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Big Daddy Baseball League

O F F I C I A L   S I T E   O F   T H E   B I G   D A D D Y   B A S E B A L L   L E A G U E
slant.gif (102 bytes) From the Desk of the Commish


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December, 2016

2016: The Year in Review

Anyone who plays fantasy sports dreams of having the perfect season. What is a perfect season? Well, it goes without saying that you can't have a perfect season without winning the league championship. A perfect season would also include something to establish the team's legacy by setting league records that will stand the test of time. If people are still referring to your team as the "greatest ever" a decade from now, then it's fair to say that you've had a perfect season. By any measurement, Jeff Paulson has just experienced a perfect season.

The 2016 Los Altos Undertakers won their twelfth division title in eighteen seasons, extending their own BDBL record. They won the league championship for the second year in a row and third time overall. They set a new BDBL record with 128 wins, which is a record that is very unlikely to ever be broken. They outscored their competition by 437 runs, breaking yet another long-held BDBL record. They went 12-3 in the playoffs, and outscored their playoffs opponents 69-45. In total, the 2016 Los Altos Undertakers won a mind-numbing 140 games. That, my friends, is total dominance.

As if that weren't enough, the Undertakers also demolished another long-held and highly-coveted all-time BDBL record. On July 3rd, Los Altos defeated the New York Giants by one run. That win put them ahead of the Salem Cowtippers on the all-time wins list. Salem had held the top spot in the all-time wins ranking for ten straight years, but now trail the Undertakers by a whopping 38 games. It may take another decade for anyone to catch up to Los Altos.

For the second time in league history, the Los Altos starting rotation included three 20-game winners: Chris Sale (24-5, 3.23 ERA in 223 IP, 320 K), Gerrit Cole (21-7, 2.90 in 220+, 203 K), and Chris Archer (21-4, 2.39 in 229+, 289 K). As usual, the Los Altos bullpen was jam-packed with an endless array of closers. Offensively, winter free agent signing Michael Brantley (.355/.423/.563, 62 doubles, 130.6 RC) won the OL batting title and led the team in runs created. Considered to be a health risk at the time of his signing, Brantley helped his team by logging just 43 plate appearances in MLB '16, which will allow the team to release him this winter without penalty. Brantley was surrounded in the lineup by plenty of high-caliber bats including Justin Turner (.343/.413/.631, 28 HR), Stephen Vogt (.297/.363/.492), Jason Heyward (.290/.360/.450), Jose Bautista (.271/.374/.592, 41 HR), Anthony Rizzo (.261/.361/.505, 31 HR), and Nolan Arenado (.253/.288/.516, 42 HR, 116 RBI's.)

The Undertakers were the overwhelming favorites to win the Ozzie League title, and they wasted no time establishing their dominance this season. They went 21-7 in the first chapter, and by the end of two chapters had opened up a 14-game lead in their division. Their momentum only accelerated as the season progressed. They posted a .788 winning percentage in the first half of the season and .813 in the second half. And they accomplished this without making a single trade after Chapter One.

"Arrieta and Keuchel alone would make any team a top world series contender...add one of the best bullpens in BDBL history, a very good lineup and a strong 3/4 SPs and WOW. I'd put our odds around 15 or 20%. Hope to at least make it exciting enough for it to be really fun for both of us. I'm going to manage like an absolute lunatic."

-- Bobby Sylvester, November 6

The 2016 St. Louis Apostles were an underwhelming division champion. They limped into the postseason having played .500 ball in the second half of the season. Their place at the table appeared to be set only because the other teams in the Person Division were so awful. Facing a Kansas Law Dogs team in the EL Division Series that had come within one win of tying the old BDBL record, the Apostles were as much of an underdog as any team in BDBL history had ever been. Yet, they managed to not only defeat the heavily-favored Law Dogs, but the 109-game-winning Great Lakes Sphinx as well. They then won more games against the Los Altos Undertakers in a postseason series than four other opponents had managed over the past two seasons.

The 2016 season began in the same way as so many other seasons in the history of the St. Louis franchise: with a buttload of trades. Bobby Sylvester made eight trades in the preseason, which included thirty-seven players. In an eight-player deal with the Salem Cowtippers, St. Louis acquired Chris Coghlan (.236/.308/.419), Luis Valbuena (.197/.306/.405), and Freddie Freeman (.240/.324/.426) -- all of whom would disappoint during the regular season, but play key roles in the postseason.

In another trade with the Southern Cal Slyme, the Apostles added Andrew McCutchen (.281/.362/.501, 32 HR, 118.3 RC). Then, in a trade made just before Opening Day, Sylvester added Jung-Ho Kang (.285/.349/.438) from the Flagstaff Outlaws in exchange for a young pitcher (Daniel Norris.)

Young Sylvester wasn't done dealing just yet. At the Chapter Two deadline, he pulled off a blockbuster ten-player deal in which he added ace Noah Syndergaard (11-5, 4.25 ERA in 137+ IP for St. Louis). At the Chapter Three deadline, he shipped another young pitcher, Jake Odorizzi, off to Ravenswood in exchange for his 2017 shortstop, Trevor Story. Then, at the final trading deadline, he added David Wright, who would only play a role in the playoffs due to his suspension from overuse.

The Apostles slugged their way to the division title. Only the Chicago Black Sox hit more home runs than St. Louis' 225. J.D. Martinez (.289/.347/.567) led the way with 44 longballs. McCutchen (32) and Yoenis Cespedes (.288/.319/.531, 30 HR) also reached the magical 30-homer mark. The team's big winter free agent signing at a salary of $13 million, Buster Posey, hit .303/.356/.446 on the season, with 17 homers and 83.4 runs created.

St. Louis went just 10-18 in the final chapter of the season. Even the Southern California Slyme, who wrapped up the season with 117 losses, managed to win more games than St. Louis in that chapter. Yet, the other teams in the division had fallen so far behind that the Apostles ended up winning their seventh division title by a comfortable nine-game margin.

"The teams with the best records in the Ozzie League are Los Altos (21-7) and New Milford (20-8). Raise your hand if you didn't see that coming. Both teams are the only teams in the Ozzie League that have outscored their competition by more than three runs. (How is that even possible?)...New Milford has outscored their competition by a whopping 60 runs, and Los Altos finishes the chapter at +54. Project those margins out to a full 160-game season, and we're looking at two teams in the same league outscoring their opponents by more than 340 runs. That has never happened in this league in seventeen years...Needless to say, an OLCS matchup between Los Altos and New Milford seems a foregone conclusion."

-- Chapter One Review, March 15

Although the Ozzie League pennant races were a foregone conclusion before the season even began, there was plenty of excitement in New Milford this season as history was made and records were shattered. When New Milford won game #100 in their final series of the season, they became the first team in history to win 100+ games five seasons in a row. In late September, when New Milford officially clinched the McGowan Division title, they became the first franchise in league history to win six division titles in a row.

On October 13th, New Milford's long-time ace Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher in BDBL history to throw a perfect game. It was the third no-hitter in which Kershaw was involved. In Chapter Six, Kershaw won his 20th game of the season. In doing so, he broke Randy Johnson's league record by winning 20+ games five seasons in a row.

With all three of the other teams in the McGowan Division taking the year off to rebuild, the 2016 season was a walk in the park for New Milford. They got off to a 20-8 start in Chapter One and never had a reason to look over their shoulders from that point on.

Little changed in New Milford in 2016. For the sixth year in a row, they led the Ozzie League in batting average on balls in play. They won 60+ games at home for the fourth time in the past five years. As usual, several Blazers hitters performed extraordinarily well compared to their MLB statistics. No one exemplified that overperformance better than Shin-Soo Choo, who hit .324/.402/.568 overall, compared to his .276/.375/.463 MLB performance. David Peralta (.335/.387/.567) bested his MLB OPS by 61 points. Mookie Betts (.310/.355/.502) topped his MLB OPS by 37 points. Matt Carpenter (.287/.390/.512) gained 25 points in OBP alone.

On the mound, Kershaw (22-8, 2.76 ERA in 251+ IP, 312 K's) dominated as always, and set a new personal record for strikeouts. 2015 acquisition Masahiro Tanaka (10-5, 2.97 in 157+) was very good in limited usage. Winter free agent signings Hisashi Iwakuma (15-4, 3.12 in 141+) and Adam Warren (10-9, 3.33 in 135+) proved to be worth every penny spent on them. And closer Francisco Rodriguez (3-2, 0.87 ERA in 62 IP, with 34 saves) had a remarkable season, allowing only 50 baserunners while whiffing 66 batters.

The New Milford Blazers won just 645 games in their first ten seasons in the BDBL. In the last eight seasons, they've won 818 games. It has been the most remarkable turnaround in league history, and there doesn't seem to be any end to this dynasty.

"The costly addition of Arrieta transformed the Law Dogs from a surefire division winner to a ridiculously over-stacked superteam. Kansas has topped 100 wins in four different seasons, with a high of 106 in 2012. I predict they will shatter that record in 2016. The new team ERA record that Los Altos broke last season could also be in jeopardy. This pitching staff has the potential of becoming the greatest the league has ever seen, and this offense is capable of scoring 750 runs. Put the two together, and you have a team that will likely run away with this division before the end of the second chapter."

-- Season Preview, January

Kansas Law Dogs GM Chris Luhning had a very busy offseason. He made nine trades over the winter, jettisoned a boatload of salary, and strengthened a starting lineup and rotation that already looked very strong on paper. High-priced sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Gonzalez were shipped away for spare parts. Adrian Gonzalez was acquired and then immediately flipped (along with several prospects) for Carlos Carrasco (17-7, 3.38 ERA in 197 IP, 230 K).

Adrian Beltre and Curtis Granderson were acquired and flipped for Clay Buchholz and Wil Myers (.325/.411/.506 in 166 AB). Buchholz was then flipped (along with Kelvin Herrera) for Jeurys Familia and Austin Jackson (who was then flipped again.) After all of that flipping, wheeling, and dealing, the Law Dogs were left with a budget of more than $30 million to spend on free agents.

The first of their purchases was Ben Zobrist, who hit .293/.374/.446 with 83.7 runs created. Four days later, Luhning outbid the Chicago Black Sox and signed Jake Arrieta to an $18 million salary. (A salary that is now owned by Chicago.) Asdrubal Cabrera (.304/.351/.532) was signed the same day for only $2 million. Arrieta (23-7, 2.31 ERA in 249 IP, 247 K) had an outstanding season. Combined with Dallas Keuchel (24-8, 2.71 in 248+) the Law Dogs owned the most dominant one-two punch in the Eck League. Carrasco and Francisco Liriano (19-6, 3.70 in 197) nearly gave Kansas an unprecedented four 20-game winners.

Offensively, Zobrist, Cabrera, and Myers were added to a lineup that was already stacked with sluggers Lorenzo Cain (.344/.399/.534, 43 doubles, 19 HR), Nelson Cruz (.344/.406/.568, 36 HR, 141 RBI's), Eric Hosmer (.328/.383/.497, 45 doubles), Christian Yelich (.309/.393/.403), and Salvador Perez (.305/.330/.496, 23 HR). Cain won the EL batting title by mere percentage points ahead of his teammate Cruz. Three different Kansas hitters reached 200 hits on the season. The Law Dogs offense led the Eck League in runs scored, hits, doubles, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

"The Sphinx have an impressive lineup, but I don't see how a team can compete on offense alone. Of course, I wrote the same thing about this team two years ago (minus the compliment of their offense), and they went out and won a wild card. So what do I know?"

-- 2016 Season Preview, January

As impressive as the Law Dogs were in 2016, they had to scratch and claw all the way to the finish line in order to capture the division title, as the surprising Great Lakes Sphinx nipped at their heels every step of the way. Great Lakes GM Scott Romonosky built a formidable offense during the winter with one key acquisition. In his first trade of the winter, he acquired Collin McHugh (along with a throw-in) from the Undertakers in exchange for Joe Panik. Three weeks later, he flipped McHugh to the Flagstaff Outlaws, along with George Springer and Jung-Ho Kang. In return, the Sphinx received the player who would carry them to the franchise's first 100-win season.

Josh Donaldson hit .330/.388/.633 on the season. He led the Sphinx in OBP, slugging, hits, doubles (46), home runs (47), runs scored (127), RBI's (133), and runs created (149.7). Other than Manny Machado (.326/.385/.526, 30 HR, 124 RC), no other Sphinx batter contributed more than 70 runs created. (And only two others contributed more than 60.)

Recent Sphinx franchise history is filled with odd pitching performances that vastly differ from expectations, and 2016 was no exception. No pitcher exemplified that tradition better than Buchholz, who posted a 3.26 ERA in MLB, but went 10-1 with a 1.67 ERA for Great Lakes and earned a spot on the all-star team. Trevor Bauer (13-6, 2.63 ERA in 178 IP) bested his MLB ERA by nearly two full runs. Nate Eovaldi (14-3, 3.18 in 164+) beat his MLB ERA by a full run. In the bullpen, Keon Kela (7-1, 1.59 in 39+), Clayton Richard (4-2, 2.08 in 47+), and Kelvin Herrera (6-3, 2.36 in 61, 22 saves) were pleasant surprises.

The Sphinx and Law Dogs battled back-and-forth throughout the entire season. Great Lakes took the early lead, going 20-8 in Chapter One to take a two-game lead over Kansas. At the end of two chapters, the two teams were tied with a record of 38-18. The Sphinx then recaptured their lead and held a two-game advantage over Kansas at the all-star break.

Romonosky and Luhning loaded up at the all-star break in preparation for the stretch run. Romonosky added starter Shelby Miller (3-4, 4.09 ERA in 92+ for Great Lakes) to his rotation, and Luhning added Brandon Crawford (.212/.270/.403) to his lineup. Neither player fulfilled his lofty expectations.

The Law Dogs picked up momentum in the second half. They went 20-4 to start the half, while Great Lakes posted a record of just 15-9. They continued that momentum into Chapter Five, going 21-7, with Great Lakes trailing close behind at 19-9. Heading into the final chapter, Kansas had opened their division lead to five games. They continued matching win-for-win in the final chapter, with Kansas edging Great Lakes, 19-18. In the end, the Law Dogs clinched their seventh division title with a remarkable 115 wins, and Great Lakes clinched their third wild card in the past six seasons, and won a franchise-record 109 games.

"If there has ever been a franchise in worse shape than the 2016 Giants, I am hard-pressed to think of it. John Duel left the Padawans franchise in better shape than the current Giants. Barack Obama will leave the US in better shape when he leaves office than Jim Doyle has left the Giants. You get the point."

-- Season Preview, January

Perhaps the most bizarre decision of 2016 took place on the very first day of the completion of our first auction lot. On that day, the New York Giants emerged with the winning bids for free agents Joey Votto (at $12.5 million) and Adam Lind ($5.5 million.) Not only were both players qualified at only the first base position, but both were locked into three-year, no-trade, "Type-H" contracts. For a team that had no prayer of competing in 2016, the decision to sign either player was a real head-scratcher. But then, we've grown accustomed to scratching our heads when it comes to the Giants.

Those two signings left the Giants with 18 open roster spots on their 35-man roster, and only $6.6 million remaining to fill those spots. At that point, they had no starting rotation, no bullpen, and no starting lineup except for Votto and Lind (who would be forced to play out of position.) Unsurprisingly, the Giants finished in third place with a record of 66-94. It marked the SEVENTEENTH year in a row that New York finished below .500, and the twelfth year that they lost at least 90 games.

As bad as the 2016 Giants were, however, they weren't the worst team in their division. The Las Vegas Flamingos limped from beginning to end and finished with a record of 59-101. In eighteen seasons, Vegas has now finished below .500 twelve times. The Mississippi Meatballs (more on them below) also finished below .500 (71-89), and were outscored by more than 100 runs. That left only one team standing in the Benes Division.

Ravenswood Infidels GM Brian Potrafka made his biggest move of the 2016 season before the 2015 World Series had ended. In a five-player trade with the Salem Cowtippers, he acquired ace starter Max Scherzer and closer Joaquim Soria. Scherzer turned in a Cy Young-worthy performance, going 18-8 with a 2.65 ERA in 251 innings. He led the Ozzie League in lowest opponents' batting average and on-base percentage, lowest hits per nine and walks per nine, and finished among the top four in ERA, strikeouts, and opponents' slugging percentage.

That one move was enough to establish Ravenswood as the clear favorite in their extremely weak division. In preseason polling, the Infidels were the unanimous selection to win their division. They wasted no time proving the pundits right. Although they went just 15-13 in the first chapter, it was enough to open up a three-game lead in the division. By the all-star break, that lead had grown to five games despite the fact that they were only playing .500 ball.

Ravenswood added no players of significance during the season, yet the Infidels greatly improved in the second half of the season. They won more games after the all-star break, and outscored their opponents by more runs, than any team in the Ozzie League aside from Los Altos. They wrapped up the season with an 18-10 Chapter Six and hoped to carry that momentum into the playoffs where they would face the formidable Undertakers.

"Just a reminder - Wil Middlebrows should be a Meatball, signed @1.1M through 2018 (hence why the Meatballs have only 100k picks)."

-- Nic Weiss, January 17

Who knew that this one accounting error would cause so much trouble?

On January 17th, former Mississippi Meatballs owner Nic Weiss mentioned that one of his players, Wil Middlebrooks, was incorrectly listed on the Cutdown Day form as being released. Nic had marked Middlebrooks as "release" on the form, although technically he should have had to pay a penalty, as Middlebrooks was still under contract.

Buried in a four-page thread for Cutdown Day commentary, Weiss mentioned that there must have been an error in his Cutdown Day form, as there was no option listed to keep Middlebrooks, but only to release or sign him. He chose to release him, although it wasn't clear whether he intended to pay the penalty to do so.

There were several opportunities to correct that error. Prior to Cutdown Day, Tony Chamra posted his annual "Cutdown Day Roster Check" thread, where Middlebrooks was mistakenly listed as an option-year-expired player. The Cutdown Day form itself includes a bottom-line summary of salary and number of players that Weiss should have noticed was off by Middlebrooks' salary. Following Cutdown Day, I updated the disk and rosters and asked all owners to double-check their rosters to ensure everything was correct. The Draft Day Central page lists each team's available cap and roster space, which every owner was asked to double-check.

Despite all of the opportunities to correct this error, it remained outstanding until January 17th. That is when the Middlebrooks issue was brought to my attention. I considered everything that had happened up to that date and, although Weiss had more than ample opportunities to correct this mistake, it was the league's mistake as well. So, reluctantly, I agreed to put Middlebrooks back on the Mississippi roster. Because the Meatballs had finished their draft, this meant that their final pick of the draft, Sam Tuiavalala, would have to be released to make room for Middlebrooks.

On January 22nd, nine minutes after the trading deadline, Bobby Sylvester of the St. Louis Apostles announced a ten-player trade with the Meatballs, which included Tuiavalala. I noted that the trade would have to be restructured, as Tuiavalala didn't belong to Mississippi. At this point, several violations of the rulebook had occurred:

  1. Mississippi drafted more players than were allowed.
  2. Mississippi spent more money than was allowed (as Middlebrooks' salary, which wasn't counted, pushed them over the cap.) This had a trickle-down effect on the bidding for Jhonny Peralta, among others.
  3. The trade wasn't announced until nine minutes after the deadline, and wasn't confirmed until several hours later.
  4. This trade violated the often-violated rule prohibiting the trading of draft picks.

There were numerous reasons why the trade could not be retroactively approved (not the least of which is that there was no precedent of doing so.) Yet, Weiss protested, insisting that the trade be allowed through the "best interest" clause of our rulebook (which doesn't exist.) "This is going to cost me an entire chapter," he claimed.

The next day, Weiss announced his resignation from the BDBL. He left behind an eight-year legacy that includes a career record of 575-649 (.470), three division titles, and a long list of controversies.

A week after his resignation, Bart Chinn was announced as the new owner of the Mississippi franchise. Even though he is a demented Socialist, he's turned out okay.

"Cleveland continues to win on the strength of their pitching and defense. Only the Undertakers and Blazers have allowed fewer runs than Cleveland this season. The question is whether pitching and defense alone will be able to maintain that cushion in the second half of the season."

-- Chapter Three Recap, June

Although the Chicago Black Sox were picked to win the division in my Season Preview, the league predicted the Cleveland Rocks would win by a tally of 9-4. In the early going, it appeared that the league knew better than I did. Cleveland jumped out to a 17-11 start in Chapter One, while the Black Sox trailed three games behind at 14-14. By the end of two chapters, Cleveland's lead over Chicago had grown to eight games. At the midway point of the season, they still maintained a comfortable five-game margin.

Cleveland GM Mike Stein went all-in during the free agent auction and wagered an $18 million bet on ace pitcher Zack Greinke. That bet paid off -- for one year, at least. Greinke went 21-9 for the Rocks, with a league-leading 2.25 ERA, and 202 strikeouts in 244+ innings. He was added to a starting rotation that already included Cy Young candidates Corey Kluber (14-11, 3.92 ERA in 225 IP, 284 K) and Jacob deGrom (13-8, 2.44 in 210, with 236 K). With Zach Britton (5-4, 1.88 in 67) and Mark Melancon (2-4, 3.18 in 65, 40 SV) heading a stacked bullpen, it seemed as though Cleveland could win a division title with their pitching alone.

Chicago Black Sox GM John Gill went in the opposite direction, adding Alex Rodriguez, Evan Longoria (.286/.343/.456), and Carlos Beltran (.309/.364/.531, 96.6 RC) to a lineup that already included reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper (.325/.426/.702), Ian Kinsler (.312/.357/.447), Andrelton Simmons (.304/.362/.399), Kyle Shwarber (.273/.359/.498), and Justin Bour (.247/.324/.514). Harper would lead the Eck League in slugging (.702), home runs (57), RBI's (144), runs scored (136), doubles (47), extra base hits (104), walks (101), and runs created (172.3).

Near the conclusion of the second chapter, the Black Sox were trailing Cleveland by five games in the division standings. That is when Gill decided to make his big move. In an eight-player trade with the Salem Cowtippers, the Black Sox acquired Kris Bryant and Ryan Madson in exchange for Rodriguez and a pair of A-list prospects (Miguel Sano and Andrew Benintendi.) Bryant hit .287/.407/.470 with 73.4 runs created over the next four chapters. Madson went 2-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 38+ innings out of the Chicago bullpen.

At around that same time, several of Chicago's struggling hitters suddenly came to life. Simmons hit .353/.409/.452 down the stretch. Harper hit .349/.445/.760. Kinsler went on a .325/.371/.456 tear. Incredibly, Harper created more runs (128.8) during his final four chapters than all but three other EL players created over the entire season!

Chicago went a division-leading 15-9 in their first chapter after the trade. They led the Hrbek Division again in Chapter Four with a 19-5 record. At the end of four chapters, Cleveland's lead had been reduced to one game. Chicago then took the lead in Chapter Five, going 15-13 while Cleveland went just 13-15.

The Rocks fought all the way to the end, and went 19-9 over their final chapter. Chicago, however, fared a smidge better at 21-7. In their final head-to-head series of the season, Cleveland took three out of four from Chicago, but in the end it wasn't enough. The Black Sox had won their seventh Hrbek Division title by a margin of three games.

After a one-year hiatus, BDBL Weekend was resurrected in 2016. A total of seven members of the BDBL gathered in Pittsburgh during the second week of July to see a pair of games between the Pirates and the eventual world champion Chicago Cubs. Making the event extra special was the attendance by BDBL Weekend rookie Mike Ranney and a surprise appearance by founding member D.J. Shepard. I'm proud to say that I have now personally met nineteen owners in the BDBL.

We all had a great time talking baseball and politics, eating a ton of unhealthy food, drinking gallons of beer, and witnessing two terrific ballgames. Earlier in the year, Ryan and I met Greg Newgard in Arizona for what has become an annual spring training tradition. We plan to do it again in 2017, and all are invited to share the experience.

"The 2016 Jamboree are clearly not going to compete for a playoffs spot, which begs the question as to why they aren't in full rebuilding mode. Fielder, Young, and Ramos are all free agents at the end of this season. Why weren't they traded this winter? Why sign two expensive Type H free agents (Braun and Murphy) when the best they will do for the franchise is cost the team a little less in penalty money at the end of the season? Finally, why use a third round draft pick (the sixth overall in that round) to add a 41-year-old pitcher whose greatest asset is filling usage? Why, why, why?"

-- Season Preview, January

Boy, is my face red. On paper, the Bear Country Jamboree didn't look like a contender. In terms of runs scored and prevented, the Jamboree shouldn't have been competitive in 2016. In reality, however, this team somehow managed to finish the regular season tied atop the OL wild card race. It was the first time since 2000 that two teams tied for the final playoffs spot.

Bear Country set a new BDBL record this season by finishing with a Pythagorean difference of +16. They won sixteen more games than expected thanks in part to a 34-21 record in one-run games. They ranked just sixth in the OL in runs scored (with only two more than the lowly New York Giants) and eighth in runs allowed.

Despite all of that, the Jamboree got off to an 18-10 start in Chapter One. They fell to 12-16 in Chapter Two, and rebounded in Chapter Three, to carry a three-game lead in the wild card race into the all-star break.

Meanwhile, the Flagstaff Outlaws stumbled out of the gate, and went 12-16 in both Chapters One and Two. They turned it all around in Chapter Three, going 19-5, which tied the Undertakers for most wins in the chapter.

The Jamboree maintained their three game lead at the conclusion of Chapter Four. With the next-best team in the OL trailing nine games behind the Outlaws, it was a two-team race down the stretch. Flagstaff loaded up at the final trading deadline by adding sluggers Alex Rodriguez and Chris Colabello to the lineup. Bear Country pulled off the biggest blockbuster of the season, adding both David Price and Garrett Richards to their starting rotation.

The two teams continued to jockey for position in Chapter Five. On October 20th, the Outlaws were swept in a crucial series against the Undertakers -- which earned Jeff Paulson a six-pack of beer from Matt Clemm. That put the Outlaws two games behind in the standings. The season then came down to the final series of the season: a head-to-head match between Flagstaff and Bear Country. With a one-game lead, the Jamboree merely needed a split in order to earn the wild card.

Flagstaff managed to win the first three games, defeating both of Bear Country's newly-acquired aces. One more win for the Outlaws, and they would win the wild card outright. Game Four was tied at a score of 2-2 heading into the sixth inning. Bear Country ace Matt Harvey then stepped to the plate and crushed a pitch from Alex Wood to put his team on top, 3-2. The Jamboree managed to hold on to that lead and won by a score of 5-4, forcing a one-game playoff to determine the wild card winner.

Game #161 of the season was a match between Harvey and Lackey. The lead changed hands several times throughout the game. Flagstaff went into the ninth inning with a 9-6 lead and handed the ball to their closer, Luke Gregerson, to slam the door. Instead, Bear Country's offense made some noise with an infield single, a double by Brian Dozier, and a base hit by Daniel Murphy. Dioner Navarro then stepped to the plate with two outs and the tying run in scoring position. He sent a long fly ball down the left field line that ended up in the glove of left fielder Ben Paulson. The Flagstaff Outlaws were heading to the postseason.

"We seem to have entered an era of the never-ending dynasty. Los Altos is now the number-one ranked team in the playoffs two years in a row, and are making their sixth playoffs appearance in the last eight seasons. The New Milford Blazers have now been in the postseason mix in seven of the past eight seasons. The Kansas Law Dogs have played November baseball in six of the past eight seasons. And this is the fourth appearance by the Chicago Black Sox in the past five years...Anything can happen in the Tournament of Randomness, but it will take an upset of historical proportions to avoid a repeat of 2015."

-- Playoffs Preview, November

There was no bigger mismatch in the postseason this year than the EL Division Series matchup between the Kansas Law Dogs and St. Louis Apostles. The Law Dogs won 115 games and outscored their opponents by 343 runs. St. Louis won just 82 games and outscored their opponents by only 31 runs. No one expected the Apostles to put up much of a fight, and yet they managed to pull off one of the greatest upsets in league history.

After losing Game One, St. Louis managed to tie the series with a 4-2 win in Game Two which was highlighted by three shutout innings from the Apostles bullpen. St. Louis then took the lead in Game Three, winning by a score of 7-6 despite the fact that their starting pitcher, Carlos Rodon, was blasted for six runs on eleven hits in just three innings. Once again, the St. Louis bullpen stepped up with six shutout innings, and Mychal Givens (who was hardly used during the regular season) earned his second win of the series.

Kansas tied the series with a 3-1 win in Game Four, and then took the lead with a 3-0 shutout in Game Five. With his back against the wall, St. Louis manager Bobby Sylvester employed his trademark unconventional managerial style in Game Six, pulling starter Carlos Martinez out of the game after only one inning. EIGHT different pitchers -- including three starters -- allowed just two runs to score over the final eight innings, and the Apostles managed to force a Game Seven.

Sylvester flipped the script once again, sending Martinez to the hill for the second game in a row. He responded with four innings of shutout pitching. The parade of relievers then began. St. Louis carried a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning, and then expanded that lead by scoring two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth. The vaunted Kansas offense managed to score only one run in the ninth. Givens walked away with his third win of the series, and the Apostles wriggled away with the upset victory.

On the other side of the Eck League, two Chicago-area teams faced off. The Great Lakes Sphinx won a franchise-record 109 games, but had to settle for the wild card thanks to Kansas' phenomenal season. They faced a Chicago Black Sox squad that carried the momentum of a 21-7 final chapter into the postseason.

With the series tied at two wins apiece, Chicago handed the ball to their ace, Madison Bumgarner, in Game Five. He allowed two runs in a complete-game five-hit effort, but it wasn't good enough. Trevor Bauer and three Great Lakes relievers combined to hold Chicago to just one unearned run. After that pitcher's duel, Game Six was a slugfest. Chicago scored eight runs on three home runs, but again, it wasn't enough. Great Lakes managed ten runs on three homers, and stifled a ninth inning Chicago rally, sending the Sphinx to the EL Championship Series for the second time in franchise history.

After winning 128 games during the regular season, the Los Altos Undertakers were expected to cruise into the World Series with little effort. Their OLDS opponents, however, made them sweat a little. Ravenswood tied the series with a narrow 2-1 victory in Game Two. Los Altos recaptured the lead with another one-run win (5-4) in Game Three. The Infidels managed to score only two runs the rest of the series, as the Los Altos pitching staff shut them down. In the end, the Undertakers cruised to victory in five games.

The New Milford Blazers cruised to their victory as well, sweeping all four games of their Division Series against the Flagstaff Outlaws. New Milford's relentless offense completely overwhelmed Flagstaff's pitching. The Blazers scored a whopping 37 runs in the four games -- an average of more than nine per game. That set the stage for their inevitable matchup against the Undertakers in the OLCS.

It was the second year in a row these two teams faced each other in the OLCS, and the third time in the past six seasons. Los Altos won all three series, and the result of this one would be more of the same. In an anticlimactic slaughter, the Undertakers took all four games in relatively easy fashion. New Milford's offense, which had made mincemeat of the Outlaws in the previous series, were rendered impotent by the legendary Los Altos pitching staff. The Blazers hit just .209/.279/.276 in those four games, scored just six runs, and hit only one home run. For the fourth time in league history, the Undertakers headed to the BDBL World Series.

After their underdog victory in the ELDS, the Apostles were expected to face another tough battle against the Sphinx. Instead, they managed to topple another highly-favored opponent with ease. Once again, Bobby Sylvester used his bullpen to its maximum benefit. Game One starter Noah Syndergaard was pulled after only five innings, and the Apostles bullpen tossed four shutout innings en route to a 4-2 win.

In Game Two, St. Louis starter Taylor Jungmann was pulled with one out in the fourth inning. Again, the St. Louis bullpen stepped up and didn't allow a run the rest of the way. The Apostles cruised to an easy 8-2 win. Carlos Martinez was allowed to stretch it out to six innings in Game Three. This time, the Apostles bullpen blew the lead, but their offense then regained it in the bottom half of the eighth, and St. Louis won by a 5-3 score. They then capped the series with a 7-4 win in Game Four, which set for them the impossible task of defeating yet another highly-favored opponent.

Sylvester continued to employ his unorthodox strategy in the World Series by pulling his starter, Martinez, after only two innings in Game One. A team of seven relievers held the Undertakers to just two runs the rest of the way. St Louis scored seven runs in the top of the ninth to turn the game into a laugher.

The Apostles managed to carry a 4-4 tie into the ninth inning of Game Two, but Aroldis Chapman gave up a walk-off home run to Josh Phegley, which tied the series. The Sylvester Strategy then came into play once again in Game Three, as Jungmann was pulled with two outs in the third inning. Five St. Louis relievers allowed one run the rest of the way, and the Apostles managed to tie the series once again with a 5-1 victory.

Chris Archer and the Los Altos bullpen shut down the St. Louis attack in Game Four, and the series was tied once again after an easy 4-0 win. The slumbering Los Altos offense finally awoke in Game Five, as they scored a dozen runs on a dozen hits. Their 12-5 win put them one win away from the championship. Sylvester then tried his trick one last time in Game Six, yanking Jungmann with two outs in the second inning, and handing the ball to Chapman. This time, it backfired. Chapman allowed four runs to score, putting the game out of reach. Los Altos walked away with the win and the trophy.

For Jeff Paulson, it is his third BDBL trophy, and second in a row. Paul Marazita and Tom DiStefano are the only other owners in BDBL history to win more than two BDBL championships. One more, and Paulson will be tied with Marazita in that category. Two more, and he will tie DiStefano.


As always, I'd like to thank the BDBL's true commissioner, Greg Newgard, for all the time and effort he puts into this league. I'd also like to thank Tony Chamra for the work that he does with our schedule and tracking our contracts. Thanks to Anthony Peabrain for owning the most despicable task in the league: usage. Thanks to Jeff Paulson for coordinating our in-season drafts. Many thanks to those of you who attended BDBL Weekend, and for those who contribute to the league in other ways.

It's hard to believe, but we are rapidly approaching the 20th anniversary of this league. I cannot imagine spending those twenty years with a better group of people. I wish you all a happy holiday, and may the Gods of Random Dice Rolls shine upon you in 2017.