Edition No. 15
May 25, 2017
WEEK 7: ARMAGEDDON!
Week 7 of the Hot Stove League finds the Chiefs and Redbirds ranked 1-2 in the standings, with the Cubs and Wahoos a close 3rd and 4th. The rest of the field has fallen off considerably, as the top four teams have shown that they have the talent, the skill, and, let’s face it, the downright luck to compete for the 2017 crown. All four of these teams scored more than 500 points for the week, with the Wahoos leading the way with 599.5 points, followed closely by the Redbirds with 591.2, followed closely by the Chiefs with 574.0 points. The Cubs were a bit off the pace at 530.3, but still considerably ahead of the rest of the pack. The Blues were the fifth highest scoring team for Week 7 with 458.1 points.
Week 7 was a virtual Armageddon for my Senators team, which could only muster up a total of 232.0 points for the week, and Itchie’s Skipjacks, who had a paltry 255.4 points. With my #1 hitter, Freddie Freeman, getting plunked on the left wrist by some no-name ditwad, sending Freeman to the DL for 10-12 weeks, the Senators’ season is effectively over. But in case I haven’t mentioned it, I also previously lost Adam Eaton, my starting center fielder who was picked in the 7th round of the Draft (and who was one of the top hitters in the league at the time he was hurt) for the season with a knee injury; my 6th round pick, David Dahl, (my lone Rockie) has been on the DL since the start of the season, and may never see live pitching this year; my top pitcher, Dallas Keuchel, is now on the DL with a pinched nerve in his neck; my closer (and one of the top closers in the league last season), Zach Britton, has a strained forearm and is probably out until at least the All-Star break; and my starting right fielder, Hunter Pence, is on the shelf with a gimp hamstring. In sum, my Rounds 1, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 13 Draft picks are either out for the season or out for an extended period of time. But no, I’m not bitter.
And if that weren’t enough, I could also mention that my top remaining hitter, Kevin Pilar, missed a pair of games last week because he was suspended. For what, you ask? If you can believe it, he reportedly was suspended for using a “homophobic” term when arguing with another player. What? Are you kidding me? I have to be the only manager in the annals of Hot Stove League history who has had a player suspended for calling another player a “wuss,” or a “snowflake,” or some such term. To that I say, Man Up, Commissioner!
On top of all that, my fellow Hot Stove Leaguers continue to ignore my plaintive pleas for volunteers for the authoring of guest articles for the website--save for Big Guy and Mouse--to whom I say, “Attaboy, fellas.” The rest of you are pond scum.
But on with my duties. Here are the standings through 7 weeks and the point totals for Week 7, as painful as it is for me to have them posted for perpetuity:
STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK 7, MAY 21, 2017
WEEK 7 POINT TOTALS
WHO’S HOT AND WHO’S NOT
Since I haven’t had a “hot” player for about a month, I’ve got nothing to say about who’s hot and who’s not this week, but will merely dutifully post the lists for your reading enjoyment:
WHO’S HOT - PITCHERS - LAST 7 DAYS
WHO’S NOT - PITCHERS - LAST 7 DAYS
WHO’S HOT - HITTERS - LAST 7 DAYS
WHO’S NOT - HITTERS - LAST 7 DAYS
TOP 25 PITCHERS - SEASON
TOP 25 HITTERS - SEASON
ATLANTA AND TURNER FIELD 1997
With this year’s Trip to Hotlanta, it is appropriate to pay a short visit back to our official HSL junket 20 years ago to the same city but a different ballpark, our one and only league visit to Turner Field. Unfortunately, my notebook from the 1997 Hot Stove League season has gone missing on me, and so I am unable to pull up the official recounting of the 1997 Trip from the archives. Therefore, going strictly from memory, I do recall that we shared a hotel with the bulk of the participants in the Gay Pride parade that was hosted by Atlanta that year, and that Shamu was especially friendly and engaging with a number of those nice people. I also recall that Itchie (back when he was a Big Deal) was able to secure the First Data luxury box for us for at least one of the two games that we attended, and that Sir Charles was in absolute hog heaven at being able to eat, drink, watch the game, and use the litter box, all without leaving the comfy confines of the FDR suite (VIP Suite 26).
I was able to find the below photograph of the seven stalwart attendees on the 1997 Trip, as well as the box scores for the two games that we watched over the course of that June 28-29 weekend. In the first game, on Saturday night, we watched the Braves put the hurt to the visiting Phillies by the score of 9-1, with Michael Tucker being the hitting hero for the Braves with two home runs (both off Curt Schilling), three hits and four runs batted in. Fred McGriff had two hits, including a double, and catcher Javy Lopez also hit a home run and had a 2-for-4 night. John Smoltz picked up his 7th win for the Braves that evening, pitching 7 innings and giving up 6 hits and walking 2 while striking out 7. Curt Schilling lost his 7th game against 9 wins that evening, pitching 5-2/3 innings, giving up 8 hits, 4 home runs, and 7 earned runs, while walking 4 and striking out a dozen Braves.
On Sunday, we saw a much better ballgame, with the Phillies racing out to a 5-0 lead through 6 innings, and the Braves rallying for a 5 spot in the bottom of the 6th to tie it, and then plating an additional run in the 7th inning to take the lead in the game that they eventually won by the score of 6-5. For the Phillies, they were led by Mickey Morandini with 3 hits in 5 at-bats, scoring 2 runs; Scott Rolen, who went 1-for-4 with 2 runs; Rico Brogna, who had a hit, a run scored, and an RBI; and Gregg Jefferies, who went 1-for-4 with 2 runs batted in. Dutch Dalton had a pinch hit appearance on his day off from catching, but struck out.
For the Braves, Chipper Jones went 1-for-4 with 2 runs scored, Fred McGriff had a triple and knocked in a run, and Mark Lemke had a 3-1-2-1 hitting line for the game. However, the hitting star was pinch hitter Keith Lockhart, who came to the plate with the bases loaded and 2 out and jacked a home run off Phillies reliever Ron Blazier, tying the game at 5 and ending Blazier’s night on the hill.
The starting pitcher for the Braves was Chris Brock, who pitched 5 innings and gave up 8 hits and 2 earned runs before giving way to a phalanx of relievers. Mike Bielecki got the win in relief by tossing 1 shutout inning, and Mark Wohlers picked up his 17th save by pitching a scoreless 9th and striking out 2 of the 3 Phillies he faced. Scott Ruffcorn started the game for the Phillies and lasted 5-1/3, and Jerry Brewer took the loss by giving up an earned run in the bottom of the 7th when he gave up a single to Chipper Jones and then the McGriff triple.
The attendance for Sunday’s game was 47,902, and the time of the game was 3 hrs. 3 minutes. Umpires were Ed Rapuano, Brian Gorman, Terry Tata, and Jerry Davis.
If any one of you happened to save the 1997 HSL Trip Recap issue, I would be happy to get a copy of it from you. Right.
By J.D. Vance
I just finished reading an unusual but interesting book by the name of Hillbilly Elegy with the subtitle A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. I saw it on the shelf of an airport bookstore with the listing #1 New York Times Bestseller, and picked it up and my interest was sufficiently piqued to purchase it and read it.
Hillbilly Elegy is a story about the author, a young Kentucky native now in his 30s, who tells the tale of his family’s migration from the hills of Kentucky to the working class town of Middleton, Ohio, in the middle of the Rust Belt, and the transition from living as hillbillies to trying to merge into an upwardly mobile yet decidedly blue collar working class society, and the many problems faced by the former hill folks. In the end, Vance makes it out of a childhood mostly intact in spite of being raised by a mother with a long and sordid history of alcohol, drug and violence issues, and living with the five or six or seven different men that she was either married to or shacked up with during his formative years; as well as spending time in the house of his alcoholic grandfather and gun-toting, chain-smoking, f-bomb dropping grandma, who sounds like she was the scariest, meanest hillbilly woman ever.
Vance observes that even though the working class people of Middleton and their ilk want to blame their problems on others--including family members, local, state and federal government--the bottom line is that they have chosen for themselves the lifestyles that they are leading, and need to take responsibility for themselves and stop blaming others for their lack of initiative and poor work ethics.
Although Vance doesn’t call them out by name, the disgruntled working class Rust Belters that he refers to frequently in the book sound a lot like the angry former coalminers and factory workers who banded together to elect a certain someone (f1) to the oval office, and who hope that Trump will make America great again for them. I hope they’re not holding their breath.
Although it is the first work from a young author, Hillbilly Elegy is readable, interesting and fairly short (257 pages), and worthy of a read.
SPRINGTIME IN SPRINGFIELD
Don’t judge me
On my way down to Tulsa Monday for a deposition of an expert, I took a road less traveled and found myself at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri, in the nick of time for the start of an 11 a.m. matchup between the Springfield Cardinals and the Northern Arkansas Naturals, a matchup of the AA farm clubs of the two Major League baseball teams in Missouri. It could not have been a nicer day for a ballgame, with the temperature in the low 70s and sunny skies overhead for the entire contest.
On the mound for the Cardinals was Black Jack Flaherty, a strapping (6-foot-4, 225 lbs.) 21-year-old righty from Burbank, California, who was hoping to improve upon his 6-1 record and lower his already impressive 1.45 ERA. On the bump for the Naturals was a lanky beanpole named Emilio Ogando, a 23-year-old portsider ostensibly from Valrico, Florida.
The game began as a pitchers’ duel as neither team could get a runner past second base through the first three frames. Then, after Flaherty retired the Naturals in order in the top of the 4th, Ogando gave up a walk with 1 out and then a second walk with 2 outs, before the Cardinals nine-hole hitter, catcher Gabriel Liro, smacked a single to drive in the first Cardinal run. With runners at the corners, Ogando then yielded another single to the Cardinals leadoff hitter, Oscar Mercado, and so Flaherty was staked to a 2-0 lead that he would not relinquish.
After walking two of the first three batters in the top of the 5th inning to get himself into jam, Flaherty coaxed a rally-snuffing ground ball to the second baseman, who tagged the runner and then flipped the horsehide over to 1st for the double play.
In the 6th inning, Ogando gave way to journeyman reliever Reid Redman from Midlands, Texas, a 28-year-old who split time last season between Idaho Falls, Lexington, Kentucky, and Northern Arkansas. Redman promptly served up a gopher ball to Cardinal third sacker Jacob Wilson, making the score 3-0, Cardinals. After Flaherty retired the Naturals in order in the top of the 7th (for the second straight inning), Redman returned to the mound for the bottom of the 7th and after striking out the first hitter, gave up another extremely hard hit Yard ball to Cardinal right fielder Adolis Garcia, a titanic shot just inside the left field foul line that may still be rolling down the hill outside the stadium.
With the Cardinals now up 4-0, I was somewhat surprised to see Flaherty come back out for the top of the 8th inning, what with the gentle treatment that these bonus baby arms seem to get, but after giving up a two-out hit to the Naturals’ lead-off hitter (Ruben Sosa, Jr.--possible Sierra-Sosa love child?), Cardinals skipper Johnny Rodriguez came out to get Flaherty in favor of Cardinal closer Jack Herget. Herget closed the door and the book on the Naturals, and the game ended up a 4-0 shutout of the visiting Nats.
For the game, Flaherty pitched 7-2/3 innings of solid, 3-hit baseball, improving his credentials to 7-and-1 and an ERA of 1.26. If he continues to pitch in similar fashion, a promotion to Memphis is most likely in his future, and perhaps even a September call-up to the parent club.
Although he had an 0-for-4 afternoon, one of the up-and-coming hitting studs for the Springfield Cardinals is young Magneuris Sierra of San Cristóbal, DR, who was recently demoted to Springfield from the parent club in St. Louis after having been called all the way up from single A Palm Beach for a short stint in St. Louis. Although he acquitted himself well during this call-up by going 11-for-30 (.367 average), scoring 8 runs and driving in 2, it appears that the powers-that-be in the Cardinal organization want him to get some more seasoning on the farm before bringing him up for good.
Other persons of interest at Hammons Field on Monday included the Naturals’ skipper, Vance Wilson, a former Major League catcher with the Tigers and the Mets in the early ’90s; Nats hitting coach Leon Roberts, a former outfielder who played in the Major Leagues from 1974 through 1984 for the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Toronto Bluejays and Kansas City Royals; Cardinals pitching coach, Jason Simontacci, a former reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals; and Dickie Joe Thon, the 25-year-old son of the Dickie Thon who famously had his career effectively ended by virtue of a beaning by pitcher Mike Torrez on April 8, 1984, one year before the inauguration of the Hot Stove League, and for which he received the Tony Conigliaro Award in 1991.
Nothing better than Monday morning baseball
Black Jack toes the rubber
Hammons Field, designed by CDFM2, Pellham-Phillips-Hagerman, which opened in 2004, is a very nice, comfortable, intimate ballpark named after local hotel magnate John Q. Hammons. There is nothing spectacular or particularly noteworthy about it, with no great views of mountains, bridges, or the downtown skyline, but it was a darned good place to spend a couple of hours on Monday last.
As a Double A organization which is in the entertainment business, the Springfield Cardinals had the usual between-inning gimmicks and tomfoolery (mascot races, spinning one’s head on the bat five times and then running, the gawd-awful omnipresent “kiss cam,” and more), but they had one schtick that I hadn’t seen before, called “Where’s Waldo?” This gag involves a selected audience member having to spot a young fellow in a striped Where’s Waldo T-shirt, who came flying out of one part of the ballpark, raced down the steps, hopped onto the home dugout, did a handspring, a flip and a triple salchow, and then disappeared up into the stands again. I’m not sure why the participating fan won this prize since it took the extraordinarily unobservant little fellow quite a while to pick Waldo out of the crowd, but the whole routine was good for a chuckle if not a full-on belly laugh. I don’t know that Stretch would have approved.
In any event, Hammons Field is now in the books for me, as my first new Minor League ballpark visited in 2017. Next up on the list is Silver Stadium in Rochester, New York, in a couple of weeks.
** Sign seen on Interstate 44 near Tulsa: Warning: Hitchhikers may be escaping inmates. Okay, the first question that comes to mind is, how many times has this happened to justify designing and purchasing this sign? Another is, have they seen a dropoff in escaped convicts successfully hitchhiking their way out of the area? And thirdly, how many escaping convicts, seeing the sign, have simply given up and turned themselves in?
** Will Trump get the Nobel Peace Prize after he brokers peace in Israel? (It’s gonna be tremendous!)
What is this dipshittery?
** Another sign seen on Interstate 44: Do not drive into smoke. Hmm. That seems so obvious I wouldn’t think a sign would be necessary. That one’s a shirttail kin to the giant NO SMOKING sign posted at the entrance of the fireworks factory near Rockport that you’ve all probably seen.
** Right across from the historic Mayo Hotel in Tulsa where I stayed on Monday night is an historic old downtown Tulsa building which houses The Petroleum Club. What I wouldn’t give to have been a member of that club during its oil boom heyday.
** Some of you may know that B.T. is currently on the No Fly List, not because of his association with suspected Al-Qaeda agent John Ransanjani Thielen, but because of some veiled message that came to him in a dream earlier this year. In any event, not dissimilar from his recent 1512-mile junket from Eppley Airfield to Martha’s Vineyard in a rental car, B.T. is catching a train on Saturday for a two-day trip to Philadelphia to visit his son, Sam, and his family. Of course, one of the stipulations for Scott purchasing the fare was the promise of the train agent that they would let him operate the train--or at least give him an engineer’s cap to wear and let him blow the whistle. Happy and safe travels, Choo Choo Krause! (f2)
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Next week: Special Edition of The Mousetrap from Brother Morris.
f1 I was going to say . . . “helped to elect a certain nitwit,” but I stopped short in respond of the office of the POTUS.
f2 Or is it Freight Train Guatney?