Summer League Journaltm

1995 Review/1996 Preview

Can the Cannibals/Mello Yello/Armada threepeat?

DEKALB(AP) - After another successful summer for the Hannibal-Pocatello-Toronto franchise, team owner, GM, Vice President in charge of baseball operations and head talent evaluator Greg Nims has once again uprooted and taken the team elsewhere. Just as he told good friend Art Modell, Nims' business motto is "Always go where the best deal is." After playing in such fine stadiums as the Hannibal Multiplex, Potato Field at Pocatello Yards, and the Armadome, look for Nims to strike an incentive laden deal in another city somewhere in North America. Rumor has it that the Hannibal Council for Tourism is putting together an attractive package to try to lure the team back. Hannibal mayor Samuel Clemens, VIII, states "The Cannibal franchise has been the backbone of the local economy and public pride off-and-on for a decade in all major sports. Nims even tried to form Hannibal University to strive for a Big 12 expansion school. From Lloyd Moseby...Bird, Barkely, Benjamin and the Blazers in the backcourt...the famed '55' Salmon and Buhner...we feel its time to strive for some permanence." For now, the team is stationed in DeKalb, IL, where Nims is completing his masters degree in sports simulations.

As for 1995, Nims once again dominated the league, twice compiling the best regular season record and winning the World Series once in two tries. Snagging Greg Maddux with the first pick in the draft, the Mello Yello staff was unstoppable, finishing the regular season tied with House of David Hairy Jesus Freaks for best record. With Maddux going in the one game playoff, POMY easily finished off the House and their ace, Jason Bere. POMY then took the series 4-2, for the franchise's second world championship. Their offense was led by Brady Anderson, Rafael Palmeiro, Tim Salmon, and Jay Buhner, the latter two being all time franchise favorites.

For 1995 B: The Sequel, Armada fans were disappointed to hear that they would never see Greg Maddux wearing the famous triangle-adorned jerseys of the Armada. Before the franchise played a game in the Armadome, Maddux was sent sailing for three players: Bret Saberhagen, Mike Mussina, and Larry Walker, who immediately changed his name to Herman Menderchuk. Maddux was surely missed, but Nims could not pass up a deal for two top notch pitchers and a top hitter in Menderchuk, who turned out to be league MVP. "Sure, it was a brilliant trade," says Nims, "but look who I made it with. It wasn't a lot of work to swing that one." The Armada cruised to the league's top record, but faltered in the World Series. "I really think we missed Maddux," said Nims, "we missed his competitive spark. Losing Jay didn't help, either. He really scared the shit out of opponents."

Nims was referring to Jay Buhner, exulted Cannibal/Mello Yello. Buhner was an important cog in the first two titles, but his contributions were undermeasured by POMY execs. After determining that his spot would be given to Menderchuk, Armada execs did not attempt to draft him, and he signed with the Armada's main rival, the hated Xanadu Honeydews. Xanadu rode his fiery play, clubhouse leadership, and boyish charm to their first world title. Buhner was also on the first place (at the time) Calumet City Killers in the ill-fated 1995 C: The Final Chapter season. Buhner is proud to say that he was an important member of the infamous 'forty games a day' team. As a result, Jay has been a member of every summer league champ and pseudo-champ.

As for '96, Nims odes not look to change his strategy. "We'll win with pitching, defense, speed, and timely hitting. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And you can quote me on that," said Nims. Asked if any particular players sparked his interest, Nims replied, "Of course Buhner does, and there should be some diamonds in the rough. My fine-toothed comb should find a few." Asked about the prospect of expansion franchises awarded next summer, Nims stated "New meat is dead meat."

Keith Klein's Jamaica/House of David/Xanadu franchise had a summer of frustration and relief. After another playoff elimination at the hands of POMY, Xanadu finally came through and won a world title in their third season. When asked of the key players in their victorious season, Klein responded, "Oh, most definately the key was Buhner. He brought a winning attitude that we've never had here before."

Odds to win the Series


Random Notes

Two players have stood out as the cream of the crop in Summer League history. The greatest player in SL history (thus far) would have to be Jay Buhner. Jay has been on every champ and pseudo-champ in league history. His chiseled good looks seem to just will his teams to victory. Another player that pulls his team above the pack is Andy Van Slyke. Maybe its his religious beliefs, but Andy played in every playoff game during the first 3 seasons of the league.

1996 Outlook

Here it is, early April, and APBA is just around the corner. How are the managers preparing?

Keith Klein, perennial runner-up, has always been the most thorough scouter of the league. This year, like others, Keith will probably carry 3 to 4 'J-4's on his roster. A wasted roster spot to most, these players have been big players in key games (Rene Gonzales' 10 triples in a series vs. POMY). Known for his relief corps, for good to Gott, Keith normally has a better than average offense with solid pitching and defense.

Ken Klein, league commissioner and self-proclaimed king of APBA, is known for explosive offenses. His lineups regularly pound opposing pitching staffs to demoralization. However, this concentration on hitting takes its toll on the team's other aspecsts. While the defense is not too shabby, the pitching staff is normally made up of 3 to 4 of the worst 5 starters in the league. Despite this disadvantage, his staff ERA is always respectable, and complements the offense very well. In '95, Ken broke through and made the Series, after an infamous late season collapse in '94. Ken has determined fatigue as the main factor during the '94 stretch run and the '95 series, and has implemented new training procedures for his players this spring. "Lots of running, and to cut down on the Golden Draft Light to only 5 nights a week."

Chris Klein, Charlie O. protege, is known as a fiery manager. Always looking to steal the headlines, he puts himself before the team. "Ya gotta look out for A-number-1," is the 'team' motto. Previously the weak sister of the Kleins in the Summer League, Chris was powering his way to the top record in the 1995C season, before disaster struck, destroying the league, and making all his work moot. "Thank God we had Buhner," Chris said in relief, finally earning a little respect from his peers. I would try to describe Chris' managerial style, but since his roster changes daily, that's a futile exercise.

Dan Casper, perennial also-ran, is looking to hit paydirt for the first time this season. "I'm the only original franchise member without a playoff game, and we look to change that this year." Casper decided that some stability was needed to groom the team for success, so he built a multi-billion dollar stadium/theme park in the Baton Rouge tri-county area this past winter. Dan used what he termed a "major real estate maneuver" to acquire 400 acres of land for about $400. "They say the land is sinking into the Mississippi, but they don't know what they're talking about," Dan defended. "I had another deal going for some good land out by the airport, but the crack houses and hookers iddn't represent the family atmosphere I was trying to construct." Some of the features of this 21st century marvel are spittoons at every seat and an attraction in the theme park title "Visit Tobacco Road".

1996 Questions

Like every season, many questions are up in the air for the 1996 season. Some of which are:

Who can play center?
How many games?
Will Nims _finally_ sweep the series?

The data disk has been out for a couple of weeks now, and the early returns are in. Maddux is definately awesome, but Randy Johnson is much more impressive than expected. Belle sure is great, and McGwire's J-2 makes his 39 HR in ~310 AB very impressive. Ivan's J-1, 9+6 is tough to beat behind the plate. Mesa rocks. See you in May!

Written and published 4/96 by greg.