Today's Post Guest Blogged By Clem Shepherd
A week ago, I was approached by your resident village idiot, "marbotty," about writing a bit on this here website doohickey about the happenings down in the minors. The exchange went something like this:
Marbotty: Mr. Shepherd, sir, how would you like to write a report on the Royals minor leagues?
Me: How would you like a shit sandwich?
Turns out this marbotty feller thought it a clever idea to have me, what with my background being what it is and all, write about "things down on the farm." What that halfwit didn't know is that there's a world of difference between ranching (which is what I do) and farming (which is reserved for she-men.)
Well, now, as much as I hate to see a grown man cry, (which is what this pathetic excuse of a man did upon my initial counteroffer of a boca de mierda ), I still wasn't in the mood to write about a bunch of young guys running around in tight pants chasing after balls on a grassy field. If I wanted that, I never would have left Phoenix.
Lucky for him, though, it just so happens that once upon a time I was sweet on his grandmother (as handsome of a woman as there ever was), so I decided to write this column as a favor to my dearest Opal, wherever she may be.
So that brings us up to where we are now. Guess we might as well get to it, then. Check below the fold for more.
Good to see that starting off, we've already got a pretty positive turn of events down in that god-forsakened place known as Nebraska.
What I'm getting at, of course, is the marginalization of Justin Huber , the so-called Pride of Australian Baseball.
Through the first 6 games of the season, Captain Kangaroo's already been held out of two matches, and wisely been restricted to only 16 total plate appearances, which means only the backup catcher has had fewer chances than Huber at the plate and in the field. Perhaps as a result of his handling, or as a result of my scorn for the guy, he's hitting a meek .231/.378/.301.
Now, I don't know who the manager is down in Omaha, but since I no longer see Rick Bell on the roster, I'm going to assume it's him. And Rick is thoughtfully carrying on the righteous work that his pa, Buddy, started back in 2006, which is to give Justin as few chances as possible to establish himself in the majors. Presumably, this is because Justin is a for'nur and talks funny, a discriminatory practice I wholeheartedly support.
Now since as manager, Ricky Bell can't play himself at first, he's had to find someone else to block Justin Huber's development. And I couldn't be happier that they found just the guy in Graham Koonce. Koonce, a 32 year old first baseman originally drafted in the early 1990's by the Detroit Tigers, has logged time with six different major league teams and had a two year stint in the independent leagues. This varied history has earned him the title of "journeyman," but if I were doing the namin' he'd be called "hero."
Koonce is my kind of guy, comprised of 2 parts grit, 1 part veteran leadership, and equal parts piss and vinegar. Plus I'm pretty sure he moonlights as a sci-fi writer of some sort.
Now, if I had my druthers, I'd replace every bat in the Royals minor league system with a guy like Graham Koonce, perhaps starting with that snotnosed Bill Butler. Of course, I don't have my druthers, having lost them to my archrival Blue Woodridge in 1981 in a game of high stakes poker. You ain't my boy, Blue... Yet.
Now, that is a team name I can get behind. A lot of folks don't know this, but for a brief period of time, this team was known affectionately as the Wichita Clems. Of course, I had an uncharacteristic stroke of modesty (which I now sorta regret), and asked them to change the name. Still, they felt like honoring me a bit, and I felt like lettin 'em, so a comprimise was made and the Wranglers were born.
What's the big news in Wichita? Far as I can tell, they only have two guys worth their spit playing there., those bein' Chris Lubanski and Luke Hochevar.
Lubanski's not off to his typical slow start, hitting .294/.333/.529. Not too shabby, although he's being outhit by a guy on his team who used to be a pitcher, for gosh sakes. Well, to each his own, I guess.
As for Hochevar, he's looked like something I scraped off the bottom of my boot once. Well, not quite that bad, but there ain't nothing good about an 8.31 ERA and 2.54 WHIP. It's just one start, and you don't count your dogies til they're in the pen, so I'm not going to worry too much about it. Yet.
WILMINGTON BLUE ROCKS
One of the great mysteries in life: What are blue rocks?
Well, I found that out the hard way, when I got a case of 'em on a cattle drive to Cheyenne back in '68. My saddle broke less than a day's ride from Abilene, so I was forced to ride bareback the rest of way up to Wyoming. You can imagine what happened down there as a result. When I finally made it up to the Lazy Q Ranch, ol' Doc took a look and said I had the worst display of 'em he'd seen in 20 years.
Unfortunately, a chisel's the only way you can treat blue rocks
I sort of mentioned this ordeal in passing one day to my pal, Ewing K., and he was so delighted by the story he named the team after it, to my great dismay.
I guess that means I'm batting one for two on team names, then. (Which still makes me a darn sight better hitter than that guy from the land where they walk upside down all day and have summers in wintertime and the like.)
Now, if we're talking about the Wilmington team, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that feller, Rowdy Hardy , who's having a great year and who's got a Winchester of an arm that reminds me of that one feller. You know, that one guy. Bob Feller.
Rowdy's only got 3 innings of work in right now, but they couldn't be more sterling than if they were a featured in the Americana Collection from the Franklin Mint. 1 hit, no runs, couple of strikeouts. Pretty durned good.
Coincidentally, I was going to name my first born Rowdy, but when it turned out my baby was a girl, that name changed mighty quick to Clem, Jr. Still, I'd be proud to call Rowdy Hardy my son. In a way, he reminds me of myself when I was younger, except that instead of baseball, my sport was Bear Wrestling.
Not to toot my own horn, (which I can no longer do on account of my decreased flexiblity), but had the National Bear Wrestling League taken off like it was supposed to, I'd be a millionaire right now and mentioned in the same breath as esteemed sports giants like Ty Cobb, Rocky Marciano, and Man O'War. Instead, all I've got to show for my foray into Grizzly Pugilism is a ratty old rug by my fireplace and my wooden leg. Oh, and all the damned memories.
Are you pulling my leg? We gotta team called the Bees? I'm gonna pass on this one.
Not much else to say, really. I said my piece, so I guess that about wraps 'er all up.
If it suits you, I may come back and write to you all a bit later. Then again I may not. After all, there's only so much of my time that crocodile tears and memories of sweet Opal will buy.
So, I'll catch you all down the trail. Or not, like I said. At any rate, I better stop writing before I start clogging up these here internets.