OK, I knew it couldn’t last, but at least a boy could dream. There I was on April 30, 2005 and The Blues were in first place. It was a glorious three, almost four weeks. The hitters were hitting and the pitchers were pitching and blind ass luck was prevailing. (And this despite the fact that my first starting pitcher selected (4th round), Oliver Perez -- who Ernie was kind enough to say, “You’ll really like him” -- was in negative numbers and Rolen was batting .200.) Oh, but reality has set in, having plummeted some 7 spots in a little over two weeks, it has been humbling. But fortunately the Blues are used to it. Besides, this is an organization whose owner roots for the Royals and actually listens to and watches their games. Oh, yeah, we’re used to it.
Tonight as I came to the office to write this, I bring up the STATS web-site and take a glance at the news and notes for my team, only to discover that three of my starting pitchers are heading for the DL (Harden, D. Bautista and probably the aforementioned Ol. Perez) and that my best pitcher M. Hampton came out of the game Sat. night after 40 pitchers with a tight forearm. This on top of the fact that Rolen, Luis Matos and Jose Vidro are already on the DL. So five of my 28 players are on the DL as I write this. Life is grand. I am sure that I will pick up some gems on the free-agent wire though.
This has to go to Mike Hampton in the 26th round. Sure he has a pretty good second half last year, but certainty no one expected this; 4-1, 1.96 ERA, 142 points and the 8th best starting pitcher (Another example of why Leo Mazzone is the best pitching coach in baseball). Derek Lee may not be a Blind Pig pick, but he is close as a 9th rounder with a 193 points and the best first baseman. So with pieces of great good fortune and we still stink. (Actually, I still think I may be in there in the end)
When Octavio Dotel is traded from the A’s and Huston Street becomes their closer, do not all call at once. I can only trade him to one of you. Hey, why not beat the rush and make an offer for him now?
Hard to believe it, but yes, even I have succumbed to this disease, that normally only afflicts the Skipper. Yes, I ,who made fewer transactions last year than Johnny did in the last two weeks of the season, got caught up in the first place frenzy, watching my team like Chuck eyeing a buffet line. I saw that Lyle Overbay had a cut on his chin from running into a fence going after a foul ball and needed 12 stitches to close the wound. Normally, had STATS not told me this, I may have never even known it. But now with all this fabulous information at my hands, I quickly and decisively make a move, sending him down. Before I can get him back up after three games, he goes on an unprecedented streak, hitting 10-15 with 5 home runs 12 RBI in 3 games (well, close to that anyhow. I definitely remember a 5-5 game). I miss out on over 50 points. Same thing with Biggio. He is stinking it up, so super manager sends him down. He immediately goes on a tear. The aforementioned and beloved Ol. Perez. I sent him down for one start. Of course, it is the only positive point start he has had this season. Right back up, right back to the negative. At this moment he is in my starting rotation , with negative 11 points for the season. Well, that is because he had that one positive start. For the Blues he is a negative 43. I would send him down, but I actually have no starting pitchers in my minors that are not on the DL. Nope, for me, from now on, if they are in the line-up they are there to stay. (That will work well when I am out of contact on a boat in the Bahamas for a week in June and the mountains of New Mexico for two weeks in July. No box scores. Argh!) STATS is going to lose money on me this year. Go get it from Johnny.
Congratulations Scott! You deserve all the happiness in the world and I hope you are finding it.
Good thing everybody’s Bullpen is shorter this year. So is this one. A crazy week .
A.J. is graduating from 8th grade and they have some activity that I am chaperoning every day this week. (Plus pro-teming for a judge this week. Law practice, what law practice?) What the hell is with an 8th grade graduation anyhow? What are they celebrating ...the fact that they are almost half-way through with their education? There is something really strange about honoring 14 year-olds for finishing the 8th grade because state law says they have no choice. This week as a part of this education that I am paying for, my son is going to Worlds of Fun, the Royals game, and a pool party Friday afternoon, after mass, a brunch and the world premiere of the “8th Grade Video,” followed by graduation on Friday night and a “Dance” on Saturday night. Geesh!
Despite the above whining and bitching and the general impression that I hate the world, nothing more could be farther from the truth. All is well with me. I have two, fun, beautiful and talented children who do well in school and other activities; a wonderful wife who puts up with me. I am finishing an awesome year as President of the Johnson County Bar Assn. I get to travel around with my son all summer. Business is good. Life is busy, but full. Busy by choice and opportunity. Life is good. Included in that, is I have great friends like the 12 of you, who share with me a love for this game, a love of the funny stuff that happens between us, between April and October. And a love for sharing our thoughts on the world and baseball with each other. I am sorry that I do not see you more, but I truly enjoy sharing this silly little hobby with you. And, no matter what Teresa says, I will make the league trip again this year, just to see you all. And to share some baseball, beers and laughs. Until then, Peace.
It is pure coincidence that I include this new feature as an adjunct to McBlunder’s 7th Inning Stretch, which I first tried to introduce a couple of years ago but was ragged at by Stretch for being too negative. The irony in that is remarkable, if not downright delicious.
In any event, like most humans, I guess, I find that the older I get, the more I am aggravated by little things that shouldn’t piss me off but do. So I’m keeping a list. Here are a few of them:
In looking through the HSL Archives, I see that at the six-week mark last year, the Skipjacks were leading the pack with 2342 points, followed closely by the Tigers with 2312 and the Wahoos with 2308. The defending champion Senators were stuck in 6th place at this point last year with 2066 points, almost 300 points behind the leaders, yet somehow found a way to mount a charge and take home the title for the fourth time. My challenge this year is a bit stiffer, with a 522-point deficit to make up, but at least there is hope, always hope, for better things ahead.
My research indicates that Itchie was also in 1st place at this point during 2003 with 2267.5 points, as well as in 2002 with 2198.5 points. If nothing else, the guy is a lightning bolt out of the gate. Although the Skipjacks are currently in 2nd place through the six-week mark this season, they are a mere 50 points off the pace being set by the Irates.
The amazing Roger Clemens is again setting the pace for all Hot Stove League pitchers this season, as the Rocket Man currently has a total of 181 points, just ahead of Dontrelle Willis’ 179, and is scoring at a clip of 22.6 points per game, with a microscopic ERA of 1.11. Last year at this time, Clemens was also leading the pack with 188 points, scoring at the pace of 23.5 PPG. In spite of this impressive record, we have a track record in our league of not trust Clemens to continue performing like this on an annual basis, as he has been drafted much too late (4th round in 2005, 8th round in 2004) for someone with his history and his numbers. Nobody wants to be foolish enough to use a 1st round pick on an aging superstar who is about to have his drop-off-the-planet year, I guess.
The top hitter last year at this time was the Senators’ own Mike Young, who was knocking everyone’s socks off with 220 points at a 5.9 PPG clip. I had forgotten the meteoric start that young Mr. Young had for my team last year. But this year’s start by Brian Roberts is even more furious, as SloPay’s stud second baseman had 236 points through six weeks, and was averaging 6.4 PPG. Six weeks into the year, Roberts has already scored more points this season than a good many of the Tribe members will tally for the entire year, and Roberts still has 20 more weeks to play. He is steadily on course for our first-ever 1000+ point year. Yowza!
My former middle reliever, Ryan Madsen of the Phillies, got torched to the tune of negative 20 points last Thursday night. Whoever heard of a middle reliever losing 20 points? And why would a manager leave a middle reliever in to twist in the wind while earned run after earned run crosses the plate? The name Mike Flannigan comes to mind. Anyway, if anyone is interested in Mr. Madsen, he is currently on line in my back alley and available to be picked up for future services. But caveat emptor.
That’s it for this issue. Have a terrific week.