Eight of the International League’s most successful managers from a year ago have returned for the 2012 season, to be joined by a group of six newly hired skippers that includes two managers making their return to the League.
All four of the managers from the 2011 Governors’ Cup playoffs are back for another run at the IL’s postseason championship. That includes the manager of the back-to-back Triple-A National Champions, Mike Sarbaugh of Columbus, the 2011 IL Manager of the Year. He’ll be challenged by the 2010 IL Manager of the Year and 2009 Triple-A National Championship manager from Durham, Charlie Montoyo. The Bulls are looking for a sixth straight South Division title under Montoyo. In Lehigh Valley, Baseball Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg took the IronPigs to their first postseason in 2011. After falling in the Governors’ Cup finals, Sandberg is back for his second year in the IL and third overall as a Triple-A manager. Also back in the League is manager of the 2011 North Division champion Pawtucket Red Sox, Arnie Beyeler.
Anxious for another trip to the postseason are two managers who have already won Governors’ Cup Championships but fell short of the playoffs a year ago. Gwinnett’s Dave Brundage, a 2007 Cup winner, is back at the reins of Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate for another season. Longtime Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees skipper Dave Miley will be guiding a club without a permanent home in 2012 as PNC Field undergoes a full renovation.
The two other returning managers are both heading into a second season at the helm of their respective IL clubs. In Indianapolis, Dean Treanor narrowly missed the playoffs a year ago after a sluggish start for the Indians. Phil Nevin is also back for his second season in Toledo. Though his Mud Hens played competitively in a tough division, he is the only returning manager whose team had a losing record last season. Collectively, the eight managers returning to the International League combined for a record of 623-522 (.544) in 2011.
Two of the six new managers this season have previously managed elsewhere in the League. The new manager of Norfolk is Ron Johnson, who before two years on the Boston Red Sox staff spent five seasons managing in Pawtucket. Joel Skinner, Buffalo’s manager during their division-winning 2000 campaign, takes over in Charlotte as manager of the Knights.
Rounding out the group of 2012 IL managers are four men who have never been in the League as a manager. David Bell is a former Louisville infielder who has been hired to manage the Bats this season. Bell also suited up for Charlotte and Buffalo during his playing days. Another former IL player returning as a manager is Wally Backman. The new Buffalo Bisons skipper played three seasons for Tidewater (now Norfolk) in the early 1980′s. New Syracuse manager Tony Beasley never played in the IL, though he did spend one season in Buffalo when the Bisons where part of the American Association. Likewise, Rochester’s new skipper Gene Glynn did not play in the International League but did see time in 59 games with the American Association’s Indianapolis club.
The 2012 International League field managers include two of the top ten winningest active skippers in all of Minor League Baseball (Miley and Johnson). The group has combined to win over 9,000 Minor League games as well as six Governors’ Cups in the IL. As the 2012 season unfolds, only time will tell who will become the 80th manager to have his name etched onto the IL’s coveted postseason trophy.
The Buffalo Bisons celebration of their 25th season at Coca-Cola Field will begin with the 2012 home opener, Wednesday, April 11 against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. The Bisons announced their 2012 Schedule for the club’s 25th season in Downtown Buffalo, NY.
The eyes of the baseball world will be on Coca-Cola Field on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 as the Bisons host the 25th Annual Triple-A All-Star Game, presented by New Era and The Buffalo News, before a nationally-televised audience. All-Star Week will begin two days earlier on Monday, July 9 with the annual Triple-A Home Run Derby, presented by Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.
Along with those marquee events, the Summer-filled schedule announced by the Bisons features 11 Friday games, including four consecutive fridaynightbash!® games in August.
“The 2012 Bisons season promises to be filled with unforgettable moments for our great fans to enjoy. Along with the 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, we are planning several events and promotions geared towards celebrating our 25th season at Coca-Cola Field as the premier summer destination for baseball and family fun.” said Mike Buczkowski, Bisons Vice President/General Manger.
The Bisons 2012 regular season schedule will begin with six road games, starting with Opening Day on Thursday, April 5 in Pawtucket. The 2012 Home Opener at Coca-Cola Field is set for Wednesday, April 11 against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
Game times will be announced at a later date. The schedule is subject to change.
The 25th Season in Downtown Buffalo
The Bisons’ 2012 season will be their 25th year of play at Coca-Cola Field. The club will begin previewing their year-long promotion with a special video on the BisonsTV HD board on Fan Appreciation Night.
The Bisons began play at then-Pilot Field on April 14, 1988 with a 1-0 victory over the Denver Zephyrs. The fourth home game of the 2012 season will also be played on April 14 as the Bisons host the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The Bisons will announce their 2012 promotional schedule during the off-season, but several year-long celebrations to honor the club’s 25 years downtown will be part of the festivities.
The Triple-A All-Star Game
The Bisons will host the 25th Annual Triple-A All-Star Game, presented by New Era and The Buffalo News, on Wednesday, July 11. The International League All-Star team will host a squad of the best players from the Pacific Coast League. Coca-Cola Field hosted the first every Triple-A All-Star game on July 13, 1988 with the American League defeating the National League, 2-1 (at that time, teams were divided by their affiliated clubs).
The Triple-A All-Star events actually begin on Monday, July 9 with the annual Triple-A Home Run Derby at Coca-Cola Field, presented by Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. The event will feature sluggers from both leagues as well as in-game and post-game entertainment.
A ticket package including the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game are available for a limited time for only $35 at Bisons.com.
Herd Hosts Yankees in 2012 Home Opener
The Bisons 2012 Home Opener is Wednesday, April 11 against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Since the ballpark opened on 1988, the Bisons are 14-10 in home openers.
The Bisons have posted a winning record at home in 18 of the previous 24 seasons at Coca-Cola Field, with an overall record of 997-722 (.580 winning percentage).
Since Coca-Cola Field opened in 1988, the Bisons have had a paid attendance of 19,083,788.
Late Summer Dates Fill Schedule
The Bisons have 19 home games scheduled for the month of August, three more than any other month during the season. The Herd will host four consecutive fridaynightbash!® games from August 3-24 and 10 of their 19 games for the final month of the season are on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Buffalo has just 17 home games from the start of the season until mid-May and their 44 home games prior to the All-Star break are the third fewest in the International League.
The Bisons will be home for 11 Fridays, 10 Saturdays and 10 Sundays during the 2012 season. The day with the fewest home games next season is Wednesday (only nine).
The July 3rd Independence Eve Celebration
The Bisons will host the Durham Bulls on Tuesday, July 3 for the 18th Annual Independence Eve Celebration with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus. It’s only the second time the Bisons have faced a non-divisional foe for the Western New York tradition. The team defeated Toledo, 2-1, on July 3, 1999.
Since the event debuted in 1995, a total of 317,519 fans have joined in the celebration of our great nation’s independence.
The International League format is unchanged from last season. Each team is scheduled to play 144 games (72 at home). The Bisons will play North Division opponents 16 times each (eight at home) and the Herd will face teams from the South and West Division eight times each (four at home).
The 2012 Governors’ Cup playoffs will begin on Wednesday, September 5 with the winner of the IL North Division hosting the league’s lone wild card team.
The 2012 Triple-A National Baseball Championship between the International League and the Pacific Coast League is scheduled for Tuesday, September 18.
Scoring was a problem for the second game in a row as the Bisons were held to one run in their final game of the 2011 season against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees Monday afternoon. It’s the 12th time this season that the herd has failed to score a run in a game.
The 5-1 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at PNC Field marks the end of the 2011 season for the Herd and only the seventh time that the Bisons have posted a losing season in 24 years.
The Bisons pitchers couldn’t control Jorge Vazquez on Monday leading to three runs that the Bisons wouldn’t be able to overcome. Vazquez doubled in two runs in the first inning and smacked a solo home run to put an exclamation point on his day.
The Bisons only run came in the ninth inning of Monday’s game as the rain started to pour down. With With Luis Hernandez and Salomon Manriquez on first and second Raul Reyes grounded into what appeared to be a double play but the throw from second was airmailed allowing Hernandez to score from third.
The Bisons managed seven hits three of them off the bat of the Herd most valuable hitter Valentino Pascucci.
The Yankees starter D.J. Mitchell shut down the herd for eight innings before giving way to closer Logan Kensing who put the Bisons down in order.
Injuries were a problem for the Bisons this year as only four players remained active for the club from opening day till the final game of the season. Those four players were Valentino Pascucci, Raul Chavez, Taylor Tankersley and Justin Hampson.
The Bisons sent a player to the disabled list 21 times this year for a total of 841 man-games missed. Ten different players missed at least 20 games on the disabled list, and five players went on the disabled list more than once in 2011.
Game Notes: The Bisons are only 31-47 against the IL North Division this season, with a winning record against Rochester…The Herd played its best baseball against the IL South, posting a 17-25 mark against Charlotte, Durham, Gwinnett and Norfolk…The Bisons played much better when games were close with a record of 37-37 in games decided by two runs or less, the Herd also had 29 comeback wins in 2011 and seven walk-off victories.
Monday, September 5, 2011 (1:05 p.m.) – PNC Field
Radio: WWKB AM 1520, bisons.com
Buffalo Bisons (61-81, 5th(-19.5), North)
LHP Mark Cohoon (4-10, 6.01)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (72-69, 3rd(-8.0), North)
RHP D.J. Mitchell (12-9, 3.35)
TODAY’S GAME: This afternoon, the Buffalo Bisons wrap up the 2011 season with the third game of a three-game series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees from PNC Field (1:05 p.m.). The Herd will have a losing record for just the seventh time in the 24 seasons of the modern era. The Bisons will also fail to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.
THE OPPONENTS: The Bisons are only 31-47 against the IL North this season. The Herd had a winning record against one divisional opponent, a 10-6 mark against Rochester. Buffalo played its best baseball against the IL South, posting a 17-15 mark against Charlotte, Durham, Gwinnett and Norfolk.
CLOSE CALLS: The Bisons actually fared much better when the games were close in 2011. The Herd is currently 37-37 in games decided by two runs or less. Buffalo had 29 comeback wins in 2011 and seven walk-off victories. In 15 of the Bisons’ 61 wins so far, the team did not have lead after six innings.
HISTORY TO BE MADE?: Even with only one game left, there’s still time for history to be made. On the final game of the 2010 season, INF JUSTIN TURNER became the first Bisons hitter to notch six hits in a game in the modern era in a 16-2 win at Rochester (September 6). Turner went 6-6 and hit for the cycle in the Herd’s victory.
BIG YEAR: Of all the players on the Bisons, INF VALENTINO PASCUCCI had the biggest 2011. With 91RBI, Pascucci drove in the most runs in a single-season for a Bison since DH Ernie Young plated 100 in 2004. The Herd’s Most Valuable Player is also the first Buffalo player with 20+ home runs since OF Jason Dubois homered 22 times in 2006. In 2011, Pascucci also led the Bisons in games (129), runs (58), hits (114), on-base pct (.370) and slugging pct (.473).
WOUNDED TEAM: Injuries will go down as a major storyline for the 2011 Bisons. The team sent a player to the disabled list 21 times this year for a total of 841 man-games missed. Ten different players missed at least 20 games on the DL. Five players went on the DL more than once in 2011.
IRONMEN: There were four players on the 2011 Bisons that remained active for the club from Opening Day to today: INF VALENTINO PASCUCCI, C RAUL CHAVEZ, LHP JUSTIN HAMPSON and LHP TAYLOR TANKERSLEY. All told, 54 different players played for the Bisons this year.
SEASON BITS: No Bisons player stole more than one base in a game this season…RHP DALE THAYER’S 21 saves were the 5th-most for a Bisons player in one year in the modern era…The Bisons were over the .500 mark for one day this season. The club was 4-3 after a 4-0 win over the Yankees on April 13.
Sunday, September 4, 2011 (Game 1: 4:05 p.m.) – PNC Field
Radio: WWKB AM 1520, bisons.com
Buffalo Bisons (60-80, 5th(-19.0), North)
GAME 1- RHP Brian Sweeney (4-5, 4.50)
GAME 2- RHP Jack Egbert (0-2, 4.50)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (71-68, 3rd(-7.5), North)
GAME 1 – RHP Dellin Betances (0-2, 3.94)
GAME 2 – RHP David Phelps (5-6, 3.38)
TODAY’S GAME: Tonight, the Buffalo Bisons face the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in the first two games of a three-game in two-day series from PNC Field (Game 1: 4:05 p.m.). Tonight’s doubleheader begins the Herd’s final series of the 2011 season. The Bisons are 0-2 on their season-ending roadtrip, having been swept by the IronPigs in Lehigh Valley.
VS. THE YANKS: The Bisons are 5-8 against the Yankees this season. The last time the two clubs met, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre won three of four from the Herd at Coca-Cola Field, July 26-29. Today’s doubleheader is a result of a rain out the last time Buffalo was in Moosic PA, July 8.
ON THE BUMP: A pair of veterans will start for Buffalo in today’s twinbill: RHP BRIAN SWEENEY and RHP JACK EGBERT. Both hurlers have served as starters and relievers for the Bisons this season and both pitched in the Herd’s final home game of the season on Thursday. When starter RHP Dylan Owen left after four pitches with an elbow injury, Sweeney and Egbert each tossed an two innings of relief in the 6-2 loss to the Chiefs.
SPIN CONTROL: INF JORDANY VALDESPIN had both of Buffalo’s hits last night to extend his hit streak to 12 games. The infielder has averaged .404 (19-47) since the streak began on August 22. Valdespin has also collected five doubles, a home run and four RBI during the streak.
SWEEPS DU JOUR: The Bisons last three series have ended in sweeps. Buffalo took two from Rochester, August 28-29, but have been swept in back-to-back two-game series against Syracuse and in Lehigh Valley. Buffalo has been swept in seven series this year while also picking up four sweeps themselves.
BISONS BITS: OF JESUS FELICIANO is seven hits away from Bisons modern era record for career hits. With 371 hits, Feliciano trails only Billy Selby (378)…Bisons 2011 MVP INF VALENTINO PASCUCCI ranks second in the International League with 91RBI on the season. He is only the fourth Bisons player in the modern era to have 20+ home runs (has 21) and 90+ RBI in the same season…RHP DALE THAYER is tied for 5th in the IL with 21 saves.
METS UPDATE: The Mets (67-70) lost 8-7 to the Nationals last night as Washington scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th inning. Former Bisons OF NICK EVANS homered for the second straight day and now has four on the season. OF ANGEL PAGAN also had two hits and two RBI. Mets take on the Nationals again today at 1:35 p.m.