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Schools of Thought: Stop me if you’ve heard this one ...

April 20, 2009
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

Johnstown's baseball team, possibly the best baseball team in the Foothills Council on paper, is 0-4 so far this season, all in conference play.

The Sir Bills travel to South Glens Falls today to play the 1-3 Bulldogs. For both teams, but especially for winless Johnstown, it is a must-win.

Scratch that, the Sir Bills have to sweep this Monday-Wednesday series.

During the preseason and even in the first week of play, I joked with a couple of the players about them trying to avoid a start to the season like they had last year. And the year before.

In 2007, they started 1-7. Last year, it was a 1-5 start before an improbable win over Gloversville, which was 6-3 at the time and playing far better ball.

We were all pretty surprised in the sports department.

"Johnstown won?"

It was a fair response. ...

Records aside, the Sir Bills had not been playing too awfully well.

In the newspaper business, we're not supposed to be fans, so we can't - as the signs now say in the big stadiums of every underdog - "Believe." Seeing is believing, and from what I had seen in the previous couple games Johnstown had played, they were supposed to lose to Gloversville by about 10 runs.

It was going to be a horrible deja vu of last season's start with no promise of a reprieve, like the eight-win finish the Sir Bills pulled out in 2007.

- Schools of Thought, April 28, 2008

This week, it's a two-game series with another struggling team, so it's a prime opportunity to get on track. Saturday, they will travel to the Mohonasen Wooden Bat Tournament, which is a nice little escape for a day. Hopefully, they can go into that tournament with a win or two and have a little more fun than they will have if they are 0-6.

With a ton of experience in the field, the Sir Bills are having trouble making the plays on defense.

The Sir Bills are committing two errors per game on average, which is not a terribly high number, but those errors have helped the opposition outscore them 21-11 so far. Eight of Glens Falls' 12 runs last Monday against Johnstown were unearned, leading to the waste of the best JHS bat attack of the season.

Defense was the main issue last year, too. I distinctly remember writing something about being surprised Gloversville lost that game in Johnstown, 9-5.

To do it, the Sir Bills shook up their fielding alignment, moving a few people around to positions where they had little experience.

More impressive, more noteworthy and certainly more unusual was the turnaround in the field by the Sir Bills. What made it unusual was the defensive alignment coach Aaron Mraz employed. ... Not only did this defensive alignment do well enough to win, they played seven innings of errorless ball, which has been hard to come by this season.

- Schools of Thought, April 28, 2008

They need a similar turnaround, soon.

It's overdue if you ask Johnstown coach Aaron Mraz. After losing at home to Glens Falls last Monday, although he hated putting more pressure on his players, he said it was must-win time. They didn't Wednesday at Glens Falls, though.

The kicker is the teams Johnstown has lost to in the Foothills Council have already swept them for the season. The new schedule, while I like it a lot for several reasons, does not give a team that is struggling early in the season to get back at a team late in the season.

The Sir Bills may see Queensbury and/or Glens Falls in the conference tournament, but that's the only chance for revenge they'll get.

Asked a couple weeks before the season started, Mraz had it right from the get-go. He said the Sir Bills were going to be their own worst enemy.

If they can find a way to overcome themselves, maybe they can snap out of it and start playing ball like everyone in the Foothills thought they were going to this year.



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