by Dr. Rug
Hello fans of our great game, and welcome back to another season in the dustbowl that is Tommy Forrest Ballpark. Opening night is only a sleep or two away and I’m sure you’re all on pins and needles, anxious to see what the 2014 season will bring.
Unfortunately, things have been a little busy as of late for your good friend Dr. Rug so a full-on, in depth analysis of the coming season isn’t happening this year. BUT – opening night just wouldn’t be the same without a little bit of discussion and debate, so I guess it’s my duty to get it started. To kick this season off right, let’s take a look at each of the teams, offer some insight on what to expect out of them this season, and shed some truth on common misconceptions surrounding the teams and players.
We’ll start where I always start: at the bottom.
Nexum/Carl’s Red Sox
Myth: These guys are just a bunch of has-beens and unproven rookies that don’t stand a chance.
Reality: While it may be true that 99% of the Red Sox players are either past their prime or years away from reaching it, it is far from the truth to claim that they’re has-beens and rookies with no chance.
First of all, to be a “has-been” you actually have to “have been” at some point in your career. That cannot be said for some of the old-timers on this squad. Secondly, and more importantly, the youngsters on this squad have a real shot at making some serious noise this season. Take a look at this potential top of the order for the Sox:
In the words of the immortal Lou Brown: “there’s two or three potential all-stars in there!!”
My prediction for the Sox in 2014: An opening night upset. A franchise best regular season record. And a small measure of respect from the rest of the league.
Myth: The “Scrubs” have no respect for the game.
Reality: These guys are some of the most dedicated fastball players (and fans) in the league. Take a look at a guy like Ricky Morrison, his year basically breaks down into 3 seasons:
- Packers season: Runs from the beginning of September to the first or second week in January.
- Canadiens season: Runs from the end of Packers season to late April. Much like winter in Yellowknife, this season lasted much longer than usual this year.
- Fastball season: Runs from the end of Canadiens season through to late August.
The rest of the Surveyors are pretty much the same. From mid-May to late August every year their passion is fastball and they give everything they have to the sport every summer. Good work guys!!
My prediction for Sub-Arctic in 2014: Mardie will disappear for months at a time but randomly show up for a tournament and pitch like he’d been working on his repertoire all summer. Josh Brown will get under the skin of all the players on the O’s. Mike Allerston will have one of the best parties of the summer for his wedding.
Home Building Centre Diamondbacks (aka Cardinals)
Myth: Don’t dig in when Bruce is pitching or you’re liable to end up with some broken ribs.
Reality: As surprising as it may seem to the casual observer, and despite his “Wild Thing” beginnings as a chucker, Bruce has actually developed into a very productive and accurate pitcher. He’s not on the level of Paul Gard just yet but Bruce has refined his game and his BB rate is in line with some of the best pitchers in the game. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these numbers from last year:
Pitcher/Walks per 7 innings
- Bruce Waugh: 5.4
- Mitch Madsen: 5.2
- Glen Tinger: 5.2
- Andy Williams: 4.8
- Garrett Hinchey: 10.8 (sorry Garrett, I had to.) (Editor’s note: I’m actually surprised it was this low.)
Impressive, Bruce. In fact, it’s so impressive you might even get the opening night start this year.
My prediction for HBC in 2014: Another Rookie of the Year winner. Another couple 2nd place tournament finishes. A resurrection of the Bruce’s power at the plate.
Myth: Birds, mice, and small rodents have been known to nest in Matt Kennedy’s beard.
Reality: Matty Boones keeps his beard in immaculate condition. He spends hours each day cleaning it, grooming it, and styling it. In fact, the O’s are planning to set aside a portion of the proceeds from the O-Down to hire a team beard consultant whose sole job will be to work with Matty and Plotner to get the most out of their beards. Do not mock the beard, folks. Enjoy every minute that you get to spend witnessing this miracle of nature because before you know it, it could be gone. And that will be a dark, dark day for mankind.
My prediction for the O’s in 2014: Their first tournament victory in the O-Down. A party of epic proportions following said victory. Some unbelievable pics that you will never be able to erase from your memory posted to Twitter at about 5 in the morning at said party.
Myth: Slades has the most talent in the league by far.
Reality: Slades is more reminiscent of a team like the San Antonio Spurs (in both continued excellence and overall hatred level) than they are of an All-Star team. A quick look at last year’s stat leaders shows that only Ryan Strain’s name appears in the top 5 of any of the big three traditional hitting categories (Average, RBIs, HRs) and even he is falling back in the pack (In 2012 he won the triple crown, in 2013 he finished 5th, 2nd, and T-10th). Any team in the league can match up with the Expos in terms of all-star players; the real reason behind their continued success isn’t the top level talent but rather the consistency throughout the lineup. Their 7-9 guys are the best bottom of the order hitters in league and it’s this balanced attack that helps them win year in and year out.
My prediction for Slades in 2014: Only 1 tournament title. Rhino falling out of the top 10 in the player value rankings. Greg Skauge officially taking over as the ace of their staff (in other words, Greg and Mitch pitch about the same as they did last year).
That’s all I’ve got for now.
I hope to see everyone out at the field for opening night this Friday. Sure, the forecast is only calling for highs of 10 on Friday, but that’s why man invented coffee & Bailey’s and Fireball. It’s go time!!