Frozen Dirt Dogs

OK, here is the kick-off post for this year’s Season Updates and right now I’m still waiting for my fingers to thaw without permanent damage. The Early Spring Fling Classic was played on multiple fields all over the vicinity of greater Providence, RI this past weekend. It is said that “Baseball Builds Character.” Truer words were never spoken. In my personal observation, the only thing “flinging” at this tourney were the vehicle doors of the intrepid parents who faithfully shuttled their kids and then found shelter in their cars  to watch the Boys of Winter  play on a frozen tundra. 

If you’re a “40-something” like me, you can well appreciate the old claymation story about Santa Klaus that shows up on network TV every Christmas-time featuring the Postman, the half-track Postal Service delivery vehicle (wish they actually used something like that today) , the innocent, adorable Ginger-kid who is Kris Kringle, and the hoary/scary Father Winter (or Jack Frost)  who threatens the whole deal.

Let me just say this: It was SO cold, that the Dirt Dogs arrived for their assigned game start to find a 1-hour game delay due to field conditions because the temperature finally rose above freezing enough to let the ice turn to water & thus be treatable by DiamondDri/SpeediDri and a grounds crew of 14. Nuf Ced.

The Dirt Dogs played all three games of the placement round in these type conditions, which regardless of the tourney sponsorship were controlled by Father Winter who roared and did his best between wind chill and air temperature to shut down all contenders. Regular readers on this site know my personal involvement in the law enforcement profession. Let it just be said that I needed to properly outfit myself for a sub-freezing  outdoor assignment in order to persevere as an uncomfortable observer. I can honestly say that Matt has never before played baseball in such a hostile outdoor environment, despite playing Fall Ball until Halloween for the past 3 years.

The 12U North East Baseball Dirt Dogs are a start-up team this year, and they were properly served notice by experienced teams from established programs (NH Redhawks and RI Rays) during their 1st and 3rd games at a score of 10-1 and 13-2 respectively. The Dirt Dogs offense was led by Scott C. who stroked 2 singles and a double, Nick K. with 2 singles, and Aaron S., Zach S., Matt L., Brad S., Mitch W., and Collin G. all contributing singles during the games.

During the second game, the NEB Dirt Dogs booked a win against the South Shore Indians 6-4 and remained in contention for the playoffs: Matt was starting pitcher and played Kris Kringle as the “Gingah Ninja” by hurling 3 complete innings with 5 K’s while allowing only 4 hits and 2 walks. He commanded ALL of the plate and introduced some of the Indians to what an inside fastball REALLY looks like: Get out of the way, or step into your complimentary wheelchair to First Base as a cripple.

Matt was followed by Mike P. (another LHP) who kept the opposition stymied enough to never capture a lead. Matt took the Win, and Mikey took the Save. Congrats to both for a Southpaw exhibition to warm up the New England frost. On offense, Zach S. put up 2 singles while Aaron S., Jonathan T. and Scott C. scored multiple runs at the top of the order after getting on base with walks and making the Indians pay for their errors.

The best that can be said of this experience is that the boy’s coach proved to be everything I had hoped when we joined the program, and the team overall learned what it already does well and what it also needs to focus work on: Defensively, pitching and basic defensive strategy is key; Offensively, hitting and baserunning strategy on the bigger field needs improvement.  Can’t say enough about Scott Patterson and the North East Baseball program.  The Dogs will shake off the dirt and move on to the real Opening Day game next weekend 4/3. Go NEB Dirt Dogs, and stay tuned…

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