Edition No. 11
April 27, 2017
WEEK 3: TRIBE STILL IN TOP TEEPEE,
BUT CHIEFS ON WARPATH;
TIGERS TAMED; WEDBIRDS WINGS CLIPPED;
WAHOOS STILL REMAIN IN LEAGUE BOWELS
With three weeks of play now in the jar, the Tribe continues to occupy the top rung of the HSL ladder with 1627.3 points, 82.5 points ahead of the 2nd-place Cubs. The Senators notched the second-highest point total for the week (539.4) to climb back into 3rd place, while the Chiefs used their monster week (561.8) to climb to 9th position. At the other end of the spectrum, the Tigers could only muster up 355.8 points to drop down into 6th position, while the Redbirds had the second lowest total of 367.2 points to drop into 10th.
Here are the standings through 3 weeks:
STANDINGS AFTER 3 WEEKS
And the point totals for Week 3:
TOP 25 HITTERS
TOP 25 PITCHERS
COMMENTS: The red-hot Bryce Harper is now the leading HSL hitter with 131.2 points, and one of the reasons for the Chiefs’ brisk rise through the standings, together with 7th best hitter, Stephen Souza, Jr., who has 96.5 points. No. 1 overall draft pick (well, should have been) Mike Trout is currently in 6th place with 100.1 points. The Tribe has 5 hitters in the top 25, including Eugenio Suárez, Jose Ramirez, Marcell Ozuna, Mark Reynolds and Anthony Rizzo.
Chris Sale is the top HSL pitcher with 134 points, supplanting Ervin Santana, who is in 2nd with 129.0 points. Dallas Keuchel for the Senators is in 3rd with 124 points, followed by Wahoos ace Max Scherzer with 121 points. The Tribe has 4 pitchers in the top 25 with Mike Leake, James Paxton, Carlos Carrasco and Dylan Bundy, while the Senators count 5 pitchers among the top 25, with Keuchel, Gio González, Chase Anderson, Matt Harvey and Hector Santiago.
There was some recent caterwauling by PAwesome on the Message Board about the very poor start that his hitters have gotten off to this year, and about how they will clearly revert to the mean, so there is no reason to push the panic button. However, a closer review of the data shows us that the Wahoos are actually batting a collective average of .240 (220 out of 917), which isn’t even close to being the worst batting average in the league. That distinction lies with the Menarches, who are collectively batting a paltry .232 on 204 hits out of 880 at-bats. Second worst are the Skipjacks, who are collectively batting .237 (200/842). Moreover, the Wahoos have scored 126 runs through 3 weeks, which is third behind the Tribe (139) and the Tigers (132), they are tied for fourth in doubles with 48, and lead all teams with 8 triples. The biggest problem that the Wahoos have is a lack of pop, with only 28 home runs (third worst behind the Senators and Bums) and 106 runs batted in.
The Wahoos also lament the horrible start by their pitching start, which currently has a collective 12 and 18 record, but the bottom line is if you pick a lousy pitching staff, it stands to reason they will likely have a lousy pitching record.
Anyway, there is a long way to go, Ted, and I think there will be no problem with your team scratching and clawing its way out the cellar all the way up to 9th or 10th place by season’s end.
MOONWALKER OF THE YEAR AWARD?
I think that at the end of the season we should have an award for whichever manager has a pitcher who loses the most points for his team on a given night, or in the parlance of our league, who “moonwalks” his team backwards the farthest. I may be wrong on this and I am happy to be corrected, but I believe that Chad Kuhl of the Pittsburgh Pirates and formerly of the Skipjacks is probably the leading contender for the award this year. On Monday night, April 24, Chad pitched 1-2/3 innings against the Chicago Cubs yielding 8 hits, 9 runs, 9 earned runs, issuing 4 free passes, and striking out 1. This implosion caused his ERA to rise overnight from 2.60 to 6.63, his WHIP to escalate from 1.15 to 1.68, and his BAA (batting average against) from .210 to .280. Most significantly, his rocket-fuel-soaked conflagration caused the Skipjacks to moonwalk backwards to the tune of -26 points. Not surprisingly, Itchie sent Mr. Kuhl packing as quickly as he could, perhaps even before he had gotten the hook by Clint Hurdle.
Can anyone top that one?
I need to get final numbers for Trip attendees for this year’s junket to Atlanta, June 23-24, so we can get game tickets, hotel reservations, and the like. Currently we have affirmatives from Sir Charles, McBlunder, Big Guy, Itchie and Skipper, for a total of 5. It is my understanding that the Lincoln girls are out, but what of the rest of you? Will PAwesome, Magpie, Jim Ed, Mouse and Screech be joining the ranks of real men who attend this Trip? Please let me know at your earliest convenience. Meaning immediately.
1992: TRI-CITY TRIUMPH
Just a short 25 years ago in June, seven intrepid members of the then ten-member Hot Stove League took a fantastic junket to the East for a celebration of baseball in Toronto, Cleveland (Cleeeevland! That must be seven or eight hour by yak!), and Detroit, in one of the most memorable HSL Trips of all time. After flying into Motor City and renting our Vantastic (piloted expertly by B.T., as you will recall), we made our way across the border to Toronto and saw an epic matchup on the evening of June 11 between Roger Clemens and Jack Morris. Although Clemens was still a relatively young up-and-comer with star power and Jack Morris was a grizzled veteran, Morris outdueled Clemens on that evening in the SkyDome, throwing a 4-hit shutout while Clemens yielded 7 hits and 4 earned runs over 7-1/3 innings, including home runs by Joe Carter, Pat Borders and Dave Winfield. We may not have realized it at the time, but we were watching at least three future Hall-of-Famers (including Wade Boggs) and a whole host of All Stars, including Mike Greenwell, Ellis Burks, Tom Brunansky, Jeff Kent, Kelly Gruber, John Olerud and Candy Maldonado. Wow.
ON TO CLEVELAND
The following night, after B.T.’s harrowing Vanipulation of our unwieldy craft across the wretched and turbulent shoulders and medians of the Eastern Ohio interstate system, we saw the Tribe best the Yankees by the score of 3-0 at Old Cleveland Stadium, the so-called Mistake by the Lake. On that particular evening, we saw Charles Nagy spin a 5-hit shutout against the Yanks, yielding no walks and striking out 5. The starting pitcher for the Yankees, Scott Kamieniecki, also went the distance, but gave up 5 hits, 3 runs and 2 earned runs. In that game, we saw, among others, Don Mattingly, Danny Tartabull, Kevin Maas, Charlie Hayes, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Brook Jacoby, and Sandy Alomar, Jr. Again, wow.
After a nearly ruinous visit to the Flats along the river in Cleveland,* and only after a replenishing breakfast at Lennie’s in some nearby suburb, somebody (I don’t think it was B.T., who was in the Hurt Real Bad Locker) piloted our van back to Detroit, where we saw the Tigers put the spank on the visiting Baltimore Orioles by the score of 15-1. In that game, we saw such baseball luminaries as Brady Anderson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Sam Horn, David Segui, Tony Phillips, Lou Whitaker, Dan Gladden, Cecil Fielder, Mickey Tettleton, Rob Deer, Al Leiter, and of course, the slump-shouldered and beleaguered Mike Flanagan, who came in at the end for mop-up duty and was left twisting in the wind by his nonplussed manager. For the record, Flannie gave up 6 hits, 3 walks and 8 earned runs in one frame to close out the pitching for the Orioles, and glanced into the dugout on at least three or four occasions, pleading for a merciful hook.
The final game of our four-game junket was back at Tiger Stadium on Sunday afternoon, which featured Frank Tanana on the hill for the Tigers, and José (“I love him in a manly way only”) Mesa for the Orioles, with Tanana Daquiri getting the win after throwing seven innings of 6-hit ball, and Mike Henneman coming in to get a 2-inning save.
Looking back through the box scores from these four games, again, I just say WOW. What a collection of great Major League baseball players we saw that Trip.
1992 FTB RECAP
Now, going back to how things were perceived at the time, I give you a reprinting here of the highlights of this Trip, as chronicled in the June 17, 1992 edition of From the Bullpen:
A warm welcome back to each of the seven brave souls that participated in our spectacular whirlwind baseball trip to the tri-cities. To the rest of you spineless worms who call yourselves men--and more to the point, baseball fans--you undoubtedly missed the trip of a lifetime. Three great ballparks, great weather, great tickets, great beer and Brats, great (as in large) hangovers, and--great Scott--a great turnout! Only three un-named slugs (you know who you are) wimped out by mindlessly obeying their spouses or employer; seven fun-loving, free-spirited, lovers-of-life made the epic sojourn.
The highlights of the trip were myriad, certainly too many to recount. But here's a sampling:
— Catching the oozy Possum in a bold-faced, bald-headed lie about having to go to California for business, and summarily approving his ouster from the Hot Stove League, pending his groveling plea for readmittance and sufficient restitution to the Hot Stove League managers.
— The twelve-hour yak ride from Toronto's finest establishment, Hotel Punjab, to Cleveland.
— Shamu's repugnant use of the English language.
— The aromatic Hertz van.
— The towering home runs by Cess, Rob and Mickey at Tiger Stadium.
— Skipper's heartless and complete fleecing of his helpless, alcohol-savaged brother-in-law. (Paul O'Neill for two Cy Young Award winners--Dwight Gooden and Orel Hershiser. Somebody commence the conservatorship proceedings, please.)
— The perfect fit of Magpie's trousers on Jiggerman.
— Filling up at The Beer Store with LaBlatts to fill our LaBladders.
— Jigger's ego-shattering rebuffing at the Flats.
— Barking at gorillas.
— Breakfast at Lennie's.
— WhiteSot's surprising bitterness at the absence of green seats in Tiger Stadium.
— The astonishing hospitality of Possum's pending replacement in the Hot Stove League, Brother Rob in Detroit.
— B.T.'s expulsion of a litter of angry muskrats.
— The Kevin Costner sighting (or, How a Pair of Goofy-Looking Eyeglasses Turned a 237-pound Man into a Teen Idol).
— Jigger's unabashed love of cats and cat fur.
— Shamu coming out of the closet with his heretofore hidden desire to wear an earring and rattail (the "Shamu-Gone-Bad" and "David Wells" looks).
— The unparalleled warmth of the border inspector at our fateful crossing into Windsor for the Canadian ballet.
— Getting Flattened by the Tubes at the Flats.
— The blossoming of the now-fast friendship of McBlunder and B.T.
— Tim Burkes' summary shattering of Sandjigger's self-perpetuated myth of high school athletic prowess.
— How we woefully missed the chatterbox Silent Assassin (whose incessant talk was absent but laudably replaced by the Magpie--who, as Shamu pointed out, can "flat out talk").
— Skipper's remarkable self-control while monitoring of everyone's alcohol intake (the facial contortions were merely to make a point).
— Sandjigger's tearful revelation that he is under a "lot of pressure," but he still loves his life.
— B.T.'s hysterical threat to go over Niagara Falls with or without a barrel unless someone took action to muffle Magpie.
— Jigger's face-dipping in diesel oil (give that boy a turban).
— Shamu's naive and childlike delight at the uncountable number of painted ladies around the Hotel Punjab (and McBlunder's delight at all the painted boys nearby).
— The heartwarming--and frankly, unexpected--sight of Jigger paddling his own canoe.
— The septet singing tribute to the unavoidably absent Underbelly: "WE LOVE OUR LIFE!"
Like everything else, the highlights of this year's trip will grow and mature through the years. Whatever else might be said, though, there will never be another Cleveland.
Ah, the memories. So rich.
CITI FIELD REDUX
Last Thursday, I had a chance to revisit Citi Field in the Queens, my first visit there since our Hot Stove League Trip there in 2009. The park is just as beautiful as I remembered, although my seat at this game (Section 508, cost $17, about the same as a beer) paled just a little bit in comparison to the fantastic recliner seats that Magpie procured for us back in 2009, way back when he was a Mid-America-Energy Big Shot who could command that sort of free client bribe/perk.
Although the weather was a little bit nippy, it was nevertheless a beautiful night for a game, and I saw a nice matchup between Aaron Nola of the Phillies and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets. As mentioned earlier on the Message Board, even though Nola got the win and Syndergaard the loss (final score 6-4), by virtue of our nonsensical strikeout evaluation, Goldilocks ended up netting 19 points for his owner even though he gave up 7 hits and 5 runs and took the loss, while Nola got a mere 6 points for his efforts, even though he gave up fewer runs and got the win. Go figure.
In any event, I am hopeful that we will have another HSL junket to Citi Field, because it’s a great place to see a game.
Oh, what a beautiful ballfield!
Meet the Mets! Meet the Mets!
View from the cheap (§ 508) seats.
*After our long walk from the stadium, featuring Itchie’s painful rebuff (“Eww, you can have him!”) by one of our new friends.