The 2008 Postseason Preview


Friday, 2008 October 1 – The fall returns once again, in a postseason that will see old titans to return and new legends begin. The Daly City Montis, off a staggeringly brilliant September and on a 26-1 run, look like they will barnstorm through the UL, where every other team in the league finished under .500. But major shakeups abound in the SWL, which is sending up the best team in its history to take revenge on their 2007 postseason snub.

First, a quick recap of the Montis’ September finish:

The final month was marked by sheer dominance by the Daly City rotation – of the 27 games, starters threw an absurd 18 complete games, gaining shutouts in 11 of them! They starters had a team ERA of 1.61 in September, and the only loss came from an unfortunate 2R complete game performance by Zhao.

Despite all the long starts, the bullpen and closer Josiah Leong did get in some work – he closed out 6 more saves and finished with the league lead at 36. Middle reliever Bernadette Dugtong also pitched 5 scoreless innings to end the season on a 12-inning scoreless streak.

1B Derek Lew started off with a slow month, almost losing the RBI lead he’s held for most of the season to United States 3B Juan Truex. But he began a late surge, hammering home 6 RBIs on 9/22 in the best Daly City performance of the year.

The team’s HR race went down to the wire – Lew faded in September with just 3 HR, but LF Ted Kwong, RF Francis Chen, and 3B/C Alan Wong all finished within a single homerun of each other. Kwong, battling Lew for the lead most of the season, tapered off with a solid 5 HR September, but was caught by a steadily rising Wong (8 September homeruns), and a herculean 11 by Chen, who has had jaw-dropping second-half splits after returning from his injury – 23 homeruns in 52 games and 189 at-bats, on pace for 71 over a 162-game season.

Overall, the Montis finished 141-21, the best season in team history and 61 games ahead of the second-place Mozilla Firefoxes at 80-82 (.494). The 3rd place Apple Septic Tanks were just 2 games behind at 78-84 (.481), while the Microsoft Longhorns saw a precipitous fall to 4th with a 71-90 (.441) finish, a 21 game drop from last year.

Things were shaken up once again in the UL Terran Division, where last years division champion Caribbean Pirates dropped 15 games to last place, finishing at 64-98 (.395) as the worst team in the league (after finishing with the best-ever Terran Division record in 2007). The Europe Cricketeers took the crown, at 74-88 (.457), just a single game above the Asia Giants.

In the SWL Photomaker Division, Pentax and Nikon swapped places, with the Vibration Reducers taking the crown at 86-76 (.531) and Pentax dropping a staggering 11 games off their 2007 mark to finish at 78-84 (.481), the first losing season of perrenial batter of the year Gates Skywalker’s career. Nontheless, he’s in the playoffs again, where he’ll hope to make some noise as a one-man wrecking crew.

The World Cities division saw the Las Vegas Valleys take a monumental leap, winning 99 games (99-63, .611), a new high-water market for any non-Montis team. They field a formidable offense and the SWL’s best pitching, and are a clear favorite for the SWL pennant. The wildcard, meanwhile, came down to the wire, with the #2 Tokyo Samurai trading an epic 5-game losing streak with Paris Forfeiters’ 5-game win streak heading into the last game of the season, to fall 1 game back. The Forefeiters would end up dropping their last game to Nikon while the Samurai would eek out a 3-2 victory over the Sony Super Steadyshots, leading to a historic Game 163 showdown between the two teams.

Saturday, 2008 October 2 – a scintillating finish to the regular season ensued in a dramatic Game 163, where the Paris Forfeiters, led by ace Kyle Katarn, faced off against the Tokyo Samurai’s emerging rookie Felix Andrade, who only picked up a starting spot in the rotation in mid-August.

Despite facing a harrowing lineup featuring THREE .500 sluggers, Andrade kept his composure, shutting out the Forfeiters and carrying a 2-hitter through the first 7 innings. But after a couple of leadoff hits and a sac-fly score in the 8th, things started to unravel for the young rookie as the Forfeiters put 3 runs on the board. Katarn, the reigning Pitcher of the Year, closed things off easily, throwing a 4-hit shutout over 8+2/3 innings before being relieved for the final out.

With the final game in the books, the Paris Forfeiters notched themselves 2nd place in the World Cities Division, granting them a date with the deadly Brandon Wroten-led Nikon Vibration Reducers.


Round 1: Asia Giants (73-89) vs. Daly City Montis (141-21)

A rematch of 2007’s divisional matchup, in which the Montis swept the Giants 4-0. The regular season series finished 22-3 for Daly City, which doesn’t also doesn’t bode well for Asia. On the bright side, the Giants squad is fully intact this year, with a formidable hitting core of Benjamin Trepanier (.326-.494-.591), Alex Quiros (.308-.400-.618), and a healthy Tom Clark (.318-.399-.569), who was injured 5 days before the playoffs last year and missed the series. Their pitching, unfortunately, is in disarray, ranking near the bottom of the league with a 5.53 ERA, and only one decent starter in lefty workhorse Eric McCutcheon (14-10, 4.40 ERA, 1.31 WHIP).

Prediction: Daly City, 4-0

Round 1: Europe Cricketeers (74-88) vs. Mozilla Firefoxes (80-82)

Mozilla’s hopes of going far this postseason rest mainly on the arm of ace Robert Kroger (18-11, 3.36 ERA, 1.02 WHIP), who finally finds himself in his first playoff berth. Closer Thomas Yon came into his own this year, coming in 2nd in the league with 34 saves and a 2.70 ERA. On the offensive side they’ve got 1B Mack Nimmons who blossomed into a Batter of the Year caliber star this year, hitting .300-.378-.576 and knocking in career highs of 44HR/117RBI.

Despite being the division winner, the Cricketeers are at a notable disadvantage, having overplayed their true performance massively (+10 games over their Pythagorean record, more than double the second-luckiest teams). They were not just the worst offensive team in the postseason, but were actually LAST in the league offensively with just 710 runs scored, with longtime catcher Rolland Hochstetler getting nearly no support (their average team line was .247-.301-.402, easily worst in the league across all 3), and trot out a set of forgettable starters.

Prediction: Mozilla, 4-1

Round 1: Pentax Shake Reducers (78-84) vs. Las Vegas Valleys (99-63)

The Shake Reducers will try to make amends for their disappointing 2007, where they missed their shot at the World Series after dropping a command 3-1 lead in the Shinto-World League series, with the bullpen wasting a godly performance by 4-time Batter of the Year Gates Skywalker. They mostly return their same core as last year, with 1B Barney Raymo (.300-.350-.577) batting cleanup and ace Augusto Figueroa hoping to lock down his starts.

They’re facing a stiff new challenger in the Las Vegas Valleys, who exploded to a +15 win improvement this year and were the 2nd best team in baseball after the Montis. The Valleys were boosted hugely with the signing of third baseman and leadoff hitter William Fludd, who boasted a .416 OBP this year, and their young pair of aces in Larry Belton and Joseph Moster coming into their own. This will be perennial Batter of the Year bridesmaid Richard Eager’s first trip back to the playoffs since 2005, when they were knocked out 1-4 in the divisional series against the Canon Image Stabilizers (Skywalker’s then-team).

The Shake Reducers pack the star power with the best starter and by far the best batter in the galaxy, but the Valleys have established a solid depth all season long. In a 7-game series, star heroics could make this anyone’s win!

Prediction: Las Vegas, 4-2

Round 2: Paris Forfeiters (86-77) vs. Nikon Vibration Reducers (86-76)

Paris has the closest thing to a lock-down ace in this half of the league in Kyle Katarn (led the SWL with 13 CG’s and 6 shutouts), but the bad news is that they spent Katarn’s first start on the Game 163 play-in to get here. The Forfeiters’ pitching staff is an absolute mess after that – the remaining rotation are running in 5-6.00 ERA range, and the bullpen hasn’t fared much better, with 41-year-old closer Garfield Yocom clearly showing his age(4.03 ERA and 8 blown saves on the season). They’ve still got the brilliant on-base machine SS Lamont Sanchez (.317-.440-.552), but will need to rake in at least 2 non-Katarn starts to help out their awful pitching.

The Vibration Reducers meanwhile will hope to hammer the Forfeiters into… forfeiture. 1B Brandon Wroten has been a star for years but reached another level in 2008, obliterating 61 home runs (the first ever 60HR season by someone not named Skywalker), with a .317-.415-.698 line. Though a regression from his BotY-caliber 2007, Maul Foundation (.322-.358-.580) and 3B Joseph Harmon (.333-.388-.506) will supplement the lineup, and hopefully keep things competitive for a ho-hum pitching staff.

Prediction: Paris, 4-2

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