News StoriesSports StoriesToday StoriesBusiness StoryOpinion StoriesWeekly SectionsClassifiedsContact Us
    LFP Home  | Sports  | Events  | Recreation & Leisure  | London Knights  | One Magic Season

Subscribe to the London Free Press

London Free Press Sports Section:


They can't weather the Storm

ERIC BENDER, Free Press Sports Reporter   2003-06-20 05:13:18  

The Storm aren't even a tempest in a teapot. The teapot would be the 10-team Intercounty Baseball League and the St. Thomas Storm is a team now approaching the midpoint of the schedule with an 0-15 record.

"We're back to where we were our first year and maybe even worse off," said general manager Bill Ross, a member of the Ross family that revived Intercounty baseball in St. Thomas three years ago, replacing the defunct St. Thomas Elgins.

"We're working on next season. We're playing with a bunch of understudies and others who are questionable if they should still be in the lineup. We've got 18 to 20 signed, but we only get a dozen out for a game."

Certainly this season is written off. No team turmoil, factions, player-management disputes or skullduggery has caused this.

"The basic problem is no returning players," Ross said. "We've worked for three years to build this team."

The Storm picked up senior baseball in St. Thomas in 2000. The Elgins, Intercounty competitors for 33 years, folded after the 1996 season.

After an inaugural year under skipper Dick Snow in which the Storm won only three games, they battled all the way to a playoff spot last season with a 16-18 record, but were eliminated in three straight playoff games by Hamilton.

The Storm were 4-10 last year when field manager Mark Herbert was fired and Rick Ross replaced him.

Rick Ross said the team lost three or four key players this year and some others have chosen to "pick and choose" when they will play.

As a result, the team has gone on road games with 10 players, but there's a core of about a dozen who remain loyal. Some of them are callups from the St. Thomas Tomcats junior club, but the juniors have a conflicting schedule most of the time.

"We're really trying to play with juniors and fill-ins," Rick Ross said.

The Storm are last in team batting, team pitching and second last to London in fielding percentage.

Wednesday night in Brantford, the Storm showed up with 13 players. Their first three batters got on base and scored. However, the Red Sox tied it in the bottom of the first and in the end, defeated the Storm 19-6. The two teams play tomorrow in St. Thomas at 8 p.m.

Earlier in the season, St. Thomas lost 16-3 to the Hamilton Cardinals. On the weekend, the Barrie Baycats took a doubleheader Saturday from the Storm 8-0 and 12-0, Barrie pitcher Derek McDaid hurling Barrie's first no-hitter in franchise history in the first game. On Sunday, Toronto Maple Leafs pitcher Paul Spoljaric one-hit the Storm in eight innings, Toronto winning 5-1.

Ten-year Intercounty outfield veteran Roop Chanderdat admits it's "frustrating," a term most of the players use.

"I've seen nothing like this before," Chanderdat said. "I was with London (Majors) when they won 14 in a row, but I've not been in a losing streak like this. You can't help it wearing on you, but I try to stay upbeat. We're using a lot of young guys and you don't hang your head and stay upbeat. I try not to get too far down or too far up."

Start up of the Canadian Baseball League hurt the Storm right off the bat. Infielder Jeremy Hudson caught on with the CBL and a spot the Montreal Royals and catcher Andrew Mercier is with the London Monarchs.

Import Jason Head, who slugged 10 home runs for the Storm last season and who was expected back, couldn't be reached this spring. He was believed to be trying out for a Frontier League team. Regular Chris Kewley was released to play with the Guelph Royals and first base stalwart Pete Babcock left the team for other pursuits. Infielder Jamie Gosselin chose to play a level down this year.

"It's been frustrating," said Chris Gosnell who has played first base, outfield and pitched in his first year up from the Tomcats. "There's a lot of guys signed, but 10 to 13 show up. There's work and prior commitments and the best players didn't show up.

"There's the same guys out every night and we can have fun, but sometimes fun doesn't go far enough."

Joe Fansher, 22, up from the Tomcats, said he's never been involved in a losing streak that went more then five or six games before. "You go to the park thinking those guys aren't that good. Streaks are made to be broken. We've got to win some time."

Fansher is a natural infielder who has been playing outfield and notes the small squad gives the manager little latitude.

Ben Yormak, 20, at shortstop and second base, notes the field management problem, too. Some players have to play out of their natural position. But, back from college ball in the U.S. for the summer, he wants to hone his skills. "You never know who's watching in the stands," he said.

Bill and Rick Ross said the Storm will be rebuilt next year with graduating juniors from Windsor and Sarnia as well as the Tomcat organization. Stan Slack is working with the Storm to identify talent in the Sarnia area, they said.

Paul McClenaghan, 27, was out for his first game in the 19-6 shellacking in Brantford. He was lured back to the game after not playing for several years. "I haven't felt the pain yet," he said before the game.

He got his touch of pain a couple hours later.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

News | Sports | Business | Today | Opinion | Weekly Sections | Classifieds

Important Links:
Place an Ad | Subscribe | Become a Carrier | Email Directory | Customer Service
Comments | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Statement

CANOE Your Internet Network CNEWS
Subscribe to the London Free Press

The Next London.  You're Invited!

Places of Worship

Auto  Seller

London this Week Auto Market

Hot Jobs

Movie Listings on Jam!

Career connection


London Pennysaver

London This Week