Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Yesterday’s News: It was worth every minute

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015


Top minor league pitching prospect Duane Underwood needed to have an MRI on Tuesday because of discomfort in his right pitching elbow. Underwood is currently in Myrtle Beach with the high a Pelicans and is rated as the Cubs 10th best prospect, so a possible elbow injury that could  be serious enough to sideline him for a year or more because of Tommy John surgery is pretty scary. Shutting him down for the season was also a possibility, but after MRI results came back yesterday revealing swelling, but no structural damage, the Cubs announced that they do not plan to shut him down at this point, which is a relief. He’ll get some rest before he starts throwing again, as his last start with Myrtle Beach was on Saturday. I was glad to see yesterday that he doesn’t, at least for now, look like he’ll need extended time off or Tommy John surgery, and hopefully they have caught the problem before it could have developed into something much worse.


I still scratch my head a bit at the fact that Manny Ramirez has the role with the team that he does. Not because I disagree with it, but because I never, ever would have seen it coming during his playing days. Apparently though, he’s been nothing but good for the team, and particularly for Starlin Castro. I have also heard that his work with Javier Baez has been especially important as well. Ramirez was one of the game’s best hitters in his day, so I can’t complain about him spending time with guys like Castro and Baez and helping them at the plate.

Speaking of roles on the team that have turned out differently than I would have expected, Jason Motte is the closer. At least for now. Motte has the pedigree for that role, but when Hector Rondon showed some struggles, I would have guessed that it would be Pedro Strop who would take that role. Motte hasn’t officially been named the closer, but Joe Maddon has said that he likes him in that spot, so he might get the title at some point.


If you watched the whole series opener in New York against the Mets last night, than kudos to you. In spite of my wife’s objections, we stuck it out through the end. Not that the game was that long, but a 0-0 tie that goes into extra innings is hardly riveting for most people. And Matt Forte was on a recorded episode of Celebrity Family Feud, so we had things to get to, you know. But, even without large quantities of runs being scored, it was a relief to see Jon Lester pitch as well as he did. So far, Lester has not quite been what I had hoped for, but I am happy to grant him a little grace for a while. Switching to a new team and a new league is a huge adjustment, and he’s been mostly good.

In the 11th, Castro ended up being the hero, as he drove in Anthony Rizzo for the game’s first run. Miguel Montero tacked on an insurance run just after that, sending Chris Coghlan in to score. From there, Justin Grimm took care of getting the save in the bottom of the 11th, as Motte had already been used in the 9th.

This afternoon, the Cubs will send Jake Arrieta against Jacob deGrom for the series finale.


1934: At Wrigley Field, veteran ump Bill Klem’s delayed call of the infield fly rule leads the Cardinals to protest their game with the Cubs. The game is suspended with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Cubs ahead 5-1, and will be completed on the last day of the month with St. Louis losing with the final score of 7-4.

1967: After Chicago’s 4-1 victory over Cincinnati at Wrigley Field, many of the 40,464 patrons stay in the ballpark awaiting the outcome of the Cards/Mets game. When the results are posted with a New York win, which puts the Cubs in first place by half of a game, the enthusiastic fans refuse to leave the ‘Friendly Confines’ until the flags above the scoreboard are changed, a task usually done the next day, to reflect the home team’s position at the top of the standings.

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How Would You Improve the Cubs Before July 31?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Last night the Cubs got a win. We saw a great outing from Kyle Hendricks, little to no offense again, and a save by Jason Motte. There is a lot there to talk about. Tomorrow I have a post going up with what I want to see from the Cubs in the month of July when it comes to improving the team before the deadline. Until then, I want to hear what you would suggest to Theo and Jed to improve this team. Be realistic and specific. Don’t just say “get another starting pitcher”. If you were hired as a consultant, make a few recommendations. Perhaps they don’t even involve bringing in someone from outside the organization. Be creative and make some suggestions.

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Minor League Update: Lower levels shining

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


Cubs first round pick Ian Happ has really wasted no time at all since being drafted. He signed quickly (and under slot), joined the short season Eugene Emeralds in time for their opener on June 18, and already has 3 homeruns and 3 stolen bases in just 10 games there so far. Fellow 2015 draftee Donnie Dewees has also made his debut with Eugene, but he has appeared in just 2 games so far. The stay in Eugene could be a fairly short one for Happ, so  keep an eye out for a promotion to South Bend sometime in July. He has the potential to move very quickly through the system, so seeing him finish the season in high A Myrtle Beach would not surprise me. Happ has two years of college baseball under his belt, so that kind of quicky movement through the single A level is possible, and then longer stays in AA and AAA when the time comes. Either way, keep an eye on the Eugene box scores, and if you live in that area, go see a game soon.


Speaking of players who you should make a point to go see, 18 year old shortstop Gleyber Torres is doing everything he can to earn a promotion to Myrtle Beach from South Bend. If, like me, you live in the Chicago area, a trip around the lake to South Bend might be a good idea, so you can see this guy in person. If Happ gets promoted there soon, having both of these guys on the same team is probably going to force my hand, and I’ll be making a trip there to see a game. Torres has a .319/.385/.411 slash line so far, and has 10 stolen bases in his 65 games this season. Of his 79 hits, 11 are doubles and 2 are triples to go with 2 homeruns, so he hits for extra bases pretty nicely.

South Bend pitcher Jeremy Null has had a quality season so far as well, with a 2.33 ERA and 1.096 WHIP in 12 starts, in which the South Bend Cubs have gone 6-2. Null was named to the Midwest League All Star game, and was chosen as the MVP of the game, after striking out the side in the first inning during the all star game last Tuesday. (Be sure to check out the link, as there are several videos of his performance in that game. Worth watching.)


Though I understand the planning behind Kyle Schwarber‘s brief promotion to the majors and then return to the farm system, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still wish there was a way to have kept him in the majors, but that’s probably short sighted. It’s hard watching the Cubs get swept in St. Louis, of all places, and not think about how a bat like Schwarber’s might have helped. Nonetheless, his long term development really hinges on learning to be a full time catcher, which is exactly why he’s in Iowa. Since joining the team a little over a week ago, Schwarber went right to work at the plate, with a homerun, a triple, and 2 doubles in just 6 games so far. He will undoubtedly return to the Cubs with roster expansion in September, but if he can do well enough behind the plate in Iowa, an earlier callup than that is a possibility.


It would be overly speculative of me to really throw any names out there, but as the calendar rolls over into July tomorrow, keep an eye on the trade market. The Cubs are a contending team, and it is clear that the NL Central is never going to be easy on them this year, so some additions are definitely necessary. Because of that, some of these touted minor league prospects that we’ve fallen in love with might be leaving our system. Guys like Dan Vogelbach and Albert Almora come up in talks about acquring Cole Hamels, so be prepared for a steep price tag along those lines. Vogelbach seems like the most likely candidate to be moved, as he is major league ready at the plate, but his defense is sorely lacking (he’s a born DH, I suspect). The one position he does play serviceably, first base, is occupied for a long time to come by Anthony Rizzo. So, if I have to guess who is a part of a trade package first, it’s Vogelbach. He’s a great hitter, but I just don’t think we’ll ever see him do it in a Cubs uniform. If he can be a part of a trade that gets us into the playoffs this year, then I’m fine with that.



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Looking Back at Week 11 of MLB

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Cole Hamels has a change of heart, Nolan Arenado breaks out the long ball and another aspect of Major League Baseball undergoes a change. Week 11 knocked at least one team out of contention, so let’s recap:

Stanton Injury Hurts Marlins’ Chances

The Marlins’ have had an up and down season thus far (mostly down), and most of their downs have been comical. Their management decisions and blunders have been exposed in detail, and they have been a large reason for the Marlins’ 31-46 season. The final nail may have been hammered into the coffin, though, as star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton broke a bone in his left hand, and will be sidelined for the next four to six weeks. Even with Stanton, Miami ranked in the bottom third of nearly every significant offensive category, including home runs, runs batted in and runs. Prior to his injury, Stanton had lead all of baseball in home runs and RBI’s. It is hard to imagine the Marlins pulling themselves into contention at this point, especially since they are playing in the improving National League East.

Changes Coming to Home Run Derby

The Home Run Derby has undergone changes that will alter seemingly the entire operation of the event. Instead of being a matter of a player hitting until amassing 10 outs, players will now have five minutes to hit as many home runs as they can. Additional changes include that now the tournament will be head to head, as well as single elimination. There are even more changes and technicalities, but we won’t get into those. The changes to the Derby fit along with the other improvements that Commissioner Rob Manfred has made to baseball, such as the pace rules. The Manfred regime is attempting to make baseball shorter, faster and more exciting, and making the Home Run Derby a race against the clock makes sense in accordance with that agenda.

Hamels Opening Up Trade Possibilities 

The trade deadline is fast approaching, and the buyers and sellers are separating themselves in the standings. With that being the case, the Phillies are a long way from contending, and have been rumored for months to be actively shopping ace Cole Hamels. The price tag has been reported as being astronomically high, and Hamels has a list of just nine teams that he can be traded to without his consent. Recently, though, Hamels has had something of a change of heart, and is willing to consider nearly anyone. He recently stated in an interview that he is open to “everybody and everything”, which should vastly improve the trade market for the 31-year-old lefty. It is anyone’s guess as to why Hamels is suddenly open to any change, but it might not be a stretch to think he is tired of losing. Hamels was drafted by Philadelphia in 2002, and has spent his entire career in the city of brotherly love. He is in the middle of a seven year, $159 million contract that runs through 2018.

Rookie Watch

One significant contender in the Rookie of the Year chase has been effectively taken out of the race. Recently called up Twins’ super prospect Byron Buxton sprained his thumb, and will be on the shelf for approximately six weeks recovering. The race in the National League will likely come down to Kris Bryant and Joc Pederson, but several players are making things interesting. Diamondbacks’ outfielder is now third among all rookies in hits with 64 (two behind Bryant) and Dodgers’ third baseman Alexander Guerrero is third among rookies in home runs with 10. Phillies’ third baseman Maikel Franco is tied with Guerrero, also with 10.

Cubs Struggle in Saint Louis

A sweep in Saint Louis hurts, but is not all that surprising considering how well the Cardinals have been playing this season. Splitting with the Dodgers seemed to be a positive outcome heading into the Cardinals series, but all of that positivity goes out the window when the team falls into a five game losing streak. The return of Neil Ramirez will undoubtedly help the bullpen, and should pay immediate dividends. On the same note, Jorge Soler is about to begin his rehab assignment, and the Cubs are undoubtedly champing at the bit to get his bat back in the lineup. 11.5 games out of first with several weeks until the All Star break, it would certainly be nice to see the Cubs get healthy and gain some momentum before gearing up for the final stretch. The next stretch of games pits the Cubs against the NL East, with the Mets playing host for a three game stretch starting on Tuesday, and the Cubs return home for a series against the Marlins following the New York trip.

MVP of the Week: Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado has eight home runs over his last seven games. The former top prospect is having a breakout season, now sitting fifth in the baseball in home runs, as well as ranking second in baseball in runs batted in.

Cy Young of the Week: Madison Bumgarner allowed four runs over 15 innings and struck out 22 over the last week. Maybe that line doesn’t live up to what Max Scherzer did last week, but it is undeniably solid.

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Yesterday’s News: There’s a Roach in the House!

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Donn Roach made his second career start, pitching in place of Wada last night. It was peppered with good things and bad things, as per usual for the Cubs. For some reason this Cardinals team just can’t be beat, as they are the first team to 50 wins this season.

The Good:

Donn Roach hit an RBI single that wound up being the Cubs’ only run on the night. Nobody was injured! Fun Fact: On Saturday, Roach became the 1,999th player to appear in a game for the Cubs.

The Bad:

Double plays. So many double plays. It seems like no matter where the Cubs put the ball, a defender was there. There were some good rips but there was better defense. Our defense looked a tad shaky, especially in the center field region. Fowler seems to be favoring his ankle still, and it was especially evident while he was tracking the balls hit to him. The offense has been struggling mightily in the last four games, and consequently they’ve lost their last four games.

Closing thoughts:

Michael Wacha (AKA Adam Wainwright, Jr.) became the second NL starter to reach double-digit wins, even though he took a liner off the quadriceps (good try, Starlin). Even though the Cubs are struggling right now, they will bounce back. They have been bouncing back all season, and doing it in style. It’s just too bad they have to slump against St. Louis when they should be gaining ground on them. But have no fear, Bryant, Rizzo, and Russell will break out, our pitching will line up (Neil Ramirez is rumored to be reinstated today), and the W flag will wave again soon.

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My Quick Thoughts on Pete Rose

Friday, June 26th, 2015


The older I get, the more I realize that baseball, while I love it, is not all that important in the grand scheme of things. So, to be obsessed over whether or not Pete Rose deserves to be reinstated to the game or voted into the hall of fame, to me, seems silly. I posted that on Twitter and got some less than favorable responses, as you might expect, but when you think about it, it really doesn’t affect us at all. Why do we care so much?

If you pin me down and make me choose a side, I will say that I think Pete deserves the punishment he has received because he has broken the first rule they teach you when you’re in the game. If you walk into a clubhouse, it’s clearly posted for all to see. He knew he took a risk when he did it, and doesn’t like the consequences of the result. To make matters worse, he has never truly been honest with everyone until more comes out, and then he admits to that. He’s a slimeball and I am fine with him being banned from baseball. Now, that said, I think he deserves a shot to be elected to the hall of fame, and here is why. The Baseball Hall of Fame is not directly affiliated with MLB. It is a completely separated entity, though it basically works in lock step with MLB and it’s wishes. Personally, if we put Pete on the ballot and let the writers decide, we could end the discussion.

News Nuggets

  • Kyle Schwarber and C.J. Edwards (I refuse to call him Carl), have been selected to participate in the Futures game during All Star Weekend.
  • The Cubs announced more draft pick signings yesterday, including Donnie Dewees, the 2nd round pick


1960 – With help of Ron Santo‚ making his major league debut‚ the Cubs sweep a doubleheader from first-place Pittsburgh, 7-5 and 7-6. The rookie third baseman goes 3-for-7, driving in five runs during the twin bill at Forbes Field.

1966 – Ron Santo is struck in the face by a pitch thrown by Mets’ starter Jack Fisher. The Cubs third baseman’s fractured cheek, which will be operated on tomorrow, ends his record consecutive streak at the hot corner at 390 games, but his 27-game hitting streak, one shy of the franchise mark, stays intact with a first-inning single.

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GirlieView (06/25/2015)

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2015 Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.


  • After a lot of debate, I’ve decided to scrap the game recap concept.
  • But something inside me tells me interleague play is just plain not right.
  • I don’t like the regional match ups of interleague play. Everyone in the division should play the same numbers of games against the same interleague opponents. It is unfair to have 1 team play 6 games against a 1st place team and have another team in your division play 6 games against the last place team.
  • These bullpen rules these managers live by can be improved.
  • Maybe the fans should just sing with no guest conductor.
  • Put me down as having a healthy dose of Schlitter angst but the guy got the job done last night.
  • Put me in that column too.
  • I feel your Schilling pain…and Edwin Jackson pain…and Schlitter pain…and Jason Mott pain…and Billy Hamilton pain. How can you walk Billy Hamilton in the top of the tenth in a tie game? Jackson might as well have talked to the ump when he came up and spotted him a triple.
  • I Schlitt my pants when I saw Schlitter was recalled.
  • Why on Earth do the Reds pitch to Castro in that spot. Glad they did, but going after Baxter seems like a no-brainer.
  • Maybe they got Cubs’ top prospects Baxter and Bryant confused. That would actually explain something.
  • This is an easy mix up, most of the same letters.
  • FBI investigating Cards for hacking Astros. Kind of has that Patriots feel to it.
  • Seems a lot worse to me. The FBI never initiated an investigation against the Patriots for their alleged rule-breaking. What the Cardinals are alleged to have done is a federal crime; not some minor blight on the integrity of the game.
  • Our bullpen has looked very strong lately, but having [Ramirez] return would mean Brian Schlitter would be less necessary as the automatic call up when we need bullpen help.
  • Break the law, you don’t get to be offended when people mock your stupidity.
  • someone from the Cardinals FO should be doing federal time.
  • Forget the front office – I vote for Yadier Molina – he’s a Cub killer and should do time for it.
  • His neck tattoo makes me think he’s probably already done some time. Or at the very least wouldn’t be uncomfortable doing time now.
  • I don’t even know what I’m having for breakfast this morning, let alone who might make the Hall of Fame one day.
  • If someone mentions Back to the Future I know they aren’t a real fan.
  • It seems quite likely that the Cubs will make a move of some kind before July 31, as they have maintained a very real shot at contending.
  • Philosophical thought: If one is already of unsound mind, can they go, or be driven crazy?
  • Really hoping Caesar can stay up for a while…still think he’d be sort of a monster in an everyday role.
  • Big fan of the salad dressing dude too.
  • Sucks to be Mike Olt.
  • Snagged another from LA.. you guys thinking this team has moxie? I’m sensing some moxie.
  • I don’t know about moxie but they sure are a bunch of gamers with some grit.
  • I’m pretty sure Grienke leads the majors with the lowest H/N W Diff. That’s Head to Neck Width Differential. Seriously, his head and neck form two parallel lines.


  • Crazy how much more palatable the late innings are this year.

Shout Outs

  • No one had their very first 2015 Season Lizzie this time so let’s have a shout out for everyone! Thanks for being here!


  • Congratulations to jswanson, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go jswan!

Top 10 of the 2015 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Eddie von White
2. Seymour Butts
3. Doc Raker
4. Jedi
5. Joe Aiello
6. jswanson
7. Dork
8. Doug S.
9. Buddy
10. Bryan

Chit Chat

  • During Tuesday’s game, a fan leaned over the rolled tarp and caught a foul ball. Remember? (How could you NOT remember, what with the ridiculous amount of coverage it received? More than the game itself, in fact.) What was your gut feeling about his actions?
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Yesterday’s News: Turner shut down, winning streak ends

Thursday, June 25th, 2015


Much of the news of the day yesterday came from the fact that Tsuyoshi Wada‘s status for his Saturday start against the Cardinals is uncertain. He was still feeling some discomfort, so it is sounding like he might have to miss the start. It seems like someone might have to be called up from the minors to fill in for Wada, and for a bit I was hoping that would be Pierce Johnson, but that is probably a long shot. Another possibility is Donn Roach, who has been doing a pretty nice job as a starter in AAA this year, but I couldn’t help but wonder if Edwin Jackson or Travis Wood might get a shot at it. I would prefer that Wood do it of the two of them, but both have pitched well in their roles as relievers. Ultimately, it is frustrating that this is happening in a series against the Cardinals, as this weekend will be a very valuable opportunity to potentially gain some ground on them in the standings.


Jacob Turner saw his comeback attempt slowed again as he experienced some elbow discomfort yesterday and was shut down indefinitely. This only increased the level of speculation for Saturday, as Turner would have been a very nice option for that start otherwise. Turner, who hasn’t pitched for the Cubs since last season, had been doing well in his minor league rehab assignment, even throwing 5 scoreless innings for AA Tennessee on Sunday. That was his second start for the Smokies, and now it could be a long time before he throws again.


So it wasn’t much of a winning streak, but after winning 4 in a row, I was really hoping that could have continued last night. Unfortunately, the Dodgers got to Kyle Hendricks with the long ball early, and we never really got close after that. It was a pair of homeruns in the 3rd inning from Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner that did the Cubs in, even though we were able to pull the game within 2 runs in the 5th inning because of an Addison Russell double and an Anthony Rizzo sacrifice (I don’t think he was credited with an RBI on the play because he grounded into a double play, but it did score a run). Dexter Fowler‘s status is still day to day as he did not start last night, but came in to pinch hit after James Russell pitched the 6th inning. The Cubs have a chance to win the 4 game series this afternoon with Jon Lester on the mound.


 1937: Augie Galan becomes the first National Leaguer to hit a homer from each side of the plate. The switch-hitter’s pair of round-trippers, a homer from the left side off Freddie Fitzsimmons in the fourth frame and from the right side in the eighth against Ralph Birkofer, helps the Cubs beat Brooklyn at Wrigley Field, 11-2.

1950: Hank Sauer enjoys a 4-for-4 day at the plate, stroking two home runs and two doubles. The 33 year-old All-Star outfielder’s 12 total bases help the Cubs defeat Philadelphia at Shibe Park, 11-8.

1998: Sammy Sosa breaks the major league record for homers in a single month when he hits his 19th dinger in June, a seventh inning solo shot off Brian Moehler in the Cubs’ 6-4 loss to Detroit at Tiger Stadium. The Chicago slugger surpasses the mark set by Rudy York, the Tigers’ rookie catcher who finished with 18 after homering twice on the last day in August in 1937 at the same ballpark when it was known as Navin Field.

2007: A distraught fan jumps onto the field and charges the mound toward Bob Howry after the Cub reliever blows an 8-3 ninth-inning lead to Colorado at Wrigley Field. The fan will be make it a few feet from his intended target before security guards tackled him, and the right-hander will get the win when Alfonso Soriano hits a game-ending two-run single in the bottom of the frame to give Chicago an improbable 10-9 victory.

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Yesterday’s News: Denorfia saves the day, Fowler is back

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015


Both Tsuyoshi Wada and Dexter Fowler left Monday’s game early, Wada with cramps in his left shoulder and Fowler with an ankle injury. Fowler was considered day to day going into the game, but he was able to make a pinch hitting appearance in last night’s game, so it seems like he might be ready to get the start tonight. Otherwise, Wada’s status is less clear. He expressed that he thinks he can make his next start on Saturday, but the injury may prompt the Cubs to seek out a trade partner to fortify their pitching staff. A deal involving Cole Hamels seems more and more likely, given that the Cubs are still very much in contention in the National League, and would have a wild card spot if the season ended today. Another target on their radar might be David Price, but he seems much more like an off season acquisition, given that the Tigers are unlikely to want to trade him as they are in contention themselves. Who knows, if the wheels come off in Detroit, that might change.


I thought this was just kind of strange. While it turns out that Cubs fans do pretty well grammar-wise, we are not as smart as those sage and scholarly White Sox fans (that’s what they’re all known for, right?), but to be honest, I don’t see the point behind a study like this. Maybe seomone else can help me make sense of why anyone would spend their time analyzing (let alone reading at all) the comments section anywhere. Except here, of course. But, while we are not as learned as those south siders, apparently, we can take heart that we are at least in the top 5.


How about the walk offs? They sure are fun when they go our way, and they seem to have done that a lot this season. Last night was a fun game if you like pitching and unlikely heroes. After the short night from Wada on Monday, it was a relief to see Jason Hammel have such a nice outing. 7.2 innings with just 2 hits and 6 strikeouts. You really couldn’t have asked for more from him for the bullpen’s sake. I am beginning to wonder if Hector Rondon has been quietly bumped from the closer’s spot, as the was brought in to finish the 8th inning before Pedro Strop handled the 9th. And, interestingly enough, Jason Motte again pitched the final inning of the game as the Cubs went into extras, ultimately getting the win. Chris Denorfia finished off the game in the 10th inning with a sacrifice fly that brought Matt Szczur in to score.



No Cubs news, but I did find this interesting story involving what was then a Cubs single A affiliate. I vaguely remember hearing about this event, but hadn’t seen the video.

2008: The Chiefs and Dragons bench-clearing brawl, which results in 15 players being ejected, although some will be allowed back into the game so that the teams could complete the Midwest League contest, starts when Peoria right-hander Julio Castillo fires a ball toward the Dayton dugout, causing both teams to charge the Fifth Third Field. The 20 year-old Dominican starter will be arrested on a felony assault charge because his errant throw ricochets into the crowd, hitting a male fan.

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