Saturday, March 16, 2013

S25 World Series Recap by cebola

The silver anniversary World Series of World ARod was a fantastic matchup, featuring a playoff tested team in Trenton, who has gone to the post season 7 of the last 10 seasons and who has been a legit contender for some time.  The Thunder would be making their third World Series appearance, looking for their first title.  Philly’s appearance in the post season was their first in 9 seasons.  Until the Colonials knocked off Texas in the DCS, the franchise had never won a post season series.  They had the finest season in their 25 seasons in the league, winning 100 games for the first time ever.  In game one, the battle tested playoff vets came out of the gate strong as the Thunder post 5 runs in the second off Clarence “Nat King” Coleman.  Victor Morales drove in 2 with a triple.  Philly could have been suffering from first-time jitters, or more likely, suffering under the spell of ace Karl Hurst.  Hursty surrendered a lone hit over shutout innings six innings against the red-hot Philly line-up to strike first.  In game 2, it was Philly’s turn to strike first, as any speculative disadvantage of inexperience was put to rest when veteran Santos Torres went deep with a three run blast off Pat “Puffy” Combs.  Gary “The King” Pressley pitched tough all day, helping his squad even the series at a game apiece with the 8-1 win.  Pressley goes 6 innings, giving up no runs on two hits, striking out 7, while notching his 4th win of the post season.  In game 3, Trenton roughs up veteran starter Rob Cormier for 7 runs in three-and-a-third innings.  Nick Jacquez had a pair of 2-run bombs in the process.  Placido Balentien pitches his third consecutive playoff start in which he allowed 2 runs or fewer in earning the 10-1 win that tilts the series in Trenton’s direction.  With the prospect of facing Karl Hurst again in game 4 and going down 3-1, the Colonials play “check mate” once again and get on the board early.  Torres gets an RBI single in the 1st and Donn Jones delivers a bases clearing triple in the second to stake Philly to a four-nil lead. The game would get to 5-o before Clarence Coleman, who didn’t have his best stuff, gave up a pair of two run homers (Ariel Rosa & Jon Hamelin) to cut the lead to 5-4.  Ricky Mullin came out of the Trenton pen to pick up Hurst nicely, going 2-and-two-thirds of no-hit shutout relief, to give his team a chance to come back.  And come back they did, courtesy of a huge 2-out RBI double from Nick Jacquez off of closer Cesar Mesa (35 saves.)  Mesa was able to end out of the inning without further damage, which helped set up the dramatic finish.  Trenton’s closer Charles Chen (36 saves) comes into the tie game and retires the first two men of the inning.  Gio Cabeza bounces once over the mound that goes into center for a single that many felt Chen should have been able to stab for the third out.  That enables Joba “The Hutt” Zeigler to be the hero, as he blasts the walk off homer that evens the see-saw series at 2 each.   Game 5 is a rematch of game 2’s starters, Pressley and Combs.  “Puffy” would not suffer the same fate this time around as he out duels (and out hits) “The King” in one of the great pitcher’s duel of all time.  With so much at stake, both aces bring their A games.  Each hurler goes 8 innings, Pressley giving up just a solo shot to Victor Morales in the second, and a two-out RBI single to his counterpart Combs, on a pitch I’m sure he would like to have back.  Combs pitched even better, surrendering just a single hit through his eight scoreless frames.  Closer Chen walks the tightrope in the ninth, putting the tying run on second with only one out, but escapes the jam and redeems himself by securing the 2-1 W.  If the Colonials were to stave off elimination, they would have to count on being able to get to Balentien, who befuddled them in game 3, and count on Rob Cormier redeeming himself for his poor outing in the same game.  They do get to Balentien, scoring in four of the first 6 innings in building a 6-2 lead.  Santos Torres get another big “score-first” RBI and Geoffrey “Opie” Cunningham hits a solo homer and delivers and RBI double.  Cormier again is not sharp, as he surrenders 10 base runners over 5 innings, but proves his worth as a wily vet by pitching out of multiple jams.  He leaves 10 Thunder on base over his 5 frames, including leaving them loaded twice.  Nick Jacquez and Ober Furcal each hit solo homeruns in the ninth, but they’re not enough as Philly forces a game 7 with the 7-4 victory.  For the Thunder in game 7, maybe it was the prospect of being labeled ARod’s version of the Buffalo Bills in getting to the Series thrice without winning it, or maybe it was that their hearts grew three sizes that day.  But whatever it was, it worked, as they storm out in front with 6 runs in the third off Coleman, who didn’t quite seem up for the task of pitching on three-day’s rest.  Jacquez blasts a 2-run shot (his 8th of the playoffs), Furcal adds a solo shot, and Ariel Rosa delivers a 2-run triple in the big inning.  Karl Hurst handled the task of throwing on three-days rest just fine, thank you very much, as he throws 6 no-hit innings in the series clinching 8-1 win.

Congratulations to Philadelphia for an amazing, entertaining ride of a season.  Their building blocks in Cunningham, Jones, and Pressley have not even reached arbitration yet.  There will be many more terrific seasons to come!  Great job turning that lowly franchise into a legit championship contender.  There were lots of shrewd moves over the past several seasons that helped to create this beast of a team.  Best of luck in your title run next season!

Congratulations to Trenton for finally securing the title they deserve.  The team was built with balance in mind, as they play all aspects of the game the right way.  The team led the league in OBP, which is critical to support the sluggers Nick Jacquez and John Suzuki.  Thusly, the offense scored the 2nd most runs in the AL.  They finished third in pitching (ERA and runs against) with that three-headed beast at the top of the rotation.  They were first in team fielding percentage, were 5th in “plus” plays and 3rd in fewest “minus” plays, which only strengthens the “beast.”  The team was built heavily through the international market (see Suzuki, John), but many other shrewd moves contributed to the team’s legacy.  Karl Hurst was inherited, but Combs came in via free agency and Balentien through a trade.  Jacquez was drafted, as was Jon Hemelin (at 20th overall, if you believe it!)  This is a classic lesson in building a winner.  Congrats again 50, fantastic job!

AL and NLCS Recaps by cebola

Each team playing for the AL Championship entered the series by vastly different means.  Trenton cruised by Oakland via a sweep and had a well-rested rotation at its disposal, while Augusta battled hard in their five games against San Diego, burning both Pedro “High” Sierra and Cy Young winner Flip “Lennon &” McCartney in the clincher.  But after throwing 55 pitches two days prior, McCartney takes the ball for his team in game one and once again shines.  He pitches a complete game in the 3-1 win, outdueling Karl Hurst, who was uncharacteristically wild.  He doesn’t give up a hit, but walks five in taking the loss.  In game two, Trenton bounces back behind Pat “Puffy” Combs in the 3-0 shutout that saw former triple-crown winner Nick Jacquez go deep.  With the series moving to Augusta, Trenton is three outs away from taking the series lead, as Placido Balentien pitches 7 brilliant innings and hands over a 5-2 lead to closer Charles Chen.  But the ‘Bears turn the tables and walk-off with four in the ninth to take the pivotal game 3.  Danys Dotel, Tony Juarez and Marvin Crabtree all have huge RBI hits the inning, with Crabtree’s being the walk-off.  What’s the remedy for suffering a deflating loss that puts you behind in the series?  How about three straight spectacular pitching performances by Trenton’s trifecta of aces.  Hurst does the honors in game 4, going 6 in surrendering just a single run the 5-1 win (Jacquez goes deep again.)  Combs outduels McCartney in a classic pitchers’ duel in game five’s 2-1 Trenton victory.  “Puffy” gives up only 2 hits and no runs, striking out 7.  And then Balentien puts the nail in the coffin with eight innings of shutout ball in the game 6 clincher, which Trenton  takes going away, 12-2.  The aces combine to give up just a single run in the final three games, deservedly taking the series from the top slugging Polar Bears.

Congratulations to Augusta on a great season.  If anyone was going to take down Trenton, it appeared that this squad was primed to do so.  They slugged 300 homers over the course of the year, and got a Cy Young season from McCartney, who could have effortlessly pitched in a game 7 if needed.  Augusta may be losing Flip to free-agency, but this team is loaded on both sides of the ball, and will easily be in contention again next year.  Great job commish!

The NL Series pitted the streaking Philadelphia Colonials, who were winners of 6 out their last seven en route to knocking off the red-hot Texas Wildcats and #2 seed Tampa Bay Don Ceasars, against the #1 seed Colorado Shock.  The Shock were coming off their dramatic five game series against Chicago.  Game 1 was an up-and-down affair that featured four lead changes before all was said and done.  Colorado’s 3-1 lead, which came courtesy of a Marc Clarke 2-run shot, was overcome by a Philly 3 run fifth, which featured solo homeruns by Max Kelly and Dennis Hammel, and a go-head RBI single by Santos Torres.  But the Shock worked their come-from-behind magic yet again, as they get a Hector Pena 2-run shot in the sixth to take the 5-4 lead that would hold up, courtesy of the Shock star-studded pen.  Ken Priest, Lorenzo Alomar and Lyle Erickson combined for 4 and a third shutout innings.  In game 2, Philly’s middle-of –order studs took nicely to the thin air of Coors Field, as Hammel, Max Kelly and Geoffrey “Opie” Cunningham combined to drive in 9 runs in the 10-3 thrashing, behind a great effort from Carl “The King” Pressley (7 innings, 8 K’s).  Colonial game 3 starter Rob Cormier continued the momentum and pitched 6 effective innings, and the offense built a 6-0 lead through 5.  Donn Jones drove in three of the runs, 2 coming on a 1st inning homer off Cy Young candidate Rafael Beltre.  ‘Rado would work their magic again and cut deficit 6-4 by the 8th on Clark’s 2-run shot and RBI single, but it wouldn’t be enough as Philly tacks on 2 insurance runs and holds on to take the pivotal game by a 8-4 score.  In the next two games, the Shock would be held to 1 and 2 runs respectively, as Philly’s co-aces Clarence Coleman and Pressley dominate the line-up stacked with sluggers.  Philly’s overlooked bullpen threw 5 scoreless innings in the two wins as well, and Philly takes the series with victories of 6-1 and 6-2.  Hammel was the game 4 hero with a homer and 3 driven in, and Cunningham did the honors in the clincher, with a homer and 3 driven in.

Congratulations to Colorado for another great season.  The pitching staff gave up the third fewest runs in the league; no small feat playing half their games in thin air!  They are still loaded top to bottom on both sides of the ball, and we expect them to compete for a title once again next season.  Nice job!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

S25 AL & NL Blog Awards


MVP:  Cleatus Alexander

Cy Young:  Flip "Lennon and" McCartney

ROY:  Corky Jackson

Coach of the Year:  40_dog


MVP - Marc Clarke

Cy Young - Rafael Beltre & Reese Hemphill (tie)

ROY -  Louie Li

Coach of the Year -  brutus_08

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Division Championship Recaps by cebola

Oakland’s reward for getting to the second round was facing the 106 win American League champ Trenton Thunder.  Trenton used the “score early and make it hold up” formula in all three games of the sweep.  The big stick of Jonathon “Green Eggs &” Hamelin and the newly reformed “three-headed beast” at the top of the rotation was a perfect match for this type strategy.  The Thunder got a 2-run “big fly” by 2B Hamelin in the first of game one, and 3-time Cy Young Award winner Karl Hurst pitched five strong in the 5-1 win.  In game two the early scoring came courtesy of RBI singles from Ober Furcal and Javier Rivera in the first, and on another 2-run bomb from Hamelin in the second.  The less fortunate single former Cy Young Award winner Pat “Puffy” Combs gets the 4-3 win by hurling seven brilliant innings, the only blemish coming on a Tony “The Crooner” Bennett 3-run homer in the 6th.  Old “Hamlisch” Hamelin was at it again in game 3, belting a three-run blast in the first, in support of the third member of the beast, Placido Balentien.  The 22-game winner may in fact have an outside chance at this season’s Cy Young award.  Balentien tossed six innings, giving up only 1 earned to cap of the sweep with the 5-3 win.

Great job by new ownership of the Pistol Pimps.  They were able to keep the team in position to make another run at the title, while freeing up some cap space to stay competitive long term.  They locked up stud catcher/DH Clay Stanley long term and SP Johnny Robinson for a few more seasons.  They made a great value off-season signing in on-base-machine Pablo Marquez.  When they needed a bat mid-season, they pulled the trigger on the John Ueno deal.  Congratulations on a very fine season!

The Philadephia Colonials came off their dramatic five games series victory to face the well-rested reigning champs, Tampa Bay in round 2.  Tampa drew first blood behind stellar pitching by former Cy Young award winner Rich “Say it Ain’t” Sobolewski, stud set-up man Kenta Itou, and 2-time Fireman of the year Alfonso Villefuerte with the 3-1 victory in game 1.  In game 2, The Dons got a grand slam from Justin “Jeepers Creepers” Long, and the pitching formula was working to a tee again behind Phillip Bryant and Itou.  Bryant’s only blemish was a costly three-run jack surrendered to MVP candidate Geoffrey “Opie” Cunningham.  Still, Villafuerte was handed a 1-run lead in the 9th, and was 1 out away from securing a two-games-to-none lead for his Dons.  Pinch hitter Craig Wilkens came off that deep Philly bench to launch a game-tying homerun to vault the game into extras.  Tampa had a great opportunity to walk-off in the 11th, but their All-Stars Derrick Grissom and Hi Shouse each stranded a runner on third.  Philly had a bases jammed, 1-out chance in the 13th that they squandered, but they would come through in the 14th on a couple of big two-out hits by Santos Torres and last season’s Silver Slugging 1B Vicente Bennett.  The 7-5 Philly win evens the series at a game apiece.  Game 3 was all Philly, all day in front of their fired up home crowd.  Former Don Rob Cormier stymies his former teammates by pitching seven solid innings of 1 run ball.  Cormier was supported by a couple of three-runs jacks, one by lead-off man Donn Jones and another by catcher Joba “The Hutt” Zeigler.  Justin Long cracks his second grand slam of the series (both in losses) during garbage time in the ninth, but it was too late, as Philly takes the series lead with the 9-6 win.  Tampa liked their chances in game 4, as their designated big game hurler Rich Sobolewski squared off against rookie Louie Li, who got knocked around in his first taste of playoff baseball in the Texas series.  Li did pitch two scoreless innings in game 2’s 14 inning affair, which seemed to build his confidence, as he outduels the two-time World Series champ.  He goes 6 and 2/3 to earn the 4-3 win that sends his team to the League Championship round.  Philly’s big guns at the top/middle of the order did all the damage as Cunningham, Bennett and Hammel all go deep.  Hammel’s 2-run bomb was the one that broke the 2-2 tie in the 6th.  Tampa’s clean-up hitter Derrick Grissom came up with runners on base in several key situations but failed to deliver the big hit, thusly sending the reigning champs home for the winter.

Augusta met up with the 105 win San Diego “Great” Beards of Zeus for a round two match up.  The ‘Bears sent Pedro “High” Sierra to the hill on three day’s rest in game 1 to face the well-rested ace of San Diego’s staff, Kevin Sobolewski, who is up for this year’s Cy Young Award.  Sierra was sharp (6 innings, 1 run, 0 walks, 9 K’s), while Sobolewski was a little rusty, yet effective (6 innings, 2 runs on 8 hits).  Power hitting lead-off man Tony Rodriguez widened the 1-run lead with a solo shot in the 9th, and Augusta took game one 3-1.  In game 2, San Diego’s 1-2 hitters Pedro Galvez and Burt McCartin wreaked havoc all day.  Galvez stole 3 bases, and scored four runs; McCartin scored four, drove in four, hit a homer and stole a base.  Former Cy Young Award winner Bryan Christiansen pitched well (6 innings, 2 runs) to earn the series-evening 10-5 win.  Augusta was able to send ace Flip “Lennon &” McCartney to the bump for game three, after resting up from his game 5 complete game gem over Cincinnati in the previous round.  McCartney was just as brilliant, as he tosses a second consecutive shutout, striking out 9 in the effort.  He got support in the usual Augusta fashion, the long ball; solo shots by Tony Rodriguez (his 6th of the playoffs), Cleatus Alexander, and Clarence Jenkins to account for all the runs in the 3-0 win.  Sobolewski took the mound for SD in game 4 to try to extend the season for the Beards.  He goes 7 innings, surrendering 3 runs in the 7-3 win that would even the series and force a deciding 5th game.  Carlos Mariena hit a three-run homer to turn a tight 3-2 lead into the more comfortable 6-2 lead that Sobolewski would have no problem protecting.  Entering game 5, speculation was that Pedro “High” Sierra would get the ball for Augusta.  But there were whispers that as dominant as McCartney has been, that he may in fact get the call, even if it meant going on 2 day’s rest.  The Beards had the advantage of earning the bye to set up Bryan Christiansen on full rest for a game 5.  Christiansen wasn’t sharp at all, as he gives up 4 runs in the first, three of them on a homer by Victor Lawson.  Sierra does get the start and leaves the game with a 6-0 lead after 5.  Reminiscent of the Diamondbacks’ epic “Destiny in the Desert” World Series win in 2001 when Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson both pitched in the game 7 win over the Yankees, McCartney comes in to pitch the final 4 innings to squash any hope of a San Diego comeback.  Augusta wins 11-0 to take the series and move on to the championship round.

Congratulations to San Diego for an amazing season.  105 wins!  They have a good mix of youngsters, vets, and players just entering their primes.  Christiansen and Sobolewski are locked up long term and Galvez is just beginning to burn rubber on the bases.  Records will fall!  They have decent sluggers in the middle of the order, with the likes of Mairena, Yamakazi and DeLeon.  You know they will be back to compete for it all next season.  Great job!

Sub .500 Chicago moves on to face top team on the board, the 107 win Colorado Shock for the right to advance to the League Championship.  In game 1, Alex Estallela and Rafael Beltre both pitch well and we have a 3-2 Shock lead through 8.  Chicago’s Ronald Martin ties it up in the 9th with a solo shot (his 2nd of the game) off closer Lorenzo Alomar.  The Blagos proceed to unload on former Cy Young winner Travis Jones for 4 more runs, on homers by Magglio Bocachica (3 run shot) and David Sisk, and Chicago takes game one 7-3.  In game 2, Chicago builds a 7-3 lead through 7 and ½ on solid pitching by JP Brogna and four homeruns (2 by Lew Allen and a three run blast by Bocachica.)    With Colorado just six outs away from the grim possibility of going down 0-2, the explode for 7 runs off set-up men Rashun Rooney and Willie Wells, who help the Colorado cause by walking 3 in the crooked inning.  Giving this line-up free bases in the thin air is a recipe for disaster.  The dramatic hit was the 2-out grand slam by Diory Silva (his 3rd homer of the game), that turned the 7-6 Chicago lead into the 10-7 Colorado victory.  The Shock get three no-hit innings from Lyle Erickson and Alomar.  Colorado carries the momentum of their dramatic win into the Windy City, where they explode for 13 runs on 15 hits in the shutout victory.  The deep line-up gets five homeruns from five different players, with Silva going large again.  Gio “The Hybrid” Hernandez pitches like the ace that he is, going 7 innings, giving up only 4 hits, striking out 8 and walking none.  In the win-or-go-home game 4 for Chicago, the Blagos strike early, building a 5-2 lead through 5.  Steve Scott hits a 2-run homer and Bocachica and Sisk have back-to-back 2-out RBI hits in support of big money arm Alex Estallela.  Rashun Rooney redeems himself by pitching two hitless innings, and Chicago ties the series and forces a game 5 with the 5-3 win.  Game 5 was everything you would want in a series deciding game.  Colorado chipped away at Chicago’s JP Brogna and built a 4-1 lead through 5.  Felipe Mercado and MVP probable Marc Clarke went back to back in the 4th as part of the effort.  Dante Zoltan got the start and held the Blagos to the single run through 4.  With the game plan to empty the nasty bullpen out on Chicago, Kenny Priest enters in the 5th and proceeds to surrender the lead by giving up a three-run blast to Chan Ho Martin.  David Sisk actually gives the Blagos their first lead of the game with a 2-run triple later in the inning off Lyle Erickson, but Gio Hernandez comes on in relief to strand Sisk by getting the final out.  The Blagos tack on another run on a solo homer by Tom Lewis in the 7th, and take a now 7-4 lead into the 8th.  But the never say die Shock mount another incredible rally off a rattled Rashun Rooney.  After Rooney loads the bases by hitting two batters, he walks Clark and then surrenders huge two-out RBI hits by Blago legend Benito “Blame It On” Rijo and Trevor Prince.  Stud closer Lorenzo Alomar is up for the task of protecting the 1-run lead in the 9th, and Colorado wins the series and advances to the League Championship round.

Congratulations to Chicago for getting this far in what was expected to be another step in the rebuild.  Estallela is locked up long term, and a new era of middle-of-the order sluggers has barely just begun with the likes of Maglo Bocachica and David Sisk.  Great things are sure to come in the next several seasons.  Very nicely done!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

S25 AL North All-Stars by asexton065

C  - Juan Lira - Rochester
1B - Cleatus Alexander - Augusta 
2B - Vicente Blasco - Cincinnati
3B - Enos Hoffman - Buffalo  
SS - Danys Dotel - Augusta 
LF - Alvin Ford  - Rochester  
CF - Doug Jennings - Augusta
RF - Marvin Crabtree - Augusta
DH - Carlos Valdes  -  Cincinnati  

SP - Flip McCartney  - Augusta   
SP - Corky Jackson  - Cincinnati
SP - Pedro Sierra - Augusta  
SP - Jolbert Perez - Rochester  
SP - Marshall Floyd  - Cincinnati
SP - Calvin Sugawara - Augusta  
RP - Alex Butcher - Augusta
RP - Charles Dye  -  Cincinnati
CL - Derrek Coleridge - Rochester
CL - Tom Benson - Buffalo

MVP -  Carlos Valdes  -  Cincinnati

Cy Young - Flip McCartney - Augusta

Pitching ROY -  Corky Jackson  -  Cincinnati    
Batting ROY -  Alvin Ford  - Rochester    

Monday, March 4, 2013

NL Round 1 Playoff Recap by cebola

Chicago gets back to the playoffs for the first time since season 21 and a little ahead of their rebuilding schedule.  Don't be fooled by the Blagos's sub .500 record; they went 41-30 since the All-Star break, which happens to coincide with the arrival of slugger David Sisk.  They squared off against Helena, who made their 3rd consecutive playoff appearence.  Chicago took the first two games on brilliant pitching performances by Andrew Gates (7 innings, 2 runs) and Alex Estalella (7 innings, 1 run).  Gates got the support of the explosive Blago bats in the form of six long balls, including three by Sisk, in the 9-2 win.   But Estallela was forced to earn his big free-agent contract as he was asked to protect a 2-0 lead that was provided by a Lew Allen 2-run homer in the first.  And protect he did, as Chicago wins game 2, 2-1.  In game 3, Helena's Valerio "Code Red" Santiago keeps his team alive with a brilliant performance (6 innings, 2 runs, 9 K's), and the bats come to life back home, as the Peacemakers bang out 11 hits, including three by last year's silver slugger CF, Gerald Hull in the 4-2 win.  In game 4, Helena scratches out a couple runs off of game 1 winner Andrew Gates early to take a 2-0 lead, but Chicago answers with 2 in the 4th.  Sisk again was in the middle of the scoring, with an RBI triple and run scored.  The game would stay tied through regulation and well into extras, as both teams get lifts from their deep relief corps. Both pens provide 7 shutout innings before Mac Sano of the Blagos delivers the game winning 2 run homer in the top of the 13th to send his team into the next round.

Congratulations to Helena for getting to the post season again.  The core will no doubt return next season to make another run at the title.  Sluggers Hersh Glynn, Critobal Chavez, and Gerald Hull provide the punch to drive in the table setters Chrity Rivers and Zachary Anderson; and none of these guys will be going anywhere soon, I'm certain!  The Peacemakers caught a lousy break with Daryl Bigbie getting hurt, but he's in line to return as the key component of a strong rotation.  Great job, Helena!

The other series in the NL featured two teams that finally saw the hard work put in during their rebuilding processes pay off.  The Philadelphia franchise gets to the playoffs for the first time since season 16, and the Texas franchise for the first time since season 13.  Texas got the jump as they took game 1 in a battle that featured two Cy Young candidates.  Reese "Smokin'" Hemphill labored through 7 innings, surrendering 13 baserunners, and his counterpart, Clarence "Nat King" Coleman pitched 6 effective innings and left with a 2-1 lead.  Texas would tie it at 2 in the 8th, and there we stayed until they unloaded for 3 runs in the top of the 12th.  The big hit was a 2-run triple by SS Eddie Wooten.  But Philly would storm back in a manner that would define the series to tie it up on a huge 3-run blast by Santos Torres.  With their hopes dashed after blowing the 3 run lead on enemy territory, the Wildcats don't bow to the pressure, as they get a go ahead HR by 50 homer man Wellington Rijo to take back the lead.  They hold on this time to secure the game 1 victory.  Texas would go on to win game 2 by a 7-2  score, behind a strong pitching performance by Jared Sexson (6 innings, 1 run).  Silver Slugging 3B Alex Scott delivered the crippling blow, a 3-run HR in the five run 5th.  With no margin for error, Philly sends Carl "The King" Pressley,  their co-ace to the mound for game 3 to try to keep their season alive.  Pressley comes up huge with 7 innings of 1 run ball (on 2 hits) and the Philly bats open up a tight 2-1 game with 5 runs in the ninth to take the 7-2 victory.  Robert Ellis's pinch-hit grand salami provided the bulk of the breathing room.  If Texas was going to take the next game and the series, they were going to have to do it against Coleman, who stymied them in game 1.  Coleman (7 innings, 1 run, 10 K's) pitches brilliantly and stakes his team to a 4-1 lead heading into the 8th.  But once he leaves the game, Texas is able to get to rookie 15 game-winner Louie Li for 3 to tie it up.  New Wildcat catcher  Brant Ducey hit a 2-run bomb in the frame, and Eddie Wooten delivers another clutch hit to tie it.  This game would also go to the 13th, where it was Philly's turn to man-up after blowing a late lead.  They get a big RBI double from their  MVP candidate, Geoff "Opie" Cunningham, and hold on for the win that forces the decisive game 5.   "Big Game" Hemphill, who has been in this spot once or twice before, would get the start for Texas against Rob Cormier, who was roughed up in game 2.  The match up is a battle between two pitchers who each have two World Series rings.  And as fate would have it, it was indeed a pitcher's duel.  Wooten gets another big hit, as he homers in the third off Hemphill to give Texas the lead.  Cormier helps himself by getting a hit in the bottom of the frame, and Cunningham brings him in with a clutch two-out hit.  In his next at bat, two innings later, Cunningham homers off Hemphill to give Philly the lead.  Cormier, Luis Castillo, and Cesar Mesa hold the tough Texas bats hitless over the final four frames to seal the victory and complete the Colonial comeback.

Congratulations to Texas for an outstanding season.  They got hot over the final couple months and became a force to be reckoned with.  They knocked around big-brother division rivals Iowa and Tampa during the final week of the season to get into the tournament.  It says here that their performance will carry over into next season where they will again compete for a title.  Kelly, Scott, Rijo, Stoops, Ducey - great hitters all, and all 25 or under!  Hemphill being under contract for a few more seasons will help to keep the window wide open.  Great job!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

S25 NL East All-Stars by habslmets

CAbraham Grabowski  - Louisville
1BOleg D'Amico - Washington
2BGeoff Cunningham -  Philadelphia
3BMax Kelly -  Philadelphia
SSWhitey Holzemer  - Louisville
LFHomer Hill - Washington
CFDennis Hammel -  Philadelphia
RFPat Dougherty - Scranton
UTLDomingo Alvarez - Philadelphia
UTL - Sandy Fielder - Louisville

SPClarence Coleman  - Philadelphia
SPGary Pressley - Philadelphia
SPBill Scheppers - Washington
SPRob Cormier -  Philadelphia
SPLouie Li -  Philadelphia
SPEsteban Colome - Washington
SPTerrell Jordan - Louisville
RPChad Pinto - Scranton
RPGill Prokopec - Philadelphia
CPCesar Mesa  - Philadelphia

MVPGeoff Cunningham - Philadelphia

Cy YoungClarence Coleman  - Philadelphia

ROYLouie Li -  Philadelphia

Saturday, March 2, 2013

AL Round 1 recap by cebola

Division rivals Augusta and Cincinnati squared off in a rematch of their round 1 series two seasons ago.  Cincy got the better of that one, bouncing their rivals in 5 games.  In fact, these two teams have battled it out with each other and have finished 1-2 in the AL North 5 out of the last 6 seasons.  It was only fitting that the series would again take the full slate of games to determine the winner.  The series did not disappoint, as the first three games were all one run affairs, with Augusta getting the better of Cincy in the first two.  Augusta got strong pitching from Pedro "High" Sierra and Flip "Lennon &" McCartney, and got a game-winning homer from Marvin Crabtree (wasn't that the name of the teacher in the "Little Rascals?") in game one, and took advantage of a Davey Diaz error in the 10th to plate the game winner in game two.  Carlos "Exxon" Valdes did his part for Cincinnati, belting a homer in each of the two losses.  In game 3, Cincinnati builds a 4-0 lead , as Valdes goes deep again.  But Augusta ties it by getting a 3-run shot from Victor Lawson in the sixth and a solo shot from Tony Rodrigues in the seventh.  But Dioner Moreno answered the bell with the go-ahead solo homer in the bottom of the seventh to get back the lead that would hold up,  keeping Cincy's hopes alive.  Game 4 was all Cincy, or should I say, all Carlos Valdes.  "Exxon" Valdes goes deep three times, giving him 6 for the series, and almost single-handedly evens the series at 2 apiece.  In game 5, Augusta's Cy Young probable Flip "Lennon &" McCartney earns his stripes with a complete game shut-out.  He pitched under pressure all day, as the 'Bear's lead was only 2-0 through the first 7 and a half innings.  Valdes could not work his magic again, and Augusta breaks it open with 6 runs in the eighth to take the game and the series.  Congrats to the 'Bears, who move on to the next round for the first time since season 21.

Congratulations to Cincinnati as well for a tremendous season.  You know they will back to compete for the title next season.  They have a potent line-up, led by Valdes who is locked up for a few more seasons, and a young pitching staff led by a couple of ROY candidates in the rotation, Corky Jackson and Marshall Floyd.  Great job!

The other round one match-up featured two perennial championship contenders, each in a new park and each with new ownership.  Kudos to both of the new owners for keeping their franchises on track to compete for the title.  Oakland (formerly LA) took game one 6-1, behind a strong pitching performance by Morris James, and a big three run homer by Andrew Gipson.  In fact, Gipson drove in all six runs, as his big three-run double in the 9th broke it open and provided some breathing room for Turner Ellis out of the Oakland pen.  San Juan (formerly Jackson) took two out the next three, with Kirk Lee pitching out of jam after jam in 8 gutsy innings of the game 4 series-evening 3-2 win.  Gus Pearce provided the big 2-run homer to break a 1-1 tie in the 6th.  Clay Stanley (who belted three homers in Oakland's game 2 loss), brought his team closer with a solo shot in the bottom of the 6th to cut the lead to 1, but it wasn't quite enough.  For game 5, Oakland sent game 1 star Morris James out to the mound to face the inconsistent Jason Mathews of San Juan.  Oakland got to Mathews early with 3 runs through the first 3 innings, all on solo homers, one each from Gipson, Jamie "Fire" Byrne, and Tony 'The Crooner" Bennett.  James pitched well again, and left after 5 with a 3-1 lead.  Clay Stanley belted another homer (2-run shot) and Oakland got 4 effective innings from Ellis and Valdes out of the pen to take the deciding game 5-3.  Congratulations to Oakland, who moves on to face Augusta in round 2.

Congratulations to San Juan for another fine season.  All the pieces are in place for another run at a championship next season.  Roy "Purple" Hayes has developed into a Cy Young worthy starter, and the line-up is loaded with the likes of Bryce Dupler, Dan Blair, and Ralph "Billy the Kidd' Kydd.  Great job!

S25 NL South All-Stars by cebola

C - Jose Zurbaran - NO
1B - Tony Rodriguez - TB
2B - Alvin Logan - Tex
3B - Alex Scott - Tex
SS - Jesus Aviles - NO
LF - Welington Rijo - Tex
CF - Hi Shouse - TB
RF - Randy Stoops - Tex

SP - Reese Hemphill - Tex
SP - Clinton Puffer - IA
SP-  Doug Rogers - TB
SP - Elrod Coke - IA
SP - Al Lindsey - IA
RP - Jerry May - IA
RP - P.J. O'Shea - IA
RP - Kenta Itou - TB
RP - Alfonso Villafuerte - TB
RP - Antonio Itou - NO

MVP - Welington Rijo - 50 HR, 162 RBI, .944 OPS

Cy Young - Reese Hemphill - 19-7, 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

ROY - Antonio Itou - 21 saves, 1.08 WHIP

Friday, March 1, 2013

S25 AL West All-Stars by 40_dog

C  -  Pablo Marquez  (OAK)
DH - Junior Yamakazi   (SD)
1B - Adam Smith   (TAC)
2B - Jamie Byrne  (OAK)
3B - Tony Bennett  (OAK)
SS - Garland Clifton   (SD)
LF - Pedro Bonilla  (OAK)
CF - Burt McCartin  (SD)
RF - John Ueno  (OAK)

SP - Kevin Sobolewski   (SD)
SP - Paul Merrick  (OAK)
SP - Bryan Christiansen  (SD)
SP - Hamish Radlosky   (SD)
SP - Edgardo Cruz   (SEA)
SP - Ignacio Flores   (SEA)
SP - Johnny Robinson   (OAK)
RP - Douglas Dobbs   (SD)
RP - Heath Camilli  (TAC)
RP - Bill Heving   (SD)

MVP -  Junior Yamakazi   (SD) -  .281 BA - 38 HR 112. RBI  .915 ops

Cy Young -  Kevin Sobolewski   (SD) - 17-9 1.11 whip 2.72 era in 225 innings

ROY -    Phil Oliver   (SD) - 6-3 1.23 whip 3.23 era in 81.1 innings out of a lights out Beards of Zeus bullpen!!

S25 AL East All-Stars by phlsfan

C-  Miguel Gutierrez  -  New York Mets
1B- Nick Jacquez  - Trenton Thunder
2B- Jonathon Hamelin  - Trenton Thunder
3B- Ariel Rosa  - Trenton Thunder
SS- Carlos Rodriguez  - Baltimore Orioles
LF- Philip Robbins  - New York Mets
CF- John Suzuki  - Trenton Thunder
RF- Javier Samuel  - Baltimore Orioles
SP- Placido Balentien  -  Trenton Thunder
SP- Victor Moya  - Trenton Thunder
SP-  Karl Hurst  - Trenton Thunder
SP-  Pat Combs  - Trenton Thunder
SP-  Royce Holt  - New York Mets
SP-  Matt Livingstone  - Norfolk Turkeys
RP-  Guillermo Manzanillo  - New York Mets
RP-  Neftali Guardado  -  New York Mets
RP-  Hector Marson  - Baltimore Orioles
RP-  Charles Chen  -  Trenton Thunder
MVP-  Nick Jacquez  -  Trenton Thunder
Cy Young- Placido Balentien  - Trenton Thunder
ROY-  Miguel Gutierrez -  New York Mets

Thursday, February 28, 2013

S25 NL West All-Stars by bigparb13

C -  Pedro Juarez - Salt Lake City
1B-  Marc Clarke  - Colorado
2B-  Christy Rivers  - Helena
3B-  Kevin Lowery  - Salt Lake City
SS-  Ajax Maybin    - Salt Lake City
LF-  Cristobal Chavez  - Helena
CF-  Felipe Mercado   - Colorado
RF-  Louie Santiago   - Salt Lake City
Utility -  Gerald Hull  -  Helena
Utility -  Dock Sanders  - Colorado 

SP -  Rafael Beltre  -  Colorado
SP -  Alex Torres  -  Salt Lake City
SP -  Darrell Bigbie  -  Helena
SP -  Gio Hernandez  -  Colorado
SP -  Babe Colin  -  Helena 
SP -  Valerio Santiago  -  Helena 
RP - Stump Matheson  -  Helena
RP - Lorenzo Alomar   -  Colorado
RP - Lyle Erickson  -  Colorado
RP - Del Castillo   -  Kansas City

MVP - Marc Clarke  - Colorado

Cy Young -   (tie) Rafael Beltre  -  Colorado
                            Alex Torres  -  Salt Lake City

ROY -  CF Zachrey Anderson - Helena       

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top 5 All-time ARod Dynasties by habslmets

Well here's the non-consequential rankings you've been waiting all week for. The top 5 owners in the history of AROD. We've got a current owner somewhere in these rankings, and one who left us just this season. Fasten your seat belts, grab your favorite alcoholic beverage and get ready, because here it comes.

5. St. Louis Redbirds/Los Angeles Stars – ronzabill (11-24)

Free agency has been a popular way to build a team in AROD. It's generally a quick patch job that allows teams to win championships. Ronzabill dominated AROD for 14 seasons, and took home two world series titles thanks largely to home grown talent. Future HOF catcher Chuck Merrick, 6 time All Star SP Alex Torres and 6 time All Star RF Louie Santiago were a constant threat every single season ronzabill managed each spending more than 10 years with the club. The trio brought home ronzabill 2 world series titles in seasons 14 and 17, one of 6 coaches with multiple titles. The Redbirds brought home 7 AL West titles and 10 playoff births for the privileged residents of St. Louis. Ronzabill kept his teams in the hunt every year till his departure, and the discussion of greatest general managers can't occur without mention of his Redbird teams.

4. Houston/Texas/Nashville/Montgomery/Little Rock/Charlotte/Memphis Minute Men -safetyman (6-present)

Safetyman has yet to truly call one city home, but that doesn't mean he hasn't made his mark in AROD. In 20 seasons in the league, safetyman has qualified for the playoffs 15 times. After taking home the AL South title in his first 6 seasons, safety hit paydirt in his 7th season (12) winning the World  Series as the 6 seed over the Milwaukee Boomers in 6 games, one of two seasons he would reach the finals. Hall of Fame CF/2B Emmanuel Aquino played 7 and a half seasons for the franchise, winning a Silver Slugger and making the all star team each season. Hall of Fame CF Tony Martin just missed out on a ring, leaving in season 11. The Minute Men have the 5th most franchise wins of all time; and are only one of four current teams with at least 1,800 wins (Wichita, Scranton and New Orleans). No one knows when and where the Minute Men will pop up next, but I have a feeling safetyman isn't done winning anytime soon.

3. Fargo Flockers – dblaine (1-17)

Picking between Syracuse and Fargo for the number 2 spot was tough, but in the end Syracuse got the slight edge. That is not a slight against the Flockers, who under dblaine made the playoffs each of the first 16 seasons in AROD. The Flockers won at least 100 games in 9 different seasons, which was good enough for the 6th most wins of all time. The Flockers had a crazy .627 winning percentage, and was the only franchise in league history with a career winning percentage above .600 for teams with at least 10 years in the league. However, for all of his success, dblaine didn't win a World Series till his second to last year, season 16. Hall of Famer Sal McDougal was a big reason for Fargo's success, playing for 16 seasons with the franchise, during which he won 265 games, played in 7 All Star games and won a Cy Young.

2. Syracuse Pyschos – gydk (1-22)

One of the founding owners of AROD, gydk spent an incredible 22 seasons making life miserable for rival AL East owners. Gydk won an astonishing 12 divisional titles, including every season from 5-12. Syracuse is one of two franchises to top 2,000 wins, along with the Wichita Rocks; the only team to play in all 25 seasons of AROD. All of gydk's hard work paid off in seasons 9 and 11, when he took home world series titles. Syracuse was led by one of the greatest players to grace the league in Roy Bell, who earned 5 of his 8 all star appearances with the franchise. Bell also hit 80 home runs for the franchise in season 10. Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Redmond also made his career home in Syracuse, winning over 200 games for the franchise. The Pyschos 4 world series appearances are  second all time in league history. Gydk set the standard for dominance achieved in his legendary career.

1. New York Mets/Philadelphia Thunder Gods – BIGTHUNDER (1-7)

Honestly, is it possible to argue against BIGTHUNDER being the greatest team in AROD history? The Vince Lombardi of HBD, BIGTHUNDER took home 5 of the first 7 World Series titles in the league, and played in a sixth. Hall of Fame pitcher Marvin Punto won 2 Cy Young awards for the Mets, and won at least 24 games in three different seasons. With Punto leading the way, the Mets/Thunder Gods led the league with the lowest ERA from seasons 1-7. Players like Malcolm Tracy, Junior Matos, Carlos Carrasco and Tim Washington were always a threat to hit 50 home runs in a season. BIGTHUNDER won the NL East every single season he was in the league. Many owners will wonder how the history of our league would have looked had BIGTHUNDER not left after a short 7 seasons, but no one will ever be able to argue the impact he had on AROD.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Top 10 Dynasties through 25 Seasons of ARod (#6-10) by habslmets

Top 10 Hardball Dynasties through 25 Seasons of AROD.

In honor of 25 glorious seasons of AROD, I have spent the last week researching some of the top teams/owners in the history of the league. I've compiled all time records, and used win-loss records, winning percentage, playoff appearances, Hall of Famers, World Series, a trusty magic 8 ball and many other subjects of criteria while trying to create my rankings. In unrelated news I'm single. That being said, there were some notable omissions from this list. My apologies go out to the current owners gjd13, barjaz, dengodd2, bigparb13, langer1979 and rcf106, all of whose franchise deserve a lot of recognition. However there can only be 10 teams that make this list, so let's get this started so everyone can begin sending me their hate mail. Keep in mind that owners only gained credit for their work with one franchise. The top 5 will be released shortly.

Note: Bold lettering indicates the city where the franchise spent the majority of its history. Parenthesis is seasons played in AROD.

10. Jackson Colonials/Houston Oilers/Santa Fe Demons – ml4ku (10-23)

Ml4ku has only been gone from AROD for two seasons, and he definitely won't be forgotten any time soon. The barjaz/safetyman/ml4ku rivalry in the AL South was one of the best in the league for 14 seasons. The crowning moment of his dynasty came in season 20 in the form of a World Series ring, courtesy of a 112-50 regular season record, followed by an 11-2 in the postseason. The iconic player of the franchise over this stretch was legendary Reese Hemphill, who amazingly signed  20 million dollar contracts on back to back contracts. Hemphill, who got his big league start with ml4ku, is the franchise career leader in starts, wins, strikeouts and ERA. The man calling pitches during that stretch was Wes Dickenson, who made 8 All-Star games and won 4 Silver Slugger awards. In 14 seasons in AROD, ml4ku won 2 American League pennants and 4 division titles.

9. Monterrey Cervecos/Atlanta Brewers – milwaukee_al (7-11)

Milwaukee_al coached the least amount of seasons out of all the coaches who appear in the top 10 rankings, but his short reign was hard to beat. He qualified for the playoffs all 5 of his seasons with Monterrey, winning 100 games 3 times, two pennants and two world series rings in seasons 8 and 10. Keep in mind he did this all in the always strong NL South. The Cervecos were led by hall of fame pitcher Dan Stuart in his prime, who racked up his 2 world series rings and first of three Cy Young awards in his time in Monterrey. Possible future Hall of Famer Bronson Jiang gave the Cervecos one of the most devastating 1-2 punches in the league. That's all impressive, but milwaukee_al's most impressive stat: a career .642 winning percentage. His clubs just reeked of excellence during their far too brief history.

8. Colorado Ballvalanche/Boise Tatermashers/Tucson Toros Diablos – sarmos78 (6-13)

His run was short, but sarmos78 kept the AL West in his back-pocket for the majority of his career. The Colorado Ballvalance won at least 100 games in sarmos78's first 6 seasons, winning the division title every year during that span. His crowning moment came in season 7, winning the World Series with 118 wins in the regular season, winning 11 out of 12 playoff games and sweeping the legendary BIGTHUNDER in his last season in the league. If not for milwaukee_al and the Cervecos, the Ballvalance could have repeated in season 8. Sarmos was led by two of the all time AROD greats; Albie Villano, who won 3 Cy Young awards with the franchise, and Omar Castillo, who brought home two MVPs while calling Colorado home.

6a. Tampa Bay Don Ceasars – cebola (13-present)
6b. Iowa City Rounders – Ahsowhat (13-present)

I mean can you really pick one of these franchise from the other? Over the last 12 seasons, these teams have been almost identical stat wise, whether it be wins (1155 for Iowa City, 1128 for Tampa Bay), playoff appearances (7 each), and World Series wins (2 each). Ahsowhat and cebola have won the last 4 world series between the two of them, and look to be in good contention in season 25. Both coaches get the work done behind a stud pitching staff. It is crazy that Elrod Coke, Gio Hernandez, and Bruce Mullins were all homegrown players with Iowa City, and are responsible for their successes over the years. John Ueno also cut his teeth originally with the Rounders. Tampa Bay has had their own success with growing players. Right now their may be no better center fielder in the game than Hi Shouse, who has 5 All Stars, 3 Silver Sluggers and 2 Gold Gloves in his 6 years in the majors. Shouse along with Derrick Grissom has led the Don Ceasars in the field. The other owners of AROD have to look up at Tampa Bay and Iowa City if they want to be on this list in 10 seasons.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

S25 Draft - Top 10 Review by habslmets

1. Norfolk Turkeys – Sammy Medrano, 2B/CF, Central Michigan

Norfolk got the draft going by taking Sammy Medrano  with the number one pick. Medrano has very solid defensive skills, and should play gold glove defense at either well valued 2B or CF. With power and contact splits both 75 or higher, his bat should come into great use as well. Medrano is the kind of player you can build your line up around with him hitting at multiple positions in the order.

2. Seattle Water Wolves – Robb Lockwood, SP, Georgia Tech

Seattle made Robb Lockwood the first pitcher off the board, and with good reason. The 86/89 lefty-righty splits made many owners take notice. His control is also excellent, but there are a few reasons to be concerned. A durability of only 11 could be a concern as the season wears on, but his health of 98 definitely should take a load of off reigny's mind.

3. Kansas City Renegades – Pablo Figureoa, SP, College of Lake County

The Renegades plucked another top pitcher with their selection of Figueroa at 3. Figureoa has the kind of stamina that will make him a great innings eater. Combine that with his perfect health and it won't be surprising to see him frequently top 200 innings pitched. He is equally solid against both left and right handed batter, and has very nice control. There are few weaknesses in Figueroa's game.

4. Santa Fe Sluggers – Ray Griffith, 1B, Larnerd High School (KS)

Griffith was easily one of the few truly solid first basemen in the draft, but he may have been a slight reach at number 4. His lefty-righty splits were among the best in the draft, and his power and contact will make him a terror in the middle of an order. His health was my main reason for falling a little in my draft board, but if first base is your main priority, then Griffith was the way to go.

5. Chicago Blagos – Bartolo Gonzalez, SP, Hartshorne High School (OK)

Gonzalez rounded out the elite tier of starting pitchers in this years draft thanks to his 91 stamina, 83 control and scorching 98 velocity.. Gonzalez also posed on of the toughest arms against lefties at 83, but his 55 split against righties may have scared off a few teams. Teams should be afraid of Gonzalez, who will make a great top end starter in the future.

6. New Britain River Rats – Bo McMillan, CF, Little Falls High School (MN)

The 6th pick in the draft started a small run of position players, and the River Rats made McMillan the first outfielder off the board. McMillan has great hitting ability with contact at 75 and a power rating of 84. His lefty-righty splits are a little low, and he has below average ability at center field defensively. However it wouldn't surprise me to see McMillan tearing it up at 2B in the future.

7. Louisville Lumber – Alvin Miceli, SS, Salt Lake West Theron High School (UT)

The Lumber took Miceli with the 7th pick, but at the time of this writing he is the only one of the top 10 unsigned. If he does sign, he will be a very talented shortstop both offensive and defensively. His skill in the field is very good, and his 88 power makes Miceli a rare power shortstop. However his health is a little low for comfort, although that may not matter if Miceli decides not to sign.

8. Baltimore Orioles – Vic Montero, SS, Northwest College

Baltimore landed themselves another stud shortstop with Montero, who by my counts was the best defensive player available in the draft. His high health and durability ratings means he could a gold glover for years to come, and his very solid 76 power and 53 contact ratings will make him a solid member of any batting order. The Orioles might have had the steal of the draft with Montero.

9. Wichita Rocks – Alex Harris, SP, Iowa Western CC

Alex Harris ended the run of position players, and for good reason. Harris is very solid in almost every major pitching category, with his 82/77 splits and 91 velocity really standing out. A perfect health rating of 100 was another major bonus for the leagues oldest franchise, and could find himself in the ace role in the years to come.

10. Rochester Rakers – Ricky Gold, RP, North Texas University

The Rakers rounded out the top ten by landing themselves the best relief pitcher in the draft. Ricky Gold was a steal at number 10, and will make a top bullpen arm. Gold's lefty-righty splits of 86 and 83 are spectacular, and his 83 control and 89 velocity make him solid all around. Granted his stamina is low, but with a health rating of 90 the Rakers may have found their closer of the future. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

S25 Power 10

1)  San Diego Beards of Zeus -  40_dog and his Black Panther magic is doing even better than winning 60%  of the time 100% of the time...they rolling at a clip of 76%.   SD has been on a slow up swing winning 62, 75, 83 over the last 3 seasons.   Can young gun Horacio DeLeon get 40 back to the playoffs for the first time since S18?

2)  Augusta Polar Bears -  Balls are flying out of Noes Field at an alarming rate.......the blog wonders if the commish took a page from The Lorrax and bottled some of the fresh Rocky Mountain air and is piping it into Noes.......could happen......

3)  Tampa Bay Don Caesers -  2x ARod World Series champ cebola continues to get it done with solid hitting to go with great pitching and fielding.    You better have a lead late against TB as stud closer Alfonso Villafuerte is virtually unhittable!!!

4)  Philadelphia Colonials -  All those years in the basement collecting talent is paying off in a big way for brutus08, but the "cou de ta" was landing superstar SP Gary Pressley last year in a trade........speaking of that, who traded him to brutus?  I gotta go back and look so we can kick their ass!!!  :)

5)  Helena Peacemakers - Another team loaded with superstar young's to wishing we had to the MWR in place 10 season's ago, maybe bigp wouldn't be in for such a dog fight this year.   Keep an eye on slugger Hersh Glynn as that crazy breakout MVP season could happen at any moment.

6)  Tacoma XMEN -  Just when it looked like mrx39 was going to give up on his rebuild, he gives it one last change and what do you know............loads of young talent here but is there enough pitching to keep this going?

7)  Colorado Shock -  The Shock are doing what The Shock do......struggle against the truly elite and handle everyone else.   Could this be the year that bigparb13's $110 million investment finally pays off - Gio Hernandez?

8)  Hartford Dirt Dobbers -  The entire town of Hartford held its collective breath when superstar Art Krause was injured ..... luckily for the Dobbers it was just a calf strain and with Krause set to make his return tomorrow, rdwaltz71 has done a great job keeping the Dobbers in 1st place in the NL North division.

9)  San Juan Rum Runners -  new owner BroncoRon has a solid veteran squad sitting in first place but in recent days he's indicated a desire to re-build.  There's been no significant moves to-date but the blog wonders when we might see that first domino fall......

10)  Tie -Trenton Thunder &  Iowa City Rounders -  really?  really?  two of the best teams in ARod both sitting under .500 33 games in a more that a bit shocking?   Is it rebuild time for Iowa?