McCurdy thrives in closer’s role

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in Tuesday’s Dispatch.

Nick McCurdy does not have Mariano Rivera’s cutter.

Or Billy Wagner’s fastball.

Or even Trevor Hoffman’s signature change-up.

In fact, McCurdy is nowhere close to your typical closer. He’s never held the job full-time before this year. And after starting games in his two years at Oklahoma State, the most saves McCurdy had registered in any of his six professional seasons was a whopping three.

But all these nuggets of information just make McCurdy’s story more intriguing. He’s been the York Revolution’s most consistent reliever all season and a dominating closer — and he’s done it in relative anonymity.

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Freedom squad takes All-Star game

It may have lacked the drama and the nostalgia of Tuesday’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, but the Atlantic League put on quite the show of its own Wednesday night at Commerce Bank Ballpark.

The Somerset Patriots welcomed Donald Trump and Don Zimmer to the ballpark. An Atlantic League All-Star Game record 8,290 fans took in the game. And the Freedom Division pounced on the Liberty squad for an 8-6 victory in Bridgewater, N.J.

The York Revolution’s Nick McCurdy nailed down a save in the ninth for the Freedom team, pitching an inning with a strikeout. Jason Aspito (1-for-3 with a walk) also added a single as the starting designated hitter and Sandy Aracena (0-for-2) and Jason Olson (1 1/3 innings) also made it into the game for the Revs.

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Why York has no shot of winning it all

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a two-part series. This post will argue why the Revs will fall short of the Atlantic League playoffs. Another post later in the week will argue why York could make a run at the Atlantic League title.

You can only toss around words like “potential” for so long. Sooner or later, you have to judge a team on results alone. And while the York Revolution are not quite to that point yet, we’re getting close.

In manager Chris Hoiles’ tenure, his teams have finished halves 26-37, 32-31 and 30-40. York has only been a contender one time — for about a month in last year’s second half. The rest of the time has been spent wondering what went wrong and going on winning streaks that have meant essentially nothing.

The time for York to make a run is now. And many might think that is very possible with some of the best additions in club history lately (Kennard Jones, Chris Ashby and Shea HIllenbrand). But here’s five reasons why York’s ’08 season will end in disappointment yet again.

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First half awards

Thanks to three straight back-breaking, one-run losses to Southern Maryland, the York Revolution will take a rest over the next four days sitting on a disappointing 32-44 overall record.

The Revs are 12 games behind Somerset for the best overall record in the league, already two games behind the Patriots in the second-half Freedom Division standings and don’t have a hitter in the top 20 in the league in batting. Matt Padgett is the best York has and he’s hit a ho-hum .288 with three homers so far this year. Not exactly thrilling numbers, right?

Yet, even with these truths, the Revs have to be thinking positive thoughts this week. They ran into a red-hot Blue Crabs squad. York has arguably its best team on paper in its two-year history. And after three on the road in Long Island after the All-Star break, seven of 10 games await in the friendly confines of Sovereign Bank Stadium.

But before the second-half fate of the Revolution is decided, let’s visit the bright spots of the first half — not to mention the players/occurrences that helped York avoid an even worse first 76 games.

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Atlantic League schedule needs work

Editor’s Note: This column originally ran in Monday’s York Dispatch

Despite its billing as the premier pro independent baseball league in the nation, the Atlantic League has its fair share of problems.

For instance, the league has no official record book. Want to know who has the longest on-base streak in league history? Or who is the all-time leader in ejections? Good luck. Because no one can offer a reliable answer.

The league’s transaction page on its Web site also looks like a display of liquored-up old-timers throwing darts at a board filled with the 26 letters in the alphabet. When Lancaster signed Shane Youman in June, the transaction page declared the Barnstormers’ addition of Sean Yeomen. Not exactly your innocent, run-of-the-mill typo.

But maybe the most egregious thing of all is the 2008 Atlantic League schedule. With the league saying goodbye to the travel-only Road Warriors and welcoming in the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs this spring, the schedule was lengthened from 126 to 140 games. All eight teams now play seven opponents 20 times and each team has 70 home games. Pretty fair right?

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Four Revs named All-Stars

For the second straight year, four members of the York Revolution have been named to the Atlantic League All-Star team.

Relief pitchers Nick McCurdy and Jason Olson garnered spots on the Freedom Division squad along with outfielder Jason Aspito and catcher Sandy Aracena. Aspito was voted in as the starter at designated hitter while Aracena was selected as the reserve catcher for the team.

Entering Sunday, Aspito (pictured) led the Revs in homers (10) and RBIs (38) as well as a slew of clutch categories. He leads York in two-out RBIs, go-ahead RBIs and has also been stellar in the outfield. The Notre Dame football fanatic has six outfield assists this year — good for tops on the Revs.

Aracena, a product of the Dodgers system, has been a very consistent Atlantic Leaguer for the last two years. This season, he’s hitting .312 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 43 games. He hit .324 for the month of June and is hitting a robust .347 at home (.280 on the road). Aracena has also gunned down 12 of 35 baserunners attempting to steal (34 percent), which is not a bad ratio at all.

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