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The 2007 Postseason Preview

League Review

Saturday, 2007 October 3 – the cool autumn breeze and the turning of the calendar to October means one thing for baseball fans – the playoffs are in the air, and while the Daly City Montis enter the postseason as dominant favorites once again, intriguing storylines abound everywhere, especially in the SWL where the four contenders were separated by just 4 games in the regular season.

While the past four years have been a gradual downward decline for the Montis (albeit still playing in a different class compared to other teams in the league), the Montis roared back to vintage dominance with a 131-31, .809 record, their second-best in team history and a 12-game improvement over the previous season. A weaker field also meant they completely ran away in the division – they clinched the division crown by August and finished with a staggering 41-game lead over the 2nd-place Microsoft Longhorns, who were no chumps themselves at 90-72, .556 with the 2nd-best record in baseball.

The Mozilla Firefoxes rose out of the cellar for the first time, as the bottom seemed to fall out of the Apple Septic Tanks, who have fallen from 2nd to 3rd to 4th place in the division in consecutive season, and finished with an abysmal losing record – 72-90, .444. They’re definitely feeling the loss of ace pitcher Kyle Katarn, who achieved the Triple Crown in the SWL with a 19-11, 3.34 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 298 K season.

Over in the tumultuous and always disappointing Terran Division, the Caribbean Pirates ascended to the top, posting a strong 79-83, .488 record – the best any Terran team has ever played. The Pirates were buoyed by the addition of free agent Simeon Sarvis who defected over from SWL’s Pentax and put up a .309-.376-.580 line, and the continued development of monster prospect Clifford Alfano, who followed up his outstanding rookie campaign (3rd place in UL rookie of year voting) by posting a .349-.446-.584 line and a scary 11.2 RC/27, 4th-best in the UL.

Last year’s first place Asia Giants took a slight step back, winning two fewer games but still managing to snag the last playoff berth with an abysmal 67-95, .414 record.

Following a tumultuous offseason in the Shinto-World League, the playoff picture will look massively different, both in terms of the teams present, the faces on them, and the familiar faces missing from October baseball.

The Canon Image Stabilizers, who had secured the division both years, plummeted to a tie for 3rd with the loss of all-galaxy slugger Gates Skywalker, who left to shatter his previous records in leading the Pentax Shake Reducers to the division crown. The Nikon Vibration Reducers, despite suffering from the loss of their own all-world slugger Richard Eager, replaced enough of his offensive prowess with free agent 1B Maul Foundation (.367-.403-.687, 2nd-best OPS and RC/27 in the SWL) to again finish 5th in baseball in offense, while shoring up their pitching with free agent Josue Berrero, who became the team’s ace with a 14-11, 3.88 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 234+1/3 IP season, good for the 5th-best ERA and 2nd-best WHIP in the SWL. They rose from the cellar last season to finish 84-78, .519, securing second place by 12 games.

Despite winning their division cleanly by five games, and dominating both sides of the ball by finishing 3rd in both runs scored and runs allowed (for a +119 run differential – no team outside of Daly City was better), the Pentax Shake Reducers come in with a bevy of question marks after their offseason makeover. Having lost their best two sluggers from 2006 – 1B Walter Vanish and RF Simeon Sarvis, who both went on two post .950+ OPS seasons with new teams – the Shake Reducers pulled in a free agent haul to more than replace them – 1B Barney Raymo slugged .292-.357-.558, and the ever-growing legend Gates Skywalker obliterated all records with a .359-.444-.981 season (1.426 OPS, 16.93 RC/27) to carry the team. If the prolific Skywalker can replicate his regular season success, even the veteran Montis offense will be pressed to keep pace.

The most dramatic late-September race was in the World Cities division. On 2007 September 23, with five games to go on the season, the Tokyo Samurai stood at had 84-73, and had secured a mildly comfortable lead over the 82-75 Las Vegas Valleys, who themselves had a 2-game margin over the 80-77 Paris Forfeiters. Tokyo went 3-2 the rest of the way to win the division by two games, but the Valleys stumbled a bit at 2-3, while the Forfeiters swept five games, including a crucial 161st game, 8-2 win against the Valleys to finally move ahead into second place, leaving the mercenary Richard Eager, he of the record-busting $38.3M annual salary, out of the postseason once again (something that will no doubt vindicate fans of the playoff-bound Vibration Reducers, his former team).


Round 1: Asia Giants vs. Daly City Montis

Interestingly enough, despite being the weakest team in the playoff field this year, the Asia Giants tied with the Mozilla Firefoxes as the most succesful team against the Montis in 2007, albeit that “success” meant losing only at a 7-16 clip (.304). Still, they’ve fared much better against the Montis than either the Microsoft Longhorns or the Caribbean, who had combined to go 5-42, .106 against the Montis. Nonetheless it looks to be a longshot for the Giants – while rookie of the year Benjamin Trepanier has evolved into one of the top-five players in baseball (4th-best 11.9 RC/27 this year on a .316-.461-.606 line), and franchise cornerstone 1B Alex Quiros (who recently signed a 7-year, $8.45M per deal) whacked .294-.388-.616 over a full 162 game season, they lost their #5 slugger Tom Clark (.294-.373-.553) to a torn back muscle a few days before the end of the season. The powerful Montis lineup should also feast on the Giants’ atrocious hitting (5.87 ERA, 1005 runs allowed, both last in baseball).

Prediction: Daly City, 4-0

Round 1: Caribbean Pirates vs. Microsoft Longhorns

The Microsoft Longhorns come into this matchup noticeably less balanced than the year before, when they finished 2nd both in runs scored and allowed. Despite some importance losses – .300-.335-.583 SS Maul Foundation to free agency, .300-.339-.593 1B G.A. Thrawn to a complete skills regression (he hit .186-.233-.316 over 249 plate appearances this season), the rapid development of some of their younger hitters allowed the Longhorns to keep pace with 941 runs to once again finish second. Of particular note is the star-studded trio of gap hitters Jango and Boba Fett (.368-.453-.655 and .336-.407-.599, respectively) and UL homerun champion Jabba Desilijic Ture, who hammered 63 homers and a .246-396-.605 line). The Fetts and Desilijic Ture make Microsoft the only team with three players with a 1.000 or greater OPS. Their pitching, however, has been just mediocre – while Kernel Tyranus dominated once again (18-8, 2.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP), no other member of the rotation has an ERA less than 5.00.

While the Longhorns’ potent offense and ace Tyranus will present a tough matchup for anyone, the 2007 Caribbean Pirates squad – 10th in runs scored and 9th in runs allowed – is about the best the Terran Division has ever fielded, about on par with the 2005 European Cricketeers. Their lineup boasts a trio of stars – 20-year-old phenom Clifford Alfano, RF Simeon Sarvis, and 1B Luis Devitt, who on a good day can hit as well as the Longhorns’ three stars.  The Pirates’ pitching features solid but thoroughly unexciting innings-eater workhorses in Wilfredo Raposa, David Barnett, and Glenn Robertson.itt

On the  surface, Longhorns-Pirates looks to be an awfully lopsided matchup, but the Caribbean pitching staff, while not the dominating playoff ideal, actually match up well against Microsoft’s #2-4 starters.  With the right offensive burst, the Pirates might manage to win out two or so games in the series.

Prediction: Microsoft, 4-2

Round 1: Nikon Vibration Reducers vs. Pentax Shake Reducers

Though the Shake Reducers’ record did not fare much better than previous Photomaker division winners (they tied last year’s pennant-winning Image Stabilizers), their team looks to be the most stacked and balanced of all in the SWL, with a solid top-3 pitching rotation and the simply unstoppable Gates Skywalker, who could absolutely demolish the left-handed hopes that Nikon will ride on, #1 starter Josue Berrero and #2 Josue Huerta (Skywalker was a staggering .444-.529-1.294 against lefties this season).  The Shake Reducers’ hopes will lie almost entirely on Skywalker, however, as the team simply has no offense outside of him, while the Vibration Reducers can rely on young sluggers Maul Foundation and Brandon Wroten (.367-.403-.687 and .322-.405-.615, respectively).  Look for the Nikon squad to win a few games on a Skywalker off-day, but there likely won’t be enough of those before Skywalker single-handedly demolishes their pitching staff (especially against the lefty-heavy rotation).

Prediction: Pentax, 4-2

Round 2: Paris Forfeiters vs. Tokyo Samurai

A classic matchup of fearsome pitching against a fearsome lineup.  Tokyo run the division by bashing away at the opposition – they tied for 2nd in homeruns and 3rd in runs scored, led not only by free-agent import Walter Vanish (41 homers) and RF Ronald Peterson (39 homers), but also three additional batters who hit at least 20 round-trippers.   Their swing-for-the-fences approach, however (they ranked 3rd in the SWL in strikeouts), could be exactly the wrong matchup against a lights-out Paris pitching staff that led the SWL in strikeouts and were 2nd in baseball, especially against Triple Crown winner and ace Kyle Katarn.  The problem for Paris will be generating enough offense; they don’t have a star hitter in the bunch, with shortstop Lamont Sanchez, at .271-.393-.471 (.864 OPS) as their best hitter.  The Forfeiters do make up for this in terms of consistency, however – their lineup is loaded with 6 regulars with an OPS between .798 and .864, which should mean slow but steady run production.  Combine that with a star-studded pitching staff that doesn’t need too many runs to begin with, and the Forfeiters should be able to upset the division champion Samurai, and have a fair shot at going far in these playoffs.

Prediction: Paris, 4-2

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2007 Midseason Review (League)

League Review

Just like the summer heat, Daly City baseball has only heated up as we hit the midpoint of the season.  After a solid April start, the Montis have shifted into full gear with a 21-4 June record (.840).  The offense has been humming along at a slightly slower pace (just 6.51 runs per game in May/June, vs. 7.18 in April), but the rotation in particular has really come into its own, and their dominance has kept the team at the top of the standings.

The standings after 81 games:

Universe League (UL)Shinto-World League (SWL)
Galactica DivisionPhotomaker Division
TeamWL%Games backTeamWL%Games back
Daly City Montis6417.790-Pentax Shake Reducers4833.593-
Microsoft Longhorns4635.56818Nikon Vibration Reducers4437.5434
Mozilla Firefoxes4338.53121Canon Image Stabilizers4140.5067
Apple Septic Tanks3546.43229Sony Super Steadyshots3546.43213
Terran DivisionWorld Cities Division
Europe Cricketeers3843.469-Las Vegas Valleys4437.543-
Caribbean Pirates3546.4323Tokyo Samurai4338.5311
Asia Giants3348.4075Paris Forfeiters3645.4448
United States Patriots3051.3708Venice Carnivale3348.40711

Team Summary

Galactica Division

Microsoft Longhorns

The deep-pocketed Longhorns (their $137.5M payroll is tops in the league) are once again in solid contention, and while they don’t have a chance of catching the dominant Montis, they have a firm hold on the wildcard slot, with the third place team, the arch-rival Apple Septic Tanks, a distant 11 games back.

The Longhorns have got the power hitting – the extraordinary Jango Fett is having an MVP-caliber season, batting .390-.464-.673, setting the table nicely for Jabba Desiljic Ture, who leads the league in homeruns and RBI with 30 and 75, respectively.  While the pitching staff has been horrid, it’s anchored by Kernel Tyranus, who is once again having a solid season (10-1 so far, with a 2.47 ERA and 1.01 WHIP).  What they lack in overall excellence, the Longhorns are making up with star power, and they seem poised to be a playoffs threat.

Runs scored: 440(7th)
Runs allowed: 426 (7th)

Mozilla Firefoxes

The low-budget Firefoxes are showing how to get things done, non-profit style, putting up a solid .531 record with the smallest budget ($45M) in the league.  Mozilla is 3rd in the league in runs allowed, where ace Rober Krogert (3.89 ERA) and breakout star Ferdinand Castro (2.95 ERA) are keeping games to a low-scoring affair, but the offense is hurting.  They’re sorely feeling the loss of superstar  Mathew Glenn, who signed an outrageous contract (4 years, $21.7M per) to be Gates Skywalker’s replacement at Canon.

Runs scored: 425 (10th)
Runs allowed: 393 (3rd)

Apple Septic Tanks

What’s happened to Apple?  A year removed from a 92-win, .568 season, production has all but dried up for the Septic Tanks, who rank dead last in the Galactica Division (although they’d remain first if they played in the lowly Terran Division).  They’re neither hitting (13th in runs scored) nor pitching (13th in runs allowed), and about the only thing they’re doing is stealing bases (Ben Kenobi is third in the league with 35).

While the rotation saw the loss of dominant ace Kyle Katarn, the offense  just doesn’t seem to be clicking, despite retaining the core of their 4th-ranked 2006 lineup.  There’s still plenty of baseball left from July through September however, and the 3-4-5 trio of Ben Kenobi, Hans Blik, and Chewie Gonzales could very well turn the fortunes of the Septic Tanks around in the second half.

Runs scored: 425 (10th)
Runs allowed: 393 (3rd)

Terran Division

Europe Cricketeers

The Terran Division hasn’t been dominant since the inception of the league, having failed to produce a .500 club in any of the two and a half seasons thus far.  This time, the 2005 Division Champion Cricketeers are back in the driver’s seat, but with an 8-game seperation from 1st to 4th, it’s still anyone’s division.

For their part, the Cricketeers have been thriving based on pitching, with a decent performance across the board.  The offense has been anemic, however, without star catcher Rolland Hochstetler, who’s been out nearly two months after tearing his abdominal muscle in mid-May.

Runs scored: 371 (15th)
Runs allowed: 421 (5th)

Caribbean Pirates

Loaded with star power, many experts predicted this would be the year the Pirates broke out from the bottom of the division, but so far they haven’t lived up to the hype, with many of the franchise stars even regressing.  Though they’ve put up just 407 runs (12th in baseball), the Caribbean has seen the emergence of 2006 first-round pick Clifford Alfano, who has already hit his way into the cleanup slot with a .358-.442-.584 line in just his second season.  First baseman Luis Devitt and RF Simeon Sarvis have also improved, forming a fearsome trio of hitters in the 3-4-5 slots.

The rotation has been where the Pirates have disappointed – innings eater and ace Wilfredo Raposa, stolen away from the Cricketeers, hasn’t been able to find a groove in his new digs at the cavernous Hiram Bithorn stadium, where he’s allowing baseruns at a 1.52 WHIP rate.  Perhaps suffering from an ego hit, former ace David Barnett hasn’t seemed to be his old self, going 6-7 with a 6.12 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, and failing to make the all-star team for the first time in his career.

Runs scored: 407 (12th)
Runs allowed: 464 (12th)

Asia Giants

The 2007 Giants once again lean heavy on offense, and unlike their 2006 run to the top of the division, the bats just aren’t enough to overcome the horrid pitching this time around.  Not a single starter has an ERA lower than 5.50, and the fielding has been worse, committing 69 errors (2nd highest in baseball).

The Giants’ core of superstar hitters is keeping them in the hunt, and they are raking like perhaps no other middle of the lineup:

Benjamin Trepanier: .320-.443-.676
Alex Quiros: .304-.402-.640
Tom Clark: .277-.362-.559

The young Trepanier is quickly becoming a star – the 2006 first overall pick and rookie of the year,  has kept up career highs in batting average and on-base percentage, and has developed a newfound power stroke.  He ranks 3rd in slugging percentage (1st outside of Daly City), and has 25 homers – already surpassing the 18 he had all of last season!

Runs scored: 430 (9th)
Runs allowed: 524 (16th)

United States Patriots

The Patriots are dwelling in the cellar of the Terran Division, although with a -4 Pythagorean differential, their performance is right in the pack with the rest of the division.  Their offense has been led by the classic American Truex-Amey duo, but their supporting cast has been absolutely dreadful – just one other member of the starting lineup is slugging over .400, and just two others have an OBP over .300, leading to just the 14th-ranked offense in the game.

Pitching has been a relatively bright spot for the Patriots, however.  Though they’ve run a revolving door of starters (10 different pitchers have made starts), the group has performed surprisingly well, with three of five of the current rotation sporting ERAs below 4.

Runs scored: 378 (14th)
Runs allowed: 439 (8th)

Photomaker Division

Pentax Shake Reducers

When the Shake Reducers finished just one game back of the division champion Image Stabilizers last season, things were looking bright for the team – they had improved steadily on their 3rd-place finish in 2005, had a strong core of middle-of-the-order hitters, and one of the game’s true aces in Augusto Figeuroa.  Then things began to fall apart – the best two hitters, 1B Walter Vanish and RF Simeon Sarvis, both bolted in free agency, but in turn the payroll flexibility allowed the Shake Reducers to land the biggest fish of all – the disgruntled two-time MVP and record-breaking slugger Gates Skywalker.

Skywalker has almost single-handedly willed this team to the division lead – his monstrous .347-.441-.990 line is the stuff legend is made of, and he’s fully healthy so far, having played in all 81 games and setting himself on pace for 110 homeruns and 208 RBI’s, which would absolutely shatter the all-time record (88 HR’s by Kenton McClinton in his magical 1942 season).

Runs scored: 482 (3rd)
Runs allowed: 376 (2nd)

Nikon Vibration Reducers

Two middling seasons stuck far away from the division-leading Image Stabilizers, and any decent playoff hopes, combined to scare away the league’s second-most prolific hitter, Richard Eager.  From there it looked as though the team – 162-162 (.500) the past two seasons, would be dead in the water, but the Vibration Reducers have played splendid ball and find themselves in a prime position just 4 games back of the division lead, and leading the wildcard race.

The key has been solid on-base fundamentals – the team is getting on at a .353 clip, 2nd best in the game – and the signing of Microsoft shortstop Maul Foundation, who is doing his best Eager impersonation with a .374-.408-.694 line, not so far off from the .347-.433-.679 clip of the man himself.

Runs scored: 471 (4th)
Runs allowed: 425 (6th)

Canon Image Stabilizers

The Image Stabilizers made perhaps the worst front-office decision in baseball history by letting their franchise face Gates Skywalker, waltz over to a division rival, but the Stabilizers have hung in the thick of things with their signing of Mozilla hero Mathew Glenn, who is putting up a season for the ages (.385-.457-.702), and a solid but not spectacular supporting cast (Francis Cote and Francisco Amaral putting up OBP’s over .400).

The true weakness of the team lies in their pitching, where ace Justin Ramage seems far removed from his Pitcher-of-the-Year-winning glory days of 2005 (he’s got a 4.07 ERA and just 6.3 K’s per 9), and none of the other rotation members seem particularly inspiring for a postseason run or even a strong September push.

Runs scored: 492 (2nd)
Runs allowed: 487 (14th)

Sony Super Steadyshots

After looking strong in 2005 (an even .500 finish), the Super Steadyshots once again find themselves back in the cellar.  While all of their division rivals picked up new MVP-caliber sluggers, the SSS stayed pat and have found themselves unable to score any runs.  Despite their league-worst scoring ability, Sony has been doing fairly well for itself on the pitching front, led by free agent signing Johnny Bussell (3.38 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) and bolstered by last season’s trade acquisition Justin Pucci (4.35 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) and longtime starter Lee Cassidy (4.20 ERA, 1.23 WHIP).

Runs scored: 344 (16th)
Runs allowed: 409 (4th)

World Cities Division

Las Vegas Valleys

The Valleys reloaded big time in the offseason in their bid for a repeat division championship, sparing no expense to acquire Nikon’s superstar Richard Eager for an unheard-of $38.3M per year, 5-year contract.  Eager hasn’t disappointed, and he joins the aging Las Vegas great Hector Valdivieso (.345-.427-.647) to form perhaps the most fearsome batting duo in baseball.

Runs scored: 459 (6th)
Runs allowed: 462 (11th)

Tokyo Samurai

With the key acquisition of Pentax slugger Walter Vanish, the Samurai seemed off to a hot start, compiling a hot 33-24 record (.579) by the end of May.  Tokyo nosedived in June however, posting an 11-14 record (.444) on a string of bad luck, despite strong months by Ronald Peterson (.287-.386-.609) and a monstrous month by Vanish (.411-.486-.642).

The Samurai did take a huge blow, however, when centerfielder Kevin Harwell, having a breakout (.398-.479-.605) season at age 38, broke his foot in mid-June, putting him out for the entire season.

Runs scored: 464 (5th)
Runs allowed: 440 (9th)

Paris Forfeiters

It’s been a tough break for the Forfeiters, who played admirably in 2005 to finish 2 games behind Tokyo, and played to a bitter tie (losing the tiebreaker) against the Las Vegas Valleys in 2006.  The Forfeiters may find themselves out of even that kind of luck in 2007, where the wheels seem to be finally falling off of OBP machine Lamont Sanchez (.245-.366-.447).

Paris paid big dollars to lure away ace Kyle Kataran to the SWL, and his mediocre performance so far (3.44 ERA, compared to 2.43 heading into the season) is what’s barely keeping the Forfeiters in contention

Runs scored: 411 (11th)
Runs allowed: 446 (10th)

Venice Carnivale

There’s been little to root for in the small baseball town of Venice, and the Carnivale have been quietly clogging along to another last-place finish.  The lone bright spots are Wilbur Phillips, who has developed into a star this season (.282-.367-.601), and the ever reliable #1 starter Gerald Freeman, who is quietly putting up yet another solid season (3.88 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.1 K’s per 9).

Runs scored: 433 (8th)
Runs allowed: 511 (15th)

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The 2006 Playoffs: League Series Review

Game Recaps

Friday, October 22nd – It’s been a rollercoaster ride the last ten days in the baseball world, as the powerhouse teams came together in the final four round.  The DC Montis against the M-Dollar Longhorns, and the Canon IS vs. the Pentax SR.

The bookies won little and lost big this round.  Heavily favored going into the series, the Daly City Montis swept past the #2 seed Microsoft Longhorns, outscoring the team from Seattle 28-13 to take the series in 5 games.  Daly City led off with a 9-0 shutout start by ace Nathan Yan, who pitched a gem of a 2-hitter, while Derek Lew provided the offense with a 4 for 5 game, hitting two solo homers, but dropped the next game behind an average start by Esguerra and a dominant 1-run start by Microsoft starter Eric Holl.

Tragedy struck game 3, as midway into the fifth inning, starter Terrence Zhao pulled a bicep tendon, taking him out of the game.  Alfred Vong finished the rest of the game out, which Daly City won 9-6.  Zhao, however, will be out for 1-2 weeks with the injury, taking him out of the rest of the playoff picture.

Samantha Chin pitched another strong game in Game 4, in which Daly City’s offense took care of the rest by slamming Microsoft ace Sherwood Bertsch for 13 hits and 7 runs.  By Game 5, it was all over, as the reborn Sean Wade took to the mound for another masterful start, throwing a complete game, 2-hit, 1-run gem to shut down the Longhorns 2-1.’Like the Galactic Colossus growing ever stronger with each new planet it consumes, the Montis seem unstoppable on its quest for a 4th straight World Championship. They’ll have a surprising opponent for the final round, however.

Originally picked to bomb out in the first round, Pentax, with a bit of luck, eeked into the 2nd round with a 4-3 series win over the Paris Forfeiters, who had blown a 3-1 series lead.  Facing the powerhouse Image Stabilizers, however, few gave them much of a chance.  True to form, the Image Stabilizers cleaned house with the Pentax Shake Reducers the very first game, obliterating them 15-2 behind a solid start by Justin Ramage and explosive by hitting from the 1-9 spots in the batting order.  The IS slipped the next game however – going into the 8th leading 5-4, the bullpen blundered and gave up two runs in the 8th and 9th, off solo shots by RF Simeon Sarvis and CF Steffen Richardson.  Interestingly enough, Gonzalo Bolanos once again pitched for the save.

The very next game, Canon was embarrassed 4-10, behind a near complete game by Augusto Figueroa and a couple of 3-4, 2HR, 4RBI games by CF Steffen Richardson and SS Noe Pessoa.  If Canon ever needed a wake-up call, it was then, and Justin Ramage stepped up to make it, bowling over Pentax with a 4-hit shutout in a scant 106 pitches, while Gates Skywalker brought the hardware with a two-homerun performance.

The surge, however, was momentary, as a Robert Bone implosion the very next game (7 runs and 12 hits in 6 1/3 innings) doomed Canon, no matter what 4-4, 2HR performance Gates could pull out that day.

As in any great back-and-forth matchup, Canon rebounded back to make it 3-3, with a 6-3 win in Game 6.

With the series and a shot for a 2005 World Series rematch on the line, the Image Stabilizers needed to bring it, and who else to have on the mound by ace Justin Ramage, who was almost single-handedly responsible for two of Canon’s three wins, and would surely be MVP of the series if he worked his magic to win 3 out of 4 wins for Canon.  Ramage pitched 7 innings, with 9 K’s and only 2 runs, and Gates Skywalker hit another homer for his SIXTH homerun in four straight games.  What nobody counted on was the game put on by 29-year-old Moises Silva, who in four postseason starts had gone 2-2 with a 7.11 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.  Silva brought the heat with an 8-inning, ONE RUN start, inexplicably besting Ramage and bringing the Shake Reducers to their first  WORLD SERIES!!

Round 2 was a round of what could’ve beens.  Microsoft lost two save-situation games, where the production brought by their slugger Jabba Desilijic Ture could’ve made the difference.  Microsoft’s #1 starter, Kernel Tyranus, and #2, Wilhuff Tarkin, could have also easily made up two or three games.  Similarly on Canon’s end, the team felt the absence of their #2 best hitter Francis Cote in their three save situation losses, as well as the two of their starters.

Canon’s Gates Skywalker, who blew away the league in the regular season with a 182 RBI, 146 Run, .350-.441-.891, 79 homer regular season campaign, and bashed away with a marvelous 27 RBI, 20 Run, 12HR, .467-.561-1.467 postseason (his run production alone outnumbers that of the entire Las Vegas or Pentax teams during their matches).  A free agent this year, Skywalker could very well move on to greener pastures, after two seasons without a ring in Canonland.

Looking forward to the World Series, 2006 seems to be another easy one for the Daly City Montis, who coast into this series outscoring their opponents 63-25 in the postseason (that’s 6.3 runs to 2.5 runs per game), while Pentax has stumbled along into two miraculous underdog 4-3 series wins, scoring 73-76 along the way (that’s 5.2 runs to 5.4 runs per game).  Yes, that’s right, Pentax has actually been outscored in the postseason, despite arriving at the World Series with the Shinto-World League pennant. 

Round 3, World Series: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Daly City Montis

The Daly City Montis come into this series like they came into the regular season – a so-so offense backed by a lights-out pitching staff.  This description may be more true than ever now, as Daly City has stumbled with poor performances by their top players, and has relied heavily on star performances from their light-hitting batters like Joanna Maung (.429-.489-.595) and Tiffany Ho (.488-.543-.683).

The pitching has been lights out, however.  Daly City’s starting five: 

Nathan Yan: 2-0, 0.50 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 16.5 K’s per 9
Whitney Esguerra: 1-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10.9 K’s per 9
Terrence Zhao (injured, out for playoffs): 1-0, 2.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 8.7 K’s per 9
Samantha Chin: 1-0, 2.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.3 K’s per 9
Sean Wade: 2-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 7.1 K’s per 9

The pitching has been so good, the bullpen’s barely been tapped at all, meaning Daly City has a well-rested reserve compared to Pentax.

Pentax’s star hitter Walter Vanish has been ailing so far, with a .236-.300-.382 line in the postseason.  They’ve been buoyed mostly by two very strong performances by RF Simeon Sarvis (.298-.386-.660, 14RBI, 16 Runs) and CF Steffen Richardson (.373-.439-.824, 16RBI, 12 Runs).  The rest of the lineup has been downright abysmal, and right now Pentax is relying on both of those players heavily to come up with some kind of offense.

Their pitching is worse than average, and while they have a clutch workhorse in Augusto Figueroa, who’s thrown 39 innings in 5 games this postseason, his ERA is still a middling 4.62.

Prediction: Daly City, 4-1

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The 2006 Playoffs: Divisional Series Recap

Game Recaps

Tuesday, October 12th – tensions are high on the eve of the league championship round of the 2006 Monti Bizarro Baseball postseason.  From eight teams down to four, the teams here are more evenly matched, and the stakes higher than ever.

As expected, both the Daly City Montis and the Microsoft Longhorns blazed past their Round 1 opponents.  Daly City was dominant with a set of five strong pitching performances:

Game 1, W8-3: Whitney Esguerra, 7 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 4 walks, 8 K’s on 108 pitches
Game 2, W6-2: Terrence Zhao, 7 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk, 7 K’s on 108 pitches
Game 3, W9-1: Nathan Yan, 9 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 1 walk, 19 K’s on 152 pitches
Game 4, L3-4 (12 innings) : Samantha Chin, 6 innings, 3 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, 6 K’s on 96 pitches
Game 5, W9-2: Sean Wade, 8 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 1 walk, 7 K’s on 132 pitches

After being dominated for three games, the United States managed to avoid the sweep by mounting a stubborn upset bid in game 4 – they scored 3 runs on Chin, were held scoreless by Khan for 3 innings, but finally came away with the win in the bottom of the 12th inning, when third baseman Juan Truex hit a homer off of reliever Alvina Chu.  Nonetheless, Sean Wade came in Game 5 and dominated, carrying a shutout through 8 2/3 innings and winning the game.

Microsoft had a similarly easy time with the Asia Giants, winning the series 4-1.  They’ve been lead by a monstrous postseason run by SS Maul Foundation, who batted .579-.591-.842 with 5 RBI and 6 Runs in the five Round 1 games.  Staff ace Sherwood Bertsch, who was disappointing in the regular season, has stepped up so far in the playoffs, winning both his starts with a 2.25 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, going a long way towards compensating for the loss of SP Kernel Tyranus.

Over in the Shinto-World League, as expected the tight matchup between the Pentax Shake Reducers and Paris Forfeiters went down to the wire in a 4-3 matchup, in which FOUR out of the seven games were 1-run decisions.

Game 1 went into extra innings, as starter August Figueroa blew a 3-1 lead in the 8th inning, sending the game into extra innings.  Having thrown 141 pitches over 9 innings, many questioned the Pentax manager for leaving in his starter.  Going into extras, Paris DH Jeff Borum hit a HR off of Pentax’s shaky closer Gonzalo Bolanos in the 11th inning to take a 1-0 lead.

Things bounced right back to Paris’ court the next game, however.  Pentax SP Moises Silva was working on a 1-run gem going into the 8th with a dominant 8-1 lead.  Things started to fall apart, however, as Paris mounted a comeback bid, scoring 2 runs off of back-to-back Ernesto Monalto-Luis Sanchez homers in the 8th, and a BIG 4-run 9th inning, pulling them within 1 run.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  Pentax’s shaky reliever Gonzalo Bolanos closed out the game and gave Pentax the win, despite giving up FOUR runs in the 9th inning.

Game 3 was another tight matchup, with Robert Arredondo pitching an edge-of-your-seats 7-inning, 3 run performance that took up 111 pitches and saw 9 hits and 2 walks (1.57 WHIP!).  2B Christian Lee provided all the offense they needed, however, with a pair of two-run homers to give Paris the 4-3 win.

Entering into Game 4 after three consecutive 1-run matches, everyone was expecting another tight game.  Instead, Paris surprised everyone, and the Shake Reducers most of all, by exploding for a 9-0 shutout win.  Christian Lee hit yet another pair of 2-run homers to lead the team again with 4 RBIs, but the story of the night was Paris’ phenom Rex White, facing Pentax’s ace Augusto Figueroa yet again and shutting down the Pentax offense with an 8 2/3, 0-run start.

At this point, Pentax was put into serious doubt.  Paris was hot off the heels of a 9-0 shutout performance, their best hitter was on a 4-HR, 8-RBI tear in the past two games, and their hero Augusto Figueroa had just suffered an embarrassing 6-run loss in one of the most critical games of the postseason.  With the momentum Paris had, there didn’t seem to be much hope for Pentax.  They turned to Moises Silva, who again broke out with a dominant start, bringing a 1-run game into the 8th inning.  With another commanding 6-1 lead, it seemed as if Silva had this game squarely locked up.  Paris rallied however, and at the end of the eighth had answered back with 4 runs to make it a 1-run game.  Turning yet again to Gonzalo Bolanos, the Pentax closer pitched a 1-2-3 9th for the save, ensuring Pentax would live to play another day.

Things began falling apart for the Forfeiters, who after Game 4 seemed to be in such a dominating position, with a 3-1 series lead.  Game 6 saw the utter implosion of the Paris pitching staff – starter Robert Arrendodo lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up 6 runs, and the subsequent relievers were equally abysmal, giving up a collective 7 runs over the next 5 2/3 innings.  The Pentax hitters had a field day, led by RF Simeon Sarvis, who had a 4-5 day with 5 RBI and 3 runs.  Pentax won the game 14-3, and all of a sudden the series was tied 3-3, and headed to Game 7.

Here it was, Game 7, and both teams were throwing out their best.  Pentax had their hero pitcher Augusto Figueroa on the mound, who had dominated before but definitely showed his age in the last matchup, where he gave up 6 runs.  On the visiting side, Paris had their 22-year-old boy wonder Rex White, who dominated Pentax the last time around with a near complete game shutout.  Things seemed to be going Paris’ way at first, when they scored 3 runs in the 4th, while White went into the 5th with another shutout bid at hand.  Things fell apart, however, as the Pentax hit hard with a 4-run 5th inning, and not letting up even after White had been taken out, tagging the Paris relievers for 2 runs each in the 6th and 7th.  At the end of the day, Paris was up 8-3, and Augusto Figueroa had a complete game victory, proving why he’s still one of the game’s best.

Although Canon’s 4-2 series win doesn’t show it, they were perhaps the most dominant team all the way through the first round.    Right out of the gate, they slammed down the Las Vegas Valleys on a 2-hit, 7 2/3 shutout start by ace Justin Ramage.  #2 ace Robert Bone picked up right where he left off with a dominant 1-run start for an 11-1 win.  Out of nowhere, however, the Valleys came back to win the next two games, both by 4-3, one run victories.  This apparently woke some sort of sleeping giant, as Canon exploded the next game with a 20-3 victory, with Skywalker’s 2-HR, 5RBI performance and SS Antonio Nevarez’s 5RBI day leading the way.  The Image Stabilizers wrapped up the series on a low-key 6-2 victory.

Round 2: Microsoft Longhorns vs. Daly City Montis
The top two teams in the league meet in perhaps the real world championship round.  Without Microsoft’s ace Kernel Tyranus and their slugger (and league HR leader) Jabba Desilijic Ture, this may very well be the match that could’ve been, but nevertheless Microsoft brings a strong lineup and a so-so pitching staff to the table.  Microsoft outscored Asia 28-19 in Round 1, while Daly City was 35-12, but Microsoft’s offense has looked unstoppable at times, with SS Maul Foundation (.579-.591-.842) and Boba Fett (.409-.409-.636) leading the way.  Daly City has been no slouch either, and despite their star hitter, Derek Lew, struggling at the plate (.182-.174-.364), other light-hitting members of the batting corps have been surprisingly good, including 3B Joanna Maung (.591-.625-.727) and CF Tiffany Ho (.565-.583-.870).  Surprisingly, or perhaps not, Daly City’s playoff hero has been Francis Chen, who is once again on his October tear with a .333-.444-1.067 performance, leading the team with 3 HR, 6 runs, and 7 RBI. Pitching-wise, the series is hands-down in the favor of the Daly City Montis, especially without Microsoft’s star (and #2 pitcher in the league) Kernel Tyranus.  Even Microsoft’s #1, Sherwood Bertsch, seems a shaky bet to be able to beat any of Daly City’s starting 5.
Prediction: Daly City, 4-2

Round 2: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Canon Image Stabilizers: In the David vs. Goliath battle out in the Shinto-World League, Canon seems to be firing on all cylinders after their dominating performances over Las Vegas.  Their 48-14 run differential in Round 1 was by far the best of any team, and it dwarfs the 41-36 performance by Pentax in the 1st round.  Pentax has a fleet of hitters firing on all cylinders.  However, the production from Canon’s Gates Skywalker alone (.450-.556-1.550, 14 RBIs, 8 Runs) nearly dwarfs all of them combined.  Pentax still’s got a fighting chance, however, with Canon’s all-world catcher Francis Cote on the DL, along with two of their starting pitchers.
Prediction: Canon, 4-2

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