Sports Illustrated has a section each week saying “What’s Hot” and “What’s Not.” I am not sure I know “What’s Not,” BUT Michael LaBeau is hot. In fact, I don’t know if there has been a period of time in my lifetime, (well beyond the last fifty years) that any area baseball pitcher has had a sustained period of success like this, at a level beyond high school, other than LaBeau has.
A month ago, it caught me by surprise that the former Bellows Falls Terrier pitcher, captured the tournament Most Valuable Player Award, while pitching in relief in the North Atlantic Conference Tournament for Castleton State. This past week, he was named the New England Collegiate Baseball League, Pitcher of the Week.
This area HAS HAD a few very notable baseball players over the years, of course, beginning with Carlton Fisk at the top of the list. The recent play of LaBeau puts him on a short list of players, who have been awarded for their play at higher levels. I witnessed part of his weeks’ heroics last Saturday night, when the Keene Swampbats brought their closer in, in the eight inning with one out and two on (second and third) and he closed out the game.
LaBeau’s current stats show he leads the league in relief appearances, is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA, he has thrown 13 1/3 innings with his 9 appearances and has struck out 18, while only walking 2 with a WHIP under 1.00. He has six saves in as many chances. He is the teams’ workhorse. I remember thinking, when I saw LaBeau walk off the mound at St. Peters Field in Rutland in his final appearance for BF Post 37’s Legion team, that he was a special pitcher, BUT I did not come close to realizing how SPECIAL.
In a short conversation Saturday night with LaBeau, the modest right-hander, said, “I am having a great time. This is really fun. I wish I could pitch with the Swampbats for more than a year.” As we wrote last week, his high school coach Bob Lockerby said how special he is and that the “kid does not know how good he is.” Well Bob and Michael yourself, we will tell you one thing, “The Upper Valley Nighthawk hitters were still talking about the movement on LaBeau’s pitches long after the game ended. I know because I heard them.
RED SOX TRADE- I doubt one will have been made by the time you read this, BUT teams throughout baseball know this team has to do something about their starting staff. Eduardo Rodriguez and Clay Buchholz, combined, have put more people to sleep nightly throughout New England than sleeping pills. Are you one of those fans who have turned them off on those nights? I hope you didn’t turn off the game on David Price the other night. IF you did, you missed one of the better comebacks on the season.
GREEN MOUNTAIN APPLAUDED- It is better late than never, BUT winning state boys and girls track coach Tim Eno was highly impressed with how the Vermont State Track Meet was run at Green Mountain. The lateness IS, that I am just getting around to passing out the news. Year after year, Green Mountain Union High School is praised for the way they organize and run the meet. Jon Rice, the Chieftain coach, is the man in charge nowadays and he and the crew he assembles need to stand up and take a bow.