Monday, October 29, 2007

Season 4 Expansion Teams:AL

The expansion teams for the American League are somewhat less distinguished than their NL equivalents. In constrast to the NL teams, all of which won at least the pennant save the 100-win Diamondbacks, only one of the AL teams even made the postseason, with one not even actually ever playing any major league games...

1982 Milwaukee Brewers:
Pretty much a toss-up between this team and the 1992 team, which consistently finished at or near the top of the qualification leagues by beating up on lesser Brewer teams. I finally played a 1600 game season between these two teams, which Harvey's Wallbangers won by a handful of games. On that basis, plus the relative merits of Yount, Molitor, Simmons, Fingers, Cooper, and Thomas vs. Yount, Molitor... um... Listach? Vaughn? It was an easy call. This team will probably get slaughtered when the season rolls around, but I don't think it'll be worse than the 1992 team would have done. Besides, the 1982 team won the pennant.

1969 Washington Senators: This team did not win the pennant. They finished 4th, a distant 23 games back. However, they did win 86 games, the only time this franchise was over .500 during their tenure in the District. Frank Howard was the big star, Ted Williams the manager. The Senators regressed the following year, and were in Texas shortly thereafter. I expect these guys to get slaughtered as well.

1958 Kansas City Athletics: Slaughter, that's where this team is going to be a Viking. Seventh place in real life, witha .474 winning percentage. But they're the best of the Kansas City A's franchise, and that franchise had a 13-year lifetime, plenty long enough to deserve representation. This is something of an experiment, just to see how such a team would do. They might be replaced in Season 5 with a KC A's all-star squad, but that's looking pretty far ahead. Bob Cerv was the big hitter for this team, which I suppose did finish closer to first place in terms of games behind than the Senators above did.

1937 Santo Domingo Dragons: This is the first team in the Cloverland Leagues that is... nontraditional, shall we say? This is based on a real-life Negro League all-star team that played in the Dominican Republic in a league organized by Trujillo. I'm not sure quite how this'll all work out- the players were grabbed from other teams (in the game sense, I mean, though in real life too), and they might be normalized oddly. But this is a game, I guess, so we'll just give it a shot. I suppose they might do extremely well, but I'd bet they'll be first-division but out of the playoffs. I guess it'll depend on what division they're in. If I go with chronologically-based
divisions, they'd probably end up with the '39 Yankees, '40 Tigers and '30 Athletics? Or the '58 A's? Potentially a very tough division, regardless. But with Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Cool Papa Bell, the upside is very high...

The Dragons are the team that would likely be punted if things change, though it'll depend on the change. If the Brewers have an amazing season in 2008, the '82 team might drop out and a putative '08 team show up in the NL. I'm debating whether the would-be Fremont A's will count as separate from the Oakland version. It may depend heavily on what they call themselves. This expansion will leave only the Devil Rays as an unrepresented long-term team. A good season from them in '08 might put them in Season 4. Or it might lead me to wait, in anticipation of a better Rays team by the time of Season 5...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Championship Series, Game 3

The action shifts to West Side Park in Chicago for Game 3 of the Series. Ron Santo was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch after a brief rain delay, and the Old Styles were flowing. Knotted at a game a piece, the question remains as to which of these star-crossed franchises would provide this year's championship team.

Jack Pfiester took the hill for the Cubs, while Cleveland sent Charles Nagy to the mound, a move precipitated by the loss of Claude Ogea to injury during the ALCS. Indians fans prepared for the worst, as Nagy's regular season record did not give much cause for optimism (11-13, 4.67).

Cleveland struck first in the top of the 2nd as Manny Ramirez (there he is again) singled, moved to second on a fielder's choice, and scored on a throwing error by Joe Tinker. Pfiester bore down after that, but Nagy was pitching the game of his life, throwing 6 2-hit, shutout innings against the National League champions before being lifted for a pinch hitter. In the 8th, Albert Belle hit his first home run of the postseason, giving Cleveland a bit more breathing room.

They would need that breathing room. Chicago threatened against Poole in the 8th, putting two on by a walk to Slagle and a double by Tinker with one out before Solly Hoffman pinch hit for Pfiester. Hoffman sent the ball in the air to right, deep but not quite deep enough as Belle gave the Indians another baserunner kill to end the Cubs threat (and put the West Side Grounds into a stupor). In the 9th, Jose Mesa came on and got two quick outs before a single and miscue by Belle put Frank Chance on 2nd. Steinfeldt's single put the score at 2-1 with Cubs slugger Kling at bat, but Mesa managed to strike him out for the win.

The win put Cleveland up 2 games to 1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 will feature a rematch of Game 1's starters-- Ruelbach vs. Martinez.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Season 4 Expansion Teams:NL

Looking ahead to next season (whenever that will be-- sometime in 2008?), each league will add 4 more teams. I'll probably go with four divisions per league of five teams each, with two rounds of playoffs, but I haven't ruled out five divisions of four teams each, with a wild card and an extra round of playoffs.

The franchises represented here were relatively obvious teams to add. The specific teams were decided in the "usual" way, having all the candidates play one another in a qualification league. Still, one very team snuck in here at the end...

2007 Rockies: Before this month, it was looking like the 2000 team would be Colorado's entry. Though they finished a pretty mediocre 4th, they had the best run differential of any Rockies team. Happily, the current team came along, and in a head-to-head set of ~40 games they handily dispatched the 2000 entry. You know all about these guys. I don't know that they've got much of a chance (depending on the division they're in, I guess), but they're certainly not an embarrassment by any means.

1997 Marlins: World Series winners. They and the 2003 team were really the only competition for the Florida slot, and this team pulled it out. I wasn't a fan of either team, but I guess less Josh Beckett in the Cloverland Leagues is fine with me.

1999 Diamondbacks: Again, a happy acccident that Curt Schilling isn't around, though he's on the 1993 Phillies already. The 1999 team, only the second year for Arizona, stormed to their best record in the desert with over 100 wins (and even more expected). They lost in the playoffs but Randy Johnson had a great year. This is one of only two teams in the league that I've seen in person, the other being the 1986 Mets...

1896 Orioles: One of the most famous 19th century teams, and perhaps the only team in this group with a chance to win it all. They were the rivals of the Beaneaters, and are likely to end up in a killer division with Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and the New York Giants. Often considered the greatest team of all time (pre-1927 Yankees), this team was the last to bring a championship to Baltimore for 70 years.

Barring something crazy, these should be the teams added. There only a few other possibilities: the 1895 Cleveland Spiders, though the teams already present above trump them. If the Washington Nationals have an amazing season, they could displace somebody (Baltimore?). An amazing Milwaukee Brewers season could also do it, though that would cause issues for the American League... Finally, any moves on the part of the Marlins followed by an excellent season could cause their entrance, though all of these possibilities require me to be pretty pokey in getting things underway. Of course, that's a serious possibility...