Volume 54/October 1996/Lancaster, PA
After all of the hubbub at the beginning of the season with regards to the new rule changes, the 1996 Summer League has to be viewed as a success. Currently six of the seven teams are contending for playoff spots in the new expanded format. Marlboro, which seemed a remote possibility at best, is tied for the second spot in the Schmank division, sparking a renewed interest in the game for that tobacco-farming town. This late playoff run might be all that franchise needs to come back for another season in 1997.
The Rules Committee should be commended for a few other changes for the 1996 season. Coming up with the games played rule was a stroke of genius that certainly saved a lot of debate for the years to come. The modified stealing rules will most likely be modified even more, perhaps every year, until a good formula is acquired. While the playoff formula has kept a lot of teams interested, it too will most likely be a year to year deal, as there almost certainly will not be seven teams next year (in fact there may only be five). If that is the case, I think the owners would push for a one division league, with the top two teams going on to the World Series.
A key note of interest to the owners this year: Sparked by the new Keystone franchise, beer sales were up league-wide. Keystone blew away all league records in this department. Owner John Bryant said, "We had a different promotion every night, just trying to get our fans drunk. We had them bring in a case of emptys and they got a half price ticket; we had the 'Get Drunk and Try and Look Like Jay Buhner' night in conjunction with Yuma; we had an exciting 'Chugging While Doing the Macarena' night'; and the ever popular 'Bring in a Guest Owner, Get Him Drunk, and Set Him Up with the Most Hideous Woman We Could Find' night. By the way, you're welcome Tommy!"
Once again I am reluctantly awarding manager of the year to Greg Nims. Yuma had a typical year for this franchise, which according to their win-loss record has proven to be a winning formula. First in defense, second in pitching, and keep manufacturing enough runs to win equals another probable playoff appearance, and they are the current favorite for this year's Series. Why that formula has not been copied more should be the question that the owners are asking themselves, considering the year-in year-out success of this franchise.
A subtle reminder to the league owners: The Cy Young award is for pitchers, MVP is for players. I ask our readers, how could the league's most valuable player only play about once a week?
Here's a "hats off" to notable single game performers so far this season:
That's it for now, any rebuttals will be ignored.
TOP TEN SAYINGS OVERHEARD DURING THE '96 SUMMER LEAGUE
AS TOLD BY DAVID LETTERMAN
Nims' Whims Don't Bring Winsa look at the best APBA teams by the SL Journal Historical Society
When Hannibal Cannibal GM/CEO/SKAT Greg Nims boasted he had drafted "the best draft league team ever," he opened himself up to immense ridicule. With the Cannibals snugly in 2nd place in the BL West with just the third best record in Continuous League, it has become obvious that the flamboyant owner was misquoted. Hannibal and all other white elephants aside, the question remains, who really is the best draft league team of all-time?
Nims offers the first candidate for consideration--the "famed" 55 offense team of the '87 Hannibal Cannibal football squad. While a 55 offense is nothing to spit at, Nims' fondness for the majestic number has obviously clouded an important point; this team was not that good. This reporter recalls the Cannibals just above .500 (near the LaBatt's line without Elway's miracle game) and unable to take home the league title. How good is 55 offense anyway in just a 4-team league?
The other offering by Nims as the best team ever is his Strat-O-Matic Basketball "Killer Bees" Hannibal Cannibal squad. Earned the Killer Bees nickname because of Bird, Barkley, Benoit Benjamin, Bill Cartwright and the Blazers in the backcourt. Blah, blah, blah. First of all, arguing strato vs. APBA is like arguing Flatlander's Valets against Twin Orchard's. There is no legitimate base of comparison. Secondly, who were the master strategists Nims had to face? Jeff Winckler and Kirk Nuss. Raise the bar and try again Greg.
SL Journal has concluded several other notable draft league teams deserve consideration . . .
The early '80s APBA Basketball dynasties of Ken Klein's were probably the first of the best teams of all-time. As thoroughly dominant as these teams were, it's hard to give them the nod as best ever because as nearly 15 years have past, actual records and number of titles won have been lost. Ken and his competitors have no clue as to who was even on these teams. But all agree, these teams kicked ass.
Ken's '89 Detroit Hitmen of the 10-team Led Zeppelin Baseball League are certainly one of the great teams of the past. Von Hayes, Carney Lansford, Julio Franco, Brian Harper, Robin Yount, Andre Dawson, Jack Clark, Bo Jackson (batting 8th!), and a Guillen/Elster platoon at SS produced a hit-and-run and power combination (no one coaches power better than Ken) that has never been equaled. With Dave Stewart and Mike Scott anchoring the staff, the Hitmen were able to win nearly 40 games in the 54 game season. Even more remarkably, this was the stretch run in the 162 game '87-'89 LZ League. The Hitmen had a huge lead going into the final 54 game installment and needed only a .500 record to maintain their lead. After their remarkable '89 season, the Hitmen murdered their opposition.
The Hitmen GM suggests a different team from that season as the best ever. "The Chicago Convicts had an awesome lineup," said Ken. Rickey Henderson, Mark Grace, Howard Johnson and his 5 power numbers, Harold Baines, Lou Whitaker, rookie Ken Griffey Jr., a Gary Gaetti/Luis Salazar 3B platoon, BJ Surhoff ("a +0 who threw like a +6," said Ken), and league MVP Spike Owen provided the pop while Saberhagen, Garrelts, Magrane, Reuschel, Gregg Olson, and rubber-armed Juan Agosto provided pitching prowess. The Convicts also boasted a tremendous bench, led by "the fastest white man on the planet" Rex Hudler, Henry Cotto, and budding superstar Jay Buhner. "It was the pitching that set them apart from Detroit," said Ken. "One third of Detroit's losses that year were to Chicago. Those games were all tooth-and-nail contests between superior teams."
The '81 Strike League produced yet another dominant team for Ken. Rival managers Steve Swinea, Keith and Chris Klein, Bill Dungjen, and "Swamp Rat" Todd Lyter faced a squad that went 15-10, 18-7, and 18-7 in the three separate seasons. A draft day coup landed NL Home Run Champ Mike Schmidt and runner-up George Foster, and AL co-leader Bobby Grich. Ken went on to hoodwink 9-year old brother Keith, taking Eddie Murray off his hands for a song and dance and Mike Hargrove. "All my big hits came from my catcher, Bo Diaz," recalls Ken, who drew the ire of other managers by always referring to him as Bo-dil-i-o. A cumulative 51-24 record in the first large scale draft league makes this team one for the ages, but the success was not without problems, as Ken admits, "my success put an end to league."
Swinea, Dungjen, and Lyter knew what Ken was capable of after he amassed just one loss in three 8-game seasons of a 1981 football draft league. Led by Montana, Monk, and Jewerel Thomas (?), Ken cleaned up. "Todd and Bill, and 5th owner Mike Anderson had played APBA Football before, but they didn't know the game like Steve and I," admitted Ken. "Todd was the only one who beat me." This was the old APBA football game, though, and the competitive balance favored all who knew the value of a card loaded with 15s like Jewerel Thomas's. "I was as deliberate as Sherwin Leff on the hill. Jewerel on 1st down, Jewerel on 2nd down."
The Dover Divers of '90-'92 Led Zeppelin Baseball League did not have the talent to be amongst this list, but their Vitale Division Championship ranks as one of the most unlikely stories in APBA draft league lore and earns them a special mention. Scrubs abounded on Dover. In the three years, the team relied on such CF scrubs as injury-riddled Ellis Burks, Gary Pettis, Chico Walker, Darryl Hamilton, and an over-the-hill Robin Yount. Jim Gott in the pen, Jay Bell at SS, Mike LaValliere at C, and Hal Morris at 1B provided more mediocrity. Their lone star was CF Rickey Henderson, but Hendo hurt the team by being a J-2 each season, eligible for only 126 of the 162 games. Roberto Alomar was decent each year, but never outstanding. Their lone OF arm belonged to APBA legend Jay Buhner, but Buhner was a Jay-4 in '90 and a .200 hitting, .300 slugging bust in '91 and '92. "I got good years out of Eddie Murray in '90 and HoJo in '91, but nothing too spectacular," said GM Keith Klein. "The reason they won, I suppose, was my handling of the pitching staff." Control freaks Billy Swift and Bob Tewksbury mixed with Angel southpaws Jim Abbott and Mark Langston gave the Divers a solid pitching core, but like everything else associated with this team, they were not spectacular. "I really don't know how they won it all. It was all bullshit!" exclaimed one challenger.
. . . SL Journal honorable mention: the Calumet City Killers and their killer relief core (in RF, batting 6th, Jay Buhner); the '90 Independence Days of the Led Zeppelin league; the Continuous League's Montana Muff Divers; and the '87 Decorah 69ers (Kosar to JT Smith) of the Keith/Greg ditch 8th period Football League.
SL Journal says to you Mr. Nims, learn your APBA history or you'll be doomed to repeat a season like the Grand Rapids Egg Grinders suffered through in the '95 (C) Summer League.
The Buzz Around the League
MALONEY MOVES!by Bo Mont
SASKATOON--Chaos is a word that accurately describe the situation here in Saskatchewan. Owner Tommy Maloney just announced that he will be packing up his team following the completion of the 1996 season, and will move it to suburban Houston, and will be joining a rival league. In his announcement last night, Mr. Maloney cited numerous atrocities in the league which were the last straws as far as he was concerned. "I'm mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore," he was heard to utter before going into recluse.
Tommy Maloney was one of the higher profile owners in the league. He seemed to always be actively looking for a TV or radio show that he could host to show off his team, and other interests. Maloney, for the most part, was well-liked by the other owners and players, but seemed to have somewhat of an eccentric streak in him. At draft time, he a week off to 'bond' with his dog. He also confused his players. He would periodically put them on diets, and then on binges. He would also postpone home games for months at a time, just to run his infamous 'July 4th Weekend 75 Game Mother Humpin Jamboree Extravaganza Palooza.' "I put all I had into this league for at least two weeks this year. I just don't know what these guys expect from me."
Most people consider the Maloney tirade against the league to be 'just little Tommy,' but there may be some truth to some of his statements. Mr. Maloney talked about that week off with his dog, and coming back to what seemed to be an entirely new team. He openly criticized his GM for drafting him "a bunch of fucking home run hitters." He was also known to dislike league strategy rules. "I like to hit and run with a runner on second, and I like Dunston to steal at least four bases every game. This league violates every anti-trust rule in the book, and my lawyer Allen Gerard is going to meet me to talk about it."
Where Maloney takes his team now is not much of a surprise to anyone who knows him. He signed an interim manager (so far unnamed) to play out the remaining 18 games for him. Our sources say his new team will be the Beaumont Gypsys, and play as an independent in the Lucassouth Strato League. One anonymous SL owner scoffed when he heard the news, saying, "Wasn't his dog named Schottzie? Didn't he call somebody a Nazi?" Regardless of what people thought of him, Maloney and his Thumpers have moved to a different neck of the woods, and the words "Wake up Tommy, you won," are just a memory.
originally published in October 1996 by Chris and Keith Klein.