(Long Island, NY) This is the way it should be. Two rivals fighting it out all summer in both halves, with one team winning the first and the other taking the second. Tuesday evening in Bridgeport, the Bluefish hosted the first game in the Atlantic League playoffs against the Long Island Ducks. The ‘Fish topped the Ducks by a score of 6-0 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
These teams know each other well. They have gone tooth and nail for seven years, but this will be their first playoff series. That is the official stat, but on August 9th, 2004, they played a regular season contest that amounted to a playoff game.
That season, the Ducks needed to sweep a three-game series in Bridgeport in July to win the North Division First Half title. They won the first two and were tied with the ‘Fish after nine innings in the final game of the first half. The Connecticut skies were threatening all game with a steady drizzle. But then the skies opened up and the game was postponed. The All-Star break was upon us without a division winner.
A make-up date was decided, and the first available for both clubs was August 9th. So practically one month into the second half would be the deciding game for the first half championship. The Bridgeport officials coined the game, ‘the one for all the marbles.’
The Ducks had come so close to qualifying for the playoffs during their existence with nothing to show for it. Now all they needed to do was win one game and they would erase some of that disappointment.
A wild win gave the team its first post-season berth and they didn’t disappoint. They defeated the Nashua Pride in the first round and then disposed of the Camden Riversharks in the championship series to win the crown. They celebrated their fifth anniversary season in 2004 and saved the biggest party for last.
Could 2006 be their lucky seventh season? They have a very good team and having pitcher Pat Mahomes and outfielder Dominick Ambrosini back after stints in the minor leagues will help. The 2004 pitching hero, Bill Pulsipher, is also here. Unfortunately, outfielder Juan Gonzalez has had nagging injuries and is currently on the inactive list.
Ducks manager Don McCormack has brought his team to the playoffs three consecutive seasons. He has done the job and is a steadying influence in the dugout. Pitching Coach Dick Such has kept the staff going strong even during periods when some of the arms were signed by major league organizations. He has done a fine job in his first season on Long Island.
Citibank Park will be rocking on Wednesday and (if necessary) Thursday evenings. With the Mets and Yankees gearing for their own playoff rounds, the Ducks will kick things off first.