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...
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
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.
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
-- Mike Glander,
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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
Mahtook hit just .263/.310/.483 against left-handers. This is
why it's called the Tournament of Randomness, folks.
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,
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.
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
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.
as long as I live, I will never understand how the Great
Lakes Sphinx win so many games every year without starting
-- Mike Glander, November, 2018
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
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
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,
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
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,
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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!