Category Archives: Personal

Speakers at Lemonheads

Game 1 – The Speakers open the scoring against Hisashi Iwakuma on the first two batters of the series. Anthony Rizzo doubles and Buster Posey singles him home.

After Chris Archer walks a pair to start the 2nd, he battles to get 2 outs without the runners advancing. Then Neil Walker powers an RBI single to tie.

With 2 outs and nobody on the 6th, JD Martinez and Brandon “I Could Use a” Belt single. Matt Duffy laces an RBI double, but Belt is gunned at the plate by Ian Kinsler’s perfect relay.

Kinsler chases Iwakuma following a leadoff single in the 7th. Will Smith Ks Rizzo, but then the wheels come off. RBI single, walk, and Kris Bryant’s RBI double chase Smith. Pinch-hitter Chris Young greets new Lemonhead Cody Allen with a 2-run single through the drawn in infield. The crushing 4-run inning puts the Speakers on top, 5-2.

Belt’s 8th inning sac fly gets us to the final score, 5-3. Jeremy Jeffress retires all 6 Lemonheads he faces for a 2-inning save.

Posey (4-5, 2 RBI) gets singles each of his first 4 ABs (8,7,9, 8) before striking out in the 8th. JD Martinez (2-3, D, 2 R, BB) leads the ‘Heads.

W – Archer (5-3); L – Iwakuma; S – Jeffress (2)

Game 2 – Posey’s RBI double gives Jesse Hahn a 1st inning lead, which he graciously returns when Lemonheads prospect, Joey Gallo strokes a clutch 2-out RBI single in the bottom half. The Lemonheads pile on in the 2nd. JT Realmuto’s RBI triple and David Peralta’s 2-run double give the Lemonheads an early 4-1 lead.

Francisco Liriano walks Posey with the bases loaded in the 5th. The Speakers score a pair to close the gap to 4-3.

After Hahn retires the first two hitters in the bottom half, Realmuto and Walker single, sending Hahn (4.2 IP, 11 H, 6 ER) to the showers. Brett Cecil comes on, which prompts Manager Bob to pinch hit Travis Shaw for Charlie Blackmon. Shaw connects for a 3-run homer to give the Lemonheads a commanding 7-3 lead!

Shaw turns from hero to goat in the 7th as he bobbles Mookie Betts’ grounder to 1st to lead off the inning. 5 unearned runs later, including Manny Machado’s 3-run shot (10), the Speakers take a slim 8-7 advantage.

After Cecil and Trevor Rosenthal keep the ‘Heads off the scoreboard in the bottom half, Betts strikes for a 1-out double. Pinch hitter Yoenis Cespedes triples him home and scores on a 2-out single, Posey’s 4th RBI.

The Lemonheads go 1-2-3 in the 8th. Chris Owings 9th inning triple leads to a Duffy sac fly, but the Lemonheads fall short, 10-8. Darren O’Day gets the save, but surrenders a run for the third consecutive outing.

Realmuto (4-4, 2 D, T, RBI, 2 R) collects 8 total bases as the Lemonheads out-hit the visitors, 14-10. From the cleanup spot, Posey (2-3, D, 4 RBI, BB) now has 6 RBIs in the series.

W – Rosenthal (1-0); L – Liriano; S – O’Day (2)

Game 3 – Rizzo homers in the 3rd (10), but Owings triples home Belt in the 4th to tie 1-1. Owings tries to stretch his second triple of the series into an inside-the-park-homerun, but Carlos Gonzalez wings the ball to Kinsler, who nails the former Speaker at the plate.

Machado hits #11 in the 7th to break the tie. After the stretch, Owings and Walker single back-to-back. Realmuto hits a sac fly to left to re-tie at 2-2. Blackmon quickly unties the score with a huge 2-run homer. Lemonheads lead, 4-2.

Joaquin Benoit relieves Cody Anderson (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 HR) and promptly walks Betts to start the 8th. Rizzo follows with his 11th HR to re-tie at 4-4. Two outs later, Bryant slams his 8th homer to put the Speakers back on top, 5-4.

JD Martinez singles to start the bottom half, but Roberto Osuna retires the next 6 Lemonheads to complete the sweep, 5-4.

Posey adds 2 more hits (8 for the series). Of the Speakers 7 hits, 3 go for singles while 4 leave the park . The Lemonheads total 9 hits, including 2 more triples, a homer, and 2 perfectly placed hit-and-run singles.

W – Carlos Martinez (7-2); L – Benoit; S – Osuna (1)

Arrogant Bastards vs. Unhinged Wahoos

The bizarre start to the AB’s season continued on last evening in Linglestown as the Wahoos finally broke spring camp, hopped aboard their rocket ship and ‘crash’ (ok, maybe the AB’s did the crashing) landed in Rascal’s litter box…. BTW, Rascal greeted his company with purrs and a kicking dump!!!

And away we go….

Game 1
Hamels v Cole… In the bottom of the first Joe Panik and Kevin Pillar crash into each other and Panik is killed for the series while Pillar gets to continue on.  So the AB’s play with a 24-man roster for the final 35 innings of the series!!!  The game is scoreless until the 5th when the AB’s get a Pillar single followed by a stolen base.  Forsythe walks; and with 2 outs, Trout reaches on an error by Soler plating Pillar.  Agone follows with an RBI single only to be outdone by a Ginger Jesus 3-run jack to cap off a 5-run inning for the AB’s.  Fowler hits a solo shot in the bottom of the frame and Edwin would double home Eaton in the 8th.  But Cody Allen comes on with 1 out in the 9th to save the win for Hamels while Cole takes a tough luck loss.  5-2 AB’s.

Game 2 delayed by Mother’s Subs.

Game 2
Scherzer v Kluber… Again the game is scoreless until the 5th when the Wahoos bust out with a Blanco walk, Crawford single, a McCann 2-RBI double, Eaton singles in a run but is later cut down at home by a Trout to Andrus to Swihart hook up…. But it’s a 3-0 lead until the top of the 8th…which didn’t end until the bottom of the 8th was over.  Look, I said it bizarre.  With two outs we forgot to have Kluber have his 5 point bump for 7 consecutive innings, so what was the final out by Parra with runners on 1st and 3rd became an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-1.  Up steps Bret Gardner who rolled a 33-0 followed by a 2nd column 7, which plated only 1 run instead of possibly two.  The AB’s went 1-2-3 in the 9th as Andrew Miller saved it for the winner Kluber as Scherzer took the loss.

Game 3
Miller v Burnett… The scene shifts to the AB’s home park and bizarre takes on a new meaning… again.  The Wahoos plate a run in the first on a lead off double by Fowler and RBI single by Abreu.  They had a BB and another hit in the inning but somehow only managed 1 run.  Trout led off the bottom of the 1st with a single and later scored on a 1st and 3rd comebacker to the pitcher by Big Papi.  In the 2nd a foul pop over by the AB’s dugout became another crash test for dummies as Agone ran over Russell Martin…. Agone left the game while Martin was done for the series.  AB’s go the rest of the game with a 22 man roster (remember Panik?).  With 2 outs in the 2nd, the Wahoos load the bases on walks; and with Arenado up, a ball bounds away from Swihart who hustles after the ball and fires to Miller covering the dish for the final out.  In the 4th Blanco leads off with a walk and tries to score on a double by Crawford, but this time it’s Trout to Russell to Swihart as Blanco is gunned down at the plate.  In the 6th, Blanco hits a 2-out double and again tries to score–this time on a single by Crawford–but is gunned down once again by Trout (3rd OF assist of the series).  In the bottom of the 6th Big Papi gets a HR turned back (+31).  But in the bottom of the 7th Kevin Pillar hits a 2nd-column solo HR for the 2-1 AB’s lead to make a winner out of Matt Thornton with a save for Wade Davis.  Burnett takes a tough luck loss.

Game 4
Salazar v Iglesias… Once again the teams remain scoreless until the 5th when the Wahoos break through with back-to-back HR’s by Soler (a -12 gift HR) and Dozier for a 2-0 lead.  In the bottom of the 6th the AB’s load the bases with a BB, BB, E3…, but the Wahoos turn a rare play double play to limit the AB’s to only 1 run in the inning.  The game remains 2-1 until the bottom of the 9th when Forsythe leads the inning off by getting plunked by Miller.  Andrus follows with a hit and run 63 single to put runners on the corners with no one out.  Trout rolls an 11-1 and Miller fails to turn it back as Mike drops his dice and makes a beeline for Rascal for comfort.  AB’s walk off with a 4-2 win to make Matt Thornton the winner again as Miller suffers the loss.

The AB’s stretch their record to 10-6… and may look for an opponent for next week.

Like I said the bizarre continued…the injuries, the rare plays, 4 Wahoos cut down at the plate in the series, and 3 timely home runs for the AB’s that basically won the series in a total team effort for the walking wounded.

Hitting

Today our service will be evaluating hitting. It is the 4th offensive category we have examined that all factor into scoring runs. Our service believes that hitting in the OOTL has evolved to the point where it may be the most important of the 4 scoring factors. If you look at last season, the two teams which dominated the entire season and met in the Championship were also the two best hitting teams. The third best hitting team, The Plague, also made the playoffs. In the past it seemed like OBP, Power and Speed played a greater focus. The Tsunamis won 4 Championships but only 3 of them with good hitting teams. Our service is not sure that in the new OOTL this could be done again as easily. Last season’s best Power and pitching team, the Wahoos, missed the playoffs due to struggles with hitting. We still do think that an average hitting team with great power, OBP and speed has a shot at glory, but it is much harder today than it was in the past. Some reasons include improved bullpens, the draft strategy evolution of cheater starters and relievers and the rules now limiting SB attempts.

Again, with this analysis we chose to take an easier directional approach rather than evaluating every number on every card in each team’s lineups projected vs. lefties and righties. We decided to look at four factors: three of them objective and a subjective analysis only coming into play in one area. The areas being evaluated are as follows:

1) MLB Average +.300: We believe this area will capture the players most likely to have the extra 11’s, 10’s, E opportunities and RP’s. These players on average will have less K’s; and therefore, runners will be moved more easily.
2) 7 or better at 44: With our all-star staffs and bullpens, the 7 or better at 44 is a huge advantage over an 8. It shakes out the players who may be better in MLB than the OOTL because they were bogged with 10’s instead of the 7.
3) 7 or better at 55: This is another bonus that usually is reserved to good hitters who do not steal. In the OOTL the 7 at 55 is a goldmine.
4) Pluses vs. L and R: This is the subjective analysis, but is an equalizer for players with significant 8’s. A team with strong pluses can make up for deficiencies in the above three ratings.

Below is a chart based on our findings. The pluses category grade is either a plus, even or a minus representing each team’s collective value and number of plus players. On another note, an interesting finding was that there are no teams this year which grade out terrible vs lefties. As we discussed in another report, there are usually 1-2 teams which will struggle greatly vs. lefties. There are certainly teams where it makes sense to pitch or not pitch a LHSP against this year, but all teams will have a good opportunity to compete.

Hitting-Chart

BEST HITTING TEAMS:

1) Asian Tsunamis: Once again the Tsunamis are at the top of an offensive category. This team is loaded with Power, BB and hitting. Our service believes they are positioned to break the OOTL runs scored record this season. The question is whether it will be enough to offset their opportunity areas. Their only hitting limitation is a lack of strong pluses and number of pluses vs. both RHP and LHP.

2) The Plague: The strongest in the league with the most .300 hitters are loaded with 11’s. However, a below average number of 7’s at 44 will cause trouble against top-rated pitching. The Plague will still be a strong hitting team and–combined with their speed and OBP ratings–will still score runs. The question mark will be whether that will be enough to overcome the lack of power and 7’s at 44.

THE NEXT BEST:

3) AB’s: With three .300 hitters and eight 7+’s at 44 this team looks strong offensively. Added to that is a large number of plus players with several large vs. splits. Combining this with strong OBP and speed grades should make for some interesting shootouts. Good enough for an “A” rating in most years but are in the “B” group to differentiate from the Asians and The Plague, which simply have more weapons.

4) Wahoo’s: A huge improvement over last year’s team in hitting. With 3 players having 7+ at 55 the Wahoo’s should be strong enough to score many more runs this year.

AVERAGE:

5) Speakers: The Speakers head up this group and therefore the overall race has gotten much tighter. The 2 players with 7+ at 55 and a crew of strong pluses will make an impact, but with only 5 players having 7+ at 44 this team will go through some run scoring droughts. However, the Speakers strong speed and Power ratings along with the 7’s at 55 should allow this team to still compete for one of the top spots. Their overall lead though has narrowed significantly from this category.

6) Shooting Stars: Right there with the Speakers but slightly below the next best group. A strong plus rating and additional 7 at 44 will be complimented by the Stars strong OBP rating.

7) Lemonheads: Docked a couple of spots due to limited pluses of regular players but basically tied with the two teams above from a hitting perspective. Lower BB and Power ratings will means less runs for this team overall.

8) Lyme Bees: Very close to the above three teams but no 7’s at 55 this year will hurt run production. A huge step down this year for this team over last year.

THE REST:

9) Browns: Again no 7’s at 55 hurt but a strong plus contingent will help push in runs. Overall limitation of 5 players with 7+ at 44 will cause some droughts. Moving runners will be key to the Browns success.

10) Eliminators: Another big drop off from last year. Only one .300 hitter and 5 players with 7 at 44 and none at 55 will make for many low scoring efforts. Again moving runners will have to be the equalizer for this group.

One thing we should stress is that there are many ways to win in the OOTL and many ways to engineer runs. No team is grading out overall where they have no chance to make the playoffs. Each team has different strengths and different opportunity areas. Trades can also change things dramatically overnight. The race for the top three seeds has now tightened up considerably. All other teams still have a shot at the 4-5 seeds. The Bullpen category remains as the main factor left to impact the overall ratings. In the next edition we will make a left turn and look at youth and top prospects. In this service’s opinion, it takes a minimum of two years to build a championship contender; therefore, this will be an important analysis for the future as well as for the top teams as this group will also be trade resources!

ASSN

Another OOTL Loss

It’s been almost exactly ten years since OOTL lost its first active owner, Carl Williard and his Mountaineers. This morning we learned that the beloved Birds of Pray owner, Bob Silks, has entered the OOTL Baseball Hall of Fame. He and Kathy endured much over the past several months, yet consistently exhibited a positive outlook.

Despite treatments and appointments, Bob faithfully continued to play his OOTL schedule. Occasionally, he would ask me a cancer-related question and we’d discuss his condition, but mostly, we immersed ourselves in the game that both of us love. Our only interruptions would be due to our dogs’ needs for a loving scratch or a trip outdoors.

Where I use a convoluted Excel workbook, Bob would always tally his team’s statistics by hand. Yet at any point while we were playing, he could surprise me with the most impressive, insightful stat about his team or one of his players. I truly savored those moments.

Through Kathy and Bob’s generosity, I was able to attend my first Orioles Fan Fest in 2014 with a long-time friend who nearly always dons O’s gear. That day, Birds of Pray superstar Chris Davis startled me by excusing himself and breezing right beside me on his way to an autograph session.

Bob also offered me tickets to a 2015 game against the A’s at Camden Yards. I asked another friend and huge O’s fan, to accompany me. We witnessed an incredible Baltimore 9th inning comeback to tie and a Manny Machado walk-off a few innings later.

Soon after I met Bob and he joined OOTL, we had a chance opportunity to actually play baseball together at Doubleday Field in Perry County in 2004. Two newly acquainted, passionate baseball fans, many of our mutual friends from WITF, throw-back wool uniforms and John Kruk combined for a special sun-soaked Saturday in May.

While Bob is now whole and at peace with Nikki, Molly and other loved ones, Kathy and the rest of us cling to all of our rich, fun memories with Bob. I am so thankful that he stayed with us through the weekend so family, friends and his OOTL family could visit.

Rest in peace, my friend.