It finally happened. When Dave Veres induced Bobby Bonilla to ground out Vizquel to Baqwell, the inevitable finally happened. The much storied Evanston Vedder franchise is going to the playoffs! For the first time, this franchise which is known as the Boston Red Sox of the Summer League, will be going to the playoffs. Today's 9-3 victory over the up and coming Marlboro team sealed a playoff bid for Evanston, on the strength of their 73-70 record, with just tomorrow's matinee left in the season.
Like most of the victories this year, it was a strong team effort that did it today--two hits each for 8th and 9th hitters Rodriguez and Vizquel, two hits including a 2-run homer for John Jaha, three team stolen bases without being caught, and strong work out of the bullpen by Ruffin, Tavarez and Veres, the workhorse. There are no 15 game winners on this team, yet all the starters won 10 or more. No reliever had 10 saves, but they all contributed. Only two batters had more than 20 homers, and only one regular hit .300 or better. When asked how his team did it, Owner Chris Klein said, "This team ran better than most. They will probably lead the league in steals and they will have the fewest GIDPs. You can't put a price on having a runner on second rather than first."
This is a franchise known for instablity if nothing else. They annually relocate, usually to some location picked seemingly out of the blue. They also lead the league every year in trades made. This is a fact that obviously has not been lost on the ownership. "We tried not to panic this year. We got off to a slow start, and were never even 4 games over .500 until game 139. We were very confident in our free agent acquisitions Jaha, Ruffin, and super-sub BJ Surhoff. The only trade was to solidify our defense and give some other guys more quality playing time. Losing Ventura hurt us, but it opened the door for Mark Lewis and Keith Lockhart. People may say that expansion is the reason we made the playoffs this year, I say we'll see you on the field."
Look out for this team in the playoffs. They have a deep, durable bullpen, a few outstanding offensive players, a potentially strong defense, and a bunch of guys that just give 110% every game. If the playoffs ever come, this may be a tough team to beat.