The first texts came Saturday night, telling me I would need to suit up for the Institute Cubs for Sunday’s game against Kolberg. A family emergency, a sudden illness and graduation events were going to pull reguler players out, leaving them without enough to field a team.
So, there I was Sunday morning, laying out the Institute uniform, ready to tackle one of the best teams in the league. Luckily, my uniform still fit, but my luck got even better when the team found someone else to fill the spot.
But it all made me think about the state of the league. Player shortages for the first few games of the season have always been common as teams wait for high school seasons to end or college players to return. But even then, teams still had players to take the field, so what has changed?
Years ago, the shipbuilding industry was thriving, and many young people stayed close to home to work. Now with the county relying more on the tourism industry and there being many more jobs to be had elsewhere, some fly the coop. So, because of that, you may see more and more old-timers donning the uniforms to help out in a pinch.
Speaking of numbers, the Swami was a paltry 2-2 last week, putting his season record at 15-5.
Week 6 Preview
West Jacksonport (3-2) @ Baileys Harbor (0-5)
The Ports saw their bats go cold and their three-game winning streak come to a screeching halt in a 2-1 loss to the Mets. Pitching was the question mark going into the season, but Luke Steebs has kept them in games, and the bat of youngster Jaeger Brusky is starting to wake up.
The As lost another lopsided game to Sister Bay on their home turf, and the Ports won’t be great medicine. A young team that sticks together will eventually start seeing results. It just won’t be this week.
Swami says: Ports
Maplewood (3-2) @ Institute (1-4)
I will not call the Mets’ win an upset last week because they’ve been in most every game. That’s because the team that went into the season thinking of pitching by committee has found a gem in Drew Price. The offense needs to pick it up, but the way Price is going, they may not have to.
For lack of a better word, the Cubs’ defense has been offensive. Granted, they had players out of position and first-timers playing as well, but you won’t win a lot of games when you have more errors than hits. Caleb Hoffman pitched well and kept a lot of balls from being hit hard, but the results weren’t there last week.
These two split last year with the away team winning both. Maybe the Friday-night lights will be the magic elixir for the Cubs.
Swami says: Cubs
Washington Island (4-1) @ Kolberg (4-1)
The marquee game of the weekend will leave one team all alone in first place.
The Islanders made quick work of the Indians and now must leave the friendly confines of the island to the furnace that is Kolberg. The island has had the team the past few years to make it to the playoffs, but now these players must prove that they belong in the title discussion, and a win here could do just that.
The Kolberg Braves put up 20 runs last week, but they were aided by many Institute errors. They’ll face a much different team this week, so I’m sure their batting eye will be a lot more focused.
I stepped foot on the island last Friday and was immediately greeted with a reminder that the Swami went against the island and he was going to be wrong. He won’t be wrong this week.
Swami says: Braves
Sister Bay (3-2) @ Egg Harbor (2-3)
After a tough loss, the Bays righted their ship in a big way last Friday night, but they can ill afford to lose any more games until their rematches with the top teams.
The Indians are in a free fall. After scoring 44 runs during their first two wins, they’ve lost three straight and have scored just four runs in those games. If the bats don’t wake up, the Indians could be falling out of the title picture early.
Swami says: Bays
Week 5 Results
Sister Bay 21, Baileys Harbor 3
Maplewood 2, Jacksonport 1
Kolberg 20, Institute 1
Washington Island 7, Egg Harbor 1
Washington Island 4-1
West Jacksonport 3-2
Sister Bay 3-2
Egg Harbor 2-3
Baileys Harbor 0-5