Wow. Game 7 of the 2016 World Series was bonkers. And who was at the middle of one of the greatest games in postseason history that ended a 108-year World Series drought for the Chicago Cubs? That’s right. Former Bulls Ben Zobrist, Mike Montgomery and Brandon Guyer.
We knew these three would be participating in the Fall Classic, but who would’ve known the impact they would each have in a remarkable game?
First things first, ZO. Zobrist, on his way to World Series MVP honors, put the Cubbies ahead in the top of the 10th inning with a double down the left field line, and had also scored earlier in the game. All he did was hit .357 in the World Series, scoring five times and posting a .419 OBP.
Next, MONTY. With the tying run on first base and the winning run at the plate and two outs in the bottom of the 10th, Montgomery came in for the biggest out in Cubs’ history. What did the former Bull do? Throw two pitches, induce a groundout to third, and set off a wild celebration on the field and throughout the streets of Chicago. Montgomery’s Fall Classic line: 5 G, 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 1.93 ERA.
Last but not least, we have BG. In the loss Guyer was magnificent for the Indians, coming off the bench to go 2-for-2 with two runs, an RBI, a double and a walk. Trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning with two outs Guyer lined a double off Aroldis Chapman to make it a two-run game and extend the inning, before Rajai Davis tied the contest up a batter later with a two-run homer. And with Cleveland down to its final out in the 10th, the outfielder promptly walked, took second base and scored on a single to make it a one-run game. Guyer finished 3-for-10 in the World Series with a .563 OBP.
So there you have it, a bunch of former Bulls that crushed Game 7.
Around this time every year, Baseball America ranks the Top 10 prospects in each organization. Earlier today the publication announced its Top 10 Rays prospects heading in to 2017, and we take a look at who made the cut, and if he’ll contribute to the Bulls next season.
1. Willy Adames – SS
Adames was No. 2 on this list a season ago, sitting behind LHP Blake Snell. With Snell’s graduation to the bigs, Adames takes over the top spot with much fanfare. After he was acquired in the David Price trade at the 2014 Trade Deadline, the 21-year-old has steadily climbed the ranks of the Tampa Bay system, including a 2016 season that saw him hit .274-11-57 for Double-A Montgomery while earning Southern League Midseason and Postseason All-Star honors. Despite his young age and an abundance of middle infielders, don’t be surprised to see Adames in Durham in 2017.
2. Brent Honeywell – RHP
He’ll turn 22 just before Opening Day 2017, after combining to go 7-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 20 starts between Advanced-A Charlotte and Montgomery this past season. Honeywell missed some time because of injury in 2016, and because of his youth and plenty of pitching depth likely will start next season at the Double-A level. Still, if he performs well don’t be surprised to see him make a midseason jump to Durham like the Rays have done with Snell and RHP Jake Faria over the last two seasons.
3. Casey Gillaspie – 1B
Bulls fans got to see Gillaspie up close in 2016, after he was the team’s most consistent hitter after his promotion from Montgomery after the All-Star break. After a strong couple of months with the Biscuits, the 2014 1st round draft pick batted .307-7-23 in 47 games with the Bulls, while posting a .389 OBP. If he’s not back in Durham to open 2017, that’ll mean Tampa Bay’s Minor League Player of the Year is with the big club.
4. Jake Bauers – 1B/OF
A 2016 Southern League Midseason and Postseason All-Star, Bauers hit .274-14-78 in 135 games for Montgomery in 2016 at age 20. Acquired by Tampa Bay from San Diego in the Wil Myers trade prior to the 2015 season, it’s not out of the question that Bauers will open 2017 in Durham after spending the last year and a half with the Biscuits.
5. Chih-Wei Hu – RHP
Aside from one spot-start for Durham early in the year, Hu spent 2016 in Montgomery. The right-hander led the Southern League in ERA, going 7-9 with a 2.75 mark across 25 starts en route to being named the league’s right-handed pitcher of the year and a Midseason and Postseason All-Star. He’ll turn 23 in November, and he’ll be fighting for a spot in the Bulls’ rotation when he arrives at Spring Training.
6. Josh Lowe – 3B
The Rays scooped up Lowe in the 1st Round of the 2016 draft out of high school, and the corner infielder split the year between the GCL Rays and Rookie-level Princeton. The Georgia native will turn 19 in February, and projects to be a few seasons away from contributing to the Bulls on a regular basis.
7. Jesus Sanchez – OF
Signed as an international free agent, Sanchez split 2016 between the Gulf Coast League and Princeton. Although he was just 18, Sanchez combined to hit .329 with seven home runs between the two levels. Similar to Lowe, because of his age it appears Bulls fans will have to wait to see the Dominican Republic native suit up for Durham.
8. Jake Faria – RHP
Faria opened the 2016 season in Double-A, but was promoted to Durham at the end of June. In 13 starts for the Bulls the 23-year-old went 4-4 with a 3.72 ERA, but saw the ERA inflated by a few bad starts. Of those 13 outings, he allowed two earned runs or fewer nine times, and surrendered just 46 hits in 67 2/3 innings. Expect Faria to be back in Durham to open next season, but he’ll be on a short list if Tampa Bay needs an arm.
9. Justin Williams – OF
Acquired from Arizona in the trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson west prior to the 2015 season, Williams has had a strong two years in the Rays system. He split 2016 between Charlotte and Montgomery, combining to hit .295. Just 21, Tampa Bay might like to see Williams get more time in Double-A than the 39 games he played this season, but don’t be surprised if he earns a midseason call-up to the Bull City in 2017.
10. Garrett Whitley – OF
The Rays’ 1st Round draft pick in 2015, Whitley spent the 2016 season with Short-Season Hudson Valley. The upstate New York native swiped 21 bags in 65 games, while hitting .266 with 20 extra-base hits. Just 19, the speedy outfielder is still a few years away from being Triple-A ready.
Dear Diar E.,
BIIIIGGGGG weekend ahead. First, my big appearance of this weekend is Fall Fan Fest, which is always a lot of fun. Since I don’t get to see our fans all that often anymore, it’s always nice to see a bunch of people come out and enjoy one last afternoon at the ballpark for the year.
Second, Halloween is on Monday, and I always enjoy dressing up. In the past I’ve been Wool E. Potter, Wool E. McFly, MC Wool E. and Wool E. Urkel, among many others. Not sure what I’ll do this year, but I always do my best thinking with my back legs against the wall. Also, Halloween means CANDY. So here, I’m going to rank my Top 10 favorite Halloween candies in order.
10. Mike and Ike
8. Sour Patch Kids
5. Kit Kat
4. Junior Mints
1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
A few quick thoughts. I obviously love chocolate and fruity flavors. Reese’s was always going to be No. 1, but really 2-5 can be arranged in a couple of different ways. For the most part these are your basic choices, nothing too crazy. Stick with what’s tried and true.
Also, a special note on ‘fun size’ candy. Stop calling it that. Nothing is ‘fun’ about a tiny little Twix bar that’s gone after one bite. Stop playing with my feelings and under-delivering, candy marketers.
Also also, candy corn is not good, and didn’t even sniff this list.
Now, on to my weekly NFL picks. Went 8-6-1 last week (thanks Seahawks and Cardinals), upping me to 35-39-1 overall. Need to get back over the .500 mark for the season. This is brutal.
Jaguars @ Titans: Titans
Redskins @ Bengals: Bengals
Chiefs @ Colts: Colts
Raiders @ Bucs: Raiders
Seahawks @ Saints: Seahawks
Lions @ Texans: Texans
Jets @ Browns: Jets
Patriots @ Bills: Patriots
Cardinals @ Panthers: Panthers (I’ll never stop picking Panthers)
Chargers @ Broncos: Broncos
Packers @ Falcons: Falcons
Eagles @ Cowboys: Eagles
Vikings @ Bears: Vikings
Before the 2016 MLB Postseason began, we brought you a list of every former Durham Bull who was on a playoff team. Now, with the World Series kicking off tonight, we take a look at the former Bulls on the Cubs and Indians, and how they’ve fared during their team’s playoff runs. (Years with the Bulls are listed in parentheses.)
CHICAGO CUBS: UTL Ben Zobrist (2006-2008), LHP Mike Montgomery (2013-2014)
Zobrist is back in the World Series for the third time, and the second straight year. The utility man first went to the Fall Classic in 2008 as a member of the Rays, and won the title with the Kansas City Royals a season ago. This postseason the switch-hitter has appeared in all 10 games for the Cubs, but is just 6-for-36 with three RBI.
Montgomery has been solid out of the bullpen for Joe Maddon this October, going 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA. He’s tossed 9 2/3 innings and allowed four earned runs, and three of his six appearances have been scoreless.
CLEVELAND INDIANS: OF Brandon Guyer (2011-2013)
Guyer, who was dealt to Cleveland at the Trade Deadline, went on to hit .333 in 38 games over the season’s final two months. The outfielder has only appeared in three of the Indians’ eight playoff contests, but is 3-for-8 with an RBI in that span.
Catcher Chris Gimenez made the Indians’ ALDS roster, but was left off the ALCS and World Series rosters. In the first round Cleveland opted to carry three catchers, but with Yan Gomes returning from injury and the strong play of Roberto Perez, the 2012 and 2013 Durham Bull will not appear in the Fall Classic.
Dear Diar E.,
Since I’ve been filling people in on what I’ve been up to in the offseason, a few people have asked what my schedule is like on a game day. After all, the fans really only see me for three or so hours on days we have games. So, I decided to break down what a typical day is like for me during a home game.
6 a.m.: Wake up early, shower, and… Psh, hehehehe, no I can’t say that with a straight face. No chance I’m up at 6 a.m. For real, now.
11 a.m.: Wake up after a long slumber. Crank out some push-ups, check Twitter and eat breakfast. Usually I’ll just go in to my backyard and graze for breakfast. Luckily my backyard is 10 acres big.
12 p.m.: Watch the afternoon edition of SportsCenter. Need to stay up-to-date on the world of sports in case I can incorporate something in to one of my acts. Also, polish my ‘Best Mascot in Minor League Baseball’ plaque.
1 p.m.: Head to the ballpark. Early afternoon is a good time to drive. Since I take my go kart to and from the DBAP, it’s best I avoid rush hour.
1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Take a trip to Nap City. Need more slumber.
4 p.m.: Make sure there is enough gas in my go kart and make sure I have enough t-shirts for the t-shirt launch. If it’s windy out I’ll practice shooting a few t-shirts to make sure I don’t shoot any on the roof. Still, there’s no simulation for the in-game experience.
4:30 p.m.: Dance like nobody’s watching because it makes me feel special. Plus I need to rehearse any dance moves I might use that night. Case in point.
5 p.m.: Stop by the clubhouse to go over the game plan with the manager.
5:01 p.m.: Get kicked out of clubhouse by manager.
5:30 p.m.: Eat dinner. Usually try to graze in the outfield, but the grounds crew always catches me.
6 p.m.: GET IN MY ZONE. Listen to my pregame playlist – which will remain private, because it’s MY zone. Get your own playlist.
7 p.m.: Showtime.
10:30 p.m.: Review tape of that night’s performance. Most mascots like to wait until the next day. Nope, not me. Figure out what went right, what went wrong, and process all of it before sleepy time.
11:30 p.m.: Eat any leftovers in the clubhouse.
12 a.m.: Arrive home. Fall asleep watching SportsCenter to see if any of my antics made the show that night (they never do, SMH).
So there you have it, a day-in-the-life of Wool E. Now, on to my NFL picks. BRUTAL week last week. Went 5-10, so I’m now 27-33 overall. Quickly finding out I’m not very good at this.
Bears @ Packers: Packers
Giants @ Rams (London): Giants
Saints @ Chiefs: Chiefs
Colts @ Titans: Titans
Vikings @ Eagles: Vikings
Browns @ Bengals: Bengals
Redskins @ Lions: Redskins
Raiders @ Jaguars: Raiders
Bills @ Dolphins: Bills
Ravens @ Jets: Jets
Bucs @ 49ers: 49ers
Chargers @ Falcons: Falcons
Patriots @ Steelers: Patriots
Seahawks @ Cardinals: Seahawks
Texans @ Broncos: Broncos
If anyone is familiar with our Twitter account, they know we like to have fun. Well on Thursday the account was back at it, comparing the Broncos’ Color Rush helmets to the Bulls’ Bull City Blues hats/uniform, which debuted during the 2016 season.
Basically, it was a comment on the Broncos’ navy/bright orange color combo, which again, the Bulls used for the first time this past season. Note, the word ‘logo’ is nowhere to be found in that tweet. Well, Broncos fans were NOT happy, despite the fact they had no idea what was going on.
As you can see, they completely missed the point. But, here’s our two favorites, presented with comments.
This person called us out for doing no research, when they themselves did no research on the Tweet in question! Classic.
This guy actually called for someone to lose his/her job over this tweet, while he completely misunderstood the point of the tweet. Not to mention, he doesn’t even know when the Bulls logo was introduced! If you’re going to call us out, please, please, PLEASE at least be right.
But perhaps THE BEST part of this whole fiasco (you know, other than people attacking our Twitter account without understanding the tweet at all), is that we’ve already pointed out the similarities (or really differences) in the two logos. And we did that earlier this year! On Twitter, no less!
Welcome to the Interwebs in 2016, folks.
Dear Diar E.,
My week got off to a tough start when I had my Galaxy Note7 recalled by Samsung, so I was without a phone for a little. Then I wised up and just got an iPhone. Also, shoutout to Samsung for announcing the recall in the middle of Sunday’s presidential debate. Perfect time to announce your top product starts fires. Bury it, and bury it hard.
On a separate note, good luck to my buddy Stormy and the Carolina Hurricanes as they kick off their 2016-17 season today. Expectations are definitely higher than in years past for the Canes, but they’ll back it up. A lot of good, young talent on the squad. Plus, Stormy’s the best ice hog there is, so they’re in good hands on the mascot front.
I got a busy weekend coming up, with a bunch of appearances. On Saturday I’ll be at a 5K and a walk, and Sunday I’ll be at the Bull City Race Fest. Unfortunately, I’m not making my way to the State Fair until the end of next week. Please don’t eat all the good stuff. You know I like my treats.
For my NFL picks, I went 8-6 last week, upping my record to 22-23 overall. Honestly, the Panthers have really hurt me this year. I’ll stick with them though, they’ll turn it around soon.
Broncos @ Chargers: Broncos
Ravens @ Giants: Giants
49ers @ Bills: 49ers
Eagles @ Redskins: Eagles
Browns @ Titans: Titans
Panthers @ Saints: Panthers
Jaguars @ Bears: Bears
Rams @ Lions: Rams
Steelers @ Dolphins: Steelers
Bengals @ Patriots: Patriots
Chiefs @ Raiders: Raiders
Falcons @ Seahawks: Falcons
Cowboys @ Packers: Packers
Colts @ Texans: Texans
Jets @ Cardinals: Cardinals
Earlier today, the Atlanta Braves named former Durham Bulls skipper Brian Snitker their manager, after he took the job on an interim basis earlier this year.
Snitker, who has been in the Braves organization since 1977, managed the Bulls in 1983, 1984 and 1987 when the team was Atlanta’s Advanced-A affiliate. Additionally, the 60-year-old played in three games for Durham in 1980, the first year of the affiliation between the franchises.
Snitker is just the second former Bulls manager to manage in the majors, after Grady Little managed the Boston Red Sox from 2002-2003 and the LA Dodgers from 2006-2007. Little piloted the Bulls almost immediately after Snitker, as he took over as Durham’s manager in the middle of the 1988 season and remained with the club through the 1991 campaign.
Snitker was a frequent visitor to the DBAP from 2014 until his promotion earlier this year, as he managed the Bulls’ IL South Division rival Gwinnett Braves since 2014.
Dear Diar E.,
A lot to talk about this week in the world of sports. We had the MLB regular season come to an end (and subsequently the Wild Card games), the Ryder Cup, some crazy college football games and of course the NFL. Life is good right now if you’re a sports fan. Life is not so good if you’ve been following the campaign or crazy, creepy clowns.
First, the bad stuff. How are people still talking about the first debate? Trump sniffled, Clinton shimmied. Let’s move on. Of course, moving on means we’re going to talk about clowns. What are earth is the deal with this? I’m (obviously) all for entertainers of all shapes and sizes – mascots, musicians, comedians, and – when used appropriately – clowns. However, clowns patrolling the woods or wandering around towns is terrifying. Seriously, absolutely, unequivocally terrifying. Stay safe from those heathens.
On to the world of sports. The final day of the MLB regular season wasn’t all that exciting. But the AL and NL Wild Card Games? Fire. Now the Blue Jays and Rangers get a rematch (hello Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista!), while Madison Bumgarner continued to show he is not human by shutting down the Mets. (Also, Conor Gillaspie is the big brother of our very own Casey Gillaspie, which is neat.)
In the Ryder Cup the U.S. showed the Europeans who’s boss (USA! USA!), and college football had some CRAZY games. Luckily I finished my appearances early on Saturday to get back to the DBAP and veg out to watch them. (Shoutout to UNC for their ‘walk-off’ win over the ‘Noles.)
And that brings us to our weekly NFL picks. Last week I guaranteed at least a .500 mark, and I finished 8-7. Boo ya. Now I’m 14-17 on the year, which frankly isn’t very good, but I’ll turn it around.
Cardinals @ 49ers: Cardinals
Patriots @ Browns: Patriots
Eagles @ Lions: Eagles
Bears @ Colts: Colts
Titans @ Dolphins: Dolphins
Redskins @ Ravens: Redskins
Texans @ Vikings: Vikings
Jets @ Steelers: Steelers
Falcons @ Broncos: Broncos
Bengals @ Cowboys: Bengals
Bills @ Rams: Rams
Chargers @ Raiders: Raiders
Giants @ Packers: Packers
Bucs @ Panthers: Panthers
Finally, with Hurricane Matthew coming up the east coast this weekend, everybody please stay safe. Catch you next week.
The 2016 MLB *postseason kicks off tonight, as the Orioles and Blue Jays square off in the AL Wild Card Game.
*We say postseason because we don’t consider the Wild Card games the ‘playoffs.’ Sure you’ve made it farther than 20 other teams, but come on, it’s not really the playoffs yet. It’s just a play-in game.
With the start of the postseason, we take a look at all the former Durham Bulls who you might see throughout the month of October
Baltimore Orioles: None
Of note, OF Joey Rickard played in 29 games for the Bulls in 2015 before Baltimore selected him in the Rule V draft. He’s currently on the DL.
Boston Red Sox: LHP David Price
For all the success Price has had at the big league level, he actually wasn’t all that impressive in Durham at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. He went 2-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 12 starts for the Bulls, while striking out a batter an inning.
Chicago Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel, LHP Mike Montgomery, UTL Ben Zobrist
Hammel, a member of the Bulls in 2005, 2006 and 2007 went 12-16 in 47 starts in his time in the Bull City. Across 30 starts for the Cubbies this year, the 34-year-old went 15-10 with a 3.83 in 30 starts.
Montgomery pitched for the Bulls in 2013 and 2014, and was named an IL Midseason All-Star in 2014. After he was traded to the Mariners and subsequently the Cubs, the 27-year-old posted a 2.82 ERA in 17 games (five starts) for the best team in baseball in the regular season.
Zobrist, who spent parts of 2006, 2007 and 2008 in Durham, hit .301 in 99 career games for the Bulls. This year the utility player, reunited with Joe Maddon, hit .272 with 18 homers while playing primarily second base and the outfield.
Cleveland Indians: C Chris Gimenez, OF Brandon Guyer
Gimenez is in the postseason for the second straight year after going with the Rangers a season ago. This year he played in 67 games for the Indians, and he combined to appear in 166 games for Durham in 2012 and 2013.
Guyer was traded to the Indians at the trade deadline this season and went on to hit .333 in 38 games. The outfielder spent parts of three seasons with the Bulls (2011-2013), while also making a five-game rehab stint in 2014.
LA Dodgers: LHP JP Howell, LHP Scott Kazmir
Howell made 31 starts for the Bulls between 2006 and 2007, and returned for a four-game rehab appearance in 2011. The southpaw made 64 relief appearances for the Dodgers this season.
It is unclear if Kazmir will pitch in the postseason after his last start came on Sept. 23. The 32-year-old only ever played for the Bulls on rehab stints, making one appearance each in 2008 and 2009.
Southpaw Adam Liberatore will not pitch for the Dodgers in the postseason, as he will undergo season-ending elbow surgery. Earlier this year the lefty set a franchise record with 28 straight scoreless outings. Liberatore appeared in 113 games for the Bulls from 2012-2014, including a 2014 campaign in which he struck out 86 batters in 65 innings.
NY Mets: None
OF Justin Ruggiano – a member of the All-DBAP team – appeared in eight games for the Mets this year, but hasn’t played in a game since Aug. 26 after undergoing shoulder surgery.
San Francisco Giants: LHP Matt Moore
The Giants picked up Moore at the trade deadline, as the lefty went 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 12 starts since. Moore has an interesting history in Durham, making 17 starts across the 2011, 2013 and 2015 seasons. He dominated in 2011 (4-0, 1.37), made one rehab start in 2013, then played as both a rostered player and rehab player in 2015.
Texas Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos
Chirinos hit .259 with six homers across 78 games for the Bulls in 2011, before he was traded to Texas at the start of the 2013 campaign. The 32-year-old batted .224 for the AL West Division winners this season.
Toronto Blue Jays: C Dioner Navarro, OF Melvin Upton, Jr.
Navarro split 2016 between the White Sox and Blue Jays, joining Toronto for the stretch run. The 32-year-old hit .284 in 43 games for the Bulls in 2010.
The artist formerly known as BJ opened 2016 with San Diego, but was traded to the Blue Jays in July. Upton debuted with Durham in 2004 at the age of 19, and proceeded to play in 314 games with the Bulls from 2004-2006, while also appearing in two rehab games in 2007.
Washington Nationals: C Jose Lobaton
Traded by the Rays to the Nationals in February of 2014, Lobaton played for the Bulls in both 2010 and 2011, combining to appear in 126 games. The Venezuelan also appeared in four rehab games in 2012.