Listen closely through the autumn air out in Suffolk County. You could almost hear the faint whisper through the wind.
Yes, it’s that time of year again and even though the Major League season still has a week to go and the New York Mets have a real vested interest, the playoff story right now is in Central Islip as the Long Island Ducks advanced to the Atlantic League Championship for the fifth time in their history.
“I am just so proud of the guys,” said Ducks manager Kevin Baez after his team beat the Somerset Patriots in five games. “When we came home, I just told them to take it one game at a time.”
When the Ducks came back from their lost week over the Outerbridge Crossing, they looked finished. Losing Game 1 in 11 innings and then getting smoked 10-0 in Game 2, you had to figure the Patriots had the series in hand. After all, the only time a team in the Atlantic League came back from an 0-2 deficit was in 2001 when the same Patriots did the deed to the Newark Bears.
“We got struck and let it rip,” Baez said. “Pitching defense and timely hitting is what wins championships.”
They are in that position now. The Ducks will travel to the Houston suburb of Sugar Land to play for the title. Although the Ducks seem to have the momentum, the Skeeters swept the heavily favored York Revolution and seem to be positioned to make this a classic confrontation.
“We’re playing great right now,” said outfielder Lew Ford. “It comes down to our pitching. Our pitching has been great throughout and looking at the next series, that’s going to be key for us. If our pitching is there, then we’re going to be in every game next series against the Sugar Land Skeeters.”
But put baseball aside and just look at what the Ducks have accomplished over their 15 seasons. A third of a time they are in the championship, losing only in 2011 and they have built one of the most viable sports businesses in the area.
Think about all the teams that have come and gone, even the ones that have played in the same league and the Ducks – independent of any Major League affiliation – are still going strong and continuing its winning tradition.
“It never gets old,” said Buddy Harrelson, who is a part owner of the team and has six rings to his name – three with the Mets and four with the Ducks.
Next week, he’s looking to make it No. 7.
In an industry filled with dishonest people looking out for their own interests. The Ducks are generally good guys. Led by Frank Boulton and Mike Pfaff, the Ducks are trying to disprove the old baseball adage.
Nice guys don’t finish last.
Next week, they will prove it once again.