Official Publication of the

Special Edition of

From the Bullpen

Official Publication of The Hot Stove League

Eastern Nebraska Division

2004 Season          Edition No. 5

March 10, 2004

Guest Editor:  Itchie





     Unfortunately, we’re not talking about an extra glass of the “fresh squeezed” variety you might find down there in Florida, where at long last Spring Training is once again underway. Here we are, a mere 17 days out from the draft, and the baseball world is all abuzz with talk of steroids, the need for salary caps, labor unions, Puerto Rico, BALCO, and various other distasteful topics that detract from the natural beauty of the game we all love. Whatever happened to “the smell of freshly cut green grass, a warm breeze, the crack of the bat, the aroma of new leather, and the pop of a fastball settling into the catcher’s mitt?” It’s been replaced by the sound of urine landing in a Dixie cup.


     Personally, I’m shocked at all this talk. Baseball players using steroids? Really? Do ya think? I was quite sure the increase in Barry Bonds cranium size from 6 ¾ to 8 ½ was just a natural result of that intense, off season weight lifting regimen he espouses. Haven’t we all spent some time pumping iron on the skull machine at the gym to inflate our melon size?


     And surely Jason Giambi’s shedding of 30 pounds was a by-product of infinite hours spent on the treadmill, and had nothing to do with the spring-cleaning of needles from his medicine cabinet just ahead of potential testing dates. But alas, if you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t trying. Just ask Sammy Sosa.


     Let’s forget about all that and focus on the burning issue of the day….what does all this mean for Blongo’s draft strategy come 3/27? I can just see the wheels turning, albeit ever so slowly, in his head, generating these thoughts: Which players have sworn off the juice, only to foretell a drop in long ball production of Brady Andersen proportions (50 to 19)?  Is pitching the ticket to the title this year? Is Kal Daniels still available? Will Joe Randa, Runnelvys Hernandez, and Jimmy Gobble still be available in the sixth round, or should I pull the trigger now? Oh boy, oh boy, I really don’t like this….what should I do…this is not fun…..I’m a dead man walking…they’re gonna laugh at me…my pick, my pick, my pick….Mike Sweeney!



2004 IS THE YEAR OF THE ?????????


     It’s a brand new year, and Hope Springs Eternal, as they say. It is such a pleasure to erase the bad memories associated with Magpie’s incomprehensible run of blind luck in 2003, culminating in his third HSL crown, and start with a clean slate. Everyone is tied for first place (if only for a day, Big Guy), and the fleeting thought that “this just might be my year” can justifiably run through each of your noggins without fear of repercussion or ridicule from the balance of the league members. So what’s new in 2004? An abundance of off season moves, combined with the ex steroid factor, will have the Possum posturing for “just a little more time” between picks (let’s say an extension from the current 5 minute gap to 15 minutes) come draft day. My sage advice is this, boys: Read your magazines, scan your box scores, run your numbers, and most importantly, sharpen your vision so that you can see what the guy next to you at the draft table has written down. Don’t get caught watching the paint dry!


     As the draft approaches (Holy crap, I gotta get to Amoco pretty soon, it’s almost here), I’m sure you are each asking yourselves these same, pressing questions:



Is Pudge back among the elite catchers, or was his banner year with the Marlins simply a “contract year” performance? Will Comerica Park damage his numbers? Can anybody really be happy and have a good year in Detroit? If happy –go-lucky Juan Gonzalez was miserable there, is there really hope for anyone?



Speaking of Juan Gone, I see he finally landed in KC. Guess that assures him a spot on the Blues roster for this year. After his incessant bitching about the unfair length of the fences in Detroit, he turns down $110 million to get out of there and eventually ends up, two years later, at Kaufman Stadium. And what’s the first thing they did in the off season? You got it, they moved the fences back. Sounds like the Summer of our Discontent is just around the corner.



Will Piazza make a comeback and return to putting up the numbers that were once considered automatic for him? How will playing first base part time impact his psyche? Can he really hit without the ominous threat of Mo Vaughn batting behind him?



Which team will get to 120 wins first, the Red Sox or the Yankees? If money can buy you a title, and BT proved right here in this league that it damn well can, are they a lock to square off in the ALCS? Will Schilling’s move to the AL spell a higher ERA in the smaller confines of Fenway? Can A Rod and Jeter co-exist on the left side of the Pin stripers infield? Could Don Zimmer take Pedro in a steel cage match?



With Jesse Orosco retiring, is any player active in the major leagues actually older than me? The rosters would say no, but I’m holding out hope for Julio Franco. While the documents may say he’s 45, we all know the correct calculation for Dominican born players is “listed age + 5 = actual age”



Who has the best starting rotation in all of baseball? This may be the best debate of all. In light of off season pickups, several teams may lay claim to having the best 1-2-3 punch. Take a look at these rotations and pick your poison of who you’d least like to face in a best of five series:


               Hudson, Mulder, Zito

               Wood, Maddux, Prior

               Oswalt, Pettite, Clemens

               Mussina, Vazquez, Brown

               Martinez, Schilling, Lowe

               Beckett, Burnett, Willis



Will Scott bring burgers, Runza’s, and chili to the draft? Should I eat a small breakfast in order to take full advantage of his charity? Where could I hide my backpack without being seen by the rest of the gang?  Are you gonna finish those onion rings? ( Sorry, I must have somehow temporarily tapped into Shamu’s brain)



Will this new Gaines Mullen War Room actually have a thermostat and be able to maintain a temperature below 85 degrees?




     I know from time to time we’ve had certain league members alter the nickname of their squads in a feeble attempt to blame their ongoing misfortunes on some silly superstition, rather than taking responsibility for their own ineptness. Kind of like blaming a goat or a trade that occurred several decades ago for your futility. Well, let me tell you what… it works, as the Skipjax and Wahoos can attest to. So, to help out some of the teams that have not had the good fortune to wear the league crown, and as a tribute to the 25 year anniversary of Animal House, I’ve decided that each of you will now have a new HSL nickname for your teams. The revisions are as follows:





Flying Nuns


Yay Hoos











Bronx Bombers



Shannon Stewarts




2004 Champs


     Why????…………………………………    WHY NOT!!!!


     Good luck boning up on the draft fellas. We’ll see you on the 27th.


     Play Ball!!!! This is gonna be fun.







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