I angered the APBA Gods, and this writeup is my first attempt at getting back on their good side. My first transgression was not writing a review for my 2002 Gretna Rabid Dogs. The Dogs won the President's Cup, but lost in the Semi-Finals, for my first non-World Series since '96. I could not get over my mis-managing by pitching Randy Johnson in Game 161 that caused him to only start one game in my 4-2 series loss to Keith. The pain of even thinking about this monumental mistake forced me to skip writing a review, perhaps my first ever.
So the 2002-2003 offseason started off poorly. I then commited what was probably my biggest mistake with the APBA Gods, and one I'm not proud to admit, but I didn't really name my team after an existing town. I wanted to be the Honest Tunes in memory of Michael Houser, and as a great play off Graham's Lingering Leads. For the uninitiated, there is a classic line on the original Widespread Panic album that goes "an honest tune and a lingering lead has taken me this far." So I searched high and low, and the best I could come up with was Honesty, TX. Whats a 'y' between friends? I went with Honest, just to make it sound better. The the mistruth started to crumble when Coach Taterka asked in a league-wide email where Honest was. An email I guiltily ignored. Thus, the second angering of the Gods occurred.
We had a nice break between the season and the draft, which was a big improvement on the previous year. I think the layoff between the arrival of the disk and the draft hurt me, as I ran all these preplays and put a little too much stock in the results. I recently read Ken's review, and it sounds like he might've given himself the same problem. Drafting Halladay (14HZ), Maddux (14GZ), and Schilling (12ZZ!), in the first 3 rounds doomed the Tunes to mediocrity, at best. There were other reasons why we tumbled to 63 wins, but the first three picks really determined why the Tunes became a bad team. The three compiled the following stats:
W L ERA IP H K BB HR Halladay 10 13 4.60 246.1 235 154 96 33 Maddux 6 13 4.41 210.0 208 86 87 28 Schilling 6 14 5.46 196.0 241 214 38 38
I broke the cardinal rule of the early rounds, which is to draft impact players. None of them could have even invisioned an impact season, altho Halladay had a slight chance. Schilling and his 12ZZ in the 3rd round? You must be joking. When you take 3 starters in the first 3 rounds and they go 22-40, you are DONE.
I further damaged the rotation by going for Elmer Dessens, 12LZ, as my 4th starter. Ugh. Elmer and his L managed to go 4-13 with a 7.50 ERA. Burnett pitched ok, but finished 1-7 with a 5.30.
Despite taking starters with our first 3 picks, we finished 7th in the league in Quality Starts. Somehow, Houser and Honest combined to finish 7th and 8th in Quality Starts, yet 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in Complete Games. Which I guess is somewhat related, as the longer a pitcher stays in the game, the more likely the pitcher gives up a 4th run to make it no longer a Quality Start.
Since I had such a "great rotation", I drafted highly rated but somewhat limited innings relievers. I thought I put together a solid pen, but they did compile the second-worst baserunners per 9 in the league. They did finish 4th in ERA, just 0.22 behind the leader (Shungnak), but in the dead middle in runs per 9, 0.63 behind the leader (Shungnak) and 0.63 behind the worst team, Houser. The numbers:
W L S ERA IP H K BB HR Crudale 4 3 7 1.37 79.0 46 73 25 4 Mariano 5 0 2 2.06 52.1 45 41 19 2 Cordero 6 7 3 3.21 67.1 45 48 27 6 Nen 8 13 8 3.42 110.2 89 85 40 11 Roberts 4 4 0 3.64 64.1 59 33 26 4 Durocher 5 8 1 3.73 70.0 59 63 24 11 Boehringer 0 0 4 4.50 16.0 16 8 5 3 Stanton 1 2 2 5.25 85.2 79 46 45 13
Mike Crudale (19GZ) was probably the top reliever, but the ERA hides the fact that 3/7 of his runs allowed were unearned. Mariano pitched well after coming over in the trade, and the whole bullpen pitched generally ok, but it just didn't mesh. Nen, as an 18XHZ and with the most appearances and innings, was used as my key pivot man, and he just performed poorly. Not horrible numbers, but he blew 10 saves, 4th in the league (Gagne 14, Donnelly 13, Eischen 13).
The pen with limited appearances and innings made me leave my crappy starters in too much, and my limited appearances caused me to lose a lot of the "first batter" bonus.
What cannot be ignored when talking about the pitching is the defense. In an effort to put together a good offense after taking mediocre starters early, I took many defensive liabilities. Alfonso Soriano (2B6) is obviously the biggest culprit. He did hit fairly well, hitting 32 jacks, stealing 28 bases (with 19 caught), scoring 87 (3rd on the team) and driving in 91 (tied for team lead). But he had a 140-15 K:BB ratio, and lets not forget his defense. He commited 32 errors, nearly as many errors as double plays (41), and allowed countless hits that a real secondbaseman would have gotten.
I could just go around the lineup selecting mistakes, so lets go to short. I selected Jose Hernandez right after Matt took Omar Vizquel. I wanted one of those two, and I knew Ken still needed a shortstop, so I took Jose. I thought taking him this late in the draft, despite his 8, could be a good move. His power would be nice, or so I thought. He did hit 20 jacks and 35 doubles, but thats about it. He scored 58 and drove in 61, while whiffing 191 times.
The Hernandez pick cascaded into my stalling on Olerud, and losing him when Steve snagged him on his pick just a few slots after I took Hernandez. Not getting Olerud as a full time firstbasemen, and a 5 at that, then cascaded into the mistaken idea of drafting Durazo, Phelps, Millar, Fullmer, and Burrell to fill the starting 1B/DH/OF spots. Not a single one of those guys could field worth a darn, which was a great combination with my Soriano-Hernandez keystone combination. Then I compounded the problem by not selecting any bench players who could play the infield capably.
To cap the draft off, I selected Brian Boehringer thinking he was a higher grade than he actually was, leading to too long a discussion about it, and putting a relatively fitting ending on my draft.
Soriano did have a good year at the plate, finishing with the 3rd most Runs Created by a middle infielder. ARod led with 120.2, Nomar finished with 91.4, and Soriano was right on Nomar's tail with 89.1, good for 20th overall in the league.
I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the season. I mean, I enjoyed it as much as I think is possible considering the circumstances, but the pain was almost too much to endure. I think we had another strong season, games played quickly, everyone into it, etc. The playoffs were split half and half between the Klein/Nims axis of power and the "others". As of this writing, Steve will be playing Chris in the World Series for a chance at the first non-Klein/Nims Spit Cup champion. In addition to the Tunes having the worst record, Ken struggled all season but managed to slip past Graham to avoid last place in his division by one game. Bob's Shady Agenda had a strong second half that kept him in the Wild Card hunt and gave him his second consecutive finish above .500. Dave made his first playoff appearance and fought mightily before losing in controversial fashion. So, I'd say the State of the Summer League is quite good.
Just wait 'till next year.