|Edition No. 12||
April 14, 2010
As usual, Draft Day was an absolute gas, the funnest day of the year. The food was terrific, the drinks refreshing, the competition spirited, and the camaraderie, well, priceless.
As is customary the first post-Draft From the Bullpen will provide you with Skipper’s scintillating and on-the-mark assessment of the 2010 Draft. So, without further delay, we provide you now with
1. CUBS (SHAMU)
Drafting out of the 1-hole, Shamu put on a drafting display that may be unparalleled in the annals of our league. Somehow, he snapped up the top hitter (Pujols), the top starting pitcher (Tim Lincecum), the top relief pitcher (Jonathan Braxton), and the strongest overall pitching staff in the league. Somehow, this plump cat burglar swiped the Hope Diamond, the Crown Jewels and the Pink Panther right out from under us and slipped them into his backpack, where they were kept warm by the rest of B.T.’s breakfast casserole. My hat is off to Sir Charles for his broad daylight heist.
2. CHIEFS (B.T.)
Perhaps there is such a thing as over-preparation. After picking his best team in more than a decade last season, B.T. faltered a bit in 2010, in spite of the luxury of drafting 2nd. One cannot argue with Hanley Ramirez as the second overall pick in the first round, but B.T.’s next four picks (David Wright, Adrian Gonzalez, Jon Lester and Brandon Phillips) seem questionable, at best. I’m not sure anyone’s choked that badly since Mama Cass.
3. WAHOOS (POSSUM)
Taking three times as long as everyone else on each Draft pick, one would expect that Possum has selected a thoughtful, competitive team. With Utley in the 1st and Upton in the 2nd, Possum may have made history with the first one-two Double U start to his draft. Wonder if he was thinking of the other Upton in the 3rd round?
4. TRIBE (UNDERBELLY)
Underbelly clearly came to the 2010 Draft well prepared with a definite strategy. This may be the first year in league history that Underbelly hasn’t uttered, “I hate my team,” at some point during the first ten rounds.
5. MONARCHS (SCREECH)
Screech was plenty quiet on Draft Day, apparently because he was deep in thought, as opposed to in an abject state of inebriation. His reward? A very nice, highly competitive team.
6. SKIPJACKS (BENDER)
Itchie obviously didn’t spend quite enough time with Jugdish on Saturday morning, apparently because he was too busy rustling up drinks for the crew and fretting about the ass-kicking that he was going to get from Anne for arriving a day late for their family vacation to California.
7. REDBIRDS (JIM ED)
Jim Ed really got the best of us on Draft Day as he concocted a phony story about having to go to Florida on a family vacation, all the while holing up in a fleabag motel in Council Bluffs with a team of fancy baseball draft analysts feeding him draft tips from the adjoining room. The crafty Tirebiter even forced his youngest son Danny to pop his innocent little head in and out of the draft room to try to make us believe that he really was in Florida with family. Some guys will do anything to gain an edge.
8. BOMBERS (MOUSE)
Our league’s Dapper Dan once again tries his hand at breaking through for a money finish in the highly competitive Hot Stove League. Could 2010 be the year that Mouse finally hits paydirt? Stay tuned.
9. BLUES (McBLUNDER)
McJester came to Draft Day with a definite strategy in mind, that is, to shed his “Dead Man Walking” appellation by remaining chair-bound and having other league members record his selections on the Draft board. Nice try, Stretch, but it won’t work. We will forever picture you as the slump-shouldered league icon who heads to the Draft board like Charlie Starkweather headed to Ol’ Sparky. It’s who you are, so accept it.
10. HIGHLANDERS (TRICKO)
After promising himself he wouldn’t make the mistake of sitting next to Possum on Draft Day again, Tricko made the mistake of sitting next to Possum on Draft Day again. Annoying guffaws and mindless prattle aside, the real disadvantage to sitting adjacent to Possum on Draft Day is that he has an innate need to receive someone else’s blessing on each and every Draft pick, and so poor Tricko spent most of his energy and time counseling with Possum over his potential selections, instead of being able to focus on his own Draft Day business. Consequently, our poor, distracted Magpie came away with something less than a championship-caliber team.
11. BEARS (SLOPAY)
Was it just me, or was SloPay more chipper and cheery on Draft Day than in recent (let’s say eight, or the equivalent of two terms of George Bush) years? I guess with Obama at the helm, SloPay knows that his job, his bank, and his future medical care are all secure, and this makes for a happier, haler, more agreeable Denny. Why, even the fact that he picked a crum-bum team couldn’t take that silly grin off his face.
12. TIGERS (BIG GUY)
Congratulations to our league czar for becoming the first biological league grandfather! As all of you know, within days of this year’s Draft, Big Guy’s daughter Abbey gave birth to her first child, besting B.T. on the race to HSL grandfatherism. Fortunately, Big Guy will have plenty of time to dote on his new grandchild, since his 2010 Tigers team will be out of contention by Memorial Day. Sorry, Big Guy, but it needed to be said.
13. SENATORS (SKIPPER)
Although I truly appreciated the lack of pressure that goes with drafting 13th, this will be the last year that the Senators draft 13th. I have finally figured out that the people who publish fantasy baseball magazines know a whole lot more about the players than I do, and so I’m done outsmarting myself by creating my own lists which have historically been much different than theirs. Also, I plan to actually manage my team this year. Like Zig Ziglar says, “See you at the top!”
Okay, boys, there you have it. Whether you agree or disagree, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Skipper’s Picks ‘N’ Pans. Here are a few pictures of our Draft Day for your review before continuing on with this edition of FTB:
Screech: A Serious Man
“Please, God, if there is a God, save a few good ones for me!”
Dead Man Sitting
Wonder what player Shamu drafted from Screech’s list that round?
Tirebiter after 9 beers.
Tirebiter after 15 beers.
Tirebiter getting ready to charge his best client
for 5 hours of billable work.
Tirebiter after Patty ripped his right arm off.
Does anyone volunteer to drive Tirebiter to Valley of Hope
in O’Neil for a 30-day vacation?
With the breakfast casserole gone, Tricko takes a bite out of his right hand.
“I’m not gonna say it again, Possum. You can’t draft
a free agent until exactly noon, Central Standard Time—
not a second earlier!”
(No caption necessary.)
As predicted, the cream of the league (Cubs) rose right to the top, while the excrement (Bears) sunk swiftly into the sewer. In between, there are a few surprises, but it’s early, men, it’s early. Here are the standings from top to bottom after 7 days of play:
As a special bonus to my friends, I provide you now with the top scoring hitter, top scoring pitcher, team average, team home runs and team RBIs for the first week of play:
Underbelly has the top hitter in the league through the first week of play, Nelson Cruz, with 51.5 points, yet the Tribe finished the week in 11th place. Not a good sign.
The Bombers have the top pitcher, Roy Halladay, who threw a 7-inning gem and then a complete game, accruing 73 total points. Can Mouse ride this big horse to a title? Not with a team average (.205) hovering just above the Mendoza line.
Itchie takes Placido (Polanco, not Domingo) in Lucky Round 13, and Polanco responds with a 45.1-point week. Once again, Bender falls out of bed and lands on a sack of large, unmarked bills.
B.T.’s top hitter (Chris Young) was his 30th and final pick of the Draft. Not sure if that bodes well for the Chiefs or not.
C.C. Sabathia averages 21 points per outing for Stretch during Week 1. Why was he negative for April when he was on my team?
Tirebiter’s top performers (Jimmy Rollins with 46 and Ubaldo with 50) got out of the gate fast for their new owner. Could this be the year of the Redbirds?
As was discussed on Draft Day, this year’s Trip will take place August 20-22, with the plan to load up the next generation of the Mobile Waste Station that ushered us all down to Kansas City for our early league trips in the 1980s. I can’t remember exactly who, I’m thinking it was Possum or B.T., volunteered to find us a worthy craft for this worthy junket. Tentative plans are to leave Omaha on Friday morning and to return Sunday night, with a game or two at Target Field, a minor league game at some unknown venue in the same vicinity, and a potential for a visit to Dyersville, Iowa, to see where the Field of Dreams movie was shot. For purposes of accommodations and game tickets, please let me know as soon as humanly possible if you will not be able to make it on this trip. Let’s try for full attendance, fellas. Remember, life is short, and before you know it, we’ll need a fleet of Rascals to get us around on these Trips. So let’s enjoy ‘em while we’re still young.
I must faithfully report that Joe and Will and I had a fantastic trip to Phoenix for our annual Opening Day junket. B.T. was generous enough to allow us to use his commodious condo as our base of operations, and we had a great time tooling around Scottsdale and enjoying several fine eateries in the area. On Sunday night, we watched the Yankees-Red Sox game from the comfort of the bar stools at The Bungalow, a friendly favorite of the biker crowd just a few blocks away from Scott’s condo. Good thing I got those fake IDs for Joe and Will. The night before, we watched Duke dispatch West Virginia from the comfort of our bar stools at The Yard House, a friendly drinking establishment (and restaurant) just a few stumbles away from Scott’s condo. And you wonder why Joe and Will want to grow up to be just like Uncle Scott? Duh.
On Monday, we had a great pre-game lunch at a jumping joint just across the street from Chase Field. Once inside, with the roof open on a 75-degree Chamber of Commerce day, we had a blast watching the Diamondbacks win their opener over the Padres by a score of 6 to 3. We saw Danny Haren throw a nice game for the Diamondbacks, and got to see Steven Drew hit a stand-up, inside-the-park home run that didn’t even draw a throw from the cutoff man. Drew’s line shot to center caromed off something and went the exact opposite direction of the only outfielder in the same zip code, and the speedy Drew crossed the plate at about the same time that the cutoff man took the throw from the outfield. Pretty cool, and a first for the Old Skipper.
In the 9th inning, the Diamondbacks trotted out Bobby Howry to close out the win for Haren. After getting the first two hitters out, the crowd rose to its feet to applaud the final curtain on Opening Day, only to witness Howry serve up titanic home runs by Kyle Blanks and Adrian Gonzalez, bringing the score to 6 to 3. The crowd sat down as one, wondering how much jet fuel Howry (good gawd, I hope none of you drafted him this year) had doused himself with, and whether he was capable of getting the final out. Howry did in fact record the final out, a screaming line drive off the bat of Chase Headley that would have been a third consecutive home run if only it had been elevated by a few degrees.
My enjoyment of the game was enhanced by sitting next to a character of a character by the name of Billy Flynn, a bombastic, transplanted New Yorker and lifelong New York Mets fan who loves nothing more than making a good catcall. Although at first I thought it might be a long day at the ballpark sitting next to Billy, in time I grew to appreciate and enjoy Mr. Flynn’s good company. Mr. Flynn knows a whole lot about baseball—almost two-thirds as much as he thinks he does—and we had a good time sharing stories and baseball lore.
This was my eighth consecutive Opening Day game with Joe and Will. I’m hoping for about 30 more.
As some of you already know, the Thursday before Draft Day I had to take a business trip to Morristown, New Jersey, for a deposition. Because my flight arrived in Joisey about four hours before the deposition was to begin, I had asked Linda to find me a historical site or two to visit while in the vicinity. With her internet magic, Linda found a historic building in Morristown which served as General Washington’s headquarters for a portion of the Revolutionary War, but after paying my 4 bucks to get in, I found that the only part of the building that was worth seeing was closed for renovations. So I made another call to the boss and found out that Hoboken, New Jersey, home of the historic Elysian Fields, was a mere 30-mile drive to the north. After making my way through the always-enjoyable New Jersey traffic, I found myself at the intersection of 11th and Washington Streets in downtown Hoboken, where a monument stands to mark the erstwhile home of the Elysian Fields, where the first game of baseball was reportedly played. They have each of the four bases of the diamond located on the four corners of the intersection, and it was a treat to stand there and take myself back in time and think about what things were like in that place in a bygone era. I can tell you this: It was well worth the drive.
Not only that, but my visit to Hoboken cured me of my perception of Frank Sinatra’s hometown as a bombed-out hell-hole of a place with the sole redeeming quality of being located across the Hudson from Manhattan. Hoboken is actually a pretty cool town, with street after street of restaurants, bars, coffee houses, stores and condos which cater to the thousands and thousands of Hobokenites who commute every day to work in the Big Apple. I’m not sure why Old Blue Eyes wanted to get out of there so badly.
If you’ll pardon the brief digression, I’d like to share with you Will’s quest for the cycle the other night in the second game of his Dirtbags baseball season. In his first at-bat, hitting in the No. 2 hole in the first inning, Wilbur smashed a smoker into the gap between center and right field, and legged it out for a pop-up slide triple, his first genuine three-bagger (discounting those at ages 5 through 8 when there were three or four miscues by fielders) that comes to memory. I dubbed him “Steinway Ernst” because of his Germanic genetics, but in fairness to Old Wilbur, he’s actually an outstanding baserunner, more because of guts and guile than blazing speed. Even though Joe carded a triple last year on the Mount Michael Junior Legion team—as previously boasted about by me in this organ—the words “Ernst” and “speed” have never actually been rightfully used in the same sentence.
Anyway, as the story goes, in his next at-bat, Old Wilbur laced a smoking double down the left field line, knocking in his second run of the day. And in his third at-bat, with the bases juiced, good Old Will hit an absolute laser beam right at the pitcher, nearly undressing him in Charlie Brown fashion, with the poor pitcher barely able to get his glove up to deflect the ball in the nick of time to spare his cranium, but in the process knocking the ball into shallow left while plating the runner and giving Will his third hit of the day, with only a home run standing in his way of hitting for the magical cycle.
In his final at-bat, in the bottom of the 7th inning, Will gave it his best effort, fouling off several pitches that he couldn’t handle before finally putting the ball in play, but far short of the fence and within reach of the opposing fielder who recorded the final out of the game. So the cycle wasn’t in the cards for Will on Monday night, but he had a pretty fair day at the plate, with three murderous swings producing a triple, double and single, scoring three times and knocking in three runs. Although his team lost to a very good Keystone team by the score of 12 to 8, it was a thrill seeing young Wilbur step to the plate with a chance to live every ballplayer’s dream and hit for the cycle. Ahhhh, the sweet memories of youth. A game that the two of us will never forget.
As usual, I have gone on far too long in this issue of From the Bullpen, and for this I apologize, but once I start talking baseball, I find it hard to stop. Thanks, always, for your indulgences.