|Edition No. 23||
November 15, 2011
Now that the dust has settled from the 2011 HSL Campaign; now that the appeal period has lapsed and Magpie and Shamu have reluctantly chosen not to contest any of B.T.’s trades or other transactions; now that the Happy Valley grand jury is back and decided not to indict this year’s HSL champion for his erstwhile charity work with “The Second Mile”; now that the classic Cardinals-Rangers World Series is over, and the frost is on the pumpkin; let me tell you a story that will warm the cockles of your heart:
A heartwarming tale of courage, of perseverance, of grit, of honor and glory, true Hollywood stuff. Not just a boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl, girl perishes in a horrible dirigible accident kind-of-story, but an honest-to-gosh tale of American success against the greatest of odds. Break out the handerchiefs and mop buckets, men, and read on.
It all began on Draft Day 2011, the holiest and funnest day on the Hot Stove League calendar. And it all began like any other Hot Stove League Draft Day.
Itchie stops off at the Kwik Shop and pesters Punjab for the latest baseball draft supplements and a fistful of elk jerky. U-Bob picks up Slo-Pay and a twelve-pack of Hamm’s as the Brothers Lemming listen intently to their favorite leftist, pinko, union-loving radio station on their 50-minute drive to Omaha, giddy—giddy, mind you—with anticipation. Mouse dons his $300 angora sweater, $200 cashmere scarf and $175 foppish fedora and prepares for another humiliating beat-down at the hands of the brutish louts with whom he must spend the day. Possum grabs a handful of old wooden bats from a different century and sniffs a tube of model airplane cement on his way to picking his 27th consecutive HSL championship team.
Ah, tradition, sweet tradition.
In other precincts, Commissioner Drews girds himself for the usual series of nefarious rule change proposals, red-faced arguments, blatant gerrymandering, distasteful tomfoolery and ill-conceived shenanigans, over which he must soon preside. Screech makes a desperation phone call to soulmate Skeezix for input and succor. Jim Ed guzzles a pint of lime schnapps and repeats, “I will not take players already drafted, I will not take players already drafted,” in a crisp Gregorian cadence.
All for the love of game. And the love of Mike.
Tricko rolls over in bed, hits the snooze button, and dreams wistfully of his halcyon flat-top days as Kermit’s chief acolyte, long before life became complicated and Possum began occupying the spot next to him at the Draft table. Shamu chugs a five-hour energy drink, frantically does his usual stretching exercises—eyes and neck—and locates his largest and most flexible backpack to house the remainders from the cornucopia of goodies about to be laid out before him. Stretch pulls out the limbo stick from the closet and practices his slow, agonizing, slump-shouldered walk down death row to the gallows disguised as our Draft Board. Skipper, ever the optimist, screams at his image in the mirror, slaps himself in the chops hard, twice, and assures himself that this is the season of his sure contentment, the one in which he will escape the hold that the League Bowels have on his team.
The more things change, the more things remain the same.
And somewhere, far, far away at the heavily fortified family compound, a cheerful, hale fellow of Teutonic blood springs out of his East Lincoln bed, whistling the tune, “Do You Believe in Magic,” adjusts his package, and happily pulls out his cat-licker beads for his obligatory 100 Hail Marys before embarking for the War Room at Pansing Hogan.
And then it happens.
As he wheels his spiffy Lexus luxury sedan out of the garage and begins making his way east to Omaha, this heretofore ordinary, even slow-witted albeit lovable man is blinded by a flash of bright light in the eastern sky, an incandescent burst that causes him to swerve his vehicle over to the shoulder and cover his good eye. When the source of this beacon disappears into space, our hero steadies himself and then instinctively checks his mental and physical faculties for damage. All good. But then, he notices that not only is he all good, he is all great, as he suddenly has the sharpest of sensations, the most crystal clear state of awareness and clarity that he has ever experienced. Clearly, something astonishing and transformational has happened.
Quickly, our Brother returns to the main roadway, enters the interstate, and as he drives briskly and purposefully to Omaha, rattles off in his mind every single major league baseball player eligible for this year’s Draft, alphabetically forward, then alphabetically backward, then by date of birth; he recalls their places and dates of birth; their high school, college and minor league statistics; their performances on grass as compared to artificial turf; their farings at home as compared with away; at night as compared with day; their favorite rap, rock and country western artists, the last good movie that they saw; their hat sizes, pre- and post-PEDs; their Yahoo! fantasy point totals for the past five seasons; and, impactfully, the point totals that each eligible player will attain in 2011.
Armed with this new insight, this knowledge, this virtual clairvoyance, our own Baby Trumpetfish—winnerless in the Hot Stove League since that fabled campaign of 1996 (referred to by some league wags as That Frickin’ Summer of Dumb Luck), went out and absolutely kicked butt on Draft Day, taking a whole lot of tasty candy from a whole bunch of dumb babies. Remarkable. No. Incredible.
Here’s how it went down:
* Regrettably, the geniuses at Yahoo! shut down the website for the season recently, before I had a chance to get point totals for all of B.T.’s Draft choices. However, I first was able to obtain the point totals for the 12 players above who remained on his team the entire season.
Although not quite as prolific with the Free Agent Draft as certain other HSL managers, B.T. still managed to pull the trigger on free agents some 89 times, selecting 76 different players; some young (Young, Infante, Rubby, Beckham), some old (Johnson, Wells, Nathan), some ancient (Yadier Molina, Edgar Renteria). Never one to discrimate on race—just talent—he drafted Asians (Kuo, Uehara), Latinos (Santos, Sanchez, Lopez), Scandis (Anderson, Johnson, Jansen, Janssen), Italians (Rizzo, LaPorta), Middle Easterners (Teherani), a Dutchman (Holland), an Irishman (Samardzija), with a Flying Hawaiian (Ka’aihue) for good measure.
When necessary, he cinched up his Belt (Brandon) and FA drafted the same player on multiple occasions. When called for, he brought the Wood (Brandon). Wisely, he made sure that he had all of the moving parts (Ankiel) needed to put out a contending team. He sometimes had to resort to picking undesirables from the ashcan, including one player who was positively Bourgeois (Jason), and another one who was a bit of a Putz (J.J.). Some might say he picked a Mott(l)e (Jason) crew.
Sometimes, the Chase (Headley) was difficult, but the reward worthwhile. It wasn’t always easy. No, at times it was Hard(en) (Rich). Sometimes, his picks seemed a bit Lo(o)ney (James). Others gave him the Willi(e)s (Dontrelle). Jesus (Montero), at times B.T.’s drafting acumen seemed almost biblical. No simple Simon (Alfredo), this guy.
There were times when B.T. had to go to the Wells (Vernon) more than he would have liked. No, the waters were not always Placid(o) (Palanco). Resourcefully, he Drew (J.D.) from his internal reservoir of strength to make his selections. In spite of this, on one occasion he was even moved to curse his drafting decision (Doumit!). Another time, he was so stressed by a necessary Draft decision that he had to ask Beth to Rubby (De La Rosa) his tummy. (Thank Jack for these last few; he lives on through his son.)
In the end, B.T. worked the Free Agent market like a virtuoso, running the gamut from A to Z:
E dgar (Renteria)
F ernando (Rodney)
O mar (Infante)
Z ach (McAllister)
** Had they been available, B.T. would have drafted them.
Not needing or willing to engage in such trade-rape tactics as Tricko’s beads-for-C.C. Sabathia fleecing of Tirebiter, B.T. avoided the trading table in 2011 altogether and built his championship team all on his own. Bully for B.T.
B.T. had arguably the best Draft Day ever, certainly the best first 12 rounds ever, keeping eleven of his first twelve drafted players and only cutting Brett Anderson left after he blew out his elbow. Between his 1-7 and 9-12 round picks, and adding in Alex Gordon taken in the 22nd round, B.T.’s twelve players that he carried on his team from start to finish totaled 6,692.1 points, virtually assuring him of the 2011 championship. These included the top hitter (Matt Kemp), 5 out of the top 19 hitters overall (Kemp, Pujols, Upton, Gordon and Zobrist), and the number 8 pitcher (Dan Haren) in the league. Throw in his myriad productive free agent pickups and you have a team that coasted to the 2011 title.
As easy as he made it seem, the 2011 Campaign was not without some challenges for B.T. His top pick, Pujols, went down with a broken bone in his arm and missed several weeks of play. His 2nd round pick, David Wright, had a disappointing, injury-plagued season, and ended up netting only 346.5 points. His 5th round pick, Jose Reyes, was on pace to lead the league in hitting points until a number of leg injuries took their toll. And finally, B.T. had three different pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery during the course of the season, so he had to be creative and resourceful in order to put a full pitching staff out in his lineup throughout the season.
In all, B.T. ran 49 hitters and 42 pitchers through his baseball laboratory, mixing and matching and tweaking and plugging like a master chemist. In the end, a great championship team.
And if you don’t believe me, take a look at what others are saying about the 2011 Chiefs:
By the beard of Zeus, these Chiefs were one helluva team!
~ Ron Burgandy
That boy has the touch—but I did not touch that woman!
~ Herman Cain
Me, neither! But B.T. is a working man’s champion. He
always goes the Second Mile.
Three things I love about that Krause boy: One, he has the
heart of a Texas Ranger; two, he is as humble as a Panhandle
muleskinner; and three, . . . , uh, what was the third thing???
~ Governor Rick
B.T. is simply the greatest of all-time!
~ George Lee Anderson
Yes, the Chiefs put out a nice little team, but I cannot
believe those Wahoos didn’t win the title. If not for all
of the devastating injuries, rotten luck, poor umpiring, and
more, well, the ’Hoos would clearly have scalped the Chiefs
and taken the title.
It was a season for the ages for B.T. and his Chiefs. Well done, old chap, well done.