The short summer season that is collegiate wood-bat baseball is almost a third of the way through now, and if you've seen the Marysville Gold Sox play this year (I haven't), you've got to be wondering what's going on. The team that has been around for more than a decade and a half had historically won almost three-quarters of its games. This year, so far, it's only a third.
The Gold Sox have won six games (6-12), and five of those wins are against its new stadium sharing rival, the Yuba City Bears. Against the rest of the Great West League, the Sox are 1-9. The Bears, on the other hand, are no better. They are off to a 5-14 start (.263), with three of those wins coming against the Gold Sox. For a stadium and a market that needs two teams to make the whole league work, those two teams are a combined 11-26 (a batter wouldn't mind a .297 average, but not a good winning percentage). So, the question is, what gives?
Let's take the Bears first because, frankly, not much was expected of them. Their players are mostly either from junior colleges or high school seniors going to junior colleges this fall. They are good players, but have nowhere near the experience as some of their league counterparts. They've committed the most errors in the league (49), but the team with the second most (Medford with 45) is in first place. They also have the highest team ERA and the lowest team batting average. Worst hitting, worst pitching, and worst fielding equals last place. Not a big surprise there.
The Bears also are not only a first year club, but their existence was made official just a couple of months or so before the start of the season. Whether they were created behind closed doors before that we'll likely never know, but that gives the general manager (who also runs the Gold Sox) an excuse of not having the best player pool to choose from. The Gold Sox, however, have had all year to assemble a good club. New manager Dallas Correa (a coach at Hawai'i Pacific) was an assistant coach here last year, and although young, has a pretty good rolodex of phone numbers to use to assemble a roster. In the past, the manager has been in charge of getting the players, although that was before the Gold Sox joined the Great West League, and may no longer be the case.
The numbers speak for themselves. The Gold Sox lost 11 of their first 14 games. They won three straight last week (all against the Bears) before losing tonight at home against the first place Medford Rogues. They are second-to-last in batting average (only ahead of the Bears), second to last in earned run average (only ahead of the Bears), and have made the third most errors in the GWL (ahead of Medford and the Bears). They've scored the second fewest runs (Yuba City is worst), and are tied with the Bears for fewest extra base hits. Fortunately for the Gold Sox, they've played the Bears eight times, but only have four meetings remaining against them.
Season ticket holders have to be disappointed. From what I read, though, the Gold Sox have been waiting for some of their full time players to arrive. This happens because some colleges are still in their playoffs, either at the Division I or II levels. All teams are subject to this, so it may be kind of a lame excuse, but we did see it last year with the Chico Heat.
We present more numbers, and you can make of them what you will. After play on June 25 last year (the league started a little later last season), the Gold Sox were 17-3. Since then, the Gold Sox are 20-37 (.351). After June 25, 2016, the Chico Heat were 8-12. They are 39-17 (.696) since. Drastic comeback or do the doldrums continue for the Gold Sox? Stay tuned.
Draft kings: The Major League Baseball draft was held last week, and the Gold Sox continued their streak of having at least one of their alumni selectedin every year of their existence. Catcher and Yuba City native Cooper Goldby (Lewis-Clark State College) was taken in the 35th round by Oakland, and pitcher Chase Blueberg (Feather River College) was drafted by Atlanta in the 36th round. Both played for the Gold Sox in 2015... The Bears first-ever draft pick was pitcher and Marysville native Ricky Ramirez (Fresno State). He appeared in three games for the Bears with a 1-0 record and 0.84 ERA. He went in the 15th round to Minnesota... Pitcher/infielder Derek Molina (Merced College) was the first-ever GWL player drafted. He was in 12 games this season with the Lincoln Potters, and was taken in the 14th round by the Twins... just one player from last year's GWL was taken in this draft. Medford pitcher Austin Crowson (Lane Community College) was selected in the 26th round by the Yankees.
Not so wild card: For those of you who think the wild card is good for Major League Baseball because it keeps more teams in the playoff hunt longer, I present to you the National League. As of the minute this column was posted, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks would be the two wild card playoff teams. Both are within a game of the Colorado Rockies for first place in the NL West. The next closest team in the wild card race is the Chicago Cubs. With the win tonight, they are 8½ games behind Arizona. It's hard to see sometimes but what's created a better playoff race in September than the wild card, is having three divisions instead of two.
Sucks to be me update: Two nights after my pickup truck was stolen last week, someone made off with the hubcaps of my new car. That vehicle was parked completely on the other side of the complex from where my truck was. I don't know if it's personal or just a bad neighborhood, but I'm moving. I did get my truck back, though. It was found in a parking lot about a mile away. I got to pay $280 to get it out of the tow yard, too!
Family matters: Happy late birthday (June 14) to my cousin Susie on my dad's side. I saw her in April of 2016 for the first time in over 30 years, but remembered when she said her birthday was on Flag Day. My heart, though, goes out to my cousins on my mom's side who spent their first Father's Day yesterday without their dad, who died in January. I love all of you.