Personal issues aside, I am forever returning to the Summer League. Thanks all for setting me back on this path. The assurance of less time commitment by starting the draft today was a big plus in SL 2000's favor.
If you were wondering, I am in a very positive frame of mind. I loved the comment Ken made at the end of his Tearers review, "All in all I had a lot of fun and look forward to all future seasons." Ken was lambasted all season long because of a draft-day (is that the wrong expression for a 6-week long process?) decision while I was lauded for winning the President's Cup, yet ultimately he was positive about the season and I was negative. To me that meant a change of attitude was necessary. Follow along with me.
Failure isn't failure if a lesson is learned. Others have realized this while I haven't. I will heretofore treasure every win and loss, meticulous scouting session, and heated SL chat because I love baseball, I love my friends and family, I love the challenges of the Summer League, I love the pressure of drafting with worthy opponents, I love the emotion of each game. In the spirit of Bob continuously saying at the '99 Fall Meeting, "I love you man," here's my homage to those of us fortunate enough to be involved in SL 2000:
Doug Basler, former All-Lake County setter at Mundelein in 1996, might not be in the SL this year, but it's just a temporary thing. He's got the midi-chlorians inside him to one day capture a title. We all hope Europe is going well for him, and will bring him some of the perspective that will fuel his fire throughout his life and his future Summer League seasons. Good luck, Doug.
You may remember Dave Basler, our newest participant, as the Senior Class President at Mundelein thirteen years ago. I ask that we don't hold it against him that he's friends with Jim Frank. Dave wins the Uncle Steve Dillard Award for rookie enthusiasm and preparedness, first awarded to Steve Swinea in '97, for his willingness to respond to email, his sabrmetrics, and for his driving in from Des Moines to attend the Winter Meeting. After winning the award, Steve went on to make the playoffs in just his second season. Dave has made it known he doesn't care to wait that long before making his first playoff appearance. Cocky, trash-talking, more-wealthy-than-the-veterans sounds more like an NBA rookie. Good luck, Dave.
To Graham Haas, the Mundelein High School Class of '88 Most Valuable Athlete, I owe a debt of gratitude. When I was penniless and trying to advance my writing career by "working" the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Graham holed me up at his apartment in McDonough, GA for two plus weeks. I should have returned the favor a little more kindly in the '99 SL. According to his roommate Greg, Graham's been talking SL since the day the season ended, so you needn't do a dance when the draw reveals you to be in the same division with him this is payback time. Good luck, Graham.
He of the consecutive cars-parked streak, Bob Taterka, the man who built Barat College's women's volleyball from scratch, reacted to constructive criticism in '98 and '99 with a maelstrom of fury. But the joke was on us. He was taking his licks, trying to learn the minutiae while learning some of the basics. What worries me most is that in each of his first two years, he's drafted well, oh, and he's the only one to hold a winning record against me. It's the third year of his third year plan and he's ready to put his seasoning to the test. Good luck, Bob.
Steve Swinea, the man who once "mocked the game" of softball with his batting stance on a 3-1 pitch according to one Mundelein Park District umpire, keeps pushing the envelope. He'll try almost anything to give his club an advantage, and in terms of rule proposals, it seems he'll think of almost anything. If you know Steve, he's not trying to offend anyone, like Bob does unbeknownst to the over-serious, he's really just trying to take some of the seriousness out of the game. As the elder APBA stateman, that's his SL destiny. Regarding SL 2000, imagine how good a team Steve will have if he doesn't repeat the mistakes of '99 should definitely have a Spit Cup contender. Good luck, Steve.
Is Joe Hauser, a former drinking champion at NIU, the only one of us without ties to Mundelein? Hmmmm. I don't think that's a bad thing. Another thing I don't think is bad is the "non-Klein/Nims playoff-run hangover" he's due for in 2000. In '96, John's Keggers went on into the last weekend of the season with playoff hopes. His franchise missed out on that opportunity and never recovered. Dan made a run at Ken in that same season, and we all know the rest. Steve hit it big in '98, guiding his Porters into Game 7 of the semifinals. But he lost that game, then finished 12 games under in '99. Bob is further evidence of the hangover, after challenging Greg for the '98 Wild Card, then finishing near the bottom of the league in '99. Joe has more SL experience than these guys did, so we may have to rename it the "non-Klein/Nims/Hauser playoff-run hangover." Good luck, Joe.
Ken Klein, Twin Orchard's 1996 Employee Golf Champ, is ready for redemption. Considering how large we've all been saying Ken's recent "mistakes" have been, he's only six games under .500 over the last two seasons. Anything can happen in SL 2000, including someone taking the first non-alcoholic drink from the Spit Cup. Ken schooled me on the game for a bunch of years, I hope he can learn one thing from me for 2000, about his 22nd year of playing in APBA leagues balance is a good thing. Good luck, Ken.
If you include the lost season of '95C*, Chris Klein, Carl Sandburg Junior High Spelling Champ circa 1979, probably would have the overall best regular season record on the All-Time list. And his 3 championships are second only to Greg. Yet the only press he seems to get is from that Vox Populi guy. Unbelievable. The Seargeant-at-Arms-East in '99 will likely resume that duty in 2000 despite his objections. But with the draft beginning three months earlier and the season stretching itself out accordingly, he's expecting to be able to do less prodding this year and spend more time concentrating on his team. Good luck, Chris.
Many people wonder if Greg Nims, a present Frolf champion, a former Acacademic All-Conference Football player at Mundelein and a future Major League Umpire, will falter one of these years. It's not much of a question because if he keeps up a semblance of his Proven Formula®, he'll stay near the top of the mountain. '99 was a little different in terms of his team make-up, but he didn't stray in wild ways like others sometime do. Prediction: we all may be treading in chilly, wet water this summer. Good luck, Greg. Almost forgot, I hope Greg makes 27 unquestionably good picks in the draft so I can devote his space in the 2000 Draft Notes to talking about http://thehungersite.com.
Hey, that was fun. One last thing, I too don't want anyone to feel overly-pressured during the draft, but I want us to still communicate quickly. A great way to do that is through Instant Messanger, available as a free download at http://home.netscape.com. Some firewalls prevent this to work correctly, as do some work situations and schedules, but if you have a chance to use this tool, please do so. It'll gave us that much more time to think about our picks. In a perfect world, we'd all get in a chat room and knock off the draft in a few hours. But that doesn't lend itself to 1) the meticulousness we all enjoy about the draft, and 2) our rigorous schedules. Happy drafting and good luck in SL 2000.
the day of the Winter Meeting
Everybody have fun tonight, everybody Wang Chung tonight.