With the end of the year at hand, it is time to write a review of the 2017 season. But this will a review of the year how I have experienced it. It has some lows and it has some highs as well. Overall, I enjoyed the 2017 season a lot.
Unlike the previous years, I did not travel across the Netherlands to see games here and
there. This year I spent most of the time at De Glaskoning Twins in Oosterhout. First of all, it is located close to where I live and second of all because they asked me to write for their website, so I had to attend as many games as possible. By writing game reports and interviewing players, I got to learn the players a bit better which was very nice of course.
The regular season did not go as expected for the team from Oosterhout. In fact it was rather disastrous. The team opted for young players who were ready to make the next step but that did not pan out well. Of course, there were standouts but the team as a whole did underperform. So with only 6 wins and 29 losses, they finished dead last in the regular competition. With that result, the team had to play in the promotion/ relegation competition. During this competition, De Glaskoning Twins showed what it was capable of. Twins won all games but one and secured a spot in the Dutch hoofdklasse for the 2018 season.
Then my other favorite team in the Dutch hoofdklasse: L&D Amsterdam Pirates. Before the start of the season, the club had to deal with a blow as their closer, Tom de Blok, signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers. He was sent to the West Michigan WhiteCaps (Single-A, Midwest League) and was vastly dominating. But the Tigers had other plans in mind. Tom was “demoted” to the Connecticut Tigers and was used as a starter. Once again he was flat out dominating, but at one point, he hit a snag as he was hit hard. But eventually, he overcame the problems and shined like he did before as a closer.
So Pirates had to start the season without its trusted closer. Even though the club finished on top of the standings of the regular season and reached the Holland Series, the club fell to reigning champion Curaçao Neptunus once again. New Neptunus manager Ronald Jaarsma out managed Charles Urbanus of Pirates, who did not have an answer on the moves made by Jaarsma at times.
This year I was lucky enough to attend the European Champions Cup at the beautiful baseball facility of the Buchbinder Legionäre in Regensburg, Germany. Both Dutch representatives Pirates and Neptunus reached the semi-finals. Neptunus had an easy win thanks to timely hitting and thanks to Diegomar Markwell, who cruised through the game and kept T&A San Marino in check. In the other semi-final, Pirates manager Urbanus saved his best pitcher for the final that never came. That plan backfired because the pitcher he sent to the mound was hit hard by Fortitudo Bologna and trailed 4-0 after three innings. Most of the Amsterdam pitching fell through and could not prevent Bologna to take a 7-1 lead after five innings. Eventually, Pirates fought back but could not catch Bologna as they fell 8-9. What appeared to become a lopsided game eventually turned into an exciting game, even though the result was not what I hoped for. So Bologna faced Neptunus in the final and never stood a chance as they were outscored 7-3 and outhit 13-8.
So, even though Neptunus was hit by the injury bug in the 2017 season, the club was quite successful by winning the Dutch championship and the European Champions Cup.
Another nice occurrence was the call-up of the son of a former teammate of mine. This 16-year old kid, Luuk ter Beek, debuted in the Hoofdklasse with Hoofddorp Pioniers. He did rather well with a save in four relief appearances and an ERA of 2.08.
And then Major League Baseball. For me, it was a season to enjoy. The New York Yankees did far better than expected. With lots of young players, the team managed to reach the playoffs, where many expected them to finish fourth in the American League East.
During the 2017 season, the young team showed flashes of brilliance but the team played irregular in a season with many ups and downs. Eventually, the team ended second in the AL East, trailing the Red Sox by two games. Where the Red Sox were ousted by the Astros in the ALDS, the Yankees fought their way through the playoffs. In the Wild Card game the Baby Bombers beat the Minnesota Twins 8-4, then fought back from a beaten position beating the Cleveland Indian 3-2 in the ALDS and got within one game from the World Series as they were beaten by the Houston Astros in seven games. Didi Gregorius, my favorite Yankee played a helluva season both at the plate (with 25 home runs and a .287 batting average) and defensively. It was a pleasure to watch him play.
Even the transition period was nice to experience this year. After a sub-par year, De Glaskoning Twins reinforced its lineup by getting good pitching and a good infielder. Also, L&D Amsterdam Pirates has gotten stronger on paper as they acquired a solid reliever. But still, the club had to deal with a major setback as Gilmer Lampe signed a contract with Fortitudo Bologna. Curaçao Neptunus had to deal with a similar setback when pitcher Kevin Kelly decided to join the ranks of A.S.D. Rimini Pirates. With the lineups of Neptunus and Pirates on paper, you can bet that both teams will reach the playoffs once again. When it comes to De Glaskoning Twins, the team will battle for a spot in the playoffs. If they will make the playoffs, I cannot tell, but the season will be a lot more fun than the previous for sure.
So after all, 2017 was a nice baseball season again. The results were not really what I hoped for but still, it was good to be near the diamonds again. The ECC in Regensburg was the absolute highlight for me. It gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people from the European baseball scene.
Let’s hope 2018 will even be a better baseball year. But with the European Champions Cup played in Rotterdam next season, I bet it will be another great year.