Home Alaska Baseball League 49th State Hardball Report: Scrum Atop the Standings

49th State Hardball Report: Scrum Atop the Standings

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As June turns to July, and the Alaska Baseball League approaches the halfway point, clear-cut leaders in the six club league are harder than ever to find. In last week’s report, I mentioned that the then-undefeated Anchorage Bucs were out to a fast start and a commanding lead in the early standings, and while they’re still defending first place, it hasn’t been without a struggle or without surrendering their lead a time or two.
The day my last column came off the presses — and undoubtedly because I jinxed them with my praise — the Bucs stumbled for their first official league losses of the year, giving up three straight out of a four-game series in Fairbanks against the Goldpanners. The Miners were waiting in the wings and temporarily swooped into a first-place tie as the Panners knocked the Bucs down, and then advanced into sole possession of the lead as the Chinooks added insult to the Bucs’ injury.
But it wouldn’t last for long. The Goldpanners have been on a roll, winning seven of their last ten and finishing out their homestand with a 6-for-7 record including a three-game sweep over the Oilers coming into Monday. That put the Goldpanners in first place on then as the Miners reeled from a beating at the hands of the resurgent Bucs.
That Goldpanners couldn’t maintain their lead, however; the Bucs completed the sweep of the Miners and catapulted themselves back over the Goldpanners to reclaim the top spot at the end of play on Monday.
Confused yet? You should be! But here’s what you really need to know: it’s still anybody’s league to win.
The take-home lesson from the madness above is that the first-place position in the Alaska Baseball League doesn’t just change by the day; it’s been changing by the hour. And although the top three teams have made some separation between themselves and the bottom three, the Oilers, Glacier Pilots, and Chinooks are far from out. The Pilots and Oilers find themselves just 3.5 and 4 games back respectively, with plenty to play; and although the Chinooks are now a distant 7.5 out of first, it’s not too late, and they’ve shown signs of life lately, winning two of their last three as of Monday.
This season has featured some of the best parity amongst the six teams that I’ve seen since I started watching this league. Whoever your team is, they’re still in the thick of it!
ALUMNI ENTER THE PROS
It’s no secret that the Alaska Baseball League is home to some very promising future stars. The many players drafted by MLB clubs in this spring’s draft is testament to that.
One of those players, Diamondbacks first-round pick Braden Shipley (formerly of the Anchorage Bucs) became a millionaire overnight. While his minor league base salary won’t be much, the right-hander will probably be able to scrape by on his $2.25 million signing bonus. The D-Backs are breaking him in easy with an assignment to their short-season affiliate in the Northwest League, the Hillsboro (Oregon) Hops.
Meanwhile, fellow first-rounder Aaron Judge has yet to ink a professional deal. As a draft pick of the Yankees, and a junior with another season of college ball to fall back on, Judge is holding out for the same type of big pay day. Folks seem to think that the two sides are close to reaching a deal, but nothing is final until both parties have signed on the line which is dotted.
Some of the other players to sign include Jacob Rhame (Bucs), Kyle Finnegan (Bucs), Trevor Frank (Pilots), Mike Tauchman (Panners), Tyler Shryock (Chinooks), Ben Griset (Oilers) and many more.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
The Goldpanners are currently engaged in a road trip to play against the Anchorage-area clubs; Wednesday and Thursday they’ll see the Mat-Su Miners, followed by a game apiece against the Pilots on Friday and Saturday, then finally one against the Chinooks on Sunday before heading back north. Then they’ll host the Chinooks for three games to open next week.
The Chinooks will be in action every night for the foreseeable future. They’re also on the road at the moment for a three-game series against the Oilers on Wednesday through Friday. Then when they come home, they’ll have one home game each against the Miners, Panners and Oilers before heading up north for a three game set against the Goldpanners starting on the 9th.
The Bucs are the other team “on the road” (in their own stadium) against Anchorage’s rival Glacier Pilots for three starting Wednesday and concluding with a Thursday doubleheader. Friday puts them in the valley at the Miners before closing out the weekend with two at home versus the Oilers. Then they’ll have a little bit of a break, with three of the next four days off except for a Tuesday game when they host the Pilots.
The Anchorage Glacier Pilots complete the aforementioned series against the Bucs and then host the Panners on Friday and Saturday. Then it’s two on the road against the Miners and one back in Mulcahy Stadium for another game against the Bucs before a couple of off-days on Wednesday and Thursday.
Except for a Saturday game on the road against the Chinooks, the Miners are playing at home for the next week solid. Wednesday and Thursday they host the Goldpanners, it’s the Bucs on Friday night, two with the Pilots on Sunday & Monday and then a Tuesday doubleheader against the Oilers.
Finally, the Peninsula Oilers will finalize their Kenai homestand with the Chinooks, Wednesday through Friday, and then hit the road. They’ll visit the Bucs for two games over the weekend, the Chinooks on Monday, and then three versus the Miners.
Have I got you motivated to check out some of the stars of tomorrow? There’s still plenty of Alaska Baseball left to play, but the season will go fast, so don’t delay. I’ll see YOU at the park! In the mean time, check out my blog, 49thstatehardball.com, for deeper analysis on the teams and players of the ABL.

1 COMMENT

  1. Also, the Anchorage Glacier Pilots’ non-league game against the Mat-Su Miners at Mulcahy Stadium has been canceled and won’t be rescheduled because it is a non-league game, according to the Pilots.

  2. With the win against the Goldpanners, the Bucs moved back into first place in the ABL standings, with the Miners a half-game back. The Goldpanners and Glacier Pilots are 1 1/2 games off the pace.