Thursday, January 31, 2013

APBA Tournament: Aaron Bracket Preview (Part 2)

(Part 2 of the Aaron Bracket Preview)


1902 Pirates would have won 120 in today's game!
1902 Pittsburgh Pirates (3)
2002 Oakland Athletics (14)

It's "Dead-ball" (Pirates) vs. "Moneyball" (Athletics), two teams separated by a century of baseball history, changes in the game -- two different eras, and two different perspectives when we now look at the game, and it's heroes.

The 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates happened a year before the birth of the World Series, the Pirates managed by player/manager Fred Clarke went on to win the National League with an astounding 103-36 record (.741 winning percentage), that would be the equivalent of a 120-win season in today's 162 game format! The team is led by Clarke with the famous Honus Wagner, as well as Ginger Beaumont. Beaumont went on to win the N.L. Batting Title with a .357 clip & led the league with 193 hits (He would lead the league three other times in the future). To be honest, never heard of the guy (Beaumont)-- another interesting thing of the Pirates' lineup is Tommy Leach (Third Baseman) has 22 triples!

The rotation is stellar with a young Jack Chesbro (28-6, 2.17 ERA & 136 K's), Deacon Phillippe (20-9, 2.05 ERA & 122 K's), Jesse Tannehill (20-6, 1.95 ERA & 100 K's), Sam Leever (who is on the All-Time PIRATES franchise APBA set) is the #4 starter with a record of 15-7 & 2.39 ERA, and their #5 starter is Ed Doheny (16-4, 2.53 ERA). Are you kidding me? I'm not sure if too many teams rotations will be able to stack-up against this staff, the one problem is there is virtually no bullpen -- So chances are Leever & Doheny will probably work in relief. The top three worked a combined 789.1 innings!

Looking at their team, I start to question if I should have had them higher than three. I had the 1912 New York Giants at #1 in the bracket, and the 1906 Chicago Cubs as #2 -- So it's pretty tough to say who is the best out of these three teams, because any one of these teams could be a legit #1.

The 2002 Oakland Athletics were not expected to keep up their success after the departures of Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon & Jason Isringhausen -- but they were not expected to be horrible (even if it seems the movie made them out to be almost as bad as Charlie Sheen's "Major League" movie Indians at times). They still had three young studs in the rotation in Barry Zito (who went on to become the 2002 A.L. Cy Young), Tim Hudson & Mark Mulder. Zito would go on to win 23 games, with a 2.75 ERA & 182 K's (not to mention a nasty curveball!), while Hudson (15-9, 2.89 ERA & 152 K's) and Mulder (19-7, 3.47 ERA & 159 K's) went on to very respectable seasons. Not to mention, the team had Miguel Tejada (who won the A.L. MVP in 2002) with a monster season of .308, 34 HR & 131 RBI's! Of course, for movie-selling purposes -- Tejada and Zito's performances were never mentioned in even a sneeze-worth of information; the more and more I think about this and the fact that the team also had Eric Chavez at the height of his powers makes me a bit frustrated now. But anyways... this is not Hollywood.

PREDICTION: The Pittsburgh Pirates will be a bit too much for the Athletics, 3-1.

The Cubs' "Four Horsemen" - Hornsby, Hack, Kiki & Stephenson.
1929 Chicago Cubs (6)
1968 Detroit Tigers (11)

This is a match-up of polar opposites. The 1929 Chicago Cubs have a loaded lineup with three players (almost four) with over a 1.000 OPS (On-Base Pct + Slugging), but their pitching is not so great with 3 B starters in the rotation and a 4.16 Team ERA (The highest in the entire tournament); while the 1968 Detroit Tigers have a relatively weak lineup of a .697 OPS (Only 8 teams have a lower OPS, most are from the "Dead-Ball Era"), yet a terrific pitching staff with a 2.71 Team ERA (Only 8 teams are better than that)!

The Cubs are led by 1929 N.L. Most Valuable Player - Rogers Hornsby, who batted a whopping .380, while smacking in 39 HR's & 149 RBI. Hack Wilson tied with Hornsby with 39 HR's, led the team with 159 RBI -- while batting .345. Oh it gets better, Riggs Stephenson batted .362 with 17 HR & 110 RBI's & Kiki Cuyler (led the league with 43 stolen bases) while batting .360, with 15 HR & 102 RBI's. That is four players with over 100 RBI's each, while Cuyler's .970 OPS missed out on being the fourth over 1.000, while Hornsby (1.138), Wilson (1.043) & Stephenson (1.007) all made the mark.

The problem is the team has no bullpen, their best being Hal Carlson (a APBA grade C-YZ) with a 5.16 ERA!

The Detroit Tigers (for a team with a .697 OPS) has a surprising four batters over 20+ HR's, led by Willie Horton's 36. Bill Freehan (25), Norm Cash (25) & Jim Northrup (21) provide the rest of the pop. Al Kaline's time and game has been decreasing by 1968, but still had a respectable .820 OPS, while batting .287 with 10 HR & 53 RBI in 327 at-bats.

31 Wins in 1968 for McLain, the pinnacle of his career.

The team of course is anchored by the last 30-game winner in MLB history in Denny McLain (an APBA grade of a rare A&B-XZ)! McLain had 31-6 record, 1.96 ERA & 280 K's in a league-leading 336 Innings pitched. Follow that up with Mickey Lolich (17-9, 3.19 ERA, 197 K's -- and three WS wins that would forever win the hearts of Tigers fans) & Earl Wilson (13-12, 2.85 ERA & 168 K's). The bullpen may even be more stellar with 5 APBA Grade B & aboves (3 of the relievers being Grade A's!) -- Those men being John Hiller, Roy Face, Don McMahon, Pat Dobson & Daryl Patterson.

PREDICTION: After the top 4 studs + Charles Grimm in the Cubs lineup, the lineup drops off considerably, in where the Tigers in no way match up in OPS, have a bit more balance in the lineup, and level off well from #1 through #8, plus the much better pitcher staff by leaps and bounds -- I'm going to go with Detroit in five! The Detroit Tigers also have a nice piece on the bench in Gates Brown (.370, 6 HR & 15 RBI in 92 AB's -- a 1.127 OPS!).

1957 Milwaukee Braves (7)
1971 Pittsburgh Pirates (10)

1957, The pinnacle of the Braves success in their Milwaukee days, the team had a winning record each season during it's entire time from 1953 through 1965. The team is anchored by veteran ace Warren Spahn and two young stars in the lineup in Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron. The 1957 Milwaukee Braves would go on to win the World Series over the New York Yankees, and fail to repeat against the same Yankees in 1958, falling short 4-3 in the series.

Milwaukee's Best: Mathews & Aaron.
The 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates are led by Latin superstar Roberto Clemente (who would unfortunately perish not long after this season - New Year's Eve 1972) and young star Willie Stargell (.295, 48 HR & 125 RBI). 

The two teams are pretty balanced against each other:
  • Pittsburgh: .274 BA, .333 OBP, .749 OPS & 154 HR's, with a team ERA of 3.31.
  • Milwaukee: .269 BA, .329 OBP, .771 OPS & 199 HR's, with a team ERA of 3.47.

PREDICTION: I'm going to go with the rankings, and give the Braves the edge, 3-2. Pittsburgh appears to have a better 1-4 rotation & more depth in the bullpen... so it could go either way.

1906 Chicago Cubs (2)
1915 Philadelphia Phillies (15)

Considered one of the greatest teams of all-time, The 1906 Chicago Cubs won 116-36 (A pace of 124 wins during a 162-game season)! The team of course featured the famous trio of Tinker-Evers-Chance, the famous early poem by Franklin Pierce Adams. The team also featured 3 20-game winners, a 19-game winner & 17-game winner; plus two 12-game winning pitchers as well!

Here is the rotation, with their APBA Grades:
  • Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown (A&C-XZ): 26-6, 1.06 ERA, 3 SV & 144 K's (277 IP).
  • Jack Pfiester (A-X): 20-8, 1.51 ERA & 153 K's (250 IP).
  • Jack Taylor (A-R): 20-12 & 1.99 ERA in 302 Innings.
  • Ed Reulbach (A&C-YW) 19-4, 1.65 ERA, 3 SV (218 IP).
  • Carl Lundgren (A-YW): 17-6, 2.21 ERA, 2 SV, 103 K's (207 IP).
  • Orval Overall (B-X): 16-8, 2.74 ERA, SV, 127 K's (226 IP).
Good luck to anyone that has to go against that! The team ERA is the best in the entire tournament with a ridiculous 1.75 ERA! Unfortunately the 06' Cubs choked against the "Hitless Wonders" Chicago White Sox in the World Series.

Grover "Pete" Alexander won't be enough for the Phillies.

The 1915 Philadelphia Phillies are led by Gavvy Cravath and starting pitcher Grover "Pete" Alexander, but the team had 26 less victories than this Cubs team. The Phillies did have a team ERA of 2.17 (tied for 3rd best) though, that is certainly nothing to sneeze at! It's the team's .247 batting average that will be a concern against the Cubbies.

PREDICTION: The Phillies might get one victory, but the series will be all Cubs!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

85' Blue Jays vs. 93' Giants (APBA Tourney)

Practically two identical teams playing in the first-round of the Wagner Bracket, the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays (#8 seed) vs. the 1993 San Francisco Giants (#9 seed).

These two teams are smack dab in the middle of the overall rankings in the tournament, and match-up almost identical in all major statistics:

  • Toronto: .615 winning pct, .269 AVG, (.334 OBP / .425 SLG) .759 OPS, 158 HR & 144 SB's, with a 3.31 ERA & +171 run differential.
  • San Fran: .636 winning pct, .276 AVG, (.343 OBP / .427 SLG) .770 OPS, 168 HR & 125 SB's, with a 3.61 ERA & +172 run differential.

at Toronto / Exhibition Stadium

Dave Stieb took the mound for the Jays, facing off against Bill Swift who had a surprising season with teammate John Burkett for the Giants in 1993. Stieb won 14 games while striking out 167 batters, with a 2.48 ERA; Swift went 21-8 with a 2.82 ERA, with 157 K's.
Swift was durable for S.F. through six.

Top of the 1st
Second Baseman of the Giants, Robby Thompson (batting second) got it started early with a solo Home Run  to left off Stieb. Giants 1, Blue Jays 0

Bottom of the 3rd
After a lead-off double by Catcher Ernie Whitt, Rance Mulliniks singles in the tying run. 
Giants 1, Blue Jays 1

Top of the 7th
Stieb appeared to be on cruise control after allowing the solo HR to Thompson in the first, the only hit he allowed in the game entering the 7th, then things got shaky. Barry Bonds led the inning off with a single to right, and followed that up by stealing second base; which Willie McGee drove him home on a single two batters later. Which brought up Designated Hitter Mark Carreon up to the plate with one out, in which he hit a clutch 2-run HR  ending Stieb's night on a bad note. Carreon, had a productive bat in 1993 in limited play (.327, 7 HR & 33 RBI with a .913 OPS) of 150 at-bats! Giants 4, Blue Jays 1
Carreon hits clutch HR in the seventh.

Bottom of the 7th
Dave Burba and Trevor Wilson would come in and put on back-to-back base runners for the Jays in relief (with a single and walk) at the beginning of the bottom of the seventh; which led to the Giants to go back to the bullpen and plug-in Mike Jackson, who then gives up a walk to load the bases for weak-slugging Second Baseman Damaso Garcia -- with no outs. Damaso will do the job by driving in a run on a sac fly, but Toronto would fail to capitalize off the Giants any further in the inning. 
Giants 4, Blue Jays 2

Bottom of the 8th
Willie Upshaw, who already had a single and double in three trips to the plate would hit a solo Home Run off of Giants reliever Kevin Rogers. Giants 4, Blue Jays 3

Top of the 9th
The Jays hoping to stay within striking distance keep Dennis Lamp out there for another inning, after a successful 8th inning -- hoping to come up unscathed in the 9th, that would not happen as Lamp gave up a solo blast to Barry Bonds, a much-needed insurance run. Giants 5, Blue Jays 3

Bottom of the 9th
The Giants bring in their closer Rod Beck, who gets the job done with his second K of the inning against Jesse Barfield. Giants win Game 1.

93' GIANTS         5
85' BLUE JAYS  3
WP - Swift (SF) / LP - Stieb (TOR) / SV - Beck (SF)

  • Bill Swift (SF) allowed only one run during his 6  innings of 6-hit ball (with only 1 K).
  • Barry Bonds (SF) went 2-for-4, HR, RBI & SB.
  • Mark Carreon (SF) was the Player of the Game with his clutch 2-run shot in the 7th inning, going 1-for-4.
  • Willie Upshaw (TOR) was a Triple short of the Cycle (Going 3-for-4, RBI)
  • Ernie Whitt (TOR) went 2-for-3, reaching base 3 times (BB) with a double & single.

at Toronto / Exhibition Stadium

The Blue Jays hope that Jimmy Key (14-6 & 3.00 ERA) can even up the series against John Burkett (22-7, 3.65 ERA & 145 K's), before having to head off to San Francisco. The Jays' George Bell & Jesse Barfield went a combined 1-for-9 in Game 1.

Top of the 2nd
Matt Williams hits a solo blast off of Key for first blood in Game 2. Giants 1, Blue Jays 0

Top of the 3rd
With Royce Clayton (Shortstop) on second base, Robby Thompson gets his second hit of the game, by knocking in Clayton with an RBI single. Two batters later, Barry Bonds would hit a triple into the right field corner; Thompson scores. Giants 3, Blue Jays 0

Thompson had a mammoth Game 2.

Top of the 4th
Leading off the 4th, Willie McGee gets on with a single, which is followed up by an RBI double by the catcher Kirk Manwaring (his first hit in 5 series at-bats). The wheels continue to fall off for Key & the Jays in the fourth, as  Royce Clayton would smack a double to left-center driving in Manwaring; which ended Key's night (a quick 3.1 innings!). Bill Caudill would come in to relieve as he would get Darren Lewis to fly out for the second out of the inning; with 2 outs and Clayton still on second, Thompson would get his 3rd hit of the game & second RBI of the game with an RBI double. Jays would get Will Clark to ground out to stop the bleeding. 
Giants 6, Blue Jays 0

Top of the 5th
Barry Bonds leads off the fifth with his 2nd HR of the series (4 hits & 3 RBI in his last 7 at-bats!), already the Giants' 10th hit of the ballgame. Giants 7, Blue Jays 0

Top of the 6th
With 2 outs, and Dave Martinez on third base; Robby Thompson belts a 2-run homer (for his 2nd HR of the series), he is now 4-for-4, with 2 doubles & 4 RBI during the game! Both Thompson's HR and Bonds HR in the 5th, came off of Jim Clancy in relief. Giants 9, Blue Jays 0

Top of the 7th
Matt Williams who led the inning off with a double, would score off of Kirk Manwaring's single.
Giants 10, Blue Jays 0
Upshaw has been the only Jay to show up in the series.

Bottom of the 8th
The Blue Jays finally get some runs on the scoreboard. Shortstop Tony Fernandez got things started by getting his first hit of the series (in 8 at-bats) with a two-out triple, Jeff Brantley (who started the inning in relief) then walked Jesse Barfield. George Bell followed with a 2-run double; which was then Willie Upshaw smacked a triple into the left field corner to score in Bell. Upshaw is now 4-for-8, 2 RBI's against the Giants during the first two games. 
Giants 10, Blue Jays 3

93' GIANTS        10
85' BLUE JAYS   3
WP - Burkett (SF) / LP - Key (TOR)

  • Robby Thompson (SF) was the Player of the Game, going 4-for-5, HR, 2 2B's, 2 runs & 4 RBI's!
  • John Burkett (SF) pitched six scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits.
  • The Giants had 18 hits, while also getting on base due to 4 Bases-on-Balls.
  • Matt Williams (SF): 3-for-5, HR & 2B, RBI.
  • Barry Bonds (SF): 2-for-4, HR, BB & 2 RBI (.556 OBP during first 2 games).
  • Royce Clayton (SF): 3-for-5, 2B, RBI.

at San Francisco / Candlestick Park

The Blue Jays need to win the last three games, or they go home. For two teams, that matched up beautifully coming into this series, it's been all Giants as the series shifted back to San Francisco. Toronto will send Doyle Alexander (17-10, 3.45 ERA & 142 K's) to the mound against Scott Sanderson (11-13, 4.21 ERA & 101 K's) of the Giants.

Top of the 2nd
Jesse Barfield led off the second with a double, Ernie Whitt would drive him in with a single. Tony Fernandez with no outs, would hit an RBI double, and pitcher Doyle Alexander would help his own cause with an RBI single. Damaso Garcia would get the fifth consecutive hit in the inning, while the Jays still had no outs. Rance Mulliniks would hit into a double-play, and Lloyd Moseby would fly out to end the inning. The Blue Jays already have 7 hits, one more than they had in all of Game 2! The inning could have been a lot worse for the Giants, are the Jays' bats finally waking up? Blue Jays 3, Giants 0

D.Alexander (TOR)

Bottom of the 2nd
A solo Home Run for Matt Williams (his 2nd HR) off of Alexander. Blue Jays 3, Giants 1

Top of the 8th
Blue Jays bats went quiet after 2nd inning outburst, first hit since would be during this inning by Outfielder George Bell, as a single; Jays fail to score.

Bottom of the 9th
Matt Williams strikes again with solo HR off Jays closer Tom Henke, with no outs. Henke & the Jays would survive by getting McGee, Clayton & catcher Jeff Reed all to ground out.

85' BLUE JAYS   3
93' GIANTS          2
WP - D.Alexander (TOR) / LP - Sanderson (SF) / SV - Henke (TOR)

  • Doyle Alexander (TOR): 7 IP, 4 H, ER, 6 K & 2 BB's; 1-for-3, RBI.
  • Matt Williams (SF): 2-for-4, 2 solo HR's (3 solo HR's for series).
  • Barry Bonds (SF): 1-for-2, 2B, 2 intentional walks.
Matt Williams has 3 of the Giants'  8 long-balls so far -- during the series.

at San Francisco / Candlestick Park

It's a Game 1 rematch between the Jays' Dave Stieb and the Giants' Bill Swift. Stieb hopes to fare better, in hopes of bringing this series finale back to Toronto.

Top of the 2nd
Willie Upshaw, who actually was quiet in Game 3, leads off the inning with a solo HR off of Swift. The 2nd HR & 3rd RBI for Upshaw in the series. Blue Jays 1, Giants 0

Top of the 5th
Rance Mullinks smacks an RBI double to score in Tony Fernandez from first (who reached on a single).
Blue Jays 2, Giants 0

Top of the 7th
Rance Mullinks strikes again with an RBI single, this time off of relief pitcher Bryan Hickerson. Tony Fernandez once again scores for the Blue Jays. Blue Jays 3, Giants 0

Stieb pitched great in Game 4 for Jays.

Bottom of the 7th
The Giants have actually gone quiet, scoring only 2 runs in their last 17 innings -- entering this inning. That all changed with Matt Williams scoring from 3rd on a sac fly from Kirk Manwaring. Blue Jays 3, Giants 1

Bottom of the 8th
Dave Martinez gets a lead-off single pinch-hitting for pitcher Bud Black. Mark Carreon comes in and pinch-hits for Royce Clayton, and once again comes up clutch by hitting an RBI double off of Dennis Lamp. Blue Jays 3, Giants 2

Bottom of the 9th
The Blue Jays bring in their closer Tom Henke, who survived Game 3. Willie McGee leads off the bottom of the inning with a double, Henke strikes out Manwaring. Darren Lewis steps up to the plate, who was placed 8th in the lineup for Game 4 due to his .083 AVG in 12 at-bats, and currently was 0-for-3 & facing off against Henke. Lewis ends up lacing an RBI double to left, driving in McGee -- the game is tied! The Jays would eventually get out of the inning. Blue Jays 3, Giants 3

Bottom of the 10th
After the Jays went down 1-2-3 in the 10th, The Jays keep Henke in & Todd Benzinger flies out to start the bottom half. Stepping up to the plate is Barry Bonds (batting .417 in 12 at-bats, 2 HR, 3 RBI), who has been intentionally walked three times this series (including once this game) -- the Jays have a conference at the mound, and the manager Billy Cox decides to let Henke pitch to Bonds. Big Mistake! Bonds drills the ball to the left-field stands as Candlestick erupts! A Series walk-off for a player that in real life always came up short in the post-season! THE GIANTS ARE MOVING ON!

The Jays were up 3-0 during the "7th Inning Stetch", and the Giants bullpen came up big as the lineup clawed it's way back with a dramatic ending!

Bonds watches the series winner go into the stands.

93' GIANTS           4
85' BLUE JAYS    3    (10 Innings)

  • Dave Stieb (TOR): 6 Innings of 2-hit, scoreless pitching (4 K's & 1 BB).
  • Rance Mulliniks (TOR): 2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI.
  • Willie Upshaw (TOR): 2-for-4, HR, 2 SB's.
  • Willie McGee (SF): 2-for-4, R, 2B
  • Bill Swift (SF): 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 K & 3 BB.
  • Darren Lewis (SF): 1-for-15 (.067 BA) entering clutch 9th Inning at-bat (RBI Double)
  • Barry Bonds (SF): Walk-off HR, 2 BB's.
SERIES RECAP:  93' GIANTS defeat 85' BLUE JAYS, 3-1!
  • Barry Bonds (SF): 6-for-13 (.462 AVG, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB's, 2B, SB). His On-Base Percentage was .611 & his Slugging Percentage was 1.385; which made his OPS of 1.996 off the charts!
  • Matt Williams (SF): .375 AVG (6-for-16), 3 solo HR's, 2B.
  • The Giants' bullpen during last 2 games: 1 ER, 5 hits allowed 8 Innings.
  • Tom Henke (TOR): 3 ER, 4 H & BB allowed in 2.2 IP;  a lousy 10.13 ERA (1 SV, 1 BS & Loss)
  • Bill Swift (SF): 1-0 record, 2.25 ERA, 9 H, 3 ER & 4 K's in 12 IP.
  • Willie Upshaw (TOR): .400 AVG, 2 HR, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI & 2 SB's & 6 hits.
  • Mark Carreon (SF): 2 clutch hits in Game 1 & Game 4 (3 RBI).
  • Blue Jays Outfielders (Bell, Moseby & Barfield): 7-for-43 (.163 BA), only 2 RBI!
NEXT OPPONENT: The Winner of the 37' New York (A) (1) / 14' Boston (N) (16) series.

Barry Bonds was off the charts against the Blue Jays.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sports Legacies

Still winners in my book, despite what the media says.

So there was a lot of discussion about Peyton Manning on the sports radio stations, and how his legacy has been "tarnished", and now with Tom Brady going home (once again) not a Super Bowl champion -- it really got me looking at the legacies talk. I have not tuned into any of the sports radio or ESPN, but I'm sure somewhere it has already been discussed as well.

Do I think Peyton Manning's legacy been tarnished? No. This is the thing, many players, many great players have spent an entire NFL career without ever winning the Lombardi Trophy -- Manning, is not only one of the most accomplished passers in the history of football, but he already has won one (over the Bears), and lost a close one to the Saints. A Saints team by the way that was led by another future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees. It's well known that Dan Marino went to only one Super Bowl and that was a defeat by another great quarterback in Joe Montana & the San Francico 49'ers -- He didn't win a title, and I have to say Marino had quite the legacy!

People keep calling Peyton Manning a loser, and also like to point out that his brother Eli Manning, has two titles now, and a better career post-season record. It's true he does, but this is what happens in pro sports, we live in a world where Trent Dilfer (former Ravens QB) has a ring, and Marino doesn't. Sometimes it's just the way the cookie crumbles.

You can never take away what Tom Brady has accomplished in the NFL, from his unexpected splash into the NFL by taking over for Drew Bledsoe, to winning 3 Super Bowls in 4 years (making the New England Patriots the 2nd team to do that). The last title has actually been for the 2004 Season (January 2005 over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX) -- It doesn't seem that long, because the Patriots have always been in the mix.

Here is a look at Brady's career at a glance:

  • 2000 NFL Draft: 6th Round Draft Pick (compensatory pick); I actually remember the preview magazine, and it mentions him in a brief sentence as the 3rd QB on depth chart behind Tim Rattay.
  • 2001 - Bledsoe gets hurt, Brady hit his stride in his 5th career start (after two disappointing starts), passing for 2,843 yards & 18 TD's. The Pats would go on to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl.
  • 2002 - No playoffs, lost tie-breaker to the New York Jets.
  • 2003 - Defeated the Carolina Panthers in XXXVIII for 2nd title.
  • 2004 - Third title in four years, defeating Philadelphia. The Patriots would set a record 21 straight wins dating back to 2003 season.
  • 2005 - defeated by Denver in Division Playoff Game.
  • 2006 - Mounted a comeback against the Chargers, down by 8 with eight minutes left in the 4th, the Patriots would win 24-21 over a favored Chargers team. The Patriots would lose in the AFC Championship against the Colts, after leading at the half 21-6.
  • 2007 - The Patriots would have an undefeated regular season of 16-0, and failed to match the 73' Dolphins in their quest for a "perfect season", by losing to Eli Manning & the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
  • 2008 - Brady's season would come to a quick end midway through the first quarter of the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. 
  • 2009 - Tom Brady set an NFL record 5 TD passes in the 2nd quarter against the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots would demolish the Titans in a snow storm 59-0 (it tied the NFL's biggest margin of victory since the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger. Brady went 29/34 & 380 passing yards, for a nearly perfect passer rating of 152.8! The team would get knocked out by the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Wildcard Game.
  • 2010 - Tom Brady signs $72 million contract (4 years) making him the NFL's highest paid player ($48.5 million guaranteed). No Playoffs in 2010.
  • 2011 - Became 4th player to pass for 5,000 yards in a single-season (finishing with 5,235 passing yards), returned to the Super Bowl for first time since 2007 season, to once again lose to the New York Giants.
  • 2012 - Defeated by the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship.
Now people can sit there and say it's been 8 years, though! Tom Brady can go on to not win another and that wouldn't hurt anything when it comes to his legacy, has it all lost a bit of the luster? Sure, but there is not many that can sit there and say 'Hey, I've got three rings, and tied Joe Montana for 5 starts by a QB in a Super Bowl'. People still dread the Patriots, and know that they are always a contender -- they've been so dominant it's definitely hard to believe it has been 8 years since their last title. Remember the Yankees' Derek Jeter started his championship dominance almost on the same wave-length as Brady. Brady won three titles in 3 of 4 years, Jeter won 4 during a 5-year stretch, the Yankees would do the same thing and start failing to win the title, after losing to Arizona in 2001, they would also lose the World Series to the Marlins in 2003, blow a 3-0 ALCS series lead to Boston, and have other early post-season exits, until finally winning it once more in 2009 over Philadelphia. Yet, that drought never hurt Jeter or the Yankees' legacy. The Yankees, just like the Patriots are always in the mix. Who's to say that Brady won't get another shot?

Jeter was always winning, while the Braves only won one.

Now, not only am I a Detroit Tigers fan, but I also love the Atlanta Braves as well. Do I look at the Atlanta Braves of the 1990's as a failure? No, sure they probably should have won more titles, but another force risen in 1996 in the New York Yankees. Plus a few game decisions or differences in a few plays, could have changed all that -- in 1991, during the key Game 7 of the World Series where Jack Morris pitched his 10-Inning gem, and Gene Larkin got the game-winning hit... it could have been different, if Chuck Knoblauch's psyche-out on Braves' base-runner Lonnie Smith did not work, plus who knows what could have happened in a threatening inning in which Kent Hrbek clearly pulled Ron Gant off the base to pick off the runner? We were up 2-0 in the 1996 World Series. Then there is the Marlins in 1997, in which Livan Hernandez got a strike zone in the size of the Titanic! You still can't take away the fact that, Atlanta set a professional sports record by winning 14 consecutive division titles!

It's all a few plays difference, same can be said going back to Brady and the Patriots -- both losses to the Giants came down to two spectacular catches (one by David Tyree & the other by Mario Manningham) -- Plus a couple key plays in earlier post-season exits, it's truly amazing that Brady actually doesn't have 5 rings right now!

Bills' Trio of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas & Andre Reed in the 1990's

If Peyton Manning won against Baltimore and went on to win the Super Bowl, we would be talking what a winner he is, and not having the media and fans calling him a loser. People focus too much on the current -- 'What have you done for me, lately?' routine, we focus too much on the negative. The Cleveland Browns in the mid-80's would fall victim to Denver back-to-back years, people always point out the Earnest Byner fumble, and not the fact he was a good all-around running back that helped get them there. People focus on the fact that the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls, instead of the fact that they were the best from their conference for 4 straight years, and the fact that they had to play the "NFC Beast" (the old nickname for the NFC East during that time of dominance) in the form of the New York Giants (86', 1990 Super Bowl Champs), Washington Redskins (1987, 1991 Super Bowl Champs), and the Dallas Cowboys (92'-93' & 1995 Super Bowl Champs) from 1990 to 1993. The Detroit Pistons won the 2004 NBA Finals, and probably should have at least won another (against the Spurs), but no one can take away that they went to six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals (which is only 2 behind the NBA record of 8 consecutive Conference Finals behind the Los Angeles Lakers).

The big, bad Pistons were a force to reckon with.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is we should embrace the positive than the negative, especially when that player or franchise has brought so much positive success in the first place. We have places like Pittsburgh who is dying to see the Pittsburgh Pirates just reach above .500 ( a winning season) to break their American Sports franchise record of 20 consecutive losing seasons, so don't be surprised to see their fans act like they have won the World Series, when they win Game #82!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Heritage League Standings

You may see some posts about my Heritage League rosters and 'go huh?'  I'm updating the rosters on the Heritage League Page on the main menu for The Boys of Summer post, I am also still doing the tournament (so don't worry!) -- So this was a good moment to send out an update, by sending the current standings as of January 24th.


  • NEW ENGLAND DIVISION: Buffalo Bisons (13-6) First, winners of 5 straight & 3 games ahead of the 10-9 Providence Grays (Second Place). Followed by the disappointing Philadelphia Quakers at 9-10 (4 GB), fourth-place New Haven Knights 8-10 & last place Boston Pilgrims (8-11) who looked like they were starting to roll, until losing two straight to Providence.
  • NEW YORK DIVISION: So far in this young season, no particular team in this division can seem to take control, the Hudson River Hawks (8-8) show the most promise of late by winning five straight games. They are tied with three teams in first, the Bronx Bombers, The Giants of Manhattan & Brooklyn Dodgers, all 8-8; while the Staten Island Sluggers' bullpen continues to implode, the team is better than it's 8-10 record, who have the best run differential in the division (+17).
  • ATLANTIC DIVISION: Louisville Colonels (10-6) can increase their lead with their upcoming series against the last place Washington Senators (6-10), Washington's offense (.233 BA / .725 OPS) is one of the worst in the E.L., and have a negative run differential of -18. St.Petersburg Suns are better than their 8-8 record with one of the league's better pitching staffs, and the Richmond Rebels (7-9) have shown they have an explosive lineup.
  • CENTRAL DIVISION: This division is already showing it's going to be a dog fight between the Detroit Wolverines, Cincinnati Red Stockings & Indianapolis Federals. The Feds are probably the most dangerous team, doing great with the bat and pitching! All are tied at 9-7, except for the apparent weak link in the division -- the Cleveland Warriors at 6-10 (3 GB).


  • MIDWEST DIVISION: This division is up for grabs with no one taking clear control, five teams separated by 2 games. The St. Louis Browns are currently in first at 9-7, followed by the Chicago Nationals at 8-8, K.C. Monarchs & Milwaukee Braves are at 8-9, with the Memphis Blues in last place at 7-9.
  • SOUTHERN DIVISION: The two teams that are setting the tone in this division are the Arlington Rangers and Oklahoma City Bandits, each at 10-6. The Topeka Tornadoes have been playing better of late, and now have evened their record at 8-8, while Babe Ruth & the Birmingham Barons (7-9) can't get their bats going with a horrible .180 batting average & .626 OPS! The Houston Colt .45's are in last, and it'll be interesting to see if newly-acquired (but struggling) Joe Morgan can get Houston turned around, who are batting .217 as a team.
  • NORTHERN DIVISION: The Portland Fire were looking like they were off and running at 9-2, and have suddenly came to an halt at 10-6, losing 4 of their last 5 games. The St. Paul Whitecaps (who lost to Portland earlier 3-1 in a series) is within a game again, with the Seattle Pilots. The Colorado Rockies have been a bust to this point, at 6-10!
  • PACIFIC DIVISION: The San Diego Stars (9-7) appear to be the team emerging from this mess of a division, with one of the two best team ERA's in the entire league. Their bats have also came around, as they won three straight games. The Los Angeles Angels are 8-8, while the Bay Area Athletics, despite hitting a great .327, have had a rocky bullpen and are now 7-9! The Phoenix Heat can't figure anything out, while being outscored by 41 runs!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rest in Peace to Earl & Stan "The Man"

The Baseball world is mourning with the deaths of two greats of the game, I just found out about both an hour ago via Facebook.

Stan "The Man" Musial passed away at the age of 92. He still remains fourth all-time in career hits with 3,630 hits (and has the most hits for playing with one team), he is also tied with Willie Mays for a record 24 All-Star Game selections. He has 3 World Series rings (1942, 1944 & 1946) and has won the N.L. Batting Title seven times! Also finished his career as a three-time MVP & was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
An image of the SN cover.

I actually own a Sporting News of my favorite player Tony Gwynn with Stan Musial, Gwynn would end up passing Musial with 8 N.L. Batting Titles for his career (tying himself with Honus Wagner for 2nd all-time & most N.L. titles). The cover says "The Naturals", and it was a very interesting article, sitting with two class acts in the game of baseball.

Earl Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles for 17 years, for the franchise's most successful run during it's history in the Majors. During his time at the helm, he won 58% of his games, winning 1,480 games, 4 A.L. Pennants (1969 - 1971, 1979) & a World Championship in 1970, over the Cincinnati Reds. His #4 was retired by the Orioles, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

We will miss both, but their spirits will live on in the Baseball world.

Friday, January 18, 2013

APBA Tournament: Aaron Bracket Preview (Part 1)

Hank Aaron is still the all-time HR King in my book, he did it naturally, and he did it with a lot of class as well. Aaron left the game with 755 HR's & as is still the all-time RBI leader (2,297) & total bases leader (6,856)!


"The Big Six" Christy Mathewson is featured twice in the tournament.
1912 New York Giants (1)
1971 San Francisco Giants (16)

They might be Giants?! Well, yes they are, but from two different coasts -- Christy Mathewson, Red Ames & Hooks Wiltse, all return for the 1912 New York Giants (all three were on the 1904 team that's in the Ruth Bracket) as they face off against Willie McCovey, (an aging) Willie Mays & the 1971 San Francisco Giants. The Giants also have Bobby Bonds (.288, 33 HR, 102 RBI & 26 SB's).

The New York version is the far superior team, almost 40 points higher in Batting Average (.286 to .247), almost 50 points higher in OPS (.755 to .709) , and has the most stolen bases for a team in tournament play with 319! The only thing the San Francisco squad have is almost 100 more HR's (140 to 47), but trail by almost 80 points in ERA for pitching.

Yes, Gaylord Perry (16-12, 2.76 ERA) & Juan Marichal (18-11, 2.94) is a great one-two punch, it wasn't their best seasons (still very respectable seasons) -- but they are facing Christy Mathewson & Rube Marquard.

PREDICTION: With all the spreads, I just don't see the San Francisco Giants having much of a chance against their New York counterparts of 1912; looking at a sweep here, maybe one win coming from Perry or Marichal.

The Need for Speed: Vince Coleman & Co.

1985 St. Louis Cardinals (8)
2002 Anaheim Angels (9)

It's Whitey Herzog's "Whitey Ball" Cardinals verses the 2002 Anaheim Angels and the "Rally Monkey" (Not to mention the thundersticks!). The Angels would storm back against the Giants in the 2002 World Series, while the Cardinals had to fight back (a bad call) and the Kansas City Royals in 1985.

The 1985 St. Louis Cardinals were built on speed, with five players over 30 stolen bases each! Vince Coleman led the league with 110 steals, while Willie McGee had 56, followed by Andy Van Slyke (34), Tom Herr (31) & Ozzie Smith (31); while pop was limited with Jack Clark leading the Cards with 22 HR's, followed by Van Slyke's 13 HR's were good enough for second on the team, with McGee's 10 & Darrell Porter's 10 (tied for 3rd). Tom Herr led the team in Runs Batted In with 110, despite only 8 HR's.

The Angels have more power than St.Louis, plus a bit of speed. The lineup was carried on the most part by Troy Glaus (.250, 30 HR & 111 RBI), Garret Anderson (.306, 29 HR & 123 RBI), and Tim Salmon (.286, 22 HR & 88 RBI). Unlike the Cards, the Angels had no players over 30 steals; the men who paced the base-paths were Darin Erstad (23 SB's), David Eckstein (21 SB's) & Adam Kennedy (17 SB's) -- but in comparison St. Louis had three times the steals, while Anaheim had twice the power.
The famous Rally Monkey trying to get Halo fans excited!

The Angels had a better average, while both teams were near identical on On-Base Percentage. The Cards had a better ERA than Anaheim (3.10 to 3.69) and a much-better top three starters in their rotation, in fact I would say their top three didn't get enough credit for the team's success. John Tudor had a huge year in where he went 21-8, 1.93 ERA in 275 innings, while Joaquin Andujar also won 20 (21-12, 3.40 ERA) & Danny Cox went 18-9 with a 2.88 ERA. The Angels were anchored by Jarrod Washburn (18-6, 3.15 ERA), with Ramon Ortiz and Kevin Appier. Rookie John Lackey was emerging with a 9-4 record & 3.66 ERA in 108.1 IP. I would also say that St. Louis had a more balanced bullpen, and that the Angels' pen (like their team) all came together in time for October.

PREDICTION: I can see where pop can become an issue for the Cards, because teams without pop can find themselves out... if their bats aren't hot. But with their better pitching, and especially if they have their bats clicking, the Cardinals base runners will be imitating a merry-go-round in action. The Rally Monkey will do his best, but it's the Cards 3-2.

1920 Cleveland Indians (5)
1940 Cincinnati Reds (12)

The "Battle of Ohio" will take place in the first round between two World Champion teams, separated by two decades.

The 1920 Cleveland Indians are lead by Hall of Famers Tris Speaker and Stan Coveleski. They also have Ray Chapman (who would unfortunately meet his fate with a fastball that would kill him), Larry Gardner (.310, 3 HR & 118 RBI) & Elmer Smith (.316, 12 HR & 103 RBI). 

The 1940 Cincinnati Reds have a bit more pop, led by Frank McCormick (.309, 19 HR & 127 RBI) with HOF catcher Ernie Lombardi (.319, 14 HR & 74 RBI). The team though pales in comparison to the Tribe in overall hitting when it comes to Batting Average (.303 to .266), On-Base Percentage (.376 to .327) & OPS (.793 to .706).

Derringer, Lombardi & Walters of Cincy.
The rotations square up really well against each other, the Indians are carried by their top 3 (Coveleski, Jim Bagby & Ray Caldwell) while the Reds are carried by four (Bucky Walters, Paul Derringer, Junior Thompson & Jim Turner). The one concern for the Indians, might be their achillie's heel, while Cincy definitely has a better pen.

PREDICTION: In all hitting, the series sounds like all Cleveland, but I like Cincy's chances of getting to the Tribe's bullpen, and matching up well with the rotations. I'm picking the Reds in an upset, 3-2.

1953 Brooklyn Dodgers (4)
1983 Baltimore Orioles (13)

The Brooklyn Dodgers were emerging in the 40's and became a force by the fifties, the decade would be a battleground in the 1950's between Brooklyn, the New York Yankees & New York Giants. Baltimore on the other hand was a franchise that flourished in the 60's & 70's, and overall was coming to an end, it's no coincidence that Manager Earl Weaver retired just prior to the 1983 World Championship team (the franchise's last hurrah!) -- The cool thing is that Baltimore's Cal Ripken, Jr. emerges and would give Baltimore fans reasons to cheer though a relatively quiet period when coming to championship contention.

In many ways the 1983 Baltimore Orioles can't match the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers' lineup, the Dodgers had 5 hitters over 90 RBI's (Baltimore had 2) -- three sluggers in Roy Campanella (.312, 41 HR & 142 RBI), Duke Snider (.336, 42 HR & 126 RBI) & Gil Hodges (.302, 31 HR & 122 RBI), while Jackie Robinson added 95 ribbies (batting .329), and Carl Furillo batted .344 with 21 HR's & 92 RBI! The Orioles had Ripken (.318, 27 HR & 102 RBI) and Eddie Murray .306, 33 HR & 111 RBI), with Ken Singleton (.276, 18 HR & 84 RBI) being the next best thing.

Baltimore has a better balanced pitching staff and ERA (3.63) to Brooklyn's 4.10 ERA; in fact there is only one team in the tournament with a higher ERA and that is the 4.16 ERA of the 1929 Chicago Cubs, another offensive juggernaut.

PREDICTION: The Dodgers offense is much better than Baltimore's, in which Baltimore's pitching isn't anything great -- plus Dodgers have 5 big sluggers to Baltimore's duo of Ripken & Murray. Dodgers will win 3-1.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

APBA Tournament: Ruth Bracket Preview (Part 1 & Revised)

This is a revised version of the Ruth Bracket Preview (Part 1), with the changes of the 2008 Rays being added to the tournament due to APBA being out of the 1969 Atlanta Braves, so it changed the old Arizona 99' vs. Houston 98' match-up, which now has Houston playing 1925 Washington in the Cobb Bracket & the 99' D-Backs playing the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers.

So here it is...

The Ruth Bracket, named after the "Great Bambino" Babe Ruth, will actually consist of Ruth and the 1927 New York Yankees, the #1 overall team in the entire tournament, and top-seed in the bracket. The 27' Yankees are considered among nearly all baseball fans as the greatest team of all-time, with hardly any argument... so it was a no-brainer!

Let's look at the match-ups for the Ruth Bracket.


Opposing pitchers' worst nightmare: Ruth and Gehrig.

1927 New York Yankees (1)
1944 St. Louis Browns (16)

The good news for the St.Louis Browns, that the pain will come quick and easy! There is really no chance for this World War II team that had success during the war, in which many of the team's superstars were out serving the country. This Browns team would go on to lose the 1944 World Series to the 44' Cardinals in the first all St.Louis series, labeled the "Streetcar Series" -- It was also the first series in which all the games of the World Series was played west of the Mississippi River. The team is led by it's only legitimate star in Vern Stephens, a 23-year-old who, with 20 homers and 109 RBI, was the best power-hitting shortstop in all of baseball.

The 1927 New York Yankees, on the other hand are loaded, led by Babe Ruth's 60 HRs, and a 110-44 record to sport (compared to St.Louis's 1944 record of 89-65 record!). Lou Gehrig turned in one of the greatest years of his career with an astounding 117 extra-base hits: 52 doubles, 18 triples & 47 homeruns! The team also had stars Tony LazzeriBob Meusel, and Earle Combs with a pitching staff that had consistent, productive hurlers even though they didn't sport any superstars. The team's only weakness may be it's bullpen, in which Wilcy Moore (APBA Grade: A-YZ) will get the nod for the closer job.

PREDICTION: The Yankees will sweep the St.Louis Browns, it would be a complete shocker if the Browns are even able to get a victory in this series.

1999 Arizona Diamondbacks (8)
1941 Brooklyn Dodgers (9)

The 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks would end up winning the N.L. West in it's second-year of existence (and would shock the world by defeating the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series, in it's fourth season!). Why APBA chose the 1999 team over the 2001 team? Who knows?

What I do know is that they'll be teamed up against a team on the rise, a team that was everyone's lovable losers from "Pig Town", the Brooklyn Dodgers emerged in 1941 to win the National League Pennant (first Dodgers team to win the pennant in 21 years), before Jackie Robinson would go on to make history with his debut in 1947. The team featured vets Joe MedwickBilly Herman & Dixie Walker. The team also had a young Pee Wee Reese, and was paced by a career year for starting pitcher Whit Wyatt (22-10, 2.34 ERA) and other 22-game winner Kirby Higbe.

Ebbets Field, to be the host of many memorable games.

The D-Backs are led by four players with over 100 RBI each: Jay Bell's career year of 38 HR & 112 RBI, Matt Williams (.303, 35 HR & 142 RBI), Steve Finley (34 HR & 103 RBI) & Luis Gonzalez (.336, 26 HR & 111 RBI). Tony Womack contributed to the lineup with 72 stolen bases!

Both teams won 100 games each, and while Arizona has a higher ERA (3.77) to Brooklyn's 3.14 ERA, they have a much better OPS, twice the total of Home Runs & 4-times the stolen bases.

PREDICTION: After reviewing the two teams, I feel that maybe Arizona should have been ranked higher, their rotation is the shaky area of the team, this was a D-Backs team that only had one great starter in Randy Johnson (Curt Schilling joins later). D-Backs will win this series, 3-1.

The 86' Mets look to bring their magic to the tourney!

1986 New York Mets (5)
1967 St. Louis Cardinals (12)

The 1986 New York Mets carried a lot of swagger and won 108 games, they are very well-balanced team that makes the most out of their offense, a scrappy team, led by a solid rotation (a team ERA of 3.11) and a good reliable bullpen. They will face off against the 1967 St.Louis Cardinals, who had a similar team ERA of 3.05, but a more unreliable offense (.704 OPS to New York's .742), plus the Mets had more HRs and stolen bases, while the Mets had a far more superior run differential (205 to 138). The Cards offense is led by 67' N.L. Most Valuable Player - Orlando Cepeda (.325 AVG, 25 HR & 11 RBI) and Lou Brock, while their rotation was led by Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson. The Mets are led by a cast of colorful characters, including young phenoms Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry.

Bob Gibson vs. Dwight Gooden, could become quite the dream match-up!

PREDICTION: This will be a close one, but I'm going to go with the Mets in five. The Mets get a little more out of their infield and overall lineup. The Mets also have some interesting interweaving pieces in players like Howard Johnson and Kevin Mitchell, who are just starting to show glimpses of their promising production.

McGraw will not be able to refuse playing L.A.

1904 New York Giants (4)
1962 Los Angeles Dodgers (13)

Both teams in a weird sense are non-playoff teams. The 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers lost a "tie-breaker" playoff series to the San Francisco Giants, 2 games-to-1 that determined the National League Pennant, while the 1904 New York Giants won the National League, but due to Manager John McGraw and their owner John T. Brush, they refused to play the American League Champion Boston Americans, expressing that the A.L. (the Junior Circuit) was the inferior league. Both franchises have a long rivalry while both were in New York, and now are in California. Plus both of these two teams are anchored by a two-headed monster in their starting rotations; the Giants have Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity, while the Dodgers have Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax -- both teams' #3 and #4 starting pitchers drop off considerably compared to their top 2 starters.

The difference between these clubs may be that one team (the Giants) are from the "Deadball Era" while the Dodgers are from the "Expansion Era". 

PREDICTION: With the Dodgers' ERA of 3.62, compared to the Giants 2.17 -- the Dodgers can only hope they can get to Mathewson & McGinnity early in the series to make it a series. The Dodgers offense isn't one to marvel at, but excels over the dead-ball Giants lineup -- for example, the Dodgers' Frank Howard alone matches the Giants team total of 31 HRs. The Giants' two-headed monster with it's speed and execution should win this series, 3-1.

*** To be continued / Part 2 of the Ruth Bracket Preview ***

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Necessary Changes

Lately, I experienced some difficulties accessing my Boys of Summer Blog via Blogger's Dynamic View style, so I decided to go with the more common way to see it. I will miss the little pictured tiles that helped make the site look interesting, but in the long run to show all my APBA Baseball projects currently and in the past -- this was the best way to express the league, easier for people to get around and check things out.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

APBA Tournament: Wagner Bracket Preview (Part 2)

Part 2 of the Wagner Bracket Preview


1931 Philadelphia Athletics (3)
1960 Pittsburgh Pirates (14)

Connie Mack's second dynasty featuring Hall of Fame super-stud sluggers Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons against Roberto Clemente & the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates (who shocked the baseball world with their upset of the New York Yankees) -- in a battle of Pennsylvania! Problem is, will it be much of a battle? or will Pittsburgh be taking Cinderella to the second round?

Philadelphia's Simmons won the 1931 American League Batting Title with a .390 clipping, with 22 HR's and knocking in 128 ribbies. Not only will Pittsburgh have their hands full with Simmons, but they'll have to deal with Foxx (.291, 30 HR & 120 RBI) & HOF catcher Mickey Cochrane, who batted .349, with 17 HR & 89 RBI! The rotation is anchored by Lefty Grove (Grade A&C-XZ), who went led the league with 31 wins, a 2.06 ERA & 175 K's in 288.2 Innings. George Earnshaw (B-XZ) and Rube Walberg (B-Y) show their solid ability as #2 and #3 SP's by pitching in 281.2 Innings and 291 Innings respectfully (Walberg led league in IP); with aging Waite Hoyt as a probable #4 starting pitcher.

The Pirates do a lot of mixing and matching by platooning a lot, first baseman Dick Stuart led the Pirates in Home Runs (23) despite getting only 438 at-bats, his backup Rocky Nelson hit 7 HRs in 200 at-bats. Rocky's OPS of .852 would be higher than Stuart's .796. Smokey Burgess (.294 Avg, .768 OPS) and Hal Smith (.295, .859 OPS) will platoon for the tournament at catcher. Don Hoak (Ex-Tiger) is the team's star 3B with a .282 average, 16 HRs & 79 RBI. A balanced lineup with Bob Skinner (.273, 15, 86) and Hall of Fame Clemente (.314, 16, 94) rounding out the outfield. Their top three starting pitchers are really dependable: Bob Friend (18-12, 3.00 ERA & 183 K's), Vern Law (20-9, 3.08 ERA) & Bill Mizell (14-8, 3.50 ERA) all are grade B's and have over 200 innings each. The bullpen drops off after Roy Face and Freddie Green though.
#21 - The great Roberto Clemente.

The team's offense are actually similar overall, the A's have most of their offense come out of three to four players in which the Pirates whole lineup contributes little by little consistently. The teams are close in AVG, OPS, HR, very little steals, and pitching ERA -- the difference was the run differential and winning percentage. The A's ran away with a 232 run differential, and a winning pct of .704 by winning 107 games; while the Pirates were not as dominant with 141 runs differential (which led league) and a league best .617 winning percentage (95 wins).

PREDICTION: Connie Mack's boys will win the series 3-1, the cool thing for the Pirates is that they won a World Championship in their represented season, the A's lost to the Cardinals (who haven't gone by the "Gas House Gang" yet.

The "G-Men" : Goslin, Greenberg & Gehringer of the 34' Tigers.

1934 Detroit Tigers (6)
1917 Chicago White Sox (11)

The 1934 Detroit Tigers led by the "G-Men": Hank Greenberg (.339, 26 HR & 139 RBI), Charlie Gehringer (.356, 11 HR & 127 RBI) & Goose Goslin (.305, 13 HR & 100 RBI); while manager by catcher Mickey Cochrane (.320, 2 HR & 76 RBI) and another player with 100 RBI's (to go with the "G-Men") in shortstop Billy Rogell (who only had 3 HR's). History will show that this Tigers team will go on to lose the World Series to the "Gas House Gang" St. Louis Cardinals (who are playing the 1954 Indians in the same Wagner bracket/Part 1), but will rebound against the Chicago Cubs in 1935 to win the World Title. So the 34' Tigers could get revenge on the Cards, if both teams are capable of getting to the "Elite Eight"... but the Tigers will have to get past one of MLB history's most notorious teams, the "Black Sox"!

The 1917 Chicago White Sox, the last glorious highlight before their transformation into the "Black Sox", they first got the nickname when they continued to wear their dirty uniforms in protest against their money-pinching owner Charles Comiskey charging them laundry fees on top of their pay. Most of the players were underpaid for the success the team has brought to the owner, which would lead to the 8 players involved in "throwing" the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The team though, did win the World Series against the New York Giants in 1917.

The "Black Sox" defendants with their lawyers.
All eight of the (eventually) banned players are on the 1917 Sox team: They are Eddie Cicotte, Happy Felsch, Chick Gandil, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Fred McMullin, Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver, and Claude "Lefty" Williams.

Now let's get away from the Baseball history lesson, and look at this match-up, the problem is that the 17' White Sox have the same problem as most "dead-ball era" teams, they simply can't hit.. and that will probably lead to early exits for most of these styled teams. They also didn't have much depth, and the teams usually had no more than a total of 7 to 8 pitchers. With many of these teams, they really had no bullpen, and were not used in the same ways that the teams of today are used.

The 34' Tigers will do it with their bats, since their pitching is a team ERA of 4.06! They do have a good one-two punch at the top of their rotation with Tommy Bridges (22-11, 3.67 ERA & 151 K's) & Schoolboy Rowe (24-8, 3.45 ERA & 149 K's). The White Sox have them beat in team ERA with the second-best team ERA in the tournament with 2.16 (second only to 1906 Cubs' 1.75!) -- but their weak OPS (of .655) is the lowest!

PREDICTION: The Detroit Tigers of 34' will go on to the second round to play a team from it's era in the 1931 Philadelphia Athletics.

Mays & Williams: When planets align! 

1954 New York Giants (7)
1946 Boston Red Sox (10)

Looking at this match-up, I'm wondering if I didn't give the 1954 New York Giants enough credit, or if I gave the 1946 Boston Red Sox too much credit. Well, it's an intriguing match-up no matter what happens.

Not only do we simply have a New York vs. Boston scenario here (which we already have the 37'Yankees/14' Braves match-up in the Wagner Bracket), but the fact it's also between two franchises that had a bit of history between 1900-1920, and were part of the creme of the crop with two other franchises during this era in the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago Cubs.

We also have the head-to-head match-up of two amazing Hall of Fame superstars in the Giants' Willie Mays (.345, 41 HR & 110 RBI, 1.078 OPS) and the Red Sox' Ted Williams (.342, 38 HR & 123 RBI, 1.164 OPS)!

The teams are very similar across the board in many areas, the only difference is that the Giants have significantly more Home Runs and a few more top notch relievers.

PREDICTION: This is going to be incredibly close, I really do like what I see from Boston's rotation 1-4, but I think the Giants have an edge with nearly 234 innings combined by their two relievers Marv Grissom and Hoyt Wilhelm. Part of me really wants to go with Boston, but I'll go with the Giants in 5!

1995 Cleveland Indians (2)
1967 Boston Red Sox (15)

The 1995 Cleveland Indians may go down as one of the top 5 teams in MLB history, not to win a World Series. The team won 100 games in it's shortened 144 game season (a winning percentage of .697), while the only team with a higher OPS than the Indians' .843 OPS was the 1927 New York Yankees (an OPS of .872)! The Indians (207 HR's) are one of only eight teams with 200 or more Home Runs in the tournament.

The 1967 Boston Red Sox season would have two memorable moments that would define it's season other than the World Series against the Cardinals, one a great memory, the other being a bad memory. Until Miguel Cabrera sealed the deal with a Triple Crown, 1967 would serve as the last time that any player in Major League Baseball won the elusive Triple Crown (League Leader of all three major categories: Batting Avg, HR & RBI's) -- and that man was Carl Yastrzemski, or known to fans as "Yaz"! Yastrzemski batted .326, 44 HR & 121 RBI's, while also leading the league in Runs, Hits, On-Base Percetage, Slugging Percentage & OPS (On-Base + Slugging)!  The bad memory would be the unfortunate pitch that got away from the Angels' Jack Hamilton that would bean Tony Conigilaro in the face. The damage sustained was a linear fracture of the left cheekbone, dislocated jaw, and severe damage to his left retina -- his once promising career would never be the same. Shortly after the protective ear-flap on helmets would become standard. Conigilaro would not return, until a season & half later. The Red Sox lost the World Series to the Cardinals, 4-3 -- who knows what would have happened if they had Conigilaro for that series.

The fortunate thing is that the Red Sox will have Conigilaro for the tournament, but their first test will not be an easy one. Although the Red Sox led the American League in slugging percentage and OPS, it was during a time of pitching dominance, and compares relatively low to the rest of the tourney, especially to the 95' Indians! The Red Sox have only two full-time players ("Yaz" and George Scott) with OPS's of over .800, compared to the tribe's 6 players in their starting lineup!

PREDICTION: The Red Sox rotation may be slightly better, but the Indians bullpen may have the edge. The Indians line-up is a total superior mismatch towards the Red Sox' weak .715 OPS. It's up to "Yaz" and Conigilaro to try to carry off an upset. Indians will win, 3-1!

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