2009 Season

Edition No. 22

October 16, 2009







Congratulations and a “hearty well done” to Brother Shamu, who overcame the Chiefs’ seemingly insurmountable two-tenths (0.2) of a point lead on the final day of the season to capture the 2009 Hot Stove League Championship.  In what will forever be remembered as one of the most hotly-contested campaigns on record, Shamu’s grab-bag team of misfits, miscreants, mistakes, ragamuffins, sore-armed career minor-leaguers, has-beens and never-will-bes somehow held together and overtook the Chiefs squad of far superior baseball players.  By borrowing a season’s worth of Itchie Magic, and a page from Possum’s “How to Sell Your Soul to the Devil” playbook, and by sacrificing his career, family and the Church for a solid six months, Shamu was able to pull off the coup of the century.


Without further ado, I share with you now, the final 2009 standings:


2009 Final Standings








































Not Available


Not that I would know from personal observation, but I have heard that Shamu did an absolutely masterful job of piecing together a 200-man pitching staff from the HSL rubble pile, picking up call-ups and cast-offs and throwing them into his rotation on a nightly basis, scraping together enough points from his seemingly god-awful pitching staff to remain in the hunt until his primary competitor, B.T., simply ran out of innings.  Again, not that I would know, but I have heard from others—who spoke in almost awe-struck tones—about Shamu’s Midas touch of throwing one mediocre pitcher after another into his starting lineup, only to see them respond with 25- and 30-point positive outings, sandwiched in between bunches of negative and single-digit performances while they sat on his bench or on the scrap heap.  Those who were not awed by Sir Charles’ deft pitching management touch had a much different reaction, mostly nausea, as they scratched their heads and wondered how long Shamu could keep up this maestro-like performance.  The words “smoke and mirrors” crept into the conversations more than a few times this season, as did “blind pig,” and the text acronym “WTF,” among others. 


In the end, Shamu’s margin of victory over the Chiefs, 28.2 points, amounts to just over one point a week for the 26-week campaign.  It is astonishing that these two teams could finish so close, over the course of such a long season, with so many, many, many roster moves being made.  A season for the ages.




From checking the point totals and the transactions every night, all of you were no doubt aware of this pitched battle between the Chiefs and the Cubs which came to a crescendo during the final weekend of the season.  Most of you do not know, however, about the story inside the story, the Bermuda Triangle of activity involving our amiable but sometimes volatile league member from West Des Moines; our benevolent and gregarious Head Chieftain in Lincoln; and our beleaguered League Commissioner in Omaha. 


To try to set the stage on this a bit, you have to know that our clever and thorough B.T. found a loophole in the Yahoo! scoring system which allowed him to capture pitching points from all of his pitchers who took the mound on the penultimate day of the season, Saturday, even though the Chiefs team exceeded its innings pitched limitations that day by 23.2 IPs.  It seems that Yahoo! inscrutably allows credit for all pitching points garnered on the day that an IP limitation is reached, and does not simply shut the points down at exactly the 2000 IP limit.  As such, B.T. was able to take his .2-point lead into the final day of the season, instead of losing  30 or 40 points to pitching limits on that next to the last day of the season.  When Shamu was made aware of this seemingly random yet crucial Yahoo! scoring peccadillo, his Vesuvian blood pressure reportedly skyrocketed to a very dangerous level, and his skin pallor took on the bright red glow of the jolly Irishman that he is, or at least resembles. 


To stoke the fire further, Shamu subsequently realized that B.T. was drafting Tigers and Twins at a fever pitch on the final day of the season—in anticipation of a Tuesday playoff game—and when our Commissioner reminded him of a supposed vote on Draft Day to count points from playoff games, well, a full-blown Tempest in a Teapot was let loose in the vicinity of West Des Moines.  


The details of what happened next are vague and probably incapable of verification, but the best information available has it that Shamu then took on the persona of a red-haired (okay, gray) Nikita Khrushchev,


pounding his best high-heeled black dress shoe on the Sinclair kitchen table, with the telephone receiver of the Commissioner’s hotline located nearby, creating such a racket and such a fury that Big Guy had no choice but to exercise his Commissioner’s prerogative and declare that playoff points would not count in the final HSL standings, thereby eliminating the gravest threat to his and B.T.’s personal safety since the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.  It also allowed Jan to call and cancel the fleet of 9-1-1 vehicles that were speeding to Shamu’s home to apply the electric paddles and transport the Cubs owner to the nearest cardiac resuscitation unit.


Aren’t you sorry that you missed all the excitement?  Another great Hot Stove League story to be rehashed on future League Trips, with full details to be recounted by our league Memorex, the inimitable Big Guy. 


This issue of From the Bullpen cannot end without a gigantic WELL DONE to B.T., as well as a note of heartfelt thanks to Scott for being such a good sport and a gentleman’s gentleman for his handling of the volcanic events of the final weekend.  What a pal, I say, and there is no finer example of praiseworthy Christian principles that I can point to in this league or any other.


In closing, congratulations again to Shamu for his third Hot Stove League title, and to B.T. for a spirited, courageous and worthy campaign and second-place finish. 


Enjoy the playoffs, men.