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29 Off-Season 2051 @04:29 GMT

Season Milestones NOW Signing Announcement: 4.5 hours ago Winter Leagues Begin: 4.5 hours ago Signing Announcement: 19.5 hours League Finances Due: 19.5 hours Spring Training: 43.5 hours Join League Deadline: 43.5 hours Signing Announcement: 43.5 hours Update Contracts: 43.5 hours Message Boards -> Press Releases -> Melonheads Kick off Second Full Season with High Hopes, Fresh Faces

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Melonheads Kick off Second Full Season with High Hopes, Fresh Faces
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22 Jun 2019

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03 Aug 2019 06:40:26 AM
BOTHELL, WASHINGTON - Baseball is back, and the Humongous Melonheads are hungry as ever.

After a successful 124-62 season that placed them 4th in the Park standings - and earned them a bye into the quarterfinals - the Melonheads are not resting on their laurels. Despite the high finish and a roster widely regarded as one of the best in the world, the Melonheads dropped their lone playoff series to the 5th ranked Milford Mudhens 2 games to 1, sending them home to watch the Hillsborough Hitmen ultimately win the first official Park trophy in over half a century. The early exit left them not disappointed but anxious to prove themselves.

"We haven't shown what we're really capable of," said catcher and team captain James Anderson. "We've been training hard all offseason, and we've added some guys that are going to really help us out."

True: while there are many familiar faces to be found at the Melonheads' practice facility these days, there are also several transplants from the organization's B club, the Sacramento Dolphins, including outfielder Herbert McDaniel, who was a Melonhead during the abbreviated 2034 season but was cut after just two games in 2035, and starting pitcher Robert Gurley, who exploded onto the scene as an 18-year old, posting a stellar 11-2 win-loss record and 2.55 ERA in 141.1 innings of swing man duties. They'll be playing alongside fellow former Dolphins Larry Martinez (3B ), Marcus Hurst (2B ), Mark Fitzhugh (SP), and Gregory Fernandez (RP), the latter of whom is another member of the original 2034 squad. As for returners, star center fielder Nathan Kelly looks to build off a quality .321/.384/.446 season as the team's lead-off man, while hard-throwing ace and fan favorite Gary Collins looks to continue to grow as a pitcher, limiting the home runs that occasionally bit him in the rear despite an overall strong statline. Craig Garcia is confirmed to be returning to his role as the team's primary closer after saving 23 games last season as well as the team's lone playoff win.

Of course, the addition of new players means that some difficult decisions had to be made. Most of the departing Melonheads have been placed on the Dolphins, including second baseman Lynn Griffin, who was surprisingly beat out for his roster spot after posting the 3rd best OPS on the 2035 team.

"I'm using it as motivation," said Griffin. "Marcus is a good player, and he obviously impressed the coaches this spring. But I'll play wherever they send me. And you know, the Melonheads are considered the best of the best, or whatever, but we have just as much of a chance to qualify for the playoffs if we beat them out."

Griffin has a point: although only one team per organization is allowed to qualify for the postseason, there is nothing stating that it can't be any of them. That is to say nothing of the five new teams that have been started by D.T. Igers, including one that will be participating in an experimental rookie league for up-and-coming 17-year olds and three that aren't even based in the continental United States. Most feature fresh faces, including many 18-year olds, but a number of former Dolphins and Melonheads have been given new assignments as well, including disgruntled third baseman Charles Kennedy who begrudgingly accepted relegation to the Copenhagen 47s, a team comprised almost entirely of rookies, in spite of a year in which he posted the second best OPS on the Melonheads.

"It's bull---t," Kennedy grunted when probed for comment.

With a full slate of teams, the organization under Igers' control is doing its best to balance equally the priorities of winning now and building for the future of baseball, whatever that may entail. Over 200 players will be vying for the attention of scouts and coaches alike once the Rookie League season kicks off, and the Melonheads of tomorrow may well be a Samurai or a Blazer today. As for which team prevails in 2036, only time will tell, but everyone is in first place on April 1st, and that is the undeniable beauty of Opening Day.

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