September 25, 2007 – Newark Bears Win Atlantic League Championship September 25, 2007Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
John Brandt’s Special Thank You: “To all the fans of the Atlantic League and the Newark Bears that view and interact on this site…THANK YOU! My staff is grateful for your continued support and support of this site – it is a big part of the league and a big part of our fun. Thank you for the overly nice comments, but remember, I didn’t throw a pitch, hit or field a ball, or make a game decision – thankfully, we have a great staff for all that! Thank you again!” – John Brandt, General Manager of the 2007 Atlantic League Champion Newark Bears.
Newark Bears – 2007 Atlantic League Champions: The Newark Bears won Game Four and took the series, beating the Somerset Patriots three games to one to win the 2007 Atlantic League Championship.
Jose Herrera led the way, hitting three home runs and driving in six runs on his way to being named the Atlantic League Championship Series MVP, as voted on by the media and league officials.
Quotes: Here’s what some of the key Newark Bears in the series had to say after last night’s 13-7 win.
“It feels real good. This is the best group of guys I’ve ever played with — affiliated ball, wherever, it doesn’t matter. Up and down the lineup, somebody always came through.”
“This is my first (championship). This is my first time being on the field, I got moved up halfway through the season, and the team I left won.”
“In the beginning of the series, I was joking with the Latino guys that I was going to break Reggie Jackson’s (record), when he hit five home runs in the World Series.”
“Defining moments in your career. It pretty much just comes down to you do it or you don’t, and tonight, this is honestly what you dream about. The whole bottom of the inning, two outs, two strikes, their guy against us at home. He threw a fastball over the outer third, but I was standing all over the plate, and I got the good part of the bat on it and I hit it is hard as I could to center. I almost erupted when I got to second base, that’s what it’s all about. I was just so happy, but so happy for this team, because we’ve battled this whole year.”
“You can’t explain it. The people who have been in these situations and have excelled in these situations, they’re the only ones that can truly understand it. This feeling is like right now, nothing can go wrong. For us to put an eight spot up in that inning was just absolutely unbelievable and like I said, I’m just so happy for everyone.”
“I was sitting in the dugout, and I was thinking that I’ve got to have a better inning this inning, because I came in and didn’t do so well. So (Gomes) comes over to me and he goes, ‘You shut them down this inning, and we’re going to come back and we’re going to score some runs.’ And I turned to him and said, ‘I know.’ And that’s what he did, he came back and brought those runs in.”
“Any time you get a chance to play in the playoffs, it’s a wonderful feeling. We fought all year, we won the first half, and we knew we were going to be in the playoffs. We put ourselves in a situation where we can win ballgames. Everybody worked hard the whole year, and it’s wonderful to reap the benefits of all the hard work and finish the year wit a championship.”
“It was all the hard work that we put into this. We believed in our players the whole time. It’s a good feeling, for this organization especially.”
“In yesterday’s game, my head felt like it was ready to burst. There’s a lot of tension when you’re out there and you’re trying to put the right people in the right positions and make the right choices to succeed. Today, I felt very comfortable all game long, even when we were down a little bit. Things just worked out, I felt good about it the whole way.”
“Well, it’s pretty awesome. During the Long Island series, I wasn’t nervous, but I was a little more concerned. They’re a pretty experienced team, and they have some good players and some good pitchers. But we hit just good enough to get some runs and we pitched good enough to beat them in two close games. In this series, I knew we could hit and I knew we’d score runs, I just hoped we could hold them down enough to stay ahead. Man, these guys really turned it on in the eighth inning tonight.”
All Photos: Mike Ashmore
John Pachot and Wayne Krenchicki
Bears fans, some with tears in their eyes, celebrate the win
One of the Bears, who…
…cut off the ponytail of one of the groundskeepers
The head groundskeeper gets doused with champagne
Joe Klein presents the championship trophy to Bears owner Marc Berson
Newark’s players celebrate with the trophy
Even Newark’s long-time bus driver gets in on the action
A happy Matt Smith gets a ring in his comeback
Joey Gomes on top of the dugout, showing off his new hardware
Keith Reed and trainer Stacey Herrin
The Bears staff and Ruppert poses with the trophy
The championship banner is unveiled
Think Jim Cerny isn’t into this?
OK, still think Jim Cerny isn’t into this?
John Brandt celebrates on the field with family
In the clubhouse, Joey Gomes and Pat Peavey celebrate
Mark Woodyard, Jose Herrera and Matt Smith
(ATTN: Bears staff members and players…I know some of you check out this site. Please contact me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’d be happy to send you the full-sized pictures that you’re in. Just put “Bears” somewhere in the subject.)
Ashmore Analysis: Of the many things that need to be said here, first and foremost is my offering of congratulations to the Newark Bears players and staff. The Bears are truly a first-class organization, and it was great to see a lot of the people there get rewarded for their hard work throughout the season.
Also, congratulations to Dusty Bergman, whose aim with a champagne bottle in the clubhouse left me soaked and reeking of champagne for the ride home. Several other players got me as well, but he landed the big blow.
Suffice it to say, I was a little unable to make mustache cracks while trying to dodge the liquid being thrown at me.
In terms of the series itself, I think you could make just as strong of a case that the Patriots lost this series as you could for the Bears winning it.
It is admittedly easy to do so after losses, but I strongly questioned a lot of the moves made by the Patriots in this series, specifically the management of the pitching.
First and foremost, why are you trying to get eight innings out of Lincoln Mikkelsen on three days rest? He gave you seven so-so innings, but you were up 7-3. Where’s Paul Thorp for the eighth? Hell, where’s Paul Thorp period? Thorp inexplicably didn’t appear in the series.
But Sam Marsonek managed to get into a game, giving up a handful of runs during his ill-advised appearance in Game One.
Casey Cahill got into two, and his ERA in the series is a little too big for my calculator to handle as a result.
Saul Solveson, one of the team’s best relievers all season, faced a grand total of two batters in the series.
Closer R.D. Spiehs was used in the ninth inning of a seven-run blowout in Game Two, and then didn’t record an out when the game was on the line one day later.
Keith Ramsey didn’t pitch in the entire playoffs, with the team instead choosing to send three pitchers — Brian Adams, Brandon Knight and Mikkelsen — on three days rest.
Hector Almonte, who somewhat inexplicably pitched in the first three games of the series, came into Game Three in the eighth inning and promptly loaded the bases in a 4-4 game, a jam which Solveson needed two pitches to get out of.
Jason Richardson, who pitched surprisingly well in Game One in spite of the loss, did not appear again in the series.
But none of that would matter if the Bears didn’t make key plays when it counted, and it seemed like Newark’s lineup just never gave Patriots pitching a break. There is no easy out in that lineup — a result of affilated baseball’s ignoring the team’s position players and focusing on their pitching during the season.
Somerset’s clutch performances suffered, with the exception of an offensive outburst in Game Two.
Brandon Larson committed errors in each of the last three games of the series, Jason Romano hit 2-for-16, and Mike Lockwood seemed to misjudge a handful of fly balls that ended up going over his head when he initially broke in on them.
Todd Leathers, who was hitting 5-for-12 in the first three games, was nowhere to be found in the Game Four lineup.
It just seems like there were so many things that went wrong in this series for Somerset, that it’s easy to ignore the things that went right, although they were few and far between.
Sure, Larson made three errors, but he also hit two home runs, went 7-for-17 and drove in six of the team’s 25 runs.
Yeah, Adams went on three days rest, but he also gave the team its best outing, allowing just one run on five hits in Game Two.
But in the end, it was Newark who stepped up and did what they had to do.
Corey Smith, long loathed for his defense, played the best defense out of any player in the series by a mile, making dazzling play after dazzling play.
He also was my selection for series MVP. He was…
In the fateful eighth inning, the media was asked for their MVP votes. The choice came down to Jose Herrera and Smith. Noting Herrera’s two 0-fers in the series, and Smith’s stellar defense, I selected Smith and submitted my vote.
Herrera then parked one over the right field fence. Bears PR man Ed Clinton asked if I wanted to change my vote, and I quickly took the slip of paper back.
In the ninth, I rode the elevator with the many bottles of champagne that were eventually emptied on the field and in the Bears clubhouse.
But despite Somerset’s runner-up finish, it seems their elevator has nowhere to go but up in 2008… – Mike Ashmore