DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?
The HSL Lord of Legerdemain
2003 was a magical season for Tricko and his Reds, as they shook off their luckless history of three consecutive second-place finishes and pulled a late-season rabbit out of the hat to lap the field and shatter McBlunderís 1997 team season scoring mark. Wonít everyone please join me now in congratulating, saluting, feting and paying tribute to one of the top HSL managers in the leagueís proud history, the one, the only, Mitch Magpie-Curby-Tricko Pirnie. Well done, oh Flattopped One.
As is customary, itís time now to look back at Magpieís draft and his intraseason moves to analyze just how Tricko earned his third HSL championship:
Through the free agent draft, in which Magpie participated during 19 of the 25 drafts, Tricko used a total of 34 free agent draft selections to take 30 new players. The cream of the crop were:
÷ Magpie made a total of 148 transactions throughout the season, including 34 free agent picks, 34 releases, 40 promotions and 40 demotions. Notice that Magpie didnít make a single position change and didnít have a single trade the entire season. Even after his miserable 194-point week No. 9, when RJ was hurt and nobody was performing, Magpie didnít panic and start sweeping the decks clean and making wholesale changes, but rather stayed the course and watched his team regroup and march resolutely to victory.
÷ Magpie held on to his top fourteen draft picks virtually the entire season, until cutting Raul Mondesi loose on September 22, 2003, during the last free agent draft in favor of some back-up pitching in case of an emergency. Pretty amazing to have your first fourteen draft picks all contribute valuably to the cause.
÷ Interesting that not only was Tricko able to win the title, but also to set a league scoring record even with his top draft pick worth less than his 28th round draft pick. In fact, Tricko could simply have passed on taking the second overall pick in the first round this year, and still have won this league handily, in retrospect. I challenge Tricko to replicate this feat, prospectively, next season. Let Itchie have ARod, let me have Pujols, and you can still run away with the 2004 title, Tricko. Come on.
÷ Even though we all know that itís all about pitching, Magpie proved that if you have enough hitting, you can still win this thing without great pitching. Of course, you have to have a Keith Foulke have a career year, and have darned good years from at least a couple of your pitchers, but your pitching does not have to be dominant, as Professor Tricko has now demonstrated.
÷ Not only did Magpie blow away the competition in terms of gross hitting points, his Reds led the league in almost every hitting category. Remarkably, the Reds led in batting average (.290), games played, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples and home runs. The only major categories that were led by others were RBIs, walks and stolen bases.
÷ Even though Trickoís top hitter (Garciaparra) was only tied for 10th among all hitters, and even though his second best hitter was only tied for 26th best among all hitters, Magpie curiously kicked everyone elseís arses in hitting, with a league-leading (an all-time best, Iím sure) hitting total of 6405 points. The second best hitting team was the Cubs*, who were a whopping 339 points behind at 6066. So what gives? Iím glad you asked.
Trickoís hitters won with unprecedented consistency. After Garciaparra, Magpie had Chipper, Bagwell and Jones at 600.0, 599.5 and 599.0 points, respectively. Not far behind were Blalock with 543.5, Kendall with 541.0, Carl ďThe TruthĒ Everett with 539.5, and Giles with 520.5 (again, as a Reds starter). Seven different players who scored between 520 and 600 points. You do the math. Those seven players collectively totaled 3943 points, an average of more than 560 points per man. Throw in Nomarís point totals and Magpie had eight players with a total of 4650 points, give or take. When your big dogs are scoring at a clip like this, you can afford to have three or four slackers on the bench just chipping in on a now-and-then basis.
Consistency wins championship, men. It may be as boring as watching paint dry or trying to suffer through one of Possumís 5 gigabyte message board offerings, but consistency up and down the lineup is where the rubber meets the road. Mental note to file, Ubob? No more turning off your brain after round 5 just because the superstuds are all gone.
That concludes my official tribute to Tricko and his championship Reds. Stay tuned for word from this station as to when Possumís sit-down tribute dinner for Magpie will be scheduled.
Final hitter and pitcher rankings.
Updated record of final finishes.
More brilliant commentary.
More stuff thatís all good.
Last night I watched the Senatorsí own Kerry Wood pitch the Cubs to victory in Game 5 of their divisional series against Atlanta. Iíve never been a big Cubs fan, but I find myself pulling for them to make it to the World Series. Part of it may be that I canít stand the thought of seeing the Florida Marlins in the World Series as a mediocre wild card team, although I certainly have always liked Trader Jack McKeon. Part of it may be that it would be a whole lot easier to get to Chicago for a World Series game than to Atlanta or Florida or San Francisco. But mostly itís probably because in all of our lifetimes we have never seen the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, since it has been 58 years since they were last there in 1945 when they lost a seven-game series to the Detroit Tigers. And of course, you have to go all the way back to 1908 ó 95 years ago ó to find the last time that the Cubs won the World Series, in the second of their back-to-back October Classics against the Detroit Tigers.
In the meantime, the Cubs lost to the Philadelphia Aís in 1910, to the Red Sox in 1918, to the Philadelphia Aís in 1929 (nothing to be ashamed of there, mind you), to the New York Yankees in 1932 (the year of the Babeís called shot), to the Detroit Tigers in 1935, and then to the DiMaggio-led Yankees in 1938. After 1945, the Cubs stopped trying.
The Red Sox against the Cubs would be a dream matchup, guarantying that one of these two proud franchises would end their near century of futility. Weíll find out tonight if thatís still a possibility. A Cubs-Aís matchup would be the first since 1929, but it would be different since the Aís moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City to Oakland. A Cubs-Yankees matchup would also be pretty cool, but first the Cubs have to get past the Marlins, which may be no mean feat.
Let me go on record right now: If the Cubs make it to the World Series, Iím going. Whoís with me? Wrigley Field will be an absolute madhouse for at least two if not three games.
Could you imagine a Roger Clemens vs. Kerry Wood seventh game matchup? Epic. I would have to try to find a way to get to that one.
All together now: GO CUBS!!
Back at you next issue.
 (144 while in Magpieís starting lineup).
 486 as a Reds starters
 520.5 in Magpieís starting lineup.
 295 in Magpieís starting lineup.
 317.5 as a Reds starter.
 175.5 in Magpieís starting lineup.
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