The barstool's built for dreamersThe '99 season was to be a season where I reclaimed the best record in the regular season and made up for the poor Grand Junction squad I fielded the season before. The fact that they somehow won the Cup was irrelevant in my eyes.
Will fit fine, and find
All those in the world whose dreams have died
But tonight they're only taking thirsty people
Who've been pulling on their drinks
From a glass that lies a bar length wide
And in the drink there swim the swimmers
And those who swims have dried
1. Offerman 2B
2. Larkin SS
3. Belle DH
4. Simms LF
5. Piazza C
6. Helton 1B
7. Jordan OF
8. Cirillo 3B
9. Lawton OF
Simms was only a half-time player, when he sat Rondell White played center and batted ninth, with Piazza to Lawton all moved up a spot in the order. Top bench players included Gerald Williams OF3, Jose Hernandez YNIHPI, Otis Nixon PR (D32 w/ 73 SL attempts), Bip Roberts PR (D31 w/ 30 SL attempts), and Chris Widger C+2 (F33 w/ 11 SL attempts).
The offense left me with no complaints. We set league records for average and triples, and, most importantly, we led the league in runs scored, the third highest total of all time. We also had the highest OBP, lowest strikeouts, and the most steals. The lineup was a joy to manage, as I had the baserunning I need to function properly, and we scored a lot of runs. My outfield was a big rotation in center, and I am extremely happy with the production I got out of them, and I didn't even have to go for one of the hostages.
Individually, many players had outstanding seasons. Offerman (117 runs, 102 BB, 52 ST), Larkin (92 R, 92 RBI), Belle (38 HR, 94 R, 131 RBI), Simms (23 HR in 79 G), and Piazza (98 RBI) powered the offense, while Helton (21 HR, 66 R, 67 RBI), Jordan (20 HR, 68 R, 73 RBI), Cirillo (.283, 44 2B, 70 R, 63 RBI), and Lawton (19 HR, 77 R, 66 RBI) all contributed, perhaps my best lineup balance ever.
My rotation was:
With a bullpen of:
Steve Reed 13Z
The way I used my staff was criticized among some league members, but I spent a lot of picks in the draft acquiring a deep bullpen with a ton of innings pitched, to make up for my poor 4th and 5th starters. There was definately an "opportunity cost" to my team as a result.
My staff as a whole tied Liverpool with a 3.95 ERA, but my unearned runs were much higher than Liverpool's, so we finished second in runs allowed. Leiter won 18, while the rest of the rotation was adequate. Irabu started 31 games and had only 103 innings pitched. Hoffman anchored the bullpen by going 13-10 with 16 saves, sporting a 2.05 ERA. Cook (5-5, 12, 3.13), Lopez (8-4, 4, 2.46), and Reed (9-4, 10, 3.38) were phenomenal in their roles, while Kline (2-1, 3, 3.74) and Hasegawa (9-4, 0, 4.32 in 100 IP) did the jobs we asked of them.
The staff was actually fun to manage, as the deep and talented pen allowed me to make many moves. On a whole, this may have been the most enjoyable team I've ever had to manage. Normally, my teams are strong in starting pitching, which makes for a lot of nothing when it comes to managing. This year I scored a lot of runs, threw a ton of relief innings, and basically had fun.
I opened against Hibbing, and I felt extremely confident. I had a better team, and was much more experienced than Joe in the SL playoffs. I was hoping he would be a deer in the headlights and I could get a quick series victory and set my starters for the World Series. Boy, was I wrong.
Clemens vs. Leiter in game one, and the Hurricanes jumped all over Leiter. Al gave up 15 hits and 3 walks in 7 1/3, leading to 9 earned runs. I saved my pen a little and Leiter continued to get beaten in the 6th, 7th, and 8th (2 runs each inning), causing us to fall behind 9-4. Of course, the Dreamers plated 4 in the bottom of the 8th just to make me feel bad, losing 9-8. Jeff Kent (6 games) and Manny Ramirez (1) were both injured for the Hurricanes. Game two was Mussina vs. Cone, and Moose pitched well enough to get the ball to Hoffman in the 7th, and the bullpen closed out the 5-3 win. The top of the order provoded the firepower to even the series at a game a piece.
Game three was Perez vs. Schilling, and it was a barn burner. Perez was injured after 3 1/3 for 5 days, putting him out until late in the World Series, if we made it. We scrapped together a couple runs to take a 2-1 lead after 5, and it stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth. Hibbing managed to plate a runner without a hit, and we went into extra innings. Darryl Hamilton, scrub, led off the bottom of the 11th with a home run to win it, sending the Hibbing fans into a frenzy and the team up 2-1. Hibbing scored their 3 runs on only 2 hits.
After game 3, Joe and I called it quits. We were to finish the series a week later. It was, perhaps, the longest week of my life. I had Millwood, a 9, going in game 4, and if I even got to game 7, I would have Irabu (9L) on the hill. Things did not look good.
Millwood vs. Sele was the matchup in pivotal game 4. A win here, and Hibbing would be just about assured of a victory. Millwood came out, pitched a strong 1 1/3, and got injured for 10 days. This would mean Irabu would pitch in the World Series, if we got there. Things still weren't looking good. The Hurricanes scored 2 in the 3rd to go up 2-1. The Dreamers tied things up with a run in the 5th, and Todd Helton came through with a two run shot in the 6th to go up 4-2. Lopez and Cook took it home, winning 6-3.
Game 5 was another Leiter/Clemens matchup, and Leiter finally stepped up, throwing a complete game in a 4-2 win. Manny Ramirez was again injured, this time for 4 games. Bad luck everywhere in this series. The runs were produced by the bottom of the lineup this time, and the 'pen got some badly needed rest.
Game 6, with the Dreamers up 3-2, offered us the first chance to close the series. With Irabu scheduled for game 7, we needed this bad. Mussina vs. Cone. The Dreamers scored two in the first on a two run Piazza dong. Mussina outpitched Cone, giving up 1 run to Cone's 2 in 6 1/3. The game remained 2-1 until the ninth inning. Hibbing trailed, and we sent Hoffman to the hill. Things looked good, for once. Nomar reached on a single, and all-time SL HR king Greg Vaughn hit a hit&run triple to plate Nomar and tie the game, but was out going for the inside-the-park home run with Sammy Sosa on deck. Hoffman escaped the inning, but it wasn't enough to avoid the wrath of the Dreamer faithful. In the bottom of the ninth, Todd Helton won his second game of the series on a two-run shot, and the Dreamers were back to the World Series, the franchise's 6th appearance.
The World Series is a blur. Brown overpowered Leiter in game 1, and Helling, et al, outdueled Mussina, et al, in game 2. We started to worry. Things finally went right in game 3. We battled back from an early deficit to take a commanding 8-4 lead going into the bottom of the 7th, powered by Piazza's 4-4, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI performance. Hoffman gave up a run in the 7th and 3 in the 8th, his third blown save in the playoffs, and the series was essentially over. Posada went 3-3 with two dongs to lead the Rangers to a 7-4 victory in game 4, and Andrews won the franchise's 3rd Spit Cup.
Was it worth it all? You bet.