Ballad of the Blue Jay

I usually take the time to write the final column of the year to congratulate the victors and run down the season’s spoils and the trials of the trek to the trophy.

But this year, I must sway from tradition. For the Holden Blue Jays remain mere millimeters from a momentous milestone, yet miles from their ultimate goal after a 5-3 defeat to the Rosalind Athletics, who won their second straight PBL title.

This author has been a part of 3 (let’s call it 3 1/2) championship teams and two runner-ups. I may remember the two second places better than the three wins – and it’s not pleasant. The pain and agony of defeat still firmly in the pit of my stomach. I know my teammates, too.

So to see the Holden Blue Jays play well enough to win their first final in four appearances, while also seeing the Rosalind Athletics prove why they are such a scrappy bunch. And vice versa. Was a treat.

To lose four times in seven years and keep coming back and succeeding and coming so close may be harder than winning once, twice, three times a lady. A total tip of the hat to the Holden Blue Jays. Just keeping a team together for that long, through that many games is a feat. It would have been special to see the Blue Jays leap over that final hurdle. But maybe the baseball God’s have something more special to come. The lessons and bitter taste of defeat, lasting longer and giving breath to the meaning of team and brotherhood.

It looked like they had it. A wild game two followed by a back-and-forth game three. The bases loaded in the final frame. Rosalind seeming to bend, and potentially break like it had, too, so many times in the BRBL before entering the PBL. (All Star game recap still to come).

The Blue Jays have had three different foes in those four finals. Three of the four going to game three, and decided by a grand total of 5 runs (5-3, 3-2 and 5-3).

Tip your hat to the A’s and buy a drink. But this author is also saluting the Jays. I have confidence they’ll be back. It might not be next year, but it will come. Stick with it. And until then, congratulations to the Rosalind Athletics. You’re consistency will be tested next year when all the teams retool and gun for you and your shiny loot.

Posted in Buzzilinear, Holden Blue Jays, Rosalind Athletics

UPDATE: Finals experience aplenty in A’s-Jays matchup

With this author going 1-1 in the semis, the Rosalind Athletics made good, while the Holden Blue Jays upset the Tofield Lakers in the best-of-three showdown to make their fourth PBL final.

Tuesday, Aug. 1

  • Holden at Rosalind

Tuesday, Aug. 3

  • Rosalind at Holden

Tuesday, Aug. 8

  • Holden at Rosalind (If Necessary)

Both teams know how to make it to championships. Both also know what that feeling in the stomach when they lose. The Rosalind Athletics lost many, many times to the Heisler Cardinals in the Battle River League before making a move to the PBL. They then lost their first championship here as well. The difference is, parts of the group had won one championship in the BRBL and then last year, when it looked like they may blow it again, they pulled off a gutsy 19-inning game-three win versus the Armena Royals for their PBL crown.

Head-to-head this season: Holden 2-0

Blue Jays 12 – Rosalind 9 (July 6 in Rosalind)
Blue Jays 10 – Rosalind 7 (July 18 in Holden)

With the A’s reaching a final for the ninth straight time, they don’t seem to be tiring. They cruised through the semi-final matchup against the retooled Milleteers and look poised for their fourth title in nine tries.

Standing in their way are the Holden Blue Jays. The team is different than those heartbreaking years of losing in the final and missing the playoffs, only to reappear and then lose in the finals again. 2011, 2013 and 2014 the Blue Jays tasted bitterness like no other. Even though they were swept by Leduc during their five-time run, all the games were decided by one run. Then, in the crazy 2014 final, after a crazy series to get there versus Armena, they lost another one-run game in the deciding tilt.

One one side, a team can say they learned through defeat how to become a champion. On the other side, they may be epitomizing it if they can pull it off this year.

The A’s seem rested and ready for a repeat. But something is different with this year’s Holden team. They may have finally recognized their hothead ways were getting in the way. They slayed an experienced squad in the semis after falling behind in the series – something they hadn’t had to deal with much in the past. Ya never know… maybe this is the year.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

With the playoffs roaring into the picture starting for the first time in this author’s memory, just a day after the final regular season game, here’s a look at the series and the schedule:

Thursday, July 20

  • Leduc at Rosalind
  • Holden at Tofield

Tuesday, July 25

  • Rosalind at Leduc
  • Tofield at Holden

Thursday, July 27

  • Leduc at Rosaind (If Necessary)
  • Holden at Tofield (If Necessary)

Leduc (4)┬ávs. Rosalind (1) – Series 2-1 for Rosalind, 6-5; 3-13; 3-13

Well look at that, here come the Milleteers again. This time in an unfamiliar spot in the playoffs as a full-fledged underdog.After winning the first matchup in Leduc the Milleteers have been blown out against the defending champions. I see no reason why this won’t be the case in this series either. Although the Milleteers have done well to become a playoff team again through rebuilds and acquisition of dispersal draft players, the Rosalind A’s have a little tank left in those aging arms and legs to make a run for their third straight PBL final.

Prediction: Rosalind wins series 2-0. Only chance Milleteers have is they can steal game one and take the old guys to that crazy field by the highway where planes and cars dominate the ambiance.

Holden (3) vs. Tofield (2) – Series 1-1 tie, 7-5; 3-11

The Holden Blue Jays have tricked this author for many years with their stellar defense and young arms, legs and tempers. During the season, the team came unglued, not an uncommon thing for this franchise, and it has cost them at least a couple championships over the years that to me, seemed like destiny. Maybe now that I am discounting them they will finally prove me and everyone else wrong. Here’s some motivation – I doubt it.

Prediction: Tofield wins series 2-1 after Holden takes game one and leads heading into the seventh in game two.

Posted in Buzzilinear, Holden Blue Jays, Leduc Milleteers, PBL, Rosalind Athletics, Tofield Braves

UPDATE: Rosalind clinches, Awaits Opponent

UPDATE: The Rosalind Athletics have clinched the regular season pennant with Holden losing to the Leduc Milleteers on Thursday night.

The playoff picture still isn’t set though, with Holden having one remaining game to see if they finish third or fourth. Since Leduc won both regular season games against Holden, the Blue Jays now have to win to get the third spot and play Tofield in the first round.

  • If Holden loses final game to Rosalind: Rosalind vs. Holden and Tofield vs. Leduc
  • If Holden wins final game against Rosalind: Rosalind vs. Leduc and Tofield vs. Holden

The Rosalind Athletics look poised for their first PBL pennant as the regular season champion. The only sticky wicket left is the Holden Blue Jays who took the first game between the two teams and could run the table to end up tied for first and win the tiebreaker.

The A’s have now been in the final twice and won last year in their first two years in the league. Standing in their way will not only be the perennial playoff burnouts – the Holden Blue Jays – but the newly formed Tofield Braves, and a name from the past we haven’t seen in a while. Former five-time champion Leduc. Welcome back.

This year was the first year in this author’s recollection where the playoff races ended before they began. With the Armena Royals losing so many close games early and never rebounding and the Roadrunners hitting a midseason wall, coupled with the new kids on the block in Sherwood Park getting an unwarm welcome, the four playoff foes were set many weeks ago in folks’ minds long before it was mathematically confirmed.

Tonight much could be decided. The A’s could sew up first place if the Royals can play spoiler at home versus the Jays while the Milleteers and Braves battle it out in Leduc.

Stay tuned for some playoff previews. It’s gonna get more exciting. Trust me.

All Star Rosters and Picks Needed

Also, President Bret Keohane needs your all-star picks! The game on Aug. 8 will be the 17th Edition of the PBL-BRBL Harry Andreassen Challenge.

Past Harry Andreassen Challenge Scores and Recaps:


Posted in Buzzilinear, PBL, Rosalind Athletics