As we sit here, very unmajestically, atop the SL Central at a paltry 37-33, we areanxiously awaiting the second half. There are many questions yet to be answered by my team (and for others probably), but there is still plenty of time left, and it is too early for anyone to start selling their players. Yes, John, that was aimed at you. My opinion is that everything has gone as I had pictured it so far for my team. I didn't come out of the draft with the exact team that I wanted, but probably the closest that I ever have. Also, while I am in first, I still haven't reached my own personal expectations (5-15 against Ken & Jim?), but again I am close. With 92 games left, there are still a million things that can and probably will happen. Once again, good luck to all owners and I hope they are having fun!
We learned from the 1996 Summer League and Major Leagues that the best team won't necessarily be the one that wins the World Series. It is somewhat of a valid comparison to compare last year's Vedders and Yankees, so I am going to compare some of this year's clubs with a possible major league counterpart.
CICERO-Obviously, The Los Angeles Dodgers come to mind. All five starters are righties, and there is not a weak one in the group. Offensively there is something lacking when the one or two big guns are not producing. Plus this is one of the more storied owners in the league, not unlike the O'Malley family etc. These comparisons alone should be enough to keep Cicero in the hunt for the duration.
SHAKOPEE-Dare I compare them to the Twins? I will resist the temptation, and take a look at McGwire's other team. They built their 1997 team around the bash brothers, and whether he wanted to or not, Joe did the same around the long ball specialists, McGwire and Griffey. After that, there may be some deficiencies, but nothing that can't be worked on.
CHICO-This was one of the hardest comparisons, but the Boston Red Sox come to mind for the history of this franchise. Always a good group of players assembled (John has drafted one of the top teams in both of his seasons), but they seem to have some trouble on the field. Not to mention the fact that they are last in stealing every year. But the last few games seemed to be a turning point for the Walkers, so the second half should be one of optimism. (Editor's note: Chico Walker himself was with the BoSox from '80-'84)
MOBILE-New York Mets. For sure the surprise team of the SL, Jim so far is finding ways to win each game. One day it will be with pitching, the next game some unlikely hero will get the game winning hit late in the game. A strong bullpen and a stealing team are two of Jim's traits, however, that the Mets don't necessarily share.
SOUTH SYRINX-Atlanta Braves. While Ken's rotation probably falls a bit short here, it arguably is the league's best (the top 3 starters for sure). In addition to that, he has a talented offense, and not unlike the Lofton trade, he went out and filled the positions that he needed or was lacking.
MOUNTAIN VIEW-I couldn't come up with a 1997 team to match Greg's style, but there are several matches I could make. He is an owner not unlike Charlie Finley. Wouldn't Greg snap up Herb Washington if available? And as a manager he is either like Felipe Alou for getting the most out of his players, or like Tony La Russa, for using all of his players every game. In spite of the hot start by Mystic, Mountain View is probably still the favorite to win the title.
MYSTIC-Baltimore Orioles. Quickly off to a runaway lead, with the best record, these teams seem somewhat similar. And the fact that it is the pitching staffs that have put them there is the surprise. Both teams have pitching staffs pitching way over their heads, and an offense that has tremendous potential, but hasn't even come close to reaching it yet.
ST. PETE-Cleveland Indians. Above average hitters up and down the lineup, and a suspect (at best) pitching corps are the lead factors here. But surprisingly good defense and good stealers are some of the less obvious qualities of this personal favorite. GOOD LUCK TEAMS!