Year in Review
The 2007 season will be
remembered in different ways by different people. For me, it will
be remembered as just another year that I led the league in wins and had
nothing to show for it. For Chris Luhning, it
will be the year he not only won the BDBL championship, but got to meet
the BDBL commissioner in person (a far greater honor, IMHO.) For
Anthony Peburn and Billy Romaniello, it will be the year they spent
chasing that elusive 50th win. Bob Sylvester will remember this as
the year he tried his damnedest not win, but his team won anyway.
And for Mike Stein, it will be the year he finally played some November
More than anything, the 2007 season
will be remembered (or, perhaps, not remembered) for its absence of
drama. The four Ozzie League pennant races were all but set in
stone by the end of May. There were relatively few message board
debates or arguments over lopsided trades, compared to past seasons.
And if the BDBL playoffs were televised, it would have earned the lowest
ratings in league history. Only two of the seven series lasted
more than five games.
As is tradition, I would like to take
this time to thank you all for another outstanding season. I have now
met all eleven of my Ozzie League competitors in person, and I've even
managed to meet eight out of the twelve reclusive Eck Leaguers as well.
I'd like to thank my "cabinet" -- D.J., Jeff, Tom, Greg and Badger --
for another year of donating your time and effort to the cause.
This league would never run so smoothly without all your help.
Many thanks to those who attended BDBL Weekend this year, making it a
memorable two-city event. Thanks to Matt for securing one final
Yahoo! BDBL football league for us before he bolted out the door.
Thanks to Tony C. and Sharky for putting together the invaluable MLB
stats spreadsheet (even though Sharky's done a lousy job of it.)
Thanks to all of you for making time
for the BDBL despite having so many other things going on in your lives.
And, as always, thanks to my wife, Karen, for putting up with my whining
about not winning the trophy for the ninth year in a row, and pretending
The 2007 season began with its usual
tidal wave of trades, announced within minutes of the end of the World
Series. The Salem Cowtippers made the biggest splash, announcing
seven trades in which they acquired B.J. Ryan, Scott Rolen, Jeremy
Bonderman, Brandon Webb, Orlando Hudson and Mike Cameron, among others.
Coming off their first sub-.500 season in franchise history, the
Cowtippers were looking for a big comeback in 2007. They did just
that, winning a league-high 110 games while outscoring their opponents
by a league-best 245 runs.
After a rebuilding year of
Brian Potrafka of the Ravenswood Infidels was also looking to make a big
comeback in '07. Shortly after the Series ended, Potrafka
announced the acquisition of ace starter Roy Halladay from the Sylmar
Padawans in exchange for Brandon Phillips and Cesar Carillo.
Halladay went 14-13 with a 3.39 ERA for Ravenswood, at a bargain salary
of just $6 million, and the Infidels won their division by ten full
In Wapakoneta, Bobby Sylvester was
searching for a big bat to team with Albert Pujols in his lineup.
He found that bat in Vladimir Guerrero, whom he acquired from the Corona
Confederates on December 6th, at the expense of four players with very
little value. Wapakoneta missed the playoffs by four games despite
Guerrero's effort (.337/.358/.588, 48 2B, 40 HR, 118 RBI, 25 SB.)
Oddly enough, it was the poor performance of Pujols (.251/.332/.499 with
35 HR and 114 RBI) who held the team back.
Meanwhile, Sylvester's father was
making some trade noise of his own when he acquired Roger Clemens from
the New Milford Blazers at the deadline. With his $19 million
salary and only 124+ available innings, Clemens was considered all-but-untradeable.
But when the Blazers agreed to take $10 million in penalties, and asked
for only Dioner Navarro in return, it was an offer Bob Sylvester
However, it would be just the first of many dubious decisions for Bob Sylvester,
Sr. in 2007.
On December 29th, the farm draft kicked
off when the Great Lakes Sphinx selected Japanese import Kei Igawa as
the #1 pick overall. The expectation at the time was that Igawa
would make an instant impact on the 2008 Sphinx, providing both innings
and quality left-handed pitching. Instead, Igawa pitched just 67+
innings in MLB '07, with an ERA of 6.25. Japanese players
dominated the first few rounds of the farm draft, with Norichika Aoki
and Koji Uehara chosen with the next two picks, Kazumi Saitoh and Kosuke
Fukudome taken in the second round, and Hideki Okajima in Round 5.
Another dominant theme of the 2007 farm draft was the selection of
several high school, college and foreign players with no professional
experience whatsoever, including Angel Villalona, Yadel Marti, Yoslan
Herrera, Josh Vitters, J.P. Arencibia, Rick Porcello, Justin Jackson,
Matt Harvey, Jason Heyward, Andrew Brackman, Carlos Triunfel, Yuliesky
Gourriel, Michael Burgess, Robert Stock and Blake Beavan.
Perhaps more than anything else, the
2007 season will be remembered as the year the entire league lost its
collective mind in terms of free agent bidding. The league's
weakest draft class, combined with the league's highest amount of
spending money, created a "perfect storm" of irrational spending.
On the very first day of the free agent auction, Ed McGowan of the
Confederates broke the all-time BDBL record by signing Johan Santana to
a $21 million salary. That single signing -- which represented
over one-third of Corona's total salary cap, and left them with just
$7.6 million to spend on the rest of their team -- created a wave of
panic that rippled throughout the league.
Nowhere was that sense of panic more
palpable than in Marlboro, where GM Ken "The Shark" Kaminski held a
league-high $48.4 million in spending cash. After being out-bid on
all five players in the first lot, Kaminski placed huge bids on four
players in the next lot, and at the end of Day Two, he had won all four
of those bids. Instantly after winning those bids, however,
Kaminski developed a debilitating case of buyer's remorse, which
launched him into another full-scale panic attack. He frantically
put all four players on the Selling forum, and within minutes he
accepted the first offer that came across his desk. That offer,
involving the trade of David Ortiz to the New Hope Badgers in exchange
for three players of dubious value, would become a BDBL legend soon
To say that Ortiz dominated the league
unlike any other batter in league history would be a gross
understatement. Playing in a home ballpark that was much
friendlier to left-handed power hitters than his MLB park, Ortiz
shattered the all-time single-season home run record, and needed only
five chapters to do so. He finished the season with 79 home runs
and 205 RBI -- both BDBL records -- and nearly single-handedly carried
the Badgers to an Ozzie League wild card (and eventually an OL
On Day Three of the auction, the
league's third $20 million player (and second of the auction) was born
when Los Altos Undertakers GM Jeff Paulson signed ace starter Chris
Carpenter to join his already impressive starting rotation.
Carpenter would lead the Ozzie League in wins (21) while posting a 3.07
ERA in 243+ innings, and after a two-year hiatus, Paulson would reclaim
his place atop the Griffin Division with a 99-61 record.
Two days later, the bar of the Crazy
Meter was raised several notches when Jim Doyle of the Manchester Irish
Rebels made C.C. Sabathia the third $20 million player of the 2007
auction. Sabathia enjoyed a decent season for the Rebs, going 14-11
with a 3.20 ERA in 210+ innings, but Manchester would finish with a
record of just 70-90 (which begged the question of why Doyle would spend
1/3 of his team's salary on just one player.)
The next day, Nashville paid $12.5
million for a 40-year-old Greg Maddux. New Milford then raised the
bar again the following day by paying $10.5 million for a 41-year-old pitcher,
Kenny Rogers. The next day, Great Lakes continued the trend by
paying $15.5 million for a 39-year-old John Smoltz. And the
Funkadelic then capped off the madness by signing mediocre starter Jason
Jennings to a $15.5 million salary on the final day of the auction.
When the dust settled, the league had
paid a league-record of $364.5 million for the worst draft class in
history. The eleven starting pitchers in the auction earned a
combined $151 million -- an average of $13.73 million per pitcher.
And 30 out of the 50 free agents in the auction became "Type H" players
with salaries of $5.5 million or higher and guaranteed one-year
Normally, the period between Cutdown
Day and Opening Day is a quiet one in terms of trades. But the
2007 season included a record number of trades announced during this
time. In addition to Ortiz, Tony Badger's favorite underwater pal
closer Mariano Rivera to the New Hope charity fund as well. In 73+ innings with
New Hope, Rivera compiled a microscopic ERA of just 0.98, with 34 saves
and only 53 hits and 9 walks allowed.
In New Milford, GM Anthony Peburn
created his own peculiar savings-and-loan industry, agreeing to spend money on behalf of
other teams in the auction in exchange for second-rate prospects.
First, he purchased Chipper Jones for the Nashville Funkadelic, and
received four players with four different nationalities in return --
none of whom will make much of an impact in 2008 or beyond. And on
behalf of the Cleveland Rocks, Peburn purchased Rogers, acquiring four more
players of little value to the Blazers franchise in exchange.
In Manchester, Doyle's insanity
continued when he traded three "Grade A" prospects (Yovani Gallardo,
Adam Loewen and Jarrod Saltalamacchia) to the Chicago Black Sox in
exchange for Ivan Rodriguez and Kurt Suzuki. And in Corona,
McGowan sent top prospect (and eventual NL Rookie of the Year) Ryan
Braun to the Allentown Ridgebacks in exchange for "The Little Engine
That Could," David Eckstein. It didn't take long for both trades
to join the ranking of worst trades in league history.
After all the madness of the winter,
the 2007 season officially kicked off on January 28th, when the
Cowtippers swept the Blazers in their traditional Opening Day series.
But it wouldn't be an easy ride for Salem early in the season, as the
Badgers proved to be serious contenders for the division title.
New Hope began the season on fire, thanks to Ortiz, who clubbed eight
home runs in his first eight games. After a four-game sweep of the
Hammerheads on February 20th, the Badgers officially captured first
place in the division. They wrapped up the chapter with a 19-9
record -- a chapter in which Ortiz hit .295/.408/.857 with 18 home runs
and a mind-boggling 52 RBI.
New Hope finished the first chapter
tied for first, but once again captured sole possession of first place
by handing the Cowtippers their first series loss of the season on March
23rd. The Badgers then took three of four from the Blazers in
their next series, opening up a three-game lead over Salem. But
the Cowtippers then won six of their first eight games in Chapter Three
to recapture a share of first.
On June 12th, Tony Badger worked his
magic at the trade table once again, and convinced Matt Clemm of the
Bear Country Jamboree to trade his ace starter, John Lackey, in exchange
for free-agent-to-be Jake Westbrook, A-ball man-child Kyle Blanks and a
couple of spare parts. But the Cowtippers continued to pull away
from the pack in Chapter Three, and went into the all-star break with a
league-best record of 54-26. All was not hopeless in New Hope,
however, as they led the OL wild card race by a comfortable twelve games
at the half -- all but signaling the end of the race.
Less than two weeks into the season,
the Kansas Law Dogs had already played all 28 of their Chapter One
games, finishing with a record of 18-10. With little else to do
through the end of the chapter, GM Chris Luhning burned up the phones
looking to add to his arsenal. He found an unlikely trading
partner in SoCal Slyme GM Bob Sylvester, who was willing to trade his
$19 million ace, Clemens, despite not having used him at all in Chapter
One. Not only did Luhning acquire Clemens in that trade, but he
added all-star slugger Paul Konerko as well. The two trading
partners wrapped up the first chapter with identical records of 18-10.
But Luhning wasn't done yet. On
April Fool's Day, he announced the addition of $21 million ace Johan
Santana -- an announcement that most believed to be a joke. But by
April 2nd, however, it was clear this was no joke. Just nine weeks
after declaring his team to be a contender, Corona GM McGowan found
himself waving the white flag, and traded his high-priced hired gun
(along with four others) in exchange for six players, including Aaron
Harang, Zach Duke and top prospect Brandon Wood.
Rather than scare away his competition,
these two trades only seemed to provoke Luhning's contenders into
action. On April 27th, the BDBL's defending champion, Tony Chamra,
made a bold move with a pair of trades in which he acquired Pedro
Martinez and Jason Schmidt. Combined, Martinez and Schmidt were to
earn $20 million in 2008 (though both pitchers later became eligible to
be released with the Rule 18.11 escape clause.) At the time of the
trade, Chamra's Villanova Mustangs were tied with the Law Dogs atop the
Higuera Division, and it was his hope that adding two ace starters to a
pitching staff that already led the league in ERA would put his team
over the top.
But the Law Dogs began Chapter Three
with a perfect 12-0 record, growing their lead in the division to six
games. By the all-star break, that lead had shrunk to three games.
And by the end of four chapters, that lead was down to just one game.
Chapter Five, however, was an unmitigated disaster for Villanova, as the
team inexplicably compiled the worst record in the league at 7-21.
And that opened the door for the Law Dogs to run away with it. On
October 21st, the Law Dogs officially clinched the division, and
eventually won it by an astounding 16 games.
It was yet another long season for
Manchester GM Jim Doyle. After finishing with 89+ losses in each
of his first seven seasons as GM of the Irish Rebels franchise, Doyle
decided 2007 was his year to "go for it." But after spending $20
million for a #2 starter in Sabathia, and trading away three top
prospects for an aging, mediocre catcher, Doyle found himself sitting
with a .500 record on March 10th, still one game behind the division
leaders. On that date, he made the decision to continue trading
away top prospects in his push toward a pennant, and dealt Andrew
McCutchen to the Marlboro Hammerheads in exchange for Jason Giambi.
And the result? The Irish Rebels finished with 89+ losses for the
eighth year in a row.
Meanwhile, over in Southern California,
Bob Sylvester, Sr. was embarking on a mission unlike any other in league
history. Despite his team's first-place standing, Sylvester traded
Clemens and Konerko to the Law Dogs on March 12th before Clemens had
thrown a single pitch for the Slyme. Before the season ended,
Sylvester would also trade Anibal Sanchez (before he, too, had thrown a
single pitch), Raul Ibanez and Jose Contreras. And yet, despite
the fact that all of these players were acquired for "future
considerations," his team just kept on winning. And winning.
By the end of five chapters, the Slyme
still maintained their lead in the EL wild card race by two games over
the Wapakoneta Hippos. Then, on October 26th, the Slyme did the
seemingly impossible, and clinched the wild card with a win over the
Hippos in their final series of the season.
While the Slyme were enjoying
accidental success, several other teams were struggling despite their
best intentions. One such team was the Sylmar Padawans.
After winning two division titles the previous two years, GM John Duel
went into the 2007 season confident that his team would once again
compete. But as Duel's role with the team diminished, so did his
team's fortunes. The Padawans finished with a 63-97 record, which
was good for last-place in the Griffin Division. And yet, their
runs differential was second-best in the league at -5, and their
Pythagorean difference was a mind-blowing 17 games -- a new BDBL record.
Oddly enough, the team's undoing was its bullpen, which had been called
one of the best-ever bullpens in league history just one year prior.
Sylmar went just 15-30 in one-run games, and blew 12 games when leading
after seven innings.
One team that enjoyed very little
success in 2007, and deserved each and every loss, was the New Milford
Blazers. The defending Ozzie League champions "went for it all" in
2006, and began to suffer the consequences for that in 2007. They
began the season with a 4-24 Chapter One -- the second-worst chapter
ever in league history -- and didn't perform much better throughout the
rest of the season. They chased the elusive 50-win milestone
throughout the second half, but never made it. Instead, they
finished with a record of 47-113 -- just one loss below the league
record they set in 1999.
With the Ozzie League's pennant races
all but decided in Chapter One, the league turned to the Eck League for
drama. The Person
Division race saw all four teams capture first place at some point
during the season. The first chapter ended with the SoCal Slyme at
the top of the division. On April 14th, the South Carolina Sea
Cats opened up the second chapter with a 10-2 record, giving them a
three-game lead over the Hippos. In Chapter Three, it was the
Hippos' turn, as they captured a share of first place (with the
Nashville Funkadelic) after a 10-2 start to the chapter. But while
the Funk kept up their
pace in the second half (going 48-32 after a 49-31 first half), the
Slyme, Hippos and Sea Cats each fell apart, allowing Nashville to capture
the division by seven games.
Another tight race took place in the
Hrbek Division, where the Rocks, Ryche and Black Sox jockeyed for
position throughout the season. On July 18th, Black Sox GM John
Gill made his move, adding Roy Oswalt, Andruw Jones and Scot Shields in
two separate deals. The 'Sox were in third place at the time of
the trades, but trailed the first place team by only three games.
In Chapter Five, the Ryche took a two-game lead over the Rocks after
Cleveland lost six of eight games to the bottom-feeders of the Eck
League (Great Lakes and Atlanta.) But Cleveland then regained the
lead by sweeping Akron in the annual "I-77 Series." That sweep put
the Black Sox five games behind in the division.
In the first week of September, Akron
once again captured first place, but the Rocks then swept the South
Carolina Sea Cats to take over the lead once again. Finally, on
October 25th, Mike Stein captured a spot in the playoffs for the first
time in eight seasons, leaving the Great Lakes Sphinx as the only
franchise remaining that has yet to play November baseball.
On the weekend of July 27-29, the BDBL
celebrated our eighth annual BDBL Weekend by covering two cities in
three days: St. Louis and Kansas City. A total of nine league
members attended, and a great time was had by all. In addition to
two ballgames in two different ballparks and a tour of the Budweiser
brewery in St. Louis, the highlight of the weekend was a five-hour trade
negotiation between Jim Doyle, Greg Newgard and myself that culminated
in Miguel Cabrera coming to Salem.
In interleague play, the Eck League
dominated the Ozzie League, going 110-82, with only the Salem Cowtippers
sporting a winning record (12-4) in interleague play. The Ozzie
League won the midsummer classic however, as the OL all-stars emerged
with an 8-6 win over the EL all-stars, with Salem catcher Kenji Johjima
winning the game's MVP award.
It was an historic year for the
Cowtippers (during the regular season, of course), as they reached the
100-win milestone for the fifth time in history, and won their sixth
division title -- both BDBL records. But those accomplishments
merely set the stage for another November meltdown in the post-season.
Facing the #4-seeded Infidels, the Cowtippers won Game One in convincing
fashion, by a score of 11-4. But Salem's historic starting
rotation, which including four 17-game winners, collapsed after that,
and the Cowtippers lost the next four games in a row.
In the other Ozzie League Division
Series, the Undertakers were swept away by the Badgers, as league MVP
David Ortiz hit .455 with two home runs and seven walks in the series,
and Los Altos pitching allowed 23 runs on 24 walks in 34+ innings.
Over in the Eck League, Cleveland's
fairytale season came to a not-so-happily-ever-after ending when the
Funkadelic pounded out four straight wins to sweep the series. The
Funk hit .327/.405/.497 as a team in that series, while Cleveland's bats
never woke up. And in the other EL Division Series, the Law Dogs
needed six games to beat the SoCal Slyme, as Kansas outscored SoCal
In the OLCS, the Infidels needed just
one win over the final two games of the series to clinch a spot in the
World Series. But four different New Hope batters launched home
runs in Game Six, forcing the one and only seven-game series of the 2007
post-season. In that game, the Badgers took a 3-1 lead in the
third inning on a three-run double by series MVP Barry Bonds, and then
tacked on two more runs in the fifth. Mariano Rivera then sealed
the deal with a shutout inning of relief, sending the Badgers to the
The ELCS featured a match-up between
Nashville and Kansas. Pitching dominated the first two games of
the series, as each team won a game thanks to its starting pitching
(Johan Santana for Kansas and Jason Jennings for Nashville.) In
Game Three, the Law Dogs overcame a 4-0 deficit in the fifth inning by
pounding out eleven runs over four innings -- six off of Nashville
all-star closer Joe Nathan. Kansas then enjoyed another big inning
in Game 4, scoring five runs in the fifth to win by a score of 6-5.
And in Game 5, the 'Dogs mounted another five-run rally in the seventh
inning to clinch the series victory.
Finally, the BDBL World Series began
with three straight Kansas victories -- the third coming on a
15th-inning walk-off home run by series co-MVP Carlos Beltran. And
after a Badgers win in Game 4, Chris Luhning and the Law Dogs clinched
their first BDBL championship with a 3-2 victory.
We now enter our 10th season as a
league, which is an accomplishment in which we should all take pride.
I continue to believe that this is the best DMB league in existence, and
I feel that this league improves year after year. Not only has our
rulebook improved over the years, but the level of competition is ten
times greater today than it was when this league first began.
We've all learned so much about the game of baseball (not to mention the
art of negotiating, drafting and farm prospecting) over the years, and
that is something that makes this hobby worth all the time, effort and
aggravation. We've also grown closer as a group, and whereas we
were nothing more than a group of disembodied names nine years ago, we
now know each other personally, and can share in our personal triumphs
It is truly an honor
to have played alongside you all these past nine years, and I look
forward to many more years ahead.