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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 7:44 pm 
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Borealis Break Camp With Cautious Optimism
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

April 5, 2027: Grand Junction, Colorado – A mostly quiet offseason - marked most notably by the free-agent signing of The 'Chief', was followed up by a quality spring record of 16-8 - tied with Duluth for tops in the SL, and now the Borealis embark on the 21st season of PEBA baseball by opening up on the Front Range against their oldest rival - the Bears of Bakersfield.

Aurora is coming off another championship run - falling just short of the PEC in a frustrating SLCS with Duluth, while the Bears struggled to finish 89-73, 21 games back of Aurora and in third place. Many experts expect a similar finish -Palm Springs, many point to being the likely second place finisher and challenger for what is likely a wild card spot. Three (mostly) new faces will take the field for Aurora on Opening Day, but let's backtrack 8 seasons to the first of the 4 in 5 year titles for Aurora in 2019 - only four faces remain from that club: Mike Britt, River Pope, 'Stork' Holbrook and, of course, Michel Provost. As the club has remained competitive over the past 8 years (and, really, much longer than that), it has been a team that has seen turnover.

Let's take a look at the Opening Day roster for v2027 of the Borealis.

Starting Pitching
This was a group that was strong last year - and has long been the strength of this ball club, and their going out and signing Luis Nieves for a potential 4-years makes it even stronger - and it showed in the Spring. Mike Provost struck out 19, walked none and allowed no runs - showing that the reigning Golden Arm - a 5-time winner, was already in fine form and ready for Opening Day. 'Tugboat' also looked excellent, with 17 K and only 2 BB. 'Chief' had 9 K, 1 BB and a 2.25 ERA. Carlos Rivera (1.69, 10 K, 1 BB) and Clark Snow (2.81, 16 K, 1 BB) and 'Terror' Diaz (2.25, 23 K, 2 BB) rounded out the 6-man spring rotation - leaving people scratching their heads. GM Will Topham had said, upon announcing the signing of Neives, that 'Chief's role would be that of a 'swing man', but as manager Kata Hayagawa announce his rotation for the first week, it was 'Terror' who finds himself in the 'pen and Neives in the rotation - slotted in the #3 spot. "Luis was brought in to strengthen the staff as a whole - both for this year and in the future - where ever that may take us" said Kata, "and for now, we want to see what he brings us in the rotation - we all know what next season may bring." The Borealis manager was of course referring to the well documented player option held by 'Train Arollin' Provost - but also free-agent-to-be Clark Snow.

What may 2027 bring? Count on the rotation to once more strike out a high number of hitters, with a high K/BB ratio, going deep into games. What Aurora hopes they can curb is the massive number of homers they starters gave up - 90 in all, and Neives gave up 26 last year for Duluth. A drop in K's and an uptick in HRs would seem disastrous for this club.

1. Provost, 2. Smith, 3. Neives, 4. Rivera, 5. Snow
Emergency Starter: Diaz

Bullpen
This crew cost the team dearly all year - unnoticed to the casual eye, but to the of us who follow the club, the inability to hold leads bordered on epidemic - and was exposed in the post-season. For now, this maligned group looks much as it did last year - John Gray will hold down the closer role - where he had a league leading 47 saves (and 5 blown saves to go along with his 8-3 record. Gray looked mostly sharp this spring, with 27 K in 14.2 IP. The turning-38-year old 'Stork' will man one set-up position - coming off his third straight sub-2.25 ERA. Holbrook is expected to split the 8th inning chores with Ron Latour - who, for unknown reasons - some claim injury, threw very little this spring - and was mostly ineffective. In 2026, Latour was perhaps the most effective reliever, allowing only a single homer in 67 IP and a 2.00 to match 'Storks'. Also getting little work in the spring is Felix Pena - and he sure needed it. After 6 mostly effective seasons, 2026 was more of a disaster with a 4.06 ERA. The young Puerto Rican is still counted on to deliver in the high stress innings this year - but he has little room to wiggle. Also being counted on in tight quarters is former-Sandgnat, 'Doberman' Contreras. His spring numbers were shaky - a 4.15 ERA in 8.2 IP, but 9 K and 0 BB. He earned a contract extension with the 1.29 ERA, 42 K work he did over 40 innings last year, and Aurora is hoping that will continue. Continuing the theme of poor spring by the bullpen is newly acquired Dan Field - whose 6.75 ERA, 11 K, 7 BB in 10+ innings might be overlooked as the result of two bad outings. We shall see.

Closer: Gray
Set-up: Holbrook, Latour, Pena, Contreras
Middle Relief: Diaz, Lagerveld, Field

Catcher
Despite his finishing 3rd in the Newcomer Award voting, Manny Castro felt like he still had back-up Domingo Gutierrez breathing down his throat - and for good reason. He was. And 'Fido' responded with a .541 spring. Gutierrez only hit .286, but did power 3 homers, suggesting that Aurora may have the best 1-2 catching corp in the League. Jorge Alonso, the #1 catcher at AAA, his .273. With above average defensive skills, we might expect to see Alonso later in the year - should something happen at the DH spot (and Aurora returns to the 2-headed Catcher trick) or a trade is made (and there's a few high-level teams looking for that last piece behind the plate).

Starter: Castro
Back-up: Gutierrez

Infield
Aurora was really interested in an upgrade here this offseason, but nothing happened. With long-time SS Nick Giles let go (and still without a team), 3/4 of this infield will look like it did last Opening day: 1B Pablo Medrano, 2B Theron Boswell and 3B Mike Britt, with season-ending SS Teddy Loetzsch getting his first Opening Day nod. Britt, beginning 2027 with a new contract, had an excellent spring - his .361 was second best on the club, and his 4 homers and 14 RBI both club spring bests. Aurora had really hoped on him moving over to first this year, but for now, he'll open the year at his familiar third. Britt is coming off his 3rd 30 HR season. His 287 are by far (105 and counting) an Aurora best, as he looks to move from 21st on the PEBA record list into the top 15 (eyes currently set on Pat Lilly at #12, 324). Theron Boswell, who saw his average plummet nearly 30-points, and lack the power Aurora hope he'd bring to the line-up, had a .321 spring and for now seems to be set for the immediate future at 2B. Pablo Medrano may not have had the spring he had hoped for, but there he is. He did have a career-doubling high of 12 homers last year, and does have a tendency to come up with the clutch hit, so his spring .250 (and .245 in 2026) may be overlooked. SS Teddy Loetzsch looked solid, if not spectacular - his .288 as a starter last year and his flexibility around the infield, guaranteed him a job. One of the things Aurora likes most about Teddy is his ability to get on base - walking far more than he strikes out - which in it's own right is infrequently. Lastly we have utility infielder - and pushing Medrano for the starting job at first (or Boswell at second) is Gabe McIntyre, who arguably had his best season last year. After two seasons in the .220's, his .287 was a sigh of relief for a club who thought perhaps this bright future had dimmed. Expect Gabe to get early ABs and push for a spot on the right-side of the infield.

1B. Medrano, 2B. Boswell, SS. Loetzsch, 3B. Britt
Utility: McIntyre

Outfield
River Pope continues to be one of the best hitting machines in the SL not named Pedro Ferringo (an outfielder by trade, but Aurora's starting DH going on 8-years). Both hit .300 for the spring, and although neither will hit many long balls, they get on base and they are disruptive. Last year Ferringo stole 39 bases - getting caught only 4 times. Paul Carlisle joined the .300 Spring club and continued to drive in runs (his 13 were second on the club). Carlisle has been so consistent for Aurora (he has hit 24 homers in each of the past 4 years) that Aurora extended him beyond this year during the off-season. Admin, coaches and fans alike are excited to see two players in particular - CF Tomas Flores, who missed the latter portion (and post-season) last year (after his high-profile acquisition from Duluth), hitting .264 with 14 HR in 126 games. HIs spring .295 was promising. 'Fudd' Martinez, who may or may not be a 'rookie' at this point, but his .257 spring (seen as a step forward after last years .237 in 69 games) and his 25 SB in 28 attempts last year - coupled with his potential power and strong outfield skills suggest it's time for him to make the squad. For now. Aurora is chasing to keep an extra outfielder - the League has upped the roster size to 26, to give them 5 (and make up for Ferrigno's lack of defensive abilities). Some in the press are arguing for another infielder, but for now it's Martinez and Lawrence Justice, who's .184 was by far the worst of the team this spring. Neither of these back-ups play center, leaving the two competent CF on the roster in the starting line-up: Pope and Flores. CFs Nick Heath and Joe Harris were sent back to AAA for 'more seasoning'.

LF. Pope, CF. Flores, RF. Carlisle, DH. Ferringo
Back-ups: Martinez, Lawrence

Expected Opening Day Lineup v. expected Bears SP Neil Maes
1. Ferringo
2. Pope
3. Carlisle
4. Britt
5. Castro
6. Boswell
7. Medrano
8. Loetzsch
9. Flores

It's always difficult to anticipate how a season may go - near impossible with injuries, unexpected trades, poorer than expected play, trades, etc. But in a division where two teams are likely to threaten 100 losses, it's hard for this writer/blogger to expect anything but another division title for the Borealis. Looking at the Sovereign League as a whole, Shin Seiki looks to continue to be relentless with their power, but perhaps they've seen a dip in their starting pitching. The acquisition of Ratz will strengthen their bullpen immensely. Duluth's pitching staff does not look far from Aurora's - and the 'Gnats have a intriguing mixture of youth and new faces in former-Coqui Zhou and international free-agent Kang. Then there's the case of 'Jasper' in Duluth's line-up - are the Champs going to be that much stronger?

I say expect those 4 teams to once again face each other in the Divisional playoffs and, perhaps flip a coin. That said, I write for the Borealis, so my faithful readers, you know where my alliance will lie...

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Michael Topham, President Golden Entertainment & President-CEO of the Aurora Borealis
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Last edited by Borealis on Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:15 pm 
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Topsy-Turvey Start for Aurora
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

April 12, 2027: Aurora, Colorado – As Mike Provost toed the rubber Opening Day to square off with Neil Maes and the Bakersfield Bears, no one would have predicted this Opening Week to the year. Sure - some may have predicted the low scoring games in the Opening Series with the Bears at Northern Lights (three, 2-1 ball games), but then to head directly off to Japan for the season's first road trip and turn the season's start back on it's head? That's a whole nother bowl of sushi.

The Opening Day outcome (2-1 Bears) saw a prototypical Aurora-Bakersfield game. Provost would last just 5-innings (Aurora's typical early season pitch counts catching up to the Aurora Ace as he struck out 9). Maes would last 7 as both gave up 2nd inning extra base hits to lead off the inning - Figueroa a triple for the Bears, a double for Britt, with each scoring. Contreras would walk the leadoff man in the 7th, who would score on a 2-out single for the winning run. Of note in the loss, Felix Pena would pull his hamstring - shelving him for a likely 7-weeks plus rehab time. The tear was so bad that Castro and Medrano had to help him off the field - he could put no pressure on the leg.

Game 2 of the series - a Bears 8-3 win, was memorable for Randy Smith not having his best stuff (after an excellent spring), Edgardo Diaz having to leave the game in relief with stiffness in his forearm (diagnosed as biceps tendonitis, and a stint on the DL), and perhaps most importantly River Pope going down with a strained oblique trying to make an awkward throw in an attempt to hustle the throw into the infield. He will miss 5-6 weeks. Post-game, he admitted he felt something twinge in his last at-bat. On the plus side - Tomas Flores hit a homer, something that was missing last year when Aurora traded for him to fill the CF spot and hopefully bring some pop to the line-up.

Games 3 & 4 were once again 2-1 affairs, the Bears winning game 3 after Nieves left with 7-shut out innings, only for Ryan Holbrook to allow a 2-out, 2-run homer to Jesus Lopez in the 8th. Clark Snow allowed a Javier Torres homer in the second inning as the only blemish on his 7-inning, 7 K outing. Aurora would stage a pair of 2-oiut rallies in the 4th and 5th, a Boswell double and Ferringo triple being the 2-out catalysts to those rallies as Aurora would finally pick up their first win of the season.

The flight to Shin Seiki may have been grueling, but the journey was extremely fruitful as the Borealis would hit the Evil Evas with a three-game sweep. And nothing says extra-long plane ride as an extra-inning game to start the series - 15-innings to be exact! A double by Pedro Ferringo would get Aurora on the board in the first, but Carlos Rivera would continue a disturbing trend from last year - the gopher ball - allowing 4-homers in his 5-nnings - a pair of which were in the first inning. All, fortunately were solo shots - including a 3rd inning bomb by former-Aurora farmhand, John Dickson (who was traded to RGV, only to have the franchise in it's San Juan form trade him to Shin Seiki). Despite the homers, Aurora got the lead back in the 2nd with a Boswell double, a Martinez triple and a Gutierrez single. Both bullpens were solid into the 15th, where 'Fudd' would leadoff with a single, and after a Gutierrez bunt, Martinez would steal third. Teddy Loetzsch would fail to bring him in, but Ferringo - who had 4-hits on the day, came up with the big 2-out single to begin a three run rally to win the game (Flores and Carlisle singles and a Britt double).

Tomas Flores was the hero in game 2 of the series, with a 2-run homer in the 6th and an RBI double in the 7th for a 4-2 win - a big win in a game when it was Provost's turn to not be so good (a pair of 4th inning doubles leading to 2-runs, coupled with a pair of walks).

Game 3 saw 'Tugboat' returning to the form we are all used to with 8-shut out innings, holding the Evil Evas to just 3-hits, with John Gray picking up his 2nd save of the year. Tomas Flores continued his early season power surge with two homers off Bryan Bedell, numbers 3 & 4 for Flores.

With the team heading back to The Front Range for a visit by Neo-Tokyo - followed by a trip to the Desert to face the Codgers, Aurora's hot hitters for the week are Flores (13-29, 4 HR, 9 RBI) and Britt (12-24, 4-2B).

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:48 pm 
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April Rates a Meh as May Arrives
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

May 1, 2027: Aurora, Colorado – The season may have started with the Borealis digging itself a hole as they dropped the first three of the season Bakersfield, but the team righted itself as April moved towards May, finishing the month atop the Desert Hills (a 3-game lead over the Bears and 'Dozers), and just a game behind the fast-starting Akira (who have already taken 2 of 3 from Aurora).

Aurora would play most of the month missing 2/3 of their outfield as the previously injured River Pope would be joined by the red-hot Tomas Flores who would pull an intercostal muscle diving for a ball, an injury that would keep the .432 hitting CF out for at least 4 weeks.

The month would become a challenging one, as without Pope and Flores, the team would struggle. CF Nick Heath would manage just .163 in 15 starts in Flores' stead, and 'Fudd' Martinez would fare far less in Pope's place, hitting .067 and fans clamoring for his demotion. To make matters worse, Theron Boswell (.143), Gabe McIntyre (.179), and 'Fido' Castro (.196) combined to hold the Borealis to a .224 AVE over the remainder of April. If not for Pedro Ferringo's .353, the team may have danced along the fringe of the Interstate.

And yet, the team managed to finish April with a 10-7 stretch and a 14-10 record overall.

As usual, it was the pitching that kept the team close. As a staff, they held opponents to a .223 average and 47 R (a 2.54 ERA). The run total may have been somewhat deceiving, as Aurora lost three games by 8-1, 6-0 and 6-1. Remove those three games and Aurora gives up only 1.9 R/G. Led by 'Tugboat' (2-0, 1.02 in 3 GS) and Clark Snow (1-1, 2.22 in 4 GS with a team leading 24 K), the starters posted a 2.66 ERA, with the bullpen a tidy 2.29, with closer John Gray allowing 1 run in 10.7 IP, with 14 K and 2 BB.

Highlights from the 17-game stretch include:

- April 12 v. Neo-Tokyo. Aurora would lose games 2 & 3 of this series, but they were close to being swept by the Akira as they were losing game 1 4-0 heading to the bottom the 8th, where a 5-run inning, highlighted by Mike Britt's 1st homer (a 2-out, 2-run shot) followed by Pablo Medrano's 2-run double to give Aurora the lead.

- April 18-20, v. Palm Springs and Kalamazoo. Luis Nieves (2-0), Clark Snow (5-0) and Carlos Rivera (1-0), dealt consecutive shut-outs that were the heart of a 6-game win streak for Aurora. Nick Heath would hit a 7th inning solo HR to win the 1-0 game.

- April 28 v. Duluth. The 'Chief' squares off with his old team with Duluth's big free agent signee 'Jasper' hitting a 2-run homer to give Duluth the early lead. Former-Auroran Joe Kenny would hit his own solo shot in the 5th, but Teddy Loetzsch would triple home 2, and a pair of single runs in the 6th and 8th would give Nieves his first win against his former Warrior mates.

- Paul Carlisle, who led the team with 6 homers, had two, 2-homer games - against K-Zoo and Duluth, with a team leading 9 RBIs. He hit .278. Mike Britt would launch 4 homers and drive in 8, despite hitting just .232.

The Borealis would finish April with a 6-1 loss to Toyama, and a 14-10 record that is reminiscent of many a quiet April for this squad. May, on the other hand, has been historically a strong month, with the team more often then not, posting single-digit loses. With Duluth, Crystal Lake, Bakersfield and Okinawa on the schedule, it balances out the Reno, K-Zoo and Fargo (x2) on the docket.

For Aurora to match their history, the offense will need to improve and overcome the short-term loss of Pope and Flores. We may expect the pitching to maintain something close to their April numbers, but 5 starters hitting under the Mendoza Line will not cut it - and that includes Manny Castro, who has Domingo Gutierrez chomping at the bit, waiting for a shot at the starting catcher position.

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Michael Topham, President Golden Entertainment & President-CEO of the Aurora Borealis
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:55 pm 
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May Starts a Scorchin'
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

May 10, 2027: Bakersfield, California – April ended with a rough 6-1 loss to the Win-D's, who pummeled the Borealis with 14 singles, but the calendar turned to May and Just Like That, all was right on the Front Range.

'Terror' and 'Train Arollin'' would hold Toyama to a single run in games 2 & 3 of the series - with Provost also striking out 8, as Aurora would take the first two games of May - and the series. Diaz was supported by an offensive explosion that saw Ferringo go 4-5 and the heart of the order each collecting 2-hits - including 'Fido' stroking a run-scoring double and 2-run homer. Game three saw the teams play an extra frame, with 'Big Whiskey' launching a 2-run, walk-off homer to give Aurora the dramatic win.

Kalamazoo was next up as Aurora hit the road, and 'Tugboat' continued to be masterful, as he would strikeout 9 in 7.2 IP of 7-hit ball. Tomas Moya would finish the game for Aurora. Paul Carlisle's pair of homers - a 2-run shot in the 1st, provided all the Borealis would need to take the opener. Lawrence Justice continues to hit well in Pope's stead, with a 3-5 day that has his average up to .321. Nieves wasn't as fortunate, as he would surrender 5 runs on 7 hits, three of which were doubles that contributed to all three scoring rallies. Lando Lagerveld was likewise unlucky in his outing - a Jake Owens 3-run homer wrecking the Dutchman's line. Ferringo and rookie Nick Heath each had 3 hits, as did Pablo Medrano. rookie Yoriie Yamasaki got his 1st career hit in the loss.

Game 3 of the K-Zoo series saw every starter get a hit for Aurora and every starter, save Pedro, scored as Aurora pummeled the Badgers for 17 hits and 12 runs in a 12-1 win for Clark Snow (3-1, and reliever Ron Latour's 3-inning save). Theron Boswell (#3) would hit a grand slam, and Britt had his 6th homer of the year. Edgar Diaz would twice see Aurora take the lead - only to give it up, twice in his 7 innings - once by his doing, and the second time when the 'Stork' would serve up a 2-out, 2-run homer in the 8th. But for the second time in the month, Aurora would storm back and take the game in the 10th - Gabe McIntyre's lead-off double and a Britt sac fly earning John Gray his 3rd win of the year.

With the 3-1 series in their pocket, the Borealis returned home to face the Champs, who at 18-12, sit a game back of the 'Gnats. Aurora brought a 19-11 record (matching Crystal Lake for tops in the SL) into the series, 3 games up on the Bears. Fans were treated to a premium pitching match-up in game 1 - Provost v. 'Rainmaker', and they were not disappointed. Provost would go 8 innings (with 11 K) and allow only 2 hits - Don Mercer's 2-out homer in the 7th being the only run for the Warriors. Thomas would last 6.2 innings, Manny Castro would hit a 2-out triple to plate Medrano in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game - and end 'Rainmaker's' night (5 H, 4 K, 2 BB). To keep the 2-out RBI parade going, Britt's 2-out single would score Ferringo with the winning run in the 8th.

If you you didn't like pitching and prefer offense, than the teams combining for 21 hits and 12 runs in game 2 was likely more your style. 'Tugboat' wasn't as sharp - he gave up 9 hits and 3 runs in 7 innings - though he struck out 8, but he was still good enough to get his 5th win on the year. Bartolo Esquivel wasn't as lucky as he would surrender 7 runs - though only three were earned - a pair of Paul Dillworth errors would cost the Duluth pitcher 4 runs in the Borealis' 8-4 win. Former-Borealis Eric Perkins pitched 3.2 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball and is posting a 1.73 ERA. 'Chief' wasn't as lucky in his second time out against his former team, despite 7 K, as 7 hits would account for all 4 Warrior runs - solo homers by Jeff Prat and Bobby Wallace doing half the damage, but Duluth starter Kata Nakamura was equally unlucky as the 7 hits he allowed lead to 5 Aurora runs - despite all 7 Aurora hits were singles - perhaps the 4 walks allowed had something to do with it. Mike Britt was 3-4 and drove in a pair of those runs, his 21st RBI, as he upped his season average to .313. The bad news was Paul Carlisle hitting the DL after wrenching his back banging into the wall chasing a fly ball.

Aurora's 5th straight win against Duluth (they struggled to win two in a row last year), and their 8th win against a single loss in May took Aurora's record to 22-11 - tops in the SL and a 5-game bulge in the Desert Hills, with a smoldering 17-16 Okinawa team heading to Northern Lights.

The first part of May has been a boon to the statistical view of the team - the team average up to .256, while the arms have tightened down on opponents to the tune of .213 - with the hitters striking out out nearly 100 fewer than their compatriots in the other dugout (and nearly walking twice as frequently - both typical Aurora outcomes). The pitchers seem to have reduced the gopher balls, which has helped offset the Borealis' typical poor showing there (26 in 33 games).

Ferringo is leading the team at .345 with Justice coming in second at .329 - a good thing with Pope and Flores on the DL, and now Carlisle all looking at DL time, and 'Fudd' Martinez struggling at .113. Carlisle is leading the team with 8 homers, Britt has 21 RBI (and 6 homers), and Ferringo has 8 SB in 9 attempts.

'Tugboat' is 5-1, with a 2.00 ERA and Clark Snow is looking improved over last year (he's allowed 9 homers in 16 starts, after allowing 30 in last years 32 GS), with a 1.93 ERA. Provost has 50 K and just the 3 walks - as we have come to expect from 'Train Arollin'', while John Gray has allowed but 1 run and has 35 K in 22.1 IP, with 11 saves in 19 appearances. Also looking good out of the 'pen has been Ron Latour, who is posting a 0.53 ERA in 17 IP.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:10 pm 
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Slight Hiccup Then May Rampage Continues
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

May 21, 2027: Fargo, North Dakota – Even the hottest teams have their blips, and for the Borealis a tough 4-2 loss to Okinawa and a pair of 4-1 losses to the Zephyrs only slowed Aurora's progress towards their goal, before exacting a little revenge on their rival Bears.

The Shisa followed Duluth to Northern Lights and after taking the first game 4-2, handing Clark Snow his second loss of the year, the Borealis bounced back behind 'Terror' Diaz and 'Train Arollin'' for 8-3 and 4-2 wins to take the series from the Shisa. Aurora would continue their winning ways with 'Tugboat' on the mound for a 5-2 win over the Zephyrs before the offense took a siesta for two days - managing just a run in each of games 2 & 3 of the series with Reno - Ricardo Aguilar allowing 5 H and a run over 8 innings in game 2 and Jose Martinez nearly matching that effort with 7 innings of 1-run, 6-hit ball - with 9 K against the typically tough Aurora line-up. 'Chief' and Snowie took the losses. Randy Smith would leave that first Reno game with back stiffness, and taking no chances - as we so often see Aurora do, he promptly found himself on the DL, with Tomas Moya getting the call to fill the void.

And so it was there that the 25-14 Borealis headed to the California 'desert' - really the lower portion of the Central Valley, to square off with the 19-20 Bears. After opening the season with three straight loses to Bakersfield, the Borealis were out to extract a little payback.

And mostly in typical Aurora-Bakersfield fashion, the Borealis did just that.

Game 1 had Edgardo Diaz on the mound and he was dominant in his 7.2 IP. he would allow just 3 hits as he would team up with Xavier Diaz for a 6-0 shut-out - dropping Diaz' ERA to 0.94. It would be a 1-0 game up to the 8th - a Teddy Loetzsch 2-out RBI single being the day's only run, but Tomas Flores would drive his 6th homer - a 3-run shot to break the game open in the 8th. The final would be 6-0. The Borealis would get excellent pitching again in game 2 - Mike Provost would go 8 innings and allow 3-hits - but unfortunately one of the three was C Andrew Baker's lead-off homer in the 3rd; Baker's first career homer. Boswell's 2-out double and a Medrano RBI single would tie the game - which would go 15-innings - 7 of which the Aurora bullpen of Gray, Holbrook and Contreras would allow just a single baserunner. Rookie CF Nick Heath would lead the 15th off with a triple and Gutierrez would drive him home for the win.

Maya would get his first start of the season - a Steve McDonald homer the only blemish on a 6 inning performance. The bullpen continued to look good as the offense made 11 hits count in a 4-1 win, a win that featured Pablo Medrano's first homer of the season. Aurora found themselves going for the 4-game sweep, with 'Chief' Nieves on the mound, and yet again, Aurora's starters were lights out - 8 IP, 5 H for 'Chief' - though a pair of solo homers tainted his line. Lead-off walks in the top of the 8th and 9th would win it with Aurora as the tying and winning runs would both score off those walks on sac flies.

The win - and 4-game sweep of Bakersfield, gave Aurora a 29-14 record and a 9 game lead in the Desert- Hills - over the surprising Yumans. Aurora will pack their bags for the Great North to take on the 20-23 Dinosaurs before returning to Northern Lights to take on the Sandgnats and a rematch with Fargo.

Things of note:
- Manny Castro, last years rookie catching sensation, has struggled all year and has found himself benched and replaced by last years rookie catching back-up, Domingo Gutierrez who's .267 looks a whole lot better than Castro's .194.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 4:36 pm 
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Borealis Blaze Through May, Open Up Lead
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

June 1, 2027: Aurora, Colorado – After their pair of frustrating losses to the Zephyrs, Aurora blitz the Bears at YUM! and continued that streak in Fargo with three wins on the Dino's home field, before they returned home to face the 'Gnats and Fargo once more - bringing the second month of the season to a close. Single loses to Crystal Lake and Fargo at Northern Lights - and a win v. Yuma on the 31st, left Aurora with a 37-16 record, a full 12 games up on surprising 2nd place Reno, and 4 games up on the Evil Evas for the SL top seed.

The first Fargo series of the month was highlighted by Clark Snow's continued fine work - 6.1 IP for his 4th win, with his ERA settling in at 2.43. The maligned 'Fido' Castro supported Snow with 3 RBI's - a 2-out, 2-run homer being a key, while Mike Britt's 8th HR of the year to lead-off the 4th got the Borealis on the board. In game 2, Carlos Rivera may have sealed his fate as a rotation front-runner, allowing 5 runs - including 2 homers, in his 5.2 IP, but in typical Aurora fashion these days, the Borealis pounded 14 singles and a double to score 10-runs, with Lawrence Justice (3-5, 2 RBI) and 'Big Whiskey' (2-3, 3 RBI) being the big contributors. Roberto Martinez' 2nd homer of the season in Game 3 was the highlight of a 4-run 3rd and that 4 runs would be all Aurora would need to sweep the series with a 4-2 win in the finale. 'Terror' Diaz continues to look in command - a homer by former-Bear Gilbert Murray in the first being the one real blemish.

The 'Gnats came to The Front Range as Aurora returned home, and Tony Cuellar and Mike Provost showed us the peculiar nature of stats. Cellar would win his 7th game (against a single loss), despite finishing the game with a 4.43 ERA. Provost, meanwhile - who allowed back-to-back homers to Stephan Hooper and Tony Parker in the 3rd (an inning in which he hurt himself with an error), saw his record drop to 2-3, despite a 2.66 ERA. The Sandgnats and Borealis would play the next two games in fine 'Post-season' fashion - tight, taut games - with Aurora winning both in walk-off fashion. With 'Tugboat' unable to make the call in Game 2, Moya, Diaz, Holbrook and Gray would manage to steer the course of the game, keeping Aurora tied so that back-up CF Nick Heath could lead-off the 9th with a homer to win the game. It was Heath's second homer of the year, and was Aurora's second of the game - Heath had also scored on Manny Castro's 5th on the year. Both the little used Heath and recently relegated to the bench Castro had 3 hits on the day. Nieves and MacCowan both pitched deep into game 3, both gave up double-digit hits and both gave up 3-runs, but Mike Britt's 2-out RBI single off Jon Francis in the bottom of the 9th would give Aurora the win and the series over their long-time nemesis. Ferringo and Justice would each have three hits, with Lawrence Justice - filling in for Paul Carlisle, seeing his average inch up to .311.

After a nice day off at home, Fargo came to town to face the Borealis team that had just swept them and that was on a 9-1 streak. Clark Snow once more took on the Dino's and a pair of solo homers were about all the damage he suffered in his 6 innings, with Dan Field closing out the final 3-innings and allowing a run. But, once again, the Borealis pointed out double-digit hits (13) and made the most of them. River Pope would hit his first homer of the year - a 2-out grand slam in the 7th - part of a game winning 6-run rally to give Aurora an 8-4 win. Rivera - in search of redemption, matched Fargo Ace Ernesto Molina pitch for pitch over 6 innings, both leaving with the game tied at 1. But the Aurora 'pen showed why it was tops in the SL, while Bernardo Moreno showed why he wasn't, and River Pope's 2nd homer and a 'Fudd' triple put Aurora over the top in a 5-2 win, and their 11th in 12 games. Diaz struggled in game 3, and yet, he left the game tied at 4, and when John Gray took the mound for the save in the 9th, his control inexplicably left him as he loaded the bases, gave up a pair of runs, with his blown save (his first) became a loss (his first as well). Of note, Pedro Ferringo was 2-4, and upped his average to .352.

And so we turn from yet another scorching May - the norm here on The Front Range for the Borealis and we focus on June - a month that gives us a feast of Yuma (for three series), Japanese food (Okinawa, Toyama and Neo-Tokyo), just two off days and the Draft. It is that next piece that should be interesting as Aurora has a pair of picks in each of the first three rounds - owning the rights to West Virginia's first three picks.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:10 pm 
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Borealis Limp Home After Horrid September
by Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 5, 2027: Aurora, Colorado - It was bound to happen one of these years, the late summer meltdown that slides into September and bites the Borealis hard. 2027 was that year.

After sitting on August 1st with a 74-31 record and a 6 game edge on the Okinawa Shisa, Aurora managed to tread water in August (17-12) - seeing that edge dip to 4 games, but September imploded on the Borealis, and an unusual 6-game Home and Home series with the Evil Evas to get the month rolling was the kiss of death.

Aurora lost all 6 of those games to the Evas - 3 by one run, a fourth by 3, and two by scores the Borealis fan base will try to forget. Come September 9th, the Shisa had gained top dog status in the SL and the Evas stood just a game back. Only an 11-game bulge over Duluth gave Aurora any hope of sitting out the Wild Card round.

Everything seemed to fail the Borealis as they finished 11-18 down the stretch. C Domingo Gutierrez, who was having an amazing break-out season suffered a herniated disk and missed the last three-weeks of the season. Manny Castro - last years star at catcher, managed to hit .290, but for Gutierrez, who finished at .336, it killed his hopes of winning the batting title.

The pitching staff, normally the strength of the club, finished just under a 4.00 ERA for those final games, allowing 123 runs on 30 HRs (Aurora hitters managed just 16). Randy Smith (1-2, 5.88) and Mike Provost (2-2, 6.25) had nothing down the stretch - Aurora lost 6 of their 11 starts. 'Terror' Diaz lost all 4 of his starts - with a 7.66 ERA. The bullpen wasn't so disastrous ('Stork' Holbrook, making his likely last appearances for Aurora gave up 5 runs in 9 innings of work, the worst mark of the 'pen).

But the hitting just couldn't keep the team in games like it normally would. Sure, River Pope continued to shine (.394 in 99 AB), and Gabe McIntyre (.293 on the year) continued his improved play with a .340 in 103 AB, but Carlisle (.186) - who failed to hit 24 homers for the 5th straight year (finishing with 20), Boswell (.209 and likely to be gone) and Medrano (.229) left big holes in the line-up. When Tomas Flores (.272 for the month) leads the team with 5 HR, the question becomes - where was 'Big Whiskey'? Hitting near his career average but with just 3 HR.

So Aurora finished the season on that bummer ride at 101-61, a 100-wins for the 7th straight year - but for a level that looked so easy to attain on July 31, it seems miraculous that they achieved it. In doing so, maintaining their edge over the Great Lakes leaders, Aurora will face the defending champs in the Divisional round - Duluth, the team that knocked them out of the SLCS last year. With how the Borealis finished the 2027 regular season, I wouldn't expect them to go far at all.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:54 pm 
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Home Field, 'Tugboat', 'Chief' Take Down Duluth
by Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 20, 2027: Aurora, Colorado - Aurora may have limped home as the season wound down, with the starting pitching being the main culprit, but they took advantage of the break and gave the Borealis just enough to push through to take Game 7 and send the defending champs home for the winter - thanks to the efforts of a member of that 2026 championship team.

Mike Provost was the 'Train Arollin'' we are all so used to seeing, as he pitched into the 8th with only a solo homer blemishing his record, and Medrano and Flores would double in the bottom of the first and 'Fido' would homer in the 4th on way to Aurora taking the opener 4-2 at Northern Lights. A McIntyre error would cost 'Tugboat' 3-unearned runs in the 5th - enough for the efforts of Ed Emery and the Duluth bullpen, who'd hold that lead for a 4-1 win to even the series at 1 as it headed to Duluth.

Jeff Prat was happy to see his former teammate on the mound for Game 3 - hitting a pair of solo homers off Luis Nieves, but Aurora's hitters were happier to see 'Hollywood' Hernandez, Nic Arcimboldo and Caleb Garrett, as the Borealis touched that Duluth threesome for 14-runs on 13-hits in 5.1 innings - more than enough to overcome the 5 that 'Chief' gave up in his rough outing. Aurora looked good in Game 4 as Clark Snow was cruising, allowing 1 run over 7-innings, leaving with a 2-1 lead, but Ron Latour - who had by far his best season for Aurora, faced two batters, the second of which was That Man Prat, again, who hit a 2-run bomb, giving former-Borealis Eric Perkins a 3-2 win in relief to tie the series at 2 and move on to the critical game 5.

Harley Schneider entered Game 5 just 2-17 in the series, but he was happy to see Mike Provost on this day, as he would drive in 4-runs, two of them off a 1st inning homer, while 'Rainmaker' would throw a slid 6-innings. Provost wouldn't make it out of the 6th, allowing the 5-runs Duluth would manage, with it being the Warriors heading back to The Front Range with the hammer - and a 3-2 series lead.

Game 6 would be what ESPN used to call an 'Instant Classic'. Randy Smith would come out looking like his defending Golden Arm winning self, and over 8 innings he allowed no runs, 6 hits and struck out 10. Duluth, on the other hand, made it a bullpen game, using 5 arms to get them to the 8th - with them almost matching 'Tugboat' pitch for pitch. John Gray would take over for Smith, and Campos for the Warriors and the two would take this game to the 11th, where Gabe McIntyre's 2-out RBI single would bring pinch-running Nick Heath home with the games lone run - a 1-0 win for Aurora, forcing a Game 7.

Luis Nieves, the former-Warrior, was on the mound for Aurora, in a situation that Aurora brought him to The Front Range for - be that third top-of-the-line starter to be the man after Provost and Smith, and after his Game 3 effort, there were a lot of nervous folks in the stands. And when Eric Jacobs 2-out, 2-run double gave Duluth a 2-0 lead in the 2nd, the nervous chatter picked it up a notch. With each inning, 'Boy Scout' posted a zero, and each inning the nerves got tenser, until the 7th. After Esquivel got Carlisle for the first out, Castro and Loetzsch would single, bringing up the much-maligned Theron Boswell, who launched one deep, and over the fence for a 3-run homer that gave Aurora a 3-2 lead and sent the 'Boy Scout' home to the 'den mother'. Nieves would meanwhile pitch scoreless from the 2nd, and with John Gray throwing a 1-2-3 9th, Aurora - behind the ex-Warrior, would win Game 7, 3-2 and send themselves to the SLCS, again.

And this time it'll be a team that has manhandled Aurora - Shin Seiki. The Evil Evas took 8 of 12 games and hit 17 homers off Aurora's pitching (Aurora hit a grand total of 6). That the Evas out-homered Aurora isn't the shocker. That they actually struck-out fewer times than the Borealis - that's the stunner for a team, like Aurora, that has routinely been one of the best at avoiding the K. Consider it a likely outcome that power will make the difference in this series.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 4:41 pm 
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Evil Evas Out-Duel Aurora, Take SL Crown
by Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 27, 2027: Somewhere lost at the International Terminal, SFO - Aurora swept the Shin Seiki Evas, in Japan, during the season's second series of the year, portending to another strong ru by the Borealis. By the time September was in full bloom, Aurora had lost six in a row to the Evil Evas, and 8 of 9 - and often in not pretty fashion. And yet, it was the Borealis and Evas squaring off for the SL title for the 2nd time - and the 4th time in the playoffs since The Great Merger of 2021 - when the Borealis knocked off the Evas 4-2, on their way to a 4-2 win over the F-heads and the first of Aurora's 'Three-peat' titles.

The 2027 series would not go the Borealis' way - the Evas' continual building efforts over the past few years - a never-ending effort to bypass Aurora finally seeing fruition, but the games would at least prove more competitive than the 6-game sweep of early September.

Clark Snow had the pleasure - if that's what you call it, of taking the hill against Eva ace Suitani, and after giving up a 2-out, solo homer to Andres Hernandez in the 1st, he pitched excellently, matching Suitani nearly pitch for pitch. Snow's line of 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 8 K was as good as the team would have expected from Provost or Smith. Suitani would go 8 and allow just a run (on a sac fly) off 3 hits. Ron Latour would have his second bad luck outing, allowing a 2-out 3B to former-Zephyr Chis Webb that would plate the winning run in a 2-1 Eva win at Northern Lights.

Provost's turn would come in Game 2, and true to form he pitched into the 8th, allowing a run on 5 hits (a Webb homer in the third. Meanwhile, Aurora would touch up Manuel Barrios for three runs in the first two innings - Ferrigno's lead-off infield hit, an RBI double from Pope and a sac fly from Britt plated 2-go-ahead runs in the first, then Loetzsch tripled in the second and scored on a Boswell sac fly. And, that, my friends would be all the scoring. Barrios would be scoreless through 7, and Provost into the 8th, with Latour and Gray closing it out, tying the SLCS at a game apiece.

And then as the series shifted to The Land of the Rising Sun, so did Aurora's luck - and not to the positive.

'Tugboat' took the mound in Game 3 and pitched as he has in his past post-season starts - excellent. Only a 2-out Gordon Stenger double would plate a run against Smith, who'd pitch into the 8th with a 4-1 lead. Tomas Flores homered in the 4th and a barrage of doubles in the 6th and 7th by Boswell, Britt, Medrano and Ferringo earned the Borealis their other three runs and after Latour closed out a scoreless 8th, things looked hopeful that Aurora would steal a game on the road. But alas, like last year, John Gray was just not quite up to the task - as Shin Seiki returned the 'barrage of doubles' favor. Koyama, German Hernandez and then finally Orlando Barron, the former-Yuman with the winner in walk-off fashion, and poof went the Aurora 2-1 lead into a 2-1 deficit.

Aurora may have managed to keep Shin Seiki in the park throughout this series, but the Evas' power was nonetheless apparent - and Luis Nieves, fresh off his tremendous outing in Game 7 v. Duluth, paid a heavy toll. Webb, Stenger, with doubles, Long and Martin with triples - not to mention the double German had off the 'Doberman' and the homer he coughed up to Luna to end the scoring. Nieves would pitch into the 7th, but 8-hits and 5-runs later Aurora would be down 3-1, and 6-1 after Luna's 3-run shot off Contreras. Long-time nemesis, former-'Gnat Phil Burns would stifle Aurora on 3 hits over 7-innings to get the win and a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead for the Evil Evas.

But Aurora wouldn't cave. Britt and Flores would homer in the 2nd and 3rd innings to overcome a first inning run for the Evas off starter Clark Snow. But that was the best Aurora could do against Suitani, and Clark was just not as sharp as he was in Game 1. The Hernandez Boys would tag-team Snow with homers - German's a 2-run shot and Andres a solo one, and with that, the Evas won Game 5, 4-3, handing Aurora only their second 4-1 series loss in their long, storied post-season history (they've had multiple 3-1 and a single 3-0 in their first playoff series v. Bakersfield in 2008).

And so, for the first time a former-LRS team has made it out of the rough and rugged SL and will vie for the Rodriguez Cup. Whether it's Kentucky (currently with a 3-2 lead over Florida) or the F-heads, one thing Aurora can assure those squads is this - The Evil Evas will be a hand full.

For the Borealis, it's back to the drawing board with a large number of questions coming up - particularly the contracts of Provost, Boswell, Contreras, Snow and Ferringo - leaving the franchise with the possibility of an entirely new look come Opening Day 2028.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:27 pm 
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Contracts Come, Contracts Go as Aurora's Off-Season Begins
by Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 9, 2027: Aurora, Colorado - With the Rodriguez Trophy engraved with a foreign language for the first time in PEBA history - the Shin Seiki Evas crowned champs of 2027, the off-season moves into full swing as the Borealis were faced with decisions to be made - some their own, and others by players.

The most anticipated decision of the off-season was held in the hands of Mike Provost, who had an opt-out clause written into his 5-year, $35M/per contract that came time. It seemed like that decision was installed so long ago, but after last seasons outstanding 19-win, 1.70 ERA, Golden Arm year, Provost looked far from done - and the fear he would opt-out after this season was real. After 2027's not too stellar (by Provost's standards) 9-11, 3.66 - and a WHIP over 1.00 for the first time since he became a full-time starter and Ace, the team kind of gritted their teeth, not really sure what to hope for - as if 2027 may be a harbinger of things to come. Regardless, decision day has come and Mr. 'Train Arollin'' has opted to stay on The Front Range for another season.

The second big decision facing the club - and it really lacked the drama of Provost's decision, centered around Theron Boswell, but some creative contract language has saved Aurora a ton of cash. at the end of 2025 he had signed a 6-year, $139M deal that averaged in the $23M per year range, but had an opt-out clause after the third (2027) season. Boswell's first year in Aurora was one of his best, though he lacked the home run numbers the Borealis hoped he'd bring from his days in the Palm Springs desert. Last year showed a significant drop and this year he hit just .215 - and despite a few big hits during the post-season, he hit below the Mendoza Line at .175. Aurora desperately wanted out of the contract, and free up that $23M, but earlier today Boswell opted to stay - and things looked bleak. Ah... but for that unique contract language which also gave the Borealis a team option for next year - which they quickly used to void Boswell's 2028 contract, making him a free agent. This will free up that vital cash for the numerous extensions and possible free agent signings that lie on the horizon.

Also possessing an opt-out was the 'Doberman' who had signed a 2-year deal after last season (after opting-out on year two a 2-year, $12M deal the year before), for $15.6M, but chose free agency over a guarantee of $7.8M. Early estimates have him seeking something in the $13M/per range. Contreras had a 2.03 ERA in 29 appearances this past season with 34 K, just 5 BB and 0 HR allowed in 44.1 IP.

Felix Pena was the last contract decision for the day, which Aurora executed, keeping the 28-year old reliever in the fold for $3.8M. This will be the third year of a 3-year contract. Pena strained a hamstring on Opening Day, missed 7 weeks and ended up being used sparingly over the course of the season - mysteriously so, making just 7 appearances and throwing 14.2 innings, posing a 3.07 ERA.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:52 pm 
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'Tugboat' Makes it Six Aurora Golden Arms in a Row
by Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 15, 2027: Aurora, Colorado - It didn't seem likely. Not that the stats didn't warrant it. Yaka Suitani had a League leading 21 wins, 2.24 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, but the voters looked across the Pacific and voted for 'Tugboat', and in doing so, Randy Smith landed his second Golden Arm award in three years - and in doing so, he and Mike Provost (4) have made it six consecutive years that the Borealis have owned this award.

Not that 'Tugboat's season was chopped liver - though he struggled down the stretch. He posted a 17-5 record and his own, shiny, 2.33 ERA. The lone stats that he led the SL in was HR/9, with a 0.3, and those new fangled stats, FIP and WAR - which at 7.3 was nearly 2 points greater than Suitani. 'Tugboat' also finished 2nd to Provost in BB/9 and K/BB ratio - and well ahead of Suitani in both. The 34-year old Smith missed a few starts this year due to a number of nagging injuries, but nonetheless was named to the 2027 SL All-Star team, where he was the starter - and loser, after giving up an unearned run off a Royce Raines error.

Smith signed a 7-year contract extension after the 2023 season that will pay him $26M for the 2028 season, but the last two years on the deal are on vesting options - 28 games started, which seem attainable for the typically rugged pitcher; he has had over 30 starts for every season since his rookie 2016 campaign (when he had just 6 appearances for Yuma). Those 28 starts, should he make them in '28 will net him $28M for 2029 - and ditto for 2030, should 2029 go his way...

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Last edited by Borealis on Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:20 pm 
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Flores, Gray Remain With Extensions for 2028
by Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 20, 2027: Aurora, Colorado - The Borealis announced today the signing of two contract extensions with key members of the team that will keep them here for the next 2- and 3-years.

The first extension, signed yesterday, was a 2-year, $24M deal with 2027 SL Batting Champ, CF Tomas Flores. This was the second extension Flores has signed with the club, as they avoided arbitration after last season with a 1-year deal for $5.1M. Now they will avoid arbitration all together with this deal that will pay Flores $12M each of the next two seasons.

Flores had a banner year - the kind of season they had hoped for when they traded Harley Schneider and a bevy of players and picks to acquire the centerfielder to replace departing Mike Hale. After finishing 2026 with a .264 average with 14 homers and 28 SB (in an injury plagued season), Flores re-focused and came out on fire this year, finishing with an SL best .320, a third-best on the team 19 homers and a 3rd-best 46 SB - tied with, amongst others, teammate Pedro Ferringo. Flores was also one of the best hitters Aurora had during their post-season run, hitting .367, with a pair of homers. The downside is, like 2026, he missed significant time to injuries.

Closer John Gray finished 3rd in the SL in saves with 40, the second time in his two years as Aurora's closer to reach that plateau. His 12 wins and 1.34 ERA were best amongst all qualifying relievers in the SL, earning him the Shutdown Reliever award that he had twice before finished 2nd in the voting. Gray's season was primarily outstanding: 121 K in 87 IP, 17 BB, 5 HR, and only 3 blown saves. Of course, it was the one blown save during the SLCS, with Aurora on the brink of taking Game 3, that fans will remember.

Gray's new contract, the third extension he has signed since his first arby year, will be for 3-years, $13M/per - no options, no opt-outs, just straight three years... Imagine that... This deal will leave the soon-to-be 31-year old by Opening Day as Aurora's presumed starter over the next 3-seasons. With a career 2.02 ERA and 117 saves, he may not catch Bryant Burris, but Aurora will happily take what Gray has given them over his 7-year stint with the Borealis.

The one potential free-agent left in question is DH Pedro Ferringo, whom it is understood is haggling with the team, mostly over years. It's believe the team would prefer something in the realm of 5-years for the 30-year old Ferringo, who is propertied to be asking for 7-years and in the $15-$17M range - far less than the $20M+ an anonymous source had reported during the season. Having played with limited resources during the season - based on 2028 salary expenditures, Aurora was stuck and unable to bargain. With Boswell and Contreras off the books, there's hope the two sides will be able to find a common ground before the Arbitration hearings.

Similarly, SP Clark Snow is also slated for free-agency and has remained steady on his request for something in the mid-$20M's. Aurora has already dismissed his demands and offered the mandatory $15.1M 1-year deal to be eligible for compensation. It's believed Aurora has also made the same offer to Ferringo, despite trying to hash out a longer deal.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:07 pm 
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Arby Deals Set, Ferringo, Snow Flee
by Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 30, 2027: Aurora, Colorado - In what may be the largest class of major league level free agents, 5 members of the 2027 squad have been allowed to, chosen, or in the case of Pedro Ferringo, watched the clock strike midnight. In the category of allowed, it was a known that Theron Boswell's time was over on The Front Range when the club declined the option on his contract. Ryan 'Stork' Holbrook was not tendered an extension and was thus allowed to walk (more on that in my next blog entry). Choosing to depart were 'Doberman' Contreras and Clark Snow - Contreras opting out of his contract and Snow making any extension moot with his extreme demands.

That left Pedro Ferringo, the career .317 hitting DH who has 243 SB to his resume. It is reported that the club had agreed on a 7-year, $100M deal, with the final 2-seasons being linked to vesting terms, making the deal a guaranteed 5-year deal. Pedro was happy, GM Will Topham was happy - but the agreement came so late that by the time the del reached the PEBA offices, the clock struck 10pm Mountain time, meaning Midnight at the Asheville, NC PEBA HQ - voiding the agreement and thus making Ferringo a free-agent. That also, by default, made the $15.1M qualifying offer voided and thus he will at least - if he doesn't sign with Aurora, compensation eligible.

Ferringo will be missed, as his speed and high average at the top of the line-up has been a key since arriving on The Front Range. Drafted 29th overall in the 2019 draft, Pedro split the remainder of 2019 at SLRC and Gatineau, where he hit .394 and .327, respectively. He played 68 games at AAA Thornton in 2020, where he hit .377, before being called up to Aurora for good, finishing the season at .310 - never to look back again. In 2026 he led the SL in hits with 196 and doubles with 38.

So Aurora has some shoes to fill: a DH/OF spot, a starting pitcher, two relievers and an infielder. Whether they try to re-sign Clark, fill the need from within, or chase another starter through FA or a trade, that is a hole they will need to address immediately. There has long been speculation with the advancement of 'Fido' Castro and Domingo Gutierrez to the Aurora roster that one would end up as DH and the other catching, much in the vein of Bob Keller and Scott Vinson back in 2016-18. The infield spot has long been a troublesome thing since Jose Rivera left, and it's presumed they will have little trouble filling the relief spots.

Six players were arbitration eligible on the roster and the team posted a 5-1 'winning record' against the players with the deals. Pablo Medrano ($900K), Lando Lagerveld ($900K), Gabe McIntyre ($1.1M), Teddy Loetzsch ($3.8M) and 'Terror' Diaz ($8M) were all awarded what the Borealis offered through the process. The only player the arbiter sided with was reliever Ron Latour, who will be making $5.5M over the coming season.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:58 am 
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Aurora Lets 'Stork' Take Flight
by Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

November 30, 2027: Aurora, Colorado - Wonder back in time, to 2011... Remember those days? The PEBA was still in its infancy - just entering it's 5th season. It's Founding Father and original Commissioner John Rodriguez, Sr, had just passed away, and with it controversy arouse as ‘The Old Man’ did not leave his beloved Borealis of Aurora (Colorado, not Illinois) to his sons, Chris and John, Jr – instead he left the option to buy the club to his old military mate, Michael Topham, who, with the help of his Golden Entertainment empire, did just that.

Remember those days? There aren’t many players hanging around from that time.

You might remember the top pick for the Borealis that year – 5th overall, a guy named ‘Gypsy’ John Foster - long gone, and all but retired. But also drafted that year, in the first round, was a reliever out of Marshall. A guy who went by the name ‘Stork’ – Ryan Holbrook.

Why do we play revisionist history? Because today, The ‘Stork’ declared for free-agency as the Borealis bid him farewell by not offering him a contract for 2028. Perhaps he will receive offers from clubs needing help, but for now, it seems, his career with Aurora has come to an end.

Holbrook spent two full seasons in the minors, and part of two others as book ends after the 2011 draft, but when he arrived on The Front Range in 2014, it was for good. He would spend 13 full seasons with Aurora and would make 808 appearances – with 3 inexplicible starts. Those 808 appearances are the 2nd most in Aurora history, behind only Bryant Burris’ 1041, with John Gray (452) the closest active contender.

Holbrook finds himself amongst some heady Aurora company as he’s 5th in ERA at 2.80 and on the list of all-time K/BB leaders, he’s third on a list full of big-time starters, ahead of ‘Sawmill’, Kojima, ‘King’ George Thompson, ‘Slappy’ and Anastasio Lopez – only Aurora’s current ‘Ace-pair’ of Provost and ‘Tugboat’ have a better number. His 86 games in 2016 are a team record.

For a player who has had the longevity of Holbrook, who has such a large number of appearances (He’s currenty 10th all-time), it’s funny that only once did he lead the League in anything – his 82 appearances in 2019 topping the SL. But 8 times he posted ERA under 3.00 and prior to this years 3.34 (the third highest of his career) he had posted 2.02, 2.20 and 2.00 last year.

‘Stork’ was a stalwart, durable, dependable mainstay in Aurora’s ‘pen all these years, with only one season, 2018, did he spend any time closing, when he had 20 saves. He would have 64 total for Aurora. For a guy to have lasted 13 full seasons, with one club, and NOT be a closer – that’s a mighty incredible feat, and speaks volumes for what he brings to the table. He was smart, loyal to the team and until the last day of the season, he would work as hard as anyone – setting an example that more than one player took not of during his tenure.

The ‘Stork’ may have taken wing and will be gone, but one can say for sure, he will never be forgotten.

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Michael Topham, President Golden Entertainment & President-CEO of the Aurora Borealis
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