Before getting into the ASFBL results, let’s reflect on the craziness of actual MLB: The Twins have lost 18 consecutive playoff games, the Reds went 22 innings without scoring, and the mighty Miami Marlins have literally never lost a playoff series. Things I couldn’t simulate if I wanted to! Here’s how the ASFBL went:
MILWAUKEE TAKES THE DODGERS THE DISTANCE: No fun being the #8 seed and having to take on the team with the best record in the league, but Bret Anderson beat the playoff-snakebitten Clayton Kershaw 2-1 in game one and they took a 2-1 series lead by walking off in 11 innings in game 3. But the Dodgers put up 11 runs over the next 2 games and clinched at home 4-1. Chris Zewiske has a lifetime winning record and has made the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years…he’s finished in the top 3-WOR places 3 times and including a +14 in his second year in the league…and he’s been in the league since 2001. He’s finished better than the actual club three times as often as he’s fallen behind them…Chris is just a great ASFBLer with 19 seasons in the league; great work for a great guy!
PITTSBURGH PUSHES THE BRAVES: After taking a 6-5 loss in game 1 the Pirates shows some fight and beat the Braves 7-2, tying the series up and giving them a combined 12-8 scoring advantage over the first 2 games. The Braves pitching then clamped down and held the Bucs to 1 run over the next 18 innings, with 3 pitchers combining for a 5-hit shutout in the clincher. Mike Mendoza, in true Bull Durham fashion, announced is presence in the league with authority and had a heckuva run as a rookie owner, with his +WOR figure especially impressive. Here’s looking to a long and successful ASFBL run, Mike!
CUBS OUTLAST THE REDS: Neither team advanced in real life and something had to give; both ASFBL teams substantially out-performed their MLB counterparts. The Cubs took the first 2 games before the Reds shut them down for 2 runs over the next 2 games to even the series. The crucial final game was in Cincinnati, but an upward-adjusting Sonny Gray was out-dueled by Yu Darvis and by the time Wade Miley pitched 3 scoreless innings to close it out the damage was done and the Cubs advanced. Raph Malveaux has one of the highest scrabble-value last names in league history, had 6 top-8 WOR finishes in his first 16 seasons including first place with +30 in 2015, and is a Red guy to his core never having managed anyone else. He’s a frequent facebooker and, well, a guy with 16 seasons under his belt. Looking forward to having you back at the Cincinnati helm in 2021!
OLD-SCHOOL SERIES GOES TO THE PADRES: In the only real offensive display of the series Adam’s Phils scored 8 runs in the first game. Neither team scores more than 3 in any other game but the Padres had the small ball game down in the closest-seeded series in the NL. Adam Symonds took a team from a city he hasn’t lived in for the first time this year…he’s ahd more double-digit positive WOR seasons (7) than total negative WORs (3)…he won his division in his first season (2003) and never looked back and capped a 3-season playoff run between 2013 and 2015 with a series championship. A good guy having a tough health run, the posts of he and his daughter are a constant bright spot. He didn’t advance this week, but he was able to use the phrase “Ellie, can you get me another beer?” for the first time. We should all be so lucky as we age. Adam is a great baseball fan and a better friend.
NLDS: Dodgers host Padres, Braves host Cubs.
JAYS UPSET REIGNING CHAMPS! Having won one more playoff game than the actual Indians, the Indian hitters slammed into a Ryu-shaped wall in game 4 after getting taking a 1-0 loss in game 3. One pitch decided game 3 as the only run scored was a solo shot by Alejandro Kirk. Steven Skrovan is an A+ guy who has had an enviable media career in that most all of his work has had both integrity and success — a professional comedy writer, his daily facebook recaps of lockdown days (we’re on 200, I think) are worth the effort. A native Clevelander, he can also tell you the off days and travel schedule of the Indians at any point in the season. And as a testament to his generosity, he usually shares a seat in the Cleveland owner’s box with me every time the club rolls through Anaheim. This is his 9th year in the league and after 5 campaigns with little success he’s made the playoffs for 5 straight years. Another great one, Steve!
TWINS BREAK THE CURSE: Tim Walsh did what the actual club hasn’t been able to do in 18 tries and not only won a game but the series. The Astros took a 1-game lead before the Twin Hitters took over, and they broke through in a big way for a 14-3 game 4 win that had 5 different players homer. Jim Casey literally saved this league from extinction in the early 2000s by pushing me forward when I was ready to throw in the towel, and materially contributing to making the league happen. He’s been in the league since 1995 — that’s 25 seasons — and in the playoffs for each of the last 4. He’s been in the world series twice and won the WOR championship with the Cubs and passed 100 wins on three occasions. Jim is they kind of guy that forms the backbone of the ASFBL, and it’s been great having him, his good nature, and his sense of humor this season. Congrats on a great year, Jim!
BALTIMORE BESTS ANAHEIM IN A SERIES OF OVERACHIEVERS: Winning the first game was a curves in the ALWS, and the Angels rode Jacob deGrom’s afrm to a 4-2 game 1 win on the road. The Baltimore bullpen out-did Andrew Haney in game 4 as the top seed advanced. I have seen more baseball games in person with Greg Acthen than any other person on the planet, he sends me books about baseball out of the blue that shape my thinking about life, and we can share 1-word jokes about something that happened 10 years ago without missing a beat. He is the only league owner who has twice faced the question: Can you use a pitcher who is still under his real IP but is now deceased? Life demands and hobby interest wax and wane, but Greg has been a fixture in the league since 1999 and was the 2012 league champ. I’m really glad he came back for another year.
CHISOX ADVANCE IN 4-5 MATCHUP: The Yankees became the 4th of 4 AL playoff teams to win game 1 and lose the series…after winning game one 7-6 they didn’t get their bats working until game 4, and in that contest the Chisox got to Chad Green for 4 tuns in 5 hits. Codi Heuer got a 2-inning close-out that didn’t register as a save. Mark Yee ranks 5th in all-time ASFBL wins with 2,034 and he only trails me, Leo, and Rick Wynne. One of the very first to sign up for the league, I can still remember his envelope arriving with the registration info back in 1992; by 1996 he was the league champ. He’s made the playoffs with 6 different teams, and has managed over 4,000 ASFBL games. Literally the only bowling results I follow at all are Mark’s posts on facebook, and I’ll take him over Jesus Quintana any time. He’s been in the league for more years than the combined ages of my children. He’s a fixture in the league, and it was great to have him back for a 28th year.
ALDS: Toronto steals the top seed and hosts the Chisox; The Twins host Baltimore. Only one upset in the NL but with the top 2 seeds gone the AL is wide open! Next set of series are 7 games. I’ll get the schedule entered by tomorrow and ask the owners to submit lineups by Tuesday…next series is 7 games, and by this time next week we should be crowning a new league champ.