’ Heroes’ to ‘Medlocks Kicks for Kids’ to the connection with the indigenous community… I realize all teams do that, but it began with the bolt for me.”

“I looked at the roster and saw that Chris Randle went to Utah State – my niece went there on a basketball scholarship, and Tristan Okpalaugo went to Fresno State with Derek Carr and was nominated for the Bulsworth Trophy (awarded annually to the top player who began his career as a walk-on).

“As I was looking more and more into it I just thought, ‘This is my team.’”

Mortland reached out to Allan Hnatiuk in the Bomber Store and had his new gear shipped to him in California. And it wasn’t long after he spoke to Fan Services Manager Carol Barrott that Mortland decided he and his son Gregory absolutely had to get to Winnipeg for a game.

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“We’ll be there for the July 27th game against Montreal,” he said. “We’re thinking of going up to a game in B.C., too, because it’s close and we may go to another in Hamilton because I have friends in Toronto. We were told about the zoo and that it’s a great city. We can’t wait.

“The only thing I want to make sure of is that Gregory gets a photo taken with Buzz and Boomer.”

The Haberdashery Guys & Gals…Hats & Accessories; by Chuck Duboff

There’s a very, very cool shop in the heart of the Exchange District…a hat emporium, with the funkiest, classiest chapeaus you will find in the city.

I’ll be interviewing the owner, Luke Nolan, next week to get the story behind this great shop.  In the meantime, FYI:

Phone:     204-256-3758

Email:       thehab@mts.net

Hours:      11-6 Monday to Saturday

Address:   84 Albert Street

Winnipeg’s Exchange District

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Check out this great shop and say hi to Luke Nolan while you are there.

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That gentleman is the proprietor, Luke Nolan.

Saturday Morning Random Thoughts; by Chuck Duboff

VACATION TRAVEL BEST OF THE MIDWEST

“Is this heaven, no it’s Iowa.”  Field of Dreams.

© Chuck Duboff

  • It’s March, the month in which Manitobans can experience all four seasons in one day!!!
  • Big shout out to the Winnipeg Jets for the support they gave to Tyler Myers and his family during a very difficult time.  If you haven’t seen this video, take a few minutes…it’s a reminder of what is important in life:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKAzXhxc1zk
  • Moments of clarity are fleeting; yesterday afternoon and evening provided me with a peacefulness and understanding rarely felt; it was tangible and quite a new feeling.  Grateful for those moments.
  • Though the Jets won’t make the playoffs this season, wins at any time of the year are part of the growth process…I would like to see Roslavic and Conner called up for the balance of the season in order to get a feel for hockey at the next level.Ros
  • So Brian Pallister takes two month winter holidays to Costa Rica; took a 20% pay increase last year…and now he is gutting and slashing every program in Manitoba. Hope everybody is enjoying the PST going down from 8% to 7%!!!  NOT!!
  • What a very special night it was on Thursday evening watching the Jets game with Laine and Ben; non stop commentary, hi jinks, cuddling and just having a great time!!  #grateful.

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    This picture was from the spring the Jets came back to Wpg; 6 years ago and still having fun together!!

  • Watching the World Baseball Classic, it sure makes you appreciate the talent of the players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuala and Puerto Rico; those lineups are power laden…would be interesting to see what would happen if the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers of the USA decided to compete.  I think it would take the tournament to another level!!
  • Celebrating mom’s 92nd birthday tomorrow…her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will all be here!!
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  • This brief moment of clarity, in a life so filled with angst and confusion, has given an incredible insight into so much of what I have to be grateful for; though always aware of the good fortune I have in life…there is a real sense today of what all that means.
  • In all my years of being a New York Yankees fan, I have never seen them have a good spring training…I would attribute that to George Steinbrenner and his boys signing star players in their 30’s who take their time to get ready for the season and the Yankees ending up with a poor spring training record.  I looked at the exhibition game standing yesterday, and low and behold there are the Yankees with the best record.  With so many young kids in the lineup trying to prove themselves: Sanchez, Byrd, Judge, etc, suddenly the Yankees are winning games and shining a light on a bright future.  If the Yankees had more depth at starting pitching, they might compete this upcoming season!!
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  • Once again, I love the team that Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney is putting together; I’ve mentioned this a few times, but with each season, it seems like Rick is signing higher calibre players.  I’m sure his connections to organizations have increased dramatically over the years and he is able to sign the type of player that he is looking for…training camp can’t start soon enough!!
  • Doofus head meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel; she with a PHD in Physics, he just finishing reading Dick and Jane; the misogynistic, serial liar makes more unfounded claims about wiretapping, but ups it one more by claiming that Merkel was also wiretapped; she looks at the media with a “who the fuck is this bozo?” kinda look:
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  • There is always one benefit to the Jets not making the playoffs; I budget money all season for possible playoff tickets.  Once it became clear that playoffs were not in the picture for this spring…I went ahead and booked “my cabin” in Falcon lake for five days in May…filled with such gratitude that I am in a position to take another holiday this spring:

Q&A with Winnipeg Goldeyes Ace, Kevin McGovern…by Chuck Duboff

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© Chuck Duboff
***Editor’s note: I e-mail the players with a set of questions, and they return their answers to me via e-mail; I prefer to leave their answers as they were written and not do any correcting.  I find that much more authentic.
Writing a regular blog on the Winnipeg Goldeyes last season, afforded me the opportunity to get to know many players, managers, groundskeepers and  broadcasters whom I normally wouldn’t have had the chance to meet.
One of the players I got to know quite well was Kevin McGovern.  He went out of his way to sit down for interviews with me and also got to know my grandchildren quite well; a really classy young man, who also happened to be the Ace of the Goldeyes pitching staff.  It really was a joy watching this crafty lefty nibble the outside corners and lead the staff to the 2016 American Association Championship.
 I asked Goldeyes GM, Andrew Collier for his thoughts on McGovern:

“He’s a competitor.  He has a drive to win as much as any player we’ve ever had.  I was very happy for him that he was able to pitch in game five last year and get the job done.”

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Kevin resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the offseason, so I sent him a set of questions via e-mail…the following are his responses.  I hope you enjoy getting to know Kevin a little better…though he does say he would cheer for the Flyers when the Jets visit…lol.
Kevin McGovern:
I hope Winnipeg settles down for once on the weather…its almost 16 Celsius here, so I’m sure you can relate to my issue of wearing short sleeves or not each day. lol.
Chuck: Congratulations on the Championship season..can you share with the fans your thoughts on the teams’ playoff run?
Kevin: Thank you so much on all of your support all year.  It was an amazing season, and the run we had was intense but I never had more fun on a baseball field.  The whole team had an amazing attitude and focus that I wanted to match every start.  I learned a lot from them in those last few months and I’m proud to share that trophy with them and with the fans of Winnipeg for staying behind us the entire time.
Chuck:  What’s it like being on the mound, knowing the championship is on the line? What was it like the night you won the Championship?
Kevin: It was a very exciting feeling being able to get the ball for the final game.  I definitely felt nerves, but I was more excited to take on the pressure so I can be out there with my teammates.  When Winston threw that last strike, it felt like more of a relief from all of the focus and pressure that we all endured over the entire season.  I called my parents, and brother and sister to share my excitement with them.  It was great to see the team relax all night and acknowledge to each other how much this season meant to us.
Chuck:  Can you share with the fans your baseball background…from a little guy to your professional career?
Kevin: I grew up learning as much as I can from my dad, and watching my older brother Sean play ball.  I always wanted to beat him in everything, but he had 6 years on me, so I learned how to loses but never stopped trying.  I played in the frontier league and the Can Am league for a very short time.  I had to play in the Pecos league to actually get a real shot as a starter, and only made 50 dollars a week in the process. Lincoln noticed me and gave me one shot at a start.  After doing well, I played out two years there until Winnipeg was interested this year.
Chuck:  What are you doing in Philadelphia during the off-season?

Kevin: In Philly, I work as an instructor in a indoor baseball facility.  I primarily work with the youngest kids who want to learn about baseball for the first time.  I prefer it because they love the game so much and I love working with younger kids.  I want them to have just as much fun as they learn as much as they can in the process.  They keep me passionate about the game of baseball even in my 20 years playing the game.

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Chuck: So as I write these questions to you Kevin, it’s a balmy -45 wind chill in Winnipeg; you coming up here for a visit?
Kevin:  I love the city of Winnipeg…But only if I can feel my face at the same time, so I might pass haha
Chuck:  Who was your favourite ballplayer when you were growing up?
Kevin:  Jim Thome was my favourite player growing up…always cared about the fans of Philly an respected the game of baseball
Chuck: Why have you decided to come back to Winnipeg for another season?
Kevin: I came back to Winnipeg because the front office always treated me with respect and went out of there way to take care of me and my teammates.  I know they wanted me back and I am excited to go out and play hard for the city that supported me all year.
Chuck:  Any interesting baseball stories you are able to share with the fans?
Kevin:  My career has had amazing moments that I have been apart of.  But I remember my dad traveling with me for 2 weeks after my first professional team picked me up.  I didn’t know what to expect but I wasn’t on my own.  My dad stayed out there with me in a motel 6 for two weeks until I finally got into my first game.  It mattered a lot for me as a rookie that didn’t know the first thing about professional baseball
Chuck:  If you weren’t playing ball, what would you be doing?
Kevin: I would be teaching in some capacity, or at least working with kids.  I’m lucky to be able to combined my knowledge and the fun of baseball into teaching young kid
Chuck:  Favourite restaurants in Winnipeg?
Kevin:  Tim Horton’s is my favourite thing when I cross the border, but Stella’s is my favourite place to eat when I’m in Winnipeg
Chuck:  Any special message you’d like to send to the Winnipeg Goldeyes fans?
Kevin:  To the fans: Thank you so much for being so welcoming and supportive to me.  It is stressful to make starts.  Although seeing the fans and hearing the support as I warm up or walk off the field makes it the most fun I’ve ever had on a mound.  Shaw park feels like a second home to me because of you, and I believe my success last year had a lot to do with it.  I can’t wait to see you all again and have just as much fun as I did last year.   
Chuck: So, when the Winnipeg Jets are in Phili, who are you cheering for: Flyers or Jets?
Kevin:  Orange and black till the day I kick the bucket…but, i’ll root for the Jets if you play the Penguins.
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Kevin with Ben and Laine.

Winnipeg Goldeyes giving back to the community; helping out at, and making a generous donation to, Winnipeg Harvest.

© Chuck Duboff

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I have always said that the Winnipeg Goldeyes Baseball Club is much more than just baseball.  For those of us who love the game, it doesn’t get much better than a hot summer night watching the boys play ball.

But, the Goldeyes are much more than that.  They are players stopping and chatting with fans, visiting libraries and the children’s hospital during the season; they are the Goldeyes Field of Dreams foundation which raises funds in a myriad of ways throughout the season and then makes very generous donations to worthwhile causes in our city.

There is so much more that can be said about the Goldeyes organization; they may not be the biggest sports team in the city, but they may have the biggest heart.

The Goldeyes helped out at Winnipeg Harvest yesterday and made a very generous donation to those who would benefit from the services which Harvest offers.

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My thoughts on the Jets…after two games; by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

Some random thoughts on the Winnipeg Jets, two games into the season.

  • Jets are going to miss Bryan Little big time; a week to week injury.
  • It is time to move on from Thorburn, Stuart and Burmi; they contribute nothing and only slow down the development of the kids.
  • Both Hellebucyk and Hutchinson looked shaky in their first starts.
  • Ehlers and Laine have amazing shots…but given that they are both kids, it’ll take time for them to find that open space on the ice.
    NHL: NOV 16 Jets at Blues
  • Wheeler is a great team leader…and pretty talented.
  • I like the speed that Brandon Tanuv brings to the team.
  • Adam Lowrey needs to be more consistent; he can be such a force when he’s on his game.
  • Big week ahead for the Jets: Boston tonight, Leafs Wednesday and then a weekend of celebration with the Heritage Classic.
  • With all the offensive talent on this team, I cannot understand all the power play struggles.
  • I get why guys like Petan, Copp, Roslovic, de Leo, etc are down with the Moose…development; but, right now, with the loss of Little, we need to call up a couple of them to fill the void…Thorburn is skating in sand, while Burmi is nothing more than a good penalty killer.
  • Patience, patience, patience.
  • Really impressed with Josh Morrisey…fortunate to have him playing so well, given the big hole left by the absence of Trouba.
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  • Yo Jacob: “Winnipeg is one of my all time favourite cities” Don Cherry.  Great to see Grapes give it to Trouba…the kid is wasting away his career.  I would make him sit and then sit some more…and then, oh yeah, sit some more.  You’ve got zero leverage Troubs…time to get rid of that agent of yours.
  • Great to see Sportsnet really hyping Wednesday night’s game…featuring the top two draft picks…Austin Matthews and Patrick Laine
  • Love watching Mark Scheifele grow into a great player; thinking back to “the little boy” he was when he was first drafted…he is now a man playing with confidence and force.
  • Drew Stafford has to pick up his game…a lot!!
  • Going to be a crazy exciting week of Winnipeg Jets hockey…the present and the past, all coming together.

Celebrate Good Times…players, management and fans…the 2016 Goldeyes Championship Party…in pix!! by Chuck Duboff

What a great night of celebrating the Winnipeg Goldeyes 2016 Championship.  I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we enjoyed the party at Shaw Park!!

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Casio Grider celebrating with the fans!!!

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With Goldeyes Ace, Kevin McGovern

 

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How about this for an 8th Birthday for Big Ben!!  Here he is with his favourite player. Kevin McGovern.

 

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Reggie Abercrombie with the Mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman.

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A very happy, content, GM of the Winnipeg Goldeyes, Andrew Collier, enjoying the celebration.

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With Goldeyes hitting coach, Tom Vaeth.

 

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With Goldeyes fans Brenda and Jenn and the American Association Championship Trophy.

 

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Does life get any better than this?  With my two angels, Laine and Ben…and the American Association Championship Trophy!!

 

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“Hey Little Man, Get Over Here!!”…Reggie shouted to me…I can’t say enough about this gentleman.  Still a great ballplayer…but, what a class act.  Thanks for everything Reggie.

 

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Team owner, Sam Katz, thanking his ballplayers, staff and all the fans.  Thank you Sam for this amazing baseball organization.

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Kevin McGovern and the Goldeyes #1 Fan, Mickey Steen

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These three great men helped to make this the Baseball Summer of my Life!!  That’s Casio Grider on the far left, Kevin McGovern and play by play man, Steve Schuster.  Thank you to all of you.  Watching you guys was a joy for a die hard baseball fan.

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Isn’t this what baseball is all about?  Kevin looks like one of the kids!!  Thanks for everything this summer Kevin!!!  I hope some Major League Organization took notice…if not, see you next spring.

Winnipeg Goldeyes…the 2016 American Association Champions!!! by Chuck Duboff

Wes Darvill: “This season reminded me of why I fell in love with this game at 12 years old, just the pure enjoyment of playing. It’s been so much fun!!”
TONIGHT, 6 PM, SHAW PARK, COME CELEBRATE THE GOLDEYES CHAMPIONSHIP!!

Chuck's Eclectic Blog.

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© Chuck Duboff

“This is one hell of a team,” Reggie Abercrombie said during the post-game celebrations. “I can’t ask for a better team. These guys don’t ever give up. Everybody on the bench to everybody in the game – these guys never gave up. Today, we showed it. These boys deserve this thing. They deserve everything they can get right now.”

After playing 110 games, the Winnipeg Goldeyes are the 2016 American Association Champions.  A dominating 11-4 victory over the Wichita Wingnuts gave the Goldeyes a 3-2 series win and the third championship in Winnipeg Goldeyes history.

I’ve been watching Goldeyes baseball since owner Sam Katz brought professional baseball back to Winnipeg in 1994.  In all those years, I have never seen a more complete team, a team with no egos, a team that never quits.  Over and over the word resiliency is used to describe this group of…

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Winnipeg Goldeyes…the 2016 American Association Champions!!! by Chuck Duboff

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© Chuck Duboff

“This is one hell of a team,” Reggie Abercrombie said during the post-game celebrations. “I can’t ask for a better team. These guys don’t ever give up. Everybody on the bench to everybody in the game – these guys never gave up. Today, we showed it. These boys deserve this thing. They deserve everything they can get right now.”

After playing 110 games, the Winnipeg Goldeyes are the 2016 American Association Champions.  A dominating 11-4 victory over the Wichita Wingnuts gave the Goldeyes a 3-2 series win and the third championship in Winnipeg Goldeyes history.

I’ve been watching Goldeyes baseball since owner Sam Katz brought professional baseball back to Winnipeg in 1994.  In all those years, I have never seen a more complete team, a team with no egos, a team that never quits.  Over and over the word resiliency is used to describe this group of ballplayers; said Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney:  “I couldn’t be more proud,” he said. “It’s hard for me to say this, but this is my favourite Goldeyes team of all time, just because of the adversity they overcame. We were 21-22 at one point, and it wasn’t looking good, but we stayed true to one another and kept playing hard every day.” I’ve said it several times in the past few weeks, this really is the most fun I’ve had watching Goldeyes baseball.

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Every body contributed to the Goldeyes big 11-4 win last night.  Starting pitcher, Kevin McGovern, on just three days rest, was at his absolute best, giving the Goldeyes 6 1/3 innings of great pitching.  Said his brother Nicholas who was listening in Philadelphia: “we’re screaming here.”  Adam Heisler hit the first pitch of the game for a double and the table setters continued to get the job done.  In post game excitement, Steve Heisler, from down in Mobile, Alabama said: “We’re so proud of you Adam!!”
From Washington DC, Reggie’s friend Nakia Washington shouted: “Reggie is on fire!!”  Casio Grider had three hits,  Carlton Tanabe chipped in with two, Eric Eadington and Winston Abreau continued to shine in the bullpen…you could just go on and on with this team.

There was also some 35 year old kid who had a pretty good game!!!  What more can be said about Reggie Abercrombie and what he means to this team.  A lot of time has been spent this past summer talking about Reggie’s leadership, Reggie’s community involvement, his mentoring the young players, his signing autographs non-stop…”I’ll put this team on my back if I have to carry them to the championship”  Well Reggie you sure did that.  That was one of the Great Hitting performances in a championship game.  Reggie had two, 2 run Home Runs, a double and a walk, driving in 7 runs!!!  It’s been one of the great thrills of my 50 plus years of watching baseball to watch the hustle, the leadership, the talent of Reggie Abercrombie.  Reggie represents Everything that is good about baseball.  On a personal note, thank you Reggie for all the times you took to stop by and say hi to all the fans down in Sections E and F; for all the times you signed autographs and took pictures with my grandkids, my mom and myself.  Early in the season you lit up the eyes of a 7 year old boy by giving him one of your bats.  I hope you know the positive impact you are making on so many lives!!  Thank you sir.

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Reggie Abercrombie and GM Andrew Collier

A very special shout out has to go to the skipper, Rick Forney, for the team he put together this season.  Following the 2015 season, Rick was faced with some tough decisions; but, he stated quite clearly that he knew the team had to get younger, faster and more athletic…so some difficult player moves were made and Rick went about putting together a dynamic team.  Behind the plate Rick brought in some youth, with Tanabe and Murphy doing a great job; speed and athleticism was evident around the infield with Darvill, Gonzalez and Grider playing great defence all season.  The outfield of Cabrera, Abercrombie and Romanski was outstanding…while the speed of guys like Adam Heisler and Grider and Gonzalez made a huge difference to the offence.  The outstanding hitting of David Rohm, a .360 hitter during the season, was huge to the Goldeyes success.  Probably the biggest move of the season was getting Willie Cabrera; he seemed to be the final piece to the puzzle…and what I really liked was that when Rick got Cabrerra, he stuck with his everyday players.  In the past Rick may have released a position player so as to have a deeper bullpen…but, by keeping his position players in tact, Rick had a deeper bench, which allowed players to get rest!!  To me that was the turning point of the season!!!  Way to go Rick…great job of both putting this team together and managing.  Said Forney in the middle of the celebration:  “They never gave up, and they believed in themselves; It showed in the way they played. There was no panicking. They just came out and played. They’re willing to lay it on the line for each other, and this was the result.  One of the biggest secrets to our team is not only that we’re good baseball players – that’s obvious – but they genuinely love each other. They play hard for one another, and it was just one hell of a season.” “I couldn’t be more proud,” he said. “

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Goldeyes GM Andrew Collier celebrating with the boys!!

In the middle of the summer the Goldeyes held their annual on field autograph and picture day; the kids were having pictures taken and I went up to Tom Vaeth and I said: “Tom, I really, really like this team.” to which Tom replied, with a smile: “We’ll see”…well Tom, congratulations to you and Rick, this really was a very, very special team.

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A few weeks ago the Goldeyes family was hit with some tough news,  Tara Maslowky, the Goldeyes effervescent  community relations director, lost her dad Jerry to cancer.  The support she received from the team was typical of the way everybody had each others back on this team.  With the letters JM on the pitching mound throughout the playoff run, it almost seemed like Jerry was willing this team through the playoffs and to the championship.  I know this morning that Jerry is not only proud of the Goldeyes, but he couldn’t be prouder of his daughter Tara…who showed so much courage in the face of adversity.  The whole Goldeyes family loves you and is so very proud of you.

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The Winnipeg Goldeyes, the 2016 American Association Champions.  This truly was the baseball summer of my lifetime.  A very special thank you to both Goldeyes GM Andrew Collier and play by play man Steve Schuster…you made so many dreams come true for me this season…it was a baseball summer I’ll never forget!!  From writing the Goldeyes blogs every day, to spending time in the broadcast booth with Steve Schuster, to watching batting practice, to interviewing players and managers…my bucket list is overflowing with check marks!!  Thank you so very much!!

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Listen for an announcement about a celebration at Shaw Park!!!

Darvill’s HUGE 2 out, 2 run double in the top of the 9th leads Goldeyes to victory; 1 up in Wild Card; by Mickey Steen & Chuck Duboff

 

FISH WIN!!!  FISH WIN!!!  FISH WIN!!

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© the Ol’ Professor, Mickey Steen & Chuck Duboff

My oh! my what an exciting finish to the ball game this evening in St. Paul. The way the game was going, I was thinking my game report would start with, too much Hamburger for the Goldeyes batters;  trailing 2 to 0 going into the top of 8, Adam Heisler came through with a clutch hit to score David Rohm to cut the lead to 2 to 1. St. Paul stayed with Hamburger and in the top of the 9th. Wes Darvill came through with a double to score Abercrombie & Rohm for a 3 – 2 Goldeye lead. This was all made possible by an aggressive slide by Josh Romanski at 2nd. base to break up a possible double play.

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Wes Darvill, Captain Canada, with the big 2out, 2 run double in the top of the 9th.  Photo Credit, Dan LeMoal


On the mound Kevin McGovern got tagged for a 2 run homer off the bat of David Bergin early, but he was rock solid from there on, going 6 innings, 2 runs 6 hits 2 walks and 7 K’s. He was followed by Cameron McVey, 1 inning no runs or hits and 1 K.
Victor Capellan went 1/3 of an inning giving up 2 walks & 1 K. bringing Eric Eadington into the game and he held the Saints scoreless;, the bottom of 9 brought on Winston Abreu and their first batter hit a bad hop that got past Darvill to put the tying run on 2nd. but a put out to go along with 2 big strike outs and the game was over,

 

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LET’S FILL THE BALLPARK FRIDAY NIGHT TO CHEER ON THE FISH TO THE PLAYOFFS!


Thrilling comeback by the Goldeye players in a never say die situation, huge, huge win. As Steve Shuster said at the conclusion of the game, “such a critical win by the Goldeyes.”
I’m still pumped. GO GOLDEYES!

No matter what happens tonight in St. Paul in game three of this series, the Goldeyes will come back home to Winnipeg in a playoff position with only 4 games left in the season.  The players love it when it’s a full ball park…let’s fill the park and give the River City 9 all the support we can give them!!!

Tickets can be purchased at: goldeyes.com, TicketMaster, 204-982-2273

Jacob Trouba; to sign or not to sign, that is the question!! by Geoff Brookes

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© Geoff Brookes

With trepidation, I am writing a blog on one of the most talked about Winnipeg Jets stories this summer – when and how will Jacob Trouba sign a new contract with the Winnipeg Jets?

I’m a reluctant blogger on this topic because there is so very little to report, factually speaking. On the other hand, there are as many opinions as there are Jets fans:

  • Trouba doesn’t like Winnipeg, or the Jets. Or, Trouba loves Winnipeg, and loves the Jets.
  • Trouba has issues off the ice. Or, Trouba is a model for the Jets’ successful youth movement.
  • Trouba’s agent is being unrealistic. Or, Trouba’s agent is just negotiating the best deal possible.
  • Trouba will sign a bridge deal. Trouba will only sign a long-term deal.
  • Trouba doesn’t want to play on left defense (his “off” side). Or, Trouba doesn’t mind playing his “off” side.
  • Trouba isn’t happy with his current usage with the Jets. Or…. (Well maybe this one can’t be debated, realistically)!

The point is that there are so very few facts that can be cited on these questions – except the last one. (Hands up everyone who would rather play defence with Mark Stuart instead of Dustin Byfuglien. Yeah, I didn’t think so.)

Many of the conversations advocating or predicting a two year bridge deal focus on Trouba’s need to prove himself. However, several credible articles have asserted that Trouba’s performance has improved over the past several years, especially when advanced stats are used, analyzing his “puck possession”, his relative lack of power play time, and his dearth of ice time with top Winnipeg Jets teammates.

But even if it’s correct to say that Trouba is still on probation, what can we say about the Winnipeg Jets, and their usage of Trouba? If you were a top defence prospect, and you were rarely removed from the hit-seeking pylon that wears number 5, wouldn’t you have a complaint? Wouldn’t you want more ice time with the better defensemen and forwards that wear the “polar night” blue jerseys …. that more accurately reflect the name “Jets”?

If anyone is on trial here (in terms of proving something over the next two years), it is as much the Winnipeg Jets as it is Jacob Trouba.

The ideal scenario, monetarily, for Jacob Trouba, would be to have two or more terrific years of hockey, playing alongside some top defensemen and forwards, on a young team that is going to be a contender for the Stanley Cup for the foreseeable future. This would maximize his salary on his *next* contract (i.e. the one *after* the contract he is about to sign). Trouba is currently a restricted free agent, not eligible for arbitration, which limits his bargaining position and alternatives.

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Being a young player on the rise, his salary expectations should be increasing with each passing year. Locking in for seven or eight years at too low a salary will actually lose money for him, if he actually becomes the star that his agent says he is. And the Jets won’t pay anywhere near the amounts that were rumoured last winter, at this moment in time. Comparable longer term deals are coming in at around $5 million per year (see Seth Jones and Olli Matta). $7 million on a long-term deal is not in the cards at the present time. $6 million is just as unlikely. And from the Jets’ perspective, why “lock him up” for anything less than 6 years? A mid-term contract (3 to 5 years) doesn’t make sense for the Jets, because Trouba would be able to “elect” to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of such a contract.

Many fans have said that a bridge contract would likely be the prelude to a departure by Trouba. But if the Jets are on probation, then what about the potential for a “virtuous circle”? What if the team’s youth ignites the Jets’ rise in the NHL power rankings, and playoff fortunes? What if Trouba shines in the forefront of the team’s ascent? What if the Jets become the next hockey dynasty, with the talented Trouba leading a new generation of Jets, on a top pairing with the venerable veteran “Big Buff”?

In Winnipeg, we are thrilled at the idea that the Jets could be a Stanley Cup champion (as The Hockey News provocatively predicted in one of their recent cover stories). But we are terribly reticent in applying that same confidence to the potential outcome of a two year bridge deal with Jacob Trouba.

ChevyI know that hockey insiders have recently stated that a bridge deal might not be accepted by Trouba and his agent. In my purely speculative opinion, this is still part of the negotiations – which might be in the early stages, even at this late date. Both Trouba’s agent and the Jets have to satisfy themselves whether or not they can negotiate a long-term deal. Neither side should want to give up on that possibility too early in the process.

But the logical reality is that both parties have a lot to prove to their dance partner. That proof resides entirely in the future. It will be a bridge deal, because neither side is ready for a long-term deal at this point.

It says here that Trouba and the Jets have a long, mutually rewarding future ahead of them – and many deep playoff runs with Trouba on the top defense pairing and power play unit.

Make it so.

 

 

Postscript –

I want to thank all of the people that took the time to provide me with their thoughtful opinions. Your contributions were all very helpful. It was only after I read through all of your insightful comments that my own thoughts coalesced around the theme that I have presented in this blog. I received too many comments to list them all with this article, but I want to thank you all.

 

 

“From the booth”…random thoughts on the Goldeyes big 9-6 win over Fargo; by Chuck Duboff

 

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The view from the booth during the Anthems.

 

© Chuck Duboff

– Nice to see both papers with reporters at tonight’s game.
– Fargo comes out in grey pants, with black and red tops.  Sorry, the traditionalist in me loves seeing an all grey road uniform.
– Fans sure love their pre-game food at Shaw Park: hot dogs, pizza,thai noodles, beer, nachos, fries, perogies…nothing like being at the ballpark.
– PA Announcer, Ron Arnst, announces: “No smoking or vaping in Shaw Park.”.  Must be 2016.
– Let’s play ball; big game for the Goldeyes with Laredo and Sioux City breathing down their neck.
– Great catch by Casio Grider in the top of the first to save a hit.  Goldeyes MVP??
– Ethan Carnes sharp in the top of the first.
– My walk up song, if I was hitting, would be LA Woman by the Doors.
– Big getting Cabrera back tonight for the Goldeyes; gets a single bottom of 1.
– Goldeyes leave the bases loaded bottom of 1.
– Weird seeing Josh Mazola in a Fargo uniform.
– Carnes has a solid 2nd inning.
– Love the view from up here in the booth.

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Photo credit: Dan LeMoal

– Great bunt by Grider in the bottom of the 2nd.  He does it all…
– Goldeyes scratch out a run in the 2nd and take a 1-0 lead.
– Fargo catcher Charlie Valerio, hits a 2 run, wind aided, bomb to left field.  2-1 Fargo.
– Nice visit with Sam Katz, as he stops by the booth to say hi.  Sure is looking good “well, it’s been two years since city hall Chuck.”  lol
– Willie Cabrera with his second hit of the game.
– David Rohm gets an RBI single and the game is tied at 2; thats 66 RBI’s for Rohm.
– Wes Darvill with an RBI double making it 3-2; the kid is just a solid baseball player.
– Ethan Carnes with a clean top of the 4th; giving the Goldeyes a solid performance.
– Reggie Abercrombie, named finalist for the AA Man of the year, hits a 2 run HR, to the fans chanting “Reggie, Reggie”  That puts Reggie at 18 HRs, tied for 2nd in the league.

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Reggie celebrating with his teammates.

– David Rohm follows that up with another 2 run tater, 7-2 Goldeyes; Rohm now has 68 RBI’s, 2nd in the league.
– The air is starting to get crisp at night…playoffs must be just around the corner.
– Dust up in the Fargo dugout after the Goldeyes big inning; starting pitcher Tyler Alexander tosses his glove and gets into it with his pitching coach; Josh Mazola separates the two of them.  Yup, it’s been a long season and now the RedHawks are in the midst of a tight playoff race.
– Great diving catch by Darvill, scrambles to the bag and saves a run.
– Man is Grider fast; scores on a shallow fly ball by Cabrera and makes the score 8-3.
– Victor Capellan take over for the Goldeyes in the top of the 6th and promptly gives up a 2 run HR to KD Kang, making the score 8-5.
– Watching Dancing Gabe leading the fans in cheers just brings a smile!!
– Goldeyes need some insurance runs…Fargo has too many dangerous bats.
– Eric Eadington takes over in the 7th inning; is that too early to bring him in?
– Grider with a big HR to give the Goldeyes a 9-5 lead.
– Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney had mentioned in the off season and the start of the year that he wanted a more athletic team; he sure found the right players for that…lots of speed on the base paths this season.
– Eadington looks dominant out there.
– David Rohm with 3 big hits tonight.
– I don’t know how play by play man Steve Schuster does it; Fargo brought in a rookie to pitch late in the game; Steve starts rattling off stats about the kid and explains how he went to Pace University in New York City…and then he adds; they are the Setters…the Pace University Setters.  Maybe Steve is just a savant when it comes to baseball facts and stats.  Love sitting beside him and listening to him call a game.
– MLB veteran pitcher, Winston Abreu comes in to pitch the 9th inning.  Now in his 21st season of professional ball, 39 year old Abreu is still clocking 93 on the radar gun and his slider looks as nasty as ever.
– Lots of fans still here cheering on the Goldeyes in the top of 9th.
– Abreu closes out the 9th and the Goldeyes get a Big 9-6 win, moving them 2 1/2 ahead of Laredo Lemurs.
– Nice to hear Forney in the post game show tell Steve Schuster: “I’m proud of my guys,”
– That’s a big, big win for the Fish; game four of this series is Thursday night…get out and enjoy some great baseball.

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David Rohm (12) and his team mates celebrating after the game.   Photo credit: Dan LeMoal.

– Get tickets for Goldeyes games at: TicketMaster, goldeyes.com, 204-982-2273

 

 

Goldeyes lose tough one in 10; Kevin McGovern, a proud Phili boy, talks about the tough road he’s traveled. By Chuck Duboff

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6,591 fans enjoyed another beautiful night at Shaw Park, as the Goldeyes lost a tough one in  10 innings against Fargo.

© Chuck Duboff

The Winnipeg Goldeyes once again struggled on their return home from a road trip.  Despite a great starting pitching performance by Edwin Carl, 10 strike outs in 6 1/3 innings, the Goldeyes bats were once again quiet.  Tied at 2-2 heading into the 10th, Dustin Geiger hit a two-out, three-run home run to left field for Fargo.  With the loss, the Goldeyes lead in the wild card race fell to just 3 games over the Laredo Lemurs who didn’t play last night

Goldeyes Ace, Kevin McGovern, sits down for a pre-game chat.

“I love pitching in front of these fans.  I remember pitching for Lincoln and coming in here for a playoff series and thinking, this is a whole different type of atmosphere; your fans are fanatical and I love it.”

One of the things you notice when you sit down and talk with Kevin McGovern is how happy, how appreciative he is for the opportunity he has to pitch professionally.  Coming out of Division II school, Philadelphia University, Kevin had a few organizations chat with him, but nothing materialized.  At that time he thought any hopes of a professional career were over.  He played summer ball with his college buddies, which included 7 no-hitters; not knowing much about Independent baseball, Kevin got an opportunity in the Frontier League.  After the Frontier League, Kevin was kind of lost about the future…so, he ventured down to the Pecos League, in the Southwest of the US.  There’s an old baseball expression “I’d play this game for free”, well, in the Pecos League, the players are paid $7 a day.  “I was living on one Subway sandwich a day.”

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Kevin signing autographs for some young fans.

Kevin realized that if he was ever going to get out of that League, he had to get somebody to notice him  He threw 90 strikeouts in 40 innings and the Lincoln Salt Dogs took notice. On two days rest Kevin threw a 2 hit shut out and it looked like a new baseball home had been found. In the offseason however , McGovern was traded to Winnipeg in exchange for long time Goldeyes favourite Luis Alen.

Kevin talked a lot about the camaraderie on this Goldeyes team.  “Guys always have each others back, if I leave a mess out there, I know someone will pick me up.”  I asked Kevin, after 3 great starts out of his last 4, if the thought crosses his mind about being picked  up by an organization: “I used to have those thoughts, nerves start popping up and you change how you throw…instead, with the Goldeyes, its all about the playoff push, the guys congratulating me today for player of the week and my next start against Sioux City, that’s all I’m focused on.”

Kevin proudly talks about his dad back home in Phili listening to all his games.  “I know he’s really proud of me and we got a chance to chat during that long bus trip home.  He knows I’m really focused and locked into my next start here.  I’d really like to talk to them more, but I don’t want anything to distract right now.”

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Photo credit: Dan LeMoal

We chatted a little about fanatical Phili fans;  Kevin’s a die-hard Eagles fan, so I had to ask him if he’s one of the infamous fans who boos Santa Claus.  “Nah, that’s not my part of the stadium, that’s a different part, I’m not one of those rowdy guys.”  He loves his Flyers, growing up with players like Jeremy Roenick, and is very aware of the loud and exciting atmosphere at Jets games.  “Your fans are awesome.”

From Philadelphia University, to the Frontier League, to the Pecos League and now in the American Association, Kevin continues to follow his baseball dream.  At each stop along the way, it seems like his talent, ability and focus continue to improve; here’s hoping he can lead the Goldeyes to another American Association championship.

McGovern tosses another gem, Goldeyes only 3 1/2 games out of first!! by Chuck Duboff

 

© Chuck Duboff

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Goldeyes Ace, Kevin McGovern, goes 7 strong innings, allowing only 1 hit, striking out 8.

Two weeks left in the American Association schedule.  After a 6-1 win over Sioux City Explorers on Sunday afternoon, the Winnipeg Goldeyes are now 51-35 and only 3 1/2 games behind the reeling St. Paul Saints.

The Goldeyes once again got an outstanding pitching performance from the staff ace, Kevin McGovern. who threw 7 great innings on only 3 days rest.  McGovern allowed only 1 hit and had 8 strike outs, solidifying his position as the Goldeyes #1 starter!!   The bullpen did its job and shut the door on the Explorers; Victor Capellan and Eric Eadington are setting up nicely as the Goldeyes 8th and 9th inning closers!!

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Winnipeg Goldeyes Casio Grider led the team with 3 big hits and 4 RBI.

The Goldeyes on offence were led by Casio Grider,  who continued his torrid hitting.  Grider was 3 for 4 with 4 big RBI’s.  After struggling for a couple of days, the Goldeyes bats heated up again, as Maikol Gonzalez, Josh Romanski, Reggie Abercrombie and David Rohm all got back to raking.

Thanks to a lot of help from Fargo this weekend, the Goldeyes are now only 3 1/2 games out of first place.  With Laredo being rained out Sunday night, the Goldeyes have a comfortable 3 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card Race.  With only 14 games left in the season, the Goldeyes are getting close to clinching the Wild Card spot and can still make a run at the first place St Paul Saints.  The last week of the season will see the Goldeyes and Saints play three more games; if the Goldeyes can take care of business on this upcoming 7 game homestand, that could be some exciting baseball in St. Paul next week.

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Josh Romanski & the Skipper, Rick Forney, having a good laugh.

If you’re a Goldeyes fan, now is the time to get out to the ballpark and cheer on the team.  “We’re going to get first Chuck!!”  Right from an excited Goldeyes bus on the way back to Winnipeg!!

Get your tickets now…it’s going to be an exciting final two weeks!!  Contact the Goldeyes at 204-982-2273, Ticketmaster, or goldeyes.com for tickets!!

 

Thanks to the Ol’ Professor, Mickey Steen, for sharing this great quote about baseball:

“You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and kill the clock.You’ve got to throw the ball over the plate and give the other man his chance.
That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.”
(Earl Weaver)