We made a list.
We checked it twice.
Now, here’s a look at who was naughty and nice in 2018:
THE NICE LIST
Mike Soroka is not only a nice guy, he’s an inspiration to baseball players in Calgary, across Alberta and throughout Canada. That’s why it was really nice to see him make his MLB debut this year.
Another inspiration to ball players in the province is Nicole Luchanski, of Edmonton, who has represented Alberta and her country on countless occasions. While we were saddened by the 29-year-old’s recent retirement announcement, the five-time Women’s Baseball World Cup medalist put together a playing career that was a gift to baseball watchers across Canada.
The Medicine Hat Mavericks also make our list for turning in a Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) season that was something more than nice – it was a championship effort that was spectacular.
A tip of Santa’s cap also goes to Edmonton Prospects’ pitcher Rich Walker, who recorded the first perfect game in WMBL history this year.
Edgar Martinez – a former Calgary Cannons’ star and one of the best designated hitters in Major League Baseball (MLB) history – finds himself on our nice list, as well. We’re just waiting to see if he’s Hall-of-Fame nice!
On that front, we’re waiting to see if former Edmonton Trappers’ executive Mel Kowalchuk possesses Hall-of-Fame qualities, as well. Kowalchuk was our nominee for the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2018. While he was not selected for induction next year, his name will remain on the ballot in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, the baseball abilities of William Steele did nothing to endear him to our list-making squad, but his writing talent did earn him a candy cane. Steele authored Going the Distance, a compelling and thorough biography of Alberta writer W.P. Kinsella, who penned several books that captured the hearts of baseball romantics.
A few MLB teams also have something waiting for them under the tree, due to their draft day efforts in selecting Alberta players. We salute the San Diego Padres for drafting Erik Sabrowski, the Minnesota Twins for taking LaRon Smith, and the Toronto Blue Jays for picking Damiano Palmegiani.
And how could we forget all of the players, coaches, volunteers and others who have been so open to interviews and chats about baseball. Some have been extremely personal, like the inspirational story of University of Calgary Dinos utilityman Myles Creran. We hope there’s something special in all of your stockings this Christmas!
Of course, all of our supporters are also welcome to join us for an egg nog and figgy pudding, too! That includes our regular followers and our sponsors – the Okotoks Dawgs, Dawgs Academy, Absolute Human Performance, the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) and Easton/Sparrow Outfitters – as well as the St. Albert Minor Baseball Association.
THE NAUGHTY LIST
How did the big, bearded guy in red end up on the naughty list?! No, not THAT guy … not Santa Claus. We’re talking about Okotoks Dawgs’ head coach Mitch Schmidt. Schmidt – who goes by the nickname “Big Bear” – made headlines in late June when he threw an on-field tantrum, along with several chairs, at RE/MAX Field in Edmonton. We thought it was an excellent Lou Piniella impersonation, but not exactly the best behaviour. The WMBL offered up their own lump of coal for the outburst, in the form of a two-game suspension and an undisclosed fine.
Unfortunately, the same incident puts former Edmonton Prospects’ head coach Ray Brown – who has since joined the Fort McMurray Giants – on this list. Brown responded to the chair-chucking scene by questioning Schmidt’s intelligence and chastising the Dawgs’ skipper for going “flip-out crazy.” It was an old-school response from the always outspoken Brown, but a bit too “no-fun police” for our liking. Let the chairs fall where they may. No one likes a baseball Grinch!
Edmonton Trappers’ slugger Ron Kittle – who arguably put together the best season of baseball this province has ever seen back in 1982 – seems an unlikely fit for the naughty list. He was very accommodating and forthright in his interview with Alberta Dugout Stories in July, but when we learned the back story of his Twitter handle @nakedbiker (you’ll have to ask him for details!) we could not condone his behaviour. Therefore, we reluctantly had to remove his stocking full of goodies from the fireplace.
The Boston Red Sox were the 2018 World Series champions, but it still wasn’t enough to land them on our nice list. That’s because the BoSox released Calgary catching prospect and Dawgs Academy grad Jordan Procyshen on Aug. 2nd. Procyshen was too nice to hold a grudge – but we can always long toss a lump of coal Boston’s way on his behalf.
Thanks for reading! Wishing you a happy holidays and all the best in 2019!