OK, before I deal the dirt on the Bills embarrassing 28-point loss this afternoon to the Miami Dolphins, I’d like to doff my cap to the 19th century baseball club I play for – the Excelsiors.
The word “excelsior’’ means “ever higher,” and Sunday afternoon we went as high as we can go in our vintage base ball league by winning the Mayor’s Cup with a 12-7 victory against a gritty Knickerbockers squad at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in beautiful Mumford.
I was fortunate to be the winning pitcher, but that never would have been possible without a lot of help from my teammates, who baled me out of a 6-0 crater after just two innings.
We received spectacular defensive plays from Jeff Piper, our behind (hey, that’s what they called catchers back in the day), second basetender Curt “The Barber’’ Kirchmaier, center fielder “Dangerous’’ Todd Draper and leftfielder Jose “All Day’’ Pagan. Jose, who can track down fly balls with the best of them, deserves particular praise because he was playing with a broken finger (a serious obstacle considering we don’t wear gloves.)
Piper also had a superb afternoon striking the ball, as did our whole club, really. Our bats awakened after a lethargic start, and although we didn’t match our output of the previous two matches (29 and 22 runs), we scored enough to secure our second Cup in the 9-year history of the league.
So please indulge yours truly, aka Scott the Scribe, as I thank our captain and hot-hitting shortstop, Ryan “Doc’’ Brecker, for his leadership in juggling a formidable lineup that rivals the modern-day Yankees as far as run production is concerned. Besides the aforementioned base ballists, our championship wouldn’t have been possible without the father-son power-hitting duo of Andy “Frenchy’’ Cardot and Andy “House’’ Cardot; hard-hitting, fleet-footed third base tender Steve “Bo Lightning’’ Ost; hurler Mike Gruschow, who limited the Knickerbockers to 1 run in four innings to pick up the save, and rightfielder Sean Pieken, who’s another stick to be reckoned with.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two guys who didn’t play Sunday, but who have been an integral part of our team for some time now – Max “Country Mile’’ Robertson, who was on the DL after recent foot surgery, and Scott Peters, who is serving our country in Iraq and to whom we dedicated this championship.
Thanks again, guys. As they said in the 19th century: “Huzzah!’’
No “huzzahs!’’ for the Bills after their uninspired effort in South Florida.
Their woefully inexperienced offensive line was exposed again, yielding six sacks and failing to launch a ground game. The return of fresh-legged Marshawn Lynch from his three-game suspension was supposed to give the offense a boost, but he managed just four yards on eight carries. Quarterback Trent Edwards regressed some more, throwing three interceptions, including a pick-six for a Miami touchdown, as Buffalo converted just 1-of-11 third downs. And the Bills injury-depleted defense didn’t perform much better, allowing Ronnie Brown to run wild as the Dolphins racked up 250 yards rushing and controlled the clock for more than 37 minutes.
You would think that the Bills will be able to regroup against the winless Cleveland next week at the Ralph, but that game no longer can be viewed as a gimme because Buffalo is reeling while the Browns finally showed some signs of life in an overtime loss to Cincinnati.
Beleaguered and occasionally befuddled Bills coach Dick Jauron said he never considered yanking Trent Sunday and replacing him with Ryan Fitzpatrick. But calls for the backup quarterback are sure to grow louder this week, as will the calls for Jauron’s head. They lose to the Browns and things will get really ugly.