Honolulu returns to 1st place as All-Star break arrives (story by dealornodeal)

The Honolulu Coconuts have seen a resurgence since the team hit a season low 29-39 record, including a stretch that saw them losing 12 of 14 games and left them trailing Seattle by 5 whole games in the division. Could it be that this veteran team was enjoying the move to Honolulu (from KC) too much? Could it be that they finally realized that the season had begun and it was time to get off the beach, or did this team just have a slow start? It is no surprise that Honolulu has risen to the top of the division - after all, they DID win the division in the last two seasons - and the reason for their early woes will never be known, but to fiery rightfielder Clarence Holdridge, the reason for the change of pace is obvious: "Seattle lit a fire that got us going by talking smack - feeling sorry for us and what not... that was a challenge for our guys to step it up and play like a team - we got veterans, we got rookies, we got stars and what others considered rejects - but we got a team that is not going to give in when people say they feel sorry for us."

In their latest run, the Honolulu Coconuts have won 16 of 23, while Seattle has only won 10 of 23, leaving the Coconuts with a 1 game lead in the AL West. The Coconuts have been 12-4 at home and 4-1 on the road, taking 2 of 3 from Vancouver, 4 of 7 from Baltimore, 3 of 3 from both New York and Toronto, 3 of 4 from Trenton, before losing 2 out of 3 in the last series with Charlotte. During this stretch, the Coconuts lost slugging 3B
Howard Coco to a groin injury, but gained strength by adding pitching depth with the acquisition of veteran pitchers Walt Falk and Freddie Romero, 3B/RF Dennis Chang and 2B Brian Myers. In the last 21 games, the Coconuts have pitched their way with a 3.29 ERA.

The pitching staff has been led by All-Star starter and ace
Terry Murphy, who has pitched 34 innings, 2 CGs and 41 Ks in his last 4 startes for a 4-0 record and 2.91 ERA. Veteran starter Ahmad Griffey has a 3-1 record in this period, and journeyman starter Louie Guzman has a 3.27 ERA, and pitched well enough for his team to carry a 3-1 record in his starts. The bullpen has been led by newcomer Walt Falk (2-0, 1.42 ERA and .182 OBA in 3 app.), Chris Cormier (9 games, 1.68 ERA and 14 Ks in 16 innings), and closer Dan Guerrero (7 saves during this period). The offense has been averaging about 5.5 runs per game behind 1B Bonk Daugherty (.460 OBA, 5 HR, 16 RBI & 17 R and solid defense)but the rest of the team has come together nicely. The offensive roles played by 2B Skip Kennedy (scored 10 runs), RF Clarence Holdridge (12 R, 14 RBI), DH Robinson Dixon (.384 OBA) and newcomer OF Dennis Chang (.369 OBA, 15 RBIs, 12 R) should not be ignored. The defense of catchers Tony Hawkins (7-1 record when he starts) and Carl Rivera (9-4 when starting) goes unnoticed, while 22 yr old phenom Howie Martin has shown steady improvement while showing offensive and defensive consistency at SS.

Team management announced some impending moves to be made during the All Star break. Slugger Howard Coco will be activated off of the DL, and will play the outfield (where he has played the bulk of his career) to minimize the impact on his groin. Dennis Chang, who has filled admirably in the OF while getting experience in the hot corner, will be seeing increased playing time at third base. Second baseman Skip Kennedy will be taking his glove to CF to make room for the recently acquired Brian Myers. Speculation also exists regarding a possible move of Walt Falk into the starting rotation, as he has been slowly regaining strength since coming off of the disabled list and has been seen building stamina by throwing extra pitches in the bullpen after appearing in games.

With Honolulu pitchers Murphy and Guerrero named to the AL All Star Team, the Coconuts are hoping to carry some momentum beyond the all-star break, and continue their recent winning ways. If so, they expect that the division they have won in the last 2 seasons will be theirs again. With the veteran depth they have added, they are expecting a playoff run that will hopefully take them to a World Series title.

Elephant Resurgence in the Bay (story by pelot)

At first glance, the Oakland Elephant's season looks like a disappointment: a 38-51 record amidst another season of rebuilding while trailing division leader Honolulu by 7 games. But take a careful look, and you see that a new era of baseball is about to start by the Bay in Oakland, CA. Today, the Elephants announced that they will promote their two top prospects: Starting pitcher Steven Reith and ss Tony Miranda. These two recent top draft picks have proven they can do it in the minors, and now they are determined to be the cogs that turn the Major League team around. The rising stars have been told that they will be promoted after the All-Star break. In much excitement, Steven Reith said “There is a lot of pressure on me being the top prospect in the history of this organization, but I’m ready for the pressure and look forward to getting this franchise turned around”. Tony Miranda stated “I’m looking forward to being in the Bigs with Jason Elder - that man is a complete player and look forward to learning a lot from him, and taking this team from the depths of the AL West to the top in the coming seasons”. Oakland hasn’t had a winning season in years, but the light at the end of the tunnel has certainly appeared for the Elephants. With a deep farm system ready to explode onto the Major League in the coming years, Oakland's resurgence has started now.

Parker McIntyre hits career homeruns 600 and 601

St. Louis, MO - The shot came in the top of the 6th. With St. Louis leading 3-2, Alex Velazquez left a curveball hanging a bit too long to an unforgiving Parker McIntyre. Within seconds, the ball sailed deep over the RF Rolando Lucano's head and over the wall. As Lucano and Velazquez looked at the ball, McIntire slowly rounded around first base and the giant screen flashed "600". Gameplay halted and the St. Louis crowd gave McIntire a standing ovation, realizing the magnitude of what they had witnessed , even though their team had just given up the lead. Gameplay was temporarily halted as fans, opponents and teammates greeted McIntyre
and congratulated him on his milestone.

The homecrowd reaction was a lot more frigid when McIntyre hit his second homer of the night - a 3 Run shot that gave the Blizzard an 8-3 lead over St. Louis. With career HRs 600 and 601, McIntyre is only the second major leaguer to reach the 600 career landmark. The perennial all-star first baseman of the Buffalo Blizzard is only 29 yrs old, and has never been injured in his entire career. McIntyre is the leading MVP candidate, and once again is leading the league in homers.

First Overall Draft Pick Signs to $9+ million Bonus

Washington, OK - King Ray, the first overall pick of this season's draft, agreed to a professional contract with the New Orleans Fifth Ward Reds. According to sources close to the negotiations, the deal includes a record-setting $9.2 million bonus in addition to a spring training invite for next season. At a press conference held in the gym of Ray's alma-mater, Washington High School, in Washington OK, Doug Grahamm, GM for the New Orleans team announced the agreement while introducing the 18 yr old All-American baseball star. In a statement, Grahamm said "We felt like King Ray was the best player out there, and he is the type of franchise player that you want to build a franchise around. We are glad that we worked out a deal that we are all happy with."

King Ray was an all-star shortstop for his High School team, the Washington Warriors, smashing all regional offensive High school records with an unrivaled combination of power, contact and plate discipline. He projects to be a major league third baseman or corner outfielder.
Ray was assigned to Rookie League, where he is expected to make his professional debut tonight. Main street Washington, OK (pictured below) was abuzz with the excitement of the multi-million dollar signing. Ray's high school counselor and baseball coach, Bill Savage, said: "We are very proud of King, and we know he will never forget his humble roots or the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon him. King is a very mature young man and we know he will be a star in every sense of the word and a role model for our town".
If accurate, this would be the 3rd largest signing bonus in history, following Patrick Knotts ($10.34 million) and Joaquin Santiago ($9.25 million)