The Tri-City Valleycats have overcome all kinds of adversity in the NY-Penn League this season, but on Tuesday, they succeeded in their mission to repeat as Stedler Division champions, despite the annual roster turnover, and having a different manager at the helm.
The Valleycats won their 2nd straight division title, and 3rd in 4 years, by besting Brooklyn, 6-3, in a game played under overcast skies, and with a smaller than usual crowd for a weeknight. With school about to start, and despite an earlier start (6 pm as opposed to the usual 7 to accomodate the back-to-school crowd), I think it was a rare night where the 'Cats didn't have close to their average attendance.
Tri-City has seen its usual player promotions further up the Houston Astros' organizational chain, but they took a big hit on Friday, when DH/1st baseman Michael Martinez, the team's leading home run hitter, and outfielder D'Andre Toney were suspended for 50 games after testing positive for amphetamines last week while the team was in Brooklyn. After getting swept by the last place Vermont Lake Monsters, and losing a Saturday game to Lowell, the 'Cats responded by winning their next three games to put the Spinners away and clinch the division. They'll play McNamara division champion Aberdeen in the first round, with the opener in Aberdeen on Friday, and game 2 Saturday in Troy. The Ironbirds were a nemesis for the 'Cats this season, and have a 1st year player with a Hall of Fame-level pedigree in Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson, I believe, of former Boston star Carl Yastrzemski. The series will go the full three games, and with the 'Cats having rebuilt momentum, I see them advancing to the league championship series once again.
Three division titles in four years. Five in the team's twelve years in the league, with one league title (2010). I haven't seen that kind of consistent success since the long-defunct Albany Firebirds in the Arena Football League back in the 90's, and that's saying something. The city of Troy hasn't had a sports dynasty since Troy High was making routine trips to Syracuse for the state football championships, also in the 90's. And, oh, yeah, football season starts on Friday around these parts. Momentum's a great thing to have, and, luckily for Troy High, the 'Cats' season will end before they play their home opener on Friday the 13th. Let's hope the momentum carries over........