by Dr. Rug
Last time out, I took a look at some of the great myths that are believed far and wide in the YK Fastball league, so this time I’ll flip the scales and look at some cold, hard facts. The season is 10 games in – 4 games per team. Every team has played everyone else, so forget the whole “small sample size” argument. We have more than enough evidence to make some definitive statements about the teams in this 2014 season.
On the eve of the O-Down, let’s take a look at everyone’s chances and present one undeniable truth about each team.
Nexum/Carl’s Red Sox (1 Win, 3 Losses)
The Red Sox got themselves into the Win column last Friday with an old-fashioned ass-whooping of Slades. Two weeks into the season, we can say this about the Sox:
“Dennis Marchiori has undoubtedly done more with less than anybody else in the history of the league.”
How this guy has managed to have a decades-long career given the skills he possesses is beyond comprehension. He continues to toil along at the bottom of the order, slapping the occasional single and making the routine catches look adventurous, all the while cracking jokes and teasing opponents. His name has appeared on the line-up card in the 9 hole and in right field more times than anybody this side of Roady. Yet he remains undeterred and optimistic regardless of the number of slumps he encounters and he always believes that the next AB will result in a hit.
His skills aren’t just limited to the playing field either. He fires out coaching advice like he is Tony LaRussa, moving the young Red Sox fielders all around the field based on imaginary scouting reports and hunches. He even takes to the field in the umpire blue and makes calls that leave you scratching your head and wondering if he was distracted by the seagull flying over the action. It’s all in a night’s work for Marchiori, and he shows no sign of ever slowing down.
Keep on doing what you do Dennis!!
The Red Sox’ chances this weekend hinge on two things.
#1. Matt Mossman chucking like an ace.
#2. Devin “Backpack” Case not repeating his Hay River Dance performance at Saturday night’s Edge YK Solstice Slam party.
As the Sox demonstrated last Friday night with their decisive win over Slades, when they are on their game they are capable of playing with – and beating – the big boys in this league. They still have to be considered the biggest underdog this weekend, but if the best of their squad can play up to their potential, there is a very real chance that these guys spoil some team’s dreams this weekend.
And who knows? Maybe they’ll even have a shot at the title. I’ve seen crazier things happen in this league.
Slades Expos (2 W, 2 L)
The boys from Slades got their first real (aka non-Matty Boones related) win of the season on Monday night with a 7-2 victory over HBC, but nobody really cares about that. The real news out of the Slades franchise this past week was Ryan Strain’s performance on Friday night versus the Sox. After watching that performance here’s what we can, without a doubt, say about Slades:
“The triple crown threat, MVP contending Ryan Strain is a beast of the past. He’s now nothing more than a league average player and should seriously consider retirement (or at least a move to the old-timer half of the Red Sox).”
In the past two seasons, Rhino has had a combined 102 regular season at-bats. His total number of strikeouts in that time? One.
On Friday night, Rhino had three plate appearances. His total number of strikeouts? Three.
It’s very seldom in the sports world in this day and age that you can pinpoint the exact moment that an athlete goes from productive to washed up. Fortunately for us, we get to see that very scenario unfold every time the Expos take the field this season. Ryan’s bat speed has slowed considerably, his pitch recognition is a fragment of what it once was, and his pitch selection is basically non-existent. Watching him on Friday night, locked up in the batter’s box and unable to even offer a feeble swing in response to Mossman’s pitching repertoire, was both fascinating and sad. It left me in an introspective state, questioning my own mortality and pondering the very nature of life, death, and the universe.
Farewell Fastball Rhino, you will be missed. Your time on this earth was much too short.
Despite the precipitous decline in Rhino’s skills, the Slades squad still has to be considered one of the favourites entering the O-Down weekend (especially if the rumours of them sending Ryan down to the minors for the tournament are true). With Paul starting to find his groove on the mound, Borko tracking down any ball hit in the air, and Mitch returning from Over-Eaters Anonymous, this team has all the pieces in place to bring home another set of O-Down championship t-shirts.
Sub-Arctic Surveyors (2 W, 2 L)
The Scrubs powered out of the gates this season with a 2-0 start that had them tied for first one week in. They’ve come back down to Earth a little with losses to HBC and the O’s but this newfound competitiveness is the real deal. Why are they playing so well thus far this season? Here’s why:
“Brad is the best hitting Waugh currently playing in the league.”
While the downward trend continues for his father in the batter’s box, the son of one of the league’s formerly most feared sluggers has taken the league by storm early in 2014. Brad has been stroking triples, teeing off on poorly placed pitches, and terrorizing every chucker he’s faced. He is wielding the most potent bat in the Sub-Arctic line-up, and is a major reason why runs have been appearing on the board at an unprecedented rate for this franchise. He has definitely inherited his father’s hitting genes and the Scrubs are basking in the glory of those skills.
Unfortunately, he’s also inherited the fielding genes, base running genes, and temper genes of his father’s early days in the league. And that’s not helping anyone out.
The Scrubs enter the O-Down the same way they seem to enter every tournament – with unbridled optimism, unreasonable expectations, and unquenchable thirst. While their chances of bringing home the title are slim, their chances of owning the beer gardens are off the board. Keep doing what you do, Sub-Arctic. You make Tommy Forrest the most entertaining place in town.
Alanco Orioles (2 W, 2 L)
Two games into the season, the O’s were already two-thirds of the way to their loss total from the entirety of last year. They’ve righted the ship to some degree and made it back to .500 in no small part thanks to an easy week 2 schedule, but the one lesson that we’ve learned about the O’s this season is:
“Matt Kennedy is the Ron Artest/Metta World Peace of the YK Fastball league.”
This can be a bad thing or a good thing depending on the day, his mood, and the number of Taylor Swift songs that he’s had a chance to listen to before game time.
The bad: While it’s not quite “Malice in the Palace” bad, Matty getting tossed from the game while the O’s held a 4-2 lead over Slades with no subs on their bench resulting in the 7-0 default loss was a pretty harsh season opener.
The good: .424 average, .558 OBP, 4 HRs, 18 RBIs, in 43 PA last season. He can provide the big bat that is needed behind Andy Williams in the line-up and be a key cog to the O’s actually winning a fastball tournament.
The main question is which Matty Boones will we see?
Or this one?
The Orioles’ hopes hinge on the answer.
As for an O-Down prediction, I’m sticking to my pre-season guns and predicting that the O’s get their first tournament win this weekend. They’re probably not the favourites entering the weekend, but I’ve got faith that they’ll come up big when they need it the most.
Home Building Centre Diamondbacks (3 W, 1 L)
Their hopes for an undefeated season fell by the wayside on Monday night but the D-Backs remain the cream of the crop so far this season. The reason for their early season dominance?
“2.0 is better than the original.”
As is true for most things in life, the second version is proving to be even better than the original for the Diamondbacks this year. And I’m not talking about the new jerseys that they’ve been waiting on for months that still haven’t arrived. No, I’m of course talking about Vette 2.0.
When the defending Territorial champs showed up to Spring Training with Sean Couvrette taking the spot of his brother Brian in the line-up’s 2-hole, skepticism ran rampant. However, a couple of weeks into the season, it seems like the smartest decision they’ve made in years. Sure, Brian had an all-star type skill level in every aspect of the game, but his clubhouse presence and questionable decisions had critics wondering if he was worth the trouble. HBC found the perfect solution, Couvrette 2.0. The 2.0 version brings all the skills of the original to the table but at the same time has a quiet demeanour, a sportsmanlike attitude, and some actual fans.
Can this level of talent and respectfulness continue to exist in one Couvrette? Only time will tell, but for now, the offseason brotherly exchange has paid off immensely for the Diamondbacks.
HBC will be relying on their all or nothing approach at the plate to carry them once again this tournament. As usual, their pitching will be solid, but not spectacular, so their fate will be decided by whether their slugging firefighters are crushing home runs or racking up the K’s. This do-or-die style can produce spectacular results, but can it be maintained for the full weekend? That’s a tough ask for any team.
Well folks, that’s where we’re sitting as we head into this weekend’s O-Down. I expect to see you all in the beer gardens supporting this fantastic tournament and rocking out to my killer entrance music.