AFL Championship preview extravaganza

OK, maybe that’s overstating things, but I really wanted to use the word extravaganza…

Keep an eye out for my “official” championship preview story over on MLB.com and mlbfallball.com. Should be up in a little while.

But I figured, why wait? They’ll be on the story, but in case you were curious, here are the starting lineups for the game:

Mesa

1. Matt Young LF
2. Jason Donald SS
3. Logan Morrison DH
4. Jeff Larish 1B
5. Tyler Flowers C
6. Scott Cousins CF
7. Casper Wells RF
8. Van Pope 3B
9. Will Rhymes 2b
Tommy Hanson RHP

Phoenix

1. Eric Young Jr. CF
2. Steve Tolleson SS
3. J.P. Arencibia C
4. Mike McKenry DH
5. Josh Donaldson 1B
6. Dustin Martin LF
7. Chris Nelson 2B
8. Danny Valencia 3B
9. Evan Frey RF
Jeff Manship RHP

Noticeably absent from the Desert Dogs lineup is Sean Doolittle. He’d normally hit cleanup and probably play a corner OF spot (maybe 1B), but he had prior commitments and will not be at the game.

You think these guys aren’t taking this seriously? Take a look at some of these quotes, some of which are in the story and some which didn’t make the cut:

Eric Young Jr.: “It’s always a great time when you play in a championship game. Both teams are going to be pumped up to play. There will be more fans in the stands and that  brings more excitement. With what Tommy Hanson’s brought to the table this fall and in the Minors, he’s a real good pitcher. You have to bring your A game. If you can’t get pumped up for that, you don’t need to be in this business.”

Tommy Hanson: “It’s definitely an honor to get to throw in the championship game, especially for this team. Hopefully, I’ll do what I’ve been doing during the whole fall and give us a chance to win a ring. Now we’re at a point where we’re playing to win. We’ll do what it takes to try to win.”

Logan Morrison: “It’s the end of the season and we only want one game to do it, but we all want to get it done. The only way I can play is to be competitive. If I’m not competitive, I’m not going to do my best.”

Rocket Wheeler: “It’s what we’ve played for all year. We’ve played loose and played hard. They’ve played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. It’s a credit to these kids. We set the example early, but they went out and did it.”

Stan Cliburn: When they started putting rings out in this league, any time you play in a league sanctioned by Major League Baseball, you’re playing for a championship. The fall league is no exception. Our players, from day one, we knew reaching that championship would be a goal. They’re all excited about it. I set the tone early, that we’re down here for a purpose, not only to develop you, but to win baseball games. The Phoenix Desert Dogs have a little run going. I kept hearing, ‘Stan, you have a tradition to keep up.’ Getting that opportunity is what it’s all about.”

Be sure to watch all the action on MLB.com at 2:30 p.m. ET. It’ll be me and Vinny Micucci with the call. More later…

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