|2016 Season||Edition No. 16||June 23, 2016|
WAHOOS RECLAIM LEAD, POSSUM’S
LUCK RESURFACES; TIGERS EDGE OUT
BUMS FOR THIRD SPOT; TRIBE
REMAINS IN CELLAR
Kudos to Itchie for providing us with a most excellent and entertaining Jiggernaut last week (more later on that), but since in his usual egocentric and self-absorbed fashion he completely failed to provide us with any information about the standings or the players, we will begin this issue of From the Bullpen with the standings through 11 weeks of play, followed by team point totals for Weeks 10 and 11, followed by the Top 25 Hitters and Pitchers, followed by the Who’s Hot and Who’s Not information you all so desperately desire:
POINT TOTALS FOR WEEKS 10-11
Commentary: The en fuego Wahoos--back to their luck-filled ways—collected a score of 1125.9 points for their combined Weeks 10-11 total, boosting them back into the lead over the Cubs by the healthy margin of 132.3 points. Even hotter for this time period, however, were the Bombers, who notched a not-to-be-sneezed-at score of 512.4 points for Week 10 and a jaw-dropping tally of 624.3 points for Week 11, amounting to a mastodonic two-week total of 1136.7 points. This allowed Mouse’s Mighty Meece to move up two spots in the standings, past the moribund Senators and the schizophrenic Monarchs, the latter bunch having scored the laudable sum of 514 points for Week 10 (second best), followed by the anemic total of 303.7 points for Week 11.
Meanwhile, the catatonic Tribe 9 continue to bore themselves deeper and deeper into the subterranean confines of the league bowels, even as they continue to stockpile innings for an anticipated second half run.
TOP 25 HITTERS
TOP 25 PITCHERS
WHO’S HOT – HITTERS
WHO’S NOT – HITTERS
WHO’S HOT – PITCHERS
WHO’S NOT – PITCHERS
IN PRAISE OF THE JIGGERNAUT
Let’s face it, Big Johnny’s macabre “HSL Dead Pool” was one of the funniest guest article features in many years, even if a little bit scary, and way too close to home. I have to admit that I laughed out loud multiple times while reading it, and had to clear the tears from my eyes in order to finish getting through it. Priceless, as the folks at American Express might say.
I also loved the Message Board chatter generated by the Dead Pool, although it was noteworthy that the top picks have been conspicuously silent about it--let's hope they haven’t cashed in their chips.
Two additional Dead Pool thoughts worth sharing:
FIELD OF BROKEN DREAMS
Week before last, my blushing bride and her daughter Molly and I all ventured over to Dyersville, Iowa, to pay a visit and homage to the Field of Dreams. It was an awesome journey, and I can cheerfully report that the field has been preserved in pristine condition, thanks to the vision of the owners and the generosity of visitors.
Dyersville: Is this Heaven?
If you build it, they will come.
And we did.
I learned on this trip that Molly has a rocket for an arm and a pretty good glove to boot, as we tossed the old horsehide around the diamond and broke out the timber from my high school playing days (Jackie Robinson model, 35 oz., 35” long) for a few at-bats on the field. I also learned for the first time that my lovely wife--nothing derogatory meant by this statement--throws like a girl! Well, as she should, I guess.
Anyway, after reveling in our time on the iconic Field of Dreams and knocking this item off of my bucket list, we ventured toward Jim Ed’s bustling hometown of Cedar Rapids to catch a Midwestern League baseball game between the Rapids of Cedar Kernels and the King County Cougars at the Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. However, as we neared the outskirts of Cedar Rapids, on schedule to catch the opening pitch, my Ford Explorer conked out and we had to call a tow truck to drive us into the Ford dealership. Since the service department was closed, we finagled a loaner car from the dealership so that we could still drive to the game, and arrived in the 7th inning in time for not only the 7th inning stretch, but also for last call for a tall frosty.
Although I only was able to spend a couple of innings there, I liked the feel of the Kernels’ home ballpark, Veterans Memorial Stadium, which opened in 2002 and has seating for 5300 fans. While the team is currently a Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, for twenty years (1993-2012) they were a farm club of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In fact, I learned while touring their modest Hall of Fame room adjacent to the team store that Mike Trout made his professional baseball debut with the Kernels in the summer of 2009 at the tender age of 18, after being picked by the Angels as the 25th overall selection in the first round of the MLB draft. After starting in five games for the Kernels in 2009, he played in the Arizona Fall League for rookies, then began the 2010 season with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the California A League. After fifty games with the Quakes, he returned to Cedar Rapids and played in 81 games for the Kernels in 2010, batting .362 and stealing 45 bases and the hearts of the Kernels’ fans, while also becoming the youngest recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Tops Minor League Player of the Year.
From our brief tour of the Hall of Fame room, we learned that Cedar Rapids has a long and proud history of minor league baseball affiliation at various levels, and that some of the former Cedar Rapids players who have made it to the Major Leagues as either players or coaches include:
Veterans Memorial Stadium
Just in time for beers at Perfect Game Field.
Unfortunately, what was meant to be a quick and inexpensive junket to Eastern Iowa became more expensive and lengthier-than-planned when we found out that the Ford dealership (Zimmerman Motors) in Cedar Rapids could not get my Explorer in for analysis until mid-day the following day, so I ended up renting a vehicle and driving it back to Omaha for a meeting with an expert witness, while Michele and Molly remained behind to await the repair bill and then drive the Explorer back to Omaha. Hence, our retitling of the trip name to Field of Broken Dreams.
Out of My League
By Dirk Hayhurst
(Citadel Press, Copyright 2012)
I recently finished reading an outstanding baseball book authored by former Major League and Minor League (but mostly minor league) pitcher Dirk Hayhurst, entitled Out of My League. The book chronicles Hayhurst’s 2009 season with the Portland Beavers, who at the time were the Triple A farm team for the San Diego Padres. The thrust of the book is to relate to the reader what a Triple A ballplayer goes through as he waits and hopes and prays for the call-up to the big leagues, and the stark differences between Triple A and the Bigs.
I previously read The Bullpen Gospels, an earlier book by Hayhurst (copyright 2010) which described his toils through the low minors, primarily with the Lake Elsinore Storm of the California League. While The Bullpen Gospels was entertaining and a worthy first effort from a new sports author, Hayhurst’s second book is extremely well written, funnier than his first book, and covers a much more interesting subject matter, the struggle to go from the highest rung of the minor league ladder to a place in The Show, and then the heartbreak associated with trying to remain in the big leagues.
I previously reported on the excellent book by John Feinstein, Where Nobody Knows Your Name, which dealt with the same essential subject matter. However, because Out of My League is written out of Hayhurst’s first-hand experience as a mediocre talent trying to live his major league dream, it is somehow more poignant and more compelling than Feinstein’s fine piece.
I always know I am into a great book when I try to slow down my reading of it so that I can savor it for as long as possible, and that is precisely what I found myself doing with Out of My League. On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate it a 9.8, and wholeheartedly recommend that you pick up your own copy and savor away.
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Looking forward to hearing from Magpie in next week’s guest edition of the Curbside Chronicles.