Edition No. 18
June 29, 2004
This week’s edition of From the Bullpen comes from the owner and manager of the Kings of Capitol Hill, your own beloved Skipper. Not unlike the beleaguered Trent Lott or the much-maligned and misunderstood Gary Hart, old Senator Skipper is anything but happy about the current State of the Union in the Senators clubhouse. Talk about a lack of traction. The old Skipper up and drafts one of his best Hot Stove League team in years, and then must sit glumly by and watch the likes of Roy Halladay (Round 2), Billy Wagner (Round 4), Preston Wilson (Round 5), Chipper Jones (Round 6), and Shekky Green (Round 7) suffer through injury-plagued and career-threatening years. If even two of these five high-round picks were having even average career years, it would be Katie-bar-the-door and the Senators would be well on their way to their fourth etching on The Cup.
I just don’t get it. In the weekly free agent draft, I have been edged out on my primary selections more times than Ralph Nader in his political career. In the managerial department, I have been victimized by the Shell Game more dramatically and painfully than that certain episode in the mean streets of Manhattan circa 1979, which U-Bob would be happy to recount for all of you if you feel like another good laugh at Skipper’s expense.
In sum, I am mad as hell, and if I had any choice in the matter, I sure as heck wouldn’t take it anymore. If only I could figure out why the 2004 season has chosen to beat me up like a red-headed stepchild, I would surely try to find a way to rectify this oppressive and unfair treatment of my vaunted Senators team.
* Vlad Guerrero is the league MVP of the year through twelve weeks with 382 points. Good Lord, where would the 9th place Chiefs be without him?
* The Big Unit is still the Cy Young of the year with 389.5 points, thanks to his 100-point bonus for his perfect game. Have I mentioned to any of you that I actually have personally witnessed a perfect game? Ask me about it sometime.
* The leading hitting team through twelve weeks is (groan) the Wahoos, with 3042.0 points, a country mile ahead of the 2nd place Pirates (2795.5). Bringing up the rear guard in hitting would be the Tribe, with a sickly 2314.5 points. Hmmm. Too bad U-Bob ignored hitting in favor of pitching this season. Wrong.
* The leading pitching team through twelve weeks is, and it pains me to say it, the Skipjacks with 1795 points, exactly 31 points ahead of the second-best staff of the Senators. It ain’t right, but it’s a fact. Bringing up the rear in the pitching department is, no big surprise here, the Tribe with 829.5 points. If one purposefully tried to assemble a poorer pitching staff on Draft Day, I don’t think one could do it.
* In the same time, last year department, through twelve weeks of the 2003 season, the leading team through twelve weeks was –– to my surprise –– the Cubs* with 4419 points, followed closely by the Reds with 4415 and the Skipjacks with 4345. Thus, the pace being set this year by the Wahoos is more than 300 points ahead of where things stood last year at this same time. So much for the BALCO theory.
* Same time, last year II –– the last place team through twelve weeks of the 2003 season was the then-lowly Redbirds, who had a paltry 3557 points, or about 400 more points than the Tribe’s total for twelve weeks of this year. I know, I know, I should be flagged for piling on, but I can’t help it. The 2004 Tribe team is the proverbial train wreck that I can’t keep myself from staring at in shock and awe.
* Wahoos: I still say Possum is doing it with smoke, mirrors, and blind-A luck. Adam Dunn, Matt Lawton, Steve Finley, Steve Trachsel, Joe Nathan, yadda yadda yadda. Need I say more? Methinks that the devil will get his due, one of these days.
* Skipjacks: Beltre, Radke, Drese, Robertson, Worrell, Barajas, Looper. Res ipsa loquitor. Lucky in love and the Hot Stove League, unlucky in hair preservation. It all evens out.
* Tigers: Notwithstanding a dreadful recent spell of lackluster performances, the Tigers are well again and look ready to make a move. Big Guy’s ace, the Big Unit, just notched his 4000th career strikeout and is hungry for a sixth Cy Young award. Eric Gagne is starting to chalk up saves and points, and Freddie Garcia is newly motivated. If Big Guy can get Kevin Brown back into the rotation and keep Moises Alou interested during the dog days of August, this team has an excellent chance of doing the Worst to First thing this season.
* Irates: Who’d have thought that after six fortnights the Irates would still be within echo distance of the league leader? SloPay’s team hasn’t been this high this late in the year since Denny broke out a carafe of Mad Dog 20-20 when the Irates broke out of the cellar in ’91. With a solid pitching staff and young hitting studs like Joe Mauer, Nick Green, Casey Blake and Hank Blalock, the Irates are doing their best impersonation of a team that has a reasonable chance of competing for a money spot this year. So long as his team can avoid devastating injuries and Jose Mesa can continue to keep his pants on, the Irates look to be up for one of their highest finishes in decades.
* Redbirds: Talk about a red hot team, the Redbirds are clicking on all cylinders and threatening to move up into a money position. With Jim Thome going nuts, with Bret Boone heating up, with Carlos Guillen staying hot, and with Roy Oswalt and Johan Santana returning to form, I see this team as finishing in the top three this year if Tirebiter doesn’t shoot himself in the beak between now and then. Don’t know if he’s listening out there, but B.T. had better be concerned about his ten-year bet with Jim Ed, because this could be the year that the Crimson Chirpers win it all.
* Senators: Darn it all to heck, I still love my team. Barring further injury problems, I still say that this team is going to be in the thick of things at the season’s end. Any takers out there?
* Reds: Oh, like you knew Carl Pavano was going to be the sixth best pitcher? And that Armanda Benitez would be the second-best closer and third-best pitcher overall? Lady luck, thy name is Magpie.
* Cubs*: Where would this team be without I-Rod and Livan? In the hurt locker, that’s where. Unless Sosa and Hidalgo can hitch up their trousers and turn their seasons around, I don’t like Shamu’s prospects for an Upper Division finish.
* Chiefs: Even with Vladdy, Jason Schmidt, Paul Wilson and Eric Milton having career years, this team is going nowhere, fast. Barring some complete reversal of fortune, the Chiefs are looking at a Lower Division finish, and Screech may be looking for a new job.
* Bronx Bombers: What if this team didn’t have Kenny Rogers, Paul Konerko and Vinny Castilla having unexpected career years? What if they didn’t have Mariano Rivera, the top pitcher, and Manny Ramirez as the fourth best hitter? What if Jeromy Bernitz wasn’t overachieving? How low could they go? It doesn’t look good, Mouse. No, not at all.
* Blues: Somehow, some way, even with Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, Jake Westbrook, Victor Zambrano, Keith Foulke, Mark Prior and Zack Greinke on the pitching staff, this team has the second-worst pitching staff in the league with 975 points, more than 500 points behind the tenth-best Chiefs. How, you ask? Can you say: Mismanagement?
* Tribe: Nice team, Bob. Without a single hitter in the top 20, and not a single pitcher in the top 1000, it is not difficult to see why the Tribe is where they are today. To say that 2004 is U-Bob’s Summer of Discontent might be the understatement of the year.
My apologies for getting this up on the web a day or two late, which I am certain will buy me some grief from you nitpickers. In my own defense, I have been busier than a one-armed paperhanger with all of my baseball coaching duties and my part-time law practice, and if necessary, I could come up with another dozen excuses or so to put Screech’s delayed publication to shame, but I will assume that you kind fellows will cut me some slack and that I won’t need to go into that sort of humiliating self-analysis and disclosure.
I would normally close by wishing you all good luck during the second half of the season, but most of you and your teams have already had far too damned much luck, and so I will reserve such wishes only for my own luckless Senators and the abyss-occupying Tribe.
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