Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gotham Rising?

As I have reported earlier this month, I have joined a Fantasy Baseball League with some friends from high school on ESPN. The name of my team is the Gotham City Rogues (yes, a shout-out to Batman) I lost the first two week match-ups, both by a hair -- resulting in a 0-2 record; I finally won my first match-up this past week, by just 9 points! Plus even better, I beat the undefeated 2-0 team to do it.

Are we back in the thick of it?

Well, not quite... But we are getting there. I still happen to be getting banged up, apparently my new pickup in Archie Bradley took a line-ball to the face -- suffering Sinus Cavity damage to the face, but is in good spirits.





INJURIES

I have of course had injuries to Yan Gomes, Alex Cobb, Anthony Rendon, and Jose Fernandez. Since then, I released Gomes, while waiting patiently on the other three -- Those three will bring me big points down the stretch.

My other catcher was Devon Mesoraco (who was also banged up & missing time), he brought me a big whopping one point in three weeks! So I released him for Russell Martin, who in the last few days seems to be slowly breaking out of his slump, plus in that Toronto lineup will bring in plenty of runs & ribbies, regardless of his batting average.

Familia already has logged 9 saves, a nice addition to a team that already has Craig Kimbrel.

IMPROVEMENTS

I made some big free agent splashes by picking up Devon Travis, Collin McHugh, Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Martinez & Jeurys Familia. While saying good bye to dead weight such as Shin-Soo Choo, Homer Bailey, Steve Pearce, and Rusney Castillo (on DL).

Upgraded from Wade Davis that led to Brian Boxberger (who then got released for) to Familia. Henderson Alvarez suddenly missed a start, and I quickly went to McHugh.

Could Adeiny Hechavarria be my latest free agent steal? I jumped on the opportunity.

MIDDLE INFIELD

I think I got better over all, I added Alcides Escobar, a few weeks back, while I just added Adeiny Hechavarria, especially in case Alexei Ramirez never gets it together. When Anthony Rendon returns, somebody from the middle infield will be out of a job. Travis & Escobar are safe, I could cut one of my outfielders, but the two that I would even consider releasing are Gregory Polanco and Marcell Ozuna -- and I feel they have too much upside. So Alexei's time may be running out. I feel even releasing Alexei, and already Erick Aybar -- I will be better up the middle regardless how this all plays out.

TRADE OFFERS

I recently got a offer for Collin McHugh in exchange for two players, SP-Doug Fister & 2B/OF-Jason Kipnis -- a year ago, this deal would have gone down. But this season? Kipnis is not upgrading my 2B situation with Travis playing like an All-Star, and the future return of Rendon. Fister is not having as good a season as McHugh, and their projections before the season only have Fister averaging a point more per game. I also got a offer for my Max Scherzer this week, but he's my ace, it was a good offer, Robinson Cano -- but Scherzer has already brought in about 35% more points to this point of the season.

STRUGGLING

I have a few guys who have struggled in Andrew McCutchen -- he cut the dreads & he's playing mediocre, sure he's been playing hurt, but I hope this was not a Sampson result (in a biblical sense), like McCutchen lost his power suddenly. Gio Gonzalez could be better, considering his numbers before 2014, or is this a trend for Gio? Todd Frazier's batting average is down to .239, I think he could be better. I feel if some of my players improve, I can really make a good run at this, especially now with my great free agent pickups.

ROTATION
Scherzer: The Rogues' ace.

At one point after the draft, I felt I could have been stronger, now I am liking where I am. I drafted Max Scherzer and James Shields, and they have done as expected of them -- Scherzer is averaging 19.5 points an outing, while Shields is averaging 17.8.

The huge surprise has been Chris Archer, sure we all knew he was going to be a good one, but he's my biggest scorer on the whole entire team, already recording 109 points! Averaging 21.9 ppg. So now we are talking Scherzer, Shields, Archer, add McHugh (16.8 ppg) & Carlos Martinez (16.8). Archie Bradley, by the way, averaging 14.0 ppg -- hopefully he won't be out long with the injury to the face. I also have Alex Cobb and Jose Fernandez already on the DL, so it all depends how long Bradley will be out for, someone at some point is going to lose their job to either Cobb or Fernandez.

BULLPEN

My two relievers after the draft, was the best stud at the position in Craig Kimbrel, plus Minnesota's Glen Perkins. It didn't take long for me to release Perkins, once I realized that the Twins are in no close range of putting him in Saves situations, so I signed Brian Boxberger of Tampa momentarily, and I was happy with that pickup -- Tampa will be in many close games. I was happy with that until I saw that the N.L. Saves leader Jeury Familia was available, so I made the quick upgrade before someone else did.

OUTLOOK

Quite better after the first two weeks, I really think I have many solid areas now moving forward. It's a long year though, and as quick as it takes to get suddenly excited -- it can also turn to quick disappointment, plus it all depends when to strike when a player is hot.

Currently: 1-2

Crafted APBA Cathedrals

The Reds' Crosley Field 
Before you dive into all of these wonderful pictures of custom-made stadiums, do know this, I do not know any of these people or know how to make or purchase these stadiums. I always hear a name from time to time in George Adams (I believe that's the name, right?) -- but have as much knowledge as you guys do on how to acquire or do any of these stadiums.

I do know about this video out there, this cool video & stadium by our fellow APBA Facebook Group member Kenn Tomasch, click on the link below



Now here is some of the other ballpark pics...
Back-side of Crosley Field.
Love the right field wall -- It's a reverse dimension Fenway!

Usinger's Park

A nice little STRAT nook setup in left-top corner, the Yogi Berra card is a nice touch.

A nice wooden stadium, like the big giant wall out in right with all the logos.
I'm thinking the original Expos stadium from expansion year (Expos logo on 3rd base dugout).

I got more to come... trying to place more pictures, but this post does not want to behave!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Managing the NXPL Detroit Tigers

Parrish, Trammell & Rozema are some of the recognizable faces from the 1984 team that I own.
I have recently joined the NXPL (No Expansion Professional League), a computer (BBW) APBA Baseball League that features 16 teams. The league is a league that never expanded from 16 teams, we just finished the 1981 NXPL Draft.

I am taking over a strong Detroit Tigers team who has plenty of core members from the 1984 MLB World Championship team. I have Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, Dan Petry & Dave Rozema. I don't have Jack Morris, Willie Hernandez or Chet Lemon, but I do own Tom Seaver, Mario Soto, Mookie Wilson & Bill Madlock. Morris was involved in the deal to acquire Seaver from Seattle.

The league was commissioned by Chris Strovel, who I am already friends with, and was the commissioner also for an APBA Online League, which the BoS (Boys of Summer) was part of as well; Of course, we all know that the APBA Online thing has been a huge disaster. Strovel recently handed the Commissioner reigns to Peter Kilmarx, who I also know from Stray Corrado's Mid-West Winter League & Midwest Baseball League. Kilmarx, like myself, is a team owner in those leagues. Both Strovel & Kilmarx will be American League rivals of my Detroit Tigers, as Strovel heads a very strong Baltimore Orioles team, Kilmarx manages the Boston Red Sox franchise.

Madlock batted .341 with 6 HR, 45 RBI & 18 steals (.912 OPS) in 1981.
My lineup appears to look like this...

1. Mookie Wilson - CF
2. Bill Madlock - 3B 
3. Kirk Gibson - RF
4. Jason Thompson /
Rusty Staub - 1B
5. Ben Oglivie - LF
6. Lance Parrish - C
7. Lou Whitaker - 2B
8. Alan Trammell - SS
9. (Pitcher)

My rotation...

1. Tom Seaver
2. Mario Soto
3. Dan Petry
4. Pete Redfern
5. Steve Trout

This is the league's 20th season, and I like the idea of making the Detroit Tigers a force to reckon with in the 1980's, it will be much more of a balancing act when the 90's comes around though. I will mention more about the league in the future.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Double Impact Devon

Young Devon Travis has made an immediate impact in the Majors for the Toronto Blue Jays. Travis was acquired by the Blue Jays from Detroit in exchange for outfielder Anthony Gose. As a Tigers fan, I hate the trade overall, even though Gose will bring a defensive/speed element to the Tigers, he's a role player overall compared to Travis, who will be a future All-Star (if not this season), while he's making an early bid for American League Rookie-of-the-Year. 

Travis was supposed to be the Tigers' future star second baseman, the heir apparent to Ian Kinsler. Now he is Toronto's gem, batting .359, with 5 HR's & 16 RBI; His On-Base Percentage is .414, while his OPS is an astounding 1.102! Now we all know he won't keep going at this strong rate, but one thing is for sure, this kid can flat out play.

Precisely why I drafted him in the 2014 MWBL Draft, a league which you can draft guys before they reach the Majors, and you own that player if they make their Major League debut within 3 years, which makes me the proud owner of Mr. Travis. 

I drafted him 46th overall (2nd Round), after I lost out on drafting Rougned Odor and Mookie Betts (who was moving from 2nd out to the OF anyways). I do have a strong second baseman in Brian Dozier, who lifted his OBP in 2014 for the Twins. I acquired Dozier in the Matt Holliday trade with the Coconut Creek Crushers. My middle infield went from weak to full of potential now, with Danny Santana moving back to his natural shortstop position in Minnesota, plus my 2015 MWBL Draft picks in Aldaberto (Raul) Mondesi, Jr. & Franklin Barreto

Now the double impact of Devon is this, for my fantasy baseball team, the Gotham City Rogues, I picked up Devon Travis on the first day after his MLB debut, in which he hit a HR. My regular 2B Anthony Rendon has been on the disabled list, and I cut Erick Aybar to get Travis. Travis & Rendon will stay with Rendon's return, while Alcides Escobar will likely be my shortstop, making Alexei Ramirez the odd man out; Ramirez is well-known to be a cold starter to seasons, but my patience is running thin on him. I could keep him in the utilities area, but that might be needed for Marcell Ozuna, the OF from Miami, and I believe he will soon be hitting some HR's.

By the way, my team finally won a weekly match-up against the first-place team, making my record 1-2, now -- just edging our competition by 9 points!

Now it's time for my new pickup in Archie Bradley of Arizona to make a Devon Travis impact on my fantasy team!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rain [Adapter] Delay

My custom made card of Cobb & "Shoeless".
Sorry, that's it's been awhile since my last post. On Thursday morning, April 16th, I had problems with my A/C Adapter for my computer. Just got my new adapter, but it turns out my battery may be bad already due to the previous bad adapter -- so I'll have to stay plugged in, and will be ordering a backup batter during my next pay period.

I'm taking this time also to vent about a few things. I'm finding out how precious life is, and how valuable it is to have my down time. I'm realizing how much of a job & chore APBA has become, when in reality it should be a release. I'm learning to balance it all, and wish that other people realize this as well.

APBA is not my life!

I may write about the game of baseball & APBA with so much love for both games, but it becomes a damper when you are not able to enjoy it in the way that you want to enjoy it.

I sometimes wonder what is this blog even for? I keep getting tons of hits on the site, while I only supposedly have 5 members?! Why do I bother than? Is it that difficult for my friends who say they are my APBA friends to not take a few seconds of their time to become "members", the more members, the more exposure to share the game of baseball & APBA Baseball. Plus I'm members of some of their blogs, only seems fair to scratch my back as well.

Also, I love this blog. For me, this is where it all began again for me, taking my writing and merging it with something that I love in APBA Baseball & Baseball. I did have a successful Batman blog, which was about things in life & entertainment as well, but I started using too much negative energy on it that I hated what the site became. So for me, this is my pride & joy, and now that I took on a bunch of APBA projects when I really want to do my own solo projects as well, this blog has punished for it.

My blog has always came first before anything, when that loses direction, I feel the other projects and leagues that I am in, lose their meaning.

I guess I'm reflecting on many things, and yes I may sound pretty frustrated -- I guess I'm getting tired of trying to please every single person. I told my wife this yesterday morning...

"Why am I too busy trying to please other people, when I don't please myself?"

She said "good point"

Slowly but surely, I will be getting some satisfaction out of this, even if it means it costs me friendships along the way.

When it rains, it pours....

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Dreaded Injury Bug

Hoping to see more of this, once Nats' Rendon is off the D.L.
So, I told myself that I would not tinker with my Fantasy Baseball roster this time (in my 3rd Fantasy Baseball experience), but my players keep falling victim to the dreaded injury bug.

I lost a close week in a week match-up against this one team 316-308, this week is already looking like a nightmare comparably as I only have scored 24 points in two days! The next lowest in the league for Week 2 has 72, while i'm losing this week 119-24!

Looking back at all the injuries to this point...

  • SP- Homer Bailey (CIN) - still on 15-day DL, released him.
  • SP- Jose Fernandez (MIA) - On DL indefinitely until probably June -- holding onto him for big points later, if all works out well from his rehab.
  • 2B- Anthony Rendon (WAS) - On 15-day DL, currently on my bench, I plan to keep him, because once he's back he'll be right up near the top of the game in second basemen.
  • OF- Rusney Castillo (BOS) - I had him, thinking alright! he might do something on a lower level of sorts of an impact like fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig did for the Dodgers in 2013. Then noticed that his opening series, he did nothing, then to read that he was in Triple-A to start season, I decided to take a chance & let him go to get someone now in Lorenzo Cain. Come to find out Castillo now injured his shoulder on a diving catch... so it was a good move for now, but I will have to keep my eye on him & snag him when he's coming back up to the Majors.
  • C- Yan Gomes (CLE) - This is a guy you definitely want for a catcher, the problem is my Detroit Tigers had to injure him, sliding into home plate; Result? 6-to-8 weeks with a sprained knee. I had to release him, especially since I have other injuries & slumps all over the place.
  • SP - Alex Cobb (TB) - Opened season & currently on D.L.; he was one of my higher draft picks for starting pitchers, I will keep him. Cobb was always a risk due to frequent trips to the list every year... but he's always rewarding when he pitches.
  • I have a few guys that have been banged up & DTD (day to day) in Andrew McCutchen & Yordana Ventura.
  • SP - Henderson Alvarez (MIA) - Signed him recently, while I dropped Bailey, has bad outing & is now on Disabled List -- Are you kidding me? Come on down Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals!
For my team named the Gotham City Rogues, they have been looking less like superheroes, and more like guys that are carrying a ton of Kryptonite on their backs... for that injuries have not been my only problem, bad slumps right now have plagued the team as well.

I signed Devon Travis from Toronto (former Tiger prospect, current future star) to help out with the 2B situation with Anthony Rendon hurt. At shortstop I have Alexei Ramirez (usually a slow starter anyways) while I have the usual dependable Erick Aybar in my 2B/SS slot. For a couple days, Alcides Escobar has been a free agent & has been producing for the hot Kansas City Royals, but Ramirez & Aybar are in the same area of most Fantasy Baseball lists, so I stalled on making a move, but I finally got fed up & decided to cut Aybar (who was batting .208 with only one run). Eventually, I will have a tough decision to make when Rendon returns, I will either have to cut Escobar or Ramirez, or hold both, and let one of my outfielders go.

I'm probably making my outfield problem bigger than it is, due to the fact that you can always find an outfielder to replace another, compared to premium positions where good 2B & good SS are much harder to find. The problem is that I'm sitting on Gregory Polanco & Marcell Ozuna, waiting for them to break out, Ozuna is the safer choice since he already hit 20+ HR's last season, but Polanco has probably a higher ceiling... then again, it usually takes a guy a couple seasons to take over -- So Polanco will likely be the odd man out if he doesn't click soon, plus he strikes out too much & his OBP (on-base percentage) is low.

Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte & Lorenzo Cain are keepers, they are not going anywhere. I really can't believe that I found Cain out there, that's a good nugget to have, especially if he stays healthy. McCutchen cut his dreads & suddenly is suffering Sampson-like consequences in his batting average, as he is currently below the Mendoza Line.

On the fence with Shin-Soo Choo. If Choo can rebound to the Choo we remember in Cleveland or even Cincinnati than great! The thing is he has not done anything, has been hurt & banged up, and not showing much at the plate right now -- he's taking up space, and although Nori Aoki (of the Giants) is not anywhere as great when both are at their peaks, but Aoki is seeing the ball really well right now, consistently putting up points in Fantasy Baseball right now. How long do I dare wait? 

Of course, I signed Steve Pearce and he suddenly does squat for me -- but I like his power & believe that he can do much of the same this season (like he did in 2014) if given the chance; At the same time, I have to remember he was not an original draft pick of mine, so he is expendable.

I need my catcher Devin Mesoraco to step up, he's not going anywhere too soon though, unless his season becomes an obvious disaster, but having to release Gomes already, I need to keep Mesoraco. I will keep an eye out for a catcher just in case, keep the guy in utilities & bench, and if Mesoraco after the All-Star break is a complete bust, than go with the other option & search for a big bat at any position to help offense.

My latest moves....
  • Released - 2B/SS- Erick Aybar (LAA), SP- Henderson Alvarez (MIA) & RP-Glen Perkins (MIA). The reason I released Perkins, I already have a reliever in Craig Kimbrel, and Perkins has only played in two games since opening day, with one save, the other being a negative outing; With the Twins being probably in less Save opportunities in a much-improved division, Perkins won't be of much value to me.
  • Signed - SS- Alcides Escobar (KC), P/RP- Carlos Martinez (STL) & RP- Brian Boxberger (TB). Escobar's so-so batting average has always bothered me, where Aybar for Angels was usually higher, but Aybar is doing squat right now, and right now -- I have to do better with who's hot right now! Boxberger has three saves already for Tampa Bay, and Tampa will have starting pitchers & a more grinding lineup than Minnesota to keep giving Boxberger opportunities -- Perkins is worthless to me, if he's only to give me a few points a week. For example, Boxberger has scored 23 points up to this point, Perkins? Only 4 points, that is the difference of me starting the first week 0-1 & instead being 1-0.
My Early MVP's
  • SP- Max Scherzer (WAS) & 1B- Adrian Gonzalez, but wishing I didn't blank on the 3rd overall pick (after the top two picks were Clayton Kershaw & Mike Trout) which I took Andrew McCutchen instead of Miguel Cabrera, who I felt would start slow, and then go on to have his best season since 2012. He was almost my pick for A.L. MVP this year, but stayed safe with Trout. Of course, Cabrera wins A.L. Player of the Week in first week. Gonzalez has done very well though, Todd Frazier had a good week as my 3B, and my other corner guy is Freddie Freeman
My team has a chance to show more upside this season with players like Scherzer, A-Gonz, Freeman, Frazier, Shields, Cobb, Kimbrel, Rendon, McCutchen, Marte, Gio Gonzalez & Ozuna -- so I'm definitely not throwing in the towel...

...but damn you, dreaded injury bug!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

One Week in the Books

Gone... GONE... A-GONZ! Adrian off to fast start in 15'.

My fantasy baseball team had some big moments in Adrian Gonzalez, a player that one of the league owners tried to acquire from me in exchange for IF-Ben Zobrist & 3B/C-Carlos Santana -- I turned him down & watched Gonzalez belt 5 HR's in the first three games.

We do the points format in which you play one team during an entire week, I was leading the first 3-to-4 days & then watched the other team make a good 40 point swing, then I thought I may catch him with some of my pitchers pitching Sunday. I fell short 316-308, so I am 0-1 after one week.

My team has had to deal with injuries, I drafted Homer Bailey, but released him since he's still on the 15-day DL. I already have hurt players in 2B-Anthony Rendon (WAS), SP-Alex Cobb (TB) & SP-Jose Fernandez (MIA). I released Bailey to acquire OF-Lorenzo Cain to help with my offense.

During the week, I released OF-Rusney Castillo due to him playing in Triple-A, would like to resign him when I know he's about to come back up in case he makes one of those huge impacts Cuban players like to make. I picked up Henderson Alvarez as a starter. Plus 1B/OF-Steve Pearce & 2B-Devon Travis.
Gomes' injury led to tough decision.

Andrew McCutchen & Shin-Soo Choo are also banged up for me, and now in the last couple days, SP-Yordana Ventura is hurting (although he has done well & logged 2 wins) & I lost Yan Gomes for 8 weeks it appears, I fortunately have Devin Mesoraco at catcher as well, but now I may have to make some crucial decisions on possibly releasing Jose Fernandez & Yan Gomes.

I think I will hold Jose Fernandez in the DL slot, and have to let Gomes go. I need to bring another starting pitcher in, short on starters with Fernandez on Fantasy/MLB DL, and Cobb on actual DL. I have Craig Kimbrel & Glen Perkins for relievers at the moment, Kimbrel is not going anywhere, Perkins might be an option.

Signed SP-Collin McHugh (HOU).

It's too bad that Max got a no-decision, came so close to a victory this week. It was a close week for almost everyone as well.

Monday, April 13, 2015

MLB Predictions by APBA Friends

Shields will make an impact on at least one team.
Every year, I usually do my MLB Preview with an in-depth look at all of the teams. I decided to take it a little easy, do a brief preview with my picks.

Along with my predictions, I have asked some of my APBA brothers, their predictions for the 2015 MLB Season.

Along for the ride, we have...
  • My little brother Christopher Baier, who is a league owner in my Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League, managing the San Diego Heroes. Chris also made a good run with the 2006 Detroit Tigers at the recent Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (GMABT) in Jackson, MI -- losing in the championship game to the 1937 Yankees.
  • John "Stray" Corrado - Commissioner of the Mid-West Baseball League (MWBL) & the Mid-West Winter League (MWWL). Finally had the privilege of meeting Stray, in Jackson. Stray, also is a member of the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League -- managing the Chicago Nine.
  • Kenneth Heard - A Northeast Arkansas bureau reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; He also heads an excellent blog "Love, Life and APBA Baseball" that helped inspire me in to creating this blog. Kenneth has done numerous APBA season replays & is currently replaying the 1950 MLB Season; Kenneth is a fan of the St.Louis Cardinals & Minnesota Twins.
  • Ken Schultz - Finally met Ken at the GMABT in Jackson. He will be heading his first APBA Baseball Tournament in Pittsburgh -- The Steel City APBA Baseball Tournament.
  • Doug Schuyler - One of my first friends through the APBA Baseball Facebook Group; co-created the Chicagoland APBA World Series Baseball Tournament with Jim Saska. The Tournament has a Summer & Winter edition & has helped inspire other tournaments, that are starting to spring up across the country.
  • Dan Velderrain - A team owner of the Saddleback Sharks in the SABL -- A cards league of about 15 owners in the Southern Calif/Orange County area -- where Dan is a Sheriff during his non-APBA time. Dan also has contributed a APBA fan favorite in his March Madness APBA Baseball Tournament, using all World Series winners, and happens to have an amazing collection of APBA cards.
Before I get to their picks, I'm going to do a quick over on my picks. In so many ways, I wanted to pick Baltimore Orioles to win their division, it's sad that no matter how much Baltimore has proved everyone and their mother wrong the last few years, when it comes to predictions time no one is a believer. Overall, I am a believer -- probably more than most people... but it seems like the Boston Red Sox every few years makes a serious run, and I believe it's that time again. By the way, people freaked out on the lack of moves Baltimore made this off-season, but you have to count in the fact that they are adding Manny Machado, Chris Davis & Matt Wieters -- three guys that they have had, but had no impact on their division title last year, a division they ran away with... plus they have one of the best managers in the game in Buck Showalter. Buck knows how to win, simple as that!

I'm picking the Detroit Tigers to win their division for the 5th year in a row; Sure, the Chicago White Sox made new improvements & the Cleveland Indians had the best pitching in the 2nd half of last season to indicate they might be ready to take the division away from Detroit. The Kansas City Royals, like Baltimore, is not getting any love in the preview issues -- they need to have their offensive players be more consistent, they can't afford a slow start, if they get off to a great start than they might be for real. Their rotation will hurt a bit without James Shields, but I think the staff has learned a lot from his brief time there... they have youth in Yordana Ventura & Danny Duffy.

The Seattle Mariners came so close to stealing that last wildcard spot away from a sliding Oakland Athletics last season, then made some big splashes in the off-season, one of them by acquiring free agent Nelson Cruz. I feel pretty confident that Seattle is going places this season.

The N.L. Central & N.L. West races will definitely be closer than in the East. You will see below that everyone & you will see that the magazines all have Washington Nationals winning their division -- but that's not to say that the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins & New York Mets won't be interesting.

I think James Shields with San Diego will be great for both, and hopefully for me, since I have Shields on my fantasy team -- it'll also be interesting to see his absence from K.C. as well.

I have the Nationals going all the way over the Mariners, most critics are picking Washington due to that sick rotation that opponents will have to deal with.

Here are the picks from everyone below....



There seems to be many common themes, Felix Hernandez & Chris Sale seems to be the A.L. picks for American League Cy Young, while the N.L. Cy Young race has more variety. Andrew McCutchen gets 4 picks (out of 7) for National League MVP.

The Washington Nationals got the most love from us, with 3 picks for World Champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers were next with 2 titles, one WS loss -- The Angels get picked to go to the World Series from this group, but no one picked them to win it all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Down to the Wire


The Hannibal Cavemen ended up wrapping up the N.L. East with their first division championship & first trip to the playoffs. Last season, the Urbana Locomotives won the division -- this year the Locos have not had winning on their side, but they can still play a part in the determination of the last playoff spot for either the Traverse City Panthers (who come to Urbana to play 6 games) or the San Diego Heroes who are hosting the 2nd worst record in the Seattle Rainiers.

Cavemen wrap up division title, while T.C. & S.D. have 6 games left.
The Traverse City Panthers (managed by me, Shawn Baier) made a huge improvement this season, after a frustrating 46-116 season in 2013 (2012 APBA/MLB Cards); The San Diego Heroes, as the Sacramento 66'ers, just missed reaching the N.L. Wildcard last season, losing the spot to Seattle. After the season, Christopher Baier took over the reigns & moved the franchise to southern California.

We could have a scenario where there could be a one-game playoff to determine the N.L. Wildcard, which will be interesting because it would be brother against brother.

Monday, April 6, 2015

On Deck in April


Plenty to come in the wonderful Month of April...

  • Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League News -- Wildcard races & a division race comes down to the last days.
  • News on the Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament.
  • MLB Predictions by some recognizable faces from the APBA Facebook Group.
  • A post on custom-made APBA Stadiums.
  • News on my joining of the No Expansion Professional League (NXPL) - APBA Baseball League, 16 franchises with no expansion. 


Now if the weather can catch up to the month, that would be great!)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Man Behind the Curtain


I have now known John "Stray" Corrado for about a year & a half now. Been a member of his two leagues, the Mid-West Baseball League (MWBL), possibly & probably the best league that is out there for BBW Leagues or any APBA League for that matter; Plus his winter edition league of retro BBW, called the Mid-West Winter League (in which we are are about to soon be drafting for the 1990 season). I have yet to find a league that has all of the dynamics, specifications, databases or draft managers as the MWBL offers. The MWBL uses an independent source that helps with the voting system as with season awards and All-Star voting, which collects all the votes. There is nothing like it, and it's the best league out there, because Stray expects nothing more than the best from the his owners & he puts every single part of his passion into the league. Don't believe me? Go check out the Mid-West Baseball League yourself!

We message each other quite often, and he eventually joined my Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League (BoS) right before the inaugural draft (his team is the Chicago Nine). I have learned a lot from him, and we have had many great discussions about the league & life in general.

So when I mentioned early in the week of March 1st, that my brother Chris & I, were going to be in Jackson, MI to play in the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (headed by my friend Rich Zawadzki). Stray came up with the idea of swinging by for a visit that afternoon/evening of March 7th, he had an Umpire school meeting in Romulus, MI. So now I had two things to look forward to on March 7th, the tournament & finally meeting Stray.

Of course, you all know, I didn't do well at the tournament, as my 1917 Chicago White Sox went 2-4, last in the Honus Wagner Bracket. My little brother on the other hand, took his 2006 Detroit Tigers to the GMABT Championship Game, only to lose to John Roels & the 1937 New York Yankees. Chris went 7-2 in his tournament run that day.

Early at the tournament, Wendell (left) whooped my 1917 White Sox.
During the championship game, I turned around early in the game & standing there was Stray. The funny thing is Stray didn't see me at first, so he was thinking Are you kidding me, I drove all this way? But I was there. Greeted him with a handshake & a hug, he was everything that I expected him to be, relaxed, chilled & out-going; a real people-person, he asked me how the wife was doing, talked about his new gig working for Major League Baseball, introduced him to one of our league members in Robert Mosher (Fairgrove Tigers). Meeting Robert was a highlight for the day as well for me, he would make the playoffs with his 1985 St. Louis Cardinals, and would be eliminated by my brother in the 2nd Round of the playoffs, the game to get to the Championship Game, so I guess you can say it was the Conference Championship. We happened to get a BoS group picture with Robert's camera, the four of us, a quarter of the league.

After Chris was done with his championship game & the room started clearing out, with everyone from the tournament heading out. Stray offered to take us out, and buy us a meal. It was a bit of an adventure to find a place to eat, as we kept heading up the road, we finally found a bar, with a fish logo on it -- this looks good, we were all really just wanting to find a place to relax & shoot the bull...

and that we did...

We just all clicked, it reminded me of when I met my best friend Neil, in the service. We clicked right away, and with Neil these days, with his kids getting older, and being out in California, we don't talk as much...

A screenshot of the MWBL site, here is a pic of the "MWBL Christmas Classic" -- the yearly HR derby for the MWBL.

So it felt great to finally have a guys night out, and finally meet the guy who I already consider a really good friend, I think another reason everything flowed that evening, is because even though, we never saw each other out in public before that day, we had a general sense who the other guy was, we have chatted on line for hours on hours through our league activity, talking about baseball, our wives, the idea of us four (including our wives) getting together some time as well -- I think the fact that we bonded online, we knew we were friends, and are well-past the acquaintances phase. I really wasn't worried about meeting him, one bit.

Chris and I, were actually quite full from the wonderful steak & food we had at the restaurant, that we had our tournament at. I felt I could munch on a side of fries though, so I got a side of fries, while Chris and I had our own small pitchers of beer. It was definitely the feel of a guys night out, plenty of laughing, sharing stories, and never really wanting the evening to end; I had such a blast, that I nearly forgot about the wonderful time at the tournament -- it was two great events in one day for me. I know Chris said nearly as much.

I first applied for Stray's Mid-West Baseball League, seeking a BBW league, a league that I can compete with other fellow APBA owners, and by meeting new friends. Stray was seeking a league owner that plans to be a MWBL member for life; in the process I think we both gained a friend for life. I believe we get along so well, is that we have a mutual respect for one another, he has certainly took me under his wing in showing me how to go about things in the commissioner aspect for a BBW league.
A unofficial, alternate logo of Stray's BoS team.

Stray has a great way of balancing out friendships & the business aspect of the league. He doesn't show favoritism, he's a firm & balanced commissioner, and goes about his business with every owner the same way. In many ways, he probably expects more out of owners like me, who love the game as much as he does, while wanting the league to succeed as much as he does. I also respect the fact that he will call you out, if you screwed up, he has high expectations of his owners, he expects us to do our jobs and do our jobs right -- and rightfully so, he should want that. He wants the absolute best, because he is pouring his heart out into this wonderful league, a wonderful league which you get to run a baseball franchise in every aspect of being a General Manager -- Stray makes this possible with the Mid-West Baseball League.

Stray is the same way with life, and obviously with his friends. He's outgoing & has an obvious confidence in life, going after what he wants in life. He recently got a job working for Major League Baseball working with Statcast, in which he will have to work every home Detroit Tigers game -- Oh, Darn! Right?! He told us that he repeatedly try to apply for the job, had interviews, no luck, but he never gave up -- eventually his file fell into the hands of another guy, and it was that guy that could see his passion for the job. Stray is relentless, I think that's another reason he looks for this type of owner for the MWBL, he doesn't want an owner to just settle. He is going to work with me on being a better commissioner, I was flattered in the confidence he has in me on where my league would be in the future -- we both know things could be better, but it was a huge compliment when he told me that I will be where he is at in five years, and although I don't see myself ever duplicating his success in the MWBL, it is really good to be learning from the best & meeting a person with the same passion for the game of Baseball & APBA Baseball.



Through online conversations, we found out we were fans of each other's work before I ever joined the MWBL, he enjoyed my blog, The Boys of Summer, as I used to surf his MWBL site from time to time. The detail to every aspect of the game, made me daydream of being in such a league, never did I ever think I would be in a league so huge, and with such talent. By the way, one of the owners happens to be Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, you can also catch him on the MLB Network during MLB Draft coverage & the MLB Network's yearly Top 100 Prospects Countdown. It's truly an honor to be in Stray's leagues & he makes sure he gets the best with an impressive interview process. He's thorough, and by being thorough, the success of the league shows. Off the top of my head, I want to say he has been running the league since 1997.

Unfortunately, I didn't take the camera along with our ride to the bar, left it in Chris's rent-a-car. He explained a lot about the league to Chris, he talked about prior drafts, many of the specific rules of the league, and why some of his league rules will benefit my league as well. I got to express what my goals are for our league, and also talked about the latest MWBL Draft. We got to hang out for a few hours, I felt bad because Stray had a long drive back to Mount Clemens from Jackson ahead of him, he didn't mind though, he was having a blast as well, and it happened to be worth it.

This is the great thing about Baseball & APBA, it brings people together, and creates new friendships for life. I'm really thankful to be a friend of Stray's, and look forward to the future of our leagues, with plenty more conversations of APBA, Baseball & life ahead of us.

By the way, I had a really difficult time coming up with a title for his post, at one point I thought "The Stray Cats", then decided to go with "The Man Behind the Curtain", because it has been a privilege to get to know Stray, who happens to be the man behind the success of the Mid-West Baseball League.
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