By Jack Loder
Welcome to the first edition of the 2022 “Lodies,” the premiere red carpet event of the Orleans Firebirds summer. The esteemed nominees don’t know it yet, but their performance in the first half of the summer was being painstakingly evaluated not only by the droves of scouts in attendance, but more importantly by me. Without further ado, my all stars of the first half. Please limit acceptance speeches to one minute.
Player of the First Half: Travis Honeyman
This one was tough for a couple reasons. Luke Keaschall has had a tremendous first half, and both of these guys earned Cape Cod player of the week honors during the first three plus weeks. Also, Keaschall is a Sun Devil which makes it hard to not pick him, but my journalistic ethics pull me from that bias. Honeyman’s .340 batting average leads not just the Birds but the entire Cape. He’s been invaluable defensively, patrolling centerfield in each game he’s played aside from the three he missed due to an illness this past week. The Orleans bats, as dormant as they’ve been of late, are a much more threatening beast with Honeyman leading off, a spot he’s occupied all year. That’s why he’s my MVP of the first half.
Also receiving votes: Luke Keaschall, Kevin Sim
Starting Pitcher: Bryce Warrecker
A little over a week ago this award probably would have gone to Donye Evans. Warrecker said not so fast, spinning six perfect innings to kick off the combined no hitter. He followed up that Herculean performance with 4.1 shutout frames at Wareham to start that ballgame. There’s not a hotter pitcher in the Cape, his late push earns him starter of the first half honors. Sorry Donye, I hope the ice cream bar I brought to you in the bullpen at Chatham makes up for it.
Also receiving votes: Donye Evans, Alex Amalfi
Relief Pitcher: AJ Blubaugh
As I type this out, I’m watching Blubaugh rake the area around home plate diligently. It’s hard to imagine he puts more care into his pitching, but if you’ve watched him throw at all this summer you’d know that’s clearly the case. His ERA is a modest 0.00 through seven innings pitched. Lately he’s taken on a closer role, flexing his 96 mph heater under the lights in the ninth inning. As dominant as Blubaugh has been, this too was not an easy decision. Cooper McKeehan also sports a goose egg in the ERA column. Did I choose Blubaugh simply because he’s still with the team? Of course not!
Also receiving votes: Cooper McKeehan, Chris Clark
Defensive Player: Kevin Sim (Third Base Only)
Before I’m shouted down for ignoring the defensive prowess of Nik McClaughry, Connor Burns and Garret Guillemette, remember that the first annual “Lodies” consider the body of work as a progressive whole. Sim started the first handful of games at first base, where he was unimpressive at best. He’s since made the transition across the diamond to third base. What a switch that was. Not only has Sim made each routine play with relative ease, he’s gone horizontal a number of times to make spectacular plays. His fielding percentage sits at .980 overall, a number that didn’t seem achievable after he committed three errors at first in the first seven games of the summer.
Unsung Hero: Luke Hansard
Laundry, Charts, Equipment, you name it, Luke does it. The backbone of the organization. Student managers need more recognition in general, so it’s only appropriate that Hansard takes this Lodie home. I don’t know if the Birds get on the field every day if not for Luke.