Friday, April 02, 2010

Cameo roles can't save 'Rakers in season opener

CONCORD -- The last thing many a Muckraker expected to see in the 2010 Summer League curtain-raiser was the shining, smiling face of Robert (Bob) Brindley.

At last report, the veteran 'Raker had cast his lot with La-La Land, seeking his fame and fortune via the silver and/or digital screen, if not the hallowed turf of Willow Pass Park.

And yet, moments before the 'Rakers' initial game of the season vs. the Brown Sox, who should stride purposefully in the dugout but the familiar mug of Brindley, in typical good spirits and ready to do softball battle.

Brindley proceeded to author his own Hollywood script, going 4-for-4, scoring four runs and driving in four more (a fo-fo-fo game?). And had this been some kind of James Cameron-type production, the Rakers would have gone home with the dramatic victory and lived happily forever after -- and left an opening for the inevitable sequel.

Alas, this is Northern California, land of reality and hard truths, not SoCal, the place of alternate realities. And while the presense of Brindley and others was highly appreciated, it all could not save the Men of Muck in a 29-12 loss to the Brown Sox on Field 4 on Thursday.

Your 'Rakers were at a disadvantage from the get-go, fielding a mere eight players, which was perhaps a function of the 6:15 starting time. The B-Sox had a grand ol' time hitting to the gaps in the three-man outfield, and raced out to the big early lead.

Perhaps shell-shocked, the Muckrakers went scoreless over the first two frames, but finally got their softball legs under them starting in the third inning. In that grand frame, the 'Rakers got kinda back in it by pushing across eight runs, all scoring after two were out. Brindley and Matt Knauf (2-for-5) each drove home two runs, and Brindley was 2-for-2 in that inning alone. Luke Abbott, making his much-welcomed return to the team after missing all of Fall League due to injury, recovered from a rough first at-bat to walk and single in the third.

The Mucksters were a competitive bunch from then on but could never quite recover from being short-handed, with several players playing out of position. It was a game effort under difficult circumstances, boding well for the next 11 games.

Despite the loss, the contributions toward success were many. Brian Kroll had a particulary strong opener, going 3-for-3 and driving in a pair of runs. Aris Garcia showed remarkable infield penmanship (batsmanship?) and also drove in two, and Manager Chris Wagnon took charge in the leadoff spot. Dave Alcorn took a rough 0-fer, but hit the ball quite hard.

And the welcome cameos didn't begin and end with Brindley. Who should appear in the fifth inning but Randy Striegel, who was expected to be a no-show. But Striegel managed to get out to the park in time to draw a walk and score a run during the three-run sixth inning.

Sure, it wasn't quite the final result the Muckrakers were looking for, but the 'Rakesters showed an abundance of pluck, which should serve them well in the weeks to come.

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