insurance manager Kevin Manley, from Des Plaines, Illinois, joined the
BDBL on November 27, 1998, stating, "I can't think of many more exciting
things than DRAFT DAY!" Manley's team, which he dubbed the Des
Plaines Diamond Kings, drew the 19th pick in the inaugural draft.
Although a live draft date had been set
for January 16th, the league elected to get an early head start in an effort to complete as many rounds as
possible and reduce the time required for the live draft. Picks
were announced via e-mail list, and when
Manley's turn came up, several days passed without a pick.
The league grew restless, and Commissioner Glander checked with Manley
to see what was going on. Manley explained that he was in the
midst of simulating several seasons in an effort to determine the best
possible player for his team, and a pick was imminent. Several
hours later, Manley finally made his pick: 36-year-old lefty ace David
Wells. Wells posted a respectable 12-10 record in 1999, with a
2.95 ERA in 223 innings, but his mediocre MLB season (combined with his
advanced age) would result in only
a one-year contract at the end of the season.
Eleven picks later, the draft snaked
its way back to Manley. Once again, the league was forced to wait
while Manley made his pick. Finally, he chose 27-year-old all-star
third baseman Chipper Jones (.306/.398/.521, 34 HR, 124.7 RC.)
Nearly a month (29 days) after the
draft had begun on a "voluntary" basis, less than three rounds of the
draft had been completed. And when the draft snaked its way back
to Manley with the 19th pick of the third round, the league was placed
on hold once again. Several days passed without a pick. Once
again, the league grew restless and demanded an update on Manley's
status. With the live draft just two days away, many felt the
February 1st Opening Day for the BDBL's inaugural season was in
When an e-mail from Bryan Sakolsky was
sent to the league's mailing list, Manley responded:
The last thing I want to do is get off on the wrong foot here but
enough. These emails that I'm getting are pure HORSE SHIT! I will
apologize for having a life outside of this league. Unfortunately, a
portion of that life is dedicated to my work. I work a ton of hours
paid an outrageous amount of money for my efforts. This league is
be fun and an outlet (at least for me) to get your mind off
...I certainly understand the excitement of everything that goes on
in a draft
and totally appreciate that you want to move the draft along.
However, If I
have to hear about all these league members checking the web to see
next pick was made I'm going lose my mind. Get a fricking life for
For those of you who actually have a life... or a demanding job...
I appreciate your patience.
My pick is Tom Gordon
The first phase of the live draft was
held as scheduled on the 16th, and 15 rounds were completed. Filling out
those first 15 spots on the Diamond Kings roster were Kenny Lofton
(.260/.355/.403, 91.5 RC), Bartolo Colon (11-9, 2.99 ERA in 205 IP) and
Tino Martinez (.278/.357/.447, 85.7 RC), among others.
With a week between the two phases of
the live draft, the league resumed making picks via e-mail on a
voluntary basis. And when Manley's pick came up, the draft was put
on hold once again. And once again, the league became restless and
demanded a status. The second phase of the live draft was
scheduled to take place on the afternoon of January 23rd. At 1:26
that morning, Manley wrote the following e-mail to the league:
I'm going to make this as short as I can. I was out of town for 3
attending a funeral. One of my childhood friends wife and 4yr old
were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. I just got back
late tonight and as you can imagine, it's been an unforgettable 3
Why I even thought about turning my computer on tonight... I really
explain, but I did. I thought it would be my pick or close to it...
was. I had my pick ready to go long before I got a tragic phone call
to leave town. Before I made my pick, I decided to get through all
I wish I had just gone to bed.
Once again, I'm hit with all this bullshit email (onelist &
wondering who's up... when you knew damn well who was up, when are
picking, same old thing with this guy, ya-da ya-da ya-da.
I certainly don't expect anyone to know what happened but I thought
myself perfectly clear (to the people without a life) in another
regarding this kind of email.
All I can think about is how my friend will try to put his life back
and make some sense of what happened. Maybe this just caught me at a
moment but I really don't think so. I think I know the kind of
people I want
to be associated with and this group (with the exception of a few)
certainly not that type.
I have absolutely no desire to remain in this league, not because of
tragedy or time constraints, but because of the pure ignorance and
of a few to keep their mouth closed until they know what the hell is
Mike, I apologize to you because of your tremendous efforts to run
However, I wish you luck... because the inmates are definitely
No sour grapes... just glad to be gone,
Just hours before the second live draft
was to begin, the league was down one owner after Manley's
resignation. The fate of the 1999 season appeared to hang in the
balance, as finding another date upon which 24 owners could agree to
appear for another live draft seemed impossible. However, during
the first live draft, a 33-year-old computer programmer from Vandenberg
Air Force Base agreed to attend the draft as a "backup," just in case
one of the owners failed to show. This man, Bob Sylvester, waited
around until everyone had shown up before leaving disappointed.
Within minutes of Manley's resignation,
a panic-stricken Glander e-mailed Sylvester in the wee hours of the
morning to see if he were still
interested in owning a team in the BDBL. Sylvester responded soon
thereafter, preserving the league's plans for the second live draft and
perhaps saving the league itself.
January 24, 1999
VANDENBERG, CA - Bob Sylvester, a 33-year-old computer
programmer from Southern California, has been named as the
replacement owner of the Des Plaines Diamond Kings
franchise. Sylvester has changed the name of the franchise
to the "Southern California Slyme." He will pick up where
Kevin Manley left off at today's draft, beginning with the
Sylvester has been on the BDBL waiting list for weeks,
and was the first to respond to Commissioner Glander's plea
for a backup owner for the first live draft. Sylvester took
time off from his schedule to attend the first live draft on
the off chance that a position in the league would open up.
"I have had a lot of correspondence with Mr. Sylvester,"
said BDBL Commissioner Mike Glander, "and I've always found
him to be very friendly, very cooperative and very dedicated
to the hobby of fantasy baseball. I feel he will make a fine
addition to the league. It's just a shame I didn't discover
With the core of his team already in
place, Sylvester spent the first several rounds looking toward the
future, drafting youngsters like Jeremy Giambi, Gabe Kapler, Seth
Greisinger and Jose Paniagua.
Competing in the Eck League's Higuera
Division, against the Bowling Green Spoilers, Morgan Hill Panthers and
Virginia Cavaliers, the Slyme were labeled as the frontrunners to win
the Eck League title in the 1999 Season Preview:
California Slyme: A very good chance of winning this year. With
Kenny Lofton setting the table, and Chipper Jones and Tino Martinez
knocking him in, they should score some runs. Starting staff beyond
Wells and Bartolo Colon is solid yet unspectacular: Chris Peters,
Traschel and John Thomson. Bullpen is also excellent: Gordon, Wall,
Belinda, Loiselle and Mike Myers.
True to form, the Slyme finished
Chapter One in first place, but with a modest record of only 13-12, and
with only three games separating them from the last-place Panthers.
Southern Cal picked up the pace in the second chapter, going 17-13 to
open up a four-game lead in the division. However, one-third of
the way into the season, the Slyme had outscored their competition by
just two runs. And with both the Panthers and Spoilers seemingly
underperforming, the Slyme's lead was considerably precarious.
In Chapter Three, SoCal posted a 16-8
record, which opened up their lead to a more comfortable eight games.
Making things even more comfortable was the fact that the team had added
several impact players at the Chapter Four deadline, including ace Tom
Glavine and slugger Greg Vaughn. Glavine cost the team only Giambi
(who never quite panned out as well as his brother) and a second-round
draft pick. He was absolutely brilliant down the stretch, going a
perfect 14-0 in the second half while posting a 2.06 ERA. He
finished the year with a 24-4 record, a 2.61 ERA and the Eck League Cy
Vaughn, who came to the Slyme as part
of a ten-player (and one draft pick) trade with the Delafield Ogres, hit
.330/.397/.767 in the second half, with 33 homers in just 270 at-bats.
Overall, he would hit .280/.362/.634 on the season, with 56 homers and
131 RBI's. He would finish third in the EL MVP voting, and fourth
in the EL Babe Ruth balloting.
Sylvester continued to wheel-and-deal
in Chapter Five, adding Travis Fryman (.242/.380/.523, 12 HR in 149 AB)
in exchange for youngsters Greisinger and Manny Alexander (neither of
whom ever amounted to much.)
Southern Cal went an incredible 58-22
(.725) during the second half of the season -- by far the best record in
the BDBL. They wrapped up the inaugural season with a 105-55
record (tops in the BDBL), which remains a remarkable achievement for a
team in the first season of a league's existence. And for his
efforts, Sylvester walked away with both the EL Manager of the Year and
GM of the Year awards.
The Slyme then faced the Massillon
Tigerstrikes in the EL Division Series. Massillon was just 35-45
at the break, and trailed their division by seven games. But in
the second half of the season, they went an astounding 51-29 -- the
second-best record in the EL after SoCal -- and wrapped up the #4 seed
in the playoffs.
Game One was tied at 4-4 heading into
the eighth inning, but SoCal then rallied for half a dozen runs in the
bottom of the eighth to make it a 10-4 laugher. Wells then stifled
the Tigerstrikes in Game Two, allowing just one run through eight-plus
innings. Massillon finally got on the board with a win in Game
Three, despite a late five-run rally by the Slyme, which ended on a
strike-'em-out/throw-'em-out play to end the game. But SoCal then
put the series away when Glavine tossed eight shutout innings in Game
Four en route to an easy 4-0 win.
The EL League Championship Series
against the Oakville Marauders proved to be an interesting one due to
the fact that the Marauders were being managed by Sylvester's
11-year-old son, Bobby. Oakville's manager, Bob Biermann, had
resigned from the league prior to the fifth and deciding game of the
ELDS, and the younger Sylvester was called upon to replace him.
Father and son then squared off against each other, resulting in a
14-inning Oakville win in the first game of the series.
SoCal then eked out another tight game
in Game Two, winning 5-4 on a two-run blast by Chipper Jones in the
bottom of the eighth. The Slyme then took the next two games by
scores of 10-7 and 6-5, putting them one win away from the World Series.
But the younger Sylvester wasn't about to let his old man off the hook
that easily. The Marauders stormed back and won the next two games
-- each by one run -- including a win against Glavine in Game Five.
That set the stage for a dramatic Game
Seven showdown between Wells and Oakville starter Mike Hampton.
Oakville took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning, and SoCal
scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning to recapture the
lead. They then tacked on two more runs in the seventh and eighth
innings, while the Slyme bullpen of Albie Lopez, Jim Corsi, Stan Belinda
and Tom Gordon held the Oakville offense scoreless. The Slyme were
heading to the first-ever BDBL World Series.
Their opponents in that series would be
the Stamford Zoots, who had acquired a second ace (Randy Johnson)
in trade earlier that season to go with their Cy Young runner-up Kevin
Brown. But with the OLCS dragging out to seven games, both aces
were unavailable for Game One. That meant that Rolando Arrojo
would get the ball for Stamford, while SoCal's ace, Glavine, would take
the hill for the home team. Incredibly, Arrojo out-pitched Glavine,
allowing just one run over five innings. The Stamford bullpen of
Dennis Cook, Ramiro Mendoza, C.J. Nitkowski and John Wetteland then took
over from there, giving the Zoots the win.
SoCal fought back in Game Two, and
scored five first-inning runs off of Johnson before scoring two more in
the second inning. They then held off a five-run inning by
Stamford to eke out a 9-6 victory, which evened the series. But it
was then Brown's turn to take the hill in Game Three, and he responded
with a gem, out-pitching David Wells to recapture the series lead for
With Arrojo not trusted to pitch on
three days rest, Stamford turned to Mark Clark in Game Four, and he was
pounded for six runs on ten hits through five innings, while Glavine
cruised through seven shutout innings to even the series once again.
In Game Five, Travis Fryman connected
for a leadoff homer in the top of the ninth inning off of Stamford
closer John Wetteland, tying the game at two apiece. The game then
stretched into extra innings, when SoCal scored four runs in the top of
the 12th to put it away.
Just one win away from the first-ever
BDBL championship, Sylvester handed the ball to his franchise's
first-ever player, Wells. Wells responded with a gem, allowing
just one run through six innings. But with a pitch count of just
74, Sylvester turned to a pinch hitter to lead off the bottom of the
sixth. With the score tied at 1-1, he then handed the ball to
reliever Donne Wall, who held Stamford scoreless in the seventh.
After another scoreless inning thrown
by Stamford ace Brown in the bottom of the seventh, Wall walked the
leadoff batter in the top of the eighth, and then served up a two-run
blast to Rafael Palmeiro. SoCal eventually lost by a score of 4-1,
forcing a seventh game.
Game Seven featured a classic match-up
of Johnson vs. Glavine. Glavine got off to a shaky start, however,
when he allowed a base hit, a walk and a three-run blast to Palmeiro to
start the game. He eventually settled down, though he had placed
his team in a deep hole, given that Johnson had brought his "A" game to
the park. The giant southpaw tossed seven shutout innings,
allowing just three hits while whiffing ten, making up for his
disastrous Game Two start. Cook then pitched a perfect eighth
against the suddenly-feeble SoCal lineup. And in the ninth,
Wetteland emerged from the bullpen to face the bottom third of the Slyme
lineup. After Kenny Lofton singled to lead off the inning,
Wetteland retired the next three batters in order. And thus, the
Stamford Zoots became the first-ever champions of the BDBL.
Despite the disappointment of losing
the championship, the Slyme were set up nicely heading into the 2000
season. Glavine (15-9, 4.23 ERA in 223+ IP) and Wells (13-12, 3.82
ERA in 252+ IP) were returning to the starting rotation, and Chipper
Jones (.298/.426/.629, 47 HR, 156.4 RC), Tino Martinez (.286/.383/.508,
32 HR, 118.3 RC) and Greg Vaughn (.219/.308/.482,
41 HR, 84.9 RC) were returning to the lineup.
In Sylvester's first two trades of the
off-season, however, he dismantled the rotation by trading both Glavine
and Wells, receiving a couple of middle relievers (Bob Wickman and Bill
Simas) in exchange. More importantly, however, he freed up nearly
$20 million in salary with those two trades, allowing him to add Troy
O'Leary (.270/.336/.473, 22 HR, 93 RC) and Javy Lopez (.298/.357/.491 in
228 AB) in trade. He also swapped Martinez and Kenny Lofton in
exchange for Mo Vaughn (.291/.380/.535, 36 HR, 109.4 RC.)
With the trades of Glavine and Wells,
Colon (16-6, 3.91 ERA in 221+ IP) became the de facto ace of the
pitching staff. He was followed by Garrett Stephenson (3-4, 2.99
ERA in 87+ IP) and Ramiro Mendoza (9-2, 4.17 ERA in 121 IP) -- both
acquired in trade that winter -- and 26-year-old fireballer Octavio
Dotel (5-3, 3.88 ERA in 81+ IP.)
By replacing two full-time starting
pitchers with several part-timers, Sylvester attempted to piece together
a starting rotation from spare parts. Only two pitchers on the
Slyme roster threw more than 125 innings during the MLB season, and only
four pitched more than 86 innings. The SoCal bullpen was also
considered to be below-average, with Felix Rodriguez (5-9, 19 SV, 4.71
ERA in 59+ IP) filling the role of "closer."
Halfway through the draft, Sylvester
acquired a legitimate innings-eater for his rotation, acquiring Jason
Schmidt (14-10, 4.62 ERA in 214+ IP) from the division-rival Kansas Law
Dogs in exchange for Luis Gonzalez and Cal Pickering. Little did
anyone realize at the time that both the 32-year-old Gonzalez and the
27-year-old Schmidt were about to become two of the best players in the
game over the next several years.
Despite all of the problems with their
pitching, however, the Slyme were picked to win what was considered to
be the weakest division in the league. Southern Cal got off to a
mediocre start, going 13-11 in the first chapter. But with weak
competition in the division, that record was good enough for second
place -- just one game behind the Boise Bastards. SoCal repeated
their 13-11 record in Chapter Two, and went 14-12 in the third
chapter. Heading into the all-star break, their 41-34 record was good enough to
lead the division by five games.
Southern Cal was even better in the
second half, going 45-40. However, that was only the third-best
second-half record in the division, as the Phoenix Predators (49-36) and
Kansas Law Dogs (47-38) picked up the pace. With two weeks
remaining in the season, the Slyme held a slim one-game lead in the
division, and needed to win eight of their sixteen remaining games to
ensure a tie for first. They did that, and more, wrapping up the
season with an 86-74 record -- two games ahead of Phoenix.
For the second year in a row, the Slyme
headed into the playoffs. And for the second year in a row,
Sylvester would be facing his son. Only this time, the younger
Sylvester was managing his own team -- the Kentucky Fox. SoCal
took a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning of Game
One when the wheels suddenly came off the Slyme bandwagon. With
Schmidt on the hill for SoCal, the bottom of the Kentucky lineup strung
together two singles, a double and a sac fly to make it a 6-3 game.
With one out, Sylvester, Sr., turned to Randy Wolf to face the top of
the Kentucky lineup. The Fox then strung together two more
singles, another double, and a hit batter, to score four more runs,
giving them a 7-6 lead. Kentucky closer Doug Brocail then closed
out the final two innings to give the Fox the series lead.
In Game Two, Sylvester, Sr., handed the
ball to Ron Villone. It was an odd choice, given that Villone
(8-10, 5.13 ERA, 102 BBs in 149+ IP) had performed horribly, and
Kentucky had hit .308/.379/.502 against left-handers like Villone during
the regular season. That decision became even more dubious when
Villone was rocked for four runs in the very first inning. The Fox
then knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning, scoring two more
runs. And SoCal reliever John Frascatore just added more fuel to
the fire, allowing five runs in three innings of "relief." Despite
the fact that Southern Cal scored seven runs over the final two innings,
Kentucky walked away with an 11-7 win, and a 2-0 record in the
Just one loss away from exiting the
playoffs, Sylvester, Sr., turned to Bartolo Colon to start Game Three.
A two-run double by Ronnie Belliard gave Kentucky the lead in the second
inning, but SoCal eventually tied it up in the third. A pair of
singles gave Kentucky a 3-2 lead once again in the fourth inning, and
that lead would hold, as Kentucky starter Dave Burba and reliever Alan
Mills shut down the Slyme offense the rest of the way.
Winter of 2001 was a flurry of activity
for Sylvester, as he scrambled to assemble another contender. With
Greg Vaughn in the final year of his contract, he was offloaded to
Cleveland in exchange for promising youngsters Joe Crede and Brian Rose
(neither of whom developed as expected.) Another slugger, Javy
Lopez, was also traded that winter, to division-rival Kansas. In
exchange, the Slyme received Bret Boone (.228/.309/.375) and three
Colon was jettisoned to Salem in
exchange for Shannon Stewart (.300/.353/.472, 93.1 RC.)And Mo Vaughn was
dealt to Villanova for Jon Lieber (8-19, 5.26 ERA in 224+ IP) and a
young first baseman by the name of David Ortiz. (Unfortunately for
Sylvester, Ortiz had only one year remaining on his contract, and would
eventually be released the following winter.)
In a huge seven-player/three-pick trade
with the Allentown Ridgebacks, Sylvester picked up Eric Chavez
(.252/.344/.457, 85.2 RC in the final year of his contract) and Andy
Pettitte (11-8, 3.65 ERA in 192+ IP.) In exchange, it cost the
Slyme Chipper Jones, Jimmy Rollins and their #1 farm pick.
In total, Sylvester made ten trades
that winter. And with an entirely retooled starting rotation and
lineup, the Slyme were picked to finish in second place in the division.
As expected, SoCal kept pace with the division-favorite Kansas Law Dogs
in Chapter One, going 15-13 to Kansas' 16-12 record. But Kansas
then pulled away from the pack in the second chapter, going 18-8, while
the Slyme went just 12-14.
2001 would be an historic season for
the Law Dogs, as they would set records in nearly every offensive
category. They hit .321/.398/.580 as a team, with 364 home runs
and 1,282 runs scored. For the Slyme, this meant keeping an eye on
the EL wild card race almost from the beginning of the season.
After a disappointing Chapter Three
(10-16), Southern Cal limped into the all-star break with a 36-43
record, and trailed in the wild card race by a seemingly-insurmountable
11 games. Despite an 11-15 showing in Chapter Four, Sylvester
stood pat the rest of the way, and made only one trade (Kelvim Escobar
to the Madison Fighting Mimes in exchange for Brett Abernathy and
Madison's second-round farm pick) at the final trading deadline.
The Slyme went 24-30 over the final two
chapters to finish with an overall record of 72-88 -- good for second
In contrast to the frenetic flurry of
trading in the winter of 2001, Sylvester made just one deal the
following winter, trading Pettitte to the Phoenix Predators in exchange
for Jeff Suppan, Roger Cedeno and a farm pick. During the draft,
Sylvester then flipped Suppan to his son in exchange for Joe Randa
(.223/.292/.323 in the final year of his contract) and Billy Koch (3-7,
2 SV, 6.03 ERA in 58+ IP.) At the draft, Sylvester shored up his
bullpen with the signings of Jason Isringhausen (3-5, 31 SV, 2.45 ERA in
55+ IP) and Trevor Hoffman (6-3, 2.96 ERA in 70 IP.)
With Lieber (9-12, 4.88 ERA in 190+
IP), Wolf (4-12, 5.36 ERA in 141 IP) and Schmidt (6-10, 5.10 ERA in 148+
IP) returning to the Slyme rotation, pitching appeared to be a weakness
heading into the season. The offense, however, was perceived to be
even weaker, and the Slyme lineup was "just about as weak as you'll find
on any team," according to the pre-season preview (which predicted the
Slyme would finish in last place.)
Not surprisingly, Southern Cal got off
to a poor start, going 8-20 in Chapter One and 6-20 in Chapter Two.
Sylvester wasted no time beginning his rebuilding effort. On March
13th, Sylvester traded Lieber, Matt Lawton, Hoffman and J.T. Snow to the
Cleveland Rocks. In exchange, he received two pitchers who would
have an enormous impact on his franchise's future: Roy Halladay and Joel
Pineiro. Although Halladay would not pitch an inning for the Slyme
beyond the 2002 season, he would prove to be valuable trade bait the
following winter. And Pineiro would become a major part of SoCal's
2004 starting rotation.
At the Chapter Four deadline, Sylvester
traded Isringhausen to the New York Knights, getting Kaz Ishii in
return. He would also make another trade that chapter that would
prove costly to his franchise over the long term. In that deal, he
acquired young slugger Vernon Wells along with four others from the
Allentown Ridgebacks. But in exchange, he traded a young pitcher
by the name of Jake Peavy, who would become an annual Cy Young contender
for the next several years.
Sylvester continued dealing at the
final trading deadline, acquiring young slugger Carlos Pena from the Los
Altos Undertakers in exchange for Schmidt. (Unfortunately,
Sylvester would trade Pena before he would become an all-star.)
As the season came to a close, the only
question anyone had surrounding the Slyme was whether or not they would
break the 1999 New Milford Blazers' all-time BDBL record for most losses
in a season (114.) The Slyme needed to win two of their final six
games in order to avoid that record, and they did just that, wrapping up
the season with a 48-112 record.
In the winter of 2003, Roy Halladay had
become one of the greatest pitchers in baseball. Just 26 years
old, and with a full season left on a contract that would pay him just
$1.1 million in 2003 and $2.1 million in 2004, Halladay would go 20-7 in
'03, with a 2.63 ERA in 263 innings. After surveying his roster
that winter, however, Sylvester concluded that Halladay could not carry
his franchise to contention all by himself, and that he may have more
value to the franchise in trade. So, shortly after the conclusion
of the BDBL World Series, Sylvester placed Halladay on the trading
After watching the Salem Cowtippers
dominate the Benes Division through the league's first four seasons, the
Marlboro Hammerheads were in line to give Salem a fight for the division
title. Both Marlboro GM Ken Kaminski and Salem GM Mike Glander
made aggressive offers for Halladay, and in the end, Sylvester preferred
Kaminski's package. That package included BDBL rookie Ichiro
Suzuki and toolsy prospects Drew Henson and Hanley Ramirez.
Although the trade was ridiculed at the
time (mostly by Glander), it is hard to argue with the results.
After a rocky start following his acquisition, Ramirez soon emerged as
one of the top players in baseball, while Suzuki became one of the
biggest bargains in the league. Unfortunately for Sylvester, his
franchise never benefited from Suzuki's presence, as he was flipped
later that winter in exchange for Jason Marquis, Brett Myers and Jon
In the first-ever BDBL free agent
auction, Sylvester added veterans Todd Walker ($5 million), Edgar
Martinez ($4 million) and Shannon Stewart ($6.5 million.) And in
the draft, Sylvester took advantage of his #1 overall pick to select
Scott Spiezio and Brad Radke in the second and third rounds. In
the sixth round, Sylvester took a gamble on injured starter Kevin Brown,
hoping for a rebound season.
Two of SoCal's trade acquisitions from
2002 were expected to make an immediate impact in '03. Joel
Pineiro enjoyed a career year in MLB (14-7, 3.24 ERA), but went just
5-19 with a 5.81 ERA for the Slyme. And Billy Koch (9-7, 2.56 ERA,
27 SV in 88 IP) posted some stellar numbers in his final year under
contract. But overall, the Slyme team was not considered to be a
contender heading into the season, and they were once again picked to
finish in last place.
Once again, that prediction looked
accurate when the Slyme got off to a 7-21 start in the first chapter,
and followed that up by going 6-20 in Chapter Two. After a 10-16
showing in Chapter Three, some began to wonder whether the Slyme would
be challenging New Milford's losses record for a second year in a row.
But for the second year in a row,
Southern Cal fell just short of that inglorious record by finishing the
season at 50-110. After winning two straight division titles in
the league's first two seasons, the Slyme had managed to lose 110 games
or more, two seasons in a row.
But things were looking up in 2004.
For starters, the Slyme were moved into a new division to start the
year, where they would no longer have to compete against the Ridgebacks,
who had seemingly assembled an unbeatable dynasty. In the winter
of 2004, after a league-wide vote in favor of radical realignment, the
Slyme were moved into the Person Division, where they would now compete
against the South Carolina Sea Cats, Nashville Funkadelic and Bobby
Sylvester's Wapakoneta Hippos. After facing each other twice in
the post-season, father and son Sylvester would now be competing
directly for the division title.
The 2004 season would prove to be a
challenge for Sylvester off the field, as he played most of the season
from his military base in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar, on the
other side of the globe. That Sylvester was able to play all of
his games on time and remain as an active GM throughout that season
ranks as perhaps the most amazing (and inspiring) feat in the history of
Sylvester's sixth-round gamble on Kevin
Brown during the 2003 draft proved to be a great one, as Brown bounced
back from an injury-plagued season to go 19-8 for the Slyme in 2004,
with a stellar 2.92 ERA and 202 K's in 225+ innings. He was backed
in the rotation by Pineiro (17-11, 3.08 ERA in 228+ IP), whose BDBL
performance finally matched his MLB numbers.
That winter, Sylvester made a
headline-grabbing trade, dealing 25-year-old all-star Vernon Wells (who
would hit .342/.376/.616 in 2004, with 38 HR and 148.8 RC) to the
Chicago Black Sox, along with promising youngsters Brett Myers and J.J.
Hardy, in exchange for 24-year-old budding Cy Young candidate Josh
Beckett (9-4, 4.50 ERA in 100+ IP) and slugger Dmitri Young
(.326/.401/.603, 38 HR, 135.3 RC.)
Sylvester also added Mark Redman (9-12,
3.99 ERA in 167+ IP) in a trade with the Funkadelic that winter, giving
the Slyme one of the best starting rotations in the league. And in
another deal with the Bear Country Jamboree -- a deal that cost the
Slyme Carlos Pena -- Sylvester added reliever Octavio Dotel (10-1, 3.89
ERA in 74+ IP.)
In the auction, Sylvester signed just
one player: catcher Mike Lieberthal (.291/.351/.420, 74.8 RC) at a
salary of $7.5 million. Lieberthal joined 2003 trade acquisition
Edgar Renteria (.335/.380/.504, 121.1 RC) in a much-improved SoCal
lineup. During the draft, Sylvester improved that lineup a bit
more by adding leadoff hitter Luis Castillo (.335/.383/.409, 104.5 RC)
at the expense of Mike Matheny and Todd Walker.
After posting back-to-back 110-loss
seasons, the Slyme were picked to win the newly-aligned Person Division.
They began the year with a 17-11 record in Chapter One, and by
mid-season, they had opened up a 12-game lead in the division.
At the halfway point, Sylvester made
three big trades at the deadline to strengthen his team even greater
down the stretch. He began by dealing Reed Johnson and Chad Tracy
to the Great Lakes Sphinx for Michael Tucker (.297/.377/.517 in 167 AB)
and Jeff Bagwell (.301/.420/.541 in 146 AB.) Next, he sent Shea
Hillenbrand, Claudio Vargas and Jason Stokes to Litchfield for Esteban
Loiaza (11-1, 2.46 ERA in 106+ IP) and Keith Osik. Finally, he
dealt Raul Ibanez, Danys Baez and Craig Biggio to the Sylmar Padawans
for Jacque Jones (.345/.370/.484 in 252 AB) and Mike Cameron
(.279/.360/.527 in 297 AB.)
Loaiza combined with Brown and Pineiro
to give the Slyme three bona-fide aces in the starting rotation.
At the final trading deadline of the season, Sylvester added yet
another, re-acquiring Halladay in a blockbuster trade with the South
Carolina Sea Cats that cost the Slyme only Matt Clement and Koch.
Halladay went 8-3 for the Slyme over the final two chapters, with an ERA
of 3.16 in 94 innings. For many, his acquisition made Southern Cal
the overwhelming favorite to win the BDBL championship.
With their four aces leading the way,
the Slyme went a remarkable 57-23 in the second half of the season -- a
.712 winning percentage that was by far the best in the BDBL.
SoCal wrapped up the regular season with a 106-54 record (56 wins better
than the year before.)
Their opponents in the ELDS would be
the Allentown Ridgebacks who, despite a 95-65 record, were the #4 seed
in the EL playoffs. The Ridgebacks scored one more run than the
Slyme during the regular season, but allowed a whopping 137 runs more
than the stellar Southern Cal pitching staff.
In Game One, Southern Cal turned to
Halladay, while the Ridgebacks countered with perhaps the greatest
post-season pitcher in league history, Roy Oswalt. Oswalt was as
brilliant as ever, allowing just one run through six innings of work.
Halladay was uncharacteristically off his game, and allowed two
three-run homers (one to Brian Giles and another to Barry Bonds) in the
first two innings. He exited the game after just three innings,
and was replaced by Mark Redman, who allowed SIX home runs to Ridgebacks
batters. The final tally was a 14-1 laugher and a shocking start
to the series.
In Game Two, Allentown starter Sidney
Ponson somehow managed to allow just two runs over seven innings, while
SoCal starter Loaiza kept pace with him. With the game still
knotted at 2-2 in the ninth inning, SoCal closer Jose Valverde struck
out the first two batters he faced before allowing a base hit to J.D.
Drew. The next batter, Corey Koskie, walked, but advanced to
second base on a passed ball on ball four. That brought the
ever-dangerous Bonds to the plate with runners at second and third.
Sylvester made the no-brainer decision to intentionally walk Bonds,
loading the bases. Mike Remlinger was then brought into the game
to face pinch hitter Ramon Martinez, and Martinez responded with an RBI
single. Allentown reliever Will Cunnane then retired the side in
order in the bottom of the ninth to close out Allentown's second win.
In Game Three, the series shifted to
Allentown, but the Slyme managed to eke out a 5-4 win behind the
pitching of Brown and the hitting of Bagwell. In Game Four,
Southern Cal was just six outs away from evening the series, thanks to a
three-run blast by Edgar Martinez in the top of the eighth. But in
the bottom of the inning, pinch hitter Jody Gerut whacked a three-run
double off of SoCal reliever Jose Contreras, giving Allentown a 9-7 win.
The fate of the season then rested upon
the highly-capable shoulders of Halladay, who was tasked with facing
Ponson in Game Five. But once again, Halladay proved he wasn't up
to the challenge. Allentown scored four runs off of Halladay in
the first three innings -- three of those runs scoring on a pair of
homers by #8 hitter Craig Wilson -- and by the fifth inning Halladay was
out of the game. Those runs proved to be enough to support Ponson,
who cruised through seven innings, allowing just two runs. Jack
Cressend and Will Cunnane then finished off the Slyme, capping a classic
BDBL playoffs upset.
Halladay left via free agency at the
end of the season, but Beckett (8-13, 5.47 ERA in 161+ IP), Loaiza
(7-17, 5.74 ERA in 193 IP), Pineiro (11-12, 4.59 ERA in 151+ IP) and
Contreras (8-12, 5.27 ERA in 181 IP) all returned to the SoCal starting
rotation in 2005. Not one of them, however, was nearly as
effective as he had been the year before. Just a few months after
featuring the deepest and best pitching staff in the league, the SoCal
pitching situation was in shambles.
Offensively, Renteria (.294/.342/.408,
67.5 RC) returned for his third year with the team, and Lieberthal
(.290/.340/.503, 86 RC) and Dmitri Young (.320/.378/.557, 67.6 RC)
returned as well. That winter, Sylvester added to the lineup by
acquiring Jeff Kent (.263/.323/.449, 79.3 RC) in exchange for Castillo,
Brown, Redman and Chad Bradford. And in the auction, he added
Torii Hunter (.288/.338/.497, 86.6 RC), Bernie Williams (.281/.381/.425,
74.5 RC) and Derrek Lee (.274/.351/.478, 104 RC.)
Despite their deep lineup, the Slyme
pitching dragged the team down, and they were predicted to finish in
third place in the division. After three chapters of play, that is
exactly where they found themselves, with a 33-47 record -- 16 games
behind the division-leading Hippos.
At the Chapter Four deadline, Sylvester
made three big trades, dealing Lieberthal, Williams, Kent and Young,
among others. Among the players he received in return, none proved
to have much value to the franchise aside from Ervin Santana, who would
become trade bait. That same chapter, however, Sylvester made an
acquisition that would profoundly affect his franchise's future when he
selected Ryan Zimmerman as a farm free agent.
With the Slyme sporting a record of
58-74 at the final trading deadline, Sylvester made one more trade that
would prove to be valuable to his franchise's future when he dealt Dotel
to the Salem Cowtippers in exchange for young collegian Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Slyme closed out the second half
with a record of 34-46, giving them an overall record of 71-89.
After an off year, Beckett (16-7, 3.76
ERA in 189+ IP) enjoyed a stellar season in his penultimate year under
contract. Contreras -- Sylvester's top draft pick in 2003, and the
#1 overall pick of that farm draft -- also enjoyed his first big season
in the BDBL, going 15-12 with a 3.90 ERA in 219+ innings. That
winter, Sylvester added a third ace through trade, getting C.C. Sabathia
(15-8, 3.93 ERA in 206+ IP) from the Great Lakes Sphinx in exchange for
After returning the starting rotation
to its former glory, Sylvester shored up the bullpen by signing B.J.
Ryan (9-4, 32 SV, 2.06 ERA in 70 IP) to a $6 million salary in the
auction. And to the starting lineup, Sylvester added Carlos
Delgado (.333/.422/.639, 37 HR, 141.1 RC) and Victor Martinez
(.383/.448/.610, 27 HR, 142.3 RC) in a trade with the Chicago Black Sox
(costing the team Derrek Lee, A.J. Pierzynski and Felix Pie.) Jeff
Kent (.272/.348/.465, 100 RC), Torii Hunter (.254/.314/.409, 48.7 RC)
and Raul Ibanez (.296/.369/.445, 103.7 RC) were also added through the
free agent auction.
Martinez's 2006 season became legendary
when he entered the final chapter of the season with his batting average
still over .400. It didn't drop below that hallowed mark until the
second week of October. He eventually settled at .383, and
captured both the EL MVP and Babe Ruth awards that winter.
With Sylvester returning to his post in
the Middle East, the Slyme appeared to be in a position to return as the
team to beat in the Person Division. They began the year with an
18-10 record, and followed that with a 16-12 record in Chapter Two.
But keeping pace every step of the way were the South Carolina Sea Cats,
who sported an identical 34-22 record after two chapters.
Sea Cats GM Tony DeCastro upped the
ante by making two big-impact trades for Andy Pettitte and Kevin
Millwood, and Sylvester attempted to keep pace by dealing for Jason
Marquis (7-4, 4.21 ERA in 107 IP) the following chapter. The Sea
Cats fell to an 11-13 record in Chapter Three, giving SoCal an
opportunity to pull ahead. The Slyme responded by going 15-9
during that time, opening up a four-game lead at the all-star break.
The Sea Cats managed to hang in the
race over the next two chapters, going 31-21 to SoCal's 32-20 record.
With one chapter left to play, the Slyme held a comfortable five-game
lead in the division. But the Sea Cats went a remarkable 21-7 over
the final chapter to finish with a franchise-best 97-63 record.
With a dozen games remaining for the Slyme, they needed to go 7-5 to tie
for the division lead. They fell just short, and wrapped up the
season with a record of 95-65. That record was good enough,
however, to capture the EL wild card.
For the fourth time in eight seasons,
Sylvester headed into the playoffs. This time, his opponent would
be the Villanova Mustangs, who had wrapped up a Cinderella season with a
101-59 record -- the only team in the BDBL to win 100 games that season.
Contreras ran out to the mound to start Game One of the Division Series,
while Villanova countered with their ace, Mark Buehrle. Contreras
was masterful, holding the powerful Mustangs offense to just one hit
through five-plus shutout innings. After walking the first two
batters he faced in the sixth inning, he was pulled in favor of reliever
Jose Valverde. And Valverde managed to escape from that jam
without a run scoring. The SoCal bullpen dominated the Mustangs
through the remainder of the game, and when all was said and done, six
Slyme pitchers had combined to pitch a two-hit shutout.
After slumbering through the first
game, the Mustangs offense awoke in the second game, and pounded
Sabathia and reliever Brendan Donnelly for eight runs (five earned) en
route to an easy 8-1 victory. In the next game, Villanova took a
4-3 lead in the sixth inning, and held that lead to the end thanks to
the dominant bullpen work of Neal Cotts and Mariano Rivera.
The Slyme managed to even the series
with a 9-5 win in Game Four, and then took Game Five by a score of 11-2.
That put them just one win away from a huge Division Series upset
(perhaps redeeming their own Division Series upset of 2004.) But
the Mustangs weren't ready to roll over just yet. With the score
knotted at 0-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning of Game Six,
Villanova rallied for five runs in the inning, while Rich Harden tossed
a complete-game two-hit shutout.
That set the stage for Game Seven.
SoCal handed the ball to Contreras, while Villanova went with Dontrelle
Willis. The Mustangs scored first, on a solo home run by Reggie
Sanders in the second inning. Southern Cal tied the game in the
fifth on an RBI single by Hunter. Travis Hafner then led off the
sixth inning with a home run, giving Villanova a 2-1 lead. In the
eighth, Cotts walked the first two batters he faced, bringing the heart
of the SoCal lineup to the plate. Villanova turned to their
otherworldly closer, Rivera, who struck out Kent and Delgado
back-to-back, and then got Victor Martinez to pop out to left.
SoCal's last stand came in the ninth, when Rivera botched a ground ball
with two outs, putting runners at first and second. Hunter stepped
to the plate with the tying run on second, and Villanova manager Tony
Chamra yanked Rivera out of the game in favor of righty specialist Rudy
Seanez. Hunter whiffed, ending Southern Cal's season.
With Beckett (16-13, 3.95 ERA in 221+
IP) returning to the starting rotation for his final year under
contract, and Contreras (15-9, 3.59 ERA in 208+ IP) returning for
another quality season, the SoCal starting rotation had a good
foundation heading into the 2007 season. Sylvester strengthened
that foundation quite a bit when he made a shocking trade that winter,
agreeing to take Roger Clemens (8-4, 3.64 ERA in 121+ IP) off of the New
Milford Blazers' hands. As he was available to pitch only half the
season, and sported a $19 million salary, most people considered Clemens
to be all-but-immovable. But Sylvester was able to offset some of
Clemens' salary by unloading Pineiro, Valverde, and Brian Schneider (all
of whom had become expensive cuts.) And as the trade only cost the
Slyme Dioner Navarro in terms of "talent", it was considered to be a
Offensively, a pair of rookies were
making their BDBL debuts in 2007: Zimmerman (.266/.319/.398, 70.4 RC)
and Hanley Ramirez (.280/.342/.447, 103.9 RC.) That winter,
Sylvester added another big bat when he dealt closer B.J. Ryan to the
Cowtippers in exchange for Paul Konerko (.307/.376/.491, 75.5 RC.)
Jeff Kent (.292/.374/.448, 67.7 RC) and Victor Martinez (.323/.393/.506,
111.7 RC) also returned for another year, giving the Slyme one of the
better lineups in the league.
After splurging on Clemens in the
off-season, little money was left over to spend in the auction.
Sylvester signed just one player -- Reed Johnson (.292/.351/.425, 71.8
RC) -- for $5 million. The Slyme then went into Opening Day with a
team picked to finish in second-place in their division.
SoCal jumped out to an impressive 18-10
start to the season, despite the fact that Clemens didn't throw a single
pitch in the chapter. Most people assumed Sylvester was saving his
ace for the stretch run, but in early March, Sylvester posted Clemens on
the Selling forum. And on March 12th, Clemens was traded (along
with Konerko) to the Kansas Law Dogs in exchange for lefty starters Ted
Lilly and Wil Ledezma and youngsters Adam Jones, Adam LaRoche and Chris
"This is a win-win for both the Dogs
and Slyme," Sylvester proclaimed. Yet, many eyebrows were raised
around the league as to why a first-place team would trade their best
pitcher in exchange for a sub-standard replacement and a bunch of
prospects. Clearly, it seemed as though Sylvester's priority was
not to win his division in 2007.
The Slyme went just 13-15 in Chapter
Two, and fell into a virtual tie with the division-favorite Nashville
Funkadelic. A mediocre 12-12 record in Chapter Three gave Southern
Cal a 43-37 record at the all-star break -- six games behind in the
division. And with the Wapakoneta Hippos enjoying a surprising
chapter, the Slyme were now looking up at two teams in the standings.
But the Hippos' stay atop the division
was short-lived. And after a 10-14 start to the second half of the
season, they soon fell out of contention, while the Slyme (14-10 in
Chapter Four) regained their position. The Slyme continued winning
in Chapter Five, going 17-11 to pull within seven games of the
Funkadelic. And with little competition in the Eck League for the
wild card, the Slyme enjoyed a two-game lead over the Hippos in the race
for the final playoffs spot.
And yet...despite his team's success,
Sylvester continued to unload talent in favor of future considerations.
At the final trading deadline, he traded another short-usage ace, Anibal
Sanchez, to the Law Dogs in exchange for a $3 million reliever for 2008
(Brad Lidge) and a $500,000 reserve roster player (Reggie Willits) with
no value in 2007.
Next, he traded one of his team's top
hitters, Raul Ibanez (.315/.377/.574 at the time) to the Cleveland Rocks
for pitcher James Shields. While Shields would have immense value
to the Slyme over the next several seasons, he had zero value for 2007.
And finally, he traded his team's de
facto #2 starter, Contreras, to the Hippos (the team he was battling in
the wild card race) in exchange for Dave Bush (2-4, 7.50 ERA for SoCal
over 36 IP.)
All of these deals left a sour taste in
the mouths of the BDBL punditry, who viewed Sylvester's abandonment of
his competitive team as something less than ideal to the greater
interest of the league. And yet, despite the losses of all of
those high-impact players, the Slyme defiantly continued to win.
On the final day of the season, the Slyme faced the Hippos to decide the
final place in the playoffs, and the Slyme emerged victorious,
officially capturing the EL wild card with a 90-70 record.
Southern Cal then faced the Kansas Law
Dogs in the Division Series -- the same Law Dogs team that were the
beneficiaries of the Clemens and Sanchez trades. Kansas' $21
million ace, Santana, took the hill in Game One, and easily shut down
the SoCal offense en route to a 7-2 win. In Game Two, Southern Cal
scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 8-6 lead.
But Ledezma (one of the pitchers Kansas had traded to SoCal in exchange
for Clemens) served up back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the ninth
to tie the score. SoCal's Torii Hunter then singled home a run in
the top of the 12th inning, and Ted Lilly (pitching in relief) and
Guillermo Mota then combined to close out a SoCal win in the bottom of
Clemens got the ball for the Law Dogs
in Game Three, and he was absolutely masterful: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9
K. But the Slyme continued to battle, and tied the series once
again with a win in Game Four over Santana. Southern Cal then
pounded Sanchez in Game Five for six runs in five innings, but the Law
Dogs pounded Lilly and reliever James Shields just as hard. Kansas
emerged with a 13-7 win, putting them just one win away from a series
They got that win when Mike Mussina
stepped to the mound in Game Six and tossed a complete-game four-hit
shutout, with 11 strikeouts.
After throwing in the towel despite
having a winning team in 2007, Sylvester was putting all his eggs in the
2008 basket. And his team did not disappoint him. The
acquisition of Shields paid immediate dividends, as he went 17-9 with a
3.19 ERA in 223 innings for the Slyme in 2008. He was backed in
the rotation by Lilly, who far outperformed his MLB performance by going
23-4 for the Slyme, with a 3.28 ERA in 222+ innings.
To those two, Sylvester added aging
veterans Curt Schilling (16-3, 3.31 ERA in 160+ IP) and Clemens (8-3,
3.79 ERA in 90+ IP) in the auction, at $5.5 million each. (And
because neither veteran pitched enough innings in MLB '08, both were
released without penalty later that winter.)
Offensively, both Zimmerman
(.280/.351/.427, 68.3 RC) and Ramirez (.349/.405/.565, 151.9 RC)
returned for their sophomore seasons in the BDBL, with Ramirez earning a
third-place finish in the EL MVP balloting. Placing first in that
balloting was Magglio Ordonez (.374/.454/.618, 169 RC), whom Sylvester
signed in the auction at a staggering $14 million salary. Raul
Ibanez (.333/.393/.600, 99.3 RC) was also resigned in that auction, to a
salary of $5 million, and far outperformed his MLB numbers. Victor
Martinez (.288/.347/.483, 73.2 RC) and Torii Hunter (.317/.359/.588,
80.3 RC) also returned to the lineup, giving SoCal the best offense in
the BDBL. The Slyme would finish 2008 with a team batting line of
.303/.365/.483, with a league-best 954 runs scored.
As expected, the Slyme got off to a hot
start -- so hot, in fact, that their 24-4 record was the best Chapter
One performance ever in BDBL history. It was just the third time
in league history a team won 24 games in one chapter. The Slyme
barely let up in Chapter Two, going 19-9. And when they went just
13-11 in Chapter Three, some thought the team was finally beginning to
But in Chapter Four, SoCal picked up
the pace again, going 18-6. They then followed that with a
remarkable 19-9 record in Chapter Five. Heading into the final
chapter of the season, the Slyme sported an astounding record of 93-39
(.705), and the debate began over whether this team could beat the
Stamford Zoots' all-time BDBL record for wins in a season (115, set in
Southern Cal achieved the inevitable on
October 12th, capturing the division title (Sylvester's fourth.)
Then, on October 25th, the Slyme won their record-shattering 116th game
of the season. They closed out the year on a high note, going 23-5
in Chapter Six, and played .750 ball over the second half of the season.
Earning the unenviable position of
facing the Slyme in the Division Series were the Chicago Black Sox,
whose .556 winning percentage paled in comparison. Nevertheless,
Chicago shocked the establishment by winning Game One by a score of 7-3,
behind the pitching of BDBL post-season legend Roy Oswalt.
Incredibly, Chicago won Game Two as well, as starter Jeff Francis and
four Chicago relievers combined to hold the vaunted SoCal offense to
just one run on seven hits.
When the series shifted to Chicago,
most BDBL followers believed the Black Sox's Cinderella story would end
in the hitter-friendly confines of "The Ballpark in Aurora."
Instead, Chicago pounded out 16 runs on 16 hits against SoCal pitchers
Orlando Hernandez and (reliever) Ted Lilly, while Chicago starter Carlos
Zambrano once again held the Slyme offense at bay.
Incredibly, the Black Sox had taken a
three-games-to-none lead over the heavily-favored Slyme. But the
story became even more incredible when Chicago completed the sweep of
Southern Cal in Game Four, winning by a comfortable 7-3 margin as Jeff
Suppan outpitched Curt Schilling. For the series, SoCal hit just
.225/.307/.302 as a team, with just one home run and ten runs scored in
four games. And thus ended what had been the greatest single
season team performance in BDBL history.
Throughout the first decade of the
BDBL's existence, it would be difficult to find a person who made more
of a commitment to the league than Bob Sylvester. In the league's
very first season, Sylvester took the time out of his schedule to attend
the first-ever live draft, even though he didn't yet own a franchise in
the league. He then stepped in at the 11th hour and completed the
draft that Kevin Manley had begun, with hardly any notice whatsoever,
saving the league from having to postpone our draft -- and possibly our
Later, Sylvester proved his
extraordinary commitment to the league when he went "above and beyond
the call of duty" by managing his franchise from a desert tent in the
middle of a tiny Middle Eastern country halfway across the world.
For this, the BDBL will forever be in Sylvester's debt.
On the field, it is difficult to argue
with Sylvester's success as a GM. In ten seasons, Sylvester
averaged 84 wins (despite back-to-back seasons of 110+ losses), won four
division championships (in two different divisions), and appeared in six
playoffs. He also set an all-time BDBL record for team wins in a
There appears to be no single
explanation for Sylvester's success. He has deftly mixed expensive
veterans and inexpensive rookies on his roster. He has maintained
a perfect balance of quality pitching and hitting. He has traded
away some good prospects and retained others. He has made some
good trades, and some (but not many) bad. And he has generally
spent his money wisely each winter.
And perhaps that is the lesson to be
learned from Sylvester's tenure in the BDBL: there is no singular
strategy guaranteed to succeed. As Sylvester has demonstrated,
perhaps balance in all aspects of the game leads to the greatest