"All good things must come to an end"---William Shakespeare.
The Tri-City Valleycats won't win their 5th straight Stedler Division title in the NY-Penn League this year, and the chances of making the playoffs are growing slim. The 'Cats sit in 3rd place, 8 games behind division leader Lowell with 7 games left, and with Staten Island holding the Wild Card at this point, the Valleycats have to win out, including the final home series of the season against Staten Island, beginning on Thursday.
So what was the problem? Unlike in past years, when players have been promoted within the Houston Astros' organizational chain, the 'Cats didn't have enough depth in talent to fill the voids created with 16 player promotions since mid-July. Manager Lamarr Rogers is almost certain to return next year, but we'll see what the future holds after the 'Cats finish their season on Labor Day.
In contrast, the Citi Field injury curse continues to plague the Mets, and yet the Amazin's keep finding ways to win. Today, they are 9 games behind NL East leader Washington, tied with Miami after beating the Marlins in 10 innings Monday night.
The key for the Mets down the stretch is keeping slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who won Monday's game with a walk-off homer, and infielders Asdrubal Cabrera & Neil Walker, healthy long enough to make a run for at least the Wild Card. However, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a miracle this time.
With the Valleycats' season drawing to a close, the attention of local sports fans shifts to high schools and colleges. Some schools in Section II have already begun playing golf & women's volleyball, with soccer getting underway yesterday. Football season begins on Friday. Time Warner's season opening High School Game of the Week sees defending Class A champ Amsterdam playing Burnt Hills, but the real marquee matchup is in Class AA as Shenendehowa visits Troy. Time Warner cameras will be at Troy in week 4 when the Flying Horses host Shaker.
For Troy coach Bob "The Builder" Burns, the ascension to Class AA from Class A may seem like a reward for a job well done last year, but I would suspect that there are still some ill feelings among fans over the Class A title game loss to Amsterdam, during which the game officials did their best impersonation of the Keystone Kops, such was their confusion over a penalty call that went ultimately against Troy. A 4th quarter rally came up short, and Troy was denied their first Super Bowl in more than a decade.
Count on this. Ed Picken Memorial Field could conceivably be packed on both sides of the bleachers on Friday, as Shen's fans travel well by reputation, and on Sept. 16, when in-city rival LaSalle comes in to resume the recently dormant series between the two Troy schools. It won't be easy, but no one ever said it would be.
We have to close on a sad note.
WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Fuji (Harry Fujiwara) passed away Sunday at the age of 82. Cause of death is not yet known at press time. Fuji won 5 WWWF/WWF tag titles with 2 partners (Professor Toru Tanaka and Mr. Saito) during the 70's and early 80's before turning to managing. He led Demolition to the tag titles, and mentored the late Yokozuna (Rod Anoia), a Samoan passed off as a Japanese sumo, to two WWF titles in 1993.
With perhaps a knowing wink to former partner Tanaka, who left the WWWF for Hollywood, Fuji and Don Muraco embarked on a series of parody sketches on Tuesday Night Titans in 1985. Perhaps the most popular skit was Fuji Vice, a send-up of the popular Miami Vice. While Muraco looks like Don Johnson's buffer brother, Fuji might as well have been a fish out of water----which might have been the idea.
Fuji's 80's look was borrowed from another wrestler-turned-actor, Harold Sakata (Oddjob in "Goldfinger"), more so than Charlie Chan. While the acting was largely wooden by design, the skits have become cult favorites more than 30 years later.
Rest in peace, Mr. Fuji.