SPRING VALLEY, WI - As you can tell by the title of this edition of Rumblings from the Diamond, a new season is upon us. Less than 24 hours from now, the 2017 season will begin with the Spring Valley Hawks taking on the Jim Falls Strugeons. While typing that, I do so with less than one-hundred percent conviction given that Mother Nature may decide to be stubborn and play not-so-nicely tomorrow. However, we hold a level of optimism that she will allow us to take the field and play the great game of baseball.
I was not sure if I would get around to typing this prior to the actual start of the season, and as I sit here continuing to put together musical play lists, warm up songs, and walk up songs (yes, the Hawks will have all of these this season thanks to the technological attribute of TJ Walenski) along with some last minute things to take care of (as if there was not an entire winter to do so), I can't think of a better way to spend a Friday evening.
As you may know, the Hawks experienced their most successful season to date last year with a playoff qualifying season; finishing 11-6 in SCVBL play, and 22-11 overall; including a playoff victory and an eventual season loss to 2016 WBA State Champion Sparta. To say that was a step forward would be an understatement, given our previous 5 seasons since reviving Hawks baseball.
However, that was then and this is now. A majority of last year's team will be returning, along with the usual handful of new guys (we don't call them rookies, in fact, we really don't call them much of anything). A few guys have left us, and shame on them. We hope nothing but the worst for them. Just kidding - really. To those that have parted ways, we cannot say thank you enough for your commitment and dedication to Hawks baseball, and you will always be part of the Hawks family.
Yada, yada, yada - you're probably like "yeah, we get it" and would rather read some of the outlandish predictions and news & notes about Hawks baseball. So, here you go...
Brandon "Dumpy" Walczak will have to refrain himself from the mound during a game to visit the bathoom. By "refrain", we mean call time, sprint to the bathroom while un-doing his pants, and enter the stall just in time. This will most likely be caused by either a previous night's dinner of Buffalo Wild Wings, or endulging in an entire batch of buffalo chicken dip. Dumpy, who is our wiley veteran at the ripe age of 30 years old, has a deep love for spicy foods, despite what his wife tells him to avoid and a reputation for needing to "number two." There were a few close calls during the 2016 season, which has a package or two of Depends in the budget for this season; just in case.
Matt Leach will piss someone off. If you don't know Matt Leach, you're missing out. Really. But he has a unique ability to push someone's buttons and not entirely intentional either. Whether it be one of his teammates or an opponent, Leach is bound to irk somebody to the point of anger. We have all seen it, right Scott Sayles?
Speaking of Sayles, he will join the 100 hit club as a Spring Valley Hawk. As someone who has been as consistent as they come during his Hawks career, Sayles is just 9 hits away from this milestone. Only one Hawk has accomplished this in their career since the 2010's Hawks started; which would be Dylan Willett, who reached it last season. If you were going to place a bet on one of these predictions, this one should be it.
Joey Helmer and Cam Hirshfeld will lead the Hawks in "colorful language." While we certainly do not advocate the usage of this language (especially when there are kids and women around), these two have taken on the role of being those that like to vocally express their displeasure and frustration. If we were keeping a stat for this category, these two would run away with it and not look back. But, we also would not trade either of these two for the world.
Josh Thundercloud will hit a batter. And another. And another. This is another no doubter. Thundercloud will lead the Hawks in HBP this season. Over his career, he has recorded 41 HBP. The next closest active Hawk? TJ Walenski with 12. Yeah, this won't be close.
Casey Ryan will quickly solidify himself as the Hawk with the best hairline. For a rather young team, there are a number of guys that could be prime candidates for being a Rogaine spokesman. The aforementioned Walczak, along with Brett Weinfurter, Nate Lemler, and others are showing a rather impressive thin hair line (thankfully we wear ball caps when you see them most), but Ryan is on another level; and it is impressive.
The word "garbage" will be overused. Big time. In one of the more memorable post game speeches of the 2016 season, the word "garbage" has become an inside joke among the Hawks; mainly thanks to Zac Balsiger. It will be said, over and over, in many different fashions and that will be okay.
One of the 2017 rookies will lead the Hawks in something. Rather bold, right? But we are not saying if it will be good, bad, or indifferent. It could be baseball related, or could it be related to the two pound burger challenge at Sneakers that we encourage all of them to attempt. However, one of these strapping gents will find a way to impress; good or bad.
As I look up, I see that there is 4% battery life remaining on my computer. I guess that is a sign to wrap this up; or it could be the large amount of stern looks that I have been getting from my wife over the last half hour. Either way, the 2017 season is upon us. What will happen, who knows. However, expectations have been set. Whether that is team oriented or individual related, our hope is to continue improving on our baseball abilities while representing the community of Spring Valley with respect through the game of baseball.
This is an enjoyable and terrific group of men that have decided to be a part of the Spring Valley Hawks and represent the Spring Valley community, and now is the time to take the field. Well, not right now, but you get the point. We hope to see you at the ballpark throughout the 2017 season!
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