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Bleacher Bums League

1999 League Annual

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Forward

 

1998 Recap

 

Team Previews:

RUSTBELT CONFERENCE

KEYSTONE DIVISION

Mt. Springs Mystics††††††††††† ††††††††††† New York Yankees

Pennsylvania Pikers†† ††††††††††† Red Arrow Trolleys

B AND O DIVISION

Baltimore Orioles ††††††††††† Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Rockers†††††††††† ††††††††††† Cuyahoga River Rats

SUNBELT CONFERENCE

GULF COAST DIVISION

Baton Rouge Bombers††††††††††† Bergman Colonels

Florida Marlins ††††††††††† St. Pete Roses

PACIFIC DIVISION

Fresno Outlaws†††††††††† ††††††††††† San Francisco Waboritas

Seattle Mariners West L.A. Fadeaway

 

PROJECTED PLAYOFF TEAMS

 

 

Forward

I have been playing APBA since I was 5 years old (1975), when I used to sit on my dadís lap and roll the dice for him, as he played games.The BBL (formerly the MVBA) was the first league that I joined, two years ago.I have done many different Reds replays, all-time greats playoffs and past seasons, but I have found a lot of pleasure in the drafting and playing in the BBL.It has only enhanced my APBA experience.

 

I have put together a short í99 preview for the BBL.Hopefully I donít offend anyone by picking a particular team to finish last in their division.Trust me, after two consecutive losing seasons by my Cincinnati Reds (now the St. Pete Roses), I am hardly the one to consider an expert.So, read and enjoy, Bleacher Bums!

 

-Larry Korb, BBL Assistant Commissioner

 

1998 RECAP

The Marlinsí Mark McGwire was the human interest story in í98, as he hit an unbelievable 73 home runs.John Weber was the man, as he led his San Diego Padres to the best record in the BBL.He then proved his dominance, as he walked through the playoffs, in the midst of scandal among several playoff contenders.

 

It was a rebuilding year for the whole league, as the BBL went at it with an odd number of teams (15).In the off season, the BBL welcomed the expansion Mt. Springs Mystics, to be led by Jamie Ulrich, and dropped the mandatory MLB names for the teams.††

 

TEAM PREVIEWS

 

RUSTBELT CONFERENCE

KEYSTONE DIVISION

New York Yankees

Projected Finish:1

With the best rotation in the conference (Maddux, Glavine (L), Rogers (L), Sele and Gooden), the Gabe Austinís Yankees should contend yet again in the BBL.They are deep at first with Travis Lee, Tino Martinez, Carlos Delgado and Fred McGriff, but soft in the outfield.

 

Pennsylvania Pikers

Projected Finish:3

Pennsylvania is most likely in a rebuilding season, as they donít seem to have a decent rotation.A thin bullpen will likely add to the headaches in P-A, but they could surprise if guys like Kendall, Larry Jones, Thome and Shawn Green manage to pound out more runs than the whiplashed pitching staff lets across.Kevin Rupp has his work cut out for him.

 

Red Arrow Trolleys

Projected Finish:2

Red Arrow seems to be the Yankees main competition in the division, as they sport a solid rotation (Andy Ashby, Wood, Hermanson, Reed and Moehler) and deep bullpen, headed by 2-time BBL save leader, Trevor Hoffman.Although they were the team to beat last year, as the Padres, John Weber will have to come flying out of the gate inorder to re-claim the BBL title.An off-year is expected from the likes of Caminiti and Gwynn, but Greg Vaughn, Tim Salmon and Wally Joyner should be able to shoulder the load.†† John says, ďIf we keep things close with our pitching, spot Shane Spencer's bat in there at the right moments, the Trolleys will be in the thick of things this year.If we can just sneak into a playoff slot, Red Arrow pitching would be tough.Ē

 

 

Mt. Springs Mystics

Projected Finish:4

Although they hopefully are not as bad as their NFL counterparts, the Cleveland Browns, Jamie Ulrichís team will be a true expansion team this year.It may be a long year in Mt. Springs, but they have a bright future, with youngsters like Reese, A. Boone, Cedeno, Sirotka and co.

 

B AND O DIVISION

Buffalo Greyhounds

Projected Finish:1

In the most wide-open division in the BBL, I think Dan Boniakís newly-relocated Buffalo will edge Cuyahoga.They have all of the tools, they just seem to lack the stud in the middle of their lineup.Maybe Karros can fill in this position, but in an off season for Alomar, the pitching staff (lots of ďWĒs in the bullpen) will have to carry the team.

 

Cleveland Indians

Projected Finish:4

If Rocco DelSesto had a team of Alex Rodriguezes, there would be no question on this one, but with the thin pitching, the Indians seem to have decided that they are going to the youth movement.(Lucky for him he didnít draft Tim Couch in the youth movement.)Itís gonna be a long season in Cleveland for the Indians.

 

Rocco was kind enough to give us an outlook for the Indians, which I edited down to only 4 paragraphs!:

 

Halfway through the second BBL season, Tribe management, facing lackluster crowds at Jacob's Field who were turned off with the equally lackluster ball club, decided major changes were needed in the team.In two quick days, management made a commitment to youth and hopefully the future. They dealt Darryl Kile and Alex Fernandez, counted on the lead the Tribe staff, but who where only a combined 13-15, along with often injured Sandy Alomar and a relief pitcher to Colorado who were shooting for the playoffs. In return, the Tribe picked up promising young catcher Carlos Hernandez, young pitchers Chris Carpenter and Juan Acevedo and SS-Gary Disarcina. The very next day, they picked up 3 or Seattles top 4 draft picks for talented Mark Loretta and aging reliever Billy Taylor. Some major shakeup for a pitching staff the finished in the bottom 1/3 of the league in ERA with a 4.60 mark. Only starters Denny Neagle (16-9, 3.08) and Mike Hampton(11-11, 3.94) and reliever Todd Jones(7-5, 27 Svs, 3.17) showed any signs of what was expected of them.

 

As mentioned, the Tribe offense in year two was BIG disappointment, hitting only a combined .259. Jim Thome (40 HR's) and Sammy Sosa (35 HR's) provided some long ball fireworks, but they only hit .261 and .247 respectively. Thome was the only real consistent run producer, driving in 120RBI's. Young outfielder, Jason Giambi hit .281 and Kenny Lofton hit .286, but he lost his legs as he swiped only 13 bases in 28 attempts. Biggest bust, had to be "Joey" Belle as the Tribe fans were chanting toward the end of the season. Belle drove in 107 RBI's, second to Thome on the club, but 26 HR's and only a paltry, .224 BA had Joey tossing baseballs everywhere inside and outside the playing field!!

 

All of this lead to fans leaving the ballpark in droves. Management knew desperate measures were needed to rekindle interest down at the Jake. And what

better way is there to excite a crowd, then with baseballs flying out of the ballpark! Management has decided to sacrifice this coming season and possibly the next also to bring in a bevy of heavy lumber to thump the ball out of the Jake at hopefully a record rate. The Indians pulled off three big trades in the off season to bring in some of this heavy lumber along with some young talent that will hopefully pay the Tribe dividends 2 to 3 years down the road. First move was swapping first basemen with the PA Pikers, sending them Thome for Andres Galarraga, a move that had the league buzzing! This may turn out in the long run to be mistake for Cleveland, but it was made looking at this season. Galarraga will have the Tribe fans dancing!! Two days later, an even bigger surprise. The Tribe traded top notch starters Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle along with DiSarcina and young reliever Kerry Lightenberg to land premier shortstop Alex Rodriguez from Seattle along with starter Tim Belcher who admittedly is there to fill a rotation spot for now and reliever Paul Spoljaric.

 

The Tribe was not done though, they then traded dead arm starter Kevin Tapani and young very promising starter Kevin Millwood along with oft injured players Lofton, Cliff Floyd and Eric Young for hopeful super star in the making Magglio Ordonez and pitcher Mike Remlinger along with 2 top draft picks from St. Pete.Then with the draft picks picked up from Seattle and St. Pete, the Tribe picked up some great young talent in the draft in Kevin Millar, Sidney Ponson, Jermaine Dye, Geoff Jenkins, Eric Owens, Brian Meadows and Shawn Lowe:some guys that the Tribe can build on in the next two to three years.

 

This coming season should see LOTS of fireworks at the Jake. If the bats can pound out enough of runs to keep ahead of what a weak pitching staff is going to give up, they might possibly pull out a 2nd place finish, but even 3rd or last would not surprise Tribe management. A couple years away is what the Indians are shooting for if some of the young talent develops as hope for.

-Rocco Del Sesto

 

 

Cleveland Rockers

Projected Finish:2

The Rockers are going to be the big brother in Cleveland, and will fill the stands, as the envious Indians look on.Steve Wolfenberger seems to have a pitching staff that is mediocre, at best, but they have the sticks to do some serious damage, and they may even take the division title.

 

Cuyahoga River Rats

Projected Finish: 3

Cuyahoga will also be competing for the fan base in the great football town of Cleveland.The River Rats have the best bullpen in the conference and Jeff Evanoff just might make some noise if Bonds, Burnitz, Jeff King and Bichette can put it all together at the same time.

 

SUNBELT CONFERENCE

GULF COAST DIVISION

Bergman Colonels

Projected Finish:1

Bergman should not only compete this year, but for years to come.They could become the perennial favorites in the Gulf Coast Division, but thatís why they play the games.Kevin Burke has a true #1 in Clemens and, hands down, the best bullpen in the BBL.Mo Vaughn, Nomar and Fryman will likely have to carry the team on their backs, but they are more than capable of handling the load.

 

Baton Rouge Bombers

Projected Finish:3

Baton Rouge has the kind of bullpen that could make up for their sub-par starting pitching, but Bill Jenkins just does not have the guns to compete.Juan Gonzalez, Greer, Ivan Rodriguez and Frank Thomas wonít be able to put up more runs than the arms will give up.

Florida Marlins

Projected Finish:2

After sporting the MVP the last 2 seasons, the Marlins still havenít been able to put it together.Glen Schlee has the best rotation in the division and a great bullpen, but McGwire still canít handle the entire load.Until Florida gets some serious players in the lineup ahead of McGwire, they will not be able to go for the BBL glory.

 

St. Pete Roses

Projected Finish:4

Poor team.Poor pitching.No power.St. Pete is not rebuildingóthey are just bad.Larry Korb has the same chance of competing this year, as their namesake has of entering the Hall of Fame.

 

 

PACIFIC DIVISION

Seattle Mariners

Projected Finish:2T

In the best division in the BBL, Seattle should squeak in right behind the favorite, San Francisco.Gordon Watson has a good set of arms, a good bullpen, but seem to lack a little on offense, a necessity to compete in the BBL.Seattle just got a tough draw, ending up in a division, where they might do anything from win, to end up in third.

 

San Francisco Waboritas

Projected Finish:1

The pressure is on Myron DeVoto this year.He canít sit around and enjoy many Waboritas, as he will need all of his guns to fend off Seattle and West L.A. just to take the division.He has a good rotation, good bullpen, and the guns in Bagwell, Cirillo, Vlad Guerrero and Alou.Anything less for Myron will not be satisfactory.Letís see if thereís a sophmore jinx in the BBL!

 

Fresno Outlaws

Projected Finish:4

Fresno just is out of luck in this division.They look like theyíre rebuilding, and their division rivals will likely remind them of that every time they go head-to-head.Mike Eliyas could compete in any other division.

 

West L.A. Fadeaway

Projected Finish:2T

I canít let Jake Smith get a big head.After predicting himself to be the new champion, Iíll challenge him to win his own division.West L.A. has a balanced attack, spread between his power, Helton, Grace, Rolen, and his speed, Larkin, Andruw Jones, Eric Davis.The arms will carry him, but I predict the Waboritas will follow through in my predictions.

 

RUSTBELT CONFERENCE CHAMPION

The Yankees will ride on the back of their pitching in the playoffs against Buffalo.The Yankees still might need to make a move to get another veteran in their outfield, in order to get to the playoffs, but the series will favor the Yankees and their deep pitching.

PICK:Yankees, 4 games to 2.

 

SUNBELT CONFERENCE CHAMPION

San Francisco is just barely better than Bergman.This will go all seven.Triple-U will close out Game 7, after 8 solid innings by Martinez.

PICK:Waboritas, 4 games to 3.

 

PROJECTED 1999 BBL CHAMPION

Grizzled veterans, Maddux and Glavine, will lead the big-city Yankees to the first BBL championship by the Yankees.

PICK:Yankees, 4 games to 2.