clearpix.gif (43 bytes)
clearpix.gif (43 bytes)
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


clearpix.gif (43 bytes)

December, 2018

2018: The Year in Review

So...let me get this straight. Two years ago, Jim Doyle quit the league after seventeen years in the BDBL because Bobby Sylvester accepted his trade offer before confessing that he was only joking.

A year later, Anthony Peburn walked away from the league after (roughly) thirteen years in the BDBL because he grew tired of watching his team lose the OL Championship Series.

Doyle then took over Peburn's franchise, finished above .500 and won a spot in the playoffs for the first time in his career, managed that franchise all the way to the OL Championship Series...and broke the Peburn Curse. He then advanced to the BDBL World Series, where he faced...

...Bobby Sylvester.

Folks, if you ever doubted that our seasons are actually scripted well in advance by Tom Tippett or whoever the hell is in charge of Diamond Mind Baseball these days, let this season's script stand as incontrovertible proof that we merely fool ourselves into believing that we have some semblance of control over our own destinies. We are nothing more than puppets in the Baseball Gods' grand puppet show.

"For the first time in several years, I truly don't know who will win the championship. There is no clear favorite. There are no superteams. Several divisions appear to be tightly-contested. This could very well be the most competitive, exciting, and unpredictable season in BDBL history!"

-- Mike Glander, February, 2018

We celebrated our 20th season in 2018. I can't think of a more poetic way to celebrate our league's longevity than to award our trophy to the man who was only twelve years old when this league began, and who was just thirteen when he took over his current franchise. Congratulations to Bobby Sylvester for his long-overdue first (of likely many) BDBL championships!

After three straight years of watching Jeff Paulson make a mockery of our league, 2018 presented us with a short break from the Los Altos dynasty. For only the second time in BDBL history (think about that), the BDBL postseason did not include either the Undertakers or the Salem Cowtippers. Instead, we watched as the St. Louis Apostles did something that no other team has ever done in our 20-year history by going a perfect 12-0 in the postseason, sweeping all three playoff series.

Bobby's accomplishment was the culmination of a six-year period in which he stockpiled so much talent on his farm club that his team ranked among the top three in our annual Farm Report six years in a row. Oddly enough, only one player cultivated from that farm club (Anthony Rendon) made a significant contribution to this 2018 championship team. All of the others were sacrificed in a dizzying series of trades made by Sylvester throughout the past six years. Miguel Sano, Francisco Lindor, David Dahl, Jose Abreu, Nomar Mazara, Lucas Giolito, Nick Castellanos, Clint Frazier, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Bauer, Jose Berrios, Yoan Moncada, Gleyber Torres, and Sean Manaea were all sacrificed through the years with the end-goal of forming this championship ballclub.

St. Louis busted out of the gate with the best record (22-6) in the BDBL in our first chapter of play. But they then went into a tailspin, going 12-16 in Chapter Two. They had built up enough of a lead, however, that by the all-star break, they owned a comfortable 14-game lead and the second-best record in the Eck League.

The Apostles managed to win 90 games and the division title despite the fact that their ace, Jacob deGrom, went just 14-10 with a whopping 5.12 ERA. Kevin Gausman started 25 games and posted a 7.01 ERA. Rich Hill and Carlos Rodon started 28 and 13 games, respectively, and each posted an identical 4.60 ERA. St. Louis succeeded thanks to their powerful offense and stifling bullpen -- which proved to be a winning formula in the postseason.

Five different Apostles batters hit over 20 home runs, including J.D. Martinez (43), Brian Dozier (35), Yasiel Puig (33), Yonder Alonso (23), and Anthony Rendon (21). Late-season pickup Lucas Duda added 15 homers in just 45 games. Overall, St. Louis hit 268 longballs -- second only to Great Lakes in the EL.

St. Louis swept a heavily-favored Buckingham Sovereigns team in the Division Series by pounding them into submission. They won all four games by a margin of six runs or more, scored double-digit runs in three of those games, and outscored the Sovereigns by an unbelievable tally of 40-9.

Next up were the Great Lakes Sphinx, who were the Cinderella story of 2018. The Sphinx had defeated the #1-seeded Charlotte Mustangs in the Division Series in seven games, but were no match for the Apostles. Once again, the St. Louis offense was relentless. They scored a BDBL postseason record 26 runs in Game Two, and then completed the sweep with a 15-2 laugher in Game Four.

In the BDBL World Series, St. Louis' pitching took center stage. With Joplin owning a pair of aces in Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, and a dominant bullpen led by Craig Kimbrel, they were supposed to hold the advantage on the mound. Instead, the Apostles held Joplin to just one run over the first three games before closing out their third straight sweep with a 15-7 laugher. In the end, Bobby Sylvester's road to his first championship seemed all too easy.

"Mr. Peburn, you can have a pair of free tickets right behind home plate when the first world series game is held at at the Mine. Hope you keep your calendar free in 2018."

-- Jim Doyle, April, 2018

Perhaps the most anticipated story of 2018 was the return of Jim Doyle to the BDBL. For seventeen consecutive years, Doyle had failed to steer any one of his teams to a .500 record. After a one-year hiatus, he returned to take over perhaps the most successful franchise in league history. Could the league's most notorious loser finally taste success at the helm of the league's most notorious winner? As it turned out, the answer was a resounding yes.

Famous for his unconventional GM and managerial style, Doyle did not disappoint in that regard. He began the off-season with arguably the best trade he has ever made, dealing two prospects (including #12-ranked prospect Michael Kopech) to the Ravenswood Infidels in exchange for Justin Verlander. Verlander paired with franchise mainstay Clayton Kershaw to give Doyle's Joplin Miners a pair of aces atop their rotation.

Doyle's first GM gaffe appeared to take place during the very first day of the auction when he spent a whopping $10.5 million on Charlie Blackmon. Ordinarily, Blackmon would have been worthy of such an expensive contract, but given that Doyle had just changed his home ballpark model to the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park in San Francisco, it was widely presumed that Blackmon (who played in the league's most hitter-friendly MLB park) would suffer greatly as a result. Instead, he hit six more home runs (43) in the BDBL than he did in MLB, and posted an MVP-caliber batting line of .314/.381/.578 with a league-leading 147.7 runs created.

Doyle spent another $5 million in that same auction lot on starter Cole Hamels, and then spent another $4 million the following day on catcher Kurt Suzuki. Despite the fact that Suzuki was a very good catcher, and despite the fact that the Miners desperately needed the quality innings Hamels provided, Hamels was traded in the middle of the auction in exchange for free-agent-to-be Buster Posey. This seemingly unnecessary move also worked out in Doyle's favor. Posey hit .347/.398/.486 for the Miners, with 42 doubles and 100.8 runs created.

Despite their many advantages, Joplin struggled to maintain their division lead early in the season. Heading into the all-star break, they were tied with the Salem Cowtippers atop the McGowan Division. They were playing eight games below their Pythagorean record thanks to a sub-.500 record in one-run games. For a while, it looked as though the Joplin franchise's streak of seven consecutive division titles might be in jeopardy. Then Chapter Five came along. Salem went just 15-13 while Joplin led the league with a 22-6 record. In the end, the Joplin franchise won their BDBL-record eighth straight division title by a comfortable six-game margin.

Four of the five games played in Joplin's OL Division Series against the Kansas City Boulevards were decided by two or fewer runs. The Miners emerged victorious thanks in large part to their bullpen, which held the powerful KC offense in check throughout the series. The Joplin franchise then headed into the OL Championship Series for the eighth time in ten years.

Facing the heavily-favored Flagstaff Outlaws, the Miners lost three of the first four games. Then, one game away from elimination, Joplin's pitching suddenly kicked it into a higher gear than anyone knew they had. The powerful Outlaws offense was held to just two runs over the final three games. Unbelievably, Jim Doyle was heading to the BDBL World Series.

"I wasn't counting on a championship, but I knew a ticket to the World Series was my destiny, almost a foregone conclusion, but that's why we play these damn things. This was a nearly three year trip to get to this point. Watching and waiting the whole 2017 watching the core of this team develop and then a superb offseason, it's hard to sit here and know I don't have a chance for that final series...I love this game and I love this league. But this is an absolute gut punch and it's going to take awhile to get off the mat. But I will. I will."

-- Greg Newgard, November, 2018

From the middle of our 2017 season, it seemed as though the stars had aligned for the Flagstaff Outlaws to become 2018's Team of Destiny. Aaron Judge, who was acquired for peanuts the winter before, blossomed into the Surprise of the Decade in his rookie MLB season, posting MVP-caliber numbers out of nowhere. Travis Shaw (another gift from Salem) also delivered a surprising season. Franchise mainstays Paul Goldschmidt and George Springer continued to deliver consistent excellence. Zack Greinke bounced back to have a Cy Young-caliber year, and was then joined by another Cy Young candidate when Newgard traded for Chris Sale in the preseason. Closer Blake Parker (yet another gift from Salem) was also added that winter, also for peanuts.

The regular season was an exercise in futility for the rest of the Griffin Division. The Outlaws burst out of the gate with a 21-7 record in Chapter One, and then followed that up with another 20-win chapter. By the all-star break, the division race was all but over. Flagstaff led the second-place Kansas City Boulevards by a dozen games and led the entire BDBL in wins (57) and runs differential (123).

Flagstaff won a franchise-best 115 games -- 14 more than the next-highest total in the BDBL. No other team in history has won 14 more games than any other team in the league. They led the entire BDBL in fewest runs allowed, runs differential, on-base percentage, walks, OPS against right-handed pitching, ERA, saves, strikeouts, fewest hits allowed, lowest OPS allowed, lowest batting average on balls in play, quality starts, lowest percentage of inherited runners scored, fielding percentage, wins at home, wins on the road, wins against right-handed pitching, wins when leading or tied after seven innings, one-run wins, and extra-inning wins.

Yet, in the end, it wasn't enough. Only one win away from advancing to the World Series, Flagstaff's bats went ice cold. They were shut out in Game Five, scored one run in Game Six, and then one run in Game Seven. They lost by a score of 2-1 in Game Seven when Mikie Mahtook -- inexplicably batting cleanup in the Joplin lineup -- drove in a pair of runs with a double off of Chris Sale. In MLB 2017, Mahtook hit just .263/.310/.483 against left-handers. This is why it's called the Tournament of Randomness, folks.

"On the backs of Corey Dickerson, Jose Altuve and many others, the Mustangs pulled off the improbable and took 7 of their last 8 games (3-1 vs Akron and 4-0 vs So Cal) to finish at 101-59 and edge Buckingham for the EL top seed."

-- Tony Chamra, October, 2018

Tony Chamra's Charlotte Mustangs came into the winter auction with over $30 million to spend. Chamra spent nearly three-quarters of that money on just two players: Jose Altuve and Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, hitting just .248/.355/.408 with 88.7 runs created. Altuve (.360/.418/.562, 148 RC), however, was worth every penny. The biggest surprise of the season was Corey Dickerson (.353/.393/.620, 60 2B, 143.9 RC), who posted MVP-caliber numbers. Altuve, Dickerson, and Alex Bregman (.304/.380/.482, 104.1 RC) accounted for over 40-percent of the team's total runs created.

During Chamra's first tour with the BDBL from 2001-2012, he managed to surpass the .500 mark only twice. His career-best wins record of 101 in 2006 happened to coincide with his first and only BDBL championship. Chamra managed to match that career-best wins total in 2018 in only his third season at the helm of the Charlotte Mustangs (nee Atlanta Fire Ants.)

In the Playoffs Preview, I mentioned that Charlotte had dominated the Great Lakes Sphinx during the regular season, winning eight of their twelve games and outscoring them 85-53. I also mentioned that the Mustangs led the entire BDBL in OPS against left-handed pitching. I also mentioned that Charlotte owned the best home-field record in the Eck League. Wouldn't you know it? Charlotte lost the EL Division Series despite all three of those advantages!

In fact, Charlotte faced a left-handed starter (C.C. Sabathia) in the seventh and final game of that series -- at home -- and lost. Sabathia shut out the Charlotte offense for three innings before handing the ball to the bullpen. Charlotte's starter, the EL's ERA leader Michael Fulmer, was pounded for four runs in four innings. A three-run triple by Josh Reddick off of Fulmer in the top of the fourth inning sealed the fate of the Mustangs. Great Lakes tacked on five unnecessary runs in the fifth and won Game Seven by a comfortable margin of 11-2.

"For as long as I live, I will never understand how the Great Lakes Sphinx win so many games every year without starting pitching."

-- Mike Glander, November, 2018

Six different pitchers started at least 24 games for the Sphinx in 2018. Their ERA's ranged from a low of 4.24 (Brad Peacock) to a high of 6.44 (James Shields.) Two pitchers finished with ERA's over 5.00 and two finished with ERA's over 6.00. Yet somehow, the Sphinx managed to win 88 games and the EL wildcard. For GM Scott Romonosky, it was his fifth trip to the BDBL postseason in eight years. After nine straight years of finishing the regular season with 89 or more losses, Romonosky has seemingly discovered the secret formula of Diamond Mind Baseball.

The story of the Sphinx's success in 2018 can be summarized in two words: Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton enjoyed one of the most productive seasons in BDBL history in 2018. He hit .290/.366/.678 overall, with a whopping 73 home runs (the second-highest total of all-time), 136 runs scored, 148 RBI's, and 151.9 runs created. He, Josh Donaldson (.293/.381/.633, 45 HR, 113.1 RC), Hanley Ramirez (.290/.349/.565, 36 HR, 92.7 RC), and Manny Machado (.270/.328/.463, 83.7 RC) carried the Sphinx offense. Great Lakes hit 274 home runs, which is the eighth-highest total of all-time.

After upsetting the Mustangs in the ELDS, the Sphinx advanced to the Championship Series for only the third time in franchise history. And for the second time in franchise history, they were swept in the ELCS by the St. Louis Apostles.

"Raise your hand if you saw the Las Vegas Flamingos running away with the Benes Division this year. Since only three of you voted for Vegas to win this division, the rest of you can lower your hands."

-- Mike Glander, April, 2018

For what seems like the 20th year in a row, the Benes Division race felt like a race that no one wanted to win. In preseason polling, all four teams in the division received at least two votes. The "winner" of that poll was the Myrtle Beach Hitmen, who were favored to achieve something their former owner could not: finish above .500 and win a division title. In the end, they achieved neither. Instead, they lost 100 games and finished in last place for the ninth time in franchise history. Thanks to a league vote, the Hitmen will not have to worry about winning the Benes Division ever again. They will now have to contend with the Hrbek Division.

The Benes Division's defending champions, the Ravenswood Infidels, packed it in early. By the end of two chapters, they trailed the division leaders by eleven games and sported the worst record in the BDBL. That left only two teams to battle it out for first place. For the first chapter, at least, it looked as though the Las Vegas Flamingos would shock the world. They began the season with a 17-11 record in Chapter One -- five games better than any other team in the division.

It didn't take long for that bandwagon to go off the rails. One chapter later, the South Loop Furies were sitting in first place, ahead by three games. The two teams would switch places a few times over the next four chapters, but in the end, South Loop emerged with the division title despite the acquisition of Joey Votto by Vegas GM John Bochicchio.

South Loop were no match for the Outlaws in the Division Series. They won just one game, and were eliminated with a 2-0 shutout in Game Five.

"What a ride this season has been! We were cautiously optimistic this season, happy with the offense and hoping the pitching could be serviceable. Once we got out to the lead in Chapter One, just had to bring in reinforcements. Upton and Bruce provided a huge offensive boost, and Rosenthal on the back end solved our biggest weakness. Now, onto the playoffs!"

-- Tony Badger, September, 2018

Tony Badger took over Phil Geisel's old franchise way back in the middle of the 2004 season and played seven full seasons as the owner of that franchise. In those seven seasons, he managed to revive a flailing franchise by finishing above .500 in two of his first three seasons, including a 2007 wildcard win (courtesy of David Ortiz's historic season) that eventually led his team all the way to the BDBL World Series (which he lost to the Kansas Law Dogs in five games.)

After a four-year hiatus, Badger returned to the BDBL to take over his old friend Tom DiStefano's franchise. In his first season back, he led that team to a 93-win third-place finish, and then followed that up with another third-place finish in 2017. Finally, in 2018, everything seemed to fall in place. Despite preseason polling in which Buckingham didn't receive a single vote to win their division, the Sovereigns did just that. Not only did they win it, but they did so by a comfortable 12-win margin and won 100 games for the eighth time in franchise history (and first of Badger's career.)

Led by the franchise's legacy holdover, Mike Trout (131.5 RC in just 548 PA's), the Sovereigns scored the second-highest runs total in the EL. That seemed to make little difference, however, when the Tournament of Randomness began. Buckingham was held to just nine runs in the four-game Division Series against St. Louis. They hit just .194 while their pitchers were pounded for 40 runs in only 34 innings. Buckingham pitchers walked an astounding 22 batters and yielded nine home runs. They never had a chance.

"I think I've got a two game lead for the wildcard, meaning that at minimum, I'll be having a one game playoff against Salem for the wildcard. If I win just one game of my final series against Joplin, I will have clinched a playoff spot (only to be quickly disposed of in the postseason I'm sure.)"

-- Scot Zook, October, 2018

The OL wildcard race wasn't decided until the very last days of the season. Throughout the year, the Kansas City Boulevards battled neck-and-neck with the Salem Cowtippers and Bear Country Jamboree. All three teams finished with 90 or more wins. In the end, the Boulevards won a spot in the BDBL postseason by a slim margin of just two games. It was the first postseason appearance for this franchise since John Duel owned it, and the first postseason appearance by Scot Zook since 2002.

Kansas City's route to the postseason was far more challenging than most others, given that all four teams in the Griffin Division finished above .500 -- the first time that has ever happened in our 20-year history. Kansas City went just 19-29 in divisional play while playing .679 baseball against all other opponents.

With their well-balanced offensive and defensive attack and series advantage during the regular season, the Boulevards were favored on this page to beat the Joplin Miners in the OL Division Series. Instead, Joplin jumped out to a three-games-to-none lead in the series and won the series in five games thanks to a seven-run rally in the second inning of Game Five.

"His sister called me with the news. Apparently, he loved the BDBL and he drove her crazy with his constant talk about the league and his 'brothers'. She also said that he had really wanted to come to Minnesota this year to meet as many of us as he could. I suppose God had other plans."

-- Scot Zook, June 15, 2018

From the moment Rodney Wilkie joined the BDBL in April of 2015, he seemed to blend in with our BDBL family in a way that few others have. He had great enthusiasm and passion for the game, and portrayed a humble sportsmanship during head-to-head match-ups. He embraced his self-appointed role as our "Birthday Czar" and never failed to wish us each a happy birthday along with fun factoids about our dates of birth.

On June 15th, we received the shocking news that Rodney passed away following a battle with cancer. The coincidental nature of Rodney's ownership of Ed McGowan's old franchise was not lost on me, nor others. For a while, I was content to just let that franchise rest. During BDBL Weekend, I lobbied the other attendees to disband the franchise completely and start over again with a brand-new franchise cobbled together from the other 23 teams.

In the end, the idea was squashed, and Shane Setnor was eventually named as the new owner of the franchise in August. He didn't last through the end of the season before commitments necessitated his early resignation. David Goddard then agreed to take over the franchise, which he has renamed the Mission Viejo Vigilantes.

The league also said goodbye to my son, Ryan, who officially resigned as owner of the Granite State Lightning franchise in June. Ryan took the reins of that floundering franchise back in 2011 and set a new record the following year by losing 120 games. He quickly turned the team around, however, and won 91 games the following season, finishing in third place. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.

The Granite State franchise was temporarily awarded to former owner Mike Ries, who was one of our original 24 owners. In his first tour with the league, Ries simply disappeared without a word. Eighteen years later, he did it again. In October, Lee Scholtz was named as the new owner of the franchise, which he has renamed the Darien Blue Wave.

Our annual BDBL Weekend gathering was held in Minneapolis in early August. A near-record ten of us took in a couple of ballgames at the brand-new Target Field. Prior to the festivities on day two, we were treated to a custom-made trivia contest by our Trivia Master Matt Clemm. I was also honored with a custom-made jersey, a Johnny Appleseed hat, and a note of thanks from the league for twenty years of fantasy baseball entertainment.

It has truly been my pleasure to serve as your humble commissioner for the past twenty years, and I hope I live long enough to write that same sentence twenty years from now. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to share this often-aggravating hobby with. And with that, it's time for my annual list of thanksgiving.

I begin by thanking our league's real commissioner, the man behind the scenes, the man who needs no introduction, the one-and-only Hoss Newgard. Without Greg's tireless efforts, I might actually have to work to maintain this league. Along those lines, Tony Chamra has also been a tremendous help this year and for many years. Thank you, Tony, for all that you do.

Many thanks to our Transactions Czar, Jeff Paulson, especially for his mind-boggling effort during our midseason draft. Thank you, also, D.J. Shepard, who has the unenviable task of being our Usage Nazi. Thanks to all who attended BDBL Weekend this year, and to those who contributed on the forum to make our league culture what it is.

Twenty seasons are now officially in the books, fellas. That's a wrap!