Statement Time

As well as the York Revolution has played in the second half, the fact of the matter is the Revs lead in the Freedom Division is down to only two games.

The last two weeks was the time for this team to make a move in this mediocre division. It was the time to put Newark, Lancaster and Somerset in the rearview mirror.

And the Revs missed out on the opportunity.

York has played .500 ball over the last 12 days. Since the franchise-record, eight-game winning streak, York has not even won two games in a row. The Freedom Division leaders have alternated wins and losses over the last 12 games (6-6) while second-place Newark has caught fire. The Bears have won six straight.

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One huge series

Coming off its improbable 11-10 come-from-behind win Wednesday, the York Revolution has little time to rest or enjoy its recent stretch of gaudy offensive production.

There are bigger things to worry about — like an impending series that can be considered York’s most important of the season to this point. Somerset comes to town for a crucial four-game set starting Thursday night. And while the Patriots already have what York is desperately fighting for — that elusive playoff berth — Somerset and manager Sparky Lyle undoubtedly plan to put up quite the fight this weekend.

So the Revs can count on having their hands full. And their performance in this series, while still early in the second half, could be the start of York’s demise or success. Three losses or a sweep to the Patriots would put York in dire straits heading toward the stretch run. But just as importantly, York finally needs to take a series from a top division foe with authority to prove itself as a contender.

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Will Redman ever see the majors again?

Editor’s Note: The Revolution welcome Long Island to town for a three-game series at Sovereign Bank Stadium starting Friday night. Notes on Series 19 appear below.

It has almost been a full year since Tike Redman reminded us just how special the Atlantic League can be.

We all know the story. The former York Revolution outfielder played seven games with York, tore the cover off the ball against Atlantic League pitching, and was quickly scooped up by the Orioles. He then put in a solid stint at Triple-A Norfolk and found himself prowling the outfield at Camden Yards and facing the likes of Boston’s Dice-K Matsuzaka.

It was a magicaly story. But here’s the real question: Will Redman ever get the chance to repeat it?

Redman (.274, 17 RBIs, 34 runs and six steals in 61 games for Norfolk entering Thursday) seemed like a lock to be a part of the O’s opening-day roster this spring, but that was before trades brought in Adam Jones and Luke Scott. Both players have performed admirably (Scott: .276, 12 homers, 30 RBIs; Jones: .260, 4 homers, 27 RBIs) and you can’t even consider Redman in the handful of Triple-A guys who might get called up later this summer. Luis Terrero (.276, 6 homers, 51 RBIs) is probably a better outfield option in the Orioles’ mind and utility men Scott Moore and Brandon Fahey offer the Birds more flexibility.

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Series 18: York @ Bridgeport

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

Imagine this type of work environment.

When you’re doing your job adequately, no one really notices — people rarely acknowledge you even exist.

But when you screw up, people become irate. Suddenly, you’re a bum. They start throwing around words like unemployment and termination. It gets to the point where you’re afraid to walk to your car in the parking lot at night.

So who lives this thankless life? A postal worker? A pizza delivery boy? The copy machine repair man?

No, we’re talking about professional umpires. And not the ones who pull in $300,000 a year at the Major League level. It’s minor league umpires — specifically ones who work in the Atlantic League — who are continually ragged on by fans and disrespected. Is the criticism fair? Well, this issue carries quite the debate.

First off, Atlantic League umpires are under a microscope lately after last week’s episode in which the York Revolution’s Jason Aspito went off on umpire Matt Beaver. Aspito bumped Beaver with his chest — an episode that led to a one-game suspension. But the incident also raised concerns about the overall quality of umpires in the Atlantic League.

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Series 17: York @ Long Island

As the York Revolution roster came together during the offseason, no one questioned what the Revs’ strength would be in 2008.

We all thought it would be the pitching staff.

York started the year with seven former major leaguers between the starting rotation and the bullpen and dreams of a team ERA title floated through everyone’s mind. But in the Atlantic League, nothing is for certain. And thanks to early-season injuries to starters Landon Jacobsen and Pete Munro, York’s starting rotation — and as a result, the bullpen — has been in disarray since Day 1.

Aaron Rakers, a career reliever who appeared to be a quality bullpen arm, was placed in the starting rotation and although he’s eaten up innings, the experiment hasn’t gone well. Rakers was 1-5 with a 6.02 ERA as a starter entering Thursday night’s outing (five innings, two earned runs, seven strikeouts). And the Revs had to endure a brief injury to Aaron Myette, the tumultuous start of Corey Thurman and the losses of Wayne Franklin (Mexico) and Dave Gassner (Red Sox). How’s that for tough luck?

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Series 16: Bridgeport @ York

The debate has been an on-going saga since the winter months. And it’s a question that if answered correctly could very easily solve the York Revolution’s offensive woes.

Who should the Revs’ No. 3 hitter be?

Obviously, I’ve dedicated a lot of time to this subject. Maybe I’ve overdone it. But the fact that manager Chris Hoiles still hasn’t settled on a No. 3 hitter almost 50 games into the Atlantic League season tells us all something. York just doesn’t have that type of guy on its current roster.

But a huge part of the Atlantic League is adapting to tough situations. When players leave for affiliated ball or when others are lost to injury, you have to adapt. So that’s what York is faced with — it must find a hitter who can fill in out of position in the No. 3 spot.

So who should it be? Here are York’s corresponding records with various No. 3 hitters this year: Matt Esquivel (0-2), Matt Padgett (9-14), Matt Dryer (3-9), Tyler Von Schell (2-2), Jake Daubert (0-2), Jason Aspito (2-1), Sandy Aracena (1-1), Chris Ashby (1-0).

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Series 12: Southern Maryland @ York

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

Atlantic League players are usually very resourceful fellows.

They have to be. Independent baseball money doesn’t come close to paying the bills — especially if you have a family to worry about. So players improvise.

Some work performing manual labor. Others lead baseball instruction clinics. Most of the time, it’s whatever offseason job pays the most so they can afford to keep playing baseball seven months out of the year.

But Chris Ashby is a little different. One of his jobs entails something that many baseball players don’t come close to qualifying for.

He’s a part-time model and actor.

Ashby, 33, a 15-year veteran of the minor leagues and the latest addition to the York Revolution, is 6-foot-3 with movie star, jet-black hair and a smile that’s easy on the eyes. So naturally, he went to a talent agency to explore modeling/acting opportunities this winter after no major league organization came calling.

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