Three Takeaways From Rumble Ponies 2018 SeasonPosted: Updated:
Binghamton, N.Y. - Yesterday afternoon the Binghamton Rumble Ponies left NYSEG stadium with a 8-7 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs and will not return to play another game until April of 2019. It was in fact a memorable season for the Rumble Ponies, despite missing the playoffs. Players and coaches grew a lot on the diamond and in the club house with all of the roster changes, injuries and losing their best players in Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso.
Besides the obvious takeaway that Tim Tebow is in fact one of the most popular celebraties in the country and has the ability to draw hundreds of people together everywhere he goes, there are other big takeaways as an organization from the 2018 season.
1. Constant roster changes
It seemed like every week there was a drastic change to the Rumble Ponies roster. Six players went straight to the New York Mets organization from Binghamton, but even those numbers don't show the injuries or the players that were promoted to and from Triple-A Las Vegas. From Tomas Nido, to Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso, and on top of that, relievers Tyler Bashlor and Daniel Zamora, and a lot more, were all promoted throughout crucial times in the season. The coninous changes brought a lot of adversity that the coaching staff had to deal with.
"This year was different than other years. The amount of players that moved was probably more than I ever had to deal with" said Luis Rojas.
"The team changed a lot, it builds you more as a coach and keeps you on your toes."
"Our team in the begginning of the year was a team that was hitting homers, then we were a team that wasn't hitting homers. So, it was pretty cool to get together as coaches and see how the team was changing and develop plans in the middle of the season" Luis said.
2. Tebow effect
The most obvious takeaway from the season of course has to do with a man named Tim Tebow. His ability to draw a crowd here in Binghamton and on the road left lasting impressions. Before breaking his left hamate bone, Tim Tebow spent 84 games with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and made an impact on and off the diamond, especially in the seats of NYSEG stadium. It can be argued that Tebow wasn't the only reason for breaking attendance franchise records, but the thirty-one year definitely played a factor. With Tim Tebow wearing a Rumble Ponies jersey, NYSEG collected the second largest crowd for a home opener in franchise history.
Before Tebows injury, the Rumble Ponies were on pace to have their best per-game attendance since the franchise's inauguaral season in 1992 and the organization did just that.
"He made a big difference here in Binghamton and also on the road. Getting onto our bus from the locker room was a little tough" Luis Rojas said with a smile.
"I learned a lot from Tim. He taught me a lot about life. It was a great experience working with him, we worked a lot" Luis said.
3. New faces left NYSEG stadium with last impressions
Levi Michael - In Levi's first season with the New York Mets organization, he was selected as an Eastern League All-Star and the Eastern League post season All-Star, named best utility player. That honor made him only the 6th player in franchise history to receive the award.
The lead-off hitter compiled a career-high season, hitting .305 with a career-high 42 extra-base hits, including a team-best 30 doubles and 10 home runs. Before getting hurt with a season ending injury, Michael was tied for fourth in doubles and runs scored (72). Michael backed up his strong bat with a versatile glove, logging time at six different positions.
"Levi Michael is a kid we signed right before Spring Training. We started to get to know him and we worked really well with him and he really responded really well, too" said Luis Rojas.
Jhoan Urena - Outfielder Jhoan Urena put up remarkable numbers in his last month with the Rumble Ponies. From August 27 through September 3, he hit .424 (14-for-33), with four home runs, 14 RBI and a .818 slugging percentage.
During the week of August 27 in Hartford against the Yard Goats, the twenty-four year old belted three home runs, including two grand slams. His nine RBI were the most in one game by a Binghamton player in franchise history.
Jhoan was one of those guys that clicked in the series in Hartford and he did it for the whole series" said Luis.
"It was impressive, he turned his entire season around."