In the recent past, this was a Silver championship weekend
All set fans? Sunday is August 12, and on that day for the last two years, the Nashua Silver Knights have hoisted the Futures Collegiate League Championship trophy.
The first came in Worcester on a Friday night, August 12, 2016, and the only lament was it occurred with the cars screaming along Rte 290 iabove the outfield Holy Cross College’s Fitton Field rather than the cozy, friendly confines Holman Stadium.
Ah, but everyone got their wish a year ago and the Silver Knights celebrated here in Nashua. Who can forget the crowd of about 2,500 standing for all of the celebration after the second straight finals sweep of the Worcester Bravehearts. The players were just ecstatic for hours at the stadium after the game, and the music was loud, before it certainly had to be turned down for the good of the neighborhood.
But it was one of those Holman moments.
But now? Tough to make it last. On Sunday, there will be nothing going on at Holman, or at least with the Silver Knights. The players have all gone home or back to their schools. The interns have left. General manager Rick Muntean plans on hitting the beach and also going back to Kansas City to visit his daughter and his grandson.
Holman Stadium late in the week looked great but lonely. Our Holman Moment this year was the FCBL All-Star Game/80th Birthday celebration on July 18.
Hey, you can’t win ’em all, right?
No, but it was a tough ending on Monday night. The season ended with a handful in the stands at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton. It’s a place with not much charm. Ugh.
The manager, B.J. Neverett, was tossed in the ninth arguing a fairly ridiculous call. When Luke Tyree was tossed out at home for the second out in the ninth, you knew it was over.
It was a different, often trying, summer. The Silver Knights had only 21 home dates, the rain just constantly coming. The team, for all its effort, good-natured players and good attitude, was simply not that good. Bill Parcells always said “You are what your record says you are”, and a 21-33 record says you really aren’t going to win a championship.
The rainouts were frustrating. The team drew a record average paid attendance, but was still captive to its walkup and there were a lot of no-shows.But it was also frustrating to see the club down 3-0 or 4-0 again after the first inning at home. They did enjoy a couple of walkoff wins.
But for the first time since 2015, there were no home playoff games. They had three in 2016 and two last year, which is a good thing, as well as a little extra in the financial pot.
But that good feeling that fans got used to feeling the last couple of years this weekend isn’t around. If you’re a Nashua fan, despite four FCBL titles in eight seasons, you have to be a little jealous of Worcester’s five straight trips to the finals, including this weekend as the Bravehearts were to visit Martha’s Vineyard in Game 1 Friday night and then are hosting Game 2, weather permitting, at Hanover Insurance Park’s Fitton Field, with the Sharks and not Knights being the opponent for the first time since 2015.
“I think they’re the best team in the league,” Neverett said of the Bravehearts last week. And by Sunday they could be.
It’s going to be a really interesting off-season for the league and the franchise. Will Drew Weber continue to own the team? General manager Rick Muntean has a lot of ideas after his first year to give the, as former VP Tim Bauman used to say, “Butts in the seats” a big boost. But will he be able to? It’s no secret that Neverett has a plan to give up the manager’s role at some point, handing the reins to pitching coach Kyle Jackson while still getting the players in his role as VP of Player Personnel/Baseball Operations. Will that happen prior to next summer?
And what will the FCBL do? It’s also no secret that the league didn’t have a very good year. It desperately needs an eighth team, so the schedule can be more uniform and teams can have Mondays off rather than suffer through low crowds. Also, the quality of play and umpiring has to be addressed. The league has to convince college coaches to send better players and not be so quick to accept a plethora of recent high school graduates/incoming freshmen. Futures League owners, general managers and commissioner Chris Hall have an enormous amount of work to do.
That being said, fans in the Nashua area love their Silver Knights and Holman Stadium, which these eyes has never looked better.
It would’ve been nice to show it off one more time with high stakes this weekend.
But that’s baseball.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph _TomK.