THE Winnipeg Goldeyes and Schaumburg Flyers had thrown out all notions of true patriot love and were only standing on guard for their team heading into their Canada Day matinee yesterday.
A controversial play involving Goldeyes shortstop Wes Long and Flyers catcher Richard Mercado in Tuesday night's 16-4 Winnipeg win could shut down Long for the season with a broken left ankle. He is expected to be out at least six weeks, but is hoping to heal in time for the playoffs.
"The guy just slid into me kind of late," Long said. "If that's the way he wants to play the game, then whatever."
The play in question occurred in the third inning with the Goldeyes leading 11-0. Mercado was attempting to advance to second base on a ball hit by centre-fielder Travis Ezi. First-baseman Cody Ehlers fielded the grounder, tagged his base for the inning's second out, and tossed to Long at second. When Ehlers stepped on first, he negated a force play at second base, so Long had to tag Mercado to get the out.
"I couldn't see what happened behind me... I didn't see him (Ehlers) step on the bag," Mercado said. "I just slid in trying to break up the double play."
Mercado was sorry Long was hurt, but maintained that the play was just a part of the game.
"There was nothing illegal about it," Mercado said. "I was well within the guidelines of the rulebook.
"I watched the replay last night, and I wasn't even that far off the baseline. "
Long said he also watched tape of the slide and disagreed with Mercado's conclusion.
"It was a dirty play," Long said. "Down 11 runs, he came right at my leg. The evidence is right there."
Goldeyes manager Rick Forney wouldn't comment on the play, but said the team would miss Long, who led the league with 14 stolen bases and had the fifth-best batting average at .331.
"He was maybe putting himself in position to get an invite to spring training," Forney said. "But that's been derailed now."
Forney said he has confidence in the reinforcements. The Goldeyes have moved Adam Frost to shortstop, and third-baseman Brent Metheny was activated from the inactive list. Metheny saw his first action since June 14 after being sidelined with a strained calf. Josh Asanovich will bat in the leadoff spot in Long's place.
Flyers 9 Goldeyes 5
One day after the Winnipeg Goldeyes (27-13) put up an eight-run inning to stun the Schaumburg Flyers (20-21), the Flyers busted out with a big frame of their own.
Schaumburg tallied seven runs off Goldeyes relievers Jordan Stewart and Aaron Odom in the eighth inning to overcome a 4-2 Fish lead. Victor Ferrante's three-run home run headlined the outburst.
The Goldeyes flexed their muscle as well, with Kevin West, Dee Brown, Cory Patton and Cody Ehlers all smacking solo shots.
The Goldeyes play a series in Gary this weekend to wrap up the first half of the season.