Week 2: Tournament Time

13 06 2012

By Dr. Rug

The 2012 YK Fastball Season is underway and with the first tournament of the season quickly approaching, Dr. Rug returns with tournament odds, predictions and… an apology?

 

Pirates Prove Me Wrong

After 20 years of covering the sports scene the world over I’ve witnessed many unbelievable sights…

I’ve seen the Pacers blow out the Celtics in a game 7 at the Boston Gardens by 27 points.

I’ve seen last second prayers from half court fall through the hoop during March Madness.

I’ve seen the Canucks win a Stanley Cup finals game.

I’ve seen the double-digit underdog Seahawks upset the defending champion Saints in the playoffs.

And yes, I’ve even seen yours truly, Dr. Rug, be wrong on occasion.

 

All of these events range somewhere from “rare”[1] to “unbelievable, will never happen again in our lifetimes”[2] but they all have happened and there’s a chance they could happen again.  That being said, the most recent of these sights occurred last week in Dr. Rug’s Season Preview article.  In that article I may have taken one or two very slight shots at the FED Tile/Fire Prevention Pirates and I may also have written a couple of things that could be interpreted as insinuating that the title they won last year was somewhat of a fluke[3].  Being the responsible, accountable writer that I am, I’m here today to apologize to the Pirates team, accept full responsibility for these horrendous statements, and hopefully begin to make amends.

Pirates, I’m sorry, I was wrong.  As your 3-0 start demonstrates, you are in fact a juggernaut that continues to tear through the league with your unstoppable offense, Cy Young level pitching, and post-game hard hat ceremony.  Let’s take this time to clear up a few of my original misconceptions.

1.       Your offense was too young and inexperienced to be good.

  • In fact, your offense is just coming into its prime.  With Andy Williams and Kirk Sangris rocking bombs every second pitch and even players like Keegan Shea legging out infield singles, every player from 1-9 in your order is a threat to score any inning.

2.       Your pitching staff was the equivalent of 5 Charlie Mortons.

  • Apparently your pitching staff is more similar to the ’98 Braves than it is to the Charlie Mortons[4].  A 3-0 record, including shutting down the Diamondbacks’ and Sub-Arctic’s offenses = Impressive.

3.       Your 2011 title was entirely luck.

  • If there’s anything that the L.A. Kings have taught us with their recent run to Stanley Cup victory, it’s that sometimes the best teams don’t have the best regular season records.  Last year’s Pirates were very similar to this year’s Kings; they were coming together as a team and playing their best ball as the season came to a close and it showed in the playoffs with a title. 

So to all the Pirates, my hat is off to you.  You deserve full credit for your 2011 league championship and I look forward to many tight battles with you guys all season long.  Congratulations to management on building such a high quality team that is sure to be a contender for years to come.

 

Tournament Preview

Now that we’ve cleared up that little misstep from the last column let’s take some time to look at what’s on tap in the league next.  After FED Tile/Fire Prevention management took a 4-year hiatus from tournament planning to focus on building a contender, last year’s title has had an unexpected beneficial consequence for the rest of the league… the return of the Pirates Invitational Tournament!!!

In the past, this tournament has consisted of good times, plenty of beer consumed (especially by Sub-Arctic… surprisingly), an occasional decent fastball game, and plenty more beer consumed.  It always makes for a rough Monday morning at work but it is well worth the pain.  Let’s take a quick look back at how the teams have fared in the first week+ of the season as well as assess their chances of taking home the cash from the Pirates Tourney.

 

Nexum/Carl’s Red Sox – Odds of winning Pirates tourney 35 – 1

The Red Sox have stumbled out of the gates, dropping their first two games of the season including a loss to the expansion Slo-Pokes team.  With Mike Dove and a potpourri of pick-ups holding down the mound, the Red Sox will be hard pressed to make any serious noise this Sunday.  They should improve as the season progresses and they find their stride, but for now it’s still a work in progress.

 

Slo-Pokes – Odds of winning Pirates tourney 25 – 1

The Pokes have been the surprise team early on in the 2012 season.  Not only have they already notched their first win of the season over the Red Sox last week but they also came within one out of handing Sub-Arctic two straight losses to start the season.  The Pokes have managed to put the ball in play a lot more than was expected and if they weren’t so reliant on Paul’s arm to carry them through the entire weekend, they might be getting better odds here.  As it is, I just don’t think Paul has the stamina he once did to carry the team for the entire weekend (and I haven’t seen Aumond throw in a game in too long).

 

Sub-Arctic Surveyors – Odds of winning Pirates tourney 18-1

The Surveyors played some classic Sub-Arctic ball last week magically turning a lead that they’d held for 6 innings into a 7th inning deficit and then almost handing the game to Slo-Pokes with a baserunning move straight out of the Sub-Arctic Fastball 101.[5] Surprisingly, they were able to shake off these typical miscues and pull out the win in the bottom of the inning.  Could this signify a turning point for the Surveyors where their errors don’t end up costing them wins?  Given the frequency of said errors, I highly doubt it.  As far as the Pirates tourney goes, expect these guys to be going hard and giving it their all until the last out of the final… in the beer gardens.

 

Slades Expos – Odds of winning the Pirates tourney 10 – 1

Speaking of devastating baserunning plays[6], I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about how the Slades’ “This is what we’ve been waiting for all winter” quest for vengeance didn’t quite turn out as they’d planned.  They were able to bounce back nicely with their revamped line-up in game 2 of the season but the Pirate demons still haunt this former dynasty and questions surrounding Mitch’s off-season training program still linger.  17 runs, 22 profanities, 6 thrown gloves, and 1 dented bat[7].  Something’s got to improve for my preseason MVP pick if the Expos hope to have any shot at glory this weekend.

 

Home Building Center Diamondbacks – Odds of winning the Pirates tourney 6 – 1

Some teams kill themselves on the basepaths, some teams kill themselves in other ways.  The Diamondbacks were also on the losing end of a heartbreaker to the Pirates in week one of the season when their bats came up dry in clutch situations and then a 2-out, dropped fly ball led to a 6 run, late inning, Pirate rally and a come from behind win for the defending champions.  The Diamondbacks have shown that they can take care of lesser opponents though as they held off the Surveyors in the opener and then shut down the Slo-Pokes earlier this week.  They also proved that the Pirates bats are capable of being silenced… at least for a few innings.  However, they’ll have to improve their sloppy play as stranding 10 baserunners over 7 innings[8] and making errors late will not lead to a tourney title any time soon.

 

FED Tile/Fire Prevention Pirates – Odds of winning the Pirates tourney 3 – 1

As the majority of this column up to this point has already covered, the defending champion Pirates have stormed out of the gates and proved their doubters wrong.  They’ve taken down their top three competitors and remain alone atop the standings with a perfect 3-0 record.  Everything is all rainbows and unicorns in Pirate land these days; they are on top of the world.  So why then don’t I have them as the favourites to win their own tournament?  Because everyone knows the Pirates play better with a little motivation, so hopefully my 3 – 1 odds instead of 1 – 1 odds provides Darcy with the bulletin board material he needs to take down the out of town squad.

 

Inuvik/Hay River Tag Team – Odds of winning the Pirates tourney 3 – 2

Individually, these two teams have won two of the last three Territorial titles[9] and done exceptionally well against the Yellowknife competition whenever they’ve been in town.  Combined they will be a challenge for even the best that this town has to offer.  There are a few question marks surrounding this team as they attempt to steal the Pirate title from Yellowknife.

  • Who are the two teams sending to the tournament?  Will they field their best possible line-up?
  • Will the two teams get along?  There has been some bad blood between these two rivals in the past, are they willing to put it behind them to team up on Yellowknife?
  • How drunk will they get on Friday and Saturday nights at the beer gardens and the Gold Range?  These boys are in the big city, time to let loose!!!  How is this going to affect their games?

The answers to these questions will determine whether the champion’s cheque stays in town or heads home on a plane with these boys.

 

There you have the odds, and now before you go, my expert prediction on how the tournament will actually play out…

Slades will get their bats going early on Saturday morning against the Slo-Pokes and then continue the hot hitting to finally get some form of revenge on the Pirates during their high noon showdown to take 1st place in pool A[10].  The Pirates will rebound against the Slo-Pokes to finish in 2nd place.

In the B pool, the Hay River/Inuvik team will walk through their competition with little troubles on their way to a 1st place finish.  After surviving a war with the sober (for the only time during the tournament) Sub-Arctic Surveyors in the first game of the tournament, HBC will comfortably cruise into 2nd.  In true Sub-Arctic fashion, they will beat Nexum on Saturday night to claim 3rd place so that they have the opportunity to lose the first game Sunday morning and be the first team in the beer gardens on the championship day.

The playoffs will play out according to the standings with HBC and the Pirates winning the quarters before losing their respective semi-finals to Slades and Hay River/Inuvik[11].  From there, pitching depth will be the key as Slades won’t have the arms to keep pace with the out of town chuckers. 

Final Prediction: Hay River/Inuvik to win the title, Slades in second place, Sub-Arctic as the first team in the beer gardens on Sunday.

 

There you have it folks, my crystal ball forecast for this weekend.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it and, as always, if you have any questions, comments, or criticisms, I can be reached by email at dr_rug@hotmail.com.

I’ll see you next time with an anonymous insider’s look at the turmoil and in-squad fighting that’s destroying the 2012 Slades team[12].


[1] Seahawks victory.

[2] Canucks Cup victory.

[3] Like for example when I said, “…it just means they got lucky at the right time.”

[4] In which case I’d make the following comparisons: Darcy = Greg Maddux, Garrett = Tom Glavine, Tingmiak = Kevin Millwood, Andy = John Smoltz, Chad = Denny Neagle, Sheppard = John Rocker)

[5] In case you missed it.  They were down 2 in the bottom of 7, 1 out, with runners on first and second.  The runner on second decided this would be a smart time to try and steal third.  I don’t need to tell you that there were 2 outs with only one runner on after this attempt.

[6] In case you missed this game, Slades was down 4 in the bottom of 7 with no outs when they tried to score a runner from first on a double.  Whether or not he actually was safe at the plate is irrelevant, there’s no need to send him.  He was called out and their bottom of the 7th comeback came up just short in the 17-15 loss.

[7] Dented from hitting a fence, not from hitting a ball.

[8] Including an unbelievable 5 runners left standing at third in 7 innings of play.

[9] Hay River in 2009, Inuvik in 2010.

[10] Yes Darcy, feel free to post this up as well as more motivational bulletin board material to inspire your squad.

[11] This too.

[12] Rhino, call me to set up a time to do that interview you promised with the dirt on Mitch’s eating disorder, Borko’s lady problems, and Roady’s discontent over playing left field.  Thanks.

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