Well, two divisional races decided this week, and one going down to the wire, as well as the Wild Card spot. Not bad at all.
Sunday, August 24th
Cunning Linguists lost at The Naked Truth by 225.00 to 252.50 points
Lordz of Flatbush won at Dawgs from Easton by 267.50 to 220.83 points
NY Bombers lost at Fishing with Mendoza by 198.19 to 235.66 points
The 4 Horsemen won at Newburgh Naughties by 357.50 to 254.00 points
Michigan Wolverines won at Italian Ice by 271.83 to 194.00 points
Senators lost at Junior’s Bashers by 180.00 to 262.50 points
9 Angry Playaz lost at New York Squeaks by 264.84 to 297.34 points
Mattingly’s Hitmen won at Evil Empire by 308.66 to 185.67 points
Saxmania’s Swingers lost at The Larrupin’ Lous by 209.84 to 236.66 points
Team Won Lost % GB Average Max Min
Fishing with Mendoza 13 8 0.619 0 234.86 311.67 186.17
The Naked Truth 12 9 0.571 1 264.91 349.33 180.50
Lordz of Flatbush 10 11 0.476 3 244.44 344.33 154.33
NY Bombers 9 12 0.429 4 246.94 357.00 165.00
Cunning Linguists 8 13 0.381 5 250.92 377.17 171.83
Dawgz from Easton 6 15 0.286 7 222.67 359.33 144.84
Total 58 68 0.460 3.3 244.12 377.17 144.84
Team Won Lost % GB Average Max Min
Junior's Bashers 15 6 0.714 0 264.81 352.50 186.17
Michigan Wolverines 13 8 0.619 2 249.59 375.17 148.17
The 4 Horsemen 11 10 0.524 4 267.18 357.50 168.17
Newburgh Naughties 10 11 0.476 5 234.86 357.33 135.67
Senators 8 13 0.381 7 238.04 358.33 180.00
Italian Ice 8 13 0.381 7 219.99 314.67 156.33
Total 65 61 0.516 4.2 245.75 375.17 135.67
Team Won Lost % GB Average Max Min
New York Squeaks 16 5 0.762 0 264.22 371.50 180.50
9 Angry Playaz 14 7 0.667 2 253.38 321.00 139.84
Saxmania's Swingers 13 8 0.619 3 272.00 374.16 179.83
The Larrupin Lous 10 11 0.476 6 253.97 362.67 158.34
Mattingleys Hitmen 9 12 0.429 7 269.33 358.34 189.17
Evil Empire 4 17 0.190 12 233.44 298.33 142.50
Total 66 60 0.524 5.0 257.72 374.16 139.84
Team Won Lost % GB Average Division
9 Angry Playaz 14 7 0.667 0 253.38 Mantle Division
Saxmania's Swingers 13 8 0.619 1 272.00 Mantle Division
Michigan Wolverines 13 8 0.619 1 249.59 DiMaggio Division
Squeaks ascendant to clinch pennant, Playaz play waiting game
Proving their ability in clutch games, the Squeaks defeated their closest rivals for the Mantle Division title and thus ensured themselves of their pennant. The victory was made all the sweeter by the fact that the Playaz were the reigning Mantle Division champions, and that they now must hunt for a Wild Card spot during the final week of the season. In a dominating performance, Tim Hudson fuelled the Squeaks with a pair of wins in 14 innings of work, allowing only two runs during the week. Meanwhile, Sidney Ponson and Barry Zito chipped in with victories, and Kenny Lofton led the hitters with 13 base hits in seven days. Power was in short supply – apart from Mike Piazza’s two big flies, the lineup didn’t elevate much. It hardly mattered, with the Squeaks now priming themselves for a postseason clash, and wondering who they’ll face in the divisional series. A quick warmup against the Larrupin Lous comes next.
The Playaz’ rotation, on the other hand, was a major disappointment, with not one starter picking up a win. David Wells was hit particularly hard, giving up 10 earned runs in 5.1 innings, and Danny Haren’s two outings were severe enough to get him sent back down to the Cardinals’ minor league system. The hitting picked up somewhat, thanks to the ever-consistent Brad Wilkerson’s 8 RBIs, plus a pair of towering shots from Jim Edmonds and Jacque Jones. Now the Playaz must look to the Wild Card berth. The arrangement is that if they win next week, they have sole ownership of the last postseason spot. If they lose and the Wolverines win, then they will still go through on the strength of their win against the Wolverines earlier in the year. However, if they lose and the Swingers win, then they will be eliminated, for they have a 0-2 record against Saxmania this year. Fingers crossed, as the Hitmen prepare to unload next week.
MVP: Tim Hudson – 14-4 with a 2.40 ERA, and he’s not a Cy Young candidate? The Squeaks beg to differ.
Bashers saunter into September by slamming Senators
No such excitement for the Bashers, whose regal procession into postseason play was little impeded by the Senators’ efforts. Derek Lowe has started to prove himself an ace again, with two wins in the week coming despite allowing six runs on his watch, while Miguel Tejada again has got hot towards the dog days of summer, creaming four pitches into the bleachers and driving in nine. Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon’s effort risked being overlooked, as the ChiSox starter went seven innings and allowed just the one run, reaching double figures in strikeouts in the process. The bullpen was electric, piling up seven saves in seven chances with no earned runs allowed – just the sort of bonus that could make the difference in the postseason. The Naughties get to try and make something of it next week.
The Senators made a fair fist of it in attempting to deny the Bashers their clinching win, with Mark Prior throwing an eight innings gem with just three hits allowed, and Jeff Bagwell sending three out of the park. Richie Sexson chipped in with a couple of jacks, too, and the Senators looked a if they might pull off an upset. However, Odalis Perez got pounded, going for 10 runs in 4.2 innings, and Rick Helling got only three innings of work for the Marlins. Two saves from the bullpen wasn’t enough to keep the game close, and the Senators must now beat the Ice to avoid ending up at the foot of the DiMaggio Division. The scrap to stay out of the cellar starts today.
MVP: Miguel Tejada – His regular late season run may infuriate managers, but the Bashers are still grateful.
Mendoza heads into home stretch; one last obstacle in view
In taking out the NY Bombers, Fishing with Mendoza did their bit to ensure that next week’s clash against the Naked Truth should be a doozy. Still with a one-game lead atop the Ruth Division, Mendoza would see that advantage wiped out if the Truth were to defeat them, and falling at the last would not suit the Fishermen now, after rallying from an 0-5 start to the season. Putting them one win away this week were Frank Thomas, who went yard four times to drive in eleven runners, and Brian Lawrence, who went 7.2 innings for a win to prove the best of the rotation. Nomar Garciaparra was in the hits, getting 12, while Chipper Jones drove in nine runs on the week. A shaky bullpen and a patchy rotation took a little of the shine off, but Mendoza still has plenty of firepower left to give the Truth a hell of a game next week.
The NY Bombers would appear to be something of a mirror image to Mendoza, having won their first five games of the season, but now being trapped on the outside looking in at the playoffs. A winning record is now beyond their grasp, although safely entrenched midtable, and their next game against the Dawgs will be their last of the 2003 season. Four homers from Vladimir Guerrero, with ten ribbies, was by far the best performance of the week, and included more long bombs than the rest of the lineup put together. Russ Ortiz was the only pitcher to emerge victorious, and that came at the expense of 9 earned runs in his two starts. Kevin Appier’s trip to the Disabled List, and losses from the normally reliable Hideo Nomo and Joel Piniero sealed the Bombers’ fate. Last chance to impress is coming up, with the Bombers returning home for their sendoff against the Dawgs.
MVP: Frank Thomas – That’s two MVPs in a row for the Big Hurt, who’s proving a thorn in the AL Central’s side.
Naked Truth rally to ensure Ruth Division pennant goes to the wire
They’re not going away – the Nudists this week ensured that they won’t be kicked to the curb by Fishing with Mendoza, as they forced the Ruth Division leaders to meet them in a division-deciding game next week. Overcoming stiff resistance from the Cunning Linguists, the Truth enjoyed the power hitting of Jorge Posada, who went deep three times during the week, while Alex Rodriguez joined him twice. The rotation cobbled together wins despite little real dominance, with only Greg Maddux winning comfortably. However, Villone, Wolf, and Garland also managed victories despite being less than impressive, leaving the Truth ready to suit up for their showdown next week when Mendoza arrives.
The Linguists made a fair fist of it, keeping the Truth pinned down for most of the week, but couldn’t prevent a late charge to snatch a victory from the Nudists. Benjie Molina found some power, with a pair of homers, while Magglio Ordonez was his usual self with four extra-base hits. However, Ichiro Suzuki found himself in a 3-for-26 slump, and Colorado’s Ronnie Belliard also contributed little. Estaban Loiaza’s gem confirmed his status as one of the prime keeper picks of the 2003 season with seven shutout innings, and Kevin Brown went 1-1 with 12 whiffs in 15 innings, but Brad Percival blew a game, and Zach Day got bomber in his one start. A final marquee matchup awaits, however, as the 2002 Championship Series repeats itself next week – the Lordz are coming to town. Time, perhaps, to salvage some pride from a forgettable 2003 season.
MVP: Jorge Posada – All-Star catcher, Red Sox slayer, and booster of fading pennant challenges.
Michigan can’t catch up to pennant, Wild Card also cruelly denied them
A win for Junior’s Bashers this week meant that the Wolverines were not given a chance to overtake the divisional leaders, handing the 2003 DiMaggio Division pennant to the Bashers. Additionally, their win-loss history means that they cannot beat the Playaz for the Wild Card even if they draw level, and so their last game against the 4 Horsemen will be for pride only, having done all they could by winning this week. Jay Payton provided the power, lifting four over the fences and collecting 8 RBIs to overshadow Albert Pujols’ usual slugfest. Rotation duty was taken care of by Adam Eaton, Brian Anderson, and Wade Miller, each of whom won while allowing two earned runs or less in six innings or more. A pair of saves and three holds from the bullpen did the rest, so the Wolverines must take their last game with the Horsemen and then pack their bags, so cruelly robbed of a playoff berth.
A smattering of good performances from the Ice helped them towards respectability, with a complete game shutout from Brad Radke and 14 innings from Kevin Millwood yielding pleasing results (1-1, 2 ER), while Kerry Wood was unlucky not to leave the mound with a victory (7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 11 K). Derek Jeter drove in six runners with nine base hits, and Steve Finley’s aging legs carried him far enough around the bases for two triples. This couldn’t carry the rest of the roster, however, and with slumps from Fred McGriff and Bobby Kielty, plus Jeff Weaver’s ignominious arrival in the bullpen, the Ice were frozen out of the points again. A final push can lift them off the bottom of the DiMaggio Division, though, with the rival Senators the last hurdle of the season.
MVP: Jay Payton – the Colorado outfielder certainly enjoys Coors. Don’t we all?
Swingers find their rotation out of juice, Lous take advantage
One game away from a .500 finish, the Larrupin Lous this week climbed to a 10-11 record with a useful defeat of the Swingers. Pedro Martinez’s 1-1 record was unexpected, but not entirely unwelcome, and Kyle Lohse and Jeriome Roberston were both tidy in picking up wins. There wasn’t a great deal of run support for them to work with, either – Jimmy Rollins’ five doubles were useful, and Jose Reyes hit a pair of dingers, but few hitters managed much other than singles, and the Lous are wondering where the power has gone as far as Hideki Matsui, Preston Wilson, and Andruw Jones are concerned. The New York Squeaks are the last big obstacle to a .500 finish, as the Lous pack their bags one final time.
A sudden shortage of quality from the starting rotation of Saxmania’s Swingers saw them lose a golden opportunity to tie down the advantage in the Wild Card race, as wins for Mike Mussina and Livian Hernandez couldn’t disguise the damage done to Roy Halladay and Mark Buehlre, both of whom were hit around the park to finish with losses. Shigetoshi Hasegawa came up with a fine time to blow a game, too, taking the loss after one of the few earned runs he’s allowed all season. Aubrey Huff’s three homers and nine ribbies continued his impressive season, while Lance Berkman got 10 free passes, but Moises Alou and Bobby Abreu’s slumps were catastrophically badly timed. Still an outside shot at the Swingers’ first postseason berth through the Wild Card, with the Evil Empire’s capital ship coming to town.
MVP: Kip Wells – Six scoreless innings of two-hit ball? Beats Pedro’s Saturday shocker.
Horsemen rampant in trampling Naughties, ending on a high
A 4-1 record over the last five weeks hasn’t been enough to allow the 4 Horsemen to gain on the division leaders, and they will be back in the stables at the end of next week to watch the playoffs on television. However, they’ve put up an excellent fight to finish over the .500 mark, and – short of a loss next week – will end up with a winning record in their inaugural season. Dual starts from Randy Johnson, Kelvim Escobar, and Gil Meche ended up with each starter going 1-1, although Javier Vazquez’ solo effort was the best of the lot, as the Montreal ace went eight shutout frames with 10 Ks and just seven baserunners allowed. Four saves and two wins lit up the bullpen as well, with Danny Kolb doing exactly half the work, and Rafael Soriano proving a valuable pickup. Jody Gerut led the hitters in both homers and ribbies, with three and ten respectively, and the rest of the hitters were solid. A chance to claim a big scalp in the final week, with the dejected Wolverines the final hurdle..
The Naughties, too, had an impressive-looking set of starters, with Andy Pettitte throwing 13.2 gutsy innings for a brace of wins, striking out 13 batters to slightly shade Brett Tomko’s two victories in the same span. Jamie Moyer and Al Leiter were also impressive, with the four winning starters overshadowing Clemens’ disaster outing comfortably. But Newburgh seriously lacked take-charge hitter like Gerut, with no hitter going yard more than once or driving in more than four runs, not to mention the fact that Raul Mondesi’s five extra-base hits and seven walks rode the pine all week. A final scalp to claim next week, though, with the Bashers striding into Newburgh as if they own the place.
MVP: Javier Vazquez – Gerut was great, but shutting down the Phillies’ lineup deserves special consideration.
Lordz’ late run at .500 not slowed down by chasing Dawgs
A late run at .500 is also underway for the Lordz, who have no chance of defending their 2002 title this year, but can at least maintain respectability by avoiding a losing record. They gave themselves the chance this week with a victory over the Dawgs from Easton, who were sent packing with two dominant wins from Johan Santana, who allowed one run in 12 innings while striking out 14 to be easily this week’s ace. A victory from Jarron Washburn and three saves from Justin Speier in the Colorado bullpen helped, while Dmitri Young and Paul Konerko both launched three over the fences to dominate the middle of the order. Final game of the season is a classic, as the Lordz attempt to reprise their 200 Championship Series defeat of the Cunning Linguists in a final hurrah.
Now doomed to occupy the last spot in the Ruth Division, the Dawgs from Easton could have done with Doug Davis arriving a week earlier, as the Milwaukee starter’s complete game win will not now count towards Easton’s total. Instead, they were forced to put up with two poor outings for Cincinnati’s Aaron Harang, with Cliff Lee and Jae Weong Seo the only winning pitchers. Offense was similarly lacking, Derrek Lee and Scott Rolen the two best hitters, but little consistency was found up and down the lineup. The Dawgs can now console themselves with a season-ending win at the NY Bombers, but will need to improve on this week’s performance.
MVP: Johan Santana – The young lefty may not go many innings, but 9-3 with an ERA under 3 is pretty sharp.
Hitmen struggle to end season with a bang, Empire searching for power base
Despite their impressive points average, it appears to be all or nothing for the Hitmen, who have put together some large points scores but cannot appear to start a lengthy win streak. Now is too late, but they at least added a second successive victory this week, overcoming the Empire by a wide margin. Phil Nevin proved an important arrival, returning from the Disabled List just in time to go yard twice and drive in nine. He will be joined in the infield by David Ortiz during the final week, whose five homers were left to ride the pine against the Empire. But Geoff Jenkins’ four dingers were almost as valuable, even though he now carries an injury, and a pair of wins for Carl Pavano and Matt Clement, plus a solo victory for Jason Schmidt, meant that the Hitmen didn’t have to take out the heavy artillery anyway. The 9 Angry Playaz welcome the Hitmen in for the final week, desperate for the win that would give them a Wild Card berth.
It’s going from bad to worse for the Empire, whose losing streak now reaches a season-high ten games, and who must beat the Swingers in the last game of 2003 to avoid carrying the series of losses over to next year. Gary Sheffield led the way with a pair of homers and 10 RBIs, but couldn’t motivate an infield which totalled no homers and only six ribbies, while Nick Johnson’s five extra-base hits were the only other hitting highlight. Two wins for Matt Kinney sound good, but were not accomplished without stress, and a pair of defeats for Damian Moss were more indicative of the Empire’s fortunes. One last chance to return to the Empire with a win, then, with the Swingers also grasping for a win to close out the season.
MVP: Matt Clement – Plenty of options, but I’m going for Matt, who went the distance in one game.
Team of the Week: The 4 Horsemen (357.50 points)
Unlucky Team of the Week: 9 Angry Playaz (264.84 points)
Lucky Team of the Week: Fishing with Mendoza (235.66 points)
Matchup of the Week: Saxmania’s Swingers v. Larrupin Lous (26.16 points)
Longest Active Winning Streak: Fishing with Mendoza (7 games)
Longest Active Losing Streak: Evil Empire (10 games)
Sunday, August 31st
Away at Home Av. Last 3 games (away at home)
Lordz of Flatbush (10-11) at Cunning Linguists (8-13) 248.61 at 243.22
Dawgs from Easton (6-15) at NY Bombers (9-12) 192.44 at 223.00
Fishing with Mendoza (13-8) at The Naked Truth (12-9) 249.50 at 286.44
Michigan Wolverines (13-8) at The 4 Horsemen (11-10) 251.72 at 323.33
Italian Ice (8-13) at Senators (8-13) 176.33 at 275.89
Junior’s Bashers (15-6) at Newburgh Naughties (10-11) 262.72 at 246.05
Mattingly’s Hitmen (8-13) at 9 Angry Playaz (14-7) 254.89 at 250.11
Evil Empire (4-17) at Saxmania’s Swingers (13-8) 219.61 at 275.72
The Larrupin’ Lous (10-11) at New York Squeaks (15-6) 222.89 at 305.17
Remember, week off next week, so everyone’s got a breather before the playoffs begin. Last chance for glory – I expect to hear plenty of smack-talking, people!
Be seeing you,