Arizona Fall League Championship

Baseball season at the major league level has been over for a couple of weeks now but for fans in Arizona there have still been games played in the Arizona Fall League. All of that ends today with the conclusion of the Arizona Fall League Championship.

The Arizona Fall League Championship pits the two teams with the best records facing each other at Scottsdale Stadium. For the sixth consecutive year one of those teams is the Phoenix Desert Dogs.

In an era of parity throughout professional sports the consistency of the Phoenix Desert Dogs is impressive. It is even more so when you consider that the roster of the Desert Dogs is completely new each season as is the coaching staff.

phoenix212When players arrived at Phoenix Municipal Stadium six weeks ago they came from different levels of minor league baseball and from different organizations. The only thing they had in common was that they now represented the Desert Dogs.

During an opening meeting the players were given the history of this team and the expectation that they needed to uphold. They were expected to play in the championship game and this year’s crop of players did not disappoint.

The Desert Dogs had the best record in the Arizona Fall League and made their way to the championship game to face the Peoria Javelinas. During the season these two teams were evenly matched splitting the series.

For Major League Baseball this was the perfect matchup. It would be Washington Nationals prospect Stephen Strasburg’s coming out party starting the game for the Desert Dogs.

Unfortunately that didn’t play out as Strasburg suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and left Arizona to meet with doctors. Good news for Nationals fans, the knee was diagnosed as not serious and no surgery is required.

The Desert Dogs began the game with a lead off triple and scored in the top of the first inning. The Javelinas showed that they belonged in this game as well and quickly came back to tie it up.

As the afternoon progressed these two teams battled back and forth with the lead changing hands several times. Finally in the bottom of the eighth inning CJ Retherford from the Chicago White Sox organization hit a monster 2-run home run out of Scottsdale Stadium for the game winner.

And for the first time in six years a team other than the Phoenix Desert Dogs stood atop the podium as the champions of the Arizona Fall League. There will undoubtedly be second-guessing by the Phoenix fans wondering what if Strasburg could have pitched.

Despite the questions it was a great day for baseball and for the 3,521 fans in attendance. Now the off-season in Arizona officially begins. The only games left to follow are those in Mexico and in the Caribbean until February 18 when pitchers and catchers report.

Congratulations to the Peoria Javelinas for dethroning the dynasty that has been the Phoenix Desert Dogs. It was indeed a great day for baseball.


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