Edition No. 33
October 19, 2004
Just kidding, but too good a line to pass up.
We’ll start this issue by updating the All-Time performance lists for our league, dating back to the 1993 season when we converted to the Bill James system. Here are the updated lists of All-Time Batting and Pitching Performances:
To update our list from the last time that it was revised, in 2002, we have added A-Rod’s total of 839 points (now at No. 11) from 2003, Pujols’ total of 821 points (now No. 14 on the list) from 2003, and Bonds’ total of 857 points from this year to the hitting list. Bonds’ total from this year puts him at 7th on the All-Time list, while dropping off the Top 20 List are Jeter (790 points in 1999), Piazza (785 in 1997), and Albert Belle (768 in 1996).
On the pitching side, both Santana and RJ scored enough points this year to crack the Top 20. Santana’s total of 675 points puts him at No. 14 on the All-Time List, and the Big Unit’s total of 651 ties him with Eric Gagne’s similar total from 2002 for 16th place on the All-Time List. Gagne’s 2003 total of 702 points also has been added to the list, and ranks as the 9th best pitching total of all-time, one of nine pitching efforts which have exceeded 700 points for the season. Pedro’s total of 619 points in 2002, Hoffman’s total of 616 points from 1998 and Brown’s total of 610 points from 1996 all drop off of the Top 20.
It’s time also to update our Top 20 List of weekly team point totals. Although we had three 500-plus point weeks this year which cracked the Top 20, and three 500-plus point weeks from 2003 which also make the list, none of these totals are able to crack into the top five. The 535.0 point total of Big Guy’s Tigers during Week 17 of this year comes the closest, slipping into the 6th place spot just behind the Blues’ 537 point week of August of 1998, that very magical year for Stretch’s team.
The new Top 20 now reads as follows:
TOP TWENTY HSL WEEKS
I love numbers. Can’t get enough of them. I guess I should have been an accountant, but everyone knows that the bar exam is a lot easier than the CPA tests. Anyway, forgive me for the avalanche of numbers in this and past issues, but I can’t help myself. I know that there are some of you who in this regard are just like me (Big Guy and Possum, for certain, probably more), but others of you who couldn’t care less. Which is fine. Vive la difference! Enjoy them, or ignore them, as you choose.
We’ve now been doing this Bill James thing for twelve years, and so I thought it would be fun to update our gross point totals for the duration of our twelve-team league. I won’t guarantee the math, since I did it by longhand late at night by dim light on an airplane, but hopefully I’m at least close.
The numbers speak for themselves, but I will point out a couple of interesting observations, at least to me. First, it is remarkable that the Redbirds are 4th on the list even though Jim Ed has yet to have his name etched on The Cup. Tirebiter clearly knows how to compete, he just needs to figure out how to close.
I was surprised to see that the Senators are 5th in all-time points, despite winning three titles during this stretch of twelve seasons. Guess I had a couple of pretty bad years in there somewhere.
Similarly, one would expect Itchie’s Skipjacks to be 1st or at least 2nd in gross points during this time period, since the Jax also have three crowns to their name during the dozen years in question. Itchie always says he’s a “closer,” and I guess the numbers would tend to bear this out. They also show us that even though the Reds and Red Sox have fewer notches on their belt during this time frame, they are always in the hunt.
The Senators’ team point total this year of 9804.5 points is the second-highest total on record, just a tad below Magpie’s Reds’ total of 9899.0 points last season. While it is recognized that there have been a few changes in bonus points, point caps and points awarded for certain categories which impact on the numbers, for what it’s worth, here is a list of the Top Ten HSL Team Totals since 1993:
Whether intentional or not (opinions on this differ), the 2004 Tribe has set a new low-water mark for team points scored in a non-strike-shortened season, with 6176.5. Here is the full Bottom Ten:
**On posting of the HSL Winners’ Circle, have separate box for the 12-year running total as above.
As this issue of FTB goes to press, I anticipate that the woebegone Boston Red Sox will have lost their ALCS championship series to the Yankees, and that BoSox fans everywhere will be crying in their beer about the Curse of the Bambino. I probably mentioned this in an earlier issue, but during our San Diego trip this year and in the time period immediately following same, I read Dan Shaughnessy’s book entitled “The Curse of the Bambino.” It was pretty interesting reading, although full of much hyperbole and somewhat short on scholarly research. Mostly, it just gives New Englanders plenty of grist to bitch and moan and whine about for as long as their beloved Red Sox continue to fall short of winning the World Series.
As pointed out in the book and elsewhere, after the Red Sox (then known as the “Beaneaters”) won the inaugural World Series in 1903 over the Pittsburgh Pirates, and then won four more Series crowns during the teens (1912, 1915, 1916 and 1918). Since the time that star player Babe Ruth was sold by owner Harry Frazee for $100,000 following the 1919 season, the Red Sox have never again won baseball’s October Classic, going oh-for-four in that span, with each Series being lost by a 4-games-to-3 margin. Hence, the dreaded Babe Ruth curse.
The truth of the matter is, the Red Sox franchise took a serious blow from the sale of the Bambino, but the fact that Frazee also sold or traded most of his other star and above-average players to the Yankees during the ensuing years was likewise a substantial factor in the demise of the once-proud Boston franchise. The Red Sox of the 1920s and ’30s were mostly pitiful teams who finished at or near the bottom of the American League, and it wasn’t until Teddy Ballgame came along and brought the Red Sox back to respectability that they were able to make it back to the World Series.
Even with The Kid on their side, the Red Sox could only make it to the World Series one time during his entire career, in 1946, when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 7th game when Enos Slaughter scored from first base in that famous play of yore. In 1948 the Red Sox lost a one-game playoff to the Yankees which prevented them from making it back to the World Series, followed by a dry spell of 19 years before the Sox would again have a chance for postseason play. In 1967, the Sox lost a classic 7-game set to the St. Louis Cardinals and the matchless Bob Gibson.
After their loss to the Cardinals in the 1967 World Series, the Red Sox next made it to the Fall Classic in 1975, and gave the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati all that they could handle in a classic Series. Although the Sox lost 4 games to 3, they led in almost every one of their seven games, and had multiple chances to take this Series, if not for the Curse of the Bambino.
And then, of course, the Red Sox next made it back to the World Series in 1986, the year that they had certain victory wrested from their clenched fists by the New York Mets, thanks in no small measure to Billy Buck’s horrific boot. Eighteen years later, the Sox are still looking for redemption.
When I first started dictating this Bullpen, the Yankees had a 3-0 Series lead on the Red Sox, and the Cardinals were sitting 2-0 against the Astros, so it was looking like a Yankees-Cardinals World Series. The last time these two teams hooked up in the October Classic was 1964, when Bob Gibson’s Cardinals beat the Mickey Mantle Yankees by a final measure of 4 games to 3. The outcome of the ’64 Series put the Cardinals ahead of the Yankees by a tally of 3-2 in their five World Series matchups. If both teams can find their way back to the Series this year, forty years later, the Yankees will have a chance to even the score. These are the two most storied franchises in World Series history, with the Yankees owning a 26-and-13 record in World Series play (an amazing 39 AL pennants) and the Cardinals holding a 9-and-7 record in World Series competition. No other team is even close in terms of league pennants or wins. It would be fitting for them to play each other again.
I am certain that it is no coincidence that three of our League members have October birthdays, with U-Bob on October 1, SloPay on October 6, and the Skipper on October 21. Best birthday wishes to my League brethren.
That’s all for this issue. While I had more to say, I’ve been too busy watching baseball to write about it, and so I will plan to favor you all in a future issue of From the Bullpen with more fascinating and titillating bits of HSL and non-HSL baseball information. You won’t want to miss it.
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