Hammerheads Fire Henley

Today, the Jackson Hammerheads announced that they had fired manager Bob Henley after one season. Henley managed the team to a disappointing fourth-place finish and 79-71 record.  Reached for comment, Hammerheads owner/whiz-kid GM Steven Butler directed reporters to the following statement, which was posted on Twitter and emailed to season-ticket holders.


Dear Jackson Hammerheads fans,

Two seasons ago, when baseball returned to Jackson, we envisioned drunk fans at Cash Carter Downs every night cheering on the hometown team. Your energy until the very end of this year’s season, to be honest, disappointed us as we reflected on how far our team and our fanbase have come (a saying usually reserved for franchises that have accomplished something). As our organization has developed into a perennial contender (though never even making the playoffs), you’ve somewhat stood by our side — cheering our successes, keeping us honest in our approach to improvement, and celebrating with us as we’ve captured no titles or even really been in the postseason conversation.

Together, we’ve brought competitive, winning baseball back to Jackson (even though it has been here for a while at this point with no postseason success) with a passionate fanbase that every team in the Patriot League would be proud to call its own. More than anything, we want to confuse you with this line: “we want to share with you the elation of the final out going in our favor, when we can finally bring a championship home to Jackson.”

Even though this ultimately wasn’t our season, we remain devoted to that cause by firing our manager and in no way maintaining consistency at the position in further pursuit of that goal. This was an incredibly difficult decision for us. Bob Henley represented our get-on-base mentality on and off the field (hey ohhhhhhhhh!). We never really wanted to pay him an amount of money fair to a well-experienced manager with an equally respectable contract term, so we won’t even bother with the well wishes.

We won’t lie-we don’t really have a plan, nor do we expect to change anything about our manager hiring process, so take this for what it is: a self-indulgent ploy to make it seem like we aren’t cheap bastards when it comes to hiring a manager.



The Butler Family (but let’s be real, it’s Sultan)

Hammerheads Boot Sheen From Closer Role

The Jackson Hammerheads‘ patience closer with troubled closer Rick Sheen has finally reached its limit.  After a season-plus of shaky on-field results and off-field problems with alcohol, Sheen has been bumped from the closer role.  According to team sources, manager Bob Henley has been contemplating the move for a while, but finally pulled the trigger after an embarrassing incident in yesterday’s game.

Sheen worked the 9th inning of yesterday’s 4-1 win over Orlando, but observers noticed that for some reason, he was wearing teammate Hilton Sircy’s jersey while he did so.  Henley refused to comment on it after the game, but team sources described a chaotic and bizarre scene.

Rick Sheen

The night before, Henley had called on Sircy, not Sheen, in a key situation in the 9th.  As a result, Sheen went out and drowned his frustrations at a local bar for hours afterward.  When Sheen arrived at the ballpark yesterday, he was reportedly extremely hung over.  In the early innings of the games, he napped in the bullpen, trying to sleep off his hangover.

During the top of the 9th, Henley called down to the bullpen and ordered Sheen to warm up.  Bullpen coach Tommy Clemons went over to rouse Sheen, who had dozed off.  When Sheen came to, he immediately threw up all over his jersey.  A flustered Clemons called Henley and told him that Sheen was unavailable.  When Henley asked why and Clemons said that Sheen was hungover, the manager became furious.  “He damn well better get his [expletive] in the game.  I don’t care if you have to carry him in.”

To spare Sheen the embarrassment of appearing in a stained jersey, Sircy offered his shirt to the closer.  So out came Sheen, wearing Sircy’s jersey.  To his credit, he managed to pitch a scoreless inning – lowering his ERA to 9.26, and collect his fourth save of the season.  After the game, Henley held a closed-door meeting with Sheen that lasted over a half-hour.

Trouble with alcohol has been a constant of Sheen’s brief career, dating back to spring training of his rookie season, when he was arrested after being in a bar fight.  He clashed on several occasions with the late Lou Hayes, Jackson’s manager last season, over his penchant for drinking and partying.  At the team’s insistence, Sheen went to the Betty Ford Clinic in the offseason.  But as his season got off to a rocky start, he took to the bottle again.

“Look, I like Rick,” said Henley.  “I hoped it wouldn’t come to this.  But I’ve got a ballclub to run, and we’ve got to win games.  And right now, Rick’s not helping us do that.”

Henley said that Bobby Boniface will take over as the Hammerheads’ closer.  Sheen will be relegated to mopup duty until he can straighten out his pitching and get his drinking under control.

To soften the blow, Henley and Jackson owner/whiz-kid GM Steven Butler reportedly took Sheen out for an evening on the town, enjoying a fine meal and a night of gambling at the casino attached to Orlando’s stadium.  “Rick may not be our closer any more, but he’s still part of the family,” said Butler.  Rumors that the evening came to a premature end when the owner/whiz-kid GM took a swing at another patron are unconfirmed.

Hammerheads Shake Up Pitching Staff

The Jackson Hammerheads never expected to find themselves here.  After finishing a strong second in the East last season, Jackson owner/whiz-kid GM Steven Butler made a series of aggressive trades designed to propel them to the top.  Instead, after a dreadful first couple of weeks, the Hammerheads are stuck in the cellar with a 5-10 record.

Worse yet, the biggest problem plaguing Jackson is the same issue that derailed them last year: the pitching staff.  The Hammerheads’ 6.14 team ERA is the worst in the league by a healthy margin.  The rotation has posted a dismal 6.83 mark; only first-year man Willie Lebron has inspired confidence.  And the bullpen has been responsible for a surge in ulcers around central Mississippi after a string of late-inning meltdowns.

Bob Henley

Manager Bob Henley has seen enough.  Today, the skipper announced a shakeup of his pitching staff.

“When you got the kind of talent we’ve got, this kind of start just ain’t acceptable,” said Henley.  “We’re not performing, so I’m making some changes.  And I’ll keep making changes until we get this right.”

Yu Chen
Tony Harris

In order to fix the rotation, Henley demoted Korean lefty Yu Chen to the bullpen and made righty Tony Harris a starter.  Chen was acquired from Knoxville in the middle of last season and turned in underwhelming numbers.  This season, he’s been even worse, going 0-1 with a 10.95 ERA and barely averaging 4 innings per start.  The 37-year-old Harris, acquired from Jacksonville shortly before the start of this season, has excelled in long-relief work, posting a 1.35 ERA in 7 appearances.

“What I’ve seen out of Tony is a guy who get the job done and inspires confidence,” said Henley.  “I’m not seeing that same confidence in Yu.  In my clubhouse, you do the job and you get rewarded.  Tony’s earned a chance to show us what he can do.”

Butch Turnbull

To address the relief problems, Henley sent Butch Turnbull to the minors.  The hard-throwing right-hander has appeared frequently in late-game situations, making 9 appearances already in the young season.  Unfortunately, he’s struggled badly, going 0-2 with an 8.53 ERA.

“I’ve given Butch plenty of rope, and he’s made a noose out of it,” said Henley.  “I’ve seen enough.”

Turnbull’s roster spot will be given to DH Dexter Jester.  His late-inning duties will be turned over to righty Bobby Boniface and lefties Hilton Sircy and Sam Drawdy.

A furious Turnbull responded to the move by demanding a trade.  “I don’t know what they want me to do here,” the righty fumed.  “Last year, I practically had to beg to get into games.  This year, they run me out there every night.  I don’t know if they’re trying to ruin me or what, but I’m sick of it.  I want to go to a team that will just let me pitch and quit jerking me around.”

Henley hopes the moves will put other struggling pitchers on notice.  Henley did not demote closer Rick Sheen, who’s blown 2 of 4 save opportunities and is allowing a 1.381 OPS against, or #1 starter Henry Jones, who’s gone 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA on the season.  But he stressed that no one, regardless of salary or reputation, is safe.

“Now they know I’m serious,” said Henley.  “If you don’t do your job, you’re gonna spend some time on the bench or in the minors.  No excuses.”

Leaked information from inside the clubhouse suggested that Henley is contemplating replacing Sheen as closer with Boniface; the manager said only, “Everything’s on the table if we don’t get better.”