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This article was published 1/9/2018 (642 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s the Friday night of the September long weekend and the Winnipeg Goldeyes are playing a meaningless game against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
Sure, both teams are eliminated from playoff contention and many Winnipeggers use the long weekend as their last chance to escape the city before winter hits. But it didn’t matter Friday as Shaw Park was packed. If you didn’t know any better, you would’ve thought the game had major playoff implications.
But unfortunately for the Fish and their fans, the Goldeyes won’t be playing any more games at Shaw Park in 2018. Friday night was their last home game of the year, as their season will wrap up on Monday in St. Paul. To say it was a disappointing season for the Goldeyes, who entered the year as the defending two-time American Association champions, would be an understatement. Regardless of what happens in their final three games, 2018 will go down in the record books as the team’s worst season in their 25-year franchise history.
The Goldeyes, who have a 40-57 record after Friday’s 11-4 victory over the RedHawks, didn’t show any consistency this season, but it never stopped fans from showing up. In fact, the Fish will end the year with the second-highest attendance in the 12-team league.
"From day one, we’ve been losing a lot of games," said Goldeyes outfielder Reggie Abercrombie, who’s in his 19th professional season and fifth with the Goldeyes.
"They have never booed us or talked bad about us. You might get one or two people saying something mean, but the fans still cheer if we’re down 20 or if we’re down one. We score a run, they still cheer. They still come out and still support us, they still come down here for autographs and stuff. I can’t say nothing more than thank you to them. That’s kind of hard for your team to win two championships and come back the third year and it’s totally the opposite, down to the bottom of the league, but you still support them — that’s unheard of."
The Goldeyes came into the season with aspirations of becoming the first team in league history to three-peat as champs. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to make history. But if you think that ending the past two seasons in champagne showers makes this tough season easier to swallow, think again, said Goldeyes outfielder Josh Romanski, a member of the 2016 and 2017 championship teams.
"You would think it would soften the blow with the past two titles, but as a competitor in sports, losing sucks all the time," said Romanski, last year’s winner of the American Association’s player of the year award. "Sports is such a what have you done for me lately industry, it’s just not a good feeling to put a losing record up in the record books. It’s been a tough year on many different fronts for our team. You just try to finish strong, forget about it, and see what happens."
The Goldeyes saw a decline in their numbers in all three phases of the game — hitting, pitching and defence. Abercrombie, 37, was one of the few players on the team who saw his numbers improve, as his batting average jumped from .272 last season to .310 this season, to go along with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs before Friday’s game. But improved numbers don’t mean much to Abercrombie, as he believes he didn’t do enough to help his team remain a winner.
"I don’t blame any of my teammates, they play hard, they played hard every day. I didn’t feel like I drove them to succeed this year," said Abercrombie, who is considering coming back to play another season.
"I tried to play back and just play baseball, but I didn’t succeed in seeing what I wanted them to do as a team and as individuals in this game. I failed them. I failed this season more than any other season, even though I did do good and hit a little bit better, but I failed my teammates, I failed myself and failed this season just as the aspect of being a leader. I feel like I should’ve been a lot better leading the team."
You probably won’t see anyone else blaming Abercrombie. If anything, it’s the number of injuries the team battled all season that should shoulder the burden for the lacklustre season. Whatever the reason may be, Abercrombie expects 2019 to be a different story, regardless if he’s still playing in centre field or not.
"I know whatever Rick (Goldeyes manager Rick Forney) do next year and whatever I do next year, I know that it won’t be like that next year," Abercrombie said. "This is baseball, it happens. You’re going to go through the ups and downs and this season was a down season. We just got to try to come back next year and have a great season."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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