Year in Review
"Pack it up, Ozzie League. Barring another epic upset in the BDBL
postseason, this one is over. The division race is over before the
season begins, and the 2015 Ozzie League season is simply a matter
of playing out the string to see if anyone can possibly upset [the
Los Altos Undertakers] in the playoffs.
place, 115+ wins, and the BDBL championship. Any other outcome would
be an historic disappointment."
-- Mike Glander, 2015 Season Preview
When it comes to
predictions, this one was a slam dunk. Before the first pitch of the
2015 season was tossed, it seemed that the entire season was a pointless
exercise of going through the motions toward an inevitable and
There is a very solid case to be made that the 2015 Los Altos Undertakers
were the greatest team ever assembled
in the BDBL. They won 116 games, tying the all-time record. They
outscored their competition by 404 runs, which is a greater margin than
any other team in history aside from the 2002 Ridgebacks (who benefited
from playing in an era of much higher run scoring.)
The Undertakers actually
played eight games below their Pythagorean record. According to
that formula, their expected wins total was 124 (which blows away the
'02 Ridgebacks' record of 118.) Including their 12 wins
in the postseason, Los Altos won an incredible 128 games in 2015, which
bested the 2003 Stamford Zoots' previous record by one. They also shattered the
all-time BDBL record for lowest team ERA in a season, with a
head-exploding rate of 2.62 (38 points below the previous record!)
Was it really a no-doubt
slam dunk that Los Altos would win it all in 2015? Of course not. More
often than not, the best team during the regular season has lost in the
BDBL postseason. Los
Altos was far superior to any other team in the league. They won ten more games than any other team in the BDBL
this season -- a feat that has been accomplished only three times in seventeen seasons.
Yet, in two of the four times that rare feat was achieved, the team that
dominated the competition so convincingly during the regular season
ended up losing in the postseason. The one other time that dominant team
won it all was in 2009,
when Jeff Paulson won his first championship.
Give Paulson credit for
his ability to close the deal. It's not as easy as it appears.
Heading into the winter,
the Undertakers appeared to be locks to win their division, and the
clear favorites to win the Ozzie League. They had the best pitching in
the league, with a solid four of Kyle Gibson (19-4, 2.30 ERA in 195+ IP
in the BDBL), Gerrit Cole (11-4, 3.36 in 134), Chris Archer (10-8, 4.62
in 157+), and Colin McHugh (11-7, 2.83 in 165+) in the starting rotation. As usual, their bullpen
was overflowing with elite closers, and their starting lineup was filled
with all-stars like Jason Heyward (.296/.352/.398, 77.8 RC), Anthony
Rizzo (.286/.401/.505, 117.5), Scooter Gennett (.316/.354/.470, 71.0),
and Nolan Arenado (.268/.304/.448, 61.9).
Far be it for any
superteam to be content with merely dominating the competition. Paulson's
goal was to completely embarrass the competition in 2015. With that,
he pulled off a pair of trades that transformed this surefire division
winner into the stuff of legend. The first trade was announced on
Thanksgiving Day, mere hours after the Superteam of Tom DiStefano and
Gene Patterson clinched their sixth combined championship.
In that deal, Paulson
added the power bats of Jose Bautista (.279/.375/.546, 118.3 RC) and
Jonathan Lucroy (.284/.361/.434, 88.1) from his division rivals, the
Flagstaff Outlaws. This season, Bautista ranked among the top
ten in the OL in on-base percentage, slugging, RBI's, walks, and runs
created. He led the league in home runs (42) and runs scored (132). A
week later, Paulson added another power-hitting outfielder in Matt
Holliday (.281/.380/.474, 50.7 RC), who essentially became a platoon
mate for Heyward, and one of the greatest pinch hitters in league
Another trade announced on
Thanksgiving was the final nail in the coffin for every team in the BDBL
aside from Los Altos. In exchange for four prospects of dubious
pedigree, the Undertakers received ace Chris Sale from the Mississippi
Meatballs. What did Sale do for the Undertakers? Oh, nothing except set
a new all-time record for lowest ERA in a season (1.63), a new all-time
record for lowest opponents' OBP (.222), and a new all-time record
for lowest opponents' slugging (.253). Sale went 18-2 in the regular
season, with a phenomenal 30:253 walk-to-strikeouts ratio in 187+
The Flagstaff Outlaws
managed to keep pace with the Undertakers for all of one chapter, as they
finished Chapter One only one game behind Los Altos. That deficit grew
to five games after two chapters, and eight games by the all-star break.
Near the end of that third chapter, Paulson announced he had just pulled
off yet another blockbuster trade. In exchange for two more players of
questionable caliber, Los Altos added MVP bat Michael Brantley. Brantley
hit .317/.358/.500 for Los Altos in the second half, and pushed Holliday
further down the bench. The Undertakers won 62 games (!) in the second
half -- a .775 winning percentage -- and captured their eleventh
division title by a whopping 32 games.
"For the second chapter in a
row, I had a losing chapter and I just don't think I have the
horses, so my whole team is available except for Bryce Harper and
Madison Bumgarner - only because they are franchised."
-- John Gill, 4/22/15
The Chicago Black Sox were
projected to win the Hrbek Division, both on this page and in preseason
league polling. As they often seem to do, however, the team got off to a
slow start. At the end of two chapters, Chicago trailed every team in
the division, and sat eleven games behind the leader with a record of
just 25-31. GM John Gill threw in the towel at that point, and placed
every one of his tradeable players on the block. He managed to offload
only two significant players, Pablo Sandoval and Jonathan Broxton, before the
trading deadline. As it turned out, that was a fortunate turn for the Black
After another mediocre
Chapter Three, Chicago limped into the all-star break with a 38-42
record, in last place by a dozen games. Despite that, Gill made the bold
decision to throw caution to the wind and sacrifice a bit of his team's
future in order to strengthen his team down the stretch. He did so by
claiming the season's top prize: Miguel Cabrera.
"We are hoping Cabrera
will be the missing piece that will get this ship sailing in the right
direction," Gill announced. "My team should be primed for a very good
second half, and hopefully get us into the playoffs. But it won't be
Cabrera hit a respectable
.292/.355/.498 with his new club in the second half, with 11 homers and
50.6 runs created. Despite his presence, however, the Black Sox muddled
through another mediocre (13-11) chapter to start the second half.
Finally, in Chapter Five, something seemed to click. Chicago went 18-10,
and cut their deficit in the wild card race to just four games.
In a crucial Chapter Six
series against the wild card-leading Charlotte Mustangs at home, the
Black Sox needed just one win to clinch a spot in the playoffs. They
dropped the first game by a score of 8-2. Madison Bumgarner righted the
ship with a shutout win in the second game, sending Chicago to a
postseason date with the imposing Southern Cal Slyme. Although the
matchup appeared to favor the Slyme, Chicago had momentum in their
favor. No Eck League team was hotter in the second half of the season than the Black
Sox, who nearly played .700 ball.
"There is no way to
sugarcoat this: the Rocks have the worst offense in the Eck League.
Period. ...The outfield is an absolute wasteland. ...I honestly
don't know what Stein was thinking when he constructed this team
over the winter. Knowing that he had a killer pitching staff and no
offense, he traded two of the only decent bats he had...for another
starting pitcher. With $13 million to spend on free agents, he added
[Joe] Mauer and [Miguel] Montero for $6.5 million, combined. He then added
in the draft. Sorry, but that's not enough offense for any team to
consider themselves a contender. ...we're left with a team that
could potentially allow as few as 550 runs this season...and would
be lucky to score as many. Prediction: 4th place."
-- Mike Glander, 2015
In this "Season of the
Pitcher," few teams in the BDBL could match the Cleveland Rocks'
dominant pitching staff in 2015. Corey Kluber (21-6, 2.26 ERA, 280 K's
in 250+ IP) pitched well enough to win a Cy Young award in most years.
Jacob deGrom (11-5, 2.50 in 137+) was a fantastic #2 starter in limited
usage. Jake Arrieta (11-5, 3.05 in 153+), Hiroki Kuroda (10-16, 4.25 in
197) and Tim Hudson (9-11, 3.82 in 167+) rounded out an extremely
formidable starting rotation. In the bullpen, Mark Melancon (5-1, 1.08
in 74+) led the league in saves, with 48, and Zack Britton posted a
miniscule 1.69 ERA in 80 innings.
The problem -- or so it
seemed in the preseason -- was that the Rocks had no offense. The lineup
was filled with singles-hitting speedsters like Ben Revere
(.322/.353/.363, 40 SB), Jose Reyes (.308/.359/.438, 25 SB), Jordan
Schafer (.294/.338/.335, 19 SB), and Emilio Bonifacio (.271/.323/.348,
20 SB). GM Mike Stein added another singles hitter, Joe Mauer
(.259/.338/.356) as a free agent. Another free agent signing, Miguel
Montero (.236/.313/.367), ended up leading this team in home runs, with
just 14. It was offense custom-built for run-scoring...in the Dead Ball
A deal announced just
prior to the Chapter Two deadline brought some much-needed power to the
lineup in the form of Torii Hunter. Over the next five chapters, Hunter
led the Rocks in nearly every offensive category. For his new team, he
contributed a .303/.339/.496 batting line, 40 doubles, 12 homers, and
73.3 runs created. Cleveland's offense benefited from several BDBL
performances that far exceeded the MLB numbers. Revere hit 16 points
higher than his MLB batting average, and his OBP was 28 points higher in
the BDBL. Reyes saw a 21-point increase in his batting average, and a
71-point jump in OPS. Brandon Phillips hit 37 points higher in the BDBL,
and his OPS was nearly 100 points higher than his MLB figure.
Put it all together, and
Cleveland scored 662 runs -- far exceeding their preseason expectations.
Instead of finishing the season near the bottom of the league in runs
scored, they ranked fifth. The end result was a 97 win season for the
Cleveland Rocks, which bested their previous wins record by five games
(which happened fifteen years ago), and the franchise's second division
"Two steps forward, three
steps back. Story of the season. Watching Peabrain's pitchers pummel
my pitching with two outs -- twice in the same game -- was fun. If
not for that, we'd have had a split. And if it weren't for my
sub-2.00 bullpen vomiting all over the field in Game 4, we could
have taken the series -- on the road. Always so much fun playing New
Milford. Can't wait until next chapter."
-- Mike Glander, 8/31/15
After four consecutive
division titles, this was supposed to be the year that the New Milford
Blazers finally stumbled. After winning three consecutive wild cards,
2015 was supposed to be the year the Salem Cowtippers finally recaptured
a division title for the first time since 2008. But the Baseball Gods
have a funny habit of ruining "supposed to's."
The Cowtippers came into the
winter firing on all cylinders. Max Scherzer (20-11, 3.28 ERA in 236 IP
in the BDBL) and Stephen Strasburg (12-13, 4.00 in 229+) looked like
twin Cy Young candidates on paper. They were backed in the rotation by a
pair of solid lefties, Scott Kazmir (16-10, 3.48 in 206+) and Francisco
Liriano (11-8, 4.21 in 164+ overall.) Even Matt Shoemaker, who was
picked up off of the free agent scrap heap late in 2014, contributed a
10-8 record and a 3.58 ERA over 148+ innings.
Offensively, Salem was
stacked with all-star-caliber hitters, including the surprising Josh
Harrison (.330/.360/.534, 56 doubles, 107.7 RC), Hunter Pence
(.287/.317/.433, 82 RC), and Ian Desmond (a dismal .236/.313/.387
performance.) I padded that foundation by acquiring Alex Gordon
(.299/.373/.509, 108.8), Luis Valbuena (.277/.370/.475, 69.4), and Chris
Coghlan (.293/.360/.431, 62.3) through trades.
On December 16th, I
announced a trade with the South Carolina Sea Cats that I believed would
seal the fate of the 2015 season and reclaim that elusive division
title once and for all. Despite the familiar inner voice warning me that it was pointless to
trade away my franchise's future, given the utter dominance of the
Undertakers, I ignored the voice and went all-in. Young phenom Julio
Urias was placed on the sacrificial altar. In exchange, Salem received
MVP-caliber bat Buster Posey (.313/.363/.484, 95.6) and all-star Freddie
Freeman (a monumentally disappointing .275/.379/.387, with just 8 HR and
The cries of the BDBL
Peanut Gallery were unanimous: Salem "won" this trade, and the division
title was now theirs to lose. In preseason polling, Salem was the
overwhelming favorite, collecting fourteen of the sixteen votes to win
the division. The Cowtippers collected four of the thirteen votes to win
the OL Championship, and tied with the Undertakers and Slyme to win the
While the Cowtippers were
bulking up over the winter, it appeared that the Blazers were
downsizing. They traded their long-time MVP, Robinson Cano, to the SoCal
Slyme in exchange for a pitcher (Masahiro Tanaka) with limited usage in
more future value than present. GM Anthony Peburn made a $13 million
investment in another part-time player with more future than present
value when he signed Troy Tulowitzki as a free agent. Other free agent
signings, such as Drew Stubbs, Kyle Lohse, and Matt Wieters, appeared to
be nothing more than warm bodies designed to fill usage.
The Blazers went into
Opening Day with a pitching staff led by perennial Cy Young candidate
Clayton Kershaw (20-5, 2.39 ERA in 218 IP in the BDBL), a part-time
dominant starter in Tanaka (13-5, 2.95 in 149+), and a lineup filled
with part-time platoon hitters like Mookie Betts (.307/.391/.492 in 179
AB), Tulowitzki (.320/.422/.582 in 347), David Peralta (.350/.370/.570
in 351), and Rickie Weeks (.285/.370/.418 in 239). These weren't the
Blazers of 2011-2014, and they no longer had their cartoon ballpark to
distort their performances and provide an artificial advantage. The
stars appeared to be aligned. However, there was one more trade that
Peburn made just before the deadline that changed his team dramatically.
During the negotiation
with South Carolina GM Tony DeCastro, he asked me to "throw in" an
impact platoon bat in first baseman Adam LaRoche. Since I no longer had
any use for LaRoche, given the acquisition of Freeman, I benevolently included him in
the offer. That decision would result in unexpected dire consequences.
Mere hours after I announced my trade with the Sea Cats, DeCastro turned
around and flipped LaRoche to the Blazers. LaRoche practically carried
the Blazers on his back during the first half, leading the Ozzie League
in home runs, and ranking #2 in runs created, and slugging.
It didn't take long for
the "supposed to's" to unravel. In the very first series of the season,
a traditional matchup between these two ancient rivals, New Milford won
three out of four. The series was punctuated by unlikely acts of
randomness and bad luck. New Milford won the first game by one run
thanks to a pinch hit, two-out, two-run homer by backup infielder Derek
Dietrich off of Max Scherzer. In the second game, Salem lost starters
Strasburg and Pence in the third inning after an on-field brawl. They
ended up losing -- again by one run -- in extra innings. These types of
fluky events epitomized the 2015 season for both teams, and became the
running theme throughout the year.
By the time the first
chapter ended, the Blazers found themselves only one game out of the
division lead despite being outscored by their competition. At the time,
I wrote off their success as a result of the fact that they had played
nine extra inning games at that point, and had won seven of those games.
No team could possibly rely on that type of random luck for an extended
period of time, I confidently surmised.
Then came the disastrous
Chapter Two. New Milford finished with a respectable 17-11 record,
matching their Chapter One performance. Salem, on the other hand,
stumbled badly, finishing the chapter with a 12-16 record, which
included three more losses to New Milford. Scherzer finished the chapter
with a 1-5 record and a 4.81 ERA, and Strasburg went 1-4 with a 6.81
ERA, and allowed eleven home runs (nearly half of his 2014 MLB total.)
The Cowtippers fell four
games behind the Blazers, despite outscoring New Milford offensively and
allowing fewer runs defensively. After another mediocre Chapter Three,
Salem limped into the all-star break still trailing New Milford by four
games, despite a runs differential of nearly fifty runs greater than the
Blazers. At the midway point of the season, New Milford inexplicably
carried a winning percentage of .613; however, they faced numerous usage
issues thanks to all their extra-inning games and their reliance upon
part-time players. Salem fans were confident that the second half would
be a complete reversal of the first half.
Then came that meddling
In a deal that still makes
my head involuntarily swivel back and forth, the Blazers added two
full-time hitters with 800+ OPS splits against both lefties and righties,
AND a closer, in exchange for five prospects who failed to reach the top
100 in the annual BDBL Farm Report. From that point forward, the Blazers
caught fire. They went 56-24 (.700) in the second half, and outscored
their opponents by 154 runs. One of the two hitters they acquired in
that trade with Akron, Steven Pearce, hit a Bondsian .342/.406/.695 in
the second half, with 14 homers in 190 at-bats, and 55.9 runs created.
The other, Jayson Werth, contributed a relatively meager .261/.337/.431
batting line and 47 runs created.
The Cowtippers righted the
ship in the second half, winning 51 games (six games more than their
first half total), yet could not catch up with the Blazers. Salem
managed to briefly tie for the division lead, but instantly handed it
back to New Milford during a crucial head-to-head series in Chapter Five
-- a series nearly single-handedly won by Pearce. In the end, New
Milford easily won the division by nine games. Their five consecutive
division titles tied the Stamford Zoots' BDBL record.
"The Slyme have now won 100
or more games two years in a row, and there appears to be a very
good chance that they will make it three in a row this year. Only
three other teams have ever achieved that feat: the 2012-2014
Ridgebacks, the 2009-2011 Undertakers and the 2001-2003 Zoots. That,
in itself, would be impressive. Winning two BDBL championships in
three seasons would be equally impressive. ...The Slyme are clearly
the best team in the Eck League, once again. ...Barring another
upset, Southern Cal will represent the Eck League in the BDBL World
-- Mike Glander, 2015
As demoralizing as the
Undertakers' inevitable dominance was to the rest of the Ozzie League
this season, the Southern Cal Slyme appeared equally as dominant in the
Eck League. Coming on the heels of a 106-win season and back-to-back
100-win seasons, the Slyme appeared to be even stronger heading into the
winter of 2015. On the pitching side, Felix Hernandez (17-7, 2.65 ERA in
251+ IP, with 281 K's) returned to Southern California for the fifth
year in a row. He was joined in the rotation by Lance Lynn (10-11, 3.87
On the offensive side, EL
MVP runner-up Andrew McCutchen (.265/.359/.455, 41 doubles, 100.9 RC)
returned, and was joined by rookie Kyle Seager (.300/.373/.503, 29 HR,
109.9 RC). On top of that foundation, three-time GM of the Year Bob
Sylvester added slugger Jose Abreu (.339/.396/.634, 42 HR, 143 RBI,
148.3 RC), who led the Eck League in slugging, RBI's, and OPS. That same
day, Sylvester announced that he had also acquired Robinson Cano
(.356/.405/.522, 129 RC) from the Blazers, along with back-end starter
Tanner Roark (18-7, 3.94 in 196+). Cano led the EL in batting, on-base,
and hits, and even (oh so quietly) assembled a 48-game hit streak (in
Three days after
announcing the acquisitions of both Abreu and Cano, Sylvester then
announced the crowning achievement of his (likely) fourth GM of the Year
award-winning season. In a salary-dump trade with the Mississippi
Meatballs, the Slyme added Cy Young award favorite Adam Wainwright. All
Wainwright did in 2015 was go a league-leading 26-3 with a
league-leading 2.14 ERA in 248 innings. He ranked #3 in lowest opponents
batting average, #4 in OBP, and #1 in slugging.
Not content to merely
dominate, Sylvester next set his sights on building an unstoppable
bullpen. At the Chapter Four deadline, he added Greg Holland (0.71 ERA
for SoCal in 38 IP, with 22 saves) and Fernando Abad (1.59 ERA in 22+
IP.) Then, at the final deadline, he added Dellin Betances (1.50 ERA in
30 IP, with 9 saves.) By the time he was finished wheeling and dealing,
the Slyme appeared destined to appear in their fourth BDBL World Series.
Needless to say, they
faced little resistance en route to their eighth division title. After
their 21-7 showing in the first chapter, their lead in the division was
already in double digits. By the all-star break, a hard-charging Niagara
Locks squad had cut that lead to "only" nine games. In the end, the
Slyme matched their 2014 wins total with 106, and won the division by a
fairly comfortable 26 game margin.
"Owner Jim Doyle decided to
go all in once he picked up Jon Lester in a trade for Alex Gordon
and Henry Owens. This caused great distress to the front office,
particularly GM Theo Epstein. Epstein did a great job filling the
Giants' roster with names like Brad Holt, Yasmany Tomas, Travis
D.Arnaud, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley Jr., Noah Syndergaard Yadler
Alvarez, and Luis Severino. Those are the names you can build a good
team around, but they were sacrificed on the altar of expediency for
a chance to make it to the playoffs. Defenders of ownership would
argue there was a window of opportunity to win the division, and
given the tragic history of the franchise there was no choice but to
take the risk and trade away the future for the present. Whether the
window is now closed or Doyle realizes what the long term
consequences of going for broke will have on the franchise in the
2016 BDBL season, Epstein has won the war of ideas and the long term
approach will govern the franchise on a go forward basis."
-- From the Official New
York Giants blog, 10/21/15
Sixteen years. Jim Doyle
has owned the New York Giants franchise for sixteen years, and has never
finished a season above .500. That is an astounding, almost
unbelievable, record. 2015 was supposed to be the year that Doyle
finally achieved that elusive winning record and played November
baseball. The Giants didn't exactly look strong on paper, but with so
little competition in the Benes Division, they appeared to be the
frontrunners. On this page, and in league polling, the Giants were
favored to win the division.
With that historic
achievement within reach, Doyle abandoned his long-term strategy of
building his franchise through young pitching and went all-in. In one
mid-winter trade, he jettisoned young ace Noah Syndergaard (as well as
Jackie Bradley, Jr.) in exchange for speedster Billy Hamilton, a middle
reliever (Anthony Varvaro), two part-time utility players (Jedd Gyorko
and Travis Snider), and some salary cap relief. Hamilton hit just
.258/.300/.322 in full-time play, and went 13-for-26 in stolen base
Doyle sacrificed two top
prospects (James Paxton and J.P. Crawford) to acquire Alex Gordon. He
later flipped Gordon, along with another young hurler, Henry Owens, in
exchange for ace Jon Lester. Lester led the team in wins (16-12), and
contributed a solid 3.08 ERA in 239+ innings (with 234 strikeouts).
Although it was a strong performance, it came at the cost of three top
Another Giants slugger,
Adam LaRoche, was traded to Salem in exchange for Roenis Elias, who was
later flipped for James Loney. Loney led the Giants in several
categories, and hit .344/.385/.415 overall, but his 85.2 runs created
paled in comparison to the 113.6 runs that LaRoche created for the
Yan Gomes, an inexpensive
catcher who hit .281/.321/.466 with 24 homers and 72.5 runs created in
the BDBL this season, was traded by Doyle in exchange for Tim Hudson.
Hudson was then flipped to the Cleveland Rocks for Evan Longoria
(.213/.281/.336, 46.6 RC.) In the end, that flip-flop cost the Giants
about 25 runs (or about 2.5 wins.)
After the trades of Gomes,
LaRoche, and Gordon, the Giants were left with an offense that was
primarily built around speedy little singles hitters like Hamilton,
Jarrod Dyson (.251/.304/.282, 12 SB), and perennial Doyle favorite Ben
Zobrist (.287/.365/.437, 101 RC.) Making matters worse, after the
acquisitions of Lester ($9.1MM) and Longoria ($7.6 MM), the Giants were
left with little money to spend on free agents, leaving the team frozen out
of the auction.
New York got off to a
13-15 start in Chapter One, yet they sat only a game out of first place.
The problem, as expected, was an offense that ranked near the bottom of
the league in runs scored. Doyle wasted no time trying to correct that
problem by trading away his closer, Junichi Tazawa, and three young
players (Luis Severino, Braden Shipley, and Travis d'Arnaud) in exchange
for Derek Norris (.281/.365/.496 as a Giant) and closer Craig Kimbrel
(5-2, 1.76 ERA in 56+ IP, with 18 SV.)
By the end of Chapter Two,
New York was still playing sub-.500 ball, and the lead of the first
place Ravenswood Infidels grew to four games. Once again, Doyle reacted
by trading for more offense in the form of second baseman Neil Walker.
Walker was a spectacular (and inexpensive) addition for the Giants, as
he hit .292/.361/.484 down the stretch, and led the team in runs
created over the final four chapters. Still, however, it wasn't enough.
At the halfway point of
the season, Ravenswood still led the division by one game over New York,
and the Las Vegas Flamingos trailed in third place with a 33-47 record,
six games behind the leader. All of that changed in the second half. In
Chapter Four, the Flamingos went 14-10, while the Giants went 10-14. The
Infidels suffered through a disastrous 8-16 chapter, giving New York a
temporary division lead by one game, while the Flamingos leapfrogged
into second place.
Vegas GM John Bochicchio
went into "go for it" mode, and acquired Ryan Braun and Jhonny Peralta
for the stretch run. Doyle responded by dealing an inexpensive and
productive shortstop (Jose Iglesias) and yet another quality young arm (Yadier
Alvarez) to the Undertakers in exchange for pitcher Zach Wheeler.
Wheeler, who will miss all of the 2016 BDBL season, went just 4-4 for
the Giants over the last two chapters, with a 4.54 ERA in 69+ innings.
The Giants finally had a
winning chapter in Chapter Five, going 15-13, but the Flamingos
one-upped them by winning seventeen games and capturing the division
lead. Heading into the final chapter, New York sat just one game away
from that elusive division title despite a record of 63-69. The chapter began
with a head-to-head matchup between the two teams, resulting in a split.
The Giants went 9-3 against Kansas City, Mississippi, and Ravenswood. A
1-3 series against Salem put them at 12-8 on the chapter before a sweep
by Los Altos brought them back to .500. New York then closed out the
season with a devastating series loss against the lowly Granite State
Lightning. That put their final record for the season at 76-84: yet
another losing season.
Meanwhile, the Vegas
Flamingos continued their hot streak to the end. After splitting with
New York, Vegas went 15-9 the rest of the chapter to finish two games
above .500. The division crown was the third for Bochicchio, one of the
few remaining original owners in the BDBL.
the Ridgebacks are trying to compete in 2015, or whether they have
already thrown in the towel, it seems like a half-hearted effort
either way. My guess is that the Superfriends plan to see how the
early part of the season unfolds, and then adjust accordingly. It
would be a shame to see a team waste the prime years of two of
baseball's greatest young talents to rebuild, just a year after
winning the trophy. This team, as presently constituted, sure
doesn't look like a contender on paper."
-- Mike Glander, 2015 Season Preview
After winning their sixth
(combined) BDBL championship in November of 2014, the Superfriends
Alliance of Tom DiStefano and Gene Patterson seemed to take the winter
off. DiStefano made five trades during the winter, and two more before
Opening Day, yet none of the trades involved players who would make a major
impact, and none addressed the pressing needs of the team. Wyoming's
auction induced more head-scratching, as they signed only a pair of
second-rate catchers (Chris Ianetta and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.) They
then filled the remaining eighteen spots on their roster in the draft,
filling spaces with warm bodies like Kyle Lobstein, Randy Choate, and Colby
Meanwhile, their division
rivals were loading up at the trade table. The Kansas Law Dogs added
Zack Greinke and Greg Holland through trades, unloaded a bunch of
salary, and picked up Nelson Cruz and Howie Kendrick in the auction.
Kansas went into the season as the favorite to win the division on this
page. Perhaps by reputation alone, Wyoming tied Kansas in preseason
After one chapter of play,
however, it was neither Kansas nor Wyoming who occupied first place in
the division. It was the Great Lakes Sphinx, who wrapped up the chapter
with a surprising 17-11 record, three games better than Wyoming. Oddly
enough, Kansas finished last that chapter with a record of 10-18.
appears that Scott Romonosky has discovered a hidden trick with this
game that has eluded everyone else that plays Diamond Mind Baseball," I
wrote in my Chapter One Review. "Throughout the entire season last year,
I insisted on this page that the Great Lakes Sphinx were a temporary
fluke that would fade into the background at any point. It never
happened. The Sphinx finished the season with 99 wins and an EL wild
card. I still have no idea how they did it."
As it turned out, the
Riddle of the Sphinx was quickly solved when the team reversed its
fortunes in Chapter Two, going 10-18 to settle in at .500. The Law Dogs
reversed their fortune as well -- in a big way. They wrapped up the
chapter with the best record in the division at 23-5, catapulting from
last place to first by a margin of five games.
Wyoming spent the rest
of the season trying to catch up, to no avail. Prior to Chapter Three,
Kansas GM Chris Luhning added more firepower to his roster by acquiring
Andrew Cashner (4-4, 3.54 ERA in 76+ IP for Kansas), Matt Garza (7-8,
3.80 in 116), and Pablo Sandoval (.343/.386/.518, 72.2 RC in 359 AB.)
Despite those additions, the Ridgebacks managed to knock a couple of
games off of Kansas' lead the following chapter, and went into the
all-star break with a deficit of just three games.
DiStefano made five
trades at the deadline that chapter, involving eighteen players. Like
his winter trades, however, none involved a player that would make an
significant impact on the second half of the season. Unfortunately for the Dynamic
Duo, that three game deficit at the break was as close to the division
lead as they would get. The Law Dogs' lead grew to six games the
following chapter, and thirteen games by the end of five chapters.
In the end, Kansas
finished with a 93-67 record, and captured their seventh division title
by a comfortable nine game margin.
"As with last year, the Black Sox face an uphill battle against the
Slyme. Chicago went just 3-9 against SoCal during the regular
season. They do have four good lefty bats (Calhoun, Ortiz, Ellsbury,
and Bryce Harper) to throw against SoCal's all-righty rotation, but
that doesn't seem to be much of an advantage. It will take another
miracle for Chicago to pull off this magic trick two years in a row.
At this point, nothing would surprise me."
-- Mike Glander, Playoffs Preview
The Chicago Black Sox
pulled off the Miracle of the Decade in 2014 when they defeated the
heavily-favored number one seed in the Eck League, the SoCal Slyme, in
the Division Series. It seemed impossible to believe that lightning
would strike two years in a row. Yet, that is exactly what happened.
Chicago ace Jordan
Zimmerman baffled SoCal hitters for 8 1/3 innings in Game One of the
series. He held the powerful Slyme lineup to just three hits and a walk,
struck out ten, and allowed only two runs. Cy Young candidate Adam
Wainwright held Chicago to the same two runs over six innings. Then, in
the seventh inning, Southern Cal's bullpen betrayed them. With two
left-handed hitters coming to the plate, Bob Sylvester called on
lefty-killer Fernando Abad. Both lefties singled to load the bases. With
two outs, another lefty, Bryce Harper, also singled, plating the
go-ahead (and eventually winning) run.
In Game Two, it was
Madison Bumgarner's turn to dominate SoCal's lineup. Through six
innings, MadBum struck out ten and allowed just two runs. His
counterpart, Felix Hernandez, also allowed two earned runs, but a costly
error by catcher Wilin Rosario added a third unearned run. Thanks to the
fantastic bullpen work of Juan Gutierrez, Tom Wilhelmsen, and Roman
Mendez -- who each threw a shutout inning of relief -- that 3-2 score
would last to the end.
Game Three was one of
the longest games in BDBL playoffs history. It took seventeen innings
for Southern Cal to gain their first win of the series, on a home run by
Mike McKenry and an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen. With a chance to
even the series, Sylvester tapped his ace, Adam Wainwright, to start
Game Four on short rest. Wainwright was brilliant, allowing no earned
runs in eight innings. Unfortunately for the Slyme, an unearned run
scored after an error by the gold glove second baseman Robinson Cano.
Incredibly, that was the only run that scored the entire game, as
Chicago's Gio Gonzalez and a team of relievers held the Slyme's
slumbering bats in check once again.
Game Five was all
about Zimmerman. The series MVP brought his "A" game once again, and
combined with two relievers to shut out the Slyme once again.
Incredibly, the Chicago Black Sox were able to pull off a major upset in
the Division Series against the same opponent in back-to-back seasons.
In the Ozzie League's
Division Series, the (extremely) underdog Las Vegas Flamingos were
hoping for a Chicago-style upset against the (extremely) heavily-favored
Los Altos Undertakers. There would be no joy in Vegas, however, as the
Undertakers easily took the series in four games. Las Vegas only managed
to score four runs in the series, as the Los Altos pitching staff
continued their season-long dominance into the postseason.
With their trio of Cy
Young candidates, the Cleveland Rocks were hoping to see the same
results as Los Altos in their Division Series against Kansas. In a
matchup of two Cy Young candidates, Cleveland's Corey Kluber out-dueled
Dallas Keuchel in a 4-2 Rocks win in Game One. Cleveland then took the
next two games, putting Kansas' backs against the wall. The 'Dogs
managed to eke out a one-run win in Game Four to keep hope alive, but
Danny Salazar and the Rocks bullpen crushed those hopes with a
heart-breaking 2-1 win in Game Five to clinch the series.
After meeting four
times in the postseason, resulting in two wins each, bitter rivals New
Milford and Salem met for a fifth time in a postseason rubber match. New
Milford easily took the first game by a score of 6-1. Circus clowns then
shit all over the field in Game Two, continuing a season-long theme for
both teams. After coming from behind to take a 7-5 lead in the sixth
inning, the Cowtippers' bullpen coughed up seven runs -- five with two
outs -- in the seventh inning, blowing the game wide open.
Stephen Strasburg was
the least likely person to deliver a key performance in the postseason,
given his season-long struggles. Yet, that is exactly what he did in
Game Three, giving Salem their first win of the series. More
circus-related nonsense infested the fifth game of the series, as
Salem's bats collectively died after the third inning. Salem's lineup
managed just one hit over eleven innings (a two-out single by the
legendary Tuffy Gosewich.) Fittingly, the winning run scored in the 14th
inning off the bat of Steven Pearce. In the bottom of the 14th, after
the Gosewich single, Josh Harrison launched what appeared to be a
game-winning, series-tying homer. Instead, it was caught at the track.
Game Five was tied at
2-2 heading into the ninth inning. Then, Mike Fiers -- acquired solely
for the playoffs -- took the hill for Salem and proceeded to cough up
five runs in the most hilarious fashion imaginable. New Milford won the
rubber match, and a date with the Undertakers in the OLCS.
"The Blazers are
definitely the favorite to come out of the Ozzie," wrote Paulson, in his
classic jinx-busting style. "I think my team was built for the regular
season, and the Blazers are built for the postseason. When they have
their full lineup, they just crush. They didn't win more games because
of usage. But in a short series, they are definitely the team to beat. I
think this is their year."
His prediction looked
almost prophetic when the Blazers narrowly won Game One, as both team's
aces (Kershaw and Chris Sale) were pummeled. Los Altos quickly righted
the ship, however, with an easy 10-0 win in the second game. When the
series shifted to the unfriendly confines of New Milford, the
Undertakers' bats exploded. The heart of the Los Altos lineup -- Anthony
Rizzo (3-for-4, HR), Jose Bautista (2-for-5, 2 R), Michael Brantley
(4-for-5, HR, 4 RBI), and Jonathan Lucroy (3-for-5, 2 RBI) -- enjoyed a
monster day at the plate against Kyle Lohse and the New Milford bullpen.
Game Four was another
matchup between Sale and Kershaw. This time, the history-making Sale
showed up. Through five-plus innings, he allowed just one run, despite
four walks. Kershaw, once again, was beat up by the relentless
Undertakers offense, resulting in a 5-1 Los Altos win. Michael Pineda
then sealed the deal for the Undertakers in Game Five, tossing six
shutout innings. The bullpen trio of Ken Giles, Sean Doolittle, and
Aaron Sanchez then made short work of New Milford, sending the
Undertakers to the BDBL World Series for the third time.
continued to carry the Black Sox on his back, winning Game One of the
ELCS with seven strong innings of work. A two-out RBI double by David
Ortiz in the eighth inning was the deciding blow in that 4-3 Chicago
win. Cleveland's Jake Arrieta outdueled Bumgarner in Game Two, tossing
six innings in a combined shutout.
The Black Sox fell
behind early in Game Three, by a score of 4-0, but battled back to make
it a 4-3 game heading into the bottom of the ninthlf. John Gill's
mid-summer acquisition, Miguel Cabrera, then stepped to the plate with
two outs and two runners on base and hit a walk-off two-run double.
After nine innings of
play in Game Four, the score was tied at 2-2. Chicago's closer, Tom
Wilhelmsen, went to the hill for the second inning in a row, and was
greeted with a leadoff home run by Grady Sizemore. That lead held, as
Mark Melancon retired the side in order in the bottom of the tenth,
tying the series at two games apiece.
Game Five presented
yet another opportunity for Zimmerman to shine, and he didn't
disappoint. He allowed just two runs in eight innings to earn his second
win of the series, and fourth of the postseason, while a grand slam by
Yasmani Grandal gave him all the run support he would need. Chicago
jumped all over spot starter Alfredo Despaigne in Game Six, scoring
three in the first inning and three more in the third en route to a
convincing 9-4 win. For the third time in history, the Black Sox were
heading to the World Series.
For Chicago, the World
Series began just as the Division Series and League Championship Series
began: with a Jordan Zimmerman win. Zimmerman's fifth win of the
postseason was earned through seven innings, in which he allowed just
one run to the potent Los Altos offense. The Undertakers bounced back in
Game Two with a 5-0 shutout, thanks to the pitching of Colin McHugh and
the relentless Los Altos bullpen.
Bumgarner and four
different Chicago relievers held Los Altos to just two runs in Game
Three, and the Black Sox took the improbable series lead once again.
They then took a 4-0 lead in Game Four, and held on to a 4-3 lead
heading into the eighth inning, before the wheels fell off the bus. Two
walks, a single, an RBI double by Scooter Gennett, and a three-run blast
by pinch hitter Kennys Vargas, gave Los Altos the lead, and eventually
Zimmerman turned in
yet another strong performance in Game Five, but was matched by Los
Altos starter Michael Pineda. The score remained tied after nine,
forcing extra innings. The Undertakers plated a run in the top of the
tenth on back-to-back singles by Jose Bautista and Michael Brantley. Ken
Giles then slammed the door by retiring the side in order in his second
inning of work.
Game Six was do-or-die
time for Chicago. With the score knotted at 1-1 in the top of the ninth,
Chicago scored the go-ahead run on a clutch two-out RBI single by David
Ortiz. Starter Jeff Samardzija was sent back to the mound to close out
the complete game in the bottom of the frame. After striking out the
leadoff hitter, little Adam Rosales stepped to the plate and cracked an
improbable game-tying home run. That sent the game into extra innings --
only the second time in league history a BDBL World Series included more
than one extra-innings game.
After a scoreless
tenth inning, series MVP Ken Giles got the job done for the second game
in a row, retiring the top of Chicago's lineup -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Kole
Calhoun, and Miguel Cabrera -- in order. Black Sox reliever Blaine Hardy
then retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the
eleventh. Bautista and Brantley reached base on a walk and a single, and
Lucroy then stepped to the plate with the chance to be the hero. He did
just that, serving up a walk-off single to plate Bautista from second
For the second time in
league history, the Los Altos Undertakers were crowned league champions.
I want to thank you all for another
entertaining and thrilling season. I especially want to thank this
league's real commissioner, Greg Newgard, for all of the time-consuming
and tedious work he does for this league every year, from running our
auction to tracking our VORP to organizing our ballparks. Many thanks to
Tom DiStefano for running our mid-season drafts and keeping track of all
of our contracts, Anthony Peburn for policing our usage, and Tony Chamra
for creating our schedule. And, as usual, I'd like to thank Jim Doyle
for providing comic relief through his trading and managing.
As I was vacationing in Mexico, I
received the word from Wyoming that both Tom DiStefano AND Gene
Patterson were resigning from the league. Needless to say, this is a
significant loss to the league in many ways. Both Tom and Gene have been
knowledgeable and (needless to say) competitive owners since coming into
the league. They have not only been reliable in terms of meeting every
deadline, but both have helped me a great deal over the years from an
administrative standpoint. I cannot thank you both enough for everything
you have contributed to this league, and I wish you the best of luck.
Although I'm disappointed that I will never get my revenge on Tom for
four World Series losses, I am elated that I will never have to worry
about facing either one of them in the postseason ever again.
I would be remiss if I ended this
review without mentioning Ed McGowan. This season began under a tragic
and completely unexpected black
cloud, and it is still difficult to process the fact that Ed is really gone.
It happened so quickly that none of us had the chance to say good-bye
and thank him for everything he meant to us as a competitor and (more
importantly) as a friend. I
recently came across an old post that Ed wrote on our forum back in
2005. He titled it, "When Life Was Simple." I'll close out this year's
review with Ed's own words:
I remember a day when I used to get up
in the morning at about 4:30am, go downstairs, grab a shower and a light
breakfast, head out the door by 5:15, get to work by 6:15, run all the
company reports, and analyze what I and my staff were going to do for the
day. I had meetings and conducted various work functions religiously up
till about 4pm, whereupon I hit the road, arrived home about 6:00, got to
spend an hour and a half with the wife and four boys over dinner before
working on getting the kids to bed, doing the dishes and sitting down
for an hour or so with the wife, and mixing in maybe fifteen minutes of
SportsCenter (trying to listen with one ear on the scores and one on
what the wife was saying about what one of the kid's teachers was
telling her today) before going to bed at about 10pm.
Of course, that all began to change on December 27, 2004. That was the
day that I got the call - I was being called up to 'the show'. Life was
about to become different.
Now my typical day still starts at about 4:30am, but then has dramatic
changes. Now I head straight to the computer (trying not to wake anyone
up) to make sure I did not miss something on the sports newswire that
would be vitally important to me. I then run through the shower, skip
breakfast entirely and run out the door by 5:45, face more traffic, and
maybe get into the office by 7:00am or later. I then rush through the
morning reports so I can do some more checking on things related to the
Confederate franchise before the office people come in at 8:30.
sprinkle in various work elements throughout the day and try to find stuff
for people to do that look to me for guidance around my checking the BDBL
boards and baseball news for relevant news. I usually don't leave
the office until about 4:30pm (unless I am playing someone, then I leave
early) and get home at about 6:30. The kids have usually eaten already
and I cram some food down so I can talk with the kids for a few minutes
before getting them to bed. Two nights a week now, I have agreed to
do stuff with the wife for an hour or so, but on the other nights
I head straight to the computer to work on the franchise until the wife
has reached a decibel level at least double that of her first "Go to bed"
announcement, and usually crawl into bed by 11:00pm.
I used to think about purchasing attack plans for certain vendor
meetings and now I am freaking out about Smoltz's horrid start. I used
to spend time working on developing key employees by listening to
their personal life stories and now I look at the them dumbly
because I did not hear what they just said because I was wondering
for the eighth time today why I make that stupid trade for Manny
when he is already 0-for-8 with four strikeouts and Aramis is torching the ball. I used to take the time to
fix the owner's computer when he went to the wrong web site again (and
downloaded the latest driveby malware, spyware and idiotuserware
bandwidth-choking thing that only he can find) and now I flip him the
old "just restart it and it should be fine" remark because I am trying
to figure out what I am going to do next year if Roberts comes back
badly from his injury, Mauer's luck holds and he is injured for life
when his lower legs simply fall off at the knees as he tries to beat out
a routine grounder to the pitcher, and a myriad of other concerns.
But of course last night was Opening Day for the Angels and my wife had
a meeting with one of her groups. Long story short, she came in at 8:45
and as I was updating her on the how great Vlad and Colon were looking,
she discovered that the kids were still playing upstairs an hour past
their bedtime and well...lets just say I lost valuable research time in
the ensuing onslaught.