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NALB - April 2020

The Knights began the 2020 season with their best hitter on the injured list. Blas Ramos missed all but three games in April, which certainly weakened Brooklyn's lineup. The supposed strength of the team, however, was pitching. Therefore, it was shocking to see how poorly the Knights pitched. After the first month of the season, the Knights had League 1's worst pitching staff with an ERA of 4.57. Brooklyn's 9-13 start puts them in third place, two games behind the Dayton Grizzlies. The Firecats, Corals, and Rattlers currently lead their respective divisions.

April 2020 awards:

League 1
Batter of the Month: Hsiao-lou Yeh (Louisville Beasts)
Pitcher of the Month: Jake Pradia (Dayton Grizzlies)
Rookie of the Month: Brad Slocum (Nashville Firecats)

League 2
Batter of the Month: Matthew Loy (Key West Corals)
Pitcher of the Month: Braulio Crame (Stade Maples)
Rookie of the Month: Dan Courtlandt (Stade Maples)

NALB2020_April_Standings

NALB - 2020 Spring Training

The Brooklyn Knights finished spring training in second place with a 15-15 record, behind the Dayton Grizzlies at 19-11. The Luisville Beasts looked very impressive and also posted a 19-11 record. The Stade Maples (21-9) and Vancouver Wild (20-10) had the best spring training records in League 2.

After adding no new players in the offseason/preseason, the Brooklyn Knights completed two trades involving minor league players during spring training:
  • Brooklyn acquired 2B Tommy Lesher, SP Kamal Ferris, LF Ricardo Martínez, and SP Bobby Harding from Vancouver in exchange for 2B Ryan Dade and RF Rod Steadman.
  • The Knights shipped CF Wolfe Lucas to the Luck for CF Loch Westlake, 3B Ulf Durán, 1B Jamie Gentle, and CL Steve Beard.

The Knights were dealt a serious but hopefully not crippling blow when LF Blas Ramos tore a hamstring on March 16. He hopes to return by the end of April. Minor league center fielders Tim Huddlestone and Luís Tirado also ended up on the 15 day injured list.

Other key injuries in spring training:
  • Cornfield Axemen: SP Adam Davis re-injured the same shoulder that sent him to the injured list last March. He will miss 2 to 3 months due to a partially torn labrum.
  • Dunedin Otters: RP Lorenzo Gomez has a partially torn UCL, which is a season ending injury.
  • Key West Corals: SP Porfiro Quiñones will miss two weeks with an elbow bone spur.
  • Key West Corals: RP Fred Dyball is expected to miss 1 to 2 weeks due to elbow strain.
  • Nashville Firecats: 1B Alexis Schmidt is out with a bone bruise on his wrist. He will need 2 to 3 weeks to recover.
  • Nashville Firecats: RP Wilson Controras tore his UCL, which requires surgery. His season ending injury will require 12 months to rehabilitate.
  • Phoenix Rattlers: 2B Roberto Vazquez is out for 2 months with a hamstring strain.
  • Phoenix Rattlers: A fractured hand will keep 2B Roberto Vásquez out of the lineup for 2 to 3 months.
  • Richmond Slam: SP José Urista has a bone spur on his elbow. He is expected to return in 2 weeks.
  • St. Rock Mudcats: 2B Johnny Smith ruptured his medial collateral ligament. He will need 9-10 months to recover so he will not play this season.
  • St. Rock Mudcats: SP Mobumasu Nomura tore his rotator cuff. He is out for the entire 2020 season.
  • Stade Maples: Elbow strain has RP Mike Wolfe on the IL. The requires 5 weeks of recovery time.
  • Stade Maples: RP Thornton Peters suffered a partially torn labrum. He is out for 7-8 weeks.
  • Vancouver Wild: Elbow inflammation will keep SP Lewis McGrew out of the rotation for 2-3 months. This is a big blow to the Wild's pitching staff.
  • Vancouver Wild: RP George Manzo tore the flexor tendon in his elbow. He needs 8 months of recovery time, which certainly ends his 2020 season.

NALB - 2020 Offseason/Preseason

Years ago, I fell behind in playing my North American League Baseball (NALB) seasons and never caught up. For example, I finished playing the NALB 2019 season two months ago. I've decided to start the 2020 season now to finally achieve parity with the calendar. The last time I played two NALB seasons in a single year was 2000.

Here were some of the notable roster moves prior to the 2020 NALB season.

The Brooklyn Knights were the only team that failed to sign a new player. However, they had a handful of roster moves:
  • Without a doubt, the league's top free agent available was first-baseman Mabon Beniniger. The Knights intended to pursue him aggressively. Unfortunately, the Washington Allies came to terms with him extremely quickly and signed him on November 21, 2019.
  • The Knights extended the contracts of 14 players through salary arbitration: Sardar Dzhafarov, Roberto Hernández, Júlio Guillén, Darius Luxton, Aaron Patterson, Cleveland Garfield, Alex Mobley, John Ruben, Joe Barnstaple, Syman Lowery, Xerxes Scaife, Cristófor De Jesús, Juan Fuentes, and Andrew Strain.
  • 3B Alberto Pescador filed for free agency and signed with the Cornfield Axemen.
  • Some players were waived and claimed by other teams: SP Yuniesky Porraz (Las Vegas Luck), RP Rico Jiménez (Dunedin Otters), RP Mathieu Lemay (Washington Allies), and RP Dave Williams (Luisville Beasts).
  • Several players were lost in the Rule 5 Draft: LF Darin Gardiner (St. James Crusaders) , RP David Sprinkle (Cornfield Axemen), C Al Collins (Dunedin Otters), 1B Charley Elam (Washington Allies), 2B José Burgoa (Richmond Slam), and RP Iemitsu Kanemitsu (Dunedin Otters).
  • Brooklyn signed several contract extensions: RP Jesús Montufar for 4 years and $2.85 million, CL Ken Hannah for 6 years and $41.5 million, LF Blas Ramos for 7 years and $73.5 million, and SP Aaron Patterson for 7 years and $72.1 million.

Notable offseason free agent signings:
  • The big signing of the 2020 offseason was 1B Mabon Beniniger, who signed with the Washington Allies. He agreed to an 8 year deal worth $133.2 million. The 27 year old had played his entire NALB career with the Dunedin Otters. He won the League 1 batting title the last two seasons.
  • 3B Pete Chavez found a new home in Vancouver. The 36 year old signed a 2 year, $11.8 million contract with the Wild.
  • SS Ramiro Socastro is now a Stade Maple. Formerly with Washington, he was the recipient of a 5 year $30.5 million deal.
  • After several dominant seasons with seasons with the Corals, CL Almandeto Trillio decided to join the Maples. His 3 year contract is valued at $8.68 million.
  • 3B Alberto Pescador was a fixture in Brooklyn's lineup for the past 7 seasons. He took his talents to free agency and landed a 6 year, $42.4 million contract with the Cornfield Axemen.
  • SP Vincent Cadieux has been banged up with injuries over the past few seasons. Key West took a chance on the 28 year old Canadian when they signed him for $14 million over 2 years.
  • Puerto Rican sensation Paco Rivera decided to play in the NALB. The talented 27 year old starting pitcher was a hot commodity with his strong arm and five pitches in his repertoire. The Luisville Beasts landed Rivera with a 6 year, $57.8 million offer.
  • The Nashville Firecats were looking for a new first baseman. They signed a good one in Alexis Schmidt. The 35 year old slugger hit 38 home runs last season and has 368 homers for his career. The Firecats hope his bat will easily be worth the $9.68 million of his 2 year contract.
  • 1B Quilvio Martinez has traded in his Luck uniform for a Grizzlies uniform. Dayton felt he was a good fit for their team and offered him $14.72 million over 3 years.

Notable offseason trades:
  • The Key West Corals received SP Porfiro Quiñones in exchange for minor league SP Chad D'Arcy and minor league LF Jorell Cassels.
  • The St. James Crusaders traded 27 year old SP Hai Lovatt to the Dayton Grizzlies for 24 year old minor league 1B Cletus MacPherson.
  • The Richmond Slam traded 31 yer old 3B Feliciano Gómez and 24 year old minor league 2B Dennis Guijosa to the St. Rock Mudcats for 31 year old C Ben Stamp.

Battlestations: Pacific - US Campaign

After finishing the Japanese Campaign, I turned to the US Campaign. This one also had 14 battles (missions) ranging from the Battle of Eastern Solomons to the Battle of Okinawa. I think I was a little more effective playing the US if for no other reason than experience. With 14 battles under my belt, I was much more comfortable with the controls. This may not be a hardcore realistic sim but I think it is a lot of fun. Being able to control so many air, land, and sea units and switch between them seamlessly makes for a fun game. My aerial dogfighting skills still aren't great but they certainly improved. I did get a little better at submarine warfare as well. In the end, I completed the entire campaign and the US was victorious (big surprise).

Battlestations Pacific - Battle of Okinawa
US forces undertake Operation Iceberg aka the Battle of Okinawa

Battlestations: Pacific - Japanese Campaign

Earlier this year, I played Battlestations: Midway. With its combination of real-time strategy and direct unit control, I liked it quite a lot. Now I'm playing its sequel, Battlestations: Pacific. As in the previous game, you control air, land, and sea units. There is a map view where you can control an entire task force and plot your strategy and tactics. Most of the time, however, you will take control of a particular unit (plane, ship, or sub) and direct its actions as you would in a 3D simulation game. There are several additions to the gameplay beyond what the first game offered. Perhaps the most significant change is that there are two campaigns instead of one. The setting is still World War II but a Japanese campaign is available in addition to the US campaign.

I decided to play the Japanese campaign first, which started with the attack on Pearl Harbour. It took me a while to become familiar with the controls again. After a few battles, I felt pretty good and was finally enjoying it. As with Battlestations: Midway, I prefer ship combat to aerial combat. Thankfully, there are a variety of battles with plenty of units to control. By far, the most difficult battle for me was
Meeting the Germans. You had a Japanese submarine and a German submarine up against an American force consisting of an aircraft carrier and four destroyers. That was battle 12 out of 14. I almost gave up on it but I hated to quit so close to the end. After playing it over and over, I finally achieved victory. Eventually, you get to mount an invasion of Hawaii to close out the Japanese campaign.

One thing I was pleased with is you get to play with the biggest and baddest battleship of all time —the Yamato with its 18 inch guns. With an upgrade, you even get access to a Super Yamato class ship and its 20.1 inch guns. That ship was designed but never produced. It was great to have it as an available option in the game.

Battlestations Pacific - Pearl Harbor
Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" over Pearl Harbor