The Major League Baseball season opened last weekend and it is the turn of the National Baseball League (NBL) to signal the start of the new British baseball season this weekend.
The Herts Falcons fell at the last hurdle last year losing 6-3 to the Harlow Nationals in game 6 of the Final. That was the highest that a Herts team had finished in the 16-year history of the club giving a sense of pride to everyone connected with Herts, but despite this the players and coaching staff felt that they should have done more. Over the last few weeks there has been a sense of quite determination in the Falcons camp, determination not to go through the feeling of losing game 6 again.
Of course there is a lot of work to be done before the Falcons even begin to think about the postseason. Over the winter the other NBL teams have been busy making their own plans to win the title. Players have been traded, new players have been added and the nature of the league is such that not even the most knowledgeable NBL experts would dare to make any firm predictions about the outcome of the season. The addition of one or two new players could turn an outsider into a title-contender. The second coldest March in history meant that the NBL teams were not able to get a proper look at each other in the Herts Spring League with 11 games wiped out by the snow.
Herts have been busy again this winter strengthening further with the addition of infielder Xavier Gonzalez, the club’s first Cuban player, Carlos Velazco-Carus, John Blose from the Essex Arrows and Carlos Casal from the Harlow Nationals. The club has also seen the return of catcher Dave Westfallen and pitcher Pete Kikel.
They go into Sunday’s Opening Day game with several players who are on the disabled list. Cris Hiche (hamstring), Dave Tretheway (ankle), Ryan Bird (skiing incident) are all doubtful for this weekend
Their opponents, the South London Pirates, formerly the Croydon Pirates, are hoping that with a new name come better results. South London had a disastrous 2012, struggling both offensively (82 runs for) and defensively (236 runs against) while posting a 2-21 record. Look for Alex von Rosenbach, Jim Farley and Robert Brooke to do much of the heavy lifting for the Pirates, with some new additions from their recruiting drive possibly turning some heads this year.
The double header will be played at Grovehill Ballpark starting at 1:30pm. This is also the final weekend of the Herts Spring League and there will be HSL games taking place on both Saturday and Sunday with a large number of people expected to come to the ballpark over the course of the two days (click for full HSL schedule).