Fair play to Pittsburgh Pirates owner Curt Schilling for reaching deep into the recesses of time and coming up with a stopper in Jesse Tannehill, who denied the All-Time Jays a chance to tie for the best record in imaginary baseball.
Jesse Tannehill? Nope, never heard of him, until yesterday. He was a lefty control artist who pitched for the Pirates, New York Highlanders and Boston Americans at the turn of the 20th century. Score one for Schilling. The old-timey moundsman flung a three-hit shutout to top Roy Halladay and Co. 5-0 in a matchup of the top pitchers on the celestial circuit. Doc's ERA took a beating, shooting all the way from 0.90 to 1.25, which still leads the league (thank you very much).
That was just a temporary setback; at 19-9, the ATJs are rolling, with the rest of the offence starting to pick up the slack behind the Mad Men of Moseby, Alomar and Delgado. Sun Media's veteran baseball writer (and fellow Kingstonian) Bob Elliott, captured the spirit of the thing yesterday with a post on the SHL for his indispensable Canadian Baseball Network. Missing a chance to sweep one of the established franchises, especially Schilling's, should not sting too much.
That 19-9 record is the best among the 12 franchises which began play in 1961. The ATJs are holding their own with 9-7 record vs. the charter franchises. Far from letting down against lesser teams as their real-life counterparts have been known to do (perception is reality, friends), they're 10-2 vs. the franchises who began play in 1961. Here's some highlights:
Clutchitude: It's a word, look it up. The ATJs are 9-2 in one-run games, which, reasonably speaking, means they are overdue for an evenout soon. In the here and now, utilityman Kelly Gruber picked a perfect time for his first home run, a walk-off job off Big Bob Veale in a 5-4 win over the Schilling's stacked Pirates on May 7. They won't being calling him Kelly Buber.
Gruber's big blast made a winner of Dave Stieb, who hung in vs. a Pirates lineup with seven Hall of Famers in the starting lineup (every position except catcher and pitcher).
Express this: A player can appear on more than one team, so the ATJs got to lay a lickin' on one Lynn Nolan Ryan twice in one week. On April 29, Texas Nolan didn't get past the third inning in a 10-2 romp, going to an early shower after the good guys put a 7-spot up on the board. Four days later, Houston Nolan did better, but couldn't match, Harry Leroy Halladay scattered seven hits across eight innings in a tense 3-1 game.
The two-Martinez lunch: Since players can appear on more than one team, the Boston version of Pedro Martinez and his Montreal incarnation are each tied for second in the SHL in strikeouts, with Toronto Roger Clemens.
Mad Men: Hughsy will probably hate seeing his all-time favourite show co-opted by an extreme nerd, but the all lefty-swinging top of the order of leadoff man Lloyd Moseby, No. 2 hitter Robbie Alomar and Carlos Delgado in the 3-spot deserve a nickname. They are carrying the offence:
Moseby: .333/.387/.447, 21 runs scoredMushy middle: Third sacker Troy Glaus is batting a brilliant .147 with zero home runs (at this rate, he'll be hitting behind the pitcher). Gruber and Rance Mullliniks might yet re-create their job-sharing role at third base.
Alomar: .325/.366/.439, 24 runs, 15-of-19 on steals
Delgado: .284/.373/.642, team-high eight homers
Injury report: None. It's a miracle. The Cardinals have already had Stan Musial and Dennis Eckersley each go down; the Eck apparently "was hurt while cutting a brownie out of a pan and sustained an undisclosed injury."
Looking ahead to May: Thirteen of the next 19 games after against those expansion teams, including a three-game set vs. Johan Keri's Montreal Expos next week.
Thanks again to Seamheads' Mike Lynch for organizing the league, and to Bob Elliott for writing a nice article. You know what would have been even nicer? Winning both games vs. Schilling's team, but bloggers can't be choosers.