It's been a long-time comin'n' but the regular season is finally finally over. From my own perspective it's taken me almost 18 weeks to realise that keeping Hong-Chi Kuo on my side in a desperate hope that he'll a) stop sucking, b) get a chance at closing is a complete waste of time. Likewise my hope that Jonathan Broxton will a) stop blocking my DL slot, b) stop sucking, c) get a chance at closing has finally receded and he's been chucked too. Now the world will marvel instead at the imposing mound presence of Koji Uehara and the immense physical specimen of pitching that is, errr, David Pauley. Still, just as the Brewers refuse to give up I refuse to stop churning out these write-ups. Just see me as the Craig Counsell figure who keeps ploughing on despite any lack of success. Hell, I haven't even got my own bobblehead yet...
MSMK (246) lost to Bringing Home the Bacon (306)
Way back in the depths of time I mentioned in passing an Amazonian tribe which had no concept of numbers apart from 1,2 and “many”, resulting in considerable questioning in anthropological circles of the extent to which many human concepts are in-built or merely constructs of our cultural outlook. Recent studies in a similar area have now revealed the existence of a tribe which does not have a real concept of time at all. The Amondawa tribe has no word for “time”, “week” or “year, with no-one in the community having an age. Interestingly, names are passed on as individuals age, so a young child will give their name to a newborn baby and take on a new name instead. As a result, the tribe do not live within history, seeing events as being linked together by a shared concept of time, but they live free from time-led pressure and in a world on free-floating events that must appear to occur almost at random. If I had no concept of time the last few weeks would simply involve, in fantasy baseball terms, mediocrity as each match-up has followed the same pattern of average performance and just failing to ever really be in contention. This match was no different as I win the division with a 9-9 record (and a decent number of points scored) despite never looking like beating BhtB. Kershaw and Jimenez both scored 26, Votto 23 and McCutchen 21 but the real headline was put together by Mark Reynolds who batted an astounding -11 over the week due to a single one-bagger and a merre 12 strike-outs. BhtB cruised in with Marmol's return to closing notching 33 points, Juan Pierre 30 points, Shields 27, Marco Estrada and Ryan Roberts 24, Tulo 23 and Ricky Romero 21. I think my team has won a single match in the last month and a half or so and needs a bit of a shake-up. Perhaps ordering my pitchers to plunk people would help...
The Team That I Refuse to Name (143) lost to Craig Counsell's Steakhouse (181)
Without wanting to go too “My Name is Earl” on everyone, there are definitely times when what goes around comes around. But there are few times when it has happened in more bizarre fashion than in the tale of Dick Turpin. As a legendary highwayman, Turpin killed two men in his attempt to make a living through robbing both the rich and the not-so-rich that passed his way. Having evaded escape by living in York and taking the pseudonym of John Palmer he was arrested for horse theft but, while authorities were sure he wasn't “John Palmer” they had no proof he was Dick Turpin. The case was originally solved when Turpin wrote a letter to his brother-in-law who, on examining the postmark, refused to accept it as he did not know anyone from York. From there, the letter went on to another Post Office where, by chance, the local postman who had coincidentally taught Turpin to write recognised his handwriting and thereby proved his true identity. Pretty freaky, huh? Equally strange was CCS finishing the regular season with a win despite his team being hamstrung by injuries. About three weeks ago he traded me Clayton Kershaw and received Scott Baker and Huston Street. While Kershaw is looking very decent Baker is now out for the season and Street is on the 15 day DL. Missing the Narve-dog can't help too much either. His win this week was due primarily to Cano (30) and Ryan Howard (26) with only Jeff Karstens (19) doing much on the pitching side. TTTIRTN had some passable hitting from JJ Hardy (31), JD Martinez (25) and Alexei Ramirez (20) but was severely let down by a staff that totalled only 13 points. Chris Perez was halfway decent with 20 and Vogelsong got him 16, but Weaver had a meltdown for -19 and Carlos Zambrano had a serious meltdown for -17 before storming out and stating he was refusing to play for CCS ever again.
Never Gonna Give You Upton (190) lost to Little Lebowski's Under Achievers (260)
If there's on thing I can't wait for (and, by that, I really mean one thing I definitely can wait for) its for the next Hall of Fame voting to launch the next interminable debate about PEDs. Even though he's unlikely to get in McGwire will still be on the ballot as are Palmeiro and Juan Gonzales who were both also linked to PEDs. So too is Jeff Bagwell who has been linked to PEDs in the same way that I have been linked to dating stunning female models – I've heard that other people have done it, but I've no personal experience whatsoever. In a way PEDs matter greatly because it is, to a great extent, a question about personal morals, following regulations and the question about the extent to which these impinge on what are often superlative sporting achievements. On the other hand, PEDs don't really matter at all. The contest between pitcher and hitter is just as thrilling regardless if whether one of them is taking PEDs, a huge dinger is still a huge dinger and there's no PED that helps a catcher call a good game. Still,the question that still lurks is whether those who deliberately take PEDs and try to gain an illegal advantage should be rewarded and its one that there will never be a truly satisfactory answer for. Until now. As usual, a careful study of ancient history provides the semblance of an answer to the question. In Roman times, chariot races were the equivalent of a career in baseball nowadays – it had none of the thuggishness of gladiatorial combat (read: American football), was a team sport and was the path to financial reward and legendary status. As a result there was considerable competition and, where there are high stakes and high financial rewards people will seek any type of edge. As a result, the ancient equivalent of steroids were introduced in the sport in the form of boar dung. To be more specific, a drink made from dried boar dung would be drunk by charioteers in the belief it would help their performance in the same way as gladiators often drank a liquid made primarily from bone ash as part of their preparations. And thus we have an answer to our present day PED problem. Drug testing should be made completely rigorous, testing for as many possible drugs in as many ways as possible and severe punishments put in place (including automatic removal from any HoF ballots in the future). However, players could, should they wish, make themselves automatically exempt from any testing should they be willing to drink boar dung liquid on the day of each game in which they play. Before first pitch. In front of the entire crowd. Its a primitive, debasing approach I'm suggesting, but if it played a small part in helping the Romans maintain a massive Empire then its good enough for me. Not to actually drink though, that'd be disgusting but anything that could make Pujols look an idiot on national television is surely worthy of further consideration?
Poughkeepsie Footpickers (241) beat The Braun Supremacy (181)
Our biology is a weird thing. Why, of all things, should peanuts be potentially fatal to so many people when they taste delicious and make a delicious butter in a way that, say, cauliflowers don't (I speak, of course, from the experience gained through my disastrous attempt to sell “Cauli-butter” to various supermarket chains throughout the UK). Why, even more scarily, are some people severly allergic to sunlight? And why should there be people out there who have to sleep almost constantly for two weeks at a time? That's what has happened to 15 year-old Louise Ball who has recently hit the headlines after being diagnosed with the very rare Kleine-Levin Syndrome which is thought to be the result of an abnormality in the brain and usually disappears by adulthood. Louise even managed to miss an entire week's family holiday as she slept through the whole thing, but given it was a week's caravanning I suspect she merely pretended to be asleep the entire time to avoid the monotony of sitting in perpetual traffic jams as part of a search for the next camp site. Still, sleeping for two weeks at a time must seem like nothing compared to the massive self-induced sleep of TBS who has really not participated in the league for the last couple of months (unless I've very much missed something). With the exception of Kinsler (31), Lincecum (29), Prado (22), Nolasco and Tim Hudson (both 21) his team was relatively catatonic an achieved little. PF strolled to victory with only Melky Cabrera (34) really hitting top gear. Pujols (24), Matt Harrison (21) and Buerhle (20) were the only other players who scored at least 20, but when you're up against TBS that's all you'll probably need.
Harvey's Wallbangers (277) lost to Phoenix Fire (323)
Malcolm Gladwell wrote about expertise being the result of putting in roughly 10,000 hours worth of work in your specialist subject, meaning that what often seems to be natural talent and instinct is actually the result of monotonous hours of extra work that other take for granted. The result is that even the most laid-back and chilled sports star actually has displayed considerably more dedication than the average person can be bothered to dredge up. The positive side is that they become stars and objects of adulation. The downside is that they can occasionally become driven to ridiculous levels. Outside of Scotland and cycling circles there's few people who've heard of Graeme Obree but, if you're looking for an example of the latter, he's about the best example you can get. Unheralded at the start of the 90s Obree set out to hold the most prestigious record in track cycling, the one hour record where you race around a track, lactic acid deadening your legs for lap after lap to see how much track you can cover. Your lungs pack up, you can't get breath into your body quickly enough and your legs feel like they're on fire but you continue for lap after hideous lap. At the time, Italian legend Francesco Moser's record had stood for nine years and was considered almost unbeatable, certainly unbeatable if you're riding a bicycle that you've built yourself (including using bits from a washing machine) which involves riding in a bizarre style with the handlebars under your chest. Obree turned up at the track in Norway and set off pedalling. Unfortunately, after an hour he was about a kilometre short of Moser's 51.151 kilometres. It was like saying you'll beat the 100 metre athletics world record and missing out by a huge quarter of a second. Having booked the track for 24 hours Obree refused to give up and decided, despite his failure and the pain he'd endured, to give it another shot the next day. As his muscles were, unsurprisingly, completely shattered he felt he needed to take regular stretching exercises to keep them in condition through the night but, as he worried that being woken up with an alarm would cause adrenaline to course through his body, he developed a weird ritual that night. On going to bed he did his stretching exercises before downing a few pints of water. A couple of hours later he'd wake up bursting for the toilet, rush to the loo, do his stretching and then drink more water and so on and so on. The next day he went to a deserted velodrome (all the media having left after his previous failure) and bust the record by about 500 metres. He'd proved to himself that he could achieve glory in the most unlikely setting. But the story doesn't end there. The record was won back by the more famous Chris Boardman less than a week later and then by Moser who used Obree's novel bike design but rode at altitude. Obree then won it back before Indurain took the record in 1994. By then the authorities had banned his bike and when Obree designed a different bike and won a world championship that was banned too. He was signed to ride the Tour de France and, according to his team was thrown off prior to the start for being unprofessional. According to Obree he refused to take part once it became clear that he'd be expected to take drugs and for Obree his image was sacrosanct. Unfortunately, although a legend who was driven enough to prove that an unknown from a country with little cycling heritage could hold the most prestigious title in cycling, Obree also suffered from bi-polar disorder and attempted suicide more than once and has found it hard to survive having loved a sport that so cruelly rejected him. Not to belittle Obree's efforts, but his achievements almost shrink to nothing compared to PF's valiant attempt to catch LLUA for a place in the promotion play-off. Unfortunately, LLUA won so his efforts were in vain, but he can at least look back on a mammoth win courtesy of huge batting from Jay Bruce (45), Uggla (32), Encarnacion (30) and Konerko (27). Papelbon and Valverde (both 26) anchored a solid looking staff. Harvey's put up a good week but never really got close enough despite high scores from Papi (35), Granderson (31), Kemp (29) and Toriiiii Hunter (24).
Chin Music (131) lost to Stinky Cheese (307)
Sometimes we're obliviously unaware of the vagaries of fate. The film “Sliding Doors” with Gwynneth Paltrow and John Hannah about the divergent course of life and romance based on whether the Paltrow character managed to catch a train or not was the perfect illustration of this fact. Perfect in that most of the people who watched the film were left thinking about how much more marvellous the last couple of hours would have been had they done something more fulfilling than watch such a dreary mess of a film, such as regrouting the bathroom, cleaning the crayon off the walls that your two year-old had scrawled on last night or even listening to “Go Cubs Go” on permanent loop. To this day, Hiroshima is linked insolubly with being the first victims of the atomic bomb, but, had things been different it would have been Kyoto and not Hiroshima that was destroyed. A list of five cities was drawn up by the wonderfully-named “Target Committee” (rumoured still to meet in downtown Minneapolis) including Hiroshima and Kyoto. Originally there was momentum behind choosing Kyoto as it was felt the “intellectual” nature of the populace would be most likely to understand the huge importance of the event. Fortunately for those living there it was reprieved as the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, felt it was of too great cultural significance. Primarily, this was due to the fact that he had been on honeymoon to the city a few decades earlier and it therefore had special meaning for him. Ultimately, had the Secretary been a man of less wide-ranging cultural interest or had he chosen a different Far-Eastern city as his honeymoon destination thousands would have died in Kyoto instead and few Westerners would pay any particular attention to the name “Hiroshima”. The relatively minor holiday choice of one man in the USA meant the difference between life and death for so many people. Fate equally caught up with Chin Music as his promotion push effectively ended over the last couple of weeks, with the final nails in the coffin delivered by a majestic Stinky Cheese. CM's batting was almost non-existent with Braun an A-Gon top-scoring with a mere 17 points. His pitching wasn't much better with Venters (17), Rafael Perez and Chris Sale (16) being just about acceptable. SC won with ease due to Maybin, Nelson Cruz (both 32), Neftali Feliz (27) and Bourn (25). In fact, SC not only won the overall match-up but won every single day of the contest as well...
Social Anxiety All Stars (180) lost to Gold Glove Gamels (249)
It is strange how the things that fascinated us as children still seem to have an unnatural hold over us when we are adults. In the same way that we can be walking down a hospital corridor and the smell of the disinfectant can spark off instant memories of the same smell in the school bathroom 20 years ago, we sometimes find ourselves returning to the same interests we had when we were younger. Often this is the result of having children as we find ourselves drawn to encouraging our kids to have the same hobbies we did when younger, whether that be baseball, bird-watching or 10 pin bowling. Its pretty rare, though, to base one's career around a childhood interest, but that's what happened to Michael Ventris. Although he was trained as an architect he always remembered a talk in a museum about some undeciphered writing on stone tablets in Crete known as Linear B that had defied all attempts to translate them. This eventually became an obsession for Ventris who worked slavishly over the problem and, after much trial and error, finally cracked the code and proved that, contrary to the existing view of the vast majority of scholars, the Minoan civilisation did not dominate the Greek world for seven centuries before the ascendancy of classical Greece. Ventris achieved this despite the lack of the general tools for deciphering hieroglyphics that existed for other languages and despite the lack of any formal training in the subject. Ventris's achievement was such that it has been called “one of the greatest intellectual achievements of the English-speaking peoples since 1900”. Excluding, obviously, the invention of the Pop Tart. Unfortunately, Ventris struggled with depression and is believed to have committed suicide in a car crash but not before leaving his mark of the study of classical civilisation, if not in the field of architecture. SAAS has put in a similar effort over the course of the season only to be beaten out of top spot on the points scored tie breaker although neither his performances or those of winner MSKM have done much to convince recently. SAAS scored a mere 180 points with 160 of these coming from a hitting line-up that scored adequately thanks to Callaspo (23), Pierzynski and Josh Hamilton (both 21) and Casey Kotchman (20). CJ Wilson (20) and Fernando Salas (14) were the only pitchers to contribute significantly as his staff scored a mere 20 points. Primary lesson: the new improved D-Train (-15) may look cool and shiny but, like the Springfield monorail, will pretty quickly fall apart...
Bumping Ugglas (175) lost to More Than A Feeling (286)
I'm guessing that not many people reading this screed will ever have been to Winchester Cathedral, a massive gothic edifice in Hampshire, England which was originally built during the 11th Century and is best known for being the final resting place of Jane Austen who is commonly believed to be the most over-rated author ever in the whole history of the written word. However, the best thing about Winchester Cathedral is the story of William Walker. Unfortunately, the cathedral was built on marshy ground and by the start of the 20th Century was in serious danger of completely collapsing. In order to shore up the foundation walls 235 holes were dug which rapidly filled with water, with Walker diving into these pits to support the bases of the walls with concrete. In his full diving suit Walker plunged into each pit in turn placing a total of 25,000 bags of cement, 115,000 concrete blocks and 900,000 bricks. As the water was full of silt Walker had to do all this in complete darkness. He did this laborious and boring task every weekday for six whole years with every weekend spent cycling the 150 miles to Croydon to visit his family and then cycling back. While from all accounts Walker was remarkably laid back about his work I'm not sure how many people these days would be prepared to put up with the sheer monotony that his work involved. Still, I keep on writing these updates despite the incredibly boring nature of reporting every week on another win by MTaF. This week there wasn't much of a challenge as BU never really turned up. CarGo scored 28 and Bloomquist got 21 but it was his pitching that let him down as it only scored a total of 30 points, mainly due to Ogando's -17. MTaF breezed to victory, Sergio Santos and MadBum (29) spearheading the pitching, while Jesus Guzman (27), Victorino (22) and Longoria (21) scored the most batting points.
More Than A Feeling – 987 (16-2, East)
Gold Glove Gamels – 910 (11-7, West)
Phoenix Fire – 909 (8-10, East)
Stinky Cheese – 886 (13-5, West)
Poughkeepsie Footpickers – 871 (11-7, South)
Bringing Home the Bacon – 857 (13-5, West)
Harvey's Wallbangers – 790 (7-11, South)
Little Lebowski – 789 (9-9, East)
MSKM – 738 (9-9, North)
Bumpin' Ugglas – 728 (12-6, South)
Social Anxiety All Stars – 685 (8-10, North)
The Braun Supremacy – 657 (5-13, East)
Never Gonna Give You Upton – 651 (6-12, South)
Chin Music – 629 (6-12, North)
Craig Counsell's Steakhouse – 578 (4-14, West)
The Team I Refuse to Name – 566 (6-12, North)
Next week's match-ups
I'll get these done later today so everyone can know who they are due to play in the play-offs. That way hopefully there won't be any last-minute ESPN changes to the scores and everything should be all sorted. Capisce?