Saturday, March 25, 2017

Scouting for the Upcoming Draft

One of a good handful of players (Trevor Story) that could go #1 overall on Draft Day.
One of my goals for this blog is to do more all-around pieces of everything APBA. Looking back at last year, I was not pleased that for the second consecutive year, I have done less blog pieces... Although my blog stats show that the blog has been gaining a bigger & bigger supportive audience over this span, I am still not satisfied on my end, with the production.

As my regular readers know, I also run a APBA Baseball computer league (through APBA Baseball for Windows) named 'The Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League' (Initials - BoS) with 16 owners (including myself) with 16 teams. We are now entering our 5th season, and are all preparing for our upcoming 2017 BoS Annual Draft.

This year's draft may be the most loaded-up draft yet, talent-wise. An amazing rookie class with many big-time prospects, plus plenty of free agent veterans are available as well. There is 6 guys that really could go #1 overall, legitimately -- So it will be interesting to see who goes #1 overall with the King Road Kings' selection at the top.

My team could contend for the division this year, if I truly like, and we will still give it a serious go, but our goal is to make the best team possible, so if that means grabbing the best player (upside) available, we will do it in a heartbeat, even if it means not taking the best player that can help now.

My Traverse City Panthers ended up trading both Josh Donaldson & Matt Carpenter before last year's mid-season trade deadline, and we still only ended up 5 games out of the division lead at season's end... Could we have won last year's division title? Possibly, but it really would not have been worth it, the team was getting longer in the tooth, and we needed to create franchise building blocks to help us become more successful in the future.

I was real happy with the return we got in both the Donaldson & Carpenter trades...

  • Josh Donaldson (3B) sent to Fairgrove Tigers along with Nori Aoki (OF) & TC's 6th Round Draft Pick in exchange for Nick Castellanos (3B), Yordana Ventura (SP) & Fairgrove's 1st Round Draft Pick (16th overall); We would later trade the late Ventura back to Fairgrove for that same 6th Round Pick.
  • Matt Carpenter (3B/2B/DH) sent to the San Diego Heroes in exchange for Brandon Drury (IF/OF), Daniel Norris (SP), Yasiel Puig (OF) & San Diego's 3rd Round Draft Pick.
Carpenter helped land some franchise building blocks for the Panthers.
The deal with Fairgrove allowed us to have two 1st Rounders in a loaded first round draft. We also acquired a good pitching prospect, along with a versatile Drury, plus re-acquired former 2014 BoS #1 overall pick Yasiel Puig; The 3rd Round Draft Pick will the equivalent of a 2nd Round pick in this year's draft. 

Our off-season leading up to the draft, started off slowly, as the Panthers traded probable-cut in Derek Dietrich (2B+) to the Portland Microbrewers in exchange for their 5th Round Draft Pick & Jesse Hahn (SP); We eventually traded similar deals, while shipping off other players like Josh Harrison (2B+), Alex Cobb (SP) & Jarrett Parker (OF) for a couple late draft picks. 

We would make a huge deal with the Seattle Rainiers...
  • Kelvin Herrera (RP), Masahiro Tanaka (SP) & San Diego's 3rd Round Draft Pick sent to Seattle, in exchange for Jonathan Lucroy (C), Yasmany Tomas (OF), Brad Miller (1B/SS), Alex Wood (SP) & the 2nd Round Draft Pick (that Seattle acquired in a previous trade with Corktown). 
Lucroy gives Panthers a strong, dependable presence behind the plate

We finally acquired a dependable full-time catcher in Jonathan Lucroy, while we add some power & OF arm in Yasmany Tomas; Brad Miller gives us flexibility to play some future 1B, while playing Miguel Cabrera as the DH. Alex Wood unfortunately did not make the cut for the pre-draft 28-man roster & was released; We'll hope to re-acquire him, all depending how the draft goes... Jesse Hahn was dealt the same fate as Woods. 

The team will have to do 4 post-draft cuts afterwards, but they now have plenty of picks, plenty of pieces to plug, especially with the 5 picks inside the 1st 3 rounds.

Looking at my depth chart, I have the luxury of taking many prospect & risks on high payoffs, and only really need to add some bullpen. I will be looking at the best player available with every pick... in the end, Traverse City may be sitting nice & pretty as a sleeping giant ready to pounce.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fun with Side Projects

Hairston: One-Man Wrecking Machine.
Some of the action that transpired through my APBA projects this past weekend...

APBA 2K9 Project

For my blog followers, as you all know, my APBA 2K9 Project is the best cards of the players from each franchise between the 2009 & 2011 MLB Seasons; I thought about calling it the APBA 2K9-11 Project, but I didn't want people to read into 9-11 too much.

Scott Hairston has been gaining more & more playing time for the San Diego Padres, with players like Chris Denorfia & Will Venable struggling. The Pods also made him their new lead-off man entering their series with the tough Philadelphia Phillies, since their original lead-off man Everth Cabrera has struggled in that role.

That decision proved to be an excellent move, he went 2-for-4 in the 2nd game with a double; It was during the 3rd game that Hairston has officially made him a everyday starter...

Top of the 3rd, he added to the Padres lead with a RBI double... then in the 5th, he smacked a two-run homer off of Phillies starter J.A. Happ. During the top of the 7th, he led off the inning with a triple off of Chan Ho Park -- which led to a 3-run inning, giving the Padres a 7-3 lead at Citizens Bank Ballpark. It would be during the 8th inning that Scott Hairston would make a little history, smacking a single off of reliever Clay Condrey....

Scott Hairston hit for the CYCLE!

I have done this maybe 4-5 times tops, the last one came from Josh Gibson (for the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords) against the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals in my Crazy 48's Project. I have had more no-hitters in my APBA life than cycles, I have rolled close to 20 now, but of course, I do nothing but tons of solitaire projects... so of course, eventually a no-no will pop up; I have never thrown a no-no against an actual human opponent in the dice world, one on one... but back in high school one of my buddies did do it (against me) with Jim Abbott in our inaugural 1991 Season APBA league of 10 teams.

APBA Royalty: Cone put together back-to-back historic performances, back in the day.

In my brother Jared's APBA league, I did something amazing with David Cone, I pitched a no-hitter with Cone as a Royal... his next start, he went to extras & threw for 25 K's! We did a lot of unrealistic things in that league, like starting J-4 Francisco Cabrera, which he hit 27 HR's in 35 games, while my Braves started off 31-4 & Greg Maddux won every start through that point, with a ERA barely over 1.00... LOL! I definitely play with a more realistic approach to the projects now.

Anyways, back to the 2K9 Project....

I also played a double-header between the New York Yankees & Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays were in first entering this thing, but the Yankees would go ahead in both games during the 9th innings, as the Jays' pen keeps imploding -- this time (both games) with Jason Frasor (A-XYZ), giving up 6 earned runs (3 HRs) in 2 innings of work! The last one, being a three-run blast by Alex Rodriguez. These Yankees are loaded with power, for example Hideki Matsui (.879 OPS in 2009) has been hitting 7th in this lineup; The team currently has 15 home runs in 7 games, with 5 players with 2+ HRs each (A-Rod leads way with 3 HR) -- Nick Swisher bats 9th & has 2 HR & 8 RBI, while he is currently batting .364 (8-for-22)!

2K9 Beasts: The New York Yankees will be tough to beat, all year!

Back to the Padres-Phillies series -- Adrian Gonzalez (SD) hit his 4th & 5th HR, while he has 11 RBI for the season... Pedro Feliz (Phillies) went 5-for-7, 2 HR, 2B, SF & 7 RBI in his last 2 games, while filling in for injured Placido Polanco.

Crazy 48's Project - "Battle by the Bay"

The 1993 San Francisco Giants (11-17) & the 2002 Oakland Athletics (9-19) are at the bottom of the Jeter (Stripes IV) Division in the Stripes League; San Francisco all year long has been a streaky bunch plagued with injuries to players & currently hold a 7-game losing streak, while Oakland just has a hard time scoring runs.

The Crazy 48's League has 48 teams playing a 48-game season, with 4 divisions in each league, while the top seeded 8 teams (all division winners automatically clinch playoffs) in each league, go on to the playoffs. The remainder of the schedule will be down to division match-ups, so some of these division bottom-dwellers can start making up some ground now, with little room for mistakes.

Zito was in command for awhile until the wheels came off.
A day after I rolled a cycle with Hairston in the other project, Barry Zito for the "Moneyball" Athletics was pitching a no-no through 7 innings, although he did allow 4 walks in those inning, while Oakland had a 2-0 lead off of a two-run 2nd Inning double by Terrance Long. The wheels ended up coming off in the 8th inning as the Giants' #8 hitter Darren Lewis led the inning off with a double, followed by an RBI double by weak-hitting 2B (filling in for injured Robby Thompson); Royce Clayton, the 3rd hitter of the inning, smacked a RBI single to right, to tie the game, as Willie McGee collected a single. 4 consecutive hits off of Zito, after none allowed the 1st 7 innings, and he has yet to collect an out. The Giants would add a sac fly by Matt Williams, to give the Giants a 3-2 lead.... Todd Benzinger would hit a 9th Inning insurance HR during the top of the 9th, to help the Giants to an eventual victory.

For Benzinger (filling in for an injured Will Clark), it was actually his 1st HR in the season (29th game of season), which is pretty late considered the pop he has on his 1993 APBA card.

Injuries was the early focus in this series, as the series started off with Will Clark & Robby Thompson on the disabled list for the first two games in Oakland... while the Oakland Athletics were without Eric Chavez for the first 2 games as well.

With their Game 1 victory, the Giants snapped a 7-game losing streak, that seems to be the theme with this Giants team, untimely injuries & quite streaky. They started the season 3-0, then lost 6 straight, then won 6 straight & now they just got over a 7-game skid; These Giants have the potential to be one of the toughest teams, and then other days they just don't show up.

San Francisco would win Game 2, led again by the worst two bats in their lineup in Darren Lewis (2-for-4, 2 runs & SB) & Mike Benjamin (2-for-4, two-run double), as the Giants win 5-3.

Beck, one of the more solid closers in his day.
The series shifted across the bay to Candlestick Park, as Eric Chavez hits a home run in his very first at-bat from injury, for his 5th HR of the season, he is tied with Miguel Tejada for the team lead in RBI with 19 RBI. That would be all the highlights for Oakland though, as they lose 2-1, as the Giants once again score their runs late (7th & 8th innings) to steal another away from Oakland.

Oakland would be shutout in the last game, as Jim Deshaies pitched 7.1 innings of shutout ball, the Giants fared no better (with only 3 hits), as the Giants win 1-0; Rod Beck entered the series with only 4 saves for the season & would double his amount to 8, as he was called upon the entire series sweep of their bay rivals. Bill Swift logged the series opener victory in his start, and during his one inning of relief in Game 3, he logged another victory; Swift is 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA for the season.

The 2002 Athletics now have the worst record among all 48 teams of the Crazy 48's, with a 9-23 (.281 pct) record; The 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers (8-20/.286 pct) have a slightly better record. The Giants, meanwhile, are now 15-17 with some slight postseason hope, but are still a few games from the edge of the playoff bubble that is being controlled by teams that are consistently better, such as the 1953 New York Yankees (17-11) -- who still need to play their current series against the 1971 Oakland Athletics.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Game #100 (APBA 2K9 Project)

Nelson Cruz (center) has 5 HR for the Rangers in 8 games.
The APBA 2K9 Project has just finished its 100th game of the season (April 12th), with the Pittsburgh Pirates' 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The APBA 2K9 Project is the best cards from the 2009, 2010 & 2011 APBA Baseball Seasons, with the player representing the team he spent the most time with during that period.

We had a good jump start on the season prior to the Chicagoland Summer Tournament, but then slowed down with other projects, while the holidays took over. Now we have picked things up by playing a few games tonight.

This is how both league's standings appear...

The Oakland Athletics ended the Los Angeles Angels' 5-0 start, and now have a 5-game winning streak of their own;The Milwaukee Brewers have won 5 straight as well (N.L.'s longest streak) while the Arizona Diamondbacks have been a huge surprise in the N.L. West.

The N.L. East looks to be a dog fight & is currently close from top-to-bottom, while the Houston Astros are still looking for their 1st victory of the season at 0-7.

***  Still to Come.... Greater Michigan APBA Baseball weekend posts!  ***

Monday, March 13, 2017

Odd Birds

As word is breaking out about 40+ participants already signed up for next year's 4th Annual Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (GMABT IV), people are picking the teams they feel have the best shots at next year's title.

2018's GMABT theme will be 'Only 1973-Present American League Teams (DH Era)'

I was late a few times on my selection, I turned in my slip for the 1987 Detroit Tigers at the event, to find out, I just missed out on them by a half-hour. I got home, and the very next morning I saw that the 2001 Seattle Mariners were still open (or I thought) -- the list just wasn't updated yet, my friend Darren Schulz beat me to the punch.

The Picking Process

Tough Choice: Hosmer & KC out.
It's strange where choices lead to, I just bought both the 1993 & 1997 APBA Baseball Season sets recently off of GMABT III Finalist & APBA HOF'er Greg Wells for a total of twenty bucks. While I was digging through Baseball Reference for my A.L. choice, I looked over numerous teams, I glanced over the 1979 Milwaukee Brewers and the 1981 Detroit Tigers (which I acquired the 1981 APBA Baseball set off of my good friend Kenneth Heard)... The Tigers offense lacked punch, while the Brew Crew had plenty of punch, but a B-C-C rotation would be tournament suicide.

I looked over other teams, and I never really even got to 2000 & beyond on Baseball Ref, I think I knew I wanted something prior to 2001, except I did look awfully long at the 2015 Kansas City Royals, but I remember numerous people that have played that team have had some bad luck. 

While looking over the Royals, my newly acquired 1997 set was in front of me, and I quickly noticed the Baltimore envelope in front of me, went through the packet and noticed plenty of 22-7 & 44-7's at the top part of the order, decided to go back to Baseball Ref and see if the stats were great, and the top 6 of the lineup is exactly how I remembered it, this could be a fun & gritty team.

The Roster

A deep veteran-laced ball club that is strong in fundamentals, led by Cal Ripken (left).

All B rotation with 2 Z's, led by Mike Mussina's B-XZ, plus 3 'A' relievers in Armando Benitez, Jesse Orosco & Randy Myers, plus a B reliever in Arthur Rhodes.

The lineup will likely go as follows / Fielding 41 when Mussina pitches:
  1. Brady Anderson (CF) - .288 AVG, 18 HR, 73 RBI & 18 SB (.863 OPS)
  2. Robby Alomar (2B) - .333 AVG, 14 HR, 60 RBI & 9 SB (.890 OPS)
  3. Harold Baines (DH) - .301 AVG, 16 HR, 67 RBI (.832 OPS)
  4. Rafael Palmeiro (1B) - .254 AVG, 38 HR, 110 RBI (.815 OPS)
  5. B.J. Surhoff (LF) - .284 AVG, 18 HR, 88 RBI (.803 OPS)
  6. Cal Ripken (3B) - .270 AVG, 17 HR, 84 RBI (.733 OPS)
  7. Chris Hoiles (C) - .259 AVG, 12 HR, 49 RBI (.794 OPS)
  8. Jeffrey Hammonds (RF) - .264 AVG, 21 HR, 55 RBI & 15 SB (.809 OPS)
  9. Mike Bordick (SS) - .236 AVG, 7 HR & 46 RBI (.601 OPS)
47 combined All-Star appearances for the above, and that's not counting the fact that Chris Hoiles never played in an All-Star Game, while Mike Bordick & Jeffrey Hammonds has. It is pretty astonishing that Hoiles never got such an honor, while his career produced 23.4 WAR & .833 OPS!

Geronimo Berroa will be an interesting bench option, he will not split time at DH with Baines, but if I do get in desperate need for some offense, I would sacrifice defense by taking Bordick out of the lineup, move Surhoff from left to third, Ripken from third to short & place Berroa in left. 

The lineup is fielding, a fielding 2 when Key & Erickson pitch regardless -- by taking Bordick out of the lineup, the team is still a fielding 2. I may just play Bordick, when Mike Mussina pitches.

Geronimo Berroa's 1998 Leaf Baseball Card.

Lineup with Geronimo Berroa (minus Bordick):
  1. Brady Anderson (CF) - .288 AVG, 18 HR, 73 RBI & 18 SB (.863 OPS)
  2. Robby Alomar (2B) - .333 AVG, 14 HR, 60 RBI & 9 SB (.890 OPS)
  3. Harold Baines (DH) - .301 AVG, 16 HR, 67 RBI (.832 OPS)
  4. Rafael Palmeiro (1B) - .254 AVG, 38 HR, 110 RBI (.815 OPS)
  5. B.J. Surhoff (3B) - .284 AVG, 18 HR, 88 RBI (.803 OPS)
  6. Geronimo Berroa (LF) - .283 AVG, 26 HR, 90 RBI (.836 OPS)
  7. Cal Ripken (SS) - .270 AVG, 17 HR, 84 RBI (.733 OPS)
  8. Jeffrey Hammonds (RF) - .264 AVG, 21 HR, 55 RBI & 15 SB (.809 OPS)
  9. Chris Hoiles (C) - .259 AVG, 12 HR, 49 RBI (.794 OPS)
The remarkable thing with this lineup (above), is that there are only two players (Ripken & Hoiles) who are below an .800 OPS... this lineup has the strength to rake, as long as I am rolling hot.

The Bench
  1. Eric Davis (OF) - .304 AVG, 8 HR, 25 RBI & 6 SB (.883 OPS) in 158 at-bats.
  2. Jerome Walton (OF) - .294 AVG, 3 HR & 9 RBI (.775 OPS) in 68 at-bats.
  3. Aaron Ledesma (IF) - .352 AVG, 2 HR & 11 RBI (.937 OPS) in 88 at-bats.
Aaron Ledesma's card is very interesting with 22-7, 44-7 & 55-7, plus a 42-9, 35-9 & 62-14, providing 3 trips to second columns, with 8 1's. Eric Davis & Jerome Walton are single-column cards that provide good pop (Davis: 11-5, 33-5, 66-1 & 22-6).

The rotation will feature: 
  1. Mike Mussina (B-XZ): 15-8, 3.20 ERA, 218 K / 54 BB & 1.117 WHIP (224.2 IP)
  2. Scott Erickson (B-Z): 16-7, 3.69 ERA, 131 K / 61 BB & 1.259 WHIP (221.2 IP)
  3. Jimmy Key (B-Y): 16-10, 3.43 ERA, 141 K / 82 BB & 1.375 WHIP (212.1 IP)
Erickson, Mussina & Key stretching out their legs & preparing for 2018.

It appears that Manager Davey Johnson went 4 strong with Mussina, Erickson, Key & Scott Kamienicki for most part -- The 5th slot of the rotation was numerous APBA tourney rejects; Unfortunately Kamienicki does not make the cut as a flat Grade C Starter, I have no real reason to have him on the roster, it would be something else if he was a lefty, I could use him in that role (but not necessary). With Ledesma's hot J-4 card, I will also leave vet infielder Jeff Reboulet off the roster -- Reboulet by far is the better fielder, but is a liability at the plate with his .636 OPS.

The Bullpen
  • Arthur Rhodes (B*-XYZ): 10-3, 3.02 ERA, 1 SV, 102 K / 26 BB & 1.059 WHIP (95.1 IP)
  • Armando Benitez (A*-XYW): 4-5, 2.45 ERA, 9 SV, 106 K / 43 BB & 1.255 WHIP (73.1 IP)
  • Jesse Orosco (A*-XW): 6-3, 2.32 ERA, 46 K / 30 BB & 1.172 WHIP (50.1 IP)
  • Randy Myers (A&C*-X): 2-3, 1.51 ERA, 45 SV, 56 K / 22 BB & 1.156 WHIP (59.2 IP)
My strategy with the bullpen will come down to what part of the lineup that I am facing in late-game situations, if its the weaker part of the lineups, I will have the W's (Orosco & Benitez), while I will have Rhodes battle more with the tougher outs. The goal is no easy base-runners, simple outs.

The Challenge

When I look more & more at this team, and while I have been putting this blog piece together even, I feel very comfortable about my 2018 GMABT IV pick. I know my pick of the 1997 Baltimore Orioles wasn't ideal, nor were they a personal favorite. Sure... I didn't go for safer choices, I feel picking teams like this, really makes you a better APBA manager & gives a manager a bigger challenge.

There are some participants that pick strictly 'safe' choices every single tournament & then they play 'APBA-Ball' by placing lineups that were completely not used by those actually teams, placing all their OBP & OPS at the very top of the lineup.... to me, that's just completely unrealistic, while at the same time, how can that even be satisfying?

I think this team could be very similar to my choice of the 1993 Atlanta Braves, I have pretty set lineups, rotations & solid pens. 

1997 Orioles are looking forward to celebrating in March 2018.
I found out after my first few tournaments with the 1912 New York Giants & 1917 Chicago White Sox, that juggling lineups while in the middle of tournament action does not lead to any consistency, I feel when I have played with consistent lineups in the past, I have had far better luck.

The main goal is to always have fun at these tournaments, but I would be lying (and others would be lying) if I was to say that winning it all, is not on my agenda.

Forever Linked: GMABT II Champion

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Rolling Again in Michigan! (GMABT III Results)

Group photo of the GMABT III Participants.
They say third time's a charm, and for me (and for many others) that may have been the case, I felt it was the best Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament yet -- this coming from the guy who won last year's event! It was extra special for me, because I brought my lovely wife, Becky Baier to the event this time; She had the privilege to witness me in my APBA Baseball haven, among my APBA brethren. The funny thing is, I barely got any sleep the night before & we had to leave by the time the playoffs was kicking off... yet, I still had the best time!

Once again the event was top notch, thanks to my friend, Pastor Rich Zawadzki who knows how to run a smooth tournament. My wife mentioned that everyone was "Warm, kind & welcoming" and she couldn't have said it better, it's good to hear this from someone who is on the outside looking in -- Entering this she didn't know Joe from Jane, but she enjoyed meeting many of my APBA friends, and understands why this tournament is special to me & those around me.

This year's theme was 'Deadball Teams' between 1901-1919' -- 38 total teams, broken down in 6 divisions; 3 Division Winners & 1 Wild Card playoff team representing each side of the bracket -- 8 teams get in, and shoot for their attempt to be part of Greater Michigan history.

Here is the results of the opening Round Robin...

On the left side of the bracket, the top seed went to Greg Wells' 1909 Chicago Cubs, who went 6-2; Wells is no stranger to APBA Baseball or APBA Tournament success, he is a APBA Hall of Fame Member, has won the APBA National Tournament (at least once) & has won both of the Linda B. Schulz (Pittsburgh) APBA Baseball Tournaments (hosted by my friend Ken Schulz). I'm not sure or aware of any other successes in APBA Baseball that he may be involved with, but there could be more; His son Brian Wells participated in the 1st GMABT, and like his old man, he is also a APBA Hall of Fame winner & APBA National Tournament winner.

I would purchase the 1993 & 1997 APBA Baseball sets off Wells at this event for a total of $20. Many guys were unloading APBA sets & team sets at this event... even Strat-o-Matic cards! Shhh...Don't tell Big Brother! Although, I didn't talk long with Greg, I do hope he returns in the future, so that people like myself can get to know him more in the future. That's what I love about these events, getting to know more & more people that share the same passion for this great game. By the way, the purchase would lead to my GMABT IV Team selection, more to come on that (in a future blog).

L to R: Wendell Watkins, Egan, Kelley, Darren Schulz & Beckman of Mathewson Division.
My friend Wendell Watkins would have to face Wells in the 1st Round as the left side's wild card winner; His team would be the 4th seeded 1916 Boston Braves. I had the privilege of facing Wendell in my first GMABT, while in the second tourney I had to face his 1969 Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs; Rich Z had to fill in for him as manager, as Wendell & his brother David Watkins (another stand-up guy) had to catch their train.

Steve Ryan's 1915 White Sox (left) hosting Randy Egan's 1913 Athletics.
Randy Egan (above in the two pics) won the Christy Mathewson Division with a 5-3 record (Watkins came out of same division as the wild card); The division had a three-way tie at top with a 5-3 record, it was Jack Beckman's 1908 Detroit Tigers that ended up being the odd team out. Egan (#3 seed) would have to be on the road against Steve Ryan's #2 seed 1915 Chicago White Sox. I also had the privilege of talking to Steve briefly, we have been Facebook friends (but never met in person prior), I have seen him & his name all over the APBA-verse from time to time -- Come to find out, we have been in a computer league named the NXPL (No Expansion Professional League) for the last 3 seasons, and I didn't realize it, hahaha!

While the left-side of the bracket was kicking things off, on the right-side we had the following 1st-round action taking place....

The top seed on the right side, belonged to the youngest playoff contender in Camron Shaffer, with his 1916 Brooklyn Robins, going 7-1 (best record among all GMABT III Playoff contenders). Shaffer is the grandson of Robert Mosher, who both are no strangers to the GMABT Playoffs, I played both of them in my championship drive last year -- while Mosher has made the playoffs every year of the GMABT's existence, so far! Mosher brought it to my attention, that the last two years, his teams have been sent packing by a Baier; My brother Chris eliminated his 1985 St. Louis Cardinals & then I defeated his 1988 New York Mets, 13-6 in the GMABT II Championship Game.

Grandson & Grandpa: 5 GMABT Playoff Appearances combined (3 years).
After both Grandson & Grandfather made history last year, by both throwing no-hitters... this year, they made history again, as it was Grandson vs Grandfather in the opening round! Mosher would be the #4 seed (Wild Card) with his 1918 Boston Red Sox (5-3).

The winner of the 'Mosher Family Playoff Championship' would have to play the winners of #3 seed Aaron Radlinski (1902 Pittsburgh Pirates / 5-3) at #2 seed Ken Schulz's 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates, who won our Walter Johnson Division, with a 6-2 record.

There was plenty of love for the Pittsburgh Pirates at this tournament, through competition...

  • 1901 Pittsburgh Pirates (Shawn Baier)
  • 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates (Aaron Radlinski)
  • 1908 Pittsburgh Pirates (Phillip Silvis)
  • 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates (Ken Schulz)
  • 1912 Pittsburgh Pirates (Darren Schulz)
... while many Pirates fans made the trip to Jackson, Michigan from Pennsylvania in the form of two families, the Schulz boys (Ken & Darren) & the Silvis family (Brian & Kate, plus their son Phillip).

Ken Schulz & Radlinski (foreground), with Darren Schulz & Ron Emch (back end table, L-R).
Speaking of the Silvis family, big props to Kate Silvis who filled in admirably for Dave Rueck's 1913 New York Giants; Dave could not join us due to a family matter (Prayers & thoughts with his family). Brian & Kate's son Phillip Silvis brought the 1908 Pittsburgh Pirates, he is part of the new wave of young APBA players among Camron Shaffer (mentioned above) & Zander Robetoy (1915 Detroit Tigers). 
From L-to-R: Zander Robetoy, Phillip Silvis & Camron Shaffer.

1st Round Results:
  • 1909 Chicago Cubs (Greg Wells) defeats 1916 Boston Braves (Wendell Watkins).
  • 1913 Philadelphia Athletics (Randy Egan) defeats 1915 Chicago White Sox (Steve Ryan).
  • 1916 Brooklyn Robins (Camron Shaffer) defeats 1918 Boston Red Sox (Robert Mosher).
  • 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates (Aaron Radlinski) defeats 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates (Ken Schulz).

After the dust settled in the 1st Round, the Final Four appeared as this...

The 1909 Chicago Cubs (Greg Wells) would go on to defeat Randy Egan's 1913 Athletics, while on the other side, Aaron Radlinski's 1902 Pirates would stop the young phenom Camron Shaffer from advancing any further, with his 1916 Brooklyn Robins

Randy Egan (13' Athletics) vs Greg Wells (1909 Cubs)

Camron Shaffer (1916 Brooklyn Robins) vs Aaron Radlinski (1902 Pirates).

Then there was two: Aaron Radlinski against Greg Wells.
The GMABT III Championship 

The final game came down to Aaron Radlinski against the Hall-of-Famer Greg Wells, not to take anything away from Aaron's trip to the finale, I believe anyone that has to go against Wells, would have be considered the underdog in such a match-up. The game would be a low-scoring squeaker, with Aaron's 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 9th; Cubs had two quick outs, but then came the dice, a triple, then a walk & the very next batter would be a dice-roll of 65! So close for Wells, but Radlinski wins this one!

Congrats to Aaron Radlinski, as this year's GMABT Champion, out of 38 contenders, he stands alone at the top... Also congrats to Rich Zawadzki for throwing an excellent tournament!

More GMABT III Action to come...
  • Consolation Tournament Results
  • Plenty of Photos
  • My wife's blog piece 
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