Coming off the dead-on prediction last year of an Angels
championship some pressure may be off me this year. But for respectability
purposes I must get at least one of the League champs correct in what is lining
up to be a competitive year with a lot of teams in the mix.
I will be looking for some new foils this year with Kevin
McCadden and Pat Barbera moving on, and the Chuck, Steve and Roy treatment
getting old (but still appropriate) .
On alert: Gorski,
Costa, Picano.Fair-Headed Boys: Blumenshine, Beneke. Jack Webster Treatment: Algeri, Robinson, Sletterink. TBD:
Gualtieri, VanderZouwen, Walsh.
Years of playing chess while others were playing checkers should pay off
for Josh, who continues to look beyond the “best available player” methodology.
His golden 2017 draft turns 15 this year and despite having one of that class
plucked from him in the expansion draft that only reduced his odds by a hair.
And I may add he took it like a man, “no whining” (thus the “fair-headed boys” designation).
Looking at Walshie (a favorite here) in the pre-season he grew into two Walshie’s.
I just hope he didn’t lose his edge, like when he stared down Craven in the WS after
hitting him with a pitch and then kept trying to pick the runner off third base
from the catchers box even after Josh pleaded with him to stop. Losing Kerr will hurt his pitching which is
the only ? with the team and history says that the teams with set 3-man rotations
win championships, they don’t need to be dominant just reliable. The Marlins
were also bestowed with the prestigious Cumby’s sponsorship so a lot of
confidence and good vibes being sent their way from the Prez.
Astros: The Astros (NL) became the Giants (NL) and now
back to the Astros but this time in the always loaded AL. The Giants never wore well with the players
who continued to use “Astros” in their cheers in direct slap at the Prez. So
the players union won. It seems every year I look at Chuck’s roster and think “dominant”,
he always has a big strong team but they just have one WS appearance (loss) in
his 8-year reign. I can never say that Chuck
lets me down (except prediction wise) because he is the No. 1 team player when it comes
to the league and running the dreaded (by me) summer program. With the School
Committee election I expect Chuck will be 100% focused on his team and not
drumming up another override. He couldn’t win it all with Corey DiLoreto or the
Marshall twins, let’s see if Jackie Malley can beat all of the boys who couldn’t
bring it home for Chuck.
Loaded with the most returning players (albeit from a 4-win team), when the Royals are good it’s good for the League. Positive publicity usually follows through the DTC twitter feed and I can get Algeri to do the WS write-ups are big pluses for me. And it never hurts to have the coach less cantankerous and you notice that I just used the term “less’ because there is always going to be some. Now in his 9th season, and possibly his RBRL managerial swan song, I expect Algeri will have game strategies even more abundant and peculiar than ever. He even has figured out that his team plays better at 11:30 a.m. than 2:30 p..m (straight inside joke that all won’t appreciate). As long as he doesn’t put his team in the handshake line two innings early because “we have had enough baseball,” I am all in on the Royal experience. I expect one or two of the 15’s (think Murray, Alexander or Micciche) will have a breakout year and there is a good amount of "deep depth" on this team. Arms will be abundant and a difference maker.
The defending champs still look strong with a good draft and their
pitching pretty much intact. The Angels by chance are the only team that did
not lose a player in the expansion draft and all of the Angel players can be
thankful that they will not lose out on those life lessons from experiencing the "Angels Way". Coach Richie
Bradley retired, an American classic, the Angels bench will feel the void and
the sight of the coach peddling back home on his bicycle something you will
never see a player do anymore (old man commentary). How much effect he had on the
Angel winning we will see, he certainly was a good balance to the stress level
at the field. The Angels are the “America’s team” of RBRL complete with after
game baked goods, camouflage hats and long postgame speeches. Even after last year’s
championship win Roy kept his team on the field for 30 minutes, and it got so
somber that I felt like comforting the players and saying “tough loss, sorry.” Will WS heroes Champa and Merkle be able to keep
their quiet unassuming innocent demeanors that worked so well last season? Don’t
disappoint me boys. Will the Angels be
able to move past the Steven Webb era and show?
The team certainly won’t be as handsome without him displaying his
coiffed hair after every pitch.
Cubs: Chris Beneke hit the lottery in our first
expansion draft. The ping pong balls went his way in pulling off an instant title
contender out of a hat. He went from trying to bag out of the expansion
franchise at the start of draft night to asking what the dates of the World
Series games were going to be at the end of the night. In order to help Chris
out for volunteering to coach an expansion team we froze the ping pong ball
with Matt Ronayne’s number on it and the rest is history (thank you for the idea
David Stern). Beneke the wannabe GM took his first RBRL draft seriously,
trading draft pick positions (ala Belichick) in several rounds so he could seemingly
end up with a kid named Fusco that suspiciously was the only kid that wasn’t on
the pre-draft rankings sheet. It was vintage
Algeri with the hurt arm of Tommy White in 2011 or John Macaluso with the “Ryan
Wynns is only playing AAU” in 2010. Not many holes on this team but they have a
Athletics: Another stacked veteran team with no apparent
weaknesses. I am only pushing them down due to the manager being new to the
RBRL experience (and wily trickery of some of the long timers). Still Jonathan Gorski broke through to the WS
in his first year (Heithaus says hello). Not one of the bigger teams size wise
but talented and is there a better player to watch then Ben Wright I think not.
This comment is directed to Nick Figueroa (Liitle Fig), I expect you to be one
of the most dominant players in the league this year let’s see it son! Mark
Vander Zouwen looks like a good addition to the league (embracing the experience),
the Georgia boy gives us some character I am tired of the Boston accents and
mostly the Southeastern Mass accent.
Phillies: The team most likely to make me look
like an ass (or more of an ass). The Phils have a lot of above average talent
but their only drawback is a good but small (2) fifteen year old class. I
thought Andrikopoulos was as a good of a 13 year old as I saw last year so high
expectations for him. Pitchers like Gallegos and Raimo are going to take a big
step forward this year. I like Coach Gualtieri’s draft day spin when he said “I
think I had the best middle to end of the draft than anyone.” Hey, it has
got the Patriots 6 rings so who am I to mock?
Now all the guys who
downplayed their teams to get a higher pick:
Mariners: I won’t be shocked if Costa sandbagged for the
third straight year and Mariners finish higher
Pirates: Not many coaches put together a 5 yr. plan for a 3
yr.player RBRL career span. " It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it
pays off for 'em. "
Padres: Major rebuild
for Coach Gorski, sorry about Ronayne
White Sox: Going to surprise
by end of the year
AL FINAL: Royals over Astros
NL FINAL: Marlins over Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Marlins 2 games to 0
Angels win first RBRL World Series since 2006
By Jeff Pierce, RBRL President
The 2018 RBRL World Series came to an exciting and pressure-packed ending on Thursday evening, June 14 before a large crowd at Morton Field.The Angels prevailed, 3-2, in the third-and-deciding game of the best-of-3 World Series in a tightly- and quickly-played contest to give coach Roy Sletterink his first championship in his 7-year coaching tenure and the second in franchise history (2006).
If the fans came down to the ballpark to see fireworks at the plate they would have been sorely disappointed as the two teams combined for just five hits in Game 3. For the three-game set the Padres only had four (after being no-hit in Game 2).Instead this World Series was highlighted by two strong pitching staffs and, except for Game 2’s aberration, superb defense all over the field, to the delight of the League Officials.
*** President's Playoff Preview and Final Rankings ***
1. Athletics (11-4-2): In a year where you could throw a net around the top few teams someone had to be anointed #1 so it’s the A’s as the AL regular-season champ that was decided by the second tiebreaker (better division record). An A+ pitching team with average hitting, Kevin usually pulls the right levers when it counts in the summer, so let’s see if he can do it in the spring. “Six, Two and Even” that they make it to the World Series (look that one up!).
2. Angels (11-4-2): Lost to the A’s on Thursday with a chance to clinch the #1 seed. I really expected much more of the Halos this year but the consistency has not been there and Roy has had to rely on young arms to carry them at times. Now they will be in a brutal 2/3 matchup with the "15-year-old heavy" Mariners in the AL semis which may make for a quick exit. Still the prototype on how a team should be run with A+ player experience.
3. Mariners (11-5-1): Be careful what you wish for as Costa scrambled to get that make-up game played on Sunday night with the White Sox in hopes of usurping the 1-seed from the A's -- only to lose. The expression “you are your father’s son” applies here with the coach/team personality dynamic. Win or lose they are going to get the better of you in the verbal wars. Been a 10-year gap for this franchise since its last World Series. Only the Athletics is longer (14 years).
4. Marlins (11-6): They had the biggest run-differential in the league going into this weekend (thanks to 6 games with the Bucs and Phils/+53) and just got back 15-year-old Jack Blumenshine who has been out most of the year. They can crush it at the plate, have few holes in the lineup and the pitching is solid -- yet not upper-echelon. Josh proves nice guys can finish first.
5. Giants (10-5-1): “Disappointment thy name is Chuck.” You would almost have to throwing games purposely to have this record with this lineup. I have seen them play 5 times just to be triple-sure that they weren’t. Time to get serious boys, the Prez doesn’t like to look bad (see pre-season prediction).
Long shots: White Sox (6-10-1) have a few players that can put a team on their back. Padres (9-8) have a puncher's chance with their pitching staff and defense.
AL Final: Sticking with the Angels over Athletics.
NL Final: Marlins shade the Giants for a repeat trip to World Series.
World Series: “Well deserved Angels” 2 games to 1.