CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The abundance of Boston Red Sox hats, shirts, jackets, licence plates that have surfaced recently around the Island, indicate interest in Major League Baseball playoffs, especially the American League East, is starting to build.
The BoSox have a built a 9.5-game lead in the East before Friday’s play and are certain to finish ahead of the arch-rival New York Yankees, regulating the boys from Gotham into a sudden-death playoff game most likely against the Oakland A’s, a dangerous club to meet in a one game showdown. Yankees manager Aaron Boone is still a work in progress and many Yankee fans are starting to question the decision to bring him in to replace the much more proven Joe Girardi.
In Wednesday’s 8-2 loss to Oakland, Yankees ace Luis Severino was again shelled, making it less likely he will start a sudden-death game with Oakland. There are other questionable moves by the Yankees like adding ex-Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, who will take playing time away from Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton. Centre-fielder Aaron Hicks is an up-and-coming star and right-fielder Aaron Judge can go and get them with the best and has a tremendous arm. The situation is not a healthy one.
There’s also a decision on Greg Bird, who appears to have lost his first base job to power-hitting Luke Voit, who has slugged eight home runs in the past month. The problems appeared to be mounting for the Yankees and even when all hands are available the question remains whether they can handle crafty, right-handed pitching. Time will tell.
On the local front, the Kings County League baseball playoffs continue this weekend with just four teams in the chase for the crown, including defending champion Peakes, who are down 2-0 in a best-of-five against The Alley Stratford Athletics. The Morell Chevies and Northside Brewers are tied 1-1 in the other series after Brewers ace-righty Jordan Stevenson tossed one-hitter, 10-strikeout gem in Morell Wednesday. This series could go the limit.
The Mike Kelly Golf Classic, UPEI’s men’s hockey’s annual fundraiser, goes today at 1 p.m. at Fox Meadow in Stratford. The event honours the memory of the UPEI standout and also one of the greatest baseball players and athletes ever in this province.
Earlier this week at Fox Meadow, the Charlottetown Islanders staged their own get together at the course. Expectations are high for the major junior squad who feel they can be one of two Quebec clubs at the Memorial Cup in Halifax. P.O. Joseph, Brett Budgell, Nikita Alexandrov, Keith Getson and Cape Breton’s Derek Gentile are all back as are goaltenders Matthew Welsh and Dakota Lund-Cornish.
One of the few new faces is right-winger Cole Edwards, who is mentally tough after playing 18 holes with Yousef Hashmi, who provided both golf and hockey advice throughout the four-plus hours of play-instruction.
The fifth annual Face Off Against Cancer with a host of former NHL greats is set for later this month. Aside from the games where each team has an NHL great in the line-up and the silent auction, which includes numerous sweaters including a signed Connor McDavid authentic jersey, the most popular event is Friday, Sept. 28, hot stove league exchange where players discuss situations, their feeling on current NHL teams and players – no punches pulled. It goes Friday evening at the Rodd Charlottetown, so mark that date on your calendar.
Live harness racing continues tonight with a 12-dash card and a 6 p.m. post time.
The $2,350 top class has attracted a good field with the likes of Likely to Win, Zero Rate, Keep Coming, Machinthesand, Nabber Again and Rockin Indy.
Many of the big names are in Mohawk tonight for the William Wellwood Memorial eliminations and the Peaceful Way trot. Swandre the Giant, who sold last week for $1 million, and White Tiger meet in one elimination and both are products of The Stable.ca. It will be very interesting race since Anthony MacDonald handles White Tiger against Swandre, the new addition to the Takter Stable.
At Scioto Downs tonight, James MacDonald will handle The Stable entries in four divisions at $275,000 each of the Ohio Sire Stakes finals. Trotters Oh So Pine and Yes and pacers See You in Tuscany and Twinsburg all made the Ohio finals in their respective divisions.
Ricky MacPhee who trains a large component for The Stable.Ca was home Thursday night helping to celebrate his mom Audrey’s 80th birthday. She looks about 50.
Also, at the track Thursday was a trio from Toronto who are big sports names from the far past. Duke MacCallum, a standout slugger in the old City Fastball League, Lloyd (Say) Doiron, a top senior baseball star, and his brother Hot Dog Doiron taking in the races and visiting with legion eight-ball star Emmett Joseph.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org